It's Friday so let's do another music log before the weekdays slip by. Half of this day has been spent fixing SQL scripts and doing code reviews. It is a blessing to be able to listen to good music in between. I would deem this music log a “pop-punk/emo-pop” edition, but the last song is a little too heavy to be considered pop-punk :)
To start it up, we have “Into Your Arms” by The Maine. Love this song, takes me back to my college years.
Next up is “All Over You” by The Spill Canvas. This a great track. Love how it transitions from the intro, to the verses, to the chorus, each piece sounding different, but combine them all together and you end up with a great song.
Last song is “My Life For Hire” by A Day To Remember. ADTR is awesome! They are one of the few metal/screamo bands who, in my opinion, gets just the right amount of screaming and singing in most of their hit songs.
For a week or two before I started my digital de-clutter phase, I was trying to figure out which pocket notebooks to get. The idea being that they will take the place of my smartphone if I needed to take notes. The idea on top of that was to reduce my smartphone usage even more; by not using it to take notes. And by not using my smartphone to take notes, I won't even need to pull it out of my pocket or drawer or wherever it is at, thereby lessening the chance it will distract me during the day. When I finally tried it out in the real world, the results surprised me.
I thought I would challenge myself to read more books this year. I decided to set the bar low and aim for completing just 5 books. I consider 5 books a low bar because from what I’ve seen online, other people can finish 5 books in just a few months. I on the other hand, probably have read maybe 2 books, most likely just 1 book per year, for the past decade.
So I consider finishing 5 books this year a good accomplishment. This would not have been possible had I still been addicted to social media and my smartphone. I also credit the Digital Minimalism book in helping me find more time to read books.
Actually I finished reading 6 books already this year, I forgot to add The Five People You Meet In Heaven to the list on Goodreads before I took the screenshot. I'm also reading another one that should be completed in a few weeks.
Out of the 5 books I have read this year, I consider Deep Work to be a “life-changing” book. It has totally changed how I view spending my time at work and even at home.
I would say the most fun read was Digital Minimalism. Fun in the sense that I was ecstatic whenever I read about a new tip/trick that can help me reclaim more of my time and attention.
The ultimate page turner out of all of them was The Shadow of What Was Lost. Really good book which gives off a Lord of the Rings vibe. Lots of interesting characters, each with their own story lines. The plot twist at the end was crazy! I already have the second book from this trilogy in my backlog.
Next year I’m going to aim for completing 10 books. Not sure if I can hit that goal, but I will definitely try. It helps that my wife seems to want to buy me books even if I can pay for them myself. I guess that makes me one lucky guy.
It's time for another music log. I skipped a week because last week was too busy; think group of software developers locked in a room until a new feature was implemented. Anyway it's good to be back online.
Let's start off with “All the Same” by Sick Puppies. This is a pretty old song that for some reason eluded me during my college years. Or at least I don't remember hearing this song back then. I only heard it this year and I like it a lot. I love how it starts slow and builds up to a point when the vocals and instruments come to life.
Next up is “Breathe You In” by Thousand Foot Krutch. I would classify Thousand Foot Krutch as a Christian rock band, but they make music that fits a bunch of different genres. This is one of their slow rock songs that I really like. I especially like to listen to this song when I feel down and I feel like I need help.
Last song for today is “Lions” by Skillet. Another slow rock song from another Christian rock band. I love this song because it sounds uplifting and inspirational.
Having a 1 hour or so limit on playing video games, really forces me to think about what other leisure activities I can engage in. Ever since I started the digital declutter phase and even after it ended, I only really had two options: playing the guitar or reading a book. Last Sunday I added another one to the list; board games.
Note: I'm using “board games” as a catch all for all types of board and card games.
I have a decent amount of board games that can be played solo or co-op. Lord of the Rings LCG is my favorite. It is also the one that keeps breaking my heart.
If you are not familiar with this game, it is a living card game from Fantasy Flight Games. Living Card Game is an alternative to the traditional collectible card game distribution model. Take Magic the Gathering for instance, in MTG you buy booster packs that contains random cards. In Lotr LCG, the contents of their adventure packs are known and fixed, so you don't have to buy multiple packs just to chance upon a card you really want.
Being a Lord of the Rings fan, this game is simply a must have for me and the bonus is that I can play it solo. It can be brutally hard at times though, so it might not be for casual players. Deck Building is also a requirement in this game and that can take some time. That's precisely what I did last Sunday night.
