Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It was a war on terror, a war against "islamic fascists," and now an "ideological war." This guy plants more memes than Iowans plant corn, or Afghanis plant poppies or....something. Help me out!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Border fence firm snared for hiring illegal workers. Need I say more? Must I? Okay, I will. My entire family will be here in the Bay Area for the holidays! That includes members from Paris, Berlin and Oshkosh (ok, Paris France but Berlin, Wisconsin, not Germany). I am so excited I could just poop!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ok, so I stand corrected about the Iraq study report. I've read about halfway and so far it's looking like 160 pages of honest accounting of the situation over there. 3,000 dead Iraqis per month? All of this talk about how 9/11 changes everything...I have to ask: 3,000 innocents here in America died on 9/11, and that same amount of Iraqi civilians have died...each and every month since 2003? Nothing has changed. It's the same old shoot first, ask questions later mentality that the Bush administration engaged in. If they were true to the maxim that a different kind of world requires a different kind of response, I wonder what would have happened had this report come out before we invaded Iraq? I wonder. All we have done is to react in the same way that nations have reacted since history was recorded, which is to kick some ass and continue the cycle of violence.

This is not to say that by us not doing that, that Al Qaeda would not continue to try and kill Americans at home and abroad. But by reacting the way we did, we've perversely given them way more power than they ever would have had.
Ok, so I stand corrected about the Iraq study report. I've read about halfway and so far it's looking like 160 pages of honest accounting of the situation over there. 3,000 dead Iraqis per month? All of this talk about how 9/11 changes everything...I have to ask: 3,000 innocents here in America died on 9/11, and more than 10x that (and that's being conservative) of Iraqi civilians have died. Nothing has changed. It's the same old shoot first, ask questions later mentality that the Bush administration engaged in. If they were true to the maxim that a different kind of world requires a different kind of response, I wonder what would have happened had this report come out before we invaded Iraq? I wonder.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why do I get the feeling that this Iraq "study group" is about to publish a 400 page report that can be translated into three simple words: Stay the course?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Need any more proof that Ahmaninejad has designs on Iraq, and the Middle East at large? Due to the vacuum we've created, guess who's stepping in?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am beginning to think that, maybe, the Youtube phenomenon has the potential to morph into a kind of Orwellian nightmare, fueled by a sort of mob mentality akin to the Salem witch hunts. Watch what you say and do, big brother might be recording .mpeg video on a cellphone to post online for all the world to see.

Youtube certainly has value, as evidenced when George Allen reared his ugly, racist head with his "macaca" remarks. But I see the potential for a kind of repression in it, too. I think Michael Richards should be, and has been, condemned for his racist comments at a nightclub recently. But should he be tarred and feathered for them? Burned at the stake?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ah yes, the new Gays in the Military style controversy, so the GOP can paint the Dems before they leave the gates. I really wish Charley Rangel would give his "reinstate the draft to prove a point" thing a rest. I mean, really.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I have been wildly overdue in mentioning the latest release from a mentor of mine, Jeff Jagielo, formerly of the underappreciated Madison, WI band Ivory Library. His new project, called Sqarewave, can be found here.

Jeff and Derrick Mcbride (who now plays in a band called Ultraset) took me under their wing somewhat in the early 90s when I had a band while at school in Madison called Strange Bedfellows. I cut my studio teeth with Jeff up at his home studio in Plover, WI, then promptly moved away to SF in 1993. We kept in touch for a while, then I moved so many different times, got all wrapped up in beulah, that I lost touch.

Last summer K & I had dinner with Jeff in Oshkosh and he handed me the above gem, along with an old recording that we did back in '92 called les plymouths, on DAT. I've been putting off mastering that old plymouths' record which, besides Beulah's body of work, is the one I'm most proud of making. I'll save les plymouths for another post, but Jeff's done a fine job with the Squarewave release.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Sunday morning, in Sunday school at the Berlin United Methodist Church, the associate pastor, whose name I forget, said "Beware of Jesus freaks. They're usually hiding something." All the way back in 8th grade I was being taught, in a small town I might add, that there is such a thing as being over-religious. Here lies another case study for that argument.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kudos to the Rude Pundit. However, we know that there is no such thing as the liberal media. It's the conservative media now. Kerry should know that, too. If I were in a tight race, I'd come out and say that what John Kerry said yesterday was just fucking stupid. The conservative media doesn't give a damn about the blogger who was roughed up by Allen's thugs. He's a blogger. What does old media care about bloggers, unless he's one of their own? Well, at least the National Media won't care as long as they will about JK's crap.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I unsubscribed to John Kerry's mailing list. There's no way around it, what he said was bullshit. What the fuck, dude? You're not running for office, and you don't stand a chance in hell to win in 2008. Give it up.

The thing that worries me the most is the conservative media will just eat this up. And if this is in the headlines for the good part of this week into next...like I said, I'll believe a Dem victory when I see it. Think of all the NBA games that are decided by the multiple fouls, timeouts and the like in the last, oh, 50 seconds or so. It's like that.

Why do I get the feeling that John Kerry's comment about "staying in school or you might end up in Iraq" is going to come back and haunt the Dems a week before the election?
My position as to whether the Dems take the House, the Senate or both? I'll believe it when I see it. I will admit it's looking as good as it has in a long while, but polls mean nada. Remember how Kerry was supposed to win based on exit polls?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh yeah, and let's not forget Iraq. If the Dems win, get ready folks. It's 1998 all over again, except this time about issues that really matter.
Mark my words, if the Dems manage to win either the House, the Senate, or both, you will see investigations into the numerous spikes in gas prices, and I guarantee an Enron-type scandal will be unearthed (or worse). This is precisely what happened in the wake of the California "energy crisis" once Jeffords bolted the GOP and turned the balance of the Senate to the DEMS in May of 2001. As one might recall, the shortages in California began in February of 2001, not a month after Bush's inauguration. Why? In my mind, these folks knew they now had political cover and saw an opportunity to manipulate supply. And that's exactly what they did. And the excuses we hear now about the sudden spike in oil prices were similarly outlined back then. As if energy use suddenly went sky high after January 20, 2001. Note: there were dire predictions for that summer, when people would be using more energy for air conditioners, etc. Didn't happen. Why? Their political cover was gone once the Senate went to the opposition. The crisis was over by June, and Enron's story broke a few months later. Think elections don't have consequences?

The folks in that industry who engaged in the practice of contango can try and cover up their profiteering under the rubric of "trying to stockpile in anticipation of the hurricane season, the peak driving season, China, India, or blah blah blah," but I'm telling you: no prices in any goods go up that fast relative to an otherwise stable economy unless there's some serious playing going on. They were gambling, pure and simple. And, for a time, they made a killing off of it, as now evidenced by stories coming out this week such as this one.

And why do you suppose the prices are going down now? No one will be able to prove collusion with the folks that give them political cover, and the need for things to, um, cool down come November. But I choose to believe the worst case scenario, because if it is not clear by now how evil our President and his Administration, and the right wingers in Congress are, then when will it be? I think (hope) the nation is finally growing tired of the bald faced lies that stream out of the White House like so much spam. I can only hope.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

So, Bush concedes potential parallels with Iraq today and Vietnam in '68. And he's spinning it to say that we shouldn't do what happened in '68 and change horses, stay the course, blah blah de blah. There's only one problem with his thinking, or lack of thinking as this case illustrates: Duh, they elected Nixon in '68. Are you now saying they should have kept Johnson? Just because he's from Texas, heh heh.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Oakland A's are down, but not out. Since I welcomed back baseball again finally in 2002 after swearing it off in 1994, the A's have become my adopted team. Partly it's because I lived in Oakland, and partly it's because I've admired the fact that they can have such a low payroll and still be a contender year in, year out. But I must admit that the clincher was the colors: green and gold, same as my beloved and lately battered and bruised PACK. I'm a simple man with simple needs. After attending game 3 of the ALDS to personally see them advance for the first time since '90, I've since been in a bad mood. K has been a little concerned at how loudly I've been screaming at the tube the past couple of days, and it's made me realize that maybe I am just a little too emotionally invested in this team. I think it represents an emotional investment in the underdogs in all walks of life. America's currently 0-2 in that regard when you look at the last two Presidential terms. So America...if the A's win tonight, get ready for 2008 because a change for the better is coming. No pressure, Rich Harden, no pressure.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More on Musharraf. I always had a hunch that this guy was playing it both ways. It seems pretty clear now that Bin Laden's in Pakistan. Does this mean we're going to invade? How about reinstate the draft? This is the only logical outcome of the neocon approach to world affairs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It has been at least ten years since I plopped on "Mind Bomb" by 80s group The The, but the song "Armageddon Days Are Here Again" has been stuck in my head on and off for the past couple of weeks. The song taken as a whole is rather pretentious, but for the chorus:

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilising
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Those who know me know that I am generally "hooked on phonics" when it comes to song lyrics. I am the kind of listener that remembers all the little nuances of chord changes, small augmentations in the music, the vocal inflections, the effects put on the drums/vocals/guitars, the key itself...anything but the damn words themselves. And the music for this song (even though I have not yet dug out the old tape I have of it) is certainly late 80s crap production values. But credit Matt Johnson for that chorus, as it is a mantra for our time. And I will never forget those words. The moment I bought that record, it was one of those rare times for me where I went "whoa, that's a really good fucking verse." And this was 1989. It was well into 1991 when the chumps in Jesus Jones were singing "Right here, right now."

I've beaten this subject to a bloody pulp, but Bin Laden's got his holy war. And, though still agnostic, I am becoming more and more of an atheist as the months and years go by. Usually this pattern goes in reverse as one gets old.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

On the subject of Contango, if this report is true, then how else to explain the sharp rise of oil prices during the same period?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Relating to my blurb a while back about Khatami, here is another clue to why I think he's leaving the country. I would not like to look into a crystal ball at the moment.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everybody dance the Contango. The conspiracy theorist in me can't help but wonder: is the time near to dump off all of that excess inventory? November's two months away. There are hints already.
Hmmmm, smells like 1979. Interestingly, the author does not pick up on the fact that Khatami was considered a reformer, someone, perhaps, that the U.S. felt a little friendlier with. Remember when the Shah was given refuge in the U.S. for health concerns? I can't help but wonder if Khatami's visit is something along similar lines. I'm guessing he's the odd man out over there given the current regime.

I don't put a lot of stock in the right wing meme "Middle East Nazis" that's being floated around. But Ahmaninejad is someone we should be very worried about. Contrary to what the neoconservatives might think, he is emboldened by our actions in Iraq. Remember the "peace through strength" argument that was bandied about during the first Gulf War? We've shown that we're overextended and Iran is moving to exploit it. Things are bad now over there, and they're going to get a hell of a lot worse. And I have no faith that the Bush Administration knows what it's doing. They're making up shit as they go along.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Well put, Jimmy:

"You never can be certain in advance that negotiations on difficult circumstances will be successful, but you can be certain in advance if you don't negotiate that your problem is going to continue and maybe even get worse."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I see Gozdilla, Jurassic Park or Frankenstein in our future. Biotech is just a-going all buck nutty.

