July 28, 2017

Random Notes from my Desk



No particular topic or focus this time, just some loose ends to clear out off my desk. They aren't worth a full post, just a few paragraphs each:


*Britbox  This is a streaming service I became aware of after seeing an article in the New York Times. Betty and I enjoy many of the British shows that make their way to PBS, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. While humor from the U.K. often eludes us, British crime dramas are a very nice change of pace.

Since the police don't carry guns, crimes are solved more with intellect and old-fashioned sleuthing. There is much less violence, no explosions, and no on-screen shootouts. If a gun is used in a crime, these programs tend to show the victim after the detectives enter the story. The appeal of American shoot-em-up crime shows has worn quite thin.

Documentaries and lifestyle shows that feature the beautiful U.K. countryside are enjoyable, too. It is interesting to us that the hosts are not usually "Hollywood" beautiful. Rather, they are common folks who love what they are showing. They are refreshingly real.


*Restoring old radios  I have started a new hobby. As a natural extension of my ham radio activities and career in broadcasting, I have started buying and restoring vintage radios. These wooden-boxed beauties are from the 1930's and 40's, well before FM or any form of digital transmissions. I don't buy them to really listen to them since the AM band is now almost exclusively talk or religious stations. In Phoenix the only music heard on AM is Mexican, except for one 60's oldies station. 

I am collecting them for the beauty of the cabinets and the fascination with bringing something back to life that is sixty or even seventy years old and still works. 


*Being careful how you act around others   We were taking care of our grandson for a few days a couple of weeks ago. Mom and the girls were out of town on a Girl Scout trip, and dad was working. So, to help out we agreed to have him spend the days with us. Unfortunately, this was the period when our computers were malware-attacked. Tempers were shorter than normal. I was snapping at Betty and she was getting agitated with me. 

Our attitudes did not go unnoticed by him. After a while, he simply asked if we could stop arguing. He suggested we stop working on the computers since that seemed to be the cause of our anger.

Few things can get you back under control more quickly than to have a grandchild ask you to change your behavior. What a great lesson in proper respect for each other and controlling one's emotions.  It was embarrassing and sobering, but he was completely in the right.


*Summers and heat  We are less than halfway through the mind-numbing heat of a Phoenix summer. Daytime highs won't drop below 100 until mid to late September. Open window weather will arrive in November. That is a long way away.

For both budgetary and family-oriented reasons, we decided to spend the summer in town. Except for a five day trip to Disneyland next month, we are here for every one of those hot days.

Betty and I are coming to more fully appreciate why we usually plan on being gone for at least part of each summer! Day after day of the same toastiness is draining. I grew up back east so I remember the winter weeks of snow and cold that seemed like they would never end. The heat in the desert produces something kind of like that...a cabin-fever feeling of an unpleasant mother nature lurking just outside your door.  Next summer....

*E-mails should come with warning labels  Because they are so easy to use and such a part of our lives, we tend to forget the power of e-mails. Donald Trump, Jr. and Hillary Clinton are recent high profile instances of e-mails gone bad. Stories of folks losing jobs or harming relationships over missent electronic mail are common. 

We forget that once we hit send, there will be a permanent record of whatever you typed. If you send a e-mail in anger or without thinking through the ramifications, there is a never-ending risk of harm. 

Perhaps we'd all benefit from an attitude that an e-mail is no different from the written note you once put into the mailbox. Once it drops into the box, whatever you said cannot be taken back. To paraphrase a Jimmy Buffett expression, "an e-mail is a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling."


OK, cleaner desk top. Thanks for letting me post these random thoughts.




35 comments:

  1. I too am a fan of British Crime Dramas. Also Nordic, French, you name it. Everything except American shows. They are hard to watch after you have watched foreign shows. Lately I found a French zombie show that I love. And I do not watch zombie shows. Ever. This one is called Les Revenents. On Netflix. It is NOT the American version. The American version is called The Returned. Same plot but horrible music and horrible acting. Watch the French one if you do watch.

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    1. I have noticed several Netflix original shows and movies that are produced for a foreign audience, thus subtitles for the English audience. I was surprised there is money to be made that way, but obviously Netflix has global reach and not everyone speaks our language.

      Zombie shows? "Not my cuppa tea" to quote many Britbox shows.

