Miscellaneous Rumbles

2020…What happened?

1

2020 has given rise to an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed about myself. Do you remember Mr. Toad, from the “Wind in the Willows” book? He was beset with uncontrolled manias about things. I have a tendency to become very interested in certain topics for certain amount of time and then leave them to go on to other topics. These topics could also be called obsessions or manias. This can get rather expensive if not tempered with some common sense and it can be a major time suck (not a problem during the shut down).

I officially retired in January and then a couple months later this Covid came in so I’ve been in a unique situation that it didn’t much alter my monetary situation. I’ve been saying that this shutdown has not changed my life much, but ...

In March I got obsessed with doing something with all of these spare parts I had lying around. I did a bunch of research and built myself a Tele and a Strat.

In April through May I decided that what I really need is a completely battery powered PA system so my little acoustic duo could take down to the river or to a park and play a gig (not thinking that that was unlikely). I even complimented this rig with a Smicz battery powered tube amp and a pedal board made up of pedals with 9 volt batteries. I soon went off this frenzy and sold the Smicz to Ethan, who knows what to do with it and I’m left with a nice Fishman Loudbox Charge, so, maybe it will be useful one day.

In June and July, my mania took a turn toward the manly. I decided (at 66 years old, mind you) to learn to ride a motorcycle so I did much research and took a Safety course, dropped a small Harley on my leg and moved on to the next enthusiasm...

the August / September obsession, ending my three year lease (6 months early) on my SUV and researching and buying a Mini Cooper. This turned out to be a good (fun) move (though I’m still in the honeymoon period). It is, without any doubt, shagadellic.

There have been, in between major manias, some smaller infatuations, a Dyna Duo Jet (completing a ten year long fancy), a pedal or two and much guitar playing.

Nov. and Dec. have been taken up with many small projects. Recording and mixing my band’s music, making my holiday log reindeer, comparing overdrive pedals, starting a Facebook page called Bob’s Daily Doodles where I mine the mountain of sketchbooks I have filled up over the last 40 years and post one doodle every day. ya know, regular Bob stuff.

2021, come at me! I’m ready for you!

2

At least you survived. Good luck in 2021.

3

A productive year on Parkwood====

Anything us antiques can do to keep the gray matter in good shape -- playing guitar, learning some other new skill, continuing doing something associated with our former professional lives-- all good.

Besides weathering Our Current Reality, etc. all I have on deck is upgrading the 2007 Subaru hatchback to about a 2015. Manual transmission, of course. And also few minor house projects.

As far as demented guitar projects - -the successes and failures both -- they're documented here in tedious detail. 2020 was The Year of the 9 String, 2021 thi 3/3 bass/guitar thing, plus another 25" scale bass. When stuff comes in, then other stuff has to go.

I know a guy who is finally downsizing from a collection of 35. 10 is the goal.

4

Bob, thanks for being you. Onwards & Upwards.

5

I couldn’t say if any better than MrTubs. Much love to ya brother.

6

Well, gosh, fellas. Thanks, and backatcha!

7

If I start researching a topic...it usually means the same thing. When I had to rely on magazines for said research, my wife immediately knew that bank account was in jeopardy. Now that I can do it on the internet, I can be much more stealth.

8

I was working on a 10X14 HO layout in 1980 when we moved and lost our basement. Now we have a basement again!

Lets see: boxes of HO stuff and a new basement and just putting the Covid behind us in a fresh new year.

Pretty tame in comparison, but I think I can work with that.

9

Great thread. I think many of us have been bemoaning all the things we couldn't do so it's nice to see a positive slant on things.

In 2020 I re-roofed our garage, partially re-clad it, made new doors for it, completed some roof work on another outbuilding, erected a greenhouse (including groundwork), helped replace some slates on the main house (I wasn't about to go up there), finally cleaned out the derelict pool (with Rachel's help; she was particularly helpful in relocating the 300+ froglets that were born there in early spring), restored and installed a vintage phone (dial type), started painting and reassembling the Chevy front end, made 3 batches of home-brew, helped a friend move house, helped another friend install a memorial bench, and so many countless other things I can't even remember.

I also completed 4 public sector tenders for work - the most I've ever done in one year and I did it mostly from home.

Yeah, it was a crap year by anyone's standards, but a very productive one for some.

10

I was working on a 10X14 HO layout in 1980 when we moved and lost our basement. Now we have a basement again!

Lets see: boxes of HO stuff and a new basement and just putting the Covid behind us in a fresh new year.

Pretty tame in comparison, but I think I can work with that.

– F107plus5

This was my biggest covid-19 rabbit hole. Built it for my granddaughter. Now I want to get rid of it to her parents so I can start on a new one. Rabbit holes never end. The other new get my butt out of the chair endeavor is I had a mountain bike restored and tweaked up. Rode it yesterday for the first time and felt like a rejuvenated teenager. Everything that I have heard, is that learning music or a new foreign language are really good for the brain. The other one I just read is that moving is also really good for the brain. New and fresh keeps the brain firing, but I don't think I'll be selling my house and moving in 2021.

11

Nice Bob, Keep the faith!

