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More writeups!

A kind of post I would like to read more of is "I did X, and here's how it went." You tend to see this most with research, but I've enjoyed reading them on all sorts of things. This is one of the main kinds of post I write, and I would encourage others to give it a try!

Here's an arbitrary selection of writeups I've enjoyed:

More Rhythm Options

Few instruments do a good job as the only rhythm instrument in a dance band; in my 2014 sample I only saw guitar and fiddle. I can't play guitar for dancing anymore because of my wrists, and the piano has to give up a lot in exchange for its large range. A goal I've had for a long time is to figure out how to get the same full sound from something built around a mandolin.

As a rhythm instrument, the way I play it, the mandolin has a percussive bite and drive that's hard to get with the piano. This drive contributes a lot to the dancing, and is something I really enjoy about a mandolin-piano rhythm section. Take away the piano, though, and everything is high frequency.

I've played with a bunch of ideas here for augmenting my mandolin playing:

Recently I tried a new combination:

Porting My Rhythm Setup

In music, as with everything, there's a tradeoff between reliability and hassle. If I come to a gig with my mandolin and the neck falls off, I'm going to be having a bad night. But mandolin necks only rarely fall off, and bringing an extra mandolin would be expensive and annoying, so I don't. On the other hand strings do break, sometimes comically, so most musicians bring backups.

My rhythm stage setup is in an awkward position here, because general-purpose computers aren't all that reliable. Not only do computers sometimes break, but my setup isn't something I can properly back up, and could be hard to replicate on another computer.

This is a silly situation: one of the amazing things about computers is that copying things is free. I should be able to upload my setup, and then download it onto any other computer in minutes, and be going right away. Why can't I do that with my stage setup? I found out yesterday when my computer died and I was trying to set up a new one [1] before the next Kingfisher gig (Saturday). Issues I ran into:

Emergency Prescription Medication

In the comments on yesterday's post on planning for disasters people brought up the situation of medications. As with many things in how the US handles healthcare and drugs, this is a mess.

The official recommendation is to prepare emergency supply kits for your home and work that contain:

At least a week-long supply of prescription medicines, along with a list of all medications, dosage, and any allergies


If there were a natural disaster tomorrow and it took about two weeks to get things working again, how many people would be ok for food, water, and other necessities? I'm guessing below 5%, but I think this level of preparedness would be a good goal for most people who can afford it. Why don't people plan for potential disasters? Some possibilities:

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

Epistemic status: Jeff missing the point

The supermarket sells various kinds of fancy butter, but why don't people eat whipped cream instead? Let's normalize to 100 calorie servings and compare prices:

  • Plain Butter, store brand: $0.10
  • Heavy Whipping Cream, store brand: $0.20
  • Fancy butter, Kerrygold brand: $0.30

Perhaps the reason people don't normally use whipped cream is that whipping it is too much trouble? If you use a manual eggbeater in a standard sixteen ounce deli cup it takes about fifteen seconds (youtube) for a serving.

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