Liner Notes (October 19th, 2018)

Calvin and Hobbes

I blame Federico Viticci over at MacStories for going on a deep dive of playing around with Siri Shortcuts all week. Once I start down the path of automating things or organizing my phone, I always end up going overboard. Still, it was a fun way to spend a few nights.

In this week’s roundup, I look at a few new apps I’ve been using and explore the Siri Shortcut stuff I’ve been playing around with. I also share my first thoughts on the upcoming album from Saves the Day, go through my usual media diet from the past week, and share ten songs I loved this week. There’s been lots of Halloween and fall-themed entertainment in our household recently. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • I have been having a lot of fun with Siri Shortcuts this week. Some of the things I ended up setting up include (the links go to the Shortcuts or the posts in the Apple thread I wrote about them):
    • I’ve started logging water via a Shortcut instead of using the MyFitnessPal app. I really like having all of the information I can in my Health app because it gives such great ways to look at history, trends, and I trust the entire system. The more data in there, the better I say. While MFP brings in all the information about food, it wasn’t pulling in the water I was logging. One of my goals with the recent diet changes has been to try and drink a lot more water than I was before, and, as always, if I want to change a habit, measuring and tracking helps me get there. Also, this is much easier to log the water than opening up MFP, going to the diary, and entering the information. I have the icon on my (newly redesigned) second screen, and the widget is even better.
    • I created “Morning” and “Night” shortcuts to do a variety of things at night and in the morning. Now I can track my sleeping time in the Health app a little better, and start my day with information I need to see, not pollute my brain with Twitter.
    • I tweaked my Activity Report Shortcut to display information that’s more useful to me. It’ll tell me how much I moved over a given period, weight change information, and how much water I am drinking and averaging per day.
    • Now that I’ve finally hit my goal weight, I wanted to do something fun with my “Log My Weight” Shortcut. It’s no longer about me wanting to see my weight go down each week; it’s about a steady number with minor fluctuations. So instead of just logging the weight, I put in some conditionals to look at what my weight currently is, show me the past few weigh-ins to compare, and then if it’s lower than I want it to be it’ll display a message like “ok, you needa eat more” and if it’s a little higher than I want, it’ll display a different message telling me to evaluate the calories I’m consuming. Then if it’s outside of the range I want to be it’ll basically tell me to fucking knock it off and give me all the middle finger emojis. And lastly, for fun, if I’m within the range I want to be in I made a bunch of random motivational-ish messages that it’ll randomly select from. I don’t know why I find this funny, but I got a kick out of making it. I’m hoping adding this context to my weight logging will help keep me motivated and give me a little more information as I move into this next phase.
    • I really hope MyFitnessPal adds Siri Shortcut support. Even to open the app and go right to the search/log food screen would save me time each day, let alone some of the other cool shit you could create. Sigh. That app has changed my life for the better in the past few months, and it’s still got so many UI/UX issues that drive me insane. It could be so much better.
  • One of the podcasts I listen to regularly mentioned how great the Carrot Weather app was for Apple Watch complications. Living in Portland, with the constant threat of rain, I figured I should give it a try. They were right. It’s a great weather app. I’ve moved my phone, watch, and computer over to using it exclusively for my weather needs. I try and keep my Mac menubar as clean and clutter free as possible (thank you Bartender), so putting the little weather widget up there is a real sign of trust. But, I really like being able to glance up and see what the temperature is and getting information about what’s coming up. Notifications and the iPhone app are top notch as well. This gets my current recommendation as my favorite weather app/collection of apps out there.
  • Since I started doing this little roundup, I’ve been using my Letterboxd account as a way to remind me what I saw throughout the week. I love that app and network for tracking movies. It’s easy to use, and I love having a history of everything I’ve seen and when. I’ve wanted something similar for TV shows for a while. I have a account, but I wasn’t using it. I found the web interface to be kind of sloppy for adding new shows and marking off what I’ve seen. Over the weekend I decided to give the iShows TV iOS app a try, and I’ve become a fan. It syncs with the Trackt database/account to keep track of things, but it has a much nicer interface for finding shows and marking them as watched. I’ve been using this for the week to mark the TV shows I’m watching and leave little ratings. I haven’t used it quite enough yet to know if it’s exactly the solution I am looking for, but so far … it’s been pretty nice. I like being able to go back through my history on the website and see what I watched and when. Years from now it’ll be interesting, to me and me alone, to see “oh that’s when you first watched The Good Place,” and things like that. I dunno, I’m apparently in a very “log everything!” kind of mood.
  • I updated the forum profiles to have spots for a few more social media profiles.

