Peter Altschul is a New York born author, composer, speaker, husband, and many other things. He resides here in Columbia with his wife. He was born completely blind but that didn't stop him from developing stellar skills, attending the nation's best universities, and working an array of interesting careers. Peter is also available for speaking engagements. More information can be found at his website: peteraltschul.com and his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for the great interview, Peter!
Recorded on 2016-11-09
Speakers: Joseph Weidinger and Peter Altschul
Okay. So, Peter All Chul is that hyper national? Yeah, that's it. Awesome. Good old German war there. Ah, composer, author, motivator, husband and many other things. I came to know you while doing some great work on a music composition of yours. And, um, because because you don't work with notation necessarily directly, because you're completely blind since birth. And from that brief experience, I got to know you just a little bit and a little bit more on our way over here and talking.
And as I proves your website, but that's all gonna change after we have this in depth conversation here. Um What? I'm looking forward to a lot. So, Peter, thanks for join me November ninth here at Shakespeare's downtown. The first question is, what's your earliest memory? My earliest memory was I'm guessing I was around four years old and somehow, WeII, we were We didn't like cats way were dog people. But some of this cat entered our house, and I remember I don't rember foods at him or her, but it somehow got in the piano.
It was like running off down the piano keys, making these weird noises. And I thought it was I thought it was one of the funniest things ever, and I don't know whatever happened to the cat, but I, too, have that memory that sounds like a Tom. And I'm just your micro Tom and Jerry sort of thing. Yes, very straight out of Tom. Jerry. That's it was probably chasing a mouse. I don't know what it was doing, but it was on the piano keys.
Is memory a curse or a blessing? More so soon I I think it is a I think it's more of a blessing. That's really more of how you make it. Um, you know, they're they're some memories. I wish I didn't have. I guess that's a curse. But having a good memory sure served me well, Yeah, it's a waste. That's definite. Um, before we go on a brief timeline, events in your life. So you graduated high school some point and went to Princeton for your undergrad, and they went to New England Conservatory, studying music in both music theory and the undergrad in music composition in your graduate school, and you lived in D.
C. For time. And when you met your wife and graduated or grad sword, he came to Missouri basically. Or that's the big picture that I know so far is that the one thing you serve didn't mention is a little after I graduated from doing conservatory, moved to New York City for many years or for moving to Washington. And then it was to Colombia. Got you? And what did you do in New York City then? After that after graduate?
Well, first I tried to make it as a jingle writer, writing music for commercials, really, and it was a fairly lucrative possibility. It's sort of died since then, but there are lots of jingle houses we think they called themselves, and they're always looking for talent. I didn't make it, but I had some interesting experiences. And but after two years, I took a job, a customer service representative, job, a T, the Internal Revenue Service, which was it?
Challenge him at least THIE IRA, the IRS and then moved from there to the Bank of New York. And then? So it came to the realization that if if if all I wanted to do is customer service, fine. But if I wanted something else, I need to go back to school. So I went to Columbia University School of Social Work and got a master's in what ended up sort of being organization, psychology and worth of social work.
It's sort of a joint degree and then started no, what's called in the trade systems change projects, working with a variety of different groups to help move something forward. One project was employment people, disabilities. Another project was using technology and the schools more effectively. Back then, a lot of teachers didn't know. You know what? A computer wass their mind. You know how to turn on. All right.
And then I moved to D. C. Because I got this unique opportunity. Ah, to work on a project to encourage pro life and pro choice activists to dialogue with each other instead of throwing insults and worse and then working on projects that could agree on working on. That was a fascinating project. And then I end up working at Reuters, doing diversity work, and then consulting work at the World Bank and other places and ended up falling in love and moving to Colombia.
Wow. Awesome. Great. That's a good timeline. Um, okay. So now that we got that clear what? Who were your earliest roll bottles or who was your earliest remodel within your immediate family? And how did they specifically influence or effective both my mom and my dad in different ways? My mom is sort of the one who kept me on track. Basically being blind. You have to be better than everybody else if you're going to compete and you know, So she had a sort of toe.
Teach me that. Teach me howto be a sw good as I could be compete in just a general to a general. I mean, I was I was mainstream meeting I went to I was the only blind kid in my grammar school in junior high school in high school and one of two blind kids in college and of, you know, graduate school and most of the employment I worked out. So a blind person, the organization and has that has its own set of challenges.
And my mom did a pretty good job getting you ready for that. Yeah, and my dad was a was a college professor and he sort of taught me the imports of communicating clearly and you know, with other people and communicating concepts in ways that were understandable and was, you know, in many ways, a wonderful dad. Especially as it was when I became an adult. Really? Yeah. So go. What about outside of your family?
By music teacher in junior High. I was back then. I hated music except playing drums and J basically screwed around. And she gave me a D in music on here is that, you know, I'm a pretty good position back then. I wasn't perfect, but but, you know, I didn't try. I screwed around. And so that got my attention. And then much, You know, she that helped me turn my life around a little bit, and she helped me sort of experience with different things.
I tried different things Musically on DH was really interesting person. Ah, so that was one. Um, and who else? Oh, my physics teacher in high school. Oh, he You know, I You know, physics for a blind person could be confusing, but he really made an effort That and this was back, you know, long time ago, when some of these concepts were just didn't even exist. And he found ways to sort of teach me things in ways than ways that I could understand.
And that was kind of cool, So I'm great grateful for him. I think he's still alive, actually. Really? Yeah. I think I heard from him about him a couple years ago. Anyway. You think he's still around? Cool. Yeah, that's very interesting. And I'd have a couple questions. Relate to some of that stuff later on. Because it is fascinating to me. But were you raised a particular religion? And if so, are you still practicing?
