Catching Up with Kaja

According to my notes, it’s been more than half a year since Kaja had a post to herself, and a couple of months since she’s appeared at all.

Note the reflective expression. History suggests that she’s not reflecting on ways to attain world peace, reduce climate change, or anything else that might benefit someone other than her.

Indeed, most likely she’s pondering the whereabouts of dinner, whether she can still swing from the chandelier, or whose hide she should render porous to liquids.

See?

Another One

Can you stand another music post? If not, feel free to skip today’s post. I promise I won’t be offended.

It struck me the other day that there’s a medical crisis on our hands. It’s not as flashy as the current pandemic, but it’s been slowly building for the past eighty years or more.

Tony Bennett, of course, left his heart in San Francisco.

Sammy Kaye, Charlie Spivak, Jo Stafford, and the gods only know how many others left their tickers at the Stage Door Canteen.

And that only begins to cover the extent of the problem.

Pepe Llorens’ heart is in Barcelona. Nadia’s is in somewhere California–or perhaps scattered in pieces around the state. Want to check Herb Jeffries’ cardiac health? Better head for Mississippi.

It gets worse.

Edmund Hockridge deposited his heart in an English garden, Linda Scott abandoned hers in the balcony of her local theater–last row, third seat; if she ever wants it back, at least she knows where to look for it. And poor Ernie Tubb left half of his in Texas and the other half in Tennessee.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

Eighty years of research and yet medical science has yet to find a way to keep singer’s hearts in their chests where they belong.

It’s a crying shame.

Changing tracks (sorry).

Anyone else remember the Andrews Sisters “Three Little Sisters“?

The punch line of the song is the one about “tell it to the marine“. But in which sense?

The original meaning, dating back to at least the early 1800s, implies “because nobody else is dumb enough to believe it”. But the more recent American implication–circa 1900–is “because they’re the only ones who can do something about it.”

So which is it: are the girls going out on the town, or entertaining the troops at home?

Either way, it’s not a flattering portrait of those teenagers.

Of course it’s possible the song doesn’t know the whole story. Maybe whatever it is the young woman are doing is fully consensual, and the magazine bit is just a cover story for the girls’ parents, the armed forces censors, and anyone else who might get their hands on their letters.

Remember, no email or social media in 1942.

Now that I think about it, the song does say they’ll be “true until the boys came back”. Not a word about their plans for thereafter.

Let us not forget that Kerista was founded in the mid-Fifties. The philosophical underpinnings didn’t come out of nowhere.

I’m sure it purely coincidental that the founder, John Presmont, was–if contemporary accounts can be believed–an Air Force officer during World War 2. Still…one can only wonder how the Summer of Love might have evolved had there been four little sisters.

A Day Late and a Fuzzy, Short

Apologies for the belated post. Life continues chaotically here. With a little luck, we can get back on our regular schedule next week.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy this picture from my archives. Why this one? Mostly because it enabled the post title, and I couldn’t resist.

 

Sachiko at approximately five months, discovering the joys of her very own catnip toys.

WQTS 12

Hard to believe it’s been more than four years since the last WQTS* post. Granted, last year probably shouldn’t count. It’s not like any of us have had opportunities to encounter the results of egregiously bad testing recently. But still.

* For those of you who’ve started reading since June of 2017, or whose memories don’t extend that far back, the acronym expands to Who QAd This Shit. It’s where I mock products that were improperly tested, insufficiently tested, or–a closely related discipline–never granted a design review.

We took the car in for service yesterday–the Toyota, not The Bug. Aside from the semi-annual maintenance, it also needed a new battery. Generally, when it comes to matters automotive, we rely on experts for diagnosis, but it didn’t take much expertise for us to figure that a battery that had been in service for seven years and occasionally failed to hold enough charge overnight to start the car was about due for retirement.

Guess what happens to the radio when the battery is replaced. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you guess that it reverts to its default settings, you’re right. Partially.

