November 10, 2016

Election 2016 - The Winter of Our Discontent

As I contemplate the election of Donald Trump, I am reminded of Richard III's monologue at the start of Shakespeare's play: 
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;   
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty   
To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph;   
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,   
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,--   
And that so lamely and unfashionable   
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;   

Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,   
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun   
And descant on mine own deformity:

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,   
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain        
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
My life, in a nutshell, has to push against, to resist the sort of anger and resentment voiced here, that lies deep within my psyche. To resist the urge to descend into bitterness, violence, Machiavellian schemes.

Barack Obama was the first president who gave any indication that I, as a transgender woman, had value, had worth, was a whole person. It was not at all popular to grants transgender rights, to appoint transgender staffers, to welcome transgender activists to the White House, and yet he did that.

And the enmity and slander voiced against our first African-American president by many, including those in my own family, I take very, very personally. 

So yeah, the past few days have been difficult. I have no doubt that among President Trump's first actions will be to revoke the rights and recognition that President Obama extended to people like me. Do not fear for me; I carry a lot of privilege and have the tools to blend in, become invisible, insulate. Most transgender individuals are not so lucky. But yes, I will and shall take that very personally - both as I interact with our President and government, and with those who have supported him.

There is a Cherokee story that has been woven into our teacher training program
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
 I need to continue to feed my good wolf, and to begin to starve my bad wolf. And that means holding myself apart from those people in my life who trigger my anger and fury.

November 08, 2016

No Gongs, Bowls, or Sound Meditations for Me

Apologies to those who create these energetic spaces. I'm not opting in.

I am both a musician and an engineer. My college project involved tearing apart a musical instrument (the marimba) sound - harmonic content, envelope, variation across the instrument range and striking force - create algorithms to describe the sound, and design circuits to duplicate the sound. We made a "one note analog circuit" that one could tweak / adjust to recreate any note on the instrument.

I cut my teeth on analog synthesizers - no MOOG, but we had an old ARP 2600 to mess with.

Of course, digital sampling came along and made all that analog design stuff kind of passe. But it's deep in my psyche, and my work and hobbies (power quality / sound reinforcement) have continued a focus on harmonics, spectrum analysis, waveforms, etc.

So yeah, when I lie down on the mat and you start gonging and chiming and ringing and droning, my left brain starts to go to work - analyzing the sound, pulling about the harmonics, drawing the envelope. That stuff keeps me firmly rooted in my monkey mind. Not a good fit for me.

I'll take silence and stillness, any day.

November 01, 2016

Life Update

So, what's new with me?

It's been a rough year. Not in any of the more traditional ways - work has been busy; health has been stable, I've been a bit more financially stable and sound than in many years. Nevertheless, I've been in a bit of a slump or malaise for quite some time. Not exactly sure I can put a finger on it but I'll hit the major hobbies and communities and see where this takes me.

Making Music

The Guinea Pigs had a bit of a slow summer. We've had some personal issues (family members needing care, injuries, busy work life) which have kept us from doing too much playing out. And we seem to have been a bit snake-bit in terms of gigs. A Blue Back Square gig got rained out after the first set; a Wethersfield Farmers' Market gig got canceled due to illness, a Billings Forge Farmers' Market gig got canceled because it was the day of their farm-to-table fund-raiser and they were cutting back on the noontime farmer's market.

Nevertheless, we played a set at Blue Back Square (before the rain got us), the last Wethersfield Farmers' Market of the season, and a really wonderful fundraiser for the Manchester Community Refugee Resettlement Group (MCRRG) to sponsor a Syrian refugee family at UUSE in Manchester that raised $950. We've learned a few new songs - Blue Bayou / mashed up with Under the Boardwalk, and Ex's and Oh's which was fun. I'd love to see us network a bit more - the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival, the Connecticut Farm and Folk Fest, and the Meriden Daffodil Festival should all be within reach.

