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Friday, April 29, 2011

Pageantry-with-a-purpose reaffirming the world order

It's the popular-dude day of the week, Friday. Today he's brought what might be sunshine with him (though this has already turned to rain by the time I finished this post), and is pulling the promise of a somewhat-nice-weather weekend behind him. We cheer thee, most-popular dude, our weather demands are pathetically easy to satisfy.

When I first woke the Olympic mountains were out. Dark cloud cover extended across the sky from where I stood all the way West toward the Olympics, but stopped just short of those snowy peaks. They were awash in early morning sunlight, and the effect was beautiful. By the time I drove in the clouds had reached the mountains and a perfectly horizontal band of dark sliced off the tops of the mountains. The rest of them were still washed in golden sunlight, so it looked like a frieze, under an accent light, running across a dark wall.

But clearly none of this is important. Not when the world is abuzz about the royal wedding (or should that be Royal Wedding?). Consuming something like $50 million dollars of the worlds resources plus the costs associated with all the media broadcasting and access, the world's disenfranchised can rest easy knowing that the order of extreme privilege has not been disrupted. With pageantry that could have fed thousands, two privileged kids have been wed and, with any luck, will bless the Royal Family with an heir so that this righteous world order will be generationally and genetically preserved.

Did you watch? Were you sucked into blessing this event by virtue of the carefully choreographed use of tradition and pageantry, designed to appeal to our equally-carefully-managed conditioning? This is the same conditioning that produces a high school graduate who cannot read above a fourth grade level or reliably manipulate numbers but who will, when confronted with a flag in a public ceremony, instinctively snap to attention and slap his hand to his breast before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. He may not be able to recite even one of the formulas for calculating slope, but he will be able to recite this pledge all his life. This kind of conditioning ceremony is how we maintain a world order.

I have seen many headlines already this morning referring to this wedding as historic. In this sense, it is. By using a wedding to reinforce, globally, the message that we all need and adore the privileged classes, we have lead the world's citizens to once again clasp their hands to their breasts and swear allegiance to the extreme stratification of power, wealth, and privilege.

Don't be fooled. The royal family (sorry, that should be Royal Family) and governments of the world don't spend $50 million just to give a couple of sweet kids a beautiful wedding. It wasn't televised and Facebooked live just to allow the common folk a chance to share in the Royal Family's personal joy.

It was, however, historic. Historic pageantry-with-a-purpose reaffirming the world order, around the globe, to a hungry, needy, war-torn, displaced, pillaged, resource-raped world. The message: "Be warm, be filled, we are still here, we will still look out for you. You may now turn back to your regularly scheduled squalid-for-our-sakes lives, quietly and orderly please. Thank you very much for tuning in."

My regularly schedule life, right about now, was a short set of tunes randomly presented by my iPod on my way to the campus. Not a Royal tune among them, though Peer Gynt certainly makes for an interesting counterpoint.

- Bob Florence Limited: Tres Palabras
- Moments of Grace: Broken Promises
- Donald Fagen: I.G.Y.
- Tim Story: The Death of Ase from "Peer Gynt Suite"

- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day two of the iPad-only experiment and Dark Tomorrows

It's Thursday, the great pretender. Today, though, I'm not buying it. It feels exactly like Thursday ought to feel, which is deep into the week and with a first faint whisp of hope for a coming couple of days of down time. Thursday jumps out and says, "Guess who I am now?" I reply, with confidence, "Thursday." If Thursday is disappointed it doesn't show this early in the day.

Day one of the forced iPad-only experiment went just fine. Here is what I wanted to do yesterday but couldn't: send an email with four documents attached, and print a file. There is no way to do that (apart from images). Because the file directory structure is not exposed in iOS, you have to rely on third part apps which offer an option to email the file you are working with. That makes it a one at a time proposition. Printing is marginally supported, but not with the very old network printer in my office. So I use an app running only laptop which makes any printers it can see available to my iPad. Works great when the laptop is running. Since it is dead, so is my ability to print.

Still, those were the only two things I was frustrated by yesterday. Go Hermes! I still haven't been willing to tackle that presentation I need to be working on, though.

