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So Mom Died 10-13-2017

…which is why I completely disappeared off the Internet. Here’s what happened:

Took Mom to Emergency Monday, October 9, about 7:30PM or so. She was complaining of pain in the lower right GI, exactly where her appendix was taken out when she was nine. After 4 shots of morphine that didn’t touch the pain, the CT results came back, and they got her a pain killer that worked. Wednesday, she went to surgery, again about 7:30PM. Came out with flying colors. Surgeon was ecstatic. She was sooo healthy inside once he removed the piece of small intestine that had twisted because of scarring from her appendicitis operation so many years ago, something, I was told, that is common with those who have had appendectomies. (Wonderful news, that!) Anyway, Thursday she was doing great. By Thursday afternoon, though, things changed, and, Friday morning, at around 4:40AM, her heart rate began to steadily slow, till, about ten minutes later, it ground to a halt.

So there you have it. That’s what happened, for those who want to know, mainly, of course, her relatives.

Be in Joy, Mom.

Dawn


Rules Do Not Apply, (Old, slightly corrupted file)

Rules Do Not Apply, composed by F. W. Lineberry, performed by F. W. Lineberry and D. L. Keur. (First half is simple and melancholy, then heats up to a bang-crash dissonance at the end.


Okay. It’s here! And I…

LOVE IT!!!!!


What’s Important?

A friend of mine — a best friend of mine (Anita Lewis) — spoke today about gratitude on Infinite Matters. She just came through Hurricane Irma. Having survived what I consider to be more than my fair share of life’s critical emergencies and traumas, I could totally relate. And, of course, as with everything, relating brought analysis and conclusions based on my own experiences with a forest fire-storm, numerous tornadoes, proximal lightning strikes, floods, being under siege because of armed federal fugitives with the resulting response of county, state, and federal law enforcement and their (thankful) invasion of my farm. Worst of all, brutal, physical assault that completely changed my life.

There seems to be a real disconnect in a solid majority of everyday people between what’s really important and what, lacking experience with real danger and disaster, only seems to be important, so much so that what is actually important doesn’t ever really hit home with most people until they face extreme crisis, catastrophe, trauma, unbearable pain, and, yes, death. That disconnect is, I think, what separates war veterans, military and civilian, from those of us who have never experienced war firsthand. It’s what separates law enforcement from the rest of us. Mostly, especially today, it’s what separates cultural combatants from reason.

When the biggest issue in your life is whether you’re going to make the mortgage payment or the rent, get to work on time, earn that promotion, or, even more trite, going to be able to get that limited edition iPhone, your nails or cornrows done by your favorite beautician, catch a date with some hotty, or be able to walk around publicly flaunting some aspect of yourself without criticism, then cultural issues can, for some, seem really significant. When faced with true hardship and trauma, though, everything pales, except what really is important: love, life, health, safety, sustenance, shelter, and freedom from terror and from physical pain for you and your loved ones and kin, maybe even, at least for some of us, extending that, too, for your kith, and your neighbors, near and far.

I think a solid majority of the well-off — and, no, I’m not speaking ‘financially’, but, rather, those who, regardless of circumstance, have love, life, health, safety, sustenance, some sort of shelter, and freedom from terror and from physical pain — need a hard wake-up call, a lesson in what’s really important, a hands-on experience that nails them in the forehead and dumps them into survival crisis. Maybe then they’d realize that all this fuss about varying cultural and political differences is, in fact, a luxury allowed them because they are not having to focus on base survival.

My husband, Forrest, has it quite right, I think. Are you willing to give up everything for it? Even your life and the lives of your loved ones? If the answer is no, then, no, it isn’t important. If the answer is yes, then, yes, it’s truly important.


In for a Digital Grand

So, for the last three months, I’ve been eyeing my pianos — my acoustic pianos — thinking, I really ought to get back to playing regularly …get back to serious practice. After all, I’m not writing novels or books, right now (though that itch has been making itself known, too). I’ve successfully resisted the idea, though. It would mean getting a piano tuner/piano repair person in to go through both instruments — expensive (VERY).

