Archive for 2010-01

Sunday in Santa Fe

02010-01-31 @ 09:01

CEntrance -> DACport
– Audiophile-grade D/A converter plays 24-bit/96 kHz HD music natively, with bit-for-bit accuracy.
– Headphone amp, designed for hours of listening without fatigue offers clarity, soundstage and detail.
– No drivers needed. Plug ‘n play operation with most laptops, nettops and music servers.
– No power adapter needed. DACport uses USB power and works anywhere you take your laptop.
– Stereo, 1/4-inch headphone jack, perfect for the most advanced headphones on the market.

That might be a solution for people who want to listen to audiophile HD music files, but want something mobil. Pair the above DAC with a good set of headphones and you are ready to go – anywhere you carry your laptop. Cost: $500 for the above DAC plus the price of a set of headphones.

Big Brothers on Flickr
What’s up there? How many countries have stuck satellites up into space, how many of those satellites are working, part-working or just bits of junk? This graphic may help to enlighten you.
(Via Gizmodo)

Spacejunk! Click here to enlarge.
How is classical music selling across the country? (((I do hope that the Berlin Philharmonic’s experiment in digital music sales, the Digital Concert Hall, is a success. I bought Jon a subscription and am looking forward to finding out how he likes it))) Official music sales are dismal – see for yourselves:

Sentences to ponder

The dirty secret of the Billboard classical charts is that album sales figures are so low, the charts are almost meaningless. Sales of 200 or 300 units are enough to land an album in the top 10. [Hilary] Hahn’s No. 1 recording, after the sales spike resulting from her appearance on Conan, bolstered by blogs and press, sold 1,000 copies.

The full story is here.  And:

In early October, pianist Murray Perahia’s much-praised album of Bach partitas was in its sixth week on the list, holding strong at No. 10. It sold 189 copies. No. 25, the debut of the young violinist Caroline Goulding, in its third week, sold 75 copies.
(Via Marginal Revolution)

I have mentioned Temple Grandin a few times before – here and here.

Claire Danes to Play Autistic Expert on HBO – Neurodiversity – The Book
Starting on Feburary 6, 2010, HBO will lauch a new biopic starring Golden Globe award winner Claire Danes, based on the life of Temple Grandin, designer of livestock machinery, best-selling author, and autistic individual. Grandin has punctured the stereotype of autism as a disorder locking a person into isolation from the rest of the world. Instead, Grandin is articulate, inventive (she has designed roughly one third of the machinery used to manage animals in slaughterhouses around the country), and a strong supporter of neurodiversity, or the idea that autism and other mental disorders should be viewed as part of the natural diversity of the brain. Here is the trailor of the HBO show:

Oh, I do like the concept of neurodiversity.
Cool photo of a bicycle speed record, achieved behind a Mercedes, sometime in the fifties I guess.
And lastly, a very interesting TED video. Health is relative to Genetics AND Lifestyle, but have we considered the third pillar, the environmment, or where we live? Seems obvious, but has a doctor every asked you about your home-history, where you have lived? Check out this brief TED talk by Bill Davenhall.

Saturday in Santa Fe

02010-01-30 @ 14:01

Almost Black & White…

Neobohemia has a nice post about Ozu‘s famous tatami view. This week I watched Tokyo Story, which is a brilliant and beautiful, if not exactly uplifting movie Ozu made in 1953. Highly recommended and on many directors top ten list.

tatami view « neo bohemia
…any attempt to view such a life through a camera held up high on a tripod was nonsense; the eye level of Japanese sitting on the tatami becomes, of necessity, the eye level through which they view what is going around them.
– Yasujiro Ozu

A brand new tatami has a great scent and Ozu-san was a great director with his own distinctive style.

An explanation on the tatami view. Ozu was famous for placing his camera on a tatami mat to film each scene. It is a unique view. It is the very idea that camera could be a person who might be seated (kneeling) on a tatami mat. The view allows the scene to be observed straight on and almost with the feeling that the person seated and viewing could be in the next room. The view is uncluttered and has a simplicity of straight forwardness in the vision. By filming in this fashion there is a focus that creates its own poetry

My first experiement with a low camera angle happened during a walk in Houston, last August. The angle I liked was even lower than the Tatami View, and I started calling it to DM-View or DMV, stemming from this dialog on Flickr:

This is how we set up in Florida this month, except for the first show in Miami. In Miami I could not see Michael and decided I should be a little further stage right. The reason I should not sit in the middle, with Michael stage-left and Jon stage-right, is that my guitar microphone should be as far away from the much louder drums as possible. The closer I am to the drums, the more of the drums end up in my mic. This is called bleed:

In a music recording setting, the term “crosstalk” can refer to the leakage (or “bleeding”) of sound from one instrument into a microphone placed in front of another musical instrument or singer. A common example is the leakage of the high-pitched, heavily-amplified sound of the lead guitar into the microphones for other instruments. Note that this is nearly always an acoustic effect, not electrical.

And, in any case, bassists usually love being right next to the drums.

