Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Day #012 of my Self-Isolation

March 28, 2020

It has been patchy. I seem to have plenty to do at times; other periods are boringly flat. The idea of gaining sufficient quantities of good/interesting TV seems more and more remote, the further I vanish down the path of Self-Isolation into the void that might be a black hole for all I know. Death, without metaphysical belief,  looms as a rather bland, if inevitable, possibility.

My interest in following what is happening in the world through my favoured news channel (BBC News-24) is waning as the chat drones on about the topic of Covid-19, with endless repeats of short video-streamed interviews. Of course, in a lock-down, folk are not getting out and doing stuff and reporters are wisely limiting their movements to the bare minimum of what is allowed, I imagine. So, paradoxically, there is not much variation from a conventional news perspective at this point in time when we are all embraced by possibly the greatest, all-encompassing event ever.

I have spoken in the past of my tendency to Auto-Didactic Polymorphism (ADP). This is a pseudo-syndrome that I invented whilst pondering life over a cup of tea and a biscuit, some years ago. It occurs to me that ADP might be a strength in combating Lock-Down Syndrome (LDS), since I ought to be able to think of plenty of things to do. I decided, a few days ago, to make up a weekly timetable in order to provide myself with a degree of temporal structure (this is also something that the very lovely Stephen Fry advocated in a recent BBC interview). It has proven to be a more difficult task than I at first envisaged. Still, I did manage to cobble something together today. Let me tell you how I am getting on.

The timetable schedules some weekly domestic chores for Saturday morning and afternoon (1: cleaning the bathroom; 2: cleaning the bedroom). I am pleased to report that I have completed both of these tasks. I have a one-off event in the diary which must be done in about one hour’s time. I have agreed to play a one-hour show for Medecins-Sans-Frontieres at a virtual musical event in the 3rd Rock Grid, Open Sim, on the Internet. I shall get ready for that shortly.

The other thing that I have to do is to spend some time on a new sketch (I have set aside three sessions per week for drawing/painting). However, I am stuck on this one, at the moment. The other day I decided to move on from my Doppelganger project (you can see this on my website). I have not yet worked out what I want to sketch next. If I was Van Gogh, I could just put a bunch of sunflowers in a vase, I suppose, but that doesn’t inspire me. You could say that this blog is a displacement activity, to hide my creative inadequacy on the well-sharpened pencil front. I’ve already had two cups of tea, to no avail. And my next blog was not due on the timetable until next Wednesday.

First day of the new regime and it is falling apart already! When all else fails, I guess one can always read a book. Speak to you later. Bye for now.

Day #005 of my Self-Isolation

March 21, 2020

It is day #005 of my Voluntary Self-Isolation (VSI). It is 0500 in the early morning and, having woken up at 0400, I find myself unable to get back to sleep. Thus I am sitting at my computer, sipping a mug of decaf tea, grinding out this desultory blog.

I am due to receive my first supermarket delivery this morning. I am hoping this will go smoothly; it is essential that it does, if my attempt at VSI is to be successful.

In terms of passing the time through the weeks, I’m thinking it would be good if I could set up a daily phone chat to friends/family (maybe a different person each day of the week). I suppose my Internet shows could provide enough virtual social interaction for Monday and Thursday. Apart from that, I usually speak with my brother on Sundays and my friend Tom on Fridays. So, that leaves Tue/Wed/Sat to be covered. I could knock one of those days out with my friend Patrick, although he hates strict plans/schedules; he is more of a spontaneous person. I need to give this some more thought.

So far, my reading has been sporadic, at best, and my sketching is going very slowly. I think I need to move beyond the ‘dopplegangers’ project. I had been intending to build a virtual gallery on the 3RG (3rd Rock Grid) on the Open Sim space (Internet). I could think about that, too.

