6.30.2012

10 Minutes - Piano and Power Napping

Hi. It's Joe.

Sometimes when it is as hot as it is in Wisconsin right now, a power nap is just the thing. I took one a little bit ago.

If you read my post from yesterday, about bike commuting with eggs, then you may remember that I had to take my car into the mechanic this morning for a few minor tweaks, most notably a tire rotation and changing of my frayed alternator belt (preventive, since no one wants to break down by the side of the road in this kind of heat). I also asked him to find out why my car AC is not working and fix it if it was a simple thing.

It turns out, it just needed a freon recharge. I was a little bit surprised to find out my smug producing Prius actually uses this outdated refrigerant. I think it's a greenhouse gas, one which my little car contributed generously to the atmosphere, given the fact that it was devoid of it. Anyway, I have AC in my car now and will presumably have it in a few weeks when I do RAGBRAI in hot Iowa is hot late July.

My mechanic did a superb job. To tell you the truth, I cannot actually assess the quality of the tire rotation and the alternator belt replacement. But I know the AC works, so based on that I will assume the proper outcomes of the other operations.

My parents are in town, passing through on their way up to the cottage in northern Wisconsin. I think we are going to take our respective dogs over to the dog park to get acquainted. I need to practice a few tunes for GUPPY EFFECT v2.0 practice tomorrow at 5 PM. But since GUPPY EFFECT 1.0 practice was canceled (at noon), I will actually have time to do that tomorrow early afternoon. We have a lot of songs to learn though, so I may also do some tonight.

But I am coming along with jazz piano, so I might focus on that tonight.

Time.

6.29.2012

10 Minutes - A Hot But Fun Day

Hi. It's Joe.

I bike commuted today. I don't know if I reported this on this blog or a different one, but I had my cruiser bike into the BicycleWise bike shoppe in Whitewater, WI to get tuned up after the Cambridge shop had a go at it and it turned out worse than when I brought it in.

Well, I don't know what John Sotherland and his bike fixin' peeps did, but the cruiser rides like a dream right now. I am totally taking it on RAGBRAI.

I thought maybe it was just psychological. Perhaps in my head I was comparing John's solid work against the sub par work of the Cambridge bike shop, and thus inflating my perception of the Whitewater shoppe.

Not so.

I have pannier racks on my cruiser and I usually load up a single pannier with clothes for work and stuff. Well, today at work I received delivery of two dozen free range eggs from a guy at work who brings them in. You see where this is going?

I didn't have my car, and it being the last Friday of the month, I could not leave the eggs in the work fridge over the weekend or they would be thrown out. Not to mention, I will be on vacation all next week thanks to douchebag corporate management's PTO mandate.

So, using my discarded work clothes as a "cushion," I loaded the two dozen eggs into my saddle bag, wrapped in a plastic bag (just in case I would have to be making some emergency scrambled eggs when I got home).

I did the long 20 mile commute back to my car today. I tried to avoid big bumps and potholes, but I didn't go particularly slowly and I did hit a few curb dips here and there.

When I got home, I very cautiously took the eggs out of the plastic bag. The number that were broken?

Zero.

So it is not my imagination. This bike really is a smoother ride than it has ever been before. It literally feels like there is a shock absorber on the back wheel. But there is not. The eggs were in paper cartons and resting on a bed of softer material. But the saddle bag was still attached to a hard metal frame on a bike, at cruising speed.

I did not feel the bumps, and neither did the eggs. Now I have to eat them.

Taking my car into the shop to get the tires rotated and the alternator belt changed in the morning. I had best go to bed soon. I am also going to ask the mechanic to find out why my AC is not working anymore. Too F-ing hot!

Maybe for tomorrow's post I will give a review of my local mechanic and what kind of a job he did on my car. He always does a good job, usually for a low low price.

Time.

6.27.2012

10 Minutes - Or Possibly a Full Hour

Hi. It's Joe.

I am sitting in a meeting, which hasn't started yet because the douchebags in management have not yet seen fit to bless us with their presence. It is going on 10 minutes and counting. Do they know how bad this makes them look? Probably not. Why should they care? You need to be a douche to be management at my company.

I am in a rare mood today. I am really not taking any shit from anyone and I am remarkably close to my tolerance limit. So I hope no one decides to test me.

On the other hand, I bike commuted today, and I always enjoy that. There was a lot of bike, pedestrian, and construction traffic on the bike paths today. But biking is ALWAYS better than driving. I had to yell at a few idiot drivers for behaving erratically.

My sister is on the run from the wildfires in Manitou Springs CO. She had to evacuate her home and is on her way to stay with friends in AZ. They are saying that these wildfires are the worst in Colorado history. I expect they are worse than anything in Colorado pre-history as well.

