Monday, February 28, 2011


Two of our granddaughters are getting married this year, so I have been thinking about weddings recently.  Much of the world will soon have eyes on Westminster Abbey, where "Wills" Windsor will be marrying Kate Middleton.

With my dual citizenship, I still maintain some interest in the British Royal Family. I sometimes ask myself the same questions that are asked in the UK. It is remote that HM The Queen would ever abdicate, but as time passes, she may appoint her son, Charles, as Regent.

As I am a male, I may well pre-decease the Queen, who is almost one year older than I. It seems likely that her eldest son will succeed her, despite the suggestion that perhaps her grandson should  be the next king.

Will the Duchess of Cornwall become Queen? I may never know, but I think that a majority of the British public would be in favor. Camilla seems to have done well in her role as the wife of the heir apparent, and one understands that she and her stepsons have a cordial relationship

Prince William may well be given a courtesy title, perhaps becoming a Royal Duke, on the occasion of his marriage. Presumably, Kate understands that marrying the future Heir Apparent carries with it the expectation that she'll have children. I am interested in this for one main reason: primogeniture.

If their first child is (say) a George, Charles, or Phillip, he will be next in line after his father. But what if it's Elizabeth, Diana, or Ann? And then a brother is born? The precedent in the UK is one of "male primogeniture". A first-born girl would not become next in line to the throne.

In some other European monarchies, the practice has changed.Perhaps the British public, the Royal Family, and the Establishment are not ready for the change at this time. I don't expect a move will be made before the first child of Wills and Kate is born. My guess is that by the time that first child succeeds to the throne, the UK will be ready for a change--but it would be too late then for the happy couple's first child. If she's a daughter, followed by a son, it is the latter who will be raised to reign--and  to make a change before he inherits, doesn't sound appropriate or likely

I think that's a pity. Such Queens as the two Elizabeths and Victoria have had very successful reigns. Edward VIII is just the worst of several unsatisfactory male monarchs.

Yes, I'll almost certainly never know how this plays out. But it interests me..

Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't Change!

I have never considered that celebrating Valentine's Day should be a one-way street. I learned a lesson this year, however.

I can no longer drive, due to limited vision. So I arranged with my amanuensis for her to do some shopping for me. Barbara loves Dark Chocolate, especially Nuts and Chews. Rather than the See's Candy, of which Barbara is now rather tired, I asked my shopper to find a box of Godiva chocolates, together with a nice card without a pre-printed message, other than something simple like "Happy Valentine's Day". I added some loving words to the card, and safely stashed away both card and chocolates.

I'm normally first up in the morning, making coffee and preparing breakfast. So on Feb. 14, I was able to set the table in the dining room, and place the card and the candy. in front of Barbara's chair, before she came down to join me.

All worked perfectly. Barbara was delighted! I didn't necessarily expect her to reciprocate--we've been married for over 40 years--but I was grateful for her offer to me of three chocolates--as long as I didn't touch the only three dark chocolates. (She needn't have worried: she had eaten them all that morning, before I indulged in one milk chocolate after lunch.)

I now accept the reality that Valentine's Day is more a day for men to express their love for women than vice-versa. I enjoyed the loving words, the hugs, and the kisses that acknowledged my efforts.. However, I must admit that I had a few nostalgic pangs of regret that nary a card nor a simple bar of chocolate came my way that day.

Here let me admit that I do have some bad habits, so I am used to hearing "Sit up straight", "Don't slurp", "Keep your elbows off the .table", and similar words of wifely advice. So as we were packing to take a train the next morning, i was pleasantly surprised after breakfast to find a note on my bed, reading "Don't Change!". I felt that my efforts, however unsuccessful, to kick those bad habits, were truly appreciated. A rush of loving happiness came over me.

When Barbara came into the room a little later, I expressed my appreciation for her affectionate words. To my surprise, she laughed, and promptly burst my bubble. She said "That note is for the house cleaners, when they come next Monday. Since you had clean sheets only yesterday, I am telling them not too change your linen this week..."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sound effects

I love the skill of the sound effects person working in a theater. Before anyone thought of recording sound effects and playing them during the production, the sound effects - creaking doors, howls of wolves or coyotes, horse hooves, etc, had to be made with perfect timing during the production.

Sound effects can add immeasurably to the atmosphere in a radio program or a movie. An important tool is the effective use of music. Barbara and I enjoy watching Sherlock Holmes stories, Poirot episodes, and similar productions. They all depend for their effectiveness on well produced sound effects.

Alas, I have recently noticed inappropriate overuse of loud music, often played at the same time as dialogue is taking place on the screen. It is as if a new generation of sound technicians believe that loud noise is more important than allowing the viewer to hear the words. I deplore this.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Trojan horse in reverse

We have all heard the legend of the Trojan Horse. The Greeks make a gift of a large wooden horse, in which are hidden Greek soldiers. The Trojans bring the horse through the gates of the city. At night, the Greeks climb out, open the gates, and the Greek army pours in, bringing the lengthy Punic War to an end. Thus arose the famous saying "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!"

A couple of weeks ago, I welcomed the news that KDFC was going non-commercial. Sure, they'd need to give up their long-established frequency (102.1), but KDFC would move to a couple of other frequencies, one in the North Bay, which would also serve the East Bay, and one in San Francisco. Living in the Berkeley Hills, I thought that we would have a choice. This would mean that my listening life--mostly on NPR and KDFC--would be commercial-free. These changes would occur thanks to the generosity of USC. As a Cal supporter, the folks from the "University for Spoiled Children" are not my favorite college football team, but Hey, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth...

I don't think that KDFC is an ideal Classical Music station. I miss KKHI. I enjoy the baroque and other pleasant instrumental music on KDFC, but it's not exactly challenging. No vocal music. Some pop opera tunes, but forget Berg and Bartok. There's plenty of music in our lives, thanks to the Berkeley Symphony, the Berkeley performances of the San Francisco Early Music Society, Philharmonia Baroque, and the New Esterhazy Quartet, and assorted Cal Performances offerings.

So we tried both new frequencies. We can hardly hear the San Francisco station, and the North Bay version sounds like a fading station one hears on a long car trip into the boonies when one is desperate enough to tune into Rush Limbaugh or Country Western. It would be far worse in the South Bay.

Yes, beware of Trojans bearing gifts.