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Saturday, February 17th, 2007 - 6:53 PM

"Sick, Walk, Photos and Song"

This Post Functions as Guitar Progress V let's see if I remember and skip to VI next time!

Last night I began to notice myself getting sick. I'm guessing now that it is a cold. I have not felt very well all day today, but I didn't let it keep me cooped up entirely. In the afternoon I decided to take a walk - for exercise and to get something to eat. Today was a fantastic day, easily the most pleasant of the year so far. I believe it got up into the sixties. The beautiful clouds in the sky were not filled with rain for a change.

After about 7 minutes of walking I turned around and went back home: I realized I would be needing my camera to capture the Signs of Spring. I didn't see sprouting plants or flowers, but the weather definitely indicated a break in the cold (and somehow a beginning for mine).

My ordinary route for walking is to go about 1/2 block north to the entrance to Fanno Creek Park. The park features a path that cuts straight through a significant length of Beaverton and Tigard. The wetland waters were up to the brim and quite visible adjacent to the path, producing many photo ops if you keep an eye out. There was an amazing number of people out, especially families and bikers. I can't imagine it has anything to do with the best weather so far this year. Well, maybe. It's too bad taking pictures of people is pretty much outlawed today. I think some of the best images would involve interesting angles of people in their natural environment - candid shots. I opted not to risk life and lens on such an otherwise rewarding venture. I stuck to shooting scenery.

See EsoShow for photos from the walk

Some lady with da Burger King

I walked about 1.6 miles to Burger King to get a [very] late lunch. Then I stepped back outside and walked the 1.6 miles back to my place. It's interesting that I feel pretty good when I'm walking, even being rather sick. When I stop is when the extra sick-related soreness and fatigue set in.

When I arrived home I resumed playing my guitar and writing this entry. The song of the hour (day) is "I Need Thee Every Hour", an old hymn that I like very much. I don't think we have sung it at church in a very long time. This song contains the very words that are on my heart.

On the spur of the moment I started playing a random chord progression, and I guess it turned into a short, nameless, wordless song. Okay, so it's not nameless: I'm calling it "There's Only One Who Can". I encoded it using the Ogg Vorbis format (I know, weird name - probably why it isn't catching on quicker), since it's free and good. My friend Dave reminded me of its existence a while ago. If you can't play it for some reason (Windows Media Player should be able if you have the proper encoder), here is a site with directions pointing to multiple free players that can handle the files.

Here's the short song (chord progression) for your listening pleasure (or not so much): There's Only One Who Can

I hope I don't come across as boasting with these recordings. In fact, they are quite horrible, and that's the point! I want to share my progress in learning to play guitar, including a way to actually hear my improvements. This one is nothing masterful, but it is certainly better than the one I made almost 3 weeks ago. My chord changes are getting smoother and faster.

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Monday, February 5th, 2007 - 6:57 PM

"Guitar Progress III"

Okay, so it has been seven days since I last posted about my progress in learning to play the guitar. Furthermore, nine days have passed since I bought my guitar, and I'm sure I haven't missed a single day of practice. In fact, virtually all I have been doing with my evenings is fingering frets, fretting about fingers and strumming strings (and in some cases afternoons).

One might wonder if there is anything to show for this practice. I am uncertain whether my progress is slow, average or distinguished. I tend to assume I am learning at an average rate for a person my age. There is enough noticeable improvement to keep me encouraged enough to continue. In fact, I'm hoping my love for the peace that music brings will carry me through times when it feels I'm not improving at all.

Even though I want to continually improve, I don't want to lose site of reality. I have no aspirations or delusions of grandure. Basically all I want is to be able to pick up a guitar and play chords (and maybe melodies) of an average worship song. I don't want to have to forever rely on sheet music. I'd like to be free to make the chords up as I go. Hopefully that is not too much to aspire to.

The realization is becoming plain to me that I need to either take a music theory class or find a way to teach myself some of the basics. There's not a single music fact that I know. I'm basically clueless when it comes to reading music, adapting, interpreting, whatever (I don't even know the terms to describe what I'm talking about!). I think the forceful memorization of chords is going to reach its limitation. I need to know how to build chords, why the notes sound good together, etc.

After nine days I'm already reaching the point where it no longer hurts to hold the steel strings to the frets on the fingerboard. It feels weird to have callouses. Something I'll have to get used to is touching things and not really feeling them. It's as if I have thin gloves on: quite strange. I find it quite amazing to see how the human body adapts to injury, disease, and other various hardships. What a design, eh? Even after the fall, our bodies still do some pretty amazing things!

My latest complaint is a painful pinky. The muscles in my left pinky are rather weak toward the top joint. I can't keep that finger bent naturally when I'm holding the strings. The pressure and angle often cause the tip of my finger to bend back unnaturally. I was unaware of the consequences - it is now quite sore. I'm hoping that either my finger adapts to the pain and that the range of motion is not harmful or I can strengthen it enough to be able to hold a natural inward bend in the joint.

As far as chords go, I've learned a few new ones. So far I haven't pursued learning a ton of new chords. I want to master each one slowly until I no longer need to rely on the chord charts. The C Major Chord, one of the first I learned, is still giving me some trouble. The only chords I am learning are those demanded by the songs I want to play. If there is a chord noted that I do not know, I look it up and attempt to play it. Here are the chords I've learned not previously mentioned (not all of them memorized or perfected, but I've used them):

E Major Chord B Minor Chord F Major Chord A Minor Chord D Minor 7 Chord A Minor 7 Chord

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Sunday, February 4th, 2007 - 2:51 AM

"Valentine Hearts"

Wow! One of my art images is really getting some attention. The last week or so, a growing percentage of inbound traffic on my site has been directed specifically at my 3D computer image, "Valentine Hearts". Hmmm... I wonder why? Could it be that Valentine's Day is just over a week away?

As much as 30 to 40 percent of referral URLs indicate people visit my site by way of a Google Image Search for "valentine hearts". I checked out the results myself, and my artwork shows up on page 6 or so. I'm curious what people are using the image for. They must be using it to make a card or greeting for their loved one. I find it satisfying that one of my images is helping hundreds of people in this important display of love and/or appreciation (whether or not I approve of holidays purposed primarily for making retail dollars). In honor of this event (increased traffic), I'm posting this version of the image, with the standard holiday greeting. Hopefully even more people will find this and put it to "good use".

Valentine Hearts

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Sunday, February 4th, 2007 - 1:08 AM

"Jonah Ministries Winter Camp"

Work on the Camp Jonah web site continues in my spare time. I finally redesigned the home page, a much delayed, integral part (though I still need to add some components even to that). Winter Camps recently passed, and it was time to update the proper page accordingly. In doing so, I created a simple logo for Winter Camp in general. I started out with the simple text in Altnernate Gothic 2 BT font. I played with the colors and basic effects. Some sort of winter concept or object needed to be incorporated, so I went with a snowball. The dot of the "I" resembles a snowball being tossed through the air (well, hopefully it does).

Jonah Ministries Winter Camp Logo

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