Wednesday, June 27

Saturday, June 23

New Version of Star of the County Down

I just uploaded a new version of "Star of the County Down" recorded last night at Common Ground w/Kindred Folk-- Michael Hertz was gracious enough to learn the song on the spot and do chords. MP3 link here or you can download lots more here

Friday, June 22

Friday Bird Blogging: The Green Heron

Green herons blend into the background so well that I have, on several occasions, found myself looking right at one and not even known it until they take flight. This is why I take such delight in seeing them out in the open. This particular picture was taken while the heron stood and looked around, exploring the water and provided me with a real treat, getting to see the heron from many angles and in many positions.

These birds are about half the size of the great blue heron, and tend to fly much faster and lower. They spook easily so any sighting is great, but a sighting where I get pictures like this is what I consider to be a very good sighting indeed.

Tuesday, June 19

Julie Waters e-notes: Tue, June 19, 2007

I'm sending this mid-month e-mail because I've got a new last-minute gig scheduled with Kindred Folk-- it's me with T. Breeze Verdant and Michael Hertz. It's this Friday (June 22nd) @7pm at Common Ground in Brattleboro.

This show is connected with Kindred Folk, which is a great new organization in Southeastern Vermont, designed to network musicians together for common good. I'd thought about trying to organize something like this a few years ago, but I never found the time to do so-- I'm glad someone else is taking on this sort of project. I'm looking forward to this gig in all sorts of ways and I hope a few of you can make it as well.

Also, for anyone interested, I've been making real strides with my bird photography, including some really nice pictures from a boat trip last week, and of a green heron a couple days ago. Links, etc., at

Not much else to report right now-- still contemplating a new CD, but not having made much progress. Still working on learning Objective C to create a new piece of music software, but that's got a (long) ways to go yet as well-- programming is never easy and this is particularly complicated-- it involves an interaction of music theory, A/V interfaces and end user interfaces, all of which just make my head spin, but if I can get it to work, it will be worth it, in the sense that it will be nothing like anything I've ever heard before.

Hope everyone's well.

Monday, June 18

Other Ways The Simple Things Matter

It wasn't too long ago that the Osprey was in serious trouble. Pervasive use of DDT threatened the very lives of many birds of prey.

Somewhere, in a moment of sanity, we found the will to change course with respect to DDT and various birds once endangered (such as the Osprey and the Peregrine Falcon) have experienced significant rebounds in population. The Osprey is still endangered in some areas, but it's experienced a major comeback.

What we put into the water makes a difference in the world around us. What we change in our environment may put us back to square one with the Osprey. What will a bird which feeds almost exclusively on fish do if we finally manage to fish out our oceans?

In the last post I wrote, I mentioned the small things, and I was talking in a social context-- being good to one another and showing people the respect they deserve.

This time, I'm talking about the ecological context: using detergents which are biodegradable; composting your food waste rather than putting it in a landfill. Choosing to eat food which comes from renewable sources and avoiding the stuff which is being hunted or fished to extinction.

The simple things matter.

The simple things matter.

Saturday, June 16

Sometimes the Small Things Matter

Per the, NYT: Bid to Ban Gay Marriage Fails in Massachusetts:

Some choice quotes:

"In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure," Gov. Deval Patrick said after the legislature voted 151 to 45 against the amendment, which needed 50 favorable votes in order to come before voters in a referendum in November 2008.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, did not indicate whether opponents would start a new petition drive, but said, "We're not going away."

He added, "We want to find out why votes switched and see what avenues are available to challenge those votes, perhaps in court."
Those silly conservatives.  Always running to the courts when they don't like their legislature's activities.

More from the article:
Senator Gale Candaras also voted against the amendment today, although she had supported it as a state representative in January. She said her vote reflected constituent views in her larger, more progressive state Senate district; her fear of a vicious referendum campaign; and the 6,800 anti-amendment e-mails, phone calls and faxes she received, one call every three minutes.

Most moving, she said, were older constituents who first supported the amendment, but changed after meeting with gay men and lesbians.

One woman had "asked me to put it on the ballot for a vote, but since then a lovely couple moved in," Ms. Candaras said. "She said, 'They help me with my lawn, and if there can't be marriage in Massachusetts, they?ll leave and they can't help me with my lawn.' "
This is why small things matter.  Honestly, this is part of the reason I tip well.  What we do, as citizens, matters.  The repercussions of small acts of kindness and courtesy are significant and can resonate much wider than our own immediate space.

So yeah, the MFI is not going away, which is fine.  They've got the right to try their petition again, but given that they couldn't even get one quarter of the legislature to support them, I can't imagine they'll do any better, given that there has been none of that predicted damage to marriage.  Divorce, in fact, is at a lower rate in Massachusetts than any other state in the union.

