Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z (#atozchallenge)

So, here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge for 2015, and at the end of the alphabet with the letter Z, known as “zed” in much of the rest of world.

Z is the name of a 1969 French Algerian movie starring Yves Montand and Irene Papas, directed by the Greek director Costa-Gavras, music by Mikis Theodorakis, adapted from the novel of the same name by Vasilis Vasilikos. IMDb’s logline says “Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles.” The whole movie is available on YouTube with English subtitles, broken into 13 pieces. I had a hard time following it, even with the subtitles; maybe you’ll have better luck. Roger Ebert, who had started at the Chicago Sun-Times not long before, proclaimed it the best movie of 1969.


Z, especially three Z’s over the figure of a person lying in bed or with his head on a desk, is a way of indicating that the person is asleep. There might be more than three Z’s, indicating that the person is deep asleep. You might also see a string of Z’s that indicates a pesky flying insect is bothering the hero of a comic.


Remember the old telephone directories? People would go out of their way to be listed either first or last in the phone book. To get listed first, you would precede your name by a string of A’s, as in AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHolton, and to get it listed last, you would have yourself listed as a person whose last name started with a string of Z’s. For years, the last person listed in the Chicago White Pages directory was a man who went by the name of Zeke Zzzzypt. He held the distinction for several years, until Zach Zzzzyzzzzy came along.

Well, that does it for me for this year’s A to Z Challenge. I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously. This was, as I think I mentioned, my first year as a co-host for the Challenge, and I want to thank Arlee and Alex and all the other co-hosts for letting me come in and play with them. I’d also like to thank my minions for the fine job they did checking the blogs that were assigned to me, and for being good people.

And, this wouldn’t be one of the coolest challenges on the entire Internet if it weren’t for people like you, who did as I did and posted 26 entries this month, starting with A on the 1st and ending with Z on the 30th, and who came by and visited and made some excellent comments that made me laugh and made me think. I hope that you will continue to visit me here at The Sound of One Hand Typing or on the simulcast blog, The Sound of One Hand Typing FM. I post at least once a day, and as you might have noticed, I have a few regular features here. Thanks for your support!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Two for Tuesday: Georgie Fame

A little later today than usual, for which I apologize. I’ve been researching for articles I want to write when the A to Z Challenge is finished.

Clive Powell, a/k/a Georgie Fame, is a jazz and R&B singer and keyboard player who got his start during the British Invasion, and he’s still going strong. He had three #1 songs in England with the only three songs to have made the Top Ten there in the mid- to late-1960’s. His sound was jazzier than most of his British Invasion counterparts; as you’ll see from the videos, his band, The Blue Flames, included a horn section and additional percussion and wasn’t as guitar-heavy as most of the other bands.

The first of his British #1 hits was “Yeh Yeh,” which reached #21 in the US in late 1964. It also made it to #14 in Australia.

His third British #1 was “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” which came out in 1967, as did the movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. It reached #4 in Australia and #7 in the US, even though it was never part of the movie…

Georgie’s second British #1 hit was 1966’s “Get Away,” which peaked at #40 in Australia and #70 in the US. Also in 1966, he covered Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” which peaked at #13 in the UK but didn’t chart elsewhere. After his time with The Blue Flames, he performed frequently with Alan Price (formerly with The Animals), and had a hit with “Rosetta”; it charted at #11 in the UK and #91 in Australia.

Georgie has since played with Van Morrison and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. His website states that he has no plans to tour the US anytime soon, but may announce tour dates either as a solo or as a member of the Rhythm Kings “in the future,” so watch his site for further announcements.

Georgie Fame, your Two for Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

XBOX (#atozchallenge)

Everything I know about gaming systems I learned on The Big Bang Theory, especially the episode in which Sheldon drove everyone (mostly himself) crazy over whether to get an XBOX One or an XBOX 360. All I know is, by the time he had more or less made up his mind, the store was closed and Amy had to walk him out as he was babbling incoherently about the advantages of one system versus the other.


The professors on that show seem to spend a lot of time playing on one gaming system or another, so it’s hard not to learn about them by osmosis. I know that the XBOX is Microsoft’s entry into the gaming system war, if that’s what you call it, and its competitors are Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s Playstation. There are probably others, but those are the three that appear to be the big players.

For the same reason I type with one hand, I would find any video game system frustrating, since the controllers for them require two hands. Besides, video games are really not my thing; my preferences are for quieter games, like solitaire and working sudoku and crossword puzzles. Occasionally I’ll find an interesting game, such as 2048 or Two Dots, but those don’t involve things scampering around the screen and explosions and the like. Guess that makes me an old fart, but there you go.

So, how about it? Are any of you video game system fans, and if so, which is your favorite?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Monday, April 27, 2015

WTTW (#atozchallenge)


“This is Eleven… WTTW, public television for Chicago.”

When I was seven years old, my aunt Bitsy (who was 15 or 16) and I spent a weekend with Mom’s aunt Cash. When Cash asked what I wanted to do, I told her I wanted to see the WGN-TV transmitter at the Prudential Building (then the tallest building in Chicago) and the studio for WTTW, then at the Museum of Science and Industry. I guess she was so impressed that I knew where these things were that we went to both places, and I got a chance to see both of them. I guess even then I was into TV.

WTTW was the educational station in Chicago. It was on for maybe four hours a day, and they broadcast college classes and very dull documentaries in that time. PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting were still a few years away, so they had to come up with what programming they could.

Once PBS was in place in the early 1970’s, WTTW started to live up to its nickname, “Window To The World.” Great documentaries, music programs, and some interesting programs produced locally. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, it was the place to be on Sunday nights, because they would show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Two Ronnies, Dave Allen At Large, and Doctor Who. Soundstage, which featured musical acts in concert in the studio, was produced at WTTW; its first show featured Muddy Waters. Any time the networks didn’t have anything worth watching, WTTW was always a viable option.

Here is their signoff from Christmas day, no idea what the year was, courtesy The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Also from The MCCTv comes this example of hacking, 1980’s style. On Sunday, November 22, 1987, a video pirate broke into WTTW’s broadcast of Doctor Who and played “Max Headroom.”

Public TV continues to thrive, even in these days of hundreds of cable channels and networks. Guess that’s what happens when someone decides to put quality over quantity. Except for Max Headroom…

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Week That Was #4 (#atozchallenge)

Another good week in the world of the A to Z Challenge. Writing the posts before the Challenge actually starts really makes a difference. I’ll tell you, though, I’m checking out close to 200 blogs a day, and by the time I stop, I’m beat. If I was trying to do all that and write the entries at the same time, I’d be totally frazzled. I mean, this is my fourth challenge, and I’m following blogs and bloggers from all four years. Add to that the blogs I’m overseeing as a cohost, and you get the idea.

All of that to say that, if I didn’t reply to a comment you left, accept my apologies and know that I read all of them and, when things get a wee bit less crazy around here, I will respond. And thank you for coming by, and I will reciprocate.

So, let’s see what on around here this week…

Monday we looked at exchange-traded funds, an investment vehicle similar to a mutual fund but with the price volatility of a stock. There were some good ideas for books on investing, including those by Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, The Wealthy Barber books by David Chilton, as well as The Truth About Money by Ric Edelman. My brother Kip suggested the last of these, as well as saying this:

I am trying to remember the name of the one that starts with Chapter 1: Never take responsibility for anything that eats. That’s the entire chapter. Chapter 2 begins with: now that you’ve completely ignored chapter 1…

Matthew MacNish added that there are a few courses offered by Khan Academy on investing. I’ve never taken any classes from Khan; maybe I’ll check them out.

Tuesday’s post on razors was a reprint of an entry I had made several months before. Since writing that post, I’ve grown a beard, but it was a good post, anyway, and it helped me finish one entry in the challenge. (Maybe next year my theme will be my favorite entries for each letter in previous years… hmmm…) Paul McCartney once called shaving “the bane of existence.”

I’m glad people liked my post on starlight mints, which was as much a post about Grandma Holton as it was about the candies. I think everyone would have loved Grandma; she was really one of a kind. She died at 92, and I swear, she died too young.

Being an old instructor, I’m glad when I can write a post that informs as well as entertains. I managed to do that a couple of times this week. Thursday, I talked about twilight and the three kinds (civil, nautical, and astronomical) that happen both at the beginning and end of the day. A lot of people didn’t realize that “twilight” happens both at dawn and at dusk, which doesn’t surprise me, because I didn’t know it, either. I think it was an episode of NCIS where I heard the civil, nautical, and astronomical distinctions, and learned they happen at both ends of the day when I started looking a little more closely at (Do you find you learn a lot of stuff just by seeing something and asking yourself, “wonder what that’s all about?”)

My post yesterday about Vladislav Volkov was another example. A lot of people (myself included) didn’t recall the disaster of the Soyuz 11 where, after successfully docking and undocking with the Salyut 1 space station, the capsule in which Volkov and the two other cosmonauts were flying depressurized, killing all three men. I only remember hearing about it vaguely, and looking at the dates of the mission (June 6-30, 1971), I now know why: my family and I were moving at the end of that month, and things were really confused around that time (and my being 15 probably didn’t help much). This was also in the latter stages of the Cold War, when communication between the United States and the Soviet Union were sketchy at best, probably explaining why most of us hadn’t heard about it, either.

Friday we talked about Ayer’s Rock, also known as Uluru, one of Australia’s best-known natural monuments. I heard from someone on Facebook that she had climbed it, so I guess it can be done, though the Aborigines frown on it, as it’s a sacred place to them. Most people settle for walking around it, a 10K hike. Most people remarked at the natural beauty of the rock and the scenery around it; I can only imagine what it’s like in person. Sisyphus said he was reminded of the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, filmed at Hanging Rock, a similar formation in Victoria in southern Australia. I should see if I can locate a copy of that.

So, that was last week. This week is the final one for the A to Z Challenge, so best of luck to everyone on that. Friday, the day after the Challenge, we’ll have a Battle of the Bands (still to be determined) and, of course, Two for Tuesday. See you then!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vladislav Volkov (#atozchallenge)

Vladislav Volkov, from a USSR postage stamp (public domain)

Vladislav Volkov was a Russian cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 11 missions, for which he was named a Hero of the Soviet Union twice, and earned two Order of Lenin medals and the title of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR. After the 24-day Soyuz 11 mission, during which they docked with the Salyut 1 space station, he and his crewmates, Georgy Dobrovolsky and Viktor Patsayev, were found dead in their capsule by the recovery crew. A breathing ventilation valve opened shortly after the capsule had undocked from the space station, and the crew asphyxiated shortly afterward. So far, they are the only men to have died in outer space.

President Richard Nixon issued the following statement:

The American people join in expressing to you and the Soviet people our deepest sympathy on the tragic deaths of the three Soviet cosmonauts. The whole world followed the exploits of these courageous explorers of the unknown and shares the anguish of their tragedy. But the achievements of cosmonauts Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev remain. It will, I am sure, prove to have contributed greatly to the further achievements of the Soviet program for the exploration of space and thus to the widening of man’s horizons.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Commemorative stamp honoring the crew of Soyuz 11: Dobrovolsky, Volkov, Patsayev. (public domain)

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Friday, April 24, 2015

Uluru (#atozchallenge)

Uluru, or Ayers Rock, taken from a helicopter (Source: Huntster, Wikimedia Commons)

Uluru, also called Ayers Rock and officially named Uluru/Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the Northern Territory of Australia, 335 kilometers from the town of Alice Springs. It and Kata Tjuta, also called Mount Olga, are the two main features of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. (I wonder how they came up wth that name?) It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s 1,142 feet high and has a total circumference of 5.8 miles.

Parks Australia has a whole site dedicated to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, including a visual journey (you’ll need a Pinterest account to see that), information about the people and the place, a list of things to do while you’re there, and planning your trip to the region. One thing they are adamant about: while climbing Uluru is not prohibited, it’s a sacred site to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people who live there, and it’s a treacherous climb: thirty people or more have died making the climb, and many more have been injured. According to the site, the people “feel a great sadness” when someone is injured or killed by trying to climb the rock.

If any of my Australian readers would like to leave comments about Uluru, or about the national park, please feel free! The rest of the readers (not to mention I) would be interested to hear about your experiences.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Thursday, April 23, 2015

An #AtoZChallenge Bonus: t-shirt

Talk about your serendipity…

Jeremy Hawkins, proprietor of the blog HOLLYWOOD NUTS!, fellow co-host for this year’s A to Z Challenge, and graphic artist par excellence, came up with an idea which he first announced on the A to Z Challenge blog a week ago yesterday: he has designed a wide range of merchandise, including t-shirts, hoodies, gear for kids and babies, messenger bags, etc. etc. which allow you to advertise yourself as an A to Z Challenge Survivor! Go on over to NeatoShop and convince yourself that life will not be complete until you purchase a bunch of A to Z gear!

This is our first stab at marketing A to Z Challenge merchandise. If it goes well, expect other A to Z Challenge gear in the coming years, like ball caps, coffee mugs, memo pads… who knows how far we can go with it?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Twilight (#atozchallenge)

No, not this one…


A week ago we talked about noon, and mentioned that solar noon is the time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky at a given location. From our perspective, everything around us is fixed, and the sun rises in the east, makes an arc across the sky, and sets in the west. Sunrise is when it looks like the sun is rising over the horizon in the east, noon is when it looks like the sun is directly overhead, and sunset is when it looks like the sun is setting behind the horizon in the west. I say looks like because the horizon is an illusion, created by the curvature in the earth and the rotation of the earth on its axis.

A fun thing to do, a sort of rite of passage, really, is getting up early and watching the sun rise. This was great in Chicago, because Lake Michigan is east of the city, and it looked like the sun was coming up out of the lake. About a half hour before the sun comes up, it starts getting light outside. So, even though the sun comes up at 6:30 AM, it starts getting light out at around 6:00 AM. Likewise, if you were standing on the beach in Santa Monica, California, at sunset, you would see the sun drop behind the horizon over the Pacific Ocean at 8:00 PM, but it would stay light until 8:30 PM or so. We call these times dawn and dusk, respectively, but the true name for them is twilight.

There are three kinds of twilight: civil twilight, nautical twilight, and astronomical twilight. Dawn and dusk are civil twilight; they’re the times that it’s getting light or getting dark. The technical definition of civil twilight is when the sun is 6° or less below the horizon. You can think of civil twilight as when it’s light out enough to drive without your lights on, or when they turn the streetlights on or off. Nautical twilight is when the sun is from 6° to 12° below the horizon, and astronomical twilight is when the sun is from 12° to 18° below the horizon. They’re an average of 30 minutes apart over the course of the year. Here are the values for Atlanta on March 31, 2015:


from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Here Comes The Night” Result


I think this might have been the most lopsided victory for a song I’ve had since I started doing Battle of the Bands here. Remember, we were comparing Lulu’s and Streetheart’s version of Them’s “Here Comes The Night.” The final tally:

Streetheart: 9
Lulu: 2

A few people said they didn’t like the song, regardless of who did it. I can see that. A couple also mentioned that their favorite version was Van Morrison’s version without Them. I can see that, too. I’m not a great fan of the song, either, which might have been why I chose it.

Anyway, that’s the final score. Congratulations to Streetheart.

The next Battle of the Bands is next Friday, May 1, also the day after the 2015 Blogging from A to Z Challenge ends. Meaning I ought to start putting together blog entries for next month… it’s been nice having all of the entries done and queued up to be released. I’ll have to plan my activities accordingly. See you Friday!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Starlight Mints (#atozchallenge)

See what I did there? Today’s “word” is actually a phrase starting and ending with the letter “S.” I could have used a single word that started and ended with “S,” but it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.

Starlight mints (source:

When I see starlight mints, or suck on them, I think of Grandma Holton. She loved them, and had some in her purse whenever she went out. When I’d be with her, she’d ask “Would you like a mint, dear?” I never said no, because I loved starlight mints and I loved Grandma.

I remember riding back from the cemetery after we said goodbye to Dad for the last time. This was right after Chicago had its “Big Snow” in 1967, and we had waited for a week before we could have Dad’s funeral. (Funny thing: Dad was buried at All Saints Cemetery outside of Chicago, and when we got outside the city, the roads were all clear.) We were in the limousine, Mom, Grandma and her sister Florence, my brothers and I. (It was a big limo.) About halfway home, Grandma opens her purse and pulls out a couple of starlight mints. She held one up with a silly smile on her face. I thanked her, took the mint, unwrapped it, and sucked on it until we got home. Somehow, I knew everything would be all right, because even though we had lost Dad, we still had his mother, and losing him didn’t change that.

I keep a plastic container in my office with starlight mints in it. The peppermint ones, of course; there are other flavors, but the peppermint ones are the ones Grandma liked. My mouth gets dry (side effect of the blood pressure meds I take) and it’s nice to have them. And whenever I have one, I say a prayer for Grandma.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two for Tuesday: The Mindbenders

Wayne Fontana formed the Mindbenders in Manchester with Bob Lang (bass), Ric Rockwell (drums), and Eric Stewart (guitar), and later Graham Foote (guitar). They had a #1 hit in the US with “Game of Love” in 1965, our first song today. Fontana decided to leave the Mindbenders in the middle of a concert, and Stewart took over on vocals in late 1965. Their first hit post-Fontana was “Groovy Kind of Love,” today’s second tune; it reached #2 in both the US and the UK in late 1965 and early 1966.

The Mindbenders appeared in the 1967 movie, “To Sir With Love” as Lulu’s backup band, but broke up in 1968 at the end of a UK tour. Stewart and Graham Gouldman, who took over on bass after Lang quit in 1968, went on to form other bands, most notably the band 10cc, while Foote joined with Lek Leckenby and Bob Whitwam in Herman’s Hermits after Peter Noone left, and has been with them since then.

The Mindbenders, your Two for Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Razor (#atozchallenge)

The old reliable safety razor (source: Wikimedia Commons)

It took a while to come up with the word I would use today. I had thought of “radar” and “rubber” and a few others, and Mary said “What about razor?” And I remembered, I had written a post about getting a close shave back in July of last year. It should be noted that since that time I’ve decided to grow a beard and dispense with taking a sharp object to my face. Anyway, here’s an encore presentation of “In Search of a Close Shave.”

I’ve been shaving since I started high school. I didn’t have much of a beard, but the Jesuits told us all that we had to start shaving because some of us were coming to school with a shadow. There weren’t many choices for shaving at the time; you had the safety razor, the injector razor, the straight razor, and the electric shaver.

Fortunately, we had never gotten around to getting rid of Dad’s shaving stuff after he died, and his razor and half a container of Gillette blue blades were still in the medicine cabinet, along with a can of Noxzema Medicated Comfort Shave (the one advertised by Gunilla Knutson) and an old bottle of English Leather after shave lotion.

Ad for Noxzema featuring Gunilla Knutson

So, that Saturday morning, I went into the bathroom, lathered up my face, and attempted to shave the way the guys in the commercials did.

And cut myself in several places. (At least I’d have no trouble proving to Fr. Mulhern that I had shaved over the weekend.) That’s when I learned what the after shave was for: to stop the bleeding. Stung like hell, but it did the trick.

Mom, of course, was beside herself, and asked her boyfriend at the time to show me how to shave. He and I stood in the bathroom and I showed him what I was doing, and he went out and reported that I was doing just fine. I still cut myself, but I learned that the guy in the commercial was using a razor without a blade, and that’s how he was able to shave the way he did without slicing his face to ribbons.

I shaved with a either a safety razor or an injector razor (it arrived in the mail one day, I tried it, and I liked it) until I started traveling. By that time, the disposable razors had come out, and it was just easier to use a disposable and throw it out at the end of a trip. Plus, I didn’t run the risk of forgetting it or damaging it in my luggage. Not long after moving to Atlanta, my trusty safety razor fell apart, and by that time razors and blades were as rare as hen’s teeth, so I said, “the hell with it,” and just started using the disposables every day.

They must be making them much cheaper these days, because for the first few months of this year I had been trying to get a decent shave with a disposable, and I’d end up just as hairy after I shave as I was before it. The disposables are so dull you couldn’t cut a fart with them. (I just had to use that joke.) Evidently this is a problem for a lot of guys, because I’ve started seeing the safety razors pop up in ads for Barbasol shave cream. I don’t know if it’s a nostalgia thing or just guys being frustrated with the whole shaving experience, but the safety razor is making a comeback. This is a commercial for one such razor that I’ve started seeing, featuring Rick Harrison from the TV show Pawn Stars:

A couple of months ago, I told Mary that I was going to order myself a razor and some blades. When the razor came, I shaved with it for the first time, and it was a bit of a bloodbath. I have had to make adjustments to the pressure that I use from the disposable, where I had to press hard to get it to cut anything, to the new razor, where I barely have to press to get it to remove the hair from my face. I also purchased a styptic pencil and a bottle of Aqua Velva, my favorite after shave from the old days. It soothes a raw face after a good shave, and Mary likes the scent.

I’m happy. Now, if I could only find menthol shave cream…

How do you (or the man in your life, if there is one) shave?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Monday, April 20, 2015

QQQ (#atozchallenge)

Today we’re going to wander into the world of finance and investing. No, wait! Don’t run away! I’m going to keep it simple, I promise. And I promise not to try and sell you anything.

A popular way to invest money for retirement is to take money every payday and invest it in a mutual fund. The mutual fund collects money from you and other holders of the mutual fund and invests it according to its investment objectives. There are all kinds of funds: growth funds, income funds, large-cap stock funds, small-cap stock funds, total stock market funds, bond funds, bond and stock funds, precious metal funds, etc. etc. etc. (When you decide to invest in a mutual fund, be sure and read the prospectus and make sure you understand everything there is to know about it before investing.) At the end of the day, the fund figures out the net asset value (NAV) of the fund by taking the total value of their investments and dividing it by the number of shares they have outstanding.

One of the most popular types of mutual funds is the index fund. The fund manager invests the money of the fund into the stocks that make up a specific index. So, if you had a fund that used the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which consists of thirty large companies on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, the fund would invest in those thirty stocks, and the NAV of the fund would rise and fall with the index.

A few years ago, a couple of investment firms came up with the idea of exchange-traded funds, or ETF’s. ETF’s were like mutual funds in that they held stocks in other companies, but instead of the prices of their shares being set at the end of the day, they would be traded as any other stock and the value of the shares would be set by market activity.

One such ETF is PowerShares QQQ, sold by Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC. It tracks the NASDAQ-100 Index, but the price of the ETF can vary greatly during the day, where the net asset value of a mutual fund changes only at the end of the trading day.

I don’t want to get too deeply into this, because I already see some eyes glazing over. I know the feeling. For the longest time, I believed the stock market was a three-headed beast that would eat you alive, kind of like King Ghidora. The more I learned about it, the more I understood what kinds of risks I was willing to take. There are people who buy sophisticated software and play the stock market like some teenagers play with their PlayStations and XBOXes. The best way to start is by reading everything you can about the stock market and about trading. I recommend the books by Charles Schwab and The Motley Fool as good books to start with. Regardless of where you are or what exchange you’ll be trading on, the principles in these books will help you.

As I said, I’m hardly an expert on investing and trading stocks, but I’ll bet some of you are, or at least better at it than I am. What books on investing have you read that you would recommend to people who might be reading this? What advice can you give your fellow readers on investing?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Week That Was, #3 (#atozchallenge)

Time for another summary of the week of A to Z here at The Sound Of One Hand Typing and The Sound Of One Hand Typing FM. Again, thank you all for stopping by and leaving comments; I do keep up with what you’re doing on your blog via Feedly, my RSS reader. Leave me a comment, I’ll add you to the list, and you’ll be stuck there for all eternity BWAHAHAHAHA!….

Sorry, got a little carried away there… now, where was I? Oh yeah…

So let’s start from yesterday and work our way backward:

As always, kind of a mixed bag on the relative merits of the Marshmallow Peep, with some saying they love them, or anything with marshmallow, for that matter, and others saying “Eww, gross!” And I had at least one comment that said they haven’t made it to where you are right now. I’ll have to send a note to the people at Just Born, the confectioners who created the Peep, and let them know (not that they’ll listen to me, of course). One thing I neglected to mention is that many people like their Peeps a little on the stale side, so that they crunch when you bite into them. I like them either soft or crunchy.

By the way, I featured a video by the Crazy Russian Hacker that one or two of you mentioned you liked. His YouTube channel is a lot of fun and he does lots of other dangerous interesting things on it. Definitely worth a laugh at least. Maybe the next time you’re stuck in the house, check some of the others out, or better yet, subscribe to his channel.

People weere a little more unanimous about the Oreo, the subject of Friday’s post, everyone liking them. Whether you twist them open and lick out the creme center before eating the cookie, dunk them whole in milk and eat them that way, or just stuff them in your gaping maw like I do, we’re generally agreed that they’re a pretty darn good cookie. Lauralynn said that, although she can no longer tolerate all that sugar, she has had the deep-fried variety, and can attest that there’s all kinds of goodness there. Barbara said she wanted to see them sell just the cookie without the creme, and while it’s the cookie-and-creme sandwich that makes the Oreo great, I can see her point: the cookie portion is a mite tasty on its own. Jeffrey said he preferred the ones with the chocolate filling (those are golden Oreos with chocolate filling), while Kathy said she liked to spread peanut butter on them, something I never thought of but I think I’ll try the next time we get Oreos (we don’t get them, as a rule).

There were a lot of comments to Thursday’s post on noon, which surprises me because it was one of those subjects where I got a little more technical than usual explaining what “noon” was. Over on Facebook, someone remarked that we have the railroads to thank for time zones, which I suppose is true; theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler once opined that “Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening all at once,” although there’s some disagreement as to whether he was the first person who said it. There were a few of you who agreed with me, that Daylight Saving Time is more trouble than it’s worth, and others who disagreed, saying they like keeping the sun out longer. My compromise was to set the clocks ahead one hour and leave them there for all eternity. There is historical precedent for that; it was done in the US during World War II, and again in the mid-1970’s during the “energy crisis.”

On a lighter note, it was nice to hear so many people remember the local cartoon shows that used to be on TV at noontime and after school when we were kids. I encourage everyone to find a copy of Tim Hollis’ excellent book, Hi There, Boys and Girls! , a well-researched directory of practically every kids’ before-school, lunchtime, and after-school cartoon show in the United States from roughly the beginning of TV through the 1980’s [and I’ll spare you the rant on that].

Everyone was equally unanimous on my post on minimum and maximum on at least one point: Minnie and Max, my cats named after the inventory-planning strategy, are “totes adorbs.” But getting back to the planning method, while it’s not entirely foolproof (vendors run out of stock due to delays from their suppliers, and it trickles down to customers), is about as close as you can get to it. It’s simple, and it works. And there are some items that are hard to plan for, such as pads, pens, and printer paper in late July and early August (when kids are going back to school) and Scotch tape and batteries in December (Christmas). There was also a time when the company I was working for was running short of coffee all the time; seems someone too cheap to buy coffee for home was grabbing it out of the coffee room on his way home. That kind of stuff really bugs me, ya know? When you come right down to it, it’s theft. And I’d better get off my soapbox before I fall off…

I generally heard one of two things about LiveJournal on Tuesday: people had either never heard of it or had been active on it once, but were no longer using it. The things LJ were good at are the same things that Facebook is good at, and a paid account on LJ (that allows you to avoid the ads and keeps your account open even if you don’t use it for, say, three years) costs more than the always-free Facebook (HA! To quote Milton Friedman, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!” What it doesn’t cost in actual dollars and cents is more than made up for in loss of privacy). But LJ has its fans, and I still have a presence there and will until LJ pulls a fast one and ruins it for everyone.

Finally, I was surprised to learn there were so many people who either hadn’t heard of kapok or didn’t realize the fiber came from a tree. I remember spending an entire geography class in 4th grade talking about the kapok tree and its fiber. Maybe geography classes don’t concentrate so much on trivia like they used to. And that’s probably a good thing.

So, this week, we’ll talk about investing, shaving, my grandmother, more time stuff, Ayer’s Rock, and a Soyuz cosmonaut.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure and vote in my Battle of the Bands from last Wednesday. Results will be posted this Wednesday. And of course, another British Invasion act on Two for Tuesday. See you tomorrow!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Peace Piece (SoCS)


The prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “piece/peace.” When I saw that, I immediately thought of this song by Bill Evans, from his 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans, an almost-seven minute improvisation that he called “Peace Piece.” So, instead of my own stream-of-consciousness, I’ll share his.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Peace Piece