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Oct. 14th, 2015


Spend the weekend in Richmond, Virginia with: The Fierce Fiddler!

Hung out in the cold Marino Cave with a friendly & purring Killer Kitty. Washed & cleansed dishes under the tall trees. An ambulance passed ("The Mother Ship") and set the wild pack of wild puppies to shrieking & howling. Threw the grime-ball for the very friendly and intensely needy & cute Roxy (Roxanne???). Small brown patch at base of tail. Oh, I saw a crawfish splashing. It was missing a claw but still lively & vital. At one point it released itself into the swell of the river.

Wonderful bike-rambles down down a hill across to an island in the James. A lush & green island dotted with rusty-cool old ruins. Biked a pedestrian suspension bridge (!!!) across to the downtown zone and then discovered a magical trail consisting of a catwalk built over a pipeline. Arcs of cement undulating over the rushing waters. Rising and falling and undulating. Undulating into and out of Misery-Conflict & Tender-Joy with the fiddler.

Big white tents full of lovely sparkling earthy sounds. 3.5 hours filling a morning cafe with lovely music. 13 & 11 hours of interminable car-lurching across South East. Welcome to Nash County. Cruised & darted through sun-sparkled and car-filled city streets. Took in life at the hyper-compressed Fiddler-pace. Did you know that blue whales can only swallow an amount of food equivalent to the size of a grapefruit at one time?

A bleating goat cradled in loving arms. Silky Persian Pajamas. Rambles up and down the people-filled hills at The Festival. Mamusu fish-overload followed by the Salads of Atonement. 

Sep. 27th, 2015

Let's be friends

I am leaving Gainesville. Leaving Florida. The city and state that has most of the people I call friends. I've left once before but this time I am leaving alone and moving to a city I realistically know little about.

I've been thinking about friendship. Why am I friends with the people that I call friends? Who are the people I look forward to seeing and why do I look forward to seeing them? How can I make new friends in the city I am moving to?

Here is a catalog of qualities that influence how I relate to people and make friends.

  • Music is a big way that I make friends. Music is inherently a connecting experience, and sharing that experience alone is enough to make me feel open to, connected, and curious about someone. Any shared experience, even one as seemingly devoid of activity as meditation can create a sense of connection. I've made friends by spending time mostly sitting in silence with others.

  • When someone remembers some detail about my life and asks thoughtful questions about that detail, I feel that they are genuinely interested in and care about me. This is pretty important to me.

  • When I am experiencing some upset or some joy or some heightened emotion and that person reflects back to me my own experience, I feel that the other person genuinely understands and shares in what I am experiencing. In contrast, if that person instead launches into advice-giving, admonishing, criticizing, or relating personal anecdotes, I might at an intellectual level appreciate what they are giving, but a tender and soft part of me feels closed-off and uninterested in continuing to share.

  • When someone honors their commitments with me or clearly and proactively communicates their lack of availability, I feel respected and appreciated. I find flakiness to be a really big turn-off.

  • When someone engages in a conversation that consists mostly of entertaining personal anecdotes, I feel uninspired and uninterested. I feel that my choice becomes either to participate in the volley of personal anecdotes (which I find unsatisfying), or giving to the other by reflecting to them their experience. I find both of these options to be one-sided and draining. For me, a conversation really recharges my need for human connection when it is equal parts give-and-take. When I present a topic for conversation, I like it when my conversational partner asks me thoughtful questions about the topic and develops that topic further. I like to do the same for others.

  • I really like optimistic people. But not the forced optimism that tries to paper over the real hurts and flaws of a situation with corny affirmations. I like slightly cynical and pessimistic people because I can relate to them. But too much wallowing in that end of the spectrum makes me want to run away.

  • I like people that can tell when they are caught up in their own personal emotional drama, pause, and then backtrack. This is a skill I want in myself and I know from experience that it can take a long time to develop it.

  • I like people that can compassionately reflect to me my own negativity around a situation and then gently call me out on it.

