Politics is how I enter the world. But music is how I live in and escape it. This wasn’t always the case, though. I’m not one of those people who was born with a passion.

I have memories about playfully arguing about “old” versus “new” music with my mom when I was pretty young, but my awakening, as it were, didn’t occur until my early teens. It was the summer of 1992 and I was spending the summer with dad, stepmom, and (step)sister. Preparing for a road trip to Michigan, I can recall going to a music store; it was probably my sister’s idea.

Though I don’t recall what she left with, I remember distinctly her recommending to me The Final Cut, by Pink Floyd. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t already a fan, but I thought my sister was so cool that I would have eagerly listened to anything she suggested. It might be the very first album I ever purchased.

And thus began my obsession with Pink Floyd and my love of music of all kinds.

In high school, nearly all the money I had was spent on CDs. In college, I would spend countless hours browsing and downloading songs on Napster.

Over the last week, I was banging my head struggling to find something to write. Nothing. Nothing came to mind that sparked any creativity in me. Then, while browsing Facebook, I came across this:

Automatic Unearthed


Automatic For The People, by R.E.M., celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. When it was released in October of 1992, I was 14 years old. At the time, my music collection was in its infancy; I’ve owned this album longer than nearly any other. And while I am a fan of the band, no other album of theirs comes close to matching the brilliance and beauty of this masterpiece.

The Music

I completely geek-out on stuff like that 25-minute documentary. And other things, too. Earworm is a series of videos published by Vox News. It is great and geeky. Some of them I’ve watched more than once.

In a similar vein, while feeding one of my other geeky pleasures, The West Wing, by listening to The West Wing Weekly Podcast, I learned about another brilliantly obsessive music podcast: Song Exploder. In this podcast, the musicians break down their songs, the inspiration for and the process of their creation.

Even more basic than these, sometimes I’ll spend hours on YouTube bouncing from one music video to another: weird covers, original videos, live concerts. And I’ll obsess over lyrics, listening to a song over and over until I’ve got them down. Then I’ll poke around the inter-webs reading about the real or perceived meaning of those lyrics.

The Technology

It’s not just the music that’s important, but how I experience it.

Toward the end of college, as my appreciation grew, I wanted to hear music better. I wanted it louder and with better quality and clarity, so I bought my first hi-fi stereo system: an Onkyo 5-Disc changer, 5.1 surround receiver, two tower speakers and a sub-woofer. I loved that thing. Almost more than family and friends, when I moved to Hawaiʻi I was sad to leave it behind.

But I don’t spend much time at home, honestly, so the possession of high-quality headphones has been important to me for a while. Over the years, I’ve owned a range of brands from Bose to Sennheiser, to my current pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones.

I’m constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of my music listening experience, both at home and on the go. At home, I’m contemplating a return to a purer time: buying a turntable and building a collection of vinyl albums. Such a setup is absent the ease of shuffling through the more than 5100 MP3s on my computer. But as I sit here, writing this, and listening to that seminal album by R.E.M. from beginning to end, I’m thinking it might be worth it.

For my days away from the house, I’ve been eyeballing a tiny Bluetooth amplifier from bluewave. See, my iPhone doesn’t provide enough power to properly drive my ATH-M50x’s.

My Life

My brain, my memories, feelings… are all built on music. There is nothing else in this world that can dig up real emotion for me like music can. Beyond that, I can’t concentrate without music playing somewhere. Silent libraries are for other people.

Though it doesn’t really surprise me; I wrote similarly on this topic nearly a decade ago:

I can’t say I internalize or absorb songs, because often times I can’t accurately recall lyrics, notes, melodies, or rhythm without hearing at least part of the song. It’s like every song I like or love is simply indexed in my brain and hearing a part of it pulls the rest from countless neurons.

Songs themselves can serve as indexes for memories. Numerous songs serve as indexes for places, people, and events in my life. Hearing such a song immediately puts me back in that place. Or numerous memories regarding a particular person can come flooding back to me from simply hearing a few notes of a certain song. These memories are vivid; I can recall facial expressions, furniture arrangements, the time of day, voices, clothing, etc. Yes, songs serve as place holders for my notoriously bad memory.

