Hello?   (2017Feb28)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017                                             11:42 AM

Feeling a little disappointed lately with the traffic on my blog and YouTube channel. Makes sense, though—I’ve been so busy writing posts and posting videos that I haven’t spared any time to appreciate other people’s blogs and music videos. I do follow some bloggers and YouTube musicians—I’m not completely self-absorbed—and besides, isn’t the point of the Internet to allow us all to bounce our ideas off each other? Sharing ideas and creativity is the only real communication—everything else is entertainment—click-bait and eye-candy to lull the masses.

So, I’m thinking maybe the end of Winter is a particularly fertile period for people to get work done, get new ideas, and feel inspired to create. Like me, everyone else is too busy doing their own thing to check in with my stuff. Either that, or I’m getting old, predictable, and uninteresting—always a dark possibility that I’m sure I won’t recognize when it happens—if it hasn’t already.

Today’s videos use new pictures of the baby—some of them are a little dark because I just used them, as is, to make the video. I’ve been processing hundreds of pictures lately, and for this batch of 376 new ones, I decided to take the easy way out—no photo-shop, no enhancement, just the candid camera. Fortunately most of the pictures are just perfect, like their subject, and my only worry was in recording some music that would be suitable accompaniment to such a beautiful baby.

I tried to play one of Bach’s French Suites—the b minor—but my left hand is getting so spasmodic that I may have to stop sharing my piano-playing and go back to playing for my own amusement. It’s never been that good, but it’s really starting to mess up everything I play. And I really hate not being able to play a strong bass line—it’s my favorite part, dammit.

With our new president, I have a bug up my ass about something he says or does nearly every day—so I’m struggling to come up with non-political posts, just to break the monotony of my constant bitching. I need ‘happy’ posts because I don’t like to put my beautiful granddaughter’s videos on the same page as a post about that horror-show.

But here I am, bitching anyway—and about people ignoring me, no less. What an idiot. I look at YouTube Creators notes sometimes—they always talk about requiring a minimum of 1,000 subscribers for certain programs they offer—and I go check my channel and see that, for my eight years of posting videos, I’ve amassed a whopping 60 subscribers. Usually I’m grateful that there are that many—but YouTube always reminds me that I’m not really ‘in the mix’, as it were. It’s depressing to be a music-lover and be such a terrible musician. Still, it beats living without music in my life.

All’s I can say is—if global warming is going to destroy the world, it’s surely offering us some lovely weather for the apocalypse. Last day of February and it might as well be the first day of June. The crocuses, snowbells, and what-all are simply exploding out of the ground. I should get my camera out there while it’s all blooming—those flowers come and go in the blink of an eye. Even indoors, we’ve got red and white amaryllis blooming all around the kitchen. It’s a very flowery day—too nice a day to complain. Hello.

Reviews   (2016Oct18)


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016                                               2:14 PM

Beautiful day. Leaves is fallin. Sun is shinin. Can’t beat that. Sarah McLachlan may be an acquired taste, but her music is fantastic—what a voice. I’m making a video—I just played Bach’s keyboard arrangement of a Vivaldi Concerto in D, an early transposition from an early influence of old J. S.’s.

Then I played an improv—I don’t know what I’m doing, but it felt good. Now if it only sounds good. I called it “High-End Stroller” because that’s what baby Seneca rolls in these days. There’s a break about a minute in—the camera does that every twenty minutes, making a new file, but it loses a second or two of recording. I took too long with the Bach, I guess—it’s not usually a problem because I rarely play piano for more than twenty minutes—and I often restart the camera recording when playing for longer. What I really need is a film crew, I guess.

 

Shall we discuss politics? No! It’s far too nice a day for that—and tomorrow’s the final Shootout at the OK Corral, so let’s wait, shall we?

Autumn preys on my weakness—if anyone ever wrapped themselves up in melancholy, it’s me—and that time of year (thou may’st in me behold, when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang…) sorry, Shakespeare got me—this time of year makes me dive deep into memory, loss, and the unending cycle of change that is living.

