GTD Reviews

I recently posted an explanation of the regular reviews I use in Getting Things Done (GTD). On review, I find I’m pretty happy with it. Rather than repeat it all, here is a link to it on

SF Online Bookstores

Some online bookstores that specialized in science fiction, referred by Nicola Griffith writing Keep the money in the family on Charlie Stross’ blog.


The Texas Toot

This year, instead of attending the Whitewater Early Music Festival, my wife Laurie and I attended the Texas Toot ( We shared a family vacation with my father (83 and still playing) and a lot of friendly mostly Texans. It was a good time!

The Toot is a week long workshop that takes place in Austin, Texas. On the campus of Concordia University, which appears to be fairly recently built. It is a nice size campus for walking, quite a bit smaller than Whitewater. The Toot has been going on for years, they have a good clue what they’re doing. There were about 75 people there with groups focusing on recorder, viola da gamba, and harp. There were also a number of classes with singing, and a track of percussion classes.

The class schedule was Monday to Friday, with group activities on Sunday evening, and a student recital Saturday morning. Having the Saturday before and Sunday after as travel prep or recovery days was very nice.  There were four class sessions every day (two morning and two afternoon) that repeated every day. Part of the registration process is selecting those classes, and the expectation is that you’ll go every day. There was a third session in the afternoon with one-time special classes. Evening activities included madrigal singing, two faculty concerts, and an evening dedicated to krummhorn playing.

My class schedule started with a daily class with Peter Maund (Hesperion XX, Ensemble Alcatraz) with a focus on percussion and the estampie dance form. Then a class on the English Fantasia with Allison Melville (Toronto Consort, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra) where a highlight was the number of low instruments available, allowing us to play at 8 foot pitch. The level of playing is pretty good when 18 people can play 5 part music and be well in tune!

The afternoon started with a one time class that varied by day. I took classes in Medieval dances (Al Cofrin), diminution (Saskia Coolen), a drum circle (Peter Maund) and music from the Eton Choir Book (Allison Melville). I regretted missing sessions on beginning harp, Scottish music, and mixed consort, but I couldn’t figure out how to be in more than one place at a time.

My daily afternoon classes were a mixed gamba and recorder class on the music of Landini, and a class on modern recorder music with Saskia Coolen that was an amazing amount of fun. If you ever get a chance to study with her, take it! She’s a very good teacher, without being too serious.

Laurie and my father each took quite different sets of classes, although we overlapped in the diminution class and drum circle. They report being quite satisfied with the classes they took, and the student recital showed they apparently learned something too.

The food and dorm accommodations were about what you’d expect on a college campus. Quite acceptable, not exceptional. The one thing that struck me as a little different was that each dorm room had its own outside entrance, like a motel. The weather is a lot different in an Austin winter, I guess! Also, all the buildings were thoroughly air conditioned, a good thing in Texas in the summer!

Overall, I enjoyed myself, and I’d be happy to go again. If you have a week available for a music vacation, this is a good low-stress workshop to consider.

Cantigas de Amigo – Martin Codax

Some friends and I have entertained ourselves by working up our own versions of the Cantigas de Amigo by Martin Codax.  We started with a transcription by Chris Elmes.  While much of that was very good, some of the transcription was troublesome, so we took a close look at the original manuscript. (ca. 1275, image from Wikimedia).  We ended up making our own transcriptions, or heavily editing the ones we started with, for almost all of the pieces.  Information from was very helpful in transcribing neumes and informative on pronunciation.  Researching the Arabic influence on this music led us to, an endlessly fascinating site for a Western trained musician to browse and learn a different approach.

We are happy to share the scores we have come up with, invented second parts, indications of improvisation, and all.

  1. Ondas do mar de Vigo
  2. Mandad ei comigo
  3. Mia yrmana fremosa
  4. Ay Deus se sabora ora meu amigo
  5. Quantas sabedes amar amigo
  6. Eno sagrado en Vigo
  7. Ay ondas que eu vin veer


2012 Photo Links

Links to highlights of our 2012.

Tiny and his cone:

Hawai’i photos:

New Orleans photos:

St. Louis photos:

Israel 2011 photos:


Label Printing

This is mostly a note to myself in the future, the current solution to the never ending problem of how to print mailing labels.  It shouldn’t be this hard…

  1. Export the addresses to be used from Google Contacts to an Outlook style csv file
  2. Open–Print-Online.htm
  3. Follow the prompts / wizard to create the right kind of labels
  4. Save the document as a PDF locally
  5. Print to label stock

That looks a whole lot simpler in retrospect than it seemed while doing it.

Why doesn’t Google Contacts have an “Export Labels” function?


Geek alert – this post is largely for personal future reference on a geeky topic, how to set up private key authentication with the PuTTY terminal emulator program.

Other posts with instructions to use puttygen and where to put private/public key data are correct.  Google “putty ppk” for pointers to some of those.

The issue most posts on this topic don’t address is OS file permissions.  It seems that particularly on the CentOS servers I often work on, this is a sensitive issue.

The .ssh directory must be drwx——
The .ssh/authorized_keys file must be -rw——-
And particularly easy to miss, especially if you have reconfigured to make sharing easy among team members, your *home* directory must be drwxr-xr-x

That’s 700, 600, and 755 for the numeric chown crowd.

Heather Dale House Concert – 2012-07-20

We’ve done this before, and liked it.  So we’ll do it again!

