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Sheldon Brown's Journal

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January 1, 2000

Well, my plan to create a localized Y2K event by opening the main fuse of the house I was partying at was vetoed, but a good time was had by all anyway. I sang The Ballad of Harbo and Samuelson to general approbation. This is an epic song about the first two guys to row across the Atlantic in a dory, back in 1896, with the rousing chorus:

We'll see you in France, or we'll see you in Heaven,
Cried Harbo and Samuelson, out in the bay.
Two hardy young oystermen off for adventure,
And no one believed they could row all the way.

January 8, 2000

Mass. Association of Music Teachers Northeastern Senior District concert, Waltham. This is the first year that George has been selected for this prestigious concert. He played with the symphonic band, first chair second trombone. This was a surprisingly good concert all around, with a very large chorus, a jazz band, and symphony orchestra as well as the band George was in.

January 11-20, 2000

New computers! we got a new iMac for the shop, and an iBook for me to use (I'm using it right now!) Putting together a LAN at the shop, with wireless AirPort connections to the hub. A few teething problems, including having to reformat the iBook hard drive after loading all my stuff into it. I actually lost a sizable chunk of this journal, and am reconstructing it on January 20th.

Winter finally arrived last week, with snow and temperatures down to 1 Fahrenheit...brrrr! It is snowing as I write, with a couple of inches on the ground.

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January 20, 2000

Book: Timeline, by Michael Crichton 1999

I've not read any other Crichton, though I've seen the film of Jurassic Park. I feel no great urge to read his other books, but I'm always a sucker for a time-travel story, so I read this one. This one has a bunch of yuppie scientists sent back to 14th century France, where they get tangled up in one of the skirmishes of the Hundred Years War. I enjoyed it, but it didn't knock my socks off.

January 24, 2000

Book: Soldier of Light, by John De Lancie and Tom Cool, 1999

I couldn't resist picking this up at the library, because I'm a big fan of John De Lancie as an actor. He is best known for the character "Q" in the Star Trek series, which he plays with incomparable charisma. This is a middling-good sci-fi novel, though a bit mystical for my taste. An ancient entity who lives in the magma below the Earth's crust awakens and decides to exterminate humanity by stimulating ESP in the general population. The protagonists are a pair of brothers, and the wife and autistic daughter of one of them. They are well drawn, interesting characters, but the novel goes off into lots of descriptions of psychic battles and alliances, not quite my cup of tea.

January 29, 2000

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra

Sir Simon Rattle was in town to conduct Dvorák's Golden Spinning Wheel, Bartók's First Piano Concerto (with Peter Donohoe), and the Brahms Symphony #2.

The Dvorák is an old favorite of mine, but, curiously, the B.S.O. had never played it before! The performance didn't knock my socks off, but was technically fine. The Bartók is not among my favorites (though the 3-rd Piano Concerto is.) I've never been a great fan of the Brahms symphonies in general, nor the 2nd in particular. Rattle played it well enough, though, again, I found it less than inspring. Partly I was distracted by the problems I've been wrestling with in getting my iBook set up, so my concentration was less intense than I would have wished.

Tova celebrated her birthday a couple of days late with a party. She did a murder-mystery, which she scripted herself. George was the victim, so after he got offed, he repaired to the kitchen to make the pasta. After dinner, he re-appeared as the Detective.

January 30, 2000

Book: The Road to Mars, by Eric Idle, 1999

A not-bad comedy science-fiction book. The main characters are an Abbott & Costello-like comedy team, kicking around from gig to gig in the Asteroid Belt, hoping to make the big time on Mars. They have an android (David Bowie 4.5 model) who is fascinated and baffled by humor, and undertakes a rigorous study of this non-android phenomenon. Throw in a bunch of interplanetary terrorists, and the result is pretty entertaining, though not to be compared with Douglas Adams.

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February 3, 2000

Book: Longitude, by Dava Sobel, 1995

This is a book that came highly recommended to me by a couple of people, but I found it a bit disappointing. It is the story of the quest for a way to determine longitude at sea, primarily focussing on clockmaker John Harrison, the first to make a usable marine chronometer.

