Monday, December 31, 2012

On evening buddhas

Just one from yesterday evening...

Was listening to Arabic music, having some Larsen tobacco and having several bottles of Kozel...

Monday, December 10, 2012

On David Bowie

So, regarding David Bowie. I do not really like his music. I like Space Oddity, damn, I love it. But most of his music is, well, how to say it - not my cup of tea.

And then there are his movies.

I think the key to understanding David Bowie, not just his movies or music, but to understand him himself, lies in the move The Man Who Fell to Earth. This is one fucked up movie, and I mean really crazy-cow-disease-fucked-up. But if you challenge yourself to digest it and see through it you get a glimpse of the real him. I strongly recommend this move to anyone who wants to understand David and his work.

I just finished watching Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. The cast a bit unusual - Takeshi Kitano and David Bowie... And the movie is differrent. Admittedly made by Japanese who were trying to whiten out the atrocities of their prison camps during WW2, but still an interesting thing. No further comments - go and see it ;-)

Friday, December 7, 2012

On weather

It has been snowing constantly for last two days. Cant wait for weekend to go snowboarding!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On dr House

So the actor Hugh Laurie made a music album. Kinda jazzy and country and blues. Specific. You get in the 8 seasons of the series some hints that he is musically inclined, but this CD proves the guy is good. Not only instrumentally, but he also sings and has a great voice. And this is without judging music tastes.

Just remember: Everybody lies...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On long series

So like a month ago there was seminar with Horii sensei, then we had Paul Robinson, then Dave Alonzo popped in, now Miyamoto sensei in Barcelona, next week Daniel Brunner is coming to Wrocław. Not like I am complaining, but this is getting a lot of Aikido...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On Pink Floyd

So it turned out that the release of The Dark Side Of The Moon that I had was not the one to have. Now I got the right one in SACD and I must admit it does sound different. Actually better.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On blogging

No, it is not dead. Just on hold for a while. Soon I will be pouring things here again...

Friday, July 13, 2012


after some interesting years i am back to Wro. feels funny... not exactly home like... reminds me of old saying 'my home is where my server is', but these days everything is in the cloud... then how about 'my home is where my sword is'? well, one katana is here, the other (hopefully) in transit, soon both will b here. but if we were to discuss 'my home is where my heart is' then it certainly is with Alison

Friday, May 25, 2012

On Transcend or Singularity

It is kinda interesting that going through my sci-fi books collection I just finished A fire upon deep. And then the following day we had a discussion about number theory and I stumbled upon Graham's Number...

Then I remembered a book Dedy gave me to read Singularity is near...

In short read this article if you do not have time to read these books.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A couple from the coast

We had a nice three days in Diani, just south of Mombasa:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On sake or how Google failed me

Being somehow attached and fascinated with Japanese culture (through aikido) for last 20 years, I have always wanted to drink sāke. And all this time I was gravely disappointed, for the sake I could get here and there was disguisting. And by disguisting I mean: worse than warm Żytnia vodka.

And then a student of mine went to Japan and brought for me a bottle of sake that was amazingly delicious. I mean -scales fell from my eyes and I could see... Damn, I could see colour, 3D and Dolby Surround. This thing was amazing...

And then I had to move to another apartment and - unfortunately, the golden box the bottle came in was left behind... I thought: no worries, Google will help me.

Nope, I did not find it on Google. I do not remember the name of it but I do remember the box and price range. But I can not see it in Google. I tried 70 thousands different search phrases... No luck.

All I can say is - I know this sake is out there... Should I try Bing?

On disappointment

It has been over a month since Apple released the new iPad, over 3 week since i got one. And still no jailbreak!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On sound quality

Perhaps this is not exacly an illnes per se, but certainly a condition... Once i settle somewhere permanently i would like to have a nice listening room with Marantz Pearl Lite set. You may ask what is so sick about it? I do not have my listening room, do not have Marantz nor speakers yet, but I am already considering how to improve the sound quality. Whether to change speakers, cables, put some accoustic dyffusors or absorbers or to change the source. Here, in Kenya there aren't any shopps with audio equipment. If you remember the black Americans in old movies from '70s and '80s walking around the hood with ghetto blasters you will be able to understand the available audio equipment here. Big speakers, lots of flashing, blinking lights, big volume knobs (by big I mean in the range of 20cm). Lots of DJ equipment, lots of concert equipment, but if you want to listen to music at home you have only one choice - import your NADs or Marantz'es from abroad... I was shocked not to find a SINGLE shop with even medium quality of audio equipment. Nothing, nada. So I went to Yamaha shop and bought Yamaha powered studio monitors. And then the scales fell from my eyes and now I can see in color... Now I need to replace the cables and finish manufacturing my wine-cork dyffusor... Am also considering the stands... My condition is back...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On holidays part two - Cambodia

The real reason we went to Cambodia was - quite obviously - Angkor Wat. The whole complex consists of countless temples. Beautiful. But there I observed the same mechanism I noticed when I was in Petra in Jordan. Namely - sensory overload. First temple you see is awesome, second great, third is nice, fourth is OK, fifth is also OK, and then by sixth you start asking where's the beer? So I guess this is why the program is designed to rush the visitors through the most monumental of them. And I can't get rid of the feeling there are somewhere nearby hidden in the jungle some gems I am missing... With less tourists and more of Indiana Jones experience. Do not get me wrong - this is amazing place. Just too much in too short time.