No, that's a complicated question. The answer is through. Ninth grade. The answer's no intense grade. I got it roped into joining a Catholic folk group folk folk group. Okay, guitars and tampering thing. I've been alright. Had that was a raise, the Catholic, too. And I'm like trying to think of any moment where I ever saw quote unquote Catholic full crew. So they think that they did in that church, right? And my mom was raised Episcopalian and she thought that this is ridiculous.
I could do better. We could do better than that because my dad was told the un religious so when they got divorced, so they moved this Lutheran church, which it with a really good choir in a really good music program and that really good minister so and he he sort of taught me what it is. I meant to help other people. And I played piano and nursing homes for him on and things like that. When I lived alone in New York and Washington, I've barely rarely went to church.
I just like my son. I was working pretty hard and, like, Sundays was excited to sort my quiet time, and I just didn't have. But I moved to Columbia. Ah, I heard one of the choir directors. I know if, you know Alex and Echo. But he was choir director of the Methodist Church back in there. Two thousand six, seven, eight, nine one of those years. And I decide I want to read reconnect with the choir. And so he, you know, I joined that choir and start going to that church, and I've gone fairly steadily since, uh, twenty.
Oh, you know, I miss services here in there, but I go pretty much every week, Right? So the choir aspect is the appeal to the church or the religion is too well, both. OK, the car got me into it and Joe Bryant that Thomas that was the minister and he was good. And that way we got the woman, Minister Kathy, whatever her name was, Amy who was not spectacular. But now we got really, really good ministers.
So I'm much happier with sort of the the preaching in the sort of the service aspect of it. Right? Cool. What's the best thing for human being? The best thing for a human being. My off the cuff answer is to use their to use ah, our strengths to help other people or the support of the people, or to serve other people. Get on Wainwright one way or another. Cool. What's your favorite form of information? We started with the question.
What's your favorite form of information? Form of information? Yeah. You mean, like, uh, computer stuff? Or it could be, you know, it could be, uh it's pretty vague question. It could be news or coming music or could be just O R. Um, yeah, it's a strange question. I mean, I I read a lot on DSO. I like, um I like reading a lot, and but I also is a CZ musician, you know, Listen to loud music. It's always I'm always, you know, fuck.
You know? You know, I always listen to what's going on around the music wise, which is a curse and a blessing. You're right. You mean You mean that in a broad sense, like all sounds are music too, you know? Okay. You mean it specifically, like like, what's going on now? Yeah, I You know, I know this song has been played, and I can relate to it and whatever and often sort of focused. OK, you know what? You know what kind of music it is and what's interesting about or what's boring, battery or whatever, Right.
Well, I mean, that's a classic music competency. Eerie. Major would say maybe exactly. The only thing is I What? What separate me from the from the from the cop in music theory, People in my classes are is I liked pop music. Yeah, it's hard to be that it's hard. It's one of the biggest influences in my composition, right? Influence. So And I like classical music and like other things, too. But as I said to somebody of the day, these pop tunes help me so ground me.
You know, it reminds me that music is not for snobs, necessarily. You know, you're writing for an audience, people who you know who want something to get something from it. And if you're gonna be like Milton Babbitt, who we talked about earlier, um, they ain't gonna work, so right. I guess music more like that is more towards a research. You know, it's a university people are researching various things in the musicians are the composer's rather are priding music as a researcher in.
But that's not the way he viewed it. That's all He did. That so that No, that's what That was interesting. I know what you're saying. It's a reasonable assumption. But he viewed himself as a composer. Along the lines of Mollere are you know, you know the you know the big shots, right? And didn't work for me. What do I know? That's funny. Ah, how would you advise someone to deal with an enemy? I'm sorry. Repeat the question.
How would you advise someone to deal with an enemy with an enemy? Um try. Teo to maintain control of your own stuff, trying to get him to her toe on central U and, you know, try your best to avoid through if you can. You don't need negative energy around you if you can avoid it. And sometimes, um if if the stars are aligned properly, you Khun, if not build a friendship, build understanding with with with him or her?
Good, um what was more important? Conviction or compromise? You need to have convictions that ought to be able to compromise. Really interesting. Can you explain that? Yeah. When President Obama was came into office in twenty. Oh, wait. He talked a lot about working across party lines, you know, with Republicans. And And he did a lot of that in his in his earlier days. Um, but from where I was coming from, that was so important to him that you sort of forgot what his convictions were.
He forgot what he stood for, and I really think it it did two things that hurt him. Um well, well, the main thing I did to hurt him was the Republicans thought they could roll him. Sean Hand, he said on one of his shows, We can roll him, weaken you. No way. Don't have to be scared of him. We can roll, roll meeting, We can walk over him, right. And I think the reason was that he didn't come up and say, These are the things I believe in here, the programs that are really important to me.
And he also did do that, but a bit too late from my perspective, I think, probably to Ronald Reagan. For example. Back in the day, he didn't talk about compromising in the first hundred days he had a certain thinking you want to get done. And then what, then? And with the Russians when he was called the Evil Empire. But he had the flexibility to then be able to negotiate from his convictions right? And compromise, if you will.
You know, that's interesting. Now that you mention Russians one hundred first hundred days and, you know, convictions reminds us of me of the election yesterday's in which Donald Trump won the presidential election, of course. And it sounds like a sound similar to the regulars for you. Well, to some degree, I would argue that Donald Trump has no convictions except for Teo Teo Pro himself, right? I don't think he has convictions at all.
