I am listening to Madeleine Peyroux's peerless CD, Careless Love, and wondering what went wrong last night at the Paramount Theatre in Denver. The studio versions of her music offer pure, birdlike jazz vocalizing in which her voice nearly disappears into itself, at the very edge of human sound, as far from speaking as you can imagine. But during the concert, Madeleine Peyroux seemed to be going through the motions, letting her songs fall out of the sky onto just another stage on just another stop on a long tour. Several songs into her set, a man from the audience yelled, "Turn it up!" and I knew what he was trying to say. I have fallen in love with the Careless Love CD, and my first thought was that there had to be something wrong with the sound system at the Paramout. Madeleine took the comment as a hit, calling the man "a heckler," and she returned to the incident later, showing it had shaken her. Maybe she knew she was missing the mark.

Another possibility is that her jazzy interpretations have simply evolved since she recorded Careless Love, her second CD after a highly regarded debut, Dreamland. By the end of the concert, I had almost let go of the recorded versions, and when she sang without her guitar I found myself dropping my critique, settling into the present. Her band was terrific, including two musicians from Denver, the trumpet player and the keyboardist. A young man from New York played a big double bass, and the drummer played his brushes with easy grace. It's also possible that my surly reaction to the concert might have had something to do with the headache that I had given myself yesterday by racing through the day multitasking to catch up from my trip.

In any event, Madeleine Peyroux got it celestially right at least once, and the results are safely preserved on the CD and on my Nano. In real life, she is off to her next concert, living large on the road compared with her urchin days as an American singing on the streets of Paris. In "This is Heaven to Me" she sings, "If you got your hands and got your feet, to sing your song all through the street, you raise your head when day is done, shout your thanks up to the sun."

Pink sunlight has arrived on the snowy mountains visible in the distance through my downtown windows. My bare feet are cold under my desk. My headache has retreated to a dull curtain. Let's see if I can avoid multitasking today and stick to getting just a few things right.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

12 Souvenirs of Camp Blog

1. Darren Barefoot's amazing tale of raising more than $14,000 in several days to buy flowers for gay couples waiting in line at San Francisco City Hall.

2. Darren's FAQ answer to the question Are you some kind of gay activist: "Despite my love of musicals, I'm straight and (what's more) Canadian. I do believe that any two people, regardless of gender or sexual preference, have the right to civil union."

3. Will Pate's Memory Map in Flickr, a GoogleEarth Map of his childhood haunts including tagged sites which he describes in pop-up notes. Of a certain park, the note says, "Park where I killed time when Dad was working and I was stuck at the office for too long. Neighborhood kids didn't like intruders, but never tried to run me out of their turf."

4. Many, many photos of Blogs n Dogs posted to Flickr here.

5. This list of people at 43people.com who, like me, would like to meet Bill Clinton.

6. A place called last.fm where I can join the social music revolution sometime.

7. A lively beercast with Sarah and others, hosted by Kris, on the topic of spirituality and the ADD/wired techno life.

8. Learning how "to delicious" a site on the web, to create, for example, this list of sites mentioned by various speakers at Blogs n Dogs.

9. Anticipation of Sachiko and Lee LeFever's upcoming year-long trip around the world, blogging all the way.

10. Talking very good French "for an American" with Robert Scales, hard-working impresario of Blogs n Dogs.

11. Roland Tanglao's very cool USB microphone, which zoomed to the top of my Christmas wish list.

12. The World According the Eric Rice of Silicon Valley, especially his vlog of the dogs.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Audio ruminations from Banff

I recorded minute and a half of spoken words about Blogs n Dogs experience just before checking out of the Banff Centre. Here is the upload from audiolog.com, which seems to have added a slight lisp to my presentation, but other than that the quality's okay:

And Then I Drank the Google Juice...

