For the second time in a week, I saw a real live black bear tonight, up close and personal. This one was much closer than the last one, but this time I was in a car and last time I was on a bike. So even though I was relatively safer tonight, it was a bit more thrilling. This bear was not very afraid. It just glared at us from the side of the road.
We were on our way to get Mexican food in Rice Lake WI, after a fairly relaxed day of minor chores around the cottage. I am up here in Shell Lake WI with my mom and pop for a week, culminating with BIKE WITH MELINDA, a social bike ride, next Sunday. I am geeked.
Probably tomorrow, I am going to ride the proposed BIKE WITH MELINDA route and do a visual travelogue for my readers, irrespective of if they are attending the ride. I got this dumb smart phone expressly so I could do interactive things like that, and so tomorrow will be a good test of its powers.
Because of the high number of black bear sightings around here, I have to strongly encourage the BIKE WITH MELINDA campers to keep all their food in the cottage when they are here. No one wants to be woken up by a hungry black bear in the middle of the night.
I also need to share some cottage guidelines with the participants.
1. Drink only the bottled water. Don't drink from the tap - it's lake water, and even though it probably won't hurt you, it's still kind of yucky (algae, residual motorboat fuel, etc.).
2. Since the cottage is on a septic system, we have to conserve water usage. If it's yellow, let it mellow, strictly applies. Start getting in that mindset right now.
3. We also encourage participants to bathe in the lake whenever possible. It's good clean water for washing in, even if drinking it isn't advisable (clearly, if people are soaping up their butt cracks in it). Again, the septic system will be hard pressed to accommodate 10 to 12 people showering daily. If you simply MUST shower indoors, keep it short, top and tail.
4. NO PETS. We have three (3) dogs up here already, and that's too many in my opinion.
5. Don't forget the essential, camping gear, biking gear, a cooler with grillables and drinks, and lots of DEET. The mosquitoes are still terrible.
Those are the main rules. Rain or shine, people will camp outside. If conditions are super bad, we will allow people to sleep inside on the floor, but do not count on it. This is meant to be a rustic, outdoorsy time. Cool?
Via my Blackberry
Via my Blackberry
I got me one of these. It's an LG 23" flat screen LED computer monitor.
Why did I get it? Well, mainly because it was surprisingly inexpensive. This was the top of the line model at BEST BUY, and it was only about $250 with tax. I have wanted a flat screen monitor for some time, to use in the music recording studio. I was finally able to make that small dream real.
I had originally gone to BEST BUY to get a new power cable for my Mac laptop. A lot of travel wear and tear eventually caused the other one to fritter away, and I could not see any way to repair the fine electronics myself. So, naturally, when I was in BEST BUY, I wandered over to the flat screen monitors section. After getting the necessary power pack, I began querying one of the staff people about the flat screens. They must have done a good job training this young lady, because I left the store with both a power adapter and a 23" flat screen monitor.
The monitor integrated seamlessly with my Mac laptop, once I got the right cable. The BEST BUY people gave me an adapter I didn't actually need, but failed to give me the cable I did need. The cable was actually cheaper than the adapter, so I got a small refund of like $3 or some crap when I took the adapter back to the store in the afternoon. But anyway, my laptop recognized the monitor and assimilated it into its operating system with almost Borg-like efficiency. I can easily change the setting on the computer and set it up so that I have more "real estate" on the computer screen, with an application blown up on the flat screen while I can still do other stuff on the laptop screen. Nice.
I am going to put the flat screen down in the music studio and use it for the Logic Pro program during recording. Then I can go online and do other stuff on the laptop even while Logic is doing its thing.
I can also watch movies on it in high resolution. It's a high definition screen.
I worked my first temp job in a while the past two days. Celerity Staffing in Madison WI hooked me up.
I like temping, and I like doing it through the staffing firm. Clients deal with Celerity and then when appropriate jobs come in, Celerity contacts available employees to see if they want the job based on the terms given. Contractors can decline or accept, based on their needs. There's no pressure to take a job if you don't want to.
I worked 15 hours over two (2) days, so I ought to get a decent check at the end of next week. I have a feeling "outsourcing" is going to get big here soon, with the economy in shambles. The economy might even favor contractors vs. employees, because employers can hire them at will, as needed, and they don't have to pay any overhead on contract labor. That is more efficient when times are tough.
I temped at Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation, and my supervisor, Pam, is very laid back and chill. I can tell I am doing good work because the stuff she is doing is dependent on the work I am generating (Excel data entry basically), and she said she has to hustle to keep up with my pace. Nice.
I also enjoy the focused, distraction free work environment. Although it's organized into cubicles, the office is relatively quiet. I like being free of my phone and Internet while I am there. It's kind of like working at the CSA farm. It's pure productivity. As a temp, I don't have to take phone calls or go to meetings, just do what Pam tells me to do and that's totally cool. I think I went on Google twice to research something I was working on. It felt great to just produce quality work at maximum efficiency. I strive for 80% efficiency, because that is realistic. At the CSA farm, I am at close to 95% probably, because I have the ropes down pretty good. There just isn't any time for waste and inefficiency. When we pack food boxes, it's like a manufacturing line, everyone adding their couple of items to the box as it literally moves down the line. If you lose focus, or have to go to the bathroom, or your mind wanders, then things back up, and you try to avoid that.
It's the same with temping. I know what I have to do and I just want to plod along, methodically DOING it. I am probably 85% efficient at the temp job, so well within my expected parameters for myself. I lose some efficiency in formatting the documents for consistency, something that Pam doesn't ask for, but I do it anyway. Down the road, that will just save time and minimize confusion about what is what. It will be more "standardized."
I'm going back to the temp job on Monday, before I head up to the cabin on Tuesday, where I will remain through Labor Day and BIKE WITH MELINDA, the family-friendly bicycle ride in northern Wisconsin that I host at the cottage every year.
Well, my time is gone.
