- Finally tested negative for Covid on Wednesday morning, a little more than a full week after testing positive. Despite that, it’s now four days later and I’m still feeling less well than usual. Mostly tired and unable to do very much in the way of physically normal life things, like walking around to eat and shop on a weekend, without feeling winded.
- Thankfully my senses of smell and taste seem to have returned virtually 100% — maybe some things seem a teeny bit different, but overall nothing to really complain about. Crisis averted.
- Monday was the Hari Raya public holiday here, and while I worked through the remaining dregs of illness only from Tuesday to Friday, it felt like an awfully long week and I’m Le Tired. A very nice Peruvian dinner at the end of it all helped restore my HP a little bit, but it’s now Sunday evening and I’m still feeling short of a few days’ rest.
- TV: Just more Bosch. We’re now nearing the end of Season 6, so there’s just one more to go before we can see what happens in Bosch Legacy, the new series that takes place after he leaves the LAPD and becomes a private investigator. I have very high expectations for it to go in weird new directions.
- Games: Only had time to play a bit of Spiritfarer on the Switch, and two rounds of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was on sale. We only made it to the $32,000 mark, In theory, playing a round of a virtual game show together every night sounds like a nice little routine, so I’ll try and do that when I remember.
- My only other entertainment has been more dicking around in Midjourney to try and come up with interesting images. I’ll drop some below maybe.
- NFTs: About five months after discovering the 0xmusic project and buying my first piece, I finally acquired a rare “DJ Handel” this week, completing my collection of all 8 0xDJs. I also made a Deca gallery to showcase them and share a few thoughts on the project.
- Oh, and the project that Rob and I were working on together a few weeks back? It was a new design for the 0xmusic website, which has now mostly launched in its first iteration. It hopefully does a good job of explaining what makes these NFTs special.
- I’ve installed the iPadOS 16 Public Beta on my M1 iPad Pro, almost entirely to try Stage Manager out. Huh. It’s disabled by default, and when enabled, completely replaces the old system of multitasking: no more Split View and Slide Over apps. So the iPad now gives you two entirely different interaction models for getting work done across multiple apps. Along with iOS/iPadOS Safari now letting one choose between two different tab management UIs, this suggests we’re maybe dealing with a new Apple that doesn’t believe its job is to make hard decisions, but to “provide more choice” for a customer base that is now larger and more diverse than Steve’s Apple ever had to deal with. Or this is just a gradual phasing in, and if the data supports it (and when everyone moves to new hardware that supports Stage Manager), the legacy modes will be removed in a few years. Still, I expect this will need explaining to family members in the months to come.
No comments on Week 29.22
- I went back to work. There seemed nothing particularly worth getting around to/finally accomplishing the day before, so I just wrote another blog post.
- The transition to being back on externally scheduled time was always going to be rough. I expect it to feel even worse before it gets better. I spoke to one friend who took three months off between jobs, and she said by about the second day of re-employment she wanted to go off and be retired. Many of the analogies I’ve been using are quite bleak, relating to incarceration and being resuscitated after experiencing the afterlife.
- Kim sent me a box of craft beers to help get through this difficult time, and they’ve been quite effective.
- The M1 Macs are so good at getting out of your way the way great tools should, that I’d forgotten how unpleasant the last few Intel MacBook Pros were. Thankfully I’ve only been using a temporary machine, but how can anyone get work done when simply trying to type in Microsoft Teams causes fans to come on and beachballs to appear? What an absolute blight on the history of an otherwise wonderful product line.
- Perhaps as a result of my injured psyche, I broke my own NFT collection guidelines and impulsively bought into two projects that will probably prove to be money down the toilet. One is membership into a DAO that plans to use its treasury to launch stupid/funny projects, and the other is a madly overpriced PFP series that is supposedly also a DAO but I can’t understand why.
- In compensation, I woke up on Friday night to mint the release of Assorted Positivity by steganon, which is much more my regularly scheduled programming. Have a look at one I managed to get, Assorted Positivity #102. I’ve also started to assemble a Deca gallery of generative music projects (including ones I don’t own), so have a look if you’re into this sort of thing.
- There was a long-awaited dinner reunion of the Crocohorse gang, one of the more ridiculously named chat groups in my life, where we ate high-end chicken yakitori amidst a previously mentioned national chicken shortage. But given the restaurant’s perennially astronomical prices, I’d wager they weren’t getting their supplies from Malaysia anyway. I ended up eating most of the “cock’s comb” I ordered, because it bothered everyone else for some reason. On work, everyone seemed to be in a bit of a funk. It’s not a phase any more, is it?
