Everything Under the Sun is in Tune

Been busy.  Spring is finally coming.  We had a few nice days in a row.  The grass is starting to grow and the trees are turning green and other colors with fuzz.  Over the weekend I got my Mustang out on the road, finished off some much-needed yard cleanup from a recent bout of storms, and best of all, got on my bike and went for a ride, ending that awkward time of year between the end of ski season and the start of biking season.

The weekend before we went upstate for the big solar eclipse.  I’d never seen one in totality before.  Jeannie and I drove up to Buffalo on Saturday, and noticed the traffic was fairly heavy one we got on the country roads the last hour of the trip.  Excitement was in the air.  Saturday night we hung out Lizzy and Michelle and Lizzy’s boyfriend Josh, and Larry and Jackie joined us later at the bar.  The place had a tap wall with like a dozen different beers.  Lots of fun.  The waitress commented that it was unusually crowded because of people coming into town for the eclipse.  

Larry and Jackie had driven down to Tennessee for the last eclipse, and Larry told me it was a life-changing experience.  He didn’t seem that different to me, so I asked how it had changed him.  He told me he it made him really want to see another eclipse.  And indeed they drove out to Ohio for this one to try and get out from under the clouds.

Sunday Jeannie and Michelle and I decided to go to Chestnut Ridge Park, which is near my parent’s house, to see the famous Eternal Flame, something we had never done despite my parents having lived there for the last thirty years.  It was still stick and mud season up in Buffalo, no sign on anything turning green yet.  I think every other person coming into town for the weekend had the same idea, and the trail was pretty crowded, to the point where we had to queue up to climb over rocks in the last part.  Still it was pretty cool to see, a jet of natural gas burning in a little cave behind a waterfall.  Weird.

Sunday afternoon Martin and Kathleen arrived with the kids and their dog.  My mum made a big family dinner for everyone, and my dad brought out the wine.  Very lovely evening.  Monday I slept in.  I’d been feeling tired the end of the last week and it was good to catch up on my rest.  I spent to whole morning hanging out and talking with Martin.  After lunch we all went for a long walk in the park near my parents’ house.  It felt like a low-key fourth of July.  People had brought lawn chairs and drinks and even some telescopes to watch the big event.  We got back to my parents’ house as the skies were darkening, and watched the totality from their lawn.

It had been mainly sunny in the morning, and grew increasingly cloudy as the totality got closer.  Still there were enough breaks in the cloud for good viewing, if not very sustained.  We had some obsidian discs from Mexico that were meant for viewing the sun, and they somehow made the sun visible behind the clouds.  I think it actually only liked like it was getting cloudier; as the eclipse progressed the sky was getting darker because of that.

When the moment of totality arrived, it suddenly became nighttime.  It was like somebody pulled the house lights down on the whole world.  The temperature dropped, birds and dogs made lots of noise, and there was a ring of pink near the horizon.  We even saw a few stars.  Looking at the sun, there are a few moments when the clouds parted and you could see the corona, all dancing shimmering silver gold tendrils.  Amazing.  Life altering, even.  Then a few minutes later the diamond ring appeared and just as abruptly as is descended, the night vanished.  It was back to tepid daylight, which returned to full strength over the next hour or so.  And wouldn’t you know it, it was bright sunshine the rest of the day, not a cloud in sight.

We dove home Tuesday, and again there was heavy traffic, particularly at the rest stops on the way.  I’m happy to say we found some good places for lunch on the trip.  For many years the only really quick and convenient option McDonalds.  Their food was never that great but seems to have steadily declined in quality over the years.  on the way up we discovered a new place, the Old Bat Factory in Hancock.  They had a deli with sandwiches and wraps, very yummy.  On the way back home there’s a seasonal roadside barbecue stand in Appalachin.  Pulled pork and all that.

And, back in the music studio, I’ve edited together mixes of nine out of ten of the songs for the new Spacecats record.  I know I said I’d tell you all about it, but I think I’ll save the story for next time, when I have some tracks ready to share.

Fotoz 2023, Part 4

Well this project has dragged on a while, but is finally done.  The last batch includes our trip California last fall, including the SF Bay Area, the Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, and the PCOC Origami Conference.  All in it was twenty galleries, by far the most for a single year.  Ah well this year will probably be less traveling.  Can’t wait to get back to doing other things tomorrow.  Enjoy!


