Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy New Year

Holidays went well, good family visits and good loafing and reading.

But, have had a cold for the last 6 days. Not a bad one, but enough to make me spend all weekend under a blanket on the couch with football on reading. Missed music last week, probably will skip this week as well.

I was filing some of my youngest's textbooks on the basement and came across "The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution", by Luigi Luca and Francesco Cavalli-Sforza, 1995. A lot of stuff I already knew -- I thought about not reading it when I saw the 1995 publishing date, but, "diaspora" is such a great word, I went on and read it. There were some points interestingly presented:

  • The Basques seem to be the last remnants of hunter-gatherer Cro-Magnons who were left as the rest of Europe was settled by farmers moving out from the Fertile Crescent;
  • The evolution of language and genes follow similar paths across the globe;
  • The words that tend to evolve most slowly are: the numbers 1, 2, and 3 and the names of parts of the body.
  • Some of these are close to being the same in languages all around the world.
Still having fun with Google Sky and answering questions there. Had a scare when my local settings seemed to get screwed up, but I recovered from it OK. Still need to figure out how to post some of this stuff, if for nothing else but to get it backed up.

Got some cool stuff for christmas. Many new bird feeders. Somehow I think my wife prefers me watching birds out the kitchen windows to playing guitar in various bars and dives. Go figure. There was a hawk sitting in one of the arbor vitae on the left of the yard a week or so ago. It flew off, it had 3 dark bars across its tail. I think it's a Cooper's hawk. The bird book says they like to stake out bird feeders. Still getting juncos, sparrows, finches, chickadees, and doves, and still occasionally see the Carolina wren.

My in-laws gave me Apple TV for xmas. So, the iPod for your home entertainment system. It's pretty cool, can view the pictures on my hard drive, listen to my iTunes, watch YouTube videos (?!?!?). Not sure how to proceed with films tho. I bought "Tombstone" (of course) from iTunes for $9.95 to have something to play with. Quality is lovely, but an hour or so to download and then sync to the Apple TV seems highly non- spur-of-the-moment. I thought I would rip my few existing DVDs, but, you have to buy some third party software to do that and so far it doesn't work well: pixelation, slight pauses, vague slow-motion. Their (automated) tech support sent some suggestions, I need to play with it some more. But, at an hour a pop, it's an easy thing to put off.

So, not sure how to handle movies. We had started renting more movies OnDemand from the cable: $4, starts immediately, very convenient. But, not HD. They are offering a few HD movies, but for $6. The upsampling on my DVD player works great, so renting DVDs still seems the best way to go -- $4 for near HD quality.

I don't want to fool with NetFlix. I think iTunes is going to offer movie rentals. If they do that, and then will let you buy for an upcharge for a movie you really like, that might be the way to go.

I also for xmas got a beautiful nickel flute. I was pleased to find that I could blow about 2-1/3 of the 3 octaves available on a flute -- for about 5 minutes before my lips gave out. So, no problem, I figured I'd play for 5-10 minutes every day until my embouchure came back. Then, after around 5 days, tragedy. My left thumb is now screwed up from bending it back, on the neck of a guitar. Guess what you use to support a flute? Two bent back thumbs. I got a spot in the 2nd joint of my right thumb on the palm side that produces excruciating pain when pressed. And it seems to be spreading to the 1st and 3rd joints.

It ain't fair, getting old sucks!!!