Saturday, 29th of June, 2002
A group of us here went to see Minority Report at the local theatre tonight. Steven Spielberg is, again, really awesome. The movie totally engaged me, and it was quite a thinker, and set in the future - I wonder if Spielberg is on a roll starting with A.I. One kinda gross point was the fact that the whole movie was a subtle Lexus commercial - that 2054 prototype that shows up at all the Lexus car show displays showed up in the movie. There are also some sad depictions of our society today - such as the fact that people "make love" before they get married, and it being portrayed as beautiful and normal in the movie. But the overall point was pretty cool - shows a lot of limitations of man, and how everyone in this world is only out to look out for themselves - and that something eternally and ultimately good cannot come from a human creation or science.
Friday, 28th of June, 2002
A great theif just pulled off a great robbery - he had broken into the Louvre Museum in Paris and stolen all the great works of art. However, the van that he was driving with all the art broke down, and the police were soon able to easily apprehend the thief. The thief was then questioned, "You just successfully committed one of the largest robberies in history, yet how did you manage to fail on the streets when you van broke down?" The thief replied, "Well, I did not have enough Monet to buy Degas to make my Van Gough."
They seem to have lifted the block on the FTP port here at Grace College - so I will be able to update my journal entries - for now. We'll see if it stays this way. I had to work around an interesting barrier in the MSIE 5.0 and it's interaction with the MS Proxy Server 3.0 (which they just installed here) - when I log in FTP, it doesn't take special characters in passwords - so those of us who are smart enough to have them in our accounts can't use them. The proxy server here at Grace College also isn't letting port 22 SSH connections go through either, it seems, so I can't change my password. Argh! Well at least this is something as opposed to nothing.
Thursday, 27th of June, 2002
We're accompanying Lawrence Dutton playing Bartok's Viola concerto tomorrow, and we rehearsed it today. Wow, that piece is so awesome! And he's such a good violist, it's the most amazing viola playing I've ever seen and heard.
Monday, 24th of June, 2002
I've finally met some people that are non-music majors, so this is really cool. We had seating/chamber music group placement auditions this morning, and then a full orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon. We worked on Scheherezade - it's so nice!
Sunday, 23rd of June, 2002
I left early this morning for Warsaw, Indiana for the 4-week Masterworks Festival. It was a nice drive through rural, agricultural America. Now that I'm here, I'm really excited at the awesome experience ahead; most of the people here seem to be in college, and I don't know anyone else yet that is not majoring in music. Everyone here is totally serious about music, and so I'm going to be in for an experience with an almost professional orchestra. Today's activities were just registration and a faculty recital, which was cool. Two sporanos sang the Duetto Buffo di due Gatti, or "Cat Duet", by Gioacchino Rossini. It was pretty funny, the guy had a great sense of humour.
As for the living conditions here, it's pretty nice. The guys stay on the top floor of the main building where all the meals are served and all the practice rooms and studios are. The tradeoff is that background music from the practice rooms percolate up to our rooms, but it is worth the convenience. The girls are in a separate building and have to walk to just about everywhere. Meals are catered, so it's not even dormitory-style, but rather, so far, it's not a bad buffet style meal. People here are from all over the world! A quick survey of the guys reveals people from the east coast to the west, Central America, Brazil, and Australia. There are probably people from all over among the girls too; there are four times as many of them as us.
Thursday, 20th of June, 2002
Paige had a party tonight before she goes away to USC to take fun film classes. We sat around, played table tennis for a while and then went on a night scavenger hunt. The fact that it was after 9 made finding things that were still open really interesting. One group misheard the time deadline and got back an hour early and our group thought there was a no-house rule, so I suppose each group had a handicap - except for Paige's group, and they interestingly won. Owell, it was fun trying to pump 1 cent worth of gas at a gas station to obtain a receipt for 1 cent of gas.
Tuesday, 18th of June, 2002
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, then all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Monday, 17th of June, 2002
I visisted the St. Louis Bubble Tea store in the Loop this afternoon, and they sure have the authentic Chinese bubble tea! It's awesome.
Sunday, 16th of June, 2002
I saw the coolest watch today at Famous & Barr. Not only were the hours labeled one to twelve in Chinese numerical characters, but the analogue watch had an LED background that counted the seconds from one to sixty - in Chinese! It was cool.
