Monday, July 28, 2014

Ooh, Shiny!

Some years ago–how many I don't recall, but more than twenty-five and less than thirty-five, my lovely wife bought for me a green fire agate ring at Saturday market. Picked out a stone, and the jeweler lost-waxed it, and came out with a ring I've worn since.

But, in my dotage, I didn't recall that he actually made two rings for me, a second fire agate that was multicolored flashes in a brown matrix. When I got my boulder opal wedding ring, I replaced the fire agate multi and put it away.

Completely forgot about it. Somehow, it wound up in the spare jewelry boxes which migrate dto the gun safe, and today, whilst digging around for something, I came across it. I think maybe I'll wear it for a while ...

It's subtle, you don't see the flashes save under bright light, but I have a thing for fire in stones ...

Broken Eyed Perry

I have been wearing corrective lenses since I was fifteen. Mostly glasses, but I started out wearing those saucer-sized hard contact lenses, then gas perms, then soft ones, fifty years ago. 

Contact lenses in this part of the world in the spring turn yellow from pollen, and working at a computer, they also tend to wear blisters on your eyeballs, so I went back to specs. More trouble than they were worth, contacts.

And no, the Lasix surgery isn't an option, because once presbyopia sets in, you still have to wear glasses for close work anyhow, and what's the point? And there are some side-effects of laying a cutter onto your eye ...

Couple weeks ago, I dropped my current pair of cheaters onto the floor. Onto the carpet, mind you, but even so, the little support bar across the top must have taken the impact and transmitted it to the lenses, and the result you can see if you blow up the image: a pair of tiny cracks radiating from the juncture of frame and support.

For years, I wore eyewear with glass lenses, for fear I would scratch the plastic. First pair of those I tried, I scratched on the way home from collecting them. Seriously.

Eventually, the anti-scratch coatings got better, and I went to the lighter, thinner super-dense plastic, and my nose has been thankful. They weigh about a third as much as glass.

So, cracks, that, like a windshield, were apt to craze and get worse. It was time for my eye exam anyway, and I made an appointment. 

In the good-news-bad-news department, Costco was willing to replace the cracked lenses for free. Thing was, my prescription, which had been stable for five years and essentially the same, had this time, decided to change, so I now needed a stronger one. Which meant that replacing the old glasses was useless. Unless I wanted another back-up pair, of which I already have three.


And while the old glasses were covered, a new prescription would not be. Had to start over.

Ah, well. It's a first-world problem, isn't it? I found a new frame I like, got all the bells and whistles in the Transistion™blended/non-reflective/hard-coated/stops UV lenses, and ordered a second pair of spiffy sunglasses for driving. (The Transition™ lenses, which now go Stevie Wonder-dark a few seconds after you walk outside into the sunshine, are pretty good sunglasses; however, the window glass in your car stops UV light, and that's what makes the transition work, so they don't work in the car unless you put the top down, or stick your head out the window. Plus they don't polarize and take out the glare.)

Went with gold wire-rims this time. In keeping with my policy of shaking such things up every ten or twelve years ...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Excellence ...

Two of the world's best ukulele players together onstage, backed by a majorly-good cellist ...

Neighbors and Dogs

I did a post a year and a half or so ago about a neighbor who has more dog than he can handle. The problem has gotten worse; the old couple who owns the dog,  Zeus, can't collect him when he escapes, and he has become more menacing to passersby when he gets loose.

He fear-barks at people when they try to catch him and get him home, gets snappish, and sooner or later, he is going to bite somebody.

I don't know how often it happens, but it does so often enough that the closer neighbors are all aware of it. My wife and I notice mostly when we are walking our own critters and Zeus comes to harass them. 

Happened yesterday, and it is going to happen again. One of the closer neighbors and I managed to spook Zeus back into the house. 

The elderly woman is, according to the neighbors to whom I've talked, fairly far along in Alzheimer's. She will open the front door and Zeus will streak past her, and if somebody notices, they will try to shoo him home.

The old fellow is gimpy, and on top of trying to care for his ailing spouse, the dog is just too much. The man stands there calling him, yelling "Bad dog!" and berating his wife for opening the door, none of which help. 

What can we do about it? Apparently, nothing. The next door neighbors have called senior services and animal control, and legally, there's not much either can do. Several of us have offered to walk the dog to tire him out, but the old boy isn't having any of that. There aren't any grounds to have the dog removed because he hasn't bitten anybody. 


