1.31.2017

A Pretty Good Band

My band GUPPY EFFECT play a show way back on June 21, 2015 and I was listening to the audio of the video this morning during my meditation.

This really sounds pretty damn good. Way play mostly original songs right off the bat, and the mix is great, probably because we are outdoors and GUITAR CENTER was providing pro sound.

Check it out.


You Probably Won't See This

It's the middle of the night. I'm in bed, having just finished reading some of Dave Eggers' "The Circle," which really is a quite compelling book. Recall that this was the only book that met all of some computer algorithm's criteria to calculate what books will be bestsellers. I can see why. It's terrifying, in a good way. Read it.

I had a good day today. I finished and submitted my Letter of Intent to Edgewood College's graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy. I completed my Duolingo language exercises between rideshare passengers and hit my income goal by 2 PM, so I was able to go chillax for a good chunk of the afternoon at the Barriques coffee shoppe on Monroe Street (where I finalized the aforementioned Letter of Intent over a huevos wrap and a coffee). I didn't make it to the gym today, but I eeked out a half hour of piano practice; I'm making progress.

It's a little after midnight and I am going to sleep now.

Ciao!

1.30.2017

Start Using LYFT (Rideshare) and Get Free Rides (Promo Code HAPPYFUNRIDE)

I just started driving for rideshare service LYFT. I really dig it. One of the perks is that I can share my promo code (happyfunride) to give first time LYFT riders $10 or more off their first rides.

I figured I may as well help out my readers (you!)* by sharing the promo code. The easiest way to get it is to click THIS LINK. But if you'd rather not, then proceed as follows:

After you download the LYFT app on your device and log in, find PROMOTIONS on the dashboard. Then enter the code HAPPYFUNRIDE. If you are new to LYFT, that will put $10 or more (depending on your location) on your account to use toward LYFT rides.

I have been driving for Uber for over two years, and I can give you a promo code for NEW UBER RIDERS too. Contact me directly if you want that.

As far as which rideshare service is better...they are about the same. Lyft is probably a bit less expensive during peak demand for rides, when Uber is surging.

I hope you find this helpful in getting from point A to B.

Ciao!

PS. Clicking on the Lyft or Uber thumbnails above will also get you free rides.

*Note: In full disclosure, I do get a kickback from LYFT for referring new riders.

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1.29.2017

Fact: Weight Gain is Highly Correlated With All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Food Buffet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Leonard, ragbraijoe@gmail.com

January 29, 2017 (Madison WI) - It was again confirmed on Thursday evening and Friday morning that consuming unlimited quantities of food from an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet causes weight gain proportional to the amount of food ingested.

"It's not just the gross weight of the food either," said Cactus Joe, the primary investigator and subject of the experiment. "It's also the salty sauces that make you drink a ton of water afterwards [sic]."

Thursday evening's ad libitum Chinese food buffet consumption caused a four pound increase in Joe's weight between regular weigh-ins on Thursday and Friday mornings, respectively.

"I felt like crap on Friday too," Joe said. "I think it was an MSG hangover. I have been eating pretty 'au naturel,' as they say in the vernacular, for quite a few months, along with going to the gym regularly. So this was a big shock to my system. I shant do that again any time soon."

By Saturday morning, most of the destructive systemic effects of the Sino-American cuisine had dissipated and Joe's weight had returned to within acceptable parameters.

"Potstickers are my nemesis," Joe said. "I will literally stuff them into my gullet non-stop as long as they are freely available. If it weren't for the fact that they ran out of them, I'd likely be dead now as a result of a ruptured stomach."

Second Fortnight of SM Fasting Largely Without Consequence


I just celebrated the successful conclusion of my second fortnight of social media (SM) fasting by checking Facebook to see what kind of damage my absence from SM has had on the fabric of time/space.

I was thrilled to discover that the effects were virtually nil. The only discrepancy was that I missed my buddy and shredder guitarist Derek's Facebook event invite to go see him play solo at the Up North Bar (Madison WI) on Friday January 27th. As disappointing as that was, it would not have made much difference if I had known about it, because I had a conflicting gig the same night, playing bass with the Kelsey Miles Band semi-acoustic trio at the Grist (Lake Mills WI), formerly known as Carp's Landing.

Conversely, my attendance at the KMB show was quasi-optional (they often do it as a duo, sans me) and had I known of Derek's show far enough in advance, I might have opted to stay local that night.

