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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If you can't say something nice...

I was supposed to record a podcast on Sunday, since that's when I normally record podcasts, for release on Monday, since that's when I normally release them.

Right now, I don't have anything in particular I want to say.  So I haven't done a podcast, and it might be a while till I do.

Sorry if that bothers anybody.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night, I'm supposed to go to an Open House up at the school I'm allegedly attending this fall.  I suppose I'll go, though I am feeling very low right now.  This Consumer isn't feeling much Confidence at the moment.   Maybe I'll feel better about it tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Doing it right

Just found what looks to be a great tool for my podcasting, called "Callburner."  Found it via The Conversations Network, a 501c3 non-profit that I think of as the equivalent of NPR for podcasting.   For some reason, I don't think of NPR's podcasts, as being the equivalent of NPR for podcasting.  Go figure.

I was researching "PodCorps," a network of stringers who will record (for example) the end of a long distance phone interview in their own area.  I think I signed up for it, but now that I think about it, I'm not sure.  Anyway, was watching this video prepared by Doug Kaye and Phil Sharpe on recording Skype interviews, and they mentioned Callburner as one of the best options for doing that. 

Recording from a Skype stream isn't necessarily straightforward without using hardware external to your computer.  There are a number of pretty fair options for recording such calls via software on the same machine you're using for the call itself.  There are a number of reasons I like Callburner for Skype calls, though I haven't actually gotten to use it yet.

1.  It's free for Skype-to-Skype calls, if both ends are using Callburner.  I guess the two copies of Callburner talk to each other to make sure there are at least two installations on the call.

2.  It's free for Skype conference calls, if there are at least two Callburners on the call.  Any or all the Callburner installs can record the call.

3.  It is extremely simple to install and configure.  Most of the default selections will be adequate for most uses.  It can either automatically record all Skype calls unless you tell it not to, call-by-call, or vice versa.  It can do that beeping thing to indicate the call is being recorded, or not, as needed.

4.  It is extremely simple to select what I consider the best option for my purposes.  The way I set mine, it records one CD-quality stereo file with the remote caller in one channel, and the local caller in the other.  It simultaneously creates two mono files, one for each end of the call, and again CD quality or better.  The former is fine for most uses, the latter is ideal for editing for use in podcasts.

The one part I'm a bit iffy on is the price.  I'm not claiming it isn't worth 50 euros, it is.  It's just that I'd find it tough to spare, what, $66 for the software without a revenue source driven by its use.  Again, it's free as described above, and fully free to try for 14 days.

But I've recorded a Skype Test Call, and recorded my own call to my K7 line for the podcast, and it Just Works.  In the circumstances, I couldn't tell ya from quality of the far end recording.  But it worked as expected, and I didn't stumble across any options I didn't understand, or any options I couldn't set the way I felt appropriate.

It Could Have Been Worse

So, found out that folks don't consider me an expert on New Media.  I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.  I'm not paid to be an expert on new media.  I don't have a degree.  I'm just some guy who's been doing new media, and the so-called social media, for a few years.  And I don't own a suit, and have only one tie.

So the Seagull Consultants will do what they always do -- fly in, crap all over everything, and fly out.

Best to not be bitter.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Missed a day

I missed 3/26/2009, so I guess I'm done with NaBloPoMo.  Oh, well, that's the kind of month it's been.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Public Domain?

   “There are One Hundred New Poets in the villages of the land,” according to Vachel Lindsay's “A Handy Guide for Beggars.” And, last I checked, there are two hundred and ninety-six serialized books on PODIOBOOKS DOT COM. The majority were recorded and posted by their authors. Maybe ten are serialized versions of Public Domain works.

Two of the latter were recorded and submitted by me, Grizzly Smith. My third Podiobook will be “going live,” as Evo puts it, at the end of March 2009. There are other sites online offering good recorded readings of Public Domain works. The nice folks at PodioRacket asked me to explain, briefly, why I go through all that work to produce recordings of Public Domain works as Podiobooks.

About the time I first started listening to podcasts, I discovered the audio books on PODIOBOOKS DOT COM. After having listened to regular audiobooks for years, I recognized something special there. Listening to books on tape, and books on CD, I kept thinking to myself, “I can do better than that!” And on PODIOBOOKS DOT COM, I found people who were Doing Better Than That, much much better, and on a regular and continuing basis. I reviewed several of my favorite Podiobooks on my “Grizzly's Growls” podcast. Frankly, I can't bear to listen to most Books on Tape anymore.

To be honest, the reason I started my own “Stories from the Hiber-Nation” podcast is that I ran out of stuff to talk about for my regular show. Reading books gave me a way to continue podcasting without having to write a lot of new content myself. I'm not a writer. I haven't written anything substantial in decades, so I didn't think I'd fit in with the authors at PODIOBOOKS. So I started a new podcast just for me reading stories – because I like to read stories. And I read Public Domain books, because that was what I had available.

I found out I liked doing it. So I recorded more. People told me I read well. So I recorded more. Then I got involved in NaPodPoMo, and needed to produce 30 podcasts in 30 days. So I recorded more.

Somewhere in the midst of recording the four books I've read so far on “Hiber-Nation,” I stumbled across a book on Podiobooks from an author I knew hadn't put it there himself. I'm pretty sure he's dead. Turned out, the book was in the Public Domain.

Wait, Public Domain books recorded for Podiobooks? You can do that? Imagine my chagrin. And I listened, and thought to myself, “I can do better than that!”

I admit I cheated a little bit. I took two of the books I'd already recorded for the show, renamed the files, pulled them into Audacity again, cleaned up the editing a bit, modified or replaced the intros and outros, changed the ID3 tags to suit Evo's exacting standards, created and added cover art, and re-encoded them at 128 K Joint Stereo as required by the standards. There's a utility available to handle most of the complexities of the tagging for me, and I switched to the latest Beta of Audacity to be able to export in Joint Stereo directly. I had to learn how to create my own cover art, and frankly that turned out merely okay.

But I was cheating, because I didn't have the raw recordings to work from, so I had to work from the archived MP3s from my show. Lost some audio quality there, sad to say. At least the readings were as good as I could make them in the first place.

Now the third book, “Wild Animals I Have Known,” by Ernest Thompson Seton coming out on March 31st, was mostly recorded to Podiobooks standards in the first place. And for the last several episodes, I recorded knowing in advance they were going to Podiobooks. So from the same raw recordings, I edited and produced my regular shows, but saved the Audacity projects with the intros and outros in separate tracks, exported my shows with the show tracks, then exported Podiobooks files with Podiobooks tracks as needed. Much cleaner and better quality.

Now you're asking yourself, why did I go to all that time and trouble for Public Domain works? They're not my books, I didn't write them. Couldn't I just put them up in one of the other places that specialize in Audio versions of PD books?

I considered offering my readings to Librivox, or to Project Gutenberg, or one of the other places that offer audio versions of Public Domain books. But I heard a few of the books from there. Their recordings are okay, sometimes just as good as regular Books on Tape or Books on CD. But as I said earlier – “I can do better than that!” I'd been doing Better Than That for a couple of years.

And the recordings there are also required to be put in the Public Domain, too, just as the textfiles are. My podcasts are not in the Public Domain, though they are Creative Commons licensed. You can help yourself to a copy, but they remain My Work. If you don't think a well-done presentation of any book is a creative work in itself, you haven't been listening to Podiobooks.

If I'm going to work hard enough to Do Better Than That, I don't feel obligated to give all my work to the Public Domain. If you want to do that with your work, feel free. Lots of people do, and for very good and noble reasons. And they do just fine.

I like the mechanisms that Podiobooks offers for receiving audio books. Anyone who wants to can dig back in the archives of my podcasts and find the readings I did for my shows, download them manually – but it's kind of a nuisance. Podiobooks presents the book chapter by chapter from the beginning through to the end, just the way you'd get any podcast, and just the way you'd read a paper book.

