I took my 8 year old to Richmond Virgina for a summer roadtrip. We went to the Virginia Fine Arts Museum there - it's free and I'm a big fan.

While in the classical European gallery highlighting 17th and 18th century paintings and tapestries , we see this painting which is clearly not like the others.  So the kiddo asks about it.

I talk to her about how most of the portrait painting here are of (or for) Old Rich Dead White dudes, so a modern artist decided to paint a portrait of a dude who isn't old rich and dead. And we talked a bit about the whys and whatfors.

In the same gallery was this small painting

To which my kid exclaimed, "Look mom, and Old Rich Dead White Dog!"

I love that kid.

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7/29
 

I was going to take my old Huffy mountain bike to the local shop to get a tune-up, as i hadn't ridden it in 4 years and i've been itching to get back on the horse since GBS.  As we walked past our neighbor's house, he mentioned that he had a road bike he wanted to sell.  I'd wanted to move on from the Huffy, because it's heavy and i'm just not as strong as i used to be, so i ended up buying his bike pretty much on the spot, putting the Huffy back in the Garage of Doom, and taking the new bike to the shop instead.

I picked it up today and rode it for the first time.  It'll take a little while to get used to the new handlebars, but the main obstacle is keeping my head raised, which causes my neck muscles to quickly get very sore. This will no doubt be the primary topic when i next see my physical therapist (whom i started to see recently for fine-tuning my remaining minor issues, mainly my shoulders).

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Have you read Ilana’s posts over on Dreamwidth about her new electric bike?

Yay for physical therapy! Paul has had problems biking for similar strain/discomfort reasons. He’s been seeing a PT whose combination of tissue manipulation, dry needling, and strengthening exercises has transformed Paul’s neck.
I've not, although i have been thinking about getting one. If i were to have a commute again, i'd consider it strongly.
rone 7/28
New Bike Feeling is such a good feeling.
 

(I wrote this at 4:00am on Saturday morning.)


Hi, all!

It's been go-go-go land here, so I apologize for not writing or generally being more present or responsive. I have been reading here and trying to comment where I can, but that's about all I can offer for the next 8-9 days or so.


We are now just a few days away from Beatlefest 2019. It's going to be the same format as last year, in the same location, etc.

The biggest change for me is that instead of using three enormous 3-ring notebooks full of sheet music, I'm trying to use my new tablet that I bought expressly for this purpose. I struggled so much last year juggling several percussion instruments and having to turn pages, so I needed something electronic with a bluetooth foot pedal. I labored over my decision, and I chose the Boox Onyx Max2 Pro, 13.3" e-ink tablet, so it's crazy-light, and easy on the eyes, and displays a sheet of music at full Letter Page size that my 48-year-old eyeballs can read.  I've been using this amazing app called MobileSheets Pro which is everything you want in a music-performance device. 

Sadly, the app blew up last night (Friday night, just 11 hours ago) and I lost 4 days' worth of the notes I transcribed from my paper notes from last year. I am heartbroken. The app developer is ridiculously responsive, so he may be able to salvage some of it. I am not hopeful, but we're trying.


It's very late (or early, depending on how you view days)-- I've been trying to fix this since 5:30pm and now it's 4:09am (good morning, Jenn!). Today (Saturday) we core-band BeatleFest people move into the venue and get everything wired up for sound, and then we run a quick sound check with the core band.  Then the strings, horns, and Indian musicians come in Sunday to get them wired up and rehearsed.  

And then we start Beatlefest on Monday! 


In other news, my iron levels have crashed, but I go for an infusion on Tuesday (yes, a Beatlefest day). That was the fastest they could get me in, so I'll take it... and hopefully I'll be feeling magically awesome by Thursday night when I really need to be thinking clearly. It's remarkable how fuzzy my brain is when it doesn't get oxygen. 


Away we go!

