Thursday, April 30, 2020

Captain Obvious Strikes Again

What's the first thing you think of when you read the title of this YouTube Video?

If you said 'The length of my fingers', welcome aboard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Making Pretty Noises

It's been a while but I'm finally getting back in the groove. This is two minutes of relaxing, slow drone music I whipped it up tonight to put myself through the paces of creating and publishing music. 

For anyone who's interested, I used an Electron Digitone FM synth/sequencer to control a Waldorf Blofeld. The sounds are from both synths.

I hope you like it. I had a blast making it.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

My Ears of Gold

I've been doing ear training 30 minutes or an hour every night for two months on a site called SoundGym and reached two milestones recently. One is this fancy award.

I'm also in the top 10% of all users. I'm not sure I can actually hear any better but I sure am better at listening for details which comes in handy when producing electronic music..

All this isn't too bad for a 61-year-old guy who punished his ears with too-loud music for a lot of years and who blew an eardrum out in sub school in the Navy (and never told anyone because I didn't want to wash out) which left me partially deaf in one ear.

Yay, me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Of Masks and Muslims

Recognize this woman?

Of course you don't, which is the whole point. That's Sultaana Freeman who, according to Wikipedia: '...garnered media attention and notoriety when she sued the state of Florida over the right to wear a face veil for her driver's license picture' back in 2002.

If you wear a face veil do you need a mask? Who's going to check? How long before someone makes a big deal out of the question? 

Do I need to remove my mask when getting a government ID photo? Doesn't that present a health hazard to me and the office staff? 

It used to be that if you wore any kind of face covering in public you were suspect. Now if you're not covered people yell at you and call 911

I wonder what Ms. Freeman thinks of all this. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Pre-Coffee Woodworking

I haven't played around with wood stain since I was in junior high school. I have a small desktop synthesizer for which I bought a set of oak 'cheeks', end pieces that form a stand like in the picture below (my Blofeld is black, but you get the point):

My oak seemed pale so I got some Minwax stain and some gloss. This morning - before my first cup of coffee, I should point out - I get a rag and a piece of cardboard and get to work.

The stain is in a plastic tube and is about the consistency of catsup. The directions on the tube say a little goes a long way so I gently squeeze and nothing comes out. I squeeze a bit harder, still no joy. Finally I give it a good squeeze and of course it gushes out all over the place.

Thankfully the stain is water soluble so I was able to clean it up without too much trouble. Cleanup didn't include a shower and change of clothes so there's that.

I need to let it dry before applying the gloss. What can go wrong? The stuff's clear so even if I get it all over you shouldn't be able to see it. (I jest.)

I should have finished my coffee by then.

Cats Don't Care

Dora and Alfred don't care about the Wuhan Flu.

Corona? What corona?


I ordered my mask and it's on it's way. From China, of course. The shipper sent a tracking number and I tried to look it up on the USPS website to see what month it might get here.

Whosa whatsa?

'Now in the enter send date form section' ? Words fail me, but not as much as they failed whoever wrote that line of gibberish. This is the Post Office, a quasi-governmental operation. To quote Wikipedia (which does get some things right): 'Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads."'

We need to add a clause saying online documents need to be written in plain, understandable language (dare I say English?) and gibberish is strictly verboten

The icing on the cake? After entering send date form section they still couldn't send me a guess as to when my mask will be here. 

Bravo, USPS.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

New Blogger, Meh

Ugh, Google changed Blogger.
I published this with the old, decrepit Blogger.

Notice I didn't say Google 'Improved Blogger'. 1st, they took away the ability to align a picture left or right without getting into the HTML. I want to blather, not code.

They widened the edit page which makes it harder to visualize the final product on a narrow page layout like mine.

Ok, Blogger's free. All google wants in exchange is all the personal data they can extract from me so they can resell it. And the New and Improved blogger still works. 

But sometimes it's better just to leave what works alone. It's like people who rearrange the furniture when they're depressed. Sheesh.


What, No Easter Kitty?

Dora is a big cat. She has sharp teeth and sharp claws and she can bench press a case of canned cat food.

I'm sitting here quietly reading a manual when she lights off with a hair-raising howl. She's in the cats' window and apparently a cat wandered by. The window is closed and whatever it was left before I looked outside. I petted her and offered her the only explanation I could think of.

It was the Easter Kitty, getting ready to deliver candy cat treats to the homes of all good kitties!

Dora is also scary smart. She didn't buy it. <sigh> They're growing up.

Yay for Curtain Hooks!

Ever browse a shopping site and see a description that makes absolutely no sense?  You know, like this:

Curtain Hooks! YAY!

I'm vaguely curious how this happens. I always start with the assumption that people are reasonably intelligent, reasonably attentive to detail, that they care about their work and their job and so on. Most people are, after all, about average.

Was this a 'glitch'? Sure, but what kind of 'glitch'? An 'I hate Amazon and I hate Murphy Oil soap because the smell reminds my of my ex's house' glitch? Or was the product just before this one curtain hooks and the worker bee copied/pasted without realizing that the copy buffer still had the curtain hooks text? If I had time I'd search for curtain hooks on Amazon and see if any of the descriptions say 'Wood Cleaner for Wood Tables, Cabinets, Doors, and More' and 'Contains 98 percent Naturally Derived Ingredients'.

Or maybe the description for  curtain hooks says 'Murphy Oil Soap, Murphy Oil Soap, Murphy Oil Soap'.

It could even be a coded message to a one-legged Norwegian smuggler on his way to New York City with a haul of contraband cod liver oil saying the coast is clear because the police are all busy chasing hookers off the streets who aren't wearing fashionable masks! 

