April 28th, 2010

Daywander

KetchupRagCover.jpgWe're going to see just how fat our pipes are tomorrow, when Canonical cranks open the spigot for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. It's an LTS release, and I'm guessing that a lot more people will be grabbing it than usual. I may download it just to see how well the torrent works on Day One; in fact, I have a new hard drive on the shelf for my SX270 here and if abundant time presents itself this week (possible) I may swap in the new drive and install the release. This is the second-to-last machine I have that still uses the System Commander bootloader app, and I'd really much rather have grub everywhere.

Other pipes will also be in play: We got a note from the condo association last week telling us that the water will be shut off for eight hours tomorrow while the plumbers fix our backflow valves. We may fill the bathtub for emergencies tomorrow morning, but I suspect that Carol and I will go shopping (there's a Mephisto store in Deerfield) and then stop over at Gretchen and Bill's to run the dogs and take a bathroom break.

Interestingly, the sunspot machine more or less shut down two weeks ago, after switching on roughly January 1 and keeping a spot or two (though mostly small ones) in view almost all the time since then. Some have been predicting a double bottom to the current solar minimum, and if we run a long stretch of spotless days going forward, this may be Bottom 2.

Speaking of double bottoms...while I was in the checkout line at Bed, Bath & Beyond the other day buying Tassimo coffee disks, I was confronted with a POS display for a product called BootyPop. I guess the best way to describe it is a padded bra for your butt. Really; I write SF, not fantasy, and couldn't make up anything that bizarre.

RedOnionCover.jpgWe had dinner with the family the other night at Portillo's in Crystal Lake, and whenever we eat at a place like that, I wander around gaping at what I call "junkwalls"--old stuff tacked to the wallboard to make the place look atmospheric and (in this case) 1925-ish. Close to our table was a framed piece of sheet music for a song called "Ketchup Rag." It was published in 1910 and is now in the public domain, and you can see the piece here. Writing entire songs about condiments seemed peculiar, but once I got online, I discovered that ragtime had an affinity for food, and there were in fact a Cucumber Rag, a Red Onion Rag, an Oyster Rag, and a Pickled Beets Rag, among many, many others. I confess a curiosity as to what the Ketchup Rag sounds like (it's a complicated piece, that's for sure) and discovered to my abject delight that there is such a thing as sheet music OCR. One example that particularly intrigues me is Audiveris, a Java app that can evidently scarf down a PDF and spit out a MIDI file. I'm downloading it even as I type, and with some luck will get it working later this evening. If it works (or even if it doesn't) you'll see a summary in the next Odd Lots.