12/28/2006

Charlottesville to make city meetings available on demand

This is really good news, and I'm pleased they will have this in place.

Here is the press release...

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — The Office of Communications with the City of Charlottesville today announced the launch of both live and on-demand access to City Council and other meetings via streaming Internet video beginning with the City Council meeting of January 2nd. The City recently implemented advanced web streaming solutions offered by Granicus Inc. to improve access to City government by offering video and audio of meetings broadcast in City Council Chambers to anyone with computer internet access.

“With our new streaming video system, citizens can now decide what they want to see and when they want to see it from any device with an Internet connection,” said Ric Barrick, Director of Communications for the City of Charlottesville. “This year has been an incredibly successful one for our website and we know this new feature will set the momentum for future enhancements in 2007.” The City of Charlottesville website, www.charlottesville.org, recently won two prominent national awards for “Best City Website in the Country.”

Wags Outside: Excellent commentary on working a second job

I tend to complain a lot that my life is too busy. I work the morning shift at WNRN three days a week, which means getting up at 4:30. I do a mixture of child-care and work throughout the rest of the day, sometimes working until very late in the evening.

But, Charlottesville blogger Wags Outside has an excellent post about the second job he took this year as a package handler for UPS.

Unloading tractor trailers is not rocket science. Grab a box, put it on the belt. Grab a box, put it on the belt. Grab a box, put it on the belt. The expected pace is a package every 3 seconds. It's easy to keep that pace when you're grabbing Aunt Edna's Christmas fruitcake or a package from LL Bean. It gets a bit more challenging when you're dealing with heavy auto parts, or picking apart a teetering wall of packages that is threatening to bury you in an avalanche.


He took the job to provide a second income, as he writes Charlottesville wages don't really cover costs very well. This is kind of inspiring, and well worth a read.

12/26/2006

NewsAdvance.com | Developer pours energy, creativity into Lynchburg

I grew up in Lynchburg, and I'm amazed at how fast it is now growing. We spent the weekend there, and it was bustling. Charlottesville developer Oliver Kuttner sees a future there, and even says in this News and Advance article that he'd like to live there.

NewsAdvance.com | Developer pours energy, creativity into Lynchburg

I do worry about the idea of building too much by the James River. Lynchburg is built on a hill, and there's a very steep incline. But every fifty years or so, a massive flood can reach way up into the city's streets. The Flood of 1985, was particularly devastating. And, to my knowledge, there has been no flood abatement program like the ones in Scottsville and Richmond.

I'd also like to spend more time in Lynchburg. My parents live there, and there are a lot more opportunities then those that existed when I was a boy. Heck, I even went to go see Borat at a cinema less than a mile away from Liberty University.

It's interesting to read that Thomas Jefferson once said:

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be useful to the town of Lynchburg. I consider it as the most interesting spot in the state."


I'm pleased that Charlottesville developers see a profit in being useful to 21st century Lynchburg. I also see a future there. I'm working with Lynchburg podcaster Dan Portnoy on several projects, and of course, I'm on the air in Lynchburg three days a week on WNRN, which reaches into town via WNRS at Sweet Briar. I'm also working with Media General on the Gateway Virginia podcast, which includes the News and Advance.

Fun fact: Actor Skeet Ulrich from Jericho was born in Lynchburg. It's amazing what you can learn from Wikipedia.

12/11/2006

Afternoon shift at WNRN

I'm in the afternoon today, something I've not done before. Thankfully I was able to mix up my daycare schedule for Josephine. It's a different place here in the afternoons. More people, of course, and a different style of music. I also am having a hard time seeing because I'm using my contact lens rather than my bulky glasses.

My challenge in 2007 is going to be to shake up my schedule.

11/29/2006

Homeward bound

Okay, I was pretty bleak last night about the prospects of leaving here. I still wish I could stay, somehow, but the goal is to be back over here again in four months or so. And then again next November. My Thanksgivings will likely be spent over here for years to come, until I can figure out how to move over here with the family.

But, I am looking forward to getting back to Charlottesville. The site is moribund, and I've not posted anything since last week. The Wake-Up Call file from Sunday is sitting on a hard drive at WNRN, waiting for me to go and get it. I took the instructions with me, which wasn't good. My apologies to the producers, and to Rick Moore on that.

Charlottesville is home. I've lived there longer then I've lived anywhere else in my adult life. More than four years, now! Four very full years, with a lot of turmoil and drama, but a lot of happiness, too. And, a lot of possibility.

And, I'm ready to take it all to the next step. I can't wait to get back into my office, in my studio. I brought a microphone with me on this trip, but I can't get it to work too much. I've concentrated mostly all my time on my son, and had several great days with him. I met his mother's new lad, and he's a nice chap.

I had planned to produce a whole backlog of the Charlottesville--Right Now shows, but that just didn't happen. Sorry, Coy! I need an assistant, or an intern, or someone willing to gain experience with all of this. The sky is the limit, and it's sunny here in England!

I had hoped to write out a lot more about the day to day life over here. So many details. Maybe next time.

11/28/2006

"Break of journey"

So, Jim is watching an episode of the Ghost Whisperer on Sky +, and it has to be the one in which there's a major plane crash. It's freaking me out. But, I can type while sitting on this couch. I'm not comfortable sitting on the bunk bed I sleep on when I'm here at Dunstable. I hope all goes well tomorrow.

My flight leaves at 5:00 PM London time tomorrow. I've got a long day ahead of me. I'm hoping to be at the Luton train station by 10:30, to catch the train into London. I'm then getting the Underground to a stop to meet with someone from the UK Podcaster's Association. There may be an interview in the future.

After lunch, I'm then hoping to be at Heathrow for 3:00. The Underground trip to Heathrow usually takes an hour or so. The Heathrow Underground stop is back in operation.

The trip is over. I've not written anything about it since Saturday. Not even to myself. So much to say. Too late now. I hope I can recall the details once I get back, but I never do. The details of trips to England fade into oblivion so fast. I don't like this. My preference would be to be here, as is likely obvious.

Maybe I'll write more about it, but this blog will likely fade into oblivion, too. When I am in Charlottesville, I find it hard to write out any details. Being a so-called journalist, I can't write out what I want to write out. I don't know what my fear is.

Anyway, back to normality, soon.

11/25/2006

Afternoon tea in Berkhamsted with Mr. Gateway

Sit down with me for a second while I have several cups of tea?

Today's warning of gale force winds did not come about, and so the day ended up quite lovely, with the sun shining on Hertfordshire. Of course, Henry is at his cousin's play. Matthew is sixteen and six-foot-six, but he's still playing a Munchkin in a presentation of the Wizard of Oz in Pendley. Henry's aunt came to pick him up.

We had eight hours of pure fun today, though. Henry wakes up early, and so at 5:30 this morning he came to collect me from the sofa. And we began to play.

In the past, this might have left me exhausted, but the best thing about being news director at WNRN is that I'm now ready to go after being awake for just a few minutes. I can shake off exhaustion pretty easily.

So, we began to play, but not until he had his breakfast. Today, that consisted of "grown-up cereal", a cup of milk, and some toast with marmite. Unfortunately, I ended up eating most of the toast.

So far today we've built two truck-stops out of blocks, so the Coa-Cola truck has some place to go at night. The first truck-stop fell victim to the smashing that all small children are compelled to do when something fragile is in front of them. But, that just paved the way for a second one.

At about 10:00, we decided to go out for an adventure, and we went to the park, the one I've not been to yet. This is the one up a footpath from where he'll go to school next year. I got to see where he'll go to his first class, in his little blazer and tie. It's still hard to imagine how different his life is going to be to mine.

My family history carries with it strange prophecies. First, my great-grandfather moved to Malta from London. Then his son, my grandfather moved from Malta to Liverpool, which he used as a base during his career in the merchant marines. Then, my dad moved from Liverpool to America with my mother. At one point, I married a woman from England, and thought we would end up in England, but so far, I'm still living in the U.S.

But, I'm not breaking the cycle, given that my son is going to grow up in England. Who knows where he will go, what he will do, who he will become?

We left the park because it began to pour with rain. Cold, driving rain that was actually visible this time. We walked back down the hill and up Christchurch Road back to the flat. He was complaining about his tummy, which was bothering him. Of course, after I put Stuart Little on the telly, he was perfectly fine again.

I kept seeing signs for a car boot sale at some hall on Bulborne Road. I looked it up on the map that Pippa got for me, and thought I could manage it in the car. So, I got up the courage to get Henry strapped in the car, and off I went.

I did drive here on the last trip over, for the first time ever. I'm quite skittish about it, though, and so I was a bit scared about getting in for the first time. It was also pouring with rain, but I figured I should stop being a coward and just get on with it.

There are many little things you have to remember when you drive on the left. First, shifting gears with the left hand takes a bit of getting used to. You also have to remember to look behind you to your left when you're backing up. Looking right does no good. You also have to watch out for parked cars on the left of the road.

In England, it seems to be perfectly permissible to simply park on the road. This creates lots of one-way strips that aren't sign-posted. So, you've really got to work with oncoming drivers. People are incredibly polite about it all, of course. It all seems to work out, somehow, and has done for years and years.

But, to the American driver, it comes as a bit of a shock. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a single-track road, and at one point scraped the left-hand side of the car in the hedge that lines the way.

There's a lot of talk in Virginia about traffic circles, which I hope do come into play. But, I'm not sure Americans will be able to handle the concept of giving way. As this is my second trip, I'm an old hand at them now, though I do have to remember to think every second I'm driving. Being alert tends to pay off, especially when you're driving your ex-wife's car.

At the moment, I'm in Berkhamsted, sitting at a coffee shop called the Bloc. I'm at the intersection of the high street and the road to the train station. I'd say about 2,000 people have walked past me in the past hour and fifteen minutes I've been here. Everyone else is taking advantage of the day as well, though the light has already faded. The sun has already set, and the blue is giving way to a faded white, which will itself switch to an orange-tinted black before to long.

I've got one more night in Tring, and then it's back to Dunstable for the last three nights I have here. I'll be back in Charlottesville on Wednesday, and back to getting the business up, and back to the podcasting. I've done no work since I got over here. I had hoped to do a lot more, and I do have all day Monday to get on with it.

Tomorrow I take Henry to a birthday party, also here in Berkhamsted, very close to where Pippa's brother lives. That's going to be a very interesting experience. These glimpses I'm getting into his life are priceless. They can't build affordable teleportation devices fast enough.

Afternoon tea in Berkhamsted with Mr. Gateway

Sit down with me for a second while I have several cups of tea?

Today's warning of gale force winds did not come about, and so the day ended up quite lovely, with the sun shining on Hertfordshire. Of course, Henry is at his cousin's play. Matthew is sixteen and six-foot-six, but he's still playing a Munchkin in a presentation of the Wizard of Oz in Pendley. Henry's aunt came to pick him up.

We had eight hours of pure fun today, though. Henry wakes up early, and so at 5:30 this morning he came to collect me from the sofa. And we began to play.

In the past, this might have left me exhausted, but the best thing about being news director at WNRN is that I'm now ready to go after being awake for just a few minutes. I can shake off exhaustion pretty easily.

So, we began to play, but not until he had his breakfast. Today, that consisted of "grown-up cereal", a cup of milk, and some toast with marmite. Unfortunately, I ended up eating most of the toast.

So far today we've built two truck-stops out of blocks, so the Coa-Cola truck has some place to go at night. The first truck-stop fell victim to the smashing that all small children are compelled to do when something fragile is in front of them. But, that just paved the way for a second one.

At about 10:00, we decided to go out for an adventure, and we went to the park, the one I've not been to yet. This is the one up a footpath from where he'll go to school next year. I got to see where he'll go to his first class, in his little blazer and tie. It's still hard to imagine how different his life is going to be to mine.

My family history carries with it strange prophecies. First, my great-grandfather moved to Malta from London. Then his son, my grandfather moved from Malta to Liverpool, which he used as a base during his career in the merchant marines. Then, my dad moved from Liverpool to America with my mother. At one point, I married a woman from England, and thought we would end up in England, but so far, I'm still living in the U.S.

But, I'm not breaking the cycle, given that my son is going to grow up in England. Who knows where he will go, what he will do, who he will become?

We left the park because it began to pour with rain. Cold, driving rain that was actually visible this time. We walked back down the hill and up Christchurch Road back to the flat. He was complaining about his tummy, which was bothering him. Of course, after I put Stuart Little on the telly, he was perfectly fine again.

I kept seeing signs for a car boot sale at some hall on Bulborne Road. I looked it up on the map that Pippa got for me, and thought I could manage it in the car. So, I got up the courage to get Henry strapped in the car, and off I went.

I did drive here on the last trip over, for the first time ever. I'm quite skittish about it, though, and so I was a bit scared about getting in for the first time. It was also pouring with rain, but I figured I should stop being a coward and just get on with it.

There are many little things you have to remember when you drive on the left. First, shifting gears with the left hand takes a bit of getting used to. You also have to remember to look behind you to your left when you're backing up. Looking right does no good. You also have to watch out for parked cars on the left of the road.

In England, it seems to be perfectly permissible to simply park on the road. This creates lots of one-way strips that aren't sign-posted. So, you've really got to work with oncoming drivers. People are incredibly polite about it all, of course. It all seems to work out, somehow, and has done for years and years.

But, to the American driver, it comes as a bit of a shock. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a single-track road, and at one point scraped the left-hand side of the car in the hedge that lines the way.

There's a lot of talk in Virginia about traffic circles, which I hope do come into play. But, I'm not sure Americans will be able to handle the concept of giving way. As this is my second trip, I'm an old hand at them now, though I do have to remember to think every second I'm driving. Being alert tends to pay off, especially when you're driving your ex-wife's car.

At the moment, I'm in Berkhamsted, sitting at a coffee shop called the Bloc. I'm at the intersection of the high street and the road to the train station. I'd say about 2,000 people have walked past me in the past hour and fifteen minutes I've been here. Everyone else is taking advantage of the day as well, though the light has already faded. The sun has already set, and the blue is giving way to a faded white, which will itself switch to an orange-tinted black before to long.

I've got one more night in Tring, and then it's back to Dunstable for the last three nights I have here. I'll be back in Charlottesville on Wednesday, and back to getting the business up, and back to the podcasting. I've done no work since I got over here. I had hoped to do a lot more, and I do have all day Monday to get on with it.

Tomorrow I take Henry to a birthday party, also here in Berkhamsted, very close to where Pippa's brother lives. That's going to be a very interesting experience. These glimpses I'm getting into his life are priceless. They can't build affordable teleportation devices fast enough.

Visiting the Tring Christmas Festival (formerly the Victorian Tring Fiesta)

The English will do just about anything in a cold, driving rain. The High Street in Tring was closed to traffic this evening for the Christmas Festival. That is when the lights are turned on, and a carnival breaks out. Henry and I left Pippa's flat at precisely 6:30, when the Festival was to begin. At the time, it wasn't raining, so I decided against taking the umbrella. I also did not put socks on Henry's hands as Pippa had requested, though I did put him in two pairs of socks as well as a wooly hat to go under his jacket's hoodie.

All day, Henry was incredibly excited. “I'm so excited,” he shook, as we passed by the library parking lot, where they were setting up the roundabouts and a carousel. He was so giddy, and all day he's been asking when he would get to go to the fair. I even used not-going as a threat when he refused to pick up his toys at about 4:30.

Even now as I sit down to write this, I can hear the sounds of the festival. You usually can't hear anything from this flat, which is on the Western Road, just before the roundabout (the traffic kind) which leads into town. The sounds are incredibly muffled, but I know something is going on out there. Henry and I had a good time, despite the rain which started as soon as we got to the other end of the High Street, where the second set of Tea Cups had been set-up.

During our first pass, the street was already filled with people, people who live here and belong here. Of course, now that I spend about two weeks a year here, I feel I sort of belong here as well. I did not feel any loneliness. After all, I had Henry's hand in mine, and that's something I can't say for at least 49 weeks out of the year.

The High Street sort of dips down until the middle, where Dolphin Square is. That's where a huge row of charity stalls were. Most of them seemed to offer nothing but useless tat, so we didn't bother stopping. Well, I didn't bother stopping. Henry was sort of overwhelmed by it all. Being just three, the world is still brand new to him, and he just wanted to take it all in. On the first pass down the street, he did not want to go on any of the rides. He would just shake his head quietly, and on the third time of me asking, he would let out a three syllable no.

Opposite the Rose and Crown was the stage, which was still being set up at 3:30 when we walked back from Tesco's. When we walked past three hours later, just before the rain began, a youth jazz ensemble was playing a selection of Christmas songs. Henry was mesmerized. I crouched down, and he sat on my knee. We listened to the band play for a few songs, as people pushed past us. Children smaller then Henry were moving around without their parents, so I told him he could go and play with them if he wanted. But, he held my hand tighter and decided to stick close to me.

I really can't tell if he knows me or wants me to be here or if he really knows me as Daddy. Part of that is my inability to believe that anyone really likes me. But, a lot of it is that I've not seen him for seven months until this trip. When I picked him up at nursery with Pippa, he beamed at me, and came right over and gave me a strong hug. He had grown so much. At three, he's already three-foot-six. He will dwarf me when he is an adult.

And, he will grow up in a culture so very different than the one I grew up in. There is no equivalent to what I experienced tonight in Virginia. Christmas parades in Virginia are likely the closest thing, but there's really no life to those. Parades are static things that you sit and watch. This was more of a surprise carnival, that just appears over night. In Charlottesville, Court Square has some sort of Victorian Night, which I'm sure stems from the tradition of these Christmas festivals. But, that wasn't quite the same as tonight's festival in Tring, which was absolutely manic. Rain would also have canceled an event like this, because who wants to go out in the rain?

