Babe’s babies are coming along nicely

Babe’s babies are three days old today, and they’re so sweet to look at, I’m glad I don’t check my blood sugar more often than I do.

Babe's Babies - Day 3: A mound of adorable baby kittensI try to get at least one picture a day, and I’ve created Babe’s new babies, a Flickr album with the best pictures I get of Babe and her babies from every day. I’ve also created Babe’s Babies, a playlist of the videos I get of the furry family. There’s only one video right now, but I’ll be adding at least one or two videos every week.

You’ll want to check those two links often to see the latest photos. There will be a lot of furry content coming over the next 6-8 weeks as the kitties get ready to go on to their new homes.

The AM radio station I grew up listening to is now an FM station with the same music

I love listening to WWOZ, a radio station in New Orleans owned by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. I’ve often said I wish I could have listened to it growing up, but it didn’t exist until 1986. But as a teenager in the 70s, there was an AM radio station that was always on around my grandparents’ swimming pool, and I practically lived in that pool during the summer for a lot of years. This week I learned that the radio station I listened to is now a classic hits FM station, and it’s not owned and programmed by some radio conglomerate with a sound like hundreds of other stations across the country.

WTIX-FM's logo with a classic jukeboxWTIX has been brought back as an FM radio station, and just reading the description on their website reminds me of those hot summer days around the pool.

WTIX 94.3 FM’s heritage call letters originate from the legendary Top 40 AM station WTIX 690 AM, “The Mighty 690.” WTIX 690 AM New Orleans dominated the airwaves from the 1950s into the 1980s as America’s first Top 40 radio station, and the FM station debuted initially as its sister station in 1995.Today TIX FM continues the legacy of the original TIX AM featuring the classic hits, heritage TIX jingles, and the famous “Chime Time” that rings when the personalities give the time on the air – a feature that was also a staple of Musicradio WABC New York in its heyday.

The website hasn’t been updated since 2020, but you can find WTIX-FM streaming on many online radio streamers like TuneIn. (I listen to The Mighty 690 on TuneIn.) Even if you didn’t grow up in New Orleans in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, if you like the music from those decades you should check out the WTIX-FM stream. It may just bring you back to the spots that you grew up in. I may have to make it the official radio station at the Pride Lanes Bowling Center in Second Life.

Congratulations to a new furry mamma

Today, the combined family in my building got a bit bigger. Babe, my neighbor’s cat, had kittens. Mom and babies are doing fine, and I was able to grab a picture of the new family.

Babe and some of her newborn kittens

Some of the kitties already have new homes waiting for them, and I know the others will go to homes where they will be welcomed and loved.

I’m now on Flickr

I’ve been on Flickr for a while for my Second Life avatar’s store, Nanci’s Naughties. But I realized I should also have one to share pictures from my First Life as well.

JM Hardin on FlickrToday I created a new account on Flickr where you can find photos of me, my music, and the food I enjoy. Of course, it will also have photos of Babe, my upstairs neighbor’s feline overlord. She has run of the house and can’t have an account for sharing my photos without having my cat photos.

You can find my photos on Flickr, and feel free to follow me there. There’s no telling what I’ll post photos of next. Or when.

Finally, Nanci sings in the rain

In July 2020, I got a cute umbrella in Second Life. Co.vet made their Mandala Umbrella in blue available in the Fifty5 Thursday sale. It had a rainy day version which included rain around the avatar. Since then I’ve been wanting to create a video inspired by Fred Astaire’s classic movie musical number but I struggled to find the right outfit and animations to bring it to life. That has recently changed, and I am now able to create the video I’ve been wanting to make.

Second Life creator Junk Food had their Rainy Umbrella available during last week’s Fifty Linden Friday. Of course, I had to buy it. It didn’t have the amount of rain I wanted for Fred’s song-and-dance number, but it was cute enough to see what I could do with it. I already had a nice tux from Sascha’s Designs, and I found some tap dancing animations from Abranimations. The only thing left was to find the right region to shoot in.

