Multidimensional Renovation

Day 356 Week 52 Q4  Thursday, December 212, 2022

So, yesterday I found myself sitting at the long table, in front of the well-stoked fireplace in Rubi’s, my favorite cafe in town, which has the very best grilled cheese in town, and why not for the cafe is owned by the cheesemonger in town.  And yes, there is snow on the ground because it is December, a few days before Christmas in the Berkshires.

I thought it best today to begin grounded instead of in the middle of the potentially enveloping multiple dimensions. And this small cafe, in the small but special New England town of Great Barrington, MA, was a perfect place for the foursome accumulated at one end of the long table, who, slightly surprisingly, were four teachers.  A meditation teacher, a yoga teacher, a tai chi teacher and an innovation management teacher.  

And not surprisingly, all of us had prior lives. One was a writer, one was a conductor, one was an international antiquities textile arts dealer, one was an engineer, and all were entrepreneurs, and all of them were men.

And they all arrived in this small Massachusetts town of 10,000, not even a city, from the many different cities and places they had lived in the prior decades even though they were all originally from New York, a thousand times larger, and arguably the cultural capital of the United States.

That is perhaps a long-winded introduction to the topic of multidimensional renovation, but I had to paint the scene as it was, seemingly, so improbable. But then again, nestled in hills roughly equidistant from Boston and New York City, two and half hours for each if you were an aggressive driver,  three if you were not, and six if it was Thanksgiving.

One would not ordinarily expect to find worldly sophistication seated on benches, eating grilled cheese in front of a burning bright fire, which was welcome as the temperature outside was below freezing, but in this town, it is not rare at all. Nor was it accidental. 

Back to the topic of renovation, which, if it is to be total, has to be multidimensional, or after all, we do live in a dimensionally vast multidimensional universe, and if we are comprised of the same stuff of the universe, we live in, then we too have a pretty chance of being multidimensional ourselves. And yes, these dimensions are all connected, which means if we are going to overhaul ourselves in a major renovation job, that simply cleaning out your closets will not get the job done.  It tends to ripple outward to the drawers and shelves and eventually to one’s mind, which, after all, is always the thing that needs the most renovating. 

After all, the physical stuff is just a set of manifestations of the mental stuff. When sitting at the table full of seekers described above, we had better expand mental to psychospiritual.

The question of what do we keep and what do we let go of applies equally to the closet’s contents and the identity ideas.  This is what makes things so multidimensional, for how do we know what to keep unless we know who we are, or at least who we think we are, or at the very minimum, who we think we are in the present moment?

The question is easy to ask but not so simple to answer because there are so many different answers depending upon which vantage point we are viewing who we are and what we are doing from. But one thing is clear, our past, present and future are all strongly enough connected not to permit very much discontinuity. Therefore every item or thought is kept or discarded in relation to each other.

Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to undergo voluntary self-renovation.  It might be easier to occur after a heart attack, a flood, or other gigantic external events, demanding an immediate response. More straightforward, perhaps, but I am thinking that the voluntary self-guided approach might be less disruptive.

Wait, I think I heard some of you say that disruption is the goal, isn’t it? This is where the multiple dimensions part comes back in. We can not transport ourselves to a different universe without reigning ourselves with us. Some dimensions are more perturbable than others. And others like a great grilled cheese sandwich in front of a cozy fire, with snow on the ground, with fellow traveler seekers ….. well, I don’t want to perturb that one.

JUNE 5th 2012 (Recap): How is technology changing music?

The Silicon Valley Innovation Institute is all about innovation, whatever the form. Last week, we had a fabulous event focusing on innovation in music–specifically, as the title of the event asked, “How is technology changing music?”

The evening began with casual mingling and chatting. During this time, even though they were not an official part of the program, the entrepreneurs from Unplugged Instruments got the night off to a good start by showing off their super cool self-amplifying guitar (available through kickstarter).

Then we had dinner from the fine fare of Angelica’s Bistro (also the location of this event) while music was played by Scot Sier and Andy Markham, followed by a stunning Bolero dance by Roland Van Der Veen and Jessie Chen.

