Category Archives: life

Veganism – thoughts about

Having lived an almost vegan lifestyle for close to 3 years offered me a position to at least talk about it.

While the actual claims about the benefits of Veganism are at least questioned, see here, this is not what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is what happens when a trend like Veganism, with its health claims, gets picked up by Big Food.

You had a company that produced cheap cookies for instance. Because of their price point they couldn’t afford real butter, so resorted to using margarine or hydrogenated palm oil.

While even the most optimistic product manager saw that as a clear flaw, suddenly it became an asset. A big green V on the packaging, and voila, your foremost cheapie cookie is no a truly vegan fest.

It’s astounding how much hyper-processed, cheaply produced food get’s rebranded as Vegan today, in the hope to cash in on the health claims. The vegan community is playing accomplice in return of mass-promotion for their agenda. This needs to stop. Vegans, you’re not doing yourself or your lifestyle any favor here. Step up. Expose. And most important of all: don’t buy that junk.

Linking – a nice mnemonic trick

Have you ever been in a situation, where you had to make sure you remembered something? Like “take my passport with me when I leave my home”? Brain

Usually saying “Don’t forget your passport!” will not work or worse set you up for forgetting. What to do? Luckily I have a nice little procedure for you that works really, really well for me.

When I want to make sure I remember to do something, I mentally link it with an event that I am sure will happen. In our example that would be : “When picking up my bag to leave the house, I will think of my passport, and retrieve it”.

The trick here is to really picture the event, and your passport. The more vivid this picture or short film is, the more effective this procedure will be.

Linking stuff has long been a standard mnemonic trick to remember random items on list. And it works. Your brain is set up to walk along connections. So if you connect picking up my bag with thinking of your passport, your brain will bring up an image of your passport the moment you pick up your bag to leave the house.

Try this with small things, that don’t carry a lot of emotional relevance first, since you will be much more open to experimenting and finding your personal way to implement this much easier when not stressed and result-agnostic.

 

leadership – thoughts about

85% of the time I am not a leader. This ranges from active participant to downright passive consumer. 15% of my time I lead.

I recently looked at the activities I consider myself a leader in, and a clear picture comes to mind. I lead because … I lead! There is just no other way there.  I sometimes try to follow. I just can’t.

Now, we all read a lot about how great it feels to be a leader, how much we should strive for that. Not to follow the pack, to stand out, and so on. But for me this negates a truth I clearly feel. Leading, standing out, is – at least a lot of the time – not comfortable at all. You are alone, you get attacked, ridiculed, belittled, who-do-you-think-you-are’d. And that hurts. Plain and simple.

I am a rather shy person, carry a lot of shame, and hence am not very comfortable when I’m singled out. A lot of the times I wish to just blend in, maybe have my way here and there, but all in all, go with the flow. But in some fields, that’s jsut not possible. It makes me feel so horribly stupid and wrong, that I just have to listen to my own voice and go with that.

Here, I become a leader. Now leading sometimes feels great. The self-respect and sense of self-reliance and souvereignity it entails are hard to beat. They are also hard won.

And that brings me to my point: I guess most leaders are not leaders because they fancy it. They are leaders because the other avenues are not open to them. Leading is dangerous, makes you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. That is precisely the reason so few people meke good leaders or wish to lead.

But then, who knows, I might just find that these sensations: vulnerability, shame, discomfort are really signs of strength in action. I might just be willing to give it a try.

the hive – thoughts about

beehiveI had some thoughts about the way humanity, or at least the part of it that I can observe evolves.

I see 3 trends:

  • individual passivity – consumerism: individuals seek to maximize their short-term pleasure more than ever before. Shurely, some of that is driven by the relentless onslaught of advertisment and the perfection of consumer good offerings and presentation, as well as the ongoing reflection of this process in movies, tv shows and so on.
  •  wisdom of crowds, crowdsourcing – the whole is more than the sum of its parts: wikipedia, github, linux… examples of spontaneous, grassroots crowd organization, led by a couple of highly motivated individuals achieve outstanding feats, which they offer free of charge.  
  • Political Passivity – Looking Within For Change And Fullfilment: Driven By the widespread adoption of buddhist principles, more and more people simply refuse to partake in politics, which they see as a mere distraction. Real change must come from within, when your perceptions and attitudes towards the world of things change. a noble thought, that leaves the political playing field in the hands of power hawks and self advancers.

The jury is still out on what the end-effect of this will be.  In my mind, a picture emerges: 

Close to 7 billion humans populate our planet today. The Internet, cheap travel, affordable voice and increasingly video communication give everybody a true sense of interconnectedness and help form a global consciousness.  

So we arrive in “The Age Of The Hive”.  This fits perfectly with the trend of individual passivity. The individual does what he or she feels is most true to her vocation, trusting The Hive to use it in some meaningful way. Organisation arises spontaneously. Planing, politics and long-range goals become less and less important or tangible.  Lately we could see the development of a crowd-sourced symphony piece. Kickstarter launches tens of projects each day.  Individuals offer their output to The Hive, that, driven by feelings, attachments and sentiment grabs and amplifies some of the output, some not.

The individual that initiated the creation becomes a queen bee, for a short time, only to return into the fold of The Hive later to restart the process…  Resistance is futile! 

 

 

individualism and consumerism – differentiate that!

I know it’s Christmas and we’re all swimming in a sea of presents, happily munching Christmas cookies and having a great-ole-time! But:

I realized, with shock, that for most of the way to express our individuality is extremely tied, if not solely reliant on the choices we make as consumers. “I’m vegan!”, “I don’t buy at H&M!”, “I buy only organic groceries!”, “Android is just the better OS!”.

