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I’m old because I remember MTV playing music video always, and I’m up early enough to watch AMTV

My Semi-Annual Plea: Please stop the madness with the clock shifting. Pick one and run with it.

Please.

The coffee isn’t working today.

Sometimes the wave hits you
Sometimes you’re under the wave
Sometimes you’re in the wave
Sometimes you ride the wave
Sometimes you are the wave

The rate at which I am losing elders in my family is alarming. I’ve made it into my fifties before feeling that way, for which I count myself fortunate. But I’m getting closer to the front of the line and it is sobering.

Bluejays and cardinals at the feeder. They are lovely in the morning sun

Listening to a lot of Echodrone, today. Bought two albums and am excited for a new release next month.

Music saves.

I have a non-neurotypical daughter in a school system that has doubled-down on the use of law enforcement, restraint, and seclusion to control the student population. I’m not okay with this policy and we are opting out of the traditional school system after this school year.

I will say this about social media: It is what I make it. I have stolen a strategy from Mr. Rogers, which is to find the helpers. In this case? I subcribe to or follow the helpers. There are so many people who are trying to make a difference. I am so grateful.

My biggest professional challenge is to adjust my thinking from a tactically-thinking individual to a more strategically-thinking manager. This is something I want to do well. Is there a support group for that? Is it called Everyone? Do they meet at the drinking-establishment?

Being able to speak a text message to my watch is something I didn’t realize I would like so much.

Listened to Ulrich Schnauss’ single Asteroid 2467 and I was struck by how much it sounded like something Robin Guthrie might compose. If you agree with me or if you don’t, I’m thrilled because that is a frame of reference I’m happy to learn others share.

It doesn’t make sense for the left hand to punch the right hand, nor for the right leg to kick the left. We are part of the same body. We work better together.

Bags are very much a Goldilocks thing for me. Size, capacity, pockets, compartments. I went small recently and then larger and just haven’t got it quite right. I’ve have been through briefcases, Big backpacks and Small messenger bags. Right now moving to a medium, custom messenger bag from Timbuk2. Fingers crossed.

Midnight made it to our slice of the globe. Happy New Year, Everyone!

The annual retrospectives reviewing who has left this mortal coil continue to become more poignant and painful.

Easy to get lost in dark thoughts.

The challenge is to shine brighter.

Half-day at work, then cleared the drive of snow. Grateful for snow throwers. Husqvarna has been good to me.

I miss getting to know the contestants on The Voice. These short seasons seem too rushed and it’s getting harder to care.

I also miss being able to buy the killer performances on iTunes.

#TheVoice

What I have realized is that photos can’t capture thoughts or feelings. Not exactly. They don’t capture the love we feel, the joy of a certain moment, the sense of place we may feel, or a feeling of belonging with family or friends. They just capture the light in the moment the shutter is released by causing a chemical reaction in a film or sensors in an array to record their states.

In this, photographs lie to us by showing an objective truth.

The image evokes recollection, or the image transports us through time, or invites us into a new way of seeing, challenges notions or perspectives.

The art in photography is that it makes us think and feel, even though our thoughts and feelings may only be loosely related to the subjects of our gazes.

All this from photons, transformed, in the tiniest slices of time.

When I snapped this image, I had been enjoying the contrast of the dark tree limbs against the orange and amber of the sunset.

By the time it occurred to me to attempt to capture it, launch my camera app on my phone, and frame an image I hoped might not be hideous, the sky changed.

The image doesn’t show any of that. Just an amateurish shot by someone who intended well.

But I remember.

Trust no political party.

The evidence continues to suggest they are more interested in having us fight each other than in enacting lasting beneficial change.

Territories

Spent some time this morning watching shows about politics and shows about the consequences of political conflict.

Any time we think of groups of people that include friends, neighbors and family as an enemy, I wonder if we aren’t then the problem. I’m including myself, here.

I do hereby disavow political parties. I will continue to study and learn. I will be performing my civic duty this fall to the best of my ability.

I’m neither happy nor hopeful.

The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don’t feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can’t really feel
What international means
In different circles
We keep holding our ground
Indifferent circles
We keep spinning round and round

—Lyric by Rush

“The Greeks had no original sin and no eschatology because they saw nothing inherently wrong with the world in the first place.”

Things you find reading papers from Academia for the joy of it

Music can return me to times, places, and states of mind in a way that almost no other carrier-of-meaning can. I spent time in motion behind a lawn mower this afternoon while listening to music and letting my mind go free.

I have realized that I am still everything I have become.

But I assert that I am not done becoming.

To speak is to risk being misunderstood.

Please allow me to quote heavily from The Bard Terence McKenna—this selection comes from a discussion about language:

We use rapidly modulated small mouth noises. As primates we have incredible ability to make small mouth noises. We can do this for up to six hours at a stretch without tiring. No other thing we can do approaches the level of variation with low energy investment that the small mouth noises do. A person using a deaf-and-dumb language is exhausted after forty-five minutes.

But a problem with the small mouth noises mode of communication is: I have a thought, I look in a dictionary that I have created out of my life experience, I map the thought onto the dictionary, I make the requisite small mouth noises, they cross physical space, they enter your ear, you look in your dictionary, which is different from my dictionary, but if we speak what we call ‘the same language’ it will be close enough that you will ‘sort of’ understand what I mean. Now if I don’t say to you, ‘what do I mean?’ you and I will go gaily off in the assumption that we understand each other.

I stand behind my words.

What do I mean?

Preserving Audio Formats

Thinking about old forms of media, I am torn about attempting to digitize old formats versus (re)buying. Something like an old movie on a DVD is low hanging fruit, as is music on CDs. I’ve long had CDs ripped and am working on movies.

But cassettes and vinyl—there is a labor of love. Transcribing happens in real time, then editing is necessary to separate tracks dubbed during the session…

There is great equipment available to do a good job of this, even for a home hobbyist.

The issue is time.

And releasing music I can find no other way.

Imported just 7 posts from an old blog into my current home. Exported from Blogger, imported to WordPress, exported from WordPress, then imported to Micro.blog. It’s just that easy. Then I spent hours re-linking media and switching categories.

Having dietary concerns is a minefield. I dangerously assumed a special order I made for home delivery was correct. But the worst part is that I didn’t confirm and I ate it.

#celiac

Just dumped out a bunch of water at my desk. It doesn’t happen often, but every time it does I’m frustrated that I’m not more cautious, that I’m not using lids.

Water bottles are kinda tippy.

Lids are frustrating.

And around we go.

Is it just me with the disappointment that now even our TV screens must be rebooted?

Music is such a strange, personal journey. In my twenties I really didn’t think I could get enough fast, noisy techno. Today I’m seeking out shoegaze and dream pop at about half of the tempo. But still loud. Still has to be loud enough to feel.

The universal plea of the person with more than one device talking to the same service: Can’t notifications go away over here when I acknowledged them over there?

DISC assessment at work, today. The difference between my perception of myself and the perception others have of me is instructive and astonishing at once.

I’m a C when I’m in novel situations or under stress. I’m an I when I’m confortable and in my element.

That feeling when I’m searching iTunes and my music collection for an album that I know I own. Except I don’t. I did have the artist right, and I was close to the correct year of release, but 100 percent wrong on the album cover art.

Dear Coffee,

I am just writing to let you know how much I appreciate all that you do for me.

In gratitude,

Hjalmer

Noted:

It’s a privilege to learn about racism rather than to experience it.

So, yeah. I’m on the east side of St. Paul and I’m lucky not much has come close to me. But I started to cry when I saw this advice on screen.