Somewhere in the midst of my previous post's tirade, I thought I might mention the AFSP walk, but then I figured I'd wait until I cooled down. And now it's been a bit of time since we walked, but I just want to say thanks to everyone who donated and participated. Our team raised almost $8700! It was a great experience and a good healing process. We will probably do this every year and try to stay involved with the AFSP as they open an office here in the Bay Area. Jon's passing is something I am still trying to process. Somehow it doesn't feel real. During the walk I meditated on the subject often, how we used to talk about some of the suicides in the neighborhood as we were growing up as kids. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed Jon had any thoughts like that. I've since come to learn that this is true for many people's friends and loved ones. Sometimes it's simply not wanting to be a burden on others. You could call it putting on a mask, but it's a fine line between that and just being an optimist who looks at the bright side of life. I guess we friends and loved ones of those who aren't feeling well need to listen to our instincts a little more, at the risk of being overly cautious. If it seems like something's being swept under the rug, best to listen to those impulses and at least approach the subject. When this is not done, and someone ends his or her life, it is, in my mind, a big source of the the guilt we end up feeling: What if I had brought up the subject? Would it have made a difference? More on this later.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Um, are there any lawyers out there in the audience who can tell me whether or not incompetence could be interpreted as high crimes and misdemeanors?

Jesus Christ, where to start? Oh, I know. Here:

"QUESTION: Mr. President, officials have been quoted saying that the international force would not include U.S. troops. And I wonder if you can explain why that is. Is it because the military is already overtaxed? Is it because you're afraid that the U.S. doesn't have credibility in the region?

BUSH: No, I think, first of all, there's been a history in Lebanon with U.S. troops.

Secondly, I have said that if the international force would like some help with logistics and command and control, we'd be willing to offer logistics and command and control.

You know, there's some places where - it's like Darfur. People say to me, Well, why don't you commit U.S. troops to Darfur as part of an international peacekeeping?

And the answer there is that those troops would be - would create a sensation around the world that may not enable us to achieve our objective.

And so when we commit troops, we commit troops for a specific reason with the intent of achieving an objective. And I think command and control and logistical support is probably the best - is the best use of U.S. forces."

This article talks about our "history in Lebanon." It is not pretty. I've never been a fan of Reagan, which comes as no surprise. But old Ron's a philosopher king compared to this buffoon and the tool he shared the podium with today. Should Condi know better? I'm not so sure.

And the Darfur comment...talk about false dichotomies. And, duh Mr. "President," you have already achieved the sensation around the world that may not enable us to achieve our objective by rushing into Iraq without a strategy to deal with a long term guerrilla war. This is why Iran...oops, I mean...Hezbollah, is moving now, you fucking dumbass.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This article is the best articulation of what I've been feeling about the mess in the Middle East. I do not agree with the solution, but I think it draws an interesting parallel between Nasser and Ahmaninejad, which I think is essentially correct. I think, like Nasser (from my reading of him back in my college days when I had to write a paper on the Aswan Dam for a course on the Middle East...packed that year due to the first Gulf War, I might add), Ahmaninejad has designs of conquest. I think the notion of a "crescent" of Shiite persuasion is very real, and what the Bush administration (and the douchebags in the PNAC) doesn't seem to understand, or want to admit, is that by throwing all of our cards onto the table in Iraq, cards that have turned out to be a very bad hand, the likes of Ahmaninejad are now emboldened because they know we're probably not going to send troops over there. And Kim Jong-Il is playing the role of a Sideshow Bob quite predictably. The only thing missing here is the Cold War backdrop.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Supporting my question about why we're approaching Iran and NK differently than we did for Iraq is this article in today's NY Times. An interesting read, whether you agree with its premise or not.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

After all of the geek tech talk, I forgot to mention the most important part. To celebrate our anniversary and getting our apartment in order the way we like it, we're hosting a BBQ today. This is what I got for our 5 year anniversary: A CharBroil Silver Smoker. I see many years of happy memories with this bad boy in the middle of 'em.
7/7 has a different meaning in our household: It's our wedding anniversary. I got K an iPod Nano the other day, but things didn't go as planned in the setup. When I plugged it into either of the front USB ports in our Gateway PC, I kept getting the message:

"USB device not rcognized. One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message."

Clicking this message didn't do it. So what did I do? First, I went to iTunes and upgraded to the latest version. Then I ran the iPod disk with the Nano. Repeated the above. Same result.

Next, I plugged in my iPod and got the same message. Uh-oh, what did I do? So then I did a Windows System Restore, and restored the computer to a state before I started all of this.

Bad move. Now iTunes wouldn't open and neither would Quicktime. In the case of iTunes, I would get the Windows Error "Send Error Report." Tried deinstalling using the Windows Msi cleanup tool, went to regedit, tried to clean the registry. This made matters worse. I went to bed angry.

Yesterday morning, at 6:30 am, I woke up and couldn't take it anymore. I did ANOTHER system restore, this time back to 7/5. Still no dice. Now I would get "-1639 Invalid Command line argument. Consult the Windows installer SDK for detailed command line help."

Finally, I re-ran the msi cleanup, removed all folders relating to iTunes and iPod (after backing them up). I also managed to find a tech note to fix Quicktime in a forum from another user. I downloaded and ran Quicktime as a standalone application, upon that user's advice. Then I re-downloaded the latest and greatest of iTunes. Got those back up and running. Next, I re-ran the installation disk for iPod Nano.

I then finally went back and followed Apple's "5 Rs" advice. I restarted the Nano, then rebooted the PC. Then, I plugged the Nano into one of the USB ports in the back. That worked. In the front? Still "USB Device Not Recognized." Hmmm, a problem with the USBs in the front? No, the Webcam worked, as did some other programs. Interestingly, a USB disk drive that Greg lent so I could download "Sunday Bloody Sunday" for K also threw out that same error message.

So, I dug into a Windows forum (which I now cannot find) and found a little article: It seems that the Windows Genuine Advantage patch KB 905474, installed on my machine on 6/30, seems to be the culprit. Could I remove it from "add-remove" programs in the Control Panel. Nope. Of all of the applications/patches in add-remove, this one entry is curiously the only one that cannot be removed. It even says so in the tech note. What gives?

I then connected my iPod in the back, and Apple came up and said there is an updated software version for my iPod, would I like to download it? Yes sir, I would. I did, and then MY iPod started working in the front USB. But the Nano still doesn't. An improvement, but an annoyance. Still, I got K's to work, downloaded all the Tunes, and had it at her bedside table by 9am as she was waking up.