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I miss you
I miss you, too. Genuinely, sincerely.
I can't believe your app crashed at the worst time! I hope you get something back!
Karen 7/28
The good news is that I got it all back! The bad news is I lost 3 days doing so, so now I'm 3 days behind in getting the rest of my written notes re-written into the tablet. Tonight (Night 3 of Beatlefest) is the last night of notes I have in my tablet. Nights 4-6 have no notes written, and they are also coincidentally the hardest friggin' music.

I'll get it done, though. Just gotta do it.
good morning! :)

booooooo to that app crashing, that completely sucks. but all that tech sounds so cool! i always wondered how people using a tablet for music turned the pages, didn't realize it was a foot pedal. i feel like i'm living in the future.
Jenn A 7/28
Yep! It's a bluetooth pedal! Some folks prefer to just tap the tablet which turns the page, which is still infinitely easier than turning paper pages. They even make a drum-pad that triggers the page turn for drummers.
 

It's so hard to live a life through the constant filter of physical pain. It's so hard to explain it as well.

It's not even a bad day today, just having some nostalgic moments on a warm summer evening, and I know there was a time I lived and moved freely and without this thing tugging at me, in my back, my legs, and tonight, my arms and neck and head.

I once sat without any awareness of my body at all. I sat in the air and just *was*. I hear music or remember a moment and it surprises me how far from that I am.

Just putting the thought down on paper, not for any particular reason.


music: The Smashing Pumpkins - "Soma"

mood: nostalgic

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Message received.

Thank you for sharing this.

Thanks, Robert.
Karen 7/28
your response to pain is badass

you're not in pain
pain is a filter between you and the world
pain is happening to you
it's not you

that's varsity-level existential practice
talkers don't know how much maintenance that boundary requires
you know
you do it

thank you
You have an unusually accurate insight into this. I am humbled.
Karen 7/30edited
I've been thinking about physical pain a bunch, lately.

Recently, during a staycation with my spouse when all three of our kids were not home day and night for a couple of weeks, we chanced to have access to a pharmaceutical-grade drug that, while not categorized as any class of pain killer, nonetheless allows you experience a complete absence of physical pain for a few hours. Generally, that isn't the most remarkable aspect of this particular substance, though it makes perfect sense physiologically; it's rarely commented upon at all, except in cases where it's used therapeutically in end-of-life care.

By my reckoning, I'm about a decade older than you. I don't have high levels of chronic pain and fatigue as you do, but I do have an accumulation of aches and pains, both from general living of life and from specific traumas over the years. Although I do my best to fight entropy, I was finding myself increasingly sad and discouraged. Also—importantly—some pains were becoming more intense and more intractable, and the progression was frightening.

I wondered, after the effects of our staycation had worn off, if the pain and anxiety would be even greater after having such a complete break from it. In fact, the opposite has been true. And at the time, I also experienced a very strong connection to visceral memories of myself as a younger body.

So I'm spending a lot of time pondering that. Thinking about memory, about pain, how pain affects our brain function (which then affects our pain, which then affects our brains, which then...) and how that cycle affects our connection to memory. Thinking about how difficult-to-impossible it is to fully understand either the physical mechanisms for pain or the psychological ramifications. Or even, what is memory itself?
I had once somehow managed to take a combination of cold medicines (for an actual cold) in a such a way that they hit at the right peak for each, without the negative side effects I usually get from them, and I had this perfect feeling of contentment and low-pain. It lasted about 4-6 hours, and I was mostly just amazed. I spent much of the time drinking in the shift in perspective, wondering at the beauty of the mundane things in my room, and how everything that had plagued me just fell away for a moment. I could see the answers to everything, and it was simple: the energy all around us is connected.

It doesn't feel the same anymore, but for a long time after I could touch upon that memory and still feel the revelation.

I believe it's the closest I've come to an ecstasy or acid trip (not sure?) and it has stuck with me. It helped me seperate myself out from what was happening to me, at times. Maybe someday I'll get to do it again, this time on purpose.

