wjt

Remembering how to write about something other than computer

Matthew pointed out that my calculations in the previous post neglect to consider that it's faster flying east than west. I had taken the estimated emissions of flying in economy from Heathrow to JFK, then doubled that number to get the round trip.

The calculator I used seems to give the same number whichever way I ask. I tried a bunch of other calculators, and was a bit surprised by the wide range of answers I got for the return trip:

I think the first two are including other effects beyond pure carbon emissions in a single figure; the Graun estimates them as two separate numbers; ICAO just reports emissions. But I could be wrong!

Anyway, even the most optimistic estimate is a little over 2 years' commuting; if I'm understanding the Guardian's answer right, they think it's more like a decade.

(I picked JFK just for the sake of argument, as somewhere I have flown to several times.)

I have worked from home for almost 6 years now, and I wondered today how the carbon footprint of my previous commute compares to a trans-Atlantic flight. (Maybe I would like to attend a conference or hackathon in the USA.) Here's a back-of-an-envelope calculation.

According to Google Maps, the distance from my home to my previous 2 offices by bike is about 8.4 miles, or 13.5km. Eyeballing the tube route I think it's about the same; let's round this up to 14km, or 28km daily round trip.

There are normally 227 working days in a year.

According to this 2020 Freedom of Information request to TFL, in 2018/19, the average normalised carbon emissions from London Underground were 44 gCO2e per passenger km.

44 gCO2e/km × 28 km × 227 days per year × 6 years = 1 677 984 gCO2e.

According to a flight emissions calculator I found in a quick web search, a one-way journey by aeroplane for a single passenger in Economy from London to New York emits 809 600 gCO2e, so a return journey is 1 619 200 gCO2e: almost exactly the same as six years of not commuting.

Chinese Satellite came up on a Spotify-generated Moody Mix playlist, sandwiched between Jonathan Coulton (Nobody Loves You Like Me) and Thom York (Dawn Chorus) . L said she liked it so I put the whole album on. When we reached Chinese Satellite again, she declared:

It sounds like Elsa. That's why I like this one, Daddy, it's the best.

(By “Elsa” she means Let It Go, currently on such heavy rotation in our home that “’lexa, elsa” are some of our toddler's first words…)

I can understand why this album is so popular—the songwriting and performances are great—but honestly it's mostly a bit too laid-back for my tastes. This track is one of the stand-outs: I like the energy and drive with each peak is a little more powerful than the last.

Writing this latest #dadrockmydaughterlikes instalment, I couldn't help but think of Adam Buxton's interview with Phoebe Bridgers (from about 48:00), where he tells her (from 01:05:15):

My daughter […] was excited when I told her I was talking to you […] but she said, “Why is she talking to you, Dad? You're 51!”

In a time before stale bands launched albums using data structures that destroy the planet, and before Thom Yorke was hoodwinked into selling an album via BitTorrent(‽), bands would launch albums as alternate reality games. Nine Inch Nails did this for Year Zero (2007); meanwhile, in Sweden, folk-pop singer-songwriter Jonna Lee launched a audiovisual art-pop project, iamamiwhoami, through a series of found-footage-style video clips with inscrutable names.

Good Worker, the third track on Kin, popped into my head over dinner; the baby enjoyed me dancing, so I put the real thing on. Mid-way through, L declared “I quite like this song”, started dancing along with me, and then periodically told me to FREEZE!

On the face of it, art-pop is really stretching the definition of “dad rock”, but I first learned about iamamiwhoami from jwz's blog so I'm pretty sure it counts.

#dadrockmydaughterlikes

L picked out a DVD that contains the stems for this EP, or possibly for the previous one, so I put it on on my phone. I've always been particularly happy with how Iota runs into Theta – on this EP, but particularly when we played them live, where the looped feedback build-up would make space for us to swap instruments. Like almost everybody I've asked, L enjoyed Theta the best out of those two tracks.

Hard to believe it's been 6½ years since we recorded these tunes. I regret that we never got nice packaging made! We enjoyed making friends with Effie the Whippet in between takes.

Effie the Studio Whippet

#dadrockmydaughterlikes

My favourite track on this album is the third, Hearth Shell, but we only got as far as the opening track, Gload. Ambient prog might not be the ideal genre for a three-year-old attention span! L described this track as “spooky”.

The CD packaging has really nice artwork, including stylised photographs of the four band members. So stylised that L didn't recognise one of them as “auntie Blue”, my cousin, with whom she spent a happy evening tootling on recorders and eating cheese 18 months ago. Either her mind was blown at the idea that CDs could contain the voices of people we know, or she didn't think it was remarkable in the slightest. It's hard to tell.

#dadrockmydaughterlikes

I first saw MONO at The Garage back in 2005. I vividly remember talking to an enthusiastic Frenchman who explained to me and Martin that Godspeed You! Black Emperor are the greatest musicians on this earth (stretches a horizontal palm as high as he can reach), but MONO are a close second (elevates his other palm to abut the first one).

(The other notable thing about that gig, for me, was the opening band. 65daysofstatic had just put out their first full-length album, The Fall of Math. I'd never seen a performance like theirs, with the combination of live band and intense, glitchy laptops. Incredible. But that's one for another post.)

I felt a sinking feeling when L picked this album. It's an hour-long post-rock instrumental, split across just six tracks. How could it possibly keep her attention?

At first glance, it didn't keep her attention: after a few minutes thumbing through the (beautiful) liner notes, L went over to the table and started doing some drawing. We listened to almost half of it before she remarked on it again. Apparently it's a great soundtrack for pre-school scribble-art!

#dadrockmydaughterlikes

There is an old YouTube video I'm particularly fond of which mashes up a Finnish video from the ’70s featuring Åke Blomqvist with Cfern, providing an interpretation of how to dance to Autechre. A bit of searching suggests that the dialog translates to something like:

The favourite dances among the youth today are disco, boogie and beat, which cause problems for us adults, especially because of this movement:

Anyway, when L put Chiastic Slide on, she demonstrated a different interpretation of dancing to Autechre: she put a roll of masking tape onto each leg, and waddled out of the room.

#dadrockmydaughterlikes

While we're talking about folktronica, here's a live performance of a track from múm's 2013 album Smilewound. múm got steadily less -tronica over time, and arguably less folk- too. I didn't really get into this album back then, but this track holds up well.

#thisismymarmalade

We'd been making some soup, and I asked L if she would like to listen to some music. She would! What would she like to hear a song about? “Soup!” Well, the only song I know which relates to soup comes from Good Arrows, by folktronica pioneers Tunng. When they perform this live, they announce this as being “inspired by Icelandic prog rock, plus a bit of Megadeth”.

L wasn't really sure what to make of it. She reported, “I don't like it very much, but I like it a little bit.” Then the first song from Tunng's 2018 album Songs You Make At Night (with the original line-up for the first time since Good Arrows!) and she asked, “Is this song about soup?” (No.) “No! I want the soup song again!” So I'm rounding this up to #dadrockmydaughterlikes.

(Does having “Soup!” as the only lyric strictly make this a song about soup? Is it even really a song?)

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.