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State of the Union, December 2016

04 December 2016 16:09 EST under
Life, Music

Uh, hey. It's been, what, like six months? Seven? I'd way we're marginally overdue for a little State of the Union address. If you want the short version...the good: I'm alive and well, I have my piano back, and I'm definitely returning to streaming at some point; the bad: the piano took forever to come back, work sucks right now, and it's been keeping me from doing the things I want to do pretty hard for a few months now. If you want the long version, read on.

Impending United States political disasters aside, 2016 has been a pretty okay year, all things considered. I went to Edinburgh, Scotland in March and Prague, Czech Republic in September -- one of the perks of dating a PhD candidate who sometimes gets to give talks at foreign conferences. Both trips were fantastic (even though Czech is an impossible nightmare of a language). I'd move to Scotland in a heartbeat, honestly. I loved everything about Edinburgh, including the haggis pastry I got from a little stand in the Grassmarket.

Prague is wonderfully cheap. Even at a tourist-trappy restaurant in the swank, cosmopolitan part of town, we had an appetizer, drinks, entrees, boozy coffees, and desserts for forty-something USD. Not bad. The whole "beer is cheaper than water" thing you hear about Prague is 100% accurate: a half-liter of beer was usually $1.50 to $2.00; an equivalent amount of water, $3.00+. Crazy. We did a lot of museum-hopping there, including a trip to the very quaint Antonín Dvořák Museum. Also, I may now have a slight addiction to authentic Czech goulash with bread dumplings.

Can you tell food is a priority for us when traveling?

Me and Kate at the top of the Clementinum Astronomical Tower in Prague.
Please note the swank-ass Euro-haircut I got while there.

Let's talk about work next. I'm still doing software development at the same small company I've been with for nearly three years now. It's not a bad job, but the past few months haven't been stellar. I offered to work more hours to help meet some fairly aggressive deadlines for new versions/features, and that's basically spiraled into me working double the hours I'd like to be. This will likely continue through the rest of December, unfortunately. The obvious downside of this is that it harshly limits my time at the piano, to the extent that I've opted not to stream again until I'm sure I've reliably returned to a lighter work schedule. When I come back, I want to be able to stream very regularly. That said, there is an upside, and that's that my job actually pays quite handsomely, so all the extra hours have been great for negating the costs of piano repairs and international travel. And maybe putting a new SSD into my computer.

...and maybe acquiring a few cool skins in Heroes of the Storm.

...and maybe a little last-minute trip to Blizzcon in early November.

Anyway, I've set myself a hard-cutoff of New Year's Day regarding working this much. Putting in as many extra hours as I have isn't in any part of my employment agreement; paid or not, it's largely been generosity on my side, and the knowledge that I've completely lost focus of everything between the piano being gone for a long time and work ramping up so much doesn't feel good at all. It's just hard to do mentally taxing work anywhere between eight and eleven hours and then find time to immediately do more mentally taxing work.

Finally, let's talk about the piano. It's back. This is good. The work took closer to six months than the anticipated two. This is bad. I question how much of an improvement a full action rebuild made. This isn't good or bad, really; it's just my own naivete. My technician's a great guy and has been in the business for fifty years, so I don't question the quality of his work: I think I just had unreasonable expectations for a forty-year-old piano. It feels great: very smooth, and I feel like I have a lot more control now. So that's fantastic.

The sound's a work in progress, because a lone guy can't do the rigorous play-testing that, say, a piano factory can simply automate. It'll be a year-long process (at least) for the action to become fully broken-in. Fortunately, my tech made it very clear to me that our relationship didn't end the day the piano returned to the apartment. He's already come out twice to fix some damper issues, and probably in February I'll have him tune it and do some re-voicing and re-regulating. Despite my initial disappointment, I remain pretty optimistic. I just need to be patient for awhile.

2017 will be good because of the return to streaming if nothing else. I know any little followership I'd managed to accumulate is long-gone now, but that's okay. I know a couple of you will come back, and I'm willing to put in the work to build things back up. See you soon, folks.

If you follow me on Twitter or pop in to check out the blog every now and then, just in case I show minimal signs of life, feel free to Tweet me or send me an email or whatever! A couple of you keep in occasional touch, and it's always nice to hear from you.