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Chaos Manor Special Reports

Frank Forman, Cochlear Cyborg

Monday, July 30, 2007





Frank Forman is an old on-line friend who underwent a cochlear implant. This is his story. I make no comments, but I post it so that it will be available for those interested.

Frank Forman, Cochlear Cyborg, through 2007.7.24


This is a running diary of an operation that gave me an artificial ear and of my relearning how to hear. What makes my case different is that I am a keen lover of classical music and am self-experimenting on struggling to relearn how to hear music speech and vice versa. Go down to PART ONE: INTRODUCTION at the end to get an overview. Excuse the typos. I'm writing all this in a file, and the spell checker insists on running through the whole document in a seemingly random fashion, which by now is quite time consuming. When I'm doing an e-mail it goes from top to bottom, which is very fast. "Don't ask me why. Go ask your pop," says Dr. Seuss in one of his books I have heard over and over again.


Sarah is my wife. Andrea Marlowe is my audiologist at Johns Hopkins. Greg Frane is a fellow graduate of the University of Virginia who comes up for ten minutes and helps me go through some exercises every day at work. It was my right ear that was operated on.




Sunday, 2007 July 24


In general this period, as far as music goes, the good news is that I  was hearing all of Silverman's new recording of the Diabelli  Variations in my meat ear with the notes correctly on the scale when I  was out jogging. Since this stretch rarely happens, I kept listening  and didn't get out a book to read on the subway. I wasn't much in the  mood for late Beethoven, so I didn't get the spiritual absorption that  makes music so important to me. With the last variation, the scale got  distorted. So on the way home, I tried it with both ears. Same problem.  My cassette has on the second side, the last Diabelli variation, the  Liszt sonata (which I never absorbed in to my repetroire (hearing  repetroire, that is: I certainly can't play it. I mean that I need to  get to know a  work familiarly. I'm amazed at those who can just really  hear a work for the first time. But back before recordings, concert  goes must have really given their brains at work out. Today we can just  go home and listen to the work again.) and Beethoven's most important  work he never assigned an opus number to, namely the 32 variations in c  on his own theme. Again, the last variation was all distorted as far as  the scale goes (the notes are clean). I got nothing out of the Liszt,  as my tunes came on. When the 32 variations came on, I was able to  detect that they were there, since they do have a certain recognizable  snap. Walking home with them on that night wasn't much of a success  either.


And so it went. Finishing with Silverman, I put on the Brahms chamber  music but with almost no luck, sometimes not even a clean movement. I  have filled the ends of these tapes with Brahms' short pieces and one  that was mostly in the low notes came on, with the scale correct. Low  notes don't trigger my hallucinating tunes. This time I was more ready  for the message of the music. I was listening to Gould play it this  time. An early recording from 1960, he played it pretty straight, but I  never thought esp. deeply. There are two live performances of the  Brahms first piano concerto. The one with Bernstein was going to be  played so slowly that Bernstein spoke to the audience before hand (and  later *claimed* that it was not a disclaimer). However, the one that  got circulated underground and finally published was not the notorious  one but a second or third performance. It is still quite slow, but  since then other performers have slowed it down, too. Celibidache, the  Romanian conductor, is famous for being slow. While the first hearing  is intriguiging, he turns out to *only* be slow. Although the  instrumental groups play with unusual articularity, there is no musical  depth. Mravinsky's magic was to bring to prominence and then let recede  various instrumental groups, but he did so with the profoundest  understanding of the music. Gould's other performance of the Brahms,  with someone and the Baltimore SO, is not so slow, but is so very  articulate that I hear notes I never heard in this music before.


Walking home, I have been listening to Silverman Diabelli variations, a  few at a time and in just my meat ear. (My cord got frayed and I  couldn't listen in the cyber ear. This is a recurrent problem!) The  scale was off, but these times I was more in the mood for the music.  When I got home on one of these occasions, I continued at home to the  end and now with both ears. My concentration had receded by the end,  though.


So, the next time on my way home, I put in the tape of Backhaus'  Diabellis, which as I have said before have more bass to them. This  time I carried some patch chords so I could listen in both ears.  Terrible. I could detect only one or two variations. The next morning,  as I went to replace the tape with more Brahms, I discovered that I had  been listening to Gould playing Mozart! But somehow my mind expected  some Diabelli variations, and a couple of them I thought I had quite  dimly heard. You see, sometimes everything is horribly dim. You may say  that Frank hears what he wants to hear, a common charge appealing to  general facts about human bias that are not in the least sense  specific.


On Friday, July 27, I listened to Szigeti's great LP of the Brahms  first violin sonata when out jogging (meat ear only, as I usually do  when jogging). The first two movements came out okay. Then the tunes  started up for the last two movements and the first movement of the  third sonata. But, I was able to hear the slow movement fairly well.  That evening I put on the wide channel spread stereo recording of the  first Razumovsky quartet, played by the Loewenguth Quartet. (It's in my  "Essential in Stereo" collection.) This went splendidly, although I  wasn't able to hear like I could before the operation. My mediation  sessions must be paying off, as I was largely able to *ignore* the  hallucinating tunes the kept coming up! And, this time, the scale was  normal. However, I didn't detect the end of the first and beginning of  the second movement. Somewhere after the start of the second movement,  I knew I was listening to it. I've been combining meditation with my  naps, which I'm not really supposed to do, as falling asleep destroys  the mediations. So, I set my "Shake Awake" alarm for either 20 minutes  (the length of time I'm supposed to meditate). I'm then aroused and  press the snooze button for eight minutes. I'm then, hopefully, awake  and meditate for these eight minutes. Then I press the snooze button  for a further eight minutes. (Or, sometimes I'll set the alarm for 14  minutes. 14+8+8 gives me half an hour, the length of my usual nap.) I can't really say, though, that I am becoming a better and better  meditator. The idea is to let thoughts *drift away* (don't actively  surpress them) and don't follow them up with other ideas. Too often, I  plain forget I'm supposed to meditate! I keep reminding myself but then  just go back following thoughts with further thoughts. Dr. Hennigan  said to take breaths, count them, but revert to the beginning whenever  I start following up ideas with other ideas. This I do, though  sometimes I just continue counting. What I try to do is to let a  thought come in but try to let it go by the next breath. I am not  really getting better and better at this and shall have to try harder.  Still, there was a great payoff when listening to the first two  movements of the seventh quartet. I most definitely needed the great  spiritual uplift, though my using (I think) the benefits of meditation  spoiled just listening to the music. I'll keep trying!


 Monday (July 9): Art Museum: I wandered into a guide who took us to  look at several pieces of sculpture. My hearing was fabulous! But only  when using my external, unidirectional micophone. With just the  omni-directional one that came with the sound processor, I miss just  enough words of sentences that I can't follow the whole conversation.  Even still, though, I need to keep my mind from wandering. This happens  when I am watching teevee *with* the captions running, when talking  with Sarah thinking of what to say to her, even when reading. This we  all do. Listening, even for those with normal hearing, can be extremely  difficult. It involves not just getting the words and the sentences  right but placing yourself in the mind of the speaker, knowing where he  is coming from, knowing what his Premises (Checked and Unchecked) are,  placing yourself in *his* exact knowledge situation. Then you have to  judge how open-minded your conversationalist is. If you misjudge, you  get cut off, since you are rarely in the position to make someone else  respond to you.


It's amazing how often others suddenly become "busy"! What someone with  normal hearing is able to do that I cannot is to detect cues that I am  pressing too far. I love rooting out assumptions as much as anything.  After all my handle is Premise Checker. The number of others that see  the importance of the re-examinations and just plain love doing it is  tiny. So hardly anyone initiates conversations with me or asks for my  ideas and opinions. I will be glad to talk about pedophilia, for  example. My reactions are not so much those of disgust, outrage, and  condemnation as curiosity about it. Others want me express outrage.  They want me to go through a ritual of showing outrage. I would rather  understand than judge. In some ways, though, I am pretty highly  judgmental. On the Myer-Briggs test, I come out as INTJ--Introverted,  iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. What I judge harshly is bad thinking, my  own included, and I like to think esp. my own.


A sculpture I had not much noticed before is "The Reading Girl," white  marble on green Connemara marble plinth (I need look this up, I guess),  model 1856, carved 1861, by Pietro Magni (Milanaese, 1817-77). (This is a whole set of photographs.) (Excellent  photograph, though the color is off. In reality, it's pure white.)


Words: I got both Greg (Monday) and Sarah (Tuesday, as I write this) to  feed me names of rivers. This is far more difficult than American  states, since they aren't so retrievable from my brain. Or from theirs.  They find it hard to think up names of rivers, too. So I'd frequently  interrupt and say, "Let's try Latin America." "Amazon." Then something  quite obscure. My second year college roommate took a course called  "History of the River Plates (pronounced platts), so he'd know a lot of  them. Try Russia. Blank. I'd sing "Yo, o, heave ho!" "The Volga." I  missed quite a few names I was fed, like Danube, Moldau, Seine. I did  better with Sarah the next day, since she and Greg chose a lot of  rivers in common.


We also did State capitals. Sarah said she never had to memorize them.  I seem to have known what they all were, but that was quite a while  ago. Neither Greg nor Sarah are always sure whether a city is in fact  the capital. I have remarked to many people that it's not important to  know the names, as the fact that only a third are the largest cities in  their states. This says a great deal about America. New York City and  Philadelphia were one the capitals, but the inland farmers revolted  about the control of coastal elites and forced the capitals to move  to--well, you see if you remember. Elites have rarely been dislodged  geographically in the rest of the world.


Phoenix, AZ Little Rock, AR Denver, CO Atlanta, GA


Honolulu, HI Boise, ID Indianopolis, IN Des Moines, IA


Boston, MA Jackson, MS Columbus, OH Oklahoma City, OK


Providence, RI Columbia, SC Salt Lake City, UT Charleston, WV


Cheyenne, WY


Norfolk displaced Richmond, VA, through population growth since 1990  and Chapel Hill moved past Raleigh, NC, through enlarging its  boundaries. Charleston, SC, looks like it may overtake Columbia in a  decade or so.


Friday, June 13. This was the first anniversary of Alice's death. We  joined one of Sarah's cousins, Cowper (pronounced Cooper) Smith, and  his wife, Cary, for lunch in Warrenton. Both of them had fathers who  were major generals during WW II, but I can't say I heard them all that  well. They continue to live at the farm next to the one that had been  in Sarah's family since 1830 but which was sold to the owner, Bill  Hazel, of the farm on the opposite side a couple of years ago. He is  the son of Sarah's grandmother's personal physician and the brother of  Til Hazel, a major real estate developer in Northern Virginia and a big  benefactor of George Mason University. We had dinner with him at one of  the Public Choice get-togethers some years back, but I think I've met  Bill but shortly.


Some thought about Alice's suicide:


I envisioned in Alice a fatal flaw in her character, an streak of  independence so great that she married a second time a 19 year old boy  who was so exploitative that he was shunned by those who knew him in  Alcoholics Anonymous as incorrigable. It is true that Alice suffered  from bipolar disorder, and that suicide is far more common among them  than among the general population. Friends came forth after we got home  and told me that either they had the disorder themselves or had family  members or close friends who did. They reported several suicides, but  most continued to live.


Envisioning that Alice had a fatal flaw did not require much  imagination. I remain certain that had she never encountered her second  husband, she would be alive still. I recovered many files from her home  desktop computer and found elaborate spread sheets detailing her  finances through April. She was engaging in wild spending sprees of  $10,000 a month, something any decent husband would have put a stop to  rather than encouraged! The records show her moving money around from  credit card to credit card to postpone a show down. This collapse of  her deep sense of frugality might have driven her to kill herself, but  she knew she had bipolar disorder. It was the behavior of her husband  during the final few days that drove her to kill herself when he had  left their apartment to purchase drugs (it's not clear whether Alice  knew this at the time but he was on a three-day crack cocaine binge)  and took their cellphone with them. She used a gun she bought for him,  having shown no interest in guns before.


Several coincidences were at work, David, an unusually evil man, coming  into Alice's life, a lack of any way make a phone call (Alice got rid  of the landline and, indeed moved from her house out of financial  desperation), her psychiatrist being out of town (Alice was about to  try a different medication), and a gun being there.


All this came out quickly before I discovered I had Michael Gelven's  article with me. Here's the paragraph that struck me the most:


"But suffering, unlike foolishness, seems to require a special kind of  effort to allow us, the audience, to affirm it. No one likes to suffer,  and indeed few of us hke to see worthy people other than ourselves  suffer. It is especially difficult to see great people suffer, since  their suffering seems to strike us as all the more outrageous, given  the nobility of their character. In order to affirm suffering, then, it  must be encased in a play and a character that reveals the remarkable  significance of suffering. Traditionally, acute observers of the tragic  plays have noted that, especially in the Greek versions, the cause of  the downfall is locked within the very germ of greatness which makes  the hero who he is. We are all familiar with the description of tragedy  as the fall of a man or woman whose very greatness contains within  itself the seeds of their own destruction. This is often called the  tragic flaw. But the analysis of such characterization is usually quite  misguided and deeply distortive. It is not because the character has a  flaw that we can then applaud his downfall, it is rather because the  very thing that makes him fall is also the thing that makes him great.  The traditional (Aristotelian) view simply has the whole thing  backward. *It is not the flaw that justifies his suffering, it is  rather the suffering that ennobles his fall.* It is remarkable, perhaps  even incredible, that such profound thinkers have so fundamentally  misread the tragedian's art; the continual misreading of this message  throughout the centuries attests to the dominance of moralistic  thinking. Only the true Dionysian or the true Christian can see through  this to grasp the deeper truth."


Alice's achievements at work, which she much never told me about, came  out, and magnificent they were. She came up with the idea of making a  detailed investigations of the patterns of breakdown of every machine  at Mead WestVaco. She was allowed to proceed, and I got a copy of her  reports. I don't know what the next stage would be, but had she spoken  to me, I would have instantly replied with an economist's view that  what matters to Mead WestVaco is profit. To find that out, one needs to  specify the whole pathway of making things. If one machine breaks down,  will it hold up the line? If so, then even having a few strategically  located redundant machines might be a good idea. One should not rush to  blame indivudals at the plant for breakdowns but consider them mostly  as random events.


This would involve Alice learning about queueing theory, about which I  read a little book before she was born. This theory was founded by  Agner Erlang for the Copenhagen Telephone Exchange in 1909. The idea is  to calculate the number of lines needed to insure that, say, 95% of  calls go through except on Mother's Day and Christmas. The profit angle  comes in by reckoning the cost of these lines versus what customers are  willing to pay for the service thus provided.


Who besides telephone companies use queueing theory? Remembering that  what are called Poisson processes feature in the underlying  mathematics, I googled <"poisson process"> (and ditto for  a bunch of other companies) to see whether something like what Alice  might have done was being done. I didn't find any, except for some  abstract papers, none suggesting that queueing theory was being  practiced. So had Alice lived, and talked to her father, she might well  have not only done much for Mead WestVaco but have begun a revolution  in business, simply by shifting away from blame models to probability  processes. This is not idle thinking on my part. Something so obvious  as inventory control does not go back to the days of Nebuchanezzar but  to Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors in the 1920s (My Life with General  Motors). Alice certainly would have had much to live for. Recall that  Beethoven thought of committing suicide when he realized how  profounding deaf he was becoming, but decided at the end to live for  the sake of his art (Heiligenstadt Testament).


So because of Alice's considerable achievement--her boss said very few  engineers accomplish as much over their entire career than Alice did in  her short one--and potential for turning this into a much greater  achievement, I saw a nobility in her that ennobled her flaw, a Gelven  put it.


How do I feel now? Of course, her death has left a hole that can never  be filled. Of course, I miss the deeper love that would have come over  the years. The shock, guilt, and anger have run their courses. Except  that I have a feeling of guilt now that Alice was not communicative on  any deep level. She, unlike her mother and sister, did not relish the  freewheeling, sometimes noisy discussions that go about freely in our  household, but rather withdrew. Adelaide could get her to open up, but  not Sarah and still less me. For this I blame myself, as I do have the  same problem with others. Besides three or four people at work, I  almost never get visited in my office, a pattern that persists  elsewhere. Thank goodness for the Internet, since I can communicate  with more open-minded people.


Right now, I feel rather miffed that Alice and I did not communicate  well, and now I am not so sure we ever would have. A great many people  do ignore me, so many that I suspect it's something about me. Alice  should have opened up and told me she felt her life was in ruins, but  she didn't. Sarah assuaged my feelings by reminding me that Alice  didn't even call Adelaide, with whom she was exceptionally close. Nor  did she listen to her many friends in Charleston who unanimously warned  her against David.


I'll don't think I'll ever truly understand what was going on in  Alice's tormented mind, since I have never felt, except perhaps briefly  and always in full awareness that it would pass, her torment. Should I  say that it wasn't the nobility of character that Gelven's essay, the  deepest essay I have ever read, describes and that it was just hopeful  thinking on my part and that I ought to admit to myself that Alice was  simply stupid in marrying David. Her boyfriend in engineering school  was rude to her and kept her from dating other men. She should have  found any number of male students there, where men vastly outnumber  women, and one who shares her kind of nerdishness. And her first  husband, while a nice guy, would not do his share in their marriage.  Maybe it was his own depression, but Alice eventually divorced him,  only to find another man, a boy of nineteen really, who was  incomparably worse. This is stupidity triple time, not nobility, I  not understand this, but it is not entirely uncommon.


Could I have been a better father? Certainly, I should have realized  much earlier, with Aristotle, that character is something instilled at  a very early age, not something consciously accepted. I have a close  friend, Richard, an Evangelical, who raised his children strictly. They  should have been Generation X (a nomad or reactive generation, like the  Lost Generation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings), like Alice and  Adelaide definitely seem to belong to. Would a better upbringing have  saved her? I can honestly say only that, possibly, it might have, but  not with enough assurance to feel permanently badly about what might  have happened in retrospect. I might as well claim that we should have  had knowledge of Sarah's and my genetic makeup to have not risked  having children. Of course, such knowledge was not available in 1975,  when Sarah became pregnant with Alice, and I do not think such  knowledge is available today.


No, I don't have much of a grip on the concept of stupidity. Nobody  does, but even if it's just a word, it's one that should be retained in  the language. This is a terrible thing to say about a daughter that  died a terrible death, but by no means am I trying to blame her. It's  just that I can't express myself any better.


The Jim Lehrer News Hour. It watched it, but remember nothing about it.  I might have jotted down a note or two.


Afterwards, and in memory of Alice, I put on the same great work of  affirmation I played after her death, the German Requiem of Johannes  Brahms. I could barely hear it but did notice when some powerful  phrases came on during the first movement. I sensed, barely, the coming  of the great fugal passage in the sixth movement, then one that  invariably brings tears and rejoicing when it come on after about an  hour during a long run:


Herr, Du bist würdig zu nehmen Preis und Ehre und Kraft, den Du hast alle Dinge erschaften, und durch Deinen WIllen haben sie des Wesen und sind geschaffen.


Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11).


But not this time.


Tuesday, July 17: The Sound and Beyond software finally arrived! It is  a most terrific set of exercises, and I am determined to spend a full  hour a day on it at work (staying late in case I have a full plate of  work to do). There are several parts to it. I went through tests to  determine which the level at which I should do the exercises, which  consist of click on the correct choice. Then I go through them. Here  are the parts:


1. Pure tone discrimination: I'm at the top level already. What I do is  chose the odd person out among three sounds. Now sometimes it seems  easy, when one of the tones sounds like a buzz to me, but sometimes  this doesn't work. I got 100% on the test, but still I need to do the  exercises.


2. Environmental sounds: these involve picking one out of two sounds,  like a restaurant and a dog barking. I'm just at level 1 here. I got  44% right on the test, while random guessing would be 25%


3. Male/female voice recognition. This is incredibly difficult, which  goes to show how badly the sounds come in to my cyber ear. The  differences are so small that I'm at the first level. I got 52% right  on the test, while just guessing would be 50%. I am picking up during  the training sessions and will report when I take the test again. There  can be anywhere between 16 and 50 choices to make, depending on the  test. I got 77% right on the latest training session, but what counts  will be the next (and second) time I take the test. The software has 48  sounds.


4. Vowel recognition. Also at level 1. If I make a mistake, only then  are the words themsevles revealed to me, like pit and put. On the  (first: so far I have taken only one) test, I did not do any better  than chance (5%). These turn out to be words: had, hod, hawed, head,  hayed, heard, hid, heed, hoed, hood, hud, who'd, except that I never  see them! Actually, there are 4396 sounds. I'll be busy for quite a  while indeed!


5. Consonant recognition. Same. There are 4548 sounds here. (Another  print out says 4580 sounds. "I don't know. Go ask your pop," says one  of the Dr. Seuss books.


6. Word discrimination. No levels here. Here's my percentage correct.  25% is what I'd get were I simply to guess randomly:


Animals 76% (cow, horse Food    72% Color   86% Family  82% Number  80% Times   88%


7. Everday sentences. I'm at level 1, but got 96% right, while 25%  would be the rate by chance. It was suggested that I use the highest  level, but that was too hard. So down to level 1, for a while. The  sentences look so different, but they are quite hard. At the top level,  it seems that the sentences are the same but there's noise or something  that makes chosing much more difficult.


8. Nusic appreciation. Two parts but no levels. a. Musical instrument.  I get to chose which of four instruments is being played. The drum is  easy! I got 39% on the test, as opposed to 25% by chance. b. Familiar  melodies. I get to chose which of four melodies are being played. I got  only 50% right, twice that of chance. I should have done better, but  the problem is that many of these familiar melodies are not familiar at  all, like Itsy Bitsy, Amazing Grace (not in the Episcopal hymnal, so I  barely know it: I've *never* heard "We Shall Overcome," which goes to  show how isolated I am!), Rock a Bye Baby, Jack and Jill (I know the  poem only), This Old Man, Clock Tick, and Wedding March (it must be  either Wagner or Mendelssohn, but I can't tell which). When I can hear  much more normally, I should be able to do better.


What is esp. terrifc about this software is that it is random. When  Sarah or Greg drill me on words, the words do not come randomly.  Oftentimes, my driller will think of a word suggested by the previous  word. And I quite often thing of the same suggested word.


Friday, July 20: All My Children. Back after two weeks. Adam's son J.R.  refused to accept any of Adam's stock and got accused by Adam of  forswearing it so that he would (somehow) be better able to win a  lawsuit against Zach to get the $100 million back. I don't understand  it.


A friend came over for the weekend, so I missed Jim Lehrer. I've taken  to using my external microphone for my cyberear, and sometimes a  hearing aid in my meat ear. The time has come, I think, to hear as best  as I can and postpone the struggle to hear and thus retrain my brain  till other times. Still, I have often found my friend hard to  hear, including this time. Ditto for a gathering at Sarah's church on  Sunday evening, where we met the new deacon and her husband, who is a  Federal prosecutor for all sorts of drug issues, from illegal sales of  presciptions over the Net from American sites (he can't stop sales from  countries that don't recognize our drug laws, but most of the violators  are based in America. Not enough enforcers to really make a dent. If  you have a legal prescription, it's legal to buy prescriptions from  Canada, I learned.) to controlled substances. He does think that, were  these drugs entirely legal, there would be an increase in their use,  even discounting the fact that so many dealers get others hooked so as  to finance their own habits. Just what the sheer medical effects would  be of having a cheap source of standardized, uncontaminated heroin  would be he doesn't exactly know. I pointed out that the legalization  advocates have their own studies and the opponents opposite studies. He  agreed. An honest man. The new deacon spoke of her getting a call to  the ministry, and we spoke about several theological matters. All in  all I heard pretty well.


Thursday, July 26: I went with Sharon to the Hirshhorn Museum and we  reflect on the merits of modern art. She likes mostly the early modern  art, as do I. After World War II, it's mostly an endless succession of  *movements* and more lately it consists of artists deliberately making  eclectic combinations of movements. It seems rather pointless, but I  strive to understand the biological roots of the urge to make art and  also what sort of Darwinian process goes into selecting who does and  who doesn't get exhibited at the various modern art museums. Maybe King  Solomon said it all:


I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift,  nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet  riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but  time and chance happeneth unto them all. --Ecclesiastes 9:11 (977 B.C.)


Friday, July 27:


All My Children: No Adam this week. This show may be getting sillier  and sillier. Both Greenlee and Kendall were in the hospital. It looks  like Greenlee may have kidnapped the baby of Ryan, her former husband,  and Annie, his new wife, and got into a car accident. The baby is  struggling for survival. Jack visited Kendall, indicating I know not  what. (A check in Wikipedia reveals that he married her for the second  time in 2006.) And Jake visited Greenlee. I had admired Jake's  manliness, but with him falling for the self-centered Greenlee was just  too much. It turns out, though, that Greenlee is his daughter. In real  life, they were born in 1951 and 1973.


I've pretty much decided this show is gotten so silly that I'm just  going to use it for training purposes and not look at the captions  (except for Adam) and just make of the action what I can. When the  camera is not focusing on the speaker, as sometimes happens, I'll watch  the captions. I seem to get a good deal of the action this way anyhow.  This is a *daily* show, which Alice said I really need to watch once a  week. But we're going out to Colorado for a week to see Mom Mom (88 and  cheerful), my brother Dick and his family, and my longtime friend Roy  Dent. So it will probably be another two weeks before I see this show  again. I am grateful for Wikipedia for clarifying many things, even  though it doesn't summarize individual shows.


The Jim Lehrer News Hour: Brooks and Shields blathered about Hillary,  the Obamination, and Gonzales. Nothing about the stock market drop of  five percent in two days, down from a historic high just a week ago.  This may be just as well. When the stocks go up, the reporters say "so  many shares *bought*." When they go down, they say "so many shares  *sold*"!




Sunday 2007 July 8


It was Ron Miller's funeral, not Ron Murray's. I changed it below, after a friend wondered what happened to the Murray we both know from college. He's very much alive. Working for Microsoft since the 1970s and getting in on stock options, he has done well for himself and even bought an airport. Having run into such headaches with the local government, he bailed out. We caught up with Ron on his visit to D.C. (just about everyone comes through the rent-seeking capital of the world). Wealth has not gotten the least bit to his head. He's still very much the same Ron we knew: kindly, humorous, and ever read to explain anything. He'd have made a great teacher.


Dr. Hennigan coached us on meditation (this was the day after my visit to Andrea). The basic idea is to let your mind relax. Have only neutral thoughts. Do not follow up thoughts with other thoughts. Breathe in and out slowly. Count to ten. Start over. If a thought comes, don't actively try to push it aside. Rather, let them drift away.


My twice daily meditation sessions seem to be having good effect. It's not that I'm all stressed out. With a resting heart rate of 50-60 and blood pressure something like 60/100 or 70/110, I'm not a likely stroke or heart attack victim. I do have high-normal cholesterol levels. Probably genetic. High cholesterol is only an "indicator" of heart problems, so taking drastic measures to lower it won't nec. lower one's risk of heart problems. Who knows what the technical name for my death will be? The older notion of dying of old age was really a better one. Things go wrong as one ages in no particular order. With some, it is indeed the heart that gives out. Or it could be that the body is no longer adept at warding off cancer. My sense of smell is almost as bad as my sense of hearing and is likely due to random aging rather than pipe smoking, which reduces life expectancy by six to eight weeks, by the way. I remember well the Fryer's Special Smokynge Mixture I used in high school through graduate school until Fryer's went out of existence, maybe many years before. Its last listing in a directory of British companies was something like 1958! I consumed my last tin a year after my marriage in 1968. No truer words have been written than that on the tin, "By the inspired addition of oriental to other wisely selected tobaccos, this master-blend is food for the spirit and a subtle stimulus for contemplative minds." I am reminded of a statement of the seven stages of life:


All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms; Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lin'd, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion; Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


--Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, As You Like It, lines 139-166)


Friday (June 23)


There's not a whole, whole lot to report, really. I have been loyally meditating, or at least setting time aside twice a day for twenty minutes. It is *not* easy, esp. for someone like me (I think) to stop thinking. I must, must concentrate on letting thoughts drift away and not just impatiently wait for the twenty-minute period to end! It does seem to be working. I can get a whole movement of a Beethoven Sonata before the tunes start coming in when I'm out jogging. I'm going through cassette tapes I made of Robert Silverman's recordings again, and this time (until the tunes come in, that is) I'm appreciating the fine probing, analytical performances he makes. And sometimes I hear over the tunes and hear Beethoven again, esp. when the music gets quiet, allowing me to hook in again. I think the meditation sessions are beginning to give me control over the tunes, and this is excellent. Earlier this week, I put on the Bach Brandenburg concerti (that wonderful Casals/Marlboro recording, a gloriously robust, old-fashioned big-tune performance in which the musicians sung their hearts out for the legendary old man, who by that time had stopped performing on the cello in public. These are the Brandenburgs we sneakily love, as opposed to the lean "authentic" performances we are told to (merely) admire. Give me Casals! I do not feel guilty about it. When I first got these recordings in college, it came with a bonus disc of rehearsal excerpts. Casals has got to be the most enthusiastic grunter ever. My roommate disdained these recordings--this was long before HIP (historically informed performances) came along--and told me I liked them only because of the rehearsal excerpts, the first movement of the second Brandenburg most noticeably. He was wrong: they have remained my favorites ever since.), listening to them out of both ears. This was a massive failure, for my hallucinating tunes simply sped up to match the tempo of the music. All My Children: Erica and Jack kiss, and out pops a reality photographer, which makes Jack mad. Zach is going after Adam's fortune. Jim Lehrer News Hour: blather about Congress passing new laws to require car makers to make their cars deliver more miles per gallon. Nowhere was there anyone who understood the elements of supply and demand.


Wednesday (June 27): The 41st Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival opened. Three exhibits this year. I went first to the one about Northern Ireland. I asked a women from Old Bushmill's, the oldest licensed distillery in the world (1608) Irish Whiskey about Creationist in Northern Ireland. My thinking was that, if there was any place outside of America where this would be a big issue, it would be in Northern Ireland: the Prots would oppose Darwin there just to have one more thing to disagree with the Roman Catholics about. Roman Catholics do not dispute the evolution of species, though they maintain that the Lord infused human beings with souls. (I am not clear how far back this infusion is said to have gone.) Protestants are not centrally directed and hold that every backwoods Baptist preacher knows as much about first and last things as the Pope, to which I heartily agree, to wit, zero for both. Some of them interpret Genesis to mean that not only did God create all kinds of beasts and fish (thus some translations, though the original King James says "made after their kind") as forbidden subsequent speciation. (Linneaus came to conclude that speciation occurs but not new genera.) They are divided into Young Earth Creationists, who further take literally "And the evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen. 1:5), etc. for following days (as indeed the Hebrew bo'-ker bzw.'ereb means dawn bzw. evening or dusk), while the Old Earth Creationists hold that these days are of indefinite duration. I am reading a book now by Claire Asquith, _Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare_ (2005), which Sarah gave me for Father's Day and which makes the Stratford Man out to be a closet Roman Catholic. Perhaps, but in reality Shakespeare was a skeptic like Montaigne. He lived in a period between the fall of the Papist hegemony and the rise of science, what was indeed to come forth with explanations of things. He portrayed the world as he saw it and envisioned a natural moral order, the violation of which would bring its own punishments, ones that need not be inflicted from on high. (See Colin McGinn, _Shakespeare's Philosophy_ (2006). Outside of Northern Ireland, we have done away with religious warfare that was still raging in Shakespeare's day by privatizing the whole business. You can argue to your heart's content about Young Earth vs. Old Earth Creationism or whether supreme unction is a sacrament and no one will bother you. It turned out that, no, Creationists are not enough known in Northern Ireland for a representative of Bushmill's to have heard of them. I'm pleased to report that Bushmill's makes a single-malt Irish whiskey. Scotch whiskey differs from Irish whiskey in that when the barley used for Scotch whisky (without the e) is roasted before fermentation begins peat is added to the fire to give an earthy flavor. Fermentation results in a beer, which is then distilled into whisk(e)y. I asked whether Old Bushmill's sells a beer that would have gone into whiskey, and she said no. Somehow or another, and this was thirty or so years ago, I've purchased both Irish and Scotch beers right in Washington, D.C.! Beer sold in the United States is mostly fermented barley, while whiskey, while bourbon (NOT confined to Kentucky) by law must contain 51% corn in its beer. I don't recall ever having a corn beer.


The rechargable battery of my processor went unexpectedly dead, leading me to think that one of them had prematurely worn out. (This turned out not to be the case.) I then went to an exhibit about the many folks along the Mekong River which is over 3000 miles long and runs from Red China to the bottom of Red Vietnam. Hundreds of languages and many cultures. These two exhibits took an hour. I spend a full hour at the third exhibit, about the settler of early Virginia, starting in Jamestown next and managed to hear out of my meat ear when I asked for a copy of a fine road-map sized map of the early peopling of Virginia from Kent, England, whose representatives had a tent. I can get a free one at the souvenir tent, she said. I swung through the Mekong River tents to the souvenir tent and managed to hear a representative tell me to leave because of an impending thunderstorm, and this out of my meat ear alone! One good thing about my cyborg experience is that I have become much more attentive and a better lip reader. The souvenir tent was also shut down for the duration of the thunderstorm, which never came. Why haven't the folks at the Smithsonian who put on these festivals learned about Washington, D.C., weather?


Here's an article that sounds hopeful for relearning how to hear music. I don't think I've quite ready for these measures yet. The article appeared in 2005 November. I added remarks to the article before I sent it to my list.


Sarah found this article for me, as well as Mike's book, which she spotted at Daedalus Books a mail-order place wherefrom I have placed several orders over maybe 20 years but which opened a store only a couple of years ago. This was our first visit, on the way back from seeing a psychiatrist to determine whether I was sane and disposed toward a cochlear implant. (My morbid and obsessive attachment to reality, which does me no good at all in the bureaucracy, didn't count against me, since at Sarah's behest I didn't bring it up.)


My success with listening to music is not as good as others have reported, so I may have to go down the route Mike so well describes below and try out different software. I'm a willing guinea pig, since the imperishable truths of Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach are just as important as hearing possible, rumble-bumble at staff meetings, and teevee evangelists and right-wing talk radio hosts.


