My Kitty Wants to Bust Open the Bank to Feed Her Drug Habit

I have had the hardest time finding a normal toy for my cat, Bast, to play with. I have tried toys on springs, toys on elastics, colourful toys, toys designed to make noise, toys that roll or otherwise move easily and toys that I fancy I would like if I were a cat. But they do not work. The most played with one was the elastic toy that hung from the door jamb. But in the last year of that one, I didn’t see her playing with it once.

The most fun she has ever had with a toy is with a simple string. The problem is that I have to move it around enough to entice her. She won’t play one second longer after I drop it. But the point is I want her to have entertainments when I’m not around. So I want her to play by herself so if I’m ignoring her (I’m thinking about the month of November and NaNoWriMo) she still has a good quality of life.

She does have one toy that she will play with. Make that toys. Ever since that first time I opened an envelope with her on my lap and she pushed on the torn off envelope end and the other side rose, she’s loved envelope ends and they are her toy of choice. But even I sweep up occasionally and all her envelope ends become garbage. I feel for her as a week goes by and she has no envelope ends to play with. You see, sometimes it’s at least a week before I get a letter. It’s so bad that I will deliberately take envelopes I know are full of junk mail and open them at my table. Finally Bast gets a toy.

So yesterday I bought a toy. It’s a white something with gold ears that could be a mouse but looks more like a sheep. But it has a pouch into which I can put catnip and it seals up with velcro enabling me to freshen the catnip at will.

So I filled up the toy and drew Bast’s attention to it. She was more engaged with this toy than any toy I’d ever given her except envelope ends. But she did not fight with it right away. She looked at me and then looked at the toy, then at me again. I realized that I was sort of torturing her.

Every other time she has smelled catnip, I have just given her a pile. She has immediate access to her fix and thus sniffs, chews, rolls in it and claws at it (because I give her some on her scratching pad). These are all the acts of a drug using cat. Though I’m told that (possibly out of necessity) cats can snap right out of the high and react to things normally. But a house cat with nothing else to do, simply enjoys the high.

So my catnip using cat could only smell the catnip and not do anything else with it. But soon she began to fight back from the torture. She shook, chewed and otherwise fought the toy. It looks exactly like she has found a toy that she likes. But it could still be only torturing her.

Despite not getting any catnip from the toy, the toy has moved around my house every time I’ve left both last night and today. Maybe she will behave her way to playing with it. Maybe a bit of torture was necessary. That’s what I tell myself.

And this is the first toy I’ve had that I can “recharge”. Fresh catnip might lead to fresh playing. Time will tell if she accepts this toy.

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The Case for Fat Chords

A chord is comprised of at least 3 notes. Octaves of these notes don’t count as separate notes. So the maximum number of notes a chord can have is twelve. This is all the spacings in the octave. Since we like to play in a normal scale, chords usually only go up to the seven notes a scale is comprised of.

So called power chords are not chords because they are comprised of only two notes. The third note is an octave of the root note.

The major and minor chords are comprised of the minimum three notes. I define a fat chord as having 4 or more notes played at the same time.

I love fat chords. Some of my favourite bands like Yes and Led Zeppelin used fat chords all the time. In the late 70s backlash to these bands, punk rock and later styles of rock guitars rarely used fat chords. Since I enjoy fat chords I want the backlash to end once and for all. So I will try to embarrass punk rock and other musical styles that try to demand simplicity.

I’ve played guitar for decades and I’ve heard people, even those that like simplicity, say it sounds more like a real song when you sing notes that are not in the chord you are playing. I whole heartedly agree. If simplicity seeking people are playing only major and minor chords while singing more unique notes, then the whole act is hitting those fat chords.

So what of punk rock and heavy metal when they are using exclusively power chords? Well if there is unique note harmony going along with the unique note lead singing then they are also using fat chords.

If there is no harmony and just power chords, the bassist has to be watched carefully. If they hit unique notes then there is also a fat chord situation.

If the bassist is reigned in, it should be noted that drums can kind of be tuned and they can also add to the fat chord situation.

In my opinion, most guitarists eschewing the use of fat chords aren’t usually espousing a philosophical position, but are more likely showing their ignorance because they never learned fat chords.

Most music contains fat chords when you look at the act as a whole. My love of fat chords isn’t as weird as some have made themselves believe.

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Painting the International Space Station

I think Canada should offer to paint the International Space Station or ISS. But just any colour won’t do. I suggest we paint it the colour most unifying to all humans. The colour red should be used because we all bleed red.

Obviously we’d have to send a space walker out to do it. They could tape over all windows and sensors so those wouldn’t end up with paint on them. Then they could cover the solar panels with a mesh – like they use when painting a bus. So the solar panels would end up red but could also partially be used.

