Category Archive: Other Stuff

Other Stuff

Finding a Book

As I said in my previous posts, I’ve decided to learn to play the bass.  With my background, I want to learn it “right”.  Meaning I want to actually learn how to play the bass, not just learn songs.  While it seems everyone learns everything these days by watching some Youtube videos, I can’t learn from videos.  My brain just works better when I read.  Also, I really want to learn to play bass, not just learn some songs.  I want to learn the notes and proper fingering and all the things it seems you don’t get in a Youtube video.  So I needed a book.  Once again, I turned to Amazon.  I ordered the Hal Leonard Bass Method “Complete Edition”, which is books 1, 2, and 3.  It’s a spiral bound book, which is a small detail, but lays open nicely while trying to read it and play the bass.

It’s exactly what I wanted.  It’s got all the basics, starting you out with open string notes, and then adding a few notes at a time.  Short “songs” to practice the notes you just learned.  It may be a bit boring, but I’m actually learning the notes and proper fingering.

Amusingly, the book came with CDs.  It struck me that I have no place to play them, other than my car.

In order to maintain my initial excitement, however, I did look up “easy bass guitar songs” and have learned the main riffs to Seven Nation Army* and Smoke on the Water.  Incidentally, learning a song from tabs goes against my every instinct in “properly” learning an instrument, but I can see how it’s tempting since it’s so fast to learn.

* While playing the “interim” bit between the  endlessly repetitive, but ever so catchy bit of Seven Nation Army, my 9-year-old son asked if I was playing Hot Cross Buns.  Sigh.  Everyone’s a critic.

Running Notes of a Different Kind – Part 3

As is my usual way, I went about selecting a bass all the wrong way.  (Spoiler alert: it turns out ok).

I’m sure anyone who actually plays bass (and all of the internet) will tell you to go to a reputable music store, preferably a non-chain store.  Well that’s all well and good, but I don’t really like people or interacting with them and there’s this awesome thing called Amazon which means with the click of a button I could have a bass delivered to my house within two days. Oh yeah, and it would be LEFT-HANDED. So I think you know what I chose.

The next decision was which one?  Of course, I could go cheap because I’m a beginner and who knows I could drop this thing like a bad habit in a couple of weeks, why spend a ton of money?  On the other hand, people will tell you to spend some money on a good instrument because it will be easier to learn to play.  Again, I probably made the decision that people will tell you not to do, I bought a cheap one.  Now it was on Amazon, so I made sure it was a well-rated bass, but I didn’t spend a lot.  I’m not some afficionado with a critical ear to how it will sound.  If I stick with it, maybe someday I can buy a more expensive instrument.  For now, I went with this.

It arrived two days later, much to my delight.  Now I just gotta learn how to play this thing…

Running Notes of a Different Kind – Part 2

Right, so we last left you on a heck of a cliffhanger, just how did she decide on the bass?

Well, I didn’t right away.  I liked the flute, but it’s REALLY hard to sing along when you play.  And since I like to sing, I kind of wanted to learn something I could sing with.  Ideally, I’d learn to play the piano.  I found a great app to help me learn piano, SimplyPiano.   It was featured in a Lifehacker article.  I like the app, with a mix of traditional songs and simplified pop songs.  It takes me back to basics and is somewhat “gamified” to keep me interested.  But, the piano is in the basement.  The basement isn’t heated.  Therefore it’s really hard to get motivated to go downstairs when it’s super cold.  Additionally, my kids like to sleep in the room where the piano is on weekends, so that was cutting into my practice time.  Plus, I just find piano really f-ing hard.  My brain doesn’t like to do two completely different things with my right and left hands, especially in different rhythms.

Guitar would be great.  But in my one act of girlishness, I just refuse to cut my fingernails.  Plus the guitar we have is right-handed and I’m left-handed.