  • I like people with nerdy interests. Bookish people that maybe played a lot of video games and tabletop games. People that sit in rooms by themselves working on a craft for many hours. Creative folks.

  • Pop culture, sports, and celebrity worship are subjects I have a hard time bonding over.

  • I like people that put away their electronic devices and place them on silent when we are rehearsing music or driving together or hanging out. When someone is staring at a screen, I feel like they have left the room and like perhaps I should, too.

  • I like when people I am trying to connect with are on the same wavelength as me. If I am not super caffeinated, I don't want to be around caffeinated folks. If I am not drinking, I don't want to be around folks that are a few beers in.

  • I like arriving at gatherings early because the likelihood that I will get to engage in a smaller group is higher. As soon as the group size exceeds 3 or 4 people I go sit behind the cello and switch from conversing with words to conversing with music. If this option is not available to me, I will generally leave or try my best at treading water amidst the overstimulating noise and often fast-paced and shallower conversations.

  • I like silences and pauses. I can get overstimulated quickly if someone is a big talker. Then I run the risk of shutting down. I can be a big talker if I am jazzed about some bit of trivia I just learned. I like when people patiently endure these episodes and I like it when people tell me clearly and kindly that they are not available for enduring them ^_^

  • I like people that can be emotionally vulnerable and also people that can make relaxed and friendly small talk. Both are useful and good.

  • I like clever people with a gentle sense of humor.

  • I like justice-minded people that are critical thinkers.

  • I tend to have a passive way of relating to others. So I often end up closely bonding with people that have an assertive way of relating.

  • I tend to end up around folks that don't have an identity that is very closely associated with how they dress, the specific slang they use, their specific narrowly constructed idealogies, etc.

  • I like it when people are responsive on electronic communication media. I like longer and more thoughtful responses. Often I will sit at my laptop to compose a response rather than painfully compose a terse and cold response on a touch device.

  • I like very emotionally intense people. People that crackle with infectious energy when they are excited about something, or shrivel to nubs or lash out when they are anxious or sad. Being around folks like this can be very stimulating and invigorating, even if my reaction goes toward irritation. Being around folks like this that are aware of their emotional swings and partly in control of them is inspiring.

Aug. 4th, 2015

Satvatove Retreat Realizations

  • True and unblocked reflective listening can instantly create connection between two individuals even if those individuals have seemingly nothing in common.

  • Deep connection is one of the best feelings that can be experienced.

  • I have trouble accessing angry, assertive, and forceful passion. What is that about?

  • While I do need alone time in order to recharge, I can make do with short and concentrated bursts of alone time.

  • After spending a weekend feeling connected to people within a structured environment, returning to "normal" ways of conversing feels stiff and awkward.

  • I want to retain the ability to communicate my needs in an assertive way. Not a passive way. Not an aggressive way. Not a passive-aggressive way.

  • I still have issues around religion and philosophy. I don't like this philosophy. I like that philosophy. I don't like philosophy. What is that about?

  • I want to return to this kind of connected retreat setting in the future. Once a year would probably be good.

  • I want to cultivate friendships within which connected conversation is possible.

  • Some of my biggest roadblocks to communication are advice-giving, oversharing long personal historical anecdotes, and problem-solving.

  • It is possible for me to be both stiff and mechanical when practicing reflective listening and also natural and graceful. The latter is preferable. One approach to listening more naturally is for me to not wait too long to take in what someone saying and interrupt with reflective statements in an engaged manner. Non-reflective statements that are helpful (open-ended questions, etc.) are best inserted at natural pauses in the conversation.

  • When the connected communication format is in effect, a room full of strangers feels like a room full of close family and best friends. When it is turned off, the usual awkwardness returns.

  • The Yoda Rule is worth remembering: If I "try", I have already failed. If I "do", I will succeed.

  • If I want something to happen in my life or in my community, expressing the need for it is less likely to make it happen than doing it myself.

  • While I still have a habit of hiding shameful behavior, I am able to notice and expose such instances and take responsibility for them.

