Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baah Humbug!

Today I got a rejection from Analog.

It was a long shot,I'd sent them "Spirits from the Vasty Deep," and like Sis said, you don't know unless you try. But, still... Poo!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Taking A Break

Songwriting went on the back burner for a little while this week as my sister, a good friend and I took in a Chris Isaaks concert at Northampton’s Calvin Theater Tuesday night. I hadn’t been to a concert in about twenty years, so the mere idea was exciting.

But the fun didn’t only come from anticipation. The show itself was excellent. And it wasn’t just the audience who had a good time. Chris and the band were rockin’, and didn’t seem to want to stop. It was a great show and a most enjoyable evening out. Thanks, Sis!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ridden by the Muse

For about two weeks in the middle of November, I hardly had time to catch my breath. I wrote five songs, completed one poem and made a very good start on two other poems. Indeed, during that time, I rote two songs of totally opposite mood, one bleak and one sweet, in a single twelve-hour period. Donno what was going on, but I got pretty tired. Still, the burst of creativity was exhilarating.

The burst is past now, but I still have harmonizing and arranging to do on the songs from that batch as well as more work to do on “Something Precious Remains” and “Music To My Heart.” It’s going slowly, this part of songwriting doesn’t come easily to me; but, it’s coming.

Also, I submitted “World Enough And Time” to my writers group and to another writer friend and SF enthusiast, even though it’s not quite finished. They gave me helpful comments and a lot of encouragement. It seems I’ve painted myself into a couple of tight corners. So far solutions haven’t occurred to me, but I’m not worried, yet. The best thing is to let the problem or problems stew and brew for a while. Eventually something will come, or not. If not, I’ll put the story away and forget about it.

Also trying to write the second New Year’s story for A Very Dragon Christmas, so far with little success. Again, though, I’m not terribly fussed. It will settle into place in my mind.

My main problem continues to be sleep, or rather lack thereof. One thing about insomnia, you do get a lot of reading done. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read in the past month, certainly at least a dozen. Can’t concentrate on anything deep, so I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie and some Edgar Rice Burroughs. They are both interesting without being too demanding.

Well, that’s about all I’ve been up to. It doesn’t seem like much when I come to write it down, but it’s been quite enough. Here’s hoping that December will also be productive.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Success

Today I got word that Breath and Shadow has accepted "The Troubadour's Song" and "The Lady's Song," a pair of sestinas. They will probably appear in the Spring 2011 issue.

It's a long time since I sold a poem, let alone two poems at once, so I'm very pleased. The frosting on the cake is that it's an actual "sale," for money. Breath and Shadow pays $5.00-$15.00 per poem so, I'll earn something between $10.00 and $30.00. That's not a fortune, but it's respectable. As I say, though, the dollar amount is less important to me than the fact of the sale. After a string of rejections this year, the acceptance from Chris Kewl is cause for celebration.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Box Blues

amazon.com can be so annoying!

Last night I, uh... Well, I went there looking for two specific CD's, one of which, Step Into My Life, they didn't have at all, the other of which, Released, (Engelbert's latest, just out the Sixteenth of this month), they had but it seemed outrageously expensive. It was just as expensive at amazon.co.uk so, after a struggle, I decided not to get it.

But,in the course of looking, I saw a couple of other CD's and, uh, three DVD's.... Not only that, but I forgot to select Super Saver shipping and I also forgot to combine orders into as few shipments as possible.

So, I was resigned to Sis having a fit, or at least having a good laugh at me when one box came containing two Engelbert CD's and another box came, possibly the same day, containing three Engelbert DVD's. What can you do, you know? But just now I got an e-mail saying that they've shipped one CD separately. I hate that. They claim they're doing it to be helpful, to give faster service. But, whatever the items, I much prefer them to come all together in as few boxes as possible, not in a blizzard of boxes. And especially when the items are things that Sis can't quite help laughing at me about. I do feel slightly sheepish but, really. Nobody laughs all that much when, every year or so, I buy the new Glass Hammer CD, and I've always had a crush on Fred. I don't understand it, but there it is. *sigh* Sis is gonna be sniggering all next week as she opens my boxes for me.

On the other hand, it could be worse. Mum might still open my mail for me!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Music, Music, Music!

Well, I've finally finished the first draft, so to speak, of "Music to My Heart." The lyric is pretty much finished and the melody is pretty much finished. Because of some wrestling with Cakewalk, I didn't get to bed till 3:30, but I don’t regret it. Actually slept pretty well for once.

Stage 2 in the writing of a song, for me, is to sort out the note durations. I write out the melody in all quarter notes first, then in the second stage worry about what should be an eighth note, what a half note, and so forth. The third stage is adding the harmony. While stages 2 and 3 require a lot of concentration, they're not difficult per se. So, the hard part is over in this project. Yay! I was beginning to think it would never come together.

In other music-related news, I've been buying records again: The Carpenters and Engelbert, with a little spice of Dusty Springfield and Gilbert O’Sullivan. You can get a lot of vynel for the cost of one CD. And while CD's are wonderful in their way, you just can't beat real records.

On the other hand, over the weekend I installed iTunes and managed to download Engelbert’s new single, “Tell Me Where It Hurts.” Even figured out how to play it - the iTunes interface is not very disabled friendly. So, it's not as if I'm failing to keep up with the times. It's just that I like real records.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Caught an Error?

Just watched 56: Between a Yuk and a Hard Place 12/13/1988 5 - 2

The music listings on the Moonlighting Episode guide (http://dogwood.phpwebhosting.com/~tvshrine/moonlightingEG5.htm) say that the version of “Up, Up and Away” used on the episode is by The Fifth Dimension. Well, I know what the Fifth Dimension sound like, and it wasn’t them. I’m sure it was Engelbert. Now, why would they make a mistake like that? Sure, the Fifth Dimension had the major hit, but lots of other people recorded it, including Andy Williams.

