Sunday, July 31, 2005

Techie Report - 2 - By Roger McGuinn

Here are some tech gadgets and podcasts that I've been into lately.

I just got Delphi's MiFi hand held XM satellite radio.

It's about the size of an iPod and receives satellite radio without external power or antenna. It also records 5 hours of programming for times when you're not able to pull in the satellite signal. I love it! It's perfect for listening to XM on bike rides or walking. I use it in my office and in the car with an external antenna as well. Great little gadget!

I recently bought two TV tuner cards for my computers, both from ATI. One is for a desktop. The other is a USB 2.0 device that plugs into any computer. I use this with my Dell Inspiron 8200 notebook as kind of a Tivo. I like to record shows and burn them to video CDs to watch in the van. These TV cards are great as free alternatives to the subscription services for TV recording. I was thinking of installing a Linux PVR called MythKnoppix but decided that I didn't want to dedicate my laptop hard drive to Linux or even create a dual boot.

If you would like to play with Linux but don't want to install it on your hard drive, there are over 100 alternatives. I love Knoppix live CDs! FREE Download:

Because my iPod Photo is linked to the Apple G4 Cube that Woz gave me a few years ago, I wanted something to link my iPod Photo to on the road. The iBook G4 12" was my choice. I love this little box! It ships with a mere 256 MB RAM but I've added 1GB additional RAM to give it 1.25 GB thanks to birthday money from Mom.

The way it comes to life from "sleep" is truly amazing. For someone who's worked with Windows laptops all my life, this was a revelation. My Dell Inspiron 8200 takes a few minutes to wake up from "hibernation." The iBook wakes up instantly. It looks so cool too with its white polycarbonate shell. They say it's the stuff they make bullet prof glass out of. iBook

Speaking of the iPod, iTunes
now has the Folk Den in its podcast section. It works with both Windows and Mac platforms. You need to download the latest version 4.9 to get podcasts. This is the easiest way to get them and a great way to subscribe to the Folk Den and have the new songs come into your iTunes podcast folder automatically every month. Click here to Subscribe to the Folk Den iTunes Podcast. It will ask you to open iTunes if you have it or download it if you don't. Don't worry, it's OK to open it.

Here are some of my favorite podcasts: This Week in Tech with Leo Laport, Diggnation w/ Kevin Rose, CommandN,
and The Mac Observer's Mac Geek Gab.

Keep your eye on Kevin Rose. He's a bright enterprising guy. Kevin quit his paying job at the G4 TV network to go out on his own and follow his dream. Kind of reminds me of Woz, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates some 30 years ago.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Special Lady by Camilla McGuinn

On July 28, 1910, a very special person in my life was born – the mother of the man I love.

Louis and Irene Heyne called their only child Dorothy. She grew up a city girl in Chicago, never quite got used to the winters, but she loved the excitement of the city. In 1932 she graduated from Northwestern University. Dorothy wasn’t sure what she was going to do with a college degree but she was sure that she wanted an exciting life. She found a job as a reporter for the Hearst newspaper, CHICAGO AMERICAN.

On August 6, 1940 she interviewed for a job with a publicity firm. It was for a temporary job to replace Jim McGuinn who was leaving for a 3-week stint at The National Guard camp. Before Jim left in his military uniform, they had their first date and he asked her to marry him. When he returned from his camp duty, she accepted his proposal.

Their 45 day, whirlwind romance became a marriage just before noon at City Hall in Chicago, October 19, 1940. There was no time for lunch; Jim had to go back to work. They had just enough time for a champagne cocktail at the Palmer House.

Jim and Dorothy’s friends were writers, artist and actors. They loved long nights of lively discussions. In 1941, Dorothy was surprised to find herself with child. She and Jim weren’t sure how a baby was going to fit into their life style but when James Joseph McGuinn, III was born on July 13, 1942, their life was enhanced. Little Jimmy became the admired attraction at all their parties.

Dorothy & Jim McGuinn, 1949 in St. Augustine, FL
Photo by "Little Jimmy"

When Little Jimmy was five, Jim and Dorothy wrote a satirical book on child psychology and it became a best seller, PARENT'S CAN'T WIN. The success of the book gave Dorothy and Jim their chance to escape the cold Chicago winters, so they packed Jimmy into the convertible and headed to Florida. Dorothy was going to write, Jim was going to paint and Jimmy was going to first grade. St. Augustine was pretty, but after a while the vivacious couple got bored. They couldn’t go back to Chicago, their friends had given them a wonderful round of going away parties and it was too soon to show up on their doorsteps again, so they headed to New York.

Little Jimmy was 8 years old when his brother Brian was born in Tarrytown, NY. Dorothy had settled down and loved being a mother but she still missed the excitement of a career and the parties of Chicago. After a few years of living in Fordham Hill, they were back in the Windy City.

Dorothy and Jim were entrepreneurs and started their own public relations business. They moved to a house on East Division Street. While on East Division they watched Jimmy develop into a folk singer with lessons from the new school in town, THE OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC. They were his biggest fans and never missed his coffee house performances. They weren’t concerned that Jimmy wasn’t interested in college. They encouraged him to follow his dreams, just like they did.

Jimmy left home when he was 17, right after graduation from the Latin School of Chicago. He was hired by the LIMELIGHTERS to fly to Los Angeles and to play guitar and banjo on their album, TONIGHT IN PERSON. Jimmy never returned to live at home, but he often visited and would bring by his new circle of friends. Dorothy loves telling the story of waking up one morning and finding Tommy Smothers sitting at her kitchen table.

When Jimmy’s group the BYRDS, had a number one single, Dorothy, Jim and Brian would call the local radio station on a rotating basis and ask them to play “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Fans would gather outside their townhouse and Dorothy would invite them in for hot chocolate. She developed long relationships with the fans that adored her son. She still continues some of those relationships today.

She is a very special lady. Her dreams lead her to places most people won’t go. She knows that life is wonderful and exciting. This is her 95th birthday and she will read this because she turns on the computer everyday and answers her email. So, Dear Dorothy, Happy Birthday and we want you to know that we are planning your 100th Birthday Party. Which city do you want to have it in?

Dorothy has decided to start a blog of her own. Visit her at:
Roger's Mom's Blog

Monday, July 25, 2005

Roadie Report 3 (July cont. & My "Lemonade Stand")by Camilla McGuinn

The July Tour 2005 (cont.)

We checked into the hotel and met Frank, a retired secret service agent who had volunteered to be our security guard for the concert. He was a friend of the promoter and also worked for the hotel. I found his answer to my question about his favorite presidents, very interesting.

The hotel owner suggested we have lunch at one of the restaurants in Perkins Cove. Her directions to the cove took us on a pathway that skirts the Maine coastline. The restaurants were just opening when we finished our short hike and we were ready for some Maine lobster.

Roger was scheduled to be the guest on the evening WCSH TV show 207. Reg, the concert promoter, drove us through the drizzly rain to the TV station in downtown Portland. The hosts that night, Rob Caldwell and Pat Callaghan were big fans, so the thirty minute show was a lot of fun for Roger. In between the questions about his musical history, Roger played three songs on his Martin HD-7-RM- “My Backpages” (YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY), “The Trees Are All Gone” (BACK FROM RIO) and “ St. James Infirmary Blues” (LIMITED EDITION).

We woke up Saturday morning and opened the windows to the first rays of sunshine that we had seen in days. The crowds were gathering on the beaches and in the coves. The July 4th weekend was off to a good start.

Our permanent schedule on the day of a show is very structured. We eat lunch around 2pm while we discuss the songs for the concert. This meal will be the last one we eat until we return to the hotel after the performance, hopefully before midnight.

Since the sun was shining, we decided to walk through the town of Ogunquit back to Perkin’s Cove and to Barnacle Billy’s restaurant. We later heard a story that this particular restaurant was known to be a place where a former president docks his boat and grabs a bite to eat. It wasn’t a day for a presidential visit, in fact at 2pm; we were the only people in our section of the restaurant. I couldn’t resist ordering just one more lobster dish while we planned the evenings concert.

Reg picked us up early for the sound check because of the holiday traffic.

Once the sound system and the lighting cues are checked and rehearsed, Roger goes to his dressing room to think about the show and to sign a box of CDs which I sell at what he calls my “lemonade stand.” I was never interested in selling merchandise, I was already wearing enough hats, but when we produced “Limited Edition,” Roger figured out a way to get me out of the dressing room. I’m the one who usually gets stage fright and sometimes my nervousness can be contagious.

I do enjoy selling the CDs because it gives me an opportunity to talk to the people who come to the concerts. They tell me about the last time they saw Roger in concert and I hear some wonderful stories. This night in Wells, Maine the “lemonade stand’ opened the door to a very touching moment. A couple introduced themselves to me after they realized I was “the wife.” He told me the tragic story of the death of his wife about five years earlier. During that time he was devastated. One day he played BACK FROM RIO and was intrigued by the song “Without Your Love.” The words were so close to the pain he was feeling and he wanted to know what we meant by the phrase “This mercy so severe.” So he emailed us.

We told him, the book “SEVERE MERCY” by Sheldon Vanuken was the inspiration for the song. He obtained a copy and was also touched by the story. Reading the book not only helped him through his grief, it also introduced him to C.S. Lewis, who was a friend of Sheldon Vanuken.

That night, I felt like an old friend had stopped by to talk and when I asked if the lady who was with him was someone special, he gave me a big smile and said, “ yes…everything is better now.”

I love my lemonade stand!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Techie Report 1 - Why Three GPS Units? By Roger McGuinn

Back in the last century we used a Garmin eMap GPS unit connected to a laptop, running Windows 98 and a map program called Street Atlas 4.0. As the years passed we upgraded the software to Street Atlas 7.0. We tried several subsequent versions of Street Atlas as they came out but they weren't as good as 7.0 because for some reason they had abandoned the Windows desktop structure in favor of some generic one. We loved the way 7.0 worked with keyboard shortcuts and it did everything we needed. It tracked our position on a moving map, told us how far it was to our destination, and talked to us. The way it talked reminded us of our friend Bill's son, Andrew. Andrew talked quite a lot when he was a toddler. The computer talked a lot too and was frequently amusing in its pronunciation of some words like "scenic" which it insisted on pronouncing "cynic." It made funny little mistakes, like telling us to make a right turn onto a road from the middle of a bridge, where the road was 100 feet below us. In spite of these minor shortcomings, we named the GPS / laptop combination "Andrew" and kept him.

Last year we got two new GPS units, "Nancy" and "Bob." Nancy, named after Nancy Drew - the teenage detective, is a Magellan 700 with a built-in 10 GB hard drive containing all the maps of North America. She talks a lot but is usually correct, both in her pronunciation and directions. Bob is a Garmin

GPS 76 CS hand held unit who can't speak. Bob beeps instead, so his nickname is "Beepy Bob." He's capable of showing detailed directions, including turns. We use him mostly as a speedometer which is much more accurate than the one provided by Ford.

Nancy and Bob live on the dashboard. We take them in at night for security reasons. In the morning my job is to get Nancy, Bob and Andrew powered up and running. Nancy comes right to life and Bob is pretty quick, but poor Andrew sometimes takes up to five minutes to wake up. This used to present a problem when he was our only GPS because we would have to wait for Andrew before we could head out. Now we're on the highway in a matter of seconds.

