Blur Circle

Steve Yost's weblog

August 30, 2004
Microsoft smooths its path

This is just a follow-on to an earlier rare tech-related post. It dealt with the conundrum for developers if Microsoft's next big operating system release wasn't sufficiently backwards compatible with the current one. Apparently Microsoft has reconsidered and made a course correction in compatibility plans for Longhorn (among other changes in plan), which as far as I can see is good news.

August 23, 2004

Seeing Elvin Jones' picture on the cover of Drum! magazine and flipping to articles that referred to him in the past tense last weekend was my first realization that this great drummer had died in May. I blamed my ignorance on the fact that I live in a partial media vacuum, but I see that Carlos Santana had qualms about the dearth of coverage.

Thanks to my friend Alan (who's always astute about booking tickets), I saw Elvin for the first time at the Regattabar in March, which must have been one of his few final appearances. During the show I was in awe at his sparse, brilliant, unmistakable playing and the obviousness that these are the powerful, authoritatively spiritual drums that I hear on A Love Supreme.

His wife Keiko spoke during a break, telling of Elvin's original heart failure, how the doctors said he'd need to rest and have some kind of therapy, and he'd replied that the only therapy he needed was to continue to play the drums. His determination reminded me so much of my father after his heart failure -- continuing to golf and be in his element, grasping life firmly but gently. After the show I joined the queue to shake Elvin's hand. I told him how inspiring he was, but I didn't take the time to say why. He responded simply "It's my pleasure".

dreaming a river

Had one of those half real dreams last night, like when I make up a joke during a dream that's almost funny on remembering it in full daylight. Or hearing a phrase from a poem, like "drowning in stars' milk". This time it was a quiz: "List all the facts you can think of about the Charles River". I half-woke still working on the list and continued:

  • Governor Weld jumped, fully clothed, into it.
  • The Back Bay used to be an actual bay (partly on the river), and stunk, until it was filled in.
  • Quentin in The Sound and the Fury committed suicide by jumping off a bridge (probably the Longfellow) into it.

August 10, 2004
Joe Henderson - The Milestone Years

Joe Henderson - The Milestone Years Trippy and endlessly inventive. Monster box set.

alien rover lands

This picture of an item for sale on eBay grabbed me -- the surreal grass flattened in the harsh perfect light, the distant sterile suburban houses, and this gorgeous green thing standing boldly and staring squarely at us like an audacious insect.

August 04, 2004
simple links

Thanks to Kurt for pointing out Cody's latest post, which is right on the mark, and very much in line with the main thing I got out of reading Merton.

Related to that (what isn't related here?) I'm finding Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind to be a rare gem. No, it's a piece of rope. No, it's a teacup. In any case, I'm reading it every day, and hope to re-read it continually like a lectionary cycle.

Travelling light

Two quotes in June's Sunbeams (pdf) stood out when I read them:

Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes ó with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. Thatís not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.
- Michael Crichton
Traveling is a foolís paradise. . . . I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson's view is very close to Crichton's, though its dour negativity springs from the thwarted goal of escape.
We travelled to London and Belgium over the past couple of weeks, and my experience was similar. Starting in London I tried to watch my own reactions to differences from my usual life ("Wow, they're so ...", "It's amusing how they do that", "Why doesn't anyone...."). I began to differentiate between the part of me that's built of my cultural environment and the rest of me -- can I call it the core part of me? No, wait.
In Belgium I was working with a language that I only partially understand and speak with much less fluency than a native three-year-old. So as I tried to follow conversations or even initiate a gramatically tortured statement, I was acutely conscious of language as the vehicle for thought (a jalopy in my case). As I found myself turning French phrases over in my head (things I sometimes didn't even fully understand) I became more aware of the running dialog (usually in English) in my head that I usually take for my own opinions and thoughts. Stripped of this running dialog, there's finally direct experience. And that, maybe, is the real attraction of travel.

August 03, 2004
Aphorisms from The Sun

I highly recommend a subscription to The Sun Magazine. I've subscribed since 1999 and read each issue practically cover to cover.

You can view parts of The Sun online (as PDF) and I just realized that they regularly include my two consistently favorite sections, Readers Write and Sunbeams. For Sunbeams there's a URL naming convention such that you could browse through several months of them:
Replace 343 with smaller numbers, down to 319, when they started publishing online.
If you like what you read, be sure to subscribe. The ad-free paper edition is beautiful, includes photographs, poems, essays, short stories and an interview each month, and more importantly, The Sun needs to be sustained (I donate to them each year as well, viewing them as a precious and financially fragile part of the ecosystem of human discourse).