Birding with Joanna and her Dad

Definitely the most frustrating part of Finals period is not necessarily the stress and the busyness, but the fact that I have to miss spring migration! Finally, I got a chance to head into the Crum this morning with Joanna and her dad, which was a nice treat. We headed out around 1030 am, which is a bit of a late start for me, but it didn’t matter as we found some great birds! Continue reading

Where Things Lie

How many times have I written in this blog since the school year started? Once? Maybe twice? In any case, not frequently enough.

It’s not that I don’t know what to write about. I have a lineup of potential talking points, ready to go. The thing is, I have a lot to say about those talking points, and not enough time to really expand on them to the point where I’d be satisfied with what I had to say. I’d prefer not to spend only a single paragraph talking about Global Warming, for instance, but that’s all it seems I have time for these days. I guess I could write these posts paragraph-by-paragraph, but I feel like that would lack any consistency in voice and view. If I were to do that, I might as well write a book, or a formal essay for publication or something. Somehow, my blog doesn’t feel like the right forum for that sort of thing anymore.

I’m not abandoning this blog completely, I still plan on writing in it occasionally, for sure. But to fit my more time-constrained lifestyle these days, I’m starting to transfer my thoughts to Twitter instead. So if you’re still interested in where I’m at these days, subscribe to this blog’s rss feed, and follow me on Twitter. Links continue to my posted at my del.icio.us page. And thanks for keeping up!

Spring Migration Timing

Currently re-reading Scott Weidensaul’s Living on the Wind, a personal account of bird migration in the Americas, while studying how and why birds migrate, and what the future of migratory bird conversation looks like. In high school, it was one of my favorite books, as it combined both my scientific fascination of birds along with my more personal connection to birds and their environments. There’s a lot of really scientifically interesting stuff on the mechanisms of bird migration, but there’s also some really emotional stuff about the death of thousands of Swainson’s Hawks due to insecticides in Argentina, for instance.

Re-reading it now, it’s not quite as good as I remembered. The book doesn’t have a clear narrative arc, which I’m fine with, but it also doesn’t do the ‘sprawling New Yorker style’ that McPhee does so well, and that I’ve been reading so much of lately. Instead, there really doesn’t seem to be much of a structure at all, and feels like facts and stories haphazardly thrown together. There are probably better ways to structure this book.

Anyways, one small factoid caught my attention as I was reading the second chapter. It was mentioned that birds know when to migrate based primarily on two factors: genetic predisposition, and photoperiod (length of daylight). Continue reading

Rain Dogs

A few months ago I saw Knocked Up, and it was pretty good, but the reason I’m bringing it up now is because recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Waits, and I just now remembered a scene in the movie where one of the stoners is wearing a Rain Dogs t-shirt, and I was probably the only person in the theater who noticed that, and laughed. Along those same lines, the album’s Wikipedia article tells me that one of the guitarists in Panic! at the Disco has Rain Dogs lyrics tattooed on his wrists. What?

Maybe it’s the indie elitist in me protecting hallowed artistic principles from being exposed to the unsophisticated bourgeois, because that could lead to ruin! Joking aside, despite all the bizarre attributes of Mr. Waits and his music, I think that I always realized that at its core, his music is really quite simple. His songs are pretty much all folk or blues melodies, but he mangles them with his trainwreck of a voice, the noisy avant-garde jazz instrumentation, and the sometimes disturbing lyrics. At its core, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the uneducated masses having the ability to enjoy Rain Dogs, because it’s really no different in structure from what everyone’s heard before. Starostin noted this before, but Rain Dogs is a great album that can appeal to the common consumer with its traditional structures and melodies, but thrill the experimental connoisseur with its exhilarating voicings and backdrops, and finding that collision of accessibility and experimentation is really at the core of every music fan’s lifelong search. Continue reading

The RBC Center is the Entertaiment Mecca of Raleigh, North Carolina

Couldn’t find the words…should’ve brought a poet…

The End of Harry Potter: Predictions

Disclaimer: Obviously, I haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet, so what follows are some predictions I’m making on what will happen. I correctly predicted the ending for book 6, so who knows, maybe my strategies and hunches will work again. That said, if you want a clean slate heading into your reading, avoid this post. But if you’re curious and speculative like me, I’d love some feedback. Again, what follows are just predictions, reader discretion advised, so I’m not responsible for totally ruining your appreciation.

I knew Dumbledore was going to die in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince once I took a look at the prominent place he had on the book’s cover. Off the top of my head, every other book in the series features Harry alone, and so Dumbledore’s presence told me that his place was going to be prominent, and given the book’s tone and place in the series, the only logical conclusion would be that he wouldn’t make it to the end. And that turned out to be correct. Continue reading

Coming Around on Animal Collective


Photo by feinsteinphotos

The hipster adoration of the band Animal Collective used to completely mystify me. What was so extraordinary about ten minute songs full of moaning and the occasional tribal drums? At least, that was the impression I got during my background listening of Feels, the one song I heard off Sung Tongs, and the completely uninformative and bizarre Pitchfork review for Here Comes the Indian, which undoubtedly goes into the annals of worst reviews ever.

But I’ve been coming around on them recently. It all started with the new Panda Bear album Person Pitch (PB is a member of AC, for those who weren’t aware). The album seems to be the frontrunner for Hipinion’s album of the year, and a few of my trusted friends and colleagues gave the album high praise too, so a few weeks ago I decided to revisit it. My first listen, in the wake of Pitchfork’s laudatory Best New Music labeling, was not a good listen, as I never got past the first track ‘Comfy in Nautica’. Continue reading