Perception is Reality

The modules/chapters/sections/whatever you want to call them are short. 15 – 20 minutes each. This is shorter than I expected but it means they are pretty quick and easy to go through. Each module is split into a few sections with a blog post and maybe an activity or something to go with it. Not all of them have a video. I’m really more interested in listening to Deepak espouse wisdom like an Indian Yoda with nuggets like “you are in a prison with no bars…this prison is your conditioning” than reading the extra stuff, but I get it. I create online training courses, so I understand the value of using different media to help emphasize the point. So far, I’m interested, but there’s really like 4 minutes of Deepak footage total.

The videos themselves are very well produced. High-def, looks like a Vimeo player. From a technical standpoint, there were no glitches — I never had to wait for the videos to buffer, which I often have to do with high-def videos that aren’t YouTube (including Vimeo) — if they’re self-hosting these videos, they’ve got an awfully nice CDN delivering the content.

I should point out that this course is co-sponsored by grandparents.com. I should further point out that I am not a grandparent. I think that the general ideas are probably applicable to anyone, but the specifics may be outside my demographic — especially when we start talking about biological age vs. chronological age. This lesson is all about changing your perception of what aging means, which, I dunno…I’m 35. Sometimes I feel old, but that’s just relative to where I’ve been. In general, I’m not really feeling over-the-hill. That doesn’t kick in until you’re 40, right?

Timeless Me

I’m a geek. A tech guy. I spend most of my day sitting on my ass and staring at my iMac. I’m vegan and gluten-free, so I generally think that I eat pretty well, but the constant activity (in front of the computer) in order to do things like finish projects and get paid doesn’t leave much time for other things like exercise (or so I tell myself).

It is with this prelude that I received an email from Blaine, a marketing manager for Siminars. Siminars is sort of like a cross between TED.com and what I’ve been doing for Pluralsight. They offer a library multi-part courses but, rather than being focussed on teaching a particular skill the way Pluralsight is, it’s more about the types of topics one might learn about at TED with an emphasis on self-improvement.

Hey, I’m not going to knock improving oneself. I know I’ve got a lot to improve on, even if the term “self-help” kind of makes me cringe.

Blaine specifically wanted me to take Deepak Chopra’s new course called Timeless You — which, in general terms, is about slowing the aging process by taking better care of yourself. As I said, I’m well aware that I’ve got areas for improvement, and being familiar with Deepak Chopra’s work (who isn’t?), I was interested. In exchange for a free run through this course (and an Amazon gift card), I’d write an honest blog post (or series of blog posts, as the case may be) about my reaction and experience with the course.

I’ve decided to do a series of posts as I go through the course, rather than one big post at the end, so I can better organize my thoughts and reactions when they’re fresh in my head.

Do we really need comments anymore?

Once upon a time, comments were king. The number of comments you got on a post not only represented the conversation surrounding that post but also measured its impact. This inevitably led to ways of gaming the system — spammers used comments to implant their backlinks to their black market viagra sites, and would-be and/or fake blogging mavens used them to artificially enhance their own reputation by having posts with seemingly lots of comments. (I regretfully admit that I’ve been duped in the past by fake commenters masquerading as different people. It happened on this blog, even — though ultimately I was able to root it out by identifying two, similarly-named free email accounts and an identical IP address.) Blog comments suddenly became more about the numbers and less about the discussion.

Newer, minimalist blog platforms (like Medium, Ghost and Dropplets) don’t deal with comments at all, instead encouraging users to continue the discussion where it’s actually happening (or more likely to happen) — Twitter. A while back, I wrote a mod for Dropplets (now, sadly, outdated) that would embed a Twitter search widget that displayed the conversation in a comment-like area if tweets referenced the blog post. I’m on Twitter a lot and — thanks to the fact that TweetDeck chirps at me whenever I get an @ mention — I see replies sent to me on Twitter faster than I would see them otherwise (on my blog, via email, etc). Twitter isn’t great for long discussions, but it’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s good enough to say “hey, you wrote this post over here? Well I have a post over here that responds to that” if you’ve written something that required more than 140 characters to explain. And today I read that Popular Science disabled comments because reading comments from other users had the undesired effect of polarizing the audience before they even read the article.

I admit, sometimes the comments are the best part of the article. But usually that’s at the expense of the commenters (unless you’re looking at Gizmodo or Slashdot or BoingBoing in which case it’s a fight for who can be the snarkiest). For us normal folk, why bother with comments at all? Why not just drop them and take the conversation to Twitter?

This has gotten me thinking, especially since the comments on this blog are something I often think (and sometimes worry) about and, really, what’s the point? This will never be a high-traffic blog in which case the numbers don’t matter — be they sharing numbers or comment numbers. And interacting with a real human — as opposed to writing a reply to someone’s comment that they may or may not ever see again — in more-or-less real time on Twitter is a lot more appealing to me. So, I think I’ll be looking for a plugin that replaces the WordPress commenting system with a link to discuss the post on Twitter and if that doesn’t exist, I may well just write my own.

Move over RPM

A few days ago, my friend Colin (aka Slighter) sent me this link:

http://createdigitalmusic.com/2014/01/52-tracks-52-weeks-starting-2014-producers/

It’s a challenge. Like the RPM challenge referenced in the title, Weekly Beats challenges musicians to make music. But unlike RPM, it’s challenging you to do it all year round.

I love RPM. I’m still incredibly proud of my 2011 entry, Wasp, and the remix album I released the following fall WASPREMIX — which was the first time I released something on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. I’m proud of all the albums I’ve made in various Februarys over the last several years, but that’s just the thing. I release them in March, then I go into hiding for the rest of the year and don’t make any music (or hardly any, at any rate). RPM is good for kicking you in the ass for 28 days, but then you’re suffering burnout through March and end up carrying that momentum of not creating anything through the rest of the year until December hits and you say “oh shit! RPM is in two months!”

I need a kick in the ass all year round. Hence Weekly Beats.

So here is a resolution for 2014. By the end of this year, I will have made at least 50 new songs (52 if I stick to the challenge). That’s 40 more songs than what I would have made if I did RPM. So, no, I probably won’t be doing RPM this year (unless the songs I make in February happen to add up to 30 minutes in length), but, hopefully, I will have a lot more to show for it.

Since my Kickstarter bust for The Signal in 2012, I fell into a rut. It took a lot out of me emotionally, and I wasn’t entirely happy with the result (the experiment was interesting but, ultimately, I think I fell prey to my own ambition). I stopped making music; I started playing FIFA; RPM 2013 came and I just wasn’t up to doing my own album (I did work on a collaboration called Noise Floor as well as the 2013 Blind Chaos entry). Once you lose the momentum, it’s hard to get it back and you stop finishing things. Part of my blamed the fact that my PC finally died and I needed to get Mac versions of all my music stuff I had accumulated on that, but that was just an excuse and I never fully believed it. My hope is that an arbitrary requirement of one song a week will kick me into action and get me in a year-round habit of making music rather instead of a once-a-year habit.

You can check out my tracks here on Weekly Beats. When it’s all over, I’ll probably collect them (the good ones, anyway) into an album that I release on BandCamp.