Finding Appalachian music with

For all who are interested in the traditional folk music of America, provides a searchable database by state, county, location, keyword, and date of all traditional music happenings in the Blue Ridge Mountains between North Carolina and Virginia. The Marshall Depot is listed as a venue, as are a few other gigs in and around Asheville.

The database is courtesy the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum at Ferrum College in Virginia, which also has some pretty cool Appalachian music material in its current online exhibit, “Deathly Lyrics: Songs of Virginia Tragedies.”

Most Unique Subscription Lists

Andrew Grumet: Most Unique Subscribers. Brilliant hack of the Share Your OPML SDK over at The basic concept, as invented by Chuck Welch in a comment on Andrew’s blog: add the number of users subscribed to each feed in your subscriber list and divide by the number of feeds in your list.

My number is 46.27 (based on the list published on the site; I need to upload a new list, since I now have 161 feeds in NetNewsWire (up 40 from when this started two weeks ago). If Dave’s new tool has done anything, it’s turned me into an RSS fiend.

One note: the more customizable feeds like the iTunes Music Store’s offerings become available, the higher everyone’s uniqueness number will rise.

Around the state of the union in nine points

A quick roundup of SOTU links so that I can finally close this collection of tabs in my browser:

Manila viewNewsItems goodness

I started playing around with a Manila macro that I had had filed away on my to do list for a while, the viewNewsItems macro. It’s a pretty powerful macro, allowing you to take your content and slice and dice it chronologically and by news department (aka category), as well as changing the presentation.

The only problem was I couldn’t figure out how to get the date parameter limits working. Every date string I passed in seemed to be ignored. I finally realized that I needed to let Manila figure out the appropriate date format for itself. So instead of trying to figure out the appropriate date string format, I used the date verb instead:

{viewNewsItems (n:100, department:"Music", maxDate:date("12/31/2001"), minDate:date("1/1/2001"))}

It seems like every programming language I run into has the same issue about how to deal with date formats. Here the safest thing to do seems to be to use the programming environment’s typing capabilities rather than figure out how to format the string properly.

Remembering IAP

Good crowd out last night at the IAP young alum gathering. True to the title, most of the folks there were young alums—folks who had finished their undergrad degrees in 2002 or 2003. But I had some nice conversations with a few of them.

I also had a chance to talk with Don, Kumar, Peter, and a few other Sloan folks. Don is apparently “living the dream” and working on the startup thing. It was good to see everyone.

Post caucus roundup: how to translate passion into action?

There’s too much chatter about the Iowa primary this morning to summarize even a thousandth of what’s being said. Two quick pointers: Scoble and Doc think Dean’s loss is about the Internet candidate not translating well to television; Greg wonders if this will position Dean as the power broker for the convention.

The real question for the Internet candidate, as I think for all of us who feel passionate about America and about our freedoms and using the Internet to build a more perfect union, is how do we make that vision real? How do we infuse the rest of America with our conviction? How do we translate passion into real action? How do we get down out of our ivory towers long enough to save the world.

Crazy workaround for three pixels

I just cleared up a funny problem that I’ve had with my site on IE6/Win ever since the redesign. Only folks who were leaving comments via the Discussion Board or my coeditors would have seen this one; it doesn’t affect most users becauase I generally don’t use tables in my content, at least not tables with explicit widths.

The problem was in the feature that allowed users to edit content in the site in an HTML form. The form, which is automatically generated by Manila, is displayed on the page wrapped in a table with width=100% set. Apparently this invokes an obscure bug in IE6/Win in which IE silently adds three pixels of padding when content is displayed next to a float, which if the content next to the float is specified as 100% of the width suddenly means that the content is now 103% wide. To display the content, IE then drops the content down below the float. What this means in practical terms is that every time I wanted to make a change to the site, I had to scroll down past my navigation bar to see the edit area.

