myBobLog


Tuba Skinny

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I was up late the other night listening to a band on YouTube called Tuba Skinny from New Orleans. I could not stop listening. These are young folks that can really capture the hot jazz sounds 20s and 30s. Singer, Erika Lewis (also bass drum), is particularly interesting. With a style and approach that is strikingly authentic and true to the style, Lewis seems as if she is somewhere else deep in the music. The group often plays on the streets of New Orleans, where the band originated and can range in size. No matter the size, they play very hot jazz with no music in front of them. They have an energy that can only come from young folks who are immersed in this genre of music. Turn off the colour on your screen and the band looks as if it is back in time, back when their music was just being created for the first time.

Cornet player Shaye Cohn is classically trained in piano, however took up the cornet to play this music. I find that most classically trained musicians don’t usually play with a hot syncopated style. I have found it rare, however that is not the case with anyone in the Tuba Skinny band, despite how any of them may have been trained. The washboard player is truly interesting to watch.

Tuba Skinny takes its name in recognition of a popular New Orlean tuba player, Tuba Fats, who passed away just before the band formed in 2009. Initially, the band was a collection of street musicians, however, in the less than a decade of existence, it quickly garnered great attention as a unique and authentic sounding jazz band that now travels extensively. YouTube is full of great Tuba Skinny videos. While they do many popular tunes, most of gathered from lesser known sources and some are originals. This band is well worth a listen and fun to watch.

Tuba Skinny

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Halloween war zone

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It was Halloween last night and we were once again having to endure the sounds of a war zone late into the night. It is hard to believe that people have so much money to spend on such a vast display of celebrating evil. These are no small puffs of firecrackers such as I had when I was a kid, but bursting bombs that shake the ground and then light up the sky like stars just above the rooftops. I can’t imagine the cost of that momentary delight. Like so much in our society and world, nothing has meaning or substance to last longer than a shooting star. What is the worth of the short-lived disposable creations of humans, of thoughts and words that evaporate into the mist of noise on a brightly lit screen?

So I went to bed last night thinking about how the neighbourhood fireworks remind me of The Star Spangled Banner:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

(Note: This is only the first verse. There are several more.)

I could remember most of it from when I was living in the States as a kid. The parts that really stuck-out in my mind where the ‘rockets,’ ‘bombs bursting,’ ‘Gave proof… flag was still there’ and ‘…land of the free… home of the brave.’ It is a song of great strength. This is why Americans have fireworks on the Fourth of July. I suppose what fireworks could mean on Halloween is freedom from the evils celebrated on that particular night and throughout the year, along with bravery to endure and stand up against all evil.

We are in a war zone where evil seeks to encompass our lives and to eventually destroy us. We can turn the tables on evil by altering the meanings of that which seeks to creep into every aspect of our lives, spreading and celebrating evil. A good example is to consider the fireworks as a celebration of freedom and bravery over evil, just as the Americans do on the Fourth of July.



Yup, I’m coming back again

It would appear that I have been getting back to this blog less than twice a year and I feel it is time to come back and try to be a bit more regular. II have been writing, truly I have been writing everyday and some of that writing could have gone on this blog and some on the Technojungle blog. I write a little in the morning and a little at night. I can’t explain why I have not been blogging. I hope that may change with this entry.

The last update was pretty comprehensive. I continue mostly in and same directions.

Fir

My hair is now very long, over a foot in many places. However, would you believe it, I have no photos of my hair. I have been enjoying it, although I am surprised at how much comes out when I wash and brush it. I figured recently that, if I only lost ten strands per day, and that might just be a conservative guess, I could have lost 4000 strands since I started. I tried to imagine what that many strands of hair might look like. These thoughts had me thinking that I should get on with cutting it off and donating it before I have little to give. Still, I like having my hair and tending to it. If I cut it off, I might grow it again. Someone mentioned that November is Movember for men’s health and typically means growing and then shaving off a moustache. I think I had better get some photos of my hair before the end of next month.

