The Adam Weblog - 2023<br>

     Welcome to my attempt to keep a weblog, a running sort-of diary on my own web page. There is a tendency to put lots of details of our lives on social media like Facebook or Twitter. I feel there are details of my life of some interet to my community of followers that aren't up to the level of posting on Facebook. So here it is.

     My idea is to have one of these for each year now and going forward, but there were a couple of fun items from 2022 November and 2022 December that I feel belong here.

     Link to the most-recent entry at the bottom.

     Anyhow, let's see how it goes.


2022 November 15 - The Vienna Boys Choir

     I take great pleasure in listening to music in my life. Being most human myself I take pleasure in the sound of a human voice or, even more wonderful, an entire chorus of human voices. (That I'm not a big opera fan I attribute to my already-full concert schedule and my even-greater appreciation of ballet. I recently went to a product of "Carmen" that was to die for, the music was terrific, the singing was terrific, and it was physically passionate to the point of pornography, as the story is supposed to be.)

     My most-recent choral performance was the Vienna Boys Choir at the Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts on 2022 November 15. Twenty-one pre-pubescent male voices blended magnificently into a heavenly, harmonious whole for both classical and more-popular selections. The quality of his performance suggests he spends a lot of his non-performing time practicing his piano playing. If you're ever in Vienna, then they're worth a listen.

     As my natural hearing is no longer what it was, my latest-technology Oticon hearing aids are a joy to me. They allow me to resolve audible differences in music and hifi. As an audiophile weenie they enable me to make sound comparisons, for example between amplifiers and the line-cords to the mains power. I have no trouble aligning a (vinyl) phonograph cartridge by ear. Up until this concert the default Music setting on these hearing aids has been uniformly delightful in the concert hall and this is the first time I had trouble. There was an overloading, distorting effect in my hearing aids that was mitigated by turning their volume down. Once I lowered the sound level of the hearing aids they were fine, but it was amusing to hear something with so much higher frequency content of so much complexity that they were overwhelmed.

     But one thing caught my attention. Here was a group of twenty-one boys, many of whom looked like teenagers, maybe fourteen or fifteen years old. All had pristine high voices, presumably the same pristine high voices for the entire ten-week tour. I don't know a lot of ways to keep twenty-one boys' voices from changing through puberty, in fact I can only think of one. Back in the not-so-good old days choral works had the beauty of a castrato section. I'm told they don't do that anymore, I hope not to these boys. Maybe there's another way to preserve the beauty of these twenty-one voices as I heard them.


2022 December - post office box keys

     My house was built circa 1975 and I figure our mailboxes are from the same era. Like our houses it appears these mailboxes were not built to endure. In particular, the keys to the three large boxes don't work very well. It takes several minutes of frustrating wiggling to get the big box open so I can get the treasure inside, often a vinyl phonograph record.

     So here I open my mailbox and there's a key. The letter A, B, or C is long worn off, so I try the key in all three boxes with some vigorous wiggling and more-vigorous complaining. None of these open very well, so no treasure for me. At least it's not summer where I don't want my new vinyl record melting in the afternoon Scottsdale heat, often 45°C (115°F).

     So I decide to take the key to the post office. If I'm going to complain, then at least somebody appropriate should listen to me. Holiday season means I had to wait for a parking space and then in a long line with the key dangling from my fingers as I was fuming.

     Finally the quick-service fellow for faster things like stamp purchases sees me without a package and invites me over. I show him the bare key without any indication of which box it's for and describe my frustration. When I ask for another key to the same big box he tells me he doesn't have those keys. "Well who does have them?" I ask and I'm told they're in some compartment with the mailboxes themselves but tomorrow's delivery will resolve my problem. I have a picture of the carrier (who already doesn't like me very much 'cuz I grumbled when he bent one of my records stuffing it into the small box) grudgingly marching my package to my doorstep where he might hope I would be the victim of porch pirates. (I'll point out that my cul-de-sac has never been the victm of that sort of theft, to my knowledge). Instead my mailbox was the short-term home of another key, also worn beyond recognition, but this key actually worked in one of the boxes and I got my package.

     So they managed to solve my immediate problem without doing anything to reduce the likelihood of such a problem recurring. Even the infamous post office is usually better than that.


2023 January 3 - Old and New

     I love my old stuff, especially my hifi. My recently-departed friend Mel Schilling sold me his old loudspeakers in 1985 and I figure he listened to them for twenty years before that. My turntable was new in 1979, I manufactured the tonearm in 1980, and the cartridge is from 1969. The electronics are early-to-mid 1980s vintage. My records and tapes are joy to me.

     I also keep an old 22-inch K&E slide rule, way above my pay grade when we were still using slide rules, more for sentiment than practicality. I have my grandmother's dishes in one trophy case next to her trinkets and my great-grandmother's dishes in another trophy case. I have my father's office calendar and my mother's napkin holder. I love my old stuff.

     Unlike one of my older friends Bill I'm not a luddite. I love the new technology alongside the old. I have high-speed Internet and local network so I can watch movies and television shows and I use that network to play the FLAC files (Free Lossless Audio Codec) "ripped" from my compact disks (CDs). There are laptop computers in every room of my house (except bathrooms), I work from home using Internet terminal sessions and Microsoft Teams to communicate, and I rely on my home network to manage photographs when I travel.

     I have lots of gadgets. All of my bathrooms have motion-detector toilet lights so I don't have to turn on the light at night and motion-detector fans for air circulation. Amazon Alexa controls my thermostats so I can turn on more heat or air conditioning downstairs while I'm getting out of bed upstairs.


2023 January 8 - Platitudes about Attitude

     We're inundated with annoying exhortations to be upbeat and happy, you know the bit about positive outlook bringing positive results. It's kind of like the karma bullshit, that doing good here and now makes something good more likely to happen somewhere else later. The thing is I find myself believing in it and I find it works for me. I like living in a world where people feel they ought to do good works, but there are reasons why it should be that, "what goes around comes around," and more good things happen to happier people.