It is possible that I’m wrong, I do sometimes misidentify singers. But Engelbert has a pretty distinctive voice and style. I’m going to try to track down a record of “Up, Up and Away” by him, just for my own satisfaction.

Update
Found it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reality Check

Well, "Music to My Heart" isn’t finished. Not even close. I got the lyric smoothed into iambic pentameter. Only, one line is tetrameter. And it feels complete – the thought is complete - only it’s missing a foot. And, it doesn’t rhyme. None of it rhymes. That’s fine for a poem, but a song needs a good, solid rhyme scheme.

The idea is sound – I’m still sure and enthusiastic about it – and I’ve said everything I want to say... Just need now to say it better, or at least more conventionally. Just! Yeah. *sigh* I know it’s good, and I know it will work if I can only kick my brain out of the rut it’s stuck in and find the right words. Break out of the box in order to be more conventional. An oxymoron, right? But that’s exactly what I need to do. And trying to do it makes me so tired! Guess I’m really out of practice.

And, of course, I really can’t do much with the melody till the lyric’s set or at least semi stable.

The thing is, Bert Bacherach and Nigel Lewis’ "Nothing in this World" keeps running through my mind, which would be fine – it’s a gorgeous song – except I really need to be able to hear the song I’m currently working on, need to be able to concentrate on it to the exclusion of all other songs. That’ clearly not going to happen for a while.

So, though I hoped to zip right through, this project clearly is going to take some time. I need to move it to the back burner and let it stew and brew a while, much as doing so irks me. On the other hand, it’s not like I have a shortage of stuff to work on. But I’m enthusiastic about this project. I want to work on this project. *sigh* Realistically, though, continuing to flog it will do more harm than good and I know it. So, it’s move on to other things for now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Writing, and it feels so wonderful!

I started a brand new song, donno exactly, maybe an hour ago. The lyric is shaping up nicely, and the melody for the refrain is set, and set down. Even got the last part of the coda roughed out. Only thing left is, hm,mm, what do you call that? The main melody? The bit in between, that isn’t refrain. You know what I mean. Too tired and too high to care a whole lot if I’m making sense.

I’ve worked it out, and this is the first song I’ve written in some six years. I’ve noodled around, kicked around melody ideas, but this is the first real song. For me, the lyric usually comes first, and the melody follows quickly, or at least parts of it. So it was this time. I had the rough lyric in about five minutes. As I refined it, the refrain melody slowly took shape in another layer of my mind, so to speak, until it was defined enough to start setting down. Then there was some logistical stuff with Cakewalk, the antiquated but excellent music software I use (recommended to me many years ago by none other than Fred Schendle of Glass Hammer) as t how to copy and paste just the music so I could put the refrain melody in with each occurrence of the words. And, by the time I’d sorted that out, I had the very end. As to the remaining blank spots, I’m not worried. There may be an existing fragment I can shape. If not, the bits I need will come. They usually do. And, I have a really good feeling about this song. The way it flowed felt so right, so wonderful.

I don’ know if it uses different muscles or what, but songwriting is very different from writing prose or, curiously, even poetry. The flow is different; the feel is different. I haven’t experienced the particular kind of creative expression in so long that I’d almost forgotten what it feels like. But, it’s one of those things that comes right back. And it sure feels great!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Smoother sailing

"A New Dream" is coming together. Just a little more adjustment of the final phrase, and then all that will be left is tinkering with the harmonies (Arrangement seems like rather too grand a term). As so often happens with problems, creative problems at least, this one wasn’t nearly as fearsome as it seemed. Still, I’ll be glad to get the song finished and printed.

Haven’t yet decided whether to do anything with "No One to Love." As I’ve indicated, arranging isn’t my strongest point, and the thought of starting all over from scratch is discouraging. However, we’ll see how it goes.

I don’t have any deadline, this project is just something I want to do. So, there’s no pressure, except the little I put on myself. Of course, that’s both he easiest pressure and the worst; the easiest because nobody notices and gripes when you skive off; worst because when you do skive off, you have to live with yourself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Super Klutz

It is rare for me to be at a loss for words. It is rarer still for me to regret the paucity of my vocabulary of “strong language.” But, the situation calls for swearing fluently, and I find myself ill equipped. So, suffice it to say that I am EXTREMELY ANNOYED!

I’ve been working on "A New Dream." Everything was going swimmingly until I discovered that I’d inadvertently deleted the last two measures. Thank Heaven it wasn’t more! Still, that’s enough. There’s no autosave copy – I don’t know why. – and at first I thought I’d have to scrap everything I’ve done since Tuesday, which drove me frantic. I think now it will probably be possible to recover the material from a copy saved elsewhere on my system. That thought is a great relief. My panic response does have a hair trigger. * rueful grin * Still, none of that changes the bleak fact that I am a super klutz! ARG!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write the Songs

Busy, busy.

I thought of another song to polish up, while I’m at it, "No One To Love." It’s pretty good. The accompaniment track is abysmal, though, and had to be totally scrapped. I knew that, of course, but had forgotten just exactly how abysmal. And, discarding the whole thing is a pity, all that work gone to waste. But, reworking it would  have been too confusing. Much better to start fresh. Probably it’s better anyway, since the melody line still needs some tinkering. Overall, the song is promising though.

Meanwhile, "A New Dream" is coming along nicely, if slowly. It seems all the half notes at the ends of phrases have to be changed to dotted quarter notes - *shrug* whatever – and I need to do a little more tidying up. Then, of course, I need to do the whole thing again with the accompaniment track, adjusting, moving. It’s slow going and very tiring, but satisfying work, totally different from writing and editing words. That makes it, though challenging, a nice change.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It’s always something

This week, I have a new problem. Forget parallel universes and trying to juggle characters’ motivations and points of view. I’ve encountered a serious problem, one that literally makes my head spin: The beat of “A New Dream” is, well, misaligned. That is to say, the stresses, the natural stresses or accents in the melody and lyrics don’t line up with the beat as measured by the metronome. Or rather, some of them do, but some are off.

