“Chorus From Judas Maccabaeus” in G Major

This is “Chorus From Judas Maccabaeus” in G Major. I wanted to have a record of it somewhere before I went before my instructor this week! It’s the first piece in my Suzuki Book 2. I’ve been working on it since October 1, 2021.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve only been studying the violin for just over 15 months (I started June 4, 2020). I find it one of the most difficult—and rewarding—experiences I’ve ever done, and that includes learning martial arts, any language, or advanced technological systems during “the day” when I was employed. It is both frustrating and enlightening. I have come so damned far since that June 4th. But few things, I’ve learned, are worth the effort if they require little-to-no focus, determination, and persistence. Not to mention stepping outside what you already know (or think you know). To become…humble…again.

Life, I’ve found, is not meant to just be about becoming a “master” at something. It’s about so much more, in fact most of it, I believe, is intensely personal to each of us in our own ways. But endemic to that is that it’s about learning things…failing…and picking ourselves up and continuing to go forward. Growing mentally, spiritually, and physically—which really are part and parcel to each other. Music is an incredible method to the madness.

The whole process is much like the Life experiences we’re all currently going through.

Everything we do is tied to everything else. How can it not be? If we’re part of this Life, than all that we do is also a part of Life. It simply cannot be otherwise.

So, this being the case, we must choose to always DO BETTER…to pick ourselves up when we fall or fail or stumble…to not allow those apparent “failings” to hinder us nor hold us back nor feel guilt over them…but to learn from them and to FORGE AHEAD (and I do mean forge forth, my friends!). Grow from our missteps. Have tolerance, sympathy, and compassion for others.

At the risk of sounding trite: do good things. Pursue good things. Be the best person you can be, and Life will be the best it can be. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old. Every second of Life matters, and even if it takes those final few seconds you have in life where you meet your epiphany…it doesn’t matter. No life is ever wasted. We just may not figure that out…until we’ve moved on.

But for now, for me, I’ve chosen to learn music. Learn the violin. Do something I’ve told myself for over 30 years I would do when I retire. And I am constantly amazed at what I am able to now accomplish after 15 months and the patient assistance of an incredible instructor. I feel that my work with the violin, even though it is highly personal, will help Life for all of us. Just like any other endeavors each of you find soulfully rewarding and peaceful and fulfilling. Continue to do everything you’re all doing, because it all helps Life to be a better place for all of us.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Other Violin Posts

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Beyond The Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

Edgar Allan Poe (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

Last night my wife and I went to the first of what we hope will be an annual event: Beyond The Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe (BTG). It was presented by the Front Range Theater Company (FRTC) and Evergreen Cemetery, in Colorado Springs.

This was an extremely cool and well-thought-out Hallowe’en event! BTG consisted of five short stories (and three vignettes, of which I did not find any of them—by name—listed in my Edgar Allan Poe compendium) written by Edgar Allan Poe and performed by actors from the FRTC and community in the Evergreen Cemetery, and it was quite the enjoyable event! The weather was cool and balmy, and during one of the skits, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the balmy winds actually kicked up quite a notch during the rising escalation of the performance itself! It was a most magical evening, indeed!

The following were performed, and in the listed order:

  • The Wedding (vignette)
  • The Black Cat
  • High Tea (vignette)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • Ghostly Painting (vignette)
  • The Raven

Upon entering the cemetery—after dark!—we were directed to park along the road. There was no parking lot, of course, this was the interior of an actual cemetery. I had our own flashlight, and in truth, you did need to bring one beyond the internal flashlight of an iPhone. There were many ditches and mounds and the like that you had to navigate around on your way to the meeting location. Now, once there, the group did offer flashlights to all who needed them, which was a terrific idea. Anyway, at the Sign-in Desk, one of the women asked for our names. She ran down her list without finding ours, then asked, “How do you spell that?” To which I replied:

“With letters.”

There was a pause…then she said, after a caught-off-guard chuckle (you know, realizing my rapier whit and all), “Oh…you’re one of those.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “I am one of “those!

After having my fun at her expense, we checked in and waited for the tour’s start time, but in the meantime heard distant hysterical laughter in the darkness! I actually recognized that laughter—it was one of our nieces who was playing one of the characters in this event! How funny that we could hear her from such a distance and that I recognized her!

Oh, man, this was gonna be great!

All of our group was excited and in a fine mood, laughing and talking, and we were led away by our lantern-carrying guide. As we walked behind our guide, we had a little bit of a distance to cover before arriving at our first performance, so I asked our guide, “What would you do if you were walking along with all of us, then turned around and found us all…gone?” She initially said nothing for a few moments, then said, “I’d be alarmed.” She said it just as calm as that sentence looks.

But…”alarmed“?

Truly?

I loved her response! Her choice of words! Clearly an individual of elevated vocabulary and breeding! But then she quickly followed that with, “But I can hear you all behind me.” To which I added, “Wouldn’t that be even spookier? You lead us around…hear us behind you…yet when you turn—we’re not there!” The three of us laughed.

We wove along the dark blacktop and night throughout the cemetery—and here’s the really cool part:  waiting for us…in the dark!…were all of the individual skits and their actors! The mini-stages and settings were all set up with their actors already there and waiting for us. Like ghosts waiting for humans to pass by so they can scare us! When we’d arrive, the “dead actors” would “come alive” and launch into their mini-plays without introduction. It was the coolest thing! It also seemed that all of their ghostly apparel apparently glowed in the dark just a slight bit from the glow of their lanterns!

Performing these roles, it was obviously paramount that the actors were not afraid of hanging out in the dark all by themselves, for they were usually alone. But how cool was all of this?!

The first stop was an amusing vignette, called “The Wedding.” As the nuptials proceeded, out from the darkness on our left exploded (and I do mean, she sprinted!) another character, wailing and shrieking at protest to this union! In no short order, “the wedding”…died. It was quite effective and ghostly!

Loved it!

"The Black Cat" (Image © Laura Dorchak, 2021)

“The Black Cat” (Image © Laura Dorchak, 2021)

Our next stop was “The Black Cat.” Our actor, here, sat in a chair against a tree, head down, as if in deathly repose. Upon our arrival, the character slowly raised his head and launched into Poe’s telling of the signature feline. Throughout this performance, we again heard sporadic and hysterical laughter off in the darkness. If I’d read the story, it was long ago and I’d long forgotten the grisliness of part of the tale, but our character was so compelling to watch and listen to, the storytelling absolutely riveting! And whence our ghost got his guilt off his chest…he and his cane returned to his repose in the chair back against the tree, head down. I should mention that folding chairs were arranged for the entire group to sit, if they so desired. Very nice!

"High Tea." (Image © Laura Dorchak, 2021)

“High Tea.” (Image © Laura Dorchak, 2021)

Onward we were unerringly led, through the winding asphalt of the light-less cemetery. For our next stop we “happened upon” a loquacious trio of female ghosts enjoying high tea “out in the middle of nowhere” darkness!

What a cool concept!

These chatty, charming, and adorable Femmes mortes were all beside themselves gossiping their self-deprecating humor at their own demises, while simultaneously trashing and taunting the more lively souls (their friends and acquaintances) still shuffling forthwith within their mortal coils. When their performances were complete, they simply continued chatting and laughing, while we moved on (or, as in our case, didn’t; my wife was taking pictures of them and our aforementioned niece, and I have to hand it to the actors—not one of them broke character, but continued chatting on and on amongst themselves!). It was like were weren’t even “there”! How wonderfully arranged and performed! How positively amusing they were!

"The Tell-Tale Heart" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“The Tell-Tale Heart” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

Nextly, we came upon “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Again, chairs were arranged for the group to take a load off and enjoy. It was here that I looked to what images I had taken with my smartphone, and noticed that while they weren’t great, they did look entirely ghostly! Wow, how neat, I thought, they actually all look as if I’d taken pictures of actual ghosts! They were totally usable, so I decided not to mess with them one bit!

Also while our character went on in her performance, the gently balmy gusts began to quite pick up! It was…funny?…but the winds seemed to pick up right at the parts where the character’s performance before us began to grow increasingly agitated with the beating of the heart that only she could hear! It was perfect, tell you (and it’s just like as I write all this up, now, with my home office windows opened, there are ghostly gusts of wind howling through my open windows…)!

"Ghostly Painting" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“Ghostly Painting” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

As we continued on to our next ghostly visitation, there was a ghostly apparition performing a bit of roadside painting. Again, “out in the middle of nowhere.”

I mean, these roadside vignettes, for being so “small” in scale, offered so much in terms of breadth and depth and nuance to the entire Edgar Allan Poe experience! Bravo, Beyond The Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe people!

Our next performance was just up ahead,

"The Masque of the Red Death" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“The Masque of the Red Death” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

and was called, “The Masque of the Red Death.” In my unabridged Poe book, “masque” is spelled “mask.” Anyway, how apropos to have this skit performed, I’m sure we all thought! For this performance, our ghostly apparition stood upon a rise just above us a bit and gave us her delivery. Partway through it, she then slowly made her way down from her elevation and stood immediately within our group’s chaired-crescent. It was a cozy move. As she performed, she then casually returned to her previous perch above us to complete the performance. It was such a nice touch to have had her come down and “mingle” with us—almost like a metaphor for the Red Death (COVID?) “mingling” amongst us!

"The Cask of Amontillado" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“The Cask of Amontillado” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

We then headed for the creepy building just off to our right. Herein were we ushered, and encountered a rendition of “The Cask of Amontillado.” This soliloquy was delivered by a character of questionable, if tainted, sanity, and its setting was entirely appropriate to the storytelling itself. Given her questionable capacity, our Poe-created character reveled in her nefarious maneuverings to do-in a snooty wine ferret who apparently looked down on everyone.

Justified, indeed, in October Country!

As in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” we also had an external influence play out during the skit’s delivery. Not only were there scripted sound effects presented off-stage at certain times (jingling bells), but my wife, me, and some others sat right up against these two large, barn-like doors that were…chained and locked (chains and locks played in the story)…yet bulging open and outward right into our chairs. In fact, we sat right up against them. At one point during the rendition, someone—or something—bumped the doors as if forcing them open!

Well, poo, I later found out that it was my wife who accidentally bumped the doors! It was pretty funny, because one of the women who sat in front us turned to me in wide-eyed faux terror and surprise. In any event, the entire setting and story was most engaging!

Following completion of this story, we were “ushered” (pardon the unintended pun) upstairs into the depths of this building to our final destination (yeah, this was an intended pun): “The Raven.”

Repast of "The Raven" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

Repast of “The Raven” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

What we met here was a cute little Poe-like repast of finger food and spiced cider, completed with Raven-imprinted napkins and some flyers about the production and Evergreen Cemetery. On our way in, to our left, was a print of the man of the hour: Edgar Allan Poe. It was quite a nice final touch to our evening. We had some flavored pop corn and a variety of finger food to choose from! How positively thoughtful!

Our character took the stage, which was also elevated above us, but had a cozy feeling of a period study, complete with skull and old tomes. I’ve read and heard versions of “The Raven” many times, but perhaps because this one was in person did it effect me much greatlier! Wow, our actor, here, gave such a fine, fine, nuanced performance, indeed! For me he really emboldened it with his emotional angst and turmoil and frustration at constantly hearing the same danged word, over and over (and over) again, in reply from that danged avian. He really gave it new depth for me, and I simply loved his portrayal of the forlorn lover.

"The Raven" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“The Raven” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

And with that, came to end our most enjoyable evening with Beyond The Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe! It truly was a magnificent treat of the macabre in an appropriate setting (with, of course, all due respect given to those interned there). All the actors and those of our group were most respectful of where we were and of who we walked among atop the darkened asphalt roads. The homage à la Poe was faithfully rendered and respectfully performed. All performances were top-rate. And while I don’t know where these three vignettes came from, they were faithful to the Edgar Allan Poe weltanschauung. Added, incredibly, more depth to the presentations and atmosphere.

Here is a little background on the main actors who performed the main characters:

"Beyond the Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe" Program (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“Beyond the Grave: Cemetery Wanderings with Edgar Allan Poe” Program (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

As I’ve said, we truly hope this becomes an annual Hallowe’en event and is not left behind…to be…nevermore….

"The Raven" (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

“The Raven” (Image © F. P. Dorchak, 2021)

Posted in Fun, Short Story, Spooky, To Be Human, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Glorious Day!

Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. (Image © F. P. Dorchak September 19, 2021)

Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. (Image © F. P. Dorchak September 19, 2021)

Today started out a wee bit slow. I’d gotten up pretty early (it was still dark outside), but had still slept in some two hours past my normal “up” time. I had done my normal morning routine, but after that just didn’t feel like doing much. Yesterday I’d done some more work on the fence, a summer project of mine, and it was finally complete! It was my Big Project for the summer. I’d replaced most of the pickets (the rails and posts were still fine), except for one section where I needed to take out three decayed posts and set a new one in place of the two rotten ones, then also replace the decayed rails and pickets. Anyway, yesterday I’d just replaced some bad pickets on the last side of the fence, and that had taken a bit longer than I’d planned, and it had taken a little out of me (again, the heat doesn’t help)! And I have some old injuries (not from my three surgeries) that sometimes can cause “parts of me” to get real sore—nothing ibuprofen can’t handle—but I just don’t know how I’m gonna be until some time after I do the work. Well, I wasn’t as bad as it can get, but it was enough to slow may ass down this morning. Anyway, I was slow to getting to things, but eventually got in my violin practice (every day!), which was good, as my wife was out and about running errands. No writing—except for this post.

But I just felt I had to get out and move.

Had to get out in that beautiful day!

So, out I went!

I just did a short-but-brisk walk to get some kind of cardio going, and as I’d turned around to head home, man, did the beauty of the day absolute floor me!

I don’t know if it was the lighting or just a state of mind, but everywhere I looked, everything burst into its own individual brilliance! It was in the upper eighties, bright, clear, with a light breeze.

Everything, even the molecules in the air, were alive and vibrant!

The warmth on my skin was invigorating!

The blue sky and its clouds were brilliant!

The grasses were tall and wavy and full of themselves, waving to me as I went past!

The flowers more radiant than I’d ever seen them!

The rocks and terrain around me, and—holy cow—Pikes Peak, were utterly stupefying!

I soaked it all in and and forced myself to stop and take in the above image. Normally on these walks I just like to hoof it and be in the moment, but this time…I stopped.

Some moments are just this intense, and this was one of them. The picture does not do it justice, so, yeah, it was a Zen thing. A mental thing. But I loved it and it made feel really, really good that I had finally got outside today. I had greeted the day…it had greeted me back.

