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Nov. 25th, 2015

Today is the 30th anniversary of the start of my career at my employer, the big reference book company.

  • Reagan was president, Thatcher was UK Prime Minister, Mulroney was Canadian Prime Minister.
  • My first typewriter was a Selectric 1 — it didn't even correct!
  • We had PR1ME computers, but only one of them, and it had 11 GB of storage — for an entire company.
  • My hair was short. I wore ties. Still had a beard, but there was no gray in it and it was short.
  • I had written songs, but almost nothing anyone knows now since those all came in the 1990s.
  • Internet? HA. There were no personal computers anywhere.
  • The number one song on Billboard's Hot 100 was ... "We Built This City" by Starship.

The start of my career went very easily. I started the Monday before Thanksgiving. I worked three days, then had two holidays. Then I worked maybe 3 1/2 weeks, and got about two weeks off for Christmas and New Years because the whole company closed down. (We do not do that now.)

I bounced around "editorial" for 20 1/2 years, being project manager for several directories, encyclopedias, and other references. For the last 9 1/2 years I've been a compositor, which you could've called "typesetter" if there was actual type to set. I've outlasted my first three managers, but the last three are still here (longtimers all).

It's in my DNA, you know; my father worked at the same company for over four decades. Stability is nice, because it leaves you time to do other things. But, to be honest, I have no idea how this happened. Long ago, I had a coworker/friend who said if he was here in five years, someone should kill him (or something to that effect). I never said that, but I sure wasn't thinking this far ahead.

So, anyway... here I am, still, and I'm happy to be here.


Nov. 23rd, 2015

Late last week, at lunch, I told a coworker that I was going to withdraw from the world and explore virtual reality. The lunch chatter was mostly about awful things in the world, so maybe my instinct was understandable. So, over the weekend, I actually did something; I got an account on Second Life. I'd only been thinking about it for ten years or so. The main reason for my long reticence was, I was kind of scared of the learning curve, but that's not a good reason to avoid anything, really. (Well, performing brain surgery, maybe.) So I set up my avatar, downloaded the software, and started wandering around in what I'm sure is the endearing way all SL newbies do, which is about as coordinated as a 18-month-old who has recently learned to not only walk, but to fly. Yes, one can fly in SL. I don't know if one can crash, yet. I was pretty careful the one time I tried it.

Apparently it's going to take hours to get my avatar to where it looks as I want it to. It doesn't even have a beard yet! This is something up with which I will not put, to quote Churchill. At least it has long hair, though. More importantly, I'm going to have to figure out what to do in Second Life. It's not exactly a game where you, say, capture a bunch of portals and defeat the rebels and go up a level. (There are games in SL, but you don't have to play them.) Some people sell things to others, some people like to build things, some just like to chat. I've heard there are people who give live concerts. Hm. That's an idea.

Seriously, though, did I really need another online social outlet? Especially since I don't use all the ones I'm on very well. <looks at recent missed days in LJ> Well, hey. It's free, so far, and it's only time spent.

Anyway, are any of you-all on Second Life? Wanna tell me about it?


Nov. 21st, 2015

The first snow of the season arrived today. My neighborhood was in the fringe of the high snow area and got around five inches or so of wet gloppy snow. Toward the north and west accumulations doubled that. In far northwest Oakland County, where my sister lives, they got eleven inches.

I can report that the Subaru seems to do very well in the snow/slush so far. I've had no slipping and sliding, and it feels very sure-footed, if a car can feel anything-footed.

I took only one photo so far, but it was this morning when we'd only gotten about an inch and a half. It's very pretty, though, the way the snow is sticking to the bare trees and glistening in streetlights.

The snow won't stay, probably. It's supposed to get warmer in the next few days, and it's so wet it'll readily melt. I'm sure we'll get more. Guess I'll need new winter boots after all.


Nov. 19th, 2015

Not only do I have the (almost entirely self-created) pressure of writing thirty LJ posts in November as a poor man's replacement for NaNaWriMo, coming up is my 3,000th Tweet ’ only six Tweets to go. Traditionally, it's a haiku. My haikus haven't always been fine works of art. For example, here's number 2000:

Auspicious number ...
two, comma, three big zeroes:
my two thousandth Tweet

I think I wrote that one because I wasn't Tweeting anything, because nothing good enough for a milestone came to mind. Finally I had to get things moving again.

I can't find Tweet Number 1000. Maybe I have it in a file at home. Anyway... I've been on Twitter for over six years now. The first thousand Tweets took a while, but each of the last two thousands piled up much more quickly. This counts retweets, by the way; no, I haven't written 2,994 original Tweets. In my defense, (1) Some people write real good, and (2) Everyone else is doing it.

Tweet number 3,000 should occur either tomorrow or Saturday, if my current Tweeting rate holds. I will be sure to post it here, too, because I gotta fill up LJ somehow.


