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March 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in non music

I’ve had an interesting weekend.

Last Friday, after an hour of driving — a quarter of the way to JFK ,to pick up G from a 16 hour flight — the hood of my car flew open. This was while driving at just a bit over 65mph. Luckily (sorta) it happened on a stretch of road which was fairly straight and fairly not trafficy. After successfully stopping and exiting and standing and examining the damage, I found (in increasing order of severity):

  • The left windshield spritzer hose thingy was ripped off
  • The windshield had approximately 2,547 cracks all the hell over it.
  • The hood had popped out in the wrong direction and wouldn’t close without colliding with the top of the engine block.

Thankfully a friendly policemen (who was trapping speeders half a k up the road) reversed over and helped hold onto the hood while we pushed it back out in the right direction. He said that I could get away with driving the car with the cracked windshield, as long as I didn’t go over about 55mph, and didn’t drive at night. That way I could avoid paying for a tow.

So back home again I went. Stuck my shattered car back in the driveway, called up a friend to give me a lift to the local airport, jumped in a rental car, and headed off to JFK again.

I totally got major points for that…

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Oldly Apeeling

March 12th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted in non music

Sometimes I love the Onion so much it makes me want to cry. ZING!

Yeah, it’s two years old, but I either missed the first time around or forgot, so suck it. Another superb oldie which is (extremely vaguely: in an “I quite can’t remember the plot to that movie” sorta way) reminiscent of every day in lab:

Sometimes I spend an hour just reading the headlines. The headline is at least half of the fun. I would stake (and frequently have staked) every last troy ounce of my well established and widely accepted street-cred on debating that.

Or maybe that’s just another example of chronic internet attention-span loss syndrome. Boom, instant comedy satisfaction in less than twenty words. Come to think of it, I also enjoy reading the single-paragraph news in briefs more than the full length articles. The latter have all those WORDS in them. It’s like doing work!

Oh god… I’m not even sure if that was serious or not.

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March 11th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in classical music, shostakovich, visualization, youtube

My laptop is scorching my lap. It’s pushing 70C on both cores. Like me, it gets hot and confused when forced to think too hard about math all in one go. Unlike me, it doesn’t scribble all over it’s work and swear at the obnoxiously curly integral symbols.

Why the laptop torture sesh? Well, I’m back on the wildly careening Fast! Fourier! Transform! bandwagon (the exclamation marks are for extra excitement). FFTs are a way to break down a raw chunk of sound (for example, an MP3) into all of its individual frequencies. So for example, if you had a recording of a pure C chord, running an FFT on it would show that it had C, E and G tones in it.

It looks a lot more interesting when there is more stuff going on than that…

YouTube Preview Image

…but than it is also harder to see what is happening.

I’m excited about this again because I came across this page, in which they have an algorithm that can calculate the spectrograms waaaay faster than my old crummy one. I haven’t had time to pick apart why that is yet, but it’ll for SURE result in some sexy animations. Otherwise I want all my money back.

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Libre Libretto

March 9th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted in classical music, opera, shostakovich

One of the flopping fresh fish hauled in this morning by the eMailman featured a classical music query, which I’m going to submit to the ultimate crowd wisdom of You Guys. The question in question was whether there is a good location for not only free opera librettos, but also their English translations. It looks like there are options for the former (e.g. Karadar; the Aria Database) but the translation part is trickier.

Any suggestions?

Oops, almost forgot about the (ultra-descriptively titled) Lied and Art Song Texts Page, which is where I go when trying to remember the approximate words to the last two Alex Blok songs. (Which is what I’ve been listening to all day, either in my head or via real, honest compression waves into the ears).

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Wireless Access

March 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted in classical music, technology

Most of today was spent trying — and failing — to persuade DNA to be stickier than it wishes. The rest of the day was spent on a personally more interesting, but equally frustrating project. I’m converting my old desktop into a media-serving, AVI playing, MP3 streaming beast. This makes inordinately huge amounts of sense because (a) I listen to all my music via MP3s, (2) I only really use my laptop, which has crappy sound, and (iii) I have a big old, shiny old, fairly new old widescreen monitor just BEGGING to display Hulu.

This project results in gallons of wire being chucked around the room, hard disks being ripped out, stuck back in, pulled out again, cursed at. It also results in the largest dilemma currently known to Ben-kind: what do I do about my radio? Do I get rid of it and wire everything through the computer instead?

No. I don’t want to get rid of my radio. I love my radio, despite its single 3.5mm input. Even if I had the most amazing freakin’ internettified electronic orgy of a media server imaginable, I would still want it. All the digital satellite stations in (or hovering above) the world can’t replace the warm-blanket reassurance of the local station identification monologues. It feels like someone is keeping an eye on the empty corridors of the county while I am falling asleep.

I think what the cool rich kids do is buy a huge fancy schmancy receiver type dealie, with fifty thousand audio inputs on the back. However, since I’m a destitute graduate student I’ll stick with my cute little 1-input JVC jobbie, and try to resolve the wiring issues with careful thought (and also maybe duct tape and solder).

Hmmm. I guess that wasn’t really much of a dilemma after all.

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