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Monday, October 1, 2007     Already?
(11:14 pm)

Is it really October? Time has sped up. Then again, at other times it seems to drag. The speed of light may be a constant (I've even got my doubts about that) but time is a variable. Speaking of October, it's that time of year when the pumpkins get carved, the polyester cobwebs get strung across porches and window, the black cat, witch, spider, bat, and other decorations get strung all over. And then there's our house. . .

Digital Camera Image (adjusted, gamma) [2007_1001Image0005] [Canon EOS 20D, Program AE,  Shutter speed: 13 seconds, f/4.5, Partial Metering, ISO 200, Tripod, remote switch, Canon 17-85 mm lens @ 30 mm]

Don't blame me. It was Ann's idea. Although, I must say I love it! Too bad you can't see the mummy real well. I was going to do some more shots using various other settings, including bulb, but the batteries died. I'm presently recharging them. I'll try again tomorrow.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

My left or yours?

Oh now, that's just super! The last what from the left??? And how the hell do I know when the time comes??? Oy!

Quote of the Day: "The key to success isn't much good until one discovers the right lock to insert it in."

-- Tehyi Hsieh , Chinese educator, writer and diplomat

I bought the vintage amplifier I was looking at. I got it at a decent price. It's heavy! -- 90 pounds. I'll be toting it around infrequently and with a dolly and stout young fellow to load and unload it for me. The sound is incredible. The reverb doesn't work. I'm going to try to have that fixed. The vibrato is rich and lush. It's a strong voice and I love it.


Thursday, October 4, 2007     The Homogenization of America
(10:09 am)

Hugs have now been banned in some schools. Public Displays of Affection they're called. In some countries hugs and kisses are the derigueur greeting. What's wrong with a hug? It blocks the hallway? I doubt it. It portends sexual activity? I doubt that too, even being aware of the rampantness of teenage male hormones. There was an opinion piece in the paper this morning (syndicated, not local) on the subject. In the column, Leonard Pitts said "Am I the only one who feels this is just the latest step in a troubling trend? Am I the only one who sees businesses, schools and public institutions moving, inexorably as a Terminator, toward the standardization and regulation of even the most mundane of human interaction? In so doing, they seek to remove the defining element of human interaction: humanity."

No, I'm happy to say, Mr. Pitts, you're not the only one who's noticed this trend. It extends to dress codes, behavior codes, restricted access to public spaces, all born of paranoia. It mostly starts in the schools and extends to other areas of society. The religious right and anal-retentive political factions want us to be too afraid to touch each other, to speak kindly or to express affection for one another. Got to keep 'em separated. It's part and parcel of the old saw -- divide and conquer. Once we were on our way to an open, free, and creative society. Now we are inexhorably on our way down the slippery slope to fascism, totalitarianism, and bondage. And we don't do anything about it. We don't object. We just defer to the judgement of others. . . like George W. (W is for wacko) Bush and Dick (head) Cheney. We'd better snap out of it soon or things will not be recognizable in just a few years. I'm glad I won't be around for the worst of it, but my grandchildren will and I don't want that to happen. Where's Mighty Mouse when you need him?

Quote of the Day: "Anything that promotes a sense of isolation leads to chronic stress, and often to illness like heart disease. Conversely, anything that leads to real intimacy, and feelings of connection can be healing in the real sense of the word, to bring together to make whole. The ability to be intimate has long been seen as a key to emotional health. I believe it is essential to the health of our hearts as well."

-- Dean Ornish, M.D. (Cardiologist and Author)

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

I appreciate a good relationship.

The Zoom multi-effects pedal Ann bought me for Christmas last year is messed up. It has developed a loud hiss and crackle. Terrible noise. I have to send it back to the company to have it repaired. Trouble is, Ann can't find the receipt, which is necessary to validate the warranty is still in effect. I guess I'll have to have Gene at Pied Piper dig through December's receipts to find it and make a copy for me. He'll do it for me, but I hate to put him out over such a thing. I looked through all my receipts yesterday and Ann dug through her backlog last night to no avail. Record keeping is not our strong point. . .