Yesterday, along comes my husband (via cell phone conversation), who asks: “What would you think about playing piano, again? …As part of zentao, the music. I mean actually performing.”

I gulp, thinking about all the work and expense that means, me getting my chops back along with potentially having to restring and refelt one or both of my pianos. I mean, they’re both antiques, now, the upright grand built in 1917, the spinet in the 60s. And they’ve been moved and moved and stored and moved, again.

Then Forrest starts talking his musical Geek Speak — MIDI triggering, patching into the sound system, and a bunch of other jargon that I don’t understand.

Ummmm….

He talks on, speaking dreams and wishes, visions and hopes. I listen, my brain reeling as it starts connecting dots here and dots there. He’s not talking acoustic piano. He’s talking digital. Wow.

As he elaborates, I’m getting more concerned, more wary, and, simultaneously, more relaxed to the idea. I have the training and skill, though, as mentioned above, I’m very out-of-practice. And I can hear his excitement at the potentials he envisions, the first tune he wants to do being a Michael Hedges piece. He’ll arrange it tonight for me to play.

Now, we own three electronic keyboards. But we don’t (…or didn’t) own a digital piano, which is a completely different instrument.

He’s set on a VERY expensive keyboard he’s read the specs on. Meanwhile, I’m frantically doing a search for digital pianos. The keyboard he’s talking about is or can be a digital piano. It has the weighted keys. But it is not a digital grand. It’s a professional keyboard, designed for triggering stuff I don’t understand. A digital grand piano, on the other hand, is, in fact, a fully sampled grand piano.

As he talks to me throughout the day, I feel the inevitability. This is going to happen. It’s only a matter of ‘when’, and, since we’re both ‘now’ people, I realize that, yep, I’d better find what I want, and it has to be something we’ll both be happy with.

Yamaha makes the very best digital grand pianos. I hit Yamaha USA. I study the specs. I also go check out the unit he wants, and, no, it’s NOT a digital grand piano, which is what I want. Back to the digital grands. I read through the specs, the features. I look at the reviews of the one that first caught my eye. I check out the one I tried over in Spokane in July, a unit sitting on the main floor at Hoffman’s Music. I liked that unit. A lot. And it wasn’t over-the-top expensive. My eye travels back to the top-of-the-line model. Sigh. It’s got the top-of-the-line sampling, the GHS keyboard, and the damper resonance enhancements, which makes it act, play, and sound like a top quality acoustic grand.

Without telling him of my decision, I order one, and I order the three pedal add-on, because I play Rachmaninoff, not just Bach and Chopin. I need all three pedals, thanks. Would feel lame without them. Deal done, I text him about it. He’s good about it. In fact, this morning, he’s excited — more excited than me.

Me? I’m okay with the idea. I’m resolved to the fact that, yes, once again I’m going to be working very hard to get myself up to speed …up to the performance level he needs for what he envisions. Luckily, the piano is an easier instrument to play than the flute. (Yes, really.) I’m in for a grand — a digital grand. It’s coming in Friday.


The Future is Theirs

An artist friend recently reconnected with me on FacePlant. His art, which is very 21st century, is perfect for adorning large, post-modern edifices and large spaces. But gaining traction in the art market is completely dependent upon being socio-politically well-connected. Else, plan on selling your work for .87 cents a copy for digital and maybe a gross profit of $5 as (or on) a tangible product. And the same is true for all the humanities. Just like art, music and writing have also all taken nose-dives as viable means of earning a living for all but the most lucky few.

You say you want to grow up to be a writer? A musician? An artist? I’ll nod and smile, but, inside, I’m thinking that you’d be better served, at least in the near future, by focusing on STEM careers, that is, science/technology/engineering/mathematics. I say ‘short term’ because, honestly, AI will supersede humans at those as well in, probably, no more than twenty years as any enterprise will be better, more efficiently served and performed by AI-run/enhanced robots, including every job imaginable — yes, even wiping grandma’s bum, rocket science, and brain surgery.