Hmm.  Maybe same sex marriage is good for marriage.

Friday, June 15

Friday Bird Blogging: Great Shearwater

The ocean-dwelling Great Shearwater is a lot of fun to watch when out on the water-- they skim across the water looking for food and will, like gulls, sometimes follow large boats looking for food dropped by passengers. This particular picture was taken after a chum line was spilled. Chum lines are a mixture of fish oil and various disgusting smelly things that will attract water birds. The bird had landed near the boat to feed and suddenly looked up when I snapped the picture. As usual, the smaller image links to a larger one.

Tuesday, June 12

Whales, Seabirds, etc.

There's something I love about being on the ocean, though some trips are easier than others. In this particular case, the boat was incredibly rocky, to the point where I'm amazed I got any shots at all which were useful.

But... I did. During the ten hours we spent on the water, I took over 2300 pictures and got rid of the crappy ones, leaving me with 200 remaining pictures.

I also got sunburned, which almost never happens, but oh well.

I posted nineteen of the pictures, which you can see via this link. The picture on the right is a tail breach from a humpback whale. The one on the left is a Greater Shearwater, a fun bird to photograph, even under rough riding conditions.

Shearwaters are pelagic birds, meaning that they're ocean dwelling and only come to land to breed. They have tubes on their beaks which actually help them process salt water.

Whale watches are fun, but my preference is for sea bird cruises -- this was a mix, but I prefer it when it's mostly birders. Birders are, as a whole, more polite than those who go on whale watches and are eager to make sure that everyone gets to see.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with these photos and the weekend was fun, despite the sunburn and the big rocky boat.

Friday, June 8

Friday Bird blogging: The Baltimore Oriole

Orioles do not winter in the north but tend to arrive around the same time as the rose-breasted grosbeaks and it takes me some time to relearn the differences between their songs each Spring, but the visuals are completely distinct. Orioles in sunlight are among the most beautiful birds of their size: brilliant, bright orange intermixed with black glowing in the sunlight as they fly across the lawn. Beautiful sight.

Once the trees start to leaf out, they're not nearly as easily spotted, but now that I've relearned the song, I'm hearing them pretty much everywhere I go whether I see them or not. There's at least one breeding pair in our yard, if not two. When the fledglings show up, it's real fun-- swarms of yellowish orioles splashing in puddles, which is so much fun to watch.

Thursday, June 7

This Takes Chutzpah

From Yahoo News:
A new think tank specializing in gay issues wants a say in the U.S. debate over same-sex marriage and other matters, seeking to counter the influence of religious conservatives by beating them at their own game.

The Rockway Institute is the brainchild of executive director Robert-Jay Green, a California psychology professor who says the media, courts and politicians often make wrong assumptions about what the latest scientific research shows.

Green is building a team of 100 experts who hope to serve as expert witnesses in court cases or testify before state legislatures as they weigh laws affecting gay rights.
That's not the part that takes Chutzpah. This is the part that takes Chutzpah:
A spokeswoman for Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry that opposes same-sex marriage, contends the research promoted by the Rockway Institute is not credible, and considers the upstart a mere advocacy group for same-sex marriage and parenting.

"We've looked at what homosexual activists have put forward and found it lacking. It doesn't meet basic social science standards," Carrie Gordon Earll said. "It speaks to the desperation among homosexual activists to give credibility to their political goals."

"Children do best in homes with married mothers and fathers. That's where the research is," she said.
Yes. Focus on The Family. They're the ones with the facts on their side? I don't think so.

Tuesday, June 5

Upcoming Energy Bills

There's a great diary over at MyDD which outlines some serious problems with an energy bill which is cosponsored by Barak Obama.  The first is a bill to support liquid coal.  From the diary:
We don't know how to sequester mass quantities of carbon dioxide created during coal liquefaction yet. Even once we figure that process out--a solution that will no doubt reduce the net energy output of the coal to fuel process itself--we've still got a dirty fuel that increases greenhouse emissions compared to petroleum.
There's also a draft bill up for discussion that includes a provision which will screw us, as Vermonters, over, along with a lot of other states.  Per The Rutland Herald:
A dozen states, including Vermont and Massachusetts, would be blocked from imposing new requirements on automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under a draft energy bill being prepared for a vote later this month.

The "discussion draft" would prohibit the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing a waiver needed for a state to impose auto pollution standards if the new requirements are "designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
This is bad.  The first bill has quite a few Democratic sponsors and presents a serious danger.  The second is only in draft form, so it's got a much better chance of being modified before it makes it into being an actual bill, but they're both representative of how much work we have to do to deal with the existing archaic mentality when it comes to proper energy usage.