Alia jacta est: the new CatSynth HQ

Well, we at CatSynth can finally say with confidence we have a new home. In just over a week, we are moving to the South of Market (SOMA) district of San Francisco. Expect to read more about our new neighborhood in coming weeks.

This will be a real “city life,” quite different from the last few years. Perhaps we will get to “live the bohemian life” like our friends Kashim, Othello and Astrid. Of course there are the many arts and music opportunities, lots of good food and drink, and friends only a few transit stops away. And I enjoy just walking down city blocks, like I often have in New York. Indeed, I have often thought about making the move to the city. And now it is happening. The experience to get there has been far more difficult and challenging than I imagined, and it's not over yet. But it is getting closer…

2007 farewell

Today we bid farewell to one of our most difficult, anxious and unhappy years, certainly the worst since 2001/2002.

2007 started quietly and optimistically, but we watched things fall apart quickly, and not just for us, but for friends and family as well. Certainly, there were high points, too. And CatSynth has been one of them. But for many of us, I think, this year could not have ended soon enough.

And while turning a page on a calendar does not change things, we hope for at least some sense of a new beginning…

CT 11, unfinished projects

Highway 11 in Connecticut is a north-south freeway connecting a major route from Hartford to, well, nowhere. So one moment, you’re happily traveling south on a nice country highway, and then the next moment, you better exit before it turns into a large dirt track and ditch. Or at least that’s the impression I get, having never been there.

It’s quite dramatic, as can be seen in these aerial photos from Greg Amy (we saw a few of his photos before when visiting Yale and New Haven, CT).

It kinda looks like someone just stopped building the highway one day, and forgot to come back and finish. The story, as described on Kurumi’s website and other sources, is that the project simply ran out of funding, and then ran into opposition, though it sounds like plans are now in the works to complete highway 11 to the New London area.

However, the details of CT 11 aren’t really the focus of this article, but rather it serves as a metaphor for the many unfinished projects here at CatSynth. These include:

Finishing my album 2 1/2. There are a few tracks left from this project last Februrary that need to be replaced before releasing the album. I still think I’d doable by late November, but so far I haven’t been able to work much on it during this period of “free time.” Technical problem with my “studio PC laptop” provide at least one excuse.

Although I have been doing work all along on Open Sound World, mostly to support my own music, it’s been quite a while since I have done a full-blown release of the software. It’s hard to feel motivated when most of the feedback reads like this. However, the core software (minus the old user interface) is really solid and musically useful, and I do plan to announce a new direction for the project “real soon.”

I need to do some revisions to my professional/artistic website. At the very least I need to get the performance schedule updated – fortunately, it is already up at MySpace. The goal is to bring it more in harmony with CatSynth and rest of my websites.

I purchased one of the last Kittenettik Fyrall kits from Ciat Lonbarde, but have yet to assemble it. I guess I’ve been waiting to find the right “space”, both literally and figuratively, to do this. If I get on it soon, I might have it done in time for Woodstockhausen.

And of course there are several large articles waiting to be completed and published here at CatSynth, particularly CD reviews, film discussions, and travelogues.

But then again, maybe it’s not so bad that I’m spending time looking for employment.

Seven Strange Things About Me

Well, we (or rather I) got tagged by Megan and The Bad Kitty Cats with the meme Seven Strange Things About Me. This was almost two weeks ago, though we at CatSynth remember it like it was yesterday…

OK, so I decided to dust off the list of interesting facts about me from my music-and-professional site. It's supposed be the sorts of facts that would not appear in an official bio, program notes, or in the normal course of writing for this site. A few of them needed updating, like switching the career-related stuff to the past tense. I added a few more as well, pushing the total up to 95. And from that list, I selected 7 that I have deemed to fit the “strange” requirement:

05. I have never been to Kansas, but have visted every state that borders Kansas.
11. I call myself a cynical optimist.
32. I have a large orange stuffed clownfish named “Big Fishy”.
46. I once slept in a car and discovered the next morning that another car only yards away was ripped open by a bear.
62. I used to regularly listen to Stockhausen while having a bagel and coffee and reading the Sunday New York Times.
70. I am fascinated by crumbling concrete walls, graffiti, vacant lots, the spaces around highway overpasses/underpasses.
73. I have camped in Death Valley during the summer time. The daytime temperature was over 120F, and the night temperature was about 90F.

Hey, the requirement was “strange”, not necessarily “exciting”.

So the next step is to tag some more of our blogging friends with this meme (hopefully they're still my friends after I do so):

1. Meeyauw.
2. Gattina (of Gattina's Writer Cramps)
3. Jason of Xenogere
4. Jellypizza (I know, that's two in less than one week, but I'm curious to hear the results).

Bears, you're on notice!

Bandwidth and image stealing

A few months ago I noticed some surprising links from a site called neopets.com. Turns out a few users there had appropriated this October-themed image of Luna for their own works. In the case of one neopet user, she was labeled as “Brokenessence: darkhearted girl”. Another user at neopets even got her gender wrong and impugned her honor by declaring her some male dark demon character.

Regular readers know how I feel about demonizing black cats, but that's not what this article is about. It's about the appropriation of images and the corresponding bandwidth from this site. The image in the example above now carries the “catsynth.com” label, as do most of my own images used on this site – some of the art photos carry my name and a date, but the idea is still the same.

But the issue also extends to the images appropriated for this site from others, e.g., the many “CatSynth pics” contributed by others. They have been used at other sites not by copying them, but linking directly back here, thus I end up serving these images to their sites using my bandwidth costs. And they don't even link back here. For those who link back and bring more people to CatSynth, I'm generally OK eating the bandwidth costs. But for those who just grab images from this site, that's just plain stealing.

