Archive for August, 2011

Missed Anniversary

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I knew it was coming up, and I still missed it. I started blogging at this site five years ago, as of August 24th, 2006. I’d been blogging a little over three years at my previous site, but I decided that I wanted my own domain name.

I chose “” as the domain for the phrase, “Wheels within wheels, bendreth.” The only other “bendreth” I could find was a bicycle-centric site on Blogspot, for which the phrase also seems appropriate. Although it wasn’t as obvious at the time, that blog had apparently gone dormant or dead – it’s still there, but hasn’t been updated since before I acquired my domain.


Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Years ago, I read about a classical guitarist (named Narciso Yepes, although I had to look his name up; I didn’t remember it) who commissioned the building of several guitars with extra strings, including a ten-string guitar, and asked his friends which one sounded the best. They voted for the ten-string.

Be that as it may, note that the anecdote implies that he became at least competent on each of the guitars. I wonder how many configurations Keith Medley went through before deciding that twenty-seven strings was the correct number to get the sound he wanted?

What a revoltin’ development!

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Marion and I went to the Arvada Center to see the ballet performance tonight. I’m not much into ballet, but Marion is, so I go. We were surprised to see instruments and amplifiers on the stage, leaving very little room for dancers. It turns out that the first portion of the show was not listed in the program: The Playground Ensemble, a “new chamber music” group associated with the Lamont School of Music at DU, was an unbilled opening act. The describe themselves as “a group of professional musicians and composers dedicated to presenting classical music as a living art form.” Their stated mission is “to provide stimulating performances, expand common perceptions of both contemporary music and the chamber ensemble, and nurture a community around this music that we love.”

We didn’t care for it at all. As the group’s leader stated in the narration to their second piece, classical music doesn’t have to be old, it doesn’t have to be a museum piece, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. By “museum piece,” he apparently meant “performed as scored.” Not in the sense that they disregarded the written music – I couldn’t determine that – but that they didn’t use traditional instrumentation. The piece they did that was closest to what many people would consider music was an operatic aria performed as “heavy metal vocal performance,” using a drumset, electric guitar and bass, among other instruments. At times, they used loops of chanting and other vocal effects. Most of what they did was dissonant and ugly – to me, at least. Marion’s comment at the end of the evening was that they made Shostakovich (whose music was the soundtrack for a portion of the ballet performance) sound normal.

I’ve been told several times that I have eclectic taste in music (one friend once described my collection of LPs as demonstrating that I had “packrat taste” in music), but I don’t care if I never hear this stuff again.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I’m going to be getting together with some people tonight to play music. This is likely to be one of the songs we’ll do:

Be sure to note the sideburns on the singer. And doesn’t the guy blowing into the jug look like one of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers?

Movie night

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

So I watched ‘La Grande Illusion‘ again this evening. A marvelous film, depicting World War I prisoners of war, living in a much different and more genteel civilization which was in its final years. Class differences are highlighted in the story. Dialogue in the film was mostly in French, some German, and the occasional bit of English.

Can you envision the following dialogue during prison-camp in-processing in a World War II movie?

“This conduct is unbecoming.”
“Sorry, it’s our duty to search you. This is war.”
“I perfectly agree, but conduct it courteously. If not, I’ll see your commanding officer.”

I’d seen the movie once before, and there were two scenes I recalled – the first was in the prison camp theater, which had just received a large basket of women’s clothing so the prisoners could put on a stage production. As they were going through the contents of the basket, Lt. Marechal, one of the main characters, and newly-arrived at the prison, was describing the current fashions back in France to the men who’d been prisoners longer. A very young, baby-faced lieutenant was talked into trying on an outfit, and a minute or so later, came out dressed in women’s clothing with a wig on. Everyone in the theater suddenly stopped what they were doing and stared at him. The scene was as powerful as I remembered.

The second scene was in the second prison camp, a castle, and involved a conversation with the prison camp commandant, played by Eric von Stroheim, during which he describes the injuries he’s sustained:

“A silver plate (pointing to his head). In my kneecap, too. I owe this wealth to the misfortunes of war.”

I’d completely forgotten the part of the movie concerning the escape. Beautiful scenery, strong story, and powerful acting in that part, too.

I’m glad I took the time to see it again.

Miscellany 17

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

There’s not quite an hour left in the 52nd anniversary of Hawaii becoming a state (in this timezone, anyway). Time to clear out the browser tabs.

Andy Firth believes that people who code for a living aren’t learning enough about the abstractions they use and what those abstractions are hiding. I happen to agree with that. My list of things that coders should study/know would be somewhat different than his, but that is likely to be just because of our differing backgrounds.

The economy is going to hell in a handbasket. My company isn’t exempt from problems; our customers have taken to using us as a bank that provides no-interest loans – customers on net 30 terms have been taking 90 days or more to pay. Here’s a good roundup of poll results with respect to the economy and the government’s handling of it.

Perhaps this chart explains some of the problem. Pay particular attention to the last two lines.

Accounting rules have, of course, contributed to where we are today with respect to manufacturing.

Oh, for the days when farming was fun!

While we’re on the subject of dynamite, I’d like to suggest this as a problem that can be solved with a suitable application of high explosives.

I don’t agree with Fred all the time, but he’s almost always worth reading. He’s got a sobering take on the London riots.

The closest I can come to matching this customer service story is to note that I used to be a regular-enough customer at a local Mexican restaurant that the staff knew my usual order. Nowhere near the same thing. I’ll have to get to a Morton’s sometime when I feel as though I can afford it; such service deserves reward.

I need to find out more about this. There may be nothing there, but, if there is …

Free online classes in AI. Might be fun. Here’s more information about other online education sources.

I saw an interesting documentary on burlesque a couple of weeks ago. This song was in part of it, but never sung in its entirety. I looked it up because it sounded fun. Note: the page automatically plays a MIDI file of it.

This bothers me

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

It fits right in with other things this administration has done, though, such as the fact that President Obama has never issued an Easter statement, but does offer yearly statements on Ramadan and hosts Iftan dinners.

If you’re an American citizen born in Jerusalem, the State Department won’t let you have “Israel” noted as your place of birth.

And, apparently as a result of the prior article appearing, the White House has removed the information noted in that article that Jerusalem is in Israel from its website.

At what point do you have enough evidence to start wondering if he’s practicing taqqiya?

Because it’s not truly organic without the grit to wear down the enamel on your teeth

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Germany’s last millstone mason is getting plenty of work with the fad for organic food.