Friday, December 27, 2002

Camp Harmony starts today! I'll be back on the 1st. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

There were lots of good visits over the last couple days. On Christmas Eve we had seven adults with musical instruments of various kinds and we showed Gia how to conduct. That was really funny. She was bouncing us around between fff and ppp like a yo-yo, but we kept up, though we were pretty much just making a lot of noise. I don't think I ever had that many adults so completely under my power when I was four years old. Yesterday we had 14 Waldons gathered with Grandma Jackie and Grandpa Marsh at Rossmoor. Lots of people there I hadn't seen in a while. We ate several meals worth of brunch and then had a very amusing gift exchange game, from which I emerged with an old-fashioned duck-on-a-bike toy. It's very amusing, but you'd have to see it for yourself. Lacey and I also spent some time with Mom, Monee and Pa (and we even got to see Monee and Pa waltz!). Here are some pictures, mostly of the big Waldon group but a few others, too. I've got to run off to work now.

Monday, December 23, 2002

I'm heading back off to Berkeley tonight. Then it's up to Santa Rosa tomorrow to see Dad and Betty Lue and Terry and Gia and Grandma Marian. Then to Rossmoor on Christmas, to see Monee and Pa, Grandma Jackie and Grandpa Marsh, and all the Waldons we can assemble. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Happy Birthday Maya!

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Lacey's arriving today! Hugo's driving down with her and they're heading to Berkeley to stay with Mom, so I'm going up there soon, too, to see everyone. Meanwhile, I have to go find some way to defend my food supply in the kitchen, since the ants have now thoroughly invaded. My other big project right now is preparing for the class I'll be teaching at Harmony. I've been putting that off too long. It's going to be a busy week. I'm visiting various relatives this weekend, Christmas Eve and Christmas, I'm working Monday and Thursday, and Harmony starts on Friday. And there's a lot to do during that time.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Happy Birthday Carol!

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The road at work started flooding again this afternoon. Luckily, we managed to get out while one direction was still open. We'll see if we can get in tomorrow morning.

It was nice of the rain to stop a bit yesterday so I could bike to the library. It felt really good to move those muscles after sitting around at a desk so much. I haven't been getting as much exercise as usual (or any at all, really) this week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

It's good to be working (better to be making money) but the job is a bit taxing by the end of the day. I'm in an insurance office processing mortgage claims on computers built in the early '80s. So I spend all day looking at a computer and typing. And then I come home and want to check my e'mail and post to my blog and whatnot but my eyes and fingers are all wiped out. Sigh.

I really want to be playing piano. And I really wish I were a lot better at it. Not only am I not getting to practice much these days, but I'm reading various books about piano playing and feeling very sad that I can't do that kind of thing. I wish I could play Bach fugues and Beethoven sonatas and all these other wonderful pieces of music that are still quite a ways beyond me. It's very frustrating to be in the position of having far more knowledge and desire than skill. Oh well. As soon as I get a decently paying, permanent job I'll start looking for a piano teacher so I can take lessons again. Right now, I'll just try to get back in shape with my mandolin before Camp Harmony.

Monday, December 16, 2002

So I had a doozy of a trip into work today. First of all, this is a new temp job, so I'm going to a place in Menlo Park that I've never been before. I get off 101 and try to turn onto the street the company is on, but it's been flooded and blocked off. So I try to find another way in. It turns out that the only other entrance to that street is a couple more miles down 101. So I get back on and the traffic is getting worse, and I find the other end of the street, go down it for a while and then find myself at the end of a long line of cars. Meanwhile I've called the company and found out that the street is actually closed on both sides. So I manage to turn around and go back to the other end (takes a long time now -- the traffic is even worse) because I think it's actually closer to the building I'm trying to get to. But still, once I manage to park in a random lot somewhere, I have to walk about a mile, skirting flooded bits of road to get to work. Golly. I was pretty darn late, but most other people were, too. Later on some people managed to get cars in, so the rest of us got rides back to our cars in the evening (which was good, since it was raining a lot harder by then). So it was quite a start to the day. I wish I could just stay here inside, bundle up with a book and listen to the rain on my skylight now, but I've got to go out to teach a music lesson tonight. Oh well. I'll come back and be warm and cozy afterwards.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

