Tag Archives: Tent

Finally, For The First Time In My Life, I Have Agreed To Go Camping.

by Anura Guruge



Each to their own and I LIKE my creature comforts. Prior to this when I agree to go camping it means that I will stay at a ‘Holiday Inn‘.

But, I was willing to make an exception for this.

What do you think?

It has A/C and an attached full-function bathroom in an adjoining tent. I think I might be able to survive one night.

 

 


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by Anura Guruge

My Good Deed Of The Day — Alpaca ‘Rescue’ In Wolfeboro, July 8, 2017

by Anura Guruge


Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.






This was at the ‘Wolfeboro Craft Fair’, at around 1:15pm, on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the height of the quite powerful storm that rolled through. [That one picture, taken early on doesn’t tell the full story of the severity of that storm that lasted about 40 minutes.]

We were staying dry inside one of the three large tents when suddenly these two kids (in their late teens I reckon) burst in with two very soaked and pitifully bleating alpacas. It was quite dramatic and you could tell, immediately, that the alpacas were in distress. One flopped onto the ground the refused to budge. They were not happy.

Appears that the tent that they were under collapsed on top of the two alpacas which scared them no end — on top of the lightning, thunder and heavy rain. The ‘boy’ in charge (in the blue T-shirt in the above pictures) was ‘upset’ and doing his best to take good care of the alpacas and his drenched female helper. He was continually running out, into the storm, back to his mangled tent to retrieve sweatshirts for his companion, hay for the alpacas and towels.

He needed someone to hold onto the two alpacas while he rushed out and his helper was trying to get into her sweatshirt.

That is where I came in. He gave me very specific instructions that I must hold tight — hence why the reins are wrapped around my hand. They didn’t give me any trouble. Good as gold. They were scared. Reminded me of doctors in distress. Teischan took the three pictures of me with my Sony a6500. She did a good job.

When the rain abated they took them out and put them in a portable pen next to the collapsed tent. They were still soaked and not happy.

They took them home, to Belmont, in a trailer shortly after they managed to untangle and dismantle the tent. So, these two pictures are after the storm and you can see what happened to the tent. Despite the heavy winds and rain this was the only tent that collapsed. Others leaked, swayed and looked all set to get blown away but, in the end, stood their ground.


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by Anura Guruge

“Great British Bake Off” (GBBO) Season 7, i.e., 2016, Could Be The Last On BBC.

by Anura Guruge


Click here for the U.K. “Daily Mail” original
from March 11, 2016.

Click images to ENLARGE and read here.

GBBOS7end1GBBOS7end2


As far as I can see they haven’t started taping the 2016 edition, i.e., Season 7, as yet. Given the tent and the verdancy that surrounds it the tapings are most likely done in June or July. So still a few months left. Season 6 (2015) started airing in mid-August. So that is probably when we can start expecting season 7 this year — on YouTube. i.e., around August 2016. I will, of course, keep you posted.


>> >>  See ‘Season 7’ News Roundup I  << <<



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by Anura Guruge

NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: Weather, Parking, Groups, Celtica and The Brigadoons.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: The Featured Band Is ‘Carnegie Mellon University Pipes &amp; Drums’Sept. 16, 2012.
Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games At Loon September 21 …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.
New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23August 17, 2012.

Celtica, the featured group at the NH Highland Games 2012: Click image to access YouTube video of Celtica


In terms of weather, it looks like there is an equal chance of rain showers (in the morning/afternoon) on both days; Saturday being much warmer than Sunday.No hurricanes, however. That is always a plus; having done the games twice during or right after an hurricane; the first time before that had the ‘Concert Tent’, which came to be the next year after the chaos of trying to put on a show without enough covered area. [Yes, we even got dragged to the school in Lincoln for a performance!]

