Day 184

On the way home

I took this on the way home from the AT&T phone store. It’s nothing special, but it caught my attention. I guess it’s a tribute to the loss of the rural agrarian society that we haven’t had for decades.

I was at the phone store because my smart phone stopped being smart last night, sometime between 5:30 when I called my mother and 9:30 when I tried to check the email. The darn thing wouldn’t turn on. I know the battery wasn’t run down, there had been at least a 25% charge when last I used it. So, after Marlon started calming down (more about that later), I drove to the store to find out the bad news. A pretty blonde girl opened the door for me and asked how she could help me. I explained the situation. She opened the back of the phone, popped out the battery, and left me saying that she would talk to the manager for advice. She walked into the back room with the phone. She returned in about five minutes and said the phone was all better, or words to that effect. I asked what the problem had been. She said, “Battery jam.” I thought that it sounded like the worst ever accompaniment to scones, but simply thanked her and left.

***

Marlon doesn’t like bad weather. When I woke up this morning the wind was blowing briskly. It was blowing enough that Marlon was barking at the wind. Cindy and I both thought it looked like it was going to storm, wo we gave Marlon one of the doggie tranquilizers that Trina had left for just such an occurance. She told us that it would knock him out. It did not. The trank slowed him down, but it didn’t knock him out. After Cindy left for work I noticed something disturbing. Marlon started sneezing. It reminded me of humans I have seen coughing because they were experiencing a panic attack. I petted Marlon and spoke to him soothingly, and he calmed down and stopped sneezing. When he went to the living room and settled into my chair I left and went to the phone store. When I came back he started sneezing again. I petted him some more to calm him, and let him out to scare the birds and critters in the back yard. When he came back in he finally let the trank knock him out. And we never got the storm.

***

I noticed yesterday that when I’m alone with Marlon I tend to talk to him like Mr. Rogers. I take on the same intonations and cadence as Fred Rogers did when he was in the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure Marlon will be my friend.

Day 183

I am being driven slowly crazy

This is part of the process of converting vinyl albums to MP3s. The picture shows one of my headaches. Stick with me and I’ll get back to the picture.

 The nice thing about a blog post is that I can wax eloquent (or not) about anything that interests me, and not worry if it bores the pants off of anybody. Of course I wouldn’t especially care to see any of you with your pants off, except maybe the crazy lady in Oklahoma who blogs about rutabagas and follows my blog. OK, that’s a joke. As far as I know, there are no crazy ladies in Oklahoma who blog about rutabagas, at least none that follow my blog.

 Back to the conversion process. I’ll skip over the part where I play the recording on the USB turntable and the music is magically turned into an MP3 file and stored on my hard drive, because I still haven’t quite figured out how that magic happens, but take it from me that it does. What happens next is what can drive me crazy. I open each of the music files in a software package named Audacity, which a free program that can be downloaded to your PC or Mac. It allows you to see a digital image (as in the picture) and hear the sound. I use it mainly to remove record hiss, pops, clicks, and to work on other problems such as when the needle gets stuck and repeats passages over and over. Usually it is a simple process and the MP3 pleases me.

The MP3 doesn’t always please me. In tis photo, if you enlarge it, you see a portion of a sound file of a song taken from a Doc & Merle Watson album. I have run components of the software that cleans out the hiss and major pops and clicks. Then I played the sound file to listen for any problems the software might have missed. I heard some clicks that the software didn’t eliminate. My task is to find the clicks and delete them individually. In this picture I have heard a click and have narrowed it down to the shaded area of the visual display. The shaded area is about a second’s worth of sound. The click is hidden to me among the actual music visuals. Usually I can enlarge the shaded section even more and find the click visually, but not always. If the music is instrumental and has mandolins, banjos, guitars and/0r fiddles (yes, bluegrass) the click is very hard to find. In the case of this song, I still haven’t found it, and this is just one click out of about a dozen on this one track.

Some days it is not worth the effort of trying to find and eliminate the click. Tis is one of those days. Are you sufficiently bored. Are you still wearing your pants? Don’t send pictures, PLEASE!

