Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time for drastic action against global warming?...!

Here's a follow up article on MSNBC to my prior post on the 1,000 year effects of the last 100 years of burning fossil fuels...talking about the "what-if's" of the "do nothing" option...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If less is more, then more must be less...

I'm sorry, but I can't feel sorry for the folks who invested with the latest investment fund aka ponzi scheme charlatan. He was promising returns of 80% per year.

If you give your life savings to a guy like this expecting to make 80% returns, you are just plain greedy.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is a scam!

Any idiot can skim 30% per year on real estate in Aspen. That's about the highest legitimate return I've ever heard of. Beyond that, you'd better be doing your homework, and be practicing your baseball bat swing, low, like at kneecap level. And be prepared to lose it all, just like in Vegas.

A coffee can and a shovel might be the best investment these days.

P.S. You can do a 200% home run in Aspen, too. $12,500,000 in the lot, hard construction costs, engineering, architecture, soft costs...sales price $24.9 mil...that's pretty much 200% right?...except in that realm, the owner probably really only took $5.0 mil out of his own pocket, if even that much...the math tells us that's right around $2,000 per square foot on the sales price...yup...I'm not exaggerating...

Deep deep doo doo

Independence Pass::Colorado Photo by alex.tango.fuego...

For the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about an article (from 2006) I read in the New Yorker - letting it roll around up there and trying to figure out what I was going to say about it in here. Now that the scientific concept of this article is out in the media - the concept that the damage of global warming has, in effect, been done - I figured I would go ahead and write about it.

In less than one hundred years, fewer than twenty-five percent of the world's population has irreversibly changed our climate. Starting today, we could park every car, shutter every factory, and cease and desist the burning of coal and natural gas for our electricity, and it would take hundreds of years for our climatological systems to equilibrate to their natural order. The report in the media is saying one thousand years - but who really knows? It's definitely not years in scale, common sense tells us this. It's certainly not decades of recovery, but most likely centuries.

What's it to you? Some people might be tempted to say "Well, if we can't reverse the trend, then why do anything about it? Let's just keep on keepin' on." Harsher weather extremes will be the most rapidly evident manifestation. Bigger, more deadly, more frequent hurricanes born of a longer hurricane season. Spring thunderstorms that spawn more tornados. Tornadic activity in places that havent' experienced it in the past. Continued drought. These weather extremes will effect agriculture and food supplies.

Look for water rationing on the horizon, then entire cities completely running out of water. Dust bowl conditions leading to desertification of larger and larger areas. Acidification of the oceans. Continued reductions and diversity of fish populations. Melting of the Arctic ice cap. The breakup of the Antarctic ice shelf. Rising sea levels. Species extinction and the unforeseen ripples that will cause. The list goes on and on.

What struck me yesterday listening to this on NPR, is that if the industrialized world stopped everything today, it would still not be enough. The reality (which I've actually known for roughly 32 years now) is that there are too many people on this blue marble, using too many resources, producing too much waste, burning too much fossil fuel, to support a sustainable way of life. Sustainable as in the one thousand year time frame. We are short-timers, short-sighted, a short-minded bunch.

Are we so cocooned in our luxury high thread count sheets, so consumed with consuming, so involuntarily under the spell of avarice, that we don't care what happens ten or twenty or fifty or one hundred years from now?

I don't know what it all means. I don't pretend to have the solutions. I just know that somewhere in the last one thousand years, humankind collectively chose the unbalanced path. We choose the unsustainable path. We choose the path of least resistance, and highest degree of comfort, that causes the most damage. Most people are unaware. Some have their heads in the sand. Most don't or won't care. They'll continue with their pursuit of the almighty dollar and the American dream. I doubt that we can, as a global society, make the hard choice that are upon us. But then, I'm a pessimist.

Or is it evolution? Is this the natural course of things, of human existence on this planet, that we will be ultimately responsible for our own extinction?

I'm not the least bit worried about this economic crisis. We are just seeing the tip of the fiscal destabilization iceberg. What we see today is an ice cube compared to what lies ahead. It's actually a good thing. It's making us think about frugality in life. It's making us think about more important things in life.