But, Saturday’s tend to be packed and you pay $15 MORE per ticket (adults only, kids always free) for the privilege. Yes, they have the Clan Parade and Massed Bands — but as I have already stated there isn’t a great slate of marching bands this year. Sunday, post 4pm, you also get all the hard-to-resist ‘give away’ sales at the food booths. Yes, I love those. Three sausage rolls $5 as opposed to $4.50 for one. We are still torn as to whether to go on Saturday or Sunday. Going today, Friday, was no longer an option because of school. We like Fridays — less crowds, full program of bands and the sheep dogs.

Celtica, supposedly the featured band for 2012, is also only playing Friday and Saturday. I went and found them on YouTube. They sound OK … shades of ‘Seven Nations‘ and a toned-downRed-Hot Chilli Pipers‘ (who made it rather clear last year that they were not coming back). Despite what the organizers like to tell us, groups as soon as they get a name stop coming to Loon. This by all accounts is considered a ‘small’ show of little consequences.

After about 3 minutes of Celtica, I realized what was missing. No vocals. Then it cracked me up. Read the first comment on YouTube against the above video: ‘Celtica needs vocals‘. I concur. I think 40 minutes of them on top of Albannach will get tedious. I think I have seen both Searson and Hardrian’s Wall before, but I am holding up hope for them.

Scheduling continues to deteriorate and confound. On Saturday they have Albannach playing in the ‘Concert Tent’ at the same time as the Clan Parade and Roll-Call. This is stupid. I have seen them do this before. This is not fair to anybody. People are conflicted and you have the group and the bands on the Parade Ground competing for sound with each other. Plus during the speeches, even if there are solemn moments, you have Albannach pounding away behind you.

On Saturday, my perennially favorite The Brigadoons don’t get a slot in the ‘Concert Tent’. Yes, I know they are old and have been playing there continuously for 20 odd years. But, they still represent quintessential, unadulterated Celtic music. They represent the tradition, the roots, the essence. They still draw a faithful crowd.

All said I am getting increasingly disillusioned by organization of the Highland Games at Loon, and given that I have been attending since 1998 (only missing one, and that was because I could not take it when it was at the dirt and cow manure in Hopkington) I think I am entitled to a say. It is not complacency. There is some cynicism. They are selling us old rope knowing that there are so many who love the games. So they don’t see a need to reinvigorate, to rejuvenate. I wish they would make a concerted attempt to make the games bigger and better. I will do a report card after we get back.

I saw a query here about parking. Unless you have VIP credentials you are not going to be able to park in or near the Loon complex. Period. Parking on Rte 112 (Main St.)/Kancamagus Highway is not permitted for miles before and after Loon; it is taped off, by the police (and strictly enforced). Yes, in 1998, I parked right next to the Loon bridge on the road. The next year I talked an attendant into letting me park inside Loon. Those days are gone. Park-and-Ride is the only way to do it, unless you are a VIP. There are at least 3 ‘Park-and-Ride’ sites — starting at the I-93 exit. We use the last one — by the ‘Inn Season’ hotel and Lincoln Shopping Center; but we haven’t been to the games on a Saturday in a long time. So not sure whether it gets full, though it, encompassing 3 fields, is HUGE.


Click to see ‘The Brigadoons’ at Loon in 2011 (on YouTube) sans my ‘buddy’ Jackie (electric bass) who passed away a couple of years ago. Miss Jackie. Chatting with him was the highlight of MY games.

NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: The Featured Band Is ‘Carnegie Mellon University Pipes & Drums’

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games At Loon September 21 …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.
New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23August 17, 2012.

_65665060_strathclydepolicepipeband

The Strathclyde Police Pipe Band that regaled us at the 1999 Loon Highland Games. No they, nor any Grade 1 bands, will be there in 2012.


It took me awhile to find the ‘Featured Band‘ for 2012 mainly because I was not expecting it to be a University band. I am going to keep an open mind and wish them well. Yes, I went and read up about them. They have a new Piping Director from Northern Ireland, Andrew Carlisle, who is highly ranked and looks very promising. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing him.

