Quote of the day…

Nothing to see here, folks, please move along...I’m reading a library book of essays by my hero Abraham Maslow, and he quotes Alan Watts as saying:

“…in the moment of death many people undergo the curious sensation not only of accepting but of having willed everything that has happened to them. This is not willing in the imperious sense; it is the unexpected discovery of an identity betweeen the willed and the inevitable.”

So I’m guessing there is a god.

Good News / Bad News

This week we bit the bullet and signed up for SBC/Yahoo! DSL service. The good news is that it works great &#150 we’re getting about 1.2 MB/sec on the download side, and it only took about an hour to get the new wireless router to work, so I’m blogging from my wireless laptop and it works from anywhere in our yard, including our old metal-sided garage, so that’s cool.

But I just read the fine print, and after a year, instead of the $26.95/mo that we’re at now (and this from responding to the ads during American Idol touting a rate of $19.95) the fine print says we’ll be paying the standard rate of $49.95 from then on. Oh well, beats dial-up, right?

But I’m really concerned about how to do this blog! Right now, I’ve got 25 MB of content at Inreach.com, and Yahoo! doesn’t have any “free” hosting except Geocities with ads, which is unacceptable, not only because of the ads, but because you can’t FTP content. They have an “upload tool” that does one file at a time, and I’d like to migrate the whole 25 MB, pictures and all.

So, as I understand it, my options are to pay for an upgrade to the tune of $4.95 – $8.95 a month to have an ad-free Geocities account with FTP access, to keep my existing setup with Inreach at $18.50/mo, or to go with some other free but awkward solution like Asparaguspee.blogspot.com, and use Picasa’s Hello bloggerbot to upload and host the pictures?

Any advice from my blogger buddies would be more than welcome.

And changing all the setups at Blogrolling, Sitemeter, Haloscan, Sacramento’s Top 25, Blogger, etc., and losing all my existing pagerank mojo on Google? Oh my.

Happy Day-after-Valentine’s

I’m a day late and a dollar short, but all day long, the fact that yesterday was Valentine’s Day has had me singing and hearing an old song called Come Again that I used to sing in my voice class when I was a Music Theory major back at Arizona State in the mid ’80s. It’s by John Dowland, circa 1600.

Come again, sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die
With thee again, in sweetest sympathy.

Come again, that I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain,
For now left and forlorn,
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain, and endless misery.

Gentle love, draw forth thy wounding dart.
Thou cans’t not pierce her heart
For I that do approve,
By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts, did tempt,
While she for triumph laughs.

To truly appreciate this stuff, you have to remember that in a more chivalrous age, around the time when people started saying “God bless you!” every time somebody sneezed to keep their souls from leaving their bodies, “to die” meant to have a really good orgasm.

Or so I’ve been told.

Blog on a G String – Freedom through Discipline for Violin

I have been reading a good book called The Big Questions, by Lou Marinoff, and a passage I ran across yesterday reminded me of some related things I’d read recently. This is going to be a long post, but I think it’s worth it, so bear with me &#151 I’m just going to plop them all out here and let you put them together the same way I did:

“If a violin string is lying on a table loose and detached from any violin, some might suppose it “free” because it is unconstrained. But what, one should ask oneself, is it “free” to do or be? Certainly it cannot vibrate with beautiful music in such a condition of limpness. Yet if you fasten one end of it to the tailpiece of the violin and the other to a peg in the scroll, then tighten it to its allotted pitch, you have rendered it free to play. And you might say that spiritually the string has been liberated by being tied tightly at both ends. For this is one of the great paradoxes of the world to be seen and tested on every side: the principle of emancipation by discipline.”—Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life

“Take, for example, Itzhak Perlman, whom we discussed earlier. Do you think he ever said to himself, ‘What is the least I can do and still become the finest violinist in the world?’
Hearing Itzhak Perlman play the violin is more than a musical experience–it is a shattering eclipse–a symphony of sensory and spiritual delight. Itzhak Perlman does something much more than play the violin brilliantly. How do you suppose he came to be so gifted?

Every morning Itzhak Perlman wakes up at five-fifteen. He showers, has a light breakfast, and begins his morning practice session, which lasts for four and a half hours. He has lunch, reads for a while, exercises, and then begins his afternoon practice session, which lasts for four and a half hours. In the evening, he has dinner and relaxes with his family. This is Itzhak Perlman’s schedule every single day of the year, except for concert days.
On the day of a concert, he wakes up at five-fifteen, showers, has breakfast, and begins his morning practice session, which lasts for four and a half hours. He has lunch, reads for a while, exercises, and takes a nap for ninety minutes. When he wakes, he gets dressed and goes to the concert venue. There they perform a sound check and have a brief rehearsal. Forty-five minutes before the concert, Mr. Perlman is found alone in his dressing room. Two security guards are placed outside the locked door with explicit instructions to let no one in under any circumstances.

What do you think he does?

He prays. Itzhak Perlman prays. How do you think Itzhak Perlman chooses to pray at this time? Do you think he says ‘God, will you please let me play the violin brilliantly tonight?’ This could be, but it is not the type of petition that leaves Itzhak wondering if God will answer his prayer. When Itzhak Perlman says to God, ‘Will you please let me play the violin brilliantly tonight?’ he does not doubt for one single moment that God will answer his prayer.

Why? Because Itzhak Perlman plays the violin brilliantly for nine hours a day, every single day, day in and day out, in an empty room, for nobody but his God. Itzhak Perlman upholds his part of the deal. Passion. Dedication. Belief. So when Itzhak Perlman says, ‘God, will you please let me play the violin brilliantly tonight?’ he knows with absolute certitude that God will answer his prayer.”—Matthew Kelly, The Rhythm of Life
(Used by permission.)

“The ordinarily brilliant violinist Yitzhak Perlman exemplified the extraordinary in an unforgettable recital at New York’s Lincoln Center. At the very beginning of an orchestral work in which he was the featured soloist, he broke a string. Everyone heard it snap, and the orchestra stopped playing. Normally, a musician would replace the string. There would be an understandable delay. In Perlman’s case, such an occurrence would also be more arduous. A victim of childhood polio, he walks slowly and painfully – yet majestically – with leg braces and crutches. He lays down the crutches and removes the braces before he starts playing. Now he would have to put them on again, and make his way offstage and eventually back onstage, in order to effect the replacement.

Instead, he did something unthinkable. He stayed where he was, with the imperfect instrument, and nodded to the conductor to restart the piece. Jack Reimer, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle who was in the audience, later wrote: ‘And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night, Yitzhak Perlman refused to know that… When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.’

Then Perlman said something profoundly philosophical to the audience, and as unforgettable as his performance: ‘You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.’”—Lou Marinoff, Ph.D., The Big Questions

(With extra-special Asparagus Pee thanks and a big kiss to The Lady Janet for typing this all up this morning so I could cut-and-paste it here. She must really love me!)

Presidential Quote of the Day

This just in from whitehouse.gov. The President demonstrates a clear understanding of his proposed Social Security reforms:

THE PRESIDENT: Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled. Look, there’s a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I’ll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

Music vs. Sports

Something occurred to me while I was watching Paul McCartney’s half-time show. One of the ways you can tell that music is more important than sports is that they’d never stop in the middle of, say, a Paul McCartney concert to watch people play football for 20 minutes.

Here’s a picture of our new cat, Dolly, and another picture of the cat, some broccoli that’s growing in our garden, and proof that I’m going to have to mow our deck soon.