I can hear the june bugs approaching

(Thanks to Kasi for this one.)

I recent­ly dis­cov­ered that gui­tar chords are the same as ukulele chords, which opens up the reper­toire of avail­able songs con­sid­er­ably. It’s a shame that most online sheet music is in the form of gui­tar tabs, which don’t trans­late to the ukulele. Still, I have enough songs to prac­tice that I can switch to anoth­er when I get bored with one. I find it inter­est­ing that since the ukulele requires two hands doing dif­fer­ent things, I run into a bot­tle­neck in hand dex­ter­i­ty; I can pluck or strum well enough with my right hand, but I can’t get the chords with my left hand fast enough, or vice ver­sa depend­ing on the song. I have to prac­tice each hand indi­vid­u­al­ly, which is so unlike any oth­er instru­ment I’ve played before.

I have a tele­scope now. My instruc­tor was able to get a great pack­age deal for stu­dents in his astropho­tog­ra­phy course for a 114mm reflec­tor, along with a track­ing motor1 and illu­mi­nat­ed retic­ule2. I put it togeth­er today, and it was real­ly excit­ing to be assem­bling all these pre­ci­sion parts to make my first tele­scope, a moment I dreamed about since I was a kid. Astronomy is much more com­pli­cat­ed than I expect­ed. Much of it is sim­i­lar to pho­tog­ra­phy in terms of the equip­ment used (although the terms and con­trols are dif­fer­ent), but now you also have to know your sub­ject, your ori­en­ta­tion, and your weath­er con­di­tions, not to men­tion being at the right place.

I’m feel­ing bet­ter about things. Maybe it’s the promise of warmer weath­er. I’m wait­ing for the day I can dri­ve my car with the win­dows down and san­dals on. Those are the days of house par­ties, camp­ing, drinks on patios, and first kiss­es. Soon, it will be the time of stargaz­ing, bar­be­cues, and who knows.

A few peo­ple have sug­gest­ed my depres­sion may have been due to a chem­i­cal imbal­ance, which I nev­er ruled out. Even though it was one e‑mail on that Thursday morn­ing that trig­gered all those bad thoughts, I nor­mal­ly would have been able to han­dle it bet­ter. There was­n’t an imme­di­ate impact. Just a grad­ual sag­ging that got worse and worse through­out the day until I was com­plete­ly deject­ed at night. After that, I got a blis­ter on my neck from stand­ing in the show­er for too long with water that was too hot. Now that I think about it, I com­plete­ly under­stand why I felt that way, but it seems kind of sil­ly.

Joe Lencioni also rec­om­mend­ed to me a free pro­gram called Flux — appro­pri­ate­ly head­lined as “Software to make your life bet­ter” — that grad­u­al­ly changes the colour tem­per­a­ture and bright­ness of your mon­i­tors to mim­ic the set­ting sun. It’s also local­ized, so it knows when the sun sets for your area and changes auto­mat­i­cal­ly. I’m pret­ty sure it’s made it eas­i­er for me to fall asleep at night.

I’m in such a strange phase right now. I don’t know where I am. When I look back on this time in my life, I won­der whether I’ll look back with nos­tal­gia, pity, or regret.

  1. To move the tele­scope at the same rota­tion of the earth to pre­vent blur in astropho­tog­ra­phy. []
  2. To keep track of a guide star in cal­i­brat­ing the track­ing motor. []


  1. I’m glad you are start­ing to feel bet­ter! That reminds me, I want to email you some­thing.…

  2. Oh mannnn try an organ out some­time… for mul­ti­ple head­paths to han­dle all the parts in your hands and feet… I failed at it. Royally. What I did when learn­ing was get the left hand chords on autopi­lot if the right hand was a strum; or get the right hand fin­ger­pick­ing on autopi­lot if that was the more dif­fi­cult of the two. Just be glad you aren’t play­ing a plec­trum ban­jo. It has weird string order with a high string on the low end where you least expect it. And only part of the way up the neck!.

    I too am glad you’re bet­ter. I am nuk­ing good brain­wish­es in your direc­tion.

    • Organ and drums I can imag­ine require super­nat­ur­al coor­di­na­tion; I have a hard time with two limbs, let alone four!

  3. A gui­tar has 6 strings, but a ukulele has only 4, I won­der how their respec­tive chords can be the same. Hey, you play the piano, isn’t it sim­i­lar in terms of co-ordi­nat­ing the hands?

    • Ah, the chords are the same between a gui­tar and a ukulele (i.e. a C chord sounds the same on both), but the fin­ger­ing to get that chord is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. That means as long as the sheet music says the chord pro­gres­sion is “C‑G-D‑E”, instead of using gui­tar-spe­cif­ic tabs (which only show where to put the fin­gers on each string), then I can use that sheet music to play along.

      The piano does use two hands, but they’re doing very sim­i­lar things. Even if the tim­ing is dif­fer­ent, they’re still both press­ing keys. I find that using one hand to hold down strings and the oth­er to strum real­ly throws me off.

      • Playing the piano requires not just the hands to play at dif­fer­ent tim­ings, but also dif­fer­ent notes, which are com­pli­cat­ed cog­ni­tive process­es. But strum­ming is more mechan­i­cal than cog­ni­tive. Maybe you can com­pare it with dri­ving a stick-shift car. All you need is con­fi­dence and a lit­tle prac­tice.

  4. this makes me hap­py. ^^

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