The following image shows the angle from the audience, in Orlando. Nevermind the weird altar-like contraption behind Jon – it’s supposed to keep people from falling down the stairs to the dressing rooms which are in the basement.

If you have center tickets, you will have a great view of the whole band.

Friday in Santa Fe

02010-01-29 @ 10:01

Almost a year ago, on February 5th of last year at exactly 15:02, I posted the first entry in this journal. Soon we will have two music posts per week, a new piece and one from a year ago.

This Neobhemia post went well with our snow yesterday.

I read the music of sound blog this Morning and he makes some interesting points regarding the iPad.

The iPad as a wireless controller for music:

the music of sound » Apps for your iPad?
But what are the apps that you can’t wait to see re-versioned for the iPad? It obviously has huge potential as a wireless controller for music, and I don’t imagine it will be long before there is a virtual Monome controller/emulator as well as program specific remotes akin to the LaunchPad. I can also easily imagine something akin to the Lemur appearing on the app store, which to a small degree already exists with the iTouch MIDI apps…

The iPad as a wireless DAW controller (((Digital Audio Workstation – basically every computer-based recorder))):

But also the Dexter, which is a more DAW specific remote based on the same technology as the Lemur. In fact for ProTools it already exists as the ProRemote but expanding it for a larger screen will have a huge impact on its usability.

Then he points out that album artwork will look much better this size! The iPad screen is smaller than the old 12″ vinyl cover, but larger than a 7″ single cover:

Lastly, for engaging with music the iPad could make a great start back to the days of vinyl in terms of displaying artwork & liner notes….. well…. realistically back to 7? single territory at least…. the 12? LP still reigns supreme in that respect!

Jon mentioned to me today that the iPad will be the ultimate sheet music format. It will sit on a music stand, and you could store zillions of songs as PDF’s! He said, page turns will be effortless, the size will be smaller than any fake book, on and on- this is exciting. You could even sync a cursor to some sort of time code and “follow the bouncing ball” if you want.

I could see every Broadway band or classical orchestra storing their entire repertoire on iPads – they can interact with their scores without needing a mouse. And the possibilities for music students are endless. Imagine seeing the score and having a built-in metronome and being able to change the tempo of the piece one is practicing. Pianists won’t need anybody turning the page of their score….

Then I found this article and video about a fantastic project by guitarist Pat Metheny, a robotic orchestra or giant player piano + band, an Auto-Orchestra:

Robot Band Backs Pat Metheny on Orchestrion Tour
Dozens of robotic band members will join jazz guitarist Pat Metheny on his next international tour. It’s the same backup band that accompanied him on his latest album, Orchestrion, producing sounds both familiar and alien.

I especially enjoyed this paragraph that ends the article:

Not only does the visual spectacle of robots playing along with Metheny’s always-impressive guitar work hypnotize the viewer, but it sounds great for the same reason live orchestras sound so much better than CDs: They’re essentially 100-point surround sound speaker systems housed in a massive acoustic space with its own resonances, and no home theater (well, no home theater without robot or human performers) can duplicate that sound.

Watch the video as it is really fasctinating. It’s essentially a very complex player piano. The other thought I had… this will be hell to set up at every gig, to maintain and troublecheck before every performance. Also, I would love to sit in the middle, where he sits, to really experience the music happening all around, something that will sadly get flattened by the need to amplify the performance through two stack of speakers…

Regarding this earlier post, where I wrote that I don’t see the separation of spirit and physical things:
I came across these words from Oliver Sacks, who I have mentioned a number of times before, from an interview with Wired Magazine, I believe:

I dislike both of those words, because for me, the so-called immaterial and spiritual is always vested in the fleshly — in “the holy and glorious flesh,” as Dante said.

Thursday Night

02010-01-28 @ 22:01

Very quiet, very still. A landscape like a painting.

Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-01-28 @ 21:01

It started snowing early this Morning but, thanks to the Winter tires on my front wheels, I was able to leave the hill for breakfast with Jon. It ended up snowing for most of the day, the biggest snowfall of the Winter so far.

During rehearsal yesterday we took a couple of breaks to check out what Apple was unveiling in San Francisco. Since then I have had a chance to reflect on the new iPad (((I think MacBook Touch would have been nicer, followed by a MacBook Pro Touch, perhaps with a wider screen in a year or two. iPod Touch and MacBook Touch…))) and especially the reaction it has been getting. Here is my take on the tablet:

When the iPhone was first shown in 2007 many rival smartphone manufacturers didn’t think it would gain much of a market share. I don’t think that was PR, I think they probably genuinely didn’t get it, meaning they didn’t understand the appeal of such a phone without buttons. Now Apple, on the strength of the iPhone and the App store, has become the largest mobile devices manufacturer in the world.

Hm, maybe like playing Nouveau Flamenco for a traditional Flamenco fan – they would have said (((did say!!))), what on earth is that???

