Checking In

It’s been a busy couple o’ weeks. First off, I’ve been listening to the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, for pretty much every day the last two weeks. It definitely rewards repeated listenings like only great music can. I’m gonna say I think its their best album yet!

Second, last week Lizzy preformed in a production of “NYXSW” with her performing arts group Young At Arts. NYXSW expands to New York by Southwest, and the show was a musical review of New York and greater-Texas themed songs and skits from various shows such as Company and Oklahoma. It was very well done. Lizzy had a few solos and did great, and a couple of the older kids were just fantastic.

Third, this last weekend was the annual Origami Convention. This year was an especially good time. More on that, plus pics of the exhibits and my new models, coming soon.

New Recording: Now

Here’s a rough mix of Michelle’s new song, Now.

And at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, I just picked up the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, and I’m just blown away. Imagine if Rush made a concept album that picks up where Hemispheres left off, but incorporates everything they’ve learned in the last 30 years. This is that record!

Camera Eye

I recently acquired a new camera to do the photography for my upcoming origami book. It’s a digital SLR, a Canon Rebel, something I’ve been wanting to get for a long time but never quite was motivated enough to go out and get. I guess I’m glad I waited too, because the product field has evolved and matured and this camera is incredibly full featured. I have an old, old SLR film camera that was pretty much all manual, but the new camera has automatic everything, plus tons of control for every conceivable mode.

Yesterday we went up to visit my brother and his family in their brand new house. It was a very nice occasion because my Mum and Dad were up there too, and Martin and Kathleen felt they were far enough along with finishing the house moving in to have visitors. They have a beautiful place in the woods. I brought along the new camera and tested it out by taking a bunch of pictures.

I Learn to Work the Saxophone

Good news about work. After having worked last weekend, we got a release candidate of our app done by lunchtime Monday. So now we’re in QA and waiting to see if there are any bugs. Meanwhile the release date has been pushed back to mid-July because Abe our QA guy is expecting a baby any day now. Meanwhile, I’m writing unit tests, which is something we’ve always meant to do but never seem to have time for, but our Corporate Overlords have mandated it, so it’s actually fun and cool, and will have lasting payoff in terms of the quality of our code.

So I got to take a summer Friday this week, and dedicated it to catching up on random tasks. High on the list I have to have work done a couple of my horns, and needed to find a sax repair main. I used to repair horns myself, but I don’t have any of the tools or supplies. So I’ve been asking around, and one of the local music stores recommended Virgil Scott in Yonkers. So I went over there and it turns out he was great. I had him check out my alto, and he fixed it on the spot. The main thing was it needed a new cork on the neck, be he also spotted and fixed some minor leaks. Very friendly guy, and we got to talking. He hadn’t seen a Selmer USA. He thought it was basically identical to a Mark VI, although I pointed out a few differences.

Clearly he knows what he’s doing, and he’d even fixed Michael Brecker’s horn. So its great to find a saxophone repairman. Next week in I’m bringing in my tenor, which is a classic sax but in worse shape. It has some serious leaks in the lower stack.

Show Time

Major crunch time at work. I’d wanted to take a summer Friday but I had to work. I was waiting on another developer to check in code most of the day, so at least I was able to get a couple things done anyway. I worked over the weekend (a few hours only). Hoping to take this coming Friday off. Lots of stuff backing up. Finally got the Mustang out for a ride on a sunny day, but still haven’t gotten to the body shop.

Major crunch time for origami too. The convention is just two weeks away. Been folding lotsa new stuff and diagramming too. Made a bunch of cool tessellations last week, including a nice version of my penflower and also a true Penrose tessellation. Did another one I call the pent-hex tessellation, but I’m not sure how to finish it, and created a new one I’m calling the pent-pent. Both are fractals. Pictures soon. I finally got my book contract signed, and went out and bought a new camera.

Working on some animals. I want to do nice versions of my Fox, Narwhal, Armadillo and Turkey, since they’re all new models diagrammed for the upcoming book, and I’ll need to photograph them soon anyway. So I went and inventoried my paper supply and started thinking about which model will go well from what paper. The big problem is that three of these model have a color change effect, which relies on the back of the sheet being white, and most of the high-end papers are single color. So I’m thinking about custom making some sheets, or maybe forgoing the color change. If I get done with those, I still have some polyhedra I want to do, plus a new Zeppelin, and working out my Space Shuttle.

Among my random tasks I booked the first legit gig for my group. It’s at the Beanberry café, where we played last year, coming up in July. Two sets, two hours of music to get together. Meanwhile I’m continuing to play open mics to develop my originals. I played another gig at the Purple Crayon Friday night. Jeannie and the girls came out, and Jen was there too, and we all hung out afterward, so it was a good time. I played Get on Back 2 U and debuted Heat Wave. Good response. GOB2U was my second time playing it, and I’d gotten over the hump of worrying about screwing up the piano part and so was able to relax and concentrate more on delivering a performance, and on the vocal phrasing. Heat Wave is just on the edge of my ability to play, but came across strongly. The response was really positive, and a good boost to my feeling like its worthwhile doing this. A couple other piano players there (who were really good) came up to me afterwards. One said it was really refreshing to hear songs that use 7/8 and whole tone scales. The other asked if Heat Wave was a Zappa song, and was knocked out when Erik told him I wrote it. So my music has an appeal to at least some people. Hopefully next time I play it Heat Wave will be further along the not-having-to-think-so-hard continuum.

Meanwhile Michelle sang in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat put on by Young at Arts. The show was really good. Lizzy was helping out backstage, and is her own show next week.

And finals! And the kids have crazy half-day schedule coming up. Oy!

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Over the weekend the kids’ school had their annual carnival. This is the major fund raiser for the school, and a pretty large-scale affair, taking over the whole north parking lot and athletic field with rides like a ferris wheel and roller coaster and fun house, and food and your classic midway games. It went on for four days and every family has to volunteer. I spent an evening working one of game booths, handing out bean bags to throw, and the occasional stuffed animal to a winner. At the start it wasn’t too crowded and I had a chance to go around and study a few of the games and figure out what makes them so hard to win. It’s a similar design psychology to trade show exhibits and magic acts. I figured out a reliable method for a couple of them, and all the ones involving throwing darts I’m good at, and the ones involving throwing balls or beanbags not so much. I accidentally won a giant lizard tossing a ring onto a milk jug. We named him Carlos Sebastian Bach in honor of the Mets’ no-hitter. Between hanging out and working we were there three of the days. The kids had a great time. The last day had some dramatic, intense but brief rainstorms. At one point it was torrentially pouring and bright sunlight at the same time.

In other news, Lizzy painted her nails to look like the flags of various nations.