Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Nothing else to write about...

... so I'll tell you my schedule for this semester and the next. Oh what fun!

This semester I'm taking and their respective subtitles:
Chemistry 251 Lab OR how to play with toys and get bad grades
Chemistry 251 - Instrumental Methods Lecture OR theory of toys that get you bad grades
Chemistry 244 - Chemical Kinetics Lab OR how to become an MS Excel major
Chem. Eng. 235 - Separations OR how to make a distillation column
Chem. Eng. 237 - Continuous Mass Transfer OR how much can YOU memorize in one hour?
Statistics 213 - Applied Eng. Stat. OR how to laugh at stupid college students
Music History 1 OR can we spin your head in 3/4 time or 4/4?

Next semester's schedule? I just finished it this afternoon, one class is dependent on the project being accepted by NASA... Sorry no subtitles... yet.

Chem. Eng. 145 - Chemical Process Materials
Chem. Eng. 234 - Chemical Eng. Laboratory 1
Chem. Eng. 247 - Molecular Chemical Eng.
Chem. Eng. 281 - Chemical Reactor Design
Music History 2 (now you can have your head spin in 5/8 time)
Undergraduate Research OR Eng. 60 - Writing and Research (boooooo) if the research doesn't work out...

That's all for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Computer Upgrade

This is officially the first post for my blog on the new computer I built. Since there isn't anything particularly worthy of note right now (besides the fact I can't find the sign error in my study notes, grr), I'll just post the specs of this beautiful machine and let you ooooh and aaaah over it's majesty...

Gigabyte GA-7VAX dual-bios motherboard, KT-400 chipset
AMD Athlon 2200+ (Glacial tech heat sink)
512MB DDR400 RAM
ATI-Radeon 7500 64MBVRAM video
80GB Western Digital Caviar with 8MB buffer
Sony CD-RW, 52x24x52x
Windows XP Home (eventually with Linux dual-boot)
Envision 15" flat panel monitor

aaaand... I'm done.

Concert Update

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields performed in Rolla two days ago, and they were fantastic. These guys are so good it's ridiculous.

First, they played Mozart's Concertone for two violins in C Major (K186e/190). Kenneth Sillito (director) and Harvey de Souza were the soloists. A very beautiful piece.

The next piece was Alfred Schnittke's Moz-Art a la Haydn. This is definitely one of the strangest pieces of music I have ever heard, yet it was stunning, amazing, and humerous at the same time. You just have to see it in concert to believe it, a recording just cannot do it justice. Schnittke took little vignettes from many different pieces by Mozart and Haydn and interspersed them between extrememly complex rhythm and 20th century dissonant styles. Bitonality was rampant, and sometimes you would literally hear two different pieces being played on top of one another. Some vignettes were even modified by inserting chromatic intervals. I was caught totally unprepared to hear this, and I was shocked and amazed at the... bizarre-ness of the piece. Nevertheless, it was incredible.

Stravinsky's Concerto in E-flat Major and Mozart's Symphony No. 29 followed the intermission. There isn't a ton to say about these, the Academy played them beautifully.

I like that I didn't have to pay anything for this show either... ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Newsflash - Needing some divine intervention or mad skilz

I received my new motherboard for my desktop in the mail yesterday. I am going to start rebuiliding the computer in less than 5 minutes (9:45am). After all the problems I've had with that computer, I think I need some divine intervention to make it work... Pray hard my friends, pray hard. I'll let you know if it was a success later today.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Concert and Master Class Update

So I need to post SOMETHING about Bill K's concert and master class. Here's an analysis...

Bill started out strong with de Falla's "The Miller's Dance." This is particularly amazing because this is normally done as a duet. The fact that he can even attempt this solo basically screams, "YES I AM A GUITAR WHIZ."

I loved his arrangement of Santiago de Murcia's Sonata in D minor. This is a beautiful piece of music that captures the essence of both the Renaissance and Baroque periods, yet has a different feel to it because of the Mexican influence on his music.

Bach's Chaconne is perhaps overplayed by guitarists, but Bill made this particularly interesting by playing the piece in the key of D, not C. Very innovative!

Bill is incredibly talented at the classical-jazz-fusion style (as I like to call it). This new style is definitely making it's mark on classical guitar, and with people like Roger Hudson, Fred Hand, Dusan Bogdonovic, and Brian Head leading the way, how can that be bad? Bill played Hand's "Missing Her," perhaps one of the most beautiful contemporary pieces I've heard in a long time. I'm only beginning to get more into this style, but I hope to add some of these pieces into my repertoire.

Bill ended the performance with my current favorite classical suite, Domeniconi's Koyunbaba. He had not played the piece in a while, but he could still play in the awkward tuning of C-sharp minor, to which you have to down-tune the guitar to play the piece.

Master Class
What fun! So I show up half an hour early and get to talk to Bill one on one for a good 20 minutes or so. That was great! I need to remember to go early every time a master class comes around...

So I play de Murcia's Preludio from the Suite in C. Bill had never heard it before then, so he had the good forune of seeing something he was completely unfamiliar with. No matter, he's so good he can virtually sight-read the thing. (sick!) I played VERY well, in fact he had no qualms with any of my technique and didn't comment at all on it. That was sweet considering that my teacher has taught me to focus on the sound, unlike some teachers who sacrifice musicality for playing the "big pieces."

Bill focused on musical interpretation the entire time, and I learned three things in particular that I'm going to tell you a little about...

1) Dirty Rasqueado - This is the simplest issue we addressed on how to approach the strumming in the piece. The "modified" rasqueado wasn't quite as authentic as it could be, and he showed how to modify it even more until I had it sounding even better.

