Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eight happy fish (and a happy computer, too)

Just got upstairs after mucking out the power filter on the 20 gallon fish tank. Algernon the Algae Eater, Mr.? and Mr.? Corydora, and the Blackskirt Quintuplets look a lot friskier. I'm not overly committed to being a fishkeeper, but I do like to have My tenants in good health.

Next fish-related project will be an alternate lighting system for the tank, as humidity got into the incandescent lighting hood and shorted out the last couple of bulbs. I'm thinking in terms of low-wattage LEDs, possibly a string of them around the outside of the tank. I don't like to run the lights in the summer because of the added heat in the tank, so that approach may well solve two problems for the price of one.

As for the wintertime, I've already removed the 100 watt heater from the tank and am upgrading the fish to 200W.

I'm also playing with My new laptop computer, a recent acquisition... I'm running Ubuntu 8.04 and Windows Vista, dual-booting with GRUB as My boot loader.

The laptop is My first serious wireless-networking device, ever. I spent seven years as a sysadmin and hardware geek, but only recently have I felt inspired to go wireless. Security has been My main concern; and that concern was refreshed when I turned on the laptop and immediately found several unsecured networks in range of My house.

I do want the option of going mobile in November, when NaNoWriMo starts up, though. Writing chapters longhand on the back of scrap paper, and then transcribing them when I get home, gets old real fast.

Off to look for wireless drivers for the Ubuntu side of the installation!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Melodious tootling redux

From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo: "When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor."

*squeal* My marks are in! My marks are in!!

It's official: I have passed My Grade 4 clarinet exam, with first class honours.

So it ends, and so it begins... The long, dark night of the *gulp* arpeggios, and the first step on the road toward the Grade Six clarinet exam. Probably two years from now, in June 2010.

Now, if you'll excuse Me... (collapses onto floor in tangle of clarinet parts and #3 Vandoren reeds)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Enough with the exams, already!

It is now the afternoon of Tuesday, June 17. (pauses to wish Caramon and Raistlin Majere a Happy Day of Life Gift).

The karate test is over. Yes, I passed; we got the results at Monday night's class. Red passed, too. Film at eleven, or whenever the shipment of belts comes in.

The clarinet exam is over. I have no friggin' clue if I passed or not. Both pieces sounded great. The List 1 studies both sounded really good, too. Probably aced the ear training. G major scale, no problem. Sight reading not perfect but not bad, either.

And from there on in... I just don't know. There was a disconnect between the syllabus requirements and what I was actually studying and rehearsing. C# minor harmonic scale?? Arpeggios??? Ulp. No, didn't know they were required.

Tried to play 'em anyway, with varying degrees of success.

I was somewhat tense for the List 2 studies, and breathing was a bit of an ordeal. Had to play parts of all three of 'em.

Bottom line: I *think* I passed, but we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime... I could do with a good stiff triple espresso and All the Chocolate There Is.

Monday, June 16, 2008

All tootled out.

At least for the moment.

If I hear one more C# melodic minor scale, I'm gonna...

Ah, that felt good.

I'm at T-minus 30 hours till the clarinet exam, and have officially entered the mental state of 'done just about all I can do'. Will probably get one more practice in tomorrow afternoon, well in advance of Monday night karate class.

Ah, yes, karate. Got tested for green belt test today. We usually get the results at the following class, so I'm hoping to know My fate by tomorrow evening. Overall, though, it felt pretty darned good.

Off to bed with Me... 'Night, all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A whole lotta nothin' goin' on...

It's downtime time again. Weather is a bit on the cool side. Spent Sunday afternoon cleaning out the crawlspace under the back of the house, and most of Monday finishing a new pair of gi pants. (They're wonderful, by the way.)

Don't wanna go shopping; did that yesterday.

Not in a mood to work on the study floor, ride My bike, bake cookies, muck out the fish tank, or do some gardening.

I don't even have a clarinet lesson today -- My teacher is away on musical business. And it's twenty minutes before I have to leave for karate.