My wife is a teacher, kindergarten this year and teaches special education. She’s been in the classroom from day one and it’s been great, zero issues. I’ve been self employed since 1981, it’s why I don’t gamble because the entire premise is a huge gamble which unless you’ve stuck you’re toe in it’s not easy to relate. The last 8 years at the schoolhouse have been steady busy but nothing like pandemic busy. Our lives have been pretty much unaffected but I really have a lot of compassion for the folks that have been affected and we do our best to support them.

12

So many overlapping serial (and parallel) 2020 obsessions...NO, I mean interests. PROjects, right?

Like Bob, I officially retired in January - though I held onto a few clients and did a fair bit of remote tech. Also, I am by nature self-entertaining, basically asocial, and happily hermetic. Give me a shed to putter around in, and I’m good. Wail shoot (in my best Slim Pickens), I like the basement so much I live in one.

Which is to say that lockdown quarantine only permitted and reinforced my natural inclinations.

I was already well into a sprawling - if not spiraling (out of control) - pedalboard project when the year began. I’ve alluded to it often, but, believe me, the full dimensions of the mania have yet to be revealed. In fact it actually started in late 2017, with the late Gretschman36 as enabler and catalyst...

... but I really laid into it hard starting about February (during which I listened to a complete 53-CD Frank Sinatra bio while soldering and wiring, if that paints part of the picture). So one thing leading to another (and then 10 more), what with researching and rabbit-holing into technical and logistical solutions for problems of excess I indulged myself into, scratching my head for ways and means and alternate approaches, playing Tetris with incoming pedals and board arrangements, cogitating and ruminating and prototyping and even dreaming of myriad signal flow and board interconnect topologies and trial implementations, corresponding with pedal builders and the fellow afflicted, discovering ever further horizons in various pedal families (there is an end, and if I haven’t reached it, I at least see it), filling in gaps in my pedal experience and understanding of effect history...well, it’s kept me busy.

It’s also kept Reverb’s transaction-processing algos humming, and added to the loads on the USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Christmas? EVERY day is Kwitsmuts.

But, more specifically, the dominant sub-obsessions have been with category-killers (the ne plus ultra, most of the most, end-of-days, king macdaddies) in several effect genres - and fuzzzzz. (I spent at least a week trying 14 fuzz pedals in every possible stacked combination of pairs to determine pedal order for them. It took a spreadsheet, complete with a type-of-fuzz code and a numerically weighted preference protocol.)

For the moment (and I hope it’s lasting), I’m through all that. (Well, OK, one category-killing, category-creating monster pedal still to come ... and I’m a beta tester!)

Also appearing in Pedal Purgatory along with fuzz and category-busters: guitar synth pedals, Alexander pedals (I had none, now 5), Basic Audio fuzzes (oh Lord), and parallel pedal mixing strategies.

Other than pedals, there’ve been Adventures in Extended Range (the 8-string), thorough exploration of Baritonia (3 new and at least two likely still to come); tweak-n-mod madness (with 10 or so small projects still on the list); and the past few weeks’ deep dive into just-how-solid-or-not-would-be-my-ideal-guitar-if-in-fact-I-don’t-already-own-it-(and-I-probably-do). This last “research project” has included an ongoing self-seminar in centerblockers, kicked off by the Hag Viking bari (and its brethren). Just gotta get a dozen or so guitars identically strung, and I’ll be ready for (hopefully recorded) play tests. Then I’ll know something!

Lest it be wondered if I’ve actually played guitar, why yes I have! ALL these adventures have been inspiration generators, and more often than not when I hook up and play through the latest iteration of whatever it is, tones and parts and song ideas just come a-tumbling. It’s all I can do to keep up with learning / remembering and scratch-pad-recording them for further shaping.

But it would be disingenuous not to recognize and admit that all of this activity is, in some perverse self-sabotaging way, an elaborate ongoing act of procrastination against just getting my damn stuff recorded already, and presentable for public consumption.

So here and now, with the GeeDamnPee as my witness, I do solemnly so recognize and so admit. And in the way of a timely New Year’s Resolution, I do hereby resolve to stop playing with the toys and start playing - and recording - music. The interfaces are connected to the DAW, I’m a few days’ concentrated attention away from full integrated functionality of the whole fleet. It’s time.

But I tell you what: I don’t know how I ever had time for the day job. Sure seems now like it was a waste of a lot of good time!

13

I guess I should mention that, filling in around this activity, there was a lot of really good binge watching of phenomenal series, great meal-in-a-box cooking (and eating!) interludes with Cheryl, untold hours of saturation in science utoob “shows” (mostly physics, astrophysics, and cosmology), and excellent bike rides. (I might also have posted on the GDP.)

So - guitars and toys, a girl, food, sci (and fi) and bike rides (in no particular order). Pretty much the ideal life as I might have dreamt it at age 13.

Sure am glad I grew up.

14

Well, the year started out great...a bought Gretschocaster's Knotty Pine Roundup last NYE, then a Pie stop at Cave Valley, then a Winter Holiday in Arizona, then Friends from Texas visit for big Outdoorsman Show, a few nice neighborhood Social Events, Canadian Fishing adventure planned, then a peer from NYC came to visit mid-March for a week as COVID loomed...

Since, farthest from home about 35 minutes.

During our self-imposed House Arrest, I became a Hot Pepper Farmer, prepped the House for its first full re-paint this year, racked and shelved out the Garage while shutting down a Storage Rental, expanded the Home Security System, and finished out the Music Room...

In the Guitar World...a new Speaker Enclosure for my Acoustics finished up and stained, a Squire FSR Bullet Butterscotch Tele, some more sophisticated Fretting tools and a bit of fretwork, and a NOS Punch Factory Compressor.

I put my Home Recording project on hold...just too hard with the wife perpetually spending her days at home versus the old schedule where she was out of the house 4 hours straight several days a week.

She acquired a very nice Quilting/Sewing machine as two other machines finally died of old age wear-out with all COVID mask making, and since...she has become an Artist Super-Quilter formally known as "Sue".

I've been keeping up with Ethan (Powdog), few exchanges and a Lunch with Ric12(Bob)...soon enough we'll be back to more socializing.

We watched the first full season of Peter Gunn, and all of Narcos and Narcos Mexico on Netflix...both of those were binged-watched. Very well done.

I also succeeded in rectifying 3 different Dell 2-in-1 Computer CRITICAL failure events...Battery, Hard-Drive, and an Outlook Email Software glitch that locked everything. I'm still amazed I can figure these things out...they are a brain teasers, and I don't have as many opportunities as I once did. Good for me to be challenged.

I'm somewhat a Lone Wolf, I don't get bored easily...this has been a lot harder on my wife.

15

Bob mentions Mr Toad in Wind in the Willows, a likely archetype for the condition.

I think of Tristram Shandy with its cast of characters, each with his habitual hobby horse - and especially Uncle Toby, recreating historical battles (during one of which he received a groin wound) with miniature military figures.


Or as Andy Partridge put it in "Fruit Nut" (let's not make too much of the allusions in the title, shall we?):

Tending my fruit, tending my fruit
Ah, you've got to have a hobby
A man must have a shed to keep him sane

Spraying my buds, spraying my buds
Got to keep away diseases
I mix the poisons and the wife don't complain

Some people say that I am out of my tree
Or just a strawberry fool
Someday they'll see, 'til then I'll blow you a raspberry
'Cause apples and pears are me

So I'm tending my fruit and I don't give a hoot
'Cause it keeps me sane, it keeps me sane

So I'm tending my fruit, tending my fruit
Ah, you've got to have a hobby
A man must have a shed to keep him sane
To keep him sane, to keep him sane, to keep him sane
Oh, the wife can't complain

16

it’s why I don’t gamble because the entire premise is a huge gamble which unless you’ve stuck you’re toe in it’s not easy to relate.

as a Formerly Self-employed Person i can relate. i've said for decades that i don't gamble because every day i'm gambling just getting out of bed.

17

Or as Andy Partridge put it in "Fruit Nut"

Apple Venus was recorded in his shed so as not to disturb his wife with his hobby.

And...

Andy never shies away from the old naughty double entendre. Just look at him.

19

For us, 2020 was just a case of survival. I survived double pneumonia just before Covid hit (was it? don't know), and spent a couple of months on oxygen. A month later, my wife literally broke her neck. Somehow she survived something often fatal, something that almost always causes paralysis, and came out of it with only a small scar and a couple of new pieces of hardware. 5YO grandson broke his arm later.

Still, we've been lucky. Thankfully between my pension and SS we managed to keep the wolf at bay and the family fed. Still moving under my own steam, Grandsons and daughter are with us, and doing well. All in all, I can't complain---no one would listen.

20

Re Fruit Nut, over here it's a milk chocolate thing

Milk chocholate, hazelnuts and raisins. Deliscious and all that but I prefer Andy's alter-Stratosphear-ego which is even more delisciouser

21

This video from Scotland should lift all spirits.

22

My daily work travel went from (anywhere within) a 75 mile radius of my home to a maximum of 25 feet from my bedroom to my office. Same job, just doing everything remotely now. No more mileage logs or expense reports to deal with, and best of all, I went from working five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days... which guarantees me a 3-day weekend every week, FR-SA-SU.

On top of that, It also means that I'm almost always home for package deliveries (gear and guitar purchases not withstanding, Amy is a longtime Amazon Prime member, and believe me, she uses it!).

I haven't seen a traffic jam or rush-hour standstill since March 15th, so the corresponding stress and fatigue factors from work travel have been virtually eliminated.

It wouldn't have happened without 2020. (I still can't bring myself to say "Thanks, CoVid", even though it was the catalyst for the positive work changes)

23

This advert ran for years. . .

24

Ah Bob, Mr Toad is a hero. Uncrushable spirit.

I survive by playing guitar as a touring musician and released an album last February. You gotta laugh!

25

Just a bump to remind us what we were talking about before 1/2/21, The GDP's Lost Day.

(My protocol is to find topics I commented on which were active in the last 48 hours. This won't catch everything, because I hadn't participated in every thread. Y'all could also find started-by-you threads with activity in the last 48, and similarly bump them, and then we'll remember what we were talking about.)


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