dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)

A bit of a grab-bag entry (er ... as though that's anything unusual) as I try to get ready for Pennsic.

Baitcon: I mentioned that there were lots of folks I was glad to see, and that the "folks I don't see often enough" category is too large. There were too many members of that category present for me to get to talk to everyone I wanted to. I'm glad of the chance to catch up with the ones I did manage to. I really need to plan a road trip to Boston (and several other places) once I have a car again.

On the whole I had a great time -- meteorological, culinary, musical, and social aspects were all wonderful -- and my body only "stole time" from me by forcing me to rest-more-than-healthy-people when I would rather have been making music or being social, rather than wiping out my weekend entirely. It was frustrating but I'm trying to recalibrate my expectations. (Much like the past couple years at Pennsic where I've had to pace myself in such a way that I get about a week worth of Pennsic in the two weeks spent there. Getting more folks to come hang out in my camp would help summat.)

After Baitcon: my right wrist has been excruciatingly painful since sometime on the way home from Baitcon. :-( Enough so that perhaps it's just as well that miscommunication interfered with my getting to 3LF rehearsal this week. I did find a position in which I can play bass guitar without aggravating it farther, but I'm not sure I can play double bass right now, and really vigorous strumming on guitar (like I do in HCB) would be a major problem. I've no idea what I did to it, and am feeling rather impatient about its healing, since I'm concerned about being able to play when it's time to perform.

Pennsic whoops: The somewhat Rube Goldberg shipping arrangements for a package I need from London, Ontario fell through. (The "fault", if one can be said to exist, lies more with the fragility of a plan involving so many steps, rather than the failure of any one person trying to do me a favour; also, my own lack of foresight in getting things moving early enough to compensate for glitches.) This has the potential to make my Pennsic significantly uncomfortable. I don't suppose there's anyone who could arrange to bring me two weeks worth of certain Canadian goods on such short notice? (Specifically the generic version of Reactine [Zyrtec] which I know I'm going to want in that dusty, smoky environment, and codeine+caffeine+acetaminophen tablets [unless a version with ibuprofen instead of aceteminophen exists], which I very much hope not to need, but am very likely to given that Pennsic is a bit rough on my body. The Reactine has to be the plain version, without any decongestant -- 10mg tablets preferred, though I can double up on 5mg pills or use a pill-splitter to chop 20mg ones in half.)

And not really a 'whoops', though I do wish I'd thought to ask earlier than this: is there anybody in my area (Baltimore) not going to Pennsic, who has a 12V deep-cycle battery that I could borrow for two weeks? Merely a convenience, as opposed to the rather more pressing medical needs in the preceeding paragraph, but hey, if it works out ...

And a little-whoops: I'm still looking to trade a 128MB Memory Stick Pro that I can't use (actually it's a Pro Duo in an adapter) for a 128MB or even a 64MB Memory Stick not-'Pro' that I can use. I meant to try to arrange such a trade for Baitcon but forgot.

Not related to anything in particular (1): Every so often a friend sets up, or tweaks, their custom filters to show journal entries on different topics to different people, and there's usually a round of "which filters do you want to be on?". If I'm actually getting around to reading everything and commenting that week, I usually say something like this, which I'll borrow [info] emeraldliz's words for because they're more concise than mine:

"I get tired of people deciding they suddenly need a dozen friends lists and asking people if they want to be on them. If I'm a friend- it's cuz I want to read your stuff. If you don't want me to read it, that's up to you. If I don't want to read it, it's up to me."

Note that I don't expect everyone on my friendslist who decides a month or a year or a decade from now to remember the Published Filter Policy of every person on their friendslist, so therefore I am not demanding that this statement be remembered and taken into account, but I figure I may as well at least put it out there just in case.

Actually, if there were an "add this user-plus-tag" option when friending someone or adding them to one of your own reading filters, then tags could be used to push the whole "opt-in filter" concept into the reader's sphere-of-control. (Even better would be that plus "except if this tag is present" as options, so that I could exclude certain only-occasionally-interesting and usually verbose subjects fom my "busy" reading filter, while still leaving them on my default view. It would have to be user+tag, not just tag-regardless-of-user, because different people use the same tag different ways.) As I've observed before, I'm sure there are folks who would like to be able to subscribe to my QotD entries without getting the rest of my journal.