That'll do for now. If this meeting continues to suck balls, I may write some more.

Meanwhile, go check out the new post at http://hiatusrocknroll.blogspot.com.

Time.

6.26.2012

10 Minutes - I Don't Like Driving But There Is Something I Like Less

Hi. It's Joe.

Just enough time for a post before bed.

I try to bike commute part of the way to work any time I can. Driving is not my favorite thing, but it is a necessity if I want to live outside the big city in the quaint rural community where I do live.

One thing I do not like about the city is the traffic. Another is the construction. But one thing that really bothers me is douchebag traffic cops who use construction traffic as an excuse to prey on confused drivers.

I don't think all Madison WI traffic cops are douches. But the ones who hide their cruisers and wait to nail people are. Why? Because their job is not to sit in their cars doing nothing until they snare someone in their trap. Their job is to patrol, to cruise around looking for real crimes and real traffic issues.

I was pulled over in this way this morning, just prior to reaching my parking spot for bike commuting. To tell you the truth, I did make an illegal left turn, totally accidentally. I did not see the sign. But he was still a douche, because he knew full well that the construction was causing drivers to accidentally make this turn and he was profiting from this mistake, waiting to ticket them. That was douchy. Do you agree?

He should have been using his skills as a traffic cop to help drivers avoid the illegal turn, because it was clearly happening to a lot of drivers because of the construction. Instead, he was using it to meet his ticket quota, and that's just wrong. He also lied to me, saying that the residents in the area had been complaining about construction traffic on the side streets, and that's why he was so focused on this particular intersection. With the main road completely closed off (seriously, it was not a simple lane closure, it was completely closed off), drivers have no choice but to take side streets. So the residents of that smug neighborhood with their private, taxpayer funded traffic cops, can go pound sand right up their asses.

I made a point to drive right through their pansy-assed neighborhood on my way home too. So they can F right off.

For more deets, go read my post Predatory Police in Madison WI. I am convicting this officer of douche nuggetry and khakassery in the court of public opinion. If he wishes to contest this conviction, he may do so in writing. I hope that other Madison police are more ethical and helpful than this guy.

I did have a wondrous bike commute though. My cruiser bike is back from Bicycle Wise in Whitewater WI, which not only fixed the mistakes of the Cambridge bike shop but made it the smoothest ride EVER. I swear, I do not know what John Sotherland and his staff did to this bike, but it rides like a Cadillac. Like it has shock absorbers.

Tomorrow I am going to bike commute on my mountain bike, which also came back from Bicycle Wise and I expect will have an equally smooth ride. The cruiser is my preferred commuter bike. It is a big and bulky lunker, but it is surprisingly fast. I was averaging 13 and some odd miles per hour through city streets, and that is pretty good.

Time.

6.24.2012

10 Minutes - Crivestivus

Hi. It's Joe.

I got home from Crivestivus today, completely wiped out, in that good way that can only come from performing a rock-n-roll show and having tons of fun.

I took a sick (of work) day on Friday, then I cruised up to Todd and Sherry's house in Osh Kosh (begosh). I got there about noon and we went over to the New Moon Cafe, which has excellent food, for lunch. While we were eating, a cloud burst passed through. There was a chance of storms on Friday all over northern WI.

We got up to Crivitz, where Crivestivus is held, about 3 PM. We were the first of our group. We set up our campsite and milled about. My band HIATUS was not slated to perform until Saturday at noon and the other members of my band did not plan to arrive until the morning on Saturday, just in time for the gig.

Last year, my band GUPPY EFFECT played at Crivestivus, and we had a gig on Friday night, so we had to all go up on Saturday. But I prefer to go up the day before and hang out and party.

The People Brothers Band asked me to guest on a couple of songs and that was super fun. I watched their whole set and it was a good time. I got to play on their bass player Scotty's sweet-arsed Modulus bass. They didn't cover Cee Lo Green's "F.U." song, which surprised me a little. They are really good at that tune. I guess maybe when Scotty started playing with them they dropped a few tunes.

Stayed up way too late on Friday night but was up in plenty of time to rock the HIATUS set at noon. We actually got an early start. We had about 20 songs to play. Our drummer, Hammer by name, thought 20 songs was going to be too many, but it was just right. We had a few biffs, but overall it was "tizzight."

We went swimming in the Peshtigo RIver in lieu of showers on Saturday afternoon and then hung out. I am really tired today, but I am trying to push on through to bedtime because a power nap would be the worst possible scenario (it would just become a full night of sleep and I'd feel useless). So I am going to practice jazz piano for a while. I have my lesson tomorrow and I feel like I am behind.

Time.

6.21.2012

10 Minutes - Make Cappuccino

Hi. It's Joe.

