Sunday, March 05, 2006

msb-0007 Changes in Environment

Any listener feedback goes first so let me hear from you.

I know you're out there listening. is wonderful that way. I don't know who you are but I know you're out there.

I am not out here alone. That is a strangely powerful thing.


I just heard on BiddyCast_065 that the guitarist of the Lacivious Biddies, Amanda Monaco, was diagnosed with MS in January 2005.

I reached out to her by email as a fellow MSer and a guitarist (in my case even an ex-guitarist.) I will be joining TeamBiddy and making a pledge.

She's in New York and I'm almost in Manhattan (in Jersey City.)

I'm trying to line up an interview with her. (Wish me luck. Or at least that it won't cost me too much. Musician don't turn their noses up at a paying gig. :-)

Maybe I could get her to play one of her own compositions. We'd all like that.

I'll explain my editing process later in the 'cast so you can a feel for what goes on and into producing one of these shows.


Kaye just got back to me, (again with the Fozzie Bear voice: Yeah!) Look for some more news and interviews soon from Kaye real soon now. (She's wonderful. Yeah! I'm a fan. :-)


I was listening to podcast411 and he had Matthew Ebel and Laura Clapp on. (Its a great podcast, and I'm not just saying that because he once ran my promo, so go and download it from

I was struck by how similar my life and Matthew Ebel's life ran, recording my own shows into my dad's Sony reel-to-reel tape deck, except that I ended up going deeper into computers, partly because there was no podcasting in those days.

But since podcasting is here now, I'm just loving it. I may not be able to play anymore but I don't have to merely cheer on from the sidelines.


Still no winner to the 'prize question' for my listeners out there. (The episode hasn't been up there long enough and caught its peak download period yet, on wenesday. )

The winner will get a gift certificate for $50 bucks worth of iTunes.

I've been Googling (you didn't think I was going to make it easy, did you?) and I can't find out the answer to a simple little question:

"Who designed the "'broken M, broken S' logo" for the MS Society?"

Maybe it was just a Canadian thing, I don't really recall seeing it in the 'States, they seem to favor a rather florid cartouche here, but it was the most evocative one and descriptive of the effects and of the disease.

I think it was based on Helvetica bold, or some other sans-serif typeface, with a stripe of the upper right ligature of the M and the middle of the S blocked out (or that's how I replicated it in the '80s.)

Computer typography has moved on quite a bit since I started and I no longer have neither the typeface nor the tools I used to replicate it. Actually, I doubt it would still work even if I had it; I'd used PostScript 1; they're up to PostScript 3 I think. Its been a while since I followed it.

That's why I want to get a new version of it to use in the blog, the media and to give my late cat a chance to finally get some rest on the iTunes site.

Even a GIF or two of the 'MS' would probably do but I'd really love it if it was an entire typeface with the capitals 'blocked out.'

Remember, I need the typeface. Just telling me "Hermann Zapf" or "Milton Glazer" doesn't cut it. I need an email address where he/she or their studio can be reached.

Think on it.

$50 bucks at the iTunes Music Store, my eternal gratitude and a chance to beam proudly and point at it whenever you see the logo.

Got to be worth something, even if its only $50 bucks.


I have the same request this week as last week.

Could you get yourselves on my Frapper map?

Its just down the left hand side of the page

Just above that, you can Subscribe with iTunes.

Just above that, you can Email Me.

Just above that, you can fill out my simple little Audience survey.

Don't bother to vote for me on Podcast Alley. (Like, what was I thinking? With 0.0833% of the population having MS and this show being geared for us, the highest we could ever get is still 1/1,200. :-)

And some comments (on the right-hand side) on the episode you liked, or didn't like, would help me guide my future episodes to reflect what you want.


Well, now I've done it.

My home office is changing. The thought I had a couple of episodes ago that I should get a shovel and scrape down to the floor with it turned into an inspiration, then a plan, and now its coming to fruition.

New furniture, new decor and an entirely new layout.

Its nice to have a credit card with a healthy limit. (The card has a healthy limit even if I dont.)

I just got off the web site. Yee-ouch! $2,989.68 with tax and shipping. (Yaaah! That's 3 grand. What am I nuts?)

I better be fuckin' nice, that's all I can say. Every time I go into that office, I'd better feel like I've having sex with Lucy Lawless, or Kate Moss or somethin'.

I think I'll take a couple of pictures before I crap it all up again and post them on this blog ( , on the poscast host ( and even include them in a copy of the 'cast for the iPod. (Its the .m4b file as opposed to the .mp3 file for non-iTunes subscribers.)

I'm going all out for you. (Well, okay, its for me too. ;^)


Last week was about my business plan. Well the management précis there of anyway.

This week, I've just been re-listening to item 133 of podcast411 (go look for it in iTunes if you want to learn all kinds of stuff, or even better, feel smart when you don't learn all kinds of stuff,) and it was an interesting take on the mechanisms of monetising podcasting.

