10.31.2014

Happy Halloween

Today, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and powerful enough "spooks" can fairly easily push their way through your bathroom mirror, the sheer curtains of your bedroom window, telephone lines, and any crack or crevice in the foundation of your home (closest part of your house to Hell), to roam our world. So be careful.

Because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, and follows closely on the heels of a partial solar eclipse, the spooks are free to roam for the entire weekend, not just the day. The "dark magic" of this year's Halloween should be evident by the sudden plunge in temperatures (at least in Wisconsin) after midnight last night. This "chill" is the result of a sudden surge of phantom power (Note: any use of microphones this weekend will be confounded by "ghosts in the machine," such as static and technical difficulties...so musicians, be sure to bring lots of redundant equipment) and spiritual leakage (some attribute this to Satan's anal leakage).

As you may know, folklore indicates that spooks who enter our world on All Hallows Eve often seek out the living to "possess" while they are here, so they can have a more material experience...usually using your carnal being to DEBAUCH in some way, or many ways. This has pros and cons. It allows you to rationalize your debauchery away on Monday, but also strengthens the power of the spooks to return again whenever they please.

Halloween costumes evolved as a means to prevent possessions. Spooks, it turns out, are not very sharp, due to being dead. Their limited senses are overwhelmed by the transition between worlds and when they see a mortal in costume, they are usually fooled into thinking it is another spook or phantom or sexy pirate, and they move on. The costume is a sort of spiritual armor and the more you indulge your inner sexy pirate, the more protection you have.

Arr, matey!

Several of my country band members in the DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS will be actively pulling dead rocks stars across this barrier, most notably Roy Orbison and George Harrison, when we costume ourselves up as the Traveling Wilburys tonight to perform their music at the Minocqua Brewing Company in Minocqua WI (where else?).

10.30.2014

Raging on a Full Eight

Last night I did a wise thing.

I gave myself a night off to rest and relax.

You see, I am an artist…a writer and musician. Not necessarily a good one, but a hard-working, driven, and dedicated one. I am a strong believer that success at art is 90% PRACTICE and 10% TALENT (not that I come close to hitting that ratio…but that’s why I am not awesome, just pretty good). Relying too much on TALENT won’t get you far, though you can hobble along fooling 90% of people with just talent.

As an artist, I am self-employed. That means I am my own boss, as well as my own employee, responsible for my own livelihood, and I have to be disciplined and focused and put in a lot of time on my art to succeed at it (Note: I have ample underwriting for my art by way of a day job, but that takes a lot of time away that could be put toward art…it’s a fine balance, because you need Maslow’s basic needs met in order to be free to pursue art).

Even when I am disciplined, focused, and work long hours, I still sometimes don’t succeed, but I am getting better at saying NO to things that I am lackluster about. As Derek Sivers once said (paraphrasing), “There are only two responses to choose from when deciding whether to do something…HELL YES or NO.” That is, as a formula for where to direct your efforts, if something doesn’t make you say, “HELL YES!” then say, “NO.” There is no just plain YES. This isn’t always possible, but it is a good guideline when it is possible, in the pursuit of art. It really cuts out a lot of the BS that life throws your way.

Luckily, my boss and my employee are on the same page, most of the time, both working for the same shared vision of producing quality art (songwriting, live music performances, and written word). None the less, sometimes my employee gets tired out or distracted by less productive things. My boss has a good sense of when he can push my employee a little bit further.

For example, sometimes there is RESISTANCE to doing my art. This can take many forms from laziness to distraction. But these forms of resistance are just minor hurdles that can be overcome with the application of a bit of will power. Once I am into the doing of the art itself, I get that feeling of HELL YES that drives me to continue doing it, overcoming resistance. It is sort of like out of sight, out of mind. When the factors causing resistance are put away, the temptation to indulge laziness or distraction are eliminated.

A good boss has to recognize when downtime is legitimate though. This past week I have been pushing myself really hard, making myself work on music because of some music performances coming up and the new band I joined. This has kept me up later at night than usual, and I was a bit sleep deprived and fatigued by last night. This is different than laziness. It was legitimate fatigue. I knew that I could force myself to practice some music, and I would probably enjoy it and go late, but I also knew that my fatigued mind and body would not benefit as much from doing so. It would be like squeezing blood out of a stone, a Law of Diminishing Returns. I needed to empty the stress cup and rejuvenate a bit.

So I did. I took the night off from rocking and got an early night. The effort I had put in last weekend and earlier in the week had definitely paid off. At country band practice Tuesday night, I was on top of my parts and my vocal lines. Still, I wanted to practice on Wednesday night at home so as to solidify some of the vocal parts we decided on at practice. But I knew that would just be frosting on my already tasty musical cake, above and beyond the call of duty. I also knew my band mates would not be making any such extra small push over the cliff. Not that I should allow that to be an excuse to avoid working on the music, but I recognized that it would be overkill, and my efforts earlier in the week had given me a bit of an artistic talent SURPLUS as far as the upcoming gigs, and I now had the flexibility to spend that surplus for my own benefit.

I made a nice dinner and watched some Netflix, then I went to bed, read a little bit of the WAR OF ART, and slept a full hard eight hours. I felt great in the morning. I had emptied the stress cup and it was ready to be filled again with more hard work, starting tonight, when I will work on vocal harmonies with Tim (Eddie) of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE. After that, I will refresh the Traveling Wilburys songs the country band is playing up north for a Halloween show on Friday night. That will keep me up pretty late, but it will be fine because I am no longer overflowing the stress cup. That will happen sometime on Friday night, after the long drive up to Minoqua WI to play the country gig. Lucky for me, that is the last music performance for a fortnight, when GUPPY EFFECT hosts a Big Lebowski themed rocknroll bowling party at Tower Lanes in Beaver Dam WI on Friday November 14. I’ll have ample time to prep for that show. GUPPY EFFECT material is pretty much honed and we aren’t adding any new material for that show. After that, I am probably not going to book any GUPPY EFFECT shows until spring, with the possible exception of the youth hockey fundraiser we often perform at in early February (do it for the children!). I hate playing shows in the winter because I hate driving in that weather and so does everyone else, which means they do not come out to shows…they hunker down at home with hot cocoa. If one of my bandmates books a HELL YES kind of show (high pay, close to home, etc.) during the winter months, I would do it. Otherwise, NO.

10.29.2014

My Boss Gave Me the Night Off

Firstly, my boss is me. Secondly, I gave me the night off to rest and relax. I have been working overtime at my self employment job of music the past few days, prepping for gigs and the new band. It's hard work and goes late at night. Since I had a rare night off from band practices, I decided to use it for mental rejuvenation, which is just as important as music practice.

I made a leisurely dinner and watched some Netflix. After this post I will go to bed and read a new book (The War of Art) until I fall asleep.

I have found that my productivity is actually better when I make time for rest. It allows the neurons to gel a bit. If I am always driving and pushing, there is a Law of Diminishing Returns at work. For example, sometimes with piano practice, if I step a way for a few days, I find I have improved a little bit when I return to it. It is like my brain is crunching data and running reports during the downtime.

Tomorrow night I'll be back on the job honing vocal harmonies with Tim (Eddie) of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, the clever punk rock band I just joined after passing last week's audition, and putting the final touches on country band songs. Because Friday night it is a road trip up to Minocqua WI (again) with the country band, for a Halloween show as the Traveling Wilburys (group costume and setlist).



I am kind of annoyed about this Minocqua gig because it is on a Friday and far away from Madison. I don't like the long road trips on Fridays because I have to leave work early and I am usually tired. Much nicer on Saturdays when I can sleep in and we can take our time to get there. Also the pay for this gig won't be worth the effort. But it won't be a loss, so that's cool. Plus I will have the rest of the weekend free for fun stuff in Madison, most notably going to see a bunch of bands on Saturday night at the Frequency.

10.27.2014

A Week of Rocking and Singing

It’s going to be a musically dense week for me.

Tonight (Monday), I am going to continue to hone Traveling Wilburys songs in advance of tomorrow’s country band practice and Friday’s Halloween Party, at which the country band will be emulating the Wilburys via group costume at the Minocqua Brewing Company. I am going as Jeff Lynn.

Before tonight’s practice session though, I will be grilling on my patio, because it is a beautiful sunny day today, in the low seventies, and that’s too compelling to pass up. Thanks global warming!

Tuesday night is country band practice, with the Wilburys focus, as I said.

Normally, I would have punk rock band practice on Wednesday nights, but that band had to suspend practice for this Wednesday because of a scheduling conflict. So I will have to practice EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE songs on my own that night. However, the main vocalists in the punk rock band (everyone but the drummer) will get together on Thursday night to rehearse vocal harmonies, which are extremely tight in this band. I will have to cancel my RSVP to a holiday social event at the Vintage Brewery for that night because of the reschedule, but that’s totally fine with me. Rocking is a priority and sacrosanct. Plus, the sooner I get up to speed on the EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE songs, the sooner we’ll be playing shows.



Depending on when the punk rocking is done on Thursday, I will probably do another run through of the Wilburys tunes for the country band. Or, if there is time, I might catch the tail end of the aforementioned social at Vintage, since it is so close to my house. But I will feel guilty about it if the rocking is not up to par. As you know, I am a very driven and dedicated rocker, and I like to be 110% on my performance, even though I don’t usually have to worry about being the weak link in the chain, because with the exception of the punk rock band, most of my music collaborators aren’t quite as fanatically driven as me. In fact, I probably work myself too hard on some stuff. I am glad I have another music project to keep me on my toes, especially since I am playing guitar and singing backup in the punk rock band, which pushes me and takes me a little ways out of my comfort zone. I have been pretty geeked about this band, because the songwriting is fantastic - clever and catchy. I think the best word to describe the lyrical humor is WRY. WRY HUMOR.

Then, Friday afternoon, the country band will head up north to wow people with our lifelike Wilburys getup. If this road trip is like previous ones, I’ll car pool with the drummer, Jon, and electric guitarist, Kyle. I booked us a motel across from the venue, also like last time, so we can hang out on the town a bit after the gig and not have to drive anywhere. That costs a bit of money, but the convenience is priceless. Plus, it is divided 5 ways and we get an all you can eat breakfast buffet on Saturday morning. The drive back to Madison on Saturday is sure to be a long one, because we will have post-rocking fatigue. A power nap on Saturday afternoon may be in order, before I head downtown to hear some punk rock and metal bands at the Frequency. Tim (aka Eddie) from Eddie Ate Dynamite is in one of the bands that is playing, called Government Zero.

I will have a respite from the rocking on Sunday…not that I need one. But I may pop into the Funk’s Open Jam on Sunday night, since I have not attended in a while. Optimally, I could persuade GUPPY EFFECT to rock a short set there, but I know it would be difficult to cajole them into doing it. It’s fun to play with my band though. The jams are OK, but they are usually always the same songs and I get a little bored with them sometimes. But it is still a good opportunity to improvise and it never hurts to exercise the ol’ vocal chords, in the interests of becoming a better singer.

You know, I never planned to be a rock singer. It’s interesting how that came about. I was in a band in college (Iowa State) and we had a female singer. Apparently, she did not see eye to eye with us on a few things and she quit 3 days before a gig, so rather than cancel the gig (weak), I learned to sing as many of the songs as I could and we played the show anyway. I would hate to listen to a recording of my vocals from that gig today, as I am sure I lacked the vocal power and richness that I have gained over the years. But anyway, that’s how I was forced into being a rock vocalist, by a woman! Baptism by fire.

10.24.2014

Somehow I Made It Through This Action Packed Week

It was touch and go, but I somehow made it through this week. TGIFF!

It was not an unfun week. It was simply packed to the gills with action, which was a little overwhelming. I was able to channel my inner Dude to stay calm and focused, but it took some real effort.

The weekend that preambled this week offered no respite either. My country band, the DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, had a show on Saturday October 18 way the eff up north at the Minocqua Brewing Company (we are there again for Halloween on Friday October 31, FYI). We didn’t get a lot of sleep because we went out on the town after the gig and then the five of us piled into a small motel room across the street from the pub. Granted, the motel had a free breakfast buffet on Sunday morning, complete with eggs and meat byproducts, which was awesome and saved us time getting out of there. But we were all tired for the drive home.

While my band mates indicated strong intentions to take power naps when they got home from Minocqua, I decided to power through. I actually laid down for a little while but I could not sleep. When I rose, I went out and raked leaves in the yard until it got dark, and was energized by the sense of accomplishment, so then I went down in the music room and practiced TRAVELING WILBURYS songs for the October 31 gig (the country band will be costuming up as the members of the Traveling Wilburys…and the audience will be treated to Bob Dylan on pedal steel). The country band had rehearsal on Monday night, and we started going through the repertoire of Wilburys songs we want to play at the gig. I was the only one who actually practiced ahead of band practice, but we had played many of these songs before, so it did not take long for them to come back to the rest of the group.

Tuesday morning, I had to take Buddy in to the vet to get his surgery stitches removed. All went smoothly and he finally got to take that ridiculous cone of his head. He banged that thing into everything at home, including my bare legs. Very happy to see that thing gone. Buddy seems well. Hopefully the cancer does not come back for a while, but the way I see it, and you can call it callous, is that he is going to die from something. He can’t live forever. He is 14 years old and then some, so I need to embrace the fact that his days are numbered (and multiplied by 7 because he is a dog).

On Tuesday night, I had my last piano class at the UW-Madison, and then met with Tim (aka Eddie) of the band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, with whom I would be auditioning on Wednesday night for the role of rhythm guitar and backing vocals, to go over vocal harmonies. That was productive, though it cut into my time for learning the guitar parts that accompany the backing vocals. So I stayed up pretty late mastering the material.



The audition and jams with EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE went smoothly on Wednesday night. I had a few biffs, mainly to do with singing and playing at the same time, because the songs were so new to me, but it was clear to them (and me) that I had done my homework and would be able to handle the power punk rock music amply well. So I am IN! I am mainly going to be supporting Tim’s lead guitar parts and holding down the changes when he solos, so the main focus is on backing vocals. It will be great for me to get a little more guitar exposure and will definitely improve my skills and my sense of song. I just need to put in the elbow grease to get up to speed.

I had agreed to tend to my friend Kat’s cats while she and Stefan (guitarist in my other band, GUPPY EFFECT) were vacationing in New Mexico, starting Wednesday. They live really close to me and wanted me to swing by there about 5 PM each night they were gone to feed the cats and check up on the place. I didn’t have enough time to get there after work and before the EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE audition on Wednesday, but I was able to get there later that night and the cats didn’t seem to give a crap. That was one of the two times during the week where I had to let something slip a little. The other was my volunteering with the WORT radio station in Madison. I am helping them post archived broadcasts to their RADIO LITERATURE program, and I usually try to do one per week. It takes a couple hours, but I just didn’t have a free two hour block this week, so it slipped. I will catch up on the weekend.

Thursday night, I went with my friend Danielle to do a free spinning class, which was fun but basically a sales pitch to get members to the indoor spinning club, which is not my bag at all. It was the most boring thing ever. They had music playing, but it was mediocre. I can hook my bike up to my trainer at home for free and watch Netflix while I work out for $9/month vs. the $150/month needed to join this spinning bike place. No thanks. The world is my gymnasium.

After I got home from the spinning class, I considered vegging out in front of the TV, but instead, I forced myself to go down to my music room and start practicing music. Once I got into it, it was compelling and fun, and I ended up practicing for a solid couple of hours and made great progress.

Now it is Friday. It is very near the end of the workday, and the end of a productive work week. A part of me, a good part of me, wants to hunker down and practice more music tonight. But this time I am going to use reverse will power and force myself to take a night off from practicing and relax. Sherry and I are going to go to the Willy Street Roman Candle pizzeria and take advantage of their extended happier hour around 8 PM. We might go look for a live band at the Wisco or someplace around there too.

I am taking my new used Prius out to Cambridge tomorrow so my trusty mechanic there can determine why the MAINTENANCE REQUIRED light has come on. It’s not due for planned maintenance for a couple thousand miles yet, so not sure what that is about. The car seems to drive fine, although when I start it up, I hear this electrical clicking sound in the back near the hybrid battery. Hopefully it is nothing. I have had a few issues with tire pressure and the car makes a whole bunch of weird noises when you turn it off. Sounds like louvres closing or something. I will ask my mechanic if that is normal too, although that might be a dealership question. But at least he can read the computer and see what codes it is throwing to turn on the MAINTENANCE REQUIRED light. Then if it is serious, I can take it to the dealership and get it taken care of under warranty.

After the visit with Terry the mechanic, I’ll continue on to Whitewater and drop my commuter bike off at BicycleWise so that owner John can fix a broken spoke and maybe determine if I need a new wheel (hub and rim) since this is the second spoke to break in as many months. When I get home from these errands, I plan to rock in the Rock Room until Sherry and I head to Lake Mills for a Halloween party on Saturday night. Sunday morning bodes for raking leaves in my yard, as of right now, though when that is done, I will practice music some more in the remaining time. In the afternoon, there is a possible social gathering of Madison atheists and skeptics at the Unitarian church in the afternoon. Sunday night, I may go down to Lake Geneva WI and visit some RAGBRAI friends, Nick and Shawn. That might be a bit of a long shot, depending on how tired I am. The other option is to go to the open jam at Funks.

Action packed!

Wishful Doing and Zen Discipline

I have said before that wishful thinking is actually WISHFUL DOING, when you get right down to it.

Nothing is going to happen by itself because I think about doing it. I have to actually do it.

For example, last night after I got home from the free spinning class I did with Danielle, I warmed some homemade Thai curry in the microwave and turned on Netflix (I am re-watching the series LOST to see if it makes any sense to me this time around).

After the bowl was empty, I thought to myself, “I really should go work on practicing EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE songs down in my music room…or, I could watch another episode of LOST.” (NOTE: EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is the clever catchy punk rock band I just joined after a successful audition.)

The wishful thinking about honing Eddie songs wasn’t going to hone them. My brain began to rationalize in typical defense mechanism fashion, “But Joe, you just finished a spinning class…you are tired…a Man’s got to relax just as much as he works to stay sane and healthy…chill out and work on songs this weekend, when you’ll have all kinds of time…”

I recognized this trick my own mind was playing against me. Purposefully, I did not wait for the cliffhanger end of the LOST episode I was on, which would work against me practicing music and toward me watching the next episode to see if Anna Lucia really does shoot “Henry” in cold blood in the hatch (even though I knew the answer…from the first time through the series).

I waited for a scene transition, and then powered off the TV, rinsed out my bowl, and headed down into the Rock Cave to WISHFULLY DO the hard work of rocking. Once I got into the music practice, it flowed like water down a little waterfall in a stream out in the middle of the woods somewhere. I just had to overcome the hurdle between WISHFUL THINKING and WISHFUL DOING.

Once the DOING was underway…actual progress was made.


10.23.2014

You Will Never Guess Where I Am...

I am walking on a treadmill in the rec room at work.

This is unusual for me because as many of my readers know (all two of them), I prefer to exercise outdoors.

The world is my gymnasium, I like to say. But it is raining in my gymnasium right now...

I am only going to spend 20 minutes on this device. Tonight I am doing a two-hour spinning class that will more than accomplish my workout goal for today. But I needed a break from sitting at my desk, so this is it.

They Liked My Hat

I auditioned on rhythm guitar and backing vocals for a band called Eddie Ate Dynamite, and I landed the gig, which is awesome.

The band leader is named Tim (aka Eddie), a guy I know from the Madison music scene, and also from FAWM, the February songwriting challenge I do every year. I have always been impressed with his catchy and dryly humorous songs, so when I saw he was looking to fill a position in the band for a second supporting guitar (he plays lead) and backup singer, I jumped at the chance.

I am not an awesome guitarist by any means. I’m decent and passable, but I am a bass player by trade. I practiced hard for the audition and also got some good tips from Tim the night before the audish, so that our guitar sounds and vocal lines were complimentary. My guitar playing in this band is largely supporting and filling out Tim’s sound and chunking out the rhythm guitar lines when he solos. The bigger contribution I bring to the band is on backing vocals, because I am really good with harmonies. Because guitar is not second nature to me, the biggest challenge is not the guitar parts or the vocals, per se, but rather combining the two…singing and playing at the same time on the songs, which are often fast and have dynamic rhythms and harmonies.

But that’s a skill that I can gain in this band, which will make me a better musician. So it is a win-win. I really enjoy the music, so I am compelled to practice and push myself and master it. It forces me to get out of my comfort zone of bass and vocals, which is pretty easy.

This is evidenced by the fact that after I got home from the audition, I practiced the Eddie Ate Dynamite material for a couple more hours, honing some of the vocal parts we had come up with at the jam so that I could solidify them in my mind. This is a good sign that the band is a good fit for me.

It is nice to be able to do more guitar stuff in my music projects too. I play bass in the country band DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS and my rock-n-roll band GUPPY EFFECT, and I am fully pro there and in my comfort zone most of the time. Eddie Ate Dynamite will push me and challenge me, and that’s awesome. The musicians in the band are top notch and people I have respected in the Madison music scene for a long time (although, admittedly, I had not met their bass player until last night). The drummer, Dan, has played in a few Madison bands, most notably Axiom, with whom GUPPY EFFECT has shared the stage in the past. I have their CD and it is great heavy metal music. All of them are really fun people, which is a big part of the enjoyment of playing music.

Audiences will be completely powerless against their catchy brand of power punk rock songs. Here is a case in point…



Note: Most of their songs are the standard 2 to 3 minute face melters. This shorty is just the meme that will rule the world one day. For now, it just explains the title of this blog post though. They liked my hat, where hat = style.

I Finished a Book - YEA!

I finished a book. A novel, in fact.

It is by Ruth Ozeki, and titled "All Over Creation."

The fact that I actually finished a book speaks to its quality, if you want the quick and dirty binary rating, thumbs up or down. That means I gave it a thumbs up. I am notoriously bad about finishing books that do not engage me or that lose my interest.

There are a couple of main threads to the story, one of them individual, the other social. The plot centers around potato farming in Idaho and the growth of GMO foods and pesticide use. A prodigal child (Yumi) returns home to the Idaho potato farm of her youth, from Hawaii, because her father (Lloyd) is dying, and her Japanese mother (Momoko) is too old and senile to take care of him. One of her childhood friends (Cass) now runs a neighboring potato farm, along with her husband (Will), and they've been taking care of the old folks, but now that Lloyd has had a heart attack and Momoko is losing it, they can't handle it, which is why Yumi gets called back from Hawaii.

Turns out, Yumi ran away after getting pregnant by way of her history teacher at age 14 (that aspect of the plot is a little grim, but more on that later). Yumi's dying dad is and was a staunch pro-lifer, and he basically disowned her when she got an abortion. Yumi went off and became a hippie and had three kids, one of them now just an infant, who also return with her from Hawaii.

Cass and Will are grappling with a different human drama. Cass is unable to bear children and she suspects it has to do with the toxic pesticides used on the potato fields. She had not one but two miscarriages in the past and has given up hope of having a child. Will has gone to GMO potatoes in hopes of reducing pesticide "inputs" on his fields.

There is a bit of angst between Cass and Yumi, which is really just resentment by Cass that Yumi abandoned her when they were kids, and now Cass is caring for Yumi's folks, when Yumi should have been there. They hash this out and resume a solid friendship.

Meanwhile, some environmental activists come on the scene (the Seeds of Change) and befriend Yumi's teenage kids (boy Phoenix and girl Ocean), eventually parking their RV on Lloyd's property and getting on Lloyd's good side by appealing to his pro-lifer beliefs in regard to agriculture and seeds and soil. They convince him that GMOs and pesticides and the corporations that make them are anti-life (and they convince the readers too, fairly well) and he agrees to let them hold a big rally on his land.

Well, the rally gets a little out of hand as the activists pull GMO potatoes out of the ground on Will's neighboring fields in protest. Cops are called and things go down.

The other plotline is that Yumi's statutory raping history teacher (Elliot) now works for an evil, greedy GMO and pesticide multinational corporation (yep, a real douchebag), called Cynaco (basically Monsanto). He comes on the scene and somehow manages to manipulate Yumi into having a sexual relationship with him again (he's basically a bully, but she's trying to resolve her childhood issues through him). Then he uses her to get info about the activists and their rally. He ends up hiring a thug to cause trouble for the activists (side note: the activists also run a porn site to raise money for their operations...). Ultimately, an "accident" happens that kills one of the activists (Charmey), who was a new teen mom (her child fathered by another of the activists). The RV explodes while she (but not the baby) is in it and the cops, who are totally in the pocket of the potato agro-industrialists, cannot say it was not an accident. But the Seeds, Yumi, and Cass know. On top of that, the explosion pushes Lloyd into another heart attack that spells his rapid demise. Yumi is shamed because of her rekindled relationship with Elliot and gets a wake-up call about her poor life choices. Elliot does too, because he did not want anyone to be harmed or killed, but he loses control of the situation with the corporate thug. He does redeem himself partially by quitting his sh!tty job, but he is still a creep.

The plot doesn't have a lot of closure. Everyone kind of goes back to where they came from, Yumi to Hawaii, the Seeds off to fight the good environmental fight on the west coast. The resolution I suppose is that Cass and Will end up adopting the infant whose mom, Charmey, was incinerated in the RV explosion.

I think there is a moral theme about pro-life in this book. I think the book was a gift from someone I know who is a fundamentalist Christian, so that would make sense. But this theme wasn't overbearing or even particularly critical to the plot. In fact, it ends up being the Achilles heel that persuades Lloyd to let the activists ingratiate themselves on everyone. Depending on your perspective, you might attribute the disastrous turn of events to the environmental activists (had they not shown up, none of it would have gone down as it did) or to the multinational agri-business (had Elliot not sold out and hired a thug, none of it would have gone down as it did).

Anyway, I fall back on my original review rating: THUMBS UP.

If anyone wants to read it (now that I have spoiled the entire plot...but there's a lot more to it than my summary), I will gladly pay my copy forward. Let me know.

10.22.2014

Maintaining My Inner Dude

Sometimes I get anxious and feel overwhelmed. Lately, when this happens, I try to release my inner Dude and “take it easy.”

It seems to work.

I’ll notice myself feeling nervous or stressed about something, and then I will redirect my thinking on it. By realizing and admitting that my emotional fight or flight reaction to stress is driven by primitive fear originating in my brainstem, I force my higher cortical brain to tame the beast, capture it, and cage or kill it.

In a sense, I think of it as doing battle with “the beast.” This translates into seeing the things that stress me out as character building challenges, rather than things to fear and avoid. This totally changes my perspective and my thinking. Instead of fighting or fleeing stressful (but necessary*) things, I face them head on with my proverbial battle axe at the ready. This is much more satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding (synonyms?), and actually results in personal gain. Accomplishing a challenging goal feels good and eliminates anxiety, allowing me to face remaining challenges with greater ease and courage. Sometimes it generates future profit as well, such as when I work on challenging music to perform later with my band.

I think the key is awareness. When you are stressed and anxious, you might let your reptilian brain take over, and fall back on habitual unhealthy behavior patterns that you used in the past to alleviate stress (eating comfort foods, watching mind-numbing TV, ranting on social media, alcohol or drugs, etc.), without really thinking about it. If you can train your human brain to recognize the presence of the irrational animal brain, and give it a steely stare down right in the eyes before clobbering it, then that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.

Note: I would not stare down a polar bear…I would run…there is a reason we have the fight or flight response biologically wired into our physiology…but most fears and anxieties in modern society are overblown and harmless, fueled by corporate media messages intended (willfully or not) to keep the masses afraid and enslaved to the status quo (“Obama is going to destroy America!”).

That’s getting a bit out of the scope of this post. But the point is, I try to harness my inner Dude and face adversity with confidence and serenity. I don’t think I am very good at it, but I am practicing and getting better. It's a form of Zen, I suppose.

There are religious overtones here, of course. I think some people turn to Jesus for a similar sense of fortitude against adversity. If it helps them to stand up to challenges without fear, more power to them. As an atheist, I find the Dude to be a more pragmatic and thoughtful role model.

The idea of “the beast” as the animal side of our humanity also ties into the idea of the Devil in us all. The brainstem is a vestigial part of the human brain that evolved in amphibians and reptiles. It has limited emotional responses, two of which are fear and anger, that often drive people to do harmful things to themselves or others. Psychological defense mechanisms stem from the brainstem. When politicians and advertising media want to persuade people to action, they target the reptilian brain directly, knowing that in most people, fear and anger trump rational thought every time. Politicians tell you their opponents want to destroy your way of life. Advertisers tell you your life is incomplete without their products. This is the proverbial “Devil,” I think…deceiving people into irrational thought or action by poking a stick at their inner reptile.

In the movie BIG LEBOWSKI, I hypothesize that Walter represents the Dude’s id, or reptilian reactionary and emotional brain. Donny represents the ego, questioning and rational thought, and he is constantly bowled over (pun) by Walter’s outspokenness (“Shut the @#$% up, Donny!”), eventually getting killed off because of Walter's impulsiveness. The Dude is always in constant conflict with Walter, and seldom benefits from Walter’s advice.

* Note: Some stresses are not necessary and they can be disenfranchised.

10.21.2014

Not One But Three Million Bucks

I feel like not just a million bucks, but three million. That's because of the 2.5 mile run I went on at lunch.

Filled with my own natural endorphins, I am now stretching my muscles in the "relaxation room" at work, before returning to my desk to finish the workday.

This running at lunch thing is pretty cool. My friend Danielle and I only try for 2 miles or so. We don't push it because of the time constraint of the lunch hour. We got 2.5 miles in today, in about 25 minutes. I still had lots of time to shower and change when I got back to the locker room at work.

We are going running again on Friday.

Next weekend I may drive down to Lake Geneva WI where my filmmaker buddy Nick is working on a film. Another buddy, Shawn, from RAGBRAI will be there too. Maybe Sherry will come.

10.19.2014

Country Band Weekend

While I do wish my country band would book more shows closer to the Madison area, it's still fun to road trip up north to perform, which we did this weekend. We supplied music for a private party on Saturday night at the Minocqua Brewing Company and so there were a lot of people there. We stayed at the hotel across the street from the venue so we didn't have to do any driving after we got done performing. Very convenient.

I didn't sleep great however, and so I was tired today when we drove back to Madison. I tried to take a power nap once I got home, but I couldn't fall asleep, maybe from all the coffee I drank. But after the pseudo nap I raked all the leaves out of my backyard and took them to the curb where they will hopefully get collected by the city this week. They slacked on it last week.

After the raking, I made a nice Paleo stir fry for dinner, with a couple eggs as the protein source, and then practiced songs in my basement. The country band is back up the Minocqua in a fortnight to play Halloween night there. We are dressing up as the musicians in a well known Americana rock band and will emulate them for a set of their challenging musical material. We have played this material before, but not for a long time, so a refresher was needed. When I got through those songs, I practiced punk rock songs on guitar, for the band I am auditioning for this coming Wednesday. It is a long shot for getting into this band, because I am not as nuanced on guitar as I am on bass. I can play the songs just fine (although my forearms burn on some of the faster ones), but I just don't know if I am playing them the way they want them played. But we will find out on Wednesday. The songs are fun, catchy, and clever, so I hope I make the cut. I am setting my expectations low so that if I do get picked it will be fantastic. But if I don't get picked it will be more or less what I expected. I am really driven to learn these songs though and I have been practicing them furiously. That has got to count for something, especially if my competition is less prepared than I am. I am always amazed how ill prepared some people are when they show up for auditions. If they did not master the material for the audition, I interpret that as not really caring about the music and being lazy and unmotivated. So if this band feels the same way, my preparedness should indicate to them that I am driven to learn the material and also care about the art.

Well...I am off to bed.

10.16.2014

I Ran. I Ran So Far Away.

Today I ran at lunch. 3.5 whole miles.

My running partner, Danielle, and I were not planning to run that far.

I miscalculated the turnaround point on the Pheasant Branch Nature Trail.

So we ran. We ran so far away.

I have not run in about a fortnight, so it felt good to get out there again, though I will probably be a bit sore from being out of practice for so long and overdoing it on distance (although I have run 3.5 miles before...just not when I am so out of practice).

I like running at lunch versus the morning. I am more warmed up by noon, not so stiff as I am after a night of sleep. And it gives me a massive energy bump for the afternoon at work.

Maybe It Is Enough to Just Play Music

Yesterday I posted a thesis that it is not enough to just play good music, you also have to uniquely entertain with non-musical elements like theatrics, lights, headgear, and other compelling things to attract the attention of the audience.

In this post I am going to reverse myself. It is enough to play good music...if you are REALLY GOOD.

You see, ultimately it is just about rising above the fray so that your musical "product" is compelling enough to make people want to consume it instead of some other artistic medium that is available to them. People who are looking for live music want the best they can find.

Using non-musical elements to entertain is sort of a shortcut to this. A cop out in a wsy. You are making it a multi-media musical experience. The music itself hasn't changed, but the packaging is prettier. Pretty packaging can sell a mediocre product. But an awesome product needs no packaging. It delivers.

