1.30.2012

10 Minutes - Radioactive Slag Desert

Hi. It's Joe.

Well, I just found out that this morning a nuclear plant in northern Illinois, not too far from Rockford, broke down and began spewing radioactive steam into Wisconsin, thanks to southerly winds.

Don't worry, I took my iodine.

But when were they going to tell us this? This happened at 10 AM. Why did they wait all day?

Now the officials are trying to say tritiated steam is completely safe.

They must not know that we have the Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium#Health_risks

When I was in college, doing work study, a professor made me clean out vials of tritium into a hot sink. I don't know how radioactive tritium is exactly, but it made my watch stop and I was late for class. So if it can make my watch stop, I don't think it is harmless.

Anyway, readers, I am easily pissed off these days, so I apologize. I am still a little tweaked off at the upper management where I work, and I am mainly taking it out on tail gaters and asshole drivers on my way to work, but sometimes it spills over, so I am sorry.

F-ing FIBS.

So, I practiced piano tonight, for over an hour. I am working out a jazz song called Be a Clown. It's cheesy, but a good one for a beginner. I am doing it slow and I am taking my mom's advice and learning it in reverse. It is coming along well. I am jazzing it up as compared with the show tune version I linked to. I am 1/3 on piano. I will do Welsh tomorrow and hopefully get in a workout.

Time.

 

1.29.2012

10 Minutes - The Rocking Was Good

Hi. It's Joe.

Last night BABY ROCKET played a decent show at Carp's Landing in Lake Mills WI. We had a new drummer named Mike. He was quite fun to rock with. My bass playing was unleashed too, I think maybe in part because of all the jazz I have been listening too.

At the first set break, I got totally creeped on by a drunken sea hag who was all over the bar making out with random dudes. I don't know why I attract such types, when I clearly show zero (maybe even negative) interest in them. I seem to be cursed (plagued?) by this problem, but it makes sense from the standpoint of THE GAME, by Neil Strauss.

According to his hypothesis, everyone is insecure and seeks approval from others. He parlays this concept into a mechanism for scoring chicks that is far less creepy than directly hitting on someone. But the point being, I am inadvertently "busting game" on women I am totally disiniterested in by the fact of the disinterest itself. It's totally ass backwards, and I am convinced that if there is a God, he is a sadistic a-hole. Definitely not an "intelligent" designer when it comes to human behavior.

This particluar woman was far too aggressive in her approval seeking though. I was really glad to be up on stage most of the time and far from her creepiness. My hope was that she would hook up with some drunken idiot in the bar and leave, and it appeared to transpire later in the night when she left with some dude.

But then, when we were done rocking and tearing down our gear to go home, she was back. I tried to avoid her, but when you are walking back and forth with music gear, it is easy to get cornered. I tried to talk to Mike about some stuff and not pay any attention to her, but then he left me to die and all I could do was flee.

Don't get me wrong. It was a fun night of rock-n-roll and this episode was HIGHLY entertaining, just creepy. Something creepy always seems to go down when my bands play at Carp's Landing in Lake Mills. I don't know why, but it happens consistently. The clientele there is 80% totally normal Wisconsin cheesehead beer-drinking partiers out for a fun time and 20% creepy characters.

Anyway, that's my story for today. In other news, today I have to work out for 45 minutes and practice piano (probably in the opposite order, but maybe not) in order to achieve my weekly goals. Yesterday, I did my Welsh lessons (I finished Module I of IV, and started Module II, yea! Lots of new verbs...), putting me at 3/3 on Welsh for the week. My 90 minute workout on Friday put me at 4/5 on workouts for the week, but I did not get to piano. So that is my task (not a chore, though) for today.

I also have GUPPY EFFECT band practice at 5 PM and I need to squeeze in learning THE ZAMBONI SONG before then. It is for our youth hockey benefit show on 2/11. We still have one more practice before then, so if I do not get to it, Stefan will be mad at me, but other than that it is not a life and death matter. He did his homework though and learned the guitar and vocals, so I would feel super bad if I did not step up and learn it.

Time.

1.27.2012

10 Minutes - The Weekend Is Here

Hi. It's Joe.

I will just go ahead and get the metrics out of the way, because I know you have been following my progress.

Tonight I worked out for 90 minutes, putting me at 4/5 of my weekly goal to do five 45-minute workouts per week. I watched Clerks on Netflix while I rode the stationary bike, mainly because it has a 91 minute running time. I seem to remember this movie being better the first time I saw it, though.

I am taking the night off from piano and Welsh, but I am 2/3 on each of those weekly goals. So as long as I do one hour of each this weekend, I will meet my goal. I think I found a new piano teacher, a dude I rocked in a band with for a short time and who I thought was really good. He is friends with my singing teacher too, and it is she who told me that he was offering lessons.

Speaking of rocking, BABY ROCKET (power trio sans Gina) is performing at Carp's Landing in Lake Mills WI tomorrow night (Saturday) with me on bass. I have a good feeling that it is going to be a fun night. The band is coming over to my house prior to the gig to run some tunes. I need to practice tomorrow afternoon.

In the morning, I am going to do bills and set up a date and time to meet with my tax accountant. I think I have all of my tax forms now. She will let me know what is missing. I usually always forget something. I have to do a few things for work this weekend too, because next week I move to a new department with a new boss. I am kind of geeked for the change. I'll be working with engineers who work hard and play harder.