It seems like all I have to do is shorten and lengthen certain notes till the beat falls right, but it’s not as simple as that. First of all, there’s a two measure intro. That’s off. But, if I tinker with that before the main body of the song, it could throw off the    timing of the main body. More worryingly, the first note of the song is, so to speak, on the wrong side of the first bar line. That is, the first note falls before the first accented beat. So, as that first phrase repeats, where does the first accented beat of the phrase fall relative to the bar line and the first beat of the measure?

I never really thought about all this before, because it sounds fine. But, how everything’s laid out and where everything falls becomes important now that I want to print the song out. Hell, I’m not even sure of the time signature. Is it 4/4 or 3/4? It doesn’t have the feel of a waltz, but at the same time four beats per measure doesn’t seem right somehow.

The conclusion I draw from all this is not that something’s wrong with “A New Dream,” but rather that something’s wrong with my mind. I should be able to hear the right way. I should have written it the right way to begin with. But though I can hear the wrongness, it muddles me so that I can’t work out how to fix it. Eventually I’ll get it sorted out, but right now I’m very confused.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Engelbert Again



A few days ago I wrote to the contact e-mail at engelbert.com to ask if it would be possible to set up a control to let visitors to the home page turn the music off and on. It’s one of those pages where the music starts as soon as you enter. Without being able to switch the music off, I have no way of hearing what the screen reader is saying. Fortunately, the web site is otherwise very well designed. It wasn’t too hard for me to locate the site navigation links and click through to another page, from where it was a piece of cake to navigate through the rest of the site. Still, it’s the principle of the thing. I’d like to be able to read the home page. More importantly, a totally blind visitor probably wouldn’t be able to manage at all. And, the fix isn’t a difficult one.

So, I wrote to explain all this. The fan liaison sent back a note saying she had passed my message on to the web development team.

More importantly, her message included a photograph! *swoon*

*sigh* I suppose it’s all right to be a total and complete airhead as long as that is only one facet of your personality; if, when push comes to shove you can discuss with moderate intelligence The Vision of Piers Plowman or the influence of Boethius on The Knight’s Tale and Troilus and Criseyde, or point out waspishly that you opposed the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan from the very beginning when each and every soul you knew, including the most reliable Liberals, were telling you how shortsighted and naive you were, because the operation was necessary.

A personality is a complex organism, with many components and facets. Mine has the facet that likes maple walnut ice cream but hates Brussels sprouts, the facet that loves detective stories and the one that is fascinated by Quantum Mechanics and Archaeology. So, I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a facet that goes weak at the knees when confronted with a never-before-heard song by or a photograph of, say, Engelbert Humperdink or Tom Jones. I mean, I am only human, after all. But, it’s not a facet that comes to the fore all that often. And, it must not yet be fully integrated into my personality as a whole because it is, err, slightly embarrassing.

And yet, really... What’s a girl s’posed to do?

P.S.
I wrote away today to inquire about joining Engelbert’s fan club. Seems to me, if I’ this far gone, I might as well go the whole way.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Earliest Hominids in Northern Europe

Archaeologists are working on a site in Norfolk, in Great Britain, that they believe was inhabited some one million years ago by Homo antecessor, making it the oldest known human settlement in northern Europe. They have found stone tools and even pinecones and pollen. They deduce from the latter that the climate at that time was similar to that of modern-day Scandinavia, and though they have not yet found physical evidence, they conjecture that the inhabitants must have used shelters and clothing, and perhaps tamed fire.

Link
Humans' early arrival in Britain

Micro Quasar NGC 7793

This little black hole has a great big reach.

A small black hole has been observed blowing a vast bubble of hot gas 1,000 light-years across.

The gas is expanding because it is being heated by powerful particle "jets" being released by the black hole.

The observations were made by the Very Large Telescope in Chile and Nasa's Chandra space observatory.

Link
Black hole blows huge gas bubble>

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Cool Stars Come in out of the Cold


ScienceDaily (June 29, 2010) — Astronomers have uncovered what appear to be 14 of the coldest stars known in our universe. These failed stars, called brown dwarfs, are so cold and faint that they'd be impossible to see with current visible-light telescopes. Spitzer's infrared vision was able to pick out their feeble glow, much as a firefighter uses infrared goggles to find hot spots buried underneath a dark forest floor.


Link
Coolest Stars Come out of the Dark: Spitzer Spies Frigid Brown Dwarfs

Independence Day


Today is the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States. This is a day to display unashamedly our love for this, our home, the greatest nation in the world.

On the other three hundred and sixty-four days in the year we can grumble about the glaring problems, deplore and protest the mistakes and stupid actions of our leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike (Stupidity is an equal opportunity employer.). Today we celebrate the beauty and grandeur of this land that reaches from sea to shining sea and beyond, the friendliness, generosity and ingenuity of her people, her many successes. Today is the day to sing America, to sing our love for her. Tomorrow we can get back to the business of setting her to rights.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Still Stewing and Brewing

I’m still struggling with “World Enough and Time.” It’s pretty much settled in my mind at this point that Mark knows what he’s doing. That is, he actually builds, not a time machine, but a device to move between realities, parallel universes. Conveniently for him, Kathleen is not terribly interested in Quantum Mechanics, and doesn’t know the difference. So far so good. Here’s the rub. Kathleen is the first person narrator. Not only does she not understand Mark’s work, she doesn’t understand his motivation for that work. Not understanding his motivation, she can’t convey it to the reader, not directly at any rate. And, without understanding Mark’s motivation, the reader only gets half of the story.

