Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Treo 650 Mini Review

I picked up a new Sprint Treo 650 yesterday; it's a keeper. It is in all the ways I can find superior to my Sprint Treo 600.


* The keys are bigger, flatter and easier to push; it is much easier to type on the 650.
* The screen is SO much nicer; photos look great!
* The camera is totally useable, even in low light. The camera on the 600 was useless, IMHO.
* The screen resolution allows other apps to work better; for instance, PalmVNC looks much nicer and is much more useful as the higher resolution doubles the size of your control window. Also, pssh will allow unix apps that require minimum terminal sizes (such as "w") to funtion properly. You've never seen terminal text so small, however.
* Bluetooth is very cool. Setting up Bluetooth syncing is terribly easy with a Mac, and the syncing is very handy, if not faster than USB sync.


* Versamail 3.0 (only available on the 650) seems to have problems with my SSL IMAP server; I have been unable to use it so far. Sprint support is contacting Palmone about this problem; in the meantime the Snappermail Demo works fine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Wife Gives a Big Thumbs up for the DVR

As soon as Comcast put the DVR in (a Tivo-like device, but which can record HDTV as well) the wife totally took it over. Within hours it was recording "Road Rules" and Alton Brown's "Good Eats" (the only cooking show I can bear to watch). This from the lady who didn't want HDTV, didn't want Tivo, etc.

Pat Robertson a Liar or Deluded by the Devil?


"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said on his 700 Club program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."

So, either he's a liar or he's deluded (by Satan, maybe)? Bush won by a tiny majority.

I guess people will stop listening to him now.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The New Steven R. Donaldson book

I just started reading the new Steven R. Donaldson book, "The Runes of Earth (the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant)".

Of all the Tolkien-influenced fantasy books, the Thomas Covenant series made the largest impression on my teenaged self. Rape, despair, murder, being a leper and a pariah in the community, it was heady stuff. (All right, I had a lot of angst as a teenager. Sue me) Looking back and remembering it now it seems overwrought, although I have occasionally gone back and read parts of the final volumes of each series.

I'm only a few chapters into the new book, and it certainly begins with a bang. I won't give away the plot except that it stars Linden Avery, the despairing doctor who fell in love with and was eventually redeemed by Thomas Covenant, and takes place 10 years after the events of the last series.

The one comment I wanted to make is that, beyond the surface Tolkienisms, one main underlying theme is the same in both series, which is the evil of despair. If you've ever read Tom Shippey's two books of Tolkien analysis, "The Road to Middle Earth" and "J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century", you will know that that was one of the most important themes of the Trilogy and of the Hobbit. Donaldson uses more "modern" idioms to get this point across, but it's interesting that they have such a similar theme.

I recommend it for those who enjoy epic fantasy.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Comcast HD with DVR

Just got my new HDTV DVR installed. This is the second attempt by Comcast; the first attempt on Monday this week failed when we found that the cable box would reboot itself every time I went to a menu. This time (Saturday) the installer was one and half hours late, but was very knowledgeable and this time the device worked. It's a dual tuner DVR with a 120 gigabyte hard drive; evidently this means up to 15 hours of HDTV recording.

It's cool; you can record one channel while watching another, and you can pause and rewind live TV. Besides the outputs I'm using (audio over fiber, component video) it also has fireware, usb and ethernet connectors. It'll be interesting to see if these become useful.

Apple's developer software comes with a simple firewire recorder; I understand I could record HDTV streams to my Mac but I won't be able to play them back from there. Not much point to that.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Warren Ellis digs one of my improvs!

Quote: 'Plasmabat's 'Sweet Dirge With Choir Patch" is a gorgeous buzzy piece of guitar-ambient. I love it.'

This is Lynda's favorite from Compost as well.

Sometimes I'm almost embarassed to publish these improvs; isn't it a bit like wanking? But it's a beautiful world where I can wank for your enjoyment.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"Sideways" is both very funny and slightly sweet. Recommended. Paul Giamatti is hilarious.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Just saw The Incredibles again, this time in DLP. It was wonderful, despite a projector problem that slightly marred the picture. Admittedly, I'm into the fantastic stuff, but this is one great movie. It always helps when you have some really uninhibited people in the audience who laugh at everything. Emeryville audiences are in for a nice in-joke or two :)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Test from my Treo - maybe i'll write more this way ...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Christmas Concerts

I'll be performing with Bella Musica:

Sergei Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil (Vespers)

One of the greatest musical monuments of the Russian Orthodox Church. "In the Vespers of 1915, Rachmaninoff reached perfect homogeneity, and the greatest technical richness and wealth of sound."

Concert Dates

Friday, December 10, 8:00 pm
Arlington Community Church, 52 Arlington Ave, Kensington.

