Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Art Of Not Writing Songs

Over near my sofa, lies my guitar (not Jen's guitar). It's still in the case, because I hardly have time to play anymore. But I've been writing songs for years! Basically I would write a song or a snippet of a song, then forget it , then try to remember a little bit later on. This was frustrating because I would often lose some great music that I had written. (I once wrote the song "Billie Jean", but clearly Michael Jackson stole it, like he clearly stole some other songs.)

But then one day I had some writing utensils (not like
these that you can eat with), and jotted some notes down. Months later, I actually remembered it from my written chords and lyrics. Normally my bouts of inspiration are random, so whether a song gets remembered is based on whether I can write it down and whether I am feeling lazy. I've got about 4.2 songs written towards my eventual album (one of my goals). Of course Jackson will just steal it anyway. So I always try to have pen and paper on hand... I eventually also figured out I should keep these inside the guitar case!

Earlier in my life, when I was a music student in
high school, I thought that writing music that people liked was 90% the music and 5% the lyrics and 5% the person listening to it. Those numbers have constantly been changing, but now I feel its more like 25% style, 40% honesty, 20% confidence and 12% subtlety. (Numbers do not add to 100% due to rounding!). I also think its more important for music to have meaning than for it to be liked by others (okay, I'm about 65% purist and 41% populist).

If you had to put a formula to good music ingredients, what would it be??

Daniel [Music_]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

How Long, How Soon, How Blog

Reflecting on my brand new blog, I've wondered about the best length and frequency of blog entries. I realised that it must depend on the goals of the blog and on the subject. So I wrote down the goals of this blog so that I at least eventually figure out why I'm doing it.
  • Historical record of thoughts and events (who will care in 3 years anyway?)
  • Keep friends and family informed (they complain i'm hard to track)
  • Hear people's comments and reactions (if anyone responds!)
  • Feel popular (even if I'm not)
  • Make my life more organised (as though my life isn't organised enough, umm...)
  • Help me accomplish life goals (my list of goals is already too long)
  • Tell people cool things, and generate discussion (that's why I link to stuff)
  • Link to cool things and inspire or inform others (that's why you click the links... click already!)

Why do/would YOU maintain a blog? What is the ideal length of a blog entry? What is a good frequency a blog should be updated at? Some of you out there are really experienced... tell me about what you've learned!


Thursday, September 22, 2005

How To Hate Being Sick

I suppose I don't have much to complain about because I don't get sick very often. I mean, I have steadily worsening allergies to cats, and I have often been categorised as a klutz. True, I haven't broken any bones yet (its been close) but I have chipped my front tooth about 7 or 8 times in the same place (much to Dr. Chiu, my dentist's dismay) -- guess which tooth it is, the #8 on my left or the #9 on my right, according the the Universal Numbering System for teeth -- and I have had a series of funny but painful soccer injuries.

But, normally when I get sick, I just feel a little under the weather and usually can still handle life. Its pretty rare for me to cancel plans or miss work. Well, I woke up yesterday with a sore throat pretending to myself that I'm not about to be sick. By the end of the day, I was experiencing high fever and severe headaches and general aching all over my body. While at work during the day, I found out that you have to walk about a kilometer just to find the Medical Bay, because our plant is so huge. I mean, I just wanted cough drops! So anyway, I think it is the flu and hopefully not the killer flu. It was bad enough that I actually took the day off work putting off a very important project. Pretty much the only thing I have enough energy to do right now is make a blog entry, although, surprisingly, this is taking more effort than it should. Mercifully, its nearly done. I'm hoping to feel better by tomorrow, which incidentally is Saudi Arabia's 75th National Day, as I'm supposed to have a couple of friends over. Wish me luck, I'm going to bed. Well, after I do my laundry.

Daniel [Life_][Health_]

Sunday, September 18, 2005

All In Two Days' Work

I woke up at 4pm for once. That's a little abnormal for me, especially when you take into account the fact that I had been sleeping for 14 hours straight. It goes back a couple of days.

Friday - The subtle art of negotiations.

  • 13:00 Negotiations - Don't accept a pay cut.
    My job has asked big changes of me soon. I had to get a car and a place of my own and move. This change was not going to be fun, so I had decided to leave my job. It just wouldn't be worth it. This brought on negotiation talks. As initial talks on Tuesday went a good 270 minutes in Windsor at the Chatham St. Grill, I expected no less for the second round at the company headquarters. So it turns out it took 4 hours again. I got what I call a fair settlement, in which both parties compromised. So I will keep my job in Michigan and move to Windsor. For now.
  • 20:00 Happy Birthday
    When I finally got back, my friend Shanna who I met at swing dancing invited me to her friend's birthday at the Ann Arbor Brewing Company. I had to eat anyway, so I drove to the place and had food and fun. Then I came back to my "home" and crashed into my pillow at about 3am, knowing that I would have to get up in only 4 hours. Read on to find out why.
Saturday - No rest for the busy:

