A life in music, chapter 1 – an overview

While I have never worked full-time in music, I’ve been singing and playing several instruments most of my life, and I sing as a professional “ringer”, or, choir section leader, around town.  I’ve done ALL sorts of interesting things and I plan to write about some of them over time, so, I thought I’d start out by listing some of the unusual or important ones for your entertainment, and for my reference in the future.

Probably the pivotal moment was at the beginning of 5th grade when I auditioned for the school choir and did NOT get in — unbelievable.  I had already been singing for a while, and I think my mother even went to school to talk to the teacher about it, but, he wouldn’t budge or reconsider.  I didn’t take any lessons or work on my singing (that would be much later), but the next year, I auditioned again, for the same teacher, and I was accepted, and eventually had a solo verse on “Kumbaya” at one of our concerts.  One thing about music — if you can’t take some rejection, you won’t get very far.

I started playing guitar because we had one — my mother and some of her friends had signed up for an adult guitar class at the local community center, but, they ended up mainly laughing each other and upsetting the instructor, so that lasted a very short time. So, we had a guitar and a beginner’s book.  I’m mainly self-taught, and by age 13 I played enough that we bothered to pack up my guitar so that I could take it on the plane with me to summer camp in Georgia.

Another pivotal moment was at the end of 10th grade, when anyone in Senior Choir who wanted to audition for the 24-voice Vocal Ensemble had to sign up on a list on the wall.  I didn’t sign up — I didn’t think I was good enough, and I figured maybe I’d audition the next year.  After class one day, the choir director called me up to the front when he dismissed the class, and said he noticed I hadn’t signed up to audition and wanted to know why.  I told him I didn’t think I was good enough, but he said that although he wasn’t making any promises, he thought I should give it a try.  I did get in, and we performed at various community functions as well as at school.  This group was the closest that a music geek got to having the status of people like the cheerleaders.

College is for a whole other entry.  So is my discovery of the 5-string banjo.  I did some of my most unusual gigs as a banjo player, including playing in a show where I was the only non-sorority member, playing at a pig roast, and being dressed up as a man to accompany a male quartet in a benefit show — to this day I don’t know why it was important that the banjo player also look like a man, but, I like wearing men’s clothes, so, I didn’t object — that was in 1982.

I have sung on the stage of Carnegie Hall.  There were about 100 other singers with me (the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus), and the Cincinnati Symphony.  I auditioned for the chorus mainly to go sing there, and it definitely was worth it, but other than that, singing in a large group is really not my thing, so I only sang with them for one year.  The time commitment to sing in the chorus is pretty huge, and for the most part I have never stuck with one thing for multiple years — I get bored and want to move on.

I don’t like to travel, so I haven’t gone very far to sing — just Milwaukee and Indianapolis. In Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, I’ve sung at the Covington Basilica, Music Hall, the Music Hall ballroom, the Reds baseball stadium, Price Hill Chili (actually I only played piano there), Coney Island, and more churches than I can remember, though I will write about some of those.Unknown

Some other future topics — my 2 years in the Cincinnati Camerata (I auditioned on a dare), 4 years with a women’s chorale, Women in Song, directed by a former member of Chanticleer, playing in a contradance band, having my own bluegrass group, “Sheryl’s Front Porch Band”, and my ill-fated attempt at being a Sweet Adeline.  And there is Sacred Harp singing, which I did a lot for about ten years, and my current church substitute gigs.  I also did some gigs with Kenny Smith’s “Peace and Serenity” and one with the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus.  So, I get around!



Time for some cooking

Considering that I live alone and rarely entertain, I cook a lot.  When people say they don’t bother because they are single, and just get take out or frozen dinners, I think, “How pathetic is that?”  Like if you don’t have a partner, you’re not worth the effort.  And, there seems to be two camps of people — those who like to cook, and those who hate it.  My mother always cooked, though nothing fancy.  Baked chicken, spaghetti with meat sauce, started with a jar of commercial sauce but then “dressed up” some, steaks or chops on the grill with corn on the cob, things like that.  At college and grad school, it was all cafeteria food, and it was NOT good.  College kids today have NO idea — they have branded fast food, and custom kiosks — we had “mystery meat” and “meatless moussaka.”  And overcooked canned vegetables, and the best dessert was “zebra cake.”

