Friday, May 12, 2017

Headphones Arrive

  • I Write A Song In My Sleep
  • 18 Dollar Wednesday
  • 19 Dollar Thursday
  • Rainy Friday Afternoon (now) 
  • Headphones, Strings Arrive

Ownerless Kitties

"Nobody treats you like your owner can when you're master is dead, lord..."


That's it, I'll write a song called "Masterless Kitties," based upon "Motherless Children," by Eric Clapton, I'll shoot a video...


"...Strangers will do the best they can, so many things strangers can't understand..." (pan to shot of cut up Vienna Sausages in a Styrofoam sitting on the sidewalk by the apartment building).


Then I can make a fake body with the guts disemboweled and stick my head "through the hole" so it looks like it's my body, and put cat food in there so when Harold eats it, it looks like he is eating my guts, while the song plays...


Then I woke up. With "Motherless Children," playing in my head. It was about 9 AM.


I decided to go rattle my keys in the parking lot to see if Harold wanted to come in and eat. He had missed a 1:30 AM feeding after I hadn't seen him when I got back from busking and making 19 bucks in two hours. It had been a Wednesday night.


Calling Harold When He's Preoccupied...


Harold was probably still pretty full from Tuesday, which saw me stay in from busking and catch up on a few things. With him in the house, and myself opening a fresh can of food every time he stood by his dish and meowed, he had managed to put away about 4 cans throughout the day. This is about twice what he had been up to consuming. And he is skinny. I do worry about "worms" and have started to look into at least trying to find some free clinic run by the SPCA, or something, to try to bring his medical care up to at least the level of the average homeless person. I think they can get wormed for free if they flash their Obama phone, or something...


Rattling my keys summons Harold within a minute, or not at all. So I figure that he can hear the keyring from up to about a minutes run away. Judging by the speed at which he comes through the gate, this is probably about 400 feet.


I could record my keys rattling and, using the Audacity sound editor, analyze the frequency spectrum, and then Google the "specs" on cat ears to see in which frequency range they are most sensitive, to see if the sound is even in the optimal range. I want to make a special cat whistle of some sort, which he might be able to hear from up to a half mile away, once I find out the optimal frequency.


Just because cats can hear higher notes than humans, doesn't mean that they can hear those tones from great distances, so I don't assume that I have to make an ultra high pitched whistle. That is a consideration only in regards to my not wanting to disturb Sacred Heart residents with my cat whistle at 2 AM. What they can't hear can't bother them (the imaginary people whom they hold conversations with notwithstanding) right?


But, if I find the frequency that "carries" the farthest (I guess, based upon the air pressure here, at 11 feet below sea level) then I would go ahead and make a whistle at that note, to obtain maximum calling distance. As far as the Sacred Heart residents, I will just take a "This if for all the times you've fallen asleep with something on the stove and set the building's fire alarm off."


One of the readers of this blog, Alex in California, makes trumpets out of PVC tubing. I have a feeling that I'll be able to make a cat whistle out of that ubiquitous tubing found strewn on the ground at nearly every construction site on earth...


On the frequency/distance matter, my gut feeling tells me that it is going to be a matter of how loudly I can sound a particular one (given the sonic qualities and limits of inexpensive plumbing materials). For example, cats may indeed be able to hear a 22 kilohertz tone, but, how loudly could that tone be produced through a PVC trumpet, compared to notes closer to "middle C," that one might be able to really blare through the thing?


One incidental matter -I found what I believe to be a trombone mouthpiece laying on the sidewalk in the Quarter about a year ago now. I pocketed the thing, just on the general principal that it was laying on the ground and free, and that its shape suggests a pot smoking pipe in a pinch, and that there is probably about a 7% chance that somewhere, at some time, I'll be walking past a group of horn players with their heads down because they were ready to jam, but the trombone player forgot to bring his mouthpiece.


On The Way


I've done it; I've gone and spent some money and the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method books 2 and 3 are in transit, and should arrive here in about a week. There are some strings coming, and a new set of studio headphones.


