Old Daily Shows--June 2002

Find the archive of past entries at archive.htm. Today's entry is at daily.htm.

Saturday June 1, 2002 Passat

So much time driving and in cars today, but Dad has the new leased Passat wagon, and it is beautiful. My CD (of me and Susie, a demo CD) is done, I have a German dictionary and a copy of Marc Drogin's book on medieval calligraphy, Elizabeth is coming tomorrow, I'm doing laundry, and it's time for bed.

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Sunday June 2, 2002 Eliz

Eliz is here! Yay Eliz!

Just before bed, we made hot cocoa, and I took her outside to see the stars in the darkness of northern New York. It was just a little bit cold, and so beautiful. The sky was bright even while dark, and the trees to the sides of the yard were black-blue. One of them reminded me of a picture of nebulae that I've seen in various astronomical articles. Rabi would know which one--I'm content, mostly, just to have enjoyed what I saw.

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Monday June 3, 2002 Greek pizza

This evening, I made Greek pizza, with able assistance from Eliz and my mom, and it was good. Yay! And then we watched The American President whilst eating mangoes, and all was good.

Tomorrow is another day.

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Friday June 7, 2002 Another goodbye

And Eliz has come and soon will be gone, off to the southlands of Rochester even as I drive east across Lake Champlain and Vermont to go to Lancaster, NH, where I'm playing with Susie and Viveka this weekend. Leaving is so hard, sometimes.

But we'll be back, and this will be fine. Just fine. Until Sunday, my friends, I am out of communication, so worry not. Be well, and of good cheer. Miss you.

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Sunday June 9, 2002 The Tobins of Lancaster

With seven hours on the road today, I return from the Northern Kingdom of Vermont and New Hampshire, having played a really great dance with some fantastic people, and done a darn good job. The Tobins, who run this dance, are an absolute trip, and are great fun. I got to teach an impromptu flute lesson last night, and this morning we had a session with lots of good tunes. I hosted a pipe band which consisted of me on Highland pipes, Viv on bodhran, and Andrew on tuba. It was brilliant.

Dancers who have fun and are nice to each other. Who would have thought? Liam, who's a wonderfully cute three-year-old, came up and watched us as we played, and was most intrigued by the sounds we made. He liked it when his dad played harp for everyone. On one dance, the Loon Mountain Reel, I gave loon calls into the microphone, and everyone on the dance floor did loon wings in the dance. It was great.

Today, having dropped Susie off at the Burlington airport and been guided hame by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Hanneke Cassel, I arrived home, where my parents were making amazing food. We went out for ice cream cones later. The first ice cream cone of a summer always marks some sort of a changing-over, a still point in an ongoing revolution. This one came in shorts and a T-shirt in the 63 degree air, with a soft ice cream twist held inside a sugar cone. Summer.

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Monday June 10, 2002 Publicist

After a while of work, some more of the publicity work for the concert is done. The data are submitted to the local public radio station's community calendar, and I spent much of the evening making MP3s, rejecting them, and re-encoding them. For those who are curious, you can (for a little while at least) listen to Susie and me in MP3 format here at the SCCS. If Irish polkas are your thing, here's my set of Riding On A Load Of Hay/Jack The Bridge/Salmon Tailing Up The River, and if you prefer a slower jig, have a listen to Donegal Lasses, which is one of our favorites.

I made tomato sauce tonight, with a bit of bitter chocolate in it, and I think it was a good addition. I never would have thought of such a thing, but I read in Seasoning Savvy that bitter chocolate goes well in tomato-based sauces, and so I thought I'd try it. Guess what... it does. Yum. I like cooking.

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Wednesday June 12, 2002 Why I love the music

I guess you could say that I've been wrestling with some weird form of writer's block. Maybe it's the normal form, and I just don't know the proper definition of the term. I keep sitting down to write things for the DS, and nothing comes out. I want to write, sure, but there just aren't words, and I just don't know what to do about it. Sometimes I sit, and there are words this time, but it just doesn't seem worth the effort, not because something has changed, but because it just isn't worth the time that day.

In some ways, this bothers me. There are so many stories left to be told, it seems a shame to lose them simply because I was too tired to write about them on the day they happened. Anyone who keeps a journal and has a short-term memory as short-term as mine knows that, if you put something off for even a day, the chances of its surviving into type go so far down as to be laughable.

