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And here is the latest snapshot of our front yard daffodils.
There are a few sprouts still left in the middle of the photo, but by the time they finally bloom (if they ever do), the earliest blooms will probably already have started to fade / die.  You can see the one’s on the right are already starting to droop a bit.
Still, next week is the start of Spring and the heralds have sung their glorious hymn!
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On This Day In:
2022 Dreading The Slide Towards War
2021 Joyous Incompatibility
My Heart Will Be Waiting
2019 Two Guarantee Freedom
2018 Less Mouth And More Back
2017 I Ought To Be A Little Careful
2016 Rising From The Ashes
2015 Honor
2014 Disappointment
2013 Seeing Heart
2012 On Success
2011 What This Place Needs Is Another Theory

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Waaay back in 1976, I was stationed in New Jersey and thought I was going to be transferred to a post in California.  (Instead, I got stationed in Germany.)  One of the guys in my company had a Kawasaki 900 motorcycle and he was going to be stationed in New York (State), so he didn’t think he’d be able to ride it enough to justify continued ownership.
To make a long story short, I took it off his hands…  And then road it across the continent!
I was trying to make it across as quickly as possible and was hoping for three thousand mile days of travel.  The first day, I traveled from east New Jersey to about an hour west of Chicago in 17 hours.  I guess the roads were a lot slower / worse then because Google Maps says it’s only about 830 miles and a 12 hour drive.  I’d left at dawn and stopped after 9pm.  My memory says my odometer put it just over 1,100 miles.
The next day was smooth sailing across the farming central states to North Platte, NE.  I recall it being about 600 miles, but Google says it’s closer to 750.  The third day I only got a couple of hundred miles (Cheyenne, WY) before hitting a bitter cold front.  Although I’d only been on the road a few hours, I called it a day and got some sleep.
I awoke to find I was caught in an overnight freeze which turned into a snowstorm.  Because I was traveling in May / June, I was sorely unprepared for the extreme cold and nearly died from the wind-chill and the icy slush constantly being thrown on me by the passing 18-wheelers.  I had picked up a cheap “rain suit” at a roadside gas station, but it was next to worthless as it was not meant to stop ice-rain and wind-chill.
I ended up getting rescued by a guy driving from PA to CA.  He saw me standing on the side of the highway trying to flag SOMEONE down.  My hands were practically frozen solid and he had no ties to tow my bike so we ended up turning around and going to the first available stop to buy some rope, then returning for my bike.  We ended up securing my bike to his open trunk and we proceeded from there.
As it happens, the storm caused a blackout across much of that part of the state (WY).  When we started to run low on gas, we pulled into a gas station but there was no power to run the pumps.  The attendant said the next station was only 30 minutes further down the highway, and it might be on the other side of the power outage.  As there was nowhere to stay or keep warm, we decided to risk it.  We bought a small length of hose – just in case.  Of course we ran out of gas and had to use the hose to siphon gas from my bike to his car.  We did and managed to (finally) get to a working gas station.
When we parted ways, he thanked me for saving his life.  I asked what he meant and he said if he hadn’t stopped for me he would have been stuck out in the middle of nowhere out of gas and probably froze to death waiting for someone to help / rescue him.  I said (the equivalent of):  “What goes around, comes around…  You saved me.  I saved you.”  We shook hands and wished each other good luck on the remainder of our trips.
The rest of the ride (to San Francisco) was pretty uneventful – beautiful, but without anymore life threatening events anyway.  I did break my speedometer flat-lining across the Utah Salt Flats, but that’s a story for another day…
Two more things:  I had a matching color scheme, full-wrap around, Bell Star helmet AND (disclaimer:) the above image is not my “actual” bike.  It is simply and image of the bike I did have and which I found online.  I make no claim to ownership of the image or the bike in it.
I sold the bike / helmet after less than 90 days of ownership when I received my orders to report to Germany.  After my experience crossing the country in the middle of the year, I had no intention of tempting a full winter (or two) on a bike in Germany.
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On This Day In:
2022 Full Of It
2021 I’m Still Learning To Play
What Are You Looking For?
2020 All You Can
2019 No Wall And Not One Dollar
‘Cause It Makes Me Scratch
2018 Mirror, Mirror
2017 Keep On Keeping On
2016 Reflections
2015 Is It Time Yet?
2014 Ask Any Follower
2013 Cornered Or Surrounded?
2012 Escape
2011 Achievement
Not Unreasonable Enough