I fairly delight in depression while the summer fades, the leaves fall, and the winter looms. We must remember that ‘clinical depression’ is an imbalance, that modest, occasional depression itself is natural—a way of crawling into bed and putting the covers over our heads, while working or relaxing. Chronic Depression, the problem, is much in the news nowadays—but if you get depressed, sometimes, there’s no need to panic—it is only when it takes over your life that it becomes a problem with a capital ‘P’.

I used to prefer the grey, rainy days—but now I settle for leaves falling—the wet weather chills me to the bone, making me stiff and achy. I still enjoy breezes—you’d have to be dead not to enjoy a breezy day. But enough about the weather.

I just read a sci-fi book called “Machinations” by Hayley Stone. I was disappointed that the plot was a straight rip-off of Terminator, but it was well-written, with good characters, so I finished the book. Dear Ms. Stone: It isn’t science fiction if you don’t have a new idea—it’s just writing, however good. I took one star off of my Amazon rating—because it was a good book, but it wasn’t good science fiction. (If I finish a book, I usually give it full stars.)

I saw the “Ghostbusters” re-make—loved it—loved everyone in it. I don’t see how they could have pandered to fans of the old original any more than they did—and it was nice. Anyone who wasn’t satisfied is just too hard to please.

I enjoyed a few episodes of “Lucifer” on TV, but as with all outlandish premises, they try to ‘mealy-mouth’ it down to a drama, instead of juicing it up into a comic-book fantasy. I watched nine episodes of “Luke Cage” on Netflix, but I’m getting too old for the kid stuff. I’m having trouble with stories that contain corruption, violence, and amorality—they just upset me. My options are narrowing tightly—I’m down to mostly biopics.

I’m trying to read the new Bruce Sterling book, “Pirate Utopia”, but it’s hard—I’m sorry, I just can’t stand ‘alternate history’ sci-fi—it’s a bridge too far for me. Woulda, shoulda, coulda—that’s all it means to me. But Bruce Sterling is heavy-sledding—I’ll keep on for now, and see if I get drawn in. It might be one of those books you don’t get until you re-read it. Sometimes, they’re the best.

Diminishing Returns   (2016Jun27)


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Monday, June 27, 2016                                            11:20 AM

Diminishing returns—that’s what I’m dealing with here. My hands shake, my vision is blurry, my head is all kinds of discombobulated. I’m weak. I’m short of breath. I get kinda squirrely whenever I have to talk to people in person—I just get into a loop, second-guessing myself and them—basically, I’ve just lost the ability to deal. I used to be a shut-in because I didn’t have the strength to walk around—now, I think I hide indoors because I know that regularly interacting with people will expose my insanity and get me committed.

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Smoking is a problem—I shouldn’t smoke, of course. But I don’t have that much else to amuse myself with—being damn-near dead—so it’s hard for me to rationalize quitting to save my life. What life, without a smoke to pass the time?

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Loved ones—sure, I have those. But they have actual lives—they’re busy, they’re engrossed in their own stuff—and any leaning on them takes away from that. I think one person stuck in a frustrating place is sufficient—I can’t see dragging them into this. The paradox of age and infirmity—I’m supposed to be all that more grateful for my continued existence, even as it loses more and more of the features that constitute an actual life. When people congratulate someone on reaching their ninetieth birthday, all I can think is ‘That poor bastard—what must his day be like?’

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Not that I’m promoting euthanasia—I’m not paging Dr. Kevorkian. It’s just that younger, healthier people think of old age as ‘extra additional years’, as if their seniority will be as full and engaging as their thirties or forties. But it’s really a matter of diminishing returns—to a certain extent, we fade before we die. And fading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, I’m still breathing and I’m still watching TV and eating my breakfast every morning—but I’m used to more than that, or I was—I want more than that.

