The 1,000 “like” road marker disappearing in the rear view mirror…
The WP auto-post function just told me that I have accumulated 1,000 “likes,” which are all because the imaginary “you” have been appreciating what I’ve been pouring forth since June 22nd. It hasn’t been four months yet and I have so many “likes!” Who knew?!?
I’ve logged 87 posts (one was a repeat, so doesn’t really count and one was a reblog in respect for a new WordPress-induced friend) in 111 days, meaning that I’ve hit about 78% of the days between start and present. Not bad. Could be better. Let’s see if I can pick up the slack.
Confabler nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award!
My distant, yet close friend Confabler has nominated me for the Shiny Shiny Sunshine Award. I love her imagination and sense of whimsy; she lets her muse du jour lead and she follows. There’s a wonderful freedom to that which is (1) difficult to allow in the rational process of “writing” and (2) enjoyable to find.
1. If you were to choose an insect that would take over the world after human extinction, who would that be?
It sort of depends on our route to extinction. If it involved an epidemic, the population of flies might see a giant uptick. This would be a good one:
If it is a slow process, then I nominate the Japanese Rhinoceros beetle because it would be awesome if creatures with such improbably fashioned protuberances were to be the alpha species (Megasoma and Titan beetles would be acceptable alternatives):
If our extinction took all other terrestrial life along for the ride, I would like to see this enormous isopod (a relative of our terrestrial roly-polies) rule the seas (note inclusion of actual human hands for sense of scale):
2. How old were you when you first read Harry Potter? And your favorite author of course?
I was pretty old when I read my only Harry Potter book (the first one). I didn’t enjoy it enough to complete the series, although I’ve seen all the films and enjoyed them well enough. In the period I read that first one, I was typically reading a lot of history and didn’t find that it was a good use of my time. When I was really young, I read the Classics Illustrated versions of novels, which were quite good at introducing a curious young mind to the wonders of literature without having to do the work (sort of illustrated CliffsNotes (I didn’t use these in school though), if you will). When I was a little older, I read Robert E. Howard, Sax Rohmer, John Carter of Mars, H. Rider Haggard, Stanley Weinbaum, George McDonald fantasies, etc.
My favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez for One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. His writing is so rich, amusing, full of simple wisdom and abundant humanity it is hard to believe he was just a human being writing about the lives he saw playing out around him. I literally would read some passages and have to put the book down as if I had just sipped the richest chocolate elixir in the world and needed to savor it until I sipped again. His Spanish-to-English translators did a good job in getting it right; Gregory Rabassa (OHYoS translator) was even praised by Garcia Marques himself!
3. If you were invisible what is the craziest thing that you would do?
Here’s an odd one: Go and hang around bigots, transcribe their conversations, and publish them for the world to see how terrible people speak when they think no one is listening (but, oh yeah, we have the internet so this already happens). If I could walk through things, which seems fair since I’m invisible, I would go around seeing what it felt like to do that—see if there were different textures to different things on the inside than on their surface.
4.what food makes you feel like a hungry hyena?
This has changed so much over time! These days, I don’t get this kind of urge anymore. In my early adult (late teen?) years… ICE CREAM!!!!
5. A song that makes you dream?
Gymnopedie #1 by Erik Satie
6. Have you ever planted a tree?
Yes. Unasked but answered: quite a few!
7. Choose your man: superman/ Spiderman/ iron man and if he was your best friend one thing that you would make him do?
Can I choose Supergirl? If I can, I would have her take me around to various places in the world, build shelters so I could stay there and visit free, then whisk me off to the next place on “our” list (she would be enjoying the sight-seeing with me, of course! What kind of boor do you think I am?!?!).
8.How much time do you spend in front of the mirror everyday?
As little as possible, which involves shaving and brushing my teeth. I find that shaving my teeth first helps with the brushing.
9.why you started blogging and tell us about the post enjoyed the most making.
I was having a bunch of conversations with people who did not seem to understand the wonderful humility of learning and doing science and wanted to see how well I could write about how science is a discipline that can assist us all in not leaning out too far over our skis (getting ahead of ourselves and pretending we know stuff we don’t). Blogging has become so much more than that since my first post on June 22, 2016, and I have had so much fun writing fiction and revisiting some poetry I wrote several decades ago (and finding them easier to “fix” than I remembered).
I’m not sure which of my posts I enjoyed the most. They’re all my children so I like them all? I probably like the odd bits of fiction that I had no idea were inside me when I woke up and then found them on the page looking up at me. I like The Big Day of these. Of the science posts, I like The Mess: Parts 1 & 2 and the Appendix 1 items best (maybe). Of the historical pieces, I like Risk Management. Of the life pieces, I like Building Blocks the best. Anyone who reads this is encouraged to make up their own mind; I am hopelessly biased.
10. Which social media platform are you addicted to (including WordPress)?
I don’t do much social media except WordPress. I don’t like Facebook at all and deleted my account. WordPress is addicting but in a very healthy way! You get to create something and share it with new friends from all over the world. That’s a great addiction have.
Now the rules:
1.thank the person that nominated you.
Thank you, Confabler. You are a true virtual friend, and I don’t mean that in any Pokemon way either!
2. Answer the questions from your nominator.
3. Nominate fellow bloggers you follow.
Hereinafter lie the following nominees in no particular order (order, of course, being an illusion):
Confabler – it would be completely wrong not to boomerang this thing back at her; how could I like what she writes and like that she nominated me but ignore why we share interests at all?
November_child – in her poetry, every word is judiciously considered for its various meanings and the images they stir and she makes great short stories that are deep and playful and serious all at the same time
anonymouslyautistic – for doing an AMAZING job of writing about this misunderstood spectrum of living – and for inviting others who share her interest to contribute
English Lit Geek – because she searches the web and her library for poems that communicate her inner soul to us all out here in the ‘sphere and I appreciate this!
Wiser Daily – because this guy writes REALLY well about every single subject he wraps his mind around, because he is not a scientist but writes extremely clearly about science, because he is just a damned good writer!
Breathmath – because they are doing an astonishingly serious job of trying to get the world to see the beauty in mathematics
Sheryl – because she’s written a book, is working on others, has great tips for doing the same, and kindly visits my offerings fairly often
The Nexus – because he writes REALLY well about physics and does a great job of doing what I set out to do, whether I’m doing it on any given day or not
The Biology Yak – because she is passionate about biology and shares her passion in every word on every topic she chooses
afternoonifiedlady – even though I have no idea what it is to be an afternoonifiedlady, I love her rants about living with and without her ex and trying to wrestle with notions of romance – she is very witty and amusingly pissed off!
The funny thing about melody is that it describes a phenomenon that can only be experienced by letting the vibrations set off by carefully tuned instruments in the indicated ranges start the vibration of all those molecules of “air” that lie between the instrument and your ears. This sends an interpreted version of those vibrations through a series of mechanisms in your ears and turns them into nerve signal versions of what started off, typically, as a string or a column of wind wiggling around under a bow or through a tube with holes set to open and close as fingers press valves. Well, or as a column of wind from a singer’s lungs getting vocal chords or just the right type to flap flutter in just the right way.
If we try to talk about melody using words, we can evoke feelings that the melody “makes” us feel (although our feelings are very subjective and individualized). We can use adjectives that attempt a description of the melody but unless we sing the melody ourselves we cannot really talk about it without sounding a little idiotic. In the following passage of proto-words, I am going to describe the first two bars of BWV-773:
Here it is as written by J.S. Bach (treble clef only, nothing in the bass clef those first two bars):
You can listen to the first two bars or go all the way through the following piece (which differs from the above in that the last quarter note is played as eight 32nd notes) and you will hear something which we might describe as “beautiful” or “serene” or “carefree” or “dull” or “boring” – it’s really up to you how this makes you “feel” about it. Nonetheless, the series of “duh-duh”s that I wrote above doesn’t describe it in any way. It sort of has the rhythm of the notes as written but has none of the intervalic—between-note or between-frequency-values—movement that really provides the beauty (for me, at least).
In a massive departure from the above, Steve Reich’s 1966 piece Come Out uses recordings of the human voice speaking in overlayed loops to establish both melody, harmony, rhythm, meter, tempo, and slowly shifting counterpoint (a huge element of many Reich compositions (see Music for 18 Musicians for what I consider a spectacular piece)).
An element that is really neat about Come Out is that the voice, although it is speaking just a few words, which then gets looped (repeated), it is defining notes. Three notes descending in a scale from the first “come out to…,” then back up and down one “…show them.” A little group of five notes, repeated and increasingly confounded into a cluster of sound. The point here is that we all TALK in melodies all of the time but most of us tend to hear the words and ignore the changes in frequency that occur within words and between words. The notes we touch while we are talking are not necessarily in the scales with which we have become most familiar in the western world. There are more notes in the speech of human beings than just those used in “formal” composition (unless you’re Reich, Laurie Anderson, or many others who compose using this approach.)
This gets us over into the world of microtones-the notes that live between the notes most often chosen for western classical and popular music. Many music forms from around the world have used microtones for centuries, if not millennia. It may be that the earliest music just didn’t really concern itself with being “in tune” in any currently recognized sense of that concept. The melodies were what they were on any given day and the intervals were probably roughly similar to what they were the previous day but the focus on how those scales were divided up was probably less important.
Here’s a nice introductory talk on how microtones play an important role in contemporary—and in world—music.
Wendy Carlos used a variety of extended tuning techniques on her ground-breaking work Beauty in the Beast. You will probably notice very quickly that we are no longer in Kansas. Try not to reject the tones you hear. Understand these intervals on their own terms. It will be difficult. It will not be impossible.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2j1gy2 It is impossible to say with any certainty why or how humans started making music. It is impossible to say whether singing or rhythms (pounding out beats on wood or rock or our own bodies). Try to imagine, though, a year of days in which the only sounds were bird songs, calls from various animals living pretty close, the sound of a stream or river being brushed by winds of various velocities, which also rustle the leaves of every tree in a cascade of microtones and rhythms that change constantly until they are quiet, until they “rest” (meant in the musical sense of a pause between notes). Perhaps we heard all of these sounds and started to mimic some in our speech or in our songs, in our pounding out rhythms, rock-to-rock, stick-to-log. Really, who knows?
It is impossible to say with any certainty why or how humans started making music. It is impossible to say whether singing or rhythms (pounding out beats on wood or rock or our own bodies). Try to imagine, though, a year of days in which the only sounds were bird songs, calls from various animals living pretty close, the sound of a stream or river being brushed by winds of various velocities, which also rustle the leaves of every tree in a cascade of microtones and rhythms that change constantly until they are quiet, until they “rest” (meant in the musical sense of a pause between notes). Perhaps we heard all of these sounds and started to mimic some in our speech or in our songs, in our pounding out rhythms, rock-to-rock, stick-to-log. Really, who knows?
Try to imagine that, though, and listen to some portion of the following. Close your eyes, find their melodies and sing along. You may be singing the songs of your ancestors.