I won't lie to you. I am without reservation taking a sick (of work) day tomorrow (Friday...which is probably when you are reading this). I make no bones about it. I am taking a sick day and I am not sick.

You want to know why? It's not because THE MAN sucks. We all know that, and live with the fact.

It's because this weekend is CRIVESTIVUS CRIVESTIVAL. It's a hippie music fest in Crivitz, WI and my band HIATUS is rocking it on Saturday.

Sure, I could have worked all day on Friday, putting my shoulder to the grindstone for THE MAN, and then cruised up to Crivitz on Saturday morning, butt early, to play the noon slot.

GUPPY EFFECT did this last year, when we played the fest. We played a gig on Friday night and then Stefan and Peter stayed over and we scrambled a dozen eggs early Saturday morning before cruising up to CRIVESTIVUS to drink free beer (unlimited all weekend) and rock out.

But this year, no Friday night gig. So I do not have to miss the first full day of CRIVESTIVUS. I don't understand why the organizers of the fest made it Friday and Saturday, instead of Saturday and Sunday. They are tube pulling hippies, what do you expect? But that is neither here nor there. It is just the reality of the situation.

Working for THE MAN on Fridays is a courtesy. I don't hate THE MAN. He's a douche, terribly annoying most of the time, especially when he talks, but most of the time he leaves me alone and lets me do my job. So, if I would have had a show tomorrow (Friday) night, I probably would have gone to work and helped out THE MAN. He pays me, after all.

Because I show this kind of respect and courtesy to THE MAN, I am sure HE can understand and support my need to redeem a sick day tomorrow, in order to pour out my heart and soul with rock-n-roll to save the planet. Yes, it's true. If HIATUS does not rock-n-roll at CRIVESTIVUS this weekend, the planet faces an untimely oblivion by way of Armageddon. I can't prove this fact. But luckily, I don't have to, because we are going to rock CRIVESTIVUS and the time/space continuum will remain stable for the foreseeable future (several trillion years, if the scientists are right).

Of course, THE MAN is not really a man. THE MAN represents corporate America, the wealthy underwriters of my awesome life. Corporations are people, so THE MAN is a person. Actually, he is several people, the ones I work most closely with on a day to day basis. But I digress.

THE MAN does not have feelings the way a man has feelings. So THE MAN cannot possibly care if I redeem a sick day for rocking at CRIVESTIVUS. Because I am a man, and my coworkers are both men and women, there is a sense that THE MAN is a real entity, with feelings. But that is actually an illusion, a self-created illusion, that THE MAN relies on to keep his minions in line.

My boss is not THE MAN. My boss is cool, like me. He likes to ride his bike to work and eat sushi. I like that too. My boss's boss is a total douche, but that guy also is not THE MAN. He's just a lying tool. THE MAN is an abstraction. THE MAN is nothing to fear, because he does not really exist. He only exists in your mind.

THE MAN is what makes you put in a full 10 hours each day at work, even though there's not enough work to fill even the requisite eight hours. THE MAN is what makes you take lunch at noon, even though you could take it at 3 PM if you really wanted to. THE MAN is what makes you not have a pint of beer when you do take your lunch at the artificially mandated noon time.

Don't fear THE MAN. He has no teeth, no roar. You are a human being. You are important and you have value. If you had to save the planet with rock-n-roll, your boss would totally understand.

So that is what I am going to do.

By the way, the only reason this blog post is titled "Make Cappuccino" is to attract readers, such as yourself. I happen to be a coffee lover, and most corporate cube drones are coffee lovers. So, if you are still reading...

...I WIN.

Time.

10 Minutes- My Morning Post

Hi. It's Joe.

Today is not a bike commute day. I wish it was. Thursday is the day that I have to pick up my CSA box full of farm fresh produce and usually have band practice. I don't have band practice today though. Instead, I am going to go to Whitewater and pick up my two bikes that are being tuned up there. While I am there, I am hoping to try out a Sotherland bicycle. The owner of BicycleWise bike shop in Whitewater makes these bike frames and I'll bet they are awesome because he really knows his bikes.

This weekend is Crivestivus Crivestival in northeast Wisconsin. My band HIATUS is going to play at it on Saturday, June 23, about noon. We will lay down some 70s funk, and rocknroll of several genres, including indie, classic, and hard. I'll be meeting my good friends Todd and Sherry up there. They are bringing a bunch of their friends. Hopefully, they will leave some room for me at the campsite, as well as my guitarist Brian and his wife Molly, who will only camp with us on Saturday night. I am quite looking forward to the weekend.

One of the most awesome songs that HIATUS plays is "Backstrokin'" by The Fatback Band. This song is gold, I tell you. GOLD! Any band that plays this song is destined for greatness, and that is why we are one of the few bands that covers it.

