Technical Difficulties

I have to keep this short, but I am having issues with my device and will not be able to post again until those issues are resolved.  It is an issue with the tablet’s battery.

I’m posting this so that no one gets worried about me.  I hope to be back sooner rather than later, but other than a pre-scheduled post I already had queued up to post here, this blog will be quiet for a little while.

I will be back as soon as the issues are resolved, one way or another.  See you all soon!

Advertisements

Everything Under the Sun is in Tune, But the Sun is Eclipsed by the Moon

If you are a Pink Floyd fan like I am, you will recognize that those words in the title are the final lines of the final song, “Eclipse”, in the legendary Pink Floyd album, The Dark Side of the Moon.  I felt this was appropriate, given this post is about my eclipse experience.

Unfortunately, my area of Florida was not in the path of totality, so we were only going to get about 85% coverage of the Sun at the maximum point of the eclipse.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get a good view of the eclipse in maximum phase because Mother Nature had her own plans.  However, I was still able to get some photos to illustrate the eclipse’s effects on us here.  On the bright side, I did get a little view of the final stages through my pinhole viewer.

Ah, the pinhole viewer.  I wasn’t able to find eclipse glasses, so I made a a pinhole viewer instead.

image
Top view of my pinhole viewer.

I used a cereal box, some white paper to cover the bottom of the box, some aluminum foil, tape, and a knitting needle to poke the 3 mm pinhole.  It only took me about 20 minutes to put together on Sunday.  It worked like a charm, even in light to medium cloud cover.

Fast forward to about 1:20 PM Eastern Time.  This was the view out of my bedroom window:

image

Yeah, my window’s a bit dirty.

Here is the view from the same window at 2:00 and again at 2:30.

image

image

To get an idea as to how much the eclipse and the cloud cover affected the ambient light inside, here are side by side pictures of the same corner of my room, one with the blinds open, the other with the blinds closed.

Normally, at this particular time of day in the summer, the rooms on this side of the house (the western side, which faces our front yard) are quite bright with sunlight unless thick cumulonimbus storm clouds have come into the area.  While the clouds here were a little thicker than normal, the color of the clouds shows that they were far from cumulonimbus (which are a very dark gray on the bottom when approaching).  Here is what I ended up seeing in the sky around the time of maximum eclipse:

image

Gray.  Gray and cloudy.  So, unfortunately, I was not able to see the maximum point of the eclipse where I was, inland.  However, I hear that the weather was a little better at the coastline and even in Orlando.  So, this ended up being my view of the actual eclipse as it appeared in Florida:

image
A shot of our TV screen with a live shot of the eclipse as it appeared in Orlando near maximum eclipse.

But, just because I wasn’t able to actually see the eclipse doesn’t mean I missed out on experiencing it.  We still saw some noticeable effects from the eclipse, even with the cloud cover.  For one, we did notice a notable dimming of the sunlight, and as I mentioned, it got about as dark indoors (with no artificial light, we had just the blinds open the entire time) as it normally does when a thunderstorm comes through here, even though the cloud cover wasn’t as heavy and as dark of a gray color as it has when a thunderstorm is approaching.  I probably would’ve had okay visibility with the pinhole viewer if the clouds weren’t opaque, but unfortunately, Mother Nature decided otherwise.  Another noticeable effect we experienced during the maximum stages of the eclipse was the drop in temperature.  This time of year, even in thunderstorm conditions, it is normally quite hot and humid in the afternoon hours, if not in the upper 80s Fahrenheit, then at least in the low 90s.  This time of year, the humidity is enough to break me out into a sweat within 30 seconds to a minute of stepping outside.  When my mom and I stepped outside during the maximum eclipse period, I immediately noticed a difference in temperature.  It felt like it was in the upper 70s or low 80s at this point.  I was not sweating, either.  In fact, it felt quite nice, despite the slight shower that had just popped up (only enough for rain droplets to show up on the cars in our front yard). 

