The Biggest Instrument in the World

The World Harp

We just got back from a concert featuring an instrument called the World Harp. A group of artists and technicians travel around the world and have concerts featuring this harp.

Playing the harp

Building the harp

Tonight, they had constructed it from the base on the ground, to the bridge at the top of a skyscraper. The harp strings were literally strung to the top of the building. The assist stood on the bridge of the harp and played by rubbing the cables with gloves.

You can see how the cables attach to the top of the skyscraper

How the harp works

Walking through downtown on our way to the concert was a trip. You could hear the harp music reverberating through the city for blocks away. It was amazing! I wish they played every night.

Trip to Iceland

I’m writing this from the BART in San Francisco. Tomorrow, I attend a brief workshop on Institutional Research in Independent Schools. I always find SF to be so energizing–it’s like, even landing in SFO feels exciting to me. For some reason, it seems like this is a city full of people like me. Seeing billboards in the airport for companies I’ve worked with, or interned for, or whose products I use makes me feel oddly at home.

Celebrating my 30th birthday

Birthday Flowers

The biggest thing that happened this month was our trip to Iceland for my 30th birthday! Look how absolutely gorgeous it is:

Sunset on the Reykjavik Bay

Visiting Iceland

Everybody wants to know, “Why Iceland?”. The backstory is this. Before my boyfriend and I were dating, he attended my meetup group. One day, I received a groupon in the mail: $800 for a trip to Iceland including flights. I came to the meetup that night, and invited him along with me. He accepted, but since we didn’t know each other well, we each thought the other was kidding.

Fast forward a year and a half, and we got super cheap tickets from Wow Airlines for roundtrip fare to Reykjavik.

Us on the Reykjavik Bay

Before we headed out, I bought “Teach Yourself Icelandic”, and powered through the first half of it. Icelandic has six extra characters, and I kept muttering to myself in order to get the pronunciation right. Shannon, however, thought I was cursing quietly in Elvish, which I guess I was.

All of that practice came in handy on the second day of the trip. We had taken the bus the wrong direction (totally my fault) but so did a couple of little girls. At the end of the line, in an airfield somewhere, they were totally lost and freaking out. When one of the girls called her mom, I was able to get on the line and reassure her that we would take care of the girls, and put them on a cab back home. It all worked out fine, but we did get to see the independence of Icelandic kids first hand.

That reminds me of this fascinating article I read last week about child development in different parts of the world:

Babies from parts of Africa, the Caribbean or India whose bodies are constantly jostled and vigorously handled by their mothers reach motor milestones earlier than babies in Western cultures, who spend a lot of time on their backs.

Babies in some indigenous cultures who are rarely put down skip the crawling stage entirely.

Vietnamese toddlers don’t go through potty training as we know it, because they’ve been more or less diaper-free all their lives.

It’s pretty well documented that Scandinavian families leave their babies outside cafes in the winter, and let their kids walk to school. But to see them all alone in an airfield was still a little shocking to our sensibilities.

Helgafell

On the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

One of the days, we rented a little Peugeot and drove up to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We intended to make it to the Snaefelljökull volcano, but the road was on fire so we went a different way.

Along the way, we encountered otherworldly craters–one called Eldborg which was my favorite.

We also climbed to the top of Helgafell, Thor’s holy mountain. It had a family of sheep grazing at the bottom. The farmer family there had been maintaining the mountain since 800 CE.

Climbing down Helgafell

Iceland was absolutely gorgeous, and I couldn’t have rung in the fourth decade of my life in any better way.


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How I Got Started in Tech

Q: How did you get started in tech?

A: After graduating from college, I landed an internship at a public charter school in DC. The school was fantastic, but it didn’t have a website. Wanting to fix that, I was excited when my coworker told me about something called Wordpress, and their quick installation. After checking it out, I realized it wasn’t that difficult, and decided to build it. After that, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve continued to code for about nine years now. I started learning object oriented programming with Python in 2012, but my facility with code began to improve dramatically when I started a Ruby group called Ruby in Hollywood in 2015. General Assembly, a code bootcamp, was the next stop on my journey, and there I learned some programming concepts and how to build MEAN stack apps. Now I’m still working on Ruby apps with Rails and Roda, and have started exploring the exciting new developments in the Elixir & Phoenix world.