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For the APE in all of us

I was grateful for the opportunity to beta review this great new publication when it was in preparation, and Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have done a wonderful service to those who wish to enter the world of self-publishing. The inclusion of so many helpful links and practical advice delivered with a sense of humor and sage language does a great service, and I will be referring to this book regularly when moving to the next step of my own project–a family history of 15 or so generations. An excellent electronic edition will prove invaluable and it’s a great value at less than $10. Well worth more than its digital weight.

The book has been updated to version 1.1, and is on sale at Amazon for a limited time.

Posted in Booknotes, Community Musings, Main.

New Bicycle Law Guidebook released

Ray Thomas of the Portland law firm Swanson, Thomas, Coon and Newton has published an updated handbook of Oregon bicycling law.

Go to:

A great resource.

Posted in Community Musings, Main, Personal.

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The ‘problem’ of social networking

It seems we have a host of “solutions” to electronic networking–from Facebook to LinkedIn to Google+ to GovLoop (not to mention Pinterest, Yammer, Scibd, the still active Google and Yahoo groups and MySpace, group “texting” and others).  What is common to all?

People try to connect with each other. But no one set up fits everyone. We’re all busy, so what do we do? No one social network is designed to meet everyone’s needs.  I decided, for example, to pay for a photo sharing site rather than use “free” sites because I can control how it is used better, and because I have lots of photos to share with “family” but also have some groups of professionals and other extended family members who don’t need to have access to all my photos, but like to see some of them.

Similarly, I have postings for Facebook (including family/friend/professional group members for those whose only social network is FB), Google+ and its many circles, LinkedIn (mostly my professional contacts with a few family members who joined it for professional reasons only, such as both of my sons who are private sector professionals in property appraisal and accounting), GovLoop (another professional social network for government professionals and those who deal with governmental performance issues, including many in the private sector). And I use group settings for each of these.  I use Scribd to share documents just as I use Phanfare to share photos.  And WordPress blogs such as this and for family and professional associations.

I wish there was an umbrella software solution to cross-post to each of my social network applications (including those I haven’t imagined yet).  I haven’t found one that is so all-encompassing that I can use it for all these apps I mentioned above, though I have used. So I’ve given up…I just try to connect in as many ways as possible, using any device such as my work (though government generally hasn’t got it that people communicate how they want to and will find ways to do it despite, so they block employees from using Facebook on a work PC, even for professional purposes), my home PC, my Android telephone, and iPad and a Color Nook tricked as an Android tablet (I know, why do I continue this since I can do as much with my iPad?)

Anybody out there with a solution? If so, I’d love to hear about it.  Comment, share or e-mail me at

Posted in Community Musings, Main.

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Weaverville Joss House Remains Open – An Update

In an earlier post [], I suggested folks visit the oldest Chinese temple in the country while it was still open. At that time, the California State Park’s system had published a list of 70 sites that would be closed due to funding cutbacks.

Due to extraordinary efforts to raise funds for California parks, the right to visit Weaverville’s Joss House appears to have been saved–at least for another year. The Weaverville Joss House Association reports it has signed a three-year agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to keep the site open to visitors, with the funds raised for year 1 of the three-year agreement.


Posted in Interesting Places, Main.

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Enjoying a High Quality Digital Music Library

I have owned many music players over the 50 or so years that I have been buying records, tapes and then CDs. I no longer have any records, my few remaining cassette tapes have been consigned to a box in storage in the garage, and I have replaced almost everything track or album ever owned with a CD or a directly purchased download from Apple or other sources. When music players would only hold so much music, I converted tracks to MP3 format and sent them to various music players over USB cables, sometimes directly and sometimes using iTunes. I have owned more than 10 portable devices over the years, including a player once holding a whopping 20 MB of  MP3 files and an iPod classic holding 160 GB of files (a 30 GB version sits in my office at work hooked to a Radio Shack amplifier/speakers).

As hard drive capacities went up and prices down, I couldn’t resist exploring alternatives. Simply put, although many believe most humans can’t hear the difference between a 3MB track saved as an MP3 file and one ripped to a different—and lossless—format with vastly larger file size, my experience says otherwise. There’s something about the ambient quality of the music when played back using a computer with a decent sound card and sent through a mostly priced stereo speakers (not ones designed for computers though the quality of some brands has dramatically improved).

So last year, I spent many evenings re-ripping my CD collection and saving the files in FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format; Apple has its own lossless format, so I could have used that, but chose not to. Having read many reviews about error recovery from often-played CDs (even though my collection is relatively pristine), I decided to use the dBpoweramp software suite to recreate digital tracks in my music library, and I use MediaMonkey as my music manager of choice (though I still use iTunes to store/sync tracks on my iPods and iPad).  Because I use network storage at home, I can also play the music from my desktop PC, another one my grandkids use, or my laptop (equipped with an add-on headphone amplifier that connects via USB).

