Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

This morning I got an email from Amazon Associates announcing the publication on December 4, 2008 of J. K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Last year Rowling produced seven handwritten and illustrated copies of the book. Six were given to people who were very influential in the Harry Potter series, and the seventh, the "moonstone edition," was auctioned off to benefit The Children's Voice, part of the Children's High Level Group, a charity founded by Rowling in 2005.

The book is made up of five tales for wizarding children. One of the tales is related in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, three are mentioned in that book, and a fifth is not.

The new editions, which can now be pre-ordered from Amazon, will be a Standard Edition for the general public, and a Collector's Edition that is meant to resemble the look and feel of the original seven handmade copies.

Amazon was the winning bidder, at $3.98 million, for the seventh handmade book and they are able to exclusively offer the Collector's Edition (pictured at top left - the image is from Amazon).

Right away I thought this was a great idea for a Beedle the Bard lens. A quick Squidoo search showed none existed. At first I thought I'd just have the introduction, some text about the book, and an Amazon Spotlight module for each edition. As I got to work on the lens, I added a video, some information about the charity, and a couple of modules of Harry Potter books for people who might need to catch up. And I added links to the charity's website and a couple of Wikipedia articles.

During my research for the lens, I found out that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore's last name is an old Devon word for "bumblebee." Rowling said she pictured him going about the school humming to himself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Honkin' Huge Video

I was a bit embarrassed when my camera batteries died yesterday, and I'd forgotten to bring along another set. So today I went back downtown after the lunch rush to try again. I wrote down the URL for the Honkin_Huge Squidoo lens on a card and gave it to Shelly. She asked if I wanted to try the video again after I assured her the batteries were good (plus I had a spare set this time!). She asked her assistant Sarah to play the customer role, and she was a natural in the part! Things turned out so well that I just shot it once, and later realized I didn't even need to cut anything. And this time I had the video setting correct so it would look better than the massed pipes video.

Here it is and it's also on the lens, of course, and my YouTube page:



If you think Shelly was acting, well, maybe she was just a tiny bit, but she's a naturally cheerful and friendly person. And she says "yogurt" like that even off camera when serving actual customers. She's been making burritos for sixteen years, and she says she loves doing it, and hopes to keep at it for many more years. They say, "Do what you love and the money will follow." It seems to be working for Shelly.

And where did the burrito from the video end up? I can personally verify that is tasted great!

I shot a few more photos, but haven't added them to the lens yet. I discovered a problem with images I've been adding lately using HTML to get bigger photos placed where I want them rather than accept the smaller images, one to a text module Squidoo offers by default. I'd place them and they'd show up just fine, but later on when I went back, they disappeared. I tried making my Squidoo album on Picasa public, but that didn't seem to have an effect. Then I decided to copy the photos over to my Flickr account, although I can't put them in a set without getting a paid membership. But at least they showed up once I put in the new coding for them. So far, anyway. The only other photo I've inserted that way was one of Toby Froud in the Faerieworlds lens, which was in the same Squidoo folder on Picasa, and that did a disappearing act too. I put that on Flickr (it's already there, but this one's resized), and it's still showing up. The one photo of Mr. Portland didn't disappear and it's in another folder. Strange.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Honkin' Huge Lens

OK, it's not that big, really. But it's a lens about Shelly's Garden, the lunch cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland that's the source of the Honkin' Huge Burrito. I was looking over stuff from Squidoo about making lenses, and figured my blog post and Qassia entry could be developed into a lens.

Last week when I went into town to get a burrito, I was several stops down the line from home when I realized I'd forgotten to bring my camera. That wasn't a problem this time, so I got some decent shots, and asked Shelly if she'd mind telling me about what goes into her burritos while I shot some video. She got a little way into talking about it, and it's obvious she's explained it many times, when suddenly the batteries died. And guess who didn't bring fresh batteries? Fortunately, Shelly's very good-natured, and went on telling me about what goes into the best burritos in the city.

Once I got back home, it didn't take long to get the photos onto the computer, resize the ones I wanted to use, and put the lens together. I used some of the text from the previous blog entry, but added quite a bit more.

I thought I'd throw in a little bit about Pioneer Courthouse Square, since it is "Portland's Living Room" and it really makes the location of Shelly's Garden an enviable spot. It also gave me the opportunity to include a couple of more links.

