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Sheldon Brown's Journal

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July 1, 2007

Film: (VHS from HBO) John Tucker Must Die Betty Thomas, 2006

A mildly diverting high-school comedy.

VCRs Extinct!

One of my VCRs croaked a couple of weeks back, started eating tapes. Today I tried to fix it, but no joy. I figured I could probably buy another one for not much more than a hundred bucks.

Much to my surprise, it turns out that they've gone extinct! I tried a couple of stores, but they don't have any. When I tried shopping sites on the Web, entering "VCR" into the search box sends you to a page of DVD players!

I use my VCRs mainly for time-shifting/commercial zapping. I guess most folks have switched over to TIVOs and the like, but I like having the tape and being able to play it in different rooms. Up until now I had 3 working VCRs, and there were times when all 3 were recording different shows at the same time...

July 3, 2007

Had a dream where I was riding in a train, or maybe a bus, and my old friend Cal Crawford appeared in a home-made helicopter. The 'copter was apparently based on an older fixed wing plane, maybe a DC-3, with the wings cut off short and a rotor attached to each of the wing stubs. He flew along beside the train or bus and we had a conversation through the open windows, can't recall what we were talking about, but it was nice to see Cal.

Film: (DVD) The Shield, Season 2

I've been enjoying this series which I missed the first time around. It's not Harriet's cup of tea, so I watched the entire second season on DVD while she has been out of town this past week.

July 4, 2007

Harriet's back from Nebraska and other midwestern locations, good to have her home again. We watched part of the Newton fireworks display from our front porch, but the trees mostly blocked the view. Usually we watch from in front of our driveway, but it was raining tonight and we didn't feel like getting wet.

July 5, 2007

Trying to connect with an MS support group. Talked to a guy who runs one in Newton, but they're off for the summer. Won't be a meeting until early September.

Had another fall , walking from the kitchen into the living room carrying my dinner. Landed on my face, mainly my left cheek. Also got a cut lip.

Tasha got my dinner.

This was the first time recently I've taken a major fall while alone at home. I have been particularly concerned about that due to the question of how I could ever get myself upright again without assistance.

As it turns out, I was able to roll over onto my back, then wriggle across to the foot of the stairs. Then I was able to hoist myself up onto a step, then a second step, and to get back on my feet. The first attempt failed as my belt got hung up on the edge of the bottom step...I was afraid I would have had to phone a neighbor for assistance, but after a bit of a rest, the second attempt was successful.

July 6, 2007

Film: (DVD) Finding Neverland Marc Foster, 2004

A fictionalized biopic of J.M.Barrie and the genesis of Peter Pan. I'm a sucker for period pieces like this, but it was a bit gloomy for my taste.

July 11, 2007

eBook: Roughing It Mark Twain, 1872

This was Twain's second book, following on the hilarious The Innocents Abroad. Like that book, it is more-or-less autobiographical, but also a travelogue. It starts in 1861, when Twain sets out for Nevada with his older brother, who has been appointed to a minor government post in the Silver boomtown of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode. The first third of the book deals with the stagecoach journey, and is downright hilarious. Later sections follow Twain in his feckless career as a prospector, then to Salt Lake City (with a major digression on Mormonism), Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, where he takes up a career in journalism with rather more success than his prospecting.

Then he goes farther west yet, to the "Sandwich Islands" (Hawaii.)

This is by-and-large a highly entertaining book, highly recommended.

Film: (DVD) Twice Upon a Yesterday María Ripoll, 1999

I was attracted to this by the blurb mentioning that it involved time travel, and by the "R" rating.

All and all, quite disappointing on both counts. Not recommended.

July 13, 2007

Film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phœnix 2007

The midnight opening last night was too late for us, but Harriet's a big Harry Potter fan, so we had to see this today.

I really couldn't follow the plot, partly because of being hard of hearing, partly because it's evidently quite's a 900 page book, I'm told.

It's a shame that they spend all this money on the film and can't get the exposure or light balance right. The film, at least the print I saw, was consistently underexposed, and had a pronounced blueish color cast. This may have been intentional for "emotional effect" but it loses its power when the entire film uses it.

