Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Brush With Fame

Today I shook the hand of a rock star. Good, strong grip. Great eye contact. Friendly confidence as he said, "Hi, I'm --" Wait! I'll get to that in a minute.

Folks are sometimes surprised that we have musical groups booked in the library. Yes, a real concert, right there next to the magazine racks! The building wasn't designed for this kind of acoustic assault (and I mean that in the nicest way) but the performers make it work. The audiences are always appreciative of both the music and the up-close experience. That is, the audience who intended to be in the audience. (grins)

We have quite a range of musical styles represented in these performances, from bluegrass to classical to jazz to world music. Many of the concerts are aimed toward adults or families, but some are especially for young children.

The musician I met today has a background in commercial songwriting and performance. He's probably best known for his role as lead singer/songwriter for a quirky rock band that I had actually heard of before this event. (My lack of knowledge of all things pop culture is legendary.) It turns out that he also, uh, moonlights as a children's entertainer, and he has several CDs to his credit under this umbrella. His real fans know him as Chris Ballew, but he walked up to me this morning, stuck out his hand and said confidently,

"Hi, I'm Caspar Babypants."

And suddenly I have a craving for fresh peaches. Lots of them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No More Fudging

Alternate title for this post:
Even Dumbed-Down Smart Phones Know Some Tricks

I got a Nokia E73 for Christmas, thanks to my son's bonus points. I wanted a smart phone because of the calendar and camera, but I refuse to buy a data plan. Hence, a dumbed-down smart phone. The camera is great, I love the qwerty keyboard, and the other features are mostly good. I'm still exploring and tinkering.

Today, I realized that there are GPS capabilities on the phone, even in its limited no-data state. Hmmm... And there's a trip odometer that shows distance, average speed, maximum speed, and elapsed time. Hey -- I could use this for walking!

The good news, after one trip, is that it works. The bad news? I can't record my mileage based on how tired I feel! If I use the GPS feature, I've got to believe the data it gives me. Today, I went a little farther than what I thought was the halfway point for a three mile walk. When I took out the phone, though, it said I wasn't there yet. I kept going until I hit 1.5 miles, then turned around. But when I got back to the car, the odometer was stuck on 2.9 miles rather than the full three miles (or more!) that I know I walked. Oh, well. My average speed was 2.8 miles per hour -- no surprise there. I've had a rotten cold with associated impediments for a month now, so anything is better than being home on the couch coughing. Although we made a couple of stops along the way, Polo and I were on the trail for 53 minutes. Not bad.

The real benefit of this GPS thing is that it feeds my competitive spirit. Now I'll have something to pit myself against! Even though I can't fudge my stats anymore, I'll be able to know for sure when I improve or surpass my last record. Yes, strive I will, because it's fun to compete with myself, and because I'm really tired of being totally out of shape.


We were able to go out again today, on a different route and with no stopping to chat. Total 3.1 miles, average speed 3.7 mph, 50 minutes. Yay! And again I say, YAY!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Next Time You Make Fish Head Soup...

...count the fish heads before and after serving.

The daughter of some friends is spending a term studying in Ghana, Africa, and writing occasional blog posts about her adventures. Anna has a heart for people, a yearning for justice, and a great sense of adventure. One little story in a longer, serious post tickled my funny bone and showed Anna's terrific ingenuity in exercising gracious discretion during a homestay.

Imagine you're visiting a private home in a far-away country. Although you are a vegetarian, your hosts serve a soup made with... fish heads. What would you do?

You can check out Anna's blog here. Then you'll understand why you might want to count your fish heads.