Tag Archives: google research

NOMA: what are those round-y, tilted buildings?

Photo seen on my Manc* buddy Andy’s blog
(oh, yes, he’s a published poet, check out his books here – perfect for gift-giving, IMHO)

Manchester Cundall Light4“Whoa, what are those odd round-y tilted buildings?” I asked him in the comment section.

To which he responded with a link to something called NOMA Earth Tubes.

NOMA? What the heck is that?

He further elaborated,
“The atrium is fundamental to the building’s ventilation strategy. Each of its three corners houses one of the building’s vertical service cores. Some 50m3/s of fresh air is sucked into the building from its landscaped forecourt through three giant earth tubes buried beneath the building; this helps temper the air, cooling it in summer and warming it in winter. Air is heated or cooled in a huge basement plant room before giant fans push it up the service cores to the floor plates.”


Sufficiently curious, I clicked on his link reference thus beginning a fun google research journey for this lady on a pleasantly cozy, rainy Saturday afternoon.

At first the photos in and of themselves were delightfully mind-bending

NOMA Earth Tubes at night

NOMA Earth Tubes at night

with accompanying explanatory text,
“Cundall Light4 was appointed by The Co-operative and Hermes to provide the lighting design for the three earth tubes adjacent to the new Co-operative Group office at 1 Angel Square in Manchester.”

Ah, so that’s what Andy’s response was referring to…those Earth Tubes are fully functional building maintenance machine-structures.

As I continued reading, the melding of science, industrial needs and a city’s desire to offer an artistic skyline got my granola-tree-hugging-hippie-soul to singing.

Reading further, integrated into the Earth Tubes are lighting elements which are programmed with a series of vibrant animations, images of poppies for remembrance day, and programmed to create a shadow of the people dancing in front of the earth tubes.

Oh let me do my Dance of Joy! – buildings joining with me in my happy celebrations.

This is not a stagnant installation. Manchester plans on offering future programming to students and artists.These Earth Tubes are life-giving in physical purpose as well as for the whole of a human being.

And now, what about NOMA? Maybe NOMA has something to do with MAnchester. A quick google research turns up over 6 different acronym references; none of which refer to anything related to the Earth tubes or Manchester.

Reading between the lines, I realized NOMA stands for NOrthern MAnchester.

And yes, I left the best discovery for last.  Here’s a short YouTube of the NOMA Earth Tubes – Cundall Light4. Please enjoy and picture this lady twirling round and round and round and round in her modest but freeing Dance of Joy.

*Manc is a local term for native Mancunians

Swimming with Swans – March(ing) to the Studio

Southern Harmony Recording StudioLast Thursday marked the beginning of forward movement towards the recording of Swimming with Swans: the music.  I met with Ken*, the sound engineer and owner of Southern Harmony recording studio here in FloTown**.  I had a fantastic time sharing my project, discussing needs, working through technical details and listening to his expertise as applied to contexts unique to solo & ensemble classical guitar.

I am so glad I went with my gut on using this studio for my solo pieces.  The selection of quality recording studios nearby is limited.  I vetted several this past year covering a 3 hour driving radius and came up with a scattering of possibilities all over the state, but really, the best for my needs are located in Raleigh/Durham, NC.  Hubby being my #1 patron and supporter of my art is keeping those options open for me to use if I decide to go that route, regardless.

Original musical monkey in journal

A page from my journal…

I have to admit that until moving to and living in Florence, SC I took basic musician needs for granted.  This scarcity of a vibrant, well-rounded arts-scene will no doubt be a foreign concept/truth to grasp for many of my colleagues.  It certainly was for me, but – it is what it is and I’m thrilled to have cracked the code to a satisfying solution; enabling me to thus move forward and march*** to the studio.

There is one other semi-appropriate studio in Colombia that Joe and I toured during his Thanksgiving visit.  It was more attuned to the needs of classical/jazz musicians, but the space didn’t feel good.  It offers the use of a superior quality grand piano, but that’s not something I need. Also, the sound engineer didn’t have any project tracks to play for me to listen to that were relevant to my instruments.  The ones we gave a listen to were mostly of brass instruments, which sounded great…but.  After doing some of my own digging on the internet for sound samples from his client list, I found a few background tracks with acoustic guitar that sounded – well, let’s just say they were not to my liking.

