Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011-10-30 - mgt 566sx - week 6 - beat

this week, i'm reflecting on marcomé's blog post "the sound of silence"

while searching for my blog's "competition," i found an parallel approach in her question:

"Does silence have a sound? Do we ever stop just to be still and listen?"

after which, marcomé goes on to display some absolutely gorgeous outdoor photography. each bears a caption that calls to mind the natural sounds that might be present in each scene, along with implored requests to:
Turn off your cell phone and the television.

You could take a minute for self-reflection, or just enjoy the scene being fully present in the moment.
Listen closely to the sound of silence here. 

interesting is the fact that marcomé is a musician (new age singer), yet by focusing on silence, with words, but more importantly with stunning visual images, to prompt the reader to internally listen.

whether you're remembering a place you may have gone and what it sounded like, or you've never been, so you are free to concoct any soundscape you like, using one's imagination is a form of listening.

attribution: National Park Service [Public domain]

nature can be inspirational; sometimes, there is no substitute for being there though. (contrast the NPS public domain photo with the one i took below, admittedly not in winter.)

own work; half dome near sunset. [all rights reserved ©2008]

while i can imagine how the national park service shot might have sounded, i remember how yosemite sounded when i took this picture three years ago.

marcomé's post makes me want to find those tranquil spots, so that i can store place them in my memory for respite against the construction, the internal-combustion, the jet engine and all the other loud actualities of life.

2011-10-30 - mgt 566sx - week 6 - learning - audience

understanding your audience. 'working the room.' what you say depends on who you're with. these are all ways of politely saying that you're gonna piss off some folks some of the time whether you're writing, speaking, singing...(interestingly enough, you're probably going to have the least pissed-off people if you're silent)

it seems that noise and sound blogging falls into one of one of two main camps:

EITHER: official and/or technical (example: acoustics by design)
Otari MTR-90 Remote & Locator
photo 1
these blogs are scientific, fact based. technology focused, many of their benefits revolve around single bottom line approaches (e.g., profit and productivity) rather than environmental or social concerns. 

OR: "woo-woo"/new age/alternative spirituality-based (example:

Birmania, (pagan) buddha coronato, XIII sec.
photo 2
these blogs are often earth and/or human-centric. while there are some with a christian focus, many of these blogs are buddhist, pagan/wicca, crystal/energy based.

my concern is that the although the two camps often touch on the same core thread that noise reduction is good for people, because they're polarized as to what the 'real' resultant benefits are (say, profit/productivity versus personal health)

to me, i strive for a balanced, inclusive approach (hmm, sounds very similar to the 'catalyst' leadership agility stage we're studying in 'leadership and personal development' class)...while i sense it's hard to either teach scientists spirituality or the other way around, i think that the subject under study should dictate the direction, not the audience...i don't want to limit myself!

photo 1 attribution: by lorelei from san francisco, usa [CC-BY-2.0]
photo 2 attribution: I, Sailko [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011-10-25 - mgt 566sx - week 6 - learning

exemplar videos, memes, culture & the test of time

week 6's social web class topic of 'analytics: understanding your audience' gave me pause after last week's discussion of memes, [bits of information copied from person to person (harkening back to the greek root for 'imitating'.] while the word 'meme' is commonly (mis)used to describe viral internet phenomena, susan blackmore in her "memes and 'temes'" TEDtalk, defines 'temes' as memes (both internet and cultural) that propagate themselves via technology rather than human beings...

...if, as in our readings this week by lorelle vanfossen and hal finney point out, our blog posts transcend physical media (data replication ad infinitum outlives the printed page,) AND we must take care when including highly topical or cultural references, and only include content that will speak to future readers, this makes blogging a lot more challenging, potentially more generic, and possibly a fool's errand. (i know i'm not a fortune teller; i can't see the future and what people will want or expect to read about then!)

last week, we were also tasked with finding 'exemplar' social change videos. it was interesting to compare the ones that the class found, and that the quality of 'exemplar' is definitely a subjective one! although i didn't find one readily about noise abatement (or noise in general), i like to think the ones that i found speak now and potentially to viewers in the future. i hope that future viewers only have to reference these as 'historical notes' that document the successful eradication of social ill, a healthy world, and children free from oppression. (i'm admittedly an idealist here.) 

