Kamilah Taylor
To ring in 2011, I have my last holiday themed post. Kenny G. Regina Spektor. Pink Martini. Byron Lee & The Dragonnaires. Salsa Celtica.

Auld Lang Syne loosely translates to for the sake of old times. The song basically reminds us that we should remember old friendships. It's fitting that this is the song that has become associated with celebrating a new year beginning.
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Kamilah Taylor
I thought this was nifty. We consume a lot of cassava and yam in Jamaica! Click submit to see the stats for a specific country and click more for the stats broken down by food group. I tried to include a random selection of countries. On a side note, the widget builder in wolfram alpha is kinda cool: http://developer.wolframalpha.com/widgetbuilder/

Kamilah Taylor
Amazon has Alicia Key's The Element of Freedom on sale for $5 so I finally got around to purchasing it. I admit before I wasn't super excited about it, but I've bought all of her albums so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I was pleasantly surprised. For instance, I'd watched the video for Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart but a year later now that I've listened to it on the album, I actually like it more. I've totally been in that place before and perhaps that's part of the appeal of the song. In retrospect I was probably distracted by the whole Hancock/Rogue from X-Men/typical lonely super hero storyline in the video. (Check it out at the end of the post and tell me if you agree with the Hancock analogy!) There's something very plaintive about the refrain, "Tonight, I'm gonna find a way to make it without you". Sometimes when you've lost someone, whether due to a break up or moving or death, the hurt is so bad that you can only take things one day at a time. This I understand.

Kamilah Taylor
Why would you dream of a White Christmas? I mean yes it's beautiful, and it was nice to sit by a fire crocheting and eating christmas pudding at the end of the day, but in all practicality, White Christmas = Christmas Travel Nightmare. And these airlines really need to come up with a better way of handling this. 2 hours on hold trying to fix your flight is just unacceptable, and at 1 hr, 40 minutes on hold, I'm getting pretty close to the 2 hr mark. Shame on you American Airlines.

Argh.
Kamilah Taylor
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...and so begins my absolute favorite song. And while I absolutely love Natalie Cole's version, the classic is her father's, Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song. I have a special treat with this post because I stumbled upon a video of the man himself singing the song.

Kamilah Taylor
It's not Christmas in Jamaica until you hear Christmas Soca Party, Byron Lee's party. In fact, just play it and you can almost picture yourself running around with your cousins on Christmas day, playing with new presents, eating Christmas cake...the good old days.


Kamilah Taylor
Not a lot to say today, but I do love when artists come up with _good_ original Christmas songs.

When I was in high school and in my the world is such a terrible place phase, I really loved Stevie Wonder's Someday at Christmas:


I really wish Charlotte Church was still making used of her voice like she did in Dream a Dream:


Finally, I know it's pop, but Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You is just fun:


What are your favorite non traditional Christmas songs?
Kamilah Taylor
Joy to the World needs to be joyous. It needs to be grand. It needs to have soul. You'd think that'd be obvious, but the problem is that if you just perform the music as is, it's sort of repetitive.

The words are by Isaac Watts but adapted from the Bible; the music is by Lowell Mason but based on a melody by Handel. Fun fact: this was, at the some point, the most published hymn in North America. It's unclear if it still is.

Kamilah Taylor
Carol of the Bells is... magical... sprightly ... mystical... happy. My love affair with the song started after I sang it in a choir for the first time, in 8th grade, one of the few good memories I have of middle school. We also had actual bells that we ran while singing, and the combination of that, and just something about that song...I just loved singing it, in fact I still love singing it, it's hard for me to resist singing along to this day. It's also pretty near impossible to sing this song without smiling, even if you're Scrooge or the Grinch.

Kamilah Taylor
It snowed again last night.  Don't get me wrong, the world covered in a blanket of white is beautiful, but I swear it's snowed more frequently this winter than my previous ones here. Edit: Check out that mountain of snow! You can barely see the FedEx truck over it!


I was a little hesitant to choose Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! as one of the songs of the day because it feels like I'm encouraging the weather. To be fair, I love snow, it's the other wintry weathers I don't like (Ice, sleet, hail, windchill factors). Fun trivia: This song was written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in July 1945 on one of the hottest days on record. Also, despite this song being treated as a Christmas song, it makes no mention of Christmas itself.


So my favorite version of this song is Aaron Neville's. His Soulful Christmas album brings back memories of Christmases at my Aunt's house, with her dancing while cooking the dinner or baking Christmas Cake. It's funny, but I believe the reason we love Christmas music so much are the memories we've associated with it. And Aaron Neville is able to convey the pure delight he has with the snow.

Kamilah Taylor
A Charlie Brown Christmas. Possibly the best Christmas movie ever made. And it gave us one of the best Christmas albums (by Vince Guaraldi), another reason to love it. Interesting trivia, A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first prime-time animated tv special. It was also the first time Charlie Brown was on tv. It took a lot of convincing to get Charles Schulz to agree to move the Peanuts Gang from print to tv, but apparently once he started and Lee Mendelson, executive producer, brilliantly decided on Vince Guaraldi as the composer, things went full steam ahead. Of course the network was nervous because of Linus's little Nativity speech, the choppiness of some of the animation and the general anti-consumerism moral, but the ratings were off the charts and a Christmas tradition was born.

