This Weekend Should Have Killed Me

That title is sensationally hyperbolic, but the weekend was grueling in a very fun and satisfying way. I bike commuted to work on Friday and it started raining during my commute home. That wasn't too terrible. I got a decent night of sleep Friday night. I met Sherry for brunch on Saturday morning and then spent most of the rest of Saturday prepping for the rock-n-roll house concert at my house, hosted by EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE and DR. NOISE (opening act). People starting arriving about 5 PM and we grilled out and socialized for a couple hours. DR. NOISE went on about 7:30 and played about an hour. Then EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE rocked our set (videos of the performances are below). It was a good time. I was tired on Sunday morning, but I still went on a 22 mile bike ride with Sherry, from Cottage Grove to Kroghville, where we munched on a few $0.25 cent wings and had a couple beers. When we got back to Cottage Grove, we ate a more substantial meal before heading home.

I rode my bike to Funks Pub tonight for the open jam too. That will add about 6 more miles to my daily biking total. So almost 30 miles of biking today...not bad. The jam is once again way too loud. I don't know why they have to turn it up so loud. It deters people. I have earplugs in and it's annoyingly loud. I will have to bike home in the dark after the jam but I have an awesome headlight for my bike that's super bright and it is mostly on bike trail. The biggest danger will be wildlife and axe murderers. Well, if I disappear, search along the Badger State Bike trail in Fitchburg WI between McKee Rd (PD) and the Beltline Highway.


The State of Rock-n-Roll

GUPPY EFFECT band practice was canceled for tonight, by our drummer. That’s unfortunate for band momentum, but we don’t have a gig until the end of May (at Art Nest), as of now. I’ll probably work on music and writing on my own tonight.

EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE had a great band practice last night, and we have a show this Saturday night. It’s actually a house concert performance in my basement, for a few friends. We have a couple of new songs on the set list. Momentum is good in this band, notwithstanding the drummer’s 2 week European vacation. GUPPY EFFECT guitarist Stefan is going to stop by tonight with the LED light rack so EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE can use that on Saturday.

BABY ROCKET has a show tomorrow night at the Nautigal, and while the cover band music does nothing for me anymore, it should be a decent enough time and will pay some fair musician wages.

HIATVS is reuniting for a house party gig on June 13 and we have rehearsals planned for May 3 and May 31, in Madison, to get ready for it. Although this is a cover band as well, it’s a lot more fun than BABY ROCKET.

The RITA WITTER BAND is still embryonic and needs to tighten up their backstroking on the songs (still biff heavy). They play an esoteric mix of about 50/50 covers and originals. It’s an alright band, largely because the 22 year old lead guitarist holds it all together. Having a female front person is also nice. I don’t invest a lot of time in this band, because no one else does. It’s just something to do sometimes, for fun. I think we have a gig in June or July, but not sure when.

I think five bands is enough. In reality, only one of them is compelling (EDDIE), because they actually practice and play gigs and have a business model. I don’t like playing in BABY ROCKET, but I agreed to play some firm dates this year and no more. I am laissez faire about GUPPY EFFECT, because I am generally always available and it is up to those guys to make time for it. They are both busy, so I let them set the pace. RITA WITTER BAND practices about weekly, but no one in that band ever practices outside of rehearsal, so progress is really slow and there are still a lot of biffs. As with anything, you get out what you put in.

The Funk’s Pub open jam/stage is still something I do fairly regularly, although most of my full bands don’t participate, with the exception of the RITA WITTER BAND. HIATVS will probably do the jams on May 3 and 31, after we rehearse, to get a little live stage performance honing in.

I am still doing online mini house concerts solo acoustically in my basement when time permits. My internet technology is starting to get really out of date now. My old laptop is getting senile and not recognizing the OS dvd anymore. Some web browsers are no longer supported on my Mac. I will probably need a new laptop soon. It is not high on my priority list though.


Eddie Ate Dynamite Resumes Practice

Tonight, my punk rock band, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, resumes its Tuesday night practice schedule, albeit sans bass player Spots.

The band was on a brief hiatus from practices while drummer Frank was galavanting around Europe for a fortnight. I have to say, I am looking forward to practicing again because I am probably a little bit rusty on the songs and we have a house concert show this coming Saturday (at my house).

We are working on a new song, though I am not sure if this will be ready by Saturday. I will most likely record the rehearsal so that we can share the demos with Spots and he can hone his bass lines remotely. I will also use the recordings to gauge how rusty I am on the songs and improve my performance ahead of Saturday’s house show.

As for the house concert, it is 5-9 PM at my house. We’ll grill out around 5 PM and the music should kick off about 7 PM. In addition to EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, lead guitarist Eddie’s other band, DR. NOISE, will play. There is a chance that BEKA KILLJOE, an acoustic punk rock solo act, will also play.


Bye Bye Buddy

My dog Buddy has his ticket to the Big Doggy Park in the Sky. The vet and I decided this morning that it is time. He’s not really Buddy anymore, just kind of a walking canine vegetable, senile, not eating, having seizures and falling down all the time. When I let him outside he just kind of paces the yard in a trance until he falls down and can’t get up. It’s painful to watch.

I am not sad when pets die. I am sad when they suffer before they die. So that’s why it’s time for Buddy to take the Big Sleep. He doesn’t have any quality of life left.

I adopted Buddy, a lab mix (with probably shepherd, given his gamey joints), from the pound when he was one year old, along with another stray female dog named Ginger (a shepherd mix who died in 2007 of Kong Ball indigestion).

Once I tamed the “bite” out of Buddy, he was a pretty chill dog. He had zero interest in chasing balls, totally ignored other dogs, and loved to sneak food off the kitchen counter when no one was looking (I never could tame that out of him).

He had a great life and he is basically dying of old age at 15 (105 in dog years). You can’t really do much better than that with a pet, unless you have a Galapagos Tortoise or something that lives to be like 200 years old. I don’t believe in Heaven, but if I’m wrong, then Buddy will be reunited with Ginger, so he’ll know someone up there. I prefer to believe Buddy will be transported through time/space to a universe ruled by canines and he will helm a starship that does battle with the evil Felines of Catnipius 5.

So if you were touched by Buddy, pay him a little mental tribute in your own way, but don’t worry about me. I’m good with the decision. It’s the right thing and the right time. I don’t know what my other dog, Foster, thinks of all this. He and Buddy never were that close, they just kind of tolerated each other. But Foster does seem a bit subdued and has lost his appetite of late. I think that is more because he senses my stress, not because he knows what’s going on with Buddy. But who the hell knows?

If anyone wants to see Buddy before he goes, my friend Sherry and I will be paying last respects in my back yard around 12:30 today before I take him to the vet sometime this afternoon, barring some kind of miraculous recovery on Buddy’s part.

Thanks for all the supportive thoughts and well wishes. HUGZ!


Ireland and Things

I booked my August flight to Ireland today. My RAGBRAI bike team will be there for a week, flying into Dublin and then biking around Killarney and Gallway. I have never been to Ireland, much less biked around it, so I am super excited to be doing two of my favorite things – biking and international travel – and also writing about it (a third favorite thing). We have a basic itinerary sketched out but still need to coordinate bike rentals and lodging and things, as well as transportation between the cities of interest. Fantastic.


An Update on Buddy

I took Buddy to the vet this morning for observation. He’s having another episode of dementia with associated micro-seizures, where he kind of pauses…trembles…and then falls over. He gets right back up a few seconds later, but the vet says it might be neurological.

I thought the Cushing’s disease drugs were working, because Buddy seemed to return to normalcy once he started on them a few weeks ago, after his first episode of dementia and seizures. But this recent episode was a total relapse, suggesting the neurological stuff isn’t related to Cushing’s and that’s not great news for Buddy.

He is staying overnight at the kennel tonight and they are going to retest him for the Cushing’s tomorrow, because I guess this test takes the better part of a day to conduct. We might also start him on a month’s regimen of an anti-epileptic drug to see if his seizures improve.

Buddy’s eyesight seems to fail when he has these episodes. So he’ll wander into walls and house plants and things. When he is out in the yard, he will sometimes get trapped inside the rabbit fencing of the garden or behind the rock next to the compost pile and not know how to get out. Kind of sad. The thing is, after this happened the last time, he seemed to make a full recovery and I thought the Cushing’s drug was working for him. So the fact that he had another acute episode suggests that either the drugs aren’t working anymore, or the neurological stuff is not due to Cushing’s at all.

He definitely has Cushing’s though, because he tested positive for that the last time this happened. If the new drugs don’t help, I think Buddy may be headed for the BIG SLEEP, because his quality of life would not be good. There’s no sense keeping an animal alive if it’s just basically a retarded walking vegetable. I think Buddy kind of wants to die, in a weird way. He has stopped eating the last couple days and now when he goes outside, he just plops down on the grass and seems to have no will to live or do anything. I have to crate him when he is inside, because he seems to have also forgotten that he is house trained and will whizz on the floor. He’ll whizz in his crate too, if he has to go bad enough. But it’s easier to clean up the crate bed than the floor of my house. I line the bed with a beach towel and some canine pee pads that absorb up to five times their weight or volume in water or something.

I am trying not to stress out too much, but this is putting a crimp on my ability to bike commute because I have to go home at lunch to let Buddy outside, and I would not have enough time if I biked. I am adapting though. Today, I did not bike commute, but I got in a 3.2 mile (5K) power walk over lunch. I also resisted free cake at work. CostCo cake no less…delicious stuff…but I defeated the temptation demon handily and ate a tuna sandwich instead (probably had about the same calories as a small piece of cake, but healthier, because it’s fish!). Tomorrow, I fully plan to bike commute, at least in the AM, though I may have to go home at lunch to get my car, so I can pick Buddy up after work. I am on a fitness challenge to lose my winter weight and be ready for summer fun by Memorial Weekend.


How My Dog Buddy Almost Kiboshed My Bike Commute Today

I bike commuted today, but I almost didn’t. My dog Buddy has fallen into another one of his fits of dementia, where he starts stumbling around the house, retardedly crashing into walls and things like he has lost his vision. To me, it seems a little bit like the dog equivalent of multiple sclerosis, and there is a canine condition called degenerative myelopathy for which Buddy has many of the symptoms. Buddy also becomes a bit incontinent during these episodes, so I have to crate him with some pee pads until he comes out of the dementia state. He came out of it in a couple days the last time he had it. That’s what makes it so odd, that it comes and goes.

Anyway, Buddy’s pacing woke me up when he came pacing through my room and banged into the wall this morning, notwithstanding the fact that I took some Benadryl and a natural sleep aid last night to help me sleep through such things. I called the vet at 7 AM to get advice, but she wasn’t in until 8. I had hoped to get on my bike sooner than that. While I waited for her to get into the office, I prepped my bike bag with work clothes and the like. I finally got ahold of the vet around 8:20 and she said there wasn’t a lot I could do except wait it out. But she did prescribe me some pain meds, in case the condition Buddy has is related to his weak back legs and hips.

Since there was little else I could do for Buddy, I bike commuted into work around 8:30 AM, which made me slightly late (I had alerted my boss to the situation already…). Because I had to go pick up the pain meds after lunch, I bike commuted back home over the lunch hour and then drove to the vet for the pills. I drove back to work after that, which was an unfortunate reality. But at least I still managed to get a bike commute in, even if it didn’t save me any mileage on my car.

I had Buddy in to the kennel over the weekend when I road tripped out to Iowa. He may have had a traumatic experience there that sent him into his fit, or perhaps the unfamiliar environment was confusing to him, notwithstanding the fact that my other dog Foster was with him to keep him company. We’ll see what happens. Buddy isn’t going to live forever, but I want his remaining days to be relatively good quality.

Tonight I will probably buy some ribeye steaks at CostCo and fry them up so I can use the juice on Buddy’s food to get him to take his meds. I’ll also enjoy the steaks.


Back to Bike Commuting

I can finally start bike commuting again tomorrow. The weather is back to being normal spring weather and I don’t have any nonsense on my calendar that would obstruct me. In fact, I should be able to bike to work every day this week. The only reason I didn’t today was because I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

There is only one doctor in Madison who takes my new insurance. Said insurance covers preventive annual physicals at 100%, so I scheduled one of those to make contact with my new doctor and get to know him. He’s an old school family practice doctor who spends a decent amount of time with his patients. I’m not sure how long I will be with him, depending on if I get offered full time employment with my current employer, and switch to their insurance plan which has a much bigger network.


The Long Slog

The drive back from Iowa always seems longer than the drive out, even though it's exactly the same time, speed, and distance (275 miles door to door).

However, I am back now and it went just fine. Iowa drivers suck worse than Wisconsin ones, as a rule of thumb, with the exception of Madison WI drivers who suck the absolute worst of all. This suck scale, I should explain, is based primarily on the metric of "dumb driving." To wit, making poor driving decisions to do with speed, changing lanes, and merging.

