Saturday, December 31, 2011

Something new under the sun...

I think the image on your computer monitor is called "wallpaper."

I know a "screen saver" changes images quickly.

But wallpaper is a single photo you usually select to display constantly.

This is a nice soothing picture and I like it.

It's part of a theme called "OCEAN" from Google/Chrome/G Mail..Whatever it's called.

It changes throughout the day based on my ZIP code.

Which tells it what time zone I am in.

As the sun moves across the sky, the screen reflects different times of the day.

I grew up in coastal Charleston and lived in Coastal San Diego for 10 years.

I have seen the sun rise in the ocean and set in the ocean. On my left and on my right.

Now I can experience that on my computer monitor.

I don't think it factors in the end of Daylight Savings.

(Click on the photos - twice - for more details.)

I went out for a few hours the first day this was displayed.

When I got back, I saw the scene also had had several hours pass while I was gone.

That's pretty slick.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A VERY wet day....

Standing in line at the South Carolina Aquarium could have been soggy.

My out-of-town relatives were weather prepared.

A friendly staff person was handing out loaner umbrellas to make sure ALL were kept dry.

My younger brother and his wife had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the day before.

Family had arrived from Florida and North Carolina to share their day.

I was invited to tag along with these visitors.

Well, yes, of course I brought my camera.

I haven't spent much time lately around youngsters.

They sure add excitement to any adventure.

Being short they do not hesitate to manuever their way to the front of a crowd.

They want to see.

So, they go to where they can.

Charlie and Kelly, their parents, said it had been several years since they had been to the Aquarium.

The little girls had been told they were going to see the James Island Festival of Lights that evening.

I suggested they might want to explore the Fire Museum near Tanger Outlet Stores.

They were standing in front of me looking at the jelly fish.

They said they were beautiful.

They were right.

They pressed their noses against the thick plexiglass looking at the cavorting otters.

Enjoyed close up looks at tiny alligators and turtles.

The younger child "Izzi" said she liked the otters the best.

Her sister Karlie said the sharks were awesome.

I don't think they even saw the small waterfall in the MOUNTAINS exhibit.

They had eyes only for the critters.

Water drips down even on a sunny day so I was shielding my camera from the elements. Got the shot I wanted.

A slow shutter speed makes the water appear to flow smoothly.

I was asked to suggest a place for lunch.

Joe Pasta met with approval from everyone.

Been there many times in the evening before shows at the Music Farm or Charleston Music Hall.

Had not been there for lunch but was aware that it was family-friendly and the server did a fine job.

He apologized that the 4-year old had been served an adult-size meal.

He said it would be charged at the kid's menu price.

She started with a fork but soon Izzi "took things into her own hands."

(Click on the photos - twice - to see more details.)

Looking around, as the sun came out brightly, I saw quite a few families with children.

Most were using forks - but not all.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

To New Heights....

We've all seen those roll around tall ladders in stores.

You know, the staff pushes them where they want them then uses a foot pedal to lock them in place.

Not so much a ladder as a rolling set of stairs.

Not a cherry-picker or a lift bucket like you see outside used by tree trimmers..

Not the complicated looking X shaped scissor-like contraption.

Anyway, I was in Mt. Pleasant at the new BOTTLES wine and beer store.

Talking with one of the owners, I noticed a nearby "stair ladder" and asked if I could climb up and take a picture?

He said "Sure, just be careful."

About a month ago, just after they opened the "not-so-big-box" spirits superstore, I had looked up and snapped a picture of the interesting chalk mural at the back of the store.

A little bit distorted from below.

Now I was on an equal level. It was a nice sturdy shooting platform.

The large drawing is at the end of an aisle marked "Local Brews."

Hmm. I saw Holy City Brewing Company drawn in chalk. I had had some of their tasty Pluff Mud Porter at several places around town. Here it was available at the Growler Filling Station in the center of the store.

The Palmetto name is familiar. I had learned it was Charleston's oldest beer maker when I toured the downtown facility.

The newest - and swankiest - brewer would be Westbrook not that far away right there in East Cooper.

They had just started selling their beer in 6-packs of cans and Palmetto was in bottles.

As I carefully climbed back down, I realized there was a fourth "local" that was missing from the mural. In fact, it wasn't for sale in the store at all.

Must be a story behind that I thought as I had my growler bottle filled and sealed.

Too bad.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

I was surprised it had taken so long for a BIG wine and beer store to open in Mt. Pleasant.

Glad these fellows decided to do it.

I know I'll be back.

Might even climb up high for another overview.

