Another terrifying music jam session but I played a little bit of blues and old time

Just earlier this week, I went to a music jam where I was afraid to play and so I didn’t.

Today Abby and I went to another intimidating potluck/jam session, this time hosted by Mimi Jong and Susan Wagner. Mimi had invited Abby, but hadn’t yet met me; I knew who she was through having been to an Appalasia performance with Abby at some point earlier.

This time I played a little bit. I almost didn’t, but felt that I had to start with something.

Read On →

Obama is speaking outside my office window, so why did I stay home?

Right now, President Obama is speaking on the College of Fine Arts lawn at Carnegie Mellon University, right outside my office window. Apparently, “the line for President Obama’s visit to CMU goes from Purnell to Gesling Stadium”. That’s some line.

Yesterday at work I saw a lot of setup going on out on the lawn:

CFA lawn being set up for Obama

Anyway, today I stayed at home. Why did I stay at home when I could have picked up a free ticket yesterday for this event? (Below is a photo of someone else’s ticket since I did not get one.)

Ticket for Obama event at CMU

Read On →

Petrified at a music jam session so I didn't play but watched and listened

Just yesterday, I went to a music jam and was anxious but got over that and participated.

Today Abby and I went to a very different one, a potluck/music jam hosted by Susan Waggoner, whom we’ve known for a long time through various Pittsburgh music and dance activities. Susan is involved particularly in the Cajun music/dance scene, and was also in the Accordion Pool Party that Abby played in three years ago, and also has been doing French dancing with us.

I was so terrified at this party that I didn’t play at all, despite bringing my instruments. I just didn’t feel up to it. But I learned a lot.

Read On →

My first French music jam: anxious but excited

Tonight I participated for the first time in a new local French traditional dance music jam session that is getting off the ground, organized by Lisa. I was really excited about the formation of our group.

How did this come about?

Read On →

Attending my first Google I/O Extended: Pittsburgh

Today, I finally entered Google Pittsburgh’s office in Bakery Square as a visitor for the first time, thanks to being told by a friend about an event called “Google I/O Extended: Pittsburgh”, which he sent me an invitation to. I decided to attend, out of curiosity.

Read On →

RSpec new expectation: finally not shoving a verb into a noun

I recently saw a note describing how Ruby’s RSpec will soon deprecate should in favor of the “new expectation syntax” expect.

I sighed. should was a terrible mistake in the first place.

Read On →

Walking the scenic route through Schenley Park to work

Two months ago, I spent a whole week commuting to work at Carnegie Mellon University by walking instead of driving, because of the annoyances of parking during Carnival week.

Because I enjoyed that experience so much, since then, I have walked to/from work at least once a week! Usually my route has included either Forbes Avenue or Schenley Drive, but once I went on other roads through Schenley Park.

Last week I started making the trails of Schenley Park part of my walk. This adds probably half a mile to the walk (for a total of just less than 2.5 miles from home to work); time efficiency was why I had not taken this indirect route before.

Here are some photos of my walk to CMU last week.

Read On →

Review of Coursera course: Model Thinking

I finally got my “Statement of Accomplishment” for the Coursera course “Model Thinking”, which lasted for four months, starting in February, taught by Scott Page of the University of Michigan.

Read On →

The Joy of Eating Ice Cream for Breakfast

Trader Joe's Coffee Bean Blast ice cream

Recently I started eating ice cream for breakfast. I was amused because this was something I haven’t done since I was a child, when my sister and I managed for a while to convince our parents to let us eat ice cream for breakfast.

Is there a contradiction between my eating ice cream for breakfast and my supposedly paying attention to my health?

Read On →

Preparing for my first solo flute performance: notes on perfectionism and high standards

A month ago I reported on getting a new flute that was more ergonomic for me.

I am definitely enjoying the new flute. In particular, as I’ve been practicing an Allegro movement of a solo flute sonata, the fast passages involving a G# are painful and awkward on my old flute that has an inline G instead of an offset G. The offset G eases the reach for my short ring and pinkie fingers. As you can see from the photo, my left pinkie finger in particular is so short that even with the offset G it is almost completely straight! (And this is with my proper placement of the flute somewhat down and forward from the body to minimize the twist of the entire left hand.)

Franklin's left hand on flute with offset G

(The split E also helps a lot right now, giving me a clean E much more easily than my old flute, but this has nothing to do with ergonomics.)

First solo flute performance

The big news is that I’m preparing to perform solo on flute on Sunday for the first time in my life. This after having really played flute only for half a year. Yes, I’m nervous, of course. But I volunteered to do this. Why?

Read On →