Friday, December 23, 2011

GPP 098: Countdown to the Solstice (-1 Days to Go) MONO

After some casting about for topics we talk about a few books including Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, Terry Pratchett's Snuff, and Barry Hughart's The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox. Technical note: I'm having some trouble with my audio recorder. In the previous recording, there was distortion on both channels. On this recording, it seems to be limited to the right channel, so I was able to work around it by making this a mono recording, taken from just the left channel.

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GPP 097: Countdown to the Solstice (No Days to Go)

The shortest day is here! Technical note: I'm having some trouble with my audio recorder, which just started with today's recording. There is some distortion happening. My apologies; it was a complete surprise, and I haven't yet been able to figure out what is wrong or what it might take to get it repaired.

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GPP 096: Countdown to the Solstice (1 Day to Go)

An early drive down to Ann Arbor for some follow-up medical care for Grace, and then a long chat on the drive back.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GPP 095: Countdown to the Solstice (2 Days to Go)

An ordinary walk with no topic planned turns into an extended discussion about our respective positions on abortion.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

GPP 094: Countdown to the Solstice (3 Days to Go)

We're almost there! Joshua accompanies us for another walk around the neighborhood, to our regret.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

GPP 093: Countdown to the Solstice (4 Days to Go)

In which we host a pre- and post-caroling party, and I take the recorder with me with a group from the Adams Boulevard Neighborhood Association.

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I changed up the Ozone plug-in settings in this one to emphasize the stereo image rather than centering the dialog as I did for the last few. I'm not sure if anyone will notice the change, but I think I like this setting better. It produces a more vivid stereo image when listening on headphones. I'm also using a 320K bit rate for this particular episode to try to preserve the image of the singing a little more clearly.

I continue to be very glad that my recorder is a Sony PCM D-1. I dropped it on the floor tonight and it came through completely unscathed and sounds fine. Here's a reference to one that was bitten by a hyena. I mention in the audio "we'll see how it sounds to drop the recorder on the floor" but in fact the recorder did not actually capture that moment. This makes sense when you consider that audio is buffered and there is latency between the moment the audio is picked up by the microphones and the moment the samples of that audio are written to the flash memory. When it hit the floor, it crashed before that audio was stored.

After eating a couple more of the extremely fresh roasted chestnuts I decided that I actually really liked them and wound up eating at least a dozen... here's a method for roasting them. The first one was a little disconcerting because I wasn't expecting them to be soft, chewy, and even savory, with a meaty, slightly umami-like flavor. Isaac described them as tasting a bit like roast chicken, but he couldn't get into them. Once I got used to the flavor I found them delicious, a true natural delicacy that reminds me of some my favorite meaty-tasting black Chinese mushrooms. We'll have to try another batch!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

GPP 092: Countdown to the Solstice (5 Days to Go)

In which we take you around our neighborhood for a sort of audio tour of some homes.

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The term I was looking for is "Rocket Mass Heater."

GPP 091 - Countdown to the Solstice (6 Days to Go)

Cookies, Christmas ornaments, a new song in progress, and Christopher Hitchens. Also, the sadly crippled Kwanzebra, Kweezna.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

GPP 090: Countdown to the Solstice (7 Days to Go)

Paul blathers about rarity schemes and the psychology of collecting collectible card games, and Grace expounds about invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer.

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GPP 089: Baby Five, Part 5 (Conclusion) (Audio from 30 April 2011)

Driving with Veronica, back down to pick up Grace and the new baby.

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GPP 088: Baby Five, Part 4 (Audio from 29 April 2011)

Another long night begins in the Family Birthing Center.

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GPP 087: Baby Five, Part 3 (Audio from 28 April 2011)

Crawling along on a spare tire with a very pregnant wife, and then on a flat spare with a very pregnant wife whose water is broken, and a bleeding gash on my scalp. Fun times.

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GPP 086: Baby Five, Part 2 (Audio from 27 April 2011)

Paul fires his psychiatrist and drives home in a rainstorm.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No "8 Days to Go" Episode in the Countdown to the Solstice Series

I did have a conversation with Grace on that day, but it was in the evening, in a waiting room at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, as she waited to have another round of imaging. It will probably show up eventually as part of the Gallbladder Season sequence. I don't think we recorded a conversation earlier in the day but I suppose it is possible and I accidentally lost it.

GPP 085: Countdown to the Solstice (9 Days to Go)

Marching triumphantly under overcast skies, stopping only to contemplate the problems with vinyl siding.

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GPP 084: Countdown to the Solstice (10 Days to Go)

Love will keep us together.