Click on the thumbnail in the upper right of this post to listen to it and then COMMENT beloew telling me if you agree or not.

Have a fabulous day.

Time.

 

6.20.2012

10 Minutes - I Am Going to Publish a Kindle E-Book

Hi. It's Joe.

Guess what! I am taking a Kindle Publishing short course via the University of Wisconsin, in anticipation of publishing my e-book. I signed up for it yesterday.

As you probably know, Kindle is a form of mobile e-reader for reading books electronically. There is also a Kindle app for computers and mobile phones.

For the past 12 years or so, I have been doing "field research" in corporate America, figuring out how to have a fulfilling and stress free life while working as a cube drone for mediocre companies with horrible management. Oh the stories I have to tell in my e-book.

But it will also be informative. If you are a stressed out cube drone with zero quality of life, I can teach you how to break the cycle. It will be quick and dirty reading, simple strategies, and common sense. But even so, many people are not doing these things as evidenced by the large number of unhappy middle class people working as cube slaves for corporate overlords (who represent demand for my e-book).

But even if you are happy and do not need or heed my strategies and insights from over a decade of working in corporate America, I think you will still find my anecdotal tales entertaining and enjoyable. That's my goal anyhow. And it can't hurt to have a gander at my e-book when it is published for a simple reason.

It will be FREE!

Although my e-book will be quite informative and entertaining, I don't think anyone will (or even should) pay money for it. So my first e-book release will be free. Then once people read it and see how kickass my writing is, perhaps they will be willing to contribute a small donation to my subsequent releases.

The Kindle app for most computers is also free, so even if you don't have a Kindle, you can still read my e-book.

Stay tuned to this blog (by subscribing, upper right...also FREE!) and I will update you on my progress.

My goal is to release my free e-book via Kindle by the end of the year. The Kindle Publishing short course ought to grease the wheels as to the mechanics of it.

The content of the book itself is partly written already and is just a matter of elbow grease. It will be largely based on my blog posts at http://juiceyourlife.blogspot.com. That blog is by invite only, but I am in charge of the invites, so let me know if you want to check it out. That blog is also free.

But rest assured, if you want to wait for the e-book and be pleasantly surprised, I will always let you know what is going on right here at A Cup o' Joe.

Peace!

6.19.2012

10 Minutes - Priorities

Hi. It's Joe.

I realized today that I try to do too many things. I have many interests.

The problem is, doing too many things means it is hard to become excellent at one thing.

To some extent, I think this may be a defense mechanism on my part.

By trying to spread myself too thin, I can rationalize mediocrity in some areas due to having too many things going on.

When I say mediocrity, of course, I mean considerably above average but not expert level. I don't settle for mediocrity in the sense of average. I usually only pursue things I am passionate enough about to put the time and effort in to get better.

I call it the 80% rule. I can usually achieve 80% excellence at most things I set out to do, provided I stick with them. However, that is a solid B minus. Not heinous. But not excellent. It just means I am better at it than 80% of other people. But 20% of people are better at it, and maybe 1% of people are f-ing awesome at it.

I don't even think I am awesome at bass guitar. Some people say I am, and maybe I am in the top 10% or so, but I could be better with not too much more effort than what I put in now.

My new year's resolution was to get good at jazz piano. I got off to an awesome start, but I feel like I have plateaued. This causes me cognitive dissonance. I think this is causing me to look for new things to pursue so I can engage in the defense mechanism described above. If I spread myself too thin, I can rationalize not continuing to progress at jazz piano.

But you know what? I am not going to do that. I am going to break the cycle and re-double my efforts at jazz piano. I am going to conquer jazz piano and rule it for all time. Some time in the future, when the words "jazz piano" are uttered, people's first thought will be of ME. Oh yes. Right now, many people think of Oscar Peterson when they think of jazz piano. At least I do. He is my main influence.

So, all the other trivial, non-priority commitments I have made need to be set aside for a while so I can get back to jazz piano.

That said, I am a bass player by upbringing. I am still going to practice bass and try to get better. But with bass, I am already 90% up the side of the mountain. With piano, I am only 1% up the mountain and my pace has slowed. So I am going to up the pace on that a lot and up the pace on bass a little.

This weekend is Crivestivus and my band HIATUS is playing at it. I am taking a sick (of work) day on Friday to cruise up there, set up my tent, listen to bands, and party with my friends. I hope you will consider joining me up there. I have some weekend passes available.

Of course, you are probably one of those people who has other priorities that you stick to, and a summer hippie fest probably interferes with them. I totally understand and respect that. Focus on your priorities, whatever they are.

