Blood donation in the Netherlands

Blood donation came up in a casual conversation with friends. I’ve done it a few times in China and UK. Now it’s time to do something good again! So I registered online, got a phone call for a check up appointment, and went there on 26/06/2017.

In the appointment, as usual, you have to fill out a form with all the questions pertaining to the quality of your blood (disease, travels, health issues, etc.). Everything was fine till this point but unfortunately my iron level was too low on that day (7.7/7.8). The doctor said I need to wait till 3 months later to come for a checkup again and donate blood. (Never happen in other countries!)

That’s also why I’m writing this post now! I got the notice 26/09/2017 and went there 27/09/2017. This time I passed the iron and blood pressure test barely (7.9/7.8). It was late after work (around 7:30pm) and I’m surprised by how many people were still there! Lots of good-hearted people in the country! Everyone was full of smiles šŸ˜€

The doctor very kindly suggested a cup of soup before the donation. Champignons flavour!

I walked out of there a little after 9pm. With cookies of course šŸ˜›

It’s funny the doctors are so different in blood donation. The procedures and equipments vary slightly too. Good to have the experience!

After blood giving, I know I shouldn’t move too much. But I still challenged myself to some sports (as always). I didn’t push myself too hard this time so it was ok.

Now two days later, I feel like there’s something working up in my brain that makes my thinking different from before the blood donation: calmer and even more active with new thoughts perhaps? It’s a funny contradictory feeling… And I’d say it’s a good thing!

Lots and lots of spinach now!

Haskell Symposium and FARM workshop

After the excitement and tiredness fromĀ ICFP, I didn’t know it could get better!

Lots of people from ICFP stayed for the rest of the days and new people joined in. The colocation with other workshops and symposiums made it different in comparison to ICFP: a lot more intensive with scheduling the sessions and balancing … (not everything’s filmed…)

The programmes:

https://www.haskell.org/haskell-symposium/2017/

http://functional-art.org/2017/

I heard I was lucky that there were two talks in the Haskell Symposium are about music (Algorithmic Music in Haskell (Invited Talk) and Well-Typed Music Does Not Sound Wrong (Experience Report) more on this paper later! Reading it for the reading club next Friday).

And I definitely enjoyed the Functional Pearls as well. Some of the talks I haven’t got a clue, but the application talks were much better.

I also went to a spontaneous workshop about data science in Haskell, some Functional High-Performance Computing and ML (the language) talks. Such a diversity field and community!

Of course, the last day of the whole at FARM was awesome! It definitely has a different vibe than ISMIR, but it’s always good to have diversity (just went to a diversity workshop on Monday, maybe more on this later). The common goal is to make it musically significant and intellectually stimulating!

Finally, the live coding concert. It was great to talk to many live coders including Alex Mclean, Neil C. Smith and Alexandra CƔrdenas. They were using Haskell and other languages in a very different and creative way. More experiments on that later on.

Ok, a few more things on my to-do list now… It never ends..

Oxford: a lucky day

After the ICFP and symposium + workshop week, I took one day to walk around Oxford. Absolutely loved it!

From the hotel outside the city centre, I ran and walked along the river in the morning. It was a Sunday. Lots of people were sporting.

The weather wasn’t great and I got lost because the foot path was closed in the middle. But it turned out to be lucky for me: wandering after getting lost led to the “Alice Shop”! (I wasn’t chasing a rabbit though :P)

Got a forever diary, tea bags and magnets from there. Then I realised I was also lucky that the weekend is the open door days in Oxford, even local people came to see the colleges and libraries (the one in trinity college is said to be first open to the public: collections from Henry VIII!)

While queuing for entering the library, I met a lady from the area who recommended me lots of places in Oxford. It was not a lie that people can make friends in queues!

It started to rain in the afternoon, so I mainly visited museums and book stores: there were so many of them! New and old, Oxford connects the past to the future…

 

SysMus 2017 and conferencing

https://sysmus17.qmul.ac.uk/

10th International ConferenceĀ of Students of Systematic Musicology

I must admit that it was bad on my part that I only knew this conference two weeks before it took place. I must have seen the posts on some mailing list about it, but I didn’t look into details probably because I didn’t think I’d have the luxury to go to a student musicology conference. I’m glad that I didn’t book my return flight too early and left myself a day in London. It’s always nice to visit QMUL again!

 

 

The conference was very nicely organised by students. The presenters are a good mix of master and PhD students. The are also professors in talk and panel. Some familiar faces from the MIR community as well.