There are bigger things that one trillion dollars to think about. There is the future of humanity...hopefully the human heart, soul and spirit will prevail...hopefully...hope...

Here is the article on MSNBC.

Here is the article, "The Darkening Sea", from the New Yorker.

Stay tuned for my "The end of life as we know it..." series.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I like oatmeal cookies...

I 'like' them, but I don't eat them very much. Why?

Because I feel like I'm cheating on the chocolate chip cookies that I love so much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sin titulo

Originally uploaded by leone.

From Leone Perugino, my flickr friend...I love this old stone building...

File this under "places I want to dance tango"...

La Pisadita :: Walter y Waldo

These guys are amazing dancers and teachers! Amazing!

Credit goes to Adam H for the find...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Whaan, whaan, whaan...

rock saw

everybody i know is dancing in houston right now...well...sleeping right, life and more life...being 'responsible'...have some shit that i must take care of ahead of tango right now...struggling with it...has tango been my escape from 'real' life...has tango been my escape from some unpleasantness that must be dealt with...i missed htf last year...and have been waiting an entire year to go...and now i'm not there...not dancing...suckage...

now must go rent a rock saw and get my ass to work...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When a man "out embellishes" a woman

First, thanks to TangoPilgrim for finding this one. There are a few things I like about this performance/demo. Like Pilgrim, I like the vals - Se Fue by Lucio Demare. I like that it is being danced in Sunderland - there's something cool/funky about dancing tango in a basketball gymnasium. I like that there are no baggy pants being worn in the video. I like (to think) that there are very likely no baggy pants in the entire building. I like that the style is salon/close embrace mas o menos. I like the dance, just dial down the jazz, if you ask me.

What I don't like is that he is "out embellishing" his follower. I read this tonight - something Daniel Trenner said - "The man's job is to let the woman dance."

Let's not forget this fellers. It's not about us or our steps or our figures or our patterns or our moves or even our lead.

It's about the woman - dancing her and letting her dance.

She's there, in your arms, to dance and have fun and feel beautiful.

Make it so.

BE the tango you wish to see in the world.

There is a beautiful woman in that may have missed her...

File this under "everybody knows this, right?" :: On Painting

Painting, as in house painting. Don't paint if the ambient temperature is going to drop below 40 degrees (F) at night. I prefer 45 or 50 degrees myself.

This assures proper curing and maximum longevity of the coating.

I'm surprised by how many people paint when it is going to drop down to, or below freezing (32F) at night.

When in doubt about any coating, adhesive, epoxy, or whatever liquid, gel, paste product...always read the instructions on the container.

The other day, I found out that standard plumber's putty is not suitable for using on acrylic tubs.


Monday, January 19, 2009

I am :: a man who appreciates music

My mom sent me to this today.

A man stood at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tugged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, of the thousands that passed by, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best violinists in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written for a violin on a violin that was worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize artistic talent in an unexpected context?

An interesting question drawn from this experience:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Here is the original article in the Washington Post.

In this example in D.C., had I been there, I would have been the only person who would have sat there, late for work or a meeting or whatever, and listened to the entire forty-five minute performance, and left everything I had on me as a tip.

That's the way I am.

I would like to believe that I don't miss much in this life.

And here is Joshua Bell playing Beethoven...

la treccia di Bogu

la treccia di Bogu
Originally uploaded by leone.

from my flickr friend in Italy...Leone Perugino...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Music :: Junior Brown

What a treat! Last night at Antone's...amazing artistry...entertainer by default...mind blowing technical ability as a guitarist...

The opening act was the Lucky Tomblin call these guys (and gal) 'musicians' is an understatement...almost an insult...I'm awed by the evolution of musical artists...from little absolute masters of their craft...

My wife thinks you're dead ::

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

File under "Good Wine"

Sometimes, this blog is simply a repository for my own purposes...

Grayson Cellars...Cabernet Sauvignon...

Now I can throw the empty away...

Playing with math :: Carbon Dioxide Emissions :: MY MATH IS OFF!


I was looking for data on total U.S. energy usage - something to validate the 5 terawatt figure I have rolling around in my head - when I ran across another troubling figure.

