Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our first ER visit, and other stuff

Jillian is age 8, Jason 7, Rowan 3 1/2, and Joey 1 1/2. That's 20 kid-years, and we've managed to get by without so much as a single stitch. Personally, I thought Rowan, with her reckless nature and preternatural confidence in her gross motor skills, would be our first ER patient. Wrong. Say hello to Joey, fresh off challenging the glass door on a TV stand:

Under that band-aid is a nice, clean 1" gash, sutured with some sort of glue and a couple of butterfly bandages. He looks like a hockey player. But he'll be fine. No stitches, so we're still 0-fer on that metric.

I know February is a short month, but gee-whiz, where did it go? Tomorrow is March 1, which means Spring is only 6 to 8 weeks away here 41 miles west of Chicago. To my friends and family who are already basking in the new warmth, good on ya. We're not insulted that nobody visits us this time of year. Really, we're not.

Not a lot of piano news. Work? I'm still my own rep, which means, among other things, fewer bench hours for me. PT has been very gracious accommodating my capricious schedule. Currently, I am scheduled for lessons Wednesdays at 3:30, but that time has been hit-and-miss this month. Thankfully, we've been able to backfill lessons as other students drop their slots. But it also means my progress is slow... I had hoped to be able to play Le Onde all the way through by now, for instance, but no dice. That second page, it gives me fits...

In other news, the kids earned their Tae Kwon Do Yellow Belts yesterday. Photographic proof follows:

Jillian's proud. It's easy to tell with her. Here's hoping that will always be true.

Now the kids on the playground will be even less likely to mess with The World's Largest Seven Year Old. Not that this was a problem in the first place.

Rowan and Boomer, alas, did not test. But they still had fun. Her time will come. Boomer's, I'm less sure. He (I think it's a he) doesn't seem to be taking well to his Poomse.

Me? I missed it. I was off playing volleyball. My test is this week, though. The only problem I have had in practice is with board breaks. Let me testify: if your teacher tells you to hit the board with the side of your hand, you need to listen to them. From my experience, I can tell you that it is possible to break boards with your ulna (that is, the outside of your wrist or lower arm), but the board may not be the only casualty in the encounter.

(Yes, I broke it. The board that is. Not my ulna.)

- Aw2pp, who already misses Curling.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beaker and Teh Interwebs

What can I say, I am a fan.

(Previous Beaker post here.)

- Aw2pp, who obeys the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recital Piece

Now I remember why it's taking me so long to work through Alfred's Book 2. 4 times a year, I apply the brakes to everything else, and pound away at my recital piece. Seriously, for the last month, I played almost nothing else.

You may recall that for Recital 16, I played the first movement of a Clementi Sonatina. (If not, no worries, I'm here for you, give it a listen here.) This time, I recorded the final two movements of the piece, and submitted them as a single recording. No, I did not record these in a single take... in fact, the two pieces were recorded (consults a calendar, hold please...) 3 weeks apart. But through the magic that is Audacity , I joined the two recordings, and added 4 seconds of space between them. Just like the pros do.

Here is the result, for your listening pleasure: link

Some thoughts on this music... I would really, REALLY have loved to iron out the couple of pauses in the second movement. And I would really, Really, REALLY loved to had played the third movement faster. But such is life. To be completely honest (and frankly, you'd expect that out of me, no?) I am happy with these recordings, and happy to have tackled them. I found the third movement to be the easiest of the three, and both of these pieces easier than the first movement I submitted back in November. Who knows, maybe I have improved?

On that note, it's back to Alfred's. Picking up with the Divertimento, a piece written by one of the Alfred's Editors, but in the style of the Divertimento Master himself, W. A. Mozart. I would like to observe that Alfred's pieces are starting to seem easy to me, and that working on the fun pieces (recitals, Einaudi) are making me progress faster than the Alfred's music is progressing. I'd like to, but I can't, because even though the Alfred's pieces seem easy, I don't seem to be busting out recordings of them. Maybe the next six weeks will be productive in that regard.

On the other hand, the next stop on my introduction to classical music (Sonatina version) tour is the first Kuhlau Sonatina, Op. 20. I've looked at the music. It has lots and lots of black on it, and intimidates me greatly.

Spending the rest of this week in Toronto, doing work stuff. Y'all play nice now, eh?

- Aw2pp, father of four, master of none.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Earthquake Follow-up: The Damage

These photos capture the magnitude of the devastation wrought upon the Aw2pp household by last night's tremor.

Actually, the room looks like this pretty much all the time. But those of you who know us (a shout out to the Poop Doula, hello!) already knew that.

- Aw2pp, on-the-spot-reporter

Earthquakes I have known

Spring, 1979, Mexico City, middle of the night. My recollection of this event was that my hosts, when I asked them if that was an earthquake I'd just felt, replied nonchalantly that it was, and I should just go back to sleep. Next morning, a chess game that we'd left half played was all over the place, but there was not further damage in the immediate area.

New Years' Day, 1980, Thousand Oaks California, mid-afternoon. We were watching the Rose Bowl at my Grandmother's house, and once I felt and heard the earthquake, I dove under a table, like they taught us in school. Shortly thereafter, the announces at the game mentioned they had felt it too.

Some summer in Alabama, mid 1980's, late morning. My dad and I were out in a lake and heard distant thunder. Anne, my stepmom, hollered out the window that there had just been an earthquake.

April, 2008, Chicago. I didn't feel it, but Sue did. As did a lot of other people. Paper later said it was like a 5.1 or something, if I remember correctly.

Last night, 3:59 AM. I was awoken by Sue's gasp / scream.... a scrasp, if you will. I did also hear a loud boom, as if a meteor landed in the cornfield across the road. (Not that I know what that sounds like, but I can imagine.) But it was over very quickly, much more quickly than other earthquakes I've known. Which was very confusing for me, all the moreso given that it was 4:00 in the morning, and nothing makes sense at that time anyway.

Anyhow, all is fine, but it makes one wonder... consider the natural disasters that can befall us... earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, droughts, tsunamis, and the long-suffering nature of being a Cub fan. And maybe others. It now seems that a large majority of these can strike us here 41 miles west of Chicago. We're obviously spared two (tsunamis and hurricanes), which are byproducts of living near coasts. Everyone understands that that is part of the price one pays for doing so. (Although we do have our own version of a tsunami, the Seiche.) As to volcanoes, the only one to maybe cause concern in these parts is about a 1,000 miles away, although if it blows, we've got bigger problems on our hands than "Gee, I wonder how much we can get for our house."

Still, it makes one wonder, why are we living here again?

Piano-related post coming some time this week, I promise. Maybe even a recital piece, who knows?

- Aw2pp, who maybe needs to ponder his navel a little more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Strange days indeed

Changes afoot at work.You may remember Jeff, the fellow we visited just prior to Christmas... he of the piano, he who wasn't sure if it was a grand or an upright, but it turned out to be a wonderful little Charles Walter 1500? Jeff had been a Sales Manager prior to joining my little Canadian Software company, and though he had lots of fun palling around the Midwest with me, he concluded it was time to move on, and go back to managing sales people. Today is my first day out on the territory by my lonesome self. (Anybody know any good software sales reps looking for a job?)

Which is good news and bad news. The good news is that Jeff left some high-quality bidness on the table, and if I can get some of that closed this month, hey, I get the compensation for it! Woo-hoo! What's more, doing so would demonstrate some serious value to my new employer, who seems to like me quite a bit as it is. Maybe I can land some fancy new stock options or something before someone like HP or IBM buys us out.

The bad news is that this changes my work patterns quite considerably. I was never in charge of boring things like calling potential customers, qualifying inbound marketing leads, or cold-calling. No, my work began after that point in the process, when a lead has been properly identified as something worth pursuing. It was then my job to impress the people such that they'd be willing to sit down and discuss more boring things, like contract terms and conditions. At which point, I'd eject from the picture and move on to the next opportunity. Now? I have to do the fun stuff and boring stuff, too. Heck, I even have to call conference and trade show people to talk about setting up booths. Yick.

But I guess that's why the people who do this sort of thing make lots of money.

Ironic, then, that this is happening now. It was a little more than a year ago when IBM decided they could do without me and about 16,000 of my colleagues... I guess when you are a 380,000 person company, a couple ten thousand here and there don't really make much difference. But now I am in the midst of new upheaval, of a different sort. And it's kinda exciting. And frightening. Simultaneously.

But it doesn't leave much room for bench time. Not sure if I am going to have that recital piece ready in two weeks or not.

- Aw2pp, who is progressing 31 qualified leads and opportunities.