And that's what I find scary about him. Yeah, he doesn't seem to have a North Northern star about, You know, you should think here are things that are really important to me. Here are values that that will drive me to develop policy here. I mean, I didn't hear any of that in any of this Speech is right. I just heard, You know, let's make America great again, right? Yeah. They build the wall and those sort of fantastical things.
But, you know, I don't have a sense of who. I don't have a sense of who he is, what he stands for. We knew it. Ronald Reagan stood for waiting this. I agree with it necessarily. But we know what he stood for. I don't know what Trump stands for. I mean, uh, if you if you you know, I've read articles by conservatives and some of them say, Oh, he's a He's a small government conservatives. He's going toe, you know, more power to the states.
And then you hear people saying No, it's a big government conservative, you know? He wants to use government, too, to promote righteousness. I mean, he's never said any of those things, right? People are sort of inferring their own stuff on him because he has said so little. That's exactly right. Yeah, and I think that's very dangerous. Yeah, it's gonna be an interesting for years. Is wavering for aid. And the thing is, he has skills, right?
You know, he he's a great communicator. Andi, I like my sense is that he probably is a pretty good negotiator. Yeah. You know, you can't do the stuff he's done without having some of those skills. I think he exaggerates them, all right? But I think he has some skills, but it's skills going nowhere except making lots of money and saying how good he is, right? And I don't I think that counts. Is ah driving, no goal or star.
Everyone calling in terms of being the president of the United States, We getting anybody? I mean, if all you're living for is to to promote yourself, make lots of money. What does that say about you right now, your president, or, you know, I won the lottery or something. You know, it doesn't speak too highly. Least not my not to my eyes. It doesn't. Does it say about the person? Yeah, it's a very interesting situation, You know, it's kind of a scary thing.
That's a whole nother conversation for another time. Yeah, um is ambition based more on fear or joy? In an ideal world that should be joy, I think, I think for many of us and probably for me at least early earlier it was more fear based. You know what? I need to be successful. Right, Felix? My feet fear that I was a failure. Oh, and how I'm curious about that. How? Like how soon how early was that? When you were thinking about that a lot?
Well, what the tricky things about being a minority person is, You know, here I was, or the top kids in my high school got to Princeton, had minimal experience of discrimination there. I had a couple, but nothing. It was a good experience by a larger, really good experience. Again, there are some challenges, but nothing's in you again. And then I graduated with with With a of masters and music another skills and couldn't get a job.
So the question is, why? Well, I wasn't sort of I didn't understand how discrimination worked back then. People just in want a higher blind people back then they still don't know very much. And so I thought it was all my fault, right? And that's sort of where the fear came in. I thought, You know, I'm not perfect. I don't pretend to be. But, you know, there's just there's just lots of miscommunication, misunderstanding, fear, uh, whatever, whatever word you want to use.
And, you know, I was I expected to be successful, and it took some time for me to get there. And even then I wish I could I wish I could do more, you know, has happened But anyway, Are you a perfectionist? Yes, I am Hyleas. Like candy. You can. I'm not careful. If you're not careful like Yeah, um, yeah, but you said really high standards for yourself in expectations. Is that from your mom or your dad? My mom, about your mom?
Cool. Well, I mean, it serves you in a lot of ways. It's certainly very well in some ways, but in other ways that can be really destructive. It's just writing out, Yeah, really instructive. Well, and it's like and bringing it back to the election are, you know, this is character. Everyone has character flaws. It's certainly ways and pulling back in and others, and I think about someone like Trump or something that some things have obviously served very well.
But it's probably almost the same things that, you know, make everyone fear the whole situation. And but qualities when pushed to an extreme, I guess, is, uh, well, it's a blessing and a curse. Yeah, well, I know my sense. What Donald is he his his motivation, his motivated What way humorous people is by fear. Well, yeah, that that that's that's That's the way he does it. And even when he's trying not to do it, I think he's going to make an effort to try not to do it.
People. Now he has that reputation about him that's very hard to firm to shake that. Yeah, especially for people who didn't vote for him in the first place, right? He's gonna have a major selling, and he's not going to, You know, I don't think I don't think you could do it, but you never know. Stranger things have happened. Yeah. Why is it so difficult for humans? Why is it so difficult for humans to consider the possibility that life may be pointless?
Because if life is pointless, why limit? Okay, you know, I mean, if you're not. If you're not, if you if you don't, if you die here too, did you know for a purpose? Then why be here at all? Except maybe if you want to get drunk and you know, do that, don't do those kinds of things. But that gets boring after a while. It does it. I don't know. But, you know, my sense about you is, you know, you may get drunk once in a while, but you do other things too.
You help me in a crisis, Get this score down. That was That was really important thing for me at the time. That was fun. Yeah. So we out of saying I mean, you know, for you, that's all you're doing that could get old quickly? Yeah. On what occasion do you like? I never Why do you never lie? I'm going to move this microphone close that. No, I actually try my best not to lie. Ah, I think when I When I lie it's I don't have the courage to say to say something that I believed to be true about somebody in to them directly.
That makes sense. I don't want to hurt their feelings or not sure have my my facts right or I'm tired or something, right? You know, I I like to think and most people say that I'm I'm a man of my word. I do what I say. I'm going to do so I've certainly failed. But that's I try to live that way. Now you're you're good with. I mean, you're always on top of communicating and every way, so Yeah. How do you deal with stress?
