shop vac

Friday night. Grilling dinner and shop vacuuming dog hair out of my wife’s car. Going to a light show at a fancy garden but making sure that we get home early enough to go to sleep in order to wake up to make it to a 7:30 5k fundraiser check-in. Also tomorrow I have to remember to change the house air filter. It all makes me feel like the most suburban husband I can possibly be.

This song is not my life but it is good:

books

This post was written on 2015-10-28 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-04 for some reason.

Goodreads is a fantastic resource for discovering books. There are most likely some alternative websites that perform similar functions. For me, all I wanted as a child was some way to track my massive Boxcar Children book collection. I wanted to record every Encyclopedia Brown and Hardy Boys novel that I finished. I wanted to remember that I read three books per day during the summers. I enjoyed reading. Goodreads would have been cool to have at that point in my life. Since I was a nerd, I can remember at age 11 having an alphabetized spreadsheet of my few hundred book library in my room taped to my bookshelves. I would meticulously sort through the stacks to make sure everything was in order.

Then I went to public school and was forced into an “Accelerated Reader” program. There is nothing wrong with this in theory, as long as teachers and librarians understand that every student has different ambitions and that forcing someone to read only “Level 12+” books is not a good way to educate. I ended up testing on books that I had read previously in order to get around the system. It was not good. It genuinely killed my love for reading.

High school AR was a blur of testing on books that I had read Cliff Notes for or had watched the movie rendition of, as well as the few classics that we were occasionally included in our English curriculum and that I had actually read and had enjoyed. Looking back, I genuinely wish that I had been more motivated to read more classics and foundational works before I had so many responsibilities and so little free time.

Four and a half years of university engineering curriculum included a single English class. This was not great for fostering any love of books. I also was required to purchase a lot of extremely overpriced technical textbooks that were useless but took up my shelves and all of my time. The only good experience I had with books in college is that a roommate published one.

Some beer books worth reading.
Some beer books worth reading.

Anyway, Goodreads is nice when I don’t forget to use it. Somehow I had 38 unfinished books in my “Currently Reading” list in October. I stopped buying most books a couple of years ago when I realized that I just wasn’t actually reading all of them and they were just piling up on my bookshelves, wasting money and shelf space. Lately I have been borrowing books from the local library, which is really convenient. The only problem I have now is that I check out too many books at once and end up not finishing any of them. They are also really inconvenient to find in the house and also to travel with. This is why I have started preferring audio books (also because of my unhealthy obsession with podcasts, which I just wrote a post about).

TL;DR – Read more books. They teach you things and take you places.

[FAWM-Blog 2016] Leap Year

This year I completely failed at February Album Writing Month. The goal is to write 14 new songs in 28 days and I only finished 4. In the past I’ve blogged about this challenge and I’ve enjoyed most aspects of the process (2011)(2012). It’s a tough but rewarding month.

I don’t know where exactly I went wrong this time around. I’ve never had issues like this in the past. I took the first day off work, I made time, I had the home recording studio set up, and yet I failed. Motivation probably had a lot to do with it. We haven’t been playing many shows lately, so my desire to try new material has waned. Also, I haven’t really learned many new techniques or scales or playing styles or instruments, so I’ve been stuck doing the same few guitar tricks for the past several years and feel a bit bored, like I’m just repeating myself. Another thing is that I bought a new guitar on sale at the end of January that I was really excited about trying and writing with. It just didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t great, so I returned it. That really slowed me down and was somewhat depressing.

Creating isn’t about perfection, it’s about the process.

Hopefully in 2017 I force myself to just sit and finish each song, regardless of how bad or weird each one seems at first. I also miss collaborating.

Better luck next year, I guess. Hopefully future Michael reads this and gets motivated and doesn’t fall into the same rut.

Dimes

6:30am. Wawa. I refuel my car and walk inside to get some coffee. I say hi to the employees that I recognize. I mix some mocha wakeup poison caffeine powder into my 20 oz. Columbian and walk up to an empty line. I get a new cashier that I haven’t seen before. The customer in the next line over brought her coffee and pastry up to the exhausted cashier. She paid cash and asked for dimes for her change. Eight dimes. Unprompted, she explained to the cashier that they weigh less than other coins and that she collects them. She has a lot of dimes saved up and can easily bring $20-30 in change with her in her purse because dimes are so lightweight.

Everybody is weird. Everybody is unique. Everybody is beautiful in their own ways. Life is weird.