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Sunday, February 13th, 2011
9:33 pm - Last night a DJ saved my life.
Leigh and I renewed our wedding vows today. It's not something we'd thought much about, but a ski resort was having a mountaintop wedding and renewal ceremony, and everyone that participated got free lift tickets. So it's a bit mercenary - we still meant every word, the ceremony was very nice, and we got free cupcakes.

But the main reason I'm posting is to share a playlist. On the three hour drive back, Leigh was at the wheel, and I was DJing. The rule was that I was trying to somehow connect each song. I was sort of proud of the results. I started with "September" because it had been stuck in my head all day.

September - Earth Wind & Fire
Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day
Autumn Leaves - Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones
Autumn In New York - Billie Holiday
New York City - They Might Be Giants
Christopher Street - Wonderful Town - Broadway Cast
Cranes - Moonshake
It's A Mistake - Men At Work
Maggie's Farm - The Specials
Love On A Farmboy's Wages - XTC
Synchronicity II - The Police
Supercop - Devo
That's Really Super, Supergirl - XTC
Army Of Me - Björk
Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Victory Polka - Kyser, Kay
Cold War - Janelle Monáe
Embassy Lament (from "Chess") - Andersson-Ulvaeus
Low Rider - WAR
Magic Carpet Ride (Steir's 1999 Ride Club Mix) - Steppenwolf
Magic Bus - The Who
Omnibus - XTC
Bus To Beelzebub - Soul Coughing
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
No. 18 Cancan (From "Orpheus in the Underworld") - Offenbach, Jacques
I Died So I Could Haunt You - Stars
Last Living Souls - Gorillaz
Enola Gay - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Keep It Gay - The Producers - Original Cast
I'm Super - South Park - Movie Cast
The Girls Want To Be With The Girls - Talking Heads
This Is the Remix - Girl Talk
Dum Dum Girl - Talk Talk
Valley Girl - Frank & Moon Zappa
Airhead - Thomas Dolby
If You See My Savior (by Thomas Dorsey) - Alex Bradford

The only really obscure one (in my opinion) is from "Last Living Souls" to "Enola Gay," but it's because, as Leigh pointed out, the two introductions are nearly identical.

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Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
7:45 am - Tucson
Every time we have yet another senseless gun massacre in this country, I find myself asking the same questions: "Is this ENOUGH people dead? NOW can we have some sensible gun control? If not HOW MANY corpses is the number? Are we there yet NOW? How about NOW?"

The answer is always no. We still haven't slaughtered enough of our own innocents to even consider restricting access to semi- and fully automatic weapons, extended magazines, hollow-tipped bullets, or any other form of firearm that simply has no place in hunting or "home defense."

Let alone doing away with the damned things entirely. Or even requiring licensing procedures at least as strict as those we require to cut hair or drive an automobile, both of which have legitimate purposes other than killing people.

Frankly, I don't see why private citizens should have a right to own anything other than single-shot hunting rifles. If you favor an "originalist" reading of the constitution, fine - let's do EXACTLY what the framers had in mind, and issue everyone a muzzle loading musket. And if you favor an "evolving" constitution, fine - let's take the second amendment to refer to the national guard, and ban EVERYONE from owning guns except for hunting.

I do not feel safe when others are armed. I would not feel safer if I were armed too.

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Saturday, December 18th, 2010
9:04 am - Off to the great white, er, west!
Leigh and I are driving to Colorado to go skiing in actual mountains. Huzzah!

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Friday, May 14th, 2010
8:53 am - Punchity Punch..
Yesterday was my last day at my job. It's amazing.. you wouldn't think getting fired would be so much WORK. There's this exit procedure form I had to get six different people to sign, indicating that I didn't have any library books, that I had returned my keys, etc etc etc. The best part of the form was that it had a clause indicating that I hadn't made copies of any college owned software or hardware.


Do a LOT of people schlep their monitors down to the copy room and make photocopies of them?

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Thursday, February 4th, 2010
4:32 pm - #1 Song Meme, via principia
What was the #1 song the day you were born? Google the date and #1 song and then post your #1 song on your LJ - preferably with a Youtube vid if you can find one!

US: Oddly enough, ALSO Roberta Flack, just like the person I stole the meme from: "Feel Like Makin' Love"

UK: George McCrae - Rock Your Baby

Actually, you know what? I can't be arsed to find a video of EITHER of those songs.

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Sunday, January 17th, 2010
11:08 pm - Holiday Vacation Update (late as usual)
I've been forgetting to talk about our wonderful holiday vacation. We had planned everything and purchased the tickets before we found out my job was going away, so there was no way we were going to back out. We determined to just have a good time, and start saving like crazy once we got back.

