Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Hardware in my backyard

I finally got the computing power I need. A Dell Optiplex GX 620 does this job pretty well with its P4 HT 3.2 Ghz processor, 2 Gigs of RAM and a 150 SATA HDD along a nice enough ATI videocard broadcasting on a 19 inch Dell flat-panel. As a matter of fact I am having trouble now re-adjusting back to bigger screens after I totally got used to my 1400X1050 13" monitor on my antique IBM T22 laptop, with its tiny icons and un-readable text {for most others than me,:)}. A minus for the system: had serious trouble when I wanted to install Ubuntu on this some critical errors and finally I had to give up.
However, it will be my new base machine especially for statistical computing and imaging processing, the latter totally under-represented right now but hopefully better in the near future.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nu Jazz: When Jazz goes Clubbing

Lately in my ever ongoing musical evolution, lately I came across of a lot of downtempo and nu jazz music, closely related and combined in different inventive ways and means of expression. Today I'll talk about the latter.
Bugge Wesseltoft,Norwegian by nationality, international by nature is a jazz musician, pianist and composer (plus a producer - own label Jazzland Records). His main projects were the New Conception of Jazz and Ragatronics, plus his solo act. I had the opportunity to listen just the first one (New Conception of Jazz 1997) but it really got under my skin. I am curious to see what else is out there..and most of all of his solo project which should be at least as revolutionary as the rest of his stuff.

Another One Bites the Dust

The Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) WAS a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. Other names include Baiji, Yangtze River Dolphin, Beiji, Pai-chi, Whitefin Dolphin and Yangtze Dolphin.

Although the dolphin was nicknamed "Goddess of the Yangtze" in China and efforts were made (but only to "some" extent?) to conserve the species, the population declined drastically in recent decades. It was declared "functionally extinct" after an expedition in late 2006 failed to find any in the river.
Time Evolution: (wikipedia)
* circa 3rd century BC: population estimated at 5,000 animals
* 1950s: population was estimated at 6,000 animals
* 1958-1962: The Great Leap Forward
* 1979: The People's Republic of China declares the Chinese River Dolphin endangered
* 1983: National law declares hunting the Chinese River Dolphin illegal
* 1984: The plight of the baiji draws headlines in China[5]
* 1986: Population estimated to be 300
* 1989: Gezhouba Dam complete
* 1990: Population estimated to be 200
* 1994: Construction of the Three Gorges Dam begins
* 1996: IUCN lists the species as critically endangered
* 1997: Population estimated to be less than 50 (23 found in survey)
* 1998: 7 found in survey
* 2003: Three Gorges Dam begins filling reservoir
* 2004: Last known sighting, a stranded dead dolphin
* 2006: None found in survey, declared "with all probability extinct"

My question would be is if Chinese people actually have fished out this species or the whole conjecture was more decisive in establishing this result. After all, who would eat dolphins?? They are quite scarce everywhere except aquariums, they are the second smartest creatures after (sometimes even above some of) us, friendly and playful, without any flaws that could justify such barbaric acts that led to their extinction.

But here it is people. Just sad.:-(

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

This week I started to watch Battle star Galactica, the SF series from Sci-FI channel and I got hooked up on it. After about 5 DVDs I successfully completed the pilot plus the first season. The truth is that it's quite different from the usual happy-ending futurist stories praised in Star Trek series; the human race (based on planet Caprica) has almost been wiped out by their own creations (cylons, which basically from a basic AI jumped to complex imitators and surpassors of the humans). In an epic quest towards Earth (here the lost and distant planet of the last colonists mentioned only in legends) the episodes show more drama than the usual science fiction puzzles and gizmos. They can still "jump" in hyperspace though...regardless of experiencing other basic problems with food or water. Intriguing to say the least and beautifully crafted. Makes me wonder why I never watched on cable before.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meet Skalpel

(WHO) Skalpel: top noch Polish stuff, branded Ninja Tune.
(HOW) Style: blend of hip hop beats, laced with samples lifted from the rich seam of Polish jazz records of the 1960s and 1970s.
(WHAT) Albums: Konfusion (2005) and Skalpel (2004); both exquisite.:) try them!
(LIKE) Similar to: The Cinematic Orchestra

Skalpel are Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo DJs/producers from Wroclaw, Poland. Being new recruits of Ninja Foreign Legion, they are rather hesitant to speak about their past.Sufficient to say, they are talented DJs, whose 4 mixes were aired on Solid Steel in the past, two of which were released as "Virtual Cuts" - namely the best mixtape released in the history of electronic music in Poland. The year 2000 was a landmark for them, as they traveled the country with DJ Vadim and his Russian Percussion, presenting an amazing 4-deck show. Later that year they released demo CD-R titled "Polish Jazz", which not only received a lot of critical acclaim, but also led Skalpel to signing a contract with Ninja Tune.For the last two years they've been digging in the crates, trying to build the most exciting collection of samples from Polish Jazz records. Now they are slowly unleashing the music created from these sounds. They ressurected dusty & smokey spirit of polish jazz of 60s and 70s, and re-imagined it for 21st century audiophiles. (Ninja Tune)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mozart@the Opera

The last concert of questa stagione for the Albany Symphony Orchestra and its vivid conductor. Despite the cold that's biting more and more into the Capital region these days, there was a sea of people attending this performance. Naturally, most of them, old and very old but that's beside the point:).

Still celebrating the "Mozart year" undergoing in 2006, the performance included selections from his most famous operas namely The marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte and the Magic Flute, but the cherry on the top (you can call it the "underground" kick if you'd like) and incidentally the part that I enjoyed the most was the final piece of Idomeneo, not an aria but a symphonic ending of a serious opera aimed for ballet. Idomeneo, the king of Crete is a not-so-famous (commercial?) Mozart opera, actually his first mature opera, quite experimental and long, I guess. But this last piece, I think is very good and an inspired choice to include it in the program. Overall, very good and interesting at the same time.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dreamy Winter so far...

It feels good when December catches you walking down the street in a t-shirt and short pants. I use to like winter but not anymore. First of all, lately, with all the climate change going on, the build-up of green house gases, etc. it seems that nature has gone wild on its own. For the last two years, there have been (here, at least) very mild winters, just a couple of weeks with snow and reasonable temperatures. Here, where snow should be at home, stacked by feet and up until March or even April. But after all, this is not a complaint just an acknowledgement of what is happening. I sure don't mind it (yet) since I am not a big winter (sports) fan. However, one can't stop to wonder...where all the snows from our childhood have gone...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

An interesting Thanksgiving

It was funny because it felt like a celebration all day long which is rarely the case with exclusive American holidays. I spoke with friends from home and Europe for hours (which seldom happens these days due to the inherent work load that I carry), I did some work too [but not exaggerate, just enough to make myself feel good about it:)] and I went for a dinner at a friend's house to eat some traditional thanksgiving cuisine (turkey, mash potato, gravy and cranberries sauce). Here, the crowd was good (met some interesting people from Ethiopia and Sri Lanka among others) while the food (good but too much though), music and atmosphere played along. Overall, very nice; which explains the fact that some of us stayed there until 5am.:)). Just in time for the Black Friday shopping..or the grand scheme of retailing as I like to call it, since I see it only in black and white: either you stay in line throughout the night and get an early bird deal or it is basically useless to search the stores for morning exquisite deals along other thousands of not-so-early birds looking for stuff to spend their bucks on. Therefore, so far, I always chose not to be a shopper that day.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beauty runs in the neighborhood

Just came across the (old) news that this year's Romanian contestant to Miss World has won 2nd place (1st runner up against the Czech miss) and followed by Australia. Her name is Ioana Valentina Boitor and she's from a neighboring county and city (Satu Mare) of my hometown (Sighetu M, in Maramures); of course she's ridiculously young (17) like all contenders are but however, not your usual type of miss (she does study computer science at a local high school; "successful? - je ne sais pas"; otherwise we can assume both brains and beauty are comprised in the package). With regards to the geographic distribution, Ioana is the second girl from Satu Mare, a town of around 132,000 inhabitants that reaches Miss World competition which shows that indeed beauty runs in the neighborhood.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Borat, the movie

I have just seen Borat (Cultural learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), the latest box office hit or..the closest thing to it. Pretty funny, not that original but overall, welcomed I think.

Besides the publicity around it, acid jokes about Jews, people suing cause of it all over the place and punches with the name of Sacha Cohen on (deh, it comes with the job, pal) the movie is just an absurd type of humor (typically British?) which may get most of you, but again, it may not. A type of Kazachstani Mr. Bean with uncensored lines, Borat has raised enough attention to become a movie that people (me included) just wanted to see "what's all about". In the end, I laughed indeed, but I also expected more from it than what it could possible give. I am curious about a few things though:
1. how many scenes were real footage?
2. what are the people from Kazakhstan think about it?
3. how much of a boost got the Ali G character also? It's a networking world after all..
actually for the second one, here is what is listed on the official site:
"We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way. We reserve the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind. We view Mr. Cohen's behaviour at the MTV Europe Music Awards as utterly unacceptable, being a concoction of bad taste and ill manners which is completely incompatible with ethics and civilized behaviour."-Yerzhan Ashykbayev, Kazakh Foreign Ministry Spokesman
I guess that the only thing left to add is the famous Cuba Gooding jr.'s line: "Show MEE the MOONEY!!!".
Let's see how "Borat" will handle that one.:)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pushing the limits of perception

Another Friday night in town with Empac's own events. This time FEED by Kurt Hentschlager (a NY based Austrian artist) was on. Overall, a strange but beautiful and interesting merger of sound and intense images which puts the viewer into an abstract universe where light and sound fuse with his or her senses.
First part contains a 3D projection of human figures syncopating under an ever increasing intensive low frequency sound.
In the second part of the show you find yourself flooded by stroboscopic lights and dense fog while a strange mix of images and sounds monopolize your entire perception. Strong basses and strange noises are fully contributing to this mystic atmosphere.
A bit dizzy but intrigued spectator..

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A piece of Indian Summer

What a joy to see 73 degrees (or about 20 celsius) on a mid-November day. Regardless of the cloudy, gray, dark skies, it is still great to take a walk outside. The mild warmy rain helps along. Only the strong pales of wind seem to mind. Still..a great thermo outlier that is always welcomed in the harsh upstate New York winter (which by the way hasn't started yet).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bigger means better

And who are the best to prove it than the Russians??
Yesterday I saw the Moscow State Symphony at Proctor's in Schenectady and it seemed a huge orchestra indeed with around 90 and something musicians in it. Led by Pavel Kogan they gave a wonderful performance, especially in the second half and the following encores. The program: Smetana - Vlatava (the Moldau) (nice, interesting); Schumann - Concerto for Cello in A minor (slow and boring in many ways) with Alisa Weilerstein at cello; Rachmaninoff - Symphony no.2 (feel the power). Good stuff by all means.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

No more Neo-Counter

I had a Neo-Counter on my blog for some time now; Unfortunately, this week I had to give it up since they went fully commercial, I guess, and my new established trial period expired. It too bad because it was a neet tool; however, the price could be only justified maybe in webpages and professional blogs that really draw on something else and make money on their own. this is just a small personal web based diary that cannot sustain this:)). i will look for something else in this respect too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cultural Recap

A lot has been going on since I haven't updated the posts on this blog, which is
not that bad after all (around 10 days). So, let's get right in to it:

1. Lee Ranaldo (from Sonic Youth) and Leah Singer - "Drift" live performance

DRIFT is a sonic/visual environment consisting of music sounds and texts by Ranaldo in response to two 16 mm analytical film projectors performed in real time by Singer. Much as a DJ scratches the vinyl records, Singer manipulates her films in a live improvisation with Ronaldo's guitar, poetry and soundscapes (empac@rpi).Well, yeah, interesting enough to go there. However, kind of "veni, vedi, vici" type of feeling; maybe to long, or to improvised and raw, the show wasn't that convincing afterall and the poetry has also a certain limit you can abstract it..just like any form of art.

2. Puccini's "La Boheme" brought to Schenectady's own Proctors Theater by Teatro Lirico D'Europa.
A classical indeed, this tender but still tragic drama appeals to a wide range of people, myself included. The Parisian atmosphere does bring back some vivid and joyful European memories also.

3. Helene Grimaud, piano @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
One of the best pianists that I have seen so far. A convincing performance that made up for those 75 minutes of delay due to a navigational mistake on the North Eastern highway system. It happens, you know..:) In the program, all the "big boys": Bach, Chopin, Brahm and Rachmaninoff. A must see show.

Why I hate mercatilist dentistry

Back again with new forces..

YES, I had a tough week, perhaps the toughest this year. Everything seems to go against my wishes and interest (my life, my research, the news from home etc); and on top of all that I had a really bad experience with A dentist, not MY dentist,since I will probably drop him not fast enough as I should have.

I cannot believe that crap like this happens even here in the States, supposedly first, a top-noch place for medicine (dentistry included) and secondly, the home of the brave and the place for probably most lawsuits in the world from which malpractice has a good chunk. In addition, I HATE all these doctors and dentists that are in this business solely for the purpose of MAKING MONEY. After all, mercantilism is not stipulated in Hippocrate's oath !!! But, many of them, worldwide seem to include it automatically. After all, viva los dineros! The rest is soon to be past history.
My personal experience was a bad one; after a bad one in my home country I was just in need of an advice on it. After rejecting the initial diagnostic (a root canal) which was just exaggerated by the DMD since it is an expensive one and he can easily make 800 bucks in less than an hour, performing it even on a tooth that doesn't need it. The filling, crown and all the goodies afterwards come as freebies for his practice again. Well I opted not to have one but instead I was tricked into replacing some fillings. Naturally, from 4 pieces it has gone easily to 7 with the final goal of reaching the same treshold of $800. Damn my exaggerate politeness!!
Ceteris paribus, this would have been OK with me (insurance got most of it; I only had to pay $ 25, but the problem is that I would have no insurance left). However,the big issue became the fact that he did a VERY POOR JOB on those fillings too and I had problems with them. Again my ugly exaggerate personal politeness kicks (without rights for appeal) in and I just go back to him and have those fixed, instead of taking pure american pleasure in a well deserved malpractice lawsuit against a shark like this.
I love pigs. Dogs are looking up to us, cats are treating us with disdain. Pigs are the only ones treating us as peers (W. Churchill) Do we all have to be pigs then??

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Back to the Future?

What do these three things have in common. Well, the chain goes like this: We all saw the "Back to the Future" series with a fresh new young Michael J Fox in it, plus a handful of other comedy series starring him. I must admit I have been ignorant in the star gossip all my life, thus I didn't know about his Parkinson's disease, founded in 1991 and made public in 1988. But this week I found out. Along with the small scandal surrounding it.

The story is simple: Michael has Parkinson(1); (2) according to the experts this is the disease which would benefit the most out of the stem cell research; (3) republicans opposed the stem cell research from various reasons (that go beyond the scope of this informal briefing) thus (4) MJF is campaigning along the democrat candidate in the state of Missouri which yielded some "not-so-nice" comments (e.g. he's faking/acting/inflating his brownian movements to attract sympathy etc for the cause and the democrats). Probably MJF would really like now to be able to go back to the past. I am not so much interested in the political side of the story but the medical one; there is indeed a dilemma; however, things a lot worse have been and will still continue to take place in the world so I don't see what is the acrimony so big in this case. There is a link in the title to the full story on CNN.

