Author Archives: malcolm kogut

About malcolm kogut

Malcolm Kogut has been tickling the ivories (and their distant cousin the plastics) since he was 14. He writes both popular and sacred music and won the National Association of Pastoral Musicians DMMD Musician of the Year award in 1999. He has two CDs of original works to his credit along with many published piano and choral books. Malcolm played in the pit for many Broadway touring shows and Albany, NY-area theater groups. When away from the keyboard, he loves exploring the nooks and crannies of the Adirondack Mountains, battling gravity on the ski slopes, and going with the flow of roller coaster-enhanced G-forces.

Amazfit Pace compared to Garmin Vivofit and Map My Hike

I’ve been researching wearable trackers and have been looking at three products which all boast the same relative features: Fenix 3HR ($479), TomTom Adventurer ($349) and the Amazfit Pace ($159). You can find a 20% or 30% discount on retailmenot.com for the Pace. The Amazfit is new on the market. It premiered in China mid 2016 and in the USA on January of 2017. I was interested in the Pace because of it’s price. Especially if it did everything I wanted and at a third of the price with a discount. There is a lot of misinformation about the Amazfit Pace online, I suspect because it is still new or its competitors are trolling it. Here is some of the incorrect data out there;

“It is only in Chinese” – only if you purchase the Chinese version. Buy the USA version (Pace) if you want it in English.

“It is only in metric.” The Pace is in Imperial.

“It is only in military time.” Some of its native clock faces are in 24 hour time, others are in 12 hour time. There are 13 faces to choose from and it is too bad they can not be customized or utilize third party apps. Maybe they will change this in the future with an update.

“It does not have breadcrumbing or altitude features.” It does. When you begin a workout, you can choose from RUN, WALK, INDOOR RUN or TRAIL RUN. I beleive the altitude gauge only displays in TRAIL RUN mode. Breadcrumb is also in TRAIL RUN, you just have to scroll to the bottom screen for it.

I have two friends, one with the Fenix 3 and the other with Ambit 3. Then next time we go hiking together, I will do a more detailed comparison. For now, I performed a simple test of the Amazfit Pace, my Garmin Vivofit and the Android app Map My Hike. Here is the comparison data. I walked two blocks in an area surrounded by houses and trees.

Altitude: Pace said I was at 351 feet. The Altitude app on my phone reported 331. whatismyelevation.com said my elevation was 334.

Heart Rate: The Pace utilizes a PPG heart rate sensor while my Vivofit uses an ECG heart rate chest strap sensor. ECG is regarded to be more accurate while PPG is good for averages.
First check: Pace 73, Vivofit 70, my finger 68. My peak heart rate was listed: Pace 156, Vivofit 108.

Steps: Pace 967, Garmin 989.

Maximum speed: Pace 4.14 mph, Map My Hike: 4.1 mph
Calories burned: Pace 36, Map My Hike 56, Garmin 46.
Mileage: Pace .43 miles, Map My Hike .43 (I forgot to mark my Garmin but it is not GPS and I’m sure would be a little more based upon more steps).

Sleep. Neither is particularly accurate because I watched an hour of TV in bed before going to sleep and watched about an hour when I woke up.
Deep sleep: Pace 2 hours and 21 minutes. Garmin 4 hours and 42 minutes.
Total sleep: Pace 8:39, Garmin 9:09

As you can see from the attached pictures, neither my phone nor the Pace were very accurate but, I will blame that on the houses and trees. Maybe I need to recalibrate both or walk faster. Both were very accurate when I tested them while driving. The Pace tracks both Russian (GLONASS) and USA satellites and picks them up very fast.

The third photo is of the GPS tracking feature. In some wearables, this is called “Breadcrumb.” For me, this is a valuable feature because I wander off trail sometimes and using this “map,” it will help me find my way back.

It is also worth noting that one can get the Noom Walk app for a pedometer, Map My Hike for mapping and Altitude for a compass and just use your phone for the same relative data.

Who knows which one of these tools are the most accurate. If you use them to relatively and consistently track your own data, you can get a good measure of your activities and metrics.

A mark of a good company is that they give ownership of their product to their customers and clients. I hope Huami Amazfit will make their product available to third parties so that customers can customize their own workout metrics, watch faces and app export. Right now the Pace only works with Strava.