Eventually, Zeus will chomp on somebody's hand when they try to corral him, or get hit by a car when he darts into the street without looking. Animal control can step in if he bites, but it seems as if there should be something else we can do. I feel for the old couple. And the dog, who isn't living a very happy life, either ...

Monday, July 21, 2014

La Musica!

At the acoustic jam Saturday last, which, because the usual show runner had a gig elsewhere, I wound up leading, one of the players brought a nifty little recorder and captured some of our songs. Here's a SoundCloud link to "Woke Up Dead Blues," written by Yours Truly, and led by same.

Given that we were in a big pub and only the lead singer's voice and instrument were amplified–well, save for the bass player and one kid who brought an electric guitar and the keyboard players–the little mikes picked up the solos pretty well.

How the session works is, a leader gets up, writes the chords on a white board, then starts it off. S/he sings a verse or two, then anybody who wants to take a lead does a solo, then it goes back to the singer. 

We had a pretty good group of singers this time, though my version of "Little Egypt" was flat in a couple of spots when I lost my chord and had to scramble to find it ...

The songs are a little rough in places, it's a bunch of folks who only play together twice a month, if that, and different songs, but there are places where it doesn't sound too bad ...

Here's a partial list of what we did and a link to 'em, various singers, whose names I still don't know. (Michael did the recording, and led several of the songs, and posts on SoundCloud under SgtKashim:

Monday, July 14, 2014

July Set List

Just because ....

July Set List:

Here Comes the Sun - instrumental
Dock of the Bay
Stand By Me
In My Life
Hey, Jude
Brown-eyed Girl
Little Egypt
Let It Be

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ashokan Sort of Farewell

I've been working on learning "Ashokan Farewell," by Jay Unger, as a solo instrumental on the ukulele. 

Haven't gotten there yet, but I am making progress, albeit slowly so. So I figured to spur myself on, I'd post the only vid I could manage of it that wasn't a complete wreck.

Even so, the sound is crappy, there are squeaks and squeals, and all like that. Usual excuses here.

I used to could play this piece on the guitar, after a fashion, and I thought I'd try to bring it across. It was from El McMeen's transcription in his book on Dropped-D guitar, so to keep the fingering anywhere close, I had to change the key to G. Then figure out how to lose the two bass guitar strings and still have some bottom. I think I mostly have the arrangement down, now it's just a matter of actually learning how to play the sucker. And to get past red-light fever when the camera goes on, which is always cause for immediate flubbery and a fast ride to clam-city ...

Monday, June 16, 2014


I started this blog eight years ago, plus about three days. The intent, was, as much as anything, to have a convenient place to work on a journal, and to eventually start mining whatever got laid down and to use it for books and whatnot.

That's worked out; I have several non-fiction eBooks that have mostly come from these page, to various degrees of success. And a lot of other material I can access for research or odd bits hither and yon ...

I'm not making entries lately as often as I did a year or two back. Other things have arisen, but I'm still here.

Never figured it would set the world on fire, but sometime in the next few days, the hits will top a million.

Actually, it already passed that, since I didn't keep a counter on the thing for a while, then I had to switch to a different one, and the counters used different criteria, but hey, there you go ...

Tejano Conflict Cover

Got the cover art for the final book in the Cutter's Wars series. That's Gunny.

Book is due out, I think, in January, 2015.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Milestone/Millstone ...

Only one letter is different in the two words in the title, but it makes them significantly unlike.

The millstone was a large and heavy thing used for crushing grain into meal or flour.

A milestone is a marker at that distance from another point, often another such stone.

In the case of the former, it has sometimes come to mean a thing that drags one down, the proverbial weight hung around one's neck, say.

Milestones metaphorically show accomplishment. Passed another one along the road of life, which could be good or bad, depending.

Getting rid of one might help you reach another ...

Did that yesterday. Got up at the electric blues jam at The Lehrer, stood in front of the mike, and led a couple songs. Never played the uke standing in public before. Hadn't intended to, was just going to drop round and listen, but I took the uke along, just in case. Got coaxed into it, and while I skipped a verse in one song, there were enough instrumental breaks nobody missed it. Voice was okay, even managed to get that blues rasp when I wanted it.

Another long-carried millstone put down and a milestone reached. At this rate, Carnegie Hall won't take more than another fifty or sixty years ...