Current State of Stuff in the Lock-Down

I address you today, my dear blogophiles, as one of the many in Lock-Down and Social-Isolation. I have fallen victim to LBS (as in Low Battery Syndrome). This was literally true of my little car (an old Vauxhall Corsa). I have not been using it at all during Lock-Down and it barely croaked last week when I turned the ignition key. In the end, I bought a jump starter kit on Amazon and this solved the problem. I will say that it involved a learning curve approaching the exponential. There’s a word with horrid connotations, thanks to Covid-19. Actually, I frequently travel on segments of the A19 in the UK; I anticipate feelings of gloomy despair next time I take it. Perhaps it should be renamed the A(non-Covid)19.

My computer has been acting up. It has lured me into the depths of its BIOS where I have attempted to give it a drop of linctus. BIOS, to a computer nerd manqué, sounds almost as frightening as Covid. Once the acronym is unpacked it feels a lot more cuddly: Basic Input/Output System. My PC originally came ‘over-clocked’ but the overclocking no longer seems to be working. One has to take care because it would be possible to totally screw up the whole system. At the moment, when I fire up the beast (that is how I fondly refer to my huge old-fashioned tower system that resides under my purpose built desk [thank you B&Q for the excellent plank of contiboard]) it usually takes me straight into the BIOS screen nowadays. I then have to faff* (should that be spelled (or even spelt?) phaff or phaphf or phaphph – I rather like the latter) about choosing a boot-up option that gets a windows screen on the monitor where I can log in. That is a palaver (another brilliant word, don’t you think?)

*I looked up faff in the Oxford Concise English dictionary and discovered that faff is, indeed, the correct spelling. As for spelling, the past tense can be spelled spelt, if you wish, but might then be confused with a kind of wheat. I’m not sure whether or not it would be correct to refer to the person who has spelt something as the spelter since she or he might then be confused as being made of crude smelted zinc. Of course, this might be taken as a compliment were the speller to be besotted by The Wizard of Oz, identifying with Tin Man. I am getting into something of a tangle here. The only way out is to launch into another paragraph, preferably with no attempt to segue.

Some days I spend hours wondering which I like best: dictionary or thesaurus. Anyway (good word for introducing a non-sequitur), my computer is not the only bit of kit that has been giving problems. My head-set voice mic has been spewing out badly clipped audio signals. I have spent hours checking the sound levels (with Vu-Meter traffic light indicators on my mixing desk and my microphone receiver module) and the sound has sounded great in my IEMs (In-Ear Monitors – buds to the man on the Clapham omnibus [law students geddit?]). I feel so sorry for providing my audiences with sub-optimal auditory experiences. I think I have sorted things out now. My next show on the Internet will be in Second Life on Monday at 8 pm British Summer Time.

I have been attending quite a few webinars relating to various aspects of the music business. I think this might deserve a separate blog entry all to itself. People in the music biz would think of me as a creative/artist. I feel that in order to understand the business side of music, one needs to learn and operate in what might be regarded as a totally different Wittgensteinian language game. I have been trying to learn the rudiments. It is easily as difficult as learning to read sheet music.

Somebody in one of the webinars said that they thought that it was a good idea for the musician to do podcasts about their music, perhaps playing some of the tracks within the talk. They were mainly thinking of how they might relate to their fan base (and these folks think of a fan base as comprising 1000s of fans). My fan base is almost certainly under 100, could be less than 50. So, I’m not sure how I would fit into this world. The short answer is that I do not, and probably never will. I did once do a podcast and also a vlog (video equivalent of the audio podcast). In the end I stopped because I felt I was repeating myself. I can see that one way to get around the constant repetition is to bring content in from an external source, such as the daily news in the newspapers or on TV news channels. I can relate some of my song material to current affairs but that is not going to cover all the music.

I did put a podcast episode up on my website a few weeks ago and I am thinking that maybe I should try another one. I’m not sure if it is worth doing one on a podcast hosting site. I am already paying quite a lot of money to rent both my website and my audio stream. You know, I play solidly for one hour on Internet shows in Second Life (30 minutes with guitar and 30 minutes with piano – mixture of a few old covers and my original compositions). The idea is that Avatars within Second Life can come to the shows and listen. I get rewarded through the tipping system. Admittedly the currency in Second Life (L$ or Linden dollars) is a bit like Monopoly money, but there is an exchange rate with US$ (they can be bought or sold on the Internet). Sometimes people attend my shows and they get an hour of relatively unusual entertainment for free – they leave at the end without tipping me a cent. Meanwhile, I am paying for the stream that enables them to hear me! On the other hand, many other avatars (people) are very generous to me. My good (virtual) friend Ferdy (from whom I rent the virtual land upon which I built my virtual venue) has been coming to almost all my shows since 2006 and never fails to give me a serious tip. I really appreciate that level of support.

I once hoped that my music would pay for itself, as it were. When I retired from my day job, I thought that it might give me a little extra money to cover the computing equipment and the costs of keeping guitars in good condition, getting the digital piano reconditioned when necessary, upgrading mixers and microphones, and so forth. That has not happened. Of course, a purist might say that a ‘creative’ should be satisfied and content with the intrinsic level of satisfaction that flows from the creative act; that this should be more than enough for them. Creativity (and the related artistic performance of the material) is not all fun, fun, fun. There are often difficult problems to overcome; the act of creating can sometimes be painful.

Anyway (that word again), I am thinking about making another one-off podcast for my website. I shall take the existing one down. I can’t keep the podcasts up on the site because it is very easy for me to exceed the amount of stuff I have online in my account with my Internet hosting company. I rather fancy the title of ‘Living Life in Unmatched Socks‘ for the forthcoming podcast. God knows what that means but hopefully I shall come up with something before recording it!

I hope you will excuse the fact that this blog entry has turned out to be something of a rant. Maybe it is Lock-Down that it getting to me. Be that as it may, I hope to speak to you again, soon. Goodbye for now, my dear blogophiles.

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