Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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Hi!

Sorry I haven't been on OPW for a week or two... was out of town for work and then working on a new music thing. Slowly catching up.

Anyway, I would just like the record to state that we have exactly one spoonful of Anne Mollo ​​'s raspberry jam left, and Matt and I are both fighting over it, and also deciding what final food is "jam-worthy" enough. 

It is (was) heavenly.

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Might I suggest a fresh warm popover? Absurdly easy to make, takes only about half an hour, and is the perfect vehicle for ... well, pretty much any tasty condiment, but butter and jam are high on the list. Here's my mom's recipe:

Preheat oven to 400°
3 eggs
1 C milk
1 C sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBL melted butter

Mix it all together until smooth (can use a beater, or a whisk) and pour into a greased muffin tin. Bake until firm, crusty and golden brown, about 35 minutes (but start checking at 25-30 minutes). Makes 12.
Okay, that was cute.
Karen 10/8
It’s the first thing that came into my head. “Honey, yoooo-oo-ee-oooo, send me...”
>>Might I suggest a fresh warm popover?

Oooooooh. Why yes you can! (NOMZ)

(Just left for a work trip, but when I get home, it's ON.)
 

Hey rone ​​​​: Did you ever get your f(x)tec Pro1? If so, how do you like it?

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Ooh, pretty. Looks like it is still unreleased, although I would not put it past our rone to have the inside track somehow. https://www.fxtec.com/product/fxtec-pro1-pre-order/
Nutty! I remember they were aiming for a July release, and then early August. When I went to their site it looked less "pre-order only"esque than it used to, so I just figured it was out. Pooo!

The space bar is getting squirrelly on my KeyOne, so I'm really eyeing that FxTec Pro1, gompy name and all.
Next month, they say, pinkie swear.
rone 8/21
I can't wait for the full report!
They will start shipping on the 29th.
rone 10/7
NICE! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.
 

Here are some random links I have saved for things I found cool or interesting:

1) Sean Ono Lennon's band, GOASTT, and their song "Animals." The video is also mesmerizing. It is clear that he is the son of two brilliant artists. If anyone's gonna have an unlimited bankroll to create art, I'm happy it's him. (GOASTT stands for "Ghost of the Saber-toothed tiger.) NSFW (bewbs).

2) Lizzo's Tiny Desk Concert. She has an impressively filthy mouth, but she makes it so endearing. And holy craaaaap does she have chops! She is unfathomably cute and quick-witted, and so comfy being in the spotlight. NSFW (language).

3) If you don't have time for the Tiny Desk Concert above, enjoy Lizzo's hilarious 3-minute parody of Anchorman. She's such a star, and her comic timing is perfecto. (I love the idiots in the comments saying "Um, she's not playing the flute here." No, really? She's not actually playing the flute when it has flames shooting out of it? You think that might be lipsynced? Thanks, Mozart.)  NSFW (language).

4) The "Satisficing" subreddit, containing gifs and videos of cake and cookie icing and piping... so soothing, so magical. It's visual xanax. 

5) The New Voice Studio run by Lisa Paglin and Marianna Brilla. I would give a kidney to study there with them... good GAWD. They say everything I have felt over the years, and I wanna go there and learn every single thing in their heads. Oh lordy lordy lordy lordy. After I win the lottery or something. The YouTube video on their home page (ya gotta scroll a bit) speaks right to my soul.  (A zillion thanks to Michele Grant for indirectly turning me onto them via this article about Adele and other singers blowing their voices out only to have miraculous vocal surgery performed on them, only to have them blow it out again, because they never fixed their shitty technique.)


Parent Update

In other news, we just visited my folks and had a really great visit. Everyone was chipper, we genuinely all enjoyed the visit, we went out to eat, etc.

It's pretty clear that my mom is mentally slipping... her short-term memory is really going bye-bye. She forgets to play the bills, and gets lost driving pretty consistently now, so my dad now handles the finances and drives her everywhere now, which I guess is not the end of the world.  But other than occasional short-term forgetfulness (she watched me and Matt eat english muffins; about 20 seconds later she asked if we ate breakfast even though she was looking at our plates, and she even took a bite of one of our muffins), she is pleasant, fun, on-task, engaged in conversations, and overall pretty OK. My dad is terrified, OTOH, and exahusted, of course, because he has to stay on top of everything... so it was nice to give him a little break.  Her blood-sugar is also considerably more under control, which is awesome. She looks and feels better, and she says she has more energy.  Her diabetes doc (the one who was delaying approving her  much-needed knee surgery because her blood-sugar numbers were too high) now says he'll approve the surgery in 3 months if she keeps up the good numbers.  The sad irony is that in 3 months she'll be that much farther gone mentally, she won't be able to enjoy her new knee and the freedom it affords her due to her cognitive decline. Dad worries with a fixed knee she may even wander on foot. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

This all sounds grim, but I'm still strangely optimistic.