It seems nerds don’t like the iPad, because it doesn’t do multi-tasking, doesn’t have a fast enough processor, doesn’t have a camera (((and I would like to be able to attach the tablet to my studio computer and use it as an input device – instead of using a mouse – for editing…))) yada yada yada, but once again there is a misunderstanding here, a rather big one. Apple did not design the iPad for me or for nerds. Nerds can fiddle with Linux or build their own computers from spare PC parts. Nerds are also a rather small buying group overall and, I imagine, not very brand-loyal. I think Apple is going for a much larger audience than that.

To put that in perspective again, if I had written and produced NF to impress Flamenco afficionados and Flamenco guitarists, the album would have been a failure. Not only would the album not have appealed to them, they would also have been too small of an audience to sell a decent amount of records. Not that I imagined to sell more than the initial 1,000 copies Frank Howell made, but in hindsight it is pretty clear that the album would not have sold over two million copies if it had been more traditional. In that case I would still have a day-job somewhere in Santa Fe, and would perform at local restaurants and bars. Nothing wrong with that, naturally, but my life would have been rather different.

In fact, I don’t think there is a more traditional sounding Flamenco album that has sold even half a million copies in the USA. Go to the Grammy website, start a RIAA Gold or Platinum certification search and plug in the most famous Flamenco guitarists you can think of, say Paco De Lucia or Vicente Amigo… and you will come up with… nothing, zero. Their music, although very beautiful, appeals to a narrower slice of the public.

Back to the iPad, maybe Flamenco afficionados and guitarists are similar to the nerds who hate the iPad. But the public, I think the public will love it and buy it. I think my dad would have loved it. Even in his nineties he would have grasped the brilliant concept and the simplicity. The iPad is for people who are intimidated by a computer, by people who look at a computer’s desktop and wonder how one can get started. I mean, you could leave an iPad in your living room and everyone who comes for a visit would play with it. Getting around an iPad is child’s play, in fact every pre-school should have several. Imagine interactive lessons for grade-schoolers on the iPad.

Yeah, I do want one for our bus this Summer! And that gives me another idea: hm, wouldn’t it be great if you could create separate accounts on every iPad, so that I could sign in to check my email, then Jon could sign in to read his book, then Michael could sign in and watch one of his movies… and then combine that with the concept of storing music and movies and data in the cloud and the tablet would become an empty container, a furoshiki to be used by anyone with a login!! That would mean that every hotel could have a bunch of these slates lying around in their lobby or the restaurant, for anybody to grab, sign in and use while they are visiting, to read the news, check their email, message their friends… Oh, well, in ten years maybe? Twenty?

Other stuff that caught my eye today:

Running barefoot may mean fewer injuries than wearing trainers
Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman has ditched his trainers and started running barefoot. His research shows that running barefoot generates less impact shock than running in trainers. This makes barefoot running more comfortable and could minimise running-related injuries

– with video. I have written about barefoot walking versus wearing shoes before – here, and here.

Ferran Adria is closing El Bulli. It’s time to tackle his cookbook
So, Ferran Adria has announced that El Bulli – the best restaurant in the world – is set to close for a couple of years, and jaws have dropped wide enough to shove a whole tasting menu in. “No meals will be served in El Bulli in 2012 and 2013,” Adria told the Madrid Fusion gastronomic conference on Tuesday. “With a format like the current one it is impossible to keep creating. In 2014, we will serve food somehow. I don’t know if it will be for one guest or 1,000.”

Looks like Stephen Batchelor’s new book will be published in March. Here is the publisher’s website, which contained this quote at the bottom:

The human thirst for the transcendent, the numinous—even the ecstatic—is too universal and too important to be entrusted to the cultish and the archaic and the superstitious. In this honest and serious book of self-examination and critical scrutiny, Stephen Batchelor adds the universe of Buddhism to the many fields in which received truth and blind faith are now giving way to ethical and scientific humanism, in which lies our only real hope.
—Christopher Hitchens

I just sent him an email, wondering whether he used one of my photos of him.

Gut symmetries
Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe, what are we to do about the stupidity of mankind? I include myself. I know that the Earth is not flat, but my feet are. I know that space is curved, but my brain has been cordoned by habit to grow in a straight line. What I call light is my own blend of darkness. What I call a view is my hand-painted trompe-l’oeil. I run after knowledge like a ferret down a ferret hole. My limitations, I call the boundaries of what can be known. I interpret the world by confusing other people’s psychology with my own. I say I am open-minded, but what I think is.
— Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries
(Via Nikola Tamindzic)

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02010-01-27 @ 10:01

The first rehearsal for the recording of the new album starts at 10:00 today. When the recording starts for real, sometime in the coming weeks, I’ll bring some of my studio gear to Jon’s studio, in order to be able to have all of the microphones and pre-amps and converters for 16 tracks of HD recording.

Hm, wouldn’t it be cool, no, let me rephrase that, wouldn’t it be interesting, if the recent attacks on Google, which were blamed on Chinese hackers, and possibly black-hat Chinese Government Hackers… were actually perpetrated by Tibetan Freedom Fighters, who happen to know their way around computers? Khampas with internet instead of long knives. My imagination runs away with me and I can see a basement somewhere in Dharamsala, New York or London, filled with a gaggle of computers, with prayer flags crisscrossing the room, and people chanting mantras while they are hitting the keyboards.