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Each year, Spring starts and we get our first splash of color.  My wife’s favorite flower is the Daffodil and she has planted them in both the front and back of our home.
Here’s a photo of the brick “planter’s box” we have in front of our house with this year’s sprouts…
So far, only two have started to flower and only one is actually open and blooming…
In addition to the “normal” ones, she has also planted some of the “mini” variety…
And…
Yes, that’s a rusting horseshoe at the feet of Saint Francis.  No.  We don’t play horseshoes…  It’s just one of the many ornaments we have for “eye-candy” in the yard.
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On This Day In:
2022 Suggestions (The Order Of Precedence Is Optional)…
2021 But That’s Certainly Irrational
Just Goin’ To My Room
2020 The Butterflies Are In Trouble
2019 The Deep Center
2018 Oh, Heaven (Too)
2017 Now Pausing Makes Sense
2016 Just Spicy
Only One Part
2015 Positive Acts Of Creation
2014 One Thing Is Clear
2013 Corrections
See Greatness
2012 Gemutlichkeit
2011 Back On The Asphalt

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In my continuing efforts to learn more about playing guitar and making music, towards the end of last year, I began trying some  “finger-picking” styles.  Before that I was either using a “plectrum” (guitar pick) or just casually strumming with my thumb / index finger.  There is an obvious tonal difference between the two: using a pick tends to be louder and with individual notes better defined;  no pick (to me) sounds “fuller” but softer (muffled isn’t the right word to describe the sound, but it’s all I can think of).
Finger-picking is used the most extensively (exclusively) in Classical and Spanish style guitar playing and frequently in Country (“Travis Style”) and Jazz.  As these styles are all far beyond my basic skill set, I have (to date) paid little heed of the physical requirements of this / these style:  Fingernails.
As I began exploring these styles (yes, my reach exceeds my grasp), I kept stumbling on advice for how to maintain appropriate nails – length and shape.  And, in turn, I’ve tried growing my nails out…

PIMA“: P = pulgar (thumb); I = indice (index finger); M = medio (middle finger); A = anular (ring finger)

Traditional “Classical” style uses the thumb (“P”) and three fingers (“I”, “M”, “A”).  The “pinky” is unused.  Traditional “Travis” style uses only thumb and index finger, but most guitarists nowadays use at least two fingers (and usually three).

1 – 2 mm past your finger / nail join point

The traditional “strike-zone / sweet-spot” for finger-picking is the point where the nail and finger join.  This allows the guitarist to both deaden a moving string (using the finger pad) and get the most precise release point for the string (the edge of the finger nail).
Of course there are a variety of individual factors which determine how long and what shape your nails need to be, including: the shape of your fingers, the width of your nails, the shape of your nails, the distance from the join point (finger and nail) to the top of your individual fingers and the angle of “attack” you use to pluck each string.

Poorly shaped, but approaching the correct length

Bottom line?  Too much, too soon.  Yes, I can feel the difference when playing, and yes, I can hear the difference, but this is a LOT of hassle.  I have a LONG history of OCD with my fingernails.  I don’t bite them, but I keep them VERY short and just going a few weeks to grow them out this far is driving me crazy!  LoL!!
So, no, I won’t be keeping my right hand nails long…  And, so, my dreams of becoming the next Andrés Segovia / Merle Travis must fall by the wayside…  (Just kidding.  I have NEVER dreamed that!)  Now, where are my clippers?
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On This Day In:
2022 Do People Know What You Stand For?
2021 The Republican Party Can Survive Trumpism (If It Wants To)
Don’t You Ever Ask Them Why
2020 Art Work
One Person (Republican) Can Make A Majority
2019 Hopefully, Closer To Noon
Can You See The Bottom?
2018 Stock Market Sets Another Record Under #DumbDonald
#LyingDonald: About That Special Prosecutor Testimony
2017 We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
2016 But You Have To Learn It Feels Good
2015 Never Stop
2014 Caution
2013 Treat Her Like A Lady
2012 Build New Worlds
2011 I Grok Elegance
Standing Relish

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Each Christmas season, our tradition is to get our Christmas tree the first full weekend of December and to take it down the first full weekend after January 6th (aka: the “Feast of the Three Kings” or “Epiphany” or “Little Christmas”).  We have a secondary tradition of purchasing a representative decoration for each year.  Sometimes they are religious (angels, stars, etc.), sometimes they are Christmas but humorous and sometimes they are topical (StarTrek, StarWars, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, etc).  This year’s ornament was a Santa riding a red fire engine.  Anyway, we are getting ready to take the tree down the weekend after this, so I thought I’d post a few pictures of this year’s tree and ornament…  (You can click on the image to see a larger version.)