Today's commute music was interesting. Folk, jazz, rock, jazz, rock. It finished up with Cockburn's All Our Dark Tomorrows. The song was written during the most-recent Bush administration (which is probably obvious given the opening line) and the lyrics are lastingly superb:

The village idiot takes the throne
His the wind in which all must sway
All sane people, die now
Be lifted up and carried away
You've got no home in this world of sorrows

There's a parasite feeding on
Everybody's bag of rage
What goes out returns again
To smite the mouth and burn the page
Under the rain of all our dark tomorrows

I can see in the dark it's where I used to live
I see excess and the gaping need
Follow the money - see where it leads
It's to shrunken men stuffed up with greed
They meet and make plans in strange half-lit tableaux

Under the rain of all our dark tomorrows

You've got no home in this world of sorrows

Today's full playlist:

- Bruce Cockburn: A Long-Time Love Song
- Claude Bolling & Stephan Grapelli: De Partout Et D'Ailleurs
- Traveling Wilburys: Dirty World
- Karl Denson: A Shorter Path #1
- Bruce Cockburn: All Our Dark Tomorrows

- Posted via Hermes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wistful for a sea-green Hermes

Wednesday morning and, despite the forecast, the weather looks promising. By the time I got to the campus I was wondering why I hadn't dropped the top on the Miata.

My iPod was still in my backpack this morning, so it was NPR on the way in. I listened to stories about Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate (hooray USA, the bigots and stupid people won another round, aren't we an impressive bunch. Not.), the latest attempts to engineer a way out of all the lethally radioactive sludge at the Hanford "reservation," and flooding in the Midwest.

On a similarly newsy note, I read last night that last typewriter company in the world closed it's doors. I feel a bit sad about this, even though I haven't used a typewriter in years and don't miss having to retype an entire paper to fix a problem on page one. I used to repair typewriters, working at a business machines company when I was in high school. I have owned several typewriters over the years, and my two favorites were both portable manuals (for the youngsters in the crowd, that means they didn't use electricity, were lighter than a ship's anchor, and had a case you could carry them around in): a portable Smith-Corona manual and my all time favorite, a sea-green Hermes 3000 manual, the same model used by Jack Kerouac (said machine selling for $22k via Christies last year).

I think this machine started my love of technology, and particularly for technology that blended both form and function. Sleek, colorful, beautifully designed, it not not only got work done for me, it made using it a pleasure. It was as beautiful to look at as it was easy to use. Just look at that picture and tell me you wouldn't love to bang out a few sentences on it! And portable really did mean you could work away from the office, campus, house. No screen glare, no battery life concerns, no electricity needed. Didn't even need wireless. Did require also packing books and any other reference materials you might need, though. No apps, no Facebook.

I traded the Hermes in on a portable electric Smith-Corona when I first headed off to university, later bought an older S-C manual just to have one again, and always regretted getting rid of my sea-green Hermes.

Now skip forward a few more years than I would like to admit. My keyboard technology of preference is an equally beautiful piece of form and function-blending goodness, an iPad. I am now going to push the envelope of what all I can do with this delightful piece of technology, however, since my office laptop (my only workplace computer) just died. Until the replacement unit arrives via ground shipment, my personal iPad is all I have. So today marks the start of a new adventure: can I do all of my work computing on my iPad alone? Most of it, no problem. But if I need to whip out a Google spreadsheet or create a presentation from scratch (and with two campus budget forums scheduled next week, both are a given) it gets a little bit harder. As I have no choice, no options at hand, this will be a real test; no sneaking over to my laptop to do "real" work. Should be a fun challenge.

Also, in honor of the passing of the typewriter I have decided to name my iPad Hermes (I don't know that I have ever named a piece of technology before). Now if I could only find a sea-green case for it, I'd be in technology heaven!

- Posted via iPad/Hermes

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Damp spring and popular lyrical sexism

Tuesday, the almost Monday, is here again. Still wet and cloudy, though I was almost fooled into dropping the top on the way in this morning.  It looked like it just might be overcast more than dripping (and it's easy enough to reach over my shoulder and yank the top back over my head if it starts to drip), but something held me back.  The wipers were in use within a couple of blocks.

