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I often describe the Lord of the Rings as my Bible! I have read it many (MANY) times...even in other languages (French, Portuguese)!

I think it is because Tolkien shared my love of language. And the good vs evil thing in the books.

My music selections are probably a good description of my life.."Everybody's worried about time, but I just keep that shit off my mind"...


15 Jan 2019 19:10
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It's been out a while now, but Janelle Monáe's album really has been a good listen!
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Ever had a situation where a previous fling still makes contact now and then? And maybe you think that's not such a bad thing? And you think 'what if'? The former fling messaged tonight and mentioned how hot it all was (we know what 'it' is)....and well, there's nothing wrong with that!

Thinking about stuff...Mood...

Lunch with a friend today...birthday lunch last weekend with friends....brunch yesterday with a friend...Wine with friend this week....Vacation soon. Nice life. But thinking about, um, it...

Chloe at the Museum

Monarchs on Asters -- like a bloom



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It's interesting that this French song I listen to has images from Brazil in it -- so covers 2 language interests in one! I had not looked at the video until the other day --
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I haven't been posting too much lately...my life has been less than exciting, sad to say. I've been taking care of stuff at home, working...had one of our "whiskey nights" with my whiskey compatriot...catching up on old TV series on Netflix...that sort of thing.

Still getting plenty of cherry tomatoes from the garden -- I really should be making sauce and freezing it instead of stuffing my face with them! And if I eat too many tomatoes, the acid tends to make my skin break out...so there's that...but I do love them fresh off the vine!

I'm wondering if I have the beginnings of a roof leak upstairs -- I cannot see any water damage, but my bedroom suddenly has a different 'smell' than I'm used to -- not a bad smell, just a change. With all the rain we have had this year, it wouldn't surprise me that the roof, which is past its prime, has developed a leak!

Hanging out with the camera lately --
Very dramatic home decor!

Silvery Checkerspots making more butterflies :)

I think I should schedule a trip to Scotland and Ireland...I have never been to the British Isles. And I would like another overseas trip!

Listening to differing versions of Infinito Particular -- I find this song soothing --

Ever loved an invasive weed, lol? This clematis -- Clematis terniflora is so much more invasive than the native Clematis virginiana, and it grows everywhere, and I'm constantly pulling it up...but it smells very nice! And it is one of the few blooming plants in the Fall...
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I wanted a very relaxing week off, but I'm afraid that's hard for me to do -- I think I inherited the trait of always doing something from my dad. So I don't think I had the relaxing week off that I had hoped, and I don't feel very well rested! But I did get to see some folks, got some yard work done, etc.

I've been catching up on American Horror Story, and I really liked this scene from the season 2 ("Asylum") --

Been listening to this song last couple days --

Woodpecker in the hedges this evening --
Woodpecker in the yard

And I'm within 50 pages of finishing that book for book club! I was not sure I was gonna finish it (reading in Portuguese being so slow for me), but now I think I will actually finish!
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This past weekend, I bottled up some vanilla extract that had been, um, extracting for the last couple months --

Here's where I was sterilizing the bottles --

I like doing that sort of stuff at home. I'm hoping to plant enough tomato plants this year to be able to can a few jars of tomatoes.

One of the nice things about subscribing to a music service (in my instance, Apple Music) is that you get to explore songs and artists that you don't know anything about! I've been listening to a 1960s singer -- Françoise Hardy --
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After my previous first use post, and now that I've had a week and a half of use of the HomePod and have had friends over to play around with it, I thought I would do a follow-up.

Overall -- I like it. I'm glad I bought the device.

I saw some commenters online stating that they thought that Apple should have waited for a while -- I guess until when? Until the device was perfect before releasing it? I don't agree with that -- I like owing it and I'm glad it was available when I bought it!

I have never used any of the other speakers, although I have seen an Echo in use. So I'm not the person to judge between them. I do know that from the point of view of sound quality, the Echo would not have been the speaker for me. And I think that's not the point of an Echo.

My primary goal was a speaker to play music, so the quality of the sound matters. And in this, the HomePod meets my exceptions. I've never heard the Sonos or the Google Max, so I can't judge them.

HomePod Hits

  • Sound quality
    I'm pleased. This is no audiophile level system but for day-to-day listening pleasure, it's good. It has a decent amount of base, and I don't notice distortion when it's playing. Some reviewers have said they 'never heard such and such sound' in a song until they listened to it on HomePod, and that is not something I have experienced. But I'm pleased overall with the sound.

