bookmark_borderPlaylist 2020

Each year, as I acquire new music (Still mostly purchased on CD then ripped to MP3, though an increasing amount of music is only available as digital downloads.), I add new tracks to a yearly playlist for occasional review and December retrospective use. This was 2020 (in order of acquisition):

  1. Bladerunner 2049 Original Soundtrack
    Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch
  2. Arrival Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Johann Johannsson
  3. The Blue Notebooks
    Max Richter
  4. Decksanddrumsandrockandroll
  5. Ad Astra Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Max Richter
  6. Asbury Park Live 8/8/13
    They Might Be Giants
  7. 2020
  8. Les Revenants
  9. Beethoven or Bust
    Don Dorsey
  10. Chemical Chords
  11. Cloud Atlas Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil
  12. Pieces in a Modern Style 2
    William Orbit
  13. Good
  14. Adrian Legg Live
    Adrian Legg
  15. Dead Bankers
    Adrian Legg
  16. The Ambient Collection
    Art of Noise
  17. Evans City
  18. Interstellar; Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Hans Zimmer

As usual, lots of soundtracks and old friends. Both Sharon and I adore the movie Arrival, which set off a big Max Richter kick for us this year. Some of the artists I like who have strong followings, but not large enough followings to interest major music outlets, have switched to online self-releasing, like They Might Be Giants and Adrian Legg. Zombi put out their first new album in years, followed by an EP of some work they did for a Night of the Living Dead (Filmed in Evans City, PA. Check out that “Sound Engineer” credit for Sharon’s dad.) tribute event. I also found an online site for a chain of stores in Maine that had a bunch of CDs that have been on my “Wanted” list for years, just to explain some of the older stuff (8 through 13) on here. The Art of Noise album was the only thing I saw that I wanted on the new Tower Records online store.

bookmark_borderUber ATG Magic 8-Ball

Back in December of 2017, I was working for the Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) here in Pittsburgh. This was the self-driving vehicle research arm of Uber. The group threw a holiday party at the Pittsburgh History Museum, and as a party favor they gave us all custom “Magic 8-Ball” toys that had answer dice filled with ATG catch-phrases and in-jokes. Now that the ATG is no longer a division of Uber but is now a part of Aurora Innovation, perhaps it is time to post the 20 “answers” here. I can’t find them anywhere else on the ‘net.

  • Ask The Julies
  • Catching Rain Water
  • Cheerful Transparency
  • Chicken Bucket
  • I Aaron Doubt It
  • I Do Not Concur
  • Keep on Truckin’
  • Krypton Says No
  • Let’s Have An All Hands
  • Letwin Will Fix It
  • No Swag For You
  • Reorg
  • Super Sprint
  • That’s a HW Problem
  • That’s a SW Problem
  • Winter’s Coming
  • Xenon Says Yes
  • Your Answer Is At CRU
  • You’re a Boron
  • #UberOn

Keep in mind that I was hired as part of the third or fourth wave of hiring at the ATG, so some of these jokes refer to things that were before my time. Some of them are just startup anxiety phrases, like “Reorg” and “Let’s Have An All Hands”. Some of them are somewhat specific to autonomous vehicles, like “Catching Rainwater” and “Winter’s Coming”.

“Boron”, “Krypton”, and “Xenon” were the code names of the three test platforms at the time. “Chicken Bucket” was the nickname for the large spinning LIDAR unit on the roof of each vehicle. Kryptons were the Silver vehicles that Uber bought from Volvo, and were the most numerous. A Krypton is what hit that lady in Arizona.

“CRU” was the name for the “Crucible Building” which the ATG moved into when they outgrew their original startup space. By the time I left the ATG, Uber had five or six buildings down in the Strip District. Very few people had been in all of them. I’d been in more of them than most people had, since I started in Operations and later moved to Engineering. Each was a few blocks away from the others, so if your answer was in another building that could be tiresome.

“[Nick] Letwin” and “Aaron Doubt” are the names of a couple of influential ATG engineers. “The Julies” were the two main HR people at the ATG. Troubles with HR were the main reason I left.

The ATG’s “SPA” building, with a “Boron” test vehicle

bookmark_borderSorry, it’s Politics

The first incarnation of this blog had a lot of politics on it, and I’ve tried to keep politics off the blog this time because politics is everywhere now and I really didn’t feel the need to bring it here, but now things have changed.

Republicans in Pennsylvania actually want to go to the Supreme Court to get my vote, cast legally and in good faith by mail in the recent election, thrown out because their favored candidate for President lost.

Not that I was ever likely to vote for a Republican candidate, but this makes it certain that I will never vote for a Republican candidate in any election at any level for the rest of my life.

Just forget it. You people take your Superspreader in Chief, Total Landscaping Lawyers, and Zodiac Killer Senators and just forget that.

bookmark_borderPoplar Solar Flicker Lantern

Progress on the wood frame lanterns to fit the solar flicker lighting units continues! I completed the fifth of six planned lanterns recently, this one made from some surplus poplar lumber I had in the garage.

Andon in Poplar

Here is the lantern hanging in the Shourou at night after a recent snowfall:

Snowrou with Poplar Andon

Here is the lantern storage box almost full of lanterns:

5/6 Complete