Lazy Luddite Log


Gloria & Requiem

At the time this entry is date-stamped I wrote:

On Friday 18 May from 8pm the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) will perform both the Gloria by Vivaldi and the Requiem by Mozart. We will be performing with instrumentalists and the music will be awesome. The MonUCti are rehearsing like mad.

Ours will be the only function at the All Saints Anglican Church (across from Astor Cinema) that night so we will be spared the complications we suffered at Federation Square. Anyone who is interested in coming along to this moving performance can contact me to buy tickets.

Well I never managed to sell any tickets (due to some accidental clashes that night) but it hardly mattered as the group as a whole did a lot of work in promotions and sale and the church was practically full (I did do some letterboxing for the group so feel a bit better as a result of that). With such a big audience we would want to do well and we did. There were a few bodgy bits here-and-there but they were passing moments in what was an otherwise decent show. It was one of the few times I can remembering enjoying the experience in the very moment. In one movement I was smiling - the conducter was indicating that he wanted smiles but I was smiling anyway coz some of the experience of singing that stuff was thrilling.

I felt all in a buzz afterwards and evidently that was the vibe for many. The customary rendition of Laudate (sung back in the room allocated for choristers to rest) afterwards was most bombastic. And then the after-party in Caulfield - well - it was a blast. It had been a work day and as such my alarm had rung at 6:30am. And by the time I got home from the party and fell asleep I reckon it was 6:30am the next day! I am somewhat impressed that I can still pull 24-hours wakefulness like that. Sometimes we can surprise ourselves...



Emotional Supplements

I find it amazing how a song can alter or enhance ones current emotional state. A song can make one understand the life and experiences of others from all walks of life. One can experience love and hate, joy and sorrow, oppression and liberation. A song is like a dose of virtual reality taking you to another time and place.

It takes longer to become familar with the words of a song. Possibly it is my interest in instant gratification that made me once say that music was more important than lyrics (besides which I am something of a 'timbre junkie'). But with a familiar song both play an important and complimentary function in producing that virtual reality. I enjoy the odd instrumental. I even enjoy the odd bit of poetry. But I enjoy best that which brings the two together - a song.

Of course the voice is an instrument and the way in which it conveys words helps with the impact of those words. If the voice singing those words cracks with emotion then the words may be all the more effective. Other things that can contribute to the effect of the words may be a pause mid-phrase or the repetition of a particular word.

Some of the simplest songs can be the best. I love an epic musical excursion with esoteric lyrical content as much as the next nerd. But I have been very much enjoying some stuff lately characterised by basic music and transparent lyrics. So my housemates may have noticed a lot of Beatles and Supremes lately. What is it with the 60s? I listen to one of those songs and suddenly I am in love with whomever the writer or singer was in love with (even if just for the few minutes duration of that song).

I am into 'newer' music too. I recently got the Elvis Costello album 'Spike' (1989) and it is full of amazing storytelling and exploring of the human condition. Likewise I got 'Tragic Kingdom' (1995) by No Doubt and am taken on some kind of exploration of relationships from all sorts of vantages and perspectives.

Why is all the music I refer to old stuff? It may be that it just takes me a long time to accept something new so that by the time I do it has become old. But it is more than that. I have joked that my musical interests age faster than I do and a part of that may be an interest in the vibe evoked by music of other times. But I also want there to be some sense of familiarity which is possibly why most of what I am into is still from recent decades. And so I am connected to other fans of the same music across generations and lives as we all sing along with the same transcendent words and notes.

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Political Objectives Test Anniversary

The Political Objectives Test has been on-line for twelve months now and has been taken over 6000 times. In the next few days (more like weeks) I will do some 'number crunching' and present some observations on information collected to date. It will take a bit of writing but stay tuned...

Since having started writing this entry something has gone bung at OKCupid. Now my test will only give a catagory name result and omit the all-important description paragraphs. I cannot fix it and the site administrators themselves are slack in responding to my comments. This has prompted me to use Blogger to make a site on which I can put all text relating to the Political Objectives Test in one safe (fingers crossed) location. You can take a look at it here and once my number crunching is done I will post my 'findings' there...

Mover & Shaker

The test is now working fine once more. I had to re-enter all the text of questions and answers. I hit some button to submit the text and the OKCupid site somehow interpreted the test as a brand new one. So suddenly it is listed as a 'New User Test' thereby getting it renewed attention and this time it seems to be more popular. So much so that it also got listed as a 'Mover & Shaker' (in other words a test with rapid growth in visits) and suddenly my modest test has hit the 10,000 mark for times taken. I have even got some fan mail! Hehehe...

This is all very gratifying but I still need to do my number crunching on the old info I collected. The publication of my 'findings' is starting to look like some sort of government project - it will happen but well past due date and over budget (in the sense that I will have spent more on electricity and iced coffees in the time I take to do it).

It was finally completed and shared here.

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(Getting Into) The Ants Pants

I was excited a few evenings back as the very lay entomologist that I am. On warm evenings I sometimes notice winged ants but on this occasion I observed every variation of adult ant within a colony.

In warm conditions the fertile winged ants (both female and male) of a colony will emerge from the nest to embark on a mating flight. For the females it is (hopefully) the start of a life as a fertilised queen ant laying the eggs that will become a new colony. For the males it is - well - what they live and die for. Only some of the males manage to mate with a female and following that they perish (I suppose the exertion is just too much for them).

During the mating flight the whole nest goes wild. All the many sterile (technically female) worker ants clamber about at the entrances to the nest as the winged ants depart. And the particular species of ant I observed the other evening includes the 'soldier ant' variation of worker ant. Among all the many small normal worker ants I saw a few ants with somewhat larger bodies and markedly larger heads. The heads are bigger so as to accommodate much bigger mandibles. Also the heads tend to show a different colour, in this case red heads on black bodies. They look ridiculous.

Then I saw lots of winged ants of the female gender wandering among the workers and preparing to launch. They have the same proportions as a worker but they are something like three times as large (and have wings). If only I could also see some males that would make the experience complete. Then I looked skyward. There was a cloud of winged insects over the nest above me and the females were rising towards it. I then looked back to the ground a metre or so from the nest to see one winged female with two winged males on her. The winged males are a similar size to a worker but differently proportioned. I find the basic form of an ant rather aesthetic but the proportions of the winged males are different - frankly they are ugly and misshapen with tiny heads and humped thorax. One male was mating with the female while the other seemed to be crossing antennae with her. An accidental Hymenoptera Ménage A Trios? How exciting!

So I had seen every variation of adult ant within that colony except for the old queen in the nest. She would presumably be the same size as the other winged females but lack any wings. She would have consumed her own wings after her own mating flight once she had dug in since food would be scarce till her first hatchlings could go get her more. I expect very few of the females are fertilised and then survive a sufficient time to get a new colony happening. If they all succeeded the Earth would have been over-run by THEM long ago.