Annual CO2 emissions (from fossil fuels) in the U.S. are estimated this year at 5,981.5 million metric tons or tonnes. A tonne is 1000 kilograms or 2205 pounds.

I pull up a blank Excel spreadsheet to start doing the math - simple unit conversions.

So that's 5,981,500,000,000 or five trillion, nine hundred eighty one billion, five hundred million tonnes.

In pounds, that equals 13,189,207,500,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year. Thirteen quadrillion, blah, blah, blah pounds.

I decide to convert this into units I can get my head around.

The curb weight of one Ford Expedition is give or take 5500 pounds.

That equates to 2,398,037,727,273 [two trillion, three hundred ninety eight billion, thirty seven million, seven hundred twenty seven thousand, two-hundred seventy-three] Ford Expeditions [by weight, not volume], a figure that's still difficult to comprehend. Try writing a check out for that amount! Ha!

A Ford Expedition takes up a footprint of roughly 110.70 square feet. Those 2.398 trillion Ford Expeditions parked side to side, bumper to bumper, would cover 9,522,176 (nine million five-hundred twenty-two thousand one hundred seventy-six) square miles.

Still meaningless?

Imagine the State of Vermont covered solid with Ford Expeditions - in one layer. Or, try Travis County, Texas covered 10 layers deep with Ford Expeditions.

That's just for one year. The annual amount will continue to grow each year to 6800 million tonnes in 2030.

Just figure we are adding another layer of Ford Expeditions to the State of Vermont each year. In twenty years it would be twenty layers deep. Travis County would be 200 layers deep, or 1200 feet deep with Ford Expeditions.

That's just emissions for the United States.

Ready to reduce your carbon footprint now?

Yeah, that's it, you got it - go ahead and screw in your little fluorescent twisty bulb thingies. Bring your cloth sacks to the grocery store and don't use their plastic bags. String a clothesline. Set the thermostat to sweat in the summer and shiver in the winter. Upgrade your old fridgerator to an Energy Star model. Sell your car and ride your bike. Hell, go ahead and sell both cars. Sell your house or condo and move into a teepee, or a yurt. Erect a solar PV panel to power your computer and tiny refrigerator. Tend your energy usage to zero.

Go ahead and do it, do your part. It still won't be enough to make a difference. Why not? Because there are five billion other people on the planet who will never do it.

Houston, we have a problem.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Big Losers :: Playing with math

Let's say you invest $15 million in a fund or a company or something, and they are sending you statements that your investment has ballooned to $115 million, and then you find out the whole thing was a sham, or a ponzi scheme, or cooked books, or whatever.

How much money have you lost?

$115 million?


$15 million?

Cash losses versus "on paper" losses.

Perhaps you went to a bank and borrowed $20 million against your $115 million "paper" assets. Then you went and built a house in Aspen, bought and berthed a yacht in the Med, bought trophy wifey a $50,000 fur coat and spent another $1,950,000 to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed - furnishing the house, art, clothes, Hummers, Bentleys, mani's, pedi's, Jorge the pool boy and all that shit.

So I suppose now you are technically out $35 million. Your company is busted. Your real assets are being repo'd by the bank - the house is gone, the yacht, commercial buildings, equipment, the fur, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.

I wonder if trophy wifey is sticking by your side? Through good and bad, for richer for poorer, right?

I suppose things could get bad enough to throw yourself under a train. I dunno.


It's only money.

12 Tangos Adios Buenos Aires :: Documentary Film :: New Release in English



Trailer ::

La Cachila scene ::

Milonga de mis amores scene ::

4 Vampiros Bancos scene ::

Monday, January 5, 2009

Deep Tango Thoughts :: The Golden Age

On the subject of the Golden Age of Tango, and Golden Age tango music, and why it sounds so wonderful, and why no one today seems to be able to reproduce that sound...

Below is post I just made to a tango discussion group...recapping several prior posts by other members...and summing up with my own concept of "The Fifth Element" of tango...

As a side note, when I first started a blog, it was titled "Tango Quinta Essencia" or something like that. My intent at the time was to singlemindedly explore that elusive, mysterious aspect of tango. That quintessential element that makes it such an incredible experience. Not an incredible experience for everyone, but to the lucky and enlightened few. But I broadened the scope - and came up with "on life, tango and the universe..."

