All posts by davin

The evolution of sleep

My friend Miriam recently sent me this Inquiring Minds episode on sleep. Did you know that, just 100 years ago, adults regularly got 9.25 hours of sleep per night on average?

“Lack of sleep” and “being tired” are more serious than they sound. 8 hours a night seems to be the sweet spot (most people seem to know this), but did you know that if you get less than 7, there are biological consequences?  Insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with an increased risk of:

  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depletion of immune function, linked to malignancy cancer

“The link between lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization, a couple years ago, decided to classify shift work as a possible carcinogen.” – Matt Walker

Okay, some good stuff now – sleep does three things for learning:

  • Sleep the night before a day of learning seems to restore the ability of the brain to absorb new information
  • Sleep after learning also cements in the new knowledge
  • R.E.M. sleep takes all the new things you’ve been learning and builds webs of association, testing connections and taking memories further .. and this does have the ability to move your knowledge to wisdom as new things are realized

So that is pretty cool.

There’s been a lot of recent research on sleep, and much more of it is covered with Matt Walker, Principal Investigator at UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, in the linked episode. Pretty good listen …may even change your life.

Do you get enough sleep?



This is a shot from last year’s experiment (black and white) .. so it’s a bit of a throwback thursday I suppose.

Yesterday Miriam told me she liked reading this website, and now she’s on it! This was taken last year at Matty and Sarah’s wedding reception, which I did not ruin with a torch mishap, but I almost did.

There we have it.

change or transformation

Recently, I was doing a search for “transformation” – one of those words that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

In my head I was thinking “of course it means change” – and it does, but change of what? A google image search for the term “transformation” yields a much different result than a google image search for the term “change.” I didn’t care for either for my purpose, which is communicating about change. This morning I was walking to work and, as usual, I walked by a bunch of Canadian maple trees and I scooped the above leaf and decided that was a great metaphor for change – the fall is all about a shift in what we do and how we do it. Trees do this every year – they shed their leaves and all the stuff they do with those leaves as they prepare for winter, which I imagine is like tree vacation for them since they don’t have to do anything in particular.

Actually I just read that trees shed leaves in order to save water. Wow eh. #learning

victoria wine festival notes

A couple weekends ago, I went to Victoria Wine Festival to check out some new-to-me wines. I went with a friend and we limited ourselves to reds to get more of a sense of what we liked and didn’t like as much.

So I have a few notes from that. I am not a wine writer but I did take a few photos of what I liked to remember for later, so here they all are.


Very nice #vicwf

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beautiful packaging #vicwf

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Lovely Argentinian red – looks light but taste is surprisingly big #vicwf

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some #wine I liked at #vicwf #latergram #notes

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some #wine I liked at #vicwf #latergram #notes

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the velvet devil; some #wine I liked at #vicwf #latergram #notes

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some #wine I liked at #vicwf #latergram #notes

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Red Zinfandel has six times lower sales than White Zinfandel in the USA. I prefer mine red, however. #wine I liked at #vicwf #latergram #notes #big #bold

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Any-old-hoo, that’s all I got for now.

a life without sleep

“Life must be lived forwards, however, it can only be understood backwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Sleep is one of those basic things that seems simple at first, but as we progress through life, it seems to take on complexity without any additional effort from an individual. If one were to say, simply go to bed, the assumption may be that the rest was taken care of; one would wake up rejuvenated and ready to take on another great day. The next morning’s metadata might have tags like: #refreshed #sunrise #orange_juice #morning_show #running #writing #music #yolo.

Unfortunately for me, it almost never has.

In my adult life,  I have traditionally been a night person. I write music at night, like to exercise at night, socialize at night, work at night – you name it. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to do these things in the morning, it’s just that I’ve never felt like doing these things in the morning. I never questioned why I was more energetic at night; I just knew I liked life more when it was night time.

