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Sunday, March 5

Quote of the week

As before, I shall leave this anonymous and allow the sayer of the quote to come forward if they so desire:
I can't believe it's 10.30pm on a Saturday night and I'm having this conversation when there's perfectly good pornography peppered all over the internet.
posted @ 10:09 PM -

Thursday, March 2

Languages represented in the Meldan music library

This afternoon I found myself unintentionally listening to Byzantine church music on the radio. I say unintentionally because I tuned into a show called The Old Country expecting US folk music, and found that the title referred to a country much older than Country, so to speak. Anyway, I'm enjoying it, all the more so because having just come back from an Eastern Orthodox country it's really obvious how this fits in between Catholic church music and the chanting style of Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches (not to mention having plenty in common with Jewish religious music), and it's spurred me to make a list that I've been meaning to write for a while.

These are the languages used in at least one song in Melinda's & my combined music collection, to the best of my knowledge:
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Greek
  • Danish
  • Icelandic
  • Sigur Ros-ian Hopelandish [thanks alx for the correction]
  • Flemish [at least I think that's what the parts I can't understand in dEUS's music are sung/spoken in]
  • Yiddish
  • Ladino
  • Hebrew
  • Turkish
  • Arabic
  • Krio [Sierra Leone's creole - thanks Mark]
  • Ga
  • Zulu
  • Russian
  • Ukrainian [thanks Max for that one]
  • Mongolian
  • Tuvan
  • Japanese
I know this is a sad and petty thing to enumerate, but I'm rather proud of that list.
posted @ 4:06 PM -

Wednesday, March 1

My past two weeks, in brief

The background to this is that up until the evening before setting off for Kyiv, I was working hard, in the hope of getting some good results in time for the last of this year's relevant conference deadlines. So I've not been blogging much, but I decided I should catch up with myself a bit, because I've done quite a lot lately about which I am very happy, and I'd like to be able to look back and remember that these things happened now. So I'll just catch up briefly, and hopefully find time to write more about some parts over the weekend.

Even more than two weeks ago: I never got around to mentioning Huun Huur Tu, which I should mention, because they were otherwordly. I had heard throat singing live before, but only in a very tourist-show context, in which it's more impressive than it is musical. This lot, though, draw out really beautiful textures with all the strange sounds their voices can make, and a combination of drone and melodic instruments that just fill it out nicely.

Saturday the 18th of February: I discovered Alpental, which is a little slice of heaven. Until now, I was thrilled to simply have a ski area within an hour's drive of home, but I hadn't found more than small patches of challenging skiing, and I was also wondering why I never saw any really good skiers, even though there were plenty of impressive snowboarders in the terrain parks. Now I know: the base areas I'd been using before (3 connected ones collectively called the Summit at Snoqualmie) are not where the tough skiing is at. Across I-90 from them is Alpental, which (after going past the it's not yet too late to turn back, all the skiing accessible from this lift is either challenging or extreme sign) is the home of the most difficult piste skiing I've ever seen. It's also where all the really good skiers go, so I went from wondering where all the good skiers were to thinking that almost everyone I was seeing around was better than me. Hooray!

Sunday the 19th of February: spent the afternoon on the beach. In Seattle. So yeah, you can shut up about Seattle's horrible weather right about now.

Monday the 20th: Captain Gravel and Munir Beken. Both excellent, in completely different ways. Came home, did a last hour of frantic work setting off experiments to run on 14 different computers in my absence, which made it a lot easier to relax on holiday, knowing that some work was being done without my day-to-day intervention.

Then off to Kyiv, which was wonderful. I need to write a lot more about this trip while it's fresh in my mind, but in brief there were a whole set of different things that all added up to make for a fantastic week. First of all, Kyiv is a beautiful city, and Ukrainians in general are very friendly people. As a tourist destination, it has a lot of the things that make Russia interesting, together with a pleasing sensation that the country is actually beginning to do something about the problems left over from the USSR, and far less of the bureaucracy, excess police and stone-facedness that can make travelling in Russia such a frustrating experience. Then there was the school reunion aspect of the trip, which involved seeing people I miss terribly, as well as re-discovering a couple of people from school with whom I had mostly lost touch, and drinking a lot of vodka. Then there were Dunc's & Olga's Ukrainian friends: I liked all of them who I spent time talking to, they were excellent hosts, and it's nice to know that Dunc & Olga have good people around them. And finally, of course, there was the wedding itself (photos here). I'll definitely write more about this later, but what I will say now is that there were various points through the day when I was choking up with emotion, and I know I wasn't the only one.

Got back yesterday, had a lab meeting this morning, then met someone at the Edgewater to make plans for our wedding reception, then worked for a few hours and found my FIRST POSITIVE RESULTS (much more analysis needs doing, but I did enough today to know that it's good news), and then went to Dorkbot. With effect from today, I'm more or less in charge of the A/V for the monthly meetings. This is good—I'd like eventually to curate one, but while I have a wedding to plan it seems wise to stick to a job that doesn't require work between the meetings—but I must admit I was nervous when I found out how much bigger today's was going to be than usual. See, we got mentioned in the local paper this morning, so suddenly we had so many people that some had to stand at the back, and two film crews, and it was all a bit of a circus. A very wonderful circus, because it's great to see something I care about suddenly get noticed, and the speakers still managed to give a good nuanced presentation of a topic that usually just get shouted about as RFID Hurrah! or RFID Boo!, but a circus all the same.

And now, bed. Hopefully I'll get to sleep, but my body clock is rather scrambled at this point.
posted @ 11:54 PM -
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