§ For most of this year I continued to listen to my Spotify Release Radar and Discover Weekly playlists every week but, without making a decision, I’ve mostly stopped over the past couple of months. I think I’ve become increasingly wary of any automatically-generated Spotify playlists because I assume, rightly or wrongly, that some tracks are only there because someone’s paid to be featured. I started to fear I was being sold to, rather than… whatever I thought a large company’s “algorithms” were doing before.
A few months ago Sylvan Esso, about whom I knew nothing, began cropping up on those playlists frequently and enjoyably enough that I noticed. But I resisted listening to them much more for a while. And then, even when I did, I felt a bit bad, like I was giving in to whatever dark processes had been continually pushing the band at me.
Thankfully I eventually got through that phase and have been happily listening to their recent Free Love album all week and love it. I also watched: WITH, a 40-minute film of them performing, rehearsing and talking; their Tiny Desk Concert from five years ago; and this, their recent Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, which is lovely, sitting on the sofa in a woolly sweater, sounding great:
No, I don’t know why it can be such an effort for me to start liking a new (to me) band but I’ve found it (a bit) interesting how my attitude to Spotify’s algorithms has changed. They used to feel like an enjoyable modern miracle, helpful and seemingly objective. But now the algos feel (again, to me) like just another part of the grubby money internet.
§ I was interested to read about Cloudflare’s new “privacy-first Web analytics” this week given I dumped the Evil Google’s analytics from this site last year and was contemplating writing my own little thing solely to keep track of referrers so I could see if anyone linked to anything here.
Cloudflare’s system seems nice and simple but… I can’t get it to work. There are “Access-Control-Allow-Origin” errors and hardly anything shows in the dashboard. I can’t see any settings I need to fiddle with. Maybe I’ve done something wrong somewhere? I’ve posted in their support community with no luck so far.
Only one of several occasions this week when I have sworn at computers.
§ The wildlife highlight of the week occurred yesterday while I was outside raking leaves. I’d already done a bit of purely-cosmetic raking, clearing the leaves that accumulate in drifts around the front door. I’d then started on shifting some of the mounds of leaves that had fallen from the stacks of branches chopped down by the electricity company’s contractors a while back because they were too close to the power lines.
I don’t know a lot about the pros and cons of fallen leaves being left on grass but I figured these six-inch deep sprawling mounds, rusty-brown and crunchy on top, dark-brown and soggy at the bottom, probably weren’t a good thing. I’d finished raking, grabbing, and dumping the first few of what turned out to be ten wheelbarrows full of leaves and, seeing the sun shining through the bare branches above, I sat down on the grassy slope for a few minutes to rest.
A robin then fluttered to a branch, looked around, and swooped down to the ground a few feet ahead of me where my raking had, I assume, revealed various tiny tasty creatures. The robin hopped around for some time, as I watched it, the low white sun falling through the trees onto the glistening leaves and the little bird.
I have a low tolerance for horror – being scared and shocked are not emotions I associate with enjoyment – and this extends to Twin Peaks’ general eeriness when experienced alone, at night, in a silent house in the countryside, a fair distance from anything but darkness. I managed the first episode but any more might have to wait until the middle of the day when I have company.
Being here alone is a bit odd, heightened by not having the car and, given the killer virus, not really being able to go anywhere even if I did have transport. The days are fine, but very quiet, and I look forward to rare deliveries or the cheery afternoon appearance of Bob The Post bearing Christmas cards.
But after dark the world disappears and I’m floating in silence, determinedly filling the space with the sound of telly or music to disguise any strange noises and keep things feeling… alive? moving? like I’m already on the way to tomorrow? Anything to suppress the eeriness.
So, back to The American Version Of The Office I guess (onto season five now) which feels a bit like eating cake for dinner every night. It’s pleasant, and keeping me alive so far, but I’m not sure it’s enough on its own to sustain me. Whatever. It’s the end of 2020. Cake for dinner.
§ Only eighteen more days and then it’s 2021!