Friday, March 9, 2018

A Glimpse Into Grandeur - Carter Johnson and the UBC Symphony Orchestra

It is no small feat. Choosing Prokofiev's monster Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 to enter UBC's annual piano concerto competition is an unequivocally all-or-nothing decision. There is no such thing as a "just okay" performance of this piece. The risk will either guarantee your success, or you will crash and burn in its grips.

Tonight, I listened to Carter Johnson of Campbell River, BC and a 4th year student at the UBC School of Music, conquer this tremendous piece of music. As I watched him move to the pulse of the orchestra around him, it felt akin to witnessing a rare manifestation of the young Van Cliburn -- invited to an overwhelming and expansive Russian musical environment, only to tame it by his calming charisma and musical generosity. Johnson started his first notes, not turning internally into his own world with the piano keys, but intently watching the conductor for the entire length of the first musical segment -- perhaps his way of drawing himself into the symphonic collective. Then Johnson graced the piano with what felt like a never-ending slough of technical impossibilities. It was nothing short of breath-taking. The audience was bedazzled to the point that there was no choice but to break the code of silence between movements and offer an ovation of praise after the first movement. Johnson gave a brief nod of thanks, and then it was back to the business at hand -- the rest of this unforgiving and haunting repertoire.

I felt an immense rush of inspiration listening to this performance. It would stand up to any professional performance I have witnessed. It was not to be missed, and I'm so grateful to have made the decision to attend.

Johnson gave an encore that was the perfect dessert after the complex flavours we had just ingested . A fusion of contemporary classical and jazz-like stylings on Richard Rodgers' "My Favorite Things" was a delight to listen to and the "cool down" I needed to recover my emotional faculties.

The only response I have to this experience is, "I want more." This is a budding artist to follow. An already nationally accomplished musician, he has so much more to him than just his music. Of course, I found his Facebook page, appropriately using "postmilpianist" as his extension and "Liked" it right away. You may want to do the same.

I have to give a nod to the UBC Symphony Orchestra for overcoming the incredible challenge that is Prokofiev. It is not easy keeping pace with the tempo without letting it get away from you. My hats off to their conductor, Jonathan Girard, and guest conductor Jaelem Bhate, for a wonderful evening. If you have not attended a UBC Symphony Orchestra concert, for $8 tickets, I guarantee you will not find a better concert deal in town!

Click here to replay the Live Stream.
Not the same as being in the Chan Centre live, but a nice taste of what transpired tonight.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tracking Tesla

Alright so I went a little off the deep end. I'm so excited about owning a Tesla Model III that I get dizzy just thinking about it. My brother told me to start a blog just about Tesla and stop clogging up my "What I Love" blog with the same thing over and over. So I did.

So, sorry about pasting any followers with my sudden Tesla fanaticism. If you are kinda crazy about Tesla Motors like I've become, you can follow me there at my Tracking Tesla Blog.

Peace.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Something's Off about Citron's Shorting of $TSLA

I saw lots of buzz around this tweet yesterday:

After watching $TSLA stock go up for the last couple of weeks, it suddenly had a downturn yesterday. Well, not significant enough to cause any panic, but it did go down. And it returned back on the upswing again today. So much for trying to influence the market, Citron. One day of slight-but-not-so-much panic.

The thing is, Citron seems to be betting their short stocks on the fact that Tesla has had a problem supplying their demand in the past. I mean, it's possible that Tesla Motors may have some delays initially filling orders for the Model III when it comes time to ship (a lot is riding on their new gigawatt factories), and it wouldn't surprise me if there was a delay. But that's looking beyond this year.

While the Model III continues in development for now, this year, Tesla factories are focused on pumping out more Model S's and X's, and is increasing their output. Their aim is to once again double their production in the coming year. But even if they fall slightly short of that goal, there's no doubt that they WILL grow. The issue of the falcon doors on the Model X seem to settled now that they have gone with a different supplier. And the X's have started to show up at the buyers' doors. Whatever supply problem they had, they seemed to have weathered most of that storm and are back on track.

As for the Model III, there's no demand to fill yet. They don't go into production until late 2017, far after Citron's projection of a minus-$100 loss on each share. Maybe Citron's projection has merit for next year. But for this year, they are blowing their whistle way, WAY too early. I think they will be in for a big surprise.

