Still in Motion

Lots going on these days. But somehow at the same time things seem to be moving slowly. That suits me fine these days. I’ve transitioned into a new day-to-day mode in the new year, working mainly from home as a consultant.

Right after the holidays Anna from the Global Jukebox asked me to help draw up a development roadmap for the next round of features. She has alot of things she wants to do and my plan was approved without hesitation. I had previously been doing the Jukebox as a side project, but now it’s my main thing. With luck it’ll keep on rolling and I can take on other consulting gigs here and there to round things out. I’d love to get back into doing more stuff with the arts, like a museum or cultural organization, or music software, or computational origami, or R&D, any of that kind of thing really. Just whatever looks fun. Meanwhile I have more time for music, origami and other worthwhile pursuits. Sure beats some banal VC backed blockchain bro startup

I’ve been establishing new patterns of time. I tend to alot of actual software development work at night, since it’s quiet and conducive to deep focus. That means I have a fair amount of unstructured time in the daytime. So I’m inventing a routine that works for me to keep things in balance and reduce the burden of figuring out what to do next all the time.

The first thing I did was to reboot my workout routine. I had been working out very early in the morning, usually rushing thru it to get out the door and on time to the office. In the wintertime that means before it gets light out. That’s a major drag. Now I’m working out in the mid to late morning and it feel so much better. I’ve been going up in weight, reps, and distance, and adding in more leg and core work, and taking more time. I feel much better overall. Winter is always the harshest season on my body and my health, but this year I’m doing pretty good so far, and the worst of it is probably over. The days are already getting longer. Spring is coming pretty soon.

Another thing I’ve been trying to do listen to more music, and by that I mean whole albums. For a little while I was shooting for an album a day, but that’s actually quite alot to absorb, so now I’m going for three new albums a week. Sometimes I like to listen to music when I work out, and sometimes I like it quiet. Then I’ll listen to a record first thing in the morning.

I tend to jump from genre to genre, spend a few weeks and move on. For a while it was 70’s smooth jazz (George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., that kind of thing). Before that it was 20th century modern like Holst and Aaron Copeland. Then I was listening to alot of old 70’s and 80’s heavy metal, because Michelle and I have been watching the anime Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, in which alot of the characters are names after classic hard rock and metal bands. I got really into Dio, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Deep Purple and Rainbow (all interconnected), and most of all Iron Maiden, the best of that ilk. I was fan of all of that stuff back in the day, and it was fun to rediscover.

Most recently I’ve been trying to get thru the entire discography of Rush. But man, they have alot of albums. I started at Power Windows, since all the records before that I know really well. Power Windows, Hold Your Fire and Presto actually have 2 or 3 awesome songs each, and then a bunch sorta in the middle. That was their peak synth era, then Roll the Bones feels like they’re coming out of the woods, it’s maybe half great songs. All their records from that era are one or two songs too long.

I skipped ahead to Feedback, which is just great fun. Covers of The Yardbirds, Buffalo Springfield, The Who and Cream. Mr. Soul alone makes it worth it. Then I got to Counterparts. That album is pretty much wall-to-wall amazing. It’s the return to no synthesizers, so it’s petty metal sometimes, but also with prog and 90’s alternative. There’s alot in there. I can’t believe I never got into that album when it was new. The next album after that is Test for Echo, which has a similar tone and maybe half great songs. I’m in the middle of that one now.

I’ve been practicing sax and piano more. Generally I do this in the late afternoon, in lieu of an evening commute. I’m up to three times a week now for each, and at least one of those is a good long session with time to explore new or deep ideas. I’m trying to focus in and improve my actual playing at a technical level, phrasing, dynamics, all that.

I’m particularly trying to level up on sax these days. I’m continuing with Patterns for Jazz, going about ten times the rate it took me in high school (which ended up as two years). I’m doing about ten to twelve patterns a day, shifting ahead by 3 or 4 patterns every practice. These patterns are in all twelve keys (but only written out in C) and move around by different intervals: semitone, whole step, minor third and fourth, so you really get adept a moving thru different keys quickly. I’m also woodshedding more standards.

I think when I’m done on sax I’m gonna go thru the book on piano. For now on the piano I’m working on voicing and moving thru chords without playing melodies. Also learning some standards, and dusting off some of my originals, as it looks like the prog-funk originals project might be happening after all. I put an ad on Cragislist and got a hit, a guitarist who sings and writes. We’re trying to work out a time to get together. Hopefully more on that soon.

I’ve trying to devote more time to origami as well. However, this post is getting pretty long, so more on that next time.

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