MORNING LIGHT, PORCELAIN AND SHADOW

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:

Bathrooms and Outhouses

I do not have any pictures of outhouses, not exterior or worse, from the inside. I haven’t seen or used one of those dreadful places in many years. I consider it a triumph.

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Indoor plumbing is one of the unequivocal improvements in modern human living. I have absolutely not the slightest desire to ever use an outhouse again.

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Smelly, dank, dark, and full of spiders. Sometimes full of other unspeakable things. If you have ever had to use an outhouse in the middle of the night, you know exactly what I mean. {Shiver}

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On the other hand, the light coming in both bathroom windows on the east side of the house, is the best light of the day.

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I take many photographs from those windows. I sometimes can’t resist taking a picture of the room itself in that early morning light.

LAYING DOWN THE MUSICAL LAW

Tom Joseph Law music, by Rich Paschall

There is no shortage of musicians on You Tube and other social media platforms who wish to become famous.  Some are actually rather good and just hoping to be noticed among a sea of musicians who are covering songs and offering their own work.  How do you get recognition?  How do you produce quality videos to post among the millions of videos already in cyberspace?  How do you stand out among the crowd?

Tom Law has been working steadily for years to become the next “over night sensation.”  Since joining You Tube in 2010, the British singer-songwriter has posted covers and collaborations, original songs and one man band videos.  Yes, Tom has 14 videos where he is playing all the instruments.  You may watch and be suitably impressed at this talent.

From photo shoot in Bath, England

From photo shoot in Bath, England

At age 25, Tom’s persistence, talent and good looks have brought him almost 79 thousand You Tube subscribers and over 3 and a half million views.  It is respectable for sure but there’s a higher level to achieve and that is his aim.

In order to raise some additional money to make quality videos, Tom has found Patreon.  It is a social media site aimed at bringing patrons together with their favorite artists.  This allows people to pledge gifts large and small for each project and the artist has the option of offering rewards, like free downloads of music.  Tom also offers some patrons the opportunity to “hangout” online for a private chat.  On a recent hangout, I got the opportunity to sit in.

A small group of supporters of Tom’s cover of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church”, eight I think, assembled last Saturday for the opportunity to talk with their favorite artist.  Tom’s video was one of those one man band videos, where he is singing and playing all the parts.  It certainly moves away from the more up tempo pop-like tunes I like, but it is a good choice for Tom, especially given the radio play of Hozier’s song with the driving refrain that sticks in your head.

Not being part of this particular group, I was pleased Tom gave me the chance to join the call.  I thought I would just hang out and listen and perhaps learn a few things.  However, the group seemed rather reserved and did not have much to say.  Perhaps they have had other hang-outs with Tom and asked a lot of the obvious questions already.  When Tom mentioned that he felt like he was doing all the talking, I decided to jump in.

The group may have been there to talk about “Take Me To Church,” but I had just seen Tom’s most recent cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” so it was fresh in my mind.  I decided to go there instead.  First I mentioned that Tom seemed to be apologizing in social media, even before the video appeared, about the “F” word in the song.  He was afraid some might not like it but felt it could not be eliminated.  Usually I find the use offensive, but in the context of Sheeran’s song, it obviously fits and is nothing sensational.  Tom thought of covering the sound over, but these sort of tricks just highlight a missing word we all know is there.

Next I wanted to know how does he put the pieces together when he is the lead singer, all the background singers and all the musicians.  It takes a great deal of patience as well as technical know-how to get this together.  If you watched the video, you may also wonder, “How does he do it?”

Without giving away secrets, as if I understood it all anyway, Tom starts with the main track, that is, the lead vocal.  From there he can add in the other instruments and background Toms until he gets all their parts down.  Yes, there is a lot of harmony going on.

Then, of course, Tom has to film all those Toms.  In order to be in time with the music, you can see the background singers are listening for their parts in the headphones.  When this is all done, I wanted to know how he syncs all this up so the timing is just right.  I thought the background crew would be rather tough, but Tom did not seem to think it was as difficult as some of the rest of the project.

“OK, Tom, how long did the whole process take?”  Tom thought about all the pieces of recording and filming and editing and finally decided it took about seven days and a LOT of hours to give us a video of three minutes and 47 seconds.  If you think Tom can make money off these things, there is little chance, since the song belongs to someone else.  However, it might give him the recognition to do other things.

He does have some of his own songs that you should give a chance. In fact, here’s the song “Give It a Chance” from an EP, Build From Zero.

After the song you will see a link below the video on You Tube that will lead you to a free album of covers by Tom.  Download it from Tom’s website.  If you are a social media junkie, subscribe to Tom’s You Tube and go to his “about” page and find links to all of Tom’s sites so you can stalk him around the internet and know what is coming next.  Give it a chance.

IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER

It has been many years since food was all that important to me. I used to eat more than I do. I can’t eat so much — of anything — these days.

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I was a really good cook, back when cooking mattered more than it does now. These days, my goal is to turn out tasty meals that take under half an hour to prepare — half that to clean up. Other than Japanese food, we no long bother to go out to eat. The restaurants in this area are … I’m searching for a polite way to say this … uninspired. Bland. If I want something with a lot of flavor, I make it myself.

I learned to cook Chinese cuisine a long time ago. Way back when I was first married and we went out to eat Chinese several times a week, which on an adjunct professor’s salary (I was still in college), was burdensome.

I figured if millions of Chinese women could do it, I could too. I bought a cookbook. A wok and a cleaver. I found ingredients. It was 1966. There were no oriental grocery stores locally. Nor did I have a home computer or an Internet through which I could buy anything. I winged it.

kitchen condiments

Last night I made a beef stir fry for dinner. These days, I have a rice cooker. It makes preparing rice a no-brainer. I had frozen Chinese veggies, hoisin sauce and four kinds of soy at hand. Fresh ginger, chopped garlic. Broth. I diced the steak earlier in the day.

