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my all-time favorite fan-produced video!

March 31, 2017

Just a reminder that there is still goodness, beauty, innocent humor, and great music in the world.

boise photowalk: 3/26/17

March 26, 2017

This photowalk was not planned. I was driving home from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and passed through what is my favorite intersection in the city.. Latah St. and Emerald St./ Americana Blvd.

Heading east, Emerald Street dips down and becomes Americana Blvd. for a short stretch before being re-named 15h St. once the road travels into downtown. This road, as it winds through Boise and the adjoining city of Meridian, on Boise’s western border, has 5 names. It begins on the west end of Meridian, and ends in the Boise foothills outside the east end of town.

I’ve been meaning to walk the Emerald/Latah intersection for years. I have been to a large cemetery, called Morris Hill Cemetery, nearby for two photowalks in the past, also have walked through the parks on both sides of Americana Blvd. Kathryn Albertson Park to the north, and Ann Morrison Park to the south), but had never wandered around the other areas of the intersection.

Since I wasn’t planning on a photo walk (I was thinking of going to a music store after church, but it was closed..and good thing too, otherwise I wouldn’t have these pictures), I didn’t bring my camera with me.

However, less than three weeks ago, I finally purchased my first smartphone, an iPhone 5s, which came out in 2o13, but is still being sold today.

The resolution on this phone isn’t nearly as good as my 5 year old camera, but it’s certainly good enough.

The church is on Latah (pronounced “lay-tah”), and I was making a left turn from Latah onto Emerald, and looking toward the east while waiting to make my turn. The light was beautiful!  Far too beautiful not to take any pictures.

I made a u-turn on Emerald, headed back, turned right on Latah, another u-turn, and up just aways to what I thought would be a parking lot near a large, nondescript building, but which turned out to be a beautiful street called Crescent Rim Dr.that had previously been somewhat of a mystery to me. I’d been on it before, but couldn’t recall where it started and ended. I was very pleased to find out!

I took some of the photos while I was walking along Crescent Rim Dr., and some are from various places just below that street, across where Emerald becomes Americana Blvd.

These photos are not enhanced.

View of part of downtown, from Crescent Rim Dr.

downtown boise, crescent rim, Tom Meninga

 

Americana Blvd.

americana blvd. 3.26.17, Tom Meninga

 

I crossed Americana, and followed a little walkway where it dipped down a bit. I turned toward downtown for this shot.

IMG_0079

View from Crescent Rim Dr.  Part of Ann Morrison Park in the foreground. In the background are the Boise foothills, and the mesa that is called Table Rock.

ann morrison, table rock, Tom Meninga, 3/26/17

 

View from Crescent Rim.. more of Ann Morrison Park and the foothills.

ann morrison, foothills, Tom Meninga, 3/26/17

 

 

Crescent Rim Dr. in my rear-view mirror.

crescent rim dr., boise,mirror, Tom Meninga, 3/26/17

 

 

Boise is a very photogenic city.

Photos by Tom Meninga. © 2017.

a cellphone, a dog, and walk in the neighborhood.

March 22, 2017

I don’t usually write this much in a photo post.. the text below is about the cell phone I bought, and cell phone carriers.. if you don’t want to read that stuff, just scroll down to see the pictures. You might want to read what I’ve written if you’ve been a Verizon customer for a long time, or if you are shopping for an inexpensive phone. I’m writing about cell phones because..

Two weeks ago, I finally bought a smartphone. Took me awhile. Our family switched phone carriers because Verizon recently did something really sneaky.. and just plain wrong.

We learned that the oldest of the unlimited Verizon data plans were phased out, without customers on these plans being notified. Verizon put these customers on a limited data plan, and sent out messages saying, “you have almost reached your data limit.” Very mysterious message to receive if you’d earlier signed up for an unlimited plan.

While we were with Verizon, for many years, I used (or rather mostly didn’t) a very primitive phone. No touch screen, no efficient internet service. I got a new phone because we left Verizon and signed up with another carrier.

