High Speed on Ice

The lift to our mood wore off after a few days after returning from our trip to the warm and sunny climes, and I was feeling really ready to be done with winter.  Then last Tuesday we got six inches of snow at home and started leaning into winter.  We decided to do a mini-vacation trip upstate.  It began with a day of skiing at Gore mountain in the Adirondacks.  Jeannie and I drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel in Lake George.  On the drive up we listened to the Queen album Live Killers, which I don’t think I ever listened to the whole way thru before, and is totally amazing.  Unfortunately, the weather turned snowy and slippery the further north we got, so I couldn’t listen as closely as I’d have liked.

It was an amazing day of skiing.  The morning was just perfect, with fresh snow on a well-groomed base, and a gentle snow falling on off throughout the day.  Probably some of the best skiing I’ve had in years.  And because it was a Friday, the mountain was alot less crowded than last time we were there.  We skied the first half of the day on the North Slope, with long beautiful trails winding thru the trees.  Unfortunately, it began to get windy, and some trip up the lift were a little unpleasant.  We skied all the way down to the base then went up to the summit via the gondola, another trail and another lift.  The top was kinda windy and icy, but once we got partway down the skiing was great again.  We ended up the day on another part of the mountain with mainly blue and green trails, because we were getting too tired for the big hills but wanted to keep on going.  Jeannie had a ski tracking app, and we skied over 10 miles in 12 runs, meaning the average run was close to a mile, and some a good deal longer.

That night we drove up to the high peaks area to visit our good friends Mark and Kelly. Saturday we went ice staking in the speed skating oval at the Olympic Village in Lake Placid.  It was a beautiful experience, skating outdoors surrounded by mountains.  The track is a quarter mile around, and Jeannie did 14 laps and I did 18.  That’s three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half miles respectively.  Needless to say, after all this our legs were pretty tired.  Afterwards we went to a bar for poutine and cocktails, then walked around Lake Placid.  Out on Mirror lake, there was tobogganing, dogsleds, ice skating and several hockey games going on.  Fun scene. 

Spent alot of time just talking and hanging out.  Mark showed me his new guitar effects setup, but didn’t get around to playing it.  On the way home Sunday, we stopped by Martin’s house for a visit.  Spent our time there just talking and hanging out too.  Martin showed me his new custom-made combination guitar/sax/sheet music/stage monitor stand.  Got home late last night, and today we were all tired out.  Now back to work, but hoping to get a couple more ski trips in before the end of the winter.

White Winter

Winter goes on.  Denis was in town Friday to drop Carrie off at her school, and spent the night with us on the way back.  Went out for sushi, geeked out on board games.  Today Michelle went back to school, so it’s just us empty nesters again for a while.

We finally got some good snow last week, and did our first ski trip of the season on Saturday. Woo-hoo!  We went up to Catamount for afternoon/night skiing.  Seth met us at the base of the mountain.  Conditions were mostly good, but a little icy at times.  After it got dark there was some fresh snowfall, which covered up most of the icy patches.  But man, it was really cold.  So cold I bought a bank-robber-style ski mask when we went in for a break.  I was actually quite comfy after that and we ended up doing thirteen runs.

This is my second season on my new skis, and last year I wasn’t always confident on them compared to my old skis, and was still adjusting the way I skied on them.  This time from the first run it felt great, and was able to carve and go flat out with alot of control, even over ice.  In fact, I’d say they’re better skis than my old pair.  Jeannie got a brand new pair of skis too this year.  They’re Blizzards, very similar to mine, but in white.  She’s liking her new skis alot too, and had a great night.  And we’ve both been working out to get the strength up in our legs and knees, which seems to be paying off.  Of course Michelle was whizzing right past us all after a few runs.  Afterwards we went out to dinner with Seth and Cathy and Erin and her friend, which was very nice.  Haven’t seen Erin in a long time, and now she’s graduating college this spring.

In other sporting news, the Bills’ super bowl hopes are dashed yet again.  Still, it was a great game against KC, as is becoming tradition.  The Bills played some excellent ball, and have really come together as a strong team. But some players out with injuries and a couple small mistakes was all it took.  Kansas City didn’t give up any big plays, and was just a hair better overall, so in the end they won.  Ah well, here’s looking forward to next year.