The worst offenders appear to be forums – blogs and other sites are usually good about copying the images to their own locations and/or linking back. It's the forums where people dash off a random post with an image from CatSynth that are the problem. And this month these forum sites are the most common “referrers”, even though they don't link back.

The biggest offenders for July are:

low-bee.com, where someone used a pic of Mimì.
punkas.com, where I'm paying for a good laugh at a lolbush pic (though I do approve of people ridiculing W).
biggie.co in New Zealand, again serving up a lolbush.
therocksalt.net – looks like lolbush again.
And of course the long-term offender detroitluv.com.

I will probably from now on post the biggest (monthly) bandwidth stealers at least once per month.

While I am happy to see people use images from this site to link back, or to ridicule “W”, I don't appreciate serving up images for free. The bandwidth so far hasn't really cost me much, but it's a lot of work to keep this site running, including the many images which make CatSynth such a rich and rewarding place to visit.

If you want to use an image from this site, please link back and give us credit. Failing that, at least copy it to your own site or one of the popular image hosting sites like photobucket or imageshack (I use ImageShack for sites where I don't have real storage space, like MySpace).

Live from Berkeley, Part 1

Tonight's posts are coming to you from Berkeley, my home for six years while I was a grad student at the university. I was invited up for a two-day mini conference by my former colleagues at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies and the recently created research group for parallel computing (aka “the View from Berkeley”). The interesting technical topics will have to wait for some other time – though I can't imagine the EECS faculty would enjoy seeing their research reviewed by a blog about cats…

For now it's simply worth noting that I'm sitting out with my laptop and a hot cider at an outdoor on a summer night. It's one of many things to miss from this much larger town, even as conference participants told me how lucky I was to now be living in Santa Cruz. I of course enjoy the ocean and the interesting cast of characters in my current home, but regular readers also know that I often miss being in a more urban environment…

It is interesting to compare Berkeley and Santa Cruz. Berkeley is much larger, more urban and culturally vibrant, better food, and spectacular streets to wander in the hills – stay tuned for more on that in part 2. Santa Cruz has the ocean, it's calm laid-back character, and an interesting community of creative and artistic people. Interestingly, Berkeley had little to no “night-life” in terms of live music and clubs during the time I was there. The nightlife in Santa Cruz is nothing to brag about, either, but it does have several live music venues that have managed to stay open despite the best efforts of residents to close them down – I never understand why people who hate nightlife live in downtown areas. In any case, almost every place in Santa Cruz closes by 10pm except a few clubs/bars, while in Berkeley things at least stayed open until 2am or later. I'm not sure one can conclude much from this comparison, except that either town would be a better place to live than most…

Not too much interesting to describe from a travel point of view, unless you count the Bay Bridge, which I don't think I have drivin in quite a while. There is a lot of contruction on the San Francisco approach, it looks like they might be trying to fix the remaining “errors” left over from the earthquake and subsequent demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway. With the changes to the 101 freeway described in a previous post, the 80/101 corridor might start to look civilized.

Then there is of course the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge (to replace the current seismicly dubious eastern span), which remains under construction. I wonder when they're planning to finish that…

Worthless Kitty Backfill: Do-le-mite

I was working on a Memorial Day post, but I couldn't find a photo of Hillary at the parade today in Chappaqua (my home town). In the meantime, enjoy this video clip from the 1975 cult movie Dolemite:

Worthless Kitty Interlude: "Stop (just about everything you're doing)…"

From Corey Anderson at American Idle:

Stop (just about everything you're doing) in the name of love

Take that, MC Rove! W's band has a major Motown hit and an aardvark!

Only 634 days…


Worthless Kitty Interlude: 1990 and 2041

I was listening to the radio last night on the way home, and the program host was referring to an event 17 years ago, in 1990. Some thoughts:

1990 is 17 years ago, or half a lifetime ago.
2007 will be half a lifetime ago in 2041.
In 2041, I will be 68 years old.

many cats can live to 17 years or more

my grandfather (on my mother's side) died at age 68 in 1982.






Worthless Kitty Musings: Brakhage and Bast

I have been viewing on and off a collection of short films by Stan Brakhage. Brakhage was a very prolific and influential maker of short experimental films. Most of his films have little or no narrative, and in many cases are made from images created directly on the film (i.e., not filmed with a camera), as in the case of thethe frame from Resurrectus Est shown to the right. Most of the films are also silent, leaving the viewer to focus exclusively on the images.

One of the films that intruiged me was Cats Cradle, originally done in 1964. Basically, it consists of a series of clips of a black cat interspersed with separate closeups of a man and a woman (apparently there were two couples in the film, but was not able to see this as I was watching). The cuts are frequent and the lighting/tinting is an amazing shade of red/magenta. It really is hard to describe, though you can find a better attempt here. An interesting suggestion is that the film can be seen as the “cat's perspective” on the couple.

The film definitely has a sexual feel to it, though there are no explicitly sexual images (discounting the fact that juxtaposing images of a woman and a man usually adds some sense of sexuality). How does the cat fit into that overall sense? Juvenile word-associations aside, cats have a history of association with (female) sexuality and fertility, most notably through the Egyptian goddess Bast. Bast is definitely a goddess for my personal pantheon, and I've been looking for an excuse to use her in a post on this forum. Bast has quite a resume, as the protector of cats, women and children, also associated with perfume, fertility, love, music and dance. It is interesting to consider Cat's Cradle in the context of Bast, even as a tribute of sorts, although I have no basis to assume Brakhage had such an association in mind. Though looking through his filmography, i think he was fond of cats.