December 16th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

As I sit here and start typing this post I am enjoying a cup of Cuban coffee. It is one of the coffees in last batch of coffees I ordered. It is not bad but there are others I got in that order that I like better. They have so many coffees I have to keep a list of what I like and don’t like so I don’t re-order one I don’t like. I should have had a decaf but it is early enough in the day I will be able to sleep after drinking this. At least it’s not a double espresso, but I do need to order a few tubes of those and single espresso. It’s a great jolt first thing in the morning and the flavors are intense but delicious.

It’s a cold, blustery day here today and the wind has picked up this afternoon. Glad it is the exception and not the rule or I would not be hanging around here. That means today is one of those stay-in-the-house days, but I have things on the computer I am trying to do. It also means getting out for walks is only out of necessity and they are quick trips out and back in.

I am trying to organize and clean up files on my devices and on my cloud service, which I should have been doing all along but didn’t. I am also trying to get Word and Excel documents converted to their Apple counterparts. I purchased a year of Microsoft Office in August and I am really disappointed with Outlook, the main reason I spent money on the program. Microsoft just cannot make Office work on a Mac like it does on a PC. I am tired of fighting it and going back & forth between different programs so I am gonna simplify it. I don’t really need Word or Excel bad enough to pay for it and I can use the web version if I need to, but my Apple programs will open those documents and spreadsheets with decent compatibility. And I don’t need to spend money since Apple’s programs are “free” (there is that premium price on Apple products though…).

My gripe with Apple’s native programs has been that they would build a basic program and then let third-party developers do the real work on apps that you then have to buy those to get the cool features. Apple has apparently heard the complaints and is putting out some pretty decent apps for their products. Since they are doing that I find myself embedded deeper into Apple’s “walled garden” and I am fine with that. Not an Apple Fanboy; I just like technology that works; I don’t like it well enough to camp out in a line for a week in front of the Apple Store.

Other than organizing that stuff most of the day I went to town and got the new airbox for my truck. I hope this fixes it but I will still have the dealer check it Friday in case it is something else. I hate chasing problems like this with my wallet as it gets expensive fast and you may end up spending money on changing parts that were not bad. The lid on my airbox was cracked so it needed replaced anyway. I cannot really check it to see if it runs better at idle until the engine cools down. At least it is in there.

I ate the rest of my Lou Malnati’s pizza for lunch. It is odd to have room for so much food that I cooked ahead plus things like the pizza. It is convenient but cooking is SOMETHING to do during a day and on a day like today it would be a break. I took some of that chicken/broth base in the freezer and cooked up some chicken and dumplings. It is a great day for something warm and rib-sticking and it hit the spot. Another thing to make with dumplings is a recipe my mom made only once for some reason when I was a kid. Blackberry dumplings. Make the dumplings the same and drop spoonfuls into some boiling blackberries. It is sooo good and filling as well.

I don’t remember if I posted anything about my microwave or not; it is a convection oven/microwave. I bought one of these for the trailer – I had too many other things on my mind to figure it out so I never used it. When I made the Malnati’s pizza I did it in the convection mode. I am very impressed by the utility of this appliance. Two handy appliances in one! I will have to experiment with mine since it is in a tight space in the trailer so I don’t know if it will get too hot or pull too many amps. If it won’t work I have used the microwave part; next time I move into someplace I can use it for baking too.

One more eye appointment tomorrow and I think I am done with follow-ups for that. It is amazing that after 35 years of wearing glasses (and a brief couple of stints trying contacts) I no longer need glasses except to read. It is so fantastic. Everything is so clear and better looking than through glasses. I need to get laundry done tomorrow some time since I have the truck service on Friday and I also really need to wash clothes. Apparently I am back in my old habit of waking up in the mornings around 6 so I can hit the ground running to get it done and have some downtime before I have to leave.

I decided to get my guitar out and try to get back into playing now that I have room to stretch out. Having a hard time with dexterity in my hands so I don’t know how this is going to work out and for how long. I had to struggle a little working on the truck because of arthritis in my left hand and some possible nerve stuff in my right hand after tearing up my shoulder in 2019 – I kept dropping the bolts. However, a few years ago I kinda saw where my hands were headed. I thought I would play around with the keyboards and the textures and things I can do with my limited knowledge of digital music creation. I think I have come up with some interesting things for my tastes but it doesn’t mean that I would do some things a bit different here and there (I still could at some point).

As usual I loosened up a little and it was a little frustrating doing so fumbling along. I did come up with two ideas in about 30 seconds so I recorded those. Then I started some music on the computer to play along with before I started to really work on a few ideas old and new. The next song up I have talked about before. It is an instrumental by Camel (*and that is NOT Frampton’s Camel or Sopwith Camel), and the song is called “Ice”. A beautiful, emotional, heavy/melodic guitar-oriented beautifully-constructed song with a keyboard solo. I used to be able to play along with the guitar parts fairly well but I could not do it tonight. I will not go quietly into the night. I am not giving up. Then some Metallica came on and the mellow mood got moshed. It was an old one called “Escape” off of “Ride the Lightning”. Certainly picked up the mood.

