Enjoying 9 Dead Alive by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Guitar player

One of our many, many Slack channels at Automattic is one that focuses on great soundtracks, and other instrumental music. We usually share movie, TV, and game soundtracks in the channel.

The other day, I mentioned how I’d love to find more music like Cody Francis’ “Mountain Air” –

I really enjoy this track, but none of Francis’ other music on Spotify seems to be quite as good. One of my colleagues suggested another option – Rodrigo y Gabriela, an awesome guitar duo.

I dove into a recent album, 9 Dead Alive, and it’s terrific! Check this out:

I love how you can watch artists perform, and it adds a new dimension to their music. Here’s the duo playing “The Soundmaker” live:

If you’re interested in some of their story, it’s also worth listening to their 2014 Spotify Sessions performance where they both play, and are interviewed about their work:

The reason why Rodrigo y Gabriela came up in a channel about soundtracks is that they also performed for Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides“:

Now that I know this, I think I need to listen to that soundtrack again! I also think that this music could be great running music (I’ll try it as an alternative to my usual podcasts).

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Jefferson Santos

A vague Notion of a more productive system

Notebooks, and task lists

I spent a little time in my Pocket recommendations, and found this great post by Marie Poulin titled “One Tool To Rule Them All” and her, and her partner’s search for a more effective, more complete productivity solution. Along the way, she considered Bullet Journals.

I wanted to get on the bullet journal bandwagon, but the sheer inefficiency of hand-drawing the same lines, shapes, numbers, and tasks week after week, and month after month made me twitchy.

Looking at some of those bullet journal masterpieces made me wonder, how much of bullet journaling is just…productivity porn? Are people creating entirely separate accounts for their bullet journaling as a creative outlet, or to distract themselves from actually getting shit done?

Marie Poulin

I’ve been curious about bullet journals, too, but I found myself having similar doubts about how effective the method would be for me. I much prefer digital productivity tools, largely because I’m really apprehensive about having a productivity solution without a backup and sync option.

Also, I really have to watch out for my tendency to go down a complete “productivity tool testing” rabbit hole, and literally lose days testing solutions without actually getting anything done.

Poulin and her partner settled on tool called Notion, that looks pretty promising. I like how flexible the service seems to be. I like how Evernote uses a notebook metaphor with fairly free form notes as a way to capture information. That said, I don’t seem to use Evernote all that much lately (for a couple reasons).

If you do think that Bullet Journal is the option for you, definitely read Jamie Rubin’s post titled “Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All“:

I recently began using a Bullet Journal. Longtime readers who recall my going paperless days might find this odd. My going paperless experiment was just that–an experiment to see how far I could go without paper. Eventually, I decided that there were good reasons (for me) to continue to use paper. I’ve been carrying around Field Notes notebooks for years. I use notebooks for work, and large Moleskine notebooks for my journal/commonplace book. So why a Bullet Journal, and why now…?

Jamie Rubin

For the time being, I’m clinging to a semblance of productivity with Remember the Milk as my main task list. Now and then, I’ll use Evernote to add a task to RTM by syncing between the two services.

The benefit of this approach is that it enables me to associate a task with a note containing relevant materials. Like most things in my life, it’s very much a work in progress that’s hampered by my erratic discipline.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Matt Ragland

Pretty with pink

It’s a bit early for Spring but these pretty flowers are starting to bloom.

Keeping track of my media diet

This idea of tracking my media diet really appeals to me:

Just like last year, I kept track of almost everything I read, watched, listened to, and experienced in my media diet posts.

Jason Kottke

I follow a few people who do this too, sometimes pretty publicly. I’m not sure that I’d want to share everything I consume, but I do like the thought of capturing, and aggregating everything.

I’m just not too sure how to pull it all together, if I were to do this.

“Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about”

A fountain of water, shot at a relatively high shutter speed

I’ve had an idea in my task list for a week or so now, and I just haven’t made the time to write about it, at least not as I originally intended when I read the post that inspired it.

Jamie Rubin wrote his post titled “A Vision for Blogging in 2019” a few weeks ago. He wrote about a return, of sorts, to blogging, and a different perspective on what blogging means to him:

I’m not farming, but reading and writing are my analogs. I like the tone White captured in his essays, and while I am no E. B. White, it is that sense of making the mundane interesting–in reading, in writing, and anything else that comes to mind–that I am aiming for. That’s my vision for this blog in 2019. I hope you’ll stick around for it.

Jamie Rubin

What appeals to me about his vision for his blog is a focus on writing about personal topics, that have significance to him. I’ve seen a lot of talk about this approach to blogging, lately.

