Obligatory iPhone post

Our travels today took us to Valley Fair (err, “Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair”), and I decided it was worth wandering over to the Apple store to see if I could look at an iPhone. There was a crowd by the entrance looking at an official demo, but I wandered around the store and found a salesperson with an iPhone and no one talking to him, so I filled the gap.

I did a tiny bit of web surfing (slow, even using the store’s WiFi network), and played a bit with the text keyboard and iTunes. I didn’t make any phone calls.

I’ve hit the point where I’m ready to replace my existing phone, a Motorola 551 — its audio, never great to begin with, is showing signs of wear and tear, and I’ve never liked some of the features. But even though the iPhone is very cool indeed, I don’t think it’s the right answer for my needs, and so I handed back the phone and went on my way.

Better than the Centennial Dome

The 100th anniversary of the War Between The States Civil War was, unsurprisingly, a Big Deal in Richmond. One of the ways in which it was celebrated was by building a special temporary museum downtown, the Virginial Centennial Center, and, as a schoolkid, I was taken there on a field trip.

I don’t remember many of the details, though I’m pretty sure that the exhibits slanted towards The Lost Cause view of the war; I do remember that they had some interesting dioramas portraying key battles, with moving lights and other high-tech 1960s effects.

The Centennial Center closed in 1965, though the building still remains (though it’s due to be demolished soon). But now there are two Civil War museums side-by-side in downtown Richmond, next to the James River and Kanawha Canal. One is part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park; the other, The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, is run by a private foundation. They share a parking lot, which is convenient.

We went to the Park Visitor Center first, picked up a virtual geocache, watched the movie, and poked around a little before walking down to Shockoe Slip for lunch and a real cache. Then we walked back and visited the American Civil War Center, before returning the the Park Visitor Center to finish the day.

Both museums were better than what I remember of the Centennial Dome, but if I only had had time for one, I’d go to the Park Visitor Center. It told the full story, with much less repetition, and with fewer noisy displays. And it was free. I don’t mind having gone to the Civil War Center, but one visit there was enough (they do, however, validate parking!).

Cemeteries and Silly Ass Toys

We’re in Richmond for the first time since my Mom’s funeral, so our first stop was her grave. It was the first time any of us had seen the marker, and of course Diane and Jeff had had to miss the funeral last year, so it was an emotional stop.

But then it was time for something completely different: a trip to Dave’s Comics and Silly Ass Toys so Jeff could pick up the current batch of comics in his subscription and we could talk with Dave, Marlon, Wendy, and Sheryl about old times, old friends, new toys, taxes, and spam.

Most of those topics aren’t of much interest to anyone but those involved (and taxes and spam will, I’m afraid, always be with us), but some of the toys were interesting. Dave showed us a Laser Star Projector — but he didn’t have one available for sale at the present time, so I won’t link to it. I will, however, sing the praises of one toy we’ve had for a few years, the Airzooka, which I really ought to bring into the office for those days where shooting something would be a good idea except for the consequences!

Dave recommended The Tavern in a small shopping center across the street, and it was a good choice. Not too noisy, all non-smoking (I think that’s still an issue here), tasty, and friendly. Worth another visit.

After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon in another cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery. I hadn’t been there in many, many years — when I went as a kid, I remember being somewhat frightened by the signs at the entrance reading “One Way In”. Those signs were gone, but the permanent residents remain, including two US Presidents (John Tyler and James Monroe) and one Confederate President (Jefferson Davis, of course). And one possible future president wanted to have his picture taken with all of them, but I’m only going to post one, at least tonight:

We also visited the Confederate section, where I found a monument to the Jewish Confederate dead with an oddly-transliterated version of the Sh’ma:

Apparently that spelling was used in the Prayer for the Confederacy, composed by the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Ahabah here in Richmond. I don’t know if it was supposed to be Yiddish or just idiosyncractic; I sure had never seen it before.

We finished our tourism for the day with a quick trip to Oregon Hill so I could show Diane and Jeff where my grandfather’s grocery store used to be, as well as some of the other sights I visited driving Shiva last year.