It's a relatively brief page, with no Amazon module for possible income (not that I've been making a whole lot from that anyway), but it was fun to do.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Faerieworlds Is my Latest Squidoo Lens

This weekend, August 1-3, is when Faerieworlds takes place at the Secret House Winery in Veneta, OR, west of Eugene and only a short hop down the road from the site of the Oregon Country Fair. So I was inspired to create a Squidoo lens for Faerieworlds.


It lens, er, lends itself well to a Squidoo lens, partly because when I went in 2006 and 2007 I took a lot of pictures, so I used several Flickr modules to show them off. (Even more photos can be seen on my Picasa web albums site.) Brian and Wendy Froud, faerie/fantasy artists, are the hosts, so I was able to feature a bunch of Brian's books. Music is a big part of the event, so there are albums by bands that perform there. There are plenty of links to performers, guest artists, the official photographers, and Mark Lewis, the emcee/storyteller.

Check it out and leave a comment on the lens!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Punnery Updated


It's been a busy week. Several months ago I got permission to add posts from the old GEnie TeleJoke category, The Punnery, to my website Have Pun Will Travel. My version of The Punnery started out with just my posts from the old GEnie days of December 1991 to September 1993. Early on, I got permission from Dick Ford to add his posts, and revised the pages I'd already done, and pulled my posts and his for new pages.

I got permission from several other people, Ralph Stipo, Claudia Ballou, Eric Stone, my sister Marilyn and Sue Bell, people who show up now and then for the Punday Night sessions Dick Ford hosts on AIM on Sunday nights. Then I got distracted and perhaps I was a bit intimidated by the size of the project required to add all the "new" posts. I got started, then moved on to other things, mainly creating Squidoo pages.

This week, though, I tackled the update project head on. Just about an hour ago, I got the pages updated and published on the website. One thing I discovered is that I should've done everything in Notepad, then transferred each page to Dreamweaver. Instead, I used Open Office's Writer, which ended up putting in a lot of extra html coding. I had to copy the Writer documents over into Notepad, then put them into Dreamweaver, otherwise, every wrapped line would've been its own paragraph. I'd italicized all the post headers in Writer, so I lost that and had to do it all over again.

Things were still a bit too spaced out in many pages, so I created bulleted lists of short items within posts if there were three items or more. The bullets add a little interest to pages that are all text otherwise.

One of the more popular topics in the GEnie Punnery was Lackluster Video, where we took movie titles, altered them and added a blurb to explain the new title. We also played around with running movie titles together to create new ones. The photo at left illustrates a few titles we came up with. (The drive-in movie marquee generator can be found here.) I'd love to put it on the web page for Lackluster Video.

The Punnery on GEnie was active in the days before the World Wide Web, so everything was done in text. If you wanted to illustrate something you had to resort to crude ASCII graphics. Unfortunately, most of them didn't survive the formatting process. I did put in a couple of illustrations, though, but The Punnery on HPWT probably could use a lot more. It may be a challenge, though. Puns aren't always that easy to illustrate, and I'm not an artist.

For now, though, the main task of getting The Punnery updated is done. The people represented are the only ones I'm still in touch with, and considering the GEnie Punnery closed 15 years ago, that's not bad. I'd say in the last year or so of its existence, we were most of the more active posters there.

(The Boomtown Theater marquee was generated here.)

Oh, btw, if you haven't seen it before, the top photo is my bowed psaltery. Down in the lower right is a battery. So what we've got here is a case of a psaltery and battery.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Video - Massed Pipes & Drums

I went to the Portland Highland Games on Saturday. I got quite a few pictures, mostly of Golden Bough and other musicians, the parade of the clans, dancers, pipe bands. I experimented with video a bit. There was too much fierce backlighting for the video of Golden Bough to come out well. That's too bad because I was hoping to upload it with their permission since they don't have anything on YouTube.

The massed pipes and drums from the end of the day came out OK except for one thing: I had the video set to 320x240, and on YouTube, videos are larger, so YouTube made it fit their size and the picture quality isn't that good. But the sound is OK considering it was shot with my Canon still camera. So with that in mind, here it is:



This is the fourth or fifth time I've gone to the Games. I found out about them right after I got here in 2000. It was the first event I went to, even before I flew back East to bring my stuff out here by UHaul truck. I missed a couple of times because of work, and last year they were held the same weekend as Faerieworlds, which this year is on the first weekend in August.

