Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Violin, Part 3, A New Old Friend

Some projects I work on actually turn out okay.  I finished the violin tonight.  I repaired the peg holes, and have all the pegs sitting very tight in the violin.  The bridge fit perfectly.  I actually managed to get the soundpost installed.  And the thing that surprised even me.... I didn't break a string.  I was sure I was going to break one of the strings, especially the high E string.  But I got her up and playing well.  Well, I think she plays well.  I still have to have a violin player really play her, and give me their thoughts. 

So a few people are asking me, "Why did you buy and repair a violin when you don't even play violin?"  Well, it's actually kind of a personal story.  When I was with my former girlfriend Roxy (not her real name,) I told her once we were married with our own house we should adopt a Chinese girl.  I think that world is overpopulated as it is, and it would be nice if every couple had one child and adopted one child.  Or if they wanted three children, have two and adopt one.  I'm all for a woman's right to choose, but I don't like how Chinese baby girls are treated.  I feel they are put in the same class as drowned puppies. 

I was hoping that we could adopt a Chinese baby girl, and I could help get her started playing the violin.  I know I couldn't teach her how to play, but I know lots of available violin teachers.  I thought it could be something we could do together, since I play the cello.  I didn't want to have a violin that was mass produced garbage.  It just seems the new violins on the market are soulless.  They just seem boring both in tone and color.  This violin has soul.  It has battle scars, multiple repairs, real shelac finish, and a warm tone. 

But this is the sad part.  I am no longer together with Roxy.  I am starting to get a little old to have a family.  So I have this violin as a reminder of what could have been.  I hope that this violin has a purpose in the future.  I want to believe that it came to me for a reason, and that it will be used and loved in the future.

Here are the repaired peg holes, and re-shaved pegs.

Here are two pictures of the bridge I fit.  I can't say made, but I did cut from a blank.

And here she is set-up and ready to go.

Baritone/ Cello/ Guitar

I know.  I need another guitar like I need a hole in the head.  But this is different.  I swear.  When I was in high school I wanted a guitar that I could tune like a cello.  But I didn't know much about guitars back then.  In fact, I knew nothing.  I think I made a mistake in that, I went to the Florida Guitar Show with a friend, and the guitars I wanted, Gretsch archtops, cost $1600.  Remember, I was making $4.80 an hour back then.  That means, I was taking home $120 a week.  Then, when you figured with an amp and pedals, there was no way I could afford a guitar.

What I didn't know is that, there were guitars that were made pretty well, and didn't cost near that.  If I had gone to a few music stores, and talked to a few salesmen I would have learned a bunch.  I could have gotten a good archtop guitar for a pretty good price. 

Now it is years later, and I want to continue with my project.  Since I know more about guitars, and guitarmaking than should be allowed, so I've come up with what I want.  I found out that a regular guitar does not have a long enough scale length to suit a cello scale.  What I actually need is a baritone guitar.  That way I can put thicker strings on it, and it will have a longer scale length. 

After reading up on it, I decided to go with a Telecaster style guitar.  The single coils work well in a baritone, and help balance the sound out.  It basically keeps it from getting too muddy.  I am going to use a tele humbucker that is found in the 72 Tele Custom guitars for the neck position.  I have a Dimarzio Blue Velvet Stratocaster pickup that I will put in the middle, and a Kent Armstrong Tele slant pickup for the bridge.  This will give me a wide variety of sounds.

I can get the baritone neck I want from a number of sellers.  So that's not a problem.  I was having problem finding a tele body that would fit my needs.  I wanted a hollowbody like the 72 Custom, but the way the pickguard fits, it's impossible to put the three pickups that I want into it.  So I decided to build it myself.  It's not like I don't have a metric butt-ton of wood around here. 

I decided to make use of the Pau Ferro that I have had around the house.  It has had over a year and a half to dry in the Florida heat, and was completely dryed out.  I remember when I got that particular board.  It had just been cut from the tree, and was insanely heavy.  However, Pau Ferro is a very open grained wood, and holds a bunch of water when alive.  However, once it dries out, it loses half of it's weight due to moisture loss. 

