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Going Cold Brew – Sweet and Smooth Sensations

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I must admit, I feel a bit foolish having never tried cold brewed coffee. Last week it was recommended to me. So, I ground up one of my daily favorite beans, Philz – Jacobs Wonderbar and prepared my first cold-brew. I was astonished in two ways.

1. Wow was it smooth and sweet.

2. It literally tastes like a different bean, and this is a bean I know well.

So, after consuming my wonderful Wonderbar beans I moved on to another favorite, Pete’s Major Dickason’s Blend®. Again, astonished how much sweeter it was, absolutely zero bitterness and like a totally different coffee.

I use a Bodum 34oz french press. For Jacobs Wonderbar I grind my bean medium to medium fine with a ratio of 60 grams (weighed on a scale) to about 34oz of water (the Bodum container isn’t completely full).

I slowly add cold filtered water, via a cup, used as a transfer device; study Integral Principles of the Structural Dynamics of Flow by Leslie Claret for this process, from my refrigerator and carefully stir with a spoon or chopstick. This is usually occurring between 8 and 10PM at night.

When I wake in the morning I plunge the French press, pour it into my coffee cup and nuke it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I use a big coffee cup, so 2 minutes isn’t scorching, but I do still like my coffee warm.

I’m looking forward to trying many more of my favorite beans as it seems it’s like a new whole world of taste sensations! My buddy Mike Terry, whom I often discuss such endeavors with, recommends I now try “Nitro-brewing”. I’ll have to look into that…

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Deepmind’s WaveNet Composes Original Piano Piece

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“WaveNets” Borrowed from WaveNet


WaveNet by Deepmind and/or Alphabet, Inc. and/or Google has created a very impressive audio signal modeling system.  Although Adobe’s Voco is cool, my feeling is WaveNet is much further along in development, it’s just missing the flashy live video demonstration that went viral from Adobe.

A quick summary of what WaveNet is capable of.

They trained WaveNet on a dataset of classical piano music. This dataset was generated by modeling the raw waveforms of the classical music pieces, one sample at a time with approximately 16,000 samples per second. They did not provide a musical score, structured sequence, or order, they simply allowed WaveNet to generate it’s own musical compositions based on what it learned from the music dataset. Then WaveNet takes all those many thousands of tiny audio soundwave samples and reconstructs it own compositions. Really quite amazing.

Without further ado, here’s WaveNet’s original piano compositions.

Track 1:

Track 2:

Track 3:

Track 4:

Track 5:

Track 6:

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Joe Doyles’s Star Chart Inspired by Polynesian ‘Stick Charts’

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Had a conversation with Joe Doyle today, always a pleasure talking with and hearing about what inspired some of his work. I’ve been fortune enough to acquire a few of his Abstract Illusionism pieces with plans to continue.

During the conversation we spoke about some of his earliest work, one being “Star Chart” featured in galleries and a number of publications in the late 70’s. Though never specifically written about in any publication I can find, the real inspiration for the piece came from Polynesian navigation charts sometimes referred to as “stick charts”.

Joe Doyle’s “Star Chart” 1975

Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”

Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”

According to Tegan Mortimer

“These are deceptively simple grids made from small sticks and coconut fronds, which represent the major ocean swells in the South Pacific, with small shells showing the location of islands. The charts showed how the swells interacted with the island shores, the undersea slopes, and currents coming from different directions. While the stick maps were easy to construct, it took many years of study to be able to accurately interpret the real ocean dynamics which they represented.”

Here’s an example stick chart.

Polynesian navigation device showing directions of winds, waves and islands.jpg
By S. Percy Smith, Public Domain, Link

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Trifecta Gathering of Mercury in Silicon Valley

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There is a 3-fold convergence of mercury contamination in Silicon Valley, at one time the world’s second largest producer of mercury.