You are forewarned.

 

 


My Morning Funny

Dawn's Azumi flute

So, husband texts, asking which pieces I’d like to rehearse when he gets home. I give him a rather extensive list of well over a dozen difficult pieces. An hour-and-a-half later, when I’m working through number four on the list, he texts to tell me that he’s hit all of them, so we’re good to go, and he’s heading out …which means he’s starting his assigned heavy-haul KW semi- and heading toward customs to get back into the U.S.

I sit there staring at that text, thinking, ‘You hit that entire list? In an hour-and-a-half? Wow!’ Then comes my sigh of frustration.

Music is so totally in his hand, and so is his instrument. What I have to work weeks at, he manages in a few minutes, or, at most, a few run-throughs during his practice sessions.

Laughter strikes me. It’s only fitting, I think, that me, who spent decades in formal study, grilled and drilled, has to work very hard to come up to speed, while he, who had no formal education in music or his instrument, can toss off really, really intricate, difficult riffs like it’s nothing and hit them every time.

I used to be that good, but with a qualifier: only after years and years of determined practice and only by continuing daily practice, practicing every day, at least four hours a day, could I be that adept and agile, my sight-reading top-notch, my ability to toss off brand new pieces superb, and my repertoire flawless — four hours of practice a day. And that, my friends, is the difference between a virtuoso musician (him) and somebody who’s just talented.

Azumi flute


When the POG2 and the Digitech Throw Tantrums

DigitechRP1000, POG2, and Dawn, Strip

Like I mentioned previously, there’s a lag between playing a note and it sounding through the PA. It’s not much. It’s usually not that noticeable …unless I’m playing under heavy distortion or using the stomp loop to bring up the POG2’s multiple voicing to go along with some of the Digitech RP1000’s distortion or flanger or …whatever makes the sound ‘happen’. Then, it can be noticeable milliseconds of lag, requiring me to really lead the beat. Occasionally, though, the units actually throw tantrums.

I was practicing some difficult foot switching between patches on a piece where I’m playing some fast, upper register lines. As I switch between patches, I’m hearing wobbles the moment I bring the parts up to speed …which, admittedly, really gallop along. I slow the tempo down, and the wobbling disappears. Bring the tempo back up, and there are the wobbles, again.

I’m one of those people who looks, first, to themselves as creating or causing the problem. A check with effects off, though, showed that, I was playing the part accurately. Bringing the effects units back online, I tried again, only to find that, sure enough, at speed, the wobbles happened. Now, I knew that neither the Digitech nor the POG2 like the flute’s third register’s upper high notes played at speed, but this particular glitch hadn’t ever exposed itself to my hearing before …maybe because, stressed out about just getting the switches hit when I should, I wasn’t listening — all too possible. Now I was listening, though.

Trying the line without the POG2 didn’t improve things. Trying the line with only the POG2 on and bypassing the Digitech, also didn’t make things go smoother.  I began trying various other patches on the Digitech with the POG2 off. Okay. That worked. I tried other voicing on the POG2.  Okay, too.  It was both the Digitech’s patch and the voicing being asked of the POG2 that were throwing problems, and isolating one, the other, or having them both working together didn’t make any difference. They did not, either of them, like that line played at speed and were vehemently voicing their objections through the PA.

It made me laugh out loud to hear the machines in their grumbles. They were both having a devil’s time hitting the pitches that swiftly. Slow it down just a tad, and everything stabilized. Turn it up to burn speed, though, and both of them threw fits.

The funny things you have to deal with playing power-driven flute!

Digitech RP1000, the POG2 and Dawn


Author Community All Aflutter and Cluck. OMG!

