Virtual Banjo Lessons

This goes right along with the two banjo ebooks I wrote about earlier. The authors of those books are offering virtual banjo lessons in mp3 format. There’s a catch however (from their Plunkthumping website):

“The catch here is that after the each workshop goes online we will not post the next one until at least five people send us audio files of themselves playing the “homework” assigned at the end of each lesson.”

Here’s the website:

Virtual Frailing Banjo Lessons

Rather interesting idea. I don’t have a banjo handy, but if anyone tries these lessons out, please leave a comment.

Stars & Stripes Forever

Anyone know who Bill Tapia is? I didn’t until today. He is a long time folk singer. His instrument of choice is the ukulele. I came across an mp3 file today of a live performance he did of Stars & Stripes Forever (control-click or right-click the following link to save to your disk):

Bill Tapia: Stars & Stripes Forever

And if you’re interested in knowing more about Mr. Tapia and his music, you can visit his website.

Sandra Day O’Connor leaving Supreme Court

It’s been quite a week of news for the Supreme Court. From about 10a Eastern:

“Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and a key swing vote on issues such as abortion and the death penalty, said today she is retiring. O’Connor, 75, said she will leave before the start of the court’s next term in October, or when the Senate confirms her successor. “It has been a great privilege indeed to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms,” O’Connor wrote in her resignation letter.” – Sandra Day O’Connor leaving Supreme Court – Jul 1, 2005

She was a desenting voice in the recent eminent domain decision and had written a very critical response to the decision.

Free banjo ebooks

Taken from

“Patrick Costello has recently released two of his popular old-time banjo books under a Creative Commons license, allowing them to be distributed freely on the Internet. These books are outstanding resources for all beginning banjo players and the online versions are completely FREE.”

Banjo ebooks

I thought Justin and all you other aspiring banjo players might enjoy this.

With Liberty and Justice for…

… Rich, private, corporations and their interests. That’s who mostly won this week with the three most recent Supreme Court Decisions. To be truthful, two of the three decisions progressed the interests of the wealthy corporations. In my opinion, it was not a stellar week for the US Supreme Court.

Before I get started, remember, I’m not a legal expert. So the accuracy of my conjectures may not be 100%.

I’ll start with the ruling that deals with the public display of the Ten Commandments. I can see why the court made the ruling it did, and I’m not really for or against the ruling itself. It’s just another example of how far away from God this country continues to slip. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the religious beliefs of the founding fathers played a big part in how they shaped our government. The last time I checked, our national motto was, “In God we trust”. You can read about this specific ruling here:

High court split on Ten Commandments (CNN)

The next ruling had to do with file sharing and whether an ISP or producers of file sharing software can be held liable for any copyright infringement that may occur by the users of their networks or software. In what was not all that much of a surprise to me, the court ruled in favor the big corporations and media conglomerates, basically saying that yes, they can sue the ISP and/or the software producers if someone misuses their network or software. I guess the RIAA got tired of settling measly $3,000 suites with 13 year olds. They now want permission to go after the big guns. Maybe this was an example of a court that is “out of touch” with some of the modern concerns of this century.

File-sharing services can be liable for music theft (CNN)

Now to the biggest travesty of all the decisions to spew out of the court this week. This is the one I totally disagree with. And I’m not too far off from most of the country as people from both sides of the political line are equally as stumped and worried about the ramifications of this decision. The decision has to do eminent domain. Government has the right to take private property if the acquisition of the property is clearly for the benefit of the “public”. Well, there is no clear benefit to the public in this case as it looks like the major benefactor of this decision is a PRIVATE pharmaceutical company.

Supreme Court backs municipal land grabs (CNN)

My thoughts and fears are best summed up by the following article:

“Hi, I like your view, so I’m taking your house”

My hope at this point is that all my friends that just graduated from the UM law school eventually have a hand in putting this country back together.

Finally… some relief!

Holy smokes. It looks like we’ll finally be able to sleep upstairs in our own bed tonight. It has been scorching around A2 the past several days. It was nice leaving work this afternoon, it was not yet 80, as opposed to nasty mid 90s with 90%+ humidity. Right now it’s a very manageable and mostly cloudy 83. Nice that it cooled down today also, as we have to go out this evening for Nick’s t-ball game. Last week it got rained out.

And speaking of rain, you know how bad things get when it’s 95, 90% humidity, and then it decides to rain? Might as well pour boiling water over your head. It sure doesn’t do anything towards cooling things down that’s for sure.

When it gets real hot and humid, we usually have to sleep downstairs. The air conditioner is in the front room and it does a good job of keeping the living room and the kitchen cool. The kids rooms don’t ever seem to get hot, even when we didn’t have the air conditioner. Here’s the catch… If we want the living room to be cooler, we have to close the windows upstairs, and our only means of cooling the upstairs is two windows and a fan. When we keep the windows closed upstairs, it gets extremely bad. So much so that it often doesn’t ever cool down at all overnight. Not only is our room upstairs, but the office is upstairs also. Becky can usually only work until around noon, then it just gets too unbearable up there.

Anyway, we haven’t been kicked out of the upstairs yet today (it’s almost 4pm here) so that bodes well for actually sleeping in our own bed tonight. And it was nice to give the AC a little rest this morning as it seems like the thing’s been running for 40 days and nights. I don’t think we’ve had a summer this bad since we’ve been out here, and definitely not in the last 2 years. It’s usually this bad a few days in August, and even less in September, but it’s never been this bad this early since we’ve been here. The rest of the week looks similar to today though. Whew! Can’t wait for Friday to get here when the forecast high for that day is 79 right now. Of course, Becky thinks that would be a great opportunity to clean out the shed. Nnnnnooooooooo. :(

Honda eco game

Honda UK is hosting an interesting neat little Flash game where as a bunny you go around collecting carrots and trying to improve the environment by transforming junk into better things. All you have to do to tranform the junk is try and move onto the space the item occupies. Improving your environment gets you a time bonus. Even so, I couldn’t do a lot with the given amount of time. Link follows, enjoy…

Honda (UK)

On more thing, give it some time to load. The pop-up window for the game will stay blank for quite a while. So long that I thought the game wasn’t be hosted anymore and closed the window. Give it time, you’ll eventually get a loading screen.

Welcome Home Josh!

In just about 4 hours, Josh will be touching down at Sky Harbor Int. in Phoenix. Congratulations on completing 25 months of service in Paraguay as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We’ve missed you and we’re glad your coming home.

You can check out his adventures over in his section of the main Sun Eagle site (link is also to the right). And yes, I’ll be sure to continue working on getting the sections archived that I haven’t got to yet (mostly 2003).

So welcome home! Be sure to catch the Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man 2 (maybe the first one also, can’t remember if you were home or not for that one), and Star Wars Episode III. Let’s see how long it takes him to start talking “normal” English again.