Aug 23

Yes, the world’s best hobo song is included here

Last night I swam a mile. I didn’t know how much I would do, but it started raining on me at about 800 yards and I didn’t want to get wet, so I just stayed in the pool. Before you know it, that’s 1,650 yards and my shoulders felt like it.

The getting wet joke is a lame family joke. We’d gone on a vacation, a dive trip, and my step-father and his kids had just been certified for open water diving. Now, some of us had been diving for a long time, and some of us took to water naturally, and a lot of us had learned from different companies and through evolving teaching methodologies. So I got to be the stick in the mud who demanded the safety meeting the night before our first dives.

Good thing, too, because we learned that my step-sister thought that giving the Heimlich maneuver was delivering CPR. (To be fair, she was young.) Anyway, she wanted to go to the pool, but I wanted to go over hand signals and hypothetical situations. It seemed a good idea. She hated every moment of it. Finally, after a refresher on rescue breathing, and a run through of the basic Caribbean fish signals, we decided we were all at least in the same chapter of the book. So it was time to hit the pool. But it was raining, you see, and so she wasn’t enthused by that. (She was young.) So the rest of us went to the pool. I stayed underwater so I would not get wet.

But last night, I swam that mile and then I floated in the water listening to the raindrops until I got cold. It was delightful in every way.

I swam a mile and I … liked … it?

I do not know what is happening.

Maybe I’ll go for another swim on Thursday.

My laps have been pretty decent, by my standards. My riding has been OK, but light. My running, lousy as ever. Now I just need to put them all in a consistent routine. That’s the part that always gets me.

Today, just more peaches. We tried the new blender. (It blends!) We had peach smoothies. And then we blanched peaches to freeze. Our freezer has a lot of peaches in it now. A new colleague came over and took some off our hands. I brought in three more baskets from the tree. I made myself another smoothie.

We goofed off in the pool until dinner time. It was a fine day. Just peachy.

So let us turn our attention to the Tuesday Tabs feature. This is for all of those extra browser windows I have open. Some of these are worth keeping, somewhere, but perhaps not worth a bookmark at this time. So I’m simply memorializing them here, so I can finally close a few more tabs. (There are so many tabs.)

This is a relatively new one, and I must say, not really, but I have to start somewhere. 10 Alternatives to bi-fold closet doors (you’ll absolutely love):

The most common alternatives to bi-fold closet doors include barn doors, sliding doors, pocket doors, French doors, and curtains. If you want a more unique option, consider swinging doors, a room divider, mirrors, bookcase doors, and industrial doors …

If you’re tired of the same old bi-fold doors, choosing an alternative comes down to the overall look you want. Ready to try something new? Give these different looks a chance when you’re ready to close the door to your closet.

My home office has a bifolding door set. Not a fan.

Here are some nice places to explore here. Maybe I’ll get to one or two this fall. 8 Adorable small towns in Delaware

“The First State” is an amazing state along the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay and Delaware River. This peninsula location means it is full of beautiful sandy beaches, riverfront views and gorgeous parks. The state also has a rich history dating back to it being the first of the original 13 states to ratify the constitution in 1787 (hence its ‘first’ nickname). Among the big cities and prominent attractions are a number of adorable small towns full of charm, history, and opportunity. From the Dutch colony of Lewes to maritime villages or the scenic beaches of Bethany Beach, Delaware is a beautiful and friendly state worth exploring.

I wonder how long we’ll see stories like this, before they all feel inevitable, I mean. AI comes for YouTube’s thumbnail industry:

This March, when U.S.-based AI researcher Anand Ahuja launched CTRHero, “an AI to replace Thumbnail Artists,” he called it “his life’s work.” Trained on millions of successful thumbnails from various social media platforms, CTRHero could create thumbnails within minutes, reproducing faces with 99% accuracy, according to Ahuja. The tool outraged designers who felt their livelihoods were suddenly at stake: some threatened Ahuja with physical violence. Soon after its launch, Ahuja sold off the core technology for CTRHero.

For YouTubers, thumbnails are serious business, as they can make or break a videos’ reach. Top creators such as MrBeast test up to 20 different thumbnail variations on a single video, paying designers a reported $10,000 for a single video. This has spawned a microeconomy of freelance YouTube thumbnails artists around the world, who hone their design skills to attract clicks.

Stop me when it feels like everything is Ready Player One. How AI will turbocharge misinformation — and what we can do about it:

By some estimates, AI-generated content could soon account for 99% or more of all information on the internet, further straining already overwhelmed content moderation systems.

Dozens of “news sites” filled with machine generated content of dubious quality have already cropped up, with far more likely to follow — and some media sites are helping blur the lines.

Without sufficient care, generative AI systems can also recycle conspiracy theories and other misinformation found on the open web.

University of Washington professor Kate Starbird, an expert in the field, told Axios that generative AI will deepen the misinformation problem in three key ways.

Starbird is a brilliant scholar and one of the leading researchers in this field. Check out her work.

As you read this, I am eight CDs behind in the Re-Listening project. That’s the one where I’m listening to all of my CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. I am writing about them here because, it’s a good excuse to post videos of good music. Also, sometimes there are memories attached to these things, but mostly it’s padded content. And all of it’s fun. Except when you run across that bad CD, sorta like the bad grape you weren’t expecting. There’s one in every bunch, and it all comes down to taste.

Someone else bought Sister Hazel’s third studio album so I didn’t have to. I’m not sure who gave it to me, because I did not write it on the CD and it has been at least 23 years and two months since it happened. My memory is good, but there’s a lot of stuff in my memory, ya dig?

“Fortress” featured three singles, “Change Your Mind” peaked at number five on the US Adult 40. “Champagne High,” one of the album’s better songs, reached number 22. “Beautiful Thing” did not chart, which, in retrospect, was probably a signal that the moment of success brought on by Sister Hazel formula had somehow passed them by. It’s a mystery to me, really, because it’s the same as what we were all used to from the boys from Florida.

They are rhyming the word “thing” with the word “thing,” though. Maybe people noticed.

But, look, the formula works. If you want a fun sweaty party band, Sister Hazel can take the stage and keep you happy.

As an album, “Fortress” was a minor hit, settling at 63 on the Billboard 200. The record you remember, “Somewhere More Familiar” made it to 47 in 1997. Nine years and four albums later they cracked the top 50 again. Maybe tastes change around them, but the syrupy, twangy Southern rock guitar and the upbeat harmonies stayed with the band. And you can hear it still, Sister Hazel is touring all over the eastern US for the rest of the year.

Next up is one of those albums you regret. It was released in 1997 and I got it in 2000 and I can only blame myself. The world wide web was out there, and I had three solid years to find out “Deconstructed,” a remix album, is just a bad project. Even if you like electronic music, you didn’t want this. There are no new tracks, and no real reason to listen to this. I have probably played it four or five times, total, and two of those were for the Re-Listening project. Anyway, Bush worked with DJs from the electronic genre of music to remix some of the band’s previously released songs. The first one is probably the best track … but … still … electronic, British or of any other nationality, just wasn’t for me.

Hey, it was a fusion idea that went gold, and settled at number 36 on the Billboard 200 in 1997. I didn’t like it in 2000. I don’t like it today. I never understood it on my few tries in between. Maybe it’s just me. (It can’t be just me.)

Let’s wrap up this post with a better one. Up next in the Re-Listening project was a 2002 purchase, something I no doubt got at a discount bin. Something Sony licensed for a few suckers just like me. But that’s not a problem, because “The Sound Of Country was a 2 CD sampler set full of important tracks. It grabs you right away, with some classic Roy Acuff.

That’s the more famous Acuff version, of course, but his 1946 original is something to behold. It’s not o this CD, but I have included it for you here.

One of the greatest songs ever recorded in the English language is also included here.

It’s a fundamentally perfect song. Chet Atkins is in there. The background vocals are none other than the Jordanaires. That song topped the country chart for eight weeks in 1958 and climbed to number seven on the predecessor of the Billboard Hot 100. At least three covers of that song have charted over the years.

I am pretty sure I bought this double CD, which was, no doubt, very cheap, for this one song. It was the correct choice.

I was going through a Roger Miller phase. I’d find reasons to play that song. I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with that. It won five Grammys in 1966. It should have become a Broadway show and a network miniseries. If it had come out a few decades later it would have been embossed on mudflaps. The legendary Buddy Killen played guitar on that song. His people knew my people. Maybe that’s it.

You get into some important later hits, too. This topped the charts in 1984, presaging what would become of country music a generation later.

Also atop the charts in 1984, was The Kendalls last number one.

The father-daughter act released 16 albums, seeing 22 singles making the top 40, and 11 climbing into the top 10, including three at the top of the chart. Royce died in 1998 (this CD was published in 2002), but Jeannie Kendall, who started performing at 15, is still strong more than a half-century radio.

The whole double CD:

Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain – Roy Acuff
Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline
Oh, Lonesome Me – Don Gibson
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
King Of The Road – Roger Miller
Big Midnight Special – Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
When I Stop Dreaming – Leona Williams
No Help Wanted – Bill Carlisle
Sweet Memories – Frank Ifield
It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty
I Love You Because – Bob Luman
All My Ex’s Live In Texas – Whitey Shafer
Louisiana Man – Rusty & Doug Kershaw
Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind – Whitey Shafer
Okie From Muskogee – Merle Haggard
I Got Mexico – Eddy Raven
The First Few Days Of Love – Lorrie Morgan
Sweet Dreams – Don Gibson
Tennessee Waltz – Redd Stewart
Honky Tonk Merry Go Round – Patsy Cline
Night Train To Memphis – Roy Acuff
Tortrue – Kris Jensen
Thank God For The Radio – The Kendalls
God Bless The U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood

And with that, we’re only four CDs behind. The next installment of the Re-Listening project will feature an act that shows us what turn-of-the-century country and bluegrass music should have done.

Jul 23

Shocking! I felt shocked! (Because I shocked myself … )

The people that sold us the new house had a giant corner wardrobe in their bedroom. They didn’t take it with them. Left it right where it was. The day we moved in, we moved it to the basement. I had to take it apart, disassembling it around the hard-working movers. They had to carry it, in four pieces, into the basement. Down the stairs, out the front door, around the side, into the garage and downstairs. They strained. They struggled. They did it with good cheer. We felt bad. We tipped them pretty well. We were going to do that anyway, but after that we huddled and agreed to tip them a bit better still. They earned it.

Only, they didn’t reassemble that wardrobe in the basement, where we will use it as off-season clothes storage. So, late last night and early this morning, I did that work. (Sorta?) It had been three-plus weeks (time flies) since I took it apart. I was in a rush to tear it down back then and I didn’t document where in the MDF all of the little metal parts went. Also, IKEA doesn’t have it listed anymore, and I’ve no idea what they sold it as, so I can’t easily find the manual online.

Today, though, the giant four-part wardrobe is reassembled as three individual pieces. Maybe I’ll make it a two-section wardrobe later this year, when I swap out the clothes. But at 2 this morning, I felt like I’d done enough with it.

Today I raked up the grass clippings from the lawnmower, and stuffed them and a bunch of weeds, mostly pokeweed, in a lawn bag. I also discovered we have an electric fence. Every day there’s something new to discover, and that’s fun. Still don’t know what the extra light switch in the hallway does, but I digress. I was out at the shed and found a small solar panel, pointed west, with a little red cable running to a white cable that runs around the shed, right about at big toe height. It is energized, and it’ll give you a nice, moderate, shock. Not as many volts as you’d get grabbing a hot wire in the house, but a little more than static electricity. No pests in the tool shed, then.

I called the company that makes the solar panel. A nice woman there said this little unit could power a fence that covers three-quarters of a mile. Electric fences don’t take a lot of power, of course, but that’s just remarkable.

Soon after, someone came by to take all of these bad boys off our hands.

It only took three tries to give them away. A guy who came out last week to do some work on the house carried some off to use in his flowerbeds. I advertised them on a Facebook group. Move! Store things in them! Build forts! Put them in your flowerbeds!

A woman agreed to swing by, but she disappeared. From the chat. She disappeared from the chat. I’m sure she’s fine.

So I found another woman who needed boxes. She took them in two trips today. In between, the sky looked like this.

And then, almost magically, those clouds moved on, burned off, disappeared. It was all but instantaneous. The sun came out, bright as ever. And then it rained through the sunshine. I stood in the window and watched it. And, after the shower had passed, I glanced in the large room where cars are normally parked. The boxes were gone. We no longer have a squished warehouse. We now have a garage. About the same time, my lovely bride finished setting up the gym. (Can’t wait to renovate that one of these days.)

We’re making progress every day. So much so that we feel confident in having a bike ride tomorrow. It has been so long since I’ve been on my bike I’m mildly curious if it is, in fact, just like riding a bike.

I need to make some progress on this front as well, closing tabs in my browser, that is. Good for me, then, that it is Tabs Tuesday. These are a few links that I’ve kept open for too long. They might not rise to the level of making a bookmark — which comes at considerable cost, if you read this sentence wrong — but they could be worth memorializing. So I put them here. Let’s see what I’ve been holding onto.

Sometime back I learned about the Artisans Cooperative, which emerged as something of a maker’s revolt from goings on at Etsy. Or, at least that’s what I seem to remember about it.

Artisans Cooperative is crafting a “better” online handmade marketplace, run as a values-aligned, member-owned cooperative.

1. Member-owned co-op …

2. Free and fair marketplace …

3. Inclusion …

4. Authentically handmade …

We are in the final stretches of development and getting ready to launch to the public in October 2023.

Good for them. And some of the merchants, the ones I’ve clicked through so far, anyway, do some amazing work. Like, East Ruin.

East Ruin is an archaeology-inspired art & design business for eco- and socially-conscious consumers who value alternatives to extractive production methods.

For a different sort of thing, there’s Maple Creek Vermont.

