Thursday, December 13, 2018

A narrow window...


After lunch out with Mike and MJ, it was a beautiful drive back across the causeway - the water was as flat and pretty as I've seen in quite a while.  About 77º, reasonably light breeze.  The next cold front is forecast to move in this evening - not much of a chance of rain, but the winds will be out of the north in the 30s gusting to upper 40s!

If a guy was going to pull the cover off the boat and take it out for a short cruise, it had to be now.  Joan declined my invitation due to working on another project... but said, "I'll push you off and catch lines for you when you get back.  Have fun!"

I took the cover off; well, took the cover mostly off: I left it connected across the front of the boat.  You can see it over the front railing as I headed out our canal...



Plenty of excursion boats tied off at the wall of the nearby marina, where they will have protection from the predicted north/northwest winds...


Check out how beautifully flat that water is right now (above photo).  Heading into the turning basin, there are a few vessels tied off...





Before getting out of the turning basin, my first view of a dolphin was one jumping completely out of the water...


Yeah, that was as fast as I could grab the camera - just in time to catch the splash.  Well, I might as well take some time to look at some dolphins - it has been a while.





Seems there is some dolphin nookie happening, as well...




It was good to see them again.




Some heads and tails...




Wanting to run the boat at bit (it has been over a week since we've been out), I waved bye to the dolphins and headed for the ship channel.  This shrimper is heading in - good timing on his part...


Looking west into the contrasty light...


The wind was starting to come up - nothing big, yet, but I knew I would have to wash down the boat and get the cover back on it.  Time to head in.

That isn't a manatee on the boat - the cover (still tied up front) is billowing in the wind...




Day 3, song 3...


I would imagine this is one that would qualify as a Beatles' "silly little love song."  Joan likes it and asked me to play it for her last week.  I used to play it a long time ago on keyboard, but the chord changes are pretty intuitive; so, I've been playing it for her since then.

I wasn't sure what song to record this morning, so here is one for my Honey...

https://soundcloud.com/captainjimb/ill-get-you

Love song... stalker... yeah, either one works.  ;-)

7 tracks: one guitar (X20), bass, drums, shaker, a lead vocal track, and two backup vocal tracks.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Another day, another tune...


Still learning all the capabilities of the Spire Studio.  Some experimenting today: using the onboard condenser mic and an external dynamic mic; two guitars (Emerald X20 for the acoustic, X10 for the electric), bass, drums; vocal track, harmony track.

https://soundcloud.com/captainjimb/wild-night-1


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Where there's smoke...


Well, there was a lot of smoke.

Joan was was out getting some stuff for a plumbing repair; when she got back, she told me about the heavy smoke outside.  Stepping onto our deck, you could see it - and smell it.  And with wind out of the south, this is west and north of us - glad to not be downwind of it.

She suggested I get out on the scoot to see what is causing the smoke; well, I said I was going for a ride and then she suggested that.  From our home perspective, it looked really close - turns out it was about 5 miles west and a bit north of town.  Off Highway 48 for those keeping track... yes, that used to be "the most dangerous highway in Texas."  The Highway Department expanded that highway to 4 lanes and put a concrete barrier between the east and west bound lanes - you would have to really work at it to have a head-on collision.  Then, in their wisdom, they raised the speed limit... can't have things too safe, ya know.

Heading through our village...


Through Port Isabel, then west on Highway 48...


Even with the wide angle lens on the GoPro, you can see that is a LOT of smoke.  Nothing out there but grass and cacti.  As I continued west I saw some vehicles on the side of the road in the other lane - as I got closer, I could see they were standing around what looked like a dead animal in the road.  My heart went into my throat... this area is a wildlife corridor, used by the highly endangered ocelot.  There are estimated to be fewer than 200 of these animals left in North America, and this tip of Texas is the only place in the United States where they can be found.

With the concrete barrier between the lanes, you are limited to where you can turn around.  After getting past the fire, I took the first turn around I could.  As I went by, it was clear that this was a grass fire; no idea if it was planned or not.

Heading back east on Hwy 48...


When I came to that dead animal in the road, it turned out to be an ocelot.  It had been hit more than a few times - there was a bit of fur left, so it was clear to see what it was.  When I got to a safe place to stop, I called the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area that is a haven for the last remaining ocelots.  I gave the information to the gentleman on the phone; no one had called it in, yet.

When I got home, I got a phone call from one of the officers from the Refuge.  I told him what I saw, and where it was located.  He was already heading that direction to see if there was a collar on that ocelot.  He thanked me for reporting it.

The loss of one of these animals makes me sad.  I am hoping that those people who had stopped and were looking at the carcass weren't cutting fur off of it.

A recording...


Six tracks (two guitars, bass, drums, vocal, harmony) - all in, about an hour...

https://soundcloud.com/captainjimb/ticket-to-ride-test

Easy with the new Spire Studio recorder.  I think I will be having a lot of fun with this.  Who needs to go outside?  Well, it is pretty nice out there today.  ;-)




Monday, December 10, 2018

Track one, take one...


We made a run into "the city" (Harlingen) today.  As much for the outing as anything else.  Joan picked up some stuff for a project, and lured me with: "How about lunch at Chick-Fil-A?"  Yeah, I'm that easy.

I had been checking my e-mail, expecting a UPS delivery today... another bit of recording equipment, a Spire Studio recorder.  Those three little words this morning: Out For Delivery.  By the time we were heading home, it still hadn't been delivered.

Rufus was in need of some outdoor time when we got home, so we sat out on the deck with him.  Sunny today, but still cool (around 61º for a high) - it wasn't bad with a sweater on.  Rufus was wearing his luxurious fur, so he was quite content.

Still no UPS.  I got in a 15 minute nap.  Then, just before 5:00, Joan said, "I hear the truck."  Sure enough, when she opened the door, the UPS guy was just coming up the steps.

Opening the box, it was like one of those Russian dolls: a box in a box in a box.  The Spire is in a cylinder-shaped box, and is compact...


While it looks like some kind of game, it has a quality condenser mic, two additional channels with Grace Design pre-amps, and the best part: sound processing technology that eliminates setting levels and compression... all the fun, without the fuss.  Well, that's the premise.  After testing it this evening with guitar (acoustic and plugged in), vocals, bass, and drums... I am impressed.  Mixing is easy, using a graphic interface on an iPad (or iPhone).  You do a 10 second sound-check and this thing analyzes that and sets the levels; you are immediately ready to record.

There will be a learning curve with mic placement and adjusting the various effects (reverb, amp emulators, etc) - there are even bass amp effects.  This allows you to plug directly into it or place it in front of the amp speakers, depending on what you want for sound.  The condenser mic is sensitive enough that it was picking up the "whir" from the ceiling fan... I couldn't hear it with my ears, but I could see it graphically on the recording.

I laid down 6 tracks with different vocals and instruments in less than an hour.

Over the next few days, I'll get more comfortable with it and get some results posted here.

When I went into the music room to test it out, Rufus came and sat in there until I was done - the boy likes music.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Clothes make the man...


Or, woman.  Person.  With "Baby, It's Cold Outside" under fire, I'm not sure what a guy can say anymore without catching flack.

It is another cold, drizzly, windy day here.  You're probably tired of reading that; I'm sure tired of living that.  It continues to be the coldest, wettest late autumn I recall here.

But, there is someone who was happy about this.  Yes, Joan.  Oh, she shares the same aversion to winter weather as me, but she bought some flannel-lined jeans a while ago at Bass Pro... and says they are very comfortable.  It was 55º here this morning; that is flannel-lined territory.

Out for breakfast this morning.  There is something forlorn looking about palm trees and gray skies - it just doesn't seem right.  On the bright side: we saw dolphins as we were crossing our bridge.  :-)

Breakfast at Pier 19 - Saturday and Sunday feature Andrew on guitar and vocals there...


My Honey took a photo of me (it's usually the other way around)...


Yes, that is a sweater... I'm speaking of the garment, not the guy wearing it.  Too chilly for much sweating right now.  I do have some flannel-lined kahkis from our time with the whale watch companies... I'm not as excited about putting those on as Joan is about her jeans. 

I don't have any Christmas socks, though...


It's the difference between bracing for the weather and embracing it.  ;-)