The topics are much more about music content, meaning and education, etc.: full stack music! I enjoyed them a lot.

And it’s definitely a trend that virtual conferences are getting more and more popular. The conference was streamed on facebook (ICFP was on an Oxford livestream service, also virtual presentations in CSMC)! But one have to register to get access of to join the facebook group for viewing and asking questions.

After two weeks of conferencing, I definitely gained an enormous amount: knowledge, movitation, connection, etc. At the same time, the comfortable routines would break during conferences. Ā Can’t say it’s a good or bad thing, but I’m understanding it better and better what is the most efficient way of doing things given a context. Might not be bad to join some conferences virtually next time!

 

Using kindle voyage

I have been using the kindle voyager for a while. This one was bought on the Amazon prime day 2017, a few months ago. I always wanted to try it when it first came out several years ago. But then I thought I like paper more, until I bought my iPad Pro for storing sheet music, notes, reading papers and trying to draw : With all the moving around, it makes much more sense to create and read things digitally!

The experience with this kindle has been very nice so far. I am using it as a backup or more mobile version of the iPad. The dictionary is good for language learning but a bit slow, especially when comparing to iPad. The touch and look are great. I couldn’t find any cover for it in Utrecht or Amsterdam so had to order one from online though.


The kindle also revived my usage of the kindle app. There are so many reading apps that I need to check (mendeley, pocket, scribd, etc.) and kindle sometimes fall behind. But this time, again I realised kindle is very convenient to read samples of new books and then buying them. It’s also lots of fun to look at the best sellers of different countries and search a few key words (the results are very different from a google search! Applicable to many domain specific websites).

It would be great if I can link my uk audible account with my book account, but I tried calling the customer service a few times, audible pointed me to amazon and amazon pointed me back to audible, typical.. But it might be a good thing, otherwise I might overspent again!

 

In Hawaii

I can’t believe that I procrastinated almost a year to get this post done.

It has been in the draft forever. But I seldomly delete any drafts because I want to get them done, even though the quality won’t be so high… this thinking might be wrong ..

Anyway, here’s we I can remember (including the parts I’ve written before):

I have been resistant in writing traveling blogs, but this place encouraged me to write something enormously.

The conference was very nice, but then I realised there’re many nice things in addition to the conference!

Some places I visited on the main Island include:

Beaches, of course, beautiful sunsets, surfing, walking on the water, feeling the sea breeze

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shopping districts: went to some malls to get essentials and have a look at local goods. And the tax rate is lower!

Pearl Harbour: went to a submarine. The whole tour needs a whole day and have to be booked in advance.

Hawaiian zoo: not very impressive. Saw a chimp playing with plastics. Could be dangerous…

The dinasour bay: snorkling was great, lots of pretty fish in the shadow water area. Even when it’s raining, there was something to see. First time got “rescued”.

The diamond head: good walk towards the top. Saw a rainbow on the way back.

It was definitely a mistake not renting a car at the beginning. Driving on the coast route on the island was great!

Met some good friends and enjoyed good food. That’s about it!

Neural symbolic workshop

(This is one of the belated summer posts)

I went to this workshop just for one day after my summer “holidays” in the UK. Although I didn’t have much time and the background in this area of research, there were defintely some interesting materials for music. It’s a different way of thinking machine learning. And it was a nice experience to talk to people of different mindsets about my research.

The website is here and the proceeding is finally available, too:Ā http://www.neural-symbolic.org/

IMG_9676

Have to say that there were some talks with formulations but not yet implementations. But talks are just stimuli to make people think in various directions, right? Need to go further and further into details with the talks I like…

Yearly Paris: Japan expo, musĆ©e, music shopping, etc.

(This is one of the belated summer posts)

Another travel to Paris this year, for friends’ party, getting my electric violin back, Japan expo, etc.

The 4-days Japan expo got me started to planning on this. But in the end, I only went one day… life is full of surprise, isn’t it! I was very happy with the one day though: remembering the pass two years time, seeing crazy cosplays, observing multimedia and cultural market, adding new multi-lingual anime DVDs to my collection, etc. But I decided to just spent one day there because it’s very similar to the previous two years: well, guests changed, hot-topics changed, trends changed a little bit, but the exhibition model stayed the same… The novelty value is not as impressive as before (the tickets price, on the other hand, is still pricy). Maybe the organisers intentionally made it the same for the veterans; maybe it is because I’m getting more numb at sensing the changing details; anyhow, I went on to some other adventures in the next few days.