Tinsel Town

The new year is off to a start.  Everything is going okay I guess.  I’m getting things done and having some fun, but everything feels very slow and tiring.  This is natural because it’s the wintertime, and there’s still lots of cold and dark.  The days are starting to get longer, but there’s been lots of rainstorms and wintry mix.  We’ve finally stared to get some snow.  First time last week, but it all melted after a few days, and now last night into today.  Hoping we can finally go skiing this weekend.  We’ve been going ice skating as a local alternative, a good way to move the body when you can’t do much outside.

Working out has been actually been going well.  Often it can be really tough in the winter, but I’ve add weight to my workout at the start of the year, and so far so good.  I’ll probably put on a few more pounds again soon.  Meanwhile I’ve dropped some body weight, which is also counter to the usual wintertime trend.

Of course winter break is over and it’s been back to work the last couple weeks, so getting anything else done requires planning around that to have a few hours of focus time on the weekend or at night.  Just as I was getting into the rhythm of being able to do what I want when I feel like it.  Ah well.

I’m trying to migrate my web site to a new host, but there’s just a ton of picky details to attend to.  We wanted to get this done by the new year but had to let is slide.  Next sub-project is migrating my blog.  So soon you may be reading this at a new url, at least temporarily.

And I finished my new song Head Downtown.  More on that in another post.

This last weekend we had a sort of make-up xmas, since Jeannie was down with Covid on Xmas day.  Lots of good food, games, more legos, music and movies.  Mary and Lou came over along with the niblings.  And the Bills are in the playoffs, which is pretty exciting.

A Season of Darkness

It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  Nothing really exciting going on.  Been getting ready for the holidays.  Put up our tree, sent out our Christmas cards.  We saw the new Miyazaki movie.  It was amazing but he’s totally lost his mind.  Lizzy was home for a visit for a couple weeks ago with her new boyfriend.  They saw my origami elephants at the tree in the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.  Both girls will be home for the holidays soon.  I’ve been trying to wind down work for the year, and been thinking about old friends I miss, and how I’d like to make the time to see people.  Luckily, the plan for the end of the year is pretty laid back, so it looks like there’ll be some time for that.

It feels like it’s been dark all the time the last few weeks.  Only a few hours of tepid daylight before the sun sets in the mid-afternoon. At least the weather has been mainly pretty mild, even warm, and there’s been a handful of sunny days mixed in with the cloudiness and rain.  Been trying the get psyched up for skiing, but it’s not time yet. 

We did go ice skating the other day, which was lots of fun, and good exercise.  I haven’t been on my ice skates in years, and neither has Jeannie.  It’s good to know our skates still fit and we remember how to skate.  We’ll have to do that again soon, hopefully when it’s less crowded.  It seemed like I spent all my time maneuvering around a kid who fell over in front of me, pretty much every lap around the rink.

Even though my energy level has been up and down, my strength is up these days.  Usually the winter is a difficult time for weightlifting, but it’s been really solid since we got back from California.  My elbow, shoulder and back all feel great, and I just went up in weight on my last few sets of exercises, and I’m going to up on the rest in the new year.  

I’ve been trying to lean in to the season by getting more sleep, and although I must say I’ve never been good at going to be early, I find it easier these days. But try as I might, I remain very busy at work right up to the end of the week, which makes it hard to slack off too much. We’re into a new planning season, and things are always in motion.  I compare myself to water seeking its natural level as I slosh around to the most needful tasks from day to day. Good news, I may have just gotten approval to add another engineer to my team.

And, just in time for the holidays, The Global Jukebox 3.0.1 is now live.  This release was basically a hardening of 3.0, with numerous bug fixes and usability enhancements, an a beautiful new splash screen when you enter the app.

I’ve also been working on a new song, called Head Downtown, and there may a Spacecats record in the offing.  More on that next.