This particular piece of Pau Ferro was cut near the outside of the tree.  So it has a bunch of white sapwood in it.  So it's not a uniform reddish brown color.  The wood grain is also not straight.  I has a bit of a curve to it, and a number of knots.  A lot of builders and woodworkers would not like this piece of wood.  However, I like this type of wood.  I think it adds a bunch of character to it. 

I wanted to use a flame maple top on it.  This way, I can route out the Pau Ferro, making it a Tele hollowbody, and use the maple as a beautiful top.  I can also add an F-hole to the top similar to the Fender Tele hollowbodies.  I still had the piece of maple that I used to make my second guitar, the neck-through hollowbody.  So I decided that I would use it for this project.  It is the one piece of wood that I actually paid for.  I spent three hours looking through a giant pile of maple to find.  Hundreds of boards, and it was the one board that I got.  The guys at the woodshop laughed at me and my Dad.  They said, "Three hours, and all's you got was one board?"  But in all honesty, it is a very nice board.  It has a nice amount of flame in it.

So far, I've got the Pau Ferro body glued up, as well as the maple top.  Right now, I am giving them both time to completely glue up.  I like to give Titebond 2 at least two days to completely dry.  (At the end of this blog are the pictures of the wood being clamped and glued.)  I am going to be very careful with the next step.  I will route the wood out, and then after all the routing has been done, I will cut the body shape out.  It's much easier to route that way. 

So, I've got a plan, and a new project.  I'm in no particular hurry on this project, but I will work on it when I can.  Or should I say, when I can afford to. 

Slow News Day

As usual I flipped the TV to Channel 8 for the news.  The lead story?  It's raining.  I think to myself, "Really guys?"  Here's the thing.  I live in Florida.  It rains 60 inches a year in the Tampa Bay area.  If it's over 80 degrees outside, there's probably a 50/50 chance it's raining.  This is not a story to lead off with.  It's Florida, it rains. 

But then I got to thinking.  You can tell when a news program has an ageing audience when it leads off with weather, instead of waiting until it's usual time slot of 6:12.  The problem is this isn't the first time Channel 8 has done this.  It's kind of becoming a habit.  I'd hate to think what they are going to do once hurricane season comes along.  I'm sure they'll tell us it's raining somewhere.  Then I will yell at the TV, "Yeah, is it a day that ends in Y?"

So you might be thinking, "Well, it's probably a slow news day."  I thought that too.  But you know what the second news story was?  Two men knocked on a teacher's front door, and when he opened it they shot him point blank.  No robbery, no conversation.  They outright killed him, and no one knows why.  That's a lead story, not water coming from the sky.  And the third news story of the night?  That would be Bucs CB Aqib Talib turning himself in on arrest warrants in Texas.  He shot at a guy, and thankfully missed.  That's a big news story.

I know a lot of people would say, "Why don't you change the channel?"  Well, the people at Channel 8 have always been good to the community.  Bob Hite, the former lead anchor, came to my grade school.  He then invited us to take a tour of the Channel 8 studios, and he personally took us on the tour.  He was very good to us.  A lot of the other reporters have also been really nice to me when I have met them.  I also do like their reporting style.  It's just I wish they would get their priorities straight when reporting the news.  In other words, the weather can wait until 6:12.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Violin, Part 2

I am making great progress on the old violin that I bought.  I didn't want to do too much, but I did want to make it playable.  I didn't want to strip the finish, even though half of it is missing.  Namely, because that would take away it's natural finish, and make authenticating the violin hard to do.  I didn't refinish the violin, but I did re-touch it in a few places.  I have a few paint/ stain pens that work just wonderfully for that kind of job. 

