On Friday evening, January 10, 2020, we got the shocking news that Neil Peart, drummer for the band Rush, had died. He had died the previous Tuesday, January 7, but the announcement came days later. Like many people, I consider Peart to be the greatest drummer of all time.
My cousin Mark introduced me to Rush in 1980 after the release of Moving Pictures. Even at the age of 12, I could tell this band was composed of amazing musicians. I don’t play an instrument myself, but have always been drawn to the drums. And Neil was the best.
During Rush’s nearly 3-hour shows, Peart would include an extensive drum solo. Towards the last ten years, Peart played some form of this solo. This version is from the R30 (30th anniversary) tour around 2004.
So Peart not only bangs on the drums and cymbals, but he plays an electronic MIDI percussion mallet controller (MalletKAT) like a vibraphone with his sticks.
Here is another version of the drum solo, called “The Rhythm Method” from 1997.
Of course, the first famous Neil Peart drum solo appeared in the middle of the song “YYZ” on the live Exit… Stage Left album from 1981. In the middle of a difficult solo, he plays a little song on toms and cowbells.
In addition to his playing (and lyrics) for Rush, Peart created a tribute album to Buddy Rich. In this video he plays a much simpler drum setup in a jazz format, but also includes an extensive solo, some of it taken from the “YYZ” solo.
Neil confined most of his recorded work to Rush, but he did release a few solo works. The best of these was a song called “Pieces of Eight” composed entirely of drums and percussion (including his MalletKAT). It was included as a sound supplement to the May 1987 issue of Modern Drummer.
Neil had already retired from the band, and Rush had ended in 2018. But now we certainly know there will be no more amazing performance by Neil Peart.
Peart was also an author, writing several travel memoirs. He rode his BMW motorcycle all over the world and wrote about it in books such as Ghost Rider (North and Central America), The Masked Rider (Africa), Far and Away, and Far and Near.
For 2020 I redesigned my website homepage and freshened up the site. It had been virtually unchanged for about four years. During the redesign, I had a look back to all of my previous websites; I have kept an archive of all major updates since 1996. Here are 20 screenshots of the homepage for my website covering 24 years. We’ll start at the present and go backwards in Web time.
Here is the new homepage launched on 1/1/2010. It has a rotating image gallery corresponding to the eight main pages.
Seven simple “activity icons” linking to seven pages: Library, Writing, Reading, Hiking, MINI, Beer, and Gallery.
Despite moving to WordPress in 2014, I still wanted to keep a static homepage that I could design however I wanted. I also wanted it to be responsive and use only div tags for placement. This was the original “activity icons” homepage before the addition of a Hiking page and a Gallery.
Windows 8 was released in late 2012. For this version of my website I wanted to simulate a Windows desktop experience. So my homepage was made to resemble a Windows login screen. No password was required to enter; simply click the yellow <enter> button.
My homepage for 2012 was again very simple with a single photo (taken at a portal window on a cruise ship). However, links to the five main pages were not still, they moved randomly around the screen, so you had to chase them with your mouse.
The original version with my cruise ship photo and a row of links that did not move.
Again, my homepage was a simple, centered image with a row of links below. This one was the final version using my South Park image, a rotating image of me standing, reading, and holding a beer inside the Seattle Public Library where I had visited recently. This page has my favorite background color (#86abc8) of all of them.
In early 2006 I created this placeholder homepage. It had the first version of my South Park image. After black and grey backgrounds, I wanted a bright color for this page, thus the vivid blue. The site had no content.
This homepage was inspired by science textbooks and modern art, influenced by Douglas Coupland’s website at the time. I kept the background dark grey so the colors would stand out. Clicking on the colored balls took you to the page listed in the legend below.
Always a minimalist design: a title, row of links, and a rotating image gallery in the middle. The image shown was a scanned, reversed, and manipulated scan of a sheet of bubble-wrap. Instead of a row of links separated by pipes, I imitated a math equation.
The original version had a row of text links above a rotating image gallery. The image shown was a real Spin Art Maker paining, scanned and color-inverted. All of the images were negative images of my photos and found graphics. This was the first design after moving to my own domain jamesday.net.
