Friday, April 29, 2005

Ah Friday...

Ah Friday, sweet relief.

As my friend Mark says sometimes it feels like you're "falling into the weekend". This was one of those weekends. Though Meg is feeling a bit better from her Indian excursion, she is still not quite right and the change of seasons has my allergies complaining bitterly. Despite that...

It was a GORGEOUS afternoon here in Vermont, which we were not supposed to have (rain is forecast for most of the weekend). Both Meg and I left work a bit early and it was fantastic to spend the first part of the evening on the deck watching the Maxfield Parrish sunset. Lucky indeed!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Music for Spring

What music pops into your head when Spring rolls around?

The joy of watching sprouts come out of the ground and the unexplainable feeling you get after the long New England winter never fails to stir my musical soul. In recent years, I’ve found the Grateful Dead popping up a lot more than they used to; which was never. When I was younger, I could never understand what people saw in that outdated bunch of pot smoking oldsters. The didn’t rock at all; they didn’t even look like rock stars, and occasionally their music sounded like, gasp, folk music! I remember when I was in college and they came to UMO. I looked out my Dunn Hall (“Corbett Sucks!!”) window at the Alfond Arena, packed with whirling dervishes feeling some connection to this band that just didn’t friggin’ rock at all! I didn’t get it.

Years went by. My friend Mark and I learned (he better than I) to play music on real instruments and thus to turn what we had been listening to into some sort of reality (certainly in some cases, mercy would have been served had this not been so). Mark, flexing his musical muscle, suggested at one point that the band play some Grateful Dead songs. I reluctantly agreed, figuring I could put up with anything for a while and we played “Don’t Fade Away” - and perhaps others that have vanished from my memory of that time. It had a groove, I’d give it that. At times, I enjoyed playing that funky drum part, but like the Cat that Walks by Himself, I told no one.

More years pass. I buy my first house ever in the wonderful township of Post Mills, Vermont. Shortly after I move in, I throw a little party and Mark comes up for the weekend. Saturday morning, we do our Thetford, Vermont duty and run down to the recycling center during the three hours a week that it’s open. Well lo and behold, over by the junk shed is a big pile of records… I check them out. There are some good ones and they seem in decent shape. Faster than you can say “Jack Robinson” they are hoisted into the back of the Jeep and home they go. That same weekend, I stopped at a typical Vermont yard sale as I think I see some records. I do. They are in good shape. I pay and hoist.

Later on – and I mean it: I still haven’t got through all these records – I discover a bunch of Grateful Dead records – and I mean all the classics – amongst this pile ‘o vinyl. I check them out, but quietly and in the privacy of my own home. One fine Spring day when Meg is visiting and we’re doing some yard work outside, she suggests some Dead on the stereo (it might have been “Europe ’72”). It proves to be highly effective.

Over time, the Grateful Dead have grown and grown and grown and grown on me. I appreciate the honest delivery. The non-picture perfect presentation. The earnestness. In short, I appreciate the involvement with the music: I could play with these guys and it would sound good! Well OK, not good but, OK. They felt the music, took the risks, and every once and a while would just blow your mind.

So for me the Spring makes me pull those records out – to toss on the “Hundred Year Hall” that my brother (a repeat offender at the RFK court of the Dead) bought for me in Santa Cruz, to fire up the “Scarlet Begonias / Fire on the Mountain” Ithica medley that emerged from the Napster years, and to just sit down and grooooove to “Terrapin Station”, the first song Meg brought to play on my new Aerial 10T’s so many years ago. It just feels right to me.

Ah Spring!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Apple Trees

After a long tough winter, including abuse from the local deer population, our new apple trees are beginning to sprout some new buds!

Sunday, April 24, 2005


So last night about 8:15 as the Red Sox and Curt Shilling were preparing to throw away yet another game they should have in the bag, the power suddenly goes out. This is a touch ironic as Meg was only a few days ago explaining to her collegues in Noida, India that we rarely lose power here in the U.S. and that when we do, it's for a short time (that work day Meg said they lost power about 20 [twenty!] times! This is a real problem in India right now).

Anyway, we do the standard stuff, lighting candles, re-arming flashlights, and setting new world records for opening and shutting the refridgerator door, and then we wait. And wait. And finally go to bed 'cause the entire valley in front of us is dark except for car lights. The power finally returned around 4:30 or 5:00 this morning and all is back to normal.

