Last night we sat down with road atlases and with calendars to map out places and times for a late Summer/early Autumn vacation. We originally planned to go at the end of July/first week of August, but we changed that plan so as to accomodate a visit my wife wishes to make to a friend she has not seen in far too long.
We're intrigued with the way that the eastern section of this country allows one to cover so much ground in such relatively short drives. If one leaves Dallas and drives one hundred miles, one reaches Waco, a charming enough city in its own right, but hardly a major shift from Dallas in terms of culture. While I have always wanted to paddle a slow canoe along the Brazos near Waco (even after my last canoe trip ended my nephews and I in the drink due to my failed canoe-sitting skills), Waco is not so different from Dallas that it simply must be seen. Now that I think about it, though, that's harsh. I mean, Waco has the Browning Library, it's very near the original Dr. Pepper plant, and it has the Texas Ranger police museum. I think that most cities have untold treasures, if one but seeks them out.
By contrast, someone setting out from D.C. can drive 100 to 150 miles away and reach numerous quite disparate destinations. Our inclination is to set up a base of operations in northern Virginia, rural Maryland or perhaps even southern Delaware, so as to be within easy driving reach of a lot of places we want to see. After a fair bit of atlas-scanning, and perhaps a bit of gnashing of my teeth over our change of dates, though in fact I was the one who suggested it to accomodate scheduling, the process of vacation selection seems well underway. I like the juxtapositions, as I ever do. "Look! We can get to both Spottsylvania Courthouse and the Amish country from here!". We are changeable people, though, and we may in fact end up in a lake resort in west Texas or on an island in Canada or cabins in Colorado.
I am learning all sorts of things I did not know lately. The term "mic pre-amp" drips freely from my tongue, whereas it was part of my read-only memory but not part of my active operational software only days ago. I have taken in worlds of softsynth pages, and seen graphical interfaces more complex than I ever imagined could be the case. My own preferred music creation software would work a lot like a Logo turtle graphical design program. One would direct the turtle to make string art, as Logo turtles, being quite artistic are wont to do. But each color of the strands would represent a different tone or sound. Thus, a mandala design would not only look more stylish than the stained glass in the cathedral at Rheims (not, by the way, that I have been to Rheims--but I have been to Waco), but also would play a intricate synthesizer song.
My idea is actually workable. The Logo turtle has been used to make music. The simplest Logo programs include "make the turtle draw" programs. I have not been
much for programming languages since the days when I successfully loaded in typed batches of computer cards to run elaborate programs in Fortran to draw squares and unsuccessfully fed in endless series of such cards to fail to draw triangles in Cobol. I used to speak enough Basic to write simple things, but that was before Basic got replaced by C which became C ++ which became something else and I can't keep count.
But maybe I could tackle my mild software-phobia by re-learning the bit of Logo that I knew, and by programming something in Logo. Already, I like my idea of the Logo turtle softsynth so well that I went and signed up for a membership in halfbaked.com
to share this vision. Halfbaked.com is pretty cool, by the way. One puts on line one's crackpot invention, for all to enjoy and appropriate. It's the ultimate in
open source thinking.
Despite various mike input problems resulting in my song "Feeder Guppy Rescue League" being way too soft on the Mp3 file I uploaded to garageband.com, causing me to post a mildly morose "my hobbies all have smallpox" post a day or two ago,
I did get a kind IM from someone who said "My mom and I thought it silly and fun", which, really, is all one can ask for of any writing. I feel a bit like the narrator in the old Be Bop Deluxe, who sang:
"We hit the road to Hull;
Sad amps and smashed guitars,
Played badly at the Dukes
to almost no applause.
Someone made it worthwhile,
When smiling with bright eyes,
You gave me full attention
and you took me by surprise".
Next time I'll enter any similarly light song in the "folk song" category, as in folk music things can be mildly amusing and still be loved, as opposed to comedy, in which people want huge laughs. I like singing a capella, though, even though my voice is not "song ready". I may try that again. But first I must either find a mike pre-amp, or learn other technology.
I asked an expert on allexperts.com about how to do it cheaply, explaining how I recorded with a Radio Shack amp, and tried to use a pass-through of my cheap 10 dollar eBay keyboard as a cheap booster for the mike. He pronounced himself awed by the awesome awfulness of my equipment, and prescribed a Shure mike.
I put the lyrics to the song up in gurdonpoems, and got on with life.