Audio-Video Geekery

Once again, I supported (which is to say, I provided the entire sound system) for the annual Om Street: Yoga of LaSalle event which this year drew ~2000 attendees. There are a bunch of videos of this event available, including a great (and official) time-lapse, and something more professionally edited, but I like this one because it documents the scale of the event (close to 800' of street) and the sound system working all the way to the back....

In a less positive space, I attempted to promote a wonderful duo, The Levins, at West Hartford Yoga in October. Five people showed up. Disappointing to say the least - they deserved better. I deserved better. I quipped afterwards, "Every couple of years I need to give this community the opportunity to break my heart, and it never fails to do so". So I'm set for a couple of years of introversion and vague bitterness until the wound heals and I let myself hope again.

Hearing Music

Falcon Ridge was, by all accounts, fabulous this year. I would not know - between campsite buddies not showing up early and significant issues with facilities, I spent my "hang out and relax" days camped alone, worked non-stop and had a pretty shitty time of it. Our falling apart merch trailer never made it to the site, a replacement was found, but our supplies (carefully curated over 9 years, and carefully packed away each year) were in the old trailer. Some never made it to the fest, what did show up was too late to be really useful. It made for an extremely cranky Jude.

Still not sure what it means for the future - I suspect I'll be back but probably looking to camp alone closer to the merch area.

That being said, I got a lot of music under my belt this year; with trips to the Sounding Board, Iron Horse, Bridge Street Live, Folk Fridays, Infinity Hall, Unity House Concerts, even up to the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin MA for a CD release party. Love live music and gonna keep showing up...

Balloon Chasing

More of the same. I did a presentation on social media at the local balloon club safety seminar in January; enjoy sharing my experience and wisdom there, although not a lot seems to stick. We've flown a bit this year - mostly out of Bethlehem, which is a bit of a truck. I did get a photo voted into the balloon club calendar:

The judges (whoever shows up for the contest) tend to have a "more balloons in the shot = better" criteria, so I rarely get something chosen, but this one is nice. 

Yoga  - Teaching

Ironically and with no real comprehension as to "why", everything is awesome. My two weekday All Levels classes continue to be very well attended (occasionally with more folks on the mat than the hot / power class in the larger studio next door). I picked up a 4:30 pm Friday gentle class (the teacher was leaving town) and though it seemed like it was going to be a temporary thing; I've built a bit of a following there as well.

I know I'm a good teacher, and should not be surprised, but considering the struggle I have with my own practice, it's difficult to understand. By all rights my teaching should be falling apart; and it appears not to be. My internal story - each class is tinged with bittersweet energy "this is the yoga I want someone to teach to me" and it's not happening.

I remain engaged with the studio Teacher Training program - very hard and long weekends, very rewarding. More bittersweet as the trainees engage in the practice and making life changes that I seem incapable to connecting to these days.

Yoga - Practicing

Not much to say here. I practice at home enough to keep my body limber and strong enough to teach, but I have not unfurled my mat in a studio in months. There's just too much emotion and pain wrapped around the  studio community - feels like if I broke in the way I need to break, I'd never teach there again. I'm a little too old, overweight, and chronically injured to get much out of the studio's hot / power classes. Seems like I've gotten a little too much of a look behind the sanctuary wall to let go with many of the studio teachers.  So yeah, still kind of stuck.

On the positive side, I've redeemed a very generous gift certificate (bestowed back in 2011) for a May 2017 workshop called Big Magic and Bold Music, with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) and Rayya Elias. So even though it's not really yoga, well, it's AROUND some yoga. One of those "not really sure why I am drawn to this, but I am, so let's see what's there" situations that I've come to expect and trust over the years, but which have been sorely missing from my life. 

Testing . . . Testing . . . One . . . Two . . . Three . . .

Hey look, there's a blog here.

Pretty sure that this is a personal record for not blogging; my business blog has seem more action than this one has of late. I've shaken up my work life a little bit of late and hoping to be a little more engaged with life (personally, professionally, etc.) as a result. Time will tell....

But, for the moment anyway, I'm back...

