A smart guy named Helmut Haas discovered a bunch of cool things about the way our human brains decode the sounds we hear to determine the direction of where those sounds originate.
Back in 1949, Mr. Haas found that early reflections of sounds help our brains decipher where the sounds came from. We can tell a noise came from the left not simply because we hear it in our left ear, but also because the sound bounces off a wall to our right and hits our right ear a very short time after it hit our left ear. Almost instantaneously, the brain detects the short time between the two signals and tells us, “Hey, that sound you just heard came from your left. Better turn your head to see what it was!” This happens so quickly that we don’t really even think about it. We just “know” it came from the left.
Haas also recognized that early reflections are basically copies of the initial sound that are delayed slightly. He started messing with people’s heads. He pointed speakers at them and firing sounds with very short delay differences. Then he asked the test subjects which direction the sound seemed to come from.
His conclusion: Not only is it fun to play with sounds, but also 40 ms (milliseconds) is some kind of magic point for our brains. If an echo is more than 40 ms after the initial sound, then we hear the sounds as separate instances. But if the delays happen within 40 ms or less of each other, then we perceive them together as merely directionality cues of a single sound.
For example, if a sound hits our right ear and the same sound hits our left ear 0.3 ms later, we don’t hear two sounds, we only hear one sound coming from approximately our 1 o’clock position.
Engineers have implemented the Haas effect as an alternative to panning. Most of the time panning works just fine, but it does have limits.
Sometimes panning leaves the location of the audio feeling indeterminate, smeared, mono, or one dimensional. This is why a lot of engineers skip the pan knob altogether and mix LCR.
To effectively localize a track in a stereo field using the Haas effect, engineers have to do a couple things. They duplicate the track, pan the two tracks hard left and right, and then apply a delay to only one of the sides. The delay is applied to the side opposite of the side from which the sound is intended to perceived as originating.
Typical delay times for this technique are increments of 0.1 ms from 0.1 to 0.7 ms. This yields linear movement across the stereo field. You can think of it like this chart shows.
Example: Want the sound to come from 9 o’clock on the left? Delay the right side by about 0.4 or 0.5 ms.
After researching the Haas Effect, I decided I wanted to try it out in a mix. Since the settings must be very exact, setting it up correctly can be a bit confusing. Presets to the rescue!
I made these presets for the stock Digidesign Mod Delay II plug-in. These presets only work for this specific plug-in and Pro Tools. If there’s interest, maybe I’ll make more presets for other DAWs in the future.
Download this ZIP file, unzip it, and drop the folder and included presets in the Mod Delay II folder in the Plug-in Settings folder. On a Mac it’s probably located at Library / Application Support / Digidesign / Plug-In Settings / Mod Delay II, but may be in a different location on your system.
Setting up the tracks
Insert an instance of the Mod Delay II (mono/stereo) plug-in on the mono track you want to Haas-ify. Select the preset you want. No need to duplicate tracks. Bingo.
Understanding how to use the Haas effect properly means you need to understand and pay attention to things like stereo-to-mono compatibility and comb filtering, as well as other stereo field mixing techniques. As with all effects, have fun but be careful not to over do it. Experiment and do your homework. Then let me know if you find learn or discover anything cool. Here’s a cool video that got me thinking about the Haas effect.
I write songs, then document them on my computer in plain text files. As I’m working on a song I may revise it at a later date or create alternate versions. The dates I start and edit my songs are valuable to me for both posterity sake (i.e. copyright), as well as sorting purposes.
The easiest way to manage the dates would be not to worry about the date. I could simply depend solely on the file meta data. Most modern operating systems automatically attach “created on” and “last modified” dates to files, so I could just do nothing and hope that everything is kept in order.
Storing valuable info in the meta data is a good way to make sure you never have accurate data.
But that system only works as long as the meta data doesn’t get stripped from the file. Unfortunately, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve found that sometimes it does get lost.
Another easy way to keep track of this stuff would be to write the date at the top of the file like so:
My Next Amazing Song
by Scott Troyer
Written: March 24, 2012
Love is like a dove…
But, if I save that file as “My Next Amazing Song.txt” and throw it in my “Unfinished Songs” file with my other works-in-progress, there’s no way to quickly sort the songs based on that date.
Boo. Just, boo.
The Dating Solution
Instead, I include the date in the name of the file in the no-nonsense year-month-day format. (e.g. “My Next Amazing Song 2012-03-24.txt”)
Why do I date them with that format?
Dating Made Better
In the US, dates are often written MM/DD/YY, while in the UK dates are typically written DD/MM/YY. Occasionally the formats are flopped resulting in either YY/MM/DD or YY/DD/MM. Sometimes the year has 4 digits, sometimes 2. All of this causes confusion. Does 05/04/06 refer to May 4th or April 5th? And is that 1806 or 1906? Or is the year ’05? Shenanigans!
This is why some smart people created the ISO 8601 date format, which specifics that when specifying the year, month, day, it should be written YYYY-MM-DD. (At least until the year 10000 when we’ll use 5 digits for the year, but I doubt the human race can manage not to destroy ourselves before then, in which case we won’t need to worry about what the date is. I digress.)
So, clearly, YYYY-MM-DD is the best way to assign dates. In fact, as a reminder I create a little retweetable poem.
Let’s pretend the future chart topper “My Next Amazing Song” was first created on January 3rd, 2010, then revised on February 1st, 2011 and again on January 2nd, 2012, resulting in 3 versions of the file. If I name the 3 files using the 3 different methods DD-MM-YYYY, MM-DD-YYYY, and YYYY-MM-DD, this is how computers will alphabetically sort the files.
The final mix of “My Next Amazing Song 2012-03-24.txt” is so hot! Can’t wait for you to hear it…
As you can see, YYYY-MM-DD is the only format that sorts the files chronologically. If we used DD-MM-YYYY, files would be grouped by the days first, months second, and years last — a total chronological disaster. And if we used MM-DD-YYYY, all the January files, regardless of year, would come first, then all the February files, etc. — a little better, but still a mess. YYYY-MM-DD puts the files into the order they were created.
If you’re wondering whether 2 digits would be sufficient for the year instead of 4, definitely read up about Y2K. Around the turn of the century, YY vs. YYYY was kind of a thing.
This date format works with all sorts of files types, not just plain text files. I often bounce mixes of recordings with the YYYY-MM-DD date in the name so they appear sorted the right way in iTunes.
For even better chronology, try putting the date before the name of your file. (e.g. “2012-03-24 My Next Amazing Song.txt”
None of this will make you a better songwriter, but at least your songs will be organized.
Ever get this error? Can’t open your session, right? Not only is it a major workflow stopper, but the double punctuation typo at the end is annoying as well.
Luckily, the solution is quite simple.
This is the quick fix that works for me and my particular setup of hardware/software. Your mileage may vary.
Quit Pro Tools
Restart Pro Tools
Open the session that wouldn’t open before
Get back to work
The IT mantra “Have you tried turning if off and on again?” waves the problem away like a magic wand, but why is this problem happening in the first place?
The last time this error occurred for me, I noticed that it was after I had ejected my audio hard drive, removed my iLok, and left Pro Tools open, but put my machine to sleep before Pro Tools could issue the panic message: “Hey! Where’s your iLok, buddy?! That’s it! We’re shutting this whole thing down.” Then when I went to reopen the last session I was working on, boom, the error in question occured.
I’m guessing that between the time I ejected everything and the time I plugged it all back in and tried to fire it up again, Pro Tools had switched its default sample rate from whatever my Mbox 2 Pro says it was to whatever my MacBook Pro thinks it should be. Then when I try to open a session with a particular sample rate that doesn’t jive with what the current rate is, Pro Tools freaks out because it thought it knew what was right, but doesn’t even know anymore, man.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know how or why the error is occurring. These are just my slightly educated stabs in the dark. If you know anything more about this error, why it happens, and, most importantly, why there’s a typo in it, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
I love when good things happen to my friends. Recently, my friend Dave Wilton, who writes and performs under the name A Boy & His Kite, had his song “Cover Your Tracks” selected to be included in the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 movie. The soundtrack is out now (available on iTunes) and his full album (which is sure to be amazing) will be out soon November 20th.
Dave is a very talented songwriter, musician, engineer, and producer. He’s also one of the nicest guys I know. So if anyone deserves the attention that a Twilight soundtrack attracts, it’s certainly Dave. He makes incredibly beautiful and complex music. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.
We met through his brother Dan, bassist and one of the three singers/songwriters in Rudisill. Dave was a tremendous help and positive influence over us as we were getting started as a band. He helped guide a few of our recording sessions, bestowed some of his songwriting and musical wisdom with us, and even lent us his gorgeous Tele a few times. (Side note: Dave, I’m going to steal that guitar from you someday. Just FYI. ).
I’m really excited for Dave and hope everyone can pick up his record when it comes out. Make sure to follow Dave / A Boy & His Kite for all the latest news about his music! If you can, help spread the word about his music too!
Mixing audio is not easy. I’m no expert, but something just struck me…
Maybe making a great mix simply comes down to listening to a song a thousand times and removing all the little things that annoy you until there’s nothing left to dislike. Hopefully the subtraction leaves you with enough material to reveal the goodness of the song. I bet great mixing engineers can get there in fewer than a 1000 listens. Maybe there’s more to it. Just a thought.
Sound is basically waves of pressure changes. The exact definition is more complicated, but essentially we perceive sound because our ears decode the frequencies of oscillating movement of particles in gases, liquids, and solids. There are many ways to generate sound waves, such as plucking guitar strings so they vibrate, or hitting a membrane like a drum head.
A long time ago, people discovered that sound could also be made by blowing air through a pipe with a opening on the side, thus inventing the whistle. They also found that a range of tones could be produced by assembling a group of whistles with varying lengths and diameters. Then they attached a controller (called a keyboard or manual) so that one person could “play” this collection of pipes. Their invention is what we now know as the pipe organ.
At the start, pipe organs had only one timbre – a basic whistle sound, but over the next several hundred years, smart inventors and musicians made improvements in the technology. They found ways to emulate lots of other instruments, like brass, woodwinds, percussion, and even human voices. Their hope was to fully replicate those real life instruments.
As features were added, pipe organs evolved into enormous, elaborate, and expensive installations, increasingly more complicated to play and maintain. While these pipe organs were truly amazing inventions, capable of creating complex and beautiful music, they were actually quite poor emulations of the real life instruments they were intended to replace.
Still, we humans are adaptable and we fell in love with the sound of pipe organs, learning to appreciate the instrument for what it was, not what it wasn’t.
Eventually, we discovered electricity and began to harness its power to create electromechanical instruments. Creative minds developed things like vacuum tubes, tone wheels, and transistors. Companies like Hammond and Wurlitzer implemented tone wheels to generate sounds approximating a pipe organ.
However, similar to the pipe organ, this new technology was a brilliant invention that poorly emulated its predecessor. These new organs were affordable alternatives to pipe organs, so in spite of being a bad imitation they became popular with smaller houses of worship. Traveling musicians took advantage of the portability of these smaller organs too, making their sound common in popular jazz, blues, and rock music.
Once again, our ears grew accustomed to the sound of the imitation, developing an affinity for the quirks of its particular aesthetic.
As the march of progress continued, electronics became smaller and more powerful. Engineers found ways to replace the delicate mechanical parts in electric organs, which were subject to wear and tear, with completely electronic sound generators. Lightweight, all electronic keyboard synthesizers used a variety of methods in attempts to replicate the sounds of their heavier electromechanical ancestors.
But just like before, history would repeat itself. The new emulators were incredible technological achievements that fell short of their goal of replacing the old technology. Though they lacked the ability to fully replicate the previous generation, they possessed attributes that eventually found an audience of connoisseurs that valued them not just in spite of their glitches, but because of their unique properties.
Today, we synthesize the sounds of the old technologies with computers and keyboard MIDI controllers. While initially computers could only crudely imitate the old masters, DSP technology is progressing rapidly. CPU speed and available RAM are no longer the main limitation factors. As the computational power ceiling continues to rise higher and higher, software programmers are able to provide increasingly nuanced emulators that can easily fool the listener into believing that the software is actually the real thing.
At this point, if you’re still reading, then you probably can see how this history correlates to the plot of the film Inception. Each new technological breakthrough has been like a deeper dream state, where the simulation moves further and further away from reality.
→ Pipe organs
→ → Electric organs
→ → → Keyboards
→ → → → Software
However, just like in the film, while each level becomes more strange and abstract, the deepest level — Limbo — actually approaches something most like the real thing or maybe even better. Today’s emulators delve into such detail and are able to control even the most minute aspects of the sound, that it won’t be long before they easily eclipse the believability of the old technology. In fact, we may already be there.
A few years ago (when the emulators weren’t half as good as they are now), a friend of mine (who has very good ears) dropped by the studio to hear a song I was working on. When the B3 organ kicked in during the chorus, he declared, “That organ sounds great. There’s nothing like the real thing!” Muwhahaha! The smoke and mirrors of software emulation had worked.
Inspiration for This Article
This idea of how keyboard technology relates to Inception came about through a discussion with my friend Hoss. Over the weekend we were working on the keyboard parts for our band Rudisill’s next album Take To Flight. In between takes of an organ part we marveled at the realization that the software he was using was an emulation of an emulation of an emulation — a truly strange scenario.
Follow Rudisill to hear about the new album when it is released later this year (2012).
One of the first lessons in the long, ugly self-education process of teaching yourself to play guitar is how to tune your instrument. When you’re learning something new you’re bound to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes lead to new discoveries.
My early mistakes while trying to wrangle my guitar into tune accidentally opened the door to exploring alternate or alternative tunings. After realizing that EADGBE or “standard” tuning is not the only way to tune a guitar, I intentionally began playing around with tunings, discovering things like DADGBD (Double Drop D) and EADF♯BE.
Since then, I’ve read about Nick Drake, who some consider to be the godfather of alternate tunings, and learned that you can’t really play Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin tunes faithfully or easily in standard tuning.
Armed with that knowledge and even more curiosity, I’ve added to my repertoire more tunings like DACGAD, CGAGCE, DGDGBD, DADDAD, and even DDDGDD (thanks to Ben Albright). But perhaps the most interesting tuning I’ve discovered is one I made up.
