dailybell: 9/21/08 - 9/28/08

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall Equinox

Misc. Info

On Monday, September 22 Autumn begins as the sun crosses the equator on it’s way towards the Southern hemisphere. If you live at the equator, the day will be divided into 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. However, because we are roughly 40˚ north of the equator, we won’t experience our day of equal light and darkness for another 4 days. On September 26th, if you live in San Francisco the sun rises and sets at 7:01. For those of you who live in New York the sun rises at 6:47 AM and sets at 6:46 PM. Depending on where you live, you can check out http://www.sunrisesunset.com to figure out which day you will have equal amounts of light and darkness where you live.

Mid September- Out and about

9/12 PM Children and Puppies at Sunset
There was a lot of activity across the street this evening. With children and new puppies running around, it looked like a good opportunity to go say hello to our neighbor. We could also get a look at our house from a distance with its partially applied, fresh coat of primer. Jesse, the painter had asked us to tint the primer with a touch of the house color. Now all the little girls on that side of the street love our house. This particular shade of purple is their second favorite color (pink being #1). They proceeded to show off their pink and purple sparkles, T-shirts and shoes. This was before, during and after the bell ringing. Tiny and tinny as they are, the bells were a big hit.

9/13 PM Bells in the Air
This evening Pauline Oliveros and Chris Brown performed a benefit concert, Music in the Air, for the Deep Listening Institute. WIGband (Johanna Poethig and Barbara Golden) opened the evenings concert with a fabulous and too short performance of 2 songs. The concert took place at the physically beautiful and sonically extraordinary Maybeck Studio for the Performing Arts in Berkeley, CA. Gregory Moore graciously hosted the performance at the studio. It was an amazing evening of incredibly skillful and beautiful improvisation for piano, accordion and interactive electronics. There were several people at the studio setting up, sound checking and hanging out long before the concert was scheduled to begin. Chris, Johanna, Barbara and percussionist Jennifer Wilsey came outside at sunset, and we rang the sundown together.

9/15 PM Do You Hear What I Hear?
When I arrived home this evening all of the children were outside playing across the street again. The painters were finishing up for the day and a few neighbors had come out to look at the progress and color combination on our house. It is a surprise and I hope, a delight. As we were standing around, the children wanted to know if they could ring the big bell later on, and I said, of course and that I would come back outside when it was time. I figured as long as we were going to ring the big bell, I would also bring the rest of the noisiest bells I could find. So I gathered up the cowbells, the ships bell and the most piercing little bell and handed them out. The commotion brought our neighbors from down the street out as well. They even brought their own bells.

9/16 AM Sunrise at the Marin Headlands
I have been trying to record large bells outdoors in a quiet environment for the past few days without much success. Last night I went to the Exploratorium and tried to record their bells that they ring at the end of the day to alert visitors that it’s time to go home. These are very loud bells. (One of them is the one I gave them after driving it around the country for a month). Even with all of the exhibits turned off and only a skeleton crew inside the building, it was still incredibly noisy. Blowers of all sorts, the ventilation system, coke machines and a very persistent soundtrack from a film that runs 24/7 somewhere in the back of the museum. I am trying to make these recordings for Charles Veasey who is doing his Masters thesis at RPI. He would like to recreate historical soundscapes, and one of the great signifiers for how the world sounded in times past is the sound of a large bell ringing in the distance. A distance that is not obscured by the sounds of cars, machines, planes or the general urban hum of electricity and constant motion.
This morning we drove out to the Marin Headlands. It’s relatively quiet out there and I was hoping that it would be early enough in the morning the world would just be stirring and perhaps not yet firing up the grand and ubiquitous combustible engine. Here’s a snippet of the audio I recorded while it was still dark.

9/16 PM "Between"
The sun is setting about 10 minutes earlier per week these days. Since people generally tend to arrive 10 – 15 minutes early for many different kinds of events, there is usually a short window of “between” time. “Between” being an unstructured period of time after arrival but before a scheduled event where people are where they want to be but are not doing what they came to do. Yet. “Between” is a time where unplanned things are possible. It’s a time for spontaneity. A time of possibility. And because there is nothing to do and nowhere to go during this little period of between time, it’s a great opportunity to enlist a number of people to do something you want to do. Well, it’s a good opportunity as long as it doesn’t take too much time or effort. Ringing the bells at sunset is a perfect activity for “between”, especially if the bells materialize and you don’t have to prepare in any way. The unfortunate thing about this short little window of time in relation to the sunset and our meditation group is - next week when the sun sets 10 minutes earlier than this week, it won’t be between yet.

9/17 PM Great Acoustics!
The sun set just after we found a parking place in the Sutter Stockton Garage near Chinatown and Union Square. The big bell was nice and loud and the sound bounced all over the place. As the doors were closing on the elevator, a young woman and her little dog raced over and hopped on. She’d heard the bell and wondered what we were up to.

9/20 PM It will look nice if we ever finish...
We took a short break from the cabinet construction business to ring our bells at sunset.

Ferry Building

9/12 AM Greeting Commuters at Sunrise
I arrived at the Ferry Building earlier than usual today so it was still quite dark. A few stragglers were disembarking from the latest ferry, and the Baylink bus had not yet arrived. However, someone was in my parking space! I waited him out and no sooner had I pulled into the space than the bus pulled up. I sat in my car in the dark and watched the passengers leave the bus and disperse into the city. It was another sunless morning. At some point it got light enough to pass for day. As I waited to pull away from the curb another big bus pulled in behind me as the earlier bus prepared to leave. I am so excited because this means when I come back on Monday there will be a whole new group of people who haven’t encountered the greeting and the bells on their way to work.

9/17 AM
Yesterday morning I was excited to go to the Headlands. When the alarm went off, I didn’t moan and groan as much as usual. Anticipation cheered me up and got me out of bed. It was the first time all year that this tiny bit of happiness and waking up so early in the morning occupied the same time and place. It was so much more pleasant than the usual chore of getting up too early has been than I decided to see if I could get as excited about going to the Ferry Building.
What do I like about going to the Ferry Building before sunrise? Hmm. Well, I like driving there. Since there are very few cars on the road, I can drive fast. The route goes through the park and the Presidio and along the bay. When I am not grumpy about it, it’s actually very nice. Once I have arrived, I like the routine of setting out the sign, unhitching the bell and posting whatever the current time for the sunrise is supposed to be. I have gotten used to being ignored and just go about my business. Ringing the bell well is something of a challenge. It’s awkwardly hung on blocks of wood so that it doesn’t swing freely. The bell is also out of balance and favors swinging in one direction more than the other so it is difficult to get a regular rhythm. But it is possible. And finally, on the off chance that anyone is interested enough in what is going on to stop for a moment, I get to talk with people I would never otherwise meet.

9/19 AM The Stage is Set, The Audience Awaits
Clear clear clear. There are many more cars on the road at this hour compared to even half an hour earlier. And even though there are more drivers, they are generally less speedy and aggressive than the earlier shift. Since I decided to slow down and broaden my focus to include all aspects of sunrise – including the preparation and time beforehand, I am enjoying this early morning a bit more. When I arrived at the Ferry Building today, I strolled around, took some photos, walked to the end of the pier and looked around. It smelled really good there this morning. Like the sea. As I walked around, I rang the little cymbal bells until it was almost time for the sun cross the horizon. Then I went back to the car and rang the big bell for the many joggers running by at this hour.