I thought I was coming to Blogs n Dogs to learn how to perfect my blog, and I did learn great tips for that. Authentic passion strikes me as the essential ingredient. If I write well about what drives me crazy with delight or any other emotion, including sometimes anger and indignation, then it won't matter what topics I address. This is a relief, since I had worried that I needed to corral my wildly eclectic interests into some kind of hierarchy and order. Instead, I leave Banff today with a Canadian license to blog on everything from Zen to XBox 360, French politics to puppy training, regional arts policy to Desperate Housewives, Emimen to Lord Byron, AA to Segways, poetry to porn. And I don't ever have to give a rat's ass about organized sports.

An even bigger payoff has been seeing how I and my little blog can connect to The New Web. The old web is a very large number of web sites that you can go to if you know their URLs. The New Web is more of a living being, with messages being sent like nerve pulses through the power of Really Simple Syndication, or RSS. Instead of just sitting there waiting for someone to click on them, web sites now can send blips all across the web when they are updated, so with a little setup work you can make the web organism bring anything you want to your screen, ready for you to read when you like. The New Web is also about new communities of interest and creative ways of finding your tribe. This part is still hazy to me, but I could sense it here in Banff. Like any good cult members, the people who have had their lives changed by the New Web are filled with purpose and connectedness. And the only juice we were invited to drink was Google Juice. If you have it, Google will find you and your blog more often than someone who is still drinking Kool-Aid.

You fill your cup with Google Juice by learning to how to operate spigots of the New Web such as Technorati, del.icio.us, Flickr, podcasting, the Creative Commons and 43 People, to name just a few. And then you pour in the magic ingredient: your own unique vision and voice. You don't have to wait for Hollywood or Random House to discover you. You discover yourself in the process of sharing yourself. Which, for artists and seekers of all times, has always been the royal road home.

Blog n Dog Tired

After three days of nonstop blog talk, blog dreams, blog confusion, and blog hobnobbing with bloggers of all stripes, from about-to-blog to been-blogging-so-long-it-looks-like-up-from-here, I'm water-blogged, over-blogged, and ready to chop wood for a week in a plaid shirt. Or something. It's almost midnight. Camp Blog is history, celebrated at an informal dinner at the Grizzly House, a Banff eatery featuring buffalo heads and a real motorcycle hanging from the walls, and phones by the tables so you could call fellow diners and say hi, have you seen my blog? Many photos were taken, and audio recorded, and some of it will find its way to the web by dawn, to be preserved somewhere until the end of time. I am blown away by the generosity of the faculty who donated their time to be here. I have enough new ideas to last me the next six months. Idea Number One: turn off this blasted screen and turn out the lights in Lloyd Hall room 4218. Blognight and blog luck...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The (Your Name Here) Show

When I think of one word to recall Eric Rice, it's "fluid." He moves from thought to thought, from image to image, like a stream babbling down through a glade. Yesterday evening he created a vlog, or video blog, before our eyes, using footage he had shot on the dogsled adventure. He used iMovie, which crashed halfway through, but this simply became another scene in Eric's presentation. He is turning his life into a show, and it's mesmorizing. For one thing, the show never ends. He moves fluidly from a formal presentation at the blogging conference to pitching his crack audioblog product, to holding forth in a low-key, endearing way on a couch later last night at the Props Pub on campus. Something came up about the logo on his site, and Eric explained how he had created it for the purpose of the site, practicing the letters over and over until he got the one he wanted. He's getting ready to be famous, is comfortable with his ego, and can type HTML code faster than anyone I've ever seen. I felt as if I were watching a magician. The result is a big file, but if you've got the bandwidth, check out Eric's video creation here.

Each of us can turn our lives into a show. All it takes is unstoppable curiosity about the star of the show, and the hard work of portraying that character perfectly, flaws and all. I have seen this in the great writers I met during my MFA program at Bennington College. The ones who managed to break out of the pack of wannabes had a fierceness and a fluidity to them, an ability to.... Well, I've run out of fancy ways to say this, and I'm running late for the next session here at Camp Blog, "Managing Your Public Life Online." I was so lit up with new ideas last night I didn't get to sleep until 2:30 so this is going to be a day to walk on eggshells and keep my mouth shut. The star of the Len Show usually muffs his lines the day after he's had four hours of sleep.

More Doggone Fun than a Blog

We bloggers went to the dogs today for the signature event of the Blogs n Dogs conference in Banff. It was a windless, sunny, 20-below perfect day for a sled ride. We bundled into sleds pulled by seven dogs each, expertly handled by the hands at Howling Dog Tours . I rode with Sachiko and Lee LeFever, who in several days will begin a year-long trip around the world, blogging all the way. Our driver was Jared Zayak, and our team of Alaskan Racing Huskies comprised Scoobie, Avalanche, Page, Blizzard, Pine, Tex, and Lily. They were smaller than I expected and looked more like pets than wolves. But they went nuts barking as they were snapped into their harnesses. As my formerly Alaskan friend Kes Woodward predicted, an eerie quiet descended as soon as Jared gave them the command to run. It wasn't "Mush," which disappointed me, more something like "Let's go!" But go they went.

I stood at the back of the sled with Jared (photo left taken by Lee) as our team pulled out of the starting area. I could see there was a sharp right turn at the start of the ride, and for some reason I thought the idea would be to swing out to the left, like you were leaning out on a sailboat when tacking to starboard. This turned out to be exactly the WRONG way to lean, with the result that our sled fell over onto the left side, giving me a sharp bump on the left hip. Jared calmly coached me on the leaning thing as he quickly righted the sled, with Lee and Sachi still aboard, nestled together (see photo at below right) for warmth and perhaps protection against future spills.

We mushed along a hard-beaten snowy road for maybe a half hour before parking the sleds near a lake. Our guides set out what had been advertised as gourmet snacks--
hot chocolate and Tupperware containers of cheese cubes, salmon pieces, beef jerky and some dried fruit. At room temperature we might have felt cranky about this interpretation of the word gourmet, but at 20 below zero it was truly a high feast in the woods.
As we prepared for the return sled ride, Lee asked if I wanted to ride under the blanket this time, and after my bumpy debut I was grateful for the offer, and I could tell he wanted to take a turn standing at the back and helping to push the sled up the hills. The fact that Lee made the offer indicated he had no problem with my riding in cuddly proximity to his wife, but in the event Sachi found it was, actually, more comfortable to sit upright as opposed to leaning back into the arms of a near stranger. As we settled into the situation, I offered the latest in dog-sled lumbar support by pressing my padded fists into her lower back for support.

My only real disappointment was technological. At the gourmet-snack break, I was delighted to find a few bars of cellphone signal, so I began uploading a podcast of barking Huskies to The Chronicles. Before I hit the final pound key, I saw the low-battery warning. When I returned to Lloyd Hall and checked the blog, there was actually an audio file. But it had one lousy bark at the beginning of it, followed by static and one incomprehensible word of my breathless reporting from beside the frozen lake.

Our gang was toting more than the average amount of media gear on the outing, and tonight Eric Rice is going to walk us through a video podcasting routine with whatever he captured on his extreme gear, which included a camera strapped to his head. There is also a pack of photos on Flickr. Try clicking on "View as Slideshow" to enjoy the ride. All around us were sky, trees and snowy peaks across the lake. Back at the campus, I soaked my hip in the Banff Centre's jacuzzi, and it's doing fine.

Tags: blogsndogs

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My First Podcast

Dawn arrives later in Banff than in Denver, but it's worth the wait to see the tops of mountains turn flesh colored while everything else visible from my window at Lloyd Hall looks cold and blue.

Through the amazing Audioblog.com I was able to call in a podcast from my phone in Lloyd Hall at the Banff Centre and post the recording to The Chronicles. You can hear it (I hope) by clicking once on the right-arrow Play button below:

Tags: blogsndogs

Roland Tanglao interviews a normal person

Roland Tanglao interviewed Dogger Bloggers last night for a couch podcast during the popcorn reception, and I was his first guest. If you click on the long file name beginning with "blogsndogs-ref1-len-edgerly..." and then on "open" you should be able to hear the interview.