One day I was thinking about how the B string in standard tuning stands alone. Standard tuning is based on intervals of fourths (or 2½ steps), so the pitch for each string can be found by fretting the next lower pitched string at the fifth fret. For example, fretting the low E string at the fifth fret sounds the note A, which is the note of the next higher string. And the A string can be fretted at the fifth fret to give a D. This works for all of the strings on the guitar except the B string. To find the pitch of the B string the G string must be fretted on the fourth fret, which produces a major third.
This break in the pattern bothered me. Sure, standard tuning is a solid, time-tested system with many good reasons for why it is the way it is, but I wondered what would happen if I used the fourth fret to tune all the way across.
What came out of that little experiment is a weird tuning that I often use: FAC♯FAA. I call it my two-step tuning, not because it’s good for songs with a two step feel, but because each string is two steps higher than the previous string.
Feel free to use this tuning, but don’t blame me for broken strings.
Like standard tuning, I allowed one string to be an exception to the rule. If I had continued the pattern across, the high E should have been another C♯, but it proved difficult to make chord shapes this way. I thought I’d drop the string to A instead. This created a nice unison effect, but the string was too loose and easily fell out of tune. So I replaced the high E string with a string of the same gauge as the B string. And taa-daa! A new tuning!
But sadly, I could’t write much of anything with it.
An open strum produced an augmented triad, an interesting, but somewhat unsettling chord (take a major chord and sharp the fifth i.e. C-E-G♯). Plucking each string in succession revealed a tritonic scale of major thirds, which is not a scale Western ears (mine included) are accustomed to hearing in musical contexts. When all the notes of a scale are equidistant to each other, it becomes very difficult to determine the key. The scale is the same no matter where you start. John Coltrane used this peculiar aspect of major thirds to create a disorienting progression of chords now known as Coltrane changes.
None of the familiar chord shapes and scale patterns of standard tuning carried over to this new tuning either. My brain was flummoxed by its’ own invention. Having created something interesting, but not knowing what to do with it, I set it aside.
Sometime later I worked a summer as a truck driver for a fireworks company. I decided to take my guitar on the road with me to see if I could crack this tuning’s code. My truck route took me near where my friend Brian Fetter lived. Instead of sitting in a hotel, I was able to hang out with him for the evening. It was at his apartment that this tuning produced its’ first tune, a song called “If Ever In Doubt.”
For a long time, that was the only song that I could find in that tuning. I often referred to it as my “If Ever In Doubt” tuning. Over time the tuning and I became more comfortable with each other. A handful of songs have come to life through it. My latest album All Is Sideways features several of these songs (including the title track).
Reasons to Try Alternate Tunings
Create unique vibes standard tuning can’t make
Drone-like effects with open strings
Strange chords can be played with easier fingerings
Forces you to think about the sound and not resort the familiarity of what you know and muscle memory
What began ages ago as mere inklings of thought, vague notions of concept, and a few sparse melodies has now — at long last! — become a physical reality. The audio is mastered, the artwork polished, and the replication of my album has begun.
In a few short weeks All Is Sideways will be available in a variety of digital formats from the gamut of major online digital retailers, but those that preorder a CD will receive the album first (and signed too).
If you have followed the progress of this album, you know what a long, troublesome, and strange process it has been. The project began with a chance encounter with Jared Ribble in Nashville years ago while on tour. As time wore on and the tour meandered about the country, more chance encounters with musical friends (new and old) led to the creation of key components of the album. All Is Sideways features dozens of players in as many places playing all sorts of instruments. In as much as America is a melting pot, so too is this album a sonic stone soup. The individual tracks may seem too disparate to make an album, but one thing rings true for these songs:
They are part of me.
Time and again I’ve nearly given up believing that I’d ever finish this project. Attempting to make an album, one with your heart and soul embedded in the ones and zeros, can nearly break an artist. That goal is even more difficult when you’re a lone vagabond. You end up questioning everything — every note, phrase, idea, inclination — and not being sure of any of the answers you come up with. I found myself in a cyclical pattern of creating things, building layers, finding problems, giving up hope, discovering clarity, trying again, learning more than I wanted to know, rethinking my songs and myself, driving long silent hours on the road, questioning my purpose and plans, and eventually coming to terms (I think…) with the process. Album making is like psychotherapy, but the lines of professionalism and privacy get messed up because you’re both the patient and practitioner. It’s a head game and your results get published. Humbling.
So you can imagine why, even after all this time that I’ve had to work on the album, I feel a bit reluctant releasing it into the wild. While I’ve been really eager to get this album out there to you, my friends and family, part of me doesn’t feel ready. But as my friend (and engineer for most of the album) Lynn Graber often says:
“An album is never done. Eventually you just have to let it go.”
He’s right. I’ll never be finished with these songs. Every time I play them, listen to them, or think about them, I discover something new — a note to work on, a finer nuance to express, a deeper meaning of a lyric, a greater understanding of myself. I supposed that’s a place of growth or maturity or something else profound. In that regard, the songs may never be done and that’s probably a good thing.
Finished or not, the perfect moment will never come, so I’m letting the album go. Here it is: the button that lets me know that you want to hear what I’ve made for you.
Me playing slide guitar in front of a bonfire. Photography by Ben Gilliom.
Indiana is hot today – really hot – maybe a record setter. News outlets are saying that in Colorado wild fires are crawling across mountains and consuming neighborhoods. The heat and fires have me thinking about something I often think about: how big and hot the Sun has to be for it to be this hot and bright here on Earth.
Being a country boy, I’ve attended a fair number of bonfires. Some of them have featured quite enormous, roaring fires. Yet, no matter how big the fires have been, the heat and light quickly drop off just yards away and the night remains dark, cold, and unaffected.
I haven’t measured this myself, but I’m told that on average the Earth orbits somewhere around 92,960,000 miles from the Sun. That’s a long way away (approximately 1 astronomical unit). The Sun is so far away that it takes about 8 minutes for the Sun’s light (which coincidentally travels at the speed of light 299,792,458 miles/second) to reach us here on Earth. So compared to the bonfires I’ve seen, I think about how big that burning ball of fire we call the Sun must be for it to be this hot and light out here. Amazing.
Even more amazing: compared to other stars in the Universe, the Sun isn’t even a very big star.
In that article, I gave 50 technical questions as “homework” for the musician that wants to get better at being a musician. The broad list covers a lot of little things that musicians really ought to know, but think they don’t need to know.
While we could easily get sidetracked judging ourselves based on whether we can answer those specific questions or not, the real issue I’m hoping to address is our attitudes about learning.
Learning is tough. Really tough. It takes dedication, willingness, and humility to learn new things. It’s not surprising that we make a lot of excuses to avoid it.
Excuses, excuses, excuses
Over the years, I have cited lots of reasons for why I wasn’t progressing as a musician, but they were simply excuses. Here are a few of my mental blocks.
1. My fingers are too fat.
Back in high school I picked up the guitar because I wanted to write songs. After a year or two of trying to learn how to play, I told Nathan Hamlin, my trusted friend and songwriting partner, that my fingers were too fat to play guitar well. His response?
Scott, my dad Vance has huge sausage fingers and he can play guitar better than I can. You have no excuse.
Nathan was right. I stopped making excuses and learned how to play guitar. Now people ask me to play guitar for them.
Still want to make excuses? Phil Keaggy has only 9 digits, Chad James has only one hand, and Mark Goffeney has no hands, but it hasn’t stopped any of them from playing guitar.
2. I need a better guitar.
For years I was convinced that if I just had a more expensive guitar, I too could play like a pro. Wrong.
In college I met Ben Albright, a guy who was known for his guitar prowess. Time and time again, I watched as he would pick up the same crappy instrument I had just laid down and play something inspiring. Clearly the guitar was not the problem.
The roadblock was in my mind. There was a reason I couldn’t make a guitar sing like Ben could. Besides not putting in the many hours of practice that he had, I had already decided that I couldn’t make great music without great instruments.
In a previous post called “How to Get Perfect Guitar Tone,” I included a video clip from It Might Get Loud of Jack White building and then playing a makeshift guitar on his front porch. The improvised “guitar” he makes proves his point that great music is possible even if the instrument is not very good.
I can’t blame my guitar.
3. I need better recording equipment.
We live in such a wonderful time. Recording has never been more accessible, affordable, or high quality.
My soon-to-be released album All Is Sideways was recorded in locations all over the U.S. over the past 3 years. Some of the songs have more than 50 layered tracks. I was privileged to be able to record with talented players on great instruments with really nice microphones and preamps into a sweet computer.
The funny thing I have to remind myself is that some of the greatest albums of all time have been made with much less. The Beatles recorded their highly complex Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with a pair of 4-track tape machines.
Compared to the tools we have available to us today, musicians and engineers of the past worked with sticks and stones. Men have flown to outer space and back in rocket ships with computers on board that pale in comparison to the iPods in our pockets. Yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that to make an album like Led Zeppelin’s IV today, we need million dollar systems with all the latest technology.
Sorry, kids. Your gear can’t be the scapegoat here. Garageband is more than adequate.
Who’s left to blame?
Excuses don’t make me a better player. Better gear doesn’t make me a better player. Only my determination to learn, practice, and actively become a better player makes me a better player.
In my signal chain, sadly, I am the weakest link.
I want to fix that and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
A funny thing happened today. I received some text messages from a number I didn’t recognize. Here is the transcript of our SMS exchange.
Text from a Stranger
Stranger: Quick! What was the wintergreen root beer you bought at Wegman’s called? Stranger: We found it! Virgil’s root beer. Delish! Me: Who is this? Stranger: Um. Who is THIS? Me: You texted me. You first. Stranger: I texted you? Sorry. Must be a mistake. Your number comes up unknown on my phone. what did I txt? Me: You asked me about root beer. Lucky guess, I suppose, since Virgil's is my favorite. Stranger: Isn't this scott? Me: Yep. Who are you? Stranger: Stevan! Stranger: What number comes up from me? Your number texting me now is [XXX-XXX-XXXX] ?? Stranger: I originally txted your [XXX] number... (Stevan Sheets in case you know other Stevans)
Getting a text like this isn’t all that rare. Occasionally a friend will change phone numbers and send me a text before I have put their new number into my address book. After some initial confusion it usually becomes clear who the mystery messager is. As usual, the stranger in question wasn’t a stranger, but my good friend Stevan Sheets.
Grocery Stores & Root Beer
First things first. Wegman’s is probably the best chain of grocery stores ever and part of my list of mandatory stops when I’m in the Northeast. And although I’m not much of a soda drinker, Virgil’s Root Beer (and the many Ginger Brews also made by Reed’s Inc.) are the finest sodas I’ve ever tasted. But I digress…
What really happened
Despite all of my persuasive arguments, Stevan still has not become an Apple guy. He seems to love the dark side. He spends lots of his time trying to use an Android phone, tweeting about how awful iPhones are, and expressing his love for Google products. Naturally, when he moved across state a few years ago, he kept his old cell number and signed up for a local number via Google Voice. He ported this new number to his phone, where it has been operating somewhat natively within the Android OS ever since. The funny part is that my good-buddy-ol’-pal, Stevan, has been using this number as his primary for over 2 years, yet I didn’t know it. We regularly communicate with each other using various web tools (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, email, etc.), but for whatever reason we rarely use the phone or text. I still had his old number in my phone. So after our back-and-forth on SMS, I called Stevan to try to figure what happened. We talked through it and think we worked out the problem. This is where it gets funky, so I’ll try to break it down to make it easy to understand.
A Glitch in The Matrix
This evening, Stevan sends a text to my cell number from his phone via his Google Voice number.
Google Voice intercepts the text from Stevan, recognizes that my cell number is linked to a Google Voice number, and sends the text to my Google Voice number instead.
Since my Google Voice number is set to forward texts to my cell number, I receive Stevan’s text on my phone like normal at my cell number.
I don’t have Stevan’s Google Voice number in my address book, so I don’t recognize the sender and reply from my cell number, “Who is this?”
Google Voice then intercepts my text, recognizes that it’s from my cell number, which is linked to a Google Voice account, and sends the text to Stevan as though it came from my Google Voice number.
Stevan receives my reply, but it appears in a new message thread from a number he doesn’t recognize, so he replies, “Um. Who is THIS?”
I scratch my head and wonder who would text me about my love for Virgil’s root beer, but wouldn’t know who am I, while Stevan wonders why his friend Scott won’t write him back and why some stranger is texting him.
How This Is Dangerous
What we figured out tonight is that Google Voice is doing some questionable handling of text messages behind the scenes that could lead to some quite unfortunate outcomes. All kinds of problems could happen if SMS messages can’t be sent and received with reliable confidence about what number the message is being sent to or from. You might think it doesn’t matter for you as long as you are not texting from Google Voice, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Imagine This Scenario
Tim meets a Sara. Sparks fly. Tim, being a modern guy, asks if Sara if he could text her. Wanting to be safe, Sara gives him her Google Voice number instead of her mobile number. The next day Tim texts Sara from his mobile. Unfortunately, Tim works at Widget Inc., a small company that uses Google Voice for official company business and Tim’s phone is one of the phones it forwards to. Google Voice sends Tim’s text as though it’s coming from the Widget Inc. Google Voice number instead of his mobile number. When Sara replies to Tim, she’s actually replying back to Widget Inc. thinking that is Tim’s personal number. Now any employee at Widget Inc. that has access to the company’s Google Voice account or receives forwarded texts on their mobile can see Sara’s text to Tim. Good thing Sara only said, “Fri is good. Pick me up 7ish? <333” and not something more embarrassing.
Until Google Voice decides to stop commandeering numbers, we recommended not using Google Voice for text messages. Don’t send SMS messages to or from a Google Voice number and disable the receipt of forwarded text messages to cell phones. If you receive a text from a number you don’t recognize, do not reply to it, or only send a reply with information that you don’t mind being made public. For now, here’s how to disable text forwarding on your phone, which is better than doing nothing.
Disable Text Forwarding
Log in to your Google Voice account.
Click on the little Options cog in the upper right corner.
Choose ‘Voice Settings’ from the list of options in the drop down menu.
Under the default ‘Phone’ tab make sure the “Receive text messages on this phone” box is unchecked.
