Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Kindle Lover Unboxes a Nook

Len Edgerly, host of the great The Kindle Chronicles podcast, unboxes the somewhat unfortunately named Barnes and Noble "Nook." I was at a local B&N over the weekend, and they had a little booth set up directly inside the entrance with two people eager to tell you all about the Nook, even though all they had to offer the curious were two mock-ups.

"We'll have it in the store on Monday," said one of the demo people.

"To buy?" I asked.

"No," he answered. "Just to show."

I like the idea of the Nook, especially the thought of cruising into a B&N with Nook in hand and browsing through books.  And the Nook touch interface looks a lot more elegant and iTouchish than the Kindle.  But, having said that, I'm a scarred enough technophile to be wary of early adoption of anything.  All-in-all, everything I've read or heard indicates that a Kindle 2 is a more realistic eReader choice than a Nook at this stage of the game... especially if you're hoping Santa might put one in your stocking.  But the eREader wars are heating up, and that's likely a good thing for consumers.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

fhb is back. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Many Goodbyes

As you've probably gathered, I don't update fhb all that much anymore (I think once every five months would qualify as "not all that much"). I'm still writing regularly over at Dreamtime, which better suits my interests at the moment.

Of course I have the issue that Bob Dylan has apparently ended Theme Time Radio Hour with the "Goodbye" show, but I still have a few more Dreamtime posts, maybe even a podcast or two, and some other plans.

It's not turning out to be a good year for radio shows we like, as today we heard the news that Jeff Turton's long-running Jazz Brunch has ended after 26 years on WFNX, which parallels the time that Peggy and I have been together. We started listening to the Jazz Brunch shortly after Peggy moved in with me during that brief (but enjoyable) period we were living together in sin. We listened to the Jazz Brunch after we married; after a move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire; after we bought our first home, a condo, and then after we bought our first house and home, the one I'm writing in today and where we heard Jeff's announcement.

A lot of Sundays. We went to see Jeff and have brunch when he was doing the live Jazz Brunches in Cambridge. We bought a lot of wonderful wine thanks to Howie Rubin at Bauer Wine's recommendations. I even went to Bauer Wine after missing Howie's regular appearances on the show. "How come you don't do Jazz Brunch anymore?" I asked. "Because they won't pay me," he answered.

We listened to Jeff's son Ben grow up over the years through his annual appearances. We learned how much Jeff hated winter and Christmas music, especially jazz Christmas music. We ate at the East Coast Grill in Cambridge because we heard about it on the Jazz Brunch. Jeff introduced us to more artists and their music than I can name now, but included Debra Henson-Conant, Madeline Peyroux, Nancy Wilson's Guess Who I Saw Today, and Sarah Vaughan's Just A Little Lovin' to acknowledge a few singers and songs we first heard on the Jazz Brunch. I spent years tracking both Wilson's and Vaughn's cuts down, and in fact only found the album containing the live version of Guess Who I Saw Today last October in San Francisco, triumphantly bringing it home to Peggy after 20-odd years of looking for it. Jeff Turton is probably directly responsible for several hundred dollars worth of CDs residing on my shelves.

In other words, Jeff Turton and the Jazz Brunch have been a big part of our lives as long as we've been together. It was evident that the end was nearing. Jeff's on-air time was cut from six hours - from 6 a.m. to noon - down to four a couple of years ago, the Jazz Brunch apparently only remaining on at all because WFNX's owner liked jazz. In the past year Peggy and I started looking for other alternatives to listen to on Sundays as Jeff fiddled with the programming to try to attract a more contemporary audience. Instead, I think he probably alienated his core listeners, like us. There are only so many jazz covers of pop tunes or weird "world music" you can listen to until you start longing for some straight-ahead Thelonius Monk or Abby Lincoln, which had all but disappeared on the Jazz Brunch in recent months.

But we still checked it out regularly, hoping that we'd hear the older programming that had made us Jazz Brunch fans, and we were listening to it today, and were at least happy to be there at the end, as we were at the beginning. We'll miss the Jazz Brunch, and Jeff Turton. Jeff you have our thanks for being part of our Sundays over the last 26 years.

As you get older, you find that few changes are good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And Daily Deer

And, continuing the Double-D theme of the day, here's a pic of "Daily Deer," so named because of his habit of showing up almost every day and grazing on fallen bird seeds, as well as our yews, which I wish he wouldn't.