I saw my first real live black bear in the wild today. It was both thrilling and terrifying. Rationally, I know that black bears are generally afraid of people unless they are protecting young.
This bear didn't seem to have any cubs tagging along. I am up at the cottage with my parents, sister, niece and nephew. We went on a family bike ride around Shell Lake, where the cottage is located. It's about 10 miles around. We took the long way around the lake into town and ate lunch at the Pottery Shed Cafe, before finishing the last two (2) miles back to the cabin.
We were almost back to the cabin, on E. Lake Drive, when the bear ran across the road about 50 yards ahead of us. We all stopped in amazement and watched as it disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road - going in the opposite direction from the cabin, thank goodness!
After it disappeared, we rode on, making lots of noise by yelling and beeping our bike horns. Supposedly, you are supposed to make a lot of noise to scare off bears. I guess it worked (as well as tiger repellent) because we saw no more of the black bear.
Just about my entire family has seen black bears in this part of Wisconsin while driving or biking, except for me. Usually they are spotted far away from our cottage. This one was really close though, emerging from the wooded area bordering our cottage property on the north side.
A black bear has been reported in this area, but few have seen more than circumstantial evidence of it - claw marks on bird feeders and spilled trash cans, etc. This was an eye witness sighting and so I have fulfilled my wish to see a black bear in the flesh. It was cool, and also a little bit scary, since it was so close.
Over Labor Day weekend, I'll have a handful of friends up to the cottage for the family friendly bike ride I host, called BIKE WITH MELINDA. I am hopeful that the participants may get a chance to see a black bear in its natural element, if they want to. At the same time, I'd prefer it if they encountered any such bear farther away from the cottage than this one was.
Black bears around here are relatively harmless to people, as I said earlier. They are scared off by noise and generally view humans as a threat. However, my visiting friends will mostly be camping out in the yard of the cottage, so I'll have to make sure no one leaves any food or garbage in their tents. I should probably give everyone the option to sleep on the floor inside the cottage if they have trepidation about coming face to face with a black bear, however irrational the fear of that is.
Seeing the black bear was cool though.
Hi. It's Joe.
Today was a good day.
It started out a little bad, in as much as the power adapter for my Mac laptop konked out. The cable had frayed and it was irreparable. So I called MG, my Mac guru and asked him where I could get a decent replacement. He recommended BEST BUY, which now offers a limited supply of Mac goods and services.
So I went to BEST BUY and found the 85 Watt adapter I needed that was compatible with my laptop. It was a restock one, so I got it for a few bucks less than retail. It didn't save much, but at least I got the new power adapter.
Of course, once at BEST BUY I was powerless to leave without checking out the LED flat screen monitors. I have always wanted one for use with the recording software that I use in my home studio. They have come down an awful lot in price, so I ended up taking one home. Of course, they gave me the wrong cable to "adapt" the LED monitor to my laptop. It didn't even need an adapter, just a different cable.
So in the afternoon, I returned to BEST BUY with my laptop to return the useless adapter and seek out the simple cable I needed. That went smoothly, and in fact as I type this, the LED screen is on to my right. It was "plug and play," fully functional and ready to go when I plugged it into my Mac and turned it on.
Between my two trips to BEST BUY, the well pump pressure tank repair guy came out to the house to install my new well pump pressure tank. It's bigger and better than the one that exploded last Thursday. It cost an arm and a leg, but I learned how well pump pressure tanks work. They are basically a sealed tank of air with a built in bladder. The well pump fills the bladder with water and as it grows to fill the space inside the air tank, the air in the tank is pressurized by compression. This pressure forces the water through the pipes whenever I turn on a tap. When the bladder is almost empty and the pressure in the air tank approaches atmospheric, the well pump turns back on and refills the bladder, thus repressurizing the air tank.
What happened with the old pressure tank was that the bladder had ruptured. So whenever the pump turned on, the water was going right into the air tank in the space that usually just held compressed air. Over time, the water corroded the wall of the tank and one day (last Thursday evening, in fact) it ruptured, spraying water into my basement as the pressure of the tank escaped.
Luckily, I was home, and I heard it. I turned off the well pump and drained the pipes of back pressure until the well guy came and removed the ruptured tank. I have two air tanks, actually. The other one was fine. So once he capped of the pipe to the ruptured tank, the other tank was fully functional and I was able to turn the well pump back on.
With less air space now available to pressurize the system, the pump turned on more frequently, but this was not a big deal. The repair man could not return with a new tank until Monday, so we went the weekend on "one kidney" so to speak. I was gone at PEOPLE FEST most of the weekend anyway, and my roommate Matt was gone to Chicago most of the weekend too, so we weren't putting a strain on the reduced system.
Anyway, the repair guy returned Monday with a much bigger replacement tank than what had been on there before. So now the well pump should have to do even less work, and might save me a few pennies on energy bills.
So anyway, the new LED flat screen monitor is very slick and will definitely make my home recording studio seem a lot cooler than it actually is.
I am writing this post on posterous.com, which is a cool site. It let's you write a post on the posterous site, and then it automatically posts to the REAL Joe's Coffee Fix blog and notifies all my social media networks (which are pretty much Facebook and Twitter) in one go. As soon as I post this, my Twitter and Facebook friends will immediately know and can excitedly come read this post on either posterous.com or Joe's Coffee Fix Blog."
I mainly want to see if the AMAZON link at the top of this post goes through with the HTML.
My time is up, so let's run this little test.
Hi People. It's Joe.
People Fest in Dodgeville WI starts today and tickets will be available at the gate.
Visit http://www.peoplefest.info for directions and deets.
2 Days of camping and fun. Lots of bands.
Weekend passes drop to half price on Saturday.
Cactus Joe (me) plays today (Friday) at 3:45 PM.
People Brothers Band on Saturday at 8:30 PM.
Tons of other bands.
I used posterous.com to post this to my blog and social media outlets.
