The Most Californian Minor Tragedy Ever

This morning, getting ready to go to work, I had made some toast and a cup of coffee, then realized I was running a little late. I put the toast on a plate, then headed for the car, figuring I’d eat it on the 15 minute drive.

At the car, fiddling with my keys, I dropped a piece of toast. A piece of homemade whole wheat sourdough topped with slices of perfectly ripe avocado. A nice, dense, chewy slice of homemade whole wheat sourdough, nicely toasted, with a spot of butter, and just the best, creamy avocado on top.

Yes, I dropped my avocado toast. Tragic.

I suppose it could have been a slightly greater minor tragedy if I’d had a bit of brie or, better, sharp coastal cheddar, under the avocado. Even so, it hardly gets any more Californian and minorly tragic than this.

Pictured: a recreation of the victim, except, this time, I did add a little bit of sharp coastal cheddar. It was good.

Happy 4th/Goofing/Update

A. I’m not much of a comics guy, but this idea sped unbidden into my head: Graviton – a superhero no one has ever seen, but whose existence is required by theory. His nemesis would be Dark Matter. They battle over who gets to hold the universe together, and taunt each other with jabs about how the other one only exists because some math shows he must exist, even if nobody has ever seen any direct evidence either does exist.

I suppose it would be kinda hard to draw. Probably should leave this sort of thing to the pros.

B. Today is my first official day on the new job as Headmaster, but since the school’s lease doesn’t start until 7/15 and we have to move out of our AirBnB today and tomorrow, I’ll be working from home in between moving stuff to…

C. …the house we rented in Sacramento. For the next year, we will be living an 8 minute walk from a much-beloved parish, and a 14 min drive from my work, because…

D. …our house in the Bay Area has not yet sold, AND the housing market here in the Sierra Foothills is both insane and showing signs of a steep correction. The kinds of properties we are looking at have typically increased in price by 50% or more over the last 2 years, from prices we could afford to prices that are frankly stupid. IF we can sell our house soon at something near asking price, AND the market her calms the heck down over the next year, we should be OK.

E. Yes, we own a cat. So sue me. I like dogs just fine, but I like cats more, and they’re less trouble in general. BUT – when you’ve been house hopping for going on 2.5 months, a cat is not trouble free. We have been very blessed with people who have been willing to cat sit him for us. He seems to be doing well:

We may have to change his name to Love Seat, as that’s about his approximate size. Sofa would be a little unfair. Staying with friends in Concord. Will liberate him this weekend.

F. We will miss Auburn. Very beautiful country. Here are a couple shots from a tiny (40 acre) privately-funded nature reserve with walking trails:

Now, this isn’t Yosemite or the Grand Tetons or anything, but for a suburban brat, being able to take walks in the woods instead of along some paved street or path is very nice. God willing, in a year or so, we will back as permanent residents in Auburn.

OK, back to work. The world continues to burn; pray that God’s loving correction is as gentle as possible.

More Archeology, Writing Division

(Update: I tried WordPress’s ‘verse’ format option, then mucked with the excerpts below until it looked right, only to discover it looks right only some fraction of the time, and runs off the page and is otherwise unreadable the rest of the time. Sigh.)

The neurons are finally coming back on line, as much as they ever were, after the physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting clean-out of the old house. Almost ready to start worrying about the next phase: finding a new place, and all that that entails.

In the meantime: found some more stuff I’d packed away and all but forgotten. Part of which is:

Files.

These files contain writings going back to about 1990. Among other things:

  • Pages of limericks. There was a time in my wasted youth when I practically though in limerick format – ta Da te ta Da te ta da and so on, such that spitting out a limerick was almost like breathing. They are mostly terrible. (Aside: people who don’t or can’t seem to follow limerick rules just – I don’t know what to say. Write something else if this is too hard. Sheesh.)
  • About 50 pages and an outline for a novel, a retro-space adventure. Swashbuckling space pilot, evil scientist, deal gone bad, frantic escape, insect-like aliens. The only deviation from standard is that the love interest is a crippled dwarf, a woman who is a genius and wit, but not a looker, with whom our dashing space pilot had a fling. Now, only she can save his life! It’s – not terrible. The main problem: my outline is far too spare for me to figure where in the heck I was going with this, 30 years later. On the plus side, the parts I did write I kinda liked…
  • Some Trek fan fic from the mid-90s. At the time, I worked for a company that had a proprietary sort of chat software running on its internal systems. Basically, you had a group on a message, and each new message was appended onto the last, such that you ended up with a massive run-on discussion. Social Media, circa 1993. So the geeks talked about Trek, and I used to mock it (in a sympathetic, friendly way – I like Trek!) by throwing out ridiculous plot outlines that were not quite unbelievable. In honor of Rodenberry, I’d find ways to get people naked as much as possible. It was a hoot, so much so that when I left that job, I killed a tree to print selections out.
  • A pile of short stories. Some are OK. When I start my new author-centric, politically silent blog to promote the fiction I want to sell, I may throw some of them up there.
  • Tons of song lyrics. Mostly, attempts to be hilarious, but some more weepy/emo ones as well. Hey, I was young at the time! And stupid!
  • Some poems. Yikes!
  • Some more music.

But I should share a little. Why should I suffer alone? Here are snippets of lyrics and poetry from way back, starting with something really old:

Stone Age

(Circa Reagan. To the beat of marching soldiers. Call and response)

I don't like no Gorbachev! (I don't like no Gorbachev! - and so on)
Give me Ruskies like Molotov! 
This Cold War thaw thing do us in  
I'd rather wear those leopard skins

(In a Jack Nicholson type voice over some distant apocalyptic explosions and Fred Flintstone sound affects – yabadabado, etc.)

Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age. 
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.

And so on. Dated, yes, but maybe funny if you’re old enough to remember…

Shootout at the Whirly Wash

Face down in some laundry stenchy
Bullets flew past the change machine
The bastards just put a bullet in Frenchy
bleeding like crimson red cotton sateen!

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
God, somebody just winged Michael
Cover me, Shorty, I'm going in
Like a red sock in a hot cycle

She dropped her basket, looked over me
Her trigger finger was twitching
So what if I got some Shout on her  T?
I don't need to listen to her bitching

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Doc's covering the detergent dispenser
Lay down some fire! I'll head for a dryer!
Ol' Bessie's lead will convince her!

Fabric was flying and tempers ran hot
We had 'em pinned down by the phone
When the manager lady fired a round of buckshot
I guess we'll just fold 'em at home

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Long may its infamy reign!
A tip if you ever get into that spot:
Use COLD water on a blood stain. 

Finally:

That Bug Might Be Your Mom

I used to be a Western boy with microscope and gun
But since I've gotten older, it's just not as much fun
Instead I want to take a tour of the Nothing that's my mind
For peace and love and happiness - what cool stuff I might find!

Careful! Careful! Easy now! All my desires die
Which is good, because I don't want to come back as a fly
Which brings us to a tricky point, a poser through and through:
what if that cockroach I just crushed was someone that I knew? 

I can sit with my legs crossed until both legs fall asleep
I can become Nothingness, and nothing want or keep
I can bank good karma by the pound with effortless aplomb
But I just can't stop worrying: that bug might be your mom. 

Yep. That was me what wrote that stuff, some thirty+ years ago. And I’m not sorry! Careful, or I’ll publish some more.

Interlude

For the past month, almost, I’ve been ill. Timing is very bad. First, I want to dump this house before the bubble bursts, then get something with land so I can grow food. I like growing things, and I like independence, and I like not starving. So: now the rush. Find a rental house in the area we want to live, sell this house, and then see what happens over the next year.

Stress levels are high, yet, except for the last couple days, my energy level has been low. Vicious cycle.

Yet, I’m not too worried. Here we go with the mysticism: When it comes right down to it, I’m not a believer, really, or a man of faith. I don’t ‘believe’ in God any more than I ‘believe’ in my wife and children, because I’ve had direct experience of Him. Not claiming any virtue here, far from it. Three or four things have happened to me in my life that might be called miracles or visions or, perhaps best, mystical experiences. I could sooner believe my wife is an illusion and that I live in the Matrix than doubt the existence and love of God.

