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Brute force and erudition.

glenatron
Date: 2017-02-02 22:04
Subject: It wasn't me that you outsmarted
Security: Public
Location:Brexit Britain
Mood:angry
Music:Aimee Mann - Stupid Thing
Tags:politics
Well our government voted to begin the process of leaving the EU, which I suppose that we knew they would in spite of all the hopes one might have that there was something that could be done to prevent it. I was angry with them all over again. Angry with our main opposition party for not doing their job and opposing anything whatsoever angry with the government for the disaster they have created.

Since the referendum and perhaps doubly in the last few weeks, I have been angry and sad about the state of politics the whole time. It's easier to be sad about it, because that just sits there like a rainy day, while the anger roils and tumbles inside me and makes me want to create terrible furious music or become a politician just so I could kick their laughable parties to pieces and turn our pallid faux-democracy into something that could actually benefit the public. Imagine being in a country where people felt their voice counted enough that they didn't have to tear their own economy to pieces in the vague hope of someone somewhere noticing they existed?

There is a lot that would need to be changed, and although I have thought about politics for a long time I am also not a big fan of working in London or meetings or any of the other things that seem to go with the field. That assumes that I could get myself elected, which would be a little implausible in itself although I think the speeches and talking with people parts would probably be easier than the parts that needed me to be organised or fill in forms. Those would be rubbish.

So yesterday I was feeling sour and resentful and angry but for some reason I listened to this old song and it made me feel better. They are just clueless really, just stupid people making terrible decisions because it's the only way to further their craven self-interest. Most of us didn't vote for them anyway, just a few people who were lucky enough to be in the right constituencies, so if they're massive dolts it is an entire national system that enables them.

It's not a political song, but maybe anything can be political when you're in the right mood.
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glenatron
Date: 2017-01-30 21:18
Subject: A simple form of goodbye
Security: Public
Music:The Levellers - The Boatman
Tags:music, the patient wild
When I was sixteen, four of us went around to our friend's house. He had a drum kit and we had guitars and a keyboard, so we shut ourselves in his room and started playing together. As far as I can remember we mostly played Enter Sandman by Metallica, maybe a Levellers song and we made up a riff of our own. It was, I daresay, somewhere close to the worst possible sound. I had never felt so unbelievably cool as I did right then. I was in a band. The next few weeks I did every job I could persuade my parents to pay me for, sold some belongings - including selling my nice guitar to my brother, if I recall correctly - and bought myself a bass and amp. One of our guitarists was substantially better than me, the other was probably not as good, it seemed natural that I would be the bass player. Our friend with the keyboard, which was not of absolute utility, became the singer by default.

Now, I'm not going to say that the Way Out Exits were the best band in history, but I can definitely say that we believed ourselves to be the best band in history. Our singer was seldom entirely in key, the rest of us were seldom in time and our drummer was incredibly good and kind of kept everything together musically. Inexplicably we never achieved the fame that we felt we deserved, but until we went off to university that band was core to my identity and the closest I have ever been to cool.

In the intervening twenty four years, I have almost always been in a band of one kind or another. As far as I can tell The Patient Wild is the eighth band I've played live with. I have written songs and worked with autocratic songwriters. Recorded an album that you can still find in the bargain bin if you are super lucky ( or still on Amazon aparently ) and probably played somewhere between one and two hundred gigs. It's been pretty cool.

This weekend we recorded a final set of songs with The Patient Wild. The best band I have been in by a broad margin and ( with the exception of those heady early days ) probably the most fun. We're a little older, musically confident and we know how to be a band. I am playing lead guitar and appropriately enough I'm playing that nice guitar I sold to my brother way back at the start. It is a real pleasure to play with this team, but there are babies and more on the way, our drummer is moving to Cardiff and we have barely played in the last year. This weekend was our chance to get the songs that we care about most, our latest and best, recorded for posterity and for us. We did an amazing job in terms of getting everything down in a very limited time and I'm super-impressed with everyone's performances. Listening back to the vocal takes it sounded pretty great even ahead of mixing. We won't hear the final product for a while, but I think it's going to be something special.

