I’m about halfway through with A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is a bummer, because it’s a library book that’s due today. It is a fascinating look at the history of science, and it’s full of interesting things, like this: The same guy who invented Tetraethyl Lead as an anti-knock gasoline additive, also invented Freon. So two of the worst things ever to affect the atmosphere, lead and CFCs, are both the work of one man, Thomas Midgley, Jr.

Another interesting one? Madame Curie’s personal effects were exposed to so much radioactive material, that people put on leather lead lined gloves and aprons just to look at her cookbooks!

Have you tried these new microfiber cleaning cloths yet? If not, you should – everything they claim seems to be true – I got a couple last week, and you really can dust without chemicals and the dust jumps on them like a Swiffer&#153, or clean windows with nothing but water. I also got a waffle-looking Scotchbrite&#153 microfiber kitchen rag, and it even took the kitchen grease off the exhaust grille on our microwave stove hood without soap. It’s almost fun to clean with these things.

I learned a new word today, sprezzatura, courtesy of Ftrain.com. It’s an Italian word from the high renaissance that means, roughly, the art of making the difficult look easy. It also implies a certain spontaneity and nonchalance in the execution.

The Beatles certainly had sprezzatura, but you know those guys worked hard at what they did – John Lennon said something to the effect that they thought of themselves as craftsmen, going in to work every day to practice getting better at their craft. Or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who writes as if he’s speaking off the top of his head, but I know from an interview he did many years ago that for some of his more complicated novels, he actually graphed out all of the characters and events against a timeline on the back of rolls of wallpaper.

My personal mission statement begins with the overall mission, ‘To move easily through the world as a man of good conscience,’ and I love that image of just breezing on through it all. Sprezzatura!

One of the strange things that I think about from time to time is, ‘What if there was some horrible cataclysm, and I were one of the few people who survived. How much of human culture could I be relied on to carry single-handedly into the future, and would it be enough to prevent a new dark age?’ A slight variant on this thought is, ‘If I were abducted by aliens as a representative homo sapiens sapiens, what picture of our species would they get from downloading my brain?’

I think the bottom line is that I do know enough to keep us from falling into a dark age, but it really makes me realize how much I (or any one person) comes up short. I mean, arithmetic and algebra would carry on, but calculus might be a bit spotty, and if it depends on me, Euler substitutions are not going to be around anymore. All languages other than English would be lost. I’d be sure to tell them that everything is made of atoms. A lot of music stuff would be saved, even if I were the only person in the world who could still tune a guitar. Of course, there’s a lot of other areas that I could at least describe or interpret, so maybe we’d be OK. Sure is interesting to think about, though.

I have been really frustrated because my current ISP is limiting me to 10 MB total space, and I’ve wanted to upload a buttload of my music, and I realized awhile ago that even though my old ISP has been out of business for years, my old, more or less unlimited server space is still accessible through FTP. Long story short, I’ve uploaded several megabytes of my original songs to my old FTP, and I’m linking to them in the table below. Enjoy while you can!

I Don’t Love You No More
A lighthearted country ditty.
Why Are We All So Afraid?
Really cool guitar – good lyrics & good atmosphere provided by my brother Kevin.
All I Ever Wanna Do
Good song – the girl I wrote it for was unimpressed, but that’s OK – I like it. Not a very good recording, though.
Couples & Money
Very nice, bouncy little Beatlesque thing. Actually appears on a commercial audiobook by the same name, in a slightly different studio recording that’s not as good.
Go with the Flow
Major Lennon-ish production number.
For Chaaya
Very real sounding classical guitar piece, but it ain’t live – it’s Memorex. Even when I actually played this many years ago, I used several tracks.
Sometimes It’s Hard
This may well be the best thing I’ve ever come up with.
Levi’s 501 Ad
This was back in the days when Sasson jeans was running an ad where Elton John sang ‘Sassons mean so much.’ I actually sent it to Levi’s via Foote, Cone & Belding, and they sent it back registered mail with a copy of their unsolicited ideas policy.
Look Around
Another Lennon song I tried to write.

No Woman Blues
What it says.

Out in the Rain
This is my first big piano number from when we got my mother-in-law’s old piano a few years ago.

20-something angst about a long-distance romance. Nice pseudo-classical acoustic solo piece played live.

I’m So in Love with You
This may be my most elaborate production number to date.

Ton of Pain
Another light-hearted country piece.