Bad music distracts like the humming of a common appliance or the yapping of a small dog and cannot be ignored. Technical deficiencies, unhoned songs, underdeveloped skills, and lack of attention to details incite the listener to quickly find the source of pain and snuff it out. Amateurs, delusional artists, and tone-deaf listeners don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” music.
Good music is ignorable. Attention–demanding activities like reading, writing, or working can be accomplished while listening to “good” music. If musicians, engineers, and producers perform their jobs at industry–acceptable levels, their efforts are enjoyed as soundtrack material or supplemental background ambience like one of the those sleep noise machines. Most every musician is completely content to reach this level.
Great music (like bad music) cannot be ignored. Great music transcends, consumes, and demands. It interrupts conversations, moves bodies, chills skin, persuades minds, breaks hearts, inspires change, incites envy/jealousy, and peels back the heavens in holy awe. In the presence of “great” music only one thing can be done: listen.
“He buzzes like a fridge. He’s like a detuned radio.”
— Radiohead, “Karma Police,” OK Computer
In case you missed all the promotional efforts on Facebook and Twitter, in 2011 I released my version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” as a free download. Try one of the following links to get the song now.
Many thanks go to Lynn Graber of The Recording House for offering to record this Christmas song for free as part of his Christmas 2011 compilation. Six other artists recorded songs with Lynn. I’ve embedded their tracks below for you to enjoy.
As for my recording, I had a lot of fun working with Lynn at his swanky studio. We experimented with new microphone placement and techniques while recording the upright piano. I also was able to track harmonica using an Alesis iO Dock with an iPad and the Ground Up AudioAmps & Cabs iOS app.
“Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Scott Troyer
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Autumn Ashley
“Some Children See Him” by Nathan Metz
“Emmanuel” by Larisa Grisham
“What Child Is This?” by Vanessa Ann Grisham
“Oh Holy Night” by Escaping Yesterday
“Free (A Christmas Song)” by Troy Erbe
In 1907, John W. Work, Jr. published a collection called Folk Song of the American Negro, which contained the first publication of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” For those listening closely to my version of the song, some of the lyrics have been modified from the original. I altered a few of the words and added a couple lines. Some may want to stone me for changing a classic, but I believe the changes to be improvements that are faithful to our best understanding of the gospel. Review the lyrics on the discography page to see if you can find the changes I made. Let me know what you think via the comments section below.
Go Tell It
This song may seem old-fashioned or out-of-date, but here’s the thing: there are places in the world where people have never heard that “Jesus Christ is born.” They may know the name Jesus Christ (possibly as it is used as a profanity in movies or TV), or they may have limited information (or even disinformation) about this Messiah guy. In spite of the nearly omnipresent accessibility of the internet and prevalence of computers, smart phones, and iDevices, there are still many people uninformed about the central character of the Christian faith. Often, governments prevent their people from receiving information about Christianity or persecute their citizens for spreading the information.
One of the most notorious of these regions of the world is North Korea. With the recent passing of dictator Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean government is likely to change its policies in regards to religious practice. Please read this article from Vernon Brewer, president of WorldHelp, to find out how you can “go tell it on the mountain.” Then donate via this link.
I met my maker. I made him cry.
And on my shoulder he asked me why
His people won’t fly through the storm.
I said: ‘Listen up man they don’t even know you’re born.’
Here are two recent headlines that made the front page of major news outlets:
– The Week
– Daily Mail
Wow! Amazing! What wonderful news!
Maybe not. This “great” news reveals a fundamental problem with the state of medical research: we’re treating symptoms instead of the problem.
An Automobile Analogy
Let’s say your car is making weird noises — whirrs, clicks, bangs, and wheezes that just don’t sound normal. You’re not a “car guy,” so you take it to a mechanic. You explain what the symptoms are (with sound effects) as best you can. He opens the hood, takes a few minutes to look it over and then asks, “When’s the last time the oil was changed?”
You try to recall the last visit to the local lube shop, but come up blank. “I don’t know,” you reply, “It’s been awhile. Why do you ask?”
After checking the odometer and the sticker on the windshield, the mechanic calmly explains, “Well, it looks like your last oil change was about 15,000 miles ago. The manufacturer suggests changing the oil every 3 to 5 thousand miles. I think we’re probably looking at rebuilding the engine, which is gonna take some time. That’s not going to be cheap.”
Not willing to admit to a tragic mistake, nor pay a huge bill, you shoot back, “Look, I’m not here to be told how to maintain my vehicle, I just want you to make the funny noises go away!”
“But… you see… I can’t just…” he stammers.
“Make the sounds go away!” you demand.
The mechanic, needing to feed his family, devises a devious plan. “OK. We can do that,” he promises. “We have a new product that will make it so you never hear another funny noise again!” Instead of rebuilding the engine, he installs special acoustic insulation that blocks all outside noise to the inside of the car. He claims, “With this new fix, you won’t hear a thing!”
Satisfied with his solution, you drive away happy, but deceived that your broken car is fixed. A month later your engine completely seizes up and dies. Bringing an end to your car and this analogy.
What’s the bare minimum to get it running again? (Image source: stock.xchng)
How This Relates to Medicine & Health
Sadly, this is how we often approach our bodies. We expect medicine to quickly fix what we’ve been breaking over a lifetime. We don’t want to be told that our methods of living are wrong. We want to take a pill and continue uninterrupted on the course we’ve been heading. We want a magic Band-aid instead of a real cure.
So, medical research and treatments often focus on alleviating symptoms rather than curing fundamental problems, because that’s what we want. We may use drug regimens, liposuction, and cosmetic cover-ups to make the symptoms go away, but we have ignored why those symptoms are happening in the first place.
This is foolish.
Attack the root
Symptoms are indicators that something bigger (and probably worse) is going on. Acne and obesity are merely warning signs. We can take down the warning signs, but that doesn’t get rid of the danger. No matter how many coats of paint we put on the outside, the inside is still rotting away. I hope that we eventually wake up and learn to recognize what is really happening. Let’s start attacking the root of the problems we experience, not just the symptoms.
The heart, the heart,— there was the little yet boundless sphere wherein existed the original wrong of which the crime and misery of this outward world were merely types. Purify that inward sphere, and the many shapes of evil that haunt the outward, and which now seem almost our only realities, will turn to shadowy phantoms and vanish of their own accord…
– Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Earth’s Holocaust,” Mosses from an Old Manse
Our best efforts to judge objectively are often ruined by our subjectivity when rating works of art. iTunes gives us the ability to assign stars to every song in our libraries, but, man, is it hard to know how to use them well. There is great irony in the fact that recorded audio files are simply zeroes and ones, yet it is very difficult to rate those songs on a simple scale of zero to five stars.
Below is a breakdown of how I rate the songs in my iTunes Library. I’m approaching this from the viewpoint of a songwriter and producer, so I’m interested to hear how you rate your library.
Songs in my iTunes Library that have zero stars are tunes I have yet to rate. Unless I’m focusing on the task, I find it easy to get lost in the music and forget to click on those little stars. Sadly, a large percentage of my library is still unrated. I’ll get to it… someday.
A one star song merely proves that it is possible to record audio, but beyond that I find almost no redeeming quality. If I rate a song with one star, it has very little value to me. I hate these songs. Why do I keep them in my library? Different reasons, I guess. If a song is part of album, I don’t get rid of it because I hate incomplete sets. Sometimes I keep terrible songs around as a reminder of what not to do.
Songs I don’t like but that still have some redeeming value to them get two stars. It might be the crappiest song ever, but was recorded well. Or it might be a great song that was recorded terribly. Maybe it is an entirely mediocre song, but I can’t honestly say that I hate it. Whatever reason, I rarely listen to 2-star songs.
Three-stars are good songs that meet all my requirements for acceptable music. These are listenable and usually enjoyable, but they are not the first songs I run to when I need to listen to music. These are songs by artists I appreciate, but don’t consider my favorites. They might also be the rare less-likable songs of my favorite artists.
Four-star songs are great. They are above average and I consider them more enjoyable than most songs. However, I wouldn’t die for them. If the house is burning and I can take only the best with me, these songs would sadly be left behind. I’d miss them too. If you are an artist that makes a lot of 4-star songs and the occasional 5-star keeper, then you’re probably one of my favorite artists.
These five-star beauties make up my “deserted island” playlist. These are the rare audio gems that I could listen to over and over and never get tired of them. They are songs that define me. To get five stars a song has to score well in nearly all of these areas: songwriting, musicianship, philosophy, story, timelessness, inspiration, intellectualism, and enjoyability.
Some Examples of 5-star Songs in My iTunes Library
“Oh King” – Mark Mathis
“When It Don’t Come Easy” – Patty Griffin
“Since I’ve Been Loving You (Live)” – Led Zeppelin
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash
“God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise” – Ray LaMontagne
“None Of Us Are Free” – Solomon Burke
“Nude” – Radiohead
“Only A Man” – Jonny Lang
“Come All You Weary” – Thrice
“Been Here Before” – Jeremy Enigk
“The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us” – Sufjan Stevens
After returning from the supermarket with a load of super foods late one night (which is the perfect time to go grocery shopping), my appetite was… “heightened.” So, I decided to make a little snack using the ingredients I had just purchased. I quickly chopped up some stuff and threw it in a bowl. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because I didn’t give this concoction much thought, but I knew I had discovered something after that first bite. This recipe kind of feels like a home run – or maybe even a grand slam. It’s easy, fast, delicious, and healthy. You can’t ask for much more than that.
6-8 campari tomatoes – quartered
1 (12 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts – quartered
1/2 C. flat leaf parsley – roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic – crushed or finely minced
1 T. dry or fresh oregano
1 lemon – zested and juiced
1 T. olive oil
sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
In a large bowl, zest and juice the lemon over the garlic and oregano to kick start the marinating process. Pour the liquid from the artichokes in the bowl. Quarter the tomatoes and artichokes into similar size pieces and chop the parsley. Dress with some good olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Allow the magic to marinate for as long as you can stand. Usually I can only wait about 10 minutes, but if you have patience you can prepare this recipe day ahead of time.
When writing songs and blog posts, I am always on the hunt for the exact right words. Often I head to a thesaurus because I can’t remember the precise word for the concept I’m thinking of. The problem is that usually the thesaurus doesn’t give me the word I’m searching for, so I have to search lots of different words until I finally (hopefully) get that word that has been eluding me. I need a thesaurus that can accept multiple words and kick back a list of possibilities that are “averaged equivalents” of those words.
Maybe these are bad examples, but it could work something like this:
There doesn’t seem to be definitive consensus on the matter of the proper way to use the terms height (H), width (W), depth (D), and length (L) when describing the dimensions of things. Usually we are left to sort out which dimension each term is describing on a per object basis. This is stupid.
A Real World Problem
I need cases for my studio monitors. Touring is not very friendly to delicate reference speakers, so proper cases are kind of important. Since the manufacturer of these particular monitors does not make cases, I had to look to other manufacturers for appropriately sized cases. In the specifications for the monitors the manufacturer lists their product in H x W X D dimensions. That’s fine, but one case manufacturer lists their product in H x L x W. Another manufacturer lists their cases in H x L x D. That makes immediate identification of a properly sized case a bit difficult. The fact that some manufacturers list their products in imperial measures while others use the metric system complicates things too, but I’ll save that for another day.
Isn’t it funny that we don’t have standardized language for something as common as measuring the size of things? To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a science problem, but a linguistic problem. Science has created a variety of coordinate systems to make sure we send rockets in the right direction, but for every day use we don’t have a standard system of common words. I love the English language, but it is rife with deficiencies. Don’t get me started on the lack of a “grammatically correct” gender-neutral third person singular pronoun. Grammarians, if you’re reading this, stop complaining about the misuse of “they” and SOLVE THE PROBLEM.
Back to dimensions.
A Plan of Action
In most cases, an object’s dimensions can be described using Cartesian, cylindrical, or spherical coordinate systems with words we already know and love. If an object is roughly box–shaped, orient the object so you’re looking directly at it’s forward-facing orientation and describe it as if you’re looking at it from the “front.” This means you’ll have to determine which side is the front. Most things have one. If your object doesn’t, then it’s probably not useful and should be recycled. (Kidding.) For example, studio monitors are useful because their front side houses speakers which emit sound.
H x W x D
Using Height, Width, and Depth (in that order), make your measurements. Roughly 3 out of 4 objects in this world can be described this way.
Width = X-axis (left to right) derived from wide
Height* = Y-axis (bottom to top) derived from high
Depth = Z-axis (front to back) derived from deep
H x W x L
If an object is really long in one dimension but still boxy (e.g. lumber, french fries), use Length (L) instead of Depth. The word “length” comes from the word “long.”
Length = the long side of an object
D/R/C x L
If an object is long but round instead of boxy (e.g. guitar cable, baseball bat, spaghetti), use Diameter (D), Radius (R), or Circumference (C) (usually in that order of preference) and Length. If it’s something like a drinking glass or flag pole, use H x D/R/C.
Diameter = the width of the widest distance across a circle
Radius = distance from the center to the edge of a circle
Circumference = the length of the edge of a circle if it was stretched out into a straight line
The Ball Method
If an object doesn’t have any boxy sides and is mostly round like a ball, use the Ball Method. Describe your object by choose a ball that’s roughly the same size. Hail and cancer are the most common things to be measured this way, but it’s used for all sorts of things. They are good because they are self-explanatory. Here are some of the most common sizes. Pick one.
The tip of a ballpoint pen
A pencil eraser
No bigger than the tip of your pinky finger
A golf ball
A medicine ball
One of those cages they do motorcycle stunts in
The shiny silver thing in Chicago that looks like the ship from Flight of the Navigator
That space ball ride at Epcot
Now for the sake of progress, can we all agree on this and get back to doing whatever it was we were doing before we had to sort this out? Good. Glad we worked through it.
* The Word Nazis tell us that the word ‘height’ doesn’t have a -th on the end of it, but it should, if we follow logical convention. Can we at least downgrade it from grammatical sin? From now on, if you say, “heighth,” I say, “How high?”
It’s an interesting concept. The wars between analog and digital rage on because they are systems separated by technologies that both have pros and cons. As technology progresses, what new pros and cons will we have to debate against older systems? Initially I answered with the following:
Realizing there’s much more to this debate than just a tweet, I thought I’d talk more about it here.
