Online Journal — 2017

Saturday, December 30 2017

Microsoft’s WIndows 10 Creator’s Update, which recently came out, added a nifty feature to the Photos app: the ability to quickly make short videos like the one above. I may use this feature more frequently. I like it!

Thursday, October 2 2017

All of the lead sheets played by the house band at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. This band (The Brothers Forbes) were, according to this link to a history site (Brothers Forbes from Victoria), the house band at the Empress. They then moved (for higher pay) to the Strathcona Hotel up the street, where they remained for about 40 years.The music was given to me yesterday by Douglas College and I swear it will be played again! Will fit in nicely with my project to play music for the old folks.
Sunday, April 30 2017
I have been sick as a dog for the past six days. But now, on the seventh day, I am absolutely well again! Except for a tendency to cough every now and again. But I feel GREAT! That wonderful feeling when your body has kicked the cold bugs out of your system and everything is firing on all cylindersHere’s a picture of all of the medicine I’ve taken over the past week (we replenished our supply yesterday).I stayed indoors most of the time; cancelled all of my appointments. Tried to get some fresh air now and then but could only manage one-half an hour walking before pooping out.Sleep did not come at all. One week with practically no sleep is brutal! Every time I started to drift off I’d be woken by something or other: a racking cough with a mind of its own; a terrible gagging reflex as mucus slipped down my throat; feelings of suffocation with mucus in my lungs. Even sharp, stinging, puncture-like sensations in an eyelid, occasionally, when I rolled over onto my pillow. Not nice.Last night I slept well. Not completely through the night–I still woke up three times. But in-between each waking moment there were wonderful periods of deep, restorative sleep. Woke up with a mild headache, but despite that an underlying pleasant sensation of health and presence of mind.If my poor body’s condition was hard to bear–for example–my coughing was so bad, so strong and uncontrolled, that even a mild cough in the daytime brought muscular sensations of mild pain to my back, chest, and stomach (because those muscles had been so strongly strained in the uncontrolled coughing fits of the evenings)–my mind’s condition was even harder to bear. Because in addition to the dulling of its usual acuity in perception and cognition cause by the illness, the medicines I took further impaired its ability.Anti-histamines were chiefly to blame. I hope I didn’t offend anyone in social media by being short or rude or patronizing.

Tuesday, April 25 2017

Sitting in my easy chair, sipping Neo-Citran and trying to get over a cold. A few days ago I did some yard work. When I need to sweep the porch or clean the sidewalk or gather leaves together I use an electric blower. Usually I put on a mask–a respirator–to protect myself from the bacteria and viruses and mold spores that lie on the ground. But this time I forgot, and blew a bunch of shit up into my nose and throat

Of course I realized my mistake and put on the respirator, but it was too late. By the end of the day I knew I was going to be fighting a cold, and sure enough, I’ve been fighting it for a few days now. Last night was pretty bad, with a sore throat and mucus. Hopefully that will have been the worse of it.

Yesterday I printed out as many of Freewrite entries as I could find in my email inbox. There were about six of them. I punched holes in the printouts and put them in a three-ring binder.

Today, sitting around, recuperating, I found an IBM Watson-based personality analyzer that accepts text and deduces personality traits. You need several thousand words for it to work properly and what better source of words than Freewrite entries?

This is the second time I’ve done this. Did it for the first time about a year ago. At that time, it told me I was empathetic. This time, same thing. But this time I looked a little more closely at some of the dimensions that scored lowly. I think there was a dimension of gregariousness, or outgoing-ness, for which I scored 2%.

Might be an idea to do this personality inventory once a year, and to keep track of any changes in personality.

Of course it would be possible to game that system by intentionally changing the sort of things one would write. We’ll see. Since Freewriting doesn’t have an agenda, the words you write are likely to be consistent. Rather, to consistently and reliably reflect a certain frame of mind.

Meanwhile, I’m plugging away on my arrangements. The first time I cried “finished” they were not, in fact, finished. They were more in a rough draft state. Now, as I review each one, I see much work to do, and each arrangement is taking me at least a day to revise.

Having store-bought arrangements to refer to has helped me standardize certain forms or conventions of notation. For example, there is something called an “Ossia staff” which is a smaller staff typically placed above the piano part. This Ossia staff contains the singer’s part (assuming there is one).

Because I didn’t know about Ossia staff, the first time I wrote the arrangements I didn’t use one. And now that I’m aware of it, I need to go through each arrangement, adding an Ossia staff to the piano part. It does make the piano part (and the score) look more professional.

