Free press all from a doggie.

A weekend of recovery.

I started writing this post about how I am slowly shaking off the bad influences of a company I left 2 years ago back on the east coast. But I realized it didn’t rightly matter to go into depth on things that aren’t worth noting anymore.

This weekend was sort of the first stage of recovery from well, everything. I had busted my butt to rearrange life and work before the move, and then threw the move in on top of job chaos. End result? Tired tig.

I’m in CA now and slowly getting a handle on things. In the next month or so I expect to get the immediate moving debt repaid, and taxes solved. Those are two of the giant financial hurdles I’ve been staring down like death across a chessboard.

Consequently this weekend I ended up feeling “lumpish.” I’ve been on the run doing things for so long I had quite forgotten how to relax. I was simply wound up too tight. My mind was crying for mental rest last week so I did it. Er. Well. I tried to.

I ended up clearing another big pile of yard trash away, doing 4 loads of laundry, getting Sue’s new GIANT SCANNER OF DOOM to work, making a joint dinner with the roommates, did some basic shopping, scheduled and took a cat to the vet, put stuff in storage, generally cleaned the kitchen, did the usual server maintanace, cleared anthrocon registrations, and also sneaking in a morning to “sleep in.” (something rare for me of late.)

All in all though, I got the mental rest and also spent a few brainless hours gaming and relaing. The roommates have been in this house for years, are settled and yearn to go out and do things on the weekends. I’m sure I will join them soon and I greatly appreciate their invites. In the short term, it feels like an iceberg metling. I can see the weight slowly lifting. God I am so glad I came out here.

Weekend fun

So I hopped by the hardware store and picked up cement, sledge-axe and a wood-splitter. With more than a bit of help from dustykat who can both wield a wicked axe and mix concrete, we pulled two of the stumps out of the side of the driveway, cleared the ground level down, and filled in the spaces with concrete.

The remainder of the weekend was taken with keeping the fresh concrete watered to cure decently, and nursing a pulled back from the former activity.

All in all it’ll be good fun to be able to park on the driveway this evening. Reclaiming useful space is fun.


And you thought you had a bad week:

Headline: Blood Sprays Out of Sewer, On City Worker

Quote: “Blood just all over my face, in my mouth, I could taste it. It was terrible. I had it in my mouth and I kept spitting and I couldn’t get rid of it,” said city worker Ron Huebner.

It’s like a car-wreck. You have to look…


Ohlone SLO concert.

So I think I’ve mentioned before that I play with the Ohlone Wind orchestra. I’m very glad to have found a quality music group after moving out here.

They don’t have quite the quality of finesse and subtle control of dynamics and intonation that the Bucks County orchestra in PA had, but for raw per-player skill they are probably the strongest group I have had the pleasure to play with. As far as I can tell and hear, we don’t have a single weak player.

The San Luis Obispo concert went very well a few weeks ago. I got a copy of the live recording on CD and have digitized it on MP3. There are a few quite obvious mistakes made here and there, but as a live recording I’d give it a B+. There are some positively jaw dropping passages in there.

Some quick notes on the pieces:

Dynamica (by Jan Van der Roost) is one of those fabulously technical pieces. We had trouble actually finding a copy in print, and ended up contacting the composer directly who bought it for us directly from Belgian music shop. The composer himself is Danish and comes out of the strong and recent wind ensemble tradition there. This may be one of those “technical” wind pieces that’s more interesting to play than absently listen to, but at least the bass trombone gets a few fun licks here and there.

Canzona (by Peter Mennin) is one of those early touches of modernism that crept into wind ensemble music in the 1960s when folks started to treat bands as a more serious format. It is a fine example of thick chordal structure, use of parallelism, and counterpoint. We did a splendid job recording this piece. To me, this, as well as Dynamica and Away Day remind me of music I would expect to hear in a move soundtrack. Highly suggestive of tensions and resolutions.

O Magnum Mysterium (by Morten Lauridsen) is something completely different to balance the program. A reverent and gentle piece, it has almost a pleading effect. These are terribly difficult to play and play well, with so much attention required. You really have to concentrate to handly the sparsly orchestrated phrases, especially as they change colors and cross instrumental lines.