And you know what? I think that's it for me with bands. I've had a great time, but I don't need it any more. I'm too old to care about being on the scene, schmoozing promoters or struggling to play a gig every night that god sends in order to get on the bill for better shows. This is part of the reason that music is a young person's game. Also having skirted the edges of the music industry, I wouldn't want to get any further into it. Even if it wasn't dying under the weight of the idea that music can and should be free, even if every band wasn't desperately struggling to get their voice heard among the tens of thousands of others, the industry itself is cruel and seems inordinately packed with terrible people. It is an engine that runs on crushed dreams, trying to sail a boat across a lake that has almost totally dried up.

I'll still play music- I enjoy writing and composing, writing and arranging for the podcast is a real pleasure and I have no doubt that Stu and I will collaborate for a long time, but unless some extraordinary offers show up I doubt we'll be taking it live again. We've done that. We were good, sometimes excellent, occasionally spellbinding, but in time playing to the band's partners, two other bands and a promoter on a Tuesday night in Basingstoke? I think I've done that enough for now.
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glenatron
Date: 2017-01-20 22:48
Subject: Where we find ourselves.
Security: Public
Tags:politics
I've been thinking a lot about politics over the last six months, as you might imagine. My political leanings are towards thinking that other people are mostly trying to do their best and that if you treat them fairly then the world could be pretty good but apparently that goes against the prevailing worldview right now.

One thing that I thought, growing up in the nineties in my privileged corner of England and later in Wales, was that there were battles that had been won. That racism and misogyny were still present, still a real problem, but that tides had turned. I might have believed that the arc of history bends towards justice, if you will.

I don't see that any more. What I see is that anything positive that one can create for society is a sandcastle, that it must be constantly shored up against the endless tide of darkness that would overwhelm and swallow it at the first opportunity. Battles aren't ever truly won, you just win a reprieve, a little time to shore up your foundations, perhaps to build the walls a little higher. We are fighting a relentless evil that cannot be defeated only turned back and briefly subdued because at its heart it is an idea, a story about how the past can be recovered, even if that past never happened in the first place. It is an insidious desire for the impossible and as long as people are willing to strive for it, to consider themselves superior to others for any reason aside perhaps from their own achievements and actions, that tide will keep rushing back.

I think about this a lot. I think about how it ties into the stories we have told, the ideas we have of ourselves. I have thoughts that wander between social theory and mysticism about how these things connect together, but I find myself also thinking of something a posted a very long time ago, a brief conversation with Carausius.

What I have learned however, is that words mean nothing. The only thing that can change the world is action. It needs to be the right action and it might need words to support it, but the action is what matters.
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glenatron
Date: 2016-05-21 10:52
Subject: Drawing conclusions, crudely
Security: Public
Tags:podcasting
On Thursday I posted episode twelve of our podcast Crudely Drawn Swords and it is going pretty well so far. We've now got a handle on the game we're playing and I feel as though we've managed to create a fun balance between ridiculous antics and grand adventure.

The great thing is that we've got a lot of really good feedback, people who aren't familiar with this style of podcast are surprised how enjoyable it is listening to other people playing a game. People who have listened to a few Actual Play shows think we're up to standard - obviously I am biased, but I would say we're as good as any I've heard, with the exception of Friends At The Table which transcends game podcasting altogether to just be the best thing one could possibly listen to. We're not there yet, but its nice to have a target. When I'm editing I often find myself crying with laughter at the quality of the ridiculousness on display. It turns out that the theory that if you have a collection of sufficiently funny and imaginative people that matters more than the structure they are working in, is pretty much right. So far a little over 500 people have listened to episode one and although that trails off somewhat, in the next couple of days we'll top 2000 total listens. That is approximately two thousand hours of our antics being listened to.

I have had to teach myself to process and edit voice recordings, to arrange strings and use linux midi tools ( which I've got better at as we've gone on, so I'll probably have to revisit the original theme ) in addition to getting better at running the game. As you might expect, hearing every word you say repeatedly is a good way to refine your storytelling and to pick up on every irritating mannerism.

