The Other End of Sunset

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Sun (still) also rises

Don't judge a book just by the cover
Unless you cover just another
--Sex Pistols

Well, something strange is afoot, perhaps not at the Circle K(tm). I would like to give a warm welcome to some new readers. However, I feel like I should give my disclaimer again. In fact, I should put some label in the body when I give my disclaimer, so OtherEnders can write some client-side code to strip it out when I include it again. I think I’ve given it a lot over the past year or so.

So, here is the Disclaimer. I don't talk about work. Really. Regardless of what I do. I won't post comments about work, and I rarely respond to comments -- but I love reading them, and sometimes comments respond to other comments. And when I pose math problems, Ryan always answers them. That's all good. I don’t talk about work. Instead, I talk about ... nothing very predictable.

But I can predict I won't talk about the music industry, because I never talk about work.

Heh. I can hear you now -- "Wait, the music industry? I thought you were at Google?"

Yes, I was.

A few weeks ago, I met a really inspiring guy. And, as a result, decided to leave Google to work for him. So, now I'm a music executive. In the deepest part of my heart, I worry that I don't really know anything about music.

Except that music is the wallpaper of my life. You may listen to a song and hear notes. I hear memories. And the songs bring them back. Some good memories -- the Prince song that SL danced for me -- and some sad memories -- the Depeche Mode song that was JR's ring tone when she was ill.

I hear a soundtrack to my thoughts all day, regardless of what I'm doing. I spend all day surrounded by music.

What a gift. I wish I had the talent to make music, but I don't. But I'm a fan, and grateful to the artists who do have that talent. I appreciate being able to hear your art; thank you for sharing.

Speaking of "hearing", have any of you seen that ad on late-night (cheap) television for the new hearing aid that the doctor inserts into your ear? It's small and supposed to yield great sound? That claim could be true, I don't know; but the ironic part is that the ad doesn't have a URL, it has a phone number. They tell *hearing impaired people* to make a phone call to find out about a new hearing aid. But phones are super-hard for hearing impaired people... doesn't everybody know that? Or at least, shouldn't people that make hearing aids know that?

// Side note: If you have called me, and I wasn't chatty, it's probably not that I don't like you. It's that phones are hard for me. Luckily, the folks at the place I *used to* work did a great job getting me wireless headsets that covered both ears and were well amplified. So, I could take calls and do lots of stuff on a phone. Thanks, gang. Despite all the jokes I made, and times I complained at you, the team was awesome. I'll miss you all. //

I think this is the first time I have referred to Google by name -- or as my brother sometimes calls it "The Big G in the Sky".

// Side note: yes, my brother works at Google. No, I didn’t hire him – he got hired on his own. He's a *real* engineer. Yes, he's smarter than me, and can actually do stuff. When I have programming, math, or statistics questions, I call him. He is useful, that’s true, but I'm taller. That's something. And nobody has ever called him "Captain Obvious". //

// Side note, on a side note: I think that the person who called me “Captain Obvious” recently was trying to insult me. I've decided to take it as a compliment. I mean, lots of amazing things were obvious in retrospect. The sun does not revolve around the earth -- obvious in retrospect. Energy and matter are transforms of each other -- obvious in retrospect. The war in Iraq would be long and bloody and not at all easy -- obvious... well, to some anyway. Regardless, I have decided to wear my Obvious-ness proudly. I'm going to make myself a Captain Obvious costume. Don't worry, my costume won't have a cape. But I need a sidekick. Perhaps Transparent Boy would be an appropriate one. Ok, enough of this. //

I was stopped in a parking lot the other day by a sad and distracted looking woman in a late-model American car, who asked me where a particular local funeral home was. At first, I answered -- reflexively -- "I don't know." Then I realized I did know.

It was where we cremated Jeanne.

I looked at the woman again, and saw a vagueness in her eyes that I recognized. I was wearing it when I went to pick up Jeanne, in her little brown box. (There's a post about that -- go read it if you want details.)

So I gave the woman directions -- it's hard to find the place actually. I wonder if that's on purpose?

God speed, madame.

From an information perspective, most of us die in vain. Nothing about our life or death helps the next generation.
--Ian Ayres

And if that weren't enough, the next morning K made me go through all my files -- in preparation for changing jobs. And I, of course, came upon the bill for cremating Jeanne. It's surprisingly inexpensive to transform a lovely woman into a pile of light grey ash.

And I sat on the floor of my lovely office, surrounded by boxes and trash, and cried. Thank god I have an office door I can close.

That night at home, I was sorting some more papers, and I came across a card that she wrote me right after the Google IPO, when I was in the hospital. She wrote how proud she was of me, and how I'd been part of something that would change the world, and how she'd be with me when I woke up. A very sweet, loving note.