All this said, I am a tad disappointed and frustrated and as is my wont when I am like that, I did some research last night. Here is a complete list of the pipe bands at the 2012 games as published on their Web site [and I am not sure whether they meant to include the not-so-generous travel stipends that are being doled out]. Notice that there is not a single Grade 1, i.e., top-tier, band. Carnegie Mellon (CMU) is ranked as a Grade 4 band, though some of my Web research indicated that they might have got up to Grade III on some occasions.


Queen’s Piper Jim Motherwell that lit up the 1998 Games. What a MAN.

Over the last few years I had a sneaking feeling that we were getting short changed by the organizers of the Highland Games when it came to the bands and the performers. So, yesterday I went looking for my old programs from past games, because I remember enjoying PROFESSIONAL regimental bands from the U.K. In 1999 we had the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. In 1998 we had the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. In 1998 we also had two Pipers to Her Majesty The Queen, Pipe Major Gordon Webster and the incomparable Pipe Major Jim Motherwell, the 10th Queens Piper.

I ‘know’ Gordon Webster and his wife. I have chatted with them often, they always amused at my willingness to go back home given that they moved heaven and Earth to move up here. Very nice people. I think at the sombre 2001 Games Gordon marched up to the top of the bleachers on the Parade Ground and I think played ‘Taps’ or something equivalent. It was moving. I still remember his story about when he was the Queens Piper and had to on one occasion play for the Queen and her guests from a row boat on a Loch — and how the boat sprang a leak.

But, whenever I think of the Queen’s Piper, it will be Jim Motherwell that will always come to mind. What a man. One of those rare men with irrepressible presence and a surfeit of charm. What an ambassador he was for the U.K., the Queen, piping and mankind. During those Games of 1998, which I attended with my son (6 years old) on both Saturday and Sunday, Jim seemed to be everywhere — invariably talking to people. I spoke with him a number of times. One of my most abiding memories of the games is that of Jim, in full kilt, kneeling on one knee, with his pipes in his hand, talking to Matthew and showing him the details of his uniform — this taking place on the concrete between the Parade Ground and the Governor’s Lodge. Matthew thought he was the cat’s whiskers. He was in awe of him. Talked about him, the Queen’s Piper, for years. I am sure that meeting Jim was a key factor in why Matthew was devoted to those games for the next 6 years or so. [In those days when he was little, Matthew had a knack of getting people to kneel down and speak with him. Another indelible image is that of John McCain, in 1999, during his Primary Bid, on a extremely bitterly cold February day in Gilford, kneeling down, on one knee, talking to Matthew for about 3 minutes — while about 100 people looked on; Matthew having listened to the Senator’s speech from right below his feet.]

I haven’t seen Gordon at the Games in a few years. This could be because we tend to now go either on Friday or Saturday. I don’t think Jim Motherwell has been back. They really should invite him back. He would do so much to lift the Games, which of late seem to be sagging, like a Helium balloon slowly losing its shape.

Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: They Pulled It Off Again. Thank You. THE REPORT CARD.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
1/ Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: Finally Found The ProgramSept. 7, 2012.
2/ Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.

3/ Laconia Multicultural Day, NH, September 8, 2012August 18, 2012.

They never did put the program on their Web site.
That is a cardinal, inexcusable sin.



Click on ANY of the pictures to enlarge them. For those that don’t know … the building in the back is the historic Belknap Mill.

Check out the boy doing an Indian ‘Namaste’. That is priceless and epitomizes all that is GREAT about the Laconia Multicultural Day. Bravo.

This was around 12:30. It started off ‘light’ but the crowds grew as the afternoon progressed … but it was dead by 3:45 even though RasMoon & Monsoon were still playing their hearts out.

To watch kids mesmerized is what this day is all about. Yes, the one in yellow is ours. She thought it was great. This is the future. The kids loved it. Well done, Laconia.



Well done Laconia. Well done organizing committee — you pulled it off again. Thank YOU. Bravo. It is so good to have this in Laconia. It makes me so happy.

In 1999, I had, on business, to meet with a high-flying networking Sales Lady in Meredith, at the ‘Inn on the Bay’. She lived in Center Harbor. She worked for one of the top tier networking companies of the time, flying around the country from Manchester or Logan. She brought her two daughters, 6 & 4 (with a nanny). Afterwards she told me that I was the first non-white person her kids had ever seen! That was 1999.