I think Tesla stock owners know there'll be a ramp up in price leading to the Model III unveiling on March 31st. If Citron's trying to kill, or at least dampen, that upward trend, they are going to be in a losing battle this month. While $TSLA stock prices might go through a bit of a roller coaster after the announcement, I expect it to equalize shortly thereafter and return to its course upward.

Stock trading is a game, and we're trying to figure out who is reading it right. I'm not convinced yet that Citron has got it right. But what do I know, right? It's not like I'm an experienced trader. I'm just trying to do my homework and rooting for Tesla Motors to make a difference. So good luck, Citron. But for the sake of the future of sustainable transport, I hope it's not good...


Monday, February 22, 2016

Dear Elon Musk...

After months of reading up on Tesla and watching as many YouTube videos that I could find to get all the pros and cons of going fully electric for my next car, I finally got the chance to test drive a Model S today. It was an experience I'll never forget -- and it was everything that I had hoped it would be.



I'm writing this post because I believe I represent the type of car buyer who is eagerly awaiting the release of the more affordable Model III, and I want to explain my mindset when I shop for a car based on my limited income.

I am prototypically middle-class with a mortgage, and a full-time job with another part-time job on the side. I try to balance between making smart life choices while still wanting to enjoy the comforts of modern technological advancements. I have to troubleshoot through any purchase that's about $500 or more to make sure it's workable within my below-50K annual income. I don't have the luxury to be frivolous because I don't want to get myself into debt trouble. So when I shop for a car, I do it with the intention of paying off a debt. For me, this means years of planning ahead, making financial sacrifices like holding off on vacations in order to put money away in a savings account, and continuing for years afterwards to pay off the remainder of the debt. I'm happy with my life. I don't feel burdened for lack of money. But this still demands a vigilant eye on my daily spending.

If I decide to buy a brand new Model III, I am breaking two rules I've always held to when buying a car: (1) never buy a brand new car (why pay $5000+ for just a year's worth of use out of your car), and (2) never buy a first generation model. From this standpoint, investing in the Model III, sight-unseen, is an unprecedented risk for me. But I am willing to do it because there's something here that I believe in. I am not an engineer. God didn't wire me that way. So I can't build my own alternate form of transportation to reduce emissions. I need people like you to create an opportunity for someone like me to participate in. Even if electric cars are not the perfect solution, I think this is a sensible place to start towards a better future. It's a first step towards a massive move towards sustainable energy and I want to be a participant, not a by-stander.

There's one problem. I can't afford for this experiment to go bad. I don't have the financial resources for an immediate back up plan. This is it. If I buy a Tesla, it either makes the difference that I'm hoping for, or I crash and burn with it. This is by far the biggest financial risk I've taken in my life -- to put down my life savings on something that remains unproven. The bottom line is this: This chance I'm taking on the Model III must pull through. If it takes an extra year to make sure that it will work flawlessly, then do it. I don't care about broken promises on delivery times if it means delivering a better product. I just ask that you give me something that I can be proud of, not have to give an excuse for.

The Model S that I test drove today is more than just a great car -- it's a work of art. I am deeply impressed. And that gives me some hope. In fact, driving an electric car actually felt guilt-free. I mean, seriously, I didn't even know I actually felt guilty driving a gasoline car! So my expectations have been raised for the Model III, and I'm both nervous and excited.

I love what you are doing. It's fun to watch as your plans unfold and I've definitely turned into a fan. As for the Model III, I leave it in your hands now, Mr. Musk. I want to look back on this decision to buy a Tesla as the one of the best decisions I made in life. Please don't let me down.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Reheat Pizza

When you live on your own, ordering pizza inevitably means leftovers. Of course, many say they love the taste of cold pizza, but I say that's an acquired taste out of necessity.

Want to have warm leftover pizza in minutes?
Put your pizza slices in your toaster oven and TOAST THEM!
http://fashiontribes.typepad.com/fashion/2006/01/give-rays-origi.html
I place mine on a sheet of parchment paper (unless you have a pizza stone like in the picture), and set the toaster oven to just over medium toast (5 out of 8 levels of toasting) and they come out toasty hot! It's possible that it may not heat all the way through if you have a really old toaster oven, but I've never had a problem. Then again, I use the rolls royce of toaster ovens: the Breville Smart Oven. Still it's worth a try in yours!

The cheese will melt and get stringy again and may drip if you put it directly on the rack. Personally, I try not to let anything drip to the bottom of my toaster oven, but that's just preference.

I've been using this trick for years now. I hope this helps you enjoy your leftover pizza with less hassle! ENJOY!