  • I felt a sense of strength during the retreat that likely comes from my decision to move to New Orleans, feeling secure in my current unpartnered state, and feeling strong in my ability to connect with people musically. I was able to brave certain scenarios and exercises that normally would have triggered intense anxiety.

Jul. 7th, 2015

Why I love Gainesville and why I am leaving

Save for a year's stint in Salt Lake City, I've been in Gainesville since 2002. Gainesville has become my home. Everywhere I go, I meet people I know. The embrace of ancient oak trees, the magic of walking or biking late at night in the summer, the thrill of the first clear and cold day of the fall following days of rain, the fury of thunderstorms, the fragrant and lulling humidity and heat of the summer -- all of these things I have grown to love.

Life in Gainesville is easy. The city is generous. It makes available everything I could want. Good food, easy access to nature, a vibrant music scene, short commutes, an abundance of people that value self-inquiry and mindfulness, and easy access to satisfying work are all available to me.

But I think that it's time for adventure. Time to break hearts and let my heart be broken. Time for desperate loneliness and intense fear. Time to work very hard and go to sleep exhausted. Time for desperately desired breakthroughs that just won't come. In the midst of the struggle, I hope to grow and be changed and be rewarded in new and unexpected ways.

This summer I passed through New Orleans and decided that braving this city will be my adventure. The city is hot. Humid. Filled with majestic decaying architecture. Too-narrow streets that are more than likely not bike-friendly. Only the occasional tree. Not a bit of nice parkland in sight. Good restaurants but a seeming lack of good grocery stores.

However, I experienced a show there that hinted at the musical potential of the city -- a room full of people of many ages performing, dancing to, and listening to the kinds of music that my formerly more active group Blackfire opened me to. Musicians of a caliber that I aspire to maybe reach sharing music that touches my heart deeply. I am writing to some of these musicians and dancers now to see if what I witnessed wasn't just a fluke. So far so good.

To my friends and musical family in Gainesville: I am sorry. I could stay longer and be happy here as I have for last 10+ years, but I think that it is time to go away, at least for a while, and try something new. My joy has been in sharing time and music with you and I am tremendously grateful for these experiences. I am sad, but hopefully you can share in my excitement as I move on to try something new.



  • I will be selling lots of musical equipment and instruments and almost all of my books at very low prices.

  • I am shooting to move in the fall. I am not sure of an exact date but early November might be best.


New Orleans Goals

  • Continue playing and singing the kinds of European folk music that make my soul really come alive.

  • Find a contra- or square-dance scene and see if they could use a cellist.

  • Investigate the Arabic music / bellydance scene. Maybe I could finally learn from an Arabic musician?

  • Find a cellist that has delved deeply into a non-classical folk music style and take lessons from them.

  • Find a singer-songwriter to collaborate with.

  • Consider taking up the upright bass.

  • Consider producing electroacoustic music again.


Ongoing Personal Life Goals

  • Feeling worthy of love, connection, and romantic partnership.

  • Developing the courage to speak out and act skillfully when I am in pain.

  • Balancing my tendency to follow and support with a more assertive leading and guiding role.

Apr. 12th, 2015


Sometimes I feel like I spend a majority of my time trying to figure out why I'm not feeling especially well. In those stretches of time I sometimes forget that feeling light and excited is even a possibility. The little colored bars in my Google Calendar become hordes of scary bugs that I hide from rather than declarations that yes, here is a fun thing to look forward to. I wake up exhausted, feel anxious or indifferent to the day's latest practice, show, or work assignment. I mechanically move my body through strenuous and tiring motions at the gym because I know it helps a little bit. I read at breakfast and before bed and remember little of what I read. I inhale food at the appropriate quantities and intervals because I know that if I don't, it makes the day just a little harder to bear.

A week or so ago I realized that that feeling of trying to escape a nameless, difficult, and suffocating situation was missing. It happened so gradually that I didn't really realize it until I was several weeks into it. So, I'm writing this as a signpost that declares that, yes, being happy is a thing that is real and here is what the creature looks like. And that maybe I can return to it if I need to. As far as I can tell, here are some components that make up my current pleasant situation.