Sleep a lot. Sleep a lot. Exercise. I usually go for three A two A three mile walk every day. And I have a treadmill. It's no longer works, but I run the running the even though it doesn't work, I still run on it. Really? Yeah. Okay. You know, I mean, push really, really hard. You do? But, you know, it's better than not running at all. You know, it's sort of the way I look at it and you run out of for thirty or forty five minutes, you know, at a decent clip.
You're you know, you're doing pretty well, you know, right? I wish I could get to work properly. But you can have everything in life, Yeah. So and I also occasionally talk to people I fight, you know, having it that day. I might call somebody or talk to my wife or something. Um, do you more pursue happiness or meaning? Would you say, probably meeting? Um, you know, I'm a Z said I have hi. Fairly high standards, and I there are things that are really important to me.
Like what? For? Well, being good at what I do. A zay said before using my strengths to try to felt help other people. But one of the things that really interests me, especially coming out of the abortion work. I did know where you get it. You know, people who are so used to being antagonistic towards each other toe actually begin to like each other on to work to to what you would work together on projects that they can agree to work on.
You know, it's really had influence and how I think, think of the world. You know that that given the right circumstances in there, right, supports that kind stuff often can happen. Not always. You're not going to get the Isis and over their competitors are toe work together anytime soon. You know, that ain't gonna happen. Probably. But you know that, you know, there are There is no reason why more work can't be done on these complex cultural issues.
You know, the culture, war stuff, abortion, capital punishment, you know, gun rights versus gun control, the whole diversity stuff. There's a lot of common ground people, people I don't want to see it. It's a It's a deliberate blindness. As far as I'm concerned, in some cases, um, it's not that hard to to see, to see where you agree. If you were going to go, it's deliberate because people, people at the top or whatever we want to make it deliberately dividing our well the devices.
So we'll be working with ease. Big shots, the parole effort for choice movement and we be working together behind closed doors. We never publicized what we were doing, you know, Otherwise it wouldn't work. And the biggest challenge for them was to go back into there group and talk about what they were doing. And they were often accused of being traitors, traitors to the cause. You are consorting with the enemy, right?
That's like what they would almost always say to us is you're, you know, a were learned some cool stuff. And we're learning Tio that we can do some work together. But more important is that we're better advocates. We now understand where the other side is coming from. So we can tailor arguments better. Right? That makes sense. Yeah. So get to know you're in there. Get your enemy. You Khun, you, Khun, I mean, enemy does, you know, baby, quite be the right word.
But those who disagree with then all of a sudden you're better African if you know where they're coming from. You. Khun, You could tell your your sales pitch, if you will, is in a terrible word towards, you know, towards what they're concerned about. You know, that reminds me of Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and influence people, which I don't know if you've ever heard by skipped it. I didn't read it.
I mean, it's it's old book anyway, but, um but, yeah, something about that? Well, yeah, the whole sales thing is along the same way, Right? If you know the really good salespeople, you know, get to know their customers right before they start their start, their sales pitch, you know, the other. Do research ahead of time, or they ask questions or they, you know, they try to get some sense of how this person ticks before they start making your sales pitch.
And they're really good sells. People do that. And the lousy ones don't right. So that that's part of the current talks about I start reading his book and couldn't I just couldn't handle after the first third of it. Yeah, it has a certain style, too. That's just like And it just goes on. Story, story, story. Yeah, I just think with my life. So our Cuban beings more Do they act more on feeling or more on thinking feelings?
Dr. Thoughts There's absolutely no question. That's what the research shows. And there's there's for me there's there's no what? That's that's it. Almost. That's an absolute I don't believe in too many absolutes, but that's one of them, huh? Feelings, Dr thoughts. Really. Feelings. Dr. Action, Do you think people can, um, do you think people change in the sense? And it's a pretty prodigy near question. But can people I guess what I'm trying to say is, can people changed away if they think and feel voluntarily so easily or well, Yes, they can.
But it takes a lot. You know, it does take some work. I mean, that's essentially what you're doing in therapy, right? You go to therapy were having some kind of problem. And depending on the approach that the therapist uses, you're trying to sort of re align those thoughts and feelings, you know? So if you are, I have low self esteem because of X. Part of what a good therapist is trying to help you see that the reasons behind those feelings may not be rational.
You know, And so over time, those feelings can change from sort of self what we're looking for self deprecation to. I'm not such a bad person after all. Right? Now, that's that's what that's what That's what part of the basis of therapy or counseling is about right or coaching. Cool. Um, so I was reading your block. I'm going to ask you a few questions about what kind of like to be blind, more or less or something.
Is that OK? Yes, OK, or just because it's an interesting perspective on my opinion, but you see movies with you and your wife or you go to see the movie or whatever. And so someone once said, There's no such thing as a good or bad movie. There's just a good or bad viewing experience, Uh, since the idea of viewing experience is different for you. Would you? How would you? What would you be response to that you're dissing?
Well, it gets a whole conversation about cultural stuff. And I think obviously there are their movies. I do not go, too, because they're so visual you know, there are drawing a blank, but, you know there, there. There's lots of vision. There's lots of action going on that, you know, without live description. It just doesn't make sense for me to go to see the movie. So the movies, I I tend to go, too. Erica.
I don't have too many. I tend to have a lot of dialogue and you're The visuals are important, but they usually atmosphere that you pick up with Sounds right. So if you're if it's that you know, if it's by a lake and it's a picnic, you can usually picked it up by the birds that are singing and the you know you can hear picks up you sometimes, like by sonic use, right? So it's hard question answered directly.