Carefully of course.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Musical Ambassador ....

Clay Ross is an Ambassador of Jazz.

No, he really is.

He has that title from the State Department.

He's a talented young man from Anderson, SC who has made a name for himself on the music scene.

Clay blends Brazilian folk with American Bluegrass and wraps it all together in a jazzy package.

Clay brought his 6-man band to the Pour House last Tuesday and had the place jumpin'.

Many here remember him from Gradual Lean as he honed his jazz chops.

Then he headed up to New York, traveled back and forth to Brazil and created a sound and style he calls Mantuto.

Ze Mauricio was the Percussionist who played everything in sight to make amazing sounds.

Edward Perez was on bass (with cowbells?!) and Richie Barshay was excellent on drums.

Rob Curto on accordian and Rob Hecht on fiddle held center stage with Clay for a glorious evening.

The second set began with a quiet salute to Jack McCray who died last month.

Jack was the founder in 2008 of the JAC, Jazz Artists of Charleston and a close friend of Clay.

"We'd meet for brunch at Joesph's and he always asked me to play 'Melancholy Baby.'"

"I never did so this one's for you Jack."

(Click on the pictures to see more detail.)

The sound - as usual - was just perfect. Not easy to do with the varied percussion instruments, balanced with strings.

Clay made a point to walk around and chat briefly with everyone in the place during the intermission. Have not seen that before.

Nice guy. Very ambassadorial.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

My short "Stax of wax"

It started as a project to convert the music on a 12" LP (Long Play) record to a CD.

An album I really liked was NOT available online as an Mp3 so I needed to do it myself.

My turntable had not been used in years. I blew off dust and saw the only speeds were 331/3 and 45.

My folks had a pile of old 78s downstairs but I had no way to listen to them.

My small collection seemed centered in the early to mid-sixties.

I recently took pictures of CCR's John Fogerty in a concert in Atlanta so I knew he still had The Voice.

The LIMELITERS were very big in Folk Music in the Sixties.

I'm sure the individuals went on to bigger and better things but I'm just not aware of any huge follow up hits.

I did come across some 5th Dimensions and a Mama Cass Elliott disk.

Wonder if she ever would have stopped by the California Dreaming restaurant here and looked out on our harbor? Do they serve ham sandwiches?

Saw some other of my musical friends from the 1960s recently.

Paul Simon performed in Atlanta earlier this month with an 8-piece band. No sign of that other curly-headed fellow he used to sing with.

Sweet Baby James Taylor played in Columbia last year and his son was onstage with him.

He looked older than his dad did on the album.

Record cover art. Wow.

Now THERE was a remarkable 12" x 12" canvas for artists and photographers.

Sometimes, inside, they would spread out and cover the entire 12" x 24" surface.

Huge four-color wall posters often were enclosed.

But, it's time to get back to dubbing a hard-to-find album by Craig Hundley.

That's the one that started this nostalgic trip back in time.

Craig was a 12-year old prodigy in the jazz world.

I never saw him perform but the album caught my ear.

Does anyone else out there know anything more about him?

He'd be about 50-60 now and I hope he continued playing.

No trace of him online though.I Googled him.

I'll make sure his music continues even today on Smartphones and I-Pads.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Getting A Needed Trim...

Heard a loud and familiar sound the other morning.

Really noisy. It kept going. Non-stop.

Sounded like a wood chipper. Remember the movie "FARGO?"

Yep, It was a branch grinder. A really large one.

The contract crew fromSCE&G had come to my street to clear overhead wires,

Guess putting them underground was not an option.

Naturally I walked out with my camera to see the before and after.

I'm sure they get a lot of people standing around with cameras.

These guys really know what they're doing.

The guy in the cherry-picker bucket started above the heavy growth.

The wires soon appeared as he cleared out the prescribed areas.

The fellow on the ground who was tossing cut branches into the chipper said it had been about 6-7 years since this street had been pruned.

I've read complaints about excessive cutting or the trimming resulting in "ugly" trees.

I have no problem with what they did.

They're trying to help me not lose power during a storm.

I appreciate that. A lot.

Sitting in the dark, either too hot or too cold, is not pleasant.

Hey, trees grow back.

(Click on the pictures to see more details.)

I hope these fellows get positive feedback on what they do. The heavy snow 2 years ago - thankfully very brief - sure made branches sag VERY low.

Luckily outages were rare in my neighborhood.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Better Than Sliced Bread....

Easier to use than a toasted cheese sandwich if you're changing channels on your new tv.

Or want to listen to music through your new receiver.