Tuesday, October 9, 2007     It's NOT Indian Summer!
(7:37 pm)

The talking heads on television keep calling this unnatural warm weather in October "Indian Summer." Morons and dipshits every one! Indian Summer is defined as 'a period of mild, warm, hazy weather in late fall.' When I was growing up, Indian Summer was also predicated on the occurrence of a hard frost or freeze followed by the warm weather. Folks, there has been no cold weather whatsoever, and barring the use of a freeze as a defining factor, it's still early fall. It is NOT Indian Summer!

Quote of the Day: "Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it."

-- Leonardo da Vinci

I've been extremely tired lately, not to mention unable to concentrate, forgetful, and mildly depressed. I wonder if the weather has anything to do with it? Speaking of sleep. . .

Today's Fortune, Cookie:


Bonus Quote of the Day: "To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity. "

-- Friedrich Nietzsche


Wednesday, October 10, 2007     Falling Off the World
(10:11 am)

I feel like I'm falling off the world, or perhaps I've already fallen and the "person" you see going through the motions of a life barely worth the bother is just a persistent memory of who I was. Things don't seem exactly real, and I have to continually tell myself that life is continuing and that my actions really do have consequence. The lyrics fo Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" seem to fit, other than the fact I'm generally not all that comfortable. Numb, yes, mostly. I seem to have fallen victim to Nietzsche's comment from yesterday's Bonus Quote. What is (was) my purpose? How do I get back on track. Why does it seem that all inspiration and intent have left me? I thought it was just my art that had deserted me, but music is rote and repetitive, writing evaporates somewhere between brain and fingers, and joy in things large and small is so ephemeral and transient as to be nearly non-existent. Falling off the World. Fall. Oh yeah, it's Fall -- Autumn to some of you. Fall is Falling off the World. Spring is Springing Back to Life. Well, we shall see about that. In the meantime, Winter lives in there somewhere and what it will bring will be interesting to see. Winter sometimes brings SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and other times a cold rush of energy and creativity. I'm hoping for the latter. I think part of my disconnect from reality (the consensus known as reality) may be in part due to this unnaturally hot weather over too long a period of time. Let's hope.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Only thing in my hand is. . . well, that's personal. . .

There's a huge old maple tree up the street that's always the first one in the neighborhood to turn orange in the fall. It's in the process now. I drove about 100 miles north of here yesterday, and there's very little color on the hillsides as yet, and what there is seems more springlike than autumnal. The colors are pastel and dusty. The only brilliance seems to be on sycamore, birch, and aspen, and for those of you who know about such things, that's on the yellow side of things. That's something I've noticed in the past few years -- more aspens around here. I wonder what that's all about? We never used to have those, that I know about. They were more a western tree. Perhaps the coyotes brought them with so they'd feel more at home. . .

Quote of the Day: "In my day artists wanted to be outcasts, pariahs. Now they are all integrated into society."

-- Marcel Duchamp

I've often wondered about this phenomenon. Artists have kowtowed to the powers-that-be for too long, and look at the result -- too much of too much. An excess of excess. A superfluity of cleverness, and very little of substance (if one can claim substance in an enterprise that deals purely in illusion, the surface of things, and chicanery).


Monday, October 15, 2007     Pilot Cars & Old Guitars
(11:56 am)

I made two trips to Stonewall Resort in Lewis County last week. That's the one with the Arnold Palmer golf course (yawn!). In my travels, I noticed several "wide loads" traveling I-79. The thing that astonishes me is that they have pilot cars or trucks with flashing lights and big signs driving in front of the vehicle with the load. Why??? It serves absolutely no purpose to have a pilot vehicle in front of a load on a highway that has no oncoming traffic. Behind? Yes that makes sense, but there only needs to be a warning in front of the wide load when it exits onto surface roads and streets. I suspect this is some state law that was enacted prior to Interstate and other divided highways. I don't get the reasoning behind it. It's most likely costing extra money to have wide loads hauled, given the cost of the driver and the operation of the vehicle. And why wouldn't pilot vehicles be the most fuel-efficient automobiles available? Using pick-up trucks, which have much lower gas mileage than even a minivan, is wasteful. Most wide loads I've seen on the Interstate have one pilot in front and two behind. The two behind would suffice, with one of them moving to the front just before the exit they intend to use. My little mind is boggled at this arrangement. I'll have to check up on the law and see why this is happening.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

I thought it was money that talked and. . . uh, never mind.

