Getting Geeky on Guitar

So I have been getting nerdier in my old age. I have been a guitar geek more years than I can remember (okay, I can remember: 16 years). Looking for great tone and talking about the latest (and the oldest) gear are among my musical past times. Lately I have discovered a new level of guitar geekery: effects pedal modification.

I am just dipping my toe in the water at this point. My first project is to repair and modify a 90’s era Electro-harmonix/Sovtek Small Stone Phaser pedal. Two problems are inherent with this pedal. First it is not true bypass. This means that even when it is not engaged you can still hear the faint swirling of the effect going on in the background. True bypass means that the signal is routed directly from input to output (bypassing the circuit altogether) when the pedal is not engaged so that only your true, unaffected tone comes through. Replacing the footswitch with a 3PDT true bypass will remedy this. It should be a straightforward repair.

The second problem is the volume drops when the effect is engaged. The fix for this is a little trickier. It involves removing two resistors from the internal circuit board and replacing them with two higher impedence resistors. I know this may sound like greek to some of you but trust me…it’s going to be tricky for a newbie like me. However I am looking forward to giving it a shot.

I may also release my inner design geek and remove the guts from it’s ugly army green enclosure and put it in a new enclosure of my own design. We’ll see how the initial repairs go first.

My other endeavor is to build a footswitch for another pedal of mine out of a pill box, a basic momentary switch, a 1/4” mono jack and two pieces of wire and do it as cheap as possible. This will be a very easy build but will be fun nonetheless.

I hope to get to do more tweaking and building in the future. But one step at a time: let’s see if I can fix my Small Stone without ruining it.

When Did the 80s Start to Rock?

In the American vernacular there are several words and phrases that have changed meaning as culture has changed. Consider the word “cool.”  No longer does it refer to the temperature of a room only.  It also describes an attitude, a state of being.  To be “cool” is the ultimate goal of every high school student (and it’s not because the GAP has some great sweaters on sale). 

Another word that has (unfortunately) changed is “gay.”  It once meant “of good cheer.”  Now it of course refers to homosexuality (as do the words “funny” and “queer”).

So when did “dude, that is so 80s” go from an insult to a compliment.  There was a time when one would say “dude, that is so 80s” and it meant “dude, that is over-the-top, outdated, wussified, and/or a bad hairdo.  Now when  you hear “dude, that is so 80s” it is liable to be followed by a high five.

It happened slowly. I remember the 80s somewhat. I remember the hair,the clothes, and of course the music (new wave, hair bands, spandex, classic MTV when they actually played music videos). Then came the 90s and grunge and alternative music rendering everything 80s as dorky and excessive.   However now in the 21st century, twenty years out from 1989, I am starting to see the 80s come back.

I first became truly aware of this phenomenon when I was watching an episode of “Psych.”  A staple of the show is each episode will begin with a flashback from the youth of the main character Shawn Spencer and his best friend Gus.  Usually the year of the flashback is 1987.  During these flashbacks viewers are shown an event in Shawn’s life that will shed light on some of his behavior and ideas as an adult.  The flashbacks have 80s pop culture refrences galore. Everything from kangaROOS shoes (with the pocket on the side) to Shawn and his best friend Gus dressing up as the Tears for Fears guy and Michael Jackson, respectively. 

Another example of the 80s comeback is the clothing that I see many people starting to wear and that I myself am drawn to. Think thrift store.  T-shirts with screen printing or that depict colorful logos (usually advertising an event of the past that the wearer is unfamiliar with).  I recently found a shirt that said “Walking In Memphis” on the front and the backside depicted a guitar with the words “Interact Fashion Show 2005.”  I bought it. I simply liked the way it looked. And tight jeans is another fashion that is coming back especially among young people (who are the only ones who can really get away with it). 

Personally I am in the market for some ROOS.  When I saw that episode of Psych recently I exclaimed “I forgot about ROOS!”  I was never able to own any so I will revisit my childhood and purchase myself a pair of kangaROOS.  With any luck I will be able to find some that are navy blue with velcro straps. 

Dude, that would be so 80s!

Diets Are the Devil

I have never in my life gone on a diet yet in 2005 I lost a little over twenty pounds. My doctor weighed me at 180 lbs. and I slimmed down to 155 lbs. in about two months. I did so by eating moderate portions, cutting out late snacking and getting thirty minutes of vigorous exercise daily (usually brisk walking, jogging, and some weight lifting—just something to raise my heart rate for an extended amount of time). But I still ate normal food. I did however cut out fried food for the most part due to my high cholesterol. Since then I have pretty much kept up this same lifestyle and my weight has plateaued at about 160 lbs. which is what I have weighed consistently for the past two years.