Kamilah Taylor
The cold front that has gripped the US is making me antsy about not spending Christmas (or Crismus as it is in patois) in Jamaica. No sorrel, no Jamaican Christmas cake, no Christmas dinner cooked by my mom and my aunt, no beach, no warmth, and no family. Hence the inspiration for this post.

Toni Braxton's Christmas in Jamaica I choose just for Shaggy's little interludes in the song about jerk chicken and ackee and saltfish. I suspect if you either aren't Jamaican or haven't spent Christmas in Jamaica, the song may not be so special. The song itself has an ordinary R&B vibe to it.

I almost just chose Fab 5's entire Christmas in the Sun album but decided to stick with just two songs. The titular song, Christmas in the Sun, surprisingly has some inspiring moments in it, especially with the state of emergency/Dudus calamity that we endured this year. "Have you ever ever stopped to realise that our home is tropical island paradise? We have our problems but we can solve them, but we have no problems with snow and ice." "No roasted chestnuts on an open fire, but roast caawn and breadfruit and turkey for Crismus dinner." "Down in Jamaica, it's hot sunny weather, and people are warm and friendly all the time. Now it's the Crismus season and the fun cyaan done, so have a joyful irie Crismus in the sun." Oh how I wish I were.

Kamilah Taylor
Oh the memories of annoying the grown-ups with singing this song in the car...it's the song that doesn't end. The weird thing is that by the time you got to the eighth day of Christmas you were usually running out of breath and your mouth was dry but you persisted in singing. So where does it come from and why is it my song of the day?

Welcome to the Christmas edition of my new song of the day feature. I'm counting down to my favorite holiday by attempting to pare down my many favorite christmas songs down to 12...it will be tricky, but I shall persevere.

When I started to do some research on this post, I was surprised to find that there is apparently a religious interpretation of this song. The Twelve Days apparently refer to the days starting with December 26th (Boxing Day) to January 6th (the Day before The Epiphany). In popular culture however, this usually refers to the twelve days leading up to Christmas.

There are many traditional versions of this song. Burl Ives' version comes to mind as a definition of the traditional twelve days, but being Jamaican, I'm also a fan of Harry Belefonte's. Classical music lovers will definitely appreciate Leonard Bernstein's Twelve Days, it's definitely the grandest, complete with a choir and full orchestra.

Edit: I forgot to mention a mostly unknown instrumental version of this by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, you can listen to it here: Twelve Days Of Xmas/ O Come All Ye Faithful/ First Noel (Medley). For some reason it's not played on the Jamaican radio as often as some of the other songs on this album...listening to it I can almost picture myself at home in the warmth.

The parodies of this song are the best versions. My two favorites are Natalie Cole's version and Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown. My Jamaican readers will all know Christmas Countdown, the Irish version of Twelve Days (affectionately known as Dear Nola). (Edit: I was told I should mention that the Christmas season has not officially begun in Jamaica until you hear this song.)
Kamilah Taylor
OK, this is just awesome, you can now have wifi on your Lego NXT Robot (found here). This is so cool, kind of how I imagined a 3rd party wifi sensor would be built too, clearly more work than I thought it would take [typical, I'm always underestimating].



So....can I buy one? I mean I love that you have such clear instructions, but I just want to buy one.

Edit: I just realised there's an update to the first post about the WifiBlock. Still looking to see if it's for sale.
Kamilah Taylor
My friend Brett [second from the right in the below picture] has lost his almost decade long battle with cancer.



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Kamilah Taylor
I found this handy little tutorial about CVS:
Understanding CVS: A brief introduction to the concepts of CVS

Nice pictures, clear explanation. NB: CVS is a revision control system used when multiple software developers need to collaborate on a project, it maintains consistency.

Edit: I changed the title of this post due to some...strong opinions about CVS, which is a legacy system, and SVN is pretty much it's successor. I just thought the explanation of the concepts was cute.
Kamilah Taylor
But if you try real hard, you get what you need. Were truer words ever said? This is classic Rolling Stones, and the choir and non-typical rock instruments just adds to the big feeling of this song. During my exploration this past summer of the so called Holy Trinity of Rock (The Stones, The Beatles and The Who), I rediscovered this amazing song. I remembered the main gist of the song, but it's all the little details that make it what it is. It's funny, while the organ may not be my favorite instrument to listen alone, I find it's in many of my favorite songs, Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers to Cross comes to mind. Well I've had a bit of a rough year, and this song just sort of sums it up I think.

Kamilah Taylor
Because sometimes you can't find the words to express what you're going through but there's a song that fits your mood just right. Today, it's Sara Taveres' Balance:



Sara Tavares belongs to my group of musicians I like to think of as modern African, I believe she has Cape Verdean and Portuguese roots. The song itself is part of a lovely album, one of my eMusic finds a year or so ago.
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