We've become increasingly more dependent upon Nancy. Sometimes I don't even know where I'm going when I'm driving, because Nancy knows. This can be troublesome when a police officer asks you where you're going and you can't come up with a good fast answer, as I found out one afternoon on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The State Troopers wanted to bring their dogs to search our van when I couldn't tell them where we were going. We were profiled for having Florida license plates.

Another great thing about using a GPS is being able to get around traffic snarls. You can leave the main road with complete confidence and you'll never get lost. We love to drive the back roads of America and now we can take more of them than ever thanks to GPS technology.

Our hand held GPS came in handy in London last year when traffic was so backed up during a taxi ride to the BBC that we had to get out and walk. I had marked the location of our hotel on the GPS and when we got to the radio station we realized that our hotel was less than two miles away, even though the taxi ride had been an hour. We were able to enjoy a leisurely walk back to our hotel thanks to our GPS.

I just celebrated my birthday on July 13, and Camilla got me a new GPS. It's a Magellan 760 like Nancy, but has a 20 GB hard drive and many improved features. We named her "Cherry" after Cherry Ames, another fictional sleuth from Camilla's youth. We always name our GPS's because as Camilla says "Things just run better when they have names."

All the best,


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Roadie Report 2 (July cont.)by Camilla McGuinn

The July Tour 2005 (cont.)

South of Norfolk, VA, we had to leave the peacefulness of Highway 17 and join the hustle on I-64 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The almost twenty mile Bridge-Tunnel provides a direct link between Southeastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula. It was opened in 1964. My family vacationed in Virginia Beach in 1967 and one of our adventures was to drive across the bridge since it was named one of the “Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.” I don’t remember the price of the toll then, but now it is $12. That does include a coupon for a free soft drink at Sea Gull Island, which is located on the southernmost of the Bridge-Tunnel's four manmade islands. All that view and a soda too!

After crossing the bridge, we drove on Highway 13 past the Chincoteague exit. There was a bit of struggle not to turn toward there because Chincoteague Island is one of our favorite stops. The town reminds us of why we moved to Morro Bay, CA on July 28, 1980 - one main road, fishing boats and an old fashion movie theatre. But we were on a quest to catch the last ferry to Cape May and had to keep going.

Chincoteague Fishing Boats
Photo by Camilla McGuinn

About 90 minutes before the last Cape May- Lewes ferry was to depart, we entered the ferry tollgate, paid the $33 toll and parked our van in line six. It was 6pm and we decided to have a “fun meal” in the terminal before the ferry loaded its passengers. What we call a “fun meal” is one that we would never eat unless we had no choice - hotdogs were the fun food for the evening. We carried our tray to the upper level away for the joyous screams of the children and found a quiet bench on which to munch our mustard-laden treats.

It was almost twilight when we drove onto the ferry. There was a lot of activity on the car deck - the barking sound of the crew directing the positions of vehicles, car doors slamming and people walking rapidly to the upper decks. We decided to ride the 80-minute mini-cruise across the mouth of Delaware Bay on the same deck where the van was secured. The wind was blowing with the ferry and as we stood on the bow watching the dolphins on the port side, my hair didn’t even whip across my face. The sky was overcast, the sunset was a muted gray. Roger started singing a song quietly as he looked at the distant shore of Cape May. The last time we had been on this ferry was in December, 2001. The song was a Christmas folk song and when he finished, he smiled at me and told me that he had forgotten about the song. The quiet beauty of the voyage on board this ferry longer than a football field, inspired the return of a tune learned at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the late 1950s. Roger now knows the December song he will sing for the FOLK DEN.

We drove off the ferry into the dark night. We had spent time in the town of Cape May during the December 2001 trip on our way to New York City where Roger was invited to be a guest on the David Letterman Show. It was on that tour that Roger found his hat in a small shop in Cape May and wore it for the first time ever on Letterman’s show. Since we had already enjoyed the town, we felt a need to get as close to Maine as possible before the holiday weekend started. We opted to get on the Garden State Parkway and let Nancy, the GPS, find a hotel room for us. We stayed in Absecom, NJ.