That being said, the KMB show paid fairly handsomely by local music venue standards and I was able to use some of the proceeds to neutralize (settle up) my running ledger balance with Deborah on Splitwise, a definite and very satisfying plus.

So in conclusion, the advantages of regular social media use are still far outweighed by the disadvantages,* notwithstanding the example above. I have yet to discover a truly compelling reason to discontinue my ongoing social media hiatus, so I am extending it for another fortnight. The challenge is on the table for social media to prove me wrong...

Upon my next brief social media check in, I will have almost completed a 12 day tropical vacation to Florida. I tell you this primarily because I will be writing a travelog of the trip here on this blog, and you may want to follow it, because it should be entertaining and exciting. But not to worry if you don't want to subscribe to this blog, because links to my travel posts will still appear passively (sans my direct involvement) on my social media sites, where you cannot miss them if you are sufficiently addicted to SM (and my FB stock share price strongly suggests you are).

Ciao!

*To me!

1.27.2017

All Signs Point to An Imminent Haircut

FOR  IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Leonard, ragbraijoe@gmail.com

January 28, 2017 (Madison WI) - Several factors are pointing to an imminent haircut.

While much of the evidence is weakly circumstantial, such as Deborah's verbal persuasion attempts with a clear pro-haircut bias, other variables are much more compelling. For example, I am currently sitting in the waiting area of the Barbershop depileation station (Madison WI) and moments ago signed in for a walk-in haircut appointment.

The conclusion is that there is currently an extremely high haircut probability.

1.24.2017

Water is Pretty Amazing When You Think About It

Have you ever thought about how frickin' cool water is? Obviously, it's essential for life on Earth (although some might call that circular logic). The Fremen on Dune have an appropriately high level of appreciation for water, but they are a fictional people and I don't think most actual people do respect water enough.

I have probably been doing to much thinking lately, as a result of the bonus free time and brain power my social media hiatus has granted me. So I am surely overthinking water here, but it is still cool.

I first started contemplating water's awesomeness last week. Deborah and I were at the gym and I was in the pool there, waiting for her to join me. The word "pool" is telling. Water pools (verb) in a pool (noun) and it will always seek the lowest energy state. When it's stable in the lowest energy state, it is a liquid mass with a flat surface (actually, it's ever so slightly curved, but on small scales like a gym swimming pool, it looks like it has a flat surface). Even at ambient temperatures comfortable for human life, the surface of a mass of liquid water is in a state of flux with the gaseous atmosphere above it. At the liquid/gas interface, water vapor is leaving the surface of the water mass, creating 100% humidity at the surface. Air (gas) molecules are also being dissolved into the water. Interestingly, cold water can dissolve a higher concentration of air molecules, while warm air holds more water vapor. This is why some fish, like trout, prefer colder water. It has more oxygen. Trout will suffocate in warm water, which is why you don't find trout in the south (or north, if you live in the southern hemisphere, as many of my readers do).

You can float a boat on water. You can swim through water. You must drink water to live, but if you breath it you'll die. Water is a solvent and the water in your body dissolves a lot of things, some of which you need. Your kidneys reclaim the things you need from the water and the rest is eliminated as pee, containing the dissolved things you don't need (water soluble waste by-products of metabolism).

For some weird-assed reason I once learned in a college chemistry class and then subsequently forgot thanks to another liquid called alcohol, solid water (ice) is always less dense than liquid water, which is why ice cubes float. However, if the ice is made from "heavy" water in which the hydrogen atom of the water molecule is a deuterium (has an extra heavy neutron in its nucleus), these ice cubes will sink in regular (non-heavy) water. However, heavy water ice cubes still float in liquid heavy water. That's heavy...

A gallon of water weighs a little over eight pounds (I think; someone consult the Giant Internet Brain on that and fact check me if necessary). So you could use two gallon jugs of water as dumbells to do curls, if you wanted to. Conversely, a gallon of boiling water weighs ever so slightly under eight pounds (it is not recommended to do curls with boiling gallon jugs of water, even though they are slightly lighter).

OK, here is a picture of some water containing a pretty girl, for no logical reason.


1.23.2017

How Is Facebook Tweeting You?

Hi Friends, Fans, and Family.

As you may know, I just passed the halfway mark of my second fortnight of social media fasting. My 2017 new year's resolution was to abstain from social media interaction (primarily Facebook, since I seldom used Twitter or other platforms) for two weeks, starting on January 1st, with the caveat that if nothing bad happened (it didn't), then I would continue it for another fortnight. As far as I can tell, I have not missed anything important, leading me to conclude that important things are not happening on social media. In addition, my brain is slowly being "unwashed," which is an ironic way of saying free thought and rational, logical thinking abilities are returning to full capacity. I also have more time and mental energy to direct at real world analog things, like writing and playing music. My brain is so "clean" right now that I literally feel euphoric.

