Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

Happy Holiday Greetings to all of my friends and loved ones;

I have not sent a Christmas letter in 5 years or so, and I refuse to do so now—except to those who are querulously non-social and refuse social media, and in some really peevish cases, eschew email altogether.  Instead, I’m posting my Christmas letter. If you are reading this now, it is because you wish to.  And that’s the way I like it.

Let’s keep this short.  I moved to Los Angeles in May/June 2011, leaving behind my condo in Seattle which had become a millstone around my neck.  With the hope that it would sell for what I owed, I left the land of gloom and rain for sunnier climes. 

I was able to land a job within 6 weeks of arrival.  In retrospect that was as risky I have ever been—as I had only one job interview and one offer, the one I accepted.  I am information processing with the Law Firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, an international LLP with over 3000 attorneys which I and my 24 co-workers support.  So that was a good thing.  In the 2 and a half years I’ve been here we’ve been involved in a number of cases of international and national importance, including Apple, Inc. v. Samsung, and Perry v. Schwartzenegger/Brown/ Hollingsworth, which went to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Currently I live in beautiful Arcadia, California.  I don’t get to enjoy the sunshine much as I’m working harder than I ever have in my life.  Apparently my “retirement” happened between 45 and 55, a fact that I was quite unaware of at the time.

I’ve started a new business in narrating audiobooks.  I have several books under my own name ‘Michael Hacker’ which can be digitally downloaded to your PC, tablet or smartphone from Audible.com.  I also have a number of romances which are narrated under my pseudonym Lyn Madden, however, only “On with the Show” and the “The Gift” are g-rated so be warned.

Finally I’m delighted to say that my move has resulted in much better health and well-being.  I’ve now lost a total of 32 pounds and I’m back to my late-90s weight.  My goal is 225, which will be my college graduation weight.  However, I’ll be satisfied with 235, my weight before I stopped smoking in 1986. 

On a sadder note, I had to say goodbye to my sweet Molly Hamster, who developed late stage lymph cancer this past September.  I shall never forget our last night together.  She woke me up at 4 AM—even as ill as she was, she was still mindful of her training.  We went into the back yard, and she sat looking at the stars for the longest while, in perfect stillness.  I pray she was content.

Feel free to drop me a line or call if you would like more specifics regarding any of the above.  Although sunny and warm in lovely SoCal, I left all my friends behind in Seattle, and it’s been hard to make new ones given my schedule. 

Was that short?  I hope so.

Best wishes for a truly blessed Christmas,

Love, Mike

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Last month I took the introduction to ProTools course at Citrus College.  After 8 3-hour classes my head was spinning.  I received good value for my money, but my questions about gear were still not being answered in a decisive way.  My question, would a preamp and analog microphone work better for my audiobook recording than a USB microphone? was met with a resounding "maybe."  The preamp that was recommended was the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.  But the microphone?  All I knew was that I needed a cardiod condenser microphone (some say 'Large Diaphragm', but others say, it isn't necessary.

Finally, the illimitable Pat Fraley answered my question in his terse email manner.  Good old Pat is not terse in person, but his time is valuable, and so he communicates with the fewest words possible and still get his point across:
An USB is not good enough
You need a better mic and a digitizer.
For mic...step up to this:
Neumanns are the Rolls Royces of microphones.  Even at $700, this model is the introductory model.  However, getting the microphone first is putting the cart before the horse.  Even if I were to acquire the Neumann tomorrow I would still need a preamp (what Pat calls a digitizer.  He's a Mac guy).

Guess what I discovered today?  A brand new studio package from Focusrite called the Focusrite iTrack Studio, which includes preamp, monitor headphones, microphone cable and a "studio quality condenser microphone."  Check it out.

This is the same company that produced the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, referenced above.  It only has one channel, but I only need one.  But the BEST PART?  It's compatible with both PC, Macintosh and iPad.  That's right, it will allow me to record on my iPad.  Should I ever want to do that.  The iTrack solo alone is only priced $100 less than the Studio package.  That extra $100 includes the microphone, cable, and headphones.  I need the preamp anyway; so I'm going to give this some serious thinking.  The package is due out in September 2013 (a little month away).  I'm excited.  This will give me an opportunity to practice with a side-address microphone and who knows?  Maybe the quality of my recordings will improve.  Little by little the gear improves.  I'll wait to get the Neumann until I really, really need it (i.e., when a contract requires it).

Sunday, March 10, 2013


πληρόω (plēroō). fill, make full · finish, complete · fulfill.

Some writers and critics suggest that St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, invoked a distinctly Gnostic concept of the fullness of God (pleroma).  (Elaine Pagels, Princeton University). 

Apparently there's a connection here to Greek philosophy in its reference to the substance of life beyond the merely phenomenological, i.e., a spirit.  Perhaps even the holy spirit?

In a way, and I hope I tread lightly on sensibilities here, this pouring out of the fullness of God seems to symbolically link with the figure of Aquarius, the water bearer, who pours out his vessel eternally in the heavens.  And as any new-ager knows (or any theater goer for that matter), we are at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

The Age of Aquarius is an astrological age, [an astrological age] shifts roughly every 2,150 years. It’s defined by the sun’s position at the time of the March, or vernal, equinox. The Age of Aquarius begins when the March equinox point moves out of the constellation Pisces and into the constellation Aquarius. But there’s no definitive answer as to when that will be.