Categories
Family Technology

MacBook Pro – I Will Not Gush.

A 17" Apple MacBook Pro
Image via Wikipedia

I will not gush. I will not gush. Though I’ve been a Mac user for 15-years at work, this is the first Mac that I’ve purchased personally. It is hard to believe that this move has finally happened. When I noticed our family Dell laptop starting to lose life, and I’d been using the work MacBook a bit more frequently, it seemed time to give the Mac a closer look for the family computer replacement. The other thing that played a key role in the decision is my transition to cloud computing. My email and all my files are happily living in the cloud.

When decision time came, it became a choice between the iMac, the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro. Since this will be our primary family computer and also serve as our “television” when we watch DVDs, we wanted something that would last and meet those needs. The iMac was a brief consideration but we opted not to get it because we need flexability to move the computer around the house and the office. The primary difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro is about 2″ of screen real estate, a faster video card, and some extra ports. Oh, and $400. Even that isn’t 100% correct because the Apple Care will cost you more on the Pro version too. Nonetheless, we decided on the Pro because we really wanted the larger screen. We made two visits to the San Francisco Apple Store and finally made the purchase at the San Luis Obispo Apple Store.

Categories
music

Cultivating Music in 2009

Rocco DeLuca and the Burden
Rocco DeLuca and the Burden

The last two months have  been a boon for my musical collection. Typically I purchase quite a bit of music in a year, but for some reason I have added twelve new pieces to my collection in the last two months and I’d like to share my thoughts on 11 of those releases.

In addition to playing my iPod at my desk, I also have a 45-minute commute each direction, which provides plenty of opportunity to listen to music. My musical tastes vary considerably and I hear about music from a few key friends, listening to KEXP, and reading the linear notes of my existing collection. Take for example the new release by Rocco DeLuca and the Burden. Though I’ve heard of him, and almost went to see him last year, the motivational factor on this purchase was that Daniel Lanois produced Mercy. Dan is one of my top artists and producers, so I usually grab anything related to him. Once again, this is not a disappointment. A great blues release with subtle lyrics and an angelic voice. Clearly a unique sound on an old style. The “Lanois” sound does not come through too strong like it did on the Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, and U2 productions but if you listen closely then you can hear it. You won’t be disappointed.

Bon Iver
Bon Iver

Where was I last year when Bon Iver released For Emma Forever Ago? This is a truly fantastic lo-fi release that I heard on KEXP’s “Music That Matters” podcast. Recorded in a hunting cabin during the Wisconsin winter, guitar and voice blend together a stirring story and an enjoyable piece of music. It came out in mid-2008 and if you haven’t  heard this, you might find it of interest.

I’m still a fan of purchasing an entire release and listening to it from start to finish (and also usually purchase the physical media). After I become a little familiar with the music as it is presented by the artist, I can load it up on my iPod and create a shuffle playlist of all my new material. That’s where I’ve been the last week as I shuffle the songs from the eleven CDs. Here’s what else you’ll find:

Categories
Library Technology

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Librarians

I started writing this post on my iPhone, using the WordPress app; all the pictures were taken and uploaded from my iPhone. Since I’ve been using the iPhone (had a 1st generation and now 3G), I have been thrilled with the development of applications and it is easy to just start downloading anything and everything (especially the free apps). The idea here is to help focus the user on a few key apps that can support us as librarians. Of course, all can be used by anyone and most people will find these useful. Further, if you’ve had an iPhone for a while then you probably already use many of these apss. There are certain ones that I use constantly, and all of them are on this list.  A handful of apps that I use periodically didn’t make the cut this time round (Brightkite, 12seconds, Mint, Shazam) mainly because they were not specialized enough for a “librarian” list. I tried to select applications that would have the widest interest and usage in a typical librarian community, though a few have a more technologist/early adopter bent.  In addition the top ten apps for the iPhone, I’ve added two for the geeks out there and two that are web-based but might as well be iPhone apps.

Categories
Environment Library Ojai Technology

Twitter Dominated ALA Midwinter

The predominant player at ALA Midwinter Meeting, at least from my personal angle, was Twitter. Though I have been using Twitter for two years, I continue to find more useful applications for this free tool. It does seem that Twitter is reaching a more critical mass, based on the meeting tag (#alamw09) activity, and so there is more conversation on the feed. In fact, I picked up about 50 new followers just over the weekend. I see two positive outcomes from the heavy usage of Twitter at ALA.