Not related to anything in particular (2): I was thinking last week about what's nice about being in a place where lots of guys are wearing kilts, and was reminded of it at Baitcon when somebody made an appreciative comment about men in skirts (kilts and otherwise): It's been quite adequately demonstrated that a large percentage of women really like seeing men in kilts or in skirted garments in general. Not all of these women will be attracted to me, but in an environment where there are lots of kilts being worn, the odds are that for each woman present, there will be at least one guy she finds distractingly attractive wearing a kilt within visual range. So women at such events tend to be, if not exactly aroused per se, at least a little ... "revved up", "sparkly", happy, tittilated. And even when they're not looking at me, that energy is perceptible, and I find that energy, that undercurrent of awareness-of-aroused-females-of-my-species pervading the environment, to be pleasurable in itself. I like being around aroused women. It feels nice. A pleasant glow for an empath.

Really, I've never quite understood why so relatively few cisgendered American guys (outside of the Pagan community, Celtic festivals, medieval reenactment contexts, and the contradance scene) choose to wear unbifurcated garments, given how positively -- and usually quite openly so -- many women respond when they see men wearing such things. (Admittedly, I first noticed the connection as a side effect of being transgendered, but I eventually would've caught on from being at medieval events and Scottish events, and would have realized as several of my friends and acquaintances appear to have, that kilts tend to please the ladies.)

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)

Regarding Sunday's QotD: sure enough, somebody did. There was ceviche ice cream (which no, I did not taste, being a vegetarian, but it felt good to know that the aside I tacked onto that quote wasn't wasted).

Home again, very tired and my right wrist hurts very badly for some reason. The entries I tried to send via SMS never got posted, I guess.

Fun weekend. Way too many people that I don't see often enough. (Good that they were there; bad that so many people are in the "don't see often enough" category.) Too many to catch up with everyone. Enjoyed the conversations I did have. Played electric guitar in the pick-up band for contradancing.

Fun contextless quote (I'n not really taking it out of context, as it neither had nor needed one to begin with): "I have a titanium spork." The speaker does, in fact, have a titanium spork.

Later utterance which caused one listener to wind up with drink or food coming out his nose: "You can lick my spork." (Uttered in response to my musing that I didn't know what titanium tasted like. I licked the spork. Now I know. It tastes just similar enough to aluminium that I had to go grab a periodic table to see whether they're in the same column. They are.) There were other great lines that I can't recall at the moment, though I sure hope they come back to me later.

I've decided that ice cream flavours with habernero pepper in them are like dactyllic meter in English poetry: you can't end on them easily, because each foot/spoonfull feels like a lead-in to another line/bite, producing an effect that is very, very tasty, but unending. (Have you ever tried to write a poem in English using nothing but dactyls? It turns into the never-ending jig.) So you have to finish the poem with an iamb or a spondee or something (in English anyhow), and you have to follow the coconut-lime-habernero or amaretto-habernero ice cream with a spoonfull of chocolate coyote or sundae-all-in-one or herb-cream-cheese ice cream (or caramelized onion ice cream, or cucumber sorbet, or ...) for terminal punctuation if you ever want to be able to stop eating.

I think the herb-cream-cheese ice cream was the spondee of ice creams.

dglenn: Kickdrum (bass drum) with sneakers on the side legs (kickdrum)
'Paid attention in high school' quizmeme )

Today's an achy day. *sigh* Fortunately I was feeling well enough yesterday to pick up a few essentials at the drug store (yow, when I have to buy my OTC meds, including Prilosec, things add up in a right hurry -- quite a hit to the bank account), so I don't desperately need to hike anywhere tonight or tomorrow. I did manage to get in a couple hours of practice for a gig at Pennsic and get ahold of my mother by phone to hear how her trip to China with my sister had gone (I now have a newly-adopted niece).