Audiobook: Rise to Rebellion Jeff Shaara, 2001

When I picked this up, I thought it was by the author of The Killer Angels, but it turns out to be his son.

This is the first of two novelistic treatments of the American Revolution, and the format is very similar to his father (Michael Shaara's) work. The concluding volume is The Glorious Cause.

This volume takes us up from the Boston Massacre to the Declaration of Independence. Principal characters focussed on include John Adams, Samuel Adams, James Warren and, most particularly, Benjamin Franklin. I particularly enjoyed the Franklin chapters. I'm increasingly of the opinon that Franklin was the greatest human being that ever lived. (I'm actually working on an essay on this topic, which will eventually appear on this site.)

To pick a few nits, there were a few anachronistic turns of phrase, including "pregnant" "lynch" "pants" and someone altering course of a ship by "5 degrees." There was also the unlovely phrase "unable to do little else." However these are minor lapses, and I really did enjoy the book quite a lot. This unabridged version was expertly read by George Guidall.

July 14, 2007

My 63rd birthday, spent it quietly home alone, all of the family being off and away.

Film: (DVD) Spenser: Judas Goat 1994

This was from the old Spenser For Hire TV series, based on Robert B. Parker novels. I don't recall this episode, but I was a big fan of this series when it was being broadcast.

I ran across this DVD at the library and thought I would like to see how well it holds up. As it turns out, it holds up very well, mainly thanks to Parker's skill with bantering dialogue. I liked it a lot.

One surprising thing, the character "Hawk" seemed much less intimidating than I recall from the first run. This may be the result of now knowing Avery Brooks more for his rather more benevolent role as Benjamin Sisco in Star Trek Deep Space Nine (another of my favorite shows.)

July 15, 2007

Film: (DVD) Préparez vos Mouchiors (Get out your Hankderchiefs) Bertrand Blier, 1978

This is screamingly funny, wonder why I never saw it before! I'm a big Gérard Depardeu fan, but never imagined he was ever this young. Highly recommended.

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July 18, 2007

Film: (DVD) Pride and Prejudice Simon Langton, 1996

I loved the book, also loved the Keira Knightley version from a couple of years ago. That version didn't follow the book too closely, but was a wonderful movie, one of the few DVDs I've actually bought.

This is the highly regarded BBC version from 1996, which some credit as starting off the Jane Austen boom. Generally fine performances, and more faithful to the book (but then the 5 hour running time is quite a bit longer than a feature film.) The production values are not to be compared with the newer Hollywood version, though the settings in various authentic "stately homes" are fine. In particular, though, the lighting is primitive by modern cinematic standards. There are candles burning everywhere (even in the daytime) but it is obvious that they are not the source of the lighting.

July 20, 2007

Moon Day?

I really believe that July 20 should (and eventually will) be a major national holiday. This is the 39th anniversary of the first Moon landing. That accomplishment, in the long run, will be remembered as the most important event of the second millennium.

Film: (HBO) Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush 2007

Harriet is originally from Brooklyn, and rooted for the Dodgers as a child. She's probably still psychically scarred by the 1957 move to L.A.

I was never a Doger fan, but I enjoyed this examination of their place in history and the hearts of Brooklynites. This production indicates that Walter O'Malley wasn't really to blame for the defections, but that Robert Moses was the villain of the piece.

July 21, 2007

Harriet had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new, supposedly final Harry Potter book. She pre-ordered it from months ago, and they promised to have it on our doorstep by 9:00 AM this morning.

As it turns out, it didn't arrive until early afternoon. Harriet may never forgive them!

July 22, 2007

Sea Chanteys at M.I.T.

Another enjoyable afternoon sitting in a circle and sharing maritime songs. My contributions this time:

July 24, 2007

Film: (HBO) Little Miss Sunshine Jonathan Dayton, 2006

Charming "road" comedy. Steve Carell is excellent but, surprisingly, he's not all that funny in this film.

July 25, 2007

Film: (DVD) Top Hat Mark Sandrich, 1935

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers...what more is there to say?

