Tuvalu #atozchallenge

Well, how about that? We’ve made it to the last week of the 2017 A to Z Challenge! Hope you’re ready for seven straight days of posting.

TUVALU


Tuvalu. By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, Virginia, there is a Tuvalu. It’s an archipelago in the South Pacific roughly halfway between Australia and Hawai’i that used to be called the Ellice Islands, when they were a colony of the United Kingdom. At that time, they were lumped in with the Gilbert Islands, which are now the country of Kiribati.

You can read all about Tuvalu here at your leisure; there’s quite a lot about it, and there are links to even more information and articles about the place. About 10,000 people live there, and they don’t get many visitors. Makes sense; there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot there and, judging from the map, it’s pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. Which, I’m sure, makes it very attractive to some.

Ever had the desire to go to Tuvalu? Had you even heard of it before now?

Statement #atozchallenge

STATEMENT

Here’s one of those words that has a bunch of meanings. The simplest definition is that it’s “something that’s stated,” like “I am eating a cookie” or “I like cookies.” We learned in English class that a statement is one type of sentence, the others being a question, an exclamation, and a command. At least those are the ones I can remember; there are probably others. Or maybe I just made all that up.

You also get a statement from the bank every month, as well as the credit card companies and everyone you owe money to, like the gas company. It’s a document that tells you how much money you have, or how much you owe. For years, the post office used to process millions of pieces of mail, most of which were statements of one kind or another. Most people now get their statements online, which is a good thing: it saves money for the bank or company mailing out the statements, and it prevents people from going into your mailbox and taking the statement out and using the information to clean out your bank account or take out an auto loan for a BMW Nazca M12, which this article says costs almost $650,000 (US).

Speaking of the BMW Nazca M12, it’s what some people say is a statement car. A car that makes a statement. I honestly wonder what statement a person who buys one of them is trying to make. There’s a joke that compares a BMW to a porcupine, which I won’t tell unless someone asks me in a comment.

We used to have a cartoon on the door of one of the rooms in our apartment, where a couple is sitting in their run-down living room, and the man says “They say each room should make a statement. This one’s must be ‘KA-BOOM!'”

And let’s not forget the use of statements in writing computer programs. I spent years writing programs in COBOL that had statements like this:

MOVE 'N' TO END-OF-FILE.

If this seems to have gone off in all different directions, remember: it’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Rumpus #atozchallenge

RUMPUS


Cover of Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (source: Wikipedia, Fair Use)

I was seven when this book came out. I remember someone brought it for my brothers, who were four and five at the time. One line from the book stands out above all the others.

We have a cat named Max, and he enjoys causing trouble for the rest of the gang. We end up yelling at him and throwing things at him (paperbacks, mostly) which makes it stop, at least temporarily. It’s been worse since we lost Milton a few weeks ago. I think he’s lonely; he and Milton were best buddies. Anyway, when he gets started, we say the line from Where The Wild Things Are.


Max (center) about twelve years ago, with his sister Minnie (right, curled up beside him) and his buddy Milton (left)

He can be a little wild, but he’s also quite affectionate. He’s the only one who lets us scratch his belly.

Remember when people had “rumpus rooms”? I guess they’re called “family rooms” today, but they were basically a room (more often than not in the basement) where you would send the kids when they were getting a little wild, so they wouldn’t break anything. I tried to find pictures of rumpus rooms and instead found a restaurant in Milwaukee called The Rumpus Room. Looks like a nice place, but too many things would get broken if you treated it like an actual rumpus room. They’d probably ask you to leave.

Did you have a rumpus room when you were a kid? How about now? Have you ever read Where The Wild Things Are? What did you think?

Quaver #atozchallenge

We ended yesterday with music, today is all about music, and a little bit of math.

QUAVER


Quavers (eighth notes) and quaver rest. By DoktorMandrake (Eighth_notes_and_rest.png) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When I started playing guitar, my teacher made an attempt at teaching me to read music. One of the first thing I had to learn was the notes and what each shape signified. I learned that a whole note was equivalent to two half notes, a half note was equivalent to two quarter notes, a quarter note was equivalent to two eighth notes, and an eighth note was equivalent to two sixteenth notes.

It wasn’t long before I realized that it was just as easy to listen to the song on the record and pick it up from there, which would have been easy, except Mel Bay’s Modern Method for Guitar (books 1 through 6) didn’t come with records, at least not in 1967, so I was basically shooting in the dark as far as reading “Etude #1” and “The Volga Boatman.” I knew what the notes were, I knew what tones they represented on the staff, blah blah blah, but I had no idea how to make them sound like they were supposed to. Finally I said “screw this noise” and taught myself by ear.


Logan’s Tutor (source: Amazon.com)

Ten years later, I decided to take up the bagpipes, and got a copy of Logan’s Tutor, edited at the time by Pipe Major John MacLellan, at the time the principal of the Army School of Piping. This came with a tape of PM MacLellan reading through the material and demonstrating it on the practice chanter. All fantastic, except both the book and MacLellan used English terminology for the note values. I was now told that a semi-breve was the equivalent of two minims, a minim was the equivalent of two crotchets, a crotchet was the equivalent of two quavers, a quaver was the equivalent of two semiquavers, and a semiquaver was the equivalent of two demisemiquavers. Now, I was smart enough to know that it was the same whole note-half note stuff I already knew, but whenever MacLellan used the English names, I had to flip back to the page that explained each one.

Anyway, a quaver is an eighth note, then it gets cool: a semiquaver is a 16th note, a demisemiquaver is a 32nd note, a hemidemisemiquaver is a 64th note, then you tack on a “hemi,” “demi,” and “semi” for each successive power of 2 (e.g. semihemidemisemiquaver, demisemihemidemisemiquaver, etc.). In pipe music, grace notes and patterns (e.g. taorluaths, leumluaths, and crunluaths) are written as 32nd notes. In practical terms, people don’t generally use anything shorter than a sixteenth (or semiquaver), and if they do, they deserve all the grief they get for it.

Back in my piping days, I met a guy who had been a piper in one of the Scottish regiments, and he told this story. One day, Gordon (probably not his name) was helping the person who was trying very hard to teach a large group of slow-footed young Highland laddies how to do the Highland fling for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. After a while, he started playing the decidedly non-Scottish “Pop Goes The Weasel” for them to dance to. PM MacLellan heard this, and had Gordon thrown in the stockade for it. He got out when his commanding officer said, “hey, MacLellan isn’t your boss” and had him released. I don’t think he went back to playing “Pop Goes The Weasel,” though.

I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this as I had writing it.

PDQ #atozchallenge

All right, so I admit it: occasionally my theme stumped me. Those are times when you have to use two words, abbreviations, or proper names to get it to work. And here is one of those cases.

PDQ

PDQ (pronounced “pee dee cue”) is an abbreviation for “pretty damn quick” or “pretty darn quick,” depending on your attitude toward mild profanity. You see it used a lot in company names, such as PDQ Printing, that did offset printing pretty damn quick. (Remember offset printing? There used to be a lot of places that did it, until Adobe Acrobat and laser/inkjet printers got cheap. Great for big jobs, though.)

PDQ was also the name of a drink mix made by your friends at Ovaltine.


An ad for PDQ drink mix, which was running a promotion with Mattel that promised an entire fleet of Hot Wheels cars and trucks for $1 plus the inner lining of a jar of PDQ. Ran in newspapers March 12, 1972 (source: eBay)

PDQ was like Ovaltine in that it came in chocolate crystals, but unlike Ovaltine didn’t have malt or egg in it and actually tasted good. Plus, PDQ came in strawberry and egg nog flavors. You could stir it into milk or sprinkle it on ice cream. It was popular during the Sixties and Seventies, then faded from view.

PDQ was the sponsor of a syndicated game show called, of all things, PDQ, with Dennis James as the host. Here is the pilot episode, if you have thirty minutes to spare.

For those of you who like their classical music mixed with a little humor, PDQ is the last, and certainly least, son of Johann Sebastian Bach.


PDQ Bach. Source: Stanton Music

PDQ Bach is the creation of composer, music educator, and parodist Peter Schickele, who often add the honorarium “Professor” to his name. He has recorded numerous albums of music he claims to have been written by PDQ. Here is the “Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle, and Balloons,” S. 66.

Questions: Are you an Ovaltine fan? Ever had PDQ? Like game shows? What did you think of PDQ Bach?