Last night I fit a temporary nut in the electric mandolin (to replace the one that broke Friday. I figured I might get away with wood since there's a "zeroth fret", but the narrow spacing between the paired strings of each course makes for awfully fragile fingers of wood separating the strings of each pair. Sure enough, despite trying to avoid imposing any lateral stresses while installing it, I knocked off the bit of wood between the A strings. So those two strings are currently being held apart by a folded-up piece of cardboard. If it holds until I can get the bone nut blank cut in half and shaped (most likely after Pennsic, though if I can get it cut to the right size before Pennsic, shaping it and cutting the grooves will be a reasonable while-sitting-around-camp-shooting-the-breeze project) then at least I'll still be able to practice. I ordered a pre-grooved plastic nut online, which may or may not wind up having the right spacing for this mandolin -- if it does, it saves me a lot of rather annoying work; if not, it goes into the random parts bin and didn't cost very much.

I did tune up one of the other mandolins, a round-back, but the neck started tilting forward and opened a gap where it attaches to the body ... I think I can get enough glue into the gap, but I haven't yet figured out how to clamp or weight the thing while the glue sets. If I can solve that problem before the end of tomorrow, I can leave it to set and cure and dry very thoroughly while I'm off at Baitcon. I'm hoping that this style can be repaired effectively at that spot, since it was a similar failure that did in the mandolin that I really liked (it was much easier to play than the electric). Of course, then I get to worry whether the dry, cracked soundboard on the round-back will hold up.

Hmm. I wonder whether the instrument that appears to be a triple-strung mandolin is actually built strong enough to withstand the tension of twelve strings ... and whether there's enough room on that fingerboard to play it that way. I should've picked up extra strings last week when I was out in Catonsville. (It looks like a late-19th/early-20th Century style round-back mandolin body (I don't think this specific instrument is that old), with an elongated head and six-on-a-side tuners like a 12-string guitar, and a very shallow wooden nut with twelve faint grooves in four sets of three. At the moment it has six ancient strings on it and the broken ends of two more.

I still want a mandola and a solid-body electric mandolin someday (I've seen a Fender solid-body but it only had four strings rather than eight), but at the moment I'll settle for getting one of the ordinary mandolins into proper condition. (The electric with the nut problem is a regular modern teardrop arched-top-and-back design with f-holes -- i.e. not a bowl-back but not a Flatiron or a Flatiron-clone -- with a coil pickup and a couple of knobs, and an extra-thick soundboard (to reduce feedback, I presume) which makes it difficult to get much volume out of when it's not plugged in. I'm counting it as an "ordinary mandolin" because it's basically a modified modern acoustic mandolin, and that's what it sounds like plugged in or unplugged.)

While I'm thinking of instrument repairs and instruments-needing-repair, I should go downstairs and take the oud out of the winter coat that serves as its case, and check whether the repairs that I made just before Conterpoint are still holding up.

And while I'm thinking about broken-things, I'll take a moment to natter about the frustration of having broken my box-cutter today[*]. It's on my fretting hand, so it won't affect my playing (I also refer to it as my "spare nail"), but I always forget, until I've had to cut it off, just how often I use it without thinking. I just tried to check something on my PDA, which was lying next to my left hand, and rather than bothering to take out the stylus for a mere couple of taps, I automatically tried to use my thumbnail. The thumb-tip doesn't work as well as the thumb-nail, not precise enough. Feh. But the guitar-picks are all intact, and that matters a whole lot more.

I'm still thinking about what I didn't like about the doctor I saw last week and what I should try to make clear to the doctor who will become my regular physician when I see her for the first time just after Pennsic.

This weekend, Baitcon; then a short week to get everything lined up to be ready for Pennsic.

While I was finishing this up, I heard an Arabber go by, up Fulton Ave. I'm not used to seeing them right around here (usually farther north or east) but this makes three times in the last month and a half that I've noticed. This time he was singing. If one has made my intersection part of his route home, I'll have to start keeping an eye out, especially while I'm without a car. (I didn't get a good look at what he had. I saw bananas and maybe canteloupes, no watermelons this time, and I'm not sure what else. I would've gone and bought a canteloupe, but I would've had to pause to throw on clothes -- hey, it was a hot day and I gotta maximize the effect of the electric fans blowing across my skin, don't I? -- and he was on his way someplace (presumably the stable), not stopping to set up and sell. But he must have a selling-spot not too terribly far from here in the afternoons.)