So.  I’ve always thought bass players had a certain coolness about them.  And chick bass players?  FORGET ABOUT IT, they’re the coolest.  And you know, as a 42-year-old suburban mother of two, I’m just oozing with cool.  (Maybe I’ll start a band and name it “mom jeans”).  A couple of weekends ago I saw a band play and we were joking about band members and their personalities and anyway, I just wanted to play bass.  So that’s how I decided I wanted to play bass.  Very scientific reasoning, eh?

Running Notes of a Different Kind – Part 1

So I’m learning to play bass.  And yes, I’m probably gonna post about it like I’m the only person on earth ever to have done so.  If you play, hopefully you’ll find me endearing.  If you don’t play, maybe you’ll want to or you’ll learn something as I learn.  Or maybe you’ll just ignore these posts altogether.  As I do for my technical posts, I’m posting more for me to remember than for anything else anyway.

The background: I’ve always been around music.  As a young kid, I learned to play the flute and the koto.  (Here’s a link if you’ve never heard of it, new friends always asked if we had a weird narrow coffin in the house).  I also had a guitar, but I kind of sucked at it.  I’ve always had long fingernails and was never willing to cut them in order to press on the strings correctly, so I never progressed much beyond conceptually knowing how it worked, and how to tune it.  As an older kid, I got into musicals and singing.  I took voice lessons and had a crappy keyboard (I was good at the former and terrible at the latter).  In college, I actually got a degree in music, which consisted mostly of singing, some music theory, and some forced piano lessons (again, good at singing and theory, terrible at piano).  It also included dancing and acting, but those aren’t relevant to this post.  Anywho, all of that to say, I can read music (although I’m much better at treble clef than bass clef) and I get how a lot of musical instruments work even if I never even came close to mastering any.

Present day: I have two kids.  They’re in school and band is a thing.  So my daughter started off with flute and moved to the sax.  My son started with sax and moved to clarinet.  A family member purchased a really nice electric piano, but didn’t want it anymore.  So in my house I currently have two flutes, a piano, a sax, a clarinet, a set of drums, and a guitar.

Inspired by my kids, I wanted to pick up an instrument again.  In Part 2, I’ll bore you with how I chose the bass.

I Made Ribs So Good I Had To Blog About Them

Seriously.  If you’re looking for a tech post or a running post, move on.  This is truly about pork ribs.

Ribs and greens

I am on my third year of taking part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share.  This time I decided to do the pork add on, which means once a month, in addition to my weekly vegetables, I get a big ol’ bag o’ pork.  This month I received pork chops, bacon, breakfast sausage, italian sausage, chorizo, ground pork, and pork ribs.  Pork ribs.  Delicious pork ribs.

I wanted to cook them (well, really, I wanted to eat them, but it is suggested that you cook them first, so…) and I turned to the internet for how to accomplish that.  Of course, there are many ways to cook ribs, but I had some limitations.  1) I am currently eating low carb and thus did not want a BBQ sauce-based recipe/method.  2) I do not own a smoker or even a grill.  3) It was 90F today, so the oven was sort of out of the question.

I found this recipe for a dry rub and mustard to make it stick. But again, the oven was not an option.  So I decided I would throw the ribs in my slow cooker.  Plenty of recipes/directions online for that.  BUT they all involved drowning the ribs in sauce, which again, was not an option.

I got creative.  I wanted the ribs in the slow cooker.  I wanted them dry-rubbed as in the above linked recipe.  I didn’t want them in liquid, but the slow cooker has a tendency to make things, well, liquidy.  Last week we had shucked corn, but didn’t cook it all.  So I decided to use the shucked corn cobs as my slow cooker base layer.  I then stacked the ribs on top of the corn, and then on top of each other.  Turned it on low and left if for 8 hours or so.

The result were the most amazing ribs I have ever eaten in my entire life.  The meat literally fell off the bone when I pulled them out of the slow cooker.

To go with the ribs, I sauteed up some of the farm share greens in olive oil and drizzled with a little of the pork drippings from the slow cooker.  Soooooooooo good.

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