Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking

There's nothing I can say that others have not said better than I could. I am happy and amazed that he lived as long as he did but I can't help being a little sad at his passing.

(Videos are loading extremely slowly this morning. Patience.)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

And So It Begins?

The AI take-over that is. You may have heard that some Alexa users are being freaked out by random creepy laughter coming from Alexa. Coming so soon after last week's super creepy X-Files episode, it's only natural that one's first thought might be, "Is this how the AI take-over starts?" But even as I was joking about it on Twitter I was thinking hacker. Some pimply-faced little dweeb is sitting in his parents' basement having a good laugh. However, Amazon says Alexa is merely misunderstanding "lights" for "laughs". Some people though, have described it as an evil laugh, not Alexa's normal, pleasant laugh.

I still haven't abandoned my notion that it's caused by a hacker but if this is the beginning of the AI take-over, be it known that I welcome our electronic overlords.

Women's Day?

So, today is International Women's Day. Bah, humbug! Yes, I am a Women's Day scrooge. I usually shy away from issues. What usually happens when anyone, especially someone whose opinions don't fit neatly into any of the approved categories, tries to discuss issues is that people read only the part they hate and totally ignore any qualifiers and disclaimers. But nobody reads this anyway so imagining that I'm going to get trolls is probably flattering myself to the point of pure fantasy. If I did get trolls it would actually be sort of validating, in a way.

Still, I feel like I have to start by saying this: Yes, of course women should be free to live whatever kind of life they want. Yes, women should be doctors and lawyers and college professors and CEO's and whatever else they aspire to and they should be paid the same as men doing the same jobs. We have mostly achieved that in the U.S. Or at least we have achieved the right to sue our employers for discrimination. Of course, trials and other court proceedings are really just contests to see who has the better lawyer but that's a whole 'nother issue.

What we have not achieved is respect. Women are still groped and women are still mansplained to and geeky girls are still bullied for daring to play video games and liking science fiction and superhero comics. In fact, in some ways things are worse now than in the 60s and 70s. Women who work and demand equality are disrespected by men (only some men but way too many) and women who are traditionally feminine are disrespected by more "progressive" women.

Frankly, women who make a point of letting everyone know how much they dislike anything traditionally associated with femininity both amuse and annoy me at the same time. Honey, you're not better than anyone just because you don't like pink. And here we come to the point I was working up to. I often find myself thinking, "I hate what womanhood has become." And I guess this is my fault for being different - for being a throwback. I have always related more to women in my mother's generation and enjoyed hanging out with them more than with my own generation. But those women, at least in my family, have all gone where we all must inevitably go someday.

This is more than just feeling sorry for myself, though I will admit there is some of that; I feel sad for young women and girls for what they have lost and never will know they have lost. And really, I don't even know how to define it myself. I don't want for most women to go back to being housewives who sew and knit and bake cookies but I want that to still be a valid and respectable option. But that's not really the point. Whether housewives or career women there seems to be some quality that is missing from womanhood compared to the way it used to be and that missing quality hasn't really been replaced by anything positive. As I said I don't know how to define it and maybe I really just don't know enough women and maybe I'm missing something.

Of course I know this is not universal. There are always people who don't fit in and people who can't keep up with the times and most are afraid to speak out and demand respect for reasons that would soon become obvious if this blog was much more popular. Also, I don't want to give the impression that I'm seriously bothered by any of this personally. Sure there are times when I sort of miss having compatible female companionship - someone to go to antique shops and fabric stores with or to just hang out with for a while - but I'm enough of an introvert that I truly enjoy alone time and I'm actually glad that I never have to put up with anyone dropping in on me when I'm not in the mood.

