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Echoes of Flavio's Ghost Dreaming
flavius_m
Wake up in the night and see through the curtains this big round yellow moon beaming from above. Magical! * . Pity it was 4:15 am and I had to get up at 5:20 am so no chance of going back to sleep. Here's to a new year with better sleep patterns.. :D



* (E&OE) ;)

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flavius_m
Merry Christmas, all!

Currently with fellow Venezuelan friends of many years, having done Christmas dinner late on the eve as is our custom. I expect we'll have a second Christmas dinner at lunch-time today....part of our traditional Xmas dinner includes Hallaca (pictured), ensalada de gallina (or, in modern times, veggie equivalent), pan de jamón, various kinds of sweets and cakes and, often, quite a bit of alcohol....

!Hallacas
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flavius_m
Teaching a young French pupil to play guitar arrangements of 'Away in a Manger' and 'Hark, the Herald Angels' wasn't a complete success. He had never heard either of these. Curious thing as, at least 'Manger' is something I'd always heard even though I grew up in another culture with different Christmas music. I don't think I'd heard 'Hark' before setting foot in these islands.

Christmas is a peculiar affair for me. I don't have family here and it was always a family affair. For a number of years I opted for visiting my Italian family which was always lovely (but always came back with four kilos more to me...) but as their circumstances changed it wasn't possible to do that anymore. These days I say with Venezuelan friends in Kent, near Tunbridge Wells -so I do get the family xmas but not with my family. That's not necessarily a bad thing, although the opening of the presents around the tree does make me feel like I'm gatecrashing.

Peculiar thing, also that I'm not a believer but I still feel the need to 'do' things like Christmas. I suppose that's what Dawkins was calling (referring to himself) as being 'culturally Christian'.

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flavius_m
Pisador's 'Pavana muy llana', 'very easy Pavane' https://youtu.be/hcn9gwNVnJ4 via @YouTube -I may play this at this event on the 30th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1341626609281999/ come along if you can #guitar #classicalguitar #kentishtown #northlondon #camden #kentishtowncityfarm



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flavius_m
The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.1)The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this book a lot. A different take on several science fiction standard themes -altered or augmented humans, totalitarianism and technology, etc, from the point of view of a genetically modified (if that's the correct term to use -in some ways it reminded me of PKD's androids or replicants in Electric Sheep/Blade Runner) woman of African origin. This is a prequel of an earlier book, 'Who Fears Death', which I look forward to reading.



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flavius_m
I do get big bouts of Impostor Syndrome. I'm never quite sure I know what I'm doing well enough and am painfully aware of where I fall short.

Until, that is, the moment inevitable when someone contacts me wanting me to play for them for free ('you'll get lots of exposure', they say; 'you can die of exposure', says I) or, as just happened, somebody from a tutors' agency (must be, by their wording) sends me a message with offer of teaching work with lots of conditions and paying me half what I normally charge. Go find somebody else -there' s plenty of those, alas.

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flavius_m
I'm not a morning person. At this point, 6:30 am, have been up for an hour and a quarter and awake for over two. Will have slept four hours, have a long teaching day ahead of me.

Week end was good. On Saturday it was [profile] kajia's (link will prob. not work, it's an LJ account) Hallowe'en/birthday party. I played a short guitar recital -a few short pieces by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, about a third of Bach's Chaconne up to the first cadence before the major section and, perhaps a little more appropriate for the time of year, Nikita Koshkin's 'Usher Waltz', after the horror story by Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Fall of the House of Usher' (link to me playing a small excerpt of it , here</lj>).

Will be playing at the Kentish Town City Farm on the 30th of November.... still haven't finished deciding on the programme -will certainly play the Koshkin.

Right, now to go out and face that long day. Good morning!

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flavius_m
Saturday morning. A good lie-in, although sleep was disturbed by waking up with a horrendous leg cramp that took forever to go away.

Now it's sunny, had breakfast at leisure and am half way through my first lesson with my pupil, preparing his guitar Grade 7, playing 'A Foggy Day' by Gershwin. Not a bad morning, overall. Good morning, world!

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flavius_m
How I hate getting up early.

On Tuesdays, it is 5:20 am. Not that early by the standards of many people I know who have to do this every day -but it is quite uphill for me. Always was and that hasn't changed as I get older. Not an early bird, this one here. Been teaching at this school for twenty years and it only seems to get more difficult.