Diets are evilI am satisfied with my weight but [Read more…]

My House Becomes a Bachelor Pad for a Day

Lyndsay did a good thing today. She and her friend Heather decided to make the three hour or so trek to Adairsville to surprise their old chum Randi with a visit.  By Lyndsay’s account the visit has gone splendidly and Randi was very surprised and happy when she saw Lyndsay and Heather at her front door. They were planning on an evening of dinner, hanging out, talking…you know, girl stuff.

Meanwhile, back in Perry…

Dude. Being home alone is awful.  I had some things to do today that filled up my time but good grief.  It is terrible having no one to talk to but your cats for an entire day.  I did some finalizing of the music for church tomorrow. I read some email and some blogs.  Then I did a 40-minute workout on the treadmill.  This was followed by a small lunch.  I watched some special features on my Star Trek: The Original Series DVD set while I ate. That was interesting.  Finally I cleaned out and vacuumed my car and then played guitar until time for supper with the in-laws.

Thankfully Heather’s husband, DH, bailed me out by inviting me over to hang out with him since we are both feeling the sting of domestic loneliness.

Ladies, maybe we husbands do not tell you enough how much we need you around.  Maybe you feel as though we do not pay you enough attention.  But believe me, we sure feel it when you are gone!  *sniff* Lyndsay….hurry home.

Josh H.

I Have Been Published

Letter to the EditorNo, I haven’t written a book or anything that grandiose.  But I did have a Letter to the Editor published in The Telegraph’s Viewpoints section. I had originally intended it to be a blog post but instead I decided to send it off to the paper since I had wanted to write an opinion piece for the newspaper before. It’s truly exciting to see one’s own name in print. After work I bought a paper so I could see it in black and white. Neat.

Josh H.

Happy Birthday, DeForest Kelley

Today we celebrate the birthday of DeForest Kelley who is famous for the role of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on Star Trek: The Original Series.  Bones is one of my favorite characters on Star Trek along with Kirk, Spock, and Scotty.  Oh…er, I guess that’s all of them isn’t it? Anyway, enjoy this montage as we honor the good doctor!


Honest Scrap—In Yo’ Face!

I have gotten plenty of memes in my time as a blogger but never an honest-to-goodness award. Angi over at We Sleep for Dreaming has nominated me with the prestigious (yet most likely unheard of)…

Honest Scrap Award

honest_scrap_award

When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it (hence my over-the-top cocky title for this post), including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!

Ten honest things…okay, here goes:

1. I don’t know if I seem this way to others or not, but I’m actually a little vain. I care about how my clothes and hair look—and yes, sometimes messy IS the look I’m going for.

2. I have been a nail-biter for as long as I can remember. But I have quit for extended periods at least a hundred times. I am now in one of those no-biting periods. Is it for keeps? We’ll see. And for the record, nail biters don’t bite because it feels or tastes good. Nor do we bite simply because we’re nervous. Usually it has to do with trying to smooth out a jagged nail and we can’t quite get it. It’s an OCD thing. It has nothing to do with sadism.

3. One of my aspirations is before I buy the farm I want to write at least one book and have it published.

4. I am vain when it comes to objects I own too. I am an aesthetics kind of guy. I like for my electronic gadgets to not only perform their basic function but to look awesome while doing so. This does NOT make me metro!

5. I sometimes daydream about what I’d say in press conferences if I were the President.

6. I prefer nonfiction over fiction.

7. My first “favorite band” was Guns n’ Roses. I started playing guitar because I wanted to be like Slash. The hair never quite worked out though. I do own a Gibson Les Paul though.

8. When I was 16 my dad, who lived in North Carolina then, bought my first car for me. It was in his name so it had a NC license plate and for some reason that embarrassed me despite the fact that no one ever said anything about it.

9. Every morning when I get out of bed the first thing I do is hook my iPod up to my Macbook and let it download and sync my latest podcasts. Wow! That totally made me sound like an Apple fanboy.

10. Sometimes at work in my cubicle I lip sync to what I’m listening to on my iPod.  I’ve nearly been caught a few times.

Now that you have all that dirt on me it’s your turn; I’m talking to you

Steve at Undeception

Heather at Heather’s Hodgepodge

Jason at Jason & Kimberly

Matt at Shared Ignorance

Leah at 152 Insights Into My Soul (just helping you get to 152)

Heath at Inside the Shack

and of course…

Zeez at Rear Window Ethics (who really, really needs some blog ideas)

Thanks, Angi, that was fun.
Josh H.

