Coping: With Food Patterns

One of our readers (RD) mentioned in a recent email that Tuesday was “hamburger day” for him.

This reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to mention for a couple of years, but it just keeps slipping my mind:  Is it an indication of something [fill in this blank if you can come up with a word for it —>_____] when people get into ritual and routine about their food?

When we were living in Burbank back in the 2005 era I knew people who would always to a certain restaurant on a certain day.  Like Acapulco’s on Thursday for lunch…that sort of thing.

More recently, a consulting client and his wife (east coast folks) made a major change in their life, moving Tuesday Chinese to Wednesday.

I’ve never really understood it, because part of the joy of “listening to your body, thus reducing stress” includes sitting back for a moment and asking “What do I FEEL would be good for me today?”

Going to the Northwest (as we’re about to for a month) I can see how people slip into foody-patterns.  In fact, if for the rest of my life, I had only one meal to it, I’d have to go with the dinner-sized crab cocktail, a small salad with bleu cheese, and the dinner-sized fish and chips from Harbor Lights in Tacoma.

There (and Ivar’s) are about the only places the fish and chips are perfect to my taste.  Most places do a heavier (and therefore greasier) batter.  I don’t care for that…more of a Panko-style fish eater, thanks.  If I want that much breading, I’ll mix up a few baguettes of French…know what I mean? 

Anyway, the only other reasons for eating a certain thing – on a certain day – that I can come up with is maybe the “Wednesday special.” 

Over the years, some great restaurants have day of the week specials.  My other favorite haunt in the PNW is 13-Coins where (if you scroll down their 24-hour menu here) you’ll see why I love going there on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  (Stroganoff, pot roast, and prime rib specials if you’re a bit slow on the click this morning.)

Around out place, we eat (more of less) when hungry and what depends on activities around the house.  During construction projects (a seemingly perpetual state) there are a lot of microwaved Reuben sandwiches and pizzas,

It’s really amazing how a regular frozen “base” pizza can be fixed up with a jug of good organic red sauce, some fresh sliced mushrooms and a pound of additional ‘mutz. 

Other days, like today, we still turn on the crock pot and do something like an all-day pot roast…but mostly, the “right answer” seems to be skipping routine and if a couple of tall glasses or orange juice, or a whole celery are what your body wants, then by all means, I figure going for it is one way to keep healthy:  Just like animals graze differently, depending on their health, what’s in season, and what their mood and feelings are, seems like that makes sense for us, too.

Except on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, or while in Tacoma along the waterfront, of course.

Music in Retirement

A few days back we were talking about the other kind of “listening to yourself” that seems pretty good:  Making your own music, particularly, if like me, you didn’t practice as a kid.

At least when retirement shows up, you should be able to set aside plenty of practice time (since the kids only call on state occasions like birthdays, and when their bank accounts are low).

Reader Dave (one of the 642 Daves that read this site) is in the process of rediscovering music, too, so lots of us on this path…

I haven’t done much music, but I have done alot of art and I listen to music alot. The one thing I have to contribute as a artist is that true originality is key to excitement and excellence. Most artists/musicians are tragically derivative.

One exciting development in music is the collaborative one-man-band.

DJs have been using sampling and tapes with boring repetition of things you already heard for years. The breakthrough is custom tracks in true original music and sounds you haven’t heard before. For example the Skrillix cd “Recess”. Might not be your thing, but you can’t deny the originality. New sounds, like new looks that aren’t derivative are exciting and satisfying to me anyway.

See?  Just like food!  People get into ritualized consumption (thank-you, Top-40 radio for pounding Hey Jude into my head 8.6 million times).

Different Dave (#316) obviously has some music skills:

“…my approach to making music has been to ‘find’ it.  I start with an interesting sound (synthesizers) and use the overtones to help find a melody and harmony. Often that leads to another instrument (the overtones might suggest a flute, for instance) and I just build it from there. Soon I’ve got several layers going and frequently try to make it as compact as possible for, say, 8 bars.  Then I take the layers and ‘unpack’ them. An example might be to isolate that nifty bass line you have laying amidst the rest, and use that for the intro. Then later drop out that bass for 16 bars and voila! you have orchestration and structure!  Then comes the big Hollywood epics and you’re set.

As for the room, I’ve built several studios and there are about 3 areas for acoustic treatment that need the most attention. 1) over the mix position you need ‘clouds’ to kill vertical resonances; 2) the corners need ‘tube-trap’ type devices, (these corner absorbers trap the resonances from both walls, so it’s a 2fer) and 3) behind the mix position by far the cheapest and most effective device is a large set of bookshelves filled 3/4 with books. Leave a couple inches between the freestanding shelves and the back wall and a couple inches between them and the side walls. Drill some 1″ – 2″ holes in the back plane of the shelving units and don’t mash them too full of books. This is the best broadband absorber/diffuser you can find and it’s very inexpensive. Books are almost freeeeee!!! Some foam back there doesn’t hurt. The sound goes in and it doesn’t come out. The mass works really well with low frequencies and the randomness (books) diffuses the higher freqs.

BTW, even the acoustic foam is pretty transparent to low frequencies.  Good luck!

Looking back on it, I’ve managed about 45,000 square feet of studio build-out (radio, television, and live sound recording) and there are all kinds of hints, tips, and ideas on how to do the “perfect” home studio.  But ultimately is comes down to what you’re trying to do *(home project studio is my goal) and what the budget is (zero $$ but we negotiate up from there).

The way you make that happen is by looking for “real deals” on equipment.  Some you buy new ($39 free shipping)  large diaphragm condenser mics out of China sound amazingly good, for example.

imageUpscale from there, I picked up an Alesis RA-100 reference amp to drive my back-of-room speakers (Bose 201’s) for (sitting down?) $12.50 plus $31.54 of shipping.  I know someone is going to say “Aw, BS Ure, nobody finds deals like that…

Read ‘em and weep.  Between Craig’s list and eBay, there’s no reason for anyone to put up with crappy sound even for a basic garage band.

imageAnother little goodie that I just picked up (a whole, whopping $21 bucks) was a Korg TM50BK Instrument Tuner and Metronome, Black.

The reason for this is simple:  Most mixing boards, even the decent 16+ channel kind of Firewire rigs like mine, don’t have a built-in metronome, tone generator, and so forth.  So, for that, Korg makes this $21 marvel that will tune instruments, generate tones, and tell you if you’re 50-cents high or low on pitch.

Most people have forgotten or never learned that a “Cent” in music is what?  (Wiki me…)

The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each. Typically, cents are used to measure extremely small finite intervals, or to compare the sizes of comparable intervals in different tuning systems, and in fact the interval of one cent is much too small to be heard between successive notes.

Thus, people in the music business who know their stuff, smile at a name like 50-Cent because pitch-wise, that’s just a tad off key….

My biggest problem (and I can see this one coming from a mile away) is when the studio gets done it will be extremely tempting to have people come out to track while I kick back to session recording instead of spending the hour a day to learn how to actually play something, like drums and piano for a start….

Around the Ranch:  Working Weather

A fair amount of work got done out in the shop yesterday.  Frames for (acoustical) window coverings that Elaine will roll out this weekend.  Console is coming together…speaker stands…

We’ve had 2 1/4-inches of rain at the ranch this week.  But the good news is that I am finally learning what climate change is.

Back in the day, when kids came to visit us, we’d laugh about how they “Brought the rain from Seattle with them.”

With our trip coming up next month, the laugh will go the other way.  “We’ll bring ‘em some rain from Texas…”

Near as I can figure, that about sums up “climate change” in a nutshell.  That and the fact that it’s a damn strange time of year for “flooding” to be showing up in Google News search results.

I’ve been out back on a quick walk this morning wondering if I have enough standing pines to build an Ark…and I’ll need some other kind of pitch than music….

More Monday after I sort all this out…tomorrow for Peoplenomics readers…and be sure to write when you break-even.  Chicken dinner Sunday?