New Camera

Lately, every time I wanted a picture for the blog I didn’t
have my camera, and every time I took a picture with the cell
phone, I ended up apologizing for it. So when Woot had a good price on an Casio
Exilim camera
, I bought it.

It arrived today. It’s a good size for sticking in your
pocket, and seems to take pretty good pictures:


Sunny napping

I always use Sunny for my test subject. Then I noticed the
Birthday cards, and took them too:


Birthday cards

Real concert announcement

I have to take it easy the day after I work from 6:30 AM to
9:30 PM at the elections. I have material to talk about from
that, but it will have to wait. For today, you can read the Cantabile
Band Post
, which collects all the information about the
January 30 concert, and points to all the posts about the
December 17 concert.

You should also note that I made several proofreading errors
putting together the flyer.
The version I uploaded at about noon today has
both the correct date and the correct day of the week.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and blog statistics

When I was setting up the new site, I though about how to have a list of other things people might want to look at if they’d stumbled on the site and found the first thing they read interesting.

What I came up with was to list the most read posts, using the Most read in XX days plugin.

For a while, this worked well. There were a couple of old posts that were being read pretty often, most notably the Bread machine brioche recipe. But in general, the things that were popping up on the list were the better posts I’d made in the last couple of months, so I got feedback on what people were reading, and they got to look at the other interesting things on the site.

Unfortunately, now the “most read posts” sidebar is pretty fixed, and it isn’t clear what I can do to get a new post onto that list, because although people read the new posts, they then go and look at the old posts that are on the “most read” list, so those get more readers than the new ones do.

One thing I can see I should do is put things that are of only temporary interest up as pages, and when they stop being interesting, take the pages out of the navigation menus via the exclude pages from navigation plugin.

For instance, the post that would be on the sidebar list if I allowed one more post is the flyer for a workshop that happened last August. I’m glad 200 people read that post last August, and 40 people came to the workshop, but I’m not sure it matters if nobody ever reads it again.

I’ve thought about having a “most read in the last 6 months” sidebar as well as the “most read ever” sidebar. But that starts cluttering things up.

So I guess I’ll just keep thinking about the problem. Let me know if you have any good ideas.

Note: this post was originally titled “Schroedinger’s Law and Blog Statistics”.

Publishing on the web

I’ve been sending a lot of email lately to people who
transcribe music the way I do and are wondering whether and how to put it on
the web.

Putting other people’s transcriptions on my site is addressed briefly in the
, but of course there are lots more details than a two
paragraph answer can deal with.

One person who’s also a student of my recorder teacher
transcribes in Sibelius. She gives printouts to anyone who
asks, but seems to have decided putting it on the web is
impossibly complicated. My teacher has been really excited
about being able to point workshop students to the music he’s
going to be using on the web, so that they can look at it
beforehand, and has been encouraging her to get hers up, too. She discussed it with the Sibelius
support people, but her eyes glazed over when they said “install
a PDF writer”. Apparently she has an old wreck of a computer
that breaks when you install pretty much anything. So if she
hadn’t figured out how to do it in 2003, that computer is never
going to be able to do it, and she doesn’t like computers enough
to want to spend $200 on a better one.

Another person is doing transcriptions from Petrucci’s
Odhecaton. He’s quite capable of putting his own site up, and
had decided to use a wordpress
for his transcriptions. We have an ongoing
conversation about how to provide the kinds of transcriptions
various kinds of players want. I thought about the blog
solution when I was setting up the Serpent Publications
, but was having too much trouble using the WordPress
media stuff, and I already had the database set up. I suspect
that when he has a few dozen transcriptions, he’ll find the blog
solution clumsy, but it should work fine until then. I would
probably have used if it had been available when I was starting

A third person has essentially transcribed all of Dowland’s
part songs, including the lute tablature, and converted the lute
tablature to notation suitable for guitar players. This would
actually be a really good supplement to the Dowland
that’s on my site, and I’d be happy to have it, but he hasn’t yet
done any thinking about licensing, so I pointed him to some
reading matter
, and haven’t heard from him since. There is a
lot of stuff to think about. I also suggested if what he really
wants to do is sell his work.

It’s quite exciting to be in touch with so many people
doing the kind of thing I do. I hope they all get what they
want out of doing it.

The Lost Chord

Sunny and I walked by The Lost Sock Laundromat
this morning, and I started thinking about Arthur Sullivan’s
Lost Chord

Of course, I first started composing a parody about a lost
sock, but I didn’t get very far, and I think if I had
managed to get something to scan properly it wouldn’t have been a
very good parody.

But then I started thinking about the frequently expressed
criticism that a “Great Amen” is two chords, not one.

My guess is that Arthur Sullivan, who was one of the best-known
composers of his era, knew at least as much music theory as these
critics, and if he found that the poem spoke to him anyway, we
should at least give it a chance to speak to us.

Certainly we’ve all had the experience of remembering having
been inspired by an idea, but not remembering the idea. I have
it several times a week with this blog — I sit down and
remember that I’d had a really good idea on last night’s walk,
but not what the idea was. I don’t personally feel particularly
inspired by the idea that the angel of death will bring back all
my lost blog post ideas on my deathbed. But of course, my blog
post ideas may well be less inspiring than Arthur Sullivan’s
organ improvisations, or even Adelaide Proctor’s.

It’s not a particularly easy song to sing, even with the music
in front of you and an accompaniment, but Sunny and I managed to
remember most of the words and stumble through some approximation
of the notes in the half mile walk home. It’s really not a bad song at all.

There’s an arrangement (I think by Clifford Bevan) for Serpent
Ensemble. If you have serpent players who can possibly do
something like tuning the chords, it’s probably fun to play,
although like most serpent ensemble arrangements, it probably
involves the top voice squeaking too high and the bottom voice
grumbling too low and only the middle two voices actually have the
kind of
fun that people go into playing serpent for.

