Archive | January 2018

Smoke gets in my eye

I am befouled!

It is years beyond count since I found myself in a smoky bar. And everyone but me was smoking a cigarette or was briefly between their previous cigarette and their next. I left reeking of ash like an orphan boy sweeping out a foundry furnace.

When I entered said tavern the barmaid looked almost guilty, as if I might rat them out for allowing smoking in a public establishment. But then I remembered I was not in New York City and perhaps this was all perfectly legal.

In fact, it was the drinking that was shameful, since this was a dry county until not that long ago and the very premises, but a block from the old Moravian church in Nazareth, PA, was singularly frowned upon by the town elders and ultimately closed, at least for a time. It might as well have slid down the hill to the state route, since it has sunken so from its former dive bar charm.

Their only beer choices on tap were Bud, Bud Light, and Old Town Light. Their only scotch was Dewar’s and Johnny Walker Red, which filled an Old Fashion glass for $7, not to be outdone by the $2.50 bottle of Yuengling.

‘Twas sufficient to ease the pains of this very long day, which had me playing and squawking my way through my eleventh guitar demonstration video at 1:30 AM at Maury’s Music, in Coaldale, followed by my fingertips oooing and ouching their way through my first video session with a new 2018 Martin guitar model at the Martin factory in Nazareth a few hours later.

The final session ended a little before 5 PM and after a wonderful sushi dinner with Maury, he went back to Coaldale and I found myself in the farthest corner of the nearest smoker.

But things are much improved, now that I have aired out a bit from the smoking lounge, and I walked back through the icy air to the Classic Victorian Estate Inn, where I had been upgraded to the best bedroom, the occupant of my original room having extended their stay.

After a very hot shower, I now sit in a comfortable chair in a wonderfully weighty terrycloth robe and silk pajamas, with a lusciously flavorful glass of complementary sherry. All that is missing is some Persian slippers.

After I make sure I do not need to re-shoot any video from today, I shall paint my hands in Penetrex, the best Arnica Montana delivery device I have yet found, and retire.

The newly redesigned Martin D-45 2018 is awaiting me at Martin, next to my microphones still set in place, the guitar’s case still wrapped in a clear plastic bag after its release from Final Inspection.

But I can still smell oily tobacco smoke sending its free radicals my way from the bag across the room. Alas that it is far too cold to open a window. First world problems indeed.

Meet the Beatles

Released 54 years ago today, Meet the Beatles was the first Beatles album released in America

Meet The Beatles onemanz.com

My baby book said that my first favorite song was “I Wanna Hold Your Hand. “

Actually, it was “Saw Her Standing There,” but I think my mother felt that was a bit too risque, since the first line is, “She was just seventeen, if you know what I mean…”

It turns out Paul wrote the first half of the line, and John wrote the second. The rest is history

The Pink Floyd Reunited and Immortal

Think Pink. Pink Floyd that is

When the Pink Floyd reunited, for the only time, after a quarter of a century, in 2005 for the Live 8 worldwide concerts, it was bittersweet

To see Rick looking practically cured, and Nick looking like some old mathematics teacher if not a conservative Tory MP…

David shorn of hippy dreamboat locks looked more like a slightly sadistic gym teacher or football manager, and Rodger appeared like the aging leading man he was, with what little of his singing voice that remained.

But damn if they weren’t AWESOME none the less!

Only today did I realize they did more than just “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb,” which was all that aired in America. They actually did the opening of the Dark Side of the Moon album and “Money” too.
 
And here is the whole set with enhanced audio.

Sumatra – Monday Map

When Marco Polo visited the island Sumatra in 1292 he recorded its name as Samarcha.

Much of the population had already converted to Islam by that time. But nearly three-hundred years earlier the “King of the Land of Sumatra” (Haji Sumatrabhumi) had sent an envoy to China in 1017. And long before that it was known as the Land of Gold, because of the mines in its highlands.

Sumatra 1588 map onemanz.com

Map from 1588

And before international jetliners, it was about as far away as one could go, the very edge of the earth, and as exotic an alien world as ever visited by Westerners outside of science fiction.

Below is a section of a much larger map of South East Asia from 1710, with an example of the wonderful detail.

Sumatra 1710 section onemanz.comSumatra 1710 map detail onemanz.com

Until well into the twentieth century most of the Sumatran interior was dense rain forest jungles. Over 50% of its natural forests have been removed for farming and human population requirements. The result is the serious endangerment of its many native species, like the Sumatran tiger and the newly discovered the Tapanuli Orangutan, the first new member of the Great Apes in almost a century.

New Great Ape Species Identified as Tapanuli Orangutan

Pongo tapanuliensis declared separate species of Orangutan

First encountered in 1997, it joins Humans, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and the other Orangutans as true Great Apes

There was much to hoot about at the end of 2017, at least if you are among the orangutans hidden deep in the forests of Tapanuli, in Northern Sumatra, as they have been declared a new species of Great Ape in scientific paper “Morphometric, Behavioral, and Genomic Evidence for a New Orangutan Species,” published in the November 20 issue of Current Biology. And that declaration was based partly on the animals enormous hooting calls, which can be heard for many miles.

New Great Ape SpeciesThis is the first new species in almost a century to become a member of the exclusive evolutionary club that includes us Homo sapiens. The bonobo, a close evolutionary cousin of the chimpanzee was identified in 1929. In addition it unique vocalizations, the species has genetic differences, and differences in the shape of its skull and teeth spacing from the other two orangs, the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus, with three subspecies) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii,) which were themselves declared separate species in 1996.

Photo: T. Laman

The bad news is, the scant 800 known members of this new species of orang are already among the most endangered species on earth. They reside in a small area of Northern Sumatra, with habitat already under siege by the industrious progress of mankind, about to build a dam and roads that could devastate this delicate ecosystem.

It is hoped these shy, gentle creatures will be championed by humans with the foresight to keep them from vanishing just as we come to know them better.

New Great Ape Species Sumatra inset map New Great Ape Species map

3D Map Courtesy of: Physical Panoramic Map of Kab. Tapanuli Utara (with my habitat overlay)

Highlights of the paper and the start of its summery include:

* We describe a new species of great apes, the Tapanuli orangutan Pongo tapanuliensis

*Genomic analyses corroborate morphological distinctiveness of P. tapanuliensis

* P. tapanuliensis comprises the oldest evolutionary lineage in the genus Pongo

* With fewer than 800 individuals, P. tapanuliensis is among the most endangered great apes

Summary

Six extant species of non-human great apes are currently recognized: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, and chimpanzees and bonobos. However, large gaps remain in our knowledge of fine-scale variation in hominoid morphology, behavior, and genetics, and aspects of great ape taxonomy remain in flux. This is particularly true for orangutans (genus: Pongo), the only Asian great apes and phylogenetically our most distant relatives among extant hominids.

The paper may be acquired at Cell.com.

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)31245-9

Other reading:

BBC Story on P. tapanuliensis with adorable video

National Geographic Story

Nature Story

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas…

Today is the last day of Christmas. Make the most of your Twelfth Night by partaking in some of these tried and true traditions:

nibbling favorite dainties, sipping something scintillating, explaining to the local constabulary that you were simply wassailing a few apple trees to insure a productive harvest.

Or enjoy a little Twelfth Night or what you will.