Thursday, March 31, 2005

Do people just suck on party poker?

We had our regular wednesday poker game at Randy's house tonight, and I took 3rd. Somewhat happy with my play, but not thrilled. Anyway, it left me hankering for some more poker, and the only place to do that is online.

So, I signed up for a Party Poker account.... I played 8 tournaments, taking 1st in 3 of them and 2nd in 1. Do people just really suck on party poker or what? Because I've never had results like that playing live tournaments. Maybe it was just a fluke or something.

Monday, March 28, 2005

New Toys

I'm a very slow adopter of high technology, which is bizarre since my job is to help create high technology. The problem is that stuff changes so fast, and lots of ideas come out that sound awesome, and then 6 months later they sound crappy. Two of the things I've been putting off for the longest time Digital Cameras and MP3 players. Actually, neither of these ever sounded crappy, I just haven't been impressed with the affordable technology until now.

Digital Cameras are a great idea... most all I ever want to do with pictures is get them in my computer and email them or post them on a website. With traditional cameras this is a real pain... take the picture, get it developed (time consuming, expensive), scan it (time consuming), clean it up in Photoshop or GIMP (also time consuming). Digital cameras are a fixed cost, and it has the added benefit that you don't have to worry about film expiring or getting it ruined by the X-Ray machine. No scanning necessary... you just plug the camera in and it looks like a generic SCSI device; simply copy the pictures as JPEGs onto your computer. My brother-in-law works at Sony, and he got me a great deal on a DSC-V3. You can read all about camera in the DSC-V3 Camera Review.

Back in 1998 some company released an MP3 player that looked like a Discman but played ISOs of MP3s. I told myself, "I'll wait until they make one that plays DVDs of MP3s". Then they came out with those, and I told myself, "I'll wait until they come out with something smaller, like a laptop HD or flash memory". Then they came out with those, and I told myself, "I'll wait until they come out with something that has enough storage to hold my entire collection and then some". Apple finally came out with a 60 GB iPOD, which means it can hold my entire music collection (about 35 GB) and still have plenty of room to grow. I love my iPod Photo. The iCarPlay from Monster is a great FM Transmitter (at least around Fort Collins).

So, I've been spending a good portion of my free time lately playing with my new toys. It takes a *long time* to load all of your music onto your computer and then transfer it to the iPod, but this should help make travelling quite a bit easier.

For those of you playing along, I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in January to start a new job with HP. Now that I have a digital camera, I finally took pictures of my new house and new car. The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house on the edge of town in a subdivision named Registry Ridge. Fort Collins is rapidly expanding to the south, and I imagine in 3-5 years Registry Ridge won't be considering to be "on the edge". My new car is a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Limited. If you're considering getting an AWD car, I highly recommend looking into Subarus. I like this car way better than the Audi A4 or A6 that I drove. Check out pictures of My New Life In Colorado.

Monday, March 21, 2005

It makes a huge difference when you do stuff the right way

As most of you know, I've been playing trumpet since the 5th grade. Which means I've been playing trumpet since I was 11. And since I'm 26, that means I've been playing trumpet more than half of my life.

I never really had formal lessons while I was growing up... mostly I learned by trial and error, and by reading ancient bibles of trumpet playing like Arban's Method for Trumpet. Arban was an excellent cornetist, and wrote a piece called "The Carnival of Venice" with which to display his amazing virtuosity. It is probably one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the trumpet repertoire.

For about a year I was taking lessons with Jerome Callet, who teaches a technique called Super Chops. He did great things for my range--I could consistently play an F-sharp above high C without warming up. Unfortunately, I would always get headaches when playing in the upper range. After a weekend of musicals my head would hurt so bad I couldn't really do much but lay on the couch with the lights off. I read lots of accounts on the web about how headaches were normal when learning to play in the upper register, and that they eventually stop happening. Well, being incapacitated gets old, and it wasn't really worth it. So, I decided I needed a change.

Last weekend I flew to Orlando, FL to take a lesson with Bill Carmichael. Bill is one of the main trumpet players for Disneyworld and some other theme parks. Orlando is a great place if you like theme parks. If you can think of a theme park chain, they have one in orlando. Disneyworld (which actually is a huge conglomeration of tons of separate themeparks), Universal, Sea World, etc...

Back on topic. I went to Bill's house, and the lesson was a good mixture of playing/teaching philosophy, demonstrations, me playing, him playing, back and forth. It was a very productive time. He explained why I was getting headaches, and helped me understand the mechanics of what you actually need to do to get a trumpet to sound a note. You'd think after 15 years I would know this, but I'm always learning new stuff.

So, I've been working on Bill's exercises and technique for a week now. Tonight I had an epiphany, and things just started clicking together. I played my first Double-C ever. It was weak, and thin, and generally sounded like crap, but it was there! With very little effort. And most importantly, with no headache. Bill and I got along pretty well, and he said he would be willing to continue the lessons. Hopefully I'll continue to make progress, and eventually I'll be good enough to get some gigs around the Fort Collins / Denver area.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My first post

This is the first post on my new blog.