Categories: family, mens groups, open source, personal projects, tinnitus, woo
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Distilled Thoughts Archive

My Journey in Men's Groups

category: mens groups

In 2012, a health crisis in my hearing cascaded into a deep mental health crisis. I had support from a loving and very concerned wife, some good friends, and a skilled psychiatrist. I tried all sorts of modalities to heal my hearing, but nothing felt like it had a meaningful impact.

In 2013, my friend Dave SG flew out from Philadelphia to be around and give support for a week. During that visit, He convinced me to …

My Purpose in Life

category: personal projects

In the last two decades, I have produced a lot of high quality chill out music, releasing eight albums during that time. I am not a singer, and my music has no vocals.

In 2019, my wife inquired why I have yet to combine my sense of humor/play with my music. I took that to heart. During Covid, I created a new musical persona (headphone james) to explore creating silly, family friendly, music. Since then, I have …

My Parents First Visit After Vaccination

category: family

My parents just came out for a visit in California. I haven’t seen them in a year and a half, and it has been an historical year and a half.


It is such a poignant time now as well. Vaccines, hugs, people, summer, sunshine, sports upon more sports, shifting plans, body aches, planned and spontaneous gatherings, and in real life smiling faces. Celebrations and brewing adventures. And I finally saw my parents.

My …

The Headphone James Woo Scale

category: woo

This is my personal scale for measuring how “woo” you are (from 1 to 10):

1. Do you think that meditation might be a good idea?

2. Have you ever been in therapy or worked with a personal coach?

3. Do you ever consciously try to be present in the moment?

4. Have you ever felt a deep connection to a plant or the earth?

5. Have you participated in a ceremony or ritual with a community?

6. Do you have a …

Overcoming the need to be useful

category: open source

I wanted to make a good first impression when G-Research requested that we (the Open Source team) shepherd new functionality into OpenStack (the open source cloud infrastructure we use). I was a new contributor to OpenStack and I was motivated to demonstrate that open source could play a role in even the most secure environments.

Our goal was to enable SSL communication for OpenStack services, so that internal …

Song Feedback Web Application

category: personal projects

I’ve put time and care into the creation of my eigth album, Study Music, and created something I feel proud of.

Looking backwards, though, I had a hard time with the reception to my seventh album, “Oughta See”, from a few years ago. I was surprised that people didn’t seem to dig it as much my as previous work. It motivated me to ensure that things would go better with my next release.

I determined that I wanted …

When Laughter Hurts

category: tinnitus

A few years ago, prescription medication damaged my hearing. I now have tinnitus, which is a constant ringing in the ears. I also have hyperacusis, an uncommon condition where loud or percussive sounds physically hurt me – and aggravate my tinnitus. This means I am vigilant about protecting my ears, wearing earplugs or a headset virtually all the time I am not by myself. These conditions turned my world upside down. …

How I turned the corner

category: tinnitus

I’m both proud and relieved to report that I turned a corner in my life. I have trudged through darkness and come out on the other side.

There was almost a year in my life when I didn’t believe that life would get better. My hearing conditions are permanent, the options in my life narrowed, and many ordinary life situations became more challenging. This was the time when I was unable to see the path forward, so I …

Nope – A Muni train guessing game

category: personal projects

Jasper (5 years old) and I were waiting for a BART train downtown at the end of an epic all day adventure. As we waited, we heard the sound of the muni trains arriving overhead.

Jasper said, “I think it’s a J.”

I said, “I think its a N.”

Jasper waited a few beats, and said “Nope, its a K” with full confidence despite complete ignorance.

I thought to myself “Wow. There’s a great game for a five-year-old”

A couple …

Acoustic CR Neuromodulation Tinnitus Protocol

category: personal projects

It turns out there are a few treatments for tinnitus. Most of these treatments involve sound therapy, where the ultimate goal is to help retrain your brain to tune out the tinnitus. These therapies have been shown to be effective for some percentage of people with tinnitus – probably less than 50%.

The most recent tonal therapy is called Acoustic CR® Neuromodulation, and there’s a dandy scientific paper that …


category: tinnitus

In 2013, I felt like I had reasonable handle on how my life would unfold. I had an established career, a stable marriage, a small child, and a hobby or two. Sometimes life veers sharply from the anticipated path, and unfortunately that is exactly what happened to me.

In 2012 I tore the meniscus in my left knee while doing a fairly routine yoga pose – one that I had done hundreds of times before. Over the following …