Starry Skies Sounding  (2015Jul21)


Tuesday, July 21, 2015                                             8:06 PM

Whilst casting about for titles for today’s crop of piano improvs, I supposed the heat of summer made me conscious of how summer is caused by our hemisphere leaning more towards our star, Sol, than during the rest of the year. So I’m using famous stars’ names for titles today: Polaris (Ursae Minoris), Sirius (Dog Star), Algol (Beta Persei or Demon Star), and Sol (Sun). Don’t expect the artwork to correspond to the title stars—I just used a general Astronomy theme for the videos.

I’m astronomically inclined due to both last week’s New Horizons flyby of Pluto (successful after a nine-year voyage) and the anniversary, yesterday, of the first moon landing. But who am I kidding? I’m always into astronomy, space flight, science fiction, all that stuff. In time, my fascination became leavened with the realization that outer space is not the old west—pioneering in the twenty-first century is a long game, generations long, given the distances and the difficulties.

Plus, once you’re up there, you need a heat shield just to get home again—if you thought it surprising that a sandstorm’s winds can scour the flesh right off your bones, just imagining mere atmospheric friction turning you into a piece of overdone bacon. Still, I love NASA, I worship astronauts and cosmonauts, and I’ll never lose the thrill of ‘boldly going’ somewhere where the gravity is a balmy zero.

One exception is the final video, “Sol (Sun)”, which uses some handheld video of our neighbor Sherryl’s garden—it’s kinda jumpy, so my apologies if you find it unwatchable. If you can hang on, there’s some very pretty flowers—even a couple of bees and butterflies.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015                                                4:05 PM

Oh, What A Busy Day!   (2015Jul22)

Claire drove me to the DMV this morning at the crack of 10:30 am—and we didn’t get out until 11:30—just wait ‘til those people see my Yelp review. But then we went to the Eveready Diner, which I would highly recommend—if I did Yelp reviews. Not that I have anything against it—I just don’t get out much—and I don’t have a cell-phone. I’d have to acquire a life before I acquired the modern habit of sharing it, interface-wise, on the fly—like the kids do. Plus, I’d have to start wearing my glasses all the time, trying to interface with those small screens and keyboards. Someone will eventually roll out the new ‘senior model’ I-pad—about a foot and a half square—with a full-size, ergonomic keyboard for a ‘kickstand’.

When we returned I went next door to visit with Sherryl—her garden has been the subject of some recent videos, but she showed me her biannual hollyhocks (nice perfume) and some other amazing flower whose name eludes recall.

[insert flowers pictures here]

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Hollyhocks (I think)

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Sherryl told me three times and I still forget the name…

This time, I took video as well as stills, and I found, upon editing it just now, that it looks much better at half-speed—it reduces my hand-shakey-ness and lets the viewer get a better look at the flowers. I would have loved to retain the soundtrack if it had just had the bird-calls and bee-buzzings, but all that cool shit was drowned out by the whine of landscaper power-tools and passing traffic. Changing the speed ruins the audio anyhow—so it all works out. I think it’s a pretty fair tour of a summer garden in full glory. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use twelve minutes of garden tour for a five minute music video—maybe I should just go play some more piano….

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Nah, that way lies madness. I’ll edit it down to just the best parts and see what’s left—maybe I can distill its essence into five minutes. Like I said—busy day. Whenever I go over there with a camera I end up with hours of post-work here at the computer—today, for instance, I got over forty good photos along with the video footage.

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Back in pre-digital days, most of my shots didn’t come out the way I wanted, if they came out at all. All the things my daughter, the photographer, has learned to do so painstakingly by hand are mostly done for me when I set it to ‘Auto’. A camera’s ‘auto’ does a lot—focus, light-level, aperture, who knows what-all else, and although I can’t adjust these factors artistically, as a professional photographer does, it still lets me take a great picture. In the old days, I’d pay good money to get a roll of film developed, but I’d be lucky to get two or three photos I really liked. So that’s another effect of digital—I have much more experience with a camera than I would have in earlier times—we all do. Photographs now are not only free (the big plus) but we get instant feed-back from the camera’s digital display—telling us when to take a second try at something we messed up.

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I like being older—because of such things. Someone who’s never used a Brownie and waited weeks to get back terrible black-and-white prints that cost money—a younger person just can’t appreciate what a wonder a digital camera is. Like me with light-switches—I had to be taught what a wonderful thing they were—I had to be taught that they weren’t always part of the walls of houses—I grew up thinking they were nothing special, just something that was always there. I was in my teens before I saw an electrician wire a frame-house under construction—I suddenly understood that a house has a nervous system, so to speak. I was even older when I learned specifics of the history of Michael Faraday, Joseph Henry, Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, et. al. And even so, I’ll marvel at the parade of history, but a light-switch is still just a light-switch to me—yet a digital camera will always be a small miracle.

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Hope you like the music!….

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