So if you haven't given it a listen yet, I can confidently say that the first season will reward you, but if you want a more competent jumping-on point Season 2 will start in a couple of weeks. You can listen on Soundcloud or just search for "Crudely Drawn Swords" on iTunes or your podcast client of choice and we should turn up. The only proviso is that it's perhaps a little bit sweary and disreputable for the kids. That aside, it is our attempt to bring joy to everyone.
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glenatron
Date: 2016-03-20 22:15
Subject: Raising the bar
Security: Public
Tags:horsemanship
This weekend has been another clinic with Jeff Sanders, which has been pretty amazing. The thing about Jeff is that he builds you up from the start towards work that is at least equivalent to high school, and talks about it like it is just bread and butter riding. And the thing is, that to him it really is. That is a pretty inspiring environment to be working in - admittedly most of what we were actually working on was shoulder in/out ( mostly on four-tracks, like Gueriniere intended ), travers, renvers and then working onto half-pass and rollbacks. Everything is working towards flexibility and collection and also towards subtle riding - Jeff characterised me at the last clinic as suffering from "hand tourettes" and I've been working on trying to do less with my hands, which is paying off gradually but I still need to do less.

Jeff is very big on working in the bosal and Iris never seemed to like that, shaking her head and losing focus when wearing it, so I have barely used it. Jeff was suggesting that it might be easier to move forward with that than the snaffle - he doesn't use a snaffle bit at all with most horses - and I was keen to try so we spent our session this afternoon trying to get her more used to it. Jeff looked at how she responded, retied my mecate so there was a bit more length on the knot end and it wasn't tickling her chin. With this done Iris was quite happy with it, which is pretty great and I don't know if it would ever have occurred to me that this was the problem. So maybe Iris will make it as a hackamore horse after all.

Just like last time, I feel very inspired and immensely proud of my horse who was exemplary throughout. Iris is teaching me so much and with the expert guidance of brilliant human teachers it feels like we could achieve anything*.


---
*Except a nice peaceful trail ride, which is apparently beyond the limits possibility.
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glenatron
Date: 2016-02-21 11:54
Subject: Fevered filing
Security: Public
Obviously the next thing that happened was that I got hit by what was probably this winter's flu and spent two days in bed unable to move, which was tiresome and painful. This morning I woke up and the fever seems to have broken so I'm mostly just contending with the mother of all sore throats. It's not great, but it's better than I have been.

While my brain was cooking with fever it was trying to create a weird conflation of magic and data processing where it could file away aspects of things to create... something? So a person or their place in a story would be defined by a the way these aspects were slotted together. This was also to do with magic and also a literal filing system, one of which probably comes from watching Once Upon A Time with herecirm and the other from... I don't actually know. But every time I closed my eyes for the last two days my brain was back to obsessively filing aspects or deriving them or creating them and putting them in their drawers so I thought I'd note it down. Maybe I'll have a use for this information later, or maybe I'll just look back on it and think "oh yeah, brains are weird when you cook them."
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glenatron
Date: 2016-02-16 22:18
Subject: Decade 2006 - 2016
Security: Public
Tags:time's arrow
The title of this post harks back to a previous one which is, in itself, quite weird. I don't feel like I have been using LJ for more than a quarter of my life, but there it is.

This is the last day of my thirties and I have to say, I have come out of it richer than I went into it. Chatting with one of my colleagues about this I realised I have been a ninja, a cowboy, a rock guitarist and a wizard in the last ten years. So at the very least my twelve-year-old self could be well content with my achievements.

I have also been divorced, found true love, travelled to the far side of the world, made new friends, played interesting music and enjoyed a lot of fine stories along the way.

I am taking the next few days off work and plan to dedicate them to a) not putting any pressure on myself of any kind and b) deciding what I'm going to do with the next part of my life. Obviously in a way where I ensure that b doesn't conflict with a there. We'll see how that works out. Either way, I have a herecirm with me now, which makes everything better, and she's taking time out from work as well, so whatever we do will be together.
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glenatron
Date: 2016-02-12 23:41
Subject: I smiled and tried to arrange them
Security: Public
Tags:less than three
Perhaps slightly less than six years ago, after some kind of conversation that might have taken place on LiveJournal I made an exchange agreement with skiesfirepaved ( who you might know better as herecirm these days ) where we each agreed to send one another a playlist of songs. Both being music obsessives of different - but related - streaks, this seemed like a great way to hear some interesting songs and if I am open in my feelings now in a way I wasn't then, I can certainly say that I wanted to get to know her better. I listened to the music she sent me a lot and it made me very happy. Happier than I had been in a long time. Today I was reminded of one of the songs that I sent to her, which comes from one of my favourite albums by one of my favourite songwriters. It is fair to say that the chorus of this with its "you don't know how precious you are" may have carried a hint of the future about it then, but still rings true now. No matter how absolutely I express how much I treasure her, it feels like no more than a drop in the ocean.

