Sunday, November 25, 2007

Death From Above

So, it's early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, I'm watching the birds out the kitchen window as I do food prep for the big dinner, I've turned to talk to my wife, and we both hear a loud thump from the back. We look out the window and on the ground right in front of me, below the bird feeders, is a ~16-20" hawk with a starling in its talons. It sat there about 30 seconds before flying off -- and I turned my head just as it did, so I didn't see much of it then (loser). Checking the bird book, I don't think it was one of the red-tails that we normally have around. I think it was possibly a Cooper's Hawk, but more likely a peregrine falcon -- we have those in Lexington.

Earlier I had counted a dozen juncos -- confirmed as juncos because they like to feed on the ground, and have white on the outside of their tails. Also around a dozen purple finches, which like the normal birdseed rather than thistle that the goldfinches like. Also saw a couple of titmice at my in-laws in Louisville.

A new TOE! A new TOE! Had some fun a couple of days ago attempting to help these links go viral:

Way cool stuff, this is almost like the quintessence of elegance.

Music-wise, had a good time playing at O'Neill's last Wednesday, my youngest daughter sang "No Ordinary Love", my oldest daughter sang "Crazy". They had fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Bird

I can't help it, a new bird is just so exciting ... And the new bird is ... a tufted titmouse. Sparrow sized, gray on top, white underneath, a crested head like a cardinal. Plus, we have two carolina wrens now, and around 4 juncos.

Interesting, to hear evolutionary psychology coming out of another mouth. My wife said "I keep getting these tunes stuck in my head and can't get rid of them. Surely there could never have been any evolutionary advantage in that." -- how wonderfully put!

I of course immediately thought of TOOCITBOTBM. The bicameral mind carried out its programs to the accompaniment of chanting. So according to Jaynes, the tune that you can't get out you head was what helped you get your days work done, prior to 3400 years ago.

The music thing seems to be taking way more of my time. I'm still 2 months behind on the magazine stack. And my iTunes has 242 songs in the "unrated" smart playlist, need to get those processed.

Meanwhile, kind of having a band going has got me back working up more songs, arranging playlists, etc. Our young bass player I don't know about tho. Definitely have to figure out how to get him to play less. He missed Sunday before last and I played bass the whole time. Did better than I expected with playing bass and singing -- the vocals only decided they needed to be in unison with the bass line a couple of times. And, with having to do both at once, I definitely kept the bass lines nice and simple.

Meanwhile, my friend Patrick, who is drumming, and who is almost the archetype of jacks of all trades, that same Sunday revealed another superpower -- he has perfect pitch!

I read something a couple of weeks ago, perfect pitch is a lot more common amongst speakers of tonal languages such as Chinese. Makes sense.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Nuns -- No Sense of Humor"

So after calling for jokes to combat theism, I find it odd to have made the following post to the KASES forum, in response to a post about an article claiming that Japanese researchers had found a bacteria which was the true cause of global warming -- which was a clever spoof, that conservative pundits including RL (sorry, I can't put the name here) of course quoted incessantly:
I think we all find such spoofs amusing, and get some good schadenfreude from having the stupidity of conservative pundits prominently displayed.

However, I think we already knew that these guys were stupid. And, a year from now, chances are that the spoof origin will be forgotten and the herd mind will remember only that there was a Japanese study refuting human caused global warming.

"A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth." -- Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, inventor of The Big Lie.

My point is, I don't think that the spoofers are helping us out. We should use all available bandwidth for facts, intelligent discussion, etc, rather than for misinformation, no matter how amusing.

"Nuns -- no sense of humor" -- The Kargan (the 1st Highlander movie).

Man, how soon can we get rid of our current moronic government and try to salvage our country? The euro is at almost $1.50. Well, maybe the world will be a better place when the United States is a Former Superpower.

Interesting tho, the power of speaking a name, which now includes writing it. Kind of like the Wizard of Earthsea and other fantasy stories, where magic is based on knowing the true names of things, and you don't speak the names of things you want to leave you alone. If I had used the full name of RL, I would at some level validating him -- at a minimum, by the Google search algorithm.

We all remark at work on how, you have a problem you can't seem to figure out, you get someone to come look at it with you, in explaining the problem to the other person verbally, a large percentage of the time you figure the problem out. Our theory is that the verbalization brings more of your brain to bear on the problem.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Birds, New Birds!

So the dark-eyed juncos from the last post are confirmed from the bird book. Today:
  1. The juncos were back;
  2. The downy woodpecker was back -- he definitely likes the suet;
  3. A new bird! A carolina wren -- orangish color, teardrop-shaped wren body, a white racing stripe on its head with dark above and below, kind of like a chipmunk. I have seen common house wrens before, identifiable by their 4-note song, A-E-G-C. I noticed the carolina wren in the back trees by his song, a cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep on the same note I had not heard before. Then it came to the feeders several times.
  4. We have at least 3 chickadees. I thought we only had 2, but there were clearly 3 visible at the same time today. Probably two males, as 1 was chasing another. Maybe the offspring? I heard the chickadees song today, it is still really hard for me to capture bird songs such that I can recognize them. The chickadees seem to be very used to human presence, they were coming to the main old feeder as I was working on the new one 3 feet away.
My wife seems to approve of my birding interest, she has bought me a feeder pole, now with 6 places for feeders and 2 suet cages attached. Need to find some more feeders, preferably eclectic. That's what I do now when my wife drags me to arts/crafts fairs, shop for bird feeders.

Our neighbor 2 doors down has 3 cats tho, and they are definitely staking out the feeders and birdbath. Need to google up cat frustration strategies ...

As of tomorrow, we may have officially have achieved Basement Band. I invited a nice young guitarist (he runs his own software company) from the blues jam to come over tomorrow -- if he would agree to play bass. He accepted, so today I went out our most excellent local guitar shop Willcutt Guitars and got a 5-string Fender Jazz bass (Mexican) and an Ampeg BA115 bass amp, 100 watts, 1-15" speaker. Sounds pretty jammin'. So tomorrow, 2-4, we will have Achieved Band -- drums, bass, 2 guitars, woo-hoo!

So at 1st I'm thinking, "Got the bass, I'm done", then I start thinking, "Wait a minute, what about a PA and mikes?" That has classically always been the real determiner of the existence of A Band -- that someone has sprung for a PA system. Oops. I think I'm going to wait at least a few months on that.

Need to come up with different tags for "Music I am listening to" vs. "Playing music". Suggestions?