music, songs, technology, videos, YouTube

It really sucks when technical difficulties abound…

This morning, I wasn’t feeling that great and didn’t feel particularly motivated to write. After I watched a couple of videos on YouTube, I finally decided I’d start today off with music. Today’s music video was a long time coming… God willing, it will premiere. Maybe some people will even enjoy it.

The blues song I recorded today is called “Women Be Wise”. It was written by Sippie Wallace and John Beach and made famous by Bonnie Raitt. I’ve been wanting to do it forever. I actually love the duet version Bonnie did with Sippie years ago, but a backing track to that version isn’t available yet. I’m a lot more familiar with the live version of the song, though, so that meant I had to learn the studio version.

Then, I was hoping to record it with my usual equipment, and on my old computer. I would love to keep the old computer going for awhile, until I’m more used to the new one and have all my old stuff moved over to it. Unfortunately, my old computer has become a huge pain in the ass to use, even just for playing music. I kept getting disk overload/too slow errors, even though I dumped a lot of data from the machine and deleted some resource hogs that were slowing it down.

The next issue was my microphone. I have a trusty Shure SM58 that I’ve been using for at least ten years. It still works fine, but in order to record with it, I have to have a mic interface. For about three years, I had a PreSonus 68c that worked just fine. But now, no matter what I try, I can’t hear myself when I use it. My vocals are too low. After consulting lots of GarageBand articles, updating drivers, and trying all sorts of things, I determined that the problem is with the interface. So, I ordered a new interface and a new Beyerdynamic mic that got here on Saturday. The new interface was less expensive than the old one, but it works perfectly. The new mic, alas, apparently doesn’t.

Finally, this morning, after one last try with the old computer and getting two disk overload errors, I moved the new interface to my new computer… I was pleasantly surprised by the resolution in the video, even though it’s not perfectly synced. I don’t like looking at myself on video anyway, though… I’m all about the song. It took a lot of effort to get it to a passable level, even though it’s not quite perfect.

So after I got the video made, it was time to upload it to YouTube… and now, I’ve found out that my internet connection today is as slow as molasses in the Arctic circle. As I write this, I have about 37 minutes to on uploading. For some reason, our internet speeds have really sucked lately. Sometimes, I even use my cellphone for a connection, because it’s more stable.

I don’t actually know why I feel compelled to upload music videos. They aren’t particularly popular or anything. I guess I like doing them because I genuinely enjoy making music, and because my song videos mostly aren’t controversial at all. I don’t have to worry about getting much bad feedback on my cover songs… at least not necessarily because of the content. I still don’t have a lot of subscribers, so if I put up something that really sucks, chances are good that no one will see it, anyway. đŸ˜‰

I do like my new mic interface. It’s a Focusrite Scarlett 212, which is pretty basic. I like it because it’s very simple to use and well designed. I paid twice as much for the PreSonus 68c, which has more mic outlets, but is less straightforward in how it can be used.

I’m expecting a new cable to arrive today. I’ll try the new Beyerdynamic mic again, to see if I can raise it from the dead. It’s disappointing that the thing arrived apparently already dead. It wasn’t a cheap mic, and it’s a real pain to have to send it back to the seller.

One other big thing I purchased over the weekend is a new mattress topper for our bed. I’ve been using feather toppers for a long time, but they tend to get flat and misshapen fairly quickly. This time, I ordered a foam topper, which I hope will be better. We really need a new mattress, but it’s hard to get the right size in Germany, unless we order through AAFES. Ordering through AAFES takes forever and offers a pretty poor selection. Then, we have to deal with getting rid of the old mattress. It’s not actually difficult to get rid of mattresses in Germany. You can just call and have them picked up. The real ass pain is in getting the thing down the stairs and out of the house. I wish I had some friends with teenaged boys who need some extra euros.

Arran is still hanging in there. I think the vet is surprised, since he has a big lymph node that has become pretty obvious. You’d think he’d be a lot more lethargic and less interested in eating. But no, he’s still dancing around, eating, sleeping, playing, taking walks, and snuggling. He’s an amazingly resilient dog, and he obviously still wants to live. Canine lymphoma sure is a strange disease. When Zane had it, it took him very quickly. But with the help of chemo, Arran is still putting up a big fight. I know sometimes, it has to do with the dog’s personality. Arran is one of the most devoted dogs I’ve ever seen. I thought some of his predecessors were dedicated, but he’s kind of put them to shame with his determination to stay with us for as long as possible. It’s astonishing, and kind of inspiring.

Well… YouTube is telling me that my video is almost done uploading. I guess it took less time than the computer estimated. Once it’s done uploading, then I have to wait for it to be processed… What fun.

Here it is… the syncing is a bit fucked up on it, but I don’t feel like redoing it now. The end result isn’t perfect, but it sure took a lot to make this video happen. I recommend not actually watching the video. As the featured photo says… “Screw this shit.”

But this song is sure fun to sing… I’ll get the technical glitches sorted out eventually.

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love, music, YouTube

Special thanks to Adam Sandler for this gem…

I was having some trouble thinking of a topic for this morning, when I turned on the soundtrack for the 2009 film, Funny People. I have not seen the movie, which stars Adam Sandler, but I instantly fell in love with this song by Neil Diamond. It’s called “We”. On the soundtrack, it’s a different version than the popular one, neither of which I’d ever heard until this morning.

I might have to watch the movie this soundtrack comes from. Besides “We”, it also has some nice stuff by James Taylor, Robert Plant, and Wilco, among other artists.

I couldn’t resist trying it, so here it is. The video sucks, because for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to line up perfectly with the audio. I have a new computer on its way to me, so I hope this will be a short lived issue. I had to use my laptop for the video part, because for some reason, Photo Booth quit working. I did a bunch of takes, but just couldn’t get it right. The dogs need a walk, so I had to settle for this. It’s just almost right.

I think the audio part is pretty decent, anyway. I doubt people watch my videos to see me mug for the camera. This song put me in such a good mood, I may redo it when I have a better machine for the job. Hope some of y’all enjoy…

Such a sweet song!

Here are the lyrics of “We (early take)… by Neil Diamond.

Love is all about chemistry
Talkin’ bout the way you feel inside
It′s all about a mystery
All about taking a magic ride
It’s not about you, it′s not about me
Love is all about we
It’s all about we

It’s all about the plans we make
All about you and me being friends
All about the road we take
together how we both gonna reach the end
It’s not about you, it’s not about me
Love is all about we
It’s all about we

With a string you can tie a knot
But you gotta have somethin′ to tie it to
Otherwise all you’ve got is that knot
When it ties me to you
It′sa whole other thing
Love is all about we
Say it’s all about we

Love is not about young or old
Been around the earliest days of man
Matter of have and hold
Do it all alone and you’ll understand
It’s not about you, it’s not about me
Love is all about we
Say, it’s all about we

With a string you can tie a knot
But you got to have something to tie it to
Otherwise all you’ve got is that knot
But when it ties me to you
It’s a whole other thing
And love is all about we
Yes, it’s all about we

It’s not about you
It’s not about me
Love is all about we
Yes, it′s all about we
Yes, it’s all about we
You and me
All about we
You and me
You and me
All about we
We

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Military, musings, psychology, technology

What the hell is the meaning of all of this?

This week, I’ve been writing about some learning curves I’ve been handling as I’ve tried to make our house “smarter”. The “smart house” project has invariably left me feeling dumber, as I’ve repeatedly run into roadblocks in my quest to “modernize” and “simplify” my life. Life will often show you that sometimes trying to make things easier invariably leads to making things more complicated.

I did manage to solve a couple of annoying and persistent problems, though. For instance, we weren’t awakened at midnight by the lamp in the bedroom turning itself on, as it did the first two nights after I installed “smart light bulbs”. I figured out what was causing the light to turn on by itself and toggled the switch in the opposite direction. I won’t know if I was successful with the downstairs lamp that was doing the same thing until later today. I do have a feeling the issue is now fixed, though. I might as well think positive, right?

