The Oracle of Apollo Snippets from the life of Apollo Lee

Returning to the Water

Today, for the first time in about 23 years, I got back in the water. After a grueling week a few weeks ago, I managed to acquire plantar fasciitis in my right foot, an inflammation of the tissue that connects my heel with the ball of my foot. Since I was used to running a couple of times a week, the painful heel removed one of my main endurance workouts. I thought, for a couple of reasons, I should substitute swimming so that I can work on my endurance, do something other than kettlebell exercises, and get back in the water.

I scheduled a session with a professional swimming teacher on the Peninsula, some 12 miles from my house. Other than my instructor, I was by far the oldest person in the pool this afternoon. With a half hour session, we worked on a few skill transfer exercises and I was able to remember how to swim right away. More than two decades of being intimidated by the water are gone. I went to the lap swim pool to work on my skills, but having done CrossFit for more than five years made it easy for me to construct cues in my mind about all the little things to remember when swimming basic freestyle. I continued after my lesson for another half hour in the lap swim pool, practicing (sometimes failing) the front stroke and breathing without swallowing a mouthful of water.

I’m still doing CrossFit and I’ve recently passed my five year anniversary, but with plantar fasciitis, I have to substitute a lot of WODs with something that doesn’t kill my heel. Swimming a couple of times a week will also make me more confident when I go kayaking. I can even take up other aquatic sports, like sailing or paddle-boarding.

Like most things in life, this adventure seemed a lot more scary in my mind than it turned out to be. We all have a swirling quagmire of our personal mythology in our heads, reaching back years into our individual pasts. Sometimes, we need a reminder that we’re always free to edit it and even work on discontinuing entire chapters.

Four Years of Digeum Mix Sessions

A little more than four years ago, Jay Def and I started posting our mixes on, about three years after an abandoned attempt to start a podcast. This set of mixes, dubbed Digeum Mix Sessions reached the grand finale of Volume 8 (26 mixes, A – Z, per volume) yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, in downtown Boise, Idaho, we did a tag team mix for over two hours. Each of us debuted a brand new track. It was wonderful mixing with Jay again, laying down stomping electro house grooves with my best friend. It was our 208th mix in 209 weeks. This seems like as good a place as any to call a time out, especially since 208 is Idaho’s area code. Jay Def and I met in the 208. 208 mixes are on Digeum, featuring almost two weeks worth of music.

A few months ago, we discussed putting Digeum Mix Sessions on hiatus to figure out what’s next. With increasing commitments and projects in my future, it’ll be difficult to maintain the schedule we’ve held for the last four years. While I’m contemplating the future, I’ve really enjoyed these last four years. I’ve felt closer to the music than I have in years. I’m excited and optimistic about what’s next.

I’ve had a blast bringing this music to you every week. I’m really grateful to have shared this journey with Jay. Thank you, Jay. You’re the best.

One Giant Example for Mankind

This past weekend, Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82. 18 months or so before I was born, he became the first human to walk on the Moon, the first time a person stood on any celestial body beyond our atmosphere.

We’ve lost one of the good ones, one of our heroes — reluctant though he may have been to wear that mantle. It was precisely his humility and modesty that makes us so lucky that he made this milestone. He did his job, ducked out of the celebrity spotlight, and quietly went about his life on his own terms. All the tributes I’ve listened to or read in the last couple of days made a point of mentioning his lack of ego.

“I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work.” —Neil Armstrong, interviewed on 60 Minutes: First Man (CBS News, 2005)

The statement from his family speaks volumes about the type of man he was. For those of us who never met him, but find ourselves inspired by his famous walk on the Moon and his legendary humility, we find ourselves gazing upwards tonight in remembrance.

“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Thank you for your service, Commander. You’ve inspired us all to follow our dreams. Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong. None of us will ever forget you.

A Dozen Years of Blogging

Today is the twelve year anniversary of this blog. I’ve said very few things here that anybody outside of a very small group of people would find very interesting.

