Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Balmorhea: Traditional Instruments making Ambient Music

Balmorhea is another gem of a band I stumbled upon thanks to that massive torrent of music made available by the South by Southwest folks. I like playing minimalist/ambient music when I’m working on other things. Unique harmonies can set a mood and simple melodies can enhance it; without too much to distract and especially without words, music can be one of the best mind-altering cognitive enhancers there is.

Often I fill this need with electronic music, provided the beat isn’t too heavy and the “instrumentation” too “experimental”. Orchestral stuff can work too—some of Phillip Glass’s less obtrusive stuff is brilliant. And of course keyboards. Glenn Gould playing Bach is about the most exquisite background music there is. But until now I’ve never found this same satisfaction from plucked and bowed strings. But this combination of sparely plucked banjos over haunting strings is brilliant.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Agent Ribbons Reporting Typewriter Sighting

Many thanks to Eclectic Ephemera for the Antique Pop post with the links to some new renditions of vintage music. As a result, The Wife and I have found some new things to enjoy. (And that’s what this whole internet-community-typosphere-vintage-gabfest is all about, isn’t it?)

Here’s another music video, with a typewriter sighting! Agent Ribbons has a great 1960s vintage glam-rock feel to it, and I love the style, energy, and sheer joy of these girls. Plus, did I mention there are typewriters in it (briefly, at 3:10).

I wonder what town this is?

I stumbled across Agent Ribbons in the massive torrent of music made available by the South by Southwest folks, and the sound struck me as intriguing enough to follow it up with a visit to Youtube.

There’s over 45 GB of freely available music behind that link, by the way. Turns out lots of artists want you to share their material via BitTorrent. I can’t say I like every one of the songs I’ve heard, but with 9000 songs to choose from I’m bound to find a decent measure of bliss.

Musicians wanting to be heard, who would have thought of that? Turns out file-sharing isn’t just for pirates and scofflaws after all.

Why not fire up the BitTorrent client of your choice and join me?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sharpened, Cut, Split, Stacked

I finally got that chainsaw blade sharpened. Turned out it was easier than I expected. A little round file, fits right in the groove, ten or twenty strokes and you can see a new edge shining. The chain for the 16” bar on my Remington Electric Chainsaw had about 20 teeth to sharpen, so I was done in half an hour. And the instructions for doing this were on the back of a package of chainsaw-blade sharpening files, available from Harbor Freight for $6.99.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you read the directions.


Thus armed, I was able to chop up that tree-top that fell during the winter storm. Thank God for that sharp blade. The tree turned out to be about 20” in diameter near the break, so that I had to come at it from one side, roll it over, and then cut again. Locust wood is remarkably hard, but the saw made its way through steady diligence.

Fortunately the wood is as brittle as it is hard, which makes chopping it much easier than I expected. My mother has an electric splitter at her place, but so long as I was having luck it seemed more satisfying to do it the old-fashioned way, swinging a maul.

TrimmedTree A few days later (today) I took down a few branches that The Wife has wanted cleared out of the way. Four from a massive maple tree in the back yard, and the bottom branch from another locust out front. This last I was a little nervous about, as the tree is close to the main street’s power lines, and our house service passes through some of the upper branches. But after a great deal of care, inspection, consideration, and planning, I was confident that this one would fall clear of all wires and went ahead, notching the bottom of the branch first so that it could make a clean fall straight down.


Should have taken more pictures of the process, but I’m awful about taking time out for photography once I’m on a task, so my pictures are usually results-only.


So, there will be a little more sun falling on the garden out front this year, and we’ll have a much brighter back yard as well. Plus, all of this fallen timber has come to well over half a cord so far, which means we’ve saved about $200 on next winter’s heating costs. I got the locust all stacked up for curing (although I understand that it doesn’t require much) and the Maple will follow shortly.

It’s hard work and my back is sore, but there are few tasks out there more satisfying. And I’m sure I’ll be sleeping well tonight.