Monday, May 31, 2021

Spring Update - Guitar (All 4ths), Mocktails, Exercise, Music

Lately I've been playing more guitar than tenor banjo. I tune my guitar in all 4ths EADGCF from low to high so it would be better to say that lately I've been playing stringed instruments in an all 4ths tuning rather than an all 5ths tuning like GDAE or CGDA. I think of melodies as major scale numbers in this 4ths tuning and use one finger per fret. On a six-string instrument that could be like this:

6th string: note 5 of major scale (middle finger) and note 6 (pinkie)
5th string: note 7 of major scale (index finger), note 1 (middle finger) and note 2 (pinkie)
4th string: note 3 of major scale (index finger), note 4 (middle finger) and note 5 (pinkie)
3rd string: note 6 of major scale (index finger), note 7 (ring finger) and note 1 (pinkie)
2nd string: note 2 of major scale (index finger), note 3 (ring finger) and note 4 (pinkie)
1st string: note 5 of major scale (index finger) and note 6 (ring finger)

That's a full two octaves plus one note that you can play using fretted notes without having to change positions. I've selected up to about 100 tunes in my "repertoire" for learning and playing in this tuning. Occasionally coming up with a new one.

I've pretty much cut all alcohol since February. That's a solid three months. I've turned to herbal teas (naturally caffeine free) as an alternative. To spice the tea up and make a simple mocktail, I like to add a sugar free Skinny Mixes syrup flavor such as Hibiscus Passion Fruit or Mango, or make it even fancier by adding a flavored bitters or extract to the mix. Another great alcohol-free drink is to mix about one-third "shrub" (flavored vinegar) with two-thirds sparkling water like Perrier. Tastes almost like a sour beer! Another easy to make beverage is simply adding a FlavDrop to unsweetened coconut milk or cold brew, or mix all three!

I've been making my own shrubs: strawberry-cilantro, pineapple-basil, and mango-mint have been some great combos so far. I just put the fruit + herb in a jar, add some Lakanto monk fruit sweetener, and cover it with apple cider vinegar, filling almost to the top. Let it sit in the fridge for a week but give it a good shake daily. This isn't the proper way to make a shrub but it works for me. 

We had wood floors installed and converted the spare bedroom into a home gym which makes for a nice workout space. Some recent additions to my home equipment are YBells and Lebert Equalizer Bars. The YBells seem to have kicked everything up a notch and have pretty much replaced kettlebells, dumbbells and parallettes as part of daily use. And the Lebert Equalizer Bars are an improvement upon the BaseBar that I bought last year. Steel mace, shena board, steel clubs, Core Coasters, and Jayflex CrossGrips continue to be important tools in the home gym. A slide board is on the way!

I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with new music releases as well as always trying to uncover old music and/or new territories I might have missed. As always this has been fairly wide ranging, but here lately I've been feeling my taste lean toward rock more than usual. In particular, I've been looking around for new indie rock bands with sort of like throwback sounds where terms like surf rock, garage rock, jangle pop, or post-punk might be used in the description. Discoveries include The Woolen Men, Dehd, Painted Shrines, The Reds Pinks and Purples, Kiwi Jr., Silverbacks, Sleeper and Snake, Rata Negra, Mt. Mountain, and Buffet Lunch.

As far as books go, I'm still toggling between horror ala Valancourt Books and detective fiction ala Hard Case Crime - one or two books a week. I'm getting to the end of reading all of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer books as well as all of Walter Moseley's Easy Rawlins books. Some viable replacements for those include the Cool and Lam series by Erle Stanley Gardner and Parker series by Richard Stark. Lisa Tuttle's The Dead Hours of Night stands out as the best recent release in the Valancourt catalog.