Unsolicited promotional for Bandcamp.com

Last Friday (Feb. 3), the music site Bandcamp.com (where my CDs live digitally) had a special event. For any purchase made, Bandcamp would donate their proceeds of the sale to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). During the event, they sold a million dollars worth of music, which was a 550% increase over their usual Friday sales. Bandcamp’s share is approximately 12% of the proceeds of a sale, so that means the ACLU got a lotta money. Especially since around 400 acts donated their share of the take to the ACLU too. Here’s their report on it.

None of the sales were of my music. I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad. For a lot of reasons, I didn’t expect to sell any more than usual, and usual has been nothing for a while. It would’ve been a good time for me to release a new recording, but that didn’t happen. So I wasn’t going to be a contributor to the effort that way.

So I bought stuff from Bandcamp. I spent about $50 on five different CDs, mostly from local folks. Bandcamp mostly sells downloads, if you’re wondering, but they also sell CDs (with included downloads) if the artist has those, and other “merch” too. Once you buy, you can stream your purchases all you want. You can stream before buying, too, though only a few times.

I think Bandcamp is one of the most underrated music sites out there, to be honest. There’s so much out there, and it’s not flooded with mainstream pop stuff like all my other favorite sites from the past, like mp3.com and myspace before they fell apart.

It felt good to buy the CDs, not just for the ACLU angle, but this is the sort of purchase for myself that I tend to put off and never quite manage. That would be a shame, because now I have cool music I didn’t have before. And I helped kick some bucks to an organization that I think will do us some good, too.

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Genealogical Breakthrough

You may remember back in November I wrote about my great-grandfather Winslow, with two possible stories of how, where, and when he died (with slight additional variations) and my ever-thwarted attempts to find out what the real story was.

In mid-January, I managed to ensnare myself into a half-year subscription to Newspapers.com (via a one-week trial period that I kinda-sorta forgot to end). I had been poking around for him in Chicago, Detroit, and Port Huron newspapers there, striking out in general.

Yesterday, I did a really broad search for his last name, anywhere in Michigan, in the years 1890–1893. Lo and behold, results came up in a newspaper from a tiny town I had no expectation had ever had a newspaper. The first result was a paragraph that said he was bound for Chicago as a mate on the steam barge J.I. Case in April 1892. The second was a longer paragraph in June 1892, noting that he had passed away at home near Yale, Michigan, earlier in the week after three weeks of illness with typhoid fever.

I didn’t know anyone could get giddy over typhoid fever, but I did. Well, ok, not exactly for that reason, of course. I was just really happy to have solved this mystery. I do not know where the case of typhoid fever was acquired; I’m not sure it matters, really. I just saved the two “clips” into my Ancestry.com page for Winslow, updated the death information, and smiled.

He left behind a wife, two sons, and a daughter; five months after his death, his third son was born. Curiously, none of them is mentioned in his death notice, just his father, the Civil War captain. The obit concludes “The family have the sympathy of all,” which is a nice touch.

So… on to the next cold case.

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Dust clearing

Earlier this month, or more like late in December, there was a kerfuffle over LJ’s data servers being moved from the U.S. to Russia, where the parent company is located. There are many business reasons why consolidating operations may be justified. I never saw any publication of these reasons, but I’ve been a rank-and-file member of a corporation long enough to know possible reasons (cost savings, economies of scale, yada yada). However, it happened at the time that many American users were also concerned about the outcome of our presidential election, and the president-elect’s apparent ties to the president of Russia. As a result, a good number of LJ users fled for other ports.

It’s been a week or two since I looked for any news. I actually never found any real news, to be honest. Most of the information came from users of LiveJournal or Dreamwidth, either their posts themselves or social media news outlets whose only sources were those posts. My searches covered the Russian English-language outlets I used in the past, but they had nothing.

I did not flee. I just ran out of time to say things. It would be a lie to say I didn’t consider my options, but I came to the conclusion LJ is still (still!) where I see the best sense of community and the best platform to support it. Moving anywhere would require a lot of reaching out to try to get my friends to, not necessarily move with me, but at least look me up in my new home.

LJ being more wholly Russian doesn’t concern me any more than it used to. I’m not Russian, and I’m not likely to say anything controversial that relates to Russia or its people (there’s no audience for that, for me). If for some reason the situation deteriorates as far as censorship goes, it’s likely to be caused by people in the U.S. and it will affect all hosts. I think we’re far from that stage.

Now, if the technical situation deteriorates, as with the DDOS attacks on LJ several years ago when LJ was almost unusable for a few weeks … well, that’s why we have backups. I’ve been trying to back up my journal to a WordPress site. The only problem with THAT is, LJ’s back-end seems to be unreachable by WordPress’s import app. I don’t know how long this has been going on, or whether it’s linked to LJ’s server move. Fortunately, I had a very spotty posting record in 2016 and I can manually copy entries from LJ to WP with little effort (particularly since I seem to like repetitive tasks like that). So that’s just a little annoying, but not a major roadblock.