Writing (& Book)

My book is still in editing mode, although I have not really worked much on it for a week or so, the longest and perhaps only break I have taken since getting on a schedule of writing and then editing the book. I’m not really sure when I will be ready. I might just have to bite the bullet, as they say. Although, I’m sure I could tighten it up. I may add a glossary. The idea of an index just got squashed as I read about what is an actual profession, craft and art called indexing. It could cost over a thousand dollars for this. I’ll hold off for now.

Music

I mentioned something about my dream cornet and that I was going to do a separate entry for this amazing event in my life. As you may have noticed, I did not get to it. I suppose what happened is that I had this cornet out to be fixed up and, in particular, have the valves redone back near where the horn was originally made during 1921 in the U.S. I did lots of before photos, but when it came back, I just got playing it and have not stopped. Well, that means that playing music and all my other projects have take priority. I am still planning to do the photos and then an exposé on the entire matter, so you can wait in deep anticipation for that.

I had mentioned that I was playing in a band to entertain seniors and that I had also started my own band, both giving me a long tiring, nevertheless exciting, blow on Mondays. The evening band, affectionately called the No Name Jazz Band, it still going along and we are improving. I am learning to lead and make-up the arrangement as I go. The Deep Cove Jazz Band was turned over to me, so now I have two bands. This band has been in need of rebuilding and I am happy to report that it looks like this is finally happening and we may, in a few weeks, be able to get back to doing gigs for seniors again.

I must say that it is certainly challenging to keep a band of volunteer musicians together. I am working on acquiring and maintaining a core group of members for each band and backups. It is also challenging to keep all the music in order. We had a long music sorting spree yesterday with the Deep Cove JB music. One other challenge that is working out well now is that I added a vocalist.

I was playing in a band and a woman came to sing. She only sang a few bars when she realized that she would not be available for the gig, so she left. However, I heard enough to form a hunch that she could be a jazz singer, so over the last few months she has been working at it and is a regular member or both bands. Yesterday she experienced what I experience on Mondays and nearly strained her voice.

I am playing a lot and getting better, although, I do find that I have limitations, which I may discuss another time.

Photography

I continue to do very little in this long time hobby area of my life. I still have intentions though. Since my photography seems to be on hold, so are my photoblogs, however, they too will get some attention one day.

Graphics

Turning to the area of graphics and publishing, I had an unfortunate experience. We were doing high-end flyers and then my friend decided to go another direction with his life and work. This left us, my wife and I, without this work. I had built up my workflow with the necessary software and suddenly there was no more work. I decided to take my little graphics business and hold it on the side until I am ready to publish my book. At the moment, I suppose, music and working on my book are the main priorities.

Baking

I have just come off of taking a break from baking. Our KitchenAid mixer stopped. My wife, somehow, managed to return it to Costco and then we began to wait for it to go on sale. Now it seems Costco is no longer carrying them. It may be that Costco is having KitchenAid develop a different model. In the meantime, we needed to use our Airmiles before they expire and my wife was looking on the Airmiles website for items to redeem our points on. Suddenly she said, “Is this what you are looking for?” Sure enough, it was the KitchenAid mixer and it was an even better model. It required points and money, but in the end, we came out $71 ahead. Next she found a fancy rice cooker with a natural clay removable pot. It makes yogurt and other things too. This she purchased entirely with points, so it was free. The item is back ordered, but the KitchenAid has arrived and is in use.

Family

We keep on muddling along. My wife Patricia is still working, as am I, both of us part-time. Michelle has another job at a gym and Malcolm is in the final legs of his Mechatronics engineering degree and is currently working at a co-op job. We are all fine and living, coming and going, under one roof.

The Future

As I realized when I was considering a name for my book, the future never arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage. While my book states this about how technology influences our lives, it seems to be applicable in most areas of our lives.

I have somewhat promised that I would post some photos of my hair and post the story about my cornet and some photos. Before I do that, I think I would like to wash it. I have been playing for many months and it is long overdue for a cleaning.

As for further writing, there may be less here than other years, since I have the Technojungle blogfor all the technology related posts. On the other hand, I have plenty of music going on now and that may become a source for articles here.



