Rock AND Roll

Last night's rip roaring GUPPY EFFECT practice saw the creation of the musical foundations of two new original songs with nice rhythms and chord changes. Lyrics and melody still to come but it was a very productive and creative use of band practice time.

We also honed our stylistic skills by taking two existing original songs, "No Denying" and "Blue Thing From Space," and giving them a Rolling Stones feel and sound. Not sure how well we did, but you be the judge.

Link to song.

It is kind of like in high school English class when you had to try to write an essay "in the style" of a well known writer. I always felt I did poorly at that, but maybe not so bad at the musical equivalent.


Cats and Dogs

Biff was sitting in his car, only a few yards from the entrance to his workplace, but it was raining so furiously that he could not cover the distance, even at a full sprint, without getting soaked.

When he left the building a few minutes before, the rain had subsided and it looked like the sun might even pop through the clouds. But in the few minutes it took him to call his doctor's office and schedule an appointment for later in the week, a fresh wave of precipitation had pushed through and was now pounding relentlessly on the outside of his car.

He decided to type a quick blog post on his phone while he waited for some respite from the rain.


This spring is being downright dreary. I want to start bike commuting to work soon, but the cold wet weather makes it nigh impossible for a fair weather biker like myself. To be fair, I did go for a 90 minute ride on Saturday, facing a stiff northerly headwind on my way up to nearby Lake Mills WI. It was sunny on Saturday, but only in the low 50s Fahrenheit. Brutal headwind. But I just cranked into it as best I could, and on the ride home I had a tailwind that was awesome and worth the initial hardship.

The weather has subsequently deteriorated and we are in for a week of cool, wet weather. There may be a brief window of opportunity to commute this week. However, I want to say the first full week of May is officially Bike to Work Week. I have to go google that to be sure, but I definitely want nice weather for that.

I am working on the west side of Madison again and it behooves me to save some miles on my car by parking on the east side of Madison and biking through town to work. My new employer has excellent shower and locker room facilities.

Tomorrow night is GUPPY EFFECT band practice and we are going to try to classic rockify some of our original songs to sound a bit like the Rolling Stones. There is a music licensing listing via Broadjam that is seeking original music with a Rolling Stones-esque classic rock sound. So hopefully we can track a recording or two.


A Fun Day of Writing and Research

Biff got up around 9:15 AM. He had planned to get up at 8 AM, but he was fighting a bit of a cold and reset the clock radio to get a much needed extra hour of sleep. He thought he was on the mend from the chest congestion that had been annoying him the past two weeks, ever since his trip to Colorado, but the previous night, he felt like he was relapsing a bit and had a slight sore throat coming on.

Before bed the previous night, he had taken ibuprofen and an antihistamine, along with an herbal sleep aid, and so he had slept fairly well. But a dry cough woke him up in the middle of the night. Once he hacked that out, he was able to drift off again.

When he got up, he drank a big glass of water and after he let the dogs out and fed them, he ate breakfast - a large bowl of cereal with strawberries and almond milk. He heated up and drank a cup of leftover coffee as he pondered his ambitions for the rest of the day.

Since his recent somewhat negative experience with Obamacare, Biff had made a pact with himself to work out every day to maximize his wellness and minimize his interactions with the dysfunctional American healthcare system. It was also an exercise in zen discipline for his own mental and physical benefit. Exercise was a constitutional that improved his mental positivity and energy state and strengthened his cardiovascular system. The challenge of working out every day for 40 minutes or more also forced him to be disciplined about carving out the time to do it.

Biff found that exercising in the morning was best. It allowed him to better adhere to the fitness challenge he had set for himself. In his experience, once the day got away from him, he found it harder and harder to carve out time to do exercise. Things got in the way. He had to be places and work on other things.

In the morning, he usually had the time to do it and fewer distractions that drew him away from it. He also had more motivation and will power. After a long day, his drive to get on the bike trainer was often considerably reduced, notwithstanding the compulsion to watch shows on Netflix on his laptop while he pedaled.

A part of his current fitness challenge included only allowing himself to watch shows on Netflix during a workout on the trainer. This was a time saver and a motivator too. He didn't waste time watching Netflix when he should have been doing more important things, and he was motivated to work out regularly so he could stay on top of his favorite shows, like Mad Men, Dexter, American Horror Story, or whatever streamable programs he enjoyed. When he was feeling particularly motivated for a long workout, he would sometimes even watch a movie and go for 90 minutes or more.

Today, Biff got on the trainer at about 10:45 AM and spun for about 40 minutes or so, watching a Season 2 episode of American Horror Story. That's the one that centers on aliens and an insane asylum. He thought the plot line in Season 2 was superior to Season 1, which focused on ghosts in a haunted house.

After showering and dressing, Biff left the house to start his "work day" at noon, driving to the coffee shoppe he liked, about 15 minutes away in a nearby town, to work on his book. He spent a solid two hours writing on the topic of zen discipline and meditation before he had to leave for a doctor's appointment.