One new place I went to is the Rodin museum. The garden, statues, arts, buildings are all very calming and evoking. A little touristy, but it’s not hard to find a place of peace. I was sobbing over the fact that I couldn’t get free tickets anymore though. Time is flying too fast…

Also thanks to my OPS friends, I got the chance to get into a concert at radio France. It’s been a year since the last time. We switched to a better seat during intermission this time. Completely different acoustics before on the second floor and after on the ground floor. And it was quite unusual to see a double-bass concerto.Ā The orchestra and the conductor did not bad at all! It was a very relaxing evening! (except the part that my phone went out of battery…)

Of course there has to be food in Paris. But my friend and I just went quite randomly to a Japanese Okonomiyaki place. I quite liked it! (well, I do have no good sense on food though…)

And then it’s the summer sales time in Paris! In addition to the usual clothing stores, I also feel obligated to take a look at Rue du Rome. No not really, it’s always been quite fun going there! They have a good collection of instrument stores and music book stores. And of course the book stores are my favourite!

In summary, it was a good trip meeting old friends (even did some improvisation!), meeting new friends at old friends’ party, wandering, reading, thinking, seeing, buying, etc. I think I will go back next year as well! (ISMIR will be there too!)

CSMC 2017: 2nd Conference on Computer Simulation of Musical Creativity

After being involved in last year, it’s nice to be back and contribute to the conference again.

We had the following 3-days programme: https://csmc2017.wordpress.com/programme/

It’s a small and cosy conference with lots of discussions (4 panels!). Audience consist of a good mix of people from the industry (Jukedeck, Melodrive, Sibelius!), from music/musicology and from computer science. People gave constructive and insightful suggestions to each other’s research/system. Lots of presentations/demonstrations are much easier to understand onsite than from the paper. It worths the travel (specially when combined with another conference nearby) to also get to talk to conference friends/colleagues. I enjoyed it very much!

 

 

I was chairing a paper session on the first day and moderating a panel on the last day. Initially I was organising two panel sessions: one about live coding andĀ another one on music pattern. Unfortunately the first one didn’t work out. But I was lucky to be able to meet the live coders anyway at FARM (functional-art.org/2017/, a post coming soon) the week before CSMC.

The second panels was the one I was very looking forward to since music patterns is precisely in my PhD topic. And I was excited because we had lots of prestigious panellists: with Srikanth Cherla, Elaine Chew, Roger Dean, Steven Jan, David Meredith, Tillman Weyde, and Darrell Conklin. It was clear that each panelist got their own view on music patterns: what is a music pattern, where does music pattern come from, music pattern and music structure, why is it important , etc. It’s such a diverse problem! There were lots of new ideas and thoughts got accross the room.

We made some slides and documents during the discussion. Please shoot me an email if you’re interested in getting them!

It’s a pity that we had some Skype issues, especially with the connection to India…

Taking a friend traveling in the Netherlands (Version 1.5 days)

(This is one of the belated summer posts)

A good friend visited me on his road trip across Europe while I was taking my Dutch course, so we had very limited time. But luckily he was driving and we managed to see a lot just in 1.5 days!

The route was like this: Utrecht -> Den Haag -> Amsterdam -> Utrecht

IMG_0522-EFFECTS

We were lucky that the first day in Den Haag and Amsterdam wasn’t raining. The beach and city centre of Den Haag was beautiful! Too bad all the museums close very early (5pm!)…

On the way to Amsterdam, we picked up two hitch-hikers from Germany. They said it was particularly difficult in Den Haag and they already waited for about an hour! It was funny how conversations got developed in English, French, German and Dutch.

After dropping them off at their Hotel, we went to park under the conservatory/library underground parking. We went to the library to see Amsterdam from high up, then took the free shuttle boat to the North and back (bikes on the “sea” yay), and finally walked all the way down to the museumplein and back.


I knew some of these places from friends and some from wandering in the city on my own. Good to be reminded of these good memories (or even bitter ones) by just visiting the places again. And it’s fun to pass down these “hidden” places to other friends. Propagation through social interactions! My mind has already started Ā on its own to try to build a agent based model out of this haha šŸ˜€

But perhaps the best way of travelling is still just wander around. Find little wonders that few people notice. I sometimes wish google map could have an “exploratory” route planner, ideally with audio guide to tell you where to look. Could be very challenging!

Of course everyone has multiple/different purposes when traveling. It complicates the problem even further….