    This album is an example of songs that I think sound very nice on the HomePod:

  • Sound volume
    Also totally good for me. My ears are pretty sensitive, so I can't stand very loud music. Even though age has taken its toll on my hearing, I still generally only listen to the HomePod at 1/2 volume.

    If you say 'Hey Siri, full volume', he responds with "That's very loud. Are you sure?" Case in point, a friend was over and we were listening to Beethoven. He made the comment that "this shows the limitations of a small speaker", because he thought it was as loud as it would go. But I was like....well, I only have it at 1/2 volume, so he was like 'well, turn it up!'

    So I stood up and started walking towards the other room. I said, 'Hey Siri. 100% volume.' He responded that that that would be very loud, and was I sure? I said 'Yes' and kept walking to the other room -- to avoid hurting my ears.

    Even in the other room, it was a bit loud for me!

  • Setup
    Easy peasy. And it's really nice that the device itself updates it's sound projection to the shape of the room each time you move the speaker -- no need to wander around with an app like with Sonos. HomePod requires no action on your part.

  • Every day use
    Nice to just walk in the house and say, 'Hey Siri. Play.'

  • Integration with Apple Music
    Works as expected!

  • Airplay
    Easy to stream music from an iPhone, iPad, Mac -- Spotify, Apple Music, Podcasts, Recordings, etc.

Generally Successful Commands

  • Play [some artist] -- Donna Summer, Enigma, The Verve, Vanessa da Mata, Rita Lee, Perfume Genius, Banks
  • Play [some title] -- Sweet Jane, Priestess, Take a Letter Maria
  • Play [some album] -- The Theory of Everything
  • Play happy music
  • Play Netflix and Chill music -- although I'm not sure I agreed that those were songs I would play during, um, that particular activity!
  • Play [some classical composer]
  • Play [some classical piece]
  • Play more songs like this.
  • Create a station from this song.
  • Stop
  • Play
  • Play [playlist]
  • What's playing?
  • When was this released?
  • What's the weather tomorrow?
  • Louder
  • Softer
  • 50% volume
  • 100% volume
  • Next
  • Skip back 30 seconds
  • Back
  • Play Podcast [podcast name] -- but see the list in 'less successful' below.

Less Successful Commands

  • Play [anything that is not English]
  • Play really depressing music. Thanks, Nh!
  • Play movement 3 in [some concerto] Thanks, J!
  • Play Podcast [podcast name] Number 145 -- I haven't figured out if I can or how to get Siri to play a particular episode of a podcast.
  • Some titles are harder than others. For example, 'I See Fire' always wanted to play some song about a lake?????? But if I said 'I See Fire by Ed Sheeran', it worked fine.

HomePod Annoyances

  • Pronunciation
    I know this is an odd lead off...but Siri's pronunciation annoys me. I mean, even when he says the word 'HomePod', it sounds odd! I would say the word with a short o in 'Pod' - ɒ -- like in rock or odd or Tom. But I swear, Siri says 'HomePard'. Stuff like that and emphasis on wrong syllables annoys me.

  • Lack of context
    Siri doesn't have context. It's best to supply the context with each request -- "of this song", "of this piece", etc. Otherwise, Siri might end up reading Wikipedia to you!

    Also -- no context like you can't say 'Play the last album I listened to.'

  • Stops responding.
    Sometimes, Siri will stop responding. The most annoying time when this happens is when he's playing a song that you don't want to listen to! And he won't stop!

    I have said 'Hey Siri, stop!', and the music dims like he heard me...but the song continues. Maybe if I waited longer, that might correct itself, but after like 10 seconds, I get frustrated. After 15 seconds, I'm done!

    I have unplugged the HomePod twice since I have owned it after Siri became unresponsive.

  • Low hanging fruit commands
    Some expected commands didn't work. For example, he can add a track to a playlist, but can't delete a track. Seems odd to be able to do one of the CRUD commands, but not another.

  • Play [song title]
    He plays just.that.song...and stops. I'm not sure what I expected, but I kinda wish he would ask after a while if I want to hear something else, lol. Now, I'm just nit-picking.

Bottom line

-- so far so good. Glad I bought it. But can't speak for other manufacturer's speakers! But I stick by previous post -- it's only for folks who subscribe to Apple Music!

karmicdragonfly: (Default)
On a whim this past week, I decided to use a bit of tax refund to buy an Apple HomePod. Since I'm a planner I usually take time to consider purchases a while, so it's a bit unusual for me to pull the trigger so fast on a purchase.