July 26, 2007

Film: (DVD) Arch of Triumph Waris Hussein, 1985

I picked this up from the library because I'm a big Anthony Hopkins fan. Glad I didn't have to pay for it! A melodrama set in Paris in the late 1930s features Hopkins as an Austrian refugee from the Nazis. This was a made-for-tv movie, and the DVD was of unusually poor technical quality, as if it had been made frome on old VHS source. The images are murky and the audio suffers nasty flutter.

I first encountered Anthony Hopkins in the wonderful Grenada production of War and Peace but these days he seems to have allowed himself to be type cast primarily as a villain in crap like The Silence of the Lambs.

July 27, 2007


The Bush administration made a nuclear-cooperation deal with India. For once I'm in agreement with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

I've never understood why U.S./Indian relations were always a bit on the cool side. The two countries have a great deal in common: Both are large, pluralistic, multi-lingual democracies, both are former English colonies that had to fight for independence.

India is a natural ally in the growing conflict with the forces of fundamentalist Islam, so it's good to see this rapprochement. We need all the friends we can get!

July 28, 2007

Iolanthe Sing Through

M.I.T. Gilbert &amo; Sullivan had a "sing through" of Iolanthe today. I had the role of Private Willis. Good fun, and I think I did a decent job of my solo "When All Night Long..."

Had a very scary near fall on the way from the car into the M.I.T. Student Center, going down a curb cut into a driveway my legs got away from me. I put out my cane to keep from falling forward, but started to fall a bit to the side. Jerked the cane up and over but too far, so I started to fall to the other side, wound up doing 3 or 4 cane plants before I managed to get stopped and, fortunately, still upright. It was very scary, and sent my heart rate through the roof due to the adrenaline.

New article: Bichain fixed-free drivetrain

I didn't write this, it's by Bruce Ingle, but it is a great hack. I did some minor editing and HTMLified what started as an email posting.

Scary thought:

Dick Cheney was in surgery today to replace his pacemaker. That means, for a period of several hours today, the country was being run by...George Bush!

July 31, 2007

Harriet's Birthday

I got her a 30 GB iPod. She likes it!

Concert: Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Charles Ansbacher, conductor.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra Old Ironsides Joined my sister, niece and other family members for a concert at the Boston Navy Yard, with the U.S.S. Constitution as a backdrop. I had never heard of the B.L.O., a smallish ensemble (about 20 players.) They played quite well. A few Kabalesky pieces, a Mozart divertimento and a couple of pieces for narrator and orchestra.

The first of these David and Old Ironsides by Larry Thomas Bell was not all that great, though it was the main event of the concert, being the world premiere. It was very earnest and Politically Correct, the story of an "8 year old black man" who served on Constitution near the end of her fighting career.

The text made a big deal of her capture of HMS Cyane and HMS Levant, without mentioning that these two vessels were totally outclassed by the powerful frigate.

After the Bell, they played The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Julian Wachner This used the Longfellow poem. It was kind of a trip to look off to my left across the harbor and see the actual church tower where the two lanterns were hung...

This was much more substantial, both musically and in terms of the text.

It was a pleasant summer evening family event.

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DESCRIPTIONAugust 1, 2007

My Lair

This is where I spend most of my waking hours these days, on the second floor of my house with my trusty 20" G5 iMac and various peripherals.

There's a Canon photo printer on the left, underneath the audio equipment, including a Sangean HD radio tuner that I use mostly to record the live Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts.

I've also got a nice Epson 1600 scanner, but it's invisible behind my chair.

There's also an Akai cassette deck and a Tecnics turntable that I use to digitize my old cassette and vinyl stuff.

Off to the right is a Teac reel-to-reel player I found in the trash. Eventually I hope to use it to digitize the better among my many reel-to-reel recordings.

August 3, 2007

Swimming in Marblehead

Drove out to Marblehead with my son, sister and her granddaughter and a friend of hers.. I hung around Crocker Park while they swam in the harbor.

Marblehead Neck

Marblehead Neck

Marblehead Neck

Went down to The Barnacle for lunch (they walked, I used my electric scooter.)