We Need Better Words to Describe How We’ll Make Music in the Future
In my original tweet, I used the phrase “Cerebral vs. Digital” to describe the future debate I imagine will happen. Maybe my choice of opposites wasn’t perfect. Better words can probably be found. This concept of diametrics I have in mind could be expressed in a variety of ways.
Cerebral vs. Physical
Solitary vs. Collaborative
Internal vs. External
Each of those word combinations is describing the same contrast of ideas. But how to best describe it?
The New System of Mind Music
In the (maybe not so distant) future, musicians will have the ability to directly output music from their heads. Technology will be developed that will allow artists to simply think/imagine/hear the music in his/her head and output this as audio and/or notation. This cerebrally generated “audio feed” could be routed (maybe even wirelessly) to a recording device to be documented, distributed, and sold. Theoretically, this process could happen as a live performance. The signal could be routed to a sound system for a concert, to an internet connection for worldwide streaming, or even directly injected (almost telepathically) into the head of a “listener” outfitted with the proper “receiver” device.
The possibilities are fantastic. Composers could direct an entire imaginary orchestra as they hear it in their minds. Dancers could dance to their own music in real time. Musicians could play exactly what they intend to play. Singers could sing in whatever voices they can imagine. Handicapped artists suddenly would be unrestricted by their handicaps.
This technological breakthrough in music will follow a path familiar to video games. With the Wii, Nintendo brought wireless motion-sensing accelerometer action to everyday people. The developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band banked a lot of cash by making it really easy to “play” popular music without having to learn an instrument. Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox removed the need for a controller, allowing the person to become the controller. I don’t know who will create the first mind-controlled music technology, but somebody’s going to do it.
Cool meant something totally different back then. Don’t judge.
As with any change, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, music will experience yet another Regrettable Period in which we have to learn how to use this new technology properly. I predict some gross and unsavory abuse of the technology, much like the ubiquity of terrible synthesizers in the 1980s or prevalence of auto-tuned vocals since Cher started believing in life after love. But some lucky artist is going to enjoy the honor of being known as the one that mastered this wonderful new system, thus becoming the “Grand Master Flash of whatever-this-thing-may-become-known-as.” Someone will figure out how to use it right, but it might take some time. In the meantime, wear earplugs.
Why We’ll Argue About This
At first, this newfangled gadgetry will be heralded as the end of “real” music and musicianship. The critics will say it’s too easy and not authentic music. Traditional composers and invested players will complain that no one has to learn how to write or play anymore. And much in the same way that digital was derided as a poor substitute for analog, purists will say that this cerebral form loses something in the process. Those arguments all might be right, but there may be a bigger issue lurking.
Trapped “In The Box”
When the process of making music becomes entirely internalized it will be really great because of it’s purity and singularity of thought, but will it simultaneously suffer from lack of external influences? When digital recording became popular, the question was often asked by one artist or engineer to another: “Was this all done ‘in the box?’” – meaning: was the audio signal created, mixed, and mastered on the same computer? Early on, music created entirely in this fashion lacked the beneficial effects that analog systems inherently imparted upon the audio signal. Today, the line has been blurred by better technology, so it’s harder to tell if something was recorded analog or digital. Only engineers with “golden ears” can hear the difference (even then I suspect shenanigans). At any rate, the question still remains: What benefits will be lost due to the signal remaining “in the box” of your head?
Potential Musical Influences
People – The comradery, inspiration, ideas, criticism, differing views, and friction found when people work together often makes for better music. Being alone can lead to dead ends and boring or bad music. Collaboration can make beautiful things.
Hardware – Though they are inanimate objects, the instruments and devices used to make music come with their own inspirations, challenges, rewards, frustrations to overcome, and occasional good glitches. Sometimes a piece of gear has to be conquered and relinquishes its magic upon defeat.
Criticism – The critic is the archenemy of the artist, but every good story needs a villain. Without judgement, no work is ever as best as it can be. Words are often revealed for their folly only after they’ve left the head.
Movement – Music and movement are very strongly related. When making music, movement is both part of the instigation of sound, but also a reaction to the sound being created. Performance and dance are like cousins. So if movement is not necessary for the creation of music, what effect will that have on the final product?
Good Things Will Happen
A lot of things can go wrong in this new system, but a lot of things can go right too. Eventually we’ll work out the kinks. We’ll figure out the typical pitfalls. We’ll master this medium like we have with all the others. One day amazing music will be generated using nothing but musicians’ brains. I’m hedging a bet it will be the direct output of some ridiculously young Mozart’s mind that will blow us all away. Perhaps this new interface will teach us something about how our brains work. Maybe it will allow us to communicate more precisely on ever deeper levels. What if it develops into a new universal language? Hmm.
In case you are living under a rock, there is a famine crisis caused by severe drought and Al-Qaeda backed rebels in the Horn of Africa, a region roughly defining the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. Tens of thousands have already died of starvation and millions more are at risk if resources are not made available quickly. Preventing more deaths due to hunger is possible, but time is ticking.
Obviously, a huge component to helping to alleviate the circumstances in the Horn of Africa involves generous and compassionate people giving their time, money, blood and other resources in order to put food and water in hands of the people that so desperately need it. Some people have not given yet, but many have already given – maybe they have even given a lot. Some are tired of giving or just tired of hearing about it.
If you are a Christian, I appeal to you with these words from Jesus as recorded in the book of Matthew. You may be tired of hearing them, but ignoring them won’t make it go away.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The audio device buffer underflowed. If this occurs frequently, try decreasing the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine panel or remove other devices from the audio firewire bus. (-6085)
Occasionally this error pops up in Pro Tools, usually after I return from a meal in the middle of a long recording or mixing session. The session file will only playback audio for 1 second or less and then the error message pops up. Apparently, Pro Tools 9 is a workaholic and doesn’t like taking lunch breaks, at least when running on the particular combination of MacBook Pro, Mbox 2 Pro, and Western Digitalhard drive that I’m using.
Following the directions to decrease the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine panel doesn’t seem to help. In fact, not only does decreasing the buffer size seems contrary to the suggested way to solve a buffer underrun, but it then sometimes throws this error message:
A CPU overload occured. If this happens often, try increasing the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine Dialog, or removing some plug-ins. (-6101)
I’ve tried a lot of things and the problem seems to be related to the hard drive and firewire ports. Here’s how I fix it.
Save and Close the session.
Quit Pro Tools.
Eject the hard drive used for recording audio.
Unplug the audio hard drive and Mbox 2 Pro (or the audio interface you’re using).
Wait 10 seconds.
Reconnect the audio hard drive and audio interface.
Restart Pro Tools.
Reopen the session and press Play.
If the session plays back without stopping, then it worked. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you, which reminds me of a “Deep Thought” by Jack Handey.
If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you’re in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don’t know what to tell you.
Hopefully this solution worked for you. Let me know if you’ve had the same problem, what hardware you are running and if this solved the problem.
Try to name an example of when common sense would have been the best course to follow. Certainly, you can. Every one of us has a good story about someone not using common sense. (If you’re short on examples, try The Darwin Awards or People of WalMart.) In general, following the advice of common sense is usually best practice, but not always.
By definition, common sense is not best or wisest, but merely common, meaning it occurs more often. Common sense is the collective set of norms, mores, and good advice to which statistically most people adhere. If we asked 10,000 people if lighting fireworks indoors was wise or not, probably some idiot would say yes, but most people would have the sense to say no. So common sense (e.g. the consensus of the majority) usually serves us well, keeping us out of dangerous and/or embarrassing situations.
However, the mob is not always right and occasionally an uncommon sense is superior. Common sense is what separates the majority from the idiots and geniuses.
When I was in high school, my dad sent me to pick up a large load of wood mulch at a nearby landscaping supply yard. He let me borrow his truck and trailer, which I had driven only a few times. As I was returning home on a four lane highway with the huge load of mulch in tow, the trailer began swaying back and forth, causing the truck to fishtail. As an inexperienced driver, I resorted to my common sense and hit the brakes. To my surprise, this actually made the situation worse. The truck and trailer swayed back and forth even harder. Pushing the brakes did nothing. I was completely out of control, being pushed sideways down the road at 45 MPH. The truck and trailer eventually whipped around completely and came to a stop in the ditch, narrowly missing a mailbox and light pole. The rear bumper was bent up and I was shaken up, but very little damage was done.
Obviously, my common sense had failed me, so later I asked my dad, who has driven with a trailer many times, what I should have done in that situation. He replied:
Slam on the gas.
His answer seemed crazy. Hitting the gas in an out of control vehicle was contrary to everything I had been taught about driving, but he explained the reason this would work. When I hit the brakes, the weight of the loaded trailer had pushed against the hitch, lifting the back tires of the truck up slightly. Since the tires were not well connected to the pavement, my brakes no longer worked very well. It was like pulling the hand brakes on the front wheel of a mountain bike while going full speed. To stop the trailer from swaying back and forth, I needed to get it moving in the right direction. The trailer needed to be yanked forward into a straight line again. Stepping on the gas would stop the swaying action.
That bit of uncommon sense held the essence of true wisdom. I felt like I was the Karate Kid and my dad was Mr. Miyagi unlocking the secrets of “paint the fence” and “wax on, wax off.”
“Show Me” Scene from The Karate Kid
When venturing beyond the confines of the common sense domain, knowing which end of the bell curve you are entering into can make all the difference. Hitting the brakes is almost always the right answer, but sometimes the best thing to do is to slam on the gas. Having wisdom is knowing when to ignore common sense, proceeding though it may seem crazy. The wisest people often look like fools.
This is cool. My inner nerd had to come out and dance for bit. This is video by Kyle Jones, a designer, animator and illustrator from Nashville. Check out his website here and follow him on Twitter. He decided to record himself playing guitar using his iPhone from inside the guitar. Genius. Rejoice with me, [...]
This is cool. My inner nerd had to come out and dance for bit. This is video by Kyle Jones, a designer, animator and illustrator from Nashville. Check out his website here and follow him on Twitter. He decided to record himself playing guitar using his iPhone from inside the guitar. Genius. Rejoice with me, all you audio and science loving geeks.
Because of a recurring communication problem I encounter, I want to draw attention to the difference between denotation and connotation. Definitions de·no·ta·tion noun \dē-nō-ˈtā-shən\ The most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings. con·no·ta·tion noun \kä-nə-ˈtā-shən\ The set of associations implied by a word in addition to [...]
Because of a recurring communication problem I encounter, I want to draw attention to the difference between denotation and connotation.
The most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings.
The set of associations implied by a word in addition to its literal meaning.
When attempting to articulate an idea, carry on a conversation, or express a nuanced thought, I often find others mistaking the meanings of the words that I use. Sometimes the listener becomes upset, indignant or angry for what they believe they have just heard me say. In response, I often become frustrated because the words I used to express myself were carefully chosen based on their definitions or denotations, yet the listener has heard me say something else (sometimes something completely antithetical to my intent) because of unknown associations or connotations they have attached to those words.
Let’s say I’m speaking with nice fellow who loves his connotations and I use the words ‘completely ignorant’ to describe myself in regards to something like… carburetor intake valves. This might elicit a sour face from the listener and a comment like, “You’re not dumb! Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I then have to spend the next ten minutes, trying to use only words with no more than five letters in them, explaining how, though I may not be an idiot, indeed, I am completely ignorant about carburetors and wouldn’t know one if I saw one. Unfortunately, the listener has made two errors.
He thought that I was beating myself up because he misunderstood my use of the word ‘ignorant,’ meaning ‘unknowledgeable or uneducated.’
He then responded by misusing the word ‘dumb,’ meaning ‘lacking the ability to speak’ when what he really meant was something like ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish.’
Use Your Words
This form of miscommunication is very common. It happens with all sorts of words, for all sorts of reasons. I have witnessed breakdowns of this nature so many times, that I am beginning to believe it is one of our fundamental human struggles. Misuse and misunderstanding of the denotation of words is often the primary cause of our frustrations with others and ourselves. At the heart of understanding each other is the necessity for all of us to use proper words that mean what we intend to express ourselves and similarly for all of us to understand the words that others use to express themselves. In short, we should say what we mean, mean what we say, and hope for others to do the same. Though we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t.
When you get a chance, pick up a dictionary and peruse through the thousands of words it contains. You might be thinking, “Who does that?” Right. Well, I do and have done so ever since I can I remember. I also obsessively read the encyclopedia (an addiction now fed by Wikipedia) and can recite all sorts of facts that probably aren’t useful on a practical level. So, I may sound like a geek (I’ll own that), but we have a rich linguistic history full of words developed by our ancestors that they have passed on to us. We now have the chance to use these powerful tools to communicate with each other and future generations.
Isn’t that exciting?! Go ahead and roll your eyes, then let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Do you have a good anecdote involving miscommunication and word meanings? Please share so we all can enjoy an lol together. Remember: No grunting! Use your words.
How about Led Zeppelin performing “Communication Breakdown” live in 1970 for your viewing and listening pleasure?
I wrote about my disgust with artist statements a long time ago in this blog entry. Today, my friend Eric Wieringa alerted me to the Instant Artist Statement: Arty Bollocks Generator, a satirical web app entered into the 10K Apart contest put on by An Event Apart. I’m well pleased. If you are an artist, [...]
My name is ______________ and I’m from _______________. I like to make stuff. Sometimes I make things that mean something, other times I just try to make something pretty. Displayed here are several of the pieces that I haven’t sold yet. If you like a particular item, please ask me about purchasing it. I will try to answer your questions as directly as I can. Thank you for viewing my art work. I hope you enjoy looking at it. A kind word from you will probably make my day.
This is the recipe I developed for my first attempt at making dolmas. I wanted to balance the salty savoriness of the grape leaves with a sweeter filling of meat, nuts, fruit and spices. Venison is not a typical choice for dolmas, but it was readily available and ended up working very well. Because venison [...]
This is the recipe I developed for my first attempt at making dolmas. I wanted to balance the salty savoriness of the grape leaves with a sweeter filling of meat, nuts, fruit and spices. Venison is not a typical choice for dolmas, but it was readily available and ended up working very well. Because venison is a very lean meat, there is no need to drain the burger. Lamb, beef, or bison would make good substitutes, but the lamb and beef would probably need to be drained.
