The Year of the Morbes

March 29th, 2017

Wow, I haven’t been on here in more than a year! Hello world! Morbes is back, and if I have anything to say about it, better than ever. A lot has changed since I last posted, and I have big plans for 2017.

The last twelve months have been difficult. A host of setbacks combined to create a perfect storm of stress, exhaustion, and depression that I permitted to impact me far more than I’d like to admit. Between three significant job changes, two interstate moves, major dental surgery and a few other significant life events I wound up overwhelmed and felt helpless to address the growing frustration that I felt regarding life. In the past I have found great success using logic when dealing with emotion to keep myself sane and grounded, and much to my frustration that did not help with the situation I found myself in.

With the clarity of hindsight it seems quite obvious that I cheerfully loaded up a tiny boat with all of my self confidence and happiness, and proceeded to sail boldly into the middle of a churning sea of misery – and was somehow shocked when my boat foundered, leaving me to bob hopelessly in the waves with little more than twin water wings filled with sadness and apathy to keep me afloat. Acknowledging the extent that my own actions contributed to my situation was, while intensely difficult, almost cathartic and allowed me to reassert some control of my life and the events in it. Long story short I can rate the last year as quite possibly the worst on record. The hits kept coming, and they didn’t stop until I was reduced to a quivering, pathetic shadow of my former self.

The good news is that all of that is in the past.

I’m a strong believer in the value of letting go of the past while still learning from it, and I definitely gained insight from the experience; the value of friends, the importance of self-worth, the danger of relying on anyone other than yourself for validation and happiness, and the importance of maintaining ones physical and mental health to name a few.

And so it is that I have decided to displace the rooster and declare 2017 The Year of the Morbes. There are a lot of things that I’d like to do as a part of this initiative, but I’m focusing on three outcomes:

  • Getting into the best shape of my life both mentally and physically, preferably by spending a lot of time in the great outdoors.
  • Pursue creative endeavors, music in particular, and share them with others.
  • Be social, build new friendships, and cultivate existing relationships with friends and family.

Here’s to a fantastic 2017!

Hello 2016!

January 1st, 2016

Every new year I write something to kick off the next 365 days. Today’s entry is a little crowded, I tried to fit too many melodies and instruments in. It needs cleaned up, but it’s a fun little electronic melody still. Click HERE to listen!

The Art of Practice

December 29th, 2015

This was written well over two years ago and was left sitting in the draft folder gathering dust. Enjoy!

 

Picture a room. In this room there is a small boy, maybe eight or nine. His fingernails are trimmed and clean, his wild black hair subdued, dressed in a formal coat and jacket. This child sits at an ancient grand piano, lovingly maintained and tuned, its black surface reflecting the sun like a pool of radiant light. The air in the room is heavy, the unmistakable scent of old books dancing along the tragically minor air movements that pass for ventilation. Tiny drops of sweat glisten in the fading light as boy frowns in concentration, his forehead wrinking as he attempts the most challenging section of the piece he has been practicing.

The hammers of the piano softly connect with their respective strings as small fingers deftly drift across the keys. The creative genius of a long dead composer brought to life in a compelling and dramatic musical rendition.

For a moment the little boy is one with the piano, his brain in perfect communication with his hands, the music flowing effortlessly. For a moment, the music is perfect and nothing else matters.

Then a mistake is made.

The boy grimaces at the dissonance and pauses briefly before restarting the measure. This part has always been a problem for him. A quick glance  to the right reveals his teacher, an elderly woman, thin and proper in a plain black dress. She returned his glance with an expression of disapproval. He was supposed to practice that part last week, and if he had this would not have happened.

He liked the music, he loved the feeling of getting it right, but practice was so boring. His mind wanders, a daydream of one day becoming famous by playing music for giant crowds briefly distracts him from reality causes another mistake. The teacher sighs and goes into another lecture about how he has clearly not practiced.


Practice is a very interesting concept; we practice languages, science, math, and other tedious subjects with the goal of proficiency. We seek proficiency with the expectation that it will be beneficial to our future selves, it is safe to say that at a minimum no one will be harmed by a rudimentary knowledge of many fields – practice is, at its worst, not going to do any harm.

Unfortunately I have never been one to focus on future benefit, my outlook rarely extends beyond what is happening in the present.

I have been fortunate in life that I have not struggled with excessive health issues, I have not had to watch my eating to maintain a healthy weight, I have had a steady job that allows me live without being worried about money and have had the opportunity to pursue my hobbies as far as I wish to go.

And yet here I am thinking about practice.

I took five or six years of piano lessons when I was in my teens, and I rarely practiced. My parents played classical music almost constantly through what I can remember of my childhood and through this I developed a keen ear for what does and does not sound right in music. I used this gift to learn songs in my piano lessons – I couldn’t read music so I would ask my teacher to play the song for me so that I could copy her. I loved music but the piano felt boring by itself. It was during this period that I discovered a piece of software called “Cakewalk Express”, a trial version of music creation software. I revelled in the world of MIDI composition and the ability to create sixteen tracks of layered instruments. My world expanded overnight and I explored my new-found musical outlet for countless hours. My initial creative attempts were, to put it mildly, terrible. I did not know how to use the software and the hardware was woefully inadequate for legitimate music production. I wouldn’t have classified it as such at the time, but I was practicing music – admittedly blindly and in an unconventional manner, but I was practicing the art of music in a form that I loved. Over the years my musical knowledge expanded, my equipment and software improved, I owned various keyboards but rarely attempted to use them.

Then, a few years ago, a tornado wiped out much  of my earthly belongings and I was left with a blank slate and a check from the insurance company. I moved to a new town, took a new job, and resolved to use this fresh start to change who I was and improve myself. I put together a top of the line computer for music production and bought a high end keyboard workstation with the intent of playing piano again.

I continued to compose with my computer and music software but the keyboard sat on its stand gathering dust between the periodic attempts at creative inspiration. This continued until the middle of 2013. In August of that year I was bored and listening to music while sitting at my computer. On  whim I decided to attempt to play along with the song that was playing. I didn’t do well but it was fun so I downloaded the song and played along with it on repeat. Before I knew it an hour had passed and I was creating new variations on my piano accompaniment. Suddenly piano  was fun, and I have since found myself playing daily – once again practicing an art without realizing it.

By the end of May 2014 I suddenly realized that something had changed, something had clicked in my brain and the physical keyboard just made sense. I had reached a point that I could listen to a song and be playing along with rudimentary chords by the end. After a few more plays I could effortless play through adding embellishments consistently.

This new found power of brain/hand coordination has made me so happy – I can now sit down and improvise music for hours, sometimes I get less sleep than I should because I get too involved in the music to notice that time has decided to move on without me. Practicing music is infinitely more enjoyable for me than practicing Netflix binging, or video games, or aimless Reddit browsing.

Everything we do is practice, but not everything we practice will bring us happiness. In short, find a hobby that makes you happy and stick with it until it makes you even more happy.

New Music Monday

June 8th, 2015

Here’s a little song I wrote…

Listen to it here!

Something New

April 4th, 2015

The past several months have been a whirlwind of activity, I haven’t had a great deal of free time to play or write music. I am hoping to change that now!

A little something I started on tonight.

Gyro.mp3

The Only Constant

March 16th, 2015

Standing at the precipice of transformation, seconds away from a swift and irreversible descent  into the maelstrom of uncertainty and fear that make up a life changing event. Tension hung heavy in the air with delicious undertones of uncertainty. The confident smile betrayed by a beating heart under the influence of excess adrenaline, an automatic nervous system response prepares the body for fight or flight. A deep breath precedes the hesitant first step off the edge, the empty void of the future quickly focusing into the present.

Yesterday marked my last day with my employer of nearly eight years. Today marks the start of my new adventure, a new job with increased responsibility and freedom, a new town with a radically different culture, and an opportunity to integrate and reinvent myself. I was on the fringe of complacency in my old job, unhappy but reasonably comfortable in a secure position with clearly defined boundaries, responsibilities, and little risk.

I don’t feel like it is productive to dwell on the past or spend a great deal of time attempting to predict the future, the present has more than enough to keep me busy.

Loading Morbes 2.0, please wait…

New Music

January 28th, 2015

I wrote some new music, it’s got a little video game kick to it!

Playing Around

October 9th, 2014

I have a very cheap M-Audio midi controller that sits to my right. It has eighty-eight non-weighted keys and plays horribly because of it. But it’s convenient because it sits just to the right of me and I have had it forever. My nice keyboard sits to the left and behind me and I do not currently own a USB cable that can reach from it to my computer.  Because of this situation any time I want to record anything I am forced to use the cheap plastic keyboard to my right.

Today I was playing around on this terrible piece of equipment and recorded a few minutes of my practice session. Bear in mind this is me randomly pressing keys on a keyboard, this is not some great song that I composed. Start times are quantized due to latency in the midi recording – notes were offset just enough to be noticeable and annoying. The unfortunate effect of the quantize process is that it takes away some of the “live” feel as no human plays notes at the precision that the computer can. Trust me, it’s better than the way it initially recorded.

Listen to it here.

Zero Inspiration

September 25th, 2014

I slogged away for about 45 minutes searching for anything resembling inspiration. I was not successful. However in the process I did create this overly upbeat little clip. Perhaps inspiration will strike tomorrow…

Morbes Hates Laundry

August 8th, 2014

Four important notes before I launch into a rambling story about laundry:

  1. I woke up this morning at 6AM thanks to my impeccable internal alarm clock. Even on vacation I can’t sleep in. I was able to take fifteen minutes to write some music though! Click here to listen:
  2. On an additional side note, today is my first day of following the “Couch to 5K” program. I went for a run at 6:30 when it was a pleasant 70 degrees. I came back drenched in sweat, out of breath, and nearly threw up at the end. I am in  terrible shape.
  3. The little brotherling, Kroniaq, has a remarkably interesting blog. He talks about writing and even includes short excerpts from the book he is writing. You should read it. Kroniaq.com.
  4. Two of my songs are getting thousands of downloads each month, last month these downloads alone made up six of the seven gigabytes of bandwidth that this site used. From my access logs I can see that they are being played from a few IP addresses in China on some variation of Windows Media Player. If you are reading this and streaming those two songs, I would like to thank you for enjoying my music and ask why you are streaming them instead of downloading them? I have unlimited bandwidth so I don’t care, I’m just curious.

