red echo

A web journal by Mars Saxman: my life, reflected and filtered

November entries

Archived Entries for October, 2004

October 30, 2004

Martin (with guitar), Andrew, Joanna, Abigail

Mom, Jeanine, Joanna

Dad & Julia

Me and Joanna

Andrew and his girlfriend Chanel

Jeanine as "the sun"

Joanna as "a hippie"

Me with Timothy on my shoulders and Abigail climbing up

October 28, 2004

Second singing lesson: wow, I can really do this, and it even feels good. I'm not actually singing anything yet, of course - just running through vocal exercises - but I am in no particular hurry, and it's nice to feel like I'm actually learning the fundamentals.

October 23, 2004

Denny & Boylston: Elmo

October 21, 2004

First voice lesson today. This was mostly a getting-to-know-you session; we spent half an hour talking about our musical backgrounds and my hard-to-explain singing experience, then spent the rest of the hour working on simple vocal exercises. I have a better range than I thought - two octaves, and she thinks with practice I will have three - and a good strong sense of pitch, thanks most likely to my parents' insistence that we all learn to sing harmonies when I was a kid. Still, I clearly have a lot to learn about controlling my breathing, and I could use a lot of work on hearing music instead of always reading it.

Evening I spent in Kevin & Chandra's basement bedroom suite helping paint the walls red. I love it when people do bold unusual things with their decor; the red isn't quite dark enough for their curtains and bedspread, but it's a good start. They have an interesting little place; Kevin described it as the sort of house he would build - not that it's the kind of house he would want to build, exactly, but it feels like it was put together by someone who was figuring out what they were doing as they went along. There are lots of odd angles and curious little design misfeatures and things that were adapted imperfectly to some other use, and the whole thing is perfectly charming. It will be a great place for their due-next-month kid to grow up in.

Working on their basement made me want to paint my own place. Alas, the cream color that came with my apartment is perfectly lovely and suits the space and my decor perfectly, so I really have no good reason to tinker with it. There is a sort of wainscot design in the bathroom, though, which might look well in a deep red...

October 20, 2004

Today was my first guitar lesson, and it started off well. My teacher Greg is a little odd, but obviously competent, and seems to have a sound teaching style. He pointed out some problems with my technique and suggested a few drills to improve picking style and fretboard coordination. Apparently I've been holding the guitar neck all wrong, and the pick is supposed to be played with the side of the thumb instead of the tip - this is exactly the sort of thing I would never have figured out on my own.

I was also extremely pleased to see that Greg has the same odd crooked-pinky gene as I do - I've had a little fear that I am doomed to suck at the guitar because my pinky curves inward, sliding up the fretboard and losing reach when I bend it. Apparently this is not the impediment I thought it was, or at least it can be overcome with practice, because it doesn't seem to hurt his playing any.

October 17, 2004

No, really. My apartment came that way, honest.

October 16, 2004

Paul Furio decided to sell off some of his stage gear, and I picked up a little laser gadget that will play into my LAVI project for Burning Man 2005 somehow. It's built according to the same basic idea as the Laser Vibe box I talked about a few weeks ago, but seems less audio-reactive - at least, I can't seem to get it to respond to sound in any particularly visible way. It still does a decent job of simple lissajous patterns, though, so I'm sure I can find something interesting to do with it.

October 14, 2004

Yahoo Travel map of New Zealand

Rules for busking in Wellington

Directory of hostels in various NZ cities

Christchurch is the jump-off point for Antarctic exploration

Sea kayaking tours around Tasmania

Mapquest has a very limited view of Auckland; nzmaps has one that's much more detailed but kind of hard to navigate. Look at all that water - Auckland is as coastline-bound as Seattle.

The Eyre Highway runs from Adelaide to Perth along the southern coast of Australia, paralleling the Great Australian Bight around the legendarily flat, desolate Nullarbor Plain. It is apparently one of the only direct road links between West Australia and the more populous eastern half of the continent.

4x4 treks along the Great Australian Bight

October 12, 2004

I decided it was time to get serious about this guitar-playing business and signed up for lessons, starting next week. I was pretty much completely non-scientific about it and just called the first number I found on craigslist - but at least I got it done, instead of dawdling around for a month doing "research". I have no problem with the music theory, but I don't know how to practice in order to actually acquire proficiency with the instrument. It will be nice to have a teacher who can suggest practice exercises and give me realistic feedback about my progress.

October 9, 2004

The apartment managers saw fit to replace my old refrigerator yesterday. It made a loud whining noise when its compressor ran, never kept food as cold as one expects a refrigerator to do, and iced its freezer door completely shut while I was off in the Nevada desert, so I was happy to see it go. The new refrigerator, while free of those defects, turned out to be a hulking white beast that occupies what feels like half of my kitchen, and thus I am less than perfectly satisfied with the results of the swap. True, it has separate doors for the freezer and refrigerator compartments (o! the marvels of modern technology!), but all the extra capacity seems to have been allocated to the freezer - the refrigerator itself can't hold any more than my old one did. Great, now I can keep twice as much ice, vodka, and ice cream on hand - that's exactly what I needed.

On the other hand, maybe my wine bottles and vases won't hurl themselves off the precipice and burst all over the floor anymore.

October 3, 2004

Looks like someone has already developed the core technology behind one of my ideas for a Burning Man project: the urballoon suspends a video projector three stories in the air, pointed straight down at the ground. Their focus is somewhat different; it's designed to be located in busy public spaces, and to display images and pictures sent by random net users. My idea was a little more tactile: I wanted people to walk into a pyramidal volume of light, a semi-transparent structure filled with shifting, swirling beams; but the hardware is the same either way. I wonder if the inventor would be willing to share design information?

September entries


photo © 2001 Stacie Mayes