Less is... Less

13 Mar 2019

Live With Less

I would say recently, but I’ve been thinking about this entry pretty much since writing my first post of 2019. I’ve had some chats and conversations with my brother about more minimalistic living. I’ve also started digging into A New Earth by Eckart Tolle. With those influences, I’ve started to take some steps toward a more minimal life myself. In the short time I’ve been working on this, I’ve already learned a few things.

For one – it’s hard! When you have small child in the house, there always seems to be an excess of stuff around. There’s almost no getting around that, but more on that later. However, that has nothing to do with my own accumulation of things. I’ve always thought that I’m pretty good at minimalism, but after a quick examination, it becomes clear that there’s always room for improvement.

Next, being able to let go of stuff is quite freeing and feels good.

Finally, it’s OK if it doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no need to go cold turkey and get rid of all your stuff in one shot. As long as you commit to the concept and take little steps here and there, the process tends to snowball. After a while, you actually start looking around the house for things to sell, donate, or just plain toss out.

The Octatrack & The Science Lab

Starting in January, my downsizing decision started with some of the music-making gear that I had that wasn’t getting much use. As I mentioned above, the positive feelings from simplifying and decluttering got me going and I ended up selling about 7 items that weren’t doing much except gathering dust. The flipside to that was that I now had a nice windfall from the sales. Along came a spider in the form of a deal in the for sale section of my favorite synth forum that was too good to pass up. I picked up an Elektron Octatrack mkII in fantastic shape that also came with the protective lid and carrying case. Despite my preamble about minimalism and downsizing, I was OK with adding one piece of gear since I had just cleared out 7 pieces. It was still fewer things after all.

The Octatrack is notorious for being a really deep machine. At it’s core, it’s a sampler, or – as Elektron puts it – a dynamic performance sampler. With all of the flexible routing and processing abilities, there comes a decent amount of complexity. That complexity can lead to a bit of a learning curve which can be daunting. However, the timing of my Octatrack acquisition couldn’t have been better. On the synth forum, a long time Octatrack user decided to start up a “Science Lab” with a dozen different challenges to encourage others to dive deep into the capabilities of the machine. The overall idea is to come away with a better understanding of just about every feature of the Octatrack, so it’s not just great for beginners like me, but even seasoned vets can find aspects of the machine that they weren’t previously aware of or versed in. As of this writing, I’ve completed one of the twelve challenges where the aim was to create a song using a single sample of a cowbell. I turned it into a little dark techno jam that I think was pretty cool. Check it out below.

Data Science Minute

One last thing I want to mention is the latest in my quest to working in Data Science. I haven’t had much time to keep practicing my skills in data science, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still on my mind. I’m looking for ways to develop data science projects in my current role at work, and I think I’m gaining traction in that regard. While I’ve been cooking that, I came across this blog post by Vicki Boykis after it was retweeted into my timeline. It was really encouraging and enlightening. The blog is fairly detailed, but the gist is that it’s hard to land a job in data science, and one may have to take the long, winding road to get there, but there are opportunities out there, so don’t give up. One of the recommendations is to find a stepping stone job role as a data analyst and use that to springboard into a full-fledged data science role. As a mid-career Engineer, that type of path was already something I had in mind, so it was extremely satisfying to hear that being echoed by someone who has been there & done that. There’s a new group launching within my department that is all about Business Intelligence and Analytics. I’ve already let my boss know that I’m really interested in applying the skills I have in some sort of cross-functional capacity. Who knows - maybe it could turn into that first stepping stone role that I’ve been seeking?


Unless I pick up the pace soon, I’m already in danger of not making my goal of besting last year’s blog post total. I have had the idea for this blog post kicking around in my head for over a month. It just took a bit to get it all down and organized. For the next post, I should just let it flow and keep it short. That might inspire me to post more frequently. We shall see!