Fotoz 2023, Part 3

As this crazy world keeps spinning ’round, spring poked its head out then went back into its burrow this week. Saturday was a huge rainstorm, all night and all day. Way upstate and in Vermont they got snow a good foot of snow, and we toyed with the idea of going skiing, but it’s a long drive and an overnight say. Instead on Sunday I took the mustang out for the first drive of the season. It started right up and continues to run well, sounds and feels good, engine brakes transmission and everything.

In musicland, mixing and mastering my new Buzzy Tonic record Plutonium Dirigible is on hold while I turn my attention to mixing and mastering the spacecats record. I’ve made a rough stereo mix of each take, and now it’s on to deciding which is the best take for each song, and if we want to do any edits. More on that soon, I promise.

And, here’s a bunch more photo galleries. This takes thru Florence and Venice and the end of our Italy trip, and on to the rest of the summer and into fall. Up next: California!


New Song – Sisyphus Blues

This is a reworking of an older song, with a new melody and updated lyric. Because life is like that. Enjoy:

Sisyphus Blues

(D minor, drop D tuning)

Just when you think that life’s looking up
And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around
Just then you think that life’s looking down
Climbin’ up that hill
Slidin’ down that hill

Life’s looking up then it’s looking down
Ramblin’ up that hill
Tumblin’ down that hill

You might drink from that silver cup one day yeah but now you’re
Holdin’ on to what you will
Ridin’ on up and down that hill

Then comes the day when it all turns around yeah
Holdin’ on to what you will
Ridin’ up and down that hill

Fotoz 2023, Part 2

It feels like spring is really right around the corner.  We had a few arm and sunny days, but surely it will revert to stormy and cold in the days ahead.  Probably not much hope left for skiing.

However, life comes at you fast and it’s time to move forward.  We’ve begun the spring cycle of yardwork, having raked off the old leaves and debris, and panted some new stuff in the flowerbeds.  Good to spend some time outside.  Next weekend hopefully I’ll get the Mustang out on the road.  Meanwhile Michelle is home for spring break, and has been busy baking.

Last week I completed a major project at work.  We migrated the backend our of app Permission Slip from of homespun R&D server hosted on Heroku to CR’s enterprise infrastructure.  This involved alot of people from alot of teams, and alot coordination and development effort.  As the deadline grew near, I ended up quarterbacking alot things just to be sure nothing fell thru the cracks.  In the end, the cutover went smoothly and everyone was very happy with the result.  The Innovation Lab VP Ben said to me that my presence raised our group’s credibility with the organization, which I consider a huge compliment.

Meanwhile in the recoding studio, I finished tracking and mixing Sisyphus Blues, the last song for my upcoming Buzzy Tonic record Plutonium Dirigible.  Now it’s on to final mixing and mastering, and releasing the record sometime this spring.  So watch this space for updates on that.

And not a moment too soon.  This Saturday was the long-awaited recording session for my jazz group Spacecats.  We did a whole album, ten songs, in one day.  All in all, it couldn’t have gone better.  Now it’s on to mixing and editing.  Lots to say about the songs, the session, and how it all came together.  So watch this space for storytelling and updates on that too.

Finally, been busy putting together more fotoz galleries, and have a bunch of new ones to present.  I’m up to halfway thru our Italy trip, which is Rome and Naples.  I usually try to get the year’s fotoz galleries done by the first day of spring, but last year was our biggest travel year by far, so there’s still a ways to go.  We’ll see if I make it.


Fotoz 2023, Part 1

Well it’s that time of year again, when winter is over but spring has not yet begun.  It’s been in the 40’s and rainy pretty much every day the last couple of weeks.  We’re vaguely holding on to hope for one last ski trip, but they got rain in the places nearby. We’d have to go way up to Vermont or the Adirondacks, which would mean an overnight trip.  I guess we’ll see. 

Meanwhile, following on from migrating the web site, and continuing with incremental updates, I’ve been working doing a new batch of photo galleries.  2023 was an epic year of travel and adventure.  I’m up the the halfway point of the year and have completed five galleries, including our trip to Bogota.  I’m midway thru our trip to Italy at the end of July, but there’s tons of pics to go thru.  So look for an update on that coming soon.