This homepage was very minimal with the only text being my name in a modern, purple sans-serif font. Each of the four square panes were mystery links, becoming negative upon hover. This was the first version on my Road Runner address at home.cfl.rr.com/jamesday.
The first version used a green serif font. This homepage launched in late 2000.
This version is starting to look like an “old-fashioned” Web 1.0 homepage. But all of the links were graphics, laid out in a grid. The photo was an arty black and white taken by an artist friend in the backyard of my house in Orlando
The original version of my early 2000 homepage using an older photo. HTML tables were still new at this time, so I took advantage of one to lay out my graphical links in rows and columns. A current trend was keeping the homepage to a single screen, with no scrolling, which was done here.
Late 1990s homepages were long pages, often laid out like a document. This version had a black background but the right-justified photo was a new feature. I used bright yellow links. This was the last homepage with an “Updated” date.
Here is an earlier 1998 version without my photo.
This homepage from late 1997 was the beginning of a long line of black-background homepages. I had started my first librarian job so it was kept short and professional (for the times), though I had the personal touch of including my girlfriend at the time in my main photo and links. My niece, Taylor, had just been born, so I added a link to a webpage I created announcing her birth.
This version shouts World Wide Web 1.0. It was the last version with a repeating background image. Although the date at the bottom shows “February 21, 1997” this version was actually from late 1997 (but before the version above). This was the first version at www.cflc.net/~jday.
This is the first version of my homepage from August 1996. It was created while I was in Library school. Notice the classic early animated “Under construction” sign and the Netscape 2.0 badge! No frames because frames were bad. But in 1996 just having a webpage with graphics was still fairly new.
My mom was a very early adopter of AOL using a dial-up modem, so I had access to online services as a teenager. Since the day in the UCF library when I first heard about the Internet and World Wide Web, I was fascinated. A friend gave me a floppy disk containing the Mosiac browser along with TCP/IP stack software that needed to be loaded before accessing the Web. I had the eighth student email address at UCF which I purchased at the bookstore for $25! And as I explored the Web, I knew I had to have my small place on it. I also saw how the Web was going to fundamentally change libraries and that started me considering a career as a librarian instead of engineering. I wanted in at the beginning.
A few days before the end of the year (2019) my friend A. sent me a message saying she wanted to search for rocks and shells at Ponce Inlet on New Year’s Day. The weather was expected to be good, so we made plans. I met her at the shop where she dropped off her car for some work and we drove the twenty minutes down to Ponce Inlet. We climbed on the boulders, A. looking for rocks and me taking photos.
This rock had flakes of silver color that shone in the sun, which A. liked.
I liked the lighthouse and worked to find the best angle to photograph it.
After a few hours we decided to hike a short bit of Ponce Preserve. I had already hiked the entire park for one of my 50 hikes, but A. had not been there before.
We worked up an appetite, we put the top down and headed to Mellow Mushroom in Port Orange. Both of us really enjoyed our lunch. On the way home, A. got a message that her car was ready so I returned her to the shop. The day out was a relaxing, low-key way to start the new year.
Living in the small town of Daytona Beach, I don’t get to enjoy a lot of live music. But in 2017 my boss introduced me to a local punk bank called SHOT OUT. George, Rob, Furey, and Jon put on a fun show, four geeks not taking themselves too seriously and who clearly enjoy playing together. That night I bought their eponymous six-track CD.
I saw them play a few more times in various venues in 2018 and 2019. They frequently played in an Irish pub called Tir na nOg. Here they are in 2018.
They played at Rok Bar, a larger venue, in February 2019.
The last show I saw of them as a quartet was back at Tir na nOg in July 2019.
In mid-December 2019 we were shocked to hear of the sudden death of George Chenoweth. George was the main songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist for SHOT OUT. Their scheduled show for December 20, 2019 at Tir na nOg turned into a tribute show. They played as a trio but still sounded great, definitely a bittersweet show.
Immediately after the show, SHOT OUT released their first full-length album called Tails from the Shite Factory Volume 1 on SoundCloud.
