Sunday, November 30, 2008


We had rain here in Arizona on Wednesday. It was very refreshing. The air smelled wonderful afterwards and we were rewarded with a stunning rainbow at sunset. The main or primary rainbow was a complete arc, which I couldn't get in one photo, and had a secondary rainbow above it and a supernumerary rainbow on the inside. The sky is pink in the photo because of the sunset. Wikipedia gives a good explanation of how rainbows are formed as does Alex Filippenko in The Teaching Company series on Astronomy. It was interesting to me to learn that in the secondary rainbow, the colors go in the opposite direction from the primary rainbow (red to violet as opposed to violet to red), and that the supernumerary rainbow has pastel color bands. This one looks sort of magenta.

New Laptop

Yay! I'm in! I am currently visiting my son in Arizona and have not been able to sign in to Blogspot for several days. I was getting very frustrated because there were so many things I wanted to post. The problem was my old Sony Vaio laptop which I brought with me was dying and couldn't be prodded to continue to perform anymore. I've had it since 2001. The first thing to go was the DVD burner. That happened several years ago. Then I couldn't even read DVDs or CDs which meant that I couldn't install new programs or updates that came on discs. Then the batteries wouldn't hold their charge anymore and Sony no longer makes that model. Generic batteries proved to be worthless. The wireless card wouldn't work after my son and I spent hours trying to get me connected to his network. But worst of all, the old laptop had only 20GB of memory which gets me nowhere now that I have a new camera that takes 8MB photos.

So today, my son helped me pick out a new laptop—another Sony Vaio. It's an early birthday present to myself. Now I can watch DVD movies in bed again, take exercise DVDs with me when I travel, download all the pictures I want (it even has a built-in card reader), and connect to the Internet with ease. So far, Windows Vista has not been too difficult to figure out and it sure is fast, especially when handling those 8MB photos. I'll have to wait until I get home to install some of my favorite programs like Paint Shop Pro, but now I can install the latest version.

I still don't know what the problem was signing in to my blog, but now that I'm in I can post all those great pictures I've taken here in sunny AZ.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop on a couple of things for several months and yesterday, two shoes dropped. The first was my main sewer line backed up just as I was about to start a mountain of laundry. (Got one load done.) This is something I have been dreading would happen for years because I am a tree lover. As it turns out, the big tree in the front is not the culprit, but it could possibly be the birch trees which have been removed. Actually, until they look inside the pipe, "it could be anything," says my plumber who is digging the hole. They have found the pipe, right smack dab under where the birch trees were (who knew?), but now they need to dig further because they found a join and according to code, they have to be sure the join is secure.

It seems like one complication has led to another, as is usual with this type of thing. I am hoping that they don't find any more.

The other shoe was Downey Savings. They finally bit the dust yesterday and were seized by the FDIC. I don't know how they managed to survive as long as they did. I still had one CD with them which is due to mature next Friday. I had my fingers crossed as the news got worse and worse about them. The plan was to close all my remaining accounts and move to another bank when the CD matured (I also have a small checking account and an empty safety deposit box with them). But I may have lucked out as they were taken over by US Bancorp which has a five-star rating with and their shares have a five-star rating with Morningstar. All through this mess, as I looked for safety, I have kept telling myself not to jump from the frying pan into the fire. I nearly blew it last week when I was on the verge of opening an account with Citibank but decided to check the headlines about them first.

We'll find out what happens at Downey when the dust settles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I had intended to write a post about all the music I have been playing the last six weeks, ending with a performance of the entire Daphnis and Chloe ballet by Ravel on Saturday night, but then the fires happened and I spent the weekend worrying about my daughter and her family who live close to one of the fire areas. They are fine; didn't even have to evacuate. But I kept checking the LA Times maps and the wind direction every few hours.

Earlier on Saturday, I played a wedding at the Wayfarer's Chapel where my grandson was christened. The air was filled with smoke and ashes like it was snowing. The smoke suddenly stopped out over the ocean and surprisingly, Catalina Island was perfectly clear. I felt sorry for the bride. I know how much detailed planning goes into creating such an event and you want everything to be perfect. The particulates in the atmosphere did make for a gorgeous, if somewhat eerie, sunset. I didn't have my camera with me, but Grace took some great photos while at the tide pools nearby. My stand partner at the symphony played a wedding that afternoon also, but hers was outdoors. Musicians usually wear black to play so you can imagine what she looked like all dressed in black and covered with white ashes! I forgot to ask her about her violin. I hope she was using a spare and not her good one.


Thanks to Rich Capparela of KUSC, I found this link to a video put up by some of my classical musician colleagues who were on the 91 Fwy last Saturday when the flames started to jump across the road. It gets really hairy about 47 seconds into the video. The music is Shostakovich No. 10, second movement. It's all part of a day's work for us classical musicians here in So. Cal.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Driving for the Arts

Aaarrgh! I'm so tired this morning after a week of driving, driving, driving. I spent two hours this Friday getting to a rehearsal that only lasted for 2.5 hours. Doesn't make any sense, does it? The light traffic we have been enjoying here in the L.A. area due to last summer's high gas prices seems to have vanished.

I have dubbed this the "year of the concert." I decided to take full advantage of living in the big city by going to more concerts and other cultural events than I have in the recent past. And besides going to concerts, I have been very busy playing concerts every weekend. I know I really shouldn't be complaining that I have so much work when financial disaster may strike my favorite arts organizations any time as has already happened with both the Pasadena Symphony and Opera Pacific, but all the driving does get to me. It's so draining because you worry all day about getting to the event on time and you feel like you are spending your life in your car.

Thursday, I went with Kathy and Bart to hear Midori play at Disney Hall with the L.A. Philharmonic. We unexpectedly ran into heavy traffic and just made it in time for the 8:00 performance after having been on the road for an hour and a half. It's usually a 20 minute drive. I would have been SO upset if I had missed her performance!

Last night, trying to get to Burbank by 7:00 pm was another example. My sister, who lives in CT, warned me about protest demonstrations taking place in L.A. concerning the vote on Prop. 8. I hadn't heard about it, but I checked the Sigalert Traffic report several times before setting out at 5:15, and things didn't look too bad. But by the time I got downtown and attempted to transition to the 101 freeway, traffic had come to a complete stop. I learned in this morning's paper that the demonstrations started around 6:00 pm in the Silver Lake district of L.A., just where I would be travelling through. But fortunately my handy dandy GPS receiver saved my life as I just kept on going to Route 5 and got to my venue from the opposite side. Once the man-in-the-machine realized what I was doing and stopped trying to get me to turn around and go back, he efficiently guided me to my destination in his lovely Australian accent.