“Hey, why no posting for three days?!”

Well, let Inigo tell the tale here:

Yeeeeeeah. That was…a weekend. Friday was busy wrapping up stuff at work so I could enjoy a three-day weekend. Saturday we went to the Sterling Renaissance Festival, where much fun was had and many photos were taken, none of which have been edited yet. And Sunday was when…news happened. And yes, I have opinions and thoughts…but I’m still off today and I’m still in a state of Very Taxed Brain and I suspect that won’t start to finally abate until I finally get a full eight days’ vacation in early August. For various reasons I have had to go all the way from last Christmas to the second week of August without any vacation beyond a handful of three-day weekends, and one thing I know without doubt is that I am not made to go that long without vacation. So, my brain is an increasing state of steam-driving cog gears trying to muscle a train uphill in a fog.

And then, news happens. Processing the events of yesterday is a work-in-progress. I was going to write something about Aaron Sorkin, who showed up with a deeply weird op-ed yesterday, and maybe I still will at some point, but then about halfway through the day news happened.

So anyway…yeah, I took a few days off and then when I started thinking I should write, the world put my brain back in the scrambler. Anyway, how are you?

[A disclaimer: I feel that I should note that my long period without vacation time is in no way to be attributed to a fault of my employer! I had plenty of time but personal events last year, mostly pertaining to my parents’ health and Mom’s eventual passing, demanded the burning of most of it in pretty short order. It happens. Sadly, my date at which my vacation time renews isn’t until July 30.]

Posted in Life | Tagged | 1 Comment

Something for Thursday

OUR SCENE: A large suburban grocery store, where Your Humble Narrator is working to hang decorative string-lights above one of the departments. Along comes a HAPPY COWORKER WHO LIKES TO MAKE HAPPY JOKES.

HAPPY COWORKER: [grinning widely] Hey! You light up my life!

YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR: [returns smile] Hey! I get that reference!

HAPPY COWORKER: [still grinning, but a bit quizzically now] Reference?

YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR: [smile starts getting nervous] The song?

HAPPY COWORKER: [somehow still grinning, even though she has completely no idea what YHN is talking about] Song?

YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR: [look of shell-shocked defeat] Nothing….

The HAPPY COWORKER goes off in search of more amusement, leaving YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR to diminish and fade into the West….

First time I’ve thought about this song since I was a kid, I’m guessing….

Posted in music | Tagged | 1 Comment

Tone Poem Tuesday (716 Day edition)

Today is 716 Day! That’s when we turn as a nation to the region of The 716 and bow to the country’s greatest place. Or something like that! In truth, with the possible exception of Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather live, even with all this area’s warts and self-inflicted unforced errors. There’s just too much that I love about this region. Ditch it for one of the Carolinas, so I don’t have to shovel snow and pay less taxes? No, thank you!

Here’s a photo I took last week of downtown Buffalo, as seen through the support pylons of Buffalo’s Skyway. I like how this one turned out, especially since this isn’t my final edit at all; this is a very quick edit of the jpeg in Snapseed. I haven’t put the RAW file into Lightroom yet, so we’ll see how that turns out.

And now, music! Here is “Flivver Ten Million” by Frederick Converse, a work which honors the ten millionth Ford vehicle. The piece is actually about Detroit, but this performance is by the Buffalo Philharmonic, which makes it appropriate. Plus, Detroit and Buffalo are quasi-sister cities in a lot of ways (some good, some bad). 

Posted in On Buffalo and The 716, On Music | Tagged , | 1 Comment

And now, a dragonfly

Walking at Knox Farm yesterday, I arrived at the pond on the park grounds and noticed a bunch of dragonflies zipping around one end. These dragonflies were pretty striking-looking, with stripes on their wings. I stuck around a bit, trying to photograph them, and I actually did manage a few, though not without an unforced error. Earlier I had been trying to get a few photos of a couple of bees drinking from a birdbath, and to do those I put my camera into its Macro mode. And then, I forgot to take the camera out of Macro mode for trying to shoot the dragonflies, which I had to try and shoot from a distance. So, the focus wasn’t what I would have liked had I not screwed up my camera settings, but a few shots turned out OK. Here’s one that I gave a quick and rough edit earlier on Snapseed (a good mobile photo editing app). I’ll try to give it a better polish using Lightroom sometime in the future, but for now, this looks pretty good to me.

