“There are ‘hidden’ meanings – not to be confused with non-understandable things – that must be thought through constantly until you reach an understanding.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings



Neither Andreea nor I practice any religion. Actually … I religiously stay away from anything religious (I am a bit harsher on these things then Andreea). Yet we do Christmas. It began in Israel when Andreea would get a holiday blues around the time of Christmas. So we got a small potted tree that only looked like a Christmas tree and grew with us over a few years (we left it planted near the last house we occupied in Israel) and some decorations.

Eventually I asked Andreea what the tree “officially” symbolizes – and she couldn’t tell me and we looked it up. We found that it may very well be rooted in pagan traditions, and that Christian authorities piggy-backed on it for their own needs. So we did some picking and choosing and created our own symbology for it.

Bringing a tree in-doors keeps us in touch with qualities of nature that surround us. Nature is resilient and abundant. Nature supports us. Nature changes and adapts softly and peacefully, even when facing harsh conditions. Nature peacefully brings together life and death in a neverending cycle of regeneration. All of these qualities and more permeate into our consciousness and walls by bringing a tree into our home.

Ecologically it is a bummer to see all these trees cut, used and then tossed out like garbage. From what we know, at least here in Romania, the cutting of trees is (surprisingly) highly regulated and what is sold is actually just the tops of the trees (which hopefully grow back, maybe even more rejuvenated?). Personally, once we move into our permanent home, we will resume a practice we started in Israel of growing a tree over years and then planting it outside when it is too large and mature to have in the house.

A few days ago I had my first amusing experience of carrying a tree home through the city. We didn’t see anyone else doing it (last year in Romania, most of the Christmas trees we saw in homes we visited were small plastic trees – which really don’t sit well with our symbology – fake is not a quality we are looking to bring into our lives) – so I felt a little like a celebrity. Quite a few people asked us where we got and how muh we payed for it – of course everyone turned to me to ask and, given my limited Romanian vocabulary, I had to send everyone to Andreea for further inquiries. Oh … and one last thing … it is much easier to navigate a city with a Christmas tree carrying the root end first – that way the branches gracefully foldl away from any obstacles instead of relentlessly hooking onto everything and everyone.

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment

Branford Marsalis – A Love Supreme


This brilliant album was (still is) playing in my ears for the first time as I was writing the previous post. It’s an album based on or inspired by John Coltrane‘s album by the same name. I found this great looking and sounding video of a brilliant live recording. Amazing to see a seemingly simple drum roll build and deliver a clear burst of energy and create an opening. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been to a good jazz concert (and I haven’t been to many) – maybe now that we are in Europe there will be more opportunities for this?

Posted in Enjoy, inside, Music | You are welcome to add your comment

How to Install Reverb in Audacity


Audacity is an open-source audio-editing program that I use on Ubuntu to lightly to edit some of my Shakuhachi recordings. It comes with a collection of filters which can be used for all kinds of effects – but on Ubuntu (and apparently all Linux distributions) it doesn’t come with a reverb filter which I like to occasionally use. Fortunately there is a reverb-filter which is also open-source and freely available – unfortunately installing it and using it causes too much unnecessary suffering.

Yesterday I had to go through this painful process again and fortunately I came across two simple solutions to both installation and using it – so I thought to make a note of it for myself for future reference.


LADSPA is some kind of standard protocol for audio filters (used by many other audio editing programs). The reverb effect is part of a large set of LADSPA filters which are installed as a set. Installing them should be as easy as downloading them and placing them in a certain folder – for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where that folder is. Most of the instructions I found seem to be for either outdated versions of either the filter set or Ubuntu.

I did however come across (here) an easy to use command-line installation which worked like magic (which I’m guessing means that the filters are somewhere in the official Ubuntu repositories). It installs an over-sized set of filters one of which is Gverb which is the one I was looking for:

sudo aptitude install vco-plugins tap-plugins swh-plugins rev-plugins omins mcp-plugins


The filter itself is a horrific set of of parameters which you have to be either a software engineer and/or a sound engineer to figure out.