Furey told me that before he died George and the band had written another album’s worth of songs. They plan to record Tails from the Shite Factory Volume 2 in early 2020. It’s unclear whether they will continue to play live shows, but we hope they will.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus is home to several colonies of cats. Some are friendly while others avoid people. Before we moved into the new library in 2018, I sometime sat outside the temporary library during lunch. Often I would be surrounded by cats and I usually gave them some of my lunch: fish, turkey, and chicken. Around that time, some students, with the support of faculty and staff, formed a club to help feed and care for the campus cats. They called it P.A.W.S. or the Protecting Animal Wellness Society.
P.A.W.S. placed and maintained a few feeding stations around campus. Periodically the students trap and release cats after getting them their checkups, shots, and spaying or neutering. They foster kittens and find permanent homes for cats that are suitable for adoption. For wild cats, they return them to campus.
Students run P.A.W.S. but we faculty and staff help support them financially. Each year I give a few hundred dollars. Normally, students keep the feeding stations filled with food and water, but during this Winter Break when most students are away from campus, local staff were asked to sign up to feed the cats. Because I would be in town, I volunteered to take several evening feeding times.
My first time feeding the cats was Monday, December 16, 2019, directly after leaving work. I had been given a list of instructions along with the combination for the several locks on the feeding station. I found the station against the rear wall of the fitness center. Although the cats still had dry food, they gathered around me, eager to get their dinner of wet catfood. On this occasion, only one silver-striped cat let me pet it. But I refilled the bowls with dry food, portioned out the food from the can, and cleaned and refilled the large water bowls. I counted six cats.
I was scheduled for the following evening, but the weather was rainy. Patty, the P.A.W.S. staff coordinator, texted me to say that she had looked after them at lunchtime so it wasn’t necessary to go in the rain. So I missed one feeding.
My final scheduled feeding was Wednesday, December 18. Because this was a half-workday, I had to return to campus in the evening. At least the weather was good. Again the cats swarmed around me while I prepared dinner. This time, three black / black and white cats let me scratch their backs while they waited. Fed and watered, I locked the station and snapped a few more photos. I think there were five cats this day.
I enjoyed participating in Heart Walk 2018, so when the event was announced for 2019, I quickly signed up. Last year a Hunt Library team was formed after a few of us had already signed up for ERAU, so this time I immediately created the Hunt Library Team and invited my colleagues to join. Due to previous commitments and other reasons, only my boss Suzanne and I could walk. However, Hunt Library staff donated a total of $320 to the American Heart Association.
One of the reasons I like this event is that I get to drive into the infield and even on part of the road course of the Daytona International Speedway, where the event takes place. After parking in the garage area, we signed in and gathered in the Fanzone for snacks, photos, and instructions.
At 6:30 pm the walk began. Suzanne likes to run instead, so as soon as we entered the track on pit road, she jogged off. I joined the crowd of walkers heading down pit road, taking in the sights of the Speedway.
For the next hour I briskly walked around the oval track, again enjoying the rare chance to be on the tarmac of the famous Daytona International Speedway. The weather was perfect.
At the finish back in the Fanzone I found Suzanne. She reported on her run and I described my walk. We grabbed some water and left the Fanzone. Walking to my car, I noticed an open space in front of the row of garages. So I asked the security guard if I could park my car for a quick photoshoot, and he agreed. I parked in front of garages and took several great photos. That completed, I drove back down part of the road course, through the tunnel, and exited the Speedway. A fun and productive Friday night.
The time has flown since I purchased my Porsche Boxster on June 26, 2019. In the two months since then, I have greatly enjoyed driving and also just looking at the thing, to be honest. I drive it to work on sunny days and have taken the Boxster on a few short trips.
But in that period I haven’t taken the time to do some of the basic things you’d do with a new car. I added only one radio station to the ones preset by the dealership and didn’t activate the satellite radio. I hadn’t paired my mobile phone with the car. I hadn’t changed any of the default settings on the displays or configured its optional features. I hadn’t even taken the Porsche on an extended drive just because. I barely tested the Sport mode. Although I actually did RTFM.
So on August 26, exactly two months after bringing the Porsche Boxster home, I decided to devote the day to getting to know my car.
I started with the center display screen functions. Although I don’t expect to use this feature much, I paired my mobile phone with the car using Bluetooth. It was a simple process. After checking my preset radio stations in the MINI, I set the same stations in the Porsche. Finally, I jotted down the satellite radio ID so I could activate it online later.
