Friday, March 27, 2009

Light and Blue

Whew. I had a surprisingly difficult time grabbing an acceptable recording of this. I played it very well at Monday night lessons, and figured it would take five minutes, tops, to reproduce what I had done there. Wrong. Took me most of the week, it turned out.

My only complaint with this otherwise very fun little tune is that the LH starts to get a little repetitive. The suggestion I got for how to deal with this is that the RH (high notes) are where the party is, so let those shine. I tried to mix things up second time through, just for added interest. I'm just not much for improv, so humor me.

Next up: a (very) simplified theme from Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2.

Happy weekend, all. link

light and blue 3-27-2009 -

- Aw2pp, aspiring blues pianist.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hypothetically speaking...

... let's say you are the parents of a 2nd grade girl named, oh, Ashlin. (Note this is totally unrelated to anything we have talked about lately. This will be good news or bad news, depending on your point of view.) Let's suppose further...

... that a family built a house next door to you and moved in 7 months ago.

... that among their four children is a 1st grade girl named, oh, Lillian.

... that Ashlin and Lillian play together sometimes, go to the same school, see each other at the bus stop every morning, and generally get along famously. Sure, your (hypothetical) daughter is not BFF's* with Lillian, but hey, it's only been 7 months, and at least 6 of those were what we call "Winter", when nobody talks to each other.

* - Best Friends Forever. Yeah, I had to have that one told to me.

... that Ashlin is having a birthday party, and you are inviting, oh, 20 friends. Including Cory, another 1st grader, a very nice girl who lives directly across the street.

In this purely hypothetical situation... you would be certain, as Ashlin's parents, that you invited Lillian, the girl next door, right? RIGHT?

You would, wouldn't you?

Just checking.

- Aw2pp, who wonders how Ann Landers would have handled this...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Still jobless

I've now had three companies tell me, "We like you, we think you'd be great in the role, but..."

In the first instance, a small company had created a Sales Engineer position specifically for me. BUT sales pipeline had fallen apart, and they company was too small to withstand the risk of decreased revenue projections. "We'll get you an offer when things improve. Could be six weeks, could be six months."

In the second, my largest and most annoying competitor would have been happy, even enthusiastic about taking me on, and they even had open headcount. BUT they are in a hiring freeze, and may not have the open position released until June, at the earliest.

In the third, a small but highly intriguing company flew me to Dallas a few weeks ago to meet with all of their CxO type people. It went great. They all loved me, and I was the preferred (and insofar as I know, only remaining) candidate for a pre-sales opening in the Midwest, which is a new territory for them. BUT they are concerned that, coming from IBM, I simply hadn't had enough field sales experience, opportunities where my pre-sales expertise made the difference in a win. In response, I provided a document showing them the 22 opportunities I helped win in the last three years. I think there is an outside shot they'll say, "Oh, yeah, wow, that works for us, forget what we said earlier, and welcome aboard..." Realistically, the more likely outcome is that this is an opportunity missed.

So the strongest, and pretty much only remaining option, is a position with one of my customers, a large hotel and hospitality chain. Had a great second (final?) interview with them last Friday. I am one of two remaining finalists, and would happily accept an offer. Of course, that means this REALLY needs to come through, because if not, then what? To answer that question, I have re-stoked applications I let go fallow, and I have begun a fresh wave of new applications I hope to not need. But you never know.

- Aw2pp, who has built an impressive Mariokart wii license in the last few weeks. Boy howdy.

Theme from Raymond

Job search continues. More on that later. In the meantime, I am still working on Le Onde, with an eye towards possibly performing in front of strangers in June. And I am busting out my assigned Alfred's pieces, completing 2 every three weeks or so. (Which, at this rate, means it would take two years to complete the book. Yikes.)

Here is what the Raymond Overture sounds like. First, my usual imeem link (I removed some banner ads, I hope it still works). Second, for you Linux-impaired folk (AnthonyB, I am looking at you here), the link.

raymond theme 3-22-2009 -

Raymond overture -

I admit, I am not a fan of this. This is my first experience with the whole minor key thing, and the jumps are unfamiliar. So please forgive the slight pause at the end... I don't feel like playing it more to capture a perfect version.

The next piece (Light and Blue)... different story. That's lots of fun. Haven't tried to record it, but I'll see if I can do so this week. I still have some time on my hands, after all.

- Aw2pp, who is getting destroyed (as usual) in his NCAA tournament pools

Sunday, March 8, 2009

And now for something completely different

Remember when this used to be a piano blog? And I used to post recordings? I do. I have been working on Guantanamera for two weeks now, and it's as good as it is going to get. So here you go.

Two formats: first, my preferred iMeem link, for those who can access it.

guantanamera 3-7-2009 -

Second, for friends like AnthonyB who had trouble with iMeem, here is your requested link: link

- Aw2pp, a middle blocker for Chicago Coast North, averaging 1.9 digs per game on the year

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Job Search Update, yet again

As I go through this process, I am struck by the parallels between searching for a new job and selling software. The steps are almost identical:

1. Use your resources to identify opportunities.
2. Qualify the best of those, so you know where to spend your time.
3. Identify requirements, and ascertain if you meet those.
4. If so, demonstrate your unique value.
5. Identify and address inhibitors.
6. Close the deal.

All the while, you are identifying risks, evaluating what the next step is, determining if it is in your (or the client's) best interests to go on to that next step, and working towards closure. The main difference between what I am doing now and selling software (heck, selling anything) is that when you sell, you want to close as many things as possible. In this case, while I'd be happy with multiple offers, time and financial circumstances dictate that I am probably going to have to take the first reasonable offer that comes. Thankfully, the most promising opportunity is also the furthest along.

I met with the gentleman who would be my manager if I took a presales position with a small vendor of SOA Testing and Governance Software. After an hour of asking questions he'd already asked me before, and talking about things we'd already covered in earlier interviews, he admitted: "Look, I didn't really have any questions for you today. The purpose of our meeting here was to meet face-to-face, and validate that you are the same strong candidate in person as you presented yourself to be over the phone. You are, and I think you would be a great fit on my team."

I broke the brief, uncomfortable pause with, "So, you brought my offer with you, then?" He laughed, and then began enumerating the short list of things that have to be done before an offer comes. Basically, I have to fly to Dallas and let someone on the executive team buy me lunch. So I will let you know when that goes down.

In the meantime, I have to continue progressing other opportunities, just to be safe. So I had nother interview today, and more tomorrow, Friday, and Tuesday, to convince people to extend me job offers I hope to not need. It's a strange dance, and in feels a little disingenuous of me, but it's got to be done. Heaven help us if I put my faith in this one, strong, compelling opportunity, and it falls through.

Piano lessons update

Jillian is flying through her assignments. Each week, PT assigns her 4 or 5 pieces, and each week, Jillian goes to work and completes them. At this rate, she'll be through the Bastien Primer B by the end of this month.

They spend a lot of time on note identification and counting. PT had noticed Jillian's creative fingering on the keyboard early on, made a couple of suggestions, and told me they would be returning to that topic on down the line. The suggestions were light, mild, and very specific to what Jillian was playing at the time. Thing is, having made those suggestions, Jillian's fingering has improved across the board, and at this time, it's really not an issue.

And most importantly, Jillian loves piano lessons. We'll milk that cow for as long as it remains true. Hopefully, years to come.

Me? Not so much improvement. With the possible exception of Guatanamera (hold that thought), there isn't anything I am playing better now than before lessons. While this is mildly disappointing, it is not entirely surprising. I had my own unique way of navigating the keyboard, and unlearning some of those habits is taking some time.

But there's more... my lessons are, right now, very music-heavy. We spend time talking about how to know if something is in the key of C or A minor, and what the difference is between tonic, dominant, and sub-dominant chords. I take it as a matter of faith that this will be relevant on down the line. But it isn't going to help me with problems I am having on Melodia Africana II. In fact, I am not really playing any Einaudi pieces at the moment. It's all Alfred's Book 2, all the time for me.

I practiced Guantanamera for probably 5 hours last week. I had hoped to play it well enough to move on in one week... two reasons for this. First, I am competitive, and wanted to prove PT wrong when she said we'd probably be spending a few weeks on it. Second, the piece annoys me, and I want to be done with it ASAP. No luck. I played it very poorly. So it's another week with Guantanamera. If I get it up to speed soon enough, maybe I'll grab a recording for you. We've not had any of those in awhile. And I've still got some time on my hands...

Last thing on piano lessons: I think I may have mentioned that there will be a recital in June. PT and I were talking about whether I should participate. I told her that, as much as I'd be a bundle of nerves, I think it would set a poor example for Jillian (and other future piano players in the family... hi kids!) to sit it out. She agreed, so we have begun discussing potential pieces.

I want to play Le Onde.

We'll see.