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    2. Most of the shows I watch on Netflix and Amazon, especially the detective stories, are made in other countries (including England) sometimes they have subtitles, sometimes dubbed but at least half the time they are in English even though made in a foreign country. These are almost all of what I atch. Some of them take part in other countries but are made in England. for example the TV series Wallander is about a Swedeish detective and is filmed in Sweden and has sweedish actors but stars Kenneth branagh.

      All of which is to say, give them a try.And I can promise you that the original girl with the dragon tatoo made overseas is ten times better than the US version even with Danial Craig.

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  2. I love British dramas and crime shows...luckily many on PBS. But I stream Acorn TV and they have a good original show called Loch Ness. Britbox seems similar. There is such a difference from American shows..so much more depth and character buildup without the excessive violence and action and such superior acting....some of my favorites include The Tunnel, Broadchurch and Shetland. The new season of Endeavor starts soon on PBS.

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    1. We really liked Shetland. The harshness of the place and the differences in lifestyle made that show quite attractive to us.

      I have seen the ads for Acorn but didn't know what it was. Thanks for the update./

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    2. If you like Shetland, you may like Ann Cleeves books which inspired the show.

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    3. I will check out the Ann Cleeves books. Thanks!

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  3. Not a fan of the British, in general, but I must admit I watch a few, and loved "Happy Valley." Anyway, out of the mouths of babes . . .

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    1. Honestly, we turn on closed captioning for shows on Britbox. Between the accents and the unfamiliar expressions we can get lost without it.

      British humor is an acquired taste. The use of laugh tracks sounds so odd to our ear now, even though it was a staple of American sitcoms for decades.

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    2. I've been married to a Brit for 35 years so no translation needed, I think I've picked most of it up. We live in Canada and Britbox is not available outside of the U.S. but our Canadian version of Netflix has a "British Shows" category. I often say to my friends "If they talk funny we've usually seen it" :)

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  4. In the Southern California desert we also have the mind numbing heat. We try to go out to lunch fairly often just to be doing something out of the house.

    How does one sign up for Britbox?

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    1. You can add the app through Roku or your smart tv applications. Or, you can signup on your main computer or tablet. There is a 7 day free trial. Then, it is $6.99 a month with no contract.

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  5. I can understand your conflict, especially with having kids who are on summer break and more available at this time of year. That said, I know I have to get away for that late winter early spring six weeks or so, so I understand your climate pain.

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    1. June is the hottest month, but the one that always breaks our spirit is the period from mid September to mid October. Daytime highs are still at or over above 100. Your body and mind says fall, the temperatures continue to scream summer.

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  6. Bob, I really liked the post. Who says everything has to have a theme? Having just returned from a vacation up home in New England to our home in North Florida we face again the overpowering humidity, heat in the 90's and showers most every day. I guess the randomness of your post felt especially comfortable since at this time in life I don't have to have a daily plan and if I have a to do list I rarely stick to it. The to do list will eventually get done but along with it time to relax, be distracted and pursue a whim or chat with a friend. As a type A I am used to push push but now I enjoy a lot of randomness in my days which are just as full as when working but full of choice. Thanks for doing this blog. It has helped me a lot over the past 7 years when I quit my career job and still made a living. Tuesday I will be finishing my last less than part time job and leaving the workplace entirely. I have come to believe that leaving the workplace can be as exciting and unplanned as entering it was. My motto the past 7 years has been "if it isn't fun I don't do it!"

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    1. Well, a few days early welcome to full time retirement!

      Thanks for the nice compliment. As a 7 year reader you are one of the originals. WE have all evolved a lot over that period, and for most of us, for the better.

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  7. Hi Bob! My husband and I live in La Quinta just over the California border from Phoenix and I know what you mean about the brutal summers. That's why we get out of the heat every summer as much as we can. I wouldn't trade our 8 month good weather for anything else but it sure helps to escape during that summer. Just remember that when next summer comes around! Meanwhile, enjoy life anyway! ~Kathy

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    1. Yes, I think we will go somewhere for part of it. Flagstaff is actually a great choice...not too far away and at 7500 feet 30 degrees cooler, and not as crowded as San Diego in the summer.

      Next time we are diving on I-10 between Phoenix and L.A. I'll beep a greeting as we pass your town!

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  8. Bob, I am not sure if it's available on your Britbox but if you can you should check out "Still Game". It's a very funny Scottish show about some Glasgow pensioners in their early 70's (men mostly) although portrayed by people half that age. If you struggle with British English you'll need the subtitles for sure with Scottish English but it's worth the effort, it really is a very funny program.