So, I sat down in my home office, surrounded by boxes and half disassembled computers, and cried again.

In the name of whatever is Holy, that's enough reminders of JR for one day.

I was thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
--Neil Young

K then told me off, again, nicely. She told me that Jeanne wouldn't like me holding on to sadness like this. I think that's probably (still) true. Now, if I just knew what to do with that fact.

It is funny what makes me sad these days. It seems to be changing, somehow. For example, I was listening to my XM radio the other day, on the 80’s channel.

// Yes, yes, I know, SL, my radio is always on the 80’s channel. But can we focus on the story here? Yes, I know, you prefer the world music station, but this is my story – you can write about your music on yours. Ok, ok, I’ll change it! Give me a second… Done, like that music better? //

Anyway, back to my story. I was listening to the radio the other day, and there was a BeeGees song playing. For the longest time, I confused the BeeGees and ELO. I have no idea why, since they don’t sound at all alike, but I confused them.

And one summer day, JR got tired of me confusing them, and so got out her CDs of each, and we listened to a bunch of each one, and I figured out that they are different.

But, unfortunately, now that I can tell them apart, hearing either of them makes me sad. For me, the music takes me back to the moment.

I still listen to Crowded House, though, even though it reminds me of her, because it also reminds me of other things, and of how I first shared my music with SL.

There are even sillier things that make me sad. There’s a pleather pouch, full of random small bills from random countries. Some of the currency is no longer in circulation, and the whole lot was probably worth $100 or so at the peak of its value. It sits in the back of what was JR’s desk. It’s been sitting there, probably, since I put the desk together, years and years ago.

I hate that pouch. I have no idea what to do with it. And every time I see it… well, you get the picture.

You can play the game and you can act out the part
Though you know it wasn't written for you
--James Taylor

Allow me to change the topic, suddenly, without any warning, and without much knowledge aforethought.

I went house hunting in LA the other day. Now, I need to make a real side note. Do you all know that SL's friend M's family *owns an island*? Yes, really, an island. Of their own. I've never even owned as much as an Atoll -- suddenly I feel out of my league. Perhaps I should have said something like "out of my 30,000 leagues under the sea" but islands are actually not, generally, under water.

However, I'm sure that if this island were to find itself underwater, the current administration would send trailers for people to stay in -- but they wouldn't show up for the better part of a year, and they'd contain extremely hazardous chemicals. So, avoid the flooding. That would be my suggestion, but it is just my perspective. Your mileage may vary, and, as we all know, past performance is no guarantee of future success.

And a quick shout out to Megan S -- it was cool to see you on that flight, and thanks for the comment that I didn't post... but you didn't include your email address, so I can't email you back.

In our current circumstances it is actually the will of the people that is often the objective being sought -- yet there is still a tendency to use overwhelming military force in the belief that winning the trial of strength will deliver the will of the opponent.
--General Rupert Smith

While I'm on the topic, a few others have sent me comments recently -- a fairly large contingent from that small town in Arkansas where I grew up. I haven't posted most of them, because many of you *did* include your email addresses, and I didn't want spam crawlers to get your addresses. Hopefully I successfully sent each of you a reconnect note. If I didn't, please forgive me -- I probably lost the email in my queue.

So much for the "world's most organized man", eh? I guess I just have good PR people. Oh, wait, I have *great* PR people. Useful, pretty, and skilled -- and in London, still at the moment.

To paraphrase my perennial social network status, I still miss SL. Only a few more weeks until she returns. She’s been gone a few months, and I really miss her.

But she’s learning a lot, and having fun, and meeting cool new people and doing cool new things.

And soon she’ll be back here.

My brown dog still runs to the door to check and see if she’s behind me when I come home at night, sits and waits a few seconds until he decides she’s not here. Then he turns and sighs; a second or so later, he brightens back up and runs over to have me scratch his back, and the evening begins.

Don't be discouraged!
Oh I realize
it's hard to take courage
--Cyndi Lauper

Apparently, one of the most downloaded ring tones is “Girls just want to have fun”. So there, Mike – it’s not just me!

Yes, I had that ring tone for a long while. It was hilarious. I had it when I had the bright pink RAZR that my team bought me for the holidays that year. I loved that phone – then the roof leaked over it, and the phone spent 12 hours submerged in about 6 inches of standing water. It didn’t work so well after that.

I retired the ring tone with the phone. Now my default ring is “Ballroom Blitz”, but I have many custom ring tones, and I put a silly amount of thought into what I select. SL has a snippet of our song. BF has “London Calling”. One of my favorite ex-coworkers (now) has a bit of “Wish you were here”.

