Country western Bartok

Country western Bartok

I never expected to find metrical complexity in a country and western hit, but here we are.

“Ring of Fire”. Our old uke group used to play this a bit, in the arrangement in Beloff’s Daily Ukulele book, which has this odd 2/4 measure in the middle of it. But I’ve been thinking there was something wrong with that and I went and listened carefully to Johnny Cash’s performance.


There’s this quasi-Mariachi trumpet figure alternating with the four beat long vocal phrases in the first three lines of the verses. In Beloff’s arrangement it’s just replaced by four beats of strumming, but actually the trumpet figure is seven beats long. And the fourth line in the first verse is a three beat beat vocal phrase followed by four beats rhythm. That’s Beloff’s 2/4 measure (1/2 if you beat slower) so that’s accurate.

Except that in the second verse the third vocal phrase is three beats long while the fourth is four beats, whereas Beloff writes it as a repeat so the same rhythm as the first verse.

First verse metrical pattern:Second verse:

(The chorus, by contrast, is simple four-beat vocal phrases.)

No wonder it seemed wrong… it was too normal.



Uke summer

Uke summer

Because the last post tagged “ukulele” was from three months ago.

At that point Salt City Ukulele was about to start rehearsals for this year’s Ukulele and Ice Cream Therapy tour. We had just finished teaching six weekly lessons to over a dozen beginners. Many of them stuck around for the tour and did a stellar job. Seven ice cream stands in seven weeks, playing some of the songs we’ve played (almost) every summer since 2012 and some new ones. Our rendition of “Proud Mary” was leaps and bounds ahead of anything we’ve done before, I thought.

Some of those beginners will be moving on to Uke 102 in a couple weeks, and we’re taking registrations for new beginners to take our Uke 101 course. Our experienced players will be doing a local gig on October 19, and we’re hoping to play at the Plowshares Craft Festival in December.

Meanwhile SyraUke had a summer of slightly more irregular than usual jams, and a couple of public appearances. We played at the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival in July, and today we entertained customers at Whelen’s Pub at the New York State Fair, with owner Tom Whelen himself sitting in.More than a third of those present also play with SCU, so, yeah, it gets a little incestuous, but that’s okay. They’re still quite different organizations, and that’s good.



What kind of college has its first day of classes on the same day as a total solar eclipse? I don’t think I’ll drive to Nebraska after all.

Look, I get that a total eclipse is a spectacular thing to see, but college or no college, this is Nebraska we’re talking about. (Yeah, or any of several other states, but not much of an improvement over NE, and the closer ones are more likely to be cloudy anyway.)

Besides which, all I have to do is stay alive and well and living in Syracuse another seven years, and guess what:

April 2024. In Syracuse (or, better, Rochester) it’ll be cloudy, pouring rain, and cold. Perfect.


100 more

One hundred years ago, on August 1, 1917 (four months after Ken Holmes), Norma Augusta Hanson was born.

Norma Hanson (undated)

She was born on her grandparents’ farm near the line between Chatham and Brainard, New York and grew up in Nassau, NY, near Albany. She was the first of three children of Peter Robert Hanson and Bertha Letitia Currier Hanson.

Bertha, Norma, and Peter Hanson (undated)

In 1940 she married Kenneth Holmes.

Norma and Kenneth Holmes, June 23, 1940

During World War II she served in the Coast Guard.

Norma Holmes, about 1944

After the war she and Ken had three kids.

Pat Wells, Richard Holmes, Janet Holmes, 1980

They lived in the Boston, Massachusetts area and moved to Syracuse, New York; after Ken retired they moved to North Carolina.

(clockwise) Norma Holmes, Janet Peters, Laura Peters, Bertha Hanson, 1988

Later Norma moved to Houston, Texas.

She died in 2012. I miss her too.


A person with two watches is never sure (part 2)

A person with two watches is never sure (part 2)

Another Cycle in the City ride today, and once more I rode it with three apps running: MapMyRide, RideWithGPS, and Strava.

I’ve decided I pretty much have no use for MapMyRide. I’m tired of its shoving UnderArmour ads at me, and I’m unimpressed with the graphs and statistics that count all time, not just moving time, in the speed average and that insist my speed never drops below 5 MPH even when I’m stopped. In the below screen grab I stopped for about four minutes on Comstock, around 00:25:00, but it shows my speed near constant at 10 MPH at that time.

RideWithGPS turns out to have its own wonkiness, though. I’ve noticed it dealing ungracefully with GPS dropouts. Today there was a whopper:You notice the speed plot (black line, bottom) does show my stop on Comstock, but, no, I did not teleport from E Colvin into the Manley South Lot and back to Colvin again (mapped route), and I’m pretty sure I did not shoot up to a speed of 60 MPH (speed plot).

Strava says:The GPS dropout is evident in the useless power curve (black line, bottom) where it suddenly becomes a smooth straight line, but aside from a small speed glitch at the end of the dropout the mapped route and the speed plot (blue line) at that point seem plausible. Of course, a little earlier, during my stop on Comstock, it shows me traveling a few hundred feet at zero MPH. Still as far as GPS data handling goes, I’d say Strava’s the clear winner.


A weekend

A weekend

Kenny gave me a great Father’s Day gift yesterday:He has had to struggle with school — right from kindergarten. Not with learning, but with doing assignments. He’s a very smart kid, but he’s not a straight A student. Far from it. There has been a lot of frustration these past thirteen years. But he’s gotten through it, and he’s on his way to college this fall.

So we celebrated. Yesterday, dessert firstand dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Today, graduation/Father’s Day weekend continued with Guardians of the Galaxy. Also he bought himself a PS4, and I went on a 19 mile bike ride. We have some things in common, but not everything.