Dream of Californication

Just got back from a trip to PCOC, the Pacific Coast Origami Conference in San Francisco, and along with it a fantastic vacation in California.  Last time we visited the Bay Area was almost fourteen years ago.  Oh oh, what I want to know is, where does the time go?

Jeannie and I flew out from New York on Friday night.  Last few times we flew I’ve felt pretty anxious about the whole airport thing, but this time I’ve been so busy with work the last couple months, it was actually a big relief to be hanging around waiting for our flight.  

We stayed the first couple of days at a hotel on the peninsula that we knew from previous trips. It was a cute place with a courtyard and giant pots of succulent plants.  Saturday we met up with my friend Dazza, who lives in Oakland.  He took us to a park near his home with a lake and a very cool botanical garden with all kinds of plants you don’t see back east, and in the middle of that a bonsai garden with carefully grown miniature trees, some of them hundreds of years old.  We went back to his place, in a condo complex with all kinds of fun amenities, then out to eat at a really good oriental place with yummy dishes featuring great big rice noodle.  I must say, Oakland has become trendy and quite nice since we lived in the bay area in the ’90s, much like Brooklyn.  Or maybe I just never had been to the nice parts of Oakland before.

That afternoon we helped Dazza out on a very special beer run.  He had ordered several cases of a Polish porter, that apparently is very hard to get, from a wine shop in San Mateo back on the peninsula.  So we gave him a lift out there to pick it up.  After that we took Dazza for a drive around our old haunts in Silicon Valley in Palo Alto and Redwood City.  We went for a hike up to the radio telescope in Parcel B at Stanford, and then a drive-by tour of the office park where Interval Research Corporation used to be, right near the HP campus.  Strangely, there’s now camper vans and RVs parked all along Page Mill Road and El Camino Real.  One of the most rich and prosperous places in the history of the world full of people living in their vans.  At the end we went back to our hotel and Dazza shared a few porter ales with us and we talked on into the night.

Sunday Jeannie and I went up Skyline Road to Sky Londa intending to go for a hike at Windy Hill for a hike.  But as the day unfolded it turned rainy.  We did a short wet hike up to the summit the view obscured by clouds, and not the long winding one we had in mind.  Apparently it was the first rain of the fall.  The day before we noticed all the hillsides were yellow with dry grass, a hue you don’t see in the landscapes at home.  Since we were already up in the mountains, we thought we’d cross over and see the ocean, where it was not raining.  But, being the first rain of the season, there was an accident up ahead (apparently a very bad one, judging from the number of ambulances and fire trucks that passed us), so the road was closed and we had to turn around.  There’s only a few roads over the coastal mountains, so we went up to the next one twenty miles away, but it was backed up with traffic too.  So we decided instead to light out for our next destination, Lake Tahoe up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, one of our favorite places in California.  It was raining pretty heavy for most of the trip, all the way past Sacramento and a ways up into the mountains.  In case you’ve never been there, the Sierras are way bigger than anything on the east coast.  The pass over the mountains is above 7,000 feet, and the mountaintops are well over 10,000.

We stayed at a really charming hotel right on the beach, and since it was off season they upgraded us to a suite with a fireplace and view of the lake.  Very nice.  There was a restaurant in walking distance out on a pier with a view of the sunset over the lake.  We were still kinda on east coast time, so next morning we watched the sun come up over the lake from our hotel room.  We took a walk on the beach, where I found a massive pinecone from a ponderosa pine, which must have just fallen and washed up on the shore.  The main activity of the day was to hike up to Eagle Lake in the Desolation Wilderness Area, above Emerald Bay.  This is beautiful forest and mountains with great views.   It was a pretty big hike, over 3 hours, and 800 feet vertical, about 5 miles of very rocky terrain.  Afterwards we went into town to the area of the base of the Heavenly gondola, right near the Nevada border, which is all built up compared to last time we were there.  That evening we went to the casino, but the scene there was beat.

Next day we drove to Yosemite National Park, another one of our favorite places in California.  This was another long drive thru the mountains.  We took the back way thru Nevada, past Lake Mead where Kamasi Washington did one of his album covers.  The last half of the trip was into Yosemite via Tioga Pass, which gets above 10,000 feet.  We stopped at a scenic overlook where you could see Half Dome far away.  We have a picture from that spot with the kids when they were 10 and 7 or so, last time we passed that way.  After alot more driving thru winding mountain roads we arrived at Mariposa Grove, home of the giant sequoia redwoods.  These are the larges trees in the world, and grow over 300 feet tall and over 30 feet across at the base.  They’re thousands of years old.

We had expected to get lunch there, but instead things were under construction and there was no food, the road was closed, the parking was two miles away and the tram wasn’t running.  I guess it’s good that they’re redoing access to the area with an eye toward forest conservation, but it added 4 miles and several hundred vertical feet to the hike.  By the time we reached the area where the parking lot used to be, Jeannie was pretty tired and had to sit down for a while.  Luckily, we met some kind fellow travelers who shared some trail mix with us, and our energy rebounded.  We got to talking and the dude was a Consumer Reports super fan, and was asking me about the auctions they have for the used cars they test, and if I could get him in on it.  The redwoods themselves were amazing and the whole glade had spiritual vibe that reminded me of La Familia Cathedral in Barcelona.  The kind of thing you just can’t capture in photographs.  Overall the hike was about 4 hours, 6 miles and over 600 feet vertical, but not nearly as stony. 

We were staying at the Yosemite Valle Lodge, and the was another hour drive back the way we came (Yosemite is huge).  This is the first time we stayed in the park in a building with solid walls and running water.  By the time we got there it was dark.  Had excellent cocktails and steak and wine at the bar and restaurant there. The breakfast place had for some reason computerized kiosks where you order food instead of telling a person what you want.  However, some food was not on the menu, so when I wanted a banana they just gave me one cuz no one could figure out how much it cost or how to pay for it.  I can hardly wait for the fad of having computers everywhere in situations where human interaction works perfectly well breaks and starts to recede.

Anyway, the main hike that day was up the valley towards Vernal Falls and Nevada falls. Interestingly, the first mile or two of the trail was paved, which made it faster.  Last time we were here it was pretty natural, dirt with some stony sections.  The middle part was still like this.  The last part before the falls was a huge uplift that was mainly stairs made of hewn and stacked up natural rock, a serious Cirith Ungol vibe, but in a beautiful forest, not an orc-infested wasteland.  Naturally, going down was harder than going up.  This was the longest hike yet, over 7 miles and nearly 1400 feet vertical.  

Next day we left the mountains and drove back to San Francisco.  This was the most adventuresome drive yet, another long and windy one, with one memorable section descending several thousand feet in just a few miles.  Had to go like ten miles per hours thru endless switchbacks.  I feel like this may be where they filmed the opening scene of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  We made it safely back across the central valley and thru the Livermore Pass (the windmills have grown quite a bit in the last twenty years) and finally over the bay.  We made another attempt to get out to the ocean and this time we were successful.  We went out to Half Moon bay, where we found a burrito place and got our lunch to go, and ate yummy California burritos on the beach.  We walked around a while and stuck our toes in the Pacific, then drove up the US 1 coastal highway thru Pacifica to San Francisco.  We dropped off our rental car and checked into the hotel for the origami convention, and immediately met some friends in the lobby.

But that’s a whole ‘nuther adventure.

Party Like It’s 1999

Had another great weekend.  Continued excellent weather, and for once no big yardwork chores.  All caught up for now; next comes weeding under the hedges.  Saturday we had a barbecue and Nick and Lisa Martin and Kathleen and the kids came over, it was a great time.  

I debuted my summer playlist, as is tradition.  This year the theme was eighty-one favorite songs form the nineties.  This follows from last year’s seventy-seven songs from the seventies and eighty songs from the eighties the year before that.  I must say the 90s seems to have alot more random song and genres from bands the came and went but have not endured so much as bands from the 70s and 80s.  Also not alot in the way of new and interesting jazz.  Maybe it’s because I worked at MTV in the 90s, or maybe it reflects deeper changes in the music industry, technology and popular culture.  Or maybe it’s just that I went thru alot of changes in the 90’s.  I started as a college student, moved across the country several times and lived in three different cities, went to from zero to sky-high to dotcom crash in my career, and ended as a new parent.

