my ukulele progress

I turned down a job in Decorah Iowa which boasts of having the Spam museum. It does make you ponder what smells emanate from a facility that actually makes the abomination which is Spam.

Speaking of Iowa and other heartland states, my biggest shock was how horribly they eat. You would think that since they are the bread basket of the United States that they would have access to many, many excellent vegetables and fresh foods. Not the case. They were morbidly obese and eating a lot of junk although they produce the best food. It is a head-scratcher. Kind of like the conundrum of how the British people, occupying an island as they do, can be so resistive to seafood. Some things are beyond reason and explanation.
Whenever I revisit Iowa, my home state, I’m shocked at the general level of obesity among both adults and small children. A typical food court in an Iowa mall usually includes places where you can buy a large baked potato stuffed with butter, melted cheese, chili, and sour cream.

[Shameful admission: this sounds kind of good.]
 
Whenever I revisit Iowa, my home state, I’m shocked at the general level of obesity among both adults and small children. A typical food court in an Iowa mall usually includes places where you can buy a large baked potato stuffed with butter, melted cheese, chili, and sour cream.

[Shameful admission: this sounds kind of good.]
In Alabama, you’d have the additional option to top it with bacon and pork BBQ. Blue Moon BBQ offers a stuffed baked potato that literally won’t fit on a normal- sized plate.
Correction: it’s Full Moon BBQ, not Blue. The Blue version would be in Kentucky :ROFLMAO:
 
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There used to be one of these in Eureka, CA. The saying was: "Georgia Pacific... we put the reek in Eureka!"

was at a paper (pulp) mill.


There was also a hardboard operation in Ukiah for a while... smelled just like the pulp mill in Eureka. We used to call the product they made "Ukiah wood". It was actually called high density fiber board. Was used to make molded doors mostly. Worked well as a cutting board too: Very dense and totally water proof.

Both mills are closed and gone now... along with all the trees that used to feed these mills. Both are so polluted that nothing else can be done with the land, on top of it all.

Once, while driving through Ukiah, I happened to glance in my rear view mirror at the "Welcome to..." sign. Inspiration struck, in the form of spontaneous poetry:

I live in a town
Ukiah - backwards - haiku
No poetry here

The irony of it all makes even more sense if you have visited there...
 
We had a big paper mill in Lafayette and you could smell for miles...especially if it was cloudy. It was a smell, but I didn't mind. To me, it smelled like potatoes. It was odd but not repelent.
 
I used kale in its more traditional sense. I took a bunch of kale, ripped it from its stems and then balled up the kale into a big ball and then sliced the ball into fine discs. That resulted in a bunch of itty-bity kale florets. After my pinto beans had pressure cooked for two hours, I added the kale to wilt therein.

In a plastic storage container I put garlic powder, chive/shallot mixture, baharat, some olive brine, and a crazy amount of oregano (enough to be counted as a vegetable serving).

I strained the bean/kale mixture of most of its liquid and added it to the dry herbs. It is going to be a delicious main-stay for the next week or so.

Over the years I have seen videos about how to make beans more digestible via baking powder or having a pre-soak, or by doing other things. I have never had an issue with beans. I've found that as long as you keep it fresh and simple, they digest without a whimper. Maybe I'm just lucky. I don't know.

I think the next thing on my horizon is a new take on an ubiquitous soup I had whilst living in Italy. I am going to brown some Italian sausage and then add some barley and cannellini beans. I am, in lieu of tomatoes, add some tandoori paste which I hope will not disagree with my wife's GERD.
 
It is my least favorite time of the year because the cold air of the winter is competing with the warmer air of spring's promise. Those competing air masses cause a lot of wind. Driving an open vehicle as I do, I do not like wind. It makes it hard to light my pipe and it messes up my hair.

The only thing to do curl up and take a nap. I've just had my feeding for the day.

I set the skillet on high and while awaiting the fat to smoke I quickly made some guacamole (one avocado, one lime, garlic powder, and tomatillo sauce. When the skillet is smoking I line the perimeter with slices of a previously baked potato half, throw two eggs with tarragon in the middle and flip when the edges get crunchy.

