Purcell in a Pub

I have been thinking about this very idea for the last month or so. Not that it’s an original idea. Classical musicians have taken to the bars (for music making!) all along. Cellist Matt Haimovitz made headlines for taking Bach into bars a few years ago. I heard him in Greensboro playing solo cello under a disco ball in a packed bar. I’ve been thinking lately about making the rounds (pun alert) with Baroque instruments. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, check out this Guardian article about the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s “Pub Crawl”.

PS – Matt Haimovitz’s website has a nice streaming music player – you can listen to his recordings non-stop!

Tempeh Girl

I like supporting local business and products and especially when it comes to food. I think “eating locally” makes sound environmental sense. So I was happy to read in the Independent (our local weekly) about Tempeh Girl tempeh – made in Hillsborough just up the road from me. I’m not a vegetarian but I do love some good tempeh from time to time. I’ve had wonderful barbecue tempeh at The Pig (great eating there!) and it turns out they use Tempeh Girl tempeh, too! 

She’s not got it going retail yet in stores – mostly to businesses but she’ll sell you 5 pounds fresh or frozen if you drop her a note on her website. She’s got recipes there, too. I’ve been buying the (pasteurized) tempeh they sell at Whole Foods and Weaver Street Market but I can say that the Tempeh Girl’s tempeh is much better. It’s very light with a delicate flavor and absorbs marinades and seasonings well. She also started making tempeh “bacon” which I got to sample and it’s delicious. Holds together well in the pan, too, unlike some I’ve tried in the past.

So here’s wishing Beth great success in her new business. Support local artists, local farmers and food artisans!

Transparent Government – Not.

The words politician and criminal have been long been synonymous but since the days of Tricky Dick many Americans have fought hard for open records laws and more transparent government. Great progress has been made and the Freedom of Information Act was a huge milestone. But politicians are constantly fighting back so keep their actions secret and ground is being lost again. He’s certainly not the only guilty one but Mitt Romney, who aspires to lead the country, is a frightening example of those who are trying to hide their actions from the public. This Reuters article has the basic facts. This one from the bloated MSNBC site puts a little more spin on the story.

About Tech

I have been a closet geek ever since getting in trouble for taking apart the family lawn mower and, uh, well, not exactly fixing it so it would run again. But I DID get the broken washing machine running again not too long after that. I remember getting my first copy of “How to Fix Damn Near Everything” by Franklynn Peterson back in 1978 and there were some other do-it-yourself books before that.

My mom gave all her kids – well, just the boys! – Commodore C=64 computers when they first came out. My sister brings this up regularly and I’m afraid that because she did not get one of these marvelous inventions to play with she has been way behind the tech curve ever since. (Update: The Commodore 64 turns 30!)

Early years on Compuserve taught me enough to know that friends don’t let friends do AOL. Through a friend I got early access to Duke University machines that were linked up to what was the beginnings of the Internet. Hacking into UNC machines soon followed, BBS‘s, the obligatory stabs at DARPA, etc. In the 80’s I was a big fan of 2600 (I know better than to link to their website here). When it became affordable to rent server space I started my own websites and provide hosting for friends and family. When Windows XP reached the end of it’s life I refused to continue down the MS road and moved to Linux which allows me to keep running old machines with great, free software (and yes, I did the Mac route, too, so hold your tongue, fanboys). I love the Open Source community and do what I can to support it – sometimes donating to developers, helping with beta testing and participating in forums and support groups. I’ve spent many hours on the phone helping friends with computer and internet issues.

I don’t write code but I know enough to be dangerous (remembering the lawn mower incident). I enjoy tinkering with software to get it to do what I want and fixing it when it breaks. Time sink. Beats watching TV, though.

Anyway – I’ll try to post useful tidbits under the tech tag along my way in hopes that they will be useful to someone. Did I tell you about the time I took my bass apart?