Roland, whose title is Chief Blogging Officer at a web-wizard company that he cofounded named Bryght in Vancouver, gives a handy overview of Really Simple Syndication (RSS), the gasoline that fuels a wide range of web innovations sometimes being referred to as Web 2.0. The most comforting part of his explanation is that in the not-too-far-distant future, RSS will be built into all software, so civilians won't have to understand it any more than they have to understand what's happening under the hood when they hit "send" on an e-mail.
Tags: blogsndogs

Future Podcaster

Originally uploaded by Raincity Studios.

At right, a photo taken of me by Robert Scales today during the Banff conference. I found it on Flickr, which enables an easy transfer to my blog.

This evening over popcorn and drinks Eric Rice gave a presentation on podcasting video and audio with his product Audioblog.com. With it you can record a post on your cell phone and have it appear on your blog. Same with a short video from your camera. Eric hopes tomorrow that his cellphone coverage will be strong enough for him to post an audio blog during the dog sled ride. Why not? I will be trying all these tricks as soon as I can consult the help files on his site and read slowly the information he demonstrated tonight at top speed.

Tags: blogsndogs

Monday, December 05, 2005

I created a Flickr account

I'm sharing photos on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lenedgerly.
Tags: blogsndogs

Darren Barefoot & Susie Gardner for Dummies

We now have twenty minutes to write our own blog post after listening to Darren Barefoot and Susie Gardner's "Blog Writing for Dummies" presentation. It's easy, really. All you have to do is be authentic, write regularly, be conversational and funny, tell good stories compellingly, reveal your personality, get yourself into spicey fixes (like the knitter on a book tour who locked herself out of her hotel room wearing only a top and a pair of bad panties), be articulate, write titles that search engines will find but that are also funny enough for humans, write about things before anyone else, and--forgetting all of the preceding--be spontaneous!

Technorati Tags: blogsndogs

The Sexiest Laptop in the Room

Well, I'm not the only one intimidated by the torrent of web terms and tools coming our way from the instructors at Blogs n Dogs. As the approximately 30 participants introduced themselves, plenty expressed a feeling of being overwhelmed, and a good number had not even started blogging yet. I checked my own blog and was pleased to see that I have been at it since June, 2002, when I posted my first tentative blog entry during my Bennington MFA program. After I did my intro, instructor Eric Rice added, "and you also have the sexiest laptop in the room." Hal, a San Franciscan sitting next to me, agreed, confessing, "I'm a Mac fanatic and I want one." My svelte Vaio, my sweet, my 1.8 pounds of techno-panache.

We are in a "blog posting time" break after the first whirlwind session on the technology that powers blogs--RSS and aggregation, mainly. I've just scanned the notes I typed, but it's all a blur. The main thing I decided is that I want to explore Flickr for my photos. It's a free site that now contains 45 million photos, including 142 that have already been posted from people here at Blogs n Dogs.

Tags: blogsndogs

Jumping In

I didn't even have to walk outside to reach the 25-meter pool in the fitness center, thanks to a sort of tunnel connector to my dorm room. It was my first long swim in a long time, so I feel tingling and virtuous as I begin Day 2 at Camp Blog. My goal is to be a good Blogscout by keeping my mind open and taking as few opportunities as possible to prove how little I know amidst this high-octane gaggle of generous geeks. It seems clear as I finish my morning meditation routine that the best way to learn new things is to embrace the full extent of my ignorance.

