glenatron: (Iris)
2017-06-07 11:12 pm
Entry tags:

The ruinous marriage of hubris, prejudice and treachery

I am not tremendously optimistic about tomorrow's election. And by "not tremendously optimistic" I mean that I am deeply pessimistic. In fact the only way I can see it going is the turkeys voting en-masse not just for Christmas but for some kind of special extra-Christmas where every family has to eat three turkeys.

I am among the most English people I know and being aware where I came from was very important to me when I was younger. Now, though, I don't feel that same connection. I don't feel like this country has much interest in people who want the world to be a better place or who care about the positive qualities that once made us great, instead of jingoism, penny-pinching and xenophobia.

I can quite confidently predict that after this election we will have a Conservative administration who will work hard to erase their predecessor's short tenure upon the title as "worst ever government of the UK." Of course, they may be able really hang onto that title for the long run if they can just ensure the break-up of the union, which is not far fetched given how badly they have handled Northern Ireland and Scotland so far.

I increasingly think about leaving the country- it feels as though the British people have voted for failure and if I want to be a success along any axis I probably won't really be welcome here anyway. If you're not failing and making everything worse, you're not part of the new British experience I guess. We have had a plan for a while to move west when we have a little money in the bank so I can buy the time to make some software and start doing something more entrepreneurial, but lately I find myself looking wistfully towards mainland Europe as well. Learning a new language would be tough, as would uprooting to a new country, but perhaps it would be worth it to be living somewhere that wasn't awful, where the people don't endlessly vote to make things worse for themselves and everyone else.
glenatron: (Iris)
2017-05-01 09:07 pm
Entry tags:

Hurrying to slow down

We're back from a long trek across the country to ride in a clinic with legendary horseman Joe Wolter and it was about as good as one could possibly hope for.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on it right now, I'm sure Sari will have more to say later and these days a full write-up is more likely to go into the magazine ( we actually have an interview/feature planned for a couple of issues time ) but I do want to talk a little about one core theme that was very directly significant to Iris and me.

Joe talked early on about the horse's self-preservation, how important he feels it is to compromise on that - if the horse thinks they need to look around and check out what is going on, that's alright. They need it. If they spook just go with them, but then start offering some direction so that you're going together and you can help them out without forcing your decisions on them. I realised that because Iris stops so well I have been shutting down her spooks thinking I was helping her to understand they were unnecessary, but really that was just locking that bad feeling inside and making it hard to feel she was allowed to go forward. She was getting more anxious and harder to ride in new environments and I think that by not just letting her move out a little more and going with her I have been making that worse.

Yesterday, during the last afternoon of the clinic, we were doing some work around the outside of the arena ( Iris preferred to avoid the edges most of the time because the world was out there and there is a lot of it and it's all rather bothersome to a grey mare ) and Joe was asking us to work on doing the slowest possible walk and then speeding up. I asked Iris to slow down as we came around past the audience - it's an exercise we use from time to time, so she is fairly good at it - but something spooked her and she sprang off to trot most of the way around the arena. After about three quarters of a circle she found a place where she felt safe enough to walk and she immediately dropped into the slowest walk I have ever seen or experienced a horse doing, it would be easy to think she had stopped if you couldn't feel the glacial drift of her balance forward in between extraordinarily stately steps. It was unbelievable.

The thing that chokes me up every time I think about that is that she knew what I was asking her for and she just needed me to go with her first because she just couldn't do it there - when I let her take me somewhere she felt safe she tried her heart out.

She has always been trying that hard for me. I just needed Joe's clear, patient, teaching and his explanation of how every time our horse offers us forward movement it is an opportunity. That finally got me to a place where I could give her the chance to show me.
glenatron: (jp)
2017-04-02 12:14 am

Another adventure

Because, as one friend observed on Facebook, we don't like having free time Sari and I are now magazine proprietors. If you follow [livejournal.com profile] herecirm you will be more than clear about this already, but just in case you missed it, you can now subscribe to Horsemanship Magazine as produced by us!

Although I do say so myself, it is pretty good - we've tried to get a balance of excellent writers and horsepeople involved and our goal is to move the magazine from it's hitherto-successful "broad-yet-shallow" philosophy towards something a little more detailed and in-depth. Obviously there isn't a proven market for that except that many of the people we know around the community did subscribe at one time and found it a bit shallow, so maybe there is something to be said for it...