One of the peculiar things that happen in relation to this is that I stress about sleeping too little or not hearing the alarm, etc. Which keeps me awake and results in too little sleep....

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flavius_m
Little girl, one of my pupils at a school where I teach guitar, starting to learn to read music: 'This music has lots of rests! I like that a lot. I could do with a rest...'

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flavius_m
Oh, boo. A gig I was expecting confirmation of (and the money from which I actually could have done with) has been cancelled. Or rather, this was a corporate thing and the corporate bods decided that they didn't need live music and least of all a classical guitarist (they didn't actually say the latter).

I wonder how best to promote, again, the idea of the house recital. It has worked in the past but it goes while it goes -I can do the playing but I'm clearly hopeless at promoting my own stuff. The idea was to sit twenty (more or less) people in chairs in a living room (yes, it is possible without them getting to know each other too well, I've done it lots of times), give them a guitar recital and a glass of wine in the interval, charge them twenty quid and give half to a local charity. Helps me pay the rent and helps a local charity. But I never know how to 'sell' the 'product'.

One of those things. Some people are really good at selling, my dad was one -but I didn't inherit an ounce of that. Maybe they swapped me in the natal clinic.

I'm crossposting this to Livejournal. If you can see it there but not in DW it's because you forgot to add me back there (remember it's a two step thing) :P

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flavius_m
LockstepLockstep by Karl Schroeder




Here is another interesting take on the old 'How can we have a space faring civilisation without Faster than Light travel?'. The author's solution is to make all the people populating those orphan planets he assumes there to be in the space between the sun and Proxima Centauri have a synchronised hibernation. They all go to sleep at the same time and sleep for 360 months for each one they're awake, while in the meantime their robots exploit and grow their resources and their ships take them while asleep on those journeys that take years in real time but only weeks to them. It's a good plot idea and although there are possible flaws it mostly works. The story, however, is a little weak and seems to be very much aimed at a teenage audience, complete with cute sentient pets and daring rescues. The characters also follow this trend and are a bit difficult to believe, in particular Toby's 'younger' (now much older) siblings. It is still a good read, however and I enjoyed it.

This was the set book for the Bibliogoth meeting for September 2017.



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flavius_m
I'm absolutely hopeless for any DIY kind of thing -the only thing I can do with my hands is play the guitar -and that only when I practise _a_lot_. When I was a child it was my sister, no me, who used to help my granddad with all the household repairs, little bits of carpentry and even bricklaying. He gave up on me pretty quickly. My dad used to observe all this with an ominous, baleful expression in his face. All his fears seemed to be confirmed when I took up music and started growing my hair long. Mind, he was wrong on many of those fears but that doesn't matter. In any case, when I've put shelves up they've quickly come down -together with half the wall's plaster.

Today I replaced the rubber gasket in my Gaggia Classic coffee machine. The coffee it had been producing of late was less and less good and finally a couple of days ago the coffee started to come out from the edges of the headgroup (it says here it's called) and definitely not good coffee. So I bought the gasket online and today I set about replacing it. It should be a simple job, the web page I found with the instructions said about ten minutes. It took me 45. Ok, did I mention I'm not good with this sort of thing? Every step of the way there was something that made me think 'I've ruined the machine -back to yuk Aeropress or something like that'. But I got there. As triumphs go this is a very small, tiny one and I'm never going to put together a car from assorted parts (or an AK-47, as someone years ago showed me a video of a Russian girl of about 14 doing in less than two minutes, maybe just to make me feel inadequate), but I have a working coffee machine again.

Now back to what I do know how to do and practise my guitar scales...

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flavius_m
Life continues, the summer comes to an end, Infest came and went (and was a fantastic gathering, as always), the schools I teach at send me the usual letter welcoming the staff for the new school year, I have a mostly pleasant week-end with the usual -a goth club, a friend's birthday at a local rock bar, my rather challenging Sunday morning lesson away... not all of it fantastic but mostly good, like life in general.

It's when you zoom out that things begin to get scary. The Brxt runaway train continues its march, seemingly towards the abyss, with those onboard claiming it's all good while it gathers speed towards the edge of the precipice. Zoom a bit further out and the most powerful person, effectively the king of the world, is an impulsive egomaniac with zero introspection, zero negotiation skills, a loud mouth and a very short fuse. There seems a possibility of a major war that would affect us all in the near to mid-term future. Zoom a bit further out and there is the climate change issue threatening us all and those that will come after. There also would seem to be a rise in non-rational views of the world, fundamentalist religion, superstition, simple explanations to complex problems...