I was ready to buy some 30 dollar ones that were on sale for 20, but found some 40 dollar ones, on sale for 30. There is a greater savings with the 30 dollar ones being a third off, but there is diminishing returns in the fact that they are cheaper headphones. I mean, would I buy a crappy 10 dollar set if they were unbelievably priced at 50 cents?


So, I decided that saving 25% on a more expensive set was the way to go. Plus, I have learned in the past that headphones, along with car speakers and audio components in general are something that you thank yourself over and over for having spent more on, so long ago that the sting of the financial hit has worn off.


I can't even remember the brand, but they have 50mm "drivers," and I read a bunch of reviews of them and gleaned that they should be just fine for my studio. Reviews of almost anything that I buy are always rationalizations that whatever it is is a good deal "for the money." They often allude to what they would buy "of course, if I had $1,000 to sink into headphones, I'd get..." type of thing. What bugs me is the "for the price, you can't go wrong..." Really?


If you hand me 4 cents, and I put a steaming gob of cat shit in your hand; you went wrong. For the money.


The Mel Bay books are necessary to keep a fire lit under myself and stir myself out of the complacency that being in a comfort zone from being able to knock out The Merry Men like a pro, puts me.


At some point in book 4, I will come up against the wall of unchartered territory, when I reach the furthest point that I had ever gotten in the books.


But, again, back then, I was in a rush to get to book 8, thinking that, once there, I would be playing at "that" level just by dint of putting my fingers where the polka dots on the staff indicate. I would "complete" a song and then move on, telling myself that "The Grey Goose," can only sound simple and boring, and that I had "learned" it well enough...


I'm going to make another Mel Bay based "instructional" video using one of the better songs out of book 1 in the next week, before the next 2 books arrive.


I'm kind of happy with the way I've managed my money. I've grabbed little things like socks and carpet cleaner, and kept Harold fed, and have still been able to eke out a modest savings onto my green card.


I waited until I had about 120 bucks on the thing before spending 30 on headphones, 8 on the Mel Bay books and 5 on strings.


This is good, because I was able to go, the very next morning after having warped the rim and broken the bearings on my back bike tire, to a little bike shop that I never knew was about a half mile away until I Googled it, and have "Neil," put a used back wheel on the thing for 25 bucks, total. That brought my green card balance down to like 15 bucks, but the stuff I ordered is on the way, and I didn't miss a day due to the bike being broken, and so that is good. I didn't have to ride to the Lilly Pad on a wobbly back wheel to busk up the money for a new one. I'm glad I didn't dip into what turned out to be the emergency fund to get a new harmonica, which I almost did.


It's Thursday, about 2 PM, and there are a couple things I could do.


I'm trying to record a lot of guitar parts that I might sing over, once I find some empty building somewhere that the owner would let me use as a studio.


Even if I play a song and sing it half-assed because I don't want to scream at 3 AM in the apartments, I am going back and playing another guitar along with the first -one that will follow the song perfectly and that I can sing over later...


A group came by last night, when I was making 18 bucks in 2 hours, and wanted to buy a CD of my stuff, if I had one...


They wound up tipping 10 bucks, hanging out for almost an hour in the process. They were from Scotland.



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Friday, May 12th, 2:48 PM

I wound up packing my stuff up a little before 9 PM last (Thursday) night and going out to busk.

I made 19 bucks in a couple hours but, as usual, it could have been more.

There was a very drunken group that hung out, giving me first, 8 bucks and then telling me at one point that they were going to give me another 10 and then kind of forgetting to do so, 20 minutes later when they finally left.

I just couldn't bring myself to mention "Oh, were you going to give me that ten?" since I was trying to remain "above" the material aspect of playing.

I ran into a trumpet player who sounded pretty good about 4 blocks down on my way home.
He asked me if I wanted to jam, and we made 20 bucks in about 5 minutes, playing "What A Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong.
Then a skeezer showed up.

