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Chord Shape as Input

When I'm playing mandolin, sometimes it would be nice to have a bass player. Nothing fancy, something like hitting every downbeat and playing the same chords as I am. What's interesting is I'm already providing the information necessary for this:

  • The shape of my fingers on the mandolin fretboard indicates what chord I'm about to play.
  • I tap my foot on downbeats.

That is, I'd like to infer the bass note from hand position, and then get the timing and intensity from foot tapping.

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Immersion Blender Safety

The immersion blender is one of my favorite cooking implements, but it's also pretty dangerous. In a regular blender or a food processor the blades only spin when safely enclosed in plastic, which makes it much harder to hurt yourself. In an immersion blender the blades are exposed from the bottom, and this safety isn't possible. I know several people who've been hurt by accidentally turning them on, and in each case it's been:

  1. Blender gets stuck on something.
  2. They pull it out of the mixture, and hold it in one hand.
  3. They stick their fingers in with the blade to clear the blockage.
  4. The blender shifts, their hand presses the trigger, the blades spin.
  5. ER visit.

There's been some writing about this, and the general advice to avoid this is to unplug the blender before clearing the blade. Which works, but is annoying enough that people don't consistently do it. On the other hand, most consumer ones come apart into two pieces for cleaning. There's the motor end, and the blade end:

If you take them apart, there's no way for a slip of your hand to pass power through to the blades. So here's a useful rule: always keep the parts separated unless the blade is in something you want to blend.

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Contra Dance Weekend Musician Gender

A few days ago I looked at the gender composition of BIDA dances and saw that about 41% of the people playing for our dances were women. I wanted to see how things were different at the dance weekend level, so I looked at my spreadsheet of dance weekend bookings and made a list of "dance weekend bands". [1]

I counted 43 bands, 1,148 band bookings, and 3,518 musician bookings. Of those musician bookings, 29% (1,034) were women and 71% (2,484) were men. [2] The most common band arrangement by far was one woman and two men (11%), and here's the gender composition of these bookings charted:

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More Musician Gender

Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens recently wrote some about the gendered booking dynamics she's seen, where at the dance weekends and festivals she's played at there tend to be many more male musicians than female ones. I was curious how this looked for our twice-monthly dance, so I looked over the musicians BIDA has booked since its first dance in 2009 [1].

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Weight Strategies

Content note: discussion of weight loss. This sort of discussion is very hard to target: ideas that are helpful for one person can be harmful for another. Some people need to be supported in resisting dominant views that are harming them, while others need strategies for working with their body. People often tend to get the opposite advice they need; I'm mostly writing something that would have been a good fit for me two years ago. I won't be at all unhappy if you decide this isn't for you and stop reading!

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Measuring Sound Transmission Through Floors

I've been thinking about how sound moves through floors and ceilings, and trying to figure out what to do about a bedroom in our house that gets more noise than we'd like. I wanted a way to compare different floors/ceilings in order to tell how well they were passing sound. Here's what I came up with:

In the room below, I set up my laptop (2017 MacBook Pro 15") with Audacity recording. I made sure ambient noise reduction was turned off, and I set the mic volume to 10%. I put the laptop on a pillow so it only would record vibrations through the air.

In the room above, I dropped a hammer onto a mat from a variety of heights. I used a "16oz" hammer, which weighed 23.9oz including the handle:

I dropped it head first onto a 0.5" EVA foam mat.

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