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I am in Israel.

This is 'part 2' of Lian and Itay's wedding. They will be doing a ceremony here in Tel Aviv for Itay's family, and we all came over to help celebrate. It's been an incredible trip!

I've been delinquent in posting to my little blog here. There is so much I need to put up -- links, general reports of life, changes, all that. Nothing bad to report "mm"-blog-wise, but I'm afraid I fell out of the habit of committing even very mundane things to text. And I probably should, although it's not as clear to me 'why' as it once was. I started this practice, though, so I might as well keep going.

I finished my book-thing earlier this summer, and it is now approved and listed in both the Amazon and Apple App Stores. I'm not going to link it anywhere yet, because I want to try some sort of "official" announcement after the school term starts. It's all ready to go, though. I think maybe finishing the book may have helped fuel my brief pause in blogging. I just withdrew from a lot of things for awhile, especially things that involved writing. I need to get re-engaged now.

One thing that can help is an experience I had yesterday. It was one of those 'travel epiphanies' you can have when in a new context saturated with experiencing. We were in Jerusalem and had walked the Stations of the Cross up the Via Dolorosa and had arrived at Golgotha. The midday Muslim "call to prayer" had just begun echoing through the streets, following us into the huge basilica-like structure built to surround where the Cross was placed and the purported location of Christ's tomb. The sound of the Islamic cantillation, and a suddenly stark realization of exactly what I was seeing almost knocked me off my feet. Wow. How did I get here? What was I doing?

I was filled with both expansive hope and profound depression simultaneously. The hope: the world is so amazing! Look at what these people, these humans-like-us did; Christ, Mohammed, Buddha... but then, what have we done with it all? The millennia of hatred, the killing, the wars. What can I do? What can we do? I guess my best answer, especially as I age, is to look around, see where you are, and think what you can do from there. And hope that the promise of a better future for Lian, for Itay, for Daniel, for Stephan and Bo, for all, holds true.


Classes have started, and today was -- for the first time -- a day of very autumnal temperatures. It feels like I was never away on sabbatical. Japan is a dream, Israel is a memory, but I do have my finished book-thing to show for the last year. I've sent it around to all the people (I think) who I mentioned in it. Next week I plan to announce it to the world. Oh the anticipation! Oh the bated breath! It will be nice for a few more people to read it, I hope.

My writing here in the ole blog has gotten even more spotty than ever. Partly it's because I've been swamped with work. I had forgotten how many e-mails students can generate at the beginning of the term. At least I haven't fallen too far behind, yet. Another reason is a personal characteristic that causes me difficulties in my other work. I set up for myself something that I need to do in order to return to 'normal' mode of working. Then I don't do that something, and it begins to pile up. And then I don't ever return to the 'normal' mode of working. For this mm-blog, I have a bunch of links to things that I wanted to include here. I didn't post them, and now I have a fair number of links. Yikes! I guess the best thing to do is to post them, and then maybe I can get back to the semi-random ramblings that I normally write:

I am certain that there are some I have forgotten. Of course, there is the link to the book-thing web page. Stay tuned next week! I also haven't collated our Israel photos yet -- what an amazing experience!

To be sure, I simply haven't collated a lot of 'experience' lately. This was an intense summer. How do I write what it feels like to watch your children blossom? To watch life continue to flow, to learn of deaths of friends and joyous news of others? This is the real stuff, and I've spent the last few months simply absorbing. I think I was pretty depressed -- finishing the book-thing was a part of it all -- but I'm old enough now that the depression sort of washes through. Now here I am, back doing the familiar things. This is when you need to watch out, because something will change. It always does.

More posts later, with additional links when I recall them.


[note: I wrote this entry on September 25, but before I could get it transferred to my on-line blog the logic board in my laptop failed. I sent it (along with $400) back to Apple for a week, and now my computer is happily computing along once again. However, I did fall way behind in some work, and am just now semi-getting-caught-up. This time I have a Real Excuse for not posting in a timely manner!]

Today was rainy and cool, and driving home I noticed the trees have really begun to turn. Time. Fourth week of the semester. I seem more aware of this than ever before. How many more semesters in toto will there be? I asked some of the CMC-ers when getting on the elevator this past Tuesday: "What if this turned out to be the very last time ever that you got on an elevator?" Why ask that? I don't know...

