oblivious dragonfly

This week I had to wrack my brain to find something in the house that people ask about when they come over.

first problem is that we have very few people actually come over. so, nobody to ask about anything.

so kind of a twist, something we have hanging on the wall, and i think it was my brother-in-law (who’s an artist/art teacher) pointed it out to me:

Copy ink

so excuse the glare/reflection. i wasn’t taking it down off the wall, or out of it’s frame.

this is an india ink drawing of another painting, i don’t know who the original artist is so can’t credit them, but this drawing is a copy of that original and  was done by my sister.

looking at this photo, it’s obvious now, but when you look at it on the wall it’s not (well to me anyway). it was hanging there for years before i was told there was a  dragon fly “hidden” in the drawing. going over to the wall now it’s not nearly as obvious as it is in this image (which is an HDR shot).

zooming in shows there’s quite a bit of detail. but i was oblivious to it.

this one is asked about also. My sister was in Bangor, Maine, and took a photo of Stephen King’s house (apparently everybody does it).

this is a free hand  india ink drawing of that photo (ignore the bad shot, the detail is there.)

King

She also did a pencil drawing  of the “Changes One” Bowie album cover, that you’d be hard pressed to tell from the original.

Chromebooks

I have been using a chromebook off and on for a few years now. Part of a “cloud” initiative for work.

I didn’t use it exclusively, of course.  There’s still a few things I need to do on a regular computer.

One of the things I’ve tried to do, is get my workflow “cloud oriented”.

Ok, quick aside: this will be useful to most people, especially millennials  (you spell cloud this way: c   l   o  u   d). I think it’s about 15 years ago, I started seeing “internet” related diagrams, using a cloud graphic to designate “the internet” somewhere along the line, an executive who hadn’t had his knuckles broken probably thought it was clever to call the internet, “the cloud”. seems to have stuck, because in the corporate world that’s all you effing hear.

there  are cloud books, cloud apps,  could initiatives (HELLO!), cloud recipes, cloud targets, cloud backups, cloud infrastructure, private clouds, on premises clouds, clouds as a service,  cloud projects, cloud-op ((dolphin laugh, Julie, Darcie,  I can explain it later)  in-joke to my Canadian military friends)).

The reason (for me anyway) to be as “cloud oriented” as possible, was I had a number of internet connected devices: phone, tablet, work computer, home computer, etc.)

Knowing that I could get at my internet content was very empowering. All I needed was an  internet connected device (millenials: AND the internet).

To help me with this I already had a Gmail account with Google Drive, but subscribed to Dropbox,  Roboform, Outlook and Onenote (free so far), WordPress, twitter, facebook, instragram.

With the exception of some photo/video  processing I do on my Macbook Pro (a now ancient model that will remain that way), I can do almost everything on a chromebook.

So, this is a few years ago, my boss wanted me to get a chromebook for evaluation purposes.  If our department (a tech oriented networking department) could make it work, then surely a good part of the rest of the company could also.

After some research, I found a Samsung 11″ chromebook,  The lists of the things I couldn’t do was much smaller than the list of things I could do. Some very specific networking software, and obviously gaming excluded of course. For a very reasonable price.

For a chromebook, the only real thing wrong was  that keyboard. If I had to guess, I’d say it was designed by a millenial (huh? the millenial said with the finger  their finger stuck up to  third knuckle in their  their nose)

(Darcie, you  know you are excluded from this)

I don’t want to get into GUI or hardware design, but the “Enter”  key needs to be wide from side to side not tall from up and down)

One of my bosses ( I have 5) complained about the same thing.

At the beginning of June (milennials: Google “months”)

I started using the Samsung chromebook almost exclusively, making changes to my workflow as needed.

Full disclosure, I mean my home workflow.

I found I could do almost everything. There were a few issues.

I needed a bigger screen, and a much better keyboard.

I already knew about the ASUS touchscreen chromebook, I wanted a 14″ screen if I could get it.

I found the HP touchscreen 14.

Why do you need a touchscreen?

For the Android apps. (iphone users: that’s  the phone you really want, but Steve says you can’t have)

I was impressed enough with the specs and the reviews to buy one.  Kind of a jaw dropper to use your favourite android apps on a “laptop”  type device.

It’s almost easier to tap the icon for your favourite service rather than going to the web page. For something like The Weather Network and Onenote it’s much better. There’s probably dozen’s of other examples,

[Later]

I let the battery get down to 6%. After (all told) 9 hours of using it, and 72 hours of standby (closing the lid). the 72 hours were over 4 days, and using it about 2 to 3 hours each day.

As I type this, I’ve been using it for a little over 2 hours, and the battery says I have another 11 hours to go. For me the battery life is a little better than advertised.

I’ve already recommended it to three people already. I would’t even hesitate to buy it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harlan Elllison

On June 28, 2018, Harlan Ellison passed away.

I feel little sorry for whatever entity has to deal with him now 🙂

He was one of the first writers (I won’t call him an SF writer, he didn’t like it 🙂 )  I had ever read.

To give some of you younger people some context. He was the writer for the script for the classic Trek  (think Kirk) ep called, “The City on the Edge of Forever”. Considered one of the best Trek ep’s ever made.

He worked on consultant on the 80’s revival of The Twilight Zone, and had stories submitted for and was involved in a  a magazine of the same title back then also. He was also  a consultant on the SF TV series Babylon 5.

He wrote a story a long time ago called “Soldier” that was the basis for the movie “The Terminator” (the “I’ll be back” one)

He’s written a ton of stuff. Most of his books don’t get reprinted because they are mainly  short stories and short story collections tend not to get re-printed unless they are from a very popular writer (Stephen King being the only one I can think of offhand).

He’s won pretty much every major writing award.

The very first story of his I read was “Along the Scenic Route”. I also read “Doomsman” and I don’t remember liking that very well. It turns out that novels weren’t really his forte. Short stories and TV screenplays were.

He was on the leading edge of what they were calling back then “new wave SF”. He edited  a book of SF short stories called “Dangerous Visions”. That anybody is a real SF fan has probably heard of AND has a copy of.

He is one of few writers whose books I will pick up unseen. I would add  Richard Matheson,  the big 3 (SF, look it up) to that list.

One of my favourite quotes is from Harlan Ellison himself:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

So yeah, that elminates  95% of the people who post on Facebook. Hmm, I think I’ll also  post this blog there.

 

 

 

How Users are Ruining the Internet

So there’s this little online networking thingy.

You may or may not have heard of it.

When people first discover it, they can’t believe it’s been around and they never heard of it. Or they heard of it and just didn’t care.

When they first get on it they are amazed at the wealth of information that’s out there. They  find they that they can interact with other people with common interests, sometimes live interaction, but a lot of times on a msg forum.

They find that they can send mail, even get replies. This thing is incredible. What bunch of nerds thought this up?

And then….and then they get stupid. Everyone has opinions, they started arguing about their opinions. To the point where they start insulting the person they are arguing online with. Eventually they will be subjected to Godwin’s Law. If the argument goes on long enough.

Look it up…can you think of any recent examples?

There will be bullying. Bullying by people who know better, but do it anyway. They get caught up in it. Almost seems like it’s subject to a mob mentality.

When it gets bad enough, the police, or lawyers can get involved.

This is done by ordinary people. People you know (or don’t really know like you thought you did, that’s always an eye opener)

I can’t find it quick enough for this entry, but there was a study done lots of years ago, that had two groups of people asked to do a particular task or project. One group was in the same room and asked to work together. The other group were not in the same room but interacted over a network via keyboard.

You guessed it, name calling, arguing, threats, happened within hours. I think that was the timing but how long it took doesn’t really matter. The fact that it did happen does.

When a certain amount of anonymity is involved, it will go sideways.

Wanna guess the network?

Wrong.

Gotcha!

I’m talking about Fidonet.

Never heard of it have you?

You probably haven’t heard of CIX, BIX, Genie, Prodigy, or Compuserve either. You probably have heard of AOL. (although you might not know what the acronym stands for. Millennials, you  may have to look that up…and the word “acronym” for that matter)

What I described happened on everyone of those networks. To be fair they didn’t have nearly the degree of saturation the internet has, but the stupidity was just as common. Just shows you only need a few rotten apples to ruin it for everyone.

My point is: get people together, let them be a little anonymous (or even not, nowadays) and they get stupid.

Need some examples?

Log on to Facebook. Like minded bullies like to hang out there.

Log on to Twitter. Like minded bullies like to hang out there.

Log on to Reddit. Like minded bullies like to hang out there.

Read comments on Youtube, Slashdot, Digg, Instagram. You find these asshats everywhere.

Everybody complains about it. Nobody calls out the bullies, specifically, by name and shames them. Or revokes their online privileges.

If you ever said anything uncharacteristically negative to another person on any network. Clap yourself on the back, you are part of that club.

If you ever did it on purpose…well go eff yourself, karma is a bitch. Wait for it.