  • causecast interview: india.arie 'music's role in social change'
  • temple of sacred sound - world sound healing day, feb 14, 2011
  • free the children: how to organize a (24-hour) vow of silence
    • the amazing takeaways for me were: the 24-hours of silence includes no texting, social networking, charades, drawing in addition to not talking...and, this doesn't have to only be children...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011-10-23 - mgt 566sx - week 5 - beat - listening challenge

while walking at pt. isabel off-leash dog park today with a friend, i was relating the julia "butterfly" hill quote "there's no such place as 'away.'" quick as a sonic boom, it dawned on me that 'away' does exist, but only in a selfish, relativistic way. if i'm in alameda, then san francisco, sarasota, or senegal are all 'away' from me.

what we fail to realize is that 'away' isn't for somebody or some living creature. even though sound affects 'local aways' more (e.g., if san francisco has a fireworks display for the 4th of july, i'll not only see it but also hear it in alameda,) the sound waves of those fireworks continue rippling through our atmosphere even after they're no longer felt nor heard by humans...think of the butterfly effect, or the SOFAR sound blocking channel in the ocean (graphic below), and Project Mogul used to experiment for a SOFAR region in the earth's upper atmosphere.

Acoustic pulses travel great distances in the ocean because they are trapped in an acoustic "wave guide". This means that as acoustic pulses approach the surface they are turned back towards the bottom, and as they approach the ocean bottom they are turned back towards the surface. The ocean conducts sound very efficiently, particularly sound at low frequencies, i.e., less than a few hundred Hz. - Wikimedia inc. SOFAR channel. (n.d.) Retrieved Oct 23, 2011 from
my resulting thought, is noise is inversely proportional to happiness. after doing a little bit of reading here, i found an excellent definition of noise (and a little bit of proof of concept):

"Noise is defined by any person, place, feeling, thought, word, event or thing that causes you a feeling of discomfort or unease. Simply the items in this category would not be things you feel make you happy." -Lipman, A. Blocking the noise. (n.d.) Retrieved Oct 23, 2011 from

so here's the germ of an idea for social change...the "listening challenge!"
at least two if not three times a day, have people with smartphones measure their acoustic environment AND their mood (perhaps even location) and correlate directly...where are they the happiest? angriest? quietest?
you can do primitive audio metering with the included iphone 'voice memos' app...

Friday, October 21, 2011

2011-10-21 - mgt 566sx - week 5 - video uploaded

as part of this week's deliverables for bgi mgt566sx, i uploaded my first youtube/vimeo video tonight as an introduction to my personal brand and this blog. i took all the snippets of footage included, which spans the globe (austria, fiji, paris, oakland) because noise is everywhere. i also wrote all the music (except my friend andré's drum fill) since i didn't want to worry about licensing!

patrick t. rost - sounds and silences blog intro from patrick rost on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011-10-18 - mgt 566sx - week 5 - learning

for mgt 566sx (using the social web for social change) class, we all were assigned a 'beat' (a specific area where we would focus our attention for the possibility of social change, much like a newspaper reporter might be assigned to the 'city' or a 'sport' beat.)

my beat blog is about sounds, silences, and holding the space between them. i have always been concerned with the excessive noise in our world...noise is often described as 'unintentional or undesirable sound', but this belies its subjectivity. one person's music might be another's noise.

after much deliberation, i...kept my blog name the same as when i originally started it in winter of 2011 for systems thinking class. ( ...which by its very length presents a blog branding challenge. i currently own the domain; although's hosting is fairly bulletproof and they do offer a blog service, it doesn't seem to dovetail easily with blogger.

due to its subjectivity, noise wanders the continuum of sound and silence; one might say it "navigates the 'and' between them." (well, if you go to bgi you might; as i do, so i say)...i intend to focus on the effects of sound (including sub- and supersonic vibrations, and by extension, silence) on all living systems in an effort to understand in what ways we might tune ourselves, each other, and our world to be in concert. the first step is listening.

