Neat things

Evelyn and I went on a 15-mile walk into old town Alexandria last weekend.  We were hoping to see a concert and the fireworks, but we arrived in time only for the fireworks. However, we did stumble upon the music of Jamey Turner. He is an accomplished glass player with over 25 years of experience. Evelyn and I were drawn into the crowd that had materialized around him, and were curious about the ethereal sound he was making. Sixty glass goblets were strapped onto a hole-riddled table, each glass a different size, and each containing a partial amount of water. With deft use of a baster, Turner tuned his glasses to the desired pitch. The breadth of his musical knowledge was vast; he was familiar with many 18th century classical glass compositions by Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner, and he also knew ancient ethnic melodies from Korea, Hungary, China, and Peru.

During Mr. Turner’s performance, in which he gave many amusing anecdotes about his life and the study of his art, I was curious as to the purpose of three large wrenches he had brought. I asked, and he eagerly obliged my curiousity. Each wrench, he explained, was an instrument that accompanied a glass tune he knew. When suspended by a lanyard and struck with a small mallet, the wrench produces a tone superior to that of finely crafted bells (in the opinion of philharmonic percussionists). I was handed the largest wrench, a two-and-three-sixteenths, and was told, "Now that wrench there is a solo part." With only three seconds of training, I delved into an improv melody, which Evelyn describes as "crazy", striking the wrench in various locations to achieve different tones. Anyone who’s dropped a wrench on a workshop floor knows how well they ring!

We caught the fireworks shows in both DC and Alexandria this year. The DC fireworks were spectacular (then we went home and watched them twice more on PBS).

We also found another DC square marking stone, right outside my bank! Now I’ve seen four of them!

Evelyn has helped me playtest a geocaching-themed card game I have developed. The goal is to create a fun and simple game that adults and children can play, and I can leave free copies of it in geocaches. So far, it plays well, though there are few major decisions to be made. It has a lot of work to go, but we like playing it.

We attended services at Adat Shalom. They do liberal things in conservative ways. The service was almost entirely in Hebrew, and nearly every male attendee wore yarmulke and tallit. The services were a struggle, with a stimulating discussion on the afterlife that almost redeemed the tedium of the two hours of Hebrew readings. Evelyn and I felt very lost during the prayers. They had a nice oneg afterwards, in a cafeteria setting. Adat Shalom has strict rules about the kosher quality of any food served there, and Evelyn was pleased to see a mostly vegetarian palate. Overall, the congregants were very friendly and studious, and Evelyn senses that the community is very liberal (though not to a fault).

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