“Liebe Goldene Konfirmanten:” A meditation on faith

The organ-tour group happened to time our arrival in Leipzig to coincide with the start of Bach Week. We tried out two of the organs in Bach’s home church, paid our respects to his grave, bought Bach stuff from his museum, and discovered the mall that happens to have a train-station built into it. (Anyone who has seen the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof knows what I mean.) We also attended worship at St. Thomas, Bach’s church.

In addition to having a Bach choir there to sing part of the service and kick off Bach Week, the day also served to honor people’s confirmations, especially those who had been members of the church for 50 years or more – the Golden Confirmands. Continue reading

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Aquilegia: Now in Blueberry

Small, dark, and handsome. This was one plant three years ago. Now it covers half the flower-bed (not shown in photo.)

The flowers are about the size of a quarter, which tells you how small the plants are. The other plants in the bed are miniature roses. Continue reading

Is it Classical or Baroque?

I’m wrapping up Beethoven #2 at the moment. The “Choral Fantasy” was round one, and the Missa Solemnis is round three. I’m still not a Beethoven fan in terms of his vocal compositions, although some of his earlier masses are nice. He tends to park vocalists up at the top of our range and then come back later. Even the tenors have been muttering darkly about “was he writing for castrati?”

One of the other challenges with Beethoven, for vocalist and instrumentalist, is that we think of him as Romantic but he’s not. In some ways he prefigures the Romantic movement (Brahms) but he’s actually a classical composer, and has to be treated in that way to get an accurate sound. If you sing his music as Romantic, it’s not being true to what he intended. Continue reading

Armstrong Starters and Other Old Things

Ah, the days of old when men were bold and planes had round engines… And no electric starter. I got to fly with, and learn from, men and women of the Olde School, and they had more rituals than the Eastern Orthodox Church when it came to starting airplanes. Once I started working on vintage beasts, I learned why.

Round motors are sweet, amazing pieces of art and power when they work as desired. They are stone cold [invective of choice] when they don’t. And starting them is not as easy as the modern prime with gas, turn on magnetos, hit starter, add throttle and go. Oh no, no, one treated radial engines with the same delicate manners and techniques used for… Never mind, PG-13 blog. Anyway, crank and go is not a radial engine “thing.”

Continue reading

ANZAC Day

Lest We Forget. Fair Use under Creative Commons 4.0. From:https://www.theindiansun.com.au/2018/04/04/lest-forget-anzac-day-service-dawn/

April 25 is ANZAC Day, a day set aside in Australia and New Zealand to honor those who served in the militaries of both countries, and especially those who died in war. The men of Australia and New Zealand answered the call, first of England, then all free peoples, in the Boer War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and many other conflicts. We in the US don’t always think of Australia and New Zealand as having a military presence, because we don’t see them, but ask the people of East Timor and other places. You’ll learn a lot.

https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac-day/traditions

Two Steps Forward, One Sore Back

I caught myself cheating on the shoulder press on Saturday. Ow. Don’t do that.

I arched my back against the weight and tried to use body English. The good news is that I caught myself and promptly corrected my form. The bad news is that I managed to pull a muscle anyway. It really let me know when I was doing dead-lifts in between shoulder press sets. That last three inches to put the bar on the floor? Yeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhoooowch. Continue reading

Earth Day – Yawn

Rant follows. You’ve been warned.

So today’s when we are supposed to feel bad about using plastic and having opposable thumbs, or something.

I’m a conservationist. I believe in wise use of resources in order to benefit the most people over the longest time possible, based on the best knowledge that we currently have. I also heartily agree that we need green-spaces, places like parks, nature preserves, and well-managed habitats for wildlife of all kinds. We are stewards of this world, and we don’t always do as good of a job as we could, but we’re learning. Continue reading