T.REX – Greatest Hits

We used to have a regular indoor mall where I live. They turned it into an “outdoor mall”.

This is just a theory, but I have this idea that, City councils, city planners, and architects get together every once and while, and design, plan and execute the stoopid effing dumb things they come up with.

No matter how often we vote out the wasteoids, the replacements do the same thing.

One of the greatest hits (see what i did there?)  they came up with was a massive facelift to one of our regular indoor malls

.

So instead of strolling around the mall, maybe take your coffee  to one of the many tables or benches that were scattered throughout, maybe look over your purchases that day…or just hang out, you don’t.

The outdoor mall concept kills that. And replaces it with stoopid dumb effing parking.

So anyway, way…waaaaay back when it was a real mall, it used to have a store called “Tape Mart”. I gather from the name they intended to specialize in cassettes (millennials look that up….and it’s relation to the pencil),

[as an side, i liken that last comment to giving a dog a cracker with peanut butter on both sides to keep it busy while the adults talk]

I probably went into the store maybe twice, it didn’t really have a good record selection which could be why it went out of business before the mall did it’s magical stoopid transformation.

After I had picked up a copy of the The Slider i was on the desperate hunt for T.REX albums. I knew there was more because of that  Encyclopedia of Rock book, but I knew they were rare.

It was the summer and suddenly I remembered that this Tape Mart place had a T.REX album I didn’t have. I scrounged up a lot of change and ran to the bus stop just down from where I lived.

Ran into the mall and into the store, and tada, there is was. The last copy, now my copy, pictured below:

T REX GreatestHits2R

This was a double album set. And while it contained T.REX hits (current up to the release of that album) it had Tyrannosaurus Rex “hits” also.

Before Marc Bolan shorted the name, the band was an flower power acoustic duo with Tolkienesqe themes for songs. I had never heard any of those songs, and to be fair they are an acquired taste, some are catchy, but back then Marc Bolan was doing a Mungo Jerry style of vocals, that doesn’t really appeal to me.

[sigh, millenials look up Mungo Jerry in the summertime]

ok sorry, in joke dolphin laugh there.

One of the things that Marc Bolan did, was that he would not release singles (aka 45’s at the time)  of songs that could be found on the currently released album. So you literally had to buy the 45’s if you wanted those songs. You wouldn’t feel ripped off by buying songs you already had on the album. Of course later albums, like the one pictured above would gather the various singles and put them on the 33 but you had to wait for that.

One of the other things Bolan did was put 3 songs on a 45, most releases have one song on Side A, and one on Side B. T.REX singles had your main release on Side A, and 2 other songs on Side B. He probably drove record companies crazy doing that.

Marc Bolan didn’t want to rip off the fans, record companies be damned.

So that one was my third T.REX album. I was in the lead.

Liona Boyd != Twisted Sister

After reading Everything Now I wanted to relate some of my own concert experiences…sorry Darcie, stealing your idea ‘cause i have to crank out two of these before the end of the month. 🙂

The very first concert I ever went to was in Edmonton, it was Liona Boyd. She’s Canadian, a classical guitarist (knows as The First Lady of the Guitar). She was one of the best  classical guitarists in the world, she had a very unique style that I haven’t seen any one else attempt successfully.

She now suffers from Focal dystonia,  which is what Keith Emerson also had.

I went with a friend, and he knew that my favourite band was T.REX, but at the time I was also getting into what I like to call “progressive metal”. This is heavy metal, but not done by morons.

A perfect example is the group Iron Maiden. Yes it’s heavy metal, but it’s not simple music. Early Deep Purple, early Black Sabbath could be considered progressive metal. I think even Metallica could fall into that category. Anyway, that’s the kind of stuff I was listening to when I went to see Liona Boyd.

My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, we were both guitar fans, so it was a no brainer to go.

When we were waiting for the bus to get back home (Edmonton has one of the best bus systems in Canada even later on at night) he said I was the only person who could go to a Liona Boyd concert and then go home and listen to two hours of Twisted Sister.

He was right.

After I moved I went to see her in the local theatre four or five more times.

I went to see KISS in Ottawa, it was the second “reunion” tour. So my review would go something like: “It was the second reunion tour”. ‘Nuff said.

I’m leading to something here, stick with me if you’re eyes haven’t  glazed over yet.

My wife and I went to see Blue Man Group at the local large venue centre we have here. I had been a fan of theirs way before anybody else when i first saw them on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That live show was a lot of fun.

