Forming a plan

Today is 30 July. My dissertation is due on 30 September. I am now planning on how things will be between now and then.
I know that I cannot work every day between now and then. My maximum sprint time is 10 days. So I need to plan on taking one day off per week, which might was well be on the weekend. With BiLE on Wednesdays, that gives me 5 days a week. Also, planning on working 16 hour days is also not going to work. Instead, I can do 4 hours on music and 4 hours on words. Roughly, I have 160 hours of each to spend.
If I keep to a reasonable sleeping schedule and cut back on facebook, I can still go out occasionally. I am not going to drink unless it is the evening before my one break day per week. Also, since stress levels will be high, that break day needs to actually be spent away from a computer like riding my bike or going to the beach or something worthwhile.
Everything is going to be fine. This will all be over soon. I will get it it all done. I just need to focus and work hard.
I may start doing again what I did with my MA and start posting drafts of various bits, looking for feedback.

Attention: Single Ladies

Are you a straight or bi woman between 29-40, who has given up on the single scene? Feel like all the good men are taken?

Despair Not!

Meet eligible postgraduate men near you!
Yes, your area may be teeming with unpaired postgrad men. Men with exciting and interesting hobbies such as:

  • Working on their dissertations
  • Doing fake-work
  • Facebooking
  • Procrastinating
  • Feeling guilty about facebooking and procrastinating
  • Deconstructing re-runs of The Simpsons
  • And More!

Yes, you too can be let into the life and the flat of a man who has stacks of books everywhere and mutters to himself about conference submission deadlines. You can experience the joys of wonder of hearing him say, “I really should be working right now.” You can go to fun parties with academics where your date shows up exceedingly late and then drinks only lemonade in case he decides to do more work at 1:30 AM.
Do you find gaudy material tokens of success like nice haircuts and shoes without holes to be shallow and off-putting? Have you always wondered abou the finer points of spectromorphology carried out with open source software and the communities that produce those artefacts? Does your heart go pitter-patter for somebody reading theory textbooks on the beach on holidays? Yes, postgraduate men are waiting to meet you!


If you’re a bloke and you’re still reading this far, why not meet postgraduate women who are pretty much like the men described above, but with the added bonus of being female.


While supplies last! Yes, nab them quickly before they finish with their writing up year or drop out of uni or meet somebody else (haha, just kidding on the last one)

Why note date a postgraduate near you TODAY?

You’re going to have to make the first move here, and be as blatant as possible about it, or else they might not notice. But give it a go. Soon.

Postgrad life

The Loop

Wake up late. Check email. Check facebook. Check blogs. Ponder doing work. Do something work-like (read a book on the topic or write a related blog post or make sure software platform is current or work on code library or design drum sounds or . . .), Realise it’s time to go to whatever. Feel guilty due to lack of work accomplished. Decide to show up late. Then decide it’s too late and don’t go OR show up fantatically late. Feel guilty the whole time out. Pick up laptop upon return home. Just have a little peek at the internet. Realise it’s getting light out. Go to bed late . . ..

How It’s going to be

I have about 9 months to go, which is certainly enought time. I am going to go to bed by 2. I am going to get up by 10. I will limit facebook + blogs together to no more than one hour per day. I will not start typing on my tutorial until I have done 2 hours of composing. Every thing I start programming needs to get into a piece. I will go out 3 or 4 nights a week, because I cannot be a shut-in. I will slack at least one day per week but not more than 2. Slack day means 4+ sunlight hours not looking at a computer.
I will write 10 minutes of music per month. I will finish by May.
I’m writing this on the bus, so it’s not ironic!
Changing my sex has been somewhat distracting, but I have to get on with it.

Poster Event?

My university is doing a post conference thing. The want postgrads to make posters explaining their research and then present them at a gathering. Several of these have gone on since I’ve been enrolled. The university will actually cover the printing costs of the poster and they give prizes to the best ones. There’s no admission fee. So this might be a drain on time, but not on finances.

