Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Musicians Needed!

Irene Kwok is a talented musician studying for her Masters in Music at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) in Belmont, California. She is looking for more singers and an additional musician to help her put on a classical music recital to be held at St. Jude's Episcopal Church in Cupertino, California on the 20th of May, 2006.

We met through our interactions in the St. Jude's choir. Michael Morris, the musical director, passed on the following via email from Irene.

Irene and I just spoke tonight. My voice is very hoarse this week because of my cold and my speaking for the whole weekend at DunDraCon XXX (which I will cover in another post), so it will be another week to let my voice heal before Irene can listen to my range and consider whether she'd prefer me to sing tenor or bass. She was very enthusiastic about getting another male singer to go with the others already assembled, and is looking for a few more singers, male and female!

In total, Irene is looking to recruit 16-20 people. She has 13 already. If you are interested in having an opportunity to perform some marvellous music, or if you are simply interested in attending a free, open recital of some marvellous classical music, please read on! (I've updated some of the information based on Irene's latest information).

Dear musicians,

I am a music graduate student looking for singers and a couple of instrumentalists to help perform a recital that I need to conduct as part of my graduation. If you have some time, would like to help me out, and would enjoy the repertoire, please read on.

There are two choirs singing at the recital and the choir I’m recruiting for will sing the following pieces:
  1. Mendelssohn’sHe, Watching Over Israel” from the oratorio Elijah.
  2. Mozart’s “Lacrymosa” from his Requiem – this will be accompanied by a string ensemble and hopefully a timpanist! (still needed)
  3. A contemporary piece by Brant Adams “Down by the Riverside” (4-part version) which mixes gospel rock, jazz, blues, swing into a single piece.
Practice Schedule – Mon. 8-9:15pm, starting from 3/20/2006:
There are 8 practices offered. Depending upon the need of the group, some of these may be sectionals for those who need it (i.e. others don’t need to attend). The dates are:
3/20, 3/27, 4/3, 4/10, 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, 5/8. Location is my home in Cupertino.

Dress Rehearsal – Sat. 5-6:30pm on 5/13/2006:
Everyone needs to be present for this combined practice with another group that practices at my university (Univ. of Notre Dame de Namur, Belmont), and also to rehearse with string ensemble.

– St. Jude's Episcopal Church — Sat. 6:00 – 8pm on 5/20/2006
For Performers: 6:00 is call time. Recital begins at 7 pm. Everyone is invited to a reception afterwards.
For Attendees: Doors open 6:50 pm.

• 1 soprano
• 3 altos with rich warm round tones
• 1-2 tenors
• 1 violist
• 1 percussionist (for wood block and timpani)

• Can read music independently and quickly
• Some chorale experience
• Pitch accuracy
• Dependable

If you have interest, email me (Irene) at kwoksmusic@yahoo.com. Thank you!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

If you are interested in practicing, either with Irene or even on your own, you might want to peek at the MIDI practice files for He, Watching Over Israel. You can even find the score (with markings) for all the parts online at the University of Kansas.

For Mozart's Lacrymosa, you can get the first two pages online for free, and the entire score for $1.50. I found the lyrics online:
Lacrymosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce Deus, pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem! Amen!
Finally, for Down by the Riverside, by Brant Adams, sheet music is available online for $2.05.

I'm sure Irene will arrange for music for everyone participating. The links above are for those interested in pursuing their own similar parallel or subsequent musical paths.

Hope to see some of you in rehearsal. Hope to see more of you in May.



Monday, February 13, 2006

Want to Live Near Me?

The Chiquita Palms apartment where I live, 360 Chiquita Avenue, Mountain View, California, has a studio apartment available.

The pool is a great place to sit and relax beside. I love to listen to the hummingbirds in the trees, and the squirrels playing chase up and down the palms in the central court. I've lived here for more than a decade.

If you are interested in walking, you can easily reach downtown life or public transportation. The Chiquita Palms apartments are eminantly walkable to downtown Mountain View's Castro Street. It's a brisk but decent walk to the VTA Light Rail or Caltrain station in the morning. It would be a terrible drenching in the rain, but otherwise, it's good exercise. It's also walkable to El Camino Real, where you can take the 22 bus up the peninsula to Palo Alto's University Avenue for a stroll or to Stanford. You can also head southeast to Sunnyvale or downtown San Jose. It's also walkable in the other direction to Hobee's Restaurant at 2312 Central Expressway, just across the Caltrain tracks at Rengstorff Avenue, catty-corner to Rengstorff Park.

