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Encore for Eliot’s Prufrock June 14, 2009

Posted by mirl in books, literature, poetry, reading, T. S. Eliot.
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Because I really like it.  And I'm pretty sure that T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is a favorite of many.  (It is a longish poem, so I just gave a link, instead of copying the entire text here.  Reading it in its entirety is highly recommended.)  The poem is from the collection "Prufrock and Other Observations" published in 1917—the entire collection is amazing.  I never seem to tire of re-reading this poem, and every time I do, there is a different set of lines which evokes an intense visceral reaction from me while I recognize the truth in those lines, while at the same time experiencing utmost pleasure at the way the unhappy truth is said.  Behold:

  For I have known them all already, known them all:--
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

  And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,  
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?  
  And how should I presume?

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Marconi Calling June 13, 2009

Posted by mirl in Favorite Sites, ham radio.
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Up until a few years ago, the FCC still required code (as in the International Morse Code) for a ham license.  So when I was trying to get my first ham license a few years ago, I had to learn code and take an aural exam, apart from a written one.  It was not easy (because of the code part) but I did manage to pass both the code and written parts of the test and get my license.  (They say that learning code is easy for those who are musically talented, which makes sense, but I am not one of those.  Still, the ability to send and receive code at more than a snail's pace is a specialized skill which requires patience and practice.)

After that experience, I got fascinated by, among other things, the art of morse code—the required skills, the equipment, the history.  This fascination naturally led me to Guglielmo Marconi, mister wireless radio himself, and the excellent website, MarconiCalling.  Which is, after all that babbling, the real reason for this post.  I was immediately blown away by this website.  MarconiCalling is a rich resource about Guglielmo Marconi and the history and influence of wireless radio.  It includes interactive exhibits and a very accessible archive of the Marconi collection, including photographs, sound clips, newspaper articles, and other historically relevant materials.

My favorite exhibit has to be the wireless messages relating to the Titanic.  It gives a pretty good timeline of the events relating to the disaster.  It's really fascinating.  The image below is a 'CQD' message sent by the Titanic and received by the Celtic.  It reads:

'CQD require assistance position 41.46 n 50.14 w struck iceberg

MarconiCalling.  Check it out.

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Engage June 12, 2009

Posted by mirl in Star Trek.
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Jean-Luc Picard

Well it’s what he would say, isn’t it? No, I don’t quite meet the high standards of a Trekkie, but I do love Star Trek. The Original Series and The Next Generation were especially good and are my favorites. I also like Voyager. Well, why wouldn’t I, with it’s very capable female ship’s captain who sounds like Katharine Hepburn? I really should get those DVD sets which I’ve been eyeing for a while—it’ll be really fun to go through the episodes. And get some Hepburn movies, too, while I’m at it.

Well, I really just wanted to kick off the blog, so there it is. Let us boldly go.