Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Finally Time for A New Phone?

First, an update - on a recent colonoscopy post I indicated I needed something biopsied.  Results are negative and I am grateful for that.

Now to today's post:

My spouse and I both own iPhone SE first editions (mine purchased in 2016, his inherited from his late mother in law when she passed in 2018).  Both of our phones need to be replaced, but we are both the kind of people who keep devices until long after they have become obsolete.

We know, when Apple releases its next operating system this fall, neither of our phones will be able to handle the upgrade.

I use my phone as a camera that also can make calls and texts.  My spouse wants to use his to identify birds.  The software is too big for the free space on his phone.  My mother in law had only purchased 16 GB of memory to save money - totally inadequate in today's world.

Also, we've been on the same cell phone plan since 2016.  

Sometimes, you need a push. We've now received it.

I had read, the other day, that major cell phone carriers were raising monthly charges on "legacy plans", plans no longer offered. Turns out that's true. That is what is happening to us.  Our rates are going up in August.

So, we are preparing to shop for new phones.

As my regular readers know, I use my phone mainly for still photography.  My son recently recommended (once again) that I don't get an iPhone with the latest and greatest camera equipment.  Instead, he recommended, get the current iPhone SE and spend the difference on a "real" camera.  

The one certain thing is we are all going to stay with iPhones.  It's just a matter of "which one", which carrier, and which plan.  Both of us have used iPhones for years and would rather not try to learn Android.

Now it's time for some shopping for a new plan and possibly a new carrier.  It's going to be a learning experience.  At least I am still working part time.  I'd really rather not buy an older phone due to my habit of keeping electronics going "forever".

Oh, the time spent on technology that could be spent on other things...sigh.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Freedom Fourth #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and, once again, it's time for music!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only-meaning at least one music video, please!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and the world famous (not) me. 

Our founder, Marie aka Xmas Dolly, has stepped back from blogging for now, and would appreciate your good thoughts as she works through some health issues. The latest word from Marie is that she hopes to return to occasional blogging sometime in the near future, and, more recently, she has sent her love to all of us. Please continue to think of her!

We'd love more music lovers to join our fun group.  All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").  So easy!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For July, we give a welcome to Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.   Chirp - I mean, welcome!

Her theme for today:  You Pick.

Today is Independence Day in the United States.  Let's celebrate with music mentioning freedom or the word "free", something we take for granted.  

We shouldn't ever take freedom for granted, though.  Freedom is fragile and must be nourished by each generation, and this is true for all countries that enjoy it.

Since this is American Independence Day, let's start off with a song that I learned in sleepaway camp back in the early 1960's that mentions July 4.  It isn't specifically about freedom, but comes from a 1942 movie biopic on the life of songwriter George M. Cohan.  Here is James Cagney singing "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy"

Next comes Elton John and his 1975 hit Philadelphia Freedom.  I've read that this was written as a tribute to both the City of Philadelphia and tennis star Billie Jean King. Her victory against Bobby Riggs in the September 20, 1973 "battle of the sexes" match watched on TV by over 50 million people helped to establish women as legitimate pro athletes.

From 2021, multitalented artist Jon Batiste and "Freedom". 

From 1968, the Rascals and People Got To Be Free.

Bread was known mainly as a soft rock band, but they could get a little heavy, too, like in 1971's Mother Freedom.

Let's get heavier (lyric wise) again with Bob Marley and the Wailers' Redemption Song.  This is a video you may want to watch, too.

"Freedom" from Pharrell Williams is both a powerful song and powerful video.

"I Want to Break Free" from Queen is mainly about relationships but, why not?

I will end with this song that is one of my all time favorites to accompany 4th of July fireworks. From 1896/97 (the song, not the recording), John Phillip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever.  It's not the best quality recording, but I chose this recording from 1929 because it features an intro by John Phillip Sousa himself, and is then played by his band.

And that's a wrap!

Join me again same time, same place, next week, for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Let Freedom Flower

Today, on the eve of my country's 246th birthday, I want to bring you some flowers in the colors of my country:  red, white and blue.  All of these photos were taken today, here in the United States.

Since tomorrow is our Independence Day, shouldn't I be baking a cake instead?  The Canadians have this one nailed for their special day (which was July 1) so why not us?

Before you wonder why I'm sharing flowers and not a yummy dessert of some kind, I should remind you of one of my cooking misadventures while making sort-of 4th of July/Canada Day mashup cake several years ago.

Therefore, flowers.

Red is easy - variegated geranium.

White - Astilbe.


Blue is not an easy color, though.  So many "blue" flowers are actually shades of purple.  However, I went to my community garden area and saw this wild chicory. 

Let freedom flower!

Although I'll have more music tomorrow for the every Monday Music Moves Me, I wanted to share this song I saw on a fellow music blogger's website.  What gave me goosebumps was the video, a compilation of pictures taken of immigrants to the United States between 1900 and 1920.  This happens to be the time span my grandparents and some of my aunts and uncles arrived in the United States.  There's so much I don't know about them and they never could have imagined one of their granddaughters would use technology they couldn't dream of to bring her readers some beauty today.

Neil Diamond and "Coming to America".

Enjoy your Sunday, wherever you live.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Gettysburg Cyclorama

A cyclorama is a type of 360 degree oil on canvas painting popular in the late 19th century.   Their popularity died out as motion pictures became available in the 20th century.  Few cycloramas have survived to the present day.

They would depict various events such as fires, battles, and other events of note.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama is a restored painting by French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett's Charge, a failed charge by the Confederate troops during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg in the United States Civil War.  This three day battle was fought July 1-3, 1863, so we are commemorating its 159th anniversary this year.

If that charge had succeeded, the Confederate State of America may well have eventually won their war against the United States.  Historians and people who study the war debate this to the present day.

Today, I want to bring you some of this cyclorama  This particular painting was not the original Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama, which was first displayed in Chicago in 1883.  That painting took a year and a half to create.  The artist interviewed various survivors of the battle and took sketches of the battlefield during a 1882 visit.

There were possibly four Gettysburg cycloramas produced under the direct supervision of this artist: Chicago (1883), Boston (the version now exhibited at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Philadelphia (1886), Brooklyn (which became part of New York City in 1898) in 1886.

The version first displayed in Chicago may have been destroyed in a storm in Omaha, Nebraska in 1894.  The Gettysburg National Park Service website states it still survives and is known as the "Wake Forest" version, in dire need of restoration, but I read elsewhere there is evidence of its destruction in Omaha, as mentioned earlier.  Another cyclorama may have been cut up and used as tents for Native Americans.

The version I saw at the Gettysburg (battle) Visitors Center in March of this year was a second commission of Pickett's Charge, first displayed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1884.  Between 2003 and 2008 the painting was restored, and it is, to put it mildly, awe-inspiring.

Let's go in. Yes, it's weird saying "inside a painting" but the painting surrounds you completely.

When you first go in, the lights are dimmed. Then, the show begins.  Lights are raised to duplicate a sunrise, I'm guessing, and the battle is revealed.  (You can download video and stills at this site but these are my pictures.)

This is so realistic that it is said that veterans of the battle cried when they visited the cyclorama back in the 1880's.
The battle was fought on farmland, not far from the small city of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Today, the population is around 7,000 people.)

The painting is  377 feet (114.9m) in circumference and 42 feet (12.8m) high. 

What is missing are the sound effects of battle that are also piped in.  Note that, in addition to the painting, there are real rocks and figures in front of it, which give it the three dimensional look.

These pictures do not begin to do the Cyclorama justice.  

At a time when it seems our country is becoming more split apart, it is well to dwell on the aftermath of the Civil War.  Gettysburg was an important, and terrible, part of this war.  

We must never put ourselves through anything like this, ever again. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Imagination Skies #SkywatchFriday

June has vanished in a puff of humidity, replaced by July and the dog days of summer.  Indeed, today, it's supposed to be hot and humid.  

So let's take a little break from sky watching and, instead, do some day dreaming.

When you were a child, did you like to look at the clouds and imagine what object or living thing the clouds looked like?

My spouse still likes to do that.  Or maybe he picked it up from going with me on many of my walks to watch the sky. 

Earlier this week, we were walking, and spouse saw this - cloud? contrail?  He said "it looks like an "S".

Let's call it "Super Sky?"

The next day, he saw formations on the bottom left and asked me "don't these look like jellyfish?"

These were easy for spouse, who has always loved the weather.  "Mare's tails", he declared. 

So fun to watch the sky,and daydream. 

Do you see what spouse saw, or something different?

Before I go, let me wish my Canadian readers a Happy Canada Day, and my United States readers a Happy Independence Day on July 4.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for #SkywatchFriday.


Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Search for Miss Kelly

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a news item featuring the "search for Miss Kelly", a woman attending the University of Connecticut who had applied for astronaut training.  NBC news has a copy of a rejection letter from February of 1962 where NASA said "We have no existing program for woman astronauts...nor do we contemplate any such plan..."  Of course, in 1963, the Soviet Union launched the first woman into space but it took many years for the United States to catch up.

We don't know if Miss Kelly ever fulfilled her dream in some other way.  NASA did not officially hire female astronauts until 1978. 

As of the time I blog this, Miss Kelly has not been found.  But, interesting, I saw that this Miss Kelly letter had been published online in 2013 - nine years ago.

Back in 2020, I wrote this about women in the space program, and something I was never taught, even as I watched launches live in my 1960's elementary school classrooms:
"I grew up in the 50's and 60's, a time when we were in a space race with the Soviet Union.

All the astronauts were men.  The people in the control room were men.  That's the way it was back then.

Little did I know about the female "computers", who, starting as early as 1939, helped to put airplanes in the air and, eventually, the United States into space.  No one talked about them.  No one taught us about them in school, even in the science oriented high school I attended in New York City in the late 1960's.

No, NASA's face was totally male. 

I did not pursue a science career (I was never able to conquer mathematics) but the space program always remained of interest to me.

Some of these computers, not machines, but humans who did their calculations by hand, were women of color.  They rode to work in segregated buses, consigned to the back.  They worked in segregated rooms.  Some had to go to the bathroom in a different building than they worked in.

In those days, a "computer" was a human.  Machine computers were primitive, and not trusted for many calculations.

Eventually, a book called "Hidden Figures" told some of the stories of three female computers of color..  Among them was a woman by the name of Katherine Johnson, who did the calculations for some of the first Mercury missions and Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon, among many other accomplishments.  She retired in 1986.

In an interview several years ago, she humbly said "I did the best I could".

Fast forward to 2017, when spouse and I traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to view the total eclipse of the sun.  

At the museum where we saw the eclipse, there was a NASA trailer and a long line to get in.  We saw their display and, at the end, were invited to the Langley, Virginia NASA facility where Katherine Johnson and others had worked, for an open house that October.  They only hold the open houses every five years, and this one was special - their 100th anniversary.   Health permitting (Ms. Johnson was in a wheelchair by then), Katherine Johnson was planning to attend.

But my elderly mother in law's health was starting to fail, and we could not make the trip."

We never did see Katherine Johnson.  She passed away in 2020. 

I've still kept my interest in the space program, and I'm aware there is a hope of seeing a woman on the moon by 2025.

Now, to see if we can find Miss Kelly.  Maybe this time, we will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

More Toothpick Art #WordlessWednesday

Ready for some more toothpick art?

On a recent visit to the Eastview Mall in Victor, New York (a suburb of Rochester) I saw an exhibit of toothpick art from a local artist, Stan Munro.  Here's my first post, further explaining the art.

Here are a couple of more selections for this Wordless Wednesday.  Yes, this art is made from toothpicks - thousands of them.  Would you have the patience?

The Statue of Liberty (with an addition).


"I wish I knew what this is".


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her weekly #WordlessWednesday.