Well well well

during flute band rehersal yesterday, I went to the underage labor cafe and I talked to the owner about labor laws. He told me that the twelve year old only works for a few hours on saturday only, but showed up on Sunday asking to work another day and that he checked with the Employment Development Department before hiring her and there’s no problem with a getting a kid to do a few light tasks (delivering food, making smoothies, pouring ice tea) for a few hours a week. So this is apparently a lot like my plant watering job that I had at the same age.
I’ve know been exposed to every single flute song. All I need to do is learn to play them perfectly, and all is very well. I have three that are in the needs-much-more practice pile and three that are very new. This should be very doable.
Other deadlines are fast approaching. July 1st is the deadline to submit a tape to Sonic Circuits. I want to write a new song for it, but if I don’t get moving, I’m not going to. I don’t think I’ve written any tape music in 2003. It’s pathetic.
July 1st is also the deadline to do tape editting for OtherMinds’ web radio launch. Of course, I haven’t started. I’m inspired by Christi’s ability to do great editting at the last second, even though I should not be. when I was inspiried by her ability to do great homework assignments at the last second, my undergraduate advisor told me “You’re no Christi Denton.”
Speaking of the flute band, our guitarist is missing. We may need a new one. Five songs on acoustic guitar. Practice for around one afternoon a week. And a gig in Vegas in August that pays. Free trip to Vegas! woo!
Some of you have things that I’ve lent you. Books. Music keyboards. My trumpet. (why do I not know where my trumpet went? ack!) Lord knows what else I may have lent out. Please bring things back.
Also, I have many things of yours. I’m storing musical instruments that belong to many different people. I can continue to store them over the next two years, but if you suddenly decide one thursday afternoon that you need back your double-belled sarousaphone, coordinating it’s release would require an introduction via email to my housesitter. Just a thought.
I called some real estate agents today and left messages. The student housing person who would talk to me about finding a place is out today, so I have to call again tomorrow. I need to find a place soon and start packing very soon (which is why I need things back…). I need to put my things in a truck less than one month from now and drive my dog across the country. Big change is creeping very, alarmingly rapidly. If I don’t do something soon, I’ll have to live in the moving van… Oh and I just got thru to an agent! yay! The very expensive places in Middletown could be up to $800. Which is about twice what I would like to spend, but I feel optomistic. Anyway, when I go out to look at places, I’ll get an idea of what a dollar will get you.
So everything is going well well well. This morning, I realized that if the overly optomistic oncologist had been correct in his six-months-to-a-year prognosis, my mom would be dying now. I don’t think my marriage or any of my friendships could have survived it.
Speaking of marriage. Christi and I are going to elope. We’ll come back and have a very big party. You will all be invited. And then we will enter into many years of highly annoying litigation around every aspect of our government duties and obligations surrounding everything from paying taxes to god-knows-what. When I think of the legal stuff, I become alarmed, so I think that I will not think about it. Or maybe I will talk to a lawyer. or not. As my grandpa used to say, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Missing blog posts!

I posted a very detalied and interesting (well, detailed) post a few days ago and now it’s gone gone gone. It was beautiful. It had headers and sub headers. It was broken up by topic. The writing was less chopy than normal. It may have been the best blog post ever written. I dunno where it went. I suspect that the blue imac is to blame for this.
Um, so Christi’s Chapel of the Chimes Concert went well. (In my last post, I lovingly described her intense search for samples, her last minute technical glitches, her extreme mellowness throughout, her heroic restraint in not smashing any computers and more, but alas…).
Tennis Roberts has a gig on July 4th in Santa Cruz, someplace in the mountains. the planners want to set off big fireworks. hopefully, there will not be acoustical curtains up to catch fire. Just drought-dried folliage.

Child Labor Laws Were Passed for Good Reasons

The world’s most fucked up little coffee shop just got worse. The coffee has always been terrible. It’s home to the hyper-quadruple-pulled latte. (this is a bad thing. Bitter and auful and served near boiling temperature). the service is auful. At least the food has gotten better. And the guy who used to flirt with Christi and touch her hair has gone away. But the last time I went in there (everytime I go in, I swear that I will never return.), the owner had a neighborhood twelve year old working behind the counter. Making smoothies. Delivering food. Pouring ice tea. “Breaking child labor laws?” I asked him. He’s always hyper. He jumps up and down. yells a lot. Pulls lattes at least four times. “No no! It’s leagl! It’s legal!” he insisited, “As long as the parents consent it’s totally legal! Her mom consented! She consented! And it’s legal to pay them less than minimum wage! I can pay her less than minimum wage! It’s legal! Mcdonalds does it! It’s legal!”
The issue of using McDonalds corp as your moral compass aside, it is not at all legal to hire a twelve year old for non-farm labor. If parents could consent to send their kids off to work, factories would still be full of children. (but her, give the pResident time, I’m sure factories full of children are in our future. We can call them juvenile detetion centers. Or public schools. anyway…) The labor department website says the minimum fine for hiring a child under 14 is ten thousand dollars. which leads to a dillemma. When I was 12, I had a job watering my neighbor’s plants twice a week. It paid $2 per hour. It was not particularly educational, but nor was it strenous or dangerous. The nieghbor was a sweet older woman. Last time I went by my dad’s house, I saw that her place was for sale. I hope nothing has happened to her.
Hyper-Cafe-Owning Man is definitely not sweet. It seems like there is a big difference between my job for Mrs. Stevenson and the 12 year old’s job for HCOM. I worry that she’s being exploited. But maybe she’s not. Maybe she really wants or needs the job. and I dunno if she works every day or just on weekends or what.
So, do I do nothing? Do I print out copies of labor laws and slip them under the door? Do I rat him out to the department of labor? the presence of such a young person working behind the counter was making other patrons uneasy too. One smallish child asked his dad, “If we eat here, am I going to have to go to work too?”
So, while HCOM is clearly a bad guy, the folks working for him are not. If he goes out of buisiness from fines (which he may sorely deserve), they’re all out of jobs too. Of course, if he replaces them all with little kids, they’re out of work anyway. What do you think? Leave comments, please