Specifically because of the wet, the green knob has been cranked over to the full-on position.  I noticed it especially on the drive home last night.  If I took my eyes just up above the street I saw rich (damp) green everywhere.  Rich, lush, fully-foliated spring greens.  Like the old piece of "Bronx poetry:"

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where dem boidies iz
Der liddle boids is on der wing
Ain't dat absoid,
der liddle wingz is on der boid

We so often listen to music and lyrics without really focusing on what we're listening to.  Given a good tune to harmonize with, we'll sing along full throated in the car, shower, or wherever we allow ourselves to break loose.  But stop and listen to what we're singing now and then....

The Eagles were doing a bit of stereotypical sexism in melody this morning with their classic, The Girl From Yesterday.  Here is a song most of us could sing by heart, but which posits a woman whose whole worth is defined by a guy who has left her.  Consequently, "she will always be the girl from yesterday."  Note the use of the word "girl" for woman. She is a possession, to be pitied, subject to the vagaries of the owning gender.  She has no other life value, and without him her life is essentially over.  Stop and look at it for even a minute and the song becomes both pathetic and offensive.

Martin Luther is reputed to have once said that Christians don't tell lies, they sing them (referring to the lyrics).  Not sure why these lyrics surfaced from subconscious to conscious for me this morning, but once they did the song was toast.  My first reaction was a determination to delete it from the library when I get home this evening, but I think, on reflection, I will leave it there.  Now that I know its not-at-all-subtle message it will serve as a reminder whenever it pops up in my collection.  These kinds of cultural biases and signals of power and privilege are so smoothly blended into our everyday everything that they can go unnoticed in plain sight.  Or, as Gary Howard describes it, many of us can indulge in the privilege of ignorance, not having to see or experience these cultural biases.

The rest of the playlist was quite good, and very nicely mixed:

 - Fountains Of Wayne: Comedienne
 - The Eagles:  The Girl From Yesterday
 - Mew: An Envoy to the Open Fields
 - Terence Blanchard: Ghost of Congo Square
 - Pieter Wispelwey: Sonata nr. 4 B Flat Major

Monday, April 25, 2011

Obvious novices at this whole good-weather thing

Monday. Wet and cloudy, again.  I'm not sure which is really the most-typical sort of Monday weather for our part of the world.  It feels like Mondays are always wet and cloudy, but since most days have been wet and cloudy for the past several months, all days feel that way.  On the other hand, the standing PNW weather joke/comment is that we get rain on the weekends and Monday taunts us with all the warmth and sunshine withheld from the weekend.  Today is definitely the former.

We had one glorious day of feels-like-late-spring weather this weekend.  Cars got washed, yards got trimmed up, gardening got done, and people dug out sunglasses and sunscreen.  It was only the one day, which makes us all look a little foolish for our headfirst dive into summerishness, a little over-eager.  We're such obvious novices at this whole good-weather thing.  Looks like we'll get another long while to think about how we want to approach the next nice day.

No posts last week, after Monday.  M. was out of town for the week so I slid into the office a wee bit later than usual in order to minimize the number of hours the boyx had to go without a break during the day.  Their legs are a bit on the short side, so it's hard for them to cross them for too long.  By the time I did come in, there was no early morning quiet in the office after the commute, so no chance to record my playlist and finite musings.  There were some dandy playlist, though. 

That made wanting to do this morning's post surprisingly hard.  While I have set myself a personal goal of making it through one full year of recording the morning playlists, a week off left me questioning why I'm pushing for that particular goal.  It is as arbitrary a date as any I could have set.  There will be no fanfare or recognition for making it.  Maybe a little satisfaction, but probably like the old joke, to paraphrase: meeting this goal is like peeing your pants in a dark suit; it gives you a warm feeling but nobody notices.  My commitment to this particular project is fading.