Yesterday, I was flummoxed by an issue with my blogs. My friend Thomas mentioned that he wasn’t able to comment. Since I don’t usually comment on my own posts, I was unaware of the problem. I thought my writing was just sucking unusually hard lately. Even my other friend, Alex, who is probably the current number one commenter, was as silent as the grave. I know Alexis, who is a long time reader, is very busy with her life right now, since she just got married and has embarked on her career.

I tried to summon help via WordPress. I clicked on the “support” button and was engaged in a chat, but then got knocked offline. Later, when I was back online, I couldn’t find the chat, so gave up on that. I resigned myself to trying again later, when I was in a better mood. What really annoyed me is the fact that I had just spent $500 to renew the site for two more years.

In the process of trying to troubleshoot my comment issues, I accidentally ended up deleting StatCounter from my site, which made it look like no one was reading the blog. That made me think about something that happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Wiesbaden. I think of that time as a low point in my “blogging career”.

At that time, we were having serious issues with our former landlady trying to bully Bill into letting her keep most of our security deposit. I think she had actually planned to keep all of it, but Bill protested, so she gave us about 660 euros (out of 3200). She made some false accusations to support her attempt to “take the piss”, as the Brits and Irish like to put it.

What made matters worse is the actions of the former tenant, who had lived in the house just before us, and was, unbeknownst to me, monitoring my blogs. She sent me a mocking private message, shaming me for being so “mean” to the former landlady. This person didn’t actually know me very well. She’d met me offline twice, back in 2014, and had otherwise formed her (apparently negative) opinions of me on what she’d read in my posts and heard from the ex landlady. She basically implied that I was a loser and my blog sucked. It was a sentiment that was echoed by other people in our community, although I know not everyone felt that way.

As you might imagine, ex landlady’s behavior really pissed us off. I vented about it in a couple of posts, though I never named any names. Former tenant disagreed with my assessment of my own situation and, for whatever reason, decided to try to intervene on our ex landlady’s behalf. Because I didn’t really know her very well, it was hard to determine if she was just trying to cover her own ass, or if she really thought I’m an awful person. She also made a false accusation that was pretty hurtful.

We eventually sued the former landlady, and I moved my blogs to WordPress, which required another learning curve. Then we got hit with COVID-19, which pretty much killed my once vibrant travel blog. Taking that action meant starting over, to some extent. I think WordPress is a better platform, current technical difficulties notwithstanding. Starting over has also been good, for the most part, although it has meant reposting a lot of stuff.

Back in late 2018-2019, I was feeling legitimately sad for several reasons. Bill and I had really enjoyed living in the Stuttgart area. It was our favorite of his duty stations when he was on active duty in the Army. In spite of our housing issues during our second stint, we still delighted in living in that area when we came back to Germany.

I made the mistake of getting too involved in the local military community, especially with a blog called “The Overeducated Housewife”, which seemed to really trigger some people. I wasn’t a blogger when we were in Stuttgart the first time, and Facebook was still in its infancy. In the five years we were back in the States, the community became overrun with Facebook groups. I joined way too many of them, which led to unpleasant interactions with strangers. It wasn’t unlike spending all day on a Facebook comment section for a major newspaper, if you catch my drift. Add in the fact that there were a lot of bloggers who were “competing” for readers and the odd “professional jealousy”. It wasn’t fun, although I had a lot more readers back then.

Regardless of the dysfunctional military community and my place within it, the Stuttgart area still held a lot of appeal for us. I hated that we were leaving Stuttgart on bad terms with our former landlady, whom we really had tried to appease on multiple occasions. I was also genuinely sad to be leaving Stuttgart. In spite of everything, we had loved living there. I actually still miss it. I don’t miss the drama, though, nor do I miss dealing with mean people.

Four years later, I’m now extremely glad we moved. For multiple reasons, Wiesbaden has been a big improvement for us. We have a much better house, and a landlord who is genuinely kind and respectful. Yes, we pay a lot more rent, but we get treated like adults. We enjoy our privacy, and I don’t feel like I have to keep everything to our landlord’s standards. He likes our dogs, and has outwardly stated that he wants us to be happy. Our community is very inclusive and friendly.

