In addition, I have been learning tons of songs for the alt country Americana band I joined. Those songs aren’t especially difficult, although there are some challenging vocal lines, when I have to sing and play at the same time. I am not a good multitasker, generally. However, I am probably better at multitasking musical things than anything else.
The long hours of song learning and practice have had the added benefit of honing my endurance and “chops,” as they say in the vernacular. It’s also helped to toughen up the calluses on my two right hand playing fingers. I know that I can play a four hour show and not have sore fingertips at the end.
For a while there, I was getting a little bit lazy about practice, because the bands I was in were not pushing the song learning agenda and were stagnating. I am glad those days and bands are behind me, although it was a fun period of time, getting to rock without having to invest too much energy in the projects. But because of the lack of investment by the musicians involved, they sort of petered out, not unexpectedly. There are really only two things a band needs to succeed. Everyone involved has to pull their weight and there has to be a collective vision and motivation to prioritize the band and moves things forward. When other priorities trump the band progress, it stagnates, then dies.
On the down side, as a result of my constant bass practice for jazz and Driveway Thriftdwellers (alt country), I have been neglecting my piano practice. One could argue that I am not making enough of an effort to prioritize that endeavor and move things forward there. I actually find myself doing what I despise when other musicians do it. In my mind, I truly desire to push the jazz piano agenda forward and become awesome. But when the chips are down, other priorities trump it. So I can totally understand when other musicians do this, prioritizing their jobs and families before music. But the music can’t survive that, so a decision has to be made. Either prioritize music, or don’t do it at all. It does not have to be mutually exclusive with jobs and families. It just takes some will power and good time management and understanding people in your life.
For instance, I play jazz on Tuesday nights from 9 PM to midnight. After we jam, we have to tear down our gear. Then we usually get a slice or two of pizza at Falbo’s pizzeria next door to the Mason Lounge (jazz club). By the time all is said and done, I am usually getting home at 1:30 AM sometimes. I have to go to work on Wednesdays, but if I get up too early, I am not worth a sh!t at work. I do not party that hard at jazz, so it’s not like I am hungover or anything like that. Those days are far behind me. But I just like sleep and when I don’t get enough of it, that sucks.
So I set my alarm a little bit later on Wednesday mornings, then take it easy when I get up, pound some coffee. Lately, I have been running a lot. Going on a 3.5 mile run when you are tired is hard to do. But I make myself do it, and it energizes me a lot, the combination of natural endorphins and adrenalin. So by the time I get into work about 10 AM, I am feeling pretty effing good, motivated, focused, and even energized. As a result, I easily gain back that lost hour of productivity by the time the Wednesday work day draws to a close. I am not sure that management (THE MAN) is that understanding of my contribution to the cultural arts. But what they do not know does not hurt them, and I would hope that if they did know, they would see that they are vicariously supporting the arts via me.
Another benefit of running and coffee is that it also allows me to produce kickass blog posts like this one. It’s about 10:45 AM on Wednesday right now. I am actually at work, so this can totally be recognized for what it is - goofing off. However, I am still going to rock the socks off my work today and put all my coworkers to shame. And they didn’t even lay down 3 hours of funky-arsed jazz last night for a hipster crowd of awesome school night party animals. Or maybe they did. I don't know or care.
A good day to you.
I usually always bike commute on Tuesdays, unless there is very inclement weather. I am for other days too, but Tuesdays for sure.
I thought the bike path would be cluttered with bike commuters and morning joggers, given the nice weather this morning.
However, I saw very few people out.
I devised a theory to explain this, though I have no good way to test it.
Bike commuters tend to be earthier and hippy trippier types, at least in Madison WI. As such, they probably listen to National Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio, the so called "liberal media."
This morning, WPR was calling for widespread rain across the state. Had I only listened to WPR, I might have been deterred from biking. But instead, I checked weather.com and found out that the chance of rain was only 10% for most of the day. At worst, I might see a few sprinkles on my ride in. I didn't give it a second thought or worry, loaded up my bike and gear, and pounded it into work.
Great ride in.
This fits my theory about Madison hippy trippy types, though. They are fair weather lovers of the earth, water, and sky. The merest threat of rain and all bets are off. F Mother Nature when the chips are down. That is one thing that annoys me about Madison hippies.
I can't say I am an all weather biker though. Lightning scares the shite out of me, even more than terrorist attacks (probably because I am four times more likely to be killed by lightning than a terrorist attack). But I try to bike commute whenever feasible, and I am not even that much of a hippie. I just think every individual has a responsibility to care for their small chunk of cosmos and any parts of it they are "renting" from others (public spaces).
My buddy Mike is a much more adherent bike commuter than I am. He bikes in blizzards. He can legitimately claim to be a Madison hippy trippy type.
Still, the point is, when it is a mild and pleasant day like today, there is no excuse to chicken out and not bike commute, Madison hippy types.
You will be nicknamed Wimpy McWimpersons, henceforth.
The guy in the black Cadillac behind us apparently knew this. He floored it and sped past us both on the left, in the oncoming lane of traffic. This made no never mind, since there were no cars coming toward us.
I passed the girl and moved back into the bike lane in front of her. I thought no more of it. However, a few seconds later the black Cadillac came to a stop sign. A bicyclist was crossing the intersection in front of the car. For whatever reason, the driver of the black Cadillac decided to lay on his horn for this cyclist.
I can only think the driver of the car was a little bit put out by having to pass me and the girl on our bikes, even though we were in compliance with all traffic laws. The cyclist up ahead, who perhaps went zooming through the intersection without giving the Cadillac driver his or her due, must have pushed the driver over the cliff of annoyance or something.
Who knows? But Beepy McBeeperson is now that driver's nickname, henceforth.
I am a member of the CSA farm, Wholesome Harvest. I have a half share and it provides more than enough local whole food for me to eat well all summer long with only infrequent trips to the grocery store to obtain protein sources (usually tofu but sometimes beans).
My grocery budget from June to mid October is virtually nil, which allows me to put more money in savings, as well as doing more fun things during the summer months, when there are arguably more fun things to be done.
Yesterday, I had a marathon session of song learning in preparation for next Friday's DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS show in Minocqua WI. I am highly confident I will be prepared. Song learning is a great example of the 80/20 rule. With about 20% of my time and effort, I can get the songs to about 80% efficacy. That is still too biffy for live performing but it gets me through an initial band practice OK. Putting in another 20% of my time and effort, I can get upwards of 96% efficacy. That is 80% of the remaining 20% yield and would probably suffice for most shows. However, when it comes to rocking, especially for prestigious shows, I like to hit 99%+ efficacy. Yesterday's practice was my second round of 20% and I hit my 96% efficacy goal. Tonight, I will put in another 20% time and effort, which should have me fully prepped for DWTD band practice on Monday night. After that, any additional practice is gravy. But I will have Wednesday night to hone still further.
On Thursday night, we may have a dress rehearsal live at the Mason Lounge in Madison WI. I will be fully honed to rock arses off at that.
I am about to head up to the cabin for a fly by night tour. I am bring Foster but not Buddy. I have to come back tomorrow so I can practice country songs. I won't be back to the cabin until August 10 at the soonest. I have a country band gig on August 2 that my family will be attending. I am going to scarf some food and head out. None of this information is useful to you. But thanks for reading it.
The jazz show is from 5 to 7 pm, coordinating beautifully with Friday happy hour for those people who rocked a hard day’s work week. I didn’t rock a hard day’s work week. I rocked an easy one. That’s partly because I am awesome at my job and time management, but also because the workload is light right now. And that is good, because it means I now have the energy to bring the thunder playing jazz tonight for all the weary working stiffs who still have enough soul to slog it on down to Come Back Inn and drown their sorrows with beer and music.
Beer and music save the world.
Meanwhile, Lara Bar has been making 100% whole food nutrition bars from the very start. They can’t be beat. Hundreds of good flavors and not a single synthetic or isolated ingredient. They don’t use sugar, dairy, soy, or GMO ingredients. They are sweetened with ground dates.
I have never had a Lara Bar that sucked. There may be some, but I have not had any.
I was thinking now that I am doing a lot more running and aerobic fitness challenges, I ought to pick up some Lara Bars to snack on. Not that I have had any problems with getting enough calories, nor have I bonked during my moderate runs. But if I were ever to do more than 3.5 mile runs, like maybe 6 mile runs, then I might want to carry a little all natural energy booster like a Lara bar.
Anyway, it was recently disclosed that PepsiCo's Naked juices were being falsely advertised as all natural when they really weren't, according to the letter and spirit of the law. I think Lara Bar is still being honest. I sure hope they don't sell out.
I find that the half way point of my run is my favorite. That’s because I know the run is half over, but I am also at the farthest point away from my starting point (I run out and back). So there is nothing for it but to finish the second half. Up until the halfway mark, there is always the option to bail out early and head home. I would never do that. But I could. So psychologically, the half way point is essentially the point of no return (even though it is literally the point of actual return back to my house…), where I am committed to the full run. So once I get to the halfway mark, I know it is “all downhill from there” (even though it is not downhill at all from there).
My route is not too extreme. There are some rolling inclines here and there, but no big hills. I might try mixing up my route tomorrow, by going a different way that involves a pretty big hill climb.
Anyway, I feel like 8 million bucks today, as I always do after a morning run because of the endorphin induced runner’s high, which seems to last the better part of the day and is additive, if I run over several days. I am feeling really good about band practice tonight with Driveway Thriftdwellers and the jazz show at Come Back Inn tomorrow with Charlie Painter and friends. I should be really focused and energized.
Last night I had a marathon bass practicing session at home, learning a bunch of Driveway Thriftdwellers songs for the gig I have with them on Friday August 2, at the Minocqua Brewing Company, up north. It’s going to be a fun road trip, I can tell. I got through probably 80% of the set list, strong on some, less so on others. That is good enough for practice tonight, but by our next practice, on Monday July 29th, I should be 95%, and that’s good enough for the gig. We will be joined on drums by Jon Storey, and excellent local drummer who is also the drummer for the other languishing cover band we are in with a guitarist named Phil. That group has been picking up speed, but it is slow going, because Phil is a busy man. We barely have more than a set of material in show worthy shape with that group and we have been together about three months now. So Jon is jonesing to gig, and I am glad he is playing with DWTD in a week or so. Jon and I are learning a full night of alt country Americana music for the show with DWTD. Just an observation.
Before last week, I might have been inclined to bail on an aerobic workout after getting only 4.5 hours of sleep. But I felt so great after my four runs last week, that I want the high to continue. I am totally addicted to it now. This is great. Or is it?
So I downed a big ol' cup of coffee, with soy milk, and ran. Beautiful weather, the kind of day that portends a zombie apocalypse. Running will definitely help me escape zombies if/when they do come.
I used Map My Ride, even though the route I run is always the same round trip from my house, down to Ripley Road, and along the lake shore, until Ripley Road T-junctions. That's about 1.75 miles one way, I guess, at least if the Map My Ride distance calculator is accurate, and I am not entirely sure it is. I like the MMR app because the computer lady voice talks to me every 5 minutes about my pace and speed and distance.
I am at work, but as usual, I have dominated my workload by avoiding distractions and interruptions. So, I am going to take a little hiatus and go down to the Roman Candle for a late lunch. Then I might read or work on my book.
However, everyone was kind of grumpy. I said "good morning" to a few people I saw walking or on bikes, and not a one of them responded. They all looked glum or grumpy too. What is that all about?
On a day like today, there is absolutely no excuse to not be really happy, especially if you are outside in this great weather and not driving in a car. Sure, maybe you have some problems going on in your life. But don't let that stop you from enjoying the good things in your day, like freedom and sunshine.
I sound like a damn touchy feely hippie sometimes.
Anyway, if you need a pick me up, watch this video.
Eustress is the type of stress commonly known as "good stress" in the vernacular.
Last week I made a fitness pact with myself to do a moderately intensive aerobic workout every weekday. Normally I bike commute to get my aerobic workout, but due to scheduling conflicts, I am often only able to bike commute two times a week, or thrice at best.
Last week I was only able to bike commute one day. So in order to complete my challenge, I ran a 5k each morning when I was unable to bike, including Wednesday morning, which is a rough one because of my late night on Tuesday for jazz night at the Mason Lounge.
Needless to say, I accomplished my personal fitness challenge.
But the side effects amazed me. I have never been much of a runner. When I would run here and there, I would feel really good afterwards (the runner's high is very real), but I had no consistency to run for several consecutive days in a row.
I thought that I would feel good after each run, like I normally do. But I did not realize that the euphoric runner's high would carry over from day to day and amplify with each subsequent run. I have never felt higher on life than I did at the end of last week. So positive and mentally sharp and just floating on a magic carpet of euphoria.
I have no idea what opiates are like, because they have too bad of a reputation for me to ever try them, but my understanding is that they activate endorphin receptors in the body, which explains their euphoria inducing and pain killing mechanism.
I guess I am probably high on my own natural endorphins. As I said in a previous post, running is painful for me, while I am doing it. That is probably why I lack the follow through normally, unless I make a daily fitness challenge for myself like I did last week.
However, my body's natural response to the pain of running is to produce massive quantities of endorphins to fight the pain of it. I have no idea what the half life of natural endorphins is in the body, but for me, the euphoria and stimulant effects last for the better part of the day. I am totally energized at work and I stay sharp into the evening when I have to practice music for jazz and upcoming shows.
So, now I want to keep running. I have become addicted to my own natural opiates. I wonder if that is bad? Can too much good stress be harmful? I can't imagine being this energized and euphoric all the time can be good. But I feel great. Clearly, something about running stimulates my frontal lobes. I guess that is probably adrenalin, not endorphins. The latter probably contribute to my euphoria with life, but adrenalin is probably causing the stimulant effects.
However, adrenalin is also an activator of the peripheral nervous system. So even if it is a result of good stress, could I be over activating my endocrine system, overworking my organs?
Conversely, adrenalin also stimulates glucose uptake by muscle tissue, so my body probably produces it for that reason, while I am running, so my muscles will have enough fuel, and the stimulant side effects are just the result of the adrenalin effects on my frontal lobes. This is speculative of course.
However, after my whole week of running and biking last week, I did not appear to lose any weight. That's perplexing. Clearly, if my body is producing adrenalin to assist with energy burning, I should be burning some fat. I usually run in the morning on an empty stomach, before I have eaten anything (although I do drink coffee, because I read that coffee augments calorie burning during exercise). And after I am done running, my basal metabolic rate is ramped up and I am usually not hungry until lunch time. I assume this is because I am in a fat burning mode after I run and my body is using fat as fuel for a while, until my basal metabolic rate comes down a bit and I get hungry.
I have no idea if any of this is true. I need a fitness expert to comment. All I know is that after my fitness challenge last week, which involved a ton of running 5k or longer, I felt like a million bucks. I am repeating the process this week, having run yesterday (Monday) and bike commuted today (which will end up being about 23 total miles once I bike commute the return trip).
So I don't really give a crap what is the cause of my highness on life. I am just wondering if there will be any detrimental down side of so much eustress.
What do you think?
p.s. It should be noted that in addition to completing my fitness challenge for all the week days last week, I also ran 4 miles in Oshkosh on Sunday with my buddy Todd. We had a nice jog down to lake Winnebago and back. I am using Map My Ride app to track my activities, and it seems like the app is working really well on my Samsung Galaxy S3 Android phone.
In sales, it is often the case that 80% of revenue is generated from just 20% of the big repeat customers.
In work, employees often produce 80% of their output from 20% of their total investment of time and effort. That means, in a 40 hour work week, 8 hours of actual work generate 80% of what the employee will produce in that week. This 8 hours is usually spread out over the entire work week, an hour here, 30 minutes there, but the end result is still 80% yield from 20% effort.
After the first 20% effort, an additional 20% effort yields 80% of the remaining possible output. Thus, 80% of the remaining 20% of work output expected. I did the math for you, and that is a 96% return on investment, because of the non-linear 80/20 rule.
So, with just 16 hours of actual productive work in a 40 hour work week, you are producing most of what you will produce for that entire week, a solid A grade. Beyond that, there is a Law of Diminishing Returns. You have to put in another 20% effort to eek out a few more percentage points, to 99.4%.
Is it really work putting in another 8 hours of work just to squeeze out another 3%+ of your expected workload. Will 96% do? In most cases it will.
I don't love running. I love finishing running. The runner's high is incredible after I finish the run. But during the run...it is pain. Bicycling has nothing on running as far as the way you feel afterwards. I feel OK after biking, but incredible after running. But I much prefer biking during the activity. It is much easier to do and it feels good to bike. It does not feel as good during the activity of running, only afterwards. In fact, running is a bit painful when I first start a run. I get into a decent groove only about half way through a run. With biking, I am in my groove almost immediately, but the down side of biking is it takes longer to get a decent workout (in part because of pi). A plus of running is the expediency of the workout. Start to finish in under an hour including changing clothes, cool down, and showering. Plus I feel totally euphoric and detoxified after running. After biking, I often feel a bit queasy to be honest, but at best I feel "pretty good." So I have been running more lately. Tomorrow morning, I am going running with my buddy Todd in Oshkosh begosh. Aiming for a 5k.
I ran 5k Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. I bike commuted 24 miles on Tuesday (about 105 minutes of biking in total). I just got back from the final 5k power walk to round out the challenge. Today (Friday), I had to do my workout late in the day and it was bloody hot. That's why I walked instead of running. The bugs were terrible, but I made it with only one large welt on my arm where a deer fly got me.
I plan to tackle a similar goal next week. Hopefully, it is cooler.
It's gravy now that I have hit my goal, but if I have time tomorrow morning, I am going to bike ride up to Lake Mills for coffee. That's about a 90 minute round trip.
I am going up to Oshkosh at noon, because a bunch of friends are going to the Princess Bride at Time Theater on Saturday night. I have a dinner date before it too that I am quite looking forward to.
I really need to work on rock songs for band practice on Sunday. So I may not bike in the morning if I need to practice. We shall see. I am planning on an early night tonight, so I can read some books. I might be able to get up and beat the heat for a ride. But weather may also be an issue.
Like I said, mission accomplished, so now it's a choice.
Anyway, that's the back story.
The front story is that BW(ow)M - pronounced just like it looks - is once again on for Labor Day weekend 2013. And you are welcome to come.
It's a pretty nice way to spend Labor Day because the lodging is free and no competition with other holiday campers (only, maybe, some black bears...no joke).
Peeps usually travel up on Saturday of that weekend (the best travel day, according to AAA) to our cabin which fronts onto clean, cool spring fed Shell Lake. We make merry and I teach people how to wind surf, if they want to try and there is enough wind. We also have a kayak for the less bold. No motorboats. My family is very low tech at the cabin. My mom makes a nice spread of food and we chill in the evening, play cards, maybe have some music jams
The bike ride is on Sunday. We leave when everyone is ready and it is NOT a race. It's a social bike ride, with an emphasis on social. I strap a potent bike boom box on my bike rack for tunes, so bring an iPod with your favorite biking songs.
The group then rides (no drop policy, because that would be impossible anyway) from the cabin in Shell Lake to a town called Stone Lake, about 26 miles away, with some leisurely social "rest stops" along the way to regroup. About four miles out is Rummel's bar, which looks a lot like a guy's garage, because it is. We get a little carbo loading there, before proceeding to the eight mile mark, where we usually get breakfast at the Caddy Shack greasy spoon diner.
There are a couple of more optional stops in the remaining 18 miles of fairly rolling country roads (no major hills). It's beautiful scenery.
We coordinate to meet my mom and pops in the town of Stone Lake, WI around lunch time on Sunday. They will be driving the support car with a bike rack on it. If anyone does not want to bike back to the cabin from Stone Lake, they can take a ride in the car with my folks. That constitutes the short route.
The long route is, of course, the round trip distance of 52 miles, for those who do want to bike back. Biking back also involves a couple of social stops, if desired.
Sunday afternoon and evening is even more chilling by the lake. Then we might go into town at night and stir up trouble.
On Monday, people can depart at a leisurely pace. All we ask is that everyone spend a little time helping us clean up the cabin, since we usually shut it down for the winter soon after BW(ow)M. That is sort of like the "fee" for participating.
But the cost of the event itself is just your gas to get there and any grillable items you may want to cook on the grill, maybe some beer or booze.
This is a Labor Day weekend event to consider doing if you are looking for a relaxed but fun outdoorsy way to end the summer. We can host no more than eight people for this ride. So let me know soon if you want to come.
More deets later.
I had a bat in my house last night. I was in my bed reading a book when this giant brown bat flapped into my room, did a loop and then zoomed out again. Bats in the house give me the willies. They are not shy. So I thought about some ways I could dispose of the beastie without killing it. The idea I came up with was to use a fishing net to try to net it so I could release it outside. So I got my fishing net out, but when I went to find the bat again, he or she had apparently taken repose in a dark hiding spot. I could not find it. Last time I had a bat, it hid under the stereo receiver of my entertainment center. But this time it wasn't there, nor in any of the places that, in my human mind, looked like one a bat would hang out in.
I was about to give up. I knew I would not be able to sleep with that thing flying around my house, but I figured if I closed the door to my room, the bat could fly about downstairs to its little heart's content and I would deal with it in the morning. So I started turning off lights before retiring for what I knew would be restless sleep. I had turned on all the lights to be able to see the thing as it was flying around, to better swipe the fishing net at it. But the light must have sent it into hiding.
As I was turning off the light switch near my front window, I heard a scratching sound behind the blinds, which were down. I knew it had to be my little flying rodential and probably rabid friend. Fishing net in hand, I pulled on the cord to open the blinds and out swooped the bat. He took a cruise through the living room before heading back in my direction, which gave me a couple seconds to prepare.
My first swipe missed, but the rush of air from the fish net mesh must have upset it's aerodynamics, because it sort of stalled out and fell toward the floor. I thought I would have a chance to net it when it hit the ground, but it was a feint. Before it touched the floor, it flapped it's leathery wings and gained altitude again. Surprised by this, I rather haphazardly swiped at it again, but in my panic the wooden edge of the net clipped the bat and this time it hit the floor. It fluttered around but couldn't seem to take flight and I realized I must have broken one of its wings. I felt terrible but now I had a fateful decision to make. I could probably have scooped up the bat in the net as it flopped around, then carried it outside and released it. But if it was mortally wounded that would be cruel and it definitely would not last long with a broken wing. Plus, it was clearly now panicked, emitting audible squeaks like a mouse, which is essentially what a bat is - a mouse with wings. If I tried to capture it now, it might get scared and try to bite. When it comes to rabies, that is a big glass of NOPE, and I did not much relish a late night visit to the ER for rabies testing and treatment. Plus, even if I managed to get it in the net, it might be nearly impossible to free it if it got entangled due to the broken wing.
All these thoughts went through my head in a few milliseconds, and I needed to make a fast decision for the sake of this animal. I am sorry to say, I chose a swift mercy killing. It was my fault for awkwardly swiping at the bat and injuring it. But at that point, any other outcome would have meant prolonged pain and suffering for the creature and possibly for me. So I am sorry my little furry visitor, with all my heart. I felt you would be better off with a quick dispatch. I hope you are in the big dark cave in the sky and agree with my decision.
Otherwise I am in for a whole shitload of bad bat karma here for a while.
On a related note, remember how I said the Law of Averages was going to have to balance my recent spate of good fortune? Well this unfortunate incident was certainly a balancing of the cosmic deck of cards. I drew a bad hand but now at least I probably won't get hit by a bus.
It looks like I picked a brutal week to achieve my fitness goal of five aerobic workouts this week (one each weekday). Heat wave. I hate exercising indoors when it is not winter. This morning when I left to run my 5k at 8 AM it was already 81 degrees, so hot and muggy that I had to power walk some sections of the run. I thus only averaged about a 12 minute mile. But I achieved it.
So, tomorrow, I am going to get up at 6 and see if I can beat the heat at all. The low will still be in the 70s, but at least the sun won't be as high in the sky at 6 AM as it is at 8 AM. This morning it was really blazing down on me and I was mostly getting too hot from the radiant heat. What I should do it wear my bathing togs to run, then run the 2.5 miles up to Lake Ripley Park and jump in the lake at the swimming hole. Except then I would have to run back with wet togs, and that might chafe. Plus, the mosquitos would be all over me.
On Monday I ran a 5k with Buddy. It was not as hot, but Buddy still didn't like it. He was giving me dirty looks for the next two days. He, at least, did get to jump in the lake along the way and I gave him a good hosing down when we got home. But he is like 13 years old now and a 3.2 mile run is just too much for him now. I would never take him out in this heat, except for a short walk. I would never take Foster out for a run either, not even in moderate heat. Boston terriers are notoriously heat sensitive. When I throw the tennis ball for Foster at the dog park, he gets overheated fast and has to lie in the cool shady grass. He might be OK on a 60 degree day, but I don't think I would push him to go 3.2 miles. On the other hand, he is small enough that if I needed to, I could pick him up and carry him.
Well, I had better go do something constructive and musical. There is so much I need to do, I am almost paralyzed at not knowing where to start. I need to practice jazz piano, learn new country songs, and learn new rock songs for B4 the Storm. I also want to, though it is not essential, practice some solo acoustic guitar songs, because I enjoyed performing those at Barn Bash, but I was rusty.
I want to once again thank the cosmos for all the recent good vibes and say MORE OF SAME!
My friend Blu, who I met at BB, said, after listening to my music and some descriptions of HIATVS' theatrical rock-n-roll, that I would be a big fan of the Madison band The Mustache. I have heard a lot about them, so I guess I will scope them out soon.
I miss having a functional band that can go and play farm parties and house concerts whenever we want to.
Right now I am back at Todd and Sherry's after Barn Bash, and we are chilling. It's a lazy Sunday and I don't have anywhere I need to be urgently today. If I get back to Cambridge early enough, I am going to squeeze in a bike ride.
I am glad I did. I need to get some jazz piano practice in and then I am cruising up to Oshkosh.
What use is having a bunch of vacation time if you don't use it to enjoy great weather and optimal driving conditions.
I will be on the road to Oshkosh around 1 PM today. I am going to Barn Bash with my friends Todd and Sherry. It's going to be fun.
I am going to bring my acoustic guitar. I don't know if they have music at Barn Bash, but I will perform if people want me to. It never hurts to have an acoustic guitar on hand.
One of my coworkers took the day off from work, and she was an inspiration to me. You only live once, and when you die, you aren't going to say, "I wish I had spent more time at work." You are probably going to say, "I wish I had spent more time doing fun and fulfilling things."
I am not saying my job is not fulfilling. It's not. But I am not saying that. That's irrelevant.
Work to live, not vice versa.
So I need to be up in Oshkosh around 4 pm tomorrow, I think. That means THE MAN is going to have to do without my awesome and indispensable skills in the afternoon. Because I need to get on the road from Cambridge about 2 PM and that means leaving work around 1 PM. So what will probably happen is that I will just parlay my lunch break into a road trip to Oshkosh. Cool? Cool.
This actually works well, because I need to redeem a half day of vacation to combine it with a half day of vacation I took a couple of weeks ago. My company is so messed up that they haven't even figured out a way for employees to take fractional days of vacation. They say we can only redeem eight hour blocks. What? So backwards. This is the 21st century for chrissakes. The weird thing is, we accrue fractional amounts of vacation every fortnightly pay period. Every two weeks, our paycheck says we accrued 6.67 hours of vacation. That's just f-ed up. They give us fractional vacation but we can't redeem it fractionally. This is simple math people. Literally addition and subtraction. We are a biomedical device company, with like physicists and engineers and shit. Yet management can't add and subtract? OK.
So their solution is that we can either combine multiple fractions into an integer whole number of days of vacation or try to make up the lost time when we are in the office. I am not even sure what they are talking about when they say the latter. Do they mean work an extra hour the other four days of the week? Or do they mean just work harder and as long as the work gets done, have at it? The engineers we work with are always taking off mornings or afternoons for no apparent reason. I think they are bending the rules a bit, but whatever.
The point is, I am taking the afternoon off tomorrow to go to Oshkosh for a camping farm party. You only live once, I like to spell out.
Thus, I am going to use it to rock on some jazz piano practice.
I hope I have the energy. Last night was Tuesday night, so that means I was out late playing jazz bass at the Mason Lounge in Madison. I got less than optimal sleep in both depth and duration. So it is quite possible I will hit the wall and need to get an early night.
Tomorrow will be a fabulous day. Number one, my boss will be OOTO. It's not that I plan to slack off. I am too hard of a worker for that. But if I conquer my workload ahead of schedule, I might give myself a slight raise to compensate for the time saved to the company. After all, their metric is not how many hours I put in, but how much work I cranked out.
Hey, that would be a good blog post title for the JUICE YOUR LIFE site. I should write that up. OK, I just did. Slight suspension of this post while I did so. When I was up at the cabin last week, I did do some more writing on JUICE YOUR LIFE: What I Learned About Work/Life Balance While Living Amongst the Cube Drones.
I really wish I was better at piano. I am not sure how I can suck so badly as I do. I have been practicing pretty hard. But I am not giving up. One day, the skills will come to me. I have definitely improved, but I am sloppy and choppy.
I bike commuted this morning. The weather forecast called for no rain or storms whatsoever until afternoon. That was not entirely true. I made it to work just fine with no weather incidents, although it was incredibly muggy. About 10:30 AM a huge front rolled in and dumped huge rain. I was safe and dry at work already, so I won the bike commute game of roulette, but I may not be so lucky biking home. My friend Neltune, who also happens to be on my team at work, offered me some limited carpool to downtown in a worst case scenario. I actually don't mind rain. It is lightning I don't like.
As an aside, did you know that water vapor is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Just think about how warm you feel when it is muggy out. Thats because moist air holds more heat. Warm air holds more moisture. So as the atmosphere warms, it holds more water vapor which holds more heat, and it becomes a positive feedback cycle. The reason CO2 is bad is because it is a decent greenhouse gas. As CO2 levels increase, the atmosphere warms slightly. Then it can hold more water vapor which is really the worse greenhouse gas. So I expect the climate will not warm linearly with CO2 but exponentially due to the synergistic interaction of CO2 and water vapor.
I always shun the mainstream. It is a characteristic that some people have criticized me for, as if it was a bad thing. This most often happens in rock-n-roll bands. A lot of my bands are very focused on crowd pleasing, selling out to make an audience happy. It's not that I don't want to make the audience happy. I just don't want to make the mass audience happy, because this is actually impossible. First of all, you have to compete with every other band and every other medium out there to garner the attention of a mass audience. But mass audiences are also finicky. There is no loyalty. You can pour out your heart and soul to a mass audience and get little more than a "meh." It's not that the band isn't awesome. It is that it is just like every other band and mass audiences don't respond to the same thing. They also don't respond to new things, because they are set in their ways. They want the generic but they do not appreciate it because it is ubiquitous. It's everywhere, and even if every band is great, the mass audience can pick and choose. The key is to find a small niche audience and compete with no one.
The best way I have found to do this is to attract like minded fans. It's very similar to attracting like minded friends. You share a similar interest, so you get together to pay tribute to that interest. If you play in a band, you should make the band what YOU want it to be, and then find the like minded fans who enjoy what you have to offer because it is different from the mainstream. It doesn't even have to be that different from the mainstream. You can deviate from the mean (the norm) a little bit and easily attract that group of fans who are sick of the same old same old milquetoast mainstream bands.
However, if you deviate too far from the mean, your available fan base starts to dwindle exponentially. Then it is hard to find fans just because the numbers aren't there. So there is a fine margin, probably somewhere between one and two standard deviations from the mean, where you can attract niche fans. Your band still rocks and is great, but it appeals to a fan base that wants a little diversity and is sick of the bland generic mainstream. Most musicians I have played with are too intellectually lazy to try to understand this. They just want to rock and crowd please, totally selling out the art for the praises of the masses that they will never get for the reasons touched on above.
Anyway, I have been doing a lot of writing here at the cabin, especially now that the Internet is up. The DSL people at CenturyTel were saying that we would not have Internet until Monday, because they needed to activate it during business hours. That's total bull. It's all automated, and doesn't even require real people, as evidenced by the fact that the Internet turned on some time this weekend, without the need for any human intervention whatsoever.
I want to hit the road pretty early tomorrow morning, so I do believe I will stop writing now, shut down the computer, and read a little bit, before I drop off to sleep. The bed I am sleeping on here at the cabin is a little bit too short and I end up with a sore back in the morning, though it quickly goes away.
I had a whole week off from work in honor of the 4th of July. Actually, my employer mandated that employees all take three days (7/1 to 7/3) of PTO plus the two company holidays on 7/4 and 7/5. The company is failing economically and they have to cook their books by reducing the amount of employee PTO that counts as outstanding debt, according to the SEC, or some crap. Employees never get a fair shake in corporate America. Management makes sure that employees bear the brunt of their fiscal mismanagement whenever possible. You would think when management screws up a company's success, that management ought to bear the burden of responsibility. They don't though.
Anyway, I am off topic. I had the whole of last week off due to the PTO mandate and the July 4th holiday weekend. You would think that would be enough vacation, but I have to be honest. I am not yet ready to go back to work, so I am going to take an extra day of PTO. This is actually encouraged by management, who want us to use 10 days of PTO by the end of the year. I am doing what they asked, but not because they asked.
It's not even that I don't want to go back to the utter buffoons at my workplace just yet, although it was nice to be free of them for a whole week. It's really just to maximize my time up here at the cabin and minimize having to deal with idiotic holiday drivers on overly congested roads. If I drive early on Monday morning, I will avoid the insane Sunday traffic around the Wisconsin Dells area that is between the cabin and my house. I have found detours to avoid those morons who think the Wisconsin Dells is a good place to spend a holiday, but I prefer to travel the direct path, without hindrance. By driving home tomorrow, I avoid the hindrance. I also get to drive when it is daylight out. I don't mind night driving, but daylight driving is much better. If I leave here early enough, I will get home in time to spend the afternoon practicing for my piano lesson in the evening, which I think I am having. That will mean having to drive into town in the time frame of rush hour in Madison WI. But I will be going against the rush hour tide, so even though a lot of cars will be traveling toward me in the opposite direction, I should not encounter too many idiots en route to my lesson. Plus, I will mostly be driving through town, not on the beltline where the idiots are.
Don't worry about how the ride got its name. Just understand that it is a fun time and a budget vacation (free lodging and BYO most everything else...) and that Melinda may or may not be participating. She usually doesn't, if that helps. But we still have the ride anyway. So that pretty much sums up how I got the name. We have been doing this ride since 1999, I believe. We tried other locations to accommodate Melinda, but they were unmitigated failures. So now we just have it up at the cabin and whoever is lucky enough to participate, does so.
I realize most people are looking for the standard vacation on Labor Day, always seeking bigger, better, faster, and more. But if anyone is seeking truly satisfying and somewhat athletic fun, BW(oW)M is something you should try.
This evening, after I got back from a bike ride around Shell Lake, I threw a few lines into the lake in front of my family's cabin. I only had a few minutes to fish before my parents and I headed over to my aunt and uncle's cabin for dinner. I must have done something right, because about half way out to the point, a spur of wooded land that creates a little cove of lake in front of our cabin, I hooked a 15.25 inch smallmouth bass on my fly rod using a popper.
14 inches is the minimum keepable size, so I kept and cleaned it. I will probably eat it for breakfast or lunch tomorrow.
The cabin is what I call my "intellectual property" because it is where I do a lot of writing and creating. I need to come up here a lot this summer to work on my book. I still have a goal to publish an e-book by the end of the year. Since it will be my first venture, I plan to use a pseudonym. That way I can practice the book writing and Kindle publishing without sullying my good name until I am good at it.
The book is called "Juice Your Life" and is basically a guide to a healthy work/life balance for corporate cube drones. One thing to never do in corporate work is join the golf league. You sell your soul when you do that. People who do it don't understand or even believe that. But trust me, there is a reason upper management lets people leave work early for golf under the guise of team building. You don't think they let people slack off work out of the kindness of their hearts do you? No, they are well aware that once a corporate cube drone golfs side by side with upper management, the drone is forever beholden to management.
If you really want to build team at work, find the good solid cool people and form an inner circle. Then strengthen that team and protect it from outside negative influences. That is the way to get ahead in corporate America. Watch the show "Workaholics" for an excellent example of a high functioning and successful inner circle.
I was inspired by a historical news story about Ben Franklin to start a secret society that meets in secret at pubs and discusses ways to improve and advance society. I want to call it the Society Improvement Society, or SIS for short. Members will be a select few intelligent individuals who feel a strong compulsion to solve the world's problems over beers. It will have to be a small group and secretive. If it gets too big, it may lose its focus and become just a social. It also has to select its members carefully. They need to be people with decent IQs who can carry on a rational conversation and have strong interest in adding value to society, irrespective of economic policy. SIS cannot let economic limitations get in the way of proper values. Where there is a will there is a way. SIS will be an "ideas" organization and that is all. There will be no incentive or motive to implement the ideas, only to present them. Other people can implement, or not. We don't care. Our mission is to be visionaries who will say, "If you want to add value to society and improve it for everyone, this is our proposal. Take it or leave it." The pessimist in me says that most policy makers will leave it, because they are idiots. But that does not mean our ideas aren't awesome and correct. It just means the policy makers lack the will and/or resources to launch (implement), and if we can expose the charlatans for who they are, that's a perk, although not a stated goal of SIS. Conversely, our work may allow visionary policy makers to succeed.
SIS will be a secret society, as I said. Members will be anonymous and the meeting places top secret. If non members discover the meeting place and go there to try to undermine SIS, the secret meeting will be tacitly canceled and just devolve into a drinking social. No one will really care about SIS though because we will just be an ideas organization with no will or resources to launch or implement society improvement projects of our own. That will all be someone else's department.
SIS' s only goal will be to put the ball in other peoples' court and see what they do with it.
Ben Franklin had a secret society for advancing "practical sciences." These were the sciences that made society better, as opposed to the aesthetic sciences. Interestingly, Franklin considered music a practical science because it uplifted people and improved their lives. He had several musical inventions, or so I understand.
I am on my way up to the cottage for some much needed relaxation after an intensive week of rocking. On Tuesday, I had jazz at the Mason Lounge. Wednesday night, I was at the Mason again for the Driveway Thriftdwellers live dress rehearsal prior to our Thursday performance slot at Summerfest 2013 in Milwaukee. Then there was all the hours of practice time in preparation for the shows, especially the Summerfest one. Because no one wants to be the weak link in the biff chain when performing on the largest free stage at Summerfest.
Guess who rocked Summerfest today? Me, baby. Me!
And not only that, I rocked it with a kickass and professional band, the Driveway Thriftdwellers, on the biggest free stage at Summerfest. And not only that, the weather was perfect, sunny and mild with a breeze off of Lake Michigan.
What a great way to perform my first Summerfest. In fact, I can't believe it was actually legal. But that's why America is awesome.
Here are some pics.
Those are just my pics. Some other people took some pics and I hope to see them soon.