And it had been utterly glorious!

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Sleepwalkers — 20 Years!

Sleepwalkers: A Road Trip for the Soul (© 2001 F. P. Dorchak)

Sleepwalkers: A Road Trip for the Soul (© 2001 F. P. Dorchak)

It has been 20 years since I published my first novel, Sleepwalkers! 

Where does the time go?

I remember after having written it and tried getting traditional publishing houses to take it on—and failed—how my wife and I sat on a beach bench on Gulf Coast Florida and talked about me self-publishing this story. It was stupidly expensive at the time (2001), to the tune of $3,000, if memory serves me correctly.

I talked with several of my writer friends before doing it to get their takes on self publishing, though I was as versed in it as they were and just hoped they’d have some magic answer one way or the other. None did. All those who had traditional contracts eschewed doing it for various reasons, but the main concern was diluting the publishing field’s quality. For the most part they tried to be nice. But, publish it, I did, because I believed in my work. Turns out most people didn’t feel the same, because sales have been dismal, yet my reviews are just this side of “great.” Granted, I was working a better-than-full-time job for most of those 20 years, but that’s the way it goes.

However, now…everyone self publishes. Everyone’s a writer and everyone’s published.

I’ve been quite happy with the book! Granted, it’s not haute literature, but I tried my best for my given talents at the time and you can’t please everyone (one reviewer called it “lousy” writing, as well as other similar such declarations). The other reviews were somewhat better from most readers who’ve reviewed it on Amazon (NOTE: though Amazon has changed their algorithm so that starred-standings now take into account things like how old the reviews are, whether their purchases were on Amazon, and their…veracity [WTH?!]…I’m tired of railing against all the stupidity in the world, now, and won’t go any further into all, and will just have to let it all stand as is—and speak—for itself; you can read the reviews and make up your own minds). One reader even privately contacted me years ago and told me how it actually helped her get out of a very dark place in her life. Can you imagine how that makes someone—let alone a writer—feel?

I was floored. I’d helped someone move on to a much better life! Of course, I thanked her so much for telling me this, and that I was so happy to have even been able to help her out of such a nasty rut. You just never know how what you say or do will impact others. Her life made it all worth while. Without Sleepwalkers where would she have been then…and now?

For clarity’s sake, the official dates I have for both the e-book and the trade paperback are the following:

  • eBook went live September 14, 2001
  • Trade paperback book went live September 28, 2001

Everywhere I went online to find when the book was actually released have weird dates, none of which I recalled or had documented. The above two “live” dates I have in my own hard copy record book. I could have sworn I’d released the trade book September 1st, but, alas, cannot find that date anywhere.

I’m not one to stand on ceremony—never was one big on pomp and circumstance—but felt this 20th anniversary deserved some recognition.

Happy 20th anniversary, Sleepwalkers!

© Psychic (F. P. Dorchak and Duvall Design, coming mid-2014)

Psychic (© 2014, F. P. Dorchak [cover art: Duvall Design])

Sleepwalkers is the first in a loosely based “series,” though I’m not officially calling it a series. The “second” book is Psychic, and the third one I haven’t yet begun. The reason I’m hedging with the whole “series” thing is because Psychic “merely” contains one character from Sleepwalkers, though it isn’t as obvious or as “smooth” as a series typically is, and wasn’t developed as such. The next book will continue that trend. Additionally, my short story “Tail Gunner” also employs that same singular character.

In the end, this book has many incorporated personal experiences in it, including dreams, and it meant a lot to me, and it had been fun to write! I wish my work could be everything to everybody, but you simply cannot please everyone. I hope future readers find something enjoyable in it and can pass it on to others. But it was my first, and, curiously, the company’s initial name when I published it was “First Books.”

And onward I continue! I hope to have more books in me from this point on! I have one making the traditional publishing rounds with my agent, one I’m still writing up (am up to about 85k words), and at least one, maybe two more books hovering about in the wings….

Other Sleepwalkers Links

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Wilkerson Pass, Colorado – August 12, 2021

Wilkerson Pass is named after 1800’s Ohio-born John Wilkerson, who was a Civil War veteran, preacher, and railroad contributor who lived in the area after the Civil War. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Wilkerson Pass became a much used mining operations route. It lies between (and at 9,507 feet) Lake George and Hartsel, Colorado.

My wife and I have gotten back into doing some road trips, which we both really enjoy. Sometimes the drives are an hour or three, and sometimes the entire day. On this drive we just went up to Wilkerson Pass, which is about an hour’s drive from town. On this day we were still getting tons of smoke from the fires west of us, which you will see in some of the images, below.

During the summer months, there’s a significant/significant other team who staff the Visitor Center. They camp in the private campground specifically for them off to the side of the rest area (there is no other camping at the Rest Area). They are approachable and informative, and at least with the guy, very talkative.

While inside the Center (masks requested) at the window are two hummingbird feeders. I love hummingbirds! I tried to take some shots inside the Center, but they largely came out dark…but a few kinda looked cool to me, so I’ve used them anyway. And there is one shot, with the hummingbird in mid-flight in the center of the image. I think it’s a nifty shot, even though I had to spot-remove part of another hummingbird off to the right of it.

There is also a hummingbird (I assume) bird house in front of the Center I also captured a couple of shots thereof/to/whatnot.

There are two trails that wind around the Rest Area, one goes down along the slope into South Park, and the other goes up the hill behind the Rest Area, where picnic tables and some really cool stone work reside. I took some images of the stone steps. They’re cool, maaan.

As we took the trail up into the rocks, there were also quite a few gorgeous flowers. I took some images, but I had 300 mm lens in so not many of those were usable.

Up behind the rocky hillside, as we looked out over the valley below, we suddenly had visitor! A little chippy made an appearance, and of course, I had to capture some shots, the little poser!

Thanks for stopping by!

All images are © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021, but may be re-used with proper attribution.

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021) Wilkerson Pass, Colorado (Images © F. P. Dorchak August 12, 2021)
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Confess!

I must confess something.

A few years ago when a virtual friend of mine, Marc Schuster, essentially stopped writing books and went whole-note—I mean whole hog—into creating music, I was baffled. Beyond the state of publishing today, I just couldn’t really fathom giving up writing words. I couldn’t ever see myself doing such a thing and couldn’t understand how someone so gifted as Marc could do such a thing. Philistine! I cried (or maybe I didn’t). Sure, he’s also writing song lyrics, but…well, I mean…what exactly did you do, Marc?

For realsies?

I just couldn’t fathom such a decision. I love writing too much! Besides, I wasn’t a musician.

Fast forward a few years: 2020. I began taking violin lessons.

Fast forward an additional year: 2021. My writing has increasingly taken the backseat to so many other things and endeavors and—

Fast for–I mean, my writing has increasingly taken the backseat to so many other things and endeavors, including the violin.

Fast forward jeeest a touch more: now. I seem to be practicing the violin far more than I’m writing—and I now understand how Marc could do such a thing!

WTH?!

Yeah. I don’t know…music just does something to you, maaan. I mean, I’ve always been big into listening to music—all kinds of it—but now that I’m actually learning to play music…actually learning a musical instrument?

