Thursday, May 23, 2019

The 10 Sentences



I think it was maybe the first grade, but probably it was the 2nd grade. Yeah, I think it was the 2nd grade. I was already excelling at school, being one of the smart kids, I never got into trouble. I was a strict disciple of the discipline, follower of all the rules.

But one day this kid got me talking. He was one the talkative kids, one of the ones the teacher was always telling to “stop talking” or “be quiet” or “class! Quiet!” over and over again. I guess that was a noisy class that year. I was definitely not one of those kids that talked though, no way. Teacher had my full attention. 2nd grade teacher… Miss F(?)... I don’t remember. Seems like there was an F in it. School was great, I thought. Learning was easy. And they don’t want us to talk, they want us to listen, so that’s what I did.

Except for this time. This kid sits next to me that day and he gets me talking. I just get caught up in the moment, taken away in the flow of the conversation. I’ve never felt this rush before, this has never happened to me. I can’t stop talking to this kid about whatever it was that we couldn’t stop talking to each other about. Evil Knievel or some shit, who fucking knows?

And then it happens. I’m in trouble. After I wantonly ignore the repeated warnings and threats of dire punishment, I’m in trouble for not being able to stop talking to this kid next to me. Miss F(?)’s punishment? Sentences. Our sentence was to write sentences. For me, I received a sanction of 10 sentences. The talking kid got it much worse - 50, as a repeat offender.

When I got home I pretty much told my mom immediately. Honestly, I said it with a little joy, that I had been in trouble. The initial stirring of the “feels good to be a bad boy”. I got in trouble at school! Just like those kids she always seemed worried about me becoming, and that I should not, and that I should be a good boy and follow the rules. I wasn’t sure I was capable, but this day, this day I had gotten into trouble at school. Alright, well, I better serve my suspension dutifully, and be quick about it. She stationed me at the dining table. No, I actually I just went there. I was a weird kid. I liked to sit there and do my homework. Important people had to sit at the dining table and work there, I had seen my dad do it, and he was for sure an important guy. So I sat down, the television was so far away it was really difficult to follow along the storyline of that episode of Gilligan’s Island or whatever it was.

So I got to work on my sentence sentencing. How hard could it be to write 10 sentences? I figured they should be good sentences. I wanted first to write funny sentences, so maybe Miss F(?) might even think they were funny enough to read aloud to the rest of the class. I would turn this punishment into a victory! Oh yeah, good sentences were flowing out of my pencil and onto the paper. Five sentences, six sentences, then I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and this assignment being put behind me.

Then my brain freezes. I struggle, fighting the demons of writer’s block, 8 year old kid-style. One by one, I pull out of the ether the remaining sentences and finish the 10th one my crowning achievement. Mission accomplished. I had committed the crime of being interested in something during school which was not what the teacher was presenting to me at that very moment to be interested in. I had stepped fully out of line. But now, now I was buying my way back into the good graces. Elegantly dropping the full force of my creative genius on Miss F(?) like a literary savant.

I got to class, and out of my bad boy sense of camaraderie I went and sat down next to the talkative kid. He almost got me talking again too much too. Sneaky talkative bastard.
“Did you get your sentences done?” I ask out of genuine sheer concern that my new talking friend not get into more complications. “Yeah, no problem.” He brushed it off nonchalantly, not caring, or, as adult me might describe 40 some years later, as not giving a fuck.

And then that’s when I got a glimpse of his paper, his sentences of sentence. They read:

I will not talk in class
I will not talk in class
I will not talk in class
Etc etc and on and on.  50 times total

Here I had thought that the teacher had given me a challenging, strenuous, complex and innovative solution for me to fulfill my penance for making the heinous violation of talking to someone in class while the teacher was trying to talk. Nope. All along, the sentence had already been mapped out for me, already pre-planned and ready for download to be programmed in. We’re all good little robots, aren’t we?

I scribbled out my 10 “new” sentences in about the 30 seconds it took Miss F(?) to reach our table and collect our pencil lead prostrations.

I usually didn’t talk much in class after that. Not because I was really afraid of having to write the sentences though.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The String Debacle




This is how much of a Rip Van Winkle I am....