How very un-Chinese! The Tao Te Ching says, "Preach what you cannot practice and Practice what you cannot preach," and "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name." It's kind of like a revised version of the old west homily, "If you're gonna talk the talk, ya gotta walk the walk." Or something to that effect.

Quote of the Day:
"Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother."

-- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 20

And what, you ask, does any of this have to do with old guitars? Nothing. That's what this paragraph is for. I've been watching the new Showtime series, Californication starring David Duchovney. In it, he plays a one-hit wonder writer who penned a book called God Hates Us All which was then turned into a smarmy film called (!) A Crazy Little Thing Called Love. In the series he is estranged from his former girlfriend, with whom they have a 12-year-old daughter. In the most recent episode, the daughter, who already has one of the new Gibson Les Paul models that costs in the neighborhood of three grand, wants another guitar. Hank, Duchovney's alter ego in this series, having reaped bonus money from the film, and having bought himself a new Porsche, takes daughter dearest to the guitar shop, where he encounters a down-on-his-luck not-quite-so-young-anymore guitarist with a two-year old daughter. The fellow is trying to sell his old guitar to the guy at the shop with no luck. He seems desparate. Daughter dearest sees the vintage wood and wants it. They follow the fellow outside and eventually trade $13,300 (which is approximately what the guitar is worth) for the axe. The guitar looks to be a Les Paul double cut with P-90 pickups. I'm not sure really what it is, but really the point is, 12-year-old girls playing vintage instruments worth five figures in a pop-garage band??? A true player, most likely like the fellow who had to sell it to feed his family, should have such an instrument, not a fucking child!! I'm all for kids having nice instruments to learn on, but a child with an heirloom instrument when her future course as a musician hasn't been established is merely money being enamoured of itself. I can relate to Hank in this series somewhat, but in this episode he pretty wells sums it up: "Well, maybe I am an asshole."

You might say that the guitars I own are wasted, too, since I don't play out much except for the monthly open mic. I may start doing other volunteer performance venues, however. Even at that, my electric guitars would be considered a waste. The thing is, at one time I did earn money, even make a living with guitars (none of the ones I currently own, though). I don't suppose any of this justifies my ownership of even one nice guitar (of which I count seven as being "nice"). I just want to make sure you, dear reader, understand that I understand the tinge of hypocrisy inherent in my judgement of derision for a kid owning a vintage instrument. I suppose my guitars could easily find better homes were they not as expensive as they are (and that's not really that expensive at all, since out of the dozen guitars I own, only three of them cost four figures). I'm sure some young players who can't afford new strings would be thrilled to have even the non-nice guitars I have. It just rankles me to see rich kids given greater opportunity at the expense of someone who is more deserving simply because of an accident of birth.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007     End of an Era
(11:43 am)

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

What luck?

That's it for the fortune cookie fortunes, at least for now. We're not having Chinese frequently enough to keep a supply to continue even on an intermittent basis, much less a daily one. I'll continue to pop a fortune into the text here and there, but it will no longer be an every-day-I-post thing. I'll include other bits and pieces here and there instead, and sometimes it will just be a paragraph or two about whatever crosses what's left of my mind on any particular day.

Poem of the Day:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

-- Percy Bysshe Shelley

The occasionaly poem may appear here. I'll include more contemporary poems when I can get permission to use them, but for the most part the poems included here will be well out of copyright.

I'm trying to think of other things to include in this narrative. Since my brain seems to want to shut down for the most part, I'll have to drag in material from outside sources to keep things interesting. I guess I'm just not stimulating my mind enough for it to produce much original material on its own. Maybe some electric-shock therapy would help. . .