Today's full playlist:

 - Philip Glass: Help Me (from The Thin Blue Line)
 - Bruce Cockburn: Starwheel
 - Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumble: A Country Dance
 - Tom Harrell: See You At Seven

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bloody Moon Monday & Rocky Raccoon

Monday morning.  Earlier, when I woke, the moon was hanging just over the distant tree tops, bloody orange and dim, startlingly unhealthy looking, in fact.  By the time I left the house, though, he'd slunk back to his bed to, presumably, sleep off whatever bender he'd been on.  The drive in featured patches of blue sky mottled with deep grey clouds spitting feebly here and there.  Between bleary moon and feebly spitting clouds, and combined with my own less-than-perky start to the day, it is clearly Monday.  My morning iced mate (that's a two-syllable word!) is helping me shift back into office-productivity mode. 

50% of the tunes on this morning's playlist came from the same album (a John Barry movie soundtrack), but featuring two different trumpeters. The prematurely late Chet Baker and the very contemporary Chris Botti. Both masters with a unique style, and this album is especially rewarding for being able to hear them both together, even they each hail from a different era.  That was followed by a beautiful rendition of the Lennon tune Imagine, also featuring trumpet.

The Beatles are singing Rocky Raccoon as I type, apropos of nothing but adding a nicely silly touch to the morning. Maybe it's going to be that kind of day.

 - Chris Botti/John Barry: Playing By Heart
 - Bruce Cockburn:  Call Me Rose
 - Chet Baker/John Barry: Tenderly
 - Beatle Jazz: Imagine

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fill yourself up with the forsythias

Thursday, already. This has been a zipping week, as I hear myself preceding each day of this week with the phrase, "Wow, it's already_____!" Anyone who was awake last night will know our local weather was also rushing through it's set list of possibilities. Sunshine (or clear skies after sunset), wind, rain, hail, lashing storm, you name it, it was all part of the show.

Rushed this week may feel, but it is also early spring in the Pacific Northwest, and Gottfried Benn's poem Last Spring feels particularly right for today:

Fill yourself up with the forsythias
and when the lilacs flower, stir them in too
with your blood and happiness and wretchedness,
the dark ground that seems to come with you.

Sluggish days. All obstacles overcome.
And if you say: ending or beginning, who knows,
then maybe—just maybe—the hours will carry you
into June, when the roses blow.

This is, here at least, the time of year to feast our eyes on early blooming beauty like the bright yellow forsythia and flowering cherry trees.

This morning's music was a short list of long tunes, kicking off with a rarity for me: Nine Inch Nails. Generally, I'm not a fan. While Trent Rezner is undisputedly a musical visionary and I do like some of his music, I find his lyrics too angrily self-absorbed to relate to. Angry lyrics are good when they are directed at social injustice, but less my cup of tea when it's "all about me."

The full playlist:
- Nine Inch Nails: Demon Seed
- Jonsi & Alex: Daníelle In the Sea
- Pat Metheny Trio: Son Of Thirteen

- Posted via iPad.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Using a file cabinet to tap a nail

Wednesday, threatening rain, mild temps.  Not a very maleable feeling day, this one feels hard-bitten.  Of course, that's probably only my mood being reflected in this most-maleable day of the week.

The state Senate released their budget proposal for the coming biennium, following the Governor and House proposals.  This one is both bleak and arrogantly and naively prescriptive for higher education. It chastises the two previous proposals: "Both of these proposals overestimate tuition revenues due to the assumption that all categories of students will experience the same percentage increase."  While that's true, the Senate proposal attempts to "fix" this by cutting higher education deeper and transferring even more of the cost to students and families by raising tuition rates even higher than has already been proposed. They also don't "show their work" and I can't see any evidence that their math is any better.  Rather worse, in fact, when they estimate how many dollars the tuition increase will actually off-set.

Ignorantly assuming all colleges are cookie-cutter institutions, it prescribes a series of specific actions and measures that will further fundamentally reshape the community and technical college network across our state, and with complete disregard for our mission or the needs of our many communities. These are, mostly, bureaucratic solutions with all the metaphoric subtly of using a fully loaded four-drawer vertical file cabinet to tap a picture hook into the wall. The most efficient piece of our state's education system, already generating (for many of our campuses) over 50% of our revenue from sources other than state funding, is now being told exactly how we will manage the new cuts coming our way in exchange for the fraction of funding they still want to provide. 

