Tags: .tpc_blog


Between Sun And Moon

First off, let me just get this out:

Happy Boreal Autumnal Equinox!
(2309 EDT tonight)

OK, so that said, check this out. This Equinox is occurring very close to (within 370 minutes of, in fact) a full moon. This "Super Harvest Moon" makes the usual harvest moon -- the full moon closest to the fall equinox each year -- extra awesome (and this year includes a nice view of Jupiter later on in the evening). NASA writes (in the article linked above):

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture ... [when] farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. ... The full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox became "the Harvest Moon," and it was always a welcome sight.

This one would be extra welcome because it is extra "Harvesty."

Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. ... The Harvest Moon of 2010, however, reaches maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. ... There hasn't been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won't happen again until the year 2029.

For some cool astronomical viewing, consider the following. Find a fairly open public area near you, like a big field in a park (GoogleMaps is helpful), preferably on higher ground (i used MyTopo's map server for that), and go out there somewhere between the moonrise and the sunset (the USNO's sun/moon data tool is handy for US residents).

True, you can see a full moon opposite the sun around the time of any full moon, but isn't having it be within 5 hours of an equinox that much cooler? :)

(Since the moon isn't technically full until later tonight, one can theoretically see the two together again tomorrow morning, just after sunrise. I may well give it a whirl.)

Happy skygazing, and hope the new season brings you peace and Good Things.


North Interwebs

Since northmusic isn't watched by many, i wanted to cross-post this. Hope to see you on all those other websites i keep hearing about ... :)

I know it's been way too long, but i'm spendin' a little time trying to sync up our pages online.

I wanted to make sure you all knew that we're on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and (in case anyone still uses it) MySpace.

A full list of our online pages is available via the website. Thanks for spreading the word and see you out there...


Reminder: Awesome Creative Work

I'm finding out that not everyone caught my last post on this, so i'm re-posting it.


(...or go create your own version by adding other artists' works, changing cover art, or writing your own introduction.)

It's 11 of merriehaskell's short stories assembled in one handy-dandy volume. It supports the author, as well as a cool website where many authors can showcase and sell their work. It gives you a chance to say you had a copy before she got world famous.

I made it, i bought it, i read it, i loved it. It was something like $20 with shipping included.

So yeah, point made. Go do the thing.

-=ETA=-: ... and while i'm plugging awesome indy art, i should mention that i just bought this. (Two copies, of course.)


Strategic Defaults

Thanks to netmouse for the link to a recent NYT article on the simple justification for homeowner foreclosure.

This issue is of course very timely because of the recent real estate collapse which has left huge numbers of people burdened by hopelessly undervalued mortgages. It is made much more poignant, however, by the fact that the collapse was largely triggered by the same lenders who knowingly sold those mortgages, and who not only reaped the gains of underhandedly dumping the risks off on other parties, but dodged much of the fallout entirely by successfully lobbying to stick future generations of Americans with the bill.

The article makes some very good points about the simple fact that -- just as when big companies lay off recently-hired workers -- lenders treat their own defaults as a simple business decision. On the contrary -- just as many people feel guilty for ditching out on a job after six or twelve months -- individual borrowers feel a personal responsibility to make good on their promises.

A few highlights:

"Businesses — in particular Wall Street banks — make such calculations routinely. Morgan Stanley recently decided to stop making payments on five San Francisco office buildings. ... Nobody has said Morgan Stanley is immoral ... But the average American, as if sprung from some Franklinesque mythology, is supposed to honor his debts, or so says the mortgage industry ..."

"Once, perhaps, when bankers held onto mortgages for 30 years, they occupied a moral high ground. These days, lenders typically unload mortgages within days (or minutes). ... [and in] our transaction-obsessed society, the message is that enduring relationships count for less than the value put on assets for sale."

"[Borrowers' strategic defaults] would correct a prevailing imbalance: homeowners operate under a “powerful moral constraint” while lenders are busily trying to maximize profits. More important, it might get the system unstuck. If lenders feared an avalanche of strategic defaults, [it] could produce a wave of loan modifications — the very goal the Treasury has been pursuing to end the crisis."

