Thursday, August 19, 2010

Live Singers and Auto Tune

Auto Tune. It sounds harmless enough - a pitch correction software meant to correct for minor intonation errors. Its distorted sound has been used by various singers for its effect, from Cher, to T-Pain, to Kanye West, to Rihanna ("Disturbia"). However, with the advent of Auto Tune have come countless singers who rely on it to hit their notes and sound good. Examples?

Train.

Katy Perry.

Kesha. (No dollar sign. NO DOLLAR SIGN. Also, I just realized that the singing part of Tik Tok consists entirely of five notes.)
Upsetting though this trend may be, I think that there are some good points.
1. It allows music to be more accessible to people, so some people who have songwriting or artistic talent but not necessarily musical talent can still use music as a medium.
2. It makes singers who don't use Auto Tune that much more awesome. (e.g. Jason Mraz, Beyoncé, Leona Lewis)
3. Auto Tune the News.

But in the end, I think it's just something that we have to accept. It's like the guitar: those scandalous frets allowed it to be a lot more accessible than other string instruments (like the violin....) to people, which is one main reason why it's such a fixture in music today - music writing and performance was no longer limited to a highly trained elite class. Frustrating to people playing instruments without frets? Maybe. But a bad thing? I don't think so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nooooooo.

Curses! The 3000th hit happened while I was gone! Oh well. :D Thanks everyone for 3000+ hits! So after some more screwing around (GarageBand is funnn), this is the product I got.

I think it's pretty hawt. So what song do you think I should attempt next? Leave a comment! Also, if you want to attempt the sheet music, let me know. Muahahahaha.

EDIT: Darn you, Blogger HTML editing. Darn you to heck. Well I have a working link up now, at least.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alejandro Transcription

I got bored and decided to transcribe Alejandro by Lady Gaga for piano. It took...maybe 4-5 hours? I uploaded a computer-played version of it onto YouTube (my first YouTube video :O...I'm not very good at making videos D:), but it's still processing, so I'll post it when it's done.

I should probably teach myself how to play this now that I've written it, but it looks...daunting. Maybe I'll simplify it. Hm. This happened once before as well with a piece I composed - I ended up being unable to play it and asked someone else to play it for me at a concert. Note to self: think of playability before writing music?

Oh, look at that. It's done processing. Faster than I thought it would be, yay.

Names


There are just some names that have been so completely associated with certain people from either real life or fiction that it's kind of unfortunate for people who have those names. A prime example, in my opinion, is a lot of Disney characters' and video game characters' names.

Examples:
Ursula. I can't think of anything other than a creepy purple octopus-witch. I noticed how firmly this was implanted in my mind when I was reading a story by Ursula LeGuinn...and couldn't stop thinking of...tentacles. D:


Mickey. Though much less creepy than Ursula, I think it can be hard not to think of Mickey Mouse whenever you hear the name Mickey. Speaking of not thinking of things, I just lost The Game.
Mario/Luigi. Oh dear. Our favorite Japanese-Italian-American plumber-warrior-brothers.
Ike. He fights for his friends by setting shit on fire.

Though of course, this is not only limited to Disney and video games. Other examples include:
Gwen (Thanks, Margaret Cho.)
Marlecia (Though this is just an inside joke.)
Adolf
Britney
Hannibal
Barney (Hm. HIMYM kind of changed this for me. Now instead of a purple dinosaur, I think of Neil Patrick Harris?)
Bon Qui Qui

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Orchestras explained!

Orchestras always seem rather stuffy when you see them performing, with those fancy suits, dresses, and all. However, behind the scenes, there's so much more. But how can you tell your violinists from your vibraphonists? Your bassists from your bassoonists? So, here's a rundown of different sections of the orchestra, along with helpful analogies to Azumanga Daioh characters! (Great show, by the way.) This is mostly based on my YPO experience, by the way.

Orange (conductor): Chiyo's father. He runs this joint. Mmmhmmm.

Yellow (violin I): Yukari. The divas of the orchestra. Prone to frequent mood swings. Failure to ever look up at conductor suggests questionable driving ability.
Olive green (violin II): Tomo. Divas-in-training with a bit of an inferiority complex. Will probably become like Yukari-sensei/violin I when they grow up.
Purple (viola): Osaka. Spacey, oblivious, slow on the uptake. Only ones to laugh at conductor's jokes. Funny in anime, not so much in an orchestra.

Green (cello): Sakaki. Seem to know what they're doing and are serious business. Stabby endpins make approach difficult.

Blue (bass): Kaorin. Follow cellos and do whatever they do.