Then we drove over to Grace Oliver's Beach, which is a favorite high-tide swimming place of ours. I actually managed to get into the water, with my son and sister holding me up. Once I got into the water I was fine, and it really felt good. The five of us had a grand old time swimming around. The little girls dove off the rocks.

Grace Oliver's is pretty rocky, so I wore my Shimano sandals, also my orthotics. The result was that my feet were buoyant, which was a bit comical. We were mostly hanging around in neck-deep water, and I had to be a bit careful of balance lest my feet pop to the surface.

Music Sesshun

George and I went over to a neighbor's house for a sesshun. George brought his trombone, I brought my voice. There were a bunch of excellent fiddlers, a guitarist and our host on mandolin and bouzouki.

Lots of Scottish fiddle tunes, which George improvised bass lines to on his 'bone. Not too much singing until near the end. I offered: Barrett's Privateers and the Skye Boat Song

Technological note:

At the sesshun, I noted at least three instances where people took out their cel phones to check the time. I also noticed that only one of the 10 or 12 people present was wearing a watch...and he was the one with the brand new iPhone!

August 5, 2007

Singing aboard the schooner Roseway

The second annual Roseway expedition of the MIT Chantey & Maritime Sing. She's a 137 foot two masted fishing schooner, built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1925. One of only 5 Essex schooners still afloat. You can read her history here.

Last year we did this in early October. This year the weather was nicer. In fact it was perfect! There was a good stiff sou'-westerly breeze blowing so she could show her turn of speed, but it was warm enough that I was quite comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt.

I brought half a dozen of my family members along this time, and they all seemed to have a good time too.

rigging-jib-jumbo liberty-clipper-roseway7 fomidable-brig-roseway1 rigging-formidable fireboat-roseway2
family-roseway arlene-roseway5 harriet-roseway3 george-roseway2 rusty-roseway06
chris-nick-roseway2 joe-roseway4 lynn-roseway bluehat-roseway1 constitution-roseway1
david-roseway5 peggy-roseway2 rowes-wharf-roseway2 custom-house-roseway2 tobinbridge1
Images made with Nikon D70 camera , Nikkor 70-300 zoom lens , Photoshop CS3, Mac 20" G5 iMac.

Many more photos from this event: Click here

August 6, 2007

Audiobook: The Glorious Cause Jeff Shaara, 2002

This sequel to Rise to Rebellion covers the period from 1776 to 1783 and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. This volume was read by Grover Gardner, who isn't quite as good as George Guidall. I was a bit irritated by a couple of pronunciation errors: When referring to the Hessian "Jäger" troops, he pronounced it "Yah-ger" instead of "Yay-ger." He also several times has British characters pronouncing "lieutenant" as "lew-tenant" instead of "lef-tenant."

Despite this hair splitting, I did enjoy this one as well as Rise to Rebellion.

Shaara focusses quite a bit on Washington, Nathaniel Greene, Lafayette and George Cornwallis. He presents Cornwallis as the only competent high-level officer on the British side, (not counting the Hessian general Kniphausen) and suggests that if Cornwallis had not been hampered by foolish superiors Howe and later Clinton, he might well have prevailed.

August 7, 2007

Hearing Test

I had tried a pair of hearing aids back in December, 1998, but did not find them satisfactory at the time, so I returned them after a few weeks. Since then my hearing has gradually gotten worse, and hearing aid technology has improved. I went in today to get tested and fitted for a pair of high-tech Phonak Savia aids. The model I chose wasn't in stock, but should be in next week. (I wanted a model with manual overrides on the programming, even though they were slightly larger than the top-of-the-line Avéo; model.)

These are multi-program aids, and one of the programs is customizable. I was told that the custom program can be set to make them work when I sing.

Film: (DVD) Stone Reader Mark Moscowitz, 2002

One of my readers emailed me to suggest this film, and it was a good tip. It's a literary documentary about the film maker's obsession with an obscure 1970 novel, by an equally obscure author, and his attempt to discover the story behind it, and also to understand why the novel was not a commercial success, despite excellent reviews.

August 8, 2007

Film: (DVD) The Brothers McMullen Edward Burns, 1995

A rather cliché ridden quasi-comedy about three Irish-American brothers from Long Island and their various relationships with women and the Catholic church.

