First off, I hope everyone has a cause to enjoy themselves this Christmas. I'm with you in spirit, regardless of whether you can or cannot enjoy yourselves this season. I would also like to warn you that this is a long post, and there is no TL;DR that I can attach here.
Vigil Mass was great; I sensed a deep awe and wonder at the birth of Christ. In addition to that, I'd been assigned to the bodhrán and the timpani... I'd been made general drummer. Coming from someone like me, those of you who know me well would perhaps know what this means. Those of you who don't: I am a complete animal on the drums. I show my passions so easily when playing percussion. It was beautiful, it was enjoyable, and it was my prayer.
It is still Christmastide, so I am still going to celebrate as much as I can.
As for those of you wondering what I got for Christmas: I have posted a few times on the forums as well as on some people's news posts stating the presents I have received thus far (i.e. opened on Christmas Eve, after the Vigil Mass. Technically, it's Christmas as soon as the Vigil Mass starts, whenever that may be). So far, they are as follows:
- Two Chocolate Oranges (sorry, I already ate them between Christmas Eve and today...)
- A box of chocolates (no, I didn't touch that one yet)
- A box of shortbread (no, as much as I like shortbread, I didn't touch that one yet either)
- A small bottle of vodka (no, I didn't touch that yet either...)
- A vanilla-scented candle.
- Some lovely-smelling bath salts.
- A Raspberry Pi.
- Full access to Versilian Studios' VSTi (thank you @Samulis!)
- A 19-string Irish harp! (thank you Seán a.k.a. @IrishChieftain!)
I hear there is at least one more present in the pipeline, but I haven't had the opportunity to receive it yet. I'll see what it is in due time.
So, some photos for your enjoyment. Descriptions provided where necessary, of course:
The Raspberry Pi setting up. It's got four USB slots, an HDMI slot, micro SD and jack plug plus power. It's also got a network adaptor, so I can go online with it. I was so excited looking at this screen, I digested everything that appeared on screen. I got the Raspberry Pi so that I can learn how to code: the Pi is made specifically for that purpose, to encourage computer enthusiasts to code. Flash intimidates me (and is quite obsolete, let's be honest), and I need somewhere where I can start on.
The other reason why I want to code is..... well, this: some of you may remember me posting pictures and tracks for a certain bullet hell shooter in progress known as Project Chaplaincy. I was on the verge of abandoning it when I had tried to look for someone to collaborate with me on this, but everyone whom I approached just refused, and one person publicly ridiculed me. But Seán and @HalcyonicFalconX both encouraged me not to give up, in more ways than one. No programmers? Simple solution: I'm doing this on my own.
This is the actual computer. This is the actual size of it. Those are Seán's fingers. There is a plastic case for it. Yeah.... you can imagine how small this thing really is. Being a small thing, it's not going to be as high-end or as powerful as a gaming rig or a musician's computer. However, the functionality is equal to that of a budget netbook at least. And all of this for £27. Now, it's capable of running many operating systems (popular choices are Android and Linux, and some have even run it on Windows) -- but I've run it on Raspbian, the recommended OS for novice users of the Pi.
I'm quite happy with what I've seen thus far. Seán and I hope to learn this together.
The bath salts, tipple of vodka and chocolates. Mmm. I'm not about to indulge in them just yet, but I think they can come in very handy for some stressful situations in the future.
My harp. Upon seeing it @etherealwinds welcomed me to the proverbial club! ^_^ This is an instrument I have longed for, for quite a while. Seán had me completely in the dark, giving me clues, hints and misdirection. He'd confused me enough to think that 1) it wasn't a harp, 2) it was some sort of multi-coloured monstrosity. At present-opening time he held it out to me while my eyes were still closed... and there we go. I was just moved..... I didn't really know what to think. I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry.
Like with my bodhrán, I have taken the liberty of giving this harp a name. It now goes by the name Síle (pronounced 'Sheila'; the Irish form of 'Cecilia').
There's a photo of me posing with it in the 'Show NG your instrument thread'; I'm not going to post it here but if you'd like to see me posing with it, kindly look it up in the search bar above.
I'm slowly turning Irish: I have bodhráns, a harp, a tin whistle... and I am slowly picking up an Irish accent off Seán... Only thing I can't change, of course, is how I look. Seán looks and is Irish; I don't think I have a hope in hell of ever coming anywhere close. Indians aren't known for red hair. Dark brown hair, maybe, but not pale, Elvish skin.
I mentioned in the gift-opening thread for this year's NG Audio Secret Santa that I'd put my thoughts down in this post. A lot can be said about this year's Audio Secret Santa. For those among you who do not know what it's all about, allow me to explain:
Imagine you are person A, and then there's person B, and person C. You make a present in the form of an original song for person C, person C makes a song for person B, and person B makes a song for you. It's all secret, you have no idea what it's going to be like..... until Christmas Day, when you get to open your present. Now imagine this, with far more participants.
For starters, @Stupor said that this is the first Audio Secret Santa to have had the attention it received -- a notice about it was posted on the front page. As such, many people turned up. By many, I mean 50+. This is a wonderful turnout. I find it beautiful: it encourages giving, it encourages composition. It encourages you to break out of your stupor (pardon the unintentional pun) of depression or whatever, and break the proverbial wall preventing you from honing your craft. If the piece you are meant to do is of a different genre to what you're used to, it promotes going out of your comfort zone, and allows you to learn something new. Each person can get a different lesson from the Audio Secret Santa, and this is what I enjoy thoroughly. I took part in last year's Audio Secret Santa, and I felt the same too.
Every event that we try and put together is going to have its problems, and I will list them down here. As a participant, this is what I observe:
Shirking participants. Stupor acknowledges that every year, there are going to be a number of people who put down what they would like to receive as a gift. But these same people don't make pieces in return (or forget to, etc.). Now there are genuine emergencies, or it can be that things overwhelm people. It is Christmastide, after all. Things do get terribly busy. This, I understand. But I know we'd really appreciate it if we know whether people are going to be able to make a piece, or whether they can't, or whether they're just going to be lazy and not do anything. Whatever our reasons, it's best to let us know -- not leave us hanging without an explanation.
Quality control. A number of us who are taking part are either seasoned musicians, or at least know a thing or two about making a decent piece. We have had at least one submission in our portfolio here on NG with a minimum score of 3.50/5.00. Unless someone has asked for us to make the worst piece possible for them this Christmas, we generally put in effort into making our gift. It's the thought that counts, yes, but thoughts come with effort. If you're giving a gift to someone, you don't make it half-hearted, do you? -- unless you have a great amount of spite for that person, in which case, I recommend, don't fecking give him a gift at all. I know many people here have toiled hard to make their pieces sound good, to their giftees' liking. Sadly, I can also hear when someone's put hardly any effort in.
Lack of feedback. I see many people who have received feedback on the songs they've made. I myself have tried to give feedback. But some of us haven't received any thoughts on whether our giftees liked our songs, or not. Maybe some of us might have received it through PM or Skype, in which case, great -- but some of us don't even know at all! I know I don't want to be pushy and all, but consider this: if someone's made you a gift from his heart, toiled hard to make it and deliver it to you on the date, and you act like you don't care (or you don't say anything), how is that person going to feel? One can always hope the giftee likes the gift, but one can never be so sure.
Well, these are my thoughts in a nutshell. I suppose I need to let the 12 days of Christmas pass before I give any final thoughts. Much of my reactions are ultimately going to depend on what the participants do, after all. Still, I just thought I'd throw it out there.
Right, that's it from me for now. This post has been long enough. Ta for now,