Diary

Good Morning Lisboa

I arrived in Lisbon yesterday morning after a long, long day of traveling that started in Durango at 0600. Well, all of me arrived, except my guitar. (((I like William Gibson’s idea of the “Soul Delay” of long distance travel, whereby the soul can’t keep up and will invariably arrive later.))) Guitar had to travel as baggage, because the overheads for international flights are too small and I can’t afford a business-class ticket (((Business Class: no worries, your guitar can go into this closet. Economy: your guitar travels with the other suitcases or you won’t fly.))). I am not too worried because it’s a new case that was recommended by my luthier Keith Vizcarra, who also set the case up perfectly for the instrument. Plus this guitar will stay here and won’t have to travel for a long while. (((Tip: Don’t just buy a case and jam the guitar into it. Either take the time to set up the case yourself or ask a luthier to do it. It can make a huge difference. You don’t want the guitar to move even a fraction of an inch!!))) So I spent a long time at lost baggage in Lisbon which, after 22 hours of travel, isn’t fun. As the man, who created the claim, said: “Most likely you will get a call from us tomorrow and we will deliver the guitar case to your apartment. Most likely.”

Called an Uber to the airport. The driver called my mobile and asked me where I was, because it can be difficult to find the Uber pick up spot at this airport. I replied where Uber pick ups always happen, indicating that this wasn’t my first rodeo. A few minutes later he arrived and another twenty minutes later I was in my flat, or most of me was. Too wired to sleep and too tired to do much. Eventually I walked to a favorite cafe and had lunch. That helped. Went to the store and got a few basics, something to make for dinner, milk for morning coffee. Bought another type of oatmilk, hoping to eventually find something that can replace milk for me. The two milk products I haven’t been able to replace are yoghurt and milk for coffee. I love yoghurt.

I wanted to go to sleep at 1900 yesterday but made myself stay up until around 2200. This morning I feel much improved. While I am still waiting for my guitar, my “soul” must have caught up overnight. I got up and made coffee and enjoyed the light show of the morning sun in my apartment.


Good news: I just received a phone call from the airport. My guitar was found and will be delivered later today…

DMT30

Jon turned me on to this album years ago. I listened to it for the umpteenth time on the plane last night. Cinelu played most of the instruments. Drums are life.

Little Things

There is a Mastodon instance (server), called Dolphin Town where members may only use the letter “e”. Things like that make me smile large.

Of course there has to be another instance where one can write anything as long as one does not use the letter “e”. Vice wrote an article about it. I get it, I get it, restraint can be a major inspiration in any artistic field.

Found on Mastodon: music is just really loud math

I also read a post about Key Changes in the Billboard Hot 100 Number One Hits, called The Death of the Key Change. Here is the entire post and here is the graph that shows that key changes have been flat lining since 2010.

Altitude

I am in Durango for a day. Arrived yesterday afternoon. This morning it was 18° when I went in search of coffee. I found a very good cortado very close to where I am staying.

I started having a headache as the morning went on and went out to look for a drug store to get some aspirin. Durango is at 6,500’ so that checks out. After spending 36 years at altitude I finally discover what it feels like. Ugh! Aspirin thins the blood and allows the blood to reach the capillaries of the brain, which reduces the altitude headache, or so I was told years ago.

Discovered that the closest drugstore is 40 miles from here but there is a Albertsons nearby. I stopped to have a couple of tacos first.

After Math

Something I learned today:

Math means mowing, or the cut grass produced by mowing. The stubble that remains is the aftermath.

From the book “Regenesis” by George Monbiot

Headphones

Ian asked:

your new portable recording system sounds amazing. What are your preferred headphones for mixing and/or tracking

Thank you, Ian. I am very happy with the sound as a starting point. I also love how the guitar sounds with the rain.

I took a look at what I wrote about headphones in the past. There is this post from 2005. Unfortunately the links don’t work anymore because Stax no longer produces those headphones, uh, Ear Speakers. I just searched for the Stax headphones and tube amp I use – SR-404 + SRM-006t – and found a set on Ebay for $880. Great price.

