Alpha called from Tokyo to tell me she liked the roses so I guess I got the hotel right on the order. No word from Beta so I guess she’s having a good time accelerating particles. Gamma got me heart shaped chocolates in a heart shaped box, and an envelope full of handmade gift certificates for favors, wishes and two massages. Beta and Gamma got flowers and gift certificates from me, for dates with dad. We also got more flowers arranged for by Alpha before she left, and from the inlaws, and various chocolates.
That’s the thing, no sooner do you get rid of the Christmas season chocolates, you get more for Valentine’s day.
Now I have to go remove clean dishes from the dishwasher so I can put dirty ones inside, and make a lunch. And go check on the birds outside, who got a 25 kilo sack of sunflower seeds for Valentine’s day. And check on the turtle tortoise, who is sleeping next to an unabridged dictionary downstairs in the library. The winter has been so warm here she came out of hibernation early – we are not sure whether she is up for the season or if it’s the same sort of bifurcated sleep thing we all get some nights. I saw her moving last night when I practiced cello. I’m learning a new tune and it sounds like hell.

2007 Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest Results

Welcome to the awards ceremony for the 2007 Metamorphosism Valentine’s Day Limerick contest.

Third place this year goes to Joeri. He ties with Mark S. for those honors.

Second place goes to Lisa D., who was very productive this year.

Winner is Jann. Jann, if you have a website please send me the link, that’s the prize see, getting linked.

Finally, sincere thanks to everyone who entered. And happy Valentine’s day.

WTF science

So, the theremin.
What a pain in the ass.
I think the headphones are the problem. First the sound quality is bad and second you feel goofy dancing around to noises no one else can hear.
At least, I do.
I do think I’ll eventually get a kit, though, and put together my own. With an amp or something. Gamma gets a kick out of playing it too. You should have seen her and her little friend jamming.
We need to get the tuner and figure out where the notes are, she said.
I’m thinking the headphones are good for, like practice, but you really need a PA or something if you’re going to play it.
How would that look at a concert? Like you’re in a band, standing there with your headphones, grooving away, and the audience is going, WTF is with the theremin? I can’t hear it.

Beta is on a field trip. Like all seventeen year old girls, she’s into particle accelerators now. She gets back tomorrow. Alpha is flying to Japan this afternoon.

I have to go digest all this science. I don’t know where it came from. WTF. I’ve got all these electronics projects going. I hate electronics. I made an electromagnet this weekend out of a 9 volt battery, a chisel and some wire.
It wasn’t very strong. It picked up a nail. Two nails were too heavy for it. Eventually, I want to develop something that I can carry in my pack that will enable me to stick to the outsides of trains and buses.


So anyway this is pretty close to what the theremin looks like. I went out at lunch to buy headphones. With any luck the jack will fit. This is my plan: go home, spend ten minutes doing the housecleaning I have neglected all week (the family will have to settle for “tidy” rather than “spic-n-span”), plug in the instrument and spend the next 8 hours trying to get it to function, finally go to bed, cry myself to sleep, get up an hour later and rush to work.