Well, it’s hard to quantify. There are all sorts of online sites telling us what music does to a body (and mind), and I’m telling you that whatever it does…I love creating it and listening to it and making such notes emanate from the violin. I’m no adult prodigy, that I’m pretty sure of!, or I’d exhibit some magical talent by now, but, dammit, I love looking at it, holding it, and playing it—the violin. It’s a metaphysical instrument to me.

So…while I’m definitely not giving up writing, I’m definitely getting so immersed into the violin and its world…it’s just…amazing. Mesmerizing. The instrument and its music utterly captivates me. I really hope I can become halfway decent with it and can transfer that captivation and mesmerisation to others through its music. I could listen to its music all day.

With all this being said, one might well ask, Frank, you’re an elderly-if-spry dude, what are your goals in learning this instrument, especially so late in life?

You might well ask, indeed.

It’s still to play my paternal grandfather’s violin—that is what got me started in all this to begin with—but I also want to be able to play for myself and family. If I get real good at it, yeah, I’d definitely consider going public in some form or fashion or whatever the term is, but that’s gotta be some five or more years into the future. 10,000 hours or something, “they” say to become “good” at it….

So, all that said and done, I now know what Marc knew when he said he “quit writing” and leapt into music. And why he’s apparently good with it (he’s also good at it). It’s bugged me all this time (sorry, Marc, it’s been in the back of my mind all this time)…but now I…yeah, I get it.

Anyway, there’s my confession.

Violins! (© June 5, 2021, F. P. Dorchak)

Violins! (© June 5, 2021, F. P. Dorchak)

Marc Schuster’s Music

I love the guy’s work, by the way, and here’s some of it (and thanks for allowing me to poke some fun at you, Marc!*):

Android Invasion (the spacey stuff): https://androidinvasion.bandcamp.com/

Plush Gordon: https://plushgordon.bandcamp.com/music

Marc Schuster as Zapatero: https://zapatero.bandcamp.com/

Marc Schuster (Bandcamp): https://marcschuster.bandcamp.com/

Marc Schuster (Spotify): https://open.spotify.com/artist/6yHvSo7nxlU27sOBX4XyWA?si=qar4edC5QZOxC-veoguulg&dl_branch=1

*No Marcs were harmed in the production of this post, and only professional stunt Marcs were employed for the more trickier aspects of this post. All “Marc” references were used with permission from the actual Marc Schuster. He’s such a sport.

Other Violin Posts

Posted in Music, To Be Human, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Music is Hard!

The Instrument. (Image © 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

The Instrument. (Image © 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

So hard.

Okay, maybe it’s just the violin.

Man, I got back from my violin lesson yesterday and some things I did well…and others, not so…well. Curiously I got the most complicated aspects of one of my lesson pieces better than one tune I’ve been working on since June. Apparently, I’ve been doing the June piece wrong all this time.

Wonderful.

That is so frustrating. And I mean that.

You think with your adult reasoning mind you can “figure things out”…and you’d be wrong. Unless you have musical training or find you have magical musical abilities you’ve never traded upon in your entire adult life. And I have neither. I’m honestly not trying to circumvent any of my training, though I think my instructor might have her doubts, I just figured that I was using the Evil Metronome, doing my best at timing the rhythm, and it all sounded like I was on the right track. What I’d forgotten about was doing the hand clapping of the rhythm and the other methods she’d shown me on another piece I had serious rhythm issues with. It’s not that I only did those methods on that certain piece—I’d done them on all of them in the beginning, but I figured I’d gotten better at internalizing it and started not physically doing it all the time on every piece, but doing it in my head. It really extends out my training sessions almost double. Which is exhausting…and learning hard things is exhausting.

I no longer tell myself, “Gee, I got this pretty darned good!” because my instructor usually schools me otherwise. But I have to admit that on the above tune I didn’t do well in yesterday, I thought it sounded pretty…decent.

Nope.

And she’s not mean or any kind of “Taskmistress-y.” She’s calm and supportive and patient. And I mean patient.

Have I mentioned she’s patient?

But I feel embarrassed at warping her methods in my well-meaning ways and not getting any of the results.

The upside of all this was that on that difficult piece I’d mentioned, I wasn’t sure how I’d done, and she said I did really well—more so than the easier portions of the same tune (Bach’s Minuet 2)! In fact, she was so impressed at how well I’d one that she asked me (several times!) what I’d done differently in working on that section.

At first I thought it a trick question and she was gonna rub my nose in it (no—she really does not do that, either), but she genuinely wanted to know what I’d done differently, and I told her nothing that I knew…except that I maybe devoted slightly more time to it? You know, because it was so tricky? Or perhaps that I’d just told myself to stop thinking of it as “difficult” and just dive into all the fancy finger work?

I just don’t recall doing anything differently.

Thing is, with all that I’m supposed to do with my lessons, now, it takes a lot more time doing the four-or-five-step process of learning and performing rhythm, which I seem so challenged in. Hard. Like so hard. Like the rest of the world, she says. I practice 1-2 hours a day, sometimes three if I can sneak in an extra afternoon session, pretty much seven days a week, and it’s hard to do all that stuff every time with every piece. And as much as I love doing it all, sometimes, like now, I just feel mentally spent—I’ve tried my best and this is all I have to show for it?!

You know the feeling: it’s exactly like beating your head against a brick wall. Except I’m the one not performing the proper rhythm.

But I will forge onward!

If I want to get better at this infuriating-if-beautiful instrument I have to put in the time and effort (and exactly why had I picked the hardest danged instrument to learn…one that literally takes years and years to be any kind go “good” at it, having started at 59 years of age? Started, mind you.). There is no easy way out. None. I’ve just inadvertently proved that to myself. I wasn’t trying…it just proved itself out along the way, because I was trying to better my own practice methods. Thought I’d internalized some of these techniques already—

But, no–no, I hadn’t. And it was foolish of me to even consider that I had.

Bad dog.

Listen to your instructor. Even if you think you know yourself, here, in music you don’t. I don’t. Your instructor knows you better than you know yourself when it comes to learning the violin. And when I hear other adults telling people that they’ve taught themselves the violin without an instructor, I simply have to [largely] not believe them. Unless they possess some of the above superhuman abilities. I’ve mentioned this before…I’ve “flown” some complicated satellites in my day, and this…I find this ever-so-much harder than any of that. Even if you understand the math behind the music (which I do), you have to train your body to perform the math. Perform the music. And translating music to arm-and-finger movements isn’t (at least to me, anyway) easy. Perhaps I’m just challenged in that way.

There’s no easy way out!

I have to do what I’m told. Exactly. When I do…things progress well. When I don’t, things do not progress well…and I feel I’ve wasted both my and my instructor’s time. It wasn’t intentional…some weeks are just—oh, never mind…just do as your told, dammit!

So, back to the hand clapping and note voicing and open-string playing and Muse-affecting sacrifice submissions I’m not at liberty to divulge…all before I strike even one note on a string. But more importantly?

Hand clapping of the rhythm.

So.

I will. Because I want to get as good as I possibly can get with the rest of the time I have left here, on Earth…and I want to learn all the my instructor has to teach me. I want to be good at playing the violin before I pass on from these mortal coils!

But for right now, I think I’m going to return to that cold, dark, dank, and humid little corner of our crawlspace and finish crying out my pain…out of rhythm, of course—

I’ll clap it out later.

Other Violin Posts

Posted in Music, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Bullworker Workout

Disclaimer

I am NOT a medical nor fitness professional, so always consult your medical, physical therapists, or fitness professionals for advice and direction before undertaking any new fitness regime. All such undertakings are at your own risk.

