From Inside The Headphones – TWTW #39

img_20191021_071806748Well as another weekend rolls past and we start another Monday, I’m back at my desk. I wrote this late on Sunday so that I could get a head start on some work for a client first thing on Monday, so by the time you read this I should be well underway with that. I hope this short missive finds you well, and that you find something of interest to you below.

This week I’m mostly working from home, with a couple of trips out to take my Mum for some appointments. One of the benefits of being freelance / working for myself is the flexibility to do things like that, I’d never have been allowed all the time off in my old job.

I’m really noticing the darker mornings, autumn already feels like winter but with the soft-reset of the return to GMT coming next weekend, the light will return to the mornings again, at least for a few weeks.


Stephen King’s House to Become Archive and Writers’ Retreat


I read another Maigret this week; A Man’s Head  by George Simenon. It’s one of the really good ones, although I’m not sure the plot is entirely believable – allow convicted killer to escape from jail to prove his innocence before he is executed.


We watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard on Friday evening (we’d recorded it a week or so ago). We had relatively low expectations of the film but in the end found it laugh out loud funny in places and enjoyed it.

Most of it was completely unbelievable and if you’re offended by swearing you most certainly won’t enjoy it.

Basic premise is that the bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) has to escort the hitman (Samuel L Jackson) to The Hauge to testify against a war criminal, and all of the war criminals associates are trying to stop them. Trailer below – contains swearing.

We also watched the most recent version of Pet Sematary [sic], well we watched the first 45 mins or so, and then lost interest and turned it off. I’m disappointed because I’d heard that this one was much better than the one that was made in the early 1990’s. Still some you win and some you don’t.


The weather has been pretty wet all week, but brightened up on Saturday to enable me to get onto the allotment. I’ve dug over the bed for the broad beans and sown them, so with luck they’ll over winter and we’ll have another good crop in late May next year. This just leaves me the main bed to dig over the coming months, but this is probably the biggest job due to the amount of creeping buttercup that is present. I’ll be doing a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t become an overwhelming prospect.


Podcasts: I mentioned last week that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently. This is in part due to travelling more for work than I have for a while, and not wanting to listen to the 24hr Brexit news coverage that seems to have become just about every broadcast radio and tv station. That’s not to say I’m not following what’s going on, I just wanted to consume it at a sane dose and not be bombarded by it every thirty seconds. So between audiobooks and podcasts this has become my go to entertainment when travelling.

So here’s a list of podcasts that I listen to most regularly. By that I mean I’ll listen to most episodes as they are released. There are a few others, that I don’t listen to as faithfully but for brevity I’ve not included those. Links are for homepages or feeds, I’ll leave it to you as to how you listen to them.

Deep State Radio. A US current and foreign affairs podcast. Good for keeping up with just what the hell is going on in the White House and wider government. Posts several times a week with the main episodes being on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

SW945: A Walk in Japan. A binaural podcast of background noise from whereever the author is at 09:45 each morning (when walking). Best listened to with headphones. [On a hiatus at the moment, as the author isn’t walking, but there are nearly 40 episodes to catch up on].

Floating – Swimming Stories with Joe Minihane. From the author of the book with the same name, interviews and discussions with swimmers and others.

On Margins. By the same author as SW945, a podcast on writing, publishing and related topics.

The Tim Ferriss Show. Fairly well known podcast from Tim Ferriss, author of several books, entrepreneur and experimenter. Interviews with many well known and some less well know people.

The Kevin Rose Show. Fairly similar in content to Tim Ferriss above (and there are occasional overlap episodes).

The Drive. A podcast from doctor Peter Attia about all things medical and medical science.

As I said these are my main goto podcasts but there are a few others that I dip into occasionally. Mostly if they have a guest that I think I’ll like or topic that is relevant.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations for me based on the above or want to give a shout-out to your favourite show, then leave me a comment below.


A summation of the current Brexit fiasco from Charles Stross


I read Pico Iyer’s – Autumn Light  back in April, here’s a good summary of the book, with some extrapolation of some of the ideas it contains from the Brain Pickings website.


I think that’s it for this week, as always, be careful out there.

IT (2017) Brief Review

(Warning: Spoilers Might Follow)

I had the opportunity to watch the recent version of IT at the weekend. I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while and had only heard good things about the film. IT is one of my favourite Stephen King books and I’d enjoyed the previous TV mini series from 1990.