And because I love music so much, I even do my own lip-sync videos; I’ll sing along and dance around my house, so why not occasionally share that joy with others. Check them out.

My emotional drive to make the world better led me to a life in politics, but music makes me smile. And cry. And dance.

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A Saucerful of Secrets

Reading an article from The Atlantic (All Ears: A Musical Homecoming) this morning, I found today’s post topic.

I love music.

My affinity for it, I think, can be attributed to my sister. Though she’s only a year older, when I was young, I thought she was so cool. I have memories of musical artist posters adorning the walls of her room and wondering who they were. My discovery of Tracy chapman and my longtime love of Pink Floyd can be directly attributed to her.

After my Bar Mitzvah, I used some of my gift money to buy my first CD stereo and album CD; it was Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints.

In high school, I spent a considerable amount of money on CDs and concert tickets. The size of my music collection exploded: Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, morphine, The Wolfgang Press, and more. At 16, my very first concert was Meat Loaf in the spring of 1994 (I love the internet). In 1996, I and a good friend spent the night waiting in line for tickets to Pink Floyd at Arrowhead Stadium.

I was away at college when Napster and online sharing hit the mainstream. With little money to spend, my music collecting shifted away from CDs to MP3s and my catalog grew even larger.

Despite all this, I didn’t I really find a deep appreciation for music until I was much older. I can’t really say how I came to it. I think it was a combination of factors and people. People whose music knowledge and appreciation exceeded my own and from whom I learned a great deal. I learned to appreciate all kinds of melodies, rhythms, and musical styles. I also gained self-confidence to “like what I like” separate and independent of what was popular.

From classical music to some rap, to pop, and heavy metal. From indie rock, to Motown, electronic, or folk, or jazz, or alternative, or classic rock, or blues, I can find something to appreciate in it all. Even country music.

Now, considering myself an amateur audiophile, how I experience music is just as important as the music itself. I don’t spend nearly as much money acquiring music as I did in high school. And I don’t spend any considerable time downloading music the way I did in college. Instead, I’ve spent far more money on the means by which I listen to music.

Hundreds of dollars were spent on a home theater system; not for the purpose of experiencing surround sound movies, but for a full, apartment-filling, high-quality music-listening experience. The same can be said for headphones.

In both cases, I devoted substantial time researching the best quality product I could afford within my budget. Never being one for name brand following, I care less about the label and more about the quality. No Sony, or Beats Audio, Apple, or Panasonic, or even Bose.

There’s a part of me that really appreciates the musical options afforded in this digital age. Thousands of songs and hundreds of albums all on my computer, or smart phone, or iPod. Streaming music like Pandora or Spotify provides additional options, as well.

For some time, though, I’ve been contemplating a return to a simpler way of experiencing music. In high school, I flirted briefly with building a collection of vinyl LPs, but practical concerns of money and space put that flirtation quickly to rest. Now that I’m older, the audiophile part of my brain has been itching for a turntable and the requisite collection of vinyl records. Despite having more space and money, I’ve hesitated making this a more serious hobby worthy of devoting significant resources.

The Atlantic article, which I would encourage you to read if you feel even remotely about music as I do (and there’s some cool illustrations), gives me reason to reconsider a look at music as a serious hobby. Though I’ve mostly resisted completely abandoning CDs as a way of acquiring music, I never listen to them anymore. Instead, I simply put them on my computer and store the CD.

In much the way I’ve resisted digital music purchases, so is the case with books. Though I’ve bought a handful of Kindle books, I like the idea of all the books I’ve read perched on a bookshelf. I’ve thought about creating, essentially, wallpaper out of my CD liners as a kind of home decoration; like a bookshelf for my music.

Or, thinking about music in a slightly different way, I’ll refer to a quote at the closing of the Atlantic article;

Dacey recalls another time and place, which she describes as “four or five friends around a turntable and listening to a record that one person had just bought. We miss those kinds of rituals.” Like our ancestors gathered around a fire at night, we feel music best when we hear it out loud and together. A complex alchemy of neurochemistry, engineering, and human evolution, the magic that music conjures has no single, fixed location, but when conditions are right, as Rogers puts it, “you close your eyes and you’re right there.”