Alas, within an hour, it was already heating back up.  The clouds took so long to clear out that I really only got to use my pinhole viewer for the very end of the eclipse.  Had it been a couple of hours earlier or a couple of hours later, ironically enough, we would’ve had pretty good skies to view it.  Funny how nature likes to mess with us in the weirdest moments.

Here is another side by side picture of the view outside, with an image of the eclipse as seen in Orlando at maximum:

For those of you who actually got to see the total eclipse in person, kudos to you!  The shots I saw of totality during the CBS coverage of the eclipse were quite stunning, and it is definitely a dream of mine to be able to see a total eclipse in person during my lifetime.  Perhaps I’ll find a way to travel to the path of totality when the next solar eclipse comes around in seven years’ time, in 2024.

Before I go, I’d like to leave you with the song that inspired the title of this post, or should I say songs?  The Dark Side of the Moon is one of my favorite albums of all time, and although a lot of people have been playing or downloading Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for this event, I found both “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” from this album playing in my head.

(“You’re So Vain” was also an earworm at one point, too.  “Walking On the Moon”, strangely enough, was not.)

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 15-21

Here are days 15-21 of the 30 Days of Music Challenge I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!  You can also watch the day-by-day version play out on my Tumblr page, but be warned: you may come across some adult language in my posts there (almost all the posts themselves are SFW, though).

Day 15: Favorite Song with a Person’s Name

“Jane” by Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Airplane usually gets most of the credit in influence, but its successor band, Jefferson Starship, had quite a few hits and memorable songs in its own right.  This song showcases the vocals of its then-new vocalist, Mickey Thomas, who had previously sung with Elvin Bishop’s band (and is in fact the singer heard on the guitarist Bishop’s biggest pop hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”).  Thomas, after a lengthy legal dispute with Paul Kantner, became the co-lead singer (along with Grace Slick) to this band’s successor band, Starship in the 1980s, when they had their greatest pop hits from any incarnation of Jefferson Airplane, including three number ones: “Sara”, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, and the oft-mocked “We Built This City”.

Day 16: Song About Drugs & Alcohol

“House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

There are so many great rock songs about drugs and/or alcohol (“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton immediately comes to mind), but this one is immediately memorable because of George Thorogood’s gravelly voice.  The first part of the song details the narrator’s troubles in paying his rent, and after his landlady kicks him out, he finds himself at his favorite bar, continuously ordering the title trio of drinks: one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.  Only the last call ends his odyssey in getting drunk, getting high, and getting loose.  “Bad to the Bone” was Thorogood’s biggest hit, but this pair of songs remains on the song list of classic rock stations everywhere.

Day 17: A Song with Meaning to You

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

You may have seen me reference Harry Chapin in relation to my dad in a previous entry.  Well, if Harry Chapin makes me think of my dad, then Fleetwood Mac makes me think of my mom.  My mom loves Stevie Nicks and the sound of her voice.  This song, “Landslide”, is my mom’s favorite song.  Whenever she hears it, it immediately makes her face light up.  These last few years have not been easy on her.  I prefer to keep the exact details of her condition private at this time, but she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease last year (only my closest friends know the exact details), and I basically am the one caring for her, especially when my dad is away at work.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times it tests me, but at least I am getting time with her.  It is gonna hurt me beyond belief the day she eventually leaves this planet, but this song is a way for me to connect with her.  And I hope she can keep this song with her as long as she possibly can.  (/sad)

Day 18: Song from an Artist No Longer Living

“Fashion” by David Bowie

Bowie had a lot of legendary songs in his catalog, but I absolutely love this one.  It’s got a bit of a funk/disco rhythm to it (but was released in the early 1980s), and is just so much fun to listen to.  And of course, the line “We are the Goon Squad and we’re comin’ to town…beep beep” gets me every time.

