Back to Carnegie Hall

I’m on the Acela this morning, heading back to New York for my second ever concert at Carnegie Hall with the BSO. This time feels more like a real performance; last fall when we sang Debussy’s Daphnis et Chloe, the chorus part was more atmosphere than anything else. We didn’t even have words to memorize, just vowel sounds.

Well, we have words this time. Thanks to Mr William Blake, whose prophetic vision has been stuck in my head for weeks now. I know thee, I have found thee, and I will not let thee go! Thou art the image of true God that dwells in darkness of Africa…

The cold that has been sneaking up on me for the past few days is almost here. I hope it holds out for a few more hours. There’s this weird thing that happens to my singing voice right before a cold settles in, when all the awful stuff in the back of my throat hits my vocal cords just right and smooths everything out and I’m hitting notes that were trouble the day before and will be unreachable for a week afterwards. With a little luck this is that kind of cold. I can hope, right?

A new use for that Boingo subscription

I have a monthly Boingo subscription. It was mostly so that I could get online at Logan, back when I was flying out a few times a month (or, week) without having to pay $6.95 a shot. I’m not traveling nearly so much for my new job and was considering cancelling—until I saw the news that AT&T is taking over the Starbucks hotspots from T-Mobile.

Since AT&T is a roaming partner of Boingo, I’m thinking about keeping the subscription. Prepaid high-speed at any Starbucks for my iPhone sounds like a pretty good plan.

Synchronicity II: HDI ITIM and Blogworld collide in Vegas

As always, I’m out in Las Vegas representing iET Solutions at the IT Infrastructure Management (HDI ITIM) conference. But this year, the timing is fortuitous, since not only ITIM but the Blog World Expo are in Vegas at exactly the same time. Looks like the last day of ITIM is the first day of the Blogworld conference, featuring back to back panels moderated by Blogcritics founder and publisher Eric Olsen.

Not only that, but Tony Pierce will be on the afternoon panel. Now that’s a cool conference.

I’ll be working the show floor at ITIM during the day, but maybe I can catch up with any Blogcritics or other bloggers who are in town for Blogworld. If you’re interested, drop me a line.

Like a well-oiled machine

I have been flying regularly—at least once or twice a month—since I took this job in early 2005. I have my security regimen down to reflex: on the way out of my car, my keys are already clipped inside my briefcase, my wallet is in my hand and I am tucking my parking pass inside and my license in my shirt pocket; by the time I am in reach of a bin in the security line, my laptop and one-quart bag are out and my jacket and shoes are off. I scoff at those occasional travelers who slow the line.

Well, I got my comeuppance. I waited about 20 minutes to show my boarding pass and photo ID to the bored worker at the head of the line so I could get in the stationary line to go through screening. He took a look at my boarding pass and said, “This is a JetBlue pass. This is the United line. Go back up the ramp and to the other side of the terminal.”

Thankfully, I left plenty of time this morning. But what a blow. My perfect system: busted.

Twister = 0, so far

I didn’t hear any twisters during the night, and a quick scan out my window shows only some leaves on the ground, so I guess I survived my first experience being on a tornado alley. So far, the only actual indication of a twister coming through has been a report of a possible tornado that went through a town about 12 miles up the road.

It is perhaps a sign of how sleep deprived I am that I say: the actual outcome wasn’t worth the sleep I lost. I should have stayed in bed.

Of course, I’m sure that my flight home will be disrupted; hopefully they are able to resume flights this morning.


…is being in Michigan in the midst of tornado warnings. They just moved everyone here down to the ballroom of the Marriott (which is, oddly, on the second floor—a strange place to take shelter). Still waiting for the all-clear. One of my coworkers couldn’t take a flight out tonight because of the weather—all planes were grounded.

So I’m sitting in the hotel bar, working, and waiting for the all-clear. What a weird night.

Update, 10:33 PM: Well, it looks like we’ll be down here for a while. They cut into the Red Sox game on the TV a few minutes ago and are now only showing weather maps, with a big red spot right over the town where we are. Still no signs of any trouble from inside the hotel.

