Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I myself have never taken a good picture of a squid, so here is the closest thing I can offer:
That is a relief map (from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, of course) of Monterey Bay. Under the water, there is a canyon comparable to the Grand Canyon, and you betcha there's some creatures way down there. Like the Vampire Squid from Hell--now there's a serious name! As a matter of fact, the creature itself is quite diminuitive, and the only thing that might warrant a "vampire" label is the webbing between its arms, which has the effect of a darkly mysterious cloak.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Like this one.
I never did get close enough to see what flowers were for certain, but I am pretty sure they were buttercups.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
This was the first time I had ever had okra in soup. In fact, it has been quite some time since I had it at all. (My Mom has coated slices of the fresh vegetable in egg and cornmeal and fried with bacon--beyond phenomenal, that, but of course, when you add bacon, you bring any food up to a whole new level!) I got into a bit of an okra frenzy, and have been buying it frozen so I can have a wee bit in soup or in scrambled eggs. Tasty stuff indeed, although texture-oriented eaters stand forewarned--it has been called "slimy."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
This is a hawk from the Birds of Prey exhibit at the Lancaster Poppy Festival in April. The fellow in charge had all manner of interesting birds to display, and he was full of facts about them. . .of course, I didn't write any of it down at the time. I couldn't even tell you the proper name for this creature. The Highland Games at Pleasanton over Labor Day weekend had a similar exhibit, and a chance to get a picture of a falcon.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It is a very cold and windy Sunday afternoon (snow was attempted this morning) so I am more than happy to stick around the house and try a few projects that have been long neglected. One of these was transcribing a reel I liked off a CD. . .well, transcribing is a large exaggeration for what I am doing with it. Luckily, I already have the sheet music; I am just trying to resolve the few, but effective, differences between what I am reading and what I am hearing. Also luckily, Windows Media Player has a feature that allows you to slow down a sound file without changing its pitch. The tone suffers something awful (I'll say up front that listening to a bagpipe like this is quite conducive to nausea) but the notes are true.
If anybody else is in a transcribing mood, here's the way you bring up the play speed monitor:
If you click on the picture, it should get a bit bigger, but in plain prose, the instructions are:
-Open the "Now Playing" screen
-Click the arrow below "Now Playing" to bring up the drop-down menu for that screen
-Click on "Enhancements"
-Click on "Play Speed Settings".
-A gauge should appear in the lower left corner of the screen--set it as far left as you can, and the music slows down.
No, it doesn't sound nice. I never said it sounded nice.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
For those of you who don't have time to follow the link, the short version: an alumnus of Simon Fraser University, who, among other accomplishments, happens to be a pro-grade piper, is one of 16 remaining candidates (out of 5,500 applicants) for the Canadian space program.
Okay, okay, here's an article that's actually about the selection process, with no mention of piping, proving that it is still a pretty interesting subject.
Friday, March 20, 2009
NORTHERN NATIONS MEET TO DISCUSS POLAR BEARS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
I was unaware of this international crisis, though I am quite sympathetic. Opening a door to find a polar bear behind it must be a nasty surprise.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Siwash Rock. It has an interesting Indian legend associated with it. The short version: it was a man who was transformed into a rock as a reward for his generosity. At first, I can't say that appealed to me much as rewards go. On second thought, several thousand years of watching for sunsets like this one mightn't be all bad.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
And, of course, Bear Mountain just has to work its way in somehow!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
- the "y" sound, as in our "yes"
- fricative phonemes rather like the "ch" in "loch"
The letter came to be represented in print by a figure quite similar to a "3". In the passage below (also from the Tolkien/Gordon edition of Gawain), you can see a yogh in each of the top three lines. Many other editions of the poem (including the one I met in school) have had the various yoghs replaced by letters which more clearly mark their pronunciations for a modern audience. In R.A. Waldron's edition, for example, the three "3's" below have been replaced by "gh's" indicating that they were meant to be pronounced as fricatives.
