On (Mini) Tour

Zoe has a couple of gigs in the south of England (lowest point is Cornwall which is pretty far South). Her gig buddy Tom will be there for both performances but has to be back around Manchester in between so there was a free slot in a car.

Dear reader, I took that slot.

At the moment, I don’t have a driver’s license in any country. Zoe has the packing and gear management down. So, I am merely ornamental.

In the early days I did a fair bit of roadie and groupie work…which very helpful to early career musicians. These days, not so much. Most of the big tours over the past 10 years have been in the US which is challenging for me and until now, the UK side was rather quiet. This year, following on from Small Brown Birds, Zoe (with Tom) got serious about UK booking and they’ve had a busy lineup.

But it’s more efficient for them to take one car so no real room for me. Fortuitous stars for this nostalgia trip!


Still No Good OWL Viz

And maybe there will never be.

My student asked me if I knew how to render an OWL ontology as a UML class diagram “like all the pattern papers do”. My answer was “No, but there’s probably a plug in for Protege or I vaguely remember tools…Visio plugin…some website…hey is that my ear bleeding?!”

We couldn’t find such a tool. But then, after too long, I asked: “wait, why do you want this?”

He has a presentation to fellow PhD students and he wanted something that wouldn’t turn them off the way logic does.

He was surprised to find out that UML was not universally loved or even…known.

We solved the presentation problem by thinking about better ways to grab their attention. That is, by focusing on the actual problem.

Demoing YAGNI with FizzBuzz

I use FizzBuzz as a warm up lab and as a key lecture. Tom Dalling has an excellent blog post where they iterate the implementation of FizzBuzz into a fully packaged, fully parameterized with sensible defaults, fully documented module. Which is horrific…completely larded with unnecessary complexity. And the punchline is “The Aristocrats”…er “You Ain’t Gonna Need It”.

I’m wondering if this would work as a lecture or even if it makes sense. Each step is supposed to be inevitable or at least sensible but there’s something made up about it. OTOH, it might go too far toward suspicion of abstraction.

It could but fun if the build was right. Perhaps it would be great if it also made clear when those moves made sense. Right now, it’s only negative. But a lot of those moves are good ones in some contexts.

Music Monday: Civil War

Baez is releasing a “visual version” of Whistle Down the Wind…short films (or, as we sometimes call then, music videos) for each song on the album. The one for “The President Sang Amazing Grace” was first and was brilliant. It was also well received and got a lot of attention (approaching 200k views!). They are releasing them via prominent websites. “President” appeared at The Atlantic. The latest, for “Civil War”, first appeared at the Smithsonian.

“Civil War” is a weird song. Supposedly, it’s not about the US Civil War, and I believe it:

I don’t know you to wear a hat
But I came home late, and there it sat
You rose to show what hats are for
When living through a civil war

Three dogs at a party on a boat at night
Play checkers in a lantern light
They sing a song out to the shore
Of women, gold, and civil war
Every truth carries blame

And every light reveals some shame
Progress rides with thieves and whores
The stowaways of civil war
The stowaways of civil war

The first two lines seem fine if a bit hat obsessed. It could work if this is, indeed, about a broken relationship. The telltale hat as a breaking point is intelligible. But then…what? What hats are for? During a civil war? Ooookay.

I believe Joan was quoted as saying that she didn’t understand what it was about but it was pretty. I endorse that view! Though I don’t find it super pretty. It’s fine.

The video seems to be a missed opportunity. There’s something off about the choreography (the shadows and light seem clashing). I can’t really see the dancers, which is a shame since what I can see looks good.

It reminds me of my fantasy of having dynamic video mapping onto dancers. It also reminds me that the technical challenges are one thing and the artistic ones another.

Sunday Baking: Bread, Cake, and Thou

This 1 hour bread recipe is working out great. This week, I shifted to 3 cups brown, 2.5 cups white bread flour and threw in some extra gluten. I also super proofed the yeast. And I shaped rolls instead of big loaves.

These were amazing fresh out of the oven. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

The crumb is quite good. The crust has softened some but still remains nice. I did the water in the catch pan trick.

I also made a pineapple upside cake for a student’s birthday:

They are so easy and yummy I don’t know why I don’t make them more often. I use a cast iron frying pan which is hard for me to flip, but I don’t like my other pans. Maybe my no hole springform would work.

I was gonna bake two or three other things but I’m sick and super tired. So that’s enough!

This Week In Zoe News #12: More Quiet

Argh…borked the numbering for several weeks 🙂 3 months of updates!

Not much at all this week. There’s a new Whistlevideo (for Joe Henry’s “Civil War”). I need to see it again before I get it, I think. It’s not having the punch that “The President Sang Amazing Grace” had, but no surprise.

Grace Birnstengel for nextavenue:

The allotted final project, Whistle Down the Wind, is Baez’s first record since 2008’s Day After TomorrowWhistle Down the Wind is a collection of interpretations of songs by Tom Waits, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Josh Ritter and others. Baez told The Times it’s partially in response to the present moment, politically and otherwise — an example being her cover of Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang Amazing Grace” about the 2015 mass shooting in Charleston, S.C. An eight-month-long world tour will accompany the release;

Kevin Bryan for Messanger Newspapers:

The contents find her searching for a glimmer of hope in troubled times as this protest singer par excellence tackles songs penned by luminaries such as Tom Waits and Mary Chapin Carpenter, although the undisputed stand-out track is “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” Zoe Mulford’s stunning reflection on the tragic 2015 shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ostrava (via Google Translate):

American singer-songwriter Zoe Mulford then composed the song The President Sang Amazing Grace on the expression of admiration for Obama’s peaceful forgiveness. “No words could express what had to be said. So, that day, the president was singing Amazing Grace, “Joan Baez sounds like a commendation to meditation, and it’s not hard to think that the stronger song we’ve been hearing from her for years.

Update: Folk DJ Charts

Zoe doesn’t appear on the March charts, but Whistle is tied for number 1 album and “President” is the number 1 song (with 26 plays).


Maybe I am? By “sick” I mean “undergoing an infection driven physiological shift”. I’ve been so tired, so early that it seems unusual. Zoe was sick earlier in the week. I’ve had a bit of throat irritation (Zoe had a bad sore throat). There’s been a bit of phlegm. Today, I walked home a bit early and thought I was going to collapse along the way. It wasn’t as bad as one time last year when I thought I was going to have to lie down on the sidewalk, but it bore some resemblance.

I’m hoping it’s a transient infection, but of course it could be the mysterious thing plaguing me for quite some time now. Since that tends to fluctuate, either way I can reasonable hope to feel better soon.

Zoe news tomorrow…