We saw the stage play Jesus Christ Superstar at the same venue. Ted Neely was still doing the show and his voice was still able to crank it out. The show was so good that I tell people I would have walked out of the building, turned around, paid twice as much and watched it all over again and not thought twice about doing it.

The next show we saw was Steve Howe. He was the second guitarist for the progressive rock band Yes. If he had come up to me before the show started and asked for a set list of what he should play I would have given him the exact songs he played…and pretty much in that order. He is one of those artists you don’t ever expect to be able to see if you live in a smallish town.

Then we saw The Stampeders. They are a great Canadian band that had their biggest success in the early ’70’s. I wasn’t as familiar with their music as I should have been. Something i’ve rectified since the show. The very first Stampeders song I heard and one of my favourites of their’s is one called “Ramona”. It’s a heavier tune than most of their music, so I didn’t really expect them to do it at the show, because frankly, you’re talking about an older audience of fans going to see them, and that might  not sit well.

But they performed the song. Not only that but the whole audience participation thing they did for the song was great. Was worth three times the price of admission. Just that one song. The next time they were in town we saw them again, no hesitation about buying tickets.

Once our town got it’s large entertainment venue, bigger acts started showing up. Elton John, Deep Purple, Heart.

I’m not a big enough fan of Elton John’s to actually buy tickets as I am of the latter two. But I chose not to.

Here’s why. I can’t speak for everyone that likes classic rock, but you get a picture and sound in your head of your favourite groups, and you want to keep it.

You do NOT want to see that shattered. Ok yes, the band members get older. With musicians, they  maybe not jump around like they used to but they can still play, and usually better because they’ve played the songs so many times that it’s second nature for them on stage.

And here is where the disappointment starts. When I  went to see KISS in Ottawa, Ace Frehley’s guitar solo was…embarrassing.

Because of Liona Boyd’s medical condition her shows could now  be best described as singing poetry. Which is not what I would want to see from one of the best classical guitarists in the world.

And even though Ian Gillan is back  with Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore isn’t (and i’m sorry fans, Steve Morse just isn’t cutting it for me). Jon Lord is no longer with us either. He’d be 50% of the reason I’d pay to see the band. Ian Gillan doesn’t have the pipes any more to crank out “Child in Time”….but he still sings it.  The word i’m looking for is: Fremdschämen. It’s a German word that basically means you’re embarrassed for someone else.

You can find videos on youtube of Gillan cranking that out if you want to see what I mean…check out the “before” videos, then check out the later ones. Fremdschämen. Just sayin’.

As for Heart, Ann Wilson can still crank it out. I heard that the show they did here was really good, but it was from someone who was not “musically informed” (read the previous blog if you don’t know what  i mean”) so i take that with a grain of salt. I might be tempted next time [if] they show.

The other group I’d be hesitant to pay for is Jethro Tull. As musicians, Ian Anderson has always had band members with the musical chops, so no real worries there. But his voice…it wasn’t that he can’t crank out the high notes, because that really wasn’t his style of singing, it was the lower register he seems to have a problem with. I read somewhere that he had a vocal chord injury, so that may have something to do with it.

If they did play locally though, I think I might get over it, and see them at least once. Bands from the 70’s who don’t really have to promote a new album, tend to play their classics.

And some bands, it’s sad to say, absolutely suck live. Just listen to any Rolling Stones bootleg…even my favourite band, T.REX doesn’t really sound good live.

The best live bands, imho are those that can recreate their album sound in a live venue (Deep Purple, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd)

Those are all classic 70’s bands…hmm, i sense a pattern.

musically informed

Two of the very first songs i remember hearing and liking were “Come and Get It” by Badfinger and “Gotta See Jane” by R. Dean Taylor.

My very  first album, was a K-Tel album called “Out of Sight”. I saw it advertised on TV and got it for my birthday one year. My sister got a portable turntable (we called them “record players” back then) for christmas. I’m pretty sure i used that turntable more than she did. I played that album on her record player hundreds of times. The K-Tel album that came after that was called “Sounds Spectacular” and i played that hundreds of times also. Interesting to note that the Canadian versions of those albums had a much better track listing than the U.S. versions. Probably because of the Canadian content that legally had to be used.

I will do a K-Tel blog at some point because there are 3 of them that heavily influenced my musical choices.

These albums were my introduction to the world of pop/rock music. I had a friend who lived a few doors down who was heavily into Black Sabbath, another friend from school opened my eyes to ZZ Top, Rod Stewart, and KISS.