I don’t like how the Pace is propitiatory to a phone and does not work on its own. Once activated though, you don’t need to carry the phone around and, the pairing was a little confusing and not at all like the demo videos online.

The transflective screen is excellent outside in the sunlight. Not so much indoors.

Push notifications work very well and instantly. Those are very much customizable.

So, would I buy an Amazfit Pace? I don’t know yet. For sure, they give “the big boys” a run for their money so the big boys better take notice.

amaze

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A better send-off than wretched 2016 deserved

Songs to Amuse, Steamer No. 10 Theatre, Dec. 31
Shawn Stone | Monday, January 2 2017

Keyboardist Malcolm Kogut and singer Byron Nilsson (aka B.A. Nilsson in these pages) brought their cabaret act Songs to Amuse to the stage at Steamer No. 10 Theatre on New Year’s Eve, where a happy crowd heartily laughed at a two-hour (including intermission) program of (mostly) 20th-century songs intended to, as advertised, amuse.

They began with “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” which was originally introduced in a 1939 movie by Groucho Marx, and widely known now thanks to Kermit the Frog’s version. It’s a pun-filled, slightly salacious chronicle of one woman’s varied and outlandish body art, and as an opener, a pretty good indication of what was to come. Written by Harburg and Arlen around the same time they were composing the songs for The Wizard of Oz, Nilsson also told the story of–and sang–a lyric excised by a studio exec out of concern that it would “date” the number. The line? “When she sits, she sits on Hitler.”

What was the thing with everyone underestimating Hitler’s long-term prospects?

And that was the show: Smart, varied musical approaches by Kogut, fine singing and snappy patter by Nilsson. There were songs by Noel Coward and Tom Lehrer (the latter allowing Kogut to add a little synthesized Irish fiddle); songs made famous by the likes of Al Jolson (“Why Do They All Take The Night Boat to Albany”) and Blossom Dearie (Dave Frishberg’s “My Attorney Bernie”); a trio of thoroughly delightful numbers written by the Brit duo Flanders and Swann; and many more.

Nilsson even tossed out a couple of lines from DeSylva, Brown and Henderson’s “Turn On the Heat,” one of the more demented songs from that most demented year of Hollywood musicals, 1929.

Particularly enjoyable was the woe-filled (as opposed to woeful) temperance ballad, “Father’s a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead.” This horrible tale of 19th-century death and abandonment provided the opportunity for a jaunty sing-along. The duo helpfully included the lyrics to the refrain on the back of the program: “Mother, oh! Why did you leave me alone/With no one to love me, no friends and no home?/Dark is the night, and the storm rages wild/God pity Bessie, the Drunkard’s lone child!”

While there was no happy ending for “Bessie,” we in the audience had a fine time singing about her misery.

As the second half of the program wound down, the duo saved something special for the end: the 1937 labor ballad, “Capitalistic Boss.” This rich bastard’s lament gave Nilsson a chance to tear into a life of greed, exploitation, indolence, political violence and selfishness with an angry glee, as the narrator continually returned to one line of defense: “Something is wrong with my brain.”

The evening ended with everyone joining in on “Auld Lang Syne.” Kogut and Nilsson sent us out into the cold with warmer spirits than when we arrived, and ready to enjoy whatever revelry the last three hours of 2016 had in store.

http://thealt.com/2017/01/02/better-send-off-wretched-2016-deserved/

Lessons and Carols for Small Churches

Lessons and Carols for Small Churches

Someone asked for a hymn based lessons and carols format for churches with small or no choir. Here is a template of one that I have used in the past.

Welcome
Entrance Hymn “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”
Opening Prayer
“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
First Lesson Genesis 3:8-5, 17-19
“Once In Royal David’s City”
Second Lesson Isaiah 11:1-3a, 4a-9
“Away In A Manger”
Third Lesson Luke 1:26-38
“The Snow Lay On The Ground”
Fourth Lesson Luke 2:1-7
“Angels From the Realms of Glory”
Fifth Lesson Luke 2:8-16
“What Child Is This”
Sixth Lesson Matthew 2:1-12
“We Three Kings”
Seventh Lesson John 1:1-14
“Silent Night”
Blessing
Recessional “Angels We Have Heard On High”

Other carols to consider: “Joy To The World,” “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” any Advent hymn or, you can substitute any solo or a choral anthem the choir is working on.