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I'm glad your mom is cheerful and pleasant. Lizzo makes me so stinking happy.
OMG I love this! Hahaha!
Thank you for the r/SatisfIcing link. I use videos of relaxing things like icing cakes and other soothing activities to fall asleep to and it is very much visual xanax for me! Here's a link in return: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xrlaJ8egzs&t=329s (SFW) I kill the sound, personally.

Glad your time with family was wholesome and less draining! Sometimes things just click with everyone, and it's a good day. XOXO
Karen 8/21
Haven’t checked out the links yet because I’m at one of my coffee shop stops, and I don’t want to be ‘that guy’. Will later.

Over the moon to hear that things are (at least generally) better with your Mom. Of course, I’m sorry that the mental state puts more on your Dad. Though, if someone there can handle it...

I’m also super hopeful for something that you didn’t mention, so perhaps I’m missing a detail. With increased physicality, her mental acuity may improve. Exercise is great for the mind, as my stagnant and lethargic lifestyle proves. (I no can brain these days.) So... hopeful(ish?)
I have been thinking about your mom a lot. I am glad she is doing so well, all things considered. My mom had wanted to visit her if we ever got back to NJ. I agree with Matt L. - if she can get a little more movement in, it could make a lot of difference. You may also want to play cards with her or do other activities that exercise the mind. Every little bit can help.
SFM 9/11
 

(I wrote this on Sunday, 8/4. It's really long. There's a TL;DR at the end.)


Last night (Saturday, 8/3) was the final night of The Rock Orchestra's BeatleFest 2019.  BeatleFest (or, our event we call BeatleFest) is where our group of anywhere from 7-40 musicians play every single Beatles song (all 215 of them) in the order they were released, over a series of six consecutive nights. I equate it with running a marathon, but instead of running 26.2 miles on the streets of Boston, we're doing it on a tightrope. We do our damndest to recreate these songs note-for-note, as best as we possibly can without the help of studio magic... though we also really try to recreate those studio sounds live as best we can, too. 

Out of 215 songs, I'm only tacet (not doing anything) on about 7 or 8 total.

For the show, I'm the 3rd singer (I sing the unintuitive harmony parts since I'm a choir nerd). I'm also the "if you get stuck vocally, Jill's got you," and this can even be in the middle of a song. Joe might give me a look and I know to cover (or double) a particularly high part, or I might hear a harmony and notice two people singing the same part, or I might see that someone forgot to sing, so I jump to the missing part on the fly. Or we might have given a female guest singer a song that goes too low for her, so I'll double those basement notes to give her support. Backstage I'm also in charge of running/checking harmonies for that night's tricky spots. I absolutely love getting to do this stuff. It keeps me on my toes, and I secretly love feeling helpful or being able to fix stuff in a pinch... it's been a weird thing of mine since I was a really little kid. 

In addition to my vocal duties, I'm also the main percussionist (shakers, tambourines, maracas, casaba, etc) and one of the two 'aux-players' -- which means if there's an instrument we don't have covered either because nobody knows how to play it (see Indian tanpura and swarmindal) or everyone else is too busy to cover it (hello 2nd drums all over Abbey Road, or organ on Savoy Truffle), I figure it out. Up on my platform I have a billion nouns: everything from a drumset, a glockenspiel, soprano recorder, kazoos, Korg Triton keyboard, motorcycle exhaust pipes (for 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey,' and for the alarm clock in 'A Day in the Life' when played with a different beater), an Ableton Live rig (for the scant sound effects we can't recreate live, (like the animals at the beginning/end of 'Good Morning, Good Morning') in addition to the usual tambourines and shakers and a bazillion other percussion toys.

Matt, however, is the real MVP aux-guy... he covers all of the melodic extra instruments, playing everything from extra piano, bass, guitar, synth, bari, alto, and soprano saxes, secondary percussion, plus backing vocals when we need four voices. He's a monster!  It's a lot of fun going through our music at home and saying stuff like, "Wait, what do you do on 'Savoy Truffle?'" "I used to play the electric organ part, but now I'm gonna play bari sax. Can you cover the organ now?" "Yup! On it!" 