Statement of Purpose – Mills College

When I was in high school, my two loves were computer programming and tuba playing. I chose to pursue a career in programming for economic reasons, but I’ve often wondered about the tuba-playing road not taken.

I went to Mills College to study Computer Science, but I quickly found myself gravitating toward the Center for Contemporary Music. I had some limited exposure to New Music before college, thanks to an excellent community radio station, but was not aware of it other than casually listening to noise bands. What I learned at Mills changed everything I thought about sound and music creation. I studied electronic music with Maggi Payne. She taught synthesis techniques on a large Moog Modular Synthesizer. The sound and the possibilities for music making were incredible. I thought that the Moog was fantastic. I loved making music with it and the approach to sound creation that went with it. I decided to double-major in Computer Science and Electronic Music.

I learned to compose music for tape by recording source sounds, such as field recordings or interesting synthesizer patches and mixing them together, so that mixing is as much composing as finding or creating the source sounds. It shaped how I think about composing. This is still the method I use for creating almost all of my pieces. Often, there is a metaphor or idea that ties all of the source sounds together, but sometimes I just record interesting patches until I have “enough” of them. Then I look for interesting ways to mix them together. I love doing this because of the focus on pure sound, rather than algorithms or theory and also because of its tactility.

In addition to studying synthesis, I played tuba in the Contemporary Performance Ensemble and also took classes in recording techniques and computer music. I learned to program in MAX and experimented with unusual input devices, like the Nintendo Power Glove. I took all of the required classes in music history and theory and also classes in Computer Science, my other major. Those classes covered programming concepts relevant to computer music including networking and programming languages. I also took an independent study class in analog electronics, to better understand the internal workings of analog synthesizers.

My senior concert was a collaboration between another composition student and myself. We decided to have multiple pieces playing at the same time, like one of John Cage�s music circuses. I wrote three pieces of tape music and one MAX patch that ran on a laptop throughout. I also wrote five or 10 small pieces for wandering trios that played throughout the program and I assembled one small installation. My partner and I collaborated on a piece for electric guitars and vibrators. She wrote most of the trios and a percussion trio with three movements. We created a web page about this concert, with information for performers and attendees. It is still on-line at http://casaninja.com/concert/.

After graduation, I worked at a startup company that made products related to e-commerce. I did web programming and worked on their server. The company was a bit chaotic. In addition to my main duties, I was also in charge of the firewall and could find myself assigned to any task. Periodically, the management would come by and tell everyone that we were just about to have an IPO, or get more funding, or be bought by someone, in the meantime, we just had to give up a few more evenings and weekends. I did not write any music at all while I worked there, because the schedule took over all of my time.

When someone I had met at an earlier interview called to ask if I would like to go work at Netscape and have more free time and make more money, I accepted. I was the release engineer for the open directory project � the largest human-edited directory on the Internet and I wrote web-based tools for editors. I also informally wrote the Product Requirements Document for ChefMoz, a restaurant database. The job was interesting and I had enough time to make music and the means to obtain equipment. I purchased a MOTM Modular synthesizer and started recording tape music and posting it to Mp3.com. I also submitted a tape to Woodstockhausen 2000, which they played. My goal was to have two careers simultaneously. I would be an engineer and a composer. It might have worked except that I was commuting 50 miles each way to work and it was starting to burn me out. I realized that music had become a hobby rather than a vocation, so I started looking for work closer to home. My boss asked me to stay on as the Product Manager for AOL online music. I agreed, but apparently AOL had a competing group on the east coast and Time Warner, who AOL purchased, had three or four different competing groups. In 2001, I was laid off.

While I was searching for another job, I continued recording tape music and posting it to Mp3.com. I joined a group of noise music composers on the service. We thought that by working together, we could raise the profile of noise music in general while also advancing our music careers. One of these artists had a small record label and released two songs of mine on a compilation disk.

