Can you just do your damn job?

Gear, General, Guitar, People Comments Off on Can you just do your damn job?

The past week or so has been a series of frustrations. Mostly waiting for other folks to get their acts together. I’m sure I’ve let people down myself in the past, although my ego has blocked the memory for the moment. But the stuff that’s been going on here is getting kind of stupid.

First up we have a bureaucrat at my wife’s school, who seems to think she’s suddenly been promoted to some sort of Administrator position (she’s the ADA coordinator). She’s taken it upon herself to threaten Patty with refusal to let her start her fall semester if she doesn’t comply with the workarounds they’ve concocted to cover for their lack of ADA compliance.

It’s a long, long story, but the bottom line is that she’s required to attend two weeks’ residency each semester, and the rest is done online. It’s a great program, but the residence facilities there are absolutely abysmal. Example: on the day I dropped her off last March for the first shot at this, the temperature there was a record-breaking 28 degrees below zero. And there was no heat in the “dorm” where they’d put her. I quote “dorm” because the building where students are housed is more like a summer camp billet than any kind of dormitory I’ve ever seen (including during 3 years in the Army). The list goes on: no lights on the grounds at night, cobblestone walkways at the mercy of the incessant northern New England frost heave cycle, doorways too narrow for a standard walker, let alone a wheelchair, drainage so poor that the roads turn to instant mud with each rain… and then freeze into an impassable badlands during the night. It’s a joke.

But the issue, really, is that Patty was able to cope with all that (and much, much more) and still be the first student to have her semester program approved (part of the residency activity – all done online, though, so it’s a mystery why it has to be done there). Naturally, we informed the school of the vast deficiencies in their ADA compliance, making suggestions where appropriate – from the viewpoint of one whom the ADA regs are supposedly designed to help. The newly hired coordinator has apparently decided to take that information personally, not sure why. But of course now, on top of dealing with the “fun” of MS AND completing the coursework for her summer semester, Patty has to deal with this idiot telling her she might be prevented from continuing her education because the school refused to comply with basic ADA regulations.

So that’s one… Next on the list are the guys who have my guitars.

My Lyle 12-string, which I purchased in 1973, has been through the mill, big time. In the 34+ years I’ve had it, it’s neck has gotten warped, there’s a hairline crack in the heel (from a motorcycle incident, no less), a few of the tuning machines are falling apart, there are string retention pegs missing from the bridge and it definitely needs a new saddle. But it’s the oldest thing I personally own and it has a sound that has been complimented by more than one studio engineer and at least two professional musicians. I’d like to get it fixed if at all possible, so I took it to a local music shop to see what their luthier had to say about it. Since I was making the trip, I also brought along the aforementioned Gibson The Paul II for a basic setup. Next Monday both these instruments will have been sitting at the shop for a month, with no indication whatsoever when -or if – they’ll be worked on. I’ve called numerous times to no avail. The option at this point looks like just picking them up and starting over somewhere else. Unfortunately, the paucity of luthiers in the area makes it a bit difficult to know where to go next, and I’m getting tired of researching the issue.

According to one of their salespeople, the Nashville B-Bender Telecaster I ordered from Music123 last Saturday was packed up and ready for shipment on Sunday… and it’s been sitting in the warehouse since. Several calls and emails to them as well. The most recent explanation is “The reason it has not gone out yet is the warehouse started shipping everything at the same time so there has been a slight delay although your order should go out soon.” I guess “at the same time” means they’re now trying to save money by having fewer pickups. Like once a month? Not sure what “soon” means. Maybe October. Hey! zZounds!! Why don’t YOU folks carry this item!!! *sigh*

Finally, I had the joy on Monday morning of learning that my boss had either quit or been fired. I still don’t know which. His boss (my new boss) won’t say, and he’s not responding to the emails I sent him asking what happened and, then, letting him know he’d be missed. What I do know is that the reasons he’s gone (there are multiple) are wholly due to the fact that his bosses won’t do their damn jobs. To boot, my new boss is now “out” for a couple days – with nary a mention of this to me – and apparently won’t be back until next Monday. I’m a big boy, and I can certainly manage my own time for the next couple days. That’s not the point though, is it. It is, however, a good example of the sort of thing that ultimately led to the issues that culminated in Monday morning.

Then there’s the 110th Congress…

we have ignition…

Audio Recording, General, Software Comments Off on we have ignition…

The move went fairly smoothly yesterday, and the exercise was a good point to clean up a lot of the cruft that has been accumulating behind my desk here over the years. I ended up replacing some long, bundled CAT-5 cables with shorter ones, removed some of the tangle… that sort of thing. Plus, I had an HP LaserJet IIIP sitting on the ‘top rack’ above my monitor (I have an old O’Sullivan Corner Cockpit) that has slowly quit feeding paper over the last couple years (the rollers are just worn out). It’s now history and allofasudden I have LOTS of room to put a growing stack of books on my reading list, plus other stuff. I was toying with the idea of stacking the Tascam and JV up there, but (1) the FireWire cable I have wouldn’t have reached and (2) it would have been virtually impossible to get at the back of either unit to change patches, etc.

I can’t imagine one of today’s HP printers lasting 15 years anymore. Of course they’re about 1/5-to-1/10th the price for what you get in terms of functionality these days. At over 15 years old, I figured I’ve gotten my use out of this one and decided not to take it in again for a repair, which would only be its second. It’s functional, though, so I’ll likely drop it off at the local tech school and let them fiddle with it. Truth be told, I probably have 5 or 6 old computers I should bring along as well. They’re just taking up space. Kind of amazing how many computers I’ve (we’ve) gone through in 17 years living here. I count …

  1. Arche Rival 286 Desktop
  2. Gateway Desktop #1
  3. Gateway Desktop #2
  4. Homebuilt (from parts) Tower – Windows
  5. Homebuilt (from parts) Tower – Overclocking experiment / Linux
  6. Dell Desktop (purchased when I left Meca) – Linux
  7. Dell Latitude CPxJ Laptop
  8. ABS PC Desktop #1
  9. ABS PC Desktop #2 (current -mine)
  10. Dell Inspiron 9400 Laptop (current -Patty’s)

Scary. I wouldn’t even want to count up all the CRTs and peripheral crap stuffed in drawers, chests, corners, closets, attic, boxes, basement, crawlspace, etc. The Linux boxes still fire up, as well as a few of the others. None of them older than the CPxJ will run XP or the more recent versions of the various Linux GUI desktops, however. Probably time to take the hard drives out of those and just donate them someplace. If I didn’t throw it out, I may also actually have an old Atari 520 ST (w/upgrade to a full megabyte of RAM!!!) in a box somewhere in the attic. I’m pretty sure I sold my Atari 800. The Arche was the first “IBM Compatible” I ever bought. These days I sometimes almost wish I’d taken the Mac route. Still could, I suppose.

SONAR‘s now updated to Producer ver. 6.2.1. Nice installer. Doesn’t require uninstall or overwrite of your older version (this is discouraged in their Read This First sheet, actually), which still functions fine as far as I can tell. Also does you the favor of tracking down and copying over your previous version preferences and INS settings. This was particularly appreciated, as it’s not a trivial task to get the JV-1080’s INS files installed and set up so that SONAR can make sense of them.

I loaded up the Wannabe Life project, saved it as a new copy (be sure to do this if you ever want to open the original in a pre-6 version of SONAR), moved a few of the outputs around and – after recovering from my initial confusion about the “new” MIDI latency coming out of the sound card (introduced by the Tascam), plugged a set of headphones in (to the FW-1804 monitor) and things sound great! So of course now I’m thinking about a pair of active studio monitors. Since I can simply send the 1804’s analog output to the Audigy card’s Line In, for the moment monitors aren’t really a priority. Although I have a feeling the sound difference is going to be pretty serious, as the 2.1 sound system I’m using came along for the ride with that first Gateway desktop you see up there. I’ll definitely get a pair before trying to actually “master” anything. For now, this works just fine.

Oh, and I’ve decided on Fender’s American Nashville B-Bender Telecaster.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Audio Recording, General, Guitar Comments Off on Happy Friday the 13th!

Marking time here.

Part two of the Tascam adventure will need to wait a few. I really wanted to redo/document the steps I used to get a clear, low-noise, direct-input, simple guitar recording, but part of what I was doing was to get the difference in tone ‘on tape’ and the pickup switch transient finally just pissed me off. So the Telecaster is on its way back due to the electrical problem. I really couldn’t see spending the time and effort to ship or bring the thing in for a warranty repair after having spent that much on what should have been an excellent git, out-of-the-box. I know, Fender quality isn’t the greatest. At this point I’m willing to accept that sometimes getting the right instrument requires a few tries – or spending lots of time (which I don’t have) playing multiple guitars in lots of stores.

Hopefully the Paul II will be back from the shop soon – it’s having it’s first mechanical tuneup/setup (after well over 10 years, it deserved some love) – and I can continue the process with that while considering the next move on acquiring a nice Telecaster.

After having seen what was done (by Fender) with the Vintage ’52, I have to say that, ultimately, I wasn’t very impressed – except maybe with the remarkable tweed case! Anyway, I think I’m leaning back to my original plan, which was the American Series Telecaster – Natural Body / Maple Neck model (0118400721), although I’ll definitely be putting a single-ply black pickguard on it. The white just doesn’t quite cut it, IMHO. The hitch at this point – and this is something that’s been in the back of my mind all along, ‘cuz I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one since I first saw a Bender back in the ’70s – is whether or not to choose the Nashville B-Bender. The options are to get a nice, basic model – like the American Series – and have it refitted later by The Man (Gene Parsons), or get the factory-installed Nashville model straight from Fender.

The former choice is quite a bit more pricey, but in the long run probably a better way to go in terms of quality and – though it’s not really a consideration at this point – resale value later on, having been installed by the Master. The question is whether or not the difference in quality will be noticed by a relatively mediocre player like myself. Also the Nashville Telecaster Fender ships with their factory installed Bender seems much more versatile, tone-wise, than the simpler American Series model that I’d probably have refitted: extra pickup, 5 tone combinations instead of 2-1/2. Most importantly, those combinations include the ‘standard’ Tele’ pickup selectors, so it would seem you get classic Tele’ sound plus others as well. Maybe one of the local shops has one to try out. Downside: it only comes in black and 3-color sunburst, no natural. Upside: black is my second color choice (with a single-ply, black replacement pickguard, of course).

On the writing front, I’ve gotten the chorus, bridge(s) and the bulk of the first couple verses put together for a rewrite of Hard Road Down – something I started and actually finished quite a few years ago, but was never totally satisfied with. I have always felt it had the potential to be a ‘great’ tune, but lacks in the area of compelling lyrics. They’re just so-so, IMHO. Workin’ on that, and now I have motivation and inspiration in the form of the stuff needed to do a “full-band” recording for it, complete with a cello/guitar duet instrumental section I’ve been noodling on. Most likely it’ll be me playing everything, so it’ll stay pretty simple, but the important thing is to finish it, for the sake of finishing it, and get it down for posteriority.

Recording-wise, back when I got to This Page in Rich the Tweak’s awesome Guide, I took him up on the challenge there and actually started putting down the basic drum/bass tracks for Wannabe Life, another tune that’s only ever been heard by the demons in my head. When they’re listening. Which isn’t often. There are some nice vocal “Doos” in the Vocal expansion I have in the JV-1080, so I put down some (super)scratch vocals just to hear what the harmony might sound like with a little pseudo-B3 along for the ride. Here’s 30 seconds’ worth – everything centered, no mix, no effects. Progress on this has been interrupted by EDLI (every-day life issues), but things are settling a bit, and so once things are hooked together tomorrow, I can get back to it.

So, tomorrow is a minor Moving Day. The JV – which right now is kind of neatly buried in my corner cockpit desk here – will get a new home over there underneath the Tascam so I can use short cables to connect them. After that, install SONAR 6, which arrived this week, and get back to tweaking!

Independence Day

General 1 Comment

Appropriate.

Not sure I’m totally sold on this WordPress theme yet. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

So… what are we doing here, exactly? Well, after decades (yes, multiple) of ignoring a passion for something that once Was a passion, I’m going back to it. This would be, of course, Music. As it turned out, this involved no small amount of self-permission. Pursuit of music – at least the performance of music – has always been at odds with life, making a living, relationships and such. Through the years I think that’s translated, evolved or morphed, if you will, into the foundations of a negative neuro-association. The result? Playing is ‘frivolous’. New gear is ‘a waste’. Practice ‘eats up time’ that could be better spent on more serious pursuits. And on and on.

Enough of that.

I hereby give myself permission to pursue something I’ve always loved and used to be pretty good at.

Done.

Why the blog? Mostly it’s just a convenient place (through it’s rather universal accessibility) to keep records, thoughts, lyric ideas, research, etc. Although there are times when actively playing, practicing, recording, songwriting, et al., become almost as much like work as work. Sometimes I just want to write about the process itself. Journals are cumbersome and my handwriting sucks anymore. Typing is easier. And I’m comfortable with blog software – especially WordPress which, I have to say, I’m really super impressed with, having just installed Ver. 2.2 and played around with it a little. It seems to get easier to install and use with each revision. More on that aspect in general, as it relates to getting things ‘for free,’ in future posts.

For now, we establish the beachhead and head beyond the shingle.

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