I voted

Another election has come and gone, but I wasn’t really tuned into it.  A large part of it was the reason mentioned here, namely that voters can’t rely on candidates or their supporters to give reliably factual information either about the candidate or their opposition.  Perhaps it’s the downside to living in the information age that there’s so much information that disinformation is prevalent, and trying to call anyone on it just gets lost in the noise anyway.

When I’m listening to NPR during my commute, I find I have to check myself to giving into confirmation bias when I readily accept statements that confirms my world view and doubt statements that do not.  (On the other hand, when Putin says he supports peace in Ukraine and is not sending in tanks, I find it really hard to believe him or his foreign ministers.  I bet Putin has a good laugh every time he lies about what’s going on under the table because, even if the west denounces his actions and Ukraine throws accusations every other day, what does he care when Russians believe his propaganda.)

Anyway, the only election that really interested me was California State Superintendent for Public Schools.  (Okay, that’s not the only election I cared about.  But even though Obama’s approval numbers are in the 40’s, the GOP congress’ numbers are in the 20’s.  Yet they increase their number of seats?  That’s a serious WTH moment.)

Okay, okay: Torlakson vs. Tuck.  The contest was billed as a mirror of the battle over education in country, with Torlakson representing the establishment (heavy backing from teachers unions and incumbent democrats) and Tuck representing reform.  Except with his charter school and business school background, Tuck represents a very particular type of reform centered around test scores.  I want reform, but not one where students are reduced to test scores and teachers are paid and fired based on test scores, especially since I believe the tests are fundamentally flawed.

I recently bought a kalimba, specifically this one.  I wanted a chromatic kalimba because not having accidentals really restricts what songs you play.  My kalimba has an alto tuning, meaning it has exactly two octaves from G3 to G5, which is enough 99% of time, but…

Currently, I’m working on two songs:

Transcribing the songs for alto kalimba has been a fun little music theory project.  Turnabout Sisters can be played C4 (a fifth below G4) and G5, which fits in my alto’s range.  But at the end it modulates up, and the new high note is now out of range.  (Maybe I should have gotten the chromatic treble kalimba instead, which has two notes above the highest tonic.)  Anyway, I solved this by shifting down to the key of D since I didn’t use the low part of the range.  And since that’s the dominant (right?), there’s only the occasional note from the chromatic notes on the back of the instrument.

Time Travel drives me crazy though.  The piano version above, which I adore and is my ringtone, has a huge range.  The right hand covers 3 octaves plus a fifth below and a couple semi-tones above.  And then sometimes the left hand has the melody.  In order to fit these excursions above and below the tonic, I again transcribed the song in D, but now I only have 1 octave.  I’m not sure if it would be any better with the extra range offered by a treble kalimba; I haven’t tried transcribing it yet.

Anyway I shift up and down whole octaves, sometimes in weird places, to make some passages fit.  Then the song modulates to E… Kalimbas are not scale agnostic.  Playing notes in the tonic scale just uses the thumbs.  Playing in the dominant or subdominant scale is still pretty easy because there’s just one tine on the back so you can keep a finger there.  Deviating further means hunting for tines that you can’t see on the back of the instrument.

Anyway, the kalimba is fun, but it has limitations.

The game I’ve played the most recently is Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager.  It’s is very much a successor to Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space, which has the far catchier name.  However, X Manager and Y Simulator seem to be all the rage these days, and BASPM is very much a manager game, what with carefully cultivating three different staffs (engineers, astronauts, and flight controllers) while picking projects to earn prestige but not going overboard (read: overbudget).

I have to say that the first time I sent humans to the moon (it was a Gemini direct ascent), I got goosebumps.

The game’s interface sucks though.  I really hope they rethink it before the next module, which is supposed to cover space missions between the moon landing and current day, things like the space shuttle and space stations.


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