Alle Jahre Wieder – Merry Christmas

Download brass quartet sheet music: Alle Jahre Wieder.

Here’s what it sounds like when played on a piano:

The Story Behind

In 2018 I did an arrangement of the Austrian Christmas Carol Es wird scho glei dumpa. Preparing arrangements and reharmonizations of Christmas tunes really gets me into the Christmas mood. Actually, it’s done best with the smell of candles and the taste of cinnamon tea around you.

However, in order to have something played during the Christmas season (December), you have to prepare the arrangement way in advance. – Bands need some practice ahead of time. Basically, you have to start right after Halloween.

In order to combine both the Christmas season and the special mood I get by arranging tunes, I did “Alle Jahre Wieder” in December 2018. I did not want to share it yet with a broad audience, but we already played it at my local church on Christmas Eve of 2018. And here it is, with enough time to practice, for all of you!

The finishing touch to the arrangement I did on my balcony.

Giving Away a Wristwatch for Free

In my quest to declutter, I have identified a pile of stuff that I want to sell or give away. One of the items is a wristwatch in mint condition. It was part of a “best paper award” that I had gotten in 2012. I didn’t like the style, so it sat around, unboxed, in some drawer all those years.

The watch itself is nothing special: The online asking price is 132 EUR right now. I thought: Let’s try something new and give it away for free. So I listed it on an Austrian website for selling used goods as a “for free item”. What happened next is beyond my imagination.

1.) I got over 30 messages in the first 24 hours
2.) I tried to deal with them on a first-come-first-serve basis.
3.) Four (4!) attempts to hand over my watch have failed since then.

The first guy who I was in contact with, and who had agreed to pick it up at 8 pm, only told me at 7 pm, after I tried to reconfirm the pick-up, that he lives in Vienna and it’s too far for him to come. – Keep in mind the platform clearly tells you where an item is: Address, google maps, everything.

The second person just did not show up, no response.

The third person did not respond when I tried to arrange time and date for a pick-up for 48 hours (the platform reported my messages as “read”).

The fourth person finally asked me to bring the watch to a specific location.

I am blown away by how much effort, how much time I spent on this endeavor! I have a feeling that as soon as something is “for free” people perceive it as “has no value”. Especially online it’s easy to hit the “I want it” button on things that are 0 EUR. But then, when these people have to actually do something to get that “worthless” piece, they are not prepared to do their part. Lesson learned: If you want to explore the abyss of human nature try giving something away for free online. Otherwise don’t do it.

Here’s how the story ended: I agreed to send the watch to one of the many people who had contacted me. I paid for the postage (5 EUR) and asked him to do something good for someone in his neighborhood. I think that way I sparked a little niceness in the world and did not have to spend any more of my precious time dealing with people who did not value a 0 EUR item.

Minidisc – Torn Between Decluttering and Nostalgia

From time to time I need to do some decluttering. I guess everybody does. Usually, it’s easy for me to decide between the things that I won’t need anymore and the ones that I want to keep. I know myself to be both fast and rigorous about these decisions.

Today I stumbled across a box that broke my flow: my old MiniDisc collection and a Minidisc player. I know that all the money invested in the technology is lost (2 portable units, 1 Minidisc deck, one car stereo that had Minidisc, tons of Minidiscs, …) and I also know that I won’t use it any time soon, neither for recording nor for listening. Still, I seem unable to part with it.

It’s not even the Minidisc player that powered most of my teen years – that was a Sony MZ R50 and later a Sony MZ R90, which in terms of esthetics I only loved half as much as the R50. The discs, however, are the “originals”. I used to print labels for all of them with images that I scanned from the original CD. Most of them are blurry by now, as I only had an inkjet printer. I am humbled by how much time I must have spent on my Minidisc collection.

I guess I am going to allow myself to keep the Minidisc box around for another while and thus postpone the decision to throw it out. Yep, that’s living on the edge.

Baba und Foi Ned

New piano composition / Jazz tune out now! “Baba und Foi Ned”, Bavarian for “Good bye and don’t stumble”. Will bring it to one of the next jam sessions this fall.

And here’s the sheet music.

It’s Getting Warmer – Morning Data Points

In my previous post I described how I got data from my weather station into MATLAB to help me answer my primary questions:

  • When to open the windows in the evening, to let in cool air?
  • When to close the windows again in the morning?

The data I have available covers 10 days, including a late July heat wave. At first I tried to understand when the lowest outside temperature was reached and when it increased again by more than 0.5 °C and 1 °C compared to the minimum.

DayMin Temperature (°C)TimeTime +0.5°C Time +1°C
18 Jul 201916.305:54 06:5406:54
19 Jul 201917.005:56 06:5207:12
20 Jul 201920.405.56 07:0108:07
21 Jul 201920.705:45 07:0007:56
22 Jul 201919.905:56 06:2707:22
23 Jul 201920.406:14 07:0508:21
24 Jul 201921.405:53 06:4807:33
25 Jul 201922.106:16 06:5107:17
26 Jul 201922.905:42 06:1707:13
27 Jul 201923.105:50 06:3607:36

If I had more data I’d plot a histogram of the times to decide when to close the window in the morning. For now, I can only come up with a “manual estimate” based on looking at the table above. I conclude: During summer I should close the window by 7:30 in order to optimally protect the cool indoor climate.

It’s Getting Warmer – Using MATLAB to Visualize Netatmo Data

Global warming is a thing. There’s no denying that temperatures are rising.

In my quest to learn to live with it, I got a Netatmo weather station that measures outside and inside temperature levels (among other things) in 5 minutes intervals.

My goal is to keep the temperature in my apartment as low as possible without installing AC, so my primary questions are:

  • When to open the windows in the evening, to let in cool air?
  • When to close the windows again?

While the Netatmo website provides a coarse overview of the temperature levels, it’s not particularly helpful in answering these questions because …

  1. the weekly view shows data points in steps of 3 hours
  2. data from different sensors can not be merged into one graph to understand dependencies (e.g., outdoor vs. indoor temperature).

Here’s a plot I generated by exporting the raw data from Netatmo and some MATLAB coding.

Temperature over the course of 10 days.

With all the data available in MATLAB I can now go ahead with extracting some critical data points, such as when the outside temperature reaches its minimum or when it starts increasing again. More on that later.

Summer Rain

I thought about going to a Jazz Jam Session tonight, but then I ended up just jamming with myself and Ableton Live. Tonight’s tune is called “Summer Rain – Our Reckless Behavior”. It’s constructed around the idea that “Our reckless behavior will destroy it for us all”. Click here to download the sheet music.

My Funny Trainride

Work at Infineon requires me to go places. As a product architect I need to interact both with customers all around the globe and development teams at five different sites across Austria and Germany. To be able to tend to my inner music nerd while on the road, I got myself a small music keyboard with 128 sounds that fits into my backpack.

Here’s a version of “My Funny Valentine” that I did on that keyboard while on the train to Villach yesterday night. I call it “My Funny Trainride”.