Sunday, February 28, 2010

Take that, SG.

Feb 26.
The festivities were toned down a bit; the student gov't appeared complacent. Don't some of them remember Pimlico? Was there something special that we had to anticipate? A DC Public School was added to the tournament roster, with all connotations and denotations (a sure defeat by a much more athletic team?)
I was caught outside at the starting buzzer; I was out on an info mission- play practice that day or not? Tied at nine; 9-19 at the quarter; 23-33 at the half. While losing, the situation was not hopeless. Not one bit. The Panthers pulled up as close as 1 point to the opponent, Potomac's "Heights" school. The lead disappeared with foul shots and quick layups; we slipped on fundamentals, too. But the spread disappeared again to 4 points with 3 minutes left in the game. But by 1 minute the game was written. There was 9 points between the teams. From second place last year, we had fallen that far.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Admissions Office

Your Brag Sheet displays some impressive ladership abilities.

We wish that your GPA would be a bit hogher, but you are on track to have a stellar semester.

Now you say you're doing an SAT prep course.

Your app package and heart seem to be in different places.

Tell us more about Choirschool.

Yes, that's true. You come back another week for the SAT II's. SAT I's gotten too long to put both on the same day.

Let me interject...

Even WPI demands more of applicants.


The college want to know: what can you contribute to their school? That's a make-or-break deal. They need people to fill their clubs.

Embrace your talents. Sell yourself for who you are.

No, we have to get that number on your transcript changed.

Is that really what you want to do?

They'll forgive you on that.

If you are really serious about it, you'll need an Independent Study project or some thing or other.

A humanities sort of guy?

That was how it was 30 years ago.

Here, take this note to class with you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lankering at Lakeforest

"It's about 4 minutes up this road, no more."
This was the distance from a violin lesson in Derwood to Lakeforest Mall. I heard things about the place, that it is an 'urbanized hangout'. I held that fear as we entered the parking lot. There was a penetrating mall cop presence- none that I saw in upscale malls like the Tysons Galleria, nor downscale ones like Silver Spring's City Place. There were empty storefronts. Looking up thorough the prismatic shaped skylight, there were several brown patches on the ceiling, something I took to be as neglect. Mall cops on foot, in uniform, on Segways. The marble tile floor, however, was still spic and span; the escalators worked and looked appealing to ride.

What we had come here to do was to see a special Chinese New Year themed exhibit. There was a small set-up on the first floor, visible from the terraced second story. That was all? Alas, there was loud music, of the traditional kind. It sounded...far eastern. There must be more to the festivities. In the central atrium, display tables and a main stage was set up. There was a performance by what seemed to be an after-school kung-fu troop. There was soul, and physical presence. These festivities were much more than a matter of political correctness. (Tomorrow is the event's last day).

Addendum: The empty storefronts and splotches on the ceiling were concentrated in one wing only; the rest of the mall was quite alive and well. Now what was up with all the mall cops?

A mall on its way out:
1) Increased security presence
2) Empty Storefronts
3) A disappearance of printed media and credit card offers
4) Discount retailers (unless it was an outlet mall to begin with)
5) Fountains turned off
6) Escalators not functional
7) Turned-off lights
8) Emptiness; a general 'dead' feeling

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tromp d'oeil

The LP record, for some, is the epitome of elegance in recorded music. The precise ebb and flow of sound waves is replicated on the vinyl disk. This infiniteness of possibility of color and tone is somewhat lost in digital recording. The smooth transitions are made into rugged bits and bytes.

The same concept applies to printed music. No detailed music score can truly capture expression and intonation. The precise feeling of the length of a note is subjective; rather than the objectively printed meter. This is left to the artist's interpretation.