Bolero got its first three recordings within a couple of months of each other. The one by the composer himself is mostly of documentary interest, and it wasn't even released on 78s. My favorite conductor, Willem Mengelberg, made one of the other three, but best of all (indeed the best I've ever heard) was conducted by Piero Coppola, an Italian who would not give up his citizenship when he moved to France and hence was denied a major career conducting concert orchestras. Instead, he put his efforts toward making recordings with recording orchestras, such as the Orchestre Symphonique du Gramophon. I do not in general like French orchestral music (though I do like the chamber music very much, the piano music less still, and the vocal hardly at all). Coppola made the first and (as so often happens) still the best and most idiomatic recordings of French orchestral music, only a goodly fraction of which has ever been reissued. (Grab his Saint-Saens organ symphony. When I put it on, I knew within thirty seconds that all norther recordings would be destined for the garbarage heap. My hearing loss means that I don't hear the high frequencies and so miss out on the upper overtones of more modern recordings. But getting idiomatically in tune with the composer and being a creator in one's own right counts for more than sound. And being in tune with the composer means making his music a springboard for a second creation. Jacques Thibaud's (acoustic) recording of the Bach second violin concerto is far, far from what Bach would have heard but he picks up the ingredient of keeping the music moving better than all subsequent recordings. [end of my remarks]


Michael Chorost: My Bionic Quest for Boléro


Michael Chorost ( is the author of Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human.


He's been haunted by Ravel's masterpiece since he lost his hearing. A deaf man's pursuit of the perfect audio upgrade.


With one listen, I was hooked. I was a 15-year-old suburban New Jersey nerd, racked with teenage lust but too timid to ask for a date. When I came across Boléro among the LPs in my parents' record collection, I put it on the turntable. It hit me like a neural thunderstorm, titanic and glorious, each cycle building to a climax and waiting but a beat before launching into the next.


I had no idea back then of Boléro's reputation as one of the most famous orchestral recordings in the world. When it was first performed at the Paris Opera in 1928, the 15-minute composition stunned the audience. Of the French composer, Maurice Ravel, a woman in attendance reportedly cried out, "He's mad ... he's mad!" One critic wrote that Bolero "departs from a thousand years of tradition."


I sat in my living room alone, listening. Boléro starts simply enough, a single flute accompanied by a snare drum: da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum, dum-dum, da-da-da-dum. The same musical clause repeats 17 more times, each cycle adding instruments, growing louder and more insistent, until the entire orchestra roars in an overpowering finale of rhythm and sound. Musically, it was perfect for my ear. It had a structure that I could easily grasp and enough variation to hold my interest.


It took a lot to hold my interest; I was nearly deaf at the time. In 1964, my mother contracted rubella while pregnant with me. Hearing aids allowed me to understand speech well enough, but most music was lost on me. Boléro was one of the few pieces I actually enjoyed. A few years later, I bought the CD and played it so much it eventually grew pitted and scratched. It became my touchstone. Every time I tried out a new hearing aid, I'd check to see if Boléro sounded OK. If it didn't, the hearing aid went back.


And then, on July 7, 2001, at 10:30 am, I lost my ability to hear Boléro - and everything else. While I was waiting to pick up a rental car in Reno, I suddenly thought the battery in my hearing aid had died. I replaced it. No luck. I switched hearing aids. Nothing.


I got into my rental car and drove to the nearest emergency room. For reasons that are still unknown, my only functioning ear had suffered "sudden-onset deafness." I was reeling, trying to navigate in a world where the volume had been turned down to zero.


But there was a solution, a surgeon at Stanford Hospital told me a week later, speaking slowly so I could read his lips. I could have a computer surgically installed in my skull. A cochlear implant, as it is known, would trigger my auditory nerves with 16 electrodes that snaked inside my inner ear. It seemed drastic, and the $50,000 price tag was a dozen times more expensive than a high-end hearing aid. I went home and cried. Then I said yes.


For the next two months, while awaiting surgery, I was totally deaf except for a thin trickle of sound from my right ear. I had long since become accustomed to not hearing my own voice when I spoke. It happened whenever I removed my hearing aid. But that sensation was as temporary as waking up without my glasses. Now, suddenly, the silence wasn't optional. At my job as a technical writer in Silicon Valley, I struggled at meetings. Using the phone was out of the question.


In early September, the surgeon drilled a tunnel through an inch and a half of bone behind my left ear and inserted the 16 electrodes along the auditory nerve fibers in my cochlea. He hollowed a well in my skull about the size of three stacked quarters and snapped in the implant.


When the device was turned on a month after surgery, the first sentence I heard sounded like "Zzzzzz szz szvizzz ur brfzzzzzz?" My brain gradually learned how to interpret the alien signal. Before long, "Zzzzzz szz szvizzz ur brfzzzzzz?" became "What did you have for breakfast?" After months of practice, I could use the telephone again, even converse in loud bars and cafeterias. In many ways, my hearing was better than it had ever been. Except when I listened to music.


I could hear the drums of Boléro just fine. But the other instruments were flat and dull. The flutes and soprano saxophones sounded as though someone had clapped pillows over them. The oboes and violins had become groans. It was like walking color-blind through a Paul Klee exhibit. I played Boléro again and again, hoping that practice would bring it, too, back to life. It didn't.


The implant was embedded in my head; it wasn't some flawed hearing aid I could just send back. But it was a computer. Which meant that, at least in theory, its effectiveness was limited only by the ingenuity of software engineers. As researchers learn more about how the ear works, they continually revise cochlear implant software. Users await new releases with all the anticipation of Apple zealots lining up for the latest Mac OS.


About a year after I received the implant, I asked one implant engineer how much of the device's hardware capacity was being used. "Five percent, maybe." He shrugged. "Ten, tops."


I was determined to use that other 90 percent. I set out on a crusade to explore the edges of auditory science. For two years tugging on the sleeves of scientists and engineers around the country, offering myself as a guinea pig for their experiments. I wanted to hear Boléro again.


Helen Keller famously said that if she had to choose between being deaf and being blind, she'd be blind, because while blindness cut her off from things, deafness cut her off from people. For centuries, the best available hearing aid was a horn, or ear trumpet, which people held to their ears to funnel in sound. In 1952, the first electronic hearing aid was developed. It worked by blasting amplified sound into a damaged ear. However it (and the more advanced models that followed) could help only if the user had some residual hearing ability, just as glasses can help only those who still have some vision. Cochlear implants, on the other hand, bypass most of the ear's natural hearing mechanisms. The device's electrodes directly stimulate nerve endings in the ear, which transmit sound information to the brain. Since the surgery can eliminate any remaining hearing, implants are approved for use only in people who can't be helped by hearing aids. The first modern cochlear implants went on the market in Australia in 1982, and by 2004 approximately 82,500 people worldwide had been fitted with one.


When technicians activated my cochlear implant in October 2001, they gave me a pager-sized processor that decoded sound and sent it to a headpiece that clung magnetically to the implant underneath my skin (see "Reprogramming the Inner Ear," page 154). The headpiece contained a radio transmitter, which sent the processor's data to the implant at roughly 1 megabit per second. Sixteen electrodes curled up inside my cochlea strobed on and off to stimulate my auditory nerves. The processor's software gave me eight channels of auditory resolution, each representing a frequency range. The more channels the software delivers, the better the user can distinguish between sounds of different pitches.


Eight channels isn't much compared with the capacity of a normal ear, which has the equivalent of 3,500 channels. Still, eight works well enough for speech, which doesn't have much pitch variation. Music is another story. The lowest of my eight channels captured everything from 250 hertz (about middle C on the piano) to 494 hertz (close to the B above middle C), making it nearly impossible for me to distinguish among the 11 notes in that range. Every note that fell into a particular channel sounded the same to me.


So in mid-2002, nine months after activation, I upgraded to a program called Hi-Res, which gave me 16 channels - double the resolution! An audiologist plugged my processor into her laptop and uploaded the new code. I suddenly had a better ear, without surgery. In theory, I would now be able to distinguish among tones five notes apart instead of 11.


I eagerly plugged my Walkman into my processor and turned it on. Boléro did sound better. But after a day or two, I realized that "better" still wasn't good enough. The improvement was small, like being in that art gallery again and seeing only a gleam of pink here, a bit of blue there. I wasn't hearing the Boléro I remembered.


At a cochlear implant conference in 2003, I heard Jay Rubinstein, a surgeon and researcher at the University of Washington, say that it took at least 100 channels of auditory information to make music pleasurable. My jaw dropped. No wonder. I wasn't even close.


A year later, I met Rubinstein at another conference, and he mentioned that there might be ways to bring music back to me. He told me about something called stochastic resonance; studies suggested that my music perception might be aided by deliberately adding noise to what I hear. He took a moment to give me a lesson in neural physiology. After a neuron fires, it goes dormant for a fraction of a second while it resets. During that phase, it misses any information that comes along. When an electrode zaps thousands of neurons at once, it forces them all to go dormant, making it impossible for them to receive pulses until they reset. That synchrony means I miss bits and pieces of information.


Desynchronizing the neurons, Rubinstein explained, would guarantee that they're never all dormant simultaneously. And the best way to get them out of sync is to beam random electrical noise at them. A few months later, Rubinstein arranged a demonstration.


An audiologist at the University of Iowa working with Rubenstein handed me a processor loaded with the stochastic-resonance software. The first thing I heard was a loud whoosh - the random noise. It sounded like a cranked-up electric fan. But in about 30 seconds, the noise went away. I was puzzled. "You've adapted to it," the technician told me. The nervous system can habituate to any kind of everyday sound, but it adjusts especially quickly to noise with no variation. Stochastic-resonance noise is so content-free that the brain tunes it out in seconds.


In theory, the noise would add just enough energy to incoming sound to make faint details audible. In practice, everything I heard became rough and gritty. My own voice sounded vibrato, mechanical, and husky - even a little querulous, as if I were perpetually whining.


We tried some quick tests to take my newly programmed ear out for a spin. It performed slightly better in some ways, slightly worse in others - but there was no dramatic improvement. The audiologist wasn't surprised. She told me that, in most cases, a test subject's brain will take weeks or even months to make sense of the additional information. Furthermore, the settings she chose were only an educated guess at what might work for my particular physiology. Everyone is different. Finding the right setting is like fishing for one particular cod in the Atlantic.


The university loaned me the processor to test for a few months. As soon as I was back in the hotel, I tried my preferred version of Boléro, a 1982 recording conducted by Charles Dutoit with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. It sounded different, but not better. Sitting at my keyboard, I sighed a little and tapped out an email thanking Rubinstein and encouraging him to keep working on it.


Music depends on low frequencies for its richness and mellowness. The lowest-pitched string on a guitar vibrates at 83 hertz, but my Hi-Res software, like the eight-channel model, bottoms out at 250 hertz. I do hear something when I pluck a string, but it's not actually an 83-hertz sound. Even though the string is vibrating at 83 times per second, portions of it are vibrating faster, giving rise to higher-frequency notes called harmonics. The harmonics are what I hear.


The engineers haven't gone below 250 hertz because the world's low-pitched sounds - air conditioners, engine rumbles - interfere with speech perception. Furthermore, increasing the total frequency range means decreasing resolution, because each channel has to accommodate more frequencies. Since speech perception has been the main goal during decades of research, the engineers haven't given much thought to representing low frequencies. Until Philip Loizou came along.


Loizou and his team of postdocs at the University of Texas at Dallas are trying to figure out ways to give cochlear implant users access to more low frequencies. A week after my frustratingly inconclusive encounter with stochastic resonance, I traveled to Dallas and asked Loizou why the government would give him a grant to develop software that increases musical appreciation. "Music lifts up people's spirits, helps them forget things," he told me in his mild Greek accent. "The goal is to have the patient live a normal life, not to be deprived of anything."


Loizou is trying to negotiate a trade-off: narrowing low-frequency channels while widening higher-frequency channels. But his theories only hinted at what specific configurations might work best, so Loizou was systematically trying a range of settings to see which ones got the better results.


The team's software ran only on a desktop computer, so on my visit to Dallas I had to be plugged directly into the machine. After a round of testing, a postdoc assured me, they would run Boléro through their software and pipe it into my processor via Windows Media Player.


I spent two and a half days hooked up to the computer, listening to endless sequences of tones - none of it music - in a windowless cubicle. Which of two tones sounded lower? Which of two versions of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" was more recognizable? Did this string of notes sound like a march or a waltz? It was exacting, high-concentration work - like taking an eye exam that lasted for two days. My responses produced reams of data that they would spend hours analyzing.


Forty minutes before my cab back to the airport was due, we finished the last test and the postdoc fired up the programs he needed to play Boléro. Some of the lower pitches I'd heard in the previous two days had sounded rich and mellow, and I began thinking wistfully about those bassoons and oboes. I felt a rising sense of anticipation and hope.


I waited while the postdoc tinkered with the computer. And waited. Then I noticed the frustrated look of a man trying to get Windows to behave. "I do this all the time," he said, half to himself. Windows Media Player wouldn't play the file.


I suggested rebooting and sampling Boléro through a microphone. But the postdoc told me he couldn't do that in time for my plane. A later flight wasn't an option; I had to be back in the Bay Area. I was crushed. I walked out of the building with my shoulders slumped. Scientifically, the visit was a great success. But for me, it was a failure. On the flight home, I plugged myself into my laptop and listened sadly to Boléro with Hi-Res. It was like eating cardboard.


It's June 2005, a few weeks after my visit to Dallas, and I'm ready to try again. A team of engineers at Advanced Bionics, one of three companies in the world that makes bionic ears, is working on a new software algorithm for so-called virtual channels. I hop on a flight to their Los Angeles headquarters, my CD player in hand.


My implant has 16 electrodes, but the virtual-channels software will make my hardware act like there are actually 121. Manipulating the flow of electricity to target neurons between each electrode creates the illusion of seven new electrodes between each actual pair, similar to the way an audio engineer can make a sound appear to emanate from between two speakers. Jay Rubinstein had told me two years ago that it would take at least 100 channels to create good music perception. I'm about to find out if he's right.


I'm sitting across a desk from Gulam Emadi, an Advanced Bionics researcher. He and an audiologist are about to fit me with the new software. Leo Litvak, who has spent three years developing the program, comes in to say hello. He's one of those people of whom others often say, "If Leo can't do it, it probably can't be done." And yet it would be hard to find a more modest person. Were it not for his clothes, which mark him as an Orthodox Jew, he would simply disappear in a roomful of people. Litvak tilts his head and smiles hello, shyly glances at Emadi's laptop, and sidles out.


At this point, I'm rationing my emotions like Spock. Hi-Res was a disappointment. Stochastic resonance remains a big if. The low-frequency experiment in Dallas was a bust. Emadi dinks with his computer and hands me my processor with the new software in it. I plug it into myself, plug my CD player into it, and press Play.


Boléro starts off softly and slowly, meandering like a breeze through the trees. Da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum, dum-dum, da-da-da-dum. I close my eyes to focus, switching between Hi-Res and the new software every 20 or 30 seconds by thumbing a blue dial on my processor.


My God, the oboes d'amore do sound richer and warmer. I let out a long, slow breath, coasting down a river of sound, waiting for the soprano saxophones and the piccolos. They'll come in around six minutes into the piece - and it's only then that I'll know if I've truly got it back.


As it turns out, I couldn't have chosen a better piece of music for testing new implant software. Some biographers have suggested that Boléro's obsessive repetition is rooted in the neurological problems Ravel had started to exhibit in 1927, a year before he composed the piece. It's still up for debate whether he had early-onset Alzheimer's, a left-hemisphere brain lesion, or something else.


But Boléro's obsessiveness, whatever its cause, is just right for my deafness. Over and over the theme repeats, allowing me to listen for specific details in each cycle.


At 5:59, the soprano saxophones leap out bright and clear, arcing above the snare drum. I hold my breath.


At 6:39, I hear the piccolos. For me, the stretch between 6:39 and 7:22 is the most Boléro of Boléro, the part I wait for each time. I concentrate. It sounds ... right.


Hold on. Don't jump to conclusions. I backtrack to 5:59 and switch to Hi-Res. That heart-stopping leap has become an asthmatic whine. I backtrack again and switch to the new software. And there it is again, that exultant ascent. I can hear Boléro's force, its intensity and passion. My chin starts to tremble.


I open my eyes, blinking back tears. "Congratulations," I say to Emadi. "You have done it." And I reach across the desk with absurd formality and shake his hand.


There's more technical work to do, more progress to be made, but I'm completely shattered. I keep zoning out and asking Emadi to repeat things. He passes me a box of tissues. I'm overtaken by a vast sensation of surprise. I did it. For years I pestered researchers and asked questions. Now I'm running 121 channels and I can hear music again.


That evening, in the airport, sitting numbly at the gate, I listen to Boléro again. I'd never made it through more than three or four minutes of the piece on Hi-Res before getting bored and turning it off. Now, I listen to the end, following the narrative, hearing again its holy madness.


I pull out the Advanced Bionics T-shirt that the team gave me and dab at my eyes.


During the next few days I walk around in a haze of disbelief, listening to Boléro over and over to prove to myself that I really am hearing it again. But Boléro is just one piece of music. Jonathan Berger, head of Stanford's music department, tells me in an email, "There's not much of interest in terms of structure - it's a continuous crescendo, no surprises, no subtle interplay between development and contrast."


"In fact," he continues, "Ravel was not particularly happy that this study in orchestration became his big hit. It pales in comparison to any of his other music in terms of sophistication, innovation, grace, and depth."


So now it's time to try out music with sophistication, innovation, grace, and depth. But I don't know where to begin. I need an expert with first-rate equipment, a huge music collection, and the ability to pick just the right pieces for my newly reprogrammed ear. I put the question to craigslist - "Looking for a music geek." Within hours, I hear from Tom Rettig, a San Francisco music producer.


In his studio, Rettig plays me Ravel's String Quartet in F Major and Philip Glass' String Quartet no. 5. I listen carefully, switching between the old software and the new. Both compositions sound enormously better on 121 channels. But when Rettig plays music with vocals, I discover that having 121 channels hasn't solved all my problems. While the crescendos in Dulce Pontes' Cano do Mar sound louder and clearer, I hear only white noise when her voice comes in. Rettig figures that relatively simple instrumentals are my best bet - pieces where the instruments don't overlap too much - and that flutes and clarinets work well for me. Cavalcades of brass tend to overwhelm me and confuse my ear.


And some music just leaves me cold: I can't even get through Kraftwerk's Tour de France. I wave impatiently to Rettig to move on. (Later, a friend tells me it's not the software - Kraftwerk is just dull. It makes me think that for the first time in my life I might be developing a taste in music.)


Listening to Boléro more carefully in Rettig's studio reveals other bugs. The drums sound squeaky - how can drums squeak? - and in the frenetic second half of the piece, I still have trouble separating the instruments.


After I get over the initial awe of hearing music again, I discover that it's harder for me to understand ordinary speech than it was before I went to virtual channels. I report this to Advanced Bionics, and my complaint is met by a rueful shaking of heads. I'm not the first person to say that, they tell me. The idea of virtual channels is a breakthrough, but the technology is still in the early stages of development.


But I no longer doubt that incredible things can be done with that unused 90 percent of my implant's hardware capacity. Tests conducted a month after my visit to Advanced Bionics show that my ability to discriminate among notes has improved considerably. With Hi-Res, I was able to identify notes only when they were at least 70 hertz apart. Now, I can hear notes that are only 30 hertz apart. It's like going from being able to tell the difference between red and blue to being able to distinguish between aquamarine and cobalt.


My hearing is no longer limited by the physical circumstances of my body. While my friends' ears will inevitably decline with age, mine will only get better.


Michael Chorost ( is the author of Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human.


Reprogramming the Inner Ear


Cochlear implants, introduced 20 years ago, have given 83,000 deaf people the ability to hear human speech. Surgeons drill a hole in the skull, embed a sound receiver, and weave an electrode array into the cochlea. Once the hardware is in place, software engineers take over, upgrading the devices as needed so users can enjoy more complex sounds, like music.


1. The earpiece contains a microphone to receive sound and a processor to convert it to digital information.


2. The information travels up to a headpiece that uses a radio transmitter to relay the digitized sound through the skin.


3. The sound is picked up by an implant in the user's skull. The headpiece clings magnetically to the implant through the scalp.


4. The implant converts the radio signal into electrical pulses, which travel to an array of 16 or 24 electrodes in the inner ear. The electrodes strobe on and off to stimulate the auditory nerves. In time, the user learns to interpret the signals as sound.


5. Users upgrade their hearing by downloading software to the external processor. Early implant users heard just eight channels (compared to 3,000 for normal hearing). The latest software makes 121 channels possible. Tomorrow?


[end of article]


Friday (June 29): As on Wednesday, I didn't get a whole movement of a Beethoven sonata to carry me back, for that movement, to a world of profundity. Sad. All My Children: Erica was now in the hospital for something revealed sometime on Monday through Thursday. Jack comes to visit and succumbs, once again, to her charms. A hospital worker saw them passionately kissing through the blinds and whipped out a small camera. Stay tuned, though the whole thing may have blown over by next Friday. Ryan keeps trying to break away from his ex-wife. Zach, who lent Adam money to pay for his son's ransom has not declared himself to be owner of the Adam estate. Most remarkably, three of the gorgeous women actually have jobs! It's not in the "real" world but in a cosmetics firm. I am not surprised.


Jim Lehrer: I heard one part very, very well. But, duh! It was two law professors talking about the Supreme Court decision on Affirmative Action. The court is moving in a conservative direction! One of the judges casts a swing vote! The court's decisions are incremental, not revolutionary!


Sunday (July 1)


Sarah and I were invited to a Mormon church by Sarah Jensen, with whom I work, to hear about the continuing recovery of her sister, Emily, from a terrible car accident six years ago at the age of 16 that left her in a coma for three months. It was her fantastic determination and the support of those who knew her that brought her recovery so far to finishing high school and LDS [Latter Day Saints, which is what Mormons are officially] Business School, where she earned a two-year degree, though it took her four years. Her parents and her sister spoke movingly--I heard her mother esp. well--and then Emily herself. She walks haltingly and so was her speech. She read from a text but so slowly that I could follow most of what she said. I was struck at one point about her expressing joy in her having recovered so far that she is now able to "serve others." All my ex-Ayn Randroid juices surged through my brain. Altruism!! (Properly viewed, Objectivist ethics is not a counsel to being self-centered but a demanding doctrine of self-improvement.) And I wanted to bring in Hayekian arguments that, since everyone knows his own local situation and desires better than anyone else, rather than having everyone serve everyone else and guess at what the others want, I would be more effective for everyone just to serve himself. I wonder why there are constant exhortations to serve others. It must not be natural. No one has to be told to drink when thirsty. Why do some societies and religions drum these ideas of serving others in more than others? How altruistic are we by our biological nature? (I do subscribe to group as well as individual selection but have no measures.) Does the Mormon community benefit from this indoctrination? (I presume that those cheerful folks that constantly help others out of sheer exuberance just do it and don't *talk* about the importance of "serving others." I have been regarded as both extremely self-centered and a uncommonly generous. What is my writing if not a gift to you, my readers? It is an urge to *self*-expression, you reply, and therefore selfish.  If so, then everyone is "selfish" in a uselessly tautological sense. In the sense of self-improvement, well I'm constantly striving to learn more, though I do plead guilty to wasting many hours reading Richard Dawkins' _The God Delusion_, which was entertaining and even morale boosting to this atheist but from which I learned almost nothing. But Emily clearly has it all over me in the self-improvement department! I think her "serving others" (if she said it, I missed it) will be consisting of inspiring others in disastrous situations to improve themselves, which means to be selfish!


Mormonism is a high-commitment religion. Not only is there tithing (giving up 10% of one's income to the church), but Sunday observances last three hours. Mark Twain, in _Letters from the Earth_ had the Devil observe that humans could not stand more than an hour and a quarter in church! Mormons also require missionary work of two years for men, and it is strongly encouraged in women. There are extra benefits: if one is married to another Mormon in a Temple ceremony, one gets to go to a higher place in Heaven and will be wed for eternity in the afterlife. There is no divorce, so you'd better make an excellent choice! On the other hand, it seems that far more people get to at least the lower ranks of Heaven than other Christians promise. God only knows, of course, whether Sarah and I will get into Heaven, and an atheist like me says, of course, God doesn't know, because God doesn't exist.


I have long said, long before I met Sarah Jensen, that were I to regain my Christian faith, I would do so as a Mormon. It is quite attractive that revelation, apart from what results from individual prayer, should continue into the present and to Americans (the land I love) as well. What is even better, and this I learned only a year ago, is that god was once a man and became a god by the process of glorification. That you, too, might become a god is a part of Mormon theology. Were this to happen to me, I'd start up a new universe and make improvements on the current one, not unlike the constitution of the Confederate States of America improved upon the (illegal) constitution of 1787, In other words, our world is the botched thing it is because the man who became the current god was far from perfect, and this imperfection continued when he became a god. Mormon theologians should have no difficulty construing Biblical passages about god's omnipotence and omniscience as metaphorical. The imperfections of god are patent, in that, rather than offer more feasible covenants (Adam and Eve broke the first one within a matter of eight to twenty-four hours, according to rabbis who have wrestled with the matter, as Genesis itself doesn't make the matter of timing clear.) The current god is a liberal, in other words, one who vastly overestimates the capacity of human nature. He is also a bureaucrat. Here's what I wrote in another context:


The ferocity of the left's transcendental egalitarianism pales, however, beside transcendental religious objections about violations of the sanctity of embryonic life. There is nothing in the Bible against abortion or suicide, an extraordinary omission on the part of the Lord, who issued 613 commandments (mitzvot) in the Old Testament alone, such as : "And the meat-offering thereof [of the Omer on the morrow after the first day of Passover] shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink-offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin" (Leviticus 23:13). Or this: "But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks [for a man child it's only one week], as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purification threescore and six days" (Leviticus 12:5). Yet again, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord they God" (Deuteronomy 22:5). Out with women's pants-suits! And of polyester suits for both sexes: "Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together" (Deut. 22:11). And even "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" (previous verse). And again, "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seed: lest the fruit of thy seed which though hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard be defiled" (verse before that). But more reasonably, "Thou shalt not have in thy bag diverse weights, a great and a small" (Deut. 25:15).


It is lovely that Emily's entire religious community would rally behind her. (I am not, of course, persuaded that their prayers were efficacious. But Sarah long ago told me that, though prayer doesn't change things, it changes people and people change things.) Would I wish to join such a community? The tiny business of evidence is my fundamental objection, but I think I would find the magnitude of the commitment too high and would have left the Church of LDS. There are plenty who have and who have written indignant books. When I was looking for background books on Mormonism, I saw several of them and pushed them all aside. I would have learned nothing from them. In any case, this commitment to Emily, who I doubt will become fully self-supporting, is not something your author instant who in practice looks upon such matters as a utilitarian, however much he may argue in other places about the weakness of utilitarianism as the ground of ethics. At least until now. A Premise Checked!


After the talks, we spoke with Sarah's new boyfriend, a fine fellow who seems eminently suitable to become Sarah's wife and is attending law school at Yale. Also there was a fellow working for the Brookings Institution, who had graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. He was rather unfamiliar with the Virginia (Public Choice)and Austrian (Mises, Schumpeter, and Hayek) Schools, but he understood economics well enough to realize instantly that the energy crisis is a non-problem. We also talked with Sarah and her parents and also with Emily herself. She speaks slowly but eagerly. I told her about Anne Calahan, who suffered a car accident herself and whose survival was thought to be dim. But she also had a huge determination to make herself whole. She even took up running. Emily said she would like to run, too! As it was, she bounded eagerly in the reception room to join up with others. I had asked Sarah and her parents when Emily's sense of humor had come back. It never left her, I was told, though that could not be strictly true when she was in a coma for some months. It was certainly in place when I spoke with her.


It was a great honor for Sarah Jensen to invite us, for we were the only Gentiles (non-Mormons) there.


All in all, I heard pretty well, esp. when Sarah's mother spoke to the audience, though I must admit that my attention lagged out of fatigue toward the end. I didn't do as well during the reception, which could get noisy, but that has always been true.


Tuesday (July 3): Sarah (Forman, now) and I went to see a dermatologist in Chevy Chase. I suggested we go to the eighteenth floor of the building to get a great view of the area. That floor had a gym and we saw the steeple of the church we were in on Sunday. Nothing to report about my hearing, just a nice coincidence.


Thursday (July 5): Sarah joined me at the Folklife Festival, where we caught up with her third cousin, Mary Thorpe, who was volunteering at the Virginia section celebrating the landing in Jamestown 400 years ago. The Kent region of England was represented there, as Kent supplied a vastly disproportionate number of immigrants to Jamestown. Sarah spoke at length with the daughter of a viscount and who lived in a magnificent estate, casually and as equals. (Sarah can do this.) They shared the conversations equally, as Sarah had, as always, pertinent information to impart. I can't say I followed it very well.


Friday (July 6): All My Children: Adam is losing his fortune, including his mansion, to Zach. Recall that his son, J.R., faked a kidnaping and that Zach put up money for the ransom. This money never came back, forcing Adam to sell off his fortune. This may very well be a way of getting the again Adam (now 70 in actual life) off the show. When he goes, the show will lose its anchor and may well come to an end. Quite a number of vultures showed up trying to grab the mansion. Jack is now talking with the self-centered Greenlee, who did not want to break with Ryan (Wikipedia corrects me, as I thought they had been divorced). Erica, whom Jack wants to divorce, warns him about Greenlee. Ryan tried to comfort, Anne, whom he married for the second time on May 22. His wholesome honesty makes me think is the most Mormon-like character in the show.


Jim Lehrer: My hearing wasn't so good. There was blather about a groups of rock "musicians" staging big fund raisers to combat global warming. This would, of course, make me want the globe to heat up enough to boil these musicians. No thoughts expressed that the earth my be too cool. No one ever says what the optimal temperature of the globe might be. Big Chill is getting ready to become a huge rent-seeking lobby, irregardless of any concern about facts and costs.


Sunday (July 8): A hearing recap. I can only get a few minutes of clear music when I go running, as I reported, though sometimes I hook into the music later on and past the tunes that go through my head. I discovered that my meat ear now distorts the scale! This was very clear when I followed the score of the Mozart Sonata in C at home. This distortion isn't always there, though. I can get a certain enjoyment anyway, since I know what the melodic line of music that I know very well is supposed to sound like. But the parodying of the actual line, which can be entertaining, does not comport to my getting into synch with the great masterpieces. It remains to be seen (HEARD!) how will my meditations will give me brain control. I also listened to my eight Dr. Seuss books for the first time since June 7. They sounded quite a bit different, reflecting either the new settings Andrea made for me or else my own brain evolution. The sound was not as crisp as before and the tunes intruded more whenever there was any music joining the readings. (At first, the music came in as just high decibel racket.) But I could hear the higher-pitched consonants better. Andrea had made my second program do this, but I don't know about what she had done to all the programs, in particular the third one, which is for an external input (in this case, my stereo) only. It *might* seem that the changes made things for the worse, but it could also mean that I just need to relearn a bit with the new settings. Sarah and Greg continue to run through words with me. Alas, I've been quite busy on a major project and haven't been devoting as much time as I should to improving my hearing. This will change as soon as my office delivers the Sound and Beyond software. It finally got ordered, but the computer people at work need to test it for the compatibility with the whole network. I have no reason to think there will be a problem, but that's their job. I hope it doesn't take a long time!




Friday 2007 June 15


Wednesday (June 6): We attended the funeral of Ron Miller, a former colleague at the Civil Aeronautics Board. I was never esp. close to Ron, but he saved my life. I was an alcoholic and, in 1975, he got me to take up running, which I did on Washington's Birthday that year. I'll never forget how much effort it was to run just over a mile! Running changed my brain, so much that I couldn't even drink a couple of beers without getting a hangover. I stopped completely for over a year at the end of 1975. After that I would have a couple of beers, but no more. I last had even a single drink in 1983. Today, I do not even want the effects of liquor. Every now and then maybe I do but very, very rarely. It was in the Fall of 1976 that I suddenly discovered that the first Marine Corps Marathon was being held early the next morning. I finished it! Next year, I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I've already spoken about that, but here's to say that, had I continued my downward spiral into drink, I'd likely have killed myself. My eternal gratitude, Ron! It was one of those nice coincidences that sometimes makes me think the world conspires to make me happy that we ran into his wife, Judy, at the YMCA. I planned to visit Ron and thank him, but his cancer proceeded too rapidly. But his wife told him and her children.


At the funeral were several colleagues from the CAB I hadn't seen since it folded at the end of 1984. I could hardly make out a word of the tributes from the pulpit in the church, but I spoke to them individually afterwards with better success. No need to go into details here, for this is a diary about my hearing. Ron was an avid canoer, and his CAB friends that came were remarkably fit. I had expected many to have aged or gained so much weight that I wouldn't have recognized them. Not so! One of them was John, whose last name escapes me. He was blond but part of his eyebrow was (and is) bright white. He used to wear a delightful straw hat. I bring up John, since it was he who defended an exhibit in a big international case I worked up. It involved calculating the profits U.S. carriers made in "beyond markets." These are markets into other countries beyond the market from the United States. If a U.S. carrier flies from New York City to Buenos Aires and then onward, the onward portion is called the "beyond market." I don't at all remember what my calculations were supposed to justify (probably that these profits were modest), but only skeletal statistics were presented at the hearing. My job was to make a whole bunch of assumptions and calculate the profits in the "beyond markets." My calculations were quite elaborate, though not involving any higher mathematics than algebra.


The United States lost the case. We at the CAB held a consolation party. Frank Lewis, the chief accountant there, introduced me laughingly as the guy who did Exhibit 38B (or whatever it was), the exhibit that blew up the case. Now here's the rub. John is a more pleasant fellow than I was, but since he didn't do the calculations (and I don't think he has the math savvy to do them), he fell down on the witness stand. In some earlier cases, I defended my own exhibits. My job on these cases was to assign a dollar value to the odium of having to change carriers on a route. This was much more complex, and I even dragged in calculus. I went through one of the chief books that made the case for airline deregulation, George W. Douglas and James Clifford Miller III, _Economic Regulation of Domestic Air Transport: Theory and Policy_ (1974). (Yes, this is the same Jim Miller who followed David Stockman as Director of the Budget under Reagan.) Jim's dissertation at UVa (he was in the same class in graduate economics I was) was in airline scheduling, and I think Douglas's dissertation covered the same topic. The book involved applied econometrics beyond what I knew. Still, I distilled a useful equation out of it, which says that the chance of finding an empty seat rises asymptotically as the average percent of seats filled goes over 60% or so, something everyone has noticed since airline deregulation. I applied their big equation, reduced to a simple one, in my work. Well, airline lawyers (quite well paid!) grilled me for three hours on the witness stand. I fielded their questions by stressing the general plausibility of my calculations and invited them to submit their own, which they had not done before the hearing. The C.A.B. won the case. (The whole thing was phony, since carriers need not operate the schedules the suggested in the hearing and upon which I made my calculations, but never mind.) A second time on a similar case, my reputation for defending my work had gotten around, and I was grilled for only an hour. The third time, the airline attorneys said, "We have no questions of this witness." I am reminded of my first boss at the CAB, the legendary Sam Brown, telling me that he was in a hearing once and an airline lawyer asked him, "Dr. Brown, what is a logarithm." Sam rattled out the standard definition, "A logarithm of a number is that exponent to which a fixed number, called the base, must be raised to produce the given number." The lawyer said, "I withdraw the question"!


