Sunday, January 22, 2012

on the road again

Taking to the sky once again and then to the van. We are riding around Boston, New York and Philadelphia this week and next in a white unmarked van, do not be alarmed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


This is the perfect music to brood to on a rainy day or reflect over when the world seems a grisly place. Some people say "listen to happy music to cheer yourself up," but I think it's more cathartic to listen to something somber.

I'm not feeling particularly somber today, just working and enjoying the simple strum of the guitar and Lhasa's soulful voice. (Well, this live performance has an upright bass -  yes!, and a harp!)

Sadly she died last January of breast cancer at only 37.

She embodied the kind of female spirit that I think we all admire: free, loving, creative. Her father was a photographer from Mexico and her mother was an artist. She grew up in gypsy fashion, traveling the US in the back of a converted school bus. She started singing from a young age, moved to Canada to be with her sister, released an album, quit music to join a theater company in France, then returned to recording. A short life, but a life well lived. Viva Lhasa!.

She has the sweetest smile. Doesn't she? Still inspiring from the other side. Viva Lhasa.

beauty secrets

The revolutionary product that the entertainment industry can't live without.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"an absolute legend.."

I have never seen an epic battle like this.
Two Chinese women’s volleyball teams duke it out like you won't believe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More on Synesthesia

I read Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet last week. The reviews for it were outstanding so I was expecting something phenomenal that would blow my socks off with insight, but there weren't many. Most of his memoir was a play by play of his life up to the age of twenty-six. It was interesting, but not ground breaking. Many of his experiences, which he described as if they were unique to someone suffering from autism, could apply to any child who had a terrible time in school and didn't make friends easily. Not to take away from his experience, because there were parts that really grabbed my attention, but overall I wanted to learn more about his experience internally.

In 2004, he set a record by recounting the infinite number sequence of pi up to its 22,514 digit. The feat took five hours and nine minutes. Imagine reciting numbers from memory for five hours. Insanity. As I learned earlier from the documentary (and book), he actually doesn't recite from memory, he sees the familiar landscape of the numbers in his mind and recounts them by their visual properties. This is the reason I am so fascinated by his synesthesia. It all comes down to one questions: Are his visuals of the numbers simply his personal experience or is there a larger connection between what he is seeing and the true nature of numbers?

He began sensing these numbers before he had any preconceived notions about superstitions, mathematics, or religion. So when his descriptions align with commonly held beliefs about certain numbers, I have to wonder if this is more than coincidence. For example, he describes 3 as rounded just like pi, 6 as a hole or void as in the Bible, unlucky 13 as ugly, and the divine 333 as beautiful. Coincidence?

Drawings by Daniel Tammet

Here is a more complete list of his numeral descriptions:

  • 1 is a blast of light.
  • 2 is a movement from left to right.
  • 3 is round and green
  • 4 is shy and quiet and blue
  • 5 is a loud sound like thunder clapping, yellow like lightening
  • 6 is so small it seems like a void, a hard number to experience, like tiny black dots, without distinctive shapes or textures, like gaps or holes
  • 9 is tall and imposing like a skyscraper, immense, blue
  • 11 is friendly
  • 25 is energetic and the "kind of number you would invite to a party"
  • 37 is lumpy like porridge
  • 23, 667, 1179 are big
  • 6, 13, 581 are small
  • 89 is like falling snow
  • 117 is tall and lanky
  • 289 is ugly
  • 333 is beautiful
  • Prime numbers are round like pebbles (2 , 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19,  23,  29, 31...)
Painting by Daniel Tammet of what two numbers look like multiplied. He sees the shape in between and recognizes it by its characteristics. That shape is a number. That number is the answer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

numbers on the brain

Last night we watched a really fascinating documentary called The Boy with the Incredible Brain.