We had two really interesting visitors to our "composition seminar" yesterday at Columbia: Sean Griffin and Charles Gaines. I really enjoyed the discussion. Charles talked a lot about his motivation in using 'systems', or mechanisms of art-production [my words here] that took him away from the projection of his personal ego (yeah, he was a big fan of John Cage). George Lewis made some observations -- as he generally can do -- that were really amazing. Yesterday in particular I was pretty much blown away by the discussion, possibly because it was one that really mattered to me; issues that I have thought about myself. Of course, I couldn't really put coherent words together in the moment. Heading home afterwards, I thought about Charles and Cage and the whole non-intentionality thing. It seems to me that, intention or not, the reception of art (the aesthetic appreciation for lack of a better description) is so messily bound up with the contingent and the personal that it ultimately doesn't really make a big difference what the original 'system' might have been. However, and the question I wished I had managed to formulate to ask Charles and Sean, I think that the cultural-political act of ego/non-intentionality can be a huge thing in how we shape the world. Is that the purpose in Charles' "systematic" approach? Or was he somehow attached to the aesthetic output that came from such an approach? The latter seems problematic to me. Charles was fond of talking about how a particular metonymy formed an important aspect of how his work was interpreted. I found myself thinking that metonymy is gonna happen anyhow, and the creator doesn't really have a whole lot of control over the ultimate result when the work gets "out there". So does it matter if the original intention was ego-driven or not? That's where the cultural-political thing happens, and to me that's where the real power and purpose of art lies.

I wish I had been able to better articulate these things at the time, because the discussion was so good. George, man... That's a MacArthur award-winner who really deserved one! I look at what he has done, how he thinks, and then I consider my other colleagues and their accomplishments (Fred, Georg, Zosha's work is beautiful), and I wonder: "Yikes! What am I doing here?"

I said in my previous post that I would put up additional links when I remembered them. Here's one:

Darwin (good friend, excellent musicians, see PGTGTr-roosevelt for some work we've done with him) has been doing a series of 'podcast' interviews of people involved in computer music, and the link above is one with me.


Here's a few more links that I hadn't posted here (and this seems to be my 'repository of record', along with my main web page when I get it caught up with life): The first link explains the genesis of the second and third links to small little pieces I did last month.

I have started to publicize my MemoryBook app! I sent around an e-mail to hundreds of people (I'm a spammer), and also posted it on a number of e-mail lists. But of course I didn't list it here. To set that right, here is the link:

I really love my mom's graphics for the app. The image above is the main one, used for the 'prelude' and the 'postlude' of the book-thing.

I've been having a few interesting dreams again, some about old friends, some about relationships, some are just oddly abstract. For example, last weekend I had a dream about 'schematic cats'. I recall boxes, some had dotted lines in them. The basic dream was that I identified three different kinds of cat. If I could describe the cat but it could not be seen (a blank space inside the dotted lines), then it was a "Platonic" cat. If I could describe the cat and also see it, that made it a "normal" cat. If I could see the cat but not describe it, then it was an "Art" cat, or maybe it was an "Aesthetic" cat -- you get the idea. I had been reading a fun book before bed, Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein. I suspect that's what led to my cat-categorizing.


This has been an intense semester for some reason. Part of it is that I decided to teach a fair amount of material that drew upon tools and techniques that I don't normally use. It's been interesting, but it has required a fair amount of work. We're also pushing hard for various initiatives at Columbia. Plus coming back from sabbatical is always a 're-entry' kind of thing.

But I think the main intensity -- or perhaps it's a symptom -- is that I find myself living in the future too much. I'm always saying to myself: "ok, I'll get through this, and then I'll be at this place." When I arrive at that foreseen location, I'm already imagining the next place. The problem with simply getting through things is that it ultimately feels so thin, so empty. Here I go, and then here I go again, and then again, but where am I going? And how is the trip?

The other problem with investing too much of your mind in the future is that when you think you have the linearity of life figured out, something completely unforeseen will bend the flow of your existence. How will I take that?

Last week I was walking up Broadway from main campus to the Computer Music Center, and for some reason I noticed the pattern of fallen leaves against the sidewalk. I thought how nice it would be to stop and gaze at the pattern for awhile, soaking in the late-fall/early winter feel of the day. I had an appointment I had to make, so I couldn't stop by that particular woods on that metaphorical snowy evening. I need to get back to a place where I can enjoy the flow of life as it happens, with an eye towards the future but with the sense of the here and now. It takes both.

Jill snapped this photo while returning from her pottery class on September 11. I've been meaning to post it here for, well, several months now...


There is a set of music recordings I have that I don't play until December. Through the years, they have taken on all the memories that I associate with the season. I do love this time of year! Now when I think back on life, it's almost painful how wonderful it has all been. The pain is the desire to keep it all, to preserve it, to never let it go. But that act would destroy the very aspect of these memories -- how they layer over time, with new experiences added -- that makes them so precious.

We just returned from a short but good visit to see my mom and dad in Indiana for Thanksgiving. One more week of classes, and the term ends. We've planned a big event for next weekend to end the term:

More memories! And now I sit and listen to my holiday music, adding more layers of life for the future.


Time for some more links and pictures! Mom and dad are here now, Daniel is home form Columbia, and my sister + family are heading down from Massachusetts tomorrow. Holidays! I've finally had a chance to get caught up with some things I've had lurking for awhile. The first being this link: Pictures on-line from last August, oh my, Yeah, I've been meaning to do this for months.