And whereas the first time I arranged the tunes I tried to keep the score and parts similar in structure to the original Combo-ork style, now I am abandoning that style in favor of styles more conventionally-used, which should make reading the charts easier for the players.

Well, that’s about 15 minutes.
Saturday, April 1 2017

Saturday, March 25 2017
A cup of coffee, a quiet practice room , music stands, and a trumpet. That’s where I am right now, at 1:45 PM, sipping the coffee and remembering the day until this moment.
A simple breakfast this morning of yoghurt, coffee, and juice. Slept badly last night; woke with a sore throat. But by the time breakfast was over around 8:30 AM I felt fine, so walked to the gym. Along the way was struck by the green color of new shoots growing out of bramble branches as the sun shone through the shoots. So I took a photo and posted it on Instagram.

A post shared by Ian Robbins (@robbins.i) on

Debated running outside, but heavy rains last night left puddles here and there, so decided to remain indoors for my workout.
Had a good workout. I do 36 minutes on an elliptical and cover the floor in sweat; then 40 minutes on a treadmill. My heart rate was up to 154 bpm at one point (not for long). I do this cardio to keep my heart strong in case I ever have another SVT. A bad Supra Ventricular Tachycardia can push my heart rate over 180 for about 20 or 30 minutes, so I like to feel that I can take the exertion, should I need.
But I don’t have SVTs very often, and I can usually stop them through mind-control (much to the amazement of one doctor who witnessed the event).
On the way home noticed a hedgehog on the grass near a bus stop, then noticed he was the pet of a young Philippine couple, so I asked them if I might take a photograph of their pet. They said yes, so I did.

A post shared by Ian Robbins (@robbins.i) on

Then home for lunch. Charlotte heated up some delicacies from Ikea. Swedish potato pancakes and another Swedish entre comprised of potato, broccoli, cheese, onion, and something to hold it together. They were both delicious, and satisfying, despite not seeming to occupy much real estate on the plate.
Then off to the store for groceries. Safeway had whole Sockeye salmon for sale at a good price ($1 a pound). Sockeye season is in late July, which puts the age of this fish (since being caught) at eight months. The scales were not all silvery–what I could see of them, through the frost, so we bought only one fish, reasoning that if it wasn’t that great then oh well; wouldn’t have lost that much.
I bought white wine and beer while Charlotte continued to shop for food. Budweiser beer has a promotion on in which they include a free beer glass with every case of 24 beer. The glass has an electronic light in the base, and when you attach your cell phone to the glass via bluetooth, when a hockey team scores a goal your glass lights up. It occurred to me that it might be possible to write another app that would enable you to turn the light on at will. With the app supplied by Budweiser (available on the Google Play store) you can connect your phone to about a dozen of these glasses.
When I was on the treadmill, earlier in the day, I was thinking about these glasses, and imagined handing out one glass to each member of a jazz combo and telling them to use that glass while on their break. When I wanted to call them back to the bandstand I could signal their need to return by activating that feature on an app I would have created for the purpose of illuminating each glass.

Thursday, March 16 2017
I wonder what Michelle is doing right now. OK, that’s weird. Why would I be wondering that?
OK, let’s think about something else.
Jazz Ensemble. Improvisation. Preparing for the summer: busking, playing in a small ensemble, playing with The Playtime Band. Playing in church.
Need to practice my scales, get those under my fingers and make them spinal.
What of my practice journal? Haven’t kept that up this week.
And then there’s the arrangements. Need to finish number 8 (I’d Climb The Highest Mountain). Could I finish it tonight? The slightest things throws me off: tonight a friend of my wife’s is visiting and that will probably interrupt the arranging.
Lots of clumping around upstairs.
Music stands, music stand lights, suspenders and suspender buttons. The logistics of setting up and tearing down. Publicity. The web site; the business card; the pop-up banner.
The PA System: now I need a stand and a foot-switch.
A list of retirement homes. A database, if you will.
Must check out that government grant.
It’s not that weird, really, to consider Michelle, given I confided all of my hopes and schemes for performing with small jazz combos in her. In my cognitive space, she is very near anything I consider musically.
Concert Band: must begin practicing every song in program order and visualizing the experience of performing, per “The Inner Game…” I wonder if The Inner Game of Music is available on KOBO?
Changing the subject: how’s the shipping progress on that order I placed last week for “Singin’ with the Jazz Combo” coming along? Must look into that too.
Remember back in university days…early university days. A course in how to study…the example given for the matter of confronting and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles–obstacles comprised of lofty goals–was the modern American business executive. A study cited that followed these captains of industry and the chief conclusion drawn: to finish a large project, break it down into achievable chunks. SMART goals, as they spoke of later (in this century).