What I found striking was the emptiness of the halls and chambers and courts and alcoves and rooms and... everything. So what you get today is just a pile of stones. Beautifully designed with awesome carvings and all, but empty inside. And the contrast between the richness of all those reliefs with the empty halls makes you wonder how much stuff must have been stolen from here and how rich this place must've been at its prime...

Personally I find the Ta Prohm temple the most amazing. I imagine it must've been amazing to see something like this while struggling to walk through the jungle. Again - a real Indiana Jones moment. Unfortunately whole Angkor Wat complex is a very important source of revenue for Cambodians so the whole thing is prepared to accommodate old German ladies with walking sticks (if you catch my drift ;-). So no - no creeping through the jungle with machete in one hand and rifle (the tigers!) in the other... The place feels ancient. I know Petra was a good millennium older, but Ta Prohm felt like it was being consumed by jungle...

Of course you can not have Angkor Wat experience without the famed sunrise. It was really social event. We were one of the first to arrive on the scene and then the crowd slowly grew to around four - five hundred strong. Lots of Chinese, Japanese, French, Germans, Dutch, Polish, Americans, Russians and only one Kenyan ;-)

Since we were there quite early I had lots of time to play with my camera's settings (sensitivity, shutter speed, colour balance, etc). The sunrise is not an instant so I went all the way and took well over a hundred pictures...

I put more pictures here

Monday, January 16, 2012

On holidays part one - Thailand

Yes, I know, I have been in Bangkok before. But it is always nice to go there. A bit hectic, but it is such a multi-layered city that you can choose to do what you want, not just what is on visible offer. You just need to know where to look ;-)

I am still in the process of uploading the pictures, but some are here:

Royal Palace

My favourite Buddha

My favourite temple - for the bells, the bells!

Once I upload all pics I will share the link ;-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On how Dr Dre and Apple killed music, or: some thoughts after Thailand visit

So first of all - why headphones? The answer is pretty simple - they are cheaper. I can buy very good headphones (note - not top-of-the-line) for about 500 US$. These will give me very, and I mean very good quality sound. And to match the same quality with speakers you need to spend over 4000 US$ on speakers alone, then you have to have proper amplifier and these are the cheaper parts of the equation. Because next thing that you need is good listening room that will not introduce standing waves, distortions, unwanted reflections and resonances. This thing called acoustic room adaptation is an art in itself. Or you can delegate this to DSP machines like TacT RCS, but some purists would argue, besides there is problem with hi-def FLACs (like those sampled at 192 kHz at 24 bits). Bottom line is - if we want to replace headphones with speakers then we're talking here about increasing the price point tenfold to achieve comparable sound quality.

Then Apple came along and with their ipod and white in-ear headphones made using headphones fashionable. And suddenly hardware manufactures realized people want headphones and the market was flooded with headphones. Mostly very crappy. If you listen to 128 kbps MP3s you will not benefit from 500 UD$ Sennheisers HD650 because you are listening to signal already distorted before it even reaches your Bose (or whatever you'd be using).

And then some people realized that most of headphones on the market are crappy and the marker was saturated with awesome products like Beyerdynamics T1, Sennheiser HD800 or Denons 5000, HiFiMans, etc...

And we had funny situation - there were headphones available for 12 US$ which were not worth their 12 US$ and there were headphones priced at 1000+ US$ worth every penny if - and only if - you were able to utilize their potential (read again: no 128 kbps MP3s ;-).

And then poor Dr Dre realized he's lost it when it comes to creating music, so to make some dough for his new Lamborghini or pink R'Royce he branded his line of headphones - the Beats. Unfortunately most of them deliver just... amazingly poor quality of music. I know it's hype, especially here - in Kenya - to be black and walk around the 'hood with new Nike Jordans and Dre's Beats (and preferably in tight gay'ish yellow t'shirt). But the Beats, apart from the name, design and show-off price tag, have nothing to offer when it comes to sound quality. All of them are just very, very badly designed. Beats Solo (and Solo HD) are probably the worst sounding headphones you can buy for over 100 US$. Or - perhaps the other way around - anything you buy for 100 US$ or more is almost guaranteed to sound better (I know Beats Solo HD are listed for 200 bucks, so what?). All of them Beats are this bad or worse, except... the very first ones - the Beats Studio. Somehow the original Beats are... actually pretty good headphones. For its price. They are distinguishably better than many other headphones at this price point.

So how does Thailand come in? Well, if you walk around Khaosan or Phatpong in Bangkok you will notice some dudes selling Dre's Beats. Starting price point is 3000 Baht (roughly 100 US$), but if you push them a bit they will go down to 700 Baht (yup, about 22 green ones). Of course these are very low quality copies.

And then you will notice a lot of white dudes with long dreds walking around in flipflops and wearing the very poor quality copy of Beats Studio feeling dope for they think they are in the know...

Travelling is fun ;-)