Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moving house!

I've been going mad with all the stuff I've had to do the last few weeks! Here's what it's looked like:

1. Packing for the move (which is today! Ack!)
2. Wedding in Italy on July 26 (I sang)
3. Renovations began at the new place on July 28 and I've been the overseer!
4. I started using an insulin pump to treat my Type 1 Diabetes this week, which meant several trips to the doctor.
5. Regular teaching schedule.

Today we're actually moving into temporary housing with a friend who's going to be away on vacation for the next 2 weeks. From 08.08.08 we should be in our new digs. Who knows if we be all connected up by then though... :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

StarShipSofa Round Table

Yes, this is old news. The 2nd StarShipSofa Round Table discussion podcast aired on Wednesday, 16 July 2008. It was Tony Smith, Fred Himebaugh and me discussing the last 2 Aural Delights shows with main fiction by John Varley and Robert Reed. There was a special treat at the end - I sang (unaccompanied and very off-the-cuff) Summertime by Gershwin. It was a request by Tony.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wedding #2

This was Magnus' friend Francesco's wedding in near Arezzo, Italy. That's in Tuscany. It's beautiful. And if you've ever been there, you know what an understatement that is! It's also the home of famous medieval music theorist the monk Guido of Arezzo, famous for the "Guidonian Hand" a method to teach the Hexachords or "scales" in use back then. Don't ask me how it works, I don't remember!

Anyway, this blog is turning into more of a travel blog than a music blog, so those of you more interested in music than travel will have to bear with me, I promise I'll be posting more on music soon.

M & I traveled to Florence on Friday night. On my brother's recommendation we stayed at the Hotel "Il Bargellino" in central Florence. It's a lovely little hotel with a gorgeous roof courtyard which is open to guests.
On Magnus' sister Manon's recommendation we went to a great restaurant very close to the hotel called "da Mimmo" where they have the real Fiorentina steaks. We met our friends Pierpaolo and Yaki and we all ate these huge, yummy steaks. Tom, I'm sorry I didn't know about them when you and Barb were there!

Saturday, we met Manon and Francesco who were on their way to visit Francesco's parents. They went with us to pick up the rental car and then led us a ways towards Arezzo. We went on our way, visited the Pieve di Romena and the castle nearby, met Francesco who showed us his home town of Poppi, and then wandered around Arezzo a bit before having dinner. Francesco's father had graciously and generously bought us tickets to the famous jousting games . We watch a bit of the parade. The participants of the Joust paraded through town in costumes, with horses, horns and drums, and flags. We had a great time at this ancient competition. And I think it's worthy of its own post. Stay tuned!

The wedding was pretty early on Sunday - 11:45am. By that time it was already around 33°C/91°F and unfortunately the wedding was a bit long and boring, but it was in a beautiful little abbey church in the hills and I enjoyed Alessandra's (the bride) sister's singing. She has a sweet, clear soprano voice and has just started taking lessons (at 30). I hope the lessons don't ruin her voice! :-) I know, I'm terrible!

After the wedding we drove to a Villa where we stood in the HOT sun (or crowded under the few umbrellas) for an hour drinking champagne and eating trifles, then we repaired to a large tent where we had "lunch" (or dinner?!?) at about 3pm. After dinner, we went inside, where it was blessedly air conditioned for desserts. Mmmmmh. The food was glorious.

It was still early after the reception and so we decided to go with Danilo and Manuela (D is a friend from Karlsruhe) to the celebrations of the winning jousting team (Quartiere di Porta Crucifera) and watch the European Cup (soccer/football) semi-final between Spain and Italy. We had good food (which we were basically still too full to eat) and good company. Unfortunately, Italy lost.

Next day, we took it easy, packed, went shopping for Italian food staples and drove back to Florence and flew home. A lovely weekend.

I love the idea of audio books but...

...the reality of accessing them and listening to them (and other digital downloads like music) the way I'd like is another thing entirely. While, personally, I haven't run into any problems regarding DRM (Digital Rights Management) or other download management software and the like, I just read this clear, well-founded article by the owner of which led me to a site, where, as an owner of a MacMini and various Apple devices, I'm simply out of luck. Read the article and see if he doesn't have a point.