I am refactoring the way I handle my blogs and my twitter accounts. I tend to post boring things on an almost obsessive-compulsive schedule. It’s lazy and my blog should have more interesting content.

I’ve spent long periods of time ignoring this space. I’ve spent other periods of time inundating the Oracle with copy & paste posts that chronicle my workouts or my mixes or some other bullshit nobody’s really that interested in.

One of my goals for 2012 is to learn how to blog. It seems like a strange thing to say for someone who’s been at it since New Year’s Day 2000. But, there’s a big difference between knowing how to post to a blog and how to make one that other people want to read. Let’s see if we can learn that second part, shall we?

If you have me in your RSS feed reader and you’re a blogger yourself, I’d love to hear any advice you might have. How did you get started? How do you keep writing interesting content year after year?

New Music in 2011

I’ve been goofing around with writing music for the last three years since I finished 53 tracks in 2008. I have tons of saved files on my computer from hours of playing with music I never completed. In July, I threw it down with my new APC40 and started finishing tracks again.

I thought I could do one a week, but soon realized that building an audience for a new track a week that has no lyrics or voices is difficult even for an established musician. A track a week would simply be too much. Twelve a year seems like a good output for now.

So, my friends, I am pleased to present you with the 2011 collection.

Apollo Lee – Amorphous Conversations

  1. Do It Anyway
  2. Walk in the Dark
  3. Old Secondhand Diamonds
  4. Squalid Euphoria in a Petri Dish
  5. Reductio Ad Absurdum
  6. Gyrating Continuum
  7. Patterns in the Shed
  8. Amorphous Conversations
  9. Analog Dragons
  10. Specters at the Door
  11. Rings of Endeavor
  12. Electric Reverie

RIP Steve Jobs

I’m unbelievably sorry, Steve, that I haven’t lived up to my passions and potential. With your passing, I feel like I have more of an impetus to run down my dreams with the gas pedal on the floor, like you did with every breath of your life. I’ve seen your Stanford commencement about 12 times, found myself inspired every time, and dreamed of having a millionth of your impact. I haven’t chased the dream, Steve, like you instructed us all to do. I’ve been complacent and lazy.

I feel I owe you, of all the people in the world, the most heartfelt apology for this lack of effort. You didn’t create this astonishing operating system or these amazing tools for the Lazy Ones. You didn’t approve this MacBook Pro so I could noodle away the hours looking at fail videos on YouTube or reload Facebook over and over.

So, I’m going to resolve, in your memory, to get to work. After all, you made all this so I could have a vehicle to shine with and a means to share that passion with the world. I can’t pick up your standard, but you didn’t expect me to. You gave me the tools and the inspiration to pick up my own. How dare I give back anything less than my very best effort?

Thanks for the tools, Steve, the inspiration, and the example. The world is less without you in it. Rest in peace.

Three Years of Mixing

It’s been three years since Jay Def helped me launch Digeum Mix Sessions. Of all the blogs I post to, I’ve kept up with that one with nearly religious adherence, both to my weird little schedule and to the timely posts that bring that music to all five of our listeners (heh).

In three years, we’ve uploaded 156 mixes. That’s ten days of music, played continuously. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, but it is quite a bit of fun. I hope we’re offering up mixes that some of you enjoy.

My goals for my contributions to Digeum over the next year:

  1. Spend, at most, three hours a week on a regular basis on Digeum — selecting tracks, doing the voiceover, doing the mix, uploading it and announcing it. This will prevent time gaps that cause multiple mixes in the same week.
  2. Figure out how to increase the audience for this project. It’s quite fun, especially when I’m mixing one of my own songs into a track by an artist I really admire.
  3. Concentrate on writing as many new tracks as possible, focusing on preparing for a live set of all original music.
  4. Pick a night of the week to do the weekly Digeum mix, just for my own scheduling purposes. (Not an unbreakable night, just a target for my own mixes.)

Tonight’s mix will be the inauguration of these goals. We hope you’ve enjoyed some of these mixes (and if you haven’t yet, they’re all available for download and there’s even a master list).

