Amy Winehouse – a Great Talent Gone

A Strange But Beautiful Flower Has Died

When Amy Winehouse died of an overdose at such a young age, I felt worse about her death than I expected to. She’s not someone I listen to all the time. But the first time I heard her, it only took a few seconds before I realized that hers was one of the most powerful and unique voices anywhere. It was all the more remarkable for issuing from her slight, often maltreated body.

I’ll confess that at times when hearing about her more wayward antics, I would sometimes judgmentally shake my head (or even chuckle) and think that someone should do an intervention. But it’s never that simple, as any addict will tell you.

I was thinking about how badly I felt when I heard the news. I do like an underdog, and she certainly didn’t make it based on looks. She created her own bizarre style, and despite the fact that my dress style would never be called edgy, I enjoyed her sartorial sorties just as I enjoy Lady Gaga’s insane getups. I was also hoping that she would pull it together, that she was still young enough to recover. It’s how many of us feel about addicts we see from a distance or in our own family. The thought of losing a very talented daughter with a very promising life ahead of her is singularly horrible. I think many of us can think of someone who is troubled, yet impervious to help and unable to care for themselves.

Read more

The Difference Between Flamenco and Classical Guitar

Because I’m a flamenco guitarist, people often ask me about this, because they look pretty similar. Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time there were two brothers. Their musical talent was evident very early on, and they both took up guitar. Though they enjoyed listening to electric guitar, they were more … Read more

Inwood Park – Beauty and Baseball (Béisbol) at the North End of Manhattan

After having been to New York so many times, it’s nice to be surprised. This time around, thanks to wonderful friends of ours, my wife and I had an opportunity to explore Inwood, at Manhattan’s very northern tip. Spanish can be readily heard in the area, and there are also many young professional couples with very young children. Admittedly, as in many city neighborhoods, there is a very noticeable divide between the affluent and not-so-affluent. While this is always discouraging, at least there is some interaction between socioeconomic groups, and it’s great to hear so many bilingual people. While it’s a vibrant area, it doesn’t have the ferocious intensity that you get in the midtown and downtown neighborhoods.

Our first surprise was the glorious Inwood Park. You’re greeted by huge gently rolling carefully tended grass fields, plenty of well-kept pathways, and an impressive Hudson river view.

Our first park stroll had an athletic theme. [Maybe I should have put this article in my training blog] A very buff, shirtless young man was doing some pull-ups. The personal trainer in me could not resist making some snotty sotto voce comments to my wife about his form. Lonnie laughed, and added that I should go and show him how it’s done. I said, no, I’m not like that, and normally that’s true. The chest-beating one-upmanship crap is so juvenile. This may be why people always underestimate my fitness level. She cajoled me, and finally, I said OK. He was so young and athletic, why not give him the benefit of having an elder show him how to do it right? I went over, and out of the corner of my eye, made sure that he was watching. In street clothes and with no warm-up, I snapped off 6 perfect pullups, well over the bar. I could have probably done two or three more with a struggle and/or a warm-up, but hey, that wouldn’t have looked as cool, and after all, I was on vacation; why work? So I smoked him, and it was hard to wipe the smiles off of our faces. As we walked away with bemused expressions, I could see him getting back up there for more pullups – he had to save face, and wasn’t going to let that old bastard show him up.

Read more

WP-Table Reloaded: One of the Best WordPress Plugins

Grand Prize

NOTE – just today in Feb. 2013, I got the upgrade notice to switch to Tablepress. Tobias has completely rewritten his application, and I can tell you it’s just as excellent as I would expect from him. I installed Tablepress, followed his conversion procedure, and am now enjoying a converted table.

Tobias is nearly a genius, I’d say, and sure enough, he’s studying for a PhD. in an advanced engineering specialty. Not only that, but though he is German, his English is just outstanding. Be sure to give a brother some and donate if you can!

I’ve tested and used many great open-source scripts, and some less-than-stellar ones as well. WordPress is truly a favorite of mine, and I’ve built a lot of sites with it, some bloggish, some not. With plugins that extend its capabilities, it’s even better. I use and test plugins frequently, and the number of them available is enormous. In a geeky way, it’s like shopping in a store full of great free stuff!

I have about a dozen plugins that I use a whole lot. But once in awhile you find one that really rises to the top.

Read more

Is WordPress Good for Beginners? Yes, But Not Always

Why can’t WordPress do everything I want, AND read my mind?

WordPress is such a nice system that its popularity has skyrocketed. It’s easy to use, and has a phenomenal feature set. As its fame increases, many newbies are now coming into the fold, and while many are happy, some of them are having a lot of trouble.

WordPress has been the premier open source tool for blogging for quite some time now, and people are also discovering that it can be used for other types of sites. The developers (and plugin authors) have done a superb job adding features and making the system easy to use. While this has allowed people with moderate computer skills to use it, an inevitable byproduct of such popularity is emerging: a lot of people cannot figure out various parts of the system, and they are having trouble getting technical support, even though there is a nice free support forum where people can join for free and ask questions.

Read more

Be Sure You Own the Domain Name of Your Website

I shouldn’t even have to write about this, but the problem still hasn’t gone away. When you set up your website, part of the process is choosing the web address of your site, such as YourGreatStore.com and so on. This is also known as the site’s domain name. It’s fairly easy to register and purchase the domain name online.

But many newbies were unwitting victims of a subtle trick: the web developer they hired registered the domain name himself before building the site. The site is running, it looks fine, everything’s fine, right? Just one little problem – the original client does not own the domain of their site, the web developer does. Why does this matter? I know of a case where a fellow wanted to update his website using a new designer. He went back to his old web developer and told him of his new site plans. Guess what? The developer said, sure, you can have access to your domain: I’ll sell it to you for $600. Otherwise, get lost.

Read more