Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hobbit: An unexpected pleasure

My title is misleading. I think I would have enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey no matter what. But most of the reviewers of the movie either said it was bad or too long or had too many differences with the book or was boring. Many reviewers said the movie couldn't be good because there were going to be three movies out of one, small book. This movie will be followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug next year and The Hobbit: There and Back Again in 2014. These movies are not just film adaptions of the book The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, though. They also include information from the appendices at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Part of the appeal of Mr. Tolkien's works is that he created a history, languages and vast back-stories for all of the books. These are not just shallow, normal Hollywood characters and situations. They are complex stories about characters, kingdoms and races that seem like they could have existed.

I think it would have been a big mistake to only include what was written in The Hobbit in any movies based on the book. That's because we've already seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy and we need more information to tie the new movie in with those existing movies. I liked the fact that they started the new movie with two of the characters from The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo as an old man and his nephew Frodo, talking about what happened before The Lord of the Rings took place showing that everything in The Hobbit had to take place for The Lord of the Rings to be able to happen. It all ties together.

Also, the movie contains information about how the dwarfs lost their kingdom to the dragon Smaug and also how the elves, who could have come to the aid of the dwarfs but didn't, caused the dwarves who survived Smaug's attack to despise and mistrust the elves. This is an important theme running through all the books and needs to be understood to know why certain characters act the way they do. There are some added scenes and some of the action is jazzed up a bit. To get a complete list of the differences from the book to the movie, you can go to The One Ring website and see "The Complete List of Film Changes" for this movie. To see the list of changes for all of the Tolkien movies, start here.

This is one of those cases where I think you need to ignore the critics. My son says he never believes the critics. He says the more a movie is promoted the less he expects from the movie and the more the critics like a movie, the less excited he gets about a movie. I do know I've been disappointed in the past when the critics raved about a movie but I found I didn't like it when I got to see it. So, maybe I should be grateful to the critics - they helped me keep my expectations in check and when I saw the movie, I was able to see it above my expectations.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Enchanted Village - part 1

In a previous post, "Chestnuts bursting out the oven door", I mentioned The Enchanted Village display at Jordan's Furniture in Avon. MA, one of six locations for the chain. I said we'd like to get back there and take our cameras this time. Well, we did it a couple of days ago. Here are some of the pictures we took at that time.

The first picture is the first scene you see as you arrive. Notice the old papers. It's easy to see that some are The Boston Globe, a paper company that still exists but some appear to be The Lowell Sunday Telegraph (or is it The Lowell Sun and Telegraph?). There is a still a Lowell Sun but I don't think The Telegraph exists in Lowell. There is a Nashua (NH) Telegraph, though. It would take some research to figure out what the story is there. But you can see how yellow and brittle the newspapers seem to be. It just points out the difficulty of preserving and maintaining the entire display. Everything else appears in really good shape. But newspapers must be more difficult to preserve.

The next picture shows a soda fountain. This is where I started to get hungry as we viewed the exhibit. They did an especially good job of preserving the food in these scenes. I'm not sure how active the soda fountain would have been in the winter (with as much snow around as they show) but I suppose you would miss having a frappe during the long New England winter. What's that, you say, it looks like the children are having a milk shake? Well, in Massachusetts, they are called a frappe - or at least they used to. Now, you can order a milkshake and get ice cream in it like the rest of the country. When I first moved here (in 1978) and ordered a milk shake, I only got milk with a flavoring added. I had to order a frappe to get ice cream, too.

The last picture for today is the scene that inspired my bursting chestnuts story in my "Chestnuts bursting out the oven door" post. I didn't do a very good job of getting the roasting chestnuts in the picture. The roaster is the upright metal barrel with wheels. I was more focused on the Basset Hound sitting with the boy doing the roasting. The boy does have a bag of roasted chestnuts ready to sell, though. Or maybe he is just going to share them with his dog. I would have bought a bag if they were real and for sale. We still haven't been brave enough to try it at home. We still have the chestnuts, though, and it's just a matter of time.

I hope to have two more posts in the future with more pictures from The Enchanted Village.