For the record, the radio in question is the KD-HDR30, made by JVC. To be fair, it is, like the car, more than a decade old; nobody’s going to be buying one today. And there is a chance that JVC’s more recent units radios were designed and built following more rigorous design and testing processes.

The radio itself reverts to the defaults. The add-on modules that give it additional capabilities don’t. So the SiriusXM module remembered our station presets, but the radio switched to its built-in FM tuner.

That’s actually a reasonable default. It doesn’t make sense for the radio to assume the presence of optional hardware. What’s less sensical–and points to inadequate testing and/or design review–is that the FM station presets were gone.

Who thought it was a good idea to withhold capabilities from the base unit that were given to an optional component–the satellite radio plug-in? Clearly, somebody who didn’t think the radio could lose all power after installation.

Wait, it gets worse. The base radio component apparently has no ability to remember anything. Every single setting reverted to the defaults. So the FM tuner was at the top of the dial and the volume was at the exact middle of the range, two ticks higher than we had left it. Annoying, but one has to set the default values somewhere, and those choices have some logic behind them.

Less logical, when we switched inputs to SiriusXM, we discovered that the radio’s default display was the time remaining in the current song. Not the title (our preference) the artist, or even the channel. The time remaining. Who chose that? Realistically, nobody did. Nobody defined the default behavior, so a developer chose the first item in the list of options. Presumably, it was the same developer who put the list of options in their current order. And most likely, that order came straight out of a list of capabilities someone gave him.

If some QA person questioned the behavior, the business owner or project manager decided there wasn’t time to fix it: “If we change the order of the list, every feature that refers to the list will need to be changed; that means reworking and retesting every menu selection. And if we start setting exceptions for the defaults, instead of always choosing the first possibility, we’ll have to decide what those exceptions are, recode the initialization sequence, and retest. For something that only happens once, when the radio is installed.” Because, of course, we all know the radio is connected to a battery, so it can’t lose power.

The really egregious design issue, however–and the one that convinces me that there were no design reviews and possibly no QA–is that by default, the radio goes into a store demo mode. That means the display cycles endlessly through a list of the radio’s features. Why would anyone want to see the list after they’ve purchased the radio?

Turning the demo mode off requires the user to find a menu semi-hidden behind a long press on a button that normally does other things, locate demo mode in that menu, turn it off, and save the setting before the menu times out and returns the radio to its normal display.

Why is this the default? Granted, any unit could be used as a store display. I’ll even grant that a store display unit is more likely to lose power than one installed in an actual customer’s car. But making every unit default to store mode suggests that either the radio is the victim of poor design practices and less-than-adequate QA, or that JVC prioritizes stores’ convenience over customers’.

Double-Decker

Even though every condo in the house has at least two levels, it’s rare to see more than one cat per condo.

So it was a surprise to look upstairs a few days ago and see Lefty and Sachiko sharing the “microwave” condo.

It didn’t last long; about fifteen minutes later, Lefty wandered into the bedroom in search of snuggles. But it was nice to see them getting along in close proximity, however briefly.

A Waterfall Memory

Once upon a time, there was a restaurant in Seattle called The Windjammer.

For many, including my family, it was an “occasion” restaurant. Not necessarily huge occasions like weddings and family reunions–although it did host such events–but the smaller occasions: graduations, birthdays, and hosting out-of-town guests.

The Windjammer’s signature bit–or perhaps one of them; certainly the one that made the biggest impression on me*–was the way the servers filled water glasses. The pour started with the pitcher just above the rim of the glass. As the glass filled, the server would lift the pitcher higher–leaving the glass on the table, untouched–until it reached his shoulder height. The waterfall effect was eye-catching, especially at the end, when a twist of the server’s wrist bent the stream slightly.

* At the time, I was what we now call a tween. If there were similar rituals in the presentation of alcoholic beverages, I was and am blissfully unaware of them.

