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June 12, 2022


I dabble the hell out of guitar and bass. I'm very self taught. I have a hard time playing an entire song without screwing it up, even songs I have been playing for years. I mostly just noodle and improvise, happy when something I hear in my head comes out my hands in a reasonable facsimile thereof.

I love the activity of music, but I love the process of writing and of photography because neither of those require my input to perform themselves in their refined state, and I can mess forever to get them to where I want them before releasing them to do their thing.

Post is everything.

My skill as a (mostly landscape) photographer comes of mostly knowing how not to overexpose the sky, and then having a decent sense of which photos to trash immediately and which to work with in post to see if they can become something worthwhile.

I think I have developed something of a personal aesthetic for my pictures. I want them to be vivid and detailed without being oversaturated. I want them to look naturalistic, but have a sense of composition and balance. I don't want them to look like a filter, or like they are the product of a heavy hand in Photoshop (one of the reasons that I use DXO - it nudges me further towards that light touch, pun intended). The difference between the image captured by the sensor and the one that is seen post processing can be vast and dramatic, but the picture needs to look like nothing much was done to it for me to be happy with the result.

I try to teach my student writers this sort of aesthetic with their own writing as well. Drafts are everything. Try ideas. Discard bad ones. Work to refine what is worth keeping in layers. Trust in the post-production of the revision process. Use contrast to make the writing dynamic, but don't try too hard to force a reading on a reader or your writing will lose its persuasive (or invitational) force and provoke resistance in the reader.

All this leads me to believe that while I will likely never be an accomplished musician, I probably could have been a good sound engineer.

I try to teach my student writers this sort of aesthetic with their own writing as well. Drafts are everything. Try ideas. Discard bad ones. Work to refine what is worth keeping in layers. Trust in the post-production of the revision process.

This reminds me of a related topic, which is the differences amongst the arts in relation to revisions. I took a few adult education classes in watercolor painting years ago, and our teacher, Chris, brought us samples of sketches he had done in preparation for bigger works.

As a beginning painter, there was no way I could do "sketches" and then hope to reproduce something like (much less a better version of) the same bit of painting. With writing, you've got your material there and you're changing that same material as you revise. With painting, at least in the way Chris was showing it to us, you're starting a new painting with each "revision."

I didn't persist with painting, but I do persist with writing, and I totally agree about drafts. I especially like one of Ann Lamott's two fundamental pieces of advice, which is to be okay with "shitty first drafts."

I remind myself of that over and over again when I'm having trouble getting words onto "paper." Once you've got a first draft, no matter how "shitty," you've got something to work with.

It's hard to know what the equivalent to "revision" is in music....

And turning that around, it's easy in a simplistic way to know what "practice" is in music, and/but it's quite a different process from "practicing" writing or painting.

?? (Or picture-taking, for that matter.)

Every first draft is a shitty first draft.

Heh. I had one op-ed once that I wrote in my head almost word for word while taking a walk one evening. It was at a time when gay rights were being debated in Maine in the lead-up to the first of our many statewide referenda on the subject, and very vile people felt that they had to sound off repeatedly in letters to the editor saying very vile things about gay people.

I had just about had it, and I wrote a "coming out" column in my mind as I walked. When I got home I just basically just transcribed it and submitted it.

There followed an exchange between the editorial page editor and me about whether I could publish it anonymously -- the newspaper's policy said I couldn't, and I didn't really want to. But my friends were worried about the potential for blowback (I had two small children) -- my doctor had recently had her tires slashed not once but twice after an article was published about how she was focusing on treating HIV patients.

Other than that, I agree with you. ;-)

(And for that matter, maybe it was a shitty column. Unfortunately it was pre-internet, so there's no way to link to it and get an opinion.)

And as far as that goes, I think Ann Lamott's underlying point was that all first drafts are shitting first drafts -- but that you'll never get a second draft until you recognize that and go ahead and do the first.

