Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I've decided to post my thoughts this year, and I'll do some catching up on previous years along the way.
Here is this year's dramatis personae:
Susanne Sheston - Chorus Master
Shannon Kessler - Soprano
Erica Brookhyser - Mezzo-Soprano (Soloing the Alto parts)
Tanner Knight - Tenor
Chad Sloan - Baritone (Soloing Baritone and Bass parts)
Again, the annual Abravanel Sing-In is tradition for us, so we're quite familiar with Susanne Sheston by this point. She's usually energetic, and she likes to share a little trivia about Messiah every year before the performance. One year (was it 2006 or 2005?) she was feeling particularly talkative and held forth on the history behind the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. When she finished up the explanation after five minutes or so, the audience had a fun, 'What was that?' moment.
In general, she seems a good Chorus Master, and her rapport with the Utah Symphony Chorus is clear. In truth, it's the professional chorus' job to keep the lay chorus sounding passable, and that's always been done well under Susanne's leadership.
Her results in conducting the symphony are more mixed though. In 2005, she just couldn't keep the strings together at all. For nearly the duration of the concert, they were all over the place. This was improved hugely in the 2006 concert, leading me to believe that the buffoonery was not missed, and they aimed to do right after missing the mark so badly the previous year.
This year the strings again had some discord in a couple of places, but overall they held together well. If 2005 rated at a 3/10 and 2006 a 9/10, then they turned in a mid eight this year. Quite passable, but still room for improvement.
My one real complaint with Susanne as a conductor is that every year, she allows the symphony to blow through the transition between the solo and choral portions of "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion." It's undoubtedly technically correct for her to do so, as the transition is written as quick and smooth. But Handel didn't know about Sing-Ins, and a lay chorus is unlikely to stand and sing without being directed to do so because of social pressure. This bungled transition is awkward and embarrassing for the audience members, but Susanne doesn't notice, because she's too busy directing the symphony and professional chorus, with her back turned to the audience.
I know that the idea must feel unnatural to her, but I hope that Susanne will resolve to pause the symphony, raise the audience, and then start the choral portion, as doing so will dispense with the most flustering moment of the performance for the people who paid for tickets.
Let's move on to soloists.
I'll not beat around the bush here. By far, the standout performance was commandingly delivered by Chad Sloan. He started strong, appropriately booming the introductory line of "Thus saith the Lord," and he continued to deliver rich, powerful reports for the rest of the performance. Chad ably, and, by the look of it, easily stole the show from his fellow performers.
Of special note was his performance of "The trumpet shall sound," in which his accompanying trumpeter was also well into a high-performance groove (with little-to-no warm up at that point). Both Chad and the trumpeter (I wish his name was listed in the program) ornamented sparingly but in brilliant fashion. Saturday night's performance of "The trumpet shall sound" was easily the best I've ever heard in person. The one small flaw in that piece was that in the second-to-last melisma (...this mortal must put on immortality), Chad finished his run a little more than a beat early, leaving the symphony to catch up. Notwithstanding that, it was superbly performed, and I'm glad that I was there to hear it.
I'm usually most critical of the Mezzo-Soprano and Alto parts of Messiah, as they put the singer in a range that gives her voice an unfortunate tone to my hearing. Anyone who's heard the 1996 Messiah album conducted by Sir David Willcocks and performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will know this kind of Alto; strained, airy, and unfortunately, often sounding much like a lazy hen. (I'm aware that in the above-mentioned case, the offender was actually Paul Esswood, a man, and a counter-tenor, but the result is too-often effectively the same.)
The standard slaughter of the Alto arias (and recitatives, but I'm lumping them together here) is why I was surprised by Erica Brookhyser, the Mezzo-Soprano, who gave the remainder of the remarkable solo performances of the evening. Erica's voice has a rich, warm quality that suits emotional pieces, like "He was despised," uncommonly well.
Sometimes, with the Messiah performance effectively kicking off the holiday season, the soloists forget the somber nature of parts of Messiah. The two stand-alone Alto parts included in the Sing-In are prophetic (Behold, a virgin shall conceive) and mournful (He was despised). In each case, Erica took the stage with proper decorum and delivered deep, soulful performances.
Indeed, the second (in order of prominence) standout piece of the evening was her "He was despised." Erica brought it to an emotional climax that had me riveted.
Sadly, the other female soloist, Soprano Shannon Kessler, didn't fare nearly so well.
Shannon gave "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion" a thorough butchering. This piece is full of melismas, during which she frequently missed notes or simply dropped the middle or end portions. She liberally ornamented--poorly, and far over-emphasized the "shout" portions of the piece, blowing them out and frequently sharping her triplet end notes in the process.