We're close to the Shoreline Amphitheatre and the Century Cinema 16. There's a lot of high-tech businesses in the area, and the city has very good live theatre at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

If you like to walk, ride bicycles, or otherwise get outdoors, this is a good, healthy town to do it in.

The Chiquita Palms apartments are a modest 12-unit place to live. They are not like the huge complexes. We have singletons (like me), couples and small families.

I'm looking forward to meet my new neighbors this year. Maybe it will be you? Never know!


Friday, February 10, 2006

No Dog Tags Allowed

The Mountain View Voice reported on how "Council rejects war memorial" in their 10 February 2006 edition (Volume 14 No. 7).

"Council members Laura Macias and Matt Neely backed the project, but their colleagues said they were concerned about approving any form of free speech that could not get a permit under existing city policy."

So, hanging Christmas lights on city trees is alright, even though that violates the following code:
SEC. 32.10. Attachment of wire, rope, signs, etc., unlawful. No person shall place, apply, attach or keep attached to any street tree or shrub or to a guard or stake intended for the protection thereof any wire, rope, sign, paint or any other substance, structure, thing or device of any kind or nature whatsoever. (Ord. No. 175.659, 4/10/61.)
But apparently hanging dog tags in memory of the fallen dead of the United States of America would suddenly trigger this provision. We're apparently only allowed to have "happy trees."

The real issue is the undo influence of "the small number of active and former service members who decried the plans as an anti-war protest masquerading as a memorial." Council member Tom Means was quoted as saying "The group doesn't have much credibility... Just go to the Web site."

Alright Tom, let's do that. The group organizing the memorial was Mountain View Voices for Peace (MVVP.org). They have links to:
  • CostofWar.com. That's the factual budget that the war costs. $239.8 billion as of tonight.
  • iCasualties.org. That's the factual list of those killed and wounded in this war so far. 2,265 military and 310 contractors killed as of tonight (and 16,653 wounded).
  • IraqBodycount.net. That's the best-guess anyone's yet been able to tally of total casualties (including innocent civilians) for the war. Somewhere between 28,000 - 34,000 people dead.
There was an article today from Cindy Sheehan about how she was strong-armed out of the halls of Congress for the State of the Union because she was wearing a t-shirt that read "2245 Dead. How many more?"

Sadly, Cindy, there have been now 20 more since your t-shirt was printed. But apparently simply advertizing the truth and asking a three word question is considered a "protest" sufficient of arrest.

For those, such as Ken Girdley, who believe this constitutes "anti-war, anti-military and anti-administration" activities, and that hanging dog tags from a tree might "taint the service of those who are putting lives at risk every day," I say this: get over your paranoia.

Americans are not holding violent riots teetering on revolt in the streets as they did in the Civil War or even the Vietnam War, violently outraged against the draft. Americans are asking hard questions about how we got into this war, the reasons why we are fighting it, and how we can extract ourselves from it with the least harm to our own forces and reputation in the world.

Our nation has incurred $238.9 billion in costs to fund this expedition. With a projected US population as of this moment of 298 million, this means the war in Iraq has cost each US resident, including each resident of Mountain View, $804.69 each as of this writing.

The final projection for the cost of war is now expected to exceed $600 billion, and some project, with veteran's benefits, the cost of war could be $1 trillion in the long-run. Regardless, let's just deal with present-state figures.

With a city population of 72,200, the collective cost of the war to the citizens of Mountain View, California, has been $58,098,642.08 as of my typing these words. The number is increasing. The actual number will, in the long term, either double this value or be four times this value. In other words, this war in Iraq will cost our community somewhere between $100 - $200 million dollars.

However, the City Council could not find it in their hearts to scrounge up "an estimated $1,400 worth of city resources and permission to leave the display up for a month."

We could recount the names, ranks, and dates of death of those from our city who have fallen, including those assigned to the 351st Civil Affairs Command, based out of Mt. View.

The deaths per total US population due to the war in Iraq are 1 in 131,610. Mountain View, with a population of 72,200, had about a 50-50 chance of avoiding any casualties. Yet our own resident 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard was killed, and at least two others from the 351st stationed here.

These people deserve to be remembered. This city owes it to every man and woman who has died over there in Iraq to give them their due. Not just one day in November. Because these people are over there 365, 24 x 7. And many have been over there for two or three tours of duty.

