Friday, July 30, 2021

Friday Art and Music: Sarah Vaughan, “Misty”

Sarah Vaughan, “Misty”, Live from Sweden, 1964



How is any human being even capable of singing that perfectly? I have no idea. 

It sounds heavenly to me, in a literal sense, as in not of this Earth — and I’ll take it with graitude.


Studio recording, 1958



Lots of great singers probably heard this and thought “well, I know I’ll never be that good”. 

Just for fun, acouple of voice teacher reaction videos — or how many ways can you say “this is perfection in a performance”?




The tone, the phrasing, the control, the emotion, it’s all in there. This is what mastery of a craft sounds like.

A voice teacher could literally play this song for a student and say “just try to copy what she’s doing ... that’ll be $200”.

Sarah Vaughan has lots of great music in her catalog, and if you like this one, you should check out her “This Is” playlist on your streaming service. 

Clint Eastwood even made a classic movie — his debut as director — based on a late night radio host and his stalker, also very good, called “Play Misty For Me”. Here is the opening credits clip.



It’s dark and creepy — also dark in the literal sense, because most of the scenes are visually dark with lots of shadows and night lighting — but worth watching at least once.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

They May Be Closer Than You Think

Walking has obviously become insanely popular, but for some folks, questions remain like how many steps should I target each day, and how much overall health benefit can I really expect from walking?

On a recent walk, and yes it was hot outside
The first thing to understand is that walking is not sitting, so it automatically moves you out of the sedentary and into the active category. Everything else is details.

This simple framing permits your brain to classify it accurately and motivate you to get active enough to make some kind of difference without overthinking it — and that’s huge. Still, some people look past this simple and effective way to think about it, mainly those who need numbers and goals to motivate them and those who need confirmation from third parties — in the form of studies — to validate easily observed empirical changes in their own lives. 

I’m no doctor or exercise physiologist, but I have substantial experience with steady-state aerobic exercise — 40+ years ago I was a running fanatic (6 days and 40 miles a week), and later I became a biker, and then added walking about 10 years ago. I’ve also read a bit about the clinical side of it, but primarily my own experience has taught me many things, and always confirmed what I’ve read about the clinical benefits.

Here’s what I’ve learned. 

All steady-state aerobic exercises — “aerobic” means “with oxygen”, meaning your muscles are getting the blood supply and oxygen they need to do work for a long time — work the same basic way, with two distinct phases:  warm-up and equilibrium. 

During warm up you start from resting pulse rate and respirations and body temperature and metabolic rate, and then as you start moving you increase all of those gradually for around 10-15 minutes (shorter if you’re in excellent shape, longer if in poor shape) before you hit equilibrium. where all of those same measurements stabilize so that your body (and especially your cardiovascular system) becomes like a fully-warmed-up car engine that is operating at peak temperature and efficiency. 

Because your body responds to demands upon it, during equilibrium there are lots of good things that happen to your cardiovascular system, your blood, your cells, your muscles and capillaries, even your brain and emotions, etc. 

Maximizing the time spent in this equilibrium state is they key to gaining the most benefits. 

This is the only important point to memorize about any type of aerobic exercise. It’s all about time spent in that state, because this is when — along with the recovery period over the next 24-48 hours — the big benefits occur. Over time, say 6-12 weeks, and depending somewhat on intensity of the exercise: 

  1. Your body creates more red blood cells to carry more oxygen to your muscles through new capillaries, greatly improving circulation. 
  2. Your lung capacity increases, your heart becomes stronger, and these changes to lead to feeling better all the time because your heart and lungs are working better. 
  3. Your blood chemistry improves in every way, from more HDL to lower LDL and triglycerides.
  4. Your body produces endorphins, improving mood and emotional energy for several hours. 
  5. All parts of the body benefit from all of these changes:  skin, nails, eyes, internal organs, hands and feet, are all served better and more efficiently with more oxygen to your cells from improved circulation. 
  6. You feel more alive and have more energy and better mental focus. 
  7. Sleep quality improves, which then helps you handle tomorrow better. Rinse and repeat. 

The point here is that this list is long and impressive, and every single person who has ever done this kind of exercise for any length of time can confirm all of it. 

Dr James Meschino does a great job of explaining this.


Here’s the Cleveland Clinic on the benefits of aerobic exercise and how to realize them — they say as little as 30 minutes a week will at least help a little bit, and I have no reason to doubt it.

Research on activity levels correlating with cardiovascular health and weight loss stretches back decades and is not exactly revolutionary or hidden away. The life insurance business depends on such research to set rates. However, that’s another topic for another day.

So: anything that gets you up off the couch and moving your legs in any way at all, for at least 10 minutes, is good for any person at any age. Do as much as you can. Training for triathalons and marathons is obviously an entirely different discussion. The rest is details. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

“All I Ever Need is You”

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed

 


A great version of this classic by these two fretboard geniuses, this popped up on my Spotify “This is Chet Atkins” playlist this morning. 

Just over two minutes and you’ll wish it was longer. I could listen to this 10 times in a row, no problem.

Here’s a live version. 


Ray Charles live version.


Ray Charles original version.


Sonny & Cher


“All I Ever Need is You” was a hit for Sonny & Cher in 1971, after the original was released by Ray Charles in the same year. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Physics vs. Electric Cars

Why Gas Engines Are Far From Dead - Biggest EV Problems


Electric car technology is cool and always improving, and has good applications in some situations, but before electric cars can be considered a true scalable solution for the mass market, several practical engineering and physical world issues remain to be resolved. 

And he didn’t even get into the electricity generation part, which introduces other issues with cost and supply. 


New technology can replace old technology of course — but it has to be better in some major way, rather than more expensive, less energy dense, and less practical.




Monday, July 26, 2021

Jimmy Buffett Pays Homage to Marty Robbins

Jimmy Buffett, “Grapefruit Juicy Fruit”, 1973


The chorus is what really makes this song go, because it’s also a transtion to a loping steel guitar C&W groove that will instantly make you start to move around the room, or at least get your toes tapping. 

There are two, at exactly 1:00 and 2:00 in. 

One of my all time favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, and the album — the title a tribute to the Marty Robbins #1 Country hit from 1957 below — is top notch as well. 

Marty Robbins, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation”


Robbins is a Country music legend who recorded 500 songs and 60 albums, and also drove NASCAR on the side (35 races, 6 top 10 finishes).  He died in 1982 at just 57 after his third heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

It’s Tuesday July 20th and It’s Foggy ... Which Is Never Ideal

That means the dew point is higher than (or equal to) the air termperature ... which means it’s humid.

But then you knew that already ... because it’s foggy. 

Anyhoo yesterday was Boat Day which is always fun but we had a bit of rain mid-day so we had to dock the boat for two hours and wait it out. Some days are like that. 

By 7pm it was perfect evening boating weather, calm waters and ideal temperatures and very little wind, but we had to race back to return the rental by 8pm. Some days are like that, too. 

Today is chock full of leisure time activities like sitting by the pool sipping cold beverages, with some driving range mixed in there somewhere. 

Tough gig but someonne’s gotta do it. Pray for us. 

[update] 

Turns out it was not humidity at all but haze from smoke drifting aloft. Kinda gross. Smells like there’s a campfire everywhere. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday Art and Music

Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939



I like the way Hopper uses bold colors with lots of contrast. Visually very appealing regardless of subject.


Hopper, Cape Cod Afternoon, 1936




31 Songs Based on Classical Music



I’m no expert on classical music nor do I listen to it much, but I always like any story about the creative process behind any song I already know from popular music.


14 Songs That “Rip Off” Classical Music 



Both videos from YouTube channel David Bennett Piano which looks pretty interesting and is very informative.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Eating and One Simple Way to Do Less of It

Years and years of trial and error have demonstrated for me the best ways to control my weight and eat for better health and nutrition.

So recently while reading Maggie’s Farm I posted my brief summary of what I have learned (with minor edits from original):

Any method of eating for weight loss and better health and nutrition can work but it always amounts to eating less in a week (daily consumption can vary and is not that important) along with seriously limiting terrible nutritional garbage
Finding the right system that fits your personality preferences and energy needs is the key. Personally I like two systems: 1) eat disciplined M-F and eat what you like on weekends and 2) eat disciplined for any 2 of 3 (or 3 of 4 etc) daily meals. “Disciplined” means small portions (more like snacks) but the type of food can vary depending on energy needs during the day. Both are easy to adapt to mentally since they fit other daily/weekly patterns we already live and they both accomplish a big reduction in weekly food intake just like fasting for 18 hours a day, which is another system that can work for some people (not me).

The highlighted and italicized portions are the most important pieces to internalize. 