My dear friend from college, Stefan, who specializes in Medieval and Renaissance instruments and runs Phoenix' hella-awesome early music group Bartholomew Faire (of which I am an alum), flew out from Arizona again this year to help us play the Indian-based songs using his assortment of unusual ancient instruments. He played hurdy-gurdy on most of the Indian tunes (Within You Without You), and he also took the recorder solo on Fool on the Hill, and he even played a crumhorn (that melodic buzzy sound) on 'Baby You're a Rich Man.'  It was so wonderful having him stay with us again-- he is the perfect house guest: cheerful, low-maintenance, a late sleeper like us, funny as hell, self-sufficient, up for anything, friendly with all of the other musicians, and good for reminiscing, too. Anyway, I was sad dropping him off at the airport today. 


This is the second year of the event, and you can tell we've refined things a bit. From a personal perspective, I was able to streamline all of my percussion gear thanks to some new racks, stands, and rack-mountable versions of some of my usual percussion instruments, so I wasn't the thing holding us up between songs like I sometimes was in 2018. I also had more room on my platform this year, so I had everything I needed within easy reach, as opposed to last year where I had to (for example) drag out and then put away a floor tom or a snare and hi-hat every time I played them. 

I also added a footer to the last page of every song with the name of the next song and what I play on it... that way as we're playing the last chunk of a song I can quickly eyeball where my next batch of instruments are, and how I'll transition to them from what I'm currently doing. Why put the tambourine down if I need it at the top of the next song?

Performance-wise, Night 4 (aka "the long night") was probably my favorite-- that's the only night where we play 3 albums instead of just two (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour), though the final Night 6 (Abbey Road and Let It Be, as well as the singles and Past Masters from that year, e.g., "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)") was a very very close second.  My own personal roughest night was Night 5 (The Beatles (aka The White Album)), because I whiffed a harmony or two (in my defense, I was sight-reading one of them after I got a nod on stage to cover it), but it was still a hell of a fun night. Good GAWD how I love recreating 'Revolution No. 9' live. It's a riot!


Once again, like last year, I got totally emotional and lost my shit during "A Day in the Life."  Good god, it's an overwhelming magical brain explosion to play it live with a string section, horn section, and with all of these people I just love so much. At one point I took out my in-ear monitors so I could hear the sound with my 'real ears' and holy mother of crap, it's just stupendous. Plus, it's cool as hell seeing the younger folks in the string section fall in love with The Beatles. 


Physically, this year was a bit rougher than last year. I was getting woefully low on iron in May, and the earliest I could get in for an infusion was the morning of Day 2 of BeatleFest. I did BeatleFest last year sans iron and the crash afterwards was fucking awful, so I decided I'd rather get the infusion on a performance day and run the risk of playing percussion with a freshly sporked arm, because holding off was not a healthy option. Besides, the brain fog was getting bad, and I needed to be on my A-game for this thing.  Infused iron takes about 2 days to fully absorb, and I was excited to be feeling better by Night 4 (the big night).  The infusion went smoothly, and as expected, I felt better every 8 hours or so.   (Speaking of my infusion, I just wanted to jot this down so I remember it: I'm very happy to be back at the hospital's Ambulatory Infusion center as I did from 2006-2010 as opposed to getting my treatment at the Cancer Center as I'd been since about 2011. Contrary to what you might expect, the care is just somehow better and cooler at Ambulatory Infusion than at the Cancer Center. Sure, the Cancer Center has the therapy doggos and the VR goggles of peaceful scenes, but it's still somehow impersonal and production-line-ish; and the blare of TVs blasting The View or whatever is so fucking annoying and inescapable. Also, the Cancer Center's specialty is chemo, not iron infusions, and they actually do iron infusions kinda stupidly backwards there. So yeah, I was happy to be back to the infusion center.)

By Wednesday morning my brain fog had significantly lifted, and my skin sans makeup was no longer corpse-guppy-translucent. :-)

Matt and I both agreed that this year, our biggest challenge was being able to see our goddamn music. It's like in the last 365 days our eyesight has hit that tipping point where music on a stand or tablet is too far away for reading glasses but too close for our usual distance glasses. It might be time to talk to our eye doctor for musician glasses for that middle kinda sheet music distance.

Speaking of sheet music, my magical tablet worked out perfectly-- not a single glitch during the show -- and HOLY BALLS was it a total, total game changer. It's amazing not having to turn paper pages and instead just tap a foot pedal. I was in heaven. It saved SO much time and so many headaches! I kept my paper sheet-music binders on stage juuuuust in case my tablet exploded, but I never needed it for a second. Whew!