It again reminds me how dependent we are on electric power for pumping water from the well, heating the house, cooling our food, and lighting the night. Jeez, when I was growing up this was no big deal at all! Lights, heat, refrigeration etc. were all taken care of by a more "storable" energy source: propane. Pumping water etc. was still a job for an electric pump but of course this was powered by our twin Onan generators - again running off propane.

Now of course the interesting thing is what happened when the generators wouldn't generate for one reason or another. The answer was simple: Dad went up and fixed them! The problem we have not is that is a) we don't have any generators and b) if we did, I couldn't maintain and repair them. My vocation makes it more likely - though by no means a sure thing - that I can fix the computer system if suddenly we are unable to print from the iBook. How useless is that?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Vince Guaraldi and ... Frank Zappa?

One of the challenges of the CD age is of course keeping track of all those darn CDs. I have a stack of CD cases who've lost their CDs. Some of them I have a vague idea of their fate - most I do not.

Several years ago as Christmas approached and the Christmas music came out, we opened Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts Christmas CD case to discover nothing inside. Panic ensued for several minutes and when things settled down I jumped in the car and drove to our local CD store ("Music Matters" - wonderful place) and remedied the situation. Since then, the Vince Guaraldi CD case has sat with other lost souls in the aforementioned stack glumly listening to it's replacement at Christmas time.

Flash forward to the present. Tyler's gone and, believing this will make him more hip, got an iPod and is busily transferring CDs onto the computer and then to the iPod. Yesterday I decide I need some classic Zappa on the iPod (you know where this is going right?). After the first disc of Live in New York has been ripped and I'm struggling to open the other side of the double CD case, it finally comes free and who should stroll out but Vince Guaraldi complaining "Hey, about time you let me outta that madhouse! That Zappa guy is NUTS!!"

Leave it to the iPod to bring Vince and Frank together. I wonder what they jammed on?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Meg's Home!

The travel home was lloonngg and ssmmaallll (they have apparently continued to put the squeeze on passengers on these long distance flights) but relatively uneventful. I was so glad to see the big Dartmouth Coach pull into Lebanon tonight! We caught up on a lot but have much more to do. This trip has made clear things we've only considered in the the abstract previously. So much different seeing it all in person.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Meg is coming home!

Meg's trip to India is coming to an end. As I post this, she is packing up her things at the Radisson in Noida and preparing for dinner with their host Kapil. After that it's off to the Indira Ghandi International Airport for the beginning of a long ride home during which she'll chase the sun through Amsterdam to Detroit and then backtrack to Boston for the bus ride to Lebanon. Whew!

Her last 'picture of the day' comes from their return trip from Agra to Noida when they stopped to get tea at the Sarpanch Hotel. The trip to Agra and back certainly exposed the less developed side of India and illustrates some of the revolutionary change going on in that country. I read an article in the New York Times yesterday about the advent of prepared food in India and how, as workers have more money and less time, this is becoming more common.

I can't wait to see her.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Delhi to Agra

Today's picture from Meg's trip to India taken in a rural area along the road from Delhi to Agra.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Dad.

Dad and the "new" Piper PA11 at the Sun and Fun Fly-In in Lakeland Florida.

Fatehpur Sikri

Meg's picture of the day is the Sufi burial place at Fatehpur Sikri (the Abandoned City) near Agra.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Taj Mahal

Meg is back in Noida after spending the weekend exploring in and around Agra. I got this picture from her this morning. I'm astonished to notice that there are people in the foreground near the bottom of the picture. The structure must be much bigger than I had imagined. I can't wait to hear more about this part of the trip.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Noida, India

Meg snapped this picture in Noida, on her way back to hotel on Friday (her Friday which happened before out Friday) after work.

Since then she and her co-worker Amy have traveled South to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. It's apparently a fairly popular tourist destination but has proven to be a very different world compared to Noida and the area around New Delhi. Meg said that that poverty and rubbish she saw along the way to Agra was almost overwhelming. I'm so glad that she and Amy were traveling with a driver for this trip. Also apparently the customs and day to day details of life are less Western (I'm paraphrasing Meg now) than around Noida - Meg said it was difficult to figure out how to dial another room in the hotel.

