Twelve Days of Christmas

One thing leads to another. What began at 4 am as a stout resolution to finish an online defensive driving class, I am not sure how, ended up in this post.

A price check on Listerine led to the discovery of Mental Floss, the magazine, whose resent issue had a brilliant article on what exactly are the twelve days of Christmas (and no it does not start on Day 25 – 12) and onward to this awesome version from Straight No Chasers, which has been a favorite of mine for a number of years now. A true testament of what amazing things the human collective can do.

 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year was beautiful. We went to the astonishingly beautiful Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, a church built around 1852 and since restored with love and grace. Amazing murals of Christ on the road to Crucification bring tears to one’s eyes. The carols were wonderful, prayers solemn.

Santa made his regular trip to our house with presents for all, including little Ronnie, who has for the last few days been a bit more manageable as he is starts to understand the concept this magic man called ‘Santa’ bringing presents is a consequence of good behavior. We will see how many years this lasts.

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Many people ask me, sometimes myself included, if I am a Christian. The answer is somewhat complicated. I was born in a Hindu household, to atheist parents. I do not even know what it means to be Christian. In all fairness, however, I know my Bible quite well, (yes sire, I know my Abraham from my Isaac) thanks to priviliged education in a Catholic School in Calcutta. It is such a good thing that you do not have to be of a religion to like and love the beautiful things religion has to offer.

One thing that struck me this year, was while I was listening to NPR on the way to some last minute Christmas shopping. The famous Christmas Eve service at King’s College in London was on the radio. The host offered a reflection, in context of the severe refugee crisis all across the world,  that Jesus himself was a refugee, the son of two people fleeing persecution.

This year, King’s College commissioned this special sermon so that this important truth is not lost on Man, written by George Szirtes, himself a refugee.

The child on the dirtpath
finds the highway blocked
The dogs at the entrance snarl
that doors are locked
The great god of kindness has his kindness mocked

May those who travel light
Find shelter on the flight
May Bethlehem
Give rest to them.

The sea is a graveyard
the beach is dry bones
the child at the station
is pelted with stones
the cop stands impassive
the ambulance drones

We sleep then awaken
we rest on the way
our sleep might be troubled
but hope is our day
we move on for ever
like children astray

We move on for ever
our feet leave no mark
you won’t hear our voices
once we’re in the dark
but here is our fire this child is our spark.

 

A Christmas Miracle

Excuses change nothing, but they make everyone feel better.
Mason Cooley

Captain’s log. Stardate – Day before Christmas. Let me make everyone feel better by offering an excuse.

The reason – the principal reason – why I seldom write blogs has been the lack of a good, free blogging software on the Mac OS X platform. Which I found really weird because, wait – isn’t the Mac supposed to be the computer that gave rise to the blogger generation ?

The ubercool people of the early 2000-s, the teeming masses, whose pictures you might catch at any software conference, or unconference for that matter, with temp2.pngtheir face glued onto the glowing screen of a laptop – which by the way you see nothing of – all you see is beautiful brushed aluminium screen with the white fluorescent logo of a half (well, technically less than half) bitten apple. Which begs the enquiry, exactly how much portions of that apple did the snake, Eve and Adam have, but that’s a teacup storm for another day.

Believe me, I have tried everything. ScribeFire, Ecto, Mars Edit, Blogo, free trials of goodies on the App Store that sell for $29.99 – nothing would ease my burn. Pretty useless, when you compare with Live Writer. The only thing which would come close is the web interface of the WordPress site itself – but I wanted a desktop client.

I currently blog only on WordPress, with at least one public and a non-negative number of private journals, so even just a desktop version of the WordPress web client would suffice, I thought to myself. (Did I say I hate using web clients ?).

When I got up today morning, I felt the urge to write something on my blog. I was not sure of quite what, but the urge was there. And I thought I’d tweet,

One thing I’d wish Santa would bring me is a Live Writer equivalent on the Mac.

I know that the real Santa does not hover on twitter and the real Santa has no sackspace for 40 year old males. So, I started to hunt, a hunt that I have been on many times before, with consistent & predictbly futile results – the hunt for a good blogging software on the Mac.

I did what all good boys do. Fired up my Chrome browser and googled away, “mac live writer wordpress”. 

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The second link caught my attention, partly because it was new but more importantly because the grinch in me saw the evident discrepancy between the numbers 10 & 5 in the title and URL. I clicked (and sniggered) anyway, in retrospect – it seems like destiny.

Bwcause I discovered this jem, the WordPress App for Mac.

As I downloaded and opened the app, I was shocked beyond belief. The User Interface is pristine, it automatically recognized my blog themes and all I had to do was just type away to glory. I could not believe myself. Did I just stumble upon (no pun intended) something that I have been waiting for years. Did my Christmas Miracle request just get granted ?

Wait now, it this Santa dude for real then ?

It’s that wonderful time of the year. When able bodied men and women make New Year resolutions that never see the light of February. So, I think I am going to be more active on my blog, regardless of the stats seem to indicate a single digit readership.

It’s just such a pleasure to write on this app. Cannot help being verbose. Now look at this — I could have said all this with a tweet.

Found a nice app for WordPress blogs on the Mac: <link>

This app creates a “zone”; beautiful fonts, fluid flow, zero distractions. A great environment for writers to, well, write. A few improvements would be the ability to put a border around an image (I put a <border> tag directly into the HTML), and ability to paste an image directly from the clipboard. And a built-in spellchecker, pretty puhleez ?

Above notwithstanding, this is hands down the blogging software I have used in a long time (read eternity) on the Mac. And I gather that there are Windows and Linux versions as well ! Leeeehnux !! Hey Scrooge, did I mention that this app is free ?

A Big Thank You to all the cool people at WordPress and esp., the gentleman whose blog came to my rescue, Harsh Agarwal.

 

 

 

 

After a gruelling week of work at San Ramon and red-eye flights, it was time to wind down with some wood-fired pizza and St. Pauli Girl and … BB King videos.

This one is not by B.B King but I think this is one of the finest versions of his tour de force “When love comes to town”. I think I like this even more than the U2 version from Rattle & Hum

And then there’s this one that always brings tears to my eyes. Just a few days after I came to Vermont, BB King was playing at the Flynn Theater. The tickets were not inexpensive (taking into account that I had not earned my first paycheck yet in the US), I decided to go. I knew BB would not be there for long. What a concert it was ! Esp. when you see the entire audience eating out of his hands on a lullaby. I lost the iPhone recordings from that concert, but I found another version on the web with BB & the amazingly humble Susan/Derek Tedeschi-Trucks duo.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my B.B. King Away

<Thanks Susan Tedeschi>