I didn’t join a bunch of local Facebook groups, so I am not immersed in local dramas. Wiesbaden is a smaller installation, and the people who come here are mainly older Army folks, rather than people from all of the services. Stuttgart had a lot of young and immature people and sometimes, it felt very high school.

Although we are happier in Wiesbaden, sometimes I still feel like writing my blogs is a waste of time. Few people bother with the travel blog. I can’t blame them, since we have been traveling less due to COVID and Arran’s lymphoma. Writing my main blog sometimes feels pointless. I wonder why I still do it, especially when people can’t comment… or don’t want to. Or I come off like an asshole, even though I’m just writing about what’s in my head at the time.

Then a few months ago, Bill got curious about the former tenant who had been trying to interfere and had caused me so much angst in 2019. I unblocked her and found out that she’d committed suicide. While I hadn’t had any interactions with her whatsoever since 2019, I still felt bad about her decision to kill herself. I wondered what led to it. I couldn’t help but wonder if the former landlady blamed me for it, as irrational as that thought might seem. She seemed to blame me for everything else.

Former tenant and former landlady seemed to have this weird “mother/daughter” relationship going on. All I was looking for was a place to live. I ended up unwittingly becoming part of a strange “triangle” of sorts, as former landlady and former tenant were apparently talking shit about Bill and me, and invading our privacy. Then, when it finally went south, former tenant seemed to want to justify her interference. I could probably write an interesting short story about it… if I didn’t feel so weird about writing fiction now. Again… courtesy of former tenant, who felt the need to mock me for that, too.

So all of this shit came up last night, as I was lamenting dealing with the blog’s technological issues, and the fact that I felt like I was throwing messages in bottles in the blogosphere. Suddenly, I felt frustrated. I said to Bill, “I really don’t know why I keep blogging.”

Bill said, “I like what you write. You are a great storyteller. You have a way of turning any subject into something conversational.”

Then I smiled, remembering that Bill met me in a chat room. He used to read my erotic stories. I wrote them when I was in graduate school. They were cheap entertainment for both of us… a good distraction from public health and social work courses and internships. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my programs. It’s more that I’ve always had an innate need to write. I’ve always done it. I was always good at creative writing in school.

In the same way, I make music… or, I sing other people’s songs… at least for now. I’m still working on becoming a better guitar player. Maybe when that happens, I’ll write an original song. That could be a goal. My YouTube channel has picked up more followers lately, although I still don’t have that many. My song covers on YouTube are less controversial than my blog posts are. đŸ˜‰

So, I guess the meaning of all of this is… I write because I’ve got nothing better to do, other than scrubbing lime stains out of the toilet, picking up dog shit in the backyard, and doing the laundry. I’m not a super happy housewife, but I’m probably happier doing that than working in a dead end job or waiting tables. I tell myself the blog is for me. If anyone else reads and enjoys it, so much the better. I actually like to read old posts, because they remind me of times past. I especially like the book reviews. But does it make me a worthwhile and productive person? Who knows? If people can’t or won’t comment, I can only guess.

It’s still easy to get discouraged, though. It’s discouraging when you rent a place to live, and the former tenant acts as a tattletale/spy and then kills herself. It’s discouraging when people are shitty because they don’t like the name of the blog, even if they’ve never even read it. It’s discouraging when no one can comment or wants to comment… or it looks like no one is even reading. It all starts to feel really pointless and dumb.

If I didn’t have my blogs, though, I’d probably still spend my time doing equally pointless and potentially destructive things. Blogging, in a sense, keeps me out of trouble and forces me to use my mind. But then, I post something that gets me into trouble… Maybe it’s better to write these things than say them out loud.

Ah well. I’ll probably have to engage the WordPress support people again soon. But for now, I hope some people are able to post comments, if they wish. I also hope those who do post comments remember that there’s a person behind the screen. Be gentle.

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