2022 Christmas Tree

2022 Santa on a Fire Truck Christmas Ornament

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On This Day In:
2022 2021 Tree And Ornaments
2021 2020 Tree And Ornaments
My Bag
2020 Still Looking
2019 Too True
2018 Simon Says
2017 Next Cell
2016 Important Knowledge
2015 Are You Still The Exception?
2014 In Answer
Days Are Passing
2013 Opportunity
2012 Appropriate Qualities
2011 A Place To Hang My Hat

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Hil & me on our wedding day at City Hall in San Francisco, CA (3 Dec 1984)

Hil & me on our wedding day at City Hall in San Francisco, CA (3 Dec 1984)

 
When I wake up to you every day, I’m reminded that saying ‘I do’ was the best answer of my life.  After all these years, I’m still happy that you said it too!
 
Happy 38th Anniversary, Hil!
 
Love Always,
Your Kev
XXX
00
X
    —    kmab]
 
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On This Day In:
2021 Happy 37th Anniversary, Hil!!
2020 Happy 36th Anniversary, Hil!!
2019 Sampling 3:16
  Happy 35th Anniversary, Hil!!
2018 Happy 34th Anniversary, Hil!!
2017 Happy 33rd Anniversary, Hil!!
2016 Happy 32nd Anniversary, Hil!!
2015 Happy Anniversary Hil!!
2014 30th Wedding Anniversary
2013 Number 29 (And Counting)
2012 Hammer ‘N Roses
  Happy Anniversary
2011 I Can Hear It Now
   

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2022 Veterans Day Poster

The image / poster was taken from the Veterans Administration web site:  http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/gallery.asp where you can see each of the posters since 1978.
[To all who are serving, to all who have served, and to all those who have waited patiently for their return, “Thank You!!
If you have the time, take a minute to read:  What Is A Vet?    —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2021 Veterans Day – 11 November 2021
Service Can Be As Simple As Standing Up When Called
2020 Veterans Day – 11 November 2020
Thankful
Remembrance Day – 11 November 2020
2019 Veterans Day – 11 November 2019
2018 Veterans Day – 11 November 2018
2017 Veterans Day – 11 November 2017
2016 Veterans Day – 11 November 2016
2015 Veterans Day – 11 November 2015
2014 Veterans Day – 11 November 2014
2013 Veterans Day – 11 November 2013
2012 Monkey Business
Veterans Day – 11 November 2012
In Others
2011 Veterans Day – 11/11/11
Deeply Confused (Still)
2010 We are not from fearful men and I Am Not Afraid!!
Veterans Day – 11 November 2010
2009 Narrowly missed first weight goal, but still happy…

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Last evening we attended the kick-off re-election gathering / party for my daughter (Rebecca), who is running to keep her seat on the Contra Costa County Community College Board.  If re-elected, this will be her second four-year term on the board.  Even though a junior member of the Board, she has already completed a year long rotation assignment as Board president and she hopes to be able to continue to bring her energy / exuberance to bear helping students achieve their life ambitions via affordable education.
Ever the proud dad, I encourage everyone reading this to make a donation at:  Rebecca Barrett for Community College Board 2022
If a donation is beyond your means, I hope you will get involved in your local politics and make your part of the world a better place for all.  Believe it or not, your limits ARE your imagination and your willingness to stand up and participate in making the future you want to see.
If nothing else, please be a part of the solution:  register for and VOTE in the upcoming election(s)!
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On This Day In:
2021 Living At The Edge
A Simple Song
More Sounds (Guitar Review)
2020 Poor Proof
Right From The Start
You Voted For An Incompetent And Corrupt Business Person To Drain A Political Swamp
2019 I Wish This Were More True
2018 Used To Rejection
Day 16: Looking Ahead (Just A Little)
2017 Tonight
I Rejoice
2016 Conscientious Courage
Speaking Of Which…
2015 The Beautiful Snow
2014 Nurtured By The Voices
2013 Précis
2012 Fear And Understanding
2011 Just Being Human

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Warning:  This is LONG post…  It won’t hurt my feelings if you’re not interested in my guitar reviews and go now…  (LoL)
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    kmab]
* Guitar Acquisition Syndrome
Background:  For the last 19 months, I’ve been trying to teach myself about music and playing guitar.  To date I have now purchased nine “inexpensive / cheap” guitars.  This is the review of my latest:  a Fesley “Strat” style Electric Guitar (Sunset color)…  What is a “Strat” style?  If you’ve ever seen a picture of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar, it was probably a “Strat”.  Strat is short for Stratocaster and is one of the two “main” styles of electric guitar.  It is characterized by two “cutaways” (one on either side of the neck where it attaches to the guitar body);  “horn” shapes which are more reminiscent of bulls horns than of devil’s horns;  and, the guitar body is solid (not hollow) with six steel strings.  The “horns” are usually of slightly different shape and are normally slightly offset (not mirror images) with the more forward horn on the base-string side of the guitar.  The “Strat” was created in the 1950’s by the Fender corporation.  The Strat usually comes with three single-coil pickups and may also come with a tremolo bridge.  The “pickup” is what translates the steel string vibration in front of a magnet and converts it to electrical impulses which are amplified into the sounds you hear coming from the amplifier.
Anyway, as stated in several prior reviews, I’m retired and I have a significant price point and life time (mine) limitation when making discretionary purchases.  I haven’t found my music / guitar sound or style (or hero), so I’m playing around at the bottom of the market in search of one, both or all three.  For those of you readers who are unfamiliar with the price of music instruments, a decent quality, name brand guitar “probably” runs near USD $1,000.  (If you are lucky, you can find the same model used for half that.)  At half that price (USD $500), you can also normally find the same name brand (or their subsidiary) selling a new entry-level model of substantially lower quality.  You can also go (quickly) the other direction to many times that price before you even get to custom guitars.  Specific historic guitars sell in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars!
I now have nine “cheap / inexpensive” guitars of various style / types, and, not counting books and accessories (tools, tuners, picks, cables, gig bags, straps, etc), I’m just over the $1,000 “all-in” mark.  My wife believes I’m a hoarder and while she supports my trying to learn music / guitar, she does NOT approve of my continuing guitar purchases.  I (on the other hand) still feel the need for one last guitar before pausing to concentrate on the “right” one – which I may never find / buy.  I will probably get that “last” inexpensive one before the end of next year (2023).  I actually have my eye on two types I don’t already have.  After that, I will be playing them each, and, over time, upgrading the bits and pieces on them until I’m more or less happy with each.  Some, like my three-quarter size acoustic are so minimalist it really can’t have much changed out.  Of course, as my luthier skills improve, there is a seemingly endless pool of tools to spend (my wife would say “waste”) money on.  And, there are also amplifiers.  On the issue of amps, I only have my initial 20-watt amp from the purchase of my first electric guitar.  I’m sure it’s “crap”, but I very rarely use it, so it may be some time before I get a second / replacement amp.  At the moment, I play my acoustic guitars in the day and my electrics sans amp at night.  The main time I use my amp is when I get a new guitar and want to verify the electric bits work.  Because I just starting to gain an ear for electric sound, I still can’t tell if the electric guitars are good or not – only if they play at all.  As an aside, in my prior reviews, I mistakenly said my amp was a 10-watt amp.  It turns out it is a 20-watt.  Not that it matters, as it is NEVER turned up, and still rarely used.
Start of review:
Ordering:  I ordered the guitar on Amazon.com.  The general price on Amazon varies from $169 to $119 (depending on the color chosen), not including tax or shipping.  I have NO idea why the price varies by color!!?!  But, of the colors available, the one I wanted was the least expensive anyway.  I purchased the item via my daughter’s Amazon membership, so shipping was free.  The price ended up:  $131.54 (delivered).  I “earn” $100 gift cards for Amazon about once every six months by answering questions on a marketing / polling / survey site.  Although this is “real” money, it does not come out of my retirement money, and since I’d be answering the surveys anyway – it’s “free” money (to me, but not to the IRS).  The price of a “moderately” decent padded guitar gig bag is $20-$30 on Amazon.  So, basically, I got an electric guitar and gig bag for the price of a gig bag:  $31.54!! (LoL)
Delivery:  I ordered mine on Thursday 28 July 2022 (evening) and it arrived on 4 August, mid-afternoon.  Amazon’s delivery estimate was spot-on.  On delivery, the exterior box was slightly crumpled on several edges;  the interior box had no damage at all.  On opening the interior box, the guitar was inside the padded gig bag and there was no damage at all to the guitar.  This is the first guitar I’ve received “double-boxed”.  My only comment is the interior box was free-floating and slid around inside the larger exterior box.  All-in-all, I am very happy with the delivery.
What you get:  (Specifications)
Brand:  Fesley
Model:  Fesley ST Electric Guitar Morandi Series
Style:  “Strat” with tuners on one side of the headpiece
Price:  $119.85 — my price was $32 including tax (out of pocket).
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Sunset (Front and back)
Weight:  9.73lbs
Number of frets:  20
Number of strings:  6
String Material Type : Nickel Steel
Guitar Pickup Configuration:  H-S-S (humbucker / bridge, single / middle, single / neck)
Guitar Bridge System:  Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge with tremolo system (push-in “wammy” bar)
Controls:  4 – 1 switch (5 positions), 1 x Volume, 2 x Tone;  the three knobs are black plastic with no numbers
Color – Black:  Zinc Alloy Tuners, a Single String Guide, Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge, Wammy Bar, Volume and Tone Controls, Inlaid Fret Dots
Body Material:  Poplar
Neck Material Type:  Poplar
Fretboard Material Type:  Hard-maple
Neck Info:  C-shaped neck profile with satin finish;  20 frets, marks (dots) on the neck and top of the fingerboard help guide / play;  430mm radius