     It was -30°C (-20°F) and windy at night, I was driving home and tired, and there were two women on the side of the road alone with a flat tire. So I pulled over and changed their tire with a steady patter explaining what I was doing so maybe next time they would have a fighting chance. Maybe I got home twenty minutes later, but these two might not have gotten home at all, so it's a win all around. Maybe something good happened to me later by karma, but I know I felt better that night. I remember a friend whose car wouldn't start New Year's Eve in a parking lot at Kennedy Airport and he recalled how cheerful and upbeat the fellow was when he came to start my friend's car. Was he happy to be working in the cold on New Year's Eve? Probably not, but apparently he felt he could spread some holiday cheer in a situation not generally cheerful.

     After a few hours of flight delays I finally got to my car at The Parking Spot in Phoenix and the van driver Roger commented that he liked my new car. I had to ask, he sees thousands upon thousands of cars, why would he remember mine? He said he remembers me because I'm so upbeat. Late and tired I wasn't feeling all that upbeat, so I asked him about it. He said, "Your flight was delayed, there are no flights at one-thirty in the morning, and you're still cheerful." I said that six hours from Philly may have turned into nine hours, but it still beats walking. "Well, some people don't have that attitude."

     I was at Hearing Life in Scottsdale, my $8000 Oticon hearing aids were "on the fritz" and I was grateful they could squeeze me in to fix them. Another customer was giving them the third degree howcum I spent $6000 on hearing aids and they don't work. I looked at the beleaguered and besieged clerk and said I'm able to hear what people are saying and to appreciate the beauty of music at a high level 364 days a year, one day I don't get that benefit, and that sounds like a win to me. She said some people don't see it that way.

     There is some rational reason to believe in the platitudes about positive attitude. First, being nice to people makes them happier and more likely to be nice in return. Second, our world is small enough that being overtly helpful may be remembered by somebody in a situation where we need help. Sometimes I ask myself what I did to deserve having good people and good things in my life, but maybe I did do something to make some of that happen.


2023 January 10 - Future Shock - Overchoice

     When I was in high school in 1972 taking a course in Sociology we read a book by Alvin Toffler called Future Shock. Mr. Toffler made three assertions I recall. First, facing the future would be as great a source of stress as running into a more-advanced civilization, so his analogy to culture shock was that we would have to deal with future shock. Second, one of the two major stress points was not only change but the rate of change would increase to the point of being a source of personal pain. Third, that we would be inundated with choice, pointless choice, gratuitous choice, choice overload, cognitive impairment that he called "overchoice."

     You know how it is. I dread having people ask me to pick something up at Starbucks. Is it latte or double-latte or mocha with cream and/or sugar and, if so, what kind of cream is it and is it white sugar or brown sugar? Oh, yes, don't forget, small, medium, large, or extra large? No matter how carefully my friend specifies the order I know I'm going to be asked at least one more question where I have to call my friend and ask for more information about the coffee order. Our lives have become an ever-increasing whirlwind of selections upon selections, more and more overchoice.

     The book came in a choice of twelve colors.


My Left Knee Story 2022-2023

     Over the latter part of 2022 I began to have pain in my left knee. My usual summer-morning workout is a twenty-mile (32 Km) bicycle ride with a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) run in the middle, but the limited morning light squeezes out the run part and my sensitive knee, therefore, isn't a problem in my mornings. Even though I had some sore-knee mornings I was still able to hike six or even eight miles. The moments of pain come suddenly, like there are two surfaces a hair's width apart and when they touch it hurts, so I had some concerns doing longer hikes with the possibility of limping home in pain, but the pain wasn't that bad when it did hurt while walking.

Exam done on January 7, 2023

HISTORY: Several weeks of left knee pain. No injury.

COMPARISON: Radiographs from 02/22/2022. [I got hit by car while running 2022 February 22.]

TECHNIQUE: Multiplanar, multisequence noncontrast images were obtained for the left knee.


Meniscus: Inner margin tear towards the root ligament, with a small amount of displaced
disc material adjacent to the posterior horn, series 3 image 16. Additional low-grade
undersurface tear/degeneration of the body segment, series 5 image 13. Grade 3 chondral
loss over the mesial aspect of medial femoral condyle, 16 x 8 mm. Mild marginal
osteophyte formation. Grade 4 chondral loss over the nonweightbearing medial femoral
condyle with underlying subcortical degenerative cyst formation, series 3 images 21-22,
series 5 image 8.

Meniscus: No meniscal tear. No chondral erosion or wear.

Normal patellar alignment. Normal patellar and trochlear cartilage.

* Intact cruciate ligaments.
* Intact medial and lateral supporting structures. Intact popliteus tendon.
* Normal extensor mechanism.

No fracture or stress injury. No lytic or destructive lesion. Normal musculature.

No joint effusion. No synovitis or loose body. No popliteal cyst.


1. Medial meniscus: Inner margin tear of posterior horn towards the root ligament with a
   small amount of displaced disc material adjacent to the posterior horn on series 3 image 16.
   Additional low-grade undersurface tear/degeneration of the body segment on series 5 image 13.

2. 16 x 8 mm grade 3 chondral defect over the mesial aspect of medial femoral condyle.
   13 x 8 mm grade 4 chondral defect over nonweightbearing medial femoral condyle with
   underlying subcortical degenerative cyst formation.

3. No significant joint effusion. No Baker's cyst formation.

4. Collateral and cruciate ligaments are intact.

Report Electronically Signed by: ADRIAN MOYER
Moab trip changed that where I found myself unable to hike. True to form, the knee started really hurting at the zenith of the Delicate-Arch hike at Arches National Park and it was a painful 2.5-Km (1.5-mile) hike back down the hill. It was time to see my doctor.

     Besides being my doctor coming up on twenty years, Dr. Hinchman is also an athlete himself. I saw him 2022 December 28, he listened patiently to his patient's story and send me for an MRI exam. (I'm old enough to remember when the technology was called "nuclear magnetic resonance" (NMR), but people were afraid of anything "nuclear" and now it's magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instead.) I went to Scottsdale Medical Imaging Lab (SMIL) on 2023 January 7 and got a technical-sounding report that summarizes to something like, "The patient may be a whining crybaby about his sore knee but there's really stuff wrong in there." My medial meniscus has an inner margin tear of the posterior horn, so there is real damage.

     Dr. Hinchman called me and chatted about the report. There is a long and laborious route of physical therapy and healing or maybe there is a surgical route to remove the torn tissue like I did last time with my right knee. He thinks we're a long way from me needing a knee replacement and I'm glad to hear that. I was more than happy with my experience six years ago with Dr. Russo and he is still in business. He is a surgeon and his first response may lean towards surgery, but that's also the way I'm feeling right now. If there's something ripped apart or torn asunder, then a local surgical repair may be the answer. I made an appointment to see Dr. Russo 2023 January 25, Wednesday.

     After weeks of gentle coddling my knee doesn't hurt at all. That gives me license to do whatever I want. I could do jumping jacks or running in place. I decided I want to continue to walk gently and to use hand-support "furniture cruising" when possible, no hiking or running, and sticking to bicycling and upper-body weight lifting for exercise.

     Dr. Russo looked at old x-rays and new MRI scans, poked at my knee, and said waiting for it to heal was my best option. The only part that hurts is the lower-outer "lateral" part of my knee and the only visible or repairable damage is on the inner "medial" part of my knee. So I'm going to be gentle with my knee and take a little bit of Tylenol, and not Advil with my Xarelto blood thinner.


2023 January 17 - I Can't Even Palm a Seven-inch Reel

     I remember how cool it was that the professional-league National Basketball Association (NBA) players can "palm" a basketball, pick it up with one hand and hold it. When I want to take a reel off my tape deck with something in my other hand, I feel pathetic that I can't even palm a seven-inch reel of tape. It's kind of like when I see professioal dancers fly through the air making it look so easy and then I go for a run and I have to plan my steps ahead so I don't trip over a curbstone. They say pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff could reach thirteen notes while most of us more-mortal mortals are happy when we can reach nine notes, one more than an octave.

     So I try to reach my fingers around the tape on my deck, realize it's hopeless or, worse, I'm going to drop the reel if I try, put down whatever I'm holding in the other hand, and pick up the reel with both hands to put it back in the box for another day. Maybe, for inspiration, I should have a picture of Wilt Chamberlain holding a reel that looks like a drink coaster in his hand. (He probably could palm a ten-inch reel or even a twelve-inch long-play (LP) vinyl record.)

2023 January 18 - Meeting Others

     I have a whirlwind of concerts, last night, tomorrow night, and the next four nights after that. Last night was at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Jeffrey Siegel, pianist, doing his "Keyboard Conversations" where he talks about each piece before playing it. After five-plus decades doing this he is still on his game and it was both educationallly and musically a wonderful evening.

     When he mentioned Artur Rubinstein something dawned on me. I'm a practicing mathematician, I call myself an "Industrial Mathematician, my advanced degree is in a field called Operations Research, and I've been to several conferences over the years where people in the field gather for professional talks and conversation. I have met many of the famous people in my profession. If I were an academic instead of a practitioner I would have significantly more social intercourse in my professional circles. My friend Forman Acton knew just about every famous mathematician and physicist in the mid-Twentieth Century.

     Jeffrey Siegel was alone on the stage and I believe not one famous classical-music pianist was in the audience. His concert season is busy. A few years ago it was twenty-two venues doing four Keyboard-Conversations concerts for a total of eighty-eight, one for each key on the piano. I joked that if he played a Bosendorfer piano with ninety-two keys he would have to do a twenty-third venue. I doubt he has much time to attend concerts performed by his contemporary piano performers.

     He says he maintained friendships with other concert pianists and I believe he does, but it is an effort he would have to make more than I have to do. I'm glad for him that he's able to stay in touch with his community because it has been a blessing for me to have a professional community where we know each other and, occasionally, see each other.

2023 January 30 - Recent Driving Issues

     Driving and drivers are long-term topics of complaining conversation. Here are a few items that I grumble about more recently.

     Lagging left: One of the positive features of Scottsdale is that left-turn, cross-traffic-flow, traffic-light-green arrows come after the straight-ahead green light. This is good for drivers because it keeps more traffic going straight. This is good for bicycles because it clears out the right-turn lane before the light turns green. This is good for pedestrians because the last traffic going across is confined to just the left-turn lanes. Well, Scottsdale decided to do something about it. They found something worse than switching all the intersections. Instead they changed just some of them so we don't know which way the lights are going to go next.

     Late turn signals: There is something more annoying than drivers not using their blinkers, or "signaling straight" as I put it. There is something more annoying, waiting until the turn is already in progress and flipping on the blinker as if to say, "Yes, I know we're supposed to use blinkers, but I can be more annoying this way."

     A new generation of idiocy has drivers "wolfpacking," as one friends calls it, going out of their way to hang with other drivers. I've made as many as four speed changes only to have a tag-along-in-my-blind-spot driver stay with me.

2023 February 4 - Philadelphia Ballet - Forward Motion

     Last night was a wonderful performance by the Philadelphia Ballet called "Forward Motion." While it's important for ballet to keep its roots intact with performances of "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty," and, of course, "The Nutcracker," it is also important to keep innovating with new choreography, to extend the frontier of ballet as an art form.

     I think it's important to keep ballet faithful to itself. I attend a lot of dance performances that are not ballet, Alvin Ailey, Aljibe Tango (Argentina), Aspen Sante Fe Ballet, Bodytraffic, Carraria Agwa, Merce Cunningham, Diavolo, Dorrance, Forever Tango, Limón, Momix, Dave Parsons, Polobolus, Paul Taylor, Royal Cambodian Ballet, Samhära (India), and a few others whose programs I can't find at the moment. With a few exceptions I have enjoyed these thoroughly. As these are not ballet companies, even if one or two of them have "Ballet" in their titles, I don't insist their dance be true to the art of ballet. On the other hand, in my own humble opinion, a big-city ballet company program should be faithful to ballet.

     I've had people say maybe I should be more open minded. I should think outside the box. I had a cat who would think outside the box and I had to clean it up each morning, so much for thinking outside the box. Sure, if Philadelphia Ballet wants to perform stuff that clearly isn't ballet, then that's their privilege, but I would personally prefer more ballet in the ballet than the last two pieces in this program.

     The first work, "PS," was exactly what I came for, all ballet, aggressively new, definitely not George Balanchine without being obviously, deliberately different. It had ballet's turns and pirouettes with ballerinas on pointe, fewer leaps than most ballet but plenty of pizzazz. This is what I like in a "Forward-Motion" ballet program.