After a family meeting, we switched to Cricket.. a second tier cheapie phone service carrier owned by AT&T. Cricket service is on a secondary AT&T network, which equals less coverage area, possibly slower service, and one’s cell phone battery running down a little quicker because the phone has to strain to communicate with the weaker Cricket signal. Here at home in Northwest Boise, in the middle of an urban area, I’m only getting 2 out of 5 bars, and sometimes only one. This means the phone has to try harder to pick up the service, and that wears down the battery life a little. Bummer. I just learned this today.

On the positive side, the Cricket phone plan is a lot cheaper than some other services, so that’s something. I hope the affordable price will be worth a lesser quality of cell phone service. I won’t know how much lesser quality service for awhile, since I’ve only been on the Cricket plan for two weeks. I hope things go well.

I received a cheapie Samsung phone for free when signing up, but decided to pay $150 for a new iPhone 5s (which came out in 2013)… perhaps the oldest model that is still possible to purchase new. I just missed by three days the Cricket sale during which this phone was $100. Oh well. According to people on youtube and the apple store guy I talked with, $150 is a good price for this phone, and it won’t be obsolete for at least two years.

If you want to know if it is a good idea to buy an iPhone 5s for $150, here is a video for you..

 

The phone is a lot smaller than most Android phones, and somewhat more difficult, at least at first, to type on. Also, since the screen is so small, gameplay isn’t exactly great.I think I’ll mostly stick to my iPad when wanting to pay Plants Vs. Zombies 2, or Skyforce Reloaded. It’s really hard to see all the details on this phone.

The main reason I wanted a smart phone was not to have yet another device on which to play games. No, I wanted a tiny but decent camera I could fit in my pocket, and have the bonus of being able to make calls, send texts, listen to music and surf the internet on the same device. But the camera is most important to me.

Here’s my phone with a Thule Atmos 3x case. These cases are getting harder to find now, since this model of phone is old and debuted in 2013, and not as many cases are made for it (you can still find a huge variety of cases for this phone online, but almost none in stores).

I found a good deal ($14.99 and free shipping) on ebay. I bought this case because of some impressive reviews and drop test videos on youtube.

It is REALLY hard to get the phone in and out of this case!

Nice thing about the case is it is very slim. One not so nice thing is it can be difficult or even impossible to plug in non-apple headphones/earbuds into the phone, because of the case.

I haven’t dropped the phone yet (and certainly don’t plan to) so I can’t comment on how effective this case is at preventing damage to the phone, but just below the two photos of the phone with case is a drop test video made by one of those super-techno geeks on youtube (not me. I am NOT a techie).

iphone 5s, thule atmos x3 case, picture 1, 2017

Thule Atmos X3 Iphone 5s case, photo II, 2017

Gosh I hope these drop test videos are legitimate. The guy I spoke with at the Apple store today said these are rather good cases.. and Apple doesn’t sell these at the store as far as I know.. so that’s something.

I previously tried a Tech 21 EVO tactical case. It is more rubbery, and easier to put the phone in and remove, but the back of the case had a texture similar to sandpaper, and I didn’t like that. I will be returning that case to Amazon.  The Thule case is slimmer, and feels more comfortable. You’ll have better luck plugging in non-Apple headphones using the Tech 21 case though.

Should I use a tempered glass screen protector?

I asked the Apple store guy if he recommended using one of these screen protectors. He said some people use them, but he doesn’t. He says they do help prevent scratches, but do not protect the screen from impact damage. He says if you carry nuts and bolts or other metal objects, even keys, in your pocket, then a screen protector is a good idea.

I read a LOT about screen protectors in the past hour or so since I first published this post. Much debate over whether or not they help, but it seems more people believe in them than do not. I’ve put one on mine. At first it seemed the touch sensitivity was more than a bit diminished, but now, working well enough.

And, I don’t have to worry about putting my phone in the same little satchel in which I put my keys and lock for my gym locker. Ok then, a little added security.. that’s worth $8.