Pink (flute/piccolo): Chiyo. Generally cheerful, but do not underestimate because of diminutive size. They will cut you.
Turquoise (rest of wind section): Nyamo. Seem to know what they're doing and are serious business, like the cellos.

Brown (brass section): Yomi. Well, they have the serious business part down. However, musical prowess sometimes called into question, perhaps unfairly.
Red (percussion): Kimura. They don't seem to have much to do, and are probably watching you from afar. Be afraid.

MITSPO


So as I said yesterday, I went to a MITSPO concert. But what is MITSPO, you say? It's the MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra, and is basically the summer version of MITSO. However, it seems to be more open to the community, and the conductor is different.

MITSO is...mm. Let's just say...the players are decent, but the conductor....yeah. Um. No. Bad repertoire, bad rehearsal time management, and bad attitude makes up for a great way to waste 5 hours a week during weekdays, including during that all-important Thursday night (p-setting D:). The concerts are very gimmicky, so the audience usually likes it, as well? Though my parents listened and were just like.....no. Spoiled by YPO and All-Easterns, lol.

However, my friend said that MITSPO was a lot better, and we got invited by somebody in the orchestra, so we went. They played Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, and Liszt's Faust something. They were...pretty good? However, I felt that the players' limitations were more visible. In MITSO, the orchestra really didn't play to its full potential because of the conductor's limitations, but I think the opposite was true with MITSPO. After all, they only had seven rehearsals. However, that didn't stop the conductor from being very ambitious with the repertoire.

The Tchaikovsky was okay but long, and Liszt's Faust piece was GOD-AWFUL LONG. It was something like 70-80 minutes, with three very repetitive, (IMO) disorganized movements. I don't know...usually I don't mind long pieces, but this piece just seemed to go in circles and seemed to lack...a point. Also, since the pieces were so long, I think they just didn't have enough time to rehearse it all that well. I don't know. I think it would have been better to just pick shorter pieces and play them well rather than play really long pieces not as well. =/

I had really high expectations (too high?) of MITSPO, and I can't say that it met them. However, I think that if they play pieces that they can more realistically think of performing with such a short rehearsal time, they'd be great.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh man.

Well, that was a long day. It involved accidentally waking up at 5:15 (!), getting a haircut, taking my brother on a lab tour, going to the Museum of Science, going to a MITSPO concert, and becoming incredibly tired well before midnight. Bleh, so tired. Two posts tomorrow!

Hickeys

...or rather, violin hickeys. Those sad, red marks on most violin and viola players' necks. Sigh. I used to not get them, but now I do, and they suck. They're itchy and hurt, and plus there's the whole looking-like-a-hickey thing. One of my friends saw it for the first time and asked if I was making out with Dracula. Well, no, though I'm starting to think that my chinrest wants me dead as well.

(I guess I can kind of see the teeth?)

Strangely, these "hickeys" tend to be the worst for me right after I start playing and right after I stop playing. Maybe this is my body's attempt to punish me for stopping practicing? o_O So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I couldn't motivate myself to practice violin for a long time. Well, after that post, I've been trying to practice more...and my body hated me for it. I had apparently not played in so long that my "hickey" disappeared completely, along with my finger calluses. Ouch. But now it's back to normal: hickey on neck, callused fingers, crushed fingernails...:D oh the joys of playing violin.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People I Don't Understand

There are some things people do that I just don't understand. Some are gross, some are inconsiderate, some are just weird. Some people might know why these people do what they do, so here goes. Also, I haven't had a post laden with images in a while, so let's get on that as well.

1. People who don't take revolving doors at MIT. It says clearly to use the revolving doors to save energy. Is it that much trouble to just go through the revolving doors? Is there some social stigma associated with going through revolving doors? A lot of my friends seem to shun revolving doors as well...so let me know.
(Or maybe a fear of this happening?)

2. People who lick their fingers when turning pages. ...ew. Just ew. Maybe I'm just becoming slowly more germophobic because of working in a bio lab, but...how can people stand doing this? It's so disgusting.
(They should hand these out in the reading room rather than deodorant. Bleh.)

3. People who pull various T shenanigans. Like people standing directly in front of and blocking seats without sitting down, non-disabled people walking across a nearly-empty car to sit in the disabled spot, people trying to surreptitiously read your newspaper from across the car, etc. etc. etc.
(This is so awesome...words can't describe this. OMG.)

4. People who want to take rides on disco sticks.


A fun quiz!

Which of these things happened to Kyumin today?
a) spilled bleach on his Red Sox T-shirt
b) cut thumb open with glass slide
c) experiment failed...again.
d) got blamed for something he didn't do
e) all of the above
Hint: It's like a permit test.