You can find more on the website above ( work in progress! ) or on our Facebook page and if it's a thing you are interested or a thing that someone you know would be interested in, please give a thought to subscribing.
Horsemanship Magazine issue 101
glenatron: (Iris)
2017-03-04 09:12 pm

The wild will always be waiting

A few weeks ago I posted about my adventures in music and how much a part of my life it has been.

We've finally got the tracks through and they're sounding pretty great- you can listen to them here and they will be appearing on all the usual digital services in the next few days. Please do give them a listen, I have never been more proud of any art I have created.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
2017-02-02 10:04 pm
Entry tags:

It wasn't me that you outsmarted

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.
glenatron: (Iris)
2017-01-30 09:18 pm
Entry tags:

A simple form of goodbye

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.
glenatron: (moody othello)
2017-01-20 10:48 pm
Entry tags:

Where we find ourselves.

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.
glenatron: (Iris)
2016-05-21 10:52 am
Entry tags:

Drawing conclusions, crudely

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.
glenatron: (Iris)
2016-03-20 10:15 pm
Entry tags:

Raising the bar

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.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
2016-02-21 11:54 am

Fevered filing

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 [livejournal.com profile] 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."
glenatron: (Iris)
2016-02-16 10:18 pm
Entry tags:

Decade 2006 - 2016

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 [livejournal.com profile] 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.
glenatron: (Cash)
2016-02-12 11:41 pm
Entry tags:

I smiled and tried to arrange them

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 [livejournal.com profile] skiesfirepaved ( who you might know better as [livejournal.com profile] 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.

glenatron: (Cash)
2016-01-28 11:20 pm
Entry tags:

Adventures continue

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...
glenatron: (Iris)
2016-01-26 11:04 pm
Entry tags:

Questions of science, science and progress

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.
glenatron: (moody othello)
2016-01-17 11:03 am
Entry tags:

Tomorrow's jazz - a god-awful small affair

It has already been a bitter year for iconic heroes of the arts and it has left me thinking a lot about the music I grew up with.

I was never a great Bowie fan- I only own a couple of "best-of" albums - but I grew up listening to bands who grew up on Bowie. His influence was absolutely pervasive. It is also undeniable that he was responsible for some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded - I cannot think of any song that could get close to Life On Mars as a contender for greatest pop song ever. He had a brilliance for tunes, a great voice that showed us that one could sing rock with an English accent and a knack for finding amazing musicians to collaborate with throughout his career. That's without even thinking about his impact on fashion, art, cinema, video games - he was an explosion of ideas that touched every part of our culture, particularly in the early seventies when ( by all accounts ) we really needed it.

The other thing is that he was able to do this because of when he was alive. He was, as his friend sang, a twentieth century boy and his art defined the last third of the century. David Bowie lived at the only time that he could possibly have been David Bowie.

Now that he is gone, we have not only lost his bright light in the world, we are also seeing the passing of that age. The music I grew up with was powerful, but it was on the cusp, becoming a reflection of what had gone before - Zeppelin and Sabbath powered the Grunge scene, The Kinks, the Beatles and Bowie were fossil fuel that Britpop burned. As the nineties ended bands were looking back to New Wave and the early eighties followed by an interminable eighties revival which may be petering out at last- I didn't really listen to eighties music at the time and when I did get into music it felt like that was everything the music I enjoyed was a reaction against, so I never came to like it.

The feeling I get now is that music is recycling. The best modern artists are creating music that is heavy with references to the past, that looks backwards rather than forwards. It is hard to be clear about this because music has been inextricably wound into my life and I have gradually gained context as time has gone by so I can see more than I ever did, but it feels to me as though pop ( in which I include all it's genres and subgenres ) has simply run out of places to go. I couldn't say when that boundary was crossed - probably the last truly new sound to appear was that of electronic dance music and the way that started to cross over into rock around the time of Madchester. Since then - which encompasses the entire part of my life when I have cared about music - there have only been iterative changes. Different tunes, different arrangments. Play a little slower and it's a new subgenre, play it a little faster and it's a new subgenre, but nothing that feels different and new.

Technology has changed us- we can now make any sound that can be imagined, but it turns out that only a few sounds actually appeal to our ears. We're still playing the same scales, the same twelve semitones, the same three or four beat rhythms.

