Good grief

I made trip out to Virginia last summer. While there, I experienced my first earthquake since my year in San Francisco decades ago, and my first hurricane since Agnes in 1972. A few minutes ago the house shook for 30 to 45 seconds. It wasn’t as strong as the Virginia quake, where I was near the epicenter, but it was unquestionably an earthquake, the first I ever felt in Kansas. Should I expect a hurricane here in the near future?

Update (Sunday evening): I just felt an aftershock. This one was weaker than Saturday’s and only lasted perhaps ten seconds.

Old-time cooking

My vacation last week started disastrously (see below), but once I arrived at my friends’ home it improved markedly. One of the highlights was an impromptu jam session with the young fiddler Roger and a couple of his friends. I just happened to have my little portable recorder at hand.

Different instruments require different micing techniques. Fiddles, I’ve read, sound best with the microphone positioned two or three feet above the fiddle. With banjos, the further from the microphone, the better — in the next room, say, or across the street, or in the next county.

Old Mother Logo:

[audio: Mother Logo.mp3]

Cluck Old Hen:

[audio: Old Hen.mp3]

Update: Here’s Roger in action at a contra dance:

I can see again

… or, less melodramatically, I finally got the new glasses I needed. I’ve read far less than usual these past few years because reading has been a tedious process: read 20 minutes, holding the book and my head at uncomfortable angles so the print is within the narrow zone of close focus, until my vision blurs; wait 20 minutes, until I can focus on nearby things again; read 15 minutes, until my vision blurs again; throw the book against wall and listen to a CD instead. My health insurance covers eye exams but not the glasses themselves, and even at the cheap mall outlets a new pair of glasses is still beyond my budget, so I tried ordering a pair from 39 Dollar I need varifocal lenses with hefty corrections for nearsightedness and astigmatism, so my glasses cost about twice $39, but they still were only about a third the price quoted by the salesman at the mall.

Am I satisfied with them? Not entirely. The frames need a bit of adjustment, which I’m hesitant to do myself, and while I do have good distance and close-up vision now, intermediate vision, such as is necessary when working at a computer, is confined to an annoyingly small region. I may need to get a second pair specifically for work.

However, I’ve never been completely satisfied with any of the glasses I’ve purchased in the last 20 years. My new pair, even with its problems, is a better fit than the second-last pair, which was expensively mis-manufactured and ill-fitted by the optician at his shop. And my new pair does pass the crucial test: I can read all evening long.



I’m going to be away from the computer for a few days. Like Pete, I’m taking Moribito with me, though in my case it’s the book.

My picks for the top five anime endings should appear one a day. As you will discover, my taste is very different from Astro’s, but there is one we both chose. I don’t have time to write commentary on my picks tonight; perhaps when I get back.

Oldternative tunes and more

The crowds were smaller than usual at Winfield, and the camping and campground picking were off-site this year, but the music as as good as ever. I’ve got a bunch of pictures and some field recordings to survey and edit. Until then, here are some videos of this year’s discoveries, The Wiyos ((This actually was their second year at Winfield, but I missed them last time.)) and Doug Smith.

What happens when you combine Irish dancing with Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Cutlass dancing.

My friends and I stopped at the relocated Carp Camp on the way home from Winfield last night. Here’s a bit of the music we heard:


The sound isn’t wonderful (crank it up), but it might give you an idea of the energy flowing there.

There will be many more pictures of Winfield and Carp Camp when I have time to sort and edit everything in the camera.

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program for a bit of reality

(I just got an email from a friend checking to see how I am, and I thought I ought to make an announcement here in case anyone else is wondering.)

The remains of Tropical Storm Lowell (an east Pacific storm that nobody paid much attention to) dropped ten inches of rain in the Wichita area yesterday. Several of the rivers in the region are well above flood stage. Fortunately for me, none of the flooding is near my neighborhood, even though the Little Arkansas River loops around it.

My principal, selfish concern with the flooding is to what extent it will interfere with the Walnut Valley Festival next weekend. The spot where I normally camp is currently under at least ten feet of water. (If I do go this year, I’ll be day-tripping. Even if the Walnut River is back within its banks in time, the mud will be deep and gooey in the campgrounds.)


Carp Camp, September, 2008. Here’s what it looked like a year ago. (Photo from The Winfield Courier.)


Right now I’m playing loud music to drown out today’s treat: a bunch of no-longer-young drag queens lipsyncing to mediocre music down at the corner. No pictures; I want to forget the images, not share them with unwary visitors. There’s also an ice cream vendor playing tinny banjo recordings of teevee themes in the parking lot across the alley.