The galleries remain password protected. Please contact me if you need credentials.


After what feels like and endless amount of effort, I’ve finally migrated my web site to a new host.  The site had outgrown its old host, and the hosting company was absolutely terrible with their costumer service and trying guide me to an upgraded tier of hosting, so it was time to move on.

Ideally, everything would appear and function as it did before.  But I was in the middle of doing some upgrades to various parts of the site and some things have gotten out of sync, so if you click around you may find the occasional broken link or missing image.  I hope to rectify this soon.

The major area of concern right now it this blog.  You may notice the its styling has changed.  Not that it was particularly beautiful before, but at least it matched the rest of the site.  I was able to migrate the blog content, but it had been using a customized version of a very old theme and I was not able to migrate that.  So I picked something in the ballpark, and will have to do some new customization it.  Plus whatever widgets and config setting need to be brought up to date.  Then it’s reviewing all the old posts to make sure the links and media are correct there.  Hope it doesn’t take too long.

I’ve also begun putting together foto galleries for 2023, as is my habit in late winter.  2023 was a huge year for travel, with three major airplane trips and lots of other stuff.  I’m halfway thru the year, up to our big trip to Italy last July, which will be a bunch of galleries by itself.  So watch this space for updates coming soon.

Meanwhile, it seems winter is over by spring has not yet begun.  We got one more ski trip in the last weekend of February, but conditions were not great and the mountain was crowded with kids on winter break skiing in all random directions.  One cut me off at the bottom of a run and I had to swerve to avoid running him over, and ended up falling.  Ugh.  After that the weather turned warm and rainy, so unless we get a major late-season snowstorm, it looks like we’ll have to wait for it to turn nice enough to start biking and doing things outside.

High Speed on Ice

The lift to our mood wore off after a few days after returning from our trip to the warm and sunny climes, and I was feeling really ready to be done with winter.  Then last Tuesday we got six inches of snow at home and started leaning into winter.  We decided to do a mini-vacation trip upstate.  It began with a day of skiing at Gore mountain in the Adirondacks.  Jeannie and I drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel in Lake George.  On the drive up we listened to the Queen album Live Killers, which I don’t think I ever listened to the whole way thru before, and is totally amazing.  Unfortunately, the weather turned snowy and slippery the further north we got, so I couldn’t listen as closely as I’d have liked.

It was an amazing day of skiing.  The morning was just perfect, with fresh snow on a well-groomed base, and a gentle snow falling on off throughout the day.  Probably some of the best skiing I’ve had in years.  And because it was a Friday, the mountain was alot less crowded than last time we were there.  We skied the first half of the day on the North Slope, with long beautiful trails winding thru the trees.  Unfortunately, it began to get windy, and some trip up the lift were a little unpleasant.  We skied all the way down to the base then went up to the summit via the gondola, another trail and another lift.  The top was kinda windy and icy, but once we got partway down the skiing was great again.  We ended up the day on another part of the mountain with mainly blue and green trails, because we were getting too tired for the big hills but wanted to keep on going.  Jeannie had a ski tracking app, and we skied over 10 miles in 12 runs, meaning the average run was close to a mile, and some a good deal longer.

That night we drove up to the high peaks area to visit our good friends Mark and Kelly. Saturday we went ice staking in the speed skating oval at the Olympic Village in Lake Placid.  It was a beautiful experience, skating outdoors surrounded by mountains.  The track is a quarter mile around, and Jeannie did 14 laps and I did 18.  That’s three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half miles respectively.  Needless to say, after all this our legs were pretty tired.  Afterwards we went to a bar for poutine and cocktails, then walked around Lake Placid.  Out on Mirror lake, there was tobogganing, dogsleds, ice skating and several hockey games going on.  Fun scene. 

Spent alot of time just talking and hanging out.  Mark showed me his new guitar effects setup, but didn’t get around to playing it.  On the way home Sunday, we stopped by Martin’s house for a visit.  Spent our time there just talking and hanging out too.  Martin showed me his new custom-made combination guitar/sax/sheet music/stage monitor stand.  Got home late last night, and today we were all tired out.  Now back to work, but hoping to get a couple more ski trips in before the end of the winter.