Here is the full list

  • Be off the streets at 8:00 p.m.
  • Be aware of suspicious activities/groups
  • Be aware of large gatherings
  • Call 911 if you are witnessing suspicious activity
  • Remove anything from your lawn that could be flammable or a projectile through a window
  • Store dumpsters in your garage or move to hidden area in back yard. Consider wetting down the inside contents if they have to be left outside in view.
  • Keep LIGHTS ON and some windows open to hear noises that may be approaching. (use caution with windows that may be easily asked from the ground)
  • Have an escape plan and a to-go bag (remember to take along any medicines you may need)
  • If you need to be outside wear headlamp, bright colors and reflective clothing
  • Charge cell phones. Cell towers might go out
  • Have alternative ways to communicate with your neighbors and help them to make a plan in case things do get bad.
  • Have garden hoses ready and untangled for possible use.
  • Check your flood lights; door lights; KEEP THEM ON.
  • Soak down wood fences and surfaces
  • If you have a Little Free Library-empty it.
  • If you have a fire extinguisher-get it ready
  • Check on each other-especially older neighbors, and the vulnerable.
  • For those who choose to stand outside, watching homes or businesses, do not confront anyone. Call 911, call another neighbor to be with you.

Is Memorial Listening a thing?

I think a bunch of old guys like me are thinking about Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, The Spirit of the Radio and similar topics whilst playing giant drum kits in our heads.

That feeling when I had left the edit window open but forgot what I had intended to write

Today marks the first day I was asked if I was eligible for a Senior Discount

I had always imagined that fatherhood would be instructive. I had no way to know how profound it might be.

I mention culture because I fear the contribution I can make as an individual isn’t enough. Or, worse, that the ideas I have about peace, love and understanding aren’t real. That’s not who humans are. We should not aspire.

I feel dumb. It took me too long to locate the song-rating functionality in the iOS 13 beta. I had thought Apple was removing it. I spent lots of time mentally architecting a solution that proved to be completely unnecessary.

The more I think about writing, the more difficult the act itself seems to become.

That feeling when you go to the break room, there’s nobody to wait for, the coffee carafe is full, and you make no spills

Fragility Base

I watched two movies about the Apollo Space Program this weekend.

The experience is very complex for me, emotionally. The experience of writing this post is an attempt to define what it means.

I had read recently about a film that was making its way through festivals and Friday I tried to figure out what it was called. But I might be wrong about its provenance. And while I couldn’t remember a title or find what I thought I was looking for, I did find some documentaries available online which seemed to cover similar ground.

The first documentary is called For All Mankind. It was released in 1989, several years after the Challenger disaster.

It was about all of the lunar missions, though the footage and narration was respective to the individual missions.

I found myself full of the same wonder today as I have always had.

In my lifetime, there has always been a space program. For a while, while I was younger, I believed there would be an opportunity for me to at least get to orbit. After all, at Christmastime in my first year of life, we orbited the moon. And not long after that, mission after mission got us to the surface of the moon itself.

When the Shuttle program was announced, I felt it was a natural progression. Of course we were going to have space planes. Of course we were going to find ways to make space travel easier and less expensive.

I remember well in my senior year of high school when Challenger failed. I felt disbelief and horror. My Chemistry teacher had submitted ideas for experiments to be carried aloft on that flight. One of my classmates figured out early on that an easy way to derail his lectures was to ask about the space program and his chances. I loved it. My chemistry teacher did, too.

I checked out books from the school library full of illustrations and speculations about what space craft might look like. What would space stations be used for? Would we build colonies in space? Could we survive on other planets?

It seemed, once, like there might have been an imperative. So many books and TV series and movies that I consumed pointed up to the sky and out of the solar system. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Six-Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Star Wars, Cosmos, Alien, Cosmos, even Blade Runner, all showed me this was not only possible but normal.

And so, the footage re-assembled in For All Mankind returned the feeling of wonder and the sense of the imperative to me. And I have missed that. As much as the movie is about the missions, it also is a fun window into a brief time and place.

The second film I found is In the Shadow of the Moon. This is a much different film. While it is about the same events in the Apollo missions, the context and the subject is the recollection of the experience by many of the surviving astronauts. How they felt about their roles and what they remembered about their thoughts as events transpired.

I learned that the astronauts themselves were involved in the design of the craft they flew. I learned that astronauts were on the ground working as part of mission control as the missions were in progress.

And I learned the astronauts were taken by the perception of people around the world that we all were a part of the missions, that the success of the missions belongs to all of humanity. They have been greeted for the rest of their lives not with “You did it!” but rather with “We did it!”

I was profoundly struck by the final few minutes when clearly the astronauts were asked how they were affected, and how their perspective has changed. I found it deeply moving and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone considering watching it.

