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Ben

Dec. 4th, 2014

11:23 pm - Hungry Birds

Now that there's snow on the ground, we've put out the bird feeder in the backyard. We have to refill it each day (we get a lot of hungry birds and the occasional squirrel).

This afternoon, while I was trying to put the feeder back on its hook, a little grey and black bird landed in the tree next to the feeder and then hopped on one of the perches on the feeder to get some seed before flying off.

My guess is that he must have been very hungry if he was willing to come within a foot of me.

 
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Nov. 22nd, 2014

01:59 am - Nichols Tour

Yesterday, it was announced that Mike Nichols has died. Most of the obituaries talked about him as a director (starting with "The Graduate"), but I knew him has half of "Nichols and May". In the 1950s and 60s, he and Elaine May used to do two person comedy skits that became very popular in shows and on records.

If you've never heard their skits, I recommend finding them on YouTube. "Mother and Son" is a good place to start.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5pXggZIr6I

 
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Nov. 4th, 2014

11:43 am - Waiting for the Electrician, or Someone Like Him

There's a problem with the production meter for my solar panels. Someone from the monitoring company is supposed to come by today to swap out the defective electric meter (it's a fancy device with a built-in cellphone). He's supposed to get here some time after 11am, so I've been waiting for him.

Because of my early education, I can't avoid writing that I'm "Waiting for the Electrician, or Someone Like Him".

 
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Oct. 31st, 2014

11:08 pm - The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin

A story with costumes and pumpkins, perfect for Halloween.

The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin by Janet Perlman, National Film Board of Canada

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Oct. 30th, 2014

12:13 pm - A Clockwork Car

While driving home last night, I approached a car with an odd vanity plate. At first, I wondered why someone would spell "Clark" with a 'W'. When I got a bit closer, I saw that plate was "CLKWRK", or "clockwork". I was puzzled why they had that for a plate. Possibly I could see it being on something like a VW Beatle, but it was an Audi. So I had no understanding for why the owner wanted "clockwork" for a vanity plate. Then as I passed the car, the color of the car finally registered and I realized that the plate was just half of the reference.

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Oct. 12th, 2014

09:22 pm - Penniless Pop Stars?

The theme for the crossword puzzle in Sunday's Boston Globe is pop songs from 2013. I don't listen to pop music any more, so I had no idea what any of them are. So when Ann and I found that the answer for the "#1 Billboard song in 2013" is the song "Thrift Shop", I pulled it up on my phone to listen to it.


http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/macklemore/thriftshop.html

Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

What, what, what, what... [many times]

Bada, badada, badada, bada... [x9]

[Hook:]
I'm gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I - I - I'm hunting, looking for a come-up
This is f**king awesome

Another popular song in 2013 is Lorde's "Royals", another song about not having much money.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lorde/royals.html

My friends and I—we've cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we're fine with this,
We didn't come from money.

This got me wondering, what's changed in the pop song world, that songs about being broke are making it to #1?

Edit: I think people misunderstand my questions. It's not "Is this tread of singing about being broke new", but why have pop stars recently switched from writing hedonistic songs about:
"Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash."
to performing songs about being broke?
(it's seven years since the start of the recession)

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Sep. 6th, 2014

11:54 pm - Review: Green Bee Ginger Soda

I brought a four-pack of Green Bee Ginger Soda to a party this evening (along with Maine Root's Ginger Brew soda). I was curious how it compared to other ginger beers. The ingredients list sounded promising: carbonated water, honey, ginger, coriander (except I'm not a fan of coriander (cilantro taste like soap to me).

I tried it and I was disappointed. I could taste the honey and possibly the coriander, but there was almost no ginger taste. When I got home, I looked at their website and they have the text of reviews of their sodas.


It looks like the reviewers also noticed that the ginger taste is not significant. I think I'll stick with Ginger Brew. It has a very strong ginger taste that I enjoy (it works well in a float with vanilla (or ginger) ice cream).

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Aug. 4th, 2014

05:10 pm - No Ostriches

Hidden behind WBZ's headquarters in Allston is a small alley called "Speedway Ave". Many years ago, I heard a story that it got its name because of ostrich racing. It turns out the rumor was half right. Where Soldiers Field Road is now, there used to be a race track for horses and bicycles called the Charles River Speedway

http://www.bahistory.org/TrottingParks.html

In the 1800s there used to be horse racing along what is now called Commonwealth Ave, but eventually there was too much traffic, so Frederick Law Olmsted's company was hired to design a race track for horses (and sulkies) and bicycles along the river in Allston. It ran from where the Arsenal St bridge is now (where Western Ave ends) to where the the Eliot bridge now is.

I would not be surprised if there actually were the occasional ostrich race back then. But it looks like it was mostly used for horses.



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Jul. 12th, 2014

05:09 pm - The Jim Croche Experiment

If you could travel back in time, without making any changes to the time line, what are the things you want to do?

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Jan. 14th, 2014

11:11 pm - Volvo Truck Ads

I don't know how I missed these videos. In November, Volvo Trucks released six videos to showcase the handling of their trucks in various situations. The vidoes involve bulls, a hamster, a talking head (or two), a tightrope walker, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKFJ3tQvdojTHq0Zw0PUYtDTjGqi93bPe

The "Live Test" videos are the actual ads, then they have short behind-the-scenes videos.

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