Those Stax are my most used pair of headphones in the studio, ever. I bought my first pair in 1990 and bought this combo about 20 years ago. I can say with confidence that I spent more time listening with those headphones than any other headphones or loudspeakers. I mixed every album with those. At first I mixed on speakers and occasionally checked the mix on the Stax but slowly that reversed over time until I worked mainly with the Stax and checked and confirmed with the loudspeakers.

Headphones for tracking: what I wrote in 2005 about tracking headphones was valid until last year…

I have an indestructible pair of Sony MDR-V600. They are a little bass-heavy, but are used by many musicians and road engineers. They last forever. About $75.

They lasted a long time and I still have them.

What I have been using since this Summer, for both tracking and mixing, is a pair of Audeze Euclid IEMs. They are tiny, and travel well, but have an amazing sound.
OL 221008 13 09 05
I was also wearing the Euclid IEMs in this photo from Rockport, Massachusetts, last month.

When I work on music I can wear the Euclid for a couple of hours and forget they are there. These monitors use the MMCX = Micro Miniature CoaXial connector, developed by Amphenol, which makes it possible to easily switch out cables. I have a custom-made long cable with a 90º stereo mini plug, for listening to my laptop, the MixPre, or my stage monitor mix, and also use the Audeze Cipher BlueTooth cable for listening to my phone on the go.

Ideally I would love something like this IEM of my dreams:

  • MMCX plug for the option of using a cable for higher quality sound
  • built-in BlueTooth
  • built-in Noise-Cancellation
  • built-in mic array for making phone calls
  • In other words the one ring that rules them all… :-)
    It’s not likely to ever happen because it is not something that a lot of people would need or want.

    Back to headphones. Check out Stax, if you can find a dealer, and check out headphones by Audeze. All of their headphones are really nice. A few times a year Audeze sells so-called B-stock at great prices. Stephen Duros uses a pair of Sennheiser that he swears by and, while I have never listened to any Sennheiser cans, I have heard a lot of good things about them.

    Stonehenge-style

    A Stonehenge-style monument has arrived in Milan – and it’s made from plastic:

    London design studio VATRAA stacked thousands of water bottles to create its Plastic Monument installation, which is designed to highlight the world’s pollution problem.

    The artwork echoes the trilithons of England’s 5,000-year-old Stonehenge, which are made from pairs of upright stones supporting a lintel. It’s designed as a reinterpretation of the prehistoric stone circle, albeit made from a far more problematic material.

    Rain Music

    This was intended to be a proof of concept only. After I finished setting up my laptop for recording, I set up the microphone I use on stage, connected it via the MixPre6-II, and recorded my guitar playing the bossa nova pattern you hear on that song. Since I live on a fairly noisy street I figured the noise would be too audible for a real recording. But the microphone did what it does so well on stage… concentrate on the guitar in front of it and reject all other sound. Even when I listen to the guitar without the rain, I don’t hear nose. Then I improvised a melody over the bossa rhythm. The music has a quality I love. It’s a sketch and love sketches. I never make demos, because in my experience the first go at an idea has something special that simply cannot be duplicated when one tries to replace the demo with a better recording.

    Food

    Here are some of my favorite food staples. Some of them I buy but most of them I make regularly.