50 grape leaves – canned in brine
1 C brown rice – short grain
2 C water
1 T butter
1 lb. venison burger – Lamb, beef or bison can be substituted.
Place rice, water and butter in a covered sauce pan over high heat. Boil under tender. Set aside.
Combine burger, nuts, dates, olives, garlic, onion, chives, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, coriander, cumin and olive oil in a skillet. Brown over medium high heat until the pink is gone from the burger. Add rice to burger mixture.
In the center of a stemless grape leaf place approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of burger mixture. Fold the bottom of the leaf up, the top of the leaf down, the right side over to the left, and then roll tightly to the left. Place the rolled leaf in a non-greased pan. Repeat the filling and rolling process until either out of meat or grape leaves.
Cover pan with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Baking longer makes for a more tender grape leaf, while a shorter time gives the leaf more of a chewy bite.
To finish, sprinkle lemon juice over the dolmas and top with crumbled feta. Serve warm with hummus and veggies, tabbouleh and pita bread. Makes approximately 50 dolmas.
When’s the last time you logged into MySpace? When’s the last time you referenced that dying social network without making it the butt of some joke? When’s the last time you had a meaningful interaction through the site? I’m guessing it has been awhile. I logged into my account tonight just to see if anything [...]
When’s the last time you logged into MySpace? When’s the last time you referenced that dying social network without making it the butt of some joke? When’s the last time you had a meaningful interaction through the site?
I’m guessing it has been awhile.
I logged into my account tonight just to see if anything had happened in the last 6 months that I should know about. Finding nothing of any significance, I began pruning my profile. Now if you visit my page (which I don’t recommend you do), you’ll see that there’s nothing left but a photo, my tracks, and a notice that says:
MySpace is dead. For more about Scott Troyer visit: http://scotttroyer.com
Why haven’t I cancelled my account? Well, I maintain a MySpace profile simply because when booking shows some venues still ask for a MySpace link. At one time (approximately the fall of 1945) this made sense because there were very few places that bands could easily create a page and post their music for people to hear. Now, there are so many sites like Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter, BandCamp, CDbaby, NoiseTrade, Vimeo, Tumblr, WordPress, iTunes…the list goes on and on…that allow musicians to create profiles and stay in touch with fans in much better ways. While it is true that these new networks are not perfect, they’re far superior to the horrible experience that MySpace offers.
Plea To Venues
Please, stop asking for MySpace links. Let’s party like it’s 2099, not 1999. The entire Internet wants to move on. Even my Grandma has figured out Facebook. You should too. It doesn’t matter how big or cool MySpace once was, sometimes you just have to let things go.
Plea to Fans
Quit MySpace. Seriously. Don’t just leave your data lying around on the Internet. Do you want creepers or future employers finding the pictures, posts, and comments you and some of your MySpace “friends” made 4 years ago? Go here to cancel your account. Then follow your favorite artists on other networks.
Plea to Musicians
Ask venues and fans to quit MySpace. There is power in numbers. Let’s unite and make the world a better place. If not for yourself, do it for the children.
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on [...]
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on the action by clicking here: http://bit.ly/scottsEP
To sweeten the deal, I’ve decided that the lucky winner of Stevan’s promotion will also receive a free signed copy of my upcoming album All Is Sideways (release info TBA), along with any other related swag that comes along with the album release. Fun times!
Download the Album Now My EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York is now available on iTunes. Sweet. Click this little button. Rate the Album and Write a Review Below this list of tracks is a convenient little spot where you can give my album some stars and write a little bit about the songs. [...]
My EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York is now available on iTunes. Sweet. Click this little button.
Rate the Album and Write a Review
Below this list of tracks is a convenient little spot where you can give my album some stars and write a little bit about the songs. If you have a little time, please give the album 5 stars and leave your kindest words. Thanks!
Down of the left hand side of the page, there’s a little link that says “Alert Me.” Click that and iTunes will notify you of any new tracks I upload as soon as they become available on iTunes.
To keep people thinking and doing something about the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve setup something I’m calling Download & Donate. The idea is this: download a free song of mine and then donate to a relief charity that’s working to put Japan back together. No catch. One act of good [...]
To keep people thinking and doing something about the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve setup something I’m calling Download & Donate. The idea is this: download a free song of mine and then donate to a relief charity that’s working to put Japan back together. No catch. One act of good will to help inspire another act of good will.
To get started, simply download the FREE MP3 of my song “A Tragic Story” by clicking the album cover. The ZIP file should begin downloading immediately. If not, right-click and save the file. Let me know if you have trouble downloading.
Help our fellow humans in Japan by donating to one of the reliable charity/relief organizations listed on this page Google has compiled. The link will take you to http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html.
Thank you for your donation!
The Tragic Story Behind “A Tragic Story”
In the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina ripped up the southern states on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, many people were talking about what to do, what should’ve been done, and how they would have handled things differently. I overheard conversations and debates, in which both the victims and repairers of this tragic story were criticized for every decision, word, thought, and effort. From the safety of comfortable living rooms, self-righteous judgements were freely doled out by “armchair experts” watching the action unfold on the evening news via large screen televisions. Condescending words were spoken about the “foolish” residents that made their home below sea level in New Orleans, the “short-sighted” poor that didn’t prepare for such obvious disaster, the “disobedient” stranded that did not, could not, or would not evacuate, the “welfare hand out” dependent that had no family to turn to, and the “whiny” beggars that had lost everything. Harsh judgements were also placed upon the leaders at all levels of governance that suddenly found themselves at the helm of a rescue operation for one of the largest natural disasters the United States has ever faced. A hurricane had pummeled millions of our fellow citizens and we were kicking them while they were down. I felt ashamed to be an American.
Though the hurricane had died in August of 2005, just days after its own birth, the storm continued to rage on around me and within me. Out of this terrible noise of argument, bigotry, hatred, and judgment came the song, “A Tragic Story,” as featured on my debut EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York.
At first, I resisted writing about these events. I’m terribly afraid of how others perceive me (a paralyzing character flaw that often impedes my forward progress). I feared I might write horrible lyrics that sounded sappy, opportunistic, topically trendy, or tragically ironic. (Maybe I did?) Multiple times I caught myself toying with a lyric or composing a melody in my head that somehow dealt with Hurricane Katrina, but every time I intentionally cast them back. It seemed that no matter how hard I fought the urge, the song kept fighting back.
On July 15th of 2006, nearly a year after the hurricane, I could keep the song contained no longer and found myself writing the music and lyrics for “Katrina” (as the song was originally titled). Once I finally gave in to the process, the songwriting happened quickly. Below are the lyrics of that final struggle. You can listen to the track via this SoundCloud player as you read along.
Old faces, restless broken souls
All these old faces and young ones without homes
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall,
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
and He’s watching us now.
“Oh, what a tragic story!
But only they can be blamed.
But oh, what a different song we should have sang
when the floodwaters came.”
Don’t wait to give them higher ground.
No, don’t you wait to feed their hungry mouths.
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
and He’s watching us now.
“Oh, what a tragic story!
But here’s what we would have done.
But oh, what a different song we will sing
when the floodwaters come.”
Rescue the tired, the sick and depressed.
Give them, give them your very best.
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
Though the waters rise and our spirits fail
the Lord our God, He is with us all the while
and He shall prevail.
I don’t know what you believe about God, whether you believe that He exists or not, gets involved in our lives or doesn’t. But I do know that we are all related (that’s Biblical and scientific), so it does us no good to stand by while our brothers and sisters struggle. My hope is that we move forward with humility, recognizing all human beings as people, that handed a different set of circumstances, could very well be us. Or as it has been said, so very poetically, many times before:
“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
One day the waters will rise. One day the floods will come to us. Our troubles may not come in the form of a hurricane, but we are certain to face trials some day. I hope that when that day comes, someone will come and rescue me.
THE ROAD from Road of Resistance on Vimeo. My friend Jared told me about this video called “The Road” that his friends put together. Four guys traveled to Burma (officially known as the Union of Myanmar) in 2006 to document the atrocious acts of genocide being carried out by the Burmese government against the Karen [...]
My friend Jared told me about this video called “The Road” that his friends put together. Four guys traveled to Burma (officially known as the Union of Myanmar) in 2006 to document the atrocious acts of genocide being carried out by the Burmese government against the Karen people. I could warn you about the graphic nature of this video, but the whole point of the film is to expose the evil that is happening. While some of the things shown in this video may be visually offensive, the fact remains that real people are being systematically tortured, raped, and murdered. Like the filmmakers stated, I hope that this film disturbs, keeps you up at night, and moves you to action.
While this story may seem like a problem far, far away, I’ve learned that problems like this are never just someone else’s problem. Much like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan is cause for concern for us here in the U.S., so too is the genocide in Burma “our problem.” This is true for us if for no other reason than if and when we find ourselves in the midst of such troubles someday. Personally, I find the genocide in Burma of particular interest for a couple reasons.
A Thailand Connection
Burma directly neighbors Thailand, a country I visited in 2004. The things I saw there changed my outlook on life. I hardly dare to write of some of the events I witnessed during the short 9 days I was there. While Thailand has myriad challenges to overcome, the connection to Thailand for the Karen people is crucial. Thailand is a gateway in and out of Burma.
Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is sort of my hometown, is also home to the largest population of Burmese refugees. Fort Wayne (or Little Burma) has become the unofficial new home of the Karen people. They have come to Northeast Indiana to find refuge and escape what is happening on the other side of the world, yet many of them still have friends and family back in Burma. Real people with enormous hurts, needs, and struggles from exotic lands far away are living right here in the Midwest, but many of us have little knowledge of what they are running from or even that they have come here to live.
Action in Fort Wayne
I urge, the citizens of the greater Fort Wayne area, my neighbors, to act with compassion for these displaced refugees. We have a huge opportunity to love, support, and help a people group that has escaped extermination only to be ignored. We may not be able to fight battles in Burma, but we certainly can help those that have come here. On this blog post, I want to compile a list of programs, services, and ministries that aim to help the local Karen people. If you know of an outreach, volunteer opportunity, or fundraiser, please leave a link in the comments below and I’ll include it as an update to this blog post.
NOTE:Please do not leave a comment below if you are an ignorant, ethnocentric bigot. You can try to post racist comments if you want, but I simply won’t publish your stupidity. I recommend leaving the U.S. at least once before making generalized statements about foreigners/immigrants (and no, Spring break in Cancun doesn’t count).
Links & Ways to Get Involved
I’ll update this post by linking and embedding related resources here. I cannot verify the quality or reliability of these links, but offer them as a resource. If you have a good link or resource, please leave a message in the comments. Thank you!
Fort Wayne Baptist Church – Mission to the Burmese
The Burmese Advocacy Center, 501(c)3 Not-for-Profit, was formed in February of 2008 by an assemblage of individual volunteers who had consistently given their time to assist the growing Burmese population of Fort Wayne but were also aware of the need for a combined and united effort to better serve their community. The Burmese Advocacy Center provides free translation and interpretation assistance to Burmese residents for essential appointments and documents. In addition a variety of classes and information sessions will be held to help Burmese residents become confident and productive residents of Fort Wayne. Call for current schedule. The Burmese Advocacy Center also provides free cultural education to businesses, agencies, and other community groups.
Friends of Burma grew out of a very meaningful experience Neil and Diana Sowards had when they visited Burma in 1985. Neil’s parents had worked in Burma as missionaries for over 30 years but he had never visited there. Friends of Burma is dedicated to helping the Christians of Burma in whatever way they want to be helped. About 80% of the Protestants are Baptists, so much of our work is with the Baptists. Friends of Burma was first attached to First Baptist Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana and then to South Wayne Baptist Church. Christians number about 11/2 million in a country of about 50 million, most of whom are Buddhist. Evangelistic Christianity came to Burma with Adoniram Judson in 1813. Since 1966 no foreign missionaries have been allowed to reside in Burma, so all work is carried on by nationals.
Pro Tools hardware is either not installed or used by another program. If you thought that having Pro Tools 9 installed meant no more “Hey, Mr. Engineer Genius, where’s your fancy hardware?” errors, then this nagging error probably came as a surprise. It did for me. Since installing Pro Tools 9, my workflow has allowed [...]
Pro Tools hardware is either not installed or used by another program.
If you thought that having Pro Tools 9 installed meant no more “Hey, Mr. Engineer Genius, where’s your fancy hardware?” errors, then this nagging error probably came as a surprise. It did for me. Since installing Pro Tools 9, my workflow has allowed me to jump around from my Mbox 2 Pro, Mbox 2 Micro, and MacBook Pro’s built-in sound card. This has been really handy while trying to finish up my album on the road. But, apparently, all that hardware hopping can cause the playback engine to get stuck in some funky states that don’t so work –if at all. See my previous post “FIX: Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value” for a similar issue.
Obviously, the problem has something to do with the playback engine. Since the error dialog only offers an ‘OK’ button, which closes Pro Tools, there doesn’t seem to be a way to work around the problem. There is not even a way to know what hardware Pro Tools is expecting.
I found a simple solution via this Sweetwater forum. The answer given there details how to get Pro Tools running on a PC, but I found that it worked for Macs too and without having to install any drivers. The fix is kind of like booting Pro Tools in safe mode. Simply hold the ‘N’ key while starting up Pro Tools. This will bypass the normal start up sequence and open up the Playback Engine window. Now you can select the correct playback engine and continue using Pro Tools.
In my situation, Pro Tools was looking for the last connected device (my Mbox 2 Pro), but since it wasn’t available it opted for the next available option: my MacBook Pro’s line input, which doesn’t make a very good playback engine.
Let me know if this fix worked for you.
This problem may have been fixed in the Pro Tools 9.0.2 update that came out yesterday, though I’ve not been able look through the 9.0.2 Readme file in detail or to test this out on the updated software. I’ll update this page when I find out more.
I will raise my head, open my eyes, and acknowledge the hand of Providence. I will resist the easy, inevitable sinking. I will crawl out of the quicksand. I will attempt the unlikely, which now seems impossible. I will walk through doors that currently are closed, but in the right time will be opened to [...]