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glenatron
Date: 2016-01-28 23:20
Subject: Adventures continue
Security: Public
Mood:pleased
Tags:podcasting
A month in and I'm really happy with how the podcast is going - we have racked up a couple of hundred listens already - in fact at the time of writing 149 people have listened to Episode 1. That's a tiny bit amazing considering we have only really promoted it to friends and acquaintances. We've also got a lot of really positive feedback from people who experienced the actual lols from listening to it, which I can get behind as I often find myself giggling when I'm editing. Until I have to edit out my 1000th "Um... Er... Sooo..." of course, at which point I pretty much just want to gaffa tape my mouth up for being so damn stupid.

I've also set up a Tumblr for it, though I don't know how much use it will see. If we ever get any fan art through I will be the happiest, though I think we'll need to rack up a hundred times as many listeners before that becomes a likelihood...
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glenatron
Date: 2016-01-26 23:04
Subject: Questions of science, science and progress
Security: Public
Tags:the future
I am terribly close to being forty, my friends. Not quite yogurt-in-the-fridge close yet, but within a week or two I will be.

I don't know if this is related to having an idea of turning my life upside-down, but it may not be unrelated. I think the other part was some of the inspiration I got from riding with Jeff Sanders in December, which really got me thinking about where I want to go with my horsemanship and with my life if I am not to spend my last days looking back on what I might have done if I had only applied myself a little more.

One thing I discovered, whilst having these thoughts, was that this course exists and that if I wanted to do a taught postgraduate equine course in this country it is about my only option. The idea got its hooks in me and after speaking with the member of staff who looks after it, we decided to go and visit Aberystwyth and see what we thought of the place.

The first thing I noticed is that it is far away - even if not far in distance it is not quick travelling, once you get away from the south coast of Wales there aren't any dual carriageways and even if Google hadn't sent us down a dramatic single-track road through the mountains ( THANKS GOOGLE ) instead of on the relatively broad and easy A-road, it would have taken a long time to get from Newport to Aber.

We visited the University and I got a guided tour showing some of the facilities and talking through what the course consists of and whether I would be suitable for it. There is a lot of biology there- if you look at the course modules through that link, you'll see that a lot of it relates to fairly low level function and I would have to really up my game in that respect. I planned to study biology when I left sixth-form college but I realised at the last moment that I wouldn't enjoy it so I changed my course to philosophy. At that time I didn't have enough passion to balance out the parts I found boring, but I think horses have stoked that fire sufficiently that I would be able to push through and at the end of it I would have a much more comprehensive understanding of equines and how they work. Of course my real and deep interest is behavioural, but that is also the part I have the strongest grasp of and I think it would really be a case of bringing the rest of my knowledge up to that standard.

I would also come out with a lot of contacts around the industry and a good qualification from a well regarded university as a basis for moving from a profitable career with computers to an almost-certainly less profitable but more rewarding career with horses.

Aberystwyth itself is a nice town and I could see us being happy there- Sari and I have talked of relocating to Wales often and I expect it will happen sooner or later - but I did feel the distance from home. That said I live less than four miles from my parents now and I might well see them more if we were on the far side of the country just because I am bad at dropping by and visiting with people and my time is always full.

It would have been easy if the course overview had either been completely offputting or fired me up entirely, but of course life is seldom that simple ( and I am very rarely fired up entirely for any reason these days ) so I still have a decision to make.

It is really a two-part decision, maybe three-part:
1. Do I want to change everything, move elsewhere and begin a different kind of life?
2. If so, do I want to do it by enrolling on an MSc, moving to mid Wales and spending two years studying there?
3. If so, what do I plan to do at the end of it? Or do I just keep my eyes out for opportunity and see what the things I learn and the people I meet can take me towards?

There is also a diverging path - if I want to change my life, is this course the right way to do it? Could I move into a different direction- spend the money and time on learning in another way, work towards another qualification or move in a more entrepreneurial direction?

It is good to have so many opportunities, but it is also daunting and hard to know which direction to go. I'd be interested to hear from any of you who has done a course like this- or just gone back to university as a middle-aged mature student - how you feel it worked out.
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