The people who say that this would "taint" our beliefs about those who are serving overseas are utterly contemptible. I don't care if they did serve in the military. We owe it to the hundreds of thousands of people serving in CENTCOM to say,

"We're Mountain View, California. And regardless of whether we support the war, or are against the war, we acknowledge what you are personally risking on our behalf. We shall consider your sacrifice for a whole month, as a sober reminder of your daily, year-round duties. We grieve for your losses. We worry about you. We will hold civil discourse about the course our nation is on, airing both the good and the bad, in hopes for a progressive engagement about where we should be this time next year, and whether we can do anything to help ensure your survival and speed up your return to your loved ones. We hope to minimize the cost to your precious lives and to our economy, to minimize the damage to our true national security and to our prestige in the world."

If Mountain View, California, cannot summon up $1,400 to consider this proposition after we have collectively already forked over $58 million to fund the war in the first place, if we cannot spare $0.019 per capita—less than 2 cents per resident to put dogtags in a tree for a month—then what in the world are we doing tossing tens of millions of dollars as a community to fund the war in the first place?

Is it a "sin tax?" Something we can pay off so our collective minds can simply carry on with their daily lives without worrying about the pain and suffering being borne by our military servicemen and women, civil contractors and selfless workers for NGOs?

I am highly disappointed in Mountain View's City Council. Ashamed, in fact. We should be expressing our collective viewpoints much as there was the Witness Tree during the dawn of our city's founding on the property of Benjamin Bubb. It was a cherry tree, like in the apocryphal story of George Washington, who was not supposed to tell a lie.

We are not telling a lie. We are merely making a sin of ommission by not giving formal attention, as a city, as a movement of 72,200 US residents, to acknowledge the good, the bad, the ugly, and the very, very real events of and people serving and surviving in the war in Iraq.

It matters less whether we individually agree or disagree with the war. Each of us is entitled to hold an opinion on the topic, much the same way that everyone who attends a wake or funeral may mourn or celebrate a life in their own way. I am sure that if there were respectful ethics regarding what should or should not be permitted when in the witness of the dog tag tree that people would for the most part respect it. I know a woman whose son is serving in the special forces in Iraq. She could not even look at the iCasualties page without bursting into tears worrying about the fate of her son.

We are all touched by this war. Even those of us who have not, do not, or could not serve in it. It is an ever-growing low-grade fever undermining our local and national economy. So far, $58 million and one resident dead. Others stationed here also dead. I don't have figures of wounded or emotionally scarred. I know I ran into a recent veteran who was angry at a drugstore on El Camino. The price of a greeting card was outrageous, in his opinion. He paid for it, fuming, then stalked away. His apologetic relative winced that he had just come back from the war even as he stormed off. It was obvious to all that he is already suffering PTSD.

If we cannot even spend $1,400 now as an artistic community work to consider what this war is doing and has done and will do in the long-term to our community, then years later we apparently accept to cough up whatever the true costs of the war will be. Perhaps by avoiding this as a community we can feign surprise, shock and disbelief when the full costs are tallied and when our veterans return in various states of mind, body and spirit.

For my opinion, literally for my own $0.02 as a Mountain View citizen, I'd have preferred if the city had backed the project and showed a little backbone. It would have been good to show some of the fearlessness that is being shown overseas by our military and civilian personnel at risk in Iraq, and as each Iraqi citizen must feel in a war-torn nation. They have to enter a warzone each day. For a month, we can be a sister-city to an Iraqi town of similar size, even if was simply to count our blessings, pay due heed to the survival and well-being of our native sons and daughters, and consider the survival and well-being of the sons and daughters of the nascent democracy of Iraq.

If the city itself will not permit this art display, I respectfully suggest that someone with a decent tree, lawn, and spirit of community offer to host the dog tag tree on their own property.

-Peter Corless.
Mountain View, California

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Getting to the Top

Event Review
Stanford Alumni Career Services - Seminar Series

Getting to the Top

Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Bishop Auditorium

This was my first business networking event of 2006. It had been a while since I attended these sorts of things and in the past, they were often afforded by a generous salary due to Cisco Systems, Inc. But in 2006, I'm my own "CEO." This was a foray back into the world of high-tech, top-dollar schmoozing.

I certainly got my money's worth. First and best of all, I got to see Tom Herbst from Cisco Systems, Inc. He got to show off his daughter's pictures. For me, and for him, it was great to talk about something other than geeky standards. He talked about pearl bracelets and raising his daughter.

