* with image

I’m a big fan of being able to communicate plainly without slang, pretend insults, sarcasm, irony, or feeling like you have to tell a joke in the process.

— Richard, piano technician in a conversation we had in a practice room.

MGMT and Passion Pit - Sleepyhead/Kids Mashup
435,625 plays

Sleepyhead/Kids Mashup - MGMT and Passion Pit from Sleepyhead/Kids




You were one inch from the edge of this bed,

I drag you back, a sleepyhead

The single greatest mashup ever, not done by me, but creds to whoever created this work of art.

im 16 again all in a rush of bright colours

stopping time

Somewhere in The Hobbit, if I remember correctly, Gollum asks Bilbo a riddle in his cave. The riddle is to name something that levels kingdoms and dominions, slays prince and pauper alike and ultimately leaves no man alive. Bilbo thinks of the scariest monsters and dragons he can imagine, but it takes him too long to figure out, so he calls for more ‘time,’ and the answer, of course is Time itself. Memento mori. It’s on my mind every day these days. I just don’t want these two years of my life to end. Studying at Juilliard and living in New York, for all its difficulties, has really been the time of my life and pretty much lived up to be everything I expected and more. All the same, it’s so easy to just wake up, make some breakfast, pack a lunch, drink a cup of coffee, get on the 1 train, practice all day, come home alone and sleep, and let one more day go by. One more day of the two-year master’s program, of which over a quarter is already passed.

Graduation is really not a happy event for most people here. Being in school is perhaps the only time in our lives when we can focus on perfecting our art and making something beautiful without worrying about how we will eat the next day. It may be the only time when we’re surrounded by people who care about music as much as we do. Our loans are on deferment, and the future holds nothing but promise.

The ancient Greeks believed that life on earth was to live on the rind of a hollow world, and that after death, the soul descended into the underworld forever, haunting the living out of jealousy. From my Christian point of view, I obviously can’t believe this at face value, but sometimes I get on the subway and look around me, and I still can’t help but think it makes a lot of sense in this life.

I’m never going to look better than I do now. The same goes for anyone roughly my age. I have pictures, but they can’t freeze time. Maybe mental sharpness and memory even peaks now. There was a newspaper article I saw recently about how pro video gamers can’t play past their mid 20s. I hope I haven’t peaked yet in my musical performance abilities, but I know that it does happen for some people when they are in graduate school, or even earlier. We’re just like athletes and models, except we might last a little longer in our prime. 

The point is to live like you’ll die tomorrow, and also like you’ll live another hundred years. I can’t afford to waste any more time in poor health, and I think I take better care of myself. I can’t afford to screw up my musical career; you always have to think one step ahead of everyone around you. On the other hand, I basically have two years to finish this stage of life, and there’s a year and a half left. If I want to do something and it doesn’t directly conflict with a responsibility of mine that I take seriously, then in general these days I’m more likely than not to just do it. Carpe diem. Yolo. In a very literal sense, this is probably why I’m blogging and texting several people, trying to make several different plans right now.

I’m also working on building up my youtube channel. Why do it now when I have the rest of my life to sync / trim all my audio and video files and upload them? Just ask my awesome chamber group. Some of us have literally lost sleep after our performance Thursday of Golijov’s Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, wishing it could be uploaded already. It’s something we’re all immensely proud of and it deserves to be heard, not tomorrow but today. We have to wait till we get the studio recording, but in fact if I had only one more day to live, the first thing I would do would probably be to upload some of my fairly unique solo repertoire that I have very good recordings of. This is ultimately one of the ways I see myself surviving. These recordings, which all seem like yesterday to me, could ultimately outlive me on the internet. The memories I leave with other people, whether in person, face to face or digitally through them clicking a link, are in fact all that I can leave behind of significance. I guess that and having children lol.

Skipping breakfast might be good for you!


It’s interesting how society and ‘nutrition experts’ come to recognize certain laws which may or may not have much basis in scientific fact. This short synopsis (found on a google search a few minutes ago lol) succinctly points to the few relevant journal articles to show just how sketchy the scientific proof is that skipping breakfast makes you obese. There are studies out there showing it’s better for children to eat breakfast if it’s a healthy one, which is probably common sense, but there are very few surveys for adults, and these actually don’t support the belief at all. There are actually studies showing the people who eat breakfast consume more calories throughout the day.

Also, ever heard that skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism throughout the day? Fasting for extended periods of time definitely does, but it turns out that people who skip breakfast in all likelihood have practically nothing to worry about. Just search on pubmed or google it. There’s a semi-reputable synopsis by a doctor of the current scientific opinions at http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2013/11/25/3898283.htm Also, apparently frequent eating actually doesn’t increase your metabolism, even though now we’re told to eat six meals a day. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9155494.

This is probably nothing but common sense. Have you not felt hungry in the morning and not bothered eating before? Have you rushed out the door in the morning recently without a nutritious breakfast? That’s right; I thought so. Congratulations on listening to your body. For me, I can feel how it mentally slows me down, and even makes me sleepy, to have to digest a meal. It’s especially bad in the morning. No matter if you’re supposed to eat everything before 6 pm, or whatever, I think it’s nice to get work done while alert and then relax over a meal. Also, at least for me, I never feel like eating anything but sugar and carbs for breakfast. Even if I felt differently, there isn’t really time to cook a nutritious meal before I get on the subway to go to school. I would think it’s much healthier to obtain one’s calories from real, balanced meals that can only occur practically later in the day.