Then, one day, I happened to see a local doctor on the noon news talking about sleep:

This got me thinking: I have, in the past, received reports that I snore fairly consistently, and there has been a mention once or twice of lapses of breathing. I was not aware of these occurrences causing much of a problem – I mean, we are all limited to our own experience, and I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

As you may have heard, sleep is one of those three vital pillars of health, along with eating well [link to pal video] and regular exercise.  I couldn’t shake the thought: even if I got 8 hours of bed time, it doesn’t mean that I got 8 hours of good sleep time. I needed to investigate this; I needed to talk to my doctor about sleep.

My doctor asked me some questions, such as:

  • Do you wake up tired?
    My answer was “yes, but I assume everyone has their own version of tired.. I don’t have anything to compare it to”
  • Have there been instances where you’ve been told you snore or stop breathing?
    My answer was “yes.”

My doctor asked if I wanted to find out more about what was really going during my sleep; I agreed to participate in polysomnography (a multi-diagnostic sleep study) to track my sleeping patterns. The test was a simple overnight kit that I took home and returned to the sleep lab the next day.

The results came in – they look like this:


There are a bunch of lines:

  • Sa02 (oxygen level within blood)
  • Heart rate
  • Nasal pressure
  • Something called “Effort”
  • Supine or body position – supine just means whether or not you were on your back
  • Snore level

The numbered valleys mean low oxygen levels. When these patterns come together in a certain way, that can mean there was an occurrence of sleep apnea, which means I stopped breathing in my sleep. Each time this happens, my heart rate goes up as I temporarily (3 seconds max) wake myself up to start breathing again. Here’s some baselining for sleep apnea occurrences per hour of sleep:

  •  < 5: considered normal, most people are in this range
  • 5-15: mild
  • 15-30: moderate
  • 30+: severe

My doctor distilled it for me this way: “You have sleep apnea. Major league levels”:

  • While laying on my side (not supine): 40+ sleep apnea occurrences
  • While laying on my back (supine, how I spend most of the night): 60+ sleep apnea occurrences

This means, per hour, I was waking myself up between 40-60+ times to start breathing again. Sometimes, this means I am waking up more than once a minute throughout a night. It is unclear how my body, or brain, adjusted to this. As you may have noticed yourself, the body and brain need the benefits of sleep:

“It may seem obvious that sleep is beneficial. Even without fully grasping what sleep does for us, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible, and that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world.” – Harvard Medical School

No wonder I was waking up exhausted and worn-out every day. More sleep wouldn’t make it any better; during sleep, my body would be working more rigorously than when I was awake. This would be the case for, as far as we can tell, my entire adult life. It stands to reason that I am likely a night person because it takes me a day to recover from a night of sleep. By contrast, simply staying awake at night has been less exhausting.

So now that I had become aware of a completely fundamental health problem that was inhibiting all sorts of aspects of my life every day, what do I do? Now what?

There are a few options if you have sleep apnea; different solutions are more appropriate for different levels and causes of sleep apnea, such as a mouthpiece, continuous positive airway pressure, or more invasively, surgery. Through my doctor, I found a solution that was right for me, and I am finally experiencing what it’s like to wake up rejuvenated and well rested. So this is what people have been so satisfied about when it comes to discussing going to bed early.

It is interesting to know that my brain and body was coping with this as I went through various demanding stages of my life, where my energy levels were being utilized in the day time by full-time work, evening classes, as well as exercise, volunteering for various causes, writing music, running a business, and more, all in a single day. The brain and body must have adjusted itself to operate without consistent (or much) sleep. Now it will finally get a chance to adjust to the concept of having regular patterns of sleep, and who knows, maybe I’ll even start dreaming at night for what the next part of my life might be like..

AFK – Wandering Level

“wandering level” describes the mix as a whole .. it meanders this way and that; it’s a vocal-less, solitary journey in the country along an unmarked path. It’s the way of a traveller, but not a tourist. Wandering level is also an anagram for my first and last name.