I'm sure those of you who customarily use a laptop computer, particularly one from Toshiba and certain other select brands, are familiar with Microsoft's neat little program, One-Note.It's a great program, but at a hundred bucks, a little costly. I've found another similar program that is much cheaper and works in a very similar manner. It's called Evernote. It's great for storing and retrieving all sorts of information. You can cut and paste things into it, write with a stylus if you have one, drag and drop most anything on the web directly into it, snip sections of spreadsheets, documents, whatever, and dump screen shots. It's extremely flexible and the things you put into it are easy to locate. I use it kind of like a scrapbook/journal. I'll have to look into the potential it has for a project such as this. It might be very useful. Give it a try. You'll be glad you did. This is not a paid advertisement, just an enthusiastic endorsement by a pleased customer. Did I mention, it's free?


Friday, October 26, 2007     Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
(10:55 am)

I wanna know-whoa, have you ever seen the rain. Comin' down. . . Finally! some rain. We haven't has this much rain since April. It's nice, but I'd made plans for this weekend, and rain will definitely disrupt them. Oh well. We need the rain.

Quote of the Day: "Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen."

-- James Russel Lowell

Maybe we could move some of this rain to Southern California. It sure would help with the wildfires. When the rain does come, as it nearly always does out there in November, the defoliated hillsides will slip onto highways and houses and cause more damage. The winter I was in California, there had been fires in October and when the monsoon season hit, the mudslides were horrific. There was three feet of mud on Melrose Avenue. I helped clean up a recording studio there after the mudslide. I think this was the mudslide season that Steven Stills wrote about.

I still can't believe that 31% of the American public thinks George W.(anker) Bush is doing a good job. The good thing is that if he does a good job with the disaster in California, he'll be accused of favoring the well-to-do Southern Californians over the poor black New Orleanians. If he does a bad job, "Oh well, that figures." There has been a lot of hue and cry about the National Guard from California not being available to fight the fires there since they're deployed to Iraq. The military is so messed up because of this president that it would not bode well if he had a legitimate threat to deal with. I wonder what the deal is with the Blackwater mercenaries being controlled by the State Department instead of the Department of Defence? Bush's private army to retain control after his term is supposed to end? I fear for our liberty.


Monday, October 29, 2007     Not Paying Attention
(10:43 am)

We had a nice road trip yesterday, to Cranberry Glades, the Green Bank Observatory, and beyond. We were about a week late for peak autumn color, but Ann had to work last weekend so the opportunity wasn't there. I took about 100 photographs, but unfortunately few of them are useable. I didn't check my camera settings before I starting snapping away. Well, the exposure compensation was set to the maximum and most of the shots came out overexposed to the degree that tweaking them on the computer yields only high-contrast "artsy"-looking products, which is fine in some instances, but not in most. That's what happens when you don't pay attention to the details.

Quote of the Day: "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."

-- Vincent Van Gogh

Perhaps I've put my mind into my work, lost it, and my heart and soul as well. . .

I'm beat. We were on the road just about 13 hours yesterday -- covered over 400 miles. That's a little over 30 miles per hour. Considering the fact that we spent about two hours at Cranberry Glades, an hour at Green Bank, and about two hours on meals and pitstops, that comes to about 45 MPH, which is pretty good, considering that we were about 2500 feet most of the day on twisty roads. Part of the time we were well above 4000 feet. I love it up in the mountains. I just wish we could have gone a week earlier when the leaves were in their glory. I also wish I'd checked the camera settings. Nuts! Anyway, here's one photograph I managed to get in presentation shape. It's a ballustrade on the end of the bridge at Cass, WV. I took the shot in color but converted it to black and white when I cropped it because, well, I like it better that way.

Digital Camera Image [2007_1028Image0089, converted to black and white, cropped, adjusted] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200, Program AE, 1/125, f/8, Exposure Compensation +1-1/3, Canon 17-85 mm IS lens @ 33mm]
"Along the Meadow River"

Cass is an interesting little town. Sometime I should ride the Scenic Railroad train there and snap a few shutters. I'd like to get there early in the day and take some shots of the town as well. There is a row of two storey wooden-frame "company" houses along the main thoroughfare. Since they're two-storey and not the typical single floor shanty-type dwellings, I presume that they were built by the railroad, not a coal company. I could be wrong. It would be worth researching. I'll have to do that someday.

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