Cheeky monkeys

It was when the backup file for my old blog reached 650 megs that I discovered that some naughty rascals had managed to store a bunch of mp3s on my server. Kudos to them for not buggering anything up so I didn’t notice until now.

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The almost annual blog migration

Finding myself once again spending the christmas-new year limbo period mucking about with a year’s worth of backlogged blog administration and semi-traditional experimentation with alternative hosting. I wouldn’t mind except it’s almost impossible to avoid reading stuff I wrote 8 years ago and cringeing. I think I knew more then than I did now. Or perhaps was just more enthusastic about broadcasting it.

Road safety and an apology

To the person I overtook and had to squeeze in front of as the overtaking lane merged into the left hand lane going up that hill who was themselves held up by the queue of traffic that I was overtaking, sorry. I flashed my hazard lights at you in apology once I was safely in front of you. Hopefully you interpreted that gesture correctly. Now, does my lack of judgement make it okay for you to accelerate into my path and actively try to block my return to the line of traffic? In what way did your actions contribute to the safe and swift progress of all concerned? Would you have preferred it if I’d not seen you (and then hit my horn long and hard I admit) and just ploughed into your right hand side? My car would have been a mess, but yours would have gone into the ditch at 60 miles an hour.

I’ve just spent a week motorcycling in France and I’m left with this impression: French driving in general is significantly better than British driving. Many French people ride scooters as teenagers and it shows in their friendly and considerate attitude towards their two-wheeled friends and road safety in general. We British drivers sometimes act like we own the road and all other road users are an inconvenient obstacle. We also appear to believe ourselves invulnerable and infallible. Personally I think learning to ride a moped or motorcycle before learning to drive a car should be compulsory.

Dammit, WordPress

Few things enrage me more than wrestling with blog software. All I want to do is fix the archive links so that outside references to popular posts imported from movable type still work. Messing about with mod-rewrite, random plugins and generally wasting my morning are not part of that agenda. All it needs is one extra field that I can manually type my own permalink into that would map to a specific post. I don’t NEED an algorithmic solution here, that’s the beauty of URLs. They’re just text! If only this blasted software would get out of the way and do the simplest thing that could possibly work.

Piano

This year, for some reason (*cough* midlife crisis) I’ve been motivated to do some things I’ve thought about in the past but allowed myself to be talked out of (by myself or others). So I’m learning the piano. I’ve played a few instruments as a child, with a timeline that basically went like this: Start having lessons, breeze through for a few months, right up to the point where regular practicing was required to make progress, lose interest and stop. Somewhat counterintuitively, I could improve further than average initially with little practice, so would hit a wall when I stopped improving as I had become used to making easy progress.

Coming into a new instrument after more than a few years, and having mostly lost any music reading ability I may have had, I’ve been struck by how regular music actually is. There are patterns everywhere and things that I struggled to understand as a young’un make perfect sense to me now. For example, scales:

The easiest scale to play on a piano is C-Major. You start at the white key to the left of the two black keys (that’s C) and press each white key (whole notes, eg C,D,E,F etc.) until you get to the next one that looks the same. Other scales however involve pressing black keys (the sharps and flats, eg C♯, E♭) and this was one of the things I found confusing whenever I considered it before. But there is a very simple pattern for all major scales, and it goes like this: 0-2-2-1-2-2-2-1. This means you press the first two keys two semitones apart after the first note (0), then the next semitone, followed by three more keys each two semitones apart, followed by a single semitone interval, which puts you on your starting note one octave higher. This applies to all major scales, regardless of which note you start on.

What’s a semitone? Its the difference between each adjacent key on the keyboard irrespective of colour. Notice how most white keys have a black between them but some don’t? That’s why the C-Major scale is only on the white keys. It happens that just when you need to go only one semitone higher, you’re at two white keys next to each other with no black key in the middle. Start at a different spot however and sometimes you’ll have to hit a black key in order to maintain the above sequence (eg. if you find yourself needing to go one semitone higher and there is a black key to the right, or two semitones higher when there is no black key between the key you’re on and the next white key along.)

So there you go. Music is maths.