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In my quest to prove that the internet is good for more than trolling, discouraging news and ridiculous conspiracy theories, I give you Typatone.

The act of writing has always been an art. Now, it can also be an act of music. Each letter you type corresponds to a specific musical note putting a new spin on your composition. Make music while you write.

Hello world!

Type directly or use the clipboard icon to paste text. Toggle the music icon to change styles. Click the plus sign to start anew.

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What is the sound of one drabble singing?

This.

And here’s the opening of Pride and Prejudice while we’re at it.

Delightful!

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Photo by Luke Leung on Unsplash

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It’s firefly season* again, and I am there for it. 

Fireflies as a species are under pressure but there’s a lot we can do to help them. Short version: Turn off the lights and get (your yard) a little wild.

Tonight, dim the lights. Find the darkest patch of green you see. If it has tall grass and lush, moist undergrowth, even better. Wait.

Do you see it? That yellow-green flash of light? Bioluminescence, they say. 

Yes. 

Also magic.

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* To be fair, June is actually prime time for firefly mating in most areas but given good weather and habitat they can be seen throughout the summer.

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Photo by Evan Leith on Unsplash

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I love a lot of things, including the Works Progress Administration, kick-ass ladies, secret histories, and libraries. This story combines all of the above and more. How cool is it that?

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Kentucky’s Horse-Riding Librarians | The Kid Should See This

Between 1935 and 1943, the initiative employed around 1,000 book women as mobile librarians. Paid less than a dollar a day, they traveled up to 120 miles a week on mule or horseback over rugged mountains and through fast-flowing creeks in all types of weather… In just one year they reached 50,000 families and 155 rural schools. But book women did more than just leave books on people’s porches…

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I came across this short little video and thought it was lovely. And while the coincidentally-named concept of “Jen” is not about me, I’ll try to live up to it all the same.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

― Henry James

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Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

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I attended the sort of progressive high school that allowed students to create their own classes. I decided to study the practical applications of plants, specifically their uses in food, textiles and medicine.

Basically, I cooked, dyed wool and made diluted poisons. Typical high school stuff.

I learned a lot about my local plants during that semester. What I’m not always great at is identifying new plants. That’s why I downloaded a plant identifier app. I won’t suggest the one I use because it’s just ok, full of tech walls designed to shunt you away from free options and toward a purchase, but I’ve charted a path around those barriers and can get the information I want.

That said, I’ve learned that iOS 15 users* already have a free alternative.

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The feature is called Visual Look Up and once you know it’s there, it’s easy to use. It works for plants but also other subjects like landmarks, art and animals.

Today I learned you can identify plants and flowers using just your iPhone camera

Just open up a photo or screenshot in the Photos app and look for the blue “i” icon underneath. If it has a little sparkly ring around it, then iOS has found something in the photo it can identify using machine learning. Tap the icon, then click “Look Up” and it’ll try and dredge up some useful information.

Is it perfect? Not in my (admittedly limited) experience, but it is surprisingly good. My father-in-law sent me a picture of a mystery flower that had appeared (quite mysteriously!) next to his pond. Despite living in the area for decades he had never seen the plant before. Did I know what it was?

I did, in fact, have a pretty good guess. It looked an awful lot like a native plant Mr Man and I bought when we first moved into the house, the Blue Flag Iris. I ran the image through my app to be sure, and it helpfully appended “Northern” to the name. Points for me, but confirmation is always nice.

After discovering Visual Look Up I tested it on the same photo. It got me to “Iris” but without additional specifics. (To be fair, when I took a quick snapshot of the clearer image below and ran Look Up, it identified the plant as a Blue Flag Iris. Points for it.)

So next time you discover something mysterious that you don’t mind sharing with the tech giant in your pocket, try out this feature.

For a free option covering multiple life and other forms?** Recommended.

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* Those in the US, Australia, Canada, UK, Singapore, Indonesia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Mexico, for now. Not an iPhone user? I haven’t tried it, but Google Lens has similar functionality and works for both iOS and Android.