  • 07:45 Habitat Landscaping
    After less than 4 hours sleep each night this week, I woke up at 7am as I'm in a group of people from my church in Ann Arbor and who volunteered for Habitat For Humanity Michigan, a great charity, in Jackson, Michigan, about 40 minutes away. We took a yard with a pile of mud and rubble, and created a really nice garden complete with stepping stones and borders and proper drainage. I'm good with a pick-axe! It was really satisfying, and I was amazed at what we did with the Jackson city chapter. I'll get a picture out later.
  • 15:00 Choir Rehearsal
    After getting back, I sped away to play piano for a choir rehearsal from 3-5, which I was late for. This was embarrassing, since some of the people who were working with me earlier were on time. Anyway, they have a wonderful Yamaha piano that I just love playing. Its pretty close, but I think the newer Grebel chapel piano is better.
  • 17:00 Church
    We then provided music for Saturday mass at 5pm (Donny once called Saturday mass the Catholic Church's greatest innovation). The sermon was based on the servant who was forgiven his debt and refused to forgive the debt of someone else.
  • 18:00 Confession
    I regularly talk with a familiar priest about my spiritual life. This particular talk was excellent, and although it felt like 45 minutes, actually lasted 90 minutes. When I was younger, I thought "confession" was about listing your "sins" and receiving "absolution". But more and more I am finding its simply about being honest within yourself and with God, and becoming free to trust that God is with you, and that if you live out of love, and not selfishness then you're going in the right direction. I'm amazed how it helps in feeling the freedom that you have to be responsible for your actions.
  • 20:00 The Symphony and the Schmooze
    I then received a call from a friend of mine Becky Walsh, Director of Programming for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She had a ticket to the premiere performance this year that she told me about earlier, and her husband could not be there. I jumped at the chance, sped home, put on my suit and tie, and rushed out to meet her at 8pm. We had a great time listening to live music! I then went to the after-party and schmoozed with important people in the city and even with the conductor, Arie Lipsky! And they even gave us food!
  • 26:00 Sleep
    By the time I got back in to bed, it was 2am. You can see why I needed 14 hours (about par for a 6- to 12-month old baby). My average for the week is now 5 hours per night.

I am feeling a little rested now, but really really hungry seeing how long it took to post this. Time to get some 9pm breakfast!

Daniel [Life_]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What Country Did I Just Wake Up In?

So after many months and years of resisting the Blog bandwagon, I've finally been convinced by my good friend Elizabeth in B.C., who incidentally, I've never met. Yet. Nonetheless, I could go on to give you a really controversial blog entry, but just the standard "What side of the Earth did I fall off?" catch-up blog entry will have to do. Your name might be in it!

  • Got a degree at the University of Waterloo
  • Met some people, played some music, got really really scary good at original NES Tetris with Donny
  • Got a job at GM, did lots of travelling on the company tab (Japan, Europe and U.S.A mostly), and now have over 20 stamps on my passport (yes I'm still a citizen in my home country for those who have questioned my allegiance to Canada)
  • Told some jokes, got paid some more, two ski trips to Vermont
  • Started being in Ann Arbor, Michigan a lot somewhere along the line (its a lot like Toronto!), John and Marika visited me here, too.

Over the course of the last couple of years, I'd have to say I've definitely furthered my goals. If you don't have goals, get some - they're highly underrated! Here's a smattering of things I have done, in the field of accomplishing goals and doing significant things in life, which I'm a big fan of:

  • Increased my nationage ratio to 15/26 or roughly 58 percent thanks to Italy this year! This is calculated by dividing the number of countries you've visited in the world by your age. My goal is to reach 100 percent at some point in my life, so it gets harder every year you wait. I need to tour Africa I think.
  • Learned to speak German. Actually I can do pretty well conversationally, if you don't believe in grammar. Probierst mich! Jen, you will not believe it until you hear it (and welcome back)!
  • Learned to swing dance. I've been doing that at the University of Michigan for several months, on and off, when I'm not overseas. I'm getting pretty good. And its a great place for women to meet me. If they're lucky I call them back.
  • Was the best man at John's wedding. Being a best man is a tough responsibility, but also its very rewarding, and it was a significant experience in my life, and truly an honour. I get to be best man again soon at Alan's wedding, and if there's one thing I learned, its to just do it from the heart and everything will go well (no, not my brother Alan, who wrote this hilarious article)
  • Got my masters degree! Actually, I didn't but I feel like I did. I assisted Pearl with programming expertise for her mounds of statistical data in respiratory rehabilition trials at the University of Toronto. I am now officially a VBA tutor, sort of.
  • Joined a jazz quartet in Michigan that didn't have a pianist. This was the most rewarding musical development in Jazz I've ever had. Too bad our quartet just broke up last month when we lost our drummer... so much for the CD (I do have mp3s though). Well, we might have a reunion recording session I hope. It was awesome playing anyway. If you play jazz, get the Real Book -- its quality!

So, I've been pretty busy... and from the whole travelling-for-2-years-straight-with-no-vacation thing, I'm pretty tired, so I'm going to sleep! Why not give the comment function a whirl, and make my blogging experience that much more enjoyable!

Daniel [Life_]