People don’t believe me but I can go for a week in Alton without ever seeing a non-white person. So having this celebration of diversity once a year, in the very diverse Laconia, is indeed a treat, a treasure and joy. Thank you again, Laconia.


My REPORT CARD for 2012
(as somebody who has attended each and everyone of the Laconia Multicultural Days).

For just doing it: A+

Effort: A+

Overall Experience today: A

‘Energy’/Ambiance: A-

Organization: C, and that only because in my opinion publicity and the Web site let the side down badly (and I am not sure whether they even did any social media marketing).

Event Programming: B-. I understand that they have to cut their suit according to their cloth and that the budget has to be tight. Having the event fizzle out at 4pm (most having left earlier) is anticlimactic. In the early days we had an evening concert and they used to be a blast. I remember a Reggae group. We have their CD downstairs. We rocked into the night. A 4pm finish is way too early. Plus, this years selection of performers was OK but not great. I think we had at least a 50% repetition from the last few years; we having seen that same Indian Dance troupe and the Burundi Drummers before. [My initial claim that we might have seen these last year might be erroneous though the wife and the kids think that the Burundi Drummers were there last year. Might have been the year before. If I was wrong, I am sorry; old age.] While writing this I also realized that the customary martial arts segment was missing. Overall it felt a tad flaccid and tired. It sure wasn’t HopFest 2012 — BUT as I said with HopFest, that was Dartmouth and they rarely put a foot wrong.

Weather: B+. No rain! Blustery and more than one tent looked like it would blow away. But, the sun shone.

Crowds: C. Wasn’t bad, especially given the ‘iffy’ weather forecast. About the same as last year, though the bulk of the crowds were there between 2 and 3. Around noon it was still quiet. By 4 most of the audience was gone. Always amazes me as to who is not there! There is some palpable snobbishness, but that is OK. Also, understandably, more Democrat politicians running for office pressing the flesh, as opposed to their rivals from the other party who probably don’t feel that this is their demography. Got a chance to talk with Andrew Hosmer who is running for NH Senate. First time I have met him. Very nice guy. Nice family. I was impressed. I hope he wins. Though this was not a Granite State Ambassador (GSA) event, I went in uniform and even wore my badge. Two people who have known me for years exclaimed that they had not realized I was a GSA; this being the first time I had worn my insignia to the event.

Web site: F-. That it was last updated on July 29 is a crime. Get with it Laconia, this is 2012.

Sound: C, and for the first time in my experience sound quality was variable and in some instances, especially for poor ‘Cinder Conk’ downright poor. Yes, we had swirling, near gale force winds which didn’t help. I know the 2 guys who do the sound. Nicest people in the world. Yes, I went and spoke to them 3 times. I have always, prior to today, said that they do a better job than those at the Highland Games who always stumble about as if they have never done it before. A rare miss and I am sure we will be back to ‘A+’ next year.

Food Selection: A. I think there were even more vendors, and other than ‘China Bistro’ that had jacked up their prices, the other prices were compelling. Thank you.

Bible Tents: D. Way too many. Somebody told me that they shouldn’t be there. I don’t agree. It is multicultural and religion is a part of that though more diversity would have been more in tune. Maybe they should strive to get more eclectically in these ‘in your face‘ tents — though of course, we had a Jewish, Turkish and Nepali food tents.

Printed Program: C. Par for the course. Nothing special. When we got there at noon I couldn’t find anybody handing them out. I went looking for some and came back with a handful that I gave to people. Why couldn’t this be online as a PDF?