Download AFK – Wandering Level – right click, save as. 469 MB; run time: 3 hours, 15 minutes.

tracklisting and some notes

  1. Sasha – Coma (Charlie May Ambient remix) [emFire]
  2. Christian Smith and John Selway – Mistral (Ambient mix) [Bedrock Records]
  3. Derek Howell – Stride (Peter Martin remix) [Proton Music]
  4. Guy J – Milestone (Original mix) [Lost & Found]
  5. DAVI – False Awakenings (Original mix) [Subtract Music]
  6. Peter Gun & Terzi – Acapulco (Kasey Taylor remix) [Iboga Records]
  7. Martin Roth – Epic Waves (Original mix) [Sudbeat Music]
  8. 16 Bit Lolitas – Friendly Neighbour (Original mix) [Anjunadeep]
  9. Damabiah – Irminsul, Le Pilier Du Monde (Andrew Bayer remix) [Natura Sonoris]
  10. Barry Jamieson – Phaze Loop (Cid Inc. remix) [microCastle]
  11. 16 Bit Lolitas – Deep Space Girls (DAVI remix) [Bits and Pieces]
  12. Ricky Ryan – Mess Monster (Barry Jamieson remix) [Avangardia]
  13. Cid Inc. – Blizzard (Cid Inc’s Dailchi Unit1 mix) [microCastle]
  14. Aeron Aether – Sparks (Original mix) [Nueva Digital]
  15. DJ Noor and Stefan Addo – Distances (Atrium Sun Dirty Breaks mix) [Mistique Music]
  16. Eelke Kleijn – Lone Ranger (Hybrid Soundsystem remix) [Manual Music]
  17. AMbassador – The Fade (Guy J remix) [Lost & Found]
  18. Kosmas Epsilon – Karelia (Original mix) [System Recordings]
  19. Franz Kirmann – Liza (Charlie May Atlantis Club mix) [microCastle]
  20. C-Jay, Le Ron & Yves Eaux – FantoomLust (Kasey Taylor remix) [Vapour Recordings]
  21. Zack Roth – The Longest Haul (Robert Nickson’s RNX remix) [Colorize (Enhanced)]
  22. Anthony Yarranton and Pete McCarthey – Techastreisand (Pete McCarthey remix) [Movement Recordings]
  23. Quivver – The Fog (Kassey Voorn Vintage Interpretation) [Visceral]
  24. Cirez D – Teaser (Deadmau5 remix Version 1) [Mouseville]
  25. SQL & Child – Nootropica (Original mix) [Outpost Recordings]
  26. Jeremy Olander – Rorschach (Original mix) [Cr2 Records]
  27. Shifter & Quivver – Pipe Control (Cid Inc. remix) [Plastik Park]
  28. Kenneth Thomas – Staircase Monster (Solarity remix) [Nueva]
  29. Protoculture – Topaz (Max Graham remix) [Armada Music]
  30. Oliver Smith – New Dawn (Original mix) [Anjunabeats]
  31. Pryda – Nile (Original mix) [Pryda Recordings]
  32. Guy J – Dizzy Moments (Original mix) [Lost & Found]
  33. Push – Strange World (Tranquilo’s Underwater Kingdom Chillout mix) [Bonzai Elemental]

a retrospective glance

I started putting together DJ mixes in 1997 and was DJing at all-night parties, clubs, and music festivals shortly after. The first few years, I was bringing some very anti-social, introspective music into very extraverted circumstances, i.e. parties full of young people staying up all night. I felt like I could do that because I made no secrets about what kind of music I was interested in sharing – I was on the radio pushing it out, and people seemed interested in that sound, and promoters booked me quite a bit. As years went by, there was a bit more festival play and club play, less all-night parties and less dedicated club nights focused on this particular sound. EDM was being commercialized; for the most part, that meant that DJs were being booked to help sell alcohol at the bar. That is the ugly truth of it; the music itself took a back seat. If people were caught appreciating music, well, that didn’t exactly pay the rent.