So, when I got my first apartment, I knew I would do most of my own cooking.  It’s cheaper than prepared foods, and I can decide how much salt or seasonings I want.  I will buy the bags of flash-frozen vegetables — many of those are cheaper and fresher than buying them in the produce department and then steaming and freezing.  But I’ll also oven-roast and freeze peppers and root vegetables.  I make my own beef jerky — MUCH cheaper than buying it, and, I make it much less salty and then store in the fridge so it stays fresh.

I am not big on cookbooks.  I have about half a dozen — the only two I really use are an old edition of “The joy of cooking”, and, a beans and whole grains cookbook.  The others, I got for free at various times and I like them mainly for the photographs.  Between the internet and common sense, I don’t have much need for cookbooks.

I don’t do any bread or pastry baking.  I have a couple of friends who are great at that, but, I’m satisfied with the Kroger Select brand of breads, and the last thing I need is any tempting cookies or cakes around the house.  I have TRIED to be vegetarian, and cutting down on meat is an ongoing goal, but, as a friend said to me, “maybe in a future life.”  Maybe because I was brought up on brisket, steak, and chicken, I feel HUNGRY all the time when I switch to beans, grains, and nuts.  Though I DO make a great beans and grains blend and I try to have meat only once a day.  But a good sausage still calls my name if I see it, so, I have not really reformed myself very much.

The photos here are fairly representative of what I do — I cook and freeze in batches, and I really like roasted vegetables as well as steamed green veggies, so, I make a bunch and freeze in glass jars.  The glass jars are really my secret — no freezer burn, even after six months.  And, I rarely break a jar — I cool to room temp and then freeze, and I thaw on half power for 3 minutes and then use in stir fry or in the toaster oven.  Glass jars are also great for freezing shrimp or fish, because then it won’t stink up the freezer at all.

I WILL buy some prepared foods.  I don’t make pizza from scratch — Michelina’s low-fat pizza snacks are one of my favorites, after I add sodium-free tomato paste, more cheese, and onions.  I like canned mackerel a lot, eaten out of the can with chopped onions — I have to share with my cat when I do that.  I will buy oven roasted chicken thighs, 99 cents each at Kroger, but, I really shouldn’t — I can roast boneless/skinless thighs for less money and less fat.  But sometimes convenience wins out.

I do keep cans of soup on hand for when I’m really rushed, or not feeling well, or just feeling lazy.  I make something that I call “soup plus” — generally a can of Progresso or Healthy Choice, or other decent brand of soup, and then I add a handful of vegetables, always some onion, and always some red pepper flakes.  If I’m making that for dinner and I’m not nursing a cold, I’ll add some more meat or some beans.

As for kitchenware, every time I’ve bought some fancy thing, such as a mandoline, I find I never use it.  I don’t have a blender or food processor.  I have some fairly good knives, and wood cutting boards, and that seems to be all I need. I do swear by the wood cutting boards — I just scrub them with hot water and I’ve never gotten food poisoning.  I would avoid plastic or glass cutting boards — it is much easier for your hand to slip and then you cut yourself.  I have to admit I use hybrid, no-sharpening knives — I know that real chefs use carbon steel knives that you sharpen, but, I am too careless and leave stuff sitting in the sink, so, I’m realistic and buy stainless steel knives.

As for the point of all of this episode, my bottom line is — do some cooking!  Especially if you live alone!  Are you not worth having fresh-cooked food?  I think you are.

Living in the lap of Luxury

Before I even beginning considering the topic of “luxury”, let me say that I am coming from a totally “first world” perspective.  I have never known any real deprivation.  I grew up middle-class, leaning just slightly towards what was upper middle class — I don’t think my father ever made a 6-figure income, but, we could afford piano lessons, 2 cars, summer weekend vacations in Michigan, and lamb chops for special occasions.  So, I am not in any way making a statement about other cultures, or reflecting on what it might be like to not have a roof over my head, or any of those really serious topics.

