Archive for July, 2009


Lone Elk Park is a great place for a Saint Louis afternoon. We had set off for the more distant blogged Shaw Nature Reserve, but settled for Lone Elk Park secondary to automotive problems. It was a pleasant surprise. The elk were visible from the foot path. They are majestic creatures. I also spotted a pileated woodpecker. I was quite taken with the stories about the ivory-billed woodpecker a while back. It was exciting to see its closest relative. Another part of the park that does not allow foot traffic has bison. They stand near enough to the road to get good looks at them from the car. Wild turkeys were also visible from the road.

I have made it out to a few other places. A few weeks before, we visited Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center. The trail is paved, which is disappointing. It was even a little dangerous because it had rained earlier in the day. I was disappointed. With different folks, I revisited blogged Babbler State Park several weeks before. The insects were out in force. Otherwise, it was a good trip. Last time I went to Babbler, we found fossils. Our luck was not quite so good the past time.

I grew up out from town on the edge of the woods. I am as comfortable in them as anywhere. As cities go, Saint Louis is good in this respect. I often gaze out from an upper story of the hospital and marvel at how many trees we have. It is not the same as being in real woods. This summer has been mild and conducive to exploration. Amongst the many demands on my time, I have interspersed a few rambles.

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Michael M. on July 31st 2009 in General

Vague science

This comic via Waxy Links made me smile. The post in Beyond the Beyond on Wired has a few comments. I never did any science interesting enough to garner coverage. The work of people I know has reached the popular press, and I have seen articles on topics for which I had read primary literature. The stories typically are wrong on some fairly significant points. Word of mouth dilutes it more. Getting the details just right is awfully hard. The mistakes should not swamp the impulse. Wonder is worth sharing.

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Michael M. on July 30th 2009 in General

Fractal movie

This post on Kottke has an amazing animation short, Vol Libre. Waxy Links directed me to it. The video is on Vimeo. It features fractal graphics from 1979-1980, and it remains impressive today. The background music is “Flying” by the wonderful Beatles. The part starting at 1:15 reminds me of the visual stimuli I used in lab.

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Michael M. on July 30th 2009 in General, Music, Recorded


This post on Highway 61 led me to “They’ve Got Those Old, Hard-to-Find Blues” in The New York Times by Amanda Petrusich. It is a look into the world of 78 rpm record collectors. I posted a while back about Eden and John’s East River String Band, the band of collector John Heneghan. While I love the music, I am not a collector of records or anything. I appreciate what they do, though, in keeping great music available. Of note, the article mentions King Solomon Hill. He was from McComb, Mississippi, my hometown.

The article neglects to mention the biggest figure in the field, Joe Bussard. By chance, I watched Desperate Man Blues, a documentary about him, within the last few months. His passion for the old music is a pleasure to observe. Every record is a story for him. Dust-to-Digital put out another shorter feature on him, Joe Bussard: King of Record Collectors. Watch the trailer on YouTube.  I also found this story about him from NPR‘s All Things Considered. I will write Petrusich to see why she left him out of her article.


Michael M. on July 29th 2009 in General, Movies, Music, Recorded

Up and down

Friends and family who try to visit here regularly have not been able to. I repaired the server by replacing the motherboard at the beginning of April. It was functional, but limping until the past week or two. I configured the server with RAID level 1 way back when I built it. One of the hard drives had increasingly more errors reported via S.M.A.R.T. hard drive monitoring. It finally got so bad that it started crashing the whole computer. I removed the bad hard drive. It turns out that the bad hard drive was causing most of the noise. The server works again, but temporarily without the benefits of data redundancy. I ordered replacement hard drives this morning.

If my plan works, I will bring the server down a couple of times after the new drives arrive. I will install the first new drive. When I add it to RAID, the system will mirror the data on the old working drive onto it. Then I will remove the old working drive and replace it with the second new drive. The system will mirror the first new drive onto the second new drive. The new drives will be much larger. I will end up with a quieter system with much more storage space.

If I were truly prepared, I would have had the replacement hard drives on hand already. I hope the one working hard drive can hold out long enough for my plan to work.

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Michael M. on July 6th 2009 in General

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