I have many mixed reactions to the article which i'll spare you, but for me it reinforces two trends i observe:
  1. Our contemporary political-economic system has been increasingly protecting the organizations with superior resources and position, and decreasingly prioritizing the welfare of its people, who often have little recourse.

  2. Most people are inherently superior entities than the organizations that they comprise.
Some would call these observations self-evident, but we noneless allow the perpetuation of the first despite the second.


Go Buy Fiction!

How can you get some cool short stories, support (like with actual money!) a dedicated freelance artist (not me), and check out the creative work of one of my long-time friends, all in one fell swoop?

Go buy this book.

9 short stories by merriehaskell, 216 pages, delivered to your door for less than $20. Cake.

(Sorry i've been posting so much, but this was important! Also apologies to merriehaskell if my quick-n-dirty cover selection and intro don't do her work justice. However, the site will let you copy the anthology, change the cover/intro and even collection as you please, and make your own! Pretty neat, huh?)

Anyways, go share the love. It's the holidays 'n' stuff.


More Music (Semi-Targeted Post)

rev_e's recent request for new music -- particularly gritty new music -- has been puttering around in the back of my mind, so i thought i'd take a little time to share this one.

My brother M recently introduced me to the album Colors by the group Between The Buried And Me. Despite needing to take a couple of listens before i fully acclimated to it, the album has actually turned out to be something of an earworm (and believe me, it's is not due some kind of irresistible pop sensibility). This group's actually one of the most interesting i've heard in awhile because of how precisely they combine a particular set of styles.

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I don't believe that anything short of hearing this album at least twice in its entirety can truly get its value across, but the opening two-track suite (via an interesting fan video) might lend a clue of what one is in for. (Oh, and break out the headphones or a quality sound system for that link, because computer speakers will not allow you to fully appreciate what's going on here.) I think anyone with a fairly open musical mind may want to check this album out, especially those that enjoy extremely tight performance ability, complex phrasal structures, careful production, and/or sheer unadulterated speed.

  • rev_e: This wont be your new favorite band or anything, but i believe your life will be richer for having heard it, and you might find a few tidbits you really like.
  • mrgeddylee: I plan to buy this record and will gladly lend it to you if you think you'd give it those couple of listens, because it might really impress you.
  • jeff_elbel: If you haven't heard these guys yet, you should at least know they're out there.
  • multiplexer: Ditto.
  • ... and this is by no means a complete list; there are at least half a dozen others on my flist who might dig this.

Thanks to M for putting me hip to this unique album. I'm looking forward to checking out more.

More info: betweentheburiedandme.com


I'd Smile And Say You Were A Friend Of Mine

In the unrelenting mania of life, i missed an incredibly sad piece of news earlier this month...

Eric Woolfson
1945 – 2009

The New York Times Obit can't capture the breadth of this man's work, nor can any words i write fully express the musical influence that it had on me. As the "other half" of The Alan Parsons Project, Woolfson's heartfelt songwriting and business savvy perfectly complemented Parsons' arranging and production genius. Though he never considered himself a vocalist, his voice leads some of the group's most acclaimed tunes.

The Project was one of the first bands i was seriously into, hallmarking what i'd consider the beginning of my self-realizations about the depth of my love of music. Their work was rock-centric, but freely explored adjacent styles, focused on creative production, and brought diverse elements into their orchestrations such as large classical arrangements, vocal ensembles, and the ever-emerging synthesized sounds of the era. The project had no fixed lineup, but was formed around the two-man nucleus, with a family of performers moving in and out for various productions, some short-term guests, some veterans.

Sound familiar?

After ten groundbreaking albums with the Project and a prolific solo career -- seemingly always happy to peek out from halfway behind the stage curtain -- Eric left us in the early hours of 02 December (coincidentally on the anniversary of another major loss in my life, perhaps even to the hour).