I am neither – luckily I found these settings which worked great for me. If you have more refined audio-requirements then I do – you can probably use these setting as a good point of departure for exploring other variations:

  • room size: 100
  • reverb time: 3.5
  • damping: .5
  • input bandwidth: .75
  • dry signal level: -1.5
  • early reflection level: -22
  • tail level: -22

I also came across this page (which I haven’t yet read) which seems to give some insight into what reverb is and how to about shaping it.

Previewing Tips

It really helps to be able to sample what the filter will do which is what preview does. Unfortunately the default configuration for preview is pretty useless – it’s too short ( just a few seconds) and starts at the beginning of the track. There are two things I did to benefit from a more useful preview.

First extend the duration of the preview to something like 20 or seconds. To do this simply go to “Edit -> Preferences -> Playback” and set the “Length of preview” to a longer duration:

Then before opening the filter select a portion of the sound-track you wish to preview:

WARNING: When you’ve found the reverb effect setting you like DO NOT click OK in the filter dialogue (see above) as that will apply the filter ONLY to the selected area (unless that is what you want). So far I have applied the effect to the entire track. To do this you need to close the filter dialogue (it will remember your settings), then select the entire track and re-open the filter window to actually apply it.

Sample Recording

You can listen to a sample recording I created with exactly these settings.

Posted in outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

I Shakuhachi – December 14, 2010


being just one
just being one
just being
being just
being one
just one

download recording

Posted in About, inside, My Shakuhachi Recordings, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Seeing Energy in Markets


… I am thinking of food-markets, specifically Romanian food-markets. I’ve visited such markets numerous times in two Romanian cities: in Piatra Neamt (north-east Romania) and now in Cluj-Napoca (north-west) where I live. I’m usually there to shop for food though today I also purchased a (first time for me ever) Christmas tree.

Cluj-Napoca is a much larger city then Piatra Neamt. It has one large market in the city center and two other smaller markets in other areas of town. It’s “market energy” seems to be divided between these markets. The smaller ones have a limited offering and are slightly more expensive then the large market – but they have location working for them. The central market is larger, more diverse (has the lapte-lapte-lapte shop), competitive … generally more dynamic. But even the large market is disappointing compared to the market in Piatra Neamt (keeping in mind that the Neamt area in the east is considered economically weaker and less developed then the west). Today we got a wonderful Christmas tree (more on that in a separate post) and even the ad-hoc tree-market (set right outside the food-market) was disappointing compared to Piatra Neamt.

Piatra Neamt is a smaller city and is geographically built around one city-center. It has one large-market in the center. I remember it as being physically larger then the one in Cluj and Andreea (who visited there a few weeks ago) confirmed that it has more variety and much (30%-50%) cheaper prices (though prices may reflect east-west differences). Last year, also located right outside the food-market, there was an impressive variety of Christmas trees – far more impressive then the small offering we saw today in Cluj.

When we got home some thoughts appeared around these differences – they reminded me of Yoga’s core idea of qualities of energy. The “market energy” in Cluj is diffused and weak compared to the condensed energy of Piatra-Neamt. I wonder if this kind of perspective can shed light on more complex systems and social structures such as cities and villages … and self-sustaining homes, or even commercial structures – such as Romanian markets, industrialized super-markets … and small productive communities.

In an individual person (which is the focus of the science of Yoga) condensed energy is better then diffused energy. Diffused energy is a state of illness, condensed energy a state of health & strength. Yet it is also possible to abuse Yoga practices and to generate energy that is too condensed – to the point that it can’t be contained and it burns from within. When I am in the city (as I am now – temporarily) I can feel in my body the density, commotion … there is too much vibration … there is too little space for settling. I wonder if in some ways cities have become too condensed and too intense to contain and give expression to human life. I wonder if the economical break-downs all around the world are expressions of systems that have also become too condensed, that the exaggerated heat is melting the foundations which are giving way and causing the systems they support to collapse.

The industrial revolution which carried us through the 20th century was in the spirit of growth, expansion – an age of quantity. Is it not sensible that the next era (for such industrialized societies) should be one of settling and gathering – an age of quality?

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside, Uncategorized, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment