dailybell2008: 5/18/08 - 5/25/08

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Third Week of May

5/17 AM Trio for Bells and Bird
It is Saturday morning so I stayed at home for the sunrise and recorded audio only. Norman rang from inside the house and I tapped on the glass to cue him when to start and stop. It was a nice little trio with the two of us ringing bells and that one very insistent bird.

5/18 AM Can anyone tell what kind of bird this is?
I recorded another quiet, very foggy morning out back with that one persistent bird. Anyone recognize this song?

5/18 PM Schultze Gets the Blues, We Got the Bells
We had dinner at our friend Mardi’s house and then watched the movie “Schultze Gets the Blues”. Just before we started the movie, we rang bells in the living room. A few of the people got cut off because I put the camera on the television and it wasn’t far enough away to include everyone.

5/19 PM LATE LATE LATE.
I don’t know what’s happening lately, but I was 8 minutes late this evening. Norman asked me about the sunset or I would have continued to be preoccupied. Thanks, Norman. It was still a bit light out, although the fog had never burned off and it was dim. Here's an audio recording from the evening, for a change.

5/20 AM Just Fog
When I woke up, that one little bird was peep…peep…peeping away- close by and strong. As soon as I went outside to record, he took off and so we are left with the sound of the garbage trucks and street cleaners. And the one streetcar making its way to the beach.

5/20 PM Bells and Blessings
These are the people in my mediation group. We meet every Tuesday night and sit with our teacher Howie Cohn. Each week, we follow the same schedule so that at around 8:15, we take a short break between sitting and discussion. This is a very small window of opportunity for everyone to ring bells at sundown. There might be two days in the whole year where the sundown coincides with this little break. Tonight was one of them.

5/21 PM Imposing on Our Guests...(Again)
One more instance of imposing on our houseguests. Sorry guys. We walked across the street to where my car was parked at sundown and rang a few bells before dinner. Short and sweet and SO windy!

5/22 AM Absence
Linda and Lamar are leaving this morning so this is our last morning to ring together. Linda brought her bell from her home over 3000 miles away so she could ring it at sunrise here.. When I woke up at 5:45, Linda was already up and ready. Usually I straggle out of bed in the dark and stumble around by myself, so it was so nice to see someone standing there, bell in hand, ready to go. Encountering someone more awake than myself made me realize how UN-awake I really am at that hour. I can’t really talk or see, and if I didn’t lay everything I need out the night before, I wouldn’t be able to remember where anything was or what I should actually do. Fortunately, the bells were on the table, next to the minidisk recorder. Force of habit had the cell phone in my pocket and I just had to say’ “Let’s go out back”. Which we did. That little bird wasn’t there this morning so it was quieter than usual, and Norman, Linda and I rang the bells. I was so grateful for that moment. I realized how much I will miss my friend, Linda when she goes home. And in that moment of anticipating the absence, Ann was there.

5/22 PM Great Concert, But Where Are the Women?

Tonight was the final concert of the Electronic Music Program at San Mateo Community College. These are Krys Bobrowski’s students, and this is the 4th year in a row I’ve been able to attend. I love these concerts. Bravo Krys and congratulations to everyone. Thank you all. One observation I must mention is that out of 20+ performers, there was only one woman. This is by no means an isolated occurrence. Any ideas about why so relatively few women are involved in composition and electronic music in general?

5/23 PM Another Divine Evening

Dinner with Liz and Norman at Café Divine again. It was so cold that Norman stayed and rang his bell inside the restaurant while Liz and I went outside. Short and sweet and chilly.

Friday, May 23, 2008

End of the Ferry Saga?

5/16 AM We Broke the 6 AM Barrier

Stephen (the driver of the Baylink bus) and I rang bells this morning to an attentive audience of birds. Today’s sunrise was at 5:59 AM and getting earlier…

5/19 AM San Francisco Summer Sunrise

Monday morning at the Ferry Terminal. Stephen, the driver was there but was off taking a walk while I rang the bell. We spoke afterwards, and I asked him if he would ring the bell on Wednesday morning because I wanted to walk away and hear what the bell sounds like from a distance. He said OK, and I’m looking forward to that.