August 10, 2007

I got a bicycle question from a reader who mentioned that he had grown up in Marblehead, as did I. He mentioned where his house had been, and I recalled a high-school classmate with the same last name in the same part of town. I asked if he was related, turns out he was her brother. He gave me her email address and we re-connected. Since then we've been carrying on a delightful email correspondence though we live a couple of states apart.

eBook: Settling Accounts: In at the Death

This concluding volume of the Settling Accounts tetralogy takes up where Settling Accounts: The Grapple left off, covering the years 1943 and 1944. This is actually the eleventh volume in the "Timeline 191 series." Most likely this will be the final volume of the series, as most of the loose ends have been tied up, and no younger characters introduced. It has been a fascinating series, starting with the Confederate victory in the Slavery War in How Few Remain.

August 12, 2007

Larz Anderson Bike Show

Drove over to the show, used my electric scooter to travel around. Small but select group of bikes on display, and a sort-of "under the radar" swap meet off in the corner.

It's really a shame that the snobbish attitude of the Museum of Transportation put the kibosh on the full-scale swap meet a couple of years back, because that led to a much better draw of both exhibitors and viewers.

I was particularly taken by a lovely Neudorf track bike from the early 20th century. I'll try to put some pictures here when I get around to editing and formatting them.

Film: (DVD) Ladies in Lavender Charles Dance, 2005

Nice vehicle for Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, who play a pair of elderly sisters living in a seaside cottage in Cornwall. When a mysterious foreigner washes up on their beach, they take him in and become very attached to him. Lots of wonderful Cornish characters in this, quite a nice film.

August 13, 2007

Tova's home! She came in on the red-eye from Santa Cruz this morning, and now the whole family is together again for a while.

Next week we're going down to the Cape for the week, rented a cottage in Truro that's even dog-friendly, so we can bring Tasha as well...first time we have taken her along on a vacation trip.

August 14, 2007

Went for a ride on the Greenspeed along the side of the Charles River, upstream as far as the end of the Mt. Feake Cemetery. Unfortunately, that's as far as I can get in that direction, because there's a gate at the upstream end of the cemetery that I can't get through. Pedestrians and bikes (walked) can get by the end of the fence, but that's not possible for me or for the trike.

Waltham Watch Factory Panorama

This view is from just inside the Mt. Feake Cemetery.

This is the old Waltham Watch factory, a very important site in the history of the late Industrial Revolution. This was the first place where watches were mass produced, putting precision technology into the reach of the middle class. DESCRIPTION

D.H. Church was the Master Watchmaker at the Waltham Watch factory, invented many important production machines, particularly multiple drilling tapping machines that improved productivity and precision, by doing multiple operations on a workpiece without moving it from one machine to another.

I believe H. D. Church was his son. Every time I ride through the Mt. Feake cemetery I'm struck by the contrasting sizes of their respective gravestones. and epitaphs.

The panorama above is the view these graves overlook.

August 15, 2007

I was just listening to the Palomo Nocurnos de Andalucia on my iPod. It's basically a guitar concerto. Got me thinking, there are a number of concerti for acoustic guitar, but it's difficult to make the balance work against a full orchestra. So, why aren't composers writing concerti for electric guitar? Sure, there will be a few snobs who would object to mixing an instrument so firmly associated with rock music with a "classical" orchestra, but it seems to me that it could really work very well. The instrument is certainly powerful enough to hold its own in a concerto setting, and the contrast in sound could be used for some very novel effects.

My guess is that "classical" composers just don't know how to write for electric guitar, and that hot-shot electric guitarists mostly don't have a clue about writing for orchestra. However, there have been crossovers. The late, lamented Frank Zappa and Paul McCartney spring to mind, maybe Elvis Costello, probably others...

If someone could write an electric concerto as good as, say, the Rodrigo, the potential audience could be huge!

Another fall.

This was a first: I was just standing, leaning on my cane, talking to Harriet and suddenly my left knee folded up and I toppled over backward. I banged my head on the base of the doll house, but didn't break the skin.