Evidence Weakens That China Did the Recent Cyberattacks
an article in The Register calling into question the one piece of hard evidence that has been put forward to pin the Google cyberattacks on China. It was claimed that a CRC algorithm found in the Aurora attack code was particular to Chinese-language developers. Now evidence emerges that this algorithm has been widely known for years and used in English-language books and websites. Wired has a post introducing the Pentagon’s recently initiated effort to identify the “digital DNA” of hackers and/or their tools; this program is part of a wide-ranging effort by the US government to find useful means of deterring cyberattacks. This latter NY Times article notes that Google may have found the best deterrence so far — the threat to withdraw its services from the Chinese market.
(Via Slashdot)

I am back from the rehearsal and listening to mp3s from the recordings. Jon named one of the new tracks Tabouli Western, he he. We working out arrangements for 11 new pieces. More rehearsing next week and then four days of recording the week after that. The plan is to finish recording by the end of February and work on finishing touches and mixing in March.

Tuesday Music

02010-01-26 @ 17:01

Here is another Lava track. Perfect train or driving music, perhaps. Would go well with a travel video…

I have always really enjoyed Eric Schermerhorn’s Wah-Wah playing on this one.

Audio MP3

Download the 24/48 FLAC here.
The 320kbps mp3 can be downloaded here.

In case you are new to this site, and haven’t read my earlier posts on HD audio, here is a reminder:

Unless you are using an external DAC (((Digital-to-Analog-Converter))), your computer will play back the FLAC, but will dither and downsample to 16/44.1kHz. There are several free apps that play back FLAC (free lossless audio codec), e.g. Songbird, which is open source and available for Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems, and VLC. You can also use one of these free apps to convert the FLAC file to an .AIFF or .WAV file, which you can import into iTunes. Again, without an external DAC, iTunes will play back an HD AIFF file, but will automatically dither and downsample to 16/44.1. If you don’t know what I am talking about, just download the mp3, because you won’t be able to enjoy the quality of the FLAC, it will take up a lot more space on your harddrive and you won’t be able to listen to it on an iPod anyway.

Tuesday in Santa Fe

02010-01-26 @ 10:01

Ah, drip-coffee is going to be trendy now… see this:

Ristretto | Pour-Over Coffee Drips Into New York – T Magazine Blog –
As coffee-brewing techniques go, pour over is slow and mannered. It’s low tech. It has a funny name. And yet, pour over is an ongoing obsession within the coffee world. It’s been around for years, though interest has spiked in recent months. It could be because the coffee it makes is so clean, so round and fruity, that you can fully taste all those complex layers of flavor that are supposed to be lurking in the best single-origin and micro-lot beans.

Well, I got you covered!

From left to right: Chemex coffeemaker – they are offered in a variety of sizes. The website has this to say:

The Chemex® coffeemaker was invented by Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D., in 1941. Schlumbohm was born in Kiel, Germany in 1896. He received his doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Berlin. After several trips to the United States, he settled in New York City in 1936. Over the years, he invented over 3,000 items for which he was granted patents. However, his coffeemaker and carafe kettles were his most long enduring inventions.

Beautiful, elegant and in the MoMA.

The filter is also from Chemex. It contains no glue, since it is simply folded, and the paper is unbleached.

Next to the coffeemaker is a drinking glass. It’s made by Duralex in France. They are tough glasses – more than half the time I drop one on the floor, it survives. They are used in many cafes, especially in France, naturally. Just do a search, you can always find them somewhere. I like drinking from a glass, because I can enoy the color of the coffee or tea. If I lived in a small apartment, I would simply not have any cups or bowls or wine-glasses at all, only a dozen of these glasses.

Next comes the best coffee grinder I have found. It’s made by Hario. It’s easy to fill, it’s easy to hold, the grinding mechanism is adjustable (((so you can also grind pepper or seasalt or other spices for you next dinner))), it’s easy to open, and the bottom-glass can be cleaned in the dishwasher. And at $44 it doesn’t break the bank. You do know that coffee beans should be ground and not slashed to bits by a blade, yes?

The last item is a bag of whole beans I bought at Ohori in Santa Fe.

This is the next broadcast tower for Tokyo. See this post from last November. The Tokyo Sky Tree will replace the Tokyo Tower and should be completed next year.

Now off to the studio to mix another track for you… I am feel a bit of Lava coming on…

Monday in Santa Fe

02010-01-25 @ 10:01

Saw the hand in a store in Manhattan last December and could not resist.

The key on top is a 8GB flash drive. I am thinking of releasing this year’s trio album in 24/88.2 HD-quality on a flashdrive in FLAC-format, because an HD album doesn’t fit on a CD, even in FLAC form…

HD FLAC will also be available to download from And of course the music will be available in mp3 form from the usual outlets as well, and we will have CDs.