After looking at several regions, I found the 1920s – 1040s New York Time Zone at the Time Portal. I needed a night-time environment,but I also needed some additional light on my avatar. I ultimately used the 3 am environment setting that’s built into the Firestorm viewer, and the area in front of the Time Portal itself got enough light that I wasn’t dancing in the dark during the shoot. (That’s a Springsteen thing, after all.)

The camera work isn’t as smooth as I’d like, but I’m pretty happy with how my first machinima came out.

Credits
(Unless otherwise stated, links go to the item on the SL Marketplace)

Nanci Singin’ in the Rain
Shot by Nanci Barthelmess at Time Portal – 1920s – 1940s New York Time Zone (SLurl)
Windlight setting: Shared environment A-3AM
Music: Singin’ In The Rain by Gene Kelly (from Singin’ in the Rain (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack))

Nanci’s Body: Prima Busty (SLurl)
Hair: Stealthic – Mesmer
Tux: SAS – Shaz Tuxedo & Hat Glitter by Sascha’s Designs (NOTE: She’s wearing the Maitreya Lara version, not a Prima Busty version)
Umbrella: Junk Food – Rainy Umbrella (FLF page)
Shoes: -KC- NEDIS PUMPS by KC | Couture
Animations: Delected animations from the Mocap Tap Dance Animations from Abranimations

Home Studio Update: The hardware is in

(The links in this article go to product pages on Musician’s Friend, my preferred source for all my music gear. Musician’s Friend doesn’t have an affiliate program, so I don’t make a commission if you buy from my links.)

Me at my new microphone as if laying down a vocal trackWith today’s delivery of my mic stand and accessories, my home studio hardware is in and ready for recording vocals and guitar parts. My next task: To get the software tweaked so everything plays well with others. Then I can start laying down tracks.

My audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio (3rd Gen) with the Scarlett Solo interface, the CM25 MkIII condenser microphone, and a pair of HP60MkIII headphones. The mic stand is a fixed boom stand from Musician’s Gear, as is the pop filter, and the shockmount is a Sabra SSM-1 Universal Shockmount.

The Right sure does hate us trans folks

(Content Warning: US federal politics are discussed in this article.)

I try not to post political articles here as a rule. But this evening I got an email from Erin in the Morning Substack that makes me break that rule. The so-called “Freedom Caucus” is threatening to shut down the federal government unless several anti-trans policies are included in legislation to keep the government open.

If the “Freedom Caucus” has a coat of arms it probably includes the phrase “Libertas mihi sed non tibi.” That’s Latin for “Freedom for me but not for thee.” They want to take us back to the days when the people who made the rules were all (supposedly) white folks who didn’t take any crap from anyone who wasn’t in total agreement with them.

Last week, I mentioned that I was finally getting the gear I need to make demos of some of my songs. I’m getting my recording system set up after getting my audio interface yesterday. My song Somewhere Someone Cares will be the first song to get recorded, and I’m also working on recording another song. I wrote a song years ago that got put on the side after I fell out of love with the lyrics. But the music for the song wouldn’t get out of my head, so I need to write some new lyrics for it. I have the chorus already, and this latest move from the ultra-religious right is making me want to get the song finished and out in the world. I think you’ll see what I mean from the lyrics.

The Right is trying to chase us away
The Gays and Lezzies, the Transes and Enbies
They’re saying that we don’t belong
But what they don’t know is we’ve been here forever
They say that we are grooming their kids
But they confuse us with some politicians and church folks
No matter what they do or say
The queers are here to stay.

While Somewhere Someone Cares is a nice blues/progressive rock song, this one is a flat-out rocker. I think it could do nicely as an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community.

If you want your elected officials to stand up for the trans and queer folk against the “Freedom Caucus,” please contact them and let them know. Don’t assume someone else will do it, because they may assume you will.

Read Erin Reed’s Republicans Issue New Government Shutdown Threat Over Trans People on Erin in the Morning.