We went to San Francisco, which is our very favorite city in the world. The trip was just perfect. drdingbat found us a fantastic apartment to rent just three blocks away from Haight & Ashbury. This being SF, it was three blocks straight up, but that kept the stoners away. We didn't muck around with a car, but just got a bus pass, and had a fantastic time bonking around the city.

We saw Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker the first night, and McCoy Tyner the third. Both were amazing in their own particular idioms, and it was just such a change to be able to go see bands we've actually heard of. Tuesday night we went to the Red Vic, a legendary repertory movie house on Haight. Again, there are so few repertory theaters anywhere in the country, it was just a delight to see something on a big screen on actual film. (Even if "something" in this case was a somewhat odd David Bowie concert movie)

Daytime activities included wandering around Land's End (beautiful), scoring one of the two the best cheeseburgers in America on Tuesday morning, visiting the SF Museum of Modern art, not riding a cable car, and being alternately irritated and grateful that the nearest Amoeba music is 3,000 miles from where we live.

New Years Eve was spent with the always delightful dejablue in a remote location. With Alpacas! (That looks like something you could see on a product pacakge: "Now, 20% more Alpacas!")

At the end of the week, we rented a car and drove to Tahoe, where I went skiing for the first time on an actual mountain. It was amazing. All the crowds had left, I had a really good lesson, and by the end of the trip was skiing successfully on slopes that didn't bore Leigh. The views of the mountains and the lake were stunning, and the weather was perfect.

All in all, an amazing trip. I hope we can afford to do it again someday.

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Sunday, October 18th, 2009
8:23 pm - New Computer
My current computer is 4 years old. It still works just fine, and I've kept up with upgrading the things I can upgrade, but it's been long enough that little things aren't working like they ought to any more.

Plus, four years is a long time. I am developing computer lust. Add to that the fact that my piano will be paid off in two weeks and my car will be paid off in two months, and it's time for a new one.

This time I'm chucking Dell overboard and building my own, and here's what I have so far:

Processor: Intel Core i5-750 ($200)
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D ($150)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon 5850 1GB ($260)
Hard Disk: 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 ($80)
Memory: 4 GB (2x2GB) Crucial Ballistix Dual Channel Kit ($70)
Cooling: Cooler Master HC 212 ($30)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit ($109 for OEM version via Vista upgrade coupon)
Case: CoolerMaster HAF 922 ($100)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W ($100)
Drives: LG Black Blu-Ray Burner ($180)

Total: $1279

I'd love to hear some thoughts on this rig from the techie folks. 'twill be used for gaming and general productivity stuff. (Obviously the gaming is driving the selections.) Any suggestions/additions/deletions?

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Saturday, October 17th, 2009
10:15 am - We love you, Nico
We're just about to take Nico to the vet to be euthanized. This is about the hardest goddamned thing we've ever had to do.

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
11:15 pm - More inexplicable Finnish music...
Pretty good rapping for a non-native English speaker.

Hell, if you check out their website, it's better written than 90% of AMERICAN websites. (not that that takes much)

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Monday, August 24th, 2009
11:26 am - Bouncy Finnish Pop! Yay!

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Friday, August 21st, 2009
6:00 am - Ergh...
We're home safe.

I stayed up until 10:30 last night, but my stupid body still got me up at 5:30. It may be 1:30 in St. Petersburgh, but I think I'm going to be royally jet lagged for a few days.

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
2:04 pm - Almost done..
St. Petersburg is something else entirely. Perhaps it's the different alphabet, or the fact that the architecture is spectacular and crumbling simultaneously, or the subconscious awareness that the country doesn't have a functioning rule of law, but the city is amazing and scary and wonderful all at once.

The Hermitage museum is like nowhere else I've ever been. I've been to the Prado and the Louvre, which also contain collections far too vast to see in a single lifetime (let alone one day), but with the Hermitage, the museum itself is also the exhibit. Parts of it are staggeringly opulent, and others are frighteningly decayed. Raphaels are displayed next to open windows. Every room has a dozens of works of art, and usually at least one that makes you stop and say "I've seen THAT one before." The crowds are dizzying.

It's actually a good metaphor for the whole city; squalid and extravagant, crowded and introverted, busy and mysterious all at once.

Tomorrow we finish up in Russia, take the train back to Finland, sleep in the Helsinki airport overnight, and home again Thursday!