And yes, I bought all my ring tones legally. I do believe that people will pay for music.

Have you ever poured a glass of champagne, and noticed how lovely it is? The bubbles swirl randomly, creating chaos. It’s unpredictable and off-kilter. But then, suddenly, the bubbles even out, and a steady stream of bubbles comes upward from the bottom of the glass in a nice neat line. Suddenly, order emerges, but the order is not static. It’s an orderly change process.

Something happens that changes the entire interaction, the entire situation, from chaos into an orderly set of changes. There’s a lesson there.

Go pour yourself a glass, and raise it. Raise it to your family, your pet, your job, your friends. Raise it to your favorite writer, or songwriter, or… well, whoever.

But watch the bubbles.

It’s a fine, fine day for a reunion
It’s a fine, fine day for comin’ home
--Tony Carey


  • new gig = cool
    brown dog = always cool
    lots of sidebars = distractingly cool

    But on the "a steady stream of bubbles comes upward from the bottom of the glass in a nice neat line", I have some sad news - it's by design ... at least in many restaurants and especially wineries service champagne. They use a glass with a deliberate scratch or imperfection right at the center of the bottom of the glass. This gives the bubbles a specific place to form. And we all thought it was cosmic (not man's) design. Oh well.

    By Anonymous Glen, at 5:37 AM  


    I'm so proud of your move :-) It's clear to me that music is sloshing around in your veins the same way that blood does for the rest of us! Good for you for launching out in the direction of your passion, regardless of what others may think or say about your decision...and they've certainly published a lot of crap on the web already - you may face some heat.
    Don't fret, they probably haven't lost the love of their life either and frankly, that kind of experience will develop you in ways most people will never know, and lead you to make decisions that few understand - it's all good :-)
    BEST Blessings Douglas - i look forward to seeing you ROCK the music world :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 PM  

  • inspiration seems to be the only thing that stands the test of honesty, looking back, forward, altruistically and those rare time if only for self. i read your blog quite often, your open journey is an inspiration, congratulations on acting on new inspiration. hope you have as much effect on the artists that inspire us and bending an industry towards the other end of the sunset.

    By Blogger mused.bear, at 11:13 PM  

  • Follow your heart and you can never go wrong. :)

    By Anonymous thenakedsingularity, at 7:32 AM  

  • I'm not smarter than you, just differently smart from you. There are certainly things that I do better than you do, yes, but there are lots of things you do far better than I'll ever do them. If that weren't true, I wouldn't have found myself looking desperately for your presence indicator last night as I tried to put together a particularly difficult...document for this cycle.

    I think I agree that you're taller than me, and I certainly agree that counts for something -- although people who've never met either of us probably don't realize quite how *much* taller you are than you sound...

    By Blogger Demimondian, at 8:11 PM  

  • Hey DCM,

    I live in the other part of the world, 13.5 hours ahead of yours. I was there when you visited the office in 2006 and was totally mesmerised by your passion for the company, the honesty and loyalty--made me believe people with integrity still do exist. I read your blog regularly, comment anonymously, hoping that I get to chat with you in person some day again. Guess it may not happen now; however, I wish you good luck and I'll continue to read and comment anonymously on your blog.
    Keep the faith good man--you will be successful in everything you do--coz of your integrity and strong fighting spirit!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 PM  

  • Good luck in your new position. I can't imagine having the money to leave a position with Google to take a risk. I envy you in that respect. You mentioned in one of your older blogs that you don't think you will ever have children. I hope you rethink that part of your life. Just by reading your blogs I get the feeling you would be an incredible father. Fun, full of life and able to teach some wonderful life lessons. Good luck to you Douglas and don't get caught up in just a life style, know that family is everything ... which I believe you already know.

    By Blogger Halfway to the Top, at 6:24 PM  

  • "The music you listen to becomes the soundtrack of your life. It becomes the background track for your existence"--- Mike Bloomfield.

    Thanks for coming on board to help create new soundscapes for new generations. Best of luck!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:39 AM  

  • Hi Douglas: just checking up on your blog. I hope you like it at EMI. :) Drop by Singapore sometime soon! Recently through Jisun, we met your ex colleagues Dickson and Derek. Great people... please touch base with The Digital Movement the next time u stop by sunny Singapore!

    Hope all is well ! :) your blog is always thought provoking and inspirational!

    By Blogger eStee, at 9:03 PM  

  • Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. ~ Robert Fripp

    By Blogger Maggie May, at 10:58 PM  

  • Have faith that God won't send you anything you're incapable of handling...............
    you'll do fine i promise you

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 AM  

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