[Update: The next set of pictures can be found in my post "The Enchanted Village - part 2" and the third, and final set, can be found in my post "The Enchanted Village - part 3"]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More adventures with the trash

Yes, this is the season to celebrate Christ's birth and it is the season to prepare for the new year. It's also the season for some of our friends to celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanza.  But for me, it seems, this has also been the season of trouble with trash. See  my post, "A Christmas trash barrel adventure". Maybe I should rename this blog "Adventures in Rubbish".

Today was garbage AND recycling day. We can only put out recycling materials every two weeks. They were both delayed by one day for Christmas. It just so happens, though, that last night, a pretty big storm arrived. We got a lot of rain but the big problem was the wind. We got gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. But no matter what, the barrels had to go out before 7 am. So, there I was fighting the unwieldy barrels and the wind. Charlie (our dog) was helping me. I saw my next-door neighbor's barrel out (which he remembered to put out the night before - he is the old guy I mentioned in that Christmas trash barrel adventure post) and it seemed to be doing fine. It hadn't blown over nor had its contents been blown around. So, I figure everything would be OK. But just to be safe, I only put out the garbage. Those barrels were heavier and the garbage men always came early. The recycling truck was always later. Maybe I'd put that out after the wind died down.

As Charlie and I were heading back into the house, I glanced across the street and noticed that two other neighbors (not the older fellow next to us) had lost some of their trash to the wind. So, I crossed the street and gathered up what I could and shoved it down into their barrels (righting one container that had blown over) so it wouldn't blow around again. Then, just as I was heading to the house again, the garbage men arrived! This was going to be a good day. I returned my next-door neighbor's barrel to his backyard and took our empty barrels back behind the house and put Charlie inside. Flushed with success, I decided that it would be OK to put our recycling barrels out. I didn't want to spend the whole day worrying about when the recycling truck might come. They didn't seem to have the tight schedule of the garbage men. I put out the recycling being careful to smash everything down and making sure nothing was loose on the top because the wind was still blowing pretty hard. I double-checked that the barrels were on flat, solid ground and I headed back to the house. I hadn't gone 20 feet when I heard a car drive by that ran over what sounded like a plastic liner that would have been in our recycling.

I turned to see that one of our recycling barrels had been blown over and the bag that I thought was secure had been ripped open. It looked like a bomb had gone off inside the recycling barrel. There was paper, cardboard and plastic all along the road. And the wind had driven it down the street for as far as I could see. I dashed back to right the overturned barrel and crush what was left deeper into it. Then I pulled our other barrel inside our fence where it was protected from the wind (a little). Then I started walking down the road with the first barrel and started picking up our recycling material and jamming it back into the barrel. I couldn't believe how far it had been blown in such a short time. And most of it had ended up in the huge puddles created by the all-night rainstorm. I had to stand in water over my ankles to pick up most of it. I had to walk about 100 yards down our road before I could gather all the lost recycling and on the way, I noticed that the garbage men had missed the garbage bag the next-door neighbor on our other side had left out. Should I leave that sit there knowing that the garbage men would not return? No, I dragged that along, too. I finally got back home, wet to my knees (how did it get up that far?) and mad - mostly at myself for pushing my luck but partly at our Town's changing of the rules for our dump (that's a post for another time). I threw our neighbor's trash into our garbage can for next week and put our recycling barrels safely behind the house. I went in and dried off and worried about what to do with the recycling. Should I keep it for two more weeks?

Later, after I'd calmed down, I noticed that the wind seemed to be dying down. I thought maybe it was safe to put out the recycling and trudged out to take the recycling barrels out - one more time! No sooner had I put them out than I heard the recycling truck coming down the road. Five minutes later and our recycling was safely in their truck and I was able to put the barrels away. In the end, it had all worked out. The garbage and recycling are both gone and I am dry again. And I need to keep reminding myself - it could have been a snow storm!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

About guns

On December 14 this year, a terrible thing happened in the village of Sandy Hook, CT in the town named Newtown. I can't add any new information and I can't add any analysis beyond what has been written about it already. I can't tell much beyond what everyone has heard over the last week. I just want to add a pointer to some information that should be considered.

While I don't own a gun, I do not call for everyone to give up all of their guns because it's a right given to every citizen by our Constitution. However, I do not believe that everyone should be allowed to have as many guns as they want. I accept the fact that people can own a gun for any number of reasons but I do not accept that people should be allowed to own assault weapons. And, of course, owning a gun should never be allowed for someone who has been convicted of a serious crime or is mentally or emotionally unfit for the responsibility of owning a firearm.

But - all too often I hear stupid things said and have seen stupid things written by people trying to justify the proliferation of guns in this country. Too often, I've heard stupid things said by people who don't believe there should be any restrictions on gun ownership. The type of "stupid-speak" I'm talking about goes something like this:

More homicides in the U.S. are committed with baseball bats than with firearms.

The term "baseball bats" is sometimes replaced with other things. All I can do in this post is to point you to one of my favorite sites, Snopes, which debunks these kinds of things. Here is a link to their page showing the fallacy of the statement above. In case you don't have time to go to the link and read the article, the synopsis is - About 67% of homicides in this country are caused by firearms. That's all I want to say about that.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A visit from Santa and his elves

We had a visit from Santa this week. Not the real Santa Claus, of course, but a fellow who sure acts like Santa to some needy people. You can't miss him in the picture. He works for an organization called Cape Abilities (giving help to people with disabilities on Cape Cod) and they maintain the vending machines in our office. He brings his crew with him each time and gently explains what he needs each of them to do to prepare the machines for our hungry employees.

He is part teacher, part business man and part sheepherder (the folks he brings can get easily distracted). But he keeps them working and they work harder than a lot of less needy people I know.

It's always a pleasure to see him and his "kids". Besides seeing them happily working, it's always good to be reminded how good I've got it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas trash barrel adventure

Today is garbage day. Our trash cans need to be out before 7 AM. Especially in our neighborhood because we are at the beginning of the route. One of our next-door neighbors, an old man who is getting pretty frail, usually puts his trash barrel out the night before but he didn't last night. Did he forget or did he not have much to put out? He has forgotten in the past and then he has had to put out two barrels the next week. It's hard enough for him to get one out. So, this morning, as I was walking Charlie past his house, I wondered if I should put his trash out for him. Another thing you should know is that when I can, I take his empty trash can off the street and put it in his back yard - along with his morning paper. I used to do this only on rainy or cold days. But recently, I've been doing it every trash day - if the garbage guys have gone by the time I have to leave for work. And as I said, we are near the beginning of the route so they usually have gone. Usually.

So, as Charlie and I passed his house, I wondered, "If I put his trash out but the garbage guys aren't gone by the time I have to go to work, he won't know that his barrel is out on the street and it will sit outside until he gets out (if he does) or until I get home. But if I don't, he may have a lot of trash to take out next week and it will be a day late because of Christmas next week." Why is everything so hard? Another way to think about it is - why do I have to think about things so much?

Well, one good thing happened right away. I saw the garbage truck on the next street. So, at least they would pass our houses early and I could take the barrel back. So, Charlie and I decided to go look at his garbage. I immediately realized that it was good that we did. He had two barrels of trash to take out. His usual one (with nice handles) and another one like the one in the picture (with no handles). So, holding Charlie's leash, the pooper scooper, the "good" trash barrel and the unruly trash barrel, we made our way to the street. After what seemed like an hour, we made it to the street and set out the barrels.

After our walk (it took about 20 minutes), we got back to our street and saw the empty trash barrels. But the garbage guys had left one on its side. Guess which one! Yes, the one with no handles (as in the picture) and it was rolling with the wind. We were still 50 yards away (yards as in 3 feet per yard - not people's property lines). I knew what was going to happen. The barrel would role out into the street and some joker in a fat-assed truck would ram into it and break it. I tried to get Charlie to hurry along but there were just too many delightful smells to investigate (especially on garbage day) and too many places he had to mark. So, we're still 20 yards away when the barrel does one of its roles into the street as a car is approaching. Instead of bashing into the barrel, the driver slows down and gently nudges it back to the side of the road. What a nice person! I felt so relieved. Until the next gust of wind blew the barrel completely out on the road and, of course, a pickup truck arrived. "Here we go," I thought, "the can will be smashed." We were still a few yards away but again I was pleasantly surprised. The driver slowed down. As he did, the wind blew the barrel even farther on the road and right in his path. Cars were coming the other direction and he couldn't go around. Finally, Charlie and I reached him just as the driver was coming to a complete stop. It looked like he was getting out of his truck but I was able to wave to him and tell him I would get it. He looked so happy. He rolled down his window and shouted,"Thank you very much."

