Monthly Archives: January 2020

Rest well, dear friend

I just learned that a friend of mine passed away. A beloved and joyous soul, and a remarkable cellist and teacher, I only crossed paths in real life with Sonja a handful of times. I don’t believe she had even turned 40.

My last direct interaction with her was a year ago when she hitched a ride with me to Newport to rehearse and perform with the Newport Symphony. We enjoyed spirited discussion during the drive about music, life, travel, and wonder.

Here we are joyously playing string quintets that weekend.

I am reminded how short, precious, and fragile life is. Again.

The world is a slightly quieter and more somber place without her, but her jubilant light will continue to burn brightly.

Ocean Waves, Spectacular and Dangerous

Waves crash against uplifted rocks near Shore Acres

In my last post, I shared a couple photos of the amazing waves to be seen on the Oregon coast during the winter. Oregon natives and travelers from afar are drawn to the coast to view this powerful display.

Breakers at Simpson Reef

Behind the spectacle, there is the power and the danger these waves pose.

Tragically, two children, 7, and 4, have already died having been swept into the ocean just two weeks ago.

Rocks and surf near Yachats

That brings the total number of people killed since 2000 by sneaker waves on the Oregon Coast to 19.

To give you an idea just how massive a sneaker wave can be, watch this video. It was taken a few years ago at Bastendorff Beach, just a couple miles south of where I grew up.

Massive sneaker wave a the south jetty at Coos Head

Newport Symphony Concert: Mendelssohn and More

The Newport Symphony will be performing two concerts this coming weekend. The first will be Saturday, Jan 18, at 7:30pm and the second on Sunday, Jan 19 at 2pm. We will perform:

Handel –  Water Music Suite no. 2
Bach/Webern – Musical Offering: Ricercare
Hindemith – Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64

The Mendelssohn is, of course, one of the great violin concerti, a required piece for any serious violin soloist to learn. Of it, famed violinist Joseph Joachim said:

“The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most uncompromising is Beethoven’s. The one by Brahms vies with it in seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch. But the most inward, the heart’s jewel, is Mendelssohn’s.”

– from The Concerto: A Listener’s Guide by Michael Steinberg

Our soloist, world-renowned soloist and acclaimed chamber music specialist, Anthea Kreston, played it effortlessly with little warm-up during our first rehearsal last weekend. In fact, after our first read-through, she exclaimed, “that was great! We’re ready for the concert!” Maestro Flatt jokingly responded, “okay, folks. We’re done here. See you next week!”

The Handel piece will be familiar as it is often played for weddings. I find maestro Flatt’s interpretation adds new life and energy into the old standard.

The Webern is beautiful and a bit ethereal, transforming a Bach melody into a wonderful musical game of password, where the melody is passed, often one note at a time, from instrument to instrument. Although written in 1935, the listener will find it much more romantic and melodic than most 20th symphonic century music, I think.

The Hindemith work is a towering piece. Although it has some of the dissonance and occasional bombast one might expect in a 20th century work, several musicians and I agreed that portions of the piece sounded like excerpts from a John Williams movie score. Be sure, also, to watch the percussion section, particularly at the end of the first movement. They have a lot going on and it’s interesting to watch and hear the interplay, like parts in a machine, whirring, clanging, and pounding in a complex coordination.

Spouting horn at Depoe Bay, Jan 11, 2020

A wholly different reason to come to the coast is to see the spectacular Oregon coast winter storms. Combined high tides, winds, and king tides offer visitors rare views of roiling seas, giant breakers, spouting horns, and billowing sea spray.

Waves crashing on rocks at Depoe Bay

Whether you come for the concert or the winter storms (or both), you will enjoy your visit to the Oregon coast. If you come to the concert, do come up to the stage and say hello!

Removing Facebook Advertising “Likes”

It has been over two months since I stopped posting, commenting, and liking posts on Facebook. During that time, I have continued to briefly scan and read posts. I’ve posted a solitary post during that period, and I have used FB Messenger a few times. But I have made no comments and not clicked “Like” once during that time.

When I stopped my FB activity back on October 30, I cleared out all the FB Ad Preferences. These are the settings that FB creates based on your online activity and drives the ads that are displayed on your wall. It is a tedious process to clear them out (unsurprisingly), and I was curious to see what FB would generate in the absence of daily posts, comments, and likes.

In the two-plus months of near-zero activity, my Ad Settings generated:
30 Advertisers and Businesses who uploaded a list with your info and advertised to it
26 Advertisers and Businesses who have uploaded and shared a list with your info
105 Your Interest – News and Entertainment items
67 Your Interest – Travel, places and events items
58 Your Interest – Business and industry items
48 Your Interest – Hobbies and activities items
15 Your Interest – Sports and outdoors items

All these items “based on your activity on Facebook” drive the advertising listed on your wall (as well as likely information sold to marketers and ad agencies). It is a tedious process to clear them out, and if you, like me, want to do so, I recommend doing it on a computer and doing it in shifts. Here is how to do it on a computer:

Note: Facebook is often arbitrarily changing how the website and Facebook apps work, so your steps may vary

  1. Log into FB
  2. Select the Down-Arrow in the top right and choose “settings”
  3. Click “Ads” in the left column
  4. Click “Your Interests” and a selection of “Interests are determined based on your activity…” will appear. It may default to “News and Entertainment”
  5. Click the “X” in the top right corner of each to remove them. You have to do it one at a time.
  6. Click “See More” to see the next set of items and repeat steps 5-6 until done
  7. Click on the next Your Interests” tab (e.g. “Travel, places and events”)
  8. Repeat steps 5-8 for all the “Your interests” tabs (Business and Industry, Hobbies and activities, Sports and outdoors)
  9. Once completed with Your Interests, scroll down and click on “Advertisers and Businesses.” It will likely default to “Who uploaded a list with your info and advertised to it”.
  10. Repeat steps 5-6 for this set.
  11. If you wish, you may click on “Who have uploaded and shared a list with your info. ” However, I have found no method to remove items from this list.

