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Bad Goodbye

December 23rd, 2012

following the dark that I left behind
took apart the world, got lost inside
I saw you in a dream so many times
and ended up in some other life
now I try to let go of the day
try as I might, it doesn’t change the way
I open up my eyes and adjust to everything
nothing’s set right because there’s no such thing

you had me in a bind and I racked my brain
could’ve swallowed my pride but I was so afraid
I held on tight as everything just slipped away
and in the end it seems like all of it was just a dream

we never really said goodbye
held onto the pain and found a back door out of the fight
I think of you and I don’t know what to say
and I’m not sure I’d have it any other way


Freedom and Capitalism: A Brief Note

October 9th, 2011

I saw a bumper sticker, blue and white with the little Obama logo, that read: “I’ll keep my guns and freedom, and you can keep the change.” I despise what the Right has done with the word freedom. It almost seems a dirty word, yet the concept is close to my heart. So it was with Karl Marx. It sucks that the existential crisis I have been in for the last ten years was being theorized about since at least the mid-nineteenth century. And today, protesters are occupying Wall Street for security in a system that doesn’t work and has never worked:

Capitalism seems different [than feudalism] because people are in theory free to work for themselves or for others as they choose. Yet most workers have as little control over their lives as feudal serfs. This is not because they have chosen badly. Nor is it because of the physical limits of our resources and technology. It is because the cumulative effect of countless individual choices is a society that no one—not even the capitalists—has chosen. Where those who hold the liberal conception of freedom would say we are free because we are not subject to deliberate interference by other humans, Marx says we are not free because we do not control our own society.

Economic relations appear to us to be blind natural forces. We do not see them as restricting our freedom—and indeed on the liberal conception of freedom they do not restrict our freedom, since they are not the result of deliberate human interference. Marx himself is quite explicit that the capitalist is not individually responsible for the economic relations of his society, but is controlled by these relations as much as the workers are.

Peter Singer, Marx: A Very Short Introduction, p. 91-92.

This “cumulative effect of countless individual choices” is the playground of ideology—a sort of organized societal schizophrenia. Ideology is full of contradictions, giving the media plenty of ground to call the protesters a bunch of idiots who don’t know what’s good for them, or at best don’t know exactly what they want. It’s obvious that things are not right; it’s too bad that it takes a crisis in the middle class to see it, because by the time it gets to that point, the problems all seem hopelessly obscured. Not to mention the fact that the lower classes have been struggling so long, they don’t even notice anything’s different.


Frying Pan Ashtray

May 12th, 2011

What do you do when your new roommates are using an old frying pan as an ashtray on the porch?

You reclaim the Ikea Bargain Bin speaker stand you dumped there a long time ago, and make a standing ashtray out of it.

Frying Pan
Figure 1. A dirty old frying pan from some long-gone renter’s trash.

nuts and bolts
Figure 2.  Three holes, three nuts, three bolts.

Finished
Figure 3.  Instant class, i.e. “no more having to crouch down to extinguish your smoking materials.”

Oh yeah, and after you’re done, you spend more time blogging about the project than you spent working on it (but at least you didn’t spend more time doing either than you spent thinking about it.)

The end.


Some Things I’m Looking Forward to Doing in September:

August 6th, 2009
  • Washing my clothes in strange laundromats
  • Recording noise guitar under the pitch-black skies of rural New Mexico
  • Writing songs in a tent
  • Buying single servings of milk to eat my cereal with
  • Drinking whiskey from a metal flask
  • Being in cities and having little to no agenda
  • Taking smaller highways, taking my time and going through the centers of small towns
  • Going for a swim instead of showering
  • Making a different mix CD off of my laptop for every few days I’m on the road
  • Taking more photographs in week than I’ve probably taken all year
  • Small moments of positive boredom
  • Trying to grill dinner at a wayside reststop

Electronics Projects

June 8th, 2009

Digitizing vinyl and mixing my next album has inspired me to build the CMoy headphone amplifier.  I’ve been taking regular walks to the bar with a set of headphones and a cheap MP3 player loaded with in-progress mixes.  Since these are unmastered tracks, and thus uncompressed audio signals, the little USB-charged MP3 player doesn’t have the juice to bring the tracks up to normal listening level.  The more complex the track, the greater the build-up of transient peaks and the quieter the mix.  Vinyl tracks are also uncompressed, which means there’s more difference between the loud parts and the quiet parts.  The CMoy amp adds an extra 18v of power, which means I can plug in the MP3 player and leave it at its default volume, using the amp to drive the headphones.

CMoy Headphone Amp
I’m almost done.  The tutorial I was using suggested a dual pot with a built-in power switch, which I had to order separately from the other parts.  This particular pot works so that when you turn the volume all the way down, the power clicks off.  It’s a wise feature considering that you can seriously damage your hearing with this amp.  This way, it’s always turned all the way down when you power it up.  I tested it out before I housed it (in the standard Altoids tin) and it got pretty loud with one 9v battery.

I took another look at the looper project I’ve had put off to the side for about a year:  three toy sound samplers with pitch shifting that you can hack into and add to a simple mixer circuit to create a lo-fi, multi-channel looping effect.  I drew up a wiring diagram, planning on using a chunk of steel stud to house it:
bent looper

I still have the power supply, mixer and one channel hooked up to a breadboard. Last I checked, it worked, and I haven’t touched it since:
Toy guts on a breadboard

Three Channel Live Looper
I decided instead on an enclosure from an old whatever-the-hell-it-was from ax-man.  You can buy old machines for $5-$10, take the guts out and use the case for new stuff, which is cool because electronics enclosures are really expensive.  The drawback is that it’s harder to get a space efficient design since the housing was meant for something else, but I’m starting to realize that I like things to be life size, sturdy and clunky with plenty of soldering room.  The last looper circuit I built, I think I fried the chips because everything was crammed too tight on the board and I couldn’t troubleshoot it.