***

I’ve crammed a lot into this post, so please read through all of it and read the given links. The better an understanding you have of what it is you’re doing, the more you’ll get out of any fitness routine.

Introduction

Follow the Bullworker manual and website for all Bullworker-specific exercises.

Follow proper Bullworker form.

And if you can get through all this (or hunt it out), I have a 10% discount code for Bullworker equipment near the bottom of this post! I am NOT paid for publishing this post by Bullworker and was NOT asked by Bullworker to post this article, but I do get a percentage from anyone using my discount code. This post is all on my own and about my excitement over an incredible piece of fitness equipment!

What follows below is my own, newly developed workout regime. I only show those Bullworker exercises I’m doing, but there are many more in the manuals , as well as whatever your own creativity can come up with!

My in-gym workouts depend on what equipment is available for use at the time, but it is the standard fare available in gym machine format. I am refraining from free weight use. I no longer need to perform them and doing so might get me in trouble once again, as in I might inadvertently go heavier than I need to. I’m also trying to cut down my in-gym time, and using machines are just quicker. Though I am currently doing three sets in the gym, I may cut that back to one or two, since I no longer need the intensity I once performed, given all that I’m presenting here, and the desire for brevity. I also no longer need heavy gym workouts because I’m getting the strength training through the Bullworker. I no longer need “size training” at the gym (hence scaling back on the number of sets as well as their intensity). At sixty, I no longer need to get bigger (though that has always been an issue for me anyway, with my extremely fast metabolism), which brings a host of other issues back into the mix, such as needing to eat more calories to fuel those workouts (aaarggghhh, I’m so done eating massive amounts of food, though others may not think I am!), and working out harder to get bigger, and possibly injuring myself again. I’m in a damned good place right now.

And this is important: heavy training will also most likely lead to physical damage in later years, not so much muscle related (but it could be, as in my previous surgeries and my left biceps severe tendinosis), but joint related, as I’ve seen with other people who’ve continued to do heavy weightlifting well into their later years. Even if you start late in life, you could still very well damage tendons, ligaments, and cartilage that is no longer twenty, thirty, or even forty years old. I don’t know one person who’s doing heavy lifting into their 60s, 70s, and 80s and beyond who have not had surgeries and/or other issues. And I’ve clearly had my own problems, even while doing “everything right” (see “Surgery Post Links” at the end of this post).

That is why for my new routine I’ve decided to incorporate both in-gym and at-home Bullworker programs (though you could very well bring the Bullworker into the gym and actually do the isometrics before doing the machine reps!), as well as performing a full body routine with both programs. A few of those reasons are:

  • My schedule. I frequently miss a workout day due to something coming up.
    • Missing one or more workout sessions won’t really impact your progress, because according to isometrics training, you only need one isometrics session/week to maintain your strength.
  • We burn more calories when incorporating the gym.
    • I found it extremely difficult to determine how many calories are burned during isometric training, because of the inherent variables associated with isometrics. The most specific guidance I found was about 4-5 calories a minute for a 174-pound person (I’m in the 197 -203 pounds range). When I worked out at the gym and did cardio there, I burned about 1,000 calories during a weightlifting and cardio 1.5 – 2 hour session (cardio usually burns 350 – 500+ calories for me, depending if I use the Elliptical or Stair Stepper machines). With the Bullworker, I’m just not sure. I may burn about 300-350 calories just doing the Bullworker in an hour, given what little I found online, but cannot find any definitive caloric measurements. Bullworker has said they were looking into this.
  • Gym isotonic movements—I want to keep these isotonic movements! While doing so, I’m not doing them to exhaustion while incorporating the Bullworker routine–that would be overdoing it (I did it once, and it did wear me out so much that I had to skip the next workout. It was a deep muscular soreness, unlike what I’ve usually felt with weights only).
  • I like having off days, even if it’s just one more! I’m just too busy to do the four-days-a-week Bullworker program and my at-home maintenance physical therapy sessions before that, which take about 30 minutes. That turns into a two-hour session, four times a week, and I just don’t want to afford that kind of time.

    • NOTE: the standard Bullworker routine is a four-day-a-week run, so you’ll note with my program you are not missing out on anything with two Bullworker days and one in-gym day, doing a full body workout. This is another reason not to go heavy and hard on your in-gym day: you’re already hitting it full-on with Bullworker and are merely adding another workout session for the full range of movement in the gym that you don’t necessarily get from Bullworker, just because of equipment mechanics (e.g., doing some exercises, like legs, are problematic with Bullworker; see #15, below, “Quad/Hip Flexors,” the range of movement is far less that you need to get for full isotonic range, though, admittedly, I don’t know if that really matters, but I’d like to have that range).
  • Socialization! Going to the gym gets me out and about…especially among people of a similar fitness mentality. Now that I’m retired, I’m not out and about as much as I used to be, and it’s important to be out among people for many reasons. Too much of being inside your own head, your own thoughts, your own everything is never a good thing, I don’t care what anyone else might tell you. You forget others have opinions too and won’t always agree with you, and how to deal with “such people”….
  • Cross training! Check this link out for cross-training information.

Water: drink plenty throughout workouts and the day! If you’re thirsty you’re way past the point when you should have been drinking it! Clear urine indicates hydration.

Protein:

  • Take a good quality protein supplement after each workout. I use Body Fortress whey protein.
  • Ingest about one gram of protein to one pound of body weight, evenly spaced throughout the day. So, for a 195-pound person, eating six times a day, that’s 32.5 g per sitting. Try to get most of your protein through food, but it’s okay to supplement with protein powders.
  • If you’re targeting a lower goal weight, I’d approximately target that goal weight in the amount of protein to ingest, because you know you have excess weight to lose that is not muscle. Again, I’m not a fitness expert, but my reasoning is why waste extra protein on weight you’re going to jettison? I found a link that also says to target your goal weight, here.

Important Articles – Please Read Before Working Out!

Please read this article before doing any isometric training! It’s an incredibly dense article on all-things isometrics:

Here are some other interesting articles:

Workout Considerations

  1. Stretch before and after.
  2. BREATHE! Never hold your breath!
  3. Focus on the muscles being exercised: don’t be watching TV or talking to another. Focus is critical!
  4. Adjust each exercise to your body mechanics. Something that works for me may not work for you. Some Bullworker exercises don’t work the best for me (e.g., the two-footed quad push; I don’t feel the muscle employment as much as I do using just one leg).
  5. Vary Bullworker movement travel distances, especially if doing multiple sets. E.g., alternate inserting weaker springs to compress the Bullworker a longer distance than if you use a harder spring, which compresses less distance. Doing so employs different lengths of muscle contraction to be worked.
  6. Employ different exercises, especially if doing multiple sets, but also over days and weeks, to “shock” and employ a more complete muscle development.
  7. Shaking while using the Bullworker is okay, as long as you are not hurting. Be very careful when starting out! Err on the conservative side and see how your body reacts. Chrisman Hughes and this site say shaking means the neuro system is building more neurological connections.
  8. Try to keep going as continuous as possible without stopping to gain the best cardio/circuit training benefits; it’s okay to take time to swap out springs, just keep that time to a minimum. Keep moving!
  9. If you don’t want to return to a gym, but still want the gym-like isotonic reps in a different way, you could purchase a Bodylastics set. They’re are a little funky at times, using them, but they are the traditional isotonic movements.
    1. But let me just say that performing the Bullworker reps as-is is also perfectly fine! I’m just more of a purist, already have the membership, and have gone to gyms my whole life. I also like the CROSS-TRAINING effect of using the gym with Bullworker.
  10. Diet is critical! Find out what works for you. There are plenty of online resources, but ensure that they incorporate physical fitness. Not all diets properly consider the additional output of workout efforts when figuring one’s caloric intake (e.g.,last I’d checked Weight Watchers didn’t account for working out). Not all diets incorporate extra protein for those who workout.