It is a micromanager's budget proposal, with politicians attempting to run the colleges.  Of course, they won't actually be running our colleges, so they won't be living with the day to day consequences of their misguided directives. We will. More importantly, our students (or those still able to afford and get into a college of any sort in this state) will.

If our state's elected politicians must decide that the only way to balance our state budget is to gut our education systems, if this is the best they can come up with, then they should at least give us the flexibility to try and make ends meet the best way we can.  Our history shows we are particularly good at this, better than almost any other state agency, in fact, at feeding a family on a penny a day. By prescribing how we will do this, by giving us the wrong tools to work with and mandatory "solutions" that don't fit, they are eliminating our ability to apply our mission and values to the decisions we face. 

Maybe our senators haven't looked closely at what they are offering us relative to what we are already doing.  They no longer provide the majority of our revenue, we are now far from state-funded organizations. They can certainly elect to withhold even more of the partial state funding we do receive, but as minority stakeholders in our budgets these days, they do not have the right to prescribe how we spend the rest of our creatively cobbled-together revenue sources.

On more musical notes, even this morning's music was feeling clowny.  Take the following list of songs and tell me my iPod wasn't playing along:

 - The Beatles: Piggies
 - Diana Krall: Popsicle Toes
 - Billy Bragg & Wilco: Black Wind Blowing
 - Robert Walter: Hillary Street
 - The Bill Evans Trio: The Peacocks

Just a reminder, should it be necessary, that the opinions expressed in this blog are personal, not official.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just Tuesday music

Tuesday, and I almost dropped the top for the drive in again this morning.  From the look of things this early morning, we could be in for a nice day.  Now if it would just warm up a bit, too!

Today's soundtrack was a good'un, a keeper.  A nice mix of music with a particularly gentle ending.  John Michael Talbot teamed up with his brother Terry (again, they used to play together in the group Mason Proffit, a major influence for the Eagles) in 1980 to release a stunningly beautiful album, The Painter.  Beautiful acoustic guitars and soaring harmony mark this Billboard-reviewed "acoustic album of the decade." This tune was just starting to flow into Sigur Rós' Fljótavik as I pulled on to campus.  That works.

 - Pete Yorn: Four Years
 - Midlake: Young Bride
 - Travis: Selfish Jean
 - John Michael Talbot & Terry Talbot: Paint My Life
 - Sigur Rós: Fljótavik

Monday, April 11, 2011

They're my rules, anyway

Monday's back on the playground again, as unwelcome as always.  He never seems to learn, that kid. Still, these nearly-mid-April (yikes!) Monday's at least bring morning daylight.  I almost dropped the top on the drive in this morning.  Sure, it's cloudy and planning to drip all over us again today, but it looked like I'd make it safely to the campus before getting wet (I would have, too), and the temperature is mild enough to be enjoyable. 

Not sure about this morning's playlist.  If I had been presented with this list and asked if I wanted to hear these tunes this morning I'd have probably said, "Nah" to all of them.  Not bad stuff, any of it, but not a great Monday morning commute soundtrack.  From almost old-English guitar-style folk to...shall we say, crunchy metal?, then an acoustic John Meyer, and finally a slow and loping Camera Obscura tune.  None of which played especially nicely together, they simply were there together by chance.

I ask myself, why don't I skip tunes I don't want to hear?  It only takes a flick of my thumb and the little steering wheel toggle.  Somehow, I have convinced myself that there are rules to this morning-commute-blog-about-shuffled-music, and one of those rules is that I will take what comes up exactly as it comes up.  Still, it is my game, isn't it?  If I made up the rules I should be able to revise the rules, too, right? 

I had been thinking that April 11th marked the anniversary of these iMood week-daily postings, but that's not so.  I didn't really start this game until July 30th, so I have a few more months to get through before I can say I've lapped a full year. When I started, I didn't really anticipate being disciplined (if that's even the right word) enough to do this consistently, but I've only missed a handful of days since last July.  Which probably means something, hopefully something more than being a bit OCD about the whole thing.