Wow. Talk about some great memories. A song that John and I wrote – actually, it is the very first one we did together probably somewhere around 2006-2008 – just popped up in the shuffle on my computer. He had written the music before we met. I threw the lyrics together in about 20 minutes as I remember and then we recorded it. Those were such great times. Some good stories from those years! Hahaha.

That’s it for tonight. Be safe!

*obscure musical group references from the 60s & 70s

August 25th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

This post is about doing some good things in the world along with an update. It’s not going to be preachy -0 just some interesting things I have come across.

Today I came across a short interview with Chef José Andrés that I found very interesting. He is doing some great work to help feed people and keep restaurants in business in disaster areas all over the world with his incredible organization World Central Kitchen.

I first saw him on the travel shows hosted by my favorite travel host Anthony Bourdain. Chef Andrés is so passionate about food – good, simple food – that he makes you want to try it all. WCK helps out so not just people in disaster areas can eat, but he outsources much of the cooking to local restaurants to help keep their doors open and keep their staff employed. It is a pretty impressive organization.

In the last paragraph of the article the interviewer asks “Talk to me about the power of travel to open hearts and minds.

Chef Andrés: “It is important for us to travel, to meet people who seem different from us. You realize that they aren’t that different. We are all together on this planet, and we need to be working together more. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we have an amazing opportunity to get to know who we are and where we live. To look at things through another lens and appreciate the beauty of the planet we have.”

This takes what I have previously said about travel and elevates it to a whole other level…an important level. A level we need to think about more.

Be sure to read the whole article I linked to and check out the link to WCK as well; it is a short article and will only take a few minutes. There are opportunities all over; one opportunity is they are looking for volunteers to help feed firefighters battling the wildfires in California. Of course you can donate money as well as time.

I really didn’t go to a lot of concerts in the days before the T-virus (last one was Riverside in Seattle in June 2019) but I know how important it is for bands to tour to make money and that is not happening right now. The music I listen to is not very commercially popular as opposed to mainstream radio-play music so these bands live hand-to-mouth constantly, and some even have regular jobs to supplement their incomes to just be able to play and create their music. This means that all but the biggest acts are struggling along with the venues they play in – from Irish pubs to your local bar and theater.

I have been trying to support some of my favorite bands by buying CDs and DVDs directly from them (and not through Apple Music, Amazon, etc.). I want the bands I enjoy listening to to get as much of the money as possible from my purchases. I have received CDs and DVDs from bands in England (IQ, Marillion) and Norway (Green Carnation) so far and plan to do more to support them and other acts I enjoy listening to. And, since I cannot see them live (which I do buy tickets to these tours when possible) having a concert DVD gives me a chance to see them “live”. Many of the bands I listen to never even make it here to the US so it’s either a DVD or I schedule my next Europe trip to see them…we almost did on our first trip over!

Another way to support your favorite acts is on the Bandcamp website. The website was giving up their revenue share portion on Fridays so it would go straight to the artists (not sure if they are still doing that or not). That’s a fantastic gesture to help support indie artists and I have taken advantage of that to help even more. Stop by and check it out and you might discover some new music by some new artists. I have seen free music, music for set prices, and even name your own price on some artist pages as well as some great deals buying collections (Porcupine Tree, Silent Island, Black Hill, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster). Just support them directly however you can! And yes…I know you may not have heard of any of these bands or probably think they have weird names.

I have seen articles where many of the museums around the world are in trouble and many may close or never reopen. That is so sad to hear as our history is so important for future generations to see where we have been. I purchased an annual museum pass to help out museums in Ireland. I will be going back soon (hopefully) so I can use it to get in to places, plus it supports my ancestral castle as well.

My Interagency Pass – some mistakenly call it the National Parks Pass – is a great deal and it supports all Federal Lands. If you want to support a particular National Wildlife Refuge, National Park or National Forest then purchase one at that particular place they get to keep 80% of the money on that Refuge, Park or Forest! Pick your favorite place and buy it there and not at an outdoor retailer (not to mention any names); that money all goes into a general fund.

Free admission to all Federal lands for a year…not a bad deal at all. And a Senior Pass is $80 for a lifetime card with 50% discounts for campgrounds on top of free entry with the card if you are over 62. A little hint – buy it early in the month and it expires at the end of the same month the following year; it’s basically a free month! Just remember the pass has to stay with the owner – you loan it you can lose it.

There are so many small things we can do that help. You don’t have to be a philanthropist to donate (I’m certainly not wealthy) but even just a few dollars here and there to support something near and dear to you makes a difference!

I get bronchitis just looking at this sunrise…

Earlier I mentioned wildfires but some relief is here!

Rain!!! We are finally getting some rain as I type this post. It has been months since we had any real rain here and this will do wonders to clear the air up some and help put out some of the fires in the area. Before the rains we had some hellacious winds – probably 50+ mph – and I am sure those did not help firefighter efforts, but there is rain falling and that will. I had to park my truck next to my trailer to keep the trailer from getting blown over and the wind ripped the top of the chicken coop off. Then Auntie Em flew by…

I’m thinking that, along with helping get some of the fires under control, this rain might help open up some other possibilities for my upcoming adventure. I guess I need to look at some fire info to see what is open and closed before I decide to go someplace and even see if I can get anywhere. I have been checking the pandemic outbreak maps and some places I wanted to go I will certainly be avoiding.

I started working on a new song for my ongoing opus called The Neverending Suite (which is currently just shy of 19 minutes long). I got the lyrics completed a few days ago (well, for now as far as I know). I have had a lot on my mind and it came flying out through my fingertips; most of it in about 30 minutes, and I decided to add another verse two days later when it wandered into my thoughts. Next step is to take a few music ideas I have and put the two together. It’s never an easy task as I tend to want to add a lot of layers for texturing, but I am getting a little more disciplined about doing that. It’s been a while since I have put a song together but when it’s time to write it just happens, not to mention there has been a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

Earlier this year I started reworking the last section I recorded last year but got sidetracked with life, Europe, a pandemic, and moving. It’s not like I have not had the time; I just have not been in the songwriting frame of mind lately. The reworking ended up being a bit more complicated than I thought it would be but I will probably be getting back on it soon so I can get this new part of the song to tie in after it. It’s good therapy too.

It’s been some time since I have heard the song so I think I will have a listen to it and close out this post.

March 4th, 2018

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Uncategorized

Pretty exciting stuff happening!

This weekend I started moving stuff into my newest humble abode. I have maybe one more load of stuff I can get by without left in the apartment that I can load up to take there and not be too inconvenienced. Nothing valuable yet, but I will (hopefully!) be finishing up with moving in two weeks or so anyway and I can work around that. I am not working the last two weeks of the month anyway (found that out last week) so it is actually going to help with timing finishing up the move. After that, it’s yet another road trip (weather permitting)!

I hope to get the trailer taken there next weekend if possible. If I take it next week it works out where I won’t need to pay for the storage slot this month, saving me some cash. Then, once I find a new storage unit near the new place, I will rent a trailer for one big trip to haul what I have in the storage unit. I hope to get that emptied fast so I can avoid another month with that too. It’s kind of expensive and it would be nice to not pay an extra month on that too. I gotta figure that damn canoe someplace in the mix as well since it has to go on top of the truck and on the rack in the receiver hitch.

But that damn canoe is going to be great to have since I am closer to water now. Add some crab pots to that (in storage!) and I just might be able to enjoy some fresh Dungeness crab after I get my card and license! I should learn about the clams and other shellfish as well, but that can be touchy with the chance of getting sick from PSP. It’s probably best for me if I just buy them if I want to eat them since that is some pretty nasty stuff. Some grilled oysters are pretty delicious!

I got the new (to me) futon unloaded and almost put together yesterday (didn’t have a hex key set with me to tighten it all down). It is a queen size and is not bad to sit on – I have sat on several and this one has the thickest mattress I have ever seen on a futon. It will be handy as a couch (which is the main reason why I got it) but I think it will be comfy for guests to sleep on once I get it all tightened (I’m acquiring a queen mattress for the loft where I’ll sleep). Getting that thing put together was like wrestling an octopus though. There are some large wooden parts that we didn’t take completely apart and that unwieldy mattress was, well, unwieldy. I was moving it by myself but managed to get it all taken care of.

After unloading the truck the day was mine. I got to hang with some friends last night and it was pizza and beers for supper. It was good to catch up on things since it had been a little while since I had seen them. I went back to the cabin this afternoon and took advantage of my new laundry facilities and washed some clothes, Man, that is going to be really nice not going to the laundromat anymore…saving money and time. The big thing for me is simply the convenience.

Waiting for clothes to wash and dry gave me an opportunity to really be in the place and look at some options for arranging things. It has a nice kitchen and there is really quite a bit of storage. The futon is a little big for the wall I was going to put it on and it covers up the electric heater so that won’t work. It has a lot of flexibility due to a wheeled island with storage below and a 2-3 person countertop to eat at.  It is actually pretty slick. I think I can swap it with the couch and it will be enough room.