On Wednesday, June 29th, Roger had a telephone interview with a radio station in Portland, ME. As soon as he finished, we returned to the Garden State Parkway and took it to I-87 in NY. We crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge just in time for lunch in Tarrytown. Roger had lived in Tarrytown for a few of his elementary school years. His younger brother, Brian, was born there on May 16, 1950.

Tarrytown hasn’t changed much since then, except for the amount of traffic. It does have wonderful restaurants and even a castle where we spent the Christmas of 2001.

The rain started pouring down just as we finished our delicious meal at the small Italian restaurant, Lago di Como, 27 Main Street. It was around 2pm, the restaurant was empty except for us and an elderly Italian couple who spoke softly to each other in their native language. Our window table was such a romantic setting, that we didn’t want to leave, plus we didn’t relish getting soaked, so we ordered a cappuccino and made romantic plans to travel around the world again. I haven’t been to Rome. Roger has. He’s going to take me there someday.

We reluctantly left our cozy, dreamy table and ran to our van. The weather made us decide to seek a local hotel room for the night. It was a very good idea. The heavens opened and the area received 2 inches of rain before 5pm. The lightening was so intense, that just as we were moving our equipment to the hotel elevator, all the fire alarms started clanging and the elevator stopped. The fire department came, reset the alarms and we found our room 45 minutes after checking in.

The next morning the sky was clear and we headed north on Highway 9. Our plan was to go up to Albany and catch I-90 east, but I enjoyed the scenery so much, that I missed a turn and ended up on the Bear Mountain State Parkway. It was time to plug in Nancy, the GPS. We were directed to the quickest route to Maine. At Haverhill, MA, we pulled in for the night just to avoid the rush hour traffic on the raining I-495. It was time for a hotel room picnic.

On Friday, July 1st, we arrived at the historical Beachmere Inn, Ogunquit, Maine. A photo I took from our room is on the first installment of the Roadie Report.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Roadie Report (July Tour) By Camilla McGuinn

The Roadie Report

(Photo By Camilla McGuinn)

The July Tour 2005

To call this a tour is a misnomer. We quit touring in 2001 when we told Bruce Houghton at Skyline Music if he would book Roger at interesting venues for a proper fee, we would travel great distances and he would not be responsible for pickup dates to fill the time and the expense of being on the road. But when we have two concerts on the same trip, it makes sense to call this a tour.

This tour started in Treasure Island, FL. We had gathered at Pat’s house with a group of friends to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, a wedding and the beginning of summer. Any excuse for a gathering of this group of friends is always welcome. Pat and the newly weds, Diane and Paul, planned for us to kayak on Saturday afternoon and to watch the sunset from Pat’s dock while Paul barbecued Lobster kabobs for dinner. We weren’t sure about the kayaking, but we were real sure about the lobster.

We drove into the driveway, opened the doors of our van and the pungent smell of dead fish crinkled our noses. The red tide had come to the Gulf coast and it was the worst case in many years. Multiple species of fish carcasses were floating with the drifting tide. Our plans for summertime fun on the water quickly changed to cooking, computer classes and music in Pat's mid-century beach bungalow.

The next morning, as a group of us were concocting huevos rancheros with chunks of lobster left over from the night before, Roger entertained the chefs with music. He started playing, “The Trees Are All Gone” (BACK FROM RIO). The song seemed very appropriate and his acoustic version had us clapping and dancing. It was added to the set list for this tour.

The breakfast conversation included talk about the July 4th holiday. I started wondering why in the world did we say yes to two dates on the busiest Fourth of July weekend in ten years. Then I remembered. The July 3 date was with Donovan, a dear friend whom we haven’t seen in years, and the July 2 date was in Maine, a place we like to visit. Strangely, Maine was having a problem with red tide too.