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Pain? Yes, certainly. I mean, it’s not like someone amputated one of my limbs or anything—but there’s definitely pain. The headaches are the worst because it makes it hard to think of something else—which is my go-to remedy for other pains. But let’s face it, with the back spasms, the stiff neck, the random nerve pains and restless leg—thinking about something else only gets me so far for so long. The gas pains from my messed-up guts are usually the sharpest—sometimes the cry coming out of my mouth is the first notice I have, it’s so sudden. I usually try to morph it into a sentence, as in “AAH-ow ya doin’ this afternoon?”—just so I don’t scare people into worrying about me.

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My close acquaintance with my old friend, pain, makes me a big fan of OTC pain relief—my favorites are aspirin and ibuprofen. But those things only work for a short time—and the next day, I have nerve-endings that are even tenderer from the after-effects. I reach the point where it’s impossible to up the dosage any higher, and the pain is that much worse—it’s a dead-end solution with a high price-tag. Stronger drugs are out of the question—the same cycle, with far greater costs and risks.

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My life is so sedentary I spend most of my time watching TV—and it embarrasses me. TV is such a festival of stupid. So I turn it off and start reading. A few hours later, the pain behind my eyes reminds me why I don’t read like I used to—it’s amazing how much physical effort it takes to read. I used to think it was the most relaxing thing in the world—how healthy I must have been!

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Here are three poems I stole off a few poetry sites:

Cacoethes Scribendi

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

If all the trees in all the woods were men;

And each and every blade of grass a pen;

If every leaf on every shrub and tree

Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea

Were changed to ink, and all earth’s living tribes

Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,

And for ten thousand ages, day and night,

The human race should write, and write, and write,

Till all the pens and paper were used up,

And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,

Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink

Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.

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The Birthnight

Walter de la Mare

 

Dearest, it was a night

That in its darkness rocked Orion’s stars;

A sighing wind ran faintly white

Along the willows, and the cedar boughs

Laid their wide hands in stealthy peace across

The starry silence of their antique moss:

No sound save rushing air

Cold, yet all sweet with Spring,

And in thy mother’s arms, couched weeping there,

Thou, lovely thing.

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Moonrise

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889

 

I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:

The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,

Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,

Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;

A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.

This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,

Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

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Why poems? I don’t know—it just came up. Poems are nice—when they’re short enough. I used to read epic poetry—whole books of the stuff—I don’t have that kind of concentration anymore. I own many different English translations of the Iliad and the Oddysey—I prefer the ones that don’t go too ‘prose’ and don’t go too ‘lyric poetry’—it’s difficult to retain just enough of the poetry of it that you don’t lose the pace of the storytelling—a subtle balancing act, which is why there are so many versions. I wonder what it must be like in the original Ancient Greek?

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I always wish I’d learned more languages. Languages are the most liberal-arts thing there is—it’s hard to see how they can be of practical use, yet those who learn them have a great mental advantage over the monolinguist. I studied French in high school and college—I never became fluent because I never used it. But even in an English-speaking environment, I’ve run across some Latin roots and French phrases that are gobbledy-gook to other people—so it wasn’t a complete waste. It’s still the easiest way to be the smartest person in the room—knowing a language that no one else does, when that language pops up. And wouldn’t it be nice to watch a foreign film and not have to read the captions?

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I got a new TV recently—I switched to LCD because my old Plasma screen acted as both television and space heater—very convenient in winter, but a real pain in the ass come summertime. My old buddy, Flippy, came by today to take the old monster off my hands—I hope he’s going to use it in a well-ventilated area. It was a huge, expensive TV, so I’m happy that it didn’t end up in the junk pile.

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The new TV is disappointing—I bought a 32′ diagonal Sony LCD because I figured if I moved it closer to the bed (the big one was all the way across the room) it would have the same apparent size as the big one. But Sony tricked me—the screen is 32″, but the picture is much smaller, unless I go full zoom, which fills the screen but makes the picture grainier. Consumerism is such a bait-and-switch con game. Plus, the TV was surprisingly inexpensive, until I realized that I now need a sound system for it (the old, big one had it built-in) and the sound systems price out at about the same price as the new TV! So now, instead of being happy with my purchase, I’m watching a tinier screen with tinnier sound. Argggh!

