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2006-05-31 - 8:41 a.m.

report of the weekend

The end of the semester is near, but the workload remains piled high, between finishing up grading and finishing up revised manuscripts. Nevertheless, the light at the end of the tunnel is very near.

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and was a strange combination of busy and relaxed. Friday night, I took K to Avery Fisher to hear his first and only performance of the NY philharmonic with Lorin Maazel, performing a Berlioz Viola piece (Harry in Italy?) and Mahler's 1st Symphony. The Berlioz was entirely new to me (and truthfully it was a strange mix between a symphony and a concerto). But K and I both know and love the Mahler - I've performed it before, and knowing every detail of a symphony makes it all the more wonderful when it is beautifully performed. We were sitting in the fifth row, which meant we could practically see Maazel's nose hairs, but the winds, sadly, were entirely obscured by the violas. Nevertheless, I did come away with a greater appreciation for the viola...

We had a perfect view of the Double Bass soloist in the 3rd Movement - perfect view for a perfect solo performance of Frere Jacques, except for that one moment when the person in front of us dropped his/her bag loudly on the floor. ugh. The world of recorded music lulls one easily into forgetting the charms of a live audience. New York is an especially difficult audience because the people are so nervous - it's hard for nervous people to sit still. K is convinced that people come to Avery Fisher to practice coughing.

But the performance was thrilling, and I'm glad that we have done it. Those fluent in German who wish to read K's take on the experience - complete with the adventure of the smuggled vegetable wrap wrapped in the latest edition of the Onion magazine - can send me a note for the link.


Saturday was supposed to be our evening to view the new movie by former VP Al, but the semester finally caught up with me and a throat infection loomed over me the entire day. I felt terrible and canceled, and instead devoted my reduced energies to online Sudoku training when I wasn't staring blankly into space.

I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to see this film, because I have always been impressed with Al. Back in the early 90s he arranged regular informal lunches with the top global change scientists at our institute so that he truly understood the science behind climate change. I remember hearing an interview with him on the radio back in 1993-1994 and wondering which scientist was being interviewed about global warming - his knowledge was so complete and thorough. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was a senator who had done his homework! I read today in a Vancouver newspaper that 68% of all Canadians do not know the details of the Kyoto protocol. I'm certain that the number is comparable in the USA. I'm pleased that Al has come to life on this issue, with the goal of making the details known to the public - and I read yesterday that American attendance at the premier weekend was amazingly high.

I'd like to continue with a full description of Monday night - my first and only Mets game (I'm a St Louis fan - attendance at a Mets game is a rare and surprising event). But coffee awaits me, and Lyra has just emerged from her hiding place behind the stove to demand some food. She looks rather proud, I think she now fancies herself 'adventure cat.' And my paper revisions await me.

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