The central figure was a savant named Daniel Tammet. He is known for the outrageous calculations that he can do in his head - surpassing calculator results. The real fascination, though, is that he is not calculating at all. He just sees the product of the equation in his mind. Not in numbers, but in abstractions. Numbers and their combinations manifest to Daniel as complex mobile landscapes. He sees their shape, movement, color, texture, sound and emotion! When he gives the answers to an equation, he says he is reading the landscape unfolding in front of him. 

They talked about when he was in grade school; he would just stand on the playground looking up at the trees and at the hopscotch numbers.

I remember an identical scene from Pi. The main character keenly observes the world around him, determined to figure out the number sequence that brings all of the mysteries of the world into focus. 

For Daniel, the daydreaming started to solidify. Without him knowing it (or maybe with him knowing it) all of the visual world began to translate into numerals, as if numbers were just simply another language, like Spanish or French, colors, shapes or bird tweets. Just another language.  

He describes how each number has a characteristic. (I found this fascinating.) 
One is a blast of light.
Two is a movement from left to right.
Five is a sound like thunder clapping
Six is so small it seems like a void
Nine is tall and imposing like a skyscraper.
Twenty-five is energetic and the "kind of number you would invite to a party".  
He has described 289 as particularly ugly, 333 as particularly attractive, and Pi as beautiful. 


The presence of six is perhaps, right off the bat, the most intriguing. He says that it is the hardest number to sense. He doesn't like it. It is small, almost like an absence of numbers, an abyss. In the context of the biblical reference to six, it's quite poignant. Six is the dreaded number; it is the mark of the beast. The beast in Revelations "ascendeth out of the bottomless pit," the abyss. Could there actually be an unsavory characteristic to the number six? Is there really a physical reason why it is the loathed number?

There is a name for an obsessive fear of six. It's called: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Word up.

Equally as interesting is Daniel's emotional connection to the beauty of pi, (which I am wearing around my neck now.)  He even painted it. 

Scientists performed a physical experiment to test his emotional attachment to pi, hooking him up to a machine similar to a lie detector, which evaluates your emotional response to something by monitoring temperature, sweat, nerves etc on the skin. They showed him the pi number sequence, secretly changing several random numerals.

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196

His emotional response was pleasant at first as he was scanning over numbers viewing the familiar landscape, enjoying the well-known terrain. Then out of nowhere his heart rate lurched. He started panicking. As he tells it, there were mountains missing and chasms where there shouldn't be. He was seeing a bastardized version of pi, and it disturbed him. 

Daniel is like a translator for a completely uncharted language. I have so many questions. What do the other numbers look like? Does 0 look like anything? Is it a number? If we all had this ability, would the numbers appear the same to us all or is this an individual experience? What numbers correspond with cancer? Can you use numbers for therapy like colors and frequencies? Is it possible to manifest numbers in a space with your own mind? Can you give a person a number? Would it affect them? Since computers are binary and composed of ones and zeros, do the characteristics of those numbers described by Daniel manifest in computers? Are they harmful? He says one is a blast of light. Computers certainly buzz with light that can mess with your melatonin levels. Do organic things have a different numeral make up than inorganic? Can you see the difference? Come hang out with me, Mr. Daniel!

Until then, he has written two books that might warrant a read: Born On A Blue Day and Embracing the Wide Sky

Also more brain clues from Jill Bolte

first picture = Daniel, rest are from pi = fyda

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 in music

I finally got a new ipod this year. (It had been a long two years since my last was stolen.) What was I using for music? I don't even remember...

This year has been characterized by some new music and the rejuvenation of some favorites. Here are my albums of the year:

1. Atlas Sound // Parallax 2. Andrew Bird // Nobel Beast  3. Alela Diane // To Be Still 4.  Detektivbyrån // Wermland  5. Little Joy // Little Joy  6. Television Personalities  // The Very Best of..  7. Beach House // Teen Dream  8. The Finches // Human Like a House 9. Alexander Ebert // Alexander

..and the old favorites that have had their time again in the sun..
1. The Kinks  2. The Animals  3. Small Faces   4. Steve Miller Band   5. Stealers Wheel  6.  The Velvet Underground