Symphonic Dance Music from West Side Story (arranged by Ian Polster from Leonard Bernstein’s music) There are two standard arrangements of music from West Side Story. Both are incredibly difficult and both have their problems. The Polster arrangement (which is the better piece in my opinion) stays very true to the orchestration and feel of the original score. The trouble is it was arranged so close to the release of the play, his selection of tunes feels odd. It wasn’t until after the movie soundtrack became a smash hit that tunes such as “America” and “Gee Officer Krupke” became the big hits that everyone remembers. Lacking the 20/20 vision of hindsight, this piece focuses on the dance numbers from the play. That blemish acknowledged, this is an incredible piece. And being true to the original score, it has all the professional-caliber difficulties of the music. You’ll never get lost quicker than trying to count your way through this piece. And this is the first group I’ve ever been in that successfully got all of the voices to speak during the “cool” fugue. The low brass are exceptional. With the exception of small individual mistakes, this could be a professional recording of this arrangement.

Away Day (Adam Gorb) is introduced by our conductor also talking about himself and the group in general. As with much of the book on this concert, it is fantastically difficult. Probably moreso than other pieces on this program, the difficult nature and frequent changes and meter are probably more evident. Again, it reminds me of a movie soundtrack for some unknown movie or chase scene.

All in all it was a hell of a book to play. (I got the additional pleasure of coming only a few rehearsals shy of the performance.) The scary thing is our most recent concert locally was this plus a 48-minute-long version of Scherezade.

I have the dumb.

I don’t know how you work. But my mind doesn’t seem to work normally. Or maybe it does. Am I insane?

There are times I can absolutely bust ass on code and work. I can sit down and get a weeks worth of work done in a day. My grandmother noted it once when on one day I did a complete cleaning of the house. “Worked like a spartan.” was her comment.

Conversly, there are days when I seem to be absolutely unable to concentrate. Through years of working jobs I have taught myself to trudge through these times, where I can at-least feebly attempt work. But there are times I just cannot force myself to get anything done.

Today was one of those days. Concentration was absolutely at zero. Not a single trick I knew or could do from caffiene, to task swapping, to music, to moving about would be able to clear my head for anything more than a moment or three.

I had contracted the dumb.

Does this happen to you? I worry on days like this people will assume I am slacking off, because in most metrics, I am. But in the longer run I think I get a full work load done.

Or do I?


How did you spend your afternoon?


For folks in the Silicon Valley area and who are interested, the band I play with, the Ohlone Wind Orchestra, is playing its Spring Concert this Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 2:00pm.

The performance will be in the Smith Center on the Ohlone College campus in Fremont. (Directions linked here.)

The highlights of the concert will include “Symphonic Dance Music from West Side Story” and a wonderful transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scherezade.” (Rimsky-Korsakov is the guy who wrote Flight of the Bumblebee)

I believe there is a nominal ticket fee of $10. But I don’t mind subsidising that.

If you have questions, ping me and I can fill in details. Otherwise, see you there.


So this last weekend had a pile of fun yardwork.

It started out innocently enough. There is “degoba” in the back yard. It’s an old/broken hot-tub that has been that way more than a decade. And it gathers rainwater and slowly grows fascinating new forms of life. And mosquitos. Having a few days of warmth I spotted that the surface was fairly alive with young mosquitos.

So when we had a decent weekend we headed over to the hardware stores just to pick up a simple pump and maybe some screen-repair material for that back-door that needed a screen.

There is something in tech folks that breeds a geek weakness for hardware. Tools and toys. The recon team was composed of myself, revar and susandeer. Susan, while not encumbered with thee geek fetish for hardware, is a gardner. And they had a gigantic selection of plants. All on sale.

We were powereless against it.

Just shy of $300 later we snuck out.

And we didn’t have half of what we wanted and needed.