I started Maple Creek Vermont in the fall of 2020 as an outlet for my creative energy. For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for creating, building, crafting and making. As the son of a carpenter I have been around wood working my entire life and I worked to spend as much time as I could in the wood shop during all levels of my education. From the closet turned wood shop in my kindergarten classroom to the well appointed wood shop on my college campus, I have always felt at home making sawdust.

And check out StellaNCWorks. I’ll definitely be shopping here.

Pottery was the souvenir my parents brought back from every place we went, each piece chosen to represent that place, with the potter’s mark on the bottom. Embracing my home in NC is reflected in my own pottery. It seems appropriate, forming a chunk of the very land itself, through an intimate, engaged process, into a practical object that reflects the plants and animals that share the land. I am inspired by these plant and animal neighbors, by the idea that memories and heirlooms connect us to our loved ones, by things that are made by someone’s hands, and by shared humanity. I explore these ideas to create themes that celebrate the personal connection with nature and with other humans, and often use artifacts of these things—plant leaves, animal footprints, heirloom lace—to shape my work.

When I first started making my own pottery, it was driven by the need for a perfect vessel for a particular food: a plate for sardines with a line of mustard, bowls for pho, a big tea mug. Making clumsy pottery taught me lessons about making things better: about handle shape appropriate for leverage on a big mug, flat bottoms that don’t retain dishwater when drying upside down, shapes and edges that are comfortable for hands and lips. I make pottery for people who love the art in the practical, who love useful things made by someone’s hands.

(It also happens to be beautiful work.)

I discovered a bramble vine in the yard the other day. So now I’m reading up. Brambles: Pesky garden weed or delicious summer treat.

Brambles are bush-like, thorny plants with arching canes that are all in the Rubus family of plants. This includes the common blackberry, raspberry (including red, black and yellow) and the less common dewberry and thimbleberry. Many of these species are grown or bred for their wonderful fruit, and there are many wild-growing brambles as well. Wild bramble fruits are generally smaller than their cultivated, on-farm cousins, but are more packed with flavor! It’s almost “brambleberry” foraging and harvesting time now; if you see anything in the woods that looks like store-bought raspberry or blackberry, it’s safe to eat! There are no poisonous look-alikes to worry about.

There is good news and bad news about plants in the bramble family. The plants root easily, they spread out, and they give off fruit every year. If you are trying to establish them in your garden, you’ll likely be successful; they are quite vigorous. Another plus is that they are an incredibly rich (and common) source of pollen for pollinators of all types. Expect new plants to bear fruit in their second year.

And there’s always something new to learn about peaches, too. There’s so much to learn about peaches. They aren’t at all intimidating.

Less intimidating: the 54 tabs still open on my browser.

Just two more clips from last week’s Barenaked Ladies show. I didn’t include the encore. These days BNL brings out their supporting acts (Del Amitri and Five For Fighting on this leg of the tour) and they do a cover. They’re doing Steve Miller Band’s “Jet Airliner.” (It’s fine, I guess. Last year, though, they did “Handle Me With Care.” It was much better. Here’s the version they did in Cincinnati. And this is the version they did in Indianapolis.)

There was a freestyle rap, an Ed Robertson staple. And they mixed it into a medley with a Taylor Swift song. I am counting this as having attended a Taylor Swift show.

Tyler Stewart came out from behind the drums for the big finish. And it’s a pretty robust singalong. Think of it another way: this is a 40-year-old song, a staple of another band’s catalog, and everyone, or at least the guys, are all singing along.

When Joe Elliot screamed it in 1983 “Rock of Ages reached 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the Top Tracks Rock chart. No one forgets Def Leppard — who are playing seven dates across the U.S. next month.

But enough about music. There’s a lot more of that to come. Tomorrow we’ll dive back into the Re-Listening project, because I am very behind, and that’s making me itchy.

Jul 23

There’s so much here it can’t be highlighted in the title

Today was the first day I haven’t broken a sweat while moving things in the new house. I’m sure this will not turn into a streak, for there is always something to move or adjust or clean or fix. But it seemed like a good thing to note. The getting settled was more low key.

I only have three giant boxes of books left to unpack, and I am savoring the anticipation for that experience.

Which is not to say that today was a day of pure comfort and ease and conditioned air. It was all of those things, but that’s not what I’m saying here. I also “exercised.” Went for a run. This was my first run since December 27th.

I know, I know! First swim in years and my first run in months, both in the same week, all while I have been lifting and carrying things around the house. This is crazy talk!