Time.

10 Minutes - THE MAN vs. The Man (Crazy Week and Work)

Hi. It's Joe.

Last night, I practiced the final lesson in Module 1 of my Welsh learning software. It was fairly tough. I learned the words for WHAT, WHERE, WHICH, WHO, and the like. This weekend, I will do the comprehensive exercise that covers all the lessons of the module.

I also worked out yesterday morning. So I got a lot of goals accomplished. I am 2/5 on 45-minute workouts. I am 2/3 on both piano and Welsh (60-minute sessions). I am progressing at piano much faster than I ever have before, and that feels good. I am following my mom's suggestion of learning songs backwards, from the end of the song to the beginning. It seems to be a better way. It takes longer to learn the whole song, but when I do, I will be able to play the whole thing.

I slept like a baby last night, for the first time all week.

On Monday, the charlatan bloodsucking corporate overlords "re-organized" by team, making almost no good decisions to benefit the company, only themselves. It was very stressful for all of us and they handled it really poorly. My faith in the idiocy of corporate management is fully restored.

But on the positive side, I have a new boss who is really cool and is going to bat for us against the overlords. He is "the man." And he is willing to do battle with the soulless autocrats in upper management, known collectively as THE MAN. At what stage in someone's career do they lose their soul? I hope it never happens to me, but corporate America is notoriously soul sucking.

By Thursday, things had resolved themselves and I was feeling a lot better about moving to a new department, in part because my new boss is cool, as I said, and in part because I will no longer be working under or even associating with the corporate vultures and their inane decision-making.

Mostly, because nobody got fired, and everybody seems to have accepted their new lots in life. So, that is why I slept so well last night.

Time.

1.24.2012

1 Minute - I Am Outta Here!

Hi. It's Joe.

If I leave work now, I will be home by 7:30. That is why I am only doing a minute long post.

I wanted to let you know that I got up early and worked out today. One down (out of 5 needed for this week).

Last night I rocked an hour of piano, so I am 1/3 for that. I will probably hit Welsh tonight.

Also, the TV show 30 Rock is not a bad little program at all. Fun.

See you later.

Time.

1.23.2012

5 Minutes - The Weatherization Dudes Are Back

Hi. It's Joe.

Once again, I have weatherization specialists in my house. They are doing a final audit to make sure everything was done that is supposed to be done. That's pretty cool, although it's about the 3rd audit they have done, suggesting a lot of administrative overhead.

I am kind of glad they are here, because it means I do not have to drive to work until later in the morning. The weather today is horribly sucky. It freezing rained yesterday and the roads are still slick. My neighborhood always gets hit especially bad when it freezing rains. There are a lot of trees and it's kind of in a little valley, so it does not get a lot of sun.

Maybe by the time they leave the roads will be a little bit better.

Time.

1.22.2012

10 Minutes - Recording Music is a Time Suck

Hi. It's Joe.

After my singing lesson today, I was going to diligently practice songs for upcoming band practices and gigs. But then I decided to do a little recording of some songs. That was a mistake. Recording is a total time suck. Although I did get some crude demos of a couple of songs for later use, I totally don't have any time left for rehearsing songs tonight.

I am, however, going to study Welsh for an hour, before I go to bed. Then I will be at 6/5 for Welsh learning this week. I am 5/5 on working out (not going to do that tonight) and 6/5 on piano, so I have achieved my goal for the week on those.

I don't expect I will be able to get up early tomorrow and workout, knocking off one of my five moderate workouts for next week, but I might. If I do Welsh tonight, I will be up until about 11, and then I am going to read a book before I fall asleep (the Krauss book is still my current read).

Monday night, I should be able to get a workout in. Maybe I can even workout at the gym at work over lunch. We'll see. Tuesday night I am definitely going to do Welsh and piano for an hour each.

Then I am busy Wednesday and Thursday nights with Jeebus Preebus and Baby Rocket practices, respectively. I will try to get a workout in on Wednesday morning, but probably not on Thursday morning, because Jeebus Preebus practice on Wednesday night usually goes late and I will want to maximize sleep. Friday morning should be OK for a workout. That will get me to 3 workouts for the week by Friday, which means I will need to workout on Saturday and Sunday next week, which kind of sucks, but it is not horrible.

Baby Rocket is playing at Carps Landing in Lake Mills WI on Saturday 1/28. I believe I have GUPPY EFFECT practice on Sunday 1/29, in preparation for our huge ice hockey arena gig on 2/11.

Well, I see by the clock on my laptop that I have only 15 minutes to brush my teeth and get my jammies on before Welsh learning starts. See you later!

Time.

P.S. Just for you my dear readers, here are the crude demos I recorded today. They only have click tracks, no drums. And "Rock-n-Roll House Party" still needs a second guitar and a solo. These are just demos by way of example for the band or bands that will eventually record these into polished version. So don't you judge me.

roundhouse-nodrums.mp3 Listen on Posterous
rocknrollhouseparty.mp3 Listen on Posterous

 

10 Minutes - Jazz Piano is Contagious


Hi. It's Joe.

I don't know if "contagious" is the right word, because I already have the bug. But the more I practice jazz piano, the more of it I want to do. It is synergistically additive. Maybe even multiplicative.