Day 19: Song You Would Play at Your Wedding

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys

I’m about as nonreligious as they get, so I’m not picking it for the reference to the deity in the title, but more for the overall lyrics and that beautiful baroque pop sound.  It is one of the great enduring love songs of the pop era, and a legendary piece in the Beach Boys’ catalog (only “Good Vibrations” is a better song, in my opinion).  This instrumental version by the Vitamin String Quartet would make a lovely recessional piece to play if I ever get married.

Day 20: Song You Would Play at Your Funeral

“Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve been a longtime fan of classic rock music, and that includes genres like hard rock, early heavy metal, and Southern rock (which, for those of you outside the United States, is a subgenre of rock music that originated in the Southeastern U.S. that is best described as hard rock music combined with influences from country, blues, and gospel).  This song sounds more like a fond farewell than the band’s other goodbye song, “Freebird”, which I interpret as more of a heartbreaking goodbye than the sad, but wistful vibe conveyed in “Tuesday’s Gone”.

Day 21: Song with a Color in the Title

“Blue Monday” by New Order

I only discovered this song relatively recently.  I quite like its unusual structure as a song: no discernable chorus, barely discernable verses, and a very monotonous vocal.  It’s very unusual for a pop song.  The hook is very catchy, and is quite a gem from the New Wave era.

Stay tuned for Days 22-30!

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 8-14

Here are days 8-14 of the  30 Days of Music Challenge that I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!

Day 8: Song from the ’70s

“December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by The Four Seasons

How did a song about a guy losing his virginity to a woman whose name he didn’t even know in late December, back in ’63 become a #1 hit here?  A fantastic groove, a catchy piano riff, and the sweet verses from drummer Gerry Polci, that’s how!  Not to mention Frankie Valli’s classic vocals in the chorus.  I first heard this song during promo interstitials for what was then the WB Network (which later merged with UPN to become The CW), and I still get images of Michigan J. Frog in my head when I hear this song!

Day 9: Song from the ’80s

“Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

I just love this song and all its quirks: the monotonous vocal from Ivan Doroschuk over such a bright-sounding backing track, the lyrics, and in the full version (posted here), you can hear Doroschuk spelling out the song’s title in his very obvious Montreal accent (and Anglophone Montreal residents have a very distinct accent to my ears, even more distinct than the model of all Canadian accents, the Toronto accent).. And of course, the line “We can dance / We can dance / Everybody look at your hands” makes me think of Z quoting Homer Simpson saying “Dance, dance, everyone look at your pants.”. And finally, only this song can get away with using the word “imbecile” in the lyrics.

Day 10: Song from the ’90s

“Too Close” by Next

Here in the States, the two music genres from the 1990s with the most lasting musical legacy are Grunge and Hip-hop/R&B.  This song was a pretty big hit here on both the R&B and pop charts.  In a decade that decided to throw all sorts of romantic and sexual subtlety to the curb, this is a textbook example of that.  This song is essentially the musical version of “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”.  And yes, I do remember this song playing on the radio.

Day 11: Song from the ’00s

“Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxx

Two reasons why I picked this song: 1. Most songs from the 2000s sound incredibly dated these days and don’t give me the feels, and 2. Epic Movie.  That is all.

Day 12: Favorite Song from a Cowboy Movie

“Blazing Saddles” by Frankie Laine (opening theme to Blazing Saddles)

The movie that this song appears in holds a special place in my heart: it was the first R-rated movie I ever saw (with my parents’ permission, too, as my dad was the one who bought the DVD) and it also sparked my love of Mel Brooks movies.

Day 13: Favorite Song from a Western

“Django” by Rocky Roberts (theme from Django and Django Unchained)

I first heard this song in Django Unchained, which is Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to spaghetti westerns, but the song originally appeared in the 1960s spaghetti western classic, Django (and that film’s star, Franco Nero, is the one to whom Django in the latter film informs that “The ‘D’ is silent”).  My dad is such a huge fan of both Quentin Tarantino and western films, and his fandom of Tarantino may have rubbed off on me.  One thing I love about his films is his incredible skill in selecting music that not only enhances a film, but in some cases also advances its plot (“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction, “Stuck in the Middle with You” in Reservoir Dogs, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” in Kill Bill, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” in Inglourious Basterds).  He was able to take a song from the film that inspired Django Unchained and capture the essence of what Jamie Foxx’s Django is after: freedom and the woman he loves (“Django, after the showers the Sun will be shining.”).  And the original Django is a legendary film itself, having spawned many sequels and spiritual sequels.  Next to The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood’s character in the Fistful of Dollars trilogy), Django is one of the most legendary characters in the Western and spaghetti western film genres.

Day 14: Favorite Song from a TV Show

“MST3K Love Theme” by Har Mar Superstar (theme song for Mystery Science Theater 3000)

I am relatively new to this fandom (the original run aired in the 1990s, usually late at night, so I was too young at the time to watch it), but so far I have really been enjoying it.  I’ve watched episodes from the original and new runs and I love how it plays into one of my favorite things: snarking on stuff.  From the episodes I’ve seen on Netflix, my favorite episode from the old run so far is Eegah!, and my favorite from the new run so far is Starcrash (the former being a caveman/teen romance movie featuring the creepy and, as a fellow Raveler put it, “cantilevered” hair of Arch Hall, Jr., and the latter being a gloriously bad knockoff of Star Wars starring Christopher Plummer, a former child preacher, a future video vixen, a young David Hasselhoff, and some redneck robocop).  The song was a no-brainer, as I usually find myself singing along in the intros.

Next week, it’s Days 15-21!

WIPs: The Hard Part is Almost Over!

So, the last time I left you with La vie en rose et violet, it pretty much looked like this:

image

Well, it’s been about a month or so since my last major update, and I can show you that it now looks like this:

image

Yes…the hard part is almost done!  I have an area of 8 rows and 5 columns left to work on this blanket before I start on the border.  40 squares.  That’s all that remains…just 40 squares.  I remember when this looked like a giant backwards L.  It has come a very long way since then.  I had guessed that I would finish this by the end of October, but now I think the date of completion may be closer to the end of August or the beginning of September.

Here are a couple more pictures of the more recent sections that I’ve worked on.

image

image

I don’t know which project I’ll do next just yet.  I have my eyes set on a couple different wrap patterns, but I’m also looking at possible crochet projects to do.  I haven’t made my mind up just yet.  But what I do know is that I hope to be able to share a finished project with you very soon!

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 1-7

So, I saw a post on a blog that I follow, written by my favorite blogger with a tricky-to-pronounce name of (presumably) Celtic origin, Eiain (better known by his blogging name “Mr Knitter”, and that’s with no period because he’s British).  He decided to take part in something called the ” 30 Days of Music Challenge”, where you post one song a day in accordance with that day’s theme.  I was so interested by it that I’ve also decided to take part this month.  The day-by-day version will play out on my Tumblr page, but Eiain also encouraged me to post them here on WordPress, too.  However, I’m not a daily poster here and prefer to do one or two posts a week.  So, for this blog, I’ll be posting my selections once every week or so in batches of seven (although the final week will actually have 9 posts instead of seven.  I hope you enjoy my selections and feel free to chime in with your own picks for whatever theme you like in the comments.

BTW, if you want to check out Eiain’s picks for this challenge (or just want to learn more about him), you can check him out at Mr Knitter.

So, here are my picks for Days 1-7 in this challenge.

Day 1: Your Favorite Song Right Now

“Your Love” by The Outfield

I love this ’80s classic, from its power chords, to its lyrics, to that rhythmic yet understated bass line.  This song about a guy getting a booty call while his girl is on a vacation far away was a pretty big hit here in the States but barely made a dent in the band’s native UK.  It’s still regarded as an ’80s arena rock anthem here in America.  Not bad for a British band named after part of America’s Game!

Day 2: #1 Song When You Were Born

“Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau

This cover of the Bill Withers classic is one of a handful of songs that have topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 twice (along with classics like “Lady Marmalade”, ” Venus”, and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”).  And according to Billboard magazine’s issue dates, this is the song that was #1 on the Hot 100 for the issue dated during the week I was born, on March 24, 1987.

Day 3: Song You Play When You Are Happy

“Zou bisou bisou” by Gillian Hills (and Jessica Paré…and Sophia Loren…and many others…)

This song may be in French, but its lyrics (if I read the translation correctly, an ode to sweet and secret kisses) are so fluffy and cutesy, and the music itself is reminiscent of so many early ’60s rom-coms.  How can you not be happy after hearing this song?  Even in English (called “Zoo Bee Zoo Bee Zoo”) it sounds happy!

Day 4: Song You Play When You Are Sad

“Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths

The first time I heard this song was in the movie Never Been Kissed, but I really only remember hearing the mandolin playing at the very end of this song as flashback scenes of Drew Barrymore’s character Josie getting humiliated on her first prom night years before the movie’s events take place play out on the screen.  When I actually heard this song in full for the first time, I really related to the lyrics in which Morrissey laments his terrible luck in life (and presumably in love; Morrissey was notoriously known for being celibate during his time with The Smiths, and according to most sources he remained celibate until the late ’90s).  Now and then, if I’m feeling a little down or moody, this song is certainly on my playlist.  I guess as the Elton John song says, “Sad songs say so much.”

Day 5: Song You Play When You Are Angry

“Cult of Personality” by Living Colour

Sometimes you want a songs that just screams “Screw the system!”.  This is one of them.  It is awesome.

Day 6: Your Favorite Classical Song

“Thaxted” (Gustav Holst)

This piece is known by several titles: “Theme from Jupiter” from The Planets (which is the orchestral suite of Holst’s in which this theme originally appeared), “I Vow to Thee, My Country” (a patriotic hymn in Britain, basically the United Kingdom’s answer to “God Bless America”), or “God Beyond All Praising” (if you’re of the church-going crowd).  I tell you, this is one of the few pieces of music that consistently makes me cry.  And not a lot of pieces of music make me cry.

Day 7: A Song That Makes Me Want to Fall in Love

“Angel Eyes” by The Jeff Healey Band

A little ironic that the first line of the song, “Girl, you’re lookin’ fine tonight”, is sung by a man who lost his eyes to cancer as a child (and would die in 2008 from a recurrence of that same cancer), but I should mention that this song was originally co-written by the (sighted) singer John Hiatt (of ” Have a Little Faith in Me” fame).  It’s such a sweet song, but not cloying or bubblegum.  I can see why this makes a great wedding song.

Stay tuned, next week is Days 8-14!

On Being 30 and Single

Pardon me for the radio silence…I’ve been chugging away on my afghan (about 3/4 of the way finished now on the main portion and I just got the yarn in the border color a couple of days ago), but other than that I’ve been dealing with general blogger’s block.  That is, until yesterday.  Let’s see, I recently started emailing an old friend of mine from when I was attending college (I only attended for three semesters at a local community college before dropping out due to financial and transportation problems, and I still have aspirations to return someday to finish the associate’s degree I started; this friend and I attended the same high school, graduating a year apart, but we didn’t meet until college), and when I informed him of my brother’s wedding date, he responded with a somewhat cynical email about all of his friends’ marriages that he’d seen fall apart.  I kindly let him know how cynical he sounded, and his response and my reply ended up being quite reflective of something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot in a real, honest manner: the experience of being a single thirtysomething.  What follows is reflective of my experience, and my experience alone, of being single and in my thirties (granted, I am only four months into being in my thirties, but I am in my thirties).

I don’t have much of a dating history, just one date in high school to my senior prom, and that was 12 years ago.  I haven’t been on a date since, and while it bugged me quite a bit in my 20s, it doesn’t bug me so much anymore now in my 30s.  Sure, I get the occasional questions asking why I don’t have a boyfriend or (on rare occasions) the assumption that because I don’t have a boyfriend that I’m into girls (sorry, I have no interest in playing with other ladies’ fun parts), but otherwise, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care if it bothers anyone else.  Other than that one date, I really have no other experience other than that of being perpetually single. It hasn’t been easy, but I tend to approach this with the mindset that I’d rather date few men of quality than a sizable quantity of men and hoping I strike gold.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of quality men where I live.  Where I live, the ones that aren’t married are the type where I take one look at them and I know I could do better.  Most of the quality men where I live have usually had the sense to move away to pursue better opportunities than what’s necessarily available in small town and suburban Florida.  And what remains are men of simpler means and simpler needs, the kind that like to go four-wheeling, mudding, or fishing.  I have never been an outdoors type of person.  Not a lot of these men are into reading the kind of books I like to read, or would be willing to pay attention to my thinking out loud about my knitting or other creative endeavors, or share my ideas and opinions on things that matter to me.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  I’m the kind of girl who knows what she likes and knows what she needs in a potential boyfriend or husband: I need someone who challenges me mentally; who is a voice of encouragement in whatever I decide to do; and who will allow me to be my own ridiculous, opinionated, goofy, intuitive self without trying place his own expectations on me and holding me up to be something I can’t.  I’m, among other things, a terrible housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a somewhat masculine woman in personality (though I am not above wearing a dress or a shorter skirt when I want to feel feminine, which isn’t very often), and unashamed of my geekdom.  I know by this point I will never be a girly-girl, a supermodel/beauty queen, June Cleaver, or a trophy wife…but I hope I can still be a nice match for somebody.  I know at this point in my life, though, I am not settling for anything.  I deserve the best, and I’m okay with admitting it.

It seems like society often looks down on people my age who are still single.  And true, a lot of people in my age group are starting to marry and have families of their own.  And yet, no matter if it’s the government or a religious group, most social institutions seem to value people more if they’re married: married people get tax breaks, married people get to have children without being judged for having them out of wedlock, married people are more trustworthy because the single person might try to *gasp* sleep with your spouse!  Sometimes it feels like in the eyes of society, though I may not be worthless, because I am single I am literally worth less in social capital.  Now, all this may have been an issue in my twenties, but honestly, now that I’m in my thirties, I don’t care.

I think I’m happier now being single at 30 than I was being single at 20; part of it is just understanding myself a little better as a person and being able to own my flaws, and the other part is just the fact that there isn’t really any pressure for me to fit in anymore. In your twenties, you’re coming out of adolescence and trying to find your place in the world, and people place a lot of expectations on you; in your thirties, you’re more assured of yourself and feeling more confident in your own decisions and aspirations. I feel no personal pressure to date, I feel no pressure to marry, and I feel no pressure to have a child.  I’ve accepted the possibility that my life may not necessarily include a husband or children. I could be happier when it comes to things I want to do in life (career, education, traveling, et cetera), but where I am right now is where I’m needed.  I could be happier with how I feel about my looks, but then again, it’s all superficial anyway.  But I’m content with where my life is right now for the first time in a long time.  I’m not angry with the world.  I’m not angry at anyone.  And I’m not angry with where life has taken me.  I could be happy, but if content is all the universe wants to give me right now, then I’m okay with it.  At this point I am just along for the ride, and I hope I can get as much out of life as I can.  I wasted my twenties with fear, anger, and cynicism.  I hope I won’t do the same with my thirties.

I hope other single thirtysomethings out there can take some solace in my thoughts and know that their worth is not determined by their relationship or marital status.  And those that do have love in their lives, know that what you have is rare, special, and something that not everyone will get a chance to experience in this life.  Cherish it, treasure it, and don’t let small things get in the way of the bigger picture.  And to those out there perpetually single like me, don’t fret over it; take the opportunity to learn great things about yourselves, appreciate all of your strengths and own your flaws, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Singlehood should no longer be a scarlet letter, a badge of shame.  Singlehood may be a part of my life, but it doesn’t define my life.  I’m a geek, a knitter, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, and a smartass who just happens to be 30 and single.