Further Updates for 2021

So far, I’m enjoying 2021 much more than 2020. Sure, this new year isn’t without its share of issues. But things are still looking up and still moving in the right direction . . . in my humble opinion at least.

Which brings me to the update promised in the title of this post. Here goes: we’ve started posting new content at The Flickcast. Not just podcasts, mind you, other content too. Fun!

Starting to post content again serves several purposes, not the least of which is getting me into the habit of writing every day. That’s a good thing.

Plus, who knows, maybe some people will go to the site and it will generate a few bucks of income? It could happen. It’s happened before. We have pretty small overhead so almost anything would be good.

That said, if you feel so inclined, head over and read some articles and maybe click on one of the ads? I’d appreciate it.

Speaking of websites, there’s another one you should check out for sure: Hapa Grey. I’m probably biased (I am) but it’s one of my favorites. If you love bargains and deals and knowing about the latest trends, Hapa Grey is the site for you. Check it out.

Other than that, I’m playing a fuckton of D&D (in private and on Twitch), we’re not frozen anymore, don’t have to boil our water, my son hates doing school online, it’s basically been a year since we started quarantine and I almost got my first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Maybe I’ll get it tomorrow? Maybe. Hope you get yours soon too.

Until then, stay safe, wear your mask, social distance and try not to be a dick.

 

Image: Adobe Stock

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Things Are Looking Up

As expected, the inauguration made me feel a lot better about things, life and the future. It’s weird how your life can change quickly and how the feeling of a giant weight pressing down on you for, oh, the last four years can be gone just as quickly.

Yeah, weird.

Yes, even though seeing President Biden and Vice-President Harris sworn in was the cathartic exhale we all needed, we cannot forget poet Amanda Gorman was amazing and almost stole the entire show. I expect to see her again in the future. A lot. If you haven’t watched her at the ceremony, do it now.

And, as expected, with adults running things again, shit is starting to get done already.

What is that I’m feeling? Hope? I guess so.

Happy New Year. Fucking finally.

Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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Some Thoughts for 2021

Well, it happened. The ball dropped and we’ve been magically transported to the year 2021. Yeah, good for us.

Please don’t mistake my tone, I am happy it’s 2021. As we all know, 2020 was kinda shit and a lot of bad things happened. So, having a “do over” seems like a great idea and something I can get behind.

But I’ve also lived long enough to know things don’t always work out the way you want them to. They sometimes suck and go in a direction you didn’t expect or plan for. Life is funny that way and, over the years, you kinda get used to it. Mostly, anyway.

The big question we need to ask for 2021, though, is will things change, especially given the recent horrible events at the US Capital and the continued unrest and dangerous acts committed by some of our elected officials and our citizens? And if things do change, will they change for the better?

The only answer I can muster at the moment is maybe. Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

But really, can you blame me? If 2020 has taught me anything it’s we can’t rely on our elected officials, or our fellow humans, to just “do the right thing.” Many simply can’t or won’t. And sure, some actually do.

But enough don’t so we’re approaching 400,000 dead from COVID. Not that people doing the wrong thing and not wearing a mask or social distancing caused all of those nearly 400K deaths, but I’d bet simple human selfishness or entitlement was a big factor.

But this is supposed to be more of an “optimistic” post for 2021, so I won’t get into any more of that.

At least there’s finally not one, but two vaccines. That’s a big deal. Yay science! And they do seem to be rolling it out and people are getting vaccinated. The process is not without its problems, which should come as a shock to nobody, but it is happening. Again, that’s good.

Even with all the problems in 2020 and the shit that seems to be starting, or continuing, in 2021, I really do think we have a chance to make this county better and for people to come together. Sure, we’ve been going in absolutely the wrong direction for at least the last four years, so reversing course might be a tall order, but I still think maybe we can do it.

We just have to try really, really hard. I think Biden/Harris is a great step and the Democrats winning Georgia and controlling Congress is also a wonderful outcome. But it’s not enough.

We need to call out this bullshit behavior before it happens. And put a stop to it. We need to confront racists, misogynists, fascists or wanna-be nazis now and set them straight, or destroy their potential influence or bullshit plots, before they can do any harm. Not after armed dickheads storm the Capitol of our county in an aborted coup attempt. That day was pretty bad, but it could have been much worse.

The bad guys are not on the way, they are already here among us. They are in our schools, places of worship, where we work and certainly online. Fortunately, some of their online influence has been curbed, at least for the moment.

And many of the terrorists who stormed the Capital have been apprehended and hopefully will face swift and severe punishment. Those are couple very good steps in the right direction. But we can’t stop there.

Our eyes have been opened to what’s going on in our country. We dare not close them again.

