Monday, September 15, 2008

In Soviet Russia, Train Graffitis You

I love reading about what people do in a day, and I had a particularly interesting day today, so I thought I'd share some of what I did. Well, most of it is more things I talked about and read about, but there were a lot of connections and it was fun, and there were some themes that just kept coming back up over and over.

I was talking to Justina online early this afternoon, and showed her my blog post about playing guitar. She mentioned Guitar Hero and I said that I think playing Guitar Hero actually helped me on the real guitar, because it gets you used to that kind of hand coordination. She agreed and said she's had other friends say that, and then they get used to the real guitar and can't play guitar hero anymore. I mentioned I'd wondered if real guitarists, famous ones like Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen, were good at Guitar Hero and if, say, Michael Jackson is good at DDR. Justina said it'd be neat to get rock stars to play their own songs on Rock Band and imagined a fantasy band with Eddie Van Halen on guitar and Phil Collins on drums and stuff, all playing Rock Band together.

Thinking about famous guitarists made me remember I haven't read Brian May's blog in awhile. (Seriously, a rock star AND an astronomer, and he still takes time to blog! How awesome is that?) There's some great posts on there about the Large Hadron Collider (he even linked to the Large Hadron Rap), and a nice post about slugs and how it's cruel that people kill them just for a pretty garden. There's also a post where some Queen fan in Kharkov, Ukraine had painted some beautiful graffiti of Queen + Paul Rodgers, who played to a crowd of 350,000 there (I can't even comprehend a crowd that size), and then went on to play a show in Moscow. I showed the graffiti to Justina, and I don't remember where the conversation went from there, but we started talking about graffiti we've seen and how some is really beautiful and some is ugly.

Meanwhile I was planning my trip to Terry's house tomorrow and talking about driving six hours and how for me that's still the same state but for Justina (in England) six hours would be driving cross-country. Then we started trying to figure out the relative size of the UK vs. the US, because Justina said from Southampton to the very north of Scotland would be about a 15 hour drive. I know Spiffy drove 14 hours from New Jersey to here last fall, so I figured the UK is about the same length as most of the East Coast without Florida. I went looking for a map online that compared sizes of countries, and couldn't find one, but I did find this cartogram that compares populations of countries. I found out all of Australia has close to the same number of people as Florida. Justina was surprised the UK had so many people compared to the US considering how much bigger the US is, and I pointed out how we have a lot of large states with not many people per square mile. We were talking about how Americans have to keep getting on planes a lot to fly back and forth and see different relatives in different states. Justina said she'd rather spend a week on a train. We started talking about trains and I said I've never been on one, and we mostly get freight trains around here and you're just sitting there watching graffiti go by. So we were talking about graffiti again. Somewhere in there I also said "Americans use subways more, but they're not as nice as English trains I bet", and she laughed and said English trains aren't really that much nicer than subways.

Later Roni signed on and I was talking to both of them, and Roni is learning speech pathology so she was explaining some things about phonetics. I'd seen someone mention today was "El Grito" and I asked Roni if she knew what that was; she knew what the word grito meant (scream, yell or cry) but not what the day was. I looked it up; it's Mexican independence day. We started talking about connotations and how they don't translate well, because she had translated "grito" as scream but in el grito de independencia it means more like cry; the cry of independence. She mentioned how it's easier to learn sounds in other languages if you know about phonetics. I started trying to explain a German umlaut sound and couldn't do it, and she mentioned she had a link for a phonetic font at home so we can all download that and describe things in phonetics.

Later in the afternoon I noticed it was nice outside and not too hot, so Mama and I decided to take our dachshund, Frieda, outside to run around. We walked around with her and the cats for awhile, it was nice. When we came in I watched the Simpsons, and then an MTV Cribs special on VH1 Classic that was all "classic" rock stars. (I don't know how "classic" I'd call Sebastian Bach or Dee Snider, but the point was they're older, I guess.) After that I started looking for my cell phone charger because I wanted to go to bed early and pack in the morning, but I wanted to charge my phone first. Well, it took me AN HOUR to find the charger. I was freaking out thinking I'd have to drive five or six hours by myself without a phone. I finally gave up and sat down, and then remembered I'd been messing with Christmas lights in the area where I keep my charger, because I was putting up some white lights with my fall decorations. I checked the box where I'd put away some lights I wasn't using, and sure enough, my charger had gotten tangled up in them. I don't know HOW I thought of that, but thank god I did. Phone chargers don't work too well when they're buried in the bathroom closet.

By then I was wide awake, so I got up, took a bath and then listened to music for awhile. I was listening to "Rasputin" by Boney M, which is somewhere in my playlist in the sidebar, and thinking about making a playlist of Russia songs: Rasputin, and "Moskau" by Rammstein, "Back in the U.S.S.R." by The Beatles, and... what else? Then I remembered The Nutcracker, which is all Russian because Tchaikovsky was Russian, but there's also a song called the Russian Dance. So I put on the Nutcracker and listened to that while I packed.

Then I saw something on a blog about making putty or gloop or something, and that reminded me I'd seen Thinking Putty in a ThinkGeek catalog I have and was wondering what it was. So I looked that up, and read about the different properties of dilatant compounds.

I was talking to people on MSN when I was writing this, and I showed Tim the cartogram and told him about the population of Australia being the same as Florida, and he offered his version. I like it.

Also, I looked at Brian May's blog again while writing this, and saw that Richard Wright of Pink Floyd had died. That made me really sad, especially since I've only just become a fan of theirs and (embarassingly) didn't know anything about him yet. But everyone who's been in Pink Floyd is brilliant. RIP, Richard Wright.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting how trains, graffiti, and Russia came up several times today for different reasons. I can't even begin to try and put any of this stuff in subjects; there's geography and statistics and art and science and language and math and everything. And most of that, really, was sparked by talking about guitars and rock music. I guess that's a good example of one interest connecting to everything in the world :)

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