Overall I was a little bit underwhelmed. Maybe that was because the film had so much hype that my expectations weren’t born out, but I just felt a little let down by the film.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good film. I think the casting is strong, and that comes across in the actors portrayals of their characters, and I’m pleased that it stuck pretty closely to the book. The locations were also excellent, and pretty much how I’d imagined them in my head from the book e.g. The Pine Barrens. There was however just something missing for me. It didn’t jump off the screen and grab my attention the way I was expecting, and maybe I need to watch it again as I feel I missed something.

This is of course just Chapter One i.e. it covers the portion of the book where the characters are children – and Chapter Two will presumably (assuming it’s made) cover the remainder – so hopefully the two together will be stronger. I feel however I couldn’t really give it more than a 3 out of 5.

The Beast From The East…(Quick Links 112)

This week has absolutely flown by. I’ve been looking at a lot of wallpaper (in DIY stores – we’re planning the next stage of decorating our lounge), and a lot of PowerPoint (see work below). I’ve been repairing an arbor at my Mum’s house, and reconnecting with my basic carpentry skills.

The weather forecast for the week ahead includes snow warnings for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when “The Beast From The East” is due to arrive. We’ve had these warnings a couple of times during the winter but never actually had any snow – so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens this time. I have to admit to thinking whoever comes up with the nicknames for these things needs their bumps felt, as really all it makes me want to do is shrug my shoulders and sigh, rather than potentially taking it more seriously. I’m pretty sure professional journalism is all-but dead in this country.  It will probably be the end for those few flowers that had started to appear thinking Spring had arrived too, which I feel more sad about than the headlines.

I’ve been thinking a bit about my routine this week. It’s going to be three years this year since I left my permanent job and went freelance, taking voluntary redundancy. Interestingly though I still seem to wake at the same time each morning, as I did when I used to have to leave the house to catch a train. I guess all those years doing that have left their mark even if now there’s no train and different things to do.


I’m hoping to restart on the decorating this coming week. In fact that is why this post is a little bit later than usual, as I’ve been clearing the decks to give me the space to get started. We’ve settled on the paper above – and before anyone comments, yes we will be pasting it to the walls and not hanging it from bulldog clips. It’s taken a couple of months to reach a decision, but hopefully it will look good when it’s finished. If the aforementioned beast from the east arrives I hope he’ll pick up a wallpaper brush and lend me a hand.


Work – As mentioned above PowerPoint has been a big chunk of work this week. I co-hosted a presentation on Thursday evening to a group from the local chamber of commerce, and the preparation for that has taken up a lot of time. We had a dry run of Tuesday, and that helped as my skills were a little rusty. I enjoyed doing it and am hoping something more might come from it, but only time will tell.


Allotment – Finally managed to get onto the plot and do some work this last week. I took down the netting and supports over the late brassicas, and dug the spot they were on. This is going to be the area where the potatoes will go this year. I’ve also recorded a short update video, first one in a while.


Currently Reading – I read Stephen King’s “Finders Keepers” [GoodReads] this week. It’s the middle book in the Bill Hodges trilogy (“Mr Mercedes” is the first, and “End of Watch”, the last). I was a little disappointed with it, in that the tale spent a long time building up to what was ultimately a fairly short ending. It’s one of those books that is slightly better than the 3 stars I’ve given on GoodReads, but the site doesn’t allow for half-stars, as it is worthy of a higher rating but not quite the 4 stars which would be the other option.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Troy – I mentioned this last week. It’s a while since I’ve been comprehensively disappointed in a TV show, but I really didn’t enjoy this. Shame. Not even going to bother watching the second episode.


Stephen Fry’s Announcement


So that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll be a little bit more timely next week (although possibly I might be under a pile of wallpaper or snow, we’ll see. Take care and stay away from The Beast From The East, I hear he’s a bit of a cold chap.

Nothing Much To See Here – Move Along (Quick Links 110)

This week seems to have flown by, but looking back I’m not quite sure what I’ve actually been doing. I know I’ve been busy with lots of little things, which I guess add up. I’ve had a couple of personal appointments as well as work things but that’s about it.


Work – A couple of meetings this week, I’ve got a presentation and a pitch coming up so I’ve been working on the presentations for both of those events.


Allotment – Still too wet to actually get on the plot again, so only a couple of quick visits just to check everything is okay.


Currently Reading – I finished reading “The Long Walk” by Stephen King or rather Richard Bachman [GoodReads]. I also caught up on the excellent “Injection” graphic novels as written by Warren Ellis [GoodReads].