Lessons learned? Dumb it down. Use the KISS principle. Had I kept it simple, stupid, I probably would have solved the problem by running the Nano install disk and then just trying to plug the Nano in one of the USB ports in the back of the machine. And I would have saved about 5 hours of troubleshooting hell. I came THIS close to copying all of my MP3s and M4a (iTunes files) to disks and transferring them to my G4 and saying to hell with the PC. But the takeaway from this is: Never give up. As K was rocking out to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" with her new iPod Nano, I blew her a kiss and mouthed just that. Never-Give-Up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I wonder if the White House will try CNN in the "court of public opinion" for revealing that this CIA unit has been shut down. Or maybe they leaked that one on purpose. Who knows? Gotta keep 'em guessing, right?

Speaking of a lack of consistency, no one on the right has been, thus far, able to explain why we've been so measured in our responses to North Korea and Iran's bellicosity as compared to our, um, sense of urgency in the months leading up to Iraq. Am I missing something here?

Friday, June 30, 2006

Maybe there's hope for Alito one day. But when all the decisions for this year are rendered, I'll bet they'll be a foursome on many more occasions. Mmmmmmm. Foursome.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Before everyone begins celebrating the latest Supreme Court Decision ruling out military tribunals at Gitmo, it is now clear that the notion of the "Scalia four" is real. Make no mistake, if Roberts hadn't recused himself, it would have been a 5-4 decision. So it is clear that the far right on the Court now counts four. Roberts for Rehnquist was a wash. Alito for O'Connor clearly is not. John Paul Stevens is 86 years old. I'm not a religious man, but his health is one thing to pray for.

It is also now clear that Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote, so to speak. One can take some solace in the fact that, when Thomas was brought in back in '91, O'Connor shifted a little more towards the center. The same can be hoped for Kennedy now. One note of irony: Stevens, considered the most liberal on the court now, was a Ford appointee. Then again, Earl Warren was an Eisenhower appointee and a GOP Governor of the great state of CA. Evolution is possible. But not for Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito. Thomas himself was once quoted as saying "I ain't evolvin'." That arrogance says it all. And they've got a friend in the White House. To me, Roberts is the one to worry about the most. There's something in those eyes of his that have that "holy roller" glaze. I can almost picture him speaking in tongues.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The latest absurity to come out of the White House is that it is somehow treasonous for the New York Times to report that we've been monitoring financial transactions to try and catch terrorists. What the fuck? Don't they think that, maybe, the terrorists are cognizant of the fact that we're tracking them in any way that we can, legal or not? Give me a fucking break! Plus, our government mentioned this as one possibility way back in 2002. It was public domain then. Why is it some big damn secret now? Am I missing something?

What's even more frustrating is that the Democrats continue to lack the spine to stand up to the GOP blueprint (see Feinstein cow-towing to the Flag Burning Amendment nut jobs). They do not have much of a vision because they can't agree. And so you have armies and legions of mindless platitudes marching across the teleprompter in search of a point. Gone are the days when Clinton methodically pointed out that trickle-down economics (and how Bush learned from that playbook, repeating one's own coined terms for things like Supply Side) doesn't work except in a vacuum.


Howard Dean acted like Jon Stewart (and the studio audience) should have been awestruck by his door-to-door campaign when he appeared on the Daily Show last month. Stewart said "So the Democrats are now as powerful as some of the Jehovah's Witnesses." And when Stewart asked him what the Democrats planned to do differently than the Bush administration and the GOP, Dean said "Aha! I thought you might ask this." And he pulls out a door hanger, the kind that Chinese restaurants and pizza joints from the neighborhood litter your front porch with and says, I shit you not: "You hang this over the doorknob if nobody's home" as if this was some earth shaking new concept that no one's ever heard before. And when Stewart said "You are SO not going to win in November," my heart sank, because he's right.

The people (some homo sapiens, many more homo erectus) that voted for Bush will always show up to the polls. People with common sense are spooked because they don't think that Democrats can do anything better except raise their taxes for everything. The Dems need to figure out a dumbed down way to cut through that bullshit.

George Lakoff's excellent Don't Think of an Elephant is the closest we get, but even that falls short of articulating the vision. Lakoff points out how to present the message, and even hints at some what the message should be, but there's not a lot of meat and potatoes. Before we know it, we'll wake up one morning and realize that we're looking at the kind of inequality we saw in the 19th Century.

The one bright spot, with that in mind, is Warren Buffet's astonishing announcement earlier in the week. I can only hope that is some kind of a leading indicator for what ended up happening as a result of the "robber baron" era of the late 19th. The only solace I take is that our time is not unlike the turn of the last century.

We're about due for strong, articulate leadership that can bring us back to an era of common sense progressivism. Take T.R., who would have been a Democrat in a different age, we won't like everything he (probably not she yet) will say, but if you agree that the right to life means basic healthcare for all people, not saving a zygote in a test tube; if the right to liberty is best sought by scientific analysis of the problems of our time by coming up with hypotheses based on facts and observations, where we then come to conclusions, not blind faith and superstition where you come to the table with an all-encompassing, preconceived belief that you then pick and choose whatever facts, true or not, fit that theory; and the pursuit of happiness means to stop letting the powerful consolidate their power and instead take common sense measures to level the playing field so that everyone has at least a basic opportunity to get ahead, or even stay afloat--in other words, if you want the middle class to survive, and to finish the job that the civil rights movement started, then we need someone like a T.R to present a blunt version of the aforementioned before it's too late. Consider this draft one, with more to come.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's hot as a mother up in here. Right now, at almost 8pm, it's still about 87 degrees. Tomorrow the high in Santa Clara is 96. And it's not a dry heat. Folks in No-Cal are not accustomed to this. At least there aren't that many mosquitoes.

We have the guru in development visiting work this week from the London office and offering some great insight into the operation of our products, and it's helped me make some strides in my conceptual framework about a lot of things. Well, he arrived today and we had a good four hour session. Tremendously helpful.

Other than that, an A's/Giants game happens on Sat. and we'll just try and beat the heat. Here's a nice picture of our upstairs room, including the desk where I'm typing this. Oh, and K's at the desk with aforementioned (from previous entry) cat, Boo.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Summer's setting in. The Out of the Darnkess walk for Suicide Awareness and Prevention is a little over a month away. K & I haven't been doing as many "practice" walks of late, but we'll get there. While 20 miles is no slouch, I'm not too worried about it. Legs will be sore regardless of what we do. I'm $70 shy of my $1000 goal. Wanna donate?

Margo, my mother in law, is away for a month in Australia on a Fulbright scholarship. I helped her set up a blogger page last week. Check it out.

The tech job's going okay. One of my coworkers was just promoted to Sales Engineer, and we had quite a bender in his honor at the Slow Club Thursday night. We were all hurting yesterday.....whoa....my cat just hopped up right in front of the screen. Needy little bugger, eh? Anyway, all's humming along there. I think I'd be more comfortable if I had a little more knowledge of network admin and a better conceptual grasp of group policy and third party application deployment methodologies. But whenever I get a free moment at work to study up on all of that, I get distracted and start random surfing.

Chris and his buddy John from Hudson Bell took a swing down here in the SC last night to pick up the Tascam MSR-16, and to sit down for some of my famous BBQ chicken. Well, famous to some.

The takeaway both Chris and I got from the Bye Bye Blackbirds' sessions is that the drums sound better (at least) if you first track them to analog tape and then move them over to Protools, DP or whatever digital environment you're recording/overdubbing/editing in, even if the tape is only 1/2" at 15ips. As a return favor for all of the work Chris put in (saved my ass, really), it's the least I can do. It was nice to meet John as well.

In this interim time (the next few months) I can now be forced to get the G4 and my stolen copy of DP running. I've got what I believe to be the right A/D converter, so it's now a matter of buying a flatscreen monitor, a rack mount for all the free gear I obtained, and maybe a patch bay. Wish me luck.

Speaking of the Bye Bye Blackbirds, it's finally in the hands of John Golden Mastering, so my work is almost done there. I've also rehearsed with them two times thus far with my solo material. I was slated to go again last night, but I was just too wiped after a long, hard week.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Time passes quickly these days. I've now been at my new company for three months and I still don't know fuck-all, but I'll get there. Won't you please donate to the Out of the Darkness walk for suicide awareness? It's happening on July 22-23 and then K & I head to Rochester for her brother's wedding. There will be no show to raise funds for the event, a minor disappointment but I'm just not ready to get back out onstage.

The Bye Bye Blackbirds' project is done except for mastering, which I'm shipping off to John Golden this week. I've enlisted them to be my backing band for a few songs I've had in my notebook for a while. Some originated ten, even fifteen years ago. The interesting thing about them is that they were prescient, when I began writing them, about my life as it exists today...as if I knew how I'd feel as a 36 year old. Or maybe they are merely self fulfulling prophecies. At any rate, there will be a record of these songs at some point, I just am not sure when.

Thanks to my good friend Aaron, I've acquired a bit of gear, among them a MOTU A/D converter of the era that my G4 is from. Got Digital Performer from Eli. I've been waiting on getting a flat screen monitor for that. Also, a 24 channel X4 X4 Mackie mixing console...a bit tweaky but a definite improvement over the clunky old 16 track Fostex. That Fostex I used for HWS and When Your Heartstrings Break, so it did its job. But it's time to move on. Eventually I'll get a Soundcraft or a board with better pres. All in due time. I'm not made of money. The main reason I'm not doing much in the line of music is because I have to work to pay off old debts. By this time next year we should be getting close. And then...I should hopefully be done decompressing from all that is music.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Back from London, and this is my first real weekend in two weeks. I've been awash in technical jargon for about a month now, attempting to prepare to support products with lots of differing feature options, builds, needy customers and the like. I came in with a patchy desktop software background but with an aptitude to learn quickly. I think I'm doing that, but it will take time before I'll be able to help everybody efficiently. That's how it goes. You can either hire someone who's exactly qualified, or overqualified, at that very moment and thus will more likely move on quickly, or hire someone who will grow into the job and stick around a while longer. So...I'm still in Customer/Technical Support, but I'm still learning new things. And the pay's a lot better.

The gents in the Blackbirds are getting antsy to finish mixing and the project, and I can't blame them. I've been a bit slow...but I think the end result will be worth the wait. Chris and I begin mixing as it stands now on April 8th, and should wrap up mid-month. I was floored when they presented me with a couple of Event near field monitors at the end of recording last month for my home studio. Somehow I feel unworthy. But life has intervened on more than one occasion throughout the project. First, there was a tape machine problem. Next, K & I moved to the South Bay. Next came the holidays, and then Chris went on tour. Now I've started a new day job and am getting up to speed. I know an EP shouldn't take this long normally, but on the other hand, better to do it right than rush it out there. And I never said I was an experienced pro.