I understand what the UK government is trying to do in terms of managing the Corvid-19 virus pandemic in England. They want a series of flat peaks, low enough for the NHS to be able to deal with at any given time. In other words, they are going to crack down on social interaction to flatten the peaks, but when new cases start to fall away they will relax the rules to allow a bit more interaction so a few more folks can get the virus. Then they will apply the breaks to social interaction to stop the rise of infection surging past the capacity of the NHS. This will go on, up and down, until the entire population has had the virus or a vaccine has been developed and the vulnerable groups are inoculated.  Current thinking seems to be that it will take at least 12 to 18 months for the new vaccine to be developed and tested.

The government is currently injecting vast amounts of money into society (businesses, public institutions, individuals temporarily unable to work due to VSI, etc). This is tantamount to printing money and might well be seen as a form of inflation. A less toxic interpretation would be to see the raising of government loans as a way of spreading the cost of the Corvid-19 episode over many years into the (possibly distant) future. However, I have to admit that I have not yet got my head around how, precisely, this is going to affect the person on the Clapham omnibus when all is said and done. Ordinarily, the value of one’s cash would be decimated. Grounds for optimism seem scant!

It is now just past 0600 and I should go back to bed and try to get some more sleep. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Pondering Covid-19 at MMXX-03-18

March 18, 2020

Hello, my dear Blogophiles!

I have decided to share my thoughts on the Covid-19 situation. I should perhaps add that these thoughts will be highly subjective, coming from the bowels of my slightly dodgy cortex! My family have requested to be left out of the picture.  You may therefore consider them airbrushed (as if with the image editing software one might use on a photograph or video representation, in order to make them vanish).

In terms of my demographics, I am a white male living in England and I am 75 years old. I am, generally speaking, healthy. Indeed I take no medication whatsoever on a daily basis. However, my age defines me as belonging to the At Risk category for purposes of this Covid-19 chat.

Probability of Death

Let me start by talking about death. The annual UK Caucasian death risk, throughout the age range, is greater for a man than for a woman. When I was around 30 my risk would have been about 1 in 1200; had I been a woman it would have been around 1 in 2500. I have now joined the 75 – 85 bracket and my risk is 1 in 15; were I a woman it would be in the region of  1 in 20.

Of course, we all die some time and the risk that each and every one of us will die at some point in the future is 1 in 1 (certainty). Looking back to when I was 30 I took various steps to improve my longevity. I quit cigarette/pipe smoking and I took up regular thrice-weekly jogging (to an easy-going half-marathon distance) in order to push the likely end-date further into the future. I also swam regularly, although never more than  20 lengths in any one session. I did not want to become one of those obsessive mile-a-day thrashers.

I had it in the back of my mind that my father had died when he was 40-ish. I was part of the post-W.W.2 baby boom and he died when I was a baby. So, I grew up thinking I should probably die in my 40s, irrational as this might seem. Even though I never knew my father, his death had a huge impact on my life, since I was shipped off to a rather severe boarding school from the age of 8 (to 18); it was a charitable orphanage, run along the lines of a minor public school.

The current pandemic has re-kindled many thoughts about the flames of death in my head as I am sure it must be doing for other folk at this time, too. I need to put this in perspective. Given that there is a 1 in 15 chance that I shall die of natural causes next week, anyway, I’m not sure that Covid-19 is going to shorten these odds by much for me, at least if I behave prudently and more or less follow the prevailing health guidelines. So you may be forgiven for thinking that I should resolve to stop obsessing about it!

Worst Case Scenario

This morning, as a cognitive exercise, I sat with pencil and doodled out a list-wise sketch of what things might look like if the worst were to happen. I tried  to imagine the scope of the disaster on a scale that might be bracketed in terms of its magnitude with nuclear war, or unlimited climate change. Here goes…

Let us assume that the virus incapacitates the basic foundations of society. Admittedly, this might require the virus to show sufficient aggression to re-infect cured individuals in devastating ways but, hey, I am thinking worst case here.