We were going to go do something called a “track workout.” Presumably this involves a track and running. We got to the place and, sure enough, there was a track. But no workout. The patch of grass inside the track oval is a soccer pitch and it is being used for a soccer tournament. No running allowed, for whatever reasons of practicality and safety. So the few hearty and hardcore runners who showed up anyway set out for a five mile run. That’s not what The Yankee had on her training schedule today and I’m certainly not up for a five-miler this week. So we went back to our lovely little neighborhood and ran around it.

And so I got sweaty. Also, this was a much faster pace than the last time I ran so, clearly, the goal for me should be to take six or seven months off between jogs.

While my lovely bride finished up her run, I watered the plants. Also, I remembered that I took this photograph an evening or two before and didn’t use it, so I’ll use it now.

That’s our new front porch sunset views. I’ll take it.

Let’s close some tabs. This is our return to the regular Tuesday feature that lets me memorialize a few tabs that, for whatever reason, I hadn’t otherwise managed. Most of these don’t deserve a bookmark, but it might be good to circle back to them one day, and so here I am.

A little while back I found myself slipping into a deeply nuanced conversation about who wrote the song, “Apache.” This could have become something really nerdy about what really constitutes a cover, but, thankfully, the conversation was diverted away from that. And thanks are due to the person who saw that train wreck happening and leapt in with some wry observation about the weather, inflation, bowling shoes or whatever it was. Anyway, the answer is Jerry Lordan, but then Bert Weedon, importantly, The Shadows, and then famously Jørgen Ingmann, followed, influentially, by the Incredible Bongo Band and then, of course the Sugarhill Gang (twice).

Many chefs, it turns out, could be a good theme today. Who killed Google Reader?:

Google’s bad reputation for killing and abandoning products started with Reader and has only gotten worse over time. But the real tragedy of Reader was that it had all the signs of being something big, and Google just couldn’t see it. Desperate to play catch-up to Facebook and Twitter, the company shut down one of its most prescient projects; you can see in Reader shades of everything from Twitter to the newsletter boom to the rising social web. To executives, Google Reader may have seemed like a humble feed aggregator built on boring technology. But for users, it was a way of organizing the internet, for making sense of the web, for collecting all the things you care about no matter its location or type, and helping you make the most of it.

A decade later, the people who worked on Reader still look back fondly on the project. It was a small group that built the app not because it was a flashy product or a savvy career move — it was decidedly neither — but because they loved trying to find better ways to curate and share the web. They fought through corporate politics and endless red tape just to make the thing they wanted to use. They found a way to make the web better, and all they wanted to do was keep it alive.


For a while, the internet got away from what Google Reader was trying to build: everything moved into walled gardens and algorithmic feeds, governed by Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and others. But now, as that era ends and a new moment on the web is starting to take hold through Mastodon, Bluesky, and others, the things Reader wanted to be are beginning to come back. There are new ideas about how to consume lots of information; there’s a push toward content-centric networks rather than organizing everything around people. Most of all, users seem to want more control: more control over what they see, more knowledge about why they’re seeing it, and more ability to see the stuff they care about and get rid of the rest.

Google killed Reader before it had the chance to reach its full potential. But the folks who built it saw what it could be and still think it’s what the world needs. It was never just an RSS reader. “If they had invested in it,” says Bilotta, “if they had taken all those millions of dollars they used to build Google Plus and threw them into Reader, I think things would be quite different right now.”

The ending is a bit naive, but it does make you wonder how things would have worked if we’d stayed out of the walled gardens.

Speaking of social media and walls … New Jersey just made it a lot harder for police to snoop on social media:

(T)he Supreme Court of New Jersey decided Facebook Inc. v. State, which puts much-needed guardrails on police conduct in the state when it comes to law enforcement’s access to digital communications. Up until this decision, it was permissible for New Jersey police to obtain a Facebook user’s private messages in near real time with a mere probable-cause warrant. However, case law and state and federal statutes rightly recognize that real-time access to private communications demands heightened privacy protections. This type of search would generally be considered a wiretap and require the police to apply for a wiretap order. Wiretap orders require an enhanced showing, one beyond probable cause, to be granted.


While certainly a win for privacy advocates, this case reminds us of several important issues in the fight for privacy in the digital era. First, in an age in which increasingly personal information is shared via digital means, it is essential that real-time communications are afforded the highest level of protection from snooping eyes …

Moreover, it is clear that pre-internet statutes and case law that govern online activity are woefully inadequate for the realities of the digital era. Many of these laws and cases are based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Smith v. Maryland, which created the third-party doctrine and held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy for information voluntarily turned over to a third party.

That’s going to come up in a class this fall, I bet.

Finally, in Macon, Georgia, the minor league team has one of the best team names in sports, but only the second best team name in city history. The Macon Bacon shirts, however, are pretty great. (Also, their mascot is named Kevin and, while predictable, I was not ready for that degree of cheesy.)