2) Musical Moments - This is one of the hardest things to do with pieces with which you are unfamiliar when you learn them. Imagine you are leading your audience on a journey (giving a tour, per se), and along the way you want to point out certain features of the landscape. What do you do to make it clear that you want their attention focused? You emphasize the feature and talk differently about it. In music, you are basically 'talking' to your audience, and you want to point out certain things to them as they happen. These are 'musical moments'. You need to be aware of where they are and what you can do make these known. They are critical to the audience's experience, and should always take priority over any sort of technical issue.

3) Tempo-awareness - This follows closely with #2. The guitar lends itself famously to using tempo changes for emphasis, moreso than other instruments in my opinion. (This may be because many instrumentalists have no concept of this sort of thing and isn't taught well, at least I haven't heard it often.) You have to use this to your advantage, to keep people's interest and to assist #2. This sort of thing would take far too long to talk about so I will bring this to a close...

In some sense, what I learned was not stuff I didn't know already, but that I have a good ways to go in my understanding of musical interpretation. Classical guitar, along with piano perhaps, is the most diverse of solo instruments, with nearly infinite possibilities of ways of playing beautiful music and displaying emotion. We need to be aware of not only technique, but also of how our music is directly affecting other people as we play it, and communicate clearly the message of the song. Make that guitar talk, son, make it talk!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Liberals, Conservatives, and Principles

I just put up a new blog link for my friend John from the chemistry department. He's a great guy, even though we sometimes get in arguments. (homeschooling, John?) John is more or less liberal, I am more or less conservative. Thus we don't always agree on things...

The whole liberal versus conservative thing, however, can sometimes be overcomplicated by party politics. For instance, on Hannity and Colmes the other day we were listening to a lady basically do nothing but insult the President. She offered no evidence, no justification, simply insults (I am quite serious). Shawn Hannity (conservative) then proceeds to tell her this, but then the argument heats up to the point when HANNITY very nearly insulted the Democratic party and his guest. His passionate rebuke was fine for a while, but he went over the line and let too much passion get in the way.

The crux of the matter is that even though I believe conservatives are right most of the time, liberals also have some good ideas. We shouldn't just throw someone's idea out because "he's a liberal" or vote for somebody because "he's a democrat" or "he's a republican." Examine their views, evaluate their policy, judge their character, for that is really what matters.

For instance, another time on Hannity and Colmes, Chuck Norris (die-hard Republican) was describing a plan for a new juvenile justice system which emphasized community service and instilling moral values rather than jailtime. His idea effectively was to train these young offenders into productive members of society. Though I may not necessarily agree with every point of his system, I thought it was a good idea. Get churches involved (I think Norris even mentioned this) and perhaps we have a winner. This isn't particularly conservative, and Colmes even told Norris he was starting to sound like a liberal. (GASP!) Does that diminish the merit of his plan? I don't think so.

Do what's right regardless. That's the message I have for politicians, whether liberal or conservative. If we would just do that party politics would hardly be necessary, and we would move back towards the system that the Founding Fathers envisioned.

So if the President really is a lier, cheater, corrupted individual, then oust him! But until it can be proven without a doubt, would you democrats quit slandering to get your own guy in office? I've heard enough...

Feel free to comment. Am I right? Am I wrong?

Enough pontificating, I need to work on lab reports...

Thursday, October 09, 2003

You wanna game?

If you haven't played Settlers of Catan, you haven't lived.

Settlers is definitely one of the greatest board game of all time; in my opinion it is only surpassed by the eternal classic Chess. Made by Mayfair Games, it is very strategic and, if played by experienced people, is not too dependent on luck. (Although, as in any game, luck always helps.)

I found about 6 months ago a way to play Settlers online. First, you need the Wannagame Messenger, which allows you to find games online. The Settlers program you use is called Wancatan, which you can download here.

It's quite fun to play with people from all over the world (the majority of the online players are from Europe) and try your hand at beating them. If you're interested, you can even join in a league and get a player rating!

So, if you really wanna game, contact me and I'll play you...

I also have just procured a new game, Puerto Rico on recommendation from BoardGameGeek.com. From what I've read it looks really cool.

On a side note, I've added a ton of new links and blogs to my sidebars, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

New Template!

Hello my blogging friends...

Welcome to the new, improved Quantum-Mechanic Blog with a template by Thinkering! Be on the lookout for more links and other new freebies...

THANK YOU THINKERING!!! You're the best!

Comment on the new template! (and make sure to say that thinkering is the coolest!)

Sunday, October 05, 2003

What am I doing here?!?!?

So the legendary three day weekend is coming up... But there's still homework to do. Thursday afternoon we begin the Chem251 homework, thinking we would finish by 5pm. Boy were we wrong! We knew it wouldn't be easy, but this was ridiculous. The difficulty level was far beyond what we had learned, and we got nowhere in the 4 hours we worked on it.

So I pushed back my departure time to Friday afternoon. We begin working on it at 9:30am... and we're still not done by 3:30pm. I haven't even started the Chem244 lab report yet! I have a HUGE test in transport phenomena next thursday! I need to catch up on reading! AND THE 251 HOMEWORK STILL ISN'T FINISHED!!!

Forget going home, I say, I need to work. So I worked this weekend. Yay. There were 5 people in our house the entire weekend (out of 37 residents), which was actually a good thing because there were far fewer distractions than a normal weekend at the CCH.

I've been able to chill a little bit - we watched Equilibrium and went to Dairy Queen - but otherwise I've been working straight through the weekend.

And I'm still not done... :-)

It's a good thing I love chemistry and chemical engineering because otherwise I would be a very unhappy person.