We went back to the theater around 12:30pm today to load out the rest of our gear and break down the platforms, and that was pretty sad.  As soon as we got home, we unloaded the car and then immediately loaded it up with Stefan's stuff and then I brought him to the airport. I just walked in a moment ago, and the house is eeeeeeerily quiet and calm. Nobody's rushing around, nobody's woodshedding parts last minute or getting music in order, figuring out what to wear, etc etc etc.  It's kinda nice? I think?


I am pretty distracted by how much my hands really hurt, though. They hurt during the shows, but the combination of joy + adrenaline made it ignorable. But walking off the stage they'd be throbbing. Right now they are still distractingly painful; neither turmeric nor Advil even takes the edge off.  A few years ago I bought a faithful replica of a late 60s-era skinless tambourine that sounds amaaaaazing, but also weighs about 98523823 pounds. Playing fast 16ths on that thing song after song after song really did a number on my right hand from having to grip it so tightly to maintain good control. My metacarpals are on fire as are the muscles in the meat of my palm. Holding things, turning doorknobs, and just generally using my fingers hurts pretty damn good.  But also just doing nothing hurts.  Typing sucks too, but I really want to write this all down, so fuck it. 

In May when we played "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" twice in one day, I strained my right bicep and tricep from that goddamn tambourine, and that's when I became a disciple of KT Tape. Starting on Night 4 of BeatleFest I taped my arm and it really did help tremendously (and had the added bonus of reducing under-arm flab wiggle! Yay!). I may try taping my hand later. 

In some screwed up way, having my body hurt after BeatleFest somehow feels good; like I have evidence that I gave it my all. I'm sure a better, healthier measure of success would be an internal feeling of the satisfaction of a job well done, but whatevz.

I've typed way too much. 

===========================

TL;DR: BeatleFest 2019 was awesome. My tablet rocked; taping my arm helped a lot; getting an iron infusion was smart; I fucked up my hands but I somehow like it? I love getting to make music, especially with these people. I can't wait until next year. 

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you are AMAZING. xoxo
Jenn A 8/6
Your joy shines through. Thank you for sharing it with us!
So happy to hear that things went so well! Sorry to have missed Stefan. Sounds like I may get a chance to catch up next year though, since BeatleFest doesn't sound like it's slowing down at all. :)
I am so proud of you. Congratulations on surviving that high-wire act!
Loved to read this write-up!

Can you take naproxen (Aleve)? I've found that it's the best thing for me when I've jacked my back, knee, or elbow and I need to interrupt the cycle of "this is injured, so it's inflamed, so it hurts, so it's inflamed." Two naproxen to make it knock it off, then another one naproxen 12 hours later, then one again every 12 hours until -poof-. On the stomach irritation scale it's more likely to irritate than ibuprofen but less likely than aspirin. Anyway I think it's the bomb diggity, handles swelling better than ibuprofen, and is not always on people's radar.

Did the City of Wilmington do anything to boost the event as a tourist draw, do you know? I think I recall after last year's success that there was noise about maybe they would do that.
Y'all were amazing, we're talking about engineering it so we can see a weeknight next year. And of course there will be a next year... Right?

Regarding distance vision, these days I'm wearing progressives. it's nice to get most of the benefits of bifocals but there's no line. I'm not sure if the range of options it provides would cover the case you're talking about or not.
I LOVE when you expound on your musical expertise. Love love love. Generally speaking I have musical anhedonia, but your technical and functional descriptions light up my nerd soul like a Christmas tree.
You might want to look into an athletic sleeve instead of tape. All the compression goodness, plus flab compaction and it is reusable.

I owe a post about my vacation but I am too fried right now.
This is gonna sound like an epic humblebrag, but it is the annoying truth: I have tried all of the athletic sleeves I could find, and they're all too damn big. It's ri-god-damn-diculous.

(Insert 5th grade joke about going to Dick's and only finding things too large. Hhuhhuhhuhhuhuhh!)

In other gnus, I look forward to your vacay post. Hope it was spiffy.
Try shopping for a boy's athletic sleeve.
 

(I wrote this at 4:00am on Saturday morning.)


Hi, all!

It's been go-go-go land here, so I apologize for not writing or generally being more present or responsive. I have been reading here and trying to comment where I can, but that's about all I can offer for the next 8-9 days or so.


We are now just a few days away from Beatlefest 2019. It's going to be the same format as last year, in the same location, etc.