Then we headed back to my brother’s house where we finally saw them (they were asleep when we got in last night and we were asleep when they left for work and camp this morning), though we had exchanged phone calls during the day. Then dinner, a little geocaching, blogging, and now to bed….

Music, music, music…

Jeff and I had fun on the radio this morning; here’s the music we played, set by set:

Title Artist Album
First set: I tried to match Peter’s style for this time of the show by playing Celtic music during this set.
O’Mahoney’s Frolics The Chieftains A Chieftains Celebration
Green Fields Of Glentown / The Galtee Reel / Bobby Casey’s
Number Two / Wing Commander Donald Mackenzie’s Reel
Silly Wizard The Best of Silly Wizard
Tae The Weavers Gin Ye Gang/The Blackberry Bush The Tannahill Weavers Troubadours Of British Folk: Vol. 3
The Boys of the Lough / Slanty Gart Boys of the
The Boys of the Lough (Vinyl)
Second set: I intended this set to transition away from Celtic music; I had a few operational problems. I had planned to play Steeleye Span before Fairport Convention, but I started the wrong CD player coming out of my announcements. I had also intended to play Gordon Bok’s “This Old Mandolin” before David Grisman, but I left that disk at home and the station didn’t have a copy.
Tam Lin Fairport Convention Liege & Lief
The Old Maid In The Garrett / Tam Lin (Reel) Steeleye Span Time
O’Banion’s Wake David Grisman 100% Handmade Music, Vol. 1
Third set: This was the political set, although calling “Man of Constant Sorrow” political is pushing it…
I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow The Soggy Bottom
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
C for Conscription Almanac Singers Folk
Song America – A 20th Century Revival (Disc 1)
White House Blues John Renbourn The
Soho Years (but that album’s not available as far as I can tell, so try The Essential: The Best Of John Renbourn)
Acme Forgetting Company Lou & Peter Berryman House Concert
Fourth set: Ridin’ the rails to New Orleans and beyond…
Orange Blossom Special Johnson Mountain Boys Classic Railroad Songs, Vol. 1: Steel Rails
The Kettle Valley Line Bruce Brackney The Rose Tattoo
M.T.A. Kingston Trio Folk Song America
– A 20th Century Revival (Disc 2)
Mystery Train Rick Danko Bring It on Home, Vol. 1
The City Of New Orleans Steve Goodman Folk Song America – A 20th Century Revival (Disc 4)
New Orleans Maria Muldaur Bring It on Home, Vol. 2
La Danse de Mardi Gras Balfa Brothers The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, Vols. 1-2 (but I played the vinyl pressing)
Last set: I picked these songs to lead back to work, but there was another glitch — I had intended to play “Cold on the Shoulder” by Tony Rice to start the set, but I miscued the CD player! “In the Jailhouse Now” was a last-second addition.
Hello Stranger Norman Blake Rounder Folk
Don’t Think Twice (It’s All Right) Ramblin’ Jack
House on Fire: An Urban Folk Collection: Red House Records Tenth Anniversary
Hallelujah, I’m A Bum U. Utah Phillips Legends of Folk
In the Jailhouse Now Soggy Mountain Boys O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Jamaica Farewell Harry Belafonte “Harry Belafonte – All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1”

Almost everything I played was mine; I did use the station’s copy of Acme Forgetting Service since I only have it from iTunes. And I no longer own the Balfa Brothers LP, so I had to use theirs.

I enjoyed playing radio again!

And speaking of the radio…

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


(“Midland” is not necessarily the same thing as “Midwest”) The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it’s a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn’t mean you’re from the Midland.

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[via Hal]

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and had a distinct Southern accent when I first showed up at RPI — enough of one that someone gave me a hard time (probably in jest) when I showed up at WRPI and said I wanted to read the news. A week later, my Southern accent was gone, courtesy of some intensive listening to WCBS-AM’s news staff, and my radio career (I use the term loosely) began.