I put eggs on a plate, cover with my guacamole, and then warm up enough of my bean and kale mixture to cover the eggs. I always pour in a bit of red chili sauce with the beans to de-glaze the skillet of the beany bits.

I have been bouncing between the B on the 16th fret and the 7th fret in my music. I have primarily been focusing on the dominant shape of the minor pentatonic and the Phrygian dominant, but sometimes I just cannot resist sliding into the Dorian #11.

I have been following one of two strategies. Either I play pentatonics (or Phrygian domiants) in both positions and create a very wide two or three octave melody. Or I play the pentatonic on one end of the fretboard and the Phrygian on the other to create a new sound. That is actually my preferred M.O. because it is fun to juxtapose the exotic sound of the Phrygian dominant with the more common pentatonic minor.
 
phrygiandom.png

I made a little table showing how to play the Phrygian Dominant. This is how you'd play it on a re-entrant. If you had a linear tuning and wanted to use the bass strings, it would be the same thing except you'd shift down a position on the 2nd of the 3 strings.

I did this to show that at times it is difficult to talk about what I play but relatively easy to play what I play when the words don't get in the way.

Something I like about this scale is how you can move horizontally. For example, the highest note on the A string is at the same position as the highest note on the E string. Likewise the lowest note on the E string is at the same level as the lowest note on the C string. This allows you to roll horizontally as well as move vertically up or down the scale.

Another reason I love this scale is how on the first string of the scale the notes are compact, on the second string they expand and on the third string they expand even further. It is like three cels of an animation of an explosion
 
I made a comment on a thread which unfortunately triggered people. But one person said they had learned some Latin and that makes me happy since I do have a PhD in ancient languages. My specialty is later Greek, especially domestic comedies of Menandros, but Latin is a handmaiden to Greek...so I cannot complain.

But I do complain. I saw a man wearing a blue suit and a grey hat and I wanted to shout out from the car that the hat wasn't working. But I didn't. However I did heckle a bunny. On the other side of the chain-link fence of the warehouse where I work resides a bunny. It is snow white and all the surrounding ground is dirt, brown dirt. The bunny always sits in the shadow thrown by a lamp post. It may not have been polite but sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. I accosted the bunny and exclaimed "dude, I can totally see you!" It may have been hurtful and none of my business, but if the bunny thinks its strategy conceals itself from coyotes or birds of prey...then the bunny needed to know even if it left it a bit crestfallen.

I found at the market a green chili sauce that met my standards of simple ingredients: just Hatch chilis, garlic, salt, and citrus. So many companies add all these extra chemicals and preservatives. Moreover, many companies lie. For the latest iteration of my quiche Elise I bought some swiss chard, my wife's favorite green, and some pancetta. The pancetta's packaging claimed it was healthy and nitrate-free. But its ingredients included celery salt which is a nitrate. Do they think I'm stupid?

Don't answer that. It is best left ambiguous. I remember smoking a pipe during my oral examinations for my PhD and I remembered a quote stating that a pipe gave an intelligent man time to think and a stupid man something to hold. And there's nothing to distinguish whether my motivation was that of an intelligent man or a stupid man. To my credit I will say that when one of the examiners brought up irregular Latin imperatives in an attempt at a gotcha moment, I listed--among others--dic and fac, which I pronounced as dick and f*ck to register my indignation at such a presumption during my PhD exam. The examiner may have just as well tried to say that celery salt isn't a nitrate.

Going back to the start of this rant and my ill-received comment on memorizing songs: I do practice what I preach. I don't memorize songs; that seems like a waste of grey matter. I memorize song elements so that I can make countless songs.

A case in point is the C# Aiolian b5. I tend not to embrace this scale but because of that fact I gravitated to it because sometimes you have to invite your demons to tea. Although the C# Aiolian b5 doesn't have the tight little b/c interval that I love, I thought I would use it in my study of using B's all over the fretboard. I have to disclaim that I did something else as well. In the C# Aiolian b5 the B comes in on the high end of the scale--rather limiting my use of the B. So I also used the A Lydian dominant where the B is the 2nd note of the scale. In this way I had a B at the beginning or the end of the scale.
 
