Not a great start

It’s not been a great start to the day.

My phone’s software updated yesterday and reset the volume setting on the alarm clock. This was never going to be a good thing. Either it was going to be very, very quiet or IT WAS GOING TO WAKE UP EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!

I almost soiled myself when it turned out to be the latter, but that blast of volume was actually the better option as I had had a particularly restless night. My uneasy slumbers had been punctuated by dreams of Godzilla hurling flaming cars from the M3 onto nearby sports fields. And that wasn’t even the worst bit: some of the drivers of those cars had agrostophobia, and those that survived the impact and the resulting blaze found themselves wholly triggered. It was awful.

You can see why I feel somewhat unrested.

And then, with assessments for both kids beginning today, the careful balancing act on the drive to school between recognising the importance of the tests and not scaring our little cherubs half to death. And it really doesn’t help when one is so laid back he’s practically horizontal and the other is concerned that she might get a sum wrong.
At some point.
During the rest of her life.

With them suitably advised (one newly terrified, one newly blasé) (well, done, Dad), I headed off to work. I could have taken the M3, and indeed it was probably the route of choice, but the chances of being attacked by a mutated dinosaur seemed so much higher along that route, so I took the low road instead.

Along with everyone else who was avoiding death by traumatic exposure to grass.

Desperate times called for entirely sensible measures, and thus I employed a mixture of soothing Ludovico Einaudi and Susanne Sundfør to calm me down as those around me (many of them in these categories) gave their best efforts at sabotaging any attempts at me getting to the lab in time to complete yesterday’s experiments.

Suffice to say, thanks to Ludo’s Petricor [sic] and Susanne’s The Golden Age, I remained calm, focussed and got to work in time to add the appropriate reagents at an appropriate time.

It’ll take more than dinosaurs, dodgy alarm clocks, the spectre of school examinations and all of the traffic in Cape Town to beat me.

Although I could do with a nap right now.


Before you dive down my throat, that’s the way it’s spelled in the title of this Ludovico Einaudi offering.

You and I would spell it Petrichor, wiv an aitch.

Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

Yeah, like that.
But either way, you can hear the rain and smell that scent in this energetic yet beautifully relaxing song:

Petrichor happens (exists?) as the result of a two separate chemical processes triggered by the rain.

Firstly, oils – palmitic acid and stearic acid – secreted by during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when a chemical called geosmin (you may remember it from such post as Safe To Drink) produced by soil-dwelling bacteria called Actinomycetes is released. Geosmin and these plant oils combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.

Actinos – great to look at under a microscope, absolute bastards to grow in the lab.

Add to those two the “pre-rain” ozone smell you get ahead of storms and you’ve got the most evocative odour outside of cut grass and freshly baked bread.



Bit pressed for time, but need to write a blog post? Ludovico Einaudi has released a new video to promote his new Limited Edition Box Set.

It’s rather good (the video, but I’m sure the box set is worth a buy as well):

I love the clearly evident passion this guy has for his work, his music. I also like the fact that there’s a guy playing a violin like it’s a guitar just after 2 minutes in.
That’s actually the best way to play a violin – less invasive than with all that bowing.


A moment of calm. A moment of thought.

Ludovico Einaudi is the man for the job.

This could be a video about man striving to find God. It might be a portrayal of one individual desperate to rise above the clamour and chaos. Perhaps it’s both.

For me today, it merely represents the opportunity to stop and be at peace for 3 minutes.

Thank you, Ludovico.

Weird Day

Weird day.

Hot weather, back to work, student protests. All a bit chaotic.

So, as per every long-haul flight I take, it’s Ludovico Einaudi to the rescue. And he’s donned a superhero’s costume in the shape of his new album, which, now I’m back home, I have downloaded, post haste.

Here’s the official video from Walk, off his last album:

Nice and calming when set against the ridiculousness of the day. Or indeed at any time.

Ironically, my favourite track off the In A Timelapse album is Run. It’s kind of like Walk, but unsurprisingly, it’s faster, with contrapuntal Vivaldi and Pachelbel-esque overtones. It’s still beautifully relaxing though.

The new album is called Elements (as you’ll know if you’ve been here before) and, at first listen, seems to be a step into the more contemporary, with more electronica and deeper bass. I’m looking forward to giving it more attention before reporting back.