The obvious solution is to recast the story in third person narrative. The problem with that is grammar, even language itself on the most fundamental level. There’s a scene in which Kathleen, the Cat who is narrating the story has a mind meld with the Kathleen in a parallel reality. The grammar gets extremely tricky for a few lines, but between first and third person, it remains possible to tell who’s who. If the story were written in third person, this passage would be unintelligible. So, the narrative has to stay in first person; which brings me back to the problem of Mark’s POV. The circumstances in which the characters find themselves do not allow for him to write her a thirty page letter explaining everything, a handy if sometimes slightly forced device. There is a point at which he could make a speech, a point at which her sudden understanding of what has been going on is handy for the plot development but stands, just now, totally unsupported by any kind of previously laid information or clues.

Hmmm... That might work, though a speech, like a letter, has to be handled carefully to prevent its seeming forced. Also, there is the danger of its becoming something of an infodump. I guess the thing to do is to have a speech to pull everything together and spell it out for Cat while placing clues throughout the rest of the story, things that she reports without understanding their significance. Yes, that might work.

Again, writing out my ideas and difficulties has helped me work through them. Or, at least, it has helped me realize that the problem may not be insoluble.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How It's Done

Doris Day is one of the most genuinely nice people on the planet. This note in response to a tabloid smear from a little over a year ago shows how it's done. The lady is the epitome of style and class.

In the note she mentions always calling John Denver by his real name, Deutschendorf. That reminds me of a darling clip of Doris and John from her 1975 special, Doris Day Today.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Dark Is Rising Sequence

I’ve been reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. Finished the fifth and final book, Silver On The Tree last night. They are delightful books, vaguely Arthurian (and I’m a pushover for anything Arthurian, however vaguely), wholly delightful Fantasy Adventure novels.

Two of the books are set in Cornwall, two in Wales and one in the author’s native Buckinghamshire, which is where I lived during my three years in England. Five children are brought together over the course of the sequence, under the direction of Prof. Merriman Lion, to help him in his long fight against the Dark. It very soon becomes clear that Great Uncle Merry is rather more than he seems, and by the end, all the children know him for who he really is, and they understand exactly what he is fighting.

The charm of these books lies not only in the “magic,” and the ancient lore, most of it Celtic, Cooper weaves into the narrative, but also in her descriptions of landscapes and of ordinary life, especially family life. The people and places are vividly drawn. Though I’ve never been to Wales, I could see the mountainsides with their granite outcrops and hear the baahing of the sheep and the high call of the curlews. Though I’ve never been to Cornwall, I could see the grassy headlands and the golden sanded beaches. The characters, too, are well drawn. They are individuals, each doing what is appropriate for him or her. The reader understands them and cares about what happens to them.

And, quite a lot happens to them during the course of the sequence, both in the here and now and in other times and other places, some of which are historical, some out of the mists of legend.

The NLS notice on each book says, “For grades four through seven and older readers. I don’t hesitate to recommend them to readers of all ages.

The Dark Is Rising Sequence
Over Sea, Under Stone
The Dark Is Rising
Greenwitch
The Grey King
Silver On The Tree

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Word Verification

Because of the high number of spam comments on this blog, I have reluctantly instituted word verification for comments.

I apologize for this unpleasant necessity and for the inconvenience it will cause. Please be assured that I've done it as a last resort.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Engelbert

The past few days, I've been on a kick of listening to a lot of Engelbert Humperdink. YouTube has a number of clips from his 1969-70 television show and a program he did in 1972 which, if I understand correctly, was shown in Germany, as well as various other TV and concert appearances through the years. There are also the ubiquitous homemade videos and slide shows to songs.

I've always loved Engelbert. I grew up listening to him and Andy Williams and Julie Andrews. In my teens I discovered Vic Damone *swoon* and Johnny Mathis *dreamy* and of course I liked the pop music of the day: I loved the Carpenters, really, *really* liked Barry Manilow and, well, I shudder to think of it, but I was well and truly mad for Donny Osmond. Oh my goodness but I was obnoxious about him. I don't know how my parents managed not to murder me. *wry grin*

But, you know, the first record album I ever saved up for and bought with my own money was Engelbert's After the Lovin' album. I like to think this means that, underneath the silly, obnoxious teenybopper, I had good taste all along.

Here's Engelbert from his 1972 show singing "Another Time, Another Place." If he's not the definition of a heartthrob, I don't know who is.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Aung San Suu Kyi

The Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday is today.

All of us who accept our freedom without a thought, who live in peace and prosperity and democracy owe an incalculable debt to heroes like Aung San Suu Kyi.

Link
Aung San Suu Kyi, Birthday and Freedom

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day


As listener reminds us with this photo, today is Flag Day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Family Outing


This cute photo is by listener.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Exoplanet Caught Mid Orbit



Astronomers using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have caught an unprecedented glimpse of an exoplanet moving in its orbit around a distant star. Called Beta Pictoris b, the exoplanet has been directly imaged in two separate points covering nearly half of its orbit. The achievement could prove a significant stepping stone in our understanding of how planetary systems, including our own solar system, formed.

 Exoplanet caught on the move

Jacques Cousteau's Centenary

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gulf Project


Obviously, BP can’t cap its runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

What I want to know is, why hasn’t the call gone out to every university, college and institute, to every federal, state and local government agency (especially in Gulf states) and to every NGO in the United States that has expertise with oil, marine environments and/or engineering for the best and brightest to assemble in a Manhattan Project style endeavor to solve the problem. Surely, preserving the ecology and economy of our Gulf coast states and the Mississippi River is more important than working out how to build a goddamn atomic bomb!