Sunday I did a bunch of stuff including take the Mustang for an evening ride due the the long hours of daylight this time of year.  Also switched up my workout to Sunday Tuesday and Thursday this week, since the origami convention starts Friday.

Monday went biking on the Ocean Pathway at Jones Beach.  Nick came out to meet us since he lives nearby.  I did fifteen miles, out to Giglo Beach and back.  Jennie and Michelle made it as far as Tobay Beach.  It felt much easier than last year, when it was only my second or so ride of the season.  I’m up to about ten already this year.  Going for twenty miles next time.  Unfortunately, due to getting a late start and other complications we didn’t go swimming in the ocean.  Ah well, next time.

Lots of origami nowadays too.  I re-folded my stellated icosahedron after ruining the last one my wet-folding.  Just the closing up to go.  Also practicing my spider.  I revised the folding sequence to eliminate the sink of doom and make it teachable, focusing now on the sculpting, especially the legs.  Fun fun fun.

Eighty-One Favorite Nineties Songs

They Might Be Giants – Flood/Birdhouse in Your Soul
Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
The Sundays – Here’s Where the Story Ends
Black Box – Everybody Everybody
Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole
Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance

Bonnie Raitt – Something to Talk About
Tuck & Patti – Dream
Blues Traveller – Onslaught
Rush – Roll the Bones
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suck My Kiss
The Sugarcubes – Hit
Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy
Liz Phair – Flower
Prince + the NPG – Gett Off

Alice in Chains – Them Bones
King’s X – Black Flag
Snow – Informer
Barenaked Ladies – My Box Set
Neil Young – One of These Days
Nirvana – Come as You Are
Ice Cube – It Was a Good Day
10,000 Maniacs – Candy Everybody Wants
En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back
House Of Pain – Jump Around
Megadeath – Sweating Bullets
Ozric Tentacles – Yog-Bar-Og

Sheryl Crow – Solidify
Fishbone – Servitude
Ace Of Base – The Sign
Sting – She’s too Good for Me
Donald Fagan – Snowbound
Frank Zappa – G-Spot Tornado (The Yellow Shark)
Billy Joel – River of Dreams
Phish – Rift
US3 – Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried to Live
The Offspring – Self Esteem
The Revels – Comanche
Soul Coughing – Is Chicago Is Not Chicago
Material – Black Lights (Hallucination Engine)
Dead Can Dance – How Fortunate the Man with None
Seal – Kiss from a Rose
Steely Dan – Book of Liars
King Crimson – VROOOM
The Bobs – Spontaneous Human Combustion
Herbie Hancock – Dis is Da Drum
Beastie Boys – Sure Shot
Animaniacs – All The Words in the English Language

No Doubt – Spiderwebs
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know
Everclear – Santa Monica
Weezer – Say It Ain’t So
The Beatles – Free as a Bird
Macarena – Los Del Rio (Bayside Boys Remix)
White Zombie – More Human Than Human
Annie Lennox – Something So Right
Medeski Martin and Wood – Friday Afternoon in the Universe

Beck – Devil’s Haircut
Wallflowers – One Headlight
Geggy Tah – Whoever You Are
Know Your Chicken – Cibo Matto
Cake – The Distance
Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground
Space – The Female of the Species
The Beaux Hunks – Powerhouse
Michael Brecker – African Skies
Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger
Johnny Cash – My Wave

Might Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get
Steve & Edyie – Black Hole Sun (Loungapalooza)
Chumbawamba – Tubthumping
Foo Fighters – Everlong
The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
Sarah McLachlan – Building a Mystery
Smash Mouth – Walking on the Sun
Ben Folds Five – The Battle of Who Could Care Less

Cher – Believe
Fastball – The Way
The Seatbelts – Tank
Brian Setzer Orchestra – Switchblade 327

Weird Al – The Saga Begins

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

New York in June continues.  The weather remains amazing for the most part, as if California has come to us.  In fact, last week we experienced the effects of forest fires hundreds of miles away in Canada, as the wind blew the smoke high into the atmosphere above us.  The sky turned overcast and brownish and hazy, and the next day it got more intense, and everything had an orange tint and smelled like a campfire.  Luckily the day after that the wind changed and it blew away, and we were back to blue skies for the weekend.

