This time of year I find myself doing a little cyber “spring cleaning”. I know, it’s not spring yet and I could simply busy an alcohol wipe on the keyboard or fog the monitor with Windex, but I’m talking about electronic purging here: files, emails, photos, and the like. I even reset passwords. When I’m done giving the Delete button a workout I pick up my laptop and hope for something more light-as-a-feather. Nope, but at least my digital house is in order for another year. Just like my blog.
The Winter Olympics start tomorrow, did’ja know? (You didn’t? Shame on you! Pay more attention!) With the fifteen-hour time difference to Colorado I’ll be lucky to catch ten percent of the action, but I still seek out the good stuff. Downhill skiing and figure skating are my favorites. So much skill and grace there, with the occasional feel-good story thrown in for the heartstrings. But skill and grace only matter if they amount to medals, right? We hang our hats on gold or silver triumphs, even bronze. As for the poor lass or lad in fourth place? Hardly a mention. Fourth place is swept harshly into the performance dustpan, to be dumped on a heap of lesser statistics seldom referenced again. Fourth place can be a mere hundredth of something from the medals podium. Inches. Seconds. Points.
Fourth place at the Olympics is an apt way to describe a lot of topics I consider for my weekly blog posts. You see, part of my writing madness method is to cull interesting bits from my daily newsfeed; fodder for future posts. I store these bits in an electronic folder and then pull back the curtain when I need a topic. But not just any topic, loyal readers. Heavens no, my topics don’t make the medal stand unless they successfully sift through five filters:
- Is the topic substantial enough for an entire post?
- Is the topic somewhat off the beaten path of “breaking news”?
- Is the topic worth a little more research (or as I like to call it, “continuing education”)?
- Is the topic an easy target for grins and giggles?
- Can I weave a personal memory or two into the topic’s fabric?
Take away just one filter and the topic isn’t a winner. No medal… er, post for you, little news story. Instead, the topic sits idle in the folder gathering cyber-dust until I decide it’s never going to make the cut. Then I “Delete”. Before I do this time, however, I thought you’d enjoy a smattering of the near misses; the fourth-place finishes if you will. Here are ten interesting-but-not-quite-good-enough topics sitting just off the podium:
- Asparagus. A recipe for the healthy, non-cruciferous vegetable was published smack dab in the middle of an official Belgian law database, side-by-side with national legislation and royal decrees. Food for thought?
- Mercury (the planet). A European-Japanese space probe passed within 124 miles of the Mercury’s 800°F surface on its seven-year mission, collecting images and sending them back to Earth. Now that’s what I call “hot shots”.
- Qantas. Last May the airline offered a “flight to nowhere” for travel-starved Australians wanting a better view of the late-month supermoon. Tickets ran upwards of $1,000 USD and sold out immediately. Travel-starved indeed.
- Cannabis. If you live in Ontario, Canada, Uber Eats will be happy to deliver an order of recreational cannabis to your front door. I’m sure this new service makes the country’s rampant illegal pot producers very happy.
- Robots. The world’s first living robots (or “xenobots”), each less than a millimeter wide, can now reproduce. They could already move about, work together, and self-heal before this more disturbing evolution. In a word, YIKES!
- Style. Billionaire heiress Ivy Getty got married last November at San Francisco’s City Hall in a wedding dress covered with mirror shards. She referred to her dress as “… just like everything I could’ve dreamed of and more.” Really? I don’t think I want to meet Ivy Getty.
- Taco Bell. The Bell now offers a monthly taco subscription for those who join their rewards program. $10 gets you a free taco every day of the month. The Bell saw a 20% increase in rewards program membership when they began offering the subscription. Confirmed: we Americans are hopelessly addicted to fast food.
- Bees. May 20th is World Bee Day. You can find a lot of interesting trivia about bees on the Web. They communicate by dancing. They use tools. They get mad if they haven’t eaten in a while. The more you learn about bees, the more you realize they’ll probably take over the world one day.
- Contact Lenses. A company has designed the first “smart” contact lens, capable of delivering real-time information to the eye. The lens connects to your smartphone and generates an image similar to what you’d see on your screen. So the next time you see someone with “eyes glazed over”, don’t be so sure they’re falling asleep.
- Millennium Tower – A 58-story building in downtown San Francisco has been leaning to the northwest at a rate of 3 inches per year, for a total of 24 inches so far. If I were one of the owners of the building’s 419 luxury apartments I wouldn’t be sleeping so well. I say get ahold of engineers in Pisa, Italy. Their world-famous leaning tower is predicted to remain standing for another 200 years.
Maybe one of these topics grabs your attention and you want to learn more. Go for it. In fact, write a blog post about it. I’ll read your version of the story and maybe say, “Crud; missed a good one there.” But probably not, because I didn’t consider the topic podium-worthy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the Olympics (fifteen hours after the fact). I don’t want to miss those medal ceremonies.
Lego Grand Piano – Update #3
Today’s portion of the concert was difficult (read about my hesitant warm-up in Let’s Make Music!). Bag #3 – of 21 bags of pieces – was smaller than the first two so I figured this step would go quickly. Wrong. Bag #3 contained tiny, tiny pieces and I don’t have nimble, nimble fingers!
The picture here is the “before Bag #3” while the picture below is the “after”. Notice the difference? There’s now a series of posts running upper left to lower right like a fence. I can make the posts move up and down with my finger. Inner workings of the piano keys!
Conductor’s Notes: I’m starting to get comfortable with leftover pieces. I’ve ended up with a few after each bag so far. Doesn’t mean I don’t go back and check my work to be sure I didn’t overlook a step. Also, I couldn’t find a piece today. I thought Lego forgot to put it in the box. Took me three scourings of my Bag #3 pile of pieces (and a little sweat) before I realized it was sitting there right in front of me. Utterly unnerving.