… I did heckle a bunny. On the other side of the chain-link fence of the warehouse where I work resides a bunny. It is snow white and all the surrounding ground is dirt, brown dirt. The bunny always sits in the shadow thrown by a lamp post. It may not have been polite but sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. I accosted the bunny and exclaimed "dude, I can totally see you!" It may have been hurtful and none of my business, but if the bunny thinks its strategy conceals itself from coyotes or birds of prey...then the bunny needed to know even if it left it a bit crestfallen.
Bunny abuse! Somebody call PETA. As if there isn’t enough stress in the poor thing’s life. ;)
… when one of the examiners brought up irregular Latin imperatives in an attempt at a gotcha moment, I listed--among others--dic and fac, which I pronounced as dick and f*ck to register my indignation at such a presumption during my PhD exam. The examiner may have just as well tried to say that celery salt isn't a nitrate.
This gave me a good laugh! Chalk up another one for Ron.
 
Here's the layering of my latest quiche:

1. pastry in dish
2. layer of 3 year old cheddar
3. layer of swiss chard. I used an entire bunch of chard. from each leaf I cut the vein resulting in two halves. I took all the halves and rolled them into a cigar. I cut the cigar length-wise and then cut the cigar into fine discs. This resulted in fine chard ribbons which weren't very long since I had cut the cigar in half. My thought was to make the chard more amenable to a fork.
4. layer of pancetta
5. layer of eggs and creme. I forgot to buy soft cheese so I just melted some pecorino in the creme. I added to the eggs some garlic, chive/shallot mixture, mustard powder, and a salt/turmeric/citrus mixture.
6. layer of Vermont cheddar which is sharp but not as much as layer #2. It is more for looks than anything else. It does make a crust for the quiche.
 
I made some rather bold beans.

In a pot of pinto beans, I added some crunchy bacon, then some blackened onion, collard green ribbons, and a flourish of butter salt. After the boil was done I added dried oregano and fresh cilantro. It is very flavorful, especially the charred onions. I won't be making a habit of this. I've been losing a lot of weight and I'll get back to beans and vegetables but sometimes you need to just break away for a moment.
 
and speaking of beans and things, I have been trying to eat everything I have: beans, avocadoes, limes, eggs. I am not so worried about my keg of olives nor my jars of chilis. They will keep.

My motivation is my upcoming vacation. I haven't taken a vacation in years; I usually just take the cash pay-out instead and keep on working. I'm going to my favorite place: on the road with my wife. We like movement and driving. Back before my wife's health deteriorated we would drive to locations for no reason whatsoever other than to get gas in a different location and grab a bite to eat.

And, no, I am not taking Yorkie on my vacation. People who cannot show up for life without dragging their hobbies with them are a pet peeve of mine. That applies to people who cannot live without media, or who exercise daily, or ukulele players.

I don't know if I'll be able to squeeze in much music before the vacation because it seems every night when I get home from work around midnight, there's mopping or vacuuming or laundry to do. After all, we have to tidy up the house so that the cat-sitter doesn't think we're as sloppy as we are.
 
During my childhood, my family did a lot of the type of traveling you described. My parents called it “loafering”. Dad sometimes took the driving part to the extreme, as in a 1975 jaunt from northern Georgia to Key West, FL during two thirds of my elementary school’s spring break.

Yes, you read that correctly, “two thirds of” a one-week school break. Somewhere there is a Polaroid snapshot of the famous Key West “southernmost point” landmark. After snapping the photo, Dad sauntered back to our Toyota Corolla and motioned mom and me to load up. Two very long days later, we were back home.

Somewhere along the Tamiami Canal, I recall hearing the not-yet-FCC- sanitized radio version of Charlie Daniels’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. Around the same time, the tiny car’s odometer rolled over 100K miles.

EDIT: The round-trip distance from my hometown, far down I-75 to Miami and across the famed 7-mile bridge to Key West, FL and back is 1,722 miles. Allegedly the round trip should take a total of 26 hours “in light traffic” but even in the 1970’s, getting past Atlanta in either direction took a minimum of two hours. And, in my experience, whatever math is used to arrive at such calculations assumes that one drives nonstop without eating, stretching or visiting a public restroom, and is thus inherently flawed :).
 
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My wife and I used to make crazy drives like this... Seattle to San Francisco with just a dinner break... Lake Tahoe to Salt Lake City overnight in one pass. One day we were in Spokane and it was so hot we drove to the Oregon Coast just to cool off... between breakfast and lunch.

What amazes me the most is how far we could go with out stopping to pee... What's happened to me?
 
During breaks in my school days I would drive from North Carolina to southern California in 50 hours, and that included sleeping twice.

I did manage to squeeze in some music. I had been practicing combining minor pentatonic shapes by hopping to different B's on the fretboard. I am playing in E, so the E major pentatonic is just the Db minor pentatonic since E and C# (Db) are relative major and minors of each other. I kind of screws with my head, especially if you think about all the labels. For example if I want to play the tonic of the E major pentatonic, that is just the mediant shape of the Db minor pentatonic. That certainly is true but not very helpful in improvising music. It flows much better if you don't think about the label and about the equivalencies in the two keys, and just play the shapes. It is even more useful to think of the major pentatonic shapes as discrete entities and forget about the relationship of the relative major/minor.

My biggest takeaway so far is to beware of the G# in the major pentatonic. It can sound a bit sour if you don't handle it correctly. I found this out while playing some melodies with modes from the harmonic and melodic minor and with the major pentatonic. I was playing the melody over a simple EΔ7, AΔ7, B9 progression. I know that's lame but I don't normally play with major qualities and their augmented thirds, so I was a bit stymied in the heat of the moment.
 
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I went to the dentist today but it was a false alarm. Previously they thought I had a cavity but it was just a fragment of something left over from my wisdom tooth surgery over 20 years ago. Since it doesn't hurt, there's no reason to invasively remove it.

What piqued my interest was the dentist's assistant who was wearing a mask. From what I could see, she had every indication of being beautiful...but you couldn't be sure because of the mask. The mask created intrigue. I wondered what I could do to mask my music--if I could make it better with mystery. I thought I'd take inventory of what I do on this front and if there's more I could do.

I do compose (if it could be called that!) in minors, and I suppose that is mysterious because a lot of songs are in major.

I do employ odd intervals. A lion's share of music uses 1, 4, and 5. But there are four other intervals. Could I utilize them more?

What about chord qualities? I try to use less common qualities such as augmented and suspended and extended chords like m11. Could there be further options like taking my chords and adding an add6 here or a #4 there?

As far as melodies are concerned, an original tune is always good. But what about plagiarizing and re-imagining melodies? Classical music is a treasure trove of melodies. Sometimes I'll play a bit from Beethoven or St. Colombe and surround it with next contexts. That seems good. Or how about going low-brow? I have used shave and a haircut as a motif or even the always unfinished Bugs Bunny song of There's a place in France....

There's always the right hand to consider. New strums, new techniques like triplets or fanning, interspersing picking with strumming, sound board tapping.

It seems I am aware of a lot of ways and mean to throw curveballs into the music. I think the goal is to be mindful of them and use them more.
 
Ever one to tread the lowbrow path, I’ll grab the opportunity for a tangential self- serving connection to your reference to the unfinished Bugs Bunny song.

The Looney Tunes theme song (The Merry Go Round Broke Down) has long been on my “must learn” list. I’ve found a Key of C chord sheet and have listened to multiple highly- produced and slower- tempo jazz versions on Spotify but after attempting the progression multiple times I have yet to coax anything from Yowling Tom that remotely resembles the familiar cartoon melody.

Any idea what I’m doing wrong, Ron?IMG_0391.jpeg
 
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I don't have time to sit down and try it out, but my assumption is that it is the perennial issue with ukes: versions of the chords. Both you and I participated in a recent thread about inversions/voicings/or whatever is the preferred nomenclature. I'm just going to call it a version of the chord. The uke's go-to version of a chord sometimes isn't the same as the assumption that a pianist or a guitar player has. We have to hunt and peck to find the correct version. When we find the correct version of one chord, often its pitch is much higher than the next chord in the song, so that if we just played it, the pitches would be bouncing all over the place. That's the burden of the ukulele player, especially the re-entrant uke. I suppose the conclusion is that some songs just don't work for us and our tuning. I don't know if that's the case in this song, but something to keep in mind.
 
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