I totally forgot to tell you about this!

Last Saturday I took a breather from studying for Gamma’s (ultimately catastrophic) math test and went to an exhibition of new old instruments (mostly new instruments built by luthiers in the style of old instruments) with my cello teacher and several other cello students at Vienna’s Konzerthaus.

It was full of instruments, and of people, many who appeared to be your old-instrument geek type, which is one of my favorite types. They were all trying out the instruments, which include a lot of recorders, various string instruments (baroque cellos, violins, violas, various gambes, lutes, harps, and i think i saw a theorbe, among others) wooden flutes, guitars, and so on. There is no word to describe the aural experience, especially if you have tinnitus.

Well, except maybe for cacaphony. Or din.

Or racket. Or jarring dissonance.

I wasn’t even going to touch an instrument, not even get close, in the higher rent (I assumed) area near the entrance. Cool-looking stuff, though. I just have a phobia of messing up a priceless instrument.

We went downstairs, where the acoustics were even worse and looked at more stuff and my teacher explained the baroque cello. We even tried one out at a stand. Basic differences to a modern cello: no spike, less tension on the gut strings so it has a different sound. Softer, I assume – and more open, if the other baroque celli i have heard are typical. Unfortunately, there was a guy selling bagpipes at the next stand so we couldn’t actually hear any of the sounds we made on this cello, we just sat there and ran the bow over the strings.

Afterwards, I found out that the cello was originally made in the 1700s, then later converted to a modern style cello ( as many were) and then restored to its original condition by this particular luthier. I was glad I hadn’t known the cello’s age when I was playing it or I would have been all uptight.

After that our little group broke up and we went our seperate ways. I wandered over to the gambe stand and talked to the luthier, a big Hungarian guy from Budapest. I asked him about gambes (he also makes celli) and he let me try one out, which I have for years wanted to do. It was a neat experience but I’ll stick to cello. First of all, you’d think gambes are easier to play because they have frets, but in fact they’re 50% harder to play because they have 6 strings instead of 4, plus extra difficulty from having less of an arc in the bridge, meaning when you press down one string it gets pressed down even with, or even below, the strings next to it so you’re playing chords all the time instead of single notes.

But, man, beautiful instruments. All of them were – so nice to wander around.

2011 Metamorphosism International St. Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest

It is a great pleasure to announce the opening of the 2011 metamorphosism.com International St. Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest.

Winner’s will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2011 unless I’m having some crisis or something.


  1. Be nice.
  2. Entries must be a limerick.
  3. This year’s themes: Jungian psychology, the recent astrological reform, Icelandic geography, monopolistic corporate imperialism and/or plutocracy.
  4. Entries must be made in the comments to this post.

The life-changing implications of the recent astrological correction

You have no doubt heard about the recent correction of the zodiac. If not, dates were changed and a sign was added – Ophiuchus, the man wrestling with a snake.

This of course has many implications. My first thought was, tattoo artists are going to have a busy year fixing tattoos.

Here are the dates:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

(Dates copied from the discussion at metafilter,  which is very entertaining.)

Hearing this led me to devise a hypothesis, which I tested this afternoon at the local supermarket.

(Hang on, be right back.)

(Okay, I’m back.)

This was my hypothesis.  Even if you don’t believe in astrology, at some point you learn your sign and read a list of personality traits associated with that sign. Either they fit or they don’t. If they fit, they reinforce those traits. If they don’t, the misalignment creates tension. You try to act in accordance with those traits. Or you act in accordance with them, but the discord makes you unhappy.  And so on.

My hypothesis is, for those of us who find ourselves with a different sign as a result of the changed dates above, acting in accordance with the new, more accurate personality traits will make us happier.

I tried this at the store on my lunch break.

My old sign and traits: Taurus – dependable, loyal, persistent, generous, patient; stubborn, lazy, possessive, materialistic, self-indulgent.

My new sign and traits: Aries – independent, generous, optimistic, enthusiastic, courageous; moody, short-tempered, self-involved, impulsive, impatient.

All my life, for example, I’ve been telling myself I was patient because Taureans are patient, while I am in fact the least patient person I know. So at the store today, when some dozy lady blocked the aisle with her cart while deciding which yogurt she needed, I barged around her instead of making myself wait.