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One good thing about the new TV is that it’s Wi-Fi enabled. That means I can switch to Netflix or Hulu—I can even watch myself on my YouTube channel videos—that’s pretty cool.

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Okay, here’s one of my favorite Bach pieces:

and since it’s a really nice composition, and I don’t play it that well, here’s the link for Glenn Gould, playing the same piece, but properly–and beautifully:

Enjoy.

Bach and Dr. Seuss (2016Jun20)


Monday, June 20, 2016                                            1:09 PM

Dr. Seuss on Gun Control

We are born and we live—we love and we give

We believe what we wish and we think sometimes too

Sometimes we are faithful and sometimes, untrue

When we are not peaceful we’re provocative

People are silly—just watch them and see

People get ugly—you know they can be

People like laughing—it’s such a relief

But then we like fighting—and that causes grief

People are silly—if I wasn’t one

I’d say let them all walk around with a gun

I wouldn’t even mind taking a bullet from one

If I didn’t have a wife, a daughter, and a son.

 

(please note: this poem is in the style of Dr. Seuss, not actually by him.)

It’s a lazy day. Happy summer. I recorded one of Bach’s French Suites. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother posting it, but I want to forget about the troll that bugged me a few days ago, so I’m posting more classical music videos. This one is no better than that one, because I don’t play all that good—but I hereby declare that to be okay. Anyone that doesn’t like it—doesn’t have to watch it.

I also managed an improv. The set-to with the troll took my mind off my biggest problem, which has nothing to do with my playing bad classical music. I’ve always played classical music badly. I usually tell myself that it’s background research—I only play the classical for practice—to get ideas and improve my technique—for when I improvise. Because I’ve been pleased with my growth in that area—some of my improvs are quite listenable.

I know this because I burn CDs and listen to them while lying around or reading. I started doing that way back when I was still using a Sony cassette recorder and never posted anything. The idea was to hear myself in playback and see what I sounded like to another person. I learned a lot—enough so that, at some point, I actually began to enjoy listening to my own CDs. They still couldn’t stack up against store-bought music, but they were good enough that, when factoring in that I had made them myself, it was nice to listen to.

But lately I don’t know. I’ve always sounded kinda the same, but I was always trying new things. I think lately the problem is that I’ve accumulated a bunch of ‘tricks’ that I like, and I use them too much—it’s getting repetitive. So I’ve recorded some improvs lately that I didn’t think were good enough to share online because they’re just too much like stuff I’ve already posted. I don’t know, maybe it’s just getting old. I have been improvising for like thirty five years by now—maybe I’ve just reached my peak and I don’t have it in me to do any better.

Anyhow, for today’s recordings’ titles, I recycled my drawings from the last post—I’m not making many new drawings, so I have to make the most of what’s left in my old archives.

 

..

It’s The Little Things (2016May02)


Monday, May 02, 2016                                            3:02 PM

When it comes to the fine arts, we are always prepared to follow the examples of those how have come before—in spite of also recognizing that past artists are of a greatness few can match. Thus we end up with grade-schoolers trying to emulate Mozart or Da Vinci, which is all well and good, especially if the youngster in question has a spark of talent that needs fanning into flame. But, as I have often put forward before, I believe the arts should not be a fenced-in preserve for the talented.

When we are in kindergarten, or even K-thru-3, we often sing songs together—this is both educational and fun, and little notice is paid to a lack of rhythm or tonal ear by any one child—though there is often material there for a critic, to be sure—and greatness is put to the side. Entire schools would gather for ‘auditorium’, which usually ended with a sing-along.

Later on, as early as high school, ‘choir’ becomes a class subject, weaning out those with little interest or ability. That’s fine—that’s understandable—it is school, after all, and they’re there to learn. But are all those other children meant to spend the rest of their lives without a song? That seems rather unlively to me. So I have been a one-man protest movement for music—aided these last ten years by YouTube, which allows my amateur efforts to reach far beyond the few people that walk past our house and sometimes hear tinkling inside.

Lately, I’ve had a few good improvs—but they’ve only lasted a minute or so. I have had to teach myself to sometimes be satisfied with that—there is a temptation to keep going, to create something of awesome architecture, like the musical greats of the past. But I am not a ‘musical great’—I’m not even a ‘musical so-so’—so if I record a mere minute of something nice, I try to accept that with good grace rather than try for something more traditional. And you would be surprised, as I have often been, by just how slowly the seconds tick by when you’re trying to be creative at the keyboard—a minute of decent improvisation is no small feat, not for me anyhow.

Also, while improvising, the longer one plays the more likely one will fall back on old tropes, familiar filler that one has used before—and one edges away from true improvisation and turns more towards rehearsal of the familiar. This is okay once in a while, but it should be recognized as such, or one’s improvs will come to sound like a familiar refrain. One’s personal musical style will make that problem enough without willingly pursuing the familiar. I’m proud that my daughter has told me that she can always tell it’s me at the piano—but I’d feel much differently if she had said I always sound the same.

Anyway, here are today’s selections—two very short improvs and one that is longer but is really three separate improvs (in different keys) in one video. Then there’s a long one that isn’t quite audience-ready—it’s a sample of the practicing of classical composers that I do to help keep my improvs changing and growing. One of my favorite songs is the old classic by Spanky McFarlane, “Sing Your Own Kind Of Music”—lyrics to live by, I’ve always thought.

Happy Birthday To Me! (2016Feb03)


Wednesday, February 03, 2016                                       10:13 AM

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I am sixty years old today. I was born in 1956. Television is only a few years older than I am—but I’m a few years older than NASA. Some of my sharpest childhood memories are of watching NASA on Television—in between Civil Rights protests, Vietnam War news-reports, the assassinations of Martin and John and Bobbie, the Flintstones, Mary Poppins, and Star Trek. Computers used to be building-sized machines—cars used to have curves—and so many things used to be ‘shocking’—I miss ‘shocking’.

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There was shocking art, shocking music, shocking language, shocking nudity (remember “Hair”?) and shocking space flights—orbiting the earth (Mercury), docking in orbit—and space-walking (Gemini), and landing on the moon (Apollo). I am not the only thing that has gotten old—‘shocking’ is showing some gray hairs as well—here in the future of wrist-computers, gay marriage, black presidents, and robots on Mars. I like it—I’m happy that we’ve matured to the point of accepting these new normalities—but I do miss ‘shocking’.

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I miss kids outside, too. That used to be where you found kids—outside playing. I’m too old for kick-the-can—but it’s sad that no one plays kick-the-can anymore. I play Candy Crush now—and, yes, I’m too old for that as well, but I enjoy it—still, it’s no kick-the-can. As a kid, I was often chided for staying indoors all day, reading books—but even then, I spent more time playing outside than the heartiest of today’s kids.

My parents took us five kids camping in the summertime—Taconic State Park was a wilderness to a kid from Bethpage, Long Island—but we also hit Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia—hiking in the woods, building a campfire, sleeping in a tent—I’m often disappointed with myself that I didn’t do the same with my kids. Being the son of a Scout Troopmaster, I certainly had the skills—I guess it’s just one of those things where you have to grow up to appreciate it—and my kids grew up before I did.

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My dad taught me carpentry, too. I knew how to use power tools before I had a shop class—my dad had a workshop in the cellar—and I used to have a small workshop of my own—I could build furniture and fix parts of our house—but it’s a library now and most of my tools are gone. My son is familiar with basic tools, but I never taught him as much as I should have—he’s like me—more a reader than a builder.

I find myself thinking about time—the past, the present, the future—and while my head is whirling with thoughts, I have nothing to write down here—I suspect I’ve blogged for so long that I’ve already told most of my life story—and I hate to repeat myself.