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GPP 083: Baby Five, Part 1 (Audio from 20 April 2011)

Paul talking to himself on April 20th of this past year, a few days before the birth of baby 5. A series of field recordings about the usual complications of living: Grace's health issues near the end of her pregnancy, gripes about banks and credit unions, buying a few things at Meijer for our Passover Seder, blather about the Harry Potter movies, especially number 3, meandering thoughts about the extra cost of living and maintaining our home, an unexpected bit of religious education, and one final surprise to liven up the day.

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GPP 082: Countdown to the Solstice (11 Days to Go)

Paul in full Seasonal Affective Disorder Anxiety Depression Freak-out, because he loves to over-share.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

GPP 081: Veronica's Seventh Birthday

Three years ago I had an interview with Veronica (episode 3) that was just delightful. This was an attempt to follow up with that chat with some unfortunately all-too-rare "just Dad and daughter" time. We'll have to try again in a setting where she can express herself a little more -- perhaps another walk, although County Farm Park in Ann Arbor is now now a long way away.

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GPP 080: Gallbladder Season, Part 6 of 4

Grace and I talk in our bedroom about her health issues. I also wind up on a digression about a recent musical collaboration with JoAnn Abbott, our cover of Paul and Storm's song "More than Two."

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GPP 079: Gallbladder Season, Part 5 of 4

I was imagining that the Gallbladder Season chats would be done with part 4, but Grace's medical issues continue to linger, so we're in gallbladder overtime, and will not soon be completely resolved.

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GPP 078: The Race Talk, Part 1 of N

I've been wanting for a long time to get Grace engaged in a talk about race. This is a sort of opener, in which we talk about segregation, schools, and a bit about being a bi-racial couple. I'm calling this "Part 1 of N" because I'm hoping to have some related follow-on conversations, perhaps with other people in the mix, and I have no idea how many parts might eventually be involved.

I'm using a new preamp that allows me to record with a pair of tiny clip-on microphones instead of the recorder's built-in microphones. The idea is that our voices should easier to hear over the ambient audio, as the microphones are closer to our mouths. But in this case we were still in a moderately noisy pub, so there is a lot of background sound, and just EQ'ing the audio to emphasize our voices doesn't really help much. After the first few minutes it gets a little less noisy, although the eighties music continues painfully unabated.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

GPP 077: Asparagus and Pizza (Chatting with Sean Hurley 04 November 2011)

I caught up with storyteller Sean Hurley for a slightly meandering chat.

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Show links: Sean has released the first part of his young adult fantasy novel The Rule Book and Calendar of Kittery Embers as an eBook. See Sean's blog entry about the Kittery Embers eBook. Sean has available a few more sets of his six-CD limited edition series, comprising episodes 40-45 of Atoms, Motion and the Void. You can get in touch with him to purchase a set.

Monday, October 31, 2011

GPP 076: A Conversation with Denise Hudson

My chat with Denise, annotated with bits and pieces of (mostly) Denise's music.

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These are the songs I include bits and pieces of:

Duality - Something Very Horrible (Bluebeard's Lament) (First Tweaked Version)

Denise Hudson - The Travis Norris Watermelon Challenge Classic

Denise Hudson - Anna's Gerbil and the Singularity

Common Lisp - War Criminal

Denise Hudson - A piece of Denise's unreleased Rhodes piano part from a rough draft of my song Peabody's Lament

Denise Hudson - Spanish Lessons

Denise Hudson - Invisible Girl

Common Lisp - Leaving Ann Arbor

Denise Hudson - Piranha Dance

Denise Hudson - Blue

Duality - Taco Trials Take 2 (Time for Tacos)

Note that "Piranha Dance" (I stuck a bit of this song in the podcast) is not the "rap about a Piranha" Denise spoke about. UPDATE: the rap is called "First Blood" and you can find it here: (Note that there are two versions. Thanks to Denise, Emperor Gum, and Noah McLaughlin for the info, and sorry I don't check comments more often!)

Denise's blog --

Her Bandcamp page --

On YouTube:

On Twitter:

Friday, October 21, 2011

GPP 075: Phillip Blond's Radical Conservatism, Part 4

The Q&A portion of Phillip Blond's talk at MSU.

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GPP 074: Phillip Blond's Radical Conservative Vision, Part 3

The formal talk at MSU by Phillip Blond, entitled "The Broken Society vs. the Big Society." It may be hard to follow without the PowerPoint slides; I'll see if I can provide a link to a video version if one becomes available.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GPP 073: Phillip Blond's Radical Conservative Vision, Part 2

Part 2 is the conclusion of the informal chat. This piece is shorter, at about 20 minutes.

