Tuning my systems

I have two items to blog about on my next actions list:

  • 057 Blog re: moving to using calendar instead of my other solutions for managing birthdays @computer
  • 038 Blog re: Piano Tuning @computer

At first it might look like these are complete different items but they both reflect items that were bothering me and are now "fixed" in some way. Let me explain.

We "inherited" a piano from my parents when they moved. They didn't have the space for it and JoDee has always wanted to have a piano. $300 and we got the piano moved (which was one less thing for my parents to worry about in a period when they had a lot of things to worry about (my parents have a pack-rat tendency that I've blogged about earlier).

This piano is a Story & Clark piano. They were manufactured in Grand Haven, MI before someone likely bought the name and slapped it whatever wood-with-felt-and-strings they currently manufacture. My parents got this piano in the 1970s and it's survived many stages and years of benevolent neglect. The last time it was properly tuned was likely in 1995 (the card for the piano tuner was still in the piano, unbeknownst to us). Over the years it's slowly gone flat, sometimes as much as a half-step flat. JoDee referred to it as the "old-timey-saloon" piano. I don't think it was quite that bad, but it was definitely in need of tuning.

Unfortunately it took a long time to find a piano tuner that responded to email. I prefer to use email for communicating because I hate using the phone. I had several requests to various tuners that never went answered. Fortunately I managed to find one that did respond to email and we coordinated to have a tuner come out to tune the piano. As he opened the piano he marveled at the condition. Other than being a bit dusty the piano action and hammers were in very good condition..He pulled out his keys and began working on the piano.

Hearing each note being lulled back into place was revealing. I knew the piano was flat but I didn't realize just how flat it was. It took less than an hour to bring it back in tune.

When he finished he played an amazing little flourish to ensure that everything was working. When he was done I joked about needing to give him a tip for the performance. To be honest it was probably the most action that piano has seen in its lifetime. I did some mediocre lessons on it when I was younger and JoDee is currently taking piano lessons (and getting quite good). But this was concert-level, gawking-at-the-bus-stop levels of piano playing.

Which brings me to me moving to calendar. I've been using a few services for remembering birthdays. I've used Monica, an old script written in Perl, and my own bespoke birthday reminder program written in Python. All of them have worked to some degree but I'm finding Monica a bit overkill (and also finding that their maintenance of it has slowed considerably). So I looked around for something simple to help me remember folks birthdays and other important events.

calendar is proof that most everything relating to productivity has been done on a Unix system in some fashion. It is also a reminder that Unix is a programmer-centric operating system, as its configuration files are parsed using the C Pre-Processor (cpp).

But, it works. I can create a text file and put events in there with little difficulty. It sends me email messages to let me know about upcoming events. It does what it needs to do and means that I can decommission a few scripts and services.

In short, it allows me to tune up my processes and not have to think about things as much.

And that's the key. We sometimes get used to how things are without really considering how they could be. We'd been suffering an out-of-tune piano for decades, but making the effort to get someone out to tune it made it into a beautiful instrument. Finding a utility that can serve my reminder purposes means I have a better way of entering events and several less things to check.

Making the effort can have some pretty big pay-offs. I need to keep reminding myself of this fact.

(And now I can mark two items off my next actions list.)