But remember, if you are just using other "priorities" as an excuse to not take risks and go have fun, then you are using the cognitive dissonance defense mechanism too. Just saying.

6.18.2012

3 Minutes - Bike Commuting Tomorrow

Hi. It's Joe.

I am going to bike commute tomorrow. After work, I am going to attend a Ninpo Martial Arts class with my buddy Brian. If I like it, I may join the organization. In any case, I came up with a really good marketing slogan for the place, if they wanted to make t-shirts or something.

The slogan would show a hot girl in karate garb, with the caption, "I am a Ninpo Maniac."

OK, typical Joe idea.

I wonder if you would like to list to the best rock-n-roll record I have ever heard. It is Cowboy Mouth's "Live at the Zoo."

Short one tonight. I need to let buddy out and get an early-ish night for biking tomorrow.

Time.

15 Minutes - A Father's Day Weekend Retrospective

Hi. It's Joe.

I had a great weekend. Thank you for asking.

On Saturday morning, I dropped off two (2) of my bikes at BicycleWise bike shoppe in Whitewater. One of them was my cruiser bike, which you may recall from a prior post was utterly biffed by the new bike shop in Cambridge WI. John at BicycleWise is a bike genius. He will undo the curse put on my cruiser bike by the amateurs in Cambridge. The Cambridge shop should stay away from bikes and focus on the cafe side of their little storefront. That is my $0.02 cents.

The other bike I took to Whitey was my Gary Fisher mountain bike. It just needs a tune-up, particularly the indexing of the shifters.

After I dropped off the bikes, I met my buddy Branden at the China House take out place right next to the bike shop. I returned home in time to get an hour long power nap in before the dudes of my band GUPPY EFFECT v1.0 arrived for band practice. In addition to two July shows we are getting ready for, we were asked to do a last minute gig on Saturday night at Carps Landing in Lake Mills WI. So after we got done rehearsing, we cruised up to LM and rocked the night away. They fed and watered us, which was nice. The draw could have been better, but there is no shortage of musical illiteracy in Jefferson County, so that was not surprising.

I had to get up early on Sunday morning to go ride my bike 60 miles, so I did not party too hard at the gig. I won't get into the bike ride details on this post because I already posted about it yesterday, but sufffice it to say, it was awesome.

Time.

6.17.2012

25 Minutes - I Rode the Rock

Hi. It's Joe.

I Rode the Rock today. That is to say, I rode my bicycle 60 miles today on a charity bike event called "Ride the Rock."

High marks. The only biffage was the unforseen conflict between the red route markings on the bike ride and my genetically red/green challenged ocular cones. That is to say, I am color blind and the spray painted route markings for the bike ride were, to my mind, pavement colored.

Thus, I became lost almost immediately. Not to be undone, I sought out a fellow biker who, like me, was "behind the pack." That is to say, he arrived late to the ride and was just hitting the road on his bike when I came full circle back to the park where the ride started.

So I made a new friend. His name was Dave. It turns out, Dave found my pace quite acceptable to his own, and in exchange for being my "guide," I "broke wind" for him. That is to say, I "pulled." Which is to say, in the parlance of bikers, that I gave him an assist by riding in front of him so that the mild headwinds were less of a challenge. Now I think you can see why cyclists call it "drafting." Because what I said was quite wordy, albeit as parsimonious as I could make it as a writer. And by parsimonious, I am of course referring to "Occam's Razor," which is to say, the simplest explanation is most likely the...well, it's the simplest. So shaddap!

Anyway, the camaraderie made the biking a lot more enjoyable. It turns out Dave lives in Madison and has a buddy (or maybe it was a brother) who lives in Fort Atkinson, WI, which is where the Ride the Rock bike ride starts and ends. Naturally, I promoted the fact that I play in several rocknroll bands.
The rest stops on the ride were spaced decently. The route passed within 2 blocks of my house in Cambridge (no, I didn't stop). But not before first passing through Jefferson and Lake Mills WI. I did notice that the route organizers tended to avoid including the village downtowns on the route. Thus, we did not pass the Waterhouse Cafe in Lake Mills, nor Ripley's Bakehouse in Cambridge. The route did, however, pass the Lake Ripley Inn, which I believe I gave quite high marks to in a prior post. In fact, one of the ride rest stops was at Lake Ripley Inn. I don't think there is an actual Inn there.

We also did not go past Tyranena Brewery.

Ride the Rock takes a hit on veggie options for bikers after the ride. They had brats and dogs and chicken. So I was relegated to eating oranges and potato chips. However, at the park where the ride ended, there were a number of food vendors associated with some kind of carnival going on. I was able to score a vegetarian burrito at one of these vendors, and even though I had to pay $7.50, it was FAT!