I appreciate you sharing your experience.
Karen 7/28edited
 

There's quite a bit about life that could be improved, and where we're able, we're working on it, but I am very happy to be sharing it with the person to whom I've been officially married for sixteen years today. SCHMOOP.

I feel reasonably confident we'll make it to the next power of 2, thirty-two thanks to good health and a stable living situation. If we make it to sixty-four, I'll just state my wish that it not be with significantly lessened quality of life.

If we actually hit one hundred and twenty eight, I will assume we've been at some point uploaded into solar-powered robotic carapaces clattering around the searingly hot, wind-scoured remains of human civilization, making a living wrenching the last few bits of rare earths required to keep ourselves alive. I wonder what kind of sex we'll have?

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It'll likely involve a lot of electrical zapping, clanking noises, and mechanical giggles as you trade various armoring back and forth and model it for each other. Don't forget your oil cans.
Something like peacock spiders, but the size of a Doberman. Picking up old YIELD signs, bending them into clever hats, and leering with telescopic eye-stalks.
My ass is not so shiny, except metaphorically speaking.

I need to learn more twerk. Spider twerk.
So now I need to DuckDuckGo what it means to have a metaphorically shiny ass.
Is DuckDuckGo really where it's at now? Asking for a friend. <3
Karen 7/26
Well, it's less dollars and data for the Goog-el monstrosity. DDG's search is usually adequate though might require a little more scrolling. The big thing is they don't keep a file on you. I've switched all my browsers and devices to DDG.
Sean M Puckett 7/27edited
Thank you for the info!
Karen 7/27
I had to <strike>google</strike> DuckDuckGo peacock spiders. Pretty!!!
Anne Mollo 7/26edited
They dance! So cute!
🤖♥
Hey, that is awesome. Congrats!
Karen 7/26
Congrats! That's something (I feel) to be proud of.
 

We look back at the Apollo 11 mission and see a triumph of human will, technology and daring. But at the time there was a chance that it would all end in disaster. Setting aside the prior Apollo 1 deaths of three astronauts, Gus Grissom, Roger White and Ed Chaffee, in a "plugs out test" of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo Command and Service Modules. There was a single, critical piece of equipment that could not be tested until it was time to use it. Specifically, the Lunar Excursion Module's ascent engine. The LEM descended with a more powerful engine on it's descent stage. But rather that tow all the weight of the descent stage, NASA engineers decided to leave it behind and only ascend to rendezvous with the Command and Service modules with a much lighter ascent stage carrying the astronauts and the moon rock samples.

Of course, Murphy also had to intervene. In the tight confines of the LEM, either Aldrin or Armstrong's life support pack broke off the push button that would activate the ascent engine. Aldrin used a pen nib to push the button and the engine activated, but I can't help but imagine that the atmosphere in the LEM was pretty tense as they approached lunar liftoff.

Tension in the White House was also pretty high. As William Safire wrote this speech for President Nixon to read;

IN THE EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dare to send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern time, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

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Heavy stuff. A pen nib. I love it.

Did you read that white-knuckle article in Wired about the Apollo 11 error messages of doom? It is a brilliant read. The last paragraph or two was also neat, serving as a who's who of "who went on to do what." (It'll make sense when you read it.)

https://www.wired.com/story/apollo-11-mission-out-of-control/
I did read that article. Only nerds would find it horrifying. Fortunately, I'm a nerd. Imagine the first moon landing nearly borked by user error.
Both you and Jill might be interested in listening to this. It's an audio drama/ audio fiction podcast episode speculating about what it would have been like to be on Apollo 11, had everything gone Tango United.

http://www.thetruthpodcast.com/story/2015/10/15/moon-graffiti
 

My Blackberry KeyOne's battery has been bulging uncomfortably for about 6 weeks now. I didn't feel right bringing it on our trip to Portland this past week... I remembered that Samsung Galaxy 7 phones had bulging batteries that would asplode randomly and were prohibited on planes, so I took my cue and tossed my SIM into my previous phone, my Blackberry Priv. 

