One of the purposes Facebook served for me over the years was to be the place where I could share little observations, quips, links, and other things that I had no where else to put. It was my repository of miscellania, and my discussion group for the same. Now, as I clear out my Facebook account, I’m converting my most memorable Facebook posts into entries here on my blog. But what to do with all the material that doesn’t seem weighty enough for a blog post? The idea of discarding all that stuff makes me sad, even though I’m not convinced it has much value when taken outside its original context on Facebook.
I’ve found comfort in the idea of gathering my remaining Facebook scraps (I say “remaining” because I’ve already deleted much of my Facebook content over the years in previous attempts to escape) into a little anthology that I’ll publish here on my blog. Hence what follows is a selection of random bits and bobs from Facebook that have stuck around.
If you choose to read through this for whatever reason, maybe there will be something or other that you would have “liked” if you were seeing it on Facebook. I’ve divided the material into a few general categories. Other than that, it’s a hodgepodge, and not a chronologically ordered one. I have not included many music related posts here because I want to deal with them separately.
Words and Language
June 22, 2015
Regrettable marketing copy of the day: “This product derives from lacto-fermented vegetables that have been handcrafted on our farm.” Handcrafted vegetables? Because nothing beats a hammer, chisel, compass, protractor, and the touch of a true artisan when creating asparagus.
Friend’s comment: How few people realize that Michaelangelo’s David is made from a single solid block of artisinal Parmesan?
July 9, 2015
In my life so far, the word “broadcasting” has pertained to IP packets, to radio programs, and to messages in general, but when I was recently planting arugula in my garden I came across the advice that, while some people plant arugula in rows, the seeds can just as well be “broadcasted” over the available space. I thought “Why are the gardening people borrowing words from the computer science and telecommunications people to describe a sowing practice?” If broadcasting is really a good way to plant certain kinds of seeds, there’s got to be an old, dedicated word for it, no? Turns out there is: “broadcast: 1767, adjective, in reference to the spreading of seed, from broad (adj.) + past participle of cast (v.). Figurative use is recorded from 1785. Modern media use began with radio (1922, adjective and noun). As a verb, recorded from 1813 in an agricultural sense, 1829 in a figurative sense, 1921 in reference to radio.” (Source: etymonline.com) Touché.
Friend’s comment: I had a similar experience when I was learning sailing. “Tell-tale” is a string that tells the tale of the wind. Even if you can’t tell exactly which way the wind is blowing from feeling it on your face, you can always look at the “tell-tale” on the mast and “tack” or “jive” accordingly.
February 7, 2013
If I try to understand complex ideas and arguments by reducing them to fundamental principles, and am shocked by people who don’t follow this practice, can I call myself a Radical Fundamentalist?
Friend’s comment: You certainly can call yourself that, Rudi, but you might find yourself with some strange bedfellows.
January 26, 2015
I could swear a WBUR announcer just said that a local group would be performing “Beethoven’s Miso Solemnis.” I’m partial to Red Bean Miso and Sweet White Miso but I’ll have to look for Miso Solemnis next time I’m at the store.
June 19, 2015
Regrettable marketing copy of the day: “Gamification poured into every lesson.” Really, gamification is a liquid? Can I get it in a smoothie?
Friend’s comment: You wouldn’t like those smoothies, they taste gamey. Also, weird lumps.
January 29, 2013
Considering this as an email signature: “Not sent from my iPhone. Please excuse verbosity.”
March 21, 2014
My passive monitoring of social media has left me with a condition I might call “advice fatigue.” Now, does anyone have Seven Tips, or Eight Easy Steps, or Twelve Simple Secrets for coping with it?
Friend’s comment: This guy in Boston asked his Facebook friends for their Twelve Simple Secrets for coping with advice fatigue, and you won’t believe what happened next…
February 21, 2014
It makes me strangely happy to have learned that “jazz” is spelled as “dzsessz” in Hungarian.
Friend’s comment: Hate to think what they might call rock-n-roll.
January 22, 2014
I’m not sure I would have pronounced this sentence properly if the New Yorker hadn’t kindly added the diareses: “The dream of bipartisan coöperation glimmered again after Obama won reëlection against Mitt Romney with fifty-one per cent of the popular vote.” To think that I might have said “cōperation” and “rēlection” – even if only in private – the horror!
October 1, 2016
A Google search for “kafka” brings up a software system first (Apache Kafka’s “distributed streaming platform”) and the author Franz Kafka second. And if you search for “apache” you get pages of results relating to the Apache software foundation (as well as Apache helicopters and the Apache oil and gas exploration company) before you see anything about Native American tribes. Cultural appropriation or merely accidental Kafkaesqueness?