July 17, 2016

Checking In

This blog has been pretty dormant of late (social media continues to suck the life blood out of my personal blogosphere, although my work blogs are still simmering)

However, in light of the recent killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, I ponder how long the 2nd amendment of the Constitution will remain intact given that the folks with heavy arms are persons of color (rather than crazy lone wolf white dudes), and the persons being killed are police officers, rather than children, queer folk, or random bystanders.

I'm trying not to get too deep into the mud on this stuff:
  • Most murders are committed with handguns, not rifles or "assault weapons" 
  • Gun deaths, and the murder rate in general, are falling
  • Most gun deaths are suicides, nearly 2:1. In some ways, I feel as if the rigor with which the 2nd Amendment is defended is as an alternative to a more enlightened policy on assisted suicide. In darker moods, I note that gun owners are killing themselves faster than they are killing the rest of us.  
The plight of black persons remains heart-breaking - mass incarceration, black-on-black crime, racial profiling, ongoing discrimination, the economic disadvantages of generations of slavery and subsequent discrimination - all of these by-products of an open wound in this country.

I do not support violence as a means of creating change. But I certainly understand how people reach a breaking point, and something snaps.

And oh yeah, the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were both veterans / victims of our ongoing wars in the middle east. We train these guys in the art of killing, we expose them to horrors both internal and external, and then bring them back into a racist and prejudiced society without a lot of support or opportunities, but with easy access to guns and ammo.


May 24, 2016

Guan Yin / Avalokiteśvara

I'm not really sure how or why I stumbled across this particular bodhisattva. Serendipity works that way. When one is ready, something (or someone) drops into the path.

Wikipedia has a quick overview:
Guanyin is an East Asian deity of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World". She is also sometimes referred to as Guanyin Bodhisattva.
It is generally accepted among East Asian adherents that Guanyin originated as the Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara. Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy. This bodhisattva is variably depicted and described and is portrayed in different cultures as either female or male. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has become the somewhat different female figure Guanyin

According to Mahāyāna doctrine, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty and to postpone his own buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in achieving nirvana.
I'm not really sure why, but there's a deep resonance here. I'm in a place in life of serving, of providing nurturing and support to others even as I am unable to partake of that myself. It's happening in my yoga practice - even as my skill and popularity as a teacher increases, I find it a struggle to practice except on my own. I teach the practice I want to take but find it so difficult to connect with the practice as led by others. Similarly, I am the cheerful and kind voice of the Christmas season for clients.

April 10, 2016

Life in Da Hood, Part II

Back in 2011, I wrote about a particularly creative (in terms of stupidity, lack of personal boundaries, and amount of damage) lawn job.

From that event:
I called the local police, an officer showed up who was friendly but mostly unhelpful - she took some pictures, did a plate search on the car (came up clean) and found it was registered to the place next door. But was unsuccessful in contacting the owner and confessed that there was nothing she could do (because apparently this happened on Tuesday, so to charge them on Wednesday involved "warrants" which I guess means paperwork, and besides, this was not a vehicular matter (tickets) but a criminal one. etc. etc.
So when I came back home this noontime to a repeat performance in the making, I wasted no time contacting the local police. Catch 'em in the act, so to speak, and hopefully prevent the incident from going downhill fast.

Sorry to have to contact Johnny 5-0 on you, but you spent a good hour spinning tires and getting yourself in deeper, showed no sign of dealing with the problem in any sort of adult way, and your apparent intention (to continue to drive around to the back of the building to unload, since that was the direction they were trying to move the truck) was setting up a repeat performance of the 2011 event.

The cops (helpful, friendly) called a tow truck and hung around while they winched the sucker out of there. The damage on our side of the property line was not too bad, but they left a trench about 12" deep and 5-6' long on the other side.

Now I'm kind of stuck in the house until they finish unloading and vamoose - don't want to leave in case the new neighbors or their moved decide to screw with me or the condo for ratting them out.

Hard hittin' New Britain....

March 16, 2016

Documentary: Peace Officer

Caught this documentary last night on Hulu; a sobering and powerful film about the increasing militarization of the police (tactics, firepower, equipment, policies) and the cost in lives lost (officers, criminals, bystanders) as situations escalate. 

