#37: Improvisational Nocturne


I promised myself I’d get to bed before 1 AM this evening. This week has been a string of late nights preparing presents and dishes for family functions. I guess it didn’t happen. My wife went to bed early feeling under the weather. I started to get a little moody as I am apt to do from time to time. I decided to work through it at the keyboard. I also decided to record it. And now here I am posting it online. I’ve been improvising on the piano since high school. I was fortunate enough to attend one with a music wing and dedicated sound proof practice rooms. Though I played saxophone at the time, I often would slip into one of those rooms and tinker on the piano whenever I could steal a minute… during lunch, after school, etc. It was a good stress reliever. A few years ago I bought a small digital “virtual studio” (this was pre-Garage Band days) to start recording some of my compositions, though I use that term loosely. Most of what I create is very ephemeral. I have no background in reading piano music. I doubt I could reproduce anything I play. I only hit record when the mood strikes, capturing only a fraction of what flows through me. I’m okay with that, though. It’s all about the moment of creation and the creative spark. I don’t have much background in audio engineering either, so this recording is pretty raw. It was recorded in one take. No overdubs or edits. I transferred it into Garage Band, slapped a small amount of reverb on it, converted it to AAC and uploaded it here. So if you find yourself in a bit of a mood tonight or tomorrow or sometime this holiday season, this track is dedicated to you.

Holiday Cookies 2009


Yes, second post in two days. I’m making a conscious effort to resume blogging. Twitter has made it much too easy to neglect this site.

Inspired by daily photo postings by an old friend which often involve food, I decided to post a few photos of the holiday cookies Jennifer and I made this past week.

The recipes come from the December issue of Sunset magazine. We chose these recipies because we figured they’d be unique and tasty. We made a double batch of the Honey Caramel Nut Bars to share in various cookie exchanges.

Google Realtime Annoyance

Recently Google started inserting Twitter posts into the search results for current “trending topics”. Apparently they, along with Microsoft, paid a handsome sum to bring this “feature” to the masses. While I’m glad this has made Twitter profitable as I am a Twitter user myself, I find the animated display of tweets in the results very annoying. The last thing I want when trying to read through the results is an eye-catching distraction.

So to take the matter into my own hands, I figured out a relatively easy way to remove the animated elements from the page. In Firefox, you can set custom Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) rules for any web site in a file called userContent.css. The file is located in the chrome folder in your profile, the location of which depends on the platform.

Once you’ve located the userContent.css file, just add the following lines to block the display of the elements used for the real time results animation:

@-moz-document url-prefix(http://www.google.com/search) {
#rtr {display: none !important;}
#sb {display: none !important;}
#rth {display: none !important;}

The first line indicates to which pages the CSS rules should be applied. The next lines block the display of the real time result (rtr) list, the scroll bar (sb), and pause link in the real time header (rth). Unfortunately there is no ID value for the markup that includes the “Latest results for [search term] – ” portion. I suppose I could get fancy with following the hierarchy of tags from a specific parent element with an ID, but I figure it’s just as well to leave the link there in case I am interested in seeing those results.

After making the change, you will need to restart the browser for it to take effect.

Apparently Safari also supports userContent.css files, though I’m not sure whether it supports site-specific rules.