Thursday, 26 February 2009

Our newest toy ...

The netbook - after all the years of 'bigger is better' in computers, we've stepped down to an 8.9" screen netbook. The trusty laptop has been a constant companion while travelling - dumping pictures from the camera, emailing, checking up on the latest news from family and the world, even working on report cards. With 'Streets and Trips' and 'Autoroute' and a GPS stuck on the dash, we've navigated our way through Canada, the U.S., Sweden, Norway and Denmark. We now have navigation charts for all waterways in the United States and the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal System so a small laptop was a logical alternative to a GPS navigation system for boating. We use the SeaClear chart-reading program.The most expensive 'amateur' GPS systems have a 7" screen, so a 9" screen on a laptop which would also serve our computing needs is a luxury.

After a fair amount of investigation, we decided to go with the Acer Aspire One Netbook. I found the HP netbook appealing (I have had only GREAT experiences with HP) but the extra HDD size (160GB vs 60GB) and the lack of speakers in the HP made our decision for us. The lack of a CD/DVD drive in netbooks is somewhat of a pain for installing software, but memory sticks seem to be filling the gap so far. Update ... just figured out how to share the DVD drive on another networked computer.

Skype has been installed and the built-in webcam and microphone seem to work fine so we're good-to-go in that department.

Speaking of 'phone', we cut the cord with Bell this week. We're now VOC with our cable provider Cogeco - unlimited long-distance any time of day in Canada and the U.S. and exceptional rates abroad (2 cents per minute to most countries!!) We have hesitated to leave Ma Bell, but were tired of the surprises when the bill came. So far, we've seen no difference except a $30 per month saving.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

It's official - The Festival of the Islands is no more ...

Sad news in the Gananoque Reporter this morning - the 17-year-old Festival of the Islands is done. Declining attendance and the misfortune of bad weather last year has racked up debt (small debt in the bigger scheme of things) that has made continuing the Festival impossible. Now is a good time, if you haven't already, to thank the hundreds of volunteers who have made the festival such an amazing event. Naming names would be foolish - there have been so many involved and even though a few names come to mind I would be afraid of overlooking someone. The beauty of the festival was that every contributor, great or small, made the festival work.

Over the past 17 years we have been treated to performances at the Waterfront Stage by some legendary performers - artists I certainly never expected to see perform in Gananoque: The Association, Great Big Sea, Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, John Kay and Steppenwolf, to name just a very few. Although the waterfront stage shows were the showcase of the Festival, there were events all over town for the whole week for young and old. We'll miss the nightly parade of people with lawnchairs in hand, trudging down to the waterfront. Even if they didn't know who was performing, they knew they were in for an evening of great musical entertainment and a chance to meet with their neighbours and friends and others whom they had not seen since the last Festival. And let's not forget the fireworks - hundreds of boats and tens of thousands of people enjoying the most spectacular fireworks ever seen in this area.

A few years ago I wrote and recorded a jingle for the Festival, recorded at Summit Sound in Westport with the help of Cliff Edwards. We used an old Yamaha DX-7, a primitive Roland drum machine and the studio singers. I've only ever written one jingle and I still remember the first time I heard it on the radio! Gan-an-o-que doesn't scan easily, but it really ended up being quite tuneful. Give it a listen and think back to all your Festival memories. The hole in the middle is called the "do-nut" and it's left for voice-over announcement of daily events.

btw - as I tried to figure out how to post an audio file when BlogSpot only provides for video postings, I finally figured out how to create a video slideshow with an audio track. This video only has one image, but I know now how to add others. Get prepared for future postings!!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The kitchen saga begins ...

After 30 years of service, our kitchen is about to be overhauled. When we bought this house, there was a corner cabinet and a small cabinet with a sink and that was it. The first thing we did after moving in was renovate the kitchen. Money was tight, so the cabinetry was home-made, built in the driveway with a $15 table saw bought at a yard sale. Cabinet frames were ripped and sanded from #4 pine boards and V-joint pine was the order of the day. A suspended ceiling was installed to hide ductwork, plumbing and wiring and the whole job looked pretty spiffy. We've been through 3 fridges, 2 dishwashers, 2 stoves and a couple rounds of washer/drier and it's time to move on. The washer and drier are getting moved to a different room (built as a whirlpool room but that ain't gonna happen!). We bought new appliances last weekend (going with the current stainless craze) and have had two meetings with what will very likely be our cabinet guys. We'll still do a lot of the work ourselves, but we're at a stage in our lives where building our own cabinets again is not high on our list of 'things we need to do before we die'. More posts to follow as the planning continues and construction begins ...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Irving Berlin

On Sunday, April 26th, MacNeil's Landing Family Restaurant in Gananoque is presenting another in their series of Dinner Concerts - this time "Words and Music - The Music of Irving Berlin", with Mary Wonnacott-Hills, Don Price and Paul Harding.

Since purchasing MacNeil's Landing, owner Cliff Edwards has offered monthly dinner/concerts featuring local performers as well as artists from a broader field - Nancy White, Kelli Trottier, Denny Will, The Abrams Brothers and The Wilkins. Local performers have included Dennis Curtis, Roger James, David Tompkins, Diane Stapley, Maryanne Wainman, Scott Davey, Len Whalen, Tim Hallman, Dan Kasaboski, Doug Gravelle and Bob Arlidge.

Born in Russia and brought to the U.S. at age five, Irving Berlin dropped out of school in his early teens and taught himself to play the piano while working as a singing waiter from 1904 to 1907. He played almost entirely in the key of F-sharp, allowing him to stay on the black keys as much as possible. This wasn't unheard-of for a self-taught musician, since it's easier for untrained fingers to play the black keys (which are elevated and widely spaced) without hitting wrong notes. In a 1962 interview, Berlin said, "The black keys are right there, under your fingers. The key of C is for people who study music." Cecil Adams

Now I won't feel nearly so guilty when I play a song in the key of C!!!

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