The biggest change for me is that instead of using three enormous 3-ring notebooks full of sheet music, I'm trying to use my new tablet that I bought expressly for this purpose. I struggled so much last year juggling several percussion instruments and having to turn pages, so I needed something electronic with a bluetooth foot pedal. I labored over my decision, and I chose the Boox Onyx Max2 Pro, 13.3" e-ink tablet, so it's crazy-light, and easy on the eyes, and displays a sheet of music at full Letter Page size that my 48-year-old eyeballs can read.  I've been using this amazing app called MobileSheets Pro which is everything you want in a music-performance device. 

Sadly, the app blew up last night (Friday night, just 11 hours ago) and I lost 4 days' worth of the notes I transcribed from my paper notes from last year. I am heartbroken. The app developer is ridiculously responsive, so he may be able to salvage some of it. I am not hopeful, but we're trying.


It's very late (or early, depending on how you view days)-- I've been trying to fix this since 5:30pm and now it's 4:09am (good morning, Jenn!). Today (Saturday) we core-band BeatleFest people move into the venue and get everything wired up for sound, and then we run a quick sound check with the core band.  Then the strings, horns, and Indian musicians come in Sunday to get them wired up and rehearsed.  

And then we start Beatlefest on Monday! 


In other news, my iron levels have crashed, but I go for an infusion on Tuesday (yes, a Beatlefest day). That was the fastest they could get me in, so I'll take it... and hopefully I'll be feeling magically awesome by Thursday night when I really need to be thinking clearly. It's remarkable how fuzzy my brain is when it doesn't get oxygen. 


Away we go!

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I miss you
I miss you, too. Genuinely, sincerely.
I can't believe your app crashed at the worst time! I hope you get something back!
Karen 7/28
The good news is that I got it all back! The bad news is I lost 3 days doing so, so now I'm 3 days behind in getting the rest of my written notes re-written into the tablet. Tonight (Night 3 of Beatlefest) is the last night of notes I have in my tablet. Nights 4-6 have no notes written, and they are also coincidentally the hardest friggin' music.

I'll get it done, though. Just gotta do it.
good morning! :)

booooooo to that app crashing, that completely sucks. but all that tech sounds so cool! i always wondered how people using a tablet for music turned the pages, didn't realize it was a foot pedal. i feel like i'm living in the future.
Jenn A 7/28
Yep! It's a bluetooth pedal! Some folks prefer to just tap the tablet which turns the page, which is still infinitely easier than turning paper pages. They even make a drum-pad that triggers the page turn for drummers.
 

My Blackberry KeyOne's battery has been bulging uncomfortably for about 6 weeks now. I didn't feel right bringing it on our trip to Portland this past week... I remembered that Samsung Galaxy 7 phones had bulging batteries that would asplode randomly and were prohibited on planes, so I took my cue and tossed my SIM into my previous phone, my Blackberry Priv. 

I looooooooved my BB Priv. It's a slim phone, gorgeous screen, has a slide-out keyboard so you don't even have to use the keyboard if you don't want to (though I always want to). I stopped using it because the battery got shot and wouldn't hold a charge for longer than 5 hours or so, which isn't do-able in real life. Worse is that I dropped it one time with it plugged in and janked up the charging port, so the thing only charges wirelessly. This wouldn't be a problem if it held a charge for a decent amount of time.

Anyhoo, I brought my doesn't-hold-a-charge-long Priv with me to Portland and just kept it in airplane mode unless I actually needed it... and HOLY CRAP how liberating! How fabulous not to be constantly interrupted with bullshit! 

I don't have the self-discipline to not look at it (even with notifications turned off), but with the sucker actually in airplane mode I was able to be much more mindful about my phone usage. It was painless. 

Now that I'm home, I still keep the Priv in airplane mode unless I need it, and my bulging KeyOne (which is wifi only/sans SIM) is in a drawer, and I only use it if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead. 

I made an appointment with a friendly local business guy to replace both "non-replaceable" batteries late next week... it'll take a week for the batteries to arrive. (Strange that he doesn't keep Blackberry Priv or KeyOne batteries in stock /s). 

Anyway, I'm really enjoying being more mindful about my phone use. My friends and family are puzzled as to why my usual speedy text reply-time is now delayed by half-days, but this was fine in 1995 and it's gonna be fine now. I shouldn't be that important to anyone. :-)

In other news, my iron levels are officially in the shitter. If I had more time, I'd explain how my iron was in the shittter 2 months ago but not quite shitty enough where insurance would justify an infusion, so we had to wait until I'm gasping for air like a goddamn guppy out of water like I finally am now. It's weird that I have to "look forward" to getting so shitty so I can get fucking treatment. I hate it.  With any luck I'll be ironed up before Beatlefest.  (Last year I did not get an infusion until after Beatlefest, which was a giant mistake.) Let us pray to the scheduling gods that they can fit me in within the next 2.5 weeks. 