Which one is better: FireFox 2 or IE 7?

The release of Firefox 2.0 this week, came after the big expected emergence of the new Internet Explorer 7, bigger and better, supposedly.

Although IE is still by far the biggest player in the browsers market (about 82% of the world is using it), its share is eroded steadily by the new Firefox who, although it's a free software, it appears to be better in all terms (according to the specialists and specialty magazines).Many of the new features of the new Internet Explorer are mimicking those seen in the previous and current releases of Firefox, such as an integrated search function which allows for internet search across the major search engines and popular websites, including Google, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay. However, the Fox is still ahead in the eyes of the public also and with the rise of new open-source systems with more friendly interfaces (e.g. Ubuntu, which I personally liked once I have tried it) could result in significant changes.
For a more comprehensive analysis of the two browsers check out this review:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rock on Violin Strings

Ever wondered how AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Enya or 2PAC would sound in a chamber music session? Well, here you go. The String Quartet Tribute is a series of string quartet covers released by Vitamin Records by serveral different groups of musicians. They focus on one band per record, and perform classical versions of their songs, note for note generally. They use a wide array of instruments but focus mainly on violins and cellos. Over the years, they have put out a staggering amount of albums (214), honoring both mainstream and indie groups alike. They've put a classical spin on practically every genre of music (rock, pop, punk, techno, hardcore, emo, country, metal and rap). -wiki-

I just listened to the tributes for Linking Park and 311 and I thought that sounded pretty cool. I plan to get the Garbage, RHCP and Coldplay too because I like their style and tracks. When you go to the Vitamin Records webpage you'll see that this is basically a cover-based-type of label records with genres like dub/lounge/etc offering specific "tributes" to consecrated bands from many other styles of music. I found that interesting, of course, as long as the quality of remixing is above the average. So far, I haven't had the chance to test that.
The list of String Quartet Tribute (long and nice) series is available also on wiki:
See if you like anything in particular.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shocking footage

The Romanian TV station ProTV has registered record audiences by posting on their website a footage of a Chinese boder patrol shooting Tibetan pilgrims going to see the Dalai Lama in the neighboring India. Hard to believe it until you see it.

The middle-of-the-week movie

A masterpiece in some opinions (see the list of nominations and awards) a bunch of nonsense violent scenes, according to others, OLDBOY is a 2003 Korean movie that enjoyed some attention at numerous movie festivals while giving a good name to its director and writer, Chan-wook Park. I just rented this video out of my middle-of-the-week boredom state. And I liked it 90% of the time. The metaphoric interludes were interesting but just delays from the boiling action in my opinion and the whole set-up of the movie was clever but maybe a bit too complicated for those who prefer pure and straight entertainment over complicated mind puzzling situations. However, it is something more than "all right". I bet that if Tarantino have been directed this one, we would definitely notice a much bigger shower of prizes and $$ from movie theaters across the nation. Kill Bill has nothing on it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Romanian Soccer's Revival

After more than five years of decay, the Romanian soccer/footbal is gaining ground again in the last years mostly through their club teams. Last year, two teams (Steaua and Rapid, both from Bucharest) were opposed in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals (the only country with two teams in this stage of the competition) and afterwards Steaua loosing dramatically the semi-final in the company of the brits from Middlesbrough FC. Another team (CFR Cluj Napoca) also made it to the final stage of the third European competition (as value and money of the teams involved), the Intertoto Cup, which basically is a gate toward the UEFA cup. They've lost the final in two games (1-1 and 1-3) to the French from Racing Club Lens. This year, things are looking even better: 1 team (Steaua) in the groups of Champions League in a very select company (Real Madrid, Olympic Lyon and Dinamo Kyiv) and two other teams from Bucharest (Rapid and Dinamo) in the groups of UEFA Cup facing other famous teams such as Paris Saint Germain, Besiktas Instambul or Tottenham Hotspur from London. The only downside to it remains the national team who hasn't confirm yet the value of its components as a whole team and missed a victory against the Bulgarian team (main competitors for the second qualifying seat in the group) in the preliminaries for the European Soccer Championship 2008. But..there is still hope and need mostly, after missing the last major European and global competitions.

My 100th Post !

Well, this is it boys! We made it up to the first hundred.
Although I must say it, I never thought that this blog it will have a constant presence, I made the effort of writing up something as constant as possible. In these 13 or 14 months I think I managed to do that without too much effort. Indeed, the title is strange but wants to make the point that this is about everything else interesting and worth mentioning in my daily life (and even there is a lot about music:))..there are other things too). I will try to keep it simple, interesting and wider. See you at the 200th!!