So what I'm going to like in a movie is going may be different from what somebody else's going like my kids are really, really visual, you know? So for them to go to a movie like that that I like that I like. It's very hard for them, right? It's very hard for them uh, it's very hard because they're the youngest one, especially in the video games. The both of them are both kids air in video games and, you know, you are all you here.
All I hear is a bunch of racket tell you the explosions and motions and, you know, cows, cows moving or something, depending on, you know, whatever it is they're doing, you know, weird music or something. And And it's been a challenge for us to sort of talk, Talk around that stuff of talk around about. Okay? Yeah, um, But, you know, sometimes it's coming sometimes. Joseph, I middle kid place, you know, video, football, Madden football or something.
And then what's it, Ike? I could follow that because your play by play. All right. What's that? We'll have a conversation of football strategy as a result. No. And you played sports as a kid. I some sports I did. I I was totally blind, so I didn't really play baseball or football, obviously. But I did learn to swing a bat, and I did, you know, do the tackle football thing, you know, and sort of learned to hand to hand the ball off, occasionally learned how to tackle and you know, So I have a pretty good sense of how sports work.
And I've been around a lot of athletes, so and growing up and in college and stuff. So that's about it. Really great thing for me to sort of get to know some of the really interesting people, right? So mainly, you've been in the culture of of sports, and you've been around. People are in sports. And so consequently, sports has played some role in your life in major ways. Really major ways. I'm a huge sports fan.
When I follow, I follow. I follow that most of the team sports, baseball, football, basketball used to follow hockey, but not so much anymore. Love. So you know, I'm always you know, I'm always, you know, five a chance, so you should have a game on You know what? I'm doing something else or something. Yeah, I do like that background noise to or someone was telling me here once that he wrote songs or something, and he always had a game of something going on the background or it's just like I had all I have meditated.
I had all news radio, all new news radio, which I think they don't have in Colombia. But it was a in New York and Boston have stations. All they do is they They they do news. It's and it's one of our popular formats and big cities because you could listen to them. You can listen for fifteen minutes and get news headlines whether traffic sports. Yeah, and you know it's It's a valuable service. I agree. Actually, I usedto I live in Germany first short time and was trying to learn.
The language is much possible with what I had and even after I left because I was bases justification for us. But I was like, I'm gonna listen to German radio and they're German, all news radio stations. And but, like half the time, all they're talking about are like traffic blocks. Or at least you know, now that I think about more, I'm like maybe that's just all I could understand. Well, you know, and it's important if you're in a big city and in New York, people need to know what the traffic is true.
I mean, it's really, you know, that they have tracked us every every ten minutes during rush hour. Okay? I mean, you know, you know, they probably wanna run a bit and a half. You know? That's a major. You know, they're That's what you think about it. That's Mitt and a half times six. That's what I can't do. A Mass at nine minutes. Yeah, nine minutes in an hour. That's it. That's nearly fifteen percent or something.
That's fifty percent. Yeah, that's a lot So I also read in your on someone your sight You said the word smile in someone's voice. And I was curious as to how you would describe that to somebody from your point of view. Hearing a smile on someone's voice. Yeah, um, yeah. The best way I can describe it off the top of my head is we all laugh. What's in a while? Right? You know, And so it's It's the voice that that people are in just before they are just just but prior to the laughing, that makes sense.
Not saying that's very well. In other words, if you have ah, uh, continual. And zero or one is like dark, angry voice, right. And tenants, if you're really happy and and giggly right, so a small the voice might be an eight or nine on that continuum that makes any sense at all. Yeah, kind of all about the physics of especially being from a music. A music background. How would you describe, like, someone's voice in a smile that way?
Well, if there's if if you're smiling, you can't have a lilt in your voice. If you're angry, you're tending a harsh tone. Harsher tone in your voice. Or, if you're tired, your voice tends to be more monotonous. Things are all tendencies that everybody everybody is little different and culturally different, but no. You know this, this Mr Nice Guy song, They're playing in the background, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I think the guy is singing with this sort of angry sort of sharp tone on you get to the smile, love songs And the tone is very different, Right? Good. Um okay, so you talk a lot about strengths and weaknesses. Early strength and using their strings help other people. As you said, Um, someone's explain this to me. It's like an underground philosophy of sorts that preachers incorporating a weakness and to being a strength.
Instead, we're kind of like, traditionally taught to overcome a weakness. But there's a philosophy, I guess, that that says, No, no, you can use your weakness is to your advantage to or maybe even if I were stretch it, whereas what we'd come in talking about what you've been talking about is using your weaknesses to help people or something like that. Um, is that possible? Where does anything come to mind when I say that?
Well, what it reminds me of is one of the interview tricks that you're taught when you're going for a job interview and they'll say, What is your biggest weakness? And what what many people are trained to answer is I am. It's really important that I do good job at work that my workers of right high quality. But sometimes because of that, I tend to get impatient with others or with myself, right and on.
So I'm trying to work on becoming more patient, because that's you get along north. More people get more stuff done that way. Yeah, I saw your standard answer to that interview question, and so what? I No, that conclusion is that sometimes a weakness is sort of the flip side of the strength. You know, the one of the strengths, Yang, whatever it is, you know. On. It makes some sense, I think because if you're you know, there are other ways of being angry, right?