Note the irony: I’d like to think myself as about as clear-headed a skeptic as you’re likely to come across. I’m the guy who reflexively doubts the study, the findings, the ‘evidence’ because I know, partly through bitter personal experience, how easy it is to fool people. To fool myself. Therefore, the first thing that comes to mind whenever I here anything surprising, let alone miraculous, is the million ways it could be wrong.

And to very clear, I don’t expect (and I don’t think God expects) anyone besides me to be convinced by my experiences. That’s just not the way it works. Further, I most emphatically reject any notion that having had these experiences makes me good or holy or any better than anyone else – far from it. Others can sin much more innocently, so to speak, than I. I have no excuse anymore, and haven’t for a decade or more now. May God have mercy on my soul!

Long preface. Here’s the thing: once in a while, I really pray. Not mumbling the words or going through the motions, which, if I’m honest, makes up 99.9%+ of my so-called prayer life. Once in a great while, the reality of my nothingness hits me, the overwhelming obligations I’m under as husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, and friend. And my sinfulness – not checking items off on the ‘not-to-do-list’ (although there’s plenty of checkmarks on that list!) but feeling some small fraction of the weight of my lack of love and gratitude to God.

And I pray. Sometimes only for a few seconds before the world crowds in on me again and I lose focus. But in those moments, the clear, repeated message I get is: God has got this. He is working his will out right now. He will make everything come out gloriously well. Please note that there’s not the slightest hint that we – I, my loved ones, everyone – won’t have to suffer and be brave, maybe even die. Rather, that, apart from doing our best to surrender to God’s will, there’s nothing else to be done here, and forces much, much greater than us pitiful humans are fighting it out.

And we win, in the sense that the water boy on the victorious side in the battle can be said to have won. The important part is for us – for me – to remember we’re just water boys. What victory will look like is simply unimaginable for us.

I’ve come to suspect that what we’re seeing now IS God’s mercy. That, without His mercy – and the legions of angles who even now are surrounding and protecting us – things would be much, much worse.

In the mean time, some quotes and thoughts. Starting off with some Lewis, as this passage about a religious experience of Jane Studduck suggests to me that Lewis himself had had a similar experience. I don’t expect any two are exactly alike, but the experience itself is probably as well-captured as is possible:

Jane had gone into the garden to think…. Then, at one particular corner of the gooseberry patch, the change came.

What awaited her there was serious to the degree of sorrow and beyond. There was no form nor sound. The mould under the bushes, the moss on the path, and the little brick border were not visibly changed. But they were changed. A boundary had been crossed. She had come into a world, or into a Person, or into the presence of a Person. Something expectant, patient, inexorable, met her with no veil or protection between…

Words take too long. To be aware of all this and to know that it had already gone made one single experience. It was revealed only in its departure. The largest thing that had ever happened to her had, apparently, found room for itself in a moment of time too short to be called time at all. Her hand closed on nothing but a memory, and as it closed, without an instant’s pause, the voices of those who have not joy rose howling and chattering from every corner of her being.

But her defenses had been captured, and these counterattacks were unsuccessful.

Lewis, That Hideous Strength, CH XIV

(And now for something completely different…)

A trial lawyer never calls a witness to the stand unless he is sure what that witness will say. Similarly, no large funders fund a study unless they are sure what that study will say.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair

Paul says that we honor and dignify the less presentable parts of the body by clothing them. Those who insist on the dignity and deference they assume due them by virtue of their PhD or JD or M.Ed and so on are identifying thereby with certain parts of the body. Thus, it is understandable that we peons often call them by the vernacular terms for those body parts.

The king told him that for some years, ever since his queen’s death, he had been losing heart over the wickedness of his people. He had tried hard to make them good, but they got worse and worse. Evil teachers, unknown to him, had crept into the schools; there was a general decay of truth and right principle at least in the city; and as that set the example to the nation, it must spread.

George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie – published in 1883!