I'm theorizing (and there is a good chance this theory is not new or unique to me, and a low but significant chance it's wrong...) that the main purpose of social media is to fatigue and soften users' brains to make them more susceptible and suggestive to advertising and political propaganda. That would certainly jibe with the targeted advertising and political memes that appears on social media sites with great regularity.

That being said, I own Facebook stock and it's going gangbusters. I wouldn't buy it now, because the share price is ridiculously high, but if you got in on the IPO, like I did, you are sitting pretty. But Facebook is designed to addict people to using it, and you should always invest in addictive things. That's why I also own McDonalds and Sam Adams (beer) stock, both also doing very well relative to the market average. As with McDonalds, Facebook is junk, toxic to your mind and body. But please keep using it...my ongoing free agency (aka, underwriting) depends on it.

Do you use Facebook? How is it treating you? Are you addicted? Could you live without it? Why or why not? Leave responses in the comments below.

Now here's a gratuitous pic of a pretty brunette girl wearing a tee shirt and smiling, to brighten your day.


1.22.2017

The Red Zone

I found myself in the red zone a lot this weekend. The red zone is not a bad place to be, but it's also not as good a place to be as one would think. It's better to be in the red zone than outside it though.

The red zone was intense and massive about 2 PM on Saturday when the Womens' March against Trump was reaching its climax in Madison, and elsewhere around the globe. The redness was amplified by Beer n Cheese Fest that started at 2 and went till 6. After about 7, the red zone dissipated rapidly, but it redeveloped full force for the Packer game on Sunday.

The Packers lost. I don't know or care why, but they did, and this quenched all the redness in the later hours of Sunday.

Now I am at Funks Pub, sitting at a gaudily painted bar table next to my buddy and musical contemporary Phil, who just finished pushing 3 massive fish tacos down his throat. I'm sipping a merlot. A few minutes ago, I went into the restroom to wash my hands (not obsessive-compulsively) and encountered the cook at Funks, Matt. He glanced at me as he stood at the urinal.

"Hey! How are you," he said.

"Great. How are you?" I responded.

Good," he said. "It seems to me I still owe you a curry recipe."

"Yeah." He did. The cat had produced a Sri Lankan chicken curry at one of the Funks jams before Christmas and served it up to the musicians in attendance. It was fan-fecking-tastic, and when I begged him for the recipe, he gave me an affirmative IOU.

"I will get that to you soon," he said. "I gotta run here pretty soon, but next time you stop down..."

"No worries," I said. "The longer the anticipation, the better it will taste."

"You'll be running all over town looking for ingredients," he promised. "The Asian grocery stores have most of the good herbs."

I thanked him. That was like a half hour ago and Matt's still here at Funks, so I guess he didn't have to run here as soon as he thought, but no curry recipe has been forthcoming. He is, however, sitting over at the bar writing something on a pad of paper, so maybe that curry recipe will manifest sooner than anticipated.

I Want to Write Like David Wong


David Wong, author of "John Dies at the End," has a knack for hilariously good writing, and one of my long term goals is to be as good a writer has him someday.

I'm looking forward to reading his sequel to "John Dies at the End," called "This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It (John Dies at the End 2)," notwithstanding the wordy title.

If my sci fi novel is even 10% stylistically Wong-esque, I'll be quite satisfied. Even that is a high bar.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go and research everything (auto)biographical about David Wong that the Giant Internet Brain has available.

Ciao!