Connection to my hearing: Sam ran the Economics Research Section, later the Office of Plans, and gave me my only promotion in the government, from a GS-11 to a GS-12 in 1972. The Office of Plan was abolished by the then chairman of the CAB, a wheat farmer in Washington state who was chairman of the Republican National Committee for that state as a reward for his good work in getting Nixon re=elected. He simply didn't understand our work and got rid of it. Since I had produced a nice compilation summarizing international air cargo statistics, I was assigned to the Bureau of International Affairs. I was happy for exactly one morning, since I had a boss who didn't think straight. More important, the international stuff was even more politicized than the domestic stuff, in which I just did research anyhow. As I've said several times already, policy is not written down or even spoken, so much as *overheard*, which couldn't do back then, even though my hearing wasn't nearly as bad as it was to become. So John of the straw hat, a bit cocky (around me, at any rate) but a congenial guy, defended my exhibit. I hold nothing against him at all, but rather his boss, Herb Aswall, who decided to have John defend the exhibit. Herb was arrogant and thought he knew the Nixon policy line, which was to give the airlines what they wanted. (Republicans are champions of big business, not free enterprise.) Now the work I and others did for Sam suggested that there really was no conflict between airline profits and public benefit. The public likes low prices but airline profits (when the airlines are shielded from competition by the government) do not always do up when prices do, contrary to what one might think on first blush. The profits in fact depend on what is called "the elasticity of demand." What happened was airline lawyers came to dominate airline economists and played regulatory games with the government. The studies from Sam's shop and from academia all suggested lower prices, but the airlines managed to come up with studies that suggested what common sense says, namely higher prices always mean higher profits. At this stage of the conflict, who wins the cases at the CAB depends on White House philosophy. Well, Herb went along with the then Nixon line and told me, "Elasticity. I don't believe in no elasticity!" I said, Herb, "Do you believe in long division? Elasticity is a ratio." And answer came there none.


Later, Herb was to ROOT!! ROOT!! for deregulation. My mistake was to come out for it too early, long before the word was coined, like on my first day at the CAB. Sam, an economist, agreed with me, but his hearing was good and he got the proper over-heard signals. And yet, the first flush of data after deregulation called deregulation into question. Sam was will willing to examine his own assumptions, and so was I. Later, and after Sam died, the data strongly supported deregulation after the fact.


How much my problems are really ones of hearing and not of my morbid attachment to reality, I can't honestly say. I can say that attachment to reality is not good if one works in a policy unit in the government.


Thursday (June 7): We visited Andrea for a three-month followup visit. Here's my letter to her, with the outcomes in brackets:


Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 22:10:09 -0400 (EDT) To: Andrea Marlowe <>


It has been for months now since activation. I don't know how closely you have been reading my diary, but here's the gist as far as your making decisions go.


[Andrea reports reading them. I don't know who else reads them in full, besides Janet and Bruce. They are quite a mixture of things, including music and reflections generally. She told me she was delighted whenever I said I agree with her. She said she was "always right." Now there are drastic theological difficulties with such a statement. From the standpoint of virtue, she has a point. What I mean here is that it's often a good idea to follow rules and not give in to the temptation to take the easy way out. This includes, most especially, leaving the processor on so as to keep on learning to adjust, even if I am merely irritated by the racket. On the other hand, rules fit general patterns and are not necessarily optimal for each individual.]


First, I'd like the volume reduced. I rarely go past the halfway mark and there are times when I'd like the volume lower than I can get it at present.


[This was accomplished. She tested me and adjusted the first program on the first processor. The second program is just the first but with a greater emphasis on the higher frequencies, for sounds like s and sh, which I have the greatest difficulty hearing. The third program is for an input only, whether an external directional microphone or an electronic source like my WalkWoman or my stereo (which hooks in the telephone, teevee, or my CD player. Now there's often a high-pitched squeal from an audio source, which can remain even after I turn the source off. Capacitors continuing to discharge, I suspect. One of the booklets that came with the processors warned against direct connections. I asked Andrea if she knew how I could put something between the audio source and the processor, and she didn't know of anything.


[The second (backup) processor is just like the first, except that the volume level of the second program was lowered. Actually, I wish it had been the third program (the one that gets an input from an external source. What's going on here is that the balance control on my amplifier doesn't go low enough when set all the way over to my right meat-ear. This means that when I try to listen to music and even turn the level down on my cyber ear, it is still louder in the cyber ear, while I want exactly the same coming in on both sides. This way I can monitor the strange sounds coming out in my cyber ear by hearing the music correctly (meaning as I'm used to it) in my meat ear. As I get better and better at it, I'll gradually turn down the sound in the meat ear and use the cyber ear alone. This is my training. Ultimately, I might even listen to stereo records in stereo. I've already remarked on this matter of hearing higher frequencies that I haven't heard since I was young in the cyber ear. Now I can plug in an external source in the first and second programs, but the sound is contaminated by whatever is going on in the room at the time. I should have specified that it was the third program in the spare processor for which I wanted the volume reduced. But, as it happens, I can now get a good balance between the meat and cyber ear with the third program. No need to rush back to Baltimore and squeeze in an extra session, for which I doubt Kaiser would pay.]


Second, I need to decide at some point that my progress is really slowing down and I should start wearing a hearing aid in my left ear. I have done think I can hear better out of both ears than before the operation. On some rare occasions, like at a funeral today for a dear friend I worked with twenty years ago, I used both ears, knowing that I was unlikely to see several of our mutual friends who came again. I agree it's better to use these occasions to train my brain and not to care if I miss things, except when I find it unusually important that I don't. I described in my diary that I did miss out on a news story about finding new genes in the sea, as told my Craig Venter, the guy responsible. So maybe I should have followed the captions, as I have started to do a little bit on the teevee shows (for the purpose of making my diary more humorous, really.)


[She says be patient. It's only been four months.]


Third, I need to do different kinds of practice, since I have a sense that my improvements are decreasing. My office is allegedly buying Sound and Beyond software for me:


     Sound and Beyond is an interactive software program based on the      CAST software, it has been designed for easy use by adults to      practice and develop their ...


     Sound and Beyond FAQ      Sound and Beyond is an interactive software program designed as a      resource for adult Nucleus cochlea implant recipients to practice      and develop their ...


What do you know about it, and what else is out there? My chief activity is to listen to others talking. This winds up being mostly talking with Sarah and a fellow named George in the library where I work. We rarely have company or get invited. I don't get invited to staff meetings at work and am given little to do. I work in a policy unit, which requires discerning what the Big People (political appointees) want. Their desires are not written down or directly imparted. Rather they are overheard. Since I can't overhear what the latest twists are, I'm out of the loop. I can't very well get others to repeat and repeat to me, much less to fill me in on what I failed to overhear. So I largely do background research when called up. By all accounts, I do a good job.


[Andrea hasn't tested Sound and Beyond herself, but she has gotten several reports from her patients testifying that this is an excellent piece of software. Now if only the software would actually get delivered!]


Whenever I can, I seize a learning moment, at museums where someone is offering instruction, or even on the subway, when others are talking loudly. If I can pick up a few syllables or even whole sentences, I'm training my brain. I also watch two teevee shows on Friday that primarily show the speaker's voice, All My Children and The Jim Lehrer News Hour. I also run through eight Dr. Seuss books.


These are with faces uncovered (or with text, in the case of Dr. Seuss. Other library books-with-recordings are not as good). For covered faces, Sarah and my friend Greg at work go through a list of spondaic words but not so often. They will say the names of states or U.S. Presidents. I do better on the states, since I've looked at maps more than read about the doings of Millard Fillmore (who did NOT bring the first bathtub into the White House. That was a spoof of Mr. Mencken in 1917, which continues to this day to circulate as fact.). Sarah will also do composers, conductors, violinist, painters, novelists, philosophers. The point is to keep the list down to a small number. Ultimately (hopefully), I'll be able to pick out words from a very huge number, but the point is brain training.


For the most part, I am keeping the processor on at all times when I'm awake, as you insisted. Sometimes I forget to turn it back on after waking up, and every now and them, I'm just too irritated.


My biggest problem is with tinnitus, which, I suspect because I listen to music so much, are melodies. These tunes interfere horribly to my listening to music, much more than to speech. But they seem to start coming on at ever lower levels of background noise. Now when I first started watching All My Children, whenever music was played in the background and because high frequencies came in, I heard so loud a roar that I couldn't make out what the actors were saying. My brain eventually lowered the volume, but not racket is replaced with these tunes.


[Andrea says my case of hallucinating melodies is not all that rare. She suggested meditation. As it happens, Dr. Leo Hennigan is a retired psychiatrist in our building. He invited Sarah and me for a coaching session on meditation. The idea is primarily to give one's mind a rest. The technique is to focus on a neutral topic and to not do any thinking, to not let an idea that pops into one's mind to lead to other ideas but rather to let the idea float away like a passing cloud and definitely not to try to actively suppress it. Do so twice a day for twenty minutes. And so I have ever since. This is hard to do! I'm very much still working on doing it well. I just think too much!


[Now I gather that meditation is good to relax one's mind about any anxieties or angers that one has. But one should not fall asleep, as I due thrice or more times a day because of narcolepsy. Meditation is quite an active procedure. Now, I've long been in the habit of freely developing ideas. I'm not an esp. anxious person, though I can have anger "issues." It's not hard for me to shift from something that is upsetting me to thinking about ideas of all sorts, as you can tell from the many topics I have dwelt upon. But that's not meditation, nor is letting my mind drift with music.


[My hypothesis is that, in time, I'll be able to train my brain to block out the tunes I so irritatingly hallucinate, and that that's what Andrea has in mind. I'll persist. I grouched at some project Sam Brown once gave me as being long and boring. Sam said I need only have one virtue, persistence. That thought has stayed with me ever since.]


Fourth, will the harm be serious if I keep the processor off for a week, unless I'm actively listening to speech? I stopped listening to music, in either ear, for a week, hoping that the hallucinations would die down. They have, somewhat, but I now listen to music rarely. It's that the tunes coming on when listening to speech or just being in any but a quiet environment. Sometimes I can't even type on my computer without the tunes coming on.


[No, no, no, sez Andrea. I'm likely to destroy part of my progress. I confess turning off the processor sometimes when I am just plain too irritated, mostly when riding on the subway. One good thing to know is that my cyber ear cannot be damaged by too high a volume.]


Fifth, are there mental exercises I can do to reduce the tunes? I can change the tunes consciously, until I get distracted and the tune reverts to one of several defaults. These tunes are usually cheerful, but sometimes slow and deep, like much of the music I listen to. Occasionally, they are gloomy. Never do they threaten doom. I've detailed the changes in my diary.


Oddly, I seem to get satisfaction from music I admire deeply, like the Brahms German Requiem, even if I can't actually follow a single note. I can prattle about my brain doing unconscious work, which of course is what is happening but which explains nothing. A test would be to slip in play something else by mistake and think I was hearing the Brahms.


Sixth, should Dr. Limb and the scientific community at JHU and NIH get interested in what might be a rare case, namely a implanted person who has listened to a huge amount of music? Indeed, my hallucinations in the form of several measures of music may be rare or unique.


[She says she has been talking with Dr. Limb about my case. It's too early to offer myself as an object for study, esp. since others have the same problem with hallucinating tunes that I have.]


Much best, Frank


Friday (June 8): I started again listening to Robert Silverman's recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas. I got a good first movement of the first sonata. Then the tunes came on.


I feared that my new settings aren't working as well as the old ones, as I have more difficulty in following All My Children and the Jim Lehrer News Hour. No, I can't remember a week later as I type this what exciting things developed on these programs. I ought to write my thoughts down right afterwards, as if anyone cares themselves what goes on on these programs.


Sunday (June 10): More Beethoven Silverman. Same sad result. Sarah and I worked on my words, plus some new ones we got from Andrea. One of her words is french-fries. I just don't get it right and neither with Sarah. This is quite a stumbling block for me.


Monday (June 11): Greg came up and I don't think I was hearing as well, but he didn't think so.


Tuesday (June 12): Sarah and Greg and I have taken to name U.S. states and presidents, as I've reported before. Greg tried composers. I did very well on these, but his knowledge of music isn't as great as Sarah's or mine, so there were far fewer composers that came to his head.


Wednesday (June 13): Same sad results with Silverman Beethoven. Sarah has also been giving me names of foreign countries, but there are too many obscure ones, so I don't do nearly as well as with U.S. states. Mercifully, she has not sounded out names of all those Chaos-stans! Greg worked with just European countries. I did rather well, I thought. He slipped in Transylvania, which is not a country, but I got it, too! I said he hadn't mentioned Scotland. Not a country since 1607 he said. But it is still a nation, I said. Sarah hasn't hit on Basque or Catalonia. Greg said Czech Republic and Sarah Czechoslovakia. I got them both. Oddly, I can miss France and Spain! One thing with Greg is that I often don't hear the number of syllables and so make mistakes. Not so much with Sarah. I also tried the first Brandenburg Concerto at home. The tunes took over at once. A mess.


Thursday (June 14): Sharon came to see me at the National Gallery as I already reported. We mostly sat on a couch but eventually went to look at a matter that has puzzled me, namely that painted rarely use blue paint to depict blue irises. Maybe they would simply appear too brilliant. Presumably, most blond(e)s have blue eyes, but their irises are usually painted brown, if you can see them at all. Much of this art is Christian. The Virgin Mary is often looking downward, reflecting on the infant Jesus' later suffering. Sharon says that Mary was warned of her child's later suffering but not about the crucifixion directly. (One explanation is that the crucifixion business was a development invented later on.) I have printed out the plastic guides that visitors can use as they visit each gallery. (They are often a mess. Paintings move around and into storage. Not all galleries have these guides, and some are only online.) I mark my copies of the guides up and showed Sharon several paintings. There were just one or two blue-painted irises in Italian paintings (up to 1700, as far as I've gotten) but more in early German paintings. They don't look jarring. On other visits, I've noted that those great optimists, Americans, do paint irises bright blue, but they tend to paint everything brightly.


Friday (June 15): All My Children. Adam was trying to sock Zach for a temporary loan for $100 million for a quickly expiring deal. He didn't explain, in this episode, what the money was for. Erica, divorced from Jack, lured him onto a "reality" show, where the others were enthusiastic about their possible post-divorce relationship. I can report that I did hear better than last week, so it seems that Andrea's new settings are an improvement. Ditto for the Jim Lehrer News Hour, though I had problems adjusting the volume. For some reason, when I unplugged the body aid receiver to my left (meat) ear, the sound coming into the cyber ear was clearer. Lots of talk about how the Hamas came to control one region of Palestine and the Fatah the other. Sarah clued me in on the background, though not about how the British stole the land from the Turks. Much more interesting was the squabbling between Bush and Putin. Rattling mostly, though. I found the other parts boring and hard to concentrate on.




Saturday, 2007.6.2


Monday (May 7): I began a week or so off not listening to music, in hopes that the tunes I hallucinate that interfere with my hearing (esp. music!) will die down. I'm pleased to report that I could hear whole sentences the docents delivered at the National Gallery of Art.


Wednesday (May 9): I went running with my speech processor on. Just for fun, I induced "Freude, schöne Gotterfunken" as my interior melody with no problem. I just sang the first line out loud. Then I tried to make the tune synchronize with my steps and at half-speed. This is just for fun, mostly, but also to hear what I can get my brain to do. It's hard work, since I'm not breathing in when I am singing! I found that I jogged faster. Only partial success.


Friday (May 11): All My Children: more wrangling between Ryan's ex-wife, who interrupted his wedding by having him arrested on charges of bigamy, which it turns out never went anywhere. Again, no sign of Adam. I checked the Wikipedia site. What's nifty about my text-only browser, Lynx, is that by pressing the equals sign, I can often get the date the page was last modified. As of Sunday (May 13), the last modification was on the previous day, and Adam is still listed as a current character. Here are the crimes he committed (from the Wikipedia article on Adam Chandler:


* Had Stuart locked up in the West Wing of the Chandler Mansion    for years * Tried to drive his wife Dixie crazy, in order to get custody of    their son, Adam, Jr. * Hired a thug to shoot Palmer Cortlandt * Paid Natalie to spy on Palmer * Faked his own death to test Erica * Stole Natalie's money after forcing her to sign papers without    her being aware of the consequences * Blackmailed Erica into marrying him again * Illegally divorced Erica (had Stuart stand in for him) * Kidnaped Erica and took her to Canada * Rigged a pregnancy test to show that Jeremy was the father of    Natalie's baby * Told An-Li that she had to marry Brian Bodine in order to get    her green card, just to keep Brian away from Hayley. * Staged his own kidnaping to test Gloria's loyalty. * Locked a pregnant Gloria in an abandoned building because he    didn't believe her pregnancy was in danger. Swapped Jake's sperm    specimen with his own so that Liza would have his child. * Bribed a judge to grant custody of Max to Mateo rather than    Raquel. * Switched Colby's stem cells with those of another infant so that    his genetic link to Colby would not be revealed * Plotted to buy a controlling percentage in WRCW so that he could    ruin Tad's career. * Blackmailed Leo du Pres into having Paolo Caseli seduce Marian    (to break up Marian and Stuart's marriage) * Sabotaged the Colmar Tower and caused its destruction. * Tossed Arlene's lifeless body overboard the Fidelity after    believing that Hayley had killed her. * Forged Arlene's name on divorce papers. * Jailed for bribing a police officer; plea bargain arranged for    community service. [Mar 2001] * Lying to the police; Claimed he was driving a car that crashed    instead of J.R. [[[May 17]], 2001] * Assault; clobbered David Hayward [Jun 12th, 2001] * Adultery; Slept with Kaye Campobello while married to Liza.    [July 2001] * Bribery/Judicial Tampering; Slept with Kaye Campobello so that    David Hayward would be found not guilty. [July 2001] * Cited for contempt. [[[August 8]], 2001] * Assault; clobbered David Hayward [Mar 28th, 2002] * Ambushed Vanessa at the hospital [[[April 5]], 2002] * Hired a photographer to take pictures of Anna and David and    published that they were married. [[[April 5]], 2002] * Gaslighting Liza (Making her believe she was crazy/ill) [Jun    12th, 2002] * Blackmailed Trey Kenyon [July 2002] * Arrested for breaking and entering into a doctor's office as    Pine Valley Hospital [[[December 24]], 2003] * Arrested for the possible murder of Michael Cambias [[[February    6]], 2004] * Had a videotape altered to make it appear as though Babe had    threatened to kill J.R. and used the tape to blackmail Babe.    [October 2004] * Held a gun to Dixie and tried to force her to leave Pine Valley    forever. (2006) * Burned down Tad Martin's house. (2007) * Broke Janet Dillon out of the mental hospital to plan Jenny's    kidnaping (2007) * Kidnaped Krsytal's newborn daughter to give her up for    adoption. (Jenny)with the help of Janet (2007)


I can see why viewers get addicted to this show. I think my hearing is improving.


Jim Lehrer: Better hearing, but so what? Just the usual wrangling over the undeclared war in Iraq. No mention of an alarm Jerome Corsi raised on CNN about Bush signing an Executive Order giving himself even more powers in case of a "national emergency" of his own declaration:


But even the State of Maryland grants its governor such powers. Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt II used them. But even George Washington bypassed the necessity to get the "advice and consent of the Senate" by making "Executive Agreements" with foreign governments. Mr. Jefferson undertook the Louisiana Purchase when Napoleon was hard pressed for cash without consulting Congress. The Federalists, being pro-British, did not like Mr. Jefferson's cozying up with France. Wikipedia: A group of Federalists led by Massachusetts Senator Timothy Pickering went so far as to plan a separate northern confederacy, offering Vice President Aaron Burr the presidency of the proposed new country if he persuaded New York to join. Burr's relationship with Alexander Hamilton, who helped bring an end to the nascent northern secession movement, soured during this period. The animosity between the two men grew during the 1800 election and ended with Hamilton's death in a duel with Burr in 1804.


So there's some history for you! I'm reminded of an event within the last year that also didn't make it to the mainstream news: when the House and Senate pass different bills, the bills go to a committee of both houses. When agreement is reached, the compromise bill goes back to each house. If it is signed by each house, it goes to the president for him to sign or veto. Well, someone goofed, and what Bush signed was not exactly this compromise. (It is complicated, since there were several iterations.) Well, John Dean raised a howl, as did a couple of members of congress. Bush is acting illegally! Dean was anguished that a few tens of millions of dollars was not going to some group or other as a result of the goof. Now, Dean was allegedly a Republican and would be expected to oppose this money. But, no, he is more out for revenge than anything else. You see, Dean knows perfectly well that these slips happen and are hardly examples of gross abuse of presidential power. (I never bothered to look up to see whether this group eventually go the money.) He should not be bawling as though it were. I cannot trust Dean. It is true that there's a lot that goes on in this country that is not reported by MSM but which you can get on the Net.


Enough of this. Sadly, I report that the generally cheerful tune that has been going through my head is getting replaced by a rather mournful one. It's not the succession of notes but the timbre of each one. This is not a hallucination that makes me cheerful. Try googling the phrase for <NSPD 51> for 90,000 hits. The Peeple are alarmed, even if MSM is not. I am pretty sanguine, as overt control is not very effective. Better to have everyone afraid of lawsuits.


Sunday (May 27): I went out jogging, again singing to myself the the choral symphony's choral movement, with better success. That evening I resumed trying to hear music. I put on Robert Silverman's recording of the Copland Sonata, a difficult work I would not have paid attention to had he not championed it, as general critical appraisal of Copland's "serious" works has been negative. I did hear it without any hallucinating melodies interrupting it, but I shall have to wait until I can more properly appreciate it.


I then put on the final movement of his recording of Beethoven's 30th sonata, which is available as an MP3 download at|pe1|S8LTM0LdsaSnZlO1Z2w. When I first heard this, pre-operation, I said to myself, "Here is profundity." But I couldn't follow it, even with the score. A treasured lifting into the Empyrean did not happen.


I tried several other works, also trying to follow them with the scores. No luck either.


Monday (May 28): I went through all my eight Dr. Seuss books, though I can't say with better hearing than last time.


Wednesday (May 30): I went to the Hirshhorn museum to see an exhibit of the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. I lucked into a class, coordinated through George Washington University, that had students go to the exhibit and then write up answers to several questions. During the class a member of the Hirshhorn staff took the group around, made remarks about Tillmans's ingenuity in arranging the photographs the way he did. He got the student's to make their own comments. This was something I very much wanted to hear well, as being better than just having a lecturer lecture *at* you, but I only heard snippets. I put in my own question, which was what if Tillmans had taken ill and one of the students secretly made the arrangement, would the praise of the arrangements been just as intense. I wish I could have heard their answers. The instructor thought I had asked a very good question. I explained that context matters powerfully to judgment, something noted by Immanuel Kant. I told him about the fake Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky Symphony No. 22, something with which he was completely unfamiliar, of course, and about the subway performance of Bach's Chaconne by one of the world's greatest violinists, Joshua Bell. He had indeed read the long article in the Washington Post Magazine. Nearly all the hyper-serious Washington types passed him by on their rush to do important things. (Bach is more important!) Only one recognized the work but not the violinist, and only one did the reverse.


I was not mocking modern art, and my question was well received. Now I do have doubts about it but I am more curious about why the impulse to create art so evidently persists. Too much self-consciousness can spoil the greatness of art, and this may well be terminal. We shall have to go on to other things.


Since maybe just one person reading this will know about this fake antique, here is what I wrote about it thirteen years ago:




[These notes are about a work recorded by the great Russian conductor, Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, for the Soviet record label, Melodiya, in 1954. It was released twice on that label as D 851/2 and D 2954/5 and also issued in the United States in 1956 as one side of a Westminster LP, XWN 18191. The notes come from _Mravinsky Discography_, edited by Kenzo Amoh, Frank Forman, and Hiroshi Hashizume (Osaka: The Japanese Mravinsky Society, 1993 March 20). An updated version of the discography, but with much peripheral matter deleted, was published as Frank Forman and Kenzo Amoh, "Evgeny Mravinsky Discography," _ARSC [Association for Recorded Sound Collections] Journal_, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1994 Spring).]


     This symphony, aside from Marius Casadesus' composing the so-called "Adelaide Concerto" and attributing it to the young Mozart, is one of the most notorious fake antiques in the annals of music. It originated when a Ukrainian- Jewish composer, Mikhail Emmanuilovich Goldstein (1851 Odessa-1989 Hamburg) had written a work on Ukrainian themes and a critic claimed the composer could not understand Ukrainian music, since a different blood flowed in his veins. It was pointed out that Beethoven himself used Ukrainian material in his works; "he was not a Jew," was the response. One of Goldstein's friends suggested he make fools of the critics, as Fritz Kreisler had done, by passing off an original work as the music of an earlier Ukrainian composer. Goldstein chose Nikolai Dmitrievich Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky, an actual historical figure and landowner who had presented his serf orchestra to the Odessa Theater in 1810. Goldstein then announced in 1948 that he had "discovered" a symphony while searching in the Odessa Conservatory library, of which he was then the librarian. The ostensible work was Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky's Symphony no. 21 in g minor, subtitled "for the dedication of the Odessa Theater," and composed in 1809. The work caused general rejoicing among the Soviet cultural commissars. Here was proof positive that Mother Russia, in the face of all those Czarist-imported Italians and Frenchmen, could produce a symphonist of Haydn's stature--or nearly. Furthermore, this symphonist was no slavish imitator, but a true patriot who had ended his work with a Cossack dance. (Never mind that the composer and dance were technically Ukrainian.) It was premiered in Odessa and Kiev in 1949, published in 1951 by the [Soviet] State Music Publishers, hastily recorded by Mravinsky for Melodiya, and made the subject of at least two dissertations by Soviet musicologists.      The hoax was finally revealed when one of the musicologists, Taranov, asked to examine the manuscript. (Likewise, Casadesus was unable to produce manuscripts for his own fake antiques, which also included viola concerti by J.C. Bach, Handel, and Hummel.) Taranov was asked to give his opinion: he concluded the symphony was written neither by Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky nor Goldstein! Goldstein was branded a liar, an opportunist, and a traitor to Russian culture for making the outrageous and self-seeking claim that he had written the symphony.      Goldstein himself emigrated to East Germany in 1964, leaving this madness behind him. He worked as a musicologist in East Berlin and Israel in 1967 and later taught at the Menuhin Music School in England and the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo.  He finally settled in Hamburg in 1969 and joined the faculty of the Hochschule f~Ar Musik and the editorial staff of Reimann's _Musik Lexikon_. [Compiled from Allan Ho & Dmitry Feofanov, _Biographical Dictionary of Russian/Soviet Composers_ (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1989), pp. 182-3, and David Mason Greene, _Greene's Biographical Encyclopedia of Composers_ (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1985), p. 488.]


     The English version of the trilingual text of the Melodiya 1956 reissue, D 2954-5 (the original 1952 issue was on D 851/2), reads as follows (grammar corrected):      "The fate of this composition is unusual in the full sense of the word. Premi~Jred in Odessa in 1809 on the day when the town theater was opened, the composition vanished, leaving no trace, and was found only 140 years later. It was again successfully performed at a concert in Kiev.      "It was ascertained that N.D. Ovsyaniko- Kulikovsky (1768-1846), a native of Kherson province, was the author of the symphony. But this supposition still needs confirmation. The meaning of the figure "21" which the score bears is so far also not clear. Does it mean that the composer had created more than twenty symphonic works or that this figure has some other, yet unknown meaning? This problem is being given the necessary attention and will probably be solved. But the music of the symphony tells us a lot.      "It is obvious that the author is a master, possessing a free style of music writing. Methods of development of the material tell us of great influence of the symphonic style of the Viennese classics and that the author had been thoroughly acquainted with or even studied under some of the Viennese musicians. At the same time it is quite obvious that in his symphony the composer does not simply aim at imitating the great masterpieces of Mozart and Haydn but to transplant their creative gains onto his native soil and to inspire the music of his symphony with the poetry of Ukrainian folk melody.      "Themes of the First Movement are very close to Ukrainian folksongs. It begins with a lyrical, soft introduction of a sincere character (Adagio), which is followed by a buoyant Allegro, which is full of motion.      "The Second Movement (Adagio) bears the name "Romance" and is melodiously close to works of this type, which are very common and loved in the Ukraine. As in many Ukrainian ballads, you can hear in this movement the tunes of lyrical folksongs.      "The Third Movement--Minuet (Allegro)-- also possesses the features of simplicity, nobleness, and soft humor that connect this classical form with Ukrainian folk music. In the trio of the minuet, the author makes use of a genuine Ukrainian folk song, "Oh, at the Hill, at the Ferry."      "The most vivid, as far as national coloring is concerned, is the Finale (Presto), with its brilliant Cossack national dance, which is full of gaiety. Before the listener pass dances of young lads, swift as a whirlwind, and which give place to graceful and swimming dances of girls. It is as if the composer was painting a colorful picture of the life of his people.      "The symphony as a whole gives a true picture of the peculiarities of the Ukrainian character: deep lyricism and meditation, soft humor, and boisterous manifestations of energy and merriment.      "The symphony was published in 1951 by the State Music Publishers. It has been edited for the modern symphony orchestra by A.G. Svechnikov."


     Although the hoax was revealed over thirty years ago, the work is still regarded as genuine in some references. _The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians_ (1980), for example, states in its article on Ukrainian music:      "A number of outstanding composers were active [in Ukraine] in the 19th century, including Nykolay Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky, whose Symphony No. 21 was discovered in manuscript in the Odessa archives in 1949 by the violinist Gold'stein. The symphony shows advanced compositional techniques; structurally it closely resembles Haydn, although it is based on Ukrainian folk themes. It was given premi~Jre in 1809 at the inauguration of the Odessa theater" (Vol. 19, p. 407).


     I doubt the error will ever go away entirely. In 1917 H.L. Mencken published "A Neglected Anniversary," which he had thought was an obviously false history of the use of the bathtub in America. Later he wrote:      "I had confidence that the customers at the [New York] Evening Mail would like it. Alas they liked it only too well. That is to say, they swallowed it as gospel, gravely and horribly. Worse, they began sending clippings of it to friends east, west, north, and south, and so it spread to other papers, and then to the magazines and weeklies of opinion, and then to the scientific press, and finally to the reference books. To this day it is in circulation, and, as I say, has broken into the reference books, and is there embalmed for the instruction and edification of posterity....      "My point is that, despite all this extravagant frenzy for the truth, there is something in the human mind that turns instinctively to fiction.... It is a sheer impossibility for human beings to think exclusively in terms of the truth. For one thing, the stock of indubitable truths is too scanty. For another thing, there is the aversion to them that I have mentioned. All of our thinking is in terms of assumptions, many of them plainly not true. Into our most solemn and serious reflections fictions enter--and three times out of four they quickly crowd out all the facts.      "That this is true needs no argument. Every man, thinking of his wife, has to assume that she is beautiful and amiable, else despair will seize him and he will be unable to think at all. Every American, contemplating Dr. Coolidge [then President of the United States], is physically bound to admire him: the alternative is anarchy. Every Christian, viewing the clergy, is forced into bold theorizing to save himself from Darwinism. And all of us, taking stock of ourselves, must resort to hypothesis to escape the river.      "What ails the truth is that it is mainly uncomfortable, and often dull. The human mind seeks something more amusing, and more caressing. What the actual history of the bathtub may be I don't know: digging it out would be a dreadful job, and the result, after all that labor, would probably be a string of banalities. The fiction I concocted back in 1917 was at least better than that. It lacked sense, but it was certainly not without a certain charm. There were heroes in it, and villains. It revealed a conflict, with virtue winning. So it was embraced by mankind, precisely as the story of George Washington and the cherry tree was embraced, and it will live, I daresay, until it is displaced by something worse--and hence better" (_The Chicago Sunday Tribune_, 1926/7/25).      As late as 1948, Mencken noted that, "scarcely a month goes by that I do not find the substance of it reprinted, not as foolishness but as fact, and not only in newspapers but in official documents and other works of the highest pretensions." I myself last spotted the bathtub hoax passed off as serious history in late 1991.


     The 1956 Westminster issue of the ostensible Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky symphony did not expose its authorship, but that was during the days when even mild criticism of the Soviets could result in the withdrawal of future licensing arrangements with Melodiya. So American record companies, wishing to continue using Soviet material, had to be very careful.      Likewise, when Yehudi Menuhin recorded the Adelaide Concerto, with Pierre Monteux and the Paris Symphony about 1938, the notes said only that the work was orchestrated by Marius Casadesus. Menuhin, who was about nineteen years old at the time of the recording, must have felt proud at being given the honor of making the first recording of the work. When Menuhin re- recorded the work for EMI about 1976, the liner notes were also kind to him and noted merely:      "Mozart is said to have composed his Concerto in D ("Adelaide"), K.Anh. 249a, in 1766, at the age of ten for the royal violinist Madame Ad~Blaide of France, eldest daughter of King Louis XV. The young musician wrote the piece, destined for a "petit violon," or "violon de dame," as a simple sketch on only two staves, the upper being devoted to the solo part and the tutti, while the lower accommodated the bass part. The score, traced to a private collector in France, was edited for publication by Marius Casadesus; cadenzas, brilliant but somewhat unidiomatic, were provided by Paul Hindemith. The composition is fluent and graceful; its charms are real and beguiling."


     Being nice to Menuhin by not embarrassing him is one thing, but the sheer sycophancy of many liner notes of Western releases of Soviet recordings is another matter entirely. These notes often scrupulously followed whatever was then the current Soviet propaganda line. Finding out when the Soviets first dropped Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky from their roster of composers would truly be "a dreadful job." Perhaps he is still in certain Soviet reference works. Mencken again: he wrote an expos~B of his bathtub hoax, which was printed in several newspapers, including the Boston Herald. "And then on June 13, three weeks later, in the same editorial section but promoted to page 1, this same Herald reprinted my 10 year old fake-- soberly and as a piece of news!"


1993 January 10


Thursday (May 31): I hungered for some deep music and listened to the last Razumovsky quartet, played in wide channel separated stereo by the Loewenguth Quartet. It's in my "Essential in Stereo" compilation, which is listed way down. I listened in both ears. Alas, the cello comes in on the left, my meatear. But it was the higher frequencies that come in better than they have for decades in my right cyberear, though they come in with the notes wrongly proportioned. I could follow along well enough to be moved by this mighty work of affirmation, but I wish the channels had been reversed. I would have heard the melodies much better, I think. I shall have to construct a patch cord that reverses right and left, no big technical problem, and I've done it before. In fact, the Dynakit tube preamp I built in college had a channel reverse knob right, something I don't think I've seen anywhere else.