I learned this on Sibelius musicwriting software. My rhythms that came to the PC through the midi keyboard were cut and rearranged and approximated into a piece that lacked full expression. Yes, surely, the music score can be improved. But this is a system to which we are familiar.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

815 V St NW

"The commissioner has decided there will be no such rock-bop in this town. This so called rock and roll is detrimental to our youth". By Mayor of Camden, NJ, 1952

By today's standards, society complained about the color of the nurse's gown. Today, there was plenty of hip swinging, crow-screeching, and syncopated beats. The first group I saw was, in my opinion, detrimental to youth. Their 'music' sounded like sitting on the Dulles Airport jumbo jet runway with a drowsy sort of side effect from the cough med and a henchman for sadism's sake. If it was artistic at all it was in the sense that it conveyed the sense of angst and pain upon the listener. The lyrics were anti-social when intelligible over the grind; for example, a girl axing her family (that was an euphemism, too). There was rampant head bobbing by the 'musicians' that disregarded anything about cerebral science, and the volume level most likely exceeded OSHA regulations.

Why was I here? My friend and 3-course classmate was performing tonight. And about Kairos? No problem. You'll be back by then. Indeed, Kairos went out with a bang- a great liturgy, incense and all.

The our guys were up. There was a trumpeter (GN), percussionist (LW-M), vocalist (RC), and two guitarists (BH and CH) . "I've been here since 9am,(did they get to go to church today?)and I'm ready to leave!" Then the song starts. I never heard Rob sing in that way; it sounded like it was from the rogue, a sound bursting from the chains of tradition. But it was refreshing; unlike the goth metal band, this music had well-written lyrics, and the format of the music felt like what we learned in music theory class: Rock and Roll = Steady Beat + Chord Progression. It was sort of Elvis-y, tradition rock style that their parents would have played at home. There was, again, that song of leaving. There was one that praised conformism. It was actually sincere. There was a love song, not mushy, though. Names don't matter to me much, but they are ID'ed as KSD. I don't know what that stands for.

When will the CD or MP3 set be cut?

(One to none performed after; anecdotal reports suggest that their drumist is quite talented, if not a Ladies man). 9:30 club, 2/14/10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Ag Preserve

City of 2050.
Washington Area real estate is inflated in price for a few reasons: desireablility, and increasing scarceness of developable property. If trends keep up (which they have even amidst a supposed construction slowdown), cities will extend straight out to the-farm. Yes, next to the skyscraper is farmland. No discernable suburbs.
But what about the farm? It's part of the Agricultural Preserve meant to protect farmland, wilderness, and wildlife. It also protects real estate prices by squeezing demand. It's a suburban version of 'historic district'. Even now, one can travel from pure farmland and 'the forest' to an urban, high-rise environment in 15 minutes. I remember when I realized the quick change: I was coming home from "Science City" on the tech corridor, cut though the woods as a short cut, drove by some estates doubtlessly owned by lawyers and Beltway Bandits. Then, a few traditional style suburbs, and then the high rises. 15 minutes. It made a profound impact on me (Cliche :)). Just imagine being a city person, but your neighbor is a cow.

Some prospective Detroit investors plan to use this method to revitalize the city, or, at least, make a quick buck.

Peace with you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What I'm doing this Weekend

Good evening from KAIROS! I've managed to smuggle my internet phone into camp and am here to share my experience with you. Now, I'd never spoil any secrets. We've been keeping busy, though. Prayer, song, meditation, social time, board games, wilderness walks. Oh, and snowball fights! No boating, though, the lake was iced over. But I mean, seiously? What are you doing fasting in the wild when we could do the same thing at Bethesda Marriott? It's a totally different experience. It's like we're on that show LOST, but we are fed and watered on a regular basis. But I must say, it's like some modernistic brain thing. You build up expectations and anticipation, and then, come Thursday, boosh, you're on a motorcoach to neverland. There is a slight allegory, I guess, to the Second Coming. But this is like, really, only the first full day. I suppose Sunday is a lost day, considering that Fourth Day will be sprinkled over the next 16 months of our school career.
I should get back to quiet reflection.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gilded Age of Washington

Donahue Peebles: Washington's Bloomberg?

