Diary

Meditation + Gut

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have trekked to several remote Tibetan Buddhist temples to study the gut microbiomes of meditating monks. The findings suggest the long-term practice of deep meditation could positively impact gut bacteria composition.
Buddhist monk microbiome study reveals impact of meditation on gut bacteria

This cannot possibly be surprising. Would you prefer to live in the gut of a stressed person running from appointment to appointment or one who spends time in meditation and is centered?

21st Century Stuff

Scientists have steered lightning bolts with lasers for the first time in the field, according to a demonstration performed during heavy storms at the top of a Swiss mountain.
The Guardian

Postcards



Do you like postcards?
I have been using a service called MyPostcard to send cards to friends. Easy and quick to create and they arrive in a timely manner. On one hand it’s more paper, on the other hand the postperson gets to deliver a smile rather than exasperation from too much junk mail.

We Are a Verb

There is no witness, only witnessing.
When the body falls away, all that is left is witnessing.
Consciousness is a verb.
Bodies – people, animals, trees, rivers or mountains are obscured witnessing.
Like a balloon containing air. Like fog hanging over a landscape. Like a webpage fronting the code.
The bodies are all made from the same building blocks, sharing most of their DNA.
Consciousness has no flavor, no color, so shape, no movement, but it feels like a flow, like a quiet lake or an ever so slight breeze.
I am just imagining that, between moments of witnessing.
Putting words to the experience seems futile and yet also like a most deserving effort.
Oh well, I tried. And I’ll try again.

Legal Fictions

I listened to this podcast during my walks yesterday and today. Brilliant, brilliant woman. Pistor is able to explain the economic system in such a way that even I can understand some of it. The trick will be to keep what works and find ways to change what does not, and is pushing us to the brink.

Pistor’s theory has sweeping implications for some of the most fundamental economic questions of our time: How is wealth actually created? Why does our current economic system produce such huge inequalities? What causes financial crises? In Pistor’s telling, you can’t begin to answer such questions without understanding the legal foundation that our economy is built on.
The Ezra Klein Show: A Guide to the ‘Legal Fictions’ That Create Wealth, Inequality and Economic Crises on Apple Podcasts

Social Media Alternative

Our Pledge for a Healthy Internet describes our hopes for the Internet, and what it can become: a powerful tool for promoting civil discourse and human dignity. One that elevates critical thinking and reasoned argument, that honors shared experience and individual expression and brings together diverse and global communities to work together for the common good. Today we see the rising tide of the Fediverse, through Mastodon, Matrix, Pixelfed, and many others as a promising next step in that direction. Together we have an opportunity to apply the lessons of the past to build a social experience for humanity that is healthy, sustainable, and sheltered from the centralized control of any one entity.
Mozilla to explore healthy social media alternative

Mozilla is working on a Mastodon Instance, mozilla.social.

Now is the time, as we’re living through the consequences of 20 years of centralized, corporate-controlled social media, with a small oligopoly of large tech firms tightening their grip on the public square. In private hands our choice is limited, toxicity is rewarded, rage is called engagement, public trust is corroded, and basic human decency is often an afterthought. Getting from the internet we have to the internet we want will be a heavy lift, requiring significant investment in scalable, human-centred solutions for user and community safety, product experience, and sustainability. These are all big challenges, and there’s a lot we need to learn on the road ahead.

It all sounds good…

Re-Visit

I respond to my post from 2011:

CDs were always the smallest expense of a production. The recording itself costs the most, perhaps followed by the advertising campaign – if there is one. If one needs a real studio, for musicians and engineers, the cost can hit several hundred thousand quickly. The difference in cost between pressing CDs or selling downloads is minute.

That is still true. Twenty years ago I began to engineer my own recordings in my own studio. That’s not an option for most musicians though. After selling my studio I started recording at home. Excellent recording equipment is smaller and yet of very high quality. I am grateful, though, to have started in the days of analog recording. There was something really amazing about the experience that Jon called a submarine ride – because you get on board and then you dive to the bottom of the ocean and you stay there until the album is finished and the ship can return to the surface. No copy and paste, no moving a note to the correct place. When you played rhythm you had to play the song, not just a few bars. And I always feared working for too long on a piece and having the metal-oxide come off the tape!

I find it infuriating when people have no fundamental understanding wherein the value of an LP, a CD or a download album lies. Like all of my favorite art the value of a musical album lies in the ideas contained in it, not in the value of the piece of plastic or vinyl or digital bits. The album in a store is simply a container for the ideas of the musicians and producers. This is similar to a painting, where the canvas and paint itself would not add up to much…

I like that expression: the album in a store is simply a container for the ideas of the musicians and producers. It’s not just the musical ideas or the ability honed from years and years of practice… it’s also the experience of the engineer who knows where to place the microphon, and which microphone to use. Now the stores have, mostly, gone away, too. If we thought the value of music was not understood when it was delivered on a piece of plastic, now music streams and there is nothing to remind us of its value. The term streaming is really an awful one. It suggests an endless river of music. Just dip into the endless stream of music.

And to say that since musicians enjoy what they do therefore they should be willing to do it for free is such rubbish (((but often read on the interwebs!))). I mean, I know car mechanics who seem to truly love their work, but nobody would consider for a second that they would work for free.

I think most folks have come around on this point. Nobody expects musicians to work for free, we just haven’t figured out what a fair way to pay for music is. What most people do not know is that there are just three individuals – three judges – who determine songwriter streaming royalty rates for each five year period.. Here we are in peak capitalism and three judges decide the rate at which ALL music sells… Isn’t that a little bit like selling paintings by the square inch?

In the past few years, every time I am about to start work on a new album, I think why go through all that trouble, why battle inspiration, why work so cussing hard on a new album when it will be traded worldwide for free, within weeks.

And yet you did, didn’t you! Ten more albums in the last ten years. Here is to the next ten albums – although none of those will be distributed through traditional channels. :-)

I should revisit this post at the end of this decade, for another update.

Drum

“A person’s identity,” Amin Maalouf wrote, “is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.”
The Symphony of Belonging – The Marginalian

Staircase


Staircase at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil, 1953
Affonso Eduardo Reidy
Formlab

Tree People

Yesterday’s post about viewing people as trees, which helps to accept them as they are, got me thinking. What we think of as our personality or character is actually the consequence of many, and often unknowable, forces.

Research involving the gut biome of mice showed that when the gut biome of timid mice was replaced by the gut biome from bold mice, the timid mice became bolder, and vice versa. In addition to the old saying you are what you eat, this means you are who you hang around with, and which bacteria you allow to join you. It may change your appearance (yes, gut biome from skinny mice can transform fat mice) and, more importantly, it can change your personality.

Here are a couple of human examples. In the fall of 1994 my mother started getting angry at my dad. She would talk to him and he would not understand, which would make her furious. She believed him to be deliberately obtuse. Eventually it was discovered that she had a tumor, located in the language center of her brain, and she was, in fact, speaking gibberish. The second example comes from a friend, a man I knew as a gentle and soft spoken person. When I met him, last summer, I hadn’t seen him in many years and asked him how he had been. He was fine he replied, but had gone through quite an episode. Friends had been concerned because he was acting very mean, which seemed completely out of character. He had a health checkup and it was discovered that he had a tumor. The tumor was removed and he was back to his gentle self.

What we perceive as an “I”, a personality, a character, an individual, a self, is actually the sum of a huge amount of separate data points. Some of those lines we can control, others we are helpless about. Like a tree bending to catch light or bending from the wind.

Wheel + Fire

Spent an afternoon in a ceramic studio and took photos. Pottery wheels and fire…

Turn People Into Trees

Part of it is observing oneself more impersonally… When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.
How to Be Less Harsh with Yourself (and Others): Ram Dass on the Spiritual Lessons of Trees – The Marginalian

Hotel Window

OL 230105 15 05 04
This is the only photo I took during the Texas tour, a shot out of the window of my hotel in the early morning.

Getting Out of the Way

There are, for those with the requisite sense, currents, energy flows, and dialogues to be discerned in the Japanese garden. Shunmyo Masuno contends that when arranging rocks, for example, one must “converse” with the stone, waiting “until it seems to speak and say where it wants to be put.” According to some of the subjects of Listening to Clay, a similar collaboration, or consulting, takes place between potters and their material. Artist Michiko Ogawa, for example, is very specific on this point, stating that she attempts to, “listen to what the material has to say,” posing the question, “What does the clay want to be?”
Listening to Clay

Some will read this and wonder whether that conversation is entirely imagined by the artist, and will question whether it can, in fact, be a dialog. I believe that not only is it a dialog, it’s more real than the consentual hallucination of regular life.

I think there are a few different movements that are part of this experience, several steps of this dance. There is getting out of the way. There is getting into the flow. There is also, acknowledging being part of a larger web of things. We are all just molecules dancing in space, whether we are humans, rocks, or melodies.

I feel kinship with these words: Listen to what the material has to say and What does the clay want to be is analogous to my experience of What does this piece of music want to be. The sentence It seems to speak and say where it wants to be put relates just as well to the notes of a melody as it does to a rock. I get out of the way of the flow and allow the music to materialize itself. The music moves my hands — that is the feeling when it really works. I don’t know where my music comes from. It doesn’t feel like it’s mine. It comes through me is the sensation I have.

Now I am lying here wondering whether that’s how a tree feels about their branches and leaves. They simply grew where they needed to go.

I woke up at 0200 and was wide awake. Now it’s 0322. Better try to get out of the way of sleep.

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck, among the most innovative and certainly the most unpredictable of ’60s guitar heroes, has died. He was 78.
Jeff Beck, One of the Guitar Masters of the Rock Era, Dies at 78 – Variety

For me he was THE best. His tone, his phrasing, his bending… Damn, he was so good. I keep returning to Live at Ronnie Scott’s, which I have on DVD. Spellbinding, to watch Beck do some of those things. Jon gave me the vinyl LP of Emotion & Commotion, produced by the great Steve Lipson. I think I also have the vinyl of Blow by Blow, which I bought decades ago. End of an era.

People use the word legend very freely.
Sometimes they are right. Sometimes not.
Jeff defines the word.
This one hurts and also the real fact is that NO ONE will ever come close.
ONE note is all he had to play and it was game over.
His one of a kind playing-talent and work cannot be overstated!
I am still processing like we all are.

Steve Lukather on Lefsetz Letter

Here is a fun listen/watch: Remember (Walking in the Sand)

Binding

Binding is a term neuroscience uses for the brain’s ability to construct a reality out of separate occurrences. As we all know, light travels really fast, sound travels merely fast, and arms move downright slowly. So, when one plays baseball, for example, the brain will bind events together so that it appears as if what the eyes see, what the ears hear, and what the hands do, happen at the same time. The brain does this by delaying events, and thereby gaining the time needed to create the illusion that all of the things that come together when hitting a baseball – seeing, hearing, and touching – happen at the same time.

There is a fun experiment that was devised to study this. Participants sat in front of a button, that was connected to a light bulb. The wiring from the button went through a timing apparatus that controlled the exact time when the bulb lit up, in the millisecond range. Push the button… light goes on. Next, a time delay was introduced. The participant pushed the button, but there was a 20 millisecond delay until then the blulb lit up. Apparently the brain will continue to assume that the bulb simply has to light up when the button is pushed and will bind those events together. This can be pushed until the delay is about 200 milliseconds, which is a fifth of a second. Here is where the fun started: once the participant had been “trained” to experience the bulb lighting up when the button was pushed EVEN THOUGH a fifth of a second elapsed between the events, the delay was removed and the bulb lit up without delay. Now the participants experienced something interesting: they reported that they saw the bulb lighting up BEFORE they pushed the button!

I have been thinking about this all day, wondering how it relates to playing guitar. When I sit on a stage and play a note, the sound travels from the guitar to the microphone and then, in form of an electrical impulse, through 100-200 feet (and sometimes a lot more than that) of wiring to the front-of-house mixing position, then, after processing, another 100-200 feet in the opposite direction to amps that increase the signal and send an impulse to the loudspeakers, which then have to move the air, which has to travel to your ears… It is clear that a concert is basically a group hallucination. LOL

Secret

For years I’ve been determined to decline invitations in this way, but I always chicken out.
Alan Jacobs

Click on the link to see what E. B. White wrote in 1956

Walking

There are reasons for walking fast and for me they tend to involve temperature or hunger. I remember a few early mornings, when I stormed through Manhattan with Jon, on our way to a favorite cafe downtown. We would cover more than 60 blocks in very little time. Today, I figured my wool hoodie would be too warm and left the hotel in a t-shirt, when it was 54º outside. So I had to hustle and hustle I did. I covered 3.15 miles at an average pace of 14’24” per mile. Because a gaggle of humans was holding me up for a while, on the narrow river walk, I walked the third mile at a pace of 13’50”, which, for me, feels like the last gear before running.

I noticed several spots where either birds of paradise or banana plants had been cut down. What happened there, I wondered. Not enough rain? Too cold?

Work + SA

I say: If you’re trying to get through your work as quickly as you can, then maybe you should see if you can find a different line of work. And if you’re trying to get through your leisure-time reading and watching and listening as quickly as you can, then you definitely do not understand the meaning of leisure and should do a thorough rethink. And in both cases maybe it would be useful to read Mark Helprin on “The Acceleration of Tranquility.”
and then? – The Homebound Symphony

Found here. I want to say something about this but I also want to get a walk in this morning… and I can’t do both at the same time, unless you walk with me. :-)
So I am leaving this as a reminder and will get back to it next week.

Oh, we played a new venue in San Antonio last night and I love love love it. It’s called the Carver Cultural Center and is a former library and theater built in 1929. Great vibe, great sound, sold out, plus a fist fight in the back. What more can you want!

Archives

Images

Concert Dates

Wed, Feb 8 2023 in Solana Beach, CA
@ Belly Up

Thu, Feb 9 2023 in Montclair, CA
@ Canyon Montclair

Fri, Feb 10 2023 in Agoura Hills, CA
@ The Canyon Agoura Hills

Sat, Feb 11 2023 in San Juan Capistrano, CA
@ The Coach House

Mon, Feb 13 2023 in Oakland, CA
@ Yoshi’s

Tue, Feb 14 2023 in Saratoga, CA
@ Carriage House Theater

Thu, Feb 16 2023 in Sacramento, CA
@ The Sofia

Social

@Mastodon (the Un-Twitter)