11.27.2012

10 Minutes - You Know What Tuesday Is?

Hi. It's Joe.

Tuesday is the preamble to Wednesday's HIATVS band practice.A nd that's awesome.

This week we will be attempting to add a record three (3) new songs to our set list.

They are, in no particular order (actually, they are in order of likelihood of biff free performance):

"Chop Suey" by System of a Down

"Whip It" by DEVO

and

"Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake

I cannot believe that System of a Down's MP3 download of "Chop Suey" is $1.29. I mean, they are a good band and all, but not better than a lot of bands selling just as good of songs for $0.99 cents. Well, whatever, more power to 'em. I got the song free on SPOTIFY, so honey badger don't give a @#$%.

Time.

11.26.2012

20 Minutes - When is Hanukkah 2012 (A Cyber Monday Post)?

Hi. It's Joe.

My main issue with Black Friday is not the blind consumerism. I am a realist, and I know that people are slaves to fashion and tradition. The issue I have with it is how angry it has become. the poor treatment of slave labor (minimum wage retail workers), fighting for parking and products, random shootings, etc.

I have less issues with Cyber Monday. Hanukkah starts on December 8, 2012. That's soon and it's also 8 days of religious celebrating and, for some, gifting with each lighting of a menorah candle.

Cyber Monday let's you buy things online, at your own pace. You can even order gift wrapping and add personalized notes. You do almost no work and put a bunch of people into jobs doing the work for you. This is one way that modern technology saves us from the zombie hordes of shoppers at the malls.

My musical endeavors are also underwritten (to an extraordinarily small degree) by Cyber Monday. It's really not enough to bias me toward supporting Cyber Monday, but in full disclosure, I am not going to lie to you. The way it works is that I am registered as an "affiliate marketer" with AMAZON. All this means is that when one of my blog posts directs someone to AMAZON and they subsequently buy something, I get credit for the referral, in the form of a 4% kickback on the purchase price. This is paid for by AMAZON, not the consumer.

So, the way I look at it, I am really sticking it to THE MAN whenever I refer someone to AMAZON. THE MAN would probably discourage you from appreciating my musical endeavors, which are fiercely anti-THE MAN. But HE doesn't care, because in the end all that matters to THE MAN is the almighty dollar.

I suppose one could argue that the cost of the affiliate marketing kickbacks is passed on to the consumer in higher prices generally, in the future, but that's true whether I affiliate market for AMAZON or not.

If you are like Honey Badger, and don't give a @#$% about THE MAN, but do give a @#$% about supporting my awesome rock-n-roll bands and decent song writing, CLICK HERE before you shop online today and leading up to the holidays. It will make you feel a little bit better about your blind consumerism knowing that you are supporting something authentic, genuine, and good. It counteracts the downward spiral of quality in America.

Time.

11.25.2012

10 Minutes - Power Walking and Sympathy for People

Hi. It's Joe.

In a little while, I have GUPPY EFFECT v2.0 band practice. I think we are going to learn "Cities on Flame (With Rock-n-Roll)" by Blue Oyster Cult, but I am not sure if the rest of the band is on the same page. We spoke of doing it, but it was unclear if those guys were going to pre-learn the song at home to streamline the learning of it, so we can focus on honing the nuances of it at band practice.

The song isn't hard, but it is tight and it has nuances. It's not especially wingable. The riff has to be played correctly by bass and guitar, in unison. The drums have key fills. There's a very awesome breakdown at the end that can't be faked.

I have to say, the lyrics of this song illustrate that a song can rock and have completely senseless and weak lyrics. I have often felt that Blue Oyster Cult was not a band that took lyrics seriously. They work, but the vocals are treated as more of an instrumental contribution than a lyrical one. This means they can put more effort into rocking, which they do. I have no complaints with BOC as a rock-n-roll band. They pretty much bring the thunder.

I did some bass guitar practice this morning to learn "Cities on Flame," and I think I nailed it. Then I went on a three (3) mile power walk. I was very disheartened when I did not see a single soul out enjoying this sunny crisp day. All I saw were people driving SUVs and I heard some distant landscaping machinery. I feel bad for humanity. You know, people, humanity is not going to save itself. You have to do your part. That means getting off your ass and enjoying the outdoors on a fall day like today. Soon it is going to be winter and then you will be stuck indoors, regretting you did not take more advantage of the good weather when you could. Fools.

Well, I have to go pick Buddy up from the kennel in an hour. Hopefully, they groomed him while he was there last week, during my trip to Ohio. Then I am going to practice a few more rock songs before band practice at 6 PM.

Time.

11.24.2012

10 Minutes - The Evidence for Evolution

Hi. It's Joe.

I have this computer program called Market Samurai. I don't use it as often as I should, but tonight I used it. It basically runs an algorithm that finds good search keywords to use on web pages to generate traffic to your site. Some people use it exploitatively, but I just use it to attract a little attention to blog posts. Market Samurai will generate a list of keywords based on a keyword topic you give it. Then it will sort and analyze the keywords based on how many people search for a given keyword and how much click through traffic (visits to a site) the keyword generates. But that's not all. It also analyzes the competition, all the other sites that also garner traffic by using that keyword. It shows you the top 10 sites that Google will list when someone searches that keyword phrase.

I wanted to write a post about evolution. So I typed "evolution" into Market Samurai. After analyzing the keywords and the competition, I discovered three or four good keyword phrases and set about writing my post, trying to pepper these phrases into it. It's kind of like vocabulary class in elementary school, where you have to use a word in a sentence. Only here, it is a full keyword phrase.

The first keyword phrase I found that looked good was "evidence of evolution." The next main one was "darwin theory of evolution." What I just did right there is called backlinking. That first phrase links to the version of my evolution post on Blogger and the second links to the version on Posterous. In a couple of minutes, I am going to create some backlinks between the Blogger and Posterous posts to give them a little more potency in the search engines. It's a long story but not a complicated one. Suffice it to say, I expect more people will see my post this way than if I had not "optimized" it with traffic attracting keywords.

Naturally, I tweaked the keyword phrases a little bit to make them make sense. I used "Darwin's Theory of Evolution" as the modified keyword phrase, thinking Google might overlook the minor nuanced difference. Another good keyword phrase was "evolution timeline." I made reference to a Richard Dawkins book called "The Ancestor's Tale," which gives a good overview of the evolutionary timeline between modern humans and the earliest microbes billions of years ago. He illustrates it in a neat way, working backward through all the 40 branch points on the stem of the tree off life that we are on. Well, I won't bore you with details. Go read the post.

Time.

20 Minutes - French Press Coffee and Imperial Japan


Hi. It's Joe.

I just got back to Wisconsin from Ohio after a decent 4 days visiting the family for Thanksgiving.

Cleverly, I drove back on Saturday of the Thanksgiving long weekend to avoid both the Black Friday hordes and the maniacal holiday travelers on Sunday. This plan worked marvelously. There were still a handful of douchebags on the road, but they had no excuse to thwart me, because all lanes of the roadways were wide open. There was virtually no traffic, not even around Chicago. So they'd speed past me at 90, and then a few miles down the road I'd see them pulled over by cops (who were out in force). Honey Badger wasn't in any hurry. So I just cruised along at a skitch over the posted speed limit and enjoyed the journey. I made it back in 8 hours, with two quick stops for gas and micturation.

I came up I-294 through Chicago and then stayed on I-94 West (bypassing Milwaukee on I-894) to Johnson Creek, WI. I took new Highway 26 down to Highway 18 because it's 65 mph now and bypasses Jefferson, WI. Then it was just the usual 10 minutes on 18 to home. Sweet way to go, and I highly recommend it. I will have to remember it. I wouldn't recommend going through Chicago during any high traffic periods though. Going out to Ohio, I took Highway 12 down to Richmond, IL and then Highway 173 east to I-94 and I-294 on a Monday and also avoided a lot of traffic by going through Chicago during midday.

Most of the time, to avoid Chicago, I shoot down I-39 to La Salle, IL and hook up with I-80 East the whole way to Ohio. That's a longer distance, but a smoother ride, with fewer tolls.

Anyway, you're not still reading this I hope. But if you are, my parents sent me home with a sweet single cup French Press Coffee Mug, which they got as a prize for donating to NPR. They don't drink a lot of coffee, so they thought I would make more use of it. I am looking forward to testing it out tomorrow. Here it is...


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They gave me the whole bean 8 O'Clock Coffee too. Not bad stuff. Actually kind of damn good.
While I was home, I sat my mom and pops down for more interviews for the biographical memoirs I am going to write. I got a lot of good information, especially about the 1960s, leading up to the birth of my sister and me in the late 60s. Nuggets of gold, I tell you. GOLD!

My mom also got me involved in a discussion about Imperial Japan, leading up to World War 2 and beyond. She lent me a few books on the subject, which are very interesting.

Time.

11.23.2012

10 Minutes - When Black Friday Comes

Hi. It's Joe.

I love ready-made blog post topics. That's why I love America's most sacred secular celebration of blind consumerism, Black Friday. I am reminded of the great scene in Men in Black, when Tommy Lee Jones sums up the human condition.

Black Friday is the perfect illustration of the dichotomy between individual and group psychology. The individual human being knows that Black Friday is an atrocity, painful, frustrating, alienating, soul-sucking, and wrong. But the group still blindly engages in it. That has to mean that a proportion of individuals turn off their brains and, zombie-like, join the Black Friday shopping hordes. They have to willfully suspend their disbelief that the experience will be anything but destructive to the soul, screw their courage to the sticking post (as Shakespeare might...and did...say), and enter the fray.

I boycotted Black Friday a long time ago. Even so, there is a small irrational voice in my head telling me that it is un-American to not participate in this travesty. Even as I am consciously aware that Black Friday is actually an affront to good (and presumably American) values, I can't help but wonder if not participating in the blind consumerism is somehow responsible for all the small problems in my life, like idiots at work, a lack of a girlfriend, and transient gastrointestinal pain. When I use reason, I understand that avoiding Black Friday actually improves my moral and ethical character, but disenfranchises me from the greater American whole.