    A sampler to see if it's up your alley => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdNbQ3Q5vhE&t=99s

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    1. I will take a look for it. On the show, Shetland, we absolutely needed closed captioning. Rural Scottish is especially difficult for the untrained ear.

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  9. Acorn has some excellent shows. One thing I don't like, is they started streaming one new wpisode a week for their new shows. Started this year. I like that Netflix just gives you the whole series at once. A new season of Vera will be on Acorn next month, I think. Big fan of Vera!

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    1. We have become spoiled, haven't we! Watching as many episodes as we want is the new norm, though I can't watch more than two of anything back-to-back.

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  10. I love Vera! I have all three Netflix, Amazon Prime and Acorn TV, so I have many many British choices. Comedy is Doc Martin, Death in Paradise and the classic Keeping Up Apperances. Broadchurch is excellent. Loch Ness is an original series on Acorn. Grantchester, My Mother and Other Strangers excellent on PBS. Inspector Lewis and Endeavor are excellent too. Midsummer Murders is also popular....I could go on....love British shows !

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    1. All sorts of shows for us to check out...Thanks, Mary. I have always been a fan of Doc Martin and we been watching Grantchester.

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  11. For Brit show lovers, I would recommend the crime show New Tricks. Hilarious and wonderful. I think it streams on either Hulu or Amazon. Thanks, everyone, for all these recommendations.

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  12. Yes love New Tricks. If you don't mind rather rank and risqué humor nothing is better than Mrs Browns Boys. It's a BBC Ireland production I believe, but I don't know where it can be found. It was on Utube at one time. It is performed in front of a live audience, so the screw ups are there too....hilarious!

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  13. Love the British crime dramas, many of which are just of the mini-series variety: "State of Play" with Bill Nighy (always worth the price of admission) and a number of familiar faces.

    "The Shadow Line" with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston

    The Johnny Worricker movie trilogy (more Bill Nighy),

    "Line of Duty" (the never-ending search for 'bent coppers'),

    "The Fall" (with Gillian Anderson),

    "The Last Enemy" (with Benedict Cumberbatch before anyone (okay, me) knew who he was),

    "The Missing",

    "The State Within", and of course, "Wallander", "Broadchurch", and "The Tunnel" as mentioned earlier.

    And those are just the ones I can think of on short notice. All superior, IMO, to anything found on American network TV these days, which is just getting worse with each passing season.

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    1. Page48,

      For some reason Google placed your comment in a spam folder. maybe because of the video links.

      Anyway, I found it and pasted the text portion. More great shows to check out! I had no idea British shows were so popular. I probably should do a separate post just about what is worth watching from England.

      I like Bill Nighy a lot (Love Actually is one of his best roles).

      I will check out every one of these. Thanks!

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  14. All this talk of accents reminds me of the time my British friends were visiting. After a dinner party with them, a young friend told her grandparents - Mona has visitors from another country; I don't know where they're from, but they don't speak English!! Summer months in NE Alberta leave less time for tv watching but I enjoy a Canadian production called "Still Standing" hosted by a Canadian comedienne, about small Canadian towns trying to hold on. And when summer heat is short-lived like it is in NE Alberta, I will not complain. It will be -20/30C soon enough. Words and behavior can't be taken back once put out into the universe, whether someone is watching or not; and there's always someone watching and listening.

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    1. One quick lesson we learned in watching so many British shows is how many of their expressions are different from ours. I don't mean things like boot instead of trunk, but phrases, slang, and idioms. It is easy to figure out the meanings in context, but I find it fascinating that our expressions and theirs are that different.

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  15. One year my daughter said that for her new year's wish, she wanted me to stop yelling so much. Out of the mouths of babes.... Needless to say, that behavior changed immediately.

    As for heat, Portland forecast predicts temps next week up to 110. We must think we are in Arizona. I'm going to wish I had AC in my house! Good grief.

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    1. Well, 110 in Portland is just obscene. I guess that means in the future our visits to your fine city better be in September or October!

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  16. Well, we had been feeling sorry for ourselves for moving our household during Canada's heatwave, with temperatures in the 30-35 degree Celsius range. But I have just done the conversion and see that this is 86-95 degrees Fahrenheit, much lower than you are having to endure all summer long, Bob. I can empathize with your feeling trapped inside and stir-crazy!

    Jude

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    1. It will be over a hundred most days until late September, then cooling off (!) to the 90s for the first part of October. It is a long stretch to be inside most of the time.

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