Friday, 14th of June, 2002
We spent the last day at DC visiting Mount Vernon, and it was cool getting to go through Washington's house. There wasn't much time with lunch and all to see much else, because we had to leave at 15:30, anticipating the traffic between Mount Vernon and BWI. The time was well anticipated - we got to BWI at 18:00, about right for the 19:45 flight, since there were relatively long lines at the ticket and boarding counters. It's still nothing like Narita airport in Japan though. Our flight ended up being delayed anyways, so some of us opened up the cases and played a little something while we waited at the gate for the airplane to come. After the stop at Louisville, where most of the passengers got off the plane, we were also able to do a little stroll at 35000 feet for the few people that were on the plane headed for St. Louis. Now that's a rare and unique oppotunity. Oh, and Southwest Airlines' efficiency was impressive. They managed to unload and load most of a 737's worth of people and luggage (leaving the bags going to St. Louis on the plane) in about 13 minutes. Wow.
Overall, it was a great trip. We got to see lots of cool stuff, play for some cool venues, and spend lots of time with each other. We were a small enough group that we were like one big happy family the whole time, playing Outburst together, sitting at one long table at restaurants, squeezing onto minibusses and elevators. It was great.
Thursday, 13th of June, 2002
We had our second performance during lunch hour at Market Square today, but it started raining a third of the way through the show. After Melody of Love, when it was obvious it wasn't going to go away, we stopped. It was still a cool stroll though, as there were several classes of elementary schools that had walked down to listen. On the Hampton Inn shuttle ride back, though there was definitely some fun trying to manage the roof of the van, which leaked water. Turning a couple umbrellas upside-down to catch the water seemed to solve the problem in a rather entertaining way.
With the rain, we decided to just take the day kind of easy, so we hung out and swam a little when the rain lifted a tad. We had dinner at Portner's in Old Town Alexandria, followed by a ghost tour. The tour was cool, showing lots of the history of the Old Town, and I found the old fountain with a canon in the middle of it to be quite interesting.
Back at the hotel, there was some more Catch Phrase playing before we retired to our rooms for the night.
Wednesday, 12th of June, 2002
We had a performance during lunch hour at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and it was a really good show. Lots of people drop by there to eat lunch of the middle of DC, so it was cool. After the performance our clothes and instruments were bussed back, and we used the subway to get around from there on out.
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to try to see some of the Smithsonian Museums. During a short walk through the Sculpture Gardens, I found Flanagen's "Thinker on a Rock"! That's that weird black statue of a bunny that we have a replica of outside of Malincrockt Centre at Washington University in St. Louis! It was definitely a surprise.
Four of us made the trip down to the Air and Space Museum, and saw primiarily space things. I was blown away by all the original things they have, like the Command Module of Apollo 11, the Explorer I backup satellite, an unused working lunar lander, and Glenn's spacesuit. It was really cool, not like any other space musem. There wasn't much time to go through the Air part of the museum. The 3-story gift shop there was also insanely big.
The whole group met at the American History Museum, so we had a few minutes to spare there too, and so I got to see one cool exhibit of pianos. They had some old pianos, a weird 19th century one with 5 pedals, one producing a bassoon sound, another percussion. To represent the 21st century, Yamaha donated a crazy modern Disklavier with a transparent split-lid that raised to two different levels, and to help with playing a touchscreen LCD with a DVD drive to display sheet music. Woah.
After the Smithsonian museums started closing at 17:00, we went over the Kennedy Centre's Millenium Stage since it was featuring some youth string musicians. Two good quartets were playing, and the second one was totally awesome. They played Shostakovich's 8th Quartet, which was really interesting. I know Shostakovich is kinda known for sharing themes between pieces, and the blatant one was the 3rd movement, which repeated a lot of one of the themes of the 1st Cello Concerto. The first movement of the quartet sounded vaguely like the 5th Symphony's first movement.
After the concert, we went back the hotel, ordered pizza, and played Outburst and stuff.
Tuesday, 11th of June, 2002
We started out the day visiting the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. In the Jefferson Memorial, there was an interesting quote:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson
It bugged me at first that Jefferson implies that human morals will change over time ("new truths discovered") and become more "enlightened", and that laws should reflect changes in morality. Surely this isn't what Jefferson thought? Well another quote on the walls shows what he means:
"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men."