Tonight in Tring the rain kept absolutely no one away. I remember six years ago, before Pippa and I had even gotten married, we went to the that Abba tribute band concert somewhere east of London, and it poured the entire time, and the crowds never let up. Sure, people complained, but that was only to make conversation. Everything operated as it would have. And, during both times, it was a cold, soaking rain. Not at all pleasant, but yet, people stick through it, they manage, it is their lives.

Eventually, I was able to coax him to go home, but not until he had won a toy lorry in the Hook a Duck contest. Made in China, it reads "Coa Cola" on the side.

11/23/2006

Television in Britain

So, I'm watching television in the Peterson's apartment. At the moment, I'm watching Al Jazeera in English. It's really good, at the moment. To be honest, I don't watch much television news, but I think because the news channels in the U.S. seem to treat international news like it is something that happens in 80 second increments. In fact, I just watched a segment on Fox News (it's over here, too, as is CBS News and CNBC and likely others) that was actually called "Around the World in 80 Seconds" and all of the news focused on light, fluffy pieces.

New Dehli TV, on the other hand, covered today's bombing in Sadr City with a graphic quality CNN isn't going to touch. Bodies being pulled from scorched minivans. What aren't we watching? What aren't we getting?

Now, I've got the Chinese channel on, in English, but I'm not really watching. As a journalist, I'm feeling much better about the trade, because everything I've watched in the past hour seems to be incredibly thoughtful, balanced, and not at all propaganda. Except for FOX News, which seems to think the world can be explained in 80 seconds.

The best bit so far was watching NDTV, which was telling me all about a water fight going on in India. The Indian Supreme Court just upheld a law that is pushing for a certain resevoir to be raised eight feet, which will flood several villages in Kerala. The local government is refusing to implement this new rule. Shouldn't we have some sense of what's going on out there? These local disputes are happening all over the world. I've never even heard of Kerala, nor any of the other cities that scrolled across the screen as I learned about the weather.

This is an amazing planet. Sometimes it takes getting outside of the United States to remember this. The guy next to me on the plane was heading to Andalusia for nine days to rest. London is filled with people from all over. They're not all evil. If there was some way of taking a gigantic poll of the world's citizens, you'd find that most people want the same basic things in life.

Yes, I know the argument - Americans are too busy to care about what happens in Kerala, Katmandu, or some other obscure place beginning with an N. But, that argument just sucks. I'm in no condition at the moment to really put forth an argument for why we should pay more attention to the world (thanks, John Smith Bitter!) but, like a guy who sits in his basement all day, we really need to get out more.

A bus ride filled with peril through the Downs

“You can get on, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get you up the Downs,” said the bus driver as I tried to purchase a single ticket on the 62 to Dunstable, where my aunt and uncle live. “There's been a serious road accident and the police aren't letting anyone through.”

I got on anyway. I had been waiting for the bus for 15 minutes. A taxi driver stopped and asked if I wanted to take a taxi. It would have cost twenty pounds for the ride. I told him I'd wait for the bus, but to check back in 30 minutes or so, just in case.

There were about a half-dozen teenage girls loitering about in the bus shelter, across from the Rose and Crown. The words coming out of their mouths would have made a sailor's mother invest in a soap factory. An older woman was waiting for another bus, which was also late, the 500 to Watford.

Thankfully, the bus arrived, and I got on, taking much too long to pay because I couldn't find enough change to pay the 2.70 for the ride. There were four or five other people on board, and one of the teenage girls got on as well. And, off we went.

The road that heads to Ivinghoe goes single-track when you get to this one block of flats, because everyone is parking directly on the road. There is nowhere else for them to park. No driveways. No parking lot behing the block of flats. So, with no solution, they make up their own. No one should really blame them.

The interior lights of the bus were fully blazing, making it impossible to see outside very well. So, all I could feel were the various jerks and starts as the bus rounded corners without seeming to slow down. I thought there might be a second accident. We drove through tiny villages, coming incredibly close to hitting various buildings. Very little clearance. Very little room for chance.

We got to the accident, and sure enough, the road was blocked off. It was in the country, no lights around except for epileptic blue.

“Looks like this is when we start playing 'Let's find Luton'”, shouted the bus driver. So, we started off down a single-track lane, on a huge bus, careering down even smaller passages. As we passed one pub, the people inside stared out at this bus, which really shouldn't have been speeding past their pub. I could see in, watching people play darts, barmaids pulling pints, logs crackling over a fire, meat pies being eaten. You know, England.

Thankfully, the driver was very good at playing his game, and country gave way to city, and the lights of shiny Dunstable began to come into focus. Again and again I heard the driver tell new passengers about the police lights and the accident. I recognized more and more pub names. The Bell. The Swan. The Five Bells. The Winston Churchill. And, it was outside the namesake of Britain's wartime prime minister that I got off the bus to walk back to the Peterson's house.

Of course, it was a really long walk, and I was carrying quite a bit, so I decided to get another taxi. 3.50 later, I was at the house, and was welcomed in by Jim, who seemed happy to see me, if only to tell me about the mess in the kitchen. They just purchased a new dishwasher, but to install it required moving the washing machine, and Jimmy explained the whole palaver to me. I sat in the lounge, and proceeded the long process of trying to fall asleep after being awake for 34 out of 36 hours.

On the whole, I'm happy to be here, though it's hard to be away from home for any amount of time when you've got a 13 month-old at home. But, as I type this, I'm waiting for my son to be dropped off by one of Pippa's friends. Jimmy drove me here this morning because I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it here. He works in Chesham now, and Tring is sort of on the way, but not really.

I can feel the inevitable cold coming on. Henry coughed right in my face yesterday. Maybe it was his way of giving me a little bit of a present?

The morning is allowing blue skies to poke through, which leaves me incredibly grateful. It'll be fun to take Henry out somewhere. He's talking so well now, and is a brick of a child. He's a big boy, takes after his mother. But, he's my boy, too, and we're going to have a great time today. I've got 11 hours until I have to catch the bus back to Dunstable.

11/22/2006

Greetings from a dingy Internet cafe in Heathrow!

For the next week, I'm in England on a trip to see my son. I'm hoping to blog about the experience.

Now I am off the plane. I've made my way through customs and baggage claim, along the Heathrow Express train, and am now sitting just outside the Underground station at a net cafe.

Sweating very much indeed. It's not that it's hot. It's just that I've lugged my luggage all across Heathrow. Now I am trying to learn this keyboard. I am going to have a cup of tea and sit here for the next hour or so, trying to kill time. And I'll write a bit, too, maybe.

I'm incredibly sweaty. It's a mixture of cold and hot. Someone wants me to be lukewarm, which is an appropriate way to think about it.

The plane was full. I sat in between people, which makes it hard to sleep. On my right was a very nice man who I chatted with for quite a while. I can't remember the details, but a lot of it had to do with with aging. On my left was a college girl who I didn't chat with as much. But, between the three of us, we were a bunch of dietary misfits. The girl was lactose intolerant. The man had celiac, so no gluten for him. I was the only one of us three choosing my diet, as I'm sure I could eat anything.

I could really go for a cheddar and pickle sandwich right out about now. And it's right behind me, as well as a ton of bottles of sodas, many of which we don't have in the U.S.

I did not sleep much on the flight. Maybe two hours. I'm going to crash at some point, but I don't have that as a luxury. It's going to be a bit of a while before I can crash. Right now, I want to rest up my strength before I go to the bus station to get my ticket to Hemel Hempstead.

There are so many details, so much that happens, so much water that falls from the sky, again and again and again. Can we collect it into a mighty river, to fuel oceans of narrative? What can we do to make it all worthwhile, to capture all of this, to make it into something to sustain us in the future?

I wrote in my journal at the bar last night, a place called Moe's. It was the only place at Dulles that had a nice vegetarian sandwich. A pretentious place, not that good. The flight was an hour delayed in leaving. But, I wrote at the bar, and a guy going to Indianapolis finally asked me after about an hour what I was writing, why I was writing.

"What do you do when you run out of pages," he said. I was happy to stop writing, so I struck up a conversation with him, drinking my tall Old Dominion Black and Tans. We talked about the football game that was on (Toledo vs Bowling Green) and about his trip. A woman eventually joined us in the conversation. She was from Albany, and was also on her way to Indianapolis.

"My sister is flying the entire family out to be there for Thanksgiving," she said. The sister is a doctor, and can afford it, and also can't get away. My brother is a restaurant manager, while my sister is a housewife just beginning to get back into the workforce. No one is flying me anywhere, except for my good friend Debt.

Because the flight was delayed, I had to close out my tab and check to make sure the flight was not boarding. None of the monitors reflected the delayed status. And, so I said goodbye to those going to Indianapolis, and went on to the gate. It wasn't boarding. So, I went back to Moe's, and they had already given last call, so no drink for me. It was only 9:30.

Except, I asked a woman in a brown casual suit if she knew if the flight was delayed, and she said she didn't know, but she'd check in with the Club World Lounge. She's a member, because she flies to England six times to work as a security consultant. Very classified stuff. So, she invited me in, and I got to see how the other half lives for a bit. It was very nice, indeed.

Then the plane finally boarded, and off we were, and here I am, killing time and drinking tea. Resting up a bit. Communicating. Blogging!