 

Posted in On Exploring Photography, Photographic Documentation | Tagged , | Comments Off on And now, a dragonfly

Sunday Stealing

I actually had a different post in mind for today, but current events have made me not want to write about that particular topic just now. Instead, let’s do the Sunday Stealing, which this week is about summertime stuff. (Roger did this one too, as always, but I’m actually not going to read his answers until I’ve written mine!)

1. What is the hottest temperature you’ve seen this summer so far? 

We were in the 90s for a few days last month. That was enough to make me wilt! If you don’t like your summers super hot, Buffalo’s a good place to live. We have never once hit 100 degrees since they started keep those records, back whenever it was that they started recording that stuff. With climate change ongoing I don’t know how realistic it is to think that record is going to stand, but there it is. The same breezes off Lake Erie that can make the snow really brutal in the cold months also keeps it from hitting the century mark, so there’s that. I’ve also availed myself of the lake breezes by going to the Buffalo Outer Harbor much more often this year for my photography walks.

I am actually better at coping with heat than I used to be, which I find very interesting. The Wife used to be the one who did well in heat where I started getting salty anytime it went above 78 degrees, and I used to basically retire overalls from June through mid-September. Now, I find I can be outside relatively comfortably well into the 80s (especially if there’s a breeze), and I am still wearing overalls constantly. In fact, I find that the lack of a tight waistband on overalls makes them in fact cooler.

Here I am, by the way, at Knox Farm State Park earlier this very day! It’s mid-80s today, so…yeah.

2. What is your favorite summer beverage?

Non-alcoholically, I have become a huge fan of sparkling water in recent years, and I drink tons of the stuff. It keeps me hydrated and helps satisfy my urge for something fizzy (I love fizz). There are more and more flavors coming out now, which is lovely. I have recently discovered that a half-lemonade, half-lemon sparkling water mix approximates sparkling lemonade, so that gives me a cheaper option for something I like a great deal.

In terms of booze and beer, I love the shandy beers that are popular now; Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy (beer with lemonade) is the heavy hitter on the market, but I’ve been mad at Leinenkugel for a while now, so I’ve switched to Narragansett’s version.

(Why was I mad at Leinenkugel? Because they discontinued my favorite product of theirs, Sunset Wheat, and refused to bring it back…but I’ve just Googled it and apparently they did bring it back? Hmmmm. I’ll have to go have a look next time I’m at Consumer’s Beverages.)

3. Have you seen any fireflies/lightning bugs yet? Cicadas?

I haven’t seen cicadas, but I’ve sure heard them! I’ve seen fireflies, though. They live in the woods out back and they are magical.

4. What are the last 3 things you bought online?

OK, that doesn’t have anything to do with summer! But, I bought two pairs of vintage overalls recently (they’re still in shipment) and a purple mandarin-collar dress shirt to go with the yellow and pink ones that I already own.

5. Where do locals go to cool off?

Probably the beaches of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, local streams and lakes for various frolicking, and onto the waters themselves–lots of boats around here! 

6. Where did you buy your last postcard and what was on the pc?

I have no earthly idea. 

7. What’s your favorite summertime scent?

The aroma of the corn on the cob when you open the wax paper after cooking. The charcoal and the meat on it. Freshly-mown grass is always a lovely scent. We have milkweed growing out front that we refuse to remove because it’s good for caterpillars; that stuff smells wonderful when it’s flowering. And in the very early summer–actually, it’s late spring–the blooming lilacs.

Late summer is when the scents of harvest start to take over….

8. What kind of a/c do you have – central, room, fans only, chillers, none and what temperature do you set it to?

We have central air, and honestly, I can’t function without it. What I said above about me being able to deal with higher temps than I used to doesn’t mean that I want to deal with higher temps. I need the inside of the house to be a refuge from intense heat. We set it to 68 overnight and 72 during the day. Sometimes, when it’s really hot and the AC runs more than it normally does, the coil will actually ice up. I notice that when I think, “Huh, the AC’s running but it sure seems warm in here,” and when I check the vents, nothing is coming out. When that happens I switch the fans from “Auto” to “Run” and then turn off the AC, so the fans can blow air across the iced-up coil and melt away the ice; then, when I can feel air issuing forth from the ducts again, I turn the AC back on.

We also have fans to assist with the air circulation, and I run one aimed at me overnight. I like the white noise, and it helps keep me cool overnight.