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GPP 072: Phillip Blond's Radical Conservative Vision, Part 1

Grace and I were fortunate enough to hear Philip Blond speak at Michigan State University on Monday, 17 October 2011. We were able to spend a large part of the day with him, both in a small table discussion and a larger talk before students in an auditorium setting. This is part one of an informal press conference he had with a small group; I captured it with his permission. The conversation with Blond is preceded by a conversation Grace and I recorded while driving back to Saginaw that evening, which I have included as a sort of introduction. Phillip Blond's Q&A starts at the 18 minute mark, if you'd prefer to skip ahead.

Unfortunately I did not get my recorder set up in time to capture his initial comments, which comprised his reaction to a quick driving tour around Detroit, although some of his response is mentioned in the "urban homesteading" idea he brings up later. I am ending this part at the point where I had to change the batteries in my recorder; I'll pick it up in part two. Mind the gap. Fortunately, it was only a moment or two.

Part One MP3 File

Part Two MP3 File

Part Three MP3 File

Part Four MP3 File

In the introductory segment, Grace and I talk about minimum wage. I think at my first part-time landscaping job, when I was 13 or 14, I may have earned $3.10/hr, which was raised to $3.35. See this table of historic federal minimum wages.

Note that current minimum wage is $7.25, so the hypothetical $7/hr job we discussed must have been $7.25. It is a minimum-wage job; in real wages, and relative to the poverty line, this is actually less than it was in 1981; see this chart.

GPP 071: Splitting Wood

In which I split firewood in my backyard, sing to myself, listen to the kids, and talk a little bit about the emerald ash borer.

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Update: I've shot some video and adapted this little piece into a video on Vimeo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

GPP 070: Gallbladder Season, Part 4

The aftermath. It seems to finally be over, except for the rest of the fall Grace will need to spend recuperating.

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GPP 069: Gallbladder Season, Part 3

Grace is released from the hospital. Includes Paul's complete "Gallbladder Season" essay.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GPP 068: Gallbladder Season, Part 2

Ten days in the hospital and one near-death experience later, Grace receives a blood transfusion.

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GPP 067: Gallbladder Season, Part 1

Grace and Paul get some rare time off to talk. Grace has been experiencing gallbladder problems and things are starting to get complicated.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

GPP 066: America (While There's Still Some Left)

Paul goes on a rant to Grace about the S&P credit rating downgrade, the debt ceiling, what money is and what it is for, why people who believe that government is the problem shouldn't be allowed to run the government, and why the GOP and Tea Party pundits are frothing mad over exactly the wrong things.

Note: contains salty language.

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Show Notes:

The "3 Billy Goats" Colbert Report episode (the single best explanation I've seen of Obama's relationship with the Republican-controlled House).

The Dodd-Frank Act bit on The Daily Show (the sorry state of our consumer financial services "reform") -- starts at about 5:13

Related Reading:

Crash Course Chapter 7: Money Creation

REPORT: S&P to downgrade U.S. credit, will cite GOP refusal to raise taxes.

Ron Paul, Tea Partiers, and Congress: Did They Want S&P Downgrade? Is That Treason?

Nuts and Dolts » Tea Party Led Republican Party Kills Its Hostage - A P2Blogs Partner Site

John Boehner reflects on debt ceiling debate | The State Column

Downgraded US Credit Rating: What comes of Coddling the Super-Rich | Informed Comment

A timeline of events

The tea party just cost you $322 | slacktivist

FreakOutNation » Poll Concludes 84% Disapprove of Tea Party-led House After Debt Ceiling Deal

AMERICAN FUTURE » Blog Archive » Republican Dissembling

Daily Kos: I’ll never vote Republican again

Glenn Greenwald: The myth of Obama's "blunders" and "weakness"

Assessing The GOP Controlled House: Where Are The Jobs?

Candidates Give Obama an F for AA+ Rating

"Every time we've cut the capital gains tax, the economy has grown. Whenever we raise the capital gains tax, it's been damaged."

"President Reagan did it (raised the debt ceiling) 18 times. George W. Bush did it seven times."

"When the Republicans were in charge, they actually expanded government health care with the prescription drug program."

"Social Security didn’t cause the debt crisis. Social Security had nothing to do with the debt crisis."

"There's no money in Social Security."

"Social Security doesn’t contribute a penny to the deficit."

"Fifty-one percent -- that is, a majority of American households -- paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada."