Just four more Indigo Girls songs to go from The Ryman show, sadly. I’ve mostly just been sharing things I recorded in the order that they appeared on the band’s set list that night, but I’m jumping ahead a little to set up a big finish on Friday.

First, though, here’s “Galileo,” which was the Indigo Girls’ first song to break into the top ten on a music chart, the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, in this case. The success of this song helped “Rites of Passage,” their fourth studio album, go platinum. And ever since they released it in 1992, this song has been a fan favorite. There’s even a singalong portions.

It is one of those songs that, I think, doesn’t really belong to the performers anymore. The Indigo Girls have a few of those and (hint) we’ll have another one of those in this space tomorrow.

We have to get back into the Re-Listening project if, for no other reason, than because we are woefully behind. (Some time has elapsed and circumstances have compounded my investment into the Re-Listening project.) I think I’ll be doubling up and writing shorter bits about each album for a bit, just to try to get back on equal terms. But, for the uninitiated, the premise is simple. I am listening to all of my old CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. It’s a lovely musical walk down memory lane. And, to share the fun, I’m writing a bit about it here. These aren’t music reviews, because who cares? They are a good way to pad out the page, to share the sounds and to bring up something that, perhaps, hasn’t come to mind in a while.

Kids, Widespread Panic was huge. The year is 1999 (I know, I know) but they’d been together for almost two decades by then, they’d had a concert film directed by Billy Bob Thornton, they’d been on H.O.R.D.E., they had five studio albums under their belts, they were network TV veterans and an absolutely legendary jam band already. And that’s when the regional icons got their first huge mainstream moment.

I don’t know why I have “‘Til the Medicine Takes.” Widespread wasn’t really my band. A lot of people I knew just raved and raved about them, which was probably enough for me to stay at arms length for a while. But I picked it up somehow — a giveaway, most likely, I never even had the liner notes — and put it in and this was the first song I heard.

I have three Widespread Panic memories. One, I was driving a friend and his girlfriend and her roommate somewhere and Widespread was on the radio, something from this album, on a deep cut station. His girlfriend launched into this diatribe about how she didn’t like Widespread Panic because they’d sold out. She’d put some thought and some force into this argument. The jam band from Athens was on the radio. They weren’t real, authentic, rockers, like this new band she was into, Train.

My friend, who was very much a jam band aficionado, who grew up two hours from where the band started their careers and who had probably had them as a soundtrack to most of his young life, almost broke up with her right there in my car.

Maybe that’s why he almost always insisted on driving.

Another is this. In May of 1999, just before this record was released, they were one of the Sunday night headline acts at Music Midtown. Back then it was a three-day event with six main stages and a handful of smaller venues dotting the middle of Atlanta. Just an incredible opportunity to see important bands, or check out new things. Being me, I studiously cross referenced every show and was intent on seeing the best possible act in each act of the three days of music. And the best act late on Sunday night. Your feet are hurting. You’re tired. You’re hungry. It’s May in Atlanta so anyone could be approaching their sell-by date. But this band came on proved the point about why you have to see them live.

The third is this. On Friday, June 23rd, when I loaded up my car and drove away from IU for the final time, this song came up, right on cue.

“‘Til the Medicine Takes” peaked at 68 on the Billboard 200 chart. And, yes, the CD version of “Dying Man” just rocks, but you need to see the band live. Soon to enter their fifth decade as a band, they’re still touring widely today. They play multiple shows at each venue they visit, because that’s how it is when you’re a touring monster. Later this month, three shows in Huntsville, Alabama, then three shows in Napa, California in August. Catch ’em if you can.

Jun 23

‘We are fortunate ones, fortunate ones, I swear’

That time I got to hang out with Charley Pride in Nashville.

The reason The Ryman is called the mother church of country music, Wikipedia will tell us, is, in part …

The auditorium opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. Its construction was spearheaded by Thomas Ryman, a Nashville businessman who owned several saloons and a fleet of riverboats. Ryman conceived the idea of the auditorium as a tabernacle for the influential revivalist Samuel Porter Jones. He had attended one of Jones’ 1885 tent revivals with the intent to heckle, but was instead converted into a devout Christian who pledged to build the tabernacle so the people of Nashville could attend large-scale revivals indoors. It took seven years to complete and cost $100,000 (equivalent to $3,257,037 in 2022). Jones held his first revival at the site on May 25, 1890, when
only the building’s foundation and six-foot walls had been completed.

Now, Samuel Porter Jones is from a small patch of nowhere in Alabama, on the Georgia border. He grew up in Cartersville, Georgia, a small quiet town north of Kennesaw, which is north of Atlanta. I spent some Saturdays in Cartersville in 2006, wandering around taking pictures of the aging downtown while The Yankee was teaching her first classes. We were even younger then than we are today.