Day 182

Makes you want to set out

I’m not sure why I chose this photo for today. I took two other post-worthy pictures this morning, but when it came time to choose one…well I guess it came closest to what I was feeling. If I could really explain that, I would. I could make something up, such as the left side of the picture symbolizes nature while the left side symbolizes civilization, and the track in the middle symbolizes the path to sanity we must travel between the extremes. Yeah! That’s why I chose this picture!

***

I have to tell you that when I bought my first Thelonius Monk album, many years ago, it was pretty much because of his name and the picture of him on the cover. I had heard of him, and had heard covers of some of his music, but I hadn’t gone out of my way to buy anything. Then one day I found a few extra dollars in my wallet and decided it was time to try someone other than Dave Brubeck or Jimmy Smith, so I bought a “best of” Monk album. I became a fan as soon as I listened to it.

Each time I listen to Monk I hear something new. Today I was listening to Bemsha Swing and really paid attention to Monk and Charlie Rouse, the tenor sax player, as they played together. This version was recorded in Japan in 1963. I’m sure they had played the tune a ton of times before, and I know I have listened to many versions of the song, but today I heard two musicians be masters of their instruments as they mastered the song. It was great!

As I thought about Bemsha Swing it occurred to me that I had heard many covers of the song, but none played as well as the version I listened to this morning. I started thinking that I had a copy of The Turtle Island String Quartet playing it. When I dug out the cd to compare the two versions, I found to my surprise that they had not recorded Bemsha Swing. Why did I think they had? I noted that there was a version of Duke Ellington’s Caravan on the cd. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of, but that seemed wrong somehow. So, I looked in he data base I keep on my recorded music and found a version of the song recorded by Darol Anger, Richard Greene and Buell Neidlinger. Hmmm…Darol Anger…one of the founding members of The Turtle Island String Quartet. There was the connection. My mind can do funny things.

Day 181

My first grayscale post

This is not the first picture that I have converted to black and white, or grayscale, but it is the first that I have posted. The first pictures I ever took were with out family’s Kodak box camera using black and white film. I love color photos, but some things look better to me in black and white. This photo is an example. I wouldn’t look twice at it in its natural color, but with manipulation, I find it appealing. I have been converting a lot of my photos to grayscale for my own pleasure. Between those photos and some I’ve taken in the past with black and white film, I have the start of a good photo album.

***

I’ve decided that Marlon, Trina’s dog whom we are watching, is a lot like my mother when she visits us. Every time I turn on a movie to watch, Marlon decides he needs to go outside during the opening sequence. I let him out into the backyard and I go back in before I miss too much of the movie. After a few minutes Marlon is back at the door wanting to be let in. I let him in. He doesn’t talk during the movie, but he wants attention. He may have slept all morning, but if I start watching TV he wants attention. He’ll move his head as close to my hand as he can get it and expects me to pet him and talk to him. While I don’t have to let my mother out into the back yard, or pet her head, she does expect me to talk to her while I try to watch TV…even if she has been napping all morning. They are a lot alike.

***

There are still a few things going on in Indiana this month besides the Tippecanoe County Fair. For instance, there is the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana; it runs through tomorrow. There is also the Spirit of Monticello Festival in Monticello and the Vermont Settlement Festival in Orland (someday I’ll tell you about Dinah, a lady I dated who was from Orland). Tuesday the 31st is the start of the Sweet Corn Festival in Oakland City. I hope it hasn’t been cancelled due to the drought.

Stuff happens in Indiana!

Day 180

The best picture I took today

I almost drove past this horse this morning. I’m glad I saw it in time to stop and stopped to get this picture. I was looking for an old grain silo, but I was on the wrong road, so this photo was a lucky find. Many of he pictures that I’ve posted here were not the ones I had in mind when I went out.

***

I am going to try to be serious for a bit. I’ve been thinking about the Steve Jobs quote: “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.” Cindy’s mom keeps telling us that she is ready to go to heaven, and that she would rather die than go back into the hospital or into a nursing home. Then, usually within 48 hours she will push the button on her Lifeline Alert and have them take her to the ER. Often when she goes into the ER she is admitted to the hospital. After some time in the hospital she complains that she wants to go home, where she says she would rather die than go back in the hospital. Her actions don’t match her words, but she is not uncommon.