And it felt so right!

The scales fell from my eyes.

My hypothesis requires further testing, of course. Generous appears in both lists, yet I am stingy and selfish. At the same time, the negative attributes of both signs are equally accurate. However, I am optimistic about this idea (optimistic! That’s an Aries trait!). Taurus is an earth sign. When I was a kid I thought I should like pottery and gardening. I sucked at pottery, though. I made a lizard once that didn’t look much like a lizard. And gardening! You should see my yard. I hate gardening! Now I can say it! My apple tree is in dire need of pruning, and I haven’t trimmed my shrubs in years. I say it’s so the hedgehogs have a nice place to hang out, but I’m just a lazy gardener (not because I’m a lazy Taurean, but because gardening never appealed to me!). And Aries is a fire sign, and I’m a huge pyromaniac. Huge.

So I have a good feeling about this one.


Beta moved to Norway for a while to study international law.

Yesterday she was at a bonfire on a frozen lake. I guess lakes really freeze in Norway, or they are more careful with their bonfires.

I was talking to Gamma about her sister. Man, I said. She has cojones, I said. No way would I have had the guts to move to another country when I was 21. Except, hang on, that’s when I moved to Austria the first time.

Well, no way would I have had the guts to move to France when I was 15. Or go to Scotland for a week by myself for a harp festival when I was 13.

No way.

Life on the edge

I stepped outside my comfort zone this morning and tied a different knot in my tie.

It’s asymmetrical, so I’m guessing it’s either a four-in-hand or a close relative thereof, but I can’t be sure because I have forgotten how one ties a four-in-hand and just improvised. I just googled diagrams but I have a problem reading knot diagrams.

My uncle used to come over to our house when he needed a tie tied and my father would tie it for him. When he got married, my father tied his tie.

I had to tie his tie for my father’s funeral. And my brother’s tie.

Except I can’t remember if my brother wore a tie to our father’s funeral. He might have worn a polo shirt and cowboy boots.

And pants.

But I tied his tie a couple times. Maybe for weddings.

Anyway here I sit with an asymmetrical knot.

I feel like a dog sticking his head out the window on the freeway.

The day the smallest man in the world shrank to nothing

It was evening, when the smallest man in the world realized he had lost everything.

And it was winter, so it was pretty dark.

One minute he’s up to his knees in shit, trying to figure things out as usual, and the next he no longer is.

It’s all gone.

When he had thought about this moment in the past, considered it, it had been a scary thing.

So this joy he felt surprised him.

A deep and unabashed joy.

He looked at himself, but there was nothing there.

He turned around, and all was shadow.

“Hello there,” said the man formerly known as the smallest man in the world.

Secret New Year’s Resolutions

Somebody asked me whether I had made any New Year’s resolutions and if so what one of them was.

I made up some bullshit thing. I don’t remember what. Probably “quit smoking.”

I started smoking in the last week of December, in order to have a bad habit to resolve to give up, and also Christmas had been stressful. All that family, all that disappointment to deal with because you misheard what people wanted. Or because you got them what they said they wanted, precisely, and not what they implied they really wanted.

So, officially, “quit smoking”. Nothing like starting the year with a big success.

Secretly, I resolved to take the advice I give other people.

It’s all about Jung, and the Shadow, and projection. If somebody is doing something that doesn’t wind you up, you generally don’t feel compelled to give them advice. If something they do really bugs you, then maybe it’s an issue you need to deal with yourself, on one level or another.

To date, I have taken the following advice:

  • Stay in the right lane if you’re not going to go the speed limit, moron.
  • Park between the lines, it’s not that hard.
  • In on the gas, out on the clutch.
  • If you can’t find ‘em, grind ‘em.
  • Don’t be an asshole.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Complaining about being fat doesn’t burn many calories. If you want to lose weight, you have to exercise more and eat less.
  • Don’t sharpen your claws on the goddamned furniture.
  • Stay out of the Christmas tree.
  • Throw out the old clothes you no longer wear.
  • Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice.
  • Try to read more.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • The time will come when invisibility is no longer the best response.

More to come.

(What are your New Year’s resolutions?)