Month: November 2005

The Offbeats play Cornwall

The Offbeats play CornwallEach year, the day after Thanksgiving, the town of Cornwall, Connecticut holds a “talent” or variety show in a church to raise money for their library. My percussion group, The Offbeats was one of many acts. I’ll post pictures of the other acts in the next few days. Here we are playing our opening samba piece.

The Offbeats play CornwallEvelyn on surdo, Teresa on djembe, Nora on djembe, Susan on tamborim.

The Offbeats play CornwallNora on djembe, Susan on tamborim, Eileen on djembe, Linda on pandeiro, Diane on wooden djembe and Ron on djembe.

The Offbeats play CornwallLinda on panderio, Diane on wooden djembe, Ron on djembe, Pat on tumbano, Dave on djembe and the edge of my surdo on the right.

The Offbeats play CornwallPat on tumbano, Dave on djembe, Richard (me) on surdo.

We played two more songs after the samba, a Middle Eastern mix we call “chaka” and an African mix that Dave made up we call “Dave’s djoli jive.”

Pati King-Debaun

Pati King-DebaunPati King-Debaun at the 2005 AlphaSmart reception at the Closing the Gap Assistive Technology Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Pati is one of the leaders in the field of assistive technology. She writes software, books, and curricula and presents, teaches and does workshops the world over.

Thanks giving

Thanks givingI think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No religion. No commercialism. Just a family get-together and a good meal. Nice.

While everyone in my family was busy whipping cream and cutting pies I looked out over our table and considered how lucky we are to be able to have a meal like this. I’m thankful.

I am also thankful for flickr and the wonderful community of people who I’ve met there. If it weren’t for flickr I’d never have met hundreds of people from all over the world who inspire me to attempt to become a better photographer by sharing their work with me and by giving me feedback on mine. What a great thing flickr is because it represents connections beyond our Thanksgiving table. However, because I spend so much (too much) time there, I feel like flickr is a table of sorts.

I hope wherever you are you are having a nice weekend full of good food, family, and friends. Time to clear the table and get ready for a new bunch of images.

Goodbye Mr. Miyagi

‘Karate Kid’ actor, comedian Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita, 73, dies
Goodbye, Mr. Miyagi

I don’t know why, but Pat Morita in the role of Mr. Miyagi in the movie The Karate Kid has stuck in my brain and when I read Morita had died it got to me.

Mr. Miyagi, the character in the movie had been imprisoned in a Japanese “relocation camp” (Manzinar) and in fact, Pat Morita spent time in such a camp in Arizona as a child.

Yes, I feel old: people who starred in movies I saw as an adult are starting to die. But Morita was more than that in this (now) sappy movie, he was a James Garner symbol of adult wisdom, a loyal friend to a kid, and, when he beats the crap out of a gang of bullies, the guy we all wanted to be.

I hope wherever he is now he’s catching flies with chopsticks and has someone to wax his cars, paint his fence, and sand his deck.

David Niemeijer at the AlphaSmart Reception, CTG, 2005

David NiemeijerDr. David Niemeijer at the 2005 AlphaSmart reception at the Closing the Gap Assistive Technology Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

David is a programmer and software publisher: his Macintosh OS X on-screen keyboard software makes it possible for people with limited physical ability to communicate and control both a computer and much of their environment.

David is also the father of Bente and Femi.


While flying back from Los Angeles I read A Deadly Interrogation, an important and disturbing New Yorker article by Jane Mayer about the C.I.A. using torture outside of the United States.

I urge you to read this article. Now. It’s important that all of us in the US consider how our role in the world is changing and what the ramifications will be in the future. This is very serious stuff.

In response to John McCain’s amendment outlawing torture by the C.I.A. or any other American agency, on or off American soil, President Bush said emphatically: “We do not torture.” He said this while Vice President Dick Cheney was lobbying the Senate to back off on the McCain amendment. They are both liars. We do torture.

How are they justifying this, if not publicly then to themselves?

1. Terrorists are not “people” who are protected by the Geneva Conventions’ anti-torture statutes.

2. It’s against US law to torture people on our soil and we do it in Cuba and Eastern Europe. (McCain’s ammendment would make it illegal for an American to torture anyone anywhere.)

I am furious about this.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of this “worst in history” administration are not only hateful and mean-spirited but not one of them has ever served in the military and not one of them has the slightest idea of what torture means. They should all be brought before the same court that is hearing the Saddam Husein trial. All of them are war criminals.

My prediction, and I feel nauseous making it, is that if the US continues to torture people as we are, any time a US citizen is captured by terrorists in Iraq or anywhere else, they will be tortured and we will have no legal, ethical or moral leg to stand on.

Note that I said “we” and not “they.” We elected these guys to represent us. Whether we voted for them or not (I did not) they are making US policy that is rapidly changing our place in the world.

I recommend that we push hard to impeach Bush before he does any more damage.

What is RSS?

Nerding out on a rainy Sunday

Note: this was originally written a year ago and published at LD Resources.

RSS = Really Simple Syndication. Right… that doesn’t help much so this article will go into a bit more detail about what RSS is and why it might be useful to you.

To most people, a web browser is the internet. Email through Outlook and the web through IE. What else might there be? Well, there has been more for years, as long as there’s been an internet but most of the “side technologies” have not made it into the mainstream and have been used mostly by serious computer users and hackers (in the best sense of that word).

But, in the same way that iPods are changing what it means to carry a lot of music around and cell phones can do text messaging and web surfing, categories are changing and we ought not be stuck in only the paradigms that are familiar.

I started getting an inkling of this when I first installed the beta of OS X and saw the then crude but effective Sherlock. Sherlock reads database information from various sources out on the internet and displays that information in its window: stock quotes, phone numbers, maps, dictionary definitions. Yet, Sherlock is just a “reader,” it doesn’t have any dictionary definitions or stock information in it: it reads that information from sources out on the internet and it formats the information in a way that’s easier to look at than most web sites. So, on the web or the same data through Sherlock? No brainer. Sherlock wins every time.

What this meant to me was a paradigm shift: the information at was separable from the web site and could be subscribed to by applications like Sherlock. Wow, that was a huge revelation to me at the time.

If you get what I just said about Sherlock reading, then RSS will not be a hard concept to swallow. An RSS reader (sometimes called “newsreader” is simply an application for aggregating (collecting), displaying, and reading feeds. Just as Sherlock can display the content from’s dictionary database, an RSS reader can display the feeds from any web site with a public RSS feed.
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