motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (Default)
Amd the answer is "no, I can't write two posts in under 1/2 hour."

Music
I saw SUUNS live and made a dork of myself at the merch table with one of the band members and bought vinyl. I can't stop listening to the SUUNS and Jerusalem In My Heart album. Speaking of vinyl, I got a cheap thrift store receiver and finally hooked up my sister's turntable. I blasted myself with old records and may have made my neighbor laugh while I belted out "Movin' Right Along" courtesy Kermit and Fozzie.

I worked on my album and got everything edited.

I went through a few weeks of My Harp Mastery and discovered "30 Days to Done", which helped my fine-tune my practice schedules.

I played a wedding outdoors on a campground at the coast and it was wonderful. I got to play some Battlestar Galactica music for it!

Books
I read "Unbroken" (despite writing it in my Christmas letter as "Broken") by Laura Hillenbrand. It was terrifying and hopeful. And read by Edward Herrmann, RIP.

I really liked "Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab. The coat that you can take off and fold and turn inside out to turn it into a different coat folded and turned my mind inside out.

Movies/TV
Watching Jessica Jones, Grantchester, Luke Cage, and Westworld with friends has been a balm for my soul. I've also been watching the crap out of "The Mighty Boosh".

Seeing Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm was... wow, just wow. At the same theater, I saw Metropolis (1927) with live organ music.

Miscellaneous
My mom is recovering from her stroke. I trained for the next higher job classification. We did a TSD rally again. I made lost of socks.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
Music
I'm swinging wildly back and forth between liking and cringing at what we've managed to record for my album so far.  Right now I'm in the "sounds good" camp, so yay!

I found two music websites that are particularly helpful.  For harp, I discovered Harp Mastery by Anne Sullivan. She sends out very practical tips to improve your playing and technique and thought-provoking ideas for improving your musicality. Maybe not for harpists only? The other website is fiddlehed which is super organized into beginning, intermediate and advanced course outlines. He has a ton of videos, the most helpful of which are how to practice. I know how to practice the harp, but fiddle is completely different.  Both are enthusiastically, yet gently encouraging.

I found Girl Band, a band that hails from Ireland, has no girls in it, and do cool harmonics on the bass. A strong indicator of how much I like them is I thought they were good enough to buy their album. I also couldn't stop listening to Missy Elliot's album preview "WTF". I'm so glad she's back.  Both should be listened to super loud.

Books
My two favorite books of 2015 were ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John  Mendel and ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke. ‘Station Eleven’ is a post-apocalyptic tale of a frightening pandemic, a traveling symphony, and Shakespeare. Mendel deftly weaves a small group of people together back and forth through time in a brilliant and beautiful way. I didn't want this one to end.

'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’ is a hefty tome, anonymously and wittily narrated, and starts in the mid-1800s with two characters attempting to answer the question: “Why is there is no magic in England anymore?” It would not be out of place as a serial story told in monthly installments in a Victorian magazine. I was content to come along for a leisurely and delightful ride - then it got really thrilling.  And it has fantastic footnotes.

Movies
Mad Max: Fury Road - I loved this so much I don't even really know what to say about it. What We Do In the Shadows was hilarious and I can't wait for the werewolves (not swearwolves!) sequel. The two movies that surprised me were Trainwreck and Magic Mike XXL. Trainwreck had way more substance than I expected. I laughed, I cried. Despite that most of what was in the trailer was not in the movie. XXL was way more feminist than I expected and I really appreciated that.

ETA: Eep! I forgot I saw Girl Walks Home Alone At Night - it's one of the best vampire films I've seen in addition to WWDitS and Only Lovers Left Alive. And Love at First Bite.

Miscellaneous
The Blood Eclipse Moon was magical, the Pacific Ocean was dizzyingly cold, and the TSD Road Rally was tiring but sensational.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
51KIJDGyirL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Have you read "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Thompson Walker?  It's pretty good.  It's a coming-of-age (I hate that phrase, but what other will do?) story of an 11-year-old girl dealing with a first crush, mean girls, parents, and a possibly demented grandfather.  It teeters on the edge of being a YA novel, but what tips it slightly into the adult literature realm is the backdrop with Earth's rotation inexorably slowing and the world possibly coming to an end.  Walker does such a good job of incorporating the normal-ness of changing life in the teen years into the desolation of the changing external world, that I had to remind myself as I was going about my days the world wasn't actually slowing down.  And I was actually feeling a little tense about it until I finished it.