I've had knee collapses before, but have always been able to recover before totally losing my balance. This was super fast. It is also the first time I've fallen while standing still, which is rather alarming...hope it doesn't become a habit!

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August 16, 2007

Diagnosis at Last!

Saw neurologist #4 (MS specialist) today, he confirms a pretty solid diagnosis of Primary Progressive MS.

The good news is that this type of MS is very unlikely to spread ot my upper body, so I don't need to worry about mental impairment or loss of the ability to communicate.

Hearing Aids

Also got a pair of hearing aids on Thursday, well, not a matched pair, 'cause one of the ones they ordered in for me was defective, so the lent me a different model to tide me over 'til I get back from the Cape next week. These are programmable aids, and include a custom program which is supposed to be good for singers. That programming hasn't been done yet, waiting for the replacement right one to come in.

Cape Cod Sagamore Bridge from moving car August 18, 2007

Off to Truro

Harriet and I drove down to Truro, on Cape Cod. Took about 3 hours on the road, not much traffic considering. This was the first time we've been to the Cape since the Sagamore Bridge rotary bypass was completed, that helped a lot.

I have mostly outgrown trying to take photos from a moving car, but I couldn't resist whipping out my Kodak V-570 for this one.

Actually, this was the first time we've been to the Cape since our cycling trip in 1990 and Hurricane Bob.

Tova and George will follow tomorrow--George has a Morris dancing gig this afternoon, and both of them are going to a party in Somerville this evening.

We've rented a cottage on Moses Way in North Truro for the week. It's even "pet friendly" so we brought Tasha along. This is the first time we have taken her on a family vacation.

The cabin has wireless Internet, but it's a very weak signal, not always available.

The cottage is well supplied with crickets, much to Tasha's delight...she finds them deliciously crunchy!

Truro Cottage 3b Moses Way Panorama

Harriet and I went out to dinner at the Whitman House, a rather old-timey restaurant close by (the closest, according to Google Maps.) A rather late dinner, but pleasant aside from the excessive air conditioning.

August 19, 2007

Took the Greenspeed trike for a ride, went over to the former Truro air base, then tried a dirt-road "shortcut" to get back. Turned out not to be a shortcut, but a more-or-less parallel sand road, Old King's Highway. This is probably the oldest "road" on the Cape, though by modern standards it's just a double-track jeep road. The road tended downhill for quite a ways, maybe a mile and a half, and I was able to make good progress, except for having to stop and back up once to clear a branch from my derailer. However, once it started heading uphill, I was no longer able to move forward except by the very laborious "3-wheel drive" technique, pushing the front wheels as a wheelchair user does. That technique is fine for getting over occasional short difficult sections, but not practical for covering distance. Fortunately, there was cel phone service, so I was able to call Harriet to come and pick me up with the van.

We went to the grocery store we remembered from our last visit, got a still warm, fresh baked baguette and some paté for lunch. Mmmmm-mm!

Tova and George arrived close to dinnertime, we ate burgers at the cabin on wonderful Portugese muffins, then drove over to Corn Hill Beach to watch the sun set over the bay.

Then back to the cabin to watch Veroncia Mars on DVD...and so to bed.

August 20, 2007

Went for another ride on the Greenspeed, about 4 miles on the Head of the Meadow bike path. Not all that thrilling. The pavement was in poor condition, and the path runs through a solid ditch of greenery about 5 feet on each side of the narrow path, so there's not all that much to see, but it was good to get out under my own power again. Walking is getting harder and harder, these days I'm using two canes and still having some trouble. Had a bit of a fall in the kitchen this morning but managed to grab onto the sink and a cabinet to keep from hitting the floor.

Bye-Bye Simonweb

This Journal and everything else on has been hosted by a company called since I started the Journal. However lately Simonweb has been extremely flaky, and this time the site has been offline for at least 4 days. Simonweb itself aslo seems to be off line. Maybe they're defunct.

Anyway, I'm moving to the same hosting company that does Sheldonbrown.COM. I've been on the phone with Network Solutions over this, and it's in the works. will actually reside at a new directory: that I just created today. Once the domain has re-propagated, all of the old links and urls should work. However, the new address will work too.

the M.I.T. Gilbert & Sullivan players has scheduled a "sing through" of The Pirates of Penzance" in a couple of weeks, and I just got an email that I got the part I wanted: Sergeant of Police! I'm psyched!