He was a "rainbow child" skeezer, wearing hippie type of clothing that was kind of unisex, halfway between a sun dress and something that a guy might wear, a silken "skirt" type thing above his sandal clad, dirty feet. He was bearded, drunk and had pretty obviously done a quick stop and about-face because he smelled the pot that Wyatt from Austin, Texas had lit up.

It was Wyatt's first night in the Quarter, and he has not become jaded enough (yet) to have seen the obvious intention of the skeezer.

The skeezer stopped and asked us first, if we were "rainbow."

Neither of us were.

I'm pretty sure that he asked us that thinking that, if we answered in the affirmative, he could have continued with: "Well, then pass the joint!" It is one of the annoying beliefs that the rainbow children have that everything is everybody's and we all share the rainbow love.
The problem is that the "drainbows," as a particular element are referred to, never seem to be the ones who have anything, but are always the ones ready to share what you have because, of course, they would do the same, if they ever had anything to share.

So, the skeezer stood there, after having gotten the information that we were not rainbow.
There was a disjointedness about the guy's skeeze, based upon the fact that Wyatt was spending his first night here and a ripe candidate for all the skeezes that can be applied to such a guy, yet, I was standing there, with my 6 years of experience in the Quarter, seeing through everything he was about.

The skeezer was spewing out everything he could think of in the category of trumpet playing, telling Wyatt that he had a beautiful trumpet and that he (the skeezer) loved trumpet, dropping a couple of household-name players that even people who hate the trumpet could call to mind.

He was effusively complementary, and, of course extolled the beauty of music as an art form and talked about how beautiful a gift it is to share with fellow humanity all the while, tracking the joint with his eyes like a Yorkshire Terrier watching a human at a dinner table eating meatballs which are precariously perched on his fork.

Then, the skeezer, after perhaps thinking that he had convinced us that he was actually a pretty cool dude underneath it all and not a skeezer who is all about sharing whatever he can of everybody else's stuff, finally skeezed: "Hey, can I have some of that?"

He took a few hits and then sat down where his already challenged brain was flooded with THC and he began to sing, loudly and out of tune, over whatever Wyatt and I were playing. He probably thought he was being clever.


The 20 dollar bills certainly stopped flowing at that point.

After about 10 minutes of the guy singing, I felt that it was my duty to demonstrate to the new guy in town how it is a good idea to run such people off, and was about to stop and ask the guy if he would leave. He didn't have to stop singing; just do it somewhere else.

At that point, Wyatt stopped playing.

"It must be my singing," said the skeezer.

"No, you're cool," said Wyatt. "I just need to rest my lip; I'm still getting it back in shape..."
I thought this might have been a nice way of his saying: "Yeah, it's your singing."

But, after telling the guy that his singing was cool, the skeezer seemed to reconsider things and plopped himself down, waiting I guess for Wyatts lip to become rested.
At that point, I started packing up.

"It looks like your trying to leave," said Wyatt.

"Yeah, I... (nodding my head quickly towards the skeezer) I need some rest myself..."
At this point the skeezer left. He had gotten what he wanted, after all. The music that he had found so fascinating and had wanted to stick around to hear, while the joint was being passed at least, had lost its hold on him. He walked off, on his dirty bare feet to go find some more things that he might share with others.

Wyatt and I split the 20 bucks, and I rode back to the apartment.


Recording

My latest process is to run through the list of songs that I am planning upon putting on the CD, in order, trying to make sure that I hit all 12 of them for at least a couple verses each (it would take over an hour to play them all the way through). 

I kind of melt from one into the next. It's quite enjoyable to listen back later, while it gives me practice in mixing the audio. 

Through trial and error, I've come up with certain default settings.

If I pull a bit of the 100 hz range out of the guitar and voice, compress it at about 1:1.5, add a middle-ground amount of delay and reverb then it sounds pretty nice (the performance quality notwithstanding). It's kind of like clicking on "enhance" to touch up a photo, which corrects anything that is drastically out of balance.

Doing this will keep the songs fresh in my mind and, on any given night, one of the 12 might come out well enough to make it onto the CD after having been added to and produced. I want to leave an open track for vocals to be done, maybe in a little chapel in Baton Rouge that I discovered while I was there 3 years ago, now.

I guess religion isn't really popular at Louisiana Southern University, and there is a little Baptist chapel with about a dozen pews on each side of a maybe 50 foot aisle, leading to an altar and, off to the side, a piano -a pretty nicely tuned little piano. When I was homeless in Baton Rouge, I would sometimes sleep in the little foyer in front of the front door of the place. One had to be up and out before a custodian came to vacuum the rug at about 6 AM, even though he was cool and would only nicely ask you to leave. I guess he was vacuuming the rug so early so that the chapel would be ready for a 7 AM "sunrise" service, attended by no more than 5 people from what I saw. Then, for the greater part of the day, the chapel would sit empty; but unlocked, in case someone wanted to go in and pray during the day, I guess.

That was 3 years ago and I think about that as being a great place to record vocals, and to have a piano available for just playing along with the music on an empty track. There is something about adding an acoustic piano to the mix, even if it's in the background, that changes the overall tone of a piece.

So many Rolling Stones or even Bob Seger songs wouldn't have the same charm without the piano, even though the listener might be focusing upon the vocals and guitars... 

The drawback would be that I have been written up for "trespassing," by the LSU police.
My "trespassing" involved just sitting on a bench nearby the same church when accosted by a couple of cops who were basically profiling me because of my backpack and guitar and clothing.

They asked me for ID, and then basically told me that because I had a "history," in other words I had been arrested before for anything, that they didn't want me on the campus. After they ran my name, my 12 year old warrant from North Carolina came up. It was "do not extradite," as it has been the whole time, but it was enough of en excuse for them to tell me that I was being "trespassed" from the campus.

Then, of course, they wanted to search my backpack. I don't know what my rights were in the situation. They had to ask me if it was alright if they searched my backpack, using all the b.s. police tactics that are pretty much universal, "...if you've got nothing to hide, you shouldn't mind," etc. 

The problem with giving them permission to search is that, once inside the bag, they could construe anything as potentially illegal and arrest you. 

A plastic bag of sweet basil leaves that you picked from an herb garden and use for a seasoning? "If it comes back from the lab (in 2 to 4 weeks) clean, then they'll let you out, and you'll have nothing to worry about (except the 2 to 4 weeks of your life that has been run off the clock)."

Rose And Ed

Rose called last night, wanting to borrow money. I told her that I had less than 20 bucks and was going out to play to try to get more.

Ed called this morning, wanting to borrow 20 bucks and would pay me back 40. "I might even have it tonight, or tomorrow at the latest," said Ed, repeating pretty much what he has said for the past 6 months or so, when wanting to borrow on about the middle of the month.

I'm pretty sure he needs the money for gas in order to go to some pharmacy on the other side of the river, where he gets some kind of medication that he can turn around and sell some of, to pay someone like me back. Or he can start eating the pills and then decide that they are more important than paying me back.

The past 6 months, after asking for a loan of about 50 bucks on about the 7th of each month, they have invariably shown up right around this time (the 12th) wanting to borrow some small amount, which is probably for gas to get over there, and cigarettes.

But the "I'll probably have it tonight; or tomorrow at the latest," has never come to fruition.
This morning, I had 22 bucks sitting on my coffee table. I told Ed that I needed to check the balance on my AMEX green card before I did anything.

He told me that I could do it at his place, on Rose's phone.

I told him that I only wanted to use my laptop because trying to access my account from a new device might raise a flag and cause me to have to verify that it is myself, etc.
He told me that I could bring my laptop up there and connect to their wireless and check my balance.

I got to the apartment and fired up the laptop.

"You'll need to put your password in," I said, preparing to turn my back while he did it.
"Oh, Rose has all that information, that's her thing..."
Ok, so he invited me up to his apartment to check my balance, but wasn't thinking that I would need a password? Or did he just want to get me there, physically present so he could ratchet up his skeeze?

He then told me that he had broken a tooth and that he was in so much pain at that very second, could I just lend him the 20 bucks, even though I hadn't checked my balance and it very well could be my own cigarettes and energy drink etc. that I would be giving them, could I just do it because he is in such pain?
I reiterated that I needed to check my balance.

He then proffered Rose's phone: "You can use this," he said.

I had already told him that I didn't want to try to access my account from a strange device but, in a manner true to skeezers, had conveniently forgotten that bit of information, or more likely, had assumed that it was just some bald faced lie that I had told and would have forgotten saying it myself.

I decided that they weren't clever enough to have installed a keystroke recording application on their phone and would be able to go back and retrieve my password to log in to my account, and I went ahead and tediously pecked in my full e-mail address and password, while Ed stood nearby, rocking his body from side to side.

My balance was $5.41.

"Dude, I only have $5.41 in my account, I can't lend any money, I'm almost broke..."
Then, I started to leave. "Are you going to your apartment?" asked Ed, who was following along with me, continuing to ask for the money and promising me that he would pay me back "tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.."

At one point, I mumbled something that he affected to have taken as my having caved in: "Oh, thank you, Thank you so much, you don't know how much I appreciate this. If you knew how much my tooth hurt..."

"Oh, I can't lend you the money. I don't know if it's going to rain tonight and I won't make a cent. I'm almost out of cigarettes..."

He had just wanted to give me an example of the kind of effusive gratitude I could expect should I give him the money. So, I wanted to spell out the fact that, if I gave him my last 20 bucks, I could find myself without my basic creature comforts (even though I had gone out and had worked and had earned enough to cover all my needs).

I guess this was a test to see if he would betray himself as caring more about his own needs.
Another common tack of skeezers at this point would be to promise me that It wasn't going to be a hardship for me, as if he had a crystal ball: "You'll make it back, the Quarter is packed....er...Rose was down there earlier, she said it was packed...you're gonna make good money tonight..."


But, instead, Ed asked: "Well, can you do ten, I'll borrow the rest from my sister?"
I decided to give Ed the ten bucks, telling him that if I didn't get it back "tonight or tomorrow at the latest," then I might be "f***ed."

In the confusion of the moment, being begged profusely every step of the way to my apartment, and having conceded the loan of ten bucks to him, it also passed that there was no mention of the "I'll pay you back double," which has been our usual policy. It was just, "Well, can you do ten?"

He was going to pay me back double for the 20, originally, but I can picture him saying "No, that was a straight loan, remember I asked you if you could do ten, but didn't add that I would pay you back double...? You see, if I had the 20 then it would have helped me enough so I could have been able to pay you back double, but with only 10, I didn't have enough to get the pain pills that I usually sell...." or something.

This has all become petty enough and enough of a nuisance, especially with them having hit me up for another 30 bucks last month, 7 dollars here, 5 dollars there, which were loans that never got tallied into their total, due to the ruse of "Don't tell Ed I borrowed this, he's be pissed..." that I am looking at a 10 dollar buy-out of my "contract" with them.

If he is true to form and doesn't pay me back the 10 tonight or tomorrow, then, when they inevitably show up the next time of the month that they always need money (24th through 30th) I am going to shake my head and say: "You know I really f***ed myself lending you that 10 that you said I'd get back that night or the next day....I couldn't even get an energy drink to wake me up the next morning..." or something.

When it works, it's a great way for me to invest some of my cash each month.


2 comments:

  1. Looks to me like Rose'n'Ed have escalated from merely borrowing money from you then "mini-borrowing" enough that your rate of return is 0%, to trying to get your passwords so they can wait until you've put a bunch of money in and then clean you out. I'd be very careful!

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  2. I should clarify that I'm not making PVC trumpets. I was going to, but anything I could make is being made more cheaply, and really, better, and is order-able online.

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