Saturday, May 26, 2007

Isam Band ~ Stay Awhile

Isam Band: Dave, Michael, Sam, Bill, PaulI have more previews and teasers (see my previous post Confessions of a Groupie) as the Stay Awhile CD gets closer to final production. The above photo may grace the back cover of the CD (or not, as there are other shots that also have possibilities).

The Isam Band is performing once again at the San Diego County Fair (Del Mar) on Saturday June 16 7:00-8:30PM at the O’Brien Stage and Sunday June 17 6:00-7:30PM at the Finish Line Stage. The band will perform both original tunes (many from the Stay Awhile CD) and covers.

Here’s another cut from the upcoming CD: I Fell In But I’ve Fallen (Out of Love). Check out the lamenting vocal echoes (background vocals provided by Sara Anderson and Lauren Widney) as the music plays out the theme
“Just when my love was turning up
The flame died in her eyes.”
See you at the fair!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

There’s no such thing as a civil war

Entrance gate to Fredericksburg (Confederate) CemeteryThere is war and there is civility. These two cannot be connected.

My two recent posts on Washington D.C. and environs describe the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum (Patriotism and Peace) and biking on the Mt. Vernon Trail (My Butt is Sore But My Beer Is Cold).

During the same trip, I also spent time in Fredericksburg, Virginia, an historical gem with both colonial period sites and civil war period battlegrounds and cemeteries.Dogwood and cheery blossoms abound in springtime FredericksburgA beautiful spring day arrives with cherry trees blooming and dogwood bursting forth with color. Detached from such a day, you read of the bitter cold and the waves and waves of union soldiers marching up from the Rappahannock River, only to be cut down incessantly by confederate soldiers hidden and protected behind a stone wall on “Sunken Road.” Waves and waves means 30,000 men. 8,000 felled. Not one reached Marye’s Heights, where the confederate army defended the ridge. In one battle. In the bitter cold. December 13, 1862.Headstones in Fredericksburg CemeteryAll war is gruesome, but the American Civil War is particularly sobering for the hardships suffered by soldiers from both sides of the line. I strolled through both the Confederate Cemetery and the National Civil War Cemetery (only Union soldiers are interred). There is also a Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center that explains the battle that took place in Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. You go away with a feeling of sadness, yet you hope that humanity has learned the futility and destruction of war. You come to realize that war seems to be endemic to humanity. I would not have thought this a mere five years ago.
Fredericksburg cemetery is a peaceful resting placeBoth cemeteries hold the remains of unidentified soldiers (civil war soldiers did not wear dog tags). And so many of the markers in the National Cemetery contain an identity number, followed by a number indicating how many bodies are associated with that marker.

Cherry blossoms adorn the Fredericksburg neighborhoodThe front porch is an American iconYou leave the cemetery and once again return to Victorian-aged homes with inviting front porches in a peaceful American neighborhood.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Java-ites Love to Tinker

The 4460 Hands-On Lab Folks Last week was JavaOne where Paul and I spent 5 action-packed days and nights immersed in Java technology, socializing with other like-minded practitioners of the art of inventing, building, explaining, exploring, speaking, writing, and pontificating all things Java. This is the third year we’ve presented a hands-on lab, although this year was particularly challenging due to the last minute “request” to merge our lab with another. The result? Lab participants received in excess of 3 hours worth of instruction crammed into two hours. However, with nimble herding and crucial prebuilt steps, most of the attendees were able to chat (first part), slide (second part), and see the parrots (third part). The lab was truly a double dose of JSF and Ajax. The full lab, Building Ajax-Enabled JavaServer Faces Web Applications With jMaki, Dynamic Faces, and the NetBeans IDE, is available online.

In the process, our own experience was enhanced because we got to work with some great people. Chris Kutler (from whom I mined the above photo) writes more on the lab and JavaOne here and Winston’s blog lists the other Ajax-related labs that are available online.

Each year several new words or phrases pop up in more than just a few talks. This year I noticed two:

agnostic: not caring about the underlying system, framework, application, or language. Example: One goal of a robust Ajax technology library is to be browser agnostic.

DRY: don’t repeat yourself. This applies to almost all software engineering principals, since repetition means duplication of effort. This is not a new concept, but it certainly made the rounds in the technical presentations. (Duplication in the photo below equates to architectural artistry.)

Yerba Buerna Gardens at Moscone where duplication provides artistic architectural forms

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My Butt is Sore But My Beer Is Cold

“At least your beer is cold,” and what else can you really say? Alternatively entitled “A Fun Activity in the Washington D.C. Environs,” let me suggest a great excursion for those who enjoy bike riding.

Daingerfield Island/Washington Sailing Marina is just south of Reagan Washington National Airport off Highway 1 at the junction of the Potomac River and Four Mile Run. There you can rent bicycles and ride along the Mount Vernon Trail, following the Potomac River either north to Theodore Roosevelt Island or south to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. The paved trail is shared by bikers, runners, skaters, walkers, and casual strollers, so on sunny weekend days you have to be alert for others.Potomac River view from Mount Vernon TrailGravelly Point is a short bike ride north from Daingerfield Island and offers an up-close and personal view of landing aircraft into Reagan National. I mean up-close. Park your bike and reach out and touch the aircraft. Get an appreciation for all the variables that go into landing a big hunk of steel.

We didn’t do that this time. Instead, we opted for the path south, a 25-mile roundtrip excursion to Mount Vernon (hence, the sore butt). The pathway is picturesque and mostly flat, with a small portion following Union Street in downtown Alexandria. The path follows the Potomac, taking you through Belle Haven Park, Dyke Marsh Preserve, Collingwood Picnic Area, and Riverside Park. After a final up-hill stretch, you reach Mount Vernon (where you can relax amongst the tourists or at least buy a beverage).Mount Vernon Trail bike rideThe return trip fortunately ends at the sailing marina, where you can get a well-deserved cold beer, off-setting a bit the sore butt and stiff legs.