Here's the post...

To Pat's question about crucial elements that may be required to achieve the character and quality of Golden Age tango sound...recapping prior posts to help gel my own understanding...note that I am not a musician, nor have any special technical knowledge...I just know what sounds good, what moves me, and what doesn't sound good...

Critical Elements :: Interesting points made by posters [paraphrasing]

1] Zeitgeist - World/Social Context :: The time period during which the music was played...[Ron] 'Inflected' by world events and social mores of the time ... this cannot be reproduced...ever...

2] Space/Suspense :: Golden Age orchestras/musicians deliberately or unconsciously allowed for space, suspense, suspension, openness in the arrangements...versus modern orchestras/musicians (in general) not recognizing this, and hurrying the music, just as many/most dancers hurry their dance... [Tom]

3] Orchestra Dynamics :: The smaller size of orchestras today versus in the Golden Age, the larger size of orchestras and the increased number of violins and bandoneons provided a richness and depth to the sound...[Christopher, Myk] Inexperienced musicians without sufficient practice time and not enough emphasis on ensemble playing...[Christopher]

4] Subconscious Awareness :: The fact that the human mind 'knows' that this is no longer the Golden Age, and may impact how we 'hear' Golden Age vs. Modern Age tango... [Bruno] Were the listeners of the Golden Age as moved by the music then, as we are today? Who knows?

5] The Fifth Element :: Whether you ascribe to Ilene's 'magic' quality, an intangible that simply cannot be reproduced, or believe that there may be some other quintessential element, possibly metaphysical energy, which takes this 'magic' quality, and pulls in the Zeitgeist of that time. Add to the mix the emotional energy of the composers, orchestra leaders, and individual musicians - more musicians, more energy. Finally, top it off with the emotional energy of the dancers and listeners they were composing and playing for at that time. Let's just call it 'energy'. This had to be a profound influence, in my view.

I doubt that the sound and emotion of that music, from that time, can ever be reproduced. More importantly, why? Why even attempt to reproduce it? Not that Pat suggested this in the originating post, but there does seem to be a gentle undercurrent of a desire to somehow reproduce the sound. It's interesting to discuss and ponder, which I'm sure we all have, and will continue to do.

My feeling is to leave it alone. I'm not saying not to discuss or ponder it, but to let the music be what it is. Let the musicians of today create their own music - free in their own creative juices. They say "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but I think in this case, it is not. There is something very beautiful about spontaneous, unhindered, free flowing creativity. Let ColorTango be, and sound like, ColorTango. Let the others be and sound like themselves. When a painter today is commissioned for a work, hopefully the patron doesn't say "make it look like a Matisse..." - the patron wants the artist to create a uniquely individual, one-of-a-kind, work of art.

One of my favorite tango quotes is by Jorge Luis Borges. He said "The tango can be debated...but it still encloses, as does all which is truthful, a secret."

Let's keep that magic, that energy, that secret...let's keep it secret...

Or, you may ascribe to the philosophy that tango is "just a dance..."

Ilene also added a comment after my post about the recording technology of the time. No doubt that played a role as well - as compared to the digital recording technology in use today. There is good, skillful, highly crafted digital recording going on today, resulting in very rich sounding recordings and then there is the not-so-good.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Guess what this is a photo of...?
Photo by Alex.Tango.Fuego...

On Prison Reform :: Argentine Tango Therapy

In the past, for its shock value, I've jokingly referred to myself as a radically conservative ultra left-wing fundamentalist liberal extremist. Although, I don't think it's really a joke.

My views on prison and justice system reform are very similar to my views on capitalism, consumerism and government funding of failed private sector business models. Cash flow fuels the system. Profits fuel the system. Special interests fuel the system. Justice has absolutely nothing to do with it anymore. Prisoner rehabilitation has nothing to do with it anymore.

Prisons have in fact become a criminal welfare system. Prison is no longer a deterrent to crime, in fact, I would offer that in many cases, it is an incentive to commit crime. Want to get away from the nagging wife and whining kids? Bored with your job? Wanna kick back with the boys? Wanna hang out, work out, sleep a lot, get fed three square meals a day, read, watch TV, live the good life? Then commit a crime that will get you three to five years in the pen.