Sunday, December 12, 4:00 pm
St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2005 Berryman St. (at Milvia St.), Berkeley.

Admission is by donation. Recommended donation: $12 general and $10 for students and seniors.

For more information or to purchase advance tickets for these events, please call 510-525-5393 or

All concert venues are wheelchair-accessible


You decide. I'd have a wife and cats to think of.

No this is not about Fallujah.

No this is not about the Alamo, dammit.

Friday, August 27, 2004

More on Loomer in Japan

Update: 9/3/2004 - The lastest order for CD's has been increased to 400! Serge is preparing a new CD pressing of 1000.

Here is the explanation from Boomba Records in Japan as to why they want so many Loomer CD's:

>>We distribute the CD through stores, Tower Records, HMV, etc.. The Loomer
>>was recognized among Japanese rock fans as an unknown masterpiece of the
>>late 90s who was influenced by My Bloody Valentine (they
>>are very popular in Japan). The CD title "Loomer" works for those
>>fans. A limited copies of the CD were distributed in Japan in 1998.
>>Tower Records in Shinjuku sold 130 copies in two weeks.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Packets in Space!

Evidently they are working on making TCP/IP (the protocol of the internet) work in space. They have to compensate for the huge latencies (a Google request to the Sun would take 8 minutes each way) and relativistic effects.

Personally, I'm looking for UDP over neutrino flux ;)

Yes, El, I'm a geek.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Land of the Rising Loomer

For some unknown reason there seems to be a demand for Loomer music in Japan; Evileye Records already has orders for 300 of them, and are likely to have to do another pressing.

This is terribly interesting and exciting, and totally confusing. I wonder what is driving this?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Lost Opportunity

Over a year ago I jammed with a couple of nice musicians in San Francisco. It was a drummer and a singer and they were looking to flesh out a band that would have explored some areas of music that were very interesting to me.

I went to their rehersal room in San Francisco, a cramped room in the back of a restaurant, I think. We played, just improvisations. I had my double-necked Carvin Guitar and a rack of effects and was playing with some very dreamy textures that were sometimes pretty funky as well. I could see that the singer was enjoying my work; she started moving to the sounds and rhythms I was making and sang some pretty sweet things. However, even though the drummer had told me his influences and they were all people and groups that I loved (and he even had a King Crimson "Discipline" tatoo, for God's sake), it just didn't seem to work for me. He felt both stiff and sloppy, as though he hadn't played in a long time, and I had a lot of difficulty playing with him. In the end, I just didn't think I wanted to play with him, thanked them, and left. I contacted the singer afterwards by email and let her know that I had enjoyed her work, but just didn't think I'd work well with the drummer, and she replied that she understood. I thought we had parted on good terms.

A few months later I saw an ad in Craigslist for a bass player that looked very interesting. I sent them an email, listing my influences and some links to some of my mp3 demos, and waited for a response. And waited. Eventually I tried to contact them again, and talked to their guitar player, and found it was the same group plus him. He promised to forward my email to the singer, who eventually responded with a polite refusal to meet with me.

And I feel bad about this. Every time I see an ad of theirs (and there's a new one now; evidently the band they put together the first time didn't work out) it seems to be the perfect situation for me; just the right influences and goals. I'm saddened that I couldn't convice them that we should give it another shot. I told the singer about one of my very favorite drummers, who is also extremely difficult to play with. However, when I played back recordings of him I was often stunned at what he had really been doing; in other words, it was worth the pain ;) Perhaps this might have been a similar situation. I don't know why they are so opposed to trying it again; I guess I really offended them by turning them down the first time? My guess is that she really thought we had connected while jamming, and that it was as though we'd had a good date and I hadn't called the next day. Musicians are a sensitive lot ;) I'll probably never know.

"The Village"

I feel awfully sorry for Roger Ebert at the moment. I went to see "The Village" last night. "The Village" is M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie, and it's lovely. The cast is wonderful, the cinematography is wonderful, the sound and music are just right. Bryce Dallas Howard, as the blind daughter of the patriarch of the village, is a standout, especially for her movie debut.

So, I feel bad for Roger Ebert because he wasn't able to enjoy this fine movie. In a way, I understand his point; I can't reveal anything about the film other than that, as usual, M. Night Shyamalan has included a twist that might very well make you feel as Mr. Ebert does, but it just didn't bother me, and I hope no one that has enjoyed other pictures by this director will avoid it because of his review; believe me, you will enjoy it! It certainly borders on the unbelieveable, but then again, in a world where Michael Jackson can live on his Neverland Ranch, it's not that much of a stretch. I would have hated to miss such wonderful characters and pictures just because of it.

BTW, I saw the DLP (digital light projection) version and it was very good; the pixelation was minimal and the picture was wonderful. Recommended.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

"Control Room" highly recommended!