"If the debt ceiling is surpassed, our nation will not go into default as some suggest."

"Harry Reid’s plan is basically giving the president a blank check."

Super Congress: the final nail in the coffin of representative democracy and freedom as we know it

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

GPP 065: Isaac's Indian Feast, Part 2

Isaac and I continue to cook and talk, wandering into topics like the last Harry Potter movie, Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and

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GPP 064: Isaac's Indian Feast, Part 1

For his 17th birthday Isaac came back home for a long weekend and asked me to help him put together an Indian meal for his friends. In this episode he and I work on preparing this epic meal and talk about his summer job, mathematics, The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, Hare Krishna cuisine, and the joys of clarified butter.

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GPP 063: Cast Iron Wielder (Audio from 13 April 2011)

In which I cook breakfast and talk about Stephen R. Donaldson a little bit.

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I have a backlog of audio files from February, March, and April. I have been going through a sort of triage process in which I listen to these and determine which ones, if any, to go ahead and turn into podcast episodes. The recent episodes that specify a date for the audio are part of this backlog. Episodes that don't specify a date were probably recorded within a few days of their release date.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

GPP 062: Driving Into the New Sun

In which I talk about Gene Wolfe's enigmatic long novel The Book of the New Sun, and why it is one of the few science fiction novels worth studying in depth.

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GPP 061: The Valentine's Day Wiper Fluid Massacre

Audio from 11 February 2011.

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GPP 060: Sick of Winter

Audio from 11 February 2011.

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GPP 059: Stuffing our Faces and Coughing Up Crumbs

Audio from 05 February 2011.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GPP 058: Winter in July

Audio from 12 December 2010.

Try to remember the kind of December... this is a long series of chats Grace and I recorded on a snowy day last December. Grace and I talk about health care, President Lieberman, Protector Maximus Petraeus, Mr. Horton's dining establishment, fingerpicking, and brussels sprouts. The audio unfortunately ends rather abruptly as my recorder runs out of battery power. Or perhaps by that point you'll cheer when it finally ends...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GPP 057: Minivans and Spaceships

Recorded the day after our minivan transmission melted down, Paul rants for a while about the car situation (edited down) and Isaac's school options before settling down to talk briefly about some of his favorite contemporary science fiction writers.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

GPP 056: Children and Other Noisy Things

Bits and pieces of audio files recorded over the past year or so. Listen on headphones for best results.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

GPP 055: A Conversation with Joe "Covenant" Lamb (Recorded 30 March 2011)

This one is out of sequence. I had this conversation with Joe Back in March, when it was going to be episode 40. When Joe sent me his side of the audio we discovered that it was full of dropouts; his audio had dozens of short dropouts so that his side sounded at times like someone rapidly spinning a radio dial, and as a result over the course of the interview his side became several minutes out of sync with my side. That was frustrating and I thought the conversation was likely a lost cause, but I set it aside to try to salvage when I had time.

I have a 3-day weekend for the Fourth of July holiday, so an all-nighter seemed feasible. I listened some more and determined that the glitches mostly came in bursts, and that there were long stretches of usable audio. Six hours of tedious editing later, I have most of our conversation put back together. You may notice the timing of our interactions here and there is a little bit off, and that Joe seems to go silent for an extended period of time once in a while, or that occasionally his audio glitches. Now you understand why. I did what I could, and I'm glad I could save most of it.

Length note: even with a few minutes lost, this interview is two and a half hours long!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GPP 054: Regarding a Car

In which Grace and I talk about our unfortunately unreliably Honda Odyssey and the perils of trying to spend more to get a more reliable car.

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GPP 053: A Conversation with Meredith Matthews

Ms. Matthews is a kindred spirit in that she has a lifelong fascination with audio. She produces the Braindouche podcast. Unlike most of my online friend and fellow podcasters, I've actually met Mer and her partner Dani in person. They are, both of them, all kinds of awesome. We had only a short visit to their home in Pottstown but we sang Jonathan Coulton songs while I played the guitar, our kids ran around their yard, and it was great fun.

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Show notes: Ms. Matthews has a new album of ambient music; information here. She does web development; information here. She has recommended to me a program called Ambient. I will endeavor to find links to her other blogs and music tools as soon as I can.

Friday, June 24, 2011

GPP 052: Catching Up with Sean Hurley

In which Sean and I have another extended chat, this time a bit more relaxed. We talk about Sean's second play, getting feedback, my new song, how to make songs, singing, Stargate Universe, and lots of other stuff.

Warning: it's long. Almost two hours!