I shot a lot of photos and chose 79 of them to put in an album on Picasa, Google's answer to Flicker. Picasa lets users put up 1 Gb of photos for free, while Flickr limits free accounts to three albums, something I found out last year when I tried to add the second day's photos from the Portland Pirate Festival and couldn't. So far I have six albums on Picasa. The Highland Games photos are here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mobyd46/PortlandHighlandGames071908

Alternatives to Adobe Products

Ten years back, when I was still working with the newspapers - Community Newspapers in their West Concord, MA location - I got familiar with Adobe Photoshop. Some of my coworkers were much better at graphics than me, but I learned some of the simpler ways to use it. It really is a fantastic program, but I usually opted for alternatives. An obvious reason for that is because Photoshop currently has a list price of $699, and I'll never operate on a level that justifies spending that kind of money on a program.

I've known there are alternatives out there, some of them very good, and some of them open source and free. Earlier this evening, I was using StumbleUpon and came across a site listing five free alternatives to Adobe products. The programs are The Gimp, an alternative to Photoshop, NVU (pronounced N-view) a Dreamweaver alternative, Avidemux, a Premiere alternative, Foxit PDF Reader, an alternative to Adobe Reader, and SMIL, a Flash alternative. I already have Foxit, and decided to pass, for now, on SMIL.

The important thing to note is they are alternatives, not equivalents. In many cases, they are simpler than their Adobe counterparts, but for many, if not most, people, they'll probably work just as well. Professionals may want to stick with the proprietary stuff from Adobe, but the vast majority of us are not professionals.

In reading the comments, it was suggested that another program, called Kompozer, might be better than NVU, so I downloaded that too. All the programs are relatively small downloads.

I decided to try out Avidemux first. On Saturday, I'd gone to the Portland Highland Games only a few miles down the road at Mt. Hood Community College, and I'd shot some video using the Canon camera, which does a decent job of capturing vids. Using another program I'd used once before, I tried editing the video of the massed pipes and drums from the end of the day. I couldn't figure out how to make cuts, even though I'd done it before, and since it was late yesterday when I attempted it, I put it aside. With Avidemux, I figured it out right away although I had to mess with the settings to get sound, which was needed to know where to cut. It was just as simple as I knew all along it should have been. I doubt I'm ever going to do very complex stuff with video - I'll just need something to make cuts, maybe put some stuff together, nothing very fancy, so Avidemux should work just fine for me.

I'll have to check out the Dreamweaver alternatives. Several years ago I'd bought it, but things have changed so much that I'm eager to try out Kompozer, which the comments section of the blog says is better than NVU.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Favorite Lunch Cart in Portland

Who would've thought that a lunch cart would have its own website? But Shelly's Garden in Portland, Oregon's Pioneer Square and home of the Honkin' Huge Burrito, does. It's at honkinhuge.com. But you can't eat a website.

The best thing to do is get on the MAX light rail or a bus (Portland is noted for its great public transportation), get off at Pioneer Square, aka Portland's living room, and look for Shelly's cart. It's usually near Mr. Portland, the statue of a guy with an umbrella. You may have to stand in line for a bit if it's lunchtime, but Shelly's quick and her burritos are worth the wait.

If you think a Honkin' Huge burrito is too much for one sitting and you didn't bring a friend to share it with, there are smaller sizes available. Also, she's willing to cut a Honker in half and package it up so you can have lunch today and tomorrow. Chat with her while she puts your burrito together - she's very friendly.

The burritos are vegetarian, but even if you're a meat-eater, they're so tasty you won't want to pass them up. You can get them with sour cream or yogurt, tomatoes inside or outside, and a choice of sauces, mild, spicy, or hot.

There are other lunch carts in downtown Portland, but I usually head for Shelly's Garden. Come to think of it, I'm hungry!

(First published on Qassia. It's what they call "intel" and since I really like Shelly's burritos, I thought I'd share. And I really am about to head downtown to get one!)

