August 25th, 2014

krazy koati

Now the rain is falling; hear the train a-calling

Among the things Lansing has these days is a jazz festival. This year's was two days long, but it was also held right by one of our friends, so it made a good excuse to get out on a Saturday evening and hang out a while and listen to music. It also gave me a chance to venture into new dimensions of quite possibly parking illegally, since the whole area of town was clogged by cars and we left the car on the side of a road that seemed too narrow to support parking on both sides, but, there were plenty of cars on both sides of the road and they didn't ticket or tow us so I guess it was all right? Maybe?

It happens our friend's apartment was right outside one of the stage venues, so we mostly hung out on his steps or in the parking lot beside his place to hang out and listen and consider the ways the jazz festival is slowly but inexorably corporatizing, in matters like where the enclosed VIP area is and in who they invite to the festival. This year had many more local performers, often grouped into new ad hoc bands. That's good in that a skilled performer --- for example, a really skilled drummer --- got plenty of stage time and could be seen by many people, but bad in the loss of variety of performances.

Between performances we stepped into a local bar to use the bathroom and get a drink and play pinball, as they have The Machine: Bride of Pinbot. The game also has a non-functional LED display so there was no keeping score (or following information given during the course of the game), but roughly, the longer you play the better you're doing, after all. And to get a snack we went down the block a little to a gourmet popcorn shop which had several dozen kinds of popcorn as well as every person in the world in line ahead of us. I believe we also got a loyalty card for a popcorn vendor that neither of us has thought to get to in years.

Trivia: The data verifying 51 Pegasi b, the first extrasolar planet discovered to orbit a main-sequence star, was found by mistake: Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler were searching for brown dwarfs, and the Yale Bright Star Catalogue listed 51 Pegasi incorrectly as a subgiant star rather than a sun-like one. Had it been listed correctly Mayor and Butler would have ignored it, and the planet's discovery by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, would have needed more than a week after its announcement to be verified. Source: The Quest for Alien Planets: Exploring Worlds Outside the Solar System, Paul Halpern.

Currently Reading: The Crystal Ship, Editor Robert Silverberg.

PS: Machines That Think About Logarithms, as I learned a neat way to calculate logarithms and I'm sharing that with you.