Now I dip into Ted Kooser's new book, Writing Brave & Free, which is like a time warp back to the fifties, wherein this poet whom I admire extols writing longhand and even typewriters as opposed to computers. "Keyboarding, your fingers seem to race ahead of your mind," he writes. "Or maybe they keep up with your mind without pausing for reflection." Think about this. First of all, I doubt Ted's mind or the mind of anyone with normal gray matter has any trouble staying five thoughts ahead of even the fastest typing. Secondly, in his preference for handwriting I'm not sure what is racing ahead and what is pausing for reflection; isn't it the same mind in each case? But I'm confusing myself even writing about it and reflecting, deleting words and phrases, and all the while sensing how this whole project of communication among humans is undergoing vast change via the explorations of Blogocrats like those gathered here in Banff.

Tags: blogsndogs

Live from Banff

I am delightedly in over my head. At the opening reception, I found myself talking with Roland Tanglao, one of the presenters at Blogs n Dogs. He was holding an odd little gadget which he identified as an iriver, by which he began recording the ensuing conversation with myself and two other Blog-n-Doggers, the editor of a materials management magazine from Boston, and a Vancouver pod-caster. Roland monitored the audio with an ear bud and held the iriver close to whoever was speaking. It may end up on his web site, Dogma Radio, along with other informal discussions on technical subjects.

At the other end of the room, Kris Krug and Sarah Pullman of Vancouver were recording a podcast onto an Apple laptop computer. Kris is one of the presenters, a cofounder of company "that uses open-source Drupal to supply Web designers and developers with community and content management tools," according to the program bios. Like I said, I'm in over my head. But back here in my room I did find the podcast that Kris and Sarah made tonight, as well as the web site of Eric Rice, another wizard presenter who was shooting videos at the reception that will no doubt end up at his site. I wasn't able to open the video Eric shot earlier today here in Banff, because I don't (yet) have an iPod video player. The real cost of this trip to Banff is likely to be the wish list of gadgets which I will leave here coveting.

Most of the folks here are so comfortable in the emerging new world of Web technology, which they refer to in shorthand as Web 2.0, that their conversation is filled with language and developments which I can only try to remember later and look up and learn about. Web 2.0 itself is a term that I heard mentioned numerous times, and when I asked Roland what it meant, during his taped interview, it was as if someone had asked what snow meant at an Inuit convention. Roland may edit that part out. I've heard of Flickr but don't know much about this free photo storage website that everyone here seems to use. My trusty Blogger site is patronizingly referred to as the one that everyone started with before they moved on to more sophisticated blogging tools that will be discussed, I hope, during the rest of the conference.

So my head is happily spinning with the wired energy of the mainly Vancouver-based cyber-gang gathered here at the Banff Centre. I will need to chill with some Henri Salvador crooning in French on my Nano, if I'm to have any hope for a full night of sleep.

Tags: blogsndogs

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Way North

Flying north, way north, from Denver today provided two hours to read the Sunday New York Times and the latest issue of Poetry magazine. Each time I looked out the window the scene appeared more like the Arctic. The Banff Airporter shuttle van driven by Denise raced across snow-slick flat highway toward the mountains as the sun disappeared earlier than it does in Denver. Bob Dylan's "No Direction Home" on the Nano provided a good soundtrack, and my white ear buds made it clear I wasn't planning to get to know my seat-mate during the two-hour drive. Once safely close to our destination, I removed my privacy shield and found out he was headed for a mathematicians conference here at the Banff Centre, where he said the artists (including we bloggers, I assume) and the math geniuses eat in the same dining room but at different tables. This makes sense.

I'm hungry and need to find the dining room where my new photo ID card will earn me supper before the reception at 7. But arriving at Camp Blog has unleashed a manic desire to post to The Chronicles, seemingly every 15 minutes. The Banff Centre is a spiffy campus featuring a nearby rec building with a huge swimming pool, and I brought my suit and goggles. Somewhere not far from here teams of huskies are getting ready to haul bloggers who, if they're like me, don't get outdoors much, on a wild sled ride through the tall trees. I expect my ride through what's new in the wilds of the blogosphere is going to be equally bracing.

Tags: blogsndogs

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