Thursday, October 27, 2005

Almost Real-Time

No Amazing Insights to share, but, I did finish a sci-fi novel, so here we go.

Read Robert Reed's "The Well of Stars", sequel to "Marrow". OK space opera, not really much in the way of edge. It clearly has another one coming. Again, I think they need to let you know when you're getting into an extended read. Of course, I sympathize, these guys have families to support. I had high hopes for Reed, based on his Year's Best stories, nothing of his has been great tho.

Music-wise, after complaining about the latest Fiona Apple being too carabet-ish, I have upgraded the last track, "Waltz (Better Than Fine)", to 4 stars -- and it's like cabaret central. Still, a highly memetic (catchy) tune.

The week after I downloaded the Fiona and the new Franz Ferdinand, the top two downloads from iTunes were ... the new Franz Ferdinand and the Fiona Apple. I am such a loser.

Downloaded "Z", by My Morning Jacket, a Louisville band, on the recommendation of a coworker. The tunes were over the acceptable catchiness threshold, 3 stars.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Weblog

In keeping with the original use of blogs, here are some sites I have enjoyed lately. Most are bookmarked in my Wackos folder:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Biodiversity

Species of birds I have observed in/from my yard, in descending frequency:
  1. Robin
  2. Blackbird
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Starling
  5. Cardinal
  6. House Sparrow
  7. Swift
  8. Mockingbird
  9. Bluejay
  10. Pigeon (Rock Dove)
  11. Purple Finch
  12. Goldfinch
  13. Crow
  14. Hummingbird
  15. Chickadee
  16. Red-winged Blackbird
  17. Cowbird
  18. Turkey Buzzard
  19. Canadian Goose
  20. Red-tailed Hawk
  21. Mallard Duck
  22. House Wren
  23. Downy Woodpecker
  24. Flicker
  25. Great Horned Owl
Wild species of mammal I have observed in my yard in the last 5 years:
  1. Squirrel
  2. Rabbit
  3. Chipmunk
  4. Bat
Other wild birds I have seen in Lexington:
  1. Meadowlark
  2. Killdeer
  3. Thrush
  4. Bluebird
  5. Nighthawk
  6. Dark-eyed Junco
  7. Peregrine Falcon
  8. Screech Owl
  9. Barn Swallow
  10. Red-headed Woodpecker
  11. Blue Heron
  12. Northern Oriole
  13. Kingbird
Other wild mammals I have seen in Lexington:
  1. Groundhog
  2. Opossum
  3. Muskrat
I thought I would leave this list and check it in 20 years. But, last month's Scientific American said, most US bird species not endangered. Interesting tho, the birds seem to be awfully successful. And, at my current house where we have lived 15 years, I don't remember seeing a single reptile or amphibian (and no fish). Surprising I have not seen more mammals. I've seen coyotes from the interstate in Ohio, and a fox in Louisville around Beargrass Creek a couple of years ago. I guess the domestic mammals, the cats and dogs, are just too damn successful.

A few years ago I started to make an effort to recognize bird songs. I found it surprisingly hard, given that I'm musical. I did finally get to where I can recognize most of the birds listed above. Mockingbirds are the best.

Didn't bike Sunday, high 40's, overcast, breezy, I loafed. Prior week did 38 miles, Waizenberger Mill and Midway.

Read Richard K Morgan's 4th novel, "Woken Furies". Back to the edgy anti-hero for the 3rd time. Very good read, but for the 1st time he ended with a standard sci-fi deus-ex-machina scientific-relevation-that-will-change-everything. I don't think it destabilizes his world tho.

Also read, after I ran out of reading material (cleared my home magazine stack!) flying home from Minneapolis (pretty skyline), the 3rd novel in the Ender's Shadow series, "Shadow Puppets". Orson Scott Card writes very well, but, I am increasingly convinced that prequels and parallel offerings like this are not a worthwhile use of the paper, or my CPU cycles. I finally went and saw Star Wars Episode III in the theater (yes, it was still playing). 4 stars, my ass -- basically on the 10 point suck scale, Episode I was a 15, Episode II was a 10, this one was a 5 -- a great improvement I guess. With prequels, it's like, OK, check, got that over with. The Dune prequels (I shudder to admit I have read 5 and have only 1 to go) are even worse.

Got some good new music lately. New Franz Ferdinand "You Could Have It So Much Better" has tunes about as catchy as their 1st -- 3 stars. The new Fiona Apple "Extraordinary Machine" is very listenable, but a little to cabaret-ish -- 3 stars. Also got 1st D'Nell album, "1st Magic". Track 3 was the iTunes free download a few weeks ago, very catchy, I went for the whole thing. Reminds me of The Mighty Bop. Very nice dance tracks, London husband/wife sampler/vocalist duo, 3 stars.

Oh, it's official. The transmission on my wife's '96 Exploder with 230K miles is starting to go out. She drives 28 miles to work, I drive 1.5, so we switched cars 3 weeks ago. She was seriously obsessing on the magic car, getting >~= 53 mpg on her commute, not slowing down for curves (acceleration is the enemy of mpg), etc. I still get to drive the magic car on weekends (sigh). I can't believe I'm driving a fucking SUV, I hate the things.