One, Ein, Un, 一, один

Left overs from the extraction of mercury from cinnabar 

The New Almaden Mine was built in 1894 and operated until 1976. Here’s an informational video from 1955 talking about the mines in California, notice the workers are not wearing masks…

Here’s a kid showing you just how easy it is to convert cinnabar into mercury…

Two, Zwei, Deux, 二, двух

Mercury Run-off from Nevada gold mines

The Sierra Fund has lots of specific information, here’s a start. All that mercury extracted from cinnabar in Silicon Valley was trucked to the Sierra’s and the leftovers are still running back down the mountain today. Where’s does SV water come from? Here’s a scary quote for you.

” The presence of mercury, arsenic, and other mining toxins in the region has been established, and the potential health risks from exposure to each agent are understood to some degree. No evidence exists, however, showing what impact, if any, this exposure is having on humans in the region. This is due to the fact that there has been no research, no screening, and no studies to look into the extent of human impact from exposure to these materials.

Three, Drei, Trois, 三, три

Pollution from China coal power plants

Ponder the following quote from a study led by University of California, Berkeley, postdoctoral researcher Stephanie Ewing.

“…take note of the fact that 29% of the pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area comes from China”

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Aham – The Abstract Expression of Modern Guitar

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corrado-aham-new-albumSome of my thoughts on Corrado Rustici’s new record,  Aham. I’ve had the record for a month now and it has taken me more time than most to absorb due to the originality and complexity. If you don’t read long posts, just skip to the last paragraph and maybe you’ll come back up for the rest.

Musically, people don’t come any more talented than Corrado. I’m no musician, I like every genre of music and I never critique publicly, but for the first time this one made me want to. I will say though, I don’t think I will fully appreciate what has been done here until I can sit down with Corrado and he explains how he accomplished what he did.

Thank you letter from Corrado Rustici

Letter from Corrado.

Aham is an extraordinary forward thinking, artistic musical venture into the experimental realm of modern guitar. It creates a vision of true art, imagine your favorite abstract piece.. For those that don’t know, the entire record was created with guitars, nothing else except a couple tracks with vocals, which of course are human voices. Corrado did not use synthesizers, samplers or electronic instruments anywhere on the album! As someone who is often listening to the timbre of specific instruments this album challenges the aural senses beyond my comprehension. Why beyond? Because I have no idea the specifics of how they were created, yes I hear snare, a hi-hat, cymbals, kick, keys, strings, keyboards etc. etc. etc., but the reality and challenge to your senses is that they are not there, those are guitars, ALL GUITARS!

The opening track, As Dark Bleeds Light, is conservative and safe, a bit of an outlier in my opinion relative to the rest of the record, great timbre and a smooth track and it gives us just a hint of what’s to come as it progresses.

Upon entering track 2, Ananda’s First Steps, you begin to get drawn into Corrado’s story, the strings sway beautifully, wait, shoot, I forgot, those aren’t strings… and you hear some classic “Corrado Rustici” guitar riffs, the track fades beautifully.

The Duke and The Hare, track 3, Corrado begins to almost literally speak to you with the lead guitar, rounding out the track are what you would think are keys, and a mellow 80’s drum kit, but of course we know there’s none of that. I love how the guitar talks and the timbre of the guitar is just at the point of distorting.

Now track 4, The Guilty Thread, we enter Corrado’s foreign land, we get to hear Corrado’s softly aged voice and the fine details from his throat and chest, it’s nice. The guitar leads come and go with lightning like strikes at times, and we again get to hear classic Rustici whisking solo’s. The track is rounded out with more percussion which of course are guitar magic. The track ends like an intense dramatic movie with a long sustained guitar fade, wonderful.

Corrado Rustici

Corrado Rustici

Track 5, Roots of Progression, appropriately named, enters with a brief reminiscence of Corrado’s Nova years. We are whisked away on a jazzy journey of percussion and guitar madness with interludes of sleek solo’s and breaks into a 70’s classic rock riff mixed with 70’s progressiveness, there’s even a couple snare riffs that remind me of 90’s speed metal and we end with an ultimate crescendo of sheer awesomeness.