So it's hard to talk about what it feels like to play Québecois dance music in an ancient, moderately decrepit hall in Lancaster, NH. When we got there, the people who'd rented the hall had only just arrived, and had found that their lessors hadn't done anything to prepare the hall, like mopping the floors. Absolutely covered in dust. Good-natured as anyone I know, Gerry (she's the Scottish grandmother who runs things) set about getting everything put aright, as Susie and Viveka and I practiced tunesets with the somewhat out-of-tune piano. It's a really nice hall--very live sound, and flute and pipes sound fabulous in there.

Our opening set was for the reel De'il Amang The Tailors (with various possible spelling variations), for which we played the title tune and a pair of Québecois tunes Viv had taught us the night before. De'il Amang... is a hard tune for me to play--it works fine on bagpipes, but I still haven't got it on whistle or flute, even after almost two years of trying. It is one of the abiding frustrations in the repertoire, for me. I'm a competent fake, on that one at least: I can invent melodies just fine, so what I play usually sounds quite musical and occasionally, even sounds inspired, but deep inside, where the dancers never look, I know I'm not playing it right, and am chastened.

But then we flew into Old French, a modulating reel Viv taught us, and how can I tell you how wonderful it felt to hold my new Scottish flute strong and light in my hands, and blow notes easily through the flute out into the room for the dancers? That set was fine music, and everyone in the room knew it. I remember feeling what a change it was from my old flute to play this one, a beautiful instrument that knows it's better than I am and isn't ready to reveal all its charms just yet. We took its low D out for a spin, though, in this tune, and what words can express the way it felt almost like a jackhammer in my hands, full of life and music and my breath? For a minute there, I could have conquered the world with the flute in hand and the rhythm ticking along in my body.

I guess it's something you have to experience, really. I wouldn't have understood it from reading that paragraph, either. There really is something to this Scottish music, though. I'm sure of it. I'm doing a radio interview on Friday, and aside from the fact that my pipes are screwed-up from band practice last night, when I had to replace all the reeds (because of which the interview now terrifies me), I don't know exactly what to say. Talking today with the guy who's going to interview me, he asked me to think about what makes this music worthwhile. My mother asked the same question--what speaks to me in this music?

I realize that I have not a clue, because it's not a conversation for words and ears. It's a conversation for voices and fiddles and flutes and pianos and feet and bodies and wind and skies and ferry boats crossing Lake Champlain with the spray from a windy day blowing me backwards. It's a conversation for sunsets at the homes of new friends and old, dignified attire and grungy shorts, formal occasions and new kittens mewling over your feet. I love this music because it helps me with the times, so many of them, when the words just aren't good enough. I play bagpipes and Scottish music because not doing so means depriving part of my heart of what it needs.

None of that sounds really sexy on the radio. Sure, there are stories--about the bagpiper I heard when I was one and a half, and how I thought that he (out of sight, while tuning) was actually the Doggie (stuffed buffalo head) I saw over the main door of that room in an Adirondack Great Camp; about how I wrote a piece for the PTA Reflections contest, in Irish style, that won awards at the state level, despite not having learnt any Irish music, ever; about Pinewoods last year and northern Scotland this winter and New Hampshire last weekend, but what do they matter if you weren't a part of them already? I am at a loss for how to explain to others something that is so basic to my life as to be inseparable.

Planxty's Words and Music is on in the background, Liam O'Flynn's uilleann pipes blending into my mood. I know this tune, though I couldn't tell you its name, nor could I sing it for you straight, probably, but I know it like I know the rest of this album, so many other albums too, all part of the love for music that my parents helped me develop.

Today, Elizabeth made soup based on my recipe, and told me about it. She hadn't liked soup before she met me, and she learned to make it through watching me. I was so... again, words fail, when she told me. Joyful, maybe, or something. I think the feeling I got is one of the reasons people decide to teach. It's worth sharing things you care about.

And that, more than anything else, is why I'll go see Todd Moe on Friday morning, and I'll bring my bagpipes, and whatever happens will happen. I'm not the best bagpiper around--I'm still a student, and not an advanced one, at that. I can name so many people who are better pipers than I am, and lots who know the Scottish repertoire better than I do, and that's just not the point here. I'm the world expert on what this stuff means to me, and if I can get anyone else to care about it just by talking, I will have done what was asked of me. To music, then.

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Thursday June 13, 2002 Goodbye

Goodbye, Eliz. Have a wonderful time in Finland, and come home safely. I love you.

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Saturday June 15, 2002 Live music

This evening, we went with Terry and Dale to Murray's Old Irish Inn in Waddington, for to hear Richard Hayes Phillips playing Celtic music. We thought it was a concert-sort-of-thing, but in fact he plays each week there, and it just happened to be advertised in the local radio station's community calendar. It was pretty cool, and the food was excellent.