  • Transport will be reduced to an irregular, unpredictable, sporadic flow.
  • Energy (electricity, gas, motor fuel) supplies will slow to a dribble.
  • Water will cease to come through the taps; if it does it will be impure.
  • Sewage will back up and, due to lack of water, will not be flushed away.
  • Government departments and local city councils will become depopulated and will no longer function effectively.
  • Communications will gradually die out: Internet, TV, Radio, Smartphone, Telephone. How many people, setting aside the Canadian Mounties, know semaphore?
  • Food supplies will dry up.
  • The Police and the Armed Forces will be decimated.
  • Crematoriums and funeral directors will no longer be in operation.
  • Corpses will be left to rot where they expire.
  • Angry and desperate mobs will roam the streets aggressively seeking food and water.
  • Society will gradually rescind into anarchic chaos.

So, what am I to do?

  • Keep half an eye on the currently evolving situation
  • Fix what is fixable on a daily or weekly basis but don’t fret what is out of my control
  • Make prudent plans, as necessary but don’t overthink it all (which, of course, is probably what I am doing right now!)
  • Go forward on the assumption that I shall probably die, anyway, BEFORE the worst case scenario (see above) arrives. Hopefully this will be of natural causes. If I die from Corvid-19, unattended on a trolley in a hospital corridor, then so be it. There is a very strong element of Que sera, sera in this situation.

 

Out of the Ashes of Despair Arise Small Flickers of Joy.

  • I am content to eat a reduced, plain diet of basic food rations. No problem.
  • In Voluntary (or Compulsory) Self-Isolation, I shall have a lot of time to do stuff.
  • Assuming most facilities still operate a roughly OK service (electricity, Internet, phone etc) I can put some time into:

Music

  • Piano & guitar practice (N.B. a concept of future is implied in the notion of practice)
  • Composition of original songs
  • Streaming my music shows to Second Life virtual community on the Internet

 

Art

  • Continuing with my pencil sketches
  • Getting back into pen & India ink work
  • Returning to watercolour painting

 

My Website

Updating and expanding the www.lewismusic.co.uk site

Reading

Self-Isolation precludes using the local libraries. However, I have many books on my shelves at home (light novels and more serious tomes) that I can read/re-read. More than enough to keep me happy

Writing

I am in the process of writing a novel called ‘The Alien Biographer’. This book has been in hiatus for a month or so. I think I should be able to bring it back on stream. Interestingly, it is a fictional biography of someone who shares my cohort exactly!

Gardening

I am fortunate to have a small garden and there is no reason why I should not work on that in the coming months. Self-Isolation may prevent me from going to the local garden centre, but I may be able to order plants to be delivered (I have done this Pre-Corvid-19 ~ would that be Pre-Corvid-XIX ?). Planting for next season is inherently optimistic!

In Conclusion 

I thought I would like to share my current musings on the dreadful situation in which we find ourselves. If you wish to comment on this post, could you entitle your comment in a meaningful way, such that I can separate it from the SPAM that tends to clog up blogs of this nature. Finally, may I wish you and yours the best of luck in all this.

Goodbye for now,

John (a.k.a. Fyrm Fouroux)

 

 

 

Taking stock in MMXX

March 15, 2020

Not sure what I am doing in terms of my media activities. My Twitter account has been quiet for over a year and I have almost no followers (hardly surprising). The fact that Trump seems to rule the world via Twitter causes me to wonder whether I should get into it a bit more, although I can’t think of a good reason to do that. I have not blogged since October 2019, and here we are in MMXX (don’t you just love those Roman numerals?)

I started working on a series of pencil sketches which I have put up on my website here on the doppelgangers page. I’ve done nine so far.