I’ve been ignoring all of them. I’m a composer. I write music. What would my poster say? “Using Joysticks in Suggestive Manners in Musical Performance”? On the other hand, the sheer number of these things seems to indicate that they’re somehow vital to the British academic experience. I have a feeling I need some of this on my CV also, if I want to go on in academia. I need to present some stuff, maybe write an article, do a TAship, etc.
If I were, say, writing code to talk to haptic devices or working on developing the monome (there’s a group coming soon to London to do this. w00t.), then I think I would know what to do. But mostly, I sort of cut up samples and manipulate them. Is that research? I mean, I wrote the code to do all the manipulation, but I did most of it at Wesleyan. And it’s not like I invented any of the ideas I use. SuperCollider has a real DIY ethic, which is one reason I wrote the code myself. The other is because bugs and artifacts don’t necessarily sound bad, but they do tend to sound characteristic and recognizable. I don’t want to sound like GRM Tools, I want to sound like my own set of bugs. Anyway, I know many composers are very mathematically rigorous and thus can appear more researchy, but I’m not. Mathematical rigor in composition is good for some composers in that it gives them direction and sort of scoots them along, but it usually doesn’t result in a perceptible difference of output. It’s fake science, and again, that’s fine if it motivates.
I’m doing this commissioning thing (still), but it doesn’t seem like research? I have a hypothesis, but no controls and the “experiment” is vaguely defined and it’s difficult to draw conclusions. (“The music industry is doomed, so we should try this other model. I already know most of the people who went for it. So, um, give it a try?”). There’s the social networking thing, but it’s still vaporware and not exactly part of my academic program here.
So my point is that I think maybe I should, for the sake of the experience, do a poster, but I’m not finding applicable examples on the internets. And, actually, I see a lot of calls for things go by that I think I might have something to add to, but am not sure where to start. Anyway, anybody got examples of composer posters? I found a couple of interesting links of poster design, but they don’t address content: How to Make a Great Poster and Nasa’s Basics of Poster Design

Cooking and Eating for Postgrads: Oatmeal (aka Porridge)

Breakfast: the most expensive important meal of the day. Oatmeal is an economical and hearty way to eat in the morning.



  • small pan
  • measuring cup
  • spoon
  • knife (optional)

Food Items

  • Oats
  • Raisins (optional)
  • Apple or Pear (optional)
  • Banana (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Soy Milk (optional)


Put 0.1 L of oats in a pan with 0.3 L of water. Put it on low heat. Add in a small handful of raisins. Stir some. Cut up an apple or pear into small pieces and add them. Stir some. Cut a banana into slices and add them. Stir some. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Stir occasionally. When it looks done, it is. Serve with soy milk

You’ve just gotten

The oats are a warm and filling way to start the cold day! And full of fibre. The three fruits have given you three of your five a day (and it’s not even lunch time yet!). The banana has potassium. The soy milk has protein. And if you’ve been wise in your soy purchase, it also has calcium and b12.


Breakfast cereals are expensive because they’re fortified. Because most people have a crap diet and don’t take any vitamins, all of the stuff they’re presumed to be missing is added to cereal. This means that you’re not only paying for the food in it, the colorful packaging, the catchy marketing campaign, the secret toy inside and the artificial flavors, you’re also paying for it to be your daily multi. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the price per gram of cold breakfast cereal is not good.
However, there are some vitamins that are difficult or impossible to get from plant sources only. Including B12, which is necessary for survival. It’s found in spirulina and marmite, but if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’re going to need to get more than you can from those sources (it’s in milk, but not in eggs). This means you can either take supplements or drink fortified soy milk. Check the label of the soy milk before you buy it. Mine gives me my daily allowance of B12 in about the same amount I use on coffee and oatmeal. It also is fortified with calcium, which you need and which, despite what you make have heard, is hard to get from milk.
Ok, there’s a lot of stuff going around about how soy is secretly poison or whatever. Firstly, we’re not talking about living off of nothing but soy, we’re talking about one serving of soy milk. Second, I’m not familiar with all the claims against soy, but I do know the ones people say about estrogen: soy will make you girly!!. Oh my god, vegetarians really are effeminate!!
I know, estrogen is so alarming! Can you believe it, your own body even makes it! What a traitor! Ok, small amounts of plant based estrogen aren’t bad for you. It’s in a lot of foods. Unless you go crazy with the soy, this isn’t going to be a problem. Second, you actually need some estrogen in your body in order for your brain to function properly. No estrogen = no brains. Make of that what you will.
Anyway, we’re talking about one serving of soy milk here, so this is not really an issue, but I want to add that I think the hysteria behind soy estrogens has a lot to do with homophobia, sexism, and gender normativity more than it has anything to do with a valid health concern. Soy beans do not make you gay. Sheesh.