An update is even more overdue

Time—that slippery conduit through which we pass—has eluded me once again; at least where this blog is concerned. I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll simply start to ramble, as usual, I suppose.

Fir

The first thing that is coming to mind is my hair. Yeah, I know, we sort of got over all that hair business way back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Well, my hair was never really that long in those days. Last summer, my hair was getting a little long, so my wife said, “If you want to have your hair a long, I’m going to take you to my hairdresser for your 60th birthday present.” I have the sort of hair that I can have shortish and longish which allows me to go a few months between haircuts. My wife likes my hair both ways.

So, off we went and had this very nice girl, Brandy, tidy-up my hair. I looked on the floor and said, “Not bad hair for 60.” Then came the reply that just simply caught me, “If you had a foot of it, you could donate it to cancer patients going through chemotherapy.”

What an idea! I could try my hair long and then do something good with it. Great! That was in mid-August and I am getting there slowly—very slowly, it seems. Perhaps it has slowed down a bit. It has been pretty unmanageable. Having long hair for a while is a neat idea, but getting there is not as easy as I thought it would be. Anyway, I am still working on it.

Writing (& book)

In case someone might actually be following my blog and might just be having some remote thoughts about my book, it is still underway. I have discovered, actually I’m sure I sort of knew, that the writing part is far easier and takes less time than editing. Most books are severely under-edited. I’m not ready to employ and professional editor to pour over my work through several versions, so I am recruiting people I know to be reader/editors.

I began by printing each of the three sections of the book and inserting them into three binders. Each reader/editor would get a coloured pen and an instruction/feedback sheet along with other information, such as target audience. The first person got section one. When they finished, I gave them section two and gave section one to the second reader/editor. It worked rather well and I got plenty of great edits and feedback. I have done this a couple of times as well as working through it with my writing coach.

I now have a couple of copies of the entire book out to do the same sort of process. This takes a long time. Busy people are doing this in their spare time and so am I. As the editing moves slowly along, it is difficult to maintain momentum and keep the energy up. It is interesting when I talk to people about my book. I only have to get started and everybody has something to say regarding their own experiences with technology. I remind them that my book is about being human and that we need to focus on that in the midst of the Technojungle that is devouring us.

Music

Here is an area of my life that has suddenly gained tremendous momentum and energy. Music was eluding me for years. I didn’t know what to do, or how to get started. Then an opportunity came up to play some Christmas carols just over a year ago now. Then I got invited to join a small band called The Deep Cove Old Time Jazz Band and play in retirement and care homes. I had done this over 25 years ago and had not played since. It was tough to get going again.

In June we played our last gig. So I asked the fellow learning to play banjo in the band if he would like to get together to play some tunes over the summer. I didn’t want to lose what I was beginning to gain. He said that he would. Then I wondered if the trombone player might like to join us. We had known each other some 35 years prior at the Hot Jazz Club. He said he would. He also said he knew of a couple of other fellows who might like to join in. Thus began an all summer long task of trying to get a group together. Everyone was going away at various times.

By mid to late August we were getting close to beginning to practice. I was amazed at how many tunes I know and can play. Soon another banjo player came who I also knew back in the Hot Jazz days. We practiced weekly until he went to play down under for a couple of months. We took Christmas off and are now having causal practices to get up to speed again.

I have some amazing news about my a cornet. I think it deserves a special entry, so look for a separate article about my cornet dream of a dream cornet.

Photography

Photography is an area that I have not done much with for a long time. I guess I am sort of waiting to see how my life goes. I do have a lot of photos I have just started to do something with and I do have two blogs about photography that I would like to work on. That is enough to keep me busy. I suppose I am concerned a bit about the age of my camera. It would be nice to get to the point where I could get or even need a new camera. I have one in mind, but it is expensive to keep up on technology.

Graphics

It has been a lot of years since I did any graphics work. Actually, I worked in training people around 15 years ago. I never considered myself a designer.

Last year, my friend Glenn, said he wanted to start a newsletter business. I didn’t know what to think, since printed flyers seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, I said I would help do a pilot. I found some open source software and struggled along with it.

Suddenly one day, the newsletter gained a companion flyer for a local shopping centre. We completed both on high quality paper and hand delivered them to the community. Since then, we have done three more and two or three are in the works. I have had to switch software a few times and gained some inexpensive yet powerful software. It is amazing what is out there now since Adobe started to rent their software and many users simply don’t want to follow that model. I have had some great compliments, done some photography (getting paid for the first time in over 45 years of holding a camera) and I have been amazed at how much I enjoy the work and even have fun. I have had to do some late nights though.

Baking

I continue to do my regular baking of pizza shells for Friday night pizza night, buns, bread, pasta and a few other things. Usually, I still grind ancient grains into flour in our Vitamix blender. For New Years Eve, we had another party and Glenn and I made the decadent Sin-O-Man (cinnamon) buns. They were amazing again.

Family

Well, my daughter, Michelle, came home from living a year in Australia and jumped right in to training to become a personal trainer. She is now working in this field everyday for long hours. Malcolm did a co-op job working on some helmet technology that can reduce the risk of concussions. It was very timely, since this sort of problems has been in the news a lot. He even made it to the news. He is now back in class studying Mechatronics Engineering. We are all living together in our home and having normal family dynamics.

Enough

That should be enough for now. I have continued to write a bit everyday, not always for an hour as I did to complete my book, but I have managed to amass a plethora of articles that I could put on this blog or my Technojungle blog. I just seem to be a bit short on time and I will be getting busier in the near future. Yet, many people do say that to get something done, one should give it to a busy person. We shall see. I have had doing this writing you are reading and a couple of other related tasks on my todo list for a couple of weeks, I think. We shall see. I still need to edit this and keyword it before I can upload it.



An update that is long overdue
Bob in car photo

I was sitting in my car waiting for my wifey and got playing around with my iPhone camera.

I shall take a moment to explain why I have not been posting much on my blogs for quite some time. I use a program on my Mac called MacJournal to do writing every morning—actually four days a week. It is just free writing to keep the writing juices flowing. When I was trying to write my book and not finding the time to move it along, I found that an hour a day of just writing at the same time of day in the same place got the book done. I would sit down and write. Sometimes I would look at my book chapters and get into working on one. I found that I could comfortably write between 700 and 1300 words in one hour. If I did not finish it, I would do it the next day. It made for good short chapters in the book. I also gained a lot of writing that I want to eventually get on my blogs and in another book. I take portions of my free writing and repurpose them for articles that can be put on my blogs.

So what happened? One day realized that I needed to make sure all my blog material has tags. Tags are used to make searching for topics easier and for search engines to find articles. I had not been diligent in tagging everything. I began to go through all my WordPress entries on myBobLog to fill in all the tags. I am still working on that in my spare time. I have posts on myBobLog that I want to transfer to my Technojungle Project blog. I will get to that one day. What really caused a halt to my posting on the blogs is that, for some reason, the tags I was entering in MacJournal were no longer transferring to my WordPress blogs. I tried to copy and paste them manually to the Tags field in WordPress, but that did not work.

So began a long and arduous trek working with the folks at WordPress and particularly with Dan the developer of MacJournal. He has me on his beta testing program and we have been working on my issue for months. Then Jeremey at WordPress posted a screencast of how he was doing his tags. Dan also asked a couple of key questions. Last night, I tried something that I noticed in the screencast and something that Dan’s questions twigged in my mind. I actually tried clicking or tabbing or hitting return to exit the Tags field in MacJournal. I discovered that all three of those tiny steps will make the tags transfer successful. Now I am ready to go again and have plenty of material already written or ready to write about. The problem now is that, many other projects in my life are also on the move, so my time is limited. I’ll get to it all in good time. There is no rush. It is nice to know that a huge problem was solved with a tiny solution. Now isn’t that an amazing thought.

Sometimes our huge problems and issues in life can be resolved with a tiny solution that may well be right under our nose. It’s that tiny thing that has the huge impact. This is important to keep in mind when we start to fret, get anxious, or become frustrated over an obstacle in our life. It might just take a tiny action to resolve. So calm down and look around, you just might find a tiny action that might have a huge and significant impact on your issue or problem.