There was no time to explain to him that the whole thing was my fault. There was no time to tell him what a paranoid idiot I am. Everything went amazingly well yet I was still worrying. There was only time to grab the barrel and stop Charlie from sniffing his truck and delaying us even more. We wrestled the unruly barrel off the road, picked up the "good" barrel and picked up my neighbor's papers (one left from the night before - when he would have normally taken out the barrel) and took it all back to his yard. He would have an idea about what happened when he saw his papers on his back porch or at least when he took trash out the barrels later. I just hope he doesn't know how close he came to losing his unruly barrel!

[Update: I'm not sure why I called this "A Christmas trash barrel adventure". It had nothing to do with Christmas. But I did want it to show that I had good intentions when I started. And the two drivers being so nice may not have happened at other times of the year. Everyone does seem to act nicer around Christmas. And the TV stations and newspapers will tell us that being nice to each other is the true meaning of Christmas. That's not right, of course, and I've written about that in "The True Meaning of Christmas"]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another dog in the office

Here is a picture of Rocco. He's an English Bulldog puppy. In the picture, he is getting a nice scratch from one of his owner's office mates. You can tell Rocco is really enjoying it because he is not teething on her finger as he liked to do with the rest of us. It was gentle teething, though, and no one minded.

I talked about dogs in our office in my previous posts "National 'Take Your Dog to Work' Day" and "Dogs at work". I like having dogs in our office (and as I mentioned in "Dogs at work", I like having cats at work, too). I know there are people who don't appreciate having pets at work but maybe we need to rethink the idea of having those kinds of people in our company :-)

If you click on Rocco's picture to see it better, you'll notice that one of his eyes seems to be larger than the other. It's not just in that picture. That's the way it is. When his owner first told me about him and showed me a picture, I noticed it there, too. My suggestion was that she should call him Popeye. But it didn't happen. He's still Rocco. No matter what his name, he is a terrific dog. He is very friendly and energetic. He liked everybody. That's the great thing about bringing dogs to work. They accept everybody and make each of us feel welcome.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas program

We presented our Christmas program at our church as four performances over Saturday and Sunday this week-end. I think it went very well. At least I know the people who saw it liked it. We played to four nearly-full houses. I only saw about 10 seats empty (out of a few hundred) in two of the four performances. The other two were packed. The choir (which my son and I were a part of) sang well and with great enthusiasm. The band that accompanied us was terrific. The children's choir had the congregation going crazy with a mix of a good song and the usual antics of a few of the kids during their song. I hope to update this post later with a link to a recording of the performance.

Of course, besides performing this for the people of our community, we also offered it up to our Lord. We are celebrating his birthday after all. It's almost like group prayer. A coordinated group prayer. To pull off a choral performance takes a lot of work. It also takes people who are willing to sing out - which takes confidence that you know the part. It also takes the ability to listen to the other singers in the group. You can't sing so loudly that you overpower them but you need to sing loud enough so that your part is heard. Our director asked that we memorize the music (45-minutes worth of music) so that we would watch her for cues and direction instead of staring into books. We all had to admit that we didn't have the entire program perfectly memorized. But each person had parts of it down so, again, listening to each other, we were able to get cues from each other.

I highly recommend singing in a chorus - for anyone. There are all ranges of abilities and many choirs (ours included) don't hold try-outs. If you can carry a tune, you are usually welcomed to join. Reading music is definitely an advantage but is not necessary. You can learn a part by hearing it over and over. Your singing will improve, you'll meet new people and you will be part of a group striving to make something out of nothing. There is a real thrill as you see the songs improving with each rehearsal. And if you are fortunate enough to sing to God, you may find that the results were pleasing to the Creator of music, the earth and everything.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Critic

During this Christmas season and also because my son and I are singing in the choir for the Christmas program at our church, I was reminded of the time over twenty years ago when a much different church choir went to sing in our local town mall.