1.20.2017

It's No Fun Waking Up to Zombies

One of them had my foot in its hands, luckily still attached to my body. It was sniffing it to see if I were edible. I really had to will myself not to yank my leg away, which would have agitated it, I'm sure. Thankfully, my shoes and pants - my whole body actually - were soaked in gore from my day long spree of neutralizing zombies down in the swamp where they get stuck the most. I'm not sure why I passed out coming back, but I was now sprawled on the ground next to the open gate into our little compound. The rest of the team were out on supply duty. I'd gotten the short straw for zombie cleanup. While I was unconscious, the three zombies must have stumbled through the open gate. I could not have been out long. My gore soaked clothes were camouflaging my scent but if I made any sudden moves, these corpses might attack me. Very slowly I looked around. The zombie fondling my lower leg was eyeless, so I wasn't too concerned about it seeing that I was alive, I just had to remain still. The other two zombies were bumbling along the fence line inside the compound about five feet away. The hammer I use to dispatch undead was still in the loop in my utility belt. Ever so slowly, I pulled it out and hefted it in my hand to get a good grip on it. I took a deep breath and in a fluid motion, I yanked my leg away from the zombie while at the same time swinging at its sightless head with the hammer. It's head jerked away as my movement surprised it and the heavy metal head of the hammer swished past its skull, missing the mark. The zombie growled and lunged, faster than I had anticipated. My leg now free of its grasp, I kicked the ground hard and scuttled backward away from the zombie. The other two zombies had heard the scuffle and were turning back toward me. The blind zombie was snatching at the dirt inches from me, seeking purchase on something to devour. I rolled away from it and sprung to my feet, coming face to rotting face with one of the other zombies. It grabbed my right arm holding the hammer. I punched it in the gut to get it away from me, but my arm went right through the soft decaying flesh of it's torso and got stuck in the entrails. The zombie's jaws snapped at me, and I jerked my head back to avoid having my nose bitten off. "Fucker!" I cursed, then threw my full body weight into the zombie and we both hit the side of the fence. I was able to free my arm from the zombie's torso and snatched the hammer from my other hand so I could land a lefty blow to the creature's skull. The force of the blow from my weaker left hand was not sufficient to brain the beast, but it gave me a chance to reposition myself for a more potent attack. I raised the hammer again, but the third zombie had come up behind me and grabbed my left forearm. Now each zombie had one of my arms in its grasp. I thought I was done for, but instinct took over. I don't know how I thought to do it, but I fell into a squat, yanking down on each zombie's clutching arm hard, and luckily both zombies' arms dislocated from their shoulders. I lept backward and with the zombies' arms still dangling from my own, I raised the hammer and dispatched first one zombie and then the other. The blind zombie had been crawling toward the sound of the other zombies' attack on me, hoping to join the flesh feast, and it was getting close by the time I brained those other two. I kicked the blind zombie in the face hard, sending it sprawling backward before smashing its face in with the hammer. I examined myself for bite marks, and finding none, I went to the utility shed to clean up. I'd better not tell the team about my feinting, or they might think I'm a liability.

1.19.2017

Donald Trump Gets "The Biscuit" (aka "The Button")

Dear Friends,

I don't normally wax political on this blog (see the 2 Minute Reader for that), but I am not sure how much time we have together before we are all engulfed in a nuclear inferno and so I just wanted to say, on the eve of an epoch of existential insecurity, that I love you all.

Tomorrow, Donald Trump gets "the Biscuit," also known as "the Button," although it's actually just a card containing the launch codes for the entire American nuclear arsenal. Here are the facts on the ground:

1. The President keeps the Biscuit in his pocket at all times. An aide to the President carries "the Football," a briefcase with the equipment and information to actually order and launch a nuclear attack.

2. There are zero (nil, none, nada, not even epsilon) checks and balances on the President's decision to launch nuclear weapons at any time. That order will be followed without question by the aide carrying the football and the American military. This sounds like it should be false but it is absolutely true [SOURCE].

According to CNN:

"The president has supreme authority to decide whether to use America's nuclear weapons. Period. Full stop," said the Arms Control Association's Kingston Reif. A president could only be stopped by mutiny, he said, and more than one person would have to disobey the president's orders. [SOURCE]

3. Donald Trump is thin skinned, reactionary, and does not take criticism well. He arguably also has a loose grip on reality.

If anyone wants to guesstimate the days (or hours) between Trump's inauguration and the reduction of the Earth's surface to a radioactive slag desert, I will entertain those, but the winner will get no prize for obvious reasons.


1.18.2017

The #1 Bestselling Book According to Science (and a Computer)

So, some brainiacs developed a computer algorithm that can predict what kind of fiction books will become bestsellers (with 80% accuracy when applied retrospectively to books already on the New York Times Bestseller List) [SOURCE].

Now, you can go read about this algorithm in the Atlantic magazine's great article about it HERE.


But what interested me most was that there was only one novel that met ALL of the algorithms thousands of criteria for what makes a bestseller. That book was "The Circle" by Dave Eggers. GO DAVE!

So naturally, I ordered the book from Amazon, hoping that the scientists who designed the algorithm were not receiving graft from Mr. Eggers at the time. Maybe I can learn a thing or two to apply to my own writing. Or maybe I am just a sucker.

