Mysteries and No Wonders

Caught a glimpse of something shiny on the carpet. Found this on the floor beside my dining table. No idea what it is or where it came from. My best guess is that somebody lost it, and it was on it’s way to Plainview (where all lost things go to be found) and it overshot the runway. . .

I had just woken up when my brain broadsided me with this scene set in a story in progress. Didn’t dare wait for the desktop to boot up. Just grabbed a piece of paper out of the printer and a bp pen to put it someplace where I could find it again. No wonder word processing is so much better than writing in longhand.

Oops! I Did It Again!

Wrote another shawl pattern based on the Sweet Irene shawl pattern, but incorporating that nifty edge thing from the Paris Toujours shawl by Isabell Kraemer. Only took about 8 hours and about 15 false starts to get the numbers to come out right. (I have a “renmant” ball of scrap yarn I use for pattern testing. When the end of it gets too frayed from being frogged and reknit too many times, I just cut it off and throw it away. Once I’ve got the pattern how I like it, I switch to the yarn I intend to use for it.)

That poor variegated mulberry sock yarn was so disappointed when I frogged out the Paris Toujours start I did using it, and I felt so sorry for it. (And if you believe that, I can get you a great deal on this low-mileage, one-owner bridge in New York . . .). Anyway, I’m giving the new pattern a real artsy-fartsy name with a classical Greek reference — “Waves in a Wine Dark Sea”. It has that nifty edge detail on both sides, not just on the one side like the Paris Toujours

I’m moving right along on the Short, Sweet and Nubby shawl. I’ve decided to put a “self” triple knotted fringe on each end. I have two more regular pull skeins of that yarn, as well as a “super skein,”so I ought to have plenty of yarn for it

I think that kind of fring will look nice on it. I’ll have to find something of appropriate diameter to knot the fringe around to insure all the knots are uniform. That’ll be a fun project when I get to that point.

Today was one of those days when I wish I had magical powers like Samantha on “Bewitched.” Just wriggle my nose, bwika-bwika-bwika! and have it all done.

While I was at the computer working on the above shawl pattern, I looked over at my clock and the clock’s thermometer showed it was 82 F (27.7 C) in my office. Shortly after that, the AC came on, which means it was 80 F (26.6 C) in the hallway by the AC thermostat. I’ve already got one of my pedestal fans set to blow across my bed. Guess I’ll have to go get one of the other ones out and set it to blow across the chair at my computer desk. Stand by for electric bills that are higher than giraffe’s ears again. At least we made it to May before we started to get consistently hot weather.

Well., I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Although all I’ve done all day was sit and knit, my poor little grey cells have gotten quite a workout.

This Is A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of folks out there are upset with WordPress for changing over to the new “block(head) editor.”   For those “Classics” like me who prefer the classic editor and are driven nuts by the “new way,” here’s my WordPress work around.

  1. Create a new post, give it a title, then save it as a draft and x out of it.
  2. Pull up the blog again, click on the “W” in the upper left corner to get a drop-down menu and choose “WP Admin.”
  3. From the “Posts” menu, choose “All posts” which brings up a list of posts.
  4. Find the one that you just created and select “classic editor” and go from there.

It’s called “The Columbus Method.” Going east by sailing west. I think WordPress changed things to make it easier to create posts using smart phones. By doing so, they made it harder for everybody else.  It’s the revenge of the millennials. Resistance is Futile.

(Of course, now that I’ve posted it, those yahoos at WordPress will remove the classic editor altogether.)

Thinky Thoughts and Bowls

“The great secret that all old people share,” wrote Doris Lessing, “is that you really don’t change in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.”

I love that quote.  It’s spot on.

I paired the Bluetooth earbuds with my iPhone and I’ve been listening to the Suburbs of Goa channel of the SomaFM internet radio station all evening.  (SomaFM has so much music in one place! I love it so much!)  Energized by the music, I folded unmentionables and other assorted laundry, put the dressing in the oven to cook, read blogs at the computer, worked a puzzle at Jigsaw Planet, all with my iPhone on charge in the bedroom and me wandering all over the house with music in my ears.  No dangling earbud wires to catch on stuff, no need to make sure I have a pocket or pouch to carry my phone.  Joy electric.  I have a set of cordless infrared headphones for the TV, but infrared is line of sight only, and the moment you get out of sight, you get an earful of white noise.   As inexpensive as these Bluetooth earbuds are, maybe Santa will bring me a pair for the TV for Crimmers.

Sunday night’s supper was the end of the chili casserole.  Good to the last elbow.  Monday, I went to the cabinet to get a bowl for some cereal and guess what.  The cupboard was bare.  Fortunately, the dishwasher wasn’t, and had finished its cycle some hours ago.






Now I’ve started in on the cornbread dressing, chicken breast meat, and cranberry sauce that are standing in for the “leftovers” I didn’t get to have because we ate Thanksgiving dinner at friends’.  I’m having them now.   So good.

Speaking of bowls, I have bowls of knitting scattered all over the house . . . Guess that means I have my knitting mojo back.

Two bowls by the computer.

A second iPouch with earbud pocket in progress and a bowl of yarn for Christmas balls (Julekuler).

The large rectangular shawl in the big basket with the reader’s shrug stalled at the start of the lower sleeve decreases.

Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone.

Yes, I’m having another “ooooh, shiny!” moment, but what a way to start a bittersweet, socially-distanced Tuesday . . .

There is a reason why the music of camel cultures is rhythmically different than the music of horse cultures.  (The music of Spain is a blend of the two cultures.)  Horses walk by moving the hind foot that is diagonal to the front foot that just stepped — left front, right hind, right front, left hind.  This gait produces a steady 1-2-3-4 beat = 4/4 time.  It meshes seamlessly with the 1-2-1-2 = 2/4 time of a person walking.  You hear this rhythmic pattern all through the music of Western culture.  But there are three animals that have a unique walking gait — they walk to the beat of a different drum, if you will.  The front and back legs on the same side move instead of on the diagonal — right rear, right front, left rear, left front.  Those three animals are the giraffe, the cat*, and — the camel.

Compare the rhythm of the horse:

with the rhythm of the camel:

Horses rock with a front to back motion as they walk (just like a rocking horse); camels sway with a side to side motion as they walk — riding a camel for the first time actually makes some people seasick!  But listen to the sway in the deep drum beat.

Compare it to that good-ol’ Human two-step:

*Remember that Henry Mancini Pink Panther theme?  That da-dum da-dum figure that keeps repeating throughout --  It's the rhythm  that a cat's feet would make if you could hear their silent tread.

Oh, Noes!

The day before my birthday, we had a power glitch, my desktop computer went off despite the surge protector/battery backup and then refused to boot back up.  According to my friendly neighborhood computer guru, it’s either the power supply, or the mother board.   He has ordered a new power supply which won’t be here until next weekend.  If that doesn’t fix it, I will have to buy another desktop computer and he will either transplant my hard drives into it or clone them. Oh, the weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!

In the meantime, I am reduced to attempting to deal with the internet using the equivalent of flint knives and bear skins* (a Kindle Fire 10-inch tablet and this jicky little Fintie Bluetooth keyboard). For someone who has been a touch typist of respectable speed since 10th grade,  going from my Logitech Gamer Keyboard to typing on that little Cracker Jack prize of a keyboard is like trading in your Mercedes Benz for a skateboard..

All my creative writing, including the story I desperately want to work on, is on that hard drive that I cannot get to.  All my knitting patterns (except those I have print copies of or have posted on my knitting blog) are on that hard drive.  All the blogs and webcomics I follow are all neatly accessed on the feed reader on that hard drive.  I do all my bill paying over the internet, and all the user names and passwords to get onto those bill-paying sites are on that hard drive.  I could gather my bills and take my life in my hands (I am in so many COVID high risk categories it’s not funny) and go to a local grocery store and the local cable office and pay them in person (except my car insurance).  I pay my rent online through my banking app — on that hard drive.

I did catch one tiny break.  WordPress has an Android app. . . .

My brand new birthday computer chair, and no point in sitting in it.  There’s irony for you.  Happy Birthday to me!


*That is a Spock quote from Star Trek the original series.  If memory serves me correctly, it was the episode entitled, "The City on the Edge of Forever."  The one with Joan Collins.  Spock was attempting to MacGyver a way to access data on a damaged tricorder using vacuum tube technology. I feel you, bro.