Friends of my sister’s made sure I heard my share of Donny Osmond, Bay City Rollers, and Leif Garrett (all the guys i knew said “leaf” but we’d get shouted down with “IT’S LAYFE” . The girls were vehement about it) . I already had a Partridge Family album, so i was covered there.

In shop class, I was hit with bad air/voice guitar versions of Nazareth songs (This Flight  Tonight, and Deep Purple (uh, Smoke on the Water).

the local community TV channel did a dj radio thing on friday nights from 8pm to midnight, and I heard Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin”, Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs”. In the space of four short years i got a musical education.

All of that was when i lived in Shilo, Manitoba (like i said in an earlier blog, my formative years 🙂 )

When you are an army brat and you move, you get to start your new life with no friends in a place you don’t know and maybe don’t even like. For me i was able to compensate with lots of reading and listening to the radio. and i was lucky to be able to hit that record store i mentioned (Used Grooves) , so my album collection started to grow.

A soon to be friend moved in across  the street and he had an extensive record collection (looked like all pristine brand new albums too), but more  than that he had a book. It was a book called “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock”. My copy pictured below.

Encofrock

This book is pure rock music gold. I know this because this particular edition can be bought second hand for between $75 US and $3000 US. That second number was not a typo.

I read it from cover to cover. I read about groups i already liked. I read about groups i didn’t know I was about to like. I read about groups whose albums i wouldn’t buy till decades later.

My biggest revelation about reading all this musical information what that it stuck. I simply remembered most of what i read; dates that albums were released, complete discographies of classic rock groups, and band lineups for same.

if you are into classic rock and have any kind of record collection you want this book. you need this book. get a copy, you will thank me later.

Having said that you need a specific version of this book. If you go to Amazon you’ll find the “fifth edition”, the “6th edition”  or the “7th edition”. But if the “fifth edition is any indication of the way the book content was going, you can save your money. I have a copy of the fifth, but the  edition i’m raving about is  either the second or the third. it says “New Edition” so  i think it’s the second, the copyright date is 1976. The photo of the book above is the one you want.

[later: I think i found both the 2nd and 3rd, so i’ll update this blog when they come in.]

As good as the book is, it does omit  Canadian groups; Lighthouse, Stampeders, April Wine, Rush, Gordon Lightfoot and Heart (who were thought to be Canadian at one point), but does include Neil Young. There is a book called “Heart of Gold” which is a great history of Canadian music, worth having  if you like Canadian groups. Subsequent editions of the  encyclopedia  included the Canadian content, but sucked in other ways.

Fast forward a few years and we had to move again to Edmonton. Because army brat. one night when hanging out with a few of my sister’s friends (i had none of my own), one particular guy (that’s you Brian F.) (and his friend, whose name i think was Mike) started talking about music.

When i start talking about classic rock, i’m pretty much non-stop. friends just roll their eyes now, but at the table we were sitting around that night i had a captive audience. My sister told me a few days later that Mike couldn’t believe how much i knew about music (he was referring to classic rock of course).

At one point Brian asks me what i think about the group Yes.  I could tell by the way he asked that it was his favourite group. I told him that the only song i really knew was their song Roundabout (it’s off the Fragile album if you wanted some context) . I said i liked the song but for the most part i was  unfamiliar with progressive music.

Of course i told them my favourite group was T.REX but as i’ve come to get used to  that elicits blank stares from most people, that night wasn’t any different.

My answer seemed to satisfy him, but later we would talk more and more about music he introduced me to progressive music through his favourite group. he tried to get me to Genesis (in their progrock days) but that didn’t stick (sorry Brian, still no)

Anyway, one day his mom drove us to Edmonton public library.

I don’t know what it’s like now but at one point it had the most traffic of any library in North America. It was on one end of the LRT (University of Alberta was the other end at the time). It had 3 or 4 floors of to it.

One floor was dedicated entirely to music. If you’ve ever been to Sam the Record Man in Toronto (the one with the two huge neon signs that looked like spinning vinyl, you know the size i’m talking about. This was X 4. It. Was. Huge.

You were allowed to take out 10 albums at a time. Brian walked me through the process of getting my library card and the library in general. Kid in a candy store. 🙂

On the way there, Brian was riding shotgun, i was in the back seat and  Brian turned around to me and said “she’s musically informed by the way”  referring to his mom this was a term he coined with the obvious meaning.

I was impressed. none of my other friend’s (in the last place i lived)  mom’s could make that claim.

Since then i’ve only run into 3 people (one of my bosses from work, one person i used to work with years ago, and  my wife) who could make that claim (and not to toot my own horn) but they still have a ways to go 🙂