The fix turns out to be to specify a dimension (width or height) for the problematic element. In my case, this looks a little like this:

/* fix for tables falling below the float in WinIE; hide from IE5 Mac */

* html #content table { margin-right: -3px;}

/* end hide from IE5/Mac */

So the hack only gets applied to tables in the content pane, and only for WinIE (because it uses the StarHTMLHack wrapped in the commented backslash hack.)

The scariest parts of this are:

  1. Someone actually did enough debugging to figure out the bad behavior and find a clean solution.
  2. This makes the second or third browser specific hack I’ve had to introduce into what was otherwise a fairly clean simple stylesheet. Grrr.

Supplemental feature: prev/next

I’ve updated the navigation on several subpages, particularly in the Esta and Mothman sections, to add Prev/Next links via the Manila hierarchyPath macro. I’m still rolling those pages out to the static server, but you can see them in action on the dynamic server. In some places you may see two sets of prev/next links; I’m working on that.

You may also find cases where the paging occurs out of order; if you do please contact me so I can fix it.

Serendipitous music finds

Found online today, two interesting directions in music:

  1. Goodbye, Babylon, a six-disc compilation of gospel and other sacred music and sermons from 1902 to 1960, is available from the company’s web site (Dust-to-Digital) for a cool $100. The compilation is getting raves: it could be the next Anthology of American Folk Music.
  2. Vijay Iyer, a pianist and academic theorist whose music was available on before its implosion (and is now available on his own site), just put together a song cycle with poet and hip-hop artist Mike Ladd called “In What Language?” that examines travel between countries in the post-9/11 world. Interesting stuff that is winning raves all over the place.

Culinary nirvana in Wallingford

Lisa and I have finally found a worthy Italian restaurant in this mostly Pacific Rim cuisine city. Wallingford’s Asteroid Café, despite its non-Italian name, has some of the finest Italian food and wine we’ve seen since leaving Boston. Just down the street from Dick’s, with twelve tables barely fitting in the storefront in front of the open kitchen, the atmosphere was nevertheless festive and the food was spectacular.

Perhaps because of the mad cow scare, osso buco was off the menu, replaced with rabbit in a white wine, sage, and rosemary sauce with tomatoes and olives over polenta. Knowing how Lisa feels about polenta, it will perhaps come as no surprise that I enjoyed the rabbit while she had the duck, which was served with a sauce made from stonefruits and berries over balsamic-tossed cabbage. With such divergent meals (I kept quoting Looney Tunes in my head: “Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!”), and the 125 Italian reds on the wine list, we could very well have fallen into vinicultural disaster, if not for the timely intervention of owner and sommelier Marlin Hathaway. He recommended a fantastic Nebbiolo from Lombardy that was made with part dried grapes for an Amaronesque slight sweetness that played off the rabbit sauce and the cabbage. We had a great conversation with him about Italian wines, the difficulty of keeping a good white wine list in a restaurant that’s barely big enough to have a bathroom (you have to go back through the kitchen to find it but it’s there), frozen desserts, and the neighborhood (he remarked that I looked familiar, but maybe it was just because I resembled Dave Matthews, who apparently lives a few blocks away).

I think we’ll definitely be going back.

What quake?

Looks like I’ve just slept through my third earthquake: we had a 3.6 just after midnight last night, centered at Bremerton (just about 20 miles away). For the record, the first two quakes I slept through were in the summer of 1995, when I was jet lagged and essentially sleeping with my eyes open in a conference room at Ridgecrest, California, during a 5+ magnitude tremblor; and of course in April 2002, when we had a 5.1 in Boston that almost woke me up.

Personal Firewall Day

This is smart: a coalition of computer software companies, including Microsoft, McAfee, ICSA Labs, Sygate, TruSecure, and Zone Labs, have put up a consumer facing site touting “Personal Firewall Day.” The site features information about why personal computer firewalls are important and links to how to get them set up, including a link back to the automatic firewall enabler on the Protect Your PC site at Microsoft. (Note: the link is fully automatic only on Windows XP.)