I was the accompanist for the choir and I was used to using the wonderful Baldwin piano we had in the church. When the choir director considered if we could sing in the mall, she asked if I could get a portable keyboard from somewhere. I had a friend who had one and also an amplifier so I borrowed it from her. I had used it before when the band we were in performed in places without a piano but I wasn't as comfortable with it as I was with a real piano. The biggest problem I had (and still have) with playing an electronic instruments is the lack of expression in the touch. Things have gotten much, much better since then and all newer keyboards will play louder when you press the keys harder. But back then, this particular keyboard did not. You could only adjust the volume with a foot pedal. But, as I said, I'd used this keyboard before and was pretty used to that.

I had more experience in performing outside the church than any other members of the choir because  of performing in a rock band and singing in a few other choral groups. I was more worried about how the singers in our choir, mostly older women, our pastor and a couple of men, would perform.We weren't going to be doing anything fancy in our performance. We would just be singing Christmas carols from our hymnal. The old mall had surprisingly nice acoustics, though, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the singers adjusted to the different acoustics than they were used to in church. We sounded pretty good for a small group of about twelve people.  Most people just walked by and smiled. A few people stopped for a while but not many. Then I noticed an old woman who did stop and stayed. She didn't look happy but I thought maybe she was just having a bad day. We'd lift her spirits! I played my best and tried to keep the tempo up. Then I started to notice that she was looking at me. I tried to ignore that and concentrate on the music. But between songs, I couldn't help but feel the weight of her gaze. Whenever I snuck a peek in her direction, I'd see her: immobile, unchanging, accusing. I had played in a lot of different situations and I knew I was a pretty good pianist. I looked at it as a challenge to cheer this woman up. I thought the choir sounded nice. We performed together well and there was no reason she shouldn't like us.

Finally, I saw a little change in her face. She actually seemed to have softened a bit. Did I see the hint of a smile? Then I noticed she left her spot across the hallway and was walking toward us. We'd broken through. The wonderful words from the old hymn writers about our wonderful Lord's birth had melted her resistance. She was going to have a good Christmas after all! She came right over to me a declared, "They're doing a good job," motioning toward the choir, "but you're terrible." She continued, "You're dragging them down." And with that, she left. Everyone was stunned but I was devastated. I'd never had anyone say those things to me. Our pastor, who also sang in the choir, said, "Don't worry too much. She used to come to our church but she left years ago." Somehow, that didn't make it better.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

C. A. L. M.

Do you remember this day, December 13, a year ago? You don't? It was one of the most important days in a long time for those of us that try to watch television in the morning but don't want to disturb our family members that are still sleeping. It was this day one year ago that the Federal Communications Commission passed the CALM act - Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. Still don't know what I'm talking about? I don't blame you. It's a pretty silly name for the act but what it boils down to is that the commercials shown during a television program must not be louder, on average, than the show they are sponsoring. I wrote about it a few days after the act was passed here. The act was passed last year but the FCC decided to give the television stations and networks a year to comply with it. Well, time's up. From now on, they've got to watch the volumes. Here's a story on CNN about it.

So now, when I've turned the volume down enough to not wake my family but loud enough to make out what the newscasters are saying, I can rest assured that a vegetable slicer commercial will not come along at a louder level and wake my sleeping family. Unfortunately, this act doesn't get rid of the vegetable slicer commercials. It just guards against a volume change. And the other thing is that the FCC won't be checking for compliance. That's you and I. It's up to us to do the policing,
The Commission will rely on consumer complaints to monitor industry compliance with the rules. You may report commercials that seem louder than the programming they accompany to the FCC at any time. This information will help identify possible problem areas and will assist the Commission in enforcement of the rules. Specifically, the Commission will use the detailed information from complaints to identify patterns or trends of noncompliance for a particular station, pay TV provider or commercial.

So, put on you uniform and strap on your holster to hold you decibel meter. You can file complaints at And be happy - we're saving the government money by volunteering our services. Maybe we could do that more and cut the budget deficit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The return of Plantar Fasciitis

It's time to tell the whole story about my previous post, "An old choir injury". My foot didn't just start to act up when I stepped up high to get on the stage. I had been having problems with it for a few months and should have known that stretching my foot like that would cause a problem. I just didn't think.

I wrote about my run in with Plantar Fasciitis last year in this post. It took about five months but the pain finally went away and stayed away for over five days. That's my definition of being cured! Well, it's been over a year since I was "cured" and I think anyone would consider themselves cured. It turns out that the inserts I used in my shoes last year were wearing down. My feet started to bother me again. Interestingly, this time it was my right foot that bothered me. Last year it was my left foot. I left the problem go on too long hoping it would just go away (that's my number one method for dealing with trouble). It didn't. It just got worse. Just like last time.

