It’s All Part of My Rock’n’Roll Fantasy

Lots going on these days. I finally had a long weekend to relax and catch up on some stuff. Went up up to see Martin, Kath and the kids. That was very nice. Martin is in his mountain man phase now, working on a ZZ Top beard. Also got himself some ducks and chickens and honeybees, and is thinking of getting a cow. Wow. Abbie is now old enough that she’s walking and starting to talk and is a full-on little person. Charlie and Match are happy and energetic and sweet and curious.

My scala class remains really cool but is also a huge time sink. I’ve talked to a few people including my friend Nick, and no one I know who’s taken this course has completed it on the first try. I’m now more than halfway thru – up to week 5 of 7 on the lectures and homework. My last homework was the first on where I got less than a perfect score cuz I ran out of time. Couldn’t do it during the workweek due to deadlines, nor over the weekend due to visiting Martin. Ah well, this week’s lecture seemed pretty easy, but the homework is to implement Huffman encoding. On the plus side my team at work completed our second perfect sprint in a row.

Unfortunately the lowest thing on my todo list is working on origami. The convention is coming up in just a month and I want to have some cool new stuff. Since I gave my one-and-only Stellated Dodecahedron to Uwen for the Copper Union exhibition, I undertook to fold another one. It’s been sitting ninety percent done on my table for three weeks now. On the way I came up with another idea in the Dodecahedron series. I’m calling it the Dimpled Dodecahedron and it closely resembles the Archemedean Icosidodecahedon. It’s sitting there ninety-five percent done. Ah soon.

Speaking of origami, my publisher is trying to arrange an event at Kinokiyuma bookstore during the OUSA convention, and also drop-shipping a shipment of my book to them and to OUSA in time for the convention. I’d be great if that works out.

But the main monkey business this days is with music. First off, my jazz combo invited me to join them as the main tenor man. Of course I accepted and am looking forward to attempting to channel John Coltrane and working on my soloing skills. Also thinking of dusting off some of my originals from Event Horizon and seeing how they go over.

Also, after weeks of just practicing, I’ve gotten back to recording. Worked on Your Dancing Shoes last night, got down a solid take of the piano part, which forms the backbone of the song.

But, you must be asking, what about the Relix? Last we heard the group was on a positive upswing. Well, all human organizations are fragile, and the Relix is entering a, um, transitional phase. First our guitarist Lee gave notice. Lee was the 12-string and hollowbody guy and added a perfect complement to Frank’s straight-ahead rock sound. The good news Lee agreed to lay down a guitar track on Your Dancing Shoes, which is right in his zone.

Immediately after Lee our singer Paul gave notice. Paul is going thru a tough time right now, but it still came as a shocker since it seemed that music was the main source of joy in his life. Of course not having a lead singer is a bit larger problem than losing a second guitar, plus Paul is also a great harmonica player and guitarist too. So we’ll see where it goes from here. We’ve got some replacement singers lined up to audition, but even they’re good, chemistry is important too. The guys in the rhythm section have both mentioned the idea of starting something new and have independently asked me to join them. I think if I start something new I think it’s gonna be Buzzy Tonic live, doing a mixture of my originals covers that showcase my singing and piano playing and reinforce the style I’m going for. Kinda getting back to what I was trying to do with Erik, but not so unplugged. Not sure if I’ll be able to fit the sax in, but that’s a secondary concern. The minimum viable product would a be a power trio – me with bass and drums, but I’d prefer a guitarist as well as a co-lead singer (Mike and Gus both sing backup) and preferably someone who writes. Even so, I have 20 or more songs ready to go, including 6 or 8 of my originals. Like I say, we’ll see how it goes.

Never Gonna Do It Without My Fez On

Friday night the Relix played a great show at The Fez in Stamford, CT. It turned out to be a really happening place and our best show so far. The Fez is a Moroccan restaurant on what must be the party block in downtown Stamford. Every place on the block is a restaurant or bar, and there’s tons of people, especially college kids and lots of hot chicks, walking up and down the whole time. We seemed to draw a good number of people off the street with our music. The owner of the Fez turned out to be a really nice guy who really cares about live music. There was a piano player up front when we arrived, doing Body and Soul and that kind of thing, and the joint was already full from the dinner crowd.

We didn’t go on until ten or so. The owner even emceed and gave us an intro. The place stayed full thru our first two sets, which ran until after midnight. As I said, this was our best gig so far. We now have alot of songs covering a broad range of styles, which we know well and can string together into a solid entertaining program. It really felt like we were hitting on cylinders. It helped too, that the place has a good PA and the stage was small, which meant was could hear each other really well. The third set was a bit more loose and jammin’ but still quite good and a lot of people stayed with us to the end, around 1:30.

Just as we were finishing up the cops showed up. It wasn’t clear why they were there – apparently just to exercise their donut privileges – but they had three cars and they parked right in front to block us from loading out. Anyway Dude invited us back. I want the band to learn The Fez by Steely Dan for the next show.

Surface to Structure: Folded Forms

I’ve been invited to contribute a few models to an upcoming origami exhibition. I’ve loaned them my Stellated Dodecahedron and Great Dodecahedron. Since I only ever folded one Stellated Dodecahedron I’m now folding another to have for OUSA. This one is going a good deal faster. I’m already done the precreasing and am starting the collapsing.

The exhibit is called Surface to Structure: Folded Forms. It will include over 120 contemporary origami creations folded using a broad spectrum of styles and techniques. Surface to Structure will take place at The Cooper Union, located at 41 Cooper Square, New York, NY, 10003. The exhibition will be free and open to the public from June 19 thru July 4, 2014. It is being organized and curated by Uyen Nguyen.

I went down to Cooper Union today to drop of my models. It was a lovely day for a walk, and I haven’t been to the East Village in a while. I used to live right in that neighborhood only a few block away and used to walk past CU every day. Well now there’s a new Cooper Union building across the street from the old one, which wasn’t there before. The old one is stately brown stone, and the new one is crushed-beer-can postmodernist sheet metal. confusing but very cool. Looks like a good space for an art exhibition.

You can learn more here about the exhibit here:

Functional Programming in Scala

Lots stuff going on these days. I mainly finished the spring cycle of work on the cars, washing and waxing and getting ‘em into the shop for routine maintenance. The only thing remaining is to get the Mustang in for an oil change and the fluids topped off. Also started mowing the lawn a week ago. All our flowers are doing really nicely and the trees are all a-blossoming. The weather has been getting up into the 70’s fairly consistently, although we’ve had our share of rainy days. Ah, spring at last.

I’ve been taking a Scala course from Coursera, taught by Martin Odersky, the language’s inventor. This is after having read a Scala book over the last few months. It’s in the second week of the class now and it’s pretty intense. The lectures and books are easy enough to understand, and in fact very illuminating and even deep. But when it comes time to the assignments it feels like starting over, between the overhead of getting set up, the strong functional programming paradigm, and the language’s wacky syntax. It’s more than just learning a new language, it’s a new way of thinking. I did some Lisp in the 90’s but now I have to unlearn all my Java knowledge. Right now the focus is on using recursive functions in place of loops. Hopefully I’m far enough the learning curve that it should get easier soon. Either that or my Java code will start getting confused.