Sunday, January 25, 2015

Guitars

I own three guitars, a bass, an electric, and an acoustic.  My favorite right now is my bass, but my other guitars are fun to play with too.  Usually I just sit down and play some songs off of sheet music, or jam along with a song I like on Rocksmith 2014.  Using Cubase is also a hobby of mine and I have recorded some tracks, but nothing solid and nothing I am very proud of yet.

One of the lessons I have learned is that strings matter a lot.  This was taught to me in college when I took a couple semesters of classical guitar by a great teacher, but I have also heard this from professional musicians as well.  I suppose another reason I am particular about strings is from when I learned how to play alto saxophone.   My private tutor taught me the difference between reeds, and how the quality affected the sound.

The brands I was advised to buy and chose to pick are D'Addario, Ernie Ball, and DR Strings.




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hiking, Backpacking, and Camping

One of my resolutions for this new year of 2015 is to get out in nature more.  Many years ago I camped and hiked around northern California, and loved the experience.  For some reason I fell into a rut of staying at home and getting into routines that were not that healthy for my mind or body.

Walking into an old growth forest, or exploring a canyon that no one was around, feels like coming home for me.  This year I want to start over and explore the hiking and camping areas around southern California.  Later on in the year I may be heading outside of this area and will keep this blog updated with those adventures.


As the result of some research into current permits and regulations I found that many of these can be obtained online.

Fire Permit
http://www.preventwildfireca.org/Campfire-Permit/
These permits are required if you plan on making fires outside of designated camp grounds or use a portable stove.  National and state parks prohibit fires outside of designated areas without a special permit and usually a fire authority supervising.  I want to get into backpacking, and the only way to boil water or cook food while backpacking is to use a portable stove.  To register for the permit you first need to watch a 2 1/2 minute video explaining how to safely use stoves or fires.  In the video they explain how it is advised to clear an area of all brush 5 feet from the campfire.  When extinguishing a camp fire you should pour water on the burning materials, then stir them and flip them while pouring water on them.  Finally you should bury the smoldering materials with dirt.  Feel the exposed dirt with your hand to determine if the materials underneath are still hot or smoldering.  If it is you need to stay with the camp fire until the smoldering finishes.  Even if you have a fire permit, you need to check with the local officials to find out if there is a fire advisory.  If there is you are not allowed to make fires in that area.

Dogs
If you bring a dog then they must be leashed, or caged, at all times.  They are only allowed in developed areas typically.  Non-developed areas are prohibited to dogs.

Food
Dehydrated food is preferred for many reasons.  When backpacking your backpack weight is always an issue.  Carrying dehydrated food instead of canned of pre-cooked food decreases water weight, and when you get to a stream you can filter the water you collect with portable systems for use in cooking the dehydrated food.  Another reason dehydrated food is preferred over conventional food is that the package does not have as much odor output as other food storage systems.   Food odors attract animals to your pack, and tent, when your not around.  This decreases the odds of your backpack or tent from being torn apart, and your food stolen.  Bears are also a danger, and their noses are very sensitive.  Avoiding an encounter with a bear is always in your best interest.

I have tried Mountain House brand dehydrated food, and the entrees I like the most are:
Lasagna with Meat Sauce