** But does it work on aliens?

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Some days you just need a feel-good story. Let’s hear it for Canada and Denmark, whose “war” over a tiny Arctic island consisted largely of good-natured snark and the swapping of favorite beverages. (As a bonus, Canada will now share a border with the EU. How cool is that?)

Denmark-Canada deal on Hans Island ends 49-year-old feud over Arctic isle

A territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over a barren and uninhabited rock in the Arctic that has led to decades of friendly friction has come to an end, with the two countries agreeing on Tuesday to divide the tiny island between them.

“It sends a clear signal that it is possible to resolve border disputes … in a pragmatic and peaceful way, where the all parties become winners,” said Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. He said it was “an important signal now that there is much war and unrest in the world.”

The war in Ukraine is very different, obviously, but generally speaking?

Cheers to that.

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Photo by Joost Crop on Unsplash

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Today in soothing stop-motion video:

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No Mow May has been a success at our house. Ratings so far:

  • Big bees, medium bees, teeny tiny bees say: 10/10+
  • Robins say: 10/10 (comment: “But water more please, it makes it easier to catch the worms”)
  • Grackles: 9/10 (relevant quote: “stupid insects have more places to hide, but there are more of them, so it’s ok I guess”)
  • Mourning Doves say: 8/10 (quotes: “The taller plants were nice but now that the sun’s out there are quieter places to nest” and “We like the backyard bird bath” and “Please put out more of that nyjer thistle seed, it was nice”)

I also spotted a new plant in the front yard, Blue-eyed Grass. Despite its name, it’s actually a member of the Iris family, and a pretty one at that. So that’s fun.

Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,

And the laden bee’s low hum,

Milkweeds all by the roadside,

To tell us summer is come.

— Mary Austin

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Photo by Maxime Doré on Unsplash

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I am new to Formula One, or really, to any sport fandom. I tend to get emotional about the things I care about, and I have done my level best to avoid the crushing sense of disappointment one feels when one wants something deeply, and does not get it. Elections are hard for me. Wanting things in general can be a challenge, and investing in outcomes over which I have no influence? Rough. 

Which is why it’s a big deal for me to join Team Hamilton. He’s worth it. 

Why? It’s not the winning. Ok, not only the winning. And it’s not just the fact that he reminds me of my favorite brother. It’s excellence. Hamilton is good at what he does, yes, but he has taken to winning while retaining a sense of the larger picture. 

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Again, I’m new to the sport so it’s possible that I missed more formative, brasher years, but since I’ve been watching what I see is this: support for his team, especially those who are often unsung, support for worthy causes, good sportsmanship, and generally using his platform and profile for good.

Lewis is a 7-time world champion, of course, tied with Michael Schumacher to be the winningest F1 driver ever, but he also acts like it. 

As I dipped my toe into the F1 waters last year, Mr Man asked what I thought of the up-and-coming driver Verstappen. “Meh,” I said. “Why?” he asked. “He looks like he could win the championship.” True, I said, but I like Lewis. He is considerate to reporters and kind to fans, doesn’t project the sense of entitlement that some drivers wear like a second suit, rarely says “I” in interviews, makes a point to thank the team back at the factory, has succeeded despite not (like so many other drivers) being born to the sport, and is outspoken on human rights and other social issues. His rainbow helmet was a thing of beauty and likely did more to promote rights awareness than a year’s worth of articles. 

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This year’s F1 car changes have put Mercedes at a distinct disadvantage. Unless they get those problems sorted, Hamilton may never win that next championship, the one that would break the tie for first and put him at the very top.

This year his helmet carries a quote from Maya Angelou: “Still, I rise.

And now I’m realizing what so many fans before me have: Despite the possibility, nay, likelihood, of disappointment, I’ll root for him anyway.*

His vision of excellence is worth it.

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* I’m not the only one. I spotted Michelle Obama and George Lucas in the Mercedes garage today.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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Today would have been The Whippersnapper‘s 109th birthday. I was hoping to post another photo of her but my father, keeper of the family album, is out of town.

For now just let me say to my grandmother, dancer, baker, tea maker and all-around excellent human being:

I miss you, but I love that you were here.

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Photo by Logan Ellzey on Unsplash

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