  • Hummus – I make a batch almost every week. I start with dried chickpeas that I cook in a pressure cooker. At first I experimented with additional ingredients and flavors but then realized Hummus is a little like Bread in that it needs a bit of neutrality. I do, however, sometimes sprinkle a little Gomashio on hummus.
  • Gomashio – I dry-roast a mix of light and dark sesame seeds in a deep pan and then use mortar and pestle to grind it up with sea salt flakes. It’s prefect for so many dishes… I am even contemplating making an ice-cream flavor based on Gomashio.
  • Pesto – how I love pesto! I make this all the time, also, but I don’t stick to a strict recipe. We have three kinds of basil growing in the yard: Genovese basil, Thai basil, and Cinnamon basil. I’ll cut off any basil that is ready and if it’s not enough I’ll add some fresh spinach or arugula. I can’t find a good source for pine nuts here but discovered that roasted pistachio nuts work really well.
  • Garlic-Parmesan cream – not sure what the Italian name for this is. Like pesto, this paste is another perfect Italian idea. At a restaurant it was served with bread, as an appetizer, and I loved it and asked the waiter about it. He laughed and said it’s just parmesan, garlic and olive oil. I make this about once a month. It keeps for a long time in the fridge.
  • Kimchi – how I love this, too! I don’t make Kimchi but I make lots of things with it. Yesterday I made a Mac ‘n’ Cheese dish for dinner. Only, it was Penne instead of Macaroni and it had a cup of Kimchi in it.
  • Sourdough Bread – yep, pretty damn perfect. I still bake every Sunday and have been making sourdough bread for at least ten years. That’s thousands of loaves. I am starting to feel the dough.
  • Granola – I was first introduced to granola in Vermont in the year 1979. Damn, what a great idea. I don’t like any granola that is sold in stores! It’s all too sweet for me. Like Bread and Hummus I like my granola a bit more neutral in flavor. I make at least one batch every week.
  • I realize I could go on and on about food. Better stop here for now. To be continued…

    Star Hail Full

    The German word “Stern” means “star”.

    The German word “Hagel” means “hail”.

    The German word “voll” means “full”.

    The German word “sternhagelvoll” does NOT mean “starhailfull”.

    It means “completely drunk”.

    From Mastodon user Jens Clasen

    I also never realized how crucially important context is in German. Take these sentences for example — they sound the same but have different meanings.

    Er ist wild = He is wild
    Er isst Wild = He eats venison

    Gelehrte konnten = scholars were able to
    geleerte Konten = cleared accounts

    Hasst du die Urzeit? = Do you hate primeval times?
    Hast du die Uhrzeit? = Have you got the time?

    schlechter Rasen = bad lawn
    Schlächter rasen = butchers speed

    Die Küste fiel = The shoreline fell
    Die küsste viel = She kissed a lot

    Er ist wieder willig = He’s willing again
    Er ist widerwillig = He’s reluctant

    Amsterdam

    We think of Amsterdam as the city that is famously bicycle friendly, but Amsterdam had to decide at some point to become this place… Here are two photos of the same street, less than thirty years apart, 1978 and 2005

    Mirror Surface

  • Growth
  • What distinguishes good growth from bad growth?

    Good growth stops and turns into a maturing process. This is what all natural things do. We grow until we become adults, as do all animals. Trees grow until they reach a certain height. Then they concentrate on improving their root system and thereby their communication with other forest beings. Cells grow until they reach a limit. When they keep growing we call them cancerous.

    By that metric isn’t our economic system and the very idea of permanent economic growth cancerous?

    Little Lettuce

    Alfacinha – Wikipedia:

    Alfacinha is a term to denote a person from Lisbon, the etymology of which is unclear. The first known reference arises in the mid-19th century, in the book Travels in My Land by Almeida Garrett (1846), “For you shall be Alfacinhas forever, supposing that all the squares of this world are like the Palace Square …”

    According to one explanation, the term comes from the fact that in the region of Lisbon, lettuce (alface) is an abundant plant, and given the Arabic origin of the word, has been cultivated on a large scale during the Muslim period.

    As Caipira is a Portuguese word that means bumpkin and caipirinha – also a lovely alcoholic beverage – means little bumpkin, alface means lettuce and alfacinha is a little lettuce. Tell me, have you heard of a cuter name for an inhabitant of any city than “Little Lettuce”?

    Bird Site

    People are having fun with the new Bird Site “verification” process. Verification for everyone, he said. The result is pretty hilarious.

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