I rise above, but I leave most of the population behind. In a sense, abandoning the Black Friday ritual lifts me up. But it is lonely at the top.

But I have found a solution that allows me to avoid shopping and driving, while contributing to the shopping frenzy of others, and thus fulfilling my obligation to the American way. It is THIS.

Time.

11.22.2012

10 Minutes - Crazy Dreams

Hi. It's Joe.

I had weird dreams last night. I am not sure why that was. Well, I should clarify. I probably have weird dreams all the time, I just don't remember them. So what I am not sure of is why I remembered them last night. I slept really well in any case.

I am getting a lot better about anxiety reduction. When I get worked up about something, I am now able to just let it go. If I can't do anything about it, or it would be too taxing on me to try, I just resolve to put it out of my mind, and to the extent possible, my life.

After the first of the year, we are going to start a massive documentation project at work where we will totally revise all documentation and processes. There is a right way to do it and a wrong way. My guess is they will choose the wrong way, based on recent examples. But I don't care. I will be happy to tell them what the right way is, but if they choose the easy way out, I am not going to get worked up about it. I am going to let it go. The fateof the company does not rest on my shoulders. If they choose the wrong path, I will feel sorry for them, but that is all. I have peace of mind in knowing that I told them what they needed to do. I can't make them listen. They haven't listened yet and there is no reason to think they will.

Today is my sister's last day in Ohio. She flies out this afternoon. I just got up and I have to see about satisfying immediate needs like coffee and maybe some eggs.

Time.

11.21.2012

10 Minutes - Amazon Gift Cards Saving Me From Fear and Loathing on Black Friday

Hi. It's Joe.

My sister's birthday is on November 29th. That's unfortunately close to Black Friday, most years. In the old days, that would mean fighting traffic, finding parking, and dealing with hateful people practicing their blind consumerism. I don't subscribe to that system anymore. In less than five (5) minutes, from the comfort of a chair (this one at my parents' house in Ohio), I can use my laptop to generate an Amazon Gift Card.

That's what I did. My sister is turning 43. When I turned 43 in January 2011, I wrote a song about it, because 43 is a prime number. So in addition to the gift card (for $43 dollars), I sent her a link to the song. I asked my sister what she wanted for her birthday. She said she did not want anything. That was, of course, a lie. She just didn't necessarily want anything from me. But that's foolishness. She is my sister and it is her birthday. So when pressed, she told me she wanted some kind of art book. The title was French or something and I didn't even understand what she said, but I asked her if it was available on Amazon. She said she was planning to buy it on Amazon and so I told her I would get her an Amazon gift card. I asked her how much the book was. She didn't know but told me to just get her a gift card for whatever amount and she would apply it, or some portion of it, to the book purchase. So I cleverly made the gift card for $43 because she is turning 43.

It was so quick and easy to set up on Amazon and have them e-mail her the gift code. Gift cards in general are awesome. It lets people buy what they want and if there is a balance left over, they can buy other people gifts with the extra money.

I will have to give my sis my Amazon Affiliate code so anything she purchases can send a kickback, via Amazon, to my musical endeavors.

Time.

11.20.2012

5 Minutes - Power Naps Are Fun

Hi. It's Joe.

I took a big power nap this afternoon. It was good, and well deserved after hiking around the Ledges National Park in Peninsula OH. We took my niece and nephew Millie and Ty to the Ice Box Caves, where the Elven adventure, "The Gauntlets of Ogre Power," took place. CLICK HERE to see the tale.

You aren't actually allowed to go into the caves anymore because the bats that live there have the white nose syndrome, and they think it is somehow spread by humans. But actually, that is just the mundane real world cover story. The Elves like to keep their kingdom protected from intruders, ever since the Ogre incident, which was resolved successfully by my niece and nephew when they were six years old (fictionally).

It was cool to take Ty and Millie to see where the story took place. After you read it, check out these pictures, upon which the story was based.

The Secret Elven Doorknobs

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The Ogre Tree

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A Gauntlet of Ogre Power (discovered by Millie)

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The Elven Kingdom

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11.19.2012

5 Minutes - Do the Opposite (DTO): Part 2

Hi. It's Joe.

Again.

Try doing the opposite sometimes. It's not going to work in every circumstance, but sometimes it will.

I tend to be a little bit shy sometimes. That might come across as standoffish to people who don't know me. Actually, I don't know how it comes across. But sometimes I tend to be quiet when I would probably be better off just getting out of my comfort zone and getting to know a complete stranger. Sometimes, I have to do the opposite of what my brain is telling me. And many times it pays off. Not always. But sometimes you have to take a chance, especially when staying in your comfort zone isn't going to get you where you need to be. Getting out of your comfort zone might not get you there either.

But you can't win the lottery if you never buy a ticket. So buy a ticket, even when it seems futile. Experiment.

Time.

10 Minutes - Do the Opposite (DTO)

Hi. It's Joe.

Sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone and do the opposite of what you think you should do. This is most important when the behavior that you normally do is not producing the results you want. Another good time to do it is when everyone else is doing the same thing. Do the opposite of what they do, and sometimes you'll succeed. This is mostly true when it comes to creative ventures.

For example, in music, which I do a lot of, there is a lot of what I like to call "group think." Every musician jumps on a bandwagon that they think will lead them to success. The problem is, EVERYONE else is also on the bandwagon and there just isn't room for everyone to get a ride. That's when it sometimes pays off to get OFF the bandwagon.

A classic example of this is the elusive "record deal." Even in this post-music biz world when music is more prevalent than ever, many musicians still think their objective is to get signed to a record deal. A record deal has almost never been a good deal for any band who has ever gotten one. A few artists have done OK with a record deal, but you can probably count them on one hand. Record deals are totally exploitative and designed to maximize record label profits at artist expense. By the time the record label recoups all their up front costs on you, you might still owe them money, if you are an artist that doesn't sell a huge number of records. DIY (Do It Yourself) is the way to go in this day and age. Build a social network of people who actually know you and respect/like your music, and do it for them. Yourself. It's never been easier to record a song or an album. Studio time costs money, but never as much money as a record label will suck out of you. Plus, when you record it yourself, you own it 100%. That is, if it is original music. You are the songwriter and the publisher. Nobody else gets a cut (except your co-writers if you wrote the song(s) as part of a collaborative effort or a band).

Another example of bandwagonry is the COVER BAND. Most live bands that want to make money playing venues are cover bands. They learn a bunch of popular songs that everyone knows, and they use the popularity of the songs to land themselves bar gigs and generate a following. The problem is, they are all doing the same schtick, and there is a law of diminishing returns. You are competing with all the other cover bands doing the same thing you are doing. How can you compete? You have to find a unique niche to exploit, that no one else is exploiting and exploit it.

My cover band HIATVS has found such a niche. Instead of competing with every other cover band for shitty bar gigs late at night, we perform our own rock-n-roll house concerts. The venue is always available (one of our houses, or a friend's house) and it's inviting, comfortable, and clean. We set our own dates and times. We decide what songs we want to play. And promoting the shows is a breeze. We just tell all our friends we are having a rock concert at someone's house and it is going to be fun. Plus, the food and beer is free, whether we do it as a BYOB potluck or we run a Kickstarter fund drive ahead of time.

I shouldn't advertise this unique rock-n-roll venue that my band has discovered. We don't want other bands to jump on OUR bandwagon. But honestly, unless those other bands have a lot of the same friends as us, it isn't really going to compete against us. Not for a long while anyway.

Time.

11.18.2012

10 Minutes - A Successful Rock-n-Roll House Concert

Hi. It's Joe.

The rock-n-roll house concert at Stefan's last night was awesome. I made a goat sacrifice to the Rock Gods, and they appear to have smiled upon my band HIATVS as a result. Of course, no goats or animals of any kind were actually harmed, although this cannot be said of the Wisconsin deer hunt, which is going on now. Humans are a peculiar species when it comes to humane treatment of animals. When it comes to entertainment, harming or killing animals is taboo and strictly forbidden. But when it comes to making venison stew, a little willful suspension of morality wins the day. Everything is relative, I suppose.

But what is absolute is that HIATVS rocked a great house concert. Stefan rocked some of his solo original songs as an opening set and they were superb. I love Stefan's songs and I will be one of the first people to buy his record when it comes out. I would also be honored to session some bass guitar for him in the studio if he should need it. It looks like GUPPY EFFECT v1.0 with Stefan and Peter will be reuniting for a Phoenix Park Bandshell show next July. That will probably end up being our annual reunion show. GUPPY EFFECT v2.0 does not practice again until next Sunday, a week from today. Weather permitting, I will be back from Ohio on Saturday, with ample time to prep for the rehearsal. Conversely, I am not really sure what we are rehearsing. It might be new songs. If it is, then I want to add "Cities On Flame" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Time.

11.16.2012

10 Minutes - Texture of the Wireless Keyboard

Hi. It's Joe.

I thoroughly enjoy typing blog posts on my wireless keyboard. This has nothing to do with the fact that it's wireless, although it is nice to be able to put the keyboard on my lap when I type (more ergonomic). It is actually because this wireless keyboard has a great touch texture. There is probably an actual term for this, but that's mine. The keys just have a resilience to my fingers that I like.

That reminds me of a band name I once thought of, rife with double entendre: "The Hunt 'n' Peckers." It's more of a verbal double entendre, than a written one. It's also not a very good one. But there you go.

So, I once again have to heap derision upon the private health insurance industry. It's actually nothing they did, and I actually should heap some of the derision upon my employer (you know I have no problem with that) and our entire society for not supporting a single-payer system. Here's why...

I get health insurance through my employer. The health insurance provider they used this past year offered decent services. I don't put a heavy load on the health care system, being relatively healthy, as I am. But I did need some specialty care, and I built a good relationship with the specialist doctor. Now, as my employer goes into its open enrollment period for benefits, they are going to change our health insurance provider. This new provider does not cover my specialist. More specifically, they do not have a business relationship with the hospital system that my specialist works with.