Meg said the Taj Mahal is incredible - but also that it was incredibly crowded. Apparently they were told they were there on a 'quiet' day because of the heat (looks like it was over 100 degrees!) but Meg said the place was just packed! In one hundred degree heat, I can only imagine. Meg's statement resonated with me as I heard a very nice 'public access' type commentary on a local radio station last Thursday where the fellow was describing how as a young man living in Washington DC, he regularly took in the city and the monuments in relative solitude - even relating the fact that he stood on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial with nobody else in the entire memorial. He was remarking on this because he had just been back to DC for the cherry blossoms and couldn't get over the hordes of people.

Meg said 12,000 people a day visit the Taj Mahal. Holy smoke.

I'm anxious to hear more of what they experienced sightseeing Sunday. Meg and Amy will be getting up shortly and traveling back to Noida to resume work there through Thursday. Then my sweetie starts the long journey home.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Not in Kansas anymore...

Meg's trip to India has already proven interesting. She's visited the Baha’I House of Worship (aka, the Lotus temple, the Iskane Temple (a Hare Krishna temple) as well as the National Museum. Along the way she has seen a boy with a cage full of parrots, monkeys on a leash, an elephant, and (see above) a camel and rider crossing three lanes of traffic and then the median!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Frogs in the Road.

Meg and I were coming home from work and shopping last night and as we made our way up Asa Burton Road, I noticed something in the road that didn't quite look like a leaf. As I was driving at a crawl - didI mentioned it's mud season in Vermont? - I realized it was a medium sized frog. The first of the year and quite large!

Armed with this new way of deciphering what I was seeing I realized there was another several feet beyond the first and yet another a few feet to the right of him. All told we saw about 10 frogs on the road over the course of less than a quarter of a mile coming to the house. Neither Meg nor I remember seeing such a Spring phenomenon ever before in Vermont.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Pope.

I woke up thinking about the Pope and of our trip to Poland in 1999 for Meg's brother Stu's wedding to Bogusia. After the wedding, we traveled a bit in Poland with Bogusia's friend Ewa who was a wonderful tour guide. Ewa described how important the Polish Pope was to the people of Poland, both in a spiritual sense and in a political one as they emerged from the long period under Soviet domination. During this tough period, it was understandably a matter of great pride that this Polish Pope was the first non-Italian one in over four hundred years.

With Ewa's help, Meg and I traveled to the mountains of Southern Poland (the Tatras) where Karole Wojtyla skied and hiked in his younger days. This was a picture that I tooke from our hotel room in Zakopane of this beautiful area of snowy mountains and smoked cheese.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Baseball is Here!

Despite a somewhat lackluster performance by David Wells and the rest of the Red Sox last night, it's certainly a relief to have baseball back!

Over the course of the winter, I read a couple of great baseball books including Moneyball, A Day in the Bleachers, and of course Faithful. It got me by but it's good to have the real thing finally!

The Apple Plunge!

So this past Friday we took the plunge and bought a 14" Apple iBook! I've been curious about whether Apple products really delivered the superior user experience that many claim. I've toyed with the idea for quite some time, but the kicker for me was asking my friend Barry - a long time PC user which PC laptop we should buy and having him recommend the iBook! I also realized that many very clever and artistic friends of mine are dedicated Apple users. Finally, our recent experience with our new iPod has certainly been a positive one.

So Friday was the day. I came home (late) Friday night and unpacked it. In no time I had it setup to retrieve e-mail from our existing accounts. By Noon the next day it was on our in house wireless network, streaming audio from the PC upstairs and delivering it to the Apple AirTunes unit hooked to our stereo downstairs. So far - and there is alot more to explore - I'm very impressed with it. As was pointed out by Walter Mossberg in a very good article in the WSJ about 'switching', some of the UI paradigms are different from the PC, but it certainly seems managable. Will it be worth it to have a hybrid house? We'll see.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Robins are here!

I heard on our local "Eye on the Sky" weather report the other day that someone in Post Mills reported seeing a robin. Well this morning, the first day of April, I see a number of robins on our front lawn, which incidentally is showing larger and larger patches of grass through the snow.

Maybe this spring thing is really going to happen!