If those late-July shuffles had been like this one, though, I might never have started down this daily challenge.

 - Bruce Cockburn: Christmas Song
 - Pixies: Gouge Away
 - John Mayer: Slow Dancing In a Burning Room
 - Camera Obscura: Forests and Sands

Friday, April 8, 2011

April in Lynnwood

Friday, and it wasn't dark. The forecast calls for, "sunshine to start, then a few local clouds." So far, so good. The sun is splashing along the window next to my desk as I write this, Cake is playing on the iPod, and Friday definitely has a popular-dude-in-spring feel to it.

I regularly visit the Poetry Foundation Web site. I treat it much like I do the iTunes Store. Sometimes I go looking for something specific, sometimes I search by key word or topic, and quite often I start wandering serendipitously around the site looking for something fresh and intriguing, if not inspirational. This morning I found the delightful poem April by Alicia Ostriker. It starts:
The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
skip along
attending their meetings
signing their e-mail petitions
marching with their satiric signs
singing their we shall overcome songs
posting their pungent twitters and blogs
believing in a better world
for no good reason
I envy them
said the old woman

I highly recommend taking a minute to follow the link (poem title above) to enjoy the rest of this seasonally appropriate poem.

Today's playlist leapt from Paris to Cuba, then settled firmly in the US until the end, when it skipped back to France. This is the second time this week that Jacques Loussier has capped my morning commute with one of his Impressions on Chopin. The only thing missing was any rendition of April In Paris.

The full playlist:

- Madeleine Payroux: J'Ai deux amours
- Buena Vista Vista Social Club: Murmullo
- Traveling Wilburys: Last Night
- Matchbox Twenty: Unwell
- Jacques Loussier: Nocturne No.1 in B-Flat Minor, Op.9, No.1

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stereotypes in the fog

Thursday, the pretender, came wrapped in swirls of grey fog this morning. In places my commute was clear, in others it was quite foggy. In the foggy bits the street and house lights were extra loud.

Today Thursday is pretending to be Tuesday. It feels early in the week, like there are miles to go before I sleep or see the weekend. Many deadlines have somehow crowded themselves impossibly into this one week.

Traffic was light, just a handful of the usual automotive stereotypes in action, as they faded in and out of the fog. The oversized truck that tailgated, the Corolla that slowed down for each incline in the road as if the driver were intentionally taking it easy on their dear-little-car-as-personal-friend, the working panel van being driven single handed so the driver could also manage their large plastic 7-11 mug of coffee, the get-out-of-my-way-I'm-going-to-Starbucks! single-occupant SUV. Oh, and the little silver Miata that no doubt typifies many other drivers' stereotype of one sort or another.

We're all in this together, see. So many different flavors of you're-not-like-me-and-that's-ok, making the world round and interesting. So long as we're not mean to one another. We could do, especially on the road, with a few more of the "bark less, wag more" and "mean people suck" bumper sticker reminders. Though that reminds me of the story of the guy who put a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker on his car, but then, forgetting about his sticker, got so mad at people honking at him he started flipping other drivers off when they did honk. Reminder to self: be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

Good music this morning. A couple of classics, a wonderfully redemptive Fountains Of Wayne cover of an abysmal Brittany Spears tune, and wrapping up with a little improvisation on Chopin. Smack dab in the middle was a rock-anthem style tune from the large voice of Big Head Todd and crew. The gravely shouting sort of electric rock made most popular by Bruce Springsteen.

For the life of me, I couldn't think of Springsteen's name on the way in this morning. I got the Bruce bit, that part I had. I went through all the Bruces I could think of: Bruce Cockburn (of course!), Bruce Hornsby, even Bruce Wayne. Springsteen finally popped into my head as I turned off the Miata's engine.

Today's full playlist:

- Crosby, Stills & Nash: You Are Alive
- Big Head Todd & The Monsters: Beautiful Rain
- Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street
- Fountains Of Wayne: ...Baby One More Time
- Jacques Loussier: Nocturne No. 18 in E Major, Op. 62, No. 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Remember Wednesday?

