A friend of mine invited me out to drum at the Lake Claire Community Land Trust last night. Neither of us had been there in quite some time, so it was high time we attended! It’s usually just thunder drumming, though there were certainly times of coalescence in the rhythms. The weather was perfect for outdoor drumming around a bonfire and the energy was strong! Personally, I haven’t had an opportunity to play with that much gusto in some time. It was really good to just cut loose and play as hard as I could. I think I may have bruised my hands some, which I didn’t think possible at this stage in my playing. We’ll have to hit the Land Trust drum circle sooner next time rather than waiting a year first!
Balthazar told me what his schedule looks like at school. When he gets to schools, he draws, goes to lunch, naps, plays on the playground, then waits for the buses. I guess things haven’t changed a lot in the schools since I was little. Of course, he thinks my schedule looks like this: drive forever on the highway, do boring stuff, play racquetball, eat a chocolate bar, then go home. That chocolate bar thing is totally random.
I’m imagining some possible scenarios where I could lead a drum circle into a sort of performance. Most facilitated drum circles enter into spontaneous or random rhythms and are then led to compose the music. I would really like to lead people (sometimes naively) into known songs. There’s an extra sense of excitement when you realize you’re playing an actual song. Even if you don’t know the song, being led through a composed set of rhythms is very rewarding! I spent about 10 minutes this morning and worked out the basic rhythms within M.I.A.’s “Galang.” It’s a fun piece of music if you haven’t heard it (YouTube link provided below). My intention in recreating it for a drum circle is not to play the song succinctly, but rather to have all the parts present and accounted for. When and for how long each part plays is up to the facilitator. If the groove is held well, someone could play the voice part through a solo drum!
Drum Circle Arrangement, Galang:
M.I.A., Galang (emebedding not allowed)
Last night marks the first time I’ve been able to use the fancy new field recorder to do some real recording. Although there were only two of us to play, and I was certainly a bit out of sorts, we were able to pull off some interesting bits that rendered pretty well on the H2. The recording took place in a large area – similar to a mall.
Remarkably, the biggest change at the Gradin household is simply in our perception. There are all sorts of things that change when a new child is born into your family. Your free time dries up, your bank account empties, you become more selfless. But when you already have an older child, the thing we noticed was that the older child stopped being a baby in our eyes. I never realized how big he was – how big his hands were. It’s harder to carry him sleeping into his bed at night. This new addition, so small and defenseless, makes us realize in ways you can’t truly convey to anyone that she’s the only baby in the house. Perhaps Balthazar became “our first child.” Even though he’s only five years old, I sense that he’s more in charge of his destiny and in self discovery now. Sorscha, on the other hand, seems to have so much more malleable potential tied up in her.
I’m doing my best to ensure that I don’t lose sight of the treasures still to come in our first-born while our attention is diverted to this little girl. It can be a struggle keeping up with everything at home while still making time for me and Balthazar to play the games we used to play. Easing that, he’s recently really gotten into board games. I can keep an eye (and ear) on Sorscha while we play board games without being too distracted to give him my attention. It’s also easier to allocate this time, as our outside time has been cut short for the coming winter.
This experience of having our second child – some 5 years apart from our first – has given us new wisdom that I feel one can only gain through life.
One cannot fully appreciate what happens to the being at the birth of your first child. You undergo a transformation unlike anything before or after that moment. I remember seeing a baby born vaginally when I was an adolescent, and the experience gave me some spine-tingling chills that hinted at this fact. When we had our first child, the internal shift from my awareness of self: man, husband, child, protector, supplier, etc., went spiraling around and may have momentarily just been forgotten. It didn’t matter anymore. The thing I remember most – and perhaps something that sums up a great deal of this feeling – is that I lost my sense of invulnerability. Perhaps it’s passed on to the next generation – much to a parent’s chagrin.
Now at the birth of our second child, we see the real development of our first. Less of the initial surge of fatherhood that fills you, though a new awareness of everything that can’t be ignored.
I really mean to say that there are some lessons in life that we’re taught, but can never be appreciated until experienced. You were told that you’d one day look back at your school days and realize you were having the time of your life. You’re told that a child will change you. I’ve heard that time flies as you get older. “One day you’ll understand…” All of these things go unheeded as our elders press them into our heads. Being at the crossroads of naivety and understanding, I want to impart a sort of enlightenment to those behind me on the path. But who am I kidding? I’m just saying the same thing…
Guess who has the coolest costume on the block? Balthazar does! His best (and only) Uncle-figure went all out and got together a suit of youth Storm Trooper gear for Balthazar this year. He’s been working on it for a while now and it’s finally finished. Sunday, he brought it over and we had an event of fitting it to him. It took all day of Jeff sitting on a partially constructed floor in our garage fitting, grinding, shaping, and gluing PVC armor components for a perfect fit. Balthazar was a real trooper and went back and forth for component fittings the whole time. He was so excited about it, I don’t think he even noticed the minor discomfort of ill-fitted plastic pieces. After hours of labor, the costume was finally ready for him and by dinner he was able to dance around the house in his new Storm Trooper costume. The whole thing is constructed exactly the same as the screen-accurate versions adults where. All the details are there, though he’ll need a smaller blaster to fit the scale issue a bit better. Jeff and I are going to try and throw together the remaining Star Wars costumes this Halloween to take him out on the town. I’ll be Chewbacca, Jeff might be C-3PO, and we’ll have the littlest Storm Trooper ever. It ought to be a hoot! We’ve got to hit every spot in town possible to get full use out this before he out grows it…in a week! Actually, there should be enough material for him to grow into it a year or two. After that, we’ll have to make a fancy display of it on a little mannequin.