A hard week

After a long and painful week with a blurry ending and lots of exogeneous tensions I am happy to see that I made it through..:-)..successfuly. From the piled up problems in my work and collaboration at school to a stochastic outburst of anger from my girlfriend, the skies sure looked cloudy these days. However, I kept it cool throughout the week and good things finally appeared. These days I am working on some papers, mostly on data collection and model formulation and it is quite demanding because I am doing a lot of things at once and there is no immediate visible result from it thus no real feeling of accomplishment. At that will probably continue as long as I am still putting the pieces together. It is great that I have so many ideas; not so great about the time and implementation (mastering econometrics). But I am confident that it will come out more than OK.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Great Romanians

A campaign, TV show and debate on Romanian public Television about the greatest Romanian personalities. Although in Romanian, the stuff might be interesting for othe people too to extend their knowledge on some of this people. But most of all, this is like a wake-up call for a national introspective and patriotic look at the history and famous figures that emerged from this country.

Can the Zeppelins make a comeback?

Well, I for one, I surely hope so. Besides the fact that they are environmentally friendly with the use of hydrogen, I just love the elegance and splendor of their design. I am curios how many people would be inclined to climb in one for a trip..
An exclusive German tradition and technology pushed towards perfection before the second WW, the airship tradition was abandoned in favor of the fastest and newest tech gimmick -the aircraft- and it never came back fueled also by the spectacular crash and terrible tragedy of the Hindenburg in 1937, the famous transoceanic German liner.

Fortunately, in the last years, there is some real hope materialized in a couple of firms, based in Germany and Switzerland, which offer the possibility of taking short/medium zeppelin tours.One such firm is the Zeppelin-Europe-Tours AG founded as Holding based in Zurich in June 2005 (
I guess that now one can fly if one really wants and has the necessary monetary endowments also :)After a moment of checking out the prices I came to the conclusion that it will have to wait, a few hundred euros for a half an hour doesn't quite measure up to my expectations.

Vadim, the DJ

These days I came across another Ninja Tunes artist, DJ Vadim, a prolific DJ and producer born in Russia but based now in London. The name sounds funny to any Romanian because of the obvious identification with a famous politician a nationalistic extremist but mostly on paper and in speeches (like all politicians afterall).I've listen to one of his albums (U.S.S.R. Life From The Other Side [Ninja Tune, September 1999]) and his latest project: the hip-hop group One Self with MCs Yarah Bravo (DJ Vadim's wife) and Blu Rum 13. The first One Self album, Children of Possibility was released September 20, 2005. Very good turntablism stuff while the latter has a lot of mellow funk influences which make it even more enjoyable and easy to listen. I like his website a lot too with all the Russian legacy presented there plus some free mp3.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Finally...up on the web

"I am online, therefore I exist."
In today's myriad of electronic resources, a personal website has become a must for every person that has even the slightest touch upon any other life than its own regardless of the formal affilation, opinions, race, IQ and all the other parameters defining a human being. However, I am a fan of design, mood and music rather than concentrated info and lots over lots of links. Viva le Flash and all those wonderful websites constructed with it; I hope to get one of those soon myself. Until then....

I finally posted my embrionic web-site up on the school's servers. Naturally I do not feel that the present job is final; however is more than enough for what I am proposing to do, which is just to show the world that I do exist. Doing a website resembles a lot with building a house from the ground up: the foundation, walls, structure etc are the easiest parts of the construction; the final touch and the details require most of your time. However I am content with the result and also hope it will impact positively my future endeavors.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My first Photo blog post

Finally I posted some pictures with my visit in Maryland. These ones are from Baltimore and the harbor area mainly. Next, I will put up some from North Beach and around home.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More experimental stuff

Check this stuff out. A delighful blend of music with various influences ranging from regular electronic music and amalgamating it with familiar elements of funk, acid, jazz, hip-hop, drum and bass and IDM. An excellent release from Wagon Christ aka Luke Vibert. Bits of jazz, lounge, dance, R & B, spoken words, and orchestral music are intermingled freely to create coherent new creations. Easy to listen and accept as good stuff.:)

Again, Luke Vilbert, this time with a collection of library music by other artists. However, in this case the man behing plug or wagon christ is searching through archives of late 60's early 70's French commercial and tv show music archives. Basically a couple of composers fooling around with vintage synths and syncopation. a listen hard to compare, not always engaging, but essential nonetheless for music enthusiasts...the rest will get dissapointed quickly and surely.

Pleasantly musical madness

Another out-of-the-ordinary release coming from Ninja Tunes: Zero dB's Bongos, Bleeps and Basslines.A right royal mash-up of zero dB's influences to date, musical, life and other - everything from dark, poignant hip-hop, through down and gritty hip-swaying BraziLatino dancefloor bangers, to beats they broke themselves, out and into laidback sunshine jazz - all built from the basslines up. For a teasing taste of their release (about 11megs) go on their website.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

An Autumn Italian Sojourn

I have to say that during this summer I missed going to the classical concerts with the frquency that I did during the school year. But I got back into it with a easy-to-listen concert "An Italian Sojorn" by the Albany Symphony Orchestra led by David Allen Miller, a very energetic and funny young conductor. The program: Respighi - Gli Ucelli; Vivaldi - Autumn and Winter; Mendelssohn - Symphony No.4 "Italian" and a young italian composer (F. Antonioni) with a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. This last piece and the two Vivaldi ones beneffited also from the participation of a talented violin player from Italy (Lorenza Borrani). It was a full house in Troy and the concert was in line with the expectations aka very good.
Funny perk: I recognized an aria from Mendelssohn's Symphony No.4 (II. Andande con Moto) in a collaboration piece between a romanian (Cheloo) and austrian (Texta) rap artists. To be seen if they really got there inspiration from this; it sounds though perfectly alike so I wouldn't be surprised.
However, Cheloo and Mendelssohn??:))

Friday, September 29, 2006

My first IMAX experience

IMAX is the ultimate movie experience. With crystal clear images up to eight stories high, and wrap-around digital surround sound, it literary takes you to places presented on the screen with its 3D technology and superior sound.