Are you going to Singapore this year? You might check out this coffee house:

Papa Palheta coffee, Singapore
Singapore might be better known for its insatiable foodies and gastronomic offerings than its cups of joe, but local coffee roaster Papa Palheta is attempting to change all that. Located in the Newton area, away from the island’s café hubs, this speciality coffee boutique has gotten coffee-crazy Singaporeans talking with its selection of coffee beans all roasted and sold on-site.

Here is Papa Palheta’s website.

I ask you, is the Fahrenheit scale of temperature cute, or antiquated? Well, it’s possibly both. The real question is why people in the USA and Belize are still using Fahrenheit?

Check this out: the reference points that defined the scale were brine (((ice, water, and salt))), and the inventor’s wife’s armpit!! Celsius on the other hand simply uses the freezing point and boiling point of water, at sea level. No armpits necessary!

Fahrenheit – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
According to a journal article Fahrenheit wrote in 1724, he based his scale on three reference points of temperature. The zero point is determined by placing the thermometer in brine: he used a mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride, a salt. This is a frigorific mixture which automatically stabilizes its temperature at 0 °F. A mixture of water and ice stabilizes at 32 F. But Fahrenheit did not use this point in defining his temperature scale. The third point, 96 degrees, was the level of the liquid in the thermometer when held in the mouth or under the armpit of his wife. Fahrenheit noted that, using this scale, mercury boils at around 600 degrees.

Later, work by other scientists observed that water boils about 180 degrees higher than the freezing point and decided to redefine the degree slightly to make it exactly 180 degrees higher. It is for this reason that normal body temperature is 98.6 on the revised scale (whereas it was 96 on Fahrenheit’s original scale).

What I am wondering is this: obviously the entire scientific community as well as most of the industry in the USA use metric measurements… is the reason that Americans have never switched to a metric system and the Celsius scale, that the old measurements are somehow comforting in an age where everything seems to turn upside down? When everything is changing people hold on to the little things that remain the same?

Fahrenheit, so ähnlich wie Fahrvergnügen…


02010-01-24 @ 12:01

Most folks do not know how touring works. They wonder when we will come to their city or to a certain venue. Maybe this will help.

A promoter is the individual or entity, e.g. a Performing Arts Center or House of Blues, who puts on a concert. They engage an artist, rent a hall – unless the venue is the promoter – place advertisements in local papers and radio stations, set up interviews, hire a local crew to help us prepare the stage, provide catering and so on.

We don’t promote concerts. Local knowledge, connections and experience are extremely important.

Therefore we depend on local promoters to make us an offer, which usually works like this: the promoter contacts my agent. They agree on terms and discuss the timing with my manager, since routing is very important in order not to waste diesel and time.

When people ask me when will we play in this or that city I always encourage them to contact a venue they like and ask that venue, or the promoter, or festival to invite us. Our contact information can be found here.

Daily Bread

02010-01-24 @ 12:01

Saturday Morning I went to buy groceries – the winter tires on the front wheels are glorious!!! I ordered a five-olive bread at the counter, and asked to have it sliced. Then I noticed a sheet of paper taped to the large bread-slicer: This machine slices organic and conventional breads.

When I received the bread I asked the bread-lady, do people really take it that seriously? Oh yes, she answered, nodding her head vigorously, you’d be amazed.

I immediately blurted out, no wonder there are so many wars. She didn’t laugh, just nodded.


02010-01-23 @ 14:01

I made some desktops/wallpapers for my laptop (1440 x 900 pixels) and phone (480 x 320 pixels) based on the two images from yesterday’s post. The fit MacBooks and iPhone, but should also work with other computers and phones that have a similar aspect ratio. You can download them here:

Desktop #1
Desktop #2

Saturday in Santa Fe

02010-01-23 @ 09:01

From the epiloge of The Godfather of Kathmandu:

A cup of wine under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I becon the bright moon.

– Li Po

Goes well with the poems from Thursday.

Here is another quote from the book:

In Nepal we don’t fly through clouds, because the clouds have rocks in them.

Those rocks, in case you are wondering, are the Himalayas which reach high into the sky. The real name of Mount Everst is Chomolungma, which means Mother of the Universe in Tibetan.

Live music. No quantization, no pitch-correction, no ProTools tricks… just a bunch of guys playing in a bar in Paris. Not my favorite kind of music, but nice.

Next week Apple is said to announce a new computer device… the iSlate? iPad? (((I don’t like either of those names))) and the New York Times decided to call up one of my favorite poets, Gary Snyder. They spoke with him and he offered this poem.

Tech Reflections – Digital Muse for Beat Poet –
Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon,
Because it jumps like a skittish horse and sometimes throws me,
Because it is poky when cold,
Because plastic is a sad, strong material that is charming to rodents,
Because it is flighty,
Because my mind flies into it through my fingers,
Because it leaps forward and backward, is an endless sniffer and searcher,
Because its keys click like hail on a boulder,
And it winks when it goes out,
And puts word-heaps in hoards for me, dozens of pockets of gold under boulders in streambeds, identical seedpods strong on a vine, or it stores bins of bolts;
And I lose them and find them,
Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted and vanish in a flash at “delete,” so it teaches of impermanence and pain;
And because my computer and me are both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates,
Because I have let it move in with me right inside the tent,
And it goes with me out every morning;
We fill up our baskets, get back home,
Feel rich, relax, I throw it a scrap and it hums.