     Other than a few turns on pointe, the others struck me as not enough ballet for what I came for. "ENdure" was too much just walking around for my taste in loose, full-body red and maroon outfits while "Circumstellars" was a terrific, high-energy piece of modern dance, wowie-zowie, lots of fun. The athleticism of the company was well suited for this and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This was a work a modern dance company would be totally proud to perform. I felt a little awkward seeing it from a big-city ballet company.


2023 February 5 - Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flight

     I had a chance to fly First Class on a new Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" from Phoenix (PHX) to Philadelphia (PHL) and back. It was a terrific airplane with the cubbyhole pod seats, very nice. I'm old enough to remember when they announced the Boeing 747 "Whale" and I have an older friend (recently departed) who worked on them in Northwest-Airplanes Technical-Operations maintenance department back in 1970 when they first flew. The B787 has big windows for enjoying the view. I like the one-two-one rows so everybody gets an aisle seat, a big win where the window guy doesn't annoy the aisle guy to get out. for those middle-night piddle trips.

     I got the impression that members of the Boeing design department didn't fly as passengers on this airplane. Other American-Airlines flights I've been on have made the overhead bins deep enough for rollerboards to go lengthwise to make more room while these didn't, so my second bag went on the footrest so the seat could extend. It took a few flight attendents leaning over me to find the earphone jack right at my hip under all the controls. The seat control was camouflaged to look like a cell phone and it only worked after some strange combination of multiple taps. There was a pull-cable remote control device which had the light and call buttons close together and similar looking, "No, ma'am, I wasn't calling, sorry about that." It wasn't as coordinated with the entertainment screen as I would have liked.

     Somebody designed a seriously-comfortable seat in a really nice airplane and somebody was supposed to make the controls easy for tired travelers to figure out.

     I know I've been out of touch, but the only movies I could find that I've seen before were "Casablanca" and "50 First Dates." When I flipped the selection to "Science Fiction" it was almost all Spiderman and other Marvel movies. It looked like there were a dozen Spiderman movies. I figured Star Wars and Star Trek movies would make it in there. I generally don't watch new movies because they get interrupted by silly things like landing at my destination. I did notice when I stopped the movie it didn't seem to like keeping my place in that movie and coming back to it apparently was not an option.

     Just to make my experience a little more surreal, I was offered a wheelchair because my knee was in serious pain and I gladly accepted it. True to their word, when I hobbled off the 'plane I got put in a wheelchair with my luggage attached. The staff ran off to do something else and, after half an hour, I got my luggage and started the long limp to the exit. There were no large wheels for me to roll myself where I was going. Maybe in that half hour, maybe earlier, the direct route from the Phoenix-Terminal-Four-B gates to the Parking-Spot van pickup was closed and I had to make my way around to the A gates to go downstairs and back again. Alan King had a routine on insurance where the lady said, "My, my, you should have gotten fire or theft," as his current fire-and-theft covered him only if the house was robbed while it was burning down. Next time I'll ask for a wheelchair with somebody to push it.

     Look, my experience wasn't terrible, I got where I was going in a comfortable seat with a meal and plenty of sleep and the wheelchair-wait delay wasn't that long. Getting from Philly to Phoenix in six or seven hours sure beats walking, that's for sure. But there are some human-factors things that could have gone better and I believe were intended to go better.


2023 March 31 - What Did I Do to Deserve This?

     Once in a while I do something stupid, maybe drop a dish and the shards are a pain to clean up or I stub my toe or hit my knee. I cuss for a few minutes and the tirade always ends with, "What did I do to deserve this?" Lately my knee has been giving me a lot of grief and I'm at the age where not hiking or even walking unaided again is a distinct possibility, the consequence of living well as a runner for four decades.

     Well, I'm going to look at some of the bigger pictures of, "What did I do to deserve this?"

     My life has been full of wonderful shows of music, dance, and theater, more recently than ever before. Many of our admired great performers are still performing in their later years, much to the joy of me and my concert friends. There is a sense of urgency in that these people will not be playing too much longer, from retirement or infirmity or worse, and they're still wonderful today.

     Maybe I missed the glory years of Stokowski, Toscinini, Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, and Jascha Heifitz, but I think of those I've heard in my four decades of active concert attendance. To pick one of my favorites, Emanuel Ax isn't getting any younger and I got to hear him play this month.

     I don't go to many operas only because I already have more than seventy concerts per year on my calendar. (My friend Warren and I cover the field with him being active in the opera donor community and me being active in the ballet and we both contribute to the symphony.) What a gift from the gods, or at least the muses, to have these performance events in our lives.

     To answer my original question, the answer is no, I don't know what I did to deserve something this wonderful.



2023 May 3 - Rip Off

     I try not to whine every time I get the short end of the stick, but two events have left me thousands of dollars short and I feel other people might learn from my mistakes or misfortunes.

     The first is renting a car from Xpress, a small company in Kanab, Utah, to drive to Zion National Park. It was 2022 October 1-3, Saturday through Monday. I've rented from them several times in the past, most recently 2022 September 3-5 to drive the same car to Bryce Canyon. I got the usual warning not to drive the car on dirt roads, so when my friend and I reached the end of the paved road on one of our exploratory voyages, we turned back.

     Two weeks after I returned the car I got a call that my driving on dirt roads (that I didn't do) did $3500 of damage to their car and they had photographs of damage on the bottom of the car. There was no evidence that that damage was caused by me or even that those pictures were taken after I rented the car. They didn't talk with me as promised, they just put $3500 on my MasterCard.

     When I went to MasterCard, they did their "investigation" only to conclude that the rental company Xpress really thought they were right. I suggested a rental car company in this century, especially one concerned where the car is being driven, would have a GPS in the car. I asked what dirt road they think I drove on so I could figure out what they were thinking I did.

     If I hired a lawyer in Kanab to sue them, then how would I get to their law office as Xpress is the only car rental in Kanab. I would have to fly to Page and drive 100 miles. So I decided to call my car insurance company, State Farm, and to file an damage claim with the understanding that they were to ascertain for themselves that some damage actually took place. I figured I would sick State Farm's lawyers on Xpress.

     More recently I went on a trip 2023 April 15-27 to Western Australia and the North Island of New Zealand. I booked my flights from Phoenix (PHX) to Perth (PER) in 2022 November through a web-page outfit called HOP2 for $4500. They seemed reasonable enough with an itinerary through Los Angeles (LAX), Tokyo-Narita (NRT), and Singapore (SIN).