Aaaand then I go to catch up on podcasts from over the holidays only to find Radiolab talking about... THE EARTH'S ROTATION SLOWING! Aaaahhh! 
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
The Murdoch Mysteries series originally started out life as books written by Maureen Jennings about a detective with the Toronto constabulary in the late 1890s.  It was then made into a TV mini-series, and finally into a regular series.  As with all book/TV/movie adaptations, they diverge into different directions. Jennings is still writing the books - she started the series in 1997, and the show is currently in it's 6th season.

As I said in my goodreads review, I like the book pretty well, and like the forensics aspect of the TV shows.  The best aspect, of course, for me, is all the period costumes and sets.  There are a few good behind-the scenes pictures in a slide show attached to this news article.

My absolute favorite is Inspector Brackenried played by Thomas Craig.  In talking about the details he designs into the clothing, costume designer Alex Reda says about Brackenreid's waistcoats that he doesn't necessarily have them fit perfectly. He makes them tight and some of them double breasted so the buttons tend to strain and he ends up looking more barrel-chested. He's really "average-sized and quite fit" and you can see the difference in the photos. It really suits his blustering character.

murdoch2Normal sized
murdoch1
Super sized!





I've also definitely seen bra lines and not corset lines on one of the characters, which I totally get because wearing a corset all day could be... wearing.  But I'm also annoyed that I notice things like that. And get annoyed about them.
motorharp: line drawing of kid with glasses intently reading (bookworm)
I recently read Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. I was initially drawn to it because the blurb on the flyleaf said willpower is like a muscle - it can be strengthened with exercise and fatigued by overuse. Whaaat?  Clearly, willpower doesn't work quite the way I thought it does. Neither does dieting, apparently.

The last chapter of the book is a summary of the ideas presented in each preceding chapter. Since I found helpful things in the text, and want to remember them and try to use them, summarizing them myself will hopefully cement them in my brain.

Know your limits - Your willpower gets depleted by everything you make decisions about during the day. Decide to wait a couple minutes to pee? Yeah, those kinds of decisions.  Struggling with temptation depletes you. And giving in does not magically replenish your willpower.

Watch for symptoms - Are you feeling things more intensely? Is it hard to make up your mind about simple things? Are you more reluctant to make a decision or exert yourself mentally or physically? Get some food (protein), wait 1/2 hour, then the decision will be easier.

Pick your battles - Keep track of the goals you set, how long it took to accomplish them, and whether you did accomplish them. Are those goals helpful or do you just need to dismiss them next time? Always have a vague five year plan with more specific intermediate steps. Keep track monthly - "remember you don't have to meet each goal every time, what matters is your life gradually improves month to month."

Make a "to do" list, or at least "to don't" list - A catalog of things you don't have to worry about once you write them down. This is the plan that helps your unconscious to stop fretting about ignoring unfinished tasks. Apparently, if you have something to do (term paper, cleaning your email inbox, etc) and you are not doing it, your unconscious will constantly worry about it, until you make a plan. Not until you get it done, mind, but just until you make a plan to get it done. Wow, right? You have to plan specifically, though: what to do, whom to contact, how to do it (in person, by phone, or email?)

Beware the planning fallacy - You think things will take less time than they do. (I'm getting better at this.)

Don't forget the basics - Get enough sleep, keep yourself clean and fed, keep your home and work area tidy - these all put less stress on your reserve of willpower.  And low glucose levels make deciding much more difficult.

The power of positive procrastination - If you are trying to avoid temptation, tell yourself you can give in, but later. This is weirdly effective.

The nothing alternative - Set aside time to do a certain task, but if you don't feel like doing it/are uninspired, sit there for the whole time anyway. Or, rather, don't do anything else. It's a quick cure for procrastination. Raymond Chandler scheduled himself like this "a. You don't have to write. b. You can't do anything else. The rest comes of itself."  This is also an example of having an implementation plan, "that specific if-x-then-y strategy that has been shown to reduce the demands on willpower." Basically, pre-commitment. Trying to keep to your diet at a party? Plan ahead: If there's cake there, you will have the vegetables and crackers.

Keep track - Constant monitoring is essential. Balance your checkbook everyday. Weigh yourself every day.

Reward often - Video games are so addictive (and helpful for building self control!) because they give many small rewards and a few occasional big ones for planning and accomplishing goals.  How would you make your tasks/goals into games?

The Future of Self Control - It takes self control to enjoy all the free time we have these modern days, and you have to plan for it.  Vacations don't happen by accident.

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