Monthly Archives: May 2013

Playing with Language Creation – Sort-of

Somewhere in my Internet journeys while compiling or waiting for tests to complete, I came across The Language Construction Kit, which is actually more of a how-to overview of creating a language.  This has got me thinking that maybe I should have my own languages for my untitled fantasy story which I’ve been working on off and on (mostly off) over the last few years.  As I’m pretty much following a lot of recent fantasy and treating Early 21st Century American English as the common tongue.

Aside: I am convinced that, for all intents and purposes, George R. R. Martin is using that form of that English as the “Common Tongue” of Westros – with the exception of it lacking a couple of words that come from the French, requiring his characters to use the less polite, germanic, forms instead.

But, I have Dwarves as main characters, and there is some action near where I stopped that will take place in the courts of the Dwarven Deep King.  So, having a Dwarven language would be of use.

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The missing Billion Dollar Idea

I just recalled another Billion Dollar Project:

A movie adaptation of John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars staring Wil Wheaton.

While it probably wasn’t (at least not 100%) written with that in mind, but the name character/narrator comes across as just the kind of role that Wheaton plays a lot these days.  (OK, having listened to the audio book as read by Wheaton may color my perception a bit).

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Billion Dollar Projects

With the Power Ball lottery pushing $0.5Billion*, I decided to share some of my “billion dollar projects,” that is projects that I might undertake if I had a billion or more dollars that I could throw at some project without regard to their ability to actually make any money.  These aren’t necessarily projects that would loose money, but I wouldn’t undertake them without being willing to spend as much money as possible without thought of return.

In no particular order:

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Musical Aspirations

For some time, I’ve had some thoughts about learning a new instrument.

Off and on from the 4th grade through college, I played Alto Sax in various bands.  (I ended up dropping band the last year at each school: part way through my 5th and 8th grade years, moving from Marching/Symphonic Band to Concert Band my 11th grade year, and then no band class at all my 12th grade year, being unable to schedule Marching Band during the fall semester of my 5th and final year at UNM; and was only in the “zoo” band during one spring semester during those same 5 years).  After leaving school, I pulled out my sax on rarer and rarer occasions, and finally sent it home with my sister, brother-in-law and The Albuquerque Boy Choir a couple of years ago – after The Boy Choir tour took them to San Diego – so that they could donate it to Hummingbird Music Camp.  (I presume that it has been played more over the last couple of years than it had over the preceding 20).

However, I keep looking at other instruments that I might be able to use in more social situations (and potentially in worship – but that is much less likely).  The ones that most appeal to me include guitar, autoharp and some forms of drum.

Guitar has some appeal because it is fairly flexible, and classes are fairly available both from specialized sources and places like community colleges.  Learning on an electric has an added appeal that I could use one of the amps that feed into headphones, so that I could practice without disturbing anyone else.  On the other hand, decent guitars aren’t super-cheap (I’m seeing prices in the $100-$500 range for recommended begineer models), and they aren’t trivial to learn, making me more concerned about getting frustrated early on and quitting.

Autoharps aren’t as common as they were years ago, but they seem to be a fairly easy to learn option, at least for playing chords.  On the other hand, they are even more expensive than a guitar, harder to tune (more strings), and not offer as many options beyond chords.

I’ve not always been a fan of drums – largely a bias that comes from the personality of a lot of the kids who play drums in middle school, high school and college band – or at least traditional drums (snare, trap-set, etc.).  However, I’ve been specifically thinking about the Bodhran since I appreciate how it works in much of my favorite music.  Some form of hand drum (conga or the like) has some appeal since I already find myself slapping out beats on my legs, chair, and the like when listening to music – so I may already have some ability with those kind of drums.

However, both time and money aren’t in infinite supply and I have a fair amount eating both these days.  As frustrating as this is, it probably limits or delays how soon I could actually make a serious commitment to learning a new instrument.

Also, it is becoming clear that I will soon have to transition from walks 4 days a week and an hour with the personal trainer one day a week, to something – probably Taekwondo, since there is a close-by school that looks good – to give me a more regular and intense workout.  This will further eat into both my time and money supply (unless it ends up less per week than the personal trainer).

But, I’m still thinking and won’t turn down any suggestions both for instruments to learn, ways to acquire one easily, and how to learn to master (or at least become a competent apprentice) them