To make it playable, I first need to fix the peg holes.  It's basically a fill and drill job.  So no problem.  I didn't like how one of the holes came out, so I am re-doing that hole.  Due to time, wear, and what I suspect was someone doing a terrible job in making the holes bigger, I had to redo the holes.  Luckily, I have a source that sells maple dowel rods.

The next thing to do was to make a new bridge.  The old one was warped and didn't fit right.  I am thankful for my violin book giving advice on how to make one.  I had to really take the bridge down a ways since the angle of the neck is very flat.  I am very happy in how the bridge has turned out. 

The one thing I was not looking forward to doing was installing the soundpost.  I have to put a tiny stick underneath the foot of the bridge.  Luckily, my violin book told me a great way to put it in using wire, and an installing tool.  (Note: it can be seen in the pictures.)

So the next moves are to:

1.  Let the glue dry.
2.  Re-bore the D peg hole.
3.  If everything fits, then I put the bridge in place.
4.  String her up.  Tune her up.
5.  Play "Devil Went Down To Georgia."

So in just a day or so my little, old violin will be up and playing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adrian, 80% Vegetarian

Yes, it's true.  Since the gall bladder operation I have had to be very careful on what I eat.  I am still avoiding raw sugar products like colas, sweet iced tea, cookies, cake, pie, and ice cream.  However, I have also cut my fats down as well.  In particular, fatty meats.  Since I don't have the bile to break down fatty meats the way I used to, I have had to change my diet. 

First and foremost, I have been eating a lot more raw fruits and vegetables.  I think I have eaten a salad every single day since I have gotten out of the hospital.  I have also changed over to eating rye bread instead of white bread.  When I do eat meat it has been grilled meat that has had the fat really cooked out of it. 

So the first big question, has it worked?  Yes.  Without a doubt.  I won't go into too much detail, but I have had no heartburn, indigestion, or other stomach problems.  None what-so-ever.  The only thing I have run into is that, I can't eat as much as I used to.  I still think that is due to me not eating any solid foods for six straight days. 

Then there is big question number two, have I lost any weight?  Yes.  Due to drinking so much water my weight flucuates, but I have been between 200 and 203 pounds.  I am more than happy with that.  When I started to lose weight my goal was 212 pounds.  That was my high school weight when not playing football.  Then I got down to 212, so I said 205.  Then I hit 205, and said let me try for 199.  So I am getting there little by little.  I just think I need to get some more walking in. 

I have been in a bit of pain as of late.  Ever since Dr. MacAllistar put the silver nitrate in my wound I have had a lot more pain than usual.  All the nerves are reconnecting.  Due to that I am getting all sorts of weird feelings.  I get inching, tickling, and pain in and around my wound (chest vagina.)  So the last three days it's been tough for me to get moving. 

But I will continue my new and improved healthy ways.  I figure it is the one reason that I have been healing and recovering as well as I have been.  I also feel much better than I thought I would.  I still have to take it easy, and I have to take it day by day, but I am healing a more every day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Idle Hands Catterpillar Hats, and Amazing Blog #201

It's true that I have an amazing imagination.  This of course, gets me in a lot of trouble. That combined with a lot of free time get me in even more trouble.  Case in point:  My sister has a stuffed animal caterpillar named Keith.  Why she named him Keith I have no idea.  But she did. 

I was looking at Keith, and thought, "I bet he could use a hat."  Why I would think this I have no idea.  But to tell the truth, Keith really could use a hat.  So I made him a hat.  I wanted a hat like Slash from Guns N' Roses/ Velvet Revolver wears so I made one like that. 

Then I thought he could use a drink so I poured him one.  I think he really appreciated it.  This sounds good but without a picture is kind of boring.  So here's why you clicked the link in the first place, a great picture.

Adrian Gets Depressed, Buys Yet Another Guitar

So after I came back from the Doctor's office I looked over the Craigslist musical instrument sales.  Most of the time is it just to insult the overpriced, crappy stuff.  However, I saw something that interested me.  An Ibanez Artcore archtop guitar. 

