Noise at BSidesSF.

  conference synaesthesia bsides sf image

My day job sent me to BSidesSF at the DNA Lounge this year.  If you've never been to one before (and this was my first, due to unforseen circumstances some years ago), they're a loosely connected group of security conferences under the BSides name organized along the lines of an unconference.  This is to say that the dynamic of "presenter and audience" is not the primary goal of a BSides, getting people together to talk about what's going on and what they're doing is the point.  In other words, birds-of-a-feather gatherings among attendees (usually over a beer) are the accepted …

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Music Reviews by a Synaesthete: Vampire Step-Dad

  music reviews synaesthesia synthwave soundcloud vampire_step_dad

I've mentioned in the past that I've been bumping around on the edges of the synthwave community for a couple of years now in various ways.  A couple of weeks ago I got a ping on Twitter from an artist performing under the handle Vampire Step-Dad.  During the course of conversation he mentioned that he'd put together an EP called A Night In the Life of..., and would I be interested in giving it a listen?

I'm always down for some new music, and said that I'd write a review of his work from a synaesthete's perspective.

So, here we …

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Status report: President's Day

  life music synaesthesia fried pantheacon

I'm still alive.  No, I didn't party too much on my birthday.  Just about all of last week consisted of twelve hour days of nothing but meetings with several times the number of people I'm accustomed to handling simultaneously.  Additionally, I was working on a music review for Vampire Step-Dad, which required a pair of studio grade noise-cancelling headphones and listening to tracks repeatedly.  I seem to have given myself a case of sensory overload, because now I feel numb all over... I also attended Pantheacon last weekend, which did a number on me.  I realize that I could (and …

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What's it like having synaesthesia?

  synaesthesia qualia life_imitates_art music sounds

What's it like not having synaesthesia?

That sounds like a flippant answer, but it's quite the truth.  I can't remember a time when I didn't experience sounds (music, in particular) in a deep, visceral way that involved more than just my sense of hearing.  For the longest time I thought everybody's experience of life was like mine.  I thought everybody cried when they heard violin music.  I thought everybody felt waves of cold and prickles when they heard sounds made up of square waves (yeah, I'm dating myself, aren't I?)  Didn't everybody shiver and see starbursts of pink and purple …

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Why I dislike loud parties.

  dc epic graphics party synaesthesia sensory_overload

Generally speaking, I dislike loud and busy parties.  I find that my senses become overloaded in a very short period of time - all the voices, all the background sounds, all the random noise, the echoes from hard surfaces... it's very unpleasant.  After a short period of time in such an environment, my vision is all but useless.  The fog, the mist, the random colors.. on top of that, my tactile sense goes nuts.  Being rubbed down with wet and dry sponges, fans blowing on the front and back of my head at full blast, my legs vibrating backwards and forwards …

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Phase C

  mri synaesthesia graphics sounds shit_got_real conditioned_memory

This was the last part of the imaging procedure that I remember before deciding that I should probably take a nap. I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before, and let's be honest, being stuffed into the core of a superconducting magnet for a couple of hours gets boring after a while. I can only entertain myself so much... I can best characterize this part of the imaging procedure as "Shit got real."

Something cranked up deep inside the core of the machine and my vision went red, and then it started to bleed in and out. At …

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Phase B

  mri synaesthesia imaging graphics

I drew this depiction of what phase B of the MRI I had done in October of 2014 looked like. The sounds seemed to come from four places around me - two just above my head and two somewhere around my shoulders, or maybe my abdomen. I'm not sure because the sounds from the multiple points resonated weirdly inside my head and made some of my dental implants feel like they were buzzing (at the time that wasn't possible because they were all resin composite, but work with me here). The sounds made these weird, watery waves that made an almost …

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Pixitracker and writing music: Lively Debate v1.0

  music soundcloud experimental synaesthesia composition chiptunes pixitracker

Within recent memory I got it in my head to try my hand again at writing music. While I grew up studying a couple of instruments (getting my teeth kicked in (literally) in middle school, and the generally poor state of my teeth until recently put the kibosh on that), and later in college I studied the piano (an instrument torpedoed by repeditive stress injury, unfortunately) I never really had the gift for taking sounds and melodies inside my head (though I didn't really recognize them as such) and turning them into actual music. Part of it was that I …

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Phase A

  graphics synaesthesia MRI found_sounds diagnosis experience

Late in 2014 I had cause to undergo magnetic resonance imaging of my head as a diagnostic procedure. If you've never had one before, this procedure can involve a head x-ray (to make sure you don't have any ferrous material in tender places that might get ripped out by a very powerful magnetic field). It definitely does involve an hour or two laying on your back on a backboard with snug straps holding you in place (because if you move it'll mess up the imaging data) while you're stuffed into a relatively small tube in the core of the MRI …

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