Mr. Malleable is back to practice his weekly dose of mid-week shape-shifting on us. Today's installment, today's Wednesday, is going to be wet, again.

I wonder, is it only a coincidence of recorded dates or is it with specific intent that Susan Schultz' poem about dementia is titled, Wednesday, August 02, 2006?

--Compare and contrast the acquisition of a language to its loss. Avoid the trap of merely saying that the latter happens in reverse order of the former. You are likely to do better if you see them as similar processes, though one leads to gain, the other loss. Think chemistry. Think performance of a script. Think Harold and the Purple Crayon. Think Harold Pinter.

--Think two old men fishing for a beautiful young woman in a lake. Think one of them might get “lucky.”

What happens when, like a malleable Wednesday, the mind is free to make it's own unbidden might-get-lucky construct out of our memories and the information we are absorbing from our immediate surroundings? What happens when the two become slowly separated? Bruce Cockburn writes, in his song Strange Waters:

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

Today's playlist was soft and folky throughout. This could easily have been a contiguous playlist for a formula radio station (remember radio stations?), with nothing jarring or out of place.

- Gary Louris & Mark Olson: Saturday Morning On Sunday Street
- Brian Withycombe: My All
- Camera Obscura: Dory Previn
- P.T. Walkley: Magic

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Any track will do

Tuesday, arguably the week's most nondescript team member, was pending wet for the morning commute. Tuesday's claim to popularity lies in the fact that it isn't Monday.  Otherwise, it's almost as far away from the next weekend and still very much "early in the week."  Even for someone fortunate enough to find my weekday workdays fulfilling, the getting-out-of-bed bit of the early morning causes me an intimate knowledge of which day I am looking into.  Fortunately for me that is a very quick passing oh-I-wish-I-could-pause-it moment.  Being, essentially, a morning person, once I'm awake I'm ready to roll and Tuesday is as good a track to roll down as any other.

On the subject of tracks and rolling: I followed a first generation Miata part of the way in this morning.  It was clearly someone's project love, and looked to be nicely restored though appeared to be heavily tuned for track rather than street (did you know that every weekend more Miatas are raced on tracks around the country/world than any other make of car?).  While I'm sure it looked awesome parked in the driveway, and was probably a treat on the track, it looked pretty miserable on the road. The rear tires were splayed out at nearly a 45° angle (no doubt partly to tuck the over-sized wheels up under the wheel arch) and it was lowered to within a couple of inches of the ground.  With so little clearance and no suspension travel it bounced over every little imperfection like a block of wood, with the muffler assembly threatening to scrape bottom at any moment.  The driver was zipping from side to side of the lane to avoid manhole covers, chips, and ruts.  It was like watching a go-cart video game. Here's hoping it's a not a daily-driver!

A (mostly) quiet music morning.  The mellow nature of this morning's musical scramble was shattered only briefly by George Harrison's circus-tune-toned 30th birthday tribute to John Lennon.  Apart from that, the tunes were almost languid in their pace.  Here is today's full playlist:

 - Camera Obscura: Forests and Sands
 - George Harrison: It's Johnny's Birthday
 - Bruce Cockburn:  Down To The Delta
 - Sigur Rós: Heysátan
 - Sleepy Sun:  Lord (Live)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Only worth a hair over one penny now

Monday, that last-kid-picked-for-play-yard-games, is back. Groan and roll your eyes, try to move away, but to no avail.  Monday comes.  This one comes with more wetness, darkness (at this cloud-thick hour of the morning, anyway), and coldness.  High today won't exceed the mid-forties (about 8-9° C), and with just enough wind to make the cold sharp-edged. Probably should have brought a pair of gloves for my walks to and from main campus today (the calendar suggests a 2+ mile walking day).

On the other hand, it is the first day of our college's quarter, so the campus will spring intensely back to life, and that is a good thing.  The quiet of break may be great for catching up on things, but a campus should be alive and vibrant, and that requires the presences of a large and diverse group of folks.