You could be angry, could be assertive. A sort of is is angry. But dial back a little bit, that makes sense. So, you know, strengths. We use this sometimes you know that it's one of those. Continuum is right where a weakness is on one end, and the strengths on the other in which you want to be, is often in the middle, right. You know, that's interesting, like that is a perfect answer. Like you said, being a sort of, in other words, like, you don't necessarily have to overcome your weakness completely and and somehow magically turn into a non angry person and or anon and, yeah, angry person.
But if you just change it slowly, a dial back, then it can be a productive quality. Yeah, that's I think that's exactly right. And so a lot of it is trying to be aware of who you are and what makes you tick and that kind of stuff. Because if you have some sense of who you are, you're more like a teal. Control that stuff, right? Not always, but you're more likely to be able to is human progress, cyclical or cumulative?
I think that all change is incremental. That means even if something major, where something feels like the major changes happen. If you look back, you'll see. But there were, like small steps along the way for that change to happen. So these apple comes to mind is perhaps you know, you're you. You're divorcing somebody. You come to a decision that I need to divorce, move out of the house for whatever reason.
That seems like a major change, right? You're going all of a sudden from being together than being apart. But if you reflect on it, there are probably lots of small things that made you or that property to make. That prompted you to make that decision. I think I think most of that all change is that way. Um, I'm sure you could find examples. I mean, you know where it's not true, but I think by and large, change is almost always incremental and not sudden.
All right, So look at Donald Trump, for example, right? This is a major change in our country. Everyone look at it for good or for bad, but the reason that he won there are lots of reasons why one of those air sort of small things, you know, they're they're things that built up over the past. I don't know, twenty thirty years that have probably blown up toe toe worry. Find ourselves. Yeah, major change.
But there are lots of small piece steps that that prop that change take place? Yeah. You know, I was kind of likening Donald Trump to ah, super bug in a way that, you know, crops. They like a crop where they spray pesticides, but the plant they want to grow doesn't die. But then over time, like there's this resistant bug that keeps building up and, uh, because it won't be killed off by the the thing or it just developed some super immunity.
Or but Donald Trump is kind like that in a way, I think, where he just couldn't be destroyed this time. You know, because there's such a, you know, resistance or he has some of the magical resistance and that's built up with people that are voting for I know this is the right word. Yeah, I think they're right. The better word is no. If you serve a soil right there, lots of their nutrients in the soil to make plants be able to grow in it.
And there's just lots and lots of nutrients that allowed trump, too. Teo, grow. And those are those small changes were talking out. There's just a lot of anger out there, um, for a lot of reasons and Trump tapped into it and very powerful ways. You know, it's that's not a bug that's ah, angers the nutrient than he was able to grip, too, to grow on. Yeah, uh, I want to remind you guys this search Stephen King thing that's one of his books where, um, where this guy, this person's wearing this animal it around her neck, and she said she's in chronic pain, and so she words this able it around her neck and the pain goes away.
But then she also against the notice that her personality goes away and she becomes to serve this well. Tom Aton she has to do is to take the ambulance off her neck and kill it in the bathtub. And then her personality returns and the pain returns. But it sounds like some sounds like allegorical to prescription drugs. Yes, I was just thinking the same thing. Sometimes that's true. Sometimes you need those prescription.
Yeah, but But, yeah, that's that. You're right about that. So, you know, I'm not sure if that helps, but you can't have the robbery. It's it's a Yeah, I understand, but I saw that There's a scene in Harry Potter series, which, but I can't know what it is. So well, we'll move on. Okay. What's the difference? They're sorry. What? It's the most significant difference between men and women. Physical aside. I'm sorry.
Repeat the question. What's the biggest difference between men and women besides the physical side? Woman are tend to be You know this also brains men. Tend to be. Focused on one thing, and it's hard to see connections between things woman, the way their brains were set up. Ten. To be able to see those connections and clearer ways, then men, we have to sort of browbeat to see it. And I think that's one of the reasons why women tend to be better reading people because they can.
They can see, I think, because they because they consider combine their brain functions in ways that it's harder for us men to do. I think that's really what comes to mind. The that the cabbie out to this is that Sorry? It's not your fault, Liam. It's a spam phone call. I get these all the time. I glance over and it's like a call from New York and I'm like, No, I yeah, not again. Sorry. It's okay that there's there's one of things I learned in psychology.
There's Mohr variability within a group than among groups that makes sense. So there are. There are some men's brains who functioned like woman sprains. And there's some woman's brain function, like men's brains. And so you know, what I'm saying isn't always true, but it's a tendency. I think it will help make some sense to you. Yeah, but I You know, I know some men who can see those connections and are really good at and quite intuitive.
And I've seen woman who were clueless when it comes to. So I'm making those kinds of connections right, you know, But more often than not, yeah. Thiss punishment work, and I just mean, like when a criminal gets caught, Do they think I've done something morally and social wrong and I three consider all everything, Or do they think my criminal skills, you know, weren't up to snuff? Well, it depends on how they were raised and their their their life history and who they've been around and what drugs they were on or worked on.
And they're all kinds of variables involved about how criminals you know, think what I do know about punishment is it may work in the short term but is not working the long term. And all you need to do is to look at there were there were sited ism rates. You know, how many What's the percent people who who served five, ten, fifteen years for a crime and then are released and what percentage end up back in jail?
Right? It's quite high, and the reason is, jails are primarily warehousing and punishing people. And, you know, in the short term, that may work and there's a need for it unless they're given the chance to sort of build some strength. If you will build some confidence, they're likely when they're released to go to come back because they can't survive in the and there in the in the non jail world. And this is, you know, this is actually a serious matter.