A small pump was procured and I quickly put it to the task of emptying degoba. It was a pong and fountain pump and we quickly discovered that the light hose aeriation of stagnat water had a sulfur and rotten-egg smell that could kill. Thankfully I was pumping it towards the neighbors lawn, so we were ok.

Degoba became a long-term process that was revisited many times over the weekend. The basic process was as follows:

* Pump out all the liquid the pump could flush out. (down to about a depth of 2 inches) This included pulling the pump out and clearing the intake if it got clogged.
* Once the pump had it down, take a shovel and a bucket and get as much of the “pudding” that remained into the bucket with the least amount of water. Words fail me to describe the level of rotting disgust that can germinate in the bottom of a decade old pool. “pudding” describes the physical consistency anyway.
* Use a garde hose to flush and refill the tub a bit. The goal here is to flush some of the pudding back into the water so that on the next pass the pump can get a lot of it out.
* Repeat a half dozen times.

The water started out a rich dark-chocolate color. By the last pass it was at something around been-in-the-pitcher-with-ice-melting iced tea.

I would have only had to have done a single pump and scoop if the “pudding” had been easier to handle. It was just hard to scoop well. It fell apart in a disgusting wet mess and I had a heck of a time not slopping it anywhere.

The buckets of pudding and chum were laid on their side carefully and allowed to drive overnight. They reformed into a smelly spongy material that was later tossed into the yard-waste to be properly recycled.

By Sunday afternoon we got to the final stage. An appropriate shop-vac that was going to be trashed was selected. It was used to empty the final three inches of pudding and then one final shallow rinse and shop-vac emptying and it was done.

The shop vac had been used with aluminium shavings before so I could not dump the pudding and liquid right out. As a last-gasp of disgusting, I used an old pillow-case to filter the final 15 gallons or so of liquid by hand.

Once dried the pillow-case and it’s filtration will properly go in the trash. The filtered liquid was dumped into a thick hedge in the front yard. The nitrogen rich liquid will probably do it well and any odd particulate aluminium that may have slipped by will be caught by the root system.

This is probably the single most disgusting bit of work I have done in a long while. But at least we have a lot fewer mosquitos and the bottom of degoba is now dry.

Interspersed with this liquid nightmare was the destruction of an overgrown bush in the backyard, half a bramble entrwined in it, and the careful unthreading of ivy from the houses main power supply and fuse boxes. Additionally a small tree and two bushes were removed from the edge of the driveway to make more room for parking. revar took on that heroic task and got the sizable bush and tree cut off at near ground level.

Sue got the flower-box under the main window replanted with a wonderful array of pansies and other cute things. She’s also looked at the backyard and started to layout and plan a garden.

I find it interesting the connotation of “garden” that she and I both have. I am used to “garden” being “a squarish plot where we grow food” where she defaults to “a manicured and pleseant place to live.” I think we’ll have a bit of both, but it’s an interesting observation on background.

I also pulled up a half dozen boards from the deck around the jacuzzi that are in the early stages of rotting. We’re planning on taking it all up and removing the jacuzzi as well. I don’t know if I can tackle more board work this weekend as I don’t want to damage my hands or pull a muscle in front of a Sunday afternoon concert, but I want to get that pulled apart and settled quick.

The whole yard has a automatic watering system. And part of reclaiming the deck space as lawn will involve extending that. That’s probably the biggest expense and concern in the short term. The construction minded neighbor seems to have an idea on how to quickly remove the hot-tub. I think once the destruction is done and some sod or grass seed is down (with probably hand watering initially) things will look a lot more confidant.

Ah well. Here’s hoping there’s no more “pudding” in our gardening for quite a while.

yay! It’s the weekend.

Nice documentary on Linux: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3498228245415745977

Slightly dated and some sections aren’t subbed in English, but it’s all good. It’s probably one of the best documentaires I’ve seen that carefully explains the concepts of Open Source, Free software (both beer and speech), Linux, GNU, and others with a decent dose of history.

For something completely different, have an early 1970’s novelty tune from the only artist to have both a vocal and isntrumental number one, and also the only artist to have 5 concurrent albums in the top 40.

Tijuana Taxi