Read the whole article here.

I am not surprised:

Schneier on Security: German TV on the Failure of Full-Body Scanners
The video is worth watching, even if you don’t speak German. The scanner caught a subject’s cell phone and Swiss Army knife — and the microphone he was wearing — but missed all the components to make a bomb that he hid on his body. Admittedly, he only faced the scanner from the front and not from the side. But he also didn’t hide anything in a body cavity other than his mouth — I didn’t think about that one — he didn’t use low density or thinly sliced PETN, and he didn’t hide anything in his carry-on luggage.

Full-body scanners: they’re not just a dumb idea, they don’t actually work.

A couple of images from yesterday evening:

Friday Evening

02010-01-22 @ 21:01

Friday in Santa Fe

02010-01-22 @ 09:01

More snow…

Correlation Found Between Brain Structure and Video Game Success
The subjects who had more volume in an area called the nucleus accumbens did significantly better in the early stages of training. Meanwhile, those who were well-endowed in different areas of the striatum, known as the caudate nucleus and putamen, handled the shifting strategies better.’

Brain, video games, spirituality…

Somebody (((I certainly think Mind & Life should be involved))) should create a computer game that enhances the players ability to realize himself in a spiritual fashion (((I really don’t like the word spirituality, but you get my drift)))

Of course, nothing replaces practice, and by practice I mean meditation and dedication over time, but there are things like Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind method, that offer immediate results, little insights that can inspire a person and lead them to doing the time, by which I mean sitting in meditation or silence or prayer or whatever your path may be.

Similarly I imagine that one could design video games – I bet there are a number of Tibetan lamas that could provide some mind-blowing content – that could bring about changes in the brain that would in turn foster long-term development. Visualizations are a big thing in Tibetan Buddhism… that would work well for a video game. There has been a lot of neurological research that could be applied, too. And then there is Tantric Buddhism. That could could be more exciting than Grand Theft Auto to a young person…

I think self-realization has always been, and will always be, a two-part process. Immediate understanding and training on one hand and long-term internalization and integration on the other hand. This is not foreign to a musician, by the way. You learn a new technique and then it takes years to find ways to implement that technique in a natural fashion.

I think a great video game along these lines could be life-changing as well as very profitable for the designer.

Crazy Delicious Japanese Rice Paddy Art
…a village in Japan called Inakadate has a ridiculously awesome festival where hundreds of people help out and plant different varieties of rice that grow up to be different colors (and thus create images like the ones you see above). They started doing this to reinvigorate the town, and it’s done quite well! In 2006 there were 200,000 visitors alone.

Check out the rice-paddy-art photographs here.
Link to Google map.

London’s Unpackaged Grocery Shop Eliminates Wasteful Packaging | Inhabitat
Started by Catherine Conway in 2006, Unpackaged was a small market stall that became so popular that Conway decided to open up a full-fledged shop. The store sells almost all their goods out of bulk bins and the packaged items they do carry are minimal and easily recyclable. It’s certainly not as large as most grocery stores, and it doesn’t carry multiple brands of one item — in fact the store doesn’t carry many well-known brands (except for the wines).

Why unpackaged? Three reasons: first, it’s cheaper to buy and sell things in bulk, since the extra cost of packaging isn’t passed on to you. Second, packaging is a waste of resources and time, and requires extra fuel to transport that weight. Finally, packaging is really just trash and causes pollution because it is so often sent to the landfill.

Very nice! Website: Unpackaged

And, if you are wondering why I don’t like the word Spirituality, I’ll tell you:

I just don’t see that separation of spirit and physical things, i.e. the rest of the world. To me the exterior is a reflection of the interior, and the two are forever entwined. We can’t work on the physical side without changing the spiritual side and we can’t work on our interior without affecting the exterior. So, talking about spirituality creates, to me, an unnatural disconnect from the world, from this right here, right now. I think doing something, following the Eighfold Path, for example – or whatever your path may be – creates an overall change (((and by overall I mean the person following the path and, in fact, the whole world))). Or, to put it simply, doing becomes being and being becomes doing. And really, they are not separate, except in our conceptualizations.


02010-01-21 @ 15:01

Here is a little music-post and I will start it with a note about our twenty-ten tour calendar.

Management added more dates to our Spring and Summer schedule – with more to come.

Spring – East Coast (((and Dave, we will play in Boston again, probably the same place, but haven’t settled on the date yet. Looks like the first week of May, though)))

Summer – West Coast – we will return to Humphreys in San Diego, we’ll do three nights at the Triple Door in Seattle, and so on…

And I predict some travel with the trio to several foreign countries in the last quarter of twenty-ten… (((and that’s all I am going to say for now unless you torture me or tempt me with presents)))

On gospel, Abba and the death of the record: an audience with Brian Eno
Eno spoke to Paul Morley for the Guardian.

