All Recommendations

Expression Engine  

A Tremendous Content Management System
Content Management System

I learned to use Expression Engine for one of my day jobs. It wasn't long before I decided to make the transition for my own pages. EE, as it has come be called in the field, enables relatively easy coding for blog-type sites like this one. The great thing about it is that the html and css are COMPLETELY up to you (so you need to know html and csss). I have made three science-oriented sites with it that have very formal but deep navigational structures. This site, on the other hand has a simple structure and is more focused on graphics.

EE requires that you learn it's logic of channels and categories, and there is a system of tags, too. Learning all this is well worth the effort as it makes building rather complex content structures much easier than other systems with significantly more visual versatility than Drupal, Plone, and such.

EE is supported by a very active and helpful forum. I usually get an answer that works within 5-6 hours.

The cost varies depending on your application and ranges from $99 to $300. EE also has a 'kid-sister" called MoJoMotor, which is touted as a very user-friendly CMS. I have not used this yet.

Here's the EE link:
Here's the link to MojoMotor:

Posted on 03/18/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________


It's a sad day.

My Government's Senate no longer supports public radio. I made a donation and will make more. Support your local NPR station.

Posted on 03/17/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gerald Self, Harpsichord Maker  

Custom built Harpsichords and also a radio show about harpsichord music
Flemish Single Harpsichord
by Gerald Self.

When in negotiations to purchase a harpsichord kit from Gerald Self, it rapidly became apparent that Mr. Self knows not only about building instruments, but also about the music that they make. He works with materials and parts from of Marc Ducornet and The Paris Workshop. He imports kits, and also sells finished instruments. If you have any questions about harpsichords of are thinking about building one, an adventure I strongly recommend, Gerald can get you set off in the right direction.

Posted on 03/17/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, MD  

Stories of Personal Triumph from the fronteirs of Brain Science

Doidge's book discusses neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain - at all ages - to rewire itself. Although superficially, this may sound trivial, in fact neuroplasticity can help the brain recover from profound trauma. Willful application of this knowledge can empower us to change the way we think and approach life. The book is full of real-life examples that bring the points home in a fascinating and inspiring way. It also discusses the habit of the brain to retrace familiar pathways and reinforce mental habits, a tendency that lends to efficiency, but can limit mental flexibility if not recognized.

This book shed light on so many of my mental and neurological processes, it was unbelievable. Some interesting and specific examples:

  • Why it took 3 weeks to get the hang of playing a major scale on an English concertina.
  • Why I could only move my two smallest toes at the same time but not independently (dystonia), and how to fix it... it worked.
  • Why undoing learned behavior is so difficult.
  • That I can actually teach my elderly Beagle new things. She now can lay down on command!
  • And that age or habit is no excuse for avoiding learning something new. I can now sightread jigs at tempo on my concertina. It took 6 months of daily practice to rewire my brain to the peculiar keyboard layout of the instrument. The piano layout had been hardwired in me since my youth.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves learning, or who feels stuck in some old habits.

Posted on 03/16/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Button Box  

The NE US Premiere Concertina Makers and Accordion Shop, Sunderland, MA

I have two handmade concertinas from the Button box. The sound is great, perfectly tuned. The bellows are so carefully made it's a joy to work them. The Cherry ends are perfectly finished with a rich transparent lacquer that shows all the beauty of the wood.

The Button Box also has carefully selected sheet music and recordings, sells and repairs accordions, and accessories. Their website is great with photos and descriptions of all the current inventory. You can learn a lot just from browsing their site. If you're in the market for a squeezbox of any sort, you ought to check out what they have to offer. The Button Box.

Posted on 03/15/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

No. 4 Street of Our Lady  

A documentay film about a woman's heroic efforts to save two families

Based on the diary of one of the survivors and featuring personal accounts of many of the survivors living today, this documentary showcases how one individual, Francisca Halamajowa, and two families with insurmountable will power endured World War II. The film has won many awards at competition and is beautifully filmed and structured. The film left me with a feeling that I can and should do things to change the world. Go to the website.

If you happen to notice the maps in the film, I helped out with these. They are a combination of inkwash and digital manipulation.

Posted on 03/15/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

Consilience by E.O. Wilson  

The Unity of Knowledge

This book is a valiant and successful effort to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all branches of knowledge, from physics, to biology, to psychology, and art. Although interdisciplinary is a buzz-word on campuses today, in practice means geochemists speaking to biogeochemists or artists talking to designers. Wilson spreads his wings here and brings current knowledge back to its roots in Classical and Renaissance thought. A definite must read for all academe.

Posted on 03/14/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________


Traditional Animation software

Pencil is a remarkably simple FREE program that you use to create classic flip-book type animation. It has easy to use brush and color tools and a simple time-line tool. It's a tool to introduce anyone to digital time-based media. Simple enough for elementary school kids to use with some guidance, it is also used in college film programs.

Posted on 03/14/11 _________________________________________________________________________________________________

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