I found myself feeling sad afterwards, thinking about the life of a musician. Can't be easy to live the way it seems a lot of them do. I don't know.

Incidentally, I was at the radio station on Friday, to record an interview with Todd Moe. I talked up the concert Susie and I are doing, chatted about bagpipes, and discursed upon the worthy subject of Scottish music. Let us pray that I managed not to sound like an idiot. Still, it should be fun when it comes out. For the moment, you can read about Susie and me from the main page, or from the Traditional section of the online Concert Hall. Cool beans!

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Sunday June 16, 2002 Peanut butter cookies

Twenty-one years, 139 days, and about 21 hours ago, I was born.

I was going to talk about how my mother and I stayed up talking about stories from that time, some of which I hadn't heard. I learned some interesting things about lay baptisms that I hadn't known, and a little research on the internet tells me more. One, a Catholic site, tells all about how to do it, and then at the end talks about when not to do a baptism. It saddens me to read that, according to the author of the page, all children are bound for hell unless they are baptised and raised Catholic. Maybe I'm misinterpreting. I don't know.

I made peanut butter cookies, and we chatted, and it was nice. Before that, for Father's Day, we made German potato salad and Wiener schnitzel. Should that be Wiener Schnitzel? or wiener Schnitzel? Or Wienerschnitzel? I don't have a clue. But it was good anyway, even if I'm not sure what to call it. After, Dad and I watched In The Line of Fire. Cheezy Clint Eastwood mmm mmm good!

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Monday June 17, 2002 Remembering

A few days ago, Nori posted some Joni Mitchell lyrics, from the song "Carey", originally from her Blue album. She writes about an easy year or so, and talks of loving food and friends and language and music.

That's really a big part of it all, isn't it? Food, friends, language, and music. I suppose I should have something suitably pithy and insightful to say about that, but it just won't come, and maybe that's the way this is supposed to work. I guess this is the annual not-sure-what-to-think-about-anything-and-not-having-much-to-say-about-it phase. Long live the phase, let's hope it dies soon.

and we'll laugh and toast to nothing
and smash our empty glasses down

Well, my easy year ago, I would have recognized the song, maybe; it's certainly one my parents used to play at home, and probably even sang to me at various points. I certainly wouldn't have known the lyrics or the singer, and the song wouldn't have anything like its current level of embedded content. Strange that songs can have such different emotional effects depending on what part of them you quote... this isn't exactly a happy song, but the memories of it are happy ones.

Saturdays, or Sundays, it didn't much matter, we would both sleep late, letting the pressure of never-ending Swarthmorean work slide for a little while as sleep replaced it. Eventually, we'd both get up, of course, and weekends were our time for cooking together, and so we would eschew Sharples and its planned menu and make food for ourselves.

After a time, we feel into an easy rhythm of potato pancakes, or latkes, depending on which version we were making, and how we felt. We met in the breakfast room kitchen in ML, me carrying my tower of cooking gear, she carrying potatoes and oil and some spices and various other things. The Moulinex grater my parents gave me, originally made in France but purchased in Potsdam, nearly identical to the one that's lived in the second drawer in our kitchen for as long as I can remember having memories of such things, shredded our potatoes. Never peeled, those potatoes. Washed carefully, religiously blinded (as potatoes with eyes are simply unacceptable for polatkes), those potatoes were spell components for a kindly, small magic.

Eventually we realized that two plates were really a useless excess, as we always devoured the latkes as quickly as they left my frying pan. The problem with potato pancakes is that they take forever to cook, especially when you're really hungry and they smell really good. So we danced, and sang, and laughed a lot. That's the other thing Eliz usually brought: music for the CD player.

And so, my strongest memory of "Carey" is of Elizabeth one afternoon, hair bound up and wearing a bathrobe (I think with an apron over it), singing and dancing barefoot in the breakfast room kitchen while potatoes fried and I listened. There was sunlight that day, I remember, and it was late enough that it hit her through the windows at one of the room as she twirled happily, singing.

There will be more potato pancakes, I know, and for now I'm glad to remember the old ones, glad to think of how happy they made us. Perhaps I'm just a boring pseudo-writer sitting here late at night and missing his girlfriend; perhaps not. It's strange, though. I just wrote a fair bit about that. It seems I'm not lacking for things about which to write, after all--finding them is the trick.

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Thursday June 20, 2002 Leaving again

Tomorrow, we drive south at a very early hour, first to Syracuse for modifications to the car, and thence to Addison, for my ncle Ralph's memorial service. I will consequently be out of typeshot until Sunday evening, so I'll miss you all lots, and see you soon.

