let me count the days

calendars for 2014

one of my favorite end-of-the-year rituals and there’s only one other: first night!> is selecting next year’s calendars <one for home, another for the office> / for the second year in a row, i’m taking the gig posters again for my office calendar \ i still buy cds not just to keep a physical record of the music but for the album covers / the artwork usually captures the essence of a band’s recorded music at a stage in its career \ a gig poster conveys much the same thing but it is the band “live” for a moment and place in time

for home, my favorite young people wanted the calendar of optical illusions by gonsalves which we also had for two years in a row a few years back / it was intriguing in the first year | by the second year, i found it alternately creepy and kitschy / so instead, i selected the work of the belgian surrealist rene magritte* \ i think surreal art will be as intriguing as optical illusions

*magritte is referenced in godel escher bach, subject of the 10/27/13 blogpost some reading to catch up on

much ado?

much ado?

the latest results of the programme for international student assessment < pisa > once again reminds us that we suck in math and science / while my colleague who is asian like me gets riled up in frustration with news such as this, i have resorted to creative pondering | are we placing too much stock on these tests?  \ despite our youth’s mediocre performance for the past 50 years, the u.s. has driven the digital & information technology innovations of the past decade | with profound consequences to the world or to be more dramatic, to humankind / the atlantic article below expresses similar sentiment

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/so-the-us-is-terrible-at-international-tests-who-cares/281999/

there is an indomitable creative & innovative spirit in this country that is unparalleled elsewhere \ i do not mean to rationalize our mediocre performance and it’s imperative that we radically improve our educational system / but we should also recognize that equally, if not more important, are the qualities of creativity and innovativeness that has served us so well \ formal schooling alone does not bequeath these qualities / rather our culture of individualism & independence engenders this bold, pioneering ethos that continues to propel us forward despite our academic failings

and my proposed short-term solution as a hedge to our math/science problem:  grant u.s. citizenship to newly minted phds in the math | science | engineering fields and provide incentives for them to live & work here

chasing the blues

lisa simpson

i get the blues < deep blues > during winter & the holidays and even worse when i am sick / my refuge is playing classical guitar \ i had many hours to do so recently and for quick gratification i used guitar tabs / easy baroque pieces  for classical guitar delivers on its title \ the arrangements do not sound oversimplified yet they really are easy to master / and after having a couple of tries learning the difficult lute < which frustratingly would not stay in tune > going back to the guitar restored my confidence

i like the guitar because it sounds good with any genre and you can choose the appropriate type to suit you < classical * acoustic * electric * bass * 12-string > \ the skills for guitar playing are also translatable to any fretted instrument such as the lute, uke, mandolin and banjo / and it’s easy to learn especially with tablature

try these pieces < for a quick lesson, google guitar tablature and go on youtube for a quick tutorial >  one is from the 17th century and the other from 2002 / somewhere in this post, the titles are revealed

zephyr-espanoleta

click image to enlarge

from top form to zilch | mind-body medicine

from top form to zilch it was a viral thing that came fast and furious exactly a week before thanksgiving and did not leave me until two days ago \ healthy through two consecutive flu seasons, this took me by surprise / and the only explanation could be that my body had let its guard down after my first major project wound down and the rowing season ended \ my pcp agreed that stress impacts one’s physical well-being

psychoneuroimmunology < pni > is surprisingly a new field with no widespread acceptance / as the term implies there is a connection between one’s mental state & the immune system and consequently, one’s health \ pni explains why college students catch a cold or fall ill after exams / and it can also explain how happiness can boost the immune system \ i’d like to think of the mind-body connection as a coping strategy \ just keep me healthy enough to perform at a high level as long as i need to | there’s the promise of forced rest and restoration when the need is gone / a strategy that needs refinement, maybe chilling out more during periods of stress http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-happiness-boosts-the-immune-system

bach brandenburg concertos in pittsburgh

brandenburg concertos in pittsburgh

the brandenburg concertos performed by chatham baroque & friends convinced my favorite young musicians that bach is the greatest composer of the baroque period / <but vivaldi is good too, they added> / heartening to know that they do appreciate classical music | maybe deep inside \ because boring is what i hear from them about classical music  \ the 20th century club near sailors & soldiers in oakland is a beautiful elegant venue / across the river, mgmt was playing at stage ae \ theorbo player in picture is my lute teacher, scott pauley of chatham baroque / harpsichordist never turned pages while performing

from npr | performance today’s milestones of the millennium

Few musical works are as loved–and as often performed–as the six “Brandenburg” Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach. These six works display a lighter side of Bach’s imperishable genius. Yet they came into being as an unexpected gift. That’s what happened in 1721 when Bach presented the Margrave of Brandenburg with a bound manuscript containing six lively concertos for chamber orchestra, works based on an Italian Concerto Grosso style. The Margrave never thanked Bach for his work–or paid him. There’s no way he could have known that this gift–later named the Brandenburg Concertos–would become a benchmark of Baroque music and still have the power to move people almost three centuries later. 

http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/milestones/991214.motm.brandenburg.html