Monday, May 18, 2015

Symphony No. 50

mount_saint_helens_symphony.jpgThirty-five years ago today. Of course I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

We were having a birthday party for Meredith in Burien and friends were driving up from Oregon — or they would have, but the freeway was closed. My brother Jim was working at a garage in Portland and they changed more air filters in a week than they usually changed in a year. Cousins in Hood River and The Dalles wondered when they would see the sun again, and what they would do with the piles of ash that covered everything.

I'll bet you didn't know there was a symphony.

I'm listening to it now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Not Allowed to Say

Frank Furedi on Why the opinion polls got it so wrong
What I found even more unsettling was that the BBC reporter did not express any surprise about the hesitant and reluctant manner in which her questions were being answered. One would have thought that the frequently expressed comment “We are not allowed to say” was itself newsworthy, and an important point to comment on. But it was just nodded through, capturing the view that, yes, it is understandable that people should feel they are “not allowed to say” certain things.
Why ask their opinion if they aren't allowed to have one?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Take Me Home

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In The Mail Today

hilary_hahn_spectacular.jpgHow much would you be willing to pay for Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Barber? All their violin concertos, all in one tidy package?

$50? $30?

How about... $16.89?

That's right, only $16.89 for five of the greatest concertos ever written, played by one of the greatest virtuosos of out time, and pretty darned cute, too: Miss Hilary Hahn.

But wait... There's more!

At no extra charge... today only... we'll throw in the Stravinsky.

That's right! Five of the most popular violin concertos of all time, plus the Stravinsky, six amazing violin concertos together now at one low, low price.

Don't wait. Don't hesitate. Get it on Amazon now.

And thank the Zeta Woof.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Standing Guard

standing_guard.pngBet he's thinking:
You know, as much as I hate to spend an afternoon breaking down, cleaning, and oiling this old rifle... today I’m... kind of looking forward to it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Count Your Blessings

Megan McArdle in Cato Unbound:
If America today discovered a young couple where the husband had to drop out of high school to help his father clean tons of unsold, rotted produce out of their farm’s silos, and now worked a low-wage, low-skilled job, was living in a single room with no central heating and a single bathroom to share for two families, who had no refrigerator and scrubbed their clothes by hand in a washtub, who had serious conversations in low voices over whether they should replace or mend torn clothes, who had to share a single elderly vehicle or make the eight-mile walk to town... that family would be the subject of a three-part Pulitzer prizewinning series on Poverty in America.

But in their time and place, my grandparents were a boring bourgeois couple, struggling to make ends meet as everyone did, but never missing a meal or a Sunday at church. They were excited about the indoor plumbing and electricity which had just been installed on his parents’ farm, and they were not too young to marvel at their amazing good fortune in owning an automobile. In some sense they were incredibly deprived, but there are millions of people in America today who are incomparably better off materially, and yet whose lives strike us (and them) as somehow objectively more difficult.

My grandmother will turn 100 next month. Let’s look at some of the major changes her life has seen to living standards...
It’s not 100% feel-good, but it ought to make you stop and think. My suggestion is to print it out and read the whole thing, and then leave it laying around for the rest of the family to read.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Keeping Scores? Not Anymores.

The last classical sheet music store in New York is closing.
Frank Music Company has supplied classical sheet music to generations of instrumentalists, singers and composers.

On Friday, the retail store will close its doors for good, succumbing to dwindling sales.

Frank Music has been struggling for years, as music became readily available online, said Heidi Rogers, the shop’s owner.

“We went from seeing 15 to 20 people per day to seeing two or three,” Ms. Rogers said on Monday. “I went from feeling like I was at the center of the world to feeling invisible.”

· · ·

Musicians have plenty of online opportunities to buy sheet music, whether from Amazon.com, publishers or specialty websites such as Sheet Music Plus.

The website IMSLP, a digital library of public-domain music, allows users to download scores for free. Some musicians with iPads have dispensed with pesky paper scores altogether.

For now, Ms. Rogers plans to pack up the rest of the store’s contents and then spend some time on her farm in the Catskills, where she has tenant farmers and 50 chickens.

“Everyone says, ‘Aren’t you going to have a party?’” she said. “I feel like having a funeral.”
I remember digging through the stacks at Eugene Music back in the ’70s. It was a frustrating experience. Sure, they could always order it for you — if you knew exactly what you wanted and could wait three weeks to get it. It’s really much easier to shop online.

The only problem with downloading a PDF score is that you still need to print it out, and most inkjet printers only handle 8½ × 11 paper. You really need 9 × 12, or better yet, 11 × 17.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Diet That Works

Patricia Sellers of Fortune Magazine investigates how Warren Buffett eats:
How does the world’s top investor, at 84 years old, wake up every day and face the world with boundless energy?

“I’m one quarter Coca-Cola,” Warren Buffett says.

When he told me this in a phone call yesterday (we were talking about the death of his friend, former Coca-Cola president Don Keough), I assumed he was talking about his stock portfolio.

No, Buffett explained, “If I eat 2700 calories a day, a quarter of that is Coca-Cola. I drink at least five 12-ounce servings. I do it everyday.”

Perhaps only a man who owns $16 billion in Coca-Cola stock — 9% of Coke, through his company, Berkshire Hathaway — would maintain such an odd daily diet. One 12-ounce can of Coke contains 140 calories. Typically, Buffett says, “I have three Cokes during the day and two at night.”

When he’s at his desk at Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha, he drinks regular Coke; at home, he treats himself to Cherry Coke.

“I’ll have one at breakfast,” he explains, noting that he loves to drink Coke with potato sticks. What brand of potato sticks? “I have a can right here,” he says. “U-T-Z.” Utz is a Hanover, Pennsylvania-based snack maker. Buffett says that he’s talked to Utz management about potentially buying the company.

Investors in Berkshire Hathaway may feel relieved that the CEO isn’t addicted to Utz Potato Stix at every breakfast. “This morning, I had a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream,” Buffett says.

Asked to explain the high-sugar, high-salt diet that has somehow enabled him to remain seemingly healthy, Buffett replies: “I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among six-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a six-year-old.” The octogenarian adds, “It’s the safest course I can take.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Big Fat Cat

big_fat_timmy_thumb.jpgBeing one of those guys who works from home, every morning I look around at my co-workers to see what kind of job they're doing. Timmy's job description has only two parts:
1. Clear dishes of chicken or tuna found on kitchen floor.
and
2. Hold down that couch.
As you can see, he's doing an exemplary job of both. I will admit I'm a little jealous.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dashing Thru Not Much Snow

christmas_tree_harvest_2014_thumb.jpgWe finally got ourselves a four wheel drive pickup so naturally the roads were clear and dry. But we had fun anyway and cut three trees: one for Grandma, one for Miss M., and one for ourselves.