Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Completely random anniversaries

 So many things going on this week.

It's my one-year anniversary at work.   Other than GRS, it's the only role that I can recall having that I haven't been looking for "what's next" by the one-year mark.  So that's awesome.  More of a challenge than I'd expected, but that's also exactly what's made it interesting :).   Great combo of awesome people, interesting work with enough leeway to make a difference, strong leadership, and flexibility to work remotely.  Solid win.

Then more recently, it's the five-month anniversary of my piano learning adventures.  I am also still really enjoying this one.  I keep expecting the novelty to wear off, but so far so good :).  I will admit I've become very lax about the lesson book and the "technique mastery" portions of things and am very much focusing on learning songs.  I do at least try to strategically pick songs that build skills on each other.   The songs I'm learning are still super-short but noticeably longer than the ones I started with.   The five-month video is here.  Be kind - I'm still a beginner!

That makes it about my four-month anniversary of you-tube 😂.  They switched their settings/rules at one point that super annoyed me because I would've structured differently if I'd known and there's nothing I can do about it now, but sobeit.  Definitely not the end of the world.   I have finally - I think - figured out the "right" sound setup.   Video could definitely still use some help, but it at least works.  Since I can count on one hand the number of people who view it, and I figure half of those are related to me, I'm not going to stress too much about the videography yet ;-P.  Maybe that can be the year-2 challenge.

And not an anniversary, but switching hobbies - I recently purchased a new pattern that was quick fun and easy.  I was super excited about an easy win.  Except that in the pattern it suggested a different type of fabric because of multiple half-stitches.   Now, tbh, I don't mind half stitches.  But I did think it'd be interesting to try a new fabric.  And how hard could it be right?

About that.  *sigh*. It is significantly harder.  What was my 'quick and easy' is the opposite of that now.  BUT - I get to learn something new, and it's a very pretty fabric (Lugana?  Idk - it's mostly cotton ;).   I do think once I learn it, working on this kind of fabric will likely LOOK way better.   I also have a GIANT project to start that I still haven't even started cause I'm slightly overwhelmed by it.  There will be no recording of that one 😂. But some day, a few years from now, there might be a completion post.

So this is two evening's worth of work.
With usual fabric, all the letters would be done by now ;)

A different type of puzzle

I go through phases where I really enjoy puzzles, and then when I don't do any at all.  Sometimes they're tied to weather, but really not so much.  The other day I stumbled upon one that I swear could've been made for me ;).   It's a book, a murder mystery, but the pages are shuffled.   I'm not even kidding.   I heard about it in random social media, of course ;), and went to Amazon.  Sure enough...

So yes, I ordered it :).  You can't be surprised.

When I got it I found out that not only is it indeed a puzzle book, but it's a puzzle book with a potential prize!

So if anyone else wants to join me in this adventure, lmk!

So far I've:

  • torn all the pages out of a book.   The first page was hard.   Like went against pretty much my soul to do so.  Unlike the pages of my cookbook which just jumped out of their own volition - as though they knew being associated w my kitchen would not end well ;)   Anyways - the rest of the distruction was fun and remarkably therapeutic ;-P.   Although I was about half way through before I figured out how to get clean page removal, so that was frustrating.  I would've preferred all the pages be pretty.  Ah well ;)
  • read a few random pages.
  • discovered the writing is not modern; knowing the background of the book, this should not have been even slightly a surprise, but it was.  I have read more centuries of the English language than an reasonable person ever would, but I have to admit, it does make the puzzle just slightly more complicated.
  • learned the novel has an unreliable narrator.  Of course it does.  I fewer than 20 unrelated pages, the narrator has admitted to killing 2, if not 3, of the victims.  SO there are either multiple narrators (plausible) or one completely unreliable one.  And either way, until the pages go together, it's very unhelpful.  And all in the first person.
  • realised I do *not* currently have the time for this adventure.  It will require some heads down hours.  But might be a summer deck project :)

So yeah - mostly just sharing in case anyone else is as amused by this as I am.  May the odds be ever in your favour.

Production 101

Right so, if you've been following the story, you'll know that my latest hobby (of 4.5 months now!) is learning to play piano.   In hopes that there will someday be an "after" for comparison, I've been recording videos.  Never having recorded anything in my life, this in itself has been an adventure.   

So it started with just the iPhone.  And that was okay, but the sound was really dodgy - it actually manages to make my playing sound worse?!?!  I mean, it's pretty bad to begin with, comeon...  Just not fair.

So then I figured okay, maybe I need a better microphone.  I have a good microphone thanks to 2020 and the work from home evolution, so usb to lightning converter and away we go.   Yeah no.  Not so much.  The phone just completely ignored the mic and went on about its business.  Fail.

Bought an external bluetooth mic that would wirelessly pair with the phone.  Worked great - once.   Then it would never pair again.  Returned that one and got a wired one.  This one is pretty good and makes a significant difference in sound quality.  Win.  You can see that one in Friday's GoT video (linked below).

Except...  The room my piano currently in has road noise.  And almost always the dogs are with me - Sasha pants.  Loudly.  And Tucker snores.  Loudly.  And occasional video-game commentary can also be heard in the background.  The new mic picks up all of it.