Well.... zoom a bit further out and there is the asteroid....

In the meantime, a couple of lessons, some guitar practice and maybe gym. Life continues its flow, its steady meandering currents as yet unaffected by the storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

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flavius_m
That was a good party. That was a really good party. Tinged with a bit of melancholy, missing the people who weren't there and the one in particular who never will be there again but never left.

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flavius_m
Re-watching Season 3 of Babylon 5 because, well, outlandish and improbable Sci-Fi where the President is a crook and a nutjob and is in alliance with dark evil forces, could never happen... oh, wait...

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flavius_m
WalkawayWalkaway by Cory Doctorow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It took me a little bit to get into the world of the book, but once it grabbed me I couldn’t let go until I finished it. The high-tech near-future world of the book is in the hands of a few mega-rich and the rest struggle to survive. Four young people decide to join the ‘walk-aways’, people who leave mainstream society and set out on their own. The strife that follows, as well as the main cause of that strife (which you only find out half-way through the book) defines the plot of the book. Some of it really stretches your suspension of disbelief to almost breaking point but it all is quite well done and holds together. The main characters are well drawn, believable for the most part. I enjoyed this book a lot.



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flavius_m
A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1)A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


When reading my first ever Sherlock Holmes story I wasn't expecting a Western, complete with horses, desert, Mormons and six-shooters, to jump out of the book and take over one third of the story. I felt it was a bit meandering and also that the only character that was credible and felt like a human being rather than a plot device in the book was Watson. The resolution of the drama is, alas, predictable once you know where it's going. Holmes comes across (at least to me) as a rather unpleasant, arrogant character but done in somewhat thick brushstrokes. I enjoyed the book to a fair extent but cannot say it was my favourite or that it entices me to read more Sherlock Holmes stories.



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flavius_m
I saw this first in [personal profile] emmelinemay's FB timeline. As current now (or even more so, when the violence and hatred of the few is blamed on 'many sides, many sides' instead of those who profit and thrive in hatred and violence) as when it was made in the '40s.

US War Dept film fr 1943 - reissued 1947
https://archive.org/details/DontBeaS1947 I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

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flavius_m
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stephenson goes back to the many worlds theory with a rather different take on it. The world is now devoid of magic because... ah, wait, that might be a spoiler. Quite short by Stephenson's standards at 'only' 700 pages, which might be the influence of the co-author, Nicole Galland. Who I had not heard about but looks interesting and whose work I will be checking out. The usual Stephenson slow build up -but not as slow as in some of his other books. Again, maybe Galland rather than Stephenson. Quite believable characters, for the most part, as well as plot (once you accept the basic premise of the book); the account of the ballooning bureaucracy surrounding the project and the way it operates is quite funny and rings, alas, very true.

I read the whole of this in six days or so, in one go, pretty much. 'Anathem' is still my Stephenson favourite (as is its world), in which I know I am alone but I enjoyed this a lot and will probably read it again at some point.



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flavius_m
A short (1 min) excerpt of me playing Dyens' 'Tango en Skye'.



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flavius_m
Breakfast -an arepa with cheese, coffee, orange juice. It's the summer holiday so got up quite late and taking my time. Put the TV on to watch the news. Scan BBC (can they possibly still be building up br*x*t?), CNN (annoying but for their amusing ongoing feud with Trump), Al-Jazeera and finally Euronews (where their 'No Comment' feature has street riots in familiar places, the streets of my home-town, police shooting tear gas at demonstrators, people being arrested in the night, tyre bonfires on the street).

The overwhelming feeling, as the news from the world (particularly my original part of the world, Venezuela) scroll past, that I've woken up in a wrong strand of the multiverse, one where everything went wrong and not at all how it was supposed to happen.

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flavius_m
That was a good week-end, but increasingly I notice that I cannot do all-nighters and go to several clubs on the same night as I ... oh, ok, it always took me several days to recover from that sort of thing, but it doesn't get better as you get older. Still, it was all good.

On Friday I went to an exhibition of art of a Venezuelan friend -'Clay. Wallpaper. Venezuelan Scenarios' by Andrea Moreno at Craving Coffee in Tottenham Hale. The pieces had a lot of subtext related to the current Venezuelan political situation and to V'zlan popular culture. I enjoyed that. It was strange to be in a place where about 30% of the people present spoke in Spanish with Venezuelan accents -and addressed me in sort of cautious English. Surely I look and sound Venezuelan? My ex-girlfriend used to say I wrote with a Venezuelan accent....



