Autumnal start, drinking, poetry, Internety stuff

It’s usually white wine, or occasionally something with Jack Daniels, Kahuala, vodka, or rum.

Elizabeth asked, in response to Ask Roger Anything (and YOU still can):

Why do they call the Autumnal Equinox the beginning of Fall when it is already Fall? Likewise, the Winter Solstice isn’t the beginning of winter but well along into winter?

Why do “they” say anything? Why do they still use foot/pound? From Wikipedia: “Some cultures regard the autumnal equinox as mid-autumn, others with a longer lag treat it as the start of autumn. Meteorologists (and most of the temperate countries in the southern hemisphere) use a definition based on months, with autumn being September, October, and November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April, and May in the southern hemisphere.

“In North America, autumn is usually considered to start with the September equinox. In traditional East Asian solar term, autumn starts on or around 8 August and ends on about 7 November.”

The answer, therefore, is American exceptionalism. That said, I never liked the fact that holidays commemorating dead soldiers and workers essentially frame summer.

New York Erratic must actually be from New Jersey because there are a lot of questions:

When you drink, is it beer, cider, wine, or mixed drinks?

When I first started drinking, which was when I was 18 – it was legal then – I did a lot of trial and error. I started with mixed drinks, mostly the sweet ones like a Tom Collins, eventually discovering rum and Coke, and 7 (7-Up) and 7 (Seagram’s Seven). Also white wine, but red gave me raging headaches.

But I could never drink beer. I would go out with folks and they’d share a pitcher or two, while I was drinking something else, which was both isolating and more expensive.

Now, it’s usually white wine, or occasionally something with Jack Daniels, Kaluha, vodka, or rum. NOT beer, not vermouth, and not gin.

What are your favorite flavor and favorite smell?

Strawberry (my favorite ice cream, yogurt), and bread baking, respectively.

Do you remember something better when you hear it out loud or when you read it?

Definitely NOT hearing it, unless it’s learning music. Preferably both, such as hearing someone’s name while reading the nametag. People giving me instructions for a computer orally is almost useless; I may not get it visually, but at least I can read it again.

So what do you think is up with the whole “dual personality” of the Internet age? How many people do you think have alternate personas – or multiple personas – online? And what do you think that is doing for the culture?

I found out only recently that someone who has a pseudonym on the Times Union site, and comments on several blogs, is someone who apparently has known me for a long time. He’s much more a jerk than he was in real life; this COULD mean he’s turned into a jerk, OR it could mean that being behind the shield of anonymity has allowed him to become a jerk.

I essentially reposted an article about a Tulsa, OK website disallowing anonymous comments, and it generated a lot of comments, mostly negative. Fear of harassing and threatening e-mail, for instance. Conversely, one guy “decided some time ago to post comments on the TU as me. I’ll admit that it keeps any snark I might be tempted to exhibit under control. It keeps one more civil than one might be posting anonymously…a good thing IMO.”

How many people post anonymously? I have no idea. But, I’ve discovered it’s a long-standing virtue; see this article from 1995. There are about 2.7 billion people on the Internet. Some don’t care who knows what about them, and another group has concluded that the NSA already knows.

Is it why people seem ruder? Possible, but there are so many variables, it’s difficult to isolate. Maybe it’s the fault of twerking.

Is there an optimum level of technology?

No. That’s because whatever technology is created, someone can build upon it. That’s why, not incidentally, I oppose these expanded copyright laws that protect the copyright holder for life plus 75 years. The reason the Constitution says “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. (Article 1, Section Eight) was to allow for innovation, not to reward copyright holders for long periods.

Do you ever (or have you ever) written fiction or poetry?

Never fiction, although I did have, in my mind some years ago, a roman a clef about my previous church choir experience.

My girlfriend in the late 1970s/early 1980s was a poet. She went to poetry workshops, and I went with her sometimes, so eventually, I tried writing. I never found “my voice,” or whatever; I never “got” it.

The Zen of raking

In the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box from my office at work.

It’s practically a tradition; I rake leaves on Veterans Day, or shortly thereafter. Usually, some ill wind blows the bulk of the leaves off the huge oak in the back, and the maple tree, not to mention the Japanese maple, in the front.

It’s one of those activities that allow for creative thought. Musing about raking, or the alternatives to it, such as leaf blowers, for instance.

So I don’t mind raking, though my wife is much more thorough than I. She’ll leave one leaf per square meter, and I might leave a dozen. My law of diminishing returns cuts in sooner I guess. I DON’T LIKE stepping into a hidden pile of dog manure, though, since we don’t own a dog.

When I’m out there, I like to play music. I don’t want to get some headphones, though; I do that every day at work. I want to hear music blasting out of my boom box. OK, not blasting; I’m too socially appropriate to have music blaring outside at 10 a.m.

Not that I should have worried. The leaf blower that someone turned on ten houses away totally made my Aaron Copland CD inaudible.

I was on Facebook dissing leaf blowers when someone defended them as “fun.” I think my antipathy towards the machine is one part pollution aversion (it uses gas or electricity and it’s LOUD), but one part irritation about how people use them, blowing leaves into the street so that they become the responsibility of the municipality. I see that a LOT, and it really bugs me.

I think I’ll crank up my boom box all the way to five; well, maybe four and a half. I said to my wife that I was feeling like having a hamburger, a reference to the use of Hoe-Down from Rodeo by Copland as the theme for the long-running beef campaign; here is one example, and here’s another.

For some reason, the Daughter, who’s a great help with raking, asked me if I had ever been robbed. I was reminded that in the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box, identical to the one I was playing, from my office at work; I had purchased one for myself and one for Carol back in 1995. The thief was eventually caught because he was purloining a number of items from the building over time.

The really interesting thing was I had to testify before a grand jury to indicate that, no, I had not had given the defendant permission to “borrow” my boom box, and indeed did not know the defendant. Much to my surprise, a few months later, I received restitution for very nearly the full value of my loss from some court-related entity.

September Equinox ASK ROGER ANYTHING

Now this does allow for me to engage in obfuscation – “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” – but I can’t duck it altogether.

Just recently, I was musing what to call it when the daytime and the nighttime are the same lengths. Used to be that, in March, I would describe it as the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. In September, it would be reversed. But that meant too many words. Recently, though someone, I forget who, though I have a guess, suggested calling them the September equinox and the March equinox; brilliant in its simplicity! And it works as well for the June and December solstices as well.

Anyway, this is an occasion when I get REALLY lazy. I decide, “Hey, I write this thing every day; the LEAST my vast 😉 audience can do is help me along with the content once in a while.” It is not entirely selfish, either. If I ask you, and you respond, then I answer, I am giving the people what they want. It also gives my fellow bloggers the opportunity to retaliate for the nasty questions I ask them.

Here are the rules: you get to ask me (Roger) any old thing you want to. No boundaries, no limits. Moreover, I have to answer it, and I must do so honestly. Now this does allow for me to engage in obfuscation – “depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” – but I can’t duck it altogether. You may ask in the comment section or, if you’d rather, e-mail me. I will say that responses to e-mails of people who wish to remain anonymous will probably be murkier than those from people who own their requests.

I will begin replying next week. Here’s a recent example; yes, I promise I won’t take two months to reply.

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