Thursday, April 18 2013
The weather was nice and so occasionally I took breaks from web development to go out into the yard and do some much-needed chores. One of these had me carrying all the chunks of Black Locust I'd recently salvaged from the bottom of Dug Hill Road up to the woodshed area and splitting it using the splitting maul. Though I grew up in a part of Virginia that has a lot of Black Locust (and we used to burn it in our stove), its main use was as fence posts; its wood is unusually resistant to rot. Since living in New York, I haven't had much experience with it; in this climate it mostly grows on low-elevation floodplains (and the range map on Wikipedia claims it isn't in New York at all). Indeed, this was the first time I'd ever split a bucked piece of trunk of locust with a maul. It's not as easy to split as Red Oak, though it might be easier to split than either White Pine or Chestnut Oak. Unlike most tree species, its fibers tend to cling in numerous pieces across a developing split, though not as badly as in, say elm (where it makes splitting nearly impossible). Supposedly the best time to split locust is when it is green, which these pieces were.
Another yard chore I undertook today was the relocation of all the concrete blocks stacked up in front of the garage to their proper storage location, behind the woodshed. Those blocks had been there in front of the garage since this summer; they'd ended up there after I'd used them to build the temporary jacking pyramids when I was raising the greenhouse roof to create its upstairs. There were surprisingly few organisms living under the blocks, perhaps because their flat surfaces don't leave a lot of voids for creatures to inhabit. But beneath one of the locust chunks I'd found a single brown salamander (which I relocated to the stone retaining wall of the northmost tomato patch).
For the past few days I've been listening mostly to MP3s of songs by a group called Elephone, which I'd captured using Audio Record Wizard while listening to Spotify (and then cut into songs using Audacity; it's a fair amount of work). Elephone's music is hard to categorize; from one song to the next it will veer wildly between different styles of alternative rock. Though the results are uneven, there are some good songs in there, particularly "Day for Night" and "El Jefe," which sounds exactly like a song by the Pixies (but, best of all, I haven't grown sick of it from having heard it hundreds of time).
Today was the day that the FBI, after combing through thousands of images, released pictures of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers. It seems it's hard to pull off a bombing at a heavily-photographed event without creating a suspicious pattern of presence in various snapshots as well as surveillance footage. Prior to the release of these pictures, there had been a parallel non-governmental effort on Reddit.com to pore through Boston Marathon images to look for suspicious patterns, and this crowdsourced analysis singled out a few people for closer analysis, though none of those people were the ones selected by the FBI. This evening, though several people managed to scare up some additional photos of the FBI's suspected bombers. In one, the "white-capped" suspect was walking calmly away from the scene of one of the explosions after it had happened, and sure enough, he no longer had his backpack. At this point it was pretty clear to me that both of the FBI's suspects had a swarthy look to them that suggested Middle Eastern affiliation. I was hoping, for the mental health of this country, that the bombers wouldn't turn out to be Muslims, but I don't always get what I hope for.
Late this evening came news of some sort of shootout happening at MIT in Boston, and I couldn't help but wonder if the noose was perhaps tightening around the fugitive bombers.
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