I highly recommend seeing the movie "Control Room", the movie about Al Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war. No anti-Bush tirades, no fake drama, no whiny hand-wringing about evil, just a bunch of normal, concerned people (on both sides) trying to do their jobs.

I would like to meet and talk with all these people, even including the CENTCOM media coordinator.

Have you ever wondered if the Al Jazeera reporters are really the lying, propaganda spewers that Donald Rumsfeld kept saying they were? Here's how to find out! (Hint: remember who you heard that from).

Update: Evidently the CENTCOM media coordinator mentioned above has been muzzled by the Marine Corp. What a shame; he really put a human face on the American Military, and seemed to be the sort of person we wish all our military personnel could be.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Crossroads Time

I'm at a crossroads in my music. I just don't see to be able to get up the ambition to do a new solo album at this time, even though I have built up a fair amount of new material. Lyrics, egh. Who cares what a musician has to say? And if you do, I kind of pity you ;) I know musicians, what they know, you don't wanna know. "The a minor chord, played at the first fret, gives you a 'House of the Rising Sun' or 'Don't Fear the Reaper' aggressive sadness, whereas the b minor 7 at the second fret inevitably leads you into jazzy territory ...". I mean, I like internal conversations like this, but I can't believe it would interest non-musicians very much, and it's the one thing we are uniquely qualified to understand.

I digress. I've sent out feelers to a couple of female vocalists this week, but it sounds like their projects are pretty nebulous at this point. Time to advertise my own skills. Do I advertise as a guitar player/composer, or bass player, or both? Maybe audition for keyboard player in Serge's band? Evidently I could play some guitar there too; maybe guitar keys?

How much time could I give to a project? Quite a bit, I'm sure; it's starting to burn a bit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Thunderstorms and other Clouds

I've seen maybe 3 or 4 thunderstorms since I moved to California in 1995. There were at least three in Michigan during my 11 day vacation there! Have to admit, I miss them.

The other thing is cumulus clouds; although overall I think California has prettier skies, we just don't get those pretty puffballs and massive thunderheads that you see so often in the midwest.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Lily Whiteass Spotted!

I finally got to hook up with my friend Karen, aka Lily Whiteass of Lickitty Clit; aka the Queen Bee. We met at Noir Leather (of course; where else?) in Royal Oak, Michigan. Thank the lord that store is still there; not much worth seeing in Royal Oak anymore except for them.

She looked good, wearing tight new denim jeans with a chain hanging down in the back, and other bits of tight blackness. We talked a bit about old times, and a bit about me, but mostly about her current lack of inspiration and inability to play because she can't tour. Such a shame, she is one of the most talented people I know.

I don't think that talented people go far without a fair bit of ruthlessness, though; come on, girl, grab destiny's dick and give it a pull!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Off to Michigan!

I'll be in Michigan between July 1 and July 11, to see family, celebrate my sister's birthday, and vacation. July is not the optimal month to visit Mich (heat, humidity) but I love the small town fireworks.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Countering Biblical Gay Bashers

God Hates Shrimp

Should be all you need .

Farenheit 9/11

El and I went to a midnight showing on Friday, June 25, in Berkeley. It was amazing; the line was around the block. A manager came out and explaned to us that the film was 15 minutes longer than they were told when they ordered it, so the start would be later than expected.

It's a very good film, with subjects of deep importance to all Americans, whether you are liberal or conservative or something else entirely. Please, check it out before you dismiss it; it's only a couple of hours out of your time.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

How to Refer to Technologically-Challenged People

I've been looking for a good word for this, and something like "Luddite" seems a bit harsh.

Here's the obvious one: Muggle

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I flew in a glider!

I was in Truckee over the weekend. I've seen these glider rides every time we've been through the Northstar area, and this time I gave in to temptation:

My Glider Ride

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Plasmabat on iTunes!

CD Baby can automatically put your music on the various electronic distribution services, including Apple's iTunes Music Store. Yeah, I'm not too happy about the DRM on iTunes, but it's certainly no worse than the others.

Other services included in this service are:

Apple iTunes
Sony Connect

God told me he didn't particularly want G.W. Bush to be President

I'm Episcopalian, so I know.

The blog is back!

Hopefully I will be able to keep it up this time!

My previous blog was meant to cover the interesting things that happened to Plasmabat the music project, and also to document my personal "mental illness" problems, more or less as a public service. However, Plasmabat isn't doing anything in particular at the moment (that may change any day!) and my "mental illness" has pretty much ended since I went on my later work day (now starting at 11:00 am). I was diagnosed with "phase delay disorder" which more or less means "permanent jet lag", so now that I"m waking up later most of my "depression" symptoms are gone, so not much to write about in that area. Thank the lord.

So, I guess I'll pretty much write whatever I want to. Keep in touch. - Hugh