This conception of experiencing music hits me right in the nostalgic feels. Maybe I’ll take a hard look at building a good collection of vinyl records. Maybe its time to begin researching turntables.

Then, invite some friends over to “gather around a fire.”

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i’ve been using a bluetooth headset with my iPhone to make calls.

some time back, the receiver speaker on the phone became annoyingly quiet, even with the volume set at maximum. it’s been so annoying, in fact, that i don’t really even want to use the phone without the bluetooth headset.

maybe i’m going deaf, but i don’t think so.

i got this phone two years ago. at the time i moved to one of the installment plans that allows me to upgrade every two years. since the receiver started acting up, i’ve been waiting patiently to reach that two-year mark.

finally, this week i crossed that line!

i went to my local at&t store after work yesterday to see about upgrading to the iPhone 7 plus. though i was prepared to hand over my phone for the new larger shiny one, i was disappointed to learn that i’d have to wait for apple to ship it to me. apparently, the model i wanted is among the most popular and there’s a slight back order. and here i thought i was unique in my tastes. oh well.

so i’m eagerly waiting the two weeks, or so, it will take to get my new iphone.

though i do buy more stuff online now that i used to, there’s something frustrating about waiting for boats, planes, trucks, etc. to bring your new toy. it lacks the instant gratification of walking out of the store with it in hand.

still hurray for new iphone 7 plus!

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its been a busy week. at the office there’s been a notable uptick in workload. and at home, i’m putting the finishing touches on my application for graduate school.

still, i’m trying my best to post as regularly as i can….

i may have mentioned that, in a last-ditch effort to be coupled, i’ve been enrolled in two separate online dating services. i have for some time now, been receiving email notifications of “matches,” dating tips, and the like. some weeks, i pay more attention than others. sometimes all those emails to strait to my email’s trash bin.

but last week, i received one such match notification that made me seriously consider cancelling both subscriptions and settling finally into the reality of perpetual bachelorhood.

brace for the rant….

i’ve questioned from the beginning the “science” of online dating. while both and eharmony claim to be great at matching someone based on some determined set of criteria. i’ve never been able to reconcile their claims with my experience and one match in particular has now convinced me they’re all snake oil salesmen.

are. you. fucking. kidding.

using what criteria can this match have been made for me? have answers to a personality questionnaire suggested i’m a repressed racist? or just a moron? or, maybe neither, but my responses otherwise imply that i’m compatible with a moron? or racist/misogynist? have i been looking for a fascist idiot this whole time and just didn’t know it?

no. i may have my own carry-on bag of crazy, but i have a pretty good idea of the type of women i’m interested in. though kinda cute, there’s no fucking way in hell this “match” could be in the ballpark of close to right for me.

so. now i’ve concluded, finally, there is no science involved. no deep analysis of my likes, dislikes, personality…, whatever. “oh, she likes dogs and romantic comedies too!” “you both work in the same field.”

in no fucking universe that exists could this crazy, moron, racist girl be compatible with me “based on 29 points” as eharmony boasts.

there’s no science, no proven technique behind online match dating. you’re chances are just as good (or not, as the case may be) that you’ll meet someone, maybe a soulmate, randomly in a bar, coffeeshop, etc.

it’s a hoax people! save your money! i’m certainly going to.

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no official post today. i’ve been preoccupied with updating my wordpress and looking at themes to revamp the site (yet again).

there are some good free themes i’m looking at, like libra, or twenty sixteen. but i’m also seriously contemplating stepping up and purchasing a theme like paulie, or rainier.

if you’re so inclined, take a look and let me know what you think.

part of the impetus to move to a new theme is the need for my blog to work well on mobile devices. currently it really doesn’t; try it out…. with a couple weeks of posting (nearly) everyday, i’m a little frustrated i don’t seem to be getting any increased traffic to the site and i’m looking for ways to remedy that. hopefully a new, sleek, mobile-friendly theme for my blog will help address the problem.

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