5/21 AM A Rude Awakening?
My friend Linda and I have known each other since High School. When I was towing the big bell around the country in 2006, I stopped by to visit Linda and her husband Lamar in Maryland. We hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and it was like no time had passed except that we looked so much older. Same voice. Same laugh. Solid connection. We decided to stay in touch, and they finally came out to visit Norman and I in San Francisco. So, I woke Linda up at 5AM and we went down to the Ferry Terminal. The Baylink bus was there but we didn’t see the driver. I had been expecting that Stephen would ring the big bell in the back of the car so I could wander around and listen to it from different distances. While I was setting up, I suddenly noticed someone sleeping on the bench, resting his upper body on a big suitcase that was also on the bench. He looked like he was waiting for an early, early bus. Sound asleep. I felt a little bad about waking him up but kept on getting ready. When it was time, we rang the bells and I wandered around with the ship’s bell and the camera. From far away, I saw the driver approach Linda and saw her offer the bell to him. He obviously refused and I headed back there to let see what was going on. As I passed the formerly sleeping man, he smiled- a big smile and said good morning and thank you. His spoke with an accent and I thought that he was from somewhere else and that maybe he thought that this is how we did it in America. Somebody came down to the water and rang bells at sunrise to wake up the people sleeping in public. I found it hard to believe that he really did seem to appreciate and enjoy the bells. As I got closer to the car, I saw the driver was not Stephen. Linda didn’t know that though, and when the man had approached her she said, “Oh I’m doing your job”. And of course he hadn’t the faintest idea what she was talking about but tried to accommodate her none-the-less. He rang a little bit, but he wasn’t really comfortable. I wonder where Stephen was.

5/23 AM Baylink Bus On Holiday Schedule

No Baylink bus at the Ferry Terminal today. I was so surprised. Then I thought that maybe it was because of the holiday weekend. Sure enough, the Baylink is on a holiday schedule . This means that it will still be the same schedule on Monday and that the bus won’t be at the Ferry Terminal until 8:00 in the morning. So I never got a chance to say goodbye to Stephen, the regular driver since he wasn’t there on Wednesday either. I go to New York on Tuesday and the sun will be rising at 5:47AM by the time I get back. We’ll see if the bus arrives that early…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finally, thebellproject disappears


One morning after returning from the Ferry Terminal, I got a wild hair and decided to update the blog information on the side of the car. I ran in the house, got some soapy water and washed only as much of the car as I needed to in order to change letters. I realized that I didn't have enough B's or L's so I could only do one door without manufacturing letters from parts of other letters. Since it was 6:30 in the morning, I decided to do it later. Much later, most likely. It is nice to have at least one side of the car with the most recent (and correct) information on it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Second Week of May

5/8 AM This Bird is Here Every Morning


LISTEN to one very persistent little bird.

5/9 PM More neighbors

The children from a few doors down came running out of the house as we were ringing the big bell in the car. They were so excited and they took turns ringing and ringing.

5/10 AM Just Listening


LISTEN to Saturday morning walking around in the backyard. It was a quiet, easy start to the day.

5/10 PM Celebrating Mothers' Day with Bells and Rock Band
Our next-door neighbors invited us out for Mothers’ Day dinner. Helen and her mother are both mothers. It turned out that Helen’s son, Jerry’s birthday was tomorrow. AND he will graduate from college next week. He will be 27. It was an honor to be invited to celebrate with them. It’s hard for everyone to communicate in their house since Helen’s mother only speaks Cantonese and Jerry only speaks English. Helen is the only one that understands what everyone is saying. Jerry understands the things his grandmother repeatedly tells him like – “He doesn’t work hard enough”. “He’s lazy”and other such encouraging statements. We finished the meal just in time to ring some bells out in front of the restaurant while Norman went to get the car.
Then Jerry invited us back to his room to play a video game called “Rock Band”.
Jerry is about to graduate from school with a major in communications and broadcast. For as long as we have known him, he has played video games. A lot of games and a lot of time. For years, if we woke up in the middle of the night, we would see his light on in the basement next door. He played all night. While going to school he worked in the summers beta testing video games. So when he invited us over to play, we were excited and curious.
The game has drum pads, guitar and a microphone for interfaces instead of a computer keyboard or joystick. Once we got familiar with the interfaces we played a few song. We were pretty terrible. At first we couldn’t even finish a song (you get points for rhythmic accuracy- at least in the easy mode). But we persevered and managed to get through Roxanne and “Gimme Shelter “(both selections from the easy menu). Norman was our singer; Jerry played drums, which is the only one of the interfaces that demands real and comparable skill to playing the actual instrument. Norman and I switched interfaces in the middle of the game so that I ended up playing the guitar with the long black haired wild man avatar and Norman was the gladiator woman. It was fun. I sure hope Jerry can find a job doing this.