I hear that Donald Trump wants a military parade. Here it is as portrayed in this New Yorker cartoon


Strike – looks like there’s a new series coming. If you haven’t watched it before the first two were really good, so hopefully this will continue. Worth watching.


I’ve been meaning to mention  The Aimless Walker for a couple of weeks. It’s walked & written by Joe Minihane who wrote “Floating” [GoodReads] which I read last year. I enjoy the simple premise.

I’ve been doing my own aimless walking too recently. I read an article about exploring you local area more, so I’ve been doing just that on my afternoon dog walks – trying to walk new routes each afternoon.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]




I hope the week ahead  is good for you. See you next week.

Sick Dog In The Nighttime (Quick Links 109)

Well after finally seeming to have shaken off my lurgy we’ve had a sick dog to start the week off. Monday night / Tuesday morning was the urgent rush to the garden with an upset stomach on two separate occasions. All is better now, but the lack of sleep was telling at the beginning of the week. I have had a couple of work related meetings this week (see below) and I’ve been doing a few other things.

I spent some time at my Mum’s – I went to just sit and have a cup of tea and a chat – and ended up having to make some repairs to broken glass in one of her greenhouses. The storms of the last couple of weeks had blown out a couple of panels. I had to make the repair temporary however as although I found some glass which was suitable for the repair (greenhouse glass is often thinner than regular window glass), it needed to be cut, and despite searching high and low in my Dad’s shed I couldn’t find a glass cutting tool. I’m sure that there’s one in there somewhere, but it eluded me. I did find an old fountain pen though which I bought home, cleaned and got working again. Not quite sure why that was in the shed, but then I’m not surprised.


Work – This week has been a continuation of the prep-work from last week. A couple of meetings that have seen some progression with a couple of related projects, and potentially another one either next week or the following week to pitch for some work. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much but this is progress in the right direction (I think).


Allotment – Still pretty wet out there at the moment so not much to report. The broad beans that I sowed a few weeks ago have now all germinated, so I’ll bring them along and plant them out when they’ve got a bit bigger.


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” by Michael Connelly [GoodReads] this week.

I also started reading The Long Walk by Stephen King or rather Richard Bachman [GoodReads]. This was one of the books that was amongst the list [LINK] I mentioned last week as being unfamiliar. I haven’t read it before, but I did have a copy in an omnibus of Bachman books, which was in our attic. I bought it, plus Skeleton Crew and Firestarter down to read again.

I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was about thirty years younger than I am now, and have kept most of them, although they are in boxes in the attic. I’m planning to maybe work my way back through them slowly again. Some real treasures up there that I purchased for a few pence each when ever I came across them, and some that my Mum spotted (Skeleton Crew – above – is a UK first edition that she found in a charity shop).


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]



Nigel the Gannet’s story is a little sad [LINK] one of those to make you go ah. It’s a sad tale no doubt, but you have to wonder why as the concrete decoys have been so unsuccessful they are still being used?


My diary is pretty empty for the week ahead, so if you’re looking for some help on an environmental project let me know.

Have a good week.

Days of Wet Dog Walks (Quick Links 108)

Feeling better this week but not 100%, so I’ve been easing back gently. This virus has really knocked me for six, but I think I’m over the worst of it, although not pushing too hard.

Although it’s been a quiet week, I’ve been doing a couple of things for my Mum. I still have some odd jobs to do for her, but the weather hasn’t been co-operating so they’re waiting for drier  days.

We’ve had a couple of pretty stormy days and it seems that my coat barely has a chance to dry out from my morning dog walk to the one in the afternoon. They’re not really fans of the bad weather either, but I’ve never known them say know.


Work – Been a bit busier this week, although mostly this has been preparing for meetings that I have in this coming week.


Allotment – Total wash out with the weather  this week. I’ve been down a couple of times to check that nothing’s blown away in the strong winds we’ve had this week, and to harvest veg for dinner but that’s about it.


Currently Reading – My reading has slowed down again, as I’ve been a bit more active again this week. I have however read Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant [GoodReads] over the course of the  week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what will be up next as yet.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Do What You Say You Are Going To Do – Over the years this is something that I’ve said time and again to members of staff, friends, colleagues, people I’ve coached and to myself. If you say you are going to do something, actually do it. If for some reason you no longer can then let people know.