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A 2020 Short Story

I posted this on Twitter, but I thought I’d put it on here too. Why not? Although, I realize by posting it here it will also be posted back to Twitter. The circle of life . . .

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This Is The End

Well, it’s the end of 2020 at least. Almost anyway. None too soon, if you ask me. And since this is my site, if you don’t ask me, I’ll just go ahead and ask myself.

That’s just how this works, see?

What a pain 2020 has been, right? I don’t need to go into it here because you know what I’m talking about. Still, seriously, fuck this year.

And while I’m at it, fuck people who don’t believe in science, compassion or simple human decency. And fuck people who try to take advantage of the poor or the weak or try to oppress or persecute people based on their race, religion, gender identity, or for any other reason. It’s not right. None of it. Stop fucking doing it.

That was a lot of “fucks” and I apologize. I’m just kinda angry about a lot of stuff right now. More than usual. I’m also very tired. You can probably relate.

In fact, if I had to sum up this year in one word, I’d say “tired.” As in, I’m fucking tired. 2020 is the year that never seemed to end and continuously threw one horrible thing after another at all of us. I don’t know about you, but . . . I. Am. Tired.

I’m tired of have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night. I’m tired of worrying about what our country is turning into, or what it was all along and we just didn’t notice. I’m tired of worrying about the thousands of people dying every day while thousands more call a pandemic a “hoax” and refuse to take basic precautions like wearing a mask. I’m tired of the indifference, incompetence and seemingly wanton acts of cowardice and malice from our elected officials.

I’m tired of it. All of it. I’ll bet you are too.

And speaking of “anti mask” dickheads, fuck those selfish assholes too.

Perhaps it’s a character flaw but I have a lot of trouble comprehending people who just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves, especially during something like COVID. Like I get you’re a selfish prick but maybe, just this once, can you do something for someone other than yourself and wear this thing over your fucking pie hole to protect others from your stupidity and anti-science bullshit? Once COVID is gone, feel free to return to your previous behavior. I guess. Thanks?

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy ego. Ask anyone.

But my ego doesn’t replace common decency and regard for my fellow humans. As in, I do care if you live or die so I’m going to do my part to help stop the spread of COVID by wearing a mask, washing my hands, keeping my distance and staying at home most of the time.

I do it because I give a shit, not just about myself, but about all of you. Even you fuckers who don’t deserve it and wouldn’t do the same for me. It’s called being a good citizen and good human. Look it up.

I think being a good citizen and a good human is a good thing. You may not agree. If you don’t, well, I guess fuck you too.

I realize this all may seem pretty negative, and some of it is, frankly. But don’t despair. All is not lost. We have some hope, as I mentioned in my last post.

Compassionate, intelligent adults seem to be in charge again. Thank the gods. Will it help? Probably. Do we still have a long way to go? You bet your ass we do. Do we have a chance? Yep. I think we have a good chance.

Let’s really try not to fuck it up.

 

 

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Hope 2.0

Well, well. As much as I was thinking and hoping positive change was coming, I still had some doubts. 2020 has been a bit too rough to go quietly.

Fortunately, it seems, this year can still surprise me and it looks like the adults are back in charge of the country again. Compassionate, decent, thoughtful, science-loving, education-loving, kind and sincere adults.

About fucking time.

Sure, we’re not out of the woods yet. He who shall not be named is still squatting in the People’s House and looks to be staying, at least for the short term. But I’m not going to let that get me down. Not me. Not this time. He’ll be out soon enough. One way or another. If I get a vote I choose “dragged away in cuffs”, but I don’t think it will get that far. Too bad.

The important thing is my vote mattered. Your vote mattered. All votes mattered. And all votes counted. The will of the people has been heard. You love to see it.

But we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Millions of our fellow citizens voted for the other guy and now we have the unenviable task of trying to work with them to move our country forward. As our new President-Elect, Joe Biden, said, he wants to be the President for all of us, not just the ones who voted for him.

That seems like an almost impossible task. I sincerely wish him luck. Still, he needs to govern and he needs to move the country forward and eradicate COVID and get us back on the right track. No matter what.

If detractors from his own side, and those who didn’t vote for him, want to come along in the spirit of unity and improving the country, great. Glad to have you aboard.

If Democrats don’t want to help, or those who didn’t vote for him want cling to their old ideas of hate, divisiveness, bigotry, baseless accusation and fear mongering, then fuck ’em. We don’t need ’em. Some people are too afraid, too stubborn or, dare I say it, too ignorant to change. I feel bad for them but some people just don’t want help and don’t want to change. You can’t please everyone.

Whatever happens going forward, I’m happy to live in a county that elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Great job, guys. We did it. Optimism is back in style and the future looks a little brighter.