I am doing what I want to do, not what I believe I have to do. Unconsciously trying to follow a standard American storyline produced a lot of stress for me. The storyline being: find a partner, move in with that partner, eventually get married, save up for a house, buy a house, prepare for the eventual decline of health of my parents, all while being both generous and financially successful. Not that I'm not open to actually doing any of those things, but I think I was trying to force myself to follow that pattern without actually feeling in my heart that I wanted to do those things. (The downside to this attitude is that I probably paid too much in taxes and that I don't have health insurance right. Oh, and an oil change and visit to the dentist are way overdue.)


I am playing music. Lots of music. Thanks to wedding season and a couple big gigs, music paid the bills last month. I am playing in several great bands with great people. Nothing better than a week full of what I love to do best. I am also trying to take on a more active role in rehearsals which I have found has helped me to feel a greater sense of reward and closeness with my fellow bandmates.


I am doing interesting work, but on my own terms. Software engineering keeps my inner eight year old Lego self happy. I'm not in the office forty hours a week, though. This means I don't make much money, but it also means that when I work, I work. I don't waste time on FB, reddit, etc. when I am too tired or burned out to be productive.


I am working from home and can set my own schedule. This is huge. If I am tired, I can take a nap! If I am hungry, I can cook food that I make myself. I save money and can code while the rice timer ticks away. If I need to concentrate, I don't have to crank up (distracting) music in my headphones because I can work in total silence with zero chance of interruptions.


It is not winter any more. Being thrifty and allergic to clothes shopping means that I probably don't dress warmly enough for winter. Being cold makes my body feel contracted and my joints stiff. This tightness and contraction of the makes me feel anxious. The coming heat of summer makes me feel pliant and pleasantly drowsy. Note to self: buy a couple cold weather hats, thermal underwear, more long-sleeve shirts, finger gloves, and warm slippers.


Close companionship and friendship. My number one fiddle friend has become a very dear and important person to me. More than simply providing me with a distraction and a remedy from loneliness, my relationship with her has helped me to uncover and address some painful emotional places and has helped me develop a better idea of the kind of relationship style I may want to continue cultivating. Here are some highlights:

  • Space. Having my own place and often sleeping in my own bed lets me preserve a sense of identity and emotional support that I cultivate on my own. This means that I don't have to lean on my relationship partner for all of my emotional needs which can lead to problems and often feels unsustainable.

  • Shared projects. Sharing a big project with a relationship partner is really a wonderful gift. I find that it creates a shared sense of excitement and provides an opportunity for bonding and intimacy that can transcend the unpredictable flaring and ebbing of physical attraction. It can create friction and frustration and conflict, but this friction is its own reward in that it produces an opportunity for personal growth in a way not possible when I am single.

  • Revisiting painful or difficult subjects. Carefully revisiting difficult or painful areas helps prevent buried ill feelings from fermenting and bursting out in unpleasant and unpredictable ways. While it is necessary to cultivate letting go of difficult feelings, letting go is not a silver bullet. Confronting the feelings head-on is vitally important. Only close relationships drive up painful emotional habits. I find that even "unsuccessful" relationships are a gift and a blessing, as long as I keep a sense of humility and willingness to learn.

  • Loving in an open-handed way. Maintaining physical and emotional independence and not letting my feelings of self-worth be connected to my notions of how the relationship should work is tremendously freeing. And lets the relationship evolve and adapt rather than abrubtly terminate because it doesn't meet some narrow preconceived notion of what a relationship should be.

