Thursday, September 14, 2023

Bats...bats....these experiences

This morning, while taking my son to school, I got a call from my friend Chad Benefeld, who also is the top notch radio personality at WBKR. He wanted to know about my experiences with bats....well, of course.

I certainly have to add that one of the first experiences of a bat in my house involved my mother. I believe we were out of town and my mother and children had quite a time! However, that story has not been documented. It resides only as folklore.

Here is the interview along with much of the evidence!

Bat hanging from the top wall 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Introduction to my Facebook Page:

 I wanted to take a minute to say hello to new page followers (welcome and thank you!) and to give you an idea of what this is all about.

I've thought about creating this specific page for several years, and obviously moved forward with that idea. Let me first say that the new Facebook page is not about hustling or making money. I've maintained a web presence since the early 2000s and simply have evolved with my inspirations, ideas, and projects. I'm looking for this page to be an extension of my website . You can get a lot of info about me there if you'd like to know more about me and my work (career, hobbies, interests).

Like most people I use the internet and social media for consumption, and also for displaying "things" I produce. My first foray into the production of content was generally through the use of this blog service, Blogger. I've maintained a personal blog off and on since the early 2000s. That evolved into several blogs, including some for classes I teach. I ventured into web design and later Facebook and Twitter. I was a heavy Twitter user for a few years but that use has very much waned. Early on I was optimistic about the type of networking that Facebook could afford. This is something I speak about a lot in my Sociology courses. I became well versed in the use of these networking apps and cloud computing, and have provided many trainings, conference presentations, and provided web design for several organizations and projects. Web presence and identity have been on my mind for well over the past 15 years. I'm very interested in the use of these services for information dissemination, for personal identity management, for networking, and the impacts of these behaviors and services on society.

The most important "job" I have though is as a father. My wife and I have four children, and I have been fortunate to have an occupation and workplace that supports the attention and involvement I choose to have with my children and family. I'm also very mindful of how I spend my time, and have found the use of the web and social networking and media applications to be a sort of medium of communication in an otherwise heavily scheduled personal life. As our children continue to grow, it then provides more time for me to engage in personal endeavors. I made the conscious decision many years ago to maintain my personal digital narrative. I do that through my website (and its links to YouTube, Prof G Entertainment Services, my photography work, and other web spaces), through off and on use of this blog, and through social networking and media applications.

I believe that web tools serve particular interests and projects better than others, and at different times. Frankly its evolving, and has been since web 2.0, which introduced the consumer as the producer in the web. However, the optimism of networking I found with Facebook didn't quite materialize in the manner in which I hoped. In a round about way that is what has culminated in the launch of this new Facebook page. 

One intention of my participation with the web has been to reach people with content and information. Most people that do produce content, whether it be a Facebook post or a ground breaking investigative journalism article, do so to be heard. A major reason of creating the new Facebook page is that a page affords me more opportunity to reach people. There simply are limits to that with only a personal Facebook account. 

I previously mentioned that the new page is not for hustle or for making money, but I'm not ruling out those opportunities. This comes from experience with my side business at Prof G Entertainment Services. That thought, that project, that hobby materialized into something I never planned, expected, or imagined. I'm always open to ideas and opportunities. I look forward to sharing those with you.

So, I do welcome you and I'm happy you came along for the ride. Facebook still provides opportunities to reach people, to share your ideas and work, to connect and engage, and to network. I look forward to doing more of that with you.


Chad Gesser

Saturday, April 8, 2023

A step into spatial audio

 How I got here

First off, I don't get here without my decision to dive into sound and music production with computers and related technology in mid 2010. Around that time I became interested in modern, electronic music. While walking for exercise and wearing over the ear headphones, I discovered a very unique sonic experience I had not heard before. I remember being struck by my perception of the music in my mind.

I then began to consider music produced historically with these considerations, and I realized that the Beatles were one of the first bands to use stereo recording techniques. I also discovered that if I listened to Rush with headphones, that I could flip them and imagine sitting on the drummer's throne and having a better understanding of how Neil Peart played his set. 

Like most studio produced music, that music was produced from the vantage point of the engineer, not of the musicians. I was particularly interested in this because I taught myself how to play drums in my late teens but always noticed that when listening to most music produced from the 1970s-1990s, the instruments seemed to be "flip flopped" in the sound field.

