New Years Resolutions

I realize it is about a week premature, but I have settled on my New Years Resolutions for 2012, the final year of the world.

1. You already know this one if you have been following my health and nutrition blog, but in case you are not following it, I am going to try to follow a 100% Paleolithic diet to the best of my ability. The difficulty is not a matter of will, but one of feasibility and availability of relevant foods. Starvation trumps strict adherence. But to stay optimistic, I am very confident I can do it. I may allow for brown rice occasionally and I will definitely allow for legumes as a protein source given the low availability of grass fed game meat and the toxicity of agricultural meats.

2. I am going to practice and learn jazz piano. I just heard a radio piece about my all time favorite jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson. I have been trying to learn piano on and off for the last couple of years, but now I am going to fully immerse. Some of this will just be learning plain old piano, because I am a beginner. But I will make a lot of progress as a result and that will be energizing to propel me forward. I am not going to take lessons, because I tried that and it is no good. I will also listen to tons of jazz pianists that I like, such as Thelonious Monk and the guy from Medeski Martin and Wood, in addition to my idol Oscar Peterson. I feel that subconscious influence of the greats will pervade my soul and aid me. The key will be getting comfortable on the piano so it becomes second nature. Drumming should help, because there is a separation of limbs required for piano as well.

3. I am going to finally learn Welsh. I have Rosetta Stone's Welsh language program on my old beige Mac G3 and I have been learning it on and off for years too. But now I am really going to and reward myself with a trip to Wales at the end of 2012. That should be a good incentive. Welsh is such a tiny language, I think it would be cool to have a skill set no one else has.

On the piano and Welsh, I am going to commit 30 minutes minimum to each (using an egg timer) every night at least 5 times per week. That will parallel my ongoing quest to achieve five 45-minute workouts per week as I have been doing for November and December 2011 already. It will be in addition to, not instead of, my normal bass and drum practice for Jeebus Preebus, my rock-n-roll band.

Senses and Their Associated Thoughts

There is a book on the bed, a novel I am reading. It is "Blood of the Prodigal" by P. L. Gaus.

My nephew Ty is changing out of his pajamas into daytime clothes of his own choosing. He is six. School is out for Christmas break. Usually his mom - my sister - prepares his clothes for school, so it is a treat for him to be able to choose his own wardrobe for the day. He's color blind, like me, so it will be interesting to see what ensemble he eventually lands on.

He is singing a childrens song about pumpkins, with his PJ bottoms still clinging to his ankles. It's a song from the holiday musical at his school.

My sister has returned from grocery shopping. Outside it is snowing lightly; about six inches accumulated overnight, bringing morning excitement to my niece and nephew, and a walk down to the local neighborhood park for a snowball fight.

Ty has relocated to the living room and "grandpa" is helping him design paper airplanes, that he says "look like small missiles." My dad, a retired mechanical engineer, is trying to explain the fundamentals of aerodynamics in terms a six year old can understand, but Ty is more interested in firing "missiles" at his twin sister, Millie.

It's a calm snow day. The snow is the light fluffy kind, impossible for snowmen and difficult for snowballs, but it has an insulating effect, drying out sound so that it stops instantly, muting the world. The shrieks of the children playing in the snow were cut short as soon as the sound left their mouths. I wonder if music could be recorded outside after a deep, light snowfall. Would it sound boxy and constrained?

My nephew Ty is precocious, obsequious. Millie is more reserved, sensitive. Both will boldy go where the other leads. My sister always has half of her brain tuned into what the kids are doing, ever vigilant and anxious for their well being. Even when they are elsewhere, she grants her mind no peace. She does not allow herself any down time. She is always doing. Restful sleep is a rare treat. Ty and Millie have turned out well, excitable but obedient.

I am staying in the guest bedroom, which serves as a children's wardrobe and "big girl" room when family is not in town. A cheap acoustic guitar, with a broken G string, sits on a stand in the corner, next to an electric piano with weighted keys. There are not enough electrical outlets in this room, which might explain why it gets less use than other rooms in the house.

Invest in a Good Comfy Pair of Slippers for Work

There is nothing worse than uncomfortable formal footwear at work, when you are already stressed and overwhelmed.

Last Christmas, my dad got me a high end pair of LL Bean camo slippers with fleece lining and rubber soles. They were so comfortable, as well as easy on/easy off, that I started wearing them to work.

It was blissful. Other than being camo (a feature my supervisor still gives me no end of grief about), they are pretty much all purpose. The rubber soles handle all but the wettest weather. On rainy days I usually wear my boots, but then change into my comfy slippers at the office.

There is just something pacifying about wearing slippers at work. It is a real stress reliever.
For Christmas this year, my dad got me another pair, only these ones are made of beige suede and look a lot more like actual shoes than slippers. They are also fleece lined. They are not quite as easy on/easy off as the camo ones, but I think they will be once the leather breaks in.