Time went by and it became clear that I would have several record bags: music for radio (calm, thoughtful music); music for parties (vocalized, happy, sometimes even aggressive); music for festivals (energetic, laser sounds, anthemic); music for outdoor events, i.e. a full moon gathering in the forest (atmospheric, mysterious, dark, epic); and of course, the music I made myself as AFK, Royal Assassin, Tiebreaker, Emerald Green, Trifecta and so forth, i.e. featured artist kind of stuff. All of these are distinctive sounds and very different creative directions, and any one of them could easily be a set on their own – and have been.

I don’t DJ at parties and clubs much any more; my lifestyle has changed to be less nocturnal – but the music itself is something I haven’t given up. It’s just something I have been enjoying mostly on my own.


Out of all my DJ mixes, this is likely the most introverted. Exploring music and listening for the layers and the mood of each composition is not really a thing you do in the company of people, unless you know people already do that on their own. It is wordless on purpose as to not distract from the qualities of each piece. Not to say that vocals cannot be an introversion, but rather that they can be demanding and engaging on a level that leaves a listener wanting more vocals of a similar quality, or turned off regardless of the quality of the music behind it; vocals can be quite polarizing for the listener.

Vocals over EDM have become a hallmark of pop music lately, and I’ve felt like distancing myself from that. Although you can dance to this music, I would not call it dance music. It’s a different relationship with music that I wanted to push away, at least this time, in favour of this study of synths and sifting syncopated sounds.


This is my first new mix since 2012. I’ve been gathering music as it comes up. These are pieces of inspiration; the fruit of 2 years of hunting. I spent a full year putting this together, and another 2 months making sure it flowed right, the levels worked, the cues made sense, and the right chances were being taken with some of the ambient blends. A 3.25 hour long mix takes a while to wholly proof. I do not know how many hours I have put into this, but the mix has been my getaway, consistently, for the last year. It’s a little creative outlet.

So this means that I have been working on it while I have been travelling: Tofino, Vancouver, Nashville, Sarasota, Key West, and also at 35,000 feet. The traveller theme is completely built into the mix philosophy: the mix image was taken with my iPhone while taking off from Houston, Texas. The lines are the skyline of the city as the camera did a time exposure and the pilot banked to turn the plane in the right direction.

“Completion-date” for the mix was never a question, I just worked on it when there was time, and didn’t know when it would wrap itself up. It has it’s own life, and in years-spent-on-music terms, this represents 11.25% of mine.

long format

At 3.25 hours and with no explicit narrative, I don’t really expect this kind of mix to appeal to most people. It’s fairly specialized in a direction that isn’t what I’d call popular. I called it a “study” above and I believe that’s what it is – how to weave several different sub-genres together over several hours. It is for the listener to interpret; it is meant to accompany the listener during whatever it is they want to do, and it provides no instructions on how to enjoy it.

rules and illusion

There’s all these rules I’ve made up for myself in order to make a good mix. They’ve been practiced in almost all of my previous mixes: the current track has the energy of the preceding track +1; foreshadow and hint early in the mix about different styles that will follow later in the mix so that the introduction of a full tangent in those directions is not a big surprise and flows naturally; give the listener a full exploration of the tangent before mixing away from it, or make the tangent build into a whole new direction; build from basic sound designs into more complex and affected sound designs; and evolve from simple repetitive riffs into melodic widescreen epic scores. There is a shared aesthetic logic to the collection.