I'm proud to say that the direction I'm heading in seems to be aligned with what's happening in the advertising world; jumping on my horse and riding off in all directions at once.

There were two articles in the New York Times ("As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born" & "Hungry Media Companies Find a Meager Menu of Web Sites to Buy") which confirm the fractionalization process that the internet is forcing on media chains:
  • the demise of the broad, but forcably content-less, channel, leading to the rise of the special interest channels, and
  • the demise of the broad but limited interest advertising channel, leading to the high-focus, high-content, high-context content aggregating ad-space.
Both of these are still using a metric a $/K-views because, while the quality of the views is under debate, the sheer number of views is not. (There's is not much we can do about the quality of the viewers except pray that evolution really does happen. Eventually, a Howard Stern should not be possible.)

With podcasting, I can guarantee that 100% my audience is at least interested in MS. You can't even think that with broadcasting. We're only 0.0833% of the population.

They might not think much of my eclectic and very indy taste in music, and if they don't, they can reply in the comments for that specifc episode, so I can shift to something they do want to hear, from country and western hurtin' songs to Tuvan throat singing.

I like anything as long as its done well and with passion, in the performance if not of the piece: Phillip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi being a case in point and She Wants Revenge Red Flags and Long Nights being another (both of which I just played while typing this section.)


This week its about Changes in Environment.

Notice the lack of a definite article.

I know they don't have definite articles in Russian, but tovarisch, its not because I have any Russian roots. Spanish, si. Russian, nyet. My ex-wife once studied some Russian and, of course, I, being the print-a-holic I am, read her course material while sitting on the throne.

I wrote it that way because Changes in Environment are both for good and for bad.

Its a matter of how you react to them.

My own circumstances are pretty good.

I could have said pretty bad but MS is a strange disease.

It tends to leave you pretty optimistic, pretty upbeat, despite whatever environment you find yourself in.

I don't pretend to know much about MS. Specially not at the molecular-event level.

As to why it struck me?

Who the Hell knows?

I was just the one in twelve-hundred people who gets it.

Statistics are strange. They can tell you exactly what your odds might be without giving you any clue as to what is happening and certainly no hint as to why.

Maybe that's why I consider myself to be a godless bastard atheist.

And proud of it man. Proud of it.

In the lottery of life, I am just one in twelve-hundred.

That's all that MS means.

There's no message there; no crime, no retribution, no justice, no blame, no causal link, no smoking gun, no magic bullet.

I was not struck down; smitten for some terrible unnatural act. I have no sin to be expiated.

I'm just one in twelve hundred.

It doesn't mean anything.

If you're listening to this, you're probably similarly afflicted, and probably on either side of the health scale from me.

But I'm pretty sure you've reached the same conclusions about yourself and your place in the wider scheme of things.

We all just have roles to play and people we relate to in the commission or execution of those roles.

Now lets get back on topic: Changes in Environment.

We can take an omnibus approach and just describe it as to or for, by, with or from, both the real, physical or the unreal, spiritual space we inhabit.

I have lived my life knowing that everything was about to change.

I expect it.

Hell I demand it.

I have no respect for a static lifestyle or for the people who lead them.

Sometimes change found me on my back in a hospital, rediscovering how to swallow.

Sometimes change found me sitting at this keyboard plotting how to make these podcasts a commercial / financial success.

Multiple Sclerosis needs at least one.

Muscular Dystrophy needs at least one.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease, needs at least one.

Hell, every disease or disability needs at least one.

Can you see the environment into which this is leading my business plan?

Because of what I discovered about myself and about how the world works during the first kinds of changes, I used the down-time provided by my clapped out nervous system to plan, well plan might be overstating it, to adjust my reactions and give my life direction about how I handle myself during the other kinds of changes.

We find ourselves coping with constant change in environment, both internal and external.

In my case its episodic. For some its degenerative. Personally, I'm much happier with episodic. I'd hate to think that, as lousy as I feel some mornings, that that was the best I was going to feel all day.

I must say that some days, it feels like I'm on a fools' errand with this blog and with podcast and the whole business plan thing.

But that doesn't last long and I am able to gather up my strength and go on with Mein kampf.

We struggle daily with changes in environment both external and internal.

The external environment is basically because we are all 1 in 1,200. That is too small a minority to ever get enough media attention to grab the public attention.

Most advances in MS research have happened serendipitously in the process of research that was being conducted for something else, like AIDS or cancer or diabetes research or even in something as mundane as, say, finding treatment for toe nail fungus. (Do the math. Every body's got ten toenails. Only 1 person in 1,200 gets MS.)

But anything that helps, uh, helps.

The internal environment is something else. Its the burning feet of Montel Williams and others. Its my own freezing feet. At various times, I've had impaired vision, hearing, smell, taste and various senses of touch, like pressure and temperature.

I can understand the physiological changes that result in neurological changes that result in sensory changes.