That being said, another novel that scores high as a bestseller according to the algorithm is "50 Shades of Grey." Blech!

A Thank You to the Destined to Fail NY Resolutioners Underwriting My Gym

Word on the streets is that health clubs get a huge infusion of cash in the first couple months of the year as throngs of ambitious new year's resolutioners flock to them. These underwriters help to pay the bills so the clubs can keep member fees low. 80% of new members fall of the fitness wagon around mid-February, but the membership contracts are paid for the year, so members who consistently come still get all the benefits paid for largely by those that don't.

Now don't get me wrong. I want everyone to get exercise and be in good shape. But reality is reality. This is why I own McDonalds stock too. Junk food sucks, but it sells. So I just wanted to thank the doomed slackers for allowing Deborah and me to work out any time we want at a nice, clean facility with three indoor pools and free classes and whatnot. That's huge.

That being said, the gym is horrendously overpopulated at the moment. Way too many undesirable people, like unsupervised kids and people talking politics and naked old guys parading around the locker room. I am looking forward to mid-February.

Ciao!

1.16.2017

It's a Glum One

From my vantage point reclining on my papasan* chair in my study, I can see out the window that it's a glum day out there, an icy rain falling from overcast skies. It's the kind of day that makes you want to stay inside a warm house reclining on a papasan chair, and I am fully succumbing to that desire. However, my day was not always in this state of comfortable equilibrium. Nay. This morning, I took my car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change, during which time Deborah and I went to the gym. The parking lot at Jiffy Lube was an ice skating rink, but luckily I did not fall on my arse. The gym lot was better, but we still had to be careful.

Being as it is MLK Day today, and many people have off from work, the gym was crowded. However, no one had usurped the situp bench when I got there, so I was able to pound out 150 crunches before finding an exercise bike on which to burn fat, as they say in the vernacular, for about 50 minutes. According to the machine's computer, I did 715 kilocalories of work. In other words, I burned 715 calories. The intensity level was moderate and my heart rate did not go much above 130 bpm, so I was solidly in fat burning mode. I skipped swimming today because Deborah did not feel like doing it and the lap pool was packed to the gills. In the locker room after my aerobic biking, there was a man with Down's Syndrome milling about and trying to engage people in conversation. Most of the people in the locker room were ignoring him, which I thought was a little cold, so I chatted with him for a couple minutes.

"Howa you?" he asked me after I had opened my locker to change.

"Pretty good," I replied. "How about yourself?"

The guy sat down on one of the locker room benches.

"Good," he said. "Wajoo do last Saturday?"

"Not much," I said. "I think I came here and exercised. That's about it."

"That's too bad," he said.

"I thought it was actually pretty good," I countered. "I had a good workout."

"Oh," he said. "Did you capella?"

That's what it sounded like he said. "Capella? What's that?" I asked.

"It's like this," he said, making the universal hand sign for drinking alcoholic beverages.

"Oh, well, I don't really drink," I said, a slight fib, since I occasionally drink wine these days.

"You should," he said. Another guy nearby in the locker room chuckled at this.

"Oh yeah? How come?" I asked.

"Cuz it's fun," he replied.

"Well, it's not for everyone," I said. "I'm going to go take a shower now, so we can talk later, OK?"

"OK," he said. He got up and wandered toward the locker room exit as I headed for the showers.

It was just as ridiculous and imbecilic a conversation as it sounds, but I was glad I engaged the guy, since he probably just needed a little attention from someone. Consider that my good deed for the day.

I'm going to spend most of the rest of today drafting my letter of intent for grad school in marriage and family therapy at Edgewood College, due February 1. I am trusting all my references to get their letters in by the deadline as well. Cross your fingers!

*I have been wrongly calling this style of chair a rattan chair in previous posts. Apologies. FYI, these chairs are ridiculously comfortable.

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Neck Pillow

I try to meditate every morning for 15 minutes. I recline in my super comfy leopard print ratan chair and support my neck with an orthopedic neck pillow.

Never underestimate the value of a good neck pillow.

1.15.2017

The Face

Today marked two weeks (aka a fortnight) of successful social media fasting, a mini new year's resolution I set for myself. I did not log onto Facebook or Twitter or any other time sucking social medium during this hiatus and it was quite refreshing. A lot of time was freed up for other more useful things. My mind felt "cleaner," largely because it was not subject to the poisonous onslaught of memetic toxic waste that makes up over 80% of social media. I succumbed to no click bait. I was not exposed to uninformed political ideology nor falsely attributed Morgan Freeman quotes. I did not have to refer any Facebook friends to snopes.com for posting something ridiculously false, nor waste any time doing the Snopes research myself that said "friends" should have done in the first place. It was great.

