Friday – Day 249 #TheNextBigThing

Posted on 11th April 2013

Firstly in case you noticed the odd title of this post, I will be hashtagging a number of my posts as such for the next few weeks. This is because I’m part of a promotion at the University of Pennsylvania to promote the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and have been given the opportunity to own one myself if I pass a sufficient threshold of views. Selling out it may be, but I trust you to forgive me for the period of two weeks or so. Also, if you feel like being particularly generous, like my posts, as that counts extra!

Friday was intensely busy with grading CIS 121 midterms for a good majority of the day. It was relatively uneventful with the exception of a difficult coding question at the end. The gist of the question was as follows:

Write a method boolean hashCycle(Digraph g, Node v) inside a class CycleChecker that returns true if there is a directed cycle reachable from Node v and false if no such cycle exists. Assume an unweighted, directed graph.

Assessing student responses was difficult, even more so given that many of the TAs found the question to be challenging as well.

In the afternoon I caught a bus to New York City, where I would be staying for the weekend as part of the Glee Club NYC Performance Tour. Upon arrival I was taken by my fellow clubbers Dan ‘Po’ Carsello and Kirk ‘Mortton’ Arner to a home in the West Village. The place where I was to be staying for the weekend belonged to one Daniel Pincus, Glee Alum and renaissance man.

Dan was a consultant for The Quantic Group, a pharma focused consulting group. Balanced with that is his position on the board of The Muslim Jewish Conference, an international non for profit that focuses on discussing topics of shared concern between the two faith communities. That was paired with additional activism efforts he engages in across the middle east, working to free women from repression and on the establishment of civil liberties.Oh and did I mention he founded his own popular dance troupe?

Not only is he professionally accomplished, but he is something of an artist, with a work of his own on display and varied books on artwork and photography.

Sitting on Dan’s coffee table was a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a top of the range, full frame, digital camera. He was gracious enough to let me take a few photos on it, but the feature set was overwhelming and combined with my very amateur skills, didn’t result in any fantastic images.

Opposite the coffee table, I fell in love. As I entered the room for the first time, my eyes were immediately drawn to a piano mysteriously labelled with a white number 15. The piano was a Steinway upright, already a good sign, and as I tinkled at the keys, rich, full, dulcet tones rose from the heart of the beast.

Piano #15

Piano #15

My first impression of Dan when he walked through the door was already pretty favourable. His stride evoked a sense of confidence but the smile on his face and his demeanour as he walked two guests into the house betrayed a side that carried more spontaneity. Bolstering my impression of him was the two fine ladies that entered with him, a gorgeous Pakistani in a flowing yellow evening gown and a researcher from the Antarctic circle, casually in conversation.

From his position, it would’ve been easy to lay the three awkward Glee Clubbers in his house aside and make haste to away to his next destination of the evening, but generously he offered us to join him on his next adventure.

His next animus was to convene with an artist friend of his, who, residing above a dumpster owned by an Italian Mafia family, had been commissioned by Dan to build a ‘Gamelatron’ – a fully automated Indonesian gong music ensemble. He showed great passion towards this pet project of his, and enthused all of us as to it’s transformative powers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to embark on the trip (Dan and Kirk filled the car anyway) but a few hours later they returned with stories of wonder. It seems they two were as impressed by Dan as I was.


Dan then explained to me the story of Piano #15 and my breath was almost taken away. He took a photo of the signatures under the lid and explained to me that the piano I had played on was in fact purchased from Carnegie Hall and had been played on by artists such as the great Lang Lang.

Lang Lang's Signature

Lang Lang’s Signature

Following their return, I closed up my Physics books, unpacked on the couch in his most spacious apartment and soon fell fast asleep.


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