Here is Morley’s description of Eno:

As an intellectually mobile loner, scene-setter, systems lover, obstinate rebel, techno-prophet, sensual philosopher, courteous progressive, close listener, gentle heretic, sound planner, adviser explorer, pedant and slick conceptual salesman, and devoted fan of the new, undrab and surprising, wherever it fell between John Cage and Little Richard, or Duchamp and doo wop, or Mondrian and Moog, Eno busily and bossily remodelled pop music during the 70s.

Eno on recording techniques of classical music:

Take Steve Reich. He was an important composer for me with his early tape pieces and his way of having musicians play a piece each at different speeds so that they slipped out of synch.

“But then when he comes to record a piece of his like, say, Drumming, he uses orchestral drums stiffly played and badly recorded. He’s learnt nothing from the history of recorded music. Why not look at what the pop world is doing with recording, which is making incredible sounds with great musicians who really feel what they play. It’s because in Reich’s world there was no real feedback. What was interesting to them in that world was merely the diagram of the piece, the music merely existed as an indicator of a type of process. I can see the point of it in one way, that you just want to show the skeleton, you don’t want a lot of fluff around it, you just want to show how you did what you did.As a listener who grew up listening to pop music I am interested in results. Pop is totally results-oriented and there is a very strong feedback loop. Did it work? No. We’ll do it differently then. Did it sell? No. We’ll do it differently then. So I wanted to bring the two sides together.

I have had similar experiences, where I was asked to just play the written notes without any change in tone or other expression. Which is why it was important to me that I could express myself on Leaning into the Night.

Eno on the ridiculous acoustic guitar:

“Instruments sound interesting not because of their sound but because of the relationship a player has with them. Instrumentalists build a rapport with their instruments which is what you like and respond to. If you were sitting down now to design an instrument you would not dream of coming up with something as ridiculous as an acoustic guitar. It’s a strange instrument, it’s very limited and it doesn’t sound good. You would come up with something much better. But what we like about acoustic guitars is players who have had long relationships with them and know how to do something beautiful with them. You don’t have that with synthesisers yet. They are a very new instrument. They are constantly renewing so people do not have time to build long relationships with them. So you tend to hear more of the technology and less of the rapport. It can sound less human.

Yes, it is a strange instrument. Hard to capture (((just listen to nylon-stringed guitar recordings from the middle of the last century – not very pleasing))), hard to amplify, hard to play
This made me smile and I sent the quote to Jon:

“The other day I heard a band who had the worst singer, the most out of time drummer and most out of tune guitarist I’ve ever heard on a professional record, and I thought, at last, the reaction against pro-tools perfection has set in. A pro-tools engineer would have sorted it all out, but this band was an actual celebration of human frailty. It was so rough it was really encouraging.”

The whole interview is quite good. Read it all here.

Piracy continues to cripple music industry as global sales fall 10% | Business |
The IFPI estimates that 95% of music downloads worldwide are illegal.

He dismissed critics’ arguments about why piracy remained so widespread, saying surveys showed consumers’ reasoning was “because it’s free and because we can. It’s not more complex than that, not a better offering, not a better service. It’s because it free and because we can.”

Music sales are down. That’s not really news, as it has been a pretty steady decline.

But, this is rather worrying: less local artists are signed and/or released. That makes sense, of course. Which record label will want to invest into a new artist when said artist is not likely to sell any albums. Check out this info from France, Spain and Brazil:

Global music industry in numbers | Business |
Investment is falling in major markets. In France, 107 local artists’ albums were released in the first half of 2009, 60% down on the same period of 2003. New signings of French artists also fell by 60%, from 91 in the first half of 2002 to 35 in the same period of 2009. Overall investment in marketing and promotion by the French music industry fell 9% in the first six months of 2009.

• In Spain, in 2009 no new Spanish artist featured in the top 50 album charts, compared with 10 in 2003. Overall, unit sales of Spanish artists’ albums fell by an estimated 65% between 2004 and 2009.

• In Brazil, music sales fell by 43% between 2005 and 2009. In 2008 there were only 67 full-priced local artists’ albums released by the five major companies in Brazil – just a tenth of the number (625) a decade earlier in 1998.

These days the best advice one can give to a young musician is to tour, tour and tour. In the Eighties and Nineties one toured to advertise one’s album. Now one’s album is there to advertise the live performance.

Email exchange:

I was curious if you saw this show on PBS last night. I would think it applied directly to you since I would imagine you are sampled a lot.

My reply:

Is it mildly depressing? Very depressing?

I have come to live with piracy and theft… it’s like this: have you been to India? After a while you stop chasing away every fly. Takes too much energy and distracts from everything else around you. If the fly stays off of your food, it’s not a problem. Hell, if it stays far enough away from my “bite-region” I am fine with the fly sitting on my food…

There are remix hits in India that illegally sampled my guitar playing (((from older, fully copyrighted music))) … not worth going after. An experienced entertainment lawyer is about $250-400/hour – yes, at least they are still making money off of music!