Well, I sold Tracy's mountain bike for $150. A guy picked it up for his girlfriend, who he says is about Tracy's height. I guess she lives out of town and couldn't try it out. $150 was a great price. I think I paid over $300 for it new and it was almost new. If she doesn't like it, I am sure he could probably even sell it for $200 on Craigslist.
Well, I am definitely getting out of music sooner than later, at least with regards to live music performance. It's not that I am too old. It is that there is just too much BS to deal with, petty band drama and poor leadership, vision, etc. I mean, it's hard to be a visionary leader of rock-n-roll when no one is up for the task of following. I don't understand why the universe insists on throwing me a bunch of drama and BS all at once, both music and non-music related.
This past week my dryer belt broke, my well pump pressure tank burst (thank goodness I was home), and my bands got into all kinds of silly drama.
Thankfully, for once, I was not involved in the drama, but they all sure made an effort to drag me into it. It was like drama quicksand, and I was lucky that I remembered to tie myself a rope to safety beforehand.
Another thing I don't understand is why people are so self-centered. I was working at the farm this morning from 9 to noon, packing vegetable boxes and getting covered in dirt. I guess it was during that time frame that most of the drama went down between my bands, unbeknownst to me. So then everybody starts trying to call me, like I can even do anything about drama I didn't start. I had my phone in the car, because I get too sweaty and dirty to have it on me at the farm.
So then everyone starts sending me these nasty texts about how I should answer my phone when the band calls. Even if I could, why? Everybody wants instant gratification in our society, but they can F off, because Cactus Joe is not their sugar daddy. They will have to gratify themselves some other way.
So the whole band thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and so I think I am just going to quit my bands entirely. Not all at once, mind you. I don't believe in leaving people hanging, notwithstanding the multiple times I have been left hanging. I just don't do that to people.
But I am going to start phasing out the live bands over the next year, with a deadline to be done with bands almost entirely by February 1, 2011. That's when FAWM starts and I want to be free from bands to focus on song writing and music production in my studio. I'll still be available for session work, but I don't ever want to call another band HOME again, because they are totally dysfunctional homes, with drama and passive aggressive behavior, and a lot of alcoholism too, if truth be told. Drunkards entertain me, but only if I am getting cold hard cash to watch them. That's just how it is.
Well, tomorrow is PEOPLE FEST. I have managed to navigate between the piles of wet animal dung that have been flung in my path by everyone I am involved with in bands right now. So it should go fairly smoothly. I am performing solo tomorrow (or possibly TODAY as you are reading this, or maybe even last week if you are slow to read my posts - see, I don't demand instant gratification from my readership, because I am cool) at around 3:45 PM.
My parents are coming down for the fest and after my Friday gig, we are going to go out to dinner, maybe with Sherry, who is also coming to PEOPLE FEST. My sis, niece and nephew are also coming down, although it depends on the kids' emotional state if they will join us for dinner.
I will probably camp at PEOPLE FEST, rather than take advantage of the motel digs that my folks will be utilizing.
On Saturday, I probably have to do some PEOPLE FEST duties before PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND plays around 8:30 PM. I might bug out of there late Saturday night, because lately the hippie fests have been starting to annoy me, degenerating into drunken debauchery that I really gain no benefit from. I don't want to stop anyone else from having fun, if annihilating brain cells is their cup of tea. But I don't need that right now. I have other, more pressing matters.
My time has long expired.
Well, I sold my BioCube aquarium. So now, the only one I can offer you is this one. And I think you can probably do better via Craigslist or even a local pet store, once you factor in shipping.
The next thing on the list to sell, because I surely don't need it, is Tracy's "Boulder SE" Giant mountain bike. Here's a pic:
She told me it is cool to sell it, so I put it on Craigslist, and I had one guy query me on it. He wants to get his girlfriend a mountain bike. I told him this is a pretty small bike and he said his girlfriend is 5'2" so maybe it will be a good fit.
So we'll see about that. I'll just keep posting it around until someone bites.
Also on the list to sell is my 1985 Glaesel acoustic upright (or "stand up") bass. I am an electric bass player, and as much as it would be fun to someday be a good upright bass player, that's not in my immediate future.
Plus, when it is in my immediate future, I am going to get something like THIS.
I am also still trying to sell my Carvin bass guitar. Maybe I should go into business selling used bass guitars. Of course, then I would have to get my hands on a few used bass guitars, and I think I have more than enough basses already.
I have to report that I haven't been that into pursuing a music career lately, at least not around here. The music scene is weak here, and there's just a lot of BS to deal with. Since I don't really want to move to LA or Nashville right now, I guess that's a sign I am not as passionate about it as I should be.
So I think I'm going to focus on the writing career right now. That's way more tangible here. Everyone needs a writer and I'm driven to do it even in the absence of actual paid writing assignments. However, I am getting a few more paid writing assignments.
I'm also more actively seeking writing jobs. It's not because I need the money, although it would be nice. But I just like writing and I have concluded that I shouldn't have to rely on music for my livelihood. I always kind of knew this.
You can be a lot more free and creative when you don't have to worry about paying the bills. Hugh McLeod taught me that, via Derek Sivers.
It's easier to not "sell out" when you can rely on income streams outside of your "art." Wouldn't you agree? That's not to say I won't still be writing and performing music anymore. I just won't be worrying about it, and everyone will be a lot better off.
Even with my regular writing, there's an artistic side and a business side. The stuff I write for fun, like this blog, isn't where I make my money (but feel free to donate!). At least, not much money.
Are you coming to PEOPLE FEST this weekend? COMMENT below. I love hearing from you.
My time's up.
Stefan picked up GUPPY EFFECT's MAMA Award last Monday. It's pretty sweet. For those just joining the world's most awesome blog (this one!), GUPPY EFFECT won BEST HARD ROCK SONG at the 2010 MAMA Awards for our catchy little tune "
Porn Star Hot."
