Apropos of a certain trial starting today, here is a little bit of past Americana that I found in a secret passageway within my house this weekend (I’ll write more about that later). I have no idea what this used to be.

Pneumonia in 5 easy steps

Here’s a quick way to get pneumonia:

  1. (night before) Forget to throw undershirts in the dryer, thus ensuring that you will have to dry one in the morning, which, since you will be pressed for time, will still be damp when you put it on.
  2. (day of) Get up at some godless early hour at which you are not normally accustomed to being awake. This will scramble your brain sufficiently that step three will practically happen on its own.
  3. Leave the house without a coat. It helps if the temperature outside is below freezing with a windchill in the single digits.
  4. Develop initial stages of hypothermia while waiting for the bus.
  5. Sit back and wait for the symptoms to appear!

I’m currently on step 5.

Cheap art for only $100 in ink

In addition to giving me something to bang on, my piano has also served to complete an art project I started a while back. Probably a year ago I found myself with a picture frame and decided to make something to go in it. I took a picture of my guitar neck and printed it in grayscale on satin gloss paper. The results were pretty good but my cheap color printer tinged the print with a slight purplish hue. Later I decided to make three more of these for the studio downstairs, following in a slightly-tinted music instrument theme. In these later attempts, I’ve made sure to adjust the color to be a little on the green side to compensate for my printer’s output. The piano has finally filled out the quartet of instruments to which I have access, so here’s what the full set looks like:

Winter Storm Emergency Ice Blizzard Warning 2005

This sort of snow I don’t mind too much. It only took about 30 minutes to shovel my driveway and sidewalk, and the roads are clear. With any luck, it’ll all be gone in a couple of days. But I still would rather live somewhere with only two seasons, three max. How are the winters in Rio?

Tickling the plastic

My Christmas gift to myself finally arrived yesterday after several days of neurotic polling of the FedEx package tracking site. In a box as tall as myself came the shiny new object: a Yamaha digital piano. The action on the keyboard is very nice; it is in my untrained opinion very close to that of a real piano. Like an acoustic piano, the weightedness of the keys varies — you have to push harder on the lower keys than the higher ones. The piano sounds are also very realistic. I don’t see myself using any of the other non-acoustic-piano voices (the electric piano sound particularly could be a lot more Rhodes-like) but anyway an external MIDI tone generator could always be used if I were into that kind of thing.

Now, I don’t (yet) know how to play one of these things, apart from being able to read music and knowing which keys match up with which notes. But I am planning on working up that little skill as I also use the MIDI features of the piano for composition. If any players out there can recommend aids for self-study, let me know.


As a former Cobb County resident and member of the much talked about school system, allow me to weigh in on the evolution debate. When you scientists with your book learnin’ thinking you’re so smart wind up in h-e-double-hockeysticks, we’ll see who is laughing! In the meantime, let us worship the football team.

An Admission

Okay people, it is time for me to come clean. Here it is: I don’t like the Beatles. Yes, I have some of their music in my collection. Yes, I understand that they were prolific writers whose music impacted everything that came afterwards. However, I can’t help but switch the channel every time one of their songs comes on the classic rock radio station. There it is.

You know Zep is better, so don’t front.

Artists House

Last weekend I picked up a CD at Tower by sometime Allman Brothers’ bassist and all-the-time brother of Kofi, Oteil Burbridge, and his band the Peacemakers. The CD is pretty good — a little rock, a little jazz. Don’t much care for the violin, but that’s just a personal preference. However, what’s most amazing about this CD is the record company that produced it: Artists House, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that actually gets it. Instead of suing 14-year-olds on Kazaa, Artists House encourages you to email the MP3s of the music to your friends. They even give them to you, encoded at 160kbps, on a data track of the CD. And that’s not all. Along with the CD comes a DVD containing a 24 bit/96 kHz mix, a 5.1 mix, artist commentary, a video of the recording session, sheet music (pdf), and a bass lesson by Oteil. The tray insert declares their motto: “Information wants to be free.” Well done, guys.

Update: I cross-posted this to boingboing.