atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6949: This time next week, Christmas tree

Hard to believe! The time is nigh for the annual purchasing and festooning of the traditional conifer.

Last night we saw Cirque Du Soleil's "Twas The Night Before" and it was outstanding. Mrs. Fungus has a propensity for buying tickets at stage right but we were in the second row, close enough that even with my Coke-bottle glasses I could see the details on costumes.

I've come to realize something: I think I've always been nearsighted. (Okay, at my age, wearing glasses since third grade, it is almost "always" already. Oh well.)

But! During cleaning etc over the past year I found my box of Christmas CDs. This is all the Christmas music I have that's not MP3 format; on my computer I have a folder in "Audio Capture" (where I keep my music) that's called "Big Christmas MP3 Folder" where I keep the A-list Christmas music. There's quite a lot of it--1.62 GB worth--but it's not all the Christmas music I own. ("Audio Capture" is 34 GB.)

When I lived in Cedar Rapids, and when Usenet access was still considered a sine qua non of Internet service, I routinely hit Usenet several times a week, and was able to gank all kinds of useful things. I went mostly for anime and anime soundtracks, but I happened across a group dedicated to Christmas music, and ended up getting a whole bunch of 1960s and 1970s Christmas music as well, stuff that I'd listened to from records during my childhood.

So I've created an extensive, huge playlist of the absolute best Christmas music. It's under a gigabyte (there is some cruft in the computer folder) so I can keep it on an SD card and can pop it into the MP3 player; with the right adaptor I can play it on continuous loop anywhere I care to. I've made a condensed version of it on CD, an MP3 disk which most modern car stereos can handle. Pack it full and it holds half of the tunes in the computer folder, more or less.


When I lived in Cedar Rapids, and for a while after moving here, I couldn't afford enough on-line storage to keep it all on the computer. And so I ended up dumping some of it to CD and deleting it from the computer. CDs were, are, and have been cheap--a lot cheaper than hard disk space--so it made sense to do it that way.

Only I could not find the box into which I had placed all my Christmas CDs, including the ones I'd paid for, and had to rely solely on what was on the computer. At some point I put them all in one box (helpfully labled "XMAS CDs") so that I could store them someplace safe for CD storage and not have them cluttering up the world. For quite a while that was on an end table's shelf in the living room, but at some point it got moved. When I tried to find them--either last year or the one before it--they were nowhere to be found.

But I did finally find them, and put them in my closet for when Christmas season was upon us; and a few days ago I pulled them out and started to go through them.

To my dismay I find that I do not appear to have archived all the Christmas music I downloaded, after all. That kind of sucks, but what I do have is nonetheless a pretty extensive collection of classic Christmas music.

And in the box I found a 2-disk set, 40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics, that I didn't know I had. I've been letting it play while working on this and it turns out to be a lovely set of "background" Christmas music, the kind of thing you let play during a Christmas party when people are talking and eating and etc.

Speaking of Christmas music, *SNERK*

Anyway, haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with the stuff I found. I might add a few songs to the playlist, anyway.

* * *

You see, this is how stupid the art world has become. Alleged "artist" duct-tapes a banana to a wall, and sells the "art" thus created for $120,000.

There are so many problems with this I don't even know where to start enumerating them, so instead I'll just deal with the sole practical consideration: fruit spoils.

Fruit is pretty much designed to spoil if it's not eaten. The reproductive strategy for fruit is to get animals to eat the fruit, and--at some point--poop the seeds out somewhere away from the tree. The seeds fall to earth in a fertilizer matrix and you know the rest.

Failing that, the seeds fall to earth beneath the tree and the fruit rots, depositing the seeds in the ground. That way, there's still a chance that scavengers will eat the fruit and carry off the seeds. And in the absolute worst case, the seeds still hit dirt and have a chance at germinating.

Bananas--the bananas that are harvested and sold everywhere--are a specific strain that has been painstakingly bred to produce large tasty fruit. (Oddly enough, the banana of today is not the same species as it used to be. There was a blight that wiped that strain out, and since we've made do with this one. Ever wonder why artificial banana flavoring doesn't taste like a banana you get from the supermarket? That flavor is what bananas of the extinct strain used to taste like.) Regardless of species or strain, the big soft fruit turns to unappetizing mush in pretty quick order. this "artwork", for which some rich twit paid more than an average middle class person's annual salary, is (was) destined to turn brown and ooze out of the duct tape, sooner rather than later.

Then, some "performance artist" walks up to this nonsense, takes the banana, and eats it.
Perrotin Gallery spokesman Lucien Terras told the Herald that Datuna did not "destroy" the artwork because "the banana is the idea", or as Magritte would say "Ceci n'est pas une banane."

The controversial piece, called "The Comedian," was created by Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist who had also entertained art lovers from around the globe in 2017 with his "America" 18-carat-gold toilet. The $6-million throne was stolen from England's Blenheim Palace over the summer according to CBS.

Emmanuel Perrotin, the gallery founder, told CBS News that Maurizio's work is not just about objects, but about how objects move through the world.

"Whether affixed to the wall of an art fair booth or displayed on the cover of the New York Post, his work forces us to question how value is placed on material goods," he said, although he could have also added "or eaten."

He added that "the spectacle is as much a part of the work as the banana."
All of which neatly sums up the decadence of the modern art world, rather neatly. Because all you need to create a six-figure artwork is $2 worth of fruit and tape.

Any schmuck can duct-tape a banana to a wall. Just because an artist does it does not make it art.

And, $5 says the "performance artist" was hired by the "artist", anyway.

* * *

There is a difference between wealth and liquid wealth. I give Musk a pass on this point. When you're super-rich, if you're smart, you don't leave piles of cash laying around. You invest your money. You make it work for you. But in so doing, you don't have access to huge sums of ready cash all the time. Your net worth may be $20 billion dollars, but you can't just write someone a check for a few billion dollars because it's all invested. What pays your day-to-day expenses are dividends and interest earned by those investments.

"When those purchases are combined with the purchase of a 100 year old estate in Northern California, Musk has spent about $100 million on seven properties," the article says. $100 million is half a percent of his net worth; unless he's invested very poorly I'd bet that's some fraction of his annual income.

So, yeah, I give him a pass, like I said. Anyone would if you laid it out that way, I'd think.

* * *

That attack on Pensacola was obviously a premeditated terror attack.

* * *

Sarcasm on the UPS truck shootout.

* * *

I remember when people were predicting the end of the PC. Because tablets were going to change everything, man!

...only there were obvious practical considerations--at least they were obvious to me--and it didn't turn out that way.

Netbooks were never going to be more than a niche; that was obvious even at the time. Tablets were just netbooks with a touchscreen.

But for proper work, you need a keyboard, and you need certain performance characteristics that tablets can't supply, at least not unless they cost as much as desktops or laptops. That was obvious in 2010 and it's still obvious now; as convenient as modern smart devices are they simply don't work well when you're trying to update a six-page spreadsheet or write a thirty-page report.

Or play a graphics-intensive game.

* * *

"Water saving" is stupid. At least, it is for the majority of the United States.

We live on a planet where clean water literally falls from the sky. Maybe not perfectly clean, but if you drink it, it won't kill you. There are places where this does not happen very often (we call those places "deserts") and in those places, water-saving devices make perfect sense. But for the rest of us?

I live within 30 miles of one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. It's big enough that it's an inland sea, really. The water is clean--Chicago uses it as its source for drinking water--so why do I need to conserve water as if I lived in a desert?

When I take a shower or use the toilet or do anything involving water, that water isn't gone after I use it. Water is naturally recycled by Earth's environment. Maybe the water that I flushed down the toilet is contaminated with waste products, but those waste products are removed by the water treatment plant that serves my town before it's released back into the environment. That effluent is nearly pure water, clean enough for nature to handle. And then it goes through the cycle again, evaporating or being absorbed by the ground or whatever, ending up as rain or snow or ice or groundwater.

78% of the planet is covered with water. We're not going to run out of it. We should stop acting as if we will.

* * *

Hearing good things about the upcoming Ghostbusters movie, the one starring Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd. It's such a shame that Harold Ramis died--Egon got the best lines.

* * *

Okay, that's weird.

WinAmp is old. The version on my machine was released six years ago; it still works even though, in 2013, Windows XP was the reigning king of operating systems. Floristica runs Win 8.1 and, mostly. It has quirks.

Example: when I put a CD into the drive, WinAmp will start--but it will only show the playlist using the old 1998-style skin. If I want to see the actual interface I need to close it, and then start it manually.

Even better, I put in the second disk of this 2-disk set of background Christmas music; it got partway into the first track and then started playing static. I'm not sure but it sounded like it was replaying part of the same track over and over, too; I could hear the music so it sounded like a badly-tuned radio station. Had to close the program and restart it to get that to go away.

Anyway, WinAmp's web site was dead for quite a while but apparently they released version 5.8 not so long ago. That page says they're working on a new version but I don't place a lot of stock in that, considering that's what the old version of that page (prior to their release of 5.8) said.

I've used various versions of WinAmp for two decades because it just worked. Here's hoping 5.8 continues that trend.

* * *

"Twas The Night Before" was a delight.

Whoever did the lighting and set design should win an award; it was gorgeous. It had an appropriate Christmas story. The music was traditional Christmas music, suitably adapted for the show--absolutely no complaints about it, I'd like the soundtrack in fact--and the performances were superb.

One act--no intermission--which I'd expect for a show that will have a lot of children in attendance.

We saw the 4 PM show, which let us go out to eat and still have us home by 8:30. Win, all around.

That was our Christmas show for the year. Happened the same weekend as the Fungal Vale's Christmas festival but we eschewed the parade last year, too, so oh well.

Pretty much I now have two weeks to get my shopping done. None is happening today--too much energy expended yesterday--but I'll do a little here and there after work and I ought to be okay.

I hope. Heh.

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