Mondlicht was a blast, it is more or less the new incarnation of Invocation in a smaller, more central venue (the basement of the Albany in Gt Portland St). As I traditionally had a little birthday celebration at Reptile, I left at midnight and headed for Archway. Now, I like Reptile even though the choice of music is not always my cup; had a good bit of a dance, chatted with friends, but by 3:00 am I'd decided I'd had enough so headed home. Could have walked but didn't; the 134 takes me right to my doorstep from there. Had some good conversations but also discovered that somebody I quite like (beautiful, interesting woman in many respects and from every other interaction I'd had with her, intelligent and mature) turns out to be a climate change denier. As I backed off slowly, the other friend who was present was asking her about some other conspiracy theory trope 'sure you also believe then that...' and she replies 'actually, since you mention...' at which point I disappeared back into the dance floor. 

On Sunday I met with friends at the Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town for Sunday Roast -which was very good, as was the gathering. At the bar I ran into a former guitar pupil who was on his first shift as a bartender at the place. That was a little bit strange. 

* the links are to Facebook events. One or several of them may not be public.


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flavius_m
A week already since the last Hampstead Alternative Picnic. I must finally be getting old (finally? that happened long long ago..) but I think I prefer this sort of gathering -friends sharing food, drink and conversation * in a quiet setting where one can talk, rather than noisy clubs and pubs that are nearly always as noisy as the clubs.

There should be another one on August 12th (FB event here but I suspect it is restricted view)


* for extended values of the word 'conversation...'


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flavius_m
One for my students: a lovely little study by Fernando Sor.


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flavius_m
Off in a little while to the Hampstead Alternative Picnic, the first one this year, in front of Kenwood House as usual. What do you say? It may rain? You say it like it's a terrible thing. Or very unusual in London... :D



https://www.facebook.com/events/1858383921112207/
* you might not be able to see the event as it is set to 'private'. If you want I can send you an invite.

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flavius_m
_That_ disastrous dinner of Juncker and May, Jeremy Cliffe's twitter thread....


https://mobile.twitter.com/JeremyCliffe/status/858810953353367552

(as seen in [personal profile] hairyears's FB timeline)

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flavius_m
Paid for a year's account on Dreamwidth. More icons. What else? I never do polls so I don't need that. Or, do I.

Still cross-posting to LJ. If you're reading this there, I'm moving over to DW (together with, it seems, most of my LJ friends) due to the unacceptable Terms & Conditions that LJ is imposing.

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flavius_m
Another reminder that I'm on Dreamwidth, here:

http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/

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flavius_m
More people leaving LJ for DW. And some probably will leave LJ and never quite make it to DW, not needing this livejournal thing of an app that is halfway between blogging and social networking. I hope enough of the people in my f-list do that the conversation may continue in a place different to Facebook, which had still happened in LJ in spite of the FB steamroller and the failure of all the FB alternatives from Diaspora to Ello.

This, btw, is crossposted to LJ from Dreamwidth.

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flavius_m
I'm not likely to move 100% and close this (a permanent) account on livejournal, but given the concerns that the new T&Cs are raising, I'll probably move more towards Dreamwidth. In case you don't know this, it uses the same engine as Livejournal, run by a few enthusiasts and not under the (possible) grip of the KGB (hello, you guys at the FSB, I did mention the KGB here. Nice of you to show an interest in my LJ). At the moment I'm mostly starting posts there and cross-posting to LJ. At some point, depending on things, the latter may stop. Some of my friends have already moved entirely or partially to DW, you might want to consider that.

My address at Dreamwidth, perhaps predictably:

http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/

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Current Location: flavland, kentish town, london uk
Current Music: the clash - should i stay or should i go

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flavius_m
Has anybody actually read the whole of the T&Cs for livejournal that those of us who still use it were presented with last night? Did I agree to some small print stipulating loyal and blind obedience to our Dear Beloved Czar Putin?

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flavius_m
Prelude No 7 in A by M M Ponce - @flaviomatani, guitar. A quick take at home of this, one of the 24 Ponce wrote for Segovia #guitar

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flavius_m
Dreams. Endless streams of parallel lives I never lived, outcomes of present and past situations, all glimpsed through that numinous mist, at the same time so fuzzy at the edges and so vividly bright. All the journeys I never made, the houses I never lived in, the people I never met, the solutions (so clear, so obvious) to problems I never knew were so pressing but which vanish on contact with the waking world.

