Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

carolina chickadee unseen but observed

This morning I arrived home at two in the morning, after taking a very late flight from California. On the way home, I listened to ambient CDs by the_outsider, Jeff Pearce, Diatonis, and Mantra/Modell. I read an issue of Spin Magazine. I began two novels, one in which a sentient ape teaches the meaning of life, and another in which people find their bearings in a Jane Austen discussion group. I picked the Jane Austen book because Alice Sebold provided the back cover blurb--I don't even read Alice Sebold, but in my mind, she writes difficult material, so that if a book makes her happy, it must have redemptive powers.

The corporate computer trainer woman beside me on the plane, who daily demonstrates to dentists how to download their detritus, told me she went to the Tut exhibition in Los Angeles between molars. I told her I hoped to see the Duchamp/Cornell exhibition in Dallas this Autumn, to which she replied "my husband likes Cornell! What is it with you men? Always want things in boxes!".

After a fairly sleepless night (I do not sleep well after long flights, being adrenaline-fueled), I went this afternoon to the Heard Natural Science Center. I had with me my new 10 dollar eBay-purchased Orbitor Nature Recording device, which looks vaguely like a radio telescope with headphones. I walked the Hoot Owl Trail,
headphones on, wand extended. Sure enough, chickadees, blue jays and trilling birds I don't recognize came through the headphones in abundance. The microphone provides surprising power, one of those rare "as advertised", "oh my goodness" experience. The 12 second digital recorder does not live up to billing, as the birdsong so vibrant in the headphones comes out muted in the speaker. I did get a great recording of an airplane overhead, but I will have to get a more sensitive recording device.


I remember in my undergraduate physics courses learning about this theory by this fellow Gell-Mann. He talked about how the act of observation of a thing can sometimes alter the thing observed. I felt that the nature recording device avoided this problem. If I waved the wand out at the prairie, then I heard bird and insect sounds I cannot hear with the unassisted ear. If I had walked into the field, I do not believe the sounds would endure. But the wand brings me closer to wild universes I normally cannot perceive. This fits my internal sense of propriety--that a big world exists around every corner, if one but had the ears to hear it.

My wife got us new documentary films to view, including a film on the Shakers and a Thomas Hart Benton film. I'm looking forward in particular to the Benton film. I finished the working layer of two hobby projects today (actually, I finished the potential in each, and then married them, which I felt suitably pragmatic), which makes me very happy. My yahoo music message group is up to 13, which also makes me feel we're getting started good. I got good feedback from the kind fellow in Budapest for whom I remixed his remix of a remix.

I do not know what I will do tomorrow (other than a spot of work), but I am certain I will enjoy it.
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