Friend’s comment: Good question. Of course, the issue isn’t confined to Native Americans or other groups considered to be victims of cultural appropriation. Search Google for “madonna.” You can call it cultural appropriation if you like — that concept is certainly in vogue these days. I say it is what happens when a namesake becomes better-known or more relevant to digital media users than the eponym, even where the act of naming was clearly one of love.
Me: I agree about the issue being more widespread than any one group, and it certainly goes beyond the digital realm. When most Boston residents hear the name Storrow they think of Storrow Drive, not knowing that Mr. and Mrs. Storrow were advocates of riverbank preservation and Mrs. Storrow had actually opposed the parkway by the Charles River that would eventually be named after her late husband. And, in my neighborhood there’s a housing complex called “Victory Gardens” built on a site where there used to be the sort of gardens the US government encouraged for self-sufficiency during WW II but is now garden-free because, well, there’s a large building there.
January 8, 2013
word of the day: pseudology. Lying considered as an art. Such a prevalent art, and only today I learn the name? Where were Pseudology Studies, Comparative Pseudology, Applied Pseudology in college?
September 6, 2016
To all those who post pictures of food on Facebook: Yes, it often looks delicious, but it never tastes very good. You’ve photographed it well, but on first bite it’s always tough, brittle, and nearly impossible to chew, and it always bears a strange resemblance to the taste and texture of an LCD monitor. If it can ever be swallowed, it is still never satisfying from a hunger standpoint, not to mention that it evokes the sensation of an electrical shock. It lacks aroma too. Please try to cook better!
January 1, 2015
Yeah, I’m happy about the craft beer revival, but why the obsession with masking the basic identity of beer via an absurdly high alcohol content and an array of unnecessary spice and fruit infusions?
March 10, 2015
I see little need for jam. Just cut up some fruit and slap it on the toast, OK? Eliminates a jar and a whole bunch of unnecessary sugar, and it tastes better.
Friend’s comment: Where does one get said “fruit”? Is there a particular brand you recommend? Is there a particular way to cut it? Any website with instructions? Also, are there any pills I can take to compensate for the loss of sugar? Thanks.
January 11, 2013
If the bread was baked in your local Costco, is it “local” bread?
March 15, 2015
With nothing around to sate my constant craving for kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and the like, I found this improvised appetizer to be surprisingly satisfying and also an interesting way of incorporating fresh raw turmeric into a dish.
Chopped radishes. Chopped fresh raw turmeric. Chopped capers. Toasted sesame seeds. Rice vinegar.
Just mix and eat. The capers provide the salt, so use as much as you need for your preferred level of saltiness. The raw turmeric can be used generously. Some people are afraid the taste will be overpowering but I find fresh turmeric milder (and generally different in taste) from the dried/powdered kind. Oh, and make sure you like radishes before making this.
February 25, 2018
For anyone who likes a hot porridge-style breakfast (steel-cut oats, cream of wheat, etc.) I highly recommend the grain teff. The most likely way you’d come to know of this grain in the US is if you go to an Ethiopian restaurant, eat a meal served on the delicious fermented bread called “Injera,” and then ask what the bread is made of (probably teff, although other grains are sometimes used). One of the tiniest grains, teff seems to be becoming more mainstream lately, with companies like Bob’s Red Mill now selling it both as whole grain and as flour, following in the footsteps of the company Maskal that’s been offering it in the US for 30 years. From my reading I gather that whereas international demand for quinoa caused local shortages in the Latin-american countries that produce it, many of the African teff-producing countries have banned its export; in fact, much of the teff available in the US actually comes from Idaho! To cook whole-grain teff in an Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) I recommend 5 minutes of pressure cooking with 5-10 minutes of natural release. Mix 1 part whole-grain teff (not teff flour!) with 3+ parts liquid. The liquid component can be mostly water, but adding a milk of some sort creates a much creamier result. When you open the pot you will find that all the liquid has *not* been absorbed. Don’t worry, just stir thoroughly. Now add raisins, nuts, maple syrup or honey, cinnamon powder, possibly more milk or yogurt, and chopped fruit (apple or banana). Enjoy. You’re welcome. How does it taste? If you make it like I said, it’s smooth, creamy, and slightly nutty/earthy, and delicious enough to… just maybe… change your breakfast routine for life.
Blizzards of 2015
February 9, 2015
I feel that I have now gathered sufficient evidence to conclude that hope is not an effective strategy for getting snow to stop. If it gets some Facebook likes, we can consider this study as peer-reviewed.
Friend’s comment : Have you tried using the force?
Friend’s comment: I suggest “mindfulness.”
January 26, 2015 (during the blizzard)
I agree with all the news reports describing the blizzard as “memorable” and “historic.” I’m just glad it’s over with!
Friend’s comment: Is it pre-historic?
Friend’s comment: Hype cares not for your feeble mortal concept of chronology
January 27, 2015
I think I’ll open a restaurant tonight. The specials will be: snow confit with hand-shaved icicles, snow tartare over a bed of iceberg, snowballs with gravy, and snow-infused snow served with freshly powdered snow — all ingredients local and sustainably sourced.
