I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

February 25, 2012 - 11:53 a.m.

I Write The Songs Only I Sing

I slept till after nine again today. This is becoming a habit. This time it was because some idiot honked his horn in the middle of the night and woke me up. Then I got hungry and couldn't get right back to sleep.

Class is still frustrating and I'm acting frustrated. I am using the stick too much not the carrot. My basic plan for teaching is to love the material and to hope that they catch my enthusiasm. That isn't planned. It isn't something I try and do. It is something I can't help but do. It works for some of them. I have had students come up to me after class and tell me how much they like the way I teach. The problem is that some don't enjoy the material and resent anyone that does. I can never get the resistance to learning the quadratic and cubic identities. They are five simple formulae that they could learn in 15 minutes if they sat down and tried. They used these formulae constantly. It is an exact analogue of learning the multiplication table instead of doing multiplication by repeated addition. I gave two quizzes on in this week. One involved just memorizing the formulae and the other using them. So many students clearly made no effort to learn them even though they knew they'd be quizzed on it.

The rest of class went pretty well though. At least I completed the material I wanted to cover and they were able to do the problems in class.

The best thing in class was the pants one student was wearing. I guess technically they were leggings. No I have no become a fashionista. No I am not being creepy and staring at a girl's tight clothing. What made them great is that there was an actual astronomical photo printed on them. It looked like a nebula and surrounding star field. I bet it was from the Hubble Space Telescope. The pants are so wonderfully nerdy! If I were a girl that could get away with wearing skin tight pants I'd totally be wearing them. I wish Julius could have seen them. He teaches astronomy and he'd love them. She told me the website where she found it but I don't write it down. They looked something like this.


They make nerd ties. Is it worth wearing ties just to be nerdy? Maybe I'll start wearing my nerd t-shirts to class. I have plenty of those.

After class I wanted to go straight home but was tired and sat down for a while in my office. I couldn't get up for hours. On the bright side I got some school work done. I've been extra good about that this semester. I printed out a list of the topics I have to put on the test I'm giving next week. If I'm good I'll write the test this weekend. If I'm really good I'll write a practice test too. I know that I don't believe in giving practice tests and study sheets but I need to do something to win over this class. That's more important at the moment then teaching them to be self-reliant.

I was supposed to see the wonderful Alfa last night. Since she moved to LA I hardly get to see her. I faced reality and realized I was too tired. I hate admitting that but it was true. I know I would have enjoyed myself at the show. Just talking to Alfa makes me feel good but by the time I got home I'd have paid for it. People always comment on how much energy I have to go to so many shows and I know I do. Part of it is the feeling of missing a special time but I can't go out every night.

The upside of coming home of course is a home cooked meal. And yes I love that I enjoy cooking at home more than I enjoy eating out. Cooking is a pleasure and so is eating what I cook. Yesterday I made a hamburger, not too exciting; so I spruced it up. I served it on a brioche roll that I turned into garlic cheese bread. I have not been making enough garlic bread so it was extra appreciated. I tried something new with the baked plantain too. I added olive oil to the honey-soy sauce mixture I pour on top of it. That did make it better. It needed some fat and olive oil made it healthy fat.

When I got home I found at my door a package from Amazon, Berklee Music Theory Book 1 (Book/Cd) 2nd Edition [Paperback] by Paul Schmeling. I have been asking people to recommend a music theory book to me for ages and nobody came up with anything. Then when I saw Red Molly last week Abbie Gardner on her own said that she just finished the second volume and how great the books were. That was enough. I went and bought the first volume. I know that I don't always follow through on things. That is why I didn't buy the second. I hope I have the staying power to get through them and do all the problems. I'm not like my students. I know that doing the problems is where you learn the most.

I learned some music theory back in middle school and high school when I was taking accordion and violin lessons. I've picked up more since then but I have no formal training. I want formal training. I want to understand chord progressions. I want to understand how to put chords to a melody. I know the way my mind works. It will help me appreciate the music I hear more. It isn't just that though. I want to write songs. It's tough because I can't sing or play an instrument well enough but I have the songwriting bug. I write snippets of songs all the time. Hardly a day goes by that a melody doesn't come into my head. Most aren't good but a few are. They do tend to be catchy, at least to my ear. As to genre, they are all over the place. I never say, "I want to write a melody." I just find myself humming it or just hearing it in my head. Sometimes they are almost nothing to do with what I usually listen to. I hummed a minuet the other day. Where did that come from? The thing is that they are snippets. I hardly ever develop them into songs. That's what I need to learn how to do. Then I need to find a way to transcribe them into a form that other people can hear. I've tried having people put their ear next to my head but they still can't hear the melody bouncing around inside it. Right now the only thing I can do is call Carey and sing it to her and have her sing it properly. She can translate Gordondon into English and Gordondonsinging into music. It really comes down to that I'm not embarrassed to have her hear me sing. She's heard it so many times. And of course we did write the greatest song ever written. I'm trying to get my nerve up to sing for one of my local musician friends and have him or her help me transcribe it and put chords to the melody and lyrics I have written. I do have a few complete songs.

My dream is to get a keyboard that I can attach to my computer and have that transcribe things for me. Yes I can write music so if I had a keyboard I could figure out the actual notes and write it out but writing things is always difficult for me. I started the Berklee book and the one thing that I'm stuck on is drawing a quarter rest.

I have had friends that say they want to write songs but when I talk to them I discover that what they really want is to want to write songs. They don't try to write songs at all. It's like me saying I want to be a painter. I don't even paint badly. I just don't paint. I don't have ideas on what to paint. I have no visual artistic vision. I know that. I do have musical artistic vision. It might not be good. It might be terrible. But at least there is something to work on and develop.

Will learning music theory help me? I think so. I've read enough about other people's experiences to see how it can be a guide. It can impose disciple. And of course it's math. Music theory can be considered a branch of mathematics. When I've studied enough to know that I'm not fooling myself I'll write about it.

So now I've managed to write 1501 words on a day that I didn't do anything. I just remember that was something else I planned on writing about. In the age of 140 character messaged I write longer and longer essays. I'll save that for another time. And how do I usually finish my entries? Let's see if you have been paying attention. That's right, saying what I'm having for breakfast. Today an omelet is on the menu. I haven't decided if it will be ham or sausage with pepper jack cheese.






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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Horvendile February 25, 2012
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