Trying Out New Ideas

Started out looking at stuff on Squidoo, and a comment on my Spoonerisms lens led me to a lens of jokes by poddys, aka Tony. He had a colored box as part of his guestbook which invites people to join Squidoo. By referring people, both he and the person signing up through that referral make $5 once the new person gets $15 in payout from Squidoo. It's a great idea, and I'm surprised I hadn't seen something similar being promoted by others. So I copied the code, made some changes to the appearance and text, plus I changed the code so I'll get the referral. It now looks like this:

Join Squidoo and create your own lenses. They're free and you might even make some money at it. Lenses are web pages, but the Squidoo folks call them lenses because the pages focus in on topics. Everyone's an expert on something. Music, humor, books, travel, collectibles, movies, photography -- just about anything that interests you probably interests someone else. Ready to start? CLICK HERE

Go ahead, click on the link and get started! And don't worry - it can take a few months before you get enough in your Squidoo account for a payout, so I won't be holding my breath. It's better to make lenses about stuff you are interested in and make it the best lens you can without being concerned about how much money you're going to make.

I probably won't add that box to all of my lenses, but it's on the Celtic Music: Lenses and my own lens about what I'm up to on Squidoo.

Following another of Tony's links led me to Qassia, a free site that helps with lens promotion. It's free, so I figure I've got nothing to lose and it might turn into a little bit of money. It's in beta, so you need a referral to join. I joined through Tony's page. If you're interested in joining, click on the logo to go to my Qassia page.

Qassia


I have no idea whether Qassia will be a big thing or not once it's out of beta, but it seems worth a shot since it's free and doesn't take long to sign up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dervish Gets a Squidoo Lens


I completed my second Squidoo lens today (Tuesday), a lens for Dervish, an Irish traditional music group. I now have a total of 34 lenses on Celtic Music covering 24 artists and groups, two radio stations and eight video showcases.

Lots of lens-building today and I'm running low on things to say, so I'll just ask that you visit my Danú and Dervish lenses, leave some comments, rate the lenses if you like them, and hey, why not order something from them?

Poke around some of my other lenses too, I've got 62 of them. Back last October when I built my first lens for Spider Robinson, I never thought I'd have that many lenses and be named a Giant Squid (never thought I'd be one until I was informed I was one).

New Squidoo Lens for Danú


Several days ago I added Danú to a list of Celtic music groups I wanted to do a Squidoo lens for, and this morning I set about to get it done. I had it about 75% complete when it was time to take a break and listen to and watch Louise Molony's show on LiveIreland.com. As she often does, she announces she'll be featuring information about an artist or group. Her choice this week: Danú!

I swear, you can't make this stuff up! As she was giving her presentation, someone in the chat room asked what the paper on the console was that she appeared to be reading from. I realized it sounded familiar, so I pulled up the Wikipedia article for Danú I'd been using earlier. Louise and I were drawing from similar sources, as I'd guessed, and I mentioned that. She scolded me, in a good-natured way of course, for giving away her secrets. Someone, undoubtedly joking, said she'd written the Wikipedia article. I replied that it wouldn't surprise me if she had since she is very well-educated in Irish traditional music.

After Louise's show, I decided to take a look at the history tab for the Wikipedia article. I saw that back in April, some modifications had been made to it by "BrownHairedGirl." Hmmm...Louise has brown hair. So I clicked on the name. BrownHairedGirl is from Ireland. So now I'm really wondering!

Check out my new Danú lens on Squidoo! And my other lenses are listed on my Celtic Music-Lenses lens.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Learning about Newgrange


During Klara McDonnell's Monday evening (Irish time) broadcast on LiveIreland this week, a message from Daithi said he was testing transmissions from Newgrange. I'd heard the name, but didn't know anything about it, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It's a restored Neolithic passage tomb that's 5,000 years old, with the passage aligned to admit the sun down a long passage into the interior on the morning of the Winter Solstice.

One of the Wikipedia links was to a video about the 2007 Solstice. It's an hour long and very informative. The weather for that day was perfect, if a bit cold for the presenters, at just about freezing (0C, 32F). It was interesting to watch as the sun rose and several minutes later the passageway was illiminated by it. 5,000 years ago, the passageway would've been lit right at sunrise, but the Earth's tilt has changed, so that now happens about four minutes later.