- While the rest of the world is watching Stranger Things season 4 (not me, not yet) — it’s the number one show everywhere but one country: Japan’s top show on Netflix is SpyｘFamily, an anime series presumably based on a popular manga about a spy, an assassin, and a mind-reading child who form a fake family for spy reasons. I didn’t expect to like it at all, but I’ve now seen all 9 available episodes and it’s… not bad?! Unlike some series, it doesn’t waste much time and some of the gags are pretty good.
- Tate McRae put her debut album out, but I couldn’t get through it despite liking her earlier singles. Maybe I’m getting a little tired of this 2022 pop sound, or maybe the subject of these songs just don’t seem worth the time given all the other things happening right now. One goes, “Stupid boy making me so sad / Didn’t think you could change this fast / She’s got everything that I don’t have / How could I ever compete with that? / And she’s all I wanna be / All I wanna be so bad.” Maybe I’m just from Singapore, but I wouldn’t let young women hear this song if I were on the censorship board. Do you think the industry would let a teen male pop star sing these words? What the heck.
- But thanks to the latest Sonos firmware update, I’ve been listening to music more often. They finally did it: they made their own voice assistant and took control of their destiny back from Google and Amazon. Sonos speakers are now independent devices that can take voice commands and pass them to whatever service you use. In other words, I can now control Apple Music everywhere using my voice, not just the rooms I have gray market HomePod minis in.
Before heading back into the working world tomorrow, I took some time today to review the past year of these weekly blog posts. You don’t realize how long it’s really been until you review all the news events (daily Covid numbers jumped from two digits to four) and things you did. It’s probably not a good idea to question whether they were worth doing in the first place. Ah what the hell, let’s do it.
Here are some ironic bits I pulled out, because hindsight:
I’ve always envied people who find the hobbies/obsessions just for them (damage to finances and relationships aside). I’ve never met a game I loved so much that I would spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on buying its in-app purchases. Or shoes, bicycles, etc. I know people who do, though. They seem to buy almost thoughtlessly and without regret. [Week 26.21]
That was me wishing I had a hobby I liked enough to spend on it without thinking. Not long after writing that, I bought my first NFT. Over the next few months, I would fall out of love with the idea, and then back again. At present, there are days when I spend hours browsing interesting new releases and have the urge to just catch ‘em all. I don’t even know if it’s rational, if these artworks are real, or if this web3 mode of acquisition is legit, the way it might verifiably be in the real world. I justify it by saying this intersects with my work and my interests, but the simple truth is I’ve found my version of sneaker collecting. Be careful what you wish for.
Rather than continue reading Firebreak this week, I looked into a few topics I’ve been feeling ignorant of: what’s going on with social tokens? What do people mean exactly when they say “metaverse”, since they can’t literally imagine it’s Snow Crash, (insert Princess Amidala face) right? [Week 33.21]
A little while later, the metaverse hype train really took off (or derailed, depending on your POV) with Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, and every other company having some interest in exploring the space. Sadly, it seems that some people really do want life to be like in Snow Crash.
Prompted by a friend’s reports of how well their investments in the Luna token were doing, I looked into the Terra ecosystem out of Korea and was impressed by its vision — insomuch as someone with little background in economics can certify a financial flywheel logical and brilliant. I don’t know what I don’t know, but it sure looks good to me. [Week 34.21]
Narrator: Yup, he was indeed unqualified to certify any financial flywheels.
This tweet helped me to see that it does take longer than you’d think to disconnect from work/overwork. I thought I’d gotten to a good place in just a couple of weeks, but looking back, I’ve been giving myself a hard time about not being productive enough, not doing enough each week to learn new things, or start new hobbies, or have enough fun — and all of that is a psychological holdover from the rhythms of work/overwork. [Week 37.21]
I’m not ready yet to sit down and properly reflect on the entire period, what I learnt and how/if it’s changed me, but the short answer I’ve been giving people along the way is based on the above. For me at least, it’s impossible to take time off and just disconnect without going through several loops of trying to relax, trying to make productive use of the time, and feeling upset that I suck at taking time off.
The first half was more deliberately used: I planned things, I met up with people, I took stock at the end of every day to ask what I could have done instead. Fooling around with the Misery Men project was probably healthy; a way to feel like I was making something without the usual worry of whether it mattered.