February 14, 2015
Linguists are still debating Franz Boas’s claim from 1911 that the Eskimo-Aleut languages have a large number of words describing snow, a claim that has been used to support the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which holds that a language both shapes and reflects the world of its speakers. While this debate continues among linguists, I am ready to confirm that no matter what holds true of our neighbors in the north, Bostonians incontrovertibly do have large number of words for snow, reflecting our current experience of the subject, some of those words being: #$*#, #)$(, @_#), $($!!, ($%*$(!!!!, %*%&$&!!@@$!!!, $(%*$(#(!!!!, $(#)($(*%^*%&!!!!!, )($%*)(#$*%!!!!, $)($%*)#($%*!!!!, etc. Quite a variety there.
Friend’s comment: I think you left out #?!^% and &@€#!.
March 10, 2015
My MacBook arrived today. But what’s with the radically simplified Apple logo, the aluminum casing, and the minimalist design aesthetic? I was expecting a product that would be true to the design principles of the original Apple logo that I know and love.
November 7, 2016
This so-called “MacBook” is $1499.99 but it is not a book, nor is it an apple, for that matter, and it does not make waffles. The Dual Waffle Maker is $15.99 and it makes *two* waffles at a time. The choice is clear, my friends!
June 30, 2015
One can only hope that the designer of this user interface does not also work with hospital equipment or weapons systems. Can you guess what this is?
Friend’s comment: Elevator. Door open and Door close. Tells an interesting story that the DC button is so worn and the area around it scratched, perhaps from frantic, frustrated mashing to close before other people can get on, and the DO to extend a bit of courtesy untouched.
January 15, 2015
There was a conversation on WGBH today in which it was claimed that most people trust first impressions and gut reactions over principled arguments and logical analyses. But come on, that’s bogus!
May 2, 2017
So I made my first streaming revenue via iTunes. Someone streamed one of my compositions and my earning was reported as $0.00120000. That’s a lot of money if you reposition the decimal point!
February 1, 2013
Yesterday a colleague informed me (quite casually and without offering any warning about the life-changing blow that was to follow) that not every snowflake is unique. Really? If this news is as upsetting to your “inner snowflake” as it is to mine, take comfort in knowing there are many identical snowflakes out there, rebelling against this news in the very same way. See: https://news.wisc.edu/curiosities-is-every-snowflake-unique/
January 12, 2016
I decided to borrow the “The life-changing magic of tidying up” from a friend, and while I found the beginning helpful I could not understand why this particular method has been met with any more enthusiasm than others. Towards the end of the book, though, I was reminded of something that’s struck me before, which is that success in an endeavor often depends on a carefully crafted fantasy that helps you make progress. What is Marie Kondo’s fantasy? She unabashedly personifies objects. She thinks the objects in your home have personalities and want to serve you, but if they realize they’re not doing that, they feel sad about being a burden on you and taking up your space – they don’t get angry at you, they simply hope that you’ll release them. They’re not afraid of being thrown away, but rather they seem to relish the idea of being let out of an unproductive situation; and, according to Kondo, when they leave their physical forms they return to your life in the form of “energy.” Do I believe any of this? No. Is it still an extremely helpful motivator to part with things I’m not using? Yes!
Friend’s comment: I think her method is really different. Tactically, she has you organize your things by category rather than by room. Also rather than look at a full closet or cupboard and decide what to purge, you start with an empty closet and cupboard and decide what to keep. I think her criteria for keeping items (does this bring me joy?) is also really different than the usual criteria of “could I imagine this being useful one day?” or “will I feel guilty getting rid of this?” I also really like her philosophy on books- the time to read a book is when it comes into your life. As someone who has had 10-year-old unread books collecting dust on my shelf, that’s a pretty freeing way to look at it!
November 13, 2016
Racism, or more generally the idea that your own group is superior to another, or that the problems of your group are caused by another, is like an addictive substance, immediately intoxicating to the person who experiments with it. In any quaint and quiet neighborhood, there is surely someone with a hidden drug problem. Allow a dealer to park in the neighborhood and blast his sales pitch at all hours through a megaphone and the afflicted will surely come to buy, their numbers growing as more fall prey. They will defend their dealer, fearing a cutoff of their supply. The dealer will sell and sell, because it makes him rich. If one ignores the suffering of others, it is a perfect transaction. The product is irresistible and its deadly side-effects, the dealer can blame on the users’ own decisions: “But they love it!”
Places and Events
March 10, 2018
Within a month of resolving to go out to hear live jazz more often, I got to see two guitar heroes.
August 21, 2017
Image of the eclipse captured by holding eclipse glasses several inches above the “selfie lens” of a Samsung Galaxy S7 pointed at the sun. (Enlargement created later and placed in the lower left corner.)
April 28, 2016
I am perplexed by Yale’s recent decision to preserve the name of a residential college that honors the ardent proponent of slavery, John C. Calhoun. One could argue that the names of colleges are, at this point, mere artifacts that no longer celebrate or commemorate the figures they refer to. And yet Yale has just chosen to name a new college after Benjamin Franklin, because, it seems, a major donor considers Franklin a personal hero and wants to commemorate him! Yale’s President Salovey argues that removing Calhoun’s name would obscure the legacy of slavery rather than addressing it, a position which seems to assert that we should keep uncomfortable emblems of the past in plain view as a caution against amnesia. But if we are to be so careful to keep the past in sight, what could be the reason for now abandoning the title “master” in reference to the head of a residential college, a title which has been used in academia for generations without any connection to slavery (master of arts, master of science, master teacher)? It seems that the title of master is being removed because of the possibility of its misinterpretation, whereas the figure whose legacy cannot be misinterpreted, the figure who referred to slavery as a “positive good,” will continue to receive the honor of having a college in his name, while at the same time we sheepishly deny that this is an honor. I can’t find any consistent policy or principle in these decisions.
October 31, 2015
I was at Maverick Marketplace Cafe tonight when a fire alarm rang and sent us all out to the street — not to worry, false alarm, but matters still needed to be checked out. Luckily the fireman on the right, patrolling the neighborhood, was quick to arrive at the scene. He was soon joined by his reinforcement on the left, and after giving the all clear, they found a moment to pose for this picture.
June 9, 2015
Turns out I have been passing by the probable resting place of early American composer William Billings on a daily basis for the past 17 years — Central Burying Ground on Boston Common.
Some more info on Billings here, including this quote: “For my own part, as I don’t think myself confined to any rules of composition, laid down by any that went before me, neither should I think (were I to pretend to lay down rules) that any one who came after me were in any ways obligated to adhere to them, any further than they should think proper; so in fact I think it best for every composer to be his own carver.” http://www.amaranthpublishing.com/billings.htm
September 25, 2016
Coffee is an issue in this election. By acknowledging climate change as real and promising to respect the Paris Agreement, one of the 2016 front-runners has effectively pledged in favor of the continued availability of coffee. By calling climate change a hoax and promising to “cancel” the Paris Agreement, the other 2016 front-runner has effectively pledged against the continued availability of coffee. Ditto for tea, chocolate, beer, and wine, which are all threatened by climate change. On Nov. 8 I will be voting in favor of coffee, tea, chocolate, beer, and wine. See: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/science/climate-change-threatens-worlds-coffee-supply-report-says.html
September 26, 2016
Planning to have a beer while you watch the US presidential debate tonight? It’s worth knowing that major brewers like Guinness, Sierra Nevada, and Red Hook have acknowledged climate change as a threat to the availability of hops, barley, and clean water. It is no exaggeration to say that the climate policies of the next US President will affect the future of the beer supply. Cheers!
November 8, 2016
So there’s this question on the ballot in MA about whether farm animals should have enough space to stand up, lie down, extend their limbs, and turn around. Of course they should! Vote Yes on Question 3! I’m glad this question is on the ballot but I’m also offended that it needs to be on the ballot. The idea that it is OK to cause endless suffering to other sentient beings who cannot speak or defend themselves is an idea that does not bode well for our future, and the fact that we need a ballot question to possibly prevent a little bit of that suffering is itself a cause for moral alarm.
January 19, 2015
A remarkably transparent example of climate change denialism. Strategy: exaggerate points of scientific disagreement to create the impression that science is too cloudy, subjective, and ineffectual to be trusted on matters of economic importance. Excite the reader’s fear of the implications of climate change — economic hardship and the need for government involvement in the solution — to encourage the reader to embrace whichever view of reality makes them feel happier and less afraid: that would be a future of unlimited gas-driven prosperity with no climate change and no need for people across the world to take coordinated action against an existential threat. It is as if The Register had studied Naomi Oreskes’ analysis of the logic of climate denialism and asked one of their writers to produce an article exemplifying that logic in the clearest possible way. See: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/19/no_scientific_consensus_on_2014_hottest_year_on_record_claims/
January 25, 2015
Most people reading this (including me) are wearing clothes made in these factories, right now. https://youtu.be/t_mA9L1DSr8
March 3, 2014
According to this investigation, your tea might have been picked by a slave. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2014/mar/01/tetley-tea-maids-real-price-cup-tea-video
January 18, 2019
In ten years on Facebook, I never posted a cat picture, cat video, or any other cat-related content. So here’s my cat picture, finally! To be clear, it’s my cat picture, not my cat. I met this delightful cat at Bloodroot Vegetarian Restaurant in Bridgeport, CT a few years ago. As I’m leaving FB soon, this post will self-destruct.