My favorite jazz piano record is "Oscar Peterson Trio + One (With Clark Terry)."
Oscar Peterson is the role model for my future vision of jazz piano playing. Clark Terry is a badass trumpet player, but I do not have the brasswind bug the way I have the jazz piano bug.

Right now I am finding that the perfect amount of time to practice piano each day is about an hour. I started out with the obtainable goal of trying to do 30 minutes minimum five times a week. But this quickly became not quite enough, so I upped it to 45 minutes and now 60 minutes seems good. I have set a new goal to do at least three 60-minute practice sessions per week.

I am doing some sight reading, learning some classical pieces, and working on some simple jazz pieces.

With the latter, I have only the chords and melody line to go on, so I have to come up with my own rhythms and "feel it." This is where listening to a lot of jazz piano comes in handy, heavy on the Oscar Peterson. I have loaded up my SPOTIFY with good jazz piano, including some Art Tatum, who I understand was a major influence on Oscar Peterson. Influences and influences of influences will help to sculpt my eventual piano sound.

I guess in 50 years, when I am a piano legend, people will reflect back on this blog post (assuming we still have the Internet then) and get a glimpse of the driving force behind my keyboard virtuosity.

I am off to my singing lesson in Madison.

Time.

10 Minutes - Idea Box: Spotify "Mix Tapes" for My Readers

Hi. It's Joe.

I have SPOTIFY and I love it.

You probably have it too, if you know what is good for you.

And that means we can share songs with one another.

A part of me still digs good ol' fashioned "mix tapes."

So, I had this idea. Every once in a while, I am going to make a "Cup o' Joe" mix tape of SPOTIFY tracks and post it right here.

Starting now.

But no more than 10 songs per mix. That's an arbitrary guideline, but I figure since SPOTIFY is mostly listened to online, you are unlikely to have time to listen to more than 10 songs in a sitting. And there is no obligation to listen to it at all, of course. I expect most of the time you won't.

I'll add some brief notes about why I added the song.

Late on a Saturday Night Mix Tape

Clark Terry – Squeaky's Blues

Clark Terry – Incoherent Blues

The above 2 tracks are actually Oscar Peterson Trio songs. Recall that my New Year's Resolution is to learn jazz piano. Oscar Peterson is kind of my inspirado for that. In my mind he is the best jazz pianist ever, bar none. I don't expect to ever be this good, but it is a goal to strive for, and if I end up even 1/10 as good I will be OK with that.

Parry Gripp – Zamboni

GUPPY EFFECT is playing an awesome rock-n-roll show at the Madison Capitols Ice Hockey Arena on Saturday 2/11, and I was searching SPOTIFY for an apropos hockey related song we could play. I came across this one. It is catchy, simple, and I dig it. I had thought about the "I Wanna Drive a Zamboni" song, but it's kind of generic and cliche (read, it has too many words and I am too lazy to learn them...this one has very few).

Songs To Wear Pants To – Shoot The Zombies

Toe-tappin'. I love songs about zombies and zombie killing.

Strong Like Bear – Shut Up

My friend Jordan's band in Iowa. This is one of my favorite songs that they play, a catchy 3-chord rocker.

NOFX – Creeping Out Sara

I played this at open mic the other night. Crowd pleaser. Any song that talks about lesbians, 3-ways, fourgies, and fivesomes, as well as strap-ons, has got to be good, eh?

The Donnas – Who Invited You

Kind of anti-social, but it rocks. My awesome rock-n-roll band JEEBUS PREEBUS plays another Donnas song, but not this one.

Ben Folds/Nick Hornby – From Above

This song is the secret song of me and my Platonic girlfriend, Amb.

North Mississippi Allstars – Skinny Woman

This song is about all the reasons NOT to date a skinny woman. The best reason given by the North Mississippi Allstars? Her "meat don't shake." You can't argue with that.

The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian - Album/Single

Timeless.

Time.

1.21.2012

10 Minutes - Inflation and Multiple Universes

Hi. It's Joe.

This post is going to get a lot of traffic from people looking for information about quantum physics and the Big Bang. That's too bad, because I am only going to touch on that briefly. I am still reading "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence M. Krauss.

This morning I read some of it. He was talking about the concept of "inflation" and how some parts of space may still be inflating, while other parts, like ours, have settled into a more stable quantum state, also known as our UNIVERSE. It's hard to get my head around, but apparently there may be other quantum universes out there, separated by still inflating space, and thus unobservable and unreachable from our own.

Or are they? Perhaps quantum physics allows for some kind of wormhole type bridge between universes. Anyway, it's a heavy duty book. Lots of brain power needed, but nothing that most people aren't fully equipped with. They just have to be curious about it.

Today I worked out for 45 minutes, achieving my 5/5 workouts for the week. It is quite likely I will workout tomorrow, putting me at 6/5 for the week, also known as A+.

I am about to go do an hour of Welsh learning, which will put me at 4/5 for Welsh this week, I think. So I definitely need to do Welsh tomorrow to achieve my goal. If I squeeze in some jazz piano tonight, I will be at 6/5 for piano for the week. Starting next week, I may go to three 60-minute sessions of Welsh and piano, instead of the five 30-minute sessions I have been doing. This is because I find myself wanting to go longer when it is 30 minutes. Plus, when I have any time at all to do Welsh or piano, it is usually because I have nothing else going on, so I can spare an hour for each. Most nights when I am pressed for time, I don't even feel like I can squeeze in 30 minutes. So why rush it, if I am not feeling it? Right? This way, I can have fewer sessions, but more actual practice time (3 hours vs. 2.5 hours).

I know these posts are pretty boring. I am trying to make a point about "reality." I despise REALITY SHOWS, for the simple fact that they aren't real at all. Nobody lives like that and the actors are fake, and the situations are fabricated.

This is reality. Normal, personal, maybe even boring to others (except Tracy...HI TRACY!). I let you people glimpse into my life. It is honest and real. Not FANTASY, like those TV shows you love. They should call it FANTASY TV, because that is why you are watching it. You are trying to live someone else's life, because you think your own reality is lame.

The difference is, I do not think my reality is lame. And your reality is not lame either. If you blogged or vlogged about your life, I would probably follow along. That's karma.

I want to learn to speak Welsh and play jazz piano. Those are my New Year's resolutions for 2012, my goals. So if you want to follow along and see how I do, that would be cool. Subscibe via e-mail up there on the upper right.

No spam. Just Joe.

Time.

1.20.2012

10 Minutes - Snow Day

Hi. It's Joe.

I enjoyed my snow day today. It was not an especially brutal snow day, and I probably could have gone to work today. But I took it off to give myself a 3-day weekend.

Just a little while ago, I got done working out. It was a light workout today, and just 45 minutes. I was hoping to do 90 minutes but I just wasn't feeling it, so I quit after my minimum 45 minutes. I am at 4 of 5 workouts for the week, so I am not worried about hitting my weekly goal. I will probably work out tomorrow and Sunday.

I also practiced Welsh today, for an hour. I made some decent progress. The word gellyg means pear in Welsh. I have a hankering for some fruit now, so I am going to cruise out to the Piggly Wiggly here shortly and get some.

Later I am going to practice piano. I am at 2/5 for both Welsh and piano for this week, but if I get an hour of piano in tonight, I will be 4/5 for piano for the week. Recall that my New Year's Resolution was to accomplish five 30-minute practice sessions per week for each of Welsh and piano.

I am thinking about changing it to three 60-minute sessions each. This will add up to more net time per week on these activities, but less consecutive days. I find that I need a day off sometimes to let everything I am learning sink in, and then when I get back to it two days later, my learning seems to be synergized. This happened with piano recently. Last week, I practiced the piano pretty diligently almost every day, but by Sunday's practice, I was really burned out and it did not go well at all.

I didn't end up practicing piano again until Thursday of this week (yesterday). And when I did, it went really well. I am working on a jazz piano piece that is not too hard, so it is a good one to develop my left hand chord playing and simultaneous right hand melody playing. I will definitely get an hour of piano in tonight. I can feel it. Tomorrow, I will do another hour of Welsh and then on Sunday I can hopefully do an hour of each.

I have a singing lesson on Sunday in Madison too. I might go to a concert in Madison on Sunday night. Very laid back weekend.

I am reading this book called "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss, that my parents got me for my birthday. It is a very cool read, but also very mind blowing. It did not give me weird dreams last night like it has on other nights. Today, I read a couple of pages, and Krauss said in about 2 trillion years, none of the light from anything outside of our own galaxy will be able to reach us. And by us, I mean the future beings that live around here, whether descended from us or not. It will appear to them as if they are the only galaxy that exists. They will be able to see stars in their own galaxy, because these are attracted by gravity and don't move away from each other the way distant objects outside the galaxy do. You see, the universe's expansion is actually increasing, and eventually distant objects will be racing away from all other objects at faster than the speed of light. Thus, the light from them will never reach us. Although the beings living around those distant places will see their local environment, they won't be able to see us either. That makes me sad.

But that is 2 trillion years in the future, and right now, time to go make a fruit salad.

Time.

1.19.2012

10 Minutes - Strategic Use of Vacation (or PTO, in the Parlance of the New Corporate Overlords)

Hi. It's Joe.

Tomorrow, my region of Wisconsin is going to get something of a blizzard. Normally, it being Friday, I would have to go to work.

My employer is actually super cool, and if I wanted to, I could work from home quite productively (actually, even more so, because of the fact that I can work during the 90+ minutes I would normally be commuting round trip, notwithstanding the slightly slower internet connection).

But it is Friday tomorrow (or probably today, by the time you read this). I busted my arse this week at work and stayed late a couple nights to finish a bunch of assignments. So I feel really good about calling in some PTO tomorrow.

This way, I do not need to fight with other commuters to get through the wintery weather. Plus, my poor 11 year old Toyota Prius really does not dig super cold weather anymore and it is going to be single digits tomorrow.

So I am going to take it easy, get caught up on some working out, piano, and Welsh. Maybe I will write and/or record a song. I will definitely practice songs for upcoming band practices and gigs.

On Saturday, I might go to Beer and Cheese fest in Madison, but probably not, since none of that stuff is on my diet anymore. Sunday, I will call my mom, because it is her birthday. She got the hat and scarf I sent. She said she like them. But what is she gonna say, she hates them?

Time.

10 Minutes - Ten Minutes I Almost Didn't Have

Hi. It's Joe.

I had an appointment this morning. I thought it was at 9:30, but as fate would have it, it is actually at 9:45. As such, I have just enough time to punch out a daily 10 minute blog post.

Last night, I practiced piano for an hour. It went surprisingly well, and when the hour was up, I didn't want to stop. That is a good sign. But I had to stop, because it was late, and I needed to get some sleep.

