Cerebral Flotsam And Jetsam - My Mental Maelstrom

06
Jul
2023
15:56

Threads Is Here

Let’s talk “Threads” day 1! Threads is Instagram’s new Twitter-like text-based social media platform. I had heard surprisingly little about it so I was totally shocked when suddenly it was live yesterday. By the time I signed up at around 10PM or so, I was already around the 7.6 millionth account (you get a badge on your Instagram profile telling you this information, which can be turned off if you wish).

I have really enjoyed my initial foray there. And big kudos to having something like 10 million people sign up and the app remained functional if maybe a little sluggish, but it held up! There has been some confusion and weirdness but still pretty great for such a huge simultaneous launch.

The first thing I noticed after signing up was that there were a bunch of follow requests awaiting my approval, but then other ones were just automatic. As far as I can tell, any requests that came in before I signed up, I had to approve, but any that came in after I did not (since I have a public account anyone can follow). I wondered how really big account would deal with logging on for the first time and having a million follow requests to approve, since I imagine most people do what I did which was the one-click “follow everyone I follow on Instagram” option.

I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve seen there. At least in these golden early hours, it seems like a lot of really cool fun people with a really enjoyable atmosphere. Now the developers have made it clear that this is still in the very early stages with bare bones features so there will be a lot more coming. For example, at the moment you have a single “Home” feed. It’s algorithmic and there’s no way to choose “chronological” or “Just see people I’m following.” You will see lots of folks you aren’t following. There IS a setting however, if you dig into profile (bottom right)>settings (top right)>notifications>Threads and replies where you can set “First threads” to “From people you follow” instead of the default “from everyone.”

While normally I am big fan of the “People I follow, in chronological order” feed, I actually found myself enjoying the algorithmic feed and discovering cool, fun, new people to play with. I was surprised how much I liked it as my gut instinct was “Nope, hope they fix that soon.”

At the moment there’s no hashtags, no thread search (you can only search for people), no DMs, no edit post function (probably my #1 complaint), and a lot of other missing functions that I’m sure will come. Still, from what I’ve seen it seems very well received for the most part with people posting about how addicted they already are and how much fun they’re having.

Another common complaint is that by default the app vibrates every time a new notification comes in if you have the app open and are using it though it’s not obvious why it’s vibrating. I have notifications completely off on my iPhone for the app and it still does this. The only solution I found to go to profile>notifications and turn on the “Pause all” option which will only let you pause for up to 8 hours at a time.

When I logged on this morning, I found that weirdly I couldn’t see any notifications or replies that were more than few hours old, which I imagine has to be a glitch. I easily imported my IG profile info, and my verification transferred over as well. A few concerns that have been raised are that the app does ask for a lot of data permissions which makes privacy police VERY uncomfortable. Also once you sign up, you cannot delete your Threads account without also deleting your Instagram account. They are (at least for now) irrevocably linked.

Will Threads be the new “Twitter” over the trash fire that is now Elon’s abomination, as well as over BlueSky (which seemed to me to have the most interest), or Mastodon (which has not had a hugely wide adoption sadly)? Only time will tell, but if I was a betting man, I think I’d put my money on Threads. Why? First and foremost, people hate change. They want the path of least resistance and Threads offers that for anyone who is already in Instagram, which is a whole lotta people. While I personally found Mastodon not all that complicated, it just just different enough to put a whole lot of people off. They don’t understand “instances” or exactly where they should sign up or what that even means. BlueSky is still invitation only so most folks are still just waiting for their chance to get in and even try it (it’s also still in the very early beta phase). It’s supposedly going to connect to the decentralized Fediverse (if that’s meaningless gobbledegook to you, you are not alone, it’s still a very new and confusing to most), just like Mastodon and BlueSky. And admittedly it was very nice to just be able to auto-follow everyone I follow on IG, and already accrue almost 3K followers on a brand new platform, I’m guessing because of many of my 89K IG followers using that “auto-follow” option.

At the moment, it’s definitely a fun new toy that has a very enjoyable vibe. I’m definitely very interested to see how it all shakes out in the long term.