So when I went to Joe Satriani's G4 Camp last summer, one of the things I found out about modern guitar preferences is string gauge. Before, strings were a pretty easy selection for me - 9's to whatever they were back then, seems to me the low E would be a 42. Well that's all different now. Players are using heavier and heavier gauge strings, and Phil Collen, Def Leppard's guitarist who was one of the speakers at the G4, even touting the use of 14's. 14's!!!! Like holy fuck those are some heavy gauge strings.

So once I finally unpacked my goodie bag from the G4 (G4 was in July, I unpacked in November... long story) I noticed a few packs of strings given gratis to the campers. D'Addario XL's or something like that. They went from 11-58 I think. Cool! Now I too, will be one of these remarkable heavy gauge players of modern times.

First, I went to change the strings on my old Performance guitar. It used to be my main guitar back in the day, but it's very outdated Washburn Wonderbar tremelo surely relegates it to just an oddity now. Of course it has a special place in my heart though, so I put some of those big heavy strings on it.

After I was finished, I put the bar on and noticed something very odd about the bridge. It was all tilted forward. That's strange, I thought. This guitar had been sitting, mostly, for much of the last 15 years or so. Was it always like that? I thought to myself... No, it could not have been. I adjusted it a little bit, how I remembered which screw to turn on the 1980's class Wonderbar I have no idea, but it kind of worked a little bit. Still looked odd...

Next to focus on my main guitar. I don't really like changing strings much, but I was also changing out the pickup on my main guitar these days, the ESP. So it was an ideal time and I slapped those babies on.

That's when I noticed the odd position of my Floyd Rose. It was leaning forward at  a severe angle. This can't be right. A simple string change, and now I've gone and fucked everything up! I check the intonation too - oh my God not even close! My guitar.... is  screwed up.

Then I think about my other guitars. In addition to the Performance, I had changed the strings on my new Dean Dime guitar a few months before the G4. For that, I had just used regular 9's to 46's which seemed like a solid choice to me at the time. Now I looked at the Floyd Rose on that. It was angled too, but the other direction. The guitar had obviously been sold to me with a heavier gauge already on.

To wrap this up - changing to heavier strings will fuckup action, it will fuck up the way your bridge floats, and it will fuck up your intonation. There ought to be a goddamn warning label on those packages.

For the last month, it has just been deflating to me. I have to go through these 3 guitars and unfuck them up. Plus I still have my Warmoth neck guitar that needs TLC because it's been neglected as well. This morning I made a start, replacing the strings on the ESP and trying to dial in the bridge float. After that I still need to intonate it and then I can move on to the next one, probably the Dean. Meantime I've pretty much let this funk hinder me from any more writing for my JDT project. I picked up the acoustic a few times this weekend, hopefully can get the creative vibes kickstarted once again.

It sucks getting old. It sucks even worse feeling like you have to play catch up on the last two decades.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Next Step for VstheMountain.com

On August 12, 2016, we finally climbed Capitol Peak and finished the Colorado 14ers. It was an amazing personal accomplishment and something I will proudly brag about for the rest of my life. I did not journal it as I did the rest of our 14er adventures, however, and I don’t have a handy trip report ready to post. There is a video (sans music) that I posted over on Youtube, a bare bones telling of mostly the trek across the Knife Edge. If you can make it through 40 minutes of watching people climbing, more power to you.




So a great funk fell over me with regards to this website afterwards. What now? Should that be the end of the story? Should I not renew the web url? Does anyone care?
On a personal note, 2016 saw the winding down of my marriage. My climbing partner and best friend were moving on from me, and it became time to figure out where my life will go next.


I’m still trying to figure that out. But I do think maybe this site is worth keeping around, and maybe I can pitch in a random thought here and there. Maybe “VstheMountain” means more to
me than just climbing an actual mountain. It always kind of did, but when there were literal mountains to climb it seemed more obvious.


This year, as a newly single individual, I’m coming back around to learning about who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. I’ve rediscovered many aspects of myself that I left idle and abandoned for far too long, and the result was my psyche suffered from these omissions to my real personality. I'm going to go ahead and chronicle this journey and leave it to the reader if this is interesting enough to them, or just simply not in their wheelhouse. This blog is for me more than anyone else though, so I'll just do what I want to, no offense.


So you can read the new blogs, or you can just look through the old mountain logs. I’ll just leave this here. Thanks