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22 Sep 03
I tried to use a speech recognition program for the first time this afternoon. It was kind if neat, but still has a long ways to go. I read into the microphone a paragraph out of the customer information for some prescription drug. This is what the speech recognition program thought I said: "It it popped up in outgained in it can hit, it created and contradictory it>the top and it got caught updated.old bowl volt acct This the old information is intended to sell to the Simpson to the new news judgment vision for this is whether will hear that should not be construed indicate these two drugs say Perot router that it. So there will hear from this word using this new .....". So as I was saying, the thing needs some work (or a better microphone). I don't think the HAL 9000 computer (from the movie 2001) would have been impressed. Now to get back to other pertinent topics here. Our band (MGB) played last Saturday night for the Air Force Ball. A lot of work went into this gig, and this work paid off well. The formalities of the Ball had been planned to be short and conclude before the food was served. There was a momentary doubt as to when we would actually get to eat, but this was with the grace of not having some long speech to sit through afterwards. The general (commander of Elmendorf AFB, I believe) was apparently aware of his speech occurring before the meal and therefore kept it short and to the point. It was a good speech, which discussed the Core Values by which our military lives. Despite being a contractor now, I still keep a copy of the "Little Blue Book" on the bookshelf next to my desk at home. Once the meal was over, our band cranked up and proceeded to entertain the troops. The dance floor was almost completely filled for the first two of the three sets we played, any many hangers-on stuck around for the rest of the night. It's a decided commentary about the junk on the radio now, with all these folks still wanting to hear and dance the old rock, and funk we were playing. We did not play any C&W either. It was a good gig, in which to feel further vindicated after my probable departure from the "Old Hat Band". I still need to settle things up with Old Hat's fearless leader, who has yet to respond to my E-mail reply (not that I blame him though). More later, as this saga unfurls.
17 Sep 03
(Please pardon the bitter sarcasm I start this blog with. It does get better afterwards. This may also be a long blog.) This crazy year has maintained its form here as two more firsts have happened for me. I've never been fired by an E-mail, and I've never been fired from a band either. So to render both discrepancies, the fearless leader of Old Hat Band sent me an E-mail, basically firing me from the band. This was after better than 12 years of playing with these guys. Apparently, I'd made the mistake of getting involved in another musical project on the side (I HATE it when that happens). (Okay, I'll ditch the sarcasm at this point and proceed on into bitching.) I don't think this side project was much different than others I'd done, during my engagement with Old Hat Band. I'd brought many ideas back into Old Hat Band from the side projects as well. Somehow, in an attempt to get the most recent project to peacefully coexist with Old Hat Band and coordinate our schedules, I managed to provoke the ire of said leader. There were indeed a couple of definite schedule conflicts (call them sequences of events, due to not keeping me in the loop with Old Hat Band's schedule). So came the subject E-mail accusing me of being less than dedicated to the Old Hat Band, with walking papers served. What hurt far worse than the walking papers themselves, was having them delivered via the form of this E-mail, from the band's leader, who is also a good friend of mine. I therefore replied back by the same medium (and I don't intend to share the text of either E-mail without permission of respective author). I hope despite this crap, we can remain good friends. It may require some beers and tequilas to patch things up. (I'll end the bitching segment here and go into some more musical and other personal convictions.) I had a great time playing with Old Hat Band, and may still do so if I'm needed to fill in. But I will admit that the old C&W music, pervasive in most of Old Hat Band's repertoire is neither my forte, nor towards my better musical tastes. But I did listen to a bit of the stuff in my younger days and Old Hat Band played a number of those songs. The stuff was easy to play too (and I developed a further appreciation for a lot of it). At least Old Hat Band played bit of classic rock, which preserved my sanity. But the rock was normally followed with some terrible downer like Conway Twitty's "Nothing Cold as Ashes" song. Yuck. I'll not miss things like that, nor Merle Haggard's "Lonesome Fugitive", at least for the immediate future. It's time for me to move on and follow my better musical tastes anyway. As an apparent vindication after the E-mail firing, came an offer today to play bass for one of the better classic rock bands here in town. I really needed to hear that offer, whether I would actually accept the job or not. Since I have a viable project going with MGB already (I guess it's no longer a side project) I'll tell that classic rock band what's going on, and if they still want me on a contingency for now, I'd love to do it. It has often been said that when God closes a door, he's been known to open a window, and I thank him or her for it.
