Category: stories

Friday on my mind

Coronoavirus lockdown day 23

A good Friday, in the sense the work week had rounded out, jobs were done, and there was an end of week catch-up with friends.

We played online 500. Everyone’s the same – staying put, hoping it’s going to be over, half-working, half-wondering what on earth the future holds.

Bit of rain, hoping the citrus and pumpkin plants keep growing.

Not much else to report – except perhaps a toothache. Hoping it calms down, a bit and holds off. We’ll see.

Feedback is good

Coronavirus lockdown day 22

Today was a good day – not one, but two pieces of unsolicited and positive feedback.

Nate Fakes @

So that means tomorrow it might all fall apart, but today was good. We take the wins where we can get them!

Balance? There is no balance.

Coronavirus lockdown day 20

Today was a run around, email, chase the tail, task, task, re-task kind of day. Took some time away from the computer, persistent slight headache kind of day. Felt like everything was out of balance. Plus it was cold as a well digger’s duck.

I was reading recently about how there is (or should be) no work-life balance. There’s only life, right? You do work so you can have a life, not the other way around. If you did get your life magically in balance – you’d try and capture that; and stop. You’d hope you didn’t get it out whack again.

The problem is that doesn’t allow much room for change, and everything is change at the moment. It’s also a false dichotomy – suggesting there are only two possible and mutually exclusive alternatives. In an infinite universe, anything is possible, as the saying goes.

So if work life balance is wrongly framed, our focus on balance is misplaced. Humans like the binary choice, but there’s a wide spectrum of possibility for us to choose from. How we solve what work and life look like is a question for many generations to come.

That was randomly philosophical, wasn’t it?

Rain, and a snow day?

Coronavirus lockdown day 19

Monday, is a Monday, Tuesday’s a perfect day with a wind that chills you to the bone …

DD Smash, Outlook for Thursday

It rained, which we needed, but it was cold. It feels like snow tonight. I’m eagerly looking out for the pumpkins to sprout or the citrus to spring into life. A small joy was picking some coriander of the plant to add to the night’s curry.

A very quiet day, with some late work tasks.

Found a helpful, and often updated timeline on the RNZ website.

What day is it? Where am I?

Coronavirus lockdown day 18

Sunday? Yes, It’s Easter Sunday. I know this because I went out today. Yes, into the real world. The supermarket. It’s this place where food and drink and household products are stored in something called aisles.

You get hand sanitiser at the door, navigate your way around line by line, keeping distant from others.

It was raining and cold when I went, about 7pm. There wads zero traffic, and only a few people in this place. No security or police anywhere, just a few folk quietly going about their lockdown.

We now have resupplied, and will last another week before another trip is required.

Finding your inner Nick Cave

While working on one thing with the band, another thing came up. Using some old lyrics I had, I added a deep and gravelly vocal – well as low and grumbly as I could get, with the aid of a little compression). It came out kind of desparate / country / Nick Cave / Johnny Cash. Pretty happy with it.

Average Saturday

Coronavirus lockdown day 17

The dog was restless. Up several times. Each of us got a turn to be barked at and ignored and to stand by the door waiting.

Morning chores were going okay until I was outside putting stuff in the rubbish and heard the drain bubbling away. So it was off with the cover, on with the gloves, and yep: Autum drain dig. Hair and gunk and leaves and who knows wtf else; I’m just pleased there weren’t any rats this time.

Cleaned up. Had lunch. Watched the broadcast, more deaths, sadly.

Hacked more of the hebe and watered the citrus plant. Dug some holes for some hostas, but the soil was very dry, so not sure how they will go. need to water tonight. Got some wood in for the rain ahead, just in case it’s cold.

Had a good recording session before tea, put a new twist on an old thing. Took many, many takes but I think it will be okay. After tea was woeful, so I stopped. Fingers just not working. Lost motivation in the evening, meh to everything. Usually a sign of tiredness.

Got the Wii out of storage so we can have a bit of a tournament later. Something to look forward to!

Good Friday: the hacking of the hebe

Coronavirus lockdown day 16

As good a Friday as could be expected, I guess. Early start, thanks to the dog. Fine weather. Worked on some music. Did gardening – or more correctly hacking of hebe. It was about 3m in diameter and not much foliage. It’s a stump of twigs now really.

Also trimmed the feijoa – this will ensure the fruit doesn’t drop on the neighbours. It’s obviously a stress point for them, as we got another reminder today.

I cleared the little garden down the front of the section. Found a citrus plant behind the hebe – we have some vague memory it is a mandarin, but we will wait and see. Pleased that it lived, hopefully some sun and water will help it on its way.

The best thing of all this is that we’ve opened up a nice view from where you get out of the car and the driveway, all the way down to the port, so it’s gradually coming together. Once we can clear it all up, that is. All the gardening means a lot of garden waste. Some we can compost, but there’s lots of bigger branches and other stuff we’d normally take to the green waste depot. I can imagine there’ll be massive queues when that place finally reopens!

Couple of rainy days ahead, so need to clear the decks for some indoor time. Played 500 online with friends in the evening, then a chuckle about the day’s music; it seems to have taken a cowboy kinda feel. Yeeha!

You’ve yet to have your finest hour, radio

Coronavirus lockdown day 13

In the blink of an eye, I missed three days? Where did that time go?