Friday (June 1): Listening to the ninth quartet caused the opening of the Harp Quartet to go though my mind, not as a hallucination, just like it does for everyone. So I decided to go out jogging with it, in my meatear only. My tape of it began with the last two movements of the ninth, and I just let the tape run. I heard the second movement (the one J.W.N. Sullivan described in my all-time favorite book on music, Beethoven: His Spiritual Development, as "remote and frozen anguish," a reaction totally opposite of mine. This was great! By the end of the fugue, I was getting too much in the way of hallucinations, and did not even know the work had finished. The dipping down at the end of it with its triumphant finish is one of the major thrills of the work, but I didn't hear them. (There's an even longer dipping down at the end of the Choral Fantasy, a work I knew before I knew the ninth quartet and have been taken by the comparative brevity of the ninth's finish. But know, of course, I realize that the greatest of all human beings knew what he was doing.) So I hardly got anything out of the Harp Quartet that concluded by jog.


All My Children: Adam was back, stirring up trouble. This time I just followed the captions, but I didn't have the context, his return having occupied previous daily episodes, so I couldn't really understand it. I have been noticing that the hallucinations start happening at lower volumes, and so my ability to follow the other scenes was poor.


Jim Lehrer: I figured out that, by turning the volume on my amplifier way up, I don't experience the hallucinations as much. For some reason, just having an electronic source plugged into my speech processor results in a high-pitched sound. (Material than came with it warned about this but provided no help in doing anything about it.) The processor clips at a maximum volume and puts out the same loudness over a wide range of the volume control on my stereo. I can adjust the volume coming into my brain with the potentiometer on the processor, though. But the problem is that, when I also listen with my meatear, if I have turned up the volume control on the receiver, the sound coming into my meat ear can be very loud. I am annoyed that none of these pots go to zero when turned all the way down. I've rotated the channel balance as far to the left as I can, but it's often just not enough for balanced listening. And when it is turned down to a minimum on the processor, it is not zero there either. The DynaKit went to zero. So have all the (transistor) receivers I have bought over the years, *except* my current one did so. So did my old body aids. But not even the RadioSnack Amplified Listening Device does so, nor the stereo in my office. Since I rarely listen with my processor at top volume or even more than in the middle, I'll ask Andrea to adjust it downward the next time I see her, which will be this upcoming Thursday.


Saturday (June 2): I really think I'm not hearing as well as before, due largely to the hallucinations coming on at ever lower volumes. This has been true all week long, as well as today at the YMCA. It's been four months since activation, and my judgment is that, so far, I am worse off before the operation, with speech when listening while lipreading, but much more so with using the Fone and to music. Maybe there's some sort of medicine to reduce the hallucinations, but this strikes me as a rather drastic thing to do, since all brain medications are sledgehammers and not (yet) especially fine-tuned. This explains why manic-depressives go off their lithium so often. To an outsider, this is a terrible thing to do, as they go crazy again, but to the one taking them, lithium must cause some horrible, horrible effects.


Or maybe, the processor simply needs to be adjusted. Or maybe, I need to persist and do more exercises. Alas, I interact with others very little, in common with most hear-of-hearing people. I'm in, and can't be in, any inner circle at work and attend all matter of staff meetings. (I remember my first one. I had thought I was entering a higher zone of seriousness. But I only witnessed confusion and an utter failure to get to the point. Whatever talents I think I possess, Premise Checking is among them. I think I am better able to ask the right questions, even when I have a small understanding. There's a tension here, for my questions may be entirely too obvious ("where have you been all these years?"), but getting others to put the obvious into words can help those who do so. I recall studying with Larry Schwartz for my doctoral candidacy examination and frustrating him with elementary questions. He wondered why I hadn't studied enough to know the answers. As it happened, several of my questions to him were posed during the exams (written, thank goodness), and so *he* did better by having to think and answer them for me.


I realized that there was a certain risk in having the operation and so am not going to be angry if I don't eventually come to hear better, though I am pessimistic at the moment, albeit quite optimistic earlier, as you have read many times. I think my listening to music so much may have a great deal to do with why I hear these tunes, even at times when not listening to my WalkWoman in the meat ear (sometimes with both) or to people talking in the cyberear alone.


So far, I have adhered nearly always to Andrea's injunction not to use my meatear when listening to voices, the better to train my cyberear. A good many listeners do not ever use a hearing aid again in their meatear. (Only a very few get a second implant, and I don't know whether Kaiser will shell out another $50,000 for one, though I may be able to successfully argue for a waiver do my peculiar circumstances.) But many others use all the help they can get and use both a hearing aid and the processor. I am inclined to think that I can do better than before the operation already when I can lipread, though definitely not over the Fone. The problem, as always, is that Andrea must go by general rules (since what's known about specific individuals is very little, esp. in my case with these hallucinations of tunes), while I may be just foolish in breaking them.


The sage will most definitely continue, and I'll report on my four-month follow up (supposed to be three months, but various scheduling postponements have stretched it out) on Thursday.




Sunday, 2007.5.21


Sunday (May 6): It seems that the hallucinating tunes that go along with music are dying down. I was able to hear the Hammerklavier sonata (in my meat ear, now) when out jogging pretty well, though not so well by the time the music rests for a measure in the fugue (4-5 minutes before the end) and starts the climb from darkness into light. So, back in the apartment, I got out the score. Not much luck. Though I know the music well, the score is hard to follow, esp. when there's a counter tune going on! But, the counter tune was somehow banished during the last five or ten emphatic notes. Strong bass notes don't trigger of counter tunes so much. Or maybe my brain senses that this final triumph is the only thing in the universe that now matters.


On Monday and Tuesday I had no better luck, whether using the score or not during the final climb.


Wednesday (May 8): The final sonatas. I finished the first movement of the 32nd in the subway and decided to try as best as I could to hear the Arietta, since I was in a peak state of readiness to hear this reach beyond the human condition (something paralleled only by Cézanne and Nietzsche.) Thought the hallucinations continued from Sonata 30 to the end and so I wasn't really hearing the music, I was uplifted anyhow.


I've been listening to a 40-CD Brilliant Classics Dvorak cube (I got it from for $40, plus shipping). I can consciously hear the actual music hardly at all, but my default hallucination tune became slow and somber. On the way home, however, I finished up my cassette tape of Backhaus' great mono cycle of the Beethoven Sonatas (reissued, so far only in Europe: snap it up when it comes stateside!) with the beginning of his Diabelli Variations. I heard it pretty well, but the joyous default tune came back and the slow, somber Dvorak-like default tune was banished. Why for Beethoven, of all things, I do not know.


Thursday (May 10): Greg came up, for the first time in a couple of weeks. He had been floored by some kind of nasty bug. I am now getting 80% of the thirty-two spondaic words (way down this diary) correct. However, I did not do very well with the first or second syllable of the words alone. I've been getting Sarah to toss off the names of states, and I do much better with her than with Greg. My worst stretch was the four days after I qualified, in just under 19 seconds of the qualifying times of three hours, for the Boston Marathon in 1977. I ran for twenty miles on energy. The second half of the marathon (26 miles, 285 yards) is said to begin at 20 miles, not 13, since it is at this point that one's energy stores are depleted. So I was then running on faith. But, the faith gave out after 24 miles, and I was running on nothing. It was sheer agony the last two miles, and I was loudly groaning. I was slowing down, too. To run a marathon in three hours means piling up 26 6:52 miles right after one another. I think I ran the last two about 8:00/mile. But I finished, with 19 seconds to spare! It is the sole objective achievement in my life. The clock is merciless. In school or at work in a bureaucracy, you are never entirely sure you deserve what you get, since you know that anything written contains rumble-bumble of one sort or another. Sarah drove me to the second Marine Corps Reserve Marathon (later taken over by the marines as a whole) and I hitched a ride home with no problem. After I got back (fortunately for the driver), I had numerous diarrheas and terrible headaches. I was out of work for four days, my longest absence.


(I've never told this to anyone before, but there were two places along the route when you were obliged to make a sharp turn (330 degrees) going down an incline. I, and a majority of other runners, cheated by cutting across. Now these cheatings amounted in total to a savings of less than 10 seconds, so I still completed the course in under three hours. Had I gained 19 seconds by cheating, I'd never have gotten over it! I went on to run the Boston Marathon next year (1978) and took it easy, completing the course in 3:14. The infamous "Heartbreak Hill," so called because there is a rise toward the end of the race, where runners often slow down so much that they get broken hearts, did not phase me at all, since my normal running up Connecticut Avenue in the District on my way home has longer and steeper hills. Anyhow, I had the premonition that I'd never complete another Marathon. I did attempt one the following year, the Washington Birthday Marathon, which consists of three loops. I was irrationally tense--I wasn't going to come close to winning, just in the respectable top 10%--so tense that shortly after the second loop I defecated. So I just went back to my car and drove home. I signed up for the Marine Corps (no longer Reserve) Marathon in 1980. My tension continued, and I didn't show up for the race. I kept up running 40 miles a week (it was 60 the two months before I qualified for Boston, and 101 miles one week, having run on my own 26.2 miles on both Sunday and Saturday) until 1987. My hips were just getting too sore. A gradual decline since. I demarcate a runner from a jogger at eight minutes per mile. I've been a jogger since 1990, somewhere around then. Now it's just 14 miles a week between 10 and 11 minutes a mile. I do not know if I am aging normally and haven't tried very hard to look it up.)


Friday (May 13): All My Children: Adam is in the hospital for a heart attack. His lawyer comes in and tells him he need not worry about any legal difficulties. But he laments he has no one to take him home, until one of his many daughters by many marriages come into the hospital room and offers to take him home. And some character had a most romantic wedding on his huge estate, where he took his bride-to-be on a horseback ride. But the police come in an arrest him for bigamy. Stay tuned. The Jim Lehrer New Hour: why do I completely forget what happened as I write this (May 20)?


Saturday (May 12): Adelaide (my daughter came by, and I got the states much better with her than with Sarah. The default tune now moves from the melodious one to a new Dvorak-like one, slow but lyrical rather than somber. I discovered that I can hear string quartets rather well, using both ears. They don't trigger off the hallucinations.


Monday (May 14): I've decided to finish up the Dvorak cube and my cassettes of the Brahms chamber music and go silent with music for at least a week, to see (HEAR!) whether the hallucinations will die down. I can report that I did rather well listening to the Brahms string quintets and the second sextet.


Tuesday (May 15): Greg came by again, Not much to report, except that we tried names of U.S presidents. I did not do very well, but then most of them are obscure. Did you know that used book shops rarely contain any biographies between Jackson and Lincoln? Their times are called the "Pre-War Years" by historians, since there was absolutely nothing going on except waiting around for the War of Northern Aggression to start. (No, I am personally opposed to slavery, but respect a woman's right to choose. It's just that I am a particularist at heart, not a universalist.) Several times when I stop to chat with others in the hallways, I ask them to toss out names of states. Better than chance, to be sure, but not as well as with Sarah by a long shot. Sarah will also toss out names of composers, conductors, violinists, painters, poets, etc.


Friday (May 18): All My Children. The bigamist's wife showed up and said she didn't sign the final divorce papers, since she want him to come rescue her. He admits he never stopped loving her. I think the wife he thought he had married is better looking and nicer. And Erica still want to have some sort of post-divorce relationship with Jack. Adam made no appearance at all. I wondered whether on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday he died. After all, he is old and death is a plausible way of removing a man from the show who no longer looks like he can attract cuties. But it is just not reasonable to think that the death and funeral but, more so, all the quarreling and litigation that must necessarily ensue would be over with in a mere week of a soap opera. There's enough for things to drag on for at least a month. So I checked the Wikipedia article, as the fans of this show will certainly keep him up to date. Yes, he's still there.


Sarah disdains this program no end, but friends at the office defend it, not because they have high regards for it (absolutely everyone seems to know what it is all about. I would not have had it not been for my friend Roy's late wife being an addict. Roy disdained it, too, so I had to go watch it for myself), but because it is well-situated to give me a good exercise to train my ears. I admit that I find it hard to pay attention. The stuff on the Jim Lehrer News Hour was only marginally more interesting, just the usual foreign policy gasbags. Now why foreign news is more "serious" than domestic news, I do not know. Mr. Mencken thought the United States had the most amusing government on this sorry ball of wax, and that might explain it.


Saturday (May 19): Cristina, my Argentine fellow Beethoven fan, asked me to copy the Loewenguth Middle and Late Quartets I have praised so highly and put into my "Essential in Stereo" collection. I had to revamp the one containing the first and second Razumovsky, since I had left out the last movement of the eighth. So I made a bit-to-bit copy of the 7th quartet and the first three movements of the 8th and got out the disc for the 8:4 and added it. (I'm having a Devil of a time using Roxio to copy CDs on my computer. Is there any way to clean optical drives that anyone can tell me about. Blank CD-Rs cost me from 8˘ to 20˘ each. I got a fresh supply of have some 80 minute MUSIC CD-RWs--each word counts here--and so use them on my Sony stereo music burner and playback deck. If I bungle things, I don't have to start all over. Music CD-Rs and CD-RWs are slightly different, as the Sony won't recognize data-only discs.) I took advantage of the opportunity to listen to the 7th, the one one of the Budapest Quartet members, in its final configuration, said was the one they loved to play the most, even if they revered the 14th. (I now think more of the 13th, with die große Fuge, for its supremely enigmatic qualities, while the 14th is "merely" transcendent. Try the 28th sonata in this regard, and while you are at it Schubert's 15th quartet and Mozart's 39th symphony.) This is highly significant to me, since I may not properly hear in stereo again, even if the hallucinations die down and I hear notes as they should sound in scale, because the frequency response in my cyber ear is so much better than in my meat ear. And so it was when I listened to it. Now the cello in this recording is far to the left in the very great stereo separation which makes the Loewenguth quartet version much my favorite. I wondered whether I was really hearing it that way but with the violins coming in my cyber ear only because the frequencies were higher. So, I switched the output to mono. (I have a bunch of switch boxes to do this, since monaural records often sound better when the channels are joined. The back of my stereo equipment is a veritable rat trap of wires that would horrify an incompetent safety inspector who did not realize that they contain very little wattage. I'll tell you about one sometime.) The cello did sound softer, exactly what I expected.


Listening to the Brahms quartets was a disappointment, as the hallucinations came back.


Wayne, Kevin, and his wife Mary came over for dinner, before they all and Sarah headed over to Strathmore Hall to hear Günther Herbig conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the Bruckner 7th. There was no point at all in my going and, besides, my narcolepsy precludes activities that extend long into the evening. When they were here, I disobeyed Andrea's instructions not to wear a hearing aid in my meat ear. I also used a directional microphone for my cyber ear. I heard everyone awfully well, better than I would have before the operation, except (oddly) for Sarah. She is at the ready with some illuminating story to tell that is highly relevant to our discussions, no matter what the subject. She compliments me wonderfully, as my thinking is quite abstract. But it was too rapid, too rapid.


Sunday (May 20): I went out for a final jogg with the second to last of the7 Brahms chamber music, namely the first sextet in Bb, Op. 18, in the Casals version (it was so striking that Tom Dixon, a local collector and Episcopalian priest--a vastly disproportionate number of good music lovers are men of the cloth--excitedly called me about it. I already had it an confirmed my highest regard for the playing. Look for the CD reissue that also has the revised first piano trio.) It started off well--this is my meat ear--but a hallucination, of just four notes, crept in.


I listened to my own favorite recording of the Bruckner 7th, Hermann Abendroth and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, live in 1956.2.16-17, issued on Tahra TAH 114-5 (with the 8th). I came to sort of dislike the piece for being too nice. Abendroth is the supreme Bruckner conductor (Wayne pick Eugen Jochum, who is too middle-of-the-road for me). When I first heard his Bruckner (the 4th), I thought I was intruding on something very private, very German, meant to Germans only. If Furtwängler be Germany to the world, Abendroth is Germany to the Germans. (Reger, Pfitzner, Hindemith, and more so Distler) are Germans for Germans, and they can keep him. Richard Strauss, too. I have sincerely tried to like Strauss, as conductors I admire admire Strauss. Collecting these conductors has certainly exposed me to him. It's not Mengelberg, my favorite conductor, that makes the best case for Strauss, but Abendroth, which fits in with his being Germany to the Germans. If Tahra no longer stocks the Abendroth Strauss disc and you can't get it from Berkshire, e-mail me for a dub.


I hit the scores of several pieces for the first time in a while:


Toccata, adagio, and fugue: Cyber ear only. For the toccata, I could at least follow the score and tell when the pedal comes on. For the adagio not much. For the fugue, I could tell when the thema fugata came in successively. With both ears, I could follow the score pretty well, though I didn't go through the whole piece. A huge success will be marked when I am able to start following the treble line in the score. Of course, the treble line usually contains the principle melody. Now before my operation, I would do this and would note that when an instrument went above my ability to hear, I would often note the music duplicated what a tune that had already been played and so might think I was actually hearing it, or at least resolving a poor signal into a better one. We all do this, imagine what we hear what we expect to hear. But for now the higher frequencies in my cyber ear are cockeyed. I forgot to mention that I got out a keyboard (the music kind) and struggled with a few note of two pieces I used to play (badly), the Mozart Sonata 16 (old no. 15) and the first of the Well-Tempered Clavier. The notes came out terrible in my cyber ear, though they came out as usual in my meat ear when I put on the forbidden hearing aid to check up. I was astonished at how miserable my playing has become. It's a part of aging. I did not persist and have removed it from an awkward spot in the living room back above a bookcase in the bedroom until I start listening to music again. Well, I'm listening to the Bach in both ears now as I tape this and am enjoying it enormously. I took a break to have a pipe and listened to the work again, this time with my cyber ear only. Not as enjoyable! Now I have no real scientific standards to compare my experience of March 24, the last time I reported listening to these pieces. So it's hard to say just how much better I have progressed over the last couple of months.


Unaccompanied Bach: Still with my pipe, I listened to the first movement of the second Partita with my cyber ear alone and then moved on to the great Chaconne (Szigeti again, of course). No hallucinations this time! I now think I could get great pleasure from the Chaconne, which I know very well, even with the notes badly distorted! I wonder about the experiences of those who are pre-lingually deaf getting a cochlear implant have in coming to love music. Do they ever progress to Bach. Do they hear the notes as normal, in some sense. I can sharply distinguish the notes I am used to hearing in my meat ear from those that come in to my cyber ear. But--music is much more complex than speech, and so someone with an implant may not be able to learn its complexities. Mike Chorost had a terrific article in _Wired_ about he gradually came to re-hear Bolero, with his difficulties in picking out the clarinets, for example, when they came into the score, difficulties that decreased over time. He described his situation as having just sixteen wires in the electrode that runs from his speech processor, while there are 88 keys on the piano. He describes using some software that somehow multiplexes (I don't recall that he used that word) music down to 16 channels. Other implant wearers don't seem to have this problem. I hereby make myself available as a guinea pig!


To the scores now. I could follow the allemande that opens the second Partita and finished with the score up to the repeat. Surprisingly, I finished with the score (waiting, to be sure to hear some passage I could see in the score) in the Preludio that opens the third Partita. But Szigeti, true artist that he is, plays it slowly and probingly, not showing off his virtuosity like most violinists by rushing through the movement. I fared less well with the Chaconne and quickly gave up.


Now to the first two Preludes and Fugues in the WTC (Gould, of course). Following the score would seem to be a snap, except that I miscounted and wound up two measures too fast. My disappointment is that I didn't hear the modulations of the bottom notes of each half measure as being distinct. This will come, I hope. I did less well with the first fugue and second prelude. The second fugue I know the best: it was the exemplar of a fugue Mr. Kitson played for us in the ninth grade (that, and the little fugue in g for organ, which he played for us on a record, though I payed no attention to the performer). I didn't follow the score very well but I certainly enjoyed the snap of the thema fugatum, many of whose instances rang in well. I have loved Gould's recording that this would be a delight to hear, in my cyber ear alone, as I walk from the subway to home. (Alas, I misplaced my cassette.)


Next the allegretto from Beethoven's Seventh. I may have been getting worse, as far as music goes, which would make it a most unwanted side effect of my greatly improving ability to hear speech, but I couldn't detect when the counter melodies came on, even when listening with both ears. I made a little, little bit of the modulations and thought, if I tried WTC I Prelude again, I'd do better. I tried both with my eyes shut, forgetting about the score. Not much luck. But I rely on my memory alone of what it was like two months ago.


Then I tried Robert Silverman's recording of Mozart's Sonata 16 (old no. 15). I followed the score well in the first and third movements, better than before. The second movement was still a stumbling block. It may simply be too early to try a new performance, but I know it is a most worthy one from listening to it between operation and activation, out of the left ear alone. But how worthy it is, I just can't tell, not yet.


Finally, I listened again to Debussy's The Wind in the Snow, the piece whose modulations I discovered when listening to Reine Gianoli's recording of it when walking home. This is the Cortot again (since I'd have to wind a cassette or drag out the LP--but Gianoli was a Cortot pupil. It didn't take.


To make and end of listening while I stop for at least a week, I played the last of the Brahms chamber music I hadn't played. (I listen to my cassettes twice a year.) This was the clarinet quintet, Leopold Wlach, Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet. The original Westminster WL issue can go for $200 and would be worth it, except that the XWN and W reissues sell for more like $50 and $20. The first electric, Claude Draper and the Lener Quartet, has better string playing, being the only recording I know that capture the restlessness just below the surface. (Frederick Thurston, Spencer Dyke SQ, on National Gramophonic Society SS, TT, UU, VV, WW-side 1, was a disappointment. I have a cassette of it, but without the last side, furnished by a collector who was so excited by my "Acoustic Chamber Music Sets Discography" that he drove 90 miles to a library that took the Journal for Recorded Sound Collections so he could copy it. My greatest collecting is to get dubs of all the 166 records of NGS, a forerunner of the Musical Heritage Society and founded by Compton McKensie, who also started The Gramophone, to make recordings available that the larger ones wouldn't handle. Their recordings, though only some of them are real worthies, document the earliest performances. That, and hearing more acoustic chamber music.


Wlach captures the element of anguish in Brahms and is my favorite clarinetist. He died iirc in 1956 and recorded mostly for Westminster. I call the Brahms clarinet quintet the swan song for Western civilization, though Brahms did compose a few lesser pieces later. I mark the death of the West on 1897 April 4, when he died. It's my idea that Western civilization, based on continuous change and determinism, has been replaced by Darwinian civilization, based on random processes and change. Calculus has been replaced with topology as our underlying mathematic, just as geometry was for the Greeks. Three separate civilization for the Occident: Classical, Western, and Darwinian, which began on 1859.11.25 with the publication (sold out the first day) of The Origin of Species. With the new civilization will come a new morality and a new Christianity. This has happened before, as documented in James C. Russell, _The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation_ (Oxford UP, 1994).


Or Christianity may give way to a new religion or maybe even secularism, with something going under the name of Darwinian morality.


Wlach's performance is devastating but also and, I think, because of it, exalting. (This exaltation is something that Jerry Dubins, the major _Fanfare_ reviewer of Brahms, for his insights into Brahms generally does not appreciate. I listened with both ears and decided not to work with the score, but just close my eyes and listen. This finale, though it be just for a week or so, is for me.


And for you, you are getting, it seems, a diary of my life as well as the specifics of my adapting to a cochlear implant. I'm an unusual person--though the world badly needs more people like me, of course--and so this diary is also unusual.


Thanks for coming along for the ride, though I certainly understand that a good deal of what I have been writing will not be of interest to everyone.




Saturday, 2007 May 5.


I have not added to my diary for a couple of weeks. This may mean frustration that the rate of improvement is slowing down. Writing from memory, I have missed some details, but don't worry about it. I've decided to resume my listening of the Brahms chamber music after I finish the Backhaus recordings of the Beethoven. After that I may take a break from music altogether in hopes that the hallucinations will die down. I am still waiting for three possible sources of funding the "Sound and Beyond" software that seems quite promising, that is, from the U.S. Department of Education (for "reasonable accommodation" not rehabilitation), from the Maryland State Department of Education (rehabilitation this time), and Kaiser Permanente, which shelled out $50,000 for the operation. No, I am no better unable to untangle medical invoices than anyone else. Economists disagree who the "residual claimant" of health regulation (read: who gets the ultimate rake-off) is. Some say physicians, but it costs so much to go to medical school and takes such great talent in the first place, that it is not clear whether physicians earn more than comparably able folks elsewhere would earn, once the costs of school and foregone earnings are factored out. In general, economists expect rackets to die down with only dead-weight losses to everyone, The real gainers are the first generation of physicians who got themselves regulated. See Paul Starr's The Transformation of American Medicine for a fine history. Others (I'm relying on Charles Phelps's much used textbook, Health Economics, which most of you can understand) say it's the hospitals, hospital administrators, even nurses. There are even economists who say it's the patients! (They are not being naive but mount good but not conclusive arguments.) Maybe it's the medical malpractice lawyers.


I added a conjectural note on the recording in my "Essential in Stereo" collection about the Soviet recording of Tchaikovsky's Marche Slav that replaced the Russian national anthem. Go down to it if you are interested in how discographers make conjectures.


Thursday (April 19): I went through the Dr. Seuss books for the first time since April 3. I am pleased to report that I heard them very, very well. Even when I got distracted and lost my place, I had little difficulty finding my place again. I would even cover over the text and guess what was being said. By no means were my guesses always correct but I did get them right a surprising number of times. I'm ready to move up a notch and try to guess a lot more, which will be quite a useful training exercise. I learn from my mistakes, which frustrate Sarah when she goes over the spondaic words, sometimes both syllables but now more and more often just on of the syllables. Greg has been doing this, too, but I succeed rather more often with Sarah on the one syllable words.


Friday (April 20): I went out jogging determined to hear the music (I'm listening to the Brahms chamber music now) over the hallucinations. It's music that I know extremely well, for I play it all twice a year on my jogs. I can't say I heard all that much, but much to my surprise when I got back and listened to music (crawling through the Brilliant Classics 182-CD "complete" Mozart Edition) the irritating tune was much softer. It had been so loud that I couldn't ever hear that I was listening to vocal music! (Most of what Mozart wrote is rather minor stuff, as it wasn't until almost his last year that he really composed for himself alone.) This morning I could, and that's a very good thing. I need to do these acts of concentration a lot.


All My Children: The voices came in pretty clearly. I listened with both ears a little and discovered that Zoe had a male voice. He dresses likes a she and wants to become one, but hasn't gone through the operation. The Wikipedia article says Zoe will be departing on the 26th, so I'll miss it, since it's on a Thursday, and won't know if he has made a successful transition. The man who married the woman after she made up such a charming story to her child is going to get de-sterilized so they can have lots of kids. I was able to follow the other dramas.


The Jim Lehrer News Hour: On both shows the high consonants are coming on much stronger, as though my brain is emphasizing them. I went back and forth between my left meat-ear and my right cyber-ear and think I heard about equally well. I reported earlier that I thought I was hearing better out of my cyber ear but that when I conducted an actual test, this wasn't so. What I have learned to do is to concentrate better. Remember, though, that I think that in some ways my right meat ear is better, not on pure tone tests, but in discriminating words, provided the volume is up high enough. (Andrea's tests showed that I got zero words correct in both ears, but this only shows that such tests don't distinguish among the higher levels of deafness any more than IQ tests distinguish among higher levels of giftedness, which is no surprise since they were designed only to tell which French children should go on to high school. Everyone above a certain point essentially gets all the IQ test questions right, the difference lying in making mistakes. And those who have "perfect" hearing on pure tone tests. I'm pleased to report that my second-year college roommate (and best man at my wedding), Sterling Phipps found the infamous radio we ridiculed as a white-noise generator. Sterling would sometimes try to pick up radio broadcasts of sports contests in places like St. Louis. This was in Charlottesville, where we lived in a dorm at the University of Virginia. Looking up "clear channel" in ever-faithful Wikipedia, this must have been KMOX at 1120 KHz. These channels get exclusive right to broadcast on a given frequency, sometimes sharing with one other station. KMOX is all alone and uses 50,000 watts of power, something like ten times as much as stations sharing the same frequency that might interfere with one another. Well, the sound from even such powerful as station as KMOX was extremely faint. Sterling alone could discern how the game was going, so the rest of us who could not said it was a white-noise generator. I doubt that the radio itself is esp. good. I don't know how well he could discern conversations in a multitude, but one of our suitemates, Richard, could pick out conversations several seats down in a railroad car, but he couldn't hear the White Noise Generator either.


Back then I had a digital clock, meaning one with three four wheels, for seconds, minutes, ten minutes, and hours. When the seconds wheel reached 60, the minute wheel would move a notch. When it moved from 9 to 0, the ten-minute wheel would move, and so on. It sounded pretty quiet to me, even when I had my hearing aid right up to it, but Sterling would shut it off the night before a test. He would notice that another ten minutes passed, then another, ..., then an hour, and despaired of ever getting to sleep. Finally, we moved it to the bookcase in the living room of our suite (five bedrooms, living room, and bathroom). Richard McClintock, already an excellent calligrapher, made a sign for it, horus silentissimus mundi, my memory of his Latin translation of World's Most Quiet Clock. I do not know what happened to it. By current count, I have nine ways of getting an atomic signal, including a wrist watch that updates itself overnight. During my first year at U.Va. I went to a movie with my roommate at the time, Alan Lacy, called "David and Lisa," about two psychiatric patients. David had an obsession with time and dreamed of a receiver connection to a central timekeeping device. He said that it would be too big for a wristwatch. My memory is that he specifically wanted a wristwatch but that's not what the book, "Lisa and David [sic]," upon which the movie was based said. (I didn't rewatch the movie.) David should have known that ham radio receivers could already get these signals. I had one.


Sunday (April 22). I decided that I just wasn't getting the Brahms chamber music very well and would switch to the Beethoven piano sonatas. I chose the a tapes I made of the recent recording of Robert Silverman.


Tuesday (April 24). I then switched to my standby, the sonatas played by Wilhelm Backhaus. These I am much more familiar with. So it's not just the music I know so well but a specific performance, too. Also, the bass notes come in more loudly than other performances, and bass notes don't trigger off the hallucinations so much.


Friday (April 27). All My Children: Someone got shot and someone else got accused of murder. No Lehrer, for we went to a celebration of the 80th birthday and retirement of Betty Tillman, the long time secretary of Jim Buchanan. Much more than that, her gracious Southern ways and organizational skills was responsible for keeping the Virginia School together. There were a hundred or so there to honor Betty. I suggested to the MC that he ask for a show of hands of those who knew her back at the University of Virginia. I says volumes how much we love and appreciate Betty that, though she left U.Va. in 1968, there were at least ten (like Sarah and me) who came. We knew Betty before we got married, and she blessed our prospects. This was the longest gathering I have been to since activation. I did quite a bit better and was even able to hear snippets from the many speakers when I was positioned close enough up, I don't think quite as well as I did before but I'm improving. Apart from old friends, we made the acquaintance of some new folks, Alan Merten, the new President of George Mason, and Colleen Berndt, who was about to defend an economics dissertation on spiritual capital. (She passed.) This is fantastic idea, to write about spiritual capital along with economic and social capital. I look forward to reading it and expect tons of insights, all of which will of course be retrospectively obvious. Orwell said that it's takes a constant struggle to see what is in front of your nose.


President Merten is looking for ideas on what next to start up at George Mason. He doesn't want to try to compete with the nearby University of Maryland in being good in everything, just to be excellent in a few fields. This has already been achieved in Public Choice economics and in the Law School. Lots of people have asked my advice on where to go after graduatings. I say George Mason. It doesn't have the prestige yet that older schools do but you'll be able to see the world (esp. that part of it that is right in front of your nose) afresh and from many different angles. My proposal is for a Department of Darwin Studies. I have already been collecting books like Darwinian Medicine, Darwinian Politics, Darwin's Cathedral, and Darwinian Conservatism. I want to write him a letter that gets my thoughts across in a brief but well-written and partly humorous way. Galbraith said, "It was usually on about the fourth day that I put in that note of spontaneity for which I am known." True of me, too. The letter is proving to be a lot of work.


Monday (April 30): Art Museum: I heard more this time when a volunteer docent was talking, but there's too much variation to amount to a trend.


Thursday (May 3): I got this Brilliant Classics cube of 40 CDs (for $40 at of the music of Johannes Brahms. None of the instrumental recordings will come close to my favorites. What's fabulous about the set is seven CDs of songs with Michael Reichhausen, piano, made during WW II in Germany with lots of different singers. In general, I don't like lieder. This set may change my mind. IF my hearing gets to the point where I can hear as well as I did before the operation. Now I hear little over my hallucinations. Well, I put on the German Requiem and was enormously moved by it, bursting (mildly) into tears (in the quiet of my office). The bursting usually doesn't come on until the counterpoint "Herr, Du bist würdig zu nehmen Preis und Erde und Kraft," when I have reached runner's high after an hour on a ten-mile run each year around September or October when I start using most of my vacation time. I think what happened today is that my brain remembers what I'm not consciously hearing over the--I was about to say infernal--hallucinations, but which are really quite pleasant. My hallucinations often track the music I'm listening to.


So I was in some sense able to get spiritual uplift still, and this is what is so important. The loss is that it will be impossible for me to learn other music.


Friday (May 4): All My Children. The show moved on and what happened to the victim of the shooting I missed. Tad handcuffed himself to Adam, who got a heart attack or at least called in the rescue squad. Tad later released the handcuffs. I did not cheat and missed too many sentences to understand what was going on. Jack, a strikingly masculine character who is several notches above the other, neared his final divorce degree from Erica. Erica wanted to have some post-divorce relationship with him. This is the modern way. He agreed but exactly to what I don't know. I did cheat and watched the captions on this one.


Jim Lehrer: Oh, what was it? Less than a day later, I've forgotten. Oh, yes, ten Republican candidates in a debate where none gets more than sixty seconds to respond and Brooks's and Shields's analysis of same. I can hear politicians very well. Those who don't speak clearly are the subject of an adverse Darwinian selection. (See! Darwinism gets invoked everywhere, though C. Bob himself applied it only to the survival of biological organisms.) We once had an Under Secretary or Deputy Secretary (it is hugely important to know who is what, for one of these ranks above the other) named Madeline Kunin, a former governor of Vermont. She came to the United States from Austrian at the age of seven, well after she had become a mono-lingual German. At a fire drill, I congratulated her on speaking with only the slightest of traces of a foreign accent and asked her how she did it. She didn't know. Invoking a selection process doesn't explain how either. Still, it often useful to ask whether there is a selection mechanism going on.




Thursday, 2007 April 19


I posted an earlier version of my diary on the Usenet and got this answer:


Peter T. Daniels <> at Newsgroups:,


On Apr 11, 9:59 pm, Premise Checker <> wrote: > Frank Forman, Cochlear Cyborg, through 2007.4.11 >  > ANNOUNCEMENT: Come see a real cyborg at Georgetown University library on > Saturday the 14th. More below. >  > This is a running diary


Unfortunately, it isn't. I would actually have been interested in the story of his implant, but I was not about to wade through a 40-year tour of his sex life to get to it.