Workout Mechanics

  1. I’m only doing the 60-80% of max output for Bullworker compression-and-cable spread 7-second isometric holds. For the Bullworker regime, I’m also doing the 5-12 isotonic reps afterward.
    1. Technically, one only needs to do the 7-second holds to gain isometric benefits. The Bullworker isotonic reps were added more recently for a more complete fitness routine.
    2. At the gym, my [isotonic] reps are not performed to exhaustion. Probably at a 60% of max effort. I’ll do whatever amount of reps I feel up to, but it’s usually 8-12, since I’m going light-to-medium.
    3. In using the gym, I’ll perform cardio. But you should try to get some form of cardio in on your Bullworker days, such as brisk walks, hikes, arm rowing machines–anything that keeps your motor running continually for anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes minimum. No rests while doing it.
  2. On my off days, I plan on doing brisk walk/hikes for about an hour. I no longer run or jump rope because of my hip replacement. But I can still hoof it! Just try to get some form of brisk,less intense, form of movement going; you can save the intense cardio for workout days–it’s important to vary all routines, including cardio routines.
  3. In my “Bullworker Workout” section I’m only presenting some of the actual exercises I’ll be doing. You can pick and chose what you actually use from the Bullworker exercise manual and website. I just picked a representative set, and when I do 2 or more sets, I mix them up with other exercises now and then, from one circuit exercise to the other (e.g., an exercise done in set 1 may be different than in set 2).
    1. On any additional sets, you can choose to do the entire routine again or just do the isometric holds and not the reps. I do this a lot.
    2. Doing the first Bullworker set with the isotonic reps, then doing the second set with only the isometrics, takes just under an hour to perform.
  4. I’m mainly sticking to a single exercise, except where those muscles are more intricate, such as back and shoulders. It just depends on the time I have.

Bullworker Videos

These will show you the actual exercises: https://www.bullworker.com/videos/

Bullworker Manuals

To view other exercise examples in the manuals, use this link. The only exercise not in any of the manuals is the forearm extensor and flexor exercises, which I captured.

Bullworker FAQs

FAQs: https://www.bullworker.com/faq/

Image-Use Permission

You are free to use the forearm images that I captured as long as proper attribution is given.

For the Bullworker images, you need to contact Bullworker for permission.

Proper Attribution

Feel free to use my program as your own and feel free to printout or screenshot or whatever else. You have my permission to use it, however:

!!! Please render proper attribution to Bullworker (contact Bullworker for permission) and myself if using this in any public manner, as in a Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, blog posts, or any other public media !!!

***I’m going to further state that anytime anyone uses an image from someone else, proper attribution NEEDS to be performed. ***

I see many, many online posts and articles that just grab images from wherever and use them without ever doing this. It’s not just expected courtesy, it’s a legal thing, people. You’ll understand once you’re fined, no questions asked until AFTER you pay up. Please, don’t be lazy about this, it’s unethical.

The Workout

My regime has me doing a full-body workout three times a week:

  • Day 1: Bullworker
  • Day 2: rest
  • Day 3: Gym
  • Day 4: rest
  • Day 5: Bullworker
  • Day 6: rest
  • Day 7: rest

 

Bullworker Workout

Except where noted, all images are copyrighted by Bullworker, 2018.

Some exercises use the smaller Steel Bow, but either bow can be used.

1) Stretch and warm up entire body. There are many warmup routines. Pick what’s best for you. Check out the Bullworker Iso-Bow or Iso-Flow is you want to try something different.

Until I’m warmed up, I do three easy reps of each Bullworker exercise before doing the 8-10-second hold.

2) Upper Chest:

Hold the Bullworker anywhere above the chest to where you feel the upper chest employed.

Upper Chest Compression and Overhead Shoulder Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Upper Chest Compression and Overhead Shoulder Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

3) Lower Chest:

Hold the Bullworker anywhere below the chest to where you feel the lower chest employed.

Lower Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Lower Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

4) Main Chest Compressions:

Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

5) Upper Back/Trapezius/Rhomboids/Posterior Deltoids:

Hold the Bullworker behind your neck and employ the upper back, rear delts, traps and rhomboids while compressing back and slightly up.

Rear Shoulder and Upper Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Rear Shoulder and Upper Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

6) Lats/Rear Delts/Erector Spinae:

Hold the Bullworker behind your lower back and employ the lats, rear delts, and spinae  while compressing back and slightly down.

Lats and Center Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Lats and Center Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

7) Seated Deadlift:

While seated as shown, gently angle back while keep PERFECT FORM and employing the lower back. As for all exercises, there are alternate forms of this exercise. Perform with care!

Seated Dead Lift (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Seated Dead Lift (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

8) Deltoids:

Feel deltoid only employment in both compression and cable spreads.

Deltoid Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Cable Spread (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Cable Spread (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

9) Triceps:

Focus on TRICEPS employment. This form can also be used for abs, and you will feel your triceps when doing it, but focus on the muscles you are targeting at the moment. So,here, focus on the triceps.

Tricep Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Cable Pushdowns (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Cable Pushdowns (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

10) Biceps:

This top exercise can be used for both biceps and triceps. Here, focus on the biceps. For the second biceps image, you may have subtly shift your grip to best angle the biceps muscle.

Bicep Cable Curls (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Cable Curls (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Compressions (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Compressions (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

11) Forearm Extensor Cables:

NOTE: the way your forearms get a burn (and I mean burn!) using the Bullworker, you’d think you wouldn’t need to specifically train them, but…I’ve noticed in going back to the gym and doing wrist curls, that they are not as strong as they were, though I can still use the same weight and reps. So, yes, I strongly advise incorporating Bullworker wrist work.

Focusing on top arm only: Keep length of forearm still. Only flex/lift at WRIST (as if revving a motorcycle throttle, but do the speed of movement as per isometrics/tonics).

Forearm Extensor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

Forearm Extensor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

12) Forearms Flexor Cables:

NOTE: the way your forearms get a burn (and I mean burn!) using the Bullworker, you’d think you wouldn’t need to specifically train them, but…I’ve noticed in going back to the gym and doing wrist curls, that they are not as strong as they were, though I can still use the same weight and reps. So, yes, I strongly advise incorporating Bullworker wrist work.

Focusing on top arm only: Keep length of forearm still. Only flex/lift at WRIST (flex the forearm).

Forearm Flexor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

Forearm Flexor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

13) Abs, Side:

Do both sides of the abs! Focus on the abs, not the arms, though your tired arms will feel it!

Side Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Side Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

14) Abs Front:

As explained in the triceps version of this above, focus on the abs, not the triceps here, though your tired arms will feel it!

Front Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Front Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Abs Plank Crunch (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Abs Plank Crunch (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

15) Quads/Hip Flexors:

Focus on the QUADS instead of the hip flexors!