The letter lasted longer in Scots than it did in English, but even there it began to cause some confusion, a small effect of which I'll post tomorrow.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I remembered the conversation when I came across a statement in an Irish fiddle book Mel Bay recently published. The author, Philip Berthoud, was discussing regional styles and pointing out how, due to the wide availability of recordings, regional differences are disappearing. That is, a good number of people are learning from a comparatively few recordings, and styles are becoming more universal; the idiom of regional fiddling is going the way of regional dialects. You can argue for the right or the wrong of it, but all that aside, I thought it was kind of ironic that the very tool that could be used to preserve music "in its day" could also decrease its vibrance.
Quite unrepentant, I should still very much like to hear piobaireachd as it was. All the same, I wonder, if we had been able to record, say Patrick Og MacCrimmon, preserving his technique indefinitely, isn't it likely we would have lost some of the other charms that have filtered into the Great Music since his time?
Thoughts on the amalgamation of fiddle styles sprang from Irish Fiddle Playing: A Guide for the Serious Player, Vol. 2 by Philip J. Berthoud, Mel Bay, 2008
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I was down near General Beale Road, hoping to get a shot at some new wildflower, or at least a new shot at some old wildflowers when I ran across a sandy space. To a beetle, it might have seemed a small desert. Like a desert it had skeletons, or what pass for the skeletons of beetles, bleaching away in the sun--a rather large number of them. I wondered what might have killed so many in one place. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but there was an ominous, silk-lined hole at the edge of the gravel, near the grass.
So I got a wee bit closer (though not as close as this picture makes it look)
And poked at the silk, strong sticky stuff, with a handy twig.
It came out. Very fast. It had many, many legs. It was black. It was about as big as a horse--a Clydesdale, I think. I did not get the picture. In fact, I was suddenly seized by an overwhelming desire to get a picture of an isomeris bush some distance away.
After some time, I persuaded myself that this was a rare opportunity (oh, I was glad that it was rare, all right!) and I should go back and give it a fair try, so I secured a piece of grass that was somewhat longer than the stick (which had shrunk, I was sure, to matchstick size) and tickled at the web again, not very enthusiastically.
I did tease it out once more, noting without due appreciation, the way the hole suddenly flowered into. . .legs. Once more I missed the picture. The creature was almost impossibly quick, and didn't come all the way out of its hole before it popped back down into the darkness. Perhaps when you have eight eyes, you can take in a scene quicker than the rest of us can. Perhaps it formed a sudden resolve to leave anthropology among its unstudied subjects. Anyway, it would not come out again after that, and I saw no sense in pushing my luck. I left.
Useful quote from Principles of Physics by F. Bueche, McGraw-Hill, 1972
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
- The description of ullo was by Stephen Powers, quoted in "Abalone Industry of the California Coast" by Mrs. M. Burton Williams. Printed in Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, Ed. Lummis & Moody, 1908
- The polished abalone shell and the model boat are both in the Monterey Maritime and History Museum. The model was built by Tom Fordham.
- The verse is from "The Abalone Song," attributed to George Sterling and published in California Heritage by John & Laree Caughey
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
What brought on this particular subject was the rediscovery of a note I wrote myself last year, about a "Pfretzchner." I believe this was a German-made viola that I had some slight acquaintance with, but it was the spelling that impressed me most. It would make a grand collective noun for use in linguistics: "a Pfretzchner of consonants".
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
And they call it "fiddleneck" because...
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Like the picture above, this one is almost a year old, and a vaguely similar picture already did find its way onto the blog. This is just north of Tehachapi. I believe the yellow flowers are buttercups (never did settle that last year). When I picked these three pictures, I didn't pay much attention to the mountains. What is odder, they happen also to be the only three local mountains I know by name. So last, but not least, that's Black Mountain off in the distance.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
- The Discovery Channel: The humpback is only one of many strange underwater noises here.
- Discovery of Sound in the Sea: A very interesting page from the University of Rhode Island. . .seems the sea is a very noisy place.
The main thing which struck me about the humpbacks' songs, as you can read here, is that they have a discernable structure, and can be broken down into phrases. Different pods of whales have different variations on the song, and even among those pods, the song changes over time.