Year of Piggy

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! May you all have another fruitful years and have your wishes and dreams come true (or move closer to them)!

Consistent Exercise

As previously mentioned, I’ve been consistently hitting the gym for weight training, and that I leave my cardio to other exercises. But due to the lenghty period of cold weather and lack of internal basketball facility (I can no longer go to my school’s facility now), I’ve been passing up basketball for about 2 months… until yesterday.

Yesterday’s weather was gorgeous and it’s too much to pass up. So I went to shoot some hoop with my good friend at work. Shortly after we did some shooting, some other folks showed up and we decided to play a game, which turned out to be a full-court game. I did not keep it mind that it’s my first return to cardio/basketball after awhile and went all-out running/jumping. It was all fun but needless to say… I’m really feeling it today!

So the advice is… keep up with your exercise consistently. Notice the keyword is consistently. If you’ve taken a break for awhile, don’t just shove yourself back into it but instead try to work yourself gradually back into a routine. Well, you can shove yourself into… don’t say I didn’t warn you :P

Need headphones?

One of my favorite things to do is listening to music (duh). And for a very long time now, I can no longer let myself go with the stock headphones that come with the mp3 players/portable devices. I will provide some guidance here in picking headhpones. First, let’s explore the important attributes of headphones and then move on to some recommendations, it’s only several:

Earbuds/full-size(open or close): Main concern is where you want to carry the headhpones, how portable, and how weird can you bear yourself to look…it’s all personal preference here. There are some very capable earbuds exist these days (shures, sony…) But the full-size usually offer fuller sounds. For the full-size, a close headphones will keep the sound in and provide better sound isolation in most cases. An open full-size can offer better soundstage but will have much sound leak, so don’t buy open headphones if you want to keep the music to yourself in the environment.

Frequency Response (Hz): This attribute determines how high/low of a pitch the headphones can reproduce. In other words, the bigger the range, the richer the sound will appear. This is the main factor for me in picking a pair of headphones (and then the price too of course).

Nominal Impedance (ohm): The higher the value, the more power will be needed to drive the headphones. In other words, if you get a headphones with very high ohm, you will need to get an amp to make it sound louder on your computers/portable devices.

Let’s go on to the 4 headphones I own and recommend sorted based on a combination of liking/cost-efficiency:

1) Sennheiser PX10015-27000 Hz, $50~, you get a open over-the-head headphones with very crisp high and deep bass. It’s also foldable, making it easy to carry around. Best bang for the bucks.

2) Sony MDR-EX90LP Stereo Earphones5 – 25000 Hz, $90~, I would say this pair has comparable sound to PX100. The only reason it’s ranked 2nd is because of the price. It’s around $90. It comes with 3 pairs of plastic ear pieces of different sizes, MAKE SURE you find the best-fit, which is required to get the best sound from these. This is the pair I usually travel with because it doesn’t leak sound being in-ear and provides very good sound isolation.

3) Sennheiser HD-595 Premier Headphone12-38500Hz, <$200, a full-size open headphones that has very comfortable paddings that surround the ear. For less than $200, you will get even better/richer sound than PX100 and also a better soundstage (spacious feeling). Though one may say the difference is subtle. You will need to judge if the difference is worth the bucks. You will need an amp to hear the best sound from these “cans”. Oh, and watch out for bad-hair…

4) Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones6 – 23,000 Hz, $25-$30, a cousin of the 2nd place sony headphones, Sony MDR-EX90LP. This is actually the 1st pair of “good” headphones I purchased. It’s also the cheapest here. It’s essentially the same as Sony MDR-EX90LP with muddier sound. Still much better than stock headphones. I use this in the gym.

All of the above headphones are comfortable enough to wear for hours, IMO. I’m by no means stereo sound professional or an audiophile like some out there, but for the love of music, I sincerely hope this is helpful for others out there hunting for headphones for hearing music on their mp3 players/laptops/computers at office.
May you find the best sound.

Piano Student 1 and Piano Studnet 2

I was early for my piano lesson today, so I got the pleasure to witness part of the lesson of another younger student that goes kind of like this…

Teacher: Oh good, let’s get you another piece to play.
Student: Another piece? I alreagy got two…
Teacher: …
Student: I’ll do an easy one.
Teacher: How about this one?
Student: (start talking about cockatrice, which was part of the name of the piece I think)
Teacher: Oh good…interest… let’s play now.
Student: (flip through books, found another piece) I know this one, let’s do this one. (proceeds to start playing with right hand)
Teacher: Great…let’s add the left hand…
Student: (trying to play the chords for left hand…) I’m tired… (took a deep breathe, start shifting around)
Student: (trying to play a little more) I don’t want to do this one anymore. (moving around in chair, wouldn’t play)
Teacher: Dude, stop wasting time, play the piece…
Student: Your time is my time…I need to finish my book report… (kept on talking)
Teacher: (trying very hard to stay calm…”RARRRRRRRRR”, I think that’s what he’s saying inside :P)

Take that and imagine MORE talk going forth and back, then you have the actual situation. Luckily, my teacher did find a 3rd piece that he was able to go through with the kid. He saw the smirk on piano student two – ME -‘s face and his comment to me, “Oh yeah, you are so much easier to teach… fortunately he’s one of the worst already, hahaha…”

On the other hand, while I was waiting for my lesson, my teacher’s mother gave me some reassuring compliments on my piano playing – “很好聽, 很有感情” (enjoyable and involves lots of emotions). Not to brag (maybe a little :P) but this gives me a new surge of motivation, especially for me picking up piano at an older age. I can’t help but have some doubts of how far I can take it. If techniques are lacking, you can still practice… but if a person’s piano does not carry emotion, it’s probably more difficult to correct. So this is definitely a nice timely “pad on the back” that makes me more motivated than ever to keep on playing and practicing, for the love of piano and for whatever audience there maybe…even if it’s just one.

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