Or stream movies from Netflix with the Roku. Or turn on your Blu-Ray DVD player.

Volume control at your fingertips.

You also get to stash 6-7 other remotes in a drawer. Not needed anymore.

The Harmony by Logitech controls EVERYTHING in your media entertainment setup.
You merely decide what piece of equipment you want to use and download online information about it.

A logical sequence is tried out: 1. turn on the television, 2. turn on the digital cable box, 3. turn on the AV receiver.

Press one button and all those steps will be taken when you want to watch tv!

Music? Decide if the sound is coming from a CD or through the television and do the settings in proper sequence.

Press one button for music. One for a movie.

There's even an additional button for "Every thing else."

My only problem now is trying find a updated VCR player. I have 2300 movies on tape. The alphabetical list of titles fills 50 pages.

At least my 1300 CDs will still play by pressing a button.

Yes, I am looking into converting the CDs to Mp3s.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

My stack of old equipment is impressive.

But, unfortunately, it's all "old school" and really has no value today. How many VCRs do you have sitting around your house?

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Season Lighting.....

This actually was taken LAST Christmas. I saw this colorful scene while visiting my Mom.

I don't put up a tree at home.

My brothers and I still remember the year Dad brought home a bright shiny aluminium tree.

And set up a floodlight with a color wheel that slowly revolved.

My family quickly realized that blue and orange are NOT Christmas colors.

And, neither is pink.
Some downtown restaurants show the traditional seasonal colors.

This one does all year long.

I note the City puts up an annual "Holiday Tree Of Lights" in Marion Square each year.

Guess it would not be prudent to call it a "Christmas" tree.

Too bad.

When I lived in Tallahassee, Florida, I used colored lights to outline several wooden "reindeer" I made and set up in my front yard.

Now I get nervous driving back from Myrtle Beach at night.

I don't like seeing REAL deer eyes shining alongside the road. Yikes.

Sesame Burgers and Beer in North Charleston near Park Circle presents an unusual sight.

From the inside, the beer signs reflect in the window and they appear to be hanging on trees.

Well, not quite as dramatic as this.

Photoshop helped me "flip" the signs so they read correctly.

Then I copied some - and added more - to decorate the tree.

Look back. I'm sure you noticed the red bicycle on top of the green Basil sign.

'Tis the season.

(Click on the pictures to see more details.)

The other patrons at Sesame thought I was crazy, snapping pictures looking though the front window.

They didn't see what I could see.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

"Gonna Be ON Tv Soon...."

Stepping up to a larger flat screen television set MIGHT cause a problem.

For my cat.

And, for me.

She has never paid attention before but the bigger, brighter image seems to catch her attention.

She favors the Detroit LIONS, the Jacksonville JAGUARS, the Cinncinati BENGALS and the Carolina PANTHERS.

At first she walked carefully over and around the various tv remote controls.

Some were quite old and some were brand new.

There's even one now for a ROKU unit so I can stream Netflix.

I'm waiting until I install my Blu-Ray DVD player before I consolidate ALL into my universal remote.

I took the batteries out of the ones I'm not using now.

The cat has moved closer but - so far - has not pawed the screen.

Apparently, football is the mainstay of her tv watching.

She does not seem to be interested in Comedy Central.

Not even Jon Stewart on The Daily Show or Stephen on the Colbert Report.

I knew my kitty was curious.

I just assumed she had a sense of humor.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

Streaming movies is a great way to see big, vivid films. The cat's not much of a cinema buff but let's see what happens when we check out Animal Planet.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Still Crazy After All These Years...

Took a run over to Atlanta this weekend to see Paul Simon.

Another "Legend" on my Must See list.


It CAN'T be that many years since The Concert In Central Park?

Say it isn't so "Mrs. Robinson."

There's gotta be "50 Ways" I like this guy.

"Rhymin' Simon" still has the pipes to belt out his classics.

An 8-piece backup band adds a lot to his show too.

A New Orleans-feeling scene filled the backdrop for some Rhythm of the Saints.

I missed his earlier national tours like Graceland so I knew I wanted to see him this go around.

Northeast of downtown the Gwinnett Center Arena is a fine music location.

I saw Jack Black and his Tenacious D there a few years ago.

Someone said Paul Simon had played Atlanta just a few months before and sold out the beautiful amphitheatre at Chastain.

That would have been a more recent Concert In The Park.

(Click on the photos for a larger image.) The security staff was VERY accommodating of us camera-toters and that's always appreciated. Popping a flash is kind of distracting but the fans were happy.

My Canon S90 didn't bother anyone.

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