The Northwest Chamber Orchestra Opening Gala!

a review

I just returned from seeing the Northwest Chamber Orchestra’s performance of William Bolcom’s Concerto Serenade for Violin and Strings, John Adams’ Shaker Loops and Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 2.

First of all, this was a wonderful performance. While the NCO isn’t a premiere ensemble, they interpreted the pieces quite well.

The Bolcom piece was a bit disappointing to me, this was the first time I heard it and it didn’t seem up to the level of some of his other work. The ensemble did a good job with it and the soloist Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi did her able best to enhance the piece with her performance and stage presence.

To say that I have not been a fan of John Adams is an understatement. My first exposure to his work was at the World Premiere of Death of Klinghoffer at the San Francisco Opera. To say that I disliked it would also be an understatement. I hated it. Everything about it. It sucked and I’ve avoided anything with his name on it since. I’m willing to admit now that I’ve misjudged him, at least his non-operatic work. Shaker Loops is an excellent piece. Stunning. It was just a bit beyond the NCO’s comfort level which was unfortunate. Given the right ensemble, I think this piece could be transcendent. I’m going to seek out some of Adams’ non-operatic work now and re-evaluate him.

When it comes to Philip Glass, I am a devote. A fan. I really like his stuff and have for at least the last 20 years when I first found a copy of Einstein on the Beach at my local library. I have been a bit disappointed with his recent work because it seems that he has been adapting existing pieces for new ensembles and giving the pieces new names. This seems the height of laziness and is a bit of a disappointment. When the concerto began, I feared that this was going to be the case again. As the piece progressed, however, it strayed more and more from Glass’ old territory and into some new themes and ideas. Once the second movement (featuring R. Carlos Nakai) began, it really moved into new areas. Unfortunately, Mr. Nakai’s flute sounded way out of tune with the rest of the orchestra and was somewhat jarring. At the end of the movement, the flute and piano (performed excellently by Paul Barnes) performed a duet which was beautiful. The third movement was great and really saved the piece as a whole.

The rest of the season finds the NCO re-hashing the well-worn composers which guarantee ticket sales, but do little to move classical music forward. They are taking some interesting chances on their programs using the Garfied High School orchestra for their next concert and world premiering a new piece by C. Curtis Smith in April, but I’d hope to see them take more risks like today’s program in future seasons.

A good IDE

is worth its weight in gold…

Now, this should be obvious, but it isn’t until the day you are forced to use a crappy IDE. When it comes to software development, I’m from the old school. Not the old, old school of punch cards and dip switches, but the newer old school with command line building and debugging through printfs. I’ve realized that I have become soft in my advancing years.

I’ve spent most of the last 11 years of my career doing my development in Visual Studio (and its earlier versions). Now, I’m fairly platform agnostic as a rule. During that time, I’ve also written software for Linux in Java and the Macintosh as well. Eclipse and VisualAge were decent enough IDEs that I didn’t feel hampered. However, the leading IDE on the mac until recently was CodeWarrior. CodeWarrior has an long history. It’s been around for a long time and you would think that as development environments go, it should be one of the best considering it became the main development tool for Mac OS development. I have no idea why though. It sucks. I mean, it really sucks. At first I thought it was just the shock of the new. I was just having to adjust to a new environment, but no, I’ve been using it for 18 months now and I still hate it.

Luckily (or unluckily) Apple is basically forcing all those who want to write software for OS X to switch to XCode. I’ve only just started using it, so my observations are premature. In general, it seems quite good and well designed. It does have some significant quirks and weirdness though. Apple seems really interested in making it better, so here is hoping…

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California

You sir are awesome
From TPM Cafe

The President suspended wage standards for workers on the Gulf Coast before he declared a national emergency. That means he was so focused on cutting the wages of people who’d be returning to the Gulf Coast to rebuild their lives and their communities that, in order to hasten the suspension, he failed to follow the law. And at the same time the White House was cutting workers’ wages, it was busy awarding no-bid contracts. The President has proven once again that he’s more interested in governing for the few than in governing for all of us.