What made this powerful is the way the film-makers decoupled race from this issue. Clearly, systemic racial bias, issues of privilege, and racial imbalance between the police and their community multiply the problem many-fold for persons of color. But by focusing on cases where race was not even in the equation, the brokenness of the system is evident.

Not saying that it's a simple issue - the availability of powerful and high capacity weaponry makes policing a lot more difficult in the modern era. But this is really thought-provoking.

And then I had a nightmare that people were breaking into my house as I frantically barred the door and called the cops. Thanks a lot.

March 10, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me (or Not)

Wow, have I really not written a word here since November?

Well, it's my birthday; and a sorta big one. In recent years, I have been rather cagey about my birthday; keeping it private on Facebook, removing it from various databases where it might leak out, and fastidiously deleting or hiding social media posts throughout the day. My primary motivation was somewhat self-protective - most such posts, as well-intentioned as they are, focus on a traditional birthday celebration. Party, drinks, cake, presents, dinner, a gathering.

I enjoy none of these. I generally spend my birthday completely alone (but for a trip to do an errand for a friend this year); I've had a handful of cards, but mostly, birthday celebrations are something that others enjoy, but not me. And yes, I'm sure that some of this is self-imposed, or self-chosen, or cultivated by a lifetime of introversion, but it is what it is at this point.

So it's always seemed easier to just sweep it under the rug - that the outpouring of social media and virtual birthday wishes contrast to the nearly non-existent birthday reality and make the latter even more difficult, sad, painful.  Let's just pretend it's not my birthday so I don't have to feel like shit about it.

For whatever reason, I decided to do something different this year; simply removing the privacy guards on FB so that my birthday is visible. And my timeline / wall has been bubbling all day with well-wishes, comments, cute photos and videos. Which is all nice. But truth be told, it feels specious, somewhat disingenuous, when held up against the emptiness of reality.

My intentions were, really, pure - I wanted to break the cycle of birthday denial, be open to something new, different, better. But as the day has unfolded, it feels a little more like the real reason was because I want to feel the deep pain of the day, because I want to snuggle into the discomfort, loneliness, sense of alienation that spending a birthday alone entails.

So thanks for all the Facebook posts. I carry each well intentioned missive on my back as I sink into the morass.

November 13, 2015

NERFA - Day One

First day at NERFA (my second) under my belt.

I got up here a bit late (3:30 pm) - was intending to hit the road by noon, but got out a little late, and stopped multiple times en route (lunch, gas, grocery, and coffee), and it was a grey and rainy day which slowed the drive (especially over the mountain). Still, I got here in daylight and the weather cleared a bit for unpacking the car and the yoga toys. 

A CT registered car followed me over the mountain, turned out to be my Falcon Ridge friends Paul and Barbara, who I greeted in the parking lot. First of a bunch of friends from the festival and the local folk world I found yesterday - Anne and Bub from Falcon Ridge, Nancy (one of our merch tent crew who I did not initially remember), Barbara from CT Folk, Ethan and Jake from Pesky J. Nixon, Falcon Ridge mainstay Brad Yoder (the only artist I've actually played with, by dint of Ben's Silly Songs written for the volunteer open mic), local fave Kate Callahan (back for her second year, after have a quad showcase last year), and Ira and Julia Levin (aka The Levins) who had a well deserved DJ Spotlight slot this year. It feels a little more like "family" this year which is nice.

I settled in to my hotel room (roomie arrives today, a Canadian singer songwriter named Bobby Dove whose internet footprint brings to mind a young KD Lang) and rearranged the deck chairs (the room had a clear "bed wedged in the corner" feel and I wanted to give my roomie space, a desk, etc. so I pushed shit all over). It's a step up from last year, but not a BIG step up....

Last year the DJ Favorite's showcase was a bit too crowded - they seemed to have more seating this year so I was able to sit and listen through most of it - missed a few artists for bathroom and beverage breaks.