Emotionally, the volatility probably went down in the second half — I wasn’t worried too much about how the time was used because it felt like there so much of it; maybe similar to how rich people don’t think too hard about their daily expenses. At the start of this sabbatical, one of the ways I phrased my objective was “to find boredom”, by which I meant total leisure satiation. It’s not possible, of course, just an ideal, because I could goof off forever. My guess is that it was only in the final third of the year that I started to live in the right mental neighborhood. I don’t feel completely renewed and energized or anything like that, but I take the emergence of my Subconscious Heirlooms project last week as a good sign. A year ago, I would not have suddenly found the will and courage to dash off 39 drawings in a week and put them up in public to be laughed at.
In terms of all the media activity I recorded, it looks like I watched a hell of a lot of TV, mostly disposable Netflix crap. Could have done with less of that. I spent enough time playing games, but still failed to get around to Yakuza Kiwami 2, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Lost Judgment, Astral Chain, Unpacking, Paradise Killer, A.I. The Somnium Files, VA-11 Hall-A, and a couple more still! I didn’t read as many books as I’d have liked, and that’s a bigger regret than not clearing the games backlog. Either I get better at squeezing gaming and reading into the rhythms of daily working life, or I’ll have to take another year off soon.
Writing anything down, whether in my journal, to friends, or in these blog posts, never felt like a waste.
A week of calamity for many participants in le monde de la cryptographie, as the Terra project unraveled at shocking speed, its two main tokens shedding over 99% of their value in a couple of days. I’m told that other tokens and the entire stock market also had a bad time, but I hardly noticed tbh. Everything looks good next to a raging gasoline fire.
I try not to mention (and certainly not encourage) any proper crypto stuff here, apart from talking about the technology or artistic merits of some NFTs, and this is why. Many people lost life-changing amounts of money this week, and some apparently took their own lives too. A couple of friends checked in to ask if I was affected and if I was okay, which was honestly sweet and appreciated. In short, I am/will be okay. I would be even better had I followed some basic risk management rules I knew well enough but chose to ignore. 🤷♂️
While on the subject… I discovered a bunch of new enefftee art of merit, that made me feel the urge to buy despite the screams, cries of doom, it’s-all-overs, etc. all around. Vice Motherboard reported that Neal Stephenson himself has purchased his first NFTs, which felt like a momentous occasion in SF history. He’s made interesting picks, with the series I liked best being Neophyte MMXXII by Sterling Crispin, which renders living simulations of plant growth in each artwork (disclosure: one now resides in my wallet too). I decided to send the VR-themed Misery Man #61 as an unsolicited gift to his address. As much as I’m fond of that one, if anyone deserves it, it’s surely the man who coined the term “metaverse”.
I also found myself attracted to Memories of Qilin by Emily Xie, which are generative paintings inspired by East Asian art. Both of the above are collections curated by Artblocks, the same platform that launched Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs, and exploring their site and Discord led me to Screens by Thomas Lin Pedersen, abstract pieces based on simulating screen printing techniques and featuring beautiful structural planes with swirling geometry that collide to suggest insane urban architecture and spatial depth. Ancient Courses of Fictional Rivers by Robert Hodgin visualizes the winding paths of rivers over time, and then the growth of human settlements on their banks. It’s beautiful art and a wonderful concept. Finally, Edifice by Ben Kovach also plays with the grids of imaginary cityscapes, generating the facades of impossible buildings. If I were rich I’d collect heaps of these.
Heyo three new creative outlets emerged!
1) Before Covid, I received a DJI Mavic Mini drone as a gift and then never got a chance to fly it properly. Those were the days when going outdoors unnecessarily was prohibited, and then even after the rules were relaxed, I was lazy and it didn’t happen (an example of how much time has passed: DJI just announced the Mavic Mini THREE). It’s been on my to-do list to start flying it during this time off, so that finally happened. My dad’s been into remote-controlled things his whole life, so he had the experience and interest in doing it with me. It was a fun afternoon, and I got some good photos from its pretty capable camera.
2) The Kabukicho webcam mentioned in previous weeks is still my background video feed of choice. I’ve decided to embark on a new project where I blow up this live scene onto a wall with my projector, watch it intently, and take photos (not screenshots) of interesting things happening. It’s street photography, but remotely!