And to my new President and Vice President I say good luck. We’re with you.

Don’t fuck it up.

 

Photo Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images

 

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Podcasting Setup Update and the Shure SM7B

As I mentioned in a previous post outlining my new, improved podcasting setup I’ve been waiting patiently for the Shure SM7B microphone to arrive. Well, it arrived.

I’ve already set it up and recorded a new episode of The Flickcast with it. Expect that one soon. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that, to me at least, the mic more than lives up to the hype. In fact, it’s great.

It’s so great, in fact, I’m done looking. As in I will never use a different mic. Ever. I’m hooked.

Anyway, that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions about the Shure SM7B, my podcasting setup or podcasting in general. Happy to help if I can.

Oh, I should mention we recently launched a Patreon for The Flickcast. If you feel like supporting our show, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks so much and stay safe!

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Podcasting And My New, Improved Setup

Even though I really did consider keeping my head down and trying to just “make it through” this time of COVID, turns out I couldn’t really do that. I’m not a “wait and see” type after all, but I guess I already knew that.

Instead, after due consideration, me and some pals decided to revive The Flickcast podcast and bring it back stronger than ever. Seems right. It was a good show. It can be a great show. We’re working on it.

I enjoy podcasting and I’m not sure why I stopped. Hard to say. Anyway, now I’m back into it and the first new episode of The Flickcast dropped this week. Give it a listen, and if you like it, tell a friend. Thanks.

Now with the promotional portion of our story over (for the moment at least) we are now on to to the actual topic of this post: my new podcasting setup. If you know me, you know I love gear. Gadgets. Tech. Stuff. And of course, I still love analog things too. I haven’t given those up, don’t worry.

However, it’s hard to do a podcast without some technology and really a podcast with all analog gear would just be, well, a live stage show, which is kinda a bad idea right now. So, tech it is.

Knowing I wanted to have much better sound quality this time around I decided to upgrade my podcasting setup and go for improved audio and an overall more professional show. I’m sure I can achieve at least one of those.

I’m still in the process of finishing some upgrades, but here’s the new setup for the moment:

My microphone of choice is a classic, the Shure Sm58. My eventual mic, the Shure SM7B, is currently on back order but should arrive soon. Until then, the SM58 is no slouch. It sounds really good.

I hang the mic on a Rode PSA1 boom arm attached to my desk to get it in the right position. The arm makes it much easier to adjust the mic and get it where it needs to be. It also gets the mic off of my desk, which improves sound quality and helps reduce those pesky vibrations and keyboard sounds. Plus, it just looks cool.

The SM58 is connected via XLR cable to one of the two inputs on my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 box, which allows the signal to be converted to digital and recorded into Logic Pro X on my MacBook Pro via the Scarlett’s USB interface. This box does a great job and the audio sounds super clean. Such a great little device.

Also connected to the Sm58 in line between the mic and the Scarlett 2i2 is a mic activator called the Cloudlifter CL1. Those little blue boxes help boost the audio and make me sound even better. I could explain in more detail why the Cloudlifter is a great device and how it works, but this isn’t that kind of technical review. Just know it does a great job.

The Scarlett is connected to my MacBook Pro (more on that in a different post) via USB-C cable, which allows it to not only interface with the Mac but also be powered by it. So, no need to plug it into a wall outlet or anything, which is nice.

Finally, I record and edit audio in Apple’s Logic Pro X running on the previously mentioned 2020 13″ MacBook Pro with a 2.3 Ghz Quad Core i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM. Not gonna lie, it’s a sweet machine.

I used Final Cut Pro for video editing for a long time so Logic seemed like a, well, logical way to go as the interface and workflow is similar to FCP. I did also try Adobe’s Audition for a bit, but I don’t really like renting software on a monthly basis, so buying Logic Pro once and being able to own seemed like a good idea.

At the moment, I don’t do much audio editing for The Flickcast as, thankfully, we have a great producer who does most of that (Hi Mike). But I like to learn new things so I’ve been studying and practicing with Logic Pro X. Also, The Flickcast isn’t the only podcast I’m going to be doing (more on that later too), so being able to edit and adjust audio will be good skills to have.

Oh, in addition to these things, you’ll also need some XLR cables and a USB-C cable. For XLR, I’ve always been a Mogami guy, so get those if you can. Sure, they aren’t cheap, but they last forever and do a great job. On less thing to worry about.

For USB-C, I usually won’t pay Apple’s prices and instead get cables from Anker. They’re just as good, if not better, and way less expensive. You will also want a pair of headphones for monitoring your audio when recording and for editing and mixing it afterward. Currently, I use the Sony MDR-7508, just like most everyone else. Hey, they work.