  • What about freedom of expression?
  • What about dancing on the subway when you feel like it?
  • What about crying in public, especially when you’re male?
  • What about saying: “I just don’t know any further, I want to stop for as long as it takes?”
  • What about sighing when you feel short of breath?

Maybe you do all those things, all those little, every-day humanizers, the small dances, the little prances. I sure could use so much more of that. And become much more of an individual in the process, and much less dependent on consumerism to define me.

But Android really is the better OS! 😉

 

The wounded child – misunderstandings about

Although I set this up and edit this blog as very tech-centered and tech-related, from time to time I feel moved to write something about life, our perceptions or our attitudes.

This blog post is one example.

For some time now there has been a lot of talk, especially in psychological, spiritual and self-help circles about the wounded child. The wounded child refers to the part in us, that did not get its need met in childhood, when we were dependent upon others to fulfill them, in a timely and judicious fashion, and so remains stuck at some level of development, often recreating the dysfunctional dynamics later in life.

It’s unanimously agreed that we repeat these patterns so we can grow concious of our past hurt and then move on, thereby healing ourselves and the dynamics, that otherwise get passed down from generation to generation in a family.

Often, the dynamics are seen as logical conclusions, patterns of behaviour that the child had to adopt in order to survive in a dysfunctional family.

Here is where I disagree. Yes, most of us did not – at some point in their childhoods – get their needs met. Yes, many of us had experiences with shameful /shaming mothers or fathers, critiquing parents or simple neglect, in one form or another.

But: the behaviour the child then established is its own choice, it had many options and it chose that one. Now you might say: Yes, but had the parents recognized this, they could have educated the child. Since we assumed that the beaviour was the response to some kind of neglect / critique or shaming, it is safe to assume that the responsible parent did not do so from the consious, self-reflected and loving part in itself and therefore will have a hard time assessing the behaviour as a response.

My point is: today we underestimate how willful, resourceful and active / present children are. My point is not to condone neglect, but for ourselves to see that we were the architects of our behaviour from day one on. Then it becomes easier to own up, and move on, and not get sucked into a circle of victimhood, and bleeding-heart storyline.

 

 

tapestry work – beyond the portfolio

There’s been a lot of talk about “portfolio work” in recent years. Meaning that more and more people don’t hold on to a steady job, or have one singular carrer path, but instead have multiple work and revenue streams that they connect to make their livelyhood.

The term portfolio however, implies for me a certain thought-out-ness, a sense of willful diversification and planned broadening of singular points-of-focus.

In my life, at the moment, I pursue various projects,  don’t really count, but I estimate there are 6-8 active projects, and another 4-5 in the pipeline.

Some of these projects interrelate and create synergy, others are completely seperate and just for the sake of it.

I like it that way! I’m not in the game to be the best, richest, most succesful anything. I’m in it for the full width and depth of experiences available.

So I found an analogy that suits my lifestyle, and those of people similar to me, better than portfolio work: tapestry work.

My threads are my projects, my jobs, my family, my lovers, my children, my prayers, my hopes, my fears, my practice. They interweave and crisscross and form something unique and dazzling: my life!

And what a beautiful tapestry it is!

in search of the ultimate Headphone

Since I’m working in the field of audio recording and reproduction in its various forms for more than 12 years now, I often find myself in the need of an excellent headphone. Checking signals, tracking, mixing, or just listening to music while traveling, I often need headphones.

Working in studios with excellent monitoring for years, my demands are quite high, and so far I haven’t been fully satisfied.

But let me tell you my story here:

I started out with Sennheiser HD 250 II headphones, which were excellent, although really large. I used them for 8 years and loved them. Then I lost them, tragically, at a ball in Viennas City Hall I was working at.

Next came my quest for headphones with, what I call, active isolation. Bose QuietComfort 3 were first. They did an excellent job in noise cancellation, to the point where plain rides were really quiet. But the actual headphone, while quite pleasant to wear, sounded really, really bad. Individual notes on piano sonatas (like Rubinstein playing Chopin) jumped out of context, sometimes distorting (and I don’t listen very loudly).

So I sold those on eBay, and bought a pair of Monster Beats Studio by Dre, that I imported from the US (They weren’t available in mainland Europe at the time). Excellent headphone. Fantastic noise cancellation, especially in the lows (Bose were better in the mids and highs). The sound was great too. But: After about 3 months use, the right earpiece sometimes made mechanical noises on certain notes. It wasn’t a linear process. Listening to uncompressed live signals would trigger the noise more often than compressed CD playback. Also the whole soundscape seemed a little hyped and strained.

At the same time I got a second piece of headphones: AKG K702. I had the K701 before for home listening and the 702 were altogether better. A brilliant, lively headphone, especiall with a tube headphone amp. Just one flaw: Little bass. Maybe I’m too used to closed headphones, but the AKGs didn’t cut it for me in that regard.

So, the quest continues, with me selling the Dres and buying Beyerdynamic DT-150s. Soundwise the best headphone I had so far. Perfect, in my opinion. Pronounced midrange, tight bass, not too bright like Sennheiser HD 800s or the top-of-th-line Ultrasones. Just right. Problem here: they clamped down on my head pretty hard, hurting me after 30 minutes of wear, which happens, on planes and on trains.

Sold those and just today got a brand new headphone: Aiaiais TMA-1. A danish manufacturer. The pretiest headphone so far. Clean, understated design. No logos, no gimmiks.  A beauty. Sound: Voices sound great, fantastic even! But: no highs. And I mean: no top end, period. I should have known reading the frequency chart in some reviews. So, I’m sending them back today, and still searching for the ultimate headphone. Any suggestions? Shure’s new line is supposed to sound great! I’ll let you know.