Would someone care to post just the relevant excerpts?


[My reply to Peter: Alas, I wish you had read on. Not only did I say nothing about my sex life (I did talk about my love for Sarah, but that's not the same thing), I went into great detail about my (and I hope Peter's) first love, classical music, and about my efforts to regain and indeed improve upon my ability to hear music. I hope you and the others will persist in reading these parts. I can hardly say that my sex life is of no interest to me and might be of some interest to others, but the Usenet music groups are no place for it. Of course, I go into a lot of things besides classical music, and indeed about hearing itself. Just read what you find of interest. I don't begrudge you for getting the wrong impression. Sex is vastly overrepresented on the Usenet, but in this case you made that rare mistake of judging too quickly. Now others complain that I wrote too *much* about music! Alas, I don't have the software to produce separate editions to fit individual interests. Persist, please, Peter, and then let us know what you found enlightening.]


 I got this letter from my cyber-friend Carolyn. Since we've talked on the Fone, I guess she's my cyber-aural friend. But since I have a cyber ear, you might think a cyber friend is a chip inside my brain, too. Of course, I meant someone I know only through the Internet. There were postal friends before that. What I mean is that she and I have never met in meat space. Here's the letter, which she said I can share. It's about my hallucinations.


Oh, no! You've got MY disease now!


The most important thing is avoidance, particularly certain kinds of music at certain times of day. When I am tired, I can't listen to anything simple or it will play in my head all night. It's best to listen to some Bach fugue or Partita or sonata or other meandering music, rather than something with a "catchy" tune. For me, Mozart qualifies as simple and catchy, as does just about anything after J.S. Bach.


I also avoid Other People's Music late in the evening. I have a very sweet friend who, as the evening gets later and she gets tireder, she spontaneously sings some tune. The more tired she gets, the more she sings it. And the more tired I am, the more I absorb it. I remind her that I have trouble with this, and she does try to control herself, but after all her problem is the complement of mine! This can be inconvenient when she comes to parties at my house; by the end of the night I am ready to strangle her. I don't have a tv anymore, but I wouldn't watch it late at night if I did.


There are several solutions that I use, if avoidance fails and the music is now stuck. One is to play a piece of very complicated music, either on a piece of equipment or in my head. Another is to read. Sometimes I have to do both at once, and this is especially helpful right before falling asleep, when I am most likely to be attacked by music.


Admittedly, singing a piece in your head over top of one that is playing is difficult and takes concentration. Therefore it generally only works when I am NOT tired. After all, it's no good trying to focus enough to play a complex piece when you are trying to relax and go to sleep! So that method can only be used during more alert hours when you don't have to focus on something else.


Weirdly, the repetitive and catchy music played in my gym classes doesn't get stuck in my head. I think it is because I am concentrating so hard on the instructor's cues and on not tripping over my step that the music can't worm its way into my brain.


end of letter.


These hallucinations are now all but completely ruining my ability to listen to music. Whenever the sound is above a certain volume, on either side, I start getting repetitious music, different music depending on the side. I don't do any listening to speech in my meat ear (the better to concentrate on habilitating my cyber ear), but the hallucinations come on when I'm anywhere that's noisy and do interfere with my hearing speech, but not as badly.


Earlier (since my last update) I was in much despair but I am noticing that these musical hallucinations are becoming somewhat softer. It's good training to concentrate on trying to hear past the racket, whether I'm listening to speech or music.


Friday: All My Children. A fierce woman, Zoe, towers over Bianica. I am quite confused. It seems that Zoe is a man who wants to become a lesbian, which Bianica already is. Bianica is divided about whether to support the operation. If there's anyone on this list who follows this program, maybe you can set me straight (that pun really was inadvertent). We had better get used to these things, since shortly parents will be able to chose genes so that their children will glow in the dark. There is already a debate going on about whether deaf parents should be allowed to engineer their children to be deaf, so as to participate in deaf culture. I am not sure what "deaf culture" is and await reading a chapter about it in a book in reading about cochlear implants. I strongly suspect that deaf Americans share more in common with other Americans than deaf Japanese. One of the major differences everyone knows about is that Americans are far more individualistic. Americans also habitually look for an active, responsible agent (meaning who to praise or blame) than Japanese do. I'll have to reread the deepest book I've ever seen on this subject, Edward C. Stewart and Milton J. Bennett, _American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective_. Revised edition. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1991, 192 pp.


Since I *am* a cyborg and take the whole thing casually (no, I do a lot of work and writing about it), in that I don't think that the most advanced modification of a human being so far in any way affects my identity, I don't want to be rejected as inhuman or un-human and so look benignly on those whose hormones are messed up and want to get their sex changes or to continue cross-dressing or engage in same-sex activities. The reason for the hostility is understandable. For one, it is a waste of parental investment to raise a child who is likely to leave few genes of theirs. (The good uncle effect, namely that homosexuals leave their genes by raising nephews and nieces, is simply too weak to matter. Indeed, the grandmother hypothesis, that grandmothers get to live as long as they do to help out raise grandchildren is another theory obvious on its face but one whose effectiveness is surprisingly difficult to document as being greater than the statistical noise that accompanies all attempts at measurement. In this case, the general rule is that those with genes that confer health during reproductive years but don't in later years will leave more descendants than those with the reverse. The grandmother hypothesis considers an exception to the general rule.


Why not grandfathers, someone asked me. I couldn't say. My guess now is that getting fathers to behave is difficult enough. I mean here not that evolution is pursuing this purpose, but it is the case that men make a far smaller parental investment than women do. It might seem that evolution's job is to turn cads into dads and that's why pair-bonding and love exist. Except that evolution is opportunistic and not driven toward an end. (That's the dogma.) Rather, this needs to be rewritten into saying that by Darwin's other process, sexual selection, men who seemed to be the best at being dads, rather than cads, got picked by the women more often. (I just sent out something to my general list about how a woman having a high IQ is becoming a fitness signal, something I started spotting in 2001, when I wrote a little piece, "The Feminists Have Won." Ask, and I shall send it to you. Ask, and I shall put you on my list, which many of you are on already. Be prepared to have your Premises Checked. If you can help me Check mine, that's all I ask.)


Now here's a further complication: in human societies, socialization (indoctrination) compounds or even counteracts our biology. We are lazy: we are told to work hard, from ancient times and not just with the rise of Protestantism. The Protestant twist was, that since keeping out of Hell was a matter of arbitrary grace from god and not of your own actions, those worried looked for signs that they were chosen. They could only try to lead good lives and this included making money honestly. Those who worried a great deal worked much harder than other societies encouraged them to. In other societies, people would work up to a point and then loaf. No loafing to a worried Protestant. Luther and Calvin did not like this twist, but there it was. Max Weber, who developed the idea in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904/5) spent the rest of his life until he died looking for prots elsewhere but couldn't find any. There seems to be a similar looking for passages in the Koran to justify worldly ambition going on today. Those undergoing great personal change, such as those moving from a closed society to the open one of the free market, want to make the transition religiously secure. This is why it is engineering and medical students in the Islamic world, not illiterate rural dwellers, who make up the fundamentalists over there. We believe in the Koran literally, esp. those passages that allow for money making. This is easy to do, since the order of books in the Koran by increasing length, not by their revelation from Gabriel to Mahomet. Anyone can decree that, when the Koran says different things, the preferred one overrode the later one. Thus, one verse says not to eat pork, but another says not to eat unclean things. Pork, no longer being unclean, is now okay to eat, if you claim (without any facts standing in the way) that the verse you like came in Medina and the other one in Mecca. For Christians, there is the same contradiction, but there is no dispute that Jesus came after Moses. Christians must be altogether more creative in bringing Scripture into line with desire.


Until technology really takes off, dads will be needed. Any dilution of marriage that gets away from the job of turning cads into dads is not something I would encourage. One strike, and a big one, against homosexual marriage. Whether this is counterbalanced by an enthusiasm for technology that will make things like homosexuals, transsexuals (there's an acronym for them) tame (whence we should get used to the rather small deviations from the norm), I don't know.


This is getting removed from a diary about my hearing, except that what it means to be a cyborg is not at all removed. It's just not a report on my progress, regress, or stalling. Yes, I think I heard All My Children a little better. Ditto with the Jim Lehrer News Hour.


Saturday: I invited people from six continents. No one in my address book is from Antarctica. Sarah assured that no one is *from* Antarctica. I said human nature will have its way even though there may be no obstetricians there and a policy against it. Here's the first rattle out of the Google box for <"births in antarctica">, 6_September_13


Rules on Human Births in Antarctica


I know that 3 or 4 human babies have been born in Antarctica, but I understand there is a Rule prohibiting this. I'm searching for the actual Rule. It may come from the International Antarctic Treaty, but I can't find it. It may just be specific to the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE). Can you find the rule for me please? 02:12, 13 September 2006 (UTC)


If there is a rule, it's probably something along the lines of not giving them an Antarctican "citizenship", thus complicating land claims and such. I hardly think they're going to establish a rule that states you "can't have babies or sex in Antarctica", unless there's a semi-formal policy among the researchers and visitors not to bring along pregnant passengers. freshofftheufoG???  05:53, 13 September 2006 (UTC)


Thanks, but it's not a question about having sex in Antarctica - of course that's a favourite pastime on most scientific bases! Its a question about a woman giving birth there. I gather most western countries anyway, will send a woman home if she gets pregnant while working on a scientific base. (In fact they now send the bloke home too, so that it's not just her career that's interrupted). It's not to do with citizenship, but to do with the dangers involved. I'm still looking for the rule that says this. I think it's Australian.


     I don't see how any such rule could be policed. We hear all the time about women giving birth who weren't even aware they were pregnant. It might not suit the administrative convenience of certain organisations to have births occurring down there where there may be little in the way of medical resources to deal with such an event, so I could see why they might have a policy of strongly discouraging heavily pregnant women from being there, in the interests of the women and their babies. But to discriminate in the way you seem to be suggesting would probably be illegal under Australian law, certainly in Australian Antarctic Territory. JackofOz 09:24, 13 September 2006 (UTC)


So there! I was right and she were wrong, a rare event!


One person from the other six continents showed up, Elizabeth, whom we had not seen since the 1970s. Her life is a hugely unfulfilled one. She is quite gifted. She was listening to her uncle and his friend (who reported this to me) who were talking about engineering Venus flytraps to eat their enemies. She went to fetch an encyclopedia and brought back the "C" volume. I forget who smiled at her patronizingly, where upon she said she was looking for "carnivorous." She must have been about seven years old when she this happened. A life without husband, children, or even a permanent job, though she does have a college degree. Just temporary jobs, substitute teaching, and the like. She did have a permanent job with the Navy as a secretary but couldn't stand it. We didn't discuss her life much. Rather Sarah spilled out with ideas on a vast variety of subjects as she always does. (I could hear very little of the conversation and should have brought my external microphone.) Bad luck in the earlier years, but you soon get typed as a risk. In a world of bureaucracies, the boss wants someone that can do the job but no more than that. Someone with Elizabeth's work history might not work out. So hire someone else much less gifted who won't make problems. Now I'd have hired her, but I know her. Bureaucratic rules forbid such favoritism, though I can sense that she would definitely do the work. She's not flaky. And the gifted are ignored in favor of lifting up idiots to become imbeciles, imbeciles to become morons, morons to become dull normals. This is passing away and as global competition continues its rise there will be national programs to exploit the gifted in order to "remain competitive."


Monday and Tuesday. Just to report that I listened to my half-speed tape of Glenn Gould playing the Mozart Sonata 16 (old no. 15) in C, K. 545 on the way back from work. It's getting better and better gradually. The tape continued with his own composition, "So You Want to Write a Fugue?", a humorous fugue for four voices and string quartet. I did pretty well this that, too.


Wednesday. Art museum. I again wandered into a talk, this given to about ten grade school children in front of two paintings, the second by El Greco, of whom I am not esp. fond. I could hear a few syllables, better than last time. I turned up the pot beyond the 12 O'Clock position and heard my squeaky shoes. We were required to attend chapel for half an hour at 5:00 on Sunday evening in prep school, Fountain Valley School of Colorado Springs. (Yes, I am overpriviliged, as my father was a physician. Visit to read about one of the most innovative high schools in the country.) I would set my watch by the school's own clocks (no David and Lisa watch that hooks into a time signal then, though I did have a ham radio and pick up WWV to get the time every five minutes. I do not remember how far off FVS and WWV time got. Everyone else was already there, and my shoes squeaked quite loudly as I walked down the aisle. I was told to arrive earlier. I said I set my watch. This did not work. There were three hymns, a Bible reading by one of the seniors, and a sermon. There were three hymnals, but by the time I got to be a senior, I knew by heart all the ones that we ever sung. I was passed over to do a Bible reading. I became an atheist in the ninth grade when my roommate asked me whether I believed in God. Yes. Why? I couldn't answer and suspended by belief until I got the relevant evidence. Haven't found it yet. Too bad I got passed over. I'd have read Deuteronomy 28:15-end. Here it is:


15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:


16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.


17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.


18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.


19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.


20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.


21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.


22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.


23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.


24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.


25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them; and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.


26 And thy carcass shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.


27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.


28 The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:


29 and thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.


30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.


31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.


32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.


33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labors, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:


34 so that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.


35 The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.


36 The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.


37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.


38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.


39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.


40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.


41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.


42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.


43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.


44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.


45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee.


46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.


47 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;


48 therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies, which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.


49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;


50 a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young:


51 and he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.


52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.


53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:


54 so that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:


55 so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.


56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,


57 and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them 2 Kgs. 6.28, 29 ˇ 4.10 for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.


58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;


59 then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.


60 Moreover, he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.


61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.


62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.


63 And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.


64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.


65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:


66 and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:


67 in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.


68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.


The problem is that the Lord issued so many commandments that one or another of them was bound to be broken. You'd think God would repeal his agreement (the first 14 versions of Deuteronomy 28 speak of the good things that will happen if ever last commandment is obeyed) and put in a more realistic one. God never did and eventually decided to end Heaven and Earth completely, but not Hell. He provided a way to escape Hell, it is true, but it was He who set up the rules in the first place.


So my squeaky shoes, which I heard again. These are just running shoes. The ones I wore to chapel were real squeakers, ripple sole shoes.


My cord fell apart yesterday. I tried to fix it. I seems that one of the three wires is at fault, not just a soldering that came undone. I gave up and jogged this morning without being able to hear any music. So I used my processor instead and listened to the traffic. Again, hallucinations. I can control them to some extent by singing and even just imagining something I am very familiar with, like the chorus of the Beethoven Ninth, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Count Your Blessings" (which I belt out in a deep Perry Como (or is it Bing Crosby voice) to Sarah's fury but to my children's delight, delight in her fury no doubt), "White Christmas" (ditto). I would sing these when my processor got turned on. At first I sang them way off, though I hoped my internal memory would drive them. So I can change the tune, but the default tune has now become some morph of the opening of Beethoven's first piano concerto. Now I actually WANTED to hear the traffic, esp. as a vehicle moves over one of the many metal plates on the street to provide temporary cover over something that is being repaired. I also wanted to hear how different vehicles sound to my cyber-ear. But the hallucinations were loud. When I concentrated on hearing the traffic, the default morph of the Beethoven came back.


Another song I know very well from childhood is The Hearse Song. My memory is that begins, "Did you ever think when a hearse rolls by/ That some fair day you are going to die." Googling for the exact works, I came across the Official Hearse Song Page, Mama Lisa had collected lots of versions but not that exact one. Now this song is a prime example for me of the minor key. When I got it going through my head, it came out in the major key!


These amusements keep me going, though I continue to fear that my operation may not work well with speech and leave me deprived of music. A risk I quite willingly undertook. If my fears prove right, it will be one more example of myself shutting down as I get older.




Wednesday, 2007 April 12


ANNOUNCEMENT: Sarah and I will be at the Georgetown University library on Saturday. We usually sit in the southeast corner of the second floor, where the periodicals are kept. We'll probably head out for lunch about 12:30. We are celebrating our meeting for the first time on a blind date exactly forty years ago! It seems that Peter Graham, who knew us both, decided I need to date more girls. When he was visiting Mary Washington College (at the time, the sister college to U.Va.) asked several of them in a dormitory entrance hall who would like to date a mathematical genius. A certain Miss Sarah Banks said she was willing. Her previous experiences with fraternity boys had not been good. Peter told me about how I would have her for a BEEG weekend, that is, Friday about 6 p.m. till Sunday about that time. A bus would carry her back and forth. I wrote her and told her about myself and that I would be carrying a copy of Mahler's Second Symphony (it was the Bruno Walter recording) so she could identify me when she alighted from the bus in front of the Rotunda. She did so, carrying a book about Pop Art and enthusiastically talking about it as we walked across the Lawn and hospital and down Brandon Avenue to my apartment. She spotted a bumper sticker on my car, which read simply "Bumper Sticker" and told me she had nothing to teach me about Pop Art. I did not think about violating any University rules against women in a man's apartment. Neither did she have any fears. Mary Wash did have rules, though. She had to spend the night in a room rented for $4 or $5 for such purposes, into which men may not enter. We talked and talked and talked. I simply informed her that I would be seeing her the following weekend. We did, and on that date I had decided I could easily spend the rest of my life with that creature. Somehow, she and some other Mary Wash girls figured that staying in the house Peter Graham and maybe three others were renting would be supervision enough, so I no longer had to shell out to an old lady to watch after Sarah's morals. (Whether Mary Wash checked up on all this, I am not sure.) We kept on dating every week, till I drove her out to Colorado to meet my parents. We were separated only when I went out there alone for Christmas. We married on February 2 the next year, about nine months after the first date.


On the first date, amidst the conversation and visiting several of my own friends, we went to an Escher exhibit and to the magnificent library. To celebrate our going to a library on our first date, we are doing so again on Saturday.


Now, I don't want to give you the impression that it was love at the first sight. It was love *before* the first sight. Here's the letter I got back from her, two days before we met. I was enchanted.


Dear Frank,


   Tho' an exhaustive description is requested, physical I presume, let me say only that I probably won't come as a shock, being in appearance just another Mary Washington lady, prudish of background and foul of mind. Please do find enclosed, however, a piece of said mind: cluttered, eclectic, and probably repressed, the obvious result of spending part of my childhood in English fog, listening to the BBC.    Despite my gothic tendencies, I'm really harmless. The impression I give has been compared to a white rabbit in a daisy field, an owl in a dusty attic, and a mouse in a haunted haystack. This is not to imply that I am either cute or sweet, & certainly not shy. By life style, I am a hopeless, scatter- footed dabbler, constantly acquiring new weaknesses. I will stick my nose into anything, particularly if I know little or nothing about it (like economics, likewise Colorado.)    Let me guess at your artistic.... tendencies? While sleuthing on my own, you were described to me as "a one-man happening. *all* the time." Sounds like a man with a taste for the *High Camp*. And if you believe, with me & Marshall MacLuhan, that Today, *Art* is anything is anything you can get away with, the Bless Pete! we may yet do well by each other. My ideal weekend is full of noise, elbow warfare, & good conversation.    Hope you weren't expecting a letter that comes to the point. Actually, I wouldn't dream of giving you fair warning. One helpful hint: *Never* take me seriously.






I now correct her for the first time on her letter. It was Andy Warhol, not Marshall MacLuhan, who said art is anything you can get away with.


What does this have to do with my hearing. Well, you can meet a cyborg, if you haven't already and happen to be in the area. Also, I can find out how noisy this library, which we've gone to many times, is, and maybe such eatery we may repair to.


On a somber note between the Thursday of the fortieth anniversary of my falling in love and the Saturday of my meeting my love, falls the ninth month since the older daughter of an awfully happy married died. Her name was Alice. I had insisted as an absolute qualification for our marrying that we'd name our first daughter Alice. Both of us having copies of _The Annotated Alice_, Sarah agreed to this condition instantly. Our Alice, for those here who don't know about it, developed bipolar disorder. She was fiddling with medications just before she died, but she had a tragic flaw (in the Greek sense) in her personality, which led her to associate with bullying or exploitive men, the last one such a disaster that she killed herself with a shotgun she bought for him. My therapy in all this has been to write about the situation and my own feelings. Except for our at last recovering some private diaries she kept in her youth, nothing much has changed since, say, four or five months after she died, so I have nothing to add. By analyzing the breakdown problems in all the machines at Mead WestVaco, she accomplished as an engineer more in her short life of thirty years than most engineers do in a lifetime. She was more often than not a pleasure to have around, mixed with bouts of brain problems, which we did not understand. I especially loved the way she interacted with her two-years younger sister, Adelaide. It was fun watching gene recombination in action. Little things: Alice and I would pick the same brand of toothpaste, Adelaide and I the same soap. Alice was not very talkative with me and didn't like to get into disputations like Adelaide and Sarah do. Alice didn't seem to understand the spirit in which we engaged our arguing. So ours was a quiet friendship. She'd come home and lie on the couch watching teevee, while I sat in a chair facing away from it. We'd exchange remarks about the absurdity of the human condition. She'd go back to the show, I to my book. Then we'd make another remark. Back to whatever we were doing. And so on. A quiet friendship. How it would have deepened, I'll never know. And what she might have achieved, I'll never find out either. This is the hole in my life that can't be repaired. The same is true of my father, who died at the age of 51 of a blood clot that worked its way from his leg to his heart and which could be readily cured today. I was 24. The shock and grief are gone. The regrets that Alice might still be alive had I done something differently in raising her are gone. The emptiness remains.


I'll be glad to share my chronicle on this with anyone who asks. It's the newer chronicle, my cochlear implant, that will be full of new developments. Stay tuned and come visit us in Georgetown on Saturday if you can.


[This paragraph is to a list I have been running ever since I took over on my own initiative the Willem Mengelberg Society from its founder, Ronald Klett, who died in 2000, and turned it from a periodic newsletter to an online e-mail list, to which anyone may join for free.] Mengelberg connection? I am not sure how this whole business of my cochlear implant is directly related to the great Dutch conductor. I don't think I've listened to any of his recordings since my operation, but I shall do so tonight. I pick the first movement of the Victor Eroica, not as wild as the Telefunken and various live ones, but worth relistening to, which I've not done for a long, long time. How well I'll hear it is another matter.


Sunday: Sarah thought I am now doing so well with the 32 spondaic words that I ought to get another list of them. So I moved far away to make it more difficult for me to hear them. Even at about fifteen feet, my processor kept amplifying the sounds to the same loudness that I hear right next to her. I move a couple of more feet away, and this time the sound was rather faint and I didn't do all that much better than chance.


For the first time, I tried listening in stereo, with the left channel coming through my left *ear* and the right from my cyborg ear. I chose Wellington's Victory. This work, which is looked down upon by most critics I find to be a delightful one that accomplishes what it was supposed to. One army comes in from the left, the other from the right. They exchange fire, until the French are finally defeated and their rifle fire dies down. (The symphony of victory, which comprises the second movement is a well-constructed work.) At first, I could hear little difference when I joined the channels together by a switch. But later, when the music switched to the left army, I could hear a difference in my left ear, namely that the sound level was reduced, as only half of it was coming in. I really couldn't follow the music very well, though. Then I put on the seventh quartet and got out my score, again listening to both sides. (One of the Budapest Quartet members said that, though the fourteenth quartet was the greatest, it was the seventh they loved the most. Only a little bit of luck. It was getting so many hallucinations that I had to struggle mightily to listen to the music behind the noise. This, I think, was a useful exercise. Then I finally did what I had talked about earlier, listening to my half-speed recording of Glenn Gould playing the little Mozart Sonata 16 (old no. 15) in C, K. 545, along with the score. A fair amount of luck with the first and, more so, the third movements. Again, listening to the second movement, I was contaminated with memories of the first, which I have played myself far more than the other two. I'll have to try it on the right side alone tomorrow as I walk home from the subway.


Monday: It was a good idea to start with the second movement, which I heard pretty well out of my cyber-ear only. The third movement went even better. But, oddly enough, not the first, the one I have played by far the most, even with both ears going. After I got out the score, I tried it again. I could follow it pretty well.


Tuesday: Art museum. Andrea changed my setting to the loudest of three. There was now so much noise that I started hallucinating the first concerto again. But there were a lot more people in the museum this time. Couldn't make anything out, though. As I was leaving, several visitor were listening to a volunteer docent, Laura G. Wyman, most enthusiastically describe an El Greco painting. I went in close to hear her, but there was an echo in the gallery I never heard before! I really wish I heard here, and unlike the teevee shows I've been training with, I was very eager to hear her. I rather dislike El Greco and want to learn why I shouldn't. I found that the second setting did filter out some of the background noise. She took the visitors to some other paintings, but eventually I decided to forego Andrea's injunction not to fiddle with the sensitivity control. I peeled off the Scotch tape and tried to find a combination of volume and sensitivity that would improve things. I found hardly any difference. Maybe she hasn't customized a default program yet. She told me I wasn't ready for it, but I decided to fiddle, on the grounds that it wouldn't hurt my brain and here was a chance to try it out in a situation where hearing just three words would be good.


Back on went the tape after I eventually gave up and went back to work. There not being any immediate project for me to work on, I did not hesitate to linger on at the museum to grab any listening experience I might have. Progress on my spondaic words continued. Sarah has added a few words, and I am no longer keeping the word list in front of me when Greg reads, either. My experience listening to the Mozart Sonata in C on the way home wasn't as good as it was the previous evening.


Wednesday: Sarah added a few more spondaic words. Started out poorly but got better. I listened to the Musical Offering when jogging this morning. I had thought this was not all that much "essential in stereo," but it was. I desperately kept hoping what I remembered would come in on the right, but I haven't started jogging using both sides yet, though Andrea says the processor is quite sturdy and I need not worry about its bouncing as I jog. As it happens--this is my memory here--the treble instruments are on the right, and these are now sounds I will eventually hear much better than ever before. Well, I hope so. So I mostly kept hearing the bass line over and over and over again. I should build an adapter that will reverse left and right channels, though I might not need it the next time I listen to what's become my favorite work of Bach, along with the solo violin music. I've gotten a bit too overexposed to the Gouldberg Variations.


I put the Musical Offering after the St. John Passion, which I listened to, but heard very little, on Good Friday. It's my reward, in a way. The tape finished with the Toccata and Fugue in d, S. 565. I'll be trying that on the walk home tonight.


Friday, 2007 April 6


Not much to report from Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, I watched All My Children again. My sister, Marti, asks whether Erica is still on the show. She wasn't yesterday, but she was the week before, I think. Marti says she's been married to at least seven men. Here's the Wikipedia list:


Marital Status


Jackson "Jack" Montgomery (Married) [5/24/05+]


Past Marriage(s)


Jeffery "Jeff" Martin (Divorced) [1971-1974] Phillip Brent (Divorced, deceased) [1976] Tom Cudahy (Divorced) [1981] Adam Chandler Sr. (Divorced, first time) [1984-1993] Mike Roy (Invalid) [1987] Travis Montgomery (Invalid, deceased, first time) [1988] Travis Montgomery (Invalid, deceased, second time) [1991] Adam Chandler Sr. (Divorced; second time) [1993] Dimitri Marick (Divorced, first time) [1994-1995] Dimitri Marick (Divorced, second time) [1996-1999]


She had twelve other "flings & relationships."


Susan Victoria Lucci, who plays her, has said that she considers Erica the greatest role ever written for a woman. She was born 1946.12.23, which makes her about two months younger than Marti. She has an Italian father and Swedish mother and is a Republican. She has had exactly one marriage, on 1969.9.13. She and Ray MacDonnell are the only two that have been on the show since its debut on 1970.1.5. AMC was the favorite TV show of author P.G Wodehouse, who otherwise loathed television.


Guiding Light (known as The Guiding Light prior to 1975) is an American television program credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the longest-running soap opera in production and the longest running drama in television history. The 15,000th televised episode of Guiding Light aired on September 7, 2006. Due to this series run, it is not only considered to be the longest soap opera, but the longest series of any show created.


The program was created by soap writer Irna Phillips, and began as an NBC radio serial on January 25, 1937 before moving to CBS on June 30, 1952, as a televised serial.


The second oldest Soap Opera is As the World Turns, which debuted on 1956.4.2.


Well, this is supposed to be about my hearing. For some reason, I didn't hear very much of this episode. I did fairly well with The Jim Lehrer News Hour.


What was upsetting is that after that I put on a disc of misc. piano works from the Brilliant Classics 172-CD "complete" Mozart Edition. I got so locked into the first item, Andante in Bb, K. 15ii, that it kept going through my head and I couldn't focus in on any of the other pieces. Moreover, my hallucination was of a piano, not the organ upon which the work was played! I don't know what to do about this.


Very often, when a lot of background sound is coming in, the noise results in my brain cranking out an approximation of the opening of Beethoven's first concerto, with the last part often going over and over again and only sometimes starting from the beginning. I discovered that if I sing "Freude, schöner Gotterfunken" a few times (Sarah says I still don't get it right), it is that tune that I'll hallucinate, but only for awhile. Then it's back to the default first concerto. In a way, I don't really mind these sounds, since I've had tinnitus for a long time. It's when they interfere with my hearing that is a problem. I may have to consult a neurologist.


Tuesday, 2007 April 3


Sarah found a software course, called Sound and Beyond, that seems exactly what I need. It costs $290, and I'm hoping to get someone else to pay for it, maybe the Montgomery Country Rehabilitative Services, maybe where I work (but it will have to be convincingly described as a "reasonable accommodation" for a handicap, maybe by convincing someone in the Department who evaluates these things to get it and let me do the evaluation.


The URL for Sound and Beyond is in case you might want to look it up.


Coming home I listened with both ears to some Mozart piano variations (still Gianoli). I kept the right cochlear ear down to a minimum this time. In fact, I think I'll try doing this routinely as a way of training my cyborg ear. Then I'll slowly rack of the volume in the right and then lower it in the left, to the point where I listen only with the cyborg ear. There's no real cost here, as I'm not doing anything else at the time. Well, a small cost, since I won't be listening to the outside world like Andrea says I should be doing, but this will not be for long periods. I must try out what I can.


I continue to progress in with the spondaic words. I may be getting about half of them right, but by chance it should be 1/32. And I've had little problem following Dr. Seuss.


Monday, 2007 April 2


I jogged some 6.5 miles into to Kaiser early for a cholesterol test, a test where one needs to fast for twelve hours before hand. The result came back that afternoon, and my cholesterol, surprisingly high for someone of my build, is under control. I jogged the rest of the way into work, giving me 8.2 miles total and without any soreness in my knees. This is very good. I stopped on my final trip in at the Peace Tent across the street from the White House and spoke with Thomas, who mans it for twelve hours a day. He is not your typical Leftist peace nut, though that is his background. Rather, he has a strong libertarian streak. The woman who womans the tent the other twelve hours day in and day out--they take six hour shifts--has been quite weathered by all her years and it shows in her personality. Thomas, who himself has been at it quite a while, is completely sane and articulate. Their site is and shows a picture of his new dog, his faithful companion of for nine years, passed away.


This time the concerti came in good and clear. I saved the Mendelssohn first concerto to listen to with my right cochlear-ear alone on my walk from the subway to home. It went rather well. This particular work is of some importance to me, for Mr. Kitson played it to us in his music class in the ninth grade. I already knew the work from hearing it on KCMS-FM, which played classical music from 12-3 daily (though the co-owner, Bud Edmonds, had an inexplicable fondness for Victory at Sea). He would take requests, and I made them often, building up a little library on open-reel tapes on a spare recorder Dad brought home from the office. They were on acetate tapes and thus prone to break. Several years ago I transcribed what tapes I still had to cassettes. Lots of jumps and starts at the breaks, and of meaning only to me. I sure wish I knew who played the Kreutzer sonata! I also transcribed the playing of Robin Nicholson (a year ahead of me) on the piano. Anyhow, though Mr. Kitson wrote on the evaluation of my progress to my parents that he rarely had a student who knew as much about music as I did, he would not give me an A for the course. He only awarded an A once in his entire teaching career! An A really meant something back then. I was enormously proud to have earned a full A (not an A-) in a couple of monthly marking periods, though I got them routinely in math. However, hubris overcame me on my final exam in geometry. I finished it in 3/4 an hour, while the exam was supposed to take three hours. There were a large number of trick questions, so for once I got a B+ in a math course. A lesson learned. Later, I learned that the final exam in a graduate topology course (not mine) consisted of 75 yes-or-no answers, and your score was right minus wrong. Quite a few students got negative scores. To do well on the test, you either had better be able either to give a proof or show a definite counter-example. There's a book by a man who became an indefatigable math educator, Lynn Arthur Steen, called "Counterexamples in Topology." I have the Dover reprint. His pedagogical books are a delight to read.


At the National Gallery this time, it was quite noisy. Keeping the volume at 12 O'Clock, as I had been instructed to, the noise coming in was so loud that auditory hallucinations (something resembling the opening of the Beethoven first concerto) plagued me. But--I've got to keep it up, so that my brain will at length tune these voices out. I got so irritated that I shut the thing off after about 45 minutes just to enjoy the paintings.


Sunday, 2007 April 1


Still having problems with the concerti. Kevin came to pick up some metal book cases, which we had replaced with some wooden ones we got from John, who got an even better set of wooden cases for his own apartment. Our books look really terrific now, and we have some eight boxes of books to dispose of. We plan on inviting our friends to come over and help themselves. Loads of really good books, but ones we are highly unlikely to read ourselves. So we need a good home for them. The remainder will either be sold or just given away. The terrific thing was that I was able to hear Kevin in my cochlear ear very well.


Saturday, 2007 March 31


I was distressed that I couldn't follow concerti I ordinarily can't hear in my left. It was just a cacophony of noise. Kelley and Betsy came by briefly to load up some family furniture but I had the greatest difficulty following them in my right cochlear-ear. Not a good day at all.


Friday, 2007 March 30


Sarah found several articles about implanted patients and their experience listening to music. This is a quite active field. While no new wires are used, there are ways of doing something like multiplexing so that it sounds as if a hundred or so wires are coming out of the electrode. An esp. good article in _Wired_ is by a man who was one of these guinea pigs and used the variety of instruments in Bolero as his touchstone. He would rejoice when he at last became able to hear an instrument combination that he didn't hear before. I've gotten burned out on the music, and Ravel himself deplored the excessive popularity that greeted the work, but this sounds like a good work to use myself. I have the first three recordings of the work, all made within a month of one another iirc: by the composer, by Willem Mengelberg, my very favorite conductor, and by Piero Coppola, an Italian who would not give up his Italian citizenship upon settling in France and was not allow to conduct the big concert orchestras. As a result, he devoted his efforts to something called Le Orchestre du Concerts du Gramophone. He made a huge number of first recordings of French music and does the best job of anyone of persuading me of the merits of French orchestral music. Otherwise, I don't think I'd care for much of it at all. French chamber music I like very much. Then orchestral now. And Reine Gianoli, French despite her last name, does not so well convincing me of the merit of French music for solo piano. French vocal music, probably never.