First, it made for a more inclusive and broad environment for discussions to occur. On more than one occasion, meetings being held in person were enriched by tweets from afar. Bringing in those voices make ALA more open and accessible – especially for those who cannot attend. Secondly, since there are so many overlapping meetings The Twitter helped attendees to be at more than one meeting at once. So yes, you can be in two places at once. In the LITA Town Hall meeting I sat at a physical table with eight other folks. We decided to hold our conversation on Twitter so we could easily log the conversation. Two things happened: more people joined virtually and, when I had to leave, I could continue participating from the next location. This provided for rich content and open participation. Also, see LITA’s well known Top Technology Trends program as it unfolded on Twitter. 

Categories
Library

Is it cold in Denver? ALA Starts Friday.

denver_attendingHeading out to Denver first thing in the morning. The flight leaves from LAX at 6:00am and poor Leslie will have to drive me since I stopped riding. The weather may include snow, with temperatures in the 20s and 30s, so I’ll pack my jacket, gloves, and my touk. This is my 15th year as an ALA member and I’ve managed to pack my schedule with meetings, meetings, and more meetings. I keep telling Leslie that I’ll cut back on the ALA commitments, but haven’t managed to do so yet.

I’ll be staying at the Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast, a place keeping the environment in mind. Though it will cost me a bit more than the Holiday Inn, it does support the local business and green enterprises. Doing the right thing does cost more sometimes. The place isn’t super close to the convention center and other hotels, but I like to walk in cities and explore. Look for tweets or locations from Brightkite.

Here’s what my schedule looks like:

Categories
Family General music teaching

The End of a Love Affair

Kenley at Shasta

One of the toughest decisions of my life happened in the past two weeks when I decided to end my love affair with motorcycle riding. I’m almost crying as I write this and look at the included picture. I’ve been riding since age 14 when our family had a little Honda 50 for dirt riding (or in the back alley’s of Fresno). From there I moved to a Honda Passport, Kawasaki KZ750, and finally to a series of BMW motorcycles. In all it is about 25 years of riding and a quarter million miles on a bike.

Why is this ending? I have been a very lucky rider. In the five accidents, I have never broken a bone or been seriously injured. This includes almost 10 years of riding in San Francisco. In the last decade I have considered selling the bike a couple of times but have never gone through with it. This time my gut tells me it is time. Earlier this fall another rider with my age and experience spent a month in the hospital after being hit at an intersection I cross daily. We get a lot of bikes in Ojai due to our fantastic curves, so accidents and deaths are not uncommon. On January 10, 2009 a fellow rider, sangha connection, and friend was killed near his home in Malibu. Peter Kollock is only a little older than I and rides the same BMW model. That same weekend, there was a death in Ventura and another on Highway 33 above Ojai.

Categories
Buddhism General music teaching

Renewal and Taking Care of Yourself

The new year brings us the opportunity to reflect on the past and ponder the future. Our family spent two weeks at Deer Park Monastery with a six-day Holiday Retreat in the middle. The second day of the retreat I was honored when Thay Phap Hai asked me to participate in the planned dharma talk.  We did this talk with our friend Karen Hilsberg.

The Plum Village sangha has a practice called Beginning Anew that we used for the foundation of our talk, since the theme of the retreat was renewal. Rather than focusing on another person, as we typically do with this practice, the focus of attention was ourselves. Karen provided us with four meditations that we explored in the one-hour talk. Please enjoy the talk.

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Four Meditations for Self-Renewal

  1. Flower Watering/Sharing Appreciation. Looking deeply, I see many positive and wholesome qualities in myself such as…
  2. Benign Regrets. Looking deeply, I regret that I have caused myself pain through my thoughts, speech and actions in the following ways…
  3. Hurts and Difficulties. Looking deeply, I can understand my own hurts and difficulties with deep compassion and friendliness toward myself, without blame or criticism as follows…
  4. Challenges and Intentions for the Future. For the future, I anticipate the following challenges and intend to practice mindfully and skillfully in the following ways…

The key here is to be kind and honest with yourself. If you can’t listen here, you can download the talk.