Singing an Irish ballad as an Asian pirate at a Halloween belly dance Hafla

Franklin as pirate playing Irish flute

Tonight, I dressed as an Asian pirate and sang an Irish pirate ballad on stage at Khafif’s annual Halloween belly dance hafla.

Group photo

Three days ago, I would not have guessed I would be playing this small role in the hafla!

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Yet another haircut from Joe: always worth the wait

So today I got another haircut from Joe Feldman, at Harry’s Barber Shoppe in Squirrel Hill. Almost exactly a year ago, I fondly described my visit to Joe’s. Today, I still make the time to get my haircuts from him, after fifteen years now of having my hair cut only by him (other than one occasion when he was closed because of breaking his hand), on average of once every two months.

Today was probably my longest wait ever, over two hours! But it was worth it.

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My Pittsburgh Python talk: "Testing with isolation: concepts and examples using the Python standard library `mock`"


A week ago, I saw a message on the Pittsburgh Python mailing list:

We are looking for a presenter to talk about mock, pymox or other Python testing topics for our next meeting. If you have a different topic that you would like to present on, please let us know about that too, though preference will be given to testing-related talks this month.

I fairly quickly volunteered to talk about the Python standard library mock, despite never having used it!

Here’s a brief report of the Pittsburgh Python meeting in Google Pittsburgh (along with links to slides).

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Reflections on Food Day

Soup and veggies

A year ago I celebrated Food Day for the first time, by sharing some reflections on what food means to me. Today I review my reflections and some more.

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Playing recorder in a group

Today was the second meeting of the current season of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Recorder Society. I reported last month on how excited I was to begin the new season. Pittsburgh Recorder Society dessert by Helen And it’s not just about the tasty desserts that Helen makes for us every month, of course (which basically compel me to exercise before going to the meeting). Read On →

French music jam with unexpected new musicians

Tonight was my fourth participation in Lisa’s French traditional dance music jam.

The evening started quietly, because only Lisa and John and I were present at first, and nobody else. Apparently people were either in classes or had other engagements.

We always love having more people join us in making music, so it was great that unexpectedly, we got two people into playing with us before I had to leave after two hours! So where did they come from?

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Pittsburgh Chess League Round 2: natural moves are often bad

Final position

Today I played in a round at the Pittsburgh Chess League for the first time in almost two years!

This was round 2 of the current season; I was fortunate that our team got a bye in round 1 last month, because that bye had made it possible for me to attend the Pittsburgh Recorder Society meeting instead.

Today’s lesson: “natural” looking moves in chess are often bad, and even fatal. My game contained a lot of “natural” moves by both myself and my opponent that were no good.

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Introducing a friend to the joys of trail running in Frick Park

Today I had the special pleasure of introducing a friend to the joys of trail running in Frick Park.

It all started with a casual comment Chris made in late August that he was thinking of doing some distance work in Frick Park, to get a change of scenery from where he lives and runs, south of Pittsburgh. I said, “Hey, let’s do this together”, and looking at our schedules, we determined that today would be the first day we could sync up for a long run in the morning.

So basically, we had this run planned a month and a half ago. And luckily, the weather was great today!

This was our first run together, outside of our both having just last week run in the Fineview Stepathon.

Back in August, Chris had warned me that he might be slow. I said that I did long runs slowly in any case, only speeding up near the end. What I didn’t say was that I fully believed that with the training he’s been doing toward the goals of his first 10K (which he has done: he did the Great Race 10K this year), his first half marathon, and his first marathon, he was going to get fast in just a matter of months.

And I was right! We ended up running 13 miles, and not very slowly.

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Musicians' workshop by the contra dance Great Bear Trio at the Pittsburgh Fall Dance Weekend

I was invited by Donna to attend a musicians’ workshop being held as part of thePittsburgh contra fall dance weekend. Members of the Great Bear Trio discussed their perspective on the interplay between music and dance. It was a great opportunity to hear some frank and useful advice about how to work with dancers as musicians in order to collaborate to create great experiences for both, given that often there are differences in expectations. Read On →

Final round of Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament: clawing back from a terrible position to draw and tie for first

Final position

Tonight was the sixth (and final) round of the current six-round Tuesday night tournament at the Pittsburgh Chess Club, the 14th Fred Sorensen Memorial. As mentioned in my report on the fifth round, I was going into this final round paired against the only other player with my score so far, which meant that tonight, it was him or me, for first prize!

It turned out that we drew, and therefore split first prize, both of us taking home $145 for our trouble (let’s not calculate the hourly opportunity cost; we are clearly not playing chess for the money here, ha).

Was this a “gentlemen’s draw”? No freaking way. We were both out for blood in this game, and it lasted four hours and fifteen minutes, being the last game to finish. I was in trouble and in danger of losing during most of the game, thanks to a series of errors on my part early on when I had built up a real advantage and then squandered it. My best possible scenario was to fight hard for the draw, and I’m proud I actually got it, despite my opponent pressing hard and refusing to concede the draw until the very final position.

Here’s the story of what happened.

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