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Oh yeah, my song that he and I spoke about. Here it is on BandCamp. There's also a video on Vimeo.

There isn't a video for Sean's play _Listen, Pray, Make Room_ or I'd link to it, but Sean's feed of current stuff is here. You can subscribe to the almost-complete subscription-only project he's producing now and get access to the whole Atoms, Motion and the Void episodes 40-45 and all the associated songs and audio bits and pieces -- take a look at this.

More show notes later...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

GPP 051: SpinTunes Epic Fail

In which I apologize for my failure to get a song recorded for SpinTunes 3 Round 1.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

GPP 050: ...and So Begins Year Two

I recorded a chat on Friday morning with Grace to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the day that I moved into our home in Saginaw. The subject is mostly our children, although there are some rambling digressions as usual.

On Friday, May 29th, 2010 I loaded our minivan with a sleeping bag, a few computers, several guitars, my scotch whisky and wine bottles, some large plants, and a few other fragile "hand-carry" items, and drove up to the new house to meet the cable installers. I got completely lost; the Google map I had printed out was essentially useless, since several streets on the route it provided were closed for construction, and I did not have a good map of the neighborhood, but eventually I found the house by blundering around in the approximate neighborhood until things looked familiar. The cable modem was set up and I got Internet access and started my work-from-home arrangement Monday, June 1st. I had lived in Ann Arbor since June of 1990, making it almost 20 years to the day since moving to Ann Arbor with my friend John Scudder -- the longest that I had lived anywhere.

Grace continued to live in our apartment in Ann Arbor for the month of June to continue packing and getting ready for the move; I made many round trips back to Ann Arbor that month. She arrived with the children at the end of June; she had lived in Ann Arbor for 15 years.

Isaac stayed in Ann Arbor through July to finish up some summer classes and he arrived a month later; he had lived in Ann Arbor since he was an infant. And of course the younger children, Veronica, Sam, and Joshua, had lived there for their entire lives to date.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

GPP 049: Sleepless in Saginaw

In which Paul recounts a busy week and the difficulties of finding the right medications and the right doctor. Includes an outdoor ramble recorded in Ann Arbor.

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Show Notes: the toxic compound released by Gelman Sciences was actually dioxane, not dioxin. Here's a Wiki page with a lot more information about the issue for those interested.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

GPP 048: Enough with the Drama Already

Paul and Grace recorded in the lead-up to the birth of the new baby. Way too much driving, way too many blown tires, and way too many bleeding gashes on my scalp, but just the right number of new babies.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

GPP 047: Glass Half-Something

Grace and Paul chat about the last week, which has proven that they live in interesting times, recounting a week of illness, car crashes, bank problems, emergency room visits, and other vicissitudes of modern life.

The picture is of Paul with Veronica and Sam, taken in early 2007 when the heat was out in our apartment and Paul was developing what turned out to be an extremely painful case of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (a shingles infection involving the eye). Here he is this past week:

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

GPP 046: Reagan's Eighth Term

An informal panel discussion on the presidency.

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GPP 045: Guns, with Occasional Murders

On the way back from dropping Isaac off at school, Paul records another brief monologue, in which he remembers the murdered Sean Stennett.

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Sean's obituary. Sean and I share a birthday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

GPP 044: Your Brain on Caffeine

On the way back from dropping Isaac off at school, Paul records a chat and some ambient audio. This podcast makes some kind of an argument about ambient audio. I'll leave it to you to decide whether it is an argument for, or against.

This episode is best heard on headphones.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

GPP 043: Accounting for Taste

Paul and Grace talk about their own theories of aesthetics, and what they admire and value in art.

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Show Notes:

We mention Wild Things, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

I mention Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien, although I could not remember the title accurately.

I mention James Fallows' essay on the crash of Egypt Air Flight 990.

I'm always confusing William Langewiesche with James Fallows; it was Langewiesche who wrote the 3-part essay in the Atlantic, Unbuilding the World Trade Center. This material was later adapted into book form in American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.

This is the 826 Valencia writing program I was trying to recall. This is the Ann Arbor Chapter. The Ann Arbor chapter's storefront is dressed up as a robot supply store, while the San Francisco chapter is fronted by a pirate supply store.

The definitive documentary about Daniel Johnston is The Devil and Daniel Johnston. I described Johnston as suffering from schizophrenia, although Wikipedia suggests bipolar disorder.

This is Daniel Johnston singing his song True Love Will Find You in the End. Here is Beck's Cover. Here is Wilco's Cover. Here is a Mates of State cover. There are plenty of others. Here is a link to a gallery that sells some of Johnston's artwork.