Today I discovered that the blog URL wholefoodvitamins.wordpress.com was available, which both surprised and pleased me, because "whole food vitamins" is a fairly high SEO keyword phrase, just what I need for my research writing on nutrition and health. Along with that keyword, "comparative guide to nutritional supplements" is also quite well trafficked on the Web, which is why I used it as a subtitle for the blog as well as a category tag.
I'm behind on THE CHALLENGE, the free online course about Internet Marketing I am doing. Although it's a highly educational course, it isn't technically 100% free as the developers (Ed Dale and co) would have you believe on its face.
While most of the software tools of the course are free during the course, they would require you to buy the software after the course is over, albeit at a reduced rate. That's all fine. In that regard, the course is free and it's not very misleading to say so.
But I did notice that they ask people to PURCHASE domain names relevant to market niches, under which the free WORDPRESS blog sites will be "masked." This, I think, exceeds the "totally free" claim of THE CHALLENGE, because I feel that during the course, EVERYTHING needed should be FREE as advertised. I understand why they want people to BUY domains containing the relevant market keyword phrases. Google digs that, and so it is better for attracting Web traffic.
However, I am poor. So I am going to continue the course with minor modifications to maintain a completely FREE approach. Even though www.wholefoodvitamins.com would be an optimal (and costly) domain, wholefoodvitamins.wordpress.com is still pretty good, and of course my content will be kickass, because I'm me.
I realize this post was kind of boring today, for those who are not as excited about niche-based Internet Marketing as I am. Please don't let that deter you from coming back tomorrow. You know this blog is very dynamic and usually entertaining.
Today was pretty kickass.
I sold my BioCube 29 gallon Oceanic aquarium to a nice family this morning. I think they will take good care of it. I put the money into the business fund.
Also this morning, the dryer repair man came and fixed the dryer (belt broke), as well as the knob on the washing machine that had been broken for a while. He didn't even charge for the washer knob quick fix. So karmic balance has now returned to my laundry room, although I expect the repair bill will probably cancel the proceeds from the aquarium sale.
Like I always say, easy come easy go.
Actually, I never say that, mostly because it is usually easy go easy go.
Anyway, after all the morning stuff was over and done with, I cruised on up to Lake Mills and rocked out solo acoustic at the Waterhouse Cafe for a decent lunch crowd (although, I only made $1.25 in tips, which is atypical). A young woman and her daughter really dug my tunes and took some promo home with them so they could download some free songs.
After the nooner gig, I went to the bank to deposit the cash winnings from the morning aquarium sale. I had also received in the mail yesterday a check for writing newspaper articles, which I deposited as well.
I took Buddy to the vet in the early afternoon to get his bordatella booster shot. There was a tornado warning in the area, and the sky was ominous. But it all just kind of evaporated by the time I was done at the vet.
I ate an early dinner of Rice Krispies with American-made strawberries and blueberries (both in season, I think) and almond milk.
After I fed Buddy and let him out, I loaded my music gear in the car and headed for Delavan WI, where GUPPY EFFECT was slated to rock the Phoenix Park Bandshell from 7 to 9 PM. To get there, I had to drive through a torrential downpour, which bode ill for the gig. Indeed, I arrived at the bandshell to find it deserted, except for my man Stefan. Drummer Greg showed up a few minutes later and we hatched the idea to "roll with it."
We cruised down to the south shore of Lake Delavan and stopped in at the End Zone sports bar. Owner John was very open to the idea of GUPPY EFFECT rocking a short set in exchange for free pizza and drinks. So that is what we did, turning a negative into a positive.
Diamond Dave, who DJs at End Zone on Fridays, lent us some of his gear to rock-n-roll until about 9:30 when he took over the entertainment functions. Dave is super cool.
John penciled us in for another show on a Saturday night in October, so we got the added bonus of another show booking.
All in all, it was a fun and productive night. As fate would have it, GUPPY EFFECT is back in Delavan WI tomorrow (Saturday 8/14) to rock Bella Grays Inn, right across the street from the End Zone, from 3 to 6 PM. There's even going to be a FREE PIG ROAST, for some kind of benefit or something.
We shamelessly plugged this fact to the End Zone crowd, so hopefully some of them will stop over. They all told us we sounded awesome, even while all the while griping about how we needed to learn this or that cover song that they love. Whatever. We play what we play and it rocks arses off, so people can't whine too much when they are being thoroughly rocked to the core.
Unrelated, I wanted to mention that I noticed something today. I no longer have the "discontented sighs" that I used to have when I worked for THE MAN. You know what I mean - those deep breaths of angst and frustration, when you feel like you can't take another minute of bullshit?
I think this is a sign that I am a lot happier these days. My former boss was a real energy vampire - the kind of person who just sucked everyone's life force away with negativity. I think I was the only one at the VITAMIN COMPANY who realized what a life-force sucking entity this guy was. I know for a fact that everyone felt angsty and mentally drained around my ex-boss, but I don't think they ever put two and two together, like I did. Luckily, I was able to fire my boss and go make a living without a job.
There is nothing cooler than people giving you money just for being yourself and doing what you love to do, in my case science writing and rock-n-roll music.
I am quite fond of the expression, "Pay now or pay later, but ultimately everyone pays."
I have been using it a lot lately because I see all these right wing nutbars spouting off about how universal health care is bad because they shouldn't have to pay for other people's health care bills.
News flash, nutbars: You are already paying the health care bills of the uninsured.
Without going into the boring details of our public health system, here's a run down.
1. No one can be denied necessary health care, not even the poor and uninsured.
2. The health care they get is expensive and has to be paid for somehow (you don't see a lot of hospitals going out of business or doctors filing for bankruptcy, right?).
3. Doctors and hospitals set fees for service to compensate for the lost revenue from those who can't pay vs. those who can. That is why American health care costs the most in the world, double that of the second place country (Switzerland, last time I checked).
