Following up

Spring

I mentioned that I’d retired my winter jacket for the Spring on
Good Friday. This turns out to have been a
couple of days early, as there was a cold, raw wind on Easter
Sunday morning. Since then, my lightweight spring jacket has been
fine, though.

Baseball

Immediately after the Opening Day game that I wrote about, the Red Sox all (except first baseman
Kevin Youkilis) went into hitting slumps, and the starting
pitchers all had trouble getting hitters out. Luckily, the
defense and the bullpen were solid.
Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe wrote an article saying:

So the day after Beckett said the Sox have to pitch
better, have to play better, have to do everything better, nothing
was better.

And a disgruntled fan commented:

I fully understand that it is early but like Yogi
Berra once said It can get late early!
sportsbozo1

This week they seem to have gotten everything better, and the
starting pitchers are pitching for 6 and 7 innings and the hitters
are hitting the way we expect them to.

More transcription woes

I didn’t get the corrections to Upon a hill right the first
time. All the parts ended at the same time, but for every
cadence, the cantus part cadenced later than the other two parts.
I didn’t notice listening to the MIDI file, but
when the woman singing that part, who’s a very experienced singer,
was having real trouble making it sound right, I looked at the
score, and made some more adjustments.

Handmaid’s Tale

Read the Mccarthy review after posting my review, I think the
book has gotten a lot more scary since 1986.

Chocolate Chip Brioche

I went to a large party last night and baked two batches of my
bread machine brioche, one with fruit and nuts
and one with chocolate chips. People liked both of them, but I
don’t know that I’ll repeat the chocolate chip one. One of the
points of that recipe is how much fun the dough is to play with,
and with the warm chocolate chips in it, it isn’t as much fun.

Following up

This is from the spindle; I’m in Fall River celebrating the
ancient Slavic fertility rites.

Dune

I posted a review of the
movie Dune
a couple of weeks ago, and said I wasn’t competent to review the
book
since I hadn’t read it for too many decades.

The tor.com blog has recently
posted a fairly good review
of the book, if you were looking for one of those.

In general, tor.com is a good place to go for literate
discussion of science fiction, although it’s a pity that they
don’t usually put out electronic editions of their books.

Baseball

Last Wednesday, I posted about opening day,
and what a good baseball game it was. Unfortunately, I’ve
watched at least pieces of all the games since, and they
weren’t anything like as good:

  • The Red Sox haven’t won any of them.
  • Their pitching hasn’t been particularly sharp.
  • They’ve been doing their usual amount of hitting, but
    leaving lots of men on base.

It’s early to give up on them, but it would have been nice if they’d
continued how good they were on Tuesday.

Other signs of Spring

In the opening day
post,
I wrote about all the different ways you decide it’s
really Spring. The sartorial one happened for me on Friday: I
cleaned out the pockets of my winter jacket and moved the
essential stuff to a lighter jacket and put the winter one in
the laundry. Of course a major reason the lighter jacket feels
lighter is that I put only a normal amount of change in the
pocket, instead of the amount that had accumulated all winter in
the winter jacket.

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Opening Day

There are lots of events that can signal the start of
Spring:

Astronomical Spring, or the Vernal Equinox,when the Sun is
overhead at noon on the Equator. The news media tells you about
this, but the actual lengthening of the day has been evident for
some time when it happens. This happened a couple of weeks ago.

Local astronomical, when the sun gets high enough while it’s
still in the east to peep
through my northeast bedroom windows. By the calendar, this has
probably happened, but it’s been cloudy enough, and I’ve been
waking up late enough, that it hasn’t actually bothered me yet.
(This is an unwelcome sign of Spring — I love having sunny rooms
once I’m up and about, but I prefer the bedroom to stay dark until
I’m ready for sunshine.)

Local bureaucratic Spring, when the Cambridge Department of
Public Works starts picking up yard waste in specially marked
bins. This starts this week; tomorrow in my neighborhood.

Religious Spring, Easter in my case. Next Sunday. Less useful
than some of the others for complaining about the weather being
cold this year, since it’s a movable feast.

Athletic Spring, here in Boston Opening Day for the Red Sox, or
in particularly bad years, the Boston Marathon a couple of weeks
later. Yesterday was Opening Day, and it was a good one.

The game was a particularly good one, with the right team
winning, but the other team playing well. All the things you were
hoping for from the Red Sox players happened:

  • Josh Beckett, the ace pitcher, was the dominant force of two
    years ago instead of the experienced but struggling pitcher of
    most of last year.
  • Mike Lowell, whose injured hip made him painful to watch the
    end of last season, hit a standup double and didn’t look
    uncomfortable at all.
  • Jason Varitek, one of the games great pitcher-handling
    catchers, hit a home run. He was struggling offensively all
    last year, and was batting ninth.
  • David Ortiz hit a single and drew a walk, and looked like he
    was having fun hitting again. Most of last year, he was
    struggling with an injury, and didn’t.
  • Dustin Pedroia hit a home run. After being rookie of the
    year two years ago and MVP last year, he still looks like he
    can’t quite believe he’s in the big leagues.
  • Jed Lowrie, the new shortstop, made several good plays.
  • Jonathan Papelbon did his usual thing, getting three outs
    quickly in the ninth inning.

The winning margin would have been even bigger if Tampa Bay
hadn’t made some good plays — I particularly remember one by the
the first baseman, Carlos Pena, stabbing a hard-hit ground ball on
the way by him for an unassisted play at first base.

The ceremonies are always fun — the planes fly by in formation
just at the end of the National Anthem; this year they had Senator
Kennedy throw out the first pitch. He also looked like he
couldn’t quite believe he was in the big leagues.

The Boston classical music establishment hit what seemed to me
a sour note — Keith Lockhart, in a Red Sox t-shirt, directed
members of the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in
concert attire. They would have looked more like a team (and like
their audience) if they’d
all been wearing the t-shirts. What I like about Keith Lockhart
is that he does always look like he has the job he always wanted
when he was growing up.

Following up

Logitech 550

I said in my first post about my
Logitech Universal Remote that there wasn’t an easy way to program it
under Linux. Further googling revealed that it might not be as
hard as I thought, since the actual interface is actually through
the Logitech web site
and you only need the command line to upload a file to the
remote. I have now tried this out.

I started with these ubuntuforums
instructions
for installing concordance and congruity. I haven’t had a lot
of luck getting udev to let me use devices as a user, so I also
used these
instructions
for running the programs as root.

The upshot is that it didn’t work. The web interface for telling Logitech what you want your
remote to do is the same as what you get running the program on
Windows, but on my system, running congruity on the file the web
program gives you to download doesn’t seem to change what the
remote does at all. YMMV.

But the good news is that the Logitech website does save
everything you did, and when you run their program on Windows, you
get the work you did on the website. So you can
do your programming at the logitech
site
, and then run the windows program to update the
remote.

So I have now fixed some of the problems I reported in my last
post
, about the volume control on the DVD and the aspect ratio
on the TV set.

Scores

The advantage of posting emails
to lists is that you do get comments on what you said. A couple
of people pointed out that you can get good scores out of
lilypond; it just takes some tweaking. I replied that I had
assumed that (and in fact I do it sometimes for non-renaissance
stuff), but that for me the badness of Lily’s scores is a feature,
since I don’t believe people should play from them.

You can read the whole thread (quite rambling) in the
lilypond-users archives for yesterday
, starting at the
contribution before mine in the thread titled “Re: Review of
Valentin’s opera”.

Transcription of Weelkes

I have uploaded the transcription I talked
about on Tuesday.

Taxes

I made a quick post yesterday on the
grounds that I had to go do my taxes. I spent about 4 hours, and got the essential work done. There
will be another session for filing when I get an answer to a
question from my financial advisor, but the fiddly stuff about
finding all the records and adding up all the little pieces is all
done.

The Amazon Download seemed complicated
compared to putting a CD into a drive, but maybe it’s because I’m
not really used to doing much on Windows. Once you got the tax
program downloaded (which required installing the Amazon download
program), you had to find the setup program, which they gave you
the filename of in a text document, so you couldn’t just follow
the link.

TaxCut made one fairly major blunder
which if I hadn’t caught it would have cost me several hundred
dollars in taxes and penalties. It didn’t ask me if the money I was withdrawing
from the Roth IRA was taxable or not, and just assumed it was.
I’m sure this is a bug. It took a bit of clicking to find the
place where I could enter the basis of the IRA, but I think I have
a reasonable number for the taxes now.

MLB TV

I implied a couple of weeks ago that I
didn’t think the MLB TV worked
very well. One of the things I had on while doing my taxes was
the Spring training game between the Red Sox and the Mets, and the
quality on my Mythbuntu box with the DVI
connection to the TV was quite acceptable.

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.