Most people use “what” they eat to accomplish the goal of reducing calories. These are two different things, and there are other — possibly better and definitely simpler — ways to reduce calories, or food intake. The “what” is still important obviously but that is primarily about health and nutrition, not weight loss (even though you can still lose weight with that dietary change)

And at least for me, reducing food intake as a weekly (rather than daily) goal is far simpler and easier to stick with, because it allows me to enjoy a few treats of my choosing each week — but just a few — that keep me from going insane without impacting the long term goal too much. It’s more practical and sustainable. 

And it works. It has to, if you make meaningful reductions weekly, say 20-40%. For each of us, there is some level of weekly food intake below which we will lose weight, regardless of other factors. 

Finding that level can be tricky — that’s why the two simple systems above remove a lot of the guesswork by dividing the days and weeks into chunks of time where we do different things based on time of day or day of week. You’re already doing that, right? Of course you are, because everyone does. 

This reduces food intake — calories — by dividing up your time into chunks we will call “highly disciplined” and “some treats allowed”. 

Make the “highly disciplined” chunk around 75-80% of your week, either M-F or 2-of-3 (or 3-of-4) daily meals. During this time, limit meals severely, say 300 - 400 calories, and limit carbs severely too.

The “some treats allowed” chunk allows somewhat more calories and more carbs, maybe 500 - 1000 calories depending on exercise and energy needs and to feel satiated. Remember this is only about 20-25% of your waking life, so live a little. It’s okay. 

It works and is a hell of a lot easier than counting calories, and more practical and sustainable. 

The other piece of the equation here of course is what to eat. The what is primarily (not completely though) about energy and health, not so much about losing weight. Another topic for another day. 

Pictured at right: evil evil carbs in our own pantry. Watch these like a hawk.

I am not a nutritionist, I’m just a guy who tries things to see what works best — so this is not advice. I’m not telling you what you should do, just detailing what I have had success with, based on my own personal preferences, and therefore it’s logical to assume it might work for others too. 

If what you’ve tried before hasn’t worked, it just means you haven’t found the right system for you yet. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Halifax Explosion of 1917

The Halifax Explosion of 1917, A Short Documentary

 


1600 killed instantly — and that was before the fires and tsunami. And the blizzard the next day that dropped 4 feet of snow paralyzing all rescue efforts and supply routes. 

Every single structure flattened for more than a mile in every direction. 

All because a ship’s captain ignored navigation rules through a narrow channel.


Monday, July 12, 2021

Van Gogh, “Starry Night Over the Rhone”, 1888



Sometimes I wonder what the world looked like to painters of this era “Post Impressionism” — especially those suffering emotional and mental health issues like Van Gogh who suffered from depression for years but created a tremendous number of classic and endurable artworks in the last two years of his life

All of his art strikes me as incredibly beautiful and pleasing to the eye, especially his bold and dramatic use of color and his rendering of familiar objects in slightly “off” ways that are still quite recognizable. 

Friday, July 09, 2021

It’s Friday Peeps

Let’s Catch Up on TV Viewing

We finished watching The Kominsky Method this week so now there is a hole in our TV schedule that is shaped a lot like this show. 

Unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time with very likable characters — we’re all imperfect, let’s not forget — and excellent storytelling with a perfect blend of funny and touching that strikes all the right notes. 

Funny sometimes, touching and emotional sometimes, always believable. 

Comedy and tragedy. A lot like real life.

This is a difficult balance to achieve and as a result most shows and movies don’t even aim for it. This show aims for it and hits it, dead center.

At the same time I don’t want to undersell the comedy, or Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, who are both terrific, as always. Two old pros — Arkin turned 87 in March and he could easily pass for someone 25 years younger, Douglas is 77 later this year — together on screen a lot. The show is worth watching for that alone (although Arkin is in seasons 1 and 2 only).

Paul Reiser is also very good as an aging hippie retired teacher and love interest of Sandy’s daughter, 30 years her senior. He plays Paul Reiser, bascially, but for me that’s usually pretty good in small doses. He also achieves the tricky comedy/tragedy balance and does it well.

The full cast is here and also includes Jane Seymour, Emily and Haley Joel Osment, Lisa Edelstein, and many other recognizable names.

You could easily binge-watch the entire series, 22 episodes, in a weekend or two, but this show is good enough you could also spread it out over a few months by watching just 2 or 3 episodes per week. It’s more impactful that way, at least for me. 

As for other shows we were watching, we’ve kind of checked out on those. Fargo ... eh, it’s a bit too murdery and dark for summertime viewing. I did watch a couple more episodes of Formula 1: Drive to Survive the other night and have completed season 1. Other than that, a lot of sports including of course Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Enjoy the weekend — it’s starting off cool for us and for a July 9 I will take that every time.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Top 7 Reasons to Check Out Mike Rowe’s Podcast “The Way I Heard It”

  • Highly skilled writer and storyteller who knows how to both write and read out loud for dramatic effect 
  • Great chemistry with his producer and longtime friend Chuck
  • Absolutely fascinating life story — you probably didn’t know sang in barbershop quartets, or in the opera, or that he became a millionaire and lost it all over 20 years ago in a Ponzi scheme
  • His personal fictional hero is Travis McGee from the John D. McDonald book series
  • Cool parents with their own interesting stories and Mike talks about them and their influences on him growing up, and has had them on the show, and his mom just wrote a bestselling book in her 80s
  • He started it as an homage to Paul Harvey’s legendary radio series The Rest of The Story
  • Aesthetically pleasing voice and let’s face it, that makes podcasts more compelling 

But wait, there’s more:  he started the Mike Rowe Works Foundation over ten years ago to award $1M in scholarships annually to students seeking skilled trades careers, and over that time he has “written extensively about the country’s relationship with work, the widening skills gap, offshore manufacturing, infrastructure decline, currency devaluation and several other topics for which he has no actual credentials.” 

In short he is one of the most interesting people in 21st century America, and actively working to make it better.

But mainly: interesting. 

One thing to note:  the first couple years and 150+ episodes are short form storytelling, typically 5-8 minutes in length, and then somewhere around episode 180 they started doing chapters from Mike’s book “The Way I Heard It” with Chuck. Those are much longer, around an hour and sometimes more. 

Go to mikerowe.com/podcast/ or your favorite podcast app and try a couple of episodes. 

Podcast tip:  I always listen to podcasts when I’m on the move, either walking or biking, freeing my mind to go wherever the podcast wishes to take it. In the car would also work, I just don’t get much time there.


Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Hey it’s July 7 and that’s 7/7 so that must mean something to somebody somewhere

Not sure what — but there you go

Where? There. Back to 1977. 

Back to 7/7/77 in particular which I clearly remember as some kind of big deal “date palindrome”. 

It looked and felt just like every other day to me, but what do I know? 

To me 7/7/77 was another in a string of days notable mainly because it was almost smack in the middle of the time between my graduation from high school and going off to college. 

I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening:  counting down the days to moving out of the home I grew up in (mostly, since age 10), with minor stops back home for holidays and a Summer or two. 

There’s a lot wrapped up in there. It’s much more than just a physical move from one place to another, it’s also transitioning every detail of your everyday life: the space you sleep in, the hallways and outdoor spaces you walk, the people you meet, the things you do with your time, the choices you have in front of you every second of every day. 

Everything is suddenly not just different but the sense of freedom and infinite choices is right in front of you, all the time. It’s exhilirating, and some of us do better than others with infinite choces. 

And all of this is completely separate from the college experience itself, and everything that entails.

I loved it. The freedom, much more than the college experience, at least that first year. Later on the college experience caught up with the freedom side of it.

The reasons I was ready for unlimited freedom are probably worth exploring, but that’s for another day.

So I guess 7/7/77 does have some sort of meaning for me after all, after thinking about this for a bit. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

In Case You Were Wondering How I Spent My Three-Day Weekend

I started our Independence Day weekend the right way on Friday — accidentally — by happening upon 2,000 American flags at a local park in tribute to the individual memories of 2,000 who have perished serving our country in wartime. See video here: Happy Birthday America

Long holiday weekend here in the U.S. but now that’s over and real life intervenes. Fortunately family vacation time is not far off — July is meant for slow-rolling, right?

But it allowed me to spend some of it re-watching “Band of Brothers” which everyone should watch at least once, in part because you will learn a lot about pivotal battles in WWII like D-Day, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge, in part because nothing brings historical events to life like putting them on screen, and in part because it’s just very well done in every way, from performances to story-telling to the “you are there” realism. 

There are also unexpected poignant moments like after liberating Eindhoven (Netherlands) two soldiers discover a family that has been living in the cellar for 5 years. One of the soldiers gives the young son a chocolate bar which he starts to devour without saying a word — and then the father says his son has never tasted chocolate. 

This scene, whether strictly 100% true or not, represents all of the sacrifices made by hundreds of millions of civilians around the world for years, things that people today cannot even conceive of. The show is worth watching for that scene alone, if one allows the power of that idea to penetrate one’s brain. 

This trailer includes a piece of that scene about 2/3 of the way through.


Wasted several hours watching the Cubs play, and lose, 3 more games in a row, with the losing streak up to 10 now. The pitching has been mostly okay, not great, but the offense has been horrific:  too many strikeouts, not enough contact, too many guys trying to hit 6-run homers with nobody on base. Whatever, I turned it off last night in the 5th inning after they fell behind again. I will not torture myself watching shitty baseball. This streak greatly increases the chances they will dump several potential free agents before the trade deadline July 31, marking the end of an era and saying goodbye to several key players from the 2016 championship team. It is what it is.

Watched the Austrian Grand Prix Sunday morning, won by — guess who — Max Verstappen for his third win in a row, and by a lot. The battles for position behind him were the only drama in the race. Here’s a really good video explaining why his racing technique is so solid.

Also watched a bit of UEFA soccer tournament play, it’s down to Italy vs. Spain (today) and England vs. Denmark (tomorrow) to go to the final.

Enjoy your Tuesday ... 

Friday, July 02, 2021

Friday Photos and Videos

One day a couple of weeks ago, I got into my car and looked up through the sunroof window quickly and noticed this ...


About a week ago on a long walk after a rainy couple of days I encountered this unfortunate flooding situation ... 

Bridges don’t work too well when the nearby trail sits lower than the bridge so that floodwaters cover it. 


Our cat Simba in the bright sun on a blue chair ... 


... and sitting in a little box on a messy desk ... one of his favorite things to do 😂 


Last one is a vehicle I was sitting behind in traffic ... LOL 


All these photos are mine, copyright applies, etc.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Unbelievable Goal

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Lighting vs. Canadiens ... check out this beautiful steal by #19 Barclay Goodrow and great pass to his teammate Blake Coleman who dives to score with 0.3 seconds left in period 2.

Simply unbelievable. Game 3 Friday, Tampa Bay up 2-0, going back to Montreal.

Coleman has a few of these diving goals the last couple of years.

This Week in History: The Berlin Airlift, 1948

The First Major Battle of The Cold War

Most people have either never heard of the Berlin Airlift or have no idea what it is and why it matters.

BerlinerBlockadeLuftwege.png
By Leerlaufprozess - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

This past weekend (June 26) marked the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift when American and British aircraft dropped supplies of food, water, fuel, and other essential goods into West Berlin for 11 months.

The Allies that controlled the western section of Germany (Great Britain, France, and the U.S.) after WWII — there was no official “West German” state yet — had introduced a new currency (the Deutsche Mark) to promote economic development in the region.

In retaliation the Soviets cut off land, sea, and canal trade routes into West Berlin (the Berlin Blockade). This move created substantial pressure on the Allies to counter militarily, but President Truman decided on a humanitarian move instead. 

It was the first major battle of Cold War and the scale of this 11 month operation makes that clear:

Over the next 11 months, American and British pilots ferried some 2.3 million tons of supplies into West Berlin on a total of 277,500 flights, in what would be the largest air relief operation in history. Though it began slowly, the Berlin Airlift grew more and more efficient. At its height, in the spring of 1949, an Allied aircraft landed at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport every 45 seconds. The planes carried everything from food stuffs and medical supplies to coal and machinery, all vital to the survival of West Berliners who were hungry, scared and still reeling from the wounds inflicted during World War II. One of the airlift’s best-known heroes, U.S. pilot Gail S. Halvorsen, dropped parcels of candy, chewing gum and other sweets for the city’s children, earning the nickname “Candy Bomber.”

Berlin was the front line of the Cold War from 1948-1961:  after the Berlin Airlift, the Soviets erected a series of barriers to keep East Germans from escaping to freedom, starting with the entire border between East and West Germany in 1952 and then finally the Berlin Wall in 1961. Even so, 2.5 million people escaped from 1949-1961.

The blockade and resulting airlift rescue mission resulted in two major historical Cold War developments: NATO was created, the West German state was officially established.

This entire set of events set the stage for much of what followed over the next 40 years of the Cold War; it was the starting point, with the ending point the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 followed soon after by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

From the link above: 

The crisis over Berlin in 1948-49 had cemented the division of Europe into communist and anti-communist states, and transformed the German capital, previously identified with Nazism and Hitler, into a Cold War era symbol of democracy and freedom. For West Germans, the Berlin Airlift would instill an enduring sense of gratitude toward the United States and Britain, their former enemies who had refused to allow them to be swallowed up into the communist regime, and had helped them when they needed it most.

The whole story is not just interesting and important in 20th century history, but provides missing context for much of what followed.