No, this is more of a “fluff” piece about what I personally consider luxury to be.  If you read the posting about my first and only apartment, you know that I did not consider it to be luxury living — no parking, no laundry in the building, no central air, and, though I didn’t mention it before, almost no storage space — one closet and a small kitchen pantry.

Within an hour’s drive or so, I have several relatives whose homes make mine look a bit like a hovel.  Most of them have never even been to my house, mainly because I don’t have room to host everyone for a family event — generally at least 20 people — but, I suspect that a couple of them would actually snicker and make some snide remarks after the fact, because their places are newer, bigger, and not decorated in the “shabby chic” style of mine.  But, when you get down to it,  my place is just as comfy, and, since I live alone, one bathroom is all I can use at one time, anyway!

When I started house-hunting, I was quite methodical, as librarians tend to be.  It was still the pre-tablet / laptop era, so, I made a mimeographed sheet to take to every house I looked at, and, I looked at a LOT, usually on open house days rather than with an agent.  I had three requirements — a garage, a first floor bathroom, and either central air or forced air heat, where it would be fairly affordable to put in central air.  I really wanted a brick house, too, but it ended up the little house of my dreams, meeting the other 3 requirements, was aluminum siding over wood, so, I gave in on that.

My number one little luxury is the ATTACHED garage — an add-on sometime in the 1950s, on the side of the house, but with a door directly into the basement.  No carrying groceries or anything else out in the rain.  It is small — small enough that I can’t accumulate any clutter in it.  My father put in a set of 2 shelves of cinder block and plywood at the far wall, where I can keep some yard stuff, but beyond that, there is only room for the car.  Every time I’ve bought a car, on the test drive I’ve driven to my house to be sure it will fit in the garage — that is how small it is.

My number two luxury, I should have done WAY sooner — a garage door OPENER.  I lived without one for about 15 years because I would have had to get a whole new door, which I should have done BEFORE it fell apart on me, but I didn’t, and fortunately it fell apart and brought down the metal rails when I was in the driveway and not in the garage, or, I might not be alive to write this now.  So when the door and rails were replaced, I got an electric opener.  The big benefit of this is, when there is snow or ice on the driveway, if I open the door from out in the street and get a good start, I can finesse the car into the garage over just about anything.  It is a bit hard to believe that for the first 15 years I lived here, I did NOT have an opener, so, I’d have to stop in the driveway, get out, open the garage door, and hope I wasn’t stuck with the wheels spinning, which unfortunately I was way too often during some bad winters.  Then the car was out in the driveway, with a tarp over the windows, held down by tubs of kitty litter.  I don’t know why I thought it would probably cost something like eleventy gazillion dollars to replace the door and rails so that I could have an opener — the upside is, I appreciate it every time I don’t get stuck in the driveway.

My number three luxury is a space heater in the bathroom.  Not one that is built in or anything.  The bathtub / shower is on an outside wall, so, a bit CHILLY in winter.  I’m pretty sure I got the heater at Walgreen’s — 2 heat settings with a fan, not one of those silent, radiant ones — and I can’t even remember how many years I’ve had it, but, it still works — I heat up the room for about 5 minutes before I go in for a shower — since my bathroom is small, it doesn’t take long to warm it up.

My number four luxury is, at the grocery, I can buy whatever I want.  It doesn’t matter if it’s not on sale, though because of my frugal nature, most likely it IS on sale.  And, that’s really where the luxury aspect comes in.  I don’t know if they bring in clearance items to my particular Kroger store, or, if they just overstock there, but, on Sunday and Monday, there are often great clearance buys, I suppose in preparation for fresh items that arrive on Monday.  Quite often I buy a $12.99 vegetable tray for $5, and what I can’t use I steam and freeze.  “Baby bella” mushrooms are a good bet on clearance — maybe people where I live think they aren’t good because they are dark brown.  I am big on “cook and freeze”, so, it’s not a problem for me if something is going to expire the next day — I take it home and cook it right away and freeze it.  My BIGGEST bargain recently was on rock shrimp, which are HUGE shrimp, almost like lobster, usually $14.99 per pound, so, of course I would NEVER buy them, but, several packages all reduced to $5.99 a pound, so, I bought 3 pounds and oven roasted them and ate some and froze some.