My beef with the system is that it doesn't work, and when something doesn't work, the solution is not to build more prisons and throw more money into the system and throw more people into jail to give the illusion that the system is now working "better".

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not pro-crime or criminal. I'm pro-justice. I'm pro-human rights. I'm pro-helping a man when he's down. I'm pro-helping a man be a better man. I'm also pro-education - which I believe to be another broken system that feeds into the criminal justice system.

I'm pro-fiscal responsibility and pro-social responsibility at the same time. I'm pro-death penalty and pro-rehabilitation at the same time. I think the system costs way too much money - mainly because there are too many people in the system. There are too many people who shouldn't be in the system, caught up in it because there were no therapeutic alternatives to prison. Mainly because most states don't make the prisoners work for their rehabilitation. And of course there is the graft and waste and inefficiency - always that to deal with.

There's one guy in the Senate who is speaking out on the topic - Virginia Senator James Webb.

Here is a New York Times editorial.

Here is a Washington Post article.

Oh, I almost forgot - re: the Argentine Tango Therapy, that was underhanded on my part - to entice you to read the entire post. Sorry.

But I have sometimes wondered if tango could rehabilitate a hardened criminal...?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Glover & Tosca :: Lambert's :: Tue Jan 13 & 20

Glover by Laura Burlton
Photo by Laura Burlton...

Glover told me last Tuesday that the full orchestra [meaning Tosca String Quartet] would be there on Tuesday Jan 13, and again on Tuesday Jan 20. The other piano player, Justin, is back from a tour in Europe and will be playing as well. Don't forget Chris Maresh on acoustic bass.

This of course means that Glover will be playing accordion!

This promises to be two nights of dancing tango to live music that you won't want to miss!

Why good dancers are good...

Practice, practice, practice...

You could file this one under "everybody knows this, right?".

A few posts ago, I talked about doing the hard work and being patient in one's tango journey. There is no magic pill or silver bullet in tango.

Here's a story I remembered the other day. It was told by a friend, who was visiting to teach a workshop in Aspen. He was in Europe, and had the opportunity to practice with the partner of a "famous" tango dancer. She said something to the effect of "You wanna practice later?" to him. It was mid-day, so he figured they would practice for a coupleafew hours in the afternoon.

They started dancing around 3pm in the afternoon. Their practice progressed nicely, working on a multitude of "stuff". Intense stuff, various stuff, taking breaks here and there - talking, eating, drinking, resting, dancing.

They finally called it quits at 3am the next morning.

He also told me that this "famous" dancing couple, before an upcoming performance, practices more or less for six hours a day for three or four weeks prior to the big day. Granted, this is a professional tango couple, and they have the luxury of time which most of us don't. My point is this - we mere mortals might think that because they are pros, that they don't need to practice/rehearse that much - that they can get out there and just dance to "wow" levels. But this is precisely why they *are* world class tango dancers - because they practice and do the hard work for many many hours a day - and it never stops. It doesn't stop after a year or two, or three. Ten or twelve or fifteen years down the road, they are still keeping up this pace and level of effort. Well, maybe it does taper off somewhat as the years go by, but you get my drift.

Again, the vast majority of us don't have the luxury of this amount of time to dance, and the vast majority of us aren't interested in becoming professional touring tango teachers/performers. But it helps to illustrate the point of practice and hard work in becoming "good" at something you love, or improving to whatever level you desire for yourself.

I'm not practicing nearly enough these days. I'm not dancing nearly enough. Not to be improving my dance at the rate at which I'd like it to be improving. A two hour practica on [most] Sundays, minus my favorite practice partner who is out due to an injury, plus a few tandas a week in milongas. That's about it. A year ago, I had set a goal to practice with my partner 3-4 hours a week. I was never able to manifest that. It was high on my list of priorities, but low on hers.

I'm pondering my New Year's resolutions... and wondering about this one...

Meanwhile, almost everyone I know is having a grand time at the San Diego Tango Festival this weekend.