I found, to my delight, that the New England Conservatory has free music (classical! jazz!) concerts and workshops just about every day. I'm going to try to go to the jazz recital on Tuesday, if anyone's around and wants to be a music geek with me at 8:30pm.

After a great deal of practice over the past week, a confusing-in-a-good-way lesson, and a day of "why isn't the way I'm practicing this making me better at what I want to learn?" reflection, I think I've come up with a way to learn how to solo on "Well You Needn't" in an unscripted, non-robotic fashion. (My current methodology: left hand comping, right hand occasionally frantically stabbing at random notes on the F blues scale. This does not sound particularly good.) I need to write this down to solidify what I learned and what I'm going to do; when I'm confused, I write. Text is my input/output mode for making sense of what bewilders me.

I gave up alcohol for Lent; I'm also only eating meat one meal a day. As the weeks of Lent go by, I'll see if I can decrease this to N meals per week - most of this is an "other people cooked me meat" thing, but I am trying to be "as vegetarian as comfortably possible." I find myself preferring vegetarian food and lighter meals these days, though I'm still a total sucker for excellent steaks and roasts and anything involving prosciutto. (And cheese-stuffed pasta with a heavy cream-based sauce. Mmmm.)

Last night I was at Mauna Loa and went with them to a (free and very good) negotiation workshop that turned out to be based on "Getting to Yes." I learned two things from this. The first is that I'm still a math dork. As an exercise, the speaker held an auction for a $20 bill based on a twisted set of rules; the MBA alumni jumped in immediately and ended up in a bidding war over who would get to pay far more than $20 for a $20 bill, with the price climbing. My first reaction was to work out a proof for the optimal strategy for the game to maximize your earnings from it to the nearest cent. (Downside: by the time I finished the proof, the bidding had already escalated to ridiculousness. However, the proof was a general one for a Nash equilibrium for the game at any point in time, so it could have been used to cut their losses.)

The second thing I learned was what my dad has tried to tell me for years; I shouldn't be this underconfident about my negotiation abilities. I always thought that I was too young, inexperienced, had crippling blind spots, and "didn't know" how to "negotiate properly." Watching the workshop and the MBAs in it convinced me that I wasn't missing any magic. They didn't know any better, they just had more practice and experience. I probably have blind spots still, but they won't kill me. And others will probably have those blind spots too. And I can find them and get over them. With that, I now believe I can learn how to negotiate by negotiating; there are no prerequisites I'm missing before I can start. (And heck, I've been haggling since I was a little kid at garage sales and the tiangge. What was I so worried about?)

Then I went out to consult with a few friends who are doing a startup (we have an agreement; I consult for them as long as they're feeding me dinner - from when the food appears to when I finish my last forkful). My job is best described as "kicking their asses." I give them blunt and scathing criticism about everything. It's good for me to learn how to criticize the operations of a business in a clear and actionable way, and apparently they think it's helped them too, since they keep feeding me. And by uncovering their blind spots, sometimes I discover and clarify my own. (This paragraph is vague for confidentiality, but if they open-source their product*, this will change.)

*...working on it. I'm pretty convinced they should - it makes the most business sense, as best as I can tell. But I am biased.