To make a long story short, the guitar costs $399 on sale at Musicians Friend.  The TKL case costs $89.00 there.  So figure $500 for the guitar and case.  I bought the total package for $180.00.  The guitar didn't have a scratch on it.  It still had the foam under the bridge.  In fact, it still had the original strings on it.  I almost worried that the guitar would burn my fingers when I touched it.  But, the guy who sold to me bought it to learn to play guitar, and never had the time to learn.  He wanted it gone today, and had it priced to sell today.  Well, I bought it, so it sold today.

The funny thing is that I hadn't bought a guitar in a while.  It's true.  But, since I almost died, and 35 is just around the corner, I figure a mid-life crisis purchase is needed.  And a guitar is much cheaper and less deadly than a motorcycle.  I have to fend off depression any way I can.

Once I brought it home, I set it up, changed the strings, and changed the pickups to Schaller pickups.  It is an amazing guitar.  It plays better than a lot of more expensive guitars I have played.  I am used to playing a lot of Epiphone archtops, and this ranks right up there with the best of them. 

I was aiming to take this amazing guitar to Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse open mic night, but due to the medication I am taking I can't drive there.  But next week I am definately going to take her there.  They say money can't buy happiness, but have you ever seen a sad guitarist with a new guitar?  No you have not. 

Adrian Faces His Inner Scar

It has been 11 days since I had surgery to remove my gall bladder.  The incision on my stomach/ chest is about 7 inches long.  The way the doctor wanted it to heal required that it didn't have any stitches in it.  So it looks horrible.  But the truth is I haven't looked at it.  I glanced really quickly when the bandages were changed, and decided not to look at it in the hospital.  Then I made it back to the Covenant Hotel and tried to look at it.  I saw the very top of it, and chickened out.  So here it is 11 days later, and I finally decide to look at it.  It was dang grizzly.  It was bad.  Well, at least I didn't throw up at the sight of it/me.

Earlier today I saw Dr. MacAllistar.  He is the surgeon who removed my Mother's and Sister's gall bladders.  He was looking to make sure I was healing correctly.  He decided to speed up my healing by dripping silver nitrate (silver iodine) into the incision.  After he had done that I asked him, "Um Doctor, is this supposed to burn like this?  I mean, it's really starting to burn.  Um, ouch, ouch, ouch, aah!!!!!"  That's when Dad said, "Yes."

So I have had some pain today.  It kind of felt like the Doctor took a soldering iron and soldered me like a piece of metal.  It still hurts quite a bit, even though I have had two pain pills today.  But this will help me heal faster in the long run.  I just hope the scar that is left is not too bad.

I have to be honest.  It is tough to face my scar.  It completely gives me the heebie-jeebies.  It is not a good thing.  It is not a sexy thing.  It's just .... bad.  I still can't stand to look at it, even though I have to.  Both Doctor's recommended that I don't bandage it up.  They want it exposed to air so it will harden up faster.  It's not good for it to be moist.  So I have to roll up an old T-shirt, and lay it against the wound.  It sits under my regular T-shirt that I wear normally.  That way, if there is any drainage, it bleeds into the old shirt.  And doing it this way helps it dry out and thus, heal faster.

So far I am concentrating on getting the outer skin healed up.  After that, I need for the inner lining to heal so I don't have a hernia.  And I have to be really careful about that because I have to be able to lift and move heavy things for work.  In fact, I will have to pass the D.O.T. physical test all over again.  So I really feel like I will be off work until May.  There's nothing I can do about it, so all I can do is be accepting about the situation.  Even if I don't like it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chest Vagina

For comedy purposes the seven inch incision on my chest will now be referred to as my "chest vagina."  I think it deflects the seriousness of my surgery.  That, and my wound is like a vagina.  It has what the doctors call "drainage."  In other words, it bleeds not unlike a vagina.

I can't bring myself to look at my chest vagina, but when I took a peek it did kind of look like a vagina.  Especially during "that" time of the month.  It is also aggravating and makes me bitch, again, not unlike a real vagina. 