I mean, actually interviewed in the United States, especially especially. Thank you for saying that. You're right. Uh I interviewed for a job but bureau persons in Missouri, and it was really nice to see that the folks House dealing with, sort of Understood finally began to understand that the way they were dealing with prisons, prisoners, a inhumane but be wildly dysfunctional right in terms of success.
And you want people to come out of jail and not come back. All right, that's the goal on and on. Has worked too well. And I'm hoping that boredom or folks, we're going to see that there are other ways doing things. Yeah, what is today's most important UN reported story in your opinion? I wish people. I wish journalists. I would focus on those stories like the ones that I worked on, you know, showing how people of diverse backgrounds Khun come together to work on something that really amounts to something productive.
You just don't hear those kinds of stories. It's just it's so counter to the way journalists think I guess or something because the use of Phyllis kinds of stories and I wish there was more mohr of that, yeah. I see other thing that I wish that people would would focus on AA meeting with folks. Little moron. It is sort of the connection between big business and big government and how the structure of it really can be to the rest of us.
You know, they just don't talk about it enough. And they don't talk about in ways that make sense to the rest of us. Yeah, I do things that optimistic ever. Does anything give you reason to be optimistic about those two examples? For instance? Well. Or is it only getting worse and well, you know, we're gonna learn a lot in the next six months about who we are. Because because essentially one of the things I heard last night, which I think was very smart, is there's no more Republican party, That is, we don't know if they're Hoboken stand for, you know, back.
You know, we're all too recently, Republicans were Ronald Reagan. I mean, he was the patron saint of the Republican Party since nineteen. Whatever. And now Donald Trump is the is the opposite A Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was, you know, facing the world. He you know, he he negotiated, he supported trade deals. You know, he he, uh, interact with all kinds of people. He negotiate with the Soviets, you know, he did.
All kinds of things are, you know, I'm not thrilled with some of the things he did, but here he he he wanted us to be part of the world and will lead it. And Trump seems to wonder the exact opposite, right of and what? So I think that's me alive, aligning about who Republicans and Democrats really are. And in those in that kind of circumstance, there's a least a chance for people sort of find, find those coming round issues and worked work across some of those boundaries.
Traditional boundaries, since they are not strong, as they used to be. The least that chance, right? I'm not sure how artistically and that will happen. The whole thing makes me a bit optimistic. Is there more more woman coming into into into into politics? And women tend to be much better at this kind of men? Are you know, finding ways to work around some of these issues. Yeah, that's definitely on. So I'm sort of hoping that that will happen.
Uh, I think there's potential for so good work to be done. I'm just not while the optimistic that a trump wants that to happen. Yeah, on B, it's gonna take a lot of courage for people to make it happen. But I know it's not impossible. It's not impossible. Okay, so we have just a couple minutes left. Maybe, like, ten or fifteen, If that's OK. Sure. We'll probably about ten. I was going to ask you another music question two and then a few other just last questions that were part of the answer quickly.
Okay, Cool. What elements or one major element of your art of composing music have changed in what's Something that stayed the same since you started writing music. Oh, but music is much simpler now than it was when I was writing in college. Really? Yeah. I wrote music in college was almost unsinkable. We just, you know, which is I guess, you know, somewhat common for young composers. You know, they don't know what they're doing and they don't think carefully about performer.
And you know, when I write something first of all, usually I'm writing it for No, I'm writing it for a cause. I know Brian for group, so I have that group in mind when I write it. You know what they sound like and what stuff they can do, What stuff? They probably can't do very well. And that really helps me. So think how think through what? What I want to do the other thing. Oh, that I that I really like to do more these days than then when I was my pop song writing days is, I think, a lot more about lines than I do about chords these days.
Not always. So if you think about the piece I wrote, Yeah, you know, Is there a core progression there? Yes, there is. But it's all in here. There's no keyboard in that piece, right? And the reason is in part because I was I didn't want people, you know, pianist to play a b flat, minor chord. That's not right. Not the sound I wanted. Flight Nature corridor to the core progression was so So I tend to write transfer.
I like sort of this transparent, linear sound. And one of the result like that is because other composes other composers are doing it. It's much Yeah, so So it really for my years distinguishes me from Oh, I don't know. Listen, Cheatham John cheated on Cheatham. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like John stuff. Yeah, but he and I write very differently. Yeah, Stephen Freud is an interesting guy because he could do both very well.
I've sort some of this stuff, but he tends to tends to write more corley them. Then Then I did Yeah. And, um, or in a modern stouts. And he they actually he's person sees a parliament will sound he they recorded an early piece of his. I think they're doing an album of all his stuff, you know, And he's a professor, mostly a like. He doesn't write day in and day out by any means. And so, but they show some stuff from his younger days.
And it was He's like, man, I would never write it's stuff like this again just because it's not playable, you know? And it was almost exact same thinking, Like when you have more experience working with actual musicians and stuff and you're not like in college and writing, you know, theoretically, you're like, Oh, I can do anything, you know? Then you're like, No, no, no. This is actually a logistical thing, you know, it's got to work I wanted to be performed.
Well, you know, it's like in what group don't have to work with And what can I get done? You know, it's true, but there's something else. I don't know how it was when you were in school, but when I was in school, the composers wanted me, wanted us to, you know, almost to be experimental really challenged us to do that. And some of them did. Anyway. Now some of them were more practical, but they're a couple who, you know, if I wrote to practically said, What are you doing?
