What unexpected life lessons have you learned from your father?

I came across a great story by a guy who wrote an article, “How my father gave me a terrifying lesson at 10”.

Please read the whole thing before reading further below, where I’ll share some stories about my own father.

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Revisiting Bach's Air on G String, from a singing and dancing viewpoint

Three years ago, I wrote a post comparing three very different performance styles for Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous music, Air on G String and indicating which I preferred.

I have received an unexpected number comments over the years, and thought it was time to write an update of my thoughts in response.

Primarily, I am responding to those who (correctly) criticized the unfortunately chosen exemplar of the style that I preferred. I tried to find better versions that might illustrate my perceptions. I also integrated some thoughts based on how I perceive music as a singer and as a dancer.

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Why I have never considered using a treadmill desk

Ten years ago, in 2005, a friend of mine sent me an article about a trend among some people to use a treadmill desk in order to squeeze in some exercise while working. He seemed to think it sounded like a cool idea that wouldn’t interfere much with work.

I have never considered using a treadmill desk. Because of a recent article that seems to confirm my thoughts from a decade ago, I’m posting my reaction here, along with a link to the article.

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The many faces of "Stella by Starlight"

Recently I got obsessed with the classic 1944 jazz standard “Stella by Starlight”.

I thought I’d share some very different interpretations of this music.

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Yes, I want my writing to be dated!

I just finished migrating both this blog and my programming blog from Octopress 2 to Hugo. During this process, I made sure to preserve my old URLs as well as Disqus, because nothing is as distressing to me, as a reader, as moved or broken links when I’m looking for old blog posts.

That said, there’s always the possibility of changing the “real” URLs and just using an alias with a URL redirect for the sake of old URL schemes. One possibility was to remove dates from my URLs, e.g., change something like http://conscientiousprogrammer.com/blog/2015/05/31/why-i-switched-from-octopress-2-to-hugo/ to http://conscientiousprogrammer.com/blog/why-i-switched-from-octopress-2-to-hugo/. Matt Gemmell, among many others, has argued for permalinks that do not include the clutter of embedded dates.

However, I made the decision years ago, when I had the choice, to keep the embedded dates, and I still stand by my decision today. Here’s why.

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When did the United States stop being violently anti-Catholic?

I read a great article “The war on Rome” on the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States. This led me immediately to remember some odd experiences of mine growing up.

My personal experience

Growing up in America in the 1970s, I thought Catholics were strange people. My classmates in school got to leave early sometimes to go to “catechism”. I didn’t ask what that meant, but that it was weird.

It didn’t help that my mother (an immigrant from Taiwan) explained to me that Catholics worship Mary instead of Jesus, whom “Christians” (as opposed to “Catholics”) worshipped.

Also, it didn’t help that there were evangelical Protestant kids at school who openly made fun of Catholic classmates in various ways, and even claimed the pope and Catholic Church were the friend of the “Antichrist” and the “Beast”. Never mind the complications added by the fact that I also had classmates who were openly Jewish (because they couldn’t celebrate Christmas like “everyone else”).

The social dynamics in elementary school were pretty confusing to me, a child of Asian immigrants, with no professed religion or religious instruction at home (at least one evangelical Protestant kid called me “heathen”). The Jewish kids and teachers treated me least weirdly; most of the others treated me as “foreign” in some way (note that I spent most of my childhood among non-Asians).

But things changed over time.

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What happens when you donate your used clothing?

I hate throwing stuff away, and that includes clothing I have that I no longer wear. Abby participates in clothing exchanges with local women in order to avoid wastage, and she takes my clothing also, to give away somewhere when possible. I was interested to read an economics blog post about possible unintended consequences, however, of clothing donations that go to low-income countries. Apparently, what happens is that this flow of used clothing thanks to globalization competes with local textile and clothing industries. Read On →

Discovering the Eolina, a beautiful musical instrument

I just discovered a musical instrument that was new to me, the Eolina, which has a surprisingly beautiful sound, given that it is a form of melodica, which although a perfectly fine instrument I enjoy playing, does not have the loveliest, most refined sound.

I encountered the Eolina through my following the YouTube channel of Gerard van Reenen, who is just some random musician I found on YouTube at some point in the past couple of years through some music search that I have now completely forgotten.

His specialty is playing duets with himself, by playing a wind instrument with one hand while accompanying himself on a keyboard instrument. Remarkably, he often makes this work quite well.

So what exactly is an Eolina, and what does it sound like?

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How I forgot to meditate after sixty days in a row of remembering and what that means

I woke up this morning feeling very tired. I also suddenly realized that yesterday, I forgot to set aside time for the daily meditation practice (just ten minutes a day) that I had successfully done for sixty days in a row, having deliberately started it shortly before Thanksgiving. I was pretty angry at myself. But I also thought about how it was possible that I slipped after sixty days, and what that means.

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For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: some black American voices that spoke to me recently

I believe today was the first time in my life I’ve officially celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

This means many things to me as an American (I am an Asian-American, son of immigrants).

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