Self-guidance: Rules and Results

Diary 4/30 to 5/1/22: Guernsey; Bernard Herrmann and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir; taste in music; setting rules and sudoku; three seconds of weight lifting; farmers markets and busrides; rules are my life.

“Kitten with a Whip”; a tease

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{4/30/22} Continued.

First ever views of my blog from someone in Guernsey, which I looked up:

Listened to Bernard Herrmann’s magnificent The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, as conducted by the composer for the soundtrack.  This has to be about the most romantic of all soundtracks.  I formerly owned the version conducted by Elmer Bernstein, but this is longer and much superior.  Herrmann’s conducting of his own scores is always better than anyone else’s, in my opinion.  His soundtrack for Psycho is absolutely the best, though the sound quality is execrable (a word I never otherwise use).  It’s possible that a better-handled recording is available.  One of the recordings of the “soundtrack score” is pretty good, though.  But nobody has done the shrieking violins in the stabbing scene like Herrmann.  Absolutely essential!

Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann

I’ve written about Herrmann before, and I suppose I will again, I just had to say something about this wonderful experience.  Admittedly it’s rather repetitive and kinda “one-note,” but I’m sold.  I don’t claim to have great taste in music—I don’t know how one might go about deciding this—but I know what I like.  Gotta get the CD…I was listening to it through Amazon Music because I have a subscription that I got free for buying something or other for Pablo (I no longer shop Amazon myself).  Unfortunately, I can’t post this on Amazon.  I’ll cancel the subscription before they take any money from my account.

Hey, look what I found on Amazon!—

My 2018 improper review of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

I am nothing if not consistent, it seems.  One of the other reviewers noted something I had noticed and neglected to mention:  the very last, climactic cut of the score is faded out prematurely.  Very annoying.

Speaking of “taste in music,” I got into classical because of the “thud and blunder” school of the late romantics (Liszt, Wagner, Respighi) when I was in junior high, moved on to opera by way of “The Ride of the Valkyries” (I found that the section with the singers was better than without), after some decades learned to love chamber music (a piano quartet by Brahms made me weep once) and these days generally prefer twentieth-century classical (Shostakovich, Bartók, Prokofiev, Bloch, Górecki, Hovhaness, others) and don’t have much time for opera.  Solo piano and Gregorian chant and lots of movie soundtracks (Joker, Interstellar, and Avengers:  Infinity War are favorites in addition to Herrmann and Tiomkin), also “world music” (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lebanese popular songs, Javanese gamelan music, Ravi Shankar), and even some pop/rock (notably Kate Bush and David Byrne, early Jewel, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland and the like), Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, and just a few in country-western (Patsy Cline, mostly).  Don’t like jazz, rap, hip-hop, if I even recognize the latter.  I grew up hating rock and roll because that’s all that was on AM radio when I was a kid, and Elvis Presley a bit later, and I have no use for Christmas carols or church music generally, but most of the Beatles sorta grew on me.  So, depending on your own preferences and/or prejudices, you can decide about my “musical taste.”


Between not writing fiction, not dictating my Prison Diary, and not doing anything towards getting my book published, I feel like I’m just marking time waiting for death.  There simply is “no excuse” for not doing the dictation—it’s just work, and a generally rewarding work, too.  How can I manage to get a few pages done every day?  When I’m spending up to an hour working sudoku?  So, a new rule:  no sudoku unless I’ve done some dictation that day.  And here’s a way to remind myself:  put the sudoku book underneath the PD pages.  Then, when I’m sitting there being the boob in front of the boob tube, I can’t just reach out my hand and pick up the sudoku book.  I may not get more dictation done, but at least I’ll be “punishing” myself for not doing it.

I don’t like to set rules for myself.  I have many, but I need one more:  portion control on Cheetos works, since instituting the rule I haven’t binged on Cheetos.  However, yesterday, and on several days in the past few weeks, I’ve had three portions of Cheetos, and possibly as many as four or five.  This is looking like just a more labor-intensive form of bingeing.  Here’s a rule that will kill two birds:  I can’t have a portion of Cheetos unless I lift weights first.  Each time.  Undoubtedly I will hate this rule.

The weight lifting is minimalist:  I have two eight-pound dumbbells that I hold at my side, lift above my head, and down.  Ten reps and I’m done.  It takes less than half a minute.  I do this because it’s better than nothing, and a recent article from Neuroscience News said that “three seconds of exercise has health benefits.”

Uh-oh.  In looking for the article so I could include the link, I find that it’s “three seconds at maximum effort.”  My three-second rule may be a big, fat, nothing, though I don’t really believe that.  They just haven’t tested for “three seconds at next-to-nothing effort.”

I have no convenient way to exert maximum effort, so, to hell with it.

I wouldn’t do it, anyway.

Bunched spinach, $2.99; cilantro, $1.99.  Are these good prices for organic produce?  Compared to a farmer’s market, undoubtedly not.  So I’ve researched farmer’s markets in Bakersfield, and there are very few.  The only one that’s at all convenient, which amounts to “not convenient at all,” occurs on Sunday mornings, two busrides away.  Let’s face it, everything is two busrides away from me.  Grr.  Can I do it?  Sure.  But will I, to save less than five dollars?  Hell, no.  I’d pay five dollars to avoid having to do two busrides, on top of which, two out and two back…it eats up a whole morning.

And my time is incredibly valuable, as is yours.  I’m lying about mine, of course, or I’d throw that sudoku book away right now, and I only bought it yesterday.

Lassens is two busrides away.  (My spell checker doesn’t like “busrides,” but it’s mutual:  I don’t like my spell checker.)  But I am right there, when I go to Panera Bread every Saturday.  And half the time I get a ride home from TC or Peanut (yesterday).

One might think it would be easy to set a rule of “no bingeing.”  Sure:  the setting is easy peasey; it’s the following that’s a killer.  I more or less binged yesterday on cookies.

Valuable reading

Rules rule my life, but this is a good thing.  It gets annoying sometimes, sure; but even more annoying is having dirty dishes (including my one frying pan) in the sink when I want to cook breakfast, and without having developed a habit of washing dishes, I’d face that every morning.  I developed the habit after reading Kelly McGonigal:  The Willpower Instinct and, as a result, setting the rule:  no book buying if I have dirty dishes in the sink.  These days, I don’t think about or enforce the rule because I rarely have significant dirty dishes overnight.  I know my mother had a similar rule, you can’t go to bed when the dishes are dirty.  My poor mama!

Okay, the sudoku book is under the PD dictation pages.  Next comes the hard part, enforcing the rule.  How often, when I want to reach for the sudoku book, will I decide that it’s just not worth it, and sit there fuming or perhaps picking up the crossword puzzle book instead?  In fact, I think I’ll change that rule:  the sudoku book has to be kept in the office, under the dictation pages, unless I’m actually working in it.  I won’t necessarily get any more dictation done, but I will get more exercise, getting up and down each time, and I will be reminded about dictation.

These rules often require fine tuning to become something I can live with.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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