Cooking was done in a flash. The labor-intensive part is in the slicing and dicing. Cooking is accomplished quickly, at high heat and of course, the rice in the cooker takes care of itself.

I remembered how I labored over those first Chinese meals. The cookbook open on the counter. Timing the rice. Measuring carefully each ingredient. Now I eyeball everything, throw it in the big iron skillet and I know by the way it smells I’ve got it right.

I guess that’s the payoff for forty plus years of cooking daily or nearly so. There ought to be some benefit, right?


Food for the Soul (and the Stomach)

EVERYTHING CHANGES

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: EPHEMERAL

Everything is ephemeral. Anything pictured today, anything you capture with your camera, is forever frozen in time.

Dawn in March

Dawn in March

Even if change is minimal and even though it may seem invisible, nothing remains the same.

March sunrise

March sunrise

Not from day-to-day, nor from hour-to-hour. A reminder to snap that shutter now. There is never “going back.” The moment, once gone, is forever out of reach.

A LITTLE RANT FOR A DAMP FRIDAY

Good morning! It’s a gray, miserable drippy day here in the heart of central New England. Where the rivers flow, the boneheads rule, and it’s always 1954.

sun and misty woods

The question has been asked if I live my life according to some kind of code. Do I have principles. Values.

On a Friday morning, this is a very large question. I am only in the middle of my first cup of coffee. Still, I am awake. I have already restored my computer from backup, re-installed my printer. Convinced the dogs to go out, even though it’s raining.

They do not like the rain. Poor babies.

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

Speaking of boneheads, such are those who populate WordPress’s upper echelons. They run the company. With whips in hand they drive the corporate horses into a frenzied gallop towards the Cliff of Destruction. I guess they so admire Microsoft and their extraordinary success with Windows 8 they have decided to emulate them. Nothing exceeds like excess.

As such, they are fine ones to be asking me about my codes, values, principles. They should take a look at theirs.

But I digress. Forgive me. Sometimes my irritation overcomes my commonsense.

Of course I have a code. Values. Principles. Everybody does, whether or not they know it, whether or not they’ve given any thought to the matter.

Each time you make a decision affecting how you interact with other people, it is a mini-demonstration of your codes, values, and principles. When you tailgate other drivers, carelessly talk or text on while you drive, you are demonstrating your lack of concern for the welfare of others. You are here for you and no one else.

light snow falling picture window

When you show up late for a dinner and the host and other guests are thoroughly inconvenienced, you tell them by your actions what you think of them. If you force others to clean up you messes, it says what you believe. It doesn’t matter if you go to church and profess pious religious values. Who and what you are is what you do. You are how you treat other people, how you live your life. The rest? Blowing smoke up your own ass.

There are so many assholes in the world and they seem to be in charge of just about everything, from corporate boardrooms to customer service. So, in an effort to retain whatever sanity is left to me, I live life simply.

“Shut up, Marilyn” is my motto.

When I read the moronic rants of idiots on social media, do I answer them? No. I click the page away. When I’m standing in a grocery store line and hear conversation between morons, filled with appalling ignorance and misinformation, do I try to correct their wrong-headedness? Not a chance.

“Shut up, Marilyn,” I say to myself. “Just shut up and butt out.”

Age confers wisdom and that is what I have learned. They don’t want my opinion. No one cares if what they spout is true. Most people believe their opinion is as good anyone else’s, whether or not it’s based on anything.

So I shut up. It may not be the best or highest-minded course of inaction, but it works for me.

THE REDIRECT SCRIPT

Referring to the little script that will redirect your “new post” interface back to the “classic” version as opposed to the “improved posting experience” that is in no way an improvement — it works.

This morning, for the first time since I selected “keep the classic interface” back when WordPress first tried to foist this crap software on us, they tried to send me to the new version instead of the old. I guess they finally cleared out the default I had set. So the new one flashed for half a second on the screen and the script intercepted it and I was back where I want to be.

For anyone still battling with the blockheads of WordPress, I strongly suggest you install the redirect into your browser. It will let you continue to blog the way you always have. It’s not going to solve the problem forever because WordPress is never going to give up.

The blogging platform that is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

The blogging platform which is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Microsoft has demonstrated why this is a terrible idea, that forcing users to “do it” your way when they don’t want to, not only doesn’t work, but can transform your customers into someone else’s customers.

Microsoft has generated a lot of business for Apple and Linux while trying to convince us that Windows 8 isn’t garbage. WordPress thinks they can do the same, but get different results.

It’s marketing 101 and obviously, they don’t get it. They cannot force their will on people. Not here, not now, not in 2015 on the Internet. All they are doing is getting people to rethink if they want to continue blogging while searching for other platforms.

Please, visit How To Force A Redirect To The Classic WordPress.com Editor Interface on DiaryofDennis.com. It works. And when it is working, you can work, too. At least until they figure out another way to blow us out of the water.

WHICH WAY PHOTO CHALLENGE, WEEK 12 – WINTER’S LAST GASP?

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Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge:

2015 Week #12

Welcome everyone to Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge. This challenge’s subject is the roads, walks, trails, rails, by which we move from place to place. You can walk them, climb them, drive them, ride them — as long as the way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is acceptable, as are any signs.


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Poised on the cusp of spring as March draws to a close.

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The sidewalks are still too full of ice and snow for walking, as are the paths in parks and along the river.

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We stroll in malls — our best (only) choice — until we are finally melted.

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