It would seem however that the UK government, within only a few weeks of promising to reduce plastic pollution as part of it’s 25 Year Environment Plan, is about to take a different course, and oppose new recycling targets [LINK]. Now of course these are EU targets and I can already hear all the Brexiteers saying that this is exactly what we should be doing – charting our own course, being masters of our own destiny etc. etc. – but seriously our recycling is already inadequate. The ability to recycle varies depending on where you live, particularly with kerbside collections, but the proposals for 65% of urban waste recycled by 2035 is achievable, but it requires better infrastructure, markets for materials and many things to make it a reality, and obviously this is more than just plastic recycling, but it feels that if the government is simply going to say it can’t support this, it  won’t actually be meaningful target set. It’s not going to wash saying that we’ll set a tougher target – if you were going to do that why don’t you sign up and exceed the EU proposal, that is after all something that you could boast about.


Is This The End Of Civilisation? We Could Take A Different Path – Interesting commentary by George Monbiot [LINK] and I look forward to reading what his proposals are. I am struck by just how selfish we have become as a race, and how governments across the globe seemingly driven by capitalism are continuing to take us down this route, rather than showing true leadership.


I enjoyed reading this  Twitter stream about Tokyo by @craigmod.


So YouTube have written to all of their “creators” – of which I am one – telling them that if they don’t reach new criteria for monetisation then the ability to monetise their videos will be removed [LINK]. I note that they don’t actually say that there won’t still be ads placed before or during their videos, just that they won’t be able to make any money from them. Now I do monetise most of my videos already, but I don’t receive any income from them because I don’t currently meet the criteria either (min. 500 subscribers). The new criteria (min. 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours/year), I won’t meet on subscribers numbers obviously but I do get the minimum watch hours (by quite some margin).

On the face of it, this makes little difference to me (unless I can magically find c.700 more subscribers before the cut off date of 20th February), but what annoys me is this is (allegedly) in response to some fairly high profile failings of YouTube in managing the creators who are making an income from less than savoury videos i.e. ones that don’t meet their eligibility criteria for monetisation. Some of these are creators who have massive followings and are able to make a living from their videos. These new criteria won’t actually affect them one bit.

So instead of properly enforcing their existing criteria YouTube are simply doing something for the sake of doing something and not actually tackling the problem. They claim that they have consulted creators like me in arriving at this decision, and whilst I can only say that I haven’t personally been contacted, if I had been I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to this sort of proposal. It would be a little bit like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Anyway as it won’t make any difference to me, I’ll still be making the occasional allotment video, which I will no longer be able to monetise, but as I’ve said above I suspect there will still be adverts placed on it. If there are then I will be moving to a different platform. The alternative is to try and reach 1000 subscribers by Feb 20th. If you fancy subscribing to me channel you can find it here.


This Stephen King Book List [LINK] is an interesting take. On such a large body of work it must be really difficult just to pick one or even a small selection. I’d add Firestarter and IT – I wonder if the latter wasn’t included simply because of the recent film release, but it is one I vividly remember reading long before it was a TV movie let alone a blockbuster.

I’m pleased to see Skeleton Crew on there though, my favourite collection of his short stories. There’s also a couple that I haven’t read (Revival and The Long Walk), so I might have to keep an eye out for those.


That’s the lot for now. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider giving it a share on social media via one of the links below.

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Have a good week and I’ll be back soon.

Quick Links 5th December 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


Life

2016-11-30-07-32-06Most of this week has been taken up with things related to my Dad, plus my maternal Grandmother is sick, so that’s been taking some time too, leaving little time for anything else.

We’ve had freezing weather all week long with temperatures dipping down to between -3°C & -5°C in the early hours of the morning.

I’ve been up and out with the dogs most mornings before sunrise, so have got to enjoy the sunrise most mornings, and the weather conditions and clear skies have made for some pretty spectualar sunrises.



This Is The Most Dangerous Time For Our Planet – Prof. Stephen Hawking


Currently Reading 

Not much time to really read anything much apart from the next part of the book in my online discussion (see below). I’ve been listening to (or rather re-listening to), the excellent audiobook by David Hewson – “The Flood“, in the car, but I finished this on Saturday so I’ll be looking for something else. I have a few to choose from.

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer: 2 (The Journals of Thomas Merton) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads].

The Wastelands (Dark Tower III) by Stephen King [GoodReads], reading this for an online disucssion group


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


If you should also happen to play Words With Friends and fancy challenging me to a game or two, my user name is Tontowilliams.