As a musician, the bottom line is one’s tone, one’s sound. If that gets messed up, no amount of playing technique or flourish will save the day.  After listening to some of Ken’s current projects highlighting a variety of acoustic instruments, I believe I can trust his ear.  We certainly have a great rapport, which also counts as a keen element in the recording process/experience.

The Prisloe, Mo Giolla Mear, the ZOOM H4n & PillowMeanwhile, I’m doing time on the ole’ practice stool, fine tuning my solo pieces, getting ready for recording and keeping up my chops.  I hope to start sessions by mid-late March.

I am definitely psyched…



*If you visit Southern Harmony, you’ll find Ken is quite modest…his creds include an impressive resume of work in the LA scene for most of his 20 years of experience before moving to FloTown,  yet not listed on his website.
**Local name for Florence, South Carolina
***Yes, pun is intentional.

In Search of a Replacement Classical Guitar Case

In 1994 I purchased my first custom handmade classical guitar.  A Thomas Prisloe.  Crafted with an Englemann Spruce top, Indian Rosewood sides and back and customized features, it came housed in a Pro Tec International case.

My 1994 Prisloe nestled in its original Pro Tec International case, 2015

My 1994 Prisloe nestled in its original Pro Tec International case, 2015

Both have served me well these past 21 years of gigging, performing, recording, teaching and traveling.

The woods of this guitar have long since opened up, developing a tone quality shaped by the touch of my fingers and style of playing.  The case remains a stalwart protector of its charge.

Heavily padded, yet extremely lightweight and durable, this case kept the Prisloe at a consistent temperature and humidity level as well as safe and secure during transport.  It didn’t show signs of falling apart until we ended our between homes journey in July 2012. Continue reading

Inspiration during a simple Convalescence

Okay.  So I’m laid up a bit from a pesky back muscle spasm. In my mature wisdom, I know it is nothing as incapacitating as what many of my favorite Wounded Warriors have had to endure in a life less than half the length of my own.  But, when one is on a roll with a project that has been working its way to the top of the slush pile of my creative mind, the intrusion of this mini-disability is an aggravation.

In keeping with a term I earned back during my horse rescue days, I choose to ‘Cowgirl Up.’

Yep, being (he)artistic and horsey walk hand in hand in this lady’s life.

I confess to times of grumpiness, but mostly I’ve been reading lots, listening lots and vegging lots.  Never one to run from the creative crock pot of silence, the waiting is invigorating, but the physical stillness is my undoing!

Here then is a sampling of stuff I love, especially when I can’t position myself on my own practice stool and work on my own music.  Enjoy! Continue reading


churchill quoteToday I learned a new skill.  Using a layout design I created for a favorite quote, I transferred it from WORD to PDF to JPEG in order for it to be viewed in a blog post.  Yes, it takes that long-line of a process to get it from there to here. With those faithful Dummy Books by my side, I googled more info on how to do this and voilá! What you see is the end result of what I learned today!  Pretty cool, this inner geek of mine.  And, oh yes, the quote itself is very worthy of contemplation.

Obviously, this post has nothing to do with my current Giving Voice series. While I have several articles neatly tucked away waiting their turn to be presented, there are those that are incomplete, unfinished or just not quite ripe for public viewing.  Such is the case for the one next in line; surrounded by other completed articles, that one just isn’t up to snuff yet.

Plus, I realized that for all my concern about presenting potentially controversial topics in a balanced manner, I’d all but forgotten to address the fact that stereotypes are often steeped in some form of truth.  There are reasons why the average guy on the streets is avoided, looked upon with caution or treated as if he were invisible. Continue reading

Intro: Giving Voice (an ongoing series)

On the wall overlooking the sewing table in a far corner of my studio hangs my latest cut & paste collage.

These collages come and go. Serving as conduits of expression, they bring to light brewing intangibles. Those yearnings, thoughts, and insights within the inner self find their way and ‘voice’ through spontaneously selected images and words gathered from a myriad of sources.

This one emerged late in the year 2014, after more than five years of silence.

The lower left corner of the poster board backing reveals a magnificent tiger walking amidst snowy territory.  His eyes speak – Survival, Determination; his body encompasses – Beauty, Dignity.  The text reads – Be the voice for those who have no voice.

