Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year and Updates

Happy New Year to all. I've been busy with various endeavors, but wanted to get back to posting here, so here's a little bit of this and that, with some updates.

When you live in Georgia, where it seldom snows, you appreciate how beautiful snow is. I imagine that it gets old quickly in colder places, but snow is a welcome rarity here. Except that we freak out a little - everything closes down when there is one inch of snow. I'm enjoying an unexpected day off of work right now. To be fair, part of the problem here is that driving gets pretty tricky. First of all, we don't know how to drive on snow. Secondly, we have very few snowplows and salt trucks here, so many roads never get cleared. But the main reason driving gets so treacherous is, ironically, because it doesn't get that cold here. Instead of nice crunchy snow, we tend to get a mushy mix of rain, sleet, and snow that freezes, melts, and refreezes multiple times, forming a slick (and almost invisible) coat of ice on the roads. Looking out my window this morning, it seemed kind of ridiculous that all the schools were closed, but on the other hand, there was a 29-car pileup due to ice on one of the Interstate ramps in Atlanta.

Ben Schenck of the Panorama Jazz Band informs me that my favorite dive bar, The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, has reopened. It looks like the Panorama plays at the Cat on Saturdays when they are not otherwise engaged. I hope that's still the case when I vist NOLA in April.

I have partially corrected my ignorance of John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble music by picking up the newest CD by the group, Eternal Interlude. It's gorgeous - engaging from moment to moment while having the kind of impact that larger compositional form can give. I'm glad I discovered Hollenbeck's music.

Some bootleg CD Horo Records issues have been come out recently, but it looks like the official CD reissues will finally be coming out early this year. I don't know know where Steve Lacy's Eronel is in the release schedule, but I'm looking forward to finally hearing this album.

Finally, a petty little personal story of the kind I usually try to avoid here. Between Christmas and New Year's Day, Karen and I visited her relatives in Washington state. We stayed with her brother, who lives between Bellingham and Lynden; his house is only about 15 minutes from the Canadian border. Well, being so close, I couldn't resist crossing the border to hunt some Canadian geocaches. Crossing into Canada was a breeze, so I visited Aldergrove Lake and found a couple of caches. The border crossing back to the U.S. was a different story. The cars were bumper to bumper for at least a mile. That was okay - I knew it might be a long border crossing, so I had my iPod and a book. I was patient and didn't get upset - until the border was in sight and a jerk in an SUV cut in front of me from the emergency lane. I cursed, but there didn't really seem to be anything I could do about it. Then, when we got even closer to the checkpoint, a young Canadian officer walked over to my passenger door. I rolled down the window; he asked, "Excuse me, sir, did that car pull in front of you from the emergency lane?" I'm guessing they had a video camera watching the line of cars. I answered, "Why, yes sir, he did!" He walked up to the car and yelled, "Pull over!" I cheered.

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