I finally have SolydK 12 installed

My new SolydK 12 desktopLast week I decided it was time to backup my laptop and have another go at installing SolydK 12. I installed it back in December but something was nomming hard drive space like there was no tomorrow so I quickly went back to SolydK 10. But I have SolydK 12 installed and I can finally run all sorts of shiny programs. The screenshot of my new desktop has a photo of Babe, my neighbor’s feline, that was taken in August.

SolydK is my preferred Linux distribution, and version 12 comes with Plasma version 5.27.5 and runs on Debian Bookworm. Among the programs I can finally run are the Calibre ebook reader version 6.13 and version 6.6.17.70368 of the Firestorm viewer for Second Life. Plus, I can finally run the brand-new beta of Firestorm version 7.1.3, which has the new PBR functionality of Second Life. No, it isn’t named for a can of beer, and it’s not codenamed Peanut Butter, although many of us do refer to it as Peanut Butter. It stands for physically based rendering, and rather than try to explain it myself, I’ll just let the always awesome Inara Pey tell you about it. But it does mean one thing I can explain quickly: Second Life has actual mirrors now! Granted, they’re not great mirrors as I write this, but they’re semi-functional mirrors. Yippee!!!!

My brand new mirror in my house in Second Life

As you can see from the sticky note in the desktop screenshot, I’m not having any unexplained hard drive space loss this time, and I’ve got my recording software reinstalled. I’ll be working with that in the coming days, especially since my new audio interface arrives on Tuesday. I’ll be writing a full article about that once I’ve started using it.

It’s getting late, and Babe is already letting me know it’s time for bed, so I’ll leave you with the images I made for this article. As my (admittedly arsehole) brother used to say, be good, and if you can’t, be good at it.

  • My new SolydK 12 desktop
    A screenshot of my new SolydK 12 desktop

Happy Lundi Gras, y’all!!

(This article contains affiliate links. If you buy something from the links I may receive a small commission for your purchase.)

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras Day in my hometown, New Orleans, which makes today Lundi Gras. The Monday (Lundi en Français) before Mardi Gras used to be a day to rest and recover from the massive parades over the previous weekend. It became its own day of celebration in 1987, and NewOrleans.com has the details on the newer Lundi Gras celebrations.

Tonight’s Parades

Google Maps showing the NOLAcom building about a block and a half down St. Charles St. towards Julia Street from Harmony CircleTonight we have the parades for the Krewe of Proteus and the Krewe of Orpheus. You can watch the parades on NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Parade Cam. They’ll be streaming from The Times-Picayune building just east of Harmony Circle (formerly named for a losing Confederate general) beginning at 5:15 pm Central Time, just keep in mind that it will take some time for the parades to get to Harmony Circle.

Orpheus will have the terrific twosome of Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka as their celebrity monarchs, and I’m going to try to get the stream hosts to shout “Spice up your life!” at Neil. Why, you ask? Because he danced to that song from the Spice Girls in the third 60th anniversary Doctor Whoo special, The Giggle.

Mardi Gras Day

You can stream the Mardi Gras Day festivities from several sources in La Nouvelle Orléans. In addition to several marching groups, there are parades in New Orleans for the Krewes of Zulu and Rex (the King of Carnival) as well as truck parades for the Krewes of Elks Orleanians and Crescent City.

NOLA.com’s Parade Cam will stream Zulu and Rex, and it will be a nice way to watch the major New Orleans parades on Fat Tuesday. Local NBC affiliate WDSU (a sister station to ABC affiliate WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston) will add coverage for some of the marching clubs, black masking indians, and truck parades. WDSU will also cover the parades in the surrounding area for a more inclusive day of coverage. NOLA.com’s stream will start at 8 am Central Time and WDSU will start streaming both on their website and the Very Local app beginning at 6:00 am Central Time. (WDSU is a sister station to WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston.)

