Diary

Morning in Tucson

Last night we performed at the Rialto in Tucson. My tour calendar shows that we performed here seventeen years ago, in 2005. I am not sure whether that was the first time we played this venue, but it’s the first time recorded on this website – hold on, I found a 2005 post that references a concert at the Rialto in 2001. Here is a link to a 2007 post, with a Matt Callahan photo… as you can read there, Tucson seems to always bring out the best in us.

I do remember what a funky (derelict is too strong a word) area the theater was in, twenty one years ago. Walking around this morning I thought that the city has really done a very nice job bringing life back into this port of downtown. I can’t speak for the rest of the city because I really only know a walking distance around the Rialto.

Oh, and the performance was so much fun. Once again Tucson brought out the best in us.

Speed

Speed thrills and speed kills. Feeling connected to the world, and finding out about every new event that happens anywhere right away, is certainly thrilling. It also feels overwhelming, it’s too much, too much at once as well as too rapid. It’s the speed AND the volume. I imagine a street. It’s a two lane road lined with trees and houses. If one person drives very fast, and no other car is on the road, perhaps they can negotiate all of the turns, remain in control of the vehicle, and arrive safely. But when the road is chockfull of cars, each going as fast as it possibly can, crashes WILL happen with absolute certainty.

To me it feels like that is what’s happening with our lives. Speed by definition remains shallow, because depth requires time. Driving through a landscape at 75 miles an hour is a very different experience from walking through the same landscape. We are essentially rushing through our lives.

In one of his books Neal Stephenson describes agencies that filter information for their clients. A client profile is created and, with the use of AI and human selection, the information that is delivered to the client is filtered down from an avalanche to a manageable trickle.

Scientist have looked at how quickly topics change, I read in “Stolen Focus”, by Johann Hari. At first they looked at trends on Twitter and discovered that while topics stayed in the top fifty most discussed subjects for 17.5 hours in 2013, they only lasted for 11.9 hours in 2016. Well, that’s Twitter, perhaps it was an outlier. After studying Google Books, which has scanned millions of books, and analyzing the content, they discovered that the same curve that was found on Twitter, has in fact existed for more than 130 years. For all of that time, between the 1880s and today, topics have come and gone faster.

That’s the speed part, but what about the volume? Johann Hari uses the example of reading a 85-page newspaper. In 1986 all of the information coming from TV, radio, and reading, amounted to 40 newspapers a day. By 2007 that number had increased to 174 newspapers per day. I shudder to think what that number is in 2022.

Somewhere, perhaps also in Johann Hari’s book, I learned that our speech has been accelerating, too. We apparently talk much faster than our grandparents. That makes sense to me: if the data input flows heavier and faster, so will the output.

No wonder we feel like we are being hurled through life. Speed is addictive, too, like a sugar rush, so part of our brain wants to keep going. Let’s face it, our brain doesn’t often KNOW what’s good for us. For that answer we will have to turn to our heart and gut brain – let’s call those the body-brain as opposed to the head-brain.

That reminds me, time to meditate. There will be more on this subject, I am sure. Take it easy, take it slow… :-)

It’s Tuesday

I finished reading “Americanah” by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Since I liked the book very much, I continued by reading her collection of short stories “The Thing Around Your Neck”, also very good.
Next was “Stolen Focus”, by Johann Hari, which I listened to before but couldn’t finish before the book became due. I highlighted so many passages! I think it is an important book for our time.
I was reading “Stolen Focus” when I came across the name Jason Hickel, who is an economic anthropologist. Hickel wrote a book called “Less Is More”, which I want to read next.
During my walk this morning, I listened to a couple of different versions of the “Concierto de Aranjuez” for an upcoming DMT post. Next came a podcast interview with Jason Hickel that I found. The podcast is by a German but is in English. Hickel also has a blog.
I have written before (for example in 2021 and in 2008) that I don’t believe in permanent economic growth. The idea is impossible in the first place, because a planet has finite resources, and now is the best time to slow that rat wheel and make the craziness stop.
Look at this loveliness! A recently aquired air plant decided to bloom today. I took this photo and then left for the airport to fly to Phoenix.
IMG 6133

Had to come from somewhere…

… might as well be space…

All RNA and DNA Base Types Are Found in Meteorites, Study Claims | The Scientist Magazine®:

All five nucleobases that make up DNA and RNA have now been detected in meteorite samples, according to a study published yesterday (April 26) in Nature Communications. The work used recently developed techniques to identify not only adenine and guanine—which had previously been identified in samples from some of the same meteorites—but also cytosine, uracil, and thymine, supporting the idea that the precursors of life could have come from space.

The meteorites could have been contaminated after reaching Earth, but this is a interesting possability. Of course this could give rise to a narrative where some advanced species bombarded everything with rocks that contained the building blocks to see where and how life might spring up. But, said species didn’t survive the billions of years that followed and never witness this teenager of a humanoid species that acts like they are the only thing that matters. :-)

Rainy Days

Sometimes I want to take photos but I don’t want to walk around in the rain. Perhaps I have already read for a while and I really want to move and walk, but I don’t feel like getting wet. So I start looking around me for something, anything I could photograph. It’s a fun exercise, looking at familiar objects and trying to see them anew. Here are a couple of photos I took in Lisbon on a rainy day:

Bread

How I enjoy the process of making bread! Ten years of making bread and I am still learning to trust what my hands tell me about the dough. Temperature and humidity change from week to week and therefore timers don’t work… the changes in the dough have to be felt. And yet it feels endless, like a video game with infinite levels. There is so much to learn, to refine.

Voting

Friday 29 April 2022 – The Monocle Minute | Monocle:

The case for compulsory voting:
Almost 30 per cent of the French electorate declined to vote last weekend, while a projected 90 per cent of voters will turn out for Australia’s federal elections later this year. The difference is compulsory voting.

In Australia your failure to vote results in a $55 fine. Failure to pay that fine within 28 days results in the fine going up to $120. I think compulsory voting may work but wonder whether Americans would prefer a different method. What if voters received a payment for voting, or a tax deduction?

Public Works

I was thinking about large scale public works and whether they would get off the ground in today’s political and cultural climate. The public library system, NASA, or public health initiatives like iodine in salt and fluoride in the water, or even mandatory smallpox or cholera vaccinations. Why? What has changed? If social media had been around in the Seventies, would there be a public platform now? Would social media be like public roads or a postal system?

Dolby Atmos

Have any of you used it? Did you use the speaker array or headphones for either mixing or listening? The speaker array for Dolby Atmos mixing sounds insane. This is the setup at a studio called Blackbird – don’t know the studio, found it on the web. It is called a 9.1.6 setup = three speakers in front + three on either side x subwoofer x six speakers overhead. Beside a cost of $30k+ I imagine there would be serious upkeep as well as those speakers would have to be calibrated regularly.
I don’t like having to sit still in one spot in order to properly hear something. I am much more interested in doing something with, and for, headphones. Apparently that is something that became possible last year. I have listened to some Atmos mixes and was left a little underwhelmed. Would like to hear about your reaction to it.

Gave another listen to some Atmos mixes, using wired headphones plugged into my lappie, and some are really pretty impressive…


Steve left this link in the comments. Insight from an audio engineering perspective. Yikes. I imagine a lot will happen in the next few years. At this point most people probably prefer listening with headphones… plus the streaming companies will want to differentiate themselves and offer higher quality content.

This morning I listened to a few Dolby Atmos examples that I downloaded to my phone. I used the AirPods Max to see whether Bluetooth would be able to deliver the sound from the larger files… and it clearly could not. I heard more drop-outs during that walk today than I had heard during the entire time I’ve had the headphones. The bottleneck is clearly Bluetooth itself.

DMT23

Jerry Gonzalez was an American trumpet player and conguero from Manhattan – link to Wikipedia page. He played an important role in the development of Latin jazz, but in the year 2000 he decided to move to Madrid, Spain. The first two tracks of this playlist were recorded by his group, Los Piratas del Flamenco, in 2004. The band included guitarist Nino Josele, with Piraña on cajón, and Diego El “Cigala” singing. You can also find this album on Bandcamp. In Spain, Gonzalez also played on countless other songs, including the third track, by Buika, the fourth, Casa Bernardo by Paco De Lucia, and many others. I think the first four tracks of this playlist were all produced by Javier Limón, connecting Gonzalez to DMT22.

Website Redesign

A new website is taking shape this week. Canton Becker who created the first website in 1996 is doing the redesign and for the first time we don’t meet at his place or sit in my kitchen. We are meeting via Zoom. Does anybody else feel that Zoom makes us look old(er)? After one of our calls, during which I felt I was looking at my dad on the screen, I went to a mirror to check up on myself. The mirror seemed kinder to my face.

Oh, and the website is coming along great.

The Rhythms of Rain

Check out these amazing recordings of rain-drumming, beautifully explained in this video. I fell in love with the rain drumming recordings immediately and asked Tim, the recordist and producer, about the rules for working with them in the creation of new music. He replied that the short answer was yes, sent me the EULA, and wrote “My only (non-compulsory) request: I’d love to hear what you make!”.

Guitar + Rain. I’ll pursue it and see where that leads.

DMT22

Javier Limón is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer from Madrid. (his website, wikipedia)
I made a short playlist of five songs from his productions. The first track is a piece sung by Mariza, the most famous current fado singer. Limón also produced her album “Mondo”, which you can find here.
The second and third tracks on this playlist are sung by Buika. The third one, “No Habrá Nadie en el Mundo” feels like a particular beautiful example of the meeting of Pop, Flamenco, and Jazz. At one point I was exploring the idea of adding singing to my album “Waiting n Swan” and thought Buika might have the right voice for that. Now I listen to “Waiting n Swan” and can’t imagine having singers on it.
The last track on the playlist is from Limón’s album “Son de Limón” and features a trumpet player from the Bronx by the name of Jerry Gonzalez. More about him tomorrow.

Biomorphic Architecture

Video of biomorphic architecture in the Mexican jungle. Architect’s website.

That’s why it is an aberration to build with orthogonal shapes. To live in orthogonal shapes, to move in orthogonal shapes, because inside we end up becoming square-minded.

Beautiful News

If the media, social or otherwise, has you down, you might check out this website. It’s called Information is Beautiful.

A collection of good news, positive trends, uplifting statistics and facts — all beautifully visualized by Information is Beautiful. To move our attention beyond dramatic news headlines to the slow developments and quiet trends that go unseen, uncelebrated.


Dave Kirschner suggested another source for positive news:
Reasons To Be Cheerful
and the first thought I had was this song!!

DMT21

I came across a guitar version of Bill Evans’ “Peace Piece” (DMT05) arranged and performed by Niño Josele.
Peace Piece, from the 2006 album Paz

Archives

Images