Her other big headline piece of advice was to write stories in "one-inch frames." To the extent that I've tried to write stories, that hasn't worked as well for me.

Sorry, "shitting" should be "shitty" -- speaking of first drafts..... and we even have a preview function!

What constitutes a hobby seems, in part, to be in the eye of the beholder. If you are trying to make a living at something, but not making much money, is that a hobby? If you are doing something because it's fun, but happen incidently to be making money at it, is that a hobby?

I've been working for a small company for some years, mostly for sweat equity (I'm up to 5%!). I'm guessing that, in about 3 years, we will get bought out. At which point, my share should be worth upwards of half a million; maybe 2-4 times that. My financial advisor says I'm retired and have a "hobby" -- somehow, I'm not seeing it that way. Even though I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't enjoy it. (After all, normal people my age (76 next month) have retired, and obviously I don't have a great need for the money.)

wj -- cool, can i come work for you? ;-)

But no, that would take too much time out of my hobby (or hobbies).

Another thing about the title of the post: a hobby doesn't at all have to be something you do in connection with a quest for mastery. Is reading mystery stories set in Britain a "hobby"? I would say yes, and I suppose one could build expertise around having read lots of them. But mastery? not so much.

I knew when I was elementary school age that I had a talent for drawing. I was a bit of a savant and drew with a realism that was far above my age level. Meanwhile, my sister was "the smart one." She excelled at academics.
So decades later, I surprised myself by becoming an author. Two of my books have made the Kirkus Review "best of" list, and I won a honorable mention in a literary contest. I just published my eleventh novel, and I think it is my best one. Meanwhile, my sister has become an accomplished artist! She is getting into shows in the Chicago area. I am in awe of her.
I'm not sure what the point is here, unless it's to follow one's muse and not let other people's expectations define you. Experiment. If its fun, keep on experimenting.

JanieM -- unfortunately, I don't have hiring authority. (Being COO in a small company isn't as powerful a position as you'd think. "Copy editor" might be more accurate. ;-)

But if I did, you'd definitely be on the short list. Sensible people are hard to find.

wj ... I'm blushing. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

wonkie -- nice to see you! And this is great advice in a lot of directions: "Experiment. If its fun, keep on experimenting."

Also congrats on the success with writing.

I am 73 and still working. I am thinking about taking up political commentary in my retirement....if it ever arrives.

I had just about had it, and I wrote a "coming out" column in my mind as I walked. When I got home I just basically just transcribed it and submitted it.

I hear that. But I find that anything that I can write extemporaneously like that isn't really a first draft so much as a practiced repertoire with an established trajectory. A big part of a writing class is trying to establish good habits of mind so that you can start to develop tactics for handling common writing tasks.

I can sense how something like that works for playing jazz, but my hands are free agents of chaos, and never reliably settle into the playing. There's always a point at which they rebel and break pattern in unproductive ways.

my hands are free agents of chaos

I am fascinated by this framing. My hands are the most capable and reliable part of my body for any physical activity. It's my brain that's the agent of chaos.

Then again, though my hands are very capable for music and typing, I'm clumsy with tools. I think it's the quality of (in)attention that I give to tasks that need tools, not the capabilities of my hands, that makes it that way. I'm impatient and distractable with physical tasks, but not with music.

PS -- not disputing what you said, nous, just marveling at how differently we're all made.

I love photography and use Lightroom and sometimes Photoshop fairly often.

I learned a few basic LR steps at a workshop and find them a great way to start on any image.

If you like I can email them to you.

@bobbyp -- I'd read your political commentary.

And as with wonkie, I'm glad to see you around the place.

I've been jotting down notes for a post based on a joke someone made about whether I'm the leftiest of the lefties in leftytown -- or not.

Opinions differ.

Definitions differ!

Preferences as to means and ends differ.

