World Baseball Classic

I’ve spent good chunks of the last three evenings watching the
finals and semifinals of the World Baseball
Classic
(WBC). Here are some random thoughts:

  • Other things being equal, I was rooting for the team with
    the fewest major leaguers on it. I’ve always found it offensive
    that the Major League
    championship should be called the World Series, when all the
    eligible teams are located in two countries, neither of which
    seems to ever win a real world
    championship. Of course, other things weren’t equal — I
    usually felt like rooting for the Red Sox players I like, and I
    watched the finals with a Japanese friend, so I rooted for Japan
    over South Korea, even though Japan has several times as many major
    leaguers on their team.
  • I was annoyed that they abandoned play-by-play for a large
    chunk of the close-fought final game for an interview with the
    Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Baseball broadcasts tend
    to do this more casually than I like anyway, but you would think
    they would take a championship final a little more
    seriously.
  • Besides, the interview was not illuminating. They asked the
    Commissioner what could be done it increase fan interest in the
    WBC. Nobody mentioned the idea of putting more of it on TV,
    or some of it on broadcast TV.
  • If the Commissioner had been asked about TV coverage, he
    probably would have said that people with internet connections
    could watch it online at mlb.com. This isn’t true for anyone I
    know who’s tried. Admittedly I tried 3 years ago, but a friend
    who’s a big baseball fan and doesn’t have cable tried this
    month, using his Mac with DSL, and found it unwatchable.
  • An article I read before the WBC started said that it wasn’t
    going to be a real world championship until you could get 16
    teams without using weak entries like Italy and the
    Netherlands. In fact, both of those teams did quite well. What
    you would write with 20/20 hindsight is that you won’t get a
    good world championship until the semifinals can have 4 teams
    that are all better then Venezuela was on Saturday against South
    Korea. I didn’t see enough of the preceding games to be able to
    tell whether Venezuela was better at the beginning or whether
    they really got to the semifinals by beating teams that were
    even worse than that. The couple of games I saw earlier in the
    tournament were better than that.
  • I couldn’t figure out what the point of the pitch-count
    limitations was. I assume it’s to mollify the MLB
    managers who don’t want their players used up before the season
    starts. But it might have been to prevent a Davis Cup type
    situation where a country with a good pitcher and one or two
    good hitters can embarrass the countries with lots of good
    players. But that would be good television, if it
    happened.
  • The official scorers seemed a little error-happy to me. I
    saw several plays ruled as errors that if the player had made
    it, I would have been impressed. One particularly memorable one
    was on Sunday night, when Ichiro was batting for Japan against
    the US team. He hit what normally would be a routine ground
    ball to third except:

    • Ichiro is one of the fastest runners in baseball, so he
      beat it out.
    • The third baseman’s throw to first was a little
      wide.
    • The US team didn’t have a real first baseman, and were
      using a converted shortstop, and he had his right foot on the
      bag, when the throw was wide to his right side, so he could
      have stretched better if he’d had his left foot on the bag.

    I would have probably given Ichiro a hit, but the scorer ruled
    it a throwing error by the third baseman.

Spams and Scams

Boing-Boing
gleefully reports that the US attorneys’ office mistook a classic Nigerian
spam for a letter from a distressed Madoff investor in its
submission to Madoff’s sentencing judge.

It is funny, but reading through the whole document, with the
several hundred possibly real letters and emails isn’t funny at
all. The spam was probably just a slip of a finger — easy to do
if you’re moving hundreds of emails into one document. But all
those people who want to encourage the judge to lock Madoff up and
throw away the key, and especially the ones who want sympathy for
having lost their entire life’s savings, are really sad.

I’m not saying he shouldn’t be locked up — obviously one of the
things someone should be working on is finding all the money,
which will be easier if he doesn’t have unrestricted communication
with the people who can help him hide it. And I’m not saying I
don’t sympathize with the people who are really mad and spending
some of their mental energy inventing suitable punishments for
him.

But I really have very little sympathy for the people who
invested all their money in one place and have lost it all. You
don’t need a degree in high finance to have heard the proverbs
about putting all your eggs in one basket.

And while I understand the people wanting to invent the
punishments, I really don’t understand either the original person
or the US attorney wanting that kind of fantasy life to be part of
the public record.

Site redesign II: The Store

I was forcibly reminded this week of one of the major
weaknesses of the current site design, so I got energetic this
morning and replaced it with a different weakness.

The problem is that when I started publishing on the web I had
the fantasy that this would lead to a thriving (or at least
regular) print publication business. And at least until this morning, there were still
vestiges of this fantasy on the site where I claim that I will send you a
handsome spiral bound book for the costs of printing and
shipping.

This would probably be an OK way to spend a couple of hours a
week if you had several orders a week and could get reimbursed
for the time spent finding stamps and going to the post office
and adding paper to the printer over several orders. But if
there’s less than an order a month, you would have to charge a
lot to get your time compensated by one order.

Quick fix

What happened this week is that I got an order from someone who
gets really frustrated and angry whenever she has to deal with
computers. This is the only way I’ve ever seen her; a mutual
friend whom I trust assures me that in other contexts she’s
quite pleasant, and not at all stupid. My first interaction
with her was when she was ranting at me because she was trying
to print a book and had printed 40 pages and only had half
of it. Since the book has 21 songs and each song takes 4 pages,
this didn’t seem like a cause for wonder or astonishment or anger
to me. Anyway, none of our subsequent interactions has been any
more fun than that one, and they’ve been nothing like as good a
story.

When I gave up on having an easy, hassle-free shopping cart on
my own site, I started using lulu.com to do not only
printing but also downloads of PDF’s. I kept the PDF’s that I’d
previously allowed people to download for free on my own site,
especially since the lulu shopping cart doesn’t know about
multi-volume sets, so there’s no way to enforce that people buy
all the part books if you’re printing in part books.

But this seemed like an emergency, so I put the canzonets for
two voices up as two separate books, with dire warnings that you
can’t play the pieces unless you buy both books.

Longer term plans

If this works, and I don’t get lots of angry phone calls and
emails from people who only got half the pieces, I’ll put up the
Morley Canzonets for three voices and other part books.

Longer term, if I really want a publisher, I should get a block
of ISBN’s and get listed on Amazon and some of the book
wholesalers. I’ve been reading the Self-Publishing yahoo group,
and it looks like the people who are trying to get rich selling
the picks and shovels to the internet entrepreneurs have some
picks and shovels for self publishing that work some of the time
for some people.

It would be a modest investment in money, and a fairly large
investment in time, so I don’t know for sure that I’ll do it,
but I do think about it.

Canzonets for two voices are now at Lulu.com

I got another order for me to print out the Morley Canzonets for two
voices
, and realized I didn’t really want to be in the
printing business. So I put the hard copies up at the Serpent Publications
store
on lulu.com.

I’ve avoided doing that for any of the part books, because I
don’t have enough control over the lulu store to enforce that
anyone who orders one part also orders the other, unless they
say they really, really, really want to do that.
But I put it very clearly into the descriptions, so I’m going to
hope for the best.

I’ve been offering the PDF download for free from this site for
almost a decade. (It looks like the PDF file went up on September
17, 1999.) So I’m going to continue to do that, although I may at
some point move the download to the lulu store.

Elegy

I wasn’t expecting that much from this
movie,
because The
Wackness
, also starring Ben
Kingsley
, which was
hyped with it,was quite disappointing.

But this one you should see if you like good writing and acting
and pictures of the life of rich New Yorkers. Ben Kingsley really
draws you into his character in a way that doesn’t often happen.

Minor irritations

One scene has the Ben Kingsley character playing the piano with
a metronome going. The beat of the metronome has no relationship
whatsover to the beat of the music.

Dennis
Hopper
‘s accent kept reminding me
of the fake American accents British actors always put on. He was
born in Kansas, so he presumably comes by whatever accent he has
honestly, and maybe his is just the one the British actors use,
and I don’t hear it often enough to think of it as real.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=laymusicorg-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B001OXLGJQ&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=laymusicorg-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B001J9KJ48&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Logitech Harmony Remote

I got a good price from eCost.com on a Logitech
Harmony 550 Universal Remote.

I had tried the $20 “universal” remotes and found they didn’t work
with all my devices and didn’t completely emulate even the devices
they did work with.

For instance, I had a Sony remote that
would turn my Sony Receiver from the 1980’s on and off, but not
let me change the FM stations with the numeric keypad. And none
of the cheap ones I bought would work with my cheap Apex DVD
player.

Both the TV remote and the Cable Box remote claimed
to be able to operate the other device. The Cable Box will indeed
turn the TV set off and on, but not select the input or the aspect
ratio, both of which are important if you want to use the TV set
for watching DVD’s. The TV remote never did anything at all for
either the cable box or the DVD player.

So my coffee table
had a forest of remotes and I could never find the right one when
I needed it. I’d read reviews that said the Logitech remotes were
better, but they seemed pricey. I’ve been feeling less poor this
year than for the last two or three years, so when I saw the one
on eCost for less than $50, I ordered it.

Results

It seems to work. It does do all my devices; it lets me change
the FM stations on the receiver; I can tell it “watch TV and it
turns on the TV set and the cable box and switches the TV input to
the right one for the cable box.

Certainly if you have a
device that needs to be programmed, hooking it up to a computer
and running a program is a better idea than trying to enter codes
through a keypad.

The program that’s supplied with the
remote needs a commercial OS (Windows or Mac). Googling did turn
up a command line Linux program that will do some things, but it
sounded harder than finding the right remote in the remote forest.
I didn’t check whether the windows version would run under Wine;
my laptop still has windows on it, so I just boot it into windows
when I need windows to do something. But Logitech should be
encouraged to provide a Linux option.

I’m enjoying using
the remote with just the out-of-the-box programming I did, but it
still needs more programming — I’m going to check whether I
really like having the sound from the TV set played through the
stereo set better than through the TV speakers, and then program
it to also turn on the stereo and switch to the right input
source.

I don’t have the “watch TV” and “Play DVD” settings
set right yet so that I can easily switch between them. But I’m
sure it’s possible.

Some of the programming seems odd —
there isn’t a “power off” button that will work all the devices.
The thing that looks like it should do that is actually an “end
activity” button. So if you’re doing the “watch TV activity, it
does turn off both the cable box and the TV set. But if you
haven’t defined a “Listen to radio” activity, you have to scroll
through 5 or 6 screens on the AV receiver device to find the power
on/off. I think you can fix that by programming some button to be
power on/off, but it seems strange not to have it right there
without doing that.

So on the whole, I recommend the Logitech remotes over the
cheaper ones, if you think programming them to
do what you want will be easier or more fun than finding the
remote you need in your coffe-table remote forest, and if you have
a computer that’s connected to the network running a commercial OS.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=laymusicorg-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000EUGX70&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Beet-walnut salad, with tofu croutons

Mark Bittman’s Minimalist
column
in the New York Times food section last week had a
recipe for beet walnut salad.

It sounded good, and I had intended to make it for the
after-rehearsal food for the band on Tuesday. But one of the
members said there was a large tray of salad left over from some
conference where she works, so although I had already diced and
roasted the beets, I didn’t get around to making them into salad
until Wednesday night.

The band had made a large dent in the salad on Tuesday, but
there was still a lot left, so I took some of that and added the
beets and walnuts to it. I made a very basic vinaigrette with
just olive oil, vinegar and mustard.

In order to make it more of a main
course, I added some tofu croutons, from Bittman’s How
to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
Basically, you cut the block
of tofu into small cubes, flavor them the way you want them, and
put them in a 350°F oven for an hour. I used olive oil mixed
with a mild chile powder and herbes de Provence, salt,
and pepper. I may try 325°F next time; the smallest cubes got
a little charred at 350.

I don’t have anyone else’s comments to pass on, but I’m looking
forward to eating the rest for lunch today. The beets and walnuts
do go very well together — the sweetness of the beets needs some
kind of contrast, which in borscht is the sour of the sour cream,
but the nuttiness of the walnuts is good too.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=laymusicorg-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0764524836&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr