In a quiet rest stop somewhere between Baltimore and Columbus, I found this switch hidden behind the door as I washed my hands. I’d like to know how we could get this installed in our bathroom so we don’t have to clean it.
Date posted: January 30, 2008
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Given the fact that I spent most of three days in the back of a van or freezing my ass off in a windswept field in Ohio, I didn’t get to practice much this past week. Knowing that I had ground to make up, and wanting to avoid the old, familiar shame of being in a music lesson unprepared, I spent a couple of hours working the first three fingers of my left hand numb to the bone yesterday and today.
My teacher was kind, and I actually did make it all the way through “Peaceful Easy Feeling” with only a few hiccups. His words were encouraging, and I didn’t feel like I was wasting his time—or mine. So we moved on to the next song, “Boys Better”, and I continued to fumble around the quick G-D-A change, unable to keep up. I’ve got the rhythm but the change is still too fast. We then moved on to the chorus, which is a counterpoint to the verse—all power chords instead of the clean, proper chords I’ve been learning. So I got my first lesson in “Smoke On The Water” and “Iron Man”, and put that knowledge to good use as we worked on the song.
And, playing it through slowly, for the first time, I felt like I could actually learn this damned thing.
On the way out I had the nice fellows behind the counter look at the action on the strings; my teacher was amazed at how high they were (thereby forcing me to work much harder to play it). I felt mighty sheepish handing over my beginner’s Fender to guys selling guitars worth more than my Jeep, but the man who worked on it smiled at me as he turned the key in the truss rod. “No, we’re not going to be mean, because when you’re ready to buy a better guitar, we want you to buy it from us.”
There’s a bit of inspiration in those words; I’d like to be worthy of a handmade guitar someday.
Date posted: January 29, 2008
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We gathered around the gravesite, huddled under a small blue tent with three open sides, waiting for the priest to finish the final part of the ceremony, and all I could think was didn’t he already go over this stuff in the church? Seriously, I think we asked the Lord three times to hear the same prayer.
This marks the second funeral I’ve been to in Ohio in January, and it wasn’t any warmer this year. Ohioans are a strange bunch, too—when all sensible out-of-state visitors have returned to the heating vents in their vehicles, coaxing blood back into their extremities, Ohioans stand around the gravesite chatting like it’s an afternoon in August.
They are kind, too. They will open up their church on a Sunday Saturday afternoon and cook a huge meal for a frostbitten family, load our plates with food, offer us freshly brewed coffee, and provide a table of desserts loaded to the breaking point. They understand that doughnuts are an important part of the grieving process, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Date posted: January 27, 2008
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We just got word last night that Jen’s uncle passed yesterday after a long bout with cystic fibrosis.
I didn’t personally know him very well, but the few times I did get to spend time with him, I enjoyed his company. He was a big man but he gave off a gentle vibe, and he smiled almost constantly, telling stories on Jen when she was younger with a twinkle in his eye. I’m told he loved a good party, and in true fashion, after a long night of laughter and fun, he left our wedding late with slurred speech and a six-pack of beer in his hand.
I went in last week very rusty (not a whole lot of practice) and came out embarrassed, but my teacher is kind and went easy on me. I’ve had some more time this week to get the repetitive muscle memory working, but it turned out that dyslexic Bill had gotten the first and second fingers wrong on the D chord. So I had to unlearn and relearn it, which has been problematic. My first and second fingers are all about the chords, and are like two soldiers fresh out of boot camp, ready to snap at attention. My third finger was on the special bus and missed the drills, so it’s confused by all of this moving around. It wants to get in the way or lay down for a nap, muffling the other strings and messing it up for everybody. Playing the G chord is easy for everyone, and the third finger is happy to go to the right place, but every time it has to go back to D it all falls apart.
I’ve gone through the progressions ad nauseum for the last couple of days, and I still can’t get it clean. Arrggh!
Date posted: January 22, 2008
| Filed under music | Comments Off on Guitar Lesson, Week 3
I went ahead and did it, even though a chorus of voices in my head told me not to spend the money. The Apple Store was a zoo last night at 5:30, and I had to wait around a while for a concierge to see me standing in line behind a flock of interesting people:
Hipster Dude and Friend, who sat idly at the otherwise empty workshop desk playing with Photoshop, checking out the chicks across the store,
Obsessive Compulsive iMac Man, who unpacked and packed and unpacked and packed an iMac about six times in front of the Genius Bar, standing directly in the way of any tech who tried to come out to the showroom floor,
Tiny iPhone Girl, who walked in expecting to talk to someone immediately about something, and when faced with the idea of making an appointment, blinked no less than seventeen times while the shiny perfumed gears in her head crashed together in an attempt to make a decision,
Screamy iPod Return It NOW Woman, who kept throwing an old Shuffle on the iPod Bar and yelling at the tech, who calmly repeated the store policy about reservations five times while she huffed and wheezed and screamed and interrupted someone else’s reservation, causing all of us other people to roll our eyes and stare plainly.
Once I caught the young concierge’s eye, and told her quietly that I’d like an iPhone, we did a dance around the screamy woman and all the other people sitting at the Bar to complete the transaction, and I got the hell out of there.
Setup was a breeze, and it took minutes to sync up with my calendars and address book, as well as my Safari bookmarks. It’s a beautiful piece of gadgetry, really—the first time the phone, iPod and Palm have come together in one package to be useful. I think I’m going to be very happy with it.
The WaPo did a very interesting article on the Christian homeschool movement and some of the underlying ideology behind it. I was surprised to learn how integral they were to the adoption of homeschooling as an alternative to public education but not shocked to hear how xenophobic and isolationist their doctrine is.
Over decades, they have eroded state regulations, ensuring that parents who home-school face little oversight in much of the country. More recently, they have inflamed the nation’s culture wars, fueling attacks on public-school lessons about race and gender with the politically potent language of “parental rights.”
The article follows a family who began to question their fundamentalist beliefs and sent their daughter to public school, only to find it wasn’t full of satanic child molesters, as they’d been told.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: How to Enable Advanced Data Protection on iOS, and why you should. I’d like to set this up among all of the devices we have here, but we run a lot of older gear that won’t be covered under this seup—and the idea that if I do enable this, we’ll lose some functionality on things like the Apple TV or this old laptop doesn’t thrill me.
Andy Baio has made many amazing things for the internet, one of which is/was called Belong.io, which was a tool using the Twitter API to scrape interesting links from the feeds of a bunch of interesting people daily. With Phony Stark blowing up the service and charging for the API, he’s shut the whole thing down:
Truth be told, it was already dying as those interesting people slowed down their Twitter usage, or left entirely in the wake of Elon Musk’s acquisition and a series of decisions that summarily ruined it as a platform for creative experimentation.
Songslikex is supposed to be a tool to suggest other songs you might like based on something you suggest. I’ve put in a couple of slightly off-center suggestions and it’s returned a list of songs that were OK, but I don’t know that I’d put them all in the same category. I don’t know how they’re developing their list, but I guess it’s OK.