John Hodgman's essay can be found in More Information Than You Require under the title "How to be a Famous Minor Television Personality." A version of this essay appeared on This American Life.

Regarding Neon Genesis: Evangelion: it has been some time since I saw the original series; I can't recall for certain, but it seems likely that I watched the Perfect collection on VHS tapes. My interpretation of the ending, that the team ran out of money and assembled the final episode from outtakes and rough drafts, may not be correct; the ending may be as planned, scripted and intended. I may have gotten this idea from a friend of mine. But the ending is still controversial. Wikipedia describes the end of the storyline thusly:
In the last two episodes (the second set in 2016), Gendo and Rei initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, forcing several characters (especially Shinji) to face their doubts and fears and examine their self-worth, with sequences that "suggest animated schizophrenia" This ending was made up of flashbacks, sketchy artwork, and flashing text "over a montage of bleak visuals, that include black and white photos of desolate urban motifs such as a riderless bicycle or vacant park benches interspersed with graphic stills of the devastated Nerv headquarters in which Shinji's colleagues are seen as bloodstained bodies", and a brief interlude depicting an "alternate" Evangelion universe with the same characters but apparently in the high school comedy genre, eventually seems to depict Shinji concluding that life could be worth living and that he did not need to pilot an Eva to justify his existence; he is then surrounded by most of the cast, clapping and congratulating him. The introduction implies that this same process took place for everyone.
A more comprehensible ending to the series was created as the separate movie The End of Evangelion; I can't recall if I ever saw that. It probably says something about the series that twelve or thirteen years after watching the whole series I can remember very little about it except a few beautiful images, the sound of cicadas, and the baffling montages in the ending.

I was not able to quickly find the "trash artist" Grace might be referring to.

GPP 042: Building the Ark Debrief

In the car again, Grace and I talk about the Building the Ark program and the projects that are spinning out of it, and various other topics around urban gardening and sustainability.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

GPP 041: Three Short Sketches

I don't get a lot of time to work on my own original fiction, poetry, or music, but here is a small creative project. Each piece is one page long. Piece 1 started out as a blank page and a calligraphy pen while Isaac took a Hapkido lesson and I stared out the window at wet snow dumping onto Saginaw yet again. I had no idea where it was going when I began, and did not edit or correct it in any way as I went along. Piece 2 started out life in an e-mail message I wrote to Sean Hurley during a lunch break while at the Ann Arbor office of my employer; I made only a few minor changes when I transcribed it onto the page. Piece 3 was again written in one draft with the calligraphy pen, although with this one I had a vague idea of the concept at the outset. They have no titles.

Coincidentally, 41 is also about the number of minutes I was able to put into actually recording and producing the piece this morning before the crying and/or screaming kids made any more work impossible. The background sounds come from three of the "warped" presets for Logic Audio's Sculpture hybrid modeling synthesizer.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GPP 040: Mushrooms and Mayhem

A conversation with Grace at Panda House over bean curd and mushrooms. We talk about some topics of local interest: the Building the Ark program, brownfields and historic buildings in Saginaw, modern slave quarters, preservation, and the uneasy relationship between the city and the townships. From there, we branch out to the devolution of rural Michigan from forests, to farms, to prisons. Finally, we wind up talking current politics, and the situation with the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan and nuclear energy in general.

I've lowered the MP3 encoding to 160kbps to keep file sizes a little more manageable, hopefully without doing too much damage to the audio quality.

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Although I don't really like participating in economic disaster tourism, here are some of the historic "modern slave quarters" buildings Grace and I spoke about:

View Larger Map

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If that code doesn't work in your browser, here are some direct links:

View One

View Two

View Three

The Potter Street Station:

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Again, if that code above doesn't work in your browser, here's a direct link to the location.

And speaking of disaster tourism:

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Alternate Link.

Update: a friend of mine pointed me at these pictures of preserved historic slave quarters.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

GPP 039: Dishes and Depression

In which I do the dishes in your ear, and talk about depression.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

GPP 038: A Conversation with Julia Sherred

This is my longer episode of the podcast to date, clocking in at almost two and a half hours. I have dropped the MP3 bit rate to 160Kbps (down from my usual 320) on the grounds that people may not want to download an MP3 file that is over 350 MB!

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Show Notes

I mention the books Annals of the Former World by John McPhee and Starfish by Peter Watts. You can find Watts' novels in electronic form here. Get a taste of them, or download the whole things. I generally prefer to read books in print form but Behemoth (printed on paper as two volumes) is a large novel as the title implies, is out of print, and paper copies are going for collector prices. I will probably read that one on-screen. Note that if you don't want to buy dead tree editions, or just prefer e-books, you might still be able to leave Mr. Watts a tip using his donation link.