I saw another Cisco business card on the table. It was like a Homecoming to see the corporate logo. Without really thinking about it, today I had even donned my own "Cisco IOS Technologies User Centered Design Team" sage green long-sleeved button-down. I have tons of old Cisco corporate heraldry in my wardrobe.

Some people never wear their old corporate heraldry. But this week, I was seen in a Celebrate History red shirt (c. 1998-1999), an Apple System 7 Answerline shirt (c. 1991-1992), and my roommate/houseguest Kate was sporting her own Green Knight Publishing t-shirt (c. 1999-present).

Which, as many people know, is actual corporate heraldry. "On a field vert, a chevron argent." I was always proud of the design. The holly leaves are a rather unique element, which is something like a verdant mantling with berries for miniscule supporters. I've always wondered how to properly describe it in the formal, ritualistic language of heraldry. Certainly met me know how you could describe it.

Anyhow, tonight I was in "business stealth mode." No business cards to hand out, though I was prepared to collect some and to pass out my email address. I was there to listen and learn, though I did ask a few salient questions (one before the audience which got a good laugh) and made impressions nonetheless.

Tom Herbst was the best contact I made, or re-made. I've known Tom for a long while from Cisco. Not the astronomer Tom Herbst, though I'm pretty sure he's cool too. I mean the Tom Herbst, gadfly and grand old man of IETF meetings. It's amazing you can still see the attendee list from a decade ago, eh?

We spoke about Cisco's present state and challenges. Surprisingly (or nit surprisingly), it sounds quite similar to the state and challenges of when I left in 2001. Names are changing though many are the same. The corporate rotations of who is in power and who is out continues unabated. The reorganizations are shades of the false attribution to Petronius Arbiter.

I'll probably call in to say hello to a few Cisco folks in coming days. Today I called and left a message for one of my fellow Advanced Customer Systems (ACS) fellows from years ago today. Just to say hello and thanks.

Getting to the Top. Quite a feeling. I kept thinking "I know what that feels like." I was there in Cisco. At the forefront. On the cutting edge. While at times we groused things could be even better, for a long while I have to say — we had it really good. So for me, tonight was about "getting back to the top."

Rich Mironov & Midcourse Corrections

Rich Mironov was the speaker who invited me. I ran into him near the door on the way in, even before I ran into Tom. He was also re-introduced to another old acquaintance from a life long past at iPass, a charming woman named Minty Sidhu. She told me about the time she had been spending with her family. And how her husband works at Cisco in Internet Business Solutions. She and Rich spoke about the days they had shared. I was not alone in knowing greener pastures in days before. All of us were poking our noses out of our houses to see whether it was safe to go back into business fields that we once loved. Indeed, it seems the time is very ripe. Quite a marked change from the nervous looks of 2000-2004.

Rich wanted to learn the origin of the term "mid-course correction" (also "midcourse"). He was proposing the term was only coined for the space age. I was wondering if it might have been an older nautical term, from the age of steam or sail or before. As far as I can see, it was mentioned in the "M" section of the 1st Edition (1965) of the Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms as "midcourse guidance" and in the Forward as "midcourse correction." Certainly Mid-Course Corrections (MCCs) were conducted multiple times even in a single Apollo missions, such as Apollo 15, which flew in 1971.

Certainly Merriam-Webster's has a definition which does not date the etymology precisely yet infers it is a space-age derivation: "being or relating to the part of a course (as of spacecraft) that is between the initial and final phases."

So apparently Rich is right on that part, as far can be shown. I'm still curious about the origin the etymology of the expression, and would still anticipate there to be a nautical term pre-dating Sputnik. Certainly let me know if you know something about this.

More to Come... The Talk Itself

I've got more notes on the talk itself. However, it's half-past two in the morning. I'll get to the details in a future update. Also, more about the post-talk talking. For now...

Onwards — to slumberland!


Super Bowl XL

Is it any coincidence that Super Bowl XL ("Extra Large" and/or "40" depending your reading of Roman numerals or clothing sizes) was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers?

What a game! I fell alseep not long thereafter, pleased and exhausted after a long week.

I've been a life-long Steeler fan ever since Bradshaw. I also like the NJ Giants, the Green Bay Packers, and the SF 49ers. Any "good old fashioned" football is nice. I'm not a huge fan, and have no big-screen TV. I listened to the game on the radio and watched the play updates on the gridiron on Yahoo Sports.

