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Apr. 12th, 2015

Sorry it's been so long. You haven't missed much, though.

The show on April 3rd went surprisingly well. I don't know how much to say; I actually was not really mentally ready to perform a show, except when the time came I performed it and did well and got lots of compliments. So apparently, I don't really know. I played first, got to sit down and enjoy the Lost Cuzzins play the other half of the show, and had a nice slice of apple pie.

The only unpleasant surprise was leaving the venue to find it was sleeting. It could've been worse though.

The laptop is about the same as it was. At the moment it's fine. About once a week, it is prone to frequent freezes, and then it throws itself into repair mode, and then it's fine for a while. I'm now weeks behind in Windows Updates as a result, unfortunately, but I'm afraid to get it caught up until I can effect an effective long-term fix. I should do that soon, though, because my antivirus program wants to be renewed in the next twelve days.

It might actually be spring here, finally. At least the daffodils and tulips that are just blooming today hope so. All my neighbors were out yesterday doing that yardwork frenzy that suburbanites do. They're making my lawn look bad.

It's Poetry Month in North America. I wanted to do something associated with it, but it's not coming together, unfortunately. I will note that my friend vaneramos is writing a poem a day this month, and he is quite good at it, so if you like good poetry go visit his LJ.

Charlie Monterey show this Friday!

Details from Maggie Ferguson on Facebook:

Live! From the Living Room Acoustic Showcase

Unity of Lake Orion
3070 S. Baldwin Rd
Orion Township, MI

Admission: $10.00/person Doors open at 7:30 Show at 8:00 pm

Friday, April 3rd
Charlie Monterey - songwriter and song interpreter, Charlie plays his own music and covers a myriad of others as well as songs of the American West, tales of Michigan, and the Great Lakes. Charlie's lustrous guitar and his clear tenor voice perfectly frame his warm, friendly songs.

The Lost Cuzzins - are Ron McPhail, Dean Barnett, Jim Williams, and Kent
Krueger. Their family ties are mysterious, including bloodlines from Ireland,
Japan, Wales, Germany, and some nefarious Cajun influences. Their music is a mixed bag of folk, country, light rock and blues, and includes many of their own creations. All of the Cuzzins sing, and intricate harmonies are one of their specialties. Each musician is a multi-instrumentalist, which makes for lively, interesting performances, which include acoustic guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro, keyboard, harmonica, cello, banjo and pennywhistles.

Our new home features a beautiful auditorium, comfortable seating, fine sound system, and free, convenient parking. Refreshments available

Directions: Take I-75 N to Baldwin Rd North exit 84A. Go north on Baldwin Rd approx 1.9 miles. To the west you will see the Dollar General. Unity of Lake Orion shares a short driveway with the Dollar General. Turn west into the drive then jog left into the church parking lot. The church is set back from the road and might be hard to see at first. Coming from the south, if you get to Waldon Rd, you've gone too far.

Here's a map link:,-83.308775,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0xf5464dcba11d8f5b?sa=X&ei=Qr4iVNbXGYqMyATbvIAo&ved=0CGQQ_BIwCw


Apr. 1st, 2015

It's a good thing I don't get paid by the number of LJ posts I make.

Update on my laptop: The repair shop determined that the hardware is OK, so the problem must be with either the operating system or other software; perhaps it's a virus, or perhaps damaged system files. To repair that, they would have required me to buy an annual service plan. It's possible they would've applied the diagnostic fee that I already paid to that subscription. But I took the machine back. I can fix software, even up to reinstalling Windows, if I have to.

That was a week ago. I did some work on the system, and it has worked better than before, though it still freezes up occasionally and I have to reboot. It seems to help when I clear the Firefox cache well before it gets to its maximum size. I can't say that's the thing, though. I'll have to work on it some more.