Give G.K. the second-to-last word:

Now, when society is in a rather futile fuss about the subjection of women, will no one say how much every man owes to the tyranny and privilege of women, to the fact that they alone rule education until education becomes futile: for a boy is only sent to be taught at school when it is too late to teach him anything. The real thing has been done already, and thank God it is nearly always done by women. 

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, CH 9

Is the world is small? Large? when Koreans yodel and play jazz piano like bosses on YouTube.

Band Name Friday: Items From the Garage

We are heading out of Dodge for the weekend, the last time I did this with kitchen items it was fun, so, please add your ideas to the list. Items found in the garage that would make good band names:

Pipe Wrench: industrial.

Socket: goth horror

Grounding Wire: electronica

Sledge Hammer: Peter Gabriel tribute band.

Pull Saw: maybe death metal?

Box of Nuts: Club music? Maybe a novelty band?

Lopping Shears: punk

Breaking Bar: not sure…

Toolbox: eclectic metal

Crimper: alt country?

Hammer drill: industrial metal

Duct Tape: 70s cover band

This could go on forever. But enough about me – what do you all got?

Kitchen Items That Make Good Band Names

I can only stay serious for so long…

Blender Stick – maybe a Afro/video game music fusion band?

Peeler – just another alt band. Is it too early to go retro-grunge?

Chopping Block – Death Metal?

Boning Knife – Definitely Death Metal

Shaker – Blue Grass/Gospel fusion?

Peppermill – Country boy band? Line dancing band? “Lots of ‘yee-haws’ involved,” say the Caboose.

The Pantry – ’80s cover band?

Wet Stone – “Medieval dubstep” says the Caboose

Burner – Speed metal.

Töaster – Goth Metal

Spice Räck – A Goth Girl band, with – attributes.

I could do this all day – and nobody wants that. You got any ideas?

More Family Humor

We were sitting around discussing the possibility of buying some land and building houses for us and the kids on it. I used the term ‘compound’ which didn’t go over well with younger daughter. “That is what it would be called,” I replied, “I won’t be writing a manifesto or anything “ She suggested ‘homestead’ which I objected to because it’s wrong – we’re not going to be homesteading.

Youngest son suggested we call our fantasy future digs a “fun size gated community.”

Touché.

More Family Sayings:

Continuing one of the items in the last post. Thanks for all the comments about your family sayings, keep ’em coming. Here’s a few more from Casa de Moore:

  1. “Nice haunches he’s gettin’. Beautiful.” From Babe, used whenever something is turning out nicely.
  2. “Anyone else want to negotiate?” From Fifth Element, used whenever the discussion has reached a conclusion, especially if that conclusion was reached via some physical action.
  3. “Right again guys! Group hug.” Galaxy Quest.
  4. “But who cares?” Ruby Rod, Fifth Element. Needs to be said in the insane Ruby Rod voice.
  5. “That’s a good rule. But this is bigger than rules!” Babe.
  6. “Phasers on stun!” Sometimes I will harken back to Bloom County and say “Phasers on deep fat fry!”
  7. “The trees are really quite lovely” Princess Bride. Trying to find the good in a bad situation.
  8. “I shall be very put out.” Princess Bride. Whenever expectations are not likely to be met.
  9. From the distant past: every time I’d change a diaper, I’d say, in my most serious voice, “I can change you. But you have to want to change.” The wide eyed look on the baby’s face always cracked me up.

This is pretty endless. I’m sure I could come up with dozens more if my daughters were still around – they were into musicals (and my eldest has a freakishly-good memory for dialogue) so we’d have a constant stream of bits from Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain and Hairspray.

One of my weirder habits I passed on to them: just breaking out in song at the drop of a hat, most commonly in an over-the-top showtune belting style. Showtunes and jazz standards, for the most part. I bet my kids were looking for a place to hide when their weirdo dad started in singing in the kitchen….

Let’s Distract Ourselves From the Current Insanity, Shall We?

What insanity are we attempting to escape, however breifly?