In other other news, our trip to Portland to make music with Sunnyvale was amazing, inspirational, beautiful, and magical, and I'll tell y'all more about it soon. But now I must shower for I stink. 

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My iPhone 6s (shut up) battery started draining super quickly several months ago. I found that putting it in a battery-saver mode where it's not fetching my e-mails until I specifically tell it to do so was just what it needed. It doesn't miss text messages, though, in that mode, which is nice. Maybe you have a similar option on your phone? (Or maybe you don't want it!)

Hopefully I'll get another year out of the battery before I need to find someone to replace it. I like my phone a lot, but iObsolescence is really some of the worst obsolescence capitalism has ever seen.
Alas, battery saver mode isn't quite savey enough for my crappy batt'ry. Because we have such awful cell reception at my house, my phone (any phone) spends a silly amount of brain cycles saying "Cell signal, where are youuuuu? Oh! Look! I have some cell signal! Oh, and now I don't so I'll switch to wifi. But I better keep searching for cell signal!" Repeat and fade. So keeping it in airplane mode kills that off.

But if I lived in a world where Verizon fixed their cell towers after they got damaged in a hailstorm, then Battery Saver mode would be the perfect solution.

Yay for old phones! (No sarcasm-- that is an actual Yay.)
I miss my BlackBerry Curve 83xx so much, I took a photo of it and use it as my iPhone's wallpaper.
Okay, that made me chuckle out loud a little.
Generally good stuff, but...

>if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead.

Too soon.
No recognition /
For green guy's stolid straight-man /
Pursued by evil.
[ from Jeff Swanson’s memorial haiku collection. Evil is a season, right? When does it stop being Evil Season? ]
 

I guess I haven't been keeping up to date with my cellular network protocol lingo. I just always thought that Verizon's network  was CDMA and everyone else was/is GSM. Since I've been on Verizon since my first work-issued on-call cell phone in '99, I just always remembered those four letters (CDMA) as the letters I needed to look for whilst phone-shopping, especially lately for phones bought off Amazon versus phones bought from Verizon directly.

But apparently I'm stupid and old, because CDMA I guess is the old shit, and LTE is the newer/current thing... and Verizon is shutting down its CDMA infrastructure soonish.

If I'm understanding things correctly (I read a whopping one article, so take this info with a giant salt lick), CDMA is what runs the 3G network, and that's what's going away. If you have a 3G-only phone, you will be required to get a new phone. If you live in a place with sketchy 4G/LTE service that falls back on 3G constantly, then you'll have also enable WiFi Calling after 3G/CDMA goes away. And if you're someplace without WiFi, I guess you'll have to eat a dick? 

Verizon's new thing is VoLTE, and it looks like new/current phones need to be able to handle VoLTE ("Voice over LTE"), which also delivers their HD Voice service featuring unicorns and rose-scented farts.  

(I'm so classy today!)

Of course, Verizon will not acknowledge that their cell tower got smashed during a freak 2014 hailstorm here, and within 20 minutes we North Wilmingtonians all went from 5 glorious bars of delicious 4G service to maybe one bar or the dreaded No Signal Triangle. Repeated calls to Verizon and coordinated efforts by neighbors have yielded no fixes, but Verizon is happy to sell you a signal booster/network extender. 


I'm all about no longer supporting ancient stuff, and eventually ripping off the Band-Aid and forcing people to upgrade (*cough* she writes from her physical keyboard phone *cough*).  But I'd rather not be forced to upgrade to something where the supporting infrastructure is broken. 


So maybe it's high time to jump to TMobile or something.  I'm forgetting why I thought staying with Verizon was important. 


Sources: 

https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-218813/

https://www.fxtec.com/forums/topic/fxtec-on-verizon/#post-18556

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I am strangely relieved that eating them does not provide WiFi.
 

I've been getting hired to play a lot of percussion gigs lately; and these gigs require actual sheet music and precision. When hands are busy, it's hard to turn paper pages, so for my recent Genesis gig I used a tablet with a bluetooth foot pedal to turn the pages.  This was extremely liberating, and I will never go back to paper!

In the past, if I have a singing gig where I only need lyrics and not actual sheet music, my fabulous Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1" I inherited from Matt Lichtenwalner is the perfect thing. However, it's got a pretty big bezel, so it's just too small for actual sheet music that I have to *read,* like for BeatleFest. (I cannot memorize the harmonies  plus percussion parts to 215 songs, because the harmony I sing changes on each song. Am I singing top? Middle? Switching on Page 4 because Brendan has been singing a certain part for 20 years and so just for these two words I sing this other thing?)