I stopped on the way in to give the Miata a sip of dinosaur juice.  The premium pump cost me $4.09/gallon this morning.  We've hit that tipping point price now, so expect to see changes in commuting behavior.  If it's painful to fill my little pony-keg-sized gas tank for a couple weeks worth of driving it must be shocking to keep one of the far-too-many over-sized people-haulers around me running. I hear small cars are driving auto company sales again, and that some hybrid models are back on waiting lists (though Japan's recent tragedy may be adding to that situation). It will be interesting to see how many subsidized bus passes we sell this quarter.

In other Monday news, one of our two chambers of state government (the House) is set to release its budget proposal for the coming biennium.  Early indications suggest this one will be especially hard on higher education, more so than either the Governor's or Senate's proposals. Early indications also suggest that nobody is seriously considering the revenue side of the equation yet.  Until we deal with our fragile and regressive tax policies, our state is going to have to continue to slash our way into the same sort of state revenue death-spiral that we've seen in California.  I'd say that's my two-cents on the subject, but at current rates of funding cuts to higher education, it's only worth a hair over one penny now.  Maybe I should leave it at, "for whatever it's worth."

A solidly good, but not amazing, mix of music this morning.  Rock, then jazz, with Eugene Maslov providing a very suitable bridge between the two genres with a highly percussive piano tune followed by Walter's rhythmic jazz organ.  Certainly a wake-up-and-get-with-it sort of sound track, and that's not a bad thing for a wet, cold, dark, and budget-anticipatin' Monday morning.

Today's full playlist:

 - Matchbox Twenty:  Push
 - Bruce Cockburn: Five Fifty-One
 - Eugene Maslov: Kolobok
 - Robert Walter: Don't Hate, Congratulate

Friday, April 1, 2011

The popular dude wears a harlequin suit

Friday. Also, April 1st. So the Popular Dude wears harlequin's robes today. The news will be impossible to read, as every outlet will try to outdo every other with the best joke "story," carefully footnoted in small text with a reminder that this story was filed on April 1st, reader beware.  The added air of jocularity will raise Friday's stock as a popular dude, to be sure.  And let's be honest here, I'd lock elbows with Friday no matter what he was wearing.

The campus lies in wait, this last day of spring break, much like a spring-flowing bulb just about to pop out.  Monday will bring the comforting chaos of a campus alive and vibrant.  It will also bring too many cars, endless complaints about anything that isn't just-so or which doesn't meet someone's exacting expectations, but that's also part of the seasoning in this rich stew of active community.  Everything is magnified the first couple weeks of a quarter, and (for some reason) in spring quarter particularly. So one last weekday in which (I hope!) to get caught up on at least a few projects.

Another nice blend of tunes for this morning's commute.  Gaelic Storm gave my steering wheel a good thumping with a highly charged Scottish number, sort of a bagpipe rock, I'd say.  Bob Dylan, singing for the Traveling Wilbury's, tried to make the case for happiness only truly being possible by becoming his possession ("You'd be happy as you could be if you belonged to me."); I'm not buying it.  The set wrapped up with an early Bruce Cockburn tune (again - seems to be a very Cockburn week) about a moment in an airport.

Airports can be places of excitement and reuniting, and places of loneliness and separation.  Douglas Adams said of them, "It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'As pretty as an Airport' appear."  Cockburn, in January In the Halifax Airport Lounge (recorded in 1975), blends observation of those around him with the latter sense of separation:

Distant times in distant lands
Worthless money changing hands
"Changing them to what?" -- I wonder
As in the dust the jet plane thunders
Carries every feeling into gloom
I miss you like I miss the flowers in bloom

There's a crisis in the outer world
In the sky the smoke trails curl
Some Winnipeg boys are Cyprus-bound
I hope they live to touch home ground
I hope we live to touch, if just once more
I need you like the river needs the shore

Replace Cyprus with Afganistan or Iraq and the song could have been written today instead of 21 years ago.

The full playlist (and not a single joke among them):

 - The Weepies: Hideaway
 - Nanci Griffith:  Trouble in the Fields
 - Gaelic Storm: Floating the Flambeau
 - Traveling Wilburys:  If You Belonged to Me
 - Bruce Cockbrun: January In the Halifax Airport Lounge