[*] Well, not just a box-cutter, obviously. I recall the time I startled my boss by using it to cut drywall[**] -- it was her own suggestion, but she'd meant it as a joke; I looked at my hands, realized my thumbnail was long enough to be useful, and jabbed it into the drywall and started sawing. Basically, it's the "everything I don't want to risk damaging one of my guitar-picks on" nail. The other nails on my left hand have to be short for fretting.

[**] A slightly unpleasant sensation, yes, but not anything like nails-on-a-chalkboard intense, and I only needed to cut a few inches. And yes, my nails are naturally that strong -- I've got acrylic on the three that take the most wear from strumming and thin spots near the tips of the other two that show why the acrylic is needed; the left thumbnail is the one that shows my natural nail thickness.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 12:31pm on 2005-08-04 under , ,

While waiting for computers to finish doin' stuff ...

One side effect of Baitcon was that I returned home bearing one more instrument than I'd left with. It's a "bamboo sax", or as some folks call it, a "saxaflute": straight bore (which makes it Not A Sax despite what the maker calls it, but that's okay 'cause I'm all about the sound), simple system (there is a thumb hole, but it's basically pennywhistle/six-hole flute fingering), single reed in a saxophone mouthpiece, apparently G-myxolidian tuning (I need to double-check whether that F is sharp or not). I've seen other bamboo-pipe-with-sax/clarinet-mouthpiece arrangements, at least one brand of which has a more complex fingering and more sharps and flats available, but this one is simple-system.

I think it's more accurate to say that I have become the instrument's "keeper" rather than it's owner. I am the third person to have it, and only the first paid any money for it; my plan is to play it as long as it is useful to me and I'm still exploring what it can do, and pass it on to someone else who will find it fascinating and/or useful once I've acquired a more versatile single-reed instrument and started to find this one limiting. At a guess I'd say a couple years, but it could take longer if I finally get used to pennywhistle fingering and/or discover fingerings for the accidentals.

Here's the thing: at Pennsic, do you think I'll get away with claiming (well, "politely asking others to pretend along with me") that it's a chalmeau (the ancestor of the clarinet)?

The other big question is whether I'll master dynamics on the reed enough to play softly before someone else in my camp complains about the noises I make trying to play it.


Oh, and another cool thing about Baitcon[*] was getting to borrow a soprano sax for a while, and discovering that I need not be as afraid of soprano single-reeds as I am of soprano double-reeds. I have trouble controlling the pitch on a soprano krumhorn or cornamuse, despite being comfortable on alto, tenor, and bass. But the soprano sax seemed fairly easy to control, to the extent that I could reliably get sounds out of it at all, and no harder to make sound than an alto sax. I was surprised. Of course, I'd forgotten most of the fingerings, but that's, I suppose, is what happens when one picks up an instrument one doesn't actually play and hasn't touched at all in a very long time. I'm still hoping for an insanely-great-yard-sale-deal-to-brag-about-for-years tenor sax miracle (hey, I don't buy lottery tickets so I have to be delusional about something else), but I'll stop giving soprano horns funny looks.

[*] There were a great many other, as yet unreported by me, cool things about Baitcon.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 01:38am on 2005-08-01 under

A bit of advice: if you're going to eat cinnamon-red-hots ice cream and coconut lime habanero ice cream together, eat the cinnamon-red-hots ice cream first, then the coconut lime habanero ice cream. The other way 'round will make the c-r-h ice cream taste far too sweet and the cinnamon will taste funny. Two delightful flavours as long as you eat them in the right order.

Made it out there. Made it home again. Much goodness, leading to much tiredness. Have not begun to try to catch up on email and LJ-friends yet. Never did get bowing pointers, but something mysteriously good happened to my bowing while I was up there anyhow. Will find out later whether any of it stuck. Still have a lot to learn in either case.

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