Biff has been conducting a case study on Obamacare, with himself as the subject, and this would be his first interaction with a new doctor under a new HMO insurance policy he had enrolled in via the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Getting the insurance had been time consuming and costly, and contrary to what President Obama had said about keeping your doctor, Biff had not been able to, unless he wanted to fork over an arm and a leg first. It was far too expensive to keep his old insurance and doctor, so he had enrolled in the cheapest HMO he could find that met ACA minimum standards and it did not cover his former primary care doctor. He hoped that at least the medical care he would get would be satisfactory. That was today's research.

He wanted the new doctor to address his lingering cold and discuss his overall health and wellness plan going forward. He also wanted to see how easily he could transfer his medical records from his old doctor to the new doctor. Tomorrow, he will write up his findings.



Today was a remarkably productive day, even if too much of it was spent sorting out my new health insurance. Obamacare is not all it is cracked up to be.

Last night, my band GUPPY EFFECT once again attended and performed at the Funk's Pub open stage. It is a great way to recruit new fans, which word on the street has it are starting to refer to themselves as GUPPYHEADS. Anyway, it rocked. You can check out clips from past jams.

Video streaming by Ustream

Needless to say, it was a fairly late night. The pub decided to feed us all at the end of the night, which was awesome. They have great food there.

I slept in a bit this morning. Rocking takes a lot out of me. When I got up, I worked out right away, doing about 45 minutes on the bike trainer, before the day got away from me, as I was pretty sure it would. Thanks Obamacare.

I kicked off my workday about noon, doing the Obamacare hoop jumping with my insurance company and the associated clinic for at least two hours. I think it is squared away now. You wouldn't think a typo on my birth date in their system could completely incapacitate a professional insurance organization, but that's what happened. I also got my MyChart information centralized on MyChart central (appropos name...), with the information from my current provider and my last one now all in one place.

Then it was off to the post office briefly to mail my dead smart phone back to the wireless company. Last week it completely died. I couldn't even factory reset it. So they sent me a brand new one within 24 hours (thanks to Jon Knudson for letting me borrow his iPhone so I could call the wireless technical support people) and I shipped the dead one back today, all postage pre-paid. I am glad I have a gmail based Android phone, because most of my contacts and calendar entries are stored IN THE CLOUD and automatically replenished on my new phone.

Then I practiced piano for 30 minutes before heading to Madison for my lesson. The lesson went pretty well. I haven't had one since January, when I stopped going because of severe anxiety and stress caused by my job at the time (now remedied).

On the way home, I swung into the Piggly Wiggly and scored the fixings for an excellent tofu and spinach salad, which I prepared when I got back to my house, along with some veggie burgers.

I got a lot of "two minutes or less" items done today as well. If you have something that you know will take two minutes or less to do, just do it. It really cleans up a lot of the distracting mind clutter so you can focus on the bigger things.

I just finished a marathon session of bass guitar and vocal practice for tomorrow night's band practice with GUPPY EFFECT. We have some deceptively difficult tunes this week. They are mostly straight ahead four chord punk rockers, but they have some rhythmic and lyrical nuances that are tricky. I will probably have to refresh them again tomorrow too.

Tomorrow will be action packed as well. I'll work out first thing again. This is my new fitness challenge, to get some aerobic exercise every day, and I find if I do it first thing in the morning, I am more likely to actually achieve it.

I'm starting on some work for the new contract job and will probably do some writing on my book too. I plan to do this at the coffee shoppe, where I find the background noise helps me focus for some reason. The zen discipline of going to the coffee shoppe helps to avoid distractions around the house and forces me to focus on the tasks at hand.

In the afternoon tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment to meet my new doctor for the first time and have a general checkup. I am pretty much over my cold, so I think I won't be needing any medicine. It's mainly part of my Obamacare case study. I signed up to see what it was like, and how hard it was to get and stuff. I have a lot to report, but getting some actual health care (not just the insurance) is part of the equation. I want to make sure my insurance covers what it is supposed to cover and my doctor is accessible and competent.

Most people in America seem pretty ill-informed about the American health care system and the (un)Affordable Care Act. I was lucky enough to get a Masters in public health from the UW Madison, on THE MAN's dime, in 2004. A lot of people seem to confuse the cost of health care with the cost of health insurance, and although they are correlated, they are not the same. The more people who get insured, the lower the cost of healthcare for everyone, but that doesn't mean the cost of insurance will go down. The private insurance companies will never lower their prices, even if they are paying out less to providers. They will just report larger profits. That's why the case can be made for a government single payer option that is tied to actual health care costs. Anyway, I am way off topic.

On Wednesday, I'll do some more work for the client and myself (book), and I plan to bike up to Lake Mills to meet my friends Sherry and Jerome for lunch. That will constitute my workout for Wednesday and achieve my fitness goal for that day. However, I may still work out in the morning too, just to make sure. Lunch plans sometimes fall through.

Well, it's past my bedtime.



Highly Productive Day

I had a highly productive day today. So productive in fact, that it left little time to write a blog post.

But I am squeezing one out anyway.

I did a bunch of clerical stuff today and did some research on the Broadjam music licensing website.

I also got a workout in before GUPPY EFFECT band practice tonight, which rocked.

I have to keep it short. I have important meetings in the morning and require slumber.

Good night.