I must get on to other Internet business. I also wanted to make sure my sub for WNRN showed up (she did). So far, this whole WNRN business is causing me to embrace sleep deprivation. I'm on about two hours of sleep, and so far, the hallucinations are pretty mild. I keep imagining someone is sitting next to me. That could just be the fact that everything around here seems to be gray, metallic and wonderful.

Now, to retrieve my aunt's phone number... More later on this evening, once I'm settled in at Dunstable.

10/31/2006

Terry Gilliam on the Sound of Young America

Jesse Thorn continues to blossom into one of this country's most serious interviewers on the Sound of Young America. In recent weeks, he's had some really excellent interviews, and his chat this week with Terry Gilliam is absolutely top-notch. The conversation goes on for about forty minutes, and mostly focuses on Gilliam's latest film Tideland, which did not get good reviews. Gilliam very candidly discusses why this is the case, and at the end discusses how he's largely unbankable. Thorn's questions are intelligent, thought-provoking, and I feel like I've just eavesdropped on a chat between two colleagues.

Take a listen: (won't show up in Bloglines or in an aggregator)


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The Sound of Young America is a listener-supported podcast and independent radio production. Each week, Jesse Thorn talks with a couple of figures in the world of entertainment. This week also features a great conversation with Chris Elliot. Again, this is not a forced interview, and you'll hear things you're just not going to hear on any NPR program. Subscribe in iTunes for best results.

10/25/2006

WNRN, Gateway Virginia headlines

So, I'n currently up to four days reading the news at WNRN, and am temporarily filling in as the news director here. This is a great challenge, and one that I'm enjoying. Who knew getting up at 4:00 could be so exciting?

In any case, this means I have returned to the experiment of the Gateway Virginia headlines. This is a proposed blog and podcast to provide a quick daily briefing of the news in western and Central Virginia. I've been tweaking it for a couple of months now, and the beta test will now increase to at least four days a week. Consistency is crucial if this is to become a viable media outlet, or media sub-outlet, or whatever.

Here's today's installment.


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I'm looking for any and all feedback on this. I think this is a useful way to turn the work I do for WNRN into a podcast that could reach new audiences. I have to work on the delivery, and find the right pace, but I'm pleased that I can post these in a timely fashion. I have this done regularly by 6:30 AM.

We're also looking for news volunteers. If you'd like to learn how to read the news, please contact me and we'll get you trained.

10/22/2006

A one-way friendship between two cities

I've never been entirely impressed with the concept of the sister city, or "twinning" as its known in England. Charlottesville seems to have a lot of these arrangements, and it's supposed to be important, but the vast majority of us are never going to go to any of them. It's a nice gesture, kind of cute, but really, what's the point?

But, in any case, the English town of Bideford in Devon was recently visited by an enthusiastic man from Manteo, North Carolina. He arrived in the town hall bearing a nice present for the people of Bideford, proclaiming the two town's long history of friendship. The man believed the two places to be twinned.

As the Guardian reports, the Bideford town clerk knew nothing about it.

It was left to Bideford's town clerk, George McLauchlan, to break the news - after accepting a clock and other goodies marked with the Manteo logo - that he had never heard of the place. In fact, Bideford is twinned with Landivisiau in Brittany. The visitor was sent on his way to explain to his civic colleagues that Manteo's warmth towards Bideford was not reciprocated.

Mr McLauchlan said: "He seemed like a nice guy and gave me a clock. It was a very nice clock. I said thank you, but had to let him down gently. It seemed even more cruel not to. He seemed a little puzzled and said our name was on all their road signs. He said he was going home to look into it."


I wonder if such a thing has ever happened in Charlottesville. Do our "sister cities" even know we're here?

Update: I didn't even know that this was in the news recently! cvillenews.com has a discussion about Charlottesville's new relationship with Besançon, France.

10/15/2006

U.Va Law professor talks baseball

Part of what I do for a living is record audio at the University of Virginia for their podcast. There's some really amazing stuff available through this site. I've just realized that someone has submitted their feed to Odeo, which means I can just add a little embed code here to make the player work out.

Anyway, yesterday, U.Va Law Professor Ted White gave a talk called "Baseball at the Crossroads" in which he outlined all of the major problems facing the sport. First of all, kids aren't playing the sport like they used to. Second, the economic playing field favors large-market teams over small-market teams. And finally, the steroids crisis is seriously hurting the sport. White is the author of Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953.

This talk is part of the Provost office's More than the Score lecture series, held before every Saturday home football game. The very beginning of this talk features some information about the series, and White's talk is about five minutes in. Thanks to the player below, you can skip ahead.


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Take a listen. How do you think baseball will save itself? Will baseball be around in fifty years time?

10/12/2006

Live Arts Presents Helen of Troy

Last week my wife and I went to go see Helen of Troy at Live Arts. The next day, I interviewed Ronda Hewitt to find out more about the play, and just what it meant. You can take a listen below.


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My website, the Charlottesville Podcasting Network, is giving away two free tickets to the play, which runs in the UpStage theater through October 28th. How can you enter the contest? Well, take a listen, and then drop a line to contest@cvillepodcast.com with your name and phone number. We'll draw a winner on Monday.

10/08/2006

Saturday Night Live: Why Bother Anymore?

Sisyphus pushes that rock up that hill, hoping his task will be over once and for all. He struggles, and struggles, and struggles, and everytime, his strength collapses and the boulder escapes him, back to the bottom of the hill.

Twenty times a year, a group of men and women who we're told are talented do the same thing, trying to push the weight of a live television show up to the top of a hill in order to please us, to entertain us. But, something in the execution always escapes, and they never get up to the top of hill.

Yet, the metaphor could equally be written so that we are the ones pushing the rock up the hill, tuning in to this show to see if we will be pleased, if we will be entertained. Saturday Night Live is supposed to be the pinnacle of televised comedy, and we put it on our television screens in the hopes that it will work out, that we will see something majestic.

And it so seldom happens.

Tonight's episode is no exception. I can't believe that I keep tuning in, hoping for them to knock my socks off. This is supposed to be the best, but every week I'm reminded me that there are so many other people who deserve a shot at this show.

And yet, I keep watching, as a viewer, hoping they'll get to some sort of balance, that it will all work out. I had hoped with the shedding of dead weight with this year's cast, they would somehow manage to make it work.

Two episodes in, I don't think it's going to be the year. With two shows on NBC which expose how lame the show is, it definitely seems as if this isn't the year.

Even Weekend Update, which used to be worth watching, has been made absolutely irrelevant by the continued strength of the Daily Show, and the amazing rise of the Colbert Report. There's no sense of fun here, just the sense they think they have a birthright to funny, just because of the timeslot.

But, I'll continue to watch. Because, maybe next time, they'll get it right. That rock keeps on getting pushed.

10/04/2006

Last chance to support WNRN this morning

Okay, this is your last chance this fall to support the news on WNRN during the fall fund-drive. It would be awesome if we got a call or two from folks reading this blog who haven't made a pledge yet. I'm here until 9:00 AM this morning, and would love to hear from you. Call in at 979-0919. There's a bunch of great premiums available.

9/29/2006

Tenth Doctor debuts on Sci-Fi tonight

Now, I've already seen all of these before, but the second season of the new Doctor Who debuts tonight on Sci-Fi. This is the Christmas episode, which was on BBC1 last Christmas. Now, somehow, I've managed to see this one, and if you didn't like Christopher Eccleston's portrayal, I strongly recommend watching this to see what it's like when a Doctor regenerates. It doesn't always go well.

But, Tennant is really intriguing as the Doctor, and seems much more comfortable in the role then Christopher Eccleston. In this episode, the Christmas Invasion, he's mostly absent, recovering from the shock of absorbing the entire time vortex of the TARDIS. He's not well, and he's asleep for most of the episode. But, of course, Earth is invaded in a very interesting way, and will he save the day?

Tennant is probably only known to Americans in his role as Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I've never seen him in any other role, but last week I caught a glimpse of him on a show on BBC America. It was odd for me, because after watching all of Season 2, he IS the Doctor. He's roughly my age, and grew up watching the show just like I did. As tonight's episode progresses, he takes on the role and makes it his own.

Because of the way Russell T. Davies decided to reboot the show, we didn't watch Eccleston's regeneration. It happened off camera, which hasn't ever happened before. Even Paul McGann's transformation into the ill-fated FOX incarnation of the show was depicted. Eccleston was great in the role, but I feel many fans don't really accept him because of this oversight. I would have loved to have seen Eccleston do a second season, but he decided against it, didn't want to be typecast.

But, the transition from Eccleston to Tennant is beautiful, with the Ninth Doctor sacrificing himself to save Rose Tyler. I'd urge those who didn't immediately take a shine to him to tune in tonight. If you're new to the Doctor, this is a much better season to become acquainted. The Ninth Doctor was plagued with inner torment over his role in the end of the time war (which is all depicted in books), but the Tenth is reborn anew, and the next thirteen episodes after tonight show his evolution. By the end of this season, you'll see he takes his place in the pantheon of the Time Lords.