At MDSCI, the gave out an oldie but a goodie: SuperSpeedway. Released in March 1997 and seen by over 6.0 million people worldwide, this movie delves into the death-defying world of Indy Car racing and weaves together the stories of some of the masters of the highspeed track. SuperSpeedway puts audiences in the cockpit of an Indy car and catapults them into world championship auto racing at mind-bending speeds in excess of 230 miles per hour. Narrated by Paul Newman, the film was produced with the participation of the Newman-Haas racing team and the sponsorship of Texaco and Kmart. (source:

A tiny well deserved break

Last Wed I left for Maryland in a mini-break of 5 days till Monday. The primary reason is my girl's birthday on Sept 27th (and I had a big load of presents from all over the places that I've been this past summer for her) while a secondary one could be the fact that I haven't seen her in four months. Everything was great (the flight, the schedule, the weather) except the part when I went back home:)). The flight: again Southwest, this time 97 bucks round-trip (wow! The only downside to it seems to be the inherent delays from Baltimore Wash Int to Albany Int because the plane comes from another place). The schedule: free as a bird, we basically did whatever we felt like doing and that was neat; however I feel a bit bad because I didn't get the chance to visit again stuff in DC. However, Baltimore was nice; the Maryland Museum of science and the harbor area also. Besides that a visit to some friends and a walk on the beach were valuable also. The weather was exquisite; although not as worm as desired (the summer is gone, after all) there was plenty of sunshine making everything more attractive. Overall, a good breath of fresh oxygen.
I will post some pictures also but on a photoblog; now I am deciding which one to use since they don't seem so reliable.

Musical regression

I just got my hands on the debut album of The Cinematic Orchestra -Motion- released exactly 7 years ago. Seven tracks, great stuff, just in the purest TCO manner. The Japanese version has two more additional tracks basically two mixes from Hefner and Four Tet. I knew half of the tracks from other mixes or remixes of different Ninjas like DJ Food's Solid Steel turntable exercise. Still, an Excellent release!!
Released: 27 September 1999
Genre: Jazz/Electronica/Downtempo
Length: 51:09
Label: Ninja Tune
ZEN45 (LP)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Old school stuff

Another incursion in Liam's dark matter; reminded me a lot also of the Dirtchamber session LP. He goes back to the roots and shows a little of his favorites (which also come in Prodigy's tracks sampled or remixed sometimes, otherwise just as influences). A "De Gustibus!" (some will find it interestings; others will just hear a bunch of old records brought together in a debatable manner) mix of hip-hop, rock, punk, raggae and beats in Liam's well known style that starts with an original prodigy track (Wake ** up).


It is mandatory today to post a Happy Birthday! to a very special person (you know who you are!). May you enjoy this day and the ones to come even more that you did prior to this day; if that it possible, of course:)). Perhaps 26 is indeed a magical number..
Moreover, it seems that another thing was born on this day also. Google, the most popular search engine, is reaching the wonderful age of 8; a nice kid that likes to play and is a good child all the times. On top of that, I know another person celebrating her bday again, today, and that is interesting. At one point in time I also knew 3 others that were born on the same day as I was, but still, although I am a believer when it comes to the weekly/monthly/yearly horoscope (not so much the daily though!) they were pretty different from me. Again, maybe it will be interesting to run a regression using all the background variables and the DNA stock from the parents to tease out the true impact of the sign you are born under.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Stata Reloaded

Back doing the same things. I am trying now to take a crash course in Stata and applied econometrics at the same time and the hard thing is that I am doing that on my own. Still, I start to like it; however, the more you learn the more realize how ignorant you are in it; there are so many things to learn and so many questions to ask..

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dance Movies Series (# 5)

Anothe EMPAC event in the series of Dance Movies. The rain drove the projection inside Sage hall; however, I think (for the sound, maybe) that indoor it's better anyways. The quality was OK, more than half of the movies were excellent and original; the rest maybe too experimental for my taste:).
Keep it up, guys!