Now, unless I want to pay exorbitant prices (I don't), I am going to have to find a new specialist in this area that is covered by the new plan provider. That means building a new relationship with a new specialist, getting all my health records transferred to the new specialist, and basically deleting the history and rapport I have developed with my current specialist. And the worst part? No more nurse Katie (my specialist's nurse assistant is a phenomenal babe...).

That is complete bullshit. We need a health care system that covers all health providers and maintains continuity of care.

I'll live. But it is stressful to make changes beyond one's control, and stress is correlated with health problems. So because of our poor health insurance system, American health insurers are actually increasing their costs over time. And we wonder why our health costs are increasing faster than GDP.

Time.

11.12.2012

10 Minutes - Not Afraid to be Outspoken

Hi. It's Joe.

A lot of people are afraid to be outspoken about some things, especially if they are controversial. Not me, man. I think I got that from my mom.

At work, a lot of people have stopped caring and have become despondent because their initial input after the corporate buyout, even though it was accurate and spot on, was ignored, or even denigrated by upper management. But I am on a #*!%ing mission. It's a single minded goal and I look for every opportunity to zing it, no matter how outspoken it is or how much people roll their eyes at me for harping on something there is almost no chance of upper management seeing value in.

I am actually surprised that my non-caring and despondent coworkers are so silent. This is the best time to be outspoken. You don't give a #*@% and you've got nothing to lose. I guess people have some irrational fear that if they speak up they will be reprimanded or fired. I don't know where that comes from. But even if it were true, which it isn't, if I somehow got fired, it would be a blessing, at least on the short term. When you don't care anymore and become despondent, it's time to get out. Optimally, I would secure another job first, but unemployment is totally fine for paying the bills on the short term. Plus, I would have free time for creative endeavoors that THE MAN usurps most of my time for now, while I sought new work.

Anyway, opportunity knocked once again for me to be outspoken at work about the one thing I am single-mindedly on about. I don't need to go into what that is, but suffice to say, management solicited us to submit process efficiencies that could improve the company immediately. So I proposed mine. It surely does improve the company dramatically, even if management doesn't see it that way. It was management that got us into this mess though, so if they really want to improve things and aren't just blowing smoke up our asses, they should maybe at least listen to us. I don't even care if they ignore my proposal. But they should listen to some people, because if they push back on our ideas, then their solicitation for ideas is a sham.

I got to my piano lesson early, which is why I had time to write all that.

Time.

11.11.2012

30 Minutes - Creativity Sunday

Hi. It's Joe.

It's windy but warm out today. Warm for mid-November that is - the proverbial Indian Summer. I don't know if there is an actual proverb about that. Probably not. In any case, it would be a good day to take Buddy over to the dog park again for some free range exercise.

I should probably do that before I start Creativity Sunday, because once I start creating, I might get sucked in. I would like to track a new recording of my song ROUNDHOUSE using my living room recording studio today. I also want to get a ton of jazz piano practice in before GUPPY EFFECT band practice tonight. But that isn't until 7:30 PM at the earliest, so there are boatloads of time between then and now.

That got me thinking, a guy (or girl) could do a lot of creating in a 7 hour block of time. I think there is far too little creating in this world. Mostly, this is because people are working for THE MAN, and if they are working 40 hours or more of full time work, they are very unlikely to find themselves with even a 4 hour block of pure creation time, much less 7 or 8 hours. The only time this might happen is on the weekends. But of course, the weekends are now for catching up on all the responsibilities you didn't do during the week, because THE MAN was harshing your gig.

Just think if we only had to work 20 hours a week.

This would solve a lot of problems for the working man, though it would be unfavorable to THE MAN.

First of all, you could divide up your 20 hours in a more reasoned and logical fashion to work around your free time schedule. You would have more flexibility of time to work around the weather, say to do yard work or other outdoor activities.

Maybe you would want to work two 10-hour days and get all your work done for the week, then spend the other 5 days self-actualizing and making the world better through creativity.

Maybe you'd prefer to do four 5-hour days. This would work really well for some businesses that need people on staff multiple days of the week. I'll get to more on that in a minute.

I will tell you a little secret. A lot of people are going to yell at me for disclosing this truth. They are in denial, but it's true. At most corporate workplaces, people don't even come close to doing 5 hours of actual productive work in a day. Between meetings and answering e-mails and micromanaging visits from idiotic middle managers who want to appear like they are actually useful, most people are lucky if they crank out 4 hours of productive work in a day.

I will put my reputation on the line, even though it is the absolute truth, and say that if I can get 4 hours of focused, uninterrupted work done in a day, I am far ahead of my co-workers. It's all the minutiae, the interruptions, the meetings, the stupidity that nickel and dime away a person's productivity. In a 5-hour work day, you could spend one hour doing bullshit, useless tasks or meetings (honestly, no meeting should be longer than 30 minutes...if you can't say what you need to say in 30 minutes, shut the F up, go back to your desk and re-organize your thoughts, because you are clearly unprepared!), and the other four hours doing focused, uninterrupted work.