The Origami USA convention is coming up in just a couple weeks.  It was my job to put together the class schedule.  We had almost 150 classes that had to be fit into three days, with many constraints on time, availability, class size, use of document cameras and projectors, etc.  So that kept me busy Monday night and Tuesday.  It went smoother than last year.  I’m using scheduling software that I’d purpose-built in the OUSA web site, and like so much one-off business software, is more clunky than one would hope.  However this year we’re starting to grasp the essence of the problem, and we’re refining it to make the workflows smoother and faster.  So the schedule got approved and published on time.  On to the next thing.

The Global Jukebox is submitting a grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities for part 2 of a multi-year project to create an interactive experience within the jukebox on The Roots of American Music.  In addition to new content and visualizations, it includes a brand-new mobile experience built on our existing web application framework.  So I was busy helping Kiki get some materials together for the grant application.

Meanwhile at the CR Innovation Lab, we’re getting to planning for an upcoming product launch, setting up a program for deploy pipelines, unit testing, e2e and integration testing, QA, and infrastructure availability and scaling.  We also have a bunch of new team members, so everything is a bit hectic these days.  I went into the city for a set of onsite meetings, however some of them got cancelled to due people calling in remotely because of the smoke condition.  Unfortunately, the conference room chairs there are singularly awful and triggered some fairly severe pain in my back and leg.  Ah well, I was back to normal after a couple days.

Friday night Jeannie and I went to see Kurt Elling at the Village Vanguard.  Before the show we went out a fantastic dinner at a Persian restaurant, with shish kabobs and fancy rice.  We walked around the city from midtown to Greenwich Village.  Great night for people watching and taking in the city.

Kurt Elling is one of my favorite jazz singers around today.  He has a great voice and sense of phrasing and style, and always picks really interesting material and treats it in a fresh and fascinating way.  The Village Vanguard is of course one of the classic jazz clubs in New York City.  What I didn’t know is the Vanguard has an in-house big band that was started back in the 1960’s by Mel Lewis and Thad Jones, and plays every Monday night.  So the show was Kurt backed by the Village Vanguard Orchestra, doing big band arrangements of his songs.  Wow, totally amazing.  (The Vanguard is a very small club, so the fact that the band fit on the stage was pretty amazing before they even played note one.)  

One thing Kurt likes to do is add lyrics over rarely covered jazz songs.  He did this for several tunes, including Continuum by Jaco Pastorius, and the second movement of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.  They’re great lyrics that add new depth to song, clever, thoughtful, playful and even profound, but because they’re so unexpected it can take you a minute to figure out what songs he’s doing.  Another highlight of the show was the sax solo during the Coltrane number.  The tenor play at the end of the sax section was a really old guy who looked like Mark Twain.  Half the set he was slumped in his chair and looked like he might fall asleep at a moment’s notice.  But when he stood up, he roared to life and delivered a high-intensity solo worthy of a Trane number.

Saturday morning I listened to two Joco albums: the first one that begins with Donna Lee, and The Birthday Concert which featured the Word of Mouth Big Band including Michael Brecker.  Great stuff.

Saturday afternoon we went out to a barbecue at Cousin Mary’s.  My two nieces Katie and Valerie both graduated from college.  On the car ride down, we listened to Kurt Elling’s latest album Super Blue, which is sorta jazz-adjacent soul funk fusion.  Totally blew me away.  Some of the songs sound like they could be Steely Dan.  And the album before that has the studio cut of Continuum, among others.

