Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I have oddball pockets of knowledge. Or, maybe I just have different interests than most people. I know very little about sports, cars, and other traditional "guy stuff". But I know more than most people about recording, hand tool woodworking, and martial arts. Mostly book-learnin' (I follow a few topic-related blogs, and read books and magazines on the subjects).
The Director at work (my supervisor's supervisor) writes and records folk-ish music. We were both heading out the door at about the same time, and I raised the subject of microphones. We geeked out a little about microphones, and then she asked me what the difference was between a Shure SM57 and the SM58.
I actually had an answer: My understanding is that they're essentially the same mic, except that the SM58 has the wire grille "ball" on the end, with a foam pop-filter inside. So this ends up changing the frequency response -- and thus the tonal quality. It's also a very sturdy mic. Because of this, the SM58 is frequently used as a live music mic, whereas the SM57 is often used in recording -- especially micing guitar amplifier speakers, and snare drums.
The things I know...
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Three musical thoughts
1) When I next visit Seattle, I should try to spend a few days with Guitar Cousin -- see if we're able to co-write, and record, a few songs together. Haven't done that in years and years.
2) A few days ago, was listening to our self-made album (circa 1992) while at work. Had forgotten that we'd recorded a version of Guitar Cousin's and my first co-written song.
3) If I won the lottery, I'd track down Kevin "Captain Crash" Adams(our drummer; pay his living expenses (for his wife and kids) for a month; and then spend a month at Strigidae Studios getting back into practice and laying down some tracks, plus general hanging around. (Studio owner permitting, of course.)
Back when Guitar Cousin, Capt. Crash and I would have band practice a few times a week, and catch live local bands at cheap bars and clubs a few times a month. Those were good times... :)
Twentieth anniversary of Nevermind
Last night I was gonna spend an hour or two recording. Unfortunately, it had been so long since I'd last recorded that I couldn't find the cable that connects my mini-mixer to my laptop (two RCA males to a 1/8" stereo male, FWIW). The annoying thing is that I know I have at least three of them... somewhere. But danged if I could find them.
So today I bought another one. Three bucks at a cheapy store; fair enough. I'll do a little recording tonight.
Also: It's apparently the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind album. On Thursday there was an interview in the entertainment section with Krist Novoselic (sorry; poorly spelled). Today (Saturday) I picked up the Australian edition of Rolling Stone just because the guys were Nirvana were on the cover.
Nirvana's not my #1 favorite band -- but, they're pretty good. And they evoke a certain period of my life -- when I lived in Seattle, and my roommate, my cousin, and myself were in a band together.
A bit of trivia: not only were we in the same birth order as the guys from Nirvana (bassist = oldest; then guitarist; then drummer), but we were also the same age-spacing. Just not as famous.
It was always on my "To Do" list to go catch Nirvana in concert. Then Kurt Cobain went and shot himself -- so **that** wasn't gonna happen.
Some generations have their Buddy Holly. I guess I have Kurt Cobain.
Friday, September 23, 2011
About as stupid as you can get
So, my wife -- a college professor -- caught a student plagiarising: passing off someone else's work as his own. Or technically, one of the teaching assistants caught it, as she was grading the papers.
First, the person is stupid for trying to do this, rather than just writing the paper properly. Smart people are able to write decent papers on their own.
Second, the person copied from one of the assigned readings from the course. A smart person would figure that the teaching assistant has probably read the course material.
And, third: the paper was written by my wife and the other co-instructor.
Duh, duh, duh.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
In the little waiting room that's somewhat between the shared kitchen and my group's office is a small waiting room. In that waiting room is a piece of Indigenous art.
I like it.
As you can see from the close-up (below) of the accompanying sign, it's supposed to be a dry river bed with a wilderness camp and windbreaks. (The painting is by Leemoo Pareeyt; I've added that to the text, just in case the artist ever does a self-Google.)
Whenever I pass by it, I do a kung fu fist at it --
-- and exclaim "Indigenous Fist of Power!" Because that's what I think it looks like. Scroll back up to the painting, to see what I mean.
I don't mean it in a disrespectful way. Rather, it's like the Black Power salute:
Power to the Indigenous Australians!
In fact, I think Indigenous Australians should adopt the Black Power salute.
BTW -- in Queensland, at least, the preferred term is "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders". To lump them all under "Indigenous" is seen as ignoring the cultural differences between Aboriginal Australians and Australians from the Torres Strait Islands (who are more Polynesian). Personally, though, I prefer the term "Indigenous": the term "Aboriginal" has overtones of "primitive-ness", whereas "Indigenous" means "the original folks". And is lumping all the different Indigenous cultures under one term any worse than the term "European" or "South American"?
But, the main point: Indigenous Fist of Power!!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Well, I **had** planned to use the one-and-a-half hour window between the kids' bedtime and when **I** try to go to bed to get some recording done. But, I forgot that tonight was The Lady's online tutorial (or "quiz section", at some universities), for the "distance learning" students. So, it was up to me to wrangle the kids.
The two boys fell asleep partway through the bedtime story -- an Irish folk tale. The Girl stayed awake.