 

Something important worth mentioning regarding screen protectors.. all those videos that show a phone being dropped and the screen protector being shattered are pretty much useless videos. Why? The videos don’t show what happens when phones without screen protectors are dropped in the same way. All these videos show is that screen protectors shatter.. and then the person making the video claims the screen would have also shattered.. but shows no proof of this.

Ah well.. going to keep mine on.. see how I like it.

Anyway..

I thought I had a battery problem with my phone so I barely used it for two weeks. Took it into the Apple Store here in Boise, waited an interminably long time, but finally got help from a nice knowledgeable guy, who ran a thorough diagnostic test on the phone, and found it not to be faulty.

He then gave me tips on certain things to do to keep the battery lasting longer, like always making sure to fully charge the phone over night, and keep the brightness setting fairly low, except when necessary to crank it up such as when taking pictures while dealing with certain conditions such as bright sunlight.

A few days ago, I took the phone with me to test it out, and took some nice pictures of the neighborhood I live in and walk through with my dog most evenings and some afternoons.

Here is my dog, Tucker. He is a perpetually scruffy-looking Miniature Schnauzer.

Tucker Meninga

Today is Wednesday the 22nd of March. I went on the walk with Tucker this past Friday.

The neighborhood we live in has a very nice green area of various widths winding in between the houses for at least a block, and ending up at a park and school. It’s nice here in Boise. Here are the photos.

Tucker Meninga

IMG_0009

Northwest Boise - Shenendoah West/Belmont Stakes neighborhood

Jullion Park, Boise

The pictures are not as clear as those I take with my Panasonic Lumix which I bought over 4 years ago, but the images still look nice. In the future, a lot of the photos I’ll be posting here will be taken with my phone.

I don’t know how to use Instagram yet, but I’ll figure that out soon and post photos there.

Thanks for coming along on the walk with me. And, if, like me, you don’t have much money, but still want an iPhone, the 5s  (the “s” is for “sensor” as far as I know.. there is a touch-sensor that reads your thumb print), is likely a good choice, as long as you don’t mind the small size. You can get one of these for as low as $100 if you are signing up with a carrier and find one on sale. Off plan, these, with 16GB, tend to go for around $200 new, $150 refurbished.  The second cheapest iPhone is one of the iPhone 6 models, and that one is selling for $399 off plan. Too much money for me to spend on a phone.

I really do hope I like the phone I bought. Since I’ve been a mac guy since 1995, I think I will.

Please stop by in the future for more photos. I won’t have nearly as much text on most of the upcoming posts.

appalling, yet catchy.

March 12, 2017

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, chances are you will be offended by this song. But you’ll likely enjoy it anyway.

Steve Taylor was a crazily controversial Contemporary Christian Music singer from the ’80’s. He created some of the strangest, and some of the best songs I’ve ever heard.

Actually.. I should say he should have been controversial, but I never heard anyone speak out against him, even though he routinely performed one song in drag, dressed as a female school teacher (I know he did this.. I went to one of his concerts, which was awesome), had a song called “Jesus is for Losers,” and this one..

Which is about an ice cream man who is afraid of there being no more kids (and therefore no more customers) due to them being aborted, so he blows up the local abortion clinic.

And this is a really rockin’ song!

 

“left hand free” i don’t understand the lyrics to this song, but i sure like it.

March 7, 2017

The song? “Left Hand Free,” by a band called Alt-J. If you’ve seen “Captain America: Civil War,” you’ve heard at least part of it. If you stayed through the credits, because you knew there would be a short film after the end of the credits, then you have already heard the full song.

If you are too cool for Captain America (shame on you) then you can still hear the song. I’m putting it at the bottom of this post.

But first..

Just after 3 am. Time for tonight’s music pick. And some music history and various semi-amusing ramblings..

I don’t understand the lyrics to this song. I listened to this song several times then read the lyrics, then read two articles about the lyrics, then read an interview of one of the three band members who created the song. He doesn’t understand the lyrics either.

We have officially entered Bob Dylan territory. In a Martin Scorsese-directed doc on Dylan, called “No Direction Home” (so great a film that I bought it even though I’m not generally a Bob Dylan fan.. yeah, sacrilege but whatever), Joan Baez talked about Dylan cackling, and admitting to her that he had no idea what the lyrics he was writing were about.

