Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Music's been weighing heavily on my mind this last while. Partly because I've been digging into a lot of music I haven't listened to for a while. Partly because I've been trading song recommendations with a few friends over email.

The thoughts that listening and recommending have triggered in my mind inform this week's letter. So, instead of me prattling on, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Sounds of Music

I was eight or nine years old when I made a discovery that enriched my life. It was 1975 or 1976. I was poking around in the basement of my parents' house in Toronto when I found them: two stacks of 45 RPM singles, each about 20 cm (around eight inches) high.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

When you live at the bottom of the world, overseas travel can be a hassle. It's expensive. It takes a long time. And you often have to deal with gaining then losing a day.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't take the occasional trip or longer journey. The rewards can often be worth going through the various hassles and the expenses. But I've noticed that when people travel, they often overlook a key portion of their trip. That's what I'm looking at in this week's musing.

On Stepping Off the Plane

I’m not sure if travel does, in fact, broaden the mind. I know that the kind of rapid fire, see-all-the-sights and take-gigabytes-of-photos travel that many people to do these days doesn’t broaden much at all. But travel is definitely an experience.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's letter looks at something that's important to me: good writing. Not just good writing, but the impact that that writing can have on its readers. Even though I've been putting pen to paper, and fingers to keyboard, for most of my life I'm not sure if anything I've written has truly carried impact, has truly been good. That's no reason to stop trying.

Speaking of which, if you enjoy this letter and know someone who might also enjoy it, please point them to the subscription page. Subscribing costs nothing, and they can cancel at any time.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

When I look back at some of what I've written over the years, I'm never embarrassed. That's not to say that I think everything I've written is great, or even pretty good. But I realize that writing isn't just an act of putting words and ideas on a page. It's a matter of growth. It's a matter of improvement.

Now, if I was writing in the same way I did 10 or 20 years ago, then I'd be embarrassed. I'm not the writer I was. I'm not the person I was. I like to think I've gotten better at both.

Sometimes, though, something I've written holds up after the passage of several years. Like this week's musing. I stumbled across it in my archives, and felt the urge to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

I've been in a somewhat cranky mood these last couple of weeks. Well, it's been more a state of being than simply a mood. Almost like a cranky buzz that's been my constant companion during my waking hours.

A number of little things have been contributing to that mood, and sometimes other little things set me off or nudge my crankiness into a higher gear. Yeah, I haven't been much fun to be around lately.

One of those little things that's been irking me of late is people overusing jargon and buzzwords. One buzzword in particular: innovation. More to the point, how people use the word innovation to describe something that isn't really innovative. That's the starting point for this week's musing. So maybe being in the occasional bad mood isn't such a bad thing ...

On the (Misguided) Need to Innovate Everything

One of the annoyances I put up with at the Day JobTM is the internal messaging system. Most of what flows through there is about as interesting to me as what flows through a goose after its had a good meal. Once in a while, though, I find myself scanning messages in certain channels. Penance for my sins and all that.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

After writing last week's letter, the idea underlying that essay continued to poke at my brain. The results of that poking (aside from a mild headache) was me digging up an older essay on that subject, which I think complements last week's musing.

I hope you enjoy it.

On Calm Technology

We're slaves to our technology. We're beholden to it. And that technology likes to remind us of that fact.

Our devices beep. They ping. They buzz. They ring. They vibrate, They flash. All of which let us know that we've got an incoming call or text message, that someone's responded to a tweet or posted something to Facebook, that there's an email or three waiting for our attention.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

In addition to sending out this letter each week, I read more than a couple of email newsletters. Some are just link stations, while others go into a bit more depth. It's the latter that sometimes spark ideas in my little ol' brain.

And it's something I read in one of those letters that prompted me to write this week's musing. So, shall we get going?

On Disengaging

The last 15 years or so have been ones of change. Especially in the way in which we communicate and engage with others.

The advent of the smartphone rang in an age in which we're constantly connected, constantly available, and constantly distracted by the devices we carry with us each day. Smartphones have faded the lines between work and leisure, between ourselves and the rest of the world.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's letter is something of a continuation of last week's. Well, I guess it takes the idea from my previous musing and points it in a slightly different direction. Regardless, what you're about to read further illustrates how the power behind the concept of small has grasped my imagination.

Let's get on to this week's letter, shall we?

Small, Mobile, Self Contained

There are times when something we read has a profound impact and influence on us. For me, that came with a magazine article I read in 1979. That article was an interview with guitarist Robert Fripp, best known as the founder and leader of the band King Crimson. The magazine, a long-defunct publication called Future Life.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

I like to think of myself as a minimalist. No one of those 100 things or less minimalists, but someone who is trying to figure out just how much he really needs. I've still got wee ways to go, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job of paring my life down to its essentials. In that way, and other ways, I tend to think small.

Over the last seven days, I've been pondering the idea of small. It's those thoughts that spawned this week's letter.

(Remember that if you find reading Weekly Musings worthwhile, feel free to recommend it to your friends, coworkers, and family. A subscription's free, and they can cancel at any time.)

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week, I've dug up another old idea and shaken some of the dust off it. It's an idea that I think is very relevant to our times, perhaps even more than when I originally conceived the idea.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's letter.

Read more...