9. Do you have a summer vacation planned and if so, where are you really going??

Yes, and nowhere.

This has been a rough year for vacations. All the health problems with my parents last year, that led to mom’s passing and some ongoing stuff with Dad that I haven’t written about yet (and I’m not sure if or when I plan to do so), meant that I hit January with three vacation days left to use before my next renewal.

My vacation time renews on July 30.

So, yeah: I’ve basically had to go a full seven months without an actual vacation. That has been really tough. (And no, I do not for one second hold this against my employer in any way. It was just the unfortunate way that particular cookie happened to crumble this year.) So, I promise you, I have a full eight-day vacation scheduled to start almost immediately upon the arrival of August. I don’t usually take vacations that long, but this time I’m going to, because my brain is just increasingly mush. We’ll probably go to the County Fair a time or two, and I’m hoping to schedule a full day of street and architecture photography in the City of Buffalo, but no trips planned at this point.

10. What are your favorite summer activities?

I don’t know that I have any activities that are specifically summer activities! I love hiking year-round, and cooking year-round, and all the rest of it. Locations can be summer only: Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, for instance, is a lot less interesting when the boats aren’t there…but I’m not even sure I’m right about that. Various festivals, though–the Sterling Renaissance Festival, the Erie County Fair–are summertime staples.

11.  What’s your favorite summertime food?

Peaches, fresh tomatoes. We’re coming up on the season for our actual favorite summer-time meal: BLTs and corn on the cob. Corn used to be a butter-and-salt-always affair, but the last few years we’ve discovered Mexican Street Corn, which is amazing stuff. A bit filling and rich, though! Fresh fruit salads are always wonderful.

Oh, and the local black raspberries. I need to figure out how to get a bush of those going. That’s the flavor of childhood, for me. In the house I mainly grew up in, there was a hedgerow along the property, and in that hedgerow were several bushes of these things. Picking them and eating them right off the bush? That’s where I’m transported when I get to eat these. I found a vendor selling them at the Farmers Market yesterday, and tonight I’ll be enjoying them with some vanilla ice cream. A lovely way to serve them, but…it’s not quite picking them and consuming them right off the bush.

12. Did you ever go to summer school?

Nope!

13. What’s your favorite summertime memory?

Hooo boy, that’s a tough one. I’m honestly not sure I have one. Lots of competition for that title, I must say.

14. Do you like fireworks?

Meh. I do like the way professional fireworks look, but the noise and smoke is awful and it does not make for a happy evening with the dogs. (Currently Carla is the one really affected by them; Hobbes doesn’t seem to react much, but he’s young. Cane got worse and worse with fireworks as he aged.)

15. How do you feel about the longer days of summer?

Heh! I’ve ranted many a time about this very subject on various social media platforms. The longer days themselves are fine, and they come naturally. What I seriously dislike is our artificial pushing of that natural development through Daylight Saving Time. The switch from one clock setting to the next always screws me up for a week, and the Spring Forward one is always brutal. Also, we’ve pushed the Fall Back one so far back that now it seems like we just leap into the darkest time of year in one fell swoop. I do not like this. I also do not like it being light enough outside to read at 9:30pm still; believe it or not, I actually like circadian rhythms and I like darkness when it’s supposed to come. So, the longer days? Great! Helping them along with a dumb policy that is of no actual benefit to anyone? Ugh!

OK, those are my answers. Time to go read Roger’s!

 

Posted in Occasional Quizzes | Tagged | Comments Off on Sunday Stealing

And now, a word from Hubble

An image, actually:

Explanation:

This new image features NGC 1546, a nearby galaxy in the constellation Dorado. The galaxy’s orientation gives us a good view of dust lanes from slightly above and backlit by the galaxy’s core. This dust absorbs light from the core, reddening it and making the dust appear rusty-brown. The core itself glows brightly in a yellowish light indicating an older population of stars. Brilliant-blue regions of active star formation sparkle through the dust. Several background galaxies also are visible, including an edge-on spiral just to the left of NGC 1546.

I need continuing reminders that we live in an astonishing universe and we have astonishing ways of learning about it.