Another bonus with this wheeled island is it has enough space on top that I think I can set up my recording equipment again! I have had some new ideas for new music again after a long dry spell. I had written some lyrics but not enough music that I can use it – only some very basic ideas. Once I get things set up I think it will probably inspire me to do it.

It will be nice to do some recording again. I’ll probably have to go buy another guitar but this one will be used after my disappointment in the Fender Strat that I bought brand new. I’ll need to get some interface to record through into the computer, so I guess I’ll have to spring for a mixer and a mic. I guess I’ll be practicing on my acoustic for now, but I am a bit rusty anyway.

I discovered when I got there that cable TV is also included! How about that for a surprise! Score! Good thing I didn’t sell my big-screen yet. Guess I need to get a sound bar now that I am not in an apartment building.

This will be a good move for many reasons.

September 13th, 2017

Adventure, Just things, Music, Uncategorized

I am working on another new song finally.

It’s been a drought for songwriting but I have gotten some inspiration and an idea has come to me for one of the next parts of my opus “The Neverending Suite”. I am constantly writing and adding to this piece of music that, in theory, will never really be done – hence the name. It is still currently at 13:38 in duration since I have not added to it in a while.

I am working on the lyrics right now and it is probably the darkest song I have ever written lyrically. It will be a challenge to come up with music to match it but I have been coming up with a few ideas I have recorded as notes and not in the computer yet. Living the drifter life drastically cuts back on the ability to set up a rig for recording so I have to figure out how I’m going to get around that easily. Just one reason I haven’t added to it.

Laying down the track will require some creativity. Recording the guitars and keys can be done easily – just go right into the computer. I don’t have a good solid-body electric guitar yet, no amplifier, no microphone, and I no longer have a mixer either. I will get it figured out but it will mean making a few more purchases. Cash donations gladly accepted! Or, if you’d like to send me a Shure SM58 with stand, a Les Paul, a small guitar amp, a powered mixer, and the necessary cables I would be oh so appreciative!

Not sure how the neighbors will take to recording though. It will sound strange outside these walls – just my voice basically since the rest will be recorded and playing through the headphones – so I have to really do some work figuring that part out. One thought is hanging blankets in the bathroom to deaden the echo. It is the only room not on the hallway and the easiest to fix acoustically so it is probably the best location.

I say one of the “next parts” because “The Neverending Suite” is somewhat biographical and adding this new part skips a few other things that I may or may not want to be reflected in the main work; that is another reason I haven’t added anything else yet. I have been considering adding a few instrumental passages after what is currently done to break it up a bit. After looking at what I have written tonight in the last few minutes I think catching your breath ahead of listening to a song so dark may be a good idea. I’ll see when I get it figured out!

Writing is very therapeutic. Some write poetry, some write books, some paint, but I chose to write songs.

Updates – 11/27/13

Just things, Music, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I know… it has been a while since I posted so I thought I would post an update with my glass of wine. Tonight’s choice is a 2011 merlot-cab blend from Two Vines. Quite delicious.

It has been cold here lately, and some colder weather is on tap next week. The weatherman has already issued a “Brass Monkey Warning”, which means cold weather is probable so be on standby to bring in the brass monkey.

We have gotten a lot done around here lately. We did a trail reroute and closed the old entrance and did a rehab on it to restore it back to nature. It really came out nice. Signs had to be put up along with a couple of sections of split rail fence. We also worked on a couple of fences and the finished products look very nice. One was a repair/replacement from last year’s car fire in the parking lot. The other one was to block off an area to protect the vegetation.

We are out doing some bird surveys on the Spit, checking out what has migrated in and getting counts on the different species here on the refuge. It is pretty interesting to see thousands of birds at once. It really shows you the importance of places like this when you see vast numbers of a variety of wildlife species.

I am going out birding with a friend next week. He is going to show me some local birding spots and maybe see a few new birds I have not seen yet.

My training in Hawaii is back on for next year so I will be posting pics when I get them taken! I am pretty damn excited to go!

I re-upped my rec center membership and have been working out nearly every night (except for the night I had a pissed off hamstring… I think it just wanted to get in the whirlpool and took me with it). I took off last night since I forgot my gym shorts but did some walking today to make up for it. Tomorrow is just going to be written off being Thanksgiving and all, plus the rec center is closed. I may try to get out and do some walking to atone for my food sins. Friday I will be back at it again.

I might have some more music posted soon… if I would just get my ass in gear and get it done. I just wrote lyrics for one song I had already recorded a rough demo of and had some ideas for. I just started lyrics for another as soon as that one was done. I do not have the music for it yet, but I have some ideas for what to do with it. I think it might be interesting if this all comes together like I plan. What I want to do is pretty ambitious to do and it will take some time to get it put together. I do have individual bits and pieces that I have already recorded so it is just a matter of a few more lyrics, organizing, recording, and more organizing.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!