Three years seems like it passed in a flash. Thanks, Jay, for joining me on this amazing journal. Thanks, everyone else, for listening.

Digeum Mix Session 05R

It’s been a while since my marathon of mixes at the end of 2010. It’s about time to get back on the horse.

I felt like pulling the tempo back to 121 today (hey, that’s 11 squared, right?) for this binary day mix. I’ve been mixing a lot of tech house, minimal techno, and electro lately. Let’s go jazzy and soulful today.

Some of these tracks are pretty new to me and some of them are tunes I’ve had for a decade or more. Slowing it down and letting the music find a relaxed groove is like savoring really fantastic dark chocolate. It amazes me sometimes how well a track from 1997 will work with one from a decade later.

Digeum Mix Sessions – Volume 05, Session Romeo — Five Aces. Mixed by Apollo Lee in Sunnyvale, California, USA, on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Running time: 1:18:51. Tempo: 121 bpm.

Go give it a listen and leave a comment with your thoughts.

How to Ring In the New Year

I moved to California on June 1, 1999. I spent New Year’s Eve every year since, except the one a few days ago, at a club under a disco ball ringing. This year, I wanted something different.

I’ve been seeing a really wonderful person and we decided it would be much more fun to escape quietly and explore some new place neither of us had been to. How you ring in the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. Maybe hanging out in a room full of drunken strangers paying $40 to listen to a DJ we’ve already heard 100 times before isn’t the tone to set.

On December 31, we departed in the early afternoon from San Francisco, ate a wonderful dinner in Mountain View at my favorite sit-down Mexican restaurant, and drove south on 101 to Buellton, California, where Sideways was filmed. After going to bed shortly after the stroke of the New Year, we explored the absolutely unforgettable town of Solvang, a small Danish town in Santa Barbara County. After spending most of the day checking out all the little shops, we zipped down to Santa Barbara, had a nice dinner, and returned to Buellton.

On January 2, we drove up the coast to Hearst Castle and took the first tour, despite a windy, cold torrential downpour. Neither of us had ever been to Hearst Castle and it was beyond gorgeous. Unfortunately, my own lack of research messed up the next step: lunch. The idea of grabbing a quick lunch on the road in Big Sur fell flat, because there’s no town of Big Sur. Literally, there are two hard-to-spot cafes on the side of the road in an 11 mile stretch of highway 1.

After we arrived in Carmel, 25 miles away, we were both starving and extremely grumpy. That’s when we discovered the most annoying thing in the world: no restaurant (or at least none of the SIX we attempted to eat at) in Carmel is open at 3:30 in the afternoon. A couple of locals referred to the it as a “sleepy little town.” Sorry, Carmel. If you have a Sak’s Fifth Avenue downtown and a bevvy of Italian restaurants and a huge population of famous residents, you’re not a sleepy little town. (Note to potential travelers, when driving north to Hearst Castle with the intention to continue to San Francisco, stop in Cambria [pop. 7000] or San Luis Obispo [pop. 40000] and eat lunch there. They have things to eat at Hearst Castle, if you don’t mind paying $8 for what amounts to a slice of frozen Safeway pizza.)

After a snack in Carmel and Chinese food in Monterey, we were back on the road with the grumpiness subsiding. It was a spectacular trip that involved 750 miles on the road, 4 miles walking, and a little too much spending on my part. But, every moment was worth it.

Disco balls, drunken amateur partiers, and DJs? Sure, on January 28 or March 17, or some time. New Year’s is when you should do something new, something fresh, to start your new year on an adventure.

I can’t wait to get out on that road again. Can you?

Eleven Years at the Oracle of Apollo

Seems like only yesterday that we made note of the ten year anniversary of this site. Here it is, another year later.

My resolution this year is to average at least a post a week.

Lots have happened in my life since I started this blog on January 1, 2000. There have been gaps and the temptation is strong to go back through my various online presences, reposting or blogging events in the past.

Instead, we’re just going to march on from here. Let’s dance.

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