Curiosity

Ever since the Curiosity rover left our planet last November on it’s mission to Mars, I have been waiting with much anticipation for it’s landing on the red planet. Last Sunday the wait ended with the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars. From what I have been reading and watching on the internet It appears the landing went off with out a hitch.

Hannah and I stayed up late on Sunday night to watch the NASA USTREAM of the landing. Here is a recap of the broadcast.

The landing on Mars was an amazing event to watch and I feel lucky that Hannah and I got to watch it together. After things calmed down, I could not help but noticed the abundance of Apple MacBook Pros everyone was using at NASA. Which lead me to post the following on Google+.

And then I created a meme from the post.

Since that Sunday we have had some more photos from Mars that are quite stunning. Its amazing what we can accomplished as a people when we work together for a common goal.

Over Reactions

Youseph's Head In a JarRelationships have always fascinated me. Why do some couples always fight about every-little-thing while others seems to have a very good understanding of one another? What keeps one couple from flying off the handle when hearing bad news while another couple is ready to rip each other apart?

Part of the answer to this, I think, is that we live in a world where everyone wants to talk and no one wants to listen. Everyone is trying to get their two cents in at exactly same time as everyone else. Which brings up a very interesting point. The world likes listeners.

Maybe it’s because in this highly addictive world of Twittering, facebooking, Google Plusing, and blogging everything that happens to you, we have forgotten how to listen to and console each other. Just by listening to what someone has to stay you are gaining that person’s trust and friendship. This puts you, the listener, is a position of importance to the people who are talking to you.

So, why do some couples in a relationship struggle and fight with each other while others, seemingly fewer, thrive and communicate better? I believe a majority of the blame for this kind of behavior can be placed on the media. Movies that are romantic comedies, books that are about love and life. These forms of entertainment have to have some kind of conflict built into them otherwise the movie or book would not be very long at all. Movie studios and book publishing companies would collapse and life as we know it would come to an end.

Have you ever watched a movie where the two main characters, who are in love with each other, over react to a situation or do something completely stupid that jeopardise their relationship? When that happens do you ever think to yourself; That is not how I would have handled that at all? I hate when that happens in a movie or a book. Nothing pulls me out of story more then when the characters do something so out of character. I think it is this kind of media. This kind of over reaction that happens in movies and books that affects us as a society and bleeds into our everyday lives causing us, a generally understanding and calm people, to overreact when similar issues arise in our private lives.

So how do we become an understanding and caring people again? How do we not fly off the handle the next time someone close to us tells us some bad news? I think the answer goes back to what I said earlier about listening. Listening is the key.

You have to teach yourself to listen. You can do this in small steps too. Lets say that tomorrow when you go out to lunch with your friends you are going just listen to what they say. How their day is going? How’s their job treating them? How’s the wife and kids? Whatever they want to talk about, go with them. Let them guide the conversation. If there is a lull in the conversation ask them questions based on what they have been talking about. But do try this selfless act. You’re going to learn a lot about your friends and what they go through. Who knows? You might even have some insight for them that would improve their life greatly. But the key here is to learn to listen and to ask questions that keeps your friends engaged. In their eyes you are going to become a very important and understanding person.

Next, how do you not overreact when you are in a relationship and your partner just gave you some disturbing news? Well, I think what you have to do is breath and listen to all that they have to say. Take in everything. Your partner is, in a way, exposed at this point so any lashed out retort on your part is going to only make the situation worse. I think the key here is take it all in. Don’t be like the characters in a movie or a book. Take in the information you are being told and process it. This may mean taking a day or more to yourself to do that. But do it so that when you do replay you are a rational and calm human being about it.

Look, I don’t claim to be a psychologist or to understand human behaviors or reaction. This post is a result of my own personal fascination of relationships and my observations of the world around which I live.

Southeast Alaska State Fair

Southeast Alaska State Fair Poster

For as long as I have been apart of Fire On Mcginnis, they have talked about one day playing the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. This year the band was invited over to play and everyone has been pretty excited about it. It has taken some hard work to get this all lined up and ready to go by some of the more active members of the band. They had to figure out how to transport not only our music equipment, but also our PA system on the Alaska state ferry as well as where and when we would be playing.