All the knobs are where the pots will go.  The nuts represent toggle switches, the plastic grommets (LED holders) represent LEDs, the washers represent momentary switches, and the pots represent foot-switches.


Do I need to blog about it?

January 30th, 2009

I can’t sleep and I’m being bombarded by negative thoughts, and I’m compelled to do two things.  One is physically harm myself, and the other is to express my mental state on this wasteland of social networking new media bullshit.  Life 2.0.  I decided, after punching my wall a few times, not to change my Facebook status to something like: “Gerald is being attacked by his own brain” or “Gerald is useless and should get over it.”  Instead I should try to make some effort at analysis.  I started wondering if the internet is supposed to be a tool for social exchange, or a replacement for it.

I wonder if it’s better to just keep my outbursts to myself, or to publish them to the digital world.  Either way it seems I end up in the same place.  In August, the same thing happened.  I was unsatisfied with my life, every aspect of it.  I was broke, bored, depressed and anti-social.  I thought I was getting better.  I think I am better as long as I’m not closed off in myself, because then I just sit at home and drink, and watch movies on Netflix, and check my email, Myspace and Facebook, wondering if I have a life.  Either that or I go out to a show alone to pass the time and leave feeling alienated.  I try to write songs but find myself writing the same thing over and over again.  I feel like I’m not being challenged.  I’m not being surprised, and in turn I can’t surprise myself, which is what being creative is all about.  I also feel like it’s a lot of work for me to maintain a social life because I give off an independent vibe, and also because I naturally get along with other independent, or even anti-social, people.  I’m not really independent.  I feed off of other people, I just need my little pockets of solitude in order to express it.

Anyone want to go do something?


Perception and some tangents…

January 8th, 2009

My right ear has been plugged up for the past 48 hours.  On top of that, I’m wearing my eyeglass prescription from 1999, since I wrecked my glasses right before the count on New Years Eve.  So, so far, the outer world is continuing to lose focus as 2009 drags on.  Not good.  I went to America’s Best to look at new glasses and I made an appointment.  After that, I proceeded to work the longest and slowest shift in (my) pizza delivery history.  That means I’m broke.

So I’m on self house arrest.  I can’t hear and I don’t have any money.  I have cans of beer and a working internet connection.

I decided that my week is divided roughly in two.  The first half, roughly Sunday or Monday through Wednesday, I don’t work, don’t spend money, don’t stay out too late, work on music, etc.  My apartments a mess and everything else is easy-going.  The second half, usually Wednesday through Saturday night and maybe Sunday, I work long shifts, I’m stressed out, I have plenty of cash and I waste no time attempting to recover my social life, given the chance.

Is this good?  I don’t know.  I also decided there are three equally important major facets to my life:

  • Creative Work
  • Income
  • Social Life

The only way for me to maintain my sanity is through those things overlapping in some way, i.e. creative work providing part of my income and part of my social life.   I’m trying.


Loneliness

January 4th, 2009

I’ve been trying really hard to hold on to something positive from the nervousness and restlessness I’ve been feeling lately.  The fact is no matter how much I go out and interact with my surroundings, I come home feeling empty.  I don’t know why I think I can reverse the path that I’ve been on all my life, which is a constant state of alienation.

I hate being by myself, but it’s usually better than trying to be someone I’m not, which is what I feel would have to happen for me to have a normal social life.  I like making music, and making art, but there comes a point where the solitude is too much and you have to stop.  People don’t understand that.  The fact is, if I have people close to me in my life, than I can be productive while I’m alone.  But if I’m alone all the time, I lose myself.

I read Wikipedia’s article on loneliness again.  I wonder if what I keep referring to as depression is really just social isolation.  I go to a bar and I see a crowd of people who can communicate with one another.  Sure it’s not on a deep level, but they’re all keeping themselves and each other sane by doing so.  Meanwhile I’m in the corner with an art magazine drawing snake tongues coming out of everybody’s mouths, and I’m the only person in the place who’s by himself.  And although I look around at the couples, and the friends laughing with each other, and I despise the whole thing, I really just wish somebody would say something to me without it being their job.

The more alone I feel, the less motivated I am to be creative and the more motivated I am to try and go out and have fun.  So I go out to be around people, who paradoxically make me feel more alone, and then I get depressed.

I think maybe I was on to something last year at this time when I was just drinking beer at home and drawing circuit diagrams.


Yeah

December 14th, 2008

Winter Suck

What a shitty day to be getting over a cold and a girl at the same time…


Because Random Bullets are Easier than Concise Statements

November 29th, 2008
  • When I was younger, every time I would go through something painful, instead of crying, I would bottle it up.  Now I just get angry.
  • Fantasies have a purpose.  They breathe life into reality.  Just don’t trust them on their own.
  • How many love songs have been inspired by relationships that failed?  Does it matter?
  • There’s a biological reason why, if you have a lot of things on your mind, you find it difficult to sleep.  Your body assumes you may have to defend yourself from a stray tiger.  But what if the tiger is you?  Does your boss really care?