20
Jun
2023
14:11

Dream Theatre 75

At the end of night full of kinda crappy dreams, this was the finale. I was with a girl I dated in the early 90’s. We were at some kind of school dance in a weirdly laid out gymnasium type room where the elevated stands took up like half of the small court area and almost reached all the way widthwise across to the other wall and kind of half blocked the one entrance. She and I saw this girl in the stands in a bright blue sort of puffy Cinderella-esque dress pull out two razor blades with a malicious look. On that cue, several other girls in matching dresses of different colors pulled out razor blades too.

We retreated toward the door and found that some others had already found it was barred shut from the other side. As the razor girls came toward us, I grabbed a metal folding chair and swung it at the hands of the girl in blue hoping to disarm her and tried to retreat more. At that point I wasn’t sure what happened but it appeared that they had been overwhelmed by the rest of the crowd in the gym who I presumed had taken them down and got control of thing.

Next scene was my girlfriend and I laying on a bed in the corner right by the entrance to the gym as the Principal stood by the doors as someone unbarred them from the other side and opened them. I said “That’s pretty unsafe only having one set of doors in or out!” She agreed. My girl and I just laid there on this random gym corner bed recovering from the ordeal.

14
Jun
2023
13:59

Simply The Best

I’m someone who’s always looking for the “best” or “most optimal” choice. When it come to literally anything. I often research “the best…” when buying something. Anything. New electric toothbrush? DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF “BEST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES!” Is there possibly a “better” pillow out there than mine? RESEARCH!

But it extends to much more ephemeral things too. My hair. I kind of like my hair longer but I also like it shorter. So then I think “Well shorter is definitely much easier so that’s probably the way to go,” but then somehow worry about what if longer is “better” somehow? Like if you polled the entire world what if longer came out on top and would therefore be better and appeal to more people? Same with my beard. I like my mostly silvery beard but I also like being clean shaven (and look about 10 years younger for what that’s worth). But again, somehow I search for an “optimal” answer knowing damn well there isn’t one. It’s all subjective.

Mainly I just find this an interesting personality quirk of mine and wonder where it stems from psychologically. It has its perks certainly lends to my analytical mind and why I worked in QA for many years, but it can also kind of be exhausting spending so much brain power analyzing and trying to decide something where there is no definitive “right” answer.

06
Jun
2023
1:06

Dating History Patterns

For some reason I was just thinking about my dating history and the patterns that appear amused me.

“Girlfriend” #1 (~1987 I think, all dates will be hazy approximate guesses; really just a first kiss and a couple of weeks of casually “dating”): met doing a children’s theatre production of Tom Sawyer with ‘Magination Station

#2 (~’87 or ’88?): also just a quick casual thing that barely really qualifies (though I did write a kick ass song that would make you think it was some epic love affair): met doing a play (I can’t remember which one).

#3 (~1989): Met doing children’s theatre at ‘Magination Station

4 (~1991): Met when I was the villain and she was the heroine in the melodrama “Caught In The Villain’s Web” at StageCenter.

#5 (~1993): another super casual, occasional makeout scenario. Met doing dinner theatre.

#6 (~1993): Met in some theater production. Maybe “Smoke On The Mountain” with The Aggie Players (I wasn’t an Aggie though, just born and raised there).

#7 (~1994): Met when we both worked at Texas Renaissance Festival.

#8 (~1995): Met when we both worked at Sears (This one is the biggest anomaly).

#9 (~1998): Met on the internet. I can’t remember where exactly. A musicians group maybe as we were both musicians? She lived (and still lives in Australia). This was the super early days of internet.

#10 (~2001): Met on the internet on a message board for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. She lived in England. We quickly started dating. She visited here. I visited there and we got engaged in the airport in Scotland waiting for my plane back home. She moved here and we were married for 8 years.

#11 (~2009): We went to school together from elementary through high school but never really knew each other well. Re-met on FB around the time of our 30th reunion and lots of folks were reconnecting. She lived in another state.

#12 (~2011): Met on FB through a mutual friend’s post.

#13 (2013): Met in a production of Macbeth at City Theater.