So, what I know of Haines is not much. It has a population of around 1,800 people and is home to the surviving set pieces from Walt Disney‘s White Fang picture, which was filmed there in 1990. From Haines you can drive up to Anchorage, but you do have to go through Canada to get there.

Packing up our gear

Armed with that little knowledge, I packed my bags, drum gear, some food because of my Slow Carb Diet, and waited for my bass player, Matt to show up with his wife to take me to the ferry Dock. At just before 7AM we arrived at the ferry dock and got our tickets and boarded the ship we would be on for the next four and half hours to Haines.

The ferry itself is filled with all kinds of nooks, crannies and corners that people can tuck themselves away in. My band and I found one such place with windows so we could see the scenery float by. During the trip we were able to review some of the songs. An acoustic guitar fiddle will pulled out at one point as music was rehearsed. The rest of the trip was filled with reading and napping.

Fogcutter Bar
The Fogcutter Bar

When we docked in Haines and exited the vessel we drove straight to the Fogcutter Bar to unload and set up our gear.The Southeast Alaska State Fair was in full swing, so we would not start performing till after the fairgrounds closed for the night around 11PM. We took a couple of hours and staged all of our musical equipment and then decided to get some food.

After eating we all headed back up to the Fogcutter and finished our setup. A quick two song sound check later, the five of us piled into three vehicles and headed to our respective lodgings for this trip to take a nap. Around this time I realised that Haines only had the Edge network available to smartphone users. So updating Google+ was impossible and getting so much as a text message out most of the time was either hit or miss.

When 10:30 rolled around Mat (bass player), Mark (guitar player) and myself (drummer) packed ourselves into Mark’s car and headed back to the Fogcutter bar. It was still light out and it would have been sunny if not for the clouds in the sky. At least it was warm(ish).

In the bar, I asked the barkeeper (I have been wanting to say that this whole post) to fill up my aluminium canteen with ice water which I carried back to behind my drum set. A few minutes of checking cables and our sound and we were off playing music moving through our song list one by one.

The Haines crowd loved the music and was very enthusiastic for us to play our brand of Celtic rock music. Dancing and cheers went on all night long. The people of Haines could not have been more welcoming and wonderful to us.

For this bar gig I switched to using baseball gloves over my normal golfing gloves. This is mostly because I could not find a store in Juneau that sold left and right handed golfing gloves and I just should bite-the-bullet and order them online already. The thing I did not like about using the baseball gloves is that they were to padded. So my hands could not articulate themselves as well. I opted to keep them on my hands over having my hands all bloody and blistered by the end of the night.

I think it was close to 4AM when we wrapped up at the fogcutter. To celebrate we all went outside to smoke a cigar and talk about how the show went. The sun was coming back up already. While we talked people from the bar came out to compliment us and eventually Mike (guitar and bagpipes) and Marth (Guitar, Fiddle and Vocals) grabbed their bagpipes and fiddle and played a couple of songs outside for those of us enjoying the cool night air. It was a wonderful night.

The next morning I was sore and slow to move. My back just felt like one bit knotted up mess. I stretched out a little bit and drank a lot of water and started to feel better. I think it was close to 2pm before we left for the fair grounds. There we found food and entertainment with several food booths and two musical stages.

With food quickly filling the void in our guts we started to work out the plan of getting our musical gear onto the main stage for our 6PM performance. A lot of which was a blur for me. Maybe because I have slight stage fright and maybe because there was just so much to get done between getting on stage, playing music, and getting all our gear back off again. There was a lot to do in a short amount of time.

When it was time for us to get everything setup we all worked together and worked quickly to setup ourselves on the stage. We were introduced as “Fire On McGinnis from Juneau Alaska”. With that we started playing. Two songs in I broke a drum stuck and flung it out into the crowd.

Four songs into our set at the fair and I broke my throne. How does that even happen? But I did it. I was able to stay balanced through to the end of the song we were on. Luckily there was a spare throne at the back of the stage.

I remember the show going really well and getting lots of applause after each song we played. We ended out set with cheers from the crowd. Together as a group we got all of our gear off the stage so the next band could setup quickly. We got all our gear packed up in our vehicles and then spent the rest of the night enjoying all that the fair had to offer.

The part of the fair I enjoyed the most was that it was right next to the White Fang set. I spent a lot of time walking up and down the boarded sidewalks and smoking a cigar in the cool night air.

We got back to Juneau early Sunday afternoon, unloaded all our gear. What a weekend!

 

Wet Shaving

Safety Razor
Safety Razor

Shaving is something that has historically never been an enjoyable experience for me. Shaving cream always dried out my face and shavers like The Gillette MACH series of shavers dull to quickly and cost way to much to keep replacing the blades. But then I learned about  “Traditional” wet shaving.

Basically, a friend of mine turned me onto this guy on youtube who taught me how to shave like a man. In fact, my friend likes to say “he’s probably single-handedly taught half the internet to shave”. That’s how good we all think he is.

Earlier this year, I logged onto Amazon and picked up a traditional shaving brush and soap. I also picked up the Merkur Double Edge Razor. Also known as a safety razor. Your grandfather probably had one. The blades cost a fraction to replace compared to Gillette’s cartridges. The resulting shaving of using a safety razor while wet shaving is amazing. Closest shave of my life. Shaving is no longer a chore either. I actually look forward to doing it in the mornings.

My new found joy and enthusiasm in wet shaving has resulted in writing a post for the website, Sharpologist. Which is run by the same guy who made the youtube videos that have taught the internet how to shave. I hope you will all check out my post there and maybe learn about wet shaving while you’re at it.

The Memory Palace

Memories, remembering, and how thought and the recall of thought works for people is something I often find myself thinking about a lot. I think this is because at one point in my life I needed to be on antidepressants and they really messed up my short-term memory. So, I find myself thinking about how people remember things and recall things.

The first time I started thinking about how the brain and thoughts work was early on in school. I was told by my music teacher that the human mind can only handle seven independent things/thoughts at one time. If you add an eighth in the mix, one of the other seven will no longer be available to you.

The way this applies to music and my drumming, he told me, was that when you are drumming you are using all four of your limbs behind the drum kit. Your arms and legs. Each one is doing something independent of the other. That is four things your mind is tracking. You are also keeping time in your head and anticipating what is coming next. That is six things. The seventh thing I find myself doing while I am playing music is just either looking around and being observant of the other musicians. Sometimes I’m thinking about random things such as what I am going to make for dinner or what is on the agenda for work tomorrow. That’s my seven things at once. The brain can’t handle anymore than that. This point gets proven over and over again with me during band practice whenever anyone hits a note that is not correct, or plays something different. This by default makes me drop whatever extra thing I am thinking at the time to focus on the change in the music. Sometimes I won’t be as lucky and forget what I was thinking. Sometimes one of my legs or arms will quit working and the drum beat I will be playing will sound wrong. So a lot of discipline goes into being focused and prepared for something unexpected when I am playing music with my band.

In the past I have talked about how much I like, and use, the Getting Things Done (GTD) work methodology developed by David Allen. It’s great for keeping tasks and projects, both work and personal, organised in a way that allows you to get things completed quickly and efficiently. But the thing that makes GTD so great is the fact that it frees up your mind to allow you to have ideas. Unlike remembering things, having ideas is something the mind is great at doing.

“Your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.” – David Allen

By being able to put your tasks down in a system that you trust allows you to focus on your next action rather than spending your time worried about the overall project. It really is a life changing way to work and get things done. If you have not looked into before, I highly recommend that you do so.

The latest thing I have been learning about almost contradicts GTD in a way. The Memory Palace is an ancient way of remembering anything. By having a house for all your thoughts that are triggered by distinct locations within the house of your minds eye you can recall any kind of information. See the videos below to better understand what I am talking about.

Self Publishing Steps

When I self published my first book ALL THAT MATTERS I learned a lot of stuff as I went along about self publishing. I wrote down a lot of these things to make my todo list for my next book MIRROR THROUGH TIME a little bit easier for me self publish. I want to share that todo list with you today to see if anyone thinks I am leaving something out.
  • Finish Writing Book (so close)
  • Have the book sent to an editor to be edited
  • Have a cover designed
  • Consult with a PR firm
  • Have an audio book made
  • Have a physical copy of the book made
  • Have Review copies of the book to give out.
  • Contact as many book review blogs as possible to review my book (currently have a list of 300 and growing)

So what do you think? Am I leaving anything out? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think I should add or do differently.