And yeah, it's cheesy, and it's British, but that's what makes it so damned good.

9/26/2006

Support WNRN - pledge tomorrow morning from 6 to 9

It's fund-raiser time again at WNRN. If you're thinking of supporting the station with a donation, consider doing so tomorrow morning between 6 and 9. That's when I'll be reading the news, and it would me ever-so-good if some of you would show your support while I'm on the air. Of course, the music during Acoustic Sunrise is first-rate, and the perfect blend to begin your day.

I've been reading the news since May, and it's been a great experience. I've had a real musical education working with Anne Williams, and I look forward to continuing this into the future. The Internet has brought us many more ways to listen to music, but there's nothing better then the radio to bring you something you've never heard before, with the context provided by someone whose job it is to scour the world for great tunes.

So, consider supporting tomorrow during fund-drive between 6 to 9 AM.

Ron Moore on The Sound of Young America

Jesse Thorn is America's Radio Sweetheart, and the host of a radio program called The Sound of Young America. Every week, he interviews someone responsible for something "awesome." I was first drawn to the show because of its tendency to talk about comedy, which I think doesn't get discussed as much as it should.

But, this week, he's interviewed Ron Moore, the co-creator of the new Battlestar Galactica, which is hands-down the most provocative show on television today. Here's the show, courtest of the odeo player.


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9/21/2006

Blogging from Spider City

Personally, I blog whenever I feel I have to confront a fear. Or at least, tell everyone how pathetically fearful of the world I can be.

I'm spending the day catching up on a lot of audio that needs to be produced. I've got an interview with Tim Westergren of pandora.com, as well as a feature for the Voice of America on the future of women's colleges. And, of course, a lot of other things as well.

My studio is a mess, usually, though I cleaned it up a little bit today. Just to the right of this keyboard is a mixing board, a small one that I use to manipulate various sound sources. Right now I'm listening to something from the Animal Collective.

Which is appropriate, because just now, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a wolf spider crawling on the little mixer, just creeping along. Though I'm a man in my thirties, the site of a spider is enough to make me jump. I know I'm perfectly safe, and that no harm can come to me. But, why do I still panic and shriek?

The poor thing sprinted off the mixer, past the stereo, down the filing cabinet, and into the baseboards somewhere. And I'm sitting here, scared it's going to come eat me.

I keep wondering when I'm going to grow up. This is one of those times.

9/06/2006

Dedication On the Tuesday Geoff Show

As I may have mentioned before, my favorite podcast is that of Virgin Radio's Geoff Show. They take their nightly broadcast and reduce it down to all the talking bits. And each night, they dedicate the show to someone who has requested it.

Well, my wife officially rocks, because she submitted one on my behalf, which woke me up this morning as I began work. Tune in, and this is pretty cool!

http://www.virginradio.co.uk/djsshows/shows/geoff/podcast.html

You'll have to grab the Tuesday September 5 show to hear this.

8/30/2006

Ruminations on podcasting

So, what is a podcast, anyway? Frankly, the term does more harm then good. It leads people to be confused about what the darned thing actually is. Everyone always says they've not done any podcasting because they don't have an iPod.

I've always thought of podcasting like a general word to describe several things, all of which are related. What do you think of when you think of the word "radio"? Are you referring to the device, the sound-waves, or the people talking or singing through the little speaker? All three uses would be useful.

That's how I think of podcasting, or have thought of podcasting to this point. But, I've gotten in several heated arguments about this, because the term is meeting with a lot of resistance. People tell me an mp3 on a website is not a podcast. When I try to explain that it could be seen that way, they get angry.

Or they tune out, which is even worse.

In the weeks to come, I hope to clear up some of the language on my site, which is much more than a podcast. Sure, there's an RSS feed you can use to synch programs to your mp3 player. But, I find most people access the files by accessing through the website. Or, through embedded players on other sites like the one you see to your right. (courtesy of Odeo).

These might be thought of as two separate audiences, in terms of how they actually access the material, and where. I've sloppily called both of them podcasts, because that's how I think of it. I take the POD to mean "personal on demand" which may be cheesy, but more accurately reflects how I personally conceive of podcasting. Somewhere in here is a disconnect that must be resolved.

A major media executive in town told me last year that if my venture was going to be successful, I would need to follow human behavior. It's not easy to create a new media environment, but I am confident people are moving to the Web for how they get their media. Not just text, but audio and video. The key is to create content that entices people to pick up a new habit.

So, back to the point of this post. Am I truly a podcaster, or something else? At the heart, I'm a believer in the public's need to hear from newsmakers in the raw. I'm a believer in people knowing what's going on in the towns and communities around them. I've been producing features and news stories for radio for ten years or so. What I do now is just an extension of the same thing. I identify myself as an audio producer.

As I've blogged before, there's nothing more exciting than actually being live on the radio, using a medium that has a fairly long history. Generations now about the radio, and it's easy to use. But, it's only easy to use because you're used to it.

I believe people will get used to Internet radio, or podcasting, or "MP3 files uploaded to servers" (as one wag on a board where I post puts it). My job in part is to help people figure it out. My job is to create stories that engage people, and provide services that people will become to rely on.

I'll conclude this entry with one philosophical exercise. My wife sent me a link to podcast I've never heard before. She found it through Bloglines, and at first the link seemed to be broken. Eventually I found the blog for "The Best Podcast You Have" and noticed they don't have an audio player in their entries. For them, it's download or bust.

When faced with the whole "How do you get people to subscribe" question, these folks simply pass it off to feedburner. And just look at the options! Click that one button to subscribe to that podcast in your iTunes, your Yahoo player, whatever. To me, it can't be any easier.

But, most people aren't me.

So, the questions prompted by this exercise:

Are there simply too many choices to expect a large audience for Internet audio in 2006? Are potential users who might enjoy the content be getting confused? Will the local news portals become a mass-media, or simply remain a niche for those in the know? Will Vista increase the popularity and use of RSS? How will this all look in five years?

8/29/2006

500 posts on Charlottesville Podcasting Network

I don't want to disrupt the normal cycle of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network, so I'll just announce here that I've just posted the 500th post to that site. The numbers have gone up to about seven podcasts a week since we began providing audio archive editions of WINA's Charlottesville--Right Now with Coy Barefoot. We've also continued producing features, as well as providing platforms for other area podcasts such as The Food Geek and Gentech.

Of course, there's also WNRN's Sunday Morning Wake-Up Call, which was the very first radio program we began offering up as a podcast. That led to me working for WNRN as a news reader every Tuesday and Friday, something that's revitalizing my desire to work as a news reporter. In the fall, I'm hoping to redouble my efforts to produce more pieces for Virginia public radio stations.

So, you may ask how it's gone so far. Have I met my goals? Have I been successful? I've certainly had some media exposure, and I've been able to make a small living after Court Square Tavern closed. I'm doing work for the University of Virginia and I've established a marketing agreement with the Daily Progress. I'm certainly not lighting cigars with burning twenty dollar bills, but the work has been interesting, and it's certainly been fun being part of something new.

And speaking of something new, I'm rolling out a daily podcast fairly soon featuring regional headlines. I feel you can never have too media outlets, and that there's room for an online newscast. Of course, this project will require some capital and an underwriter, and that's what I'm working on at the moment.

There's so much I'd like to do, and I'm limited in what I can do by the needs of my family. At some point soon, I'm going to have to reevaluate everything I have been doing, and see what's going to work out best for us long-term. I'm confident it will all work out, but what's it all going to look like?

8/23/2006

Nielsen: We're number #182

According to Nielsen, Charlottesville has moved up three spots to become the 182nd television market in the country. In case you're keeping score, that's because we've got 83,850 "TV homes" in the area. Harrisonburg is the 181st market, with 87,630 television homes.

I wonder what Doc Multimedia will think of this, and if it will help him get his desired HD?

8/18/2006

The end of the summer

How can it possibly be August 18th, with students expected to descend on town tomorrow morning? Where did this summer go? It seems like I just recorded U.Va's graduation ceremonies.

For that matter, where's the whole year gone? In about five minutes I'll be writing about how I can't believe it's Christmas.

Is there a way to stop time, or at least, to slow things down a bit? Perhaps a way to pluck the strings of reality a little bit differently then we're used to? When I work the morning news shift at WNRN, I definitely feel very different. Waking up at 4:00 just adds five hours to my day, because I certainly don't get any more sleep. And now that I'm doing it twice a week (Tuesday and Fridays!) I wonder if I should readjust my life and just decide to wake early every single day.

Now I'm talking crazy.

But yes, the end of the summer, but of course, it's going to be warm for a while. While I walked my dog the other day I noticed all sorts of yellow and brown leaves on the sidewalk. This week's cooler temperatures have been very welcome. The beginning of the college football season makes me happy. The return of my favorite television shows is something to look forward to. I'll be going to England in late October and early November. So, there's a lot to look forward to.

There's also more podcasts to look forward to, but there's also the business to maintain. My daughter will mark her first birthday, and I'll curse our oak-tree laden back yard.

What has your biggest accomplishment been this summer?

