Project du Jour: Little Free Libraries

“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” ~ Frank Zappa

imageRecently a friend of mine reminded me of the Little Free Libraries. Lauren is building her first house and wants to create one of these libraries as part of that project.

Little Free Libraries are a community movement in the United States and worldwide that offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, and Noox (Neighbourhood bOOk eXchange), amongst other terms. ~ Wikipedia

The History:

In the beginning—2009–Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.  He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it.  He built several more and gave them away.  Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.

Rick Brooks of Madison, whom he met at a seminar on promoting green practices and a vibrant local economy for Hudson, entered the picture as a colleague exploring potential social enterprises.  The two saw opportunities to achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good.

They were inspired by many different ideas:

  • Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries around the turn of the 19th to 20th century.
  • The heroic achievements of Miss Lutie Stearns, a librarian who brought books to nearly 1400 locations in Wisconsin through “traveling little libraries” between 1895 and 1914.
  • “Take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces.
  • Neighborhood kiosks, TimeBanking and community gift-sharing networks
  • Grassroots empowerment movements in Sri Lanka, India and other countries worldwide.

Looking on the LFL map below, there are NO little free libraries in my neighborhood. Way cool.

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Then there was the battle of the Little Free Libraries.  :0)

If you are interested in building your own Little Free Library check out the  Neighborhood Library Builders Guild on Facebook. You can design yours to be based on something you love like music, a TV show, a movie or whatever. Check out this one designed to look like a Tardis.

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Now comes the fun. What motif do I want to adopt? I will be getting books from my Dad who has a library at his house and he needs to downsize. A sample plan is located here.

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More to follow …

Posted in Books, Bucket List, Hobbies, library | Tagged | Leave a comment

Test Run of Instagram 2014

Having dropped my WinFone, I finally purchased an iPhone. Yes, I gave up on the Windows Phone because I came to feel that Microsoft was not very interested in overcoming the huge deficiency when it comes to the shortage of Apps that run on their phone. I couldn’t play with so many cool social media applications because true Windows Apps didn’t exist. Finally as a Yelp Elite I can check into places and do other things that I could not do with the WinFone.

So on my first day I installed Instagram and started sharing pictures from my iPhone. It is brain-dead easy to take a picture, create a look by changing the tone and colors, add a lovely frame and post to my Instagram page. When I want to, I can also post to my Facebook and Twitter worlds at the same time.

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Most of the setup is automatic, only requiring me to select a unique name (thus the g4nd4lfe handle), connect to the FB and Twitter accounts, and find some like-minded people to follow. I can view photos from all over the world and friend anyone who’s pictures I appreciate. And I can search my address book and Facebook friends for like accounts that I can follow.

I have also discovered Gramblr so that I can load pictures from my computer. It is a little extra work, but is doable. I have such a huge library that I like to dip into the past periodically. Instagram has a downside where you have to format every picture to a 550 X 550 format. That’s easy to do with new pictures, but much harder with existing pictures from your computer.

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I’m looking forward to seeing more of my peeps on Instagram. Friend me there and I will reciprocate.

Posted in Art, Internet, Photograph, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Robin Hilt ~ Jazz Vocalist

Photographer Mark Gladding took some pictures of my band at a charity event last weekend. I’ve seen maybe ten of the hundreds of photos he shot. This one is my favorite so far:

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Robin Hilt is one very special and favorite vocalists. Seattle has so much talent and so many great bands to perform for. But Robin choose the Microsoft Jumpin’ Jive Orchestra as one of the bands she performs for. When I hear Robin I think of local phenom Greta Matassa, Etta Jones and other world-class female vocalists.

Here is one of the many videos I have with Robin delivering the goods!

I really love to have friends and family attend the concerts and dances because I love to amaze and impress them with this vocalist, this band, and our music. Hope to see you at one of our concerts soon.