Here's that link: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/Solstice2007/
The Wikipedia link to Newgrange: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange

Wixed-up Murds: Spoonerisms on Squidoo

I've got ideas for several new Celtic music lenses on Squidoo, but yesterday when I got up I just knew I had to develop a lens about Spoonerisms. The first thing I did was check and see if anyone else had already done one. Nobody had. I like starting a lens on a subject nobody else has touched yet.

This lens turned out to have more writing involved than most. I did sections on Rev. William Archibald Spooner, the warden at New College, Oxford whose name came to be synonymous with tips of the slung that involve transposing sounds between words. There's one about Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle, a radio comedian in the 1930s and 1940s who developed Spoonerisms into an art and wrote a book of tisted twails drawn from Aysop's Feebles, tairy fales and other stories such as "Paul Revide's Rear" which is worth the price of the book for that title alone! Keen James rescued Stoopnagle's book from obscurity and published his updated version.

The most fun I had was writing my own version of "Rindercella and the Prandsome Hince." It's been done before, of course, and is probably the most popular story that's been Spoonerized. I first heard it on a novelty record in the 1960s. I never owned a copy and had just borrowed one from a friend. Then Archie Campbell did his version on the Grand Ole Opry-based TV show Hee Haw, which I used to watch for the comedy bits. A lot of borrowing goes on in comedy, and you'll probably recognize a bit or two if you've seen Campbell's take on Rindercella, and I did borrow one little bit I remembered from that novelty record. Btw, I couldn't find anything online about the record. I don't remember the name of the guy who did it.

In my research, I found a page for Terry Foy, aka Zilch the Torysteller, who tells Stoonerized spories at several Renaissance Faires in the Midwest. Hmm...and Faerieworlds is in three weeks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kit Cat Clock Lens Updates

My Kit Cat Clock lens on Squidoo got a major overhaul today and I sent out the next paragraph as a "Squidcast" so people on Squidoo will know of the changes.

I finally got my own Kit Cat Clock. It's on the wall just to the left and behind my computer station. To mark the occasion, I replaced the picture in the intro module with one of my clock, made a YouTube video with music - "The Syncopated Clock," and put up pictures of the front, back and sides of the clock box, with the text reproduced, plus I couldn't resist a little fun when I saw the initials of the quoted person from New Jersey.

I created the lens back on November 7, 2007 after being with Squidoo less than three weeks. For a long time I didn't change anything, yet it became one of my most popular lenses, relatively speaking. I wasn't too surprised, although it seemed ironic that a lens I'd put together so quickly consistently outranked lenses I'd spent many hours creating and revising. But then, most of my lenses are on niche subjects. I really like the authors I've done lenses for and the same goes for all the Celtic musicians. However, I know that if I were to drop names like Spider Robinson, John Varley, Altan, Flook, Alasdair Fraser, etc. into a conversation with most people, the most typical response would be, "Who?" or "Never heard of 'em."

Here's the video I made, featuring my new clock:


video

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Moby the Giant Squid?


I don't always check my email that often, and apparently the last time I'd checked it yesterday (Wednesday 7/2) was fairly early in the morning. Otherwise I would've known about this bit of news sometime that day. But I usually check into Squidoo first thing in the morning, unless it's very early, to see how my lenses are doing. I've got 55 of them, and had reached 50, with 23 of them being Celtic Music lenses, back on May 29. Since then I slowed down, having created all the Celtic Music lenses since around mid-late April. I've done a few video showcases related to that lens group, and added a lens for The Chieftains.

Nothing jumped out at me right away when I checked this morning except I had a pending comment. I get comments now and then, but few enough that I either notice right away or tend to take a few days to notice. This one was from yesterday, though, so I hadn't missed anything. It was in my Spider Robinson lens from a woman named Robin. She's a Giant Squid Community Organizer. She was congratulating me on becoming a Giant Squid.

Huh? I hadn't nominated myself (that's allowed, btw) since passing the 50 lens mark, the minimum for Giant Squid status. I wasn't aware of anyone nominating me, either. While I do put more than minimum effort into my lenses - sometimes much more than minimum, as my Celtic Music lenses prove, I hope - I wasn't sure that I had "50 really great lenses" which is what they're looking for. Obviously the people who make decisions about who gets to be a GS thought otherwise, which is certainly nice. I should work on bringing some lenses that might be lacking up to snuff.