On composing, and Lev Thermin’s theremin here in my office, man

Does this happen to you too, or am I the only one? It happens to you too, right? You encourage someone smaller than you to try something that is good for them, such as learning an instrument, and you sort of participate in the beginning to get them started, and a while later find yourself playing cello in an orchestra and are all WTF? How did I get here?
In this way I have found myself in Galway getting directions from the sean nos singer to the harp maker’s house (“The road is quite narrow and there’s a sharp turn, you might not make it around in one go, and be sure and watch out for the mad farmer…”) or having baguette and black coffee for breakfast at four in the morning at the window of a 200 year old stone farmhouse (in France) one balmy February morning.
Just now, an hour ago, I was in the concert hall (not as grand as that sounds) of the local music school discussing composition with the teacher who is co-running the composition program Gamma is taking. Gamma and I, since Gamma was interested but said she’d only participate if I did it with her. And she’s not here, so I went over myself and it was really cool.
I’m composing a piece for cello and ten harps about that dead fox I saw on the side of the road. I have been for some time. Gamma added a badger, so now it’s about a fox and a badger, because just the dead fox was too sad she thought. She’s probably right.
Lately she’s been talking about doing something electronic, or something for piano and fiddle and something else, so maybe I’m doing this fox piece by myself now.
Somehow I ended up here.
The composition is nearly finished. All I have to do is write the fucker down. Figure out the different parts and write it down.
How hard can that be?
Fox is Fuchs in German, and badger is Dachs. Luckily, for my purposes, the notes F,C,B (H in German) and Eflat (Es in German) sound good together, as do the notes D, A, C, B/H, Eflat/Es; and even luckier, the two groups of notes work well together.
And one can do interesting things contrasting the 4 notes (F,C,B,Eflat) with the 5 notes (D,A,C,B,Eflat). Rhythmically.
I’m thinking six parts: the cello part, and five harp parts, for two harps each. Two harps playing a part simultaneously would give you that stereo/reverb effect that makes the Welsh triple-strung harp so cool (the harpist plays the same melody with both hands, a tiny bit off, making this echo-like sound.)
I would, in the piece, work through the fox notes in several ways, and then when it is on the verge of getting a bit boring, have the badger notes start sneaking in, and the cello line start going back and forth between the two.
Maybe the cello goes nuts at the end. Maybe the fox ascends to heaven.
Maybe the badger wanders back into the bushes.
It’s not completely finished.
It sounded pretty cool on the grand piano, though.
The teacher who is coaching us was kind enough to bring her theremin with her this evening, as I’d expressed an interest in it. She plugged it in and let me try it out. As you can imagine, it sounded as bad as one would expect. I don’t think I’ll be composing anything for it anytime soon, either, although who knows; someday. Someday it would be cool to compose sort of a “Dueling Banjos” for theremin and singing saw. I’m serious.
So this theremin tonight: it is not flat and black and sleek like the Moog theremins, and it is not um sort of vertical and pointy like the other theremins I’ve seen. It is about the size of a large shoebox, with one side at about a 45 degree angle, looks like cherry wood: it is not only Lev Thermin’s original design, it is Lev Thermin’s original box. The teacher (I say teacher, she’s also a bona-fide musician etc) was in Moscow recently, visiting the Theremin Institute, where they have a bunch of old stuff that used to belong to the master, and that included a few of these boxes, and one of the men who runs the Institute, by my understanding, built some to Lev’s specifications inside them, with one or two improvements.
Listen: Thermin had this box in his hands, man. And the teacher loaned it to me, as she has no time at the moment to play it and I have an empty house, what better time to practice a theremin?
All we need are a pair of headphones, she said.
We searched the music school. Normally there are headphones everywhere.
Not tonight, however.
So I’m sitting here with Lev Thermin’s theremin.
It’s pretty cool looking.
Two shiny chrome antennas.
Tomorrow I will find headphones or die trying.

Two days

Last night, Tuesday, I was telling one of the cats, the one who seemed most depressed, “They come back Friday. Friday, only two more days.” See, really it was three more days, but I didn’t want to make the cat sad, and I figured cats probably aren’t that good with days of the week since every day is Sunday for a cat. That’s why this is funny.

They are skiing, the women. The cats are snoozing, mostly. I am “working” since my “employer” has largely eliminated the concept of “vacation” from his management plans. So, “working”. And later in the day, feeding cats, cleaning litter boxes. Leaving dishes on the counter, taking garbage out when I want, leaving toilet seats up, testing my theory that bed-making is a waste of time and unmade beds have no dire consequences.

One realization: left to my own devices, I work out more, still take out garbage and do dishes, although it takes me longer to wash a floor.

I also get more cello practice, but not as much as I thought I would, although that is made up for in increased volume.

Ginsberg’s first poem discovered

    Literary researchers at Evco University today released what they say is Allen Ginsberg’s first poetic work, written for his school’s Groundhog Day poetry contest when he was in second grade:

I saw the best groundhogs of my generation destroyed by
madness, gawking newsmen hysterical children
dragging themselves through the mouth of their burrow at dawn
looking for an angry sun,

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