Saturday, December 3, 2022

Bells? Or Swallow?


Most people in the Western world will easy recognize the melody of the clip above as "Carol of the Bells". It is popular Christmas song. During winter holiday season you can listen it almost as often as "Jingle Bells" or theme from Nutcracker. While music is easy to recognize, with lyrics it is different story: they are not in English. British singer of Georgian  origin Katie Melua performs it together with Women's Gori Choir (Gori is city in Georgia. Just take into consideration that Georgia here is not USA state but country in the Caucasus region).  In which language they are singing it? Georgian? No, it is Ukrainian. Why? Because  it is actually Ukrainian folk  song. Ukrainian composer M. Leontovych made it known to the musical world at the beginning of 20th century. It may come to surprise that English and Ukraine lyrics of this carol have absolutely nothing in common. As proof here is beginning of English text, created by  Peter J. Wilhousky.

Hark! how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say
"Throw cares away."
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold

And here is result of direct translation of the lyrics from Ukrainian, which I borrowed from this Wikipedia post To my best knowledge translation is accurate. 

A little swallow flew into the household
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
"Come out, come out, O master,
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have given birth
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, by selling them.
You have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife
If not money, then chaff from all the grain you will harvest
you have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife."

As you can see there is no similarity between two texts . Why Wilhousky bringing the song on to American soil have chosen very different wording? I would guess he wanted for coral to succeed, and for that image of ringing bells easy associated with winter holiday and Christmas suited well. And indeed result was achieved.
Attentive reader may find that in the original text there is nothing which remind about Christmas or even New Year. Song starts with verse about swallow, which flew to the household. But wait, how that could be possible on Christmas or New Year Day? Swallow is a migrating bird, it can not survive in Ukraine in December. It will either freeze or starve to death, because of scarcity of insects, its only source of food. These birds usually return from tropics to Ukraine at the beginning of spring. Even more, one can tell that swallow is the symbol of spring in Ukraine. And everything in text tells about spring and future harvest. Why this song is associated with New Year and Christmas? I do not know for sure but here is my guess. Let us take as a starting point information from this source:
Modern calendar has its origin from early Roman times, when March was first month of the year. Later on Julius Caesar introduced new solar based calendar and that's when New Year moved to January 1. But things changed later. Here is direct quotation from the link above:

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were
considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours 
abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and 
in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was 
celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Most likely lyrics of the song indeed dedicated to New Year was created in Ukraine during times when New Year was celebrated at spring. Later on (in 18th century) celebration of New Year again became legitimate and moved according to calendar to January 1. And together with this move moved the song, Then it became associated with Christmas, which precedes New Year.
That make me think that original text of the song is very old (definitely more then three hundred years).
But anyway disregarding if you find my version credible or not enjoy this beautiful melody with any lyrics in any language.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Pumpkin Patch

 It is October. Pumpkin time in California. All over Bay Area there are pumpkin patches: places where  farmers compete for best pumpkin installation.  There are some photos I made at Smith Family Farm near Brentwood.

Guests, you are welcome!



Halloween Theme

Colors of Fall

Friday, July 1, 2022

Carquinez Model Railroad Society, Crockett, and C&H


This video I made at open house of Carquinez Model Railroad Society . This event took a place in Crockett CA on June 25..26 of 2022. There is historic building in Crockett which hosts Carquinez Model Railroad Society.  Normally only members of this society have an access there, but several times per year it is open for general public. Rooms of this building accommodates model of the railway segment from Oakland CA to Sparks NV. Model reflects USA railway history from 1950 to present. 


Above you can see visitors blended with railway tracks and running trains.

Here are empty tracks in front of  a station.

And here is model of a bridge. I think it is pretty impressive.

I saw C&H logo on the top of one building model. What does that logo means? I know local supermarkets sell sugar packs with the same logo. Indeed C&H states for California and Hawai'ian sugar company. Its headquarter located in Crockett not far from the place of the railway society. I did a couple of photos in Crockett (see the same logo on  second photo).

After some online research I have found that this company occupies significant place in national  economy. It produces around 14% of USA cane sugar.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Bedroom Table


I needed a table to put into the bedroom.  It should not be too big (there is not much space for it) still it should be big enough to accommodate 14" laptop, table lamp, some books.  I tired to find some in store and online but unfortunately I could not find exactly what I wanted. Eventually I build one myself.  Here is how I made it:

  • For the table top I used cherry board (six feet length and 8.5 inches wide) which I found  in the local Rockler store. 
  • I cut board in a half, glued two parts together and attached mending plates to secure attachment.
  • I cut corners on one edge of the assembled board just to give it special look.
  • I attached four  28 inches metal hairpin legs (again bought at the local Rockler store).

Above you can see assembled top with legs attached.

The last steps was to sand the top and cover it with the finish. And here it is: table not small, not big, exactly as needed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Garden Rake


We have this garden rake among our yard tools. It is small but it is not a toy. We use it in tight spaces.

Alas, here it is broken. As you can see the way how rake is attached to the handle is not very sophisticated.  I would tell it was designed to fail.

I decided to proceed with the fix by modifying attachment method. First I have bent tip of rake rod under prime angle.

I took another handle slightly wider than original, with chisel I made grove at the handle end  and drill the hole to fit the bended rod tip. In my box I found suitable fragment of metal pipe and put it on to the handle, than I inserted rake rod into the grove with bended tip deepen into the hole.

After that I moved pipe to cover the rod, drilled the hole through the pipe and put screw there. Fixed. Hope this garden rake  will continue to serve my family for a long time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022



Yesterday there was the rain in Bay Area. Most likely it is the last rain of the season.  March is almost over and there are not that many rains after. And this final rain got the perfect closing: rainbow.  Here it is (photo made out of our backyard).

Friday, March 25, 2022

Five Years Later


These two photos of our house are separated by five years. Upper photo I made today, and bottom photo I made in 2017, when we finished conversion of our lawn to yard.  (I published post about that conversion project at corresponding time: )
Obviously there are a lot of changes: mulch lost its shiny look and reddish color (time to add some fresh mulch), but brushes and trees grown higher and wider.  Some plants did not grow well and needed to be removed, but some new plants replaced them.
When I started the project I have no idea how I will maintain yard (my experience with landscaping was near zero).  How I am doing? What do you think?

Friday, March 4, 2022

Do not Drink This

Any healthy food advocate tell you that sweet drinks are bad for your health. I myself do not consume Coca-Cola but this post is not about it. I just got knowledge that, while a lot of USA companies cut there business ties with Russia, Coca-Cola does not follow this path. At least that what I found on the TASS page. I am putting screen shot here, not link, because link works erratically.

If you in doubt of my finding please go search yourself. As soon as you confirm this fact stop buying Coca-Cola products. If you can't  live without sweet drinks find the substitute. DO NOT DRINK COCA-COLA!

03/10/2022 Update. Looks like there are some changes. Here is link to BBC news:  

"War in Ukraine: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks halt Russian sales."

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Not Politics

Generally I do not post about politics in any form. But this is not politics anymore.

This building belongs to Kharkiv National University in Ukraine. (photo taken from Fox News site).

It was hit by Putin army invaders. Stop Putin! Support Ukraine!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Office Space

Several years ago I published this  post about making DIY sit-&-stand computer station. Do I still use it? Yes, I do. And  I am constantly modifying it. Since the beginning of COVID pandemic I work remotely and unlikely will ever return back to the office. If two years ago I spent in my home office several hours per week now I am spending  there ~ 50 hours.  Here is how my office looks now:

My nine years old computer (CPU Intel Xeon E2-1230 V2) is still OK. Mostly I use it to run Remote Desktop application to get access to my job machines, but it is sufficient to run browsers, compile small and medium sized hobby projects and do some photo or video editing . I upgraded it several times: now it has 32 GB of RAM, its main disk is 1 TB SSD (plus couple of TB in regular hard drives), and it has NVIDA GeForce GT1030 2 GB  video card.  Obviously spec is not impressive but good enough. As my main movable display I use Philips  252B with 1920x1200 resolution ( higher resolution creates too much strain on my eyes). As peripheral display there is Lenovo   LI2323swA with 1920x1080 resolution.). Lenovo monitor in this set up is not movable and it is OK to accommodate on its screen applications with which are am not working at the moment.

Here is how it looks when Philips is in UP position.

Honestly speaking most of the time I work sitting, so it is important to have comfortable chair. When work became exclusively remote we allowed to take home some furniture from the office, so I took chair.  It is comfortable and convenient and serves me well.

The only problem was that its armrests (made out of some artificial leather) started to wear down.
So I substituted original armrests with DIY wooden. 

I can tell you that after modification chair becomes even better. For comparison I made a photo of the old, worn out armrest.

I hope this office set up will serve me for some time.