Current Trip – Baltic cities.

On Wednesday I got a call from my agent about a last minute gig. I said I’d do it. The gig was confirmed at 5pm Thursday, and I was on the plane by 7:40pm. Today, Friday, I find myself in the delightful city of Tallinn, Estonia! Here’s the map of the trip (from

Baltic May 2009

Baltic May 2009

As you can see from the image, next I go to St Petersburg. I stay there for two days. I’m really looking forward to this because it will be my first time visiting Russia.

The last cruise ship I was on, the HAL Europa, is in St Petersburg on Sunday, the same as my current ship. I hope to meet up with some of the cast/musicians who I got to know on the Atlantic crossing. I said to them: “Hey, I might get a cruise in the Baltic in May, I might see you there!” Of course, never expected that to be the case. But the two ships will probably be next to each other at the cruise port, so I’ll probably be able to track them down.

Next up are Helsinki and Stockholm, two cities I’ve visited before, but only in wintertime (for various juggling conventions). Then there’s two days at sea, a stop in Dover, and a flight back from Heathrow to Berlin.

Plans for this trip:
– Finish reading and review two novels (Little Brother and The Final Circle of Paradise).
– Write some more my novel (codename: Human Danger).
– Write an article for Kaskade (the European juggling magazine).
– Redesign my professional juggling website (currently the images are broken and it looks rather drab).
– Do two kickass shows (shorter shows than recent attempts).
– Take some interesting photos and get some new footage for my year long juggling travel video.

A month of music: listening to my entire iTunes music library in order.

Back on the 8th of April I decided to listen to some music. I couldn’t decide exactly what. Normally I listen to albums at a time, or just choose random play. This time I clicked the “sort music by track title: descending” option in iTunes. I thought to myself:

“Why not listen to my entire iTunes music library, sorted by track name, and see how long it takes?”

So I did. I only have about 10gb of music on my laptop, which works out at 8 days and 14 hours of music. Some of those tracks are podcasts I downloaded directly without subscribing, so I estimate a rounded off 8 days worth of music.

Every time I worked at my computer and needed music, I resisted listening album by album, as I normally do, and selected the next song on the list. I finished the project in the early hours of this morning. As the last track finished (2007 by Tom Pritchard, iTunes sorts numbers after letters), nothing else played, and for some reason I felt like I’d achieved something. Nothing great, I understand, but there’s a sense of accomplishment even with the simplest tasks.

I did learn some things:
– Lots of tracks had incorrect names. I fixed most of these as I went through.
– I had duplicates of many tracks, under different names. I deleted a LOT of duplicates.
– I have a few albums I can’t stand. I’m not even sure why I ripped those CDs to my laptop. I deleted most of them.
– With some albums, there are individual tracks that really annoy me. I didn’t delete these, so as not to be left with incomplete albums, but I did un-tick them.
– I found loads of music that I forgot I had.
– I remembered why I love lots of bands.
– I realized that, while I don’t have a huge music library, my tastes are quite varied. This means I always have music for any mood.
– During the last month I added a few new albums. I think I might have missed some of these tracks. But I did listen to those albums in full a few times, so I think I can get away with it.
– Seven or eight albums have no track names, just “Track 01”, “Track 02”, etc. This is because I wasn’t internet connected when ripping the CD. It’s fun to listen to groups of album this way, all track ones, then all track twos, as sorted by artist name.

Also, away from the playlist:
– I’m not very good at writing fiction to music with lyrics.
– I knew this already, as I have the same problem with any non-internet/email writing.
– That’s why I usually listen to the same album over and over and over again when writing. The album is DJ SS presents: Jazz & Bass Session 2, and when I sort my iTunes library by play count it’s way out in front. As the name suggests, the album is drum and bass, which means the fast tempo keeps me awake and my fingers moving. The lack of vocals is key, as I just mentioned. The sounds aren’t overly electronic, mostly based around live recordings of piano, bass and saxophone. It is a double album, about 2hours 20 minutes, and that length normally fits perfectly with the word count I want to bash out on any given day.

A fun project! I think I’ll now do it again, but sort by track length. I’ll start with the longest tracks, and end up with the shortest. The first track will be “Tchaikovsky – Peter and the Wolf” and the second will be the undeniably awesome “The Most Unwanted Song“. The final track will be “Queen Mab Interlude” from the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack Album. Hopefully the building pace will make me faster and faster at… well, at whatever I’m doing while listening to the music.

I’ll post my observations in another month. and a new SFBRP episode.

I was going to post about this ages ago, but kept doing other things. Today I decided I wouldn’t do any other writing until I knocked out another 2000 words on my current novel… that’s why I’m posting this at 3am after much keyboard-tapping, food-eating, with-Pola-chatting, Banksy-book-reading and ping-pong-playing.

Last night I did a live video stream recording of my book review podcast. I announced the event on Twitter, and the author of the book, Tobias Buckell, obviously tracks his own name somehow. Not only did he plug the live event, but popped in to watch for a while. I’m not sure how long he stayed. Technology is great, innit?

Next bit of news: I made an account on You can find me here:

I’m going to be using this to keep track of which books listeners to the SFBRP have recommended. This post is just a test, but I’ll be using the feeds to display different lists of books. I think if you hover your mouse over the images, you get to see the titles, and if you click you get to see load more info.

I have these books at home right now:

These have been recommended, and I plan to read them sooner rather than later:

Listeners recommended these books, and I’m sure I’ll read them at some point:

Listeners recommended these books, but I’ve already read them, and don’t plan on re-reading them just to review:

Of course, these are just SOME of the recommended titles. I need to trawl through all my emails and add the rest of the books to the lists too.

SFBRP Live Show Tonight!

SFBRP Live Show tonight! Begins in about 3.5 hours. That makes it:
11pm my time (Central European Summer time)
10pm British Summer Time
5pm Eastern Daylight Time
2pm Pacific Daylight Time

The book I’ll be reviewing is Crystal Rain by Tobias S Buckell. Just go to, hang out and enjoy the ride. For some reason I feel a rant coming on… but I won’t give it away early.