All My Children: The background noises continue to recede. I forgot I wasn't to look at the captions. It turns out that Adam was fighting for control of his company with his (he says) no good drunk of a son. This episode generally has a great deal of shouting and arguing. I didn't follow much of it and don't know who won the battle at the board meeting. One happy episode, though. A little girl climbed into bed with a man and a woman to hear the woman read a bedtime story. Retraining my ears or not, I *had* to watch the captions this time to catch the story. Well, I've already forgotten the story, but the man was so charmed that he proposed marriage to the woman, who accepted. I anyone here is watching, please guess how long this marriage will last. What is the shortest, average, and longest duration of a marriage on this show. Besides this happy episode, I'm glad to know there is at least one means of visible support for the characters, namely that Adam started a business.


The Jim Lehrer Report: I'm writing this on Tuesday and don't remember a thing that was discussed, only that my hearing is getting better. This says something about the world, being less memorable than a thoroughly unmemorable teevee soap opera.


Thursday, 2007 March 29


Andrea says my improvement is moving apace. She was not worried about my occasional use of both ears, but she strongly chastised me for not keeping my processor on at all times when awake. This I did not understand and will do so, except that I must remember to turn it on in the first place! I had kept my hearing aids off unless I really wanted to listen to something. What I have to do now is to learn what the nuisance sounds are so that my brain can filter them out. She also chastised me for fiddling around with the sensitivity control and put a piece of tape over it. That it was not set in the middle was just an accident, though. I have gotten curious about it, but she said my brain isn't ready for it yet.


Before I had three programs, soft, medium, and loud, settings otherwise the same. She adjusted the frequency curves and gave me three program, one as loud as I could stand reasonably, another the same but fixed so that I can listen better in noisy environments, and a third that cut out the outside side world and takes only what I have plugged into it (like my WalkWoman). This is great, because I can listen to music when walking home from the subway and not have to hear any traffic. The first two mix the world coming in through my microphone with what's plugged in 50-50^ There was a fourth program that was working all along, but this one uses the same input plug to feed an output somewhere, I guess so that others could hear what is coming out. Well, just hooked my left receiver into it. I was hoping something really weird so y'all could hear what I'm going through. No such luck. It sounds pretty similar to me to what I would be hearing with a hearing aid, though I suppose Andrea's adjustments would get heard. I can't tell and she won't let me have the software so I can fiddle, fiddle, fiddle without knowing what I'm doing. I suppose I could fiddle and go back to whatever setting she made. But I manifestly don't follow simple instructions, like leave the thing on all the time. (Plea: I didn't really get the message.)


^[In that old standby, _How to Lie with Statistics_, there's a story of a man who got caught selling horse meat when he advertised rabbit meat. "But I mix 'em 50-50," he said in excuse, "one rabbit, one horse."]


She told me that I might not get to hear music as well as I did. After all, I have only 16 wires coming out of my electrode and going into my brain, while a piano has 88 keys. I was in great despair the rest of the evening about this. I put on the Diabelli Variations (Backhaus, not Silverman, since I know the Backhaus so well) and got out the score. I got lost trying to follow it, even when listening with both ears. But this isn't a terrible surprise.


Wednesday, 2007 March 28


Hooray! Tomorrow we visit Andrea to get my processor more finely tuned. Right now I just have soft, medium, and loud all on the same curve. I can plug in an external source (WalkWoman, telephone, external directional microphone, whatever), which will also pick up the mike that is in the same button that rests just outside my skull above my ear, which also transmits the digital signals across the skull to the chip inside my skull that makes me a cyborg. There's an additional setting that shuts of this mike and gets the input only from the external source, but which doesn't work right now. The fear is that if the external source is only my WalkWoman, I won't be hearing menacing vehicles. That is already a problem, for since my cyborg ear is deaf to the world unless something is coming in from the processor and if I blast music from my WalkWoman, I'll barely be able to hear said menacing traffic. I must, and do, pay careful attention to the traffic!


Monday: I went back to the National Gallery of Art and kept the processor on, in hopes of grasping snatches of low level conversation from the other patrons. The two guards would often be chattering to one another. But when I edged toward them to find out what they were chattering about, they stopped talking! I couldn't make out anything the other visitors said, either. Greg came up, and we worked with all 32 spondaic words. I did pretty well. I had thought to listen to the beginning preludes and fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier, but I forgot to bring the tape. So I listened to whatever I did have, some Debussy (played by my favorite lady pianist, Reine Gianoli. I forget now just what the piece was. In any case, not much luck.


On Tuesday, Sarah not only used all 32 words, but took my list away from me. I did so well that she stopped after seven minutes, instead of going on for the usual ten. Greg continued with all 32 words. It was on my walk from the subway back home that I listened to about six of the WTC preludes and fugues. The first prelude came on extremely well. The public library didn't have a score. I can't find mine, but will look one up online. Not even the foul Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the "Sonny Bono Act") reaches back to 1744. I did fairly well on the first fugue, the second prelude, and much better on the second fugue (the one in c minor that Mr. Kitson played for us in the ninth grade on the piano himself, which is especially ground into my head. But I got lost during the following preludes and fugues. Still, feeling overjoyed at the progress, I pulled out the score of Mozart's Sonata 16 (Old No. 15) that I used to play myself. Right cyber-ear only, and I followed the first movement very well. But when it came to the second movement, the first movement kept going through my head and I just couldn't lock into the second movement at all, even after I went ahead and plugged in my right ear. I kept trying and trying. Again, I could follow the third movement a good bit--still using both sides. I got lost in the score, but not as badly as the first time. And I did get lost in the first movement, cyber-ear only. I used the Silverman recording again. I think he took all the repeats. I just remembered that I taped Gould's recording of this easiest of Mozart's piano sonatas at half speed. This is still faster than I could ever play it for myself! I'll have to work with this half-speed recording next time.


On Wednesday, while jogging in I listened to Gianoli playing Ravel and though Couperin's Tomb No. 3 is a simple enough piece, with bass notes below some simple but repetitious but still slow notes in the treble. Listen to it on the way home. Greg came up again. I tried to ditch my word list but gave up soon on. He thinks I did better, well a little bit, but I didn't really think so. I put on Couperin's Tomb No. 3 but it wasn't the success I had hoped for. But the first WTC prelude was a success, of sorts, again. Not enough for me to really follow the tune, just note the modulations of the melody. Continuing with the fugue, I must report that I can't much yet distinguish two or more ongoing melodies by that master of counterpoint. Keep trying I shall do.


Now, some more practice with Dr. Seuss books. What I'll need to get from Andrea is further practice tips. Progressively cut down the volume? Listen in noisy situations. Dispense with the texts? New texts? If so, how can I get them. I'll have to draw up a list of things to ask her tomorrow.


Sunday, 2007 March 25


Practice with Sarah on the spondaic words, maybe an improvement over yesterday, maybe not. I listened to all seven Dr. Seuss books I have the texts for, this time with very little losing my place. No cheating with my left ear, either. This is a good sign.


So to the music, thinking this might be a very good day. I was, but only for the Beethoven 7th. (If you ever want to investigate classical music, I recommend listening to this movement a dozen times. If you want to listen to it more, you're on you way to being hooked. Write to me and I'll guide you toward a lifelong absorption in the civilization's finest artistic achievements. I'll combine what your preferences seem to be with what everything thinking person should know.)


And some excellent progress here. The trick is that my ears still distort frequencies. With a score in hand--sometimes adding my left ear (but mostly to keep my place in the score), sometimes not--I know from the score (and from memory, of course) what I *should* be hearing. I hope this exercise will make my brain do the necessary correcting faster than it would have otherwise. This should help my understanding speech. I'll have to ask Andrea in what aspects morphemes differ in ways other than pitch. (I already have some of the answers in H.A. Gleason, Jr., _An Introduction to English Linguistics_, 1955 rev. 1961), the principle textbook for a graduate English course I took in my third-undergraduate year at U.Va. I had been familiar already with some of these terms from my father's audiologist at the Colorado Springs Medical Center back in junior high.) In music, there is the strength of overtones and undertones (the organ being esp. rich) and the attack and decay patterns (the sound of a piano coming in abruptly and decaying gradually, while the organ swells up and cuts off sharply. I recall that one can take notes from a piano, play them in reverse, put them in an echo chamber--I'm not sure about this--record them that way, play them back in reverse, and get something whose sound approximates an organ. And mutatis mutandis for the organ to sound like a piano.


An irrelevant fear? It may be that the human voice is so different from that of music that there won't be any substantial "transfer of learning" from my experimenting with music to my improved understanding of speech, or vice versa. It would be hard to prove in any case, for there are few patients at any one time within commuting distance for proper statistical experiments to be made about this transfer of learning and that my potential employment as a guinea pig would result in a sample size of one (1) and might not even be suggestive. But I'm trying this experiment as an addition to my other training, not as a substitute for it. The words I am devoting to music are all out of proportion to the time involved. But even if there is no transfer, except maybe in my imagination, it is good for me to do at least some work on my oldest love, namely music. Yet there is a possibility that my experimenting with music is actually harming my training for speech. I can't see how this could be the case, but then again, I don't have an advanced degree in audiology. Andrea may think otherwise, and I shall listen to her, even as I will no doubt remain my ornery self and want to know how she could know of this harm when, as I said, statistical studies would be hard to conduct. She may have her theoretical reasons, but unless they are quite strong, my thinking is that these reasons are more on the order of generalities. Always ask, "How big is the molehill?"


A problem I had with following the score of the Beethoven 7th is that, when the music comes to a rest, my right cyborg-ear continues to hear noises. I can't distinguish tone well enough to say whether these noises simply continued the melody of the music through the duration of the rest (another G after the end of the fourth measure or an A after the end of the eighth), were something else, or whether they were just auditory hallucinations (tinnitus) that accompany my brain pretty regularly. I spoke earlier of repetitions of the opening bars of Beethoven's first piano concerto, which are not in key. Not now, my head is pretty quiet, except for some low-pitched sounds like machinery that have been with me for quite a while. No point my moving to the country to experience silence! I'm rather imagining the opening of the first concerto, not the same as hallucinating it. But, until my operation, I did not hallucinate this. I'd much rather hallucinate the slow movement of the Beethoven 7th!


I should get out a keyboard to figure out--using my left ear and right cyborg-ear both--to figure out how notes sound.


Two complaints and a joy: When I shake my head, and to a lesser extent when I go jogging, though this is diminishing, I get a swooshing sound in my head like I did right after or soon after the operation. This has not healed. And a minor tenderness outside in my skull which was cut open for the operation continues. The joy is that, having been forced to stop jogging, the pain in my knees has disappeared! It's a function aging. In addition to wearing orthotics and breaking out a new pair of shoes every four months, I started wearing knee pads, putting athletic tape on my feet on the their back half, jogging on grass whenever I can, taking Iboprufen and Sam-E before going out, and cutting back my jogging from 17 to 14 miles a week. And to think that I ran (legally) in the Boston Marathon in 1978 and had been running 40 miles a week until 1985 or so. I could only witness a continued decline. The pain was minor, but I want to go on running as I slide into the peace of senility, if that is my fate. But, after the month's rest, I feel I could run a lot, lot more, as I don't feel any soreness at all after running. But--I'm going to keep up these practices anyhow. It seems that I've added several years to a running life.


Another note. I'm winding my way through a 182-CD Brilliant Classics set of the "complete" Mozart, using my left ear, mostly to get through it. Mozart cranked out a tremendous amount of minor works. I am not thrilled by the operas he wrote as a teen-ager. Besides, I rather doubt that very many of the performances will be anywhere as striking as those I've collected over the years. (It will be quite a while before I buy any new CDs, a nice savings indeed.) I must report that, when listening to the first two string quintets, I imagined that I was hearing vocal music. That was yesterday. Today, I listened to the third, the one in C, K. 515. No such thing. This is a work I long regarded as just one more piece of Mozart's, until I came across the vigorous performance on 78s of the Pro Arte Quartet and Alfred Hobday, second viola. That made the work for me. It's a masterpiece, but had it not been for the transcendental performance, I would never have discovered it. The new one, Orlando Quartet with Nobuko Imai, seemed to sound vigorous, but I just can't compare it with the transcendental one.


Saturday, 2007 March 24




I'm listening to some very, very familiar works to see (hear!) what I may be able to hear in my right ear (chip!). Here they are:


1. Bach: Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C, S. 564, my favorite organ work. (Helmut Walcha. Blind from an early age, he memorized the score line by line, not chord by chord as they appear on the printed page. His playing intertwines the counterpoint as no other. And he brings a gravity wholly fitting to the music. Accept nothing else!) Not a whole lot of luck. I not hearing too well out of my left ear, which make me strongly feel that hearing is a matter of the whole brain, not just the ear. But the organ is unusually rich in overtones and undertones. A little more luck on the fugue. Tried to follow with the score.


2. Bach: Well-Tempered Klavier, Preludes and Fugues Nos. 1 and 2. Glenn Gould, piano. (Who else, possibly?) The first prelude simplicity itself, just the same few notes over and over again, with variations. Beneath the simplicity is invention after invention. I can't seem to find my score. Not much luck either. What I'm going to do is play this every evening as I walk from the subway to my apartment. The hope is that my brain will start sorting out the modulations of this quiet but ingenious deceptively simple prelude. (I'll move on to the fugue and then to the second prelude and fugue as I fancy.)


3. Bach: Partita 2 in d for violin alone, S. 1004: 1, Allemande and 5, Chaconne (Bach's greatest movement) and Partita 3 e, S. 1006: 1, Preludio. Joseph Szigeti. Recorded late in his career with a supposedly marked deterioration in his intonation, but not at all in his incisive musicianship. Some day I hope to be able to hear this failing intonation. I now hear only the musicianship. Maybe there's something to be said for poor hearing, after all. I have the score, but not much luck either.


4. Beethoven: Symphony 7 in A, Op. 92: 2, Allegretto. Arturo Toscanini, New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, recorded 1936.


This is the movement that starts out:


EE E E    EE  EE EE E E    EE EE EE E F#   GG GG GG G G    GG RR GG G A    BB BB F#F# F#G# AA AA EE E E    EE EE DD F# G#  AA RR


Only one of my correspondents identified this to me. Shame! He's a reviewer for _fanfare: The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors_, which is the best of them all, I have found practically since it began thirty years ago. Again, not much luck, even with the score and sneaking in sound in my left ear.


5. Debussy: Préludes, Book: 6, Steps in the Snow. (This time is Alfred Cortot recorded 1931.) I mentioned listening to it on the right side only walking home on Thursday. So I thought I'd give it a try again. Not much. This is not a good day for music.


Two practice sessions with Sarah on the spondaic words. A general sense of improvement.


Friday, 2007 March 23


I plum forgot to watch All My Children, as I got preoccupied answering e-mail. I did watch the Jim Lehrer News Hour. What's good to report is that I caught nearly every word spoken by Ray Suarez reporting from Europe on religion and politics there, except when my attention lagged, which was not often. This came late in the program, too, by the time my brain should have been well fatigued. This is the first time where I caught nearly everything!


I got a tape of one of the girl's all-time favorites, Margaret Wise Brown, Good Night, Moon. The kiddies loved this especially when I would close with "Good night, bowel movement." They were just at the right age when they would take delight in such things. Sadly, there was too much music in the background. The text is rather short, and I don't think it would be a good use of my time to listen for many minutes of racket just to get a minute of text. Still, it might be a good idea to be able to tell when words finally get spoken. I'll give it at least another try. I'm just going by intuition here in guessing what will be good training for me. Whether there is some master theory, able to be applied to a specific individual (me), I don't know. As should be obvious, I'm wildly experimenting. But working on a sample size of one (1, namely me) is not good statistics. I do hope my report might be useful to scholars of cochlear speech therapists, but I don't know whom to contact.


I then went through my three new Dr. Seuss books again. I xeroxed the pages, so I can return the books to the library. I was sneaking in the hearing aid receiver into my left hear to get back on track in the third book, until I discovered that the xeroxed pages were out of order. I'm not sure about sneaking in the receiver. On the one hand, I don't have to start all over again and will be practicing the whole text evenly. On the other hand, maybe I will force my brain to pay more attention if I have to go through the beginning over and over again. Even with the pages now put into the correct order, I had problems following the text. It was late, I was tired, and I gave up.


Thursday, 2007 March 22


I worked with Greg and Sarah both on the second set of sixteen spondaic words (list B) and did surprisingly well, I thought. I quickly had Greg just feed me the first half of List B, namely eight words. I did much better, since I had fewer options to choose from. We worked on the second half of list B, too. We went back to list A and I did a good deal better than I did on Monday. Same with Sarah. I'd love to know more about the theory about how these particular words were selected. I will ask Andrea about what to do after I've practiced a long time with these words. Maybe employ a rock band or go to a noisy environment to practice. There may be other tools, too.


On the way home from the subway, again I listened to my WalkWoman. It was some of Debussy's Preludes Book I. (They were played by Reine Gianoli, my favorite lady pianist. I listen to her Westminster recordings at the start of every year, after I've played my sixteen "Space Capsule" tapes, the twenty-four Earth hours of music I'd take with me if that's all I could have) and the "free" organ works of Bach, whom Mr. Mencken once That's what was on my cassette. I don't know them very well, so I had both ears going. By a lovely accident, the sixth one, "Des pas sur la neige" (Steps in the Snow), was an ideal piece, since it is slow and not complex (except how Debussy modifies it over its course). I could hear very well how the sound in my cyborg ear differs from that in my natural one. I'll practice on it later. It is one of the lesser-recorded of these Preludes. The great Alfred Cortot and also Walter Gieseking recorded all twelve on 78s. Only Friedrich Gulda recorded this one independently, as that as a filler to something else. But for me, it's a splendid piece.


Wednesday, 2007 March 21


More spondaic practice and I got some more Dr. Suess books from the library. I now have texts for seven of the nine (?ten) on the good CD, as opposed to the cassette tapes that have too much music in the background.


Exchanged e-mails with Janet, an elegant lady, somewhat older than myself (I won't ask her how much older). A former English teacher, she has a splendid waist-hip ratio, even if she is not quite as slender as she was when she was thirty. Knowing her poetry, she wished me good luck and told me that this is spondaic. I wrote her back and told her I really needed HARD WORK, not good luck. She said this is spondaic, too.


More significantly, I tried listening to Mozart's Sonata No. 16 (old no. 15) in C, K. 545, along with the score, trying to keep down the volume in my left ear, just barely enough to keep my place. This was the most advanced piece I learned (badly) at the piano, so I thought I would be able to follow it easy. Not much luck, as I wasn't hearing very well in my left ear and couldn't much make out the second movement. But this is likely to be a good piece to practice on, in hopes that some cross-training to speech (remember that gossip, rumble-bumble in office meetings, and radio talk shows are far more important than the imperishable truths of Mozart) will take place. Of course I do want to re-hear the imperishable truths as well. It will be good to check back.


Tuesday, 2007 March 20


I went to a mammoth annual exhibition by those who sell computer stuff to the feds. It's called FOSE, though no one seems to remember what the initials once stood for. My ability to hear was quite bad in that noisy environment, even though I brought along the directional microphone I used to use with my old hearing aids. But it competes with the mike that is housed in the same place where the transmitter that goes across my skull is. Since they were trying to sell things to me, they were cooperative, much more so that the usual sullen clerk of low IQ that infests our stores. Having been to this exhibit at least twice before, I initially thought I'd spend only an hour there. I spent nearly four. It seems that a third of the displays were given over to disaster recovery (hard disk burn out, lost passwords, etc.) and a third to security. That the government seeks an economically too high level of security was quite apparent. There was one exhibit that did just the opposite, namely Reverse911. This useful outfit helps local government officials, who may not know much about computers, get flood warnings and the like out by e-mail, PDAs, websites, cellFones, etc., quickly. I, too, would like the world to hear my message! Much more than I would like to keep it a secret.


Hey, this is supposed to be about my hearing, but I can't resist throwing in other thoughts.


Monday, 2007 March 17


Greg came by and spent ten minutes with me on the spondaic words. I am doing better than I did yesterday. More practice with Sarah, too.


Sunday, 2007 March 17


The Madeline books are swell, but Rock 'n Learn lives up to its title. It is infused with a rock "music" background, which comes across as just noise. So did the Sendak book.


The spondaic lists are swell, and I worked with Sarah on List A.


Saturday, 2007 March 16


I went to the public library and got out four more books with talking text:


Ludwig Behemans, Madeline Ludwig Behemans, Madeline and the Gypsies Rock 'n Learn (Ages 2-5), Nursery Rhymes Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are


I also Googled "say the word railroad" and related things and landed upon a list of spondaic words. This term come from poetry studies and means a two-syllable word with equal stress on each syllable. I had taken hearing tests since the sixth or seventh grade that contained sentences like "say the word railroad." Andrea walked me through several of these on several visits. It turns out that such lists are far from random. Here's a list I found, in a technical article about how to measure hearing loss from word recognition as well as from pure tones. Much of the article is technical. This is what you study to get an advanced degree in audiology:


Half Lists of Spondaic Words


List A


airplane        ice cream baseball        mousetrap blackboard      northwest cowboy          oatmeal drawbridge      pancake duck pond       playground eardrum         railroad horseshoe       sunset hotdog          whitewash


List B


armchair        headlight backbone        inkwell birthday        mushroom cookbook        nutmeg doormat         outside earthquake      padlock eyebrow         stairway greyhound       toothbrush hardware        woodwork


Source: American Speech-Language Hearing Association (1988 March). Guidelines for Determining Speech Thresh Level for Speech. 3_1.pdf


Sarah and I did a trial run with this. It looks like a very good exercise!


Friday, 2007 March 16


All My Children. This time the background moaning music seemed much reduced, which maybe it was, though I had a hard time focusing on the content.


The Jim Lehrer News Hour. Again, I had difficulty concentrating. I really do need incentives to pay attention to what David Brooks and Mark Shields are saying to each other. Maybe. Part of the program had an interview with Craig Venter, the man who first decoded the human genome. He's now looking for genes in the ocean. Now *that* I am most keenly interested in. I decided most emphatically not to look at the captions, except when there is no hope of my hearing anything since I can't see the faces. At least I can get some information during those times. And during those times, I found out that his researches have already doubled the known number of human genes and that the total weight of bacteria exceeds that of plants and animals combined. Boy did I ever want to find out what use he expects this knowledge to be! So I hoped that sheer curiosity would force my brain to pay attention. But, no, it wouldn't cooperate.


I then went through the four Dr. Seuss books I have both in text and in sound. This was my worst listening, maybe because a lot of others were talking and moving about, as my device currently won't allow me to listen to just what I direct from my stereo. Others can't here my stereo, since the loudspeakers are off, but I can hear them talking. Still, they weren't talking all that loudly and I did have my stereo turned up pretty loudly (and adjusted the controls on my processor accordingly). It could have just been a very bad evening.


Thursday, 2007 March 15


That was a good idea, listening in the quiet of an art gallery and then crossing the Mall. I was able to hear the Dr. Seuss tapes a lot more clearly and even started guessing at the words. Of course, I'm quite familiar with them, having gone through them many, many times. Even so, I'm not very good.


Good news at work: Greg Frane, a true gentleman whom I've known for years, came up to my office when I told him my story and spent a while drilling me on "he, see, she," but still with not much more than chance accuracy. He'll be taking a daily break and come by for ten minutes of drilling. And guess which university he graduated from. If you guessed the University of Virginia, you are correct. There are very few fellow graduates of U.Va. in the bureaucracy compared to graduates from that training school for bureaucrats, the University of Maryland. To be superqualified, you get a graduate degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Ha'va'd and major in something like public policy. I've never been able to find out exactly what this course of study consists of, though there are plenty of them in the general office where I work.


On the way home on the subway, I saw three pretty teenage girls (one well over six feet tall, which shows that awesomeness does not necessarily go with height, for she gabbled exactly like the rest). I've always been curious what teenagers talk about (please don't tell me I don't want to know!) but I couldn't make out a syllable.


On the way from the subway to home, I tried Mozart's Sonata No. 18 (old no unnumbered, the one with the allegro and andante from K. 533 and the rondo from K. 494). In many ways it's my favorite sonata of his. Alas, not much luck this time either.


Wednesday, 2007 March 14


Sarah reminded me that Andrea said I should have the processor on all the time, except when I was asleep. I did so for only a couple of days, figuring that if I'm just sitting quietly in a quiet office, there is nothing to be gained, only irritation, from having the device on. And so, without thinking about, I have turned the processor off as often as my hearing aid, which is most of the time. The neat thing about the processor is that I don't have to put an ear mold into my ear anymore, just turn the thing on and wait three seconds. Sarah also reminded me that I have no ear to damage.


I reminded myself of what Andrea said when I was looking at Mannerist paintings in the National Gallery of Art. Why not turn the thing on? I did, and cranked used the loud program. The room was very quiet, though my tinnitus generates all sorts of racket. I wish I had a good decibel meter to carry around. I had one from RadioSnack, but it would only record loud sounds and I burned out if I put the battery in backwards. Didn't use it much. Anyhow, I can get one for about $100, using None go below 30 db, though, and the gallery may have been that quiet. While there, I started hearing footsteps! I turned the sensitivity switch up as well as the volume switch. Too loud! This was not a problem, since I can't hurt an ear, but the sound coming through was just a big, humming racket.


Then I started hearing people talk in quiet voices at distances I would never have been able even to detect. I couldn't make out any of the words, though. This looks like a good way to get hearing exercise, so next time I'll go back just to eavesdrop. I keep the device on as I walked across the Mall back to work. I could hear others talking, as evidenced by the coordination of their lips and what was coming into my brain. (All right side. Hearing aid in my left ear not used.) I couldn't make much out. The wind, which was mild but would have wreaked havoc with a hearing aid, didn't seem to matter much. I still couldn't make out any words. Finally, I was walking up the stairs to the Air and Space Museum. A voice came in loudly and clearly. He was speaking slowly and distinctly, I could tell from the precise way his mouth moved. Little wind or distraction from other voices. But still I couldn't make anything out. I then occurred to me that the reason might possibly be that he was Chinese speaking to other Chinese! I should have stopped to ask him.


So I'll definitely be keeping my device on a lot more. I am employing a general principle economists practice instinctively. If it costs nothing, you may go ahead and do it. Well, walking across the Mall with my device on is not keeping me from doing much else (I could be reading a book or listening to music on my WalkWoman) and I might gain more experience. (There is a cost of just being annoyed, though.)


And so I think it is quite okay to SOMETIMES use both ears, as I have described when I listen to music in hopes that I can gradually reduce the left side and get what I need through the processor alone. I haven't had much success here, really. And sometimes I try familiar music on the right alone. Next step will be to get out a score and listen to music through the processor alone. Some simple stuff at first.


Monday, 2007 March 12


I was listening to Dr. Seuss again (I try to do it every day). "One Fish, Blue Fish" went fine, but I got lost in "Fox in Socks." Started all over. Got lost again. Started again. Got frustrated. Out came the receiver for my left ear, which Andrea doesn't want me to use, but in this case, just to get back on track and not have to start over again and again. I still got lost! The problem, it turned out was that I was listening to "Hop on Pop" all along. But my hearing was so bad in my left ear that I didn't catch it. It's not hearing in any pure-tone sense, but the failure of my brain. Sometimes this failure is a lack of using will power to pay attention. Sometimes I cannot will the will power into place. (Will the philosophers reading this assure me that I am not speaking nonsense?) Othertimes, I am trying as hard as I can.


I now have a CD of nine (maybe ten, but I can't hear the tenth track) Dr. Seuss books, read without a lot of music in the background, and have four of the books, with a fifth awaiting me at the public library. Maybe this is enough.


What I need now is some online practice test, where a speaker will say "popcorn," and numerous other words, and I click whatever I think it is and get informed whether I'm hearing it right. I'm just not getting the real-time meat people I need.


Friday, 2007 March 9


All My Children a little better. The moaning music doesn't seem as loud as it did a week ago, but the background music may have been quieter. I did hear David Brooks better. I had even thought that I was hearing him better than I ever did with my hearing aids. So, out comes the left hearing aid to check. No, I was still hearing better in the left ear. Now remember I used to use hearing aids in both ears and do think I would hear better in my right ear, if the sound was turned up loudly enough. I still have a way to go. Hearing aid off. Maybe next Friday.


Thursday, 2007 March 8


I should have mentioned that when I got home from the Gordon Tullock award presentation, insistently going through my head was Beethoven's variations on the Bei Männern aria in Mozart's Magic Flute (no, not the aria itself, but I have probably played the variations more often). I didn't particularly want to hear it at the time, and put on something else (though my left ear) as I started to enjoy my evening pipe. I quickly realized that I had either to put on the Beethoven or listen to nothing.


I'm having auditory hallucinations, in other words. This is not tinnitus, which can pump a tone into my brain. It is a melody. Now before the operation I would sometimes wake up and imagine hearing a sorrowful chorus singing quietly. No discernible words. This has been going on for maybe a year. It's a kind of focused tinnitus, I might describe it. A new development started the night following the operation (described in detail below: search for the phrase "blood being pumped"). Now I keep hallucinating the opening of Beethoven's first piano concerto. I have long used the first four notes: C rest CCC as my secret door knock. When I'm with someone and I knock on a door and then continue the melody singing, I know I've got a true music lover with me! I often hum this alone, humming while you work, as it were. But now this melody (which is great because of what Beethoven does with it, not in and of itself) is a very frequent companion as a hallucination, except that it is not accurate and corresponds to the way tones come in from my processor sound are wrong notes!


I'm not going crazy. Not at all, it's not too little attachment to reality that is my problem, but too much (search for "morbid" below). However, and this was alarming, the noises came in horribly loudly. But only this once and for only a few seconds.


A splendid benefit! My not being able to run for a month after the operation has cured soreness in my knees. As you get older your joints wear out. So I have cut back, over the last twenty years from 40 miles a week to just 14. I use knee pads, run on grass when I can, wear thick socks, and put three strips tape on the bottom back half of my feet. I have broken the downward spiral of my knees! The pain was never at all great, but I want to be able to continue to run until I meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and keep out of Hell by forever asking him questions.


Wednesday, 2007 March 7


While we were there we learned that Gordon Tullock was going to have an award the following day. So out we went again. I had three courses under him in graduate economics at U.Va., 1966-68, and we have seen him pretty regularly ever since he came to George Mason. He was one of the great teachers, for his did not teach the material, he taught himself. The material I would have forgotten, but I look at the world through his eyes, and that's what matters. Poor hearing again, alas. Part of the problem is a bad habit of just giving up and retreating into my own thoughts when it has become apparent that I won't be able to hear. But I am quite conscious of this fact and know I need to concentrate on making out what is being said. After all, I'll go over my own thoughts in my head, but I may not hear again what others are saying. Might as well use the opportunity to learn something. Alas, it proves very difficult to concentrate, sometimes even for a moment. Sometimes a magical moment comes and I lock in to the conversation and stay locked in. This did not happen and I don't know how to make it happen.


Oh, earlier I went to a meeting of the labor union. I can get the Department to pay for a court reporter to make real-time captions for me that I can read on her (only once or twice his) laptop. This union is in a state of terrible confusion, and if you had only the transcript to go by (or were in attendance), you'd have tremendous difficulty making sense out of what was going on. The single biggest mistake others (not me, not that often, since I'm aware of it) is to fail to put yourself into the hearer's or reader's local knowledge situation. It is quite true--I've been saying it here myself--that so much is overheard or conveyed by tone of voice, but in a public forum, you really must give enough background! I decided pretty early on during the meeting to ignore what I could read on the laptop and use the occasion to give my brain a good work out. I was able to hear better than in the noisy environments yesterday and later today, but again my mind drifted.


Tuesday, 2007 March 6


We went to a funeral for a granddaughter of Sarah's step-father, who died suddenly at the age of 35 of causes unknown. I had met her only briefly but could hear only a few words here and there at the funeral. We repaired to the home of the husband and their two excellent children, ages 2 and 4. It was quite crowded, some many were her friends, but I managed only slightly better. I shall have to wait to find out more about this remarkable woman. That was the morning and much of the afternoon. We then went to the law school building at George Mason University for the presentation of an award to Leonard Liggio, an indefatigable libertarian of the Humane Studies Institute, whose career goes long back before libertarianism became so respectable that the CATO Institute has a fine glass building in downtown Washington, D.C. Too noisy there also. I did use my directional microphone but had to place it two inches from Sarah's mouth or to whomever I was talking to to make out what was being said. I simply ducked out when the several speakers paid their respective tributes to Leonard and continued reading a book on cochlear transplants. The author could hear better on day 1 than I can on day 29!


Sunday, 2007 March 4


There was a two-hour teevee special, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, followed by a one-hour panel conducted by Ted Koppel. The thesis is that the inscriptions on the ossuaries (limestone boxes the Jews used at the time to put the bones of the dead in after a year) were those of Jesus and his family. Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, Mary Mariamne (reckoned to be Mary of Magdala, the last name coming for a 4th century Acts of Philip, which like the accepted Gospels contains historical information), two brothers of Jesus, and a young boy Yose, reckoned to be the son of Jesus and M.M. Sensational stuff, and I don't want to miss out on a good controversy. (Look it up by the title in Wikipedia.) This time I was really interested in the content and was willing to forego training my brain. But I did listen on the right side alone, along with the captions, which were more or less coordinated with the sound. So I did get some training after all. I was 11:00 P.M. by the time Ted Koppel came on, and I just too tired to keep up any sort of exercise and just watched the captions alone with no hearing, though I could have plugged in a hearing aid receiver in my left ear. I could have done better than the assembled theologians, simply by virtue of knowing how they have managed to adapt to every new finding to date. The Resurrection could stay. No reason why Jesus could not have risen from the dead and go on preaching. (My guess is that it was the same Joseph of Arimathea who bought the first tomb for Jesus who paid for a tomb of ossuaries for the family.) It's the Assumption whose doctrine will have to be adjusted. We've already seen cloning and, in science fiction movies, enough brain and body swapping and brain uploading to find it perfectly acceptable that Jesus left one body behind for family burial and another one to ascend into Heaven. It if was a physical body, though, and Heaven far away, He would have to accelerate close to the speed of light in order for time dilation effects to make a long trip possible without His body deteriorating. I calculated that it would take about a year to get up close to the speed of light under an acceleration of 1 G.


Hey, I'm supposed to be talking about my hearing, but I couldn't resist. If it were by comparative stupidity, I'd have to judge this new theory true or at least quite plausible. By numbers of commentators on the Internet, the critics mostly observe that Mary, Joseph, and so on were quite common names (no one disputes this) and that the Bible disagrees (the point of the dispute in the first place).


Saturday, 2007 March 3


I made the happy discovery that the CD set of seven Dr. Seuss books, of which I am borrowing only three but which come with cassette tapes, are not the same. The cassettes have a lot of music in the background. These are usually completely quiet.