This wasn’t a real, in depth, review of these devices but I just wanted to give a little info on my new, improved setup in case people were interested. That said, if you have questions about any of this, feel free to ask. I think people should try to help others and spread the knowledge. We’re all in this together, after all.

If you want to subscribe to The Flickcast, you can find it at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher and at the show’s website.

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Head Down ‘Til 2021

It seems the optimistic tone of my previous post about 2020 was a wee bit premature. Because, yeah, COVID 19 pandemic and all that.

So, now things suck. And we’ve been quarantined at home for a few months. And we can’t go to work, get a haircut, go to the movies or generally be within six feet of others without a mask or even greater forms of personal protection. And it seems things are gonna legit continue to suck for quite some time.

And yes, I don’t feel great about it most of the time. And yes, that’s a lot of “and” at the start of sentences. I get that. Did I mention the pandemic? I’m not exactly at my best. And I’m sure most of you aren’t either.

But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling and to pretty much deal with this shit however you need to, short of hurting others, or yourself, of course.

Even though things look bleak, one thing is for sure, we will get through it. The pandemic will end. A vaccine will be developed and administered and life will get back to “normal.”

Will it be the same normal we were used to before? Nope. Might things still kinda suck for a long time? Maybe. Will it start to suck a bit less as time goes on? I sure hope so. I think it will suck for some time after but I also think we will start to feel better and eventually be okay.

It will just take some time. And that’s cool. I’m not going anywhere. And neither should you. Let’s just wait it out together. Okay? Cool.

And now I’m done. Try to be kind to each other while we’re in the middle of this shit. And heck, why not try it after we’re on the other side too?

Couldn’t hurt.

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Happy 2020

Well, friends, we made it. It’s the new year and with it new opportunities to do things right. Or, better. Or, whatever. You get the idea. It’s new, okay?

With all that’s going on in the world, and I won’t get too much into that now, I admit I’ve taken some time to reflect and maybe practice a bit of what the kids call “self care.” In other words, I’ve taken some time off from this site and, to be honest, from a lot of other things too.

But now, here I am. Ready? Cool, let’s get to it.

I’m not a person who makes resolutions when new years roll around. I think it only leads to eventual disappointment when you can’t keep them. I do, however, try to think of one or two things I would like to do differently, or be better at, in the new year.

I want to expand my skills and knowledge as much as possible. And I think that’s a good thing. Not just this year, but every year. Every day, if possible.

So, what are the areas I would like to improve in 2020? Well, glad you asked. For one, I’m going to stop hiding. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’ll just use that one. I’ve been hiding.

It’s not like I’ve withdrawn from society completely and am currently filling jars with my urine and stacking them neatly in the corner of my bedroom. I still go places and see people and whatever. I’m just not as engaged in all of it as I used to be and I definitely don’t do it as often.

In fact, I find myself trying to avoid it a lot of the time, for no real reason other than I’d rather stay home and being around other people is a lot of work. You have to talk and listen and pretend to care about what they’re saying. Who has time for that? I’m exaggerating, of course. But you get the idea.

I’ve also stopped exercising and most of the work on my various writing and photography projects. My book has been at about 45000 words for the last six months, at least. I need to get back to it and back out to the trails to hike or, at the very least, clear the clothes hanging on the treadmill and walk a bit. Gotta move, man!

There’s a lot of reasons for the hiding, but let’s just say it’s a lot of personal shit and I won’t really get into it. The real take away here is I’m aware of the problem and I’m going to try to fix it.

No. I’m going to fix it. Yoda doesn’t like it when you say “try,” and he was a Jedi master, so I guess I’ll listen to him.

The second area I’m going to put in some word on is dealing with anger and frustration. The current situation we have in this country has caused me a great deal of frustration and anger. I see things going in a direction I don’t think is healthy and I often feel powerless to do anything about it. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

I don’t know exactly how to fix the country (cough cough impeachment cough cough) but I do know I can deal with my anger and frustration a lot better than I do. So, I will.

New 2020 Chris will not let things get to him as much and will not dwell on the total asshats currently in charge in Washington. Or with the idiots on social media spouting their bullshit or with any random stranger (or friend for that matter) saying stupid shit.

I will be tolerant and discuss issues in an intelligent and adult manner. Or, I’ll block their ass. But whatever I do, I’ll do it calmly and without frustration or anger. I’ll be fucking Zen about the whole damn thing. I know it won’t be easy, but it needs to happen.

Well, that’s it. This was fun, at least for me. I hope you got something out of it too.

Who knows, perhaps you’ll join me in selecting one or two areas of personal change for yourself? Or you can just go through 2020 being the same asshole you always were.

Either way, we’re cool.

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