As for International Women's Day, I think it is best observed by focusing on the "International" part of it - on those countries where women are still treated as slaves, or in some cases are actual slaves, where women don't have health care or enough food to eat, or clean water, where they would consider the worst situation in the U.S. to be near Heaven. That's what International Women's Day should be about.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pre-Spring Rambling

One of my favorite days of the year is the day when I step outside and hear frogs for the first time. That happened on the last day of February. A few days later, another of my favorite days happened - I saw the first tiny wildflowers. (Most people call them "weeds" but really a flower is a flower.) And another of my favorite days will be this weekend when we go back to Daylight Saving Time.

This weekend is also the Tulsa Home and Garden Show, another of my favorite things. This is huge. If you haven't been to it you can't imagine how huge. It's in the River Spirit Expo (They change the name of this building every few years. It used to be the Quick Trip Center and before that... I can't remember.) one of the largest clear-span buildings in the world. It has 354,000 column-free square feet and a total of 448,000 square feet. That's a little over 10 acres of indoor space!

The Home and Garden Show is more "home" than "garden." There are all kinds of building, remodeling and decorating products. And safe rooms. One year we counted 17 safe room companies. Besides the safe rooms there's always a handful of companies that you think, "Why are they here?" But mostly it's like Heaven for HGTV addicts.

So anyway, I've been having a really good couple of weeks. It's not official spring but in so many ways it feels like spring and I'm looking forward to real spring. I'm looking forward to the time of year when I don't have to worry, "Are we going to going to have an ice storm next week?" Which can happen as late as April.

There is one thing that is looming: my 60th birthday. What the hell?! Most of the time I feel like I'm barely even a grown-up. How can I possibly be turning 60? I just can't make sense of it. I kind of joke that "60 is the new 40" but even 40 seems a little older than I should be. Of course there are benefits to being older. I think the worst thing about being old is not being old but being judged by one's age. Younger people have this idea in their heads about what 60 is but it's not what they think and they will never get it until they're at least 50 themselves. But still, they judge.

Oh well, enough of that. Look what I came across this morning: Beautiful Chickens. Honestly, they're not all beautiful; the white, skinny one is pretty creepy. My mom loved chickens and I kind of miss having them around but I'm not sure if I would really enjoy the responsibility of taking care of them. I might; I just don't know. I've never had chickens as an adult. Maybe it's just nostalgia.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Black Composers

My intention was to observe Black History Month by posting videos of music by black composers two or three times a week. Well, I didn't quite make it. It turned out to be more like one a week. But I discovered a couple of composers I wasn't aware of and I really like what I've heard.

I'm going to end the month with probably the most famous African American composer, Scott Joplin. Like many people I was first introduced to Joplin's music by the movie, The Sting, still one of my favorite movies of all time. The arrangement of The Entertainer from the movie is still my favorite. Here's another favorite that I first heard in The Sting.

And from Joplin's opera Treemonisha

Monday, February 26, 2018

Tell a Fairy Tale

Did you know that today is Tell a Fairy Tale Day? What a wonderful idea for a Day! Also, did you know that there is a classification system for folk tales? Oh, that site looks like an incredibly fun way to waste an afternoon! Here's a history of the ATU Folk Tale Index.

Bobby McFerrin

You probably remember Bobby McFerrin for his novelty song Don't Worry, Be Happy but he is much more than a one hit wonder and one man orchestra. He has remained active in music all these years since that fun, silly song, writing more serious songs as well as entertaining audiences with his unusual vocal talent.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Random Linkage

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur - I haven't paid much attention to cartoons for a long time but something about this appeals to me.

Gray Squirrels Good at Problem Solving - And in other news water is wet. Anyone who has ever tried to keep the little buggers from stealing all the birdseed knows this already.

Happiest Facts Ever - These are delightful.

Donuts Are a Girl's Best Friend?

The Louvre's Secret Apartments - Gorgeous rooms!

Elizabeth Cotton - Interesting life story

Underwater Garden - strangely clear flood waters

Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Composers

Adolphus Hailstork "Sonata da Chiesa" for String Orchestra (1992)

This sonata sounds a bit like spring to me, which seems appropriate right now even though spring is still weeks away.