After breakfast, I jumped into the driver’s seat of our van and Roger manned the GPS station. We have three GPS units for the van. THREE! Yes and that is another story. Anyway, we named the driver’s GPS, Nancy as in Nancy Drew, because Nancy Drew was a sleuth who found things. We had to name the units, because they often gave us different directions and we needed an easy way to differentiate between them, plus things just work better when they have a name.

We love to drive the roads of America, but sometimes the interstate highways get filled with crazy drivers. Our song “Southbound 95” (LIMITED EDITION) describes some of those driver’s antics. We decided that since this was predicted to be one of the busiest road weekends of the year that we would let the gang of GPS units take us off the major highways. We wanted to see how much I-95 we could avoid.

From Tampa we connected to I-75. Around Ocala we caught route 301 and cut diagonally to I-95 north of Jacksonville, FL. We had a late start, so around 5pm we spotted a hotel from the highway in Brunswick, GA at exit 38. When we are touring, we “wing it” when it comes to hotels, unless it is a concert night. There was a time when our favorite hotels were those with 24-hour room service; now it is those with free high speed Internet access. The Brunswick Fairfield Inn fit the bill. The other thing we look for when we are winging it is a good restaurant. Since we had spent the last two days eating, we weren’t sure we would be hungry, so the restaurant wasn’t a high priority.

The Fairfield had a room and there was a Holiday Inn next door with a restaurant,The Brunswick Millhouse. We didn’t have high expectations of the restaurant, but a small salad would probable fill our requirements. As we were guided to our table we both noticed something very different about this hotel restaurant. There were lots of servers in the rather classy attire of black pants, white shirts and short draped aprons. The hostess handed us our menus and the wine list. This was not a highway restaurant. The wine list had Far Niente and Sonoma Cutrer. All of a sudden, we were hungry and The Brunswick Millhouse restaurant satisfied our appetites. The crab cakes were delicious.

Over dinner we discussed the next days adventure and decided to make it official, we were getting off I-95 for the rest of the trip.

We left I-95 at the exit to Beaufort and Charleston, SC. I was born in Beaufort and we oftened stopped there, but today we decide to keep going. I always drive the first hundred mile shift. Sometimes when I’m on the back roads, I can’t bring myself to give up the wheel. This was one of those days. I loved driving through the tree lined, two lane roads between Beaufort and Charleston. Memories of driving to Charleston to be on the “Cowboy Bob Show" for my fourth birthday came flooding back. Crossing the big bridge in Charleston kept me at the wheel. Our stomachs were growling to be fed. I wanted some seafood that tasted of the sea, just like I used to eat when my family went shrimping and crabbing on the Carolina beaches in 1955. I wasn’t stopping until I found it! 235 miles later, I pulled into the Lands End Restaurant in Georgetown, SC. It was located on the south side of a bridge with a boat marina to gaze upon. The seafood tasted of the sea.

New Bern, NC was our stop for the night. We found a hotel that had a room with a view of the water. We searched for a restaurant but we could find only one open because it was Monday night. We walked past a crowd of people waiting for a table at the only hope for food and decided to just explore the quaint streets of New Bern. We’d had a big lunch, so we weren’t hungry and after an hour of walking, we returned to our room with a view and had a picnic of almonds, cheese, fruit and wine. Our table that night was the best in town.

Tuesday morning we awoke early and headed to Edenton, NC. We arrived just in time for lunch. This charming town on the water was a favorite stop of ours and we were happy to see the Watermans Grill open and serving. We had stopped at this wayside feeding place years ago and had climbed up a spiral staircase in the restaurant to watch the sunset from the roof. I asked if the rooftop entry was still open, but the hostess told us that the owners had to stop allowing people up there because of the danger of someone slipping on the stairs. Ah... the joys of a litigious society.

Over lunch, we decided to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and see if we could make it to Lewes for the ferry to Cape May. We didn’t know the ferry schedule, but just the adventure of trying to make the last ferry to Cape May added an element of excitement to our journey across the Chesapeake Bay.