But, I have a soft spot for DD, because he's got a bum hind leg. We first thought he had dislocated it, or had been hit by a car, but have now concluded it's a birth defect. He gets along quite well on three, thank you very much, even through the snow.

On the other hand, he looks like he's expending a lot of energy doing with three legs what other deers do with four, so I put out a feed block for him (you can see it behind DD), and he seems to be enjoying chawing on that. After consulting with our vet, I've now also expanded the DD menu to apples, carrots, and a hay bale and Peggy has taken to calling me "Farmer John."

DD may have put out the word that I'm a soft touch, as a few days ago, a posse of four new deers, including a Fall fawn, showed up behind him. Although DD is too slow-moving to keep up with them, they all seemed used to hanging out together, and I suspect they all share some bedding place in the woods behind us.

I dithered about "nature taking its course" and all that, but again, after a frank discussion with our vet, who I trust, we figured that as long as DD nether looked like he was suffering or starving I'd at least give him a fighting chance. As the vet said, if he can make it through the Winter, the chances are he'll do fine come Spring. Interestingly, she says deers with only three good legs are quite usual, and many of them live a deer's normal allotted time.

And, I have this nagging thought that DD is a sign to an often-morose Farmer John that " you have to farm in the weather you are given, you can't be waiting for the sun to shine."

Live long and prosper, DD.

Demolition Days

For those asking for news of how bad the flooding in our basement was... it was this bad. Or more accurately, this was the aftermath.

About the only thing that we didn't have to take down was the ceiling, but at that point it seemed ridiculous to renovate the basement office and leave the funky, old, ill-lit, mouse-infested ceiling in. So it went too.

As did the dark, old, `60s-era wall paneling, pleasing Peggy to no end. We found that the walls had been incorrectly studded and most of the paneling wasn't anchored to anything. Hence the reason behind the walls bulging out from the pressure of the water behind them.

As did all the insulation , which was still soaked six inches up after three weeks. We were going to cut the wet insulation out, saving what we could, but the insulation was so inefficient compared to modern standards that we had it all pulled.

As did all the studding. We were going to add new wall studding in, but found that the floor studs - after repeated soaking over the years, were sodden, rotted so badly that they were crumbling, and covered with black mold. So we pulled it all out.

The rug, an indoor/outdoor, has been pulled, but is salvageable.  The pad wasn't.  We probably won't replace the pad - "once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."

 I lost about 30 years of books, happily not all of them.  Mostly the paperbacks.  Peggy lost Christmas decorations, books, boxes of memories. Probably other things that we won't know about until we try to find them.

Yes, we know, We appreciate the sentiment.  We're getting over it. 

What was the finished basement is now an empty shell.  Actually, it isn't an empty shell.  As I write this, new studding and wallboard have arrived and are being loaded downstairs.

As that frosty poet, Robert Frost, once said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life: It goes on."

And it does.  And so will we.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Into `09

I have a semi-policy not to talk problems on fhb, mostly because I could easily turn the blog into a forum about nothing except my problems.  Occasionally, like we all do I run into a string of bad luck where there seems to be nothing to talk about except problems... and that's been pretty much true since mid-October, and is partially the reason I stopped blogging at fhb.

But y'know, writing that brings to light that the statement isn't entirely true.  Yeah, we've had some tough times in recent months, and we're not out of the woods yet.

But up to October, it was a pretty good year, although the last three months overshadowed the preceding nine.  But we had a great trip up at my ancestral watering hole in Moosehead Lake, Maine. 

I did some work - both for clients and for myself - that were as good as anything I've ever done, and of which I'm still exceedingly proud.

We had one of the best Thanksgivings ever with our family.  Thanks to their generosity, we also have access to a beautiful house on Martha's Vineyard whenever we want it.

Dreamtime continues to keep me sane and whole.

I have two cats who love me unconditionally, because they don't know any better. 

And I have Peggy - who certainly does know better, but who still loves me, too.

I'm not sure at this point how much I'll continue blogging at fhb, although the fact that I wrote the word "continue" without thinking about it indicates to me that I'm not quite ready to shut it down altogether.  As I've said, most of my writing is over at Dreamtime now, and posts here will probably continue to be sporadic at best.

But 2008 is over. Let's see what 2009 brings.