The President’s pay cut affects tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Americans who desperately need a decent income to rebuild their lives. People working construction jobs in the Gulf Coast might only have earned $7 or $8 in the first place; now, the only protection left for them is the federal minimum wage, which is a disgraceful $5.15 an hour because Republicans repeatedly refuse to increase it.

What the President has done is immoral.

Sep 16, 2005 — 08:06:51 PM EST

what the hell happened to Orkut?

It has become the best Portuguese language social networking service on the internet.

As someone who used to work on virtual worlds software, I’ve followed the internet communities sites with some interest. It has been interesting to see each new one emerge become the leader and then recede as another site takes it place. There was friendster then orkut now myspace. I just visited orkut again for the first time in many months to see many of the communities abandoned, without a post in the last 6 or 8 months. The only recent posts seem to be in Portuguese. Even in the Seattle group, there are events for Sao Paulo listed! The Brazilians have overrun every forum and group and claimed it as their own. I wonder if Google is planning to do anything about it, because otherwise, it is certain that Orkut will continue to decline until it isn’t worth the support costs.

Old School DVD burning

Nothing like burning bad after bad disc when the discs are pricey

Switching to burning DVD+R DLs for backup has brought me back to the old days when CD-Rs cost $8 and it could take a couple duds to get a good one.

I’ve been using the Lacie Dual Layer DVD burner with Toast 6 Titanium OS X 10.3.9 and Memorex DVD+R DL discs and an external firewire drive. I had pretty good success at first, but now I’ve just burned 4 duds in a row (two getting errors during writing the lead-out and two hanging the writing right in the middle).

It is amazing how cavalier I’d gotten about burning DVDs, having a 99% success rate had just become the usual. Compound this with the fact that DVD-Rs are now down to under a dollar each in bulk while Dual Layer discs are still up around $4 each.

I’m not sure if this is a firewire issue, a media issue or a software issue. Just like the good ol’ days.

Yay Frank Rich!

Frank Rich’s op-ed piece “Falluja Floods the Superdome” in yesterday’s New York Times is spot-on

Maureen Dowd’s Op-ed “United States Of Shame” in Friday’s New York Times had this little gem:

Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

Bob Herbert is pissed off, closer to the way I feel. His op-ed today had this excellent sentiment:

Mr. Bush flew south on Friday and proved (as if more proof were needed) that he didn’t get it. Instead of urgently focusing on the people who were stranded, hungry, sick and dying, he engaged in small talk, reminiscing at one point about the days when he used to party in New Orleans, and mentioning that Trent Lott had lost one of his houses but that it would be replaced with “a fantastic house – and I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.

Dear Bumbershoot…

I don’t like you anymore

I haven’t been to a Bumbershoot in the last 6 years, mostly because we’re usually out of town on labor day weekend, but this year we were in town and so we decided to check it out. We had a couple things that we were interested in seeing and we had a short walk to get there. Perfect! We arrive and then we notice the prices $28/adult! That might be ok if Bumbershoot is your only source of culture ’cause you are under 21 or live in the stix or Idaho or something, but 70% of the bands playing at Bumbershoot play a couple times a month in more intimate venues for $5 and the other 30% are pretty much in the washed-up-has-beens or the I’d-like-to-see-but-not-in-a-stadium kind of acts. Or even if there were more acts I really wanted to see, I’m not sure how excited I’d be to wait an hour in the sun surrounded by 16 years olds from Enumclaw in order to see them.

Sorry Bumbershoot, its not you, it’s me. We’ve grown apart and I just don’t like hanging around you anymore.


a disappointment for the price

I can’t remember what the previous name of this restaurant was, but I do remember that the food and atmosphere were good. The atmosphere is still good, the charming outdoor patio, the dark interior. The service was mostly good, once the place got a little crowded, our waitress forgot we existed and we sat at a table with our finished meal for 20 minutes before we gave up and stood up so that we could get our check. The food itself was a disappointment, but only because of the prices. For $35+/person, you expect a reasonable level of cuisine that was missing here. The pizza was unfavorably compared to american cheese baked on a saltine. My Canneloni with pork was unimpressive.

For the money, there are many better choices within a block or two…