Monday, September 03, 2007

Evolution in Action

Found the 3rd dead bird of the summer in the area by the main bird feeder. It joins another sparrow and a robin as suspected avicide vicims of the blackbirds. We seem to be up to around a dozen blackbirds, and that many sparrows. Still a pair of cardinals, and the chickadees, and lots of mourning doves. Haven't seen any bluejays lately (strong-beaked by the blackbirds?), and the goldfinchs seem to be pretty much gone as well. But, have been seeing a lot of the hummingbirds -- I think at least 2 males, since one keeps driving the other off. Just a while ago I saw the 1st ever red-winged blackbird at the bird bath. Also noticed a chipmonk jump 2 feet straight up to get a drink in the bird bath.

Also this morning, saw a blue heron in the creek that runs alongside Paul's Mill Road, south of Troy KY in southern Woodford county. That creek is 90% dry, even the places where one of the horse farms dammed it. Drought here is definitely severe.

Biked 30 miles in 2h34m this morning, thought I was going to die. I got started at 9:08, I was 10 miles from home on Delaney Ferry Rd and walked the bike up the end of a hill, and was going to call someone to come get me, I was totally hurting. Cramping in my left hip and lower stomach, both calves hurting, not a cloud in the sky. I think I made a mistake , I ate ~1 hour before I left, pecan swirl danish, I will go back to not eating before I bike. But, I took about a 10 minute break and then struggled home. I got home totally overheated and sweat-soaked, I spread a dirty towel on the floor and passed out on it for an hour before I showered.

My youngest daughter, who I am proud to say is now a 3rd grade teacher, was over for supper last night. I was telling her I had worked up "Lay Lady Lay" on the pedal steel, she had never heard the song! (I got called out for insisting that we had to immediately rectify that situation -- "I thought you liked to tell us youngsters to not obsess on old music"). So, downloaded Bob Dylan "Nashville Skyline", 1969. What a great album, what nice songs, including the wonderfully raw (unrehearsed?) duet with Johnny Cash on "Girl from the North Country".

Speaking of pedal steel, I think I have found where the current best pedal steels are coming from: ZumSteel. Looks like you can get a custom-made, top-of-the-line ZumSteel for around $4500. If my left thumb gets worse to where I really have trouble playing guitar, I think I will go for one of these. I was afraid that I would really have trouble figuring out how to play a real pedal steel, but John Hughey of Time Jumpers, and the immortal Buddy Emmons both have extensive training materials out, so I think I can transition from my 6 string open E instument to a real one.

Interestingly, I think I read it at the steel guitar forum that the pedal steel guitar player population is totally aging -- average age in Nashville around 60??? Maybe it's another one of those hard things (requires practice) that the "Guitar Hero" generation doesn't have the time/patience/discipline/whatever to acquire. That book on music I reviewed recently ("This is Your Brain on Music") I think said that to become an expert on anything takes ~10000 hours (2 hrs a day for 10 years?). That seems like a lot ...

I also have a mental note to get a new flute this year, and see how the bad thumbs do with that. Looks like I can get one for around $350.

Listening to "Speak for Yourself", by Imogen Heap, who was Frou Frou. Nice chick pop, 3 stars.

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