Today’s Bread


In November of 2011 I purchased the book Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson, and a few weeks later I began to make bread. I estimate that I have made more than 1,000 loaves since then.

There are many books on baking bread at home. Pick one of them and make your own bread. It is incredibly satisfying to see the dough evolve over several hours and, as if through alchemy, become a lovely loaf. It’s calming, too. :-)

You can also use the sourdough starter to make banana bread or muffins. I have been obsessed with making thin flatbread to eat hummus with and made this using only starter, water, salt, and cumin seed.

Speaking about hummus… to my taste homemade hummus is so much better than store-bought and I make a batch once a week starting with dried chickpeas. But back to bread… while we are stuck at home, why not begin a bread making practice and start an American bread revolution. :-)

Face Masks

I bought a pack of these today.

Our 3-Pack face mask is made of 100% cotton and features an adjustable nose that you can form to the contours of your face. 2 straps to be worn around the head and neck that can be tied and tightened to preferred fit. Mask is made of a thick French Terry fabric constructed of 3 yarns, weighing no less than 12 ounces per sq yard (400 GSM). Fabric is laundered prior to construction.

* All consumer purchases of the FACEMASK help fund our ability to donate masks to other essential services while providing living wages and supporting vertically integrated US manufacturing.

Link

New Music Friday

It’s Friday and I want to post another work in progress. Today I will share a song that has been reincarnated several times. The first version was called This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies and was an improvisation I recorded for the album One Guitar. This piece of music was inspired by a story I read years ago, and re-read many times, a story that can be found in Burton Watson’s translation of The Complete Works of Zhuangzi.

Zhuang Zhou, literally Master Zhuang, previously also rendered as Chuang Tzu, was a very important and influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE. He is credited with writing the Zhuangzi, one of the foundational texts of Taoism. If you read Laozi (Lao Tzu) and Zhuang Zhou (Chuang Tzu) you get a pretty good introduction to Taoism.

From the Wikipedia entry on the book:

The most famous of all Zhuangzi stories—”Zhuang Zhou Dreams of Being a Butterfly”—appears at the end of the second chapter, “On the Equality of Things”.

Once, Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering about, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know that he was Zhuang Zhou.

Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuang Zhou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhuang Zhou. Between Zhuang Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.

— Zhuangzi, chapter 2 (Watson translation)

The well-known image of Zhuangzi wondering if he was a man who dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of being a man is so striking that whole dramas have been written on its theme. In it Zhuangzi “[plays] with the theme of transformation”, illustrating that “the distinction between waking and dreaming is another false dichotomy. If [one] distinguishes them, how can [one] tell if [one] is now dreaming or awake?”

The second incarnation of the piece was a remix Jon Gagan made, called 10,000 Butterflies Redux. This version was never released on an album and was only available from our now defunct ListeningLounge. Here is what I wrote in 2008:

Jon’s re-working of “This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies” is available in the LL now. I am using the term re-working instead of remix, because it’s really an entirely new recording based on the chord sequence of the original. I played new Flamenco and electric guitar parts and Jon played everything else. It’s a lovely long track – almost 10 minutes – which I have been listening to often since Jon sent it to me last week. You will find “10,000 Butterflies Redux” here. Perfect for sunsets or candlelight or daydreaming. Listen, repeat…

The third incarnation was a version I created for the album slow, released in 2016.

After performing a new version of this piece with the trio for the last three years, I decided that I really wanted to create a fourth version. Butterfly Dream 2020 is a working title and subject to change. At this point only Jon and I have laid down parts for this piece. The music will substantially change once Robby will add percussion, and perhaps his brother Char will add accordion.

There is a fifth incarnation, a solo recording of the piece for a video I made around 2008, using images I had created.

Here are links to four mp3 files and one video file you can download:
This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies from the album One Guitar
10,000 Butterflies Redux – Jon’s version
Butterfly Dream – from the album slow
Butterfly Dream 2020 – work in progress
This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies – video with live recording in my studio plus photos and moving images

Please note: these links will only be active today and through this weekend.

Some random thoughts…

It seems that the virus hits older folks much harder than young people, and men harder than women:

Case-fatality percentages increased with increasing age, from no deaths reported among persons aged ≤19 years to highest percentages (10%–27%) among adults aged ≥85 years
Link

Who makes most political decisions? Old men. Who is the virus going after? Old men. Kinda poetic. I can say this, being an old man myself… :-)

While most young people shrug off this virus other young ones are at risk, diabetics and asthmatics for example.

The livelihoods ruined by quarantines will mostly belong to younger people, who are losing jobs, and will be unable to pay rent. Then there is mental health. A young person is more likely to live in a tiny apartment, staring at the same four walls for weeks on end. A young person is less likely to be in a stable relationship and generally needs social encounters more than an older person.

I have been giving some thought to having a strategy for the future and wonder whether there should be a council of men and women from different walks of life, and with different cultural backgrounds, whose sole job is to envision the future and to look at long term effects of laws, with a special view towards the environment or education. A Future Think Tank of sorts. They can look at trends without the myopia of politicians, who only look towards re-election, or the myopia of doctors, who only want to create a cure without looking at the bigger picture. I am not sure how this council should be chosen. It should, obviously, not be a political decision. The council could be aided by AI that is trained to look at long-term guidance and solutions and can analyze the effect of anything over time.

Just a few random thoughts. Let me know what you think about this.

Haiku

Yesterday I came across this haiku by the Japanese poet Shiki. Although written over a century ago it resonates today.

What a wonderful
day! No one in the village
doing anything.

From the Wikipedia entry for Masaoka Shiki:

Shiki suffered from tuberculosis much of his life. In 1888 or 1889 he began coughing up blood and soon adopted the pen-name “Shiki” from the Japanese hototogisu—the Japanese name for lesser cuckoos. The Japanese word hototogisu can be written with various combinations of Chinese characters, including 子規, which can alternatively be read as either “hototogisu” or “shiki”. It is a Japanese conceit that this bird coughs blood as it sings, which explains why the name “Shiki” was adopted.

Nice bit of gallows humor!

Times

As if these times hadn’t been interesting enough already! Now The Rona has turbocharged the present. Do you think George RR Martin is writing our script? It has that quality of GoT were anything can, and will happen. You know, maximum mayhem at all times.

Binaural Beats

For millennia musicians have used interference beats to check the tuning of their stringed instruments at the unison, perfect fifth, or other simple harmonic intervals. Piano tuners also use this method. But these are short tones that die off quickly. Only since building tone generators which can produce sine waves can we experiment with the effect of long tones. Binaural beats do interesting things to our brains. If the left ear hears a frequency that is different from the frequency perceived by the right ear the brain will produce the perception of a third frequency. This can be used to induce certain states in the mind, like concentration, relaxation and so on.

Binaural-beat perception originates in the inferior colliculus of the midbrain and the superior olivary complex of the brainstem, where auditory signals from each ear are integrated and precipitate electrical impulses along neural pathways through the reticular formation up the midbrain to the thalamus, auditory cortex, and other cortical regions.

Some potential benefits of binaural beats therapy may include: reduced stress, reduced anxiety, increased focus, increased concentration, increased motivation, increased confidence, and deeper meditation.

Wikipedia

Binaural Beat Machine is a free Binaural Beat generator that’s part of a website called myNoise. The website mainly delivers pleasant noises for all sorts of purposes, but I find the Beat Generator most interesting. The Binaural Beat Machine is also on the iOS app of myNoise – also free. As I am writing this I am listening to Beta/Active. Happy Binaural Beating!

Saturday

My left index finger is doing much better. I searched my house and found seven ten thirteen sets of guitar strings, so far. D’Addario had to suspend manufacture and I don’t know when I will get more strings…

Concert for One

For the experience of being in the middle of my studio, while we make music sitting around you, check out our album Up Close. You can stream it on Apple Music and it should also be available from Spotify and others. The album is a binaural dummy head recording, sometimes also called holophonics. The listener has to use headphones to experience the 3D surround-sound quality of the music, because what your left ear hears has to be completely isolated from what the right ear hears. That means that earbuds which don’t seal the ear completely will not work. On regular loudspeakers the effect is completely lost and the album sounds meh. Recorded live-to-stereo in August of 2007. No edits were made and the volume was not compressed. This album is not as loud as most music and you might have to turn up the volume on your computer or mp3 player. Also check out this article on culturecourt.com

Branding

Somebody on Behance.net is playing with corporate logos to reflect what’s going on. Very funny. I’m sure you could use a laugh, yes?

Link

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