Skip to main content


Buying a Digital Piano

Here she is, my new Yamaha Clavinova CLP-625.

Overall, I have been very happy with it.  The sound is good - I play mostly with headphones - and the interface is easy to use; no screen, just buttons, and not too many weird options.  The touch is good, it feels like a real upright, while the size is much more compact than an upright.  It fights neatly in our apartment, isn't very heavy, and has all the features I need (admittedly, not many).  It came with the bench and standard pedals, the music stand, and a hook for hanging your headphones.  All in all, everything I wanted, and very little extra.

And now the saga of how we bought our piano:

For the last few years, my only access to a piano has been either accompanying J to the sketchy music rooms his company provides, or going to my church to play during off hours.  We rarely went to the sketchy music rooms, so mostly I would practice at church -- or rather, wouldn't, since I rarely went there either; going to play right after…
Recent posts

The Experiment: Part 2

I can't believe that somehow the rest of the the year slipped away without any more posts... so I'll just have to make up for it now!


By Day 3 of the second week, The Experiment was already over.  Three more days of commuting and I was done.  On that Wednesday, I took the train to San Jose, met my co-worker, took a Lyft to our site meeting, then Lyft back to the office.  Then after work I went with another co-worker to an event in San Jose, then took the train back up to San Francisco.  So I left the apartment at 7am to get on the train, and then got back at 10:45pm.  It was grueling, and I was so tired that when I got home, I wrote a mostly incomprehensible post about how tired I was, that I will spare you from reading.

By Day 4 (Thursday) of the second week, J and I agreed that we were not moving to San Francisco.  He had been sick most of the first week, so he wasn't taking the train, which meant he started in earnest on the second week.  By…

The Experiment: Part 1

Last month, J and I decided to "test drive" living in San Francisco.  It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, since my urban-dweller tendencies have not exactly meshed well with living in suburban Mountain View.  But since both of us work in the Peninsula / Silicon Valley, we would both have to commute south (by car, bus, or train) every weekday.  So it's not a move to be taken lightly.  We're looking at somewhere around 15 to 20 hours/week of commuting time for each of us.  But we both find that our leisure activities pull us northward on a regular basis, so it seemed reasonable to figure out if we'd actually enjoy living in the city.

We're calling this test period "The Experiment."

We first tried renting a furnished apartment for a month in the Mission, but nothing looked that good, and after checking out the bike route to the train station -- involving biking up hills, under highways, and through lots and lots of stop si…

Visiting Washington, DC

I've been to DC several times -- I think at least four times before -- but most of these trips have been relatively short, and there are still many sites I haven't been able to visit.  So when I had the opportunity to travel to DC for a friend's wedding last month, and the chance to visit with old friends too, I packed my bag and headed east.

(Speaking of bags - I recently purchased a Timbuk2 "Wingman" duffel, which converts between a duffel, messenger bag, and backpack, and have really enjoyed the hands-free travel experience.  If, like me, you don't enjoy dragging a wheeled carry-on behind you between airport gates, onto the metro, and through train cars, then I recommend checking out their line of convertible bags.  The backpack straps zip away into their own compartment if you want to check the bag or just get them out of the way, but the straps are reasonably comfortable on your back even when the bag is full.  Just my two cents.  End of unpaid sales pi…

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Just when you thought this year could get no more strange, difficult, or unexpected... hurricane season hits with a vengeance.  This post won't have any real focus, but my head is buzzing with so many thoughts that I needed to write some of them down, to share with others who may also need a moment to reflect (or just to distract themselves).

I should start with the note that I am very grateful that my family came out of Hurricane Irma unscathed, but grieve for everyone affected by both Irma and Hurricane Harvey, including Puerto Rico, the Antilles and the Virgin Islands.  If you want to donate to relief efforts, the best suggestion I've heard thus far is to donate directly to local organizations, like the local chapters of the Red Cross, since they can use the funds immediately.   Or if you just don't want to donate to the Red Cross, but still want something that goes to local communities, try Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.  And don't forget there are many other h…

Visiting Chicago

In May, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Chicago after judging at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals competition at Michigan State.  I took the Amtrak from East Lansing to Chicago - Union Station, then the "L" ("elevated") train the rest of the time.  There was one issue when I tried to get out to the University of Chicago which involved missing a bus connection and having to be rescued by my friend, but aside from that, public transit was a breeze.

Chicago overall was a really fun city: not too big as to feel overwhelming, but with great transit around the downtown Loop area, perfect weather at the end of May, and lots to see and do.  I'm already looking forward to going back.  I made myself a Google map of the city with an ambitious number of places to visit, but thanks to my patient friends, I was able to check off most of the places.  The others will have to wait 'til next time.  Here's the run-down of what I was able to see.