4. These fees for service are then transferred to those who can pay (usually via insurance, rarely out of pocket).
5. For the insurance companies to pay these inflated fees and still make a profit, they have to charge insured people higher premiums (as well as deny claims and cap what they are willing to spend per claim).
6. (Here is where it gets good!) The poor and uninsured cannot afford to get MUCH CHEAPER preventive health care, and when they require necessary health care, they wait until the last minute, when treatments and diagnostic tests are much more expensive.
7. So not only do insured people have to pay the health costs of the uninsured poor, but those costs are much higher than they need to be.
8. A universal health care system that provides FREE preventive care (annual physicals and health screenings, say) would lower the net cost of health care for the uninsured poor (assuming rates of disease are more or less constant year to year).
9. A health care tax for universal free preventive care administered by the government would save insurance companies having to pay for preventive services, so they could lower premiums (although they probably wouldn't, those greedy bastards).
10. In any case, everyone's health care is paid for by someone, so you can pay now or pay later, but everyone ultimately pays.
Have a nice day.
My time is up.
The aquarium hobby has lost its shine for me, and I will soon be parting with my BioCube saltwater aquarium and its two (2) remaining inhabitants, a pink tip anemone and a vegetarian sea urchin.
That's my 29 gallon BioCube on the right. It's the coolest marine aquarium I have ever owned. It's only 29 gallons, which is a lot easier to maintain than my former 55 gallon salt tank. But to be honest with you, I would rather not maintain ANY aquarium. I have enough other things to keep me occupied and I am really just raking up a high electric bill each month running the filters, pumps, and lights. In the winter, I also have to heat the damn thing to keep it a nice tropical 80 degrees in my frigid 60 degree living room.
I think I found a good home for it. A family was seeking a 29 gallon BioCube for their son for his birthday. They couldn't find one. But now they have, because I am selling mine.
View the Craigslist ad HERE.
The nicest thing about the BioCube is that everything is self-contained in the rear part of the aquarium.
The rest of this post is mainly oriented at keyword optimization to attract aquarium-seeking traffic to this post.
For example, I am going to use the phrase "biocube 29 gallon aquarium" in this sentence to let Google know it's a killer page for that phrase.
"Aquarium cabinets" would be a good keyword, except for a dearth of decent backlinks to this post. My BioCube comes with a sweet aquarium cabinet.
To be honest with you, saltwater aquariums is a lousy niche to try and get traffic for. It's highly competitive and almost every keyword phrase is jam packed with competing sites.
Apparently, aquariums are really popular on the Web. This could explain why my Craigslist ad for the BioCube for sale got immediate responses.
I am sure I will sell it promptly via Craigslist and I didn't even need to make this useless post. But why not?
Sadly, my time is up once again.
I would, and probably should, teach the young people of today some tips for better living.
But honestly, I think it would be a futile effort.
Kids just don't listen and they don't trust authority. God bless them fo that. I was the same way growing up.
It's just a fact of life that everyone has to learn by trial and error, no matter how much good advice they get from their "elders."
I discovered that it is not MOSQUITOS that bother me. It is the sound of mosquitos and their bites that bother me.
But the sound bothers me far more than the bites, because I associate the sound with the occurrence of bites, much as Pavlov's dogs associated the bell with food. So when I hear the sound of mosquitos, I get really bent out of shape, and become preoccupied with shooing them away and running from them.
This often precludes doing other tasks I need to do, such as mowing the lawn, or even just sitting outside reading a book.
My solution? Ear plugs. Or an iPod.
I have noticed that if I can eliminate the SOUND of mosquitos buzzing around my head, I am not the least bit bothered by the mosquitos, and only mildly irritated by their bites (it's uncanny how they can find the patches of skin unprotected by DEET and burrow their probosci there).
I know that's probably not the right plural form of the noun "proboscis." But I don't know what the plural should be, and that sounds good enough.
So that's one piece of advice for the youngsters of today. Just use ear plugs to make the stimulus of "mosquitos" less bothersome. But still use ample amounts of DEET if you can stand it. Because sound or no sound, the mosquitos will still eat you alive like a swarm of miniature vampyres.
Another simple piece of wisdom is to do some mindful meditation each day.
The brain needs a break from non-stop business. Always take time out to think about nothing. Find a quiet place and focus on nothing. When your mind wanders onto SOMETHING, and you become aware of the fact that you are thinking about something other than NOTHING, just go back to thinking about NOTHING. If it helps, you can focus on your breathing. Although that is SOMETHING, it is about as close to NOTHING as you can find and really accomplished the same thing, resting your mind from thinking about things.
There. I have just taught you everything you need to know about Zen meditation in a single paragraph.
Of course, you can also just take a POWER NAP instead.
My time is expired.
I have definitely noticed a significant improvement in my writing since I began this exercise of writing for 10 minutes every day (excluding the rare days I don't want to).
I titled this blog "Elvish Writing" because I am feeling elvish today. So I apologize to anyone who arrived here seeking Tolkien-esque enlightenment or an elvish dictionary. However, see the link on the right?
Also, I can assure you (and my readers will endorse me, I'm sure) that a quick read of this blog post will do you good.
"Exercise" is an appropriate word for it. When you do physical exercise every day, you get stronger, lose weight, and generally become more physically fit. There's no way to achieve this other than exercise.
It's true of any skill or art. You have to practice to get good at it. I have always said, "Practice is 90% of talent." This is generally true for most people. The reason people have a talent is because they perform that talent regularly and thus get better at it, putting the rest of us to shame on that particular talent. But everyone has a talent. As I also like to say, "Everyone has a super power. Some people just don't know what it is yet."
Some people are talented at playing video games or smoking marijuana. You never know, those talents might save the world some day. Just look at Jay and Silent Bob in the movie "Dogma."
My talent is writing. I am also damn talented at bass guitar, which is kind of the exception to the rule, because I don't really practice the bass guitar as much as I should, if at all these days.