As in the answer is always all of the above. Along with the big stuff I mentioned above, I also f) had to wake up early for microscope time and was still late, g) almost left my wallet in the car, h) got the wrong meal from the food cart lady (the person before me took my meal), and i) spent 3+ hours reanalyzing images that somebody analyzed backwards. :D

Wednesday the 11th, you are now my enemy. Screw Friday the 13th.

On the bright side, my cell culture's viability increased from 88.9% to 96.1%? Didn't know it could do that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Always Right



Unaware Of My Space

Drug Store | Waterloo, Canada

(It is a few minutes after closing time and we lock the door. Moments later I hear the sound of breaking glass. I rush over and see a woman on the ground surrounded by glass. She had tried to walk through the door and broke it.)

Me: “Miss, are you alright?! Are you hurt anywhere?”

Customer: “No! No…I think I’m fine.”

Me: “Miss, let me show you somewhere to sit while we wait for security and the ambulance.”

Customer: “No! I don’t have time d*** it! I have to go write this in my blog!” *runs off*

Ahahahahaha. I would so do this. Maybe. This is a (though uncharacteristic) sample of the entries on the website (The Customer Is) Not Always Right. Basically it's a collection of quotes and scenes from people having to deal with customers. And...well...it's kind of disheartening to see how stupid, self-centered, and just damn annoying people can be. Product of a narcissistic Western (mostly American) consumer culture? Maybe. And yet, I can't...stop...reading....x.x I'm on page 38 out of 355. D:

Monday, August 9, 2010

11 Days...

...until I get back on campus. Well, not that I don't spend half of my waking time on campus now, anyway.

To be honest, this summer has been really stressful. It was my first time working for money, my first time in a lab, and my first time commuting, and it was really distressing to see my summer "break" turn into an endless grind. Moreover, it was stressful getting readjusted to life at home and with parents after a year of relative independence. With the free food, fun trips, and family bonding come arguments, pushiness, and lack of free time. Sometimes I feel like maybe because my parents only had my (7-year-old) brother to take care of, they treat me like I'm a lot younger than I am. And I'm young as it is. D:

So to escape from this, I think I turned to the internet. I've started obsessively checking Facebook. I don't really know why. I think it has to do with a hope that someone else is doing something more interesting than I am. I've been Stumbling. I've been reading webcomics. I've been reading the news a lot. I've been chatting with friends. I've been blogging excessively.

But the only times I've really felt at peace and happy were when I visited Next House or had lunch with my friends from there. This might just be because I'm used to those people and that environment, but still. So, I've been looking forward to getting back to Next House for quite some time now. But people living there seem to be saying that it was no rose garden there, either. Does that mean that I'm just romanticizing dorm life, and that it's no better than home life? I don't know. Bah.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Movies/TV Shows/Manga

I am a movie, TV show, and manga nub. I feel like there are a lot of shows and stuff out there that I'd enjoy, but just haven't been exposed to yet. Especially movies...I got scared easily by movies when I was younger, and a little after I grew out of that, my brother was born, so my family never went out to watch movies. So, I haven't watched that many movies, and still don't. I.E. I haven't watched Inception, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, etc. etc. etc. But I don't know. Is it worth it to get into the movie "scene?" Every time I go to the movie theater, I always feel like I'm wasting money because of how expensive tickets are. But even if I "obtain" a copy of a movie some other way (borrowing a DVD, for example), there still remains the issue of time commitment - I can never seem to just block off a couple hours of my time and commit it to watching something. =/

The same goes for TV shows and manga. I know that there are great series out there, but I don't know what's worth the time to get into and what isn't. For example, it took me a while to get current on Big Bang Theory, but then I stopped following it because...well, see earlier post. And Bleach took even longer to get current, and...well, it's going in circles and I don't really see a way out for that series, either.

So I guess what I'm looking for are recommendations. What will actually be worth my time? What won't be? A friend of mine has been trying to get me to read One Piece lately. I probably will, but it's just so damn long. No, that is not what she said.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hampton Beach

I went to Hampton Beach for the first time today! Hampton Beach has been one of those "we probably should go there when we have the time" places for the better part of the last ten years for my family (along with the Lexington Re-enactment, Public Garden swan boats, July 4th Boston Pops concert...lol).

Since it's in New Hampshire, I expected it to be a long drive, but it ended up being only about 45 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. After some wandering, we made our way to near the beach, where there were two parking lots next to each other, one selling for $20 and one selling for $10. Hm. Then we actually got onto the beach, and it was...crowded. I don't think I've been to a beach that crowded before. It's a different experience than usual, but still just as fun. Something about the chaos and commercialization of the place just seemed so...American. Lol.

The water was frigid, but after some getting used to, was a lot of fun. I was expecting there to not be any waves (a lot of beaches here seem to be like that D:) so that was a pleasant surprise. Except I can still feel a kind of rocking sensation...is this normal? I felt something like this after getting on a sailboat for the first time in Maine. Maybe something's wrong with my inner ear. Eh.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I spent way too much money today.

Charlie Card charging: $20.40
Lunch at Café 4: $5.65
Dinner at Island Hopper: $18.00
Joe T's air conditioner: $25.00
Ice cream from JP Licks: $3.99
Having a great time with friends: $73.04..........JK priceless

Except I used Visa debit for most of these purchases. Eh.

But it was well worth it. It was sad, though...three of the people there were leaving MIT for good (well, for now), and one was leaving until spring semester. This really reminded me of how short my time here is. In just a couple of years, all the friends I've made here will scatter around the country and the world, and I very well might not ever see some of them again. :( I guess this is what always must happen, though..

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Permit

I finally have a permit! I probably should have gotten this last year...oh well. So today was my first venture into the infamous RMV. I got there around 15-20 minutes before it opened, but there was still a massive line. Well, calling it a line would be a bit of a stretch. People basically just radiated outwards from the door. There were people inside, but they didn't open the door until exactly 10, naturally. However, the wait was not nearly as bad as I had feared - I think I only waited for around 10 minutes until I took my picture and turned in my application. The lady at the desk was really slow, but at least she had a sense of humor...

So then I walked into the testing room. Apparently, it used to be that you needed to get 14/20 questions right, but now it's 18/25. I took the practice test thinking that it would show what kind of questions would be on the test...wrong. It asked such intelligent questions like "What state are you in?" I then started the test proper...and started getting horribly owned. I got 3 out of the first 5 questions wrong. D: The questions in the beginning were very numerical, and I hadn't bothered to memorize numbers. One example was a question that asked how far away you need to be away from trolley stops. I went by the highest-number rule and said 25, but the answer was 8. -_-x

My current plan is to get my license when I'm over 18 (as in next summer), so I don't have to take driver's ed. My dad is willing to teach me, and he's a pretty good driver, so...yeah. Hopefully this works out. I tried driving tonight, and it was OK....except the windows kept fogging up (dew point = 71º x_X).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of Prop 8 and the Judicial System


As everyone's heard already, I assume, Proposition 8 has been deemed unconstitutional by a judge in California, facing outrage from religious groups. Déjà vu...

The religious groups have repeatedly said that this issue should be left to the 'people' (aka a slim majority) to decide, and disapprove of judges stepping in. They call this "legislating from the bench," and, from a populist point of view, it's a perfect rallying point - power to the people! Why should appointed judges be able to counter what the people say? Isn't that what democracy's all about?

Wait, but then what's the judicial system for? The Constitution designed the American political system to have checks and balances. No one branch of government can have absolute power; the three branches must work together for progress to be made. When I first learned about the three branches of government in detail, it struck me that judges were not democratically elected and that Supreme Court justices were appointed for life. But then, the more that I think about it, the more it makes sense.

One key shortcoming of pure democracy is, in my opinion, the "tyranny of the majority" - one group, if they hold a numerical majority, can pass any laws they please, including discriminatory laws. Even in the American political system, it's essential for Congressmen and presidential candidates to pander to middle America - if not, where would they get votes from? So, the legislative and executive branches can often do little in the way of expanding the rights of minorities, especially minorities that the majority discriminates against. So then, whose responsibility is it to protect the rights of minorities? The judicial branch.

Because justices are appointed for life, politicized though their confirmation hearings may be, they can hold and express politically unpopular opinions, as long as they can justify it through law. This allows them to protect the rights of minorities better than the other two branches can. For example, if Brown v. Board of Education were decided by vote, would it really have passed? What about Loving v. Virginia, which ended bans on interracial marriage? Of course not - the white majority was mainly in favor of segregation and bans on interracial marriage, so the black minority would have continued to be oppressed. These decisions, among others, helped give strength to the Civil Rights movement and cleared the way for other branches of government to pass laws confirming these rights.