  1. Yesterday, had an old friend over, with her husband and year old son. They wore masks, and would not come inside. Nothing so unusual about that. But – this friend eats organic, avoids doctors, dreads antibiotics, and was going to move out of our house (she used to live with us) if we tented for termites. Yet, when the same people – sometimes, the very same human beings! – who assure her that eating organic isn’t protecting you from anything, that doctors are to be trusted and obeyed, that antibiotics are perfectly safe, and that the pesticides used in termite tenting are safe when used correctly – when those same people tell her the ‘vaccine’ is completely safe, that everybody else is first and foremost a disease vector, and that, in any event, she and her husband and her baby, three young and vigorously healthy people, are at serious risk from a virus that hasn’t killed anyone they know who was even moderately healthy – boom! suddenly, having reservations as to the reliability of the directions given by those government people is eeeeevil.
  2. Let me get this straight: I have to take an experimental ‘vaccine’ because it doesn’t work – right? It doesn’t protect against getting the infection, doesn’t protect against spreading the infection, has by definition unknown mid- and long- term effects and effectiveness – but I have to take it. If it worked, then people who are worried could take it and stop worrying – you know, like anyone does WITH EVERY OTHER VACCINE YOU TAKE. But no – this ‘vaccine’ must be taken by everyone because it doesn’t in fact work, on the theory that maybe then the Coof Gods will be placated and make this horrible plague, the victims of which develop nothing worse than cold symptoms 99%+ of the time, go away?
  3. Here in Northern California, our scientifilicious betters have determined that the particularly strain of COVID we have here is so intelligent that it knows whether people are inside or outside, such that we are only ‘safe’ inside masked up but could, conceivably, not mask up outside. I guess back when they were making everybody stay inside, outside was too dangerous, but now the genius virus knows only to be dangerous to unmasked people inside…?
  4. Speaking of genius viruses, it seems to be widely believed that the steps of masking up, staying a magical 6′ apart, and staying locked up for months on end have ended the flu as a disease. For now. So, of two airborne respiratory viruses with virions exactly the same size and which employ exactly the same vectors for spreading (and which have exactly the same symptoms 99%+ of the time) the steps taken to reduce COVID eliminated one, such that no flu deaths have been recorded since March of 2020, but had no evident effect on the other – that seems reasonable to people. Sure, it’s magic all the way down.
  5. So, Christmas and Easter are cancelled again. Because nothing in the situation is going change between now and then to make things ‘better’ – flu season will start before any drop in ‘cases’ can be confirmed to the satisfaction of the all-seeing CDC and its toadies, the nursing homes have been restocked with dying old people whose deaths will be attributed to COVID – death ‘involving’ the Kung Flu, as the CDC puts it – so since the ‘vaccine’ doesn’t work, we’ll see ‘cases’ increase starting now, and not taper off until maybe February, once the elderly sickly have been wrenched untimely from this mortal coil. Then, as Easter approaches, the CDC, upon examining the entrails of freshly gutted rights and liberties, will determine we’re not safe *enough* to gather for Easter. Bet on it.

So let’s think about something else! OK?

Family Sayings. Everybody has these, right? Ours are typically movie-related. I’ll doubtless think of a bunch more once I’ve hit publish. Off the top of my head:

  1. “Is there air? You don’t know!” Sniff. “Seems OK.” Often, we skip the setup, and just sniff and say “seems OK.” Galaxy Quest, of course. Used in any taste testing or when stepping into the new situation.
  2. “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” I remembered this as a Bill Cosby joke, but evidently not. It dates back earlier. One source said a late 50’s Mad Magazine, of which my elder brothers had many, so maybe I saw it there. The idea: The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger says something like “looks like we’re in deep trouble!” and Tonto replies: “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” So say someone utters something like “we need to tidy up” the others are likely to reply as did Tonto.
  3. “I hate being right.” Galaxy Quest, again. When things get ugly fast, as predicted.
  4. “Cute as a bug’s ear.” A favorite saying of my Oklahoma farm boy dad.
  5. “Any help would be – helpful.” Monte Python & the Holy Grail.
  6. “Good pig country.” Ditto. Used when trying to make the best of a bad situation.

And I’m sure there are a dozen more that have escaped my fading memory…

You?