A very important part of my early sound/music/DJ process and my modern sound/music production is the use of Ableton Live. Fast forward now to 2023 and I have discovered the recent capabilities with Envelope for Live, ambisonics, and the Surround Panner effects. These features allow me to better create more complex and immersive soundscapes.

Very recently too I also discovered the work of Prof. Michael Wagner, who is an expert in ambisonics. Given the equipment needs, the creation of a true ambisonics environment is currently out of my realm of possibility. Reviewing and researching similar sonic phenomena, I soon realized that I could though create a similar environment with my existing sound equipment. I conducted a brief test of a configuration, and once my son told me it "feels like the sound is passing through me," well I decided it was worth an effort to scale this beyond the headphone and vehicle experience as a potential project in the community.

I decided to go public with the possibilities of this project. I was surprised by the positive feedback I received, and I was encouraged to continue the effort. And as a result, I was approached by the Owensboro Museum of Science and History about an immersive experience, including an installation for Earth Day.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King, Jr. as a student

Fun fact about Martin Luther King, Jr. While a student at Morehouse College, Dr. King majored in Sociology. Here are courses in Sociology that he took as part of his bachelor's degree.

-Introduction to Sociology
-Contemporary Social Trends in America 
-Social Anthropology 
-Social Institutions
-Social Legislation 
-Seminar in Sociology 
-Principles and Methods of Statistics 
-Seminar in Sociology 
-Intercultural Relations


Friday, January 7, 2022

Music playlists commemorating my 50th birthday

As I approached my 50th birthday in 2022, I had an idea of creating an anniversary playlist commemorating important songs and music in my life the past 50 years. Music has been a very important part of my life. As I thought about this playlist I began to realize that there were specific times in my life and a musical playlist that marked it. It's been a joy to create this and to look back on the music in my life. I'm also very happy to be able to provide this to my children so they know what music has moved their pop!

I present the playlists below in this order because it's the style of music which I currently listen. I also present a brief paragraph introducing each playlist. While some songs appear in a playlist I have to say that some of these songs I don't listen to much anymore. In particular the rock and roll playlist. Those songs were quite relevant to me as a late teen and into my 20s but I developed other interests outside of rock and roll. The very last playlist is all playlists into one, a nice 50 hour playlist. And I didn't even plan that.

I've been very thorough in creating these playlists. I include these particular songs for one or more reasons:

1. they have lyrics that have been important to me
2. the music has really moved me
3. the songs symbolize something in my life which I resonated with

The songs in each playlist are in no particular order.

The playlist below is the shortest of the ones presented. I present it first though because these particular songs and artists have been inspirational to me since 2010 as I began and have grown as a computer based musician and DJ. I gravitate to ambient and chill music when I work and when I compose my own music.

The playlist below ranks second because this style of music and these songs are what I also listen to most these days. The playlist contains songs that I listened to as a young child but also songs that I've come back to as a result of my affinity for New Orleans and New Orleans funk. 

The following playlist is probably the most important. I became enamored with the Grateful Dead and other bands of the 1960s late in high school (1989-1990). These songs have particular relevance to my personal philosophy and my love for improvisation jamband music. I come back to this music often.

The following playlist contains much of the New Orleans funk I came to know and love while I lived there from 1998-1999. After diving into NOLA music I would return to New Orleans each year for a decade for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Over these years I discovered music similar to that NOLA funk but from outside of New Orleans.

My interest in bluegrass began in earnest during the early Bluegrass Music Festival days on the riverfront of the Ohio River. My fiance at the time and wife of 20+ years came together through bluegrass music. It became something of a style of music where we bonded. This playlist includes other music too, all very important to me in my early to late 20s (1990s).

My interest in world music came about after discovering Mickey Hart's work with world music. That coincided too with my interest in Sociology and global cultures. Around this time I found great joy in playing drums and owned several world drums. These songs were important as a self taught percussionist. My attention to rhythm and patterns also helped me to better understand Sociology. I came across most songs in this list beginning in the early 1990s.

My interest in Mexican music was because I lived and studied there for half a year in 1996. It's so interesting to look back on this because I never anticipated a love for the Mexican style. After returning to the states I found myself pursuing more of the genre of cumbia. 

The last playlist is probably where my early memories of loving music began. I have two older brothers and they introduced me to rock and roll. While I still listen to some of these songs rock and roll now is not my preferred genre of music.