Sure I’m restricted to just one angle, but for all purposes it’s a covid-era adaptation to not actually being there to document life on a seedy rat-infested street in a red-light district. And without the threat of being beaten up, as a bonus! The results are filtered through the mediation of space, codecs, optics, light; they look more pixel art than photos. But still street photography, one could argue! Sometimes you’ll see shadows cast by my body or items in my environment. It has layers of removal, but still ultimately real life in Shinjuku. I’ve just started, but already I’ve got a lady flashing her underwear to passers by, a man peeing against a wall after midnight, police stopping an altercation, people mugging for the camera…
3) It’s been five years since Rob and I had the opportunity to work together on something, but now something is coming together over the next few weeks, which should be fun. Albeit remotely and in two different time zones. I hope to be able to share more when it’s over.
- I’ve been reading Delta–V, the latest book by Daniel Suarez. It’s set in the near future, and concerns the first deep space expedition by a private company. They want to send a team of extreme adventurers and a few physically impressive scientists up to mine an asteroid for valuable materials, because it makes more sense to get building blocks from space to build stations and ships in space, than to fly it all up there from Earth. It’s good fun so far.
- Big week for new music. I’m still making time to hear it all; certainly too early to share any proper thoughts.
- The new Kendrick Lamar album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. Such a huge deal, the entire top of the Browse tab in Apple Music was taken over by carousels and featured tiles for this one album.
- Ryan Adams is back with a new double album, just weeks after releasing Chris, which was dedicated to his late brother. Now it’s time for Romeo & Juliet, billed as a summer heartbreak album of sorts, and much more accessible.
- Them Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have a new band with another guy, but Pitchfork says it’s pretty much like a new Radiohead album, and that’s very high praise. The Smile — A Light for Attracting Attention.
- Florence + the Machine — Dance Fever. Not sure what that title is about.
- Oh No — OFFAIR: Dr. No’s Lost Beach. I haven’t heard an Oh No album in years, but good stuff.
- Röyksopp — Profound Mysteries. I’ve never been a fan, but I played this once through and I’m keeping it in the library.
- Finally, Jens Lekman has rereleased two of his seminal albums from the past under new names, with some tracks rearranged and rerecorded, apparently because they are meant to be living works and changing over time. He’s serious about this, because the previous versions are no longer for sale or streaming! I recommend listening to The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom (formerly known as Oh You’re So Silent, Jens), because it has more of the songs I love, including Black Cab, of which there are two new versions here. The other album is The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom (formerly known as Night Falls Over Kortedala).
This was the first week in probably the entire time I’ve been doing these weekly updates (maybe a year and a half) where Monday came and I forgot to sit down and start drafting.
My sabbatical from work is coming to an end, and it’s quite likely that it’ll be hard to continue doing this in its current form once I have meetings to attend and less head space for frivolous introspection and mental health protection — what a concept! Ha ha! I will probably gather bullet points over the course of the week instead, or just write less, which may be a blessing anyway.
The wife-away season of 2022 has begun, as I said on my Instagram stories, but it’s too soon to say if I won’t die of malnutrition, lack of attention, insect infestation, sudden tumbles down the stairs, strokes, or other incidents — with no one to realize my demise until a week later, when one of these blog updates fails to materialize (and now I’ve gone ahead and pre-empted that they may be late; what a genius I am).
What have I been doing? I started playing Spiritfarer on the Switch. It’s beautiful, it’s chill, I think it will break my heart eventually.
I met up with my closest cousin after probably four years without a proper conversation. Some of the blame must be shouldered by the times we live in, but some of it is mine as usual.
I went to an NFT meetup the other day on Howard’s invitation. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I expected. I met a couple of good people who were clearly experts in their fields; the time investment and esoteric ecosystem knowledge just radiated from them. I also met some explorers like myself, who know enough from dabbling but are still bewildered by glimpses of the outer lands. Perhaps we don’t need to go there at all. But good to know there are guides.
I’ve been talking to the team behind a project I find fascinating and artistically sound. We might do something together. It feels right and effortless to be involved in something like this on my own time. Perhaps that’s how getting back to work will work out.
Sigrid has a new album out this week. I need to find the time to hear it.
I finished reading A Gentleman In Moscow, and found out that the television adaptation is being made for Apple TV+. That’s restored my faith in the project, because I know they won’t shortchange it. It’s funny how ATV launched with the promise of quality over quantity, and how we felt that wasn’t a real positioning. Fast forward to 2022 and the imminent collapse of Netflix subscriber numbers thanks to a perceivable decline in content quality, and Apple’s seal of assurance is suddenly valuable. Some of the best series I’ve seen this year have been on their service: WeCrashed, Slow Horses, Severance. Anyway, fantastic book, not schmaltzy and populist at all. 4.5 stars, I’d say.
See you all next week.