27 April 2011
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The Most Improbable Duet Ever

Vicki Sue and Me

Sometime last year I heard Turn the Beat Around on the radio.  This is no surprise.  Whenever I'm listening to a station playing in the background, this staple seems to pop up.  I'm not sure why no station I listen to deliberately has played it in decades.  I always liked the song even though it seems to fit only non-Richard formats.  But this particular playing reminded me that I had never heard any other song by Vicki Sue Robinson, and I looked her up in Wikipedia to find out about her career.  The answer, easily discovered, is that her death over a decade ago effectively halted it, unlike that of Elvis and, perhaps, Howard Cosell.

This led me to a bit of woolgathering and a brief story suitable for telling today, on the 11th anniversary of her death.  Back in the '70s, I was dating a woman whose sister was in Vicki Sue's band.  One day when they had a gig in the area, we went to see the band, and somehow I ended up driving the sisters and Vicki Sue somewhere.  (Missing memories:  Where we went, whose car it was, who else, if anyone, was with us, and why I ended up driving.)

I am not an accomplished singer.  My only skill is that I can tell when I'm off key, which is essentially whenever I try to string more than one note together.  Thus, you might assume that if I'm driving a car and one passenger just happens to be a performer with the number one song on the radio, I would stifle myself.  You would be almost correct.  Somehow, due to whatever cue or quirk, Vicki Sue and I discovered that we were both Tom Lehrer fans, and sang Poisoning Pigeons in the Park together.  I believe that when we were finished, we had the same number of passengers as when we started. 

CFLd Astray, LED Out of the Darkness

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes in the strangest places.  By example, you could have observed it many times in action at four o'clock in the morning in my bathroom.  That's because I was experimenting with the economical and dimmable CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)s in that location.  The bathroom lamps are on a dimmer circuit, and I thought it would be ever so green to use CFLs.  And it was, except for a common and well-known flaw:  They don't start up at full brightness.  Therefore, I would turn them on not when I needed light, but when I anticipated needing light.  Making a long story (8 hours or so) very short, I would often not realize I hadn't needed light until the following morning, thus leaving these low-power wonders on all night.  Compare and contrast:

  • Incandescent lights on for 10 minutes, consuming 100 Watts each:  33 Watt-hours total
  • CFL lights on for 8 hours, consuming 20 Watts each:  320 Watt-hours total

Message to self:  Find some LEDs, expensive as they are, and try them out.

Diffused LED "down light" replacement fixture Spot beam LED "down light" replacement fixture

This model has a diffuser and sheds a
rather pleasant light. 

In this model you can see the individual
high-brightness LEDs, which have
a more focused, brighter beam

Both models did the job and seemed to provide about the same amount of illumination, although the one on the right had a tighter beam.  They both had the same price ($50) and similar lifetime and lumen ratings.  With the LEDs, I quickly shed the habit of turning on the lights before I needed them, and reduced the power consumption from 33 Watt-hours to maybe one fifth of that.  I'm hopeful of living long enough to achieve payback. 

I happen to mention this now, not because it's the centennial of Herb Lumen's birth, but rather because I just happened to check at Home Depot today and the price of the lamps has declined from $50 to $30 over only a few months.  Incidentally, although not cheap, these are an enormous improvement over the ones I tried about two years ago.  LEDs are going to be BIG!

Gresham's Law of Bologna

A package of Oscar Mayer Beef Bologna with extra features For a brief explanation of Gresham's law, you could either read this blogitem, or perhaps try to find something authoritative.  If you want a living spreading spawning festering example,  consider this:  You can buy a package of Oscar Mayer Bologna, or you can purchase some from the deli counter whenever you're about to run out.  

If you do both, you have all you need for a paper in economics.

"Southdown Road"
The Paupers




When you look at one of my "NP:" songs, chances are it was recorded long ago with an Antex sound card.  It was expensive and complicated to use with DOS and a primitive version of Windows, as I recall.  Now the hardware is built in, but I have this shirt to remind me of the days of vinyl and turntables.

Antex Digital Audio T-Shirt:  "Never Lose Sight of Sound"
Richard Factor

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