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flavius_m
A slice of Moon over Kentish Town

Moon over Kentish Town, 14-03-17

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flavius_m
Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon&apos;s Children #1)Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Loved this book, a science fiction novel with a slightly unusual setting: a mid-term future in which Africa is one of the world powers and humanity conquers (and exploits commercially) a good chunk of the solar system. There are a few inconsistencies and loose ends but on the whole the story is solid, nd well told, the characters (at least the main personas) are believable. It does stretch at times your suspension of disbelief but this is something I often find in SF. The author admits that some of the 'science' he posits is made up but a lot of what this future brings is believable, apart from the political distribution of power, which looks mightily improbable from the point of view of this 2017 in which dark forces seem to get the upper hand in the world. I found it a very good, enjoyable story. And there are elephants, what more could you ask



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flavius_m
Another day, another early train to Watford. Sleepy. Woke up several times in the night, the second time escaping from a dream in which I was trying to escape... what was it, it was a version of the Evil dream, in which this all-powerful, all-encompassing entity, if it is an entity which is a sum of all evil (but is other things as well) is going to come, I will have to fight it and apparently win at first, to inevitably lose in the end. A lot of people were packed in a building with leaky roofs, praying and in terror while getting soaked from the dripping ceiling, we were outside and I had a glimpse of what was coming and was trying to persuade my sister that we (a small group of five or six) had to escape before it came. It was difficult, everybody in the group wanted to gather their things, wanted to go back to the house where most of our things were but there was no time to do that. I had a small car in which I couldn't fit all of our group, it wasn't clear whether we had another vehicle or whether the car would take us far away enough in time. I realised it wouldn't... and made myself wake up, annoyed because I only had six hours to sleep and had already wasted at least one when I'd woken up the first time. And at the same time, still frozen in dread from the dream.

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flavius_m
Played a couple of times in the last week and a bit; one was a little recital at the Café Rustique in Tufnell Park. This was the first time I'd played in public since the accident nearly a year ago, so I chose a short programme, about 40 min of music... but not the easy listening programme at all; played Bach's Chaconne from the violin Partita in D minor, a set of very short preludes by the Mexican composer Manuel M Ponce and 'Usher Waltz', a piece by the Russian composer Nikita Koshkin, after the horror story by Edgar A Poe, 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. There was a full house at the café... but that, I s'pose, is not that difficult as the place will be packed with 25 people in it.It seemed to go well and people didn't throw rocks at me so I reckon it wasn't too bad.

The second was a private gig. Again, I played that same programme, perhaps a bit heavy for a private party but I added a couple of shorter Spanish and Latin American pieces -it seemed to go down very well, again, the hosts turned out to be very nice people and were heaping praise on me so I'm pleased with that. In both cases the performance wasn't free of mistakes and, in one case at the café, an enormous memory lapse, but those things happen to everybody (except John Williams). Overall, I think both went well. Hope I can make a few more small gigs happen in the near future.

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flavius_m
Waking up at 4:15 when you have to get up at 5:20 is not all that much fun -mostly because you anticipate what the day will be like, running on four hours' sleep. Try to recover that hour of sleep by listening to Brian Greene doing a Ted Talk on why there are multiple -indeed, infinite, universes. That doesn't help much as it sets me on a train of thought about what energy can possibly be and about string theory and my almost non-existent mathematical foundation which means my understanding of any of those things can only ever be in prose. And so the alarm goes off and it is time for shower and coffee and yawning and checking email and collecting the things I'll need for my teaching day away, all the big thoughts of universes and elementary particles washed down the washbasin together with the odd dreams of houses and lives I've never lived in places I have never been to.

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flavius_m
Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the second time I read this, this time for the February meeting of Bibliogoth. Had forgotten quite a bit about it; I've learnt since that it was to have been a graphic novel, which makes sense -some of the characters, the action and the settings are almost in primary colours, low res comic book style. It works though. The main characters I find engaging and credible (if some of the action scenes a little less so and the names I found slightly annoying at first -Hirohito Protagonist?), the depiction of the internet as a virtual world wasn't that off the mark -and this was written in 1992, before the internet as we know it today became widespread, still in the time of connecting to BBSs using dial-up modems. I may have enjoyed it more this time round. I still prefer Anathem but I suspect I'm quite alone in this.