One thing people who take care to build lenses do is make sure they don't just use the default titles for modules. Spider's lens is one of my oldest, if not the oldest, of my lenses. So I was just a bit chagrined when I looked at the title of the guestbook module, where Robin's message was now appearing, and saw "New Guestbook" - the default title. That got changed in a hurry!

My whole Squidoo experience got going last October when Fortunalee mentioned in her Delphi Forums forum, "Fortuna's Favor," that she'd found Squidoo and had made a lens or two. I checked out her lens and Squidoo itself and decided it would be interesting to create lenses for some authors I like, starting with Spider. She kicks herself for not having referred me, since there's a little cash incentive to do so, but a person's lenses have to earn a certain amount collectively before anything gets paid, so she'd still be waiting. :) But just in case she doesn't know, I am grateful to her for bringing up Squidoo. She's also visited some of my lenses and "favorited" them, joined my fan club, etc. She's been very encouraging, and I thank her for it!

I've been reading stuff lately about how to make lenses better, and I've used some SquidUtils created by an English bloke who uses the nickname "thefluffanutta." Crazy name, but solid utilities and he puts out a lot of good advice about lensmaking. He's got a blog and I'm following him on Twitter. Just recently I read his advice about Primary Tags for lenses. He says don't use the lens title, which I had been doing. Instead, he advised coming up with a tag that will link lenses together. So I changed all my Celtic Music lens primary tags to "Celtic Music" and added the part of the lens title after "Celtic Music" as a regular tag, also part of his advice.

With 55 lenses, and counting because I'm sure I'll be adding video showcases and more Celtic music lenses, I'll be looking more into ways to get my stuff noticed. Just being a Giant Squid will help some, of course, but I know there's more I could be doing. For one thing, I'll have to update my own page letting folks know of my ascension to GS status. I'll be checking out blogs and sites available for Giant Squids and seeing where I can implement the advice on my own lenses.

This Giant Squid thing isn't going to go to my head. For one thing, all I have to do is look at how much money I've made from Squidooing since last October. Can you say "pocket change"?

Also, it occurred to me that in the ocean sperm whales and giant squids have a somewhat adversarial relationship. So there's a bit of irony in having a Giant Squid named MobyD.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Old Songs Waltz

After I posted about the Old Songs Waltz video I did for the Lark in the Morning contest over at Fortuna's Favor on Delphi Forums, I had a response from a friend who has played in a symphony orchestra. He mentioned my rhythym was a little off in places, but he still liked the video. After I responded, saying I was glad he enjoyed it (and apologizing for the arrhythmia), he replied:

of course I liked it - you played with your heart in it

Tonight (Wednesday) I responded after finding something using StumbleUpon:

Arnie, I don't know if I can ever fully express how much I appreciate that comment! I know I'm never going to be a great musician, but I do enjoy playing for fun. I never studied music formally, but I have managed to pick up stuff here and there.

Over the years, I've played around with harmonica, Appalachian dulcimer, tin whistle, and the bowed psaltery. I've tried a few other instruments that I didn't get very far with as well.

What it all comes down to is that it can be fun to pick up an instrument and make something that's reasonably close to music, and with a little practice, it gets a little closer.

Tonight, while using Stumble Upon, I came across this:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/8-good-reasons-to-be-a-lousy-musician.html

I don't play guitar, one of the more ubiquitous instruments in the world, although I took a stab at it once a long time ago. I've stayed with simpler instruments, and have managed to make some music, not great, but fun. And for most of us, that's what it should be all about.

Some people have far more talent than I and make a living at music. The ones I admire the most are those who show that they're having a lot of fun at the same time. They don't always make a lot of money, but people go away from their performances smiling.

My sister just went to the Old Songs Festival near Albany, NY this past weekend. She still goes after going for several years with me before I moved in 2000 (I left for Portland from that festival). I loved that festival. It was like going home - a different home, but a home nonetheless - for a wonderful three days. And the most wonderful part of it was seeing people having fun making music.

I think my only goal in music should be to loosen up and enjoy it more. Maybe that'll make me better, but it shouldn't be the point.