The End.

I’m social media friends with about half of them. Many of the others aren’t on social media or we lost contact, but no bad blood with any of them.

10
Mar
2023
16:05

Tips for IEM cleaning

As a professional musician, I’ve used IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) for many years now. They let me hear everything great as well as protect my hearing from loud stage levels, and they’re especially great for me since I’ve used digital modeling gear for decades now and don’t use an on-stage amp most of the time.

One difficulty with them is keeping them clean. Obviously this starts with your ears. I usually use an ear irrigation bottle to clean my ears before a gig. Usually just with water in the shower. Sometimes for a deep cleaning, I’ll pour a capful of hydrogen peroxide in one ear at a time, and let it do its work for a few minutes before turning over and letting it drain out on a tower. Please note I am not a doctor and I would definitely consult an audiologist or ENT before just listening to a guy on the internet.

Now despite trying to keep my ears clean, sometime your IEMs will still get some wax in them. They usually come with a small cleaning tool but it doesn’t go in very deep. Sometimes at a gig I’ll feel like one of my IEMs has stopped working but it’s always just blocked up and clearing the blockage brings everything back to normal. Recently I had a problem though in that some wax had gotten lodged deeper than the cleaning tool could reach. I managed to clear it with the gentle use of a pin but there was still some deep in there. I highly recommend getting translucent IEMs (mine are purple) as they allow to see inside them and know if there’s something lodged deep in there.

I have Cosmic Ears IEMs so I wrote to them asking what I should do. They told me I could send my IEMs to them (in the UK) and pay £50 for a “Deep Cleaning.” Naturally I did not want to spend that much plus shipping and be without my IEMs for an extended period of time. I started searching for other solutions. I found some “IEM Vacuums” online but they were all pretty expensive and with mixed reviews as to results. That’s when I discovered this simple, cheap hearing aid cleaning kit which seemed like just what I needed.

I really thought that it would be pretty tough to get that stuff out from deep in my IEMs and that I might risk pushing it in further, but I was pleasantly shocked at how easily I managed to gently maneuver the small flexible wire on one of the tools and easily pull some small wax chunks from deep down. I basically sat a bright LED flashlight on its end, held my transparent IEMs over it so I could see exactly what I was doing, and within a few minutes, I had them totally cleaned out!

Another tool that came in handy was a simple solder sucker similar to this one. I had one small chunk that I got near then end but couldn’t seem to coax out, and that solder sucker sucked it right out!

Obviously there are risks involved with everything mentioned here so be careful, gentle, and attempt at your own risk, but I was happy to find a good solution that worked for me that I could use regularly myself at home!

20
Feb
2023
21:36

Kvetching About “The Biz”

I don’t generally like complaining on the internet, but sometimes it is a really helpful part of the process to just get it out. Acting and music are the reasons I am in this universe. The things I have the most passions for and that make me feel the most fulfilled and alive. The “business” part of “show business” however is brutal, exhausting, and demoralizing. I’ve mentioned before how not many days go by that part of my doesn’t want to just quit, but also I know I can’t. I’d never be happy.

My acting career has been in what feels like the most stagnant slump ever for the last couple of years. Now of course, much of this could be simple skewed perception and many of my peers have expressed similar feelings that the business in general has been much slower and tougher. I realized last week that I felt like I have just kind of “given up.” Not given up acting, as I don’t think that could ever happen, but I realized I had only been doing things that just happened to come to me. When my agent sends me an audition, I do it and do my best. When someone comes to me with a role or a chance to audition I take it. Outside of that, however, I’m not doing anything for myself. I’m not hustling, chasing, looking. I’m not working on putting demo reels together or scouring casting sites for roles I can submit myself for. I’m just tired and demoralized and feel like nothing is really going to change unless some equivalent of a lottery ticket win just somehow finds me and drops in my lap. I feel stuck and frustrated.