So like a real vagina, I only hope to bleed for a week before it stops.  Until then, I will keep taping maxi-pads to my chest.  I will keep my chest vagina clean so I don't have that, "not so fresh" feeling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Left My Gall Bladder In Chattanooga

I am now back home resting in my favorite recliner.  I am in a little pain, but overall I am comfortable.  It is now I have come to the realization that I now have a giant chest vagina.  Oh, I am also menstraighting so I need to change my "pad" every day.

I am going through the five stages of grief.  Either that, or I am just being a dick. 

1.  Denial.  It's not that bad.  It was just a gall bladder.  People have that done all the time. 

In reality...... the damn thing almost killed me.  It went gange-green, and I was almost septic. 

2.  Anger.  I can't be sick.  I can't afford this.  Why now?  The roads are just now clearing up.  How am I supposed to deal with this.

Again, all valid thoughts, but my health should really come first.

3.  Bargaining.  I'll just get back on the road soon.  I'm sure they'll want me to get back to work quick. 

In reality, I can't drive on the drugs I am on.  I can't even do my job with this giant cut in my chest.

4.  Depression.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  I am going to be out of work for two months, and I have no money.  I almost died.  I have a giant bleeding chest vagina.  Nobody loves me.  Everybody hates me.  I guess I'll eat some motherfucking worms.

At this point I just need a double dose of Zoloft.

5.  Acceptance.  I am going to have to face the fact that I am now disfigured.  I am going to be off work for at least two months.  I can look at stuff on Ebay, but I can't buy anything. 

I can only control my recovery, and at least I can go to Grandma's house in April.  I just can't eat all the pie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get the Damn Thorazine

I didn't sleep at all last night.  The World War Two veteran next door was busy fighting the Japanese all night.  He kept all the nurses busy so I didn't get my meds on time which made me a very angry Adrian.  I was ready to go over, and hit him with Thorazine shot affixed to the end of a bayonet.  Instead, the nurses covered his hands in gauze to the size of boxing gloves. 

Here's a few things I don't want to re-live.  First, the doctor removing the gauze and packing from my cut.  Second, the doctor removing the drainage tube from my wound.  Third, any amount of blood flowing from my wound (even though that is normal and healthy.)  Fourth, I just want to be rid of these saline bags.  I hate having to pee every hour, on the hour. 

Frankly, I just want out of here.  I want to eat chicken wings.  They don't have to be spicy.  They don't even have to be good.  I just want some of that delicious food they show on TV.  The doctor is supposed to release me today.  I don't know when, but I hope it is soon. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't I Get A Penguin With This Surgery?

Last time I was in the hospital I got a penguin.  I was of course, seven years old.  But I got a penguin.  I named him Junior after my Dad.  He is a Junior.  I did end up getting a guitar book.  They were having a book fair downstairs, and I found a good medium level guitar book.  So Dad bought that for me.

Today was a rough day.  There's a World War 2 veteran next door, and he's having flashbacks due to the Japanese earthquake.  All the nurses are trying to calm him down, and I find myself hours past the time my medications are due.  My Doctor came by, and he removed my packing and drainage tube while I had no pain medication in me.  Still, that wasn't as bad as when I looked at my cut on my chest.  I should not have done that.  It's okay when it's someone else, but it's terrifying when it's your chest. 

The good news is that I will be leaving the hospital on Tuesday morning.  I will finally get rid of this dang I.V. bag.  It makes me have to pee every hour or so.  I'll just be glad to take a shower.  They won't let me take a shower because they believe it gives me a higer risk of infection.  So I am going to scrub like I have never scrubbed.  Here's to soap and deoderant.

I Wear No Pants

So this is day six of me being in the hospital, and I have yet to wear pants.  I'm not even wearing underwear.  But dammit!  I better make sure that I am wearing my ugly yellow socks with super track grip.  This place is so strange.  Everyone wants to know about my poo.  They get disappointed when they don't get the answer they like when regarding my poo.  Why?  It's my poo.  It's not their poo.  What do they need to know about my poo for anyway?