My Quora answer to What are hindrances and obstacles to church growth?

First and foremost is that society doesn’t beleive in the church institution anymore. Churches are not called to grow but to serve. When they serve, they begin to grow. People are not dumb, they can recognize an insincere church right off the bat. They can discern which ones are ice cold, lukewarm or red hot. Most are lukewarm and that is their problem. They won’t grow if they are lukewarm.

Every church has it own challenges and obstacles. Most of the time the hindrances are the people themselves. Growth comes from many avenues: good preaching, good music, a welcoming community, location, parking, energy level, comfortable space, social opportunities, service opportunity and consistency.

A church once asked me to give them ideas to help promote growth and I gave them a list of 18 activities that they could easily organize over the course of a year. They said “I don’t like that one.” “This one isn’t something that fits our community.” “We don’t want to attract those kind of people.” and “Who is going to do all this?” I told them that energy begets energy, that they must incorporate people of all generational, cultural, economic and educational levels into a comprehensive program and, even if they start small they will grow. They whittled the list down to three and then they didn’t even do those three. Survival of the fittest. Not to act is to act.

I think the church needs to be offering the community at least one activity or event each week. Even if the unchurched community is not interested in every topic, at least they will see that this church is active and vibrant and may decide to give it a chance.

I took a church with three services a weekend and after fifteen years we grew to five services and two of them were SRO. There was no one thing that promoted the growth rather a sinuous network of everything. Everything was comprehensive. We got rid of youth, teen and adult choirs and evolved to a family choir. The youth groups didn’t do their own youthy things but rather plugged into all the ministries of the community and church with the adults. Our music too became comprehensive and we did away with the folk group, the traditional choir and the praise band. We did all styles of music at every service and no group owned a particular service.

My suggestions for a church looking to grow are three things; Pastors, get out of your office. Jesus didn’t keep office hours. Get out and be with the people. Establish a beat like the old timey police officer. Regularly visit diners, bars, clubs, senior centers, nursing homes, jails, courts, be seen and heard. Approach people and be approachable and wear your collar. Don’t do it to drum up business, do it to comfort, heal, serve and welcome. Go to the mall, sit on one of the sofas in the hallway and put out a sign, “I will talk to anyone about anything.” Pass out your card for further ministering and don’t worry about your homily. If these things you do, the homily will take care of itself.

Hire a music director who does not worship music, one where music is not his ministry but someone who loves people and music is the vehicle to ministering to them. This person needs to spend time with the staff to come up with creative and diverse ideas and programs and know how to delegate lovingly and compassionately. The children of Israel were taken as slaves of the Babylonians and the musicians were forced to entertain their captors but they refused and hid their instruments in the trees by the river. The Babylonians said play or we will smash your babies against the rocks and they still refused. Likewise, a true music minister needs to know when to put down their instrument and minister. Their job isn’t an hour on Sunday morning. It begins when the service is over and ends the following Sunday when they pick up their instruments to worship – not entertain.

Finally, as I said before, lots and lots and lots and lots of events and activities. One activity can grow into something big. I once played weekly organ recitals at noon on a weekday. We started with about 20 people and after a year there were about 200 in attendance. They didn’t come for the music, they came because it was the place to be. My choir started bringing in refreshments. The parolees in the shelter next door came for the refreshments. A home for disabled adults started busing in residents to get them out of the facility. Homeless people came in out of the cold. The parolees began ushering at the door and cleaning up afterward. The homeless began passing out flyers in the community. Pastors, choir members and organists came to network. Brides came to scope out the building. A police officer came in regularly to chat with the parolees to see what he could do for them. Eventually the parolees started to use the building during the day for their AA and NA meetings. The place was a beehive of activity and people started visiting the church because – something was going on there. As the psalmist foretells in Psalm 66: Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