as mentioned in christopher allen's slidecast around producing quality audio for video, our ears do a fantastic job of filtering out nuisance noises (HVAC, lighting, equipment, flags, etc.) when i first got involved with high-quality professional audio, i felt like someone had taken blankets off my ears...i was listening for the first time! good microphones reveal the darndest things...squeaky chairs, errant (non-musical/unintended) resonances of instruments, rooms, and people...i felt engaged! when recording my music, i still often value these little idiosyncrasies, as they put the stamp of a time, a room, and a performance which will never happen exactly the same way again. as long as the ambient noise doesn't change suddenly, these artifacts can lend a degree of realism to recordings that studio techniques might otherwise sterilize...

however, real life doesn't happen in a studio, or we could just apply the miracles of digital signal processing, editing and equalization to easily remove the ceaseless racket of jet engines at the airport, make sonar that doesn't harm whales and dolphins, or carve out a little bit of silence in which to give our ears, minds and hearts a break.

discussion question:
if a factory incessantly grates, wheezes, bangs and churns but no (privileged) human is around to hear it (because we outsourced the factory location to the mythical land of 'away'), does it make a sound? does it damage the environment?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2011-10-16 - listen to your stomach!

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011
this is a special blog post in honor of blog action day 2011 (october 16, #bad11); you can find out more here.

listen to your stomach - don't overeat!

not all listening happens through the ears...some of it happens by bone conduction; that is the mechanical coupling of our bones passing vibrations that feed into our inner ears. (this is why most people don't like their voice recorded..."it doesn't sound like me.")

anyone who has the privilege of three (or more) meals a day has a great opportunity to listen in another way: to the inner sensations of our bodies whenever we reach for a snack (particularly the unhealthy, junk-food variety)...or when we convince ourselves "i'll just have one more drumstick" when we're way past full already...(witness the phenomenon of articles like this.)

many times we in the united states and other developed nations have the luxury of grabbing whatever we want and shoving it down our gullet...the next time you do, ask yourself:

  • do i need to eat this?
  • do i need it right now?
  • am i really thirsty, not hungry?

...the real trick is to listen to your body's answers, not your mind's. i'm sure that we can all consciously rationalize that can of pringles, that carton of ice cream, or even that leftover bowl of quinoa...but before you do, silence your thoughts...

be in your body... do you feel? what does your body tell you when you stop to listen to it?
(ah, good, don't you feel better? you didn't really need that candy bar, did you?)

now for the tough many people in the world don't get to make the choice you just did? how many people are deafened by the screams of their body for food, some food, ANY food, but who can't do anything about it since they don't have ready access to what their bodies so desperately cry out for?
words about food scarcity, malnutrition and aid misappropriation fills hundreds of thousands of pages; spanning from county to country to world.

just because you might be able to eat doesn't mean you should; if you have the luxury of being able to be more mindful of what you eat and when, how much money (and food) would you save? would you donate any of it to your local, national or worldwide food relief agencies? how about at the checkout line when you can donate with one extra button push (ok, maybe two pushes, the first to say 'yes' and the second for 'how much')?

try it...listen to your stomach, then your heart. chances are, they'll tell your brain to not spoil your dinner and donate instead.

2011-10-16 - mgt566sx - week 4 - beat - links

waveform of my ambient song 'mabon'
this week, as i researched but a paltry few of the infinite variations between sound and silence, i found more and more evidence that sound both helps and hurts...
  • certain tonalities can help plants grow, while others can harm those healing in hospitals.
  • noise comes in a rainbow of colors.
  • even when we don't necessarily perceive sound, the body feels vibrations, even before birth!
i know that i want to help humanity reach a tipping point where our sounds, be they music, talking, tuning fork are more helpful than they are harmful. i'm hopeful that this will result in more meaning and less stress, illness and damage. stay tuned!

(oh, and, go here if you want to hear what the waveform above sounds like...fall is here.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2011-10-11 - mgt 566sx - week 4 - learning

personal branding: me AND the world...

last week's big push was to 'brand' myself; why do i do the things i do? who am i? how can i 'attract' others to my true purpose of quieting our world?

this exercise was much harder than i imagined it would ever be. it's one thing to have people i know and trust (i.e., bgi students) label me with post-its they feel describe me and working with them to categorize and summarize qualities about me...
me & my branding buddy
it's another to put the question out on my social networks...publicly:
i even got a response from someone i went to _grade school_ with!

one of my best responses
i definitely had to step out of my comfort zone!