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flavius_m
A short excerpt from Koshkin's 'Usher Waltz', after the Edgar Allan Poe's story, 'Fall of the House of Usher'. I'll be playing this piece amongst others tomorrow (17-02-17) at this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/402596263407603/

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flavius_m
I must be one of the few people still using Google Plus. There are a few peeps there that are not on FB or LJ/DW; I also follow a few communities (mostly on classical guitar, science-fiction, pop science… I’m predictable like that). One of the feeds I read is that of NASA. It is nearly always interesting but I have to refrain from reading the comments. Why does NASA seem to get more than the usual share of crackpots, conspiracy theorists and just plain loonies? One interface detail I definitely don’t like about G+ is the way it shows a comment at a time, then the next one, in succession. This draws your eyes in and makes it difficult, at least for me, to avoid looking at the wacko comments by said crackpots, conspiracy theorists and loonies. There still are people around that believe that ‘all of it’ (space exploration, modern science, etc) is a hoax made up by the System to keep them subjugated. No idea how that is supposed to work but TBH I can’t be all that bothered to find out how a mind like that works.

Amongst several interesting feeds I follow there, one that stands out is Open Culture (they also have a web site here -just in case :)

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flavius_m
I keep thinking I'm 25. This is an error. I keep thinking that perhaps because I live pretty much the same life I was living then. But that was nearly forty years ago. I don't normally have to think about it that much -I go to parties and do all those things that some of my younger friends no longer do because they're too old for them at age thirty or thirty-five. I do find, however, that after two or three hours at those clubs I've had enough. I wonder whether this increases and you get to a point where at five minutes you've had enough and wish you were home, drinking cocoa and watching soaps or whatever it is that people my age do.

I keep thinking I'm 25, which is an error. I fall in love with a 27 year old woman -again, an error. Cannot happen. It might be even worse if it did (as it unfeasibly has, at some point) happen. Takes me a couple of years to get rid of the blues resulting from that, the 'guayabo'. I fall down with a flu and instead of two days it knocks me down for a couple of weeks and leaves me with a cough, a deadly tiredness and a feeling of end-of-the-world-approaching that last for weeks and weeks. The doctor at the surgery wiggles her finger up and down in admonition. Your blood pressure is a little high ('but it is within normal range', I protest), you should quit coffee (really?), salami (oh, ok) and cheese (Cheese?!? You mean, life without mozzarella or good parmiggiano?). People address you as 'sir'. Worse, your friends address you as 'sir'. Some people seem to expect sensible answers, advice, even. Unlikely -I've managed to learn very little and I haven't lived most of the things that make up adult life -the having children and family, etc. I see people my age around and can't help but see them as reactionary Daily Mail brexiters, supporters of all the meanness and small-mindedness that seems to be taking centre stage in the world once more. And, alas, they often are.

I keep thinking I'm 25 but then I look in the mirror in the morning and see this stranger that looks nothing like my self-image of me. Not that I have a great image of myself, just this clumsy spotty-face long-haired kid from the barrios in Caracas -but even if that is my true self it is possible that it lay buried under many layers of later lives.

Do I miss all the adult lives I never lived? No, not really. Not a bit. We all just make the best of the cards we're dealt. And so do I.

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flavius_m
That moment when the mac mini that holds all your stuff doesn't start. You push various combinations of buttons, nothing. You begin to think of how old the computer is, how it's been on 24/7 for four or five years, all the stuff you keep in it (but that is kind of secondary in that it is all backed up). Reset SMC. Nothing. Leave it till after I've had a shower and a first coffee. Then, unplug everything from the USB ports, press the button... and it starts. Phew.

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flavius_m


It's a soggy Monday morning, it's cold, it's raining, it _is_ a Monday, Trump still is president, Brexit still is on, but this might make it a little better for a few minutes:

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flavius_m
Strange times. But then maybe it always is strange times. Maybe the enemy is always at the gates, waiting for our guard to slip before pouncing on us. Watching the news is annoying and infuriating these days if you watch them on the BBC, terrifying and infuriating if you watch CNN or Al-Jazeera. Better switch to the Japanese NHK channel to see kawaii J-rock stuff, like eating fistfuls of sugar -but no, instead of cute these days they concentrate far more on the tensions in South East Asia and the movements of armies baring their teeth in that part of the world.