Track 6, Alcove of Stars, also an outlier, with guest lead vocalist Andrew Strong, we enter what I would call a very commercial tune that will no doubt end up on the sync market and carrying a movie or TV drama. It’s a beautiful and catchy tune that reminds me of a better than 80’s ballad with an insane amount of talent. Andrew’s voice is excellent especially when he pushes it.

Moving into Track 7, The Last Light Spoken, we begin entering the last and final dimension of Aham, good speakers required, I like my Focal Solo 6’s, my old Dyna Audio BM5A’s at home didn’t do it justice as there are subtle details and tricks in the track that they didn’t express well if at all. If you don’t have good monitors get some decent headphones like the Focal Spirit Pro’s. I have no idea how Corrado created the kick drum with a guitar in this track, but its freaking cool, it’s like a classic kick mic being pushed just passed the overload point, but there was no kickdrum, remember?…

And finally we enter the Aham Suite, too soon in my opinion, because when tracks 8 and 9 are complete I was left wanting more, much more! Track 8 and Part 1, The Enquiry, sounds exactly like its title, I feel like I’m in some type of purgatory awaiting judgement, it’s scary with a timbre of insanity in its subtle intensity, it ends just before you feel like you’ll break. It’s musical art at its finest. Then the weight of our enquiry is lifted and we immediately enter Part 2 Aham. Corrado, you’re not singing? Perhaps not, but wow oh wow that guitar vocal is amazing, totally engrossing and absolute wizardry. Whether you believe in some type of after life or not, this track will take you there for 5 minutes and 47 seconds. Corrado’s soloing is perfect, he’s not bragging, but rather carrying you through a wonderland dimension of finality. Sadly you begin to feel the end is near as you hit the crescendo and the guitar passionately weeps as it gently sets you back down to reality. Damn that track is amazing. I’ve held back from over listening to it as I want to savoir its beauty.
That’s Aham for me.

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Dating Nails – Does this nail tell me how old this painting is?

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In the past couple years I’ve been delving deeper into collecting art. As with anything new you learn more and more as you go and hopefully not make too many expensive mistakes. Start low and slow, right? With my previous collecting venture, vintage bicycles, I tried to finance the hobby by flipping a few things here and there, I actually did quite well and probably came pretty close to even, not including a couple unforeseen issues, like 40 year metal breaking, making a bike nearly worthless. Anyway…


Bottom back corner of one of the paintings.

I recently picked up a couple, I was hoping, old oil paintings. The seller did not list the artist, the photos were sub-par, but I could very faintly make out a signature in one of the photos. This is where my Photoshop skills come in handy, image manipulation can really bring out a signature. After a few late night hours of research I thought I had the artist figured out, so I took a risk and bought them.

My hope was, they were by an artist born in the mid 1700’s. After researching how to date paintings etc. I became fairly confident they were at least 1800’s, but could they be as far back as 1700’s? This I wasn’t sure about.

First, it looks like they may have been restretched on the later wood, or some of the nails had been replaced. Some nails, brads really, seem newer than others. But, the oldest nails, in the corners mostly, seem pretty old. I carefully removed one nail where there were three on a back corner. Once I pulled it out I got a little excited, it certainly doesn’t look modern…

Excerpt from Nail Chronology by Lee H Nelson

Excerpt from Nail Chronology by Lee H Nelson

Image from University of VermontImage from University of Vermont

A quick search on Google revealed a plethora of sites on nail history. And from what I can tell, they look like what are called Early Machine Cut Nails with Handmade Heads, also called Lath Nails circ. 1790 to 1810. If they are in fact that old, this could date my paintings back to 1700’s early 1800’s and could in fact be the artist I’m hoping. Time will tell, as I will flip these paintings.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

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