Someone else who wrote about this sort approach is Georgie Luhur Cooke who I mentioned previously. Georgie shared her blogging values, and one of those values is that she intends blogging for as long as she enjoys doing it:

Many people have asked if I would stop blogging if no-one read my blog. Although I love my readership and they often influence my decision on what/how to do things on my blog because I care about them – ultimately I write for me. I don’t write for anyone else, and the fact that people love to read my blog only makes it clearer to me that I should continue doing what I love – not continue doing something because other people like it.

Georgie Luhur Cooke

This evening I was flipping through my feeds while I waited for our kids to prepare for bed, and I came across this post by Jason Kottke titled “14 Rules for Maintaining Your Sanity Online“, that quoted from an issue of Discourse. One of the rules caught my attention:

Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about.

Sean Blanda

It reminds me a little about the excellent advice I was once given. The context was different, but I think it’s relevant to blogging, and what could be construed as my tenuous vision for my blog (at least for the time being).

It’s often tempting to hammer out a post about something that upsets me, or something that’s controversial. There are times to write about upsetting things that matter, sure. At the same time, many of the posts I feel the urge to write would just amount to me lashing out at someone, or something through my blog.

Those sorts of posts would very much be driven by bitterness, and would ultimately detract from the more positive, and constructive stuff I occasionally write here.

There but for the grace of God go you.

Sean Blanda

So when I write something for my blog, I increasingly find myself thinking along the lines of writing something that makes a positive contribution in some way. For the most part, I’m the main recipient of that contribution because I find myself writing about things that I enjoy, people that inspire me, and themes that fascinate me.

And, yes, there are times when I also publish utter nonsense, devoid of any value to anyone (for example, much of 2004 till roughly mid-2006) but, hey, that’s also blogging. It’s imperfect, and definitely a work in progress (with times of regress).

I’m enjoying my blog lately. I’m not sure what changed for me, but I’m just going with it.

I sat down with my notebook recently when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed about life, work, family, and the Universe in general. I sketched out the things that are important to me, looking ahead.

I felt like I really needed to shift to my high altitude view of my life for a bit, and identify some priorities, so I could set aside all the other themes/goals/impulses that make me crazy, and mostly ineffective.

One of my priorities is my blog. Partly that’s because I’m enjoying it. It’s also because I wanted something I could turn to that feels good to do, for various reasons, and also helps me be better.

One of the ways that I feel that I can do that is to write about the things that I’d like to see people talking about. Or, put a better way, I’d like to write about the things that I’d like to have more discussions about because they interest me, fascinate me, or otherwise enrich me.

My favourite song today is Like Gold

Headphones on a microphone stand

Although it’s not the first time I’ve listened to Vance Joy’s song “Like Gold“, it stands out for me today. I like how the track progresses, and carries you along to the end. I really enjoy it.

I found a live performance in Portland, that I also enjoyed:

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Paulette Wooten

New Year’s resolutions are a little weird, and arbitrary

New Year’s resolutions are a little weird. We pick this convenient change from one year to the next, and declare our intentions to do more or better.

I’m not sure that we give much thought to why we pick this one date as the time for this rededication to some form of self-improvement. New Year’s Day has had much less significance to me in recent years for a couple reasons.

For one thing, it’s not the new year in Israel tomorrow. We use the Hebrew calendar for official stuff, and our new year was in September this year.

A more personal reason why 1 January isn’t much more than Tuesday, a regular working day, to me is because there’s another day that’s a more meaningful day for a renewed sense of self-improvement – my birthday!

Sure, on 1 January, the year increments. Other than that, what’s the personal significance of the day?

I see my birthday as a celebration of my continued existence, and a reminder that I have yet another year behind me, and fewer ahead of me.

With that comes the realisation that I have fewer opportunities to make a difference, be a better parent, husband, friend, sibling, son, and so on. The time I have left is more precious, at the very least because there’s less of it.

I’m generally not conscious of this fact during the year because I’m so caught up in my daily dramas and busy work. My birthday is a convenient time to pause, look back, ahead, and at what I have, and think about what’s really important to me.

So, as 2018 draws to a close, I can’t help but think that it’s really just a Monday night, and I still need to be up at 5:30 tomorrow for an early shift.

When Automatticians meet up

Being a distributed team has its challenges (and loads of benefits, too). We meet up with our teams at least once a year in person (last year our team met up in Rome), and the whole company meets up once a year for our Grand Meetup.

Aside from these meetups, Automatticians also meet up in their respective cities or regions now and then. These don’t always happen as frequently, but they’re a lot of fun when they do! Here’s a recent dinner with some of my Canadian colleagues, courtesy of a post from Jen:

When Sandy first started working for Automattic he was the only employee living in Nova Scotia. Today we have 8, which is pretty awesome for our small province within a worldwide distributed company. Since our company is distributed we are given an allowance to have holiday dinners within our own areas and get together with […]

Jen McFadden

It’s also worth reading Matt Mullenweg’s post about the importance of meeting in person: