8.31.2013

Wind Surfing

We arrived at the cabin in Shell Lake WI about the same time, the four of us, in two cars, each coming from different starting points. Synchronicity, I suppose. Todd and Sherry drove together from Oshkosh WI. I drove from Cambridge WI with Jerome, Sherry's ex husband, who met me at my place after driving from Milwaukee. We all got late starts for a variety of reasons. In Jerome's case, sleeping through both alarms he had set and holiday traffic were the culprits. In any case, we all got to the cabin about 3 pm.

The weather was superb, sunny and mild with a light breeze coming off the lake from the southeast.

"Perfect wind surfing weather," I said to Jerome as I turned onto the spur of road connecting Highway B and East Lake Drive, off which my family's cabin is located. That is where the lake comes into view and I could see the ripples on the surface indicating a breeze. I breeze is great for beginning wind surfers, because too much wind can be overwhelming at first and no wind is pointless. I have an old school long board wind surfer with a large canvas sail, more like that of a sailboat than the semi-rigid sails on more modern smaller wind surfers. The large sail is great for medium to low wind situations because it grabs a lot of the wind's power. That is why, when it is too windy, the sail becomes unmanageable. One should think of the sail as a wing, like on an airplane. It works using lift and the bigger a plane wing is, the more lift it has. Thinking of lift as power, a bigger wind surfer sail is more powerful and so more wind makes it all the more difficult to control that power.

After we got to the cabin and unloaded our gear for the weekend's festivities, I got the wind surfer out of the shed and put it together down by the lake. I secured the boom to the mast and the sail to the boom, then screwed the mast into the board, tightening the frictional bolt peg as far as I could. I took the wind surfer on its maiden voyage and the wind was just about perfect. It was a little bit too light for an intermediate sail boarder like myself, but I knew it would be superb for my compadres. They all took a go and did pretty well for beginners, starting to get the hang of it by the time a warm front started rolling in and the wind actually died to almost nothing.

Jerome did the best, getting himself out into the middle of the lake before his strength ran out and he was unable to return to our beach. I kayaked out to him and guided him on how to limp/drift the board to shore. Then we switched vehicles. He kayaked back to our beach as I deftly took the board back "out to sea" and then positioning myself appropriately, turned and sailed back to our beach. Todd spent some time getting his sea legs on the board too and he was getting the hang of it before the wind died.

We then cooked a mighty feast at the cabin. I write this as I repose on my sleeping back prior to going to sleep. Tomorrow is the BW(owo)M bike ride portion of the weekend. We will ride our bikes about 50 miles round trip from the cabin to Stone Lake WI, stopping often for libations and northwoods WI food. We will lunch in Stone Lake, then weaker riders may opt to take the support vehicle back to the cabin or ride the return trip. I will be toting a 40 watt bike boom box on my bike rack for pumping out the jams loudly.

More to come so stay tuned.

Joe

It's BW(owo)M Weekend and I Want to Write About Backup Plans

My thesis here is that people who get bored easily don't have a backup plan.

This is Labor Day weekend, and that means I am hosting BIKE WITH (or WITHOUT) MELINDA this weekend. It's my annual bike ride up north at my family's cabin. It's a great way to spend the holiday weekend away from it all. Free lodging and no competition for campsites, biking, socializing, etc.

This year there will be four of us going. Todd and Sherry are driving up from Oshkosh on their own, but I am car pooling up with a mutual friend named Jerome. I had wanted to write a blog post this morning, but I did not think I would have time, because Jerome was supposed to be at my house (coming from Milwaukee) at 9 AM. I had to drop Buddy off at the kennel at 8:15 AM and then I was going to load some of my trip gear into the car, assuming that would not give me enough time to write a post.

However, when I was at the kennel, I got a text from Jerome telling me he was running late. I assumed he was maybe running 15 or 20 minutes late, but when I texted him back asking for his ETA, so I could plan around it, he said he would be an hour late.

Now, most people might get pissed off if they had plans and someone said they would be an hour late. It is certainly better to let people know you will be an hour late than to not do so and be an hour late anyway. If you do that, you are likely to be left behind. I usually allow a time range of plus or minus 15 minutes when making plans. If someone is 14 minutes late, I will still be there when they arrive, but if they are 16 minutes late, without calling, I will not be there. If someone is 14 minutes early, I will typically be clothed. But if they are 16 minutes early, I may still be naked and drying off from my shower.

Some people still might be pissed off when told that their traveling companion will be an hour late. This is usually the case with unimaginative people. These people may feel lost at sea when they were expecting to be on the road driving somewhere fun at 9:15 AM and now they come to find out they have to fill a previously occupied 45 to 60 minutes.

Not me though. I actually had three backup plans. In fact, I was going to be a little bit creatively frustrated if I did not get to type a blog post this morning. Sometimes, when I drive up to the cabin solo during the summer, I will use the 4.5 hour drive to type out a 10 minute blog post, albeit illegally, while driving. It's not the same as texting, because there is no urgency and I can set the smart phone down as needed when there is traffic. But often the roads up to the cabin are relatively empty and no one is in danger. I know my limits and I type slowly, 2 or 3 letters at a time, then looking up to swerve back into my lane on the highway (just kidding, I don't weave when I blog in the car). The slower typing actually gives me time to think and write more thoughtful posts. But when I have a driving companion, I would not type blog posts on my smart phone in the car. In part, this belies the fact that my protestations to the contrary above, blogging while driving has some risk involved, and I do not want to put a passenger in jeopardy. But it's also a little bit rude.

Since I have a carpool compadre this weekend, I had hoped to get a quick blog post typed in at home. That turned out to be contingency plan #1 and was entertained when Jerome said he would be an hour late.

Contingency plan #2 was to practice some piano. However, I can do that up at the cabin, now that my folks have a piano up there. So after I finish this post, I think I am going to implement contingency plan #3 and go to the Piggly Wiggly to pick up some travel food and get a snack, since I did not eat breakfast.

Unimaginative people might spend their extra hour fuming and twiddling their thumbs while waiting for their late traveling companion to show. But I am actually glad Jerome is late, because I can produce better outcomes for my life in that hour. Cool, huh?

Joe

8.29.2013

A School Night

I am at a pub on the east side of Madison WI called Mr. Roberts. I have not been here in a long while. My bands used to play here years ago. They always paid bands a low but consistent (and I thought fair) wage. But at some point they hired a douchy booking manager who had a grudge against some local bands, including mine. I didn't actually care if my bands played here or not. But I kind of had no reason to come anymore if I wasn't performing and I did not want to patronize an establishment with a douchy booking manager. I guess I am kind of patronizing it right now, in both definitions of the word. I am looking down on it via this post and I am also here, after a long hiatus.

The reason I am patronizing it in person right now is because my buddy MG's band, MUDROOM, is playing tonight, right after the opening band, PATCHWORK MONKEY (now playing), gets done. It's a bit ironic, because MG used to be the drummer in some of the aforementioned banned bands at Mr. Roberts.

Anyhow, it's a school night and life is f-ed, so here I am. Life is not really f-ed. Not my life anyway. My employer's life, and specifically that of the middle manager who oversees my team at work, is very f-ed. In the last 3 weeks, my boss and one of my team members have resigned for way better jobs. All the talent has been bailing on this sorry and mismanaged company, a problem easily solved by listening to the subject matter experts (the boots on the ground), which they almost willfully and belligerently don't do. So it is down to just me and my one awesome peep, who goes by the pseudonym Neptune. She's a peep outside of work but also part of the so called "inner circle" at work, the group of spiritually connected individuals who have a broader and more holistic picture of all that is wrong and all that is right than greedy narrow minded management does, and who conspire and collaborate to resist and undermine workplace weak sauce at every turn. If Neptune leaves, I will have to leave, not just in solidarity, but because the inner circle will be eviscerated.

But the actual reason I am partying on a school night is because I can. I am taking a half day tomorrow (AM). This weekend is Labor Day weekend, thus lengthy and also inclusive of my annual bike event up north, Bike With (or Without) Melinda. And of course, MG's band is playing.

Joe

8.28.2013

Happy Hump Day

It’s Wednesday, August 28, 2013. I did not sleep very well last night because I was overheated and my dog Foster kept gouging me with his claws. He was sleeping on my bed, as he sometimes does. I think he was overheated too, notwithstanding the box fan I had blowing full pelt on the bed. So he stretched out to expose more of his canine surface area to the cooling gale. When he would extend his hind legs, the claws would scrape my back or side, waking me.

I also ate two slices of cheesy pizza after jazz night last night. I never sleep well when I eat heavy foods like that late at night. After I get done with jazz, especially when it is as spectacularly funky as it was last night, I am often in need of replenishing sustenance, and with Falbo’s Pizzeria just a couple of doors down from the Mason Lounge, where jazz is hosted, it’s too easy to succumb to it.

Last night we had six musicians at jazz night, including a new sax player named Rob. He can really wail quite well and it is nice playing with him. In addition to the core rhythm section of me on bass, Charlie Painter on guitar, and MG Sherry on drums, we also had occasional keyboardist Trey Grimm with us, and jazz violinist Rin Ribble. Rin was plagued with feedback issues for a while, but at some point in the night, she and Charlie solved them.

We tried some new tunes and they went well. We had some really good jams too. I am not a big fan of trading fours. I probably would be if it was done sensibly, but more often than not it happens chaotically at jazz night. I am the kind of bass player who gets into a good groove and I sometimes close my eyes and sway in a way reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s performances. So I sometimes miss visual cues when the other musicians are giving each other the universal sign for “trade fours.” Often, the trading fours does not interrupt my bass playing, if it is between instrumental soloists. But when it is between and instrumentalist and the drummer, it usually works best of all the instruments, including the bass, cut out during the drum’s four measures of solo (trading fours is where soloists trade off four measures at a time). Otherwise, it sounds like a bass drum groove, which can be fine, but is not usually the intent of the trading fours impromptu plan, especially when I am taken by surprise and ill prepared to lay down some tasty delicious bass lines.

Last night, I was laying down some good grooves and getting more comfortable improvising in various keys and complimenting what the other players were doing. At least that is how it sounded to my ear. Were you there? How did it sound to your ear?

I am at work. In about five minutes I am going to go change into my walking/running shoes and power walk to downtown Middleton for a bite to eat and some power book writing. It is pretty light at work right now, and since I have cleared everything off my desk and am waiting for other people to pull their shite together, I see no reason to twiddle my thumbs. One of my coworkers and I have a system whereby we alert each other via text of any work emergencies that arise while one or the other of us is away from our desk. It usually works pretty well, unless neither of us is at our desk. But in that case, everyone can just pretty much F off and wait for our return.

Joe

8.27.2013

AC Comfort at Barriques

The air conditioning at Barriques felt amazingly good as I came in from the muggy heat of the day around lunchtime on Tuesday August 27. I had biked the short distance from work and was on the verge of breaking a sweat by the time I arrived at the coffee shoppe, dressed as I was in a short sleeved business casual button down work shirt, shorts, and sandals.

I ordered a veggie wrap and a small soy iced mocha from the terse barrista, a stocky blonde guy who was clearly fighting a strong compulsion to be surly. He was one of those people who is ill at ease with social interaction and objects to it passive aggressively with a standoffish demeanor and an overly formal tone of voice for a customer service employee. The whole interaction compelled me with a strong desire to terminate the business interaction as expediently as possible, no doubt the intention of this burly barrista.

I don't normally buy an iced mocha unless I have enough points on my Belly rewards card, honored at Barriques, to procure a free drink (50 total rewards points). However, on a warm humid day like today, it seemed appropriate and desirable.

I took a seat on the faux leather couches next to the now cold fireplace that warms this particular outpost of the Barriques franchise during the colder months of the year, which will be upon us soon enough.

Two men, corporate yuppie types, sat nearby, conversing in voices just loud enough to seem as if they were purposefully trying to draw attention to themselves. They were talking about their moderate success in day trading, then the conversation shifted to gambling, essentially the same thing as far as I was concerned. I focused on eating my veggie wrap and tried to ignore their discussion completely, notwithstanding the invasive volumes of their voices. I did not want to give them any sign that I knew or cared what they were talking about, lest the gratification of having an eavesdropper should motivate them to continue their blather. I had almost as much interest in their topic of conversation as I do about sports, which is to say, less than nil.

I used to feel anxiety when people would talk about sports around me. I did not want to seem ignorant or less of a man because I did not follow sports of any kind. Once I realized that following sports is kind of an insecurity of its own, a need to belong to a group, I got over that. Now when people try to engage me in conversations about sports, I shut them down immediately, telling them I don't follow sports and have no interest in it. This is usually followed by a few moments of awkwardness as the other person realizes the only possible common topic of conversation has been vaporized. People feel a nervous compulsion to talk to strangers they are forced to socialize with against their will. Not content to remain silent, "the sport" is often a topic in common between people who don't know one another. However, I am completely ignorant of most sports and I like to let my fellow strangers know right away that this will not be an acceptable subject area for conversation, and if they have nothing else, then quietude will do just fine. I am quite secure in my disinterest in sports and my ability to carry on no conversation whatsoever.

Joe

A Hot Couple of Days

This is Tuesday, the 27th of August 2013. I rode my bike to work today, as I did yesterday. It was hot and muggy both days, particularly biking back to my car after work. I live in Cambridge WI, and that is a bit too far to ride my bike all the way from home to work (although I did it once last year, but only one way). So I throw my bike on the rack attached to the back of my car and drive part way to work. Sometimes I drive almost exactly half way and park the car in a Cottage Grove WI subdivision on the far east side of Madison WI. Other times I drive a little bit further, to a buddy’s neighborhood northeast of the Capitol. It kind of just depends on how late of a start I get. I did the shorter bike route (longer car route) both yesterday and today. Today, I had a life force sucking meeting at 9:10 AM and that meant I had to be a bit more expedient getting into work. Who schedules a meeting for 9:10 AM? I could have taken the longer route yesterday, but I didn’t, because I was running a bit late in the morning. I am glad I didn’t do the longer bike route, because of the heat, although I was in no rush going home and could have taken it real easy. The university is coming back into session and part of my bike commute (long or short) is inconvenienced by all the college coeds out on the bike paths, running, biking, skating, etc. But the “scenery” is very nice.

8.25.2013

I Am Going to Sleep (and Karma)

The headline of this post is "I Am Going to Sleep." The only reason that is the headline of this post is because it is filler, for now. I have no idea where this post is going to go. It is a stream of consciousness. Sometimes you just need to unleash the fury and go, no matter what your particular passion. My passion right now happens to be writing, because I want to put a book out on Kindle by the end of the year. That's my goal, and it is very achievable. I only need to eliminate obstacles. There can be no excuses. The book has to be done by the end of the year, and it will. There are, however, obstacles. These are not the same as excuses. Excuses result from obstacles, but they are not the same.

"Oh, that obstacle got in my path, so I could not achieve my goal."

Weak sauce.

This is what people at work say when they have a job to do, but instead goof off and don't do their job.

And that is fine for your job, because who cares?

But when it is your personal goal, you passion, excuses don't cut it. Excuses are equivalent to failure.

You need to "launch." You need to get that idea out the door. At work, you are just working for someone else's idea. Who cares? The more obstacles the better, right? That's job security.

But when you have a goal, you own it. Any failure is your failure, not someone else's. So if there are obstacles, crush them. Remove all obstacles to achieving your goal and seek all the resources to get you there.

Writing a book is easy. I have a computer. I know how to write. I even have a journal. It's an actual pen to paper hard copy journal, into which I write all my book ideas. I will transcribe and edit them later. In fact, I will transcribe a short passage tonight, just for practice. Because, you know, it is getting down to the time when I need to actually "launch" this book.

Even publishing a book is easier than ever. I think anyone with the slightest ability to write in their native language should be writing a book. You don't have to be a great writer. That's what keeps editors in a job. Just network and collaborate with people who can make your writing better by providing input and feedback. It really is that simple. Amazon makes Kindle publishing a snap. That is stage 2, after you actually get done writing.

The third stage of writing a book is actually the hardest. I am surprised no one has focused more effort into removing the obstacles to MARKETING a book. That' hard. How do you get people to know about your book and then get them interested enough to check it out.

I, personally, have that covered. My strategy has been to use social media the way it was intended, to network with like minded "friends." I only have Facebook friends that I actually know and consider friends. When I launch my book, these people will care, and they will spread the word. I could have a million friends on Facebook, who are not actually friends, and not a one of them would give a shit about my book. But the ~100 or so actual real friends I have on my current Facebook will care about my book, maybe buy it, but definitely tell two friends.

That's karma.

My book is not going to cost an arm and a leg. It's a gift. I am not out to make money, even though the book will have value. It is like when I play live music. I like getting paid for performing music, but even when I get less than minimum wage for playing music, I still get a lot of non-monetary VALUE from music that is priceless and cannot equate to dollars. My audience is richer for it, and if they want to throw some back at me in appreciation via tips, or beer sales, OK, I accept.

I might actually put my first book out for FREE. I feel that strongly about it's VALUE that I think people will snatch it up, read it, gain value, and then await my next release, fully willing to pay a premium price because of the showcase they got from my free work of art. I am this way with music too. I am fully willing to come in and play a FREE SHOWCASE for any music venue, on the grounds that if we rock ass and bring in a good crowd of thirsty alcoholics, they will hire us back at a fair price to rock there again.

The transcription follows my sign off.

Joe

RE:

Most corporate work environments resemble a primate social hierarchy, such as you might see in the remote mountains of the Congo (Note: I have never been to the Congo, but if the nature programs are to be believed...). There are alpha and beta members of the corporate social order. The selection force at work is the corporate work environment, and every ecosystem selects for particular traits. The corporate work environment, much like the natural biological environment, determines who will become alphas and who will remain betas. To secure their alpha status, the alphas surround themselves with the most submissive betas, and reward these betas with perks to keep them submissive. This is the corporate work environment equivalent of primate "mounting" to secure submissive behavior. Alphas "mount" betas by making demands of the betas in the form of requests for work output. Any demand is fair game. The betas that submit and do the "busy work" are rewarded, while the betas that resist or refuse are punished. 80% of corporate work is simply alpha dominance behavior to secure loyalty and only 20%, approximately, is actual meaningful work.

As in primate societies, there are interlopers. These are the betas who appear to be submissive, but who have found ways to circumvent the alphas, unbeknownst to the alphas. Your goal as a corporate employee is to be an interloper, doing the 20% of actual meaningful work, while finding ways to completely (and I do mean COMPLETELY) avoid the 80% meaningless nonsense wasteful work. It is not as hard as it sounds.

The key here is OWNERSHIP. The alphas OWN the meaningless work of getting betas to SUBMIT. That means if the meaningless busy work does not get done, only the alpha OWNER has skin in the game. Betas submit to alphas out of sympathy, but they have no skin in the game. If the meaningless busy work does not get done, there is no harm done. In fact, the alpha just looks bad and gets knocked down the totem pole a little bit. The beta actually moves up the totem pole by standing up to an alpha. Alphas back down surprisingly often when stood up to by a beta. The problem is, as in nature, that betas often back down and do the busy work, degrading themselves and empowering the alphas to make more meaningless busy work. Don't do it. Resist all but the 20% of actual meaningful work. You know intuitively what this is, and you can use it as a weapon against busy work. "Well, boss, I would have done that meaningless busy work, but unfortunately, this actual meaningful work took all my time and resources. Too bad you own the meaningless busy work and now look like a total tool."

Easy Weekend

Today is Sunday, AUgust 25, 2013. In a short time here, a friend and I will head over to the Botanic Gardens in Madison, to mill about. Then we might stop by Orton Park Fest in Madison and see what is going on. If we still have the gumption after that, we may head over the the Middleton Good Neighbor Fest. Very easy and lazy Sunday. Yesterday was pretty easy and lazy too. Mostly it involved hanging out at my buddy MG's house and sipping beer and eating snack type foods and side dishes. It required almost no effort. I brought a six pack of good microbrew to the shindig, along with a watermelon and some chips. I left the shindig with a mixed six pack consisting of some of the micros I brought along with some Negro Modelos that were brought to the shindig by MG's friend and ex-neighbor, Arturo. This morning, we cruised down to the Cambridge Bakery and ate quiche. I got a big coffee with soy milk. I felt like my friend ever so slightly judged me for preferring soy milk to real milk. She made some quip like, "This is the Dairy State after all." I took it as a friendly ribbing, because my friend is pretty laissez faire about lifestyle choices. I had brought my acoustic guitar to the shindig at MG's yesterday, but the opportunity did not arise to play it. Most of MG's other friends are married with kids and there were lots of toddlers and infants distracting the adults, which would not have made a good audience for playing music. On the other hand, maybe I am wrong. Perhaps the kids would have been entranced by the music and it actually would have helped the adults with their childcare duties. After the bakery, this morning, we took a short walk down the bike trail that leads to the Camrock Park mountain biking area. We passed a few single track sign posts and I felt a strong compulsion to take my mountain bike out on those trails here some time soon. I think I may do that later this afternoon, after my friend goes home. If not, then definitely early in the morning before work tomorrow. This week is supposed to be quite warm, weather-wise, which gives me hope that the weather will be quite suitable for Bike With (or Without) Melinda, the annual bike ride I host up at the cabin every Labor Day weekend. I am about done with this stream of consciousness post, so my next step will be to open up a new browser window and visit weather.com, so I can look at the 5- and 10-day forecasts going into the Labor Day weekend. I will talk to you soon.

Joe

8.22.2013

THE MAN Cannot Exploit My Fitness Challenges for HIS Personal Gain

I don’t see much improvement in my pace or running time on my 3.5 mile morning runs, which I have been doing 3 to 4 times per week for about a month now. I have shaved off perhaps a minute on my total time, but this is largely to do with getting out the door more expediently after I start MAP MY RIDE, the GPS app I use to track this crap. I also used to warm up for about 0.25 miles by walking fast, but now I do the warm up as a slow shuffling trot, because I feel like that uses the right muscles, whereas walking uses slightly different ones and doesn’t loosen up my lower back and hip joints as well.

So, my shaved minute is probably artifactual in most respects. But, that’s OK. I do notice that the runs have become easier for me. I settle into a breathing cadence with my feet much faster and instead of thinking about how painful running is, like I did when I started this fitness challenge, I now daydream about other things. I consider that an improvement.

I still get an amazing runner’s high that boosts my energy and mood for the entire day, even when the imbeciles at work make it startlingly difficult to focus and enjoy myself. I win. On top of that, it’s my understanding that exercise in the morning boosts your basal metabolic rate. If that is true, then I am burning slightly more calories all day long than I would if I was not getting morning exercise. When I run in the evening, I don’t get to enjoy the high as long, before I have to go to sleep, and I probably don’t benefit as much from the basal metabolism boost while I am relaxed and sedentary in my bed.

Running makes me more focused and productive at work. I am more resilient to the stress induced by aforementioned imbeciles and I crank out work 1.5 times more efficiently (this is a qualitative estimate). As a result, I can get to work later and/or leave earlier.

Naturally, the improved productivity is not a rationale for THE MAN to give me more work, even if there was more work to give, which there isn’t. My exercise is done on MY TIME and it is not for the benefit of THE MAN. Nor can THE MAN compel me to exercise to get more productivity out of me. Nor does THE MAN have a right to exploit my increased productivity for HIS gain. I am being paid to produce what the average person could reasonably produce and if I am able to increase my efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity in my own way, that is for my benefit only. It means I can get my work done faster and better, and as a result, I can “give myself a raise.” If you disagree, then give me a good rationale for why THE MAN should expect more from me just because I run. Most of my coworkers are sedentary and commensurately lazy and brain dead at the workplace. I am under no obligation to pick up the slack for them. But more importantly, THE MAN has no right or reason to expect me to exercise on HIS behalf. If he dumped more work on me, based on my increased productivity, that would be a losing proposition, because I might decide to stop exercising and then my productivity would drop back to the median levels upon which I was hired for this job, and some of the added work burden would not get done. So THE MAN cannot compel me to run in order to boost his profits. That would be a violation of my civil and lazy American rights. Indeed, when the cold weather comes in a couple of months, my exercising will drop considerably. I hate exercising indoors and I have an aversion to exercising outdoors when it is too cold. My solution is simple…I don’t exercise in winter.

Actually, that is not entirely true. I sometimes set up my indoor bicycle trainer and do that for exercise in the winter. But I don’t like it, as I said, because it is indoors, and it is also not as energizing of a workout as running.

8.21.2013

The Dangerous Strawberry Rhubarb Beer

I know my limits. I do. And this is good.

At jazz last night, the Mason Lounge had on tap some kind of a strawberry and rhubarb ale. It was delightful. Not sickly sweet and more rhubarb tart than strawberry sweet. It was a warm summer night and this beverage was oh so cool and refreshing. The Mason gives us free drinks when we perform jazz and this fruity malted barley soda was my first drink of the night, which is why I became somewhat alarmed when I had almost finished my first glass of the stuff within about three minutes.

I drink about one beer per hour at jazz night most of the time. Largely, this is because I have to drive home afterwards, notwithstanding carpool with the drummer, MG. But it is also because when I am up on stage performing, I don’t have any time or inclination to acquire more drinks. The sets run about 75 minutes and I have one stage beverage to last me that entire interval. I usually get a beer upon arrival at the Mason, a second one just prior to performing, a third at set break (after 75 minutes or so of intense jamming) and a fourth and last one at the start of set #2 (which lasts me another 75 minutes of jamming). After the second set, we are done. I don’t order any drinks at the end, but instead we usually get slices of pizza at Falbo’s pizzeria next door and then tear down our gear and load the car to go home, another 30 minutes at least.

The carpool drive back to MG’s is about 20 minutes and by then I am exhausted and tired, but not in any way intoxicated for my short drive home from MG’s. This is how I control myself.

But that strawberry rhubarb drink was addictive and if I were a weaker man, it might have been going down my gullet like water. I only had two of them last night, interspersed between more pungently flavored beverage fare. As it was, I drank both of them as one might down a glass of orange juice, and by that I mean rather expediently. Dangerous drink.

Joe

8.16.2013

My Bike Commute Today (Long Route)

Last night, before I went to sleep, I set the clock radio for 6 AM, so I could get up early enough to bike commute into work. I had to hit snooze a few times when it went off this morning, but I still managed to be up by 6:30 AM. I downed a big cup of coffee with unsweetened soy milk, fed the dogs and let them out, evacuated my bladder and colon, and left the house about 7:10 AM.

I drove my car, with my bike on the rear bike rack, to the subdivision on the east side of Madison WI where I park to do my “long route” bike commute. It’s on the border with Cottage Grove WI. I unloaded my bike from the rack and put the rack in the back seat of my car, in case of theft. It’s not a bad neighborhood, where I park, but it is not a good one either. Better safe than sorry. I also threw The Club on my steering wheel for the same reason. I know my 2001 Prius is probably not a prized vehicle for theft, but gas prices being what they are, its 50+ mpg could be tempting for some.

I attached my saddlebag containing my work clothes, wallet, and bike accessories to the rear rack on my bike. I secured my 1 watt speaker system and iPod to the handlebars of my cruiser and started the music. I attached my bike computer to its cradle and also started the Map My Ride app on my smart phone, to track my ride distance and mileage, etc.

I wound through the subdivision over to Cottage Grove Road (County Highway BB) and took a left heading toward the city. Cottage Grove Road is mainly downhill from where I turn onto it down to the bike trail. The bike lane on the road is pretty wide and well marked, so the traffic is not too bothersome. I turned right onto the Capitol City Bike path and followed this downtown, where I picked up city streets up to the Capitol Square. King Street was blocked off for no obvious reason, and that was a real pain in the ass, so I took to the sidewalk for the blocked section. I don’t accept people arbitrarily closing off roads for no apparent reason, but it has been happening a lot lately, and that’s unacceptable. I rode around the Capitol Square to State Street, and followed State down to the University. There is bad construction going on at the student union building there, so I took a shortcut over to the bike path that goes through the Union Terrace. In the morning, the terrace is not congested with people, so it is navigable. This linked me to the Lakeshore Path that runs through campus along the edge of Lake Mendota. It’s crushed limestone for a stretch, but totally fine for my cruiser commuter bike, which has fatter hybrid tires. This eventually dumped me out on the road that runs past the UW Hospital on the west end of campus.

After passing the hospital, I wound through the uppity rich liberal subdivision of Shorewood, then took the bike path behind the commercial district along west University Avenue, jumped on another section of bike trail, and ended up on Old Middleton Road. This took me west to Middleton, over a series of rolling hills that make for a good aerobic workout. Old Middleton becomes Main Street in downtown Middleton, then curves around to become High Point Road. As soon as it curved, I jumped on the bike trail that short cuts me over to work. One of the buildings my employer owns has decent shower facilities where I clean up and change into my work clothes, which today are comprised of sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt because I do not recognize business casual dress unless forced to, especially on Fridays.

Overall a decent ride in. The weather was beautiful and is supposed to remain so all day, so my ride home should be good too. I am trying to "give myself a raise" today.

8.15.2013

Beer League

I decided to start a BEER LEAGUE at work to build team cohesion via coworker camaraderie. You would not think this would be sanctioned by middle management, but it totally is. The ROI on Beer League is priceless.

You see, the company already has a management sanctioned GOLF LEAGUE that meets on Wednesdays, starting at 3 PM. Employees join it so they can leave work early on Wednesdays, using the rationale that it benefits the company by way of team building. Although they play golf, plenty of alcohol gets consumed.

But there are a lot of employees who are disenfranchised from Golf League team building, such as myself, who either cannot play golf for whatever reason or think it is the stupidest game ever invented by mankind. Or they despise management and don't want to be in any way associated with or beholden to douchebag managers. But these employees should still have access to a team building outlet. Thus, BEER LEAGUE: All the beer, without the golfing or douchebags.

It's on Thursdays starting at 3 PM.

A good day to you.

Joe

8.14.2013

Morning Aerobics is Key, for Me

I have determined there is no time other than first thing in the morning for aerobic exercise. Once the day gets going, the opportunities to accomplish this daily goal dwindle to nil. In the morning, there are no appointments to waylay you and no douchebags to annoy and interrupt you. The morning is wide open and free. I did not aerobically exercise this morning. My excuse, albeit weak, is that I had jazz night last night at the Mason Lounge in Madison WI. I did not get home until 1:30 AM and I decided to sleep in until 7:30 AM to maximize on sleep. That amounted to about 5.5 hours of sleep, which is tolerable. But getting up that late precluded me getting a morning run in, if I wanted to be at work anywhere close to on time (I didn’t really want to, and in fact I was 30 minutes late anyway, but there you go). This morning exercise rule works for me. It may not work for everyone. I have a coworker who runs at lunchtime, diligently like clockwork. He never goes out to lunch (eats at his desk) but goddammit, he gets his runs in. I have a bad habit of wanting to socialize at lunch, or eat. Anyway, my plan today was to power walk in the late afternoon. I am going to meet a friend for coffee about 4 PM and I was going to power walk to a nearby coffee shoppe to meet her. The walk takes about 25 minutes one way, so I was going to leave work about 3:30 for that. But as it turns out, I have to meet a guy downtown at 3 PM to pick up some gig money from a recent show. I might be able to make it back in time to power walk to meet my friend, but it is not entirely clear if I will. I hope so. I can probably push back the coffee meet by as much as 30 minutes, so I should be able to accomplish my goal. But to do a full power walk, I also need to walk back to work, which won’t be until later on in the evening. Sucks. I am just going to have to make morning workouts the norm, and if I cannot do one on Wednesday mornings because of jazz, then I will just have that be a rest day and not worry about it. Running tomorrow for sure.

Joe

8.13.2013

Metal Band

I am starting a hard rock/metal band with a guy from work. I don't know if it will be any good. But what I do know is it will have to be very high quality to maintain my interest. So the members are all on notice not to let me down. They don't know they are on notice but that's ok because this should be common sense: DON'T SUCK!

Almost Killed by Gramma and Grampa

Bike commuting in this morning, I was almost plowed over by a lead footed grampa and his terrified gramma wife, but for my hard wired suspicion of geriatric drivers. I was following all the traffic laws and waited my turn at the stop sign. After the car to my right went, I went. But the old folks must not have seen me or else they decided that bikes don't have any right to the road. I don't know. All I know is that I asserted my right, forcing gramps to slam on his brakes while gramma looked on in white faced, Depends-wetting terror. I won the battle, but probably not the war, because now grampa has a greater disdain for cyclists...not because I asserted my road rights, but because after he slammed on the brakes, I gave him a duly finger wagging. Old people hate it when youngsters get sassy with them.

I did the short bike commute today, largely due to tardiness. My boss at work is leaving for a new job, because our company now sucks so badly. This sucks for my small team of writers who report to him. They are going to backfill his position, but in the interim we will have to report to an incompetent middle manager. I asked if they will try to hire someone with documentation experience to replace my boss, since technical communications is under him, but incompetent middle manager said that would not be a focus, simultaneously minimizing the importance of quality documentation and illustrating his incompetence.

When I got to work, one of our negative nellie coworkers was griping about something in the lunch room. I had a momentary compulsion to know what would happen if the plastic fork I had in my hand were to get jammed violently into his eye, but I was able to quell that.

I am looking for jobs again, as insurance against the epidemic of imbecilism plaguing my workplace right now, especially after my boss leaves. But whatever, I have a paycheck.

I did a bit of work this morning and then took lunch. It will be a long lunch, so I can work on my book.

Joe

8.11.2013

Meteors

I saw one verifiable perseid meteor (shooting star) tonight in about 10 minutes of sky gazing before I decided it was not worth the strain on my neck to be holding my head in that face-to-the-sky way, just to maybe see a fleeting streak of disintegrated comet entering the upper atmosphere. I may have seen another one earlier in the evening, but it was weak sauce and I cannot verify it was not my eyes playing tricks on me. I feel like the hype surrounding the current perseid meteor shower is overblown. Granted, maybe I was just looking at a bad time. Maybe later tonight, the sky will be veritably ablaze with the things. But my experience of it was lackluster at best. Nature is still very cool though. I am glad I saw the one. I think if you see one shooting star you have pretty much seen them all. On the other hand, a fireball would be awesome. That's usually a substantially larger chunk of material that burrows pretty far down into the atmosphere, before pretty much exploding from heat and speed.

I spent the full day up at the cabin today. I arrived yesterday, and I do not have to head home until tomorrow. I did not have to drive my car at all today. That was cool. I went for a run, a bike ride, and a swim. I guess that means I did a triathlon today, though not in any kind of competitive way. In fact, the swim was essentially a bath. I went into the lake after the bike ride just to clean myself off from exercise sweat and grime. I might have doggie paddled a little, but that's it. This particular lake is spring fed and does have Native American healing powers. The bike ride was a very flat one around the lake, to a coffee shoppe, where my family ate lunch and I consumed a lot of food. The run was legit, a 5k, and also justified aforementioned excessive food consumption. I eat pretty healthy up here at the cabin. It's also fairly low calorie, so it is hard to replenish nutrients lost during exercise without eating larger quantities.

Tomorrow, I have to head home about noon, so I can pick up Buddy at the kennel. On Tuesday, I will have to go back to work. I am not looking forward to it, because our cool boss might be leaving the company for a better job. I want him to leave for a better job. He should. Our company is hemorrhaging talent, because they suck at everything. But what this means is that my team will get a new boss, and the new boss will probably suck goat balls, just for the fact that he still works for this company. I am trying desperately to get out as soon as possible. But I need to find a better opportunity, and that takes time. That means my current employer has time to improve themselves and up their game, but they need to want to do so and they need to hurry.

Joe

Up to the Cottage

This morning, I ran a 5k along the lake road that leads to our cabin on Shell Lake WI. It was a decent but slow paced run. Given my hip pain from last week's running, I did not want to overdo it. So far, no ill effects. I took 2 ibuprofen and 2 aspirin before the run, as well as one of each when I got back. After the run, my family decided to do a bike ride around the lake, to the coffee shoppe and cafe that is on the other side. I joined it, although I bike faster than them. So I biked out ahead of them and then circled back to join them a couple of times. At the cafe, we ate lunch. I had a veggie wrap and a breakfast sandwich. When we got back to the cottage, we went swimming in the lake, upon the shore of which our cabin sits. We just finished eating dinner and I am going to go fishing at dusk and see what I can pull forth.

Only 3 Weeks Until BW(owo)M

Hi Folks. Today is Sunday August 11th.

The means exactly three weeks until Bike With (or Without) Melinda (BW(owo)M), the scenic social bike ride I host every Labor Day weekend up in Shell Lake WI.

Let me tell you a little more about it before you decide if you will come.

My family has a cabin on Shell Lake in northern Wisconsin. It's fully plumbed, but still fairly rustic and "away from it all." The ATV zombies have not encroached on Shell Lake as much as they have in other parts of northern WI, although they are a growing menace. But that is neither here nor there.

In 1999, my friend Melinda and I decided to host an honorary bike ride in her honor on Labor Day weekend. The premise was that she had biked across the United States the prior year, and that seemed like a good enough rationale for a celebration. We also both liked to bike slowly, stopping to socialize a lot. It is not a race.

I have been hosting BW(owo)M every year since, even though Melinda seldom comes anymore (I think she did the first 3 or 4 of them...). But we do it anyway, with or without her, hence the name.

Typically, 5 to 10 friends load their cars up with bikes, gear, and coolers of food and/or beer, and make their way up to our cabin on Saturday of Labor Day weekend (August 31, this year). Triple A says Saturday is actually the lightest traffic day for that weekend, driving wise. People could come up on Friday night, I spose, but I wouldn't recommend it.

On Saturday afternoon and evening, we socialize at the cabin, grilling and doing water sports lakeside, in mental preparation for the next day's bike riding.

On Sunday morning, we get up at a leisurely pace and get ready to ride our bikes. When everyone is ready, coffee'd up and fed (optional...more on this in a minute), we hit the road, usually around 9 AM. The destination is the town of Stone Lake WI, about 26 miles away, mostly riding along a county highway (freshly paved this summer, yea!).

However, we make a few rest stops along the way. The first rest stop is about 4 miles out. It is a place called Rummel's. Mr. Rummel built a saloon in his garage and got a liquor license. It's a neat place. Very northwoodsy. So we "carbo load" there before biking on.

The second stop is about 8 miles out from the cabin (4 from Rummel's), and it is the Katty Shack greasy spoon diner. Remember above when I said breakfast at the cabin was optional? Well, that's only if people think they need some fuel for that first 8 miles of road. Because we stop at Katty Shack for a big greasy and starchy breakfast to power us the rest of the way to Stone Lake.

There are a couple of more optional rest stops between the Katty Shack restaurant and Stone Lake. In any case, we try to get to Stone Lake around lunch time, give or take. The route is not very challenging, just a few rolling hills. My parents usually drive out to Stone Lake in a support car and meet us for lunch and more carbo loading. Sometimes they stop along the route too, to see how we are doing and rescue anyone, if needed.

After lunch, bikers have the option to jump in the support car to go back to the cabin. Stronger bikers may opt to ride the 26 mile return trip, especially since I will be toting 40 watts of bike boom box on my cruiser, pumping out good tunes (weather permitting...but if weather is not permitting, I will probably be taking the support car myself!).

We get back to the cabin in the late afternoon on Sunday for more socializing, grilling, drinking, water sports, and a big spread of food courtesy of my mom.

On Monday, we tidy up the cabin as best we can and people depart at their leisure to go back to their mundane real world lives.

In past years, people have tented out in the yard during BW(owo)M, but due to an abundance of black bears these days, we don't allow that anymore, for liability reasons. There is ample floor space in the cabin though, but everyone should bring a sleeping bag, pillows, and air mattresses.

There's fun stuff to do at night in the town of Shell Lake too, if so desired. There is a wind surfer and a kayak at the cabin and I am happy to show people the basics of wind surfing. It's pretty fun, although if it is really windy, it can be hard to do for beginners.

So, that's the basics of BW(owo)M. Let me know if you want to come.

I have two confirmed attendees and one maybe right now, not including myself. The limit on attendance this year is 8 people, including myself. So that means up to 4 more people can come. Let me know. I totally understand if you have something better to do. But BW(owo)M is where I will be. It's a best value vacation, with free lodging and fun.

See ya.

Joe

8.09.2013

Aerobijazzercizing

I did not aerobicize today. That’s not a real word, but it means “aerobic exercise.” Like jazzercise is jazz and exercise. Jazzercise, though, is a real word, at least according to the MS-Outlook spellchecker wherein I am currently writing this post. Today, our boss is taking us out for sushi lunch, during which he will also shatter the stability of our professional world. More on that later on. Mum is the word for now. Suffice to say, we might be relegated back to working for douchebags again. This work environment is so unstable, with all the good talent leaving the company in droves because it sucks so badly here. I am just basically milking the ridiculous paycheck I was able to negotiate back in February 2013, when I almost left for a new job (probably should have).

Anyway, back to aerobicizing. As you know, if you have been following along, and I hope you have, I’ve been running a lot more the past three weeks. But just in the last week, all this intensive sport has started to irritate my right hip joint. It gets really sore after a run now. I am not sure why. I do know that it is short lasting, usually repairing itself within 24 hours, and that NSAIDs clear it up pretty fast, especially the prescription one my friend gave me the other day. I can also stretch away the aggravation to some extent as well.

But I am going to take it a little easier on the running. Instead of setting the goal to run EVERY weekday, consecutively, I am going to aim for three (3) runs a week, starting on Monday. I will try to space them out so that I don’t run back to back days. The difficulty may be on Thursday and Friday. I like to give myself Saturday and Sunday as free days from exercise, so my body can recover and I can also be a glutton. The latter is kind of irrelevant, but related. In addition to exercise on weekdays, I also try to adhere to my healthy diet, largely vegetarian. But I let myself go crazy on the weekends, because festive activities tend to happen on weekends more often than not, and I am often road tripping places, which makes adhering to my nutrition plan harder.

The point being, I may have to run back to back days on Thursday and Friday. This is why. I usually run on Monday mornings, though biking is sometimes an option, if I do not have my piano lesson on Monday evening after work (I could bike commute to my lesson, but I’d be sweaty). I usually bike commute on Tuesdays, because Tuesday night is jazz night. That means after work on Tuesday, I have to drive home to let the dogs out, before returning to Madison with music gear in the evening to jazz it up. Rather than make two full round trips to Madison on Tuesdays, I bike commute to work during the day (usually park on the east side of Madison and bike to my job on the west side). Then I drive in at night. This saves a little bit of gas. Wednesday mornings are rough, because I am usually up really late on Tuesday night playing jazz, but I usually am able to get in a run in the morning, and that helps to rejuvenate and restore me for the day. If I go to three days of running per week, I could skip Wednesday.

Thursdays, I would also normally run in the morning. I cannot bike commute on Thursdays in the summer because I have CSA pickup after work. If I do not run on Wednesday, I definitely need to run on Thursday. And to get my three runs for the week, if I am not doing Saturday or Sunday runs, I need to run on Friday morning too. However, I can also bike commute on Fridays, a lot of the time. Just not the ones when I have happy hour jazz at 5 pm. Because I can’t get there in time if I bike, and I can’t haul my music gear on my bike either.

Well, I will figure it out. I just wanted to let you know that if I seem to be dithering on the aerobics, it is not slacking off on my part. I am just re-organizing for optimal neuromuscular health (RE: the hip joint).

Joe

8.08.2013

Hilly

I went for a bike ride today at lunch. I had a plan, but it soon became an exploratory mission, because I was sidetracked by a new bike path that was built near work. I decided to take the new branch and it led me up a pretty steep incline, which was fun. But then it just came to an abrupt end in the parking lot of a public golf course. Totally lame. Plus, I hate golf, so that just added insult to injury.

I made my way back to my planned route, but have a taste already for pioneering, I explored a couple of other branches to the bike trail. I actually found a nice back way out to Airport Road, which goes from Middleton to Cross Plains, WI. After that, I took Airport Road west, which is a nice hilly route. I was looking forward to the aerobic challenge of the hills. It is just too bad there were so many SUV driving douchebags on the road. I can’t complain too much though. There is a decent should on Airport Road. There was one truck who was just a dick, driving right up to the line. I had plenty of room but that was still a dick move. It was two lanes and he could have gotten over or at least slowed down a little. But hey, those are the challenges that make biking fun.

I rode out as far as the hill from hell, just to get that little extra aerobic push over the cliff. That grade just sucks the life force right out of me. I was sweating balls and had to pathetically drop all the way down to uber granny gear for a couple minutes. But I made it, so whatever.

Tonight, my team from work is doing a team building at Capital Brewery. That should be fun. Tomorrow, our boss is taking us out for sushi, which is weird. We have a conspiracy theory that he is going to give us some news, along the lines of him leaving our company for a new job. That would kind of suck, because he is a decent boss, albeit kind of checked out most of the time. But he trusts us to do good work, and we like that. If he left, we would report to his boss in the interim and that guy is a total douchewad.

Tomorrow evening, Charlie Painter’s jazz group is doing a happy hour set at the Come Back Inn from 5 to 7 PM, and I will be on bass. We do that fairly regularly on Fridays. Well, that’s probably enough for now. Some coworkers are harshing our respective gigs.

Joe

8.06.2013

Karmic Balance (or "The Unfortunate Chinaman")

I can’t believe how great things are going for me right now. It’s a little bit frightening actually, because the Law of Averages suggests that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s actually also Newton’s Law of Motion, but whatever. The point is, everything averages out. There is an equilibrium of good and bad in the cosmos. There cannot be a karmic imbalance between good and bad fortune in the cosmos. So there are only two ways that I can have this much of an awesome time right now and get away with it. One is spatial and the other is temporal.

SPATIAL
My awesome life could be spatially balanced by someone in China having an amazingly shitty time right now. This is a phenomenon I have named “The Unfortunate Chinaman,” though I am not sure if this is the correct nomenclature (see video below). Anyway, his misfortune balances my good fortune. Every fortune cookie he opens has a message of despair and desolation, as well as all the losing lottery numbers, and the English translation for the Chinese characters for “Fuck You.”



TEMPORAL
Conversely, my current life excellence could be just the apex of an oscillating sine wave that passes up and down through an equilibrium line of mediocrity, carrying me first up to a crest of karmic positivity, and eventually down into a trough of misfortune. If this is the case, my only recourse is just to make sure my “ship” (my body, mind, and soul…though I am skeptical the latter actually exists) sailing this stormy sea of life is constitutionally sound enough to handle being thrown about at the whimsy of the cosmos. That’s why I try to make smart choices, eat healthy, exercise, and have as much fun as possible. I give myself ample down time to restore my “soul” and recuperate from stressful periods. Maybe I just answered my own question, there. If I willfully give myself stressors, then relax for a time, I sort of keep myself oscillating.

Or maybe I am borderline manic depressive, who knows.

I had a job interview this morning. I would be geeked to land this position, from a professional development standpoint. But even if I do not get it, I will not take it to heart. I know I am pretty awesome at what I do, but I may not be the most awesome or the right fit for a given employer. So someone may best me. That doesn't mean I suck. I did my best. I gave it my all. Eventually that will pay off, if not this time, then next.

The main thing is that I proactively applied and interviewed for the job. You can't win the lottery if you do not buy a ticket, and the more tickets you buy, the better your chances of success. I like to keep my resume flying around out in the business world as much as possible. This is to give me a sense of control over my own destiny, however illusory, and to be aware of options and opportunities available so I don't miss a gold mine. But it is also to keep my current employer on notice that they cannot suck continuously if they hope to retain me. They have an obligation to make me care, if they want to keep me. So far they have been failing. I gave them a second chance and waited six months to see if they upped their game. They actually "downed" it. I didn't think it was possible for them to actually make things worse. But that's OK. They have to do what they have to do. I have to do what I have to do. If there is not mutual agreement on what is best for the both of us, I do not expect them to change. I will go where I can have an experience that is better for me.

I do believe in creating one's own destiny. This is probably the real answer to the good/bad karma quandary above. If you float through life following the path of least resistance, instead of proactively kicking ass in your small chunk of cosmos, you will be buffeted about by the whimsy of forces beyond your control. Instead, take control of those forces and make them your bitch. Then you will be happy and have a good life. It's not about how shitty things are right now. It's about whether you are going to let them stay shitty or do something about it.

That is all.

I think. I could be totally wrong.

Joe

8.04.2013

The Weekend

I had a fabulous weekend, though it was all mostly concentrated into Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

I joined this country americana band, DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, a while back (June?) as their bass player. They had booked a gig up north at the Minocqua Brewing Company in Minocqua WI on Friday August 2, long before their old bass player moved to San Francisco and I joined them as his replacement.

I had played with them once already, at Summerfest on July 4. I learned almost half their song repertoire for that. But I still had a lot of schooling to do to nail all the rest of their songs for this August 2 gig. In retrospect, I could have simply used the musical charts with chords and lyrics at the show. I was told I could and the venue was pretty chill. But I wanted to commit everything to muscle memory and not have a crutch. So I practiced hard to learn everything I needed to for the August 2 show. I worked hard and it paid off.

But I did not work nearly as hard as my drummer buddy, Jon, who had to learn the ENTIRE song repertoire in about a fortnight. That was impressive. He pretty much nailed his parts at the show.

Jon is not the regular drummer for DWTD, but he is a pro and he agreed to sub for drummer Rob for this road gig. I met Jon at his house in Madison on Friday afternoon, about 2:30 pm. We loaded gear and road tripped on up to Minocqua WI. It's kind of a commercialized resort town with a bunch of lakes. We got there about 6 pm, loaded in our music gear, and then ate dinner, compliments of the brewery, who also gave us free beverages all night.

I appreciate a music venue that treats the performers the right way. In Madison WI, the music venues treat bands kind of shitty by comparison. They are always trying to short change bands and put all these terms and conditions on everything, so it isn't even worth jumping through the hoops to play at Madison venues and the local music scene there is suffering as a result. Bands really need to get out into the countryside, like DWTD did on Friday, and play for audiences who are craving live music because good bands don't come through that often.

Driving 3.5 hours for a gig is OK if the gig and the venue are high quality. Minocqua Brewing Company was such a venue.

After the show, we did some acoustic jams in the bar, without amps (except for the electric bass, which had to be plugged in). A couple of the bar patrons stuck around to hear it and I think we made some new friends and fans. When we got tired, the bar owner said we could camp out in the back yard of the brewery. It was a nice cool night, so that is what we did. No tents or anything. It turns out this was risky. The brewery grounds have an automated sprinkler system. Luckily, they did not turn on in the morning.

What did turn on though was loud music from two sources. The brewery cleaning staff arrived about 6 AM to do their work, and they cranked up the music in the bar so that it could be heard outside. On top of that, there was some kind of charity fun run in the park adjacent to the brewery and they started playing music on a PA system about 6 AM too.

So we all got hardly any sleep. But we went and got coffee as soon as we could.

My whole family came to Minocqua on Friday night, passing through on the way back from the U.P. of Michigan. They were tired and did not stay for too much of the DWTD show, but it was good to see them. I met them for breakfast at their motel in the morning to say farewell before they headed back to our cabin in Shell Lake WI. I only ate a yogurt with them, because the band planned to go out to a northwoods greasy spoon called the Black Bear Bar and Grill for breakfast.

After the band ate, Jon and I parted ways with the brothers Knudson (Jon Knudson: acoustic guitar; Ryan Knudson: pedal steel). They, sadly, had to go to a funeral. Jon and I road tripped it back to Madison WI, exhausted in the way only good rocking can exhaust you.

8.02.2013

A Rock-n-Roll Super Cell

At lunch time today, I will quietly slip away from work and make my way progressively toward Minocqua WI. Once there, I will join forces with other members of the band DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS and we will implement our well planned and honed conspiracy to rock the socks off the patrons at one Minocqua Brewing Company.

For those of you who don’t believe in conspiracy theories, we will prove you wrong. We have been planning this for some time, right under your noses, in plain sight. We appeared to be just another humdrum band rehearsing songs, then road tripping at our own expense to some far off place to perform a handful of generic cover songs to a disinterested crowd of local microbrew officianados.

But tonight, as the socks are being violently torn from the feet of these poor souls, you will know our true power and bow down before the might of alt country Americana. You have been warned.