So perhaps I ought to focus on the musical excellence of GUPPY EFFECT, my band, by practicing harder and minimizing biffs and adding more nuances and virtuosity to the music itself. People truly looking for quality music will appreciate this.

Maybe non-musical theatrics is just an excuse to not try to be awesome and hone my craft, or a way to cover up the lack of awesomeness that may exist at present (but could be remedied with more R&D on quality control). Maybe I should focus on making the band awesome as opposed to being OK with just pretty good and nice packaging.

I want a good product. Packaging is not irrelevant but it shouldn't excuse less than awesome product. So I think I will experiment with that.

Then there is James Brown. He wanted excellence in both product and packaging. He would fine his musicians for wrong notes as well as not pressing their jackets and shining their shoes.

The problem is, I am not sure my band is on the same page for quality product either. We are a top notch band compared with most, but there are still a lot of biffs and there is room to grow. My band mates seem to want to avoid band practice if they can. I know that's partly because they have lives outside of band, but band practice night is sacrosanct.

If we want to improve the product...we have to come to work and develop it...strengthen it. I would like to think my band mates are doing this honing of their own skills at home but sometimes they don't and show up to practice unrehearsed. I blame myself for this as band leader. Not everyone is as driven to practice music as I am, even if I try to lead by example. They need direction too. I need to be better about a practice agenda and goals so the lads know what to work on.

I will try to be better about this.

Discipline

In chemical reactions, there is something called the energy hump that has to be overcome before the reaction can proceed. For example, hydrogen (or natural gas) in the presence of oxygen won't spontaneously combust. A spark is needed to push the reaction over the energy hump.

I find this to be a good analogy for discipline in some areas of my life, such as music. I need to practice in order to get better at music. This requires discipline to sit down and do it.

I find that once I start practicing, I can focus on it for a goodly amount of time. But there is a sort of energy hump I have to overcome to get from where I am to sitting down to practice.

For example, when I come home from work, I usually make dinner and then eat it in front of the TV, watching a program I like on Netflix. After I am done eating, there is a compulsion to continue to zone out to the TV and do nothing useful. TV is truly an accursed thing in terms of brain power and motivation, but that is a topic for another day (thank God I don't have cable television...only Internet).

However, if I can compel myself to turn off the TV, the spell is broken. That energy hump between me and music practice is actually larger than the second one, which is simply going down to my music room, turning on the computer, and practicing songs. Once I am into the song practice, the reaction proceeds until I decide to quench it, usually at bedtime. There is sometimes actually a bit of an energy hump to make myself STOP practicing, which can be something of a runaway reaction if I am really into whatever I am practicing. In this analogy, that would represent a highly exothermic reaction (I have THE FIRE...hard to put out).

So when I think of discipline this way, it helps me visualize what I need to do to spark me into doing something I want or need to do.

When it comes to yardwork, the spark is putting on my yardwork clothes and going out into the yard. Once I start a yardwork task, I usually experience a runaway reaction. For example, maybe I planned to only mow the front yard but get motivated to do the backyard as well, and maybe clean the gutters as long as I am already out there...

So if you are lacking discipline in your life, my recommendation is to determine what the energy hump is that is blocking you and then forcing yourself to push through it. Because it is usually not a huge task to overcome the energy hump. It can be as easy as turning off the TV. The task you are disciplining yourself to do is often much more exhausting and large, but once the reaction is underway, it progresses spontaneously.

So don't let a puny energy hump stop you from great accomplishment.

10.14.2014

It's Not Enough to Just Play Music Anymore

If you want to be a successful, popular (those things are probably synonomous here...) live local rocknroll band, it is not enough to just play good music.

You have to entertain.

Anyone can play good music. I can listen to good music on my stereo. There are a million bands who play good music, but only a subset who truly entertain.

On any given weekend, if I want to hear good live music, there is no shortage in Madison WI. But if I want to be entertained...I usually stay home because there are almost none who truly entertain. SUNSPOT is an exception, and I go to see them whenever I can.

But generally speaking, if I go out and there is a band playing, it is usually relegated to the status of background music unless the band entertains compellingly, no matter how good the music.

Most venues in Madison have adapted to this reality and hire bands to be background music. That is why there is a glut of cover bands and almost no one dances at shows anymore. It's just blah. Not bad...just not entertaining as compared with talking to your friends or drinking a beer.

I want all my bands to be compellingly entertaining. Most fall in the category of background music right now, albeit excellent quality. I think GUPPY EFFECT is moving in the right direction on entertaining, even if I am the only one in the band willing to wear headgear and perform stage antics and try novel things. I have adapted to the reality. The choices are to be a generic cover band or an entertaining band that plays what it wants. Because if you are entertaining enough, that trumps quality of the music.

HIATVS is a good example. This band wasn't musically awesome. Just pretty good. But man we entertained like nobody's business, on stage and off. Some of it has to do with musician chemistry which HIATVS had a lot of. In GUPPY EFFECT, I feel like my personality doesn't fit well with the other dudes. They are great dudes and awesome musicians. We just have different views on live music and our respective approaches to it.

Anyway, the point is a good live band can't just be musically good. They have to do something entertaining to rise above the massive glut of good bands out there. Some bands go with costumery. I like to dress up and wear headgear when I play with GUPPY EFFECT.

Some bands unleash insane fury. Others are charismatic. These things attract an audience more than just good music.

Clever things work too like rearranging the musicians on stage, maybe having the drummer in front or off to one side. I like to go wireless on bass so I can go out into the audience and bust insane bass solos in peoples' faces. That scares some people, but it entertains a lot of other people.

Your thoughts?

Writing Workshops

Tonight I volunteered at Madison WI community radio station WORT. This volunteering takes place in my house at my computer, so it sounds cooler than it actually is. I have only been into the studio a couple of times. I actually should probably pop in and meet a few people one of these days. However, my volunteering is all computer work online.

Basically, I put in a couple hours each week archiving a program called Radio Literature. This involves taking the raw audio from the broadcast (Thursday nights at 7:30 PM CST), which is archived on the WORT programming site, and editing it to remove extraneous audio at the beginning and end and any music or promotional material within the broadcast. My music recording skills qualify me to do this job and I use my Logic recording software to do the technical side of it. Then I determine the given show's topic and capture a few keywords from the broadcast, title and upload it to WORT's Radio Literature website. There's a bit more to it. I have to generate some tags, a thumbnail image, and a summary excerpt, that sort of thing.

Anyway, I just finished publishing the broadcast from August 21, 2014, and it was a pretty cool one. Host Marilyn Taylor interviewed a literary fiction writer named Kathie Giorgio, who runs a writing workshop in Waukesha called All Writers Studio. It is open to writers of all skill levels and provides editing and publishing help.