I hope to get back to the Covenant Hotel sometime tonight.  My Doctor (Dr. Mena) will be making the rounds tonight at around 5 PM.  If I don't get out tonight, then it will be sometime tomorrow. 

Dad was pretty nice to me today.  We went down to a book fair that was held downstairs, and he bought me a huge guitar lesson book.  It's what I would call a medium level book.  A lot of books are beginner or artist collections, but it's tough to find that medium level book. 

I'll be happy to back at the Covenant Hotel.  I will be able to get on Facebook there.  I only wish I could have been playing Frontierville all this time.  I have cows to feed, and white buffalo to nurse back to health. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adrian is not funny

I'd like to think of myself as funny.  But I have to realize that there are certain times I am not.  Namely, when I am sick.  I always thought I would have these hilarious things to say to the nurses when I would be in the hospital.  However, it was not to be.  I am in too much pain to be funny.  Also, I am on too many painkillers to think of anything beyond a fart joke. 

Also, I noticed something when I transferred my blog from myspace over to blogger.  I could tell by the dates when I had changed my medicines.  I noticed when I had changed my meds that I had become less funny.  I was much more hilarious when my meds weren't quite working correctly.  I wrote this one blog about getting drunk and doing late night luthiery.  It ended with me crapping on a doorstep and using a cat to wipe myself.  Now, I didn't actually do any of that, but it was pretty funny.

Life is a trade off.  I now live life in a much more reasonable way, but I don't have the hilarious blogs that I used to.  Oh well.  I guess I will have to work harder to be funnier.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Alien Within

I have had back pain for years.  I figured it was a slipped disk, something most people have.  However, I now blog from the Catholic Memorial Hospital of Chattanooga.  It seems like I have had an enemy/ alien within myself.  This entity is also known as my gall bladder.  I had horrible muscle spasms for three days, and went to the walk-in clinic.  Who then sent me to the urgent care clinic.  And they sent me to the emergency room.  They said I had muscle spasms, and gave me muscle relaxers.  I then checked in with a regular doctor two days later.  He ordered an echo-gram on me, and they found lots of gall stones.

One of the gall stones was 2.2 cm long.  There were also lots of little ones.  He wanted to send me into surgery immediately.  Well, it ended up being agreed upon that my Dad would come up here to Chattanooga, and then I would be admitted to the hospital.  It seems my white blood cell count was twice what it should have been at 13,000 units.  So I was given lots of antibiotics. 

The doctor then went to perform a routine gall bladder removal.  It was not to be.  He had to cut me open since my gall bladder was "dead and gange-green."  It was also calcified the size of a golf ball.  And let's be honest, doctor's know their golf balls.  The operation ended up taking five hours long instead of one hour. 

So here I sit in lots of pain.  This should have been simple, but with my luck, I should have known it was not going to be simple.  When I woke up, I remember asking the doctor, "What went wrong?"  I knew something wasn't right.  I was in a lot of pain, and I think my internal clock knew something was off.  He was trying to be reassuring, but Dad ended up filling me in on what happened.

This is going to make my recovery take a long time.  Normally they go in through the belly button so there isn't too much to cut through.  But with me, well, let's just say I am now part of the zipper club.  I believe I am going to be out of work for two months. 

But there are a few things I have learned about hospitals. 

1. Nurses can be nice, but they can also be very, very evil. 
2. Also nothing here is sacred/ private/ or too personal. 
3. Dad can not shut up about all my "personal" things to the nurses and family members.  If I had the strength, I would have choked him a few times.
4.  This hospital does not let me have access to Facebook.  I need to play Frontierville.  I get angry if I don't get to play it.
5.  Liquid diets suck, but they beat the alternative. 
6.  Nurses have a sick sense of humor. 

So that's all I can think of for the time being.  I'll keep posting, cause let's face it, I have nothing else to do.