He was laughing, he said, because he predicted that people in the future would spend a lot of time trying to decipher the lyrics, and he himself had no planned meaning.

Perhaps that is the case with this song too. Although, it doesn’t sound much like anything Bob Dylan wrote, it does have odd, incomprehensible lyrics.

Do I like the lyrics? I don’t know! I listened to a lot of songs in the ’90’s that didn’t make sense to me. Those bands from Seattle.. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, I didn’t get some of their lyrics either.. but so what..

I didn’t mind not understanding the meaning (if there was any meaning) of songs by those bands, but I really want to understand this song.. because the chorus is so catchy I want to sing it.. loudly.. but I don’t want to sing a song at the top of my voice if I don’t get it, and nobody else does either.

Anyway.. this song is by a band called Alt-J. The band chose that name because, on a keyboard of a mac computer, the alt key (which is also the option key), combined with the pressing of the “j” key equals this: ∆

That is not just a triangle, it is the sign for the fourth number of the Greek number system. The sign is called “delta,” and its meaning is “change” or “difference.”

Ok then.. cool enough name for a band, but when I first saw it, I thought it was the name of a rapper. I’m not into rap, except for a bit of old school from the ’80’s and ’90’s, so I’m glad Alt-J is not a rap band.

In this song, they sound very American.. swampy, gritty, a bit like The Black Keys or The Heavy.

Ha. Whoops, The Heavy is from England too! Well, since the Stones have had a swampy gritty American sound since the ’60’s, I figure it’s ok for The Heavy and Alt-J to continue the tradition.

Right then.. what do I like best about the song? The cowbell!

Unlike “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” by Blue Oyster Cult (an American band that I thought was from somewhere else), this song does not need more cowbell. Will Ferrell will not be making an appearance in an Alt-J video, because this song has just the right amount of cowbell already. Sorry Will.

So.. here it is, one of the funkiest down-home grooviest songs I’ve heard since “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy, here is Alt-J, with “Left Hand Free.” I’ve decided to post a live version of the song, even though the studio version sounds a bit more aggressive, because this performance was at Red Rocks, probably the most awesome concert venue on the planet. Quite powerful visuals.

And here are the lyrics, in case you are interested. Maybe you can figure them out, but I doubt it. Just enjoy the song, it’s really great.

Ain’t shady baby
I’m hot like the prodigal son
Pick a petal, eenie meeny miny mo
And flower, you’re the chosen one

[Chorus]
Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun
Oh no

[Verse 1]
I tackle, we tussle
And oh my days, we’re rolling
My right hand’s gripped on his
Colt single-action army
Oh no

[Chorus]
Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun
Oh no

[Verse 2]
N-E-O, O-M-G
Gee whiz, girl, you’re the one for me
Though your man’s bigger than I am
And oh my days, he disagrees
Oh no
(Speak easy)

[Interlude]

[Bridge]
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Oh no

[Reprise]
Ain’t shady baby
I’m hot like the prodigal son
Pick a petal eenie, meeny miny mo
And flower, you’re the chosen one

[Outro]
Well your left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Oh no

trying to be fair..

March 6, 2017

… maybe not.

ghost notes..

March 4, 2017

No, this post has nothing to do with ghosts. This is about music, drumming specifically.

A few minutes ago, while on facebook, I found a drumming video featuring a musician I’d never heard or heard of before.

Drummers and the art of drumming have always been a mystery to me. I could do fairly well with hand drums in a drum circle many years ago, but never learned how to play a drum kit.

When I’ve gone to concerts,  I’ve often paid a lot of attention to drummers. I have some idea of how guitars, basses, and keyboards are played, but I’ve always found drummers to be amazing, and doing things I could not understand.

Here is a man named Bernard Purdie, demonstrating certain rhythm techniques. You don’t have to be a drummer to appreciate this video. I’m not a drummer, but I sure enjoy it!

If you’d like to read more about this great drummer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Purdie