I looked at the new iPad Pro, but for $1200, I couldn't justify it... plus, I really just don't "get" IOS. It's unintuitive to me, which I know makes me weird.

After months of research, I settled on the Onyx Boox Max 2 Pro, which is my very first e-ink device. It purposely doesn't have a backlight, because I find that backlit devices cause eye fatigue like whoa, plus they can mess with the look of the stage when you have a fancy light show goin' on.  (I can always use a judiciously-placed stand light that can't be seen from the audience if necessary.)  This Boox Max 2 Pro sucker is 13.2", so it's larger than a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper-- I don't have to squint or zoom to see my music. Yippee!  It's so much easier on my eyes, too!  And for making notes in my music, it's got Wacom 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity for the stylus, so making notes feels just like writing on paper, no lag, no bullshit.  

But what makes this tablet very different from many other e-ink devices is that it's an Android device that isn't locked down (runs Android Marshmallow), so you can install stuff off the Google Play Store to your heart's desire.  It runs Mobile Sheets Pro (my favorite-- and the publisher even made an e-ink version just for this specific tablet since so many pro musicians use it now), and has no problem with my bluetoof page-turner pedal. YES!

My goal was to buy a high-speed two-sides-at-once scanner, take my 3 GIANT binders of Beatles music and scan 'em in, and stick them on my tablet for BeatleFest.  Alas, the scanner I purchased for this purpose scanned lightning fast (35ppm!), but only if you didn't need to deviate from the defaults. The moment you wanted it to tweak any setting (a little more contrast, please?) it crawled to an unacceptable speed. Like, I would still be scanning my Beatles music long after BeatleFest 2019 ended. :-) 

I did a test run and scanned/imported my music for The Who tribute show we do (much less sheet music to scan), but I noticed that no matter which scanner settings I picked, I still couldn't easily read whatever notes I had written on my sheet music once I was viewing it on the tablet... which means I had to re-write 90% of my handwritten notes... which then looked sloppy because I was trying to trace over my original handwritten notes with the stylus. So annoying.

(So first world. I know.)

To Summarize:

So because the scanner was a bust, I will be returning the scanner, and I'll just import the original, plain PDFs of my BeatleFest music, and I will transcribe my handwritten notes using the tablet stylus. It'll save a ton of time in the long run, I'm sure.

I'm really excited to be able to use this tablet for BeatleFest. I'll have my binders there as a backup, of course... 

I'm also excited to get rid of that giant music stand that was blocking some of the cool percussion stuff that I was doing.  I know this tablet is large, but it's not nearly as intrusive as a music stand. And yay: hands free page turns!  Wooot!


There will still be plenty of gigs (mostly Hot Breakfast gigs) where I will prefer to use my smaller Samsung 10.1" Galaxy Note tablet, mostly because that smaller tablet is a full-color device (very helpful for lyrics) where e-ink tablets are obviously greyscale only. 

But it's nice to have the choice.  My eyeballs aren't getting any better as I get older, so having some options is really nice. 

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Tell me more about this Bluetooth foot pedal.
Most people's sheet music is just in a PDF, so these foot pedals are just a way to tell your app to flip the page.

Even fancy-pants sheet music applications (I use Mobile Sheets Pro, which is one of the popular ones) is really just a glorified pdf reader-- it just has easy ways to group and display songs into set lists and stuff, and has tools easily write notes in your music, zoom, crop out huge borders, too. You can even tell it "When you get to Page 4, turn back to page 2 because I have to take the repeat. Then when I get to Page 3 the second time, jump to Page 5 for the coda." That's all in the app, not the pedal.

The pedals have been around for a long time, honestly... I just never needed one until recently. The pedal effortlessly pairs with your tablet via Bluetooth, and then when you hit the footswitch on the right it turns the page forward/up, and the left footswitch turns back one page. They have a no-stick back so you can't easily accidentally kick it off the stage. :-) The cheapie pedals are fine-- no need to spend a fortune. This is the one I own-- the PageFlip Butterfly. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LIROF7W?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share)

Some people like their foot pedals to have a click so they have some kind of tactile feedback. I got a silent one because nobody wants to hear clickity-click during a quiet moment.

They also make pedals with four foot-switches, and you can assign from a bevy of actions you want to each footswitch. Forward/back, and maybe "back to the top" or "open next file" or whatever.

