Saturday, June 28, 2014

Black Box and Spaghetti

Most of us who have DSL internet service have a black box of some sort and a mess of wires like spilled spaghetti.  This is a bit neater than it was 24 hours ago.  I had to replace my modem (the black box)  and did not have to entirely loosen the new sets of wires so it's almost obvious what goes where.  The previous mess of spaghetti was carefully untangled from the new and will soon be disposed of.

I've lived from the big clunky typewriter era to the slow, clunky computer era to today and I'm still capable of considerable amazement at the internet world.  I am by no means the sophisticated and addicted user most people half my are. But the reach of what I can access on the internet astounds me.  Prior to that gape-mouthed state of wonder is the amazement that I could call Verizon, get in touch with a techy person  -- with no more than about 10 minutes on hold (the music was horrible!) and then a young woman somewhere apparently in the United States (at least by her accent though I understand she could  have been anywhere in the world), was able to tell me what to disconnect, what to connect and where. She had angelic patience as I untangled the old wires and when I accidentally unplugged the telephone (yes, folks, I still use a land line). Then she brought up on my screen, seemingly before I was really connected, screens into which I had to type the number on the black box and check this and click  that and wait for red lights to turn green and so on and so forth.  And IT WORKED! I am using the internet and it's not telling me to wait and all is well. Wonders never cease.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Small Town Post Office

Because I belong to Swap-bot and mail quite a few letters -- and quite a few of them to Australia or Europe -- and also quite a few packages, I may go to a post office more frequently than many people do.  I have a choice (as too many business remind us in their ads), I can to go the "big" (relatively speaking) post office in the center of Hyannis -- and I frequently do.  I like the clerks there but toward midday there's often a line.  Or I can come to this small post office (about the same distance from where I live). I like the clerks here too although it took nearly a year of being friendly for the man who's there to begin to smile whereas the woman who's less often there has always been friendly.  This post office looks like a Cape Cod cottage, it is shingled like so many houses here and is trimmed with white and is graced with flowers.  What more could anyone want?  I know from comments on the Swap-bot site that not all swappers have such congenial mailing experiences. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Broadening my Perspective about Rigoletto

I did not go to the Met's simulcast of their new Rigoletto last fall because 1. I really dislike Las Vegas and 2., I strongly believe changing a time and place by 400 years and 6,000 miles is a stage director's ego trip and unlikely to serve the original in a meaningful way.  But I've been rethinking this production of Rigoletto after reading many positive comments and thinking about the possible parallels between a decadent Italian court and a decadent city of gamblers and the 1960s Rat Pack.

I have to say is was the the most moving Rigoletto I've seen. Michael Meyer's vision and a very contemporary translation in the subtitles worked very, very well.  The video work was excellent (and owes much to the fact that most of this set was brilliantly lit, in contrast to some of the atmospheric, gloomy sets I've seen and disliked. Opera singers have to be actors today and this cast of European singers were very good actors although it was quite a stretch for Gilda (German Diana Dramrau) who is surely in her 30s with the body of a woman that age, to sometimes display the innocence and naivete of a protected teenager, but she mostly pulled it off. She has a lovely voice. The Duke, not royalty but a singer with a retineu of empty headed lackeys, was Zelijo Lucic, obviously East European although I don't know the country. He has a smooth and engaging tenor. I didn't get the name of the scarily snake-like Sparofucile who had a wonderful light bass voice and suave beard and sideburns. Best of all Rigoletto was Piotr Beczale (Russian, I think). A wondeful voice, a fine actor.  So sincerely troubled, so quick to be frightened by Monterone's curse and then to beg for his kidnapped daughter.  So grasping and loving a father and finally utterly destroyed by the cruelty of the ending brought about by his desire for vengence (more 16th century than 21st).
Oh, the ending -- always a problem.  Verdi's violins sob and I choke up but my head is saying that her throat was cut, how is she rallying and singing for five minutes?  That beautiful line about  praying from him along side her mother in heaven (preferably with out the words) could make a concete block cry. I'm emotionally drained, but in the good way opera can do it.  So glad I saw this opera.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Heritage Plantation, Sandwich, MA-- GIANT BUGS

These giant bugs are new at Heritage Plantation and added a wonderful sense of whimsey to our visit to see the annual massive displays of rhododendrons -- as gorgeous as always in every hue of pink to red and the creamy white ones.  As the photos show it was a brilliantly sunny late spring afternoon.

On the 100 acre botanical garden half a dozen wonderful  cedar and wicker bugs had been placed, including a huge spider near the entrance -- much less menacing than those of Louise Bourgeoisie.  The praying mantis -- a truly cannibalistic creature, actually looks friendly.

We try to go at this time in the spring.  Although the gardens are beautifully planted all year 'round, it is the rhodies for which it is most famous and they were truly spectacular.  We thought we had wandered over the entire area but we found a new meadow -- the one with the praying mantis.  And near it a maze we had never seen before which, at this time of year has many "wall" only partially grown. Rachel's venture into it proved that it would not be easy to find one's way out once it's entirely grown, some six feet high.  

Of course, we couldn't help thinking how much the grandchildren would enjoy these animals, the carousel in it's own building and the little tourist trolleys that make circuits of the gardens regularly.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Trash, a docoumentary film

Friday night I saw a documentary called Trash (or maybe Trashed). I believe there is also a similar documentary called Garbage.  This one covers a wide swath of the trash/garbage business, from the floating garbage in a gyre in the Pacific Ocean, to everyone's local recycling, trash/garbage removal (including our bad habits as a throw away society and the disgraceful planned obsolescence of many things we buy from cars to cell phones).

Land fills and other kinds of waste disposal are big business (as I knew years ago when I read about investing in waste companies). I was  most surprised and a bit shocked that in the State of Michigan, landfills are so  aggressive they have contracts with the city of Toronto to get rid of some 400 truck loads of garbage (I mean bit semitrucks, not local garbage trucks) of garbage a week (or was it a day?). Canada has far stricter landfill and waste disposal laws than does Michigan!!  And NAFTA encourages such cross border trade.

I was also familiar with the "freegan" movement in NYC where people go through garbage bags on the sidewalks of the city,  extract food food and use it (for themselves--there are strict laws about what food excesses, as from grocery stores and restaurants, can be donated to food kitchens and such). The freegans find all sorts of usable food, much in its original packaging, unopened, that has been thrown out.  I know this first hand from living in an apartment building where I often walked down seven fights of stairs  past the garbage  cans and bags where I saw whole jars or peanut butter (unopened), bags of rice, boxes of cereal, being thrown out.  Now and then I helped myself. The Freegans in the film were not homeless or jobless people, they were activists who sought publicity as they looked through garbage bags.

After the film local activists talked about Cape Cod's garbage disposal practices. I knew there is a daily "garbage train" that takes waste off Cape.  It goes to a plant that is somewhat behind the curve in disposal and recycling technology.  Plus there are movements to change bottle recycling laws and so forth.  This is a fairly enlightened place but several local garbage haulers have quite a bit of political clout when local recycling laws are being considered. Nothing is simple, of course.