It was good because I was also getting caught up on schoolwork. It felt "old school" to be listening to the big game on the radio. I called a college friend from CMU half-way through the game just before half-time to celebrate a particularly awesome reversal for the Steelers. They called them the "Stillers" in Pittsburgh with their regional accent. For whatever reason, I keep seeing Jerry and Ben Stiller in uniform now.

Meanwhile, back to work. I'm going to have great dreams this year. Odd ones, probably, of Ben Stiller in a football jersey with that ludicrous moustache like he wore in Anchorman with Will Ferrell. Just a suggestion: no Will Ferrell movies after midnight, okay?

In more positive dreams—well, not even dreams, but actual walking, waking life, like the American dream—there's a few companies out there that are plugging me into their creative and technical projects. If you have an opportunity, let me know about it. I'd love to help.

More news as it happens!


MBA 500 Behind Me, MBA 520 Ahead

Today I'm starting my new MBA 520 class with a whole new group of people. The MBA 500 course has wrapped up. It will be interesting to see the threads of participation as we hop from class to class.

I'm just reading the bios of the new folks, and will post my own biography to them in a bit. I haven't posted it on here yet, but likely shall to share with you all more of who I am and what I have been up to of recent.

For now, I have a good amount of reading to do, and work, and a few events that require me to change my space-time coordinates to attend.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Flowers in the Cracks, A Poem About My Death

At the San Francisco Zen Center, Gretel Ehrlich led an all-day seminar about Making Beauty with Beginner’s Mind. Since much of what I am doing is now beginning again, I wanted to experience the beginner's mind once more. During the seminar we were asked to write a poem about our own death. This poem is not about suicide, but about the death of ego. It is about the death of the limits that I have operated under for a decade or perhaps more. Perhaps these limitations have been there all my life.

Yet recently, I surrendered to the muses and to God. Not in a bitter desparate surrender. Instead, it is a glad surrender. An opening of the gates to allow the triumphant parade of creativity to return to my life. The siege is over. Let love reign!

Here then, is the poem I wrote extemporaneously on that day. The only word altered from that burst of writing was the name "Euterpe," who is herein properly credited as the Muse of lyric poetry. I'm sure the sisters are giggling at my mortal mistaking of one for the other.
Flowers in the Cracks, or
My Death at the Feet of the Muses

Oh Calliope!
Oh Clio!
Oh daughters all of Mnemosyne!
Urania! The stars are where I shall return!
Terpsichore, I loved you so.
Dance with me at Heaven's Gate.
Polyhymnia, sacred Muse, take me to the altar.
Marry me, dear Muses all.
Make me your lover
Your master
Your slave
Your glad servant
Today, I die.
Yet never mourn
For in Eos' smile I am reborn.
There! Euterpe approaches.
And to rhyming couplets she now coaches
Euterpe, lyric gentle woman possess me
As you did Lennon, Dylan, Yeats and Marley
Take me to the river along with Talking Heads
Lay me down to sleep with nine women in nine beds.
Nine parts of desire still fill my heart
And the tenth, your mother Mnemosyne, reminds me of your arts.
Mortal mind fails and I am dead
Here is the line of mortality past which I have lost my head
Ah! Now I am free to admit all I never said.
Free of law and limit to infinitely wed
Not just the nine Muses but every woman, man and beast
Marry God himself and ever iota in the least
And in the stillness of it all find a flower in the crack
Give it to my brides and accepted turn my back
For my love was chaste, and consumed in the thought
Of how swiftly forty one years came and went
During which I swerved and fought
For each quatrain of joy and now it's all been spent
But horse is here and dog and flower and a tree
And these are all one needs in God's eternity
To carry on forever and to hunt and sniff and rest
Perhaps I haven't married because that was for the best
For Malthus would approve and Edward saint confessed
Yet there's so much beauty I should put unto the test
Aphrodite you eluded me when I forgot your name
And in my lapse of mind when I was quite insane
You got married and divorced in a worldly hell inane
With a lame and cruel smith who forged an iron claim
He put the bond upon you, and enslaved me at a desk
Yet now it is time to pause before teacher starts to pesk.

I am dead.
I can stop.
The line above was an actual fold in the crinkling rice paper we wrote upon in graphite pencil. The original title was "Flowers in the Cracks," the overall theme for the project I began this year with Ilona Lieberman.

I also gave the poem a more suitable and specific subtitle. Because I predict many poems this year and possibly many years hence will be related to the project of Flowers in the Cracks.

For now, this is a poem about my death and rebirth. The Green Knight is dead. Long live the Green Knight!