The biggest obstacle I encountered during this hiatus was trying to access some apps I use, the logins for which were linked to my Facebook account. But it was a simple matter to update the logins using email instead.

I logged into Facebook today to see if my hiatus had had any ill effects whatsoever. None were found. Everyone seemed to be getting along fine without me, and I was quite happy to know that the Giant Internet Brain is far superior to me at providing my "friends" with empty distractions that in no way improve their lives. I decided to vote a few "friends" off the social media island, mostly people that I have no idea who they are, nor any memory of receiving/accepting their friend requests, although some are just people that should interact with me on social media but for whatever reason they don't (why do we bother with the Face then?).

That's all. I'll be off the social media for at least another fortnight now. At that time I'll do another purge and over time try to reduce my social media circle of "friends" down to a manageable size. Don't be offended if you get booted, just remember I am not even using social media, except exploitatively to share these blog posts, so it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to be connecting there, does it? If you are an actual flesh and blood (and brains) friend, you can call, text, or email me to set a time/place for coffee or lunch in a real world setting. As a Free Agent in the Cosmos, I am very flexible on time and can work around your schedule.

The following is included as a resource for any of my social media addicted friends looking for a way to escape the social media Borg.



1.14.2017

Of Course I Totes Had to Push It Both Ways Just to See the Difference

I totes wasted water today. This sign in the bathroom at the public library was too compelling. I had to flush twice - once up and once down - to compare the difference. It's the anti-authoritarian nonconformist in me. Not surprisingly, there was a big difference in flushes. Derp.

Fin de Fortnight de Facebook Fasting


Tomorrow (Sunday 1/15/17) marks a fortnight of my fast from Facebook and most traditional social media, per one of my new year's resolutions. I was 100% successful. I did not need nor miss social media. It did not need or miss me, so I believe our relationship has reached its logical conclusion and we can be "just friends."

Much like when you break up with a love interest, being "just friends" is universally understood to mean "let's avoid further interaction and pretend the other never existed."

Works for me.

I was unable to find any compelling reason to remain connected with social media, and the thought of going back on it terrifies me in light of our current fantastically effed up socio-political situation. I neither want to be reminded of it, nor do I want to be distracted by uninformed political diatribes and bickering amongst my so-called Facebook "friends."

And if you are an actual friend that happens to be connected with me through social media, recognize that we do not need social media to stay connected. Invite me out for coffee or a show and we can "chaw the fat," as they say in the vernacular. Let's take it analog and old school. And if that's not appealing to you, then "let's just be friends" (see above).

If I do briefly go on social media tomorrow, it will be to purge. I think you know what that means. If we are tacitly connected on social media but never interact there, I expect I'll "unfriend" you (what a horrible expression). People I like may just be "unfollowed." In any case, after that, I plan to stay off social media for at least another fortnight, or perhaps longer if my encounter with it tomorrow proves as terrifying as I predict it will be.

As a great person once said, "I don't hate you...I hate us."*

Ciao!

*Note: I said it.


Morgan Freeman (Social Media Prophet) Meme-thology

Morgan Freeman is a social media prophet. Everything he says is pertinent and relevant and ridiculously meme-able.

So it makes total sense that someone would compile a mini-anthology of this prophet's classic, goundbreaking, philanthropic work.

Enjoy.

Morgan Freeman - Social Media Prophet

Quite a Friday the 13th


Today was Friday the 13th. I'm not superstitious but I slept poorly last night and had bizarre dreams, possibly due to reading "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (which I downloaded from the Giant Internet Brain, after seeing the J.K. Rowling film "Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them" in the theater recently, after realizing that I have never actually finished the HP book series, much less seen the films) before bed.

I worked a few lucrative hours in the afternoon and then Deborah and I went to the gym for a solid workout. I felt great afterwards, though after we got home and had dinner I started to get drowzy from the exertion and lack of sleep. I'm reclined in the leopard print ratan chair in my music room right now, head supported by a travel neck pillow, feeling comfy and writing a bit as I wind down for bed.