This might actually be my delayed new year’s resolution, quit eating breakfast. I basically have been like that anyway since Jan 1 for lots of random reasons, so I just have to keep it up now lol.

germ theory

I’ve often remarked before that if I were Louis Pasteur trying to discover why people got sick, I would probably never have come to the conclusion that it was due to invisible microbes. Granted, almost everything about our lives now compared to France back then is different, but just from my own experience, I would say it’s almost always a result of putting too much of the right or wrong things into my body. Also, I can’t remember ever being sick with anything other than a cold since I had chickenpox around the age of 5. Yet as soon as I eat more than a very small amount of dairy products, eat a lot of sugar or simple carbs, or just plain eat too much for a couple of days, I will instantly get the familiar sore throat, runny nose, then a couple days later a cough, and maybe recover after a week or even more. It’s instantly 2% of your year that could have been at full productivity that’s mostly lost.

The other thing that will sometimes make me get sick is not sleeping enough. Just like poor dietary habits, I’ll admit this is fully my fault. Being under a lot of stress for a long time also frequently gets me sick as soon as I have an extended break, but this might be due to just not sleeping enough when under stress. I wouldn’t really know since I virtually always miss a lot of sleep when there’s too much to do.

The point is that I feel like maybe literally 100% of the time it’s my fault for getting sick. I think Aristotle said something to this effect as well, something along the lines that sickness was a result of breaking the body’s natural laws. I also feel like I have less freedom to break these laws than I used to. Maybe it’s due to environment and unavoidable lifestyle changes, or maybe I’m just getting older. Regardless, no matter how much I might talk about stupid things I do, I actually take pretty good care of myself now with eating and sleeping habits. I have to; you simply can’t afford to get sick for any amount of time in this new life out here. I’ll cook most of my meals myself at home, generally avoid white bread, sugar, breakfast cereals and granola bars (topic for another post how unhealthy I feel they really are), and get 7-8 hours of sleep most nights, napping during the day if I don’t. About once a week, I’ll completely break all of the rules and still feel completely fine the next day, cause YOLO, but that’s most definitely the exception to the rule.

on-off switch

I’ve been in New York for just over a week now. The 16 days back in socal over Christmas break with my friends and family were lots of fun, maybe a little too much sometimes, but in all honesty I am very glad to be back.

The interesting and disturbing thing is that yet again, I’m noticing something weird about the adjustment to moving to a different environment. When I was at La Sierra the same thing would happen when I went home for a weekend or a break. Being at home somehow changes my personality. I actually feel weak, indecisive, and awkward for a while. It’s like I can’t say anything right. It’s a pretty awful feeling, being completely trapped by your own mind. Finally, though, something clicks, and then I’m back to where I was before I left for break. I wish there was something I could do to make this transition faster, but I’ve never observed anything to work other than just waiting a few days until something clicks. It took almost a week this time, probably compounded by other reasons such as the cold I had. Then yesterday morning I just woke up feeling great, and everything was perfect.

I still miss my friend and family at home. You can bet I’ll be staying away from home for spring break though, unless someone can get me another $1000 gig to make it worth it lol.


The Vertigo of ErosRoberto Matta

One of my favorite paintings I saw at MoMA. The artist painted this in New York in 1944 having emigrated from Paris to escape the war. He kept company with surrealists at this time and painted this as an ‘inscape,’ one of a series of imaginary landscapes that he conceived of as projections of his psyche. Seeing this massive painting up close, it was impressive how clearly defined and amazingly detailed everything is, despite the fact that all of the shapes appear to be completely abstract. View Larger


The Vertigo of Eros
Roberto Matta

One of my favorite paintings I saw at MoMA. The artist painted this in New York in 1944 having emigrated from Paris to escape the war. He kept company with surrealists at this time and painted this as an ‘inscape,’ one of a series of imaginary landscapes that he conceived of as projections of his psyche. Seeing this massive painting up close, it was impressive how clearly defined and amazingly detailed everything is, despite the fact that all of the shapes appear to be completely abstract.

bump key lock picking

Lock picking has been a topic of casual interest to me for a long time, although it is definitely still an art in which I have very little capability. Last year, with the help of stumbleupon, which my ‘sister’ Molly at La Sierra introduced me to, I learned about the relatively new technique of lock bumping that has really intrigued me. Basically you make a blank key with all pins cut to the maximum depth, and by applying shocks to the end of the key while keeping pressure on the lock, it’s possible to open most locks without damaging anything. There are a ton of articles on the web about this, and it sounds like it could be much easier than the conventional way.

I haven’t tried lock bumping, and just to be clear for all you law enforcement people who are probably reading this, the only locks I’ve ever picked in my life were a little padlock I bought for myself and my violin case. Nevertheless, I do have one piece of experience with bumping, and that was when I was locked out of my dorm room back at La Sierra and had to get the RA to come open it for me. The key she was using was correct but wasn’t quite working since it was just a master key that is supposed to open everything. We had the problem there that due to sloppy manufacturing, keys didn’t usually open the doors in our hall easily unless it was the specific room key. I’m sure we’ve all been in situations like this. Anyway, neither the RA nor the student dean was able to get it to work, and on a whim, I asked them if I could try something. I put the key in the lock, tried to turn it with one hand, and then whacked the end of it with the bottom of my other hand in a fist. It suddenly opened! This very simple application clearly illustrates the power of lock bumping, and you should try it next time you have a key that’s supposed to open a door but doesn’t quite work.