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Sunday, August 16th, 2009
10:54 am - Now I've heard everything...
Today's the last day of the conference - Leigh gives her presentation this afternoon. Last night I went to a concert of Finnish military jazz bands.

The first band was a traditional big band, I think.. I only actually heard part of the sound check.

The second band was a very direct homage to the Gil Evans - Miles Davis collaborations. Flute, tuba, French horn, that sort of thing. Very well done.

Then there was the third band. I don't know where to begin to describe them. Musically, they were a Blues Brothers-esque horn based electric blues/rock type band. As part of their introduction, they played the "Gimmie Some Lovin" ostinato in the rhythm while the horns played "Finlandia" over it.

Pause a moment and picture that.

Did I mention they all looked about nineteen? Their first two numbers involved the lead singer belting out a couple of what I assume are pop numbers (in English) and culminated in him doing a standing back flip. If an American military band sang some of those lyrics, they'd be court-martialed.

Then the main lead singer came out. He was tall and bald and older than anyone else there.

He belted out "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and "Play that Funky Music," and "A Change is Gonna Come." It was surreal as hell.

Here is blurry cellphone video of the concert that someone else posted: Word Up

Oh, and the previous four days of sightseeing in Jyväskyä were very nice too.

Off to St. Petersburg!

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009
10:24 am - Hello from Jyväskylä!
Another quick update, as I'm at a public terminal. Finnish keyboards don't shift keys around, but they move the "enter" to the right to make room for ä,ö, and å keys.

Helsinki is a very different feel from Stockholm. It's not as outrageously beautful, but it also feels a little more "real". We visited the Suomenlina (sp?), an island fortress in the harbor, as well as the monument to Jean Sibelius. (and lots of other stuff) The cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki was also quite amusing, as it turned out to be what the locals refer to as a "booze cruise". Still, cheaper and prettier than flying.

We are now in Jyväskylä (See? Those extra keys come in handy!) for Leigh's conference. I'm wandering around the city. It seems small but interesting thus far; it's only our first day here.

Oh, and today is our 4th wedding anniversary. Rating thus far? A+... would marry again.

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Saturday, August 8th, 2009
5:00 pm - Stockholm is wonderful.
Hey folks, just a quick update to keep my chronology in order later. This is the end of our second day in Stockholm, and it's just a wonderful city. We're staying on a boat that used to be Barbara Hutton's yacht, and is now a semi-snooty hotel.

The first day here we just sort of bonked around the city and tried to survive the jet lag, but we did catch a very nice organ recital in the royal chapel. Today we went and saw the Vassa, which is a 350 year old galleon which was preserved in Stockholm harbor for centuries. We also went to the modern art museum, which had, among other things, a famous goat with a tire on it.

And for dinner I had reindeer.

Tomorrow night, we are off to Finland!

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
4:28 pm - Publication!
I've just had an article accepted for publication in The Instrumentalist, which is a big deal in the "professional bando" set! They want pictures and a biography and everything. The article is titled "Rehearsal Etiquette for the Conductor," and is about treating your band with respect during rehearsals.

Unlike a university position, I don't have a publication requirement, so this doesn't help directly with tenure, but it sure can't hurt!

In other news, the wife and I leave for Finland, Sweeden, and Russia tomorrow. Which will rock.

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Thursday, July 9th, 2009
8:56 pm - Hello Cleveland!
Say, Cleveland persons... I'm thinking about driving down this weekend to play with the Italian Band on Sunday. Anyone want to get together for dinner and or bridge on Saturday? It doesn't HAVE to be bridge, but I'm jonesin' for a fix.

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
12:13 am - Only one thing taste like bacon...
...and that's BACON!

This evening, I went to a bacon tasting. I can die happy.

And based on the amount of sodium I just ingested, I probably will.

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009
9:30 am - Tractors. Just.. Tractors
Last night I played a really dreadful gig. The Lansing Concert Band Big Band played our annual tent gig for the Lions' Club in Williamston. Usually, a fun evening. Last night, just the other side of the fence?

A Tractor Pull. No, really. From before we got there until after we left, enormous very loud tractors. Try playing "Moonlight Serenade" over that.

They weren't even musical tractors, like the one I posted two or three entries ago.

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Friday, June 19th, 2009
4:53 pm - Erdös Numbers
Having never even HEARD of an Erdös number before today's xkcd, I am pleased to report that I have an Erdös number of no more than 7.

Update: If you count this video and community theater productions, (A HUGE stretch, I am aware) then I have a Bacon number of 2. This would mean that I have an Erdös-Bacon Number of 9.

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