The soprano portions of Messiah are in my opinion, some of the more beautiful soprano parts around, especially from "There were shepherds abiding" through to "Glory to God." These were treated in a casual, blasé manner which did not do them justice.
Tanner Knight, the Tenor for the evening, seemed skilled enough for his class, but ultimately green. He also blew melismas, though not as badly or as frequently as Shannon did.
Tanner's main issue was consistency. For instance, he couldn't decide if "pardon'd" had two syllables or three, and it made his delivery feel off-kilter. His issues made him seem inexperienced rather than unskilled. I've no doubt that consistency will come to him with more performances under his belt.
It seemed that Tanner and Shannon were both given 'Come to Jesus' talks during intermission, as they each toned down their foibles for the second half. (I prefer this idea over the possibility that it took them each half the performance just to warm up.)
Keep in mind that in order to criticize well, one must be critical. Overall, the performance was very good, with some superb talent brought to bear by two of the soloists, which helped offset the talent that was perhaps uncharacteristically absent in the other two. The Utah Symphony Chorus backed the audience during the choral portions admirably. The symphony was in tune and on tempo in all except two short cases, and the First Trumpet made a simply extraordinary showing in the latter half.
It was a good year. I'm sorry it's over, and that I'll have to wait another year to go again.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
If you have the Beauty and the Beast Special Edition DVD, then you can use the above query to find all of the needed answers to get through the interactive game on the disc and appease your kids.
Thank you, Google.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
One of the reasons I find the site so useful is that the other "nesties" are more than willing to share their experiences with products and retailers. You don't want to piss off a nestie. She will tell all the other nesties and then you'll have a nation-wide boycott on your hands.
Target may not know it yet, but it's getting a LOT of bad press from the nesties due to their very unwise decision to change it's Baby and Wedding Registry return policies. As of August 8th, 2007, Target will NOT accept returns without a receipt or gift receipt, even if it was checked off on the registry list. Not even for in-store credit.
Target, that was a bad idea.
Friday, August 24, 2007
In our teenage eagerness to act the part, we thought that being in love meant kissing a lot and touching each other in dark theaters, so that's what we did.
Her name was Jenny, and my yearning, angsty teenage heart thought that we just might last forever.
We were no more brainy than any other teenagers, so she and I and the friends we hung out with would walk to a local school around midnight and goof around in the schoolyard. More than once, our running around and giggling woke up locals who threatened to call the cops, and we had to split quickly.
One night on the way out or on the way back, a ring slipped off of Jenny's hand and into the grass of a yard next to the sidewalk we were following. Jenny was distraught and insisted that everyone search for the ring in the grass.
The ring was given to her by another guy, and I didn’t give a damn whether she found it or not. On the other hand, I didn't want to look like a jerk. I looked for the ring with everyone else, not knowing what I'd do if I did find it. I still don't know what I would have done.
Jenny didn't find her ring, and it dampened the evening. About halfway through the summer she or I (ok, it was her) lost interest and the relationship came to an end.
I was young though, "Wayne's World" was a new movie, and I had no idea that "Bohemian Rhapsody" was an old song getting in a good second run. Life went on.
I saw Jenny not long ago, working at a local restaurant, and the memories came flooding back. Now that I don't have to be a lovelorn teenager anymore, I can remember her and the ring that I didn't want found--but still looked for earnestly--with a fond smile.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Of course, being on vacation and behind on my business and technical reading, I didn't know yet that Federal Judge Kimball's declaration that SCO owes basically the whole company and more to Novell had sent SCO's stock into a death spiral, and that the bell has begun to toll for them. (Image courtesy of Ars Technica.)
But then we got home yesterday, and today I got to catching up on my reading, and my, is that birds chirping in blue skies? I suppose Lindon will never quite be the same again, and I think that's a good thing.
My take on the tangled and twisted wreckage is over at EMB. Have a look, won't you?
Monday, July 02, 2007
99004789479281302932413103393616489. (That's 2435 digits.)
Happy Birthday, Jake.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
I've been a customer at this business for some months now, and about a month and a half ago I turned in my resume. It took some time for a spot to open up with adequate hours for me to consider taking the job, but late week before last (If I'm not mistaken it was Saturday the 26th) Doug told me he had a position opening up that had plenty of hours per week, and asked if I was interested; I said yes. So on Tuesday, I strolled in and Doug started talking seriously with me about what the job would entail and we drew up a tentative schedule and we ended our meeting with him saying that he needed to talk with the store owner before I was officially hired and that he would call me first thing the next morning. Wednesday morning came and went and my phone didn't ring, so later that day I went in and said "Hey, Doug, what happened to 'I'll call you in the morning'?"