David Bowie worked in the brief period when music was available to everybody, but in order to listen to it someone had to pay for it- whether it was you or the radio station you were listening to. Now music can be propagated endlessly at effectively no cost, something which has been strongly pushed for by the network providers who spend a lot on lobbying against copyright. The idea that it should be given away for free is deeply embedded in the generations who grew up with the internet and that means that it is now exceedingly hard to make a living as a musician and almost impossible to become rich as one. With a diminishing pool of people who can afford to be professional musicians there will be less room for invention and exploration. Bands don't have a shelf-life in the way that they once did - record labels can't afford to finance a career so you get an album, maybe two or three and you're done. The opportunities to grow and change within the music industry are far more limited.

A consequence of this is that the people who pay for music are my generation and older and we get more backward looking music because we are already past our prime and looking for things that comfort us and remind us of when we were young and responsibility-free. Consequently the greatly reduced finances in the music industry go to encourage backward-looking music. If you wanted to make forward-looking music you would need to be appealing to a generation who don't see a need to pay for it and making any kind of living from doing that would be challenging at best. You'd be better off doing lets-plays.

I suppose I don't have a strong point to make here, except that pop music is rapidly becoming ( or has become? ) a legacy genre and that it leaves me wondering whether the all-consuming passion for music that I experienced will be far less available for young people in the future and whether that even matters. I don't see where music has left to go. Of course as a middle-aged white man I'm not supposed to know what the future of music is, perhaps it is already happening in sweaty clubs across the cities of Britain, or Mali or Indonesia. Still it is sad to see that the great beast music, who carried us so far in my lifetime, is emaciated, stumbling and losing its pace. A time will come when there is nothing but the empty plain where those of us who recall it can look back across its bones and listen to the whispers of its legacy. Humans have always needed music and I think we always will, it speaks to us in a very fundamental way. But I think the great flowering of recorded popular music is over. When I was young, jazz was old people's music- it belonged to my granny's generation. As I get older, I realise that pop is going the same way, but I can't see anything on the horizon of the rock and roll that will overwhelm it and take its place.

David Bowie is dead, popular music is slowly wasting away and it feels like that is the passing of the age that I belong to as well.
glenatron: (Iris)
2016-01-02 11:15 pm
Entry tags:

Another kind of recording

A few years back I got a new phone which, unlike it's predecessor, did not pack with a built in radio. Consequently I needed to find something else to listen to and I ended up listening to a bunch of podcasts. Being a massive geek, some of the ones that appealed to me most were just people sitting in a room playing tabletop games - I really enjoy the combination of humour and storytelling, the way that a roll of the dice or a random comment can totally change the direction of the narrative. My favourites so far have been Critical Hit and more recently the truly brilliant Friends at the Table which hits all the right spots for me. Over the last few years I have listened to a lot of dice rolls.

Of course, being one of nature's original copyists, I couldn't just leave it at that so, taking the path of least resistance, I got together with a bunch of my most ridiculous friends and we set about recording something along the same lines. As we have a few episodes ready to go, I figured that New Years Day 2016 was as good a place as any to start publishing them, so if you want to hear our adventures begin, they are here: Crudely Drawn Swords or if you have an RSS client ( as most podcast clients are ) there is an RSS feed. We should be popping up on ITunes soon too.

It's quite silly, a bit sweary ( because we have [livejournal.com profile] doveston on our team ) and I think it works pretty well. Given that it's something pointless that we're giving away for free, I'm surprisingly proud of it.
glenatron: (Iris)
2015-12-14 09:14 pm
Entry tags:

Baroque'n'roll

Rode a clinic with Jeff Sanders last weekend, another of the top trainers I really wanted to ride with and I may be only bumbling around the borders of being a horseman, but I will allow that I am well advised in the people I ride with because Jeff is an extraordinary horseman both in his expertise and his willingness to openly share an approach that has been a guarded secret over many generations. I came away pleased with Iris and with the work we had begun to build up and very much inspired about our future direction. A really good weekend. If you are involved in horses at all and you get the chance to watch one of Jeff's clinics I heartily recommend it. Really good stuff.
glenatron: (Iris)
2015-11-29 08:44 pm

Progress in small changes

I've managed to ride a few times since we got back from the US and it feels like the work we did with Harry has made a difference in me that is helpful to Iris. It will take time to figure out how much of a change we make in the long term, but maybe this will finally start to get me into that kernel of fear that she carries so much of the time and help her to let go of it. I am sure that we will get there sooner or later, but this change, the philosophy that I have learned from Harry feels as though it just might be a key to this more challenging aspect of my dear and beautiful mare.
glenatron: (jp)
2015-11-19 09:10 pm