If you want to work the hip flexors, then focus on the movement from the HIP FLEXORS.

Quad Cable Spreads (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Quad Cable Spreads (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

16) Hams:

Focus on using the HAMSTRINGS! You may have to subtly shift your hammies!

Quad One-Legged Press (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Quad One-Legged Press (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

17) Abductors:

There is an alternative to this done sitting in a chair, but this version is easier and more comfortable to do.

Hip Abduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Hip Abduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

18) Adductors:

I recommend having your hands placed as they are in the image below. And BE MINDFUL OF YOUR KNEES, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE BAD KNEES!

Hip Adduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Hip Adduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

19) Calves

Calf Extension (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Calf Extension (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

20) Stretch and cool down entire body.

In Conclusion

There you have it!

Again, please note I am not a fitness professional so always consult your fitness or medical professionals prior to attempting any new fitness regime. It does not take very long to see results from using the Bullworker. It’s amazingly quick and easy to use and will blow your mind! It’s quite sad that the fitness community ignored and dismissed isometrics all these years. And don’t take all I’ve told you at face value–research it yourself. And please post your successes in the comments, once you’ve tried the Bullworker!

If I did it over, I’d purchase the Power Pack, instead of buying my equipment one at a time. But if you can’t afford that (including using my discount code of dorchak10), then use this Find Your Bullworker link to find what best suits you.

And one more thing…either later this month or next month I’ll be posting an interview with Chrisman Hughes, President of Bullworker. He’s been so danged, incredibly helpful in many ways…from answering my many questions to allowing me use of their Bullworker images. I can’t thank him enough–thank you, Chrisman!

If any medical or fitness professionals notice that I’m off on something, please feel free to let me know, and I’ll correct it.

I wish you all the very best in discovering this incredible piece of fitness equipment and experiencing your own journey to better health and fitness!

Fitness Posts

Bullworker Affiliate

The Bullworker Iso-Bow

New Bullworker Workout Update – 4 Weeks

Strong Like Bull — The Bullworker

Gym Closed? Used Bodylastics!

Total Hip Replacement (THR) Surgery Post Links

Knee and THR Surgeries—An Update

Total Hip Replacement – Four Months

Total hip replacement surgery, October 23, 2019

What A Spazz, November 24, 2019

Total Hip Replacement Update 8 1/2 Weeks, December 21, 2019

Shoulder Surgery Posts Links

Shoulder Surgery, August 29, 2018

Post Shoulder Surgery, 2018

Knee Surgery Post Links

Knee Surgery – Meniscus Flap Tear

Posted in Health, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A 2021 Coors Field Birthday Celebration!

One of my relatives had a birthday this month and we celebrated it by going to a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field, in Denver! We’re all fans of the Rockies and love making this annual gathering.

View From The North End of Coors Field. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
Coors Field Water Fountains and “Rock Pile.” (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
The Big Board. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

It was a great day for a game, but, man, was it muggy! You don’t usually hear that associated with Colorado, but who cared! There’s nothing like seeing a game in person, and we were above and behind Home Plate and had a fantastic view!

Cardinals v. Rockies. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

We’d arrived in time to see some batting practice, and from a distance had spotted one of our best ex-players who now plays for the opposing team: Nolan Arenado. What a loss he is for the Rockies, but no team is about a single player, however great that player, but all the fans came to their feet on his first appearance at the plate (as they have with each game’s start the past few days), and Nolan, ever the professional, humble, sport’s man that he is, gave us all a respectful nod and a tip of his helmet. He has and will go far. It was great to see him play again. Just in the wrong uniform….

The lot of us had a great time, as always, then we’d gone down to the field to see the fireworks following the game. Depending on where you’re seated, you’re allowed down onto the field, in the out field, otherwise you can watch the fireworks from your seats. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never seen a better fireworks display anywhere, and that remained true last night! Especially during the finale! Man, you can feel the reverberations in your bones, and the view above is exhilarating! You find yourself holding your breath as the night sky is packed with color and motion and smoke and magic!

Wonderment!

You wonder how much more you can take as your senses are overpowered by the scope and grandeur of the display! After some demonstrations I’ve had paper debris rain down upon us, but I didn’t feel any last night.

Wow. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
WOW! (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
HOLY COW!!! (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

The Rockies know how to put on a fireworks demonstration!

Happy Fourth of July!

Other Rockies/Coors Field Posts

Posted in Fun, Leisure, Memories, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Violin That Dad Built

A Stewart-MacDonald Fiddle Kit Violin, Handcrafted by Frank P. Dorchak, Jr., 2021 (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

June 5 of this year (2021, for you folks in the future…) I flew back to help out my dad and stepmom with some heavy lifting. I brought my violin with me (and did, indeed, practice nearly every day). The day after my arrival, my dad asked me to play my recital song. So, I did. Then he asks my stepmom to go get a “recording device” out from his workshop. What she returned with was not a digital recorder.

It was a violin Dad had built in his workshop!

Yours Truly When Handed A Violin My Dad, Frank P. Dorchak, Jr., Made! (© Wanda Dorchak, June 2021)

He’d built this violin from a StewMac.com “Fiddle Kit.”

The StewMac Violin Taking Shape. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Stewart MacDonald is a supplier of parts and tools to the music industry. It also sells some instrument kits, and the violin is among them. I asked the company if it was a replica of a Stradivarius violin, and they said it was not intended to be, however Juan Mijares, of Juan Mijares Violins, says it does look like a classic Strad replica.

My nearly 85-year-old dad, who is (in my opinion) a master craftsman with wood, has been working on this for months, it turns out, and he chuckled about how I was supposed to get it first for my birthday…then Christmas…then…well, you get the idea. He said that you’d think using a kit would be easy, but it was far from that. He said you really had to have a strong woodworking background to be able to build this thing. He had trouble with a few areas, like working parts of the bridge and inserting the sound post. He also said inserting the purfling was a bear…or, you know, words to that effect….

Of what you got in the kit, the following had already been prepped:

  • The spruce top and maple back had already been carved, sanded, and glued to the linings, blocks, and “curly maple ribs” (I believe they’re referring to the violin’s “Center, or ‘C’ bouts” on each side).
  • The channels had already been routed for installation of the purfling.
  • The machine-shaped neck was ready for sanding and fitting onto the instrument.

You also received the following, which had to be added to the above:

  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Nut
  • Saddle
  • Boxwood tailpiece with adjustable fastener
  • E-string adjuster (fine tuner)
  • Boxwood chin rest
  • End pin
  • Tuning pegs
  • Maple bridge
  • Purflings
  • Spruce bass bar
  • Sound post
  • Instructions

As to the 20-page instruction manual, well, my dad and others say wasn’t as detailed as it should be. While the description of what to do is listed in order, it appeared from what my dad had said that you had to have quite an experienced background in woodworking to properly perform these instructions, and as I perused the manual’s pages, I wondered if with my extremely limited woodworking abilities would I be able to do this. I’d had to at least purchased a lot of equipment I don’t already own, all of which is listed within the manual, but doing something and doing that something well are three different things, and to see what my dad had done in creating this violin was amazing…and moving. He always surprises me–to this day–in what he can do when it comes to fine or intricate woodworking. As in so many other areas, he never sits still and constantly pushes his own limits…and learns and experiences new things….