Sunday we went for another bike ride.  Jeannie got a new bike, a Trek mountain bike, very nice.  And she passed her old bike on to Michelle, so now everyone has a bike that fits them comfortably and they like to ride.  We went back to the Empire State Trail, this time starting in Elmsford and going up to Thornwood.  They both did ten miles, and I did fifteen, and new personal best for the season for everyone.  I was thinking of getting a new bike too, but my 26-year-old Trek 850 is still going strong.  It was a pretty high-end bike at the time, very light, with an aluminum frame, handlebars and rims, and 21 gears.  (I bought it from Palo Alto bicycles, because at the time Jeannie and I were sharing a car, and she had a longer commute than I did.  Above the bike shop was a small startup called Google, but that’s a story for another time…)

I finally completed the spring yardwork cycle but trimming the branches from the neighbor’s willow tree that hangs down into our yard.  Hopefully a week or two off from that, then the it starts over with weeding and edging.

As mentioned previously, the Origami USA convention is less than two weeks away, and doing origami has finally risen to the top of my todo list.  In fact, now is the time of year when I tend to stay up late folding like a madman.  In fact, I just destroyed a super complex model I’ve been working on since Bogota by trying to wetfold it!  Ah well, at least I have the pattern worked out now.

Yet the universe won’t leave me alone, and in addition to the predictable demands of work and all that, random tasks pop up at inconvenient times.  Jeannie borrowed my car the other day, and came home with a flat tire, so I had to get that fixed.  Then it was supposed to rain and cool off, but the weathermen lied!  So around five o’clock I put in the air conditioner.  It’s a new AC that’s supposed to be much quieter and more powerful than the old one, but it was a major pain to install.  Ah well, now it’s in and I’m enjoying the cool zone.


Moving into summer.  I can’t remember a more pleasant May for fine weather.  June brought the hot weather, up into the 90’s.  We thought of putting in the AC, but it only lasted two days.  Now we’re back to another long run of perfectly pleasant days in the mid-seventies.

Been busy doing our best version of living the suburban legend.  Last weekend was the Memorial Day holiday and a three-day weekend.  Saturday we went for a hike up Mt. Hook. Sunday I went for a bike ride thru Nature Study Woods, then we went to a barbecue on Long Island hosted by Nick and Lisa.

This weekend Jeannie and Michelle and I did another rail trail ride, this time 13 miles for me and 9 for them.  I got an app for my phone that tracks me distance, time and elevation change when I go for a ride, and shows it on a map.

I’ve been giving my old mustang some TLC.  Over the last few weekends I washed, waxed, and buffed the whole thing, something I hadn’t done since before the pandemic.  Then the weekend I cleaned the glass and interior, and polished everything up.  Now it just gleams!

Summer is the season for endless yard work.  Over the past couple weekends I trimmed our big hedge row, then the two giant forsythia shrubs and some of our evergreens.  Next weekend is trimming back the willow boughs hanging into our yard from our neighbor’s tree.  Then maybe we’ll have a break and can do just mowing and watering.  Or maybe something else will have grown in by then.

I bought a new oven in the springtime at an auction at my job.  It’s been sitting in my garage, but this weekend finally schlepped it up the stairs, hooked up the gas supply and hauled out the old one.  Glad that job is done with.  Michelle has already baked a batch of cookies and declared the new oven to be much more accurate and superior in every way.  Only problem is it doesn’t quite back up all the way to the wall because they’ve changed oven design over the years, and there’s no empty space in the back of the oven to accommodate the spot where the gas pipe comes up out of the floor.  So now we have to call a contractor to see if wee can get that taken care of. 

A bunch of things still in-progress.  I’ve been working on a summer playlist of 90’s songs.  Continuing in my home studio with my song A Plague of Frogs.  And, increasing in importance daily, the annual Origami USA convention is coming up at the end of June, so I’ve been folding new stuff, planning my exhibit, signing up to teach classes, and helping the convention committee with the class schedule.  More on all this as it unfolds.

Rack On

Our run of luck with the nice weather continues, interrupted only last Saturday when it rained all day.  I spent a good chunk of the day doing origami.  I completed the first successful single-sheet stellated icosahedron earlier in the week.  I made out of a 19″ sheet of elephant hide.  I unfolded and refolded the bottom and the lock several times, experimenting until I found an arrangement of the paper that worked best.  The finished model is a bit squished, so Saturday I spend a bunch of time folding a new one now that I know how it goes at the finish.  This one is out of 15″ mohawk skytone paper, given to me by my friend Madonna.  It’s a very nice paper, a bit thinner than elephant hide, but just as strong and crisp, and in a variety of nice soft colors.  This one is almost finished, just the final collapse to go.  With luck it will be an exhibit quality model, just in time for this year’s OUSA convention.