Iowa was fun. I ate pizza and saw a show. After the show I got caught up with one of my friends I have not seen or spoken to in a long time. I stayed up too late and I was a little tired today, which is probably responsible for the seemingly long drive.

Now I am at the Funk's Pub open jam, live streaming it using a high definition (HD) web camera I borrowed from my friend Wendy. It's not performing as HD as I had hoped because it has an autofocus feature I cannot adjust for reasons beyond the scope of this post, and it keeps autofocusing on foreground things, so the stage keeps jumping in and out of focus. However, the sound quality should not be in any way affected by this minor technical difficulty.



I road tripped to Ames, Iowa this morning. I had a free weekend from rocking so I decided to visit my Iowa friends. It's good to get away occasionally. I was overdue for a visit. At this moment I am sitting in a super comfy easy chair, binge watching Louis C.K. on Netflix, while drinking a Boulevard wheat beer from my buddy Bryon's kegerator beer fridge. In a couple hours, I will go gorge myself on one of the world's best pizzas at Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company. Then I'll go to a show. It'll be chill and super fun. I am wearing all black and wearing my favorite band t-shirt, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE. I know I shouldn't toot my own band's horn, but it's a good shirt, a nice cut of polyester infused cotton that augments my middle aged contours. Not a half bad band either...and I may as well introduce these Iowans to the classy punk rock meme. After the show I'll probably force down a gyro from a street vendor before retiring for the night, precluding any compelling invitation to attend an after bar or spend the night in the company of an intriguing woman.

I'll head back to Wisconsin tomorrow after sleeping in and, if all goes well, eating a nice greasy breakfast at the Village Inn. I'll probably make it back to Madison in time for the open jam at Funk's Pub.


I Voted Today

On election days, I usually vote between 8 and 9 AM, en route to work. Today was no exception. I was voter #92 at my polling place and I think that bodes well for voter turnout, since I am usually around voter #11 in that time frame when elections are poorly attended, notwithstanding that the pundits were calling for a low turnout. If there is a higher turnout, I suspect it is because of the disastrous outcome of the last election, which was a result of a lot of people apathetically not voting. Not wanting to make that mistake twice, the formerly unmotivated voters (who tend to be lazy moderate liberals) probably compelled themselves to get down to their polling place. Maybe it is because the Wisconsin Badgers lost their basketball game last night and Wisconsin voters were like, "Damned if I am going to lose my democracy too!" Anger can be a strong motivator.


Badgers NCAA Championship Game

What am I doing? I'm not a sports fan at all! But here I sit at Babe's Pub near my house with the Rita Witter Band anticipating a basketball game. Weird.

Also gonna eat dinner and have a couple beers, my real motivation.

But I am happy if my friends are happy and this basketball game seems to fill them with oxytocin and endorphins. So that's cool.

If the Badgers lose, they will be filled with cortisol and other stress hormones.

The Weekend in Retrospect

I had a fairly relaxing weekend. On Friday after work, I attended Gomeroke at the High Noon Saloon for happy hour. That’s karaoke with a live band. I wasn’t picked and I am starting to think the whole operation is rigged toward the regulars (I attend infrequently), even though names are supposedly drawn at random from a hat. However, it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t picked to sing my chosen song (“Alison” by Elvis Costello), because I already sing and play instruments in 3.5 bands and can pretty much do that any time I want. Nonetheless, I had suited up for the occasion and even bought a $15 fedora-like hat at Kohl’s. I also had a couple of friends in attendance, my neighbor Danielle and Wendy from SUNSPOT, who wanted to hear me sing, and now they might be discouraged from attending Gomeroke in the future because they were unfulfilled at this last one. Maybe not though…

After the Gomeroke, Wendy and I met some other friends for a social at the Malt House, a little neighborhood bar on the east side of Madison WI. A couple of other friends were leaving for Germany on Saturday for two weeks and it was kind of a bon voyage party.

Saturday morning, I slept in for a good long time, getting up only to feed the dogs and let them out in the yard. In the afternoon, I did some spring cleaning in the yard for about 90 minutes, raking up leaves on the patio and checking the gutters (mostly all clear). In three weeks, I am hosting a house concert chill and grill at my house and I wanted to get the patio ready in anticipation of those festivities. I can now check that chore off my list. In the early evening, I worked on some music and then I drove downtown to watch the Badgers basketball game with some of my people. I am not a sports fan, but it was a thrilling and suspenseful game. The Badgers won by the skin of their teeth over undefeated Kentucky, which was quite an upset, is my understanding.