Nov. 17th, 2015

If you, like me, don't know much about Islam, particularly the variety espoused by Daesh and Saudi Arabia, this may help:

You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

I'm about halfway through it, and it seems like a well-written explanation. You may need scrap paper to keep track of all the people named ibn Wahhab or ibn Saud, though. Wikipedia helped me fix the dates of the founders of Wahhabism and the House of Saud.


Nov. 15, 2015: Periscope wrap-up

A final post about my experiment with Periscope.tv: It turns out that the show I performed and videoed on Tuesday was kept on the servers for only 24 hours, so the playback disappeared early on Thursday. I apologize to anyone who went looking for it. I didn't know that would happen. There's also no way for me to download a show and save it myself. Art is ephemeral, even with computers, I guess.

I'm trying to hatch a plan to do a show via ConcertWindow.com. In fact, I wanted to do that first, and I set up an account there, but then the Periscope thing came up and I did that first. I have no word yet on when I'll do anything on ConcertWindow. I think you will not have to download an app or anything for this, because it seems to live on the Web.


I'll write about the attacks in France, because I feel I should, but I can't say I have anything useful to say. Very few people in America have anything useful to say, except for expressions of sympathy, perhaps. Yet it's not as if I think we should go on social media and make grandiose statements of how we are all French, or anything like that. Grandiose statements are of no use. Actions would be more useful.

And yet, what actions? America often seems to feel as if we must step in and do something. The LAST thing we should do is that. France is a grown-up country with a longer history than ours. The attacks were perpetrated by either French citizens or residents who are very disaffected (encouraged by ISIS), or by ISIS itself, and either way it's up to France to work out what they must do, and to ask for help if they deem it useful.

Which leaves America still groping for responses, and many of those are knee-jerk useless ones. Michigan's governor has decided we should halt processing applications from Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks. How these two go together is at best tenuous and vague. It seems mean to me to take America's already tepid response to the refugee crisis and lessen it further. (Yes, southeast Michigan could be a good destination for Syrian refugees, given the significant population of people of Levantine heritage already here.)

I have no idea what to do. Almost any idea seems to cause additional problems that would severely worsen things. I have a fear that no matter what, we're entering a period of war and destruction and hate, which will only put off a solution that can only be reached through negotiation and compromise.

Of course, one could argue that with the Paris attacks coming on the same day as horrific destruction in Beirut, and continuing wars across the Middle East, we're already in such a period. That's something we should mourn, but more importantly, try to end. Somehow.


Nov. 14th, 2015

I forgot I was doing a post a day, or 30 posts in November, or whatever I'm doing here.

We had a couple of days of high winds this week. It didn't seem to cause as much damage as was feared, fortunately. Wind complicates everything and makes me uneasy at an existential level. I'm glad to say that it's a lot calmer now, and it's expected to be clear for a few days.

I finished my open enrollment for company-sponsored benefits this week. It's one of those painful exercises that we do here in the one advanced country without a national health program. The adjustments I made lowered my paycheck deductions by about $1.50. To me, that seems like quite an achievement; one just expects it'll go up every year.

Tonight, I'm at The Dovetail coffeehouse waiting for the show to start... three singer/songwriters, Mark Anthony, Anna Bitzinger, and Mike Galbraith, are performing. It should be a fine night. I really like Mike's songs and his gritty but gentle delivery. Check out his Bandcamp page.

Nov. 11th, 2015

The Periscope experiment was ... interesting. The app tells me there were 14 viewers. I've heard from two friends who were trying to watch via computer who didn't receive the video portion and had problems with the audio too. Friends who were on mobile devices got everything. Periscope says they support web viewers, but maybe that's true for folks on the latest operating systems. The sound was good, though; better than I would've expected through a smartphone's microphone. The program from last night is still available on my profile page. It plays back better as a replay than it did live on a computer, but it's still a little herky-jerky on the video. I don't think I can save it to my desktop and do anything with it.

Musically ... well, I managed to go completely blank on the first verse of one of my own songs. Boo. I got all the words to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and the original song I finished up with.

Overall, it was a good experiment. I can recommend Periscope if you want a quick and easy video setup, but only if all your friends are on smartphones and tablets, I guess. I set up an account at ConcertWindow.com a while ago, and I want to try that sometime. I know that one works with desktops and laptops.


Open mic night via Periscope

I'm going to tonight's open mic night at The Dovetail coffeehouse, with the specific intent to play Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" along with two songs of mine. I'm going to try to webcast it via Periscope.tv, because the degree of difficulty is not high enough already. (That's a joke, son.) So if you're not going to be there, you can watch from where you are. I don't have a spot on the open mic list yet, but I'm hoping to get one of the first few slots, which means I'll be playing between 8:15 and 9:30 p.m. Eastern U.S. time.

Periscope is an app that works well on iPhones and Androids, so look for "songdogmi" in the app. It's also viewable on the web if you point your browser to http://periscope.tv/songdogmi. I think (don't quote me yet) that I'll be able to save the webcast to be viewed later, too.


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