Day 75: Two Scientists, Three Musicians, and Magic

I find Russ relaxing under a redwood tree. He looks pretty good for someone who was in a plane crash this morning.

During low-speed taxi (safely on the ground), his plane hit an airport vehicle, wrecking the nosewheel and causing some other damage. To the passengers, it felt like a crunchy mellow brake malfunction. They were all moved onto an undamaged plane.


Russ resisted the temptation to inflate his life vest, but just barely.

Now Russ and I are standing outside an unmarked building in the technology core of Sunnyvale. After a few minutes, we’re joined by Dave and two other musicians, and we head inside.

It’s time for a little magic.

Once we’re past the security mechanism, we’re met by ████, who is the CTO of an organization called ███ ███████. We’ve got questions for him about devices to read EEG (brain signals) and do some analysis on them in real-time.

He brings us into his office, which is filled with circuit boards, cables, open-case computers which are running, and even a █████ ████, which we probably weren’t supposed to see. There are prototypes on the desk and on the floor. This is my kind of CTO.

The conversation is fascinating, going from developments in the 1930’s to current commonplace technology, and even his visions of far-future advances where hardware won’t be needed at all. And he’s serious. And I think he might be right.

Russ puts the device on. We can see a graph of his tension level, his eye movement, and some jumpy indications of how likely he is to start swearing at us. He tries to control one of the graphs.

We each take a turn. I try to control one of the graph lines , trying to settle it all the way to zero. Russ was able to do this, but it’s not easy. Finally, out of whimsical curiosity, I try thinking of a particular image. The graph sinks to the bottom and stays there. As long as I hold this picture in my mind, I’ve got perfect control and the needle never moves.

What’s the picture? I’m not telling. Besides, it probably won’t work for anyone else. Now that I know, though, I’m going to try using it in everyday life to do… well I don’t know what. Maybe that’ll become clear.

After our excellent meeting, we talk about plans over some Thai food.

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Somehow, music fits into everything we’ve seen this morning. Dave knows how.

During lunch, we notice a local gym has set up an information table.

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I’m sure they’ve got the word “sis” on a little sign somewhere.
They should probably find it pretty quick.

It’s Wednesday, so flying trapeze is next. (You can see more trapeze details here.)

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…and this blurry object is Charles, showing off trampoline superpowers. The non-blurry object is Kelsey.

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Random assertion: Any plane crash you can walk away from is definitely a good one.

Steganographic data: 1824/1.2

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Published in: on August 3, 2008 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Day 14: Fog and Dangerous Music

So I’ve started collecting albums by “Musicians who have been denied entry to the United States.” I picked up Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse today, and I already have Cat Stevens… still need Axel Willner’s band… got any more? I’m looking for recommendations.

Why? Maybe it has to do with attraction to things you’re being protected from. Anyway, it’s fun, and the music’s good.

This morning’s sunrise was somewhat less brilliant than Wednesday’s

…but the funny thing about San Francisco weather is that a 10-minute drive in any direction (I chose North) will usually get you this:

Microclimates are awesome.

Had lunch with a good friend and talented acrobat in Mill Valley who wants to remain anonymous. (She’s an art dealer in the daytime.) I tell you, we’re everywhere.

(Hey wait, is that a picture of a golf course?)

Here’s something you didn’t expect me to say: Golf is fun.

Even though your feet are on the ground, and your life is hardly ever in danger, it’s fun anyway.


Running a probability analysis of this driving range would make you a nerd.

My muse taught me to play; you can clear your mind completely, or think about how unlikely it is that the ball could ever actually find its way to the hole by natural means. The courses in and around SF are excellent.

After stopping in at work to visit some friends, I found my muse at one of the best places in the city, Mission Beach Cafe.

You need to eat here. These guys run a fantastic restaurant, small and comfortable, with unbelievable food. She also likes it because she can flirt with the cute waiters.

Random assertion: If all women had voices like Jenna Mammina, men would be utterly defenseless.

Steganographic data: 1876/1.8