creativity & right livelihood class this quarter has re-awakened my long-slumbering 'visual' artist mode; i needed wordle & the 'tree of life' exercise to coalesce all this data into something manageable...
i had a lot of fun trying out the different wordle options for colors, fonts, and layout...maybe some brand colors are hiding in there...

i bought colored pencils _expressly_ for this exercise! 
after all of that, i found that it really boiled down to sharing and participation. the ideas that i'm a bridge (the word 'and' happened most because i think in dualities / polarities), that i am and that i make it 'safe to love', am open, deep...seemed inversely proportional to the amount of feedback i got outside of social media class! hmm, i definitely went through some 'pity, party of 1?' moments around my perception of my lack of social capital. thankfully, my loving partner (who offered 19 words!) and conversations with the dolphins (my learning circle) buoyed me back up where i belonged!
serendipitously, a friend of mine who's comparing smartphones was fiddling with the camera on my iphone4 captured an inviting image of me...
at last, round 1 of my personal branding was done...

psound74: electragician. grounder. quieter.

...and as a final note, today's 365 tao meditation:

'when the roar of the city is all there is, how can the song of the divine be heard?'

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011-10-09 - mgt 566sx - week 3 - beat

week 3 - introduction to my bgi beat...

when i first thought about a 'beat', i figured that it would be noise abatement related. after a week of personal (re-)branding; a profound ritual; and some initial research into the intersection of sound, vibration and healing, i have honed in on three points where i can do the most good using the tools of social media:
  1. encouraging a personal devotion/meditation/reflection time and space
  2. ...which will lead to others' awareness of exactly how loud our world is
  3. ...which will lead to a need for education around unwanted/excessive sound and practical reduction/elimination solutions

today's 365 tao reading was 'focus' - '(meditation) is the way to bring one's very humanity into focus'
(full reading text here.)

how can you take a moment for yourself today? it's even harder when you live next to a noisy neighbor with a loud TV or stereo (sometimes both), a subway or an airport...

(pie-in-the-sky thinking alert!) what if:
  • silence was treated as a valued commodity?
  • every lawnmower, edger, etc came with earplugs & manufacturer's warnings? 
  • hospitals' ambient noise allowed convalescence without anxiety?
practical thinking: the first thing is awareness of the volume of our lives...where and when was the last time you took a few minutes to yourself without being in the car, without earphones or speakers, a phone, or even conversation...i challenge you to spend 10 minutes without making any intentional sounds. what do you hear? how does it make you feel? can you even stand it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011-09-29 - mgt 566sx - week 3 - learning

'filter creep'

two concepts i linked from last week's reading, the intensive weekend and this week was the combination of clay sharky's 'filter failure' and the trust levels in the 'social network' slideshare.

  1. if we are required to be the arbiters of taste, and to only contribute "valuable" information online (as we have become the gatekeepers; there are no editors as with printed materials), this may keep our followers small in number.
  2. as our popularity grows, our 'monkeyware' kicks in...we want to belong, more and more!. perhaps our editing hand gets a little lazy. (if i post a salacious detail, maybe i'll make a few more friends!)
  3. unlike the dunbar number real world limitation on unstructured trust, where the physical number of bodies makes clear the transition from a crowd to a mob, numbers of 'connections' on a screen belie the effort involved to actually engage (or disengage) them. 'unfriending' a contact is now a spectator sport versus the quiet dignity one used to have when tearing, cutting, or scratching out someone's name in the little black book.
  4. soon enough, we reach a tipping point where we can't possibly address all these folks 'following' we prune...we go through the wails of our former 'friend' beseeching us to reconsider...
  5. go to step 1.
just like spam filtering, there's no "automagical" way to keep one's follower's organized forever; you may be able to sort them into circles, groups, or lists, but at some point, those categories will become unwieldy and need to be manually sub-divided.

walking in late to class sunday morning, i learned a surprising lesson about timing...evidently, even being late can hold some power!

perhaps a foundation in traditional etiquette can carry forward into netitquette...when i first began using facebook and linkedin, they didn't have the bulk-add / 'search your email for contacts' features. when they added them, i resisted, thinking that this would come across as impersonal spam. i intentionally put at least the invitees name (if not some memorable hook) in the message box...i was pleasantly surprised to find this recommendation in slide 78 of christopher allen's slideshare...what is the source of this advice?