I’ll end with number five, no need to avoid phone calls in case they are debt collectors, or companies I haven’t paid, because I always pay everything on time.  Recently there was something else that I was afraid I was going to result in an unpleasant phone call, so, for a couple of weeks I wouldn’t answer unless I could see the caller ID and also figure out exactly who it was.  It would be very stressful to constantly have to worry about who it is on the other end, and I’ve read enough horror stories about nasty debt collectors that I’m relieved that I don’t have that problem in life.  I never did get the possible unpleasant call, but it definitely preoccupied me at the time.

As you can see, my cat is quite happy with my thrift store furnishings, too.  So there you have it — it actually doesn’t take all that much to make me happy! IMG_6375

My first apartment

I could also have titled this “My last apartment”, because I only lived in one, for about 5 years back in the 1980s, and I loved apartment living SOOOO much (catch that sarcasm?) that I got out of the apartment lifestyle as soon as I could afford it.

Other than 5 years living in dorms during undergrad and grad school, I lived with my parents until I was 24.  I came back from grad school to a tight job market, so I was a Kelly Girl for a while, back when they still called them that.  Then I had a couple of short-term jobs that I really hated, and  then I finally got something that seemed like it would last.  So, once I passed my one-year probation, I was eager to get out on my own.

I knew I wanted to live in Clifton, which is a fairly hip, walkable part of Cincinnati, and, with frequent bus service to downtown, where I was working.  My budget wasn’t huge, so, I was looking at older one-bedroom apartments.  One that I thought was really cute was in the Roanoke building, one huge room, with a makeshift bathroom in the center, surrounded by somewhat temporary walls.  But, it was on the first floor, with a porch and large windows right at street level, which my mother thought was not very good for security, and, we saw a couple of roaches just in the short time we were in there, so, I didn’t take it.  That building has now been totally renovated and probably is a lot nicer than it was back then.

I ended up in a 3rd floor walk-up in the Tudor Court complex, across from the Roanoke.  No parking, so I was paying to park behind a store a block away.  My parallel parking skills are definitely not up to dealing with parking on the street in Clifton, so, I had to have the rented space.  The steam radiators banged and clanged like crazy, and they couldn’t be turned all the way off, so I would often have to open the windows in winter if I didn’t want it to be 80 degrees or more in there.  I felt bad about wasting energy, but the landlord told me there was nothing he could do about the heat — I was on the top floor, and it had to be cranked up that much for the lower floors to be warm enough.

It was VERY hot in the summer — I had one window unit and lived mainly in that room for 3 months out of the year.  One summer, when it literally went up to 105 several days in a row, I had to move back in with Mom and Dad for about a week.  While I had no roommate, I wasn’t QUITE alone — it ends up there was a family of raccoons living in the attic, and they would run around at night and keep me awake.  That was another thing the landlord said he couldn’t do anything about.  I could chase them away temporarily by banging on the ceiling with a broom handle, but they generally came back the next day.

Banging with the broom handle also came in handy to get the guy next door to me to turn down his music.  He was a night nurse, and he seemed to think it was totally fine to come home at 4 a.m. and do his vacuuming, and crank up the music so he could hear it over the vacuum.  He, on the other hand, would sleep during the day due to his job, and he really hated the banjo and he’d bang on the wall on weekend afternoons if I was playing and he wanted to sleep.  So, we were not exactly the best of friends …..

I also shared the place with a LOT of cockroaches, who all managed to stay hidden when I looked at the place.  I put boric acid all around, but I knew if I had to go to the bathroom at night, I should turn on the light in there but not go in for a few minutes, so the roaches could go back behind the wall.  The exterminator came 3 or 4 times a year to spray all the apartments for bugs, and it would smell like chemicals for a week after that, but, it didn’t seem to cut down at all on the roach population.  It’s a good thing that bedbugs weren’t a problem back then, or I’m sure we would have had them.

There are security doors at the complex now, but when I lived there, the doors to each building were never locked, and, the laundry room wasn’t, either.  I had to go outside to get to the laundry room in the basement next door, which I would sometimes do in my pajamas.  There was a manager’s office off the laundry room, and I found that all the master keys were in there in a cabinet —— which was not locked, either.  I’m sure that’s not the case now, but it did make me start wondering how safe it was there, though nothing ever happened.

I liked the neighborhood a lot, and it was convenient that there was a small grocery store two blocks away, so I didn’t need to take the car — I had one of those 2-wheeled carts, which did limit how much I could buy at one time.  I was getting fed up with the raccoons and the bugs, and finally the last straw was when a problem couple moved into the apartment below me.  They would fight and scream at each other daily, and sometimes I could hear the guy slamming the woman into the wall, at which point I would call the police.  I started keeping a loaded rifle near my door, since I was sure the guy knew I was the one calling the police.  The second time they took him away in handcuffs, I thought maybe I needed to move to a little bit nicer of a place.

I think I was paying about $385 a month at that point, which included everything except electric, and after 5 years on the job, I thought I probably could afford about $600 a month.  The nicer 2-bedroom apartments around there were that much or a little more, and I found I could buy a HOUSE for that monthly payment.  Not in Clifton, where even back then, houses were pricey unless they were real dumps.  And, I looked at a lot of real dumps until I realized I wouldn’t be able to buy around there, and I started looking on the west side, where NICE houses were going for an amount I could afford.  After a LOT of looking and going to open houses (there were no online listings yet), I bought a 3-bedroom house in Covedale for my 30th birthday.  I still live in it now.  And, I did not bring any of those cockroaches with me.

GPS is great for the directionally challenged

I’m old enough to remember when maps were carved on cuneiform tablets.  OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but, I do remember ordering a Triptik, and trying to deal with a big sheet map in the car.

I never really thought about getting GPS.  I generally go to the same places all the time, and, I’m good with a map, so I didn’t see much need.  But, my brother gave my parents a Garmin GPS, which they never used, or, even learned how to use.  So, they regifted it to me, quite a number of years ago, before people had GPS on their phones.

I was surprised to find that GPS comes in quite handy, even if I think I know exactly how to get where I’m going.  I’m often alone in the car, so, I don’t have a companion to deal with the map while I concentrate on driving.  So, getting seriously off track required pulling over, figuring out where I actually am at the moment, and finding that on the map, in order to get re-oriented.  My sense of direction is not very good, so, once I get turned around or in an unfamiliar area, I definitely could drive many miles in the wrong direction without realizing it.  And then there are the occasional detours where I don’t know the side streets.

I’m on my 2nd Garmin now — the first one kept telling me I needed to update the maps, but when I finally obeyed and did that, the whole thing totally froze up and I couldn’t use it at all.  Garmin was very accommodating about it — they had me try several things while I was on the phone with them, and when nothing worked, they offered me a brand new one for half price if I would send them the old one, so that’s what I did.

I’ve had friends say that GPS doesn’t work for them, or takes them on weird routes, so, they never use it.  One time I did end up on some incredibly narrow back roads that ran parallel to the nice, smooth larger road.  I looked into my settings and found it was set for fewest street miles rather than most direct route.  Once I changed that, it generally keeps me on the major roads.  An unusual feature that I use is avoiding all freeways.  I don’t drive on the interstates (that’s a topic for a whole other blog entry), and the GPS (as well as Google maps) has the option to avoid them.  Unfortunately one of my LEAST favorite roads, Columbia Parkway, is not considered a freeway by the GPS, so, if I’m going to a location anywhere near Columbia Parkway, I take a look at the GPS screen and make sure it’s not going to put me on there.

I still almost always have a paper map as well.  I never trust any technology to work all the time.  Now that I can print a Google map on a standard sheet of paper, sometimes I sketch the building, or make notes of things nearby.  I have a folder of those in alphabetical order so I don’t keep reprinting the same thing (that’s my librarian nature.)  I used to have a book map of Hamilton County, which finally was so out of date that I got rid of it, but I still have a folded Cincinnati area sheet map in the pocket of the car door.