12 Sep 03
Here it is the day after the two-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. That was a day I consider as our generation's Pearl Harbor. I've stated my thoughts about 11 Sep in several places on my web page already. I was also most saddened with the news of Johnny Cash's passing away early this morning. I remember hearing his stuff when I first began listening to the radio. I have been a fan ever since. There was just something very reassuring, inspirational as well as fun in his songs through the years. I've played many of his songs in bands too. In our jam session out at Beyer's Crossing just a couple of weeks ago, I sang "Folsom Prison Blues". I may have taken liberties with the lyrics to accommodate some local references (as I did several years ago, singing with these guys), and I hope Mr. Cash, God rest his soul, would understand. If/when I do my rap version of "Boy Named Sue" again with Dan Calhoun Band, I will ask that this be dedicated in loving memory of Johnny Cash, once again with my hopes that he won't take offense to that. I also used to do an impression of a phone call from Johnny Cash to me where I get chided for this rendition of "Boy Named Sue". Of course it starts out with the voice saying "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", and then continues with "I hear you've done some straaannnge things with my Boy Named Sue song..." and so forth. Maybe it is just as well that I don't get that phone call now. I tuned in the old C&W channel (10) on the XM radio and have been listening to several Johnny Cash songs as well as tributes. I don't remember who it was who just said it, but part of this person's quote was "...the man in black is now wearing white."
7 Sep 03
Well dang, as long as the Sunday night 10 PM news is running later than 10 PM (something about a presidential address), I may as well start another blog. Friday and Saturday was this reunion in big city of Menard of ex students of the Menard educational system. Since I'm old enough to be going to reunions, I sent in my membership fee to the Menard Ex Student Association (MESA) as well as ticket money for the Saturday Bar-B-Q and dance. I ate too much at the Bar-B-Q and then sat in on bass at the dance for about four songs (the rest of the music was all C&W -yuck). The reunion went pretty well, but there was sparse representation from our classes in the late 70's (maybe our bunch isn't old enough to start attending these things yet). I only saw three people from my class of 78, but one of them was someone I hadn't seen in nearly 20 years. I think a good time was had by all for the most part. Thus went Saturday Night. Much of today (Sunday) was spent practicing with MGB, our office band, for the upcoming Air Force Ball in two weeks. We set up the whole PA system (combined my rig and one guitar player's rig) with all amps and drums into the mixer. It sounded pretty good for the most part (gotta tune the eq a bit, though). It's beginning to look like we may get away with this one. Another busy week (to include more practices) is ahead, so I think I'd better post this entry and pull the plug for the night. Later, folks. G'night
1 Sep 03
Labor day, for those of us who labor. So this is the last official or unofficial holiday weekend of the summer. My odometer flipped over to 44 years yesterday as well. This happens at the end of August despite my telling it not to do that. So the parents fed me and presented me with birthday presents. I then went on to a jamm session out at Eight Mile Crossing on the river, not far from the ranch. I'd been asked to participate in this endeavor, having played with several of these fine Menard musicians some time back, as well as at the same event a year ago. One flatbed trailer was the stage, powered by a somewhat temperamental gasoline generator. The weather was cool and overcast with occasional sprinkles of rain. I ended up running the PA system as well as attempting to play bass. Some of our musical attempts were absolutely terrible, but for some of us who'd played together some 13 to 20 years ago, the old stuff came back for a few songs, and those songs sounded pretty darn good. It was a party that could have gone well into the night (and probably did elsewhere later on) but somebody had to get into a fight and foul things up. That gave many us who had need to be elsewhere reason to go ahead and split, me inclusive. So I packed my stuff, and headed back to the ranch where the parents were waiting to feed me. It was still a good day and I'll be back with more, as this year of being 44 progresses.
24 Aug 03
It has been more than a month since I have last 'blogged' so once again, I get to catch things up. I finally archived my blogs from previous quarters, so the whole thing no longer resides on one gigantic page. I'm sure that folks with lousy bandwidth who have been trying to read these things will appreciate that. In an unrelated matter, I headed up New Mexico way with a friend a couple of weeks ago on a vacation, and got back about a week later. It was hot and dry (although not quite as hot and dry as it is here). This whole darn part of the country is in dire need of rain. After several days of Taos and Santa Fe, (not nearly enough time to check out things, for sure) we considered venturing out to see the Very Large Array (VLA). This is the multiple large dish radio telescope that resides in the western part of the state. I really wanted to see that, being an electronics person, but both of us were getting a little tired. We finally determined to leave the VLA for another excursion. On a musical note, MGB is playing for the Air Force Ball next month, so rehearsals are beginning to heat up now. We're working to do our best to 'entertain the troops'. Now for other musical ventures here. I got back in this evening from Waco, where I played a gig with Dan Calhoun Band. This was a grand opening for a tobacco store that is owned by a friend of Dan's. This store is actually on the front of a long building, the rest of which contains several mechanic shops for drag racers. The whole building is apparently the venture of said tobacco storeowner. Many of the drag racers were on show that evening. Several of those vehicles demonstrated their capabilities to burn rubber (we're smoking now), and generated billowing quantities of smoke. The deafening racket required fingers in the ears. My PA system had some trouble competing with the noise when said cars opted to demonstrate this capability. We traded sets with another band as well, (an unexpected logistical quandary for this sound man). Fortunately for us, this other band found itself competing with the dragsters more than we did. Not to be outdone, our drummer smeared power steering fluid on the rear wheels of his truck. The subsequent spin of said wheels generated nearly as impressive a display of smoke, without nearly the loss of tire. Well, it was too much for me to resist an attempt at this when we left there that night. So with a front drive wheel placed on an accumulated pile of rubber crumbs (left from the dragster tires) I managed to get a spin for a glorious foot and a half when I stomped the gas. I've had enough grief with the drive train on the car, so I wasn't interested in pursuing this further. Had I brought my truck instead, it could have been a different story (at least as far as noise is concerned). A side note about the dragsters, for those urgent to cite our gross American consumption of fossil fuel; much of the fuel used is alcohol based. Tires, consumable alcohol and related indulgences could be a different matter though.