The StewMac Fiddle Kit Instructions. (My Image of it © F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

But, as I mentioned, he had issues with a few things, and I offered my help. Since Dad couldn’t quite position the sound post, I gave it a go, and, interestingly, was able to to it. Multiple times, even. There are three tools specifically designed to get the job done, I guess they’re all called “sound-post setters,” and I felt like a surgeon as I worked that dowel into place with all three instruments through the f-hole. Interestingly, the sound post is not fastened to the violin, but is, instead, kept in place by the pressure of the instrument’s structure. It’s a snug fit so that when the end piece and strings are installed and tuned (here meaning tightened), the violin is therefore held together from end pin to scroll. It is this strings-bridge-end pin tension that keeps the sound post in this wonderful instrument in place, and one of the reasons that violinists (and other similar musicians and their instruments, e.g., violas, cellos, I assume) handle and treat their instruments with such reverence and heightened care!

Yours Truly Working to Get the Sound Post Inside The StewMac Violin. I know…You Don’t See Me…But I’m There…. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

If you look closely at the image below, you’ll see where I successfully positioned the sound post using the above tools. Now, I’m not saying it was perfectly positioned by any means…just that I got the danged thing in there. Juan Mijares later told me it was, indeed, off. But I expected that. In the image below I inserted a light at the end-pin hole and that vertical object with a shadow just to the left of that blue tape is the sound post.

See The Sound Post? I Put It There. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once I’d gotten the sound post in, I drilled 1/16th-inch holes into each of the pegs and inserting them into the peg holes beneath the scroll head, in the peg box. I then cannibalized (took) the bridge from the sample violin Dad bought to use as an example to work against a completed version, because the bridge that came with the kit had been damaged by another guy. Now with the bridge, the drilled pegs, and the sound post in place, I “strung” the violin, which I’d never done before. Juan and my violin instructor, Autumn Deppa, had both told me that when it came to replacing strings, not to take them all off at once, but one at a time (because, otherwise, as already mentioned, the entire violin comes apart). I placed all of the strings on at once and tightened them enough to keep everything tense and the bridge in place. Then I began to tune each string. Violin strings, I’d read, need to stretch to their optimum length, even steel ones, and this takes a few days…weeks? So, I gradually tightened them over the course of my stay in upstate New York.

Sample Violin. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

But, of course, both Dad and my stepmom, Wanda, wanted to hear what it sounded like–as did mi…so-fa-so-la-ti-do! So, a day or so later, I played the very first notes ever to be played on the violin in Dad’s workshop, using Bach’s Minuet 3 in G Major (Note: since I’m a new student to the violin and have only been playing for just over a year, I’m still using tapes applied to the first-position violin note placement on the neck):

The First Sound Coming From Dad’s Violin. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

As I mentioned above, I’m still using tapes (see image below) to mark the first-position note stops (where you press the strings to make the notes sound). So, when playing the untaped violin, it was a bit tricky, but I did manage to coax out a sound that actually sounded familiar!

Note Tapes. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Upon returning to Colorado, I contacted the luthier from whom I’d bought my first violin, Juan Mijares, of Juan Mijares Violins. I had to do this because while in New York, the strings would not stay tuned, because the pegs kept unraveling when increasingly tightened. The violin became unplayable. I needed to make it playable again.

Juan was impressed with Dad’s work. He said he’d heard of these violin kits but had never seen an end result of one of them. We talked about my concerns with the instrument and he said he could correct those things, and one or two other issues he immediately pointed out upon examining it (nothing critical, Dad, just a few polishing actions on his part that you wouldn’t haven known about, because you’re not a luthier).

Dad had stained the instrument. Most violins are varnished–but not all are, Juan told me. I love the finish–I haven’t seen many that look like this one, but, again, I’m no violin expert. I love how it stands out! I dropped off the violin and picked it up a little over a week later. When I picked it up, Juan told me that his daughter, who plays, was helping him and saw it and she even liked it (including the finish!).

For the record, I had the following worked performed:

  • Tightened the end pin
  • Trimmed the cork under the chin rest
  • Created a new bridge
  • Planed the neck
  • Corrected the pegs
  • Corrected the sound post
  • Created and placed the interior label
  • I also bought a more robust, Everest, shoulder rest

Turns out Juan thought he would have broken the bridge I’d used, so he just created a whole new one. Remember, I’d used a bridge from an extremely low-end sample violin.

Planing the neck was needed, because Dad just hadn’t gotten to it, since I’d interrupted his process by taking the violin with me. The fingerboard was slightly overshooting the maple neck under-support. Dad would have caught this.

The pegs: again, because I’d interrupted Dad’s completion of the violin. Turns out that Dad had not gotten to fitting the pegs, which I’d thought he had done, otherwise I wouldn’t have drilled the pegs. This was the main reason I’d brought the violin in to Juan, because as it stood, the violin had been unplayable until those pegs were fitted. Now they are–and it plays!

Though I had installed the sound post, I apparently hadn’t properly installed it. I rough-measured it and had been off. I later learned that depending on where the post is positioned changes the sound. I hadn’t known that the post could be intentionally positioned in various locations to purposely modify the instrument’s music to make it brighter, darker, etc. Check out this link for all that.

And finally, we installed an official label, inside the left f-hole of the violin, to commemorate and document Dad’s work!

Dad’s Violin Label. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

I’ve purchased two new violin cases since my original “rental case,” so I put Dad’s violin in my original rental case. It has a rich interior red velvet, and the instrument looks right a home in there!

Dad’s Violin In Its New Home. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once it was back I began to try to tune it. Since Autumn has not yet shown me how to peg tune, I looked online and found instructions. I began–very gently–attempting to twist in (like a corkscrew) the pegs. They didn’t turn all that easily, but I went as gently as I could…carefully adjusting the pegs the smallest amount I could with each turn, while watching the tuner. I did this for a few moments, when–

POP!

My E-string snapped.

Dang it!

Well, there it was, my first snapped string.

Turns out I had not been paying close enough attention, because I had been tuning the A-string! Yes, while “tuning the A-string,” I had turned/been turning the E-string’s peg.

I’m sure that’s never happened before.

Since I did that once…I figured I might do it again (breaking a string), given how tough the pegs are to turn, and thought, gee, when I buy a new E-string, perhaps I’d be better served by also installing fine tuners on the other remaining strings.

So that Monday I went to Meeker Music and bought two E-strings, and as the guy was fetching them (after I’d explained my situation), he said, you know, we could install those fine tuners for ya. It’d only take a few minutes. I agreed to it.

Dad’s Violin – The Final Version – Note All the Fine Tuners (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once installed, I returned home and attempted to again tune, then thought better of it. I had a lesson in two days and figured I’d let Autumn work the pegs, since she’d have to do a combination of peg and fine-tuner manipulation and knows how far to “push things”…or not. As I tried it, it was taking me forever doing it and I really didn’t want to bust another string again, and it was taking me quite a while to get things tuned. Sure, it’s how you learn, but Autumn hadn’t yet properly schooled me in the ways of peg tuning, so I figured I better let her do it. It only took her maybe three minutes.

With everything now in working order–and tuned–I thought I’d give it a go, even though there were no tapes on the neck. Now, as I play, please keep in mind I’m still a beginner and will be way off the actual notes…but I’m giving it a try anyway:

So, there you have it! A one-of-a-kind Dorchak del Gesu!

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