I don’t know who would be the most appropriate person to send out such a call, whether it would be the President, the Vice President or the Secretary of the Interior. All I know is, the call has to be put out now. Hell, it ought to have been put out as soon as the search and rescue operation concluded. What are they waiting for? This accident is a matter of acute national interest and economic and environmental security

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Environmental Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill

Renowned environmentalist Jean Michel Cousteau on The News Hour discussing the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thinking about Time

In the course of reading The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, I came across an intriguing concept, that travel to the past may perhaps be possible, but that changing the past is not. The reason for this is, more or less, that each moment is its own immutable now. Sound familiar, fans of Walt Whitman and St. Augustine? I wrote a paper in grad school dealing with the eternal nature of now in relation to the Tree of Charity in The Vision of Piers Ploughman. It's a subject that interests me.

In particular just now, however, I found Greene's idea provocative because one of my current active projects deals specifically with time travel to the past that goes awry. The traveler ends up in a couple of different parallel realities rather than going straight back in her own. One of them is pretty far removed from her own timeline, and I've been wondering how such a major mistake could have happened. Her friend, the “time machine’s” inventor is a talented and highly skilled quantum mechanician. How did he land her so far from her home reality?

Since reading Greene's remarks, though, it occurred to me to wonder if it really was a mistake as such at all. Maybe the operator of the "time machine" meant to send the traveler to a parallel reality all along. The story is told in first person narrative by the traveler, a person who knows next to nothing about Quantum Physics. The operator could have told her a fib, an oversimplification...His goal might have been to send her to a parallel reality all along, since he knew that changing the past, as such, is impossible.

I'll need to chew on the idea some more, but it presents possibilities. It may mean that the story is more complicated, and thus more interesting, than I initially anticipated. That's good, since simple stories don't sell.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Beach Boys - California Girls ( with Bob Hope and Jack Benny )

This can make you smile, even on a really down day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Key Stakeholders Agree on Measures to Protect Blind Pedestrians

I saw this on one of my NFB listservs today.
Urge Passage as Part of Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Baltimore, Maryland (May 19, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) announced today that they have agreed on proposed legislative language that will protect blind pedestrians and others from the danger posed by silent vehicle technology.

The four organizations are urging Congress to adopt and pass the language as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010?which is currently pending in both houses of Congress?as quickly as possible. The proposed language would require the Department of Transportation to promulgate a motor vehicle safety standard requiring automobiles to emit a minimum level of sound to alert the blind and other pedestrians.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind commends the automobile industry for its leadership on this issue and for its genuine concern for the safety of blind Americans, cyclists, runners, small children, and other pedestrians. We look forward to working with the parties to this agreement, the United States Congress, and the Department of Transportation to ensure that America’s streets remain safe, both for those who drive and for those who do not.”

"Good policy is a collaborative effort, and this is a good approach for pedestrians and automakers," said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, cyclists, runners, seniors, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.

A recent report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that hybrid and electric vehicles are nearly twice as likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians as vehicles with internal combustion engines.

CONTACT:
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen@nfb.org

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP Lena Horn

I was sorry to hear this evening that Lena Horn has died. She was ninety-two.

RIP

The News Hour's obituary

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Moving Right Along

Marooner’s Haven has comfortably past the 50,000 word mark; so, I’m justified in referring to it as a novel rather than a writing project. It’s going well too. There’s still a great deal of work to be done on it, but at last I’m cautiously optimistic that I might actually finish it one of these days.

Maybe it’s my Celtic melancholy or maybe it’s something else, but my pleasure in how well MH is going devolved today into uncertainty and even mild gloom. It’s all very well to write a novel, but when it’s written, will anyone buy it? It’s a simple, quiet book with no violence, no sex, little strong language. There are no chases or explosions or murders, no espionage or space exploration or rampaging aliens. I’m fond of the characters; I find the story absorbing, but will publishers and readers?

I don’t hold with writing what the market dictates. I believe in writing what’s inside you, the stories that demand that you write them. It seems to me that only in that way can a piece of writing be true and genuine. I also understand the concept of toiling for twenty-five years in order to become an overnight success. But I’ve been working that long and longer and have yet to make my first “professional” sale. Is the problem that I’m a bad writer or that I don’t write material that has commercial potential? The question that has begun to trouble me is, are they the same thing? If I can’t produce work that a commercial editor will buy, can I consider myself a good writer?

So, despite how well Marooner’s Haven is going, I find myself downhearted and doubtful.

Part of the problem might, of course, be organic. I haven’t been sleeping well, which lowers the defenses.

Because of the insomnia, though, I’ve been doing a good deal of reading. This Spring I’ve read The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Finished Changes, book 12, last week. I wish there could be further books in the series, but don’t really see how that would be possible. It’s an excellent series. Someone has called it Harry Potter meets The Rockford Files, which seems to me an apt description.

The series really hits its stride with book 3, Grave Peril, but from the beginning with Storm Front it is at one and the same time a well realized world of its own and a riff on, sometimes a spoof of, Fantasy and Hard Boiled Detective conventions. There are vampires and werewolves, madams and gangsters; and there’s a hard nosed but cute and golden-hearted police detective, Karen Murphy, with whom Dresden never quite manages to get off. There’s also magic, magic which is viewed in a very down to earth, practical way.

The interpersonal relationships that develop over the course of the series are complex and realistic, many of the recurring characters finely drawn and nuanced, people the reader cares about. I would recommend the series to both fans of detective fiction and those who enjoy stories about magic.

I’ve also been reading, and in a few cases rereading, Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. One Rinehart book that I particularly enjoyed is The Amazing Interlude. This is not a mystery. Instead, it is set in 1915 Belgium, I presume based on the author’s experiences as a war correspondent. It deals not with the conduct of the war but with a young girl from Pittsburgh, Sarah Lee Kennedy, who opens a soup kitchen and rest stop just behind the lines. Though others may read it differently, The Amazing Interlude seems to me very much an antiwar book. In any case, it is an absolutely lovely story.

Besides reading old standbys, I’m also au current. As well as Changes which, if I’m not mistaken, came out this year, I’ve read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and started The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson, both of which were all the rage on Library Thing last year. They are excellent books, though extremely violent. I’ve preordered The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which isn’t out from Audible yet.