Carbon Footprint

I made some claims earlier about only eating local produce. No, they don’t grow bananas in England. I’ve started making an exception for bananas because I really like them and they’re a really good source of potassium, which prevents things like foot cramps. I get the fair trade bananas. I was listening to the Democracy Now podcast a few weeks ago and heard an advocate of banana growers talking about fair trade. Banana growers need to survive , and if I buy fair trade, then that helps them do so.
Hopefully that doesn’t make me a hypocrite to go on to say that many breakfast cereals have a terrible carbon footprint. Ingredients from all over the world come together at one factory very far away from where you live and then are shipped back to you. Dried fruit from Turkey goes to North America, goes back to England. However, the main reason I eat oatmeal is because it’s cheap and warming and makes my mornings brighter.

Cooking and Eating for Postgrads: Winter Soup

You’re poor. You’re stressed for time. You need to be mentally alert and able to produce quality output. You need to be as healthy as possible. You food fuels all of that and actually makes up your physical matter. So to be at the top of your game, you need to eat right. This is the first of series gives you pointers for what to eat and how to cook it.
Because I never measure anything and I’m too lazy to start now, I’m going to give very approximate directions. But you’ve gotten this far in your education, so you’re used to dealing with incomplete cues.

Winter Soup


  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Pan
  • Spoon

Food Items

  • Uncooked Rice
  • Dried, split lentils
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Herbs (Italian, Herbes de Provence, whatever)
  • Onion, or leek or other member of this family
  • Some root vegetable: like half a Swede, a couple of parsnips, half a celery root or some combination thereof.
  • 5 brussels sprouts or some broccoli
  • Vinegar (optional (I prefer apple cider vinegar because it’s tasty and versatile))
  • Garlic clove (optional)
  • Half a dried pepper (optional)


Put 0.1 or 0.2 liters (0.5 – .075 cups) each of rice and lentils in the bottom of a pan. Or use more. Fill up the pan with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil (around a tablespoon (2 mL)). Put the pan on the stove on the lowest possible heat setting. Go away and do some work. You can do this for just 20 minutes, or much, much longer. It doesn’t matter. When you think of it, come back to the kitchen.
Add a couple of teaspoons of your herbs. If you’re going to add some dried pepper, cut it in half and shake the seeds out and throw away the seed. Drop it in. Cut up an onion or leek into small pieces that you would want to get in a bowl of soup. Add them to the pot. If you’re adding garlic, do that now too.
Wash and peel your root vegetables. Cut them into little pieces and throw them in.
Wash your sprouts and and cut them into quarters. throw them into the pot.
If you want to add a splash of vinegar, do it.
When the brussel sprouts sort of start to look like they’re blooming: the leaves are starting to separate a bit, your soup is probably done. Test a swede (or whatever root) to be certain. Also, add salt if you need it.
Hopefully, you’ve made more than you need to eat in a single night. After you eat as much as you want, stick the rest in the fridge and reheat it tomorrow. You can add more brussels sprouts the next day to keep the vegetable count high.

You’ve just gotten

You’ve got fibre and protein from the beans and rice. Omega 3 and 6 from the olive oil. A large portion of your 5-a-day from the veggies. The brussels sprouts, in particular, have a bunch of vitamins and prevent some cancers. I’m too lazy to calculate the cost for this meal, but it’s really economical: you get what you need for a good price. All of the vegetables are in season right now.

Basic Staples

What are non-perishable items that you’ll be using a lot of? Olive oil, salt (sea salt if you can afford it), herbs as used above, curry powder, dried rice, dried lentils.
You can almost live off nothing but those staples mixed with vegetables. Beans and rice together form a complete protein, which means that it’s just as good as the protein you get from meat or dairy, but much, much cheaper. I’m fond of lentils because they cook very quickly. Other beans also have protein.

