Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category

Observation

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Observing

(Photo taken by my wife.)

I’ve been making a concerted effort to be a better observer. In particular, ever since we watched the Perseid meteor showers, I’ve been more interested in stargazing. On our vacation, I gained a newfound appreciation for birds, thanks to all the interesting birds we saw in the Outer Banks of NC.

Astronomy

Since we got back from our vacation, I bought some binoculars. It’s amazing the mileage I’ve gotten already from a couple of library books on astronomy and a cheap pair of binoculars — even with the nearly-full moon, when the moon is so bright it interferes with night vision.

The Harvest Moon was spectacular last Thursday, and Jupiter has been very bright the past few nights as well. Friday night I had a revelation when I was able to view Jupiter and all of its moons, through my binoculars. It was quite a sight: Jupiter and its four moons were all in a line. From left to right, I saw Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede, followed by Jupiter, followed by Io. I looked for Uranus, but didn’t find it. I also saw an amazing cluster of stars which I later identified as the Orion Nebula.

I’m still learning my way around the night sky. It’s frustrating sometimes trying to find things, but again, the incredibly bright moon has made things more difficult. I think I’ll have more success once the moon wanes a bit more.

I found an amazing, free astronomy program called Stellarium. You set your location, and it shows you how the stars look from your location, complete with constellation/planet/nebula labels, if you like. You can also search for objects and it will show you where they are, or enter a different time and it will show you how the sky will look then. It’s absolutely amazing!

Birds
I haven’t spent as much time on birdwatching, but today we did a nice hike along Lake Monroe and I brought my new binoculars. They really made a difference. I was able to watch quite a few birds, mostly herons, egrets, geese, and turkey vultures. Some of the birds have quite a bit of character, and I loved being more aware of things going on around me in general.
Photos?

Ultimately, I would like to extend my photography into the astronomy/birding realms, but both can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. For now, I’m focusing on observing. Later, once I learn more, perhaps I can work on photographing stars, planets, nebulae and birds and other wildlife.

For now, I’m enjoying learning more about the world around me — looking up at the stars, I feel an almost childlike sense of wonder that as an adult is rare, and it’s quite refreshing. I’m amazed at the things I can see that have been there all along, but I to which I previously paid no attention.

Seeking balance

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Cycling

It’s been an interesting year, so far. I’ve ridden a few centuries, and even completed the 160-mile Ride Across INdiana. I’ve ridden faster, and covered much greater distances, than ever before. All of this leads me to ask: what now?

I’ve given some thought to pursuing even longer distance rides, either through Randonneuring or other channels. And I have to admit, longer distances do sound appealing. For a while it felt like I was trying to see just how far I could go (literally).

But, the thing that I didn’t really consider, going into the longer rides, is that not only do the long events themselves take up a huge chunk of time, the training it takes to be able to do them is even more time-consuming.  It seems a few of the more hardcore local riders ride centuries on at least a weekly basis, if not more. For me, I think that would be physically doable, but it would leave me drained all the time, and I wouldn’t have time to spend with my beautiful wife, or doing anything else. I also think it would cease to be fun, if I approached riding that way.

After RAIN, I debated finding a double century or something else to build up to. But instead I found my riding tapering off a bit. Aside from commuting, I’ve been doing less riding during the week, and my weekend rides have mostly been shorter. And you know what? I’m having a blast!

Ultimately, cycling is a hobby. I’m glad I focused on it enough to do RAIN, but I need to find some balance. I need to spend more time with my beautiful wife, and our dog, and the rest of my family. And I also want to spend time on my other hobbies … especially writing music.

Music

You might ask, “What music?” I originally started this blog to chronicle my music-writing. I used to make electronic music, on a regular basis. Cycling just took over, and I haven’t written any music, or written about music, for quite a while. I miss it, and I’m going to start making music again. If you want to check out my music, listen to the album I made back in 2006, Elements (it’s free). There’s more where that came, which I will find a good way to share soon.

What does this mean?

Cycling-wise, I still intend to ride a lot, and probably even do centuries on a semi-regular basis. For right now, at least, I have no intention of pursing anything much longer than that, unless it takes the form of a multi-day tour. I’m not really scaling back my cycling much, except to return it to normal levels before I started training for RAIN.

And hopefully, you’ll see some new music from me soon. You might also see some music-related posts popping up around here. If they don’t interest you, ignore them. Or, you can always read only my bicycling posts, if you prefer.

I’ll leave you to ponder this hilarity: Ambient Sequencer AS-606.

2009 in review, personally

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

No bike content here, that’ll be a separate post.

2009 was a strange year. We spent most of the year in Pennsylvania, having moved there in October of 2008 when Sarah was offered a job there.

Her job was great, but we hated living there (really, we hated the Wilkes-Barre area, not the whole of PA). We missed our families, both of whom live in Indiana. We took a long hard look at what was important to us and we realized we belonged back in Indiana.

So, in September of 2009, we moved back home. Once we returned, we went through a lot of effort to attempt to put our lives back the way they were before the move. And, we did such a good job of it that now it almost feels like the 10 months we spent living in Pennsylvania never happened. Like a weird dream, or an extended vacation (even though our time there was largely miserable).

I also found myself unemployed at the beginning of 2009, and started my own company. That went relatively well, but ultimately I learned that I hate working for myself, at least in that way. After we moved back home, I got a more normal job, and it feels great.

So, in a way, it was a year-and-change of mis-fires: moving to Pennsylvania, starting my own company. But we learned valuable lessons about how we DON’T want to live, which in turn reinforced how we DO want to live. It was a year of taking risks, but also of taking control of our lives, and learning how to steer the ship. We oversteered a couple of times, but we managed to correct for it.

Moving back home was even risky. Sarah had to quit a good job so we could do it, and we spent a lot of our savings to make it happen. But we saw what we wanted and went for it, and I am proud to say that we did. We are now both gainfully employed and loving being here … near our families and friends. It’s great to be home.

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