jwgh: (Default)
While I was backstage at the Noxagt show tonight, I found a collection of old Time/Life books which I remember reading and rereading quite a bit when I was a kid:

Did anyone else have these? The 'Mathematics' one and the 'Universe' one I particularly remember being fascinated by.

I was tempted to read them again but decided it would be rude.
jwgh: (Van Halen)
[livejournal.com profile] palmitas268 asked me some questions about my musical career, and the response is turning out to be pretty long, so I'm going to split it into parts and post it to my livejournal over the course of the day. The first question is about my influences and inspirations.

my response )
jwgh: (Van Halen)
I stumbled across this today. I wrote it and posted it to USENET four years ago.

When I went to high school I was in chorus, band, and jazz band. (It was not until our senior year that our physics teacher told us that the proper term for someone like this was a 'band fag'.) I would often bring a tape recorder to jazz band and tape it so I could "practice" my "improvising" at home. This meant that the events that follow were captured on tape, a tape that I've since lost but one which provided endless minutes of entertainment to me and my family.

One semester, there was one particular pieces of music we were doing for jazz band that gave us particular trouble. It was "Everything's All Right" from Jesus Christ Superstar. We had trouble with it because it was in an odd time signature and so we had trouble keeping the tempo. So we practiced it and practiced it and yet verily did we continue to suck in great abundance.

Finally our band director, who was known to have a bit of a temper, had had enough. He told us that he was going to get a cowbell from the band cabinet and use it to bang out a regular beat so it would be impossible for us to lose the tempo. So he went up to the back of the band room, leaving us to our own devices.

Listening to the tape I made, you can hear the students chatting and laughing and basically not taking the whole thing particularly seriously. Meanwhile, in the background, you can hear the noise of the bad director throwing stuff around in the back of the band room, looking for the cowbell and generally making a lot of noise. Clearly the man was feeling some frustration.

This continued for five minutes or so, when suddenly a piercing shout was heard from the back of the band room: "AAARGH! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU LOST THE COW BELL!" Having delivered this line, the band director then walked back to us, shouting to us about how we couldn't be trusted to take care of band equipment and were all slovenly and things like that. The cow bell figured prominently in all of this. He continued on this tirade for some time, then started to calm down.

"I'm sorry," he said. "It's just that I know that last week we [he and the band equipment manager] spent a lot of time and effort cleaning up the cabinet, making sure that all the equipment was there and in the right place. And now, it's a week later, and it's a total mess ... and I can't find the cowbell."

Having emerged from his dark tunnel of anger and despair, he now brightened up.

"Still, let's move on." [At this point he picked up a large metal music stand and placed it by where he would be conducting. He then whaled on it several times with a drumstick, making quite a din.] "Perfect."

And so he whaled away at the music stand, five beats to the bar, making the perfect acompaniament to "Jesus Christ Superstar". (And if you listened v-e-r-y closely, you could hear Andrew Lloyd Webber rolling over in his grave. From the FUTURE!)
jwgh: (Default)
While cleaning my apartment, I came across a medal that I find every few years and otherwise mostly forget.

When I was in sixth grade, I was in little league. At the end of the year, everyone on the team got a medal with a nice picture of someone up at bat on the front:

medal front

and on the back, an approximation of the player's name:

medal back: HOLLAND 1984 JACOB HALER

Getting this medal was a great honor.
jwgh: (yarn)
Here they are, as advertised.

pictures )

I'll be bringing all four scarves to drunken knitting tomorrow.

Oh, man.

Aug. 9th, 2005 05:51 pm
jwgh: (Van Halen)
My sister called me a little while to let me know that while she was cleaning the basement (she's currently living in the house we grew up in) she found a box containing giant scarves I made while in high school. Including one with a Van Halen logo. (I made that one for my friend Rick, who was a big VH fan, and I thought I mailed it to him at some point, but apparently not.)

Sometime in the next few weeks, maybe as soon as this weekend, I will retrieve these scarves, and there will be pictures. Big, embarrassing pictures. That is a promise from me to you.


Apr. 29th, 2005 09:43 am
jwgh: (Default)
When I grew up, our family was one of only two families in town who had a party line. (You could get a private line, but it cost a little extra, so we didn't bother.) I believe that if there were groups of two rings in quick succession it meant it was for us, while if there were single rings with noticeable space between them it was the other folks.