New Year’s Resolutions

First, a couple of resolutions I’m not making:

  • It’s silly to claim you’re all of a sudden going to start
    working on something you’ve been doing no work on for years. So
    I’m not going to resolve to learn a language or run a
  • While there are lots of reasons why weighing 20 pounds less
    would be a good thing, I’m not going to resolve to lose weight.
    All the sensible things to do that lose weight have other good
    effects, and the obvious ones that work and aren’t sensible
    aren’t what you want to resolve to do. (E.g., I lost 15 pounds
    in the hospital with my hip surgery, but if I can, I want to
    avoid doing that again.)

So here are the things I’ve been working on some, but want to
work on more effectively in the New Year:

Cleaning out Bonnie’s house was an
experience I wouldn’t want to wish on *my* executrix, and
anyway, I enjoy being in my house more when it’s uncluttered and
reasonably free of dust, grime, and dog hair. I’ve made
progress on the public rooms in the last year, and I’m getting
better at doing the maintenance in small doses rather than
waiting until I’ve scheduled an hour or more. I have some ideas
for spending a little money on furniture that will contribute to
the uncluttered look in the living room, and I’m doing well on
throwing out a couple of things from the currently hopeless
rooms every Wednesday. So we’ll see if I make even more
progress this year.
I’ve probably gone backwards this year, because
the dog-walking is less aerobic with an elderly, arthritic dog
than with a young, vigorous one. So what I’m going to work on
is running more errands on foot by myself, and maybe figuring
out a yoga routine I can do with the hip restrictions that I
enjoy as much as I did the one I had before the arthritis made
me stop doing it.
I think I’ve made progress on making the blog
interesting over the last year. I’d like to be more consistent
about taking pictures to illustrate it, and maybe finding a
better focus.


Last October, there was a ruling from the FTC that proposed
hefty fines for bloggers who fail to disclose “compensation” for
their reviews. It’s described in indignant detail on the
Teleread blog

I’ve been ignoring that ruling. It certainly doesn’t apply
directly to me. I’m not organized enough to ask for free copies
of the books and DVD’s I review, and I certainly don’t have any
other direct compensation for what I do on this blog.

I don’t know how to explain my relationship with Google Adsense
in terms that won’t violate my agreement with them, but I found a
place to point
that does.

When I link to products on, I allegedly get a cut if
you order them. But I really don’t think I’ve been telling you to
order the products unless I really like them, and I certainly
haven’t been telling anyone to get books or movies there unless
that’s really the way they like buying books and movies.

It’s been a long time since I actually got a check from either
of these programs.

I personally get almost all the movies I watch from Netflix. When I buy ebooks,
I get them from Fictionwise, which has a
much more enlightened policy on DRM than does Amazon, and a
discount structure that allows you to at least pretend you’re
getting a lot of free books. I get most of my hard copy books
from the library; if I think I really want to own a dead tree
copy, I either go to a bricks and mortar bookstore or order
online, often used.

Lots of the other things I buy I haven’t gotten from Amazon,
either, even if I pointed to the picture that Amazon keeps
online for us.

We are a Schwerpunkt

A couple of days ago, I added the Counterize
wordpress plugin to this blog, so I’ve been wasting
time looking at all the information they pull out of the logs
for me.

It turns out that one of the top sources of referrals is a site
which says:

Von Laura Conrad transkribierte Stücke, Schwerpunkt Renaissance.

My German comes mostly from singing Schubert, but this might
mean something like “From Laura Conrad, transcribed pieces,
Focal Point for Renaissance music.” Instead of “Focal Point”, you
could say “Center of Gravity”, too. There might be some more
idiomatic translation, but I like both of these too well to go
looking for it.

I had to look up “Schwerpunkt”, since Schubert and his
publishers don’t use the word. And the first definitions I
found were from the military use of the word as one of the
possible tactics in a blitzkrieg. So I wasn’t sure it
was much of a compliment, but I decided they probably meant that
this was a good site to go to for transcriptions of Renaissance
music, which is a good thing to have people say.

I did write them and point out that the music transcriptions
have been moved to,
so they might want to change their link.

Plans for the month

I have the major pieces of what I’ve been meaning to do on the
websites done, although I’d still like to have better searching
for pieces on
and better graphic design both places.

But the big thing that happens in the near future is a lot of
more “formal” entertaining than I do the rest of the year.
There’s the family Thanksgiving dinner, which happens at my place
and includes some friends who like having a family dinner but
their families are too far away. Then there’s the Christmas
party, which this year will probably be December 20, which is
usually the largest number of people in my apartment at one time.
And two months later, some time around February 25, is my birthday

Because I have the band over every week, and we sit around
eating and drinking and socializing after the rehearsal, my public
rooms stay superficially more combobulated than they would
otherwise, but it’s still a good thing to get some real
housecleaning done this time of year.

So that’s what I’m planning to spend some of my copious spare
time on this month. There’s a woman who claims to do
environmentally friendly carpet cleaning that I might call, and I
could try to hang the handmade quilts I inherited from Bonnie, and
recover the chairs with stains or rips in their covers, and maybe
do something about the sofa cushions.

This is not to mention the upstairs cleaning. If I got rid of
all the obsolete or non-working computer junk, there might be room
to unfold the futon in the computer room. And I’d feel more like
brewing if the room the brewing stuff is stored in had the stuff
decreased or arranged better so that I could get to the stuff more
than 4 feet from the door.

Of course, housecleaning of any kind would be less difficult to
contemplate if my lungs weren’t still in reactive mode after that
cold I had a month ago. So maybe it will be the website
improvements that happen after all.