To which he responded, "I got busy. Business is business. I still need to talk to the owner. What are you up to tonight?"
"Well, I was just gonna head home and play some video games with my brother in law"
"Okay, well don't go too far. Go home and play your games, I'll call you tonight after I talk with the owner."
With that I did exactly what I said I would, keeping my phone close expecting a call. Midnight came and with no activity from my phone, I went to bed at my usual time. Morning came and I saw that I had not missed any calls. This concerned me, so I made my way out to talk to Doug. when I got there I said to him, calmly, albeit in a tone that might be construed as accusatory (though that wasn't my intention), "Hey, this is twice you told me you'd call within a certain time frame, and twice you've failed to do so."
With that, Doug took me aside and said "Listen, I'm the boss here and you don't come in and yell at me. Business is business and sometimes we get busy and sometimes things don't get done. Anyway, my not calling you was sort of a test and you just failed. If this is the way you're gonna act, I don't want you working for me."
There is one more thing I should point out before I start ranting about how I feel, and that is that when I told him that he'd failed to call twice, there was a customer in the vicinity, and though I don't know if he was paying attention, it might have been better if I hadn't said anything in front of him, though I think the outcome would have been the same.
Now I get to express how I feel about this whole thing. I think the fact that Doug didn't want me to stand up to him is the sign of a douchebag manager. A doormat is something I certainly am not, and I would have reacted in the same manner toward anyone who treated me the way he did, I don't care if it's an authority figure, a peer or a subordinate (Something I find myself lacking at the moment ;).
It's a simple matter of courtesy to follow up when you tell someone that you'll do something. When you do follow up, you show people that that's what you expect from them. After all, why should I give you any reason to trust me if I can't trust you?
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Eric: Okay, but I'll have to start saving up. Cruise missles are a little pricey these days.
Me: I want a complete set of Fibonaccis...all the way to the end. I've had an incomplete set for ages now. But now I want them all.
I already have 1, 2, 3, 5, and on for 1,000 or so.
8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ...
89, 144, 233, 377, 610...
Eric: Wow, I can't even give you the hope of a full set of them. Machine precision starts to fail us pretty quickly.
Me: But now I want the rest.
Don't let me down here, Eric.
(I'm getting the sense that petulance doesn't become me.)
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Well it seems that I have gotten myself into real trouble this time. For those who don't know I am engaged. Her name is Jennifer. The wedding will be on Friday July 13th. We have been engaged for almost three weeks now, and I hope you will all forgive me for being so distracted that I have not posted the news. Unfortunately we have not done any serious planning yet so I don't have pictures to post or any more details. You are welcome to ask questions and I'll answer what I can.
Last night this lovely young lady had me take her to a restaurant she had only heard about. It was very good. I enjoy food that is a little different so I am willing to try just about anything. We started out with the spring roll appetizer witch had noodles inside and a sweet and spicy sauce to dip them in. The noodles gave the rolls a great texture and the flavor was mild. When you order you meal here they have some dishes that are “spicy” and they let you chose how spicy you want them on a scale of 1-5, 1 being “mild” and 5 being cooked on the forges of hell. I had a dish called beef sukiyaki, having never had sukiyaki before I had no idea what to expect. Its thin slices of beef with cabbage mushrooms onions and other veggies all cooked in a sauce and served with glass noodles. I also have a sensitive palette so I ordered it as a 1. (Ok I’m a pansy.)The shock and surprise of an excellent dish is the reason I am so willing to try new things. My apologies to China Hill and The Little Orient, your food is good but these guys really made you look bad. You’re lucky they are so far away. Jennifer went for the green curry with chicken. It has coconut milk onion and lots of spices I can’t identify. She ordered it as a 3, the chicken was ok but the sauce almost made me lose the ability to taste the rest of the food. Oh, they give you a big bowl of white rice too. If you have stuffy sinuses from allergies or whatever this stuff will clear you out. So bring a hanky. Here is the address and maybe some pictures if I can upload them. I also found some more reviews online here, and here. No the images are not from the restaurant I linked them to the sites they are from. (I need to get a digital camera.)
American Fork, 84003 - 2228
Ok I realize I wrote more about the food than the girl. I just want you go for the food and leave the girl to me.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Once upon a time, I'd have posted it at PhischX, but for now EMB is best for me. Check it out if you're so inclined!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Thursday, March 01, 2007
First where can you post comments I tried to find the post link. Since I have no way of posting a comment I will put it on fish net.