I may have to get this t-shirt. I love polka-ing.
Grr. I want to play piano but Braun is closed. I managed to find an unlocked door and snuck in yesterday, so I thought I might be in luck again today, but no. They'll be open next week but only 9 - 5, and I'm going to be working then. Phooey. It's very frustrating, since I've been on a real roll with piano practicing recently. I suppose I can always play here, but our piano isn't as good and I have to work around 5 housemates and the TV and everything. Oh well. I'll do something. I'm starting to learn a Chopin waltz now that I've loved for a long time: Op. 69 No. 2, B minor. I've been working on my sight-reading a lot, too, since it's something useful I can do on my own even though I'm not taking lessons right now. I think I'm going to be wanting lessons again soon, though.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Tonight at the contra dance four women came up to me at separate times during the break and asked for the next couple dance. That never happens. Usually I'm scrabbling through all the extra guys to find any partner for any dance. If anyone ever asks me, it's usually Bob (who is very fun to polka with). Maybe all the women are just figuring out that they can ask for dances, too, in which case I entirely approve. But maybe it's the hair cut. Maybe it's me not being attached to Miriam anymore. Maybe I just looked like I wanted to hambo. Who knows.
I just drove Jessica to the airport, and 101 is scary in this weather. Wow. Plus there are traffic lights out all over town. But I'm home safe and dry now. I think some hot chocolate is in order.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Happy Friday the 13th! Let the storms begin! I'm spending this damp Friday evening watching Fellowship of the Ring on DVD and changing various instrument strings that haven't been changed for a long time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The library was fun tonight. Georgina's 6 year old daughter Dani was there again. She informed me that when she grows up she will be a doctor, a dentist, a teacher and a cheerleader. Isn't it nice how simple and easy the world is at age six? Anyway, Dani's pretty fun to play with and we made paper snowflakes and origami seals and shadow puppets and drawings and things like that. (There wasn't a lot of tutoring to be doing tonight -- it's still in a pretty slow time.) A couple people who didn't know us asked if she was my daughter, which seemed rather odd, even aside from the fact that she's Hispanic and I'm not. I mean, technically I'm old enough, but I sure don't feel like someone who would be a father. Maybe I look older than I feel. I don't know. But it was fun to spend an evening playing with a happy little kid.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Wow, so today must be my lucky day or something. I spent the morning the same as yesterday, doing prep work for the same seminar. Yesterday I had gotten two of Tufte's books at the library. We had a break this morning between setup and registration so I was reading one of them, when Tufte himself walks in. First of all, he gives each of the temps an extra $20, which was pretty nice of him. But then he saw I was reading his book, so he invited me to sit in on the seminar, since we only had to work until everyone was checked in. That was really cool -- everybody else had paid a couple hundred dollars to be there. So I was listening in the back of the room and it was very interesting, and then one of Tufte's assistants, who I had been working with earlier, came up to me and offered me a copy of Visual Explanations for free (it's a $40 book). Apparently there was something wrong with a few pages so they didn't want to sell it but it was still perfectly usable. I managed to get it signed, too. So all in all, I got a pretty good deal for two half-days of work.

The talk itself was very good, though I suppose I'm sounding exceedingly geeky, being excited about a seminar in "Presenting Data and Information." He speaks very well, and can be quite amusing (e.g. The Gettysburg Address, done in PowerPoint), but I did think that he could have covered a lot more. He held his presentation to a much lower standard of information density than he applied to visual data. I suppose that made sense, given the difference in media, but I still think he could have done more. And it was slightly lacking in an overall point, though all the examples and details were excellent. But heck, for a free seminar, it was awesome.

Monday, December 09, 2002

The temp job I'm doing for today and tomorrow is at the Hyatt Rickeys in Palo Alto, where they're having a 2 day seminar with Edward Tufte on "Presenting Data and Information." I was mostly doing registration today, but I caught little bits of the talk and it seems like it's really interesting. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to get one of the jobs in the actual room, where I can hear more of it. I want his books now, too. We had to pack up all three of them into bags to give to seminar participants, and each bag of books probably cost more than I'll make at this job. (The books are Visual Explanations, Envisioning Information, and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.) Oh well. Off to the library again!

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Testimony's winter show last night was fantastic. In addition to their usual wonderful music, they had some hilarious skits (Tina plays Piglet very well :-) and even a Lindy Hop choreography (by Kari) to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The whole show got a very well deserved standing ovation.

Music is always a wonderful thing, but I think music and laughter together are a particularly good combination. That's just a thought that struck me on my way home last night. I feel like a good, solid dose of laughter has a way of flushing anything negative or unpleasant from my system and scrubbing me out clean. And then when there's music to fill me back up again well, life is just good. I don't consider myself a devout Christian, but I've found that, once I let myself get used to it, I can really relate in some way or another to a lot of the Christian music that Testimony sings. And you can tell, in the audience, that putting such a strong faith behind such excellent singers is a very powerful combination.

In other news, I just added commenting ability to my blog. So if anyone wants to leave me a note, go ahead and click on these little comment links at the end of each day's entry.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

I had the most amazing redowa ever with Annaka at FNW last night. We were out on the dance floor right when a fast waltz started, and there was still a fair amount of open space while other people were partnering up. So we took full advantage of it, and for the first 30 or 40 seconds we just flew around the room. Wow. I can't remember the last time I travelled that fast in a dance, even redowa. It was awesome.

Friday, December 06, 2002

I went by the Stanford Craft Fair briefly today. I always enjoy looking around at everyone's creativity. I saw Carol Attia there, and talked with her for a bit while I helped her set up her booth. It's somewhat comforting to still be liked by Miriam's parents.

There was also an extra concert today in the Wednesday noon concert series in Braun. It was some of George Barth's piano students playing. One piece I particularly liked was a Bartok suite (op. 14). But the real excitement came at the end, when the last student brought in a violinist and a cellist to do the first movement of a Mendelssohn trio (op. 49, D minor). About 3/4 of the way through, the cellist's bow broke. The wood literally just snapped, up near the tip. He just sat there looking stunned at all the horsehair flowing so freely over his strings, while the other two found a nearby cadence for a pit stop. They eventually borrowed a bow and finished off the movement, but it must have been awful for the cellist. I'd be upset if my bow broke and it's not even very expensive. His was probably a really good one.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

So I thought I'd check out this site that a few of my friends have linked to their blogs. You answer a pile of questions and it recommends places to live. Here's my list. I was glad SC and PA both made it on there. Oregon's definitely showing up a lot, too.

  1. Eugene, Oregon

  2. Corvallis, Oregon

  3. Fayetteville, Arkansas

  4. Santa Cruz, California (where I used to live)

  5. Charleston, West Virginia

  6. Little Rock, Arkansas

  7. Salem, Oregon (where Jim and Siri Kirpal live)

  8. Portland, Oregon (where Lacey lives, more or less)

  9. Frederick, Maryland

  10. Providence, Rhode Island

  11. Baltimore, Maryland

  12. Hartford, Connecticut

  13. Santa Barbara, California

  14. Ventura, California

  15. Washington, District of Columbia

  16. Danbury, Connecticut

  17. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  18. New Haven, Connecticut

  19. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

  20. Medford, Oregon

  21. Valencia, California

  22. Boston, Massachusetts

  23. Palo Alto, California (home!)

  24. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

I went to the Dead Week Jammix last night. The height of musical excitement came when Richard played "Waltzing with Bears." That made me very happy. The tune was slightly different from the one I learned as a kid so it was harder to sing along with, but it was still fun. I'm surprised he even had a recording of it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Testimony A Cappella went caroling in downtown Palo Alto tonight. Caroling is such a nice, happy thing. Music is always wonderful anyway, but more so when you're just going out and sharing it with everyone as a gift. They did carols (of course), some things from their CD, and improv arrangements of songs like Rudolf the Red Nosed Raindeer, by request. I went to listen for a bit and they tried to get me to sing with them. There weren't enough people to drown me out entirely, though, so I tried to sing quietly :-} I get more self conscious about singing than about a great many other things. I had a very good time, though. Once again, I wish I'd been able to be in an a cappella group at Stanford. I'd settle for just being able to sing better.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

I finished reading the rest of Grandpa Jude's WWI diary today. Just reading through it all has been a fascinating trip in itself. I've been transcribing various bits of it that I found particularly interesting, or amusingly written or whatever. So if any of you Waldon-types don't feel like trying to read through all the scanned images, let me know and I'll give you a few pages of selected highlights. What frustrates me, though, is that the diary stops the instant he gets discharged, leaving me dangling with so many more questions. What was it like being home after almost 2 years? What was his life like outside the army? Who was Mid, and what happened with her when he got back?