Forward and backward is all I needed.

I imagine a foot switch could be handy for table reads, or even transcriptionists, too.
Now I want a series of foot pedals for all my online reading and browsing...
It's the "Crazy Train" sound. :-)
 

I hate that women's clothes don't have useful pockets, especially being an anti-purse-ite (I just hate holding stuff or worrying about nouns). 

I am, however, a huge fan of infinity scarves (it's like a regular scarf, but they sew the ends together so it's a big loop) and I pretty much wear 'em on any day below 80 degrees.  And holycraaaap, you can get 'em with pockets! Eeeee! And I just found out about a nifty, nerdy, queer-owned Etsy shop based in Philly who makes 'em by hand, for slightly less than you'd pay for a shitty one from China on Amazon. And she'll even make custom-ones!

Speaking of queer-owned bidnesses in Philly, BillyPenn.com curated a list you can consider supporting this Pride month and fer always. (And holy balls, why have we not arranged a PhilaDel Field Trip to Henri David's Halloween?!)

TAKE MY MONEY! 


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For a change, I'm going to try worrying about adverbs, instead.
I love those scarves but not the colors.
Yeah, not so much with the cats and plaid.
I flipped to the "custom" order functionality and it looks like she welcomes a dialogue about the fabric.
Of course it’s all academic at this point, since wrapping anything against my neck instantly induces a hot flash.
Halloween overwhelms me. it's such a cool shop, but it's like jewelry overload in there. (i can't believe i'm even saying that!)
Jenn A 6/9
Y'know, looking at it, I kinda thought for a moment "Hmmm... I wonder if this'd be too much after 30 minutes?" Like, after Rare Brooch #937 you're like "Yeah, rare brooch, yup, whatever, great, ok."
There’s only one way to find out! I demand Halloween overload followed by South Street yums.
FOR SCIENCE! (And for awesomes!)
When you go to Lush, if you get smell overload, they give you a little cup of coffee grounds to sniff so you get a palate cleanser and can fully appreciate the subtle nuances of all their products.

(this doesn't help if you can't breathe)

What do you suppose this stuff uses as a palate cleanser? probably 2 minutes of QVC.
make it so!!!
Jenn A 6/13
I'm in! FWIW: I combat jewelry overload by only being interested in jewelry consisting of legged reptiles. Bonus if articulated.
I imagine if anyplace is gonna have what you're looking for, it's gonna be this place!
I love trawling through funky buildings. I could study this place like a museum.
Karen 6/14
 

Thinking a lot about D-Day today. The NY Times had a lot of really powerful, moving articles with gorgeous, haunting photos in it. 

I cannot understand how some assfaces can look at those photos and read the accounts and think either that the holocaust was fake, the photos are fake, that Hitler and/or Nazis were fine people, or any of that.  

Reading that there are only 3% of WWII veterans left (who are all over 90) makes me wonder how we can make this history feel real and urgent to younger generations who only think of WWII as some random they had to memorize for a history test once. 

You hear so many people say, "My dad fought in the war, but he never ever would talk about it." So any chance of hearing stories first-hand were probably scarce to begin with, and now are dwindling so rapidly. 

When I was in high school, I was one of those people who didn't care about history, but now it fascinates me. Matt's folks take tons of classes at Delaware's Center for Lifelong Learning, and in a few years I'll be old enough to attend (I believe you have to be 50, though it might be 55). Matt's dad has taken a few classes on WW1, The Great Depression, WWII, and beyond. He said he's learned so much from listening to these historians with a knack for public speaking/teaching. 

Anyway, here are links to some really interesting articles if you wanna check 'em out:

D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time. (The photos are unreal. There's this one shot of a bunch of bandaged guys waiting to be taken to the hospital, and I noticed one guy up front has impossibly great hair considering where he is and what he just went through that day. But then it occurred to me that his big, boofy hair that I consider "impossibly great hair" was WAY too long at that time. Matt's dad said you could tell how long someone had been fighting by how long their hair was.)

Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why. (This article is about how historians are able to piece together pretty detailed pictures and descriptions of a particular soldier's every day life during the war, thanks to meticulous recordkeeping. Some of those records were damaged in a fire, but what remains is still pretty impressive.)

‘Archaeology of D-Day’ Aims to Preserve What the Soldiers Left BehindThe title says it all. 


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Related: I also worry that the people with memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be gone soon. We're not going to get nuke deniers, exactly, but we could be in for a generation of leaders who just... need to try it for themselves. :-O As awful as Trump is, at least he dislikes war as a tool of statecraft. Unless it tweaks Obama.