On a related musical note, K & I are participating in a Walk for Suicide awareness (out of the darkness overnight) in July, and the thought is now that we may put on a benefit show in SF in a (for now) undisclosed location (til things are finalized). I've got a wishlist of acts for the musical portion, and it's likely I'll come out of retirement to play a few of my own tunes and see how they go. This will likely be some time in June. I need to wire up my Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic with the best set of pickups I can find. If I'm to go back up onstage, I don't want anything to be half-assed. I'm enlisting the Blackbirds to be "the Band" to my Dylan. Or something like that. And should the others give the ok, I'll begin the announcement process.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm off to London today in a few hours, for a week of training for my new job. I'm excited; haven't been to the UK since 8/31/01, Beulah's final tour over there. How much has changed since we were treated like royalty by the nice people in the small town of Resolven, Wales. For those who don't know the story, when Beulah was beginning to take off, we signed a licensing deal to a small label based in Oxford called Shifty Disco records, who soon brought us over to the UK to play a few clubs, mostly in Oxford, London, Manchester and so on. In 2000, one of our Oxford shows was attended by quite a large group of fans (that word would turn out to be quite an understatement) who had chartered a bus there all the way from tiny Resolven, Wales, a four hour drive. Between songs they were chanting our names like we they were singing songs at a soccer match. Later, when we went for a curry (as the English put it), some of the kids from Resolven spotted us and all poured into the Indian restaurant, and proceeded to start singing the entire Beach Boys' Pet Sounds record a cappella and then a few Beulah songs from "When Your Heartstrings Break" (better than we could, I might add). At one point one guy picked up a recipe book and started reading dramatically from it and it was really quite compelling.

Fast forward a year or so. The beginning blurb in "Coast is Never Clear" paid homage to them, and then Shifty had an idea for the "Coast" record release: Rent out the Miners Welfare hall in Resolven itself, and put on a record release party there. As we crossed into Wales, past Cardiff and started the uphill journey to Resolven, we were all struck by how beautiful the country was. It sort of reminded us of California’s redwood forests, but with 12th Century castles perched atop the hills along the horizon. When we arrived in Resolven, a town of about 2,000 people or so, it was clear that word had gotten around because everyone knew who we were. I was not surprised by this, having been born in a town of similar size in Wisconsin. For better or worse, word gets around fast. Everybody knows everybody.

We were treated very, very well from the moment we arrived. The Mayor and his wife were extremely hospitable. He told us old stories about the mines in the town, wishing they were still open and that he would “go back to work there the next day” if he could. She made us sandwiches, drinks, basically waited on us and seemed somewhat put off when we thanked her as if she wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary!

The night before the gig, we stayed in Neath after a BBC radio session in Cardiff. Things got a little rowdy and I’m surprised we didn’t get kicked out. There was a karaoke bar across the street from the hotel and the guys from Resolven band El Goodo (some of whom were singing a cappella that night back in Oxford) and a bunch of their friends came by to whoop it up. At the end of the night, we were all a little soused and the El Goodo guys started towards the mike to sing Elvis songs like “Suspicious Minds” by getting a running start and sliding across the bar room floor flat on their bellies.

The gig in Resolven was a good one, but I remember the night more for what happened afterwards. First, we went to the pub after hours. UK law stated at the time that pubs close by 11pm. Well, I don’t suppose the Home Secretary would have gotten a tip that the pub in Resolven stayed open on our behalf long past that. We figured we’d be sneaking in to have a quiet pint with a few of our closest confidantes whom we’d written back and forth with since the Oxford show. When we opened the door into the pub, it seemed like everyone in town was packed in there and they cheered like we were the home team coming back to town as League Champions. Buying our own drinks was certainly not an option. Laughing heartily while a number of different people stood up on the bar tables to tell tall tales and pay a tribute to each Beulah member, past and present, certainly was!

We had a full European tour, including a few more UK dates planned for late October, early November, but it was not to be. September 11th was less than two weeks later and, as it turned out, we would not play a show in England or Wales ever again. I’ll always remember the experience at Resolven, Wales on August 31st, 2001 as the final, triumphant personal high point from a now bygone era in the history of the world.

Anyway, I don't think I'll make the trip up to Wales this time. I'll be getting to know London a bit better. But my wife and I do plan on a trip over there in 2007, to Ireland, England and Wales. I will no doubt look up Resolven then. For now, it's cheers.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ok, I'm switching jobs. Finally. I handed in my resignation letter, keys, phone and am now taking a well needed break between the two jobs. I suppose it was kind of a jerk move to leave without giving notice, but I never forgot how the owner of the company I worked for jerked around some talented former employees. I never forgot how he treated them, so my little gesture was karma coming back at him, I suppose. Plus, he's not good at hiring new people, so there was no way he would have found my replacement within two weeks anyway. Frankly, I'd rather go fishing, which is just what I plan to do next week. Then it's on to the new job. Better pay, better work environment. Longer commute (oh well).

Friday, January 20, 2006

Well, the week has been full of ups and downs. Earlier in the week, I've come to learn that the new sales person my company hired, the sales person that's going to save the company from being wiped off the face of the earth, doesn't even know how to operate the basic functions of a cellphone, much less how to utilize the products we sell for them. And he's going to sell our products and try to restore our damaged relationship with the carriers, who are now wary of doing business with us because our CEO has the listening skills of a donkey?

But then my spirits lifted today after conducting a phone interview for a new company that pursued me after reading a resume I posted on craigslist. And though it would be a commute up to SF, thus negating any benefit of the move I made down to Santa Clara, after suffering from a crap commute to the company down here from up in Oakland for long about a year and a half. But life doesn't always work out as cleanly as you want it to.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Speaking of being underwhelmed, is it me, or are the companies doling out endorsement money for Michelle Wie just a tad, um, misguided? What has she done, exactly? She hasn't even won anything on the LPGA tour, much less made the cut for the PGA. To all you Republicans out there who point out that Government is grossly inefficient and wastes a lot of money: Have a look at the private sector, and the morons who prematurely signed endorsement deals with a 16 year old girl. In light of her desire for chocolate, I suppose someone at Hershey's will be the next to sign the dotted line.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I am underwhelmed by the hiring of the unproven Mike McCarthy. I guess time will tell. But Bates surely is as good as gone, leaving the young pups on the D with their third coaching change in a row. I suppose the Pack are too far gone at this point for it to matter next year. We'll be lucky if we're 8-8 and that's with Favre. I shudder to think what that would mean without.