You know, you're you're you're trying to You're trying to write for creatively. You're writing to, you know, traditionally or something. You get that from professor sometimes, too. But I just I just find that I like writing linear stuff. I, like, Listen to linear stuff on DH. I just when I hear a good line, I really registers with right in by a linear just just clarify like you have a melody in mind and you're less concerned with, well, harmony's going on in the background.
You right? The notes down linearly as your right, the melody, right ability under that and you're less concerned about what's gonna happen when you put them all together in the way, right? I mean, obviously, I'd like some sense of what I want for me to be right. But, you know, you know, what I try to do is write a melody and writing something underneath it that counters in some way, right? Or, you know, rather just putting.
Okay, this is a D seven flat five goingto whatever. You know, that stuff's fine. Nothing wrong with it, But I and I like a lot of that stuff, but it's I'm trying. I kind of like writing in in different ways. Yeah. Good. Okay. A few more questions here. Uh, what moment? Remembering your life were you absolutely, totally loved. Right? There was a moment in my book that I write about when I proposed to Lisa and I am I decided that I was goingto do an arrangement of Stephen Sondheim's Not Long Around from Sweeney Todd.
Now, if you know that song, I don't buy no Sweeney Todd. There's Vegas. There's a really beautiful song and that among the sort of I love Sweeney Todd is my favorite musical of all time. I think it's just a brilliant score, and Steve's time is amazing. That's I was brilliant on general principle. But that score thing is especially genius. And there's there's a song on that thing, which is a really beautiful sort of tender love songs.
No. What's going on, Harvey? When I'm around, you know what? No one's going to hurt you. Not Yeah, well, something I can't Demons were probably everywhere. I'll keep them away from you. That kind of something, is it's It's a really nice, beautiful song. And so I decided I was going to sing it to Lisa for my It's for my proposal of my mom and my sister were there and my aunt was there. And so the moment came and I saying the song and everybody was in tears.
Now you need to understand the least. It does cry my parents. My sister never cry. Uh, never on. It was just a stunning moment, and I realized what You know how much I love Lisa on how much everybody loves me. It's it's been interesting. I think you know that. That that sort of emotion sort of conveyed Not like that. I could do that, but also that that I was loved. I don't think that makes any sense to Yeah, yeah, but that that was a very powerful moment for me.
Well, said, I really I really like that. Um, no. And it's not like when you were growing up where you said they'd never cried, but were they Would you say, like hard? We're I don't know if you know about the New England sort of, you know, Connecticut, Massachusetts, the that's so culture up there. You're been up there. No. Okay. Of very it's it's. It's it's it's heart. It's almost harsh, You know, You live on the beach near the ocean, you know it's It's sort of mirrors the atmosphere and people care about each other, but they there's a gruffness right about them.
And that's the way I am, too. Sometimes because that's the environment I was raised in, and it's taking me a while to learn. That doesn't always work, right? That's not often anyway, but it made the moment that much more special. It's right, Basically, that's right, you know? So Yeah. Okay. Last question. If you were ruler of the world, what would you do on your first day? Besides take the song off the radio.
It's a really good question I sent off for that. I'm stumped. Um, because I have no desire to be the ruler of the world. That's a scary thought of It's just not something that I want to do. I think what I would do. Is I mean, what what comes to mind is doing a lot of listening, you know? What is it that he's my the folks I'm leading need for me to be effective? Um of me. You know what? What supports? Do they need?
What dangers are we experiencing? Come on. Um, you know, beyond that, you know, I you know, I try to spend some time just learning something before, you know, moving forward. I've spent way too much time in my life moving, moving too quickly. Sometimes it's a really good thing, But more often than not, it comes back to bite me. Yeah. So I said, That's a really tough question. I haven't thought about that one.
That's a really good answer. I really like that. Was you on your first day. Listen, I think I really would try to listen a lot. Yeah? Yeah, at first that they say what? It was you on the first day and you're going to say resign. Yeah, well, you know, I just I don't know, I I I a part of me thinks that anybody who's running for president Donald Trump is, that is the is the exactly are have some, some kind of it's neurotic problem.
Yeah, it's so old. Encompassing in all, Uh, it's just it's it's it never stops, right. And so us centric in a way like not to get too distracted by, but, like, you know, they run a whole campaign. It's just like all about getting you a right to be the ruler of the world, Basically, or whatever, you know. How can the mind really feel it? You know, I think that's right. And I think President Obama sent a pretty good job.
Yeah, yeah, he's a good man. Has. And, you know, I think Donald Trump has potential for being a disaster. Right? And be very blunt. I don't think Hillary Clinton got it right. That's when the real she lost me out. I don't think she got it right of I'm gonna actually my next vlog posting there, right about why Hillary lost, huh? There are lots of reasons why, but I think one of the reasons that she just she just early.
Maybe she got it, but she couldn't communicate it or something. But I think she just was too enmeshed in the power she was going to get. Yeah, it's not that she didn't have things she wanted. Do you know she has? She has causes and I think she's in many ways really grounded, but I I just don't think she she communicated the fact that she understood that this was a I don't know it's I know precisely what but on it, I think I think she had some major failings.
Yeah, on a bitter in this on any part of it part. It's not her fault, you know? I mean, you know, I think being a woman was a major problem for her in this particular environment. But there was things that she did that need it much worse for her. So Well, anyway, next block, I look for Teo. You're you're you have. You always have, like, a a ba format, and you're the blog's I read at least. And you always wrap it up.
And it's always a certain length. It's concise. And that well articulated. And so were you here today in answering these questions. Peter. Thanks for joining me, man. Well, thank you for for interview. They're they're good questions. Awesome. Glad enjoyed them. Thanks.