He also left us a hell of a legacy. As is reportedly said of The Velvet Underground, relatively few people listened to The Alan Parsons Project, but i'll bet most of them started bands.

Please include me in that count.

Thanks, Eric.


A Fast Report From The Front

I arrived shortly ago at the Troy Marriott, where BAE Syatems is holding a career fair today from 9am to 8pm. Some press on the event claims they're hiring across the board due to the purchase of TRW's Sterling Heights plant last month.

When i arrived at the Marriott entrance on Big Beaver Road, the Troy PD had the hotel's driveways blocked off with flares and patrol cars. "What you see is what you get," the officer i hailed through my passenger window replied, and suggested i check out the nearby Community Center for parking.

Not knowing where it was, i went around the perimeter of the hotel property as best i could -- noting at least one neighboring property that had sealed off its own lot to prevent it being lost to overflow -- looking for options. Everywhere i looked were people in businesswear and longcoats, some trudging through snow in the sidewalk-free business district, others trying to cross four lanes of divided traffic in dress shoes while maintaining their hair and not dropping their handsome resume folders.

Thankfully the officer was right. Around the back of the hotel block, the Troy Community Center had not only taken on overflow parking, but had been added to the route of the Marriott's shuttle. In my case, the driver beeped to hail me just after i'd tucked the cuffs of my Hickey Freeman suit into my Red Wings and started trudging off into a roughly-hewn trail already blazed by the intrepid and desperate in the negative-ten (Fahrenheit, thank you) winter morning. I'd noticed the trail thanks to someone who was returning to the lot via the path.

"Are you coming from the Marriott?" I had asked, "The BAE fair? Is it open?"

"It's open," he'd replied, "but there are too many people!"

The shuttle driver said this was the most he'd ever seen.

"Fifteen thousand ... and that's not a joke number -- that's a real number."

"What's the capacity of a typical event at this facility?" I asked.

"Well when Hanna Montana was here ... at about midnight we had three thousand. ... I never thought i'd see more than that."

I guess Billy Ray's daughter has got nothing on British defense contractors.

"I'm surprised more people didn't take the subway," i'd joked after i got into the front passenger seat of the packed shuttle, "Oh, wait-- they tore that out 100 years ago so that we could have a strong economy. Somehow i forgot."

I try not to be bitter, but as i sit here in the hotel's steakhouse having my coffee and trying to get my bearings because the lobby barely has any room to stand -- let alone sit -- i'm sure some find that more difficult. Outside the temporarily quiet repose of the classy restaurant, there are thousands of people standing outside in a line so long that i'm not even sure it's a line, nor where it goes. I see men and women of every age and ethnicity. I see a man in a lovely conservative suit and a red turban. I see a man who looks like he's been working a factory job for fifteen years strapped into what might regrettably be his best tie. Thousands are standing there in utter professional civility in single-breasted pinstripes, stockings, hair gel, and/or uncomfortable shoes.

It's time to join them.

"Hey, everybody, despite what they tell you," i'd turned around to my fellows in the shuttle just before we got out of the van, "we're all in this together. Good luck."


Ann Arbor's "Drinking Problem": A Possible Diagnosis

I'm writing a rare public post in the hopes that it might get some attention from the larger audience of folks interested in analyzing and shaping the downtown and campus areas of Ann Arbor. At the very least, it might kick off some discussions about the nature of the issues at hand.

My post is inspired by a recent article pertaining to the controversy surrounding The Arena (a local sports bar) and the recently-formed grant-supported organization, "Ann Arbor Campus-Community Conversations" (A2C3). The article outlines some of the concerns that the University and City have about "excessive drinking" on and around campus, and about some of the initiatives -- both reasonable and questionable -- that may be afoot to address them. The article also quoted some related material from the popular website Ann Arbor Is Overrated (but failed to provide a link or URL), which seeks to humorously dispel oft-prevailing hype about the town, and light-heartedly raise awareness about some of its less-publicized shortcomings.

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Until then, everyone. Please link, discuss, and spread the word. I do, on my good days, still believe we can make a difference.