So...my prediction for our first pick: A.J. Hawk. Alternate: D'Angelo Hall, whom I have not seen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This is not a resolution: But...I did ride my bike to work today. Huff, huff, drip drip. It only took about a half an hour, not a bad commute. We shall see how this goes. I think at this point the only way I'm going to get continuous exercise is if I work into my routine in this way. So long as it doesn't rain, I'll keep pedaling. Seems to have worked for Mr. Chris Palmatier, so hopefully it will for me.

The goal is to get back down to about 195 from the current chubby hubby weight of 215. Again: not a resolution, only a goal.

It's funny, since we developed a bunch of old reels of film sitting around from before or just about the time we got our digital camera...and I remember the Christmas holiday of 2002 feeling like I need to lose a few pounds, and ended up taking "power walks" for all of 2003 doing just that. But some of the pictures we developed, which were from that period, make me wonder why I felt like I was so overweight. I look thin in those pictures compared to now. I guess it's always in the eye of the beholder.

At any rate, it's not so much about the pounds than the age. I have to keep reminding myself that, maturity level aside, I'm no longer in my early 20s.

I remember Bob Mould posted something in his journal on the same subject...certainly more articulate than this. 'Round about 2002-03 as well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I forgot who I talked to about the potential replacement for Sherman, but it was a while ago. I think it was either my friend Jason's dad, or Jason himelf, quoting his dad, who seemed to think that Thompson had decided round about the beginning of this season that Jim Bates would eventually replace Sherman for the head coaching job. Sounds plausible, and certainly a better move than bringing in Wade Phillips, who's had his day in the sun. He's had four chances and has proven he is, like Norv Turner out here, a coordinator but not the leader of men. There is nothing wrong with that, and it's something I can identify with. Bates is unproven. But so long as we can land a first rate o-coordinator (Mooch? Heh.), then we'll be okay.

Looks like Childress is going to the Vikes and I'll bet Singletary ends up in Detroit. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
In another example of "Beware False Prophets," I believe there's a personal spot in hell waiting for Pat Robertson. Does anyone care what that old crank has to say anymore?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oh Dear. Wade Phillips? Nooooooooooooooo! Say it ain't so, Ted. If so, all hope is lost. His record as head coach is:

| Reg. Season | Playoffs |
| Year TM | W L T | W L |
| 1985 nor | 1 3 0 | 0 0 |
| 1993 den | 9 7 0 | 0 1 |
| 1994 den | 7 9 0 | 0 0 |
| 1998 buf | 10 6 0 | 0 1 |
| 1999 buf | 11 5 0 | 0 1 |
| 2000 buf | 8 8 0 | 0 0 |
| 2003 atl | 2 1 0 | 0 0 |
| TOTALS | 48 39 0 | 0 3 |
Gut Feelings

Even with the Abramoff situation, I don't see the GOP losing that many seats in Congress for the midterms. I have no scientific studies or facts based on the individual elections, this is just a gut feeling I have. I hope I'm wrong about this. Because it's clear to me that the Right wing of the GOP (and isn't that most of the GOP at this point?) operates under the following maxim: "Our time here will short, so let's grab what we can." But the Dems are in worse shape, since they've squandered numerous opportunities to articulate what they stand for as an alternative to these assholes to convince skeptical midwesterners, southerners and others that, as Clinton once summed: "If you want to live like the Republicans, you better vote for the Democrats."

New Years' resolution: Look forward now, not back. 2005 was about looking back. I have 30 pages of notes from my copy editor, who was gracious to take the time to give my book about my musical past an honest and candid read, so there will be some looking back until that's done. But I suppose in pursuing that project, I've already tried to move on. But the subject matter is all about looking back.

In any case, the Bye Bye Blackbirds' project has been a little slow in the finishing, mostly my fault, due to a move from Oakland to Santa Clara, slowness in unpacking, difficulties in scheduling due to the holidays, a last minute trip to pay my respects to an old friend and so on. Two vocal cleanup sessions with a few overdubs, and one session for guest musicians with Chris at 3431 should do it. Mixing will probably commence in February, with Mastering tbd. The band has been patient, which I am grateful for. I've enlisted the help of an old friend and bandmate for some keyboards, but I'll save that announcement for another time, as in, once the session's completed.

I got a gift card for Rasputin's for Christmas, which I snuck out of the office early from to go and purchase the following, all about the indie pop ('cept one):

Sufjan Stevens: Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

Discovered him from Epitonic, during my days at Captaris Medialinq, the job where I had to work from 5am to 2pm, from between the Coast tour in 2002 and the final round of Yoko tours in early 2004 (the office laid everyone off soon after). There were a couple of songs off of the (then hard to find) A Sun Came that I really enjoyed. On this one, I really enjoy the trumpet work and the vocal/string/woodwind arrangements. A more sophisticated Verlaines (of New Zealand fame), then again, of Beulah also. Except that Sufjan really doesn't rock out (not always the point).

Nina Nastasia: Dogs

Same here: discovered on Epitonic (when still current). The Blackened Air is one of my favorite records. This one is a followup and I'm still digesting. I truly believe Steve Albini's at his best when recording acoustic based music and utilizing ambient techniques to that end.

Inara George: All Rise

Saw her open for Crooked Fingers in Seattle during my trip there to track my subtle, "Where's Waldo" trumpet part for Death Cab's "Soul Meets Body." Hung out with other DCFCs (sans Walla, who was probably still at Avast! tinkering after I left) after planning on seeing Crooked Fingers by myself. First entered Jeff Byrd, who was on the road with them as their sound engineer. Jeff helped out Beulah by brokering a sale of a replacement tape machine for the one I had begun using when Miles and I started recording what ended up becoming our first record, and also mixed that record later before moving to Austin, Texas a number of years later. The seller of the machine was a band that owed Jeff's studio a bit of money, and they were desperate to raise it. The name of the band was "Freud Chicken." Then I walked to the back bar at the Crocodile and I noticed Matt, from Archers of Loaf, whom Beulah toured with in its early days, was doing bass for Crooked Fingers on this tour. Chatted with him and then Ben and Nick from DCFC handed me a beer! So much for hanging out alone. Watching Matt reminded me that he was the one who stood out in Archers, leaping all over the place, and pacing back and forth in the slower moments, wound up and ready to fly around the place like a super ball the moment the music took off. First saw Archers at the Black Cat in DC in 1994. Matt had some nice things to say about how Beulah developed after our time with them. Reminisced with Ben during Crooked Fingers' set about this and other shows from the good old days when we were putting things together. At the end of the set, they took what we thought to be the Beulah trademark of bringing fans onstage to dance a step further...they all went down in the crowd for the final encore and played acoustically among them.