     I should have been worried right out the the box when I saw the itinerary.

PHX-LAX 7:20 to 8:54, Saturday morning, First Class
a tight conntection of −95 minutes (back in time)
PHX-to-LAX 7:20 to 8:54, Saturday morning, the same flight

long flights on Singapore airlines in Business Class

I contacted them through email after failing to connect on email or web page and they removed the time-travel part and the second trip on the same flight and they confirmed the entire itinerary.

     When I got to LAX I found I had no ticket on Singapore Airlines. I was sitting in an airport lounge with no booking anywhere. Before I found that out, I started getting text messages from HOP2 with alternative, day-later itineraries. Why would I want that? They told me my flight was cancelled.

     I checked with Singapore Airlines when their agent showed up and there were no canceled flights, just that I wasn't booked. They directed me to their web page where I could buy the ticket I paid $4500 for last November. At the airport, and at the last minute, the price was now $12500.

     The folks at HOP2 kept texting me saying I was booked and they gave me a six-character confirmation code that Singapore Airlines had no record of, nor did they have a booking in my name.

     At this point, rather than wait for them to get me to Perth days later, I found a good flight on QANTAS at a lower grade of service called Premium Economy for $9000 and I bought that tickets instead of paying $12500 for full Business Class on Singapore Airlines.

     Of course I'm owed a full refund from HOP2, but I feel I'm owed the full value $12500 of the product I paid for. There was no cancellation, no failure, nothing wrong except they "forgot" to book my flights. Those flights flew with empty seats I could have occupied for $12500, so we have an actual 2023 April 15 dollar value for the seats I paid for in 2022 November.

     I can feel sorry for the poor lady in Maldova who spent her Easter Sunday trying to unravel the mess, but I feel HOP2 should refund me $12500 and be done with it.



2023 July 23 - A Perfect Concert with Diana Krall

     It was the Mesa Arts Center, it was Diana Krall, it was a great band, it was a wonderful audience that applauded vigorously at the ends of the songs and politely after each solo, it was a concert without a bunch of conversations going on, it was the perfect concert.

     Sometimes the stars align. I like Diana Krall, her voice, her music, her spirit. I like Diana Krall enough to buy a ticket to her concert. The songs were terrific and the jazz was great with great solos amid the spirited vocals. Still, my greatest take-away from this evening was the audience. I'm usually happy if the audience isn't a negative, I'm happy to have no conversations, nobody pushing me, nobody blocking my view. (Actually, there was a tall person in front of me and I had to lean sideways, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the evening.)

     This time the audience was a huge positive. They were clearly "into" the performance, no conversations or other annoying distractions and applauding appropriately at each jazz solo and ethusiastically at the ends of pieces. They amplified my pleasure.

     "Who could ask for anything more?"



2023 August 27 - Young International airstrip

     A couple of months ago my buddy Zeke and I met by airplane at Payson Airport (PAN) for breakfast and there was an airplane on the ramp with a flat tire. Being good people, at least good enough to do a two-minute good deed, we helped these guys push the airplane into a maintenance hangar for repair. While the repair was being done I struck a conversation with the young pilot, Tyler. We decided we would meet again soon.

     Soon came and went, but a few weeks after that Tyler visited me and my record collection and then we met to fly into a backcountry airstrip called Pleasant Valley (24AZ) on the chart and called "Young International" in my circle of flying friends. It's in the Arizona town of Young, about thirty miles east of Payson. This was Tyler's first time landing on an unpaved airstrip, graded dirt in this case, very nice. I did a landing I could be proud of and we taxied to the picnic area midfield. It was a beautiful day in Young, Arizona, the sky was azure blue with a few clouds, winds were light, and the temperature was comfortable.

     What we didn't expect was a fellow, Vern, waiting there. He was waiting for Tommy who had some kind of mechanical problem and we arrived at the same time Vern expected Tommy. After waiting a while for Tommy, no cell coverage in these more-remote places, Vern suggested we go into the town of Young for breakfast, which was delicious, and we had a delightful conversation after which Tyler and I had a delightful flight back home to Falcon Field (FFZ) in Mesa, Arizona. (I guess we didn't get to Payson (PAN) for breakfast. This was a lot better. I'll take good luck over planning any day.)




2023 August 29 - Parking Lot Crash

     Do you know how hard it is to be quiet when I want to yell "I TOLD YOU SO" at the top of my lungs?

     I was around thirty years old when I worked at a place that required backing our cars into company parking spaces. It was obviously better, safer, and more efficient. I still usually back out of angle-parking spaces, but anything even remotely like a straight in parking space I know better than to back out of it.

     So here I am in a parking lot after enjoying breakfast with friends and one driver is moving out of the lot while the other backs out, not gently and slowly, but fast and hard. I guess he figures the faster he goes the less time he's out there exposed to the risk of collision. That logic may be lost on me (I'm a math Ph.D., what would I know?) but maybe it worked well for him most of the time.

     So today these two cars hit each other with an audible crunch while I standing there. I so wanted to say to the forward-moving driver that he should insist the other guy pay for his repairs and his time to take care of them and I would be happy to testify that no insurance should pay as the decision to back out of the space, especially without looking, was not an accident.



2023 September 7 - Audiophile Critique of USBPre 2

     I'm planning to restore my old recordings from 1980 and 1981 (many of which have succumbed to "sticky-tape" syndrome) and to archive them in higher-quality digital files. Sometime around twenty years ago I "burned" them all onto compact disks (CDs) using a wonderful HHB BurnIt device and, more recently in 2019 January, I "ripped" those CDs onto FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) that I have enjoyed for the last few years.

     In 2020 March I dug out all my old live-music cassette tapes from the same period and digitized them for posterity using a twenty-dollar V.TOP analogue-to-digital device about which I have no complaints. The sound is clean and correct and I thought well of it at the time. More recent comparisons with significantly-higher-end equipment only increases my respect for what the V.TOP designers achieved.

     Let me take a moment to reflect on these recordings. My friend Jonathan at International Phonograph Inc. (IPI) in Chicago sells tape copies of live music to die for, Stan Getz, Ravi Shankar, Benny Goodman, Chick Corea, et cetera. He lives in a rarified world of the best recordings of the best people recorded and played on the best equipment. While my live-recording history is significantly more modest, I feel I have earned a seat at his table, if only to sit at the corner where I have to lean over to reach my plate.