This would take some discipline, of course. You'd have to avoid the temptation to surf the web or answer e-mails. But, come on, the reason you get distracted by those things now is because the work day is just far too long. 8 or 9 hours without a break is crazy. You almost have to get distracted to break up the monotony. With all the free time you would have under my 20 hours per week model, you'd get all that stuff out of your system during your free time.

My model also helps to alleviate the unemployment problem. Some companies, the unproductive ones, would hire more people to fill in for the fewer hours of the current employees. Honestly, if their current employees can't do all their productive work in 20 hours, they should be fired. But if adding more people gives you a commensurate increase in productivity to meet customer demand, do it. You employ more people, who are happier, more productive, and less stressed because of the free time they will have.

People will lambast me and say that employers can't afford the extra people. They can though, if there is enough customer demand for whatever product they are making and the new employees increase the productivity in a direct way. There is a point of diminishing returns, but if you are hitting that, then you are already saturating the customer demand for the product and there is no need to hire more people.

Even if you paid the current employees the same for working less and producing the same output in less time, you would save a ton on infrastructure. I am amazed by how much electricity and water my company uses in a day. You could use far less if there was less time when people were in the workplace. You could even totally shutdown on Wednesday or Friday or whatever and seriously reduce utility costs.

If a company decided it could hire more people and gain more customers as a result, they would have to think about benefits. That cost might double if you didn't plan it right. But again, if adding twice as many people doubles your profit because the customer demand is there, it's not really an issue. But you could also shop for group plans to cover more people with a lower premium.

I am not saying my system would work. I am saying it could work, if carefully thought out, and the benefits to humanity would be priceless. People would be happier and less likely to go on gun rampages, people would be less stressed and thus less likely to get chronic diseases or need medical care (benefits), people would have more free time to exercise and eat right (no need for fast food, and the biggest excuse people give for not exercising right now is lack of time, which they would have tons of under my model...any lack of exercise in my system is pure laziness).

But most of all, people could have more time to educate themselves and create. In our busy world, few people make time for reading, writing, doing art or music, going to museums or lectures or films. There's a good example of synergy in my model right there. With more people finding time to go to films, movie theaters could hire more people working fewer hours. They don't even have to pay benefits, because it is mostly minimum wage jobs.

Time.

11.10.2012

10 Minutes - Martin Atkins and Kickstarter

Hi. It's Joe.

Today I attended a free workshop about Kickstarter, presented by Martin Atkins. Well, it wasn't really a workshop. It was a seminar. But it was free and Martin is hilarious. Some people who use the F word 5 times in every sentence get old fast, but Martin has somehow capitalized on this niche and it works. He is a lot like Ozzy Osbourne, in personality, only way more cogent.

I posted a link to a "Kickstarter for Dummies" book over there, as you can plainly see. I have no idea if it's any good. But even if it is, don't buy it. Instead, see if you can find out where Martin Atkins is giving his next Kickstarter seminar and go to it. It was awesome. A lot of what he said, I kind of already knew, as far as the nuts and bolts of the platform. But he gave me a lot of creative ideas for my next House Concert project that money can't buy. You should still click on the "Kickstarter for Dummies" thumbnail over there, because in full disclosure, it helps support this blog and all my other endeavors, albeit only a tiny bit, but at no cost to you. It will just stick a temporary 72 hour cookie on your computer, and if you should happen to buy anything at Amazon in that time window, Amazon will credit me a small kickback. It's a percentage of the profit margin, not an extra cost to you. The latter would be totally uncool. This way is cool, and is just a way for Amazon to thank me for sending people to their site. I mean, Christmas is coming. Some of you are going to buy stuff from Amazon, because its quick and easy and avoids the malls. So just click the thumbnail and close whatever new web browser window opens up. Then forget about it. Chances are you will inadvertently buy something on Amazon within the next three days and you passively support my musical and creative activities with your blind consumerism.

Time.

10 Minutes - A Pretty Standard Saturday

Hi. It's Joe.

This is a pretty standard Saturday I have laid out before me. I am at Barriques on Park St in Madison, reading "The Extended Phenotype" by Richard Dawkins, while sipping decaf with soy milk. In about an hour, I will be at the Madison Music Foundry for a free workshop on Kickstarter fundraising. That will go for a couple of hours and I should be home by about 1 pm or so. Then I will take Buddy to the dog park and get some exercise for us both (I think three times around the dog park loop is about 3 miles).

The rest of the afternoon will probably be consumed with a goodly amount of music practice, especially piano. My goal is to make some headway on the Oscar Peeterson solo in "Bag's Groove." It's coming along. I can figure out a lot of the notes. It is just being able to play the notes that is the challenge.

I think SUNSPOT might be playing a show or something tonight. If so, I will probably hit that. Well, I had best get back to reading my Dawkins book. It's not going to read itself. Wouldn't it be cool if books could read themselves, and then like somehow translate the info into your brain? That would greatly expedite things. I guess the current situation is a bit like that. A book can't really read itself without the catalyst that is the reader. OK, way too deep for a Saturday morning.

Time.

11.08.2012

10 Minutes - Are They Ill Tempered?

Hi. It's Joe.

I have been in rare form lately. I don't know what my problem is, but I have been extremely ill-tempered around mediocrity and weak sauce lately. The problem is, there is a ton of that going on at work, so it takes all my effort to contain myself from lambasting people. I am still pretty peeved about the guy who came to work drunk at 9 in the morning. Jesus, it does not get much weaker than that.

Anyway, I've been giving crappy drivers what for too. I commute to work during non-rush hour times, to avoid the douchiest of douches who think the world revolves around them. I have no patience for traffic when I commute. That's why I purposefully commute during off peak hours. And that works great. Nobody gets hurt. The only thing I can't stand is tailgaters. This is especially true of the morning commute. I drive to work after most people are already at work. Set aside the fact that you have three lanes to choose from, all of which are moving at a decent speed, if you are in such a hurry then you should leave home a little bit earlier. But the worst thing you can do is get behind me and ride my ass if your time is valuable. I am going to slow you way down. My rule with tailgaters is to slow down at least 3 mph. Most of you seem to be catching on and that's good.

See what I mean? I am just ill tempered. I have no idea why. I guess it's because of the mediocrity at work. My team is awesome. We kick ass and we produce quality work fast. When we encounter roadblocks like drunk coworkers who can't function, we don't really give a @#$%. Not our department. We do our jobs awesomely. So I guess I get a little ticked when the weak sauce f-sticks at work try to lay the blame for the roadblocks on my team. We are untouchable and our work is unimpeachable, consistently and without exception. Our boss knows this and he sees right through the nonsense these losers try to throw at us. It's just a pain in the arse to have to deal with that lameness day in and day out.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of quality people where I work. They appreciate what we do and they compliment us all the time. But the question is, why are the worthless khak nuggets still employed there? They pull the whole company down and when they try to blame their ineptitude on others, everyone soon sees right through it. They should just be cut loose. The quality of the entire company would improve and management would not have to be fighting with Quality Control all the time about how to pass off $h!t as quality work. I got no quarter for that.

I guess that's why I am not a manager. I'd be laying some of these people off left and right. But it does kind of point out that the problem here is bad management. Upper management does not recognize quality (or lack thereof). All they want is to get product out the door, and if that means tricking Quality Control into accepting mediocrity, that seems to be their mandate.

Time.

10 Minutes - Bottom of the Barrel

Hi. It's Joe.

I'm a pretty compassionate guy. When people have alcohol problems, I am understanding.

But that's not to say I want to work with a drunk person. At 9:15 the other morning, our token boozer at the office came into my cublicle reeking of vodka. I don't know if he was just sweating out the previous night's bender or if he had spiked his morning coffee. All I know is he was wasted.

And that's fine.

I really don't have a problem with people getting wasted if that is what they want to do.

Just, please, don't try to do any important work, especially if other people's lives are at stake. And mostly just don't bother me when you are drunk. There is no good that can come of that. There is no productive work that will get done when you are drunk, and there is no work I am going to do for you when you are too drunk to do it yourself.

So do us all a favor, call in a sick day and stay the f@ck home, OK?

This week has been heinous at work. It's times like these when you see the need for a team leader who understands the nature of the work you do. Before my company got bought out, my group was running like a well oiled machine. We had a team lead who was a phenomenal organizer and greaser of wheels. He could communicate with the engineers and devise processes to make everyone's lives literally 10 times easier.

Now they have re-organized everything, and I don't believe it would be an exxageration to say that they have made everything at least twice as hard as before. They seem to almost willfully create roadblocks and unnecessary processes to slow things down.

I would gladly accept the verdict that I am completely full of sh!t and don't know what I am talking about, if it wasn't for the fact that all of my co-workers (the sober ones at least) totally agree with me and say the same thing. Honestly, I don't give a crap. If they want to make things harder, that's fine. I'll get my work done, but I am not putting in overtime without a serious pay raise. They need to hire people to handle the sh!tstorm of extra work they are creating with their mindless, purposeless processes. And when I say "they," I am of course referring to upper management.

There has always been considerable douchebaggery in upper management at this company. But now it is cultivated and recognized as a virtue, so the inefficiencies are magnified in direct proportion to the imbecilic mediocrity that is rampant in management here.

I always like to receive compliments on my writing. Yesterday, I got a nice one. Something I had posted on Facebook, about aforementioned lush co-worker, struck a friend of mine really funny. I am glad. If I can make one or two people smile, I am happy.

Time.

11.05.2012

5 Minutes - Almost Over

Hi. It's Joe.

It's almost over. The Presidential election, that is. I personally cannot wait.

As I have said before, don't believe the hype about this election being close and dragging on for weeks. Mark my words, it will be decisive. One candidate will slam dunk it.

