Monday, September 4, 2023

Dog Songs

I may not be a dog person, as I wrote back in July in "Pardon My Musing" post about the dogs I had growing up, but I do like to hear people sing about their dogs.

In something I wrote for Instagram a couple of months ago as a commentary on a Peanuts cartoon, I referred to Grandpa Jones and "The Banjo Am the Instrument." Ever since then I've been listening, nearly but not quite completely exclusively, to a Spotify playlist of songs by Grandpa Jones. Among my favorites are those about dogs.

The dogs in these songs have names like Towser, Rattler, and Old Blue (maybe more of a description than a name, or a name that came from a description; who knows?), they all are dearly loved, and they are all used in hunting (mostly of racoons and opossums). I didn't even know there was a tradition in country music, or folk music, or wherever it came from, of songs celebrating dogs, but there seems to be, and Grandpa Jones carried on the tradition, singing about "good old Towser," and "Old Blue, you rascal you," and the rest.

So, while I myself don't have a dog and am not remotely interested in hunting, I love to hear Grandpa Jones sing about both.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Pollen Tanka

At this time of year
Pollen collects in our lakes
– and on our cars, and
on our sidewalks, and even
on us if we remain still!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Indian Springs State Park

Today, Anna, the kids, and I went to Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, Ga., which includes many beautiful stone buildings built nearly a century ago by the CCC (Creedence Clearw--no, that can't be right--Civilian Conservation Corps), and which was named for the spring water which can be accessed (and which there was a long line of people with empty containers waiting to get) at one point.

These are some of the pictures I took while we were there.

This building--an interpretive center or museum of some sort, I think--was closed, but I took this picture through the glass of the door. Looks very castle-like, doesn't it?

Friday, February 17, 2023

A Morning Lantern Poem

A morning lantern poem:

     Not too hot,
Cream and sugar–

(With thanks – or maybe blame; I'm not sure yet – to Brian P. Cleary, whose book If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems inspired me to write a short poem of my own. I apologize in advance if others follow.)

Monday, February 13, 2023

Scenes From a Morning Walk Around the Lake at Tribble Mill Park

Today I went for an early-morning walk at Tribble Mill Park. These are some of the pictures I took while I was there.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

My First Digital Camera

It's been a long time since I was on the vanguard of anything, but I did have one of these things (a digital camera) years before everybody had one in their pocket (in the form of a smartphone, or "pocket computer" as I prefer to call them). I came fairly early to the party of taking pictures digitally and storing them as files and posting them online for the amusement of others.

This is my first digital camera, a Kodak DC210 Plus, which I still have and which still works and which I bought on the same day as – in fact, just a few minutes before – my first date with Anna, more than twenty-three years ago, on August 11, 1999. And here are a couple of the first pictures I took with this camera, one of me in the Nissan Sentra I was driving then, and one a couple hours later of Anna standing in front of the place we met that day (though not in front of the actual restaurant where we ate):

I didn't buy the camera because I was going on a first date, but going to buy the camera – at an Office Depot on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell – may have given me a certain confidence that I didn't otherwise have. I had been thinking about getting a digital camera for a while, and had done a little bit of research on what kind to get – though back in 1999, opportunities to easily do "research," at least online, were not what they are today. In any case, having a first date at a Chinese restaurant (Marco Polo; it's not there anymore, and neither is the Office Depot) that was near a store that sold cameras was the impetus I needed to go ahead and make the purchase.

I wanted a digital camera mostly to supplement the up-until-then all-text travelogues that I loved writing and sending out via e-mail when I went on trips; I wanted to post my travelogues online, with photographic evidence. I put the camera to use in that capacity just a few weeks later when I went to the TechLearn conference in Orlando for ExecuTrain – the third year in a row I had gone to that particular conference. I spent all my free time on that trip at Epcot, as I had the year before, and took lots of pictures, some of which I posted to an AOL-hosted page I created. That post is now available on Planet Burdett.

Even though I enjoy looking at the Orlando-trip pictures, I'm very happy that among the first pictures I took with this camera, besides the "selfie" of me in the driver's seat of my Nissan Sentra (though the term "selfie" didn't exist then), is the picture I took of Anna that night after we had dinner. There's even a date stamp on it! (I hadn't yet learned how to turn off that date stamp.)I also used it just a few days after buying it to take pictures at Zoo Atlanta, when Anna and I went on our second date the following Saturday, and also when we went to Savannah and Rock City and Amicalola Falls and lots of other trips Anna and I went on back then, when we were young and hadn't yet become parents (or even gotten married, for many of these trips). I created online travelogues for some of them.

Hey, look: this camera has a whole megapixel! That was a lot of dots back then. It also has a 2x zoom, which also was quite respectable in 1999. It takes four AA batteries, and records its images on a CF (compact flash) card, the SD card having not been invented yet.

A couple of years later, I replaced this camera with another Kodak DC model, which I don't remember and no longer have (I think it might have been a DC3400, but I'm not sure), but which made two megapixel pictures, and then a couple of years after that, when I was ready to get really serious about photography, with an Olympus Camedia E-10 (which had four megapixels, which probably really was just about enough). These days I take the majority of my pictures with my pocket computer, a Google Pixel 5a, but I also have a Canon 60D and a Nikon P7800, both of which I like and use sometimes.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Fly Like an Eagle

Without meaning to, my friend Kevin Eames – sadly now the late Kevin Eames – nearly ruined a couple of good songs for me.

I remembered one of them recently, when J. and I were on our way home from somewhere, listening to a playlist of a bunch of old rock songs on shuffle, and the song randomly picked by MediaMonkey (one of the apps I use) was "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band. It was the first time I'd heard it in a long time. I'd forgotten how hokey and pseudo-profound – but also embarrassingly sincere and actually kind of meaningful – it is, including as it does the following lines:

Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution

I can't hear this song without thinking about something Kevin said to me at least twenty-five years ago. He told me once that when he was a kid and heard this song, he thought "house the people" was an inquiry into the well-being of "the people" – not "house the people," but "how's the people?", as in (as Kevin said at the time, in a faux-Jersey accent) "How's them people? How they doin'?" (Neither of us said anything, in any accent whatsoever, about how the next line, "Livin' in the street," is a depressing reference to the homeless problem.)

I don't know if what he said was true or not; I don't know if Kevin ever actually misinterpreted the song in this way, or if he was just being silly. But I'll tell you this: Whenever I hear or think about "Fly Like an Eagle," which admittedly is not often, I can't help but hear "how's the people?" in the lyrics.

Kevin told me another time, even before he had nearly ruined "Fly Like an Eagle" for me, that when he was teaching history at a small private Christian school, the school had a Christmas store they called Santa's Secret Workshop, and that one day he heard one of his students sing "Santa's Secret Workshop" to the tune of that great guitar riff that starts off Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" – and that he surprised the student by saying, "Hey, that's Jethro Tull, isn't it?"

And now, whenever I hear Aqualung – again, admittedly not often – I hear a deep voice intoning "Santa's Secret Workshop" in the same melody as Martin Barre's repeated six-note guitar riff at the opening of the song. (And yes, in case you're counting it out on your fingers as I did, "Santa's secret workshop" and "Sitting on a park bench" – the opening line of the song, sung by Ian Anderson to the same melody – do have the same number of syllables.)

I'm sure Kevin's children know that he could be really funny – Kevin told me once that Hilary told him he was "sillier than the other dads," which I have no trouble believing he was. But do they also know, I wonder, that Kevin had friends who prized his sense of humor, were perhaps even changed by it, and who really, really miss it?

I miss Kevin. I'd give anything to hear one of his corny stories again.