tilting at windmills. The ones above happen to be in Austria, just east of Vienna, driving back from an October customer visit in the eastern Czech Republic. We passed through Brno, which I realized today was the location of the monastery where Gregor Mendel performed his important and eventually famous early experiments in genetics, carefully recording the results of his experimental breeding of pea plants. On that same business trip, I also spent a day in Sofia, Bulgaria, on my first visit to that country. I'm still traveling quite a lot on business, though usually to the same places I have visited many times before, such as Japan, France, and Germany. Bulgaria made me wonder how many countries I have visited since I first started international travel in 1981 (there was also a 1977 family cruise that took me briefly to some Caribbean islands and to Caracas, Venezuela). A rather meager 32 countries (see below* for the list, if you care). And still only 40 US states. What a slacker I am!
I'm not actually tilting at windmills, of course. I guess I just mean that I have not entirely given up on trying to do things that are important to me, mainly creating music. One of the best things I've done in recent years was to throw myself a rock-and-roll birthday party back in June. It was cool to play a bunch of my own songs as well as a number of classic rockers with a rock band for a room full of family and friends. I also continue to collect and listen to large amounts of other people's music, old and new. I love discovering new sounds. And I still work regularly on writing new music. The most recent song that I completed and demoed was a jazz ballad called Love is All You Need.
Alas I have largely given up on flying airplanes, though one never knows what might happen as long as I am theoretically able to pass a flight medical exam. I would still go on a space flight if I ever got the chance, though I'm not planning on spending a lot of money on this, which leads me to doubt how serious a goal this may be. I still tilt away at a couple of foreign languages (French and Japanese). I also strive to read perhaps a book a week, though I have given up on a one-time goal of reading the "Great Books of the Western World." I realized a while back that I don't have much patience with any prose that was written much before 1900. That makes most of the Great Books a real stretch for me.
Of course there is more to life than music, books, and travel - there are also Apple i-devices! And apps! And more importantly, a wonderful family. I'm quite lucky in that regard, and I am especially enjoying watching my granddaughter Stella grow up. She's already 14 months old!
If I could wish for anything it would be for the gift of completing songs. I constantly generate many new musical ideas and a fair number of lyrical ideas, but I probably start 20 songs for every one that I finish.I've decided to devote as much time as I can during the last week of the year (when the company is closed) at gathering up the most promising song fragments of 2013 and turning at least some of them into completed songs and demos. I must have 40 or more promising fragments sitting in various apps and files on my iPad, iPhone, and PC. I'm sure there are enough for a new album in 2014.
I also didn't see the Northern Lights in 2013.
* Countries and territories I have visited, in approximately chronological order: USA (40 states), Canada, Mexico, St. Vincent (British Virgin Islands), Martinique (French department), Curacao (Dutch dependent), Venezuela, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Japan, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy (including Vatican City), China (including Hong Kong), Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, India, Monaco, Spain, Russia, Slovakia, Bulgaria.