The psychological effects of changes in our sensation are both a curse and a blessing.

Yes, I hate to feel like I'm standing in a champagne bucket all of the time. I hate it but I can't change it so I've adapted to it (or at least learned to ignore it because I know its not real, unless I am standing in a champagne bucket.)

Yes, I hate to feel like my physical bundaries are set outside of my somatic box which causes me some spasticity. The control structures of my body, my soma, are not in line the real boundaries of my body. My kinesthetic sense gets all screwed up, I reach too far for a glass or for my socks, and that also causes me to rock and to sometimes fall.

But that's just the effects on the feedback or somatic loop.

What I really hate is the effects of MS on my volitional control structures.

The interference of the MS on the signals I send to tell my legs to move one way or another, I used to be a dancer, or even to guide my fingers to pick a particular string, I used to be a guitarist, or to type a particular key, I used to type effortlessly and with accuracy, is a big PainInTheAss.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that its going to be allright or that I wouldn't change it.

I'd change it in a New York second.

I'm friggin' hoping that the medical researchers find a way to undo the past damage and remyelinate my frayed wiring and make all of this just go away.

But until and unless they do, I'm going to cope and live as best I can with the changes MS has brought to my cabling.

Yes. My body has MS.

It has put me through changes in my internal and external environments but it has not changed me.

And that is the hopeful message of this week.

I'm no inspirational or motivational speaker, or even Dr. Waine Dyer begging for our money on PBS. I'm pretty sure that I'm too friggin' busy to be one.

But I will tell you this: Keep on truckin'

Because you've got no other choice except to lay down your sword in defeat and there is nobody to accept any surrender.

Ms. Monaco, may you triumph where I've had to declare a draw.


It's later now and I'm going to get back to discussing about how these shows get put together.

The writing and recording process for these shows is a little different than just sitting down in front of a mike and streaming some chat and some tunes at you.

That's what you get from the MP3, a single stream.

But its actually a lot choppier than that and evolves over the week, or in some cases weeks, that I spend putting together the material.

Picking the music, usually with each song conveying more than one message so that it can work on several levels over several listenings, is a little more complicated than just putting something on that I hope you'll like.

I mean, I hope you like it, but I select songs that will continue to provide thoughtful entertainment over time. It should work over several moods and through several listening sessions.

The show's theme evolves over the time that I put into it. It is sometimes a reaction to an event, like learning on Friday afternoon that Ms. Monaco has MS.

The blog text is not carved into stone until I commit it and the recording of the audio takes me at least a day, partly because of my own MS.

I will admit that I would do a better job of it if I had a prompter system instead of reading the blog entry and trying to convey the same level of emotion that went into writing the piece in the first place. (Note to self: put together a prompter system. The design for one should occupy me for a day or two. Then who knows how long it will take for me to actually construct it. ;-)

It gets pretty awkward because I'm a very parenthetical thinker and writer and have straighten the whole mess out and screw with the text trying to turn it into a monologue.


I used to be the kind of boy that mother's warned their daughters about, and that girls would pass on to their friends when they couldn't take it anymore; with a recommendation slash warning: "He's all hands ... and lips ... and ...".

I know that I'm still handsome enough to try my hand at video blogging.

You can thank AlternativeKitten aka Rachell Knight, who's book "Begging for Mercy Offering Grace" is on my desktop right now, for tempting me into that.

You'll probably be subjected to a video of my living room and of my own not so humble self, sitting there with my red cane, pontificating, as I is my want.

But its got to be something more than that. I never did anything gratuitously. I'm thinking... I'm thinking...


P.S. To AT&T and the other telco greedy sums-a-bee-at-ches:

Go ahead. Implement your tiered internet.

I don't care. I can upload and people can download the episodes on the cheap. You'd kill streamed media and I really wouldn't care.

Hell! Charge by the packet too if you think you can get away with it.

That's what used to happen to me when I was connecting with X.25 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

$900/month telephone bills for me, alone, by myself, to connect to CompuServe.

Go on and grind all communications to a halt.

Well see how long that lasts.

Your butts will be regulated into acting sensibly in no time. (Again, Ma Bell. Again. Did you think we'd forgot? You got split up because otherwise we'd still be stuck back in the 'fifties.)

You know why you're facing re-regulation?

Because the military created the internet, over your incredulous objections about packet switching I might add, funded it, prosletised it and now the 'net and the web are very big business.

Much bigger than your business. You're just selling access to buried fibre. That's it! If fact, you ripped us off by charging us for fibre to the home that you never delivered.

Go on. Try charging like you could thirty years ago.

You'll end up begging to sell your shares, because you're a commodity. (But of course, the stockbrokers won't be calling you back; you charge too much.)

The root of commodity is commode. That's French for convenient. But you're trying to be inconvenient. Just like in the past... Forget it. Its not happening...

You can buy politicians for a while but they're eventually tossed out.

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