I also usually hang on to electronics until I have gotten good use from them. I currently had an 18 year old stereo with 5 speakers in my living room. Note that the system was NOT an audiophile system -- just a system I picked up at Circuit City all those year ago to play CDs and cassette tapes (!!!) and listen to the radio.

The only thing I currently use the stereo for is to stream music from an old iPhone. I have the headphone jack on the phone connected to the stereo, and I just play music -- sometimes from my library, sometimes from Pandora...but mostly from Apple Music.

So I wondered if the HomePod could take the place of that system with all the speakers and wires.

***And the answer is -- not quite yet.***

But my first impression: the music sounds great from such a small device!

Placement and Testing

I tried it in 3 different positions, settling on my mantle. You can see that it is not a large item, but it is much heavier than you would think from its size. That's my first partner, Matt, with the puppies in that photo :)

In preparation for the delivery, I had prepared a 'HomePod Test' playlist. I included various types of music, from Nina Simone's I Put a Spell on You to the theme from the horror movie Halloween, to some classical tracks to Pop, with some older, some newer, some English, some Portuguese, some with more bass, some with less.

When I received the package yesterday, I set it up and spent a fair amount of time listening to songs in the playlist. And it was this song below that made me realize my older speaker system has the slight edge.

I think it was just the percussion sounds and the 'atmospheric-ness' of the music that gave the edge to the speaker system.

But in testament to the HomePod.... I had to listen to several songs before I could decide. Although my old system was not high end, it did have 5 'surround sound' type speakers, which is what gave it the edge I think.

Adjusted for inflation, I spent more on the 18 year old system than I did on the HomePod. And basically the HomePod is just a great little speaker!

Instructions for set up were easy --

I did run into 1 issue -- I had the phone in my hand as I was starting setup, and maybe I moved it too far away after the initial Configure screen had shown up. And the screen disappeared! And I didn't know how to get it back!

So I restarted both the HomePod and my iPhone, and the configure screen came back. And all went well.

I also tested playing from various AirPlay sources (this one is from my Mac). Worked great with no issues at all.

One thing that surprised me about Airplay was that I can play both on the source and on the HomePod. Here is me playing from my Mac speakers upstairs and from the HomePod downstairs -- same song playing on both at the same time.


Packaging was impeccable. I had brought a butter knife in from the kitchen into the living room to use to cut tape, but I didn't need it!

On the cardboard outside package, there was a tab to pull to remove the tape.

Once you were inside, the white package came out easily, and then the plastic around the white box peeled off in 1 piece with no effort at all.

Physical Control / Siri

There's an area on the top that lights up and where you can tap once to start/stop, twice to skip forward, etc. And there are 2 spots on top where you can change the volume.

Siri has performed pretty much flawlessly! She's limited though: for example she can't add an entry to my calendar, and she knows it. She responds that she can't do that.

When addressing her, I can use my normal, inside voice -- even full of oatmeal as I gobbled down breakfast this morning. And she can hear me from another room, although I did have to raise my voice when I was in the kitchen.

An unusual turn for me is that HomePod is only English now. And that's ok. On my iPhone and Mac, Siri understands my Portuguese just fine...EXCEPT I can't say English names in a way that he can understand. Even if I say a song title or an address with a 'Brazilian' accent, he doesn't get English names. But if the song title is in Portuguese, he understands me just fine. So from the point of view of voice control for mostly English titles, having English only is good.

I had forgotten how comfortable it is to speak in English to a device -- in Portuguese, I prepare in my head what I'm going to say before I say it -- in the way you have to do when you are just learning a language. One enjoyable (because I like to play around) aspect of this is that I can get Siri going on both my HomePod ("Hey Siri") and my iPhone ("E aí Siri") and give instructions to both. As in "Hey Siri. Skip" and "E aí Siri. Abrir Notas."

Another limitation for me -- because my phone is in Portuguese and the HomePod in English, she can't send a text. She told me that I would need to change my phone to be the same language as HomePod before she could do that.

On the phone, the Home app is where you'll find HomePod settings. Here is Minha Casa--

And some of the typical settings, more or less the same ones as on any device with Siri --

Only English available, but with the US, Great Britain and Australian varieties.