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Claire has put flowers all over the house to mark the day for me—and with the rain pattering down outside the open front door it’s very spring-like for my birthday—how bizarre—I remember one early Long Island birthday party when my father had to shovel a tunnel from the front door to the street—not a path—a tunnel—to allow my party-goers into the house after a blizzard. While blizzards are not the standard, either, it is true that a February-third birthday has always been snow-covered—whether Long Island or Westchester, February’s coming is well into winter—and a lack of snow is unnatural—though these easily-chilled bones have trouble complaining about warm winters.

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I feel sorry for my contemporaries—hitting sixty has traditionally been the beginning of a slow, comfortable slide towards the sunset—but for us, it’s more like someone has hit a reset button—saying, “All that you have known is no more—and all that is new is strange to you”. Between climate change and technology change and social change I don’t know which is more disorienting. I wish I could come at all of this brave new world with a young heart and a young body—that I could face with some relish. But to have things go whirling off into the unknown, now, when I’m no longer a real part of it—that’s disheartening.

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Still, I cheer the good changes—and there have been many—the world is undoubtedly a better place than it was in 1956—all our present troubles notwithstanding. You learn that progress changes for good and for bad—the people with bad agendas and self-serving goals adapt and overcome obstacles just like the good people—computers and rockets can be used for good or ill. The fight for the soul of humanity abides—and always will—no progress can change that.

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Have you ever heard the fourth movement of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony? It’s the greatest—I mean the whole symphony is nice, but that last movement—OMG. It’s like the Beatles—you can hear the same tune a million times, but it stays exciting and new, year after year. The difference, with classical music, is that you get something that lasts a half hour or more—instead of a four minute tune—that alone makes classical music great—to me, at least—I like something that hangs around for a while. And the conductor can alter the tempo and phrasing so much—I swear, I’ve heard Tchaikovsky’s Fifth by at least five different conductors and it’s like they’re five different pieces of music—it’s really something. Even a piano solo—look at the difference between Bach played by Wanda Landowska and Bach played by Glenn Gould—you’d swear it was a different composer.

Anyways, here’s some of my piano-playing:

 

 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016                                       10:21 PM

Surprise Party!

Okay—talk about a contrast of moods—this morning I was all contemplative—I played a thoughtful improv—I got sentimental with my blog post. I assumed I’d have a quiet day—I had asked Claire specifically not to have any party plans for my birthday—and Pete had called and said we’d get together to jam today. But as soon as we set up to record—Claire threw me a surprise birthday party—Pete was there as a decoy—to make sure I was up and dressed when people arrived, and Harlan and Sherryl came, and Marie and Evan—Claire and Spencer, of course—and Greg came along eventually. It was a lovely time—there was Swedish meatballs and mac’n’cheese and angel-food cake with strawberry icing—and I got nice presents (mostly colored socks—my specialty)—and I had a captive audience while I played the piano. Jessy called by I-phone from California—so we got to see her baby-bump and her pregnancy ‘glow’—she’s so beautiful as a mother to be—even more beautiful than usual. But maybe I’m biased. I gave the camera to Spencer and asked him to take pictures of everyone.

Groundhog Day   (2016Feb02)


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Tuesday, February 02, 2016                                             6:32 PM

I had “Groundhog Day” playing in the background for part of the day—Comedy Central ran it on a loop, in honor of the day. And for those of you following at home, Puxatawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning—which legends tells us betokens an early spring—as if global warming wasn’t threatening to bewilder the spring bulbs out of the lawn right here in early February. I have a special fondness for Groundhog Day because it has always been the day before my birthday—which I share with Horace Greeley, among others. And the eponymous film is one of my favorites because lots of people say they don’t care for science fiction—but everybody loves “Groundhog Day”, and if that’s not science fiction, nothing is.