I mean it’s Easter, so you could use the joke about disappearing for three days and then coming back and taking all the credit … but that isn’t the case here 🙂

Instead it’s been rinse and repeat days of a little work, a few chores, shared meals and catching up with friends and colleagues over video channels.

We’ve used Zoom, Skype, Teams, Houseparty for about 5 minutes, Facetime, facebook and probably others. But at the same time, one of the teams I’m in is preparing to use radio.

Recognising that some people don’t have access to the technology others do, or reliable broadband, and the geographical reach of radio is wide, it seems to me that there’s a chance for local media to shine here, and get back to what radio does best – connect people. Hearing a a friendly voice can be very soothing.

It might not be the finest hour for radio, but it could be the start of something great. As commercial stations struggle with advertising drop-off, some have already disappeared. Local access stations could fill the gap and offer different programming, different voices and most importantly, local content.

So How did we spend day 13?

It’s probably time to stop asking that question, but for the historical record. One of us went to the supermarket for the first time in two weeks. It was relatively normal.

And the wind cried, really?

Corona virus lockdown day 12

Sometimes you surprise yourself. You work on something for a while; it’s good. But then you collaborate with someone and something unexpected happens. Flamenco triplets turn up in a straight 4/4; a new cut builds momentum where there was a lull; Random chord injections, resolve and make sense. Suddenly the thing takes off and flies!

Does it mean change? Yes. Does it mean dealing with the unusual? Yes. Does it matter? No. The thing is better than when you started. So it was today with something we dubbed a frankensong – made up of bits of old songs strung together differently put together over a new drum and bass combo. It took an unexpected twist for me that evoked Tex / Mex, Lucky Luke style horse-race through tall stone columns and cacti.

It’s like being physically separated makes us more disciplined at the music. That sounds unlikely, but the advantage of it is that what we hear, in the end, is most important. If we were in the same room would it be the same?

Certainly it would be harder to play what we’ve made, as we’re all using effects and multiple tracks – rather than playing a single part, we’re mixing fx and double tracking, improving what we’re capable of.

And it’s freeing creatively, and better bang for your creative time. One drum and bass mix can lead to two or three – wildly different – interpretations. It also allows for creative difference, I guess, so there’s little need to worry about the creative choices. I suspect we’re all too old to care anyway.

So how did we spend day 12?

Metting each other in brief moments around the house. Filling up the rubbish bin. Cleaning, working. Is it weird that we’re enjoying it and all getting along? Even the dog was well behaved today!

For your viewing pleasure, an old episode of Lucky Luke; originally French, great voice acting and more political than I remember.

A knock at the door…

Corona virus lockdown day 11

Sunday, it was Sunday. I have to keep reminding myself what day it is.

We stacked more wood, I did some work. A bit of garden and work outside. A shared lunch, chat with a neighbour or passer by from a distance.

Later, after getting the Multitrack input working yesterday, I sat down to record some audio for a new track that had come through. I ended up doing two different versions, one in D major, one in D minor. I was concentrating on the headphones and saw a little message pop up that Matt was here.

That’s odd, because its 10.30 at night, and mat lives a half-hour away. I carried on. It turns out someone was at the door. It wasn’t Matt, but a stranger.

It was a bit of an emergency: a mate had done a runner. Door guy had walked from Stoke and had almost tracked his mate down when his phone ran out of battery. So he needed to charge his phone. He seemed genuine enough. As I went to get a charger and an extension cord to reach to the front door, my bubblemates needed an explanation. They kept telling me to shhh for some reason.

First I got the wrong charger, then the right one, then I got him a a glass of water. Bubblemate brought a chair. My mind was thinking about social distance, surface contact and all that stuff, but we couldn’t not help, right? In the end he only stayed maybe 10 minutes, tops. He found out where his mates were and was off again.

It was all a bit odd, but one of life’s little adventures. Hope he found his friend.

I went back to the tracks, and then it was 2am. The next day, I wrote this up and retro-published.

So how did we spend day 11?

The day after the clocks go back is always weird. I had a nap in the afternoon; it felt like there were two days in one. We did more outside work as the sun went down, then dinner, then a good chat with the family locked down in Christchurch.

Solved: H6 interface and DAW on a Mac

So I’d been having trouble getting separate tracks into Garageband, Reaper and the like when using the Zoom H6 . When the H6 was in Multi-track mode as an interface, I’d select input 1 and get nothing. Same on input 2.

When I switched to setero mix I got level through – but only one track. This was not ideal – separate tracks make life much easier for error-prone musicians like me. I couldn’t figure it out – the software could see the h6 – but I couldn’t get a level through.

The answer lies in the way the DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) treat the combined L R inputs on the H6. Essentially, even though there isn’t a mic capsule in use, they count as inputs 1 and 2, they are not ignored.

So the XLR input labelled 1 on the H6 is actually input 3 in the DAW software even though it’s labelled 1 on the recorder. Input 2 is channel 4, 3 is 5 and 4 is 6.

The solve is described by Jen Edds in this video – it’s something no-one else on the internet has mentioned (that I could find, at least).

Input 1 on the h6 = input 3 in the software, as Jen Edds explains in this video. Although this is for Garageband it worked for me in Reaper as well when using a zoom h6 as an interface.

The moral of the story is: don’t trust your eyes … it might be labelled input 1, but that doesn’t make it channel 1. Ain’t that a trap for young players!