 

Posted in On Science and the Cosmos | Tagged | Comments Off on And now, a word from Hubble

Something for Thursday

This was sad news to see when I got home from work today: Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys died the other day, after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The Oak Ridge Boys weren’t huge in my household, but I do remember that my father liked their sound and some of their songs a great deal. The Oak Ridge Boys really did vocal harmony incredibly well, and with Bonsall’s tenor voice rising above the rest, you always knew that’s who you were listening to. (Well, his tenor rising above and Richard Sterban’s bass diving below.)

I can’t say that I’m super familiar with the Oak Ridge Boys, but there are two of their songs that I do count among my favorite songs of all time. First is likely their biggest hit, “Elvira”, which dominated country radio for a few years in the early 80s. This performance may not be the best in terms of sound or video quality, but I love the 70s-80s vibe here: this is from the old variety show that Barbara Mandrell and her sisters hosted, and the variety-show aesthetic of the time is on full display here. You can just tell these guys are enjoying the hell out of themselves. (And note, in the early going, the guitarist just over Bonsall’s left shoulder. That’s how you get into what you’re doing.)

The other song (I’m pretty sure I’ve featured both of these songs before on this site, but not for quite a while) is one of my favorite songs set in a bar ever. The melody and the lyrics just do something magical here; I can picture the scene in my mind almost perfectly…the bar’s dark lighting, the scents of beer and cigarette smoke, the signs and mirrors on the wall, the pinball machine over there in the corner that nobody’s playing, and the little stage where this lovely woman whose messy-haired beauty isn’t the least bit lessened by her years and mileage, and the patrons watching her sing…with one watching her more lovingly than most, I suspect.

Here is “Y’all Come Back Saloon”. Bonsall isn’t the featured singer here like he was on “Elvira” (along with Sterban in the famous “papa-ooo-mow-mow” parts), but his tenor is still unmistakable.

Thank you for the music, Mr. Bonsall, and condolences to those who knew and loved you. Your music meant a lot, to a lot.

Posted in On Music, Passages | Tagged , | Comments Off on Something for Thursday

On the wing

I doubt I’ll ever have the patience to really embrace wildlife photography as my genre of choice, but I have to say that I’m very happy with how these two shots turned out. One nice thing about photography I’m discovering is that you get pretty much immediate feedback as to how you’re doing, which means you know when you’re leveling up a bit.

Bigger versions can be found on my Flickr stream. Sharp photos of moving birds has been a challenge for me…and I didn’t even use burst to get these!

 

Posted in On Exploring Photography, On Nature, Photographic Documentation | Tagged , , | Comments Off on On the wing

Tone Poem Tuesday

“Well, he must be too busy for a real post today, since he’s sharing something by Franz von Suppe!”

And that, Dearest Reader, is where you’re wrong! Because even though I am posting something by Franz von Suppe, it is not because his overtures are my go-to for when I’m too busy to actually say something about the work in question. Suppe is, of course, best known as the composer of a number of scintillating overtures (which have remained in the standard repertoire, especially for performances of “light” music) to operettas (which have almost entirely not). But those operettas and their overtures only represent the very surface of his output; Suppe was a prolific composer who worked in many genres, which leads me to hope more of his music may resurface and gain new attention…as did the current work.

Apparently conductor Ola Rudner found Suppe’s Fantasia symphonica languishing in an archive somewhere in Vienna, and now, after some musicological work to restore it, the work has been recorded, led by Rudner himself. The piece is, for all intents and purposes, a symphony; one wonders why Suppe didn’t just call it a symphony, and I wonder if it’s a combination of expectations for a composer of light theater music and the fact that the work is rather on the short side for a symphony of the Romantic era (didn’t stop Borodin, but he was Russian, and the rules were a little different in Imperial Russia), and it ends with some bombast that is decidedly unsymphonic. No matter; this is a delightful work that I am deeply glad has been found and brought forward. Hopefully there are more wonderful works by Franz von Suppe awaiting rediscovery!

Here is Fantasia Symphonica by Franz von Suppe…and not because I’m too busy!

 

Posted in On Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Tone Poem Tuesday

46

Just so I have a place I can point to if anyone asks: I don’t know if he should withdraw or stay in. I do know that whatever happens, there is still a choice to be made between one party that values good governance and one that does not. The idea of choosing the party of Project 2025 over the Democrats because the sitting President has issues strikes me utterly insane, and we do not live in a world where a rational case can be made for voting Republican right now.

(Comments closed on this post.)

Posted in Commentary | Tagged | Comments Off on 46