So, a bunch of “legitimate, hard-working ‘authors'” are in an outrage. Feathers are kerfuffled, bent, even broken. Tsks, clucks, cries, and screams of outrage (text-style) flood the cyberlanes. SJW-style calls-to-action abound. Hands grab virtual pitchforks, clubs, hoes, and hatchets.

It might not make your local news, but, in the online author circles, the ripples are palpable, the temblors quaking their virtual landscapes. The headline reads: “Scammers Break The Kindle Store”. (If you’re interested, DuckDuckGo it, because, no, I won’t link to it or any of its reblogs.) What that headline should read is: “System-Gaming ‘Authors’ Beaten at Their Own Game,” because that’s what’s happened.

Authors ‘serious’ about getting their ‘eBooks’ noticed in the hopes of making both money and a name for themselves as ‘successful indie authors’ collect and then mine their followers, email list subscribers, author pals and cooperatives, friends, relatives, and anybody else they can to try to get their books highly ranked on Amazon and other online book selling venues. Calls-to-action abound with

  • Urges to read a provided eARC (eBook version of an Advanced Review Copy) then post reviews of the book on its release date or very soon thereafter. (Of course, four and five star reviews are expected.)
  • Coordination of blog posts among genre-similar associate authors promoting the book are pre-scheduled, as are blog tours.
  • Subscribers and followers are urged to buy within x days of release or an older release’s new promotion, with specific dates sometimes assigned.
  • Social media pals are sent copy to post pre-release, on release day, and the few days following that release.
  • Seeking permafree status on Amazon of an author’s first book or, better, of the first of a series, is something pursued with vengeance and artful manipulation.
  • BookBub campaigns, Book Gorilla campaigns, eliciting votes for best cover contests and best book contests….
  • et al. ad infinitum.

Here’s the reality: Legitimately good books written by legitimately good authors don’t usually make it to the top of any rankings, because most legitimately good authors don’t have the crowd charisma and marketing gumption (and, yes, I said ‘gumption’, defined as ‘boldness of enterprise; aggressiveness’, because that’s what it is) necessary to hold sway.  Success in eBooks, especially on Amazon, regardless of actually how good the book is (and most of them are, in fact, schlock) is based on how well the author of that top-ranked book has gamed the system, which is dependent upon ‘likeability’, luck, skill at manipulating the various ranking algorithms and, more so, skill at convincing others to raise you and your book’s popularity and sales/download/pages-read numbers.

So, indie authors are in an uproar …because outsourced clickfarms have stolen their tactics of inner circle clickfarming and are ruining their game-plan. Truth is, all the outsourced clickfarms are doing is exactly what the authors were doing, only much more effectively, it seems.

Me? I don’t find the outsourced clickfarming any less ethical than author-run efforts. In fact, I think I find them less offensive. Of course, my opinion is that of a tiny minority, and, I guess, it’s extremely offensive to people like Stuart Whitmore over on G+ who decided to resort to insults and trolling me over it. That’s okay. I expect that. I’m not and never have been willing to just go along to get along, embracing the most popular opinion just because it’s socially advantageous.


Just Had an Earthquake

It happened about 11:30PM. Two distinct pulses that jolted me. The big wagon wheel chandelier swayed for a good ten minutes. So did the hanging plants and the wind chimes. I heard the house, made of wood, set on a full cement foundation, give off two very faint snaps, like toothpicks snapping. The floor moved under me. I felt an odd, faint sense of vertigo. Earthquake. They happen here. Rarely. But they do happen. It’s eerie when it does. I’m not accustomed to them.

…And, okay. Our wonderful Bonner County Sheriff just sent out a text: BCSO: The 5.8 earthquake in Lincoln, MT is being felt here. www.nixle.us/9FRLF Reply with a friend’s # to forward.

5.8?!!!!!!!!!!

Wow.

The biggest I ever remember was 4.2.

Lincoln, MT is like 300 miles as the crow flies from us.

Wow, wow, wow.


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