The other family was only there during the summer, which meant that we had all fall, winter, and spring to forget that we shouldn't just answer the phone as soon as it rang. I assume this was annoying to Single Ring Family, but I don't think we ever talked to them or even knew who they were.

Another value-added service that we never opted for was touch-tone dialing. For a long time we used those old rotary phones that originally were leased from Bell, but they gradually became more and more decrepit (I remember that we had one that for a while if you pushed on the dial too hard the section of the phone that the rotary dial was on would swivel into the phone) so we eventually got pushbutton phones, but we still had to flip the little switch that would make them pretend to be dialing.

I think the phone company eventually just stopped offering a party line as an option, but it's possible that it was another one of the sweeping changes introduced by my stepmother in the past five years or so. She also got my father to finally buy a toaster.
jwgh: (Default)
Televangelist Gene Scott died at the age of 75.

I know I saw him clicking around on teevee from time to time, in particular in around '93 when I was spending a fair amount of time watching cable and waiting for temp jobs.

He had sort of a distinctive look -- he would wear dark glasses all the time and would occasionally put reading glasses on over his dark glasses, which is not necessarily something you see a lot. He was sort of scruffy.

He would have sort of pledge breaks where there would just be a phone number on the screen to call to give money and there would be a video of horses or something and some nifty jazz would be playing, leading one to think that at least one corner of his psyche was sort of hip.

He was constantly asking for money. It was really just out there to see. He didn't seem to care whether anyone thought he was greedy or what. Probably many televangelists are like that, but Gene was the only one I ever saw, so it seemed pretty novel to me.

I remember one time he give the following little speech, or something like it.

He began, "Now, I've been getting some criticism, some letters lately complaining, 'Gene, all you ever do is ask for money!'"

There was a dramatic pause.

Then he thundered, "But I wouldn't have to do that if you would just open up your wallets and give!"

Here's an article about him from the LA Times in 1994 which touches on some of the above, including the horses.
jwgh: (bunny ears)
My sister and her family recently moved into the house that we grew up in, and when she was tidying up one of the rooms recently she found an old book that my mother helped me put together when I was quite young (I'm guessing I was four or five). And now I've scanned it in! [start at page one]
jwgh: (Default)
The first election I voted in was in 1990 in Massachusetts. (The big race that year was for governor, where it was John Silber vs. William Weld.)

Also on the ballot that year were a bunch of town offices that nobody had bothered to run for, mostly state-mandated offices that weren't relevant (for instance every town was required to have a couple of water commissioners that were responsible for the public water supply, even towns like Holland where everyone had wells and there was no public water supply).

When I came to those parts of the ballots I wrote in the names of my friends and their family members from town, and one of them actually won, apparently because nobody else bothered to write in someone for that office.
jwgh: (piano)
I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that maybe should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Then post this in your own LJ and find out what people don't know about you.


Mar. 31st, 2004 06:47 pm
jwgh: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] fabio_heinz was asking if egg shells really dissolve in vinegar or not (there was a news story about it where he is but it's also April Fool's Day there already so he wasn't sure) and this reminded me of my childhood, when we raised chickens. (And yes, vinegar does dissolve egg shell. Try it! It's neat!)

One of the things I remember is that when you've got some young chickens and they're just starting to lay eggs, often some of the eggs don't come out quite right, so you end up with really small eggs (like half as big as normal), or big eggs with two yolks, or even eggs that have no shell! (The white and yolk of the egg are surrounded by a translucent sac, so the egg still is recognizably an egg, but it's completely soft.)

We mostly mail-ordered the chicks, but on one or two occasions we hatched eggs in an incubator. You'd turn the eggs every so often (the eggs were marked with a pencil so you could tell if they had been turned yet) and you could tell the progress of the chick by shining a bright flashlight at one side of the egg while you looked at the other (the technical term was 'candling', I think). Then eventually if all went well the chicks would hatch. Very cute!

We also had goats for a little while, but my memories of them are less fond, since one of them would always try to eat my hair.

Kid art

Aug. 31st, 2003 10:17 pm
jwgh: (Default)
I'm in Massachusetts helping my father clean out his house, and I came across a linoleum print I made probably in about fifth grade of a stegasaurus:


I've turned it into an X-Face, which I'll use when posting to USENET and also as my new user icon here. Until I get sick of it, anyway.


jwgh: (Default)
Jacob Haller

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