Peak Harvest Day: Picked some okra, some beans, and a few large cling peaches – nothing special. BUT picked probably 40 ripe figs off our little fig tree out front, and dozens of our small freestone peaches. And there are plenty more where those came from.

Roughly one day’s pickings from one little fig tree:
This fig tree, It’s only about as tall as I am.
Plenty more where those came from. Totally understand the Biblical use of fig trees as symbols of peace and plenty.

Plenty more where those came from. No pomegranates this year, no idea why it took the year off. But there are a couple dozen nice big pears, and some minneolas for fall/winter. Something – I strongly suspect it’s a possum I’ve seen around – seems intent on eating our butternut squash plants. Leaves, fruits, growth tip of the vines – there today, gone tomorrow. I’ve got plants in 4 different locations – it’s found 3 of them. I managed to put a milk crate over one squash, which seems to have escaped so far. Last year, we had 20+ squashes, and still have 3 left. This year?

Tomatoes have been tasty but few. Okra has been enough, beans were a waste of space. We’ve got all the basil, oregano, and rosemary anyone could need. Look to have a good potato and sweet potato harvest. This is all on a 7,000 square foot suburban lot, where the backyard is all but unusable due to two ancient walnut trees. Just a front yard orchard with two raised beds, some planters and some boxes and pots. So – pretty good, I guess.

Pizza Party: Yesterday, celebrated a belated birthday party for younger daughter by having a backyard pizza party!

Preheating the oven. Wee bit of overkill.

Pizza was good. My little brother and his family are in town Friday, so that’s another pizza party; then the 28th is another, then…

Linux Laptop Hunt: Update

Thanks to everyone who commented on this morning’s post regarding my desire to go with Linux for my next laptop. I really appreciate the input, but couldn’t help thinking of this scene:

I know, it’s not *that* bad. Just a few drivers and possible hardware conflicts, nothing a smart, patient person can’t handle. The computer world seems to fall into roughly two camps, and I’m not talking MS vs Apple: those for whom spending an hour or two punching in stuff on the command line and rebooting repeatedly seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to expect a user to do, and sane people.

Kidding! Just kidding! A little, anyway. Since my first computer dates back to something like 1990, a sweet little DOS machine with 256K RAM (upgraded!) and a whopping 20M of disk storage, I am familiar with typing things into command lines and watching the results on a ugly amber monitor. (aside: adjusting for inflation, that puppy ran me about $2,500. Yikes.) Ah, those were the days! I was taking the mandatory accounting classes in business school at the time, and I thought to myself, I did, that, heck, I could use the macro function on QuatroPro (anybody remember them?) to write a little accounting system. Whiled away quite a few hours getting that all set up, using spreadsheets as tables, using little macro loops to move stuff around, until I had the skeleton of a home-level accounting system. After about 6 entries, it ran out of resources and hung up. But it worked, I tell you! No, really! All I needed to do was invest several thousand 1990 dollars into a much bigger box, and, heck, probably could have got dozens! hundreds, even! of entries punched in before it bogged into petrification.

(another aside: probably the maddest I’ve ever made my wife was trying to explain double-entry accounting to her. It was weird – like the very idea of double entry accounting offended her to the heart. We’d only been married a few years at the time, so I took her obvious frustration as a sign I wasn’t explaining it right, and so kept trying. Wrong. Nod, say ‘yes dear’ and back slowly out of the room. But I didn’t know that at the time. I still have no idea what about the concepts was so wrong, but it’s pretty clear you don’t need both spouses to sign on to use GAAP to have a successful marriage.)

(Aside to the another aside: there is probably a really tiny set of readers who find the above freaking hilarious. For the rest of you, for convenience called ‘normal people’: it’s freaking hilarious. You’ll have to just trust me on this.)