But then again, just imagine if I did practice bass guitar 30 minutes to an hour every day. I'd be super mega kickass, not just talented. My current level of talent is just a by-product of gigging two (2) or three (3) times per week in the best indie rock band and the best jam rock band in the world. The gigs keep my skills at a fairly sharp level, amounting to (an albeit crammed) six (6) to eight (8) hours per week of bass guitar practice.
Sadly, that kind of practice means I am playing a lot of the same tunes over and over. So I am really good at playing those tunes, but unbeknownst to my adoring fans, I am still fairly weak at learning new material.
I plan to remedy that here soon. I am going to get back into both bass and piano practice as soon as I gain more economic stability, which I expect to happen in the next few months here.
I really need to move to a tropical climate. Or even a desert climate, just so long as the winters don't suck as bad as they do in Wisconsin.
It would be fun to sell my house and get an RV. Then I would cruise around the U.S. doing travelogs of various places.
It's fascinating that many people search Google looking for sources of elvish writing.
My time is more than up.
p.s. for the elvish-inquisitive...
This post isn't for my regular readers, though it doesn't exclude them either.
It's for people with jobs in or near Cambridge WI who are looking for roommates and a place to live starting September 1.
My current roommate Matt is moving to Madison WI at the end of August, so I can now offer Cambridge accommodation to qualified individuals looking for a roommate situation and amazingly awesome digs (big, nice house!).
Thus, I seek two (2) new roommates beginning Sept 1 (Cambridge, WI, east of Cottage Grove).
I have two rooms available: 1. $650/mo with own bathroom or 2. $550/mo with shared bathroom.
Utilities are included (except cable TV) + wireless Internet. Big rooms with giant communal living space.
Five-minute walk to Lake Ripley.
My house is the optimal residence for musicians (recording studio and jam space, free!).
Dogs are OK, provided they get along with my dog Buddy.
Deposit and references required. Month to month lease.
If you are looking for Cambridge WI homes, this is a great living arrangement while you do your house hunting.
I can also accommodate people looking for a Bed & Breakfast in Cambridge WI, if all the other ones are full.
Talk to me.
Even though I am super busy and overwhelmed by everything I need to do, I am still taking a minute to write a quick post here.
When you are stressed and overwhelmed and panicked that you cannot possibly get your TO DO list done, don't be paralyzed by fear.
Just break down your TO DO list into DOABLE chunks.
I have to clean my house. But because of all the other things on my list - write article, mow lawn, cook food for potluck, go to laundromat, take online class, play gig, pick up Buddy from kennel, drive to cabin, etc. - it would be easy to say I don't have time to clean my house and thus not do it.
Instead, I am going to say, I do have time to vacuum the living room, which is a start towards cleaning the whole house. So I am going to do that.
When you break it down into doable chunks, your TO DO list becomes DOABLE.
After all, I found one (1) minute to write this blog post didn't I?
Do you take pleasure in the simple things?
This weekend I played bass guitar with PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND at a hippie fest called "Chicken Town." It was a fun time, notwithstanding a long-arsed drive to get there. It even paid.
But that is not the simple pleasure to which I make reference. Indeed, the hippie fest was a rather complicated pleasure, involving upwards of six (6) vehicles to get the band to the fest.
The simple pleasure was when I MapQuested the directions to get to the fest and used the classy business stationary from my former employer to print off the directions. It wasn't the pleasure of disrespecting my former employer, because I really have no hard feelings toward them (only my loser boss). It was the pleasure of knowing that their business stationary was actually being put to some useful application for once, which would bring joy (my bass playing) to others.
The hippie fest was an intriguing event. As far as I can tell, it's main focus was to get people as wasted on booze as humanly possible, using various drinking games as the media. As a non-drinker, the activities themselves were lost on me, but it was with considerable fascination that I observed from the sidelines.
The games were quite elaborate, far beyond your simple "tippy cup" or "beer pong."
The first game I watched in awe was one called the "Boot Race." In this game, a gallon of beer is put into a German-style "boot" shaped glass. Teams of four (4) people each then race to see who can polish off the gallon of beer. Each individual drinks as much as they can without vomiting (disqualification), then passes the boot to the next person. The fourth person in line is called the "anchor" and that person must finish whatever the other three team members could not.
If you do the math, even if every team member drank the same amount of beer, that is a full quart of beer per person consumed in a very short time. I think I was more amazed that the contestants remained standing after the match, especially the anchor, who from my perspective usually had the challenge of consuming almost half of the beer remaining in the boot.
But most amazing of all is that there were actually quarter-finals and finals of the game, involving the same people from the earlier rounds' "winning" teams. Amazing stomachs for beer...
The following day, the drinkers engaged in a game called "Big Base." This is essentially kickball, but with at least two (2) alterations of high entertainment value. The main rule is that everyone must have a full beer in their hands at all times when on the field. They have to kick the kickball, run the bases, and (for outfielders) catch the kickball, handicapped by a full beer in one hand.
The second alteration was the addition of a "slip-n-slide" between first and second base. Although a kicker could run directly to second base without sliding on the slip-n-slide, the slide provided a notable strategic advantage. ANY attempt to slide on the slip-n-slide was considered an automatic "safe" on second base. Thus, when running to second looked like a perilous bet, people would dive onto the slip-n-slide to be "safe."
Keep in mind, they still had to do this with a beer in hand. Second base was also adorned with a full keg of beer, because as you can imagine, it was often necessary to refill one's beer upon reaching second base.
I left the hippie fest after "Big Base," because I had a lot of stuff to do at home, where I am now, such as write this blog post. If I was a beer drinker, I might have wholeheartedly thrown myself into the debauchery of "Chicken Town," but sadly my addiction is the written word, and if you are still reading this, then you know I'm quite talented at this particular indulgence.
Don't forget Wisconsin's best bike ride, "Bike With Melinda," is Labor Day weekend up at my folks' cabin in NW Wisconsin. I hope you can come to the party.
My time is up.
Boy, life sure gets frantic. I try to keep it from getting so, but then reality gets in the way.
So PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND is playing a hippie fest this weekend. It is called "Chicken Town." It sounds like a lot of fun. The only problem is that someone scheduled PEOPLE BROS to perform at 6 PM on Friday evening.
Normally, this would not be a big deal, but "Chicken Town" takes place in the remotest part of Iowa, near Decorah, IA. That's about four (4) hours of driving, which totally blows the afternoon for me on Friday.
Not that I had anything major planned. I had an important appointment though, which luckily I was able to reschedule until next week. I do have a solo gig at Waterhouse Cafe in Lake Mills from 11 to 12:30, which puts me at "Chicken Town" about 5 PM, ample time. All I have to do is set up my tent. I don't need to bring any music gear, apparently, other than my bass guitar. Maybe I will get to play Scott Lochner's sweet Modulus bass guitar again.
I am taking Buddy to the kennel at 8 AM on Friday. That probably already happened if you are reading this, because my blogs here usually don't post until a little after 1 PM daily. Thus, as you read this, I am probably driving west towards Decorah, IA. Are you happy for me?
MoonDawg is playing at "Chicken Town" on Saturday, around noon. I want to hear them, but I also want to leave "Chicken Town" early enough to get back and pick up Buddy at the kennel. I am not bringing Buddy with me. Too many headaches. I don't want to leave him at the kennel two (2) nights, because that costs money. I'm still fairly poor, you know? However, I would not substitute riches for happiness, and I am very happy, notwithstanding poorly planned hippie fests.
I get to see my family a lot these days, and Wisconsin's best bike ride, "Bike With Melinda," is happening over Labor Day weekend. I love hosting it. I will be spending the entire week before Labor Day up at the cabin, chilling with my parents, sister, and niece/nephew.
It is unlikely I will start working a new job before Labor Day, at this point, so nothing should kibosh my long week of mental hiatus up north.
I wish I could teach everyone how to make a living without a job. It's not easy. It's hard work. But it sure is satisfying. There is really nothing like it.
My time is up.
Sometimes I actually write about COFFEE on this general interest blog. Statistically, it is no more likely than any other topic, notwithstanding the title of this blog.
But today, I am using "low acid coffee" as a topical launch pad for my 10 minutes of freeform stream of consciousness writing.
Low acid coffee is simply coffee that is easier on the stomach because it has a more neutral acidity. It is great for coffee lovers with gastrointestinal issues, like acid reflux disease or just sensitive stomachs.
I am such a person.
Have you ever noticed when you drink black coffee, it has kind of an acidic taste, but when you add milk, this "acidity" goes away? Milk is a buffering alkaline additive that helps to neutralize the natural acidity of coffee, which is why creamers go so well with coffee. Sugar helps too, though not as much as creamer, hence the popularity of "mocha lattes" and the like.
Any coffee can be rendered "low acid" by cold brewing. Essentially, you mix any ground coffee with cold water and let it "brew" (if you want to call it that) for about 12 hours in the refrigerator. Because of the low temperature, it has to brew for a long time to get all of the coffee goodness into the liquid.
After brewing, you strain off the cold, low acid coffee and warm it up to drink it. The acid compounds are left in the residual coffee grounds, which can be discarded.
But that sounds cumbersome, so I recommend just getting low acid coffee beans (whole or ground) and using them the normal way, or else adding milk to neutralize the acidity.
That's enough on that particular topic. According to Market Samurai, it's a good one for ranking in Google when people search for "low acid coffee," a phrase which is searched for quite a lot on the Internet. There aren't many web sites dealing with the topic in their titles or content, so I am expecting that as soon as I get done writing here and post this, it should rank fairly high on Google search for "low acid coffee."
Other phrases that might generate some traffic are: "Jamaican coffee," "roasted coffee bean," and possibly "organic coffee beans."
Anyway, I'm still up at the cabin in Shell Lake where, in a few weeks, I'll be hosting the family-friendly northern Wisconsin social bike event called "Bike With Melinda" for a stupid reason.
One thing is for sure. Although there may not be any Melinda, there will be strong coffee available at the cabin for "Bike With Melinda."
It won't be low acid coffee, just the normal kind. We might have organic coffee beans, but they will be roasted coffee beans, not green coffee beans.
It would be fun to roast my own coffee beans someday, but "Bike With Melinda" is about bicycling in northern Wisconsin, not roasting coffee. In fact, several activities rank much higher than roasting or drinking coffee on "Bike With Melinda." These might include, nature watching, kayaking, swimming, wind surfing, eating, fishing, and many other things.
My time is up.
I want to say Labor Day weekend in 1999 was the first "Bike With Melinda" event at my family's cabin in northern Wisconsin. So that makes this year's event the 11th annual, I guess.
What is "Bike With Melinda?"
Well, it's a very fun social bicycle ride I organize each year with a few friends (such as yourself). Up in Shell Lake, WI, where the cabin is located, the summer draws to a close in mid-September. So "Bike With Melinda" is kind of like a going away party for Summer in the northwoods. As Wisconsin bike tours go, it is small but super fun.
Melinda is a friend of mine. She attended the first two "Bike With Melinda" events. Then she got a life. However, we keep the name for simplicity, because it sounds cool. Who knows, maybe Melinda will come this year. It's always good to have hope.
What does "Bike With Melinda" entail?
The bike ride itself is on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, which this year falls on September 5.
However, the social goes all weekend. People cruise up to the cabin Friday night or Saturday day (the latter being recommended, because it is the lightest traffic day of the weekend, according to AAA). We hang out on the lake right outside the back door, drinking, eating, swimming, kayaking, fishing, and even wind surfing (I can teach you!).
The cabin is tiny, so guests need to pitch tents in the yard. But there's a bathroom and everything inside for all to use.
My mom cooks a big feast on Saturday night for us. Then we sometimes go out to a local watering hole and hang out at night. Sunday morning, we get on our bikes and ride.