I will raise my head, open my eyes, and acknowledge the hand of Providence. I will resist the easy, inevitable sinking. I will crawl out of the quicksand. I will attempt the unlikely, which now seems impossible. I will walk through doors that currently are closed, but in the right time will be opened to me. I will live with foolish hope and die with my hand at the plow. I will attempt to be, to seize, to claim, to grow, to know, and to share.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend David, a young and very talented musician/singer/songwriter, asked me the following question. Hi Scott! Hey, how many GB of hard drive space do you recommend for recording on a laptop? Thanks, David To which I responded: Hey David, The recommended practice for digital recording is to record to [...]
A couple of weeks ago, my friend David, a young and very talented musician/singer/songwriter, asked me the following question.
Hey, how many GB of hard drive space do you recommend for recording on a laptop?
To which I responded:
The recommended practice for digital recording is to record to an external hard drive instead of the internal drive. This is done for performance reasons. Recording to an external drive keeps your data separate from the rest of your computer data, allowing the computer to use the internal drive for the dedicated purpose of running the operating system. This also makes your recording data more portable for taking it to a studio and prevents trouble if you ever need to send your computer in for service (the recording data stays with you).
It is also recommended to use an additional external drive that serves as a backup so if anything goes wrong with a drive you won’t lose everything. So ideally, you would have two identical drives. They can be any size, but should be the same size. A typical song (2-5 min with 4-5 instruments with multiple takes for each instrument/voice) at 24 bit resolution and 48k sample rate will take up approximately 1-3 GB. If you’re lacking hard drive space, after the tracks are finalized the unused takes can be deleted, which reduces the file size of the song, thus giving you more room for additional songs. But as cheap as hard drives are these days, getting a decent sized drive shouldn’t be a problem.
The cost of external drives for computer-based recording is much cheaper than the cost of memory cards for hard disk recorders.
With all that in mind, I recommend buying 2 of the largest hard drives you can get within the budget you have. Remember, these drives should be the same size and used ONLY for your recordings.
Western Digital has good drives for reasonable prices.*
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself. The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me [...]
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself.
The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me to imagine anything different than the current set of circumstances. We grossly mistake the root of our troubles by demonizing a select few, whose ignoble traits are glaringly obvious, and which conveniently distract attention from our less conspicuous, yet equally ugly inclinations.
If we only dared to believe that life could be different and then acted on that very realistic hope. Though life’s grinding would not cease, its sting could be lessened or alleviated. Whether it be for the fear of change, love of the status quo, a lack of imagination, care, or hope, the problem lies within us, not outside.
If we wish to get better, this is how we must diagnose and treat the disease which afflicts us all: by believing that it must be fought and then continually conquered in our own hearts, minds, and spirits first.
Maybe this is the entire war? Perhaps the conflict is always within and only truly winnable there – never on the foreign soil of other people’s minds. Aren’t our own selves all (or really more) than we can control anyway?
Are we completely giving over ourselves to the notion of creating a better world? Or have we designated some portions of the battle as someone else’s job? Do we see any problem as someone else’s issue or do we recognize them all, no matter how grand or insignificant, as our own?
With each dollar we spend, smile we give, and trust we offer, we ultimate cast our votes in small, but critical measures for the type of world in which we wish to live. We are creating this world by the manner in which we think and do.
Is our world full of fear, distrust, greed, and anger? Or are we, by conscious belief and action, redefining a new order of life? Are we giving birth to something beautiful or giving in to what we think is inevitable? Are we proffering hope or hopelessly accepting that nothing will change, knowing that as such, we will always get what we have always got? Are we willing to accept the outcome of our decisions?
Modern recording takes lots of hard drive space. It’s easy to eat up several GB on a song of average length and track depth. I’ve filled a drive or two already with various recording sessions, Photoshop files, and media. Over the weekend I had to pick up another drive just so I can finish my [...]
Modern recording takes lots of hard drive space. It’s easy to eat up several GB on a song of average length and track depth. I’ve filled a drive or two already with various recording sessions, Photoshop files, and media. Over the weekend I had to pick up another drive just so I can finish my upcoming album. I went to the nearest big box electronics shop and picked up the the biggest drive with the best price. What I found was the Western Digital 2 TB My Book Studio LX. The size should be enough for the next year or so (let’s hope!) and the simple grey metal design suits my preference for the minimalist Mac aesthetic. Surprisingly, this is the first drive I’ve purchased that came preformatted for Mac OS. I know that some drives come advertised as such, but this was just a standard off-the-shelf one-kind-fits-all drive. Maybe this indicates a shift in the Apple/PC market share?
The only thing that bothers me about WD is their pre-installed SmartWare software. It’s a huge can of donkey sauce. This multi-function bloatware takes up over half a GB of space, is loaded into the drive firmware (so it cannot just be formatted away), appears as a separate VCD that pops up everytime you connect to the drive, and cannot be completely removed without voiding the warranty. The only option WD gives the user is to download two more software packages, one that updates the firmware so you can run the second package that allows you to hide the VCD. Blehhhh…
The whole point I want to make is this:
Dear Western Digital,
I like you and your drives. I like the design, reliability, and affordability of your drives. I can’t stand your SmartWare. Please stop making it. If you can’t do that, then please make it an opt-in thing. If you feel you really, truly, just absolutely must preinstall it (instead of offering it available as a free download), then at least make it easy to permanently remove with just one or two clicks. I do not want to download more software to remove software I already don’t want. Thank you.
A regular and loyal customer,
While removing the the VCD completely is possible and would be my preferred solution, doing so voids the warranty, which is extremely valuable should the drive ever fail. So in my opinion, doing something to void the warranty on the device that stores my invaluable data is a bad idea. Until WD decides that such action no longer voids the warranty, I cannot recommend this.
How to Hide SmartWare
WD doesn’t make it easy to hide the VCD. There are two major steps. You’ll need to download the firmware update for your particular drive and the VCD Manager. Visit the WD Product Updates page to find out how to hide the VCD for your specific device and OS.
Bad News First Perfect guitar tone does not exist. …at least not in a permanently defined state. It is always changing depending on context. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for guitar tone and the guy who is showing you exactly how to get “perfect” tone is either demonstrating his idea of a good sound for [...]
…at least not in a permanently defined state. It is always changing depending on context. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for guitar tone and the guy who is showing you exactly how to get “perfect” tone is either demonstrating his idea of a good sound for a very particular context or selling you something. Let the buyer beware!
I’ve seen a zildjillion YouTube videos and magazine articles in which an “expert” outlines in very fine detail the “preferred” gear or “professional” way to play/mic/mix. They have shown me how to dial in that Clapton tone, place ribbon mics like Eno, mix a hit song like the Lord-Alge brothers, mod my guitar and amp like SRV, and even dress like a rockstar. In each circumstance I think, “Yes, that might just work. I could sound like that, if I do everything else exactly the same way as Mr. Famous Rockstarpants.”
They have it right. It truly is the small stuff that matters. In fact, all these tiny details matter so much and there is such a vast quantity of them, that replicating such performances is nearly inconceivable. Every part of the signal chain plays a role – from player to instrument to amp to room to microphone to preamp and all the cables, power supplies, recording/storage media, surfaces, and recording/mixing/mastering engineers in between. Even weather, location, and moods can make a difference.
Needless to say, it’s nearly impossible to replicate that one sound by that one artist on that one record. So many factors are involved in the making of a sound, that in many cases the original artist that recorded it might not be able to make that precise sound again, even when given identical circumstances. (I’d like to point out that perhaps the very reason we enjoy certain sounds is because a beautiful moment was captured – something unique that will never happen again – and trying to recreate it verbatim would somehow make it less amazing. Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t very pretty, was he? I digress.)
“We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself while you’re doing so.” – quote attributed to B. B. King
And The Good News
Proper tone (the right tone at the right time) can be bought. You can pay for it with practice and critical listening. Good equipment is nice, but not necessary, as Jack White demonstrates so well in It Might Get Loud.
After upgrading to the newly released Pro Tools 9, I couldn’t open sessions or create new ones. I got this error: “Could not complete the Open Session… command because Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value..” I hunted around on the web and various forums, but couldn’t find a solution that fit. [...]
After upgrading to the newly released Pro Tools 9, I couldn’t open sessions or create new ones. I got this error: “Could not complete the Open Session… command because Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value..” I hunted around on the web and various forums, but couldn’t find a solution that fit. I found several items relating to Windows and Pro Tools 8, but nothing for a Mac running Pro Tools 9. After messing around a bit I figured out the problem was with my playback engine. Here’s how I solved it. Let me know if it works for you too.
Open the Playback Engine dialog under the Setup menu item.
From the menu bar select Setup > Playback Engine… to open the Playback Engine dialog window.
The fix is easy. Simply select the right playback engine. Your options may differ based on your setup.
In my case, I usually would edit with my Mbox 2 Micro, but since Pro Tools 9 gives us so many more options for hardware compatibility, I selected Built-in Output. I was able to edit some vocal takes using my Macbook Pro’s speakers instead of pulling out my headphones. Nice!
Here are few notable Christmas songs I enjoy in no particular order. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by NeedToBreathe If you don’t already know about this band, you should. They are like a mash up of Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons. So yeah… “All The [...]
Here are few notable Christmas songs I enjoy in no particular order. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
“Go Tell It On The Mountain” by NeedToBreathe
If you don’t already know about this band, you should. They are like a mash up of Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons. So yeah…
“All The King’s Horns” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan’s already a classic. Here’s a really sweet tune.
“A Cradle In Bethlehem” by Sleeping At Last
Sleeping At Last have usually put out a new Christmas song every year. They are in the midst of a year long project called YEARBOOK in which they are creating an EP every month. This is a rarely covered song that they released in 2008 and it’s a free download.
If you hate this song, you might change your mind after hearing this version. I bet the chord sheet for this song is a small book.
“Silver Bells” by Meaghan Smith
Here’s a Canadian that looks like Winona Ryder and croons like a song bird over a sampled track that kind of makes me think of that ridiculously catchy viral video We No Speak Americano. That’s a recipe for success.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” by Rosie Thomas
Rosie has created a lush variation on this old classic. I like this one very much.
Pomplamoose are Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. They’ve been kicking around on YouTube for a while now, but recently have gained more attention after being featured in a Hyundai commercial. They’ve now released an entire Christmas album.
“Stille Nacht” by Alfred Schnittke
Schnittke was a Russian composer that created this slightly darkened version of “Silent Night.”
“The Legend of Noël” by Doctor Octoroc
This is what you get when you combine the theme song from The Legend of Zelda with “The First Noël.” Doctor Octoroc released this song as part of the album 8-bit Jesus, a collection of video game Christmas mashups. website
“Jingle Bells” by The Barenaked Ladies
Don’t let this track fool you. They start off smooth and beautiful, but end up taking the crazy train to the end of the song. I’d hate it if it weren’t so well done.
“Auld Lang Syne” by The Smithereens
Another soft, then loud holiday tune. The vocals are really nice and the guitars are really fuzzy. Listen on iLike
“Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan
A video of Bob and friends having fun.
“Another Christmas Song” by Steven Colbert
Colbert’s take on Christmas music. Lots of zingers, but my favorite line: “Beat it into ‘em, boys!” I also like the ending; he makes sure we know who owns the rights to the song.
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” by Weezer
Classic crunchy Weezer. It should have been titled “We Wish You A Merry Christmas… In The Garage.”
It’s time for Christmas music! Some love it, some hate it. I mostly like it. But no matter what our preferences, every year starting around Thanksgiving (and now even as early as Halloween – oh, the humanity!) we are bound to hear Christmas and holiday music playing non-stop at least until New Year’s Day (and [...]
Some love it, some hate it. I mostly like it. But no matter what our preferences, every year starting around Thanksgiving (and now even as early as Halloween – oh, the humanity!) we are bound to hear Christmas and holiday music playing non-stop at least until New Year’s Day (and sometimes longer). So no matter where we go, for approximately a month and a half every year, we’re bound to experience Christmas music in one form or another.
On the good side of Christmas music, we might hear Bing Crosby on an AM radio promising “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” a claymationized Burl Ives wishing us a “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Ray Charles telling us that “The Spirit of Christmas” should last all year while Clark Griswold rediscovers old family films, Sarah McLachlan tenderly crooning a gorgeous “Silent Night,” or The Peanuts gang singing the melancholy perennial favorite “Christmas Time Is Here” by Vince Gauraldi.
And I have to admit I’m a sucker for Mariah Carey explaining (in no less than 12 octaves) that “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” I almost believe her. I bet you do too.
But on the nefarious side of Christmas music, we have to suffer through double-time punk rock versions of “Jingle Bells,” terribly over-jazzed renditions of “Santa Baby,” the latest winner of a pop/idol/reality show butchering “O Holy Night,” college choirs covering the panic-inducing “Carol Of The Bells,” and Kevin McCallister lip-syncing The Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” into a hairbrush.
Countless bad Christmas songs have been hastily fluffed like whipped cream to make albums that are then pumped into the public airspace in hopes of swiping up a bit of Joe Consumer’s annual Christmas music budget. Without taking an official census, I’d say there are probably 20+ bad Christmas songs for every good one. In short, there are a lot of bad Christmas songs. The Christmas music naysayers really have some solid exhibits and evidence in their favor.
The Worst Song
In my mind only one Christmas song can claim to be the worst Christmas song ever. I award that prize to “The Christmas Shoes.” You’ve heard it, I’m sure. It’s the sappy tear-jerker about the poor little boy that wants to buy some shoes for his dying mother on Christmas Eve and it’s the epitome of awful. Sadly, it’s been made into a novel (what?!) and a movie that I’m sure Rob Lowe considers a low point in his career. Here are the lyrics and a video just in case you need a refresher.
The Christmas Shoes
It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line,
Tryin’ to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously,
Pacing ’round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes.
His clothes were worn and old,
He was dirty from head to toe,
And when it came his time to pay,
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say,
“Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry, sir? Daddy says there’s not much time.
You see she’s been sick for quite a while,
And I know these shoes would make her smile,
And I want her to look beautiful
if Mama meets Jesus tonight.”
He counted pennies for what seemed like years,
Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here.”
He searched his pockets frantically,
Then he turned and he looked at me.
He said, “Mama made Christmas good at our house,
Though most years she just did without.
Tell me, sir, what am I going to do?