In the coming weeks and months, watch for new content on my blogs. I will also have more regular news about my upcoming book that is now going through rigorous editing processes; more photography (as I find time to get better organized); news about my new writing, photography, graphics and publishing business called inFocus; and I’ll share about my musical adventures. Whew, that is a lot going on. Right now, I must move on to editing my book today, that is, as soon as I enter tags for this initially short bit of writing.



Wow! Nothing since Easter? Re-test

Wow! Nothing since Easter? That is again a long blank space. If anyone out there is reading, you already know I have absent periods from time to time.

So just what have I been up to, you may be asking? My book, I shall answer. I finished my book and have been organizing people to be reader/editors. I have had some other projects on the go, including getting myself set up to do graphics and publishing again. That took plenty of time.

I am still testing to determine why when I write a blog post in MacJournal and add tags, the tags do not get transferred to my WordPress blogs. This project has also been on hold and I am going to figure it out so I can get on with adding many articles that I have been writing over the past months.



Is it sexy or music
April 14, 2015, 9:10 am
Filed under: myCulture, myLifestyle, myNews

Is it sexy or music? That is the question. I was sidetracked from working on taxes and ended up looking at some music related images. Some were quite humorous. Suddenly there was a beautiful blond woman in a black dress (I think) with a trumpet. “Oh common!” I thought to myself. Then I read the caption that said she is a superstar. OK, I had better have a listen. Wow! What a discovery! Close your eyes, listen and never mind the beautiful blond part, that is not what it is about. With a tone that matches her looks and a seemingly delightful British personality Alison Balsom is truly one great classical trumpet player.

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I watched several videos and she can certainly squeeze pure expression through the most technical and masterfully executed classical pieces. In a giant, lavish auditorium, possibly the Royal Albert Hall, she enters, not from the side of the stage as most soloists might, but joyfully jaunts down the centre isle of the audience with her trumpet in hand, smiling and greeting the audience in a friendly manner. She takes her place next to the conductor and in front of the massive symphony orchestra. She is wearing an expensive looking dress that one might see an opera singer wear. The orchestra begins, she empties her spit valve and begins to play. I could hardly believe my ears. After a particularly difficult passage, her hand leaps off the valves and into the air as if to indicate the masterfully executed passage as finished with verve.

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I was reminded of local girl jazz trumpeter Bria Skonberg who I first heard about from local bandleader—possibly the oldest living and working bandleader from the 1930s in the world—Dal Richards (97). Originally from Chilliwack, BC, she now lives in New York and travels the world as a trumpet superstar in the classic jazz genre. She began playing traditional jazz in high school and then sang and played trumpet in the Dal Richard orchestra. I know she is well trained, having studied at Capilano University. Initially, she was perhaps taken as a bit of a cute trumpet playing blond girl novelty. I’m not sure about that, but one could see it happening. Today she is accepted as a great player.

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I listened to some videos of her several years ago and found a developing talent that would certainly top the Vancouver scene very soon. Well, she has certainly passed that finish line and is soaring. Revisiting I found a seasoning jazz musician, with emerging soul and deep expression in both her trumpet playing and singing. While a serious musician, she seems to also be a lot of fun. Joy is at the heart of liberating jazz.

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I studied trumpet in my youth and have just returned to playing after decades of absence. I played in a youth band and then in a small group for a few years that played in retirement homes. I spent many years as a vintage jazz and swing record collector and listened purely to this music. Today I am happy squeaking out a few notes playing along with a choir and with a jazz band, once again for the retired folk, whom I shall someday be joining. I may do more one day, I don’t know.

I am having fun, yet have always known I lack what it takes to head to the top. Allison and Bria are the genuine articles; the full package of talent, skill, style and charisma that makes them top calibre musicians, superstars and a joy to listen to—never mind pleasant to look at too. Is it sexy? I say beautiful music.

Alison Balsom
Bria Skongerg




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