Finally playing Piazzolla's "Oblivion" on flute

Almost a year ago, I almost played Piazzolla’s tango “Oblivion” on flute with piano accompaniment by Henry at a party but I ended up playing melodica instead of flute.

Having the opportunity to play with Henry again, this time I played it on flute, finally! I had found an oboe and piano arrangement which we used, sight reading it. I think the arranger filled in his own ornamentation into the melodic line. I only used that as a guide. Personally, when I play “Oblivion”, I improvise my own embellishments on the spot, depending on my mood. I play it very freely: it cries out for self-expression.

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RIP Ray Dolby: yes, I still have cassette tapes!

Ray Dolby has died. I know him for one thing, basically: invention of his noise reduction system, so valuable back in the days when almost of my music was on cassette tape (I had LPs also) and I was inseparable from my Sony Walkman. I still have a cassette tape deck with Dolby B, C, and S. I don’t use it any more because I have long since given away almost all of my cassette tapes, both prerecorded and recorded off radio, LPs, or CDs (before I finally got a CD player late in college). Read On →

My first post on The Chess Improver: The Value of Thematic Complete Games Against a Weaker Opponent

Today is my debut as a contributor to the blog The Chess Improver, thanks to the invitation of GM Nigel Davies to join in the sharing of ideas and observations about improving at chess (and even more generally, other endeavors as well). I will be regularly writing about chess there instead of here. Note that although the blog does not support comments, Nigel Davies hosts lively discussions about each blog post on Facebook through his account. Read On →

Was it worth sprinting to a terrible fall to finish 25th in the CMU Pretty Good Race 5K?

On a pleasant Friday late afternoon, not too hot or humid, I ran my 9th CMU Pretty Good Race 5K (and this was Abby’s 3rd).

Two weeks ago, I did the Run Around The Square 5K in my slowest time in 13 years. I was happy to be finishing a 5K race at all. I’ve improved some in fitness in the past two weeks, but not enough to make a big difference for today.

Like last year, I was going into this race not optimally fit. However, given that I just ran a 5K two weeks ago, I had a good idea of what I could do in another 5K, how hard I could push myself. Like I said last year, “It’s not about how fast I went, but how much I gave of what I had”.

I never expected just how much I would give this year.

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My second meeting of the Steel City Ukuleles: why I already signed up to perform before being ready

I’ve entered my seventh week of playing ukulele. Last month, I wrote about finally starting to learn to play ukulele and then attending my first meeting of the Steel City Ukuleles. I just attended my second meeting after having improved a huge amount in two weeks (oh, the joy of being a beginner). Adam led a great playlist of songs for us to go through. Steel City Ukuleles T-shirt Franklin wearing Steel City Ukuleles shirt The first thing I did upon arrival at the session was to pay for and put on the Steel City Ukuleles T-shirt that Sunny said was for sale at my last meeting. Read On →

Reflections on my slowest Run Around the Square 5K in 13 years

This year was the ninth time I ran in the annual Run Around The Square 5K race, and Abby’s third year in a row. The conditions were great: cool and dry, in contrast to the usual hot and humid conditions at this time of year. (Last year I reported on my eighth running of the race.)

Both Abby and I ran this race rather slowly, but were happy and enjoyed the day. Here’s why.

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Celebrating Claude Debussy's 151st birthday through unusual performances of Syrinx

There was much ado over Google’s “celebrating” Claude Debussy’s 151st birthday through a “Claire de Lune” doodle. It turns out that I do totally love this piece of music, but it may well be true that many people do not know much about a lot of the other great music he wrote. Syrinx Anyway, I decided to celebrate the birthday in my own way. I chose Debussy’s famous work for solo flute, Syrinx, as a starting point. Read On →

RIP Marian McPartland of Piano Jazz

Marian McPartland, longtime host of NPR’s “Piano Jazz” on the radio, has died. I really enjoyed dipping into her radio program over the years, hearing her play hearing her guests play, listening to the conversations. The main impression I always had was alertness and warmth. RIP.

Another unexpected life change: one month of learning to play ukulele

Almost exactly one month ago, on Monday, July 22, I vowed to spend at least a couple of minutes a day for two weeks attempting to learn to play the ukulele.

Here is how the story began and how it has unfolded in the past month.

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Power and the AOL public firing

By sheer coincidence, two articles came to my attention within a short period of time that seemed to go well together well. The first: “Power robs the brain of empathy”. The second: “Listen To AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Fire A Patch Employee In Front Of 1,000 Coworkers”. I’m not making a judgment on whether the guy deserved to be fired or whatever, just intrigued by the way he was fired.