Update, 11:28 PM: The game came back to the TV half an hour ago. There will be more storms moving through overnight, but if someone tries to roust me from my hotel bed again they’ll be sorely disappointed. I won’t be moving for anyone.

Rainy in Michigan

I’m on the road this week, accounting for the slow posting. It’s been an interesting few days, learning how a prospect does business and getting deep into their data. I’m also feeling the pain of being a Red Sox fan on the road when we’re two down in the championship series; I had a hard time sitting in the same room with some Cleveland fans on Tuesday night. Here’s hoping we turn it around tonight.

Photo catch-up


I’ve been heads down at work for a bit, so posting has been slow. However, I did manage to get some photos uploaded to Flickr in the last day or so, including a few summer studies at Crane Beach and the photo to the right.

A word of explanation, perhaps, is in order. The flight from Boston to Seattle (which I took back in August) is long, almost six hours. Perhaps to make up for this, some daytime flights manage to arrange their flight paths so that they come near some of the spectacular Northwest mountains, such as Mt. Rainier. The picture to the right was taken out the left window of an airplane just as some high-altitude cloud cover broke. The photo was not zoomed and was taken with my ordinary Canon PowerShot. The view from the plane window really was that spectacular. The accompanying photoset features some other images, many of which have been tweaked a bit to remove the general blue wash that the photo took on. (I will have to figure out how to get the exposure set correctly in the first place next time.)

Other favorites in the batch of uploads: the Harvard Lampoon building looking particularly Hogwartsesque, taken on the night that Harry Potter 7 was released; a nifty little flag shot and sand texture on Crane Beach; and a mountain sunrise from my folks’ place near Asheville. (There are also some special treats waiting for friends and family; make sure you sign into Flickr to see everything.)

Eating in Charlotte: a non-representative sample

I had the opportunity to try exactly one non-convention-center meal while I was in Charlotte this week. A few of us went to Ratcliffe on the Green, which is a very cool restaurant in a former Beaux Arts florist building (the Ratcliffe Florist neon sign is still out front).

The wine list was OK—I’ve been trained to look for certain Italian wines and am always a little miffed when Tuscany is the only part of the boot that makes an appearance—but the food was great. There were raves about the duck, the filet, and the rabbit (I had the latter and it had quite a lot to recommend it).

But for my money the best and most imaginative options were the starters. Foie gras brulée? Fabulous. The spare ribs were tasty too. But the absolute treat was the Eight-Piece Quail Bucket, which took the classic southern fried chicken and biscuits trope and miniaturized it. Little tiny pieces of quail piping hot and breaded with a crackling spicy not too greasy coating, with two biscuits the size of a silver dollar alongside. Um, fabulous. What a fun little restaurant; if more of Charlotte is like that, I’ll have to check it out again.

Travel daze

I jolted out of bed at 4:20 am today, not because of something I heard but because of something I realized I hadn’t: my alarm. I had a 6 am flight to get to. So I quietly stumbled downstairs, shaved and showered about as sloppily as I know how, stepped into my suit, and hightailed it to Logan. Thank goodness for the empty roads at 4:45 am. I had enough time to purchase and eat a bagel sandwich at the airport before my seating group was called.

On to Pittsburgh, for a two hour meeting with a customer followed by lunch. I was booked on a connecting flight to Charlotte at 8 pm tonight, but after lunch I called our travel agent to see if I could do something sooner. She said, “Well, there’s a flight that leaves at 3:35. Can you make that?”

I looked at the time on my phone. It was 2:05 pm and we were 40 minutes from the airport. “Sure,” I said.

Fifty minutes later, I was standing in line behind two young women who were pulling flat-panel LCD screens out of their laptop bags to run them through security. I inquired, and found out they were auditors, taking their office with them. I could tell they didn’t travel much: one of them left her boarding pass in her briefcase, then after it was fetched back for her grabbed the wrong boarding pass and we had to wait for it to go through the belt again.

