August 20th, 2003


Canada Geese

I'm not a big fan of Canada geese. I used to like them OK, but I've been living in very close proximity to them over the past five or six years and have developed quite a few ill feelings toward them. They're loud, they make a mess all over the yard, making it dangerous to walk around barefoot, and they're mean -- they'll hiss and hiss and hiss at you unceasingly. They look like rugby balls with feet and long necks and I've been tempted on more than one occasion to kick them. I never do, though, 'cause that would be wrong. But I'm still timpted. I've also wondered on more than one occasion how tasty Canada geese might be.

So today, while driving to work (already a bit late), imagine my displeasure to find a gaggle of geese attempting to cross a five lane (two lanes either way, and a turning lane) road. No, they don't do it in a bunch -- they string themselves out in a single-file line. Of course they have no concept of the traffic lights or crosswalks. So I sit and watch the geese tie up traffic as they attempt to cross the road.

OK. I'm not a big fan of the Canada geese, but it was pretty funny and cute to watch them tie up traffic.

[Edit: Thanks to carrie for pointing out that they're called "Canada geese," not "canadian geese." I have edited this journal accordingly. Additionally, I found evidence that I'm not alone in my dislike of these majestic creatures.]
  • Current Music
    Iko Iko -- Grateful Dead -- Radio City Music Hall - October

Tape Trading

While waiting for a massive CVS update and build to finish, I'll take this opportunity to rave about my new favorite passion -- collecting live music recordings from bands that don't mind if audience members record the shows and distribute copies of the shows for free. I've known about this hobby for several years, but have started really looking into it in the past week or so. It's something that I've always been interested in, but never really got into for a few reasons -- I've never been one to go to bunches and bunches of live music shows (although that is picking up some lately), I've been scared away by the expense involved in getting high-end DAT recording/duplicating equipment, and it's been hard to break into the tape trading community when you don't really have anything to offer back.

Well, things have changed a lot since the last time I looked into tape trading. Notably, the proliferation of inexpensive CD-R burners has made it so that people can trade CD-R media instead of DAT or cassette tapes. This has also made it easier for people to get into the community without having recording equipment because it's easier to find people who will help you build your library by doing what's known as a B&P. B&P stands for "Blanks and Postage" and how it works is some guy who doesn't have much (that would be me) asks someone else who has some good shows if they would burn a copy of the shows for him. The recipient of the B&P is responsible for everything except for the actual burning of the CD-Rs -- postage both ways, the blank CD-Rs, etc. That's a pretty high-level overview of the B&P process. More detailed information can be found at McNichol's Beginners B&P Instructions web page.

I think people are more willing to do B&Ps now because it's simply so easy to do in the age of high-speed CD-Rs. When you used to have to mess with cassettes, it was a pain. Now, it's a piece of cake. I'm very grateful for people who are willing to do B&Ps, because it is helping me grow my collection. I started out with nothing, now I've got several people who are burning some great shows for me. In the next few weeks, my mailbox should begin containing the fruits of my B&P legwork.

In addition to growing your music library via generous B&P offers, you can grow your library by downloading music from the internet -- a lot of shows are just floating out there, ready to easily get. A great place to get them is at the Internet Archive. I've been downloading the likes of Glen Phillips with Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Little Feat. Typically, the files are compressed in a lossless medium (SHN and FLAC appear to be the popular ones), which is great -- the files are smaller than the uncompressed audio files, which makes for faster downloads/burns and the files are also documented with MD5 checksums, so you can be sure that you grabbed a reliable copy. I'm really impressed with the way all of these music fans are using the technology to make this happen.

A great place to find people to trade music with or people making B&P offers is etree, espeicially the mailing lists and the trader's database. Individual traders can easily create pages that list the shows they have and the shows they want. For example, I created a page to list a few of the shows that I've downloaded so far. As my library grows, I'll be working on organizing that page a bit better.

Between the downloading I've been doing and the generosity of several B&P offers, i expect to have a library of 10-15 shows in the next several weeks.

The bad news for me is that I don't yet own a CD burner. Yeah, I know. It's time to join the 21st century. I've been putting off getting one for almost a year now, but my new found passion for this hobby might push me over the edge to get one. In the mean time, if anyone has a (cheap or free) external (usb 1.1 and/or firewire) CD burner that works with Mac OS X (Finder and iTunes) and is capable of burning DAO, let me know.
  • Current Music
    On The Road Again -- Grateful Dead -- October 26, 1980

Grillin' and Chillin'

One of the things I like about living so close to where I work is that I can easily come home for lunch. Today I came home and grilled some jalapeno chicken sausages. Ummmm, yummy!

Now, however, I have to go back to work. I have meetings scheduled all afternoon. Ick.

More gripes on the Canada goose

I've had more time to read the Canada goose link I mentioned earlier, and am struck by the following paragraph:

A more serious threat posed by the thriving Canada goose population is interference with ground and air travel. Goose and gosling crossings on major roads can create back-ups and fender-benders, as many drivers swerve or stop suddenly to hitting them. Canada geese have been particularly problematic for airliners, because a goose sucked into an engine can cause considerable damage and put crew and passenger lives at risk. Finally, the Canada geese's droppings pose various health and physical hazards to humans. Goose manure is very slick and can contribute to broken ankles and other serious injuries if stepped on. But it also breeds the bacterium E. Coli, which promotes flulike symptoms in humans.

That's exactly what I was complaining about earlier, but with prettier and more logical-sounding words. The article goes on to point out behavior I've noticed with my local geese as well -- namely, their lack of fear:

The Canada geese have so adapted to their new sedentary existences, they have learned to ignore the various means employed to shoo them away. Apparently, these geese will barely ruffle a feather when shots are fired or when scarecrows and flags are displayed in their view....

I have run up to Canada geese in my backyard before, in an attempt to scare them away, and they'll often just stand their ground and hiss at me. Sometimes, they nip at my feet. I am constantly amazed at their boldness. Part of this, I attribute to the fact that several of my neighbors like to feed the geese. I'm sure this only makes the geese more complacent and less prone to be frightened. Some of my neighbors even feed the geese in the parking lot, which really annoys me! The last thing I want is a gaggle of Canada geese deciding that the parking lot is their dining room. It's bad enough that people are feeding them, but to feed them in the parking lot -- that's just inexcusible!

How are people trying to deal with the problem of annoying geese? Well, the government is beginning to relax their laws related to the hunting of migratory birds and allow for limited hunting (in part because the Canada geese are no longer migrating). But people who kill Canada geese without permission are still charged and prosecuted as felons. As for other ways of dealing with the Canada goose problem, the article mentiones several options besides hunting:

The hunts have predictably drawn criticism from bird-lovers, who believe that the costs to agriculture, recreation and other trades do not warrant such extreme measures. Thus new methods have been experimented with to simply chase the geese away from private and commercial areas. For instance, some people have invested in grape Kool-Aid powder to sprinkle on lawns; the geese have a digestive aversion methyl anthranilate, a natural compound found in grapes that causing a burning sensation in their stomachs. Border collies have also been employed to shepherd Canada geese on public spaces onto trailers for transport to wildlife refuges.

I would love to see some border collies herding Canada geese! I bet that would be a hoot to watch.