As usual, it's far too big a topic for a blog post, but the discussion might be interesting, and it's nice to think you might be around to add some clarity.

byomtov -- sure, go ahead and email them, that would be nice. Steve has been working with me on LR and PS at times, but having a few basic steps outlined would be a nice reference.

Hope you're well -- I haven't been to Cambridge since Jan. 2020 for obvious (covid) and less obvious (I retired 6/2019) reasons. But who knows, I might get back there someday. I miss it!

Yes, great to see wonkie and bobbyp!

I don't know that I've ever had what could be called a hobby. I've read voraciously much of my life, but that has often felt like more of a life necessity (like food and sleep) than anything else, to the extent that being without something to read has been enough to cause misery, anxiety, or even desperation. A similar friend once put it like this: "we read to drown out the internal monologue". This does not seem, to me, like a good thing.

However, because of my reading obsession, people over the years asked me why I didn’t write. I always said it was because I didn’t think I had anything to say. But some years ago I was involved in a very bitter, drawn out legal battle that lasted two or three years. When it was over, almost immediately and out of nowhere, I sat and wrote (a first draft of) the first 85 pages of a children's or YA fantasy novel. It just flowed out of me. I edited and rewrote a bit, til I was reasonably satisfied that it wasn't too shitty, at least in micro, and then the urge ran out, I couldn't work out where to take the plot next, so I put it aside, and haven't looked at it since. Sometimes, I wonder whether when I decide to look at it again, it will turn out to have been a preliminary exercise for what I write next. But this is probably not true.

I did learn to play acoustic guitar for a year in high school, because I’ve always loved folk-type music and wanted to be able to play and sing that sort of thing. I got to a point where I could play some simple songs I liked, but took it no further. And this is all too typical of me: I do not have, and have never had, any self-discipline. I am not, to put it lightly, happy about this.

And, having dropped out of further education twice, most of what I’ve done has been to self-educate by following avenues of knowledge in which I was interested. So I know a lot about a lot of stuff, (compared to normal well-educated people, not to the ObWi commentariat) but on a comparatively shallow basis.

This, of Janie’s really describes my experience too. It would be easy to give in to self-loathing….

I’ve spent most of my life as a dilettante, doing what has come easily:….. But I always stopped trying when I got to a plateau where I would have had to work through difficulty or, heaven forfend, face possible failure to keep getting better.

Hi everyone. I've been lurking, just didn't have much to say. YOu all are stiff competition--so much more intellectual than me.
This resonated with me: "However, because of my reading obsession, people over the years asked me why I didn’t write. I always said it was because I didn’t think I had anything to say. But some years ago I was involved in a very bitter, drawn out legal battle that lasted two or three years. When it was over, almost immediately and out of nowhere, I sat and wrote (a first draft of) the first 85 pages of a children's or YA fantasy novel. It just flowed out of me. I edited and rewrote a bit, til I was reasonably satisfied that it wasn't too shitty, at least in micro..."

This is very close to how I got into writing. I had an experience that left me doing a lot of processing and wanting to do a lot of sharing. (I stole a dog.) The experience turned into a short story that I couldn't publish until some people died or the stature of limitations was reached. Meanwhile, I had an experience similar to an account up thread: I wrote something in my head, ran home, and regurgitated it as fast as I could type. A few revisions later, I had a second story.
Since then I have been more systematic. I get depressed, bored, and angsty if not writing or drawing, so as soon as I finish one project I start rooting around in my mind to find the seed of another. Then I set out and build the new book/drawing/other art project.
It's an addiction.
Some thoughts triggered by some other comments: Is it really a bad thing to be a dilettante? It seems to me that lurking under that word are some assumptions about what "success" means. And also who defines success.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I came to the conclusion years ago that, as far as art goes, my definition of success is that it makes me happy. I've never had much success in marketing my work. I lack that drive, that capacity for self-promotion. When I die, my unfortunate relatives are going to inherit a ton of drawings, prints, paintings and sculptures. I have no idea what they are going to do with it all. Most likely straight to the dumpster, although there are one or two paintings that I hope they keep.
So it seems to me that a person who wanted to learn to play an instrument, or wanted to take an art class, or wanted to do anything creative and found enjoyment in it has achieved what I consider to be a success. After all very few of us are going to be remembered after we are dead. And we are immensely privileged to live in a society and a time with the financial wherewithal to have fun. Many people are not lucky enough to be able to be dilettantes. We get to participate in human creativity. That's an end in and of itself, seems to me.
So I am sad that someone would beat themselves up over not accomplishing something. I guess the question is: Was the desire to reach a certain level of competence and internal desire or an external one? Or an internalized external?
BTW I am trying to train myself to enjoy taking naps, so take all of what I said in that context.

wonkie -- that's a great comment, especially the last paragraph. I totally agree about what a privilege it is to have the leisure and $ security to be a dilettante, and to participate in human creativity at whatever level. Beating myself up is a bad habit (hobby?) of mine, and I try to fight it, but in this case I can see it from a number of angles. I don't think beating oneself up is healthy. On the other hand, I also don't think backing away from further effort because of fear (of failure, of not getting the top score, of not being the first violin) is healthy either. Live and learn -- and glad to still be sentient enough to be learning.

Well here I am with professional work to do and instead my attention is drawn elsewhere, both to today's hearing and this post.

As byomtov knows and I have mentioned before I took up the piano as an adult. I had a few months of lessons around age 10 but my life went a different direction. I have always loved music and I have a strong auditory memory. Finally about 20 years ago (!) I began serious piano lessons.

This experience has taught me about myself and the learning process. Usually I learn things fairly quickly, but the piano is a different story. Sometimes I have to put aside frustration and just keep reminding myself that the process is slow. When I find myself at a point where I'm trying to force something I have to stop and come back later. My teachers have given me good advice about this: celebrate small victories and don't practice mistakes!

wonkie, to your point about who will remember us when we're gone, I have been giving much thought to that lately. Certainly I will never be remembered for my musical career -- I won't have one. In my view the only real mark we leave on the world is the other people whose lives we have touched.

My mediocre guitar playing is definitely a privilege. I wanted to play electric guitar or bass for years starting in my early teens, but could not justify the expense of a guitar and amp and cables and strings until my 30s.

I now have better gear than my playing deserves, but I've passed on my older gear to a friend who is just able to stay afloat financially. He'd been in bands in his 20s, but had no means to make music for decades.

The glue that holds together my life of practice, however, is role-playing games. It's the sort of high-creativity/low cost activity that requires next to nothing (time, dice, imagination) to fuel years of diversion. And it's a meaningful collaborative experience. It feels significant and builds a sense of community through shared worldbuilding.

And without all those years of role-playing I don't believe I would ever have become a teacher or have completed my bachelors degree, let alone go on to collect the full set.

I had an experience that left me doing a lot of processing and wanting to do a lot of sharing. (I stole a dog.)

wonkie, I loved everything about your comment, but this construction alone would have convinced me you were a writer, even if I didn't know it. I also completely agree with you about the definition of success, and I certainly never define it in terms of worldly acclaim, or reward. But anybody of both a lit-critical and analytical bent who was interested enough in my comment might have noticed that almost every paragraph ended in some kind of self-criticism. I try to fight this tendency, but clearly am often unsuccessful.

my definition of success is that it makes me happy

I think this is a perfectly good definition, and I aspire to it. I also understand about the privilege inherent in the ability to be a dilettante, and feel that the least one could do if one is so fortunate is to allow it to make one happy. It's a work in progress.

ral referred to today's hearing, and the "What is sport for" thread is still an open one, so I'll comment over there.

To me the line between hobby and avocation is a matter of devotion. Both are fine pursuits, most folks have one or more of each.