More recently, here are links to recent musical fun:

The first is a link to several hours of recording Terry, Gregory and I did during Gregory's visit here a few weeks ago. The second is from the reason Gregory came out -- our big party-blast at the CMC. We were joined by Karl Fury and Luke Dubois (you can read about them on the web page).

A really nice thing happened as a result of the CMC party. Rick Whitaker, concert programmer from The Italian Academy at Columbia was in attendance and very much enjoyed my book-presentation. Long story short, he decided to set up an evening event at the Academy:

This makes me a Happy Brad. Thanks Rick!

Finally (for now), here are some photos of the outdoor display this year:


I've been feeling behind in stuff all term. Now I'm getting -- at least a little bit -- caught up. I have a lot of work to do, but I feel I now have some breathing-space to do it. And family! Lian and Itay are coming next week. I love this time of year.


As I typed the text-name for this blog entry -- 12.24.2014 -- I redid the quick mental calculation from 12/24/2006 and was again amazed. Eight years. Right now it seems like that span of time is nothing, totally normal for people with multiple myeloma, but when I first learned of the disease I thought I would be gone by now. I should temper that slightly: I say I thought I would be gone, but I'm not sure how much I really believed it. How can we believe in our own death? Here I am, still in remission, barely writing entries here (it seems I don't have much to say any more?), imagining that the world will continue on and on. I look at the paucity of my writing for the past six months, and I worry: "Ha! This is when the fundamental randomness will strike again!" I feel like everything is settled, that I am now on a linear stretch into the future. That's when things will radically change. That's how it was eight years ago.

But you know what? That's how it always is. The trick is not to live too much into the future, as I have been doing these past months. Don't extrapolate, linearly or not. Realize instead that "living" is something you do right now, at this point, aware of what it is. If you can be.

When I try to stretch that now-awareness again, it feels great. Jill is dropping off to sleep after a day of excellent cooking (more to come!). Lian and Itay are home, wrapping Christmas gifts downstairs. Daniel too. We've had a wonderful weekend-past with my mom and dad, sister/brother-in-law/nephews, and the next few days promise to be filled with that good holiday cheer. I read back on my past December 24 blog entries, and this happy feeling seems to be a common thread. I hope it stays unbroken, at least for a little while more.

I'm again indulging in my personal Christmas Eve traditions. The Byzantine monks are chanting away on the stereo, I'll shoot some photos of our trees to put here (probably tomorrow), and I'm going to relax with a small sip of Amaretto shortly. This is good, really good.


In about an hour we leave to take Lian and Itay back to the airport, back to their lives in Seattle. Daniel has been suffering from a stomach ailment the past few days, but we've still had a really great time together. The holidays! I've even managed to get a fair amount of work done, setting up things that I will need for the coming semester (and future development work on Android and iOS devices). Much more to do, and more to look forward to with the family in the future. These days remind us of how good life can be.

I can write here the clichéd expressions I generally do -- "I wish this could go on forever!". Maybe it does.

Here are pictures of our trees this Christmas, taken on Christmas eve:


Yesterday when we were driving Lian and Itay to the airport, as we left town the sunset flared into brilliance: For some reason, the Irish folk song Samhradh Samhradh as done by The Gloaming ran through my mind. Well, it was that gloaming-time-of-day, but I think it more had to do with the feeling I have from that particular piece of music. I have written about it before, oddly enough at about this same time one year ago. This time the feeling was tinged with a bit more nostalgic-melancholy. We were, after all, winding down from the family festivities. Lian and Itay were heading to their home now.

I don't know exactly what the Gaelic words mean in the piece. It's something about summer, and the peaceful feeling of a good season. If I could write the words, though, especially as we travelled on the NJ Turnpike, I would endow them with the reality behind the "clichéd expressions" I wrote about yesterday. The words would sing of an awareness of how precious/precarious life is, of the immanent feeling of what it is to be at that moment, surrounded by the goodness of family and love. The words would also convey the futility of trying to grasp that moment, to clutch it close in order to preserve it forever. I wish I could freeze the flow.

Notice that I say "IF I could write the words..." I can't. I surely do know what they mean, though.

Here is the song:

photo taken by Jill Lipoti and Lian Garton


One of the things I notice, especially in winter, is how dramatically the auditory "background scene" changes when you go outdoors. Crossing over the threshold, the ambient sounds go from closed-in and cozy-warm to wide-open and crystal-cold. I imagine a music with those kinds of transitions between parts. Can I realize some of it? Perhaps... it will be fun to try. I look forward to the future.

The movement from December 31 to January 1 promises a similar dramatic scene-shift. Of course it really isn't, but we still mark the moment. It's an arbitrary point in time, but we label it: Happy New Year!

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