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Facebook Donation Match

For the last three years Facebook has offered donation matching on Giving Tuesday (11/27) where the first $X to be donated is matched 1:1. In general, I'm pretty skeptical about donation matches: much of the time when someone tells you you can "double your donation" that's not really what's going to happen. Specifically, if I donate $X, the charity ends up about $X richer than if I hadn't donated, not the $2X I might have been led to believe.

In this case, though, there's a $7M pool of money that will go first-come-first-served. This is more or less distributing money to charities more or less in proportion to how organized and coordinated their donors are, and I think that's something the EA community can do really well with! Here's what you do:

Legal questions around safety committees

As communities try to do a better job preventing and limiting abuse, harassment, etc, one common approach has been to put together a committee to hear reports and investigate problems (example). For a community that exists in isolation, my understanding is that there aren't really open legal questions: they can take action up to and including banning as needed. Where this gets tricky, though, is with coordination between groups.

Right-hand mandolin or guitar

When I play mandolin or guitar for dances a huge amount of what I'm doing is three things:
  • Left hand chooses what chord to play, typically as an open fifth (root-fifth, no third, so no distinction between major and minor).

  • Left hand switches between muted and unmuted.

  • Right hand triggers the notes, varying both the timing and the intensity.

You can see what this sounds like, with more explanation, in my mandolin teaching videos.

Lately I've been trying to figure out ways to do more things at once while playing live, with the general goal of being able to get the kind of full sound that typically requires more people. One possibility is to figure out something I can do in order to get part of what I like about my mandolin playing with just one hand. Ideas:

Boston Solstice 2018

Six years ago Julia and I took the bus down to NYC with a group from the Boston LessWrong meetup. We were headed to a Solstice celebration and 'megameetup' Ray was organizing. It was a good weekend: lots of talking to people I'd only met online, various proto-EA conversations, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The Solstice itself was in a crowded living room, and I remember playing guitar for Uplift, Thanksgiving Eve, and God Wrote the Sky. This was the second NYC Solstice, the first one being in 2011, and it was still a cosy event.

NYC Solstice 2012; I'm in the middle

We went again the next year, for the first big Solstice. There was a Kickstarter, it was a beautiful hall, full band of professional musicians. Good in a different way, still a really nice time to see friends and get together.

Blinky Lights

My rhythm stage setup now has a lot of settings: toggles for piano, jawharp, bass winds, high and low drums, high and low footbass, plus which instrument I've set my jammer buttons to (accordion, sax, etc). I've been using my computer screen to show status for each of these settings, in text-only shorthand:
        dh             acc 
  fh    dh             acc
  fh                   acc
  fh                   sax
That's saying I:
  1. turned on high drums
  2. turned on high footbass
  3. turned off high drums
  4. switched buttons from accordion to sax
My laptop isn't easy to see when I'm playing, though, so I wanted some little LEDs to show status. I asked for suggestions and ended up going with the Blinkstick Strip:

I have the lights set at 20% brightness for now; I find that at full brightness they're painful to look at. Stages are usually reasonably dark, so this seems about right. They're still too bright for my camera to do a good job with, though.

Figuring out sounds

One of the most frustrating aspects of playing an electronic instrument is figuring out sounds. You're not constrained to what a physical instrument can make, so the range of possibilities is enormous, but it's hard to figure out what sort of sound I'd like to make, let alone what sound (virtual instrument) would do a good job at that

The instruments I'm using right now are piano, kick drum, hi-hat, accordion, jawharp, sax, and bass. While at some point I might use different sounds on different sets, for now I'm just trying to find one sound I like for each instrument. That's currently:

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