The Performances We Saw

Cinder Conk (Baltic Sea): B. They performed out of sequence at noon because the Burundi Drummers were having car trouble and were late. That was very good of them to step in. Bravo. Just three of them; could have been father and two daughters. Talented musicians and they played some Romani music to which I am very partial. They were, however, low key, low tempo, low energy. They did not have me or the crowd up and hopping. It was very pleasant, soothing chamber music; elevator music with lyrics. That they had the prime noon spot, by accident, did not help them. The sound system did them a grave injustice. I spoke to my two buddies in the sound tent. It all had to do with Cinder Conk being all acoustic. Cranking up the sound resulted in unacceptable feedback on the speakers. They tried. The performers complained — albeit not realizing that they were not being heard towards the back. I would love to have them play at a restaurant. They said they specialize in ‘life events’: weddings, christenings, birthdays etc. They will be excellent for that.

NH Burundi Drummers and Dancers: A-. They certainly energized and entertained the crowd. The kids were enthralled, especially since they had a few very cute, very young dancers. Their high tempo percussion forces you to tap your feet. They were, as ever, fun. I think they felt and looked distracted; car troubles trying to get to a gig can easily do that. I am glad they made it. I am glad we got to hear and see them.

Classical Indian Dance: A+. They have been doing this for a few years now and it gets better each year. Though not Indian, I was very proud and delighted to see the dancing. I have, having spent a lot of time in India, seen a lot of Indian dancing in India. This was good. The crowd appreciated it. A couple of men, thinking that I am Indian, complimented ME on the dancing. Bravo. It would be great if we could have some live Indian musicians to accompany these dancers next year.

RasMoon & Monsoon: B-. I love Reggae and so do the kids. They were good BUT they were no monsoon; more like a Spring shower. Yes, they had some on the floor dancing, but it lacked punch and a compelling beat. Yes, the sound system let them down too. As with all the performances, I walked right up to listen to them close and get some pictures. They sounded better at the back of the bandstand than at the front. That they failed to keep their audience till the end says its own story. A friend who was with us said that people left because it was too loud for them — and that made me feel guilty because I was urging the sound folks to crank it up. But, Reggae isn’t parlor music. It is supposed to be loud, boisterous and exuberant.

As far as we could tell, and we didn’t leave till about 4:20 (because I was chatting with ‘Dem Pols’), there was no Closing Ceremony though there was supposed to be one. That kind of summed up the day, but I am not complaining. It was a good day.

Captivating the next generation is what today was all about.

Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: Finally Found The Program With Times. Get There By Noon.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games At Loon September 21 …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.
Laconia Multicultural Day, NH, September 8, 2012August 18, 2012.

It is 7 pm, the night before … and I checked the Web. Nothing. NADA. Mr. Stamps … what gives? No update. This crucial page has NOT been updated since July 29, 2012. Does NOT bode well.

But, in the end I started going through the back issues of the Laconia Daily Sun. Found this in yesterday’s paper. So we now have it.



Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games At Loon September 21 …, 2012

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
Laconia Multicultural Day, NH, September 8, 2012August 18, 2012.
New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23August 17, 2012.

Japanese Drummers at the Laconia Multicultural Day 2011

I have been visiting their Web site on a regular basis to see if they have a exact schedule indicating when each of the performances will take place. So far, on their ‘Program’ page (and you may have to click on it at least twice to get it to display) they still only have a list of those scheduled to perform this year — sans the times that you can expect to see them. Most likely they will appear in the order listed, with the first performance probably around 11:30 or noon. But, I could be wrong. I know there is the Flag Parade prior to the performances. [I enjoy going to the Web site for another reason. Check out the ‘Home Page‘. Very colorful, graphic and vivid. But, rather than being done as a Web page with HTML (and possibly some scripts) that whole page is but one big image, most likely created in PowerPoint. Nothing wrong with that. I used to teach web site design for SNHU at the post graduate level. This was actually one of the quiz questions I posed to them. Is it possible to create a Web site (or at least some pages) that are but large images. My ‘buddy’ David Stamps who designed this Web site could have gone further. He could have put ‘hot spots’ on that image file so that you could still have links to other pages. I am just glad that I now have an example of an ‘image-as-a-Web page’ that I can show people.]

