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awryday
13 July 2010 @ 09:50 pm
Despite my love/hate relationship with theater productions, there is nothing like being in a play to somehow spur me on musically. I finished the Talking Heads production a month ago and it has been nothing but music since.   

Working on two new piano pieces, one Chopin and one Tchaikovsky.   It's only in the past few months that I've had the shoulder strength to hold my arms up and stationary for any length of time.   And it's only in the past month that I've had the strength to play with any vigor.   Perfect timing really.

Composition-wise there is also much churning.   STILL (and will be forever probably) working on "Circle".   Just can't see the colors in it any more.   There are four songs in progress, vocal songs with very talented singers who are not myself, thankfully.   This months project is to build a vocal booth so we can get good vocal tracks for those pieces.

Lastly, I have posted a new song on the webpage, one I've called "Eli".

www.awryday.com   

It's a sad song, but that's all I seem to have.   My piano teacher Dawn Yocum recently cleaned out her music cabinets and came across some sheet music, a piano piece I had written in 1985 when I was all of 14.   It's simple and sad.   Not much has changed.

Onward and Upward!
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awryday
16 June 2010 @ 02:47 pm
Observed:   

Spray painted on the rock outside of Corvallis High School the day after graduation.   "Schools' Out Fore-ever".  


Overheard:     

Two kids walking down the street in front of my house.
Kid 1:   You're the tard!
Kid 2:   Nuh-uh.  You're the tard!
Kid 1:    No, you're the tard.
Kid 2:    No, you're the tard.
Kid 1:   I said YOU'RE the tard!
Kid 2::   YOU'RE the tard!

(Perhaps both are correct).

Overheard:

Two engineers in the hallway today.
Engineer 1:  See the problem with Umber Hulks is that they're immune to magical fire, so you have to come in with your swords.
Engineer 2:  But I wanna use magic!

(So say we all).

Realized

Who I root for in the world cup is not straight forward.   But I have come up with a short list of rules, in order of rule priority.
1.   Root for England.
2.   Root for USA   
3.   Root for Brazil
4.   Always root against Argentina.   (Admittedly, I am STILL smarting from the Hand of God.  It should be noted that God has punished Maradona by turning him bat-shit crazy).
5.   Always root against Mexico.   (Main rival for #2.   Also, their fans throw feces.)
6.   Root for any team in the Islands.   This includes Scotland, Wales, Ireland if they were playing.
7.   Root for the home nation team.   
8.   Root for any team the Americas so long as they are not Argentina or Mexico.

 
 
awryday
29 May 2010 @ 08:30 am
I spent Thursday night in Houston at a Hampton Inn Hotel.   My room, number 207, was located on the second floor a few feet from the elevator.   I remember this because when I checked in to the hotel, I remember coming out of the elevator, looking at the signs on the far wall and breathing a sigh of relief that I could see the door to my room. 

Friday morning I head down to breakfast and upon reaching the bottom floor, I realize that I've forgotten my tea.   Yes, I travel with my own supply of tea.   Riding back up to my room I grab my tea and then head out the door again to find that the elevator has disappeared.

It's gone.   Just gone.   The hallway is a narrow corridor lined with doors and nothing else.   

I'm not sure how long I stood there, but it was probably 45 seconds.   My first thought was that I was on some sort of video game show and was at that moment being filmed.  Rather than doing anything stupid, I decided to assess the situation carefully.   Turning to my left there was the window at the end of the corridor, to the right, the corridor stretched out for 50 yards or so.   My second thought was that I had died and this was purgatory.   That was a pretty scary thought but it makes sense that Texas is halfway between earth and hell.   Third thought, the most logical was that I was still asleep.   So I go back in the room and lay down.    I close my eyes and open them again and head out.   Nope, there are just doors.   Maybe, I thought, I got the position of the elevator wrong.   Turning to my right, I head down the corridor looking for the elevator.  Nope.  No elevator this way.

I'll cut to the punchline.  

This Hampton Inn has its elevators inside the damn rooms.   Behind the door is a small alcove perhaps seven foot square with the elevator door.   The outer door is usually locked open so you come out of the elevator and don't even notice.   My personal opinion is that the architect designed the hotel but forgot the elevators, only adding them in later.   Anyway, the elevator is behind the door labelled "200".   There is a key lock on the door but it isn't active.  But other than that, it looks exactly like a hotel door room.     What had happened in the brief seconds I had gone in my room for the tea was that a smoke alarm had been tripped in one of the rooms and that had released the door covering the elevator.

Not cool.  Funny.   But not cool.
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awryday
28 May 2010 @ 07:07 am
I'm not sure how to write about the past five days any more than I have the ability to process them.   I started writing this last night, but just couldn't get the proper tone, couldn't sort out exactly what needed saying from what didn't.    I decided to sleep on it, waking to find I am no further along.   

But we begin somewhere in that gray muddle. 

In these past five days I attended an afternoon celebrating the life of my friend Anne.    She was the brightest flame of happiness I have known in all my days, even as she spent the last quarter of hers fighting off cancer.    She has left behind a great man and three wonderful kids and left the rest of us feeling rather rudderless.   I have taken Anne's death very hard, much harder than I imagined.   But I got to share some of these days with her and that afternoon reminded me how wonderful those days, this time truly is.  

These five days included two more where I spent an evening with Dana, a tremendous friend whom I have not seen in 20 years.   Also was a evening with another wonderful friend, Sarah, also whom I haven't seen in 20 years.  It was delightful to pick up with these two after so long, to fill an evening and the intervening years with our triumphs, tragedies and everyday lives.  Here's what needs saying.   Dana and Sarah and I became friends before we turned into the people we are.   I would want to be friends with them now, and I proud to be so.    Two wonderful people.

Across those five days I traveled to and through south Texas where the insects are as large as birds, nary a Prius is to be seen and the two restaurants I entered not only had no vegetarian options but had never had a vegetarian on the premises.   If you order a vegetarian bean burrito with no beef, it will come with beef.     The people here are open, proud and very friendly, but I am tired of hearing hunting stories.   I get it.   You have a big gun.

And one of those five days was yesterday on which I turned 39, which didn't even seem to register so far from home was I.   But the birthday wishes I got from those near and dear made me smile.   Which I needed because I had awoken that day to find that another friend had passed away from cancer, another friend taken too soon and also leaving behind a great man and kids.  

I'm still no closer to being eloquent in summary or closure.   It seems that these days have been filled with naught but laughter and tears with little in between.   Far more laughs than tears however.   Which, I guess, is all we can ask from a life, or should.
 
 
awryday
08 May 2010 @ 09:10 am
I've been going to Jamba Juice for 20 years, ever since it was called Juice Club and was just a small shop in San Luis Obispo.   I do like them the smoothies.   The girls working at the Jamba Juice in Corvallis are extraordinarily bubbly and perky.   "HI!" they all gush when a customer walks in the door.   "Bye!   It was great seeing you!" they all chirp when someone leaves.   For some reason it makes me feel somewhat awkward.    (And that's some social commentary right there, that happy engagement should raise a barrier rather than drop them.)   

Yesterday as I got my post-workout smoothie, the bright young thing handing me my smoothie said, "have any fun plans for tonight".

And again, this rush of weird awkwardness.   Because, honestly, I did have something "fun" planned.   I have not had an evening at home for nearly 2 weeks straight what with theater rehearsals, travel to the monastery and then travel to Houston.   It was 7pm on a Friday evening, I was tired and desperately needed an evening where I could . . . . just. . . .  sit.  I was so desperate for a quiet evening that I had even guiltily bailed on an evening with friends, a homecooked meal and good company.    I needed to just stop.  

So I started to say "Yeah, I'm planning on spending a quiet evening with my wife"  but stopped myself.   Christ, I thought.   I can't tell her that!   I mean, THAT'S my fun activity?    How lame!     I desperately tried to come up with something cooler for a Friday night.   I rolled "I'm going out drinking!" in my head.    Nope, that sounds lame AND boorish.   "I'm heading home to hang out with my dog!"    An honest answer that makes me sound like a lonely old man.  

So after a couple seconds of weird pausing, her hand still holding out the cup and me not quite reaching for it yet, I answered her.   "Yeah, I'm going to play the piano tonight!"    Her raised eyebrows and crinkled brow revealed her opinion.  sigh.   "It was great seeing you!" the rest of them bubbled as I pushed through the door.  

It was near dark when I finally got home.  I was about dropping from exhaustion but Kris and I took the pooches for their walk.    The sunset lit the clouds across the sky first with orange and then yellow before burning red and fading pink.  I stood at our neighborhood's highest point and was amazed.    I did get a bit of piano playing in.   And Hamlet got some good scritching.    

Lame, perhaps.   I'll take it.
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awryday
08 April 2010 @ 01:35 pm
Dear Adrien.

Thank you for your recent friend request on Facebook. I don't know who you are, but life appears to be treating you very well -- despite a 1981 birthday, you appear to be all of 16. I appreciate your offer to share photos and videos of your piercings, but will have to decline. Frankly, piercings and tattoos seem soooo 2005, but it's good you have a hobby.

I am sorry that Facebook won't let you post videos of your piercings and I understand your frustration. I've been wanting to see more videos of otters and my current list of friends aren't posting them. So if you have any videos of otters swimming or cracking shells or just generally being cute, please resend your friend request.    

Until then, you might try a search for RNC donors on Facebook. Now that Club Voyeur is off limits, they might be looking for a friend just like you.

Sincerely, Me.
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awryday
23 March 2010 @ 10:04 pm
I'm now at just over two weeks on my body experiment to switch to bare feet.   Today I ran a mile in bare feet and it was almost effortless.   Astounding.   But I'm getting a head of myself.

I decided to try barefeet and moccasins because I was discovering that my feet were sore after wearing one type of shoe.   Further, when those pains went away, my feet got sore when I switched shoes.   It also seemed like walking in bare feet was uncomfortable at times.   The simplest explanation was not that something was wrong with my feet, but that something was wrong with these shoes.   Given that one of my best friends owns a shoe company that sells moccasins, and that going around in bare feet is supposed to be good for you, six months of giving up my shoes seems like a cool body experiment.

So why the running?

Truth is that I have trained for a marathon before.   Nay, TWO marathons.   The first I trained for six months prior and was running 5 miles a day and 15 miles on the weekend pretty regularly.   I did not run that marathon due to coming down with pneumonia two days prior.   I took up training again a year later but stopped due to severe knee pains.   As little as last fall I tried jogging a quarter mile and came up short with stabbing pains in my knees.  

Larkin has this book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall which, among other assertions, makes the claim that we evolved to be runners but that the shoe industry has malformed our gait into one that inhibits our ability and causes injury.   I can't remember all the data, but one quote sticks with me. . . "heels are for standing, not walking".

Over the past two weeks I've been slowly building up my tolerance for walking in moccasins.   You don't come down on your heels -- more the middle of your foot.   I've come to listen to my feet a great deal -- if it hurts to walk a certain way, you figure out how to walk so it doesn't.  That means hardly any heel.  At first I could only walk around on pavement and tile at work for a couple hours without having to switch back to a normal shoe.   I can nearly make it the whole day now.   

And then there's the running.

I just got it in my head that if there was any proof that shoes were the problem and not the solution then it would be me trying running again.   So at the end of my workout in the gym a week ago, I went to a treadmill and kicked off my shoes.   I figured I'd just try a quarter mile.   You run with your back straight, arms working and leaning slightly forward.    Same form as if you're running up stairs.   Personally I come down on the outside of the balls of my feet and then roll inward slightly.   And I admit that I was sore afterwards.   But not sore with damage.  More sore like I get when I've gotten a good healthy workout with weights.

Today I ran a mile at an 8 minute mile pace.   I think it's time to start running in a Soft Star Running Shoe as I'm getting warm spots from the friction.   My calves were feeling it a little, but not too bad.   And my knees. . . . not at freaking all.     I can hardly believe it.

Over the past couple weeks, I have had five conversations with runners and joggers about my barefoot experiment and taking up barefoot running.   The comments are remarkably similar, almost universally disparaging and three weeks ago I would have said the same thing.

"I can't run barefoot, I need arch support".    The Born to Run book and a growing host of medical studies suggests that by supporting the arch that you are actually weakening it.   Take the arch in a building.   Is it stronger or weaker if you put a jack under its cornerstone and lift upward?

"I over/under pronate and need a shoe to control that".      Speaking as an overpronator myself, I get it.   However what I'm finding is that in the past I had been told that overpronation was bad and so I bought a shoe that forced me to walk without it.   However, rolling your foot around is pretty damn natural.   And once you get those muscles firing, they just get stronger.   I think in the past I never allowed them to work and so never got past the "uh, oh, something's wrong" stage.  I overpronated and so put on a shoe to stop those muscles from strengthening.

"I'm heavy/fat and need a lot of support.   I come down hard when I run".    The Book cites a study that measured how hard runners hit when wearing different types of padded shoes.   They found that runners come down harder when their heels were super padded.   Because they could!   But you take away that padding, shift your weight up on the front of your foot and now you have the whole spring mechanism of your leg to soften the blow.  Okay, whatever.   I'm sure that Nike has a similar medical study that shows the opposite.   What I do know is that I was running in the gym today next to a woman and you could hear her heels slamming into the treadmill with each stride.    She was coming down hard!    You could barely hear my feet lighting on the mat over the sound of the motor.   Looking in the mirror, you could obviously see who was putting more stress on their body.

Christ.   I'm starting to feel like Nike and company have all my life been selling me both the disease and the cure at the same time.    Like those beef commercials.   Here is more protein than you need, and while you're at it take some heart disease and side of factory farming animal abuse as well.