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Unspecified (I think it’s plastic)
Pick Guard:  None
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x Wammy Bar (pop-in style, not screw-in style)
2 x Spanner Tool (for adjusting the neck / truss rod and one for setting intonation)
1 x Padded Gig Bag
Double boxed for delivery
First impression:  right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich sunset (sunburst) front AND back.  It is thin and feels small and light.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.  The edges of the fret board are smooth and fret sprout is non-existent!  I could NOT feel the frets from the side of the neck.  I had to slightly curl my fingers around the edge.  They are not rounded on the ends – ball-bearing style – so you still have to be a bit careful running your fret hand up and down the neck, but this is among the best fret work I’ve ever gotten on any of my guitars. It remains to be seen if this continues after the guitar has had a chance to acclimate for a couple of weeks.  I don’t think it will be an issue…  The guitar was in a plastic bag with the wammy bar and tools rubber-banded to the neck.  The strings were paper bound for their protection.  There is a little card indicating the guitar was inspected and listing the action height at that time.  I will compare this info later when (if) I do a full complete setup with action and intonation.  It’s also a useful reference for future string changes…  The frets are shiny and smooth and the fretboard looks moist without being shiny.  NO crud comes off the frets on my fingers as I check them (sometimes you can get a bit of blackening on your fingertips) and there is no gritty sound on string bending at a few test points.  (I’m laughing to myself!)  This is the best looking first impression of a fretboard of any of my guitars!!
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – discolored plastic.  Not white, so you almost think it’s bone.  The string groove depth seems fine to great.
• strings – strum… not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny (matte NOT high gloss) finish.  I don’t see ANY dents or faults!!
• pickups – are all magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  The “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.  I would say there is an “unsightly” gap around the pickups.  My other guitars’ with single pickup slots are covered by the pick guards, so you don’t see the gaps.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone(s) both turn smoothly. I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on).  One slightly disconcerting thing is the knobs seem to turn past “0”.  I don’t know what that means.  All of my other guitars fully stop at “0” and “10”…
• tuning pegs – all are smooth and don’t appear to have dead spots.  They are the smallest tuners I have ever felt!  They are functional, but they feel “tiny” between my fingers and thumb.
• action and intonation – the strings seem fine (eyeball test).  I will measure them (for action) in the future.  The intonation is WEIRD!  The intonation is perfect open and at the 5th and at the 12th frets.  All up and down the neck with no dead frets on any strings, but ALL of the other frets are slightly sharp.  To me, this (probably) means Fesley took extra care to get the open, 5th and 12 frets exactly in the right place but were slightly less exact on the remaining frets.  I should point out the difference is similar (if not exact) for all of the other frets and for all of the strings AND I can’t actually hear the difference – but the electronic tuner can.  Just slightly…
Strum… the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  (Except the intonation issue mentioned just above.)  I’m a happy camper…!!!
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections seem solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  All the knobs on the amp and the guitar seem to work.  The slippage on the knobs doesn’t seem to affect anything.  When the knob gets to zero (unmarked), whatever is supposed to be changing stops changing.
Strum… I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes practicing “Ode To Joy“, “Taps” and “God Save the Queen” and then noodle a bit before deciding to pack it in for the evening.  The main thing I notice is the guitar is VERY comfortable to play.  The neck seems short, I don’t have to stretch to play open chords and the body (depth / width) seems to be made just for me.  Mainly the thinner body means it’s easier to hold the guitar body under my strumming arm and against my body.  This guitar has a slightly different cut out angle (from the Glarry) at the elbow which seems to make it even more comfortable for me.  Now, a point of clarification:  This is not a “Full Size” strat style guitar.  At least judging by my Glarry 38.6 / 39in strat style it isn’t.  Just eyeballing it, I’d say the Fesley is almost an inch (maybe only 3/4in) shorter.  FYI:  Glarry says their strat body size (38.6in) doesn’t include the strap button on the bottom of the guitar.  Standing the Glarry and Fesley face to face, the bodies are the same length, yet, the tip of the head-piece is clearly shorter than the Glarry’s.  The difference “seems” to be the bridge on the Fesley is larger than on the Glarry AND it is set farther down the body than the Glarry’s because the Glarry’s pickups are S-S-S while the Fesley’s are H-S-S.  The double thickness of the humbucker requires the bridge to be set down the body.  I also point out the Glarry is a 22 fret guitar.  The Fesley is only 20 frets. Interestingly, this (moving the bridge back) makes it easier to right-hand strum mute the strings on the Fesley than it is on ANY of my other guitars – acoustic or electric!  Go figure…
Next?
Nothing out of the ordinary…  Just tune and noodle.
Check the fret sprout for about a week and do the light maintenance on it for playability.  Then it’s add to the rotation and enjoy!!
Final Recommendation:  LoL!!  Are you kidding me?  Very Highly!  A beautiful, almost perfectly playable instrument for under $35!!!  (Okay, $135 to you…)  I’m laughing all the way to the bank.  (And, still practicing about an hour a day…)
Thanks to anybody who made it all the way through this lengthy post!!
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On This Day In:
2021 Born Again
Begin Writing
2020 Nah… I’m Still Chuckling
Squeaking By With “C’s”
2019 Consider Me A Phony
2018 Last
Day 10: Double Digits
2017 Could You Repeat The Question?
2016 Still Busy?
2015 Why, Just This Morning…
2014 Just Kindness
2013 Now Shaking
2012 Absurdity, n.
2011 Minor Changes
Things I’ve Learned From Life – Nana Carter
Acting Out