This very last playlist is the one playlist that contains songs from all the previously mentioned playlists! Ironically, it's just over 50 hours of music.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Introduction to Sociology: lecture videos

I've decided to make public and available all of my Introduction to Sociology lecture videos that I've made since the beginning of the pandemic. These are produced, directed, etc by me. They are intentionally basic and not flashy. YouTube playlist is below (28 videos).

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Covid-19 data analysis wrap up

I began tracking covid-19 when it first became visible in Kentucky in March of 2020. I began tracking this data to make informed decisions for my family and anyone else that felt it of value. Early on I used covid-19 data based on official media reports from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. In those early weeks there were no local entities providing reliable information to the public and there was little by way of offering good public health advice.

Since March 2020 many institutions and academics around the United States and the world have recognized the need for collecting good data and making it available to the public. While early on we did have some state and county level information, I recognized that covid-19 was having different impacts from locality to locality. While it was important to have information from the national and state-level, I felt it necessary to not only have local data but to have an understanding of that data. Simply put, what was happening in New York or Florida was not necessarily happening in Owensboro-Daviess County.

In the spirit of openness and transparency I created a Facebook page on May 17, 2020: Owensboro: Managing Covid-19. I initially began that page to collect peoples’ stories about how they were managing covid-19. I was transparent about my intentions to collect that information as historical record and for students in my future sociology courses. Soon thereafter I decided to start publishing my data analysis on that Facebook page to make it completely accessible to the general public.

It's my experience in Owensboro-Daviess County that we often times do not seek quality data and we also do not always make decisions based on quality data. This issue can be found not only in the general public but within organizations and institutions and how they communicate or do not communicate with the general public. Unfortunately I find that data analysis of the type that I provided is not valued in the community.  

Given that the availability of data has come so far over the past year and any person interested in learning more about new cases and trends can access data, today I’m announcing that I am going to scale back my efforts of providing this data analysis to the Owensboro-Daviess County community. Given the rate of increase of vaccinations and the increased availability of good information, I feel the local general public is at a better position to be better informed as we continue to work to manage covid-19.  

I firmly believe that in order to make good decisions we need good data. Good data may not satisfy a political viewpoint but good data can help us make good decisions. We did and still do have an opportunity to understand our local dynamic and make better decisions for ourselves. Making better decisions not only involves the physical health of individuals, but also the mental health and economic well being of our community. We are better off when we make decisions based upon good information rather than the political winds that may blow. Those political winds blow in schools, businesses, elected offices, and even in the healthcare community.

The United States currently has an administration that is providing more focus on making data available to the public and focusing on public health science. As a result there are many websites that not only report national data, but there's very good data on many websites even about the local level. These topics range from testing, test positivity, new cases, number of tests, hospital admissions, ICU occupation rates, and more.

As always, if you need any assistance on better understanding this type of data, feel free to contact me. If I can't answer your questions I can help point you in the right direction to get the best information available. The best information might not reveal what you want to hear, but it will give you a better handle on the truth.

As of this posting below are two websites with a wealth of data:

CDC Covid Tracker

Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center

Friday, December 18, 2020

Some thoughts on the social psychological impact of 2020: emotional dehydration and collective trauma

I've been on something of a rollercoaster of experiences the past several months and it's given me pause to think about the social psychological impact of 2020. Given the breadth of impact I think just about anyone can find something to relate to in these ideas.


Earlier this summer, after spending several months already in a form of lockdown, it struck me that I was feeling a sense of illusion. I recall discussing this with my immediate family. They too echoed similar sentiments. “Things just seem weird.” 

For all intents and purposes I’ve been a professional Sociologist for almost 25 years. I’ve spent that time doing research and in academia. I have a good eye for understanding social experiences and how they impact the sense of self. This sense of “feeling weird” was a sensation, if you will, I found unique. I found it to be beyond a similar term in the field, “anomie.”

Particularly since March 2020, there has been so much for mindful people to absorb. I say “mindful people” because I believe the psychological impact of the many stressors experienced as a result of covid-19, social unrest, and matters related to the presidential election has hit mindful people more deeply than those that live life largely with blinders. Given the limitations of my willingness to explore that in depth in this piece, let’s throw all of these largely external stressors into one bag. Now, let’s set that bag to the side knowing there is much in that bag that affects who we are. It indeed has been a very tough year for everyone.