Danny, try mixing a little chile into your sauce. Mince it fine, and leave the seeds in for a spicy treat! Elisabeth, I still need to forward you my silly and pretentious Ed14 paper with recipes. Alas! I will try to remember when I get back. Cheers, all!

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Monday June 24, 2002 Stuf

Today, it's my mother's birthday, and so I hope you'll all join with me in wishing her a happy birthday!

This morning, as we were headed out to work, I saw the female bluebird flying quickly from one of the nest boxes across our yard to the apple trees. She was nearly invisible in them, but I had tracked her flight, and saw her nonetheless.A very pretty bird.

I'm now reading Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach, which fact should please at least one of my readers rather a great deal. It's a very hard book to follow--or rather, I'm trying not to follow it, but to expect it, to think so much about the data he presents that I anticipate their resolution. Wonderful thus far, if occasionally a bit pretentious. I look forward to more.

I talked to her, on the phone. All the way from Finland. We spoke.

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Tuesday June 25, 2002 Development and strangeness

Last night, I dreamed of Lyra Belacqua, and thought I haven't read the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass, I knew her story then, although I no longer remember it now. Later in the dream sequence, just before I awoke, I was in a car driven by Tommy Lee Jones, who was in the back seat. He reached around to strangle me with a garotte wire, and I remember knowing that it would be okay, that I was going to be able to make him stop, but before it happened, I awoke.

I wonder if I'm in some sort of development stage where humans are obsessed with patterns of occurrence. So many interests boil down to finding patterns among different things. Gödel, Escher, Bach (hereafter likely GEB, in the interest of saving space) is one thing; Joseph Campbell is another. Calligraphy, formal study of Scottish music, telephone counseling... all these things depend on pattern recognition, and it seems especially cool to me right now.

At lunch, we talked about Myers-Briggs and Keirsey temperament sorting, and I got to wondering about another pattern while my mind was unoccupied on the drive up to Canada for bagpipe practice. In high school, I took the Keirsey personality test, and my score (result? answer? sort? pick a term) ranged all over the place, putting me in five or six different personality groups. Since coming to Swarthmore, I've taken the test many times, and every single time since going to college, I've been INFP. Sure, some of the others have high percentages, but every time, the averages come out in the INFP camp. I wondered... does this measure some sort of life event akin to the fixing of one's daemon? Who knows.... Time for bed.

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Wednesday June 26, 2002 Preparatory

Susie's here, and preparations for the concert have begun in earnest.

Elizabeth's home safely!

Life is pretty good.

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Sunday June 30, 2002 Hollis meme

Following Joy's meme about Google searching for "name is", here are some of mine:

  • Hollis is located by the east side of Prince of Wales Island.
  • Hollis is the first womean to have served as president of the Federal Energy Bar Association.
  • In Earth years, Hollis is six
  • The population of Hollis is approximately 3,000.
  • Hollis is located in South Western Maine in York County.
  • Hollis is available for use by current Harvard students, faculty, and staff.
  • Dr. Hollis is a member of the American Physical Society and a Senior Member of IEEE.
  • The average January temperature in Hollis is 44 degrees Fahrenheit with a July temperature average of 82 degrees.
  • Hollis is able to show you his speed and make you respect it.
  • Hollis is a hard-working businessman.
  • Hollis is not glamorous.
  • Hollis is FREE to children who are residents of the County of Oswego.
  • Hollis is like that, too. He's cold-blooded.
  • Hollis is the library portal to a wide variety of Web-based information sources.
  • Hollis is the definitive directory of associations and organizations representing the interests of specific groups, sectors, memberships, or causes.
  • Hollis is planning the release of his very first CD sometime in 1999, Hollis says, "I got something I want to say."
  • But Hollis is not the kind of musician interested that kind of cheap self-publicity.
  • Update 8/4/99 - Hollis is now up over the 110 pound mark!
  • Hollis is a modern Job.
  • Hollis is a Benefits Consultant and the newest addition to the Hollis Companies.
  • Hollis is forced to draw her weapon.
  • Hollis is the fruit of years of Hollis' experimenting with sounds, learning notation and trying out new musicians.
  • Hollis is a certified Radical Forgiveness Coach intern from the Institute for Radical Forgiveness Therapy and Coaching
  • Hollis is a good place to start a company.
  • Hollis is too valuable for us just by his presence.
  • Hollis is a picture-perfect example of the New England small town.
  • Hollis is brave, powerful, and very much attached to life.
  • Hollis is highly skilled in capturing real life situations.

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