Another story: my last serious foray into hardware was around 2000, when I decided I needed a home recording studio. We had bought our one and only house, the one we still live in, and I had decided I needed someplace to play the piano. 1600 sq ft suburban track house containing 4 kids under 10 and an exhausted mother (is there any other kind, when it comes to small children?) is no place to be pounding out the blues. So, in my usual overreacting manner, I converted the garage into a sound room. This does not mean: throw some carpet on the floor and egg cartons on the walls, or even maybe another layer of sheetrock on the walls. No, no, no – we’re talking the middle half of the garage (front quarter: laundry room; out by the big door: storage). Started by putting in multi-layered floating floor – rubber under 2X3s, layer of plywood, layers of hardboard, then ultimately padding and carpet. Somewhat isolated from ground vibrations, and it doesn’t creak. On top of that floor, build frame walls separating the laundry room and the front storage – layer of sheetrock, studs and insulation, layer of sheet rock, furring strips to create an air gap, then another layer of sheetrock, then layers of carpet hanging over the walls. The existing walls merely got studs & insulation, sheetrock, air gap, sheetrock, carpet.

I wussed out on the ceiling. Just taped and textured it, after putting in new light fixtures. Think I was getting tired out by that point – working, helping with the kids, then staying up half the night mudding, painting, flooring….

Epic overkill. First extended experience finishing sheetrock – parts of it are pretty good, which is to say: parts of it suck. But it works – I can pound on the piano in the middle of the night, and not wake anybody in the house or neighborhood.

Then I said: wait! DAWs are now coming down in price such that I could put one in my music room! Circa 2000, a good home DAW consisted of:

  • a pretty good computer
  • a digital audio/MIDI program
  • a digital audio converter (DAC) to turn sound into 1s and 0s
  • a variety of input devices – keyboards, guitars
  • studio monitors, a mixing board, microphones, mike stands, cables, etc. and etc.

After much research, got a Mac tower:

Something like this

…because you could just open the side, plug in your DAC board, and be ready to go. The thought of disassembling a Windows box in order to hook up hardware that might or might not work without serious effort was too much. The Mac stuff at the time was pretty rock solid, nearly plug and play. There was an internal board to handle the DAC, an external rack unit to take the various physical inputs and feed them to the DAC, a mixing board to enable fiddling with the routing, and nice set of monitor speakers – KRK V8s:

הבזאר- לוח יד שניה, דרושים | אוזניות, מוניטורים | למכירה ...
Still have these. They’re wonderful, producing sound quality beyond what my elderly hearing can appreciate.

Anyway: as you can imagine (maybe), there is quite a bit of work involved in getting all these pieces to play nice together. Ah, the painful, frustrating memories! The dream: walk into my nice studio, turn all the many components on, and just make music – was never fully realized. It was always something, something on the board got switched wrong, some nob or slider got turned off, some plug somewhere wasn’t quite right, and on and on and on. Those nights where I was recording stuff in under 15 minutes were the exception; nights where I gave up after an hour were not uncommon.

By the time kid #5 arrived in 2004, I’d about had it. We had the house remodeled, in the process of which the contractors messed with the (admittedly pretty slapdash and no doubt non-code-compliant) wiring I’d put in that powered everything in the sound room, and so, after fiddling and fiddling just trying to turn stuff on, and failing, I, without really meaning to, gave up.

Nail in the coffin of my studio: got my 1926 restored Steinway M back from the technician – after the remodel, finally had a place to put it in the house. That was that: found I would much MUCH rather make music on a nice piano than spend another frustrating minute on my DAW.

Anyway, all this is simply to say: yes, I can handle hardware/software issues up to a point – drivers, weird configuration issues, mystery problems. But I really, really want to keep them to a minimum. That’s what’s kept me off Linux so far. My late son, may he rest in peace, was the kind of kid who, at 16, built his tower up from scratch, component by component, and then installed Linux on it, and then downloaded a ton of free, open source CGI software, and then wrote his own ray tracing program – for fun. (1) He is not here now. I’m the ranking tech support in this house, and I’m not within an order of magnitude of my son’s level of expertise.

Anyway, please keep up the helpful comments, I really do appreciate any guidance or anecdotes you’d like to share. Onward!

  1. His wanting to write his own ray tracing program was also the occasion for him to teach himself vector algebra by googling around on the web. Kid was the nicest, kindest kid you’d ever want to meet, who happened to be an off-the-charts genius as well.