13 Jul 03
A somewhat less than productive weekend is winding down here. I'm not drinking as much beer tonight as I did last night either! Went to Menard and noted that some kids got in the house, flung a few things about, broke two padlocked doors, and apparently made off with my cheap $33 Hondo electric guitar and a banjo. Suspect it happened over 4th of July weekend. If anybody reading this blog who has info on subject jerks, I'd appreciate any help there. The objective of the trip was still accomplished though, which was to replace busted window from recent weather, and to put new pads on the evaporative cooler (yep, that's the A/C in the place). Lawn can probably go another week before I crank Jaws up to mow it. I may ease on back down there on the sly in the meantime, 20-gauge pump on standby, and we'll let these burglars take a guess on when that may be. That's if they're stupid enough to make a return visit. XM Satellite Radio is doing a playback of every pop song ever recorded from late 30's until the millennium. This started before the 4th of july weekend, and they're up to the late 70's as I sit here typing. Wow. I'm trying to decide if this is a slow tour through heaven, or hell. Sure rekindles memories, good and bad. I've heard songs I haven't heard in 20+ years, recognized them immediately and begun singing the lyrics. I wish my short-term memory worked so well. Not sure what's going on, but the Commodore's 'Brick House' just got played twice, with Tom Petty's 'Breakdown' in between. Both are songs I play in bands, too. Well, I'm thinking of the Tennessee Williams play, 'Glass Menagerie'. This is where the lead character/narrator Tom discusses memories being associated with music. Boy is that ever the case as I listen to XM tonight. Wouldn't be a good idea to stay up listening, as I need to get to work in the morning. Better say g'night on this blog too. Later, chinks.
6 Jul 03
Well, to update matters reference the last blog, the bambi came to an actual cost of $2400 to get the car repaired (it was not a 'double thumper', more like a 'ka-whump' followed by an 'oh shit' from my passenger). Fortunately the only thing I was out was a $50 deductible and some odd fees not covered with the minimal rental vehicle. In an unrelated story, our Med Group Band (MGB if you will) got involved in some battle of the bands on the 4th this year out at the lake. We didn't even place this time. Grrrr. Almost seems if someone paid off the soundman to bungle our mix, turn off mikes needed for vocal harmonies and percussion and give us nothing meaningful to hear in the monitors. I guess this comes with the territory, but it sure was frustrating after all our work in practicing for this one. I'll admit to a few goofs on our part (who the hell suggested that I try keyboards anyway?). So that probably didn't help either. Believe it or not 'La Formula' is still playing, after 20+ years (they got 2nd place). I talked with one of their members, who remembers Kent Edwards (another fellow musician) playing drums with them. The really crazy part was the band that got 1st place, by the name of 'Fats and the Dominoes'. A fellow musician, Ricky Laura was attempting bass (he's a guitar player) with these folks. They all had wigs, sunglasses, and rather flashy attire, definitely a novelty act. It was a hit with the crowd though, which was a big part in the scoring by the judges (crowd response was one of the biggest factors in rating of the bands, according to the registration literature). Anyway, we're hoping for better luck next time. A few more practices would help as well. My last unrelated story here... I sat in for Red Scott on the Sunday morning 'early bird' edition of the Business Men's Bible Class (BMBC) Radio Show on KKSA 1260 AM. As it was the weekend of the 4th of July, I had some thoughts about the whole issue of church and state, God and country, God bless America, and so forth. My search on the net found a great sermon preached last year by some Rev. Betty Stapleford at a Unitarian Universalist church on the West Coast. Hoping this wasn't too hot for a possibly conservative BMBC radio show audience, I went with it. I once again included a selection from our choir at St Luke and then finished out with the Old Hat Band's normal end of the night 'Amazing Grace/Will the Circle be Unbroken' medley (recorded at Pete's Place in Ft McKavett). I felt like I'd lit the fuse and run after I delivered my CD to the radio station (yes, it's pre-recorded). So far, I don't think the BMBC radio committee had any emergency meetings. In fact I got a phone message from Sandy Keith, with complements on the show, and asking if it could be repeated next year on the 4th of July weekend. I even scare myself sometimes. Well, that's all I've got until the next blog. All the best meanwhile.
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