March 10th, 2003


Theremin Envy

Next month, my Masonic Lodge is doing the third degree (a dramatized ritual, from which the term "giving someone the third degree" derives). Dr. Foo (a Lodge brother and an old friend from SCA and other strange hobbies) has declared that he wants to accompany the dramatic bits with music from his Theremin. This is the instrument that makes all those creepy-quavery sounds on old 50's horror movies and suchlike, and has the distinction of being the only musical instrument I know that you play without touching it -- both the volume and pitch controls are proximity-based, so you just sort of wave your hands near them appropriately.

Anyway, Foo brought his Theremin in to rehearsal yesterday, and I am now most covetous. It's not nearly as big as I expected -- the new Theremins are being produced by Moog, and since they're based on modern circuitry they're only a fraction the size of the originals. It has one characteristic I particularly like in an instrument: I can noodle around randomly and make interesting and cool sounds even if I don't know what I'm doing. (I spent quite a while doing this on the hammered dulcimer before actually learning how to play the thing. One reason I've never really progressed on the recorder is that it sounds painful until you basically know what you're doing.) Actually playing it well clearly requires some practice -- it's sort of trombone-like, in that you just have to learn the distances that represent the various pitch intervals. Still, Foo demonstrated that you can play actual tunes on it, as well as making neat sound effects.

Worse yet, he pointed me to the website that sells them. So now I am again beset with gadget lust for a device that I fundamentally do not need and do not have time for. Sigh...

-- Justin
I don't have space for it, I don't have space for it, I don't have space for it...

The Mother of All Headcolds

Eventually, everyone in our cube farm will be down with this -- it seems to have started with one of the people with kids (probably Michael, although I'm not sure), and is gradually spreading amoeba-like across the office day by day. Yesterday, I thought I was just over-tired, but by bedtime I had finally grasped that I was capital-s Sick.

It isn't actually the cold symptoms that are so bad: the sneezing has mostly subsided today, and my good friend Sudafed is keeping my head at least 50% clear for the moment. But the dehydration and exhaustion are just murder: my mouth is always dry no matter how much water I suck down, and I still feel like I only got two hours sleep last night, despite having been in bed for 11 hours.

Ick. I'm going to fight my natural urge to out-stubborn this, and let myself go home as soon as I find myself typing random gibberish into the editor. (As opposed to the well-structured gibberish that constitutes good code.) Lodge gets punted for this month -- fortunately, there's no degree work tonight, so I don't have to feel too guilty. (We're having a Fraternal Visitation by the District Deputy, but that's mostly handshaking and speeches -- there's no actual ritual.)