Sunday, March 24, 2013


Augmenting the preceding Nuclear Vibrations post with some music I was led in intriguing directions from various groups, tunes and titles, to a unique instrument and movie themes.   The Vibrations are a sixties soul vocal group who recorded what became a pop tune “My Girl Sloopy” that was later re-titled “Hang On Sloopy” with radio stations play flooding the air waves then. 

The tune’s popularity was such that when the Ohio State Marching Band began playing then young musician John Tatgenhorst’s arrangement, the song became a tradition at football games.  "Hang On Sloopy" even became the State of Ohio’s official rock song.   

Jazz and Blues fans will appreciate this well-know musical group’s live on stage performance at the 1980 Montreal Jazz Festival with Gregory (Greg) Williams solos on bass:    
♫ ♪ The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Hang On Sloopy! ♫ 

A treat across music generations brings us to So Cal’s Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” in Motownboy’s  restored version.  A unique musical sound known as the Electro-Theremin can be heard in this recording. 

Beach Boys (New STEREO) Good Vibrations HD 1966 

Paul Tanner a trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra developed the instrument’s other-worldly sound you may recall hearing in movies including:

 “The Lost Weekend"


"The Day the Earth Stood Still"

Those are some of the movies noted by Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times

Paul Tanner born in Skunk Hollow, Kentucky was 95 when he died recently on 2/07/13 in Carlsbad,  California.   The New York Times obituary provides interesting details on this talented musician educator's career, details about the Theremin.  There is a video interview link to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) non-profit organization with special comments about his Beach Boys association experience and impression of the variance in those musicians actual abilities.          

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


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The mechanical phenomenon of vibration assumed intriguing significance to me during my young adulthood when I discovered there were companies devoted to studying and resolving such oscillations negative effects.  I hadn’t given much thought to this subject until I was exploring some employment opportunities and ultimately was offered a position at such a company, though I didn’t accept their offer.     
Vibration has “desired” or “undesired effects” as Wikipedia describes.   Tuning fork vibrations, mobile phones, and a reed in a woodwind instrument, like a clarinet, are a few desirable examples.  Undesirable vibrations “...waste energy, create unwanted sound...” and sometimes friction in mechanical devices. 

Years ago our household experienced quite annoying noise every time our refrigerator’s motor came on.  Ultimately we learned vibration was the cause as a consequence of the appliance’s wall contact inside the built-in cabinet.  Vibration effects have been a matter of concern in experimental aircraft test flights, for space flight shuttles, even our automobiles – so many other items, including those we encounter daily. 
We’re learning here in So Cal (Southern California, U.S.A.) that tube vibrations inside the coastal San Onofre Nuclear Generating Plant have created a serious problem.  Tubal radioactive steam leakage was discovered January 31, 2012 ultimately necessitating the plant’s shut down.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s analytic report was released March 8, 2013 stating in the Executive Summary on page 6 "...wear was determined to have been caused by random vibration...” in this Los Angeles Times link. 

These tubes had been operating only 11 months, a considerable shorter duration than the years expected.   The newspaper notes the report “...provides the most detailed picture to date of how the flawed system at San Onofre was designed.  It was written by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the generators.”

So Cal residents such as myself and friends living 50 miles or less from San Onofre are genuinely concerned about our power company’s efforts to have the plant resume operation.  Some of us tend to be a bit questioning about the safety and advisability of doing so given revelations about officials past decision-making priorities. 

Abby Sewell’s L .A. Times article providing the NRC report link mentioned above has written informatively about the issues including wrangling between Mitsubishi and So Cal Edison, our utility company over $$$ which is only part of the problem.  The possible avoidance of correcting known problems because doing so might require seeking additional regulatory approval does little to generate trust in the safety of such nuclear energy plants, certainly San Onofre.    

Resumption of nuclear energy generation by activating even two of the other reactors at San Onofre on the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles and San Diego is yet to be resolved.   

Friday, March 01, 2013

Squirrely Avocado Bird Tale

Glancing through my kitchen window I was startled to see a furry tailed fuzzy brown-haired creature jerkily moving across my concrete driveway.  I could see an oval-shaped green object twice as large as the animal’s head preceding the creature’s halting steps.  Closer examination revealed a squirrel clinching in its mouth an avocado.  I didn’t even know squirrels liked avocados. 

This rodent made halting movements toward the red flowering geranium bed growing by my front door entryway.  Suddenly, a flash of low-flying gray feathers with a flick of white and a long tail landed on the driveway only a couple feet from the squirrel.  This mockingbird’s less colorful female companion soon landed nearby to join her partner in the harassing-sounding chatter that was clearly directed at the squirrel.  

Undeterred the squirrel persisted in dragging the huge avocado closer to my home’s brick entryway.  Those geranium leaf covered vines overflowing in the colorful flowered bed next to the walkway were  soon revealed to be the squirrel's  destination.  The animal’s final effort resulted in a forward lurch with the sudden dropping of the avocado down into the lush green leaves which quickly hid this dark green treasure once the parted leaves closed over what had been hastily selected to be a secret hiding place.  
I was relieved that no neighborhood felines prone to stalking were in sight since my favored mockingbird couple was now fluttering about almost at ground level.  They were obviously alarmed with the intrusion of this uninvited visitor into an area these birds apparently considered their own.  They were carefully observing the whole process, including the location of what had become the squirrel’s avocado vault.  His deposit completed, the warily alert squirrel sat upright on his haunches, frozen momentarily, then with his bushy tail flitting behind, scurried across my driveway to seek seclusion underneath my auto.   

I was entranced with this whole brief escapade, curious to know if there would be further resolution.   The mockingbirds flew upward into a nearby tree, suggesting that they had selected my home and yard as their territory.  The squirrel remained out of my sight.  Continuing to survey the area, I observed no further activity.  Finally, I decided I needed to devote myself to other matters and reluctantly left my window view. 

Considerable time passed before I returned to gaze out my window.  No creatures in view.  Stepping outside I cautiously and carefully investigated the area where I had seen the squirrel hide the avocado.  No avocado to be seen!  No squirrel in sight as I visually surveyed the area.  No mockingbirds observed in the surrounding trees.

I’m disappointingly reconciled to the realization that I will never know what happened to that avocado. Surely the mockingbirds would not have speared it with one of their beaks, much less be able to transport such weight in flight.    If any sneaky crows were watching they might brazenly have had the capability of requisitioning the avocado, but I hadn’t heard any of their raucous calls.  The mockingbirds would have dive-bombed the crows causing loud protestations had those large black birds intruded on the scene.   Opossums, raccoons, coyotes, bears, mountain lions likely were not out and about during these early afternoon daylight hours.  Other squirrels?  I hadn’t seen any, but I don’t know.  Is there honor among squirrels even if they did spy on the avocado affair? 

I like to think the squirrel I observed returned and spirited away his treasure.  Yet, I do wonder, if there were other creatures observing that I hadn’t noticed who might have taken the avocado for their own?  

Hope you’re not disappointed after reading the above since this tale is for the birds, as I would be the first to admit.  The only nut, as so frequently associated with squirrels, is this writer -- at least in this tale. 

Remember this song from many years ago which was considered a pop tune played on practically every  radio station?  The original early 1950s recording by The Pinetoppers, along with information reported to be from a family member about the composer brothers and others, can be viewed on YouTube at the link that follows though the video has been withdrawn from sharing through embedding.

“Mockin’ Bird Hill” was eventually categorized as country music, becoming commercially popular, especially when Patti Page recorded the tune.