Blast from the Past

Someone just gave me this recording of a project I organized at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro many years ago. Here’s one of the tunes we did with 4 basses, percussion and flute. Probably more bass playing than a person would want to hear but it’s fun.

Bassists: Robbie Link, Matt Kendrick, Jim Baird, Rick Jones

Percussion: Beverly Botsford

Woodwinds: Rodney Marsh


MS Society Historic New Bern Bike Tour Ride Report 2011

My 5th year riding to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year I rode a total of 180 miles in 2 days and 27 donors gave over $1100 to support my effort. Overall there were over 2400 riders in this event raising about 1.6 million dollars (total figures not in yet) to help find a cure for and to directly support the over 5200 people in our part of the state who are living with MS. Some of these people are close friends and many we have come to know from doing these yearly rides.

There are so many causes worthy of our support. We all know people who have fallen ill with terrible incurable diseases or who have suffered from some natural catastrophe, or these days, the many unemployed and homeless. So I really appreciate the fact that you have chosen to and were able to support this particular cause that is important to me. It means a lot.

The ride this year came on the heels of hurricane Irene – a storm that brought suffering and hardship to many in the area that we rode in. On Sunday those of us doing the longer routes rode to the town of Oriental on the Pamlico Sound. There was an increasing amount of (mostly vegetative) debris stacked along the side of the roads on the way down there. After crossing the bridge into town we headed north to an area where there are many bays. This area had been badly flooded by the storm and many of the country roads we rode down were lined with the entire contents of people’s homes – TV’s, sofas, beds, dressers, everything. It was incredibly sad – everything broken and water damaged. It was ironic that during the course of that day over a thousand cyclists passed through that area to raise money for a disease while the thousands who lived there had lost everything that they owned. I’m still not quite sure how to process all that.

On both days of the ride we saw many very large trees uprooted or broken off. Quite a few houses had large blue tarps over their roofs where they had been damaged by trees or had shingles blown off by the storm. While we didn’t see any homes that were destroyed by the storm we were told by local officials that in one of the small towns we passed through on Saturday over 20 homes were completely destroyed.

But otherwise the whole experience was wonderful. There’s something about so many people coming together at one time to participate in an activity that supports an important cause. There’s a lot of excitement and it is certainly a colorful, beautiful event to witness and be a part of. The work was hard. It got hotter than expected on Saturday. A hundred miles go by pretty slowly on a bicycle. But I had the good fortune to ride with 5 women who attend our regular Tuesday night ride. They were strong riders and good company and we spread the work around by drafting each other throughout the day and reminding each other to keep drinking and applying sun screen at the rest stops. On Sunday we had a fairly large group led by good friend Steve Blanchard who was like a drill sergeant riding up and down the line keeping us in a double pace line all the way – two minutes each in the lead and then drop back. It was a very efficient operation and made those 80 miles much easier in spite of the headwind we had coming back from Oriental.

As I mentioned in my email, my wife, Karen, was unable to ride with us this year due to surgery. She volunteered all day both days at the finish line. She was given a pom-pom and a cow bell and she raised a ruckus for every rider crossing the finish line. But she’ll be riding again next year!

So many people have said “I could never do that” when I tell them I’m riding this tour to raise money for the MS Society. And I tell them that they can – there are people of all ages on these tours and in all kinds of physical condition. Many of the riders have MS themselves. There are even riders who can not use their legs and use arm powered recumbent bikes. The Historic New Bern tour that we do has routes of 30, 50, 75, and 100 miles as well as a ride for children. There are frequent rest stops with food and drink staffed by volunteers many of whom have MS. Our lunch rest stop on Sunday had a bluegrass band playing. It turned out I knew the fiddle player – he is older than me and had just had a heart transplant. It was great to see him out there playing and feeling good!

So just in case you are interested in possibly doing a ride here is a link to a map of MS bike tours across the country – they are in almost every state: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/raceMap.aspx

Some photos from the tour HERE.

And I want to thank you again for your support!