Anyway, the other reason they may call The Ryman the mother church is because it still feels like a church, from the pews to the faux windows to the classic mid-century church light fixtures.

So this building was inspired by the Georgian Samuel Jones — who could be coarse, who was outlandish, and who was one of the most popular revivalist preachers of is day.

But … do you know who else is from Georgia?

The bummer of this, one of the less recalled power songs from “Swamp Ophelia” is that my alarm went off in the middle of the song. And, it turns out, that when the alarm goes off the video recording stops. The last 30 seconds or so aren’t here, but the best of it, and the best of it, are here.

“Swamp Ophelia” is their fifth album, and, they played four songs from it, counting “Fugitive,” in this show.

On the record, this is one of those tracks that has a symphonic accompaniment, but it comes to life in the live show. I guess it just got lost for me on the record, but then along came the 2010 live album, “Staring Down the Beautiful Dream.” It included a masterful version of the song from a 2009 New Jersey show, a powerful, urgent version that is not at all easy to dismiss. So, hearing it live now, still feels new. And anytime Amy Ray sings her heart out, I’m happy to hear it.

Which is going to make the next several videos a lot of fun.

It is time for a Tuesday tabs feature. Tabs, they sure do add up. Bookmarks cost nothing, but some pages just don’t seem to rise to that level. And, yet, some pages are too valuable to simply press the little X. So they just sit there, open for ages. But, instead of keeping them up, I’m memorializing a few of those sorts of sites here, just on the off chance I do decide to look that one thing up again one day.

I’ve always enjoyed this idea. I wonder what the neighbors would think. I wonder if you could just do sections of your property. Replacing your lawn with wildflowers has loads of benefits

To prove it, a team at King’s College has broken a long-held tradition. In 2019, they stopped nearly half of the college’s iconic Back Lawn from being mown for the first time since it was laid in 1772 and planted a wildflower meadow mix in the topsoil of this region.

A sprinkling of poppies, cornflowers, and oxeye daisies later burst into life. According to new findings, the football field-sized patch of color now supports more than 3.6 times as many plants, spiders, and bugs as nearby lawns.

In fact, the biomass of invertebrates living in the meadow is 25 times higher than what lives in a regular lawn, including twice as many species in need of conservation.

Researchers say the meadow supported about four times as many declining plant species in 2021 as it once did as a lawn.

I clicked this one thinking I’d nail it, but I was surprised by what I read. It lands here because it seems obvious that it’d be good to adapt some of these approaches. Harvard-trained psychologist: If you use any of these 9 phrases every day, ‘you’re more emotionally secure than most’:

Emotionally secure people are empowered, confident and comfortable in their own skin. They walk the world with authenticity and conviction, and do what is meaningful to them.

As a Harvard-trained psychologist, I’ve found that this sense of self-assuredness makes them better able to navigate conflict and be vulnerable with others, mostly because they aren’t looking for external validation.

But takes a lot of work to get there. If you use any of these nine phrases, you’re more emotionally secure than most people:

I’ve seen one of these, but the rest will just have to go on the list of things to get around to watching one day. 6 must-see World War II documentaries:

Numerous documentaries have ventured to convey the seemingly insurmountable odds confronted by ground, air and naval forces, and the immense sacrifices that resulted.

As such, we compiled a list of five comprehensive World World II documentaries that best tell these harrowing stories.

OK, if you insist. Ireland self-drive tour – Your 7-day to 14-day itinerary:

Whether travelling for one week or two weeks, our itinerary provides all the major highlights of the beautiful Emerald Isle.

On this scenic drive, see ancient historic sites and monastic ruins set in the beautiful Irish countryside. The stunning sheer cliffs of the coast hide secluded bays and sheltered beaches ready to explore.

Best of all, meet the locals in their friendly towns, small and large, that define the island.

When do we leave?

May 23

We play the song “Crazy Life” at the end of this post

I took this photo the other day, and I keep forgetting to publish it. That’s too bad, because it’s a great nod to the apparent lack of thoughtfulness of others. This is outside our building on campus, and these are handicapped parking spots, as you can see from the blue lines and the sign.

All of which makes this installment of Hoosier Hospitality amazing.

You can’t really move scooters unless you rent them, of course. The wheels are effectively seized to prevent free rides. So you have to muscle them around, which is what I had to do. But, on the off chance that anyone needed the space, at least someone was thinking about you.

I can say this about Hoosier Hospitality: it’s alliterative.

We haven’t run the tab feature in a few weeks, and my browser is groaning under the pressure. This is the place where I am memorializing pages that I might want to refer to again, but might not earn a bookmark.