Jessie Chen and Roland Van Der Veen dancing the bolero
Jessie Chen and Roland Van Der Veen dancing the bolero

All this happened before the main program, which was an extended exploration of how technology is changing music (for better or for worse). Mostly, it was agreed that technology is helping music by, as SVII founder Howard Lieberman put it, “lowering the barriers to entry and allowing artists to reach more people with their music.” However, there were also some hints that it may not all be good. For example, Andy Markham, a guitarist from The Cat Mary, pointed out that “There is no law of the universe that dictates that music needs to be a way of making money.” Just as brick-laying is a profession that is now all-but-extinct, in five hundred years, technology may have made music so easy to produce that being a professional musician will be an impossibility. (He didn’t necessarily say that such a scenario has to be a bad thing, but whether it is or not would probably depend on your perspective.)


One thing that is for sure is that technology has changed music immensely. Even in the change, however, one can see the cyclical nature of music (rhythm, anyone?). For example, because technology such as iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, and BitTorrent (to name a few) have made music anywhere from cheap to free online, musicians have become much more dependent on revenue from live performances, which is somewhat of an echo of past times.

Additional juxtapositions of the new and old in music and technology were also highlighted by the other panelists. Budda Amplification founder Scot Sier talked about how he got the idea for his current company: At one time, he had a tube amplifier, but then he sold it. After that he realized how much he missed it, because it sounds much better at a lower volume than other amplifiers, which is important for preserving your hearing if you are a musician. This inspired him to start a company which would actually make tube amplifiers, which before then had been a dying breed.

Scott Sier contributes to the discussion as moderator Darius Dunlap looks on
Scott Sier contributes to the discussion as moderator Darius Dunlap looks on

Also present were the father-son-instrument-making-duo, Rick and Eli Turner, of Renaissance Guitars, who have mastered the art of creating a wide array of relatively mainstream instruments and equipment in surprising new ways. Eli Turner uses Photoshop and solid works to model instruments on a computer, allowing him to design and work on instruments much faster. But even though he uses new technology to make new instruments, the past is still quite influential. Whenever he is designing a new take on an existing instrument, he looks at the classic models of that instrument, which he likes to pay tribute to in his new designs, as in his partially cut-out guitar based on the Fender Strat (called the CopperCaster).

Eli Turner showing off his cut-out Strat and other instrument that I can't remember the name of
Eli Turner showing off his cut-out Strat and the electric tonkori that he is working on as well as a traditional acoustic tonkori

One of the highlights of the night was when Robert Hamilton of Smule showed a visualized version of people from all over the world singing “Lean on Me” together through the Smule Glee app (online karaoke and music collaboration). After the tsunami in Japan, someone in Japan posted the starter track as a way to encourage fellow Japanese people. Later, people from all over the world started hearing it and adding their own voices.

Another product that Smule makes is electronic instruments for computers–i.e, ways of playing music through your iPhone, iPad, etc. Hamilton mentioned that one of their most popular settings on the My Ocarina app for the iPhone is the Zeldarian setting, which mimics the way an ocarina in the Zelda computer game sounds, which is (as far as we know) not reproducible by an acoustic instrument. This echos something which Eli said about the flow of technology: “Technology tries to mimic the physical world, which forces us to learn more about the physical world by studying it more deeply. Then we take the physical and try to mimic technology, which forces us to learn more about technology.”

Robert Hamilton of Smule talking technology and music as Eli Turner looks on
Robert Hamilton of Smule talking technology and music as Eli Turner looks on


SVII is the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute. We aspire to cultivate innovation by bringing creative people of all types together in a thought-provoking environment. Our next event is July 18th, and is an opportunity for anyone to showcase their creativity and audacity in performance and art.

Bass guitar and Eli Turner's CopperCaster
Bass guitar and Eli Turner’s CopperCaster

10/5/2011: Green Housing + Community Center

The focus was on the creation of a Green Community Center in North Fair Oaks, CA. Activist architect Morton Frank presented a social venture to manufacture green certified, prefabricated housing units, onsite, in the community and for the community. An additional group of housing innovators lead a discussion on how to change livable to space in order to suit the environment.  Read more