I like the idea of the book review and I think you and others can get a lot out of it. But one thing bothers me. You highlighted these quotes and even retyped them for the net. But you did not tell us what they mean to you. Why are they revealing to you as an entrepreneur and how do you see them being applied. Bring your readers to your personal level so it will help us connect with you, and help us understand your thoughts. Let us know where you have seen these things happen.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Some of you have noticed that the blog I brought to your attention is dead. It was dead, for about a week, but now it's alive and well at a different URL. Please stop in if business, entrepreneurship, or Utah commerce in general are in any way your cup of herbal tea. (Me, I like a good, strong mint.)
The most recent post over there is about the new book review program I'm launching for the site. It'll be fun to read books with my readers, and get different viewpoints on them, and of course any and all here are invited.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
It has come to my attention recently that Grisoft has stopped support to AVG 7.1. I have also been told that they no longer support the free version and that you have to pay to upgrade to AVG 7.5. This is FALSE! Ok they stopped support for AVG7.1 but Grisoft still has a free version and it is AVG 7.5 here is the link. I am happy to help those who can’t afford to pay for a virus scanner and so is AVG. Making a free addition in my mind is good business. This keeps the home computers free of viruses. This in turn helps keep the corporate computers and those who pay for licenses free of viruses. So if anyone from AVG happens to read this thank you.
From a small user.
May you always be profitable.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Geico's Gecko--The lovable little critter appeared to start as a catchy ad gimmick before going on to become the symbol of the company. Now, he's doing lame interviews with an accent (Australian? I'm lousy about accents).
Geico's Nerdy Office Worker--In one of the first gecko era commercials that didn't feature the gecko directly, they interviewed several people in an office about what they thought of their computer generated spokesmodel. One interviewee was a nerdy fellow who later appeared in several commercials including some where he went around the country interviewing customers, sometimes in a hot tub.
Geico's Cavemen--I've never really got these. They're sometimes kind of funny, but they've often strayed from their origins. Lately though they've gotten back to referring more to Geico in each one. (I think it's funny that Geico has three examples that I've been able to easily think of, and Wikipedia mentions some other ones that I didn't remember at first and I won't go into here).
Dodge Showroom (Marty)--There have been a series of radio commercials in our local market where one Dodge dealer calls up another one and mocks him. It started with the one dealer asking the other how the sale was going on and the other would have some lame attempt to copy the success of the caller (kind of like a not-so-good-natured version of the recent Macintosh commercials with the PC), but now this guy is just calling up the other dealer and verbally abusing him. It's not funny anymore (not that it ever was), and now it's just painful to listen to. Not as painful as the supermarket jingles, but painful all the same.
That's all I have for now. I guess that except for the Dodge one, none are really that awful, but come on. I think we've seen enough of these for now. Speaking of Dodge, maybe I'll get around to explaining why I hate them so much (in my defense, they hated me first).
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
For some reason, I was put in the middle seat of my row for both of my longer flights on the trip. On our flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake City, I sat behind a bald man who, as soon as the wheels left the ground, plopped his seat back as far as it could go. My passive-aggressive efforts to persuade him to sit up were fruitless and I ended up spending three hours wedged behind a seat in what remained of my personal space that had been too small to begin with.
When I got home, I found two instances of creative works that captured my experience. One was a strip from my new Dilbert Desk Calendar (which is very poorly designed this year, but that’s another story) with Dilbert sitting on a plane behind some big lout who leaned his chair all the way back into his lap. The other was a brief article in the Reader’s Digest about a woman who was stuck behind someone who had invaded her space by leaning back. I was really empathizing with her through her article as she told about her efforts to entertain herself (we had both read the SkyMall magazine, for example). Then, at the end of the article, she said that she “waved her warm towel in surrender.”
What the belgium? I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who’s spacious first class living space was invaded by the slight recline of a seat back that was too far away for her to even reach. When the seat back is so close that you cannot bend down and reach your shins, then you can complain you spoiled, arrogant little columnist.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Before I get to the meat of this, I really want to say that this is a great blog with great posts and terrific contributors.
I love this place. I'm not leaving, and I hope that our other contributors will come back to life and begin posting again. Eric, Jeff, Leon, Krys, Julianne...I'm looking at you.
Now, the uncomfortable part. I've begun a new venture, and it requires that I write well on a regular basis. My official goal is to post damned near every day, and that is hard. So hard that I'll probably not be posting here much. Much, you hear? I'm not deserting, I'm still here, and I still want to keep Phischkn....uh, FishNet Tech Forum alive.