     I sympathize with Corey Greenberg that I'm a far better audiophile weenie having made my own live recordings. Mel Schilling sold me a pair of Nakamichi CM700 microphones which I have used in their cartioid configuration and placed half a meter apart facing out at a 90° angle. I have a two-minute sample recorded 1980 February 13 at The Bucket in Palo Alto for the reader's perusal. This recording was made using a 1979-vintage Sony TC-D5 with an old, ordinary Maxell UD-90 cassette, no chrome, no metal, and no Dolby noise reduction. It's clearly limited compared to a reel-to-reel recording or even a good phonograph record, but it has that live-music feel, "the magic of the moment," and it has a fantastic stereo image.

     So here I am with forty tape from forty years ago (maybe thirty-nine tapes from forty-two years ago, close enough for jazz) and many of them are Ampex 456 Grandmaster tapes that got the dreaded Sticky-Tape Syndrome where, so I'm told, the water supply at the new Ampex factory was different enough that the newer, post-1970 tapes would turn into sticky goo over a couple of decades. The cure, they tell me, is baking the tape for several hours so I get one play (or maybe a few plays over a few hours) which would be best used to copy the tape. Planning to do that with my older Ampex 456 tapes it seemed reasonable to make digital copies as well at higher resolution with higher sound quality than was available to me twenty years ago.

     Jonathan recommended Chris at Sweetwater Sound who recommended the Sound Devices USBPre 2 for about USD $1100 to my door. I pulled out my IPI tape from 1980 July 2 of Ravi Shankar and make several digital recordings of it. Depth here is bits per sample and rate is thousands of samples per second.

A ipi-1980-07-02-ravi-shankar-vtop.wav 16/44
B ipi-1980-07-02-ravi-shankar-sd-16-48.wav 16/48
C ipi-1980-07-02-ravi-shankar-sd-16-96.wav 16/96
D ipi-1980-07-02-ravi-shankar-sd-24-96.wav 24/96
E ipi-1980-07-02-ravi-shankar-sd-32-96.wav 32/96
F       original reel-to-reel tape analogue

All of these were created with Linux-Mint Audacity, File A was done with my $20 V.TOP device, and the rest were done with the USBPre 2. It took some asking questions and messing around to figure out how to make recordings with various depths and rates and the USBPre 2 is a 24-bit device, so File E should be no different from File D. We'll call the live tape itself "File F" to make comunication easier.

     My young aspiring-audiophile friend Tyler joined me as we compared A-C, C-D, and D-F. Each comparison had more clarity and texture, better imaging, more dramatic impact, just "more there there" as at least one audio guy has put it. I attributed the A-C improvement mostly to better equipment, the C-D improvement to the depth increase from 16 to 24, and the D-F improvement to two fewer conversions direct from the tape. The C-D was profound as the extra bits offer a lot of extra resolution. My real-engineer RADAR-geek friend Jeff doubts the 24-bit mode is really linear to one part in 224=16777216, but if it has an honest twenty bits, that's one part in 220=1048576, sixteen times more "inner detail" (as one audio rag called it) then the 16-bit compact disk standard.

     One thing cool to me is that I'm still able to hear these differences at this critical level of audiophile discrimination even through my Oticon hearings aids to my age-addled ears. (That's another reason I was so happy Tyler could join me.) There's something cool still being able to listen at this level of acuity.

     I'm not pooh-pooh-ing the compact disk sound as garbage, even if it isn't as good as my records and my factory tapes. But, for right now, we're living and listening in a live-music-to-tape world where the standards are far higher than compact disks, vinyl records, or factory tapes, even the two-track "inline" tapes made prior to 1960.

     I'll be delighted to have digital copies of my tapes made on the Sound Devices USBPre 2.




2023 October 5-8 - Philadelphia Weekend of Memories

     This was a weekend of joy from beginning to end. I make these trips to Philadelphia to see my family, my sister Betsy, her husband Ivan, my nephew Gabe, and my niece Cecelia and, while I'm at it, the Philadelphia Ballet and my old friends. My life is a sequence of "clubs" and, unlike Groucho Marx, I want to belong to clubs that will have me as a member. There are the "clubs" of people involved with Cheltenham Schools where I grew up, Princeton University where I went to college in Mathematics, Stanford University where I went to graduate school in Operations Research, Bell Telephone Laboratories where I worked with the people who invented cellular telephony and some other notable people, Design Computation where I routed printed circuit boards, Northwest Airlines where I worked my math in marketing and maintenance, InterDigital Communications where I did more cellular work in code division multiple access (CDMA), Provar and BNSF and CANAC where I did railroad-planning simulation work (all the live long day), Holiday Inn (now InterContinental Hotels Group) in yield managemnt, Khimetrics where I started my work in retail science, US Airways also in yield management, and, finally, my own retail-science Clear Demand. What a long, strange trip it 's been.

     I have some dear and wonderful memories from each of these, mostly some terrific people.

     After dinner with some local friends in Phoenix I scurried to Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) for my brief overnight flight to Philadelphia and breakfast with Ira and Jeff. Ira was a high-school classmate of mine (Cheltenham 1978) whom I didn't really get to know until 2009 when I took him and his family to the Grand Canyon on their visit to Arizona and Jeff was the same year at Central High School in Philadelphia. We have enjoyed our breakfasts over the years at Ben & Irv's Delicatessen & Restaurant in Huntingdon Valley in Pennsylvania. I guess that affirms my membership in the Jewish-Cheltenham club.

     I headed out to Princeton University where I met Professor-Emeritus Bob Gunning. I met Bob the first time in 1973 when I interviewed at Princeton and somehow our paths didn't cross for forty-seven years until I suggested we have a conversation in 2021 September. We enjoyed that enough to suggest not waiting another forty-seven years and, again, I walked out of Fine Hall Office 902 with a broad smile on my face. I'm still a member of the Princeton-math-students club.