There is another thing, the church needs to give back to the community. It needs to do something that makes a difference. It needs to do several things that make a difference. People want to be part of something that makes a difference, not just sit in a pew and be entertained. When people visit or join the church, have ministries they can immediately plug into and I don’t mean things like altar guild, choir, usher or woman’s club. Things like working the food pantry, prison ministry, mission trips, gun buyback programs, homeless shelter, or do something revolutionary like Canada’s safe injection center (drug users can go there to shoot up without fear of arrest but medical care and counseling is provided in case something goes wrong. These centers have never had anyone die of an overdose while blocks away, people die from overdoses alone and unaided, hmmmph – do something revolutionary and save lives or not?), and, the church needs to tithe to some big program like California’s Housing Works program where they give houses to the homeless. Yup, GIVE. It gets them off the street and gives them stable shelter. A homeless person can cost your county about $20,000 a year in medical care alone because they lack shelter. With shelter and a place to secure a job from, they will be healthier. Dollar for dollar, homeless shelters are not cost effective on the whole and are only a band-aid. Check them out: housingworksca.org. Start one in your community.

Too bad the church can’t focus on some of these problems rather than worrying about growth and paying the bills. Pew people are not “customer acquisitions,” they are saints in the making. Too bad we don’t have institutions that fostered that growth and marshaled those forces. Oh, we do. It is called the DSS. They take care of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the hopeless, the dying, the lonely, the abandoned, the imprisoned, the evicted, the illegal, the incurable, the different, the despised, the abused, the addicted, the forgotten, the neglected, the invisible, the battered and the frightened. Right there in that sentence is an awful lot a church can set its sights on and grow – instead or arguing over whether to keep the kneelers or not, to put in pew cushions or not, or the new wall color, or renting space to the gay men’s community choir. Not in my church! Think of the children.

Halloween Organ Recital

Join the Foothills Methodist Church, 17 Fremont St. in Gloversville on Sunday, October 30, at 3:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary for an exciting Halloween organ recital featuring a smorgasbord of classics, favorites and surprises. Malcolm Kogut will perform pieces such as the vivid and bristling with energy Dubois Toccata and the ubiquitous Toccata in D Minor by J. S. Bach. Other music will include Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Boellmann’s famous suite Toccata, and “In the Garden.” The organ recital is free and open to the public.

Halloween Organ Recital

Join the Foothills Methodist Church in Gloversville on Sunday, October 30, at 3:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary for an exciting organ recital featuring a smorgasbord of classics, favorites and surprises. Malcolm Kogut will perform pieces such as the vivid and bristling with energy Dubois Toccata to the ubiquitous Toccata in D Minor by J. S. Bach. Other music will include Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Boellmann’s famous Suite Gothic Toccata, and the tear jerking “In the Garden.” The organ recital is free and open to the public. For a sample medley of the recital, point your browsers to Youtube, here:

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One thing Malcolm Kogut loves about living in New England is the endless number of mountain trails there is to explore. Malcolm loves challenging himself and friends to explore a new trail together and he enjoys both the defiance of and going with gravity. His favorite hikes over the years have been St. Regis near Saranac Lake, Mt. Baker in Washington state and Ice Caves Mountain in Ellenville, NY. Hiking is one of the best ways to get fit and explore nature at the same time. Malcolm’s commitment to hiking is especially important to keeping up his musical pursuits for, hiking gives him something to play about. After all, nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they worked more.

Stop and Frisk App

Most everyone carries a phone with video capabilities today so it is not surprising that when something happens in the community, the footage we see on the news is from someone who just happened to be passing by rather than a professional journalist.

Most all of the headline news video evidence against police wrongdoing over the past few years has been shot from bystanders who saw the encounter and pulled out their cellphones. These videos can not only help to get bad cops off the street but, it can also be used to protect the good ones who are often accused of negligence but later exonerated because of amateur video evidence.

The ACLU has developed an app called “Stop and Frisk App” or “Mobile Justice App” which was designed to serve this purpose, to both protect the rights of those suspected of malfeasance and the officer from those who foolishly resist their authority.

Here is how it works. You install the app on your phone and when you are pulled over or detained by the police, you trigger the app. It then sends out a message to nearby users where the police encounter is happening. Those community groups who monitor police activity can then go to the scene and record the interaction. The video is recorded live and also saved on the ACLU servers where it is inspected and preserved as evidence.

I have to repeat that this app is a great tool to both protect the police and protect the rights of those who are being detained by the police. It is also a message to Big Brother that Little Brother is watching, too.

Check it out at the ACLU website:

https://www.aclu.org/feature/aclu-apps-record-police-conduct