So I've been sitting around, playing video games and wandering through various Internet fora and contemplating writing another essay for I already have a theme in mind: A psychological critique of the "Must-Obey-Deity" mindset.

And writers' group is tomorrow, so there's stuff I need to print out.

And, as there are still six practice days before My clarinet exam, I foresee Myself playing mass quantities of scales later tonight: All the major and minor ones up to four sharps or flats, sixteen different scales in all.

But, in the meantime... (stretches out Her legs) ...Ahhh!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Deconstructionism at its finest

I'm sitting here at My desk with a snoot of Scotch and... a stitch ripper.

In My lap is a pair of karate pants that have definitely passed their "Best Before" date. The cuffs are frayed; the sides are threadbare; and I can put My finger right through the cloth immediately below the waistband.

So I'm taking 'em apart to make Myself a fine pattern for a new pair. My primary motive is an upcoming test for green belt, but it would also be nice to have a lighter-weight, custom-sized outfit for what promises to be a very hot summer. (Bonus points: I can use the very same pattern in the fall to whip up an über-heavyweight gi for the Dreaded Season of Cold and Dark.)

It's always been a bit of a struggle to find the right pants, be they gi pants, blue jeans or dressy trousers for work. I have a fairly unusual lower body structure, with a waist-to-thigh ratio that has baffled Me since puberty or so. In most cases, pants that are loose enough for My upper legs are generally far too loose at the waist, and six inches too long as well.

The pants that I'm currently wrecking are a heavyweight canvas size 6... Which, in karate terms, is Pretty Damned Big Indeed. I've already severely modified them, shortening the legs and re-doing the side splits to taper the waist inward. I did similar custom work on the jacket, shortening the sleeves so that Sensei could actually see My hands when I punch.

(turns pants inside out to get at the other side of a leg seam)

In My younger days, I had a lovely pair of brushed-cotton jeans that didn't quite fit. I hung onto them for years and years, trying them on every once in a while to see if I had magically shrunken into them. Eventually I did briefly resize Myself to the pants, but it was a long, judgmental and -- above all -- painful struggle. I would've been a lot happier if I had just purchased the right size of pants to begin with.

(pauses to rip out part of a seam)

When it gets right down to it, there's enough suffering in the world without inflicting it upon ourselves. And, over the years, I've found that the questions we ask ourselves often contribute to that suffering.

Because... *rip* ...sometimes... *shred* ...we take the questions themselves as the answers.

I refuse to question these legs any more. There's a reason I have this particular build. I accept it.

And I intend to use that reason to My advantage.

And practice yoko geri keage many, many times... In cool comfort.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Limitations and Challenges

I'm in an interesting mood this evening/early morning, somewhere between "vaguely pissed off" and anticipatory and taking a break. And I have been put in mind of the ways in which life forces us to s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Permit Me to explain... It's been an atypical Saturday, with an exam rehearsal at noon, a clarinet lesson at 12:30, and then several hours of shopping.

Somewhere along the way, I ran into an unknown entity that triggered what appears to be an environmental allergy. (I suspect it was something at the grocery store, which is where I started to feel Not Quite Myself.) Despite the extra oxygen in My system from an hour of clarinet playing, I arrived home with body aches reminiscent of those I acquired at a workplace I quit several years ago... Primary suspects were mold and inadequate airflow in a basement office.

(makes mental note to phone Karma Faerie and ask if that dish of Revenge is cool enough to serve yet)

The bad-airflow-at-the-Mall theory is currently the one that I favour, because when I got home I brought out the clarinet again (yes, three times in the same day) and worked on a couple of studies for another half-hour.

And it made Me feel much better.

Not only that... I felt *so* much better that I had a major breakthrough in learning the program Cinelerra and managed to edit and render two short video segments. In a good enough mood to listen to L'Heptade by the band Harmonium.

Bottom line: Oxygen is grossly underrated. Don't leave home without it.