I’ve also been reading Robert J. Sawyer. In the Winter I readCalculating God, went on to Starplex, my favorite of his books I’ve read so far, and devoured The Neanderthal Parallax. The first volume, Hominids, was serialized in Analog some years back; but, I read it again before proceeding to Humans and Hybrids. Now I need to reread Wake before tackling Watch. I also read Rollback when it was serialized in Analog.

I like Sawyer’s books. They’re more laidback and thoughtful than some. I tend to attribute this difference to his being Canadian, but it may simply be due to his personality. He is one of my FaceBook friends, or I am one of his. From what I’ve seen of him there, he seems like a really nice guy.

Of course, his success is depressing... No. I’m not going to go back there!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Workers Memorial Day

I received the following this afternoon from the United Steel Workers.

PLEASE NOTE: according to our records, this is the first Presidential Proclamation marking Workers Memorial Day

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 28, 2010

WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY, 2010

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

This year marks the 40th anniversary of both the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, which promise American workers the right to a safe workplace and require employers to provide safe conditions. Yet, today, we remain too far from fulfilling that promise. On Workers Memorial Day, we remember all those who have died, been injured, or become sick on the job, and we renew our commitment to ensure the safety of American workers.

The families of the 29 coal miners who lost their lives on April 5 in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia are in our thoughts and prayers. We also mourn the loss of 7 workers who died in a refinery explosion in Washington State just days earlier, the 4 workers who died at a power plant in Connecticut earlier this year, and the 11 workers lost in the oil platform explosion off the coast of Louisiana just last week.

Although these large-scale tragedies are appalling, most workplace deaths result from tragedies that claim one life at a time through preventable incidents or disabling disease. Every day, 14 workers are killed in on-the-job incidents, while thousands die each year of work-related disease, and millions are injured or contract an illness. Most die far from the spotlight, unrecognized and unnoticed by all but their families, friends, and co-workers -- but they are not forgotten.

The legal right to a safe workplace was won only after countless lives had been lost over decades in workplaces across America, and after a long and bitter fight waged by workers, unions, and public health advocates. Much remains to be done, and my Administration is dedicated to renewing our Nation's commitment to achieve safe working conditions for all American workers.

Providing safer work environments will take the concerted action of government, businesses, employer associations, unions, community organizations, the scientific and public health communities, and individuals. Today, as we mourn those lost mere weeks ago in the Upper Big Branch Mine and other recent disasters, so do we honor all the men and women who have died on the job. In their memory, we rededicate ourselves to preventing such tragedies, and to securing a safer workplace for every American.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2010, as Workers Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those who have been killed due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Rainbow Connection



Kermit reminds us to be dreamers. After all, dreaming is what life's all about.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stolen wallet? Tips to Prevent Credit Card Fraud and identity Theft

This item from the April issue of Husky News is important enough to share:
When Your Wallet Goes A.W.O.L.
When your wallet is lost or stolen, it's tough not to fear the worst-credit card fraud and identity theft. But you can hold the panic at bay by acting quickly and taking a few preventative measures that help protect your credit and reduce your liability.

Before Your Wallet Goes A.W.O.L.
Because identity theft is on the rise and a real threat you should not ignore, take these steps NOW as preventative measures:

1. Photocopy your credit cards, ID cards, and licenses (front and back) to help you report their loss accurately and efficiently.
2. Keep the copies in a safe place.
3. Make new copies of cards that are updated or replaced.
4. NEVER carry your Social Security card with you. Keep it safe in a secure location.

After Your Wallet Goes A.W.O.L.
Upon discovering that your wallet is irretrievable, take these steps ASAP:
1. Cancel your credit cards and request replacements with new numbers.
2. Call agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and your healthcare provider for replacement licenses and ID cards.
3. Report the theft of your wallet to the police.
4. Contact each national credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union) to request that a fraud alert be attached to your accounts.
5. Request a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to check for and report any unusual activity.

Although these measures cannot guarantee the security of your identity and credit, they go a long way to deter thieves and protect your financial liability.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time Heals Everything

Time heals everything
Tuesday, Thursday
Time heals everything
April, August
If I'm patient the break will mend
And one fine morning the hurt will end

So make the moments fly
Autumn, Winter
I'll forget you by
Next year, Some year
Though it's hell that I'm going through
Some
Tuesday, Thursday,
April, August,
Autumn, Winter
Next Year, Some Year
Time heals everything
Time heals everything,
But loving you

- Jerry Herman

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Come Into The Parlor



Today I celebrate my Irish heritage, with its faith, its all too sometimes tragic patriotism and its, sometimes rather dark, humor.

from St. Patrick's Breastplate
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Read the entire, beautiful and moving prayer.

Kevin Barry
In Mountjoy Jail one Monday morning,
High upon the gallows tree,
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.
Just a lad of eighteen summers,
Yet no one can deny,
As he walked to death that morning
He proudly held his head on high.

Just before he faced the hangman,
In his dreary prison cell,
British soldiers tortured Barry
Just because he would not tell
The names of his brave comrades,
And other things they wished to know,
'Turn informer or we'll kill you!'
Kevin Barry answered 'No!'

Calmly standing to attention,
As he bade his last farewell
To his broken-hearted mother,
Whose sad grief no one can tell,
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be;
Then to death walked, softly smiling,
That old Ireland might be free.

Another martyr for old Ireland,
Another murder for the crown,
Whose brutal laws may kill the Irish,
But can't keep their spirit down.
Lads like Barry are no cowards,
From the foe they will not fly;
Lads like Barry will free Ireland,
For her sake they'll live and die.
Read a brief biography of this young Irish patriot.

There is sorrow and pathos in death. Sometimes, though, the Irish can also find

humor in the situation.