The first stop is a greasy spoon diner, for those who don't get up early enough to eat at the cabin. Then we make our way to Birchwood, WI where there is a fabulous ice cream joint and some eateries/bars.
Those who don't want to cycle round trip can load their bikes on my dad's car at Birchwood and go back to the cabin. The rest make our way back by bike, hitting a couple of roadside establishments on the way.
We feast again on Sunday night, usually leftovers from Saturday. On Monday we clean up and head back to our respective lives, rejuvenated.
A few additional items: The ride is limited to 12 people, including myself. Logistically we can't handle more than that. The cabin is very remote, so it's super relaxing. It's family friendly and would rank in the top 10 great family bike trips, I think. There is all manner of wildlife. There's a bald eagle that nests nearby, and great scenery. A black bear even roams the area at night. The lake itself has Native American healing powers, in my opinion, and it is spring fed, so it is very clean and clear. I don't tell too many people about the water's healing power, and you shouldn't either, because if the secret got out, it would be exploited and the waters would lose their spirit magic.
Bring bug spray, sunscreen, a flashlight and camping gear. Bring something to grill if you want, optional.
To RSVP the bike ride, just COMMENT below this blog post or E-MAIL ME.
One last thing - Although it's totally free, gifts and donations to my parents are welcome. I will have everyone sign a safety waver prior to biking that says simply, "If anything bad happens, it is 100% your own fault. It is not my fault. Wear a helmet."
OK, SUBSCRIBE to this blog because I will have further updates and directions soon.
My time is up.
On Saturday, I played a 5-string Modulus bass guitar.
It was by far the best bass I have ever played to date. The action was superb, the sound clean and accurate. The bass guitar virtually played itself.
On my way back from biking across Iowa on RAGBRAI 2010, I attended Tim Lochner's wedding in Hillsboro, WI. It was on the way home from Iowa, so I did not go home first. Luckily, it was a hippie wedding and involved camping at the Wallace farm (bride's family). I already had my tent in the car as a result of RAGBRAI, although we only had to camp one night on the bike ride. The rest of the time, we stayed at the homes of friends and relatives.
However, I did not have my bass guitar in the car, because it would not have survived the harsh environment of RAGBRAI (although my beater guitar did OK).
At Tim's wedding, three (3) bands played. The first was SHADOW DANCERS, a traditional wedding cover band hailing from Winona, MN. The third band was MOONDAWG, also from Winona. PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND played second, and I borrowed Scott Lochner's (Tim's brother, who plays in MOONDAWG) Modulus bass for the PEOPLE BROTHERS' set.
I could not believe how sweet and easy it was to play. I totally have to find a Modulus used bass guitar for sale as soon as humanly possible. If you know where I can find such a bass for a decent price, please comment here.
New, these basses run several thousand dollars, and based on Scott's 5-string Modulus bass guitar (which he found on E-bay), they are worth every single dime.
My time is up.
I am back from RAGBRAI 2010 (aka RAGBRAI XXXVIII, I think). It was a total blast, although not quite as much of a blast as previous years.
It's become a little bit too corporatized and sterilized. This was illustrated best when I saw STANDING HAMPTON perform in Charles City, IA on Wednesday night 7/28/10.
On RAGBRAI in 2004, this band was performing on a flatbed truck bed and several members of our RAGBRAI bike team (named Team Crazy Bird) jumped up on stage and rocked "Only One Way to Rock" (by Sammy Hagar) with them.
This time around, they were playing on the RAGBRAI main stage at the overnight town. As such, they were totally isolated. They couldn't even interact with the crowd. I am glad they are becoming successful as a band, but the crowd participation aspect that makes RAGBRAI so cool has been lost. Everything has to be licensed and approved now. You can't sell food or play music without permission.
In 2004 and 2006, Team Crazy Bird had a full rock band on the ride. We performed at bars and on the tops of busses of the various RAGBRAI team names. I wonder if we could even do that today, or would we be shut down by the corporatists on the RAGBRAI committee?
Now, don't get me wrong. I know the Des Moines Register newspaper that hosts the week-long bike ride across Iowa is a for profit corporation, and without the proceeds of RAGBRAI, this midwest newspaper would probably go under like so many others have.
But it is just a shame that the essence of the original RAGBRAI, the human interaction, is going by the wayside. Now it is all about making money on beer, food, and entertainment. Lame.
Case in point - Mr. Pork Chop. In earlier RAGBRAI's, Mr. Pork Chop would set up a stand by the side of the road on RAGBRAI and sell big fat juicy Iowa pork chops for $4 or $5 bucks. They were yummy.
After Mr. Pork Chop himself retired from RAGBRAI a couple of years ago, his son took over the operation and started exploiting the Mr. Pork Chop name for pure greed, charging $7 for the same exact pork chop. You can't tell me that pork is that much more expensive now than it was then.
You can tell me that the young tike Pork Chop has probably hired a few minimum wage minions and has a higher overhead than his dad, who did everything himself.
Sometimes the good ol' fashioned way of doing things is the right way.
Lastly, the Iowa State Troopers (poopers?) have really cracked down on the RAGBRAI parties. They don't think RAGBRAIers can take responsibility for their own actions (granted, some are total idiots who actually can't make a rational decision if their lives depended on it, like the "creepy drunks"). I can see their ends, I just don't think it justifies the means.
They come into the towns and force the local watering holes to stop serving alcohol for an hour so the drunk bikers will move on. The idea is to get all the stragglers into camp before dark. Notwithstanding the unconstitutionality of it, it doesn't work very well, because the really creepy drunken RAGBRAI teams usually roll into the towns after the curfew has lifted and the beer is flowing again. Secondly, the troopers' M.O. when they shut down a town is to tell all the cyclists present to pound their drinks and get back on their bikes. Real smart...
But we still had a fun time. You can view pictures on my Facebook page and probably on the Team Crazy Bird web site soon too.
Here's a sample...
My time is up.