There was also some kind of junior league baseball game going on at the park. In association with this was $1 cans of beer. Actually, it was slightly more than that, because you had to buy a wristband first, which cost $1. Dave and I scored some PBR when we finished the ride. Doing the math, they were, in my case, $1.33 PBRs.

When I ultimately headed home after saying goodbye to Dave, I found that the strawberry stand in Cambridge had a fresh batch o' strawbs. So I stopped and picked up two containers of these delightful fruits. The lady selling them told me that this was probably the last batch of strawberries for the season. Bonus. They were also selling tomatoes, so I scored some of those.

Overall, a great day, and it isn't even over yet. In fact, it is only 3:45 PM. I am going to eat some strawberries and practice some jazz piano.

Time.

6.10.2012

10 Minutes - A Fabulous Saturday

Hi. It's Joe.

Yesterday, I wrote that Ray Bradbury is my favorite sci-fi author.

That remains true, but as I thought about it some more, I realized that Ray Bradbury is not the author of my favorite sci-fi book, which is Frank Herbert's "Dune."

I just wanted to clear that up. I am only talking about the first Dune book, too. I wasn't that interested in the subsequent books in the Dune series. I only read them because I liked the first one so much. But it just couldn't be topped, and eventually I gave up on reading Dune books.

But I never tire of Ray Bradbury stories and books. He may not have the status of having written my favorite sci-fi book of all time, but all of his sci-fi books are solid and good, which can not be said for other of Frank Herbert's books.

Robert Heinlein is not too bad either, but he's a bit cheeseball in some of his writing.

Anyway, enough on the subject of sci-fi books. Today I biked from Cottage Grove all the way into the Farmer's Market in Madison WI. I rode the connector leg of my eventual ride from Cambridge to work in Middleton, which I will probably do a couple of times this summer before RAGBRAI. This leg is filled with pickup driving douche nuggets who hate bikers, but it's not a very long distance on crappy Highway BB before I am on either bike trail (inbound) or country roads (outbound). However, it is the shittiest segment of the entire ride. Not too hilly though.

At the Farmer's Market, I scored some excellent produce and a bunch of emu meat. The ride back to my car was brutal, because it was hot and the noon day sun was beating down on me. I wore sunscreen, but I still got a hefty overdose of vitamin D. When I got back to Cambridge, I went to pick up my parents' bikes that were being tuned up at the bike shop in town, only to find they were not done. However, I dropped off my cruiser bike for a tune up as well. I am not sure this shop is the greatest, but I hope they do a good job. If not, I just won't go there anymore. I have had a lot of good luck with the bike shop in Whitewater, WI. I can always go there if the Cambridge shop does not pull through. I want to make sure my cruiser bike is in excellent shape for RAGBRAI because that is the bike I am bringing to ride across Iowa in July.

After I got home, I learned some songs for GUPPY EFFECT v2.0 practice, which I then had. The band went out to eat at the Lake Ripley Inn, which I have to say is a highly under recognized establishment. Decent beer and vegetarian (albeit bar) food. This will be good to keep in mind, since usually there are very few places open after band practice. After that, I learned a couple more songs for GUPPY EFFECT v1.0 practice, which I have tomorrow at noon.

We are going to try HELP by the Beatles and SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW by Gotye. Both will be tough for a three piece. But we like tough.

Time.

6.08.2012

My Favorite Ray Bradbury Book

Hi. It's Joe.

I was sorry to hear about the death of Ray Bradbury, but I am glad he lived as long as he did.

He was hands down my favorite sci-fi author, although I confess to not having read any of his work lately. I guess now is a good time to revisit some of that great writing, since I am working on a 21st century futuristic e-book of my own.

My favorite Ray Bradbury book is "Something Wicked This Way Comes." This is more of a horror story than a sci-fi story, and it will truly creep you out to the core. That's not exactly a reason to read a book, but it's the sign of a well written book if it can take you to a nightmare place and really creep you out, notwithstanding that it is just a fiction.

You can't go wrong with most books by Ray Bradbury. While it's true that "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451" have been rehashed to death, they are still classics. In high school I would much rather have read these than say, "Moby Dick." Note that some years ago, I did actually read all of "Moby Dick" and it was pretty decent.

Ray Bradbury was also a master of the science fiction short story, and "The Illustrated Man" may be my favorite of these collections.

It begins with a story called "The Veldt," about a virtual reality game that becomes frighteningly real for some children. It is amazing how prophetic Bradbury was in predicting modern technologies.

These stories also have an extremely high creep out quotient and are excellent.

Time.

10 Minutes - Trying to Find a Driver For My Small RAGBRAI Team (Crazy Bird Redux)

Hi. It's Joe.