There’s one other little technical glitch I just noticed, though. Former LJ user Altivo has been kindly allowing his Dreamwidth posts to mirror to LJ (at least, I think he could say no if he wanted). He posted on the 19th, and it just showed up in my friends timeline today. Why the delay? I suspect some sort of system glitch, and nothing on his part. That makes two back-end glitches, if I am guessing right (and I’m not an I.T. guy, especially not for LJ or WP or DW). It’s a situation that bears monitoring, but not a lot of concern.

Anyway, here I am. I’m not gone yet. I hope you’ve all been fine.

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So many books, so little time

I had a good time today spending money. I had my annual trip to the office supply store, getting new pens and a notepad and, finally, an accordion file for my receipts, which I couldn’t find last year. I get more enjoyment out of new office supplies than the average person, I suspect. (My mother did, too.)

Then I went to Barnes & Noble, and while I only bought a coin book for the National Parks commemorative quarters, finally, and a new coin price book, I looked at a lot of fiction and poetry. It inspired me to come home and sort through all the books I’ve acquired in the last five to seven years. This is what it looks like now that I’m done:
Mess of books
Someone doesn’t have enough bookshelves. Mind, I have not read all these books. I’ve read pathetically few of them, in fact. I like books, but I have an iffy relationship with reading books. In fact, I created a subcollection on LibraryThing for the books I’ve started and not finished. Y’know, because I wasn’t feeling as overwhelmed as possible by my books already. Eight of them, and they aren’t bad books at all, I just … well … I’m not too hung up on this completion thing, as a character said in a book I read long ago.

So I’ve thought to myself, “I should read more books this year,” which is kinda funny because I’ve also said I should write more music and I should go back to the gym. I should go find that box of all the extra time I know I have around here somewhere. THAT would really be helpful. I’ll let you know how that search goes.

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A note from your correspondent

Apologies to anyone who has been reading this poor apparently neglected blog. I’ve been continuing to post at songdogmi.livejournal.com and now I’m trying to get those entries copied over to here. But there have been some Issues with that, and I’m trying to figure out a workaround or something. I hope to have something here more recent soon.

Edited 1/9/17 to add: So I’ve resorted to copying entries from LiveJournal to here manually. I feel like a monk in a scriptorium. So far I’ve copied all my posts from today back to December 2016. Fortunately I have not been all that prolific, except in November when I attempted to write a post a day. I’m also not going to be able to bring over any comments, but I might add a new comment if the LJ comments revealed something pithy or expository.

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My terribly serious list of resolutions for 2017

In 2017 I resolve to

1. Buy new socks.

2. No, seriously, we buy socks in big packages and then they all wear out at the same time. WTF??? I resolve to find out why.

3. To write an Amish spy thriller.

Hannah Bontrager leaves her daed‘s farm in Lancaster, PA on her rumschpringe and meets Luke Tober, special agent and Englischer (or so he appears), who gets her entangled in a web of intrigue involving a boppli trafficking ring in Bavaria. What will the ordnung say about all this? Will Hannah have to leave her community for good and join the CIA with Luke? And if so, will the CIA let her keep wearing her kapp?

4. To use one of the several small kitchen appliances I’ve received as gifts over the years but which are still in their boxes.

5. To start a business to adapt medical assistive devices for the kinky market, for example, develop a CPAP that uses a gas mask instead of the regular masks.

6. To use this handy chart next year to create resolutions:

7. To never speak of past unfulfilled resolutions again. Or these, for that matter.

[originally posted 1 January 2017]

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More words to sweep into the garbage bin

We have reached that point in the year: Lake Superior State University has unleashed the 42nd annual List Of Banished Words into a post-truth world. As deadly as 2016 has been to both people and to hopes and dreams, it wasn’t terribly kind to the English language either. “Post-truth” is in fact on the list, probably the most worthy entry in my opinion. (Don’t normalize today’s rhetoric by giving it a cute name!) There were a few I had never encountered before, like “831.” But then I still use whole sentences when I send text messages. I would’ve liked to see “alt-right” on the list, because, again, don’t normalize something bad by giving it a cute name. But maybe in 2017 I will nominate it for the 43rd annual list.

There are now around 850 words on the List of Banished Words, which has existed since January 1, 1976. I’ve used the list as my last LJ entry of a year for the last seven years, now. So click the link above to read the entire list, and find others by checking out my tag words. Then your night out ringing in the new year will be linguistically … on fleek.

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