August 21, 2007

Migration complete! should now be as reliable as Sheldonbrown.COM, since they're now on the same server.

I also moved my brother's site over so I'm through with Simonweb.

Drove over to Provincetown, cruised around Commercial Street in my electric scooter. We stopped by Marine Specialties, the wonderful surplus store. I bought a costume British "Bobby" helmet just in time for my role in Pirates...

Went to The Outer Crêpe for dinner. Tasty but skimpy.

August 22, 2007

Took a ride on the newly-completed northern end of the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Harriet, Tova and George rode ahead, I'm too slow for bicycles to comfortably ride with me. I did 15.77 miles, averaging 6.8 mph. Pretty wiped out by the time I got back to the van, had to get George to help me get back on my feet from the trike.

This is a VERY nice section of trail, we put in at the northern trailhead, Lecount Hollow Road.

George and Tova tried to make curry for dinner, but the propane tank ran out, so the stove didn't work. Harriet managed to finish it up using the microwave.

August 23, 2007

Couldn't cook breakfast for lack of propane, so we drove over to the Bookstore Restaurant in Wellfleet for what turned out to be lunch by the time we got there. The food was good, but the service was terrible. They served my onion soup and my steak at the same time, and never refilled our coffee cups.

August 24, 2007


Drove to Corn Hill Beach, on the bayside. Picked that beach because they have sand-wheelchairs available. George pushed me down to the shore, though it was tough going, the sand is quite soft, and the tide was low.

With the help of George on one side, Harriet on t'other, I was able to walk out to a swimmable depth. The water felt really good, only the second time I've been in the ocean this year.

Unfortunately, at the prevailing tide, it was not possible to get out to much more than belly-button depth. At that depth, I couldn't really stand up without being knocked over by the small waves, but I was able to kneel or crouch on the bottom, and to swim a bit.

George and Harriet helped me walk out of the water, which was pretty tricky because of the waves, the up the beach. (I do better on my feet uphill than down, and I don't think the chair would have worked uphill either.)

Rather a lot of trouble for a dip in the ocean, but it was very pleasant.

Near sunset, we all went over to Cape Cod Light, 1 1/4 miles from the cottage. I rode the Greenspeed while everybody else (Tasha included!) walked. We sang a few songs together on the way, watched the sunset, and then back to the cabin.

August 25, 2007

Drove back home to Newtonville, very little traffic aside from a brief jam just before the Sagamore Bridge.

Watched the end of Veronica Mars, Season 2 in the evening on DVD. What a shame that the shortsighted bean counters cancelled this excellent show!

August 27, 2007

Bought a pair of forearm type crutches, as recommended by Neurologist #4. Not yet clear if they're going to be more generally useful than the pair of canes I've been using.

Film: (DVD) Castle in the Sky Hayao Miyazaki, 1986

George got this animé feature from Netflix. Generally fun, very nice visually, but with a typical juvenile animé plot.

August 28, 2007

Hearing Aids

Got the second Phonak Savia Art aid, and got both of them set up with a selectable custom program that should be better for singing than any of the 4 standard built-in programs.

Film: (DVD) Pushing Tin Mike Newell, 1999

I saw this before 6 years ago, ran into it again at the library. John Cusak and Billy Bob Thornton are a great combination as air traffic controllers struggling for macho dominance. The most striking thing about this film, however is probably the opening credits, showing airliners whizzing past the twin towers in the crowded sky.

August 29, 2007

Audiobook: The Plot Against America Philip Roth, 2004

Alternate history, or rather alternate autobiography, Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in the 1940 presidential election, leading to a wave of anti-semitic violence, as sen through the eyes of 8-10 year old Roth, growing up in a Jewish neighborhood of Trenton New Jersey. This is a very fine book, highly recommended.

This audio version was read by Ron Silver, probably the perfect voice and accent for the purpose.

