What a Wonderful World

During the COVID-19 pandemic our local church started doing youtube services. A small group of people would prepare texts and music so that it could be streamed by members of the community every Sunday instead of going to church. Every weekend they tried to involve different people or groups to prepare these videos.

I did an arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” for Brass Quintet for one of those youtube videos. Here’s the sheet music for you to download.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Coronavirus – That Little Grunge

Coronavirus that bitch. I guess it will hang around a little longer. At least until there is a vaccine available, which should be some time in 2021.

Until then things will stay quite different compared to what we were used to. Different is not necessarily bad, and I think I’ve come to terms with the limitations and the new chances. However, there’s one thing that I really, really miss: Playing concerts and playing at Jazz jam sessions. For me it’s not an economic necessity, but a need for which I simply can’t get a fix right now.

Here’s a video I’ve made for a recent composition of mine. I really look forward to playing the tune live in front of an audience.

Corona and Daily Life

The Corona Situation is omnipresent. What are the changes in my daily life? Actually, I should say our daily lifes.

Being at Home Almost 24/7

Both, Andrea and I, are working from home now. This means that we spend almost all of our time within the walls of our apartment. As a couple, I think we are dealing with the situation extremely well. I think that the mutual respect and the self-confidence that both of us have are imperturbable. However, there are a few prerequisites that we agreed on pretty quickly:

  1. We have separate office spaces.
    Fortunately, our apartment is big enough so that we can work in different rooms. We outfitted both rooms with nice desks, external monitors, proper office chairs. We also established the rule that the other party is only allowed to enter after knocking and upon invitation. It’s one essential key to our sovereignty.
  2. We need to be tidier than usual.
    During any random week, when we would leave the apartment for work at around 7 am and come back after 7 pm, we would not care if there are dirty plates around the kitchen. But now that our home is where we spend most of our time, it really matters.

We Cook Every Day

Being at home every day we were faced with two questions: What to eat and how to prepare it? This might sound trivial, but for two adults who had gotten into the habit of eating at restaurants, canteens or simply grabbing sandwiches this meant a big change. We quickly agreed that we would take turns every day preparing lunches. Andrea had a fantastic idea for the “What to eat?” issue. She started an online survey asking “What will you have for lunch this week?”. Thanks to contributions from family and friends we now have this awesome list pinned to our refrigerator:

We Go for Walks Every Other Day

Usually, I would bike to work. Now that we are grounded, we decided to go for walks every other day. If our work schedules allow for it we try to block an hour in the afternoon.

We Go Shopping Only Once a Week

We have a grocery store right in front of our apartment building, which in normal times, is open until 8 pm every day. Usually, we would go there almost every day to grab some small bite for dinner. We used to joke that the store is just an extension of our refrigerator. With us doing some propper cooking now and all the restrictions in place we reverted to shopping once a week. More on that in another post.

This list only addresses adjustments or changes. I believe there are a couple of components in my life that are crucial right now but they were there in the first place. For instance, a daily routine, which is there through well-groomed habits and things such as the daily project stand-up meeting at 8:30 am.

Apart from the things described above my daily life now isn’t that different at all.

Feedback to Polar Regarding UI Design

There are many great things I could say about my Polar Vantage M watch. I like

  • it’s clean, rounded physical design (as its an early model it does not ever have any ugly logo on the front),
  • the fact that I can use it with different wrist bands,
  • its battery life,
  • and much more.

But there are also a few things that really bother me a lot. Here are the top two things that I think need improvement and that could be improved easily via a software update

1) UI Aesthetics

Here’s an example that annoys me every day. Have a look at the following two versions of a watch screen.

Look left, look right, look left, look right. Which one feels right, which one feels wrong?

To me its the left one that feels wrong. Sure the icon as a whole, which is a stopwatch with a heart at its center, is centered. However, I think it should be the keyline, the circular outline of the stopwatch, that should be centered instead.

Polar if you are reading this: Please make the screen I see when I press the “Menu/Back” button look like the right-hand side image! Center keylines and not complete icons.

2) UI Inconsistencies

Here’s the most annoying: Cycling through menus workings differently depending on where you are.

When I enter the main menu I can press up to get from the first menu item to the last, which is settings. Once inside the settings sub-menu I can not press up to access the last menu item on that list? Also, the way the list of items is indicated is different (dots vs. just one dot and a line)? Why, oh, why???

Polar if you are reading this: Please let me get to the last entry of every list by scrolling up from the first entry!

The cherry on top: The sub-menu item I use the most (changing the alarm clock) is at the very bottom of the list. Polar: Have you evaluated how your users use the UI, e.g., which settings they use the most? Do you think people access their “General Settings” or their “Physical Settings” as often as their “Alarm Settings”?

Polar, I think you are a great company and you can make this one right by just one software update. Thanks!

In The Wee Small Hours …

… of the Corona Situation, my new Jazz trio project “Christian Schmid’s Kaleidoscope” gets delayed, but at least there is some time for practicing. Here’s the intro to one of the songs we are going to play live, hopefully soon.

Corona and Social Media

Coronavirus? No need to panic or overreact. Just listen to recommendations derived from numbers and facts: Wash Your Hands and Practice Social Distancing.

Giving Kudos for 30 Days

Just yesterday I (re-)discovered the Kudos function on LinkedIn. As I am one of those people who give positive feedback way too seldom, here’s my new 30 days project: Use LinkedIn’s Kudos function once a day for 30 days.

Kudos go to:

Winter Kayaking in 2020

Still Kayaking. What a better day to start kayaking in 2020 than January 2nd. When everybody has sobered up.

Actually, it was just a trial run for more winter tours to come.

Lesson learned:

  • invest in shoes
  • long johns may prove to be comfy
  • no special kayaking jacket needed
  • plan an extra 15 minutes for set-up and wrap-up
    • mounting the cockpit takes 15 minutes
    • inflatable kayak becomes very stiff at sub-zero temperatures.

Other than that everything went fine. I think we are now ready for more adventures!

Last-Minute Arrangement: O Tannenbaum

Download brass quartet sheet music: O Tannenbaum.

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

The Story Behind

A last-minute arrangement. No big words needed. By the way here’s a Christmas tree that I made out of peanut shells, rather unconsciously, during a telco at work.

Merry Christmas everyone!