Okay but... it's a digital piano?  Like the app I'm learning from "hears" what I play from a midi-lightning cable.  This isn't hard.  I should just be able to plug that into my phone and get sound from there.

hahahahaha No.

Cute idea, but no, it most definitely does not work.  The regular speaker still recorded, but since the audio was now gone all it recorded was the sound of silent keys clicking.  And Sasha panting.  Perfect.  

I am not even kidding.  I saved this just cause it made me laugh.
And yes the screen is black; this was an audio-only test.

Dr Google told me that it would work if I used the GarageBand app -- well A, no - still failed, and B - GarageBand doesn't have video.   And I am most definitely not dedicated enough to record both separately and spend time merging.  I'm doing well to remember to upload them and that takes all of about 30 seconds.

So the keyboard has bluetooth; my phone has bluetooth; surely, that's a reasonable solution?   See hahaha above.

I did find one YouTube video that looked promising until they put in a headphone jack.  Like how old is this video????  Could we have some time relevance please?

Okay so then I decided if you used to be able to go through the headphone jack, why not?  I got a headphone splitter, sent one signal to my actual headphones so I could hear what I was playing and the other to the iPhone via a connector cable.  This one earned me silence.  It wasn't picking up what it was hearing, but it also wasn't picking up piano sounds.

Continue my Google/YouTube adventure and eventually discovered that to go from piano to phone, you need an in-between conversion step.  Well awesome.  This time, instead of just ordering more stuff to return to Amazon, I went to the local music store.  Well not the actually local music store because they have retiree hours and are basically never open when I want them to be, but the slightly farther away music store.

So first of all - it was packed?!?!  And staffed accordingly which makes me suspect it's often packed?  In my entire 4.5mth music career, I've yet to see more than one other customer in a music store, so definitely surprised at this.

Suffice to say I didn't bother with the DIY version, and asked for help from the first sales person I found.  Taking from lessons learned at work, I didn't tell them what I was there to buy, I told them what the problem was I was trying to solve.   And I say them, because this created quite the adventure.  By the end I'd say 3.5 sales people were involved.  lol the .5 was because one of them asked this particular person if he had any experience with X and he just said no and laughed.   But essentially between them, they had a solution they were certain would work until one of them recalled *which* keyboard I'd told them I had; being far from the most expensive on the market, it lacks any output other than a headphone jack.   And they were most definitely not convinced their solution would work that way.   Clearly entertained by the challenge, one of them realised they had the same keyboard in stock (Google says it's hard to find these days, so hence the surprise) -- pulled out the gear, set it all up, and ran a test case.   They were not able to test connecting it to a phone (something to do with having to register the product) but they were able to connect it to an amp, and were very convinced that if it worked with the amp, it would work with my phone.  It was also entirely refundable.

So off I went on my own merry way (withOUT buying any of the many many many appealing books of beginner-friendly sheet music might I add), detoured by the last store to return the many cables from my previous attempt, and gave it a go.

It took a little bit to set it up - a couple things didn't work quite the way the pdf manual suggested it would, but - it WORKED!  The only thing I can't figure out is if the volume is too loud, it sounds staticy.  Not sure what that's about, but I can accept it till the day I'm bored enough to do more googling.

So now I can record without extra background sounds and without my husband having to listen to my efforts ;).  A win all around really.

As for *what* I'm recording...  On Friday I did Game of Thrones - the Intermediate version (this is with the mic - for comparison purposes later).   This one is interesting because it was the very first song I tried to play, so it's fun to see the progression.  Also, the advanced version builds directly off the Intermediate (more so than most) so I'll continue practicing it so my fingers remember when it's time to level up.   This is important because this one took me a SOLID two weeks to learn of practicing daily.  Admittedly this was two weeks after a 1-week vacation where my brain apparently forgot everything it tried to learn previously, but still.  It was a one bar at a time adventure, and the parts that should've been (in my mind) easiest, took the longest.  Super frustrating for something that sounds super-simple in the end.   BUT.  I did it.

However, today is Saturday (or at least it was when I started writing this blog post ;).  So I needed a new song.  One of the next on my list was the Flowkey version of I'm Yours.   This was super-short and, I expected it to be super simple (I hoped!  I'm getting *slightly* better at analysing that by looking at the music ;) -- I chose it for a couple reasons: one, I really wanted a quick win after the pain that was GoT;  two, it's the first one I've done to really use chords and I figured it'd be good to practice that on something slow first.  Then added bonus, it was a chance to play with the sustain pedal, which I've only used a *tiny* bit in the textbook work.  I am not good at the pedal.  lol ten fingers is enough to coordinate without adding in a foot!   But it was short, simple, and slow enough that I was able to learn it quickly so I had something to test recording on.

Side note - I also learned I don't love slow.  I think it might actually be harder to make slow sound good than fast.  Fast may be harder to do technically, but it sounds way cooler with no effort ;)

So I just listened to Fri and Sat recordings back to back.  GoT was a way more interesting song, but recording quality is SO much better with the new setup; now I just need to learn how to play!

How it started vs how it ended: MBA edition

How it started: 

How it felt in the middle:

Full-time work and full-time MBA?  No problem.

How it ended:
I hire people all the time; I've never once asked their GPA.
Yet somehow, this made me really happy ;)