Steve O'Donnell's Wake
Steve O'Donnell was a gentleman
So everybody said
He was loved by all his friends
Both rich and poor
And everyone felt sorry
When they heard that Steve was dead
And they saw the piece
Of Crepe upon the door

The barber came to shave
The Galway slagga from his throat
And cut his hair
In a la pompadore
A red necktie and buttonhole boquet
Was in his coat
And a bunch of shamrocks
In his hand he wore

Undertaker Feeney had the job
To lay O'Donnell out
In a casket
Of the very finest make
He dressed the corpse in broadcloth
And said: "Boys, there'll be no doubt"
That they'll all get drunk
At Steve O'Donnell's wake

There were fighters
Biters and Irish dynamiters
There was beer, gin
Whiskey, wine and cake
There were men in high positions
There were Irish politicians
And they all got drunk
At Steve O'Donnell's wake

There were fifty candles at his head
And twenty at his feet
Plenty flowers sent
For friendship's sake
"Oh, Steve, me by'e, why did you die?"
The grieving widow said
And we all felt sad
At Steve O'Donnell's wake

Mike McGovern said that
Steve O'Donnell was an awful bum
Of course he only meant it
For a joke
But Paddy Mack got up his back
And he made McGovern run
Cause he hit him in the eye
An awful poke

They all joined in the fightin'
Then cause everyone was mad
And blood enough was spilled
To form a lake
They knocked the corpse down on the floor
And blew off all the lights
There was murder down
At Steve O'Donnell's wake

Then the cops came in to stop the brawl
To make them understand
And the corpse was picked up
By his brother Dan
But someone stole the necktie
From around O'Donnell's throat
Mike McGovern said O'Reilly
Was the man

O'Reilly's friends got crazy mad
And swore they'd have his life
McGovern saw he made
A great mistake
They fought and fought
And danced around until the cops came in
And arrested all
At Steve O'Donnell's wake

Until today, I only knew the first and third stanzas of this rollicking, darkly comic song. The whole left me laughing helplessly for a moment. After all,melancholy and mirth are inextricably bound in the Celtic psyche, especially the Irish. It isn't stated, but I suspect the truth is that Steve had the best time
of anyone at his wake.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Abraham

Irving Berlin is the American Shakespeare. Just as the Bard has a quotation for every occasion, so Irving has a song.

But, both parts of that description are equally important. Irving is "our" Shakespeare. At the same time, he was fiercely proud of being an American; a pride he expressed in the anthem "God Bless America." He also expressed his pride in and love for the United States in two historical pieces that he wrote for the 1942 film Holiday Inn, both of which we shall be featuring this month.

So, with compliments to Messieurs Berlin, Crosby and Co...

Happy Birthday President Lincoln!



Upon a February morn
A tiny baby boy was born
Abraham, Abraham
When he grew up this tiny babe
Folks all called him Honest Abe
Abraham, Abraham
In eighteen sixty, he became
The sixteenth president
And now he's in the hall of fame
A most respected gent
That's why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

When black folks lived in slavery
Who was it set the darkie free?
Abraham, Abraham
When trouble came down from the shelf
Who's heart was bigger than himself?
Abraham, Abraham
The country's going to the dogs
They shouted loud and long
Then from a cabin made out of logs
The right man come along
And that is why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

The U.S.A.'s united thanks
To one whose name was Nancy Hanks
Abraham, Abraham
She gave this land the finest son
Who ever went to Washington
Abraham, Abraham
Someone told him General Grant
Was drinking every night
He answered, "Go see if you can't
Get all my generals tight"
That's why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

Thank the Lord for
Abraham
Abraham

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Juices Flowing Again

My friends and colleagues in the writers group were very sympathetic and generous with suggestions about how to beat the block I complained about in the last post.

I want to thank them all, again, very much!

We need Edmund to experience some Man versus Nature. This shouldn't be too hard, since he has never before traveled more than fifty miles away from home. I only have vague ideas about this as yet, but just knowing the material should be there is a help.

Next, he has an encounter with an old woman, who treats him kindly. But, since Edmund is not terribly observant, and generally is not the shiniest battle axe on the wall, or maybe I should say the sharpest, he doesn't perceive her true nature and, since he's pretty pigheaded, she is only able to give him relatively small, unimportant gifts; useful as far as they go, but limited.

However, the very existence of this episode created the need for a later, parallel or at least similar episode. The second person who encounters the kindly old woman is more perceptive, and thus understands that she is a witch wife, albeit not a powerful one. This second person is also rather more amenable to suggestion, so the kindly crone can give the second person some useful help.

These episodes also involve details that tie this story forward to another, set centuries in the future of this world. Indeed, I'll now have to start looking for ways to incorporate similar details into other stories set in this world.

In other words, while the problem of Edmund's quest and specifically his travels hasn't been solved, it no longer seems insoluble and overwhelming. I'm working again, and that's a marvelous feeling!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ups and Downs

Maybe the editing gig will be more fun than I expected. Still, never again! I don’t deal well with the guilt of judging a submission to be sub par and rejecting it. I do quite like reading the good entries though; so, I guess it all evens out. Got three months of it ahead of me, the deadline being April 30. Oh well, I suppose it’s good experience.

An experience that I’m finding a bit frustrating is the article for The Braille Monitor. The contact from whom I need a few more details in order to finish the article still hasn’t e-mailed me back. I suppose it’s time to light just a small fire under her. After all, she’s the one who wanted publicity in the first place. I want to get the article finished and sent to the editor before he completely forgets having talked to me about it. Hence the necessity of nudging the contact. Blah! I hate being pushy. But, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Sigh

By far the biggest problem of the past few days has to do with my high fantasy story, “The Lady of the Stars.” One member of my writers group made the just and reasonable observation that, if the Steorraburg (the palace that is home to the title character) is a place of legend and quest, it needs to be more than three days’ ride away from home. There is, it has always seemed to me, a compelling reason for the journey, especially the journey home, to be as short as possible, a reason that the reader, not having gotten that far yet, couldn’t be aware of. Still, his point is a good one. If I’m going to do this, I ought to do it right. After a few days’ thought, I have come up with a somewhat weak but workable way around the problem of the journey’s length.