I like the audience I get with Podiobooks. I have no idea how many listeners there are to Podiobooks overall, but I know in the couple of weeks since they were first posted, my readings have had more than twice the audience they had on my own podcasts. Like most podcasters, I want to reach the whole world. Podiobooks is at least a much larger chunk of the world than those who stumble across my own podcasts.

I like the people, the Podiobooks authors. I like the feeling of working virtually surrounded with folks who are putting their own creative output on the line, and depending largely on their own voice talents to convey the content, the intent, and the quality of their writing. To paraphrase Vachel Lindsay, they are “the Children of Don Quixote who see Giants where most folks see windmills. … They are mine own people, my nobler kin to whom I have been recreant, and so I finally dedicate these books to them.”

And I like to think that when I add a recording of a book by Lindsay, or Seton, or some other skilled but long-dead author to the Podiobooks library, I bring back to life a book that folks have stopped reading, because it's too old, and the language seems too hard, but listening to this humble storyteller is easier and more understandable. I like to think I add to the breadth of the selection and the footprint of the collection on the Internet. Maybe someone stumbling across my readings will fall face-first into an original work by one of the authors here. Gee, did I push that metaphor too far? Like I said, I'm not a writer. But I can Do Better Than That.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are you staying?

I've noticed that several blogs haven't gotten in touch with me regarding keeping their blogs on the NaBloPoMo Collective feed, and they either have Expired or will soon.  Here's a copy of the list:

Showname feedURL Website Update Expires
360 Degree Nepal 02/18/09 04/04/09
A Year of Pix 01/30/09 03/16/09
Carma Sez 01/30/09 03/16/09
Changeling Turkey 03/21/09 05/05/09
Here's What I Don't Get 03/23/09 05/07/09
Janana Bee 02/05/09 03/22/09
Left Coast Cowboys 01/30/09 03/16/09
Lucy's Life 03/03/09 04/17/09
Make a Note 02/03/09 03/20/09
Marta's 03/15/09 04/29/09
Notes from Hades 02/03/09 03/20/09
Personal Pen 03/05/09 04/19/09
Talkin' with Teenie 01/30/09 03/16/09
The Obnoxious SAHM 02/28/09 04/14/09
this ain't livin' 02/28/09 04/14/09

If your blog has expired and you wanted to stay on the Feed, let me know in the Collective Feed group, and I'll update things for you.


My first Bit Part

Wanted to share with you, my first voice acting bit part.  I was in Sally’s Daddy vs. The Alligator over at Misfit Audio, and I played Alligator # 2.  Quoting from the shownotes:

"Imagine being a school teacher, and one of your young students has a fantastic story, about three, big, ugly alligators, and one brave daddy.  And of course this happens, on a sunny afternoon, in one of our southern states. Could this true or is it one heck of an imagination of a young girl? You decide!"

Written and Edited by: Charles W. Russell
Directed by: Capt. John Tadrzak
Post-Production: April Sadowski

I'm downloading it as I type this, so I don't know if I was any good!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shamelessly stolen from my friends at Raise a Racket (because I'm a huge Pip Ballantine Fan!)

Shamelessly stolen from my friends at

Raise a Racket                            (because I'm a huge Pip Ballantine Fan!)

Philippa Ballantine Releases Today- Interview upcoming

Posted: 20 Mar 2009 03:18 PM PDT

Philippa Ballantine releases her newest novel Weather Child today on

Weather Child by Philippa Ballantine

Weather Child by Philippa Ballantine

The blurb for Weather Child:

New Zealand’s first podiobook author, Philippa Ballantine, brings her first tale set totally in homeland. Step back in time and sideways into an alternate world, where magicians and seraphim are found only on the shores of the Long White Cloud. Between two world wars, Jack and Faith find themselves unravelling a conspiracy to turn the Awakened children of Aoteroa to dark purposes.

Listen to the promo:

Or download the Weather Child Promo.

Philippa’s Bio:

Award-nominated New Zealand novelist and podcaster Philippa Ballantine has had three books published; Weaver’s Web, Chasing the Bard and Digital Magic.
Her main projects in 2009 are a collaborative writing project with Tee Morris, and podcasting Digital Magic. She has also had a number of roles in other podcast novels.

And you can find out more:

Philippa Ballantine Website
Weather Child- the 1st podiobook set in New Zealand
Erotica a la carte- audience picked ingrediants make a spicy podcast:
Chasing the Bard- dark historic fantasy
Digital Magic- The future and the Fey collide:
Fan page on Facebook
Twitter PhilippaJane

Tune in to our next podcast episode to hear our interview and discover whether I sound like a croaking frog next to Philippa’s lovely dulcet tones and exotic New Zealand accent.


This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just a little snow

Today, we had a Winter Weather Advisory.  No warning of Severe Weather, no expectation of anything scary.  Just a little snow.  Compare this picture to the ones from the BIG SNOW the other day.  Which do you think looks worse?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Interesting Find

In doing a "Who's Talking About Me?" Google search today, I came across an interesting website about the true subject of "Monarch, the Big Bear of Tallac," by Ernest Thompson Seton, that I recorded for Gee, did I mention that before?  ;-)

It's a site called "The Monarch Bear Institute."  Showed up way, way down the list in my Google search, and it has some interesting historical info.  This includes the name of the real "Lan Kelyan."  I wonder if Kelly's experiences with the bear were in any way similar to Kellyan's in the book?

No, not really.  And as it turns out, I now have another interesting Bear Book to read for Hiber-Nation.  Do I try to do both that and "Flatland" at the same time, kind of alternating, or bite the bullet on "Flatland," or just do the new one?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Compared to What?

Was just thinking about my Podiobooks version of "A Handy Guide for Beggars."  Evo Terra told me that non-fiction doesn't make a big splash on Podiobooks, most of the time.  Probably true enough; there's a lot of good fiction there.  I find it hard to stop by and not subscribe to yet another novel.

After the initial burst of folks, "Beggars" has consistently gotten one new subscriber a day.  That's certainly not earth-shaking, relative to the original fiction other folks put up.  But it struck me suddenly: this book is almost a century old.  In how many other venues is "Beggars" getting one new reader a day?  At how many local public libraries does one person a day walk in to check out that book?

At Podiobooks, they do.  Because I put it there.

That's not huge.  But it's something, huh?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

While There's Still Time

Still slowly making my way through my backlog of podcasts to listen to.  While listening to a podcast from the DragonCon last year, I found out about "Give Us A Minute," a podcast started as a memorial for Joe Murphy, a podcaster who passed away from liomyosarcoma a couple of years back.  He was a well-loved man, people miss him, and want something they can do in his honor.  The GUAM podcast is part of that effort, and I respect that.

So now I've added those to the podcasts I need to listen to.  Been a while since there was a new one; Tee Morris hosts them, and he's not only a busy guy, but since he knew Joe, it's hard for him to talk about.  Though I didn't have the honor of knowing him, I understand.  I have at least one person I've never talked about on the podcast, and probably never will.  But I know the feeling.

And I was thinking about the International Listening Year, and it struck me -- this would be an obvious purpose for the project.  There are all sorts of folks who never get to tell their stories.  Sometimes they are old, and some never have a chance to be old.  Wouldn't that be a good thing, to give someone a chance to tell their story, while there's still time?

Just a thought, hopefully not in bad taste on my part.

I started podcasting, and listening to podcasts, in February of 2007.  Joe passed on April 1 of that year.  I feel like I really missed something.  Goes that way, sometimes.  One hardly ever knows how much longer there is.  And then it's too late.

The other day, my Mom listened to one of the audio books I recorded.  I was really anxious to share that with her.  And she mentioned, "You know, your Dad used to record stories on his reel-to-reel recorder."  I'm told I look a lot like him and sound like him.  He passed away maybe 30 years ago.  And I don't know where those tapes went.

Maybe it's time to record those voices in your life, while there's still time?  Either with the StoryCorps "National Day of Listening" project, or with ILY.  Not everyone is a podcaster.  Some of us are.  Use your tools, and give them a voice.

I'd be tempted to volunteer to help with the podcast, but not having known the man, that might also be in bad taste.  I have plenty of time at the moment (unemployed like much of the world).  But no, I suppose it wouldn't be right.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Geeking Out on RSS & Yahoo Pipes

Had an unexpected, and just a little weird, problem to solve on the NaNaPooPoo Network feed.

NaNaPooPoo is an aggregate feed.  Actually, it's an aggregate of two aggregate feeds: NaNaPooPoo, an aggregate of regular podcasts; and NaNaPooBooks, an aggregate of serialized audiobook feeds, usually from  NaNaPooPoo uses a subpipe called "FeedLimit" to select only the latest audio post in the podcast's feed, and NaNaPooBooks uses "FeedFirst" to select only the first chapter of the book's feed.

I had added a podcast called "Form Letter Rejection Theatre" (a truly excellent short story podcast) to the Poo side.  As it turns out, though, the producer has brought the podcast to a halt.  She just doesn't produce enough short stories, and didn't have any large number of authors who wanted to share their stories through FLRT, so she ran out of content for that.  She's going to be doing a serialized audiobook, instead.

That makes FLRT a whole 'nother thing, a brief anthology of short stories -- effectively, a rather short book.  So it made more sense just to offer the first episode.  So I moved it over to the Books side of the feed.

The Books side had been entirely Podiobooks content.  Oddly enough, the Podiobooks feeds all have the First episodes with the Newest date.  I'd changed FeedFirst to work backwards, just to cope with that quirk.  But FLRT has the First episode with the Oldest date, just like in the real world... so in NaNaPooBooks, it was offering the last entry.


So I had to go back into FeedFirst.  Instead, though, of changing it back to "realtime," I created filters.  Based on item:Pubdate, for any Podiobooks feed, it grabs the "newest" entry.  For any non-Podiobooks feed, it grabs the "oldest" entry.  This gives me back the NaNaPooBooks functionality. 

This way, for any podcast I want to include the "first" entry that doesn't "die," I use NaNaPooBooks, and for any podcast where I want the "last" entry that "dies" when it's old, I use NaNaPooPoo.

Cool, huh?  I may not be a Nerd.  But at least I qualify as a Geek.  A fella's gotta know his limitations!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Stuff

Added a couple more Nifty New Features to my domains -- and noticed one I'd forgotten I'd set up.

The two I just created were for the NaNaPooPoo Podcast Community Network.  Of course, points to the page where I explain the network, have links to subscribe, and a widget to show the current Stuff on the network.

In addition, now goes directly to the Podroll, if for example, you wanted to subscribe directly to any of the podcasts on the Network, or if you want a link to the podcasts' own webpages.

Also, goes directly to the Bookroll, a separate list for the serialized audiobooks included in the Network.  That includes links to the general-purpose subscription links for the included books (the Network only includes the first chapter or episode), and also a direct link to that book on  I recommend you subscribe to the book using the personalized feeds offered at Podiobooks.  That way you can receive the episodes on your own schedule, and you'll also have a place to share comments and reviews of the books.

Then there's the one I'd forgotten about, for the NaBloPoMo Collective Feed.   I'd forgotten, but I'd set up to point directly to the feed itself.  Not required to use the feed, the is exactly the same thing, but I had it there, and maybe somebody wants that for something?

There's more, but I'll leave that for some other time.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Too much, too little, too late?

It's Saturday, and I've managed to have something in the podcast feed every day for a stretch.  Now I'm tempted to do a podcast today, just to keep the streak going.  Nothing big, probably, but something.

Might be a bad idea?  "Just something" sounds like it'd lower the quality standards for which I have always striven (cough, cough).  On the other hand, considering the idea of doing a podcast gave me something to blog about, thus getting me through one more day for NaBloPoMo.

Which is cheating.  Probably.

I'm shameless that way.


Friday, March 13, 2009

“All The Na You Need – Now With 40 % Less Poo!”

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Now, it's shows I like.

Back in November 2008, I participated in and completed NaPodPoMo, the National Podcast Post Month. One podcast a day for all 30 days of November. And yes, I did that, as did a bunch of folks.

At the time, Shawno from the Shawnogram podcast created an aggregated feed of all the podcasts in NaPodPoMo. Trouble was, it included all the posts in all the feeds of all the podcasts. It was huge, too large to be accepted by Feedburner, so it didn't have all those fancy-schmancy features Feedburner adds. I had fiddled with Yahoo Pipes before, and figured there was a way to make a smaller aggregate feed. But no one needed the smaller feed I'd created, since Shawno's worked okay for that particular purpose.

So instead, I decided NaNaPooPoo should be a community effort of podcasters to combine their promotional efforts. The idea was, each podcaster involved would make whatever small effort they could to promote that aggregate feed. Since each subscriber to that feed would be receiving the latest content from all participant podcasts, all those podcasts would benefit from the overall effort. “A rising tide raises all boats.”

Almost works like radio. Subscribe to the network and you get it all. You get stuff you recognize and stuff you don't, and maybe you learn about some show you'd never have considered.

One problem. It seemed no one wanted to make the effort. Oh, well.

So, NaNaPooPoo 2.0 is just a bit different. It's a list of podcasts I like to listen to and want to recommend. These could come from anywhere, and could be about anything that interests me. They could take any format. The feed contains only the last podcast. Any post in the feed without an audio enclosure – basically, just a blogpost – will be ignored. Saves time, space and bandwidth. And if you're willing to take a chance on my tastes in podcasts, you subscribe once and get all of the listed podcasts.

The core of NaNaPooPoo is still an aggregate RSS feed I created with Yahoo Pipes. It works from a CSV (Comma Separated Values) list of podcasts and their RSS feed addresses. The pipe looks through the list of podcast feeds, selects only the latest show from each feed, and produces one combined feed including only those, latest shows.

Is this legal? Well, best I can tell, assuming the shows are licensed Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives, yeah.

The feed provides the full podcast file, no edits, nothing that wasn't already there (No Derivatives). The feed also includes the full shownotes entry, with one small edit to the title, to indicate which podcast that entry came from (Attribution). The NaNaPooPoo Podroll includes a list of all the podcasts and the subscription links for all of them, too. If a listener only likes a couple of the shows, they can go to the Podroll and subscribe separately.

And the NaNaPooPoo Network feed certainly doesn't make me any money(Non-Commercial). It includes my shows, too, of course, so if it gets popular, I get listened to, and so does everybody else. “A rising tide raises all boats.” If the included shows include ads, that's their show, up to them. If my show includes ads, that's up to me. I don't touch their content.

If a podcast “podfades,” that is, stops producing new content, it stops showing up in the Feed. Even their newest show is ignored if it's over 30 days old.

Clean, simple, easy to maintain, easy to subscribe. The subscription address is Just put that where you put feed addresses in your podcast reader. Nothing else needed. If you really need dot-com-slash-something, you can also use It's exactly the same feed.

If a podcast wants to be on my list, all they gotta do is convince me to like the show. Lacking a community, it's all about what I choose to include. Oh, well.

Back when I set all this up, I created a couple of promos the participant podcasts could play on their shows, thus participating in promoting the podcasts. They're listed below; just right-click on the link and “Save Link As,” and so on.

If you want to subscribe to the NaNaPooPoo Network, click on the links above. If you want to listen and see if you like my choices, click on the yellow button below. That's all there is.

Interesting idea, huh?

Podtrac Player
To Play the Latest NaNaPooPoo Network Podcasts CLICK HERE

Get the NaNaProMo! (50 sec)

Get the NaNaProBump! (30 sec)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Minor Talent

I mentioned to the nice folks from "The Skeptic Zone" podcast the other day that I'd come up with a fairly clever promo idea.  They've been asking me about that idea for a week or three now, but I didn't want to explain, I wanted to get the silly thing recorded and sent off, and they could judge for themselves.

Last night, say 2:00 am (yes, I know) I finally recorded the promo.  I sent it off via YouSendIt. 

And I was informed this morning they'll play it on their next show.  Not "some future show," but their next show!

Cool, huh?

I may have nothing in particular to talk about on my podcast.

But boy can I do Promos!   ;-)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Disappointing Disaster

Yesterday, of course, I did several posts in "continuing coverage" of the Big Snowstorm we were supposed to be getting.  As it turned out, though, we got maybe 6 inches of snow.  We didn't get anywhere near the wind predicted, in my opinion.  Which made the whole every-two-hours thing pretty silly.

I got to use my digital camera, which was kinda cool.  I posted photos to my blog, which I hardly ever do.  And I even did maybe one post worth of Actual Writing.  So that's okay, I guess.  But it was a disappointment.  Certainly, a disappointment is better than a tragedy in any life.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel was in town for the same event, and I suppose in a sense he got something of a disappointment too.  It was weather.  It just wasn't news, that's all.

In purely mercenary terms, a tragedy is better blog-fodder than a disappointment.  But given the potential consequences, I'm fine with being disappointed.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 8:00 pm

Looks worse than it is.  That's what I get for using flash at night.  They're still talking 8 - 14 inches by tomorrow morning, then tomorrow we get 20-30 below wind chills, and blowing and drifting due to the wind.

Apparently they've done a bit of plowing, but they don't seem to go by on the hour.  My luck, the plow'll go by on the hour, and I'll accidentally use the flash, blind the plow driver and end up in jail because of the crash.

I really like how the color turned out in this shot.  Must be the yellow from the streetlight.  Shame you can't see the snow flying between me and the light.  Think I should dig out my tripod?  Think I should stay up all night and keep doing this every two hours?

Tomorrow, "dig out" will have a whole new meaning, I think.  Twenty below zero windchill?  I might stay in and hide under the covers.

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 6:00 pm

Still coming down slowly.  Doesn't look like a big deal.  On the other hand, if it continues at the same rate overnight, as it's supposed to, we might have a significant amount.

My neighbors were down shovelling out a bit of the alley, since they need access that way.  I don't drive, and my sister's not gonna be home tonight, probably, so I don't need to shovel the driveway, or snowblow.

Got a couple shots of the backyard and the driveway, too.

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 4:00 pm

Now it's beginning to look like Something.

Getting those big, wet flakes.  I notice the temp is hovering right near freezing, just slightly below.  That's when you get the big sloppy snows, the ones that weigh a ton when you have to shovel.

I don't relish the idea of having to shovel, at that.  I swept off the front steps a couple hours back, but now you'd never guess.  Luckily, my sister insisted I let my neighbor, Mark, do the snowblowing, since he has some he needs to clear anyway.  I still get kind of a kick running that big, noisy beast.  Blowing snow out of the driveway seems like a Man's Job.  When we were kids up in Duluth Heights, we kids had to shovel -- Dad was the one who actually got to run the snowblower.

Later on, my older brother got to run the blower.  And usually broke it.  And usually tried to fix it.  And usually had to call on Hank from across the street to fix what he broke when he tried to fix it.

And I got to shovel.

I spent several years living in various other states, Florida (no snow), New Mexico (much less snow), and southern Michigan (a little less snow, mostly).  And I was a renter down there, so I usually didn't have to do any shovelling.  That's what landlords are for.

Then I got back here.  Imagine my joy.

And I'd say this definitely looks like it'll produce some serious shovelling.

Ah, well.  Minnesota.  March.  Stuff happens.

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 2:00 pm

Just starting to get a light dusting now.  They forecast the storm for about 1:00 pm, and they got that right.  Not bad yet.  I wonder if these photos will be as interesting as they could be.  Only if we get the Really Big Storm they've predicted.  We'll see, huh?

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 12:00 pm

Well, isn't this exciting?

After two hours (so far), no apparent change.  Getting occasionally breezy.  Not seeing any snow yet.  They're talking maybe a foot in spots.  Which oughta be plenty, huh?

I'll keep you informed.  I'm sure you'll hold your breath.