This is simple math. But if for some reason I am wrong, you can chastise me for it. The thing is, if the election is super close and drags on for weeks, there will be a revolution in America. I don't think the American psyche can take more of this nonsense.

It is supposed to be a cold wet day for voting tomorrow in Wisconsin. That bodes ill for Obama here. But the hurricane that slammed the east coast has lowered gas prices (does anyone know how that works?). Low gas proces favor the incumbent, even if he had nothing to do with the weather. But maybe he did have something to do with the weather. Conspiracy theory?

I can't figure out why gas prices go down when hurricanes hit the East Coast, but go up when they hit the Gulf Coast. It can't be simple supply and demand. Yes, there are a lot of people in the NYC area, and a lot of these people aren't consuming gas right now. But they are still demanding gas, as evidenced by the lines at gas stations. So if demand raises prices and lack of supply raises prices, why aren't they going up? Because you have both of those things going on, short supply and high demand.

So please leave a comment and educate me.

Time.

11.04.2012

10 Minutes- An Extra Hour

Hi. It's Joe.

Someone has got to do a better job of reminding people when the clocks change for daylight savings. I listen to public radio rather frequently, several times per day, and I did not hear mention one that this weekend was the clock "fall back" time. I am not too pissed off about it, because I generally have nothing going on on Sunday mornings. But the church people should be up in arms about it.

The only hint I got that it was this weekend was when a friend on Facebook said she liked having the extra hour to party at the bars. The drunkards are on top of it. That is not a comforting thought.

Anyway, I do have an extra hour to blow today. I think I am going to spend it on a power walk with Buddy here shortly after I finish this post. It's a crisp sunny fall day out, around 45 degrees.

I have GUPPY EFFECT practice today at 4 PM. I surely hope my band mates know about daylight savings. If they don't, they will be getting to my house an hour early and I probably won't be here. I am going to do some piano practice this afternoon and transcribe some of the finer details of the biographical interviews I did with my mom and pops a couple of weeks ago, to glean stuff that will be used for their memoirs.

That sounds like a pretty solid Sunday. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.

I am looking forward to voting on Sunday morning. I might get there 10 or 15 minutes before the doors open to secure a good spot in line. I hate elections. I also hate early voting, because I don't trust it. Who says they won't just throw my ballot in the trash. I like to see the machine tally my vote with my own eyes. It is sad that I trust no one when it comes to elections.

But you can thank Waukesha County for that.

Well, I had best get into action here if I am going to make anything of this day at all.

What are you up to? Leave a comment telling me how you might spend your free extra hour of today.

Time.

11.03.2012

10 Minutes - My Mechanic Rocks

-1793208498

Hi. It's Joe.

My mechanic Terry at Cambridge Automotive Repair (CAR) is the bomb. He'll fit me in for an oil change, while I wait, almost any time. He'll pull computer codes for me when the alarm bells on my dash start going off for no good reason, so I can go do some diagnostic research online. But best of all is the old school waiting room at the shop and it's circa 1972 decor. There is a coffee machine with a pile of styrofoam cups and a jar of non-dairy creamer, the contents of which are caked into little months-old chunks. It's fine though, since non-dairy creamer never goes bad. Whatever it is made of isn't consumed by any known microorganisms on planet earth. I am sure it isn't very good for human digestive tracts either, but I still use it when I am at Terry's gettting an oil change.

After my car gets its pick me up this morning, I am off to the east side of Madison to observe and assist with some home brewing at my buddy Adam's house. I don't drink much, but homebrew is one exception because it is homemade and microbial fermentation is cool. I wonder what they use for milk stout. Do they use actual milk? Or does it get its name from something else? And if it does use milk, could non-dairy creamer work as well?

I doubt it. It might kill the yeast.

Time.

11.02.2012

10 Minutes - Demoral of the Story

Hi. It's Joe.

It was a seriously demoralizing week at work this week, culminating with the after work social hour last night, at which I learned that a lot of my deepest fears and suspicions about upper management are totally true. I was wondering why many of the most talented people were leaving the company in droves. Now I know.

It's not that the company is imploding post corporate merger that bugs me. It is knowing that some of the quality peeps that are still at the company will, almost by necessity, soon be leaving. I mean think about it logically. As the net quality of the company plummets, the most talented and creative minds there are finding themselves drowning in a sea of mediocrity. There is no satisfaction in that.

Further, the mediocre people stay, because in a relative sense, their weak sauce appears to be strived for and rewarded at the company, causing quality to spiral downward even more. It's a spiral of doom and if the corporate overlords had really wanted to improve quality, they would have done things differently. That leads me to conclude that this is a planned failure, to justify the liquidation and selling off of our company, upper management's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

I think that is where I am finding myself, in the mediocre sea, which explains the demorality I am feeling right now. But it also forces me to a conclusion. I need to look for new work. I have given the company a solid 2 years of hard work and creativity. They are no longer earning it.

So I am not quitting any time soon. But I need to start looking. I have all the evidence I need now that current upper managers are willfully or ignorantly (the latter is most likely true) running the ship aground.

Anyway, it's almost time for the action packed weekend.

Time.