I am doing RAGBRAI this July with a very reduced (redux) incarnation of Team Crazy Bird. There will only be three of us, but we are seeking a non-biking fourth member to join us as the driver of our support vehicle (my Prius).

This is actually a very fun and not very difficult role for the team, but is best served by an outgoing and social individual who enjoys adventure and having a fun time in Iowa for a week. A tolerance for warm July weather is also a plus.

Let me know if you have an interest in doing this. You will need to be available from about July 20 to July 28, 2012. This is a tall order for most people,but not for the person who will become the RAGBRAI support driver for Team Crazy Bird Redux.

Time.

6.07.2012

10 Minutes - No Biking Today, Just Rocking

Hi. It's Joe.

My left leg is a little bit sore from all the bike commuting I have been doing lately. However, that is not why I skipped the bike commute today.

As much as I would have liked to bike today, because the weather is superb, I am relegated to rocking out with the cover band I play bass for immediately after work. It will be fun, but not as fun as biking.

I need to stretch out that leg soreness. It is not that bad, just a bit annoying. Perhaps I can line up a table massage soon and get it worked on.

This morning, I have a creepy meeting at work. After that, though, it is smooth sailing until gig time. If all goes well, I will be able to ditch this place a little early and have more time to set up gear at the venue. If all does not go well then the band can just go pound sand up their arses.

I am going to bike commute tomorrow. I have been doing the long route lately and it is super fun. I see so many smug-producing compatriots on the bike path and I feel like I am part of an elite group.

Time.

6.06.2012

10 Minutes - I Feel Like A Million Dollars

Hi. It's Joe.

I don't know what it is, but I feel awesome today. I am sure some of it is that I bike commuted in from the far east side, and working out is always a mood enhancer. I have joined a coworker in following a gluten free diet, which is supposed to be a mood enhancer too, but we are only a couple of days into it, so I am not certain that has anything to do with it.

Tonight I am going to the Barrymore Theater in Madison WI to see a documentary investigating the evidence for a conspiracy surrounding 911. While I am skeptical of both sides of the argument, I fully expect Dick Cheeney's S.S. guards to gas everyone in the theater. If I disappear mysteriously tomorrow, please educate yourself about WTC7. Because if I am gassed and disposed of, or even flown to a secret detention facility, you'll have enough circumstantial evidence that 911 was an inside job to pursue it.

If, however, I am around tomorrow, you can safely assume that it is not in fact me, but an animatronic replica of me manufactured by the Disney Corporation.

OK, moving on. I also have a chiropractic appointment tonight. I will be biking there, since it is on the way back to my car, parked on the east side. I don't want to be too sweaty when I get to the chiropractic office.

I hope I get back to my car in time to score some dinner at the Blue Plate Diner across from the Barrymore Theater before the film. They have a vegan walnut burger there that is superb.

Time.

6.04.2012

10 Minutes - Greasing the Wheels

Hi. It's Joe.

I unselfishly helped out a friend this past week. That always feels good. I can't go into any details just now, but I will when the results are in. Or maybe I won't. I just can't say. Is that cryptic enough for you?

I am going to get slightly outside my comfort zone and enroll in a mini course via the UW on publishing e-books for Kindle. The course itself is not until October 15, or as I like to say, Rocktober 15. I probably shouldn't like saying that as much as I do and it is probably in violation of High Metal Council regulations to even use the term Rocktober for things that aren't specifically rock music related. However, my rationale here is that if I take this course I will be rocking on my way to e-book superstardom. Also, having October 15 as an arbitrary deadline in my head will be good for working toward completion of my book idea on corporate work-life balance and general wellness when working for THE MAN. It's going to be a fun read and not too long either; good for the instant gratificaysh society we live in.

The reason taking this course is slightly, but not too far, outside my comfort zone is that registration requires UW Union membership. I actually don't have an issue with that per se, because membership has a lot of perks, but yet another organization will have my contact info and probably relentlessly hound me for more money.

But I am going to do it, because I need to push the boundaries of my comfort zone periodically. I'd be doing so a lot sooner, but the other course I want to take is 5 weeks long and one of those weeks is RAGBRAI, so I will miss 20% of the class. That one is on Indie e-book writing and marketing, also useful. I wish I could do it. Maybe next time.

Writing for Kindle seems a little more legit to me anyway, but that's probably a subjective perception due to the credence that Amazon has vs. the lame indie e-books that are out there.

Time.

6.03.2012

10 Minutes - Another Fun Foosballing and Rocking Time

Hi. It's Joe.

I am spent from a full afternoon of house concert rocking and foosball playing. I just cannot tell you how much I enjoy, and indeed prefer, performing low volume rock-n-roll house concerts for a room full of happy and appreciative people. I realize it is hard to get people accustomed to this type of music venue, with free food and drink, but I don't really care. I like it, and so do the people who come. Eventually it will catch on. I think some people are shy, and maybe don't realize how welcoming it is, even if you come alone, as a couple people did.