Using an application called Audiogalaxy, as long as I am in range of a wi-fi network (you can do it over a 3G cellular connection but the speed is generally too slow) I can also play music from my library on my Android phone, on a Color Nook converted to an Android tablet, and on my iPad.  My music, my way, as they say.

Having accomplished the goal to play high quality tracks on my portable devices, I decided one more change was in order. I bought a new sound card for my desktop PC (bypassing the motherboard’s built-in sound card that uses Realtek drivers that many music enthusiasts and most audiophiles find simply unsatisfactory).  The modestly priced Juli@ card’s installation took less than 5 minutes, and another 3 to install the software drivers. Initially, I sent the output through two RCA jacks (via an adapter) to a Logitech 5.1 computer speaker system that has relatively good sound reproduction capabilities. But a better solution was to connect the card to an older (and faithfully used) Pioneer receiver driving two Polk Audio bookshelf speakers. I am very satisfied with the sound, which rivals a higher end stereo sound system.

Here are links to the resources used in this project if you want to explore as I did:

iTunes –


dBpoweramp –

MediaMonkey –

Audiogalaxy –

Juli@ –


Posted in Computer Interests, Main, Music.

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Technology Advice

Many of my online relatives and friends have occasionally sent me e-mails asking questions about technology, which I use to accomplish things related to my personal interests, including photography, music, and family history. “Please share what you know so the rest of us can benefit from your knowledge and experience,” wrote one recently.

There are many who know way more than I do about these programs or devices (you know the old saying about the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys), but I’m willing to post occasionally about my experiences for those interested. If this helps even one person, it will be worth doing.

My next post will describe the conversion of a CD music collection to digital storage with output to rival a serious stereo system.

Posted in Computer Interests, Main, Music.

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Comments on Blog Posts

I welcome comments from “real people” on any of my blog posts, but you have to be registered to comment.  And I take security seriously so fake names, phony e-mails and obviously malicious web bots attempting to register don’t make it, and spammers are not welcome here.

Posted in Community Musings, Computer Interests, Main, Web Site News.

Oakland Style BBQ Sauce

Some time back, I pledged to post my recipe for Oakland-style BBQ sauce.  With commentary, here is my recipe in a downloadable PDF file

Posted in Main, Personal.

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Table Rocks north of Medford

This post is  a re-creation of a page on an older web site.

Two rock formations a few miles north of Medford comprise some of the most interesting geological and scenic views in Bear Creek Valley. The rocks are named for their relationship to the Rogue River just to the south of the formations, Upper Table Rock being upstream (to the east) of Lower Table Rock.  Although there is some uncertainty about the exact date, a basalt lava flow about 9.6 million years ago flowed along an ancient meandering river canyon, depositing a 100-foot layer of basalt over the sandstone and gravel of the Bear Creek valley. This formation is officially known as the Payne Cliff formation.  Erosion around the two table rocks left them standing approximately 800 feet above the valley floor, with Upper Rock officially at elevation 2,091′ and Lower Rock at 2,049′. Viewed from the air, the U-shape of Upper Rock shows the ancient meandering river canyon.

Upper Table Rock

Upper Table Rock

The Upper Table Rock trail is approximately 1.25 miles in length, beginning about 150′ higher on the rock formation than the 1.75-mile trail on Lower Table Rock.  There is evidence of further geologic uplifting movement between the two rocks. Upper Rock is tilted approximately 1 degree to the southeast, and Lower Rock is tilted 1 degree to the southwest.

Lower Table Rock

Native Takelma Indians who lived nearby called the environs “Titankah”–“Little Indian plums” and referred to the rock areas as “Di’tani”–“rock above.” Lower Rock had a airplane landing strip, which was closed in 1990 for liability reasons, and Upper Table Rock has a Very High Frequency Omni-Directional radio compass operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (not open to the public).

Dwarf wooly meadow foam

Dwarf wooly meadow-foam

Wildflowers bloom in abundance during the spring on the Table Rocks. Among the rarest is Limnanthes floccosa ssp.pumila, commonly known as Dwarf Wooly Meadow-foam.  This five-petal white annual blooms for a 10-day period in March/April. The picture above was taken on Lower Table Rock on April 21, 2002. This flower is listed on the State of Oregon’s list of threatened plants because it grows only in vernal pool areas on the tops of the two Table Rocks and nowhere else in the world. It is considered to be very endangered.

In February 2009, I took a panoramic Gigapan picture of Lower Rock, which may be viewed at the following location:

Posted in Digital Photography, Interesting Places, Main.

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California Discovered

In the process of re-creating another post from my old web site–this one on an interesting point of view on the discovery of California by European explorers as opposed to the native population who were then present–I concluded the material was too long for a regular blog posting.

So, I turned the material into a downloadable document [filename: California Discovered.PDF]. The document is also available here. Feel free to share it with others, and you may re-post it as long as you credit me as the compiler.


Posted in Booknotes, Interesting Places, Main, Mapping.

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