If you think about it, it’s a perfect gimmick for a restaurant. It’s not as showy as lighting something on fire, granted, but there’s less risk of igniting a customer’s clothing or hair. And it doesn’t require your customers to pay attention: no chance of a flying shrimp bouncing off someone’s chin.

It’s not as easy as The Windjammer’s staff made it look, either. Believe me, I spent a lot of time trying to do it myself. The basic pour-and-lift isn’t difficult, but stopping is tough. You want the glass to be full enough that you won’t have to come back around immediately, but not so full that it overflows. Once you let the water out of the pitcher three feet above the table, you can’t put it back. Don’t forget about the wrist twist, either. It changes the flow so the last part of the pour hits the inside of the glass and flows smoothly down, instead of splatting down and spraying water on the paying customers.

By now you’re probably wondering why I even bring up this bit of little-known nostalgia.

Blame it on muscle memory.

I hadn’t thought about The Windjammer in decades until our recent hot spells came along. At one point, I raided the pitcher of water in the fridge and found myself doing a Windjammer Pour. It didn’t go well. I bobbled the wrist twist and splashed myself and the countertop with a significant amount of water. While it felt nice, it wasn’t quite the cooldown I’d been planning on.

So now I’ve got a problem.

I’d like to practice up and get my pouring skills back up to standard, but California is in drought conditions. Can I really indulge myself, knowing each practice pour will waste precious milliliters of water?

Fencing

Not a lot to say today beyond the rather evident fact that Watanuki can be very protective of his toys.

A cat looking at a turtle*

He is forgetful, however. A few minutes later, he wandered off to swipe some food from Lefty’s bowl and abandoned the catnip ball.

 

* A note for those of you who make a habit of looking at image Alt text: I usually change Word’s guess at image content to something that borders on accurate–or delete it altogether. Today’s, however, was so wildly off that I just had to leave it alone.

Getting to Bewildered

Some songs, though raise much more difficult questions.

Remember “Linda”? (Yeah, I’m sticking with the Forties here. Please place any objections in that circular filing cabinet over there. Thank you.)

The lyrics aren’t too bad. Okay, I’m stumbling a bit over why our narrator thinks telling his beloved that she puts him to sleep is a compliment. Other than that, however, it’s a fairly normal pop song.

The thing is, the song lyrics don’t tell the whole story here. See, the lyric sheet doesn’t include the spoken word segments that open and close the recording (dramatized here).

Yes, the post-WW2 period was one of great social change. I get that. And yeah, by some accounts, there was a shortage of eligible males in the latter half of the decade.

But, really!

How does Linda not notice that her stalker has completely failed to answer her perfectly reasonable question? Or does she expect to be ignored? What does that say about her upbringing?

She obviously doesn’t know–or doesn’t care about–the warning signs of an overly controlling, potentially abusive, partner. And that outro feels one set of broadcast standards away from “Forget about the coffee and talking, let’s just go to bed.”

The song–though not, I think, the framing device–was written for a young girl. Is it intended as a proper model for her behavior? An exaggeration for effect? It’s certainly not presented as a cautionary tale. And at the time the song was written, the girl in question* was less than a year old.

* Irrelevant to this discussion, the original Linda was Linda Eastman, the future wife of Paul McCartney–who wrote a few question-worthy lyrics himself. Clearly there’s a generational influence happening here.

And, of course, some questions can’t be answered. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” springs to mind*.

* First published in 1922, but the most popular version is arguably Jimmy Witherspoon’s 1947 release.

When the singer talks about jumping into the ocean, she’s not talking about a little dip. The ocean gives and the ocean takes away; is suicide really nobody’s business but the principal? Morality aside, if the water gives back a body, someone has to deal with it.

Maybe it isn’t anyone’s business but those involved if a woman gives all her money to “a friend”, her man, or her father (or is that still “my man”? The language is ambiguous)–or the other way around, for that matter–but wouldn’t most people agree that an intervention is the correct response, especially if there’s physical abuse involved?

How did this song become such a huge hit?