There were a few times pre-GPS that I took what was for me a major road trip, including a couple of trips to Cleveland (try THAT without going on the interstate), and to a friend’s farm in Indiana.  On several occasions I made a cassette tape of directions to play in the car.  I recorded each instruction three times, such as “go about 15 miles on route 68.  When you pass rt. 36, take the 3rd left on Main Street.”  Other than the annoyance of needing to keep turning the tape player on and off, this was surprisingly satisfactory, compared to having to pull over all the time, try to read directions while driving, or memorize the entire route.  I went to the farm in Indiana enough times that eventually I didn’t need any help to get there.  If I would ever drive to Cleveland again, I’d just use maps and the GPS.  I finally threw out my tapes of directions, because my current car doesn’t have a cassette deck, and I didn’t think they would be useful enough in the future that I wanted to transfer them to CD.

Both the GPS and the cell phone do give me more confidence to go to new places, or to be out on the road after dark.  The ability to call for help from the car cuts down on the worry about “what would I do” if the car broke down, or I suddenly didn’t feel well, and I wasn’t near a business that was open.  I’ve pulled out the GPS and had it “go home” several times after dark when something such as a fire or accident caused a detour that was not marked with any signs.

I may seem overly cautious, but being out alone, it wouldn’t take that much for some inconvenient situation to become dangerous, so, I’d rather be overly prepared rather than the opposite.

Late 20th century Technology

Photo on 10-2-17 at 9.52 PMPeople who know me have teased me about my reluctance to adopt new technology.  I’ve titled this “Late 20th century technology” rather than 21st century, because even with my recent upgrades, I am probably still mainly back in the 20th century.

I finally got a flat screen TV in 2016, when my new cable provider’s onscreen program guide could barely be seen on my 13″ TV.  So, I went out TV shopping, planning on buying a 24 or 28″ flat screen.   Ends up a 36″ was CHEAPER, and offered MANY more model choices, so, I went with that.  It took a while to get used to seeing everyone on TV being so much larger.  No wonder they wear a lot of makeup just to deliver the news.  My cat was not very happy about losing the warm spot to nap on top of the 13″ TV.

I don’t have a smart phone.  For about 20 years, I had a lifetime cell contract with Verizon for $9.99 a month for my flip phone, but, zero free minutes — each minute was about 30 cents.  Since I only used it for emergencies, such as calling to say I was running late due to traffic, or, because I was lost and needed directions, it served my needs.  Though with all the fees, it really was $12 a month.  I finally upgraded to $30 a month with unlimited domestic calling and texts, when I was attending a large convention with 3 friends, and we would be contacting each other all week via cell phone and texts.  It’s not easy to text on a flip phone, but, it can be done.

Now I’m back to barely using it, but of course I can’t go back to my old contract, which I knew would be the case.  Someone recently told me that soon my flip phone will not be supported on the current cell phone towers, and at that point I’ll probably look for a cheap smart phone and plan — there are always a few cheap plans on almost anything, for people who don’t care if they only get the basics.  When I see people my own age who seem to be addicted to looking at their smart phones at all times, I don’t want to fall into that trap.  Half the time I don’t even remember to take my flip phone with me — I had to borrow someone’s phone in a convenience store to call when I couldn’t find a particular building, because I didn’t have my own phone with me.

I recently got a new furnace and central air system put in, and one of the “features” is that I can set up the thermostat so that I can control it via the internet or via smart phone, from any location.  I already have it programmed for the various times of day, and considering that I only leave town about once every three years, I can’t imagine why I’d need to control it from other locations.  I would have to activate that feature first, and when I asked the installer if that would then make it possible for someone with a smart phone to hack into my thermostat, he said theoretically it was possible, but, why would anyone do that?  Well, why do hackers do much of anything that they do, other than to bother other people and show that they can do it?  I can imagine coming home and it’s either 90 degrees or freezing in my house.  Needless to say, I didn’t activate the remote features.