BIG DULUTH SNOW! Tuesday 10:00 am

Today and tomorrow, the weather folks are predicting we're gonna have some serious snow problems here in Duluth MN.  Figured since I gotta do a NaBloPoMo Post, why not several, say a short one every 2 hours with updates?  (We'll see how determined I really am.)

Yesterday, didn't really look from the radar that there was much moisture to come our way.  There was a big-looking rainstorm down south, and a little whispy line of snow-clouds SW to NE moving toward us.  No big deal.

Today there's a Big Honking Snowpatch around Fargo ND, looks like it'll head our way.  So now I believe 'em.

I wonder if I've got decent batteries for my digital camera?  Lemme check; oughta do pictures, too.

Gosh darn it, I'm out.  Now what were those special batteries.  Takes AA batteries, but was it Platinum something?  I forget.  Been a while since I bought any.  (sigh)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Promotionally challenged

As of Thursday, I'll be done with "Wild Animals I Have Known" on Hiber-Nation as of Thursday.  Took me a long while.  Started the book before the laptop drive failure, and wasn't able to re-start for a while.  Now it'll be done.

I have that already prepared and uploaded at, and that'll be available around the end of the month.  Figured I'd make it sort of a gift for my Mom, who likes audiobooks, and is fairly impressed with my recording them.  I suppose she'd be more impressed if I actually wrote a book.  Maybe someday.

I've been considering trying to promote the book before it's actually released.  I've got the Promo recorded.  I'm actually rather pleased with how it turned out.  I wonder if I could get the promo placed on various podcasts, in advance of the release.  That way, when it finally hits, it might hit big.

The book is really that good, I think.  If you've listened to it, maybe you can tell me if I'm right.  The book itself was excellent in the first place, but I think the reading went extremely well.

And it'd be nice to give the book the send-off it deserves.  I'm told that pre-release promotion doesn't work.  Still, tempted, though.

And hey, if you've got a podcast, you're welcome to play the promo.  Just mention that the book won't be out till the end of the month.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Venture into audio book production

As of just the other day, I have another audio book available on, "A Handy Guide for Beggars, Especially Those of the Poetic Fraternity," by Vachel Lindsay.

Lindsay was a rather popular poet back near the end of the last century.  And the book does contain a significant amount of poetry.  But most of it is stories.  He travelled "afoot and penniless" through a significant number of states in the Deep South and eastern United States.  And he did mean penniless; he felt that he would have bad luck whenever he had any money on him.  And he made a pretty good case.

As he travelled, he would stop and ask farmers and country people for a meal and a place to sleep.  And they'd give him one.  At the time, hospitality was a tradition of long standing.  Decent people took travellers in, at least country people did.  And in thanks (but not in payment) for their hospitality, he'd recite poetry, his own or from other poets.  He'd give, or rarely sell, copies of his poetry for a few cents, in those moments he felt it appropriate to have money.  And in the long term, he repaid them by telling their stories to the world.

That last is really the heart of the book.  Who wouldn't wonder about "The Dog Man," "The Shark," "The Man with Apple-Green Eyes," or "The Man Under The Yoke?"  The story of "Lady Ironheels" brought tears to my eyes.  Other stories made me laugh, in particular his adventure staying the night in a Mission, "The Temple Made With Hands."

And how was the reading in the audiobook?  Well...  it was, after all, the second book I recorded.  I've gotten better at recording and editing since then.  I make better choices, I think, in using music.  I think I read the book well.  I know I read it as well as I could at the time, over the months it took me to record the whole twenty-some episodes.

I like to think I conveyed the feeling in the stories.  I took great pleasure in the reading, and I rather enjoyed the editing, too.  I'm the sort of guy who has fun tinkering with a computer for hours at a time.  And starting with a recording of just me fumbling through a book, and ending up with a nice smooth-sounding, clean recording with effectively-used music, is a real joy to me.

This wasn't the best I've ever done.  But it was pretty good.  And I look forward to doing more.

Episode Zero -- A Minor Local Celebrity

With "Meditation Impromptu" by Kevin MacLeod Originally posted to Libsyn under my original setup around 02/2007.  When I ran out ...