Joe's New Blog

Nothing special, this is just my third effort at writing a blog about my life and what goes on in it: Hobbies, cooking, work, maybe the occasional book or DVD review, and so forth. Nothing really noteworthy, but this is sort of a little subset of my world...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Project 365, Day 1

Happy Birthday To Me!

So, after all of that buildup, what did I do today?  Not very much, really.  I did try to do some recording on a couple of the traditional tunes I've been playing around with, "Simple Gifts" and "Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies."  But I don't think I really made enough headway on either of them to really be worth posting up to my SoundCloud account.

And, with it being my birthday, I went out to dinner this evening, so now I'm feeling rather full and lethargic.

Oh, and I did at least make some progress on my project to scan all of my papers and such and get them onto the computer instead of in piles around the room.  So there's a little progress toward my organizational goals.  But tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully things will go better.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

New 365 Days Project, Day Zero

So, it seems like nearly every year, I decide that I'm going to try to do some kind of project, and I seem to inevitably fail at them.  Going to take a photograph every day and post it, going to record a new piece of music every week and post it, going to bake something every weekend, etc.  So this year, since tomorrow is my birthday, I have decided that I'm going to sort of combine all of those odd things that I do, and I'm just going to try to do something creative every day and post a little blurb on here about it.  That might indeed be taking a photo, baking, playing music, finishing a cross stitch pattern or project, doing some of the woodworking I've been interested in for a while, maybe doing some of the other art work that I've been wanting to try.  But every day, I want to do something that just makes me feel a little better and moves my life forward in the right direction.  My tomorrow starts now, so let's do this...

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day One: Project 365

Today is sort of day one of a new adventure for me.  For the past six years nearly, I've been writing on a website called 750words.com.  It's a nice little site for writers, or just for anyone who feels like they need to get words out of their head and onto paper.  Based on the concept of morning pages from the book "The Artist's Way," the general idea is to just write whatever comes to mind for 20 minutes, half an hour, however long it takes, but to write three pages, which amounts to about 750 words, hence the name of the website.  The site makes it fun by having little badges for keeping a writing streak alive for a number of days, or for writing certain numbers of words, not being distracted, writing quickly, things of that sort.  And they recently added a badge for writing your 750 words for a thousand days in a row, almost three years, and I obtained that badge about two and a half weeks ago.  And yesterday, after having written 750 words per day, at least, for 1018 straight days, I forgot to finish my words before I drove down to Dallas to a hockey game.  So now I get to start a new streak, but I also thought to myself, you know, this is sort of also a good time to start thinking about the other things that I want to get done in my life, the other places I want things to go, and get those on an uphill climb and moving along, too.

I think to myself about what I should do.  I've always had that sort of running joke that I don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but I'm 48 years old now, I've only got so much time left, and I seriously don't have any idea at all what I should do from here on out.  I feel like I'm just drifting along, I'm never really all that happy with things, but I don't know what I should do to fix what's wrong.  Maybe if I can finish some things and just feel like I'm not always playing catch-up, that will help some.  That's what I'm going to try to do, at least.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sourdough, anyone?

So I woke up fairly early this morning and realized that I hadn't used my sourdough starter in a few days, needed to use up some of that before the cultures die out.  This past weekend, I made some rolls for Easter dinner, and those turned out well.  Half were regular yeast rolls, half were a "hybrid" roll which used half yeast, half sourdough starter.  My effort at making a "real" sourdough roll that was nice and soft didn't turn out so well, came out more or less like little hockey pucks, so I went back to a recipe off the web which had worked well for me.

At Easter dinner, I had mentioned to a few people that I was making a lot of bread lately, because of the sourdough starter needing to be used.  Rachel, Miss S's sister-in-law, asked me why I wasn't sending more bread down their way if I was making so much of it.  You know, two teenage boys and one who's just shy of teen years and a husband who works hard and packs a lot of lunches, you go through a lot of bread.  Of course, we see them about every month or so at most, so it's not exactly like the bread is going to be very fresh when it gets there, but at least I can get rid of some of it and have it go to a worthy cause.

But, frankly, if I make bread as often as I should to keep the starter conditioned, I'm going to have probably another 50 loaves a month that I need to dispose of, and I just can't eat that much bread myself.  Miss S likes her bread, too, but, come on, two or three loaves a day is a little much for nearly anyone.

So, as the mixer happily churned away making a new experimental batch of modified hybrid dough, I thought about the idea of selling the bread.  How do you get out there and get any kind of market for that sort of thing, though?  And then, how much do you charge for it?  I'm certainly not going to try to become any kind of professional bread baker making my living off baked goods, but it would be nice for the hobby to at least pay for itself, and making a little extra money for my time and effort wouldn't go too far amiss.

So how do I go about making my little bread business rise, so to speak?

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Reboot?

So I find myself thinking, "You know, Joe, you should post more stuff on the blog."  But I also find myself trying to be complete, writing entire posts about things, not just little blurbs of thought.  Try to post an entire recipe, not just the thoughts about how I should change it to make the bread rise properly.  Write an entire article about how I got my scanner set up on the new Windows 8 computer, not just a simple little blurb about where I found the fix and such.  So, I'm going to try, for the entire month of April, to just write what's on my mind, put down a little more information if I can, but not try to write a National Geographic article about every little thing that I try to do.  And, if I can get myself to do that, and post those things, maybe that will carry over to me not being such a completist, anal retentive, perfectionist jackass about so many of the other things in my life.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

What's the password?

So after bringing home my new laptop on Saturday, doing all the registration and such, my first order of business was to download Firefox.  I do use Internet Explorer on my work computer, since I have no choice, and I don't mind it all that much in limited use.  But, because I've used Firefox on all of my home computers and some of my work computers for the past decade or so, I'm much more familiar with a lot of its bells and whistles, where it stores the options and the various key commands that will get me where I want quickly.

I'm also giving some serious thought to setting up the sync service on Firefox, because I think it would help me the next time my computer crashes with what is probably the worst problem I'm having right now:  Remembering all of the user names and passwords for all of the various sites that I have frequented in the past.  All of the bookmarks are gone, too, but that again is one of those things that I'll just try to start over.  Bookmark the things that I discover now, or hopefully just read them, comment on the stories or articles, try to learn from the site and not just bookmark it and let it languish in the history.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Version, again

So this past weekend, I took a couple of days off from work, figured I'd maybe do some stuff in the garage if the weather was nice, otherwise maybe play around a little on the computer, install some of the new sound modules and effects that I'd purchased from IK Multimedia.  I'm a bit of a gear whore, love to have a huge number of sounds to play with, love to have a huge number of different ways to tweak those sounds out.  And IK had a deal where you could get a bunch of their different sound collections, well over a thousand different multisamples, and probably a couple hundred different effects at least, for a quarter of the usual cost.  And when I found out that I had some "jam points," their customer loyalty sort of rewards, available to me, so I could get this four hundred dollar package for about seventy bucks, yeah, that was kind of the end of my resistance.

That was a few weeks ago that I'd purchased that package, but since I hadn't really been playing with my musical stuff much, I hadn't downloaded any of that stuff yet.  This past Thursday, since I had the day off, I spent the whole day downloading and installing that whole package, got everything registered, found a few cool favorite sounds, mostly old synthesizer samples that sounded a lot like late 70s Rush.  I love the sound of those old Taurus pedals, Moog and Oberheim synths.  I found a few cool settings in their Amplitube guitar processing program, made my bass sound weird but cool.  I was pretty happy with all of that, it was money well spent.

And the, early in the afternoon on Saturday, I was unpacking some other little freeware program off the web, I think it was some other effects processor or synthesizer, and my computer froze up on me.  I figured the antivirus software was just having some issues with it, since it was a pretty big zip file I'd downloaded.  So I wandered off, did some little things around the house, killed about half an hour or so.  Came back and the computer was still locked up just on that file extraction, but I could do some other things in other programs.  So I saved all the work I could, closed down other programs that were running in the background.  Went off and did a few other things for half an hour or so.  Hoped that maybe closing down those other programs and such would help.

No, when I got back, the computer was still locked up.  So I did the hard reboot on it.  And that's the last time that computer has ever done anything more than show me the BIOS bootup screen.  It came up to the Windows XP start screen, thought about it for a few seconds, and went back into the reboot.  Two or three repeats of that, and I hit the BIOS setup button, had it check hardware.  All checked out okay, but still no luck on rebooting.

I'm a computer geek from a long way back, made my money for fifteen years solving problems just like that one.  Could I have solved it?  Yeah, probably, but it would have taken me a while, and I still would have most likely had to do a reinstall of the operating system, and I would have lost some of my data and settings.  So I chose to just cut to the chase instead.

A couple of hours later, I was down at Best Buy helping a nice older Asian couple find a computer that would work well for her to be able to go back to college.  No, I'm sorry, Mr. Blueshirt, the lady who just wants to write a few reports, check the web, and send e-mail to her daughter doesn't actually need a 17 inch laptop with 16 GB of memory and an i7 processor.  Half the price got her the dual mode convertible laptop tablet with a Celeron and a couple gigs of memory, and she'll probably never even challenge that core to its fullest.

I, on the other hand, want to be able to see waveforms at max resolution, and I want to be able to render down software synthesizers into sound files at decent time frames, and I want to be able to program Java and have it lock into databases and pull that data without me having to wait half the day and without having to have a separate database server.  But, I also have something of a limited budget, especially having to buy the new computer unexpectedly on a moment's notice.  So, I wound up walking off with a Toshiba laptop, 17 inch screen, 6 GB of memory, 500 GB hard drive, AMD A8 processor.  I'm still trying to figure out the whole Windows 8 thing, but I'll get there.

And I also kind of had a stern talking to myself.  The last probably dozen computers that I've had, the first thing I tried to do was make sure that all my data and programs transferred over onto the new unit.  But, you know, if I've got data from two jobs ago still sitting there on my hard drive, do I really need it?  If I've got a program that I haven't used in two years, is it worth it for me to even see if it's still around?  I don't think so.

So, I've made myself a list of the programs that I really use, made myself a little bit of a list of some of the data that I want to recover from that other hard drive.  And I've decided that I'm going to get myself a new external hard drive, and I'm going to be rigorous with my backup routine, but I'm also going to try to make sure that I keep track of what's on there, of what I do with this new laptop, of all the websites and downloads and programs installed and settings tweaked.

And will that work?  I don't know.  But I'm going to try, I'm going to try to do better.  See what time tells...