Some Like It Hot

This has got to be the hottest July I can remember. It’s been above ninety pretty much every day the whole month, and alot of days above ninety-five. I usually like the heat but this is a bit much even for me. It’s not even enjoyable to be be outside except in the morning and the evening. No end in sight.

We took a mini pretend beach vacation this weekend. Saturday we went out to Jones Beach on Long Island to swim in the ocean and enjoy the scene. It was very nice. The water was warm and as calm as gets. Lots of fun swimming and floating. It was less crowded than usual because the parking lots were only allowing parking in every second space. We had originally intended to go to Robert Moses Beach but the parking there filled up before 10 am.

Sunday we went to an outdoor restaurant at Rye Beach, on the opposite end of the beach from the Tiki Bar and Playland amusement park, and enjoyed the sunset, some yummy seafood, and some live music with a sax player, percussionist, and a guy with a laptop computer playing loops and tracks. I’d never been to this place before but since the Tiki Bar is closed this summer we went exploring. Perfect chill vibe.

In origami land, I’m drawing ever closer to finishing my book. The diagrams have been basically done for a while, but then I went back and picked out a harmonious color palette, with different colors for model with different themes, and re-rendered all the steps. Along the way I made a few improvements to the folding sequences and page layouts. I’m really going for a good-looking and high-quality book. Next step is model menu/TOC and then test folding and photography. Too bad it’s so hot. I might have to put in the air conditioner in my studio downstairs.

Also in origami land, I’ve resumed my scheduling project for Origami USA. If you recall, back in the winter, before the pandemic, I’d taken on managing the scheduling tool and the actual scheduling for the OUSA Conventions. The tool itself was an MS Access Database with a bunch of custom views and lots of macros. The plan was to use it for this year’s convention to get up the learning curve on the whole scheduling workflow, and then design and build a new tool in time for the new Chicago convention in the fall.

Well the OUSA June convention was replaced by the Un-Convention, which was a great success but had no need of scheduling. The Chicago convention is not happening either. But we figured we might as well go ahead and build the new scheduling tool, and hope the world is back to normal for the 2021 convention. So now I’m underway with that. First step is to install Drupal and a suite of plugins, since the what drives the OUSA web site. Next is to identify the points of integration and then come up with a design and a tech spec. Should be fun.

Since I’m doing these blog updates rather infrequently these days, I might as well cover all the bases. We did a surprise soft launch The Global Jukebox at the end of June, for the benefit of our partner/sponsor CityLore, with whom we created an education section and interactive Musical Roots experience for use in New York City (and other) schools. However, there were a few loose ends in the app we didn’t have time to properly address. We’re just about finished with them and are preparing for the official Global Jukebox 2.0 release to live. Coming soon, very exciting. Watch this space for a future announcement.

In the world of music, I’ve been going to the jazz jam sessions the last few weeks. All is cool so far, and it’s good to making music with other people. At first I felt pretty rusty, but now that I’ve shaken off the cobwebs I’m realizing my playing is reaching a higher level than before.

It still remains to get the new rock band off the ground, but there’s signs of hope.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing on working on a new batch of originals in my studio. Did I mention it’s really hot? The song I’ve zeroed in on is a medium-slow jazz number called Winter Wolf Whisper (although I’ll probably change the name) that we used to do in the Haven Street Quintet. Of course doing it on the computer requires changing the feel, so working thru that. One big thing is drums. I’m torn between making sound more natural and human, versus more electronic and machine-like. I’ve always been fascinated by bands with two drummers, or with a percussion section, so I’ll probably try combining both approached.

Still, I feel like I’ve gone as far as can with my current approach to drums. So I decided to buy a drum set. Something to practice on, and potentially record. Actually having drums has been on my list for a long, long time, and they’ll also come in handy if I ever have band rehearsals at my house again. I was pretty amaze at the kind of deals you can get these days on a new kit, complete with cymbals, stands and a throne. It should be here on Thursday, so mare on that soon.

We Jammin’

Even as the pandemic rages across other parts of the country, some things around here are getting back to normal, at least a little bit. One big portent is that my main rehearsal studio, Lagond, has re-opened. So I started asking around my musician friends to see how people feel about coming out and spending time indoors together, if the time is right. While I was mulling over the possibilities for putting together a new jazz or rock group, I gat a call from Mike, the drummer from the old jazz circle, looking for a sax player.

So I went down and jammed out. Lagond is doing all the things to keep us safe, requiring wearing a facemask coming in and out of the building, and putting hand sanitizer by every door, hooked up to a hi-hat pedal so you can operate it hands-free. We were in the big room downstairs with the piano, and we were set up so that everyone was at least twelve feet from his nearest neighbor.

It was good to re-connect with those guys. Most I haven’t seen in a year, maybe a couple years. And it was certainly alot of fun to play music with people again. Looks like I’m gonna keep going the rest of the summer, as long as the situation stays cool.

Ken was sitting in on bass. He and I were talking about forming a new rock band last winter, so we re-kindled those discussions. I reached out to the other musicians involved and they’re into it. So it’s time to start thinking about when and how. No matter what it looks a long time before there’s any gigs, but that’d give us time to develop our sound.

Going the Distance

We just got back from a summer vacation of sorts, a trip upstate to visit family and friends for a few days in this strange year. Slow down for a while, if that’s even possible in these times. Still, it came and went too fast.

We stayed with my parents, who obviously are older. Before we lit out from home we spent a couple weeks isolating as much as possible to reduce the risk of anyone catching the virus. On the ride up we brought sandwiches with us and at a picnic area in a rest stop. Upstate it seems the virus never hit as hard, so people are a bit more mellow about it although still cautious. Everyone wears masks when going indoors, but not so much outside if there’s adequate space. Like around here, you see alot more people going for walks and hanging out in the park than you used to.

It was unusually hot up there the whole time, as is usual for us when we go on a trip. I did go rollerblading two days in a row. The neighborhood is nice and flat and the streets are very smooth, with very few cars. We had thought of going for a hike, but it was too hot for that. Going shopping or to the movies was right out.

Lizzy and her boyfriend came over, and we all hung out in my parents’ back yard. On the fourth we went over the visit Larry and Jackie, and hung out in their backyard. All the town firework shows were cancelled, but Larry’s neighbor across the street set of a pretty huge amount of fireworks, so we got a show after all. The next day we went to visit Denis and Sara and hung out in their back yard, and even went for a swim. And everyone doing lots of barbecue, yum.

We also watched the musical Hamilton. I must say I kinda like the straight recording of the stage show better then something like Cats or Les Miz, where the effects and sets and all overpower the music and the story. Michelle went thru a phase a while back where she listened to the Hamilton soundtrack over and over, so I’ve heard it and liked it alot, but in a disjointed way. I’m glad I saw it cuz it’s a good as everyone says, and the music makes alot more sense when you see the characters singing it and have the context of the stage performance. We listened to the soundtrack on the drive home. It’s very powerful and there’s alot of information to take in, so we’re going to have to watch it again.