But then I ended up reading "A Universe From Nothing," by Lawrence Krauss for a long time. It is a book my folks got me for my birthday, and it is giving me bad dreams. It is all about the Big Bang and the universe. I don't really understand everything Krauss is saying, but it sets my mind working, which then translates into bizarre mathematical dreams that wake me up.

They are not scary dreams, just distressing. I guess my brain is trying to sort out everything I just read and make sense of it, because the concepts are really hard to get my head around.

Part of the problem is that Krauss does not explain some things in enough depth. Another part of the problem is that I am reading a book late at night, after a long day of work and piano practice, when my mind is not fresh and I am trying to keep from dozing off while I read.

Because the book is fascinating, notwithstanding the bad dreams. I am not tired today, so the dreaming, however unsettling, must have done its job of working some things out in my brain.

I would have preferred dreams about playing piano. Then maybe I could have improved my piano skills in my head. But I didn't have a lot of unresolved piano issues to dream about, so I guess that is good.

Time.

1.18.2012

3 Minutes - Piano Practice Went Really Well Tonight

Hi. It's Joe.

I was kind of bummed about how piano practice went last Sunday. I know you were probably alarmed by this, readers.

But I did not get discouraged. I just took some time off from it (2 nights sans piano practice).

Tonight I sat down and practiced for an hour. I rocked. Hard. I think I just needed a break from it to let my brain absorb. I was pushing myself too hard.

I worked on a jazz standard called "At Long Last Love." Nothing too crazy, just some chords in the left hand and melody in the right.

I was keeping a Latin rhythm on the chords and trying to sequence out the melody rhythm against it.

It still needs work, but I was able to get the triplets in parts of the melody working with the straight chordal rhythm.

I thought you'd be pleased to know that all is well on the piano learning front. Been listening to a lot of Jazz Piano on Spotify at work too.

Tomorrow night I will probably do an hour of Welsh and get caught back up on that.

Time.

10 Minutes - A Universe From Nothing

Hi. It's Joe.
For my birthday, my folks got me a book called "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence M. Krauss.
He is the same guy who wrote "The Physics of Star Trek," a book I quite enjoyed many years ago. However, the current book actually talks about REAL physics, not the made for sci fi kind in Star Trek (although the latter kind was substantially based on real physics, which just makes Star Trek all that much cooler).
This book is good too, although he is taking too long to get the the crux of the matter. He is taking a kind of chronological approach to what physicists know about the universe and each chapter ends with a quantum cliff hanger that is consternating.
But it makes you want to read more, and at the most basically level, that is what a book is supposed to do. He is keeping things really general, and I am one of those people who needs more depth. I understand he is writing for the American layman, and needs to keep it 8th grade level (although at times, I think he goes a bit high school on his readers). But I straddle the fence between lay and technical. So sometimes I want to yell at him and say, "C'mon man! Give me the meat and potatoes! I can take it."
Anyway, I am learning new things. There is an "edge" of the universe, beyond which we can't see, not because it is moving away from us at the speed of light (it is actually moving slower than that). It is because the light coming to us from the very edge of the universe was created only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. Before that, the universe was this big fat ball of super hot plasma, with no atomic particles yet coalesced. And I think what he is saying is that because of this plasma, there was nothing for the light of that early universe to pass through prior to about 300,000 years after the Big Bang, when it was cool enough for atomic nuclei to form (but still dang hot!)...so the edge of the universe just looks like a wall of microwave radiation we can't see past. And that's cool. It means there is something past it, which just don't know what it is yet.
I do not yet know if our universe is going to expand forever, or someday start collapsing. I think Krauss is going to get to that here soon.
Time.

1.17.2012

10 Minutes - I Shipped Off My Mom's Birthday Present Today

Hi. It's Joe.

I mailed off a birthday present to my mom today. I know it is risky to disclose that here, because I think my mom might actually read this blog. I know my dad does, but I am sure he will keep a secret. In any case, I am not going to give away the surprise.

Today, I worked from home, because this morning in Cambridge, we had "white out" snow conditions. It didn't last too long, but it was timed to perfectly interfere with my commute. I actually tried to go in, but the roads were insane. I love my job, but there is no sense risking your life and experiencing undue stress, when it isn't necessary. And with my current employer, it isn't. Unlike the vitamin company I used to work at, my new employer is totally in the 21st century, and I can telecommute right on in, with very little effort. The connection is a little less responsive, due to the Internet, but I can work longer to compensate mainly because I can save 90 minutes of driving. There are also far fewer interruptions when I work at home. The couple of times I tried to work at home at my last job, my harassing boss would make a point to try to disrupt me, then when he was successful, he would use it as an illustration of what a bad idea working from home was. But I had better stop talking about that job now. I get too worked up. Suffice it to say, I "fired" that boss and I have never been happier with any decision I have ever made in my professional life.

Because, now, I am rocking and rolling in every way.

I worked pretty late tonight, and I am a bit drained, but I am going to try and squeeze in an hour of piano practice. I might not get to Welsh tonight, and I am OK with that. I have been progressing nicely with the Welsh, but the piano needs a lot of work. For some reason I cannot fully explain, I suck at piano. I mean, I have good posture and hand position, but the music itself just will not sink in.

So I just keep at it. What else is a rock-n-roll warrior to do? I enjoy piano. I just suck at it. I enjoy math and physics too, but I totally suck at those.

I hope I am not getting sick. Early night and lots of water should knock this slight sicky feeling right on back. It is very slight. Mind over matter.

Time.

1.16.2012

10 Minutes - Vox and Rocks

Hi. It's Joe.

My vocal lesson is literally less than 12 minutes away, so I really need to crank this out in 10 minutes, allowing me 2 minutes to compose myself before my singing teacher tears into me for sucking.

When Guppy Effect practiced yesterday, I video taped it (I still get a kick out of saying "taped" here in the 21st century digital age). On playback, I noticed my pitch was not optimal. I would like to be a better singer, but how can I?

Last night I also practiced piano. I suuuuucked. Usually, I make a little bit of progress each day, but last night I just felt like I was sucking big time.

After my vox lesson, I am heading over to Clay's to rehearse with drummer Mike for the gig on 1/28. I guess Ken wasn't aware of the Carps Landing gig on Jan. 28, so rather than cancel (which is never a good idea), Clay first asked Mike to sub, and sure enough he said yes.

We are doing a few new songs, which I am fond of. One of them is possibly "Jenny Says" by Cowboy Mouth. It has a buttload of words and so it will take me a while to memorize them all.

OK, well my lesson is 3 minutes away, so I had better wrap this up for now. But life is good. I did a bunch of Welsh learning yesterday and I worked out twice today - 45 minutes on the stationary bike this morning and a 3 mile power walk at lunch. Since the power walk was 3 miles and took over 45 minutes, I get to count both workouts toward my weekly goal of five 45-minute workouts. Yes!

Time.

1.13.2012

1 Minute - Fun Stuff

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Hi. It's Joe.

Having this much fun at work seems wrong.

I have to go to a meeting now, which is why I can't write a full 10 minutes, but generally speaking we just have too much fun here.

Time.

1.12.2012

10 Minutes- Playing Catchup on Piano and Welsh Tonight

Hi. It's Joe.

Tonight I practiced piano for an hour and Welsh for an hour.

Recall that my New Years Resolution was to practice piano and Welsh for 30 minutes thrice per week.

As such, I am going to count tonight's practices as two sessions each. Much like my weekly fitness challenge to workout for 45 minutes five times per week, when I do a double sesh (90 minutes in the case of working out), I can count it twice.

I was able to practice Welsh and piano on Monday this week. I would normally have practiced on Tuesday night, but then GUPPY EFFECT landed a sweet gig performing at the Capitol Ice Hockey Arena on 2/11/12. So Tuesday night was consumed with making this promotional flyer for the event.

Hockey8
It's going to be a really cool party. My band plays from 8 to 11 PM in a mezzanine overlooking two ice hockey arenas, with games going on the whole time. There's a bar too.

But anyway, back to my excuses for not practicing and subsequent redemption. Wednesday night is sacrosanct for Jeebus Preebus band practice, and even though we did not have full band practice Wednesday, Sir Psycho and I got together with my buddy Kyle and rehearsed my kickass rock song "ROUNDHOUSE." By the time I got home it was late and I was tired. I never usually count on doing anything but band practice on Wednesdays, so I didn't.

But tonight I did.

This is the first year I have really embraced new years resolutions. I think the reason why is that they are all POSITIVE resolutions. Instead of abstractions like lose weight, I am actually setting concrete doable goals.

It all began with my resolve at Halloween (not really a resolution, just a strategy) to do five light to moderate 45 minute workouts per week. It was an obtainable goal, and with the exception of the two weeks at Christmas, I was totally successful at it. I continue to be. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, we had remarkably mild weather for January in Wisconsin. So I did 3-mile power walks each of those days at noon, killing 3 of the 5 workouts for this week, even while I slacked on piano and Welsh.

But tonight, piano and Welsh practice caught up to workouts. Due to the double marathon practices tonight, I have accomplished 3 sessions of piano, Welsh, and working out so far this week. My other fitness challenge, though not technically a NY resolution, is the follow a Paleo diet as strictly and for as long as I am able.

Time.

1.10.2012

10 Minutes - My Life is Pretty Kickass

Hi. It's Joe.

I really can't complain about much. I have a pretty decent life. I think it is actually awesomely kickass, but I know that is subjective. I live in a cool house in a rural township. I have a good job and an easy commute. My coworkers are all cool. I play bass, and occasionally drums, in a sweet rock-n-roll band called JEEBUS PREEBUS. This band does not play in any shitty bars, but only hosts rock-n-roll house concerts, which is a refreshing change from my past musical endeavors. We can set our own agenda and make our own rules.

I am learning the speak Welsh and I am teaching myself jazz piano. I find it quite fun. I set a goal to practice each of these things for 30 minutes, five times per week. But as I have been getting into it, I find my motivation growing exponentially and I want to increase the time allotted. But I am a busy guy, so I figure if I at least do 30 minutes minimum that will be good. If I have more time, like on weekends, I can do more.

When I used to have band practice on weekends, I would sometimes do that for up to 8 hours a day, although few fellow rockers could keep up with me, so I usually had to divide the time between two different bands. The point being, there is no reason I could not do Welsh or jazz piano "marathons" on weekends, even if I am limited to 30 minutes on busy weekdays.

I should be awesome at Welsh and piano by year's end. These were new year's resolutions and so far I have been kicking ass on them.

Time.

1.08.2012

10 Minutes - Victory Is Mine!

Hi. It's Joe.

I think it is technically already my birthday, because I was born in Australia and it has been Monday down under for a while now. For whatever reason, my birthday weekend always seems to be filled with adventure, and this weekend was no different.

But before I tell that tale, I wanted to let you know that next Saturday 1/14/12, I will be performing semi-acoustically with Stefan as GUPPY EFFECT due @ Waterhouse Cafe in Lake Mills WI (7-9 PM). Stop by.

Cactusjoeflyer
OK, so Friday after work, a few friends and co-workers met at a Madison WI bowling alley for an annual tradish, Lebowski Bowling Night. Many of us donned Big Lebowski themed costumes for the occasion, an in retrospect, it is good that we did.

When we got to the bowling alley, it was really crowded on the lanes. We had to wait to bowl, so we sat in the bar, ate some food, and drank Caucasians. In one corner of the bar, I saw what looked like a karaoke stage setup. I didn't think too much of it. We eventually got our lane and the bowling event went to plan, complete with floor sliding.

After we got done and went back into the bar, it looked like they were gearing up the karaoke device. Most of my friends and co-workers went home at that point, but I stayed, considering doing some karaoke.

Then other people started karaoking. I am totally used to your standard karaoke where 90% of the people singing suck and the remaining 10% are average, with maybe one decent singer in the lot.

So I was surprised when all of the singers at this karaoke were amazingly good. I thought maybe it was just the Caucasians, making the singers sound good. But when it was my turn, I went up onto the stage, dressed in my DUDE costume. I took the microphone from the young lady and turned to face the audience. That's when I nearly crapped my pants.

The audience had become totally transformed into a horde of walking dead, moaning, bloody, and gory. Not missing a beat, I busted into "Just Dropped In" by Kenny Rogers, from the Big Lebowski soundtrack. If I am anything, I am stable under pressure, but this was a tough crowd.

I hadn't gotten very far into the song when the undead spectators apparently picked up from the tone of my voice that I was among the living. Their moans got louder and they began to stagger toward the stage. It was then that I realized there was something haunted about this bowling alley. Like I said, the Caucasians were slowing down my cognitive powers.

Anyway, during the instrumental breakdown of the song, I scanned the bar to see if I could find an escape route. The karaoke stage was in the farthest corner from an exit, by design I am sure. I glanced at the girl who had given me the microphone. Sure enough, she was undead too. But she had no limbs, so all she could do was gnash her teeth at me, but she could not reach me.

The karaoke stage was no karaoke stage at all, but some kind of hideous contraption, probably designed by a mad scientist of some type, to project a holographic illusion that this was a normal Wisconsin bar on a Friday night. What I had though were stage lights were just the holographic projectors, and now I could see that each light beamed at one of the zombies in the room. From the audience, they all appeared to be normal cheeseheads, but once you got up on the stage, where you were cornered, the illusion was gone.

I had somehow stumbled into an elaborate feed trough for an army of living corpses.

Then something caught my eye. Actually, it was a someone. A pretty brunette was sitting at the bar, and she was clearly not undead. Her eyes did not have that frosty glaze on them. She was looking at me strangely, but it was mostly because by this point I was no longer even trying to sing the karaoke song and I just looked like a big loser who couldn't sing, or even read the lyrics off the machine.

On a whim, I put the microphone to my lips and called to her. Her eyebrows lifted, and I think she thought I was going to make fun of her or invite her up to the stage.

"Check this out," I said to her. Then I took off my Dude bathrobe and cast it sprawlingly over the rack of holographic lights that was creating an illusion for this girl that she was sitting in a room full of normal people.

It took a moment (maybe she had had a few Caucasians too), but suddenly her expression changed.

Once it registered in her mind what was going on, and I admit that was a gamble, I said, "Listen, honey. I don't know what's going on, but I could use a little help here."

She got a mischievous gleam in her eye. By this point, several zombies were at the edge of the stage, starting up the three steps that led to the small platform on which I stood.

The girl jumped over the bar and grabbed a bottle of vodka off the rail. As she did, the undead bartender stumbled toward her. She brained him with a bottle of Kahlua. Before the other two zombie bartenders could reach her, she was back over the bar. She grabbed a handful of match packets and then bolted for the stage before the undead around her could react.

"Here," she called when she was within range to throw me the bottle and the matches, which she did.

The matches flew all over the place, but it was good thinking on her part to grab several packets. A couple of them landed near me. I opened the bottle of vodka and began dousing it on the four or five undead that were closest to me. Then I lit a match and threw it at the nearest one, who reupted into flames. The flames quickly caught the vodka on the ones near her (at least I think it was a her). Zombies hate fire, and the rest of the zombies started backing away.

That gave me the break I needed. I jumped from the stage and darted between the confused and frightened zombies. By this time, the brunette had a pool cue and was braining undead with a deft hand.

I reached her and took her hand. We ran out of the bar as it began to catch on fire from the burning zombies inside. The undead howls were incredible. We had to kill a couple that tried to get outside, but that

"I don't know what that was," I said. "But that was the craziest karaoke night I ever had."

"Yeah, I guess we will never know," the girl said. We exchanged digits and then I went home.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. But I had a rock-n-roll birthday party on Saturday night. Here's a tune from it.

blackbetty010712.mp3 Listen on Posterous

 

1.06.2012

10 Minutes - I Might Go Running Outside Today

-1131565471

Hi. It's Joe.