I had been writing a lot of new songs using the Cubase DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I uploaded home studio recordings of these to the bandcamp site. I have just under 30 tracks on my page, all with my original artwork, lyrics to each of the songs; I don’t know if anybody is listening to the songs, but there has not been a single download from the site. All I am asking is £1 GBP to buy the track download. I just thought it would help pay for some of my production costs, studio equipment, website rental, and so forth. It is quite time-consuming to do the writing, recording and artwork; I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth the candle. BTW, that is an interesting phrase. In the old days, prior to household electricity, to stay up late writing would involve lighting a candle in order to see what one was doing. My mother used to have to light a candle to go upstairs to bed, in the winter. I grew up in a house with an outside toilet in which there was no electric light; my mother kept, on the floor, a candle in a holder and a box of matches, in case anyone needed to use it at night. Happy days!

Last year I did attempt to do some VLOGS (video podcasts) and, like everything else, virtually nobody watched them. I quit doing that.

I continue to play my live music shows in Second Life. Nowadays I play two gigs per week (I have my schedule up on this website). There is a lively group called ‘The Wailers’ who attend regularly, along with my Internet friends Ferdy, Madelin, and others. At present, a few other fans log in from time to time but that is about the size of my audience. Given that I play on a virtual world-wide stage, my audience may therefore be regarded as modest by any reckoning.

I have written two novels and they are both available (printed as single copies, when the order is placed with the Internet pubishers). I guess they are a bit pricey but nobody has ever bought one (well, my good friend Tom did, I think). The relevant links are on my website.

I’ve currently got two new songs written but they are not yet recorded and copyrighted. I’ve also been working on a new novel. However, I am starting to wonder whether this creative stuff is worth doing at all. One possibility (given my age of LXXV and the likelihood of a Covid-19 death for old gits – in the offing) would be to fritter my time away, instead. I could: read more airport novels (but not at airports); watch more Crap Cable Movies; vegetate; take more naps; watch NEWS-24 ~ enjoy a quiet retirement at home (ROFL). Hmmmh.

Change to my Second Life Regular Performance Days

October 12, 2019

Hello My Dear Blogophiles,
Sorry it has been so long since the last entry. Anyway, this blog is to inform you about changes in my Internet music show dates & to tell you about what I am currently doing, music-wise.

As from today, I shall be playing the following regular shows:
MONDAYS (Each week at midday – Terra Fyrmusica, Second Life) – but NOT the 1st Monday of the month.
MONDAY (First Monday of each month at 10 a.m. – Fyrm by the Waters Edge, 3rd Rock Grid)
THURSDAYS (Each week at midday – Cafe Musique, Second Life)

At present, I have no other regular gigs in my callendar. ALL the above times are expressed in terms of the Second Life time zone which is the same as that of Los Angeles in the States. Hope that is clear!

I will just say a few words about my current musical interests and activities. Since August 2019 I have brought on stream three new songs. These have all been arranged and recorded in my home studio using the D.A.W. [Digital Audio Workstation] called CUBASE. They are fully orchestrated with a rhythm section (drums & bass), so I don’t classify them as ‘live music’ in the true sense of the word. At present, I am using one of these songs as an Interval Song which I stream up in the middle of my show (between the guitar and the piano halves). As you know, it usually takes me a few minutes to sort things out in my studio when I move between instruments, so this is working well, I feel. Unfortunately, I still leave my avatar playing guitar when he should be sat at the piano tickling the ivories, but usually somebody reminds me!

If I can keep up the pace and pressure on my new compositions, I may alter the format of my show into 3 sections, as opposed to the present 2 sections (guitar; piano). The 3 section format would be: 1) Guitar songs 2) Studio DAW songs 3) Piano songs. This is just a dream at present; I am nowhere near moving to that stage of organisation right now. My present thinking is to move back more heavily into original composition and gradually reduce the number of covers I play within my shows. I will say a few more words about that.