After reviewing the owner’s manual for the programmable features, I went through the menu and set a few options such as the folding mirrors, auto door locking, warning volume, and the multi-function display items. I checked the oil level and tire pressures on the display. (Note the outdoor temperature of 107°F!)
My building’s parking lot is gated and I had been using a clunky, ancient-looking remote control to open the gates. No more. I programmed one of the Porsche’s HomeLink buttons to open the gates. So much better!
The next order of business was to wash the car. Due to the soft-top, Porsche doesn’t recommend putting the Boxster through an automatic carwash. So I have been hand-washing the car and today would be its third bath. I washed and dried the car, taking extra time on its wheels and under the rear spoiler.
The day was hot, so a drive and photoshoot would have to wait until evening. There is a scenic and partly curvy road nearby, known to bikers and car clubs, called The Loop. Around 6:30 pm, I set off up Beach Street, top down, in the warm evening. I began The Loop at Granada Boulevard, driving north on Old Dixie Highway with no traffic ahead of me. I turned right on Walter Boardman Road and then again on Highbridge Road which winds its way along the edge of Bulow Creek. Here I pulled off the road to take a few photos.
I continued on Highbridge. There are two ways to complete The Loop, either along the river on John Anderson Drive or along the beach on A1A. Since I hoped to take some photos by the ocean, I continued to A1A and stopped at the parking lot where the roads meet. Here I took more photos above the beach.
The sun was setting soon and I had one more stop for photos I hoped to make. So I cruised south on A1A enjoying the cool wind and the ocean views. At Granada Boulevard I turned right and crossed the bridge, completing The Loop. A few blocks further I made a U-turn, then pulled up in front of the Ormond Garage. This was an historic garage but recently turned into a bar and grill. Since I was parked illegally, I left the Boxster running while I quickly took a few photos, dodging traffic on Granada.
Photos completed, I jumped in the car and headed back home along Riverside Drive and Beach Street, arriving just before 8:00 pm. During this drive I passed 1,000 miles since purchase and will be writing a review of the car soon.
Due to the hotter Florida Summer weather, I had not hiked in three months. But I had a day off and this park was nearby and sounded promising. I didn’t get a really early start, arriving to the park around 11:40 am after a 20-minute drive.
The book lists two hikes in the preserve. The first is Spruce Creek Bluffs, a 5.6-mile loop trail, which is what I did. The second is Spruce Creek Park / Rose Bay, a short out-and-back plus a loop, for another 2.6 miles. The total hiking distance is 8.2 miles.
The Spruce Creek Bluffs area has trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The beginning of the trail from the West Trailhead was used by hikers and bikers. After just a few minutes on the trail, I decided I would have to come back in the Fall with my mountainbike. Although there were lots of bike tracks, I could tell by the number of spiderwebs that no bikes had been there in the recent past.
The first ten or 15 minutes were pleasant enough. But soon I was swatting at the occasional horsefly. As I kept walking along the winding perimeter trail, the frequency of the horseflies increased. I soon reached Bailout A, the first of three connecting trails to the main Bluff Trail, used to quickly return to the trailhead.
I continued north along the very winding perimeter trail. The amount of horseflies steadily increased to the point where I was exercising my arms nearly as much as my legs. I passed Bailout B with the brief thought of taking it. I optimistically trudged on. The conditions got worse so that when I reached Bailout C, I seriously considered abandoning the hike and returning to my car.
I hadn’t quite reached the scenic bluffs, the main attraction of this hike, so I kept going. I was walking quickly, just trying to get trough this section. The view at Sunset Point was nice, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. When I stopped walking for any length of time, the horseflies really swarmed. I had a quick look and snapped a few photos.
At Sunset Point the perimeter trail meets the main Bluff Trail that goes back south. I headed down it hoping the conditions here would improve. They didn’t, at first. I don’t normally carry the 50 Hikes in Central Florida book with me, but on this day I was glad I did. I knew there were lots of crossing trails and there was the potential to take a wrong turn; I nearly did two or three times. The written directions in the book helped a lot.
The second half of the Bluff Trail got better. It was mostly shaded and the horseflies nearly stopped buzzing my head. After about 3.5 miles, I reached 6 Corners. As its name suggests, it was the juncture of six trails. I turned left and began the well-marked Overlook Trail. The horseflies returned and I actually jogged a portion of this trail to lessen the annoyance and complete it quicker. This trail reached Spruce Creek and provided two good overlooks of the river and marsh (see photo, at top).
After quickly enjoying the views, I continued on, wanting to finish this hike as soon as possible. The time was after 1:00 pm and the day was beginning to get warm. However, the most miserable part of the hike was still to come. The next segment was a trail along powerlines, which meant a straight trail in thick sand, in the hot sunshine, and still swarming with horseflies. Breathing harder here, I actually inhaled and swallowed a couple horseflies. Yuck.
Here was another place I nearly missed my turn. There were two service/equestrian trails that went off to the right that I was not supposed to take. I passed them. But the second also included my needed perimeter trail which I passed. After checking the book and my hiking app, I turned around and found the correct trail. I was hot and exhausted at this point. Fortunately the final 3/4 mile was shaded and the horseflies abated. At the end, I had never been more happy to be finished with a day-hike.
Sitting in my MINI, I cooled down and changed shoes and shirt. I looked in the rearview mirror, startled to see seven bloody dots on my forehead and cheek. Horsefly bites. I could only guess the number on my back. I did my best to wash off the blood. I also decided I was done hiking for the day, the second hike would have to wait until tomorrow.
Since I was done hiking for the day, it was time to get my reward. I planned my return drive to pass by downtown New Smyrna Beach and a stop at New Smyrna Brewing. It was nearing 3:00 pm and I worried they might not yet be open. A quick search on my phone told me they opened at 3:00 pm. Perfect! I found the men’s room, washed my face and arms, found a corner bar seat, and ordered a flight of beers (numbered right-to-left).
The next day I motored down to Spruce Creek Park to complete part two of the hike. I was hopeful that conditions would be better closer to the coast. I was wrong. I found the trailhead and walked the long wooden boardwalk to the start of the trail to Rose Bay. However, as soon as I started down the sandy trail the horseflies swarmed again. Quickly deciding that I wasn’t putting myself through more torture, I turned around and returned to my car. I will return sometime in the Fall to complete this short hike.
If you know me or have browsed my website, you’ll already know that my most recent previous car (in addition to my older MINI Cooper) was a MINI John Cooper Works Coupe. While I like the sporty, yet practical, hatchback MINI Cooper, I have always preferred the two-seat sportscar. I don’t have a family or the need to haul many people or large items. This preference is why I bought the MINI Coupe in 2011 and the Porsche Boxster this year (2019). Despite the Porsche being a convertible, the two cars have several similarities.
Both cars are two-seaters and relatively small and lightweight. They are true driver’s cars with excellent steering, handling, and braking. Both cars employ active rear spoilers. Both have excellent six-speed manual transmissions. Although very different, the two cars each produce a distinct, aggressive engine noise; the MINI pops while the Porsche growls. My Porsche 981 has the traditional flat-six engine, but the current Boxster 982 (and its hardtop sibling the Cayman) has a turbocharged four-cylinder like the MINI JCW. The MINI JCW Hardtop and Porsche Cayman used to compete against each other in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class until 2018.
The biggest difference is in the layout: the MINI JCW Coupe has its longitudinally-mounted engine up front, while the Porsche Boxster has a mid-engine configuration. The MINI is front-wheel drive; the Porsche is rear-wheel drive. Two different philosophies with each having its benefits and drawbacks.
Here are the numbers for comparison.
MINI JCW Coupe
Porsche Boxster 981
148.0″ (3,734 mm)
172.2″ (4,374 mm)
Width without mirrors
66.3″ (1,683 mm)
70.9″ (1,801 mm)
Width with mirrors
75.3″ (1,913 mm)
77.9″ (1,987 mm)
54.5″ (1,384 mm)
50.5″ (1,282 mm)
97.1″ (2,466 mm)
97.4″ (2,475 mm)
2,701 lb (1,225 kg)
2,888 lb (1,310 kg)
Engine and Transmission
Type and Displacement
Inline 4 Cylinder
Flat 6 Cylinder
208 hp @ 6,000 rpm
265 hp @ 6,700 rpm
192 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,600 rpm
207 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
12.4″ Ventilated Disc
12.4″ Ventilated Disc
11.0″ Ventilated Disc
11.8″ Ventilated Disc
Wheels and Tires
17″ x 7″ Alloy – F
17″ x 7″ Alloy – R
18″ x 8″ Alloy – F
18″ x 9″ Alloy – R
205/45-R17 – F
205/45-R17 – R
235/45-ZR18 – F
265/45-ZR18 – R
Base Price (MSRP) New (With Destination Charge)
149 mph (240 km/h)
163 mph (264 km/h)
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined)
[Sources: MINI USA website, MINI USA News, Porsche Boxster Owner’s Manual, Porsche Boxster Window Sticker.]