5/11 AM Can't see, Might as Well Just Listen

I set the microphone in the backyard and then walked through the garage to the sidewalk out front where I and rang the ship’s bell. Pretty streetlights going out as I looked away.

5/11 PM Calling All Bells

Mardi called up about 15 minutes before the sun was due to set and asked what time we would be ringing bells. In twelve minutes, I told her. So I grabbed some bells and Norman waited on the sidewalk out front. She must be a fast walker because we still had a few minutes to set up the camera and choose bells before the sun went down when she arrived. My car was parked pretty far down the block so we treated a new neighbor to the loud-ish bell experience. I could see them through their living room window, and they didn’t seem to mind.

5/13 AM Dead Christmas Tree

Hopped out of bed, grabbed those old camel bells and started to hurry out the back door. As I was rushing past the bed, Norman asked for a bell so I ran back and snatched the loud and clear bell from Tijuana. Zip and zoom. Out and in. That was an energetic one.

5/14 PM Showtime and Sundown
Thea Farhadian performed at the Meridian Gallery this evening. It’s such a beautiful building and they are currently showing work by the interns and the teachers in the Intern Program.The Interns works are amazing and for sale. If you live in the Bay Area, go there and check it out. Thea’s concert was wonderful. She performed on her laptop using MAX/MSP and I know that she had been living in technical hell all week. But everything seemed to be working and she played for an hour. The piece, entitled “Tattoos and Other Markings” was surprisingly classical in structure and can be heard from this link. I loved it. Thank you and congratulations, Thea.

Since 8:00 performances usually begin 10- 15 minutes late, and the sunset was at 8:12, I had planned to sit in the back and quietly slip out to ring the bells and then return to my seat. However, when I mentioned the plan to Thea, she invited me to ring the bells before her performance and to include the audience. Tom Bickley who is the curator of the program made the introductions and we rang the bells. It was so lovely. Adria Ott who had rung bells with the interns this past winter shot the video. Thank you everyone!

5/15 PM Goodnight Bob
Going through Bob’s stuff in Sonoma. It was very, very hot today. 104°F. We ate dinner in the town of Sonoma and then walked around town, got some ice cream and went home. We spent the day going through Bob’s stuff- papers making categories for the papers mostly. Bob had often warned us that one of the dangers of growing old was “hardening of the categories”. Well, Bob certainly didn’t leave his things organized into any particular categories. I would say he was fluid about his categories right to the end. While happily avoiding a misc. category, we ended up with many, many others as we sorted through his papers: writings, other people’ writings, original artwork, patent, archival and original documents, medical, musings- (mostly scraps of paper), schedules, lists of names, correspondence, accolades, Clear Lake museum, Osher Fellow, Exploratorium exhibit lists, memories and improvements, etc. Spinning like your mind, I miss you, Bob. Here are a few links to Bob’s life and work:
Bob Miller's Light Walk
Reminiscence of an Explainer
Asymptotia- Remembering Bob Miller

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Miscellaneous Musings

Treading Water...
I have yet to finish writing about my speculations on why we are afraid of strangers in public (or at least some strangers- OK, maybe it's just me). It's more difficult to articulate than I thought it would be, so in the meantime, I'd like to share some light musings and observations about the weather as well as a photo of interest from Peter Richards.

It is a navigational device used to focus the sound of the bell at the end of a pier in SF. When the sound of the bell got really loud out in the fog you knew where you were.

Entry from 5/12 PM Why It's Cold Here

After dinner Norman and I walked down the street to the Walgreens for some snacks. It looked so nice outside. Springy. But it wasn't. We passed a couple coming out of their house and they looked at us as we walked by and simply said, “Cold”. It’s not the east coast. True. But on the east coast, the temperature generally matches expectations. Buildings are heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. If it’s cold during the day, it’s usually a bit colder at night. If it’s hot during the day, it’s most often a little cooler in the evening. Winter, cold. Summer, hot. Spring and Fall transitional. But not out here. The people who are always cold are usually from the east coast, and we are cold because our expectations are unrealistic for the Bay Area. No matter what it’s like during the day, in the evening it’s freezing. In the summer, it’s really cold because of the fog. The reason it’s foggy is because it’s super hot everywhere else and that heat sucks in the ocean air and smears it all over San Francisco. In fact it’s hardly ever hot here. It just looks like it’s warm because it looks like summer or spring. It’s spring light or summer light (on the rare days you can actually see the sun). And the light fools you into expecting a corresponding seasonal temperature. Anyway, we paused on our walk long enough to ring the bells and take a little movie of the windows across the street as they caught the last bit of that warm looking sunlight.