Gil Shaham and Tchaikovsky's Fourth

February 08 2019

For the second consecutive year, our one trek into the city to see the San Francisco Symphony is in fact a trip to see Gil Shaham. As part of an early Valentine's Day, Celia and I saw Gil Shaham performing Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1, Tchaikovsky's fiery Symphony No. 4, and a world premiere piece in Steven Mackey's Portals, Scenes and Celebrations.

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Visualizing NBA 3 Point Shooters

August 25 2018

I was listening to the recent Bill Simmons podcast with Stephen Curry, and they had a brief discussion of the best 3 point shooters . Simmons wussed out by choosing the four absolute safest choices (Curry, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, and Klay Thompson). He then later covered by adding “specialists” like Dell Curry, Steve Nash, and Larry Bird. I was disappointed this discussion couldn’t go on much further (Simmons doesn’t want to offend Curry or other potential NBA players that will do his podcast), especially given Simmons’ stature as a basketball historian.

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Kuss Quartet at Tonhalle in Zurich

May 13 2018

On my first night in Zurich for a week-long business trip, I was lucky to take in a chamber music concert at the Tonhalle Maag, the modern-looking temporary home for Zurich classical concerts. The Kuss Quartet played with soprano Mojca Erdmann a couple of Beethoven quartets mixed with more contemporary-sounding music.

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Gil Shaham and Mahler, the Perfect Combination

March 25 2018

Usually, when I look at the season calendar to figure out which concerts to buy tickets to, I'm choosing between seeing a great soloist or a great orchestral piece. It's very rare that I get to combine those two, especially in a pair that includes my most favored artists. Things have been busy, with the arrival of Kiki 9 months ago and my new job at Google. This was the first and only SFS concert we attended this season. So what a great treat that it was absolutely the perfect combination of Gil Shaham and a Mahler Symphony from the country's best Mahler orchestra and conductor.

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2018 Reading List

January 01 2018

I'm using this post to keep a running list of the books that I read in 2018.

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Top 1% Percent Reader Episode V - The Pocket Strikes Back

December 08 2017

Once again, I'm one of Pocket's top 1 percent readers. I write this post literally every year (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016).

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Mozart's Don Giovanni

July 01 2017

We saw the SF Opera perform Mozart's Don Giovanni today. It was the first time I've seen it live, although the piece has always had a special place in my heart. This was also our first time seeing the SF Opera. The singers were quite good, but I was underwhelmed by the orchestra.

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Mahler 1 and 10 with SFS

April 01 2017

We took in our last San Francisco Symphony concert of the season tonight on April Fool's Day. This was a completely serious affair though, with Mahler's Adagio from the 10th symphony and the 1st symphony. In the end, I'm left only with the affirmation that Mahler is my favorite composer and an inspiration. And I now think that the SFS is the absolute best Mahler orchestra in the US.

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Gil Shaham Plays Barber

March 18 2017

In what is becoming a yearly tradition, we saw Gil Shaham live in performance today, this time with the San Francisco Symphony. Shaham played the Barber concerto, one of those pieces that every single violinist absolutely adores. Juraj Valčuha conducted in place of MTT, and the orchestra also played Kammersymphonie by Franz Schreker and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

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Top 1% Percent Reader Episode IV - A New Pocket

December 22 2016

It is now my fourth year straight year as one of Pocket's top 1 percent readers (see 2013, 2014, and 2015). I'm even making the same Star Wars episode joke as last year as the title of this post. As always, it's a pleasure getting this annual reminder from Pocket that they produce a wonderful app that I use nearly every day.

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Hilary Hahn Recital at Davies

April 26 2016

Just a few weeks after the Gil Shaham Bach recital, we took in another violin treat with a recital by Hilary Hahn. Seeing both of these virtuosos at the peak of their abilities, and in such a close time range, really clarified for me the differences in their playing styles.

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A Religious Experience with Gil Shaham and Bach

April 14 2016

When I was younger, I'd always heard about violinists that would do crazy endurance recitals, like play all 24 Paganini Caprices in a single performance. I never thought anyone would still do this type of concert today. So this was really a special treat for us. We saw Gil Shaham perform all the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. I truly think this was one of the most memorable musical experiences I'll ever have.

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Mahler Song of the Earth with SFS

April 10 2016

Jet-lagged from a return flight from China just the day before, we took in a heavy afternoon SFS concert with Mahler's Song of the Earth and Schubert's Unifinished Eighth Symphony.

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Book Review - 1984

April 08 2016

Yikes. That's the only word I can think of to describe this book. George Orwell's 1984 is truly terrifying. And yet I couldn't put it down - I can't remember exactly, but I devoured this in maybe 4-5 days. It is completely relevant today and not dated at all. I don't even know how to feel, after finishing the book.

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Book Review - Tesla, Inventor of the Electrical Age

April 02 2016

Nikola Tesla was of course a gigantic figure in the development of science, physics, and electricity. Bernard Carlson's Tesla, Inventor of the Electrical Age is a good and functional biography of Tesla.

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Swan Lake with the San Francisco Ballet

February 27 2016

For Celia's birthday, we attended an old standby, Swan Lake with the San Francisco Ballet. It was a good performance, with an excellent lead performance by Sofiane Sylve.

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Top 1% Percent Reader Episode III - Revenge of Pocket

February 07 2016

In what has become a yearly tradition, I am once again one of Pocket's top 1 percent readers. I enjoy this email every year, and this year they waited unti February to send it out, meaning they are actually factoring the entire year now (it was previously sent out in mid-December).

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Birthday Date Night with Leonidas Kavakos and the San Francisco Symphony

November 15 2015

Yesterday was my birthday and as celebration, we got a babysitter and did dinner and a concert. It was the first time for just the two of us in quite a few months and certainly very enjoyable. It was also great to take in a concert and from such a great orchestra and soloist. It was my second time seeing the San Francisco Symphony live, but the first time was 15 years ago.

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My Favorite Grantland Pieces

October 31 2015

Grantland is dead. Long live Grantland. Like many others, I was shocked and saddened to see the sudden shutdown of yesterday by ESPN. Grantland had become a habit, a way of life and thinking for me. I think the best way to move on is to remember what made this site so special.

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Hiking Mt. Diablo

June 21 2015

I just completed a rare weekend where I had very few obligations and all the time in the world. I originally planned to stay in the bay area this weekend to look at housing rentals. But I quickly found out it's still a little too early for an August move-in date. Instead, I decided to spend Saturday hiking Mt. Diablo and Sunday at Half Moon Bay.

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Beethoven's Ninth in a Brewery

May 31 2015

Earlier today, I took in a very unique and interesting music experience. I saw the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra, an amateur community orchestra, perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at Southern Pacific Brewing, a microbrewery in the Mission District. It was great to see such as creative and ambitious programming element, especially from a community orchestra. I left the concert a little bit buzzed and with a smile on my face.

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Pinchas Zukerman Recital

May 27 2015

Last night, I saw Pinchas Zukerman performing live for the first time. Zukerman is 66, definitely an advanced age for a concert violinist. Unfortunately, we got very little of the peak Zukerman, who was as close in sound and style to Itzhak Perlman as any violinist. Instead, we got a low energy performance of some fairly bland repertoire material.

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Cross-Region Replication Demo at the San Francisco AWS Summit

April 22 2015

I recently launched Cross-Region Replication for Amazon S3. This was a challenging and complex project for S3. I started working on it in early January 2014, and we finally launched on March 24th, 2015.

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Pocket's Monetization Strategy

April 20 2015

I'm excited to see Pocket has finally monetized in a way that's not a subscription plan for power users. I previously wrote about their ad monetization possibilities in late 2013. Now I've finally seen the first ad served up by Pocket.

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Choosing Nine Symphonies Challenge

January 09 2015

I saw via a fun little challenge put forth by CK Dexter Haven. You have to pick nine symphonies for the desert island. The challenge is that a composer can only be chosen once, only one symphony can be chosen per number, and the symphony must be generally agreed to actually be representing that number (this is challenging for

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Book Review - The Innovators

January 05 2015

Walter Isaacson's The Innovators tells the story of the people responsible for the current digital world. I really enjoyed Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. This book doesn't go nearly as deep, but it covers many more areas and is an enjoyable read. Effectively, it's almost like the history book of computer engineering.

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Beijing Symphony Orchestra Plays Strauss and Brahms

December 22 2014

Last night, as part of Richard Strauss' 150th anniversary year, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra played his Don Juan Overture and Der Rosenkavalier Suite. We were also treated to Brahms' pastoral Symphony No. 2. Marc Moncusí conducted. This was the first time I've seen a live performance by a Chinese orchestra. The Beijing Symphony Orchestra is not the best China has to offer (I think that would be either the China Philharmonic Orchestra or the China National Symphony Orchestra). My personal experience is that there is plenty of room for improvement.

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Top 1% Percent Reader (Again!)

December 16 2014

I wrote about this last year as well, but I am once again one of Pocket's top 1 percent readers!

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Speaking at the AWS Summit in Beijing

December 12 2014

I presented today at the AWS Summit in Beijing. My topic was AWS Cloud Storage. It was the first time I'd ever presented anything professionally in front of this many people (around 400-500 in the audience) at a public event. To compound matters, I had to do most of the presentation in Chinese!

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Book Review - The Breaks of the Game

October 26 2014

I've been meaning to read David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game for several years. It's universally recognized as a milestone in NBA writing. Bill Simmons wrote glowingly about it and frequently references the book in his articles. After finally reading it, I'm happy to say that it's not just a truly wonderful and descriptive book about life in the NBA, but also in general an amazing piece of writing.

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NBA League Pass Calculator

October 19 2014

The 2014-2015 NBA season is about to begin and I'm in the process of choosing my five league pass teams. I've been doing some thinking on how to optimize the league pass experience and I thought I'd share my thinking.

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Book Review - Chaos

September 08 2014

I was looking for an interesting book on science when I came across a list of scientist biography recommendations on kottke. The list looks really promising and added to my queue of books (particularly the Isaacson biography of Einstein and Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder). However, the book that really caught my eye was Chaos Making a New Science by James Gleick. The book is a good introduction (but also appropriately deep in science and theory) to the principles and history behind the study of Chaos theory. Gleick has been around, writing a bunch of interesting books on science (including three Pulitzer Prize finalists, including Chaos) and founding one of the first ISPs.

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August 06 2014

I need to share the details of my 21 game last night. It is the greatest game of 21 I will ever play.

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Book Review - What to Listen for in Music

July 27 2014

I happened to be in a Barnes and Noble one day when I discovered a copy of Aaron Copland's What to Listen For in Music. This is a great example of why physical storefronts might still be useful - during random browsing sessions, sometimes we can find something useful. It's amazing to me that over all my years as an amateur musician, I didn't even know that this book existed. Copland originally wrote this in 1939 and then revised it in 1957. It's a great introduction to classical music forms from a master musician. It's well written, easy to understand, and informative. In addition, Copland's own personality and thoughts come out, so the book doesn't read like a dry textbook.

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Book Review - Home Game

July 05 2014

I was given Michael Lewis' Home Game (An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood) to read by a close friend. He and his wife had recently welcomed a baby girl and he felt like this book was a good read and potentially helpful for expectant fathers. The book is a memoir of Michael Lewis' experiences raising his own three kids. It's short and sweet. I don't know if I'm any more ready for fatherhood, but I did enjoy it.

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Reading Symphonie Fantastique

July 03 2014

I took part in a sight reading rehearsal of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique with the Northwest Mahler Festival last night. This is my first ever experience with this type of rehearsal, where the goal is simply to get through all of the music without rehearsing too many of the details. It was a very interesting experience and I'll try it again depending on what music is being read.

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All Three Stravinsky Ballets

June 22 2014

We saw the classical programming season finale for the Seattle Symphony on the summer solstice last night. The title of this post is misleading - Stravinsky wrote more than three ballets. However, most people really know Stravinsky for the three iconic ballets he wrote for the Ballets Russe from 1910 to 1913, The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. We were treated to all three ballets in their full versions tonight, an extra long concert that included two intermissions and ran until 10:50 pm (after an 8:00 pm start).

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Beijing Business Trip

May 26 2014

I just got back from a business trip to Beijing to see some prospective AWS customers. I was in Beijing for about a week (with a short trip to Hangzhou) and got some nice time with my extended family in Beijing near the end of the trip.

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Hilary Hahn Recital at UW World Series

April 29 2014

We were treated to a recital by the amazing Hilary Hahn tonight. The program was more heavily dominated by modern pieces (3 of the 7 pieces played are from Hilary Hahn's latest In 27 Pieces album). The other pieces are very early classical and not part of the usual recital repertoire. Here's the program.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

April 20 2014

Yesterday, we attended a matinee ballet performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I've played the overture before (and I love it), but this is the first time I've seen the ballet or heard the entire music for the ballet.

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Book Review - Flash Boys

April 07 2014

I devoured Michael Lewis's new book, Flash Boys, when it was released recently. It meets a lot of my interests and curiosities - high-frequency trading (HFT) and Michael Lewis.

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La Boheme at the Movies

April 06 2014

We saw Puccini's La Boheme in a matinee performance at the movies yesterday. It was the first time that I've ever seen this opera in its entirety.

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Pathetique and Piano Concerto Premiere

March 23 2014

We saw the Seattle Symphony in action last night with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique", and the US premiere of Alexander Raskatov's Piano Concert, "Night Butterflies".

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Joshua Bell Recital

February 06 2014

We got to see Joshua Bell live in recital last night. Bell is universally regarded as a top violinist and is one of the leading representatives of his art. However, I had mixed feelings upon leaving the performance.

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Sleeping Beauty on Super Bowl Sunday

February 02 2014

Tchaikovsky wrote three major ballets, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Sunday, I finally got to see Sleeping Beauty, the only one of the three I hadn't seen yet and also probably the least performed of the three.

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New Year's Eve with the Seattle Symphony

January 01 2014

We spent New Year's Eve with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya last night. It was a pops concert that concluded with Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. There was a post-concert party with a countdown to midnight. All in all, a pretty fun night with an interesting mix of music.

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Santa Claus

December 16 2013

Top 1% Percent Reader

December 12 2013

I got two nice emails from Pocket today. The first was a list of top articles read by their customers in 2013. The

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Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall

December 04 2013

We were in Cleveland last weekend for my friend Leo's wedding. Seeing as we likely won't be making it back to Cleveland anytime soon, we decided to make a trip to Severance Hall for the Cleveland Orchestra.

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Password Protecting an S3 Website

November 25 2013

I previously wrote about how this site is hosted entirely on AWS, and all the content is in Amazon S3. I recently created two sub-sites, and that are also hosted on S3. This post talks about my process for setting these sites up, and how I'm able to get a level of password protection on the site simply by using some neat S3 features - web page redirect and bucket policies.

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