Monday, December 22, 2008

Overheard online

This post isn't going to be filled with much original thought.  I've spent more frivolous time on the computer in the last five days than in the last month, facebooking, twittering, and just surfing around.  One thing is certain - an overactive snowstorm brings out the humor in people more than grumpiness, if online comment is an indicator, and I decided to post some of my discoveries here.  Consider this my Index of Recent Cool Things. 

I follow a few people on Twitter.  They include the Unshelved and Wondermark authors, as well as a graphic artist/webcomic guy, and a library in Scotland.  Some recent tweets that I think are quotable:

"That's the thing about experimental cooking.  You might just have to have something else for dinner."

"On creativity:  We must be willing to suck, so we can learn and improve.  We must also be free to believe we do not suck, so we don't give up."

"I woke up for no good reason, then proceeded to worry about everything I could possibly ever worry about.  So I'm up.  Just me and Doctor Who." (posted around 2 a.m.)

"I am no longer scared of certain sections of department stores the way I was at 13." 

I can only imagine which department store sections a 13-year-old boy would be reluctant to visit.

David Malki, of Wondermark fame, posted an intriguing challenge on his website:  send a Christmas card to a complete stranger.  I accepted the challenge and I eagerly await the results - consequences? - if any should occur.  I didn't include our short newsletter because our 25th anniversary photo is in there, a photo which has brought us considerable notoriety over the last month.  Anyway, off went the card.  It's funny what a little 'outside the box' activity can do for my day.

Another twitter post took me to a "year in pictures" site.  It's an international look, not the usual what-happened-in-the-U.S. set.  War, disaster, injustice, and grief is well-chronicled in this 40-photo collection, making it a sometimes disturbing set to view, but the disastrous is mixed in with photos of amazing and interesting events.  I looked at photo #23 for a long time - Massai tribesmen in modern clothing, armed with bows and arrows, battling another tribe (off-camera).  I am an optimist, believing that I can, at the very least, make a difference within my immediate sphere.  I'm especially mindful of that when I see photos such as these.

It's snowing, again.  Despite the inconvenience, the power outages, the life-threatening conditions for those without homes...I love the snow.  

It's Christmas Eve.  Time to do the last of my baking.

May you enjoy peace, warmth, and all good things.  And stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

By popular demand... is another Mastersingers mp3, a chapter from The Highway Code. Alas, I don't have the "lyrics" to this one so you'll really have to pay attention while you listen.  This piece is concerned with Rules Pertaining To Pedestrians. I prefer the Weather Report, but Highway Code is still fun.  I am mentally transported to St. Mark's Compline service when I listen to these mp3s.

Terry and Rory have been in and out of the branch recently, helping with signage changes and other sundry tasks.  Visits by these guys are delightfully bright spots in our day.  I was surprised to see Terry in Biography, thinking he had headed back to Sylvan Way after a morning visit.  Approaching from behind, I said, "You're back!" to which Terry replied (turning toward me) "Yes, and here's my front!"

Facebook has been great fun lately as more KRL folk join in.  I've been on facebook for a couple of years, having joined well before krl2.0.   I had signed on hoping to find other hammered dulcimer players.  I found one, so that was a bust, but I've found other people and interest groups to connect with, including former staff.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I appreciate the ability to read what people are doing, see their photos, and celebrate milestones with them.  However, I was determined to avoid most of the applications.  When I first signed on with one (I think it was iRead), the application asked me if it was ok that they access all my information, including my Friends List.  Hmm.  I flung caution to the wind and clicked OK and that was that.  What harm could one app do?

But now... my connection to so many facebook friends (hereafter known as ffs) has opened wide the door to apps, especially recently.  Now I have a virtual Christmas Tree, as do other ffs, and we can give each other virtual gifts to put under it.  We can also send ornaments to one another.  I'm participating in a Snowball War.  I'm poking people.  I'm giving them plants for their L'il Green Patches.  It's the classic camel-in-the-tent situation - the camel wants in, so it puts its nose into the tent.  A nose doesn't take up much room, so you let it remain.  The rest of the head comes in.  Eventually the front legs sneak in, then the torso...before you know it, the whole camel is in the tent and you're wondering when did this happen?

So.  Facebook applications.  I do draw the line at some of them, like the eCards app.  There's a disclaimer, of course - facebook is not responsible for the content contained in these messages - and I am disinclined to open the ones that have been sent to me.  I once ended up with an app I didn't ask for, a dating service; I had to go through a convoluted process to disengage from the thing.  

One of the best things about facebook?  Some dear neighbors moved to Florida many years ago and we missed them deeply.  Janice and I would have unintended adventures while doing mundane things like shopping together at Costco.  The adventures were frequent enough that I became Ethel to Janice's Lucy.  Behold, Janice is on facebook!  Now we have a standing date - chatting via Online Friends every Monday afternoon.

I have Christmas lights to put up, real ones rather than the virtual kind.  Next time?  Chimes & Lights, perhaps.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Weather Report

November was a busy month - lots of shift-coverage at the branch, removal of two screws from my arm, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, family home from college. . .wow.

Now we're rollicking into December. I've been practicing Christmas and Holiday music for a couple of months, preparing for events and performances. I love the medieval tunes, especially Personent Hodie, because they're so suitable for harp and dulcimer. Every year, I must hum them over and over to get them lodged in my head. Once they're in, I can play them. If I play something incorrectly, the incorrect hammering pattern goes right to my brain and I have to dislodge it by playing it correctly. It's not good to be nearby when that happens because you will hear those difficult bars played again and again and again (accompanied by dismayed exclamations) until I get it right. It's a mystery to me why the wrong thing sticks immediately while the correct pattern needs all that repetition.

I'm not skilled at reading music. Instead, I listen repeatedly to a recording to learn the tune. Most of the music is in my iTunes library, which is handy but also distracting. There are all kinds of things in my Medieval folder, not just Christmas, and I get sidetracked into listening to some of them. Weather Report, performed by The Mastersingers, is one of my favorites. This is in my Medieval folder because it's done in Gregorian Chant. I'll finish this post with the "lyrics", an actual United Kingdom weather report from the 1960s. (The only non-report line is the final one.) You can read along as they sing, if you open this blog in another tab before clicking on the title to listen to the mp3.

Good morning, here is the weather forecast for today until midnight. First the general situation. A ridge of high pressure over the Azores is moving slowly northeast and will begin to affect southwestern districts of the British Isles by late evening.

The cold front now affecting southeast districts will gradually move north. Fog has developed overnight in much of England and parts of Wales. In some districts it is rather dense. This will lift and clear by mid-morning almost everywhere and the rest of the day will be fine with unbroken sunshine.

And now, here is the Shipping forecast for the next twenty-four hours: Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, White, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Finistere, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, South East Iceland will continue to be affected by weather for several days.

Now the outlook for Wednesday and Thursday. There will be drizzle in the south and periods of continuous rain are expected later, interspersed with scattered showers.

Northern England, Northern Ireland, and Southern Scotland will have occasional thunder. Temperatures will fall during the night and there may be local showers of sleet or snow.

Over central Scotland, temperatures will fall rapidly at dusk, giving rise to hail and freezing fog. Heavy snowfalls are expected in the north of Scotland and gale force winds are likely to cause extensive drifting.

In the extreme north of Scotland, a warm air stream will bring torrential rain and widespread flooding.

In brief, the weather will be normal for the time of year.

Wasn't that fun? Stay tuned.