In the wake of a disastrous multiple shipwreck caused by faulty navigation, the British government had established a Board of Longitude with authority to pay a large fortune to whomever could come up with a practical way to determine longitude at sea. The key to determining longitude is to know what time it is, and the more accurately you know the time, the more accurately you can plot your east/west position.

The main thrust of the effort was to find an astronomical technique to determine the time. The first way to do this was by checking the positions of the satellites of Jupiter. This was highly accurate, but it was not generally possible to see these satellites clearly enough from the deck of a ship.

The more promising astronomical approach was to check the position of the Moon against the "fixed stars." For most of the 18th century, this was not practical because adequate star maps were not available, and it was difficult to measure the angular distance from the Moon to the reference star. Toward the end of the century, suitable star charts had been compiled and published, and the invention of the quadrant (and later, the sextant) permitted accurate observation) but it still required about 4 hours of tricky calculation to actually derive the longitude from a Lunar fix.

Harrison's attempt to find a technical fix by making a more accurate clock was derided and despised by the astronomical establishment, who controlled the Board of Longitude, and, though he jumped through all of the hoops they held up before him, he was denied his justly earned reward until he was well into his 70s.

I would have enjoyed this book more if there had been a bit more detail about the construction of Harrison's chronometers, and, preferably, some illustrations of the various clever mechanisms that he invented. These mechanisms are referred to in passing, but not described in any useful detail.

February 4, 2000

Princess Ida

Got the word today that Tova and I will be in the chorus for the M.I.T.G.A.S.P production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Princess Ida in April. Shows will be: April 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 at 8pm April 9 & 16 at 2pm

I recently discovered that my paternal grandmother, Ida Harris Brown was born in the same year that Princess Ida hit the boards...thus, it is quite probable that her name was inspired by this character. I do know that my father was a G & S fan, and would be surprised if previous generations of my family weren't as well.

February 6, 2000

Took George in to B.U. this morning to audition for the Tanglewood institute. It would be great for him to get to go there. He did a movement from the Rimski-Korsakov trombone concerto, sounded really good; also Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, which sounded a bit burbly.

I met Tova at M.I.T. for the first rehearsal for Princess Ida. A number of familiar faces from Iolanthe, should be a good show. So far, however, I'm the entire bass section.

Film: Topsy Turvy

I've been looking forward to this Gilbert & Sullivan biopic for several months. I gotta say it was worth the wait! Terrific film, wonderfully fleshed out, great sets, very convincing behind-the-scenes look at the Savoy. Highly recommended!

February 8, 2000

I blew off my _Princess Ida_ rehearsal to attend the annual "Bikers' Banquet" at the Taqueria Mexico in Waltham, Mass. This is an annual shindig for bicycle mechanics, reps etc. A grand time was had by all, with much hilarity and Carta Blanca. I won a Grip Shift umbrella in the raffle.

February 12, 2000

George's Jazz band, Swing Thing, at the Harvey Finstein School of Music. I made a video and minidisc recording, but have been having technical problems with the portable MiniDisc recorder, and it at first appeared that the recording was lost. Fortunately, I remembered a wonderful MiniDisc tech page by Peter Raven, which had the information I needed to repair the damaged disc. I used a tiny Aiwa stereo mike for the MiniDisc, and also made a video recording using my older Radio Shack stereo mike (the video soundtrack would have been my backup if the MD failed completely.)

February 13, 2000

Book: The Martian Race, by Gegory Benford, 1999

A fairly plausible tale of the first mission to Mars, in 2018.

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February 18, 2000

My newest toy is a CD writing drive for my iBook. I've wanted one of these for quite a while, finally got one. It turns out to be trickier to use than I would have expected, but I'm beginning to get the hang of it.

February 19, 2000

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra

Bernard Haitink's performance of the Mahler Symphony #7 was one of the highlights of the '99-'00 BSO season.