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* Greatest Of All Time
Today, with great sadness, I mark the passing of a childhood / personal hero of mine and the man I consider to be the greatest basketball player to ever lace up a pair of shoes:  William (“Bill”) Felton Russell
The following is partial list of his basketball / sports accomplishments:
California High School State Championship:  2X
NCAA Champion:  2X (1955 and March 1956)
NBA Champion:  11X in 13 seasons (1st in April 1957;  then 1959-1966)
Olympic Gold Medal (Basketball):  1X (Nov / Dec 1956)
The average margin of victory over eight Olympic games:  53 points.  To put that in perspective, the average margin of victory for the 1992 “Dream Team”:  43.8 points.
When there is talk of who is the “Greatest Of All Time” (“GOAT”), think about this:  in the space of thirteen (13) months – from March 1956 to April 1957, Bill Russell led teams won an NCAA Basketball Final, an Olympic Gold Medal for Basketball and an NBA Finals Championship.  To say the least:  it is extremely unlikely this particular string of achievements (in this short a period of time) will ever be duplicated.
Bill Russell could wear two NCAA championship rings, an Olympic Gold Medal AND eleven (11) NBA championship rings (eight of them won consecutively)!!!
More importantly, when I think of “personal integrity” and “lifetime of dignity” only a very few names pop into my head.  Bill Russell is one of those names…
It is difficult to compare sports figures across decades to definitively say “this one is the GOAT”.  A great deal of that is based on the personal bias of who you actually saw play during their careers or at formative time periods in your life.  I know some who would favor Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain – and these are certainly all “Mount Rushmore” type historic players;  but, (IMHO) there is only one GOAT:  Mr. Bill Russell.
RIP, sir.  We shall not soon see your like again…
[Disclaimer:  I found the (above) image of Mr. Russell on the internet.  I make no claim to its ownership and have no knowledge of its creator / publisher / photographer / owner.  I have chosen the image simply because it represents some of the essence of Mr. Russell.  If you are the image owner and object to my use of the image, please let me know and I will remove the image from this post.    —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2021 A Democratic Republic Should Promote The Majority While Defending The Minority
Lost In My Soul
2020 In Business And In Politics
A Free Show
2019 What Is True For War Is Also True For Elections
2018 Start By Trying
Day 4: Difficult Day
2017 Outlasting Division
2016 Said The Man Who Trained To Fight For A Living
2015 Tripping On Treasure
2014 The Flower Of Light
2013 Eye Catching
2012 The Holstee Manifesto
2011 Three Crooners For The Shower
The Soldier’s Faith
Vacation, Books And Lots Of Movies

