Classical music concerts are one of my favorite places to think. It sounds weird, but classical music provides just enough stimulation to keep me from becoming distracted, but not enough stimulation to impact my thinking processes. I love being able to drift from absorbing and enjoying the music to going deep in thought without really even noticing.
My violin teacher (who's great, by the way, in case you're in SF and want to learn Violin) brought me to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music last week and told me that they had free concerts by the students all the time. Perfect. Despite really enjoying the music, I'm way too ignorant to be able to tell the difference between a good student and a professional symphony player, so these shows are really a great opportunity.
On Monday I went to Matthew Linaman's (http://www.youtube.com/user/cellolinaman) cello recital at the conservatory. Have you ever noticed that people often won't take front row seats if they haven't paid for a ticket? I've noticed this at a lot of talks and smaller concerts like this. Anyway, the point is that I got to sit in the very middle of the front, and this was a small enough hall that this seat was the best seat. Most of the front row seats remained empty.
Beyond his playing (which was fantastic, by the way), I kept thinking about his Cello, Cellos in general, and stringed instruments in general. Cellos last. They get better. The craftsmanship on a good Cello, probably even an okay cello, is remarkable. I have a violin that my sister gave me, and I find myself marveling at the curves of the wood, the perfect symmetry, and the invisible joints holding it all together. It's amazing, really.
I also thought about the music. Bach wrote the Cello Suite that Matthew played almost three hundred years ago. He could never imagine that some blogger in a motorcycle jacket would be listening to someone play his music on a beautiful stage in downtown San Francisco. If he could see this scene, how proud would he be?
The longevity that both the instrument and the music composed for it have is interesting. It made me think about what we produce today, and whether or not any of it has that sort of longevity. It seems like most things we create now are ephemeral. My laptop is an amazing achievement of technology and design, but it will be useless in a few years. My motorcycle is beautiful and fast, but in a few hundred years it will probably be slow and ugly. Even the most amazing things I have today have an expiration date.
I thought about my books. My pickup book won't be relevant in a hundred years. Customs change. My traveling book will be obsolete. Living in an RV will probably be a thing of the past, too.
Most of the music that we create now will be dated, I think. It might be listened to for novelty, but I don't think it will have the sticking power that classical music has. Maybe I'm wrong, but as much as I love Rick Ross, I doubt anyone will listen to him in a hundred years.
What then, I wondered, would actually survive a few hundred years? Is there anything?
I followed various lines of thought, every time coming to the conclusion that, no, whatever I was thinking about would probably have disappeared within a few hundred years. Almost ready to concede that we were creating disposable culture, I finally came up with something that we create now that will remain hundreds of years in the future.
We're now a society of ideas. Ideas that we create now will spread through future generations and make it to the generations of our great great great great great grandchildren. They won't be exactly the same as they are now, of course, but neither is music or the instruments it's played on. A Stradivarius violin gets better in time (because of the varnish used, some scientists think), but it might also get knicked and scratched, too. So it's better and it's worse. Mostly better. I think ideas will transfer in that same way, as they play a game of telephone through the generations.
Ideas have alway transferred through time, of course, but things are different now. The internet has created a way to spread ideas virally, which is pretty much unprecedented. Anyone, not just someone with distribution, can be a thinker. We have permanent storage now with perfect fidelity, ensuring that any idea worth remembering will be remembered.
What does this all mean in practical terms? I think that it means that if you want to contribute to society in a permanent way, to leave your mark, even if no one actually knows your're the one who left it, you have to think and share your thoughts. Blogs are a pretty good way to do that.
Photo is some friends on an awesome van roofdeck.
We just migrated SETT to Twitter Bootstrap, which is why certain things are a little bit wonky (like the reply box being tiny). We're on it... should be fixed early next week.
If you have a Rialta and are in SF, message me. I have a present for the first Rialta owner who gets in touch.
What lives on you ask--History is created by the people who write about it from their points of view. Everything that is in print is not necessarily true, so we question the writers and where they are coming from.
Then there are the other creative arts that speak to their time and some endure.
Inventions define their times and then are added to by more advancements.
Unfortunately wars are landmarks-peace not so much.
You certainly spark some thought.
Along these lines, I highly recommend Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley. He introduces the concept of Ideas Having Sex, and why this is what distinguishes humans.
Could you tweak the behavior of that pop-up linking to other articles so that it only appears when the end of the article is more than the height of the pop-up from the bottom of the window? It's really annoying to have it covering text, I'm midway through an article and it interrupts to say "stop reading that, go over here instead".
Fiction that deals with universal, timeless questions of human nature seems to last as well. Many of the novels from the Romantic era are still useful today.
I have a 86' Civic that I've been living in n out of for a few months while exploring California.. but I guess that doesn't really count as a Rialta. Hope to run into you in SF soon :D good luck with bootstrap. That CSS package is sweet and quite purty too!
this sounds really similar to demon theory by ciaran. do a quick google search if you havent heard about it yet
And a movie quote:
You're about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something.