Some notables (in no particular order):

Mt. Thelonius - Interesting jazz/folk fusion, novel way they used folk instruments. Not really my cup of tea but I appreciated something different.

Davey O - Kind of omni-present here at NERFA and in the folk world in general, first time I got to sit and listen. Enjoyable, sweet.

Kirsten Maxwell - Had a sort of early Dar Williams vibe (think "As Cool As I Am") - I really liked her energy, playing, singing.

The Levins - What's to say? Dear, sweet, talented people, dare I say friends. Their songs and harmonies make me want to cry and melt this crusty soul.

Evie Laden Band - Has she played Falcon Ridge? If so, how have I missed her. Just amazing claw-hammer banjo with a couple of sidemen. She turned an old folk standard"Your Face" on it's head and charmed with her prelude about having Peggy Seeger listen to it. LOVED her lots.....

Caroline Cotter - My NERFA yoga teacher and a sweet woman (with a bump upon her head, she ought to cover Suzanne Vega's song Gypsy this weekend) - and pretty damn poised to come out with an a capella sing-along. She had the goods to carry it off.

Meghan Cary - A FRFF Emerging Artist, glad to hear her outside of the fest. A ton of energy and a strong performer. I picked up her latest CD after fest so it will get a fresh listen.

Fendrick & Peck - Unplugged duo using a single mic; they were funny as hell (vibing Burns & Allen) and talented too - definitely want to hear / see more of them. My only complaint, they were a little far from the mic so there was a slight feedback bubble forming throughout their performance.

Annika Bennett - the NYU freshman who wowed Falcon Ridgeas an Emerging Artist, and has continued that here at NERFA.

Rik Barron - Extra credit for going last. A journeyman who was charming and solid - I was not really expecting much but he won me over. He played two quick ones and said goodbye, when the moderator told him he had more time he came back with a solid song. Well played, getting an encore in the DJ set :)

I did not do much in the way of guerilla's (as evidenced by my sitting in the lobby blogging this morning) but I snuck up to Cup of Joe #2 (Joe Virga) for a few songs by my friend Kate Callahan (she and Joe did a kind of song swap) and a nlovely surprised, David Massengill followed up. David was so sweet (no surprise there) and despite speaking about arthritis that has impacted his dulcimer playing, looks to be in good health and spirits.

Interesting, two of the artists I covered back when I did Open Mics (and we're talking 20 years ago here) - David Massengill (#1 in America) and Kate McDonnell (Ordinary Man) are both at NERFA this year. I hope to chat a bit with them both before the weekend is out.

The quiet of the lobby is kind of refreshing - the energy of this conference is a bit overwhelming, with so many people looking to make contacts, be seen and heard, catch up with old friends. I'm giving myself some time for quiet, for stillness, in the middle of this music whirlwind.

November 10, 2015

NERFA and Me - Round II

I'm headed back to NERFA (North East Regional Folk Alliance) this week, an annual "industry conference" designed to connect folk and acoustic musicians with venues, DJs, promoters, managers, and service providers.

I go ostensibly as part of my "crew chief" role at Falcon Ridge (I get to meet and work with so many of these musicians each year) but mostly I go because I'm too damn busy during Falcon Ridge to actually site out front and listen to the music, so this is myself reward.

The conference itself is a bit overwhelming - rather than doing full concerts, musicians are showcased on two nights - with a large auditorium show (five+ acts) followed by the "quads", four simultaneous showcases in breakout rooms, with another five acts. So there are 50 musicians / bands in official showcases, plus a handful of other formal showcases.

In addition to that bountiful harvest, there are daytime workshops on music industry, targeted at performers, managers, venues, etc. (always something interesting), and a chance to mix and mingle with other folkies.

And then there are the informal, or guerrilla showcases. Many attendees choose to convert their hotel rooms into small concert venues late at night or during off peak hours, and musicians roam the halls, instruments in hand, to play 10 or 15 minutes to intimate audiences. Needless to say, a lot of magic goes down as musicians sit in with others, play unusual songs, etc. I confess to just tasting the guerrillas last year - we'll see how long I last this year. Even if the late night showcases don't work, there are song circles and jam sessions that sprout up throughout the weekend, in every available space and nook.