I've been playing music for about 55 years now, and doing to "professionally", which is to say somebody paid me to do it, for about 50. It's never been my main source of revenue, but I've put more time and attention into it than into anything else in my life. Practice is a daily thing, still, and mastery is still off in the distance somewhere.

Ars longa, vita brevis. Read 'em and weep.

My latest thing is building drums. A while back I became curious about how a drum's construction affects its sound. The kind of wood, the method of construction, the shape of the bearing edge (the point of the shell that the head rests on), the type of hoop, whether the hoop is metal or wood and if metal what kind of metal.

That sent me down a rabbit hole and I began finding drum builders who would sell raw shells and then building them up myself - finishing the wood, maybe cutting the bearing edges, laying out and installing the hardware.

I really like the sound of steam-bent shells, which are shells made by bending a single plank of wood into a circle. Most drum shells are made by layering up thin plies of wood, basically because it's just a much, much easier way to make wood into a circle. So most of my builds have been based on steam-bent shells.

All of that led me to learning how to finish hardwoods, because if you're gonna go to that level of effort in the first place, you might as well make it pretty.

And all of that led me to teaching myself to French polish, which is remarkably and surprisingly simple. You just cannot be in a hurry.

It's amazing to start with plain raw wood and watch its natural character and beauty emerge, like magic.

There's another whole preliminary process I do with a pure drying oil that involves wet sanding the oil into the shell, from relatively coarse grit (220 or 320) up through about a 2000 grit.

The finishing process takes months, end to end, because each step has to dry before you can proceed to the next.

It's amazingly relaxing, kind of a meditation. A hands on encounter with the material, mostly just staying out of its way and letting it do its thing. And then I get a really fine instrument out of it, for relatively short money.

I could just spray some poly on, and it would look fine. But I enjoy the practice - the rigor and discipline - of doing it the hard way.

Awesome. Drums are magic. I put together an oak and elk hide frame drum a couple years ago - hand laced and tied (18x3). Wasn't sure how it would come out as a first time project, but it was resonant and full and complex from the start. It's a living thing. Its voice changes with the conditions.

Today is humid, so its heartbeat is deep and muted.

This summer I have to get a professional nut put on my self-modified telecaster and have a pro set it up for me, and I have two pedals to build from kits, but those aren't anything like what you are doing with the drums. The kits are more paint-by-number.

That's a wonderful story, russell. I don't tend to do physical projects -- for reasons already mentioned, especially that I don't have the right kind of patience for them -- all my energy and patience go toward non-physical things like writing. But I do make an exception sometimes for projects involving wood, including the two ceilings I've made over the years.

I'm sure I've linked to this picture before -- it's my own most cherished example of what you wrote: It's amazing to start with plain raw wood and watch its natural character and beauty emerge, like magic. The ceiling in the picture started with boards that had already been jointed and planed and had the tongues and grooves done for me. But the first ceiling I made was from rough lumber, and I did all the steps myself. As you say, it's kind of a meditation -- it's wonderful to watch the grain emerge from the rough boards, even before any finish goes on.

I'd love to see some pictures of your drums and I bet I'm not the only one -- if you're willing to share and don't know how to put them into a post or comment, I'd be glad to help. It's easiy to put pictures in a post -- you just give typepad a path for fetching a picture. For a comment, one way or another you have to have a link to something that's already online.

Craftmanship, and the careful making of beautiful and useful things, absolutely fascinates and impresses me. I can spend hours watching, for example, film of people preparing skins to make parchment. And wood - the intricacies of its preparation and treatment are endless, and the finished products always beautiful. I cannot do any kind of practical thing at all, except for cooking, and even then I no longer go in for lengthy, complicated preparations. You all have my admiration.


The REAL victims! https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/news/james-patterson-who-is-worth-800-million-says-another-form-of-racism-targets-older-white-men/ar-AAYseB9?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=88dc0b837641478499247394e139cd81&fbclid=IwAR09z3Wu48hEVXNeSIoBhGkmudYT84bPE7Ks89PfsDgejt85RUdrfd_vzY0

Once a week I visit a lady who lives in a nursing home. I bring her books. SHe loves thrillers so Vance and Patterson are favorites. I cut out the Vance buys when he decided to run for the Senate. Now what am I going to do? I don't read thrillers. I don't know any other authors she might enjoy.

wonkie, I don't think that's the same Vance.

This guy wrote mysteries.

This guy (I will refrain from other epithets) wrote Hillbilly Elegy, but nothing else that I can find. He's the one who's running for the senate.

Does your friend require actual thrillers, or would regular mysteries do? I don't care for thrillers myself, but I love mysteries.

No one on the NYT bestsellers list gets to complain about how hard it is to be an author.

For people who like London, and seaminess, I can recommend the Mick Herron Slough House novels. I don't normally like spy or intelligence stuff, but these are really pretty good, with a great anti-hero main character.

For what it's worth, one of my favorite mystery writers, Louise Penny, recently wrote a thriller with Hillary Clinton: State of Terror. I haven't read it yet, so can't give an opinion about it. Louise Penny's mysteries are set in Quebec, and are the only ones on my favorites list that aren't set in the UK.

And though it's not my favorite genre, John John le Carré's spy thrillers are good. I enjoyed them a lot, even if not enough to put them on my "reread every few years" shelf.

FYI, I've just this minute started the latest Mick Herron. You might be interested to hear that the first sentence is:

The woods were lovely, dark and deep, and full of noisy bastards.

He's being called the heir to Le Carre, but I don't think that's right. The best since, perhaps.

that’s russell writing about Ringo Starr

Thanks for linking to that.
The music of the gaps is also what make Bach's solo violin pieces marvellous.

I recently came across the Brahms transcription for the left hand, which benefits from the same self imposed limitations.

"wonkie, I don't think that's the same Vance."

Thank you, JanieM, for that clarification! I can start buying Vances again. And thank everyone for the other suggestions.

Jack Vance is the *best* Vance, IMO.

Craftmanship, and the careful making of beautiful and useful things...

This is what I strive for with hobbyist software projects.

Drums are magic.

Miriam Simos says that magic is the "art of changing consciousness at will". Drums can make that happen, and historically (and pre-historically) have been one of the primary tools humans have used to do that.

So yes, they kind of are. They have power.

Janie kindly invited me to share some pictures of drum builds I've done, and even more kindly pointed me to some simple ways to make them accessible here. So here goes.

A mid-century Leedy snare, began life painted with blue and white Duco (car paint). Stripped it down and French polished it with an amber shellac. Amazing that anyone would paint that nice figured maple veneer.

Spruce or pine (forget which) stave-constructed shell, French polish with clear shellac.

Small drum kit, steam-bent canarywood. Finished by wet-sanding pure Tung oil in up through about a 1200 grit, then a light layer of Carnuba wax.

The current project, two steam-bent snare drum shells. Dark one is walnut pulled out of some guy's backyard in NE Ohio, lighter one is cherry. Walnut is gonna sound dark and fat, cherry is gonna sound bright and warm with less low end.

Last but not least, a small shekere that I made as a gift for a friend.

All of the drum shells here were built by other people, I just finished them and laid out and installed the hardware.

I cut the bearing edges on the small canarywood kit, because the sound I was after needed a different edge profile than is normally available from commercial builders. The others came with edges cut.

I get the hardware from an outfit in Pittsburgh that is basically Mecca for DIY drum builders and restorers. Some stuff comes from a specialty drum hardware guy who makes stuff for high-end boutiquey drum builders, which I am not.

I just build what I want to play.

Thank you for your indulgence! This stuff is fun to do and talk about (for me, anyway).

russell -- wow. The wood is beautiful! I am in awe, and so glad you gave us some pictures.

