The great pianist-composer Chopin's next door neighbor

May 27 2016

was a reclusive Jew relatively unknown for writing varied, intensely hard piano music. I'd argue this guy wrote the hardest music that sounds like music (vs. annoying nonsense), though his music is an acquired taste.

Hello there!!! I'm a reclusive Armenian, I don't think I have any famous neighbors but who knows!? I've a hard time making friends, I guess knowing me is an acquired taste.

It's all downhill for me, my career that is. Literaly: I'm a computational scientist, specializing in numerical optimization. Basically, I instruct computers on how to find the lowest points of things: going downhill. I love this sort of thing because it brings the best of science together, and you can solve all kinds of crazy problems: planning routes through cities, designing basically anything, simulating the universe, creating 3D surfaces from pictures (my favorite!), financial planning, neural network building, detecting cancer with less radiation, list goes on.

Day job gets old though. I'm more excited that I'm moonshining as a machinist lately than about the constrained nonlinear multivariate functions I need to minimize for my day job. Studying electromagnetics when I can, because I never did, diffraction is crazy cool.

Have you ever looked inside a crevasse? No? Do it ASAP!!! Find a glacier near you, walk up it, locate a crack, look down (careful though, you could die!). They are so modest, considering that they're bottomless icy death traps. I literally walked over one last year wider than my body without realizing it till just across. I think mountains are the coolest things, not because they're big or because you feel like you conquered something if you make it to the top, but because they are so alien. That little earth-zit in the distance is SO different from anywhere else.

I didn't originally think I wanted kids, but my (unintended) three year old daughter is just the coolest thing I've ever had. I love her so much. The other week she said "Hello my little Ben! I mean, hello my big fat man!" and I just fell giggling on the floor. The awe in her face when I crack open a seed I find on a walk to see what color it is inside, priceless. Definitely recommend.

I think I'll stop with one though.

The rapist has taught me to take responsibility for my feelings, which the cowboy in me translates as "think & talk with less bullshit". I've become enamored with this idea and want to share via example: let's say you're talking to a friend and he makes another joke that's boring. Most would say:

"You're boring, dude."

He'll probably laugh it off or bite back, but this contributes to bullshit in the world. What else wrong with this picture? You conveyed your opinion in a dismissive manner, and judged him. Consider instead:

"You bore me, dude."

You took responsibility for what you experienced by comminucating what is, by definition, an indisputable fact. What you said was probably more effective than the other approach, with the benefit of being fully judjement-devoid.


Music recommendation: Alkan's Scherzo Focoso played by Yui Morishita, if you're still curious about what piano music at the glorious edge of human playability looks like.

Life is good, but I'm in agony. With love,

-Ben "Little MoFo" Semerjian, 30, Portland, OR

(does it count as a nickname if I'm the only one who uses it?)

Nasty Saviar
Portland, OR

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