Other news: I went to visit Dave in Indiana. I was driving there on the day the governor signed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We spent a lot of time shaking our heads at news broadcasts. We went up to the Nashville House for chicken dinners, apple butter and biscuits, and giant home-made cookies to go. It was a very pretty day and the trip was only somewhat marred by horrible road construction just outside of Clarksville. (Grrr.)

Road construction is hugely prevalent now. At the Michigan-Ohio state border, one is confronted by a sign reading "Road Work Next 50 Miles" and they are not kidding. Of course, that's better than in Michigan, where everyone pleads poverty and the roads are crumbling to dust, but that's another rant.

Other than that, life has been pretty average lately. I have another thing to mention, but I'll give that its own post.

As the computer turns

In the comments of my previous post there was some discussion of tattoos. I wanted to write about mine, since there's a little bit of a story to it. But ... here's where the excuses come in, of course ... I'd need a photo of the tattoo, right? And my camera is working, but it only connects to the Win7 laptop, not the WinXP desktop (I think because the memory card in the camera is too new for WinXP). And the laptop had to go in for service on Monday. So I can take a photo, but I can't get it out of the camera until the laptop is fixed. So, unless I use an old photo of the tattoo, which I'd rather not do that, it'll be a while for the story of my tattoo. Next week, maybe.

The laptop developed this interesting quirk of running for between one and ten minutes, then freezing up while a psychedelic plaid pattern filled the display. Neither trackpad nor keyboard registered, and I would have to cold boot the thing. Sometimes it would restart fine, other times not, regardless of what repairs or diagnostics I could run. I don't know enough to fix things like this, so off it went and we'll let a geek deal with it. Worth noting, too, is that the battery had reached the end of its useful life, too, and needs replacement.

The laptop woes mess up my life a little, because there's no more sitting on the couch or in a coffeehouse with it until it's repaired. Good thing my desktop is still working, even if it's nine or ten years old itself and the hard disc is something like 80% full. But the desktop isn't very portable, so I'm stuck in my office/music room/clutter room if I want to do computer stuff. (I may have to take my work laptop home this weekend, but don't tell anyone....)


The status is quo

It has been pretty dull in this corner of the universe these last couple of weeks. Since the last cannon blast of the 1812 Overture echoed away, it's been a regular cycle of sleep, work, and eat, with occasional trips to the gym. I have managed to get to the gym twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, regularly for a few weeks, and that makes me feel good. The significant cold spell we had from late January through February has lifted and most of the snow has melted.

Last week marked the first anniversary of my mother's passing. I contemplated some sort of post here but couldn't really pull anything together. Arguably, seeing the DSO play the 1812 was kind of the big thing in that regard for me. On last Friday, I alternated between goofy utterances and staring off into space for long moments. I've been OK other than that.

I've been lax in photography lately, so I ran out for a short trip on Saturday and managed to snag a photo of Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit as the sunlight got really nice and warm:
Sweetest Heart of Mary
That's was about all I managed with the camera before the sun went behind a huge bank of clouds. Such is life.

I'm trying to come up with something exciting this weekend. Maybe some retail therapy, I dunno. A coworker thinks I should get a new tattoo, which doesn't seem like the thing one should just jump into. I have long had ideas for another one, but not the pressing need to do it. I've long had all kinds of ideas in general. They've just kind of sat there, needing some sort of motivation to happen. I'll report back if something does happen.

1812 Overture (BOOM!)

I went to see and hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra play the 1812 Overture, in the finale of their TchaikovskyFest. I took my sister, who had never been to see the DSO before. The program included the second symphony, a.k.a. the "Little Russian," and two works for cello and orchestra, a nocturne and the Variations on a Rococo Theme.

The first 3/4ths of the program was fine, as fine as the DSO has been playing all season. Great playing, insightful interpretations, and many fun moments. The cellist, Narek Hakhnazaryan, was serious but had playful moments, interacting with the orchestra as they tossed the spotlight back and forth. Our ovations enticed him to give us an encore, which took a somber tone as he dedicated it to the memory of the 1.5 million lost in the Armenian genocide, 100 years ago this year. The piece, Lamentations by the Italian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima, alternated dolorous held notes with sections of fierce, adventurous playing; it sounded very modern, and was obviously heartfelt. The audience gave him a bigger ovation after this than even before.