  • I realize that I have a passive / accepting / following personality. This makes it difficult for me to find a romantic partner because I almost never make romantic advances and because this passive role is not considered masculine by typical American norms. However, I feel best when I am supporting and often taking direction from an individual with a strong sense of vision and drive. My musical persona as bassist and supporting instrumentalist is an expression of this strongly Yin character in my personality. Deliberately stepping outside of this Yin role (as with the band Blackfire) can be energizing and empowering, but I find nourishment in the nature of supporting, following, and being receptive. Every woman I have dated is also attracted to women. Coincidence? ^_^


An evolving meditation practice. I still meditate every day, but I am less worried about doing it *right*. I scratch myself. I pause my timer and get a glass of water. I crack the bones of my feet and knuckles. Looking back, it's the same attitude I have toward music practice. When I practice the cello, I play intently for a while, take a break, jam a little bit and get distracted, return to practicing intently, etc. And results come even if to an outsider I am not practicing as efficiently as possible. If I were to judge myself for not being able to engage in laser focus for hours at a time, I probably would not practice much at all. Bringing the same attitude to my meditation practice has helped eliminate a layer of anxiety from my day. Who wants to meditate if you are cultivating self-judgment the whole time?


Working on something big and kind of scary. I am going to tour with Blackfire and ...Y Los Dos Pistoles in June and this is my first time booking a tour. It really triggers feelings of unworthiness and vulnerability and a part of me screams to not want to do it at all, but pushing through those feelings and seeing it slowly come together has been really rewarding.

Dec. 25th, 2014

Blackfire - Kolo Da Igramo

Blackfire, is the project started by kaleidescopekas and crewed by her, the great fiddler Arthur Rosales, the great drummer Zach Randall, and myself. We released an album titled Kolo Da Igramo.

Recording it was quite challenging and fun. Challenging as in exhausting, maddening, tear-stained. Fun as in exulting, joyful, and tear-stained. Performing the CD release party for this was a blast. It's rare, I think, for all five acts of a long evening of music to feel engaging from start to finish, but that's exactly what I think happened.

Nov. 25th, 2014

Mmm, Music

>> Blackfire

Blackfire is a quartet consisting of two violins, a cello, and a drum kit. We can also perform as a duo and trio. We play modern arrangements of traditional European music from Klezmer, Sephardic, Swedish, Gallician, Balkan, and other traditions. We play pretty much anything with a bit of edge, fire, and passion in it.

This band has been one of my favorite musical projects of the past few years. It has helped me to grow musically by giving me an opportunity to sing and play cello, and it tickles the part of me that is satisfied only by listening to or playing metal and other forms of aggressive rock music. It also feels like I have more ownership and direction over the material, which is something rare for me since I tend to naturally settle into a supportive role in musical projects.

We are currently working on a full-length recording(!) and expect to be done soon. I've been genuinely moved by the rough mixes we've recorded so far. Such a great feeling.

>> Wax Wings

Wax Wings is my opportunity to make music with the incomparable Chelsea Carnes. I take more risks musically and allow myself to make more mistakes with this group. We play a lot of fun gigs and have even been on a small tour.

Recently we played at Swallowtail festival and also shot a video. The day of the shoot was really sweet. Hanging out in costume with friends. The band were ghosts and our friends were dressed up in black and performing a seance. There was an industrial fog machine, pizza, general sweet sillyness, and lots of cute people doing cute things. A wee child bumbling about. Rolled-up capoeira pants. A crazy-cool staff made with a dog skull and spine.

We kept the vibe going at a porch jam where I jammed with one of my favorite fiddle players for hours and hours. I jammed a little on guitar and even accompanied a singer on guitar (I don't get to mess around with one very much these days). Frisbee! (The rule was that you had to jump while throwing the disc and also while catching it). Silly giggling into the night.

>> Mourning Glories

I've gigged so much with this group. Such easygoing and sweet people. We play traditional old-time and Irish music. We may have a chance at playing an event for the GODS which would be a lot of fun. Several folks are working to make this happen and it's a really nice validation of the hard work we've put in to promote contra dancing and practice our calling.

>> Klezmer Katz

I have a memory of a nice date back in 2007 where Bear, Carrot, and I stumbled upon the Klezmer Katz for the first time and I heard Klezmer for the first time. I had never heard the style and I was completely floored by it. I can tell that a music had really touched me because it overrides the part of me that analytically enjoys music and breaks it down into recognizable components. I was just struck by the Klez.