I built a deck to take on the Shadow and Flame scenario. I elected to go with a tri-sphere deck consisting of Spirit, Lore and Tactics. I'm excited to be able play Legolas again. I'm also looking forward to playing Elrond for the first time. I'm interested to see what he can do when he is equipped with his ring Vilya. Unfortunately after prepping the encounter deck, I have a feeling I will fail miserably on my first attempt at this scenario. We'll see what happens once I get to play it.
So I just watched the pilot episode of this new show, Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix and I am really impressed with it. I used to be a big Formula 1 fan back when I was in college, but have not been keeping up the past few years. Watching the pilot episode has rekindled in me the desire to watch the races again.
I am not even sure how they filmed this. It looks like a movie, like a fictional movie, but it is not. They managed to take real life footage and make it look like a movie. The part in the episode where they were building up to the start of the race was very cool.
I'm used to watching races live. You have the commentators talking with each other, you have the race data on the screen and you see the drivers racing. You never get to see what happens behind the scenes though. And that's what you get to watch in this show.
You get to see that there are human beings behind all this, that they have dreams and ambitions just like the rest of us. And you get to see what it looks like when all those come crashing down. It is crazy to say this, but I actually got a little teary eyed when the episode showed the Haas team losing both their cars. (That is not a spoiler by the way, because that's what happened in the first race during the 2018 season.) Getting emotional like that would have never happened to me had I been watching the live race.
If you're a fan of racing or motorsport in general, I think you should definitely try to watch the first few episodes. I'm glad I did.
Update: I initially had embedded code for the first two songs I shared but I realized the album cover might be NSFW, so I just took them out and replaced them with links.
It's Friday, so it's time for another music log entry. This entry is going to be focused on music from the band Stand Atlantic. I just recently discovered this Aussie pop-rock band in Spotify. They seem to be an up and coming band. They remind me a lot of the pop-rock/punk-pop bands from my college years, like Simple Plan or All Time Low. Either way their songs are pretty good.
First up is “Skinny Dipping”, which is my favorite song from them so far. If you search for “Stand Atlantic” and “Skinny Dipping” on Youtube, you'll find an acoustic version that is really good.
Next up is another good song, “Toothpick”.Toothpick
Last one for today is a surprising one. I'm used to rock bands making covers of pop songs, but not the other way around. This one is a cover of Taking Back Sunday's “MakeDamnSure”. I would call it a rock goes pop-rock cover. I love it!
It's the end of the month and I have to go through my daily log entries for the month of July on my Bullet Journal, so I thought this would be a good time to write a journal entry as well. So I guess you could call this one a monthly journal entry of some sorts.
I was looking for bolt-action pens to use with my Bullet Journal. I didn't end up getting one, but I did find a nice site, Gallantry.com that sells a nice selection of EDC gear. No this is not a sponsored post, just sharing the site.
In addition to looking for bolt-action pens, I was also looking to get a slimmer wallet. I have this Card Wallet by Anson Calder on my short list. Again this is not a sponsored post, just sharing.
Trying a new format for sharing good music that I just listened to today. Depending on how this goes, I might make this a weekly post. Anyway, as I said in my About page, I like listening to rock music. So if you are a fan of the genre, you might find some new songs to listen to from this list.
Here are 3 songs that gave me some much appreciated frisson today. I discovered them from a “Punk Goes Pop” playlist by some dude in Spotify, so they are all cover songs with a punk rock twist.
First up is “Soak Up The Sun” by the band Sincerely, Me. I am familiar with original song, but have never heard of the band before. Very nicely done cover though.
Next up is “Sweet But Psycho” by First To Eleven. I have not heard the original song nor do I know of this band, but this song is great! I don't even need to listen to the original.
Last one for today is the song “I Don't Care” by Our Last Night. I have not heard the original song but apparently this is an Ed Sheeran song. I have heard of Our Last Night though. They made some of the best rock covers I have ever listened to. Their cover of Taylor Swift's “Blank Space” was out of this world! This band doesn't just do covers, they make it sound like they wrote the song in the first place.
There is a saying that goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. That is the basis for the first productivity tip that I'm sharing on this journal. As you can tell by the title though, I added “Out of Reach” in between. The reason for that is explained towards the end of this post.
My usual routine when I got to work was to take out my phone and place it on my desk, right in front of me, between the keyboard and my monitors. The idea being that I would easily spot any notification and can act on them.