Palomar Observatory

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Vladimir Horowitz Playing Scriabin 12 Etudes Op.8 No.12

I got a letter from David A. this morning. If you like Messaien, you'll like Scriabin. I know little about music but my son Jacob teaches music composition at ASU and both are heroes of his. Some of it rubs off on me. Your story reminded me of a concert Jacob performed earlier this year called Death Poems.

This Horowitz guy ain't so bad either.


Yesterday was a very tough day for me. My experience with the BCG this round is very different than my earlier one of decades past. I guess the effects are cumulative and the nausea and discomfort was pretty extreme. And I am only in the middle of this drug regimen. Wednesdays are going to be a bitch for the foreseeable future. I guess it works by inflaming your bladder, gives the cancer cells a hot foot.

Thankfully I feel much better today.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Quatuor pour la fin du temps

I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of classical music is minimal at best. Which means that I still have the capacity to be captivated by something extraordinary.

We were listening to Stravinsky at Kip's yesterday when Blackburn asked the two of us if we were acquainted with the great French composer Messiaen? I had heard his name but was not really too familiar with his compositions.

Olivier Messiaen was a composer, organist and ornithologist. He was influenced by birdcalls, by gamelan, by Japanese music, Shakespeare, Greek and Hindu, amongst other things. He literally saw music as colors, a rare phenomenon known as synesthesia.

During the fall of France in 1940 he became a p.o.w. and composed the piece I heard yesterday while he was held captive in a German prisoner of war camp, the Quartet for the end of time. An amazing and revelatory work, especially when looked upon in context. This was a quartet for cello, piano, clarinet (in b-flat) and violin. He managed to secure instruments from his captors, no small feat, and performed the work with fellow prisoners for an audience of inmates and prison guards.
From Wiki: Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered World War II. He was captured by the German army in June 1940 and imprisoned in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany (now Zgorzelec, Poland). While in transit to the camp, Messiaen showed the clarinetist Henri Akoka, also a prisoner, the sketches for what would become Abîme des oiseaux. Two other professional musicians, violinist Jean le Boulaire [fr] and cellist Étienne Pasquier, were among his fellow prisoners, and after he managed to obtain some paper and a small pencil from a sympathetic guard (Carl-Albert Brüll, 1902–1989), Messiaen wrote a short trio for them; this piece developed into the Quatuor for the same trio with himself at the piano. The combination of instruments was unusual at the time, but not without precedent: Walter Rabl had composed for it in 1896, as had Paul Hindemith in 1938.
The quartet was premiered at the camp, outdoors and in the rain, on 15 January 1941. The musicians had decrepit instruments and an audience of about 400 fellow prisoners and guards. The cello was bought with donations from camp members. Messiaen later recalled: "Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension."
Brüll provided paper and isolation for composing, and he also helped acquire the three other instruments. By forging papers with a stamp made from a potato, Brüll even helped the performers to be liberated shortly after the performance. After the war, Brüll made a special trip to visit Messiaen, but was sent away and told the composer would not see him.
The work is approximately fifty minutes long.


I had my immunotherapy dose this morning. The previous infection is now gone so I was good to go. It was very rainy this morning, long ride to and from Hillcrest. Everything went well with the treatment.

On the way back I stopped at Ron's and did the required turns on my side and back so that the bcg virus could permeate all the nooks and recesses of my bladder.

Afterwards I went to New Balance to look for shoes. Didn't buy any, too expensive and the last pair are falling apart. I ate lunch in Carlsbad and then drove inland to the Nordstrom Rack to see if I could find anything cheaper.

Hopefully not getting too personal but at this point I really had to pee. You are supposed to keep the immuno stuff in for two hours and I was way past that. But I can't pee just anywhere. Why? Well, let me tell you.

Because my pee now officially qualifies as a hazardous material.

The paperwork I was given stressed that upon relieving myself, said toilet has to be disinfected with bleach. Pregnant women are at a slight risk for picking up tuberculosis if left untreated. I learned my lesson after the first session with the drug.

I stopped at a friend's restaurant and ate, then used the facilities. I suddenly remembered, asked for bleach and gave the toilet a cursory cleaning. But I reread the instructions when I got home and the bleach is supposed to sit for at least fifteen minutes. I frantically got a hold of my friend that night and he said not to worry and his son went over and sanitized the place with the full blown treatment. This is serious business.

It was an hour ride back to my office but it felt more like forever with a full bladder.

On my way to the store for Clorox.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Johnny Too Bad

Danny's Doughnuts

Once upon a time the New York Times said that Danny's Donuts in Vista had the sixth best doughnut in the United States, its blueberry. That was in 2013. Unfortunately, its founder, Danny, never lived to see the review.

Amazingly, it has taken me six years to check the place out. Mostly because they have screwed up the roads in Vista so bad, it is hard to navigate. Danny's is off Eucalyptus, near the old Pepper Tree Frostee.

I showed up on a Sunday two weeks ago and they were all out of the vaunted blueberry, all out of pretty much everything. The girl said that they had sold out three trays of the Times' favorite doughnut. I bought a couple pistachio instead.

They were very green, very cakey and very good, with a slight almond flavor.

Leslie and I went back on Sunday. They still had everything. The very nice girl helping us pointed us to her favorite, the custard filled cream puff, finished with powdered sugar. It was heavenly. We then tore apart another favorite, the apple betty, which is simply beyond words, it is so good. Bought some blueberry and pistachio too. Leslie, a chocophile, had to have a chocolate cruller. The lady misheard her, she got a chocolate cake instead. Next time.

Blueberry is good but the apple betty is the bomb. Their best selling doughnut, New York Times be damned. We are definitely going back to do a more thorough review in the near future. If you like to indulge in the gluttonous sin of doughnuts, Danny's is certainly worth the trip.

Danny's Donuts
102 Eucalyptus Ave
Vista, CA 92084
(760) 724-4637

Sunday, December 1, 2019

This wheel's on fire

Ditch your android?

So Apple is helping subjugate the people of China while Google chronicles your every fart, what is a responsible person to do?

Seriously, read the Roger McNamee article from the current issue of New Yorker, Big Tech's Big Defector. I am acquainted with Roger, have sold him some art, and he is definitely an amazing guy with an important message.
Androids are commonly equipped with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a magnetic-field detector; their sensors can calculate heart rate and count steps. This constant flow of information allows your phone to track whether you’re sleeping or awake; whether you’re driving, walking, jogging, or biking; whether you’re in the Starbucks on the ground floor or the lawyer’s office on the tenth...All modern smartphones—including iPhones—contain hardware that monitors users’ activities and locations. But McNamee and many experts argue that Androids are unique in the extent to which they collect and retain user information. Much of this data is collected even when a phone is off-line, then uploaded to Google’s servers and integrated into an archive that includes your search, Gmail, and Google Docs history. The Android platform finds information in your apps and your online activity, and often makes this information available to third parties, like advertisers. A user agreement also gives Google Assistant the right to record conversations that occur within earshot of the device’s microphone.
This is a clarion call, a very scary article regarding data collection and how our lives are being negatively shaped and recorded by our phones.