In addition to all this, it's a fine get-away weekend for me (who rarely / ever takes time off or a vacation) - there are ample and diverse meals included in the room & board price (an opportunity to eat well and reasonably healthy), there is morning yoga (courtesy of musician Caroline Cotter, and your truly, who is bringing along her stock of mats, blankets, and props), and there the usual resort hotel amenities (pool, exercise room, etc.) if I wish to partake of them.

Looking forward to my second year!

August 31, 2015

Om Street Follow-up

Two bits of video footage from the Om Street event, this past July.


First, a time-lapse video of the entire class, as captured from the roof of the Elbow Room. Since I suggested that the still photographer see if he could get in to the Elbow Room for the first Om Street event, and suggested a time-lapse video for this one, I take partial credit, although Breck McNab set it up and created the wonderful video.

And second, a drone video which really gives some idea of the scale of the event - the time-lapse video is impressive but there's a certain collapsing of the depth of field and length of the space that the drone footage makes evident. You can even see me, right side of the still frame above, working the sound board.

It's kind of cool to be in the middle of, and integral to, this sort of event. Although there's a small part of me that would love to assist and/or practice.

August 17, 2015

Camp Camp Farewell Farewell

After four years of spending a week in August in the woods of Maine at an LGBT summer camp, called Camp Camp, I've decided to take a year off.

Camp is doing some organizational / management things that have resulted in the annual fees increasing significantly, even for staff members. While I could certainly make it happen if I were highly motivated, I'm not highly motivated. I've become pretty ambivalent about the experience, I'll try to flesh that out a little here.

First off, an internal problem. I have this tendency of getting involved / embedded into an organization or event in such a way that I'm not so much enjoying the event as I am working. Camp has become that way for me - I do almost no formal activities, the evening stuff seems like an effort, and between official and unofficial responsibilities: teaching yoga, rainbow group leader, talent show set-up - it felt more like a job. If I were getting more back, I guess I'd feel OK about that, but more and more I felt like I was putting in time, trying hard, serving others, not getting too much back.

On some level, that's an "It's not you, it's me" kind of thing - increasingly I've felt myself having a "stranger in a strange land" experience, feeling as if I move through, observe, serve this human species without actually being a member. I guess I've come to accept this feeling of alienation and separateness in the mainstream world; I take the moments of connection where I can find them. But to have that experience in a queer ghetto like camp is particularly difficult and painful.

Added to that is an increasing sensitivity and awareness of the difficulty of negotiating what is predominantly a G/L camp as a transwoman. While there is a "gender free" cabin (that, for the most part, is not occupied by transfolk), all of the out transwomen at camp have ended up in the same cabin in a way that has increasingly felt ghetto-izing and exclusionary. While I've never experienced trans-exclusionary-rad-fem (TERF) attitudes at camp, there are the occasional MWMF shirts and hats visible, and my own suspicions that the egregious / outspoken TERFs are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of lesbian women who don't see transwomen as women.

Last year, a camper of color made some waves with regard to a tea dance outfit (a rough approximation of drag geisha) and a talent show outfit (an afro wig, glasses, dashiki that was supposed to be hippie chic, but was perhaps somewhat colonizing of african american fashion). I was not too involved or invested in that discussion, but it kind of hit me square in the face how she was empowered / entitled to her discomfort with these encroaches, while as a transwoman, I'm sitting in a camp filled with nontrans men doing drag, and kind of sitting on my own discomfort / difficulty. Blackface (however mild) - bad. Transface - no big deal.

Finally, with the increase in cost, I felt that there would be a continued and increasing skewing of the camp population towards men (more money) - although I know camp is not really a "dating and mating" experience, its still nice to have that possibility. Between coupled women (many) and fewer women, well, the odds are growing increasingly long. Again, moving through the straight world, I've kind of grown accustomed to spending time alone, not having a lot of support or relationship opportunities  - but spending a week at a relatively "target rich environment" such as camp and feeling similarly uncoupled and ineligible is particularly painful. 