Music Thoughts

  • I broke out +44’s album for the first time in a long time this week. It holds up well. Some legit great songs on this one. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of the things Mark explored here make their way into new Blink-182 music.
  • I spun the Laura Jane Grace album a couple more times this week, and my thoughts are just a more solidified version of last week: It’s a good album that feels a little disconnected at times. But, there are so many great songs on here that it doesn’t matter that much.
  • I like that new album from The Sonder Bombs. Great recommendation from Mary V. It’s called Modern Female Rockstar and I can see the obvious early-Paramore comps. It’s just a fun rock album from a band I’d keep an eye on. “Title” shows they have an ear for a great chorus.
  • Matt Nathanson’s latest continued to get multiple spins this week. It may find itself in my top ten by the end of the year the way this is going.
  • The latest from Lykke Li is a great crisp fall morning album.
  • I started listening through Anberlin’s discography after their show announcement yesterday. I’ve only made through Cities so far, but I plan to keep going throughout the weekend. These songs hold up well, even if this isn’t the kind of music I listen to or am drawn to these days. I’m curious to see how the rest of the catalog sits with me.
  • The new Say Anything album sounds like a thrown together mess of half-thoughts and scraps. Two thumbs down.
  • This new Saves the Day album is something I am not sure how to get my head around. My first impression is positive, but I also totally understand the criticisms I’ve seen in the threads about not being able to connect with the lyrics. A lot of it does feel like a stream of consciousness diary of Chris’s thoughts about his band. The album also has more of a rock feel to it than I was expecting. Some cool guitar parts. I think my early favorites are “Rosé” and “29.” I don’t love “1997.” I need a couple more spins to lock down how I feel about this one, but it is not hitting me as immediately as the self-titled album did. I wonder if the weather is influencing that as well? Damn is “29” an epic way to close out an album though.
  • So that new The 1975 single sure is something. This band has reached the annoying level for me where when I hear something new from them, I immediately kind of hate all other music. I get a little angry that they’re this good, and that other bands aren’t making music that hits me the same way, and it usually takes a few days for me to snap out of it. I hear these new songs, and all I want to do is binge their catalog and beg the label to send me the god-damn-album. That’s a rare spot for a band to be in with me. But, fuck, have you heard that new song? It’s just so good.
  • The new Minus the Bear EP is a nice way for the band to go out. I’m going to miss them. I didn’t love every album they put out, but I usually found something to like on them. Menos El Oso has remained one of my favorite albums from that time. I remember driving around my college town looking for a storage unit with that album blaring from my dash mounted iPod. What a weird, specific, memory.
  • I plan to listen to the new How to Dress Well a little later today.
  • That “1999” single from Charli XCX and Troye Sivan deserves a chance at summer play.
  • I’ve heard from people I trust that the new Carly Rae Jepsen album is really, really, good. And that she’s throwing songs off the record that would be smash singles for other artists. Hmmm, it may be an Emotion kinda weekend.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I re-watched The Final Girls with my sister last weekend. She’d never seen it and it’s one of my go-to Halloween movies for people that don’t like “scary” movies. I love the self-aware horror-comedy genre. Solid film.
  • I watched Batman Ninja by myself thought the animation and idea behind the film were great. The story doesn’t ultimately hold up for me, but it’s an animated Batman movie with a short runtime. I was glad I saw it if just for some of the animation alone.
  • Hannah had never seen the original Halloween, so we watched that this week. It holds up specifically in how well it’s shot, with a great score, and an unnerving creepy vibe. Some of the characters sure are fucking stupid, but for being a movie that we’ve seen a billion renditions of and copycats and parodies, it still works.
  • We finished our Harry Potter re-watch. What a great collection of fun and enjoyable movies. Perfect for this time of year and excellent entertainment from start to finish. I think having re-watched them the last three movies are my favorites. I love the last one specifically. I feel like watching these during these months is going to end up being a tradition in our household. I don’t get sick of having them on.
  • We watched the remake of Dawn of the Dead last night because neither of us had ever seen it. Meh. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great. It didn’t fill either of us with dread while watching it either. I was hoping for better.
  • I’ve been catching up on iZombie — finally. (Hence the new forum avatar.) I figured October was a good time to do that and I’ve had a few spare nights to myself recently. I’m on season three and enjoying it as much as I ever have at the moment. I read somewhere that people didn’t love where the show went, but, I’m having no complaints.
  • We’re almost done with season 8 of Doctor Who. Starting to feel like we’re getting to know this Doctor more and as that happens we’ve been getting even more invested in the show again.
  • I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked the first episode of Titans. As a Batman fan, I’ve always loved the entire Bat-family and Robin was one of those characters I connected with growing up. The smart-ass sidekick. So, I’m naturally drawn to a show like this. I liked the first episode of this show. It’s violent and dark, but I was pretty much immediately in on Dick Grayson/Raven and I liked the fight scenes. I’ve got the second episode queued up for tonight, and I’m legit looking forward to it. First time in a while I’ve been actively wanting to see the next episode as soon as I can — which makes me immediately annoyed I can’t binge these. I’ve got no patience for TV in 2018, Netflix has ruined us.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This weekend we’re looking at a few wedding venues. Fun times. We picked up Hannah’s wedding ring this week as well after getting it all resized and such. It’s stunning and I’m immediately worried about it getting lost or stolen. It gets to sit in the safe for a year now.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, I’m officially down 30 lbs. That means I’ve hit my goal weight and have started to move all my calorie intake goals upward. I’m starting slow and going to evaluate my weigh-ins carefully to try and stay within a range of only a few pounds up or down from where I am right now. Not sure what that will end up looking like, but I’m excited to find out! I’m going to have to re-train myself with the new calorie goals and not to be focused on a number going down each week. Fluctuations are fine. I don’t want to see a trend up or down at this point. I think that’ll be what motivates me not just to ignore what I’m eating and fall back into bad habits, especially with the holiday season coming up. Thanks to everyone that said kind things and for reading my “journey” about this over the past few months. Writing about it helped keep me accountable. I’m still a little amazed it worked as well as it did.
  • Only other thing on my weekend agenda is to try and organize my media collection a little better. It’s getting a bit unruly and unorganized. I’ve got to clean some stuff out, do some file renaming, and some other super nerdy shit on the home file server.

Ten Songs

Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.

  1. The Sonder Bombs – Title
  2. Charli XCX & Troye Sivan – 1999
  3. Tiger Army – Dark Paradise
  4. +44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating
  5. Hotel Apache – Lost Hearts
  6. The 1975 – It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
  7. Butch Walker – Here Comes The
  8. The Vamps – Just My Type
  9. Cub Sport – Sometimes
  10. Vasudeva – Slowboy

The playlists are also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Well, I have some more work to try and finish up before I can call it a day/week, but I hope everyone has a great weekend. Thanks, as always, for visiting this website and for being a supporter. This week I’ll once again leave you with some Calvin and Hobbes:


Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.