But that minor success exposed a major, potentially project-stopping problem. I have nothing, nada, absolutely zipparoony in the way of minor, wayside adventures for my young, would be hero. No fragment, or scrap or shadow of an idea either in the computer or in the dim recesses of my mind. I always thought the violent imagery of racking or cudgeling one’s brains was extreme, hyperbole. I’ve learned better. Never before have both my personal slush pile and my imagination failed me...utterly and completely. I have no notion what to do except maybe to proceed with working on the parts I do have some vague notion about as well as with the swordsmanship research in the hope that inspiration might strike. But, it’s discouraging. I was enthusiastic about this project, and actually dared to voice the hope of finishing it in the foreseeable future. That audacity, that arrogance must have been what caused the problem that has drawn me up short. It’s very upsetting!

Oh well. Better go look at today’s batch of submissions. I meant to do it earlier in the day, but somehow the day got away from me.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Candlemas


listener makes her own candles. Above is a photo of newly made candles that she finished yesterday.

Candlemas is also known as The Feast of Our Lady of the Candles.

The feast's roots are traceable to the Celtic festival of Imbol. Also read this fascinating page from The Wheel of the Celtic Year to learn about the connections between St. Brigid and Candlemas. Thanks to Alan for these two links.

However you look at it, we're coming out of the darkness of Winter into the light of Spring.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What I'm Up To

The article I'm writing for The Braille Monitor is almost finished. In fact, I'd hoped to have it done by the end of the week. But one of my contacts, from whom I still need some info, hasn't supplied that info yet; so, I'm stuck waiting. I hate that.

It's particularly irksome because I'm rather busy just now. Starting Monday, I'll be reading through and selecting pieces for a book to be published this summer by the NFB Writers Division. While I understand the justice of the person who originated the idea doing the editing and selecting, still I wish to heaven the idea had never entered my mind. I've never done any editing before, and the prospect alarms me.My only hope is that there won't be many entries.

I'm also currently working on a Fantasy story for which I need to do research into swordsmanship. While this promises to be fascinating, it will also be long drawn and tiring. But then, what isn't tiring? *sigh*

I probably won't have much time for reading over the coming few months. Recently, i've been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom (Mars) series.Great fun. The first four books are unashamedly pulp fiction but the fifth, The Chessmen of Mars that I just finished, is rather more polished and literary. It's still a tale of high adventure, involving a beautiful princess, a loyal and faithful warrior aspiring to her hand, fabulous and grotesque monsters, an evil monarch and chivalrous friends found along the way who are willing to die for honor. But the style is less overwrought and consciously mannered than that of the earlier books. I enjoy the series, endlessly inventive as Burroughs' mind is. I'd like to read others of his series at some point, but when that may be, I don't know.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RIP Robert B. Parker

I was sorry to hear of the death Monday, January Eighteenth, of mystery writer Robert B. Parker. Still, he died at his desk, working. Surely, that's the way any writer would choose to go.

RIP

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Out In Haiti




Many organizations are taking part in the international disaster relief efforts in Haiti. The two that yours truly has donated to are UNICEF and Habitat For Humanity. Won't you join me in lending a helping hand to our Haitian brothers and sisters who have lost their archbishop, their cathedral and much of their capital city as well as unknown numbers of their fellow citizens?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Benediction

House in the snow
- photo by listener

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Vermont Road


- photo by listener

West Virginia may be almost Heaven, but this sure looks like a piece of Paradise to me. (Be sure to click on the photo foor the large version.)

Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed:
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!
Hill and water under sky,
Pass them by! Pass them by!

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon and to the Sun.
Apple, thorn and nut and sloe,
Let them go! Let them Go!
Sand and stone and pool and dell,
Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We'll wander back to home and bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! and then to bed!

- J.R.R. Tolkien
from The Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, January 08, 2010

The More Things Change...

In Eighteenth Century England, the target was Roman Catholics. In the Twenty-first Century United States, it's Muslims. As a species, we don't seem to be making much progress.

It is unnecessary to say, that those shameful tumults, while they reflect indelible disgrace upon the time in which they occurred, and all who had act or part in them, teach a good lesson. That what we falsely call a religious cry is easily raised by men who have no religion, and who in their daily practice set at nought the commonest principles of right and wrong; that it is begotten of intolerance and persecution; that it is senseless, besotted, inveterate and unmerciful; all History teaches us. But perhaps we do not know it in our hearts too well, to profit by even so humble an example as the 'No Popery' riots of Seventeen Hundred and Eighty.

- Charles Dickens
in the preface to Barnaby Rudge, 1868

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Snowy Day



When I took this photo at 8:30 this morning, I heard Chickadees singing their Spring song!
"MY tree! MY tree!" This is the earliest I have ever heard it sung; usually it's just one early bird.
This was a whole chorus of Chickadees!
- listener

Maybe the chickadees know something we don't? *grin*

Vermont Roads


Vermont's interstate has two lanes on each side and no billboards.
- listener

Though none are in evidence, this picture puts me in mind of the line from "Moonlight in Vermont:"

Telegraph cables, how they sing along the highway, and travel each bend of the road

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Musical New Year

Just as it is traditional to sing "Auld Lang Sine" at Midnight in English speaking countries, in European countries it is traditional to play The Radetzky March at New Year's Day concerts, usually at the end.

Blue Moon



Besides New Year's Eve, tonight is also a blue moon. Thanks to listener for the reminder and the photo.

Ring Out, Wild Bells!


photo by listener

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

- Alfred, Lord, Tennyson: In Memoriam A.H.H., CVI