I looooooooved my BB Priv. It's a slim phone, gorgeous screen, has a slide-out keyboard so you don't even have to use the keyboard if you don't want to (though I always want to). I stopped using it because the battery got shot and wouldn't hold a charge for longer than 5 hours or so, which isn't do-able in real life. Worse is that I dropped it one time with it plugged in and janked up the charging port, so the thing only charges wirelessly. This wouldn't be a problem if it held a charge for a decent amount of time.

Anyhoo, I brought my doesn't-hold-a-charge-long Priv with me to Portland and just kept it in airplane mode unless I actually needed it... and HOLY CRAP how liberating! How fabulous not to be constantly interrupted with bullshit! 

I don't have the self-discipline to not look at it (even with notifications turned off), but with the sucker actually in airplane mode I was able to be much more mindful about my phone usage. It was painless. 

Now that I'm home, I still keep the Priv in airplane mode unless I need it, and my bulging KeyOne (which is wifi only/sans SIM) is in a drawer, and I only use it if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead. 

I made an appointment with a friendly local business guy to replace both "non-replaceable" batteries late next week... it'll take a week for the batteries to arrive. (Strange that he doesn't keep Blackberry Priv or KeyOne batteries in stock /s). 

Anyway, I'm really enjoying being more mindful about my phone use. My friends and family are puzzled as to why my usual speedy text reply-time is now delayed by half-days, but this was fine in 1995 and it's gonna be fine now. I shouldn't be that important to anyone. :-)

In other news, my iron levels are officially in the shitter. If I had more time, I'd explain how my iron was in the shittter 2 months ago but not quite shitty enough where insurance would justify an infusion, so we had to wait until I'm gasping for air like a goddamn guppy out of water like I finally am now. It's weird that I have to "look forward" to getting so shitty so I can get fucking treatment. I hate it.  With any luck I'll be ironed up before Beatlefest.  (Last year I did not get an infusion until after Beatlefest, which was a giant mistake.) Let us pray to the scheduling gods that they can fit me in within the next 2.5 weeks. 

In other other news, our trip to Portland to make music with Sunnyvale was amazing, inspirational, beautiful, and magical, and I'll tell y'all more about it soon. But now I must shower for I stink. 

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My iPhone 6s (shut up) battery started draining super quickly several months ago. I found that putting it in a battery-saver mode where it's not fetching my e-mails until I specifically tell it to do so was just what it needed. It doesn't miss text messages, though, in that mode, which is nice. Maybe you have a similar option on your phone? (Or maybe you don't want it!)

Hopefully I'll get another year out of the battery before I need to find someone to replace it. I like my phone a lot, but iObsolescence is really some of the worst obsolescence capitalism has ever seen.
Alas, battery saver mode isn't quite savey enough for my crappy batt'ry. Because we have such awful cell reception at my house, my phone (any phone) spends a silly amount of brain cycles saying "Cell signal, where are youuuuu? Oh! Look! I have some cell signal! Oh, and now I don't so I'll switch to wifi. But I better keep searching for cell signal!" Repeat and fade. So keeping it in airplane mode kills that off.

But if I lived in a world where Verizon fixed their cell towers after they got damaged in a hailstorm, then Battery Saver mode would be the perfect solution.

Yay for old phones! (No sarcasm-- that is an actual Yay.)
I miss my BlackBerry Curve 83xx so much, I took a photo of it and use it as my iPhone's wallpaper.
Okay, that made me chuckle out loud a little.
Generally good stuff, but...

>if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead.

Too soon.
No recognition /
For green guy's stolid straight-man /
Pursued by evil.
[ from Jeff Swanson’s memorial haiku collection. Evil is a season, right? When does it stop being Evil Season? ]
 
 

The Folio Society is having a 50% off sale on over 160 titles!  It ends on July 12th.

Thinking of you, Beth Adele!

I finally bought the book I have been vulturing around for over a year ...

African Folktales collected by Roger B. Abrahams.

