Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nothing Much

Just some wind here about from Sandy for which I am thankful. I really feel for all those in the Northeast that are getting hit. Every time one of these "able to prepare for" events comes up I am just amazed or ashamed or aghast that no one talks about the folks that are just scraping by. Everyone of them has long since used their food stamp money as it is the end of the month and won't see any more until Thursday at the earliest. The talking heads go on and on about stocking up on batteries and canned food and water and all that but the reality is that there are probably millions of families that don't have two nickels this time of month in Sandy's path. What should have happened is that all their food stamp debit cards should have had an emergency addition a day or two ago and they might have been able to buy a cheap flash light and a can of beans. It's just really depressing. All I have to complain about is that it turned a bit chillier than I expected and thus I wasn't properly prepared for my outdoor shift in the garden center last night. Only got down to about 50F but with the wind I nearly froze.

Finally got another day off today which allowed me to actually get to the gym for the first time in nearly a week. I had pans to do a little gardening today but it is just too windy. I'll spend some time practicing the guitar and cooking. I need to charge my batteries because I'm scheduled almost a full 40 hours this week....so much for part time.

Speaking of cooking...
The cool and windy weather has prompted me to make a nice beef stew for dinner...a nice little piece of top round chunked up and braised in red wine and a mirepoix, a little tomato paste and some beef broth, a couple of bay leaves and a tablespoon of dried thyme. It will braise in a slow oven for a few hours and then before serving I will add pan roasted whole shallots and some sauteed(in butter) baby portabellas and crisp lardons. Just have to decide on the wine but I am leaning toward an Italian old vine Zin which should pair well. It was only 6 bucks at Trader Joe's and it is a very good value. I had the first bottle with a lamb stew I made last week which was also a slow braise BTW and it was excellent.

Speaking of guitar...
My teacher gave me a tough assignment to nail before the next lesson and that is master all five "boxes" of the pentatonic scale in "E". If you know anything about guitar and pentatonic scales it is the shapes that are important and if you can do it all in E then you can do any scale by just starting on another note. It is important in that it lets you utilize the entire fret board. I can do them slowly with only the occasional flub but speed is eluding me. I'll get it but it is not easy. I still haven't understood why the pentatonic scales leave out the C and F of the sacred basic C scale but I.m sure there is a good reason or at least some monk in the middle ages thought there was.


karmanot said...

FM, I bet Steve Bates would know the answer to that last question.

Steve Bates said...

Scales underpin keys; pieces of music since about 1650 or thereabouts are written in keys. Their implications were different to composers of different eras, but today it has become convenient to teach students scales because they occur, in whole or in part, in so very many actual pieces of music. Major scales all have the same interval pattern (starting on the note name of the key, e.g., F Major starts on an F, but has the same interval sequence as C Major). Minor scales come in three flavors at least, harmonic and two kinds of melodic (ascending and descending), and owe a lot to an earlier period of music in modes not keys.

You practice your scales. I do, too, with just a slight twist: I pick a key, play the scales a couple of octaves up and down, play the I, IV and V (or i, iv and V [sic!]) chords characteristic of the key; finally, I improvise scale fragments up and down to a chosen harmonic pattern, doing my best to make everything fit evenly and voice-lead smoothly. Accompanists especially need to know scales and keys and contexts for everything; it's part of the trade. And it really does get easier with time!