I’d definitely re-watch either film. For me it was very bittersweet. I hope someday we can stop poking at each other for sport. I hope someday we can take stock of the amazing gifts we have and consider the what we can leave behind for those generations we will never know.

POSTSCRIPT

The movie I had read about is called Apollo 11. It’s going to be released first in IMAX, then in traditional theatres shortly thereafter.

That thing where you pre-order a book and forget about it until it arrives at your door…

It’s fun to live in the future. I added a page to my blog and filled it full of thoughts from my head with a device small enough to fit in my hand–and with no cabling. It still feels like magic, even speaking as an old techy.

Those days when it’s so cold it hurts to hold the steering wheel… hoping you’re all staying safe and comfortable

Tried a poke bowl for the first time tonight. I loved it. Would absolutely recommend it.

I wish I was half the typist my fingers would have me believe! #thispostmaybetypofree #iwillprobablyfindsomethethingwrongwithitonceitslive

Again I must record that I have not learned to write music, so I cannot share what I hear. Must fix. Must fix.

Three Things Left at Home

Three. Three is the running count of items that are currently not with me.

  1. Wallet: Stored in the correct place, but I did not perform my usual check before I left the house
  2. Key: Placed in a shirt pocket and not returned to its usual storage location at my work desk. The key should not have made it to my house.
  3. Food item: Intended to bring for lunch. I did bring two out of three things that I intended to bring, but I am frustrated that I did not verify what I had with me before I left the house. I am easily vexed by doing things out of order, by the simple placement of items outside of normal locations, and by my internal dialog which distracts or confuses me from whatever my intended course may be.

While I did leave the house fully bathed, fully dressed, and arrived to work on-time, I still need to work on systems that result in more consistent execution.

Music Is a Time Machine

I listened to parts of two different albums tonight.

When I first listened to each album, my life couldn’t have been more different, emotionally. The albums were released only a few years apart, but one came during a happier time and another came during a dark descent.

Listening to each one, tonight, brought back places, names and faces.

Funny, the places one can travel, just by picking an album out of a list.

AutoRip, My Purchase History, I Can't Remember All of It, And I Don't Know Enough

Tonight, I signed up for Amazon’s free cloud player service—specifically because of news items I read about Amazon’s new AutoRip service.

AutoRIP is something that ought to have been done a long time ago. If you buy a qualifying CD, subject to the terms of licensing between Amazon and the major record labels, you get the dics shipped to your house and you get an electronic copy placed in your Amazon Cloud Player library. These electronic copies are back-dated as well. Amazon says any qualifying CD purchase since 1998 also (eventually) will be put into your Cloud Player.

So, naturally, I had to sign up for the free account. As an aside, I learned that you can store 250,000 tracks in your cloud player for $25 per year. This is ten times the music that iTunes Match allows for the same price. I find myself tempted to store music here, too. (This has changed. iTunes Match allows 100,000 tracks)

Of the few CDs that Amazon initially has put into my Cloud Player library is a CD I purchased in November of 2004 by an artist whose name I am not familiar with. In fact I do not even know where I would have heard about the album at all. What’s more, I don’t see the CD on my shelving which is a concern because I try to strictly alphabetize by artist and album.

This doesn’t mean I never had it. This doesn’t mean that the album isn’t associated with my Cloud Player account by mistake, either.

I don’t know.

I have binged and purged music, bought, sold, gifted and traded. But this one just doesn’t ring a bell at all.

Lhasa - The Living Road

Update: Most of the discs I’ve bought have been via Amazon’s web site, but actually were purchased from a lot of private sellers. So those will never show up via AutoRip and therefore I am sad.

When All the Music I Love Is, Basically, a Database

I have a large iTunes library. It doesn’t represent everything I have ever heard, nor everything I have ever loved, nor even everything I own. But that iTunes library is becoming a beast to manage.

There is SO much data about the music—that isn’t the music—but is integral.

Recently I have made it a personal project to make sure a single piece of information exists for each track: the release date, the day it became available for sale to the public.