Before my ceiling was finished, I experimented with Tung oil and linseed oil on some scrap boards. For my purposes I chose the linseed oil because it was a little more yellow (sunny!) than the tung oil, on this particular wood anyhow. More recently I had the same carpenter who hung my ceiling make me a desk from maple sliced from our ancient maple trees, which the power company took down a few years ago. For that he gave me the choice of linseed and Danish oil -- I chose the Danish, but am somewhat second guessing myself. Too late for this desk, but who knows, he has a lot of slabs of maple out there.

Yes, Tung and linseed oils are basically equivalent in terms of function - i.e., how they are used to finish wood.

I like Tung because it's not as stinky, and it's less likely to make rags etc. spontaneously catch fire.

Linseed does darken the wood a bit more than Tung, which can be really attractive, depending the kind of wood and what you're after.

Wood is a wonderful material. It's the history of a living thing.

Yeah, the spontaneously catch fire bit is scary.

I also have linseed on all my woodwork and interior doors -- which are also all made of ash -- and on my wide pine board floor. That was an adventure in terms of the guy who worked on it messing up the process, which required a lot of fixing. But ... shit happens.

russell -- wow. The wood is beautiful! I am in awe, and so glad you gave us some pictures.

Very enthusiastically seconded. And russell, on the magical power of drums, they play an important part in Jerusalem, a remarkable play starring Mark Rylance, for which he (and it) won many awards ten years ago, both here and on Broadway. It was, by common consent, one of the most remarkable performances anybody had ever seen, and although the play is also considered a masterpiece my own opinion is that it is the performance that catapults it into the stratosphere. I saw it ten years ago, and as soon as I heard it was about to come back this year for a limited run I booked tickets again, for July, as well as making sure friends who had not succeeded in getting tickets back then found out in time to see it this time.

Anybody who is familiar with Rylance's work, say in Bridge of Spies, or Wolf Hall, would hardly believe it was the same man. But the magical power of drums: I will say no more, but Jerusalem was the first thing I thought of when I read russell's comment.

Janie, what about a picture of your maple desk? I bet I'm not the only one who'd would love to see it.

strike would.

Don't have any really good pictures, but I uploaded a couple.

This one, and then the right click to the next one. There are no drawers or anything, it's just a work surface.

I was heartbroken when those trees came down -- so am glad to have these remnants. The carpenter is also making something from that wood for each of my kids.

Gosh, that is really beautiful wood, Janie. Thank heavens those trees have a second life, at least. (I just remembered about the revelation in The Magician's Nephew that the wardrobe that let the kids into Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was made of wood from a tree that grew from an apple that had originally come from Narnia, decades before.)

I uploaded a couple.

beautiful! I don't know if I'd get anything done, working on a desk like that - I'd spend all my time looking at the desk!

Jerusalem, a remarkable play starring Mark Rylance

keeping my eyes open for that. thanks GFTNC!

Lovely table. The wood grain flows like water.

the spontaneously catch fire bit is scary.

My local coffee shop burned down about a decade back when someone forgot this.
Rapidly rebuilt, thankfully.

Drumming, nature or nurture... ?

69 unique genetic variants linked to the ability to keep time to a beat

Interesting article, Nigel. My granddaughter (now 7 months old) has sometimes been more likely to calm down from being fussy when I've played music for her, but typically only when I *also* hold her and walk around with her.

On those occasions I've tried to move with the beat of the music, however subtly, both because it's fun and because I have some vague notion that it will help establish a connection between music and movement. (I don't dance. In another lifetime, I hope I will.)

But also, in my more sober moments, I don't believe any "training" or practice is likely to be necessary to establish a connection between music and movement. Your article suggests that it depends....

Also this:

They also suggest the ability to keep a beat might be linked to childhood speech development and social interactions.

"Linked" to me is quite vague as to whether they're asserting causation (and if so in which direction?) or just correlation.

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