8/17/2006

Law and Order: Special Letters Unit

So, I have a tenth-month-old daughter. She's awesome. Anyone who doesn't have kids, I want to say, don't worry: It's great fun when they start learning how to speak. Josephine can utter certain phonemes which do represent things in the real world. Watching a human being learn to speak is fantastic.

And, I am anticipating that watching a human being learn to read will be just as amazing and fantastic. So, as a public service, I want to announce something.

Sesame Street has my vote as an absolutely cool television program.

Now, now. Most people think Elmo has killed the show. Joel Stein even takes it task in a recent article. He quotes the creators of Wonder Showzen as saying "Elmo doesn't grow. People show him something and he laughs. He doesn't learn a lesson."

And, okay, on that basis, yes, the show seems to be produced at a lower level of quality then when I was a toddler in the mid 70's. My dad used to brag that the show helped teach me how to pick out letters before I was 3. I could read pretty well before 5. My sister is the real one who did most of the heavy-lifting. But, Sesame Street made it seem real.

And so, I was quite surprised when I learned through TVSquad that Sesame Street's debut featured a parody of Law and Order's Special Victims Unit. An odd choice, as many have said, but yet, it's kind of cool to watch. I love how all the in-jokes are in theme. The Mallard, Murray the Cow, for instance.

Here's the show:



Television is inevitable with children. It was with me. I loved this stuff when I was a kid. Mid-70's Sesame Street and the Electric Company filled me with a sense that language was playful, and rules of language were to be taken with a grain of salt. This video from Sesame Street reminds me of the best approach to teach words and language - through making it silly.

There will no doubt be a lot of flack that a show like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit should not be referenced to on a show like Sesame Street. But, should we really think five year olds are going to seek out a 10:00 program?

As an aside, YouTube is the best thing to happen to an old nostalgic like me. Check out this clip from classic Sesame Street. I don't consciously remember this, but watching it kind of made me tear up for my lost childhood.

8/03/2006

Three weeks gone by?

How did three weeks go by since the last post? For the life of me, I am a little unclear of how that happened, exactly. This entire summer is almost over, and of course, I'm wishing it will be soon because I'm ready for sweaters and jeans once more.

I'm also ready for Court Square Tavern to re-open. I'm torn between working there and working there again. On the one hand, I'd like to be there for grand re-opening, but on the other, I've done okay without it, financially.

But, really, three weeks since a post. On here, at least. I'm posting several things a day to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network site. But, nothing here.

Part of this is because adding WNRN to my work week has sped things up. I've been reading the news once a week, but for three out of the past four weeks I've gone up to two days a week. This has meant rethinking my work week. It doesn't pay very much at all, but it has begun to take up a lot more of my time.

July was not a heavy month for me getting stories on WVTF. I've mostly spent my work weeks working on Reunions Weekend 2006 material for the University. I've also been thinking of new ideas for how to shape the CPN site into something that allows for the influx of new material we've had. Since Monday, there are ten new podcasts. You can check many of them out in the Odeo player just to your right.

Or take a look here:

A review of Clerks 2 by Ian Solla Yates on WNRN's 91 Seconds on Film
The Urinetown Trailer from Johnny St. Ours, produced for Live Arts
Mohamed Yahwa of the Darfurian advocacy group Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, courtesy of WINA's Charlottesville--Right Now
A growth update from Brian Wheeler of Charlottesville Tomorrow (CRN)
Delegate Brian Moran on transportation funding (CRN)
Jackson Landers of Rule .303 (CRN)
GenTech #4: Voice over IP and instant messaging by Steve Whitaker
Podcast2.0 show#2: Revisiting the Key Question
Bill Emory on the Woolen Mills neighborhood (CRN)
Coy Barefoot interviews Dr. Richard Deth about the mysteries of autism (CRN)

7/15/2006

Pedaling my way towards biking

Last night, I rode downtown from our house to pick up our second car, which we had left on the street. The wife and I had both driven there, and I drove us both back in her car. I was there within twenty minutes, and was amazed at how easy it was, with all the bike lanes and everything. I think as the price of gas continues to rise that we'll be doing that much more often.

The above paragrpaph, though, is a just a way of giving a promo for a radio programme the BBC will air on Monday, and will stream through the website. You can also listen again. I thought folks might be interested in knowing about it.

The Fall and Rise of the Bicycle, 9.00-9.30pm (4 to 4:30 EST)
New series. Mark Stephen explores the bicycle in three very different cultures. He meets cyclists in Namibia, China, Denmark and London, and finds out why the bicycle is of pivotal importance to the future health of the planet.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/fallandriseofthebicycle/pip/ehip5/

7/12/2006

Post World Cup Blues

I was talking to a friend on IM tonight, and we were both really missing the World Cup. He's decided to play in an amateur league, and I'm watching D.C. United beat Celtic from the Scottish Football Association. D.C. is winning, 4-0, and I'm able to watch it on television while I do write some correspondence. So what if it's Celtic's second team?

I watched at least part of almost every one of the sixty-four matches in the World Cup. I've been sad that the tournament is over, but here I am, making potential plans to go to D.C. this Saturday to watch a Major League Soccer game. Sure, it's not nearly as interesting as the World Cup, but I think I'm hooked as a spectator.

I've always assumed that U.S. soccer would bore me, because of the overemphasis on the MLS, which doesn't feature enough teams to be interesting. I'm entranced by this match with Celtic, because it is an international match, even though it is a friendly.

And, I've just discovered the existence of the U.S. Open Cup Championship, which sounds pretty neat.

The reason baseball bores me to tears is because it is the same thing year after year after year. There is nothing in the dynamic of the sport to encourage lower-tier teams to do anything but just sit there. Though there is a lot more parity in American football, you still have the same teams over and over again. Wouldn't it be great if American sports leagues took up the idea of relegation?

7/11/2006

An update

So, I read this week that Dave Winer is no longer going to blog. Also, Waldo Jaquith seems to have cut back. What are we to make of this? Is anyone declaring that blogging is dead?

Well, this here blog has been dead, mostly because it is such a low priority, given everything that I'm involved with. I also keep myself from writing most of the things that spring into my mind. It was my original plan to blog about all the World Cup matches I watched. But, I soon stopped when I realized I couldn't keep up and do the bare minimum I needed to do to keep food on the table. The inertia of not posting anything was too hard to overcome, so I didn't even write a preview of my thoughts on the final!

Truth is, I don't really see this blog as a conduit for information. I'm not sure what I wee it as. I could promote various podcasts I enjoy listening, but I don't think anyone would be much interested. I could promote my own podcasts, but that's what the Charlottesville Podcasting Network is for. I'd like to be consistent, so I consistently don't post these types of things.

Yet, I am not going to give up the blog, and will continue posting at an incredibly slow rate as the mood strikes me. This white box I'm typing in is like a room in the house that I seldom visit. I always mean to decorate it up, but there are just other places to be.

Right now the place where I am is WNRN, where I'm reading the news. I've moved to Tuesdays now, and the adjustment to live radio is still proving to be a challenge. People who have heard my work on WVTF or WCVE might notice I seldom stumble. That's because everything I do for them is produced before it airs, so I get the chance to read the copy multiple times.

But during the 6:20 newscast, one stumble caused me to muck up the rest of the reading. I had rushed through the copy when I went to rehearse it, so when the pot was open, I felt like a bit like Barbaro. Thankfully, corrective advice from Anne Williams helped me get it right at 6:40. But what about 7:00?

I am hoping to use this experience at WNRN to produce a daily podcast of headlines and news. I feel people should have more ways of getting information, and that a podcast may be one to just that. As always, I'm looking for volunteers who might be interested in being part of such a project.

But much more importantly, I want to hear from you. Do you feel informed about local news? What would you like to see or hear when it comes to the news? How do you define "the news" anyway? Let's get a discussion of this going, either here, or on a local forum such as hooville.net.

Time for the 7:00 news. Let's hope I don't remember that I have a stutter.

7/06/2006

The White Rabbit

We were outside sitting on the porch at Monsoon for dinner this evening. We had just come from the 30th anniversary celebration of the mall. Suddenly, a flash of white light appeared from the bushes lining the steps of the McGuffey Art Center. This large white rabbit flopped out, and proceeded to eat the grass.

We were a bit alarmed. It looked like a loose pet, and this one dog had come barrelling towards it, but it was thankfully more interested in another dog which was actually on a leash.

As we ate, we kept tabs on the rabbit. We told the waitress, who didn't know what to do, but joined us in keeping an eye on Fluffy. I called a friend who does some work at the McGuffey, but he didn't know anything about a white rabbit.

We paid up, and I decided to go take a look. Our friend Todd stopped by to watch me, and called me a would-be "rabbit whisperer" and sure enough, the rabbit eventually came to my hand. It has tiny little ears, and seemed tame as anything.

As I was stopped down, a woman came up behind me with her two kids and asked me what I was doing. I said I was trying to figure who this rabbit belonged to. She said it was hers, and that she had let it graze on the McGuffey lawn while she and her kids were on the wall. She said it was an "indoor/outdoor" rabbit, which I'd never heard of before.