So according to Jefferson, there are some truths that are "self evident" and cannot change, because our Creator has created us this way. So, I'm still not sure what Jefferson means when he says "new truths discovered". Maybe I'll come back to that thought later.
We visited a lot of other memorials too, such as the FDR memorial with lots of cool waterfalls, and both the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.
After all that, we went to Boling Air Force Base to meet with the Air Force Strolling Strings. Unfortunately, they weren't able to hear us play as planned but we got to sit in on one of their rehearsals and ask them questions at the end. There were a lot of familiar faces from the Minneapolis regional strolling strings conference they hosted. During the rehearsal they played stuff we know like Hoe Down, and we got to hear their version of Memory, which is definitely cool since most of their music is arranged in-house. It was cool, it finally struck me again that the members of the Air Force Strolling Strings tend to have music degrees and their full-time job with the Air Force is music. Many seem to have also trained at the American Catholic University, which is at Washington, DC.
After the visit with the AF Strolling Strings, we went to the Holocaust Museum, since it opened late on summer Tuesdays and Thursdays. The architecture for the building was really cool, as they used lots of industrial-looking components to create an atmosphere similar to that of concentration camps. It was quite a big museum, and very extensive, covering many aspects of the events before, during, and after the Holocaust.
We tried to catch an Air Force Band concert on the west side of the Capitol building, but we got there too late. We still had fun though, and we played silly things like frisbee and duck-duck-goose on the Capital lawn. After we had enough of that we rode the Metro back to the hotel.
Monday, 10th of June, 2002
I set out with the Ladue Strolling Strings early this morning for a week-long tour of Washington, DC.
Upon arriving, we went to Arlington Cemetary first, and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Kennedys' graves, and Iowa Jima. It was very meaningful to me to see and honour those who gave their lives to wars. Many selflessly gave their lives to war, mostly towards the good purpose of war, which is a temporary suffering endured to avoid a longer and worse hardship in the future.
After Arlington we checked into the hotel, swam in the pool, and had a rehearsal.
Thursday, 6th of June, 2002
So it's 22:30, and I pull out of the Mobil on Olive Blvd. So I'm driving, and suddenly I get a lot of Ka band radar and, yeah, there's that Olivette cop hiding on the south side of Olive in that tiny parking lot. Fine, so I make sure I'm going under the speed limit, but yeah, the lights go on and he starts following me. So I turn into Price Road and then I'm like, "Hmmm, Price Road is really dark today, and awfully yellow-looking, oh wait! I forgot to turn on my headlights, I only have my parking lights on!" Duh, turn them on, but owell, it's enough suspicion to result in getting pulled over. Not only that, but he told me my license plates belonged to a Honda. Great, now I'm thinking someone has made phony plates or something and using them. Turns out, someone just got it backwards or something and all is clear. Cop was pretty understanding about not realizing my lights weren't on until I could actually notice too, so it's all good.
Wednesday, 5th of June, 2002
I was reading through my list of friends' phone numbers in elementary school, and I just remembered today that in Poplar Bluff, everyone's phone number either started with 785 or 686. Yes, that's right, there were only TWO possibilities for the first 3 numbers in the 7-digit combination - the whole town had a maximum of 20000 phone numbers.
Tuesday, 4th of June, 2002
Webster's Dictionary defines time as: "a nonspatial continuum in which events occure in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future." I like that.
Monday, 3rd of June, 2002
Sunday, 2nd of June, 2002
The Audi RS6 definitely went through obsessive design. First of all, like the Ferrari F60, it has 8-piston front brakes. Next, they put the battery in the back with the spare wheel to distribute weight. Reminds me of the theory that Porsche 911s come with two batteries for that same reason. The Tiptronic, as much as I hate it, is also obsessive. It actually senses lateral acceleration, so that it doesn't upshift when making hard corners, maintaining best possible traction around the corner. Winter wheels and tyres also come with the car, and the tyre pressure monitoring system works with them too. The Dynamic Ride Control is not your usual computerized control system. It's done by hydraulics and pressure chambers. Oil lines and valves between them constantly change the damping force on each wheel.