Fast forward to 2014 where I find myself playing with them. Arco bass on the cello is so much fun. I have to thank Bach for helping me appreciate that. And helping me to form my chief instrumental identity as bassist.


We play at Satchel's this Wednesday.

Nov. 22nd, 2014

Tech Update

I am currently working to create a small web application targeted for both desktop and mobile that can run offline. We are using the HTML5 ApplicationCache to hold on to downloaded content when a connection is not available. PouchDB is used to store data locally, and it is configured to automatically sync with a CouchDB server. We are using AngularJS as our web framework, and I am coding my contributions in Coffeescript. I am using the excellent Grunt task runner, the Bower package manager, and various Node.js tools. In production we are serving with Nginx but in development I am using http-server.

Figuring out how to use the HTML5 ApplicationCache has been a bit irritating, but I think I finally have the hang of it now. I was having trouble with the appcache manifest itself being cached which was preventing me from updating files in the cache, but setting the cache-control header with a max-age of 1 resolved that.

Writing in Coffeescript again has been really easy and fun. It's such a terse little language with plenty of power. AngularJS documentation has improved substantially since I first started using it, and I feel that I am really beginning to get the framework more -- there are some bits of it that I find to be a bit unintuitive still. Having to declare dependencies twice is kind of annoying and is something that still trips me up. I am going to look at Blackcoffee and see if a macro could be written to resolve this issue.

PouchDB is really cool and fun to use, but I find it to be slow enough that in one particular case we had to write a custom cache just to make a UI element responsive enough. A simple search on a document ID was taking 400ms to return. Writing the cache and making sure it is kept up-to-date by PouchDB synchronization events was fun, but it is effort I shouldn't be having to make. What the PouchDB devs are attempting and largely succeeding at is quite laudable, so even if it is a bit slow right now, I really appreciate what they have accomplished.


Before, I was coding largely in Ruby on Rails. I became proficient in it but am by no means an expert. As nice as it is to take a break from the framework, I really do miss ActiveRecord -- the ways that I am interacting with CouchDB feel a little hacky and verbose. It's possible that I just need to write a small service to wrap some of the common calls a little more nicely.

Four Panels

Dread and misery. Rain. The same cold and bare tiles. The same little Go board. The same proprietor, only aged a bit. Balder and with more gray. The same streets.

That moment when you finally give into the realization that all is not well and that the dark and painful place inside can no longer be ignored, rationalized, or patiently endured.


Band date with C and P. WW trio. Farm festival, bringing up memories of previous band festivals with friends that have since moved away, a lover that has since disappeared completely from my life, and a musical acquaintance that has since become woven into the fabric of my life in a significant way.

Big, old, shaggy white dogs. Big campfire. A sweet time with sweet friends.


The arc of relationships. The thrill and sense of danger and friction and magic when it intensifies. The sense of emptiness, confusion, and sometimes incredible fear and panic when it wanes. Coming and going. Going and coming.

Daniel confessed to having felt strong and intense emotions last night. Feeling very antisocial. I felt the same way. He claims it is the lunar cycle. They lost tomatoes but he didn't seem too concerned about it.

Last night I patiently endured many hours in a bar-type venue waiting for a chance to play. I retreated to the quiet of my car to nap but instead listened to the music project I am working on. And took notes. Edits and vocals on Tuesday.

Nov. 2nd, 2014

So Many Music

How do you know Jano dušo? You melted my heart!

Dual lasagna duel at the Tuscan hippo place.

Spanakopita and lentils under the Micanopy Oaks as fall fest folk stroll by.

Serenading the black-clad ironic ones. Cookie reward.

An ivitation to a Mount Dora festival.

Pizza and cake and gamma radiation.

Brains frying on the rainbow stage. Followed by riding around on a jazz truck and pizza.

Mental note: this is one of the best seasons of my life. 

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