So - no camp for me, this year, this year for sure and possibly into the future. I'd rather spend the time and money at something that I get more out of (such as the NERFA conference).

July 26, 2015

Om Street 2015: From the Soundboard

Om Street: Yoga on LaSalle went off yesterday without a hitch.

About 1,800 Gather In West Hartford For Outdoor Yoga (Hartford Courant)

‘Om Street’ Draws More Than 1,700 Yogis (


You can actually see me in this photo, I'm the orange dot in the front / left, at the sound board. 
Once again, I was in the middle of it all, setting up and running the sound system for the event.

I've been involved in this event from the very start.
Aug 6, 2011: A few days back I started sniffing around to be sure Barb could connect her wireless headset to the sound system. I was a little shaky on the sound system Lululemon had rented (a battery powered PA from Taylor Rental, never did get the power or model) so I decided to bring the studio kirtan sound system. It rocked all the way to the back rows.

And we've grown the tech each year as the event has grown. Last year I set up a zoned PA system (a second satellite PA, 200' down the road, with a delay line to match the sound from the main system). This year, we added a third PA (and a second delay line) and I convinced the band (the talented Craig Norton and Co. / Hands on Drumming) to let me mix them through the board. (in previous years, they ran a PA and I took a feed into the mains)

Green: Road Closed Off / Blue: Stages / Red: Speakers / Yellow: Audio Table
It's a bit of a challenge - I was out on LaSalle Road at 5:30 am (for an 8:00 am event) and it was all I could do to get it set up. It helped that I pre-staged a lot; putting together a board with power, mixer and delay units for the satellite PAs (see right) and setting up and testing the entire system at the studio on Friday night. Even with all that, I had some issues with the speaker cables (bad cables and/or bad connectors) but it all got fixed.

Today is a recovery day; even though there was help on hand from the studio, I still did a lot of the lifting, cabling, and clean-up myself - it's quicker to coil a 100' cable the right way myself, rather than have someone else do it and then have to redo it at home, and I had 400' of XLR, 600' of power, and 300' of speaker cable to deal with. I'm 54 here - doing sound for this sort of thing is a task for  younger legs, shoulders, feet and back!

Glad it's over, glad the weather cooperated, glad there were no significant technical problems. And thank to the Twitter, a bit of feedback live from the event.

July 22, 2015

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2015 - Merch Tent Prep

Even though my near focus is on Om Street: Yoga on LaSalle (and the three sound systems, 600' of power cord, 400' of audio cable, and multiple mixers, delay boxes, wireless headsets, and mics that I need to cobble together to make it all work), I spent a good chunk of today immersed in preparation for the 2015 edition of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

Checked off my to-do list in the past couple of days:
  1. Finalized the 2015 pre-fest spreadsheet (researched and input most of the artists' CDs), printed out all pages, and created the three binders we need to make it work
  2. Printed out 6 copies of the schedule (yellow paper this year, I had a pile of it lying around) and laminated same for the merch tent / trailer
  3. Printed out table cards for all artists
  4. Purchased (24) 5"x7" plastic sign holders and made placeholder signs and download card signs for these  
  5. Ordered the little removable colored dots we use to color code / price merch
  6. Checked out the old printer (still going strong, since 2007) and replaced the ink cartridges (need to buy a couple of spares tomorrow)
  7. Checked 3-hole punch paper (1.5 reams should be enough)
  8. Booted up the laptop and updated software / virus protection, and loaded up the 2015 spreadsheet
  9. Unpacked and repacked the merch trailer bin
New for 2015:
  • The placeholder (no merch yet) / download cards (available at cashier) signs 
  • LED lights (I'm always a little nervous about the site electrical, plus the LEDs will be less hot if it's a hot / humid year
  • A new desk lamp that has been sitting in my office for a few years unopened, I'll donate it to the fest and that will free up the one we've been using