Heather Dale is a Canadian recording artist who cheerfully side-steps the sterotypes for both folk singer-songwriters and Celtic balladeers. Heather fuses traditional stories with a healthy mix of Celtic folk, world music and rock influences, and she excels at finding modern themes within old material.  She performs with her partner Ben Deschamps, and together they explore a lively, diverse folksong repertoire… a mix of original songs with fresh twists on traditional Celtic & folk material. “Her music is powerful stuff, reminiscent of Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan but with a depth and resonance rooted in its mythic sources.” (Vancouver Sun)

Visit for sound clips and further details about Heather’s music.

As for our concert details:

  • Doors open 6:30pm, music from 7-9 with intermission
  • $15 suggested donation
  • CDs will be available for purchase (and worthwhile!)
  • we’re a non-smoking house
  • we’ll have some soft drinks and snacks (and coffee) for intermission, feel free to bring some more and make it a pot-luck
  • we have a large friendly dog who likes music too

Reservations required!  House concerts have limited seating, we need to be sure we don’t overflow the living room!

Contact me to make a reservation – name, number of seats, and a way to contact you.  You can use this contact link, or any other way you know of to contact me.  I’ll get back to you with time and directions.  (We’re in West Rogers Park, near the intersection of Western and Touhy, easy on-street parking.)

EDIT: Date Change!  Originally planned for 2012-07-14, Heather’s touring schedule changed, and she will now be here 2012-07-20.

Free Kindle eBook Searches

I love my Kindle.  I had a Kindle 2 until it died, and Amazon’s customer support was great about trying to fix it, and then giving me a good deal on a Kindle 3.  Now I also have a Kindle Fire.  And I use Kindle Reader Apps on Windows and iOS platforms.

There are many free e-books available in Kindle format.  Google will help find them.

This post is about searching the Amazon Kindle Store to find temporarily free e-books.  There are thousands.

Many are junk by an incompetent writer that figured out how to self-publish via Amazon.

Many are good, by a writer that hasn’t been “discovered” yet.

Many are “loss leaders” by an established author, stirring up interest to benefit their most recent book.  This is often the best kind of deal, getting the first book in a series when the latest comes out.  Of course, then you’re tempted to spend money on the other books in the series…

I’ve been following a couple of blogs that regularly post information about the free books available.  Now that I have several hundred books queued up, of unknown quality, I’m going to take a different approach.  This page has some links to customized searches of the Amazon Kindle eBook Store.  I hope they’ll lead to interesting items of reasonable quality.  Feel free to copy the URLs and play with them yourself.

I’ve developed a few rules of thumb that tend to result in higher quality in my reading:

  1. Don’t get anything that doesn’t have at least a few reviews.  If there’s only one or two, they could be the author’s best friend or mother.  (A corollary that I haven’t been good about is that I should write more reviews.)
  2. Read, or at least skim, several reviews.  If there are red flags raised, get something else.

The searches below already encapsulate the rule “only look at things that are highly rated”.

The Basic Search: Published last 30 days, 4 or 5 stars, not public domain, ordered lowest price first.  All the other searches are refinements of The Basic Search, trying to get to material I might really be interested in more quickly.

NonFiction / Business / Management & Leadership (This category doesn’t have a lot of free material that’s any good, but every once in a while…)

Fiction (Many subcategories available that I’m not interested in, but I put the link here for easy reference)

Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers (There are subcategories available, I’d rather not separate further.)

Fiction / Science Fiction (There’s a separate category for Fantasy.)


Two Weeks in a Carry On

You can find other people’s techniques for this via Google.  I recently took a combined business and vacation trip that lasted two weeks, and I took only a “rollaboard” carry on bag. The business trip included a need for dress and business casual clothes.

This trip had an advantage over some hectic vacation trips in that I stayed in the same hotel for most of the two weeks I was gone. This let me find a laundry down the street, and have laundry done at the midpoint of the trip instead of hand washing in the hotel bathroom sink. Or paying exorbitant hotel laundry rates.

The weather was also an advantage toward light packing, late summer on the Mediterranean is very temperate, and warm (and bulky) clothes weren’t necessary.

My packing list:

3-1-1 bag

I carry this in the top outside pocket of the rollaboard, where it is easy to pull out and put back for security inspection.

hand sanitizer
moisturizer cream

Toiletries Bag in Carryon

dental floss
diarrhea treatment
moist towelettes
razor (disposable, replace every few trips)
2 sporks
surgical rubber braid clothesline

Carryon Contents

3-1-1 and toiletries bags, above

daypack (large enough to hold a water bottle)
laundry bag
long sleeved t-shirt (turned out I never wore it)
2 dress shirts
3 casual shirts
2 polo shirts
shoes – dress
shoes – sport sandals
socks (7pr)
trousers, Dress (1pr)
trousers, Business Casual (1pr)
trousers, Casual (1pr)
underwear (8pr)
undershirts (4) (turned out to be too many, could have managed with 2)


Batteries for noise canceling headphones
camera / batteries
camera charger

Cell phone charger

Headphones, Noise Canceling (w/ battery)
inflatable travel pillow
Kindle Charger
business cards
mp3 player and charger
laptop power brick
GTD folders
Travel documents folder
iPod Touch charger
Plug Adapter
travel e-tickets
travel router
USB power converter

Wear or Carry on my person

cash (US Dollars, use ATM in airport on arrival for local currency)
Cell phone
charge & ATM card
driver’s license
iPod Touch (preloaded, there’s another post coming)
pen & small notebook
shoes – walking
casual sport coat

I overpacked a little bit, but not too badly.  And it all really did fit in the rollaboard and briefcase, even with souvenirs on the way home.  (Buying small things helps.)

This was the first time I’ve gone this long in a single small bag.  Now that I’ve done it this will always be my goal.