I DO like a few technological improvements.  I finally got an automatic garage door opener when I replaced the door and rails — should have done that a LOT sooner.  It was complicated a bit because the walls and roof of the garage are all concrete, and the clearances were small, so, it cost a little more than average.  I really like my DVR, though I’m sure I watch more TV because of it.  If I had to sit through all the commercials, I might not even watch TV at all, other than PBS.  Often I can watch an hour show in 40 minutes once I fast-forward through the commercials and promos.  I used to use a VCR to do the same, and I was quite good at programming it to record shows and I rarely messed up doing that.  But, that led to VHS tapes all over the place, with notes about what was on them and what I had watched and what I hadn’t.

When VHS started to disappear, I had 112 tapes with contents listings, and a name and subject index to all of them.  At first I thought I’d buy one of those converters and put them all on DVD, but in looking through the contents, I realized that I felt like I could part with all but about 20, so, I waited for a good deal and sent the 20 away to be put on DVD — things with me or my friends from the TV news, my brother’s wedding, and some compilations of clips of things I particularly like to watch.  The vast majority of the rest, I could now find the same thing or something close enough on Youtube.  So, I did throw out ALL of the VHS tapes, and eventually gave away my GoVideo double VHS deck.

My FAVORITE technological upgrade is digital sound recording.  Music has always been my avocation, though never my full-time vocation.  My first recordings were on a “toy” reel-to-reel machine ; then cassette — my mother spent every choir and other performance of mine holding the microphone and cassette recorder out in the audience. In college we still got a cassette of our recital performances, and I would record other things on my own.  At first, digital recording, and producing CDs, was expensive, and you couldn’t burn CDs at home unless you had professional level equipment, so, I didn’t get into it right away and was still using cassettes when most people had moved on.

Eventually I bought a cassette to CD component for my stereo, and I converted everything I had from elementary school (I DID have some!), high school, and college — that filled about 30 CDs.  I still have hundreds of cassettes, all indexed, and I may digitize some more, but somehow as I’ve gotten older, saving every performance I or my friends ever did doesn’t seem that important — no one will want to inherit those or ever listen to them, and I don’t really want to hear most of it, either.  An odd thing that has come of my tendency to record everything is that I have performances of quite a few friends who have since died.  I don’t listen to those either, but I did put them on CD.

I now have a “Zoom 1” digital recorder — actually 2 of them, because they are often on sale now, and that makes me think they are going to ditch it for a new and improved model, and I really like that model and how it interfaces with my laptop.  I also have a little cassette to MP3 machine that plugs right into my laptop via USB.  So, I can convert to digital and burn CDs for just the cost of blank discs.  My various recorders and players run on 1 or 2 AA batteries, and the “new generation” of rechargeables from Eneloop are really great for this — they can be recharged about 1,000 times (or so the packaging says), and they don’t have a “memory” of how much charge was left, so, they don’t have to be run down to zero before recharging, and one AA will run my recorder for about 6 hours. So — I rarely have to put any batteries in the landfill, even though I use these devices quite a lot.  Most all my musician friends are used to seeing me with the recorder, sometimes hiding it somewhere out in the audience, such as in the manger scene at a Christmas concert.

So, there you have a summary of my relationship with technology.  I’m still not happy that they don’t make a new car with manual door lock buttons.  The dealer asked why I would want those, and I said I was concerned that the electronic ones would not function if I accidentally drove into the Ohio River, and then I wouldn’t be able to get out of the car.  I don’t know why he thought there was anything strange about that!

Welcome to my blog.

Hi — welcome to my blog.  I’ve been thinking for a while that I post too much stuff on Facebook, so, I decided to start a blog so I can share my thoughts on various topics in more depth.  I’m afraid that over half of my Facebook friends have unfollowed me because they don’t CARE what I think about every day or about every topic.  So, I’m going to move some of that over here, and hopefully my tags will attract some readers who are not my personal friends.

That’s about all for today — topics I may write about in the future are —- TV shows ; local music scene ; my personal experiences as a musician ; a lifetime as a librarian ; why people are such jerks ; why I’m so sensitive to people who are jerks.  And much more!  Especially if you suggest some topics for me.