I might go running outside today. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Big deal. So what?"

But that is because I forgot to mention today is January 6th and this is Wisconsin.

The Law of Averages suggests that the almost complete lack of snowfall this winter means a heinous blizzard some time in the next couple of months, or at least a period of some heavy winter weather.

Be that as it may, I am going running outside today. The ecological destruction of planet earth may be going on full force, but today it is leaving Wisconsin be, and I am going to take advantage of that.

Tomorrow night I am having a rock-n-roll birthday bash at my house in Cambridge WI and if you are one of my readers who lives in the area, I hope you can stop by. It is probably too optimistic to hope that I can get a performance by Jeebus Preebus, my new band. But there will be enough rockers in attendance for some decent jams.

Lots of friends said they will stop by. I hope you are one of them. Just do me a favor and RSVP so I know you are coming. Plus, you will need directions.

In addition to the rocking, I am supplying a case of Huber and a pot of my dad's (someday to be) famous chili.

Time.

1.05.2012

10 Minutes - Remember Snow?

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Hi. It's Joe.

It's 50 degrees outside. Fahrenheit, obviously.

Now this might not seem like a big deal until you realize this is Wisconsin and it is January.

I'd like to say I am not complaining. But here's the thing. Nature works on the Law of Averages. Think about global climate change. The global temperature may only go up one degree, but this causes massive problems when you apply the Law of Averages. To account for that one degree, you might get cold waves in some places and heat waves in others.

The math is complex, but suffice it to say, if Wisconsin does not get any decent snow for all of November and December, and half of January, the Law of Averages tells us that something has got to give because average precipitation cannot change that dramatically ON AVERAGE. This means some time between now and the end of February, maybe into March, or even April, Wisconsin is going to get clobbered with record snowfall to "average out" the extremely unnatural lack of snow fall to date.

You mark my words. There is going to be a brutal blizzard here fairly soon and the longer this mild weather hangs on, the more massive it is going to be. I am saving up my vacation days so I can hunker down when it comes. It is going to be apocalyptically blizzardy here soon.

This is very worrisome.

Time.

1.01.2012

30 Minutes - New Years Resolutions: I Don't Have to Do This, Because I Wrote Song Today

Hi. It's Joe.

As you know, if you have been following my short blog posts over the past year, which I hope you have been, I had a few small New Years Resolutions for 2012. Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this post though, I wanted to remind you that 2012 might be 10 days shorter than most years, if the Mayans were right and the world ends on 12/21/12.

One of the minor resolutions I had was to write song for 10 - 15 minutes each day, leaning toward 15 (because it takes a bit more thought to write song than to write blog post stream of consciousness, although it might be cool to someday write song based on blog post stream of consciousness).

You'll note that I purposefully did not say write a song each day. That would be too time consuming and would never fly with my crazy schedule. But I can spare 15 minutes to apply myself to the task of writing song, generally, and this will probably seed a few ideas to then take and elaborate into actual songs later.

In addition, due to aforementioned time constraints, I decided that I will write blog OR write song for 10 to 15 minutes each day, but not necessarily both, although I have the option to do both. That is why, even though I wrote song this morning, I am also blogging today. It's New Years Day, after all, and I have nothing to do today, except a dinner date later, weather permitting.

And of course, I have to do my other NY resolutions, to practice piano for 30 minutes and learn Welsh for 30 minutes. I am going to go and do that after I am done with this post. I am going to work out too, maintaining my quest to complete five 45-minute mild to moderate workouts per week.

So for most of January, I am largely going to be writing song in the 10 to 15 minute time slot allotted for this, I think, because I am oiling the gears in preparation for February Album Writing Month, and so my blog posts may or may not drop off. If I write a decent song, I might blog post the lyrics or even a crude recording, if I am really ambitious. I have my notebook and rhyming dictionary ready on the living room coffee table for this endeavor.

My song writing effort this morning yielded a nearly complete song, with chords and words. That was about the fastest I ever wrote a song, and it probably shows. I am going to transcribe it here for you. It is probably Jeebus Preebus material. Note chord changes at start of each line. Nothing fancy.

ROCK-N-ROLL HOUSE PARTY

by Cactus Joe

VERSE 1

(G) Rocking out late on a Saturday night.

(D) Lotsa girls dancing, their dresses were tight.

(Bm) They were singing along, to all of our songs.

(C D) And everything was feeling a'right.

A couple of the girls in their shorty skirts,

Ran up on the stage, and tried to rip off my shirt.

They started grinding on Manwich, a rock-n-roll snadwich.

What are we gonna have for dessert?

CHORUS

(Em C) It's a rock-n-roll house party.

(G D) It's where you wanna be.

Bring some friend and don't be tardy.

The beer is always free.

It's a rock-n-roll house party.

Come dance the night away.

If you don't you will be sorry.

So come and celebrate.

VERSE 2

I girl that I knew started talking to me.

I could tell she was wasted, she was slurring her speech.

I said there's food on the table, if you're feeling unstable,

You can have a little bite to eat.

A little while later, she was feeling good.

She thanked me for the tip about eating some food.

She wanted to kiss me, said she couldn't resist me.

I nodded that I understood.

CHORUS

Guitar Solo Over Verse

CHORUS

See? It's f-ing simple.

Time.