There’s probably more that I can’t remember right now, but the sum of that is that you have a mix that seems to speed up, slow down, wind this way and that. But the truth is, this mix never changes tempo – it’s 126 BPM the whole way through. It seems to get quite fast towards the end, but it’s an auditory illusion created through layers and sequencing.

break up or stay together

This mix could have easily been 3 or 4 different mixes; it certainly has the content and the scale for it. That probably would have been easier on me to put together, and probably easier for the listener as well. That’s what I’ve done in the past, for the most part, but early on when I was putting this mix together, I decided it was not going to make compromises based on time – that the journey was going to take as long as the music in it demanded. This is the least I could do to really place these pieces in a way that honours the countless hours that the producers and remixers listed above put into their pieces.

technical notes

Mixed in Ableton Live 9 with the Complex Pro mode to preserve as much quality as possible while still being able to properly re-pitch tracks as necessary. It was exported as a 1.99 GB AIFF and then compressed to MP3 with VBR turned off, as well as the filtering options turned off. The mp3 is at 320K, and sounds, I think, pretty good.

how to work with me

Well, besides my LinkedIn profile, which describes some of my experience, skills, abilities and so forth, what should you know about the soft skills of Davin Greenwell if you happen to find yourself working with him?

Well, I am him, so I’ll share some insight on that, based on a series of tests I took to determine my personality / talents etc. One of the tests is about strengths (why work all the time on weaknesses when you can, instead, leverage what you excel at?) and another is personality based (MBTI). You can use this information to figure out how to interact or collaborate best with me (hi boss), judge me, or otherwise attempt to manipulate me in some manner.


These are themed by Gallup and the test is called StrengthsFinder; you can also see the full list of strength themes. As far as I know, there’s no free version of this test, so there is no link to one here.

  • Individualization
    People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
  • Futuristic
    People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
  • Activator
    People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
  • Learner
    People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  • Command
    People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.

Anyone who has worked with me will not be surprised by any of the above.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

The MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) test was first introduced to me as “a way for people to put other people into little boxes.” There are four dichotomies of personality in this test with a range in each; at the end of the test, you get four letters that describe your personality. For those of you keeping track at home, that is 16 possible combinations of letters, or 16 possible personality types.

So, my results (after multiple tests) are:

  • E (Extraverted)
  • N (iNtuitive)
  • F (Feeling)
  • P (Perceiving)

Some call the ENFP “champion,” “inspirer,” or other nicknames, which are no doubt chosen to make the test-taker feel good about taking the test and spread it to their friends. Nonsense aside, here’s a snippet of what that term approximately means:

“Like the other Idealists, Champions are rather rare, say three or four percent of the population, but even more than the others they consider intense emotional experiences as being vital to a full life. Champions have a wide range and variety of emotions, and a great passion for novelty. They see life as an exciting drama, pregnant with possibilities for both good and evil, and they want to experience all the meaningful events and fascinating people in the world. The most outgoing of the Idealists, Champions often can’t wait to tell others of their extraordinary experiences. Champions can be tireless in talking with others, like fountains that bubble and splash, spilling over their own words to get it all out. And usually this is not simple storytelling; Champions often speak (or write) in the hope of revealing some truth about human experience, or of motivating others with their powerful convictions.” – Dr. David Keirsey

You can read the full ENFP description on Keirsey’s site and then analyze me. It is somewhat accurate.

Some psychologist friends of mine think this test is mostly rubbish, so perhaps keep that in mind. Also, if you get one letter or another, that does not mean you are just that one thing, rather you may sway in that direction most of the time. For example: I have introverted times, which nobody believes happen because they don’t see me (imagine that) when I am spending time by myself. Anyway, there are a few free versions of this test online; here is the MBTI test I’ve been using the last several years.

topographic vector map of BC


I keep on making these and then switching computers every few years and losing them, so I’m putting it here. The above file is what it looks like, but it’s a .PNG; ignore it. Here is a link to the BC vector map in AI (Adobe Illustrator) format. If you need to know what an Illustrator file is, this blog post isn’t for you.

I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the elevations but this will generally do for presentations / report covers etc. It is based on a JPG I found through a Google image search, but this will reproduce far better if you are working in Illustrator or InDesign. If you need a more sciencey or accurate topographic map, I recommend you go to GeoBC.

If you are a topography nerd, you should view this list of North American ultras. There are some sweet prominences in there, many of which are in B.C.