Blog: Recapture and Refailure

Recapture and Refailure
Recapture and Refailure
Date: 2018-Nov-17 22:35:30 EST

I had a conversation with my officemate about playing music recently - he's slightly older than I am, and has a background in databases and data visualisation. During it I remembered all the times I saw my dad playing piano when I was growing up - learning to do some jazz pieces and to play some Ragtime tunes. He went off in some different directions than I did - learned trombone and other "band" instruments and played in some Yugoslavian bnad (we have no such roots but he liked the company) in town, while I focused much more on orchestra, although the piano is a strong overlap, as well as an interest in more theoretical (or at least more generic, like beat and tone) aspects of music. Over much of my adult life, access to a piano has been fairly rare, but on occasion I had prolonged access, I've really enjoyed it, and often have eventually meandered into improvising new rag tunes. The conversation made me realise how much I missed it, and how frustrating it is not to be able to fit a piano into a NYC apartment. My officemoate noted that a lot of keyboards nowadays are very different than decades past and actually feel like real pianos. He suggested a place to check out. And on my way there I called my dad, who was also thinking about buying a nice keyboard (I've ceased to be surprised at odd similarities between my patterns of thought and my father's; when we share so much genetically and he provided at least a slice of my upbringing, despite not having been around that much and also being a bit on the reclusive side, examples abound. My father recommended a brand and a style, I went there, and after trying them out (yes, the key response is nearly perfect on these), I picked one. Great success.

Except. I then got a reminder that I'm not in my 20s anymore (or my 30s), in that lugging it home was very difficult, involving lots of breaks. After making it most of the way there, I found the weight on the box (in kilos), translated it to pounds, and .. yeah. about 90 pounds. I at least felt less bad about having a tough time. Age may not always be kind to me (although my gym time is helping), but this is heavier than most things I've struggled with, and the handles (made of tape and plastic bags, that a store employee built for me) were very point rather than distributed, and the whole thing interfered enough with normal walking that I tired more quickly. Getting it up to the 5th floor was also rough. Still, looking forward to when I have the energy to take it into the den, find a place for it, and get started. Yeah! Might even fit into some of my plans for Arietta, which now that I have the domain, I've been working out the website content. But really I mostly just want to play some rag.

I've also been reading up on things like functional and nonfunctional harmony, and checking out some musicians like Merle Travis and Bill Evans that've done some neat things with harmony and rhythm.

In art, I've recently become fascinated with the works of George Ault.

A few takes:

  • Amazon's "second HQ" is to be split, half of it going to Long Island City. My thoughts on this are complex. I don't really like Amazon as a company anymore (they ruined Whole Foods, they treat a lot of their low-end workers badly, and they engage in anticompetitive behaviour on their main store - not selling google products that compete with their digital platforms), despite them making some products I like (parts of AWS). I'm happy to see more tech growing outside of silicon valley, in particular in NYC, and I think it's wise they're ignoring people complaining that the city is full or somesuch rubbish - making a HQ where nobody wants to live (or does live) is stupid. Opening up shop in Pittsburgh makes sense, but Trenton would not. All that said, I really dislike that Amazon got some tax exemptions and other goodies from both cities that got half of its HQ2, and I think that should actually be banned (drafting the right laws to do that is hard but worthwhile, I think).
  • I haven't been impressed with what little I've seen of Cortez in her new office. At least on first glance she's much more populist than I'd like, an example being on how to arrange the committtes to deal with climate change where she's pushed for a structure mostly on the basis of the specifics having been in her platform, despite it having been made clear that the existing committee structure would likely do a better job. If she disagreed with that assessment that'd be one thing, but it's not acceptable that she's sticking to it just because she ran on it.