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This post marks the first day of my 14th year of blogging here on WordPress.  A great deal of this post is a repetition of last year’s post…  (And, yes, it’s a long one…)
With almost no change from last year…  The number of countries who’ve visited this site continues to (slowly) grow and the number which haven’t continues to decrease.  North Korea and Cuba are still among them (the latter…)  I’m also still missing a belt across the middle of Africa (but it’s no longer coast-to-coast) and a few spots in Asia.  (Slowly, slowly…  Resistance is futile.)
On reviewing my content over the past year, I’m mostly back to one post a day.  They are almost entirely just quotes with occasional political opinions, infrequent film reviews and rarely book reviews.  I haven’t added near as many posts about learning guitar or music as I thought I would.  I’m not terribly sure why.
My blog is continuing to be part of my “normal” retired life (since 2017).  I routinely receive about 20 to 60 emails (per day) from the roughly 300 blogs I follow.  I say “roughly” because I don’t check how many I follow.  I just looked, and I (still) have fewer than 2,000 followers myself.  Every year there is a trade-off:  you pick up a few steady followers and a few drop off.  Those who actually post about leaving (their own sites) say they are simply moving on to other things.  Most, don’t bother and just stop posting.  A few come back after some period of time.  Many do not.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped blogging.  Some just move to a hosted service to try to monetize their thoughts and don’t provide me a way to follow them.  Or maybe they did and I simply missed the link…
I do have bone to pick with some (many?) of the posts I receive.  Three bones, actually…  First, I receive a large number of posts which don’t contain “Like” options.  This means I have to click to your site and log into WordPress to give you a like.  Most of the time, I will not do this.  I’m just lazy and if you don’t want the feed back, I’m happy to not provide it.  The second is an email with a title and five or six words from your post and then a “read more”.  Again, sorry – PROBABLY 95% of the time, I no longer click through to your site.  If you don’t give me at least a paragraph to hook me, you’ve lost me for that post.  It’s different if you are running a visual / photo site, but not by much.  If you give me one (or two) image(s) per post – fine.  If you regularly have 10 – 15 – 20 images in a single post, I might view one post a week.  And, lastly, in general I only view one post a day from a single source and it’s kind of random…  Sometimes it’s the first.  Sometimes it’s the last.  Sometimes it’s just whatever…
At any rate, I easily spend an hour per day reviewing the posts I get (via email subscription) and sometimes that is simply overwhelming.  It’s not always the average blogger’s fault.  If you post something interesting, I (still) will go off and investigate it further:  authors, artists, locations, books, movies, science / math / history topics – they will all lead me off down the rabbit hole.  And that hole can be DEEP!   There are a few (a handful) of sites which I know are visual and I more frequently click through to the actual site, because I’m interested in the bits which are not offered in the smaller / limited / text based emails I tend to receive.  I apologize if my failure to click-thru affects your view stats negatively…
So, besides this blog, what am I up to?  My health has been mixed.  I’m still morbidly obese and none of my “lifestyle” changes (diets) have stuck.  The problem I have is I’ve had some changes in my meds so I’m not sure if they are affecting me or if I’m just getting older and less motivated – or a combination.  As always, one has to balance the good of the med versus the adverse (potential) effects.  The two which seem the best (for me) are the juicing / blending and the “40hr water fast twice a week”.  The former for losing and the latter for maintaining.  If I can get my meds stable, I’ll probably go on an alternating schedule of these two for a prolonged period.
In January 2021, I purchased my first guitar and I’ve been practicing most every day since. (I miss about one day every other month.)  I “know” my basic (C, A, G, E, D, F, Am, Em, Dm) open / “cowboy” chords and major / minor scales – single string and in first position.  Strumming, finger-picking (Travis style) and chord changes are coming slowly (slower), but they are getting better now that I’m practicing them more consistently.  I now own three acoustic guitars and five electrics, and I have another acoustic on loan from my brother.  I had them on a monthly rotation calendar, but shifted to three weeks at the start of the year (2022).  I’m planning to move to a weekly rotation.  I’m looking into picking up a few (three) more inexpensive guitars and I’ve dropped the idea of basses (for at least a while).  There is no time pressure.  It’s all about my ability to save (here and there) until I can justify a purchase.  [Wife:  How many guitars do you NEED?  Me:  …One more.]  At the moment, the plan is one more strat (type), one more tele (type) and a round-back acoustic.  I didn’t really even think about round-backs before.  I thought they were only over-sized guitars for Mariachi style music, but I’ve learned otherwise.  Anyway, they “tend” to be plastic / fiberglass backs, and I’m interested in what that sounds like.  I have a distinct memory of strumming an “Ovation” (round-back) guitar MANY years ago, but I don’t remember anything about it (sound or feel).  We’ll see…  I am also going to start looking into amps and pedals for the electrics.
The few things I’ve learned (mainly about myself) have truly been amazing (to me).  I do seem to have a smidgen of musical ability (although it’s still buried under layers of doubt).  I’m (still) finding the ability to concentrate on practice to be as relaxing as zoning out in computer programming used to be (in my youth).  Sixty to ninety minutes can easily seem like five or ten minutes.  There is also the complete exhaustion which results from prolonged concentration – however “relaxing” it may feel at the time.  In a strange way, it feels good to be mentally tired at the end of a practice session.
But, am I getting any better at playing?  An objective opinion would be:  Yes!  Am I any “good”?  An objective opinion would be:  No!  Does it matter a whit?  No.  Why not?  Because, like blogging, I’m doing it for the enjoyment of doing it and not for the expectation (mine or anyone else’s) of being any good at playing guitar.  Again, like blogging, as long as it’s fun and interesting and fulfilling, I’ll just keep doing it…  My not so secret goal remains to write a song (lyrics and music) for my wife.  (LoL)
I posted a while back about my guitar goals for the remainder of 2022, but I can easily see them (the goals) extending into 2023.  If I have ANY disappointments over guitars it’s that developing my luthier skills has definitely fallen by the wayside.  I’m happy being able to change strings, round fret ends and play with action and intonation, but it turns out, if you buy inexpensive instruments, the decent quality luthier tools and better quality parts are almost as (or more) expensive as (than) a new instrument.
So, it’s guitar playing and blogging to keep me occupied (and mostly out of trouble).  LoL!!
Other than that, we got one of our bathrooms remodeled back in February 2022 and we’re hoping to get our other one done in early fall.  All things in their time (LoL – and with available funds!)
Once again…  “Excelsior!!
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On This Day In:
2021 Happy 12th Anniversary Of Blogging
We ARE…
2020 Happy 11th Anniversary Of Blogging
2019 Happy 10th Anniversary — Thoughts On My First Decade Of Blogging
2018 Happy 9th Anniversary — Three Thoughts
Day 2 – Notes On Progress
2017 Happy 8th Anniversary
2016 Happy 7th Anniversary
2015 Happy 6th Anniversary
2014 Happy 5th Anniversary
2013 I Resemble That Remark!
2012 Happy 3rd Anniversary
2011 Is America Safe Tonight?
2009 Hello world! (See how it all began…)