Oh man, he’s going to have a real ball at Halloween this year!
From the folks that brought you surströmming, a kind of fermented herring, comes something a bit different to entice your palate! When I first heard “cloudberry,” I thought it a playful term for flatulence. Turns out, it’s an indescribable fruit found in northern latitudes. It’s rare, and rather difficult to cultivate as I understand. The smell reminds me of some sort of baked fruit pie. It’s thick like a meal and very sweet – kind of like figs, though nothing like a fig. It was recommended that I try it on ice cream, which I can say that I have now done. It’s very good as long as you’re okay with the seeds; almost pomegranate in size and texture. I first had it on a biscuit and enjoyed it there. It’s sweet enough that ice cream tastes a little diminished in its presence.
In nine days, we’ll be a family of four, having welcomed a new baby girl into the Gradin household on the 24th of this month…at 6:00am. That’s how we role. My wife likes to plan for the unplannable. However, she has made certain assurances for this life-event, and I have little doubt that this date and time are correct.
We’re all looking very much forward to meeting her. You might find yourself wondering what her name is going to be, but you will keep on doing so. So far, absolutely zero people in the known universe (besides Amy and I) are aware of her name. There’s a chance that an advanced race of telepaths may have already discovered our secret. It’s a game we played with Balthazar’s name as well. The reason is largely because we’re not interested in hearing anyone’s doubts, concerns, suggestions, or comments otherwise on our name choice(s). It’s hardest with family, which always has a certain lasting psychological and emotional consequence on the mind. While the name is very important, it is of little matter what that specific name is, really. Once a child’s name is set, it’s generally hard to imagine that child by any other name. That said, the name is nothing more than a parental choice – a right. It’s perhaps the first of many experiments that will imbue your legacy, because what are children if not the parents’ result from hypothesis and experiment.
No doubt many of you wait with bated breath. Still others dread the possibilities. Maybe in the end it will be no big surprise at all.
Mmmm…Zune 3.0. I’ve just read Jason Dunn’s (of ThoughtMedia.com) report on a recent Microsoft meeting discussing the Zune 3.0 release. I am completely sold on the Zune platform and am greatly encouraged by the up-and-coming release. Perhaps the greatest boon of them all is that the Zune team will be including us Zune 30 owners in their next, big update. That means we can use the new software and get updated firmware for new functionality. Dunn writes, “this 3.0 release is underwhelming compared to the 2.0 release. Sexy new hardware excites people more than software and services do,” but I must disagree. While the visual changes are not as drastic as those we saw moving from the original product to 2.0, Zune 3.0 breathes new life into the mobile media device market. On the hardware side, Zune 3.0 does not include any new hardware with the exception of the much-anticipated Zune 120. However, it does include a firmware update which includes wireless Marketplace access, channels (a la Pandora), and buy from FM (where supported, you’ll be able to buy a song off the radio – presumably through the Marketplace). The wireless Internet access is a big win in and of itself. People complained about the lack of this ability since the Zune’s inception and now it’s here. Quit your bitchin’ and start praising the Zune team for delivering! Do I need to remind you that Zune 30 owners get this functionality too?!? We’re also going to see specific audio book support – another hot topic from days past. That means Audible.com support is here (and Overdrive – who is that?). From the examples Dunn delivered, I saw a really cool feature here that allows enabled audio books to display pictures from the book as it is read. I can see a real use here for books I get for Balthazar on the Zune.
The software sees improvements as well. There are some updated looks, an updated social system, and an improved search system among others. Channels in the Zune (software and hardware) look really great. I am a big fan of the Pandora project, so a Zune-similar feature is eagerly sought. The channels are updated automatically and based upon your ratings of music. It’s based on genres, which if yours are anything like mine, will need some cleaning to get narrowed down to a meaningful set. A new social feature allows you to find people in the Marketplace that listen to music like you. As Dunn comments, you can do this yourself now, but it takes quite a bit of time and clicking.
The one point that Dunn brings up as a downer to this feature-rich upgrade is that most of these concepts are designed around the use of a Zune Pass. For $15 per month, the Zune Pass allows you to download all the music you want for up to three people. They still haven’t worked out the issue of assigning different user profiles to this pass. Our pass is in my wife’s name, so I logon with her account to get subscription music. This will effect the way channels work (that is, averaging the music preferences between all users of the Zune Pass instead of offering an individual’s experience), but I know they’ll work this out in time. For now, I’ve learned to deal with the way the pass works and I can accept it. I doubt very seriously the Zune Pass will extend to such services as Audible (it doesn’t currently extend to the MarketPlace video services), so I’d have to look at another subscription price there. I’ve used Audible’s services before, and I did enjoy them very much. I’m a big fan of audio books, so I will likely pony-up at least a basic subscription.
The one thing I don’t know yet is when I can expect this update. Despite Dunn’s lack-luster summary of the 3.0 update, I am very much looking forward to it!
Lennart Green, the foremost close-up card magician of the world, dazzled the audience of TED 2005. I caught the video today on my Zune and was thrilled. His show is very entertaining, quick witted, and his foreignness is close to my heart (Green is from Gothenburg, Sweden). The TED video is around 30 minutes of goodness. Green had me laughing often, and his hand work is second to none. If you ever wanted to be a magician, watch this video and give up on your dreams. You’ll never amount to anything!