DANCE MOViES 5 program:
*Break, 2005, 14' (New Zealand). 2005
Written, directed and choreographed by Shona McCullagh
Performed by Ursula Robb, Thomas Kiwi and Arlo Gibson
Music by David Long
* The Art of Weightlessness: excerpt, 2003, 4' (USA)
Directed by DB Griffith
Performed by Bill Shannon

* Alt I Alt (All in All), 2005, 5' (Norway)
Directed by Torbjørn Skårild
Performed by Knut Eivind Reinertsen
Sound by Nina Skogtrø
* Tra La La, 2004, 3' (UK).
Choreographed, directed and animated by Magali Charrier
Performed by Allison Rees-Cummings, Barbara Lindenberg, Barbara Pallomina
Music and sound design by Jules Maxwell
* Montevideoaki, 2005, 5' (Uruguay).
Directed by Octavio Iturbe
Based on the solo While going on a Condition, created and performed by Hiroaki Umeda.
* Counter Phrases (2), 2000, 27' (Belgium).
Directed by Thierry de Mey
Choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
Based on the stage work "(But if a look should) April Me"
Performed by ROSAS (dance) and the Ictus Ensemble (music

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Re-Fried Dubwise Musical Lunch

The ultimate remixed collection from the Washington DC based duo features 18 dubbed-out versions of songs from The Doors, Sarah McLachan, Astrud Gilberto, Wax Poetic feat Norah Jones and many many others. It also includes a new original Thievery corporation track featuring the reggae legend Sister Nancy. Another perk is track #2 (Damien - Habanos Days) which has Romanian lyrics!!:) As the promo says: Another stellar addition to the ever expanding Thievery Corporation catalogue..
TRY IT with confidence! your doctor would agree.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I just got this new release from Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden)and being totally ignorant of his music went on the website for a little cultivation. Although the DJ Kicks sounds fine, I was extremely pleased by the samples from the 2003 release "Rounds": extremely melodic and harmonious, resembling a lot with the sounds of Bonobo. " Rounds was released in May 2003. It was Hebden's most ambitious album to date, incorporating diverse samples such as the mandolin on "Spirit Fingers", and even a rubber duck on the closing track "Slow Jam". Three singles were released from the album: "She Moves She", "As Serious as Your Life", and "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth".

This last single was released as an EP featuring remixes by electronica duo Icarus and Isambard Khroustaliov along with additional Four Tet tracks "I've Got Viking in Me" and "All the Chimes". An accompanying DVD featured all of Four Tet's videos to date. In addition, the closing track "Slow Jam" was featured in a U.S. Nike commercial in 2001 and 2002; Hebden edited the track on the back of the bus with his laptop while on a tour with Fridge" (wikipedia)
It's worthwhile to listen and glance also at the webpage; although pretty simple it has an original appearance and some taste of 4Tet's music.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back in the US

So, yes I'm back in the US. Joyless as expected.:) the re-adjusting is not that easy after a couple of months spent in Europe..but we are getting there. Also, the work part is about to start (and overcome me?) thus no need to worry that much about anything...besides that of course.:)). Hopefully it will be a year as good as the last one or maybe (why not?) even better. It certainly could be; it's just harder to improve constantly.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Remembering the Croc Man

Shortly after 11:00 am local time on 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a short-tail stingray barb while diving in Batt Reef (part of the Great Barrier Reef), off the coast of Port Douglas in Queensland. The events were caught on camera and the footage is now in the possession of Queensland Police.Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called The Ocean's Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi was hosting,when, according to his friend and colleague John Stainton, he swam too close to one of the animals. "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
After teasing hundreds of crocs, snakes and other wild killers it seems that Steve's lucky streak is over. An emblematic Australian and a huge consever of the nature, he will remain the closest thing to a Crocodile Dundee.

Home Sweet Home

After taking the train from Wien to Timisoara, I decided to simply go home because I was too tired from all the travelling and meetings. Thus, I got off the train in Deva and with the (slow) help of two other regional ones I got to Cluj, the "capital" of Transylvania and from there I went farther north: home. Sighet is the informal capital of Maramures the northern part of Transylvania and thus Romania and it is at it northern end sourrounded by rivers (the name means island in Hungarian) and lots of mountains. Just a couple of pics below to see what I am talking about.

Besides that, I really like my hometown. Although it's quite constant (not a booming/expanding city) it seems to be steadily improving cosmetically especially and it is a clean, quite and neat place to visit. While last year I travelled all over the country, this vacation I stayed mostly at home with a couple of visits to Cluj and to my gradmother in Bucovina.

Trully an epic journey to the North-Eastern part of Romania,Bucovina is the upper part of historical Moldavia, a land full of beautiful landscapes and world-wide famous orthodox monasteries. For me, it was more of a personal jouney and a promise made to my 86-yr old gradma that I will surely go there in case I reach Romania this summer. So, here I am...a man of my word, as always:). Overall it was a good trip just the bad train connections are a fun-killer: on our way there my mom (a very risk averse person) decided upon the safest route but the one with the biggest layover too. For five hours I took a trip in a small ville from Bistrita, Beclean. However, some extreme pushes like this may do some mental good in the long run, hopefully:)). All this said, in the 2nd train I enjoyed again seeing teh beauty of the Oriental Carpathians around Vatra Dornei and Ilva Mica.

It was a nice quite time just to relax and enjoy the moment in a totally rural environment away at least from our everyday's electronic vices (computer, cable tv). I visited also the cities of Radauti and Suceava with monasteries (Bogdana, Sf. Ioan, Dragomirna etc) and historical sites which are proofs of Moldavian ascension in the 15th century. Among them, I saw a Church from 1447, in Patrauti which is included in UNESCO heritage and it isn't one of the main touristic attraction. I wasn't even aware of it and most of the people are in the same boat as me..but there are a lot of beautiful monasteries to visit all over Moldova painted with natural paints and glowing in vivid colours even after hundreds of years.

An afternoon in Wien

After the intense 5 days spent in Steyr at the ESD I headed back to Romania and my hometown, Sighet. On top of that, regardless of my fatigue, I decided to visit a bit Vienna...something that I knew I'll regret if I'll pass on. I have beeen there a couple of years back on another 6 or 7 hrs layover and visited some of the town but the October or November harsh weather and the rain stopped me from enjoying it completely. This time around all was well and sunny and I got to see another part of town, the nicer one with all the museums and old buildings. I walked the city with two other ESD participants (Christelle from SWE and Gregory from RUS) and it was (a lot more enjoyable) than the usual "solo mode" of visiting.

Walking through Wien I always feel like going through a huge museum where there is always a thing to see. Afterall, like other former emperial capitals, the city has a lot of history and culture to back up its fame. I just want more time to properly enjoy it.:(. Maybe next time...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

ESD 2006, Steyr - Austria

the European Science Days 2006 were held in Steyr, Austria under the common theme of Economics of Education and Science with a focus on European issues (and students). Well at the end of the day, I don't know how much of the focus was kept but most of the presentations were of course characterising the US (since the faculty were coming from there, obviously). Some people didn't enjoy that so much. However, I was pleased with the crowd (about 70 something students) all the best (I guess in my humble view) that Europe has with valuable additions from the top US universities (Harvard, Princeton, MIT etc). The faculty presented also an impressive line-up with top-notch professors from all over the world, some of them (Trajtenberg, Stern, Shankerman, Aghion etc) which I wanted to meet since my work touches upon there academic achievements.
Pluses: Impecable logistic organization, a very good academic environment, nice afterwards atmosphere, good food & beer. Minuses: little/no feedback on my poster (for which I worked so hard) :), overcrowding of faculty with people trying to attract attention and take advantage of all possible opportunities; time span too short => high concentration of presentations and speakers.

Steyr: a small town, beautiful, old; reminded me of a Romanian one (Sighisoara) which is quite similar. Here are a couple of views of it.

Old Town Gate

Really Old Gothic Church

Die Rathaus or City Hall

Final Recap of the Summer (short summary)

That's it. No more parts and pieces..this should be it and all of it.
Just got back from my native Romania and I have to skip a lot of things just for the sake of being concise about it now, due to the inherent laziness and busyness at the time when this should have been posted.

Ohh yeah, my laptop also was kaput for the last three weaks or so (hdd failure; unknown source since it has some phisical troubles too, but also you never know with these viruses). As a result lost all the data on C:/system drive and access to the hdd (funny enough between my IBM and an HP they didn't recognize each other when installing a fresh new WIN on a fresh new partition). The 40 to 44 pin adaptor that I have bought also failed to do the job (hmmmm?) so I was left in the dark with everything else..blogging included.
BUT I AM BACK...with a vengeance.:))
So here it goes..

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Unkle in the Shadow

This is the last of DJ Shadow's releases. The Outsider (2006): An overall interesting but very heterogenous mix of music styles, rapping and fat beats, some interesting and provocative other just strange sounding,:)
De gustibus...but I would give an 7.5 out of ten to this release.
The intro is a two minute long story telling which reminded me a lot of the intro for UNKLE's "eye 4 an eye" in the same historical drama style. The 1st track This Time is great one (remember the time?); will surely blend in with other tracks on an OSD for a 70s (remake) movie. 3 Freaks is a piece of up-to-date hip hop mastering. Drop-E-Drop is a pausing track. Turf Dancing- boring and trying to be too original; sounds aggresive though:)). Let's do it the other way around; What have liked besides the ones mentioned above: Broken Levee Blues (an mellow guitar solo as expected), Backstage Girl (slow rappin and a good melodic line), Triplicate (instrumental, slow, excellent), Enuff (feat Q-Tip) and Erase you (with some wicked drums).

Friday, August 04, 2006

part 4. Timisoara, the little Wien

Timisoara was much the same city in which I have spended 5 years of my life during my Bachelor's and Masters at West and respectively, Technical University. Funny enough, I got the same "rejective" feeling about it, as I vividly remembered the first contact. Besides this, there are some improvements, mostly cosmetical, the tram lines are still much a work in progress (re-doing them) just the targeted neighborhoods changed.

The Unirii square is now full with terraces and people which kind of a lowered its beauty (too crowded and commercial now). The commercial spirit is much alive, people trying to make as much as possible of you, prices went up significantly I would say, and most likely the social dissegregation is taking place. I visited all the city by foot and went to all the places that I enjoyed here throughout my college years. A sweet but mostly sour strange mix did take place but still I enjoyed much going back in time a bit.

Perks experienced: the unfiltered local beer Timisoreana served in Unirii Square - pretty damn good one. Do not change currency anywhere in the center!:))) usually there is a big scam/difference in exchange rates going on; Take a ride on the tram if you can, it used to be a good way to survey the city (not anymore due to the work on the tracks). Last but not least, it is good to be anywhere in Europe during a WORLD CUP !! lots of beer, people and good time.
Overall, a good but maybe not so useful trip back in the memory land. I do not feel connected at all anymore to the city. It was good though that I did it and got the chance to visit some friends I haven't seen in a while.