And then came the peak. I cannot be objective, for this very personal reason: The 1812 Overture is probably THE classical work introduced to us by my mother that affects me most deeply. She would turn it up as loud as it would go when she played it on the stereo. I haven't been able to think of the piece in the last two weeks without tears. Fortunately, I know the piece so well I didn't have to "study" it beforehand. From the opening notes of the mid-strings today, I was choking back sobs. It was hard work to not make a spectacle of myself. I believe they played it as well as they've done anything else I've heard them do, but I was so lost in the whole experience. It was, I have to say, the loudest I think they've ever played, but that was perfect. Gods, what an experience.

I'm very glad my sister was there. She was about as affected by the performance as I was. I only wish we could've taken Mom. I would have gladly paid for box seats.

An added pleasure: We saw jjfmi and his partner Sharon. They had seats right up front. That means they felt the cannons very well, I'm sure.

I think I'm done with symphony concerts for a while. Dave and I bought a four-pack on a special deal (this one was not part of that) and the next one is in late April. It's Bruckner. I will have to study for that one.

Music a lot

I've gone to three concerts in the last two weekends. Even that wasn't enough, because there were two on Friday night I wanted to see at the same time, so I had to pick one. You could call it a music glut, and that's a good thing.

Last Friday, Dave and I went to see the Detroit Symphony on night two of their TchaikovskyFest. That's right, seventeen days of the great Russian composer. The programme was the Marche Solennelle (a seldom-programmed piece), the second piano concerto, and the sixth symphony, also known as the Pathétique. Olga Kern was the soloist in the concerto, and she was stunning in both ways. When she entered, I gasped "She's beautiful!" but I immediately was ashamed because I had reacted only to her appearance. Then again, making a grand appearance is in the job description. She started playing with such energy and nuance, the beauty of the piece exceeded that of her and her gown. After the intermission, the orchestra delivered a brilliant rendition of the Pathetique, triumphant in the third movement and truly sad in the fourth. The DSO is playing SO well this year.

Realizing I hadn't been to the Ark in Ann Arbor in a long time, I took the opportunity to see Cheryl Wheeler there two nights ago. I saw her at Hiawatha a few summers ago, so I expected a great show, and she delivered. I was surprised it was mostly her goofy songs and not many of her deep, heartfelt songs, but that was fine. I think it was a more intimate show and so she talked more to the audience. The opener was Lucy Wainwright Roche (are there ANY Wainrights who don't perform? I hope not, actually) and she was fine too, just as talkative and friendly.

The show I missed was Jo Serrapere and her trio at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room. I had to walk by it twice to get to and from the Ark. But the show times just did not allow even popping my head in to say hi to Jo. Next time, I promise.

Finally, last night I secured a spot in the open mic list for Mama's Coffeehouse at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, which allowed me to see Billy Brandt & the Sugarees. I've kinda known Billy for years, but this is the first time I've seen one of his bands, and they were outstanding. By turns rootsy and cosmic, their good time on stage made the audience feel great. I even bought two of Billy's CDs. My set of three songs went way better than I could've expected.

I think next week I will have to stay home and play CDs or something... unless I talk myself into going to see the last performance in the TchaikovskyFest. They're playing the 1812 Overture. I really should go.....


Read this ... before we can't!

Google boss warns of 'forgotten century' with email and photos at risk
... I actually have had this concern, myself. I have vinyl albums that never became CDs, let alone MP3s. I have a whole bunch of photos I've taken that have never been printed (and if they had, it wouldn't be on archival quality paper and ink). Who knows if it'll be possible to view .jpgs or .tiffs in fifty or a hundred years? The article mentions documents in .pdf or Word formats, which may become "illegible" after a few more generations of the latest software advances. It depends on how forward-thinking the high priests of data are. At least one of them is bringing up the issue.


A quiz for oldsters

Remember quizzes? Here's one with questions that adults can actually answer! Borrowed from changeling72:

1. How many jobs have you had, and which was your favorite?
Five companies; seven jobs. This doesn't count two separate day labor jobs of one day each, and also doesn't count the paid music gigs (that's a contractor thing, so technically I work for myself). My favorite one was when I worked the tourist information booth for the town of Medora, North Dakota. It's possible that was my favorite because it was only for about 6 to 8 weeks, but it was enjoyable talking to people and telling them where to go.

2. When did you first connect to other people via computers?
1992, I think.

3. Were/are you on AOL? Compuserve? LJ? Dreamwidth? A Listserv? Other?
I was on AOL for a while, though I had already figured out how to get online without it. Before THAT, I was on Prodigy — remember Prodigy?

4. If you went to college, does your major match your career/current job?
Nope. But when I started working here, if you considered my History bachelor's as a general "liberal arts" degree, that fit the profile of editor very well. I have worked for a lot of history majors. But now I do book composition (f.k.a. typesetting) and that doesn't match.

5. Have you had a mammogram? Colonoscopy?
Yes to a colonoscopy. The prep sucks but the sedatives are marrrrrvelous.

6. When did you get your first cell phone? What was it like? (Did it have a screen? Could you text? Was it a brick or flip?)
Around 1995. It was a brick, I guess. I don't remember if it had a display of any sort, but it didn't have a screen as we know them. And I think it could do text, but I never had a texting plan.

7. When did your family first acquire a colour TV?
1970. It was a cute little RCA. 11-inch screen.

8. When did your family acquire a second TV?
When we got our color TV (1970). But we mostly stopped using the B&W set, so we were effectively a one-TV family forever.

9. Did you ever own “designer jeans”?
Does Levi Strauss & Co. count as a designer? Otherwise, no.

10. Have you ever been to a disco?
Once, and in Marquette of all places. Otherwise, I've been to bars where there was dancing, but you couldn't call them discotheques.

11. How many places (towns, states, countries) have you lived in?
Seven communities (Detroit, Chesterfield Township, Marquette, Medora ND, Harrison Township, Ferndale, Warren), two states (Michigan and North Dakota, though the latter was for only three months) and one country (guess!).

12. Have any of your contemporary friends died? (I.e., people more or less your age.)
Not friends, per se. People I knew through friends, yes.

13. Are your parents still living?

14. Do you have any grey hairs?
Any? I have MANY grey hairs. Some of my grey hairs have grey hairs.

15. Did you or your family own a Betamax?
No. We were never that avant-garde

16. How did you spend New Year’s Eve 1999/2000?
I don't remember. Possibly I hung out with my mom at her apartment.

17. What’s the oldest article of clothing you still wear?
The black jeans I'm wearing today, which I've had for a dozen years or so. I went for a while not really liking them, so I didn't wear them much, but then I warmed up to them.

18. Do you eat your vegetables?
The ones I like, yes. No lima beans!

19. Are the privileges of adulthood worth the responsibilities?
On most days, I'm not sure.

20. Do you feel like an adult?
I guess so. *scuffs feet on floor* *looks down and away*

21. Is youth wasted on the young?
Yes, but who better to waste it on? Please don't make me go back to my youth NOW.


A fine show

The show I played last night with Hugo Cruz at the Dovetail Café turned out very well. I knew Hugo's part would, but I'm pleased that I played well too. I will admit that I could not pull together a whole hour for rehearsal in the last few weeks, so I was a little concerned that the guitar playing would be way sloppier than I like, but that was not the case at all. The room was full of friends and they were all very supportive of both of us. And, the weather stayed warm enough that the roads did not get cold enough to freeze.

As it turns out, by the time I left I had another show booked there for May. First comes a big show in Lake Orion at the Live from the Living Room Concert series in April. I'll put out more details about that soon.


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