So, I broke down and bought new arch supports for my shoes. I could tell right away they helped but the pain lingered - though not quite as bad. Then I had a thought. Maybe it's partly the old, worn out arch supports and maybe it's the new shoes I bought this spring. And I think that may have been the problem. I've switched the new arch supports into my old shoes and I feel a lot better. I'm still not cured (haven't had five days pain free yet) but it is definitely improving. I started noticing the pain a few months ago (back in September) so we'll see if it takes five months to be "cured" like it did last time.

But no more acrobatic entrances on the stage with the choir, either :-)

Monday, December 03, 2012

An old choir injury

My title is a joke on an often heard phrase used by someone explaining an obvious injury. Maybe you see a person limping or favoring their arm and you ask them what's the matter and they will say, "It's just an old football injury acting up." Or perhaps a veteran would answer, "It's an old war wound flaring up again." Well, I have none of those excuses for my limping around the office today. I may be the only person you'll ever hear complaining about an old choir injury. Other people get hurt saving someone's life or performing some amazing athletic feat. Some people hurt themselves doing good or battling against the odds. Me - I hurt myself getting on the stage for a choir rehearsal last night. Who knew singing in the church choir could be so dangerous?

My son and I have joined the Christmas choir at our church. I haven't sung in a choir for years and my son has never done it. But he has a very good voice and sings in the bass range as I do (as mentioned in my post, "Those dangerous Irish Tenors") so not only will he learn a lot but he will also contribute right away. For some reason, most mixed voice choirs always need men. Too many high voices can sound thin but a good bass section can add real body to the sound. Not to discount the other voices - all parts are needed to balance out the timbre and give it a fuller tone. It's also fun to see him interact with other people. He a nice guy and people like him. And he's just fun to be with.

Anyway, at last night's rehearsal, we were supposed to be getting on stage for a full run-through of the 45-minute performance with the band. The steps up to the stage were clogged with, frankly, a lot of people more interested in talking than getting on the stage so we could continue the rehearsal. So, my son, who is 16-years old and in better shape than I am, decided to jump up on the stage (about two and a half feet high) from where we were standing. He did it and headed for the risers where we would be standing. I knew I'd never be able to just jump up there like he did but I figured I could step up that high and not wait for the steps to clear. Well, I got my leg up there and stepped up but I immediately felt something give in my right foot. Why do I think I am younger than I really am? Why am I so impatient? So, there I was not able to put pressure on my foot and I needed to stand there for over 45 minutes. I didn't do my best singing and I was never so glad to get home and put my foot up.

It doesn't feel as bad today. It needs more rest and it will heal. But if you see me limping along, don't ask what's wrong. It's too embarrassing to explain.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Strength of materials

I remember first seeing something that was touted as being stronger than steel in a tire commercial. They showed how they were using Kevlar® in their tire tread and that, pound for pound, it was five times stronger than steel. After that, it seemed every few months someone was developing this or that material that was, pound for pound, stronger than steel. Even natural materials were being mentioned. "Spider silk is, pound for pound, stronger than steel."  I came up with a rule (trying to jump on the bandwagon started by Murphy) by stating,

It seems that anything, pound for pound, is stronger than steel.

What, then, was the use of steel? Why were we still building bridges, car frames and girders for buildings out of steel? Why not just create building materials out of Kevlar or spider silk? You can't build bridges or building from Kevlar for a few reasons, of course. One of them is bulk. The amount of material you would need to reach the strength of steel would be too large. Also, the cost would be prohibitive. Making steel is a fairly cheap process - pound for pound!

Another interesting aspect to this story is that Kevlar was discovered at the Du Pont Company by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965 (and patented in 1966). Yes, a woman developed this amazing, stronger than steel material. It's used in many places including body armor, drum heads (as in the musical instrument)  and in sports equipment. It was also used to make the retractable covering in the design for Olympic Stadium in Montreal for the 1976 Olympics but it was delivered ten years late and needed to be replaced only ten years after that. So, it seems, steel's place in construction may be safe for now.