For these reasons, I believe that judges' decisions should carry more respect and not be automatically rejected as undemocratic. People seem to think of the judicial system as a rubber-stamping organization that should always listen to and follow the demands of the 'people' (again, the majority). However, judges do not and should not follow the demands of the 'people'. They follow the demands of the law.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coffee



I'm still not sure of whether I like coffee or not. I always have something like coffee ice cream or a Frappucino and tell myself that I love coffee. But then, I have a cup of regular coffee and...well, I'm usually not that big of a fan. I don't really mind the bitterness (I like tea, am starting to like bitter melon, and like some other bitter vegetables), but the coffee often tastes a bit...off. I'm not sure how to describe it, but in almost every cup of coffee I had that wasn't heavily sweetened, the coffee tasted sour and left a rather bad aftertaste. Am I just having coffee at the wrong places? Should I brew my own and see if that makes a difference? Or maybe this is one of those taste things that you have to overcome.

Though having seven consecutive cups of coffee....hm. Maybe just seven sips? But I've had seven consecutive sips before...bleh. I don't know, but I hope that I get to like coffee.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another marjong post

Yes, marjong. Mmhmm. I guess you could say that this is almost like a Welkin post.
(FNM = Friday Night Mahjong. Durrr.)
Yesterday I had one of the most epic games of mahjong. It was a two-round game, and I was in last place (around 27000 points down) entering the last deal. I had a pretty good winning streak going (on that app, a total of 8 1st and 2 2nd?), but I was pretty resigned to my fate. I was East for that deal, so if there's an abortive draw or if I win, the game doesn't end; rather, it goes to a bonus round where extra points are rewarded for winning. I proceeded to have 9 bonus rounds, and ended up around 30000 points ahead. xD I was so proud.

But I think that was canceled out by my fail today. I got completely owned by a computer whose avatar was a cat. The cat got something like 14 bonus rounds and ended up 80000 points ahead. ...Yeah...um, whut. I actually ended up in last place for this one. I think I was in 2nd before the last deal...D:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Peabody Essex Museum

I forgot to mention this before, but happy August!
My mom likes going places and doing things on the weekend. I, being my lazy self, often don't want to, but then have fun once I get there. -_- Well, today's expedition was to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem! We got passes from the library, so it came out to be $10 total for admission, plus $10 for admission to the Chinese house that they have on display, Yin Yu Tang.
First, about the house. Basically, the owner of a house that his family had lived in for eight generations could no longer live in the house, so ended up donating the house to the Peabody Essex Museum (Not the first thing that would come to my mind, but definitely creative). ...It's pretty amazing that they actually managed to get a house from China all the way to here, though. Some highlights:
1. Due to the Communist Revolution and subsequent Cultural Revolution, there are Communist posters everywhere, and all the pictures of ancestors were taken down.
2. There was a mahjong set in one of the bedrooms. Win. (Speaking of mahjong,
3. They still keep fish in the courtyard. I liked the koi?

The rest of the museum had a lot of...old pretty stuff. I'm not sure, but I think the museum's collection is mostly art that Salem's merchant sailors brought back from places like China and India. So, there was a ton of 18th and 19th century East and South Asian art and sculpture. There was a Korean exhibit, too!

The last place we saw was an exhibit for kids on optical illusions and effects. I spent most of my time there staring at a stereogram book. So fun <3

Six Flags


First post of two for today!
So as I said, I went to Six Flags yesterday with my family. It was pretty fun, though I always tend to wonder if it's worth it for my family - my mom doesn't ride anything, my brother's too little for a lot of the rides (though he could ride a lot more than two years ago :D), and I don't like roller coasters. What, you say? Blasphemy! Well...I don't. I'm not exactly sure why, but I always tend to panic on the way up, and don't especially like the sensation of going down...so yeah. I basically stuck to the water park for most of the time.

The park didn't seem that crowded, but a lot of the rides seemed to be either poorly managed or over capacity. The first ride I went on was a really short water coaster, but we waited about an hour and a half in line. Also, we noticed that a lot of the people (who came to ride, not the people who worked there) were really rude and profane...think of the children :O I don't know why I didn't notice this the last time I came. My theory is that it's because Six Flags is near Springfield, which is known as being kind of a rough town. Eh.

However, we still did have a good time, especially my brother. He went on a lot of the kiddie rides (no wait) and won a prize - he played the game where you're supposed to throw darts at a bunch of balloons and pop one and popped one on his first try. Pwn. I meanwhile tried my hand at the game where you use a hammer to hit something as hard as you can....yeah. I failed utterly.

So as a whole, it was a day of fail. But fun fail. :D

Two posts on Sunday.

I just got back from Six Flags....and I'm completely exhausted. Two posts tomorrow! And yes, right now is Saturday, July 31st. The day does not end until I go to sleep. :P