Oh, the video game we could not remember is Katamari Damacy.

Technical Information for Audio Geeks Only

Jules and I had this conversation over Skype, while simultaneously recording our separate ends of the conversation. She then sent me her end of the conversation in the form of a .WAV file and I assembled the two parts in Logic. There was a technical glitch: for reasons not entirely clear to me, her file was 0.0268% faster than mine. This meant that even though we were perfectly in sync at the beginning, by the end of the interview the files were about two and a half seconds out of sync, which jumbles up the conversation and results in a lot of cross-talk.

I was able to figured this out because prior to applying a noise gate, I was able to faintly hear my audio part in her headphones, and vice-versa. This allowed me to note how the "echo" got longer and longer, and determine that by the end of the file her audio was 2.348 seconds earlier than mine. The entire file was about 2 hours 26 minutes, or 8,760 seconds. The ratio comes out to be 0.000268. So to fix this, I used the "time stretch" function in Soundtrack Pro to stretch her audio file to 100.0268% of its original length, and the two parts then stayed together perfectly.

To make this kind of thing easier to fix in future interviews over Skype, I should remember to get my conversation partners to clap or count simultaneously at the beginning of the interview, and also at the end. This should make it easier to align the start of the files and also to determine whether the audio clocks have drifted apart by the end of the recordings and by how much, without having to rely on guesswork or being lucky enough to hear the sound leaking from headphones. I am not sure exactly what went wrong, but suspect that it has something to do with my using an Apogee Ensemble, which has a fairly high-end clock, while Jules was using a more ordinary PC sound card, which may derive its audio clock from I-don't-know-where -- maybe the PCI bus clock?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

GPP 037: The Panda House Pu Pu Platter

Grace and I get together at Panda House restaurant in Saginaw for American Chinese food, old-school, and eat it directly into your ears.

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GPP 036: A Conversation with Isaac

My son Isaac is sixteen years old. We talk about college, math, life, and other subjects both nerdy and not-so-nerdy.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

GPP 035: Talking with Sean, Part Two

This is the second half of my interview with Sean Hurley.

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Show Notes

I make reference to Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.

The attack of the weed men is part of Hodgson's novel The Boats of the Glen Carrig, taken from my now somewhat neglected Hodgecast podcast.

Friday, February 18, 2011

GPP 034: Talking with Sean, Part One

Sean Hurley is a storyteller, a producer for New Hampshire Public Radio, a songwriter whose material has appeared on the Ron and Fez show, the creator of Sherwin Sleeves, the Atoms, Motion, and the Void stories, and the incomplete young adult story The Rule Book and Calendar of Kittery Embers. He's created a remarkable body of work in only a few years, and even turned his work into a one-man play. If you don't know who he is already, or who Sherwin Sleeves is -- you will!

Sean kindly gave me almost two hours of his time on Skype for a loose, unedited chat about his work and his process, how his stories developed from a character, and finding the permission and the fearlessness to do creative work and put it out into the world. Think of it as inspiration.

I'm sorry that Part One ends rather abruptly -- the conversation was pretty free-flowing, and I was not really able to find a good breaking point, so I just had to pick one and break the chat into two parts. I felt that it was just too long to present as one piece.

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Show Notes

Sean uses a Rode Microphone

I'm using an Oktava MK-219

Information about the mod I'm contemplating can be found here

You can listen to the emergence of Sean Hurley's alter-ego, Sherwin Sleeves, here.

Here's a recent piece he did for New Hampshire Public Radio.

You can find his work on Atoms, Motion and the Void here (personally I think you might enjoy starting with this episode), and Sean has suggested starting with this one. To keep up with his ongoing Atoms, Motion and the Void story, consider becoming a Stalwart.

Meatball Fulton

The Fourth Tower of Inverness

Moon Over Morocco

The ZBS Foundation productions are not available free online but can be found here. Some of the works on CD can be found on Amazon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

GPP 033: An Odyssey Through the Grocery Store

This one has taken me a while to bring to you. There was a previous version, which was too rambling, and which I gave up editing. This is another grocery shopping trip Grace and I recorded just before Thanksgiving. What could be more exciting than listening to other people go grocery shopping? I know, I know!

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GPP 032: Bunny Beans, Boddhisattvas, and Tall Dwarfs

In which Grace and I chat about the Groundhog Day Blizzard, the week in viruses, the state of our life in Saginaw, our son Sam, and whether she and Joshua might secretly be very tall dwarfs.