When I was a kid, one of my teachers from kindergarten through first grade was a professional African Storyteller.  Her name was Linda Goss, and not only did she involve us in the interactive process of listening to her stories (call and response chants, answering questions), she also directed some of us in a performance of one of the trickster tales.  We performed it at the local childrens' museum (the Please Touch Museum). Ever since then, I have felt a particular attachment to African folk tales, particularly stories about Anansi the Spider, the trickster who'd put all tricksters to shame ... if only he'd been able to get out of his own way.

I don't remember where Linda's stories originated - if they were tied to a particular country or region.  I was a shy little kid and I was excited to play the Rabbit in the show.  My friend Jenny played the Monkey. I remember crouching on the floor covered in a brightly-colored print and being rabbity, and I remember Anansi.

I've been looking for books of Anansi stories or of just African Folk Tales for years, and they are surprisingly hard to find.  Or maybe not surprisingly.  Anyway, I found one, and the table of contents is maddeningly NOT on the website, but the description gives me hope that Anansi will be inside, eating himself sick and trying to pull one over on his animal friends.

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Oh that looks amazing! The book and the sale!
I LOVE THIS!
TIL : Founded in London in 1947, The Folio Society publishes carefully crafted editions of the world’s finest literature. We believe that great books deserve to be presented in a form worthy of their contents. For over 70 years we have celebrated the unique joy to be derived from owning, holding and reading a beautiful printed edition.

Beautifully crafted, imaginative editions of the world’s great works of fiction and non-fiction, Folio Society books offer a rich literary experience to readers of all ages. The books we select for publication are timeless – we know they will be enjoyed and appreciated now and in the future. Because each book is considered as an individual object of value in its own right, there is a variety to our aesthetic – the only uniformity is in the quality of every single book.
This makes me want to Buy All The Books.
I loved reading this post. Really really.
 

I guess I haven't been keeping up to date with my cellular network protocol lingo. I just always thought that Verizon's network  was CDMA and everyone else was/is GSM. Since I've been on Verizon since my first work-issued on-call cell phone in '99, I just always remembered those four letters (CDMA) as the letters I needed to look for whilst phone-shopping, especially lately for phones bought off Amazon versus phones bought from Verizon directly.

But apparently I'm stupid and old, because CDMA I guess is the old shit, and LTE is the newer/current thing... and Verizon is shutting down its CDMA infrastructure soonish.

If I'm understanding things correctly (I read a whopping one article, so take this info with a giant salt lick), CDMA is what runs the 3G network, and that's what's going away. If you have a 3G-only phone, you will be required to get a new phone. If you live in a place with sketchy 4G/LTE service that falls back on 3G constantly, then you'll have also enable WiFi Calling after 3G/CDMA goes away. And if you're someplace without WiFi, I guess you'll have to eat a dick? 

Verizon's new thing is VoLTE, and it looks like new/current phones need to be able to handle VoLTE ("Voice over LTE"), which also delivers their HD Voice service featuring unicorns and rose-scented farts.  

(I'm so classy today!)

Of course, Verizon will not acknowledge that their cell tower got smashed during a freak 2014 hailstorm here, and within 20 minutes we North Wilmingtonians all went from 5 glorious bars of delicious 4G service to maybe one bar or the dreaded No Signal Triangle. Repeated calls to Verizon and coordinated efforts by neighbors have yielded no fixes, but Verizon is happy to sell you a signal booster/network extender. 


I'm all about no longer supporting ancient stuff, and eventually ripping off the Band-Aid and forcing people to upgrade (*cough* she writes from her physical keyboard phone *cough*).  But I'd rather not be forced to upgrade to something where the supporting infrastructure is broken. 


So maybe it's high time to jump to TMobile or something.  I'm forgetting why I thought staying with Verizon was important. 


Sources: 

https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-218813/

https://www.fxtec.com/forums/topic/fxtec-on-verizon/#post-18556

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I am strangely relieved that eating them does not provide WiFi.