August 30, 2007

eBook: 1945: A Novel Robert Conroy, 2007

Another alternate history, this one based on a militarist coup in Japan in August, 1945. The fanatics kidnap Emperor Hirohito and refuse to surrender, blinded by their idiotic bushido code. The novel extrapolates a U.S. invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, Kyushu in particular.

Well-researched, but not very well written, recommended only for fans of blood and guts.

Conroy also wrote 1901.

I was in the shop on Friday, and a customer came in with a bike damaged by a pothole.

It occurred to me that this term is too vague. Here's my proposed update:

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The overall Booklist has been moved to a separate page.

Books reviewed on this page:
1945: A NovelRobert Conroy8/30/07
The Plot Against AmericaPhilip Roth8/29/07
The Glorious CauseJeff Shaara8/6/07
Rise to RebellionJeff Shaara7/13/07
Roughing ItMark Twain7/11/07
Settling Accounts: In at the DeathHarry Turtledove8/10/07


The overall film list has been moved to a separate page.

Films reviewed on this page:
Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of FlatbushJuly 20, 2007
The Brothers McMullenAugust 8, 2007
Castle in the SkyAugust 27, 2007
Finding NeverlandJuly 6, 2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the PhœnixJuly 13, 2007
John Tucker Must DieJuly 1, 2007
Little Miss SunshineJuly 24, 2007
Pushing TinAugust 28, 2007
Préparez vos Mouchiors (Get out your Hankderchiefs) July 14, 2007
Pride and PrejudiceJuly 18, 2007
Stone ReaderAugust 7, 2007
Spenser: Judas GoatJuly 14, 2007
Top HatJuly 25, 2007
Twice Upon a YesterdayJuly 11, 2007


The overall music list has been moved to a separate page.

Music reviewed on this page:
August 5, 2007M.I.T. Chantey Sing aboard the schooner Roseway
July 31, 2007 Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Charles Ansbacher, conductorKabalevsky, Bell, Wachner, Mozart
July 28, 2007M.I.T.G.A.S.PGilbert & Sullivan: Iolanthe Sing Through


November 29, 2002Lorraine BraccoThe Graduate
November 23, 2001Helen Mirren, Ian McKellnThe Dance of Death-August Strindberg
September 30, 2000Tova/Black Box Theatre, Cornell UniversityThe Maids-Jean Genet
May 30, 2000Kelsey Grammer/Colonial TheatreMacbeth
May 26, 2000The Huntington Theatre Co.King Hedley II
September 3, 1999The Publick TheatreNine
August 21, 1999Orange Tree Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sonata
August 13, 1999Firehouse Theatre, Ithaca, N.Y.Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You
May 22-29Newton South/North High SchoolsRichard III
December 18, 1998Newton North High SchoolThe Bone Violin, May Flies
November 12, 1998Newton North High SchoolTo Kill a Mockingbird


November 21-24, 2007Plantation, Florida
September 25-28, 2007Las Vegas, Nevada
August 18-25, 2007Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
November 22-26, 2006Plantation, Florida
September 25-28, 2006Las Vegas (Interbike)
June 10-20, 2006Santa Cruz, California
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November 23, 2005Plantation, Florida
September 26-29, 2005Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada
August 26-28, 2005'Bentride 2005, Bath, N.Y.
July 21-24, 2005Family Reunion, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
April 29, 2005Cirque de Cyclisme, Greensboro, N.C.
February 16, 2005Indianapolis
November 24, 2004Plantation, Florida
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October 4, 2004Las Vegas, Nevada
June 8, 2004France, England
December 22, 2003Halifax, Nova Scotia
November 27, 2003Florida
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October 10, 2003Las Vegas, Nevada
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November 27-30, 2002New York, N.Y.
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July 3-9, 2002Canso, Nova Scotia
May 24-27, 2002Long Island, New York
November 21-24, 2001New York City
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September 29-October 3, 2001Las Vegas, Nevada (Interbike Show)
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October 7-13, 1999Chicago/Evanston, Illinois
August 19-28, 1999Ithaca, New York
August 12-13, 1999Ithaca, New York
July 23-25, 1999Bridgeton, Maine
November 25-28, 1998Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1988-89France, England
1980Yucatan, Mexico
1975England, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Turkey

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