Inbox Zero

This is an apology to all the people who have sent me an e-mail over the course of the past 5 months and have not received the response they expected in time. I was swamped at work, with my PhD project, IEEE activities and other challenges in my private life. But now I am on top of things again. I’ve reached “Inbox Zero”.

inbox
With it comes the “Mind like Water” state and I am now ready again for your e-mails. Let’s see how long it lasts ;)

IEEE Region 8 Secretary

It’s with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye that I conclude my 2-years term as the IEEE Region 8 Secretary.

dsc02308The Region 8 Committee Meeting last weekend in Porto, Portugal was the last big R8 meeting that I was responsible for. It marks the end of a journey that started over 4 years ago. What’s left is a deep feeling of thankfulness, many new friendships and an experience is mine to keep for the years to come!

PhD Thesis Step 2: Collecting ECTS

Finally I figured out which curriculum applies – they have changed it 5 times since I’ve started my PhD. Lucky as I am, the classes and ECTS that I have collected so far can still be used today. Some bureaucratic hurdles later, the university online system now says that I have completed all my ECTS duties. Yay!

image001We may now actually buy the champagne. I’ll keep you posted.

 

PhD Thesis Step 1: Informal Submission

The road to my PhD is a bumpy one. But finally I think I am at the point where it becomes realistic for me to close this nasty open loop within the next 3 months.

The first step (that I am willing to blog about) was the informal submission of my thesis today. I submitted it both to my supervisor and the second, external examiner from the University of Ulm.

phd-coverWe may want to think about shopping for champagne. I’ll keep you posted.

Listen to Fred Hersch

You have to watch this youtube video:

To me Fred Hersch’s version of “Both Sides Now” is profoundly beautiful and touching. It clearly stands out compared to the millions of stimuli that I get on a day to day basis. When I say stimuli I mean everything ranging from music, photography, writing, management presentations, engineering solutions, mathematical equations to coffee table discussions. In my quest to understanding “Life, the Universe & Everything” I can’t resist to ask: “Why?”.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think I have a way to test my answers (hypotheses) in a “true-or-false” manner. However my intuition at the moment tells me this:

  • Technique. You have to be in control of your fingers to be one of the top piano players in the world. Interestingly I don’t think you have to be in total control, as in all points in the four dimensional “what finger, what key, what intensity, what time” space. You just have to cover a big-enough, interesting-enough subspace, which is a challenge already.
  • References. “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell is considered a master piece in its own right. Not only has it proven to capture people’s minds, but for those who know it already, it will most likely trigger positive emotions instantaneously. Similarly Fred Hersch’s interpretation is firmly rooted in the tradition of Jazz, which provides another huge set of references.
  • Story Telling. From the first note to the last Fred Hersch takes you on a journey that is logical from one note/one phrase to the next and that is holistically consistent in a way that it captures your imagination throughout the piece.
  • Personality. Both what he plays and how he plays it screams “Fred Hersch”. Even if you would transcribe his music and have it played by some random, classically trained pianist, it would probably lack some important characteristics.

For lack of scientific methods, I can’t be sure that this list is correct or exhaustive. But what I can say is that I find all of these qualities in Fred Hersch’s “Both Sides Now” and that I should certainly make sure they are in the random coffee table discussion to make it just as beautiful and touching.