After I bought my loft in December 2017, I began thinking about buying a new car. After researching the new car market, including MINI, I decided that nothing in my price range really interested me. Since the time I was a kid, I have always wanted to own a Porsche. So, about a year ago I started doing some research on the Porsche Cayman. The reviews of the car were excellent and I decided to try to find a recent (Generation 3 or 981 in Porsche-speak) with low miles. I had one requirement: the car had to have a 6-speed manual transmission.
In early June I spotted a 2015 Porsche Cayman in white with low miles that seemed perfect. But it was an automatic. I decided to go have a look at it at Porsche South Orlando and maybe test-drive it. Maybe it would change my mind. When I arrived, someone was just taking it out, so I went inside to speak to a salesman. I gave him my preferred specifications and he told me about a 2013 Porsche Boxster with a manual transmission that had just been sold to the dealership. Did I want to have a look? I hadn’t really considered a Boxster, which is the convertible version of the Cayman, but I thought it was worth viewing. So I followed him up to the large parking garage at the back of the building.
The Boxster was a beautiful Dark Blue Metallic with a dark blue top in nearly new condition. It was indeed a 6-speed manual. Plus, it had very few miles by the one previous owner, an older gentleman in his 70s who owned several Porsches and used this one on sunny days to drive to the golf club. I liked the car and its history, but I still wasn’t sure that a convertible was right for me. So I left.
The following week I received a message from the Porsche dealership asking if I wanted to test-drive the Boxster. Since I had an appointment at Orlando MINI for an oil change that coming Friday, I decided to go try the Boxster. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I began the drive with the top up before retracting it on the way back. I really liked how the Boxster handled, shifted, and sounded with its mid-engine flat-six engine. I expected the the car to feel big and heavy, but it drove very similar to my previous MINI JCW Coupe.
Again, although I loved the looks and enjoyed the feel of the Boxster, I still wasn’t sure a convertible was for me. So I left again. But I kept thinking about the Boxster.
In the meantime, I did some more searching and research. I realized that a manual Cayman (or Boxster) with my other specifications might be hard to find. I was buying the car for fun, and I live in Florida near the beach. When the salesman sent me a message the following week asking if I had any general questions (they were not aggressive at all), I made them an offer a few thousand less than the asking price. I didn’t have anything to lose. But they accepted my offer and I quickly put a deposit on the car.
The first available day I had to go back to Porsche South Orlando was Wednesday, June 26. I took the afternoon off work, left my MINI Cooper in my parents’ driveway, and drove down to the dealership with my dad. We had another look over the car. My dad, Jim, a retired auto-body technician, was impressed with the like-new condition of the car. I signed all the papers (twice, due to a small error on their part), and was the owner of a Porsche Boxster! I took a few photos at the dealership before heading home in my new purchase.
When I left, it was nearing rush-hour and traffic through Orlando was terrible. But it was a beautiful day and I was just getting adjusted to the car. Once I escaped the suburbs of north Orlando, it was open Interstate back to Daytona Beach. Then I could really enjoy driving the car. Once I reached the local streets of Daytona Beach, I lowered the top and drove the rest of the way home.
Since it was a sunny day and there were several spaces blocked off in front of my building, I decided to have an impromptu photoshoot.
Because my building was being painted, all cars had to park in the guest lot. Including mine. A few days later I spoke to the painters who assured me that my car would be fine parked in the covered lot. Only then could I finally could rest easy knowing my Porsche was safe at home. And I have already decided that buying the convertible was the right choice. I am thoroughly happy with my choice of the Porsche Boxster. I’m sure there will many adventures to come.