What is the world coming to? Must be the Covids!

Asbestos Streets, Kooky?

Back in the day we did some pretty kooky things. One of the kookiest in my lifetime was paving the roads with asbestos.

Yay For Asbestos!

Yeah, that was really a thing in the 1950's and 60's. Here's the video.

Keep in mind that when bound up with other stuff - like asphalt - asbestos is harmless. Getting the asbestos mixed in with the asphalt in the first place is a little more problematic because of the dust.

While I'm rambling on about random nonsense allow me to share another piece of asbestos trivia. There's a town in Russia with (I think) the world's largest asbestos mine. If not big the hole in the ground is really big. The name of the place is Asbest and the people there have been complaining log and loudly about the hazards. They've also been moving away. 

If you want a glimpse of ghosts from the old Soviet days take a look around in Google street view and prepare to be depressed. 

5G is the currently trending tech rage but some people think it's going to cook our gray cells in vivo. Maybe, maybe not, but imagine people 50 or 60 years from now looking at YouTube videos about 5G and shaking their heads. 


Almost forgot to mention a small detail. The people who made this informative video? None other than Johns Manville, the folks selling the asbestos..

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Odds and Ends

Whenever there's a big news story I always wonder what else is going on. As if the world stopped spinning because of COVID-19. There could be wars going on and we'd never know.

Wither Gerta Terdberger? Or are polar bears immune to the Wuhan Flu? Are all the lockdowns good for the environment? With so many fewer (that's an awkward phrase but I can't think of a better way of saying it) cars on the roads you'd think so. I'm surprised Gerta hasn't come out in favor of a permanent state of emergency.

Bi-Polar Bear

I have bars and restaurants around me here in the Cultural Center of the Universe, Highland Square. All are closed. It's a ghost town around here and even the ghosts are scurrying around in masks. At least they have plenty of parking available. I don't have a mask. I want a bra cup mask to wear around but I don't want to order a bra on Amazon. Padded would probably offer better filtration. I suppose I've given the matter too much thought.

How are you dealing with The Crisis? Is your neck of the woods (woods have necks, huh) in lockdown or are you in a more liberally-minded area? No martial law here - yet. The stores, from what I hear, are still open and have food. Did you stockpile? I did, but not much. More for the cats than me, actually. I figured it would be harder to get emergency rations for them than me if something went really haywire.

Traffic looks really light. Should make drunks easier to spot. 

Are you alone or locked up with family? Are you getting on each other's nerves yet? I heard a brief mention on the news of domestic violence rates spiking. 

I also heard that Major League Baseball is thinking of playing their games in Arizona in empty AAA/training parks. Good for our morale? I guess. Or are they trying not to lose their shirts? (Let's buy the MLB owners some shirts. Not.) After all, they still have to pay the players, might as well try to get some television revenue. And with everyone hunkered down they'd probably get bigger than usual audiences. And hey, they could even wear masks with their team logos stitched on. Damn, they could even sell the things!


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Alice White, Wowzers

Speaking of old films (I was speaking about old films, wasn't I?) I was reading about a Cold War communications system called White Alice, a part of the Dew Line system. One theory about the name White Alice is that they originally wanted to call it Alice White but there was an actress with that name. So naturally I looked up Alice White.

Ho Lee Toe Lee Do.

There are some tribute reels on YouTube, each a few minutes long. Alice White was in films from the late 1930's to the late 1940's. Now, this is going to sound stupid but I had no idea girls were so smokin' hot back in the day. 

Oh, the White Alice system was interesting, too.

Lack Of Interesting, Guaranteed

I like to watch documentary, propaganda and training films from the 1920's, 30's and 40's to get a better sense of what life was like before and during the 2nd World War. If you have the time to sort through the crap you'll be rewarded with some reel (see what I did there?) gems.

This post, alas, is about one of the pieces of crap, some kind of propaganda film about China in the late 1930's and how the Japanese were ruining the party.

What caught my attention was the name of the production company. What, exactly, were they guaranteeing? And then there's this frame.

I didn't bother looking up the 'National Board of Review'. I think their job was to make sure nothing of interest was in the films. 

You can find it on YouTube if you're feeling masochistic. 

1937. Hitler had recently risen to power and would invade Poland in two years. Japan was raging around the Pacific in search of resources unavailable in the tiny island nation. The US was still isolationist but increasingly swinging towards a war footing - something the Japanese were acutely aware of. 

An introduction to Japan's war with China can be found here. This movie was apparently an attempt to persuade Americans to support intervention in China against the Japanese invasion.

If you find yourself with a spare hour or two, read a little about the Second Sino-Japanese War keeping in mind the chip on the Chinese's shoulder against the US. Also look at how much China has advanced since the late 1930's. Amazing. 

Will you stay awake for the entire 26 minute film?, guarantees. 

Smartphone Light Table

This is probably old news for experienced collectors but I feel like I discovered something.

One of the features of many banknotes is the watermark in the paper. Hold the bill up to the light and a latent image can be seen.

Watermark on a €50 banknote.
Many collectors use a light table to view the watermark but if you have a smartphone, guess what? You finally have a use for those flashlight apps. Bonus points if you have a tablet. It also makes viewing security threads and registration marks a lot easier.


Friday, April 3, 2020

T's Cooking Tips

Here are a couple of things I've learned about not making myself sick by eating my own cooking.

Don't have the olive oil and cod liver oil out at the same time. Yech.

Also, Fels Naptha soap and cheddar cheese kinda look the same. Just sayin.