Note: You may have scores, or hundreds of items to delete, so pace yourself and take breaks. You may have to do it in multiple sessions.

When done with all the items above, scroll down further to “Ad settings.” I recommend you set the following:

  1. Ads based on data from partners: Not allowed
  2. Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere : Not allowed
  3. Ads that include your social actions: No One

Interestingly, all my settings were already set to these choices, so one is left to wonder how all these new Facebook advertising items got generated in the past two months.

The steps using the FB mobile app on your phone will be similar, but I find it easier/faster to do on a browser on your computer.

Here are the steps I followed to remove ad info on my Android smartphone using the Facebook app:

  1. Launch Facebook
  2. Tap the three horizontal lines in the top right corner
  3. I scrolled down to the bottom and tapped “Settings & Privacy”
  4. I tapped “Settings”
  5. I scrolled down and tapped “Ad Preferences”

I now see the “Your Interests,” “Advertisers and Businesses,” and “Ad settings.”

  1. Under “Your interests,” I clicked “See all your interests” and I can see the rows and rows of Ad items
  2. At the top, it will default to “Your top interests.” Click on it, and choose “News and Entertainment”
  3. Under each individual item, tap the three vertical dots on the bottom right below each square.
  4. Click “Remove Interest”
  5. Click anywhere to go back to the full list of interests
  6. Repeat steps 7-9 for all interests you wish to remove
  7. Once you have removed all the interests, scroll to the top and change the category (e.g. “Lifestyle and culture,” etc.)
  8. Repeat steps 7-11 until all interests have been removed

Cutting Firewood

Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice

– Henry Ford

New Year’s Day is often spent recovering from the prior night’s celebrations, perhaps taking a leisurely day, or conversely cleaning, organizing, and planning for the new year. Some may take it as the first day during which to put into action any New Year’s resolutions. This New Year’s Day I chopped firewood.

One of several empty firewood bins

A senior couple in Newport has opened their house to me, friends, and relatives for years. They’ve generously shared conversation, meals, and endless beverages. Last time I was visiting, I noted that their wood bins – all 4 of them – were bare. So I decided to split and stack the large pile of wood I’d seen covered and untouched in a year.

Firewood waiting to be split

Splitting wood takes me back to my years growing up. The house I was raised in was heated entirely by wood fire as was a fair amount of our hot water. We had three wood stoves: one in our basement, one in our living room, and one in our bath house. One daily chore was to haul wood and kindling up the stairs to keep our wood bin supplied, as well as to start a wood fire in our living room fireplace. The bath house stove heated the water used in our kitchen, and its tall, narrow shape and relatively small opening required small pieces of firewood.

Countless days and weeks were spent sawing logs and splitting wood. Living on the beach, logs sometimes washed ashore. Out would come the chainsaws, wedges, and splitting mauls. Sometimes we’d spy logs floating in the bay, and we’d take a rowboat or kayak out, pound a spike into it, tie it with a rope, and tow it to shore to be cut and split.

The beach in front of my childhood home with concrete sea walls to protect against storm waves

The smell of fresh-cut wood, and the satisfying crack and creaking sounds of wood fibers being wrested apart, the pounding of my heart, and the dripping sweat on my brow bring back vivid memories from childhood of so many cords of wood cut, split, stacked, carried, and burned.

I also have vivid memories of wedges stuck in recalcitrant stumps, and the pounding of splitting mauls and sledge hammers, and the prying with bars and a peavay required to free them.

A quiet, efficient power splitter

Happily, my friends had an electric power splitter. What an amazing a satisfying device! It was quiet and easily sliced through stumps filled with knots. No lifting and swinging an axe, splitting maul, or sledge hammer! So the majority of the physical labor was simply feeding the splitter, then removing and stacking the split wood.

Serendipitously, a couple of other friends had contacted me about some dried, cured, and cut firewood they needed to get rid of. They agreed to meet me in Newport, unload their truckload of wood, and help with the stacking and splitting.

A group of six of us (including an amazingly energetic and agile octogenarian) made quick work of the sizable task, and we finished after about 5 hours of work.

Sun breaks during the first day of the new year

Although the weather forecast threatened 90% chance of rain and winds 15-25 mph, no raindrops fell and the wind was breezy, but mild. The sun even broke through momentarily, and the temperature remained right around 50 degrees, which was perfect for the strenuous labor.

Three firewood bins filled, courtesy of my friends’ delivery

My coastal friends were delighted to have a huge supply of fresh, dry firewood – probably enough to last at least two winters. There still is some wood left to split and stack, and I intend to finish that task myself the next couple times I come to the coast.

Freshly split and stacked firewood, about 6 feet tall and 5 feed wide, and three levels deep

Some good physical labor and working together with friends to help some seniors feels like an auspicious way to bring in the new year. I am hopeful and optimistic for 2020, and hope you are as well.