On the topic of Laundry…

Yesterday I started vacation. Ironically enough I also went to work for six hours, but I am a workaholic so that’s to be expected. I might even go back to work for a few hours today to catch up on emails so that I can actually enjoy the next week off.

Anyway, as I stated above, I technically was on vacation yesterday. I have few plans for my time off work so, as usual when I take a vacation without planning, I decided that I should do some of the housework that I always procrastinate on. I decided today would be a perfect day to wash my sheets, pillow cases, comforter, and mattress pad.

All at once.

Before you start judging me for being an idiot with no clue of how to take care of myself (admittedly not far from the truth) you should know that I have a very expensive and enormous front loading washer and dryer set. I do not make a habit of overloading my laundry refreshing devices, I like my clothes to be clean so  it is in my best interest to maintain them in good working order. I absolutely hate laundromats (click here to see why) so a washer and dryer in my laundry room are a necessity.

It turns out that all my bedding takes up a very considerable amount of space in the washer, especially the large fluffy comforter. Despite this I was confident in my washing machine, it is a futuristic-looking amalgamation of plastic and steel with more knobs, dials, and lights than many airplanes. It’s broad stance gives a clear statement of powerful indifference toward the petty tasks I give it. Every time I walk into my laundry room I can imagine it trash talking me:

Washer: “Is this the best you can do human? I will take these puny amounts of detergent that you have provided and beat your soiled textiles into the cowardly, fresh smelling, clean fabrics that you desire. A real man wears his musk to show the world his dominance.”

Me: I work with the general public, believe me when I say that musk is not something that I want to share with them. Also you appear to be confusing my sweat with the glandular production of the musk deer. There is a definite difference.”

Washer: “Semantics.”

Dryer: “I would like to point out that dryer sheet use is a sign of weakness in many cultures. I take offense at their use and will now use my powerful heating coils to shrink every article of clothing that you own.”

Me: “I would like to point out that I put fabric softener in Mr. Washer here, I don’t use dryer sheets. Would you mind citing your information source on those cultures that abstain from soft clothing?”

Washer: “Yeah Dryer, why don’t you link that Wikipedia page for us? Oh wait! You can’t because this idiot didn’t want to spend a little extra money to buy Wi-Fi connected washers and dryers. Being cheap is a sign of idiocy in many cultures. I would also like to point out that the ancient Mayan culture died out from use of liquid fabric softener. You are single handedly destroying civilization. Nice work moron.”

Me: “I quite sincerely cannot think of a reason why I would spend an additional thousand dollars on Wi-Fi connections for the two of you. As long as we’re being brutally honest with  each other, I do rather wish I had purchased a washer and dryer that had a less nerdy notification sound when they were done. Your notification sounds like the mating call of a half melted speak and spell mixed with an Atari 2600. I won’t even do laundry when I have company over because I am ashamed that they will hear that gratingly cheerful 8-bit melody that you produce after finishing each cycle.

Washer: (gasp)

Dryer: (gasp)

Me: (smugly walks out of the laundry room)

You have to assert your authority over your household appliances, if they won’t submit you could wind up with a revolution. My conversations with the coffee maker will have to wait until a different post.

 

Now that I have sufficiently exhausted this off-topic tangent I will continue with the events of my laundry adventure yesterday.

I managed to stuff all my bedding into the washer at once, added detergent and fabric softener, then stretched out on the couch to watch House.

An hour and two episodes pass.

I curiously check on the washer,  I see that it shows six minutes remaining on the spin cycle.

I watch another episode before checking on the washer again. Still six minutes, still on the spin cycle.

Not good.

I watch as the washer half-heartedly turns the drum a single rotation, stops, makes some obnoxious noises that are probably machine profanities, then makes a single rotation in the other direction. This repeats several more times over the several minutes I watched. Still six minutes on the spin cycle.

I paused the wash, pulled the waterlogged comforter, and restarted the cycle. The washer kicked into a hyper-sonic spin mode that made the whole house vibrate and I sighed with relief. Unfortunately I was left holding a dripping, heavy comforter that was beginning to flood my laundry room.

I tentatively put it into the dryer.

The dryer was extremely displeased with me but grudgingly got to work. Every rotation I could hear the waterlogged comforter thud as it fell from the top of the drum to the bottom. Since I could feel the judgmental glares of both appliances I opted to leave the room and watch another episode of house.

The sheets, pillowcases, and mattress pad all finished spinning within ten minutes. The comforter was still waterlogged in the dryer. I swapped the contents of each machine and put the comforter through the spin cycle by itself while drying the other bedding.

Success! Much time could have been saved if I had just split everything into two loads, I suppose we can call this a lesson learned. Don’t make the mistakes that I did.