Friday, 2007 March 2


All My Children again. This week, there was more moaning music in the background, drowning out (for me) the speakers. I keep the captions on. Since on live shows the captions come a few seconds after the words are spoken, I can check whether I heard something correctly. For pre-programmed shows, like All My Children, the captions are supposedly synchronized with the words. But this is by no means the case. Sometimes the captions come in advance. When the moaning was roaring (esp. at the high moments of drama where a father threatened a son to kill who I think was his wife by taking his "deadman's" hand off a button which was preventing an arrow from piercing her throat with a fatal poison), I would use the time to try to hear what was being said by looking at the faces, the captions, or both. I could not really hear anything at all over the moaning music. Sarah thinks this show is a complete waste of time and scorns me for watching it. I shan't disagree, but I'm not trying to learn anything. I'm only trying to train my brain. A good test will be how things improve during the weeks ahead, by always watching the same show.


When the moaning was off, I heard less than I did a week before, I think, and this led me to despair. (The beautiful woman--there aren't any others on the show; indeed one woman told by another one she was beautiful complained that she was not as beautiful as another woman on the show--whose face was badly damaged, is still in the hospital but without the bandages. At the very end the son wrestled the switch away from this father. I refuse to stay home on Monday to find out whether the woman was killed.)


Later on, I listened to music on both sides. This time it was Beethoven's 32 Variations on an Original Theme in c minor, the best work he never assigned an opus number to, another being the Andante Favori, the original slow movement of the Waldstein Sonata. I didn't follow it very well. So back to the Diabelli Variations (Robert Silverman's new disc in both cases). Just more brain training. Maybe this simultaneous listening hurried on what I report in the next paragraph.


Then the Jim Lehrer News Hour. The most wonderful thing happened when listening to Jim and David and Mark. I heard their voices both in their normal tones and in the high pitched variant I was used to. This is quite some progress, and I made out more of what they were saying (but please to ask me what they actually said. It was about some general being fired). The really wonderful thing was that I was hearing David's (esp. but I don't know why) voice at the same time I saw his lips move, not a fraction of a second afterwards. I thought I must be hearing it out of my left ear. So I turned down the sound coming out of the speaker on the set. Wiring: teevee, amplifier, cord to speech processor, thence to the transmitter, chip in my brain, and auditory nerve. It was the same: I was indeed hearing David immediately and both at his "real" frequency and with a high pitched one as well. What makes this exciting is that I was wrong to think the delay was because the processor had too much crunching to do. It turns out that it was that other processor, the object that passes for a brain, that was slowing things down.


My brain is now working better, and I'm optimistic once again. I should expect ups and downs. Why just on Thursday morning I was out jogging with a tape I made for my WalkWoman and listened to only through my left ear (Silverman, again) of the Liszt Sonata followed by Beethoven's 32 variations (on the CD is the Diabelli and 32 variations), but I did not even notice that the Liszt had ended and the Beethoven begun! So variable is my hearing and concentration that I shouldn't hope for steady improvement. Also, sometimes desire itself departs and I don't care much about anything. This is notoriously and horribly true of the elderly.


But I do worry that I just might not care enough to retrain my brain to the extent I could. What I am most definitely doing is trying out different ideas. Today's is to watch the faces, captions, or both in a noisy situation (moaning music on All My Children) instead of just staring hopelessly. Another is to use both ears from time to time. A third is to work with music. It's hard to do experiments with a sample size of one (1, namely me), but if Medical Science wishes I'll be eager to cooperate.


Thursday, 2007 March 1


A friend once said that my hearing problem is a combination of


Deafness, Stupidity, and Unconcern.


Both partly insulting and partly true! I have repeated it over and over to many others.


More despair or maybe just too much expectation: My hearing seems worse. But it has always varied. Not necessarily as far as pure tones go. I've always wondered why audiologists don't let the patients tell them when they hear a tone. I have so much racket in my brain--it has gotten worse after the operation--that it's hard to tell whether I am hearing or imagining. On the first week follow-up audiology test (February 15), Andrea maybe eight times shook her head I am pretty sure to indicate that I was just imagining a tone. It all may not matter much. After all, when you get down to your final choices for determining an eyeglass prescription, the differences are minute, even if you'll have to live with your Rx till the next time. The sounds coming in could be randomized, but there's no point repeated sounds the patient just ain't gonna hear. I've always varied from day to day and from hour to hour. I've often wondered about how much test scores depend on attention and how inconsistent responses are dealt with. (There are scores for inconsistent responses on personality tests.)


Wednesday, 2007 February 28


Despair and bad temptation: I now have this cord that can run from anywhere and splits to my left ear and my right speech processor. I was trying to follow Dr. Seuss books again, using the right side only. But I lost track. I can't find my place. Sarah isn't here to help me. So in goes the receiver and ear mold in my left ear and I find my way. The bad temptation is to just do this whenever I get lost and not bother to concentrate so that I won't get lost. It's a tough decision to make. Andrea may think I should never use this crutch, but that strikes me as a bit dogmatic (defined by Ben Franklin iirc as someone who insists on saying "dogmatical"). The consequence is my rewinding the tape and starting over again, and again, and again. I need to practice with the whole tape.


Walking home from the subway, I put on Beethoven's Diabelli Variations in both ears. Now this was a much smarter idea. The work harmonic, not polyphonic like Bach's with several melodies going on at the same time, and rhythmic. I know it very, very well. And I got a good bit out of it. Maybe I should do this a lot more. It doesn't seem to *cost* me anything, since I'm not doing anything else while walking home. I'm not to the point where I can listen to the work in my right side alone, and cueing from the left side helps. Now whether this is helping me understand speech better, I don't know and can't yet give even much of a subjective opinion on.


Tuesday, 2007 February 27


An office party for the 27th birthday of my colleague, Sarah Jensen. I told her that she has only three years to go to change her mind, since the brain closes up at age thirty. My boss is there and is quizzical and asks me whether I change mind. "I'm only 22." She was even more quizzical. "I was 22 when I first met Sarah (Sarah Banks, that is) and we were wafted to the timeless plane of love." She did not exactly accept this.


We all sat in chairs and spoke pretty much one at a time. I could hear better than before, though still not before the operation). The problem is that it takes terrific effort to LISTEN and I just couldn't focus my mind. So I didn't hear much at all, though I think I could have. Part of the reason is my narcolepsy, which makes it hard to concentrate as well as makes me have to take naps. A lot is random variability. But much is bad habit. If I can't hear, I just drift off into my own world of thoughts. They are often just random thoughts, not unlike the way conversations go, maybe even flipping from one subject to another more. It's hard for me to break into a conversation, since by the time I've thought of something to say, the subject matter has drifted to entirely different matters. If I interrupt, I'm taking over the conversation, and this is a rude thing to do if we're just celebrating the three year deadline of a co-worker before her brain closes. (May she meet her own true love so that her brain won't close!) If I'm at a seminar and want to ask a question, it's almost always the case that I keep thinking about what I am going to say that I miss out on all the other questions and answers. This, however, is hardly confined to those with hearing and attention problems!


Sometimes, though, I manage to abruptly get into synch, my brain locks in to the conversation and it no longer becomes a problem paying attention. It's going to be much more difficult now, because the sound coming into my right auditory nerve--I shouldn't say right ear but won't bother correcting this entire diary--is delayed by the number crunching of the speech processor, as I've explained already. So I must wait for the sound and not immediately try to read lips.


Monday, 2007 February 26


Ever since my operation, I have listened to music (except for less than an hour or two of experimenting) though my left ear. Sometimes I can't really even focus on the music at all, whence it just goes in one ear and out the other (bad metaphor for me!), but even at its best, even since my operation I haven't gained great joy from the music I love best. But that's been true for a long time, and this can happen to those who have no hearing problems at all. I said earlier that I would not be using my left ear at all, even to listen to music, the better to relearn the soundscape. I might relent sometimes, though, were I to suffer from a great spiritual deficit which only great music can restore. I had in mind, as I said way below, the Beethoven Piano Sonatas played by Robert Silverman.


Andrea said it was okay to use my WalkWoman in the left ear, but just for music. It was when jogging in to work that the imperishable truths of Beethoven hit me, in quite a long time, maybe the first time since the operation on January 9. It was the 31st sonata. It usually happens, though, that when I've stopped running and just join the other commuters, I can't concentrate on the music and just get out a book. Not this time! I listened to the sonata to the end, backed up an listened to the fugue again, and then just basked in this renewal, not listening to music, not reading either, till I got to work. My inner glow stopped by the time I had changed my clothes. Back to reality or to the facsimile thereof that Washington, D.C. represents.


Saturday, 2007 February 24


We went to the YMCA for the first time since activation, and I explained to several friends there who were wondering what happened to us. It was quite a noisy place, so I could not hear very well.


Friday, 2007 February 22


Violating Andrea's general injunction not to use a hearing aid in my left ear, I put together a connecting cable. In will go a stereo source, like a RadioSnack Amplified Listening Amplifier (a poor man's hearing aid), my WalkWoman, or the output of my stereo (music, teevee, Fone, computer). What comes out is split: to a large hearing-ad receiver with a custom-made ear mold to my left ear and to the sound processor for my right ear. (In the past, I've had a hearing aid receiver and ear mold in my right ear as well.)


Wiring up a cord can be quite tedious, since the individual wires are extremely fragile. Since these wires have many points of connection, a bad connection anywhere (or a stuffed ear mold) means it won't work. I wind up resoldering my cables every couple of weeks, it seem, not because I do a bad job but because of the fragility of the wires.


I needed to test my connections, so I just grabbed the RadioSnack amplifier. (This is a self-contained stereo microphone, battery, and amplifier. Most people put a stereo headphone set into it, but I use the connecting cable described.) No real violation of Andrea's injunction--except that I had the thing in my ear for quite a while. It took much longer than I had realized. I hummed "Freude, schöne Gotterfunken" over and over. This was a good idea! As I said before, the tones of the scale are off. Slowing the tones are coming in correctly. I've discovered that if I just hum the notes or say the same word, like "beep," the notes I subjectively hear in my right ear is better than if I sing words. I've been singing to myself quite a bit already. At first I could barely sing things I know by heart, like this tune from Beethoven's Ninth. It would come out terrible. I strongly feel that listening to myself in both ears has speeded up the process.


Still, I'm going to use my left ear sparingly. Listening to All My Children for the second time: I didn't get enough sentences to know why whoever it was that died died. This week, all I caught was the camera panning the grave. Someone is murdered this time. A wounded women (not so wounded that she isn't attractive) yells from her hospital bed. The usual for this show. I still don't know what is going on, but I've always had the greatest difficulty following soap operas. Others consider me quite intelligent, but keeping track of all these characters I find hard to do. My intelligence is quite lopsided. I'm very good (rather, was very good) in mathematics. Math involves just a handful of definitions, not more than a few soap opera's worth of characters. To do math, your brain has to be able to instantly grab a key theorem and apply it to the problem at hand. The basic concepts are high level ones, even at the highest level. My problem is that I seem to treat each character in a soap opera as a high level concept. I can't keep these characters down to low levels like others do with no effort.


In any case and maybe for having practiced with both ears while singing along when soldering up my new cable, I was able to tell that men's and women's voices sound different. Later that day, I tried music with both ears for the first time. I had tried the new ear a few times but even with pieces I knew well, I didn't achieve much. I made what was undoubtedly a very bad choice, namely the mighty Hammerklavier Sonata. I take naps at least thrice a day (narcolepsy) and put on my favorite sonata, now in both ears, till I drifted off to a light sleep. I can tell if I remember hearing one movement and then find myself in another movement. Sometimes I never really lose track of the music, or I don't think so. (All this is mostly subjective, but maybe the good sleep-research folks at NIH have figured out ways to do tests.) I followed the music, sort of. That was later in the afternoon. When I watched Brooks and Shields again, I thought I was helped by the Hammerklavier Sonata, even if I didn't follow it very well.


Thursday, 2007 February 22


We went to a reception for my high school to greet the new headmaster and bid farewell to the old one. This was the first time since activation that I was in a room with my people talking. I wasn't really making out much of what others were saying and, as usual, rather than patiently getting the other one to repeat what he's saying over and over again, I wind up doing more, sometimes much more, than half the talking. When the new headmaster spoke to us, that is, when everyone else was quiet, I heard much better, but not well enough to say what his new visions for the school are.


Monday, 2007 February 19


A note about jogging. I'm an addict and was quite apprehensive about how pent-up and restless I'd be during the month between operation and activation. I knew I could do rapid walking and resistance training on the upper body on days I don't run., but you just can get your heart rate up to aerobic levels. I bought a heart rate monitor before the operation and found out that I generally jog about 130 beats a minute when ambling along at 10 minutes per mile. (It was 7 1/2 minutes a mile thirty years ago when I first began and the rate was around 160, going up to over 200. I ran a marathon (26.2 miles at 6:52/mile) in 2:59:41 in 1878, barely qualifying me for the Boston Marathon, which I ran legally the following year.) When going to the YMCA thrice a week, to reduce stress on my bones if I ran every day, the rate gets up to around 100. On one run, before the operation, my heart got up to 153 for a few seconds.


It was walks only, two miles or a little more, for a month. No going to the YMCA since I got out of the surgeon that the *reason* not to go running was not to obey rules that surgeons inflict on people but to be sure that the chip is held in place so that scar tissue can grow around it. It is also a good idea to avoid anything that causes the head to swell, as pressure on the chip could cause problems. It was learning this latter reason that led me not to go to the YMCA, since odd movements did make my head feel pressured. It is not *always* that I ask questions just to be difficult. The world, esp. those where I work, need to understand this. But our brains evolved so as to make this understanding difficult.


The walks had me going around 36 minutes for the two miles. Day by day (correcting now for distances somewhat longer) are 36, 36, 36, 35, 35, 26, 36, 37, 36, 37, 36, 33!, 35, 35, 36, 34, 35, 35, 36, 34, 34, 34, 34, 34, 35, 35, 33!, 34, 32!!, and 34. I tried to keep my heart rate up to 100. One day when there was snow on the sidewalks, my rate held at a fantastic 120. It gave me a really good work out. I'm not going to fall down, for I have practiced holding onto nothing on the subway, which can get some pretty heavy twists. Only about once a year do I see someone else who can do this. It took about a month to train my brain to do this balancing act. And I practice standing on one foot with the other high up in back by my hand whenever I get the chance, like on elevators. (I am NOT crazy, testing out as "nearly normal" on personality tests. Lots of people dispute this!) Anyhow, my brain does not realize that I'm pretty well trained to rebalance myself when going over slippery surfaces and so pounds anxiously. Glorious walk!


 Then, the day after activation. Run! Glorious Run!. Just two miles, and in 21 minutes, but my heart rate went up to all of 165 at one point, which I doubt it had in done in years. Runs are now generally in around 140 or so and are coming down as I get back into shape. The difference of a minute or two on a run seems to be a small matter if you are not a runner (jogger I am, really!) but right there on the edge, you are acutely aware of it, as you are when you try to get your heart rate up ever so slightly. I think my heart monitor responds pretty rapidly. Unfortunately, the Garmin Forerunner 101 running chronometer, which hooks into the GPS, gives a smoothed out average. (I can get time signals from that watch and have eight other devices that do so.)


Saturday, 2007 February 17


I put on a couple of 45s, "The Little Man in Chinatown" and "Beep-Beep." The lyrics of the first are extremely simple and go something like


There once was a little man in Chinatown He was a little man indeed.


And then the little man in Chinatown He was a little man indeed.


And one day this little man in Chinatown He was a little man indeed.


And so this little man in Chinatown He was a little man indeed.


Now in case you wonder what the story is Here it is, here it is, here it is


One afternoon this little man in Chinatown He was a little man indeed.


It goes on like this with no further information about the little man except that he was little.


Alas, I quote these lyrics from memory and they don't go quite like this. So I wasn't able to follow the song.


But I did have the lyrics to Beep-Beep:


While riding in my Cadillac What to my surprise A little Nash Rambler was following me About one third my size.


And was I able to follow the song and got some exercise with music as well as words. Instruments mess up the sound for me and I do need to be able to hear through them. So maybe having the noise be music that connects to the words instead of just random street noise is a good way to train. But, as I said, I'm not going to do this very often.


Friday, 2007 February 16


I listened to a soap opera, "All My Children," and here I could see faces as they talked, except that when there was music moaning in the background, I had horrible difficulties. There was a funeral for someone (there are a lot of them on this show) with more music and pans of the mourners while the minister went on and on. I would check against the captions from time to time. These captions are made before the show is broadcast. Sometimes the coordination is perfect, but quite often the caption appears before the words are spoken. It is this that Andrea most definitely does not want me to do (and I agree with her). So I did get some exercise trying to make out what was going on. Well, I had no idea who died. It did seem that the oldest man on the show, Adam, had had at least one new wife since I tuned it in a year or so ago. My good Colorado buddy's late wife (she died suddenly a year ago) was hooked on it, why he sneered at it. He said that we have an innate need for a bunch of friends, set in the Old Stone Age, but she didn't have that many close ones, whence All My Children provided a much-needed set of virtual friends. I watched a few shows to see what this genre was all about but didn't get hooked. Alice got hooked for a while, but had her great sense of humor about it.


In the evening to the Jim Lehrer News Hour, tuning in on the talking heads David Brooks and Mark Shields. The spoke rapidly and I got some good exercise following them. I was able to make out quite a number of complete sentences, but I did not grasp what the issue was. I'll need to be able to following the whole conversation and also to overhear others in noisy conditions to really join the world.


Thursday, 2007 February 15


The visit with Andrea was highly encouraging. Not only am I better able to understand words but an audiogram shows that I have about the same hearing loss, about 40 db (I misplaced the audiogram, but this is about right) from 500 to 8000 Hz, instead of much worse at even the lower frequencies but unable to hear anything at all about 2000 Hz. It will be awhile before my brain gets used to this new information, but this will take time.


I told her my transmitter falls off too easily and so added two more magnets to the one already in place. She was aghast and said that such force is needed only for those with thick skulls or lots of hair and threat more powerful magnets could even yank the implant out! I had no idea that this might happen. She immediately took out the extra magnets and confiscated them. Well, they are superstrong magnets and I'd love to show them around, but I don't think she trusts me to obey her, for the very good reason that I don't. I have been experimenting around with music and even using a hearing aid in my left ear, but NOT as a crutch to hear better. I understand fully that I must get work hard on retraining my brain. I fully intend that, except that I have this idea that maybe a music lover like me might benefit from getting the scale to sound correctly and that this would hasten my ability to comprehend speech.


I listened to the ABC News Broadcast that evening, but the talking head does not stay on screen but rather keeps rattling on when showing scenes. Not very helpful, though I could hear better when I could see him.


 From Wed Feb 14 11:42:18 2007 Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 11:42:15 -0500 (EST) From: Premise Checker <> To: Andrea Marlowe <> Subject: Visit tomorrow


Frank Forman here.


"Premise Checker" comes from Ayn Rand's novel, _Atlas Shrugged_ (1957), The notion occurs six times in the novel, the first in Chapter 7. Dagny Taggart is confused by events and cannot grasp the central mystery of the novel. Franciso d'Anconia replies, "I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."


Dear Andrea,


We'll be back up tomorrow. I'm bringing up a super-strong magnet and want to know if I can use it on the microphone/transmitter to hold it to my head better. One of the inserts said the audiologist could make the magnet stronger, but another insert warned me against getting an MRI brain scan. I've read that those devices can rip even fifty pound metal hospital carts across the room.


I still can't hear music, except hymns that I sign to myself and a little bit of what Sarah hears. Any recordings I have are too complicated and fast moving. A friend suggested getting some children's records of music. I am convinced that I should experiment to see whether training my brain to hear music again can help me learn to hear speech again and vice versa. Not many hard of hearing people are music lovers and still fewer of classical music.


I sent the message below to my office. Sadly, no volunteers emerged to help me. It seems everyone is too busy. Sometimes, I think the self-image of being terribly busy and therefore terribly important has overridden the common sense of taking a break every half hour or hour.


Be that as it may, I'm pleased to report that the echos after every sound have died down. On the other hand, music is more mis-pitched today than it was on Monday and Tuesday. It has almost gotten to the point where I could sing a scale, and except for the last note, would sound like it does normally. (I' not say sound like it "should" since the brain distorts the world to some extent in all cases. I may ask some questions on an Yahoo! group, evolutionary-psychology. Some of these folks argue that singing made us human or rather selected for those who evolved into humans. These are quite serious arguments, though minority ones.)n


My big problem is finding others to practice with. I do keep my processor on most of the time. I have a private office so I sing to myself as I work.


It was a good accident that I used a hearing aid in my left ear when I was repairing a cord, as described below. My understanding is the reason not to use it is so I'll get good exercise in listening from the processor alone. But I think using both ears for a little bit every now and then could help me contrast instantly what things sounded like in the past and how they will sound in the future, except that they won't sound that way always in the future, since my brain will reinterpret them.


I may be wondering after my month-after-operation visit whether it would be good to fine tune the settings of each of the three programs on my processor. There will certainly be an evolution of my brain's remapping the soundscape (as I've been calling it) and I'll gain more experience at my own particular circumstances of times, places, and hearing environments. This would be a good research question. Finer and finer tunings confer small and smaller benefits is something that an economist (me) would know automatically. It's just where the point of diminishing returns comes in that needs to be investigated.


Much best, Frank


---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 15:59:28 -0500 From: "Forman, Frank" <> To: OPEPD PPSS <> Subject: Frank Forman, Cyborg


I am now officially a cyborg, for the cochlear implant chip inside my skull just above my right ear is actually a computer with about the power of an Intel 286, which several of you had at home maybe only 20 years ago. It's the speech processor that fits in a carrying case on my belt that does the heavy-duty processing.


This is my first day back at work since the implant was activated on Wednesday. Everything sounded high pitched and mis-pitched. I could make out no music and could scarcely hear even Sarah. And all sounds came with echoes. We tried two exercises. Say ahh, ooo, mmm. Cover your face and let me guess which. The other was eee, s, and sh. Terrible! Sh and s are sibilants, high-pitched consonants. I could even hear them. No difference between he, see, and she at all. We had lunch right after the visit with a good friend of ours up in Baltimore, but I comprehended very little.


The next day I was scheduled to go back up to Johns Hopkins, but my audiologist, Andrea Marlowe, had a cold, but she'd be in on Friday. I might have come into work, but having this contraption on all day was completely exhausting. So I stayed home and slept a lot. Worked with Sarah some more on these two exercises. Then I put on two tapes of Dr. Seuss books and read along with the text. Sarah had to help me keep my place. When my listening was done, we talked and my comprehension shot way, way up! All because listening to Dr. Seuss taught me what voices were supposed to sound like. BUT I had no idea whether males or females were doing the reading, since Andrea said no, absolutely no use of a hearing aid in my other ear. (Both, Sarah told me.)


Back to see Andrea on Friday. I had had only a loaner model of the external devices, but she gave me two ones with the various attachments. There's the speech processor (these are $7K each (STIFF), but Kaiser paid for them), a battery box with super-powerful hearing aid batteries that last only a day between rechargings, and a cord between the processor and a transmitter that holds on with a magnet on the outside of my skull. The processed sound then goes to the receiving chip inside my skull than down an electrode with 16 wires past my ear and connecting to the auditory nerve that goes into my brain I am NOT enough of a cyborg to have an electronic brain, yet, but the chip is today the most powerful electronic implant inside any human, much, much more than a pacemaker, which doesn't take in information from the outside world, either. The transmitter also houses a microphone. There were other things, like a cord with an external microphone and a telephone pickup coil, but those won't be activated till next week. Practice on what you've got, first, sez Andrea.


On Wednesday, she sent a message down each of the 16 wires and they all reported back activity. (So what I have is not strictly one way.) I did much much better on the two tests and, while not the very best patient of the hundred or so she has had, I am progressing fine. The processor box has a sensitivity control. Keep it in the middle, she said, at all times. Well, when we got back in the car--I never knew how NOISY they were--my resident coloratura sang for me, but the high notes were clipped out by the processor. Being familiar with cut-off limiters in hearing aids (to protect the ear), I immediately violated Andrea's injunction and fiddled with the sensitivity switch. Turning it all the way up, all the lovely notes came through. Turning it down, fewer did. Experiment over, I put it back in the middle, as instructed.


Andrea took the hearing aid I was using for my left ear and gave it to Sarah to hide in her handbag, which she promptly did. I asked her if I could listen to my WalkWoman. I produced one and the cord that I made, which connects to a old-fashioned hearing aid receiver. Fine, she said. She was the only one of three audiologists who has ever had a patient other than myself who actually got out a soldering iron and made a cable that would hook into a WalkWoman or home stereo and then into these old-fashioned receivers with custom-made hearing aid molds. I use a cheap RadioSnack stereo listener with this cord to make an inexpensive alternative hearing aid. But NO use of the RadioSnack listener. All of you have seen this. My hearing is simply too bad to use headphones, as an intolerable squeal will result. So I've put my telephones, computers, and home stereos all through my cord. Otherwise, I'd be unable to use the phone. Terri Youngblood, a consultant in the Technology Center in the basement, drove me out many years ago to a place that specialized in assistive devices for the hard of hearing. They had nothing that was as good as what a guy handy with a soldering iron since junior high could do.


However, the cords are extremely delicate. We've all noticed that a straight wire is much less flexible than a stranded cable for an appliance, which is in turn less flexible than the cord on a phone, which requires repeated bendings. Well, the cords in my device are even more delicate and are prone to come apart. So, on Saturday, at last given permission to use my WalkWoman, which meant as far as I was concerned permission to listen to music in my left ear from my stereo (same cord, same volume). The cord came apart. I went into the kitchen to resolder it, singing merrily as I went along with what can be a monstrously tedious and frustrating job--you can't imagine it--of redoing the soldering. And to test if it was working, I fetched back the RadioSnack stereo listener Sarah had put away, just to hear a sound to see if the soldering was working.


It took longer than usual. But, as I said, the notes came out badly, falling when they should be rising and vice versa. On the previous days, I tried to sing things I thought I knew so well that mis-feedback from my processor wouldn't trip me up. I'd just bull ahead with "Count your blessings," "Swing low, sweet chariot," "Rise up, O men of God" (which I've used to get my children up with all their lives), and "Freude, schöne Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium." Sounds terrible, said Sarah. I've long since lost the ability to carry most tunes, but these go way, way back into my childhood. But now, I'm hearing my unprocessed singing out of my left ear (well, processed only with the forbidden RadioSnack amplifier) and the processed singing from my new contraption. By keeping the RadioSnack-amplified volume up at a healthy level, I can ignore the badly-processed sounds in my right ear and sing along these songs more or less in tune, not very good by my coloratura's standards, but after all she sings in choruses and choirs.


Soldering completed. Forbidden amplifier turned off and put away. I had thought that listening to music, music I know so well would help me learn to remap my speech soundscape as well. Andrea thought it wouldn't. So far, she's right, but I shall persist, even though very few of those who get cochlear transplants are going to be music lovers, for the obvious reason that they don't hear very well.


Nothing much on Sunday. Sarah was too busy working on manuscripts for her job (American Society of Civil Engineers, for those who don't know it). So today I'm back Talked briefly with a bunch of people and got several to say "he see she" and then individually for me to guess. I am now able to guess at a better than chance rate, whereas before I could just barely hear the sibilants. And I'm told that my rendition of "Swing low, sweet chariot," whose interpretation may be open to question, pretty much gets the right notes.


I misspoke when saying "the badly-processed sound of my right ear." No, the device is working. It's my brain that is not NOW processing the sounds the way I want it to, namely to result in a sound that is closed to what I'm used to. What's important here is that your good ears don't pass sound through to the auditory nerve in a simple linear fashion. Otherwise ten million times as much energy (70 decibels) would hit your brain from a rock concert as from a quiet conversation. When growing up, your brain got trained to take what got through the ear and make it sound, well, like it does sound. We are far from understanding all this, and it's the software that will be getting the upgradings more than the hardware, the chip inside my skull. This means no new operations maybe until after I'm dead.


Are there any critical phrases of learning experts in the house? Come by!


You'll recall the man on the street in Manhattan asking how to get to Carnegie Hall. "Practice, practice." This is what I need now, to retrain my brain. Now since we all know that you are SUPPOSED to take five minute breaks from your work every hour, I invite one and all to come to my office and help me with some exercises. Supposedly, you'll get more work done this way. There's another benefit: as your humble researcher, I'll do a more focused job for you when I get a better grip on the ever-changing, ever subtly-changing educational policies around here. These policies are fundamentally not taught or written down, they are overheard. Overhearing being something I have been terrible at, I don't know what is going on. For instance, I was recently thinking about the prospect of having the 3,007 counties develop their own programs for the gifted. The counties are not inactive in education, I was told. Counties may very well run police, fire, and lost-and-found departments, but schools are run by school districts. Where have you been for the last 25 (actually 22) years?? Not overhearing. On paper, it does indeed seem that there is student, teacher, department, school, district, county, state. The rest of you will pick up that counties don't play a big role because you'll rarely OVERhear talk about counties. I am undersocialized for the same reason, social roles are overheard, not taught. So I can do the wrong thing too much. Also, I spend so much energy trying to get the exact words straight that I will not notice that someone is furious at me!


All this will change. Well, I'll still be me. But I'll be better and better able to help you with my researches as I better and better overhear the policy backdrop upon which we are working. You do need breaks, so come by. We'll work just on my hearing. No talk about education policy! That will go into Sarah's handbag.


 These entries are to my own diary, which I sent to several friends. I copied the gist, if not the words, of part of them to my note to my office on February 12 Monday


2007 February 9 Friday


We just got back from the second visit to my audiologist, following the first one yesterday, in which she activated the device. She says I'm doing great. I'm not sure what I sent you, but I include some things I've sent since activation.


I now have two identical sound processors, with various attachments, in case I should lose one. Actually, I can get a replacement in case of loss, so it's like having to backups and can get repairs for up to three years, in case I drop into the toilet bowl, which Alice did within an hour after getting a cellphone.


I've been given permission to listen to music out of my left ear using my WalkWoman. What Andrea doesn't want me to do is to rely on a hearing aid in my left ear. I should totally concentrate on remapping my soundscape. It will be quite a while till I can listen to music, long after I can make sense of speech. I'm doing a wee-wee bit better with music, in that I can now hear the main melody of the second movement of Beethoven's seventh symphony. (If you ever want to risk getting hooked on classical music, play this movement twenty times!) But not much luck otherwise.


2007 February 8 Wednesday


The external sound processor is about half the size of a pack of cigarettes. I could have gotten one that fits behind the ear, but decided on this one, since it has a minijack that won't wear out by repeated insertions, unlike the much smaller jack in the behind-the-ear model. I'll be plugging in things like my WalkWoman, my computer, stereo, teevee, and the like, just like I do now. This aspect hasn't been activated yet, since my own device didn't come in, and I'm using a loaner at the moment.


I listened to tapes of two Dr. Seuss books, following the text. At last, I know what speech is supposed to sound like. I was then able to understand most of what Sarah was saying, provided I looked at her lips. This is quite a rapid advance, indeed!


There's lots of digital processing in the external device, which is called a speech processor. From the processor is a cord that goes to an external broadcaster about the size of a quarter dollar that is held in place magnetically against the internal device that is just inside my skull. There's an annoying three second delay between my turning on the device and my hearing anything. Also it takes a fraction of a second between the time when sound comes in to the microphone (located on the external device), then is processed, and flows back to the external device, which is received by the internal device, which then moves down the electrode to my auditory nerve. This takes some getting used to!


2007 February 7 Wednesday


On a happy note, my cochlear implant was activated at 10:17 today, making me officially a cyborg. All sixteen electrodes from the chip just inside by skull to the auditory nerve connecting my brain is working, My audiologist at Johns Hopkins, Andrea Marlowe, made initial setting on my sound processor. Everything now sounds weird (though not in any subcultural sense!) and echoes. Just like someone who wears special eyeglasses the make the world look upside down find himself seeing the world right-side up after a few days, the echoes should disappear. Sarah has been helping me learn to distinguish the vowels ahhh, oo, and ee, which I'm slowly grasping but will need considerably more practice. But her success in getting me to distinguish the sibilant consonants s from sh are, so far, is a nearly complete failure, as I scarcely hear anything at all, their being so faint and high-pitched. I think I'll work on other consonants first.


And my hope that listening to pieces of music that I know extremely well and are not very complicated, like the first WTC prelude, are complete failures, at least on day one. It could me several months before I hear better than I did before the operation.


My thanks to those who wished me good luck on the operation. Except for the fact that I hear a noise in my right ear when I shake my head, indicating that the operation has not (yet?) completely healed, everything seems to be a huge success. What I need now are wishes, not for good luck this time, but for HARD WORK!




2007 February 2 Friday 16:46:36 -0500 (EST) To: Andrea Marlowe <>


Frank Forman here: 2007 February 2 (our 39th wedding anniversary)


Dear Ms. Marlowe,


We will be coming up on Wednesday to activate my implant! I'm quite excited. I don't know if I have told you, but I am going to do an experiment of one (1), namely me, by using music, as well as speech, to remap my soundscape. I know the Beethoven Piano Sonatas better than any other music, having listened to recordings of them dozens and dozens of times. Play me five notes, and I know what follows.


My operation was on Tuesday, 2007 February 9. I wrote this the following day to some friends on Wednesday.


I had and still am hearing blood being pumped into my right ear! This was frightening at first. I was told to expect weird noises but not just what weird noises. I woke up about 1 A.M. the day after the operation and heard this beating. Being rather groggy, I thought it might be that the chip in my brain was being activated by my watch or other contraptions. So I put them in another room and quickly went back to sleep. An hour and a half later, hearing the same noises, I thought they might be correlated with my heartbeat. They were. It was most amusing and musical, regular but going up and down the scale a note or two. CCCDCBCC, or CBCBCBCBC, and many, many more all day long. Classical music is full of passages like these, but then comes a sustained note. As long as the music goes up and down, development is taking place, at least if it you don't get CCCDCBCC over and over again too many times or just too many Cs.


I thought for a while that I was directly hearing my heart. Fearing I'd have to have the operation redone, I put off any eating and had Sarah call my surgeon, who found my fears a little amusing. He said the sound would die down in a couple of days. It seems now that, because the ear converts sound to motion (ear drum), thence to the motion of fluid, and finally to electrical impulses that are sent down the auditory nerve to the brain, the fact that my ear is still bleeding means that I'm hearing each beat.


In addition, sometimes I'm hearing faint drum-like sounds, as though hearing something like Bolero!


I was reminded of a passage in Leonard Bernstein's _The Joy of Music_, where his conversationalist exclaims the beauty of the tunes of a particular composer. Bernstein said the miracle of this composer was what he could do with miserable melodies. To contradict him, his correspondent proceeded to sing, with great gusto:




(Each single letter is an eighth note. A double letter is a quarter note. The time signature is 2/4. R is for rest.)


Lenny said this is practically all on one note! He then proceeded to explain how that what mattered is not the melody but what the composer does with it. This particular composer had a greater ability than any other to pick out what the next note ought to be than anyone else, though he struggled with all his might in doing so.


Alas, what I'm hearing in my brain are notes, all of a single beat, not the mixture of eighth and quarter notes as above. I don't think I have heard four different notes. No rest stops, either. I have a most healthy heart, so there is rarely a skipped beat, I'm pleased to report.)


If you recognize this melody, go to the head of your class! I am sorry to have to say this, for this is one of the best known melodies in classical music, but only two percent of record sales in the U.S. are of classical music. In the 1940s, ten percent of Victor's was. Too many teen-agers with too much pocket money and the twilight of authority, to cite the title of a 1975 book by Robert Nisbet that would have exposed children to good music in schools. That's what classical music was called then, and into at least the 1960s, good music.


 I wrote this the following day, Thursday:


The tones in my head died down, alas before I hooked up the keyboard to determine whether I heard note in half-tones, as well as whole tones. (I'm sure I did.) Toward the end, I was hearing two tones per heart beat, so I may very well have heard, but didn't:




But, as Lenny said, it's the notes that follow that count. I've often thought this is a work, such that if you would listen to it carefully a dozen times, you might get hooked on classical music. Two of my correspondents have identified it correctly.




Over the weekend, I felt rather depressed and was apprehensive that my operation did not go well. We saw Dr. Limb on Tuesday. I apologized to him that I had been rather argumentative about how much exercise I could get away with. He accepted the apology immediately. I told him I was glad for his explanations. He had said no jarring motions like running but said further that I should avoid anything that would cause my head to swell and put pressure on my skull, for my implant was right under it. I took this quite to heart, and I became rather skilled in avoiding these feelings of pressure. When I went walking, I would take extra care that the movements of my feet and legs neither caused any tones in my right ear or swelling in my brain. This was also true of my moving objects around or even twisting my body.


Dr. Limb told me I was doing quite well, and I was elated.


Hearing in my left ear was, for a week, quite poor. I would listen to music and barely recognize it. We talked about which ear to operate on. My right ear has the greater hearing loss, but I maintained that I could hear better in that ear, when the sound was sufficiently amplified. This seemed to be massively true, and I feared that if I don't manage to train my right ear to listen to music, I won't be able to enjoy it in either ear. I realize that the sound processor is geared pragmatically for speech, not music, because music involves a far greater frequency range and also because hearing gossip, rumble-bumble at office meetings, and radio preacher is more important than hearing the imperishable truths of Beethoven! Still I was worried.


When we got home, I have received some CDs of the Mozart Sonatas, which are simpler than the Beethoven, and played in a studio a friend of mine, Jan Narveson, who is a philosophy professor at the University of Waterloo, near Toronto. The studio is a concert hall added on to his house. When musicians come to Toronto, they often repair afterwards to his house to enjoy themselves. The pianist is Robert Silverman, whose recordings of the Beethoven sonatas that I will be using to train my brain in my experiment. They are unusually thoughtful performances, and I judge them to be the finest set of the Beethoven cycle since the first three, made in the 78 rpm and mono LP eras. I know these early three cycles well, and it will be fabulous to be able to gradually learn to just hear the music and then to appreciate the subtleties of his interpretations. I realize that I should not cheat and listen to music, or speech, using a hearing aid in my left ear. But--if I get starved for spiritual uplift, I shall listen to them.


The recordings of the Mozart sonatas Jan sent me are the most wonderful present I could receive! They were not made for commercial distribution, as Mr. Silverman may do them again using fully professional recording engineers, but I say that playing for fun at Jan's house with a small audience will be better musically.


The next morning the hearing in my left ear came back! It does vary quite a bit, and on this morning's walk, I could hear the notes of what I was playing (Bach organ music, this time) but could scarcely follow anything. I don't know whether this variation in my ability to follow a piece of music was due to a variation in my (left) ear or to a variation in my ability to concentrate (I have narcolepsy) that was responsible. It could be aging, which does mean that I can no longer do the higher mathematics I once did with ease, but aging is a gradual process, not something that varies. Or is it?


In any case, I am not sure whether any audio tests you could conduct would do other than just tell whether I hear pure tones, as far as following Bach or Mozart or Beethoven goes. You did give me a test for speech discrimination. I got zero words correct, so that didn't tell me anything about my theory that I could hear *speech* better in the right ear, if the volume is sufficiently loud. The world shall have to take sufficient note of the imperishable truths of Beethoven before recognition tests are extended to music.


Now the musical tones that I heard so vividly the day after the operation had indeed died down pretty much completely, though I would move around (usually by twisting my foot inward when walking) so minimize these tones. By the time I visited Dr. Limb for the follow up, I was hardly hearing anything, but later on, and continuing to the present, I do get sounds, though not tones, when my foot comes down sometimes. I fear that I'm not healing!


However, I discovered that when I put a finger in either ear and pull it out, I hear the same sound. It is surely the same sound you hear yourself. I doesn't seem that these two sound are the same. However, I am deaf in my right ear, in the sense that, when I put my hearing aid into it and turn the volume up, I hear nothing. At present, I'm worried. I just have to wait till Wednesday, but if you tell me you're not worried, I won't be either.


I should also report that the tinnitus in my right ear is sometimes quite loud, maybe even louder than it's ever been. I don't know if there are any tests that ask the patient to compare his tinnitus with some signal the audiologist put out, a test that would be quite subjective but not necessarily useless of all that. After all, the notion that every 10 db increase in sound corresponds to a doubling (3.0103, or 10log2, to be exact) of subjective loudness. There's so-and-so's law about this, and I recall reading that this is true for other subjective physiological sensations as well, even to the 10 times objective = two times subjective. I'm sure there are good theoretical reasons for this.




Meme 87: Frank Forman, Cyborg sent 7.1.7


On Tuesday, I will have a cochlear implant operation. This will be a replacement for my right ear. The ear itself turns compressions and rarefactions in the air into electrical signals and feed them into the auditory nerve into the brain. I am an ideal candidate, I am told, but the big test will be how well I'll be able to listen to music. As it happens, my surgeon at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Charles Limb, is one of the few ear surgeons who takes an acute interest in music. These devices are geared pragmatically mostly to speech and incidentally to music (which is much more complex), as though the immortal truths of Beethoven were less important than catching gossip or suffering through rumble-bumble in meetings.


This operation will turn me into a cyborg, a cybernetic organism, that is, a human steered (which is what cyber means in Greek) by computation. Indeed, my perception of the aural world will indeed be steered by the implant. Here's the Oxford English Dictionary's definition:


( {sm} sa {shti} b {revc} {lm} g) [Blend of CYB(ERNETIC a. and ORG(ANISM.]


A person whose physical tolerances or capabilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by a machine or other external agency that modifies the body's functioning; an integrated man-machine system.


1960 N.Y. Times 22 May 31/1 A cyborg is essentially a man-machine system in which the control mechanisms of the human portion are modified externally by drugs or regulatory devices so that the being can live in an environment different from the normal one.


1960 CLYNES & KLINE in Astronautics Sept. 27/1 For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term `Cyborg'. The Cyborg deliberately incorporates exogenous components extending the self-regulatory control function of the organism in order to adapt it to new environments.


1966 C. M. CADE Other Worlds than Ours x. 218 The `Cyborg' {em} which is the name..for animal-machine combinations {em} seems to be the man of the future.


1970 A. TOFFLER Future Shock ix. 185 Advanced fusions of man and machine {em} called `Cyborgs' {em} are closer than most people suspect.


1976 Physics Bull. June 266/1 There is a fundamental limit to the mass for a given rate of information processing... Perhaps even the most advanced cyborgs stop far short of this theoretical limit.


1984 M. AMIS Money 308, I am a robot, I am an android, I am a cyborg, I am a skinjob.


Eyeglasses, pacemakers, cellFones, and artificial hips don't provide this kind of steering, as well argued in Michael Chorost, _Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), which is about the author's experience as growing up hard-of-hearing, suddenly becoming deaf (for reasons still unknown), and his rebirth of hearing through a cochlear implant. There's lots of philosophy mixed in with discussions of the history of the devices and the tale of his own life. I shall be writing a review of it for the Journal of Evolution and Technology after I have experiences of my own to report.


Chorost makes a wise observation: Social rules are overheard; they are not taught. I am not sure when I started losing my hearing, which may have been as early as nursery school, but it is a fact that I have not picked up the subtle social rules others have. I don't know when to back off, either because I don't sense someone getting angry at me (I have to concentrate so hard on getting the words that I miss the nuances) or else don't realize that I run the risk of upsetting others in the first place. Add to this undersocialization the fact that I have spent most of my working life in policy sections of the government, where policy is not written down so much as overheard with (for me) subtle nuances and gestures, and to that add that other people do not want to stop the flow of this subtle communication to repeat, repeat things for me, it might not be a surprise that I was last promoted in 1972.


I'm curious about the extent to which I will at last be learning social rules at my nearly senior-citizen age of 82, the extent to which I will put these rules into effect, and the extent to which my personality is now not very plastic. I often say that I have a "morbid addiction to reality" and consequently won't go along to get along, but this may mean just stubbornness, if not a desire to shock by bringing up things others would rather not think about.


In reality, the brains of primates are big (compared to the complexities of the physical environment) because those that cooperated left more offspring. Cooperation calls for bigger brains. An equilibrium was reached, as the human brain is 2 percent of the body in weight but consumes 12 percent of the calories. This big brain, in humans more than in other primates, is for social cooperation, not for finding out objective facts about the world (where the food is, for example). Humans managed to build up whole civilizations, held together by religious rumble-bumble (true of every religion *except* yours!), since those how swallowed the rumble-bumble were better cooperators and left more children (which has been going on with renewed vigor for the last half century, if I am right).


As it happens, a critical mass of objectivists got going in the small northwest part of the vast Eurasian landmass, starting in Greece, that science has spread throughout the world. (I have written a mean speculating why, called "The Maureen Dowd Theory of Western Civilization," which I can send again.) This critical mass is not enough when you work in government policy units, much as I enjoy being in what Galbraith called "the vortices of seething controversy." We shall see how my career is affected, though I'm near the end of it, realizing that I'm unlikely to be either fired or promoted (too many stereotypes about me, though I don't know what they are. I've asked others to tell me frankly, but it seems that I'm not the subject of much gossip.)


After the signal processor is turned on, one needs to relearn and remap sounds, as those coming from the implant are quite a bit different from those coming from a normal ear. I may have to listen to tapes of Dr. Seuss books over and over again. It may be some months before I will be able to hear better than I had before. I'll be proposing an experiment, which is to listen also to music I know best. This is the Beethoven piano sonatas: if I can hook in to just a few notes, I know what is coming next. Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein observed, had a better ability to find out what the next note had to be, to make it inevitable, than any other composer. So, I'll be using a developing re-ability to hear the Bonn master to hear speech, and vice versa. I am overjoyed to report that the pianist is the Canadian Robert Silverman and his performances are extraordinarily thoughtful. It is the best cycle since the first three (Schnabel, Backhaus, and Kempff), but I know these so well that, though I thrill to them over and over again (at least once a year each), the surprises are no longer so great. With the Silverman recordings, I will indeed know what the next notes will be but not exactly *how* they will be.


The surgery will consist of implanting a receiver, a thin disk about two centimeters in diameter (the size of a quarter dollar) inside my skull above the ear. From it will come sixteen cables that will hook up to the auditory nerve. I'll be completely deaf in that ear, until after a month following the operation, a transmitter about the same size will be placed just outside the implant and turned on. It is held in place as a magnet. The transmitter, in turn, is connected by wire to a speech processor, which takes the vibrations in the air and turns them into bits, a million or so a second.


The sound at first will be quite unnatural. My brain will have to be retrained, though speech exercises, like hearing Dr. Seuss, and by trying to make sense of what people say. After a week the settings will be adjusted, and again after a month, two months, and so on. I asked the audiologist, Angela Marlowe, whether I could work with the software myself and she said fergit it. It is a highly technical skill.


The ear is a marvelous device. An exhibit that used to be at the National Museum of Natural History (but was taken down to make room for "Fossil Café" (groan button)), showed that reptiles had four bones on each side of the lower jaw. When reptiles became warm-blooded, they had to eat ten times as much and the jaw had to be quite a sturdy object to chew all this food. The mammalian lower jaw has only one bone on each side. During the course of this evolution, the extra reptile bones migrated to the inner ear. This allowed the animal to hear much better, as these bones amplify the sound. At the end of the ear, there is the cochlea, a fabulous device, which is able to compress sound before it turns into electric signals. It had better do so, for a rock "music" concert can have ten million times as much energy as a quiet conversation. My signal processor has to do this, too, but these processors so far can only do part of what the cochlea does, since we don't know enough about the ear to mimic it by electronics. Actually, the receiver is so much more advanced than the processor that I won't have the implant replaced, just get the software tweaked or replaced with a new model. It's like the old 78s: there was more sound that got imprinted onto the grooves than could be gotten out by the record players at the time. The first electrical recording (using microphones) of a complete symphony, Leopold Stokowski conducting the New World Symphony in 1925, continued to use tubas instead of bass violins, since the latter would not record well under the acoustic (a retronym, later used for guitars) process. It's a delight to hear this recording today on modern playback equipment. It sounds like a tuba concerto!


As I said, I'll be completely deaf in my right ear, unless and, for a month, until the processor is turned on. So no stereo for me for a while and at least until I can hear music as well in my operated ear as I can now. Many users find that they hear so much better in their operated ear that they don't bother with a hearing aid in the other ear. If I do choose to listen to a stereophonic recording, it will mean that I'll hear far more of the higher frequencies in my right than in my left ear.


So what I've been doing for the last week is making some CD-Rs of stereo recordings, which I detail below. Some of it is music that was contrived with directions in the first place. Other recordings are early ones in exaggerated sound that position the listener in the middle of a string quartet rather than at a respectable forty feet in the audience. I did not include the recordings of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio, for they are available on compact disc. The Beethoven Trios have greater separation than the others (Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schubert) and I bet they were recorded before the authenticity czars (tsars) ordered record companies to stop exaggerating stereophonic separation (just kidding here, but a _fanfare_ reviewer a couple of years backcomplained that a recording of some Mendelssohn quartets by the Talich Quartet suffered from too much stereo separation. I eagerly snapped up the disc, only to find that the separation was tame compared with my signature recordings on early stereo Vox Boxes of the Bartok and Beethoven Quartets!)


Do not wish me good luck. I am told I'm a nearly ideal candidate for the implant. I must not use a hearing aid on my left ear at all, once the implant is turned on, so that I can retrain my brain. But if I develop an uncontrollable spiritual hunger for music, I shall violate the injunction and listen, in my left ear to Silverman's recordings of the Beethoven sonatas.




discs compiled by Frank Forman between 2006.12.30 and 2007.1.6 before his cochlear implant operation on 2007.1.9.


DISC 1: Music for Multiple Orchestras Hermann Scherchen Vienna State Opera Orchestra Westminster WST 17013


Consists of Beethoven: Wellington's Victory Track 1: Battle Track 2: Symphony Track 3: Orff: Entrata Track 4:  Giovanni Gabrielli: Canon in Primi Toni


Bach: Trio Sonatas Baroque Trio of Montreal


(Mario Duschenes, flute; Melvin Berman, oboe; Kelsey Jones, harpsichord) Turnabout cTc 32000, Canadian reissue of a Vox recording These arrangements place the flute on one side, the oboe on the other, and the harpsichord right in the middle. It brings out Bach's way of dividing music among the instruments like no other recording.


Tracks 5-8: In the order they are no the disc, namely, S. 1037, 1038, 1036, and 1039.


DISC 2: Berlioz: Requiem Hermann Scherchen Orchestre du Théâtre National de l'Opęra


Music Guild MS 6201, reissue of Westminster WST 201, but my Music Guild copy is cleaner. It was an early reissue, not the later ones on thinner discs, and I think were from leftover stock.


(Tracks correspond to the side of the discs.)


Track 1: Introit, Kyrie, Dies Irae Track 2: Quid Sum Miser, Rex Tremendae, Quarens Me Track 3: Lacyrmosa, Offertory, Hostias


DISC 3: Berlioz: Requiem (fourth side) Track 1: Sanctus, Agnus Dei


Bach: Musical Offering Wilfried Boettcher Wiener Solisten Bach Guild BGS 5070 Track 1: Ricercar a 3 Track 2: Five canons Track 3: Trio sonata, mvts. 1 and 2 Track 4: Trio sonata, mvts. 3 and 4 Track 5: Five more canons


This is a real sleeper, with a gravity wholly appropriate to the music and never captured better than here. I am amazed that it has not been reissued.


DISC 4: Bach: Musical Offering (end) Track 1: Ricercar a 6


Track 2: Bach: Concerto No. 1 for three pianos Bob, Gaby (Bob's wife), and Jean (Bob's son) Casadesus Eugene ormandy, Philapa Orchestra Recorded 1962.9.12 Odyssey Y 31531, reissue of Columbia MS 6495


Not only is the stereo spread terrific but the far superior piano is used and the playing has an old fashioned vigor.


Track 3: Bach: Toccata No. 2 in c, S. 911 Jean Casadesus Angel 45003 (monaural)


I like Jean (1927.7.7-1972.1.20 car crash) better than Bob. This is a wonderfully clean performance, unlike, so I thought at the time, Glenn Gould's, which sounded excessively congested in the double fugue. As my hearing got worse and I began to listen mostly over headphones, the stereo spread of Gould's recording made me reverse my opinion.


Bach: Toccata No. 2 in c, S. 911 Glenn Gould Recorded 1979.5.15 & 16 Sony SMK 52614 in SM2K 52612 (not sold separately) Track 4: monaural (tracks joined by me) Track 5: stereophonic


Bach, orch. by Ottorino Respighi: Sonata 2 in e for violin and figured bass, S. 1023


Gidon Kremer Maris Yansons Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonic Musical Heritage Society MHS 4434 in MHS 824324 Reissue of Melodiya S10 05584 (1975)


Ottorino Respighi orchestration, which may be otherwise unrecorded, and for Kremer's playing before he left the Soviet Union.


Bach: Sinfonia in D, S. 1045 Same artists and disc.


This is the opening of an unknown cantata. Kremer milks it for the virtuosity of the violin part.


DISC 5: Bartok String Quartets Ramor Quartet Andreas Sándor, Erwin Ramor, Zoltán Thirring, Vera Nógrády Vox SVBX 519


I grew up on this performance, but in mono. I greatly admired my 10th grade math teacher and he commended the Bartok quartets to me. For a while during my final semester of high school, I was listening to them twice a day! When I got to college, my mono recording was replace with stereo ones by the Julliard Quartet, the Hungarian Quartet, and the Fine Arts Quartet, which I could not stand, either for Bartok or Beethoven, though it does a nice job with Mendelssohn. I heard the Amadeus Quartet perform Beethoven during the Tuesday Evening Concert Series at the University of Virginia. They dedicated the concert to a politician, John F. Kennedy, who shortly before staged an assisted suicide, but whose suicide was not appreciated as such until I figured out that he knew he was going to die and did not want to go down in history alongside Millard Fillmore and arranged his assistants to spray around so much contradictory evidence that he would remain of major interest to all those who hold to the Enlightenment hope that reason can solve all problems. (Season tickets cost students $5 for seven concerts. I went for two years. My lifetime spending out of my own pocket on concerts is exactly ten dollars!) Later, I acquired the stereo Vox Box. I don't think it was the memory of my founding recording, which I had not disposed of, that makes it my all-time favorite but rather the extreme stereo spread, where I can hear the genius of Bartok split among the instruments. In the early days of stereo, extreme spread in trying out this new way of reproducing sound. Later on, the powers that be decided that such extreme stereo spread was not "authentic," that the goal of recording was to reproduce the concert experience, not to situate the listener right smack in the middle of the performers, even if this helps him comprehend the music better. The customer is king, I and John Wanamker say. It is the bouncing back and forth among the instruments that makes this my favorite recording.


Tr 1: Quartet 1 Track 2: Quartet 2 Track 3: Quartet 3 Track 4: Quartet 4:1


DISC 6: Bartok Quartets Track 1: Quartet 4:2-5 Track 2: Quartet 5 Track 3: Quartet 6


DISC 7: French String Quartets Loewenguth String Quartet of Paris


Alfred Loewenguth, Jacques Gotkovski, Roger Roche, Roger Loewenguth Vox SVBX 570


I don't think the stereo spread is as great here. The recording were made later into the stereo era, like 1965 and 1966.  The performances may not compete with historical ones on 78s, like the London for the Franck or the Capet for the Debussy and Ravel, while the performances of the Bartok and Beethoven Middle and Late (coming up) do.


Track 1: Franck: 1-2 Track 2: Franck: 3-4 Track 3: Debussy


DISC 8: French String Quartets: Track 1: Ravel Track 2: Fauré Track 3: Roussel


DISC 9: Beethoven Middle Quartets Loewenguth String Quartet of Paris Vox SVBX 543 These, and the Bartok, are first up to my space capsule! Track 1: Quartet 7:1-2 Track 2: Quartet 7: 3-4 Track 3: Quartet 8:1-3 Track 4: Quartet 8:4


DISC 10: Beethoven Middle Quartets Track 1: Quartet 9:1-2 Track 2: Quartet 9:3 (Note the leisurely fugue!) Vox SVBX 543 for Quartet 9 Track 3: Quartet 10:1-2 Track 4: Quartet 10:3-4 Vox SVBX 544 for Quartet 10


DISC 11: Beethoven Middle and Late Quartets Track 1: Quartet 11 Vox SVBX 543 for Quartet 11


Track 2: Quintet Fugue in D, Op. 137 (1917)


Endres Quartet (Heinz Endres, Joseph Rottenfusser, Fritz Ruf, Adolph Schmid), Siegfried Meineke, second viola. This is the most intriguing fragment ever written! Vox SVBX 579


Track 3: Quartet 12:1 Track 4: Quartet 12:2-4 Vox SVBX 544 for Quartet 12 Track 5: Quartet 15:1-2 Vox SVBX 545 for Quartet 15


DISC 12: Beethoven Late Quartets Track 1: Quartet 15:3-5 Vox SVBX 545 for Quartet 15 Track 2: Quartet 13:1-3 Track 3: Quartet 13:4-5 Vox SVBX 544 for Quartet 13 Track: Die große Fuge in Bb, Op. 133 Vox Box SVBX 543 for Die große Fuge


DISC 13: Beethoven Late Quartets Track 1: Quartet 13:6 Vox SVBX 544 for Quartet 13 Track 2: Quartet 14: 1-4 Track 3: Quartet 14: 5-7 Vox SVBX 545 for Quartet 14 Track 4: Quartet 16 Vox SVBX 544 for Quartet 16


Track 5: Beethovens ketzter musikalischer Gedanke (Beethoven's Last Musical Thought) (fragment) (Hess 41). String Quintet in C, transcribed for piano by Willi Hess


Olli Mustonen, piano Recorded 1996.10.10-11 in London RCA 74321 61448 2 It is not essential to hear this in stereo, but I had to throw it in.


DISC 14: Shostakovich: Symphony 5, Op. 47 Track 1: movs. 1-2 Track 2: movs. 3-4 Yvgeny Mravinsky, Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra


Recorded 1978 June 12 in Der großer Saal der Muskivereins Wien Mravinsky's secret is to bring in certain instrument groups, let them rise and then subside. Of all the conductors on the video about great conductors, he was the most exhausting to watch! This is music essential to stereo, more than for any other conductor, even Leopold Stokowski, I think. When I first got this recording, on the Melodiya from my Hungarian friend Lajos Heiner, I was bowled over by the sheer power of the work. Within two minutes, I realized that it simply swept the competition away! Mravinsky conducted the world premiere of the work on 1937.11.21 and made its first recording on 1938.3.27-4.3 in Moscow and issued on 14 78 rpm sides. It is an exceptionally scarce recording, as not even Melodiya has a copy. The BBC, however, played it on 1994.11.15 on Radio 3. The Rogers and Hammerstein Collection of the New York Public Library does have the discs and allowed them to be issued as a bonus disc to BMG (Japan) BOCC 3 (1998), a compilation of many of his early recording. Alas, it is disappointing, as Mravinsky had yet to find his unique voice. In general, the later recordings are better, not only because of sound, but also because of Mravinsky's greater interpretiveness, which is true in so many cases as musicians get older. Think of Scherchen and Gould. One the other hand, pianists lose some of their technique, which makes Backhaus's and Kempff's mono Beethoven Sonata cycle better than the stereo remakes. Both really reached their stride only in their 50s. I find their 78 rpm recordings of the sonatas (only four in the case of Backhaus) much less probing.


Ariola/Eurodisc 300 666 in 300 668-440 (a four stereo LP set)


Brahms: Symphony 2 in D, Op. 73 Track 3: mov. 1


Track 4: mov. 2-3. The broad sweep of the second movement is terrific. Recorded the next day. Ariola/Eurodisc 300 665 in the same box.


DISC 15: Track 1: mov. 4


Tchaikovsky: Symphony 5 in e, Op. 64 Track 2: mov. 1-2 Track 3: mov. 3-4


Recorded on June 12. Ariola/Eurodisc 300 667 in the same box. Mravinsky conducted this work more often than any other. Kenzo Amoh's magnificent compilation, Yevgeni Mravinsky: A Concert Listing, 1930-1987 (Tokyo: The Japanese Mravinsky Society, 2000 December) details 133 performances, three of which with orchestras other than the Leningrad Phil. Second in number of concerts is the Shostakovich 5th (125, with six with other orchestras). Brahms Second is No. 40 on the list (23 performances, all but one with the Leningrad Phil.) He and I (in our Mravinsky Legacy: A Recording Listing, 1938-1984 (Tokyo: The Japanese Mravinsky Society, 2006 January, our latest revision) counts 14 extant recordings, plus a Scherzo on 78s, the most for any work. Better known is the 1960 studio recording, made in Vienna in 1960 and issued by Deutsche Gramophon. I think 1978 recording is the best, better sound and artistic growth by the conductor.


Mravinsky not only had a fabulous technique but, more than any other conductor, even Russian, draws out the fatalistic aspect of the Russian soul. Other conductors play it as if it were a Western European Romantic work. It is in many ways, since Tchaikovsky was no Slavophile, but his Russianness is still very much a part of him--provided he is played by Mravinsky!


Track 4: Palestrina (1525-94): Mass to Pope Marcellus (1567). Theobald Schrems, Regensburg Cathedral Choir, rec. 1961.10.6-7. DGG ARC 73182. It is not essential to listen to this work in stereo, but it was the first stereo disc of Palestrina. There were very few works by composers born before Palestrina recorded on 78s. I listened to the work a lot when I got it in college but rarely anymore. I thrill to it during these rare hearings, the last being 1990.12.2!


DISC 16:


compact them onto two CDs using MP3. So here are some favorites. Now for a change of pace, indeed:


Track 1: Felipe Alonzo Partichela: Mexican Hat Dance (El jarabe tapatío), piano solo arranged by the Conductor. Morton Gould, His Orchestra. Victor LSC 2325, "Music for Frustrated Conductors," which contains a baton. The notes to the disc state, "This is a wild one. The mortality among hats in Mexico must be appalling. Beat the whole thing in 2/4, but look out for a couple of ritards.


The original piano score can be gotten from 0Partichela%20(tab).htm


Track 2: Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-93): Marche Slav (Serbo-Russian) in b, Op.. 31. (1876). "The basis of the composition is formed by two folk melodies different in mood: a sad lingering theme, 'The Sun Doesn't Shine Bright' and a lively dance-like melody, 'Prag e ovo milog srba.' Alexander Lazarov, Orchestre académique symphonique de l'USSR. Melodiya S10-08882. This is not the version we know in the West but rather the Commie version, with the anthem of Imperial Russia replaced with a Serbian tune. I do not know whether other Soviet versions replaced the familiar hymn. [Added 07.5.5: An article on the nearly-forgotten conductor, Konstantin Ivanov, in the current (2007 Spring) issue of Classical Record Collector, notes states: "The _Marche Slav_ comes with _1812_ in Shebalin's version with the Tsarist anthem replaced by the 'Glory' chorus from Glinka's _Ivan Susanin_ (LP D015039, Eterna LP 826236)." This disc is listed in John R. Bennett, _MELODIYA: A Soviet Russian LP Discography_ (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press) as "D 015527/8. S 0959/60." Soviet discs are listed by their side numbers. S is the stereophonic recording. Bennett dates this disc as 1965. I judge it probable that the Glinka was substituted in the Marche Slav as well and was performed on the Lazarov disc. Bennett does not list the disc, but it would have been dated by him as 1978. Bennett gives a Lazarov disc of Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla and the Shostakovich 9th on S 04557/8 (1973). (Lazarev went on to record with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.) The Parnassus Records select catalog, P 340, lists "S 0959/60 S Tchaikovsky: Moscow. ZABORSKIKH, POLYAKOV; ROZHDESTVENSKY. March Slav (Shebalin edition); 1812 Overture. IVANOV, USSR SO. A $10." This is not in Bennett either, but would have dated 1965. This is another backing for my conjecture. My searches on turn up no further verification.]


Tracks 3 and 4: Hummel, Johann Nepomuk (1778-1837): Piano Concerto No. 3 (I think) in b, Op. 89 (1819). Martin Galling, Robert Wagner, Symphonieorchester, Innsbruck. Vox STPL 512.250. Another work I thrill to on hearings rare after college. I last played it in 1989! Jan Narveson is a Hummel fan and urged me to his music by making five cassette tapes for me. It didn't take, which is my loss. We need a composer besides Schubert between Mozart and Beethoven!


Track 5: Bach Toccata and Fugue in d, S. 565: Toccata only. E. Power Biggs (geb. Edward George Biggs, a/k/a P. Blower Baggs). Pedal Harpsichord. Columbia MS 6804. Wilhelm Kempff recorded the Pathetique Sonata nine times and the Moonschein eight. These may be records for recordings by a single artist of an entire piece of music. But E. Power Biggs recorded the toccata part of Bach's best known work (I refuse to buy the view that Bach did not write it, until someone can suggest who did by comparing his other works to this one. His other works, if anywhere nearly as fine as this one, would most certainly be worth knowing.) fourteen times on a late mono LP on fourteen different organs (and the fugue on the last one). I don't know how many times, and on which organs, he otherwise recorded the work, but this is his only recording not on an organ. No pedal harpsichords survive from Bach's day. This one was built by John Challis "some years ago." I'm sorry I lack room for the fugue on this disc, but you get the idea.


Track 6: Bach: Prelude and Fugue in a, B.W.V 894: Prelude only. Zsuzsa Pertis, harpsichord. Hungaraton SLPX 12449 (1983). I avidly sought out recordings of Bach's music, from the harpsichord works onward in the Schmieder catalog, often buying an entire disc just to get something new to my collection. I got to hear artists I otherwise would not have this way. She has made other albums of Baroque composers, but I have not sought them out. You should (I hope!) instantly recognize the prelude, for it was used as the basis for his triple concerto. Too bad I don't have room for the fugue, which is "thoroughly typical of the young Bach. Throughout the whole fugue is an uninterrupted, almost motorized, virtuoso motion of semiquavers.


Track 7: Bach: Triple Concerto in a. Mieczslaw (anyone have a mnemonic to get the spelling down right?) Horszowski, piano; Alexander Schneider, violin; John Wummer, flute, Pablo Casals, The Prades Festival Orchestra (1950). Columbia ML 4352 in SL 161, ten LPs. This is the original issue, with a gold label.


And so this selection of discs essential in stereo comes to an end with a monaural disc! I do wish it were in stereo, with the violin on the right, the flute on the left, and the piano in the middle. Nevertheless, it is a robust performance indeed, and I much prefer the piano for its greater clarity.


E-mail me if you'd like to get duplicates of these 16 essential-in-stereo CD-Rs.




I had a cochlear implant on 2007 January 9. It was activated on February 7, making me a cyborg, that is, part computer, part human. It is a replacement for the ear and fits behind and above the ear in the brain. From this chip runs an electrode with 16 wires that go straight through the inner ear (called the cochlear, which in my case is badly damaged) and attach directly to the auditory nerve of the brain. Outside the body is a transmitter that holds on magnetically. There's a cord connecting the transmitter to a sound processor, a piece of hardware, in my case 2.7" x 0.9 " x 2.5" (70 mm. 20 mm. x 60 mm.). This takes sound from a microphone, which in my case is in the same little circular 1.2" round and 0.4" deep (30 mm. x 10 mm.) that houses the transmitter.


This chip is the most advanced piece of electronics that is being placed inside a human. Unlike a pacemaker, it gets sensory information from the outside world, which is why I don't regard wearers of pacemakers as cyborgs. The chip has only about the power of an Intel 80286 chip, but the sound processor is considerably more advanced.


The sounds coming in are quite unnatural. Everything echos. All voices are high pitched. The music scale is badly off, with rising instead of falling notes, and vice versa, and jumps all over the place. BUT, the brain adapts. The echoes died down pretty much in the first week.


The normal ear doesn't hear the real world truly, else the output of a rock "music" band would strike the auditory nerve ten millions times as loud as a normal conversation. We don't know that much about how the ear works, and the speech processor is only an approximation. My case may be quite an interesting one. Unlike most hard-of-hearing people, I'm a keen lover of classical music, even though I started losing my hearing about the third grade. One good thing about classical music is that you listen to pieces many, many times over, and so know what's coming next. Maybe struggling to get music straight will help me get speech straight, even though music is much more complex. The speech processors are made pragmatically for speech, not just because speech is simpler, but on the theory that being able to discern gossip, rumble bumble at staff meetings, and radio preachers is more important than the imperishable truths of Beethoven!


And as a student of our evolutionary past and how it impacts our current psychology, I think I'll have some good ideas to share, among them being that we learn social rules by overhearing rather than being taught. And our primate brains are big so that we can cooperate--going along to get along--rather than to see the world objectively. As it happens, in the so-called real world (which we don't directly hear), I am in a world of overhearing to an acute degree, namely in the policy unit at the U.S. Department of Education. I can't overhear the subtleties of policy and so largely do research for those who can. (Besides my politics are closer to Messrs. Jefferson and Mencken than liberal or the current crop of Rockefeller Republicans.) So my thoughts here should be of interest also. Fully realize, though, that I rarely try to judge others but instead try to understand them, in their own concrete situation and as part of the evolutionary picture.


This is a running diary, with the most recent entry at the top. You may have already seen the more recent entries. In reverse order, Part One is this introduction. Part Two is a general essay I wrote before the operation and has as much to do with classical music as anything else. Part Three covers the month between the operation and activation. Part Four, not labeled, covers the period since activation and continues.