In that spirit, I'm calling again on our contributors--none of whom have yet posted this year--to step up to the plate and reactivate. Please tell us what you're up to. Tell us what you're doing for work these days. Gripe about frustrations. Give us restaurant recommendations. Review the books you've read. Plan some LAN parties.
What am I doing? I've started a new website called EntrepreneursMeanBusiness.com. It actually has several other URLs that are shorter and easier to spell, but EMB was the original concept and that's what we're flying with. The website is devoted to people who want to have their own businesses and improve the businesses that they're already running. It's still very young, and very beta.
When Phischkneght Forum was new, I practically twisted the arms of everyone I knew to get them to read the blog. I won't be doing that any more. The business I'm in requires that I be interesting to people that I don't know in order to produce revenue. If you'd like to check in, I invite you to do so at EMB (no longer at FishNetTech! The link embedded here is fixed!).
Finally and one last time, this is not a farewell post. I'm still here, and I'll be kicking the butts of those who do not find time or motivation to be here as well.
Monday, January 01, 2007
What skills, aside from typing, will I learn that will be of use to me in an office position?
The following are my tips for working, really anywhere. They apply to front-line peons and top-floor executives alike. Someone following this pattern should be able to manage to stay ethical, make friends, and advance within an organization.
- Know how to read a P&L sheet.
- Know what a P&L sheet is.
- Know how to read financial statements (see #2).
- Be able to think on your feet in a phone conversation.
- Be able to talk about nothing at all while you do the real work in the background.
- Learn that all internal systems are more functional than the tasks that they train you for, and make it your goal to learn the true power of each system.
- Make friends with your co-workers and be humble (especially at first) so that when (not if) you screw up, they'll want to help you.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS admit that you screwed up RIGHT AWAY. It makes fixing it and staying out of trouble SO much easier.
- Make nice with the boss. He/She has your nuts.
- Eat lunch with your co-workers. And don't be a pretentious prick.
- Always listen to gossip, never create it, never pass it on. Don't be stuck-up about it, just listen when it comes up, and politely refuse to discuss it.
- Make friends with Google. And I mean really good friends. Knowing how to craft search queries that get results is the same as being really smart.
- When you hear a co-worker wonder something out loud, find it out and report. When you hear a boss do the same, repeat. The more you are willing to learn on behalf of others, the more valuable you become.
- Always be willing, always be honest. This is what a yes-man isn't. A yes-man sugar coats the facts in order to tell the boss what she wants to hear. A real worker tells the boss why something is a bad idea, and then expresses willingness to start the idea in motion if it's what the boss orders. Honest willingness is treasured by smart bosses.
- Train yourself to focus and give quality results under pressure. One might say that the only time your work really matters is when you're under pressure. If you can give top-notch results when it really matters, you're valuable.
- Look for traits you admire in your co-workers and (a. Tell them about it, and (b. Emulate that trait.
- Find ways to be friendly to everyone you meet at the office, including higher-ups. Don't go out of your way to bump into a muckety-muck, because you will anyway. If you're in the habit of helping when possible, you'll help a muckety-muck automatically, and the fact that your help was genuine, and you would have done it for anyone, will stand out in the boss's mind.
- Know who your friends are, and proactively watch their backs. This will encourage them to do the same for you.
- There is no invisible line between employee-type and boss-type. Bosses become bosses by playing the game well, and everyone is playing roughly the same game.
- Understanding and remembering constantly that every action you make at work effects your future at work makes all the difference.
- When things are slow, experiment with internal programs or systems. Try things that are not part of the normal workflow. Sure, they've taught you the most efficient ways they know to do your job, but who knows? You could find a better way.
- Find small ways to be different in your workplace. Try not to be annoying in this. Approachability is the goal here.
- Excellence is a great way to be different, but it can have the opposite effect. Best to be excellent and find additional ways to be different.
- Don't gloat about excellence, and never rest on laurels. Just focus on getting better.
- Try to understand jobs and responsibilities that are way beyond your own. Ask questions. Understand how the business works as a whole. Innovation comes through big-picture understanding.
- You always make the best economical sense to your employer when you are as useful as you can possibly be. If you find a problem, offer to help fix it. If you aren't extremely busy, ask the boss if there's some extra way you can help. If there are other duties that you can ask to learn, ask and learn them. Find ways to make yourself more and more useful. People who know the org most completely often get promoted because they understand the company from the top down.
- Don't forget to keep working on your fundamental skills. Learn key commands in the programs you use. Learn to type faster. Learn to 10-key faster. Become a better writer. Anything you can to augment your basic skills will help both in your professional life and in your personal life.