This second item below is important to note, and was part of the initial set up also. Basically, I chose that anyone in the house can control the HomePod, and anyone on the network can have access to my phone messages, mails, etc. But since I use my other devices in Portuguese, I think that is a moot point for me :)

All in All

All in all -- I'm satisfied. Although I think my old speaker system has the edge, I have still placed HomePod in my living room and have been using it exclusively with no issues.

karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I like old Samba music...And it's good practice for me because it tends to be simple language sung slowly.

Interestingly, this singer has some serious political history, having been shunned by the student left, and arrested by the military junta and exiled...only returning to Brazil in the 70s.

This weekend was very rainy...which means -- horror movies -- Insidious, Insidious 2 and The Conjuring 2! And that inspired this selfie --
Rainy Day Selfie

I also made a quick trip to Hollywood Cemetery in the rain --
Hollywood Cemetery
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I like Portuguese that I can (mostly) understand --

karmicdragonfly: (Default)
Decorations out front --

Sadly, no trick or treaters (doces ou travessuras in Portuguese -- sweets or tricks) tonight! But fun to sit with a friend and drink wine, talk and eat some candy!

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Feeling a little under the weather today, so I worked from home again. It's been raining all day -- and we need the rain for sure -- I was taking some shots of raindrops as they hit the water on the deck --

Today, I've been missing that friend that I used to hang out with -- where it just seemed we stopped hanging out with each other. By the way, his birthday present is still sitting in the house! I can't quite bring myself to take it out of the bag and use it myself yet...I don't let go of emotional attachments very quickly!

I can't remember if I ever posted this YouTube....it's starts with the Biblical plagues in Exodus but then explores ancient Egyptian afterlife themes...I love the music (who doesn't like Death singing a jazzy song?)...and I think the flat graphic imagery totally matches flat Egyptian hieroglyphics.

And a little queer, Brazilian music --

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I hung out again with the 21 year old guy tonight -- he paid for my gelato. It was fun -- he really is a sweetheart!

Sometimes, when you re-start your social life, more and more social life happens. I have plans tomorrow night, next Friday, and suddenly 2 people texted me tonight to try to schedule something with me. One of them is my Brazilian friend, whom I haven't seen in several weeks. And the other is a guy from my English as a Second Language class, whom I haven't seen in a few months!

So, I wondered if Portuguese had a different word for ice cream, and gelato...and maybe not -- Google Translate gives the same word -- sorvete -- which already looked like 'sorbet' to me anyway!

Some Vanessa da Mata tonight -- "Don't Leave Me Alone" --
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Had a very nice time with a friend at a wine bar last night. I was tipsier than I expected -- one of the wines was (do I remember the server correctly...) 14% alcohol?

Dinner with some other friends later this week. Should be fun!

I'm trying to re-start my social life a bit. A dear friend has been more and more unavailable to me for the last few months. He and I have always been sort of an 'odd couple'...but somehow we (maybe it was just me that..?) made it work for several years. But it has made me sad...And now I have to decide what the f**k to do with the small birthday present I bought him, which is sitting on a chair in my house!

Even when I don't get the words...I still listen to Brazilian music -- I figure if nothing else, it 'trains' my ear to the sound. And in this song, I looked up the lyrics..and there are a lot of words about Carnival that I don't really get...nor do I get the storyline. But it's pleasant music.

Headed over to the the fine art museum here to snap a few pics of Chloe -- the gigantic head outside of the museum. She's pretty eye catching! And flat from head on!
Chloe @ VMFA

Chloe @ VMFA
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
Most days, I find something to listen to or read that gets me a bit of Portuguese practice. Hoje tem um vídeo no YouTube que eu estou tentando pra entender...

The words are similar to a Portuguese proverb: If you run the beast catches (you); if you stay, the beast eats (you)." -- se correr, o bicho pega; se ficar, o bicho come.

There's an LGBT dimension to this video...
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Interesting evening tonight with my Brazilian friend...tonight was 'English only', but we sometimes have to improvise when we are communicating.

We met at the sorveteria -- the ice cream parlor that we often meet at...we always attract attention from the staff, as we switch back and forth between English and Portuguese!

His English is great (and my Portuguese kinda sucks)...but tonight he was trying to describe the type of Brazilian music NOT to listen to, and he was talking about a type of movement...he used the word 'rebolando', which Google Translate gave as 'rolling'...#NotHelpful

So he found some videos to explain -- 'rebolando' is 'twerking' in English.

Not my favorite move. Not my favorite type of music. No worries that I will try to learn Portuguese with this type of music!

Next time will be Portuguese only!


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."