Saturday, October 31, 2015

№ 226. Percussive Halloween

I've been banging the piano for close to thirty-three years now. The piano is an old analog instrument and is considered as both percussion and string. Because of its age and unique mechanism, it offers an unparalleled range of repertoire and performance options. Perhaps this is the reason why it's called the king of instruments despite its many demands and, yes, limitations.

Last Thursday, I watched a piano recital at the Abelardo Hall. It was an academic requirement for the performer's Masters Degree in Music Performance. The recital exposed me to a side of classical music which I did not realize included pieces showcasing the piano in very unconventional, almost theatrical staging.

Halloween treat after office: free Abelardo recital

Saturday, October 24, 2015

№ 225. Seed Clouds of Ideas: Interestingness

Here's an interesting read about interestingness of ideas. "Interesting" used to be a neutral, ergo, a safe response to an idea. This was until the word was repackaged with new visual power and connotation in Flickr.

Seed Cloud Installation

Monday, October 19, 2015

№ 223. Happy 7th, Sophia

Let wisdom be your shadow:

At sunrise, yellow,
Like omelettes and jams from mom;

At midday, white,
Like lace, linens and lunch breaks;

At sunset, orange,
Like tickles and pups to walk you home;

At nighttime, grey,
Like warm cloaks of dad's goodnight tuck.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

№ 222. Two Funerals and A Film About Black Death

We visited two funerals this week and to cap it off, I finally finished watching the The Seventh Seal.

Bart would say, "¡Ay, caramba!". I would say, "Tick tock".

First Funeral (Sunday, October 11). A close friend since kindergarten days (almost 40 years of friendship), a cardiologist, had to go through the last three or so months of his mother. His mom was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer last July. The cancer has metastasized to the lungs. It was again an issue between curative or palliative. In the end, doctor friends advised palliative care.

I was called to the hospital last Sunday to advise on end of life issues. She passed away three days later, survived by her husband, two daughters, two sons and a number of grandchildren.

Second Funeral (Wednesday, October 14). An officer at work confided that her father, a chronic diabetic, was undergoing renal dialysis. That was May, five months ago. He passed away last Monday, four days before his 75th birthday.

Our laminated lives seem both too brief and yet too lengthy. How is meaning and measure appreciated? Is it achieved, gained or obtained? Does one decide whether to view life through the lens of kairos or chronos, or both, depending on the need?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

№ 221. Virtual Lawyering

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." --- Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

What is out there for the once and future lawyer?

Emails are so mid-90s. Google has grown up and morphed into a teenage giant. Social networks are slowly plateauing. Wireless, and its many iterations, is almost the humdrum norm, circa 2015, except maybe for my desktop office.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

№ 220. Missed Connection

I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself.

One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I'd flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I'll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.

And so on the morning of that New Year's Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.

I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street.

By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart.

It didn't, of course, so I started back to the apartment.

And then I saw you.

You'd taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I'd never seen anything so beautiful.

When I joined you under the balcony, you looked at me with your big green eyes, and I could tell that you'd been crying. I asked if you were okay. You said you'd been better. I asked if you'd like to have a cup of coffee. You said only if I would join you.

Before I could smile, you snatched my hand and led me on a dash through Downtown Crossing and into Neisner's. We sat at the counter of that five and dime and talked like old friends. We laughed as easily as we lamented, and you confessed over pecan pie that you were engaged to a man you didn't love, a banker from some line of Boston nobility. A Cabot, or maybe a Chaffee. Either way, his parents were hosting a soirée to ring in the New Year, hence the dress. 

For my part, I shared more of myself than I could have imagined possible at that time. I didn't mention Vietnam, but I got the sense that you could see there was a war waging inside me. Still, your eyes offered no pity, and I loved you for it. 

After an hour or so, I excused myself to use the restroom. I remember consulting my reflection in the mirror. Wondering if I should kiss you, if I should tell you what I'd done from the cockpit of that bomber a week before, if I should return to the Smith & Wesson that waited for me.

I decided, ultimately, that I was unworthy of the resuscitation this stranger in the teal ball gown had given me, and to turn my back on such sweet serendipity would be the real disgrace. On the way back to the counter, my heart thumped in my chest like an angry judge's gavel, and a future -- our future -- flickered in my mind.

But when I reached the stools, you were gone. No phone number. No note. Nothing.

As strangely as our union had begun, so too had it ended. I was devastated. I went back to Neisner's every day for a year, but I never saw you again.

Ironically, the torture of your abandonment seemed to swallow my self-loathing, and the prospect of suicide was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that restaurant. The truth is I never really stopped wondering.

Friday, October 9, 2015

№ 219. The Voice


A nun takes the veil

I HAVE desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be 5
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)

Yup, she's still got the voice --- clarity, precision and timbre.