Ways to Meet People and Improve My Social Life

Yeah, I don’t know if it’s technically possible to “improve” something that doesn’t exist. I have school stuff once a week and everybody tends to go the pub afterwards and chats for an hour or so. And that’s it. Oh, and I meet my supervisor every other week. So basically, on Wednesday, I speak with people. And for a few minutes in the afternoons when i walk Xena in the park. the rest of the week, I turn down the heater and avoid my housemates who want to know why it’s so cold in the house. (“Because it’s winter” is not an answer. Anyway. I’m a bad housemate.)
Today, I took Xena to the vet. We got to take a nice long walk. And when I got there, I got to speak with the receptionists and the vet and there was joking around. The British sense of humor is fantastic. But, alas, it’s probably not a good long term plan to hang around the vet’s office. Although, I have to return in three weeks to get the second course of shots for Xena. She’s got a shiny new RFID chip and her limping is caused by arthritis. Because she’s old. But I can take her to the continent in May and back in June and it shouldn’t be a problem.
On the way home I walked past a Quaker meeting house. I’d never seen an actual, dedicated brick building for them. I went to take a closer look. It had a bust of a member of the Cadbury family on the side of it. (Cadbury’s candy company is based in Birmingham, something that would have brought me great joy as a child if I’d known I’d one day live her. Also, they have giant goose-egg sized cream eggs in the grocery store. Which I really don’t want to eat, but I feel like a traitor to myself at age 8 if I don’t, since I thought this was the highest form of food item that anyone could ever want. Anyway.) So I went to take a picture of the Cadbury bust and a woman came out to ask me what I was doing tromping around the outside of her meeting house. She explained that it had been built by the Cadbury family, as, indeed, had been most of the village surrounding. Most of the cottages had been built to house chocolate factory workers. It sounds quite a bit like industrial serfdom – the benefacting owner gives homes and worship places to adequately docile workers. And in exchange, they put a bust of him on the church, or rather, he does it. I said he must have been very humble to put a bust of himself on the church. Apparently, I haven’t quite got the hang of the British sense of humor.
This could be a way to meet other folks my age. Church! Except I have a hard time believing that the universe was created by a sentient being who can read my mind and cares deeply whether or not I masturbate. This weeds out most religions, including the gay churches like the MCC. Does those even exist in the UK? But Quakers! I could become a Quaker, since they don’t believe in anything either, right? I explained to the woman how much I respect and admire the peace activism of Quakers in the US. So she started explaining some differences between American and English Quakers. This particular meeting house has an organ and a preacher. Which sounds alarmingly hierarchical, although I do like the organ. I need a religion of anarchist atheists.
Or, I could just join an anarchist group. (Stop making bad jokes and go read up on the political philosophy. Sheesh.) When and where do they meet? Do they have a webpage? Maybe there’s a student group?
My uni is huge. There’s three banks that I know of on campus. Two grocery stores. Three bars. That I know of, and I’m not very familiar with the campus. I was scoping out the web page for the Guild of Students and they said they serve the very large post grad population. (“Post grad” is British for “grad student.”) So when the LGBTQ group said they were having a movie, I decided to go. February was Queer History Month in the UK. Don’t they know that’s for Black people? I’m sensing a trend where when a country is grudgingly forced to admit that a despised minority has been integral to their development, they give them the shortest month of the year. So I went to the movie and was the oldest person in the room by several years. Chatting with 18 year olds does make me less lonely, but I dunno. I didn’t talk much, actually. I was a mysterious, older foreign man. The women acted fascinated by me. The movie was cosponsored by the Jewish group, so I don’t know if they were queer or not, but the respect they immediately afforded me was a bit disconcerting. Or maybe I was totally misreading it and they wondered why this older, um, guy(?) had wandered in.
Ok, so maybe not student organizations, so much. Or, at least, not primarily.
But the answer is obvious. The local music scene! Institutes of higher ed are so funny in that they tend to be right in the middle of a thriving local arts scene -that they’re totally disconnected from. So how do I get connected?

Off to Birmingham

I’m going tomorrow morning to visit Birmingham. I applied to the University there and I’m having an interview. Hopefully they will let me in.