The 25 best documentaries of all time, ranked:

The documentary genre is a more varied one than many people give it credit for. As a type of film, documentaries do usually aim to inform or educate about some kind of non-fiction story or topic, but that’s not their sole purpose. Some aim to evoke certain feelings or experiences more than anything else, others aim to present an argument or point of view in a persuasive manner, and others are mostly concerned with simply entertaining audiences the way a work of fiction might.

Furthermore, some documentaries aim to do a combination of the above, or maybe even none of the above, instead opting to do something else entirely. Exploring the world of documentary filmmaking can be a truly eye-opening thing to do, and reveal worlds or unique perspectives that aren’t as easy to explore through other genres.

James Brown’s historic concert, staged 24 hours after Martin Luther King’s assassination, is now restored and free to watch online. This show helped calm down Boston somewhat. It’s a legendary performance.

6 do’s and don’ts when buying used scuba gear:

Ok, so you’ve decided to buy your own scuba diving equipment. Whether you are newly certified or a seasoned diver, used scuba gear may seem like a great opportunity to save some money. Buying secondhand diving equipment can either be the greatest deal of your life or the biggest mistake, the difference is knowing what to look for.

We like to look out for you guys, so here are 6 tips to buy used scuba gear:

How solar farms took over the California desert: ‘An oasis has become a dead sea’:

Deep in the Mojave desert, about halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, a sparkling blue sea shimmers on the horizon. Visible from the I-10 highway, amid the parched plains and sun-baked mountains, it is an improbable sight: a deep blue slick stretching for miles across the Chuckwalla Valley, forming an endless glistening mirror.

But something’s not quite right. Closer up, the water’s edge appears blocky and pixelated, with the look of a low-res computer rendering, while its surface is sculpted in orderly geometric ridges, like frozen waves.

“We had a guy pull in the other day towing a big boat,” says Don Sneddon, a local resident. “He asked us how to get to the launch ramp to the lake. I don’t think he realised he was looking at a lake of solar panels.”

We return to 1998 in the Re-Listening project. For the blissfully uninitiated, I am going through all of my CDs in the order in which I acquired them. It’s a stroll down a musical memory lane. It’s fun. And I’m writing and sharing some of it here. These are not reviews, because the web definitely doesn’t need another quarter-century-too-late alt band review. But they are a good excuse to post videos, pad out some content and have a little fun, which is kinda the point of most music.

This record is from 1997, but from what surrounds it in my old CD books I know I picked this up the next year. I imagine I got it from one of the two independent music stores that were in town at the time, but I don’t remember that part, here. This is one of the alt bands that personified the 1990s, and you can hear that immediately in the first track.

Toad the Wet Sprocket saw this record, their last for more than a dozen years, climb to number 16 on the Billboard 200, both on the strength of what had become a dedicated fan base, but also the single “Come Down,” which settled nicely in the top 40 in the U.S. and in the top 10 in Canada.

That song was so ubiquitous I was certain Toad was putting it on every record, and every musical coordinator had it in shows, movies, and commercials, but apparently not. I can only blame myself, and the A&R people at Columbia Records who had this on the air somewhere within ear shot every 17 minutes of my early 20s.

And here’s Glen Phillips doing “Throw It All Away” solo. I can never decide if this, or the full band, is the better version.

The answer, of course, is which ever you hear live.

The whole record is a fine continuation of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s work. The production is great, it’s hard to argue with the instrumentation. Glenn Phillips and Todd Nichols are in full throat. Everything works and there’s a little something for every mood. But I am always listening to Coil to get to track 11.

This is what I wrote when I finally, finally saw Toad the Wet Sprocket live last year.

I don’t know if “Crazy Life” was my first protest song or the first for my slice of my generation, but I’m pretty sure it was the first one I really noticed. The first one I read about. And I read a lot about Peltier. I’ve never really settled on how I felt about it, not really, but this is Wounded Knee.

The Eighth Circuit thought a jury would have acquitted him had information improperly withheld from the defense been available, yet the court denied a new trial. And if you really dive into the story it’s easy to question how the system was used. But I don’t know, not really. None less than Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama have campaigned for him, though, and that means something.

The point is, this song made me look it up, and think, and ask questions of things in general and specifically. And I probably shouldn’t like a pop song this much, but anything that scrapes your brain for a quarter of a century is worth noting.

And I love Todd Nichols’ sound.

Toad have released two records in the years since, 2013’s “New Constellation,” which was a crowd-funded album, and the Starting Now (2021). Some of their other work, and re-work, will show up later in the Re-Listening project. And like Chris Spencer says at the end of that 1997 video, you can catch them on tour this year, too. We did, twice, last summer, and I’m a little bummed I won’t get to see them this time out. But you can!