Posted in Band, Female vocalists, Jazz, Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra, Photograph | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manufactured Beauty ~ Body Image Issues

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Facebook is the home of so many people trying to help the weaker people in our lives. By weaker I mean those who struggle with personal issues that impact upon their ability to enjoy live. One of those problems is self esteem. Men and women who feel how they look is more important than who they are are handicapped.

People are unique, I’m tall, you’ve got awesome hair, she as a lovely smile, and he has strength. In this video, we see a graphic example of what the world of fashion considers important. Sadly, it has nothing to do with what kind of person you are.

The ability to see beauty in every person, well almost every person, is a true blessing. Each person brings certain skills, information, and experience to those they meet. So why would one limit their value to something as superficial as how they look? Yes, that is obvious to most of us, but then, that’s not exciting to mass media. You know, normal, healthy people are not good fodder for their audiences.

Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman’s happiness and wellness. Read on here for tips to develop a healthy body image.

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Here’s hoping you are working on becoming as good a person as you can, helping those you care about to succeed in life, and being as good an example as you can. Cheers, peeps.

Posted in Culture, Education, Health and wellness | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Super Geek League

524663_10200306616171931_900406415_nThis Seattle phenomenon is called the Super Geek League, where I have some friends playing with shock music.  I keep meaning to find time to go to their show and now that they are releasing their third CD, will have to do that soon.

I don’t know much about Super Geek League. I had no idea what the hell I was getting into when I stepped into Cherry’s for the opening night of Music City North. I encountered Super Geek League. It was a blur. White suited brass with steampunk masks and plastic sunflowers. Ringmasters in short shorts and riding crops. A space age diva bringing down the house on vocals. Whatever the hell they are, it was incredible. Funky, soulful and just the right amount of frightening. ~ FOH Photo

If you are in Seattle and the Gods are smiling upon you, you might be able to catch a show. If not, here’s a teaser.  Smile

Posted in Art, Band, Culture, Dancing, Seattle | Tagged | Leave a comment

FAQ: Name Those Saxes

“And I saw the sax line-up that he had behind him and I thought, I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in his band. So I sort of persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on the hire purchase plan.” ~ David Bowie

One of the most common questions I get is what instrument do I play. I usually just say sax but there is much more to say about that. Most people aren’t that interested, but for those who are, here is the list the kinds of saxes I’ve owned”

“Play difficult and interesting things. If you play boring things, you risk losing your appetite. Saxophone can be tedious with too much of the same.” Steve Lacy

I have to say that it would be much easier to play one or two of the kinds of saxes than to play so many. A number of my instructors have watched me futz with overtones, altissimo, and other voices and said I should concentrate on one kind of sax, say the alto sax, before I do others because it takes a fair amount of time to get it right.

imageBb Soprillo Sax by Benedict Eppelsheim. This diminutive instrument is so hard to play it borders upon the insane. I use this instrument as a color piece for songs like the Star Wars Bar Theme aka the “Intergalactic Rag”. In this picture note that the octave pip is actually in the mouthpiece! (Click on the picture for a bigger view.)

Eb Sopranino Sax by Yanagisawa. This sweetie, titled an Elimona, was purchased so that I could get better at the bigger soprano sax. The voicing is hard to perfect, but it certainly made playing the soprano *much* easier. It also allows me to do a soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto sax quartet with any standard sax quartet chart.

BitsF Mezzo-Soprano Sax by Conn. I have written extensively about this pristine instrument here. I even commissioned an arrangement done by my good friend Merlin Williams. Here is a recording of one of the times we played it. Not the best version, but you get what you get when the video camera work is done at a concert:

C Soprano Sax by Epplesheim & Reese. This was an experiment by the two manufacturers. I pictured myself playing with my wife on piano by reading over her shoulder. You can read more about this instrument:

Bb Soprano Sax in a number of incarnations is one of my favorite saxes to play. Once I got the voicing, I have used it extensively in my sax xTets (where x equals the number of players who show up). My favorite is the Yanagisawa 992 pictured here next to my sopranino:

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C Melody Sax by Conn. I wrote extensively about this instrument here. I have two of these now because I’m storing my son’s version.