February 26, 2000

Concert: Boston Symphony Orchestra

This was one of the half-dozen most moving musical experiences of my life. Seiji Ozawa led a transcendant performance of the Britten War Requiem, with Christine Goerke, soprano, Ian Bostridge, tenor, and Thomas Quasthoff bass-baritone. Throughout the piece I was in a constant state of almost painful exaltation, with tears brimming in my eyes at the beauty and pathos of this magnificent work, magnificently performed by all hands. This was definitely the highlight of the season.

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November-December, 1998 April-May, 1975


The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
The Martian RaceGregory Benford2/13/00
The Road to MarsEric Idle1/30/00
LongitudeDava Sobel2/2/00


The overall film list has been moved to a separate page.

Films reviewed on this page:
Topsy TurvyFebruary 6, 2000


The overall music list has been moved to a separate page.

Music reviewed on this page:
February 26, 2000 B.S.O.,Seiji Ozawa, Christine Goerke, Ian Bostridge, Thomas QuasthoffBritten: War Requiem
February 19, 2000 B.S.O., Bernard HaitinkMahler: Symphony #7
February 12, 2000 George and his band at Harvey Finstein School of Music
January 29, 2000 B.S.O., Sir Simon Rattle
Peter Donohoe, Piano
Dvorák: The Golden Spinning Wheel,
Bartók: Piano Concerto #1, Brahms: Symphony #2
January 8, 2000 George on TromboneN.E. Regional Senior District Festival


November 29, 2002Lorraine BraccoThe Graduate
November 23, 2001Helen Mirren, Ian McKellnThe Dance of Death-August Strindberg
September 30, 2000Tova/Black Box Theatre, Cornell UniversityThe Maids-Jean Genet
May 30, 2000Kelsey Grammer/Colonial TheatreMacbeth
May 26, 2000The Huntington Theatre Co.King Hedley II
September 3, 1999The Publick TheatreNine
August 21, 1999Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sonata
August 13, 1999Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You
May 22-29Newton South/North High SchoolsRichard III
December 18, 1998Newton North High SchoolThe Bone Violin, May Flies
November 12, 1998Newton North High SchoolTo Kill a Mockingbird


November 21-24, 2007Plantation, Florida
September 25-28, 2007Las Vegas, Nevada
August 18-25, 2007Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
November 22-26, 2006Plantation, Florida
September 25-28, 2006Las Vegas (Interbike)
June 10-20, 2006Santa Cruz, California
May 5-7, 2006Aurora, Indiana
November 23, 2005Plantation, Florida
September 26-29, 2005Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada
August 26-28, 2005'Bentride 2005, Bath, N.Y.
July 21-24, 2005Family Reunion, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
April 29, 2005Cirque de Cyclisme, Greensboro, N.C.
February 16, 2005Indianapolis
November 24, 2004Plantation, Florida
October 8, 2004Santa Cruz, California
October 4, 2004Las Vegas, Nevada
June 8, 2004France, England
December 22, 2003Halifax, Nova Scotia
November 27, 2003Florida
October 31, 2003Potomac, Maryland
October 10, 2003Las Vegas, Nevada
September 21, 2003New York, N.Y.
November 27-30, 2002New York, N.Y.
October 8-13, 2002Evanston, Illinois
October 4-8, 2002Las Vegas, Nevada
July 3-9, 2002Canso, Nova Scotia
May 24-27, 2002Long Island, New York
November 21-24, 2001New York City
October 16-19, 2001Cape Cod, Massachusetts
September 29-October 3, 2001Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)
June 16-23, 2001Nags Head, North Carolina
October 5-14, 2000Evanston, Illinois
September 30-October 2, 2000Ithaca, New York
June 22-25, 2000Urbanna, Virginia
October 7-13, 1999Chicago/Evanston, Illinois
August 19-28, 1999Ithaca, New York
August 12-13, 1999Ithaca, New York
July 23-25, 1999Bridgeton, Maine
November 25-28, 1998Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1988-89France, England
1980Yucatan, Mexico
1975England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey

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