As for my running, I'll just keep adding the distance and increasing the speed as my body allows.   At this rate, I'll be running one of the local 5k fun runs this summer.   In a moccasin. 
 
 
awryday
24 February 2010 @ 08:15 am
This is old news. But I voted and therefore care.

A few months ago, Mattel Corporation entreated Barbie fans world-wide to vote on a new career for Barbie. Now, she has had a number of careers over the years, but this was the first one decided by an online vote. A bunch of geek websites put out the word that folks should vote for "computer engineer". And low-and-behold, that choice won.

http://gizmodo.com/5470587/computer-engineer-barbie-has-a-phd-in-fun-and-breaking-down-stereotypes

(Makes you really glad the poll doesn't allow write-in options for her career).

Win for girls and nerds alike, right? To quote SWE, "All the girls who imagine their futures through Barbie will learn that engineers - like girls - are free to explore infinite possibilities, limited only by their imagination," says Nora Lin, President, Society of Women Engineers. "As a computer engineer, Barbie will show girls that women can turn their ideas into realities that have a direct and positive impact on people's everyday lives in this exciting and rewarding career."

I don't know about that. I don't know any kids and I don't know if they are even into Barbie. It may be a no-win situation here. Using Barbie to break stereotypes or knock down barriers just seems to reinforce other stereotypes cause it's freaking Barbie.

Anyway, best part of the article is the fourth comment at the bottom of the page. Someone has mocked up a picture of "Mid Level Management Barbie". Truth, baby. Truth.
 
 
awryday
20 February 2010 @ 09:32 am
Two years ago I wrote about my horrific experience with the Great Magazine Explosion. Some well meaning parent brought their overly-cute child begging to my door and I signed up for a bunch of magazine subscriptions, and some of those were toofers. The result being that for the next 18 months I was besieged by over a dozen magazines.

Reading these magazines became a chore, and a stressful chore at that. I was incapable it seemed of recycling a magazine without it being read. And the stack seemed to grow hourly. I leave the house to take a walk and come back to new damn Nation magazine. Lots of good news in there. Go to work and there's two new nutrition magazines to slog through in my free time. Wired. Discover. Astronomy. Men's Health. Newsweek. Harpers. The New Yorker. And on and on. Oh, yeah, Maxim was one of them. That one just made me sad -- sad it was being published, sad I was reading it.

The last of them tailed off this winter, and I am for the moment blissfully magazine-free. (Which is good because I'm working on my bedside stack of novels).

I let two of the zines expire along with realizations of self-change. Wired is a great magazine -- like porn for geeks. But I realized that after a couple years of interested reading that I'm just not a gadget guy. I'd rather read headlines that someone has invented something than to open the article and read the details. Perhaps it's because I'm working so much these days -- I don't want to spend my free time thinking about science. Free time is for art, dammit.

But the last of my expired subscriptions inspired the greatest epiphany of self. I have been a subscriber to Men's Health magazine since college. It's changed a lot over the years. But I read it more than anything because it was a good motivator. Every month there were one hundred pages reminding me to eat better when I passed a vending machine and to hit the gym when I was tired. What I realized this past year was that I don't need the weight lifting advice. The nutrition advice is for someone needing to choose between going to Taco Bell or Subway. And the articles are more and more about how to score one-night stands at frat parties. (I know the answers to all three of those questions -- 3x per week alternating, neither but choose subway if you must, get her sloppy drunk -- but frankly just don't have the need for the knowledge). The publishers will tell you that they gear their magazine toward the male 18 - 35 demographic, and it seems I have moved beyond their intended sphere both physically and mentally. Kris suggested I change from Men's Health to Men's Journal. A good and logical suggestion. And I did try it but it's definitely geared toward guys that want to spend time camping or . . I don't know, doing something outdoors where there is dirt. Whatever.

So here I am with one magazine left. GQ. And I say that with a very ironical grin. There's a god damn east-coast prep magazine in my house. And I do so love it. In a way I read it for the same reasons I read MH all those years. I'm not about to spend $500 on a pair of jeans. But reading the Sartorialist means I'm going to buy my jackets the right size and get a lift in my slacks when I buy a suit. There are wine recommendations. There are cocktail recipes. The interviews are the best part. How awesome is that? I read Playboy. . uh, GQ for the articles.

We'll let this state ride for a bit, I think. I was in the co-op the other day admiring Cooks magazine. There was also an enticing magazine solely devoted to cheese. Another would bring a monthly dose of poetry into the house. I resisted their call, however. Down that way tyranny lies.
 
 
awryday
05 February 2010 @ 09:32 pm
Quiet Girl

I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.

-Langston Hughes