Around the same time, the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum in San Francisco, issued a call for proposals for temporary installations that focused on sonic characteristics of the museum. I collaborated with two other people on two proposals, both of which were accepted. The first installation used piezo contact microphones attached to exhibits with moving parts. The sounds were amplified, unprocessed so that passers-by could hear the quiet sounds they would not otherwise notice. For the second piece, I wrote a MAX/MSP patch to demonstrate the resonant frequencies of a part of the building. It used the type of feedback loop that Alvin Lucier used in his piece I am Sitting in a Room.

Shortly thereafter, my domestic partner was also laid off, so I postponed my job search and we spent the summer traveling in Europe. I wrote no music while I was there, but I visited several modern art museums, and went to the Venice Biennale. I also visited an online friend in Germany at ZKM, a research center that commissioned her to write a paper about mp3. I was very impressed with the facilities there and the idea of music research.

When I came home, I had hundreds of musical ideas. The first was to switch career tracks to focus on composition. I wrote several pieces of tape music, and then I decided that I wanted to write more music for live performance, so I organized a five person percussion group and wrote a couple of pieces music for them. The group performed them at an art a local artist�s gallery opening. I also did computer consulting and started volunteering for Other Minds, a New Music nonprofit in San Francisco. I started as the driver for their festival. Shortly after that, they got possession of the KPFA music archives, featuring interviews with every important composer between 1969 and 1992. They are planning to use their library for a web radio project. I am helping them catalog their tape archive and pick out interesting tapes to submit for grant applications. I also work for them as a volunteer sound engineer and produced or helped produce several CDs used for grant applications and I gave them technical advice regarding the web radio server hardware and software.

Last spring I attended the Composing a Career Conference sponsored by the Women’s Philharmonic. Almost everyone else there had a masters degree and the presenters all assumed they were speaking to a masters-level audience. Realizing that I needed more education, I started looking into graduate programs. I also started submitting tapes to festivals and calls for scores. One of my tapes was accepted at Woodstockhausen 2002.

Tragically, shortly after the conference, while I was on my way to visit Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had surgery and started radiation treatment. All of my music work and consulting jobs were put on hold so I could spend time helping to take care of my mom. The treatment was not helpful and she died in the middle of October.

I spent several weeks after her death re-thinking my life plans. A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to continue with my chosen track. I submitted a score to Jack Straw Productions for inclusion in a Trimpin installation and they accepted it. I also started pulling together applications to the graduate schools that I picked out in the spring. Your program seemed like an obvious choice.

I have learned much from Mills already, and I feel there is more to learn. I know first-hand about the excellent faculty and facilities. I hope to continue the studies I undertook as an undergrad while also acquiring new skills and knowledge.

At Mills, I hope to learn more about electronic music and also about composition for live performance. I would like to learn new techniques for creating music, including computer sound generation and digital synthesis. I would also like to learn about building installations and other electronic musical tools. I hope to learn more mediums for composition. I would also like to explore more writing for traditional instruments. Mills has a reputation for performance as well as composition and I hope to be able to work with some of the performers studying there. I am especially interested in studying algorithmic composition, a subject in which Mills has an excellent reputation.

After I graduate with a masters degree, I hope to find success as a freelance composer. I am also interested in doing music research at a center like STEIM, IRCAM or ZKM, or a comparable center in the United States. I know that Mills could give me the skills and education necessary to achieve this goal. Your excellent reputation would also help my professional aspirations. I hope you will consider me for your program.

blah blah blah. I hope i sound positive.

Consumer Choice

Several months ago, the cafe down the block from my abode changed ownership. The previous owner yelled at my dog (because her dog attacked mine, and so mine must be at fault, right?), so after going there once, I never returned. It was strickly a weekday cafe catering to workers in the area and not residents. Anyway, the new owner opened up the place on weekends and made a definite effort to be part of the neighborhood community, business and residential. He was almost too nice to my dog, giving her many many scraps of meat until she would come home and barf.
The cafe showed some of my neighbor’s art. The percussion group that Christi and I organized playes at the art openeing. The food was good and the staff was friendly. One of the transient people staying at my house got a job there. Christi got friendly with one of the staff who gave us a Rhodes piano that he wanted to see get restored (note to self: spend this afternoon fixing the dern piano). All was well and happy.
And then the food started to suck. They gave me raw pancakes. I vowed never to return. A week later I was back. Something else was not right. We quit eating food there, but just got coffee. Then Luoi started bringing home coffee from Gaylords (on Piedmont Ave in Oakland). Angels sung overhead when I drank that coffee. I really vowed never to return to the place down the street and I didn’t. Once I had Gaylord’s coffee, I was through with their (same priced as Gaylords) swill.
And then yesterday, while walking the dog back from the post office (apparently you can’t just put an address label on a dog and send her to Siberia), I ran into the Rhodes guy. I asked him how it was going. Not well. The cafe is losing money. He’s had his hours cut. They’re all in financial trouble. oh no! So, I’m about to head over to buy a soy chocolate milk which I may drink and I may accidentally spill in a planter on the way home.
Catholic guilt is a pain.