I may have to check this studio out and maybe take a writing class there, although it might have to be an online class, since Waukesha is butt far away from where I live in Madison and my time is precious.

Anyway, just free writing here for 10 minutes before bed. One must exercise the writing neurons daily to keep them in tip top shape.

10.13.2014

Sometimes

Sometimes when I am unsatisfied with the reading material on hand, I decide to write instead. I guess this is kind of a creative generation of new reading material, even though I do not spend a lot of time reading what I have written, other than to proofread and edit. It's an outlet for the literary part of my brain I suppose.

Fantastic Weekend

It was some time on Saturday afternoon when I realized that I was having a fully satisfying weekend, and it was only half way done.

On Friday night, my band played a full length show at the Willy Street Pub (Wisco) in Madison WI. It was a great performance and we had a nice turnout of friends and fans. There were a few very minor technical difficulties, which we overcame. The Wisco's sound system had a blown monitor channel or something, so the monitor wedge in front of the stage wasn't producing any sound and our drummer needs vocal cues to know where he is in the songs. We solved this issue by turning one of the main speakers around so it pointed at the band. It seemed to work without feedback and was better than nothing. The other main speaker was next to me, mounted on a bar table, and as we rocked, it began to slowly rotate from the vibration of the music and I had to redirect it every 3 or 4 songs so that it remained pointing at the audience. We had no complaints on the sound except my friend Sherry said it was too loud, which I disagreed with. It was just the right amount of loud.

During the show, my friends Bryon and Rachel Dudley from Iowa arrived. They had actually traveled to Madison to buy my 2001 Prius, which I no longer needed, having bought my mom's 2008 Prius recently. The timing was good though because they got to hear GUPPY EFFECT rock.

After the show, I took the Dudleys to Burrito Drive, a late night eatery that is only a block or so from the Wisco, before we returned to my house for much needed slumber.

We slept in pretty late on Saturday, although I did get up briefly around 8 AM to feed the dogs and let them out before returning to my bed for a few more ZZZs. When we were all up, around 11:30 AM, we cruised over to the local HyVee grocery store and bought grillables. It was a sunny and cool fall day, perfect for grilling. We got some steaks and some vegetables. I grilled the latter using the nonstick vegetable grilling basket that my sister bought as an add on to the grill she gave me as a housewarming gift. I grilled the steaks along with some burgers I already had in the fridge, and then we feasted.

The Dudleys headed back to Iowa around 3 PM, taking the 2001 Prius with them. I was glad I was able to sell it to friends.

It was about this time that I realized there was still a half a weekend to go and I had already had a full weekend's worth of enjoyment.

I chilled out for a bit on Saturday evening and then I drove to my friend Sherry's house and we went to a costume party at the Inferno nightclub. We saw a few musical acts there and had a great time. I violated my Paleo diet challenge when we got back to Sherry's after the party and we ate a frozen pizza. I am fairly adherent to the dietary study I am in but it seems to be more challenging on the weekends. This is the kind of thing the study is meant to document, so not to sorry, but I really do want to be compliant because I am doing this study for health and fitness reasons mostly, as well as contributing to science.

Sunday morning I also slept in and felt very well rested when I got up. I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to and learning punk rock song demos for a band called EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE that I am going to be auditioning for on rhythm guitar. The songs are fantastic, written by my music buddy Tim, and I will mainly be playing guitar (not bass) and only singing backup, so while it will be challenging, it's not impossible I could land the roll and it would be a lot of fun.

I went to the open jam at Funk's Pub on Sunday night and ran the livestream broadcast on the Internet. I also played on three songs with the house band:

1. Sample in a Jar by PHISH
2. Character Zero by PHISH
3. Fire by JIMI HENDRIX

I feel like I crammed two weekends into one.

Tonight I am going to work on EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE songs some more and practice some piano ahead of my Tuesday night piano class tomorrow. I may be auditioning with EAD on Wednesday night, but if not this week then next. If it is next week, I will have more time to work on the songs. But if it is this week, I will still work hard to master a few of them by Wednesday. The guitar parts aren't super hard but the songs are fast paced and the arrangements can be tricky. I have the list of songs they want me to start on first, so it is just a matter of being methodical and practicing.

10.10.2014

A Dental Morning

The clock radio went off at 6:30. The actual time was 6:20, but Chet had his bedside clock radio set 10 minutes fast so he could hit the snooze button once, which he did.

You can still donate to the cancer surgery fund for my dog Buddy.

He had the surgery last Tuesday, but we are accepting your kind contributions ongoing to reach our goal and ensure Buddy has good followup care for a high quality of life.

The surgery went very well. Buddy is recovering normally and seems happy and normal. He is also drinking less water, noticeably.

He had been drinking a lot of water before the surgery and the veterinarian said this is common with malignant cancers.

So this could be a sign that they have removed most or all of the tumor and it has not metastasized. Supporting this is that his calcium levels were normal and the x-ray of the lungs was clear (the lungs are a common site of metastasis).

Thanks for all the donations and good will. If you can't donate, perhaps just spread the word to some animal-loving friends.

I think Buddy has a few good years left in him.He didn't fall back asleep in the nine minutes before the alarm went off again, because his mind immediately began thinking about the day ahead, which would begin with a dentist appointment.

He rolled out of bed and pulled on the shorts that lay crumpled on the floor. Oscar, Chet's Boston terrier, lifted his head but remained curled up on his "bed" in the corner of the room. Being a smaller dog, Oscar conserved his body heat by staying put until the furnace kicked in and took some of the chill out of the room.

Chet walked down the hall to the bathroom. His other dog, Brody, a lab mix, lay sprawled across the floor, sound asleep, and didn't budge when Chet stepped over him to get into the bathroom. Brody was an older dog, and completely deaf, having lost his hearing in part due to anesthetic when he had undergone anal gland cancer surgery a few months before. Brody had a plastic cone around his neck, because he had gone in for another surgery two days before.

The anal gland cancer had returned a few months after the initial surgery, which probably hadn't removed all of the cancerous tissue. Chet had moved to Madison WI in the intervening months and had a new veterinarian who had performed the most recent surgery. The new veterinarian performed surgeries every day of the week and was a pro. She told Chet she felt she had gotten most of the tumor and preserved the healthy nerve and muscle tissue in the area. In the two days since Brody had returned home, he appeared to be recovering normally.

When Chet came out of the bathroom, both Oscar and Brody had moved to the living room. They knew the routine. It was breakfast time.

Chet crushed up Brody's pain pill in the dog bowl, added the food, and broke open the two antibiotic capsules to sprinkle their contents on top. He poured some used cooking oil into the bowl and mixed it in to hide the taste of the drugs.

Brody's cone crashed into Chet's bare leg as the dog tried to pass through the narrow kitchen toward the nook where both dogs were fed.