The folk tale featured a boy who kindly shared his food with a stranger, who turned out to be the king of the fairies in disguise. It reminded me of a fairy tale from my big blue book of fairy tales (My World of Fairy Tales: Stories from Grimm, Perrault and Andersen, retold by Jane Carruth) that I've had since I was a kid. I told the girl that a lot of fairy tales involve a nice person who has a meagre lunch but shares it with a stranger, and a mean person with a big lunch who doesn't share -- and the generous person gets rewarded.
Managed to find it in just a few minutes. Read The Girl the story I was thinking of. Then noted that a lot of fairy tales have two sisters: a nice one, and a mean one; the nice one does something nice, and gets rewarded with gold (or gems) falling from her mouth with every word, while the mean one gets curses with toads or snakes falling from her mouth. Found -- and read -- a similar story from the big blue fairy tale book.
Then I read Puss-in-Boots -- just 'cause it's a good story.
And then The Lady came in, and wondered why The Girl was up so late past her bed time. (No matter: she's on school holidays.)
So: I read The Girl Bedtime stories for an hour and a half, rather than recording part of a song. Okay. That works.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
My cell phone died, so The Lady bought herself a new cell phone, gave me her old one, and swapped out the SIM cards. (Yes, I was fine with this: I'm fairly utilitarian. A cell phone is for making and receiving phone calls [and text messages, which are slightly cheaper].)
I explored the menus to change the ringtones, wallpaper, and such.
And now when the cell phone boots up, it briefly declares "spoon!". Each time, it amuses me.
(Inside joke. Try Googling "nigh-invulnerable" and "spoon".)
Monday, September 19, 2011
Perhaps my favorite poem
Ahh -- the wonders of the internet.
A random thought, a poem that I remember liking from some high school literature textbook. Somewhere in my pile of notes and papers, I've written it down. Darned if I know where.
But! I remembered the snippets "Degas dancer... hang his pants on while he slept"; Googled it; and: magic!
"Museum Piece", by Richard Wilbur. I have a bias towards poetry that actually rhymes (it's harder to write something insightful and clever **and** rhyme than to simply be insightful and clever).
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Hm! After all that -- turns out the laptop hard drive had simply become unseated. Removed the hard drive, then firmly pushed it back into place. Laptop works again (I'm typing on it right now).
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Technology dies at my hands
So, last Wednesday morning my cell phone failed to power up. Seemed to be working fine the previous day. Dunno. My wife ended up getting a new cell phone, then giving me her old one.
And then Saturday evening, my laptop's boot sector went plooie. Worked fine Friday night. I put an Ubuntu (Linux) disk into the DVD drive, and all the hardware seems fine -- the hard drive simply can't find the Windows stuff to start running Windows.
I'll have to muck about with it. Until then, I'll be blogging a bit less.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Well, I completed what is probably my first substantial "homeowner guy" task.
One of the requirements for getting the shed/garage/carport certified by the city council was jacking the rainwater from the downspouts into the stormwater drains. Finished doing this yesterday (Sunday).
So, I spent several weekends (a few hours per day -- not **all** day) digging a trench. Then I cut pipes and hoses to length; glued them (using special PVC glue) to connectors; laid 'em out; and (mostly) filled the trench back in.
Finished the bulk of the pipe-gluing and pipe-laying on Sunday. Which was Father's Day, here in Australia. Not quite what I'd wanted to be doing on Father's Day -- but, eh.
Surprisingly, the whole project went smoothly. I'm pleased to say that I didn't screw it up -- as near as I can tell.
What's more, with some **super** minor exceptions, I don't see any "Gah! Wish I'd done it differently" spots.
That's a real confidence-builder. Good stuff.
Oh! And I used the pickaxe that I inherited from my paternal grandfather. Used it a **lot**, actually: partway down I hit a fairly rocky layer that the spade just didn't want to go through -- so I had to break it up with the pickaxe before I could spade it out.
The trench ended up being "bottom of my kneecap" deep. That's reasonably substantial.
Gotta get prints of these photos that I've posted here, for the inspection guy's records.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Mozart myth debunked
Love that Wikipedia!
According to this article, the compositional approach depicted in the movie Amadeus is totally wrong -- although it's consistent with the traditional, romanticized conception of how he composed.
People used to think that Mozart just cranked out his music directly from his head to the paper, hearing the complete works in his head. Actually, he composed using a piano as a tool, and worked up rough sketches prior to the finished product.
But he was supposedly a VERY good improvisor -- such that when he was in a time crunch to finish a piece, he'd often leave huge blanks for the parts he was going to play himself: then he'd just "wing it".
I also found it interesting (don't remember if it was in the above-mentioned Wikipedia article, or the main "Mozart" article) that he didn't compose "just for the art of it". He tended to be very pragmatic, composing pieces for specific purposes: either for an upcoming performance, or as commissioned works. There are apparently a lot of partially-finished works that he abandoned because the commission fell through.
Friday, September 02, 2011
Good songwriters but no descendants
Interesting (to me)! Both Buddy Holly and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were pretty good songwriters or composers.
According to their respective Wikipedia articles, neither has a direct genetic descendant: Buddy Holly's wife miscarried soon after he died, and Mozart only had two children survive into adulthood -- neither of which had children.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
I thought this was interesting: at some restaurant (I forget which), in the men's room, I noticed that the urinals were completely different. Odd.
Why would they do that? Did one break, so they replaced it -- but with a different brand? (And if so -- how does a urinal break?) Or did they just get a good deal on a mis-matched set of urinals: a discontinued model, perhaps?