I’m not sure exactly how space paint would work. Do you need an atmosphere to dry the paint? Maybe you could spray paint particles of paint that are embedded in invisible glue. But wait, that requires drying, too. Perhaps we’ll have to research it. Regardless, some Canadian will paint the outside of the space station red.

Of course there would be celebratory pictures when the deed is done. Obviously the painter will take a selfie outside the space station with their smiling face visible through the faceplate and the International Space Station in its new red glory.

I think some of the best pictures could be taken from earth with telescopes. The space station in your favourite constellation, the space station darting across the Jovian system and more prominent than even its large moons, or what has recently been taken – this photo of the space station appearing in front of the white moon.

Just look at the picture and imagine the space station being a bright red. The two red bars on either side (really the red of the solar panels) and the white of the moon surrounding the red splotch of the station proper which is in the middle.

Why, why, … it would look like a Canada Flag as seen from far away!

We must do this. If our timing is correct we can have it finished not next Canada Day, but Canada Day 2017, when Canada turns 150 years old. What a pretty, patriotic picture we could make.

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Flattering Imitation

Imagine Mr. Grey’s delight when he hears little Tommy is following in his footsteps.

“Remember,” Ms. Grey asks him, “last week when we took little Tommy out to watch you dig that hole where a pool is going to be poured?”

“Of course, I remember. After I read Tommy his bedtime story, he said he wanted to dig holes with a backhoe just like me.”

“Well it wasn’t just words. Today Tommy spent a couple hours excavating a small hole, just like the big one, with his toy backhoe in the sandbox. Do you want to see his work?”

“Why yes,”said Mr. Grey and he followed Ms. Grey out to the back yard and to the sandbox. Mr. Grey saw the hole and realized that Tommy had shaped it just like the real thing. The backhoe stood at the one end, looking like it had just finished up.

Ms. Grey sounded happy. “I think he’s going to become a backhoe operator just like you.”

That is how the story goes with construction worker. But now let’s see how the story works with an actor’s family.

“Mr. Grey!” said Ms. Grey, greeting him with a kiss on the lips. “Guess what your son Tommy did today?” She had a great big smile on her face so Mr. Grey knew it was going to be good.

“Did he finish learning his alphabet today?”

“Better!”

“I can’t see what could possible be better.”

“He said his first lie today. Just like his old man, the actor, does.”

“I’d say that was great news, but I’m not sure I like the idea that he got caught.”

“Well he looked me straight in the eye at first. But the lie was kind of convoluted. At one point he looked down at his hands like an actor looking at the director and saying ‘line’. But he came back quickly and finished the story looking me straight in the eye again.”

Mr. Grey thumped his chest. “Well I am proud. But I hope as he grows he loses all tells so he can become a great actor.”

“I think it’s good either way.”

“But what can he do if has obvious tells? He can’t be a great actor. He’ll never get away with stuff in court so there goes lawyering and being a criminal.”

“He can still be a fiction writer.”

“There’s that.” Even being a great actor, Mr. Grey had let his disappointment seep through into his words. Profound emotions can betray almost anyone.

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Double Dipping?

For Canada Day (July 1) I attended a music festival with a small fireworks show in downtown Kitchener. The show featured Canadian acts, two of which I suspected were not Canadian acts. Those two bands were Treble Charger and Hollerado.

It was because of these two bands biggest hits that I suspected they were American. Those hits are American Psycho by Treble Charger and Americanarama by Hollerado. Besides the titles, Hollerado rhymes with Colorado and Americanarama mentions Philadelphia a bunch of times as well as mentioning New York.

But a quick check today on Wikipedia, revealed that both bands are Canadian. Treble Charger is from the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie and Hollerado is from Ottawa. So I have to ask myself what is with the American names?

Then I thought, what if they’re both double dipping, playing shows in Canada on July 1 and then maybe crossing the border and playing American shows on July 4, or Independence Day? What a sinister plan! To double dip while playing on the patriotic emotions of two countries.

Of course they might be using the word America in the Greater America sense. Indeed that reminds me of one of my pet peeves. The United States of America has usurped the use of America and American and uses it solely to represent itself. This is patently unfair to the rest of the Americas.

Treble Charger and Hollerado might be trying to unite the Americas by their choice of titles and lyrics. And Hollerado’s Americanarama includes Philadelphia and New York in its definition of America (really Greater America). What a bridge building definition.

And that pet peeve of mine? Now I have the word tools I’ve craved. I live in Greater America and am a Greater American.

So we Greater Americans, when at an international destination (or anywhere nationality comes up) can wait for the Yankees to identify themselves as American. Then we will identify ourselves as Greater Americans. The Yankee will try to trump this by saying, “Well actually I’m a greatest American.”

“We can say that, too, but actually it’s a biased term. Saying I’m a Greater American is unbiased and dispassionate. Greater America is both more populous and larger than America. These are facts. You are an American and I am a Greater American.”

If enough Yankees continue to lose this fight, perhaps they will willingly come up with a different name for their national identity.

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Number of Musicians and Time

In the 1800s, symphony orchestras were all the rage. Cities prided themselves if they had one of these musical groups and a large hall for them to play in. One of these orchestras could easily contain 80 members.

With so many members, you can treat the audience to the unique sound of violins playing chords. Usually violins are played one note at a time. And the most notes it is possible to play at the same time on a violin is two. Chords are defined as three or more notes played simultaneously. But if you have a group of violinists, say 4, 4 note chords are possible.

These orchestras had few quiet instruments, like an acoustic guitar, because they wanted to fill all of their giant halls with impactful music.

Jazz music had humble beginnings, but soon became a worthy successor in popularity to the symphony orchestra. Jazz was most popular in the first half of the twentieth century.

The halls that jazz played to were just as big and to fill it with sound they could get away with just a big band. The big bands of jazz usually ranged from 12 to 25 musicians. The key to getting by with fewer members was having the brass sections. The brass wind instruments are quite loud and the sound emanates through most of a great hall.

Brass chords were possible. You might have three trombone players and one bass trombone player. Here, again, you could present the public with a combined 4 note chord.

After the 1950s, rock music became the most popular genre. It wouldn’t have happened without the electrification and most importantly amplification of musical instruments. Amplification meant that huge sports arenas could now be filled with fans and all could hear the music.

Guitars and keyboards became the most popular chord instruments. At last you could hear them at loud volumes. The rock band was small, usually ranging between 3 and 5 members.

In the brief time we’ve had in this, the 21st century, performance DJs have come into their own. They may not be the most popular performers, yet, but in pockets they are. They make it their business to know how all manner of music machines works. Any or all of them might be used for a show. The crafty DJ might learn how to make pieces or songs with all their machinery. They don’t have to know how to play a traditional instrument to make a song.

There only needs to be one DJ at a show.

You might think this is the end of the progression of having fewer musicians. But you would be wrong. How do we get less than one musician? We simply use a fraction. Firstly, you could have a part time musician working with even fancier machines so the work is lessened further. Or a person with multiple personality disorder, where one of the personalities is a DJ.

The increasing utilization of machinery will continue unabated until we get to the point where the “talent” grunts. Then her machinery will write a song in a nanosecond, 10 complete shows in a microsecond, a lifetime’s worth of music in a millisecond and in a full second will write music for even our longest lived descendent’s life. And that is where I think music is headed.

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Father’s Day – the Longest Day of the Year*

This year, Father’s Day is actually the longest day of the year. But that’s not exactly what I meant. Perhaps if “Father’s Day” is said with an eye roll, then some people might get the title. And if “- The Longest Day of the Year” is said with a sigh, then everyone might get it.

It’s almost traditional for husbands to take wives out for dinner on Mother’s Day. After all, it’s her day and traditionally in this society she is often expected to cook. This gives a break for many mothers.

But guess what happens in many homes when it is Father’s Day? Mother, like usual is expected to cook, and because it is Father’s Day, she might have to cook an extra good meal for extra people. Now this is hardly fair.

Which is why those mothers or wives, girlfriends, husbands or boyfriends of the father might roll their eyes this year and say “Father’s Day – the longest day of the year – sigh.”

As for those of us with living fathers? We have little excuse to not do something with, or for, father. It is after all the longest day of the year. Unless we’re devious and plan something at night with dear old Dad. It is after all the shortest night of the year.

*This only applies in the northern hemisphere.

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Things I Would Have Loved to Know About Physics Before Making It My Major

What with the current glamourizing of physics with Cosmos and The Big Bang Theory (although some might say that sitcom deglamourizes physics), more and more people are probably looking into physics as a career choice. Decades ago I started down this same path so I’d like the curious of you to know a few things that your guidance counselor or university rep might never tell you.

1. When discussing freedom with a successful physicist they might liken it to school. Then they’ll have to go back 10 years from their most recent schooling to grade 11. In that wondrous year they had total freedom in selecting one (1) of their courses. So of coursed they panicked and took biology (yet another science).

2. Potential physicists will always cross any picket line to get to their schooling. After all, what else can fill up 16 hours in each and every day during the school year?

3. Physicists wish the slow people in high school made it to university, too. That way they would get everything explained to them at least twice. The main reason so many potential physicists fail in early university is because they never learned to ask questions themselves. This is of course because they never had to because everything in high school was always explained at least twice.

I’m sure many more hurdles remain in the physics career path that I failed to cover. For more information, speak with your friendly neighbourhood physicist. Or if that fails you, speak to your friendly neighbourhood Sheldon.

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Naming Dog Breeds After Location and Job

It’s popular amongst the many breeds of dog to name them after their geographic location they were first bred in or the job they were bred for. The German Shepherd is named after both. And throughout this post I intend to use that template for German Shepherds as well as other dogs.

The German Shepherd emigrated from Germany to the New World. In such a large disruption of a population they even shifted occupations. Ask any American to imagine a police dog. The vast majority will imagine the inaptly named German Shepherd. So I suggest a name change for this breed. They henceforth will be called American Police Dogs.

Those Labrador dogs are behind the times, too. In 1949, Labrador and Newfoundland were annexed by the country of Canada. And I can’t even imagine the roll of seeing eye dog or even helper dog being done by another breed. So I suggest these dogs should be called Canada Seeing Eye Dogs.

Then there is the name hound. What on Earth is that name supposed to represent? No, no, we can’t let this lie. Their job is that of the baying sniffer dog. It borders on silly to have working dogs like these being in the city. I suggest the name Rural Baying Sniffer Dogs for these breeds.

What is the adjective most used to describe a junk yard dog? Why “mean” of course. And what dog automatically pops into your head when you hear the word mean? You may be ashamed of it, but I know you thought of a Pitbull before any other type of mean dog. Of course the purpose of a mean dog at a junkyard is to guard the place. So I hereby dub the Pitbull to be the Junk Yard Guard Dog.

Then there is the Doberman Pinscher. These dogs are many times trained in groups to be attack/guard dogs. Who can afford such security? Why the rich of course. So I say we call these dogs Rich Attack Dogs.

I can hear you saying “Just wait a minute, you are talking big breeds of dogs. Surely you can see the small dogs as having jobs to do like being an early door bell.”

Look. If you want an early doorbell it is just as effective having a motion sensor. And its even better to have a camera for insurance purposes. The main job of small dogs is already much in use in the language. They are called Toy dogs for a reason. And in fact these dogs are ubiquitous thus there is no need to use a geographical marker. These dogs will remain Toy dogs.

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Are ‘Twenty One Pilots’ ‘Green Day’ Fan Boys?

On the surface the band Twenty One Pilots are light years different from pop punk Green Day. First of all Twenty One Pilots are a keyboard centric band as opposed to the guitar centred music of Green Day. (This is more an ’80s/’90s thing as Green Day features pianos on some songs and Twenty One Pilots gets as close to a guitar as to have mandolin on some songs.) GreenDay features no rap and has guitar solos. Twenty One Pilots rarely solo, even on keys, and is much more likely to have a rap verse in their songs.

Still the evidence of TOP being Green Day fan boys is of consequence.

Both are small bands. Green Day existed as three piece for the majority of their career. Only on the 2012 albums did they add a second guitarist. As I understand it TOP started out as a three piece but for their only two signed albums they are just a two piece band. Maybe both bands just would rather not get in the way of their fellow band mates.

The name Twenty One Pilots comes from an Arthur Miller play about a man that sold faulty airplane parts in World War II that cause the death of twenty – blah, blah, blah. We all really know that TOP was formed with that name at the end of 2009 a year noted for one of the best Green Day songs ever – Twenty-One Guns.

Of course TOP stole the number from this song and finding a noun to attach the number to was easy as everybody wants to be a pilot.

But the most convincing evidence of all came with the release of their current album, Blurry Face. Green Day has a habit of arranging their songs on the album in a way that leaves a high at the start, a slump in the second act and a high or climax at the end. I proved it with the graphs on this previous post.

So now let me graph Blurry Face with Increasing Pleasure versus Song Placement axes.

blurryface2ndactslump

The second act slump is rather obvious. I contend that TOP stole this idea from Green Day. And why not? It only seems to work on an album where most of the songs are quite likeable.

So it has been proved that Twenty One Pilots are Green Day fan boys.

Earlier I mentioned that Green Day was a pop punk band. There’s a label that some are trying to attach to TOP , I just don’t agree with it. Some call them schizophrenic pop because they are supposed to bridge genres. I disagree with this moniker. Schizophrenics are “split brained” in that part seems conscious while another part of their brain seems totally different or from the outside. Schizophrenics are unaware that their brains have multiple, thinking parts. Instead they ‘hear voices’. TOP are quite aware of their multi faceted music.

Perhaps they could be called kaleidoscope pop. In that when you spin it, something new pops out. I just want to have this name used before its time is up. Spinning music on CD or record is much rarer now than it used to be and might eventually disappear altogether.

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