McNeely Mountain

I spent my 8th consecutive Thanksgiving in Knoxville.  What am I saying?  I’m still here.  We’re still eating good food and laughing belly laughs.  This is my favorite holiday for the simple reason that it’s so easy to do: show up, sit down, enjoy. Eight years ago, the McNeely family opened their home to a rag-tag bunch of grad students from UT.  Their daughter was a classmate of mine, and she invited us and some friends who couldn’t make it back home for the holiday to her parents place out in the hills of East Tennessee.  It was like being a kid again.  There was a table that evening for adults, and a table for grad students.  For the three years I lived in Knoxville, it just made more sense to go join friends at McNeely manor than to drive the 10-12 hours to my folks’ place. The following years I moved out of Knoxville and lived in Michigan, right down the road from my parents, so I saw them often.  And when thanksgiving arrived, I decided that I needed to take the time to visit my friends who still lived in Knoxville.  So I went to the McNeely’s again. That was a hard decision, but I’m glad I did it. And then I moved to North Carolina.  It turns out that my friend from UT, young miss McNeely, lives just down the road in Winston-Salem with her boyfriend- another classmate and friend of mine.  So now I just come over with them; a homecoming for her, but a homecoming for me too. Last year we started a new...

Stumbling Blocks

I have this blog post about my concert visit in GA waiting in the wings, awaiting one final touch; a movie of part of the performance. But I don’t think that post will reach the surface any time soon, and I know that my (lonely) blog-follower(s?) need an update. Cale had the forethought/toys to record the show, and then posted it to facebook, where I promptly stole it.  Now I have a copy of the movie, and I can’t seem to make iMovie or Windows Movie Maker open the file.  It’s not that they don’t think they can open the file.  That part is no problem.  It’s that when I open the file, the program remains stupefyingly blank.* But this blog post isn’t about the movie file.  I’ve already documented my dislike for the technology we all swim in every day.  It’s about the fact that I can’t seem to get past the one snag and just keep posting. I’ve let so many good blogging opportunities slip past because there is an unfinished post sitting in my workspace, staring at me.  “Hello, unfinished post, I’m NOT going to talk to you today.”  Then I just feel guilty for ignoring one of my children.  Or ignoring someone I used to date.  I want to finish up and move on to the next thing, rather than skipping it; tie up loose ends. But here I am, being the bigger person and moving on.  Maybe someday we can be friends, abandoned post.  One day when the time is right, we’ll see each other passing in the street and we’ll start up that...

Bookends

This last weekend I traveled to Carrollton, GA to play on my friend Cale’s recital.  On the way I met up with my friends Mark and Christen (aka, the Zinc Kings) to play with/for the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM).  It was a fun little gig, especially watching little 5 year old fiddlers sing songs and eating free food.  It was a beautiful day, and it made for a great drive down to GA in the evening. I met up with Cale, my friend from Brevard this past summer, and we talked the evening away over beer and lousy movies.  The next day we got down to work on making the recital stuff work.  We performed Monday night and I’d like to think it was a pretty darn good show. I tried to get some video of the recital uploaded and functioning, but it seems that (once again) windows won’t play nice with Mac.  Or itself, apparently.  I can’t edit the video, but it’s on my facebook page, for those who are...

Two Hundred Thousand Miles

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent an entire day in a car.  I did it yesterday.  And it really wasn’t all that bad, as much as I fear sitting still for long hours.  I checked out a book on CD (Stephen King books tend to eat up the hours) and hit the road to my first engagement of the day; playing banjo with my band the Zinc Kings for the Junior Appalachian Musicians.  Then I drove to Carrolton, Georgia, where I plan to perform tomorrow night at the University of West Georgia. I recall regularly driving 6 or 7 hours at a stretch when I lived in Cincinnati, just because that’s how long it took to get to my parents place.  Now, I’m 12-14 hours from them, so I don’t do those long-haul drives nearly as much.  It’s really a shame though, because I like to drive, and I like to see the country, and I like to see my friends and family.  And 6 or 7 hours covers a lot of country from here.  I could go to Knoxville, Columbus, or DC.  I could try out Savannah or Charleston.  The Outer Banks are right there.  There’s just a lot I can see.  And somewhere in the hustle and bustle of grad school I forgot about it. And now I have a motorcycle.  I’ve been using it for local commuting, and have learned a lot about fixing a motorcycle.  For instance, at the moment it sits in the garage, awaiting a magnetic starter switch which I ordered last week.  That should get it running again until the...

Why I Hate Computers

I’m a techie sort of guy.  I used to be a programmer, web designer, etc.  I’ve integrated computers into everyday life, like so many other Americans.  But, I give regular thought to canceling my facebook account and unplugging everything.  I’ve considered being a lumberjack.  It has its perks.  Like plenty of sawdust and flannel shirts. This past week in my music technology class, I introduced a lesson on video editing.  One of the students- an older student- does all her work on her own computer, keeps up, asks questions, and gets everything done on time.  She wasn’t born to technology like all the younger students in the room, but she is old enough to know how to get things done, regardless of the medium.  So, despite her lack of technical skills, she does good work. However, because she does everything on her own computer, there is a new layer of complication added to the mix.  She uses Windows, and the lab computers are Mac. I’m operating system agnostic;  if you want my opinion I’ll tell you why they both suck.  And this is a story illustrating my point, now that I think about it.  But it shouldn’t be a story illustrating why they suck.  I thought they had this crap figured out years ago. Operating system manufacturers: the moral of the story is PLAY NICE. Mac/Quicktime/iMovie won’t export a movie format that can be read by Windows/Media Center/Movie Maker.  Any codecs that facilitated such cross-platform interoperability are no longer supported.  We’ve managed to crash her computer a few times just trying to make it do what my computer at...