She looked a bit suspicious, and seemed mad when she couldn't get the rabbit to come to her. We walked off, more than a bit puzzled.

6/24/2006

World Cup: Round of 16 predictions

So, we're at the important part now, where a loss sends a team home. This makes me very nervous about England. Ecuador could knock them out in tomorrow's match.

Not that any of it matters, though. Germany is playing better than anyone else. They seem to really be enjoying themselves, and are taking their time with opportunities. Rather than taking quick shots on goal when they reach the box, they wait a second, protect the ball, and make something happen. This relaxation could be because of they're playing at home, but it could just be because they're so damned good.

Argentina v Mexico is this afternoon. That should be a fantastic match, and I'd have to pick Argentina to win. Mexico didn't play nearly as well in the group stage, and Argentina has a crop of really talented men. I just hope it'll be a good game.

So, England and Ecuador tomorrow. The loss of Michael Owen puts a lot of pressure on Peter Crouch to perform, and frankly, England just hasn't played too well. Rooney is playing with passion, when he plays, but I worry he's going to get injured, especially if that passion turns to frustration if they wind up down against Ecuador.

Tomorrow's other game is Portugal vs the Netherlands. I pick the Dutch, who are playing incredibly well. But, really, I'm no expert.

Monday we've got Italy and Australia and Switzerland vs the Ukraine. I'd really like Australia to win. Jon Stewart described them this week as "the drunken us" which is appropriate. I hope Ukraine can beat the Swiss, as this is their first World Cup, and it's always nice to see a new team go far.

On Tuesday, Brazil will play Ghana in what I predict will be one of the most entertaining matches of this stage. Brazil should cruise to an easy victory, but wouldn't it be great if Ghana pulled out an upset? Ghana played very well against the United States on Thursday, and I'd like to see them go far. Good thing I'm not a betting man.

The second game on Tuesday sounds more like a 16th century war than a Round of 16 match. Spain versus France. Spain should win easily. They're playing well, though I don't know if they can beat Brazil. But more on the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Finally, I have to plug what has become my favorite podcast. Baddiel and Skinner's World Cup Podcast
follows two English comedians as they attend the World Cup. There are some brilliant bits in it, most notably when Morrisey and Bing Crosby make appearances. As I'm rooting for England, this has become necessary listening.

So, what do you think?

6/22/2006

Podcasting through Odeo experiment

Please bear with me, readers of this entry. I am very curious to try out some of the embedding tools that are available in Odeo, and similar podcast sites. The audio below is from something that I posted to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network a few weeks ago. It's Live Arts' announcement of its upcoming season.


powered by ODEO

I think for podcasting to work, it will become necessary for producers to make it as easy as possible for people to share the audio. Each piece of audio needs to be in as many different places as possible.

I'm not about to cross-post everytihng I do, but I may begin using this blog to highlight podcasts I thought were worth listening to. I may even relay some experiment podcasts through here. Stay tuned.

Honest Thoughts on U.S. Match

We're not doing very well in this game. The one real chance we had, we messed up because Landon Donovan's kick went in the opposite direction of the goal. And, we only scored because Claudio Reyna let Ghana Dramani take the ball off of him.

We have all of these great set-ups, but nothing seems to come of them. We're not playing awful, but we're certainly not playing as desperately as we need to. We need to be playing much more like we have nothing to lose, because, we have nothing to lose.

Now Reyna is out, which causes me to make this bold prediction: His absence will help us get at least one goal, but maybe not two. Claudio Reyna is over-rated. Now, can Landon Donovan be a good captain and bring victory to our side?

Stay tuned.

World Cup at the Halfway Point

Okay, it's getting a little ridiculous now, working between games. It's a bit better this week, with all of the final games of the first round being played at the same time, so there are only two World Cup slots each day to work around.

Of course, today is the big day. The United States can get through with a little help from Italy, and with some actual scoring. We have got to score today, which will be tough. Ghana can also get through with a win, so they're going to play hard as well, but that could open up defensive holes for us to play through. But, Ghana is going to want this game possibly more than we do.

Although, as Stephen Colbert said last night (with help from Alexei Lalas) "Ghana, you're not 'ghana' win!"

I think I may have to take tomorrow off, because I have got to catch up on work!

6/21/2006

Live Action Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers is firmly entrenched into my psyche. I spent a good chunk of the late 80's playing the game. It's nice to know I'm not the only, as evidenced in this skit from Gordon College in Massachusetts.




(the above should work - this is an experiment)

6/13/2006

US: Not all hope is lost

Okay, I might have said "not all hope is lost" after the U.S. team lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic. Teams have been known to come back from such a stinging loss. But, then, Italy beat Ghana 2-0, which gives Italy an edge and forces us to beat them on Saturday. And then, Ghana will be playing to save face for all of Africa. So far, none of the African teams have managed a win.

That was just an ugly match, but it's not done anything to dampen my World Cup spirit. I'm really enjoying watching this tournament unfold. I'm glad to be watching Brazil and Croatia place. ESPN2 televised the entire opening ceremony for the match, something they've not done yet. Also in Group F play, yesterday's Australia-Japan match is what I needed to remember that things can turn around fast in this game. Australia's three rapid-fire goals felt great to watch.

I loved the Togo-South Korea match today. Though they got beat, Togo showed heart and managed a nice goal. It was very exciting to watch. Switzerland-France was kind of boring. I left with ten minutes left in the match in order to hear to an interview assignment for WVTF. Given the way France and Switzerland played today, I wouldn't be surprised if South Korea can win this group.

Also today, I caught more of the Adidas commercial, but was busy working, so I couldn't pay attention.

6/12/2006

World Cup thoughts before the US Match

Fourth day of the World Cup. I've caught most of each match, but missed Sweden and Trinidad/Tobago. So far, the most exciting part of any of the matches for me has been the Australia-Japan match. Japan took an early lead on that controversial goal, but Australia kept up the attack. Tim Cahill came off the bench and scored two beautiful goal.

As Jim Duncan said to me in an e-mail, England and Paraguay were kind of boring. England has to play better, but their group seems a lot tougher now that it is clear Trinidad is not a pushover. If anything, this World Cup seems to be showing an awful lot of parity amongst the 32 teams. But, England has to play better.

Of course, we've not seen Togo yet, and Ivory Coast seemed more than a bit week. Portugal got what seemed to be a fairly easy victory over Angola on Sunday, but that was just because they scored in the first four minutes, and Angola could never recover.

Mexico and Iran were a good match to watch. Mexico overpowered Iran in the end, but Iran's play seemed sharp.

After all the hype over the weekend, it seems the U.S. may have a shot. I've not expected much, but that could be because I'm scared they'll have a disastrous World Cup, like they did in 1998. That year, I was in a bar in New Hampshire watching them play Iran in group play, and the bartender turned the match off when the U.S. began to lost.

In any case, 36 minutes away. I was hoping to go to a bar to watch the match, but I'm not sure if I'll make it as of this writing. Four years later, I have children, which changes quite a lot, doesn't it? Yet, it doesn't quell the fever...

6/09/2006

World Cup Day One Over!

Well, I caught the first half of Germany v. Costa Rica, but the second half did not record properly. Our VCR is in need of repairs, or we're in need of buying a new one.

But, I managed to watch most of Ecuador v. Poland, a somewhat lackluster match, with two easy-looking goals for Ecuador. The second one was a total giveaway, which makes you wonder how Poland qualified. Still, the second match was infinitely more fun to watch because Tommy Smyth was the color man. How I miss the goal being described as "the old onion bag!"

Final comments for the day. I love the Adidas commercial with the two kids in what appears to be a South American slum picking their top world players. It's really quite lovely. However, I hope they actually show the match by the end of the tournament, because this is one commercial that's going to get old fast.

World Cup Kicks Off! Germany V. Costa Rica underway

I'm actually beginning this post ten minutes before the start of World Cup. I've been listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, listening to commentary about the Germany v. Costa Rica match that kicks off the month-long event. In an alternate future, I would be living in the U.K. right now, but I'm not. I'm in my basement studio, watching the tail end of Cold Pizza. It would be nice if ESPN had some sort of preview going on for the event, but you take what you get, right?

Oh wait! Eight minutes in, they cut away from the recorded show to have a little bit of American perspective. In one ear, BBC explaining what's going on in detail, and in the other, three American commentators explaining at a very basic level what's going on. I don't mind the disparity. The great thing about the World Cup is that it's about the entire world taking part in one event. There's nothing else like this. I'm actually sort of happy that American sports media doesn't pay too much attention to it.

I'm hoping to watch as many of the 64 matches as possible. I'm going to watch the first half of Germany v. Costa Rica, and tape the rest, because I foolishly took a reporting assignment for today. Shouldn't the entire world stop for this?

What I would like to do is find others in Charlottesville who are following the World Cup. There doesn't seem to be any online community to talk about these matches. Maybe we can create one? Create a blog or a space on hooville.net or something?

The two teams I'm following at this moment are the U.S. and England. I'd like to see someone other than Brazil take the whole thing.