Once upon a time, a wealthy individual proposed donating an estate in a tony west-of-creek Washington neighborhood for the purpose of serving as the mayor's residence. In a sense, the local Gracie Mansion. But with the fact that there is this perpetual west-of-creek/east-of-creek cultural and political strife, it seems unlikely that a mayor would feel politically correct living at that estate. On top of that, no person on that side of town has been elected mayor. (Except for the ceremonious title of "Mayor of Georgetown", which was an official position from 1751-1871). But, it has been brought up recently that a candidate for mayor cannot polarize him or herself to one side of town.

So, it has been made quite clear that the incumbent mayor, who faces reelection this year, is out of favor with half of the city, but his approval ratings remain strong in the NW. His chances of reelection aren't really compromised if tallied against a polarizing, retributionist figure. But what if we bring in the Billionaire?
Do we trust proven leadership or a rich man?

Donahue Peebles, the awfully wealthy locally grown real estate developer, is seen as a potential candidate. His political interests started young, when he was a senate page in high school. But business won him out for the while. He has not officially stated his candidacy, though. Given the local political climate, he might find it wise to wait for 2014.


Sunday, February 7, 2010


The snowplowing trucks boomed along the thoroughfare at all times of day today.

I asked the snow king for 14 inches, not quite 40. He must have misheard me.
This time, Montgomery County was the epicenter of this storm, dubbed "Snowpocalypse". Power outages, downed trees, and stores running low on supplies are widespread throughout the area. It has been 2 weeks since I have been to MoCo on account of recent weather activities. Reports are coming to the newsroom from secondhand sources who say that it looks like doomsday- or winter wonderland. Choose your pick. Don't expect another storm in the area of this magnitude for 6-7 years.

As for me, I did make it to mass this morning ; the congregation was reduced to 10% its usual size. I cooped myself up at home in the afternoon with the final work on an essay and laboratory report as well as a mock SAT exam. Fun? Choose your pick. Most institutions in the area are closed tomorrow, including the Fed. However, the DC Gov't plans to open with 1 hour delay. When there is a will, there is a way.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Sleep as late as desired
Practice violin and do homework
Stay in pajamas all day
Make a snow cone (but dont eat it)
Stay inside
Make a snow fort with lots of snowmen and snowladies
Make some hot chocolate with an eurobiscuit and marshmallows and cinnamon on top
Keep a snowball in the freezer as a reminder of this awesome winter (I got this from the show Arthur when I was about 8)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snow Days- Political Material?

There are some things that should not become political. These include science, general safety. I said 'should', not 'are not'. Remember, this year is an election year. Anything goes. Weather-related school cancellations are not an embarassment. Plumbing issues that close a school are. The same goes for skidding minivans that could have been spared the trip. Or the snowplow trucks that are damaged by that skidding car. Running out of snow cleanup funds does not seem to be a political non pas. But, not plowing streets in the name of fiscal responsibility seems like a bad move, a la DC 1996. Maybe the neighboring jursidictions or the national guard will lend a plow. Sometimes, the decider is pressured into making a bad call- "these kids already lost 3 days of school" is no replacement for impartial judgement. Or what if the signs are not there- snow is expected to come at noon. Should you close school and risk ridicule, or brave it out and risk a rushed, teutonic effort at having to get kids on buses and home before the white stuff comes. That's an embarrasment. Alas, mistakes don't ruin you. It's the way you handle them. Don't make knee-jerk reactions too obvious- it makes you look incompetent. Try evolutionary change.

Scare tactics have been shown to work in favor of incumbents. Try this: "Vote for Mr. X, he's the only one who can protect your family from Jack Frost". Or, a general 'state of emergency' on election day.

For the record, Mont. Co. was teased for making a no delay call on Monday when roads were havily iced over. Asking about people's commutes, there was sliding and a near-hit incident with a salt truck down a hill. Snow came again last night. It was a little, about 3 inches, 1 on roads, but school was called off. Sources say that, by 9am today, the snow on the roads had melted. A 2-hour delayed opening could have been done. But, all in all, Mont. Co does a good job for the heavy responsibility of 300,000 coeds.