Eb Alto Sax – This was my first kind of sax I played in 5th grade. I don’t have the original instrument a Buescher. I started with the Couf Superba I alto and tenor sax when I returned to music performance after a 30 year break. Then I bought a matched set of Yamaha Custom Z’s.

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I have a very lovely Selmer Ref 54 Limited “Hummingbird” edition sax. I had never appreciated Selmer saxes because of the well documented intonation problems. Pro’s like the sound and could adjust the pitch of the problem notes on the fly. But us mortals like consistency. So where playing a scale on a Mark VI would result in some notes being as much as 25 cents off, plus or minus, on a Couf Superba I, Yamaha Z, and Ref 54 the worst notes would be ~10 cents.

Bb Tenor Sax – This was the third kind of sax I tried. Alto and Bari sax voicing came to me very easily. Tenor required a lot of long tone work. I started with the Couf Superba I, the Yamaha Custom Z and ended up with the Selmer Ref 36. My wife has a Selmer Ref 54 tenor, but I really prefer the SBA sound of the Ref 36.

Eb Baritone Sax – The only bari I have ever owned is a Yanagisawa 991. It is a sweet ride with key works that play buttery smooth. It’s the instrument my son played in high school. And it’s currently the instrument I play the most.

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Bb Bass Sax – I started with a beautiful Buescher bass sax and moved to my mid-life crisis ride a one of a kind Eppelsheim bass sax that was keyed to low A and had a custom engraving put on it. I even spec’d the color of this new instrument. Unlike the Buescher, the Eppelsheim plays as easily as a modern bari, with no need to do the alternate fingerings to get the instrument to speak, but still needs a … lot … of … air.

F Conn-O-Sax – There are more kinds of saxes, most of which I don’t own. I did get to play a Conn-O-Sax, an unusual variant of the saxophone with a straight-conical bore instrument in F (one step above the E♭ alto) with a slightly curved neck and spherical bell. The instrument, which combined a saxophone bore and keys with a bell shaped similar to that of a heckelphone, was intended to imitate the timbre of the English horn and was produced only in 1929 and 1930. The instrument had a key range from low A to high G. Fewer than 100 Conn-O-Saxes are in existence, and they are eagerly sought by collectors. I wrote about it here.

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I did use to own this oddity:

Keilwerth Toneking 3000 Jazzophone which I wrote about here.

I still own this bad boy, the Goofus aka the Couesnophone and wrote about it here.

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There are some more fun instruments on that post including the Play-A-Sax:

My challenge remains to play sax well enough that people invite me to sit in with way too many bands. But I certainly have gotten to play some very nice instruments. Be well.

Posted in Saxophone | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let Post Offices Replace Payday Lenders

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Vote for this idea by signing this petition.

A few days ago, a diary was posted explaining that the US Inspector General had recently endorsed the idea of the United States Post Office offering simple banking services in addition to its normal mail delivery service.

imageWhile this idea might seem foreign to many Americans, in the past the post office actually offered banking services for over 50 years. Per The New Republic, beginning in 1911:

“…the Postal Savings System allowed Americans to deposit cash with certain branch post offices, at 2 percent interest. By 1947, the system held deposits for over four million customers. Though dismantled in 1967 (after banks offered higher interest rates and eroded its market share), the post office continues to issue domestic and international money orders, including $22.4 billion worth in 2011, as well as prepaid debit cards through a deal with American Express.”

Putting aside the sad fact that banks once offered 2% interest rates (and you would now be lucky to get even half a percent), today banks could offer basic banking services such as check-cashing, saving accounts, and even small-dollar loans similar to payday lenders, yet at much lower interest rates which could potentially save low-income Americans thousands of dollars per household per year.

Read more…

Posted in Economics, Education, Government, Guides, Money | Tagged , , | Leave a comment