Day 30: Overheard Conversations

HaydnCD30This morning at Panera, as I refilled my mug of Light Roast coffee, I overhead a group of old guys chatting in a little nook area near the front of the restaurant. One man, who looked to be in his mid to late 60s, had his laptop open and he was talking to guys who looked to be 10+ years older than that.

“Are you referring to Internet Explorer?” the man with the laptop asked. “Because I have Google Chrome and Firefox, too.”

I glanced over and looked at the gaggle of retirees and thought, “Really? Twenty years ago, guys of this age would be jawing about being retired – not about web browsers.”

Life is funny, innit?

Symphony No. 96 in D , “The Miracle Symphony,” was composed in 1791 and is part of the London Symphonies. It is called “The Miracle Symphony” because, according to its entry on Wikipedia,

It is so called due to the story that, during its premiere, a chandelier fell from the ceiling of the concert hall in which it was performed. The audience managed to dodge the chandelier successfully as they had all crowded to the front for the post-performance applause, and the symphony got its nickname. More careful and recent research suggests that this event did indeed take place but during the premiere of his Symphony No. 102.

Haydn was 59, when this symphony was composed and first performed.

Symphony No. 97 in C was composed and first performed in Continue reading

Day 28: No Boiled Car Tires

HaydnCD28What happens when Panera just doesn’t cut it any more, when the thought of another Light Roast coffee or Asiago bagel curls one’s teeth?

D&W to the rescue.

I’m not sure what D&W stands for. I’m sure it’s probably the names of its founders, like Dick and Wally or something. But it’s a grocery story chain in West Michigan that’s been around forever.

This morning, D&W’s bright, airy (and chilly!) cafeteria plays host to a few guys with laptops (including me) who are using it as an office.

DWOctober28I see that a lot these days, people using Wi-Fi hotspots as remote offices. Nothing wrong with that. I do it all the time. It’s just interesting to see people with suits and ties (like the chap sitting directly in front of me in the next booth over) working on spreadsheets in a restaurant.

Ten years ago, a guy like that would have been at home, or at the office, but not in between in the professional equivalent of Purgatory.

In case you can’t see the sign, D&W sells Starbucks coffee, as most places do these days.

I don’t know why. Starbucks tastes like boiled car tires to me.

Granted, I used to like Starbucks. But, lately, that Continue reading

Day 10: People Watching at Panera, In B Flat

Haydn010Because I arose later than usual today, I couldn’t get my usual table (which, actually, is a booth) at my usual morning hangout, Panera Bread.

The table at which I sit this morning, munching on an Asiago bagel (toasted with light cream cheese) and sipping a Light Roast coffee (colored with Half & Half to a just-so golden-brown color) is a round table that faces into the restaurant in such a way that allows me to watch people talking to one another. I can’t hear them (Duh! I’m listening to Haydn). But I can see them. (Admittedly, I am in control of which way the table faces. The photo below indicates I could just as easily have sat in the other chair, facing the window. But I chose to sit with my back to the window so that I cPaneraOct10ould see into the restaurant.)

I’ve forgotten how much fun that is – watching people while listening to music, so that it’s like I’m scoring a private movie in my head. Their actions take on more dramatic, or even comedic, meaning when I replace the “score” of ambient sounds one typically finds in a restaurant in the morning with music of my own choosing.

I feel like I should join ASCAP or something.

In this particular Panera, the talk is often about the Bible. Before I stuck earbuds in my, well, ears and replaced people’s voices with Haydn’s, I heard “…we’ll have to read the scriptures for references to leadership” and “let’s pray about that.” Also, I see Bibles on table tops, as well as books by Christian authors.

I also, pre buds in ears, heard job interviews being conducted here and there.

Welcome to West Michigan, where jobs and Bibles often go hand in hand.

Another thing I noticed: Continue reading

Day 7: Lamentatione, But No Light Roast

Haydn007If there’s one thing I can always count on at this particular Panera Bread it’s this: The coffee I want will be out. Doesn’t matter what time of day I arrive. Or how many other people are here, or have been before me. The Light Roast urn will be dry. Taste it and you’ll discover why. It really is that good.

So here I am, at 6:25 am, waiting for Light Roast. No other coffee on the planet will do.

In the meantime, I have Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 25 in C to keep me company.

According to its entry on Wiki, this composition is “[r]are among Haydn’s symphonies” because it “lacks a slow movement.”

I’m not sure if the folks on Wiki are hearing the same symphony as I am. The first movement is painfully slow, very much the adagio it claims to be — until about 3 minutes in. Then it bursts into a much-welcome allegro molto. Perhaps the chap who wrote that wasn’t waiting for a steaming mug of Light Roast coffee.

But, suddenly, I don’t care if I have a steaming mug of Light Roast in front of me or not. (Thank you, Franz Joseph.)

That’s not to say that I think Symphony No. 25 is the greatest thing since Symphony No. 24. On the contrary, Light Roast or not, I’m not warming up to this symphony. I’m not hearing the hooks.

Symphony No. 26 in D minor (“Lamentatione”), on the other hand, is fascinating. Its first movement, a kick-ass “allegro assai con spirito” (allegro = “fast, quickly and bright” assai = “very much, quite fast” con spirito = “with spirit”) boasts very clear and clever melodic lines that sound as contemporary as Continue reading

Day 6: Off to a Slow Start

HaydnCD7Exploring a world of creative delights is terrific. I highly recommend it.

Yet, what is required for such an endeavor to succeed is discipline.

For example, a couple of years ago I spent time exploring the complete works of Mozart (180 Days With Mozart and Me). I arose at 5:31 every morning, drove to the same restaurant, arrived as they opened at 6am, sat at the same square table near the wall plug and the windows, and ate the same thing – an Asiago bagel, toasted with light cream cheese, and a mug of Light Roast coffee — every morning for six straight months.

From the table I came to consider “mine,” I’d listen, discover, observe, and then write about it.

Doing that assured me of two things:

1. I’d gain 15 pounds from the bagels, and

2. I’d develop a disciplined, methodical approach that kept me focused

And it worked. On both counts.

This morning, I wasn’t Continue reading