A person with two watches is never sure

When I got my bike back in 2012 I took a look at several bicycling apps for Android, and settled after a while on Strava. Lately I decided to take another look at MapMyRide, and then added RideWithGPS to the mix. On today’s Cycle in the City ride I had all three running simultaneously.

I’m using the free plans on Strava and MapMyRide. On RideWithGPS I signed up for the $6/month (or $50/year) Basic plan, because it’s required to print maps and cue sheets.

On Strava you don’t have to pay for that, but you fail to get what you don’t pay for: at least if I click “Print” on a saved route the result is a tiny and pretty unusable map, and a not very well laid out cue sheet.

On MapMyRide you have to have their MVP membership ($6/month, or $30/year) to print a route, and I don’t.

I like the printed maps and cue sheets a lot better on RideWithGPS than Strava. Maps are full page, and the cue sheets are laid out in columns with step numbers, cumulative distances, and graphical turn directions:Also, there are lots of options to configure the cue sheets. (I found they layout better with 11 point instead of 12 point font.)

The Basic plan on RideWithGPS also gives you some more useful features, like turn by turn text-to-speech navigation and offline maps; is either available in Strava or MapMyRide? I don’t think so? There’s a Premium plan also, not of much interest to me.

Strava seems aimed more at people who want to make bicycling as hard on themselves as possible. They have a Premium plan described as “Premium is for the athlete who squeezes every drop out of their sport.” It doesn’t appeal to me either. Similarly for MapMyRide’s MVP plan: printed maps and cue sheets are the one thing I wish were free.

For today’s ride, the three ride reports are at, and

Here’s some good news: They all agree I rode 19.2 miles. (19.18 per MapMyRide.) Less agreement on time: Strava says 2:18:11 elapsed, 1:51:30 moving. MapMyRide just says 2:19:18. RideWithGPS: 2:17:47 total, 1:46:28 moving. I guess there might really have been a difference of a minute and a half between stop and start times for the three. The five minutes difference in moving time is presumably different criteria for “moving”. MapMyRide doesn’t consider moving time at all, though, so it included about eight minutes of waiting to go at the start of the ride, as a result of which it reports an average speed of 8.3 MPH. Strava and RideWithGPS average only over moving time, and get 10.3 and 10.8 MPH respectively.

In fact MapMyRide doesn’t seem to acknowledge the possibility of stopping at all. Here’s the graph of speed and elevation versus time:

Notice it has me essentially stationary for about eight minutes… but descending about 30 feet. (Not that I noticed.) After that, it says I never stopped. On the other hand, RideWithGPS shows speed and elevation versus distance (not time) like this:and Strava like this:Strava throws in a uselessly  noisy graph of power too.

All three let you create ride routes, but Strava doesn’t seem to allow you to search routes created by other people — you can look at their rides, yes, but not their routes.

There are advantages to each, but at the moment I’m thinking I like RideWithGPS best, at least with the Basic plan turned on for the printed maps and cue sheets and the audible navigation. Are those actually worth $6 a month? The were today when I was leading a Cycle in the City ride. I’m not so sure about otherwise. I’ll tell you this: $6 a month is $36 or $42 during the six or seven months per year I’m likely to ride, so $50 a year is no bargain. If I stick with the paid plan it’ll be per month and cancel in the fall.


#MoonWalk Day 1, 2.3 km

#MoonWalk Day 1, 2.3 km

Walking in Space

Well, that was fun. Where should I walk next?

Well, where should humanity walk next? Mars exploration is great, but I’ve never been less than hostile to the idea that we shouldn’t go back to the Moon because “we’ve been there”. There’s all sorts of ways to argue that’s shortsighted, but let’s just point out the Moon’s surface area is 37.9 million square kilometers. That’s just a little smaller than the continent of Asia. If you wanted to thoroughly understand Asia, would you send twelve men there to spend a total of a couple days each? Fortunately even if the US doesn’t want to return to the Moon, there seems to be good enthusiasm on the parts of Europe and China.

So I think I’ll go for a #MoonWalk.

But let’s make this more ambitious than the #MarsWalk. My plan is a closed route visiting every object that has soft landed…

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#MarsWalk DONE

Walking in Space

You know that projected completion on June 14? Forget it. I decided to cover it all today on the bike.

First of all, where’s Curiosity? Good question. In Google Mars’s Mars Gallery there’s a marker for Curiosity and a traverse path, but besides being out of date it’s offset with respect to this path by Nogal at And there’s a HiRISE/CTX Overlay Map which is offset in the opposite sense from the global Visible Imagery layer. Nogal’s path seems more compatible with the Overlay Map than any other combination, so I’ll take those as correct. And Curiosity’s moved since Sol 1711, the last on Nogal’s path, but Phil Stooke shows the position as of Sol 1720. It’s moved a few meters since then, but close enough.

I was about 20.4 km from Curiosity, so I went on and drew up a route of that length.

(Yeah, MapMyRide…

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#MarsWalk Streams inside out

Walking in Space

Day 520, 3044.9 km. No bike today. 5 km worth of college registration and yard work.

A closer look near me:

There’s something that looks like a couple of stream channels, except they’re above the surrounding terrain, not below it. The explanation is that after drying up, the stream beds were more resistant to erosion than the stuff around it.

I’m near the north end of this HiRISE image, and will be going almost straight down the middle of it the next couple days.

99.3%, projected arrival at Curiosity June 14.

MarsWalk spreadsheet

MarsWalk kmz file (for Google Earth — View >> Explore >> Mars)

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