     On my way out of Fine Hall, the new Fine Hall built in 1964 that is vertical rather than horizontal, I met a math graduate student Anthony who was a delight to talk to. We chatted for a bit, we went inside and found the photo of a high-school friend Rob Indik who also got his Ph.D. there, and he took me to afternoon tea. It was mostly the same, but there was a display for the Fred Almgren Run that Anthony had no knowledge of. I got to pull out my membership in the Princeton-math-runners club (quite exclusive, there wen't many of us) that ran a relay race Princeton-vs.-Rutgers along the twenty-five-mile canal connecting the two universities. I remember Fred Almgren. Since it was supposed to be graduate students, I guess I was a ringer. (I hope Anthony decides to write to me, I gave him my card.)

     Bob Vanderbei is my Bell Labs buddy from the Karmarker project in 1986, he took a teaching position at Princeton sometime after that, and we have seen each other occasionally since then. His retirement was celebrated with a one-day conference, we called it Bobfest, with a few of my old Operations-Research buddies. Marc Meketon has done some serious work in railroad dispatching and it might be fun to compare our work since I did a cool simulation in the same area for BNSF and CANAC. I knew the guys who wrote the foundational RAILS simulation in 1976 and I met with them for a week when CANAC bought RAILS in 1999. The Bobfest meet-and-greet Hors d'Oeuvres and appetizers social time was a chance to meet some of my old friends including Bob, of course. Bill Cook and Rob Freund go back to my graduate-school days. I'm in the Bell Labs club as well as the Operations Research club.

     Friday morning was more of the conference stuff with a break for lunchh with Dick Woodbridge, Princeton Class of 1965, my patent attorney for the LOCI phonograph tonearm and, still, an insightful, interesting, and entertaining lunch companion. Not only am I member of the Princeton community but also Dick escorted me into the world of inventors and entrepreneurs.

     During a conference social break I met John D'Angelo, a Princeton undergrad a few years older than I am, and he recounted a delightful story from Professor Harold Kuhn's class where he came up with a quicker proof of a theorem. I have the distinction of taking introductory Operations Research from two of its founders, Harold Kuhn and George Danzig, quite a select club. Professor Kuhn launced into a story about the old Fine Hall and meeting with Al Tucker and John von Neumann, the other two founders, where the same theorem came up, von Neumann suggested John's proof, and Kuhn and Tucker convinced him he was wrong. What an elevating way to put down a wrong-headed proof! There were also some stories about Professor Guro Shimura.

     Friday evening was dinner with Mike Luddy who worked with me on Long Island at InterDigital, but whose true calling is advanced RADAR systems and other serious real-time signal-processing shit. In a world of diddlers Mike is the real deal and now he's talking about retirement plans. I'm proud to be part of any club with him as a member.

     Saturday morning was breakfast with Lo Li, a colleage from Holiday Inn 2000 through 2003 whom I haven't seen since then. Until we met this time, twenty years later, I didn't realize I was a role model for her career choices and she has developed into a serious, proud, professional with a wonderful family. We met in Philadelphia before her flight out and she says her husband insists I lived up to the reputation she gave me. At Holiday Inn I redesigned and rewrote the Holiday Inn Revenue Optimizer (HIRO) that allocates room and rates based on yield-management mathematics. I'm a member of that club, too.

     The smile on my face lasted all day while I gawked at painting and sculptures at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including the original, famous "Whistler's Mother" painting (no cat on her lap or "Hitler's Mother" with the mustache or any of the other cute variations).

     The evening was the Philadelphia Ballet doing their choreography for "Carmen," no singing, just wonderful ballet dancing. Before the show was dinner with Antoinette, my usher friend since before 1990 whose education in music is amplified by the enormous repertoire she has heard in the concert hall over so many years. After three and a half decades our friendship has grown. I'm a member of the Philadelphia-backstage crowd from the Academy-of-Music-orchestra days and, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, I attended a memorial service for one fellow who was the greeting face at the Academy for fifty years.

     I was greeted by Susan who has worked at the Academy of Music since 1986, always a wondeful face to see and the ballet was the usual wonderful experience. I waved my usual hello with concertmaster Luigi Mazzocchi who leads the pit orchesta's wonderful musical score. Having Luigi as a concert friend and conductor Beatrice Jona Affron an acquaintance and being in the donor circle make me feel part of the club.

     Sunday morning was my friend Phil Alberto, also a high-school classmate I didn't know in high school. We have been friends since 2013, I think, and I enjoy his company immensely.

     I didn't see my sister because she and her husband have colds they didn't want to share. I think I got the cold anyway. I tested it and it's not COVID.

     I caught an earlier flight home and managed to get a good night's sleep even with a stuffy nose.

     Rounding out the list of my "club memberships" I got an email Wednesday morning from Verna Lind. We became friends circa 1993. Her husband Dick was a mechanic at Northwest Airlines since 1951, before airline jets, and he remembered many things fondly for me over the years including the first Boeing 747 Northwest flew. Airline maintenance is a tough world, airline mechanics are a tough breed, and I was proud to share office space with them. They're the reason airline flights are a thousand times safer than general aviation or driving our cars. I worked with that crowd, Technical Operations, "Tech Ops," and I remember the attitudes of the people there with admiration and respect. Like some of my professors, Dick was a pioneer, number six or seven (I think) on the Northwest priority list based on seniority when he retired. I think I recall him telling me he knew people involved with Northwest at or soon after its founding in 1926. He was smart and savvy and I learned a lot from him. When I lived in Afton, Minnesota, Dick and Verna had history and friends there that we shared.

     Dick accompanied me in my own Piper Cherokee airline from Minnesota to Long Island when I changed jobs. When my fuel drain dripped a few extra drops more than it should have, he leaned over and said, "If you want me to fix that, I can sign it off in your logbooks," reminding me with a chuckle that if he could repair airline jets he could repair a leak on a single-engine, four-seat private airplane. He was fun, he was funny, and I miss him.


2023 November 30 - Thursday

     Last night I was pushing my garbage can out to the street for pickup when I noticed a neighbor I don't already know ambling down the street, so I asked how he was doing.

     "I've had better weeks and better years."

     Ever the cliché-monger I replied, "I guess that's true for most of us."

     He said, "Well, three weeks ago I lost my wife of fifty years."

     I answered, "I guess you've had better weeks and better years." I paused for a moment and said, "It doesn't sound like a Henny Youngman joke, you know, `My fifty-year marriage was the best ten years of my life.'"

     He said, "No, I loved all fifty."