Thanks for the link,

More email:
Yesterday I sent out the January newsletter and quickly received this inquiry:

Hi I hope you can make FLORIDA Tampa, Sarasota or somewhere on the west coast of Florida.

My reply:

We played there two weeks ago.

And last, but not least this email:

I checked the Boulton Center in Bayshore, New York for the May 1 performance and it is not listed.

I contacted the Boulton Center and they are saying that they never booked you and didn’t know who Ottmar Liebert is!! I find that amazing!

Anyway, please clarify as I would love to see Ottmar Liebert in concert near my hometown.

My agent’s reply:

Hi Ottmar…this just got confirmed so the building may not even know yet…

There you have it. Good thing I only list confirmed gigs!

Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-01-21 @ 09:01

More snow yesterday…

simplicity in all directions « neo bohemia
To the right books;
to the left, a tea cup.
In front of me, the fireplace;
behind me, the post.
There is no greater happiness than this.
– Teiga,

Atole makes for a great breakfast in Winter. Here is my recipe:
One measure (1/2 – 2/3 cup per person) Blue Corn Atole (e.g. Los Chileros de Nueva Mexico)
Two measures milk
One measure water
Mix together.
Cook, stirring constantly until it thickens.
Direct link to Atole

You soar out of yourself
with your poems shining like feathers…

I, too, have tried-drinking,
and dashing a watch against the red wall
of the night-covered Forbidden City
without stopping time,
or producing a single line. Not like you,
I drown myself in a cup.

Part of a poem by Qiu Xiaolong, from the book Lines Around China: Lines Out Of China.
Li Bai (701-762) was a well-known Tang dynasty poet.
Book ordered.

Speaking about books… since this December post I read the following books (((I read them on Kindle for iPhone – except where noted))):

Qiu Xiaolong’s Inspector Chen Cao series:
Death of a Red Heroine
A Loyal Character Dancer (Barnes & Noble ebook)
When Red Is Black
Red Mandarin Dress
The Mao Case

The Abyssinian Proof – Jenny White (Barnes & Noble ebook) (((not as good as The Sultan’s Seal, but contains some nice descriptions of old Istanbul)))

Night Train to Lisbon – Pascal Mercier

The Godfather of Kathmandu – John Burdett (((this is the fourth thriller to feature Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Burdett’s books are not for the faint of heart. You might not like them if you think the West is the best. Burdett, in the guise of his half-breed protagonist Sonchai Jitpleecheep, often pokes fun at the Western mind-set. The books are filled with a captivating mix of violence, spirituality and sex… more info: John Burdett’s website and John Burdett on Wikipedia))) – The Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog: 30 km/h Zones Work
Conclusions: 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.

Hang on… did they just say that we have an effective measure for reducing road injuries and death?! What are we waiting for then?

In this BBC article, study leader Dr Chris Grundy, a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “This evidence supports the rationale for 20mph zones, not just in major cities in Britain, but also in similar metropolitan areas elsewhere.

“Indeed, even within London, there is a case for extending the currently limited provision of such zones to other high casualty roads.”

He estimated that 20mph zones in London save 200 lives a year, but this could increase to 700 if plans to extend the zones were implemented.

I am all for it. Maybe car manufacturers will add a little button to the dash that turns on a city-driving-mode. It would limit the speed of the vehicle to 20mph and chart a low-revving, super-efficient, gasoline-saving engine program.

Oh, and the tallest building in the world opened recently in Dubai. Here is a photo. The ‘Burj Khalifa’ is 828 meters or 2,716.5 ft tall.

Two Years Ago

02010-01-21 @ 05:01

I get up a little before 4AM and start to get ready. While I shower this comes into my mind:
Whatever you want, this world has it.
If it is greed and ignorance you are looking for, we got that.
Selfishness and inflated egos, yes, got that.
Hatred and violence, yes, plenty.
but also…
Poetry and wonder, yes.
Love and care and gentleness, yes.
Beauty, creativity and awe, yes.
Disliking greed and ignorance does not make it go away. Instead we notice more of it.
Hating violence and hatred doesn’t make them go away. It amplifies them and we see hate and violence everywhere.

Sure, we may know this. But, it slips my mind all the time.

All that and a marvelous moon!

Touring Schedule

02010-01-20 @ 13:01

We are adding more dates to our Spring and Summer schedule – with more to come.

Spring – East Coast

Summer – West Coast

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02010-01-20 @ 08:01

Taking a break from shoveling snow yesterday to take a photo of my shadow:

Nice musical editing:

Thanks for the link Y.

I have no knowledge of myself as I am, but merely as I appear to myself.
– Immanuel Kant

Recently read that quote somewhere. Since we are not objective observers, who knows how incredibly faulty that reflection is. Better assume it is riddled with distortions. Or better yet, let’s assume it is not solid at all, and rather liquid, shape-shifting from moment to moment.

My two favorite uses of the induction stove I bought a few months ago: it boils water for tea very very quickly and can cook food slowly and very precisely, great for rice-pudding or atole for example. The stove can heat food at an exact temperatur, like say 180ºF for slow-cooking. Also great for heating sake to a specific temperatur and keeping it there.


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