I made a vat of chili for the shindig. It turned out amazingly well. I would almost say it was one of the best batches to date. It was bison chili and it had some warmth from a jalapeno pepper that I sauteed into the base of olive oil, onions, celery, and garlic. I used a variety of different spices, and even if I told you which ones, which I won't (family secret), it wouldn't help because I kind of wing it on spices and it is a little different every time, but always good. That was a run on sentence.

I will tell you that a key ingredient is black pepper. Use a ton of it and your chili will be remarkably good. The only salt I used came from the cajun seasoning and garlic salt I used (ok, that's two of the spices I used, but actually quite minor ones).

My mom made a black bean and corn salad that was exceptional. The house concert attendees brought a variety of snacks, so we had plenty. GUPPY EFFECT drummer Mike brought some home brew and so did my buddy Adam. Both home brews were excellent. Mike's was more of a hoppy pale ale and Adam's was a sweeter style of amber ale. I need to make some homebrew.

We had some good foosball matches, while the Dropkick Murphys played on SPOTIFY.

I hope you'll come to the next house concert, whenever and wherever it is. Real good times to be had by all.

Time.

6.02.2012

10 Minutes - Foosball and Acoustic Rock-n-Roll

Hi. It's Joe.

Tomorrow (as I write this...but probably today as you read it) one of the coolest rock-n-roll shows is going to happen and chances are you won't hear about it on TV or the Internet. There will be free beer and foosball games, chili and snacks, followed by a couple of hours of amazing acoustic rock-n-roll hosted by GUPPY EFFECT v2.0. If you are lucky, you will be able to see this rocking and play some foosball yourself. You see, I am hosting a rock-n-roll house party.

The great thing about house parties is that you can have one whenever you want. Everyone who comes will be a friend, or maybe a friend of a friend. The atmosphere is cozy and fun. Because everyone brings something to share, there is a ton of food and drink, all free.

As a musician, hosting house parties has a lot of benefits. We can set our own gig dates and there is minimal gear haulage and setup, because most of it is at my house the whole time.

I am addicted to house concerts. Honestly, I don't care if I ever play at a crappy bar again. I probably will, but because I want to, not because I have to. I would rather perform for a handful of fun-loving people who appreciate what I and the band are doing than a room full of despondent nobodies who can't appreciate awesomeness.

Honestly, house concerts should be illegal. Clearly, the crappy bar lobby does not have much influence in politics, or they would be. House concerts prove that the world does not need crappy bars in order to have local live music. Now crappy bars can be relegated back to the function they are good at, serving drinks. They are not good at hosting music, with rare exceptions (and don't get me wrong, those exceptions should be supported).

I have been practicing jazz piano, but I have hit a plateau. I do not think my music theory knowledge is quite good enough for my current assignment. I won't go into the details of it, but I am trying to work through it. I am going to practice first thing in the morning tomorrow, before I start making my famous chili and getting ready for the house concert. If you appreciate good-arsed music and are cool, you are certainly welcome to come to the house concert on Sunday. The rocking starts about 4 but we will be playing foosball and socializing as early as 2 PM.

Congratulations to all the MAMAs winners partying in Madison tonight. You all are welcome to come to the party on Sunday too, if you are not partied out, but you may be asked to play one or two of your songs (low volume and acoustically, of course...the neighbor is a sheriff!).

Recall that Van Halen got their start performing house concerts. I should have done this years ago. I'd be famous by now. Not that I want to be. But I would be.

Time.

6.01.2012

10 Minutes - The World Needs Writers

Hi. It's Joe.

Writers, such as myself, have a particularly good eye for detail. Can you find the somewhat humorous typo on the attached FourSquare screen shot? If there is no attached FourSquare screen shot, it just means I have not uploaded it yet. Check back momentarily. I am typing this on my phone and the image I need is still on my computer. But if it is here, leave a comment.



This weekend will be fun. As you know, I am treating it like my Memorial Day, a week late. That way there will be less people and insane drivers to deal with. You know what I am talking about.

Tonight I need to practice a lot of piano. Tomorrow I will take my mom and pops to Madison WI for the Farmers Market and a leisurely bike ride around Lake Monona. Then we can perhaps take my dad out for his birthday. He will be 75.

Have you noticed there has been a lot of zombistic cannibalism in the news lately. Humans never catch on to zombie invasions until it is far too late. You would think when cops encounter someone eating another man's face, and the assailant "growls" at the police before they shoot him, that maybe something is afoot. Oh well, they will deal with it soon enough, but too late as always.

Time.