-- Indana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But thinking more, I also think a lot of the "lack of permanence" is due to the expected utility of the item. I expect my PC to be the fastest thing on earth, because to have less is to wait extra time when rendering video (z68 cut my render times to a quarter of a Core2Duo). When the next leap comes out (past Ivy Bridge), I'll upgrade again.
Otoh, I have a red-oak table set that I expect to be a table. It *is* constructed to last, and I will never craft things on it without protection. It is beautiful, and will be in my house for at least 25 more years before it goes on to another loving home. One reason it is going to last is that it is heavy, bulky, and no accountants got after it (the table top is 2 inches of solid wood; no filler, no cardbord, nada).
I also have a set of block planes from the 1920's. They're good and artsy, but I still use them because planing a block of wood hasn't changed during that time, so the old stuff is as good as the new stuff (though it's easier to find blades for the new planes and the all metal ones are more durable [but less artsy] than these wooden ones).
I also have a 1950's bandsaw (cast iron). I've changed the motor, but the bandsaw itself will last a loong time. I probably will have to change the bearings on the lower wheel, but it'll work. At the shop, I have a 1980's bandsaw that I think will last for at least 50 years with proper care.
You can kinda guess I like the feel of wood in my hands, eh? But these tools, because of what we use them for, will not be replaced on a whim. Since you play an instrument to make the sound, the good instruments likewise won't be thrown away (and if they're marginal, you can refurbish them when pieces wear out but you still love the instrument [eg, fret replacement]). I've even refurbished an old tube amp (bad capacitors, pots were worn out) because I love the sound (even though tubes are getting harder to find).
If your use doesn't change (or even better, if it becomes a part of you like woodworking or playing an instrument), the good things will stand the test of time, and you'll get rid of the bad instruments because they no longer feel "worth the trouble" (I got rid of an electric guitar because it wouldn't hold a tune for an entire set); taking this to tools, I always buy the first tool from Harbor Freight (junk), and the 2nd one from a good place. I don't want to tile another floor (and not because of the saw!), so wasting $50 on a tile saw hurts less than spending $400 on a good tile saw. OTOH, those oscillating tools are amazingly useful...
Well nuts. I now have a post button, but I can't reply to other's posts.
I humbly disagree with respect to permanancy of several things, for example, your bike.
I have no doubt that it will no longer be state-of-the-art in a hundred years, but it can evolve to a different place:one of art.
I have a 1974 replica of a 1932 Ford that I'm restoring. I will never expect great gas mileage from it (I expect ~16 when I'm done because I'm keeping the Ford 302 engine in it), and it will never have the vehicle stability, weatherproofness, etc of a new car, but it will be my toy with many, many smiles to the gallon.
For your bike to do this, only a couple of things need to happen:
1. You must love it (and not discard it) -- I love this car because it was my dad's. It will be passed on to one of my sons at the appropriate time.
2. You must care for it (much like the violin or cello), but that goes part-and-parcel with #1.
Once those are done, the memories of the object (the reason I'm keeping the car) will make it a permanent home.
I'm not enough of a productivity champion that I can work for 14 hours straight with no breaks at all. Sometimes I"ll find myself pressed up against some extra tricky problem, and even after taking shots at it from various angles, I can't quite push through. In times like those, it helps to take a break for a few minutes, and then try again.
Old habits die hard. I used to be obsessed with getting deals on stuff. I still am a little bit. One of the best resources for deals is Fatwallet.com, which I still check once every three or four months, down from several times a day. The last time I checked, four months ago or so, I saw a violin for $50. Shipped. Including a bow, extra strings, rosin, and a case.
I bought it, thinking that if I loved playing the violin, I could give that one away and buy a good one, and if not, I could give it away and not buy a good one. Either way, fifty bucks to see if I was interested in playing the violin seemed like a good idea. I should also add that I had been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock plays the violin when he's thinking. I was probably influenced by that.
It turned out that I loved playing the violin. Not loved as in drop-everything-and-train-for-the-symphony, but taking a few minutes to bang out twinkle twinkle little star was a good way to relax my mind for a minute before getting back to the task at hand. As I worked, I would leave the violin sitting on my bed. Whenever I needed a break, I'd get up and play for a couple minutes.
(Photos by Lullette M.)
As many of you know, I am , in my heart and soul, a piano player. It's been as natural to me as breathing, eating bacon, flexing my calf muscles, and being hopelessly left-handed. I feel most at home when I sit at a piano. As Tom Cruise might say, it completes me.
One thing about myself that I've come to understand is that I am often not content with the status quo. I've always been one to learn something new and take on different challenges. Maybe it's just my nature or perhaps I am a glutton for punishment. Either way, this is who I am, and thus, so be it.
For several years now, I've been thinking a lot about cellos. I love the rich tones and textures they create. It is an instrument capable of creating such amazing beauty. Last October, I took on a very exciting and new challenge. I rented a cello and started taking weekly lessons.