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes.”
So I laid the money down,
I just had to help him out
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said,
“Mama’s gonna look so great.”
“Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry, sir? Daddy says there’s not much time.
You see she’s been sick for quite a while,
And I know these shoes would make her smile,
And I want her to look beautiful
if Mama meets Jesus tonight.”
I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out.
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about.
I know a lot of Christmas songs could qualify for the worst ever, but I think this one wins for several reasons. I could rant about this song for awhile (as some of my friends and family know quite well), so I’ll try to make this short and sweet.
Note: My intent is not to criticize the songwriters or anyone that genuinely likes this song. I simply want to point out the problems I detect in this song. I am doing so because the song is insanely popular despite what I believe to be very obvious logical and theological flaws. I know lots of other Christmas songs fail in many of the same respects, but this one stands out above the others because it often goes under the radar as “a good song to sing in church.” Passing off heresy and consumerism under the guise of a heart-warming ballad is quite wrong on so many levels.
Why “The Christmas Shoes” is the worst Christmas song ever
The Real Meaning of Christmas is Consumerism
Ah, the Christmas consumerism machine at it’s finest! Finally someone has found a way to not only condone our consumption that makes it seem like the “Christian” thing to do, but has also capitalized on the concept by writing a song about it that’ll “just get ’em every time.” This is the primary reason I hate this song, and honestly, it’s reason enough, but I have to continue.
NOTE TO SELF: If you are ever hard up for cash, remember this simple song equation: Poor Young Child + Dying Parent + Sacred Holiday = Money Train
Why is a little boy shopping alone on Christmas Eve? Why didn’t anyone else in the song see a problem with this? Wouldn’t someone contact authorities?
Don’t miss the last moment!
If “there’s not much time” left for the woman, then why is the boy out buying shoes instead of spending time with his mother in her final moments? Priorities, son. Priorities.
Almost dead people have no need for shoes.
I know it seems harsh, but if his mother is close to dying from a terminal disease she simply does not need shoes. Maybe it’s the kind gesture or the thought that counts, but if she’s really that close to death, she probably would not be conscious enough to recognize a heart-warming deed from her son. Seriously.
Dead people have no need for shoes.
Caskets only open on the end where the head is, so no one besides the undertaker is going to see mama in her beautiful new shoes. That’s gonna be a real let down. And if she’s cremated, well… you might as well just burn your money.
You don’t take it with you.
Umm… I thought we were all clear on that. For this being a “Christian” song, it sure seems like some pyramid-era theology is slipping in there. I don’t know what heaven will be like, but if I had to speculate about footwear, I’m pretty sure that whatever we wear in heaven (if we even need any shoes) will be far superior to whatever mass-produced-by-slave-labor kicks the boy could’ve purchased with some change at the local big box store.
Does Jesus care about shoes?
The boy’s concern is that his mama look beautiful when she meets Jesus. I’m not sure where the boy is getting his information about who Jesus is and what he wants from us. Jesus is not Tim Gunn and heaven is not Project Runway. Mama will not be voted out of heaven based on her footwear. If so, those atrocious Crocs you just bought mama will not be winning her any style points.
‘This worries me. Make it work.’ – a quote by Jesus or Tim Gunn, I can’t remember who said it.
Adults Messing Up
Congratulations, to the adults in this story (the father, the cashier, and the narrator of the song). Instead of being wise and using this difficult time as a teaching moment, you helped an already poor kid waste his last few coins on useless shoes and let him convince you that his well-meaning, but half-baked plan is in fact the true meaning of Christmas. But the shame doesn’t rest solely upon the fake characters of this trite story, we the consumers actually bought this song and are continuing to buy it every year! Please, for the sake of future generations, stop supporting this song.
These are just a few of the reasons why I believe this song is the worst Christmas song ever, but don’t let me convince you. Judge for yourself.
Buy Shoes for Christmas
If you actually are in the market to buy shoes for someone for Christmas and you want to do more than just buy shoes, check out ShopToStopSlavery.com. My friend Robin researches products that are fair trade and slavery free. You can visit her site to find quality resources and good places to shop. That’s a gift that keeps on giving, Clark.
Many of us have a grand scheme in mind – some great plan for life with an ideal outcome that involves our friends and family. Many times I have heard someone say something like this: I want to be successful so I can take care of the people around me. If I make a lot of [...]
Many of us have a grand scheme in mind – some great plan for life with an ideal outcome that involves our friends and family. Many times I have heard someone say something like this:
I want to be successful so I can take care of the people around me. If I make a lot of money, someday I’d love to build a big house where everyone can come and be safe, someplace where they all can feel at home.
Indeed, this is an admirable sentiment if truly motivated by pure and altruistic intentions. Working to provide for the ones you love is noble, good, and worthy of pursuit. How sweet life would be if we all made this our goal! But please allow me to point out a nagging problem I’ve noticed.
Let’s pretend for a moment that this is your plan. You work hard (or win the lottery). You build a big house. You put a nice grill and a pool in the backyard. You invite all your friends and family over for a party. You welcome everyone to your house and say, “Please! Make yourself at home!” Everyone feels quite welcomed and kicks back a little more than usual. They feel comfortable in your own version of Neverland Ranch. Everyone has a great time. They are happy, but you are even happier. You’ve succeeded in creating your own paradise where all your friends and family are enjoying life in your house. The problem? You are the only one at home.
♫ Little Pink Houses For You And Me ♫
No matter how wonderfully warm you are, how inviting you make your home, how many soft throws and pillows fill the sofas, or how serene or exciting the party may be, everyone knows that this is your house and eventually they must go back to theirs.
In a related way, have you ever tried connecting a new friend with an old friend only to discover that though you love both of these people dearly, you realize they have almost no connection with each other? Think about your network of friends and family – the people you know from elementary through high school, college, and beyond. In your mind, put them altogether in one room. Imagine that all the people you are connected with on Facebook at your house at the most wonderful party you could ever host – everyone you care about in one place. Wonderful right?
Could your friends be friends with each other?
The trouble here is that you are the common thread between these two people. They both have a relationship with you, but there is nothing tying these two people to each other. In time, these strangers may become friends (if you pick your friends with careful homogeneity and/or compatibility), but often they will continue to have little in common with each other except for you.
I think that at the root of this great urge to have an amazing house that we can share with others is really a desire to create a space for ourselves that we call home. As much as we would like for our house to also be a home for our friends and family, what we really create is a universe that revolves around ourselves. We go to great lengths to make our loved ones feel like welcome planets and moons in our solar system, but they are trying to do the same thing. This battle for centrality of family and social events can get ugly with home owners attempting to increase their gravity (read: control) by building larger or more attractive environments. Though in doing so, we unwittingly might be creating larger prisons for ourselves.
As I write this article, I understand that some may interpret it as piece of anti-materialist agenda. Far from it. I have no problem with people building nice houses and spaces in which to live, work, rest, and share with others. Nesting is a deeply entrenched biological tendency not only for humans, but throughout much of the rest of the animal kingdom. Great comfort, peace, love, and joy can be gained and given in the act of building and maintaining a home. In the crosshairs of my thoughts is the greater concept of home, what we believe it is, and how we eventually express it through our lives. To read more about what I think home is you can read this article I wrote. I’d would love to hear you thoughts on this.
On the morning of August 29th, I (along with the help of fellow musician Katie Nelson) played music for the good people of Lakewood Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. We set up outdoors on their east lawn as part of their final al fresco service of the summer. The weather was [...]
On the morning of August 29th, I (along with the help of fellow musician Katie Nelson) played music for the good people of Lakewood Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. We set up outdoors on their east lawn as part of their final al fresco service of the summer. The weather was perfect (I was able to remain the shade the entire time) and we sang and played well, which from my perspective made the entire experience enjoyable.
During the portions of the service in which Katie and I were not playing, we sat off to the side of the makeshift stage area with our backs against the stone wall of the church. As we listened to various readings and other musicians playing, we noticed a young man walking by on the sidewalk, mere feet from the congregants in attendance that morning. As he passed, I noticed (amongst other things) a paperback conspicuously poking out of the back pocket of his jeans – a tell tale sign of belonging to a particular faction of the now burgeoning hipster scene. I leaned over to ask Katie if she had noticed this small detail. She replied with the even more insightful observation she had made; that as this young man had passed, he had swiftly, and without losing step, swiped a pen from a table sitting next to the sidewalk. Though he did this in full view of the entire congregation, no one seemed to notice.
“The audacity!” I exclaimed in my head. “How dare he? Stealing! …and from a church! …and in front of so many people! What gall!” Inside I could feel my well-developed sense of justice rising up. I contemplated hurrying after him to correct this problem, but decided the scene would cause too much distraction since I was sitting in front of everyone. Instead, I quietly sat there and worked through a logical progression of thoughts.
Calm down. It’s just a pen. No big deal.
But it’s the principle of it all! Stealing is wrong.
Maybe he has nothing. I hope he stole because he needed it, not just because he wanted it.
How ironic though that he would steal from a group that would have given it to him had he simply asked. If he really needed a pen, anyone of us would have handed him a large supply of pens without reservation.
Why would he steal from a church? There must be more to the story. Maybe this was a small statement of his perspective. Maybe he thinks that the church steals from people (a common and sometimes justified belief) and that he was simply playing his part as Robin Hood in this sad story.
The plot thickened in my imagination. “Oh well. Let it go,” I thought as I attempted to refocus my mind on the morning’s service and it’s over-arching themes of orphanhood, abandonment and adoption. (Apropos topics in hind sight.) Still, as I tried to engage myself completely, my mind wandered back to the possibilities of the young man’s motives.
A quote came to mind that I had read just a few days prior. The late comedian George Carlin once said:
I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.
I mulled over that quote, weighing its humorous pithiness, poignancy, and pride against its subtext of angst, antagonism, and atheism. Knowing that all comedy is rooted in tragedy, I wondered of the origins of this one-liner. How had it been given birth via the life of its author? What were the “causes” of this “effect?” What did Carlin experience to arrive at a belief like this? Was this young thief on the streets of Cleveland living out a similar experience?
Again, I thought, “Oh well” and pushed the subject from my mind. The service finished with three songs performed by Katie and me, followed by a pizza lunch on the lawn. With the almost-noon sun moving over head, the shade was disappearing quickly, so as most everyone ate pizza and chatted with each other, I hurried to wrap cables and box up equipment. While I worked, a friend was kind enough to reserve an entire pizza for me. After packing away all the gear, I sat down again in the shade of the stone church to eat a few slices, when suddenly I noticed the young thief coming down the sidewalk again. This time with his shirt off and skateboard under his arm.
I was surprised to see him return, but remembered that oft repeated maxim: “A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.” For whatever reason, the young man had returned and immediately I thought I should offer him some pizza, but Katie jumped first. “Nice shoes!” she yelled to him. He stopped and looked to see who had complimented his bright blues and yellow kicks, then he approached us. “Thanks. They’re pretty fresh aren’t they? My mom gave them to me.” We talked about shoes for a little bit, then I offered him a slice of pizza. He declined when he found out it had pepperoni on it. “He might be a vegetarian,” I deduced. I wished that I had something that fit his diet, but all I had was a pizza that generously had been given to me. Katie offered him some gluten-free cheese ravioli she had brought along. He accepted with a manner of indirect thank you accompanied by earnest looks and head nods saying, “Yeah, it’s all about generosity.”
Unfortunately, after a few sentences I was pulled into another conversation with some other folks, but I kept my ear perked on the conversation that continued between Katie and the young thief. He expressed his belief that “everyone should share together,” but that “the world and everybody just wants money.” His take on the local farmer’s market (an incredible market, which has some of the most affordable produce I’ve ever seen) was that the marketers are “just trying to take people’s money” and that “people should share food or offer food at a modest prices.” He talked about music, books, people, and church all with the same skeptical-about-everything-but-we-got-to-share-and-one-love-is-it-man sort of view. The irony of his thievery just moments earlier was not lost on me. I could tell that he had some deeply rooted anger, a very suspect anti-capitalist worldview, and plenty of sophomoric pride in his reading list.
As he turned to leave, he jabbed at Katie, “Nose rings aren’t very churchy.” Katie responded with honest sentiments about her experience with churches, describing religious people, the Jesus she knew, and the difference between the two. When Katie said, “I really love Jesus,” the young man agreed that he really liked Jesus too and added, “He is in my top ten people of all time.” Katie asked who else made it onto his top ten people list. He reiterated Jesus and mentioned a few authors before tagging on George Carlin to finished the list. I nearly laughed out loud. I wanted to point out, “That’s like saying your favorite books are Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Mein Campf.” I could’ve drawn a Venn diagram to show him the concept of mutual exclusivity, but recognized that rationality was not the impetus at work. He was a wounded boy striking back at a world that had brought him pain.
A Mutually Exclusive Venn Diagram
I dug deeper, “Where are you from?” He launched into a story about being born in Virginia, moving to Ohio at a young age, being drug to Detroit by his ex-minister mother chasing after “love for her boyfriend or whatever that whole thing is.” He returned to Cleveland when his girlfriend parted ways with him. Now he’s sleeping on a couch at the boarding house where his mother is staying. Katie saw that he was carrying a portable CD player and asked him if he wanted some CDs. “Sure! I love music,” he said. “I’ll probably just burn the tracks and then sell the CDs ’cause I need the money, you know. I gotta survive.” Katie gave him two of her albums as well as two of mine. He expressed his gratitude to us again with another obscure type of thank you and then left.
We spent much of that afternoon walking around town with some good friends. As we popped in and out of little shops, cafes, and novelty stores, the odd events of that morning came up in our discussion. We verbally processed the theft and subsequent conversation that took place, touching on the possible roots of such problems before moving on to lighter topics like “Which shop should we go to next?,” “Do we need to feed the meter?,” and “What do you want for dinner?” Towards the end of the day we found ourselves walking along the path of a local park just in time to catch the reddish-orange sun slowly sinking into Lake Erie. We paused for a moment to enjoy the scene before deciding it’s best to head “home” before dark in an unfamiliar town.