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LoL!!  Yesterday, I reported I was shocked to find that for the first time since starting my blog a country other than the U.S. had recorded the most views for a day…
Well, it turns out I pulled a “#TrumpTheLoser” and created Fake News before the final tally…
The “next-day” / yesterday full view count is in and the “balance in the force in the universe” has been restored with the U.S. well over the view count of Australia.  No “Ashes” for the Ozzies, after all.
In my defense, I can only say nobody told ME in advance there would be a end of day surge – AND it didn’t occur to me until today.  (LoL!!  And now I’ll go back to almost never looking at meaningless blog numbers.)
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On This Day In:
2021 No Profit Without Risk
And One For Me
2020 He’s Forgotten About Drugs And Rock ‘N Roll
2019 I Still Walk Daily
A Windy Monday
2018 No Religious Test, Yes Religious Ban
2017 Looking At #DumbDonald
2016 No Great Thing
2015 Happy Memory
Of Two Minds
2014 Sums
2013 Memories & Binging
Admiration Due
2012 Choices Matter
2011 Acceptance Is The Key
2010 Just A Permanent Crease…
Bodily Functions

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Shocked!  Shocked, I say.  For the first time (since starting this blog back in 2009) I’ve gotten more views from a single country which are greater than from the U.S.  Somebody pinch me…  🙂
Over the years, Canada and India have come the closest (Canada most often), but they never quite got there.  Thank you “Down Under”!
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On This Day In:
2021 The Truth Shall Keep Us Free
Let Your Hair Down
2020 But What About Tomorrow’s Blog Post?
2019 Don’t Forget Obstruction Of Justice
An Honest, Unvarnished Assessment
2018 #45 And The Republicans Are Pretending (So Far)
2017 Made
2016 Halves
Accepted Fraud
2015 Even The Little Ones
2014 Who’s On First?
2013 No Equal Measure
2012 A Single Host
2011 No Exemptions
2010 Memories Of KSA – Inside The Fire

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Image of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

As we gather around our dinner and picnic tables
enjoying the freedom you sacrificed your lives to provide for us,
a grateful nation
remembers
and prays for you and your families…
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On This Day In:
2021 How Trump Won The Fringe Right
Hold My Hand
2020 I’d Include Health Care
2019 Accustomed To It
2018 Booking My Trip Into The Expanding Universe
2017 Fear Instead Of Convictions
2016 Memorial Day – 2016
2015 A Handful Of Reviews
And You Can Quote Me
2014 Get Wisdom
2013 Enjoying The View?
2012 Adam’s Rib
2011 I’m Sure I Remember That…
Memorial Day, 2011

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Hil and I playing “relaxing tourists” somewhere in NorCal or Oregon about 10 yrs ago.  (LoL)
Thirty-Eight years ago I met the love of my life…   Loving her a little more each day makes getting old easier than I ever imagined it would be.
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On This Day In:
2021 Happy Meeting Day 37 (And Counting)
2020 Happy Meeting Day 36 (And Counting)
2019 Happy Meeting Day 35 (And Counting)
2018 Happy Meeting Day 34 (And Counting)
Storytelling
2017 Happy Meeting Day 33 (And Counting)
2016 Picture Perfect
2015 Life Showed Compassion
2014 And Then I Met Her
2013 Defining Maleness
The Run Continues
2012 All Set
2011 Not Always

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