Getting a Handel on this Quarantine Business

Bored with quarantine yet?  Thought so.

This  is a video of a recording session for a very under-appreciated duet from one of Handel’s operas, “Giulio Cesare” first performed in 1724.  (Never heard of Handel?  Oh, I bet you’ve heard his greatest hit.)  I thought you might like to play a little mind game.   Position your mouse over the play arrow, but close your eyes before you click it.  Wait till after the harmony bit,  until they get to the bit where they sing individually.  Periodically see if you can guess who is singing, then open your eyes and see if you’re right.

Philippe Jaroussky is a French countertenor.  His voice falls within in the very highest male vocal range, the male equivalent of a soprano.   Nathalie Stutzmann, on the other hand, is a contralto.  She is singing in the very lowest female vocal range, the female equivalent of a bass.

OK.  So, in this next  blast from the past (1791*), the lady with the spikey crown is The Queen of the Night (Diana Damrau), and she is not a happy camper.  Her  little rant, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” is one of those virtuoso,  blow-the-dust-off-the-chandeliers numbers.  What it is, actually, is Mozart’s take on a royal hissy fit.  In German.

In the interest of equal time, lets have some pyrotechnics from the men.  This is a little number called “Vo solcando un mar crudele” from the opera “Artaserse” by Leonardo Vinci (no, not that one) first performed in 1730** The role of Arbace is being wrestled to the ground here by countertenor Franco Fagioli.  This 2012 French production is remarkable for its period accuracy:  All the female roles (that would have been sung by castrati back in the day) were sung by male countertenors in drag, and the singers’ costumes are period accurate.  Seriously.  Grown men used to walk around in public, in broad daylight dressed just like this guy, makeup and all.  (Both men and women wore heavy, clown-white make up in those days.  Mostly to cover up small pox scars.)

Yeah, they make faces when they sing. They’re using their mouths and faces to focus and project their voices in much the same way a traditional stage actor does.  If you’ll notice, these singers don’t use mikes for performances.  This is opera.  You’d better put on your big boy knee breeches, because if you can’t hit those high C’s up into the nosebleed seats, you might as well take your ball and bat and go home.

One more by Handel.  “Addio, mio caro bene” from the opera “Teseo” first performed in 1713.*** This time with mezzo soprano Natalia Kawałek countertenor  Jakub Józef Orliński.  This duet is about lovers saying goodbye as he goes off to war.

I’m throwing this next one in because I have the whole opera on CD with Natalie Dessay in the title role.  Lakme was first performed in 1883*#.  Listen to the echoes she gets in the concert hall. You’ve probably heard something else from this opera on a movie soundtrack or two (like the love scene between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger, and more recently, in films such as Meet the Parents and True Romance).  But this is the aria that brings home the bacon.

Ballet is serious, highbrow stuff.  Right? Um, no. . .

*1791 -- the French have been revolting since 1789, Louis XVI is still on the throne, but not for long.  The Americans have won their revolution (1783) but are still trying to figure out this states thing and which end is up.  Geo. Washington is in the third year of his first term as President. 

**1730  The year the city of Baltimore, Maryland was founded.  A year before  Benjamin Franklin founds the first  public library in America in Philadelphia.  Geo. Washington will not be born for another two years. 

***1713 In America the first of the French and Indian wars begins.  The treaty of Utrecht ends the war of the Spanish Succession and puts this guy on the Spanish throne. 

#*1883  Chester A. Arthur is President.  The Brooklyn Bridge is finished and opened for traffic.  The first Rodeo takes place in Pecos, Texas.  Americans began raising funds to build a base for the Statue of Liberty a year ago. My maternal great great grandmother, who immigrated to Texas from Saxony (Germany) at age 6, died two years ago, as did her youngest child, a daughter, aged 2. My maternal grandmother will not be born for another three years. 

Random Bounces Off The Wall

OK.  Microwave controls vs. food package instructions.  If you cook something in the microwave for 1 minute, the microwave timer counts down from 60. So, if the food package says to cook something for, say, 4-1/2 minutes, do you set the timer for 4.50 (half a minute = 0.50 minute) or 4.30 (half of 1 minute (60 seconds) = 30 seconds)?  Somebody in the food industry (or the microwave industry, not sure which) has really dropped the ball here.  You’d think they’d put the microwave times on the package directions the way you should punch them in on the microwave controls, for crying out loud!

