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Our 9-year old desktop worked perfectly fine. But Microsoft, that nebulous collective entity that controls some esoteric but essential function deep within the innards of our computer, began posting on our screen ill-boding messages warning us that our Windows 8.1 version software was, in their techno-opinion, dreadfully passé, and if we knew what was good for us we'd get ourselves an upgrade to Windows 11, tout de suite.
And so it was that that my mate Tom and I found ourselves in the unenviable situation of needing to buy a new computer. Which left us in the even more unenviable situation of needing to make a trip to Best Buy.
"Do you think we should have Tommy or Randy to come with us?" asked Tom, referring to our son and nephew, both computer engineers, here helping me ice cupcakes.
"Nah," said I. "We can surely figure out how to buy a new computer."
I'd live to rue those words.
We arrived at Best Buy,
...then proceeded to the computer area where we alternately hung around and wandered around, trying to make ourselves as conspicuous as possible in hopes of catching the fancy of one of the of salesfolk - make that saleskids - congregating in clusters around the store.
Eventually a youngster who appeared to be just on the other side of puberty came over to us, and when we told him we wanted a desktop computer with, per my desire, a disc reader and portal for a memory card adapter, he glanced at his cell phone - I figured either to gather some product information or to to do a quick check of his social media status - then led us over to a row of tall box-shaped apparatuses.
Apparently these boxes are the actual computers, the screen - or monitor, in the lingo - now comprising a separate purchase,
Our sales youngster showed us this model, the HP tower Pavilion tp01-2234,
...which he assured us was a very good model, and then he gave us a fast-paced sales pitch covering gigabytes, drives, systems, specs, data, analogues, access, optics, mega-pixels, vectors, blue tooth, and whole lot of other relevant information, while I nodded, glassy-eyed, as if it weren't all just a bunch of techno-Greek to me.
"I see that this one does have a disc reader," I said when our kid paused a moment for a breath, "but how do you open the tray? I don't see a button anywhere."
The three of us, Tom, our sales kid, and I, then went on an investigation of this HP Pavilion tp01-2234, each of us checking all the sides and the back for a button to open the disc tray. We then took turns pressing on the oblong door of the tray, likewise without success. Our sales kid pulled out his cell phone to look for some guidance, but, finding none, he went off to look for human help.
He returned with an older and presumably wiser sales person, who did a repeat of our hunt for an "open" button, after which he pressed several times on the tray door just as we had. Then he came up with the answer.
"When you get it home and powered up, the tray door will open when you press on it."
Now, if we had been thinking clearly and astutely, Tom and I would have picked up that there was something fishy in this explanation. But I, for one, was so anxious to just get the computer and be done with it, that I swallowed the fishy explanation of this purported expert.
Our sales kid then went on to advise us on the purchase of a monitor screen and a keyboard, as, he informed us, the HP Pavilion tp01-2234 desktop did not come with a keyboard. However, he assured us, the items would be bundled, which, he explained, meant we'd get a discount on the whole purchase. Whatever, I thought.
So we bought our computer, keyboard and monitor, along with a year's worth of Microsoft Word and a two-year warranty, all bundled together.
Our first surprise came when we opened the box containing the computer and found that the HP Pavilion tp01-2234 in fact did include a keyboard and mouse,
...which meant that we'd have to return the separate keyboard that our sales kid had told us to buy.
Our second surprise came when we powered up the computer,
...and found that, press the disc reader tray door as we would, it still wouldn't open.
I consulted the internet but could find no information on how to open the disc door. While I was cogitating over this dilemma I received a call from my sister Romaine, another of the family's computer engineers.
I explained to her the problem we were having trying to open the disc reader tray door. She had an idea of wherein might lie the solution.
To be continued...
It was just a little over two months ago that I discovered the joy of playing the ukulele (see post from 5/9/2023, https://www.ailantha.com/blog/i-ukulelist).
Since then I've further discovered that here in Columbus, Ohio, ukulele players abound and there are a number of ukulele clubs and societies. I've joined a couple of these groups, including the Buckeye Ukulele Society,
...a friendly group of seasoned virtuoso ukulelists (except for me - I'm a lowly novice greenhorn, though I've been nonetheless warmly welcomed into the fold) who meet once a month to jam for two sublime hours.
Last Tuesday evening we Buckeye ukulelists were happily strumming and singing through our repertory, immersed in the sweet, bouyant music that can only be created by a room full of ukuleles. About halfway through our list of songs we came to one of the happiest, liveliest, most well-known, well-loved and accommodating of tunes, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." And as we strummed, sang, swayed and a-wim-o-weh'd along to the irresistible beat, I felt in the midst of our joyful noise the same pang of sadness that this song always triggers in me; because I can never hear "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" without thinking of the sadness of its origins.
Sometime in the 1930's a young Black South African man named Solomon Linda living in Johannesburg who could neither read nor write but possessed a gift for composing music, wrote a song about his childhood in Zulu country where his job was to chase the lions away from the herds of cattle. He called the song "Mbube," Zulu for "lion." and it consisted of several voices chanting "mbube" (pronounced EEM-boo-beh) over and over while above the chant a soloist alternated between singing for the lion to stop and vocalizing without words.
Solomon Linda and some of his friends had formed a singing group they called The Original Evening Birds, and, dressed in sharp pin stripe suits, they would sing Solomon's songs a cappella in the bars on the outskirts of town where Blacks were required to live and permitted to congregate.
The Evening Birds. Solomon Linda, first on the left.
In 1939 a promoter for the South African record company Gallo discovered The Evening Birds and made a recording of them singing "Mbube." The song took off, selling 100,00 copies in South Africa.
However at that time in South Africa Blacks lived under the oppression of Apartheid and their rights were not protected under the law. Gallo Studios paid Solomon Linda ten shillings - about 87 cents - for the rights to "Mbube." And as a bonus Solomon was given a job sweeping the floor and serving tea in the Gallo warehouse. There's no documentation of the other members of the Evening Birds receiving any compensation for the record.
In the 1950's Pete Seeger, the American folk singing icon who stood for justice and civil rights, was introduced to "Mbube" through a friend, and he recorded the song with his group, the Weavers. However Pete Seeger misheard "mbube" as "wimoweh," and so the song became "Wimoweh."
"Wimoweh" became a world wide hit, and when Pete Seeger sang the popular song live in concert he called it merely a song from South Africa. Over time "Wimoweh" made millions for those who followed Pete Seeger in recording, singing, and producing other versions of Solomon Linda's song.
Furthermore, the singing style Solomon Linda and his songbirds created in "Mbube" was being copied by other musicians in their songs and became a designated South African folk genre unto itself that was given the name "mbube."
Meanwhile Solomon, who should have been a rich man from all the money his song made, lived in abject poverty with his wife and eight children in Soweto, the notorious Black-designated Johannesburg slum in a dirt-floored shack where they survived on corn porridge and chicken feet. Two of his children died as babies of malnutrition.
In 1961 an American songwriter reworked "Wimoweh," playing with the melody, adding some English lyrics and changing the title to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The song was recorded by a teen group called "The Tokens."
And the rest is history.
Solomon Linda died of kidney failure at age 53 a year after "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was released. His wife could not afford a gravestone. It wasn't until 45 years after his death that his descendants won a lawsuit that awarded them a portion of the royalties to which Solomon Linda should have been entitled for his work.
Here's what I wonder: How did Solomon Linda feel all those times the when he heard his hit song playing on the radio, the song he wrote and for which he received neither attribution nor compensation? Did it torment him they way it would torment me, a writer, if my work was stolen from me and made hundreds of millions of dollars for others? Or was Solomon Linda entirely unaware that he was entitled to anything more than the 10 shillings he received for his music?
These are the questions that vex and sadden me whenever I hear that song.
A couple of Saturday evenings ago I and half a dozen other movie-goers had one of the Columbus Easton Town Center AMC theaters to ourselves for the five dollar special. Sadly, the movie we saw was "Chevalier."
I say "sadly," because "Chevalier" is such an enthralling, enlightening, wonderful film that it deserved a far better platform than a five dollar showing in a mostly empty theater. But I expect this was the case because apparently not many people have heard of the movie. Which maybe figures, since apparently neither have many people heard of the subject of the film, one of the great 18th Century classical composers, Joseph Bologne, also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was as famous as Mozart during his time. And who happened to be Black.
But while Mozart, Hayden, Gluck, Beethoven, C.P.E. Bach and other musical greats of that era are still well known to this day, Joseph Bologne is not. "Chevalier" tells the amazing story of this prodigious musician of color whose life and music were erased from history.
As related in the movie, Joseph Bologne was born a slave on a plantation in the Caribbean, the child of an 18-year-old enslaved girl and the French plantation owner who considered her his sexual property,
...as slave owners generally considered their slaves to be.
However, as a child Joseph showed a prodigious musical ability.
...and his French father, perhaps in an attempt to assuage his conscience and do right by the child, or perhaps to discreetly make this biracial child of his disappear, took Joseph to Paris - slavery being legal in the French colonies but outlawed in France - and enrolled him in an elite boarding school. Here Joseph was initially tormented,
...but nonetheless grew into not only a brilliant musician,
...but a champion swordsman,
...and after beating the reigning champion, was granted by Queen Marie-Antoinette the title of Chevalier de Saint-George.
But although Saint-George was an acclaimed composer and conductor,
...though he was a nobleman who travelled in the highest aristocratic circles and was an intimate friend of Marie-Antoinette,
...and although by law as soon as any person set foot in France they were free, still, there were certain basic rights accorded the white population that were denied a person of color such as Joseph Bologne, whatever his social status or station in life. Nor were rivals, competitors or envious individuals above using his race against him to bring themselves up by keeping him down.
Meanwhile seeds of unrest among the French population were blooming into a revolution,
...to which Joseph Bologne would awaken,
...anad adopt the struggle of the people as his own.
"Chevalier" was a visual treat of beautiful period scenes and costumes, and told a compelling story set to the sublime music of Chevalier de Saint-George.
And yet what struck me most about "Chevalier" was the fact that until I saw this movie Joseph Bologne didn't exist for me. In fact, I could hardly - can still hardly - wrap my head around the fact that a man who was such a great composer and figure of historical importance barely exists for anyone. It's almost as if there's a hole in history that nobody knew was there.
Still, I suppose it's better to have known great fame and have one's heroism celebrated during one's lifetime and then be forgotten after one's death - as happened with Joseph Bologne - than to have lived unknown and unacknowledged, only to have one's great accomplishments discovered and honored after one is no longer around to enjoy the recognition of one's life's work.
But after the death of Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-George in 1799 it obviously did not suit the purposes of the time, when black slavery was still in its ascendance in the British and French colonies and the young United States, to immortalize the genius and accomplishments of a man of color.
Funny how time works, though.
BTW, though "Chevalier" has likely left the big theater screen in most locations, it can now be found streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music, history, and/or a really good movie.
Poor Walt Nauta.
Born in Guam into a family where he was one of seven children, Waltine Torre Nauta joined the U.S. Navy in 2001 when he was 18 and was given the assignment of cook.
Petty Officer Walt Nauta in 2008.
Nauta rose through the ranks to Senior Chief Culinary Specialist and at the beginning of Donald Trump's term in office was transferred to the White House to become part of the Presidential Food Service. From there Walt Nauta was chosen for the honor of becoming one of the military valets to the President of the United States. Unfortunately for Nauta, the President he was chosen to serve was Donald Trump.
Petty Officer Nauta was given a specific assignment, which led him to become known as the "Diet Coke Valet." Apparently there was a call button that Donald Trump had installed on the Oval Office desk (and which Joe Biden had removed when he took office) that Trump used for calling for Diet Cokes.
A dozen times a day Trump would press his Diet Coke button, and soon thereafter Petty Officer Nauta, and Nauta alone, would deliver to him a glass of Diet Coke on a silver platter,
...because Nauta was the person Trump wanted to serve him when he called for his Diet Coke. And for this duty Petty Officer Walt Nauta was promoted in 2020 to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
Perhaps it was this quiet, meticulous, dedicated sailor's strong sense of duty and gift for following orders that made him the perfect prey for a predator like Donald Trump. In any case, Walt Nauta fell under that same black magic that Donald Trump weaves so well and has used to get others to do his dirty work and take falls for him (though most of them were hardly worth our sympathy);
...or to commit terrible crimes for him,
...or, most baffling, to still yearn and burn for him to return to the White House.
Whatever Trump's magic, Walt Nauta, too, fell under his spell. When Donald Trump left the White House Nauta resigned from the Navy to follow Trump as his personal aide whom Trump referred to as his Body Man,
...though in truth Donald Trump must have known that along with Walt Nauta's devotion and love,
...he would eventually acquire the man's soul in the bargain.
And he did. For the duty-bound Navy veteran with the stellar military record,
...went on to commit serious crimes at Donald Trump's behest. Walt Nauta hid stolen top secret government documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago palace, lied to FBI agents, and obstructed justice. All because Donald Trump asked him to.
Now, at 40 years old, Walt Nauta has been charged as Donald Trump's co-conspirator with six Federal crimes that could bring him up to a 90-year prison sentence.
And yet, when given the opportunity to lessen the charges against him by cooperating with the Justice Department in their case against Donald Trump, who faces 37 charges related to his theft of classified government documents, Nauta opted rather to stand by his man, dress like his man,
...and plead "not guilty" alongside his man.
When Donald Trump and Walt Nauta arrived at the Florida courthouse where a mug shot was required of Nauta but not of Trump, Trump, who arrived lawyered up to the teeth, entered his plea of "not guilty."
Walt Nauta, however, arrived in the court room without any local legal representation. The judge, therefore, gave him a few weeks to find himself a lawyer then return with his lawyer to enter his plea.
If Walt Nauta was thinking that Donald Trump was going to pay for his lawyer he'll most likely be disappointed,as Trump is notorious for not paying his own lawyers for their work.
Let's hope that Walt Nauta has some savings. And that selling his soul was worth it.
In an unprepossessing strip mall in the northwest area of Columbus, Ohio known as Linworth,
...there is an equally unprepossessing-looking establishment called the Blarney Stone Tavern,
...that one would take for a typically unprepossessing sports bar.
But if one happened into the Blarney Stone on a Sunday evening, as I did the Sunday before last, and stepped out onto the patio, as I also did, one would discover, I as happily did, one of Columbus's secret gems: the wonderful Irish band that plays on the Blarney Stone Tavern patio every Sunday evening from 6 to 9 pm.
Among the instruments represented in the band on this night were:
Fiddles and accordions,
...guitars, a hammer dulcimer,
...a banjo and an Irish bodhran drum,
...and the greek long-necked lyre known as a bouzuki, which nonetheless melded quite well the other instruments.
I was led to the Blarney Stone Sunday night Irish patio band by my friend Carol, who is one of the fiddlers, and a very excellent one, indeed.
And so I came with Tom, Theresa and Mayren to hear my friend and her fellow musicians play,
...joining the other folks who'd come to the patio to hear the music and have a drink and a bite to eat.
Sadly, so enthralled with the music was I that I forgot to take photos of our food. But Tom and I had the corned beef sandwich, which, in truth, was on the dry side and not as good as one would expect a corned beef sandwich in an Irish tavern to be. Mayren and Theresa, however, had the Shamrock Wrap, which was a wrap of crispy chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, cheese, and "shamrock sauce" and which they pronounced quite yummy. Having been proffered a taste, I agreed. The skinny fries served on the side of our sandwiches were also very good.
We got into a conversation with the two gentlemen sitting next to us, Gary and Ed,
...who informed us that they drive up from Springfield, which is about an hour west of Columbus, every Sunday evening just to hear the band. They said that some nights they were the only ones in the audience, but this night was the most crowded they'd ever seen the patio.
Mayhaps this secret gem is no secret anymore.
Anyway, if you'd like to join the audience on the Blaney Stone Tavern patio and listen to the Irish band, come on a Sunday evening when the weather is nice from 6 to 9 pm. There's no cover charge. In the meantime here's a little sample for your enjoyment:
Does it not make you feel like dancing?
TODAY 6/8/2023 IS THE LAST DAY TO GET IT FOR 99 CENTS!
"Tropical Depression" by Patti Liszkay
is 99 cents on Amazon Kindle thru 6/8/2023
Dear Future Cyberarchivist who, while sifting through ancient internet postings from bygone centuries in search of the history of humankind, has come across this blog chronicling the events and observations of life as it was near the end of the first quarter of the 21st Century AD:
On this day, Thursday June 8, 2023, wildfires are blazing across the country we of this age call Canada and these fires have already incinerated almost 10 million acres of forest,
...and made the air unhealthy to breath in parts of Canada,
...but even worse in parts of the United States of America, its neighbor to the south (and my and my native land), to where the prevailing wind currents have carried and deposited the soot-filled smoke.
Today New York City, the great American eastern coastal metropolis that is a densely-populated world center of culture and finance, has the worst, most health-hazardous air pollution on the planet, worse than this city has ever known. The populace has been warned to stay indoors if possible, with windows closed. Those who venture out must make their way through the dirty, acrid-smelling orange haze in which the city is blanketed.
Though New York is suffering the worst fallout from the Canadian wildfires, the smoke from the fires is blowing over two thousand miles down the east coast of the continent, from the Canadian state of Nova Scotia to the American state of North Carolina, and another thousand miles westward to the state of Minnesota.
I live in the city of Columbus in the Midwestern area of the United States, 500 miles to the west of New York. The air here has been hazy for the past few days, with the sun nonetheless making the effort to break dully through the haze.
My backyard today.
We here in Columbus have likewise been advised to stay indoors if possible, as an air quality of 121, while categorized as unhealthy for sensitive groups,
...is nonetheless far from a healthy 0-50 reading for anybody.
We haven't been told when the smoke from the Canadian wildfires will clear. Nobody seems to know. All the scientists seem to know at this point is that the heat and drought caused by climate change are the cause of these wild fires, the same conditions that caused the wildfires that are now burning all over the world, scorching away the earth's cooling forests, decimating our water supply and polluting the air we all must breath.
As of this day, we humans have already been suffering the consequences of climate change for years, not only in the form of fires, droughts and noxious air, but in monstrous storms and floods as well. And for just as long our scientists have been warning mankind that if serious action is not quickly taken the worst climate catastrophes are yet to come.
And yet, as of today, even in the midst of a massive fire and air pollution crisis, we humans have not been able to garner the collective will to save our planet and ourselves.
Which, of course, begs the question of you, Cyberarchivist of the future: Did we ever manage to?
Today 6/8/2023 Is The Last Day TO GET IT FOR 99 CENTS!
"Tropical Depression" by Patti Liszkay
will be 99 cents on Amazon Kindle today thru 6/8/2023
...Continued from yesterday:
In response to yesterday's blog on the subject of Japan setting up vending machines that will offer free food and drinks if an earthquake hits (see yesterday's post, https://www.ailantha.com/blog/a-lesson-from-japan), my sister Romaine posted a Facebook comment recounting the time during COVID that she left a bowl of Halloween candy on her porch and one group came by and took it all.
She wondered if, under such a circumstance as an earthquake, people would share the vending machine supplies.
I responded that the same thought had occurred to me, too. I said I'd run the question by my Facebook friend who lives in Japan.
The Facebook friend I was referring to is Diane Hawley Nagatomo, author of the upcoming novel "The Butterfly Café" (of which I was given a pre-release copy to read and which I highly recommend if you enjoy a sweet, heart-touching romance).
It was Diane who posted on Facebook the news article about the vending machines.
Anyway, here's what Diane had to say about the question of the vending machines and whether people would try to grab all the earthquake emergency food for themselves:
"One big difference about the vending machines--no one in Japan will vandalize them. Also, if there is an emergency, people will take turns getting the food and no one will try to grab it all. When the tsunami hit and people's belongings were all over the place, even cash (in safes, etc) was attempted to be returned to the owners (or likely, the owners' surviving families)."
She also added:
Vending machines in Japan sell all kinds of stuff, including meat. If you google around, you might find all kinds of weird things!
So I did google around, and I learned that Japanese vending machines do, in fact, sell all kinds of stuff,
...not only all kinds of food stuff (Burgers? Check. Ramen? Yep. Pizza? Sure. Dog-shaped cakes? Of course. Whale meat? Naturally), but non-food stuff as well, such as clothes, jewelry and personal products. Apparently vending machines are all over in Japan, millions of them, with one vending machine for about every 23 Japanese citizens.
And the vending machines in Japan aren't vandalized or broken. And if there's an earthquake and the vending machines pop open, people will share the free food and drinks.
Ah, the joys of living in a civilized country. It must be nice.
A few days ago one of my Facebook friends, Diane Hawley Nagatomo,
...a fellow writer from Japan and author of "The Butterfly Café," a sweet romance set in a tableau of Japanese culture and history that will be released on July 6, 2023, and to which I will gladly give a shout-out:
...anyway, a few days ago my friend shared this article on Facebook:
According to the article, as well as several other articles I subsequently found on the subject, Japan is in the process of setting up vending machines in earthquake-vulnerable areas of that country which in case of an earthquake will automatically unlock so that people will be able to take from them free food and drinks.
Apparently in Japan food and drink vending machines are popular and can be found on almost every street as well as in public spaces.
It happened that I read the article about Japan's emergency free food vending machines this past Friday, the same day that, after weeks of a debt-ceiling stand-off during which a self-dealing faction of the United States Congress threatened to tip our country and the rest of the world into financial catastrophe and worried the living daylights out of those of us who were paying attention, a bipartisan deal was finally reached just days before the U.S. government would have run out of funds and defaulted on all of our financial obligations.
One of the concessions demanded by the Republican-held House of Representatives in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling was the institution of a strict work requirement for those who seek government food assistance. So insistent were the Republicans on a law that the poor must work for food that they stood their ground and would have let the global economy crash and burn before giving in.
And so, with the economic doomsday clock ticking seconds away from midnight, President Biden conceded to their no- work-no-food demand and the impending financial crisis was averted.
Now, I know that the comparison isn't exact between Japan's plan to make sure no one goes hungry in an emergency and the United States' new policy to make sure that no one gets a mouthful of food that they don't deserve. And yet I can't help feeling that there's a lesson here about feeding the hungry that Japan could teach the United States, where Christians like to tout their country as a Christian country.
As it stands now, I can't imagine my country building vending machines that would distribute free food in case of a natural disaster. We'd be far more likely to set up machines that distribute free guns.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.