I have never enjoyed large audiences at my shows (1800 gigs, since January 2008). An audience of 10 avatars would constitute an extraordinary LARGE crowd for me! However, that having been said, I have always had a small number of EXTREMELY loyal followers, and without them I would be lost! I originally included covers in my song lists, thinking they might attract more folks to my style of music/songs, but that has manifestly NOT worked, over the years. I feel a constant urge to apologise to Laya, Vicki and the show hosts at Cafe Musique as I watch their guests TP out in droves while I get stuck into my show. In a very basic sense, I can’t do anything about that. All I can do, is do what I do. I know that my music is an acquired taste (perhaps a bit like Guinness or Malt Whiskey) and I have to live with it. That is not a problem at my small venue Terra Fyrmusica (which I rent at a very reasonable rate from my good friend Ferdy) but for the owners of top quality live music venues such as Cafe Musique, I wish I could do better.

Well, that’s quite a bit to get off my chest, as they say. I hope you are all OK, and that those of you who used to come to the Monday Terra Fyrmusica shows in the past might think about returning in the near future?
Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles 🙂

Annoying TV Presenters

April 12, 2019

 

On watching programmes such as Gardeners’ World (BBC 2: with Monty Don & Carol Klein et al), Van Gogh (Sky Arts: with Kate Bryan & Lachlan Goodie et al) on my TV channels (I am based in the UK), I notice that many of the folks fronting these shows seem to be suffering from:

Manic Presenter Syndrome (MPS). Hopefully a cure will soon be found!

Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

AtQ-IQ: Answering The Question – Inability Quotient

April 8, 2019

Amidst the awfulness that is Brexit, one comes across so many politicians and commentators who appear to be incapable of answering perfectly sensible questions. I’m thinking of assembling a list. The idea was sparked as I watched Andrew Marr interviewing Rebecca Long-Bailey on his Sunday morning TV programme (7th April, 2019). Here is a graphic I made to sum up my response.

Btw, I am no longer doing my podcasts, although I might start up again at some point. Talk to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Another podcast published today

January 22, 2019

Hello!

I have just put another podcast up, today – click this link – (my podcast page)

I got in a muddle in terms of responding to recent comments and may have accidentally deleted them. Sorry if I did that to one of your comments (well, not sorry if it was spam).

I have a busy day today, so will say no more here. Listen to the podcast if you want a glimpse at my current ‘slice of life’.

Podcast #5 is now available

January 14, 2019

Hello!

It is Monday and I have managed to keep to my resolution of doing a weekly podcast (which is published each Monday). I keep blowing hot and cold on the idea: sometimes I listen to it and think it is a bit boring, other times it sounds OK. I think I prefer the episodes where I play a bit of piano in the background (as I have done in today’s Episode #5).

I’ve just been listening to the Drella songs by Lou Reed and John Cale. My virtual friend Ferdy put me on to this; I think he saw some similarities between my approach and John Cale’s. Anyway, I found the songs to be inspirational. I am still sitting on 4 original songs that are still not practised up to performance level. I really must get this sorted out!

Well, this is just a short note to let you know the new podcast series is now rolling. Talk to you later, my dear blogophiles!

Python

December 12, 2018

Today I wrote my first program in the computer programming language called Python. It was, as tradition demands, a program that printed out on screen the message:

Hello World!

And, as always, it is very satisfying to get that far. I am hoping to use Python to help me with the perspective problem in sketching that I have been wrestling with for some time. Specifically, when Vanishing Points are a long way outside the margins of the sketchbook frame, how do you work out where parallel lines should exit the drawing frame on the sketchbook page. For some time now, I have been working this out using basic school trigonometry and a hand-held calculator. I just think it would be nice to write my own app to take care of it for me in future.

Of course, this could be a displacement activity to avoid pushing ahead with my piano and drawing practice and projects. Another factor that occurs to me is that I am thinking of having an ‘un-festive’ season this year (apart from cooking a traditional turkey dinner on Xmas day). So, getting into Python (and returning to podcasting) could provide a way for me to avoid the excesses of Xmas and New Year. Since I quit drinking (over two years ago, now) this time of year has less of an appeal, anyway.

Well, I had better Bah-Humbug my way off and leave you in peace.

Bye for now!