In the morning I have a free writing (as in no charge) workshop that I signed up for at the public library. It's on creative memoir writing. So if the workshop is worth its salt, my readers should see some of what I learn incorporated here soon. I don't have the highest of hopes, but you never know. Beyond that, I'll probably just work a few hours Saturday and Sunday, practice piano, hit the gym again, work on Duolingo Spanish, do a bit of writing, and generally take 'er easy (the modus operandi of ordained Dudeists, which I am).

Happy Friday the 13th.

Cheers!

1.12.2017

Cauliflower Cheese "Bread" Experiment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Leonard, ragbraijoe@yahoo.com

January 11, 2017 (Madison, WI) - Tonight Deborah and I attempted a recipe for cauliflower cheese "bread," in which the bread is not actually bread, but cauliflower "flour."

Following the recipe, we "riced" a head of cauliflower (roughly...we had bagged florets). Ricing means you put it in a food processor and blend it until it looks like rice sized bits. This is not as easy as it sounds and the food processor jams up a little. I would alter the recipe to say use the grater attachment on the food processor first before using the blender attachment, although this extra step would have a high "pain in the arse" quotient. But if you are a patient person, I think that would work much better.

We put the riced cauli in a big bowl and added an egg, some Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and the following herbs:* Italian seasoning (basil, thyme, oregano, and some other stuff), garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then we mixed it all up and, remarkably, it did resemble moist pizza dough a little bit. This we evenly spread on a baking pan and then we put it in the over, preheated to 425 degrees F. The recipe said to bake it 12 minutes, but it was still soft and soggy after that amount of time so we ended up baking it closer to 20 minutes. Even then it was still soft, but we said eff it and proceeded to put some grated mozzarella on top and bake it a little longer until the cheese topping started to brown.

We let it cool 10 minutes before eating, with some marinara sauce for dipping.

I thought it tasted pretty good but Deborah was not impressed. She may have had higher expectations than me as far as the end product's resemblance to actual cheese bread, both in terms of taste and consistency. I tried to judge it on its own merits. It tasted pretty good and was fairly healthy (far less calories than actual bread and without the lethargy of traditional bread sticks). On the down side, the crust was too soft and crumbly. I hypothesize that the addition of another egg to the "flour" would solve this problem, if I ever made the recipe again, which seems improbable. It's worth trying once though, and if you do, try two eggs instead of one and let me know how it turns out. It can't hurt and it might help. We may have used more than one head of cauli...it's hard to tell with the bagged florets. Other recipes say to microwave the riced cauliflower for 10 minutes, presumably to remove moisture, before adding the other ingredients. Fresh herbs* and garlic would probably give it more flavor than the dried kind we used.


*Note: The recipe called for fresh herbs and garlic but we only had dried...whatever, it was an experiment.

1.10.2017

Wyntog

The Welsh word for "windy" is "wyntog." And boy was it wyntog tonight in Middleton. After the freezing rain stopped, the wind started and the temperature dropped. I hate winter (dw i ddim yn hoffi gaeaf) and I'm not going to pretend I do to rationalize the cognitive dissonance I experience because I live in a winter prone place. My eventual goal is to move to a winter free, or at least winter lite, place. But for now I live in a wintry place and I tolerate it. But I do not like it. What I like is that I will be escaping Wisconsin winter soon for a tropical vacation with my sweetie. Yay palm trees (coeden balmwydd)!

No Good Ideas

I had no good ideas to write about today. It happens sometimes. My critics might argue that I never have good ideas to write about. Eff them. And thank you if you are a loyal reader and supporter. Stay tuned. Some good ideas are fomenting.

REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Movie


Deborah and I went to the $5 (on Tuesdays) movie theater today and saw "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," a screenplay co-penned by J.K. Rowling and a "ghost writer" (hahaha) named Newt Scamander, who is also a character in the story, which takes place in the Harry Potter universe, though it is unrelated to (and pre-dates) that storyline, and I do apologize for this run on sentence.

In short, great film. See it. You won't be disappointed. Short sentences here to compensate for the run on above. Fair?

In full disclosure, Deborah and I were a bit drowsy during some of the movie, but this was entirely due to the moderately intense 90 minute gym workout we did before going to the theater and not because of a lethargic story line (perhaps a tiny bit due to the comfy recliner chairs in the theater too...). The movie was fairly action packed from start to finish. The special effects were superb. The plot made sense, and there was even a moral to the story (essentially, don't be a dick, especially to magical creatures and emotionally fragile youths). The assorted fantastic creatures in the film were entertaining.