Work and Playa

Been trying to get thru the winter.  The snow we had earlier all melted and it reverted to grey and gloomy.  In the years we’ve had solar power, we never generated less electricity than this last January, and it was an extra long month, with five Mondays.  At least we’re supposed to get snow again tonight, so hopefully that means more skiing soon.

The last week of January I went into the city several times for work.  One day it was a field trip to the Spy Museum in Manhattan, which was fun and somewhat germane to our group, as there was cool exhibits on cryptography, the early development of computers, and various modern privacy and security issues.  Plus a James Bond car!  Afterwards we went out a bar to say goodbye to our colleague Chris who is leaving us to work on privacy at Google.  In the conversation I learned that ten out of twelve people care and know more about Star Wars than the Roman Empire.  Strange times we live in.  The next day was an all-day planning, strategy and team-building session in a space down near Union Square.  Lots of fun but exhausting by the end.  

Then on Saturday Jeannie and I took off for a winter getaway down to Cancún, Mexico.  Compared to the last few trips we’ve taken, this one was pretty mellow, and mainly involved a circuit between the beach, the bar, the pool and various restaurants.  We stayed at a resort hotel right on the beach, in a place called the Hotel Zone.  They upgraded our room, a mini-suite with a little sitting area looking out over ocean, to one on the corner so the view was more than 180 degrees.  We ended up ordering breakfast in the room most every day so we could enjoy it.  The middle day of the trip we took a tour to Chichén Itzá, former site of an ancient Mayan city and now home to a complex of ruins that include the famous stepped pyramid, one of the seven wonders of the world.  Also, I must say we’ve now had ten flights in the last year and half, free of any hassles, delays or complications.  The more our luck holds, the more my general anxiety about airports and flying is reduced.  

On the plane I read a book called The Swerve, which was about a particular book from ancient Rome, and the circumstances under which it was written, lost, rediscovered in the 14th century, copied and entered a place of influence in Renaissance thought and subsequently into the modern, scientific age.  The book, On the Nature of Things, was an epic poem that espoused a worldview of rationalism, apathetic gods, mind-body unity, the goal of seeking pleasure in life rather than suffering, atomic theory, evolution by natural selection, and a bunch of other ideas heretical to the medieval church.  Sounds like the kind of thing Neil Peart might have written, but in Latin

This is actually the third book I’ve read this year that cuts thru the Renaissance.  The first one focused mainly on art and architecture, and masters of the era in that realm, particularly in Florence and Rome.  The second one was about Columbus, Cabot and Vespucci, the circumstances that gave rise to their epic voyages of discovery, and their immediate consequences in the new world and the old.  All of these stories are connected, and it’s interesting too see how different writers pull together threads from all the things going on to craft a journey about a specific thing.  Next I want to find a book on the Copernican revolution and its antecedents.  In the explorers book, there was a bit on Vespucci crossing the equator and naming the constellation the Southern Cross.  The North Star had disappeared, and the sky was spinning the opposite way.  It must have been a mind-blowing realization that the Earth was indeed a sphere, and not just that but a sphere floating in space.  As a complement to all this, I’ve also been reading the Discworld series.  I can’t believe it took me all these years to get turned on it it.  Great fun!

One night at the resort, the Freddy Mercury biopic movie was on TV.  Since I’ve been home I’ve been doing a deep dive into Queen’s music.  They’re a band I’ve always admired, and I own three of their albums, but they have quite a few I’ve never listened to the whole way thru.  It’s just amazing the depth of their talent.  Freddy Mercury was a great rock piano player, and Brian May and Roger Taylor were great singers, in addition to being widely regard as among the greatest of all time at their main role in the group. Everyone in the band was a great songwriter and they all played multiple instruments.  They wrote and played in so many styles, yet pulled it all together into a unified sound.  Plus, they really pushed the expressive limits of what you could do with the electronics and studio technology of the day.  Every album is very solid, really imaginative and enjoyable, and contains at least one or two all-time smash hits.  I’ve gotten up to News of the World, which is about the midpoint of their discography.