     I said, "I could offer some platitudes about attitude and suggest that you'll reach a time where you think about fifty years of joy rather than a few weeks of sorrow."

     He told me how they met, working in the same company, a chance interaction in an office at a company and, "we knew we wanted to be together."

     I paused for a moment as the right thing to say popped into my head. "Look at the good news," I said. He looked at me in the dark as I leaned on my trash can. "She didn't have to say goodbye."

     His frown turned into a smile and I suspect he was thinking of other great moments, with a half-century to choose from. "I think you brightened my evening." He introduced himself, I introduced myself, we wished each other a happy evening and were on way, both with smiles on our faces.

     I think I got that one right. Maybe all this stuff about me being a positive person has some merit.


2023 December 31 - A Month of Friends

     2023 December 1, John Pizzarelli at Musicfest reception with Eileen. I have gathered a growing group of friends in the Musicfest "Circle of Giving" receptions.

     2023 December 2, Kevin hike. We had a delightful hike, almost 7 Km, 4.5 miles, at beautiful Brown's Ranch, a fairly-recently-opened desert-trails venue in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Kevin and I enjoyed chattings about our different-times same-experiences in running and computer databases.

     2023 December 5, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Jeffrey Siegel, Keyboard Conversations, Chopin and Liszt. I have had a group I see at these Keyboard-Conversations concerts for a dozen years.

     2023 December 6, Aliki came by with her cat Scruffles who, through a combination of moves and avoiding cat allergies, is now my cat. Scruffles is sitting next to me as I listen to jazz on my hifi and is demanding some attention from time to time, a wonderful addition to my household managerie. I am increasingly enjoying Aliki as Warren's friend and as my own.

     2023 December 9, Clear Demand holiday party. My company is spread all over the United States and having colleagues under one roof was very special. There are three in my own Science group whom I saw face-to-face for the first time and I realized how much taller than I am they are.

     2023 December 11-13, Moab with Tyler. He's the young flight instructor I have come to respect and to enjoy and we shared the Utah back-country over two days of wonderful flying. I got to be his teacher in this amazing and wonderful place sharing the lessons LaVar taught me. To top off the trip we had lunch in Hanksville with Susan, who was married to LaVar for sixty-one years.

     2023 December 15-16, Shaun and Karen. I've known them in several places they have lived in Utah and Colorado and Arizona and now I had a chance to be a host. I took them on a hike in the low desert amid giant saguaro cacti, to the Nutcracker ballet, and to a terrific dinner at Grassroots restasurant. They brought their cat Ditto whose friendship I have shared since 2015 when we met at Gateway.

     2023 December 19, birthday breakfast shake at Nutrition Head to Toe. I've been part of a crowd of people drawn together by fitness since 2014 and shop-owner Vince bought me a shake for my birthday.

     2023 December 19, birthday lunch with Ron and Diana. Two of my eclipse friends have ended up living near me in Payson, Arizona, where I've met them for breakfast. This time they were in Scottsdale for some medical attention and we had lunch at Chompie's Deli.

     2023 December 19, birthday dinner with Olga, Anthony, and Anthony Junior. My godson is two weeks old and we all spent the evening together over good food and good friendship.

     2023 December 20, day-after-birthay lunch with Sean at Loco Patron. Sean and I met at Deer Valley Airport, we both flew Piper Cherokee airplanes model PA28-140.

     2023 December 20, day-after-birthday dinner with Jim at Goldman's Deli. Jim and I worked together for a while and we share a lot of cultural values.

     2023 December 21-24, Minnesota visit with Mike, Helen, Antonia, Noah, and Alice. Antonia and I were planning a Big Surprise Visit to her parents 2020 March, we even had airline tickets, then the whole COVID mess happenes, so we got our trip now. December can be pretty chilly in the Twin Cities, but we were blessed with four days above freezing and mostly-clear skies. Antonia had her children Noah and Alice and I got spend time with them and Mike and Helen. It was a time of joy.

     2023 December 23, lunch with Tommy, Art, and Ryan from work. Four of my Clear Demand colleages live in the Twin Cities and they joined me for lunch.

     2023 December 23, afternoon snack with Rick and Ned. I've known Rick since graduate school in 1991 and we met Ned in 1993 at Northwest Airlines. It was one of those huge painful-parking malls, but the extra meal was good and the friendships were great as usual.

     2023 December 23, dinner with Lisa and Mark. I've known them since my Northwest-Airlines days back in 1993 and was a guest at their wedding in 2000 November.

     2023 December 25, Christmas dinner with Anthongy, Olga, Anthony Junior, and Marian. Anthony's mother Marian is in town to enjoy her new grandson and we had a wonderful dinner together.

     2023 December 27, late-birthday-lunch with Didi and Sydney. Didi and her daughter Sydney are friends from Nutrition Head to Toe and we keep in touch. Didi is on her second knee replacement, still not feeling so great, and I'm cheering for her because I may be going the same route someday.

     2023 December 29, waffle with Susan at the Nutrition Spot. I've known Susan and her husband Ben since before they bought the Herbalife shake shop in Scottsdale and I come in most Fridays for my weekly waffle.

     2023 December 30, flying with Tyler and Ashley, breakfast in Safford with Zeke and his friends. Zeke is a fly-in flying buddy who seems harmless enough but he flew almost two thousand hours in combat zones in Vietnam. I don't have a like the war to admire the warrior and I stand up a little straighter in his presence. His friends were fun, good company, and experienced pilots. Tyler, Ashley, and I stopped in Double Circle Ranch at Eagle Creek, a delightful back-country dirt airstrip thirty-plus miles north of Safford where we ambled around old buildings and the creek. We got close enough to wild horses to pet them.

     2023 December 30, open house with Kevin. I'm not in the market for real estate, but I figured going to one of his Open House affairs would be a ticket to libations and victuals (free drinks and food). All I got was green tea and no vittles, but Kevin's company was worth the trip.

     2023 December 31, Phoenix Symphony and Cirque de Soliel reception. I'm invited to a post-concert members reception this evening and I expect to be too tired to want to write about it then, so I'll anticipate that I'll have a wonderful time seeing Warren and Aliki and Phoenix-Symphony-CEO Peter and some of my other usual suspects at these things.

     And so here it is, 2023 December 31, the close of the year and the close of this year's weblog. Happy New Year, Forever and Always.









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