The lineup of the Crooked Fingers show was solid. I especially liked Dolorean, and bought "Not Exotic," one of the best acoustic records I've heard in a long, long time. Sounds great, too. If I get my shit together, likely acoustic based, I'd like to record it at Jackpot! if I could afford it. Might just need to try and replicate the best I can. Nuff rambling. Inara George was also impressive, and this record was $5.99. A no-brainer.

M. Ward: Transistor Radio

From Pat Noel and Carlos Forster's circles. I've like what I've heard from Matt Ward for a long time, but have been too lazy to get out and buy something of his. This was also in the used section. I am notoriously stingy when it comes to buying records, often basing my decision on what I can find in the used bin. Not alone in that, certainly.

Explosions in the Sky: How Strange, Innocence

Heard "Greet Death" off of Epitonic, then the "Friday Night Lights" movie came out, and without seeing the credits, I had bet that it was Explosions in the Sky doing the music based on what I remember from hearing "Greet Death," one of my favorite instrumental rock pieces. Nice to be right once in a while. This one's their (admittedly) humble debut. Also on sale.

Iron and Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days

Beulah played a co-headlining show with them in Atlanta back in 2003. I've been wanting to get this one for a long time. Haven't listened just yet (will today). We got stupid drunk at this show because a keg was provided backstage. This is the Keg that Blazer, one of our tour techs, later snuck into the cargo van for his personal use. See, we used to offer anyone $10 a night to sleep in one of the vans to guard our gear. Blazer was found passed out in the front seat the next morning with the dashboard light on and the passenger window wide open, with the keg planted on the ground just outside of the van. I was p'oed at first and told Eli that we should tell Miles. But that would have disqualified me from the running bet that the band had on Blazer, that in such and such a city, Blazer would have a meltdown and threaten to hop on a plane and head for home, though my next "day" to win the bet was two days later in Chapel Hill. The reason? Let's just say that Miles (who was always our tour manager in addition to frontman and principal songwriter and producer) probably would have said something to coax Blazer into such a meltdown. But Eli (given the task of finding jumper cables for the Cargo van) reminded me: "We want him to flip out. We don't want him to get killed!" Blazer ended up winning the pool money as, alas, he never did "flip-out." At least, as defined by our rules of what "flipping out" actually meant. If it were up to me, the events that transpired at our show with Iron and Wine would have qualified him. I forget whose day it was in Atlanta...probably Tim Tunks, our LD. Tunks has always said that everyone in Atlanta is "fucking crazy." Iron and Wine is the antithesis of all this, by the way...quiet, subtle, subdued.

[Update-I am confusing my dates. The keg incident with Blazer was a year later. Flashbacks, I suppose]

Talk Talk: Spirit of Eden (finally!)

I've heard, from John Vanderslice, Carlos Forster and others, for a long time that this, and the follow up, Laughingtock, were records I would probably really enjoy. I only knew them for their hit song in '83. I've already listened to Spirit of Eden four times in about 12 hours' time. A classic. Shit they don't play on the radio (well, hard to format 8+ minute songs even today). But radio's irrelevant anyway.

On my trip to Wisconsin, I met up with an old mentor of mine, Jeff Jagielo. Jeff used to play in a band called Ivory Library, which took my college band in Madison, WI under their wing for a few shows and two free recordings, provided I could make the trek all the way up to tiny Plover, WI. I learned many of the tools I'd later put to use, in my own humble way, for Beulah a few years later. I rediscovered my love for the trumpet and for tinkering with recording equipment, and taking my time to make a good recording, not feeling rushed by recording in a "time is money" place. Jeff handed me some new material of his, which I've yet to give a proper listen, and the old DAT Master for the second of my old recordings, which we called "The Plymouths," from the fall and winter of 1992. I am now threatening to self-release it, but I have to decide if I really want anyone to hear my horribly juvenile "college lit major" lyrics that are just plain unintelligible. The music I still enjoy, and Jeff's a fine engineer. But before I do anything I need to track down the other songwriter, John Dannenbrink. The Plymouths taught me that maybe, just maybe, my role might be better suited to a supporting role than as the front man. Beulah would confirm that for me later. But the Plymouths were short lived. And in one of John's songs that we recorded, he had a lyric that proved to be prescient for what I was about to do...move to California. The line, in context of giving the ghost of Marilyn Monroe directions on how to get to Hollywood, says: "Go South and Take a Right, Look For Lights when you hit the Coast." I last saw John in 1995, visiting me in SF on the way to a Russian Orthodox church in Wasilla, Alaska. He had become a born again Christian and wanted to take the road less traveled.

Guess I'm still looking back. Easier said than done to follow one's resolutions, after all. I've long been past resolving to eat and drink less and exercise more. I suppose I'm an old Epicurean soul. Or maybe an adolescent one. But when I'm old, I'm guessing I'll be the portly geezer with a cane and his foot proudly propped up on a stool, showcasing the gout. I come from a German, Irish and Polish Midwestern Stock, so I'm guessing my liver will hang around a while should I continue the err of my ways.

You can rule that out

One thing we can now be certain of - any issues you may have with my communication, or just anything to do with me really - are not the resu...