"Ouch...I hate that effing cone," Chet mumbled, wincing. Brody had no ability to compensate for the width of the cone, so it slammed into doorways and scraped along walls as he navigated around the house. "I cannot wait till you get that thing off," Chet said to Brody, who just gawked at him with expectant "food" eyes.

Chet let Brody like off the form he had used to mix of the food and meds, then he added some of the cooking oil to Oscar's food too, in part out of fairness, but mostly to ensure Oscar ate his food quickly. Oscar was a notoriously finicky eater and if he left food unattended, Buddy would pirate it. The cooking oil met Oscar's high dog food flavor expectations.

He set both dogs' bowls down in the nook and they began to eat while Chet reheated some of yesterday's coffee that was in the fridge.

Buddy's Cancer Surgery Fund

You can still donate to the cancer surgery fund for my dog Buddy.

He had the surgery last Tuesday, but we are accepting your kind contributions ongoing to reach our goal and ensure Buddy has good followup care for a high quality of life.

The surgery went very well. Buddy is recovering normally and seems happy and normal. He is also drinking less water, noticeably.

He had been drinking a lot of water before the surgery and the veterinarian said this is common with malignant cancers.

So this could be a sign that they have removed most or all of the tumor and it has not metastasized. Supporting this is that his calcium levels were normal and the x-ray of the lungs was clear (the lungs are a common site of metastasis).

Thanks for all the donations and good will. If you can't donate, perhaps just spread the word to some animal-loving friends.

I think Buddy has a few good years left in him.

10.05.2014

Interlude

I am going to make it through all the short and feature films at the Oshkosh Horror Film Fest. I am on a short break before the last feature film. I hope it is action packed because I am getting tired out...

Bludgeons in Dungeons

I am relaxing with some coffee at the New Moon coffee shoppe in Oshkosh WI on Day 2 of the 30-day Paleo diet study I am in. It is also Day 2 of the Oshkosh Horror Film Fest that I attend every year, usually with my friend Sherry and others. It is held the first weekend in October every year and this is the fifth year. I have attended all but the first year. Some movies are serious. Some are funny. Most are entertaining and well done. It is put on by the Time Community Theater, a non-profit renovated old movie theater. They do old time scary movies for Friday Fright Night and show campy 80s movies some Saturdays. They make all their money on concessions but I cannot imagine they make very much money, given the $1 popcorn, $2 soda, and $3 beer. But it is usually well attended on event nights.

As for the Paleo diet study, I am about 98% compliant. It is a fun challenge to have to "hunt and gather" Paleo type foods. They are not as easy to come by as you would think. I found some raw mixed nuts at a little vitamin shoppe on Main Street Oshkosh. I also got a Lara Bar there. These have all whole food unprocessed ingredients and no added sugar. They are sweetened with dates, which are theoretically forageable in nature. The one I had contained unsweetened cocoa powder which might be pushing the Paleo acceptability envelope a little bit. I brought some ground bison with me to Oshkosh and I have been eating that. Bison will be a big staple for me this month. Cheese is not allowed, but eggs are thank goodness.

I am feeling pretty energized and content this morning. I would like to say it is a result of the healthy, genetically compatible Paleo diet, but if it is then only indirectly in as much as I am enjoying the challenge of it and I am pleased with my ability to be compliant with it in the face of temptation by non-Paleo foods and the limited availability of Paleo foods while I am traveling. But part of it could be I am feeling somewhat healthier, placebo effect or no. I will probably lose weight on this diet if for no other reason than Paleo foods are harder to come by. I hope that after 30 days of adherence, I will be skilled at finding and preparing Paleo foods while avoiding non-Paleo ones.

Stay tuned to this blog and/or http://cjscicomm.blogspot.com for progress reports.

How are you today? Leave a comment letting me know.

10.03.2014

Fridays Are Sometimes Hard

Getting through the work day on a Friday right before an action packed weekend of non-stop fun can be difficult.

I’ll be heading up to Oshkosh WI early tomorrow (Saturday 10/4) morning, ahead of the two-day Oshkosh Horror Film Fest (OHFF), which I attend every year. I think this is the fifth year, but it might be the fourth.

It’s a marathon of short and feature length horror films that starts around midday on Saturday and ends around supper time on Sunday (if you can eat supper after being subjected to an onslaught of cinematic limb removal, brain eating, serial murder, and disemboweling).

Before the road trip up to the fest though, I’ll be attending a neighbor’s garden party tonight, at which my band GUPPY EFFECT will put on a semi-acoustic rock-n-roll performance, the first such performance in this lineup of the band.

This is one of those rare occasions when bad weather benefits the band. It’s cold and rainy today, and it does not look like there will be much improvement heading into the evening. The garden party was, as the name suggests, to be held in my neighbor’s back yard. She just put in a fire pit and if they can get a decent fire going, I am sure people will be able to tolerate the out of doors for a little while, if it is not too rainy.

But the band will be performing in her basement, where it will be warmer and far less moist. So when the party goers need a respite from the elements, they can come stand near the burning fire of GUPPY EFFECT’s rock-n-roll and get their cockles warmed. I don’t know if you’ve ever had your cockles warmed…but it’s breathtaking, I can assure you.

10.01.2014

Lost

I have been re-watching the series LOST on Netflix to try to figure out what in the hell actually happens in that show. I hope it makes more sense this time around or else I am setting myself up for another round of frustration. Knowing what I know in retrospective hindsight, I hope to elucidate more things. Sawyer is still almost intolerable with his clich├ęs and nicknames, and almost makes me want to stop watching. But I will see it through. I am not sure I will ever get used to high definition TV. It weirds me out. Everything is too crispy and the sound is off, and the camera jerks around in weird ways. Is this normal?

I have to rake leaves and clean my gutters (in opposite order) tonight, ahead of some predicted rain tomorrow. It is fortuitous that tomorrow is Thursday, the day of the week I typically drive to work because it is CSA vegetable pickup day. Weather permitting, I try to bike commute other days of the week, although I have been lax this week due to some things. On Monday, I drove back from Ohio with the new used car I got from my mom. It was about a nine hour trip with one stop for gas (new used car is a Prius, just like my old car). On Tuesday, I had to go to the DMV and get the car titled and registered in Wisconsin. They only give you two days to do that in Wisconsin, even though most people don’t accomplish it in that time frame. They should give you a fortnight.

So the DMV trip necessitated I drive on Tuesday. I probably could have bike commuted today, but I decided to take the Prius to Tires Plus because of a slow leak in the right rear tire that my dad had alerted me to. Turns out there was a screwy nail (click on image to the left), literally, in the tire. They were able to patch it up just fine. So no biking today. No biking tomorrow due to rain and CSA pickup, like I said. Maybe biking on Friday, weather permitting.

How is your week progressing so far?