When my mother fell and broke her hip she went to the hospital, of course. She is not the best patient. While she was being prepped for surgery we were waiting for the surgeon to arrive. Mother is not a patient woman, and is willing to think the worst of people. She decided that the surgeon was late getting there because he was out drinking. In fact, when he did arrive she asked him if that was where he had been. But then she decided that he was Irish, and that he was handsome, and she was charmed by him. I don’t know if he is Irish, and I didn’t find him physically appealing, but he struck me as being competent and sober. Mother has always told us that she didn’t want to be resuscitated if she was dying. When the doctor asked is she wanted to resuscitation in the OR,  she said yes. She even signed a form authorizing it.

People change their mind.

Day 179

Not a shag rug on the landing

Cindy has left for the day, so Marlon’s excitement is over until she comes home this evening. He won’t lay there all day, he’ll move from spot to spot and lay for a while, eventually ending in my favorite chair in the music room…unless I turn on the music and then he’ll move to my chair in the family room. In the morning, when Cindy is getting ready for work in the master bath, he positions himself on my side of the bed (whether I’m in it or not) to keep an eye on her.

***

I had a dream last night/this morning that I remember. That doesn’t happen very often, so I told Cindy about it over my first cup of coffee this morning. Since it was memorable, I’ll put it in today’s post before it fades away. I know you are eager to read about it.

I was looking for a job (so you know it was a dream) and took a day job that I had heard about. I don’t remember what I was doing, but the employer was impressed enough that he offered me another day’s work. In England (I’m guessing England because of all of the Olympics hoopla). So, the employer flew me and a bunch of other people to England on his private jet to do some day labor. I was assigned to work on the set of a television studio where they were recording some cheesy, black & white 50’s type of show (probably because the last thing I watched last night was an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene). Comes the end of the day and we all find out that we aren’t being paid, and we have to find our own way back to the U.S. We all start running through the streets of this dingy English city, trying to get to the airport before the last plane for the states leaves. Whilst running I realize that I have no money, and that my passport is back in Indiana. How, oh how, will I get home? We arrive at the airport and are running through cramped hallways, trying to get to the plane when coming the other way I see my friend Susan Clark (I haven’t seen her in real life for more years than I have fingers). She is still working for DWD and is there on business (again we know it is a dream because DWD would never send a no-political appointee on a trip out of the country). She is there with her new partner, an African-American gentleman whose name I forget as soon as she introduces us. She calms me down and tells me that she will see that I get back to the states. Thanks, Susan. That’s when I woke up. So, I know where elements of the dream came from, but I don’t know what it means. I do know that is doesn’t mean that I want a job.

Day 178

I love this house, at least the exterior

This is a beautiful house, and like many in Lafayette it is built on a hill. In this respect Lafayette is similar to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and probably m,any other cities. There is something about these old houses that appeals to me. Part of it is the craftsmanship that went into the building of the house. Another part is the fact that they have been kept in good condition, or have been restored so that they are still beautiful.

***

Graham Nash was on Morning Joe today. He was plugging the new concert DVD of Crosby, Stills and Nash. I probably won’t buy it, but it started making me think about the first time I heard the group. That was on the Woodstock album. I fell in love with their music when I first heard it.I had listened to The Hollies, Buffalo Springfield, and The Byrds and had liked them, but this was music that was far and above those groups. Each of the group members is a talented artist, but the sum is greater than the parts. To my mind, CS&N was a true super-group. The addition of Neil Young just added to that greatness. I’ve heard younger people make fun of CS&N, but they are still selling tickets. So, I watched Graham Nash this morning, and then went online and downloaded Stephen Stills’ Manasas. 

***

Marlon is so brave. We were in the back yard yesterday when a fellow walked past the back fence, walking his Great Dane. Marlon walked away from the fence, and when he had moved a good distance from it, he started barking at the other dog. As the dog moved away from the fence, ignoring Marlon’s barking, Marlon walked back toward the fence and continued to bark. So brave! 

***

You’ve probably noticed this before, but in case you haven’t, let me mention shaving in the movies and on television. You have seen the scene where a male character is lathered up and shaving. He is interrupted by something important half way through the shave. He takes a towel and wipes off the remainder of the lather. There are no whiskers under the lather. I wish I could do that.