Michelle came home from college Saturday.  we immediately rebooted family game night.  We also finally also finished Muppets Mayhem.  Now Michelle is baking a cake.  Nice ot have her home.

I got three bike rides in last week during the week.  Then went for another bike ride with Jeannie Sunday morning, on the same pathway but this time starting in Yonkers.   This time Michelle came with us.  Jeannie thought her bike was too tall for her, so she tried riding Michelle’s.  She thought that was too small, although Michelle likes Jeannie’s bike. (Michelle is about six inches taller than Jeannie, although they were around the same height when I bought Michelle her bike.)  Anyway, Jeannie is now shopping for a new bike.

I went 12 miles although Jeannie and Michelle both turned around earlier.  Afterward I came home and did a bunch of yardwork, including washing the Mustang and putting armorall on the new tires.  Ah how it all gleamed, for one brief shining moment.  I left it out in the driveway for a few hours and by time it was already dusted in tree pollen.  Ah well.  I also trimmed my hedges, which involved going up and down a ladder and swinging around a trimmer over my head for a few hours.  By the end I was pretty tired.

In jazz land, Steve, the old drummer for my group Spacecats had to leave for health reasons. This was unfortunate because he was an excellent drummer, a great guy and a good friend.  Luckily, we got a new drummer a couple months ago, and he’s been working out well.  His name is Rick, and he’s a friend of our bassist Ken. He’s an excellent player, great chops, great groove, very responsive and energetic.  He also writes, and is into alot of the same kind of stuff we are, not just jazz but fusion, rock, prog, and jazz-adjacent funky jam bands, and likes experimenting with bringing those sounds into the group.  Last week our piano player Josh couldn’t make rehearsal, so we got together as a trio, sax bass and drums.   It was super fun exploring different sounds and ideas.  We did tune by Stone Alliance called Sweetie Pie for just such a set of instrumentation.  Also ran Some Skunk Funk a few times, getting it fast and tight.  I think it’s time to start looking for gigs.

Rack ‘n’ Roll

Beautiful spring weather continues, and we’ve been trying to spend time outside to take advantage.  I’ve been getting on my bike more.  I did four bike rides last week, the longest of which was about ten miles, partly along the Bronx River Pathway, which was very nice, and the rest getting there and back from my house, which involved some major hills.

I finished putting down the red mulch under the hedges and in the flowerbeds.  The only remaining task in the spring cycle is the trimming.  I also got the mustang into the shop for an oil change and inspection, and a new set of tires.  All that remains with that is to wash and wax it.  

On Friday night we discovered there’s a new show about the muppets called Mayhem, about the adventures of the Electric Mayhem Orchestra, still together and touring after all these years, as discover they owe their old record company an album.  Great fun.

Saturday we went upstate to visit Martin and his family.  Always a very good time but a long drive.  They’re all doing well.  Charlie is getting tall.  Went out to eat at a local restaurant that’s also a farmer’s market sometimes.  Good food, craft beer and cider.   Came back to Martins house and played Carcassonne with the boys.  Jeannie won with a risky but aggressive farming strategy.

About a month ago I bought a bike rack for my car, and Sunday Jeannie and I put it together and hooked it up for the first time, and took our bikes out the the New York State rail trail, and rode the segment from Elmsford up to Hawthorne or so, about a twelve mile round trip.  Jeannie doesn’t like to bike on the streets around here, and I can see her point.  The trail is so much nicer, smooth and relatively flat, and no cars or traffic, thru the woods, so much nicer.  So the bike rack is a big hit.  Now that it’s put together it only takes a minute to attach it to the car and load up the bikes.  We can go to all different trails around here and ride together.  Hope to get into the habit of doing it most every week until the weather gets too cold.