I began this project because I was completely dismayed at the amount of music I have imported into my library without a date at all, and also frustrated by the number of albums imported with a re-release date instead of the original release date. The re-release date to me is like restoring a 1966 Ford Mustang and then saying it is a current-year Ford Mustang. No. Therefore, even when an album is remastered a second or third time, it is still a product of its era.

The release date is important to me. I remember where and when a piece of music was first a part of my life. I remember the order albums were released by favorite artists. So, when I sort my library by date, I want it to match that experience. For example, when I was a Freshman in high school, there was a radio show from midnight to 2 AM on Monday mornings where I first heard Mad World by Tears for Fears. This is opposed to the first time I heard Shout, also by Tears for Fears. I was a Junior in high school by then. I walked into Musicland in the Ridgedale mall in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It was playing in store and I bought the cassette on the spot. So my iTunes library had better get it right.

Aside: In the movie High Fidelity, the protagonist spends significant time sorting his collection of albums chronologically by relationship. This makes enormous sense to me.

Back to data: that raw list of data—disembodied though it is from the music—is becoming something I refer to much as I used to refer to liner notes, those tiny cassette j-cards, or the somewhat larger CD booklets. I don’t always remember the details, so I want iTunes to be true.

Another case where I find date information jarring is with “greatest hits” or other career-spanning collections of songs. The date associated with a song in this case is often the release date of the collection. Yet, that date might be decades removed from when a song in the collection was originally released. This is important to me because I have playlists built by decade. When I am hearing Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, which Kylie Minogue released in 2002 (in the US), I don’t necessarily want the next track I hear to be _Mother’s Little Helper_ just because the Rolling Stones’ “Forty Licks” compilation was also released in 2002.

Speaking of which, it took the “Forty Licks” compilation to make me realize I am a bigger ‘Stones fan than I thought, particularly with material released before 1970. I also now have a more profound respect for their career longevity. They are still making music.

So, in my iTunes library, the songs from “Forty Licks” all reflect the year they were released as singles, with the exception of the four tracks that appear nowhere else—those tracks stay in 2002, though I did for a long time consider dating them from the sessions in which they were recorded. I have reconsidered this position repeatedly.

There are still about 3,000 items in my library that are un-dated.

Don’t even get me started on missing or incorrect album art.

I will be researching music for a long time to come.

This post was brought to you by WikiPedia, Discogs.org, and Google Image Search.

There Is No Bad Music, An Introduction

I don’t claim any special privilege, knowledge, education or access. Like many friends, and friends I haven’t met, I simply love music.

I got my first portable FM radio somewhere around the Christmas of 1978, and I have been trying to carry music everywhere with me ever since. It means that much to me.

In 1990 I went to work at a record store. You see, I thought I knew about music. I had been actively listening to radio and watching MTV and going to other record stores. I must have had a few hundred cassettes and dozens of LPs and dozens of CDs by then.

I found out that I didn’t know much. The next four years blew my head open, again and again. The reality was, despite what I knew, the information flowed in reverse: I was learning from customers and coworkers. I was forced to confront my many biases because they got in the way.

I learned that the amount of beautiful music never played on radio, never on TV shows, never in movies, never in clubs, is astonishing. In fact, it is overwhelming.

It is impossible to keep up, to keep current, to be aware of all scenes, or to keep just one scene alive.

Music is a vast and deep ocean. Changing a perspective just slightly cracks open new ways to appreciate what you hear, to develop a feel for where it came from and for why it must be. Look at genealogies and chronologies of influences and genres. Consider political movements, cultural identity and social issues. Look at how technology has affected everything: production, performance, distribution, storage, spectacle, and ultimately what it means to be an artist.

What is harder to explain, and what makes music so deeply personal, is that something in a musical passage that sends chills up your spine, the lyric that always makes your voice break, or that sound that insists that you must move.

I hope to write about all of those things. But I warn you I probably won’t do it in any sort of ordered or organized fashion. I hope to impart a sense of wonder. And I hope that I keep learning.

Note: Because Billy Joel once lamented “…You can’t get the sound because it’s only in a magazine…” (It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me from Glass Houses), I hope to provide links to lyrics and videos where they exist and when appropriate.