After all that, I got to the gate just as my section was finishing its boarding. I squeezed into my middle seat and collapsed for a bit…

Until I got to Charlotte, where I rented a car and drove through heavy hurricane-remnant rain up to Asheville. Now I’m here, spending a day and two nights with my family before going back to Charlotte Sunday morning for the itSMF conference. But at least I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow. Maybe I’ll nap.


I managed to make it through a family reunion this weekend. The family part was fine; the traffic and weather almost did us in. It managed to pour the whole day of the August Brackbill picnic for the first time in a number of years, stranding us on the porch of the house. This after Lisa and I drove almost three hours from her parents’ (where we left the dogs for the day), then drove back through the same muck and mess. At least it was good to catch up with some family, particularly my grandfather.

Today was another day back at the office. I think things will start to get a little more interesting in September and October, when I will do a user conference, a product launch, a trade show, a partner conference, and at least one trip to Europe in about a five week period. Oh—plus, if I can make the travel work out, I will be making my Carnegie Hall debut with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. More to come…

Further proof that no training in life goes wasted

For this weekend’s Tanglewood residency, I am staying at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. It’s a ramshackle monster of a place, in continuous operation since the late 18th century (with sloping floors et al to prove it); has a prominent place in an iconic Norman Rockwell painting (“Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas”); and bills itself as a luxury destination. Which is why I always wondered how the BSO and the TFC could afford to billet volunteer singers there, as they do for nearly every residency.

The answer, it seems, is simple. There is this class of room at the Red Lion called B&B rooms. Neither of the Bs stands for en suite bathroom.

So—just like on the Lawn—I am throwing on a robe in the morning to go get a shower, etc. Unlike on the lawn, there is only a single shared shower and toilet per floor, for about 12 B&B rooms per floor.

I shouldn’t really gripe. The other amenities are nice; the service is great; the live jazz quartet I heard in the Lion’s Den on Thursday and Friday nights was exceptional. But I thought I left wearing a bathrobe in public behind me 13 years ago. Ah well. Apparently, plus ça change…


The only thing worse than having to work through a day off, is doing it on a rainy day.

Of course, there are those who will tell you that this is the best way to work on your day off, since you wouldn’t be having any fun anyway. To those misguided souls, I say: nah. The rain adds insult to injury. You get wet walking from place to place and you know that at the end of your journey you still have to pull out the laptop.

Context: I’m in Tanglewood this weekend. I had rehearsals yesterday and it was gorgeous, but I was also a little under the weather and couldn’t appreciate the great outdoors. Today I’m better but stuck working.

At least there won’t be a problem getting into the shed for tonight’s concert—if Ives and Carter haven’t already scared away all the attendees, the rain will do the rest.

Alive, still

All indications to the contrary, I’m still alive. It has been a lovely, if thundery, few days here in the mountains to the north and west of Asheville. Food has been commensurate with past experiences—steak at my uncle’s on Tuesday night, big southern breakfast Wednesday (eggs, sausage, sawmill gravy, biscuits, grits, tomatoes, cantaloupe, fig preserves, and black black coffee), a repeat of the fish tacos experiment last night. Tonight we’re going to make our way to the Jarrett House—if there is a connection to our family other than the name, it’s a distant one—for some fried chicken and trout.

Then, if we survive the meals, we’ll go to a rare movie on Friday, then get back on the road Saturday to go back to New Jersey, where we can collect the dogs and head for home.


Anyone wondering where I am is forewarned: it’s going to be a nice quiet vacation for me for about a week. Leaving out the car trips, which render it a nice, nerve-wracking headache of a vacation.

Today, for instance, we’re at Lisa’s parents in coastal New Jersey, after a six hour trip holding Joy (our Bichon dog who hates to travel, even when tranquilized). Our reward for the trip: a beach excursion cut short by 54° water. (It was 70° F three days ago before the storm.)

That’s OK. I made some killer fish tacos (fried tilapia and sour cream/lime/chipotle sauce) that more than made up for it, as far as I’m concerned.