ESPN is having technical issues already. Marcelo Balboa is a very scary looking man. I hope he's a good commentator. I hope Seamus is back!

Here it comes! Will Costa Rica surprise Germany? It's a national holiday in Costa Rica, I've just been informed. I'm so excited! And it's off!

Jim Duncan is also wondering where we'll all go to watch the matches.

6/06/2006

Almost back home at Court Square Tavern

I was looking for a parking space downtown on Tuesday so I could go to the bank to drop off all my hard-earned podcasting money. Fifth Street was blocked by a truck carrying some sort of insulation. But, I didn't mind, because workmen were carting off the material into my bar!

I stopped and had a look. The place looks surprisingly like it used to now that all the soot and grime has been cleared away. The bar has been pulled away, and all the kitchen equipment is gone. It felt good to stand on the terrazo, and it's going to be good to pull beers again there.

When I asked the workmen if I could come in, one of them said "Sure, but there's no beer here yet!" That's okay, though. I was just happy to be back in the space, even if for just a quick minute or so.

5/31/2006

Doing the news on WNRN

So, this is my second week reading the news on Wednesday mornings for WNRN. I've been up since 4:00 AM, and know more about the world then I usually do before this time of day. The idea is to develop three sets of three stories each, to be read every twenty minutes. For me, the process is exhilirating, and gives me new appreciation of what news actually is.

Though I've worked in public radio off and on since 1995, I've never actually done a live news shift. I have hosted WVTF's Evening Edition a couple of times, and stumbled quite badly under the spotlight of the old "kidney room" studio. I knew the topic for each show backwards and forwards, but I need a script in front of me when the microphones are opened up. I stuttered, stammered, and stumbled, panicking on live radio, forgetting to breathe! And, you can't do that.

This new experience at WNRN is even more challenging, because I don't get a second chance to improve a take. If I stumble, I get called on it. And that's such a good thing, isn't it? And boy, are there stumbles!


Today, I didn't do so badly. I read the copy pretty well, and managed to not sound too cheery and chipper while reading stories about death and destruction.

The shift is now over, and it's back to the usual workday.
Tune in next Wednesday, starting at 6:00 AM, to see how I do, and if I'm improving. I'm afraid there will still be stories about death and destruction, though.

5/19/2006

Pabst Blue Ribbon to sponsor NPR programming

Pabst Brewing Co., makers of the bargain beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, is underwriting on NPR. Pabst, a brand not immediately associated with NPR’s high-falutin’ reputation, is sponsoring broadcast programming and NPR’s online music series “All Songs Considered.”


This is interesting. I've recently had to switch to PBR, not because its hip in this town, but because I can't afford the beer I'd like to drink!

WINA radio appearance today

I'll be Coy Barefoot's guest for the 4:15 to 4:30 segment of WINA's Charlottesville--Right Now this afternoon. If you've always wanted an explanation of podcasting, tune in, or listen to the podcast when it's posted later on this weekend.

5/18/2006

Jim Duncan on this Sunday's Wake-Up Call on WNRN

This Sunday morning at 11:00, Jim Duncan will be one of the guests on WNRN's Sunday Morning Wake-Up Call, along with Matt Hodges of Compass Home Loans. In addition to talking about the current state of the local and regional real estate market, Jim and Matt will also be answering questions about buying and selling homes. If you're getting ready to purchase, this is a great opportunity to ask Jim a question.

If you miss the show, you can always get the podcast from the Charlottesville Podcasting Network or subscribe to the show for free in iTunes.

5/14/2006

The joys of an undiscovered Monty Python record!

These days my time-killing habit of choice is to look up articles on Wikipedia. I'll spend hours looking up my interests. I've learned more than I ever need to learn about the lineage of certain video games. I recently looked up the digestive process because despite being 32, the whole thing is a bit of a mystery to me. But, today, all this rooting around on the site led to a piece of absolute gold.

Yes, I've discovered a Monty Python album I've never heard before. The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album, which has never been released, but is available online. It consists of material that never made it anywhere else. Last night, I watched a couple of episodes of Flying Circus, so it was on my mind. I'm so happy these are being shown over the air again.

One reason I'm so enchanted by radio are the Monty Python albums. My dad had an LP of the Holy Grail album. When I was six and learned how to use the record player, I listened over and over. This was in the days before the VCR, so there was no chance of me actually seeing the film. I don't think my parents realized I listened to it so much, given that there were swear words on it.

I picked up a cassette of the The Contractual Obligation album when I was 11 or 12, and listened to it over and over again. This is the one that's mostly singing, but there's an absurdity to it that perhaps explains why I'm such a contrarian, why I insist on confusing people when I should be courting their favor. I've lived a life of contradictions, self-imposed paradoxes, reveling in obscurity and afraid of the scrutiny that comes with attention.

During the heydey of Napster, I sought out other Monty Python albums. There aren't many, but they were not very easy to find living in Lynchburg. In college, of course, I pretended I had outgrown all of that, when in fact, I became more of a Firesign Theater kind of person. The two groups have a lot in common, though to me, Firesign only had a small window in which they were any good. Python had a built-in quality control meter in John Cleese, who stopped performing when he felt the material was feeling tired. This was the man who knew to quit after two series of Fawlty Towers, and who walked away from the Flying circus in the last year. Eric Idle, on the other hand, has always sought to make as much money as he could off of the legacy of the group, most successfully with Spam-a-lot, which I thought might have been okay, until I heard the album on Rhapsody. Recycled material.

But, hearing this undiscovered (to me, at least) album is such a nice thing to have happened today. There's actually a treasure trove of stuff on this site, and I'm going to dip into it sparingly. There will never be any new Python material, just as there will never be another good Terry Gilliam film. That time is over.

Am I guilty of dipping too much into the well of nostalgia? What becomes of all of this looking back? There's a lot of great comedy on BBC Radio 4, but what about in this country? Who are the great comedians who can make a proper go of it in audio only?

5/10/2006

Out of the baseball loop

I don't know why, but I've not given a fig about baseball this year. I don't know if it's because I'm busy getting the business off the ground, or if I'm paying more attention to my family, or if it's because the whole Barry Bonds situation makes me ill. Or, maybe it's because I'm planning on spending all my sporting energy this year on the World Cup.

But, tonight, I see the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 14 to 3. The New York Times reports that Randy Johnson had an embarrasing outing, being taken out in the fourth. "Today it looked like I didn't have a clue out there," Johnson told the Times.

I'm embarrased to find out that Josh Beckett is a member of the Red Sox. I didn't know that. When Johnny Damon became a Yankee, I stopped paying attention. I have no geographic claim on the Red Sox save for a couple years spent in New England in my twenties, but they've always seemed like the team I ought to root for. I was so impressed with Beckett in the 2003 World Series, and this is the kind of thing that makes me want to pay attention again. Anytime the Yankees get spanked makes me happy.

Of course, really paying attention to baseball will have to wait until July. As I said, I'm sickened by the whole Barry Bonds situation, and his unwillingness to admit he's juiced.

5/05/2006

Trivia for the Porter Goss Announcement

CIA Director Porter Goss resigned today, and I wanted to share a small piece of trivia. Goss was in attendance at last week's unveiling of James Madison's Montpelier, which I thought was fairly odd. I edited the bit out where John Warner made a joke about him being in the countryside, but if I get a request, I'll look for the sound bite.

4/24/2006

91 Seconds on Film

I don't often use this blog to write about what I do on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. I keep it separate, which mostly means nothing gets written on it. So, today, I thought I would just write up a little blurb on one of the podcasts we feature on the site.

We've been providing downloadable film reviews from WNRN's 91 Seconds On Film for almost a year now. We publish them to the CPN feed, as well as to a separate podcast feed just for the reviews. Each review is about 90 seconds long, and provides an insightful look at a film playing in the area. The reviews run each Thursday and Friday on WNRN, and are then posted to CPN. As these are small files, they tend to get more downloads.

They're quick and easy to, and often tell you more in 90 seconds if there's anything to what's going on. A crew of regular critics contribute to the series. With films easily available through Netflix and other DVD mailing services, there's always a market out there for reviews. I would love it if there were an easy way to allow users to post these on their blog or their myspace site. I'd also love for there to be a way for people to use this file when they want to tell their friends they want to go see the movie.

I am looking for a better way to implement this service, because so far, it's not been that easy to keep up with. I am looking for a volunteer to assist with the 91 Seconds on Film section of CPN, as well as volunteers to help in any section of the site. Please send me an e-mail if you're interested.

In the mean-time, here's a link to the newest installment. Kate Ludwig reviews Ice Age 2, which is now playing at the Carmike 6.

4/08/2006

PodBop - promising customized music podcasts

WebProNews reports that a new site called PodBop makes it easier to know what's going on musically in your community. Shel Holtz says he thinks applications like this will help increase the number of people using podcasts.

But, it's going to take work on the part of club owners, musicians and listeners to make this kind of thing work. A PodBop search on Charlottesville turns up nothing, but a search for Richmond pulls up mp3s from acts soon to appear at Alley Katz. This is a great idea, but there are so many great ideas out there and only so much time.