The path out of the park took us directly past a skate park. I scanned the crowd of young guys skating there wondering if the young man we had met earlier was among the dozens enjoying this extremely nice skate park, one of the many perks paid for by the hard work of the local “capitalist pigs.” I didn’t spot him, so we continued on. Just as we reached the street, I was surprised to see our friend the thief making a last second dash through the busy intersection to beat traffic. Since he had not seen us yet and knowing that he probably gets hassled a lot for skating, I jokingly yelled to him, “No running!” He turned to see who was reprimanding him this time and smiled when he recognized us.
“Hey! I listened to your CDs and that’s some really good stuff,” he immediately offered. “I liked them a lot. I burned them and took them down to the exchange already ’cause I need the money. Gotta survive. They only gave me two bucks though for all four of them ’cause they said that you weren’t popular.” Though severely lacking tact, I had to admire his honesty. Most musicians might run away crying after such a frank assessment, but we grinned and said, “That’s fine man. We’re not really famous, so it’s not a surprise.”
He then offered his assessment of the music: “It just goes to show that God helps those who help themselves.” I’m sure I gave him a funny look when he said that, because I’m not really sure how he arrived at that conclusion. How could anyone boil down four albums of songs to such a singular and contrary thought? (But then again, how could Carlin boil down the entire discussion of Christianity to logo choice?) I concluded that either our young friend did not actually listen, or though he did listen, he was so wounded that he could not hear. Then again, maybe what happened was a phenomenon similar to what the Beastie Boys experienced with their song “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!).” A tongue-in-cheek satire of frat boy meatheadiness became the anthem of meatheaded frat boys everywhere.
Recently, I visited Harvest Home Farm to play a show in their barn. Owners Mike and Becky Poulos share their knowledge and love with anyone willing to come visit the farm. After the show, they kindly sent me on my way with an arm load of food and a warm, cozy sheep pelt, which I [...]
Recently, I visited Harvest Home Farm to play a show in their barn. Owners Mike and Becky Poulos share their knowledge and love with anyone willing to come visit the farm. After the show, they kindly sent me on my way with an arm load of food and a warm, cozy sheep pelt, which I plan to sleep on during the crisp nights of hammocking in the fall.
Among the many items in the cooler of fresh-from-the-farm goodies were some lamb chops and wild blackberries, which I put to use in the following recipe* of my own. Enjoy!
Blackberry Sauce for Lamb Chops
By Scott Troyer
1 qt. Blackberries (fresh or frozen)
2-3 T. Honey
2-3 T. Butter
2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
1/4 c. Onion or Shallot finely chopped
2 t. Dried Rosemary crushed
2 t. Dried Parsley
2 t. Dried Tarragon
Cook the blackberries on medium high heat in a small saucepan until they have broken down and released most of their juice. Mashing them a bit will help release more of the juice too. Strain the berries through a fine sieve over a small sauté pan. Gently press the berries to remove the remaining juice. Reserve the berry pulp for baking or serving over ice cream, yogurt, cereal, etc.
Bring the juice to a simmer on medIum high heat and add the garlic, onions, and herbs. Stir continually to avoid burning. After the liquid has reduced to approximately half add honey until the desired sweetness is achieved. Continue simmering until the liquid is slightly thick (the sauce will thicken as it cools). Shortly before serving add the butter and stir until melted and completely combined with the sauce. Serve the warm sauce generously over freshly grilled or pan-seared lamb chops.
Makes enough sauce for 4-6 chops. Use more or less honey to achieve the right amount of sweetness. Other berries may be substituted. Wine can also replace the berries, in which case the recipe would call for far less honey. Most of the alcohol will be cooked off during the reduction process, so it is safe for children. Fresh herbs can replace the dried herbs and would actually be preferable if they are available. For a bit of showmanship sprinkle a few leaves of fresh tarragon on top of the sauce of each lamb chop.
*I don’t use recipes, but for the benefit of those that do, I’ve put this one together. If this doesn’t fit the MLA guidelines for culinary reference, I apologize; I’m a total hackchef.
The Problem Today, I had a problem emptying the trash on my MacBook Pro. The trash would begin to empty, but would hang shortly after starting the deletion process. I made several attempts to empty the trash (all ending in a force quit of the Finder) before deciding to pull all the files out and [...]
Today, I had a problem emptying the trash on my MacBook Pro. The trash would begin to empty, but would hang shortly after starting the deletion process. I made several attempts to empty the trash (all ending in a force quit of the Finder) before deciding to pull all the files out and move them back into the trash one by one to delete them. After several rounds of trashing, I was able to eliminate all but the single offending file, a partial dmg from a failed download of Adobe’s CS5 Design Premium. Holding ‘Option’ while clicking Empty Trash didn’t work. Renaming the file and then deleting didn’t work either. No matter what I did, just I couldn’t trash the file. So I began an online search.
After scouring a bunch of forums with various non-helpful solutions and scary Terminal command line code that “might ruin everything if you’re not careful,” I finally found the safe and easy solution in a free trial download of Cocktail, a shareware maintenance utility for Mac OS 10.4 and above.
Cocktail is an award winning general purpose utility for Mac OS X. It is a smooth and powerful digital toolset with a variety of practical features that simplifies the use of advanced UNIX functions and helps Mac users around the world to get the most out of their computers. Cocktail is installed at more than 200,000 computers world wide. The largest part being private individuals, but Cocktail can also be found at large international companies (Puma, Sony), educational institutions (Harvard University, University of Texas) or newspapers (The New York Times, Business Week).
Cocktail can empty the trash!
Fixing the problem was as easy as clicking the ‘Empty’ button found under the ‘Misc’ subgroup in the ‘System’ tab. Trash empty. Computer nice and tidy again.
I found some MP3s of sine waves at various frequencies at www.freemosquitoringtone.org. As we age, we lose our ability to hear higher frequencies and so these MP3s are offered as discreet ringtones for teens. Try out these tones and let me know how high you can hear. Audio Frequency Test Tones Don’t worry if you [...]
I found some MP3s of sine waves at various frequencies at www.freemosquitoringtone.org. As we age, we lose our ability to hear higher frequencies and so these MP3s are offered as discreet ringtones for teens. Try out these tones and let me know how high you can hear.
Audio Frequency Test Tones
Don’t worry if you can’t hear some of the higher pitched test tones. The problem may not be your failing ears. It could be the inability of your speakers, headphones, or soundcard to reproduce the higher tones.
So it’s a ton of fun to mess around with Mac OS X’s picture taking application Photobooth, isn’t it? Probably one of the first things you did when you got your new MacBook or MacBook Pro, was to open up that little app and try out all the nifty features. Since then, you’ve snapped hundreds [...]
So it’s a ton of fun to mess around with Mac OS X’s picture taking application Photobooth, isn’t it? Probably one of the first things you did when you got your new MacBook or MacBook Pro, was to open up that little app and try out all the nifty features. Since then, you’ve snapped hundreds of photos of yourself, family, and friends using all the warping and color effects. And sometimes those pics have turned out funny or cool enough to upload as your Facebook profile. Everything is great, right? Well, no. At some point you realized that sometimes your photos look a lot better in the preview. Apple was kind enough to give us a simulated “flash” to help light those dim homes we live in, but the flash doesn’t always give us great looking photos. If you’ve tried adjusting your screen brightness all the way down to black, you’ve discovered it still doesn’t stop the flash. Today, you suffer no more. I present a solution. Simply hold ‘Shift’ while clicking the camera button. Photobooth will count down from 3 and make the usual beep, but your photo won’t be tainted by that garish blue cast of an Apple simulated flash. Before (with flash) After (without flash)
Returning to a House Not long ago, Katie, Hoss, and I drove the 21 hour stretch from Florida to Wisconsin. We had been on the road playing shows and recording music for nearly two weeks. We had to hurry back to Wisconsin to drop Hoss off at his apartment before Katie and I headed on [...]
Not long ago, Katie, Hoss, and I drove the 21 hour stretch from Florida to Wisconsin. We had been on the road playing shows and recording music for nearly two weeks. We had to hurry back to Wisconsin to drop Hoss off at his apartment before Katie and I headed on to another gig in northern Wisconsin. After what seemed like ages, we finally pulled into Oshkosh. As we made our way toward his place, Hoss said a funny thing:
I live here.
I think we were all struck by how odd this simple statement sounded. Of course he lives here; this is where his apartment is. But why did he live here? That’s what seemed so strange. We had driven thousands of miles, seen hundreds of towns and cities, and stopped at so many places, that it felt completely arbitrary to just leave Hoss here, in this town, a town that looked like all the others. Of all places, why Oshkosh? Why not somewhere else? But then again, why not Oshkosh? Why would any other town be better? Why would anyone specifically call a certain place home? What were we returning to? Whatever it was, we hadn’t needed it for 2 weeks, so do we need it now? In that moment, ‘home’ became a funny concept.
Mom & Dad’s House
Just a few days ago, my mom and dad put their house on the market. That’s a big move (literally) for them. They’re empty nesters – at least when I’m not crashing at their place in between tours. They are looking to find something more suitable for their lives now. I’m excited to see my parents trying something different, challenge themselves, make new connections. Moving after being stationary for so long is going to be tough, like finally walking after being bedridden.
Being the child with the most flexible schedule means I’m most likely to be pitching in to get it ready. I’m awfully daunted by the task of emptying a home that’s been accumulating stuff for 30 years and then prepping it for sale. Maybe an “AS IS” estate sale would be best. Just grab the family photos and make a clean break! Haha. I’m also a bit sentimental about giving up the only home that we kids have ever known. A lot has happened there. It’s been expanded and remodeled countless times to accommodate a growing and changing family of seven. It’ll be hard to let go.
Matt & Natalie’s House
This week I’ve been chilling here with my brother Matt in Indy. His house is a place where any night of the week you’re bound to find half a dozen or more people hanging out, eating, laughing, playing, and just generally living life together. Though it’s just Matt and Natalie’s house, it’s definitely become a home for several people (and a few animals), as well as me when I’m in town. It’s a ragtag bunch of characters whose lives all seem to intersect in a little house in the middle of Indiana and it’s a really beautiful thing.
Last night, as Matt and I sat on the front porch of his house, we talked about the big stuff in life: relationships, careers, church, money, family – a real heart-to-heart brother talk. Naturally, mom and dad’s house being up for sale was a big part of our conversation. We talked about what that home meant to us and what home really is. It made me think of a scene from Joe Dirt, where Joe can’t understand that an old cajun hillbilly is saying, “Home is where you make it.” This is a classic segment from a very funny David Spade movie. Warning: Joe Dirt is rated PG-13.
House ≠ Home
Being on the road so much has changed my perspective on what home means. I know that home is not a house, a building with beds and bathrooms, because I’m beginning to feel at home in most every place these days. Being a traveling musician, I don’t have a house or apartment to call my own. I keep a storage unit for some of the music equipment I don’t use regularly, so technically I’m a renter, but I don’t have a place for me. As lonely as that sounds, there is a certain non-revocable freedom when you realize that home is no longer a place, but a state of mind. Home for me has become wherever I am. As Metallica so eloquently put it:
“Anywhere I roam, where I lay my head is home.”
– from “Wherever I May Roam,” Metallica, Metallica
As Matt and I were talking about this last night, I was finally able to verbalize my thoughts on ‘home.’ I have learned to carry home with me. Home is having contentment, completion, and rest – the feeling that I have everything I need, want nothing more, and am at peace those around me, with God, and within myself. Home is the knowledge that there is no where to go, because here is where I am meant to be.
While on the road, I often camp out in my hammock. It’s a great way to camp because it’s easy, fast, and free. All I need is two trees. When I finally have that hammock strapped up around the trees, a wood fire burning nearby, and my shoes kicked off, I lay back, look up at the sky through the canopy of trees and breathe deep. At that point, I am home. There is nothing more to do, nothing more to get, and nothing more to achieve. I am just a human be-ing. Home truly is where you make it and I’m learning to make it everywhere.
Note to Reader: This is entry is meant mostly to serve as a reminder for myself, but if you find it helpful, that’s great. I was struck today (while shaving) that above all other things I am called to love. That’s my job. I’m not a musician; I’m a professional lover. For me to succeed [...]
Note to Reader: This is entry is meant mostly to serve as a reminder for myself, but if you find it helpful, that’s great.
I was struck today (while shaving) that above all other things I am called to love. That’s my job. I’m not a musician; I’m a professional lover. For me to succeed at my task, I must love endlessly on the people I meet along my path. Nothing else should carry as much weight in my life as the understanding to love the friends, family, neighbors, enemies, orphans, widows, aliens, and outcasts that God puts in my life. In doing so, I serve Christ and fulfill his desires for my life.
I recently was in Orlando with my friends Lynn & Allison, Hoss, and Katie to work on my Christmas album. One of the songs that will appear on the album is “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” I’ve really been wrestling with the last verse.
He made me a watchman upon the city wall,
and if I am a Christian, I am the least of all.
In the weakness of my humanity, I could easily misinterpret the idea of being a watchman to mean that I’m an over zealous policeman, proudly standing guard over my society, all too eager to implement my understanding of swift justice whenever I deem necessary. All too often I find myself (and sadly, the church universal) somehow perverting my responsibility as a Christian to mean that I am to be the tattle-tale hall monitor of life, ratting out people, boycotting corporations and celebrities, enforcing the rules, keeping everyone in line with laws, doctrines, and my own interpretation of God’s directions.
This is the flesh speaking.
This is nothing more than the Liar using my base nature in a sophomoric knee-jerk response to add to the inevitable disharmony of life. What is truly ironic is that my self-righteous response is actually creating disharmony under the guise of Spirit-filled justice. If I buy into this, I am being fooled into perpetuating an “Us and Them” worldview that does not honor God. Like Peter, I am sorely mistaken that my motives are the desires of Christ’s heart, when in actuality I am being like Satan and impeding the work of Christ.
The only true conquerer of evil is to love like God. That is the message of Christ. To live a Christian life is honor Christ by loving others. Am I the least of all?
“Remove my spirit from darkness.
Love, become my hammer.*”
–lyric excerpt from “Ride A Black Swan,” Mary Star of The Sea, Zwan
*I found out that the lyric is actually “Love, become my heaven,” but I like my version better.
On a completely unrelated note, I found this link to pics of tiny cars. Makes me smile. I’d love to zoom around town in one of these things. The one pulling a small camper kills me. Link to the smallest cars you’ve ever seen.