Posts Tagged "music"

Technology: Size Matters (Here’s Why)

Dear Kid,

It’s a weird thing with technology. Size matters.

From the deep scientific study I’ve conducted, it seems that when a new technology is introduced it is medium sized. Then bells, whistles, frills, lights, buttons, and sequins are added (just kidding about the sequins) and the size grows. Bigger is better. Bigger means more horsepower, more features, and more testosterone needed to carry the device. Think boom boxes in the late 1900s. If your boom box was big enough to require its own zip code, it was big enough to generate sound waves that loosened building foundations throughout the country. That was good.

It may have been a plot by the Builders and Foundation Reinforcement Committee of America. It certainly wasn’t a musical improvement.

It seems that once technology reaches a certain size, it begins to shrink. Smaller is cooler. Smaller is more compact and petite. Smaller costs more so it must be better.

Then – because Newton said so – for every action there is an equal and opposite technological trend. So technology gets bigger again. Think TVs and cell phones.  This cycle is known as the apple-coaster even though it pre-dates The Steves. DearKidLoveMom.comThen – because Newton said so – for every action there is an equal and opposite technological trend. So technology gets bigger again. Think TVs and cell phones.

This cycle is known as the apple-coaster even though it pre-dates The Steves.

Speaker technology is busy riding the ‘coaster. Once upon a time, personal speakers the size of mountains were envied. Over the years, they’ve shrunk even as sound quality has improved.

Now it’s not only getting smaller, it has a voice.

You’ve probably heard of Amazon Echo. I hadn’t, but I’m not a trendy college student. Echo is a small, artificial intelligence speaker. With an artificially intelligent voice named Alexa.

Because not everyone in the universe has an Echo, Amazon is introducing a smaller (and by “smaller” they mean cheaper) version. The new one is slightly less slick than the original version, but you still get Alexa (just an Alexa who doesn’t listen as much as the original).

I’m waiting for an even smaller (and by “smaller” I mean cheaper) version. I figure I’ll be about ready for it when it’s the size of a fingernail. Of course, at that size I’ll lose it. So maybe not.

Love, Mom

Don’t forget to share You’ll feel better.

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Crayons to Computers Recognizes Volunteers and Vote Now

Dear Kid,

Yesterday was one of those unexpectedly wonderful days.

It was Crayons to Computers’ Annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration. (You would have enjoyed the appetizers and little dessert treats in addition to the rest of the program.) I hadn’t been down to C2C before and I was crazy impressed. The sheer quantity of supplies they have available for area teachers is beyond wonderful. But what’s even more impressive is how they’ve created such a warm, welcoming, fun environment for the teachers that “shop” there.

The program recognized the wonderful volunteers who have worked there for 5, 10, and 15 years. And this year they had a special category for Outstanding Youth Volunteers.

Said the program:

The Sycamore High School Crayons to Computers Club grew out of an idea that two students (then high school juniors) Hannah and Pi spearheaded in the fall of 2014. These entrepreneurial students developed a plan for the club, recruited an academic advisor, and then formally created their club at Sycamore High School. The club quickly grew to 52 members, making it larger than many of the more established clubs at the high school. During their first year, they focused on fundraising efforts, including “The Giant Crayon Fundraiser”, student raffles, and shared portions of concession sales from school athletic events. Along with providing financial donations, the club regularly volunteers and also donates school supplies.

The organizers said really nice things about our girls and the whole club. (Kvell, kvell.)

Congratulations to the Sycamore High School Crayons to Computers Club for being recognized as Outstanding Youth Volunteers!

The entertainment was provided by the New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir and they were outstanding.

New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir

Crayons to Computers is in the running for a $5,000 prize from Yelp Foundation. (And since they can turn every dollar donated into $10 worth of supplies, that’s a pretty big chunk of change.) You can vote daily from now through 12/15/15. If you are so moved, click here to vote. Don’t forget to ask your friends to vote too.

And remind your friends to read tomorrow. Or sign up for delivery. Think of it as a little present in your email box each day!

Love, Mom

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The Cricket In The Garage

Dear Kid,

There is a cricket in our garage.

It sings. Loudly. I don’t know if it’s male or female. I frequently can’t tell human gender just from voices so I have no shot whatsoever at distinguishing crickets.

Being the investigative reporter-type that I am (stop giggling), I sat down with the cricket to learn more.

Speaking on condition of anonymity (not a problem since we were never properly introduced), the garage cricket shared his/her/its perspectives on life, living, and the garage.

Me: Why the garage?
C: Opportunities for crickets are limited in our society, baby. We are an oppressed community. There is little to no policing of our neighborhoods or yards. Frogs, snakes, and large spiders are allowed to eat us without fear of recrimination.
Me: Wait, spiders?
C: Yes indeedee
Me: Ick. Ok, but why the garage?
C: How often can a cricket of my income level get a large one-bedroom in a gated community?
Me: Gated? Oh, you mean the garage door. Got it.
C: Plus it rarely rains in here and the meal plan is pretty good
Me: Meal plan?
C: You’d be amazed what wanders by…
Me: Say no more. Do you get a lot of, um, companionship in here?
C: Well, I do chirp exceptionally well
Me: TMI.
C: You asked
Me: True. Any chance we can get you to pitch in and help clean the garage?
C: Do pigs chirp?
Me: I take it you aren’t a cleaning sort of cricket. How do you plan to pay rent?
C: I’m releasing a new album later this year. Can I count on you for an order?
Me: Do dogs chirp?
C: Everyone’s a critic
Me: I prefer live concerts
C: Nice recovery. A little late, but nice
Me: Do you take requests?
C: Depends
Me: I request that you not keep us up at night
C: Sorry, baby. Nocturnal. All the best jazz musicians are
Me: You play jazz?
C: Well, more of a jazz/classical fusion
Me: At night
C: Nocturnal. Gotta follow Mother Nature
Me: How do you feel about the current use of the word “crickets” to mean silence?
C: Anyone who stops to listen to my symphonic melody is alright by me
Me: What are your thoughts about Jiminy Cricket?
C: Pretentious dude. Had a bad attack of conscious because he’s really a grasshopper
M: Grasshopper?
C: He’s green. Take a close look
Me: It’s not easy being green
C: Don’t mention frogs. Bad karma
Me: Thanks for talking with me today
C: Stop by any time
Me: You do remember this is my house, right?
C: Details, baby, details

Love, Mom


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Attack of the Earworms!

Dear Kid,

I went to the gym yesterday (no applause necessary). As I was stretching, a ballroom dance class was starting.

All good. Except the song they were playing (at decibel levels no ballroom class should ever have to endure) was “The Rainbow Connection” (Yup, the Muppet song) sung by Karen Carpenter (or a very good impersonator).

You’re not old enough to recognize Karen Carpenter’s name. She was a singer with a very sweet voice. Whoever was singing last night could have given the entire gym diabetes.

Which got me thinking about earworms.

Just so we’re clear, an earworm is a song that gets stuck in your head and (no matter how many eviction notices you serve) refuses to leave.

Earworms are almost never songs you love.

Earworms all had sad childhoods which causes them to act out to get attention.

Earworms always get attention.

EArworms doing the jitterbug (not really). DearKidLoveMom.comOne reason people get earworms is that they’ve heard the song recently and/or repeatedly. This is an obvious and boring reason.

Dreams can trigger earworms. I find this enormously interesting, but I can’t figure out how to change the earworm radio station.

Another earworm trigger is stress. Sometimes if you hear a song during a stressful time it will pop up at other stressful times. (This is not necessarily helpful.)

Music is (ahem) a “multi-sensory stimulus.” We not only hear music, we see video or movie clips, we remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the music, we might even know what the music looks like or how to play it.

Music is also tied to emotion. Play “Brian’s Song” for any of us Of A Certain Age and we’ll spontaneously burst into tears. (This is not necessarily helpful.)

Then there is the evolution thing. As a species, we need to remember things and it was much easier for the Neanderthals to remember all 50 states if they learned the “Fifty Nifty U-nited States” song the way I did in 7th grade. (Hey, don’t make fun. I can still list all 50 states in alphabetical order.)

To this day, medical students learn “the leg bone is connected to the (uh) knee bone.” When they examine patients, doctors are often singing those songs in their heads. It’s when they sing out loud that you really need to worry.

Hoping you avoid earworms today.

Love, Mom

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