I have been checking the weather for Laconia for this Saturday. It looks like we might get some rain. The show goes on rain or shine. We have been there in the rain. Given that they have the covered bandstand, one performance tent and another tent for spectators, you can most definitely still enjoy it in the rain. Gets a bit crowded in the tent, but in general it is a great bunch of folks (mainly Democrats) and you can get by. We will probably go even if it rains.




On the other hand the 3-day program for the Highland Games was available today, as a PDF, on their Web site at this link. I printed it out. Last few years we had gone on a Friday or on the Sunday. You get to see the ever so cute sheep dogs and a mixed bag of handlers. This year we can’t do Friday. Teischan can’t miss another day of school, though I doubt anybody could argue the educational benefits of the Games. I am looking at Sunday. The Brigadoons are playing, as ever, at 11:30 am. I have to see the Brigadoons. So that sets me up. 11:30 is a good time for us since it takes us about 3 hours garage-to-performance tent. The program looks light in terms of marquee performers. Yes, Albannach is there. I need to study the schedule more. I do not see a big name or even a Canadian marching band. I will look. Too early yet to check the weather. I have been, at least twice, during hurricanes — and the first time was before they had a Performance Tent.

New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge



The Games are just over a month away. So we as a family kind of start a countdown for the Games. The Laconia Multicultural Day, which in marked contrast to the Games typically tends to get better each year, will come before that. That is also on the calendar. As I said yesterday, I stumbled upon the Games serendipitously in 1997. Other than for the last year when they were being (stupidly) held in Hopkington, when we just couldn’t take going there and sitting in cow sheds (replete with manure), I have been attending yearly. So, I think that is 13 Games I have attended. From 1999 to 2007, I would go for the whole weekend getting there on Friday afternoon — and going to the Friday night concert. Yes, I was there when we had the hurricane. Yes, I have been there in the rain — prior to the days of the Performance (or Concert) Tent. Now we just go for the day — many times on Friday to see the sheep trials.

The kids love it. That is good. In 1997, Matthew was 5. He was hooked. He loved the Games. He attended without fail for the next 8 years. Once he became a teenager other things took priority. Devanee has been going since she was 3. Teischan since she was born; in 2006, 6 months old, we took her, in the rain, in her carriage, for the whole weekend. Devanee and Teischan now start talking about the Games around May.


We didn’t get the usual colorful brochure urging us to pre-buy tickets, at a discount, this year. That is OK. If that saved a tree, all the better. You can get a PDF of the brochure here.

They don’t have the schedule as yet. They say they will have it in early September. That is fair.

I checked the list of performers. All the usual suspects are listed. The perennial Brigadoons are on the list, as they have always been from day one. I like the Brigadoons. Liked them from the first time I heard them. Great group of folks, though the cast list keeps on changing. Jackie, with whom I used to chat each year, died a couple of years ago. That was a shame. He was a delightful guy. All the men really need to lose some weight. Their music is haunting, but I will confess that it is kind of getting ‘old’. They, alas, typify what I THINK is happening to The Games. It is like a slowly leaking helium balloon. It is still inflated, but the gas is slowly leaking out.

The Games, don’t get me wrong, are still FUN. Great value for money. And, NO I am not one of those nostalgics that ALWAYS claim that things in the past were better. No, that is not me. I live for the future. But, the Games LACK the energy they had a decade ago. WAY, WAY more commercialized than it was. Yes, that is inevitable. It used to be much more spontaneous — a block party. Yes, as the commercial side has grown they have to regimentalize the show. So, yes, you can’t have the Glengarry Bhoys doing their own impromptu jam in the parade ground on Sunday afternoon. But, that was fun. So much energy. Yes, Albannach (the recreated Clanna Drumma) still try to bring some life to The Games. Very nice bunch of guys and one girl. Great personality. Will stop and chat with each and every. But …

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who were shown on NBC during the Olympics, are not there anymore. Always happens. As soon as a group makes it big — it is adieus The Games. Seven Nations entertained us for a few years. They are gone.

Well, we will still be going, unless there is a 3 day hurricane over the weekend. I don’t think I can do that again. There is a chance that I will ramble on more about The Games before they start.