First of two birthday celebrations for Bach

Using today's Gregorian calendar, we would say that Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685 in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach. However, it is very common to commemorate JSB's birthdate as March 21, 1685, the day of his birth in the Julian Calendar, the system in effect in central Germany in 1685. I say: let's use both days to remember and enjoy the life and work of this most amazing composer and musician. Happy Birthday, Bach!

Ruth, Tears, and Alien Corn

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Book of Ruth.  Laura and I read it to each other last night through the inevitable tears that spring from me when I contemplate the story of family devotion and divine providence.   This book is also an inspiration for some of my favorite lines of poetry, found in the latter verse of John Keats' Ode to a Nightingale (text of poem):

The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

I think often of Keats' image of Ruth when I think of the journeys to foreign lands that my parents -- and I -- have made, when we too have been "sick for home, ... [standing] in tears amid the alien corn."

Photos from our Maryland/DC trip

Laura and I had an invigorating and restorative weekend in Maryland and DC.    On Friday and Saturday, I attended the MITH Workshop on APIs and the Digital Humanities, at which I gave  an introductory talk on APIs.  We took the workshop as a chance for the both of us to take a road trip to visit family, friends, and some of the big sites of the DC area.    Here are some photos I took from the weekend: