Friday, August 28, 2009

Funny pic Friday

From my silverware drawer:

Rorschach Spoon finds you mildly amusing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

For lack of timing

I've been trying to do some home recording while the wife and kids are away. My problem is that I haven't played along to music or with a live drummer in so long my timing is horrible. What I've discovered is that I really need to jam along to the original recordings for a while. Which means I won't be doing any recording in the near future.

I have also discovered that I need to find some good drum programming software. I've been scouring the webs and I have found tons of programs, but I find it hard to commit to something. I don't want a drum loop editor, I want to be able to program an entire drum part (or sections) for a song. I used to use a program called Drums!, and it was good for composing but the drum sounds were a bit hollow and weren't easy to edit. I have run across a program called SoundTrek Drummer that looks like it will do the job I want. I don't expect most of my reader(s) to have experience, but if you know anyone who might be able to impart sage advice, I would be highly appreciative.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My cynicism rises

This post at Wizbang by the always-awesome Lori Byrd made me think of this:

I haven't injured enough brain cells to be Jello Biafra-level paranoid, but this administration makes one think.

The Killer

1. Jerry Lee Lewis is releasing his fist country album since the 1970s later this year.

2. His first single, "Mean Old Man," became available today (I'm assuming on iTunes).

3. Awesome.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dirty Monday

I've been craving some dirty rice for a few days and finally decided to make it yesterday. I picked up some cheap smoked sausage at Wally World and if there is any one thing I would change is that I would have used better sausage. Still it turned out very good. Here's the deal:

1 1/2 - 2 cups diced smoked sausage
1 cup ground beef
1 cup long-grain white rice
3 cups beef stock
2 1/2 - 3 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 cup diced sweet peppers
1 cup chopped green onions
3 gloves garlic, minced
Several shakes of dried onion flakes

Prepare rice with 2 cups of beef stock.

Brown ground beef and sausage and season to taste. Add garlic and onion flakes. Let simmer together for a few minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and cook until the celery begins to become slightly translucent. Add rice and the rest of the beef stock and simmer until the rest of the liquid is absorbed.

Like I said above, I would have used a better quality sausage if I did it again and I think I would have used a bit more stock. That extra one cup at the end seemed a bit too little. Maybe 4 cups total of beef stock (or you could use chicken). That's the thing I love about these dishes is that you can pretty much throw anything you want in there, it could be a much different tasting dish than someone else's recipe, but it's still the same thing.

Good eats, y'all.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Da winna

Thank you Kate! The wonderful Kate P ran a contest a little while ago and declared me the winner. Her prize to me were the two books pictured which arrived in the mail today. The Mysterious Benedict Society looks like something my oldest is going to devour in a day (maybe two). Daughter Number 2 will like it too, I believe. I Stink looks like the entire family is going to get a kick out of it.

This was very thoughtful and wonderful. Rest assured, they'll get well used.

Take your weak resistance

Throw it in your face.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pick on them all you want

But GWAR is capable of some downright awesome punk songs.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Unintended bachelor

Things are awfully quiet here in Cullenland. J-mom and the munchkins had to take an emergency trip to Arizona for a family issue and will be gone for a couple of weeks. The reason behind the trip sucks, but it's nice that they get to go out there and see family. It has been years since J-mom has seen some of her family. Bo has never seen many of the family members out there. So, here I am. Just me and the dog.

It was fun for about five hours. Nice and quiet, and I was able to do whatever I wanted to do in peace. Then I started to miss everyone something fierce. No Bo telling me that "I'm right and you're wrong, daddy." No Daughter Number 2 using her favorite form of transportation - the cartwheel. No Daughter Number 3 reading books and fussing at everyone. No J-mom keeping everything in order.

This is the crew at the Petrified Forest near Holbrook, AZ, earlier today. They're still driving to Mesa. And their hoping to make it there by 9 or so tonight. It's day two and I'm already dying without them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Guitar Center is awesome

I bought this model guitar a couple of weeks ago from the Memphis Guitar Center. It was broken. Guitar Center replaced it. They rock.

The one I got was a sratch-and-dent special with a couple of cracks in the finish on the top and side of the body. No biggie and barely noticeable. Yet, for a couple of hairline cracks in the finish, the had knocked $150 off the price. I couldn't pass that up.

I played it in the store a bit and just loved the way it played. I picked it up and got a gig bag to go with it.

Getting home I was just loving it. But. But, I notice there's an odd rattle. It's subtle. I didn't notice it in the store. You couldn't hear it and can barely feel it. I think, "Hmm, maybe there's a piece of loose hardware." I began feeling around in the F holes and on the lower one I probed under toward the pickups and felt a piece of wood where there shouldn't have been one. Looking inside, one of the top braces had broken and fallen. The brace had pickup wires attached to it which kept it in place and, in turn, made it barely noticeable.

I called the store about it and they ordered me a replacement. Easy peasy. The first replacement came in last week and it had a cracked neck. No problem though. They just sent it back and got another one - that I picked up last night. Just awesome! This one has no cracks in the finish, the braces are all in place - for all intents and purposes it's a brand new guitar. Hell of deal guys.

As for the product itself, I can't say enough good things about these Ibanez Artcores. I've been wanting a hollow body now for a couple of years. I've been a solid-body guitar player for most of my guitar-playing days. I learned to play on a POS acoustic I found in my grandfather's attic and I've had a grudge against them for a very long time. Only lately have I come around to liking hollow-body electrics and acoustics again. Has a lot to do with my musical tastes growing, but I also think there are many more product lines available today that makes things like a hollow-body archtop accessible to a player like myself who can't afford/doesn't want to shell out the money for a Gretsch or Gibson.

Anyway, the Ibanez fills a nice niche by providing affordable, high-quality semi-hollow and hollow body guitars when the only real options used to be low-end Epiphones. Not that I'm going to diss Epiphone. They make a nice guitar here and there, but they're basic budget line is quite basic and budget. For the price, you get a lot more guitar out of the Ibanez than you do a comparably priced Epiphone. And try to find a full hollowbody for under $500 with a vintage style tremolo/vibrato. Not going to happen outside of these Artcores.

I did play the Gretsch Electromatics that are about $200 - $250 more than this model Ibanez and I got to say, for playability the Gretsch and Ibanez are close. The Gretsch just vibes better though. You can also feel the difference between the Bigsby and Ibanez vibrato units. The Bigsby is just a much more solid and fluid piece of equipment. Plugging them in, the Gretsch again shows its superiority. At least in providing what you expect from a hollow-body archtop. The highs had greater clarity and there was more of that pronounced twang. However, the Ibanez is no slouch. The sound from the Artcore is full and rich and in no way disappointing. And the price point makes it the far better deal. I got my Artcore for $350 (again, $150 off 'cause the scratch-and-dent). The lowest price I can touch a Gretsch Electromatic is for $699. Even at the list price of $499 for the Artcore, it's a bargain. At my price, it was a no brainer. And, if you're really picky about your sound, you can drop a pair of $100 Seymour Duncans in, have everything you'll need, and still come in under the Gretsch's price point.

The guitar comes strung with .10-guage D'Addario strings and if you get crazy on that vibrato, your G string will go flat pretty quickly. I've read that if you string with .11- or .12-guage flatwound jazz strings, you won't have that problem. I'll wait and see. If I keep having the problem, I might have to put some locking tuners on the thing.

I'll let y'all know what I find out. I'll be playing this thing a lot in the future.

UPDATE: Y'all. I can't get over how good this guitar sounds. I finally plugged it in here at home and took it through some clean and dirty paces. All I have here is a little 15W Fender Bullet Reverb amp. It's not much but it has a pretty decent sound. Perfect little home jam amp. But this thing just came alive with this guitar plugged into it. Can't explain how much depth out sound and color I never realized was available until I used this guitar with the amp. Just too awesome.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul

Wow. This one hit me hard. I mean, the man lived a long and productive life, but when such a legend passes ... it's a disturbance in the force, you know? Admittedly, for many years I knew a lot more about his guitars than I did the man.

There area so many things he will be remembered for. Great guitarist. Inventor. Innovator.

I'm at work and can't get to YouTube, but here's a classic Les Paul and Mary Ford clip from another video site:

The countdown begins

Today we are one month out from Disneyworld. We have been planning this trip for a long time and it should be a great time. I don't even care about my back. If I have to dope up and pay the consequences later - so be it.

Another benefit of homeschooling - getting to take family trips in the off season.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To not MRI

I saw my doctor today because I don't play around with back pain any more. I was expecting to be sent out for an MRI, probably have some disc-reltaed issue again and have to discuss my options from there. This is what happened last time.

This time, the doctor wanted us to "drag our feet" a bit on things. He's not happy at the idea that it may be a disc issue again and thinks it very well might be some scar tissue inflaming the nerve root. I allowed that. He did say that it seems the pain isn't as severe as last time, and I allowed that - today. I told him what the past couple of days have been like - pretty freaking painful - and he said that a disc issue would most likely have constant pain through the days. I allowed that even though that wasn't the case in the past. I had good days and bad days. I am completely willing, however, to wait it out a little bit because I'm certainly no fan of surgery.

So, he asked me to take some NSAIDs for a while and see if that helps. He gave me some Vicodin for when the pain gets rough. Hopefully it's just inflamation. I'm not optimistic, but I have hope. I'm not looking forward to the alternative.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mopey Monday

It hurts to walk. It hurts to stand. It hurts less to sit. My back's messing with me again. I had really hoped the last surgery would take care of everything, but I've been having twinges here and there for the past couple of months. Saturday night I felt a familiar and very unwelcome pain shooting down my leg. So, that's kind of got me down.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Video Friday

Into every life, a little Dio must fall

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Health mess

Of course, I'm not a big supporter of the president's plan as far as health care is concerned. I am, however, of the opinion that our health care system could use some modifying. So, to extend an olive branch to reform, I offer the following two-step health care "overhaul" proposal:

1. The government will offset the cost of health insurance for those claiming a net income of $50,000 a year or less.
a. The plan would pay 50% of insurance premiums for those clearing $50K up to 100% for those making less than $30K.
b. Insurance companies eligible for the plan would be the same who participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program. The government wouldn't have to re-contract for a new program, just extend a pre-existing program.
c. VOLUNTARY, not mandatory.

2. If a health-care provider has an agreement to accept a particular insurance provider, that health-care provide will only be allowed to charge the amount that is the negotiated price between the insurance company and the health-care provider.
a. Deductibles are still in place.
b. Every bit of a procedure should be covered - anesthesia, misc. materials, etc.

In point 1, Americans get their health care subsidized but generally not free. Competition is still in place in that there are several insurance providers available to choose from. The program puts the onus upon the consumer to sign up.

Point 2 is an ongoing contentious one with me. I can't help but be frustrated that when you go in for a procedure, you pay your deductible, and then you still have to wind up paying hundreds if not thousands more because the health-care provider still charged way more than the "negotiated amount." Torques me off.

Anyway, that's my plan. It's not perfect and it would be expensive, but it's a lot better than what I hear being thrown around the Hill right now.