Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, May 14, 2021

Four Things

1. Here's an amusing coincidence: The day I forgot to bring a mask with me into three businesses that require them in a row, the CDC changed its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated adults to stop using masks in most situations.

I'm vaccinated, but there are a few things I still won't do, on the off-chance my vaccine isn't effective, but I am sometimes surprised at how much head space I have gotten back since then.

2. My cell phone's SIM card sensor died last week, naturally during a two-day period when I needed cell phone service more than I normally would over two weeks. Here are a couple of samples: The one time I needed to text the parents to cancel my son's soccer practice? That day, of course. The next morning, within minutes of having my wife text someone to use the land line if he needed to contact me, that person canceled an appointment due to a personal emergency.

So I bought a new, mid-range phone, Samsung's Galaxy A52 5G. I'm not someone who gets too excited about phones: The dazzling technology is often undercut by very dumb software or interface decisions precipitated by our bizarre modern culture. My big "favorite" with this one comes in the form of a question: In what universe is NOT HAVING A UNIVERSAL NO-VIBRATE OPTION for notifications a good idea? I'd like this phone a lot more if it didn't come with a battle royale like this right out of the box.

This may sound like borderline lunacy to many people, but: I want to forget about my phone and check it for messages at sane intervals of my choosing. Seriously: If something really is time-sensitive, I'll make sure I know about it as soon as I need to.

At the beginning of my quest to answer the above question and remedy the situation, I thought that perhaps the App Store would have some kind of vibration control app on offer. My first search failed to find one, but it did find a plethora of apps that purport to turn a phone into ... a means of massaging oneself.

Not quite what I'm looking for, but thaks all the same, Google.

Other than that, I have already terraformed the new phone enough for it to be useful. Hopefully, I won't need to spend much more time fixing this biggest problem. Otherwise, this phone is about what I need.

3. My source surprised me by admitting a "complicated history" with them, but be that as it may, he points out an article on the history of fish sticks:

[F]ish sticks were invented to solve a problem. Stronger motors and bigger boats back in the 50s meant that there were too much fish being caught to sell quickly so they started skinning, deboning, and freezing it on the boats. That raised the question of how to sell the frozen fish. After a series of failed experiments, they settled on fish sticks, which did surprising well. The article has other curious facts about fish sticks...
Call them the "baby carrots" of the '50's.

We like them, and they regularly solve a problem for me: What's for dinner when we get home late from soccer practice?

I usually serve them with tater tots, which have their own interesting history.

4. To be filed under definitely NOT on my bucket list would be a walk along England's Broomway, which the BBC reports is a favorite walk of author Robert Macfarlane.
Image by Qneiform, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
The Broomway traverses vast sand flats and mud flats that stretch almost unsloped for miles. When the tide goes out at Foulness, it goes out a great distance, revealing shires of sand packed hard enough to support the weight of a walker. When the tide comes back in, though, it comes fast -- galloping over the sands quicker than a human can run.

Disorientation is a danger as well as inundation: in mist, rain or fog, it is easy to lose direction in such self-similar terrain, with shining sand extending in all directions. Nor are all of the surfaces that you encounter reliable: there is mud that can trap you and quicksand that can swallow you. But in good weather, following the right route, it can feel nothing more than a walk on a very large beach.
Okay, then. I'll take his word for it, given that he lost me at "when the tide goes out."

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, here's a delightful album I ran across recently, though this comment spoils the surprise of a gift in the near future. One of the finest African singers today is Angélique Kidjo from Benin--she's not I think one I pointed you to back when I was first discovering African singers in grad school, mostly by happenstance, since I discovered her a few years later (and the first few songs of hers I heard were in a style I didn't like, but then there was this, which is similar to the first song of hers I heard that suited my tastes). In any case, three years ago, I just recently learned, she recorded Talking Heads' album Remain in Light as Afropop. This is her video of her cover of "Once in a Lifetime," which plays entertainingly with the original video. Since the original album was itself influenced heavily by African music (especially Fela Kuti, another African singer I don't think I ever pointed you to), it works marvelously. (Indeed, I like her version better than the original, because I like Afropop better than New Wave, and because her version sounds like how I suspect David Byrne would have done it after Talking Heads when he was freer to indulge his love of world music.)

There's a good interview with her about the album here with NPR that has lots of readable parts:

I discovered the album [Remain in Light] when I arrived in Paris in 1983. In the middle of the '70s, we had a communist dictatorship that took place in Benin, and suddenly the radio we used to listen to Fela [Kuti], listen to The Beatles, listen to all kinds of music, becomes a place of darkness...And when I arrived in Paris, I was determined to catch up with the music I didn't have. I became a music junkie. I went to a party with some friends of mine and somebody started playing the song of the Talking Heads called "Once in a Lifetime" and everybody was standing and dancing weird, and me, I was grooving. And I told them, "This is African music," and they go, "Hell no, this is rock and roll. You Africans are not sophisticated enough to do this kind of music."...After having so many racist comments — about how not human being you were, that we ride on the back of elephants to go buy groceries, all that kind of stupid stuff in the '80s — I was very shocked and taken aback because I grew up in a household where I have access to books, education, music.


I always say, when you are inspired by a music, and you acknowledge that source of inspiration, it is cultural expansion. But when you deliberately take somebody's music and put your name on it, it's not even cultural appropriation, it's stealing — period. Cultural appropriation doesn't exist.

Snedcat said...

Also, regarding No. 4, that sounded very familiar--not quite what I had read, but strikingly similar, in an old British mystery that I couldn't place. Took quite a while, but I recollected it; I think it was The Secret of High Eldersham (1930), by Miles Burton (the second most prolific nom de plume after "John Rhode" of Cecil Street, who was extraordinarily prolific indeed and generally quite enjoyable to my tastes, though too staid for most people, I suspect--he was a connoisseur of fiendish murderous devices and had a real feel for middle-class and professional scientist, engineer, and businessman characters that's enjoyable after some of the oxygen-starved aristos rife in some of his contemporaries). That particular mystery was not one of my favorites--more an adventure story than a mystery, and with rural witchcraft silliness inspired by the goofy lunacy of Margaret Murray about witchcraft cults that turned far too many heads back in the 20s and 30s, including several decent British mystery writers, who found the idea irresistible as a source of quaintly exotic doings and goings-on.

But yes, it had an area like that on the East Anglian coast used for smuggling--not the main thread of the mystery, but part of it. (Sorry not sorry for the spoiler.)

Snedcat said...

Heh, speaking of that Margaret Murray inspiration, here's a good review on one of my favorite blogs of another lesser-known but excellent British mystery writer, Christopher Bush, similarly writing a mystery with the witchcraft cult used as a bit of a stalking horse for other malign doings, that mentions the trend a bit.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks! Good things as always.

Still under a bit of a time crunch from in-laws moving nearby...