Another Tuesday (February 28) at 12:15 PM PM
Completed another arrangement. Normally I’d show it to my teacher. I’d be proud of it, but also anxious to see how it might be received. And who knows whatever went through her mind; in hindsight I see how misguided I was in thinking I knew. For a look at it, head over to the Musical Gifts page and scroll to the bottom. This will be the last arrangement in this series I’ll post on this website. The remaining 14 will be found in a secret facebook group (which anyone will be welcome to join if they contact me).

Tuesday, February 21 2017, 12: 15 PM
Back into Arbans! I’ve dipped my toes into Arbans before but never really been held to account for it. Not that anyone except myself could hold me to account: I’m not blaming anyone for my lack of progress. But this time I am holding myself more to account, and with dedication and an intention to follow through on every exercise (with Lou), so that nothing escapes scrutiny. Been working on the exercises below all week, and will continue to do so for the next month or so, at which point I’ll have another lesson.

Tuesday, February 14 2017, 12: 15 PM
Been practicing trumpet all morning, trying to step up my practice routine now I’ll be studying with Louis Ranger in Victoria. I’ve been practicing a few hours now, every day, for about a week. Which is an improvement, for me.

But here it is, 12:15 again on a Tuesday afternoon, and I need to step away from the trumpet for a few hours to get myself together. So I’ll re-organize my web site. Always a pleasantly mindful thing to do. I’ll move my last two posts (they were about creating roadmaps for the song-gems book, as well as drum and bass parts) to the Musical Gifts page.

I think I’ll head down to the gym right now. Maybe change my routines up a bit. I’m back on facebook, by the way. Not sure if I’ll keep that profile active…but there are friends who post things about their lives on fb and it’s nice to learn what’s new.

Tuesday, February 7 2017, 12: 15 PM
I’ve finished the Lead Sheet books in my “Musical Gifts” project! Another milestone. Seven books of lead sheets, with 46 pages each. The next arranging milestone will be to write piano, bass and drum parts. I’ll begin with the drum parts, because bassists and pianists will more likely be able to work from lead sheets. And the drum part will set the tempo and the feel of each song. Although…I should probably start looking now for rhythm section players who can play from lead sheets, the sooner to get rehearsals going.

I’ve also created a new page named “Playlists” which will hold the sound recordings of the pieces I’m working on. I did this because the “Musical Gifts” page was taking too long to load, because of the way web browsers load sound files in a web page. In the future I may split this Playlists page into sub-pages, if I have more than one playlist to share.

Yesterday I received a retro-looking microphone via courier. I’ll need to find a chrome-plated microphone stand for it, then consider a PA system. Here’s a picture of the microphone:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 12: 15 PM PM
Here’s that time again. Been working this morning on lead sheets for the “Musical Gifts” project. Now starting warm-up exercises in advance of working on my parts in Jazz Ensemble at 2:30 PM. Thought of a possible name for the ensemble that might share their musical gifts: The Pink Poppies. Just came to me yesterday while doing cardio in the gym. Saw someone walk by with a tattoo of poppies, and remembered the pink poppies I once saw growing in a small village on Vancouver Island. They were nice.

codicil: maybe “The Pink Lions” would also work. Here’s a photo I took this morning at sunrise through our kitchen window:

Sunday, January 29, 2017 8:43 AM
A friend of mine once asked me what I wanted to say to the world, via the medium of the web. I’m still not absolutely sure. But there are things I’d like to say, and a website is a good medium for expressing ideas, opinions, facts, observations, etc. Therefore I’m re-organizing my website to allow for growth of expression. As I infer subject categories from my stream of consciousness, I will create pages or posts to organize and express those thoughts.

Tuesday, January 24 2017, 12: 15 PM PM
And I’m ruminating. Here’s an image of page 1 of an arrangement my father wrote in the 1940s, when he was a US Marine and arranger/leader of the White House dance band.

Thanks to Fred Stride for this!

Tuesday, January 17 2017, 12: 15 PM

In Victoria, having a great old time

Tuesday, January 10 2017, 12: 15 PM
“Is there not something profoundly intimate and affirming in the simple use of another’s name and in the experience of hearing our own on the lips of a friend?”

from Jesus, the Prince of Peace and How He Changed The World: Athlon Publications, p. 104.