Do you want some New Orleans-esque food for Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras donuts from Mardi Gras Day 2023My family has two food traditions for Mardi Gras Day. We start with Mardi Gras donuts, which are similar to beignets but without the yeast. The recipe is super simple with just three ingredients. The picture is the donuts I made for last year’s Mardi Gras Day.

Important note: Once again, I forgot that the recipe I got from my aunt doesn’t include any liquid. I’ll have to correct the recipe in the coming months, and when I do I’ll post the update here. I’ll also write a stand-alone article with the corrected recipe for Mardi Gras 2025, which will be on 4 March 2025.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Mix the ingredients.
  2. Roll thin and cut into triangles or diamond shapes. Cut a vent slit or two, depending on the size of the triangle.
  3. Fry till crispy in vegetable oil heated to 3500℉.
  4. Dust with powdered (confectioner’s) sugar.
  5. Bon appetite.

They go great with a nice cup of Community New Orleans Blend if you’re able to get it. I buy it from Amazon and it’s the coffee I brew every day. It doesn’t contain chicory, but it’s the coffee my family made when I was younger. You can add plain chicory to get coffee and chicory, but the brand of chicory I used was discontinued, and I haven’t found a new brand I love yet. If you like cold brewed coffee, I can promise you that New Orleans Blend is delicious brewed cold.

Our other Mardi Gras Day food tradition is a simple lunch to take to the parades: fried chicken. Not only is it a great thing to eat between parades out on the route, but you can also have it for dinner if you have any left. Just serve it with a simple salad, and it’s a (fairly) nutritious meal on a very full day.

I could fry up a batch of air fryer wing dings (I need to post that recipe soon), but I bought a tray of fried chicken while I was making a few groceries.

Have a great Mardi Gras and laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

One more quick note

Thanks to a nice long bit of jury duty, I’m finally getting some gear for recording demos of some of my songs. I’ll be posting a teaser clip for Somewhere Someone Cares in the coming days to YouTube so you may want to subscribe to my channel at @JMHardin and click the bell so you get notified when it drops. I also post cute videos of Babe, my upstairs neighbor’s cat, so if you like cat videos you may have another reason to follow my channel there.

Holy fuque

The court case I’m on the jury for got a continuance to next week, and tonight I could work on my music again in preparation for trying to lay down some demos. My first demo is going to be of my song Somewhere Someone Cares, which featured prominently in my short story He’s With the Band, but I had never managed to work out the chord progression for the chorus or the bridge.

I was a piano player when I first wrote the song, but it really needs a band to play it, especially since the main theme works better on guitars than on a piano. I’ve never had a band of my own, so the song has never been performed. Since it’s never been performed, I’ve never worked out the chords for the whole song. The verse chords are pretty much locked down, although may I need to change one of the B-section chords. I had an idea of what the chords would be for the chorus, but they never felt quite right.

Tonight I pulled out my guitar and folding keyboard and worked out what the chords should be for the chorus. Having all the chords written out, I ran through the solo section and got to work on the bridge. Amazingly enough, the bridge looks like it’s just two chords repeated.  I looked at changing the chords for the second line of the bridge, but it ended up just trying to be more complex than it really needs to be. Of course, being a good proggish song, the key changes a bit. Am for the A-section of the verse, Dm for the B-section, straight A major for the chorus, and Dm for the bridge. I guess my love for progressive rock came out a bit for this song.

Now all I need to do is get my computer ready to lay down some tracks and learn how to play it well enough to record them. And, Goddess help me, I need to work on the vocals as I come up with a way to lay them down. I haven’t done any proper singing in over 20 years. Yipes!

And I still need to work on the other song I want to make a demo for. That tune needs a ton of prep work, especially since it may be a hard rock song with a Hammond B3-ish track and some synth tracks to try and pass for a good R&B horn section. Why on earth can I not write simple songs that are easy to do demos of? (laughter)

If you want to get updates on the songs and be able to find out where to hear them, watch this space. I hope to have a demo of Somewhere Someone Cares finished by the time Ncuti Gatwa’s first full season of Doctor Who drops in May.