Things That Happen This Month

Two and a half weeks to go. Only two and a half weeks until the premiere of the 5th season of my new favorite show LOST. If you have not watched LOST, you are missing a treat. When it first premiered 4 years ago I thought it was a soap opera. I thought they were trying to play on the “Survivor” hype and make a drama and that there would be a lot of relationships and double-crosses and kissing and lies and kissing and break-ups and make-ups and kissing. Actually some of those things are in LOST but with a twist you might not expect. Well except for the kissing, it’s pretty much like all other kissing.

The breadth and depth of the plot of LOST is more than I can explain in a simple blog post. So I won’t try. But if you find yourself on a Saturday night with nothing else to do you have a few options. You can head down to your local movie store and rent the first season. Or (why pay for it when) you can watch Seasons 1 through 4 for FREE on ABC.com. Just make sure you have a high-speed internet connection because dial-up probably won’t cut it (who still has dial-up anyway?).

So on January 21 ABC will be airing the first two episodes of Season 5 back-to-back. You can still get caught up because ABC will post new Season 5 episodes to their website after they air. I can not imagine what is going to happen considering the events of the Season 4 finale.

That same week involves a special day for my other favorite show Star Trek: The Original Series. January 21 is the birthday of DeForest Kelley who played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. He was the one that is famous for saying “He’s dead, Jim!” and “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a ________ (fill in the blank as the circumstance dictates)!” I have ordered the remastered first season of Star Trek on DVD and hopefully it will arrive by then so that I can celebrate the good doctor’s birthday with a little Trekkie geek goodness.

And while you are getting up to speed on LOST, if you find yourself with a Friday evening with nothing to do, why not watch the original series of Star Trek? Yes, it can seem campy at times considering our modern special effects, but the stories are often intriguing. That is…IF…you caaan…endure Kirk’s speech!

Josh H.

Gohmert Tax Holiday Is a Bill

I wrote recently of the 2-month tax holiday proposed by Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert. Well on December 9 Gohmert’s proposal became [just a] bill [sittin’ on Capitol Hill]. H.R. 7309 has been introduced with numerous co-sponsors and has gone to the House Ways and Means committe.

Now, I’ll be realistic. Most bills never make it out of committee. That’s the double-edged sword of our legislative system. It can be very hard for politicians to make changes but on the other hand it can be very hard for politicians to make changes. KnowwhatImean?

But in the meantime it might be good to write or call your Representative and encourage him or her to support or even co-sponsor H.R. 7309. Who knows? I know a two-month holiday would not make millionaires out of any of us, but it would greatly raise awareness in the public conciousness of the extremely high taxes that are witheld from our checks. And subsequently it could lead to tax code revolution.

Josh H.

What I Gave and Received This Christmas

This was a very good Christmas. Lyndsay and I had lots of fun with our family and friends and the gifts given and received were really special. We are grateful to you. But I want to use this post to mention the gifts I gave to and received from Lyndsay this year. I started Christmas shopping online around the end of October. This saves me the headache of shopping last minute. I avoid alot of stress this way.

This year I was uncertain how she’d receive some items but I knew I had at least one good one. In the end she loved everything I gave her…when she’s happy, I’m happy. Here’s what I gave Lyndsay (and the order in which she opened them):

1) Black and Decker Handi-Saw: It’s a small sabre saw. She saw this on TV once and thought it was cool. She enjoyed getting it and I’m sure thought of a million uses for it.

2) A t-shirt that says “I love Monkey business” and features a drawing of a chimp using a computer. This was a lot of fun.

3) Small set of glass bowls with plastic lids for food storage—she specifically asked for these and loved them.

4) A Larger set of glass bowls and dishes with plastic lids.

5) This was the crown jewel: an 11×27 “Rear Window” movie poster. Rear Window is Lyndsay’s fav film and I was so excited to give it to her. She promptly framed it and hung it in our den.

The gifts I received were equally as awesome and I love everything Lyndsay bought for me:

1) Some new black shoes. I don’t have any black casual shoes (both pairs of my black shoes are dressy). Very cool.

2) An awesome Star Trek Original Series 2009 calendar. I am a total trekkie and this was perfect.

3) A set of Star Trek Pez dispensers. This was so unexpected and I loved it.

4) iTunes Gift Card. Always useful. Used it up in about 5 minutes. Seabird is an awesome band. Check ‘em out.

5) “Miracles” by C.S. Lewis. I specifically asked for this. Can’t wait to get into it. But I have two other books to finish first! I always read multiple books simultaneously. It’s a blessing…and a curse.

6) This is a little sad. She gave me Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1 on DVD that she found online (b/c it is very hard to find). But it had some problems so we had to return it. We’ll just have to shop around until we find a copy. But it’s the thought that counts!

Did you notice that I didn’t receive anything computer or Apple related? That’s unusual. Anyway, thank you, zeez, for the great gifts and Happy New Year to all of our friends!

Josh H.