Had to share this because priceless.



Wish I Was There

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I have a “double barreled” setup — a desktop PC with two 21-inch monitor screens.

Let me digress:  I was a medical transcriptionist (typing reports dictated by doctors for hospital medical records) for nearly 30 years before I hung up my foot pedal.  I worked “in-house” for the first six of those years — went to the hospital to a room in medical records that had a large computerized dictation machine that was hooked to word processors and a pair of printers.  I worked from 2 pm to 10 pm, put on makeup, dressed professionally, packed a lunch, drove to and from work, etc.  But then, entrepreneurs took advantage of these large computerized dictation machines to set up companies with server farms that could connect through the phone lines to serve hospitals all over the country.  It also meant that they could hire people all over the country to connect to the server farms over the phone lines and work from home to type up the dictation and send it back to whichever hospital they were working for at the time.  For most of my working life (until the advent of DSL), I had two home phone lines and my computer had its own phone.

This was back in the day when the internet still went SKWEE SQUAW tweedle-deedle-deedle.  For the vast majority of my working life, I worked from my back bedroom (tough commute!), with kitties sleeping either on or by me, from 9 pm at night to 5 am in the morning.  Because I  worked from home, I didn’t have to worry about walking alone through dark parking lots at night so I could work those hours that nobody else wanted to work (evenings, nights and weekends), the hours for which companies paid extra (shift differential) as an incentive.   I could forget about makeup, wear whatever I durn well pleased and didn’t have to worry about “looking professional.”  (This was why  when I traded in a  1987 Toyota Corolla in 2014, it only had 48,000-odd actual miles on it!).  I worked from home for years before working from home was even a thing.

Because of my work, I had to have a word processing program to do the actual typing on, plus a transcription company program that would send and receive sound files and text files within an encryption envelope, plus another transcription company program that would enable me to play their sound files, plus the proprietary software I needed that would enable my computer to use a foot pedal to manipulate those sound files, plus a web browser. (I was using Google before most folks even knew what a search engine was.  I found out about it from an article in Discover Magazine.)  I also had to play back the dictation over headphones (and later, earbuds) to protect the privacy of the patients because all this dictation I was typing was somebody’s person healthcare information and could have been overheard by somebody else if I played back the dictation over speakers.

Then I found out about a switch (it’s called a KVM switch, BTW) that worked with Windows 7 that would enable me to hook two monitors to the switch and hook the switch to the computer’s monitor port and toggle back and forth between screens by tapping the ESC key twice.  Having two screens made juggling all those programs so much easier than having all of them open on the task bar and shifting between windows by clicking with my mouse.  I used that KVM setup for years.

Toward the end of my working life, I discovered a little cord gizmo that would let me hook up a second monitor directly to the computer without having to install a second monitor board/port (It’s called a VGA splitter, in case you’re interested).  I could then extend my display across both monitors and have access to both monitors all the time without having to click a switch.

My current setup is a legacy from my working life.  Because I have two monitors,  I can have a knitting pattern open (which I am either writing as I go, or following) on one monitor and a YouTube video open on the other.  I can have a word processing program open on one screen, and a dictionary program and a “character board” of pictures open on the other.  I have a set of speakers, but they’re put up in the closet somewhere, because for 30 years I sat down at my computer and put on headphones/earbuds.  I have an extension cord with an earbud jack taped to the underside of my desk that lets me plug in a set of earbuds just under the front edge of my computer desk.

Because I’m me, and because I can, I have a wallpaper program with a whole folder full of pretty pictures that changes the wallpaper on the two monitors every 10 minutes.  A while ago, this painting was the one being used as a wallpaper.  My monitors are 21.5-inch diagonal size, so I could get a good look.

What would it be like to live in houses like that?  How would you make your living if you lived there?  What would the rooms in those houses look like?

A while later, this painting appeared.

What would life in this picture be like? What would the building be?  Why would these boats be there? What kind of society would build a place like this?

See where I’m going?  This is how you play mind games with yourself.   You find some internet radio music you like, google yourself a painting or photograph you like, kick back and wish you were there . . .