While “fame” has never sounded like something I didn’t want, it has also never been the goal. All I’ve ever really wanted is to the things I love and do them well, and hopefully pay the bills while doing those things. And truthfully, from a certain perspective, I am doing that. I definitely try to never lose sight of that fact and that I’m living a life that would make younger me scream “Holy shit! You are living THE LIFE!” I definitely try to be happy in every present moment and not constantly adjust my sights so that reaching one goal is no longer satisfactory and I just push it further to something else I don’t have, but I don’t think that’s what this is. I’ve always had a vision for what I wanted to do and the life I wanted to live, and this isn’t it. It’s a good life, and on the path I want to be on, but I want more (a seemingly perpetual human condition).

I think the frustration stems from feeling like I just don’t have access to the opportunities I want and feel equipped for. There’s so much luck and things beyond our control and that’s always going to be the case. It’s almost as if I’m so close to it but still kept away from it, which in a ways is more frustrating than something seeming so far away as to the path to it being incomprehensible.

This is not necessarily anything new and I feel like it’s a common phase that all my artist friends go through. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating though. To those of you still hustling and busting your asses trying to make things happen, I salute you. I wish I could at least say “Well I’m doing everything I can on my end so I have no fault in any career dissatisfaction” but that would absolutely be a lie.

I shall try to heed my own words from the past and “Keep my head down and do good work.”

18
Jan
2023
17:02

The Perfect Earbuds! Bose SoundSport WIRED.

I’ve finally (re)found my perfect general use PC earbuds!

You probably know that I love sharing things that I love. I just got a set of Bose Soundsport Wired earbuds off ebay for $45. Let me explain why they’re my favorites.

When I’m at my computer and need to be quiet or just need to hear more detail, I like to use earbuds. I don’t like over the head headphones as they don’t play well with glasses and they’re big and bulky and give you headphone hair.

I don’t really like earbuds that insert into your ear with silicone tips.

I don’t need wireless at my computer as I already have way too many things to worry about charging and when I’m just sitting in a chair in front of a screen, wired is great.

For critical purposes like mixing and mastering music and such, I use my Slate VSX headphones which are amazing and model studios, clubs, cars, etc. to make sure your mixes translate everywhere.

I do love the form factor of Apple Airpods as they don’t stick IN your ear but still have the benefits of earbuds over headphones, but I generally only use those with my phone because again, I’m on my PC all day and don’t want to worry about charging.

Many years ago, I actually had a set of Bose earbuds with the same form factor as these new ones I just got, but at some point over the years I got something else and sold them, and have since had several more.

Finding these WIRED was tough. Ebay was the only place I could find them as Bose’s current offerings all seem to be wireless. I could not be happier with these. They sit comfortably without sticking IN my ear, I can still hear my surroundings (this might be a minus for some folks), the little flanges keep them in place securely (there’s 3 sizes included), and to me they sound great for general use! I should have never got rid of the first pair I had with this type of bud!

08
Jan
2023
22:00

Dream Theatre 74

I feel like my brain uses my creativity against me when comes to bad dreams. They end up being artistic, nuanced, subtle dramas with an emotional gut punch.

I had at least a couple of dreams last night where an ex and I were together but everything felt weird and tense and there was a disconnect and I felt like they were not telling me things and maybe they were unhappy and had checked out and a breakup was coming. 

But it was the last dream of the night that really sucker punched me. I’ve forgotten most of the details now, but it was felt like some kind of sci-fi suspense film or something. All I can remember now is that me and another character suddenly found ourselves in what should have been my house (not a real place, just a fictional dream house), but we suddenly realized it was totally empty and that we must have both been brought to another timeline from each of our respective timelines or something. There was a feeling of panic and then the dream took on an inception-like layer in that I dreamed that I was dreaming that and probably moaning in distress in my dream-real-life like when you try to scream in a dream but can’t and in real life you’re making these muted sounds of actually trying to scream in your sleep. 

In my dream within a dream, I started to come to as I felt soft lips on my cheek trying to comfort me and gently wake me from the nightmare. It was a warm and sweet moment. But then I not only came out of my dream within a dream, but also woke up from that dream into the actual real world where it was all fiction and the loss of that sweet moment was devastating and brought real tears for a moment. It’s now night and I can still feel those lips on my cheek.