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28 April 2004 @ 18:33
Two irritants, a perplexity, and a couple of parastenographic mondegreens  

Two irritants

  1. The air is full of gnats. I attribute this to the rather large quantities of stagnant water that have been lying around lately—old snow and new rain. I've been trying not to breathe when I venture outside, but that works only for the briefest of excursions.
  2. I got a phone message from the library today telling me that a book I had checked out had been recalled... twenty days ago. I explained that I would quite happily have returned it earlier if I had had actually received a recall notice. They say they sent it by e-mail. I didn't get it. If their technical people can't verify this, though, I may be on the hook for a thirty-dollar fine (one sesquibuck per diem).

A perplexity

Apparently I'm sharp. A couple of experiments with an electronic tuner reveal that if I attempt to hum an A, it quite consistently comes out around 20 to 30 cents high. And if I try to correct it, my brain has absolutely no idea what signals to send to my larynx: if I tell myself "Hum lower," then the pitch goes down by exactly a semitone and I find myself humming something 20 to 30 cents above A-flat. So it seems that I have both categorical perception/production/proprioception, with the universe of frequencies neatly organized according to the chromatic scale, and systematically imperfect pitch. I find this kind of weird. Not that I thought I had anything like perfect pitch; rather, I always assumed that on any given occasion my attempted A would be off by a random amount in either direction. How the hell did I internalize the idea that A = 446 Hz?

A couple of parastenographic mondegreens

Pat Gardiner, the president of the Chartered Shorthand Reporters' Association of Ontario, recently wrote to the Toronto Star to protest the replacement of court reporters with digital recording devices. Now, even if the court proceedings are initially recorded by a machine rather than by a stenographer, they still have to be turned into transcripts at some point, and Gardiner argues that this process is much less accurate when it is done from a recording (and perhaps also by a less qualified transcriber? Gardiner doesn't actually say who it is that makes the transcripts from the recordings) than when it is done in real time in the courtroom. The evidence:

the Supreme Court of Canadathe Sprinkler of Canada
sine diesayonara (左様なら)

And, from Guardians of the Record:

[A] recent transcript read that a term of an accused's recognizance was "not to have in her possession any firearms, ambition or explosive substances."

The ambitious criminals are, of course, the most dangerous ones. But restrictions on ambition just might be a Charter violation, and if the case heats up, it could go all the way to the Sprinkler.

Nuværende humør: highsharp
Nuværende musik: A. K. Glazunov, Violin concerto in A minor (opus 82)
Tishiewahooweena on 28. April, 2004 20:07 (UTC)
Who cares about accuracy? It's the bottom line, my dear, the bottom line.


BTW, I love this: "I've been trying not to breathe when I venture outside, but that works only for the briefest of excursions."

That sounds like a witty quote from some famous author or another.
w1ldc47w1ldc47 on 28. April, 2004 20:37 (UTC)
That sounds like a witty quote from some famous author or another
It's been my experience that the things Q. says tend to sound like that.
Tishiewahooweena on 28. April, 2004 20:51 (UTC)
That is very cool. :)
quantumkitty on 28. April, 2004 21:36 (UTC)
Hmmm. I'm impressed. I have perfect pitch, but my accuracy when I'm just trying to sing a note out of the blue is not that great (and I'm always aware of that). It's worst when I'm really trying to be accurate. :)
"That Anne Girl": Pussyfootabenn on 28. April, 2004 22:14 (UTC)
What you refer to as "systematically imperfect pitch" I've heard called "relative pitch." It means that you can't necessarily hit a chosen note exactly, but that all the notes you subsequently sing/hear in your head will be perfect intervals relative to the first note. --In other words, if you are 30 cents sharp, at least you are consistently that sharp on all the pitches in the performance. Which, as long as you are unaccompanied and/or the instruments are also a tad sharp, sounds just fine to everyone except a person who actually has true perfect pitch.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 29. April, 2004 09:45 (UTC)
Relative pitch

Well, I wouldn't put any money on the prospect of my being able to produce larger intervals with any precision. A semitone is okay, but I dunno if I could produce, say, a relative perfect fourth.

Fortunately for anyone in the audience who might happen to have perfect pitch, I don't actually sing; I prefer to hide behind a large stringed instrument of some sort. (Not that I have perfect pitch on the cello, either, mind you....)