"Sports Go Sports!" by GARFUNKEL AND OATES

After the win, the gang wanted to go to a downtown bar called the Merchant. I can’t stand the place, and neither can my friend Alissa, so the two of us bailed on the group and walked the couple of blocks down to the more beatnik Genna’s Pub where we had a nice conversation for about an hour.

I relaxed all day on Sunday, watching some Netflix and working on a new Mini House Concert video in lieu of the Sunday open jam at Funk’s Pub, which was canceled because of a bunny that poops chocolate eggs (Hint: that’s not chocolate…) and a zombie man-god. That was disappointing. I had offered to host the jam in my Rock Cave instead, but I could not garner enough interest. So I honed another song (“Sara,” which I co-wrote with street musician Art Paul Schlosser a few years back) and spent some time videotaping and producing it for the house concert.

I think I might take a hiatus from the Funk's Pub open jam for a while. It hasn’t been doing as well as I had hoped and the turnout is consistently poor, in part because they always have the volume turned up way too loud in the bar and it scares the Funk’s patrons away. They haven't introduced any new talent to the jam and I think it is getting a bit stale. The owner of the place doesn’t support the jam or market it very well. He won’t even hire a pro sound technician to run the sound board, so the house band ends up having to do it themselves as best they can, which I think is weak sauce on the venue's part. A lot of the musicians that used to attend the jam have stopped coming (including my band GUPPY EFFECT). Pretty soon I think it is just going to be the house band’s weekly gig, it seems like, playing to a mostly empty room. I don’t have a solution to the poor attendance of the open jam, but I am certain it involves the owner of the place upping his game on supporting and promoting it, hiring a sound guy, and keeping the house volume tolerably low. Right now the owner is just exploiting the musicians to get a few extra customers on Sunday nights when the place would normally be dead. To the extent the musicians are cool with that, it's fine. It does offer an outlet for musicians to perform that might not otherwise be available, but if a band plays at an open jam and there's no one their to hear it, does it make a sound? Anyway, not my issue. Just using this forum to organize my thoughts about the jam.

So, the University of Wisconsin Badgers will play tonight (Monday) in the final championship basketball game. I have band practice with the Rita Witter Project around 6:30 and then the band is going to go watch the final game at Babe’s Pub and Grill near my house after 8 PM. I will probably try to carpool with a band mate.


"Sara" by Cactus Joe and Art Paul Schlosser

Cactus Joe's Mini House Concert - April 5, 2015 - "Sara" (Cactus Joe/Art Paul Schlosser)
"Sara" by Cactus Joe and Art Paul Schlosser.Performed by Cactus JoeCactus Joe's Mini House Concert Series
Posted by Joe Leonard on Sunday, April 5, 2015


April Fools - Foster Did Not Have Puppies!

I am surprised a few people fell for my April Fool's post yesterday.

No, my male dog Foster did not have puppies and he is not a hermaphrodite.



An Interesting Development

So, this is weird.

My dog Foster gave birth to puppies last night, and consequently is not a male dog after all.

Foster had been gaining a lot of weight for a few weeks, and I had no idea why. I was thinking of going to the vet soon to see what was going on, but since Foster seemed to be in good health in every other way, I put it off to save money on vet bills.

When I woke up this morning, I heard weird squeaky noises coming from the living room and when I investigated, I discovered Foster being “attacked” by what looked like a half dozen hairless rats. I thought I must still be asleep and having some kind of nightmare. It freaked me out. But on closer inspection, I saw they were tiny puppies suckling on my dog’s “teets.”

I called the vet and she was as surprised as I was. I surfed the web and apparently, in rare cases, Boston terriers can be hermaphroditic (have both male and female sex organs). So even though he was castrated by his previous owner, she was never spayed because everyone assumed Foster was 100% male.

In retrospect, a couple months ago, I had found spots of blood around the house, on furniture and carpets. I assumed one of my dogs had cut himself on accident and thought nothing more of it, since the spotting had stopped shortly thereafter. But it may have been Foster in heat!

The other thing I cannot figure out is what dog impregnated Foster? Both my neighbors have male dogs, but my yard is completely fenced in, so I am thinking someone walking their dog must have let their dog into my yard through the gate to play with Foster when he was outside.