In my little corner of the world, it's not that bad for the moment, apart from fits of loneliness now and then; apart from this I tend to worry over more concrete things -getting the money together to pay the taxman, preparing a little programme for a short local recital in February, worrying over my broken wrist, my failing vision (more expenditures coming) and what I can do about the ongoing disaster of the terrible teeth that Mother Genetic supplied me with -even more, bigger expenditure. But all these are relatively minor things, with the potential to become major in the long run but fairly under control for the moment. On the plus side, I still have a fantastic social life with people I like, have good friends, health on the whole is not too bad. Why then do I feel like the world is about to implode and I'm dancing on the rim of a volcano about to erupt?

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flavius_m
Miss Peregrine&apos;s Home For Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine&apos;s Home For Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this. I don't think it was flawless, but I loved the story, its world and characters. The device of making the protagonists live in a time loop (or 'time slip' in the book) where they have to live (but not relive) the same day over and over is not new (yeah, Groundhog Day, etc) but I felt it was effective, even though there might be a few loose ends and maybe one continuity flaw -and the use of language (American & British English in the 1940's sometimes feels wrong and a few terms used are anachronisms, wouldn't have been in use at the time) grates a bit at times. But such a lovely story.

Loved the use of the old, black and white photographs. The author explains that the photos were actually at the origin of the story.

The only thing I'm finding ever so slightly annoying about this kind of story: Modern fantasy comes in threes. At the end of the book you're left on a 'fermata', a suspension point if not a cliffhanger, thenthey pimp the next instalment of the story and the film I didn't know had been made of the book. You know there's going to be a second book (they tell you and give you half of the first chapter) but from all the precedents, you also know there's going to be a third one... it's very worth a read, though; a lot of fun.

This book was the set reading for the Bibliogoth meeting for January 2017.



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flavius_m
Interregnum, again… the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year, a stop in the wilderness between stations. On a train, now, towards Greenwich –perhaps appropriate, to the place where someone decided the hemispheres of the planet split. Something ends, something begins, nothing changes that much.

Is something really ending, something really beginning? Maybe, to an extent at least. We make up these things and we make up their importance but perhaps if it is important for us it is, after all, important.

We make it up, decide that a particular point in the turning of the planet around the sun is the beginning of the year. The year that ends now won’t end the griefs and the fears that came with it –but we do hope that it will be different. Maybe it will, maybe it will, we say and look up at what may come, expectantly.

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flavius_m
Rainbow&apos;s EndRainbow's End by Vernor Vinge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Overall I liked this near-future story, although I did feel the characterisation was far from perfect and I had difficulty connecting to many of the characters, who often felt (to me) less like 'real' human beings and more like plot devices.

The story has a long build-up time, setting up the world and the characters in it, before things actually happen. In this sense it reminded me of some works by Neal Stephenson, although I didn't feel it was quite as successful as Stephenson in its world-building but the world itself, with its many layers of augmented reality, feels like only a small exaggeration of current trends. One of the ways I feel this is the case is the 'belief circles', where people choose what they will believe in and their virtual world will reinforce this view and discard all others, regardless of any evidence on the contrary in the 'real' world. Now, why does this ring some sort of familiar bell in this post-fact world...



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flavius_m
Trying to take week-ends more sedately as the previous one, plus the two very busy Monday and Tuesday that ensued, left me feeling, by Wednesday, that I was just about to die. I should find another slot for that rather challenging Sunday morning lesson. Take back control of my week-ends.. er, no, maybe not that, not like that. See what 'taking back control' seems to do to people and countries. What a mess.

Will be missing New Model Army and a whole lot of other stuff happening this season. Force majeure. Last week-end I missed Reptile... went to see my friends of Heel play a gig as part of the Camden Rocks festival as I hadn't seen them play for a very long time (but, alas, that meant missing a gig by other friends -everything seems to happen at the same time these days), on the way out I was feeling a bit off and thought, given those two Sunday lessons, of which one is the most challenging I've got, that it would be quite unwise to go clubbing that night. I think it was the better decision. I do worry that as time goes by this (stopping doing things I want to do and enjoy) may be a more frequent occurrence -I s'pose it is a fact of life, but I won't go down quietly...

I did go to a club on Friday night, Retromancy at the basement of the Albany pub in Great Portland Street. Danced quite a bit, caught up with some friends I'd not seen for quite a while... so I didn't just lie low the whole week-end. There also was the Bibliogoth meeting on Sunday, which might merit a post of its own. bibliogoth[Unknown LJ tag]

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