Archive for April 2010


(Ed: Looks like this got stuck in my Wordpress queue and never got published.)

It’s hard to comprehend, but I’ve run out of April here in Seattle.  Tomorrow I head for Milwaukee for a week; on Friday, I fly to Atlanta to attend a Microsoft software extravaganza called Convergence; on the following Wednesday, Mrs. Perils will join me in Atlanta, and we’ll fly on to Myrtle Beach, SC for our annual family reunion at the Litchfield resort.  When I get back to Seattle, it’ll be May.  2010.  The lilacs, just budding now, will likely be gone.

I continue to play my trumpet.  The Rainbow City Band has entered its summer “marching season”.  I was wary at first, because what I liked about the band was the quality of musicianship and the challenging music we have played in our concert incarnation.  The “marching” rehearsals have sorta disabused me of this wariness, as the director has carefully chosen pieces to perform, and breaks us down and makes us play them with a high level of musicianship.  He avows that we’re a “concert band that marches”, a theme that I like.  A sampling:

  • Jai Ho - the Bollywood-ish theme from Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s an interesting mix of Indian meter and American song standard, and the rhythms are challenging.
  • Soak Up The Sun - I have always liked Sheryl Crow
  • Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire is great outdoor music
  • Mas Que Nada - a little Brazilian touch to offset the funk
  • Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band

What I think is happening here is, we’re reprising our director’s salad-day soundtrack.  We’ll perform in several parades during the summer, and I’m thinking it will be a lot of fun.

I’ve also been whoring around with another community concert band on Thursday nights that plays more standard fare like Oklahoma, Music Man, etc.  Not as demanding as 1812 Overture, to be sure, but amiable, and I find it preferable to lace up and play with a group than schlep down to the basement to practice.  And I continue to take a lesson now & then, and play trumpet trios with my teacher and another of her adult students.  We may do a recital later this summer, if we can settle on 4 or 5 of the gaggle of stuff we’ve been experimenting with.

Out Like Soggy Wool

After a premature warm spell that got everything blooming and budding early, our weather has been drippy and chilly for two weeks or more, and the light in the evening is often the only sign of progress in this stillborn spring.  I think it’s driven me to “cocoon” a bit - there have been a couple of days lately that I didn’t leave the house at all.

The NCAA basketball tournament may have had a lot to do with that.  At first, when Ohio State was playing, I felt compelled to watch, both their games and, of course all the others, because you never know which of the other teams they might end up playing; then, after OSU bowed out in the Sweet 16, it became merely an excuse to dally.  Since all the games are now available via online streaming, I could sit with a game on one of my dual computer screens, pull up a spreadsheet on the other and tell myself I was multitasking.  Didn’t even need a “boss” key.

The license to sloth ended Monday night with a thrilling championship game, however, and I need to get out & get active a little more.  I’ve been barely maintaining: biking to the gym every second day but, other than a leisurely 12-mile kayak trip a week ago, the bulk of my other exercise has been walking to restaurants.

I’ve had a chance to process the videos Mrs. Perils took of my band’s From Russia With Love concert.  Here are my favorites, not necessarily in that order.  My camera records sound nicely in stereo, but likes to normalize extremes, so these sound better at higher volumes than lower:

Stravinsky’s Infernal Dance and Finale from the Firebird.  Relentlessly driving, then a gorgeous horn solo before the finale.

Shostakovich 5th Symphony Finale:

1812 Overture.  Sprawling with thematic ebb & flow, 15 minutes long.  Amusing when Mrs. P figures out where the “cannon” is coming from:

The whole concert here.

OK, I’m going to go act on my assertion above.  Still drippy & cold, but it’s a downhill ride to the gym.

Tech Talk

Pretty much settled in with the new Macbook, slowly adding amenities and adjustments.  Still sort of mystified by a few things, but that’s just cuz I’m suffering IT fatigue and just naturally lazy anyway.  I’ve spent my entire professional career - the part that involves software consulting, anyway - condescending to retail training courses and “for dummies” manuals.  But the PC, DOS, Windows and I grew up together much like siblings, and I learned their features and quirks incrementally, as we shared bathwater and blamed each other when things went wrong;  OTOH, I’m late to the Mac party and hence ignorant of many of the simplest things that the allegedly non-techie Mac aficionados know by rote.  So, I’m thinking I could actually benefit from trekking down to the Apple Store at University Village and sitting through a couple of courses on the Mac, even if they patronize the crap out of me.

However, Saturday morning at 9 am would probably not be the best time to try to saunter into those heady environs, because that’s when the doors open for the first day of sales for the much-anticipated iPad.  I think it would be a blast to be there, but more to view it at a distance.  It would be like watching the Battle of the Little Bighorn through binoculars. Or Jonestown.

I’m intrigued by the iPad as a piece of technological eye candy, but when I start to think about how I’d actually use it, things get a little blurry.  As I move through the world, I almost always have my Macbook, my phone, an iPod and a digital camera in my pack.  Oh, yeah, and a book or two.  At first blush, the iPad seems to represent a convergence of all of these devices in a light, pretty package. On closer inspection, however, it doesn’t have a camera; has no phone capability unless you use something Vonage or Skype; can’t run my Windows software (like my Macbook can under VMWare); and only has access to a fraction of the books in print.  The net result is, I will still have to haul my separate electronics around most of the time and, given that, throwing the iPad into my pack doesn’t add a whole lot of functionality, except perhaps the 10 hours of battery life.

I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the first brace of kool (aid) kids possessing iPads, and perhaps I’ll see something I’m missing.   By that time, I presume it’ll be somewhat cheaper than $700.