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My CD-library-designated external hard-drive died, and today I purchased a new one-terrabyte Passport by Western Digital to replace it. I’ve started ripping my CDs to the new drive—but I have hundreds of CDs, so it’s going to take a few days. I hope I didn’t lose anything irreplaceable—but I’m not going to spend $500 to find out (that’s the average cost of a data-retrieval service to restore a broken hard-drive’s data). I’m enjoying the review of my CD collection, anyway—so I’m just going to relax and enjoy rebuilding my digital music library. I was fortunate in using my C: drive for the downloaded music files delivered by Amazon or I-Tunes—I don’t know where I’d begin to restore that part of my music collection. Do I re-order it? Do I have to pay for it twice? What’s the deal? Here’s hoping I never have to find out.

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Hillary won (just barely) and Trump lost in last night’s Iowa Caucuses, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I think people forget that Hillary Clinton would be our first woman president—and that’s aside from being the best candidate, regardless of gender. We’ve been so excited and proud, most of us, to have elected Barrack Obama—and now we have a chance for another first—but somehow, the fact that we’ve had our first non-white president takes some of the luster off of the idea of our first woman president—which is weird. I guess, emotionally, people can get too much of a good thing.

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Ms./First Lady/Senator/Secretary Clinton has done a lot of the downplaying herself—I guess she doesn’t want to make her gender the focus of her candidacy—and I can see why she’d think that—but I’m excited. Female heads of state may be rare—but guess what’s rarer? Female heads of state who commit war crimes, or get caught in corruption, or do the many bad things that male heads of state get up to when they get the chance—that’s what (or should I say who?). Not that women are always good—perhaps they get less chances to ruin the world—but that still leaves them with pretty good track records.

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Good old Bernie is a nice guy—but he’s promising the moon to college kids—and those young people have enough school-loan-debt and unemployment to make them hungry for change—even hungry enough to vote. But let’s get serious about a Socialist running in the national election—the Democratic primary is one thing, but getting the whole country behind him is altogether different. And that’s just getting him elected. Look at Bernie Sanders’ voting record in office and ask yourself how much bi-partisan support his programs are liable to generate—even an elected Bernie could never deliver on his promises unless those same people vote in progressive Democrats to the Congressional and Senate seats.

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Anyway, I continue to watch the race with interest. Now here are some videos I posted recently—I hope you like them:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, finally, this is a post originally from my Amazon Customer Reviews:

Monday, February 01, 2016                                             3:58 PM

Book Report: “This Long Vigil” by Rhett Bruno   (2016Feb01)

This would be more properly titled ‘Short Story Report’ but I often fall into the pit of convention—and in this case I am helped along by my Kindle, which renders the purchase and consumption of all fiction into the same seamless ‘buy-with-one-click’ stream—with the exception of the length of time for which we will be beguiled by the author. In this case—blink and you’ll miss it.

I found ‘This Long Vigil’ entertaining, well-written, and engrossing—but far too short. In the case of such snippets, one is more likely to feel the resonance of what’s missing than the paucity of what’s not. In this particularly case, I was left wondering how the premise came to be—what devilish organization would decide to put humans into the situation which the protagonist of this story finds himself? A solitary life leavened only by the voice of a parental computer, but surrounded by a thousand sleeping bodies who will never wake—this story leaves a lot unexplored—particularly how someone could survive such a life without succumbing to emotional imbalance or outright insanity. The protagonist’s final option skirts the issue, but couches it as a hero’s choice—not the ultimate desperation of a tortured guinea pig.

In programming we have the ‘reality check’—we look at a program’s results and, rather than check the calculations, we’d ask ourselves ‘does the output make any sense in general?’ If the ‘number of orders shipped’ equals negative two, or twenty million—you know you have a program bug—that’s a ‘reality check’. Story’s like “This Long Vigil” can be haunting and evocative—but the lack of a ‘reality check’ in the premise always breaks my vicarious concentration. Fortunately, this story is over before you have too long to dwell on it—the doubts come after. I look forward to reading something of Rhett Bruno that is longer and less darkly-toned—and I must stop here lest my review outstrip the story.