Memory and sense of self

So much of our sense of self, even our own reality, is anchored by our memories and the patterns of our behavior. Our actions and behaviors in everyday life serve to establish the pattern of our self. In sociological social psychology there is much to be said about social experiences that impact and sustain the self. It is amidst this process of socialization where I began to find answers to why “things just seem weird.” The impact of all the stressors “in that bag” has been to chip away at the memories rooted in our psyche. While this December the holiday season will result in a sadness we have not experienced, it is also a very common experience. Mindful people will adhere to public health guidance, and many of us will not see family in our common place of gathering for the first time in our lives. The holidays this year will seem quite “weird.” They will feel that way because how we will celebrate will be far different than what our memories will remind. 

Guardrails for life

Over time our everyday habits serve to establish guardrails for our lives. These everyday experiences serve to give us perspective into our own reality. Thus the life I live over the course of a day, of several days, of a week, of several weeks, and so on firmly establish my guardrails and sense of reality. For most people this makes life comfortable. Life is predictable. It’s a stability of living. 

When guardrails fall apart nearly overnight this can be characterized as an experience of trauma. Allow me to explore this further. Before covid-19 hit, I was going into work daily. I did this generally five days a week. For a moment though, consider the varied experiences I would engage in a given work day. I would wake up, get myself prepared for work, drive to work, park in the parking lot, walk into my building, go to my office, and go to class two to three times a day. Let us not underestimate the significance of the mundane, small things we do everyday and what that means for who we are. Now, magnify that everyday experience by five days a week, by four weeks a month, by a year. One can begin to see how this predictability of daily behavior could serve to establish my guardrails of everyday life. So when the impact of covid-19 hit, daily life changed in an instant. As of writing this piece, I’ve not been in a classroom since March 2020. I’ve been onsite at my workplace for a total of 20 minutes since that time. But, my work did not stop. I did not shut down. Instead I began to install new guardrails for work, this time in the comfort of my own home. I used to go to work to work. I used to go home for comfort. Since March my home has also served as my worksite. And my home has also served as the place of schooling for three children. My home has also served as our church. The comfort of home has not much served as the comfort of home. And I think this is a reality for a lot of people. This experience has been so profound that I have begun to consider the abrupt changes in everyday life as a form of trauma. 

So what does this experience, this trauma look like for a 6 year old? For a 13 year old? For an adult? For older folks? 

I do not use this word lightly. Trauma is an extremely powerful term. Trauma is generally defined as: “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience,” and “emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis.” One way to address trauma is to remove oneself from the situation, to relocate, to seek out a different environment. The difficulty doing that is regardless of where you go a similar trauma you're likely to find. The trauma I allude to above is not just my experience. It’s the experience of a lot of people. In fact some people have more experiences since March that provide even greater significance to the trauma. There’s a general collective experience going on here. Perhaps we should begin to consider the idea of a collective trauma. And, how does a society address collective trauma?

So consider the predictability of the guardrails of life. Prior to March of this year I had spent years on “building” my guardrails for work, for home, for church, for recreation, for my side business as a DJ, for how I relate to my spouse, to my children, to my family, to my friends. Each set of these guardrails was fundamentally changed in the matter of the month of March. How are we to live life without guardrails? Well, we adapt. With family and friends I’ve spoken much about the need to thrive during this crisis. Those words of advice included moving forward in one’s own way with what we are given to work with. I believe thriving requires realizing the catastrophe of the disruption of everyday life, and moving forward in ways of adaptation. This means adapting your home for work. It means doing your gatherings much more differently until it’s safe. For us that has meant using Zoom for gatherings. Adapting and thriving means building and establishing new guardrails. Adapting and thriving means doing the best you can. But it’s tiring. It’s exhausting. More recently I’ve been thinking about emotional dehydration.

In conclusion, this emotional dehydration and trauma can get better with time. A major obstacle of identifying and treating these “conditions” is the importance of time and space. The guardrails of life I mentioned earlier are anchored in our memory enhanced by time and space. So, it will get better once my work is back at work. Once my religious practice is back in a church. Once my “normal activities” can once again be resumed in normal context. Unless work, church, and my other activities completely change to a new normal, my guardrails will continue to be reduced to suggestions. So until things get back to normal, things will “just feel weird.” And we might be feeling weird for a little while longer.