While this visual encompasses the overall view of this newly launched blog category regardless of actual topic, I can’t help but put a human face to that tiger.  Walking amidst cold and snowy circumstances, I see human eyes speaking the same message; a human body reflecting unexpected grace while journeying a similar path.

When confronted with a potentially volatile subject matter, I tend to err on the side of documenting sources to support my findings.  Unfortunately, that often kills the very (he)art and passionate force behind one’s need to Be the voice when done to the extreme.  In that respect, the debut of this ‘ongoing series’ reflects my own attempts at balanced writing.  Admittedly, the first subjects I have slated for exploration I find difficult to keep an objective tone.  Yet that splash of subjectivity or personal investment is the very life blood of why I’ve been trying so hard to put this long promised ‘serious series’ together in the first place.

My sincere hope is that each Giving Voice post will be thoughtfully considered by the readers of this blog.  Giving Voice in no way assumes to be an exhaustive reporting of issues.  Balancing experience and exposé, feeling and facts, I am but one voice, with a very small reach.

As always, I welcome any genuine comments you may have to share, either in the comments area below, in an e-mail via the contact button or message via personal e-mail.

Agreement is not the goal; engagement/awareness is…one voice at a time.

One Year Later: On the technical aspects of blogging

(Hard to believe, but I am coming up on the first anniversary of the launch of this website/blog the end of this month.)

This blogging gig has proven to awaken my inner geek, requiring her to be on-call 24/7.  In that respect, I can be quite grumpy and reluctant as regards the technical aspects of blogging.  So time consuming!  However I am greatly appreciative for the huge learning curves thrown my way that need to be fielded because they require an active attitude of ‘lifelong learning.’

For instance, the issue of updates and backing up data and the website in general has been an on-going concern.  This being a self-hosted WordPress site, most of what needs to be addressed on a regular basis is done by myself rather than WordPress.  The choice to be self-hosted was a deliberate decision as it offers a greater freedom in use of customizing WP templates and purposes.  Learn-as-you-go works for awhile, but after awhile, much of what is labeled, ‘maintenance’ is far from being routine.

Case in point: a few months ago I took the bull by the horns looking for new options for backups in order to address the compounding update issues that cannot continue to stay ‘on hold.’  Laughter-1I realized my original ‘UpdraftPlus’ plugin wasn’t pulling its weight, so I went on a Google research rampage in search of a more suitable solution. Several hours later, I found an-in-your-face-obvious-option I hadn’t noticed at first sight, right on the cPanel of my website host service.  A simple button named -you guessed it- Backups.

While I now have a better back-up plan, the updates are still continuing to accumulate.  The next step is for me to learn how to implement a ‘clone website.’  That way, I can do updates and see how they change the overall site while not interfering with the live site.  The fun part of establishing a clone site is that it will enable me to do all sorts of experimental things while not interfering with the live site.  That is indeed a geeky creative desire on my part, I know.  We’ll see. Continue reading

Bacterial Necrosis

 from- Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
November 2011 (Fountain Hills, AZ)

Saguaro Cactus Fountain Hills, AZDuring my daily walks along local paths in town and in the surrounding desert area, I’ve noticed Saguaro Cacti with large dark brown “bite” patches along their base up to and including places way high above my head.  At first I thought perhaps they were indeed, bites from local fauna that somehow didn’t get hurt eating the spiky spines along with the juicy flesh.  Think: deer bites on Aspen tree trunks.  But it didn’t seem to fit with the height limit of most animals.  So, I got to thinking maybe it was some sort of naturally occurring disease that helps to maintain eco-balance such as the Pine Beetles in the Colorado forests.

I did a bit of Google research and discovered Continue reading

Why Blog? Why Now?

The obvious answer to this is of course, ‘Why not?’  I, however, could think of many reasons ‘why not’ whenever it was suggested to me to begin blogging.  The biggest one being: anybody and their uncle can write anything and put it up into the nether-land of cyberspace for all to see regardless of quality.

And then I remembered that was one of the main reasons I’d balked at recording my first cd.  As a working musician, I’d done demos and was busy with gigging, teaching and performing.  After all, anybody and their uncle can record anything for all to hear regardless of quality; it is all so easy to do these days…


So that’s a good reason to disregard this idea of starting up a website blog?

I think not. Continue reading