Bunny Beans!

We neglect to mention it in the audio, but Sam eventually received a formal diagnosis of mild autism. Grace's angry e-mails to various persons in authority in Ann Arbor have gone unanswered.

I suppose that language may not be considered fully politically correct by persons of short stature. I can only say in my defense that if Joshua does turn out to be a little person, we will continue to cherish and love him every day as we send him deep into the earth to mine mithril, and nervously hope that he doesn't delve too deep and awaken a Balrog.

The Indian restaurant whose name we struggled to remember is the "Kabob N Curry House" on Bay Road in Saginaw. Their food is excellent and seems to be made mostly in-house, the staff is extremely polite and friendly, and while it is not a low-cost restaurant, the value for money is very high. Their dining room hours are limited so call ahead (they don't serve lunch on Saturday, as we found). Try their mango lassi while you are waiting for your appetizers!

The P√Ętisserie, the bakery we mentioned with the incredible cakes and pastries and the utterly indifferent coffee and tea, can be found online here.

The interstitial music consists of some fragments of the song "Crush" by the Tall Dwarfs, for obvious reasons.

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GPP 031: Lost in Thought, Part Four

The tiring denoument to an action-packed day.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

GPP 030: Lost in Thought, Part Three

In part three of my ramble: why Sarah Palin's 15 minutes of fame are up; how the media is by no means leftist; how arming everyone won't stop a Tucson-like massacre; should I buy a Glock? Then, a rant about the moral problems of cliched, triumphalist crowing about keeping a handgun for self-defense.

This is the article I was referring to:

I mis-remembered some details, which is not surprising when I do a discussion like this without notes. However, if this is the same Bessie Jones, it is interesting to note that she was apparently very upset about shooting the robber. She is quoted as saying "I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted him to leave, but he wouldn't go." She had no indication that his intent was anything other than robbery; in other words, she used the gun to defend her possessions at the expense of the robber's wife. And per the article, she was having some difficulty with the moral implications of that trade.

The other case I was able to find referenced in The New York Times. The gun that was used to rob the man who killed the two young men with his unlicensed handgun? It was a pellet gun. He presumably did not know and under the circumstances could not have known the gun that had been put to his head was entirely non-lethal, and in my view was entirely right to believe that his life was endangered. But it puts an interesting spin on the confrontation that cost the two younger men their lives. The "hero" was technically the one committing a real gun crime, and in reality the only thing at stake was the wallet -- a thing certainly not worth anyone's life.

Google tells me that both the above high-profile cases are mentioned in a book, on this page:'s%20guns%20and%20the%20second%20amendment%20book&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q&f=false

Some information with a different bias, one that matches my personal values a little more closely, can be found here:

DID YOU KNOW? A gun in the home is more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

Every time a gun injures or kills in self-defense, it is used:

11 times for completed and attempted suicides (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263).
7 times in criminal assaults and homicides, and
4 times in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.
Today's episode itself:

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GPP 029: Lost in Thought, Part Two

Paul's rambling continues as he talks about life in Saginaw, the changes over the past year, the financial realities of his new living situation, health care, and the recession's effect on the life as a worker. In the second half of part two, he muses further on censorship, what it means to write from the imagination, and whether pundits are to blame for fomenting violence.

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The picture is a Google Earth image of U.S. 127 and Colony Road in Michigan, where I came across a row of collapsing trees. In winter, against the blowing snow, the view was much more striking, and I regret that I did not have my camera on hand (although perhaps it was best that I did not have even more to distract me from actually staying on the road).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GPP 028: Lost in Thought, Part One

On a snowy January morning Paul wanders around the state of Michigan, occasionally getting lost on the road, as well as lost in thought. In part one, he rambles for a while about Sean Hurley's podcast story "The Rule Book and Calendar of Kittery Embers," Around the 12 minute mark he eventually settles into describing an encounter with a group of citizens that starts out with the tired questions about Obama's birth certificate. It was just like socializing with a group of friends at a bar. Except that they were strangers. And it was a grocery store. And a little tense. It's a long story. When I use the phrase "to digress just a little bit," I'm digressing a lot. I start on a rant about American manufacturing -- more specifically, the lack thereof.

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The Lenox utility knife I discuss can be found here:

I don't recall the details of the utility knife Menard's was promotionally pricing for free with rebate, but it may have been a "MasterForce" brand knife that goes for $6.99.

On the subject of Obama's birth certificate:

See also:

And for why this debate just isn't dying and probably won't die: