Fandango’s One Word Challenge (15 May 2020)

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), leverage.

MindLoveMisery Menagerie Music Challenge (15 May 2020)

I was reading through NewEpicAuthor’s prompt today and it conjured up images of a professonal musician, somebody who plays in a bar, maybe, to entertain the customers. Cocktail music, perhaps.

That image linked to Billy Joel‘s song, Piano Man. Uptown Girl charted when I was a teenager, which got me listening to his back catalog. Joel, of course, was an established artist by then and Piano Man had been released some ten years earlier. In fact it was his first single, which climbed to #4 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and #25 on the Hot 100. In it, Joel sings from the point of view of a bar pianist, which seemed apt today.

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes.”

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be

He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me.”
As a smile ran away from his face
“Well, I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place.”

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talking with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes they’re sharing a drink they call “Loneliness”
But it’s better than drinking alone

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see
To forget about life for a while

And the piano it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, “Man, what are you doing here?”

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright

written and performed by Billy Joel

More Veggie stuff (Fandango’s Friday Flashback)

Yay, it is Friday again, and Fandango has just published his Friday Flashback post. The idea is that he picks a post from this day in a previous year, to give newer readers a better insight into what does and doesn’t make him tick.

I have always liked that idea, so shall also post my own reminiscence. As much as anything, it reminds me of where I was, where I am now, and how far I have come. Hopefully, you will find it entertaining along the way.

Hahaha, I smiled when I found my Flashback post today, since it is just about a year since I became more conscious about cutting meat out of my diet.

I’m actually doing okay with it. I haven’t stopped completely but my intake has reduced a lot and I’ve kept it up. I still have a weakness for a pepperoni pizza or some beef-chilli nachos every now and again. I still eat fish, where it is caught sustainably. But I’m kinda used to it now, it’s not really a big deal.

I’m still convinced that my decision to go mainly plant-based will result in less CO2, but the difficult thing is to take a punt on how much. I’ve deliberately gone looking for information here, and found several sources on the web, all of which had a different slant. If you read our government’s literature, you wouldn’t think there was a problem. One of the offshoots of this virus is that although we pretty much stopped, our emissions did not, which makes me think that many of our emissions are made by things I know nothing, and can do nothing, about.

And I noticed that while the supermarket in recent years has phased out the use of single-use plastic bags, they were being used again when we got our delivery on Wednesday. So I am not exactly sold on just how much of a difference I’m actually making. But I keep doing it because I must be responsible for less CO2 now, right?

Mister Bump

Funnily enough, on the same subject as yesterday, I had my first interrogation yesterday about my reasons for deciding to be vegetarian. From one of my fellow-volunteer friends. I think I did ok, although it is not really an argument I had presented before, certainly not to other people. Obviously I’ve mulled these things over myself, and come to my conclusion.

This volunteer is the wife of a beef farmer, which probably gives a clue what view she has. “I just don’t think a lot of vegetarians think it through”, she said, “they become vegetarian in order to see lambs gambolling around the fields, where in fact these lambs are only there in the first place as part of somebody’s commercial venture”. And, “a lot of land that is grazed by sheep or cattle is unsuitable for farming crops instead”. Both of which, I can imagine, are perfectly true…

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Math 101

Did you ever see one of those trivial sums on Facebook, which looked so easy and yet you knew there must be some trick going on? Something like:

3 + 2 × 6 = ???

Well, you’re right.

Because we, in English, read from left to right. But in math, you don’t. In math, you work certain sums out before others, and not necessarily in the same order that they appear on the page. This is a standard mathematical idea, usually called the order of precedence, Wikipedia talks about it here. So, something like a × happens before a +, and so on. Working in computing I’ve come across this a lot, and the rules in full are pretty verbose, but the basic thing is that you perform some operations before others. Left or right matters less. It matters for some things, like ÷, but mostly, no.

So, if somebody presented me with a line of computer code which said,

3 + 2 × 6

the first thing, I would probably fail its review, because it is ambiguous. In fact, it should be written as

3 + (2 × 6)

which gives the exact same result, but by introducing the brackets, you make it obvious. It’s easier for the reader to see what is going on, and that has always been my #1 aim when reviewing computer code.

The bracket says perform me first, so you can see we are no longer in the realm of left-to-right.

Once you realise that, the answer is trivial.

3 + 2 × 6 = 3 + (2 × 6) = 15

Easy, huh? But not so easy as you might think. Even Microsoft’s own calculator (on my PC) gets the sum wrong, unless I help it out by adding the brackets.