I failed to realize how soon this trip was looming and failed to find free lodging for myself, but found some for my dog at about 23:15. Thank gods.
Why Birmingham? Well, everybody says it’s SuperCollider heaven. I’ve only ever heard good things. Several people told me to apply. So I did. I haven’t done other things like read a prospectus or apply for funding or even discover how expensive the tuition is (yeah, I forgot Britain is stupid in the same ways that the US is and so education is probably ridiculously over-priced). £9,200 ack.
Early flight, off to bed.

the plan

I’m going to capture all of the bush radio addresses since september 11th and get samples from them of him saying “terrorist.” I want to get all of his public pronouncements of “terrorist.” since he’s so rarely unscripted, it may actually be possible to download all his public pronouncements, since he usually just gives speeches and the white house (probably) archives those. I’m going to be listening to a lot of bush. And then trying to assemble all of the audio. I bet you’re glad you’re not my housemate (unless you’re Aaron, in which case you are my housemate).

class today

I co-lead a TA session on recording stuff in the electronic music studios and the recording studio. actually, it was 9:00 am, so i let Jascha do as much of the talking as possible. I’ve been told the way to cure my shyness in approaching strangers is to pay a compliment to a stranger every day. this makes me not want to leave my house, so I think I’ll start by saying “hi,” to strangers. but I won’t take candy from them.
My visionaries class will be discussing Joan of Arc on wednesday. Some of the reading makes claims disputed by Regine Pernoud, former head of the Joan of Arc Centre in Orleans. I wish they offered a seminar just on Joan. That would be awesome. We’ve been reading all these visionaries and they’re just odd. there’s a whole lot of god talk, obviously. Some folks find Margery Kempe to be annoying because she’s extremely repetitive. She’s extremely trashy too. I don’t find the repetitiveness annoying. Is it because I’m a musician and music thrives on repitition? I don’t find the repititiveness annoying.
Wrote some stuff for my SuperCollider tutorial, which will hopefully constitute enough work to cover the two weeks that Ron was gone. If I may be so arrogant, I could put together the whole class project by myself in an afternoon (ok, a weekend), but I’m not sure how much flexibility is required or how much work I should do.

and then

I went to retrieve Xena from India House, but ended up staying for the evening and having my first encounter with what Connecticut terms “Chinese Food.” Oh dear, no no no no. The India House denizens were mocking me for my snobbishness in refusing to try local chinese food. I should not allow myself to be swayed so easily.
I’m starting to like the ice that’s everywhere. Yeah, it’s slippery, but it looks kind of cool and makes very nice cracking sounds when you step on it. Also, if it’s very cold out and you kick an ice formation, it makes a very satisfying shattering sound. Like breaking glass but lighter. And nobody cares if you break ice and it won’t cut anyone, but if you kick something too thick, it may hurt your foot. Last semester, an undergrad, Dan St. Clair, did a cool installation with sheets of ice shattering and I thought it was impressed, but only now do I get it. I’ve been trying to think of sonic things to do with ice, but Dan’s project covered everything that I can think of so far. He’s kind of brilliant.

I am going insane

Ok, I’m not really going insane.

what do grad students do when they’re not studying?

I go to endless classes. I played a gamelan concert on friday at a posh private elementary school in West Hartford. It had a shadow puppet play, which went over ectremely well, but I couldn’t really see it, because I was playing the kempul, a set of the second-largest gongs. There are five of them and I sit in the back, so I couldn’t really see the puppets around the gongs, but even if I could, I get lost in the music when I look at them.
I write papers, but of course, that’s also studying. and I eat and i sleep and often I talk to other grad students about classes or homework or concerts or music or professors or whatever. but mostly grad students talk about sex. Everytime I go out to have beers with folks, they end up talking the whole time about sex. Long angsty conversations about sex.
It’s starting to stress me out. I keep having this dream that I get so stressed about classes and homework and my angsty interactions with other highly angst grad students, that my hair falls out. Almost all the men here are balding. There’s only a couple of guys here that have all their hair. Is their hair falling out because they are angsty grad students or are they angsty grad students because their hair is falling out? Could this happen to me? I’ve been checking in the mirror and so far so good. But really, the angst around here is so palpable that I can feel my hair follicles start to tingle.
I am so glad that the semester is almost over. My desire for a break has actually become greater than my near-certainty that I’m not going to get all my projects and papers finished.