The only criticism I have is a general one that I apply to all the HP films I have seen, and that is that the Magical authorities always seem quick to sentence the good guys to premature death for seemingly minor infractions of the Wizarding rule book.

I had been hesitant to see the film because - and I am quite chagrined to admit this - I am one of the few Muggles on the planet who has neither read all the HP books nor seen all the movies. But there was nothing to worry about. The storyline appeared to be unrelated to the HP one, though it's possible I missed an easter egg or two that may or may not have been in this movie. I leave that assessment to the experts, and I'd be none the wiser in any case.


In conclusion, we made a good movie selection for once. I would like to see the movie "Hidden Figures," based on a true story at some point. "Passengers" looks good on paper, but got rotten reviews. I am a stickler for the Laws of Physics when it comes to sci fi films and it always bothers me when said laws are violated in favor of Hollywood thrills. The nice thing about a movie like "Fantastic Creatures..." is that you go into it knowing that it's fantasy and that magic does not have to adhere to science, so they can do all kinds of crazy stuff and my mind can partition that just fine. But beyond that, you can't ignore things like gravity and lack of atmosphere.

Ciao.

Week One Successful

My first week of 2017 was fantastic. How was yours?

I finally got up to date on Game of Thrones (you may now spoil away all you like), among other things.

I have suffered no withdrawal symptoms on my fast from social media, now on day nine. My mind feels cleaner and rational thought is regaining a foothold. Unfortunately, this has made me much more certain humanity is doomed.

Hugs!

1.08.2017

Electric

I slept pretty good last night, but I still woke up with a strange tingly feeling like the kind you get when you didn't sleep enough, even though the clock said my vacation to slumberland was ample and I recall dreaming fairly hard. Part of it was probably that I was still energized and amped up from my birthday party show last night, performing with YOUR MOM at the Come Back Inn for my friends. It was a fun time. I don't drink as much beer as I used to, mostly due to my current fitness kick (the rewards of which are substantially inversely correlated with refined carb consumption, including beer). That being said, I had a couple of "medicinal" birthday glasses of wine (refer to the "French paradox"), a few bites of Deborah's artichoke dip bread bowl (I ate the "lid"), and more salty popcorn than I should have at the venue. Notwithstanding, my weight was down a little this morning.

After my 15 minute morning meditation, which Deborah joined me for, I worked for most of the afternoon, returning home about 5 PM. Deborah and I went to the gym by way of a grocery run to Costco and we had a great workout. I ran 2+ miles on the indoor track and did 140 crunches, a personal record to date, and some machine presses. Then we did laps in the pool, which we had entirely to ourselves thanks to the Green Bay Packers compelling case for avoiding the gym. Thusly pumped up on endorphins, I unloaded all the groceries when we got home, subsequently eating some of them for dinner.

"I'm heading out to Funks," I said to Deborah after we ate, referring to the Sunday night open jam stage I sometimes attend. As part of my end of year overhaul of my primary life goals, I have decided to limit my attendance at the Sunday jams to once per month, coordinating with those times when one of the groups I typically perform with is available to play at it. This is to be able to redirect my limited time resources at some other primary goals of greater import (primary-er goals?). I was slated to rock with one of said bands tonight, the Amanda Rickers Band, but a flu-stricken baby sitter threw a spanner in Amanda's proverbial works and she had to stay home with her son. I had a dual purpose in going to Funks tonight though - to hand off some documentation to the jam host, Tyler, who is one of my grad school references - so I still attended for a spell.

I am at the jam right now, in fact, listening to the house band (Tyler's band) MUDROOM jam some tunes. I'll probably bolt here pretty soon though, having already completed the aforementioned hand off of papers. If I could be home by 11 PM, that'd be superb.

I experienced one of the first negative consequences, albeit minor, of my new year's resolution to fast completely from social media. As a result of this abstinence, I did not know that my friends' band was showcasing at the jam. I walked in literally as they played their last chord. I can't say for sure that I would have known about this had I been on social media, nor can I say for sure that I would have been able to get there any earlier than I did, given the way the day's events unfolded. What I can say is that missing their band's set, while not optimal, does not justify the mental aggravation of regular social media consumption.

Ciao!

Big Thanks

A big thanks to all who came down to Come Back Inn tonight for Phil's and my birthday party, hosted by YOUR MOM. A good time was seemingly had by all.

It was fun to mix and match some local musicians who were in attendance on a few songs, like Heather and Mark and Wendy.

YOUR MOM was like the village bicycle tonight...everyone got a ride.

Ciao!