Some observations on American motels

Having travelled around a bit lately, there are some things we've noticed about American motels which may mark them out from other places:

  • Due to some obscure federal regulation, every motel room must have at least one switch that has no discernable effect on the state of the world. It is considered good practice to have two or more.
  • For extra points this should be the switch beside the door that would - in a normal world - switch on some kind of room light when you get in. If this switch is associated with a light, it should be somewhere obscure like the bathroom, or inside the wardrobe, casting as little useful light as possible.
  • If there is one thing motel customers hate it is being able to see, consequently motels refuse to have any ceiling lights, instead choosing to offer a selection of oddly positioned lamps.
  • Although a motel must place multiple lamps in any given room, it is considered good practice to have as many different types and positions of switch on them as possible. A motel proprietor whose rooms have no two lights operating off the same switch is considered a true master of their trade.
  • Every room needs to have one component that is inordinately loud, ideally the fridge or the heater.
  • The showers everywhere have exactly the same control system and you can step right in and know how it works, this is something that the UK could really learn from.
  • If the shower is on a bath, regardless of the care with which the curtain is utilised, at least five gallons of water must somehow find their way onto the floor per shower.
  • A square pillow provides motel customers with an entertaining puzzle while at the same time preventing them from engaging in egregious activities such as sleep. To add an extra layer of complexity why not provide five square pillows on a double bed? Figuring out how to divide those up will give your guests hours of fun.
  • Motel proprietors must surely wish there was a snappy short name for those "personal cleansing bars" that they provide for customers. Somebody should get onto that.
  • If someone is staying for two days and they have opened a "personal cleansing bar" on the first day, cleaning staff are under a critically important mandate to discard the sullied item and replace it with a new sealed package. Heaven forfend that a customer use the same "personal cleansing bar" twice.
  • There is a general problem with the flush on motel toilets. It works on a similar principle to a gentle water pistol or plant mister. Suffice it to say that if you launch a dreadnought there, you're going not going to be able to flush with any success from that point forward. Then you have to deal with choosing between an awkward visit to the front desk or having to hold everything in until you leave and hope your guilt is never revealed.
glenatron: (Iris)
2015-11-14 10:32 pm
Entry tags:

Harry Whitney Clinic Report, November 2015

There are relatively few horse trainers I am interested in learning from that I haven't ridden with by this point, but until this autumn Harry Whitney topped that list. I was first introduced to him by reading some of Tom Moates' articles in Eclectic Horseman and later his books about learning with Harry, which are well worth reading. At the same time I was reading Ross Jacobs' work and that also referenced Harry on a fairly routine basis. Sari and I rode with Ross in Australia a few years back and he strongly recommended that we visit with Harry if possible. Last winter was supposed to be the last time Harry was teaching at his place in Arizona, but ( luckily for us ) the sale they had lined up fell through and he is teaching there for one more season. As we have worked hard this year I thought we qualified for a bit of travel.

Consequently we found ourselves with a five day clinic at Harry's gorgeous Arizona set-up with some charming borrowed horses for us to ride and a couple of mules taking part as well. An excellent proposition.

If you want an introduction to Harry's approach, which looks more similar to what other trainers do than it is, you could read this article on round pen work (pdf) and this book. In essence Harry's work starts from a single point- learning to direct the horse's thought. When you are directing the horse's mind rather than their body, there is no resistance and they will work as well as they possibly can. Most problems we run into come from trying to make the horse physically do something rather than asking them to act mentally.

Day-by-day write-up. Illustrated, of course )

It was a really good clinic. Really good. Harry is as good as people say he is- he has a depth of knowledge and an aptitude for explanation that make him an excellent teacher and by the end of the clinic I felt as though I had so much more understanding of the reasoning behind a lot of techniques that I was already using or that I knew to work but had never seriously thought through why they worked. That underpinning is probably the biggest part of what I will be bringing home with me from this clinic and I can't wait to begin introducing it to my horses and seeing where it will take us. I can already see numerous ways that I think it will help Iris to feel more confident in me and in the world. It feels to me that this was a thing I was ready for in my horsemanship and also something I needed. If you ever get the chance to see or ride with Harry, you should take it. You will be pleased that you did.