And now my boss won't be able to give me as much grief as I crank out my work in comfy bliss.

Why the Mainstream Media is Useless

It is not hard to see how corporate cronyism in government trickles down to emasculated media.

Politicians compete for corporate donors. The media compete for access to politicians. It is logical to assume that the media who expose the seedier side of corporate cronyism in government are not going to be invited back to the press room.

Who agrees with this logic?

Quit Your Day Job? But...I Like It.

I don't want to quit my job. But I see what this guy is saying. You should spend your life doing what you love, not slaving for someone else. Someday you'll be dead. Then you'll wish you had pursued something more meaningful. Well, actually probably a short time before you are actually dead, since after death you can't really much wish or think or do anything. And if on some slim chance there is an afterlife, you won't really care if you wasted your life, because you'll have an eternity to make up for it.

But what if there isn't an afterlife?

Self employment has its perks, and I fully endorse it, having done it for a while myself. But it is hard work, so you really have to love and be passionate about what you want to do, or you simply won't have the will or energy to do it day in and day out for many hours.

For me, that is music. But my second choice is writing. I spent about a year and a half as a songwriter, and I worked hard at it. But songwriting is prohibitively competitive, even for good songwriters like me, and the people you have to deal with are the pits. There are way more songs out there than there are opportunities for songs, and everyone wants to exploit you. However, the same is not true for writing. Most people CAN'T write and new writing is always in high demand. There is as much new writing as there are new things to be written about, and in technical writing this is growing exponentially (you gotta love science).

So you don't have to quit your day job to be a writer, and you can find a pretty good full time position because you have a lot of choices. If you are good and work hard at it.

The entire time I was doing the songwriter thing, I made myself blog for 10 minutes each day, and it greatly improved my writing skill. How do I know?

You are still reading aren't you?


A Rocking Weekend

My band GUPPY EFFECT played it's last "official" show last night, Saturday 11/26/11.

It was a great show, very rocking. There were a lot of people there and they enjoyed us.

It is great to get paid money for doing something which is essentially the funnest thing in the world, playing danceable upbeat rock-n-roll for a room full of festive holiday people, which is what these people were - most of their bellies were probably still distended from the Thanksgiving feasts two days prior. We played our cult classic rock holiday song GINGERBREAD (ZOMBIE) ARMY, which was fun. Would you do me a favor and click on the song thumbnail image in the upper right of this post?

GUPPY EFFECT is now my "unofficial" band, meaning no investment in the business end of it is required and I can direct my mental energy to other endeavors. I will have to let my accountant know that 2011 is the last year that the IRS will have to deal with me and my music production business. After this year, it will become a hobby again.

We will play a handful of reunion rock shows in the future, I presume. Indeed, the venue we played at last night would really like us to book some dates in 2012. So we will probably lock in the dates and prepare a set list of material in advance, dress rehearse it a couple of times before the event, then rock the crap out of it. Also, there is talk of GUPPY EFFECT jamming a handful of tunes at my rock-n-roll birthday house party on 1/7/12.

My new rock-n-roll cover band project is JEEBUS PREEBUS. This is a fun 4-piece with a chick singer. Right now we are still developing our business plan and building song repertoire, so it is too early to start keeping track of income and expenses. The band uses an electronic drum kit and since that allows us to control the volume of the music very nicely, with no loss in performance energy, we have been hosting house parties. This is really nice because the beer is free and we can also book our own dates, without relying on what is available with the local music venues. Plus, we can play early and not have to be up till all hours. Plus, when we host the parties at guitarist AquaMunkee's house, all our music gear is already there, because that is where we practice. And we can leave it there after the show, so no hauling gear home.

I really like the house party model. We will probably have to play a few paid gigs at bars in order to fill the band fund, which will be used to buy beer and snacks (always free at the parties). Our lead singer gets the employee discount at a Madison microbrewery, so the beer is top notch. But we can choose what venues we want to play and look to get paid a decent price. None of this door gig crap for JEEBUS PREEBUS. I hope other bands emulate this model. Then maybe we can get some leverage on the charlatan music venues around here. But e-drums are kind of the key (or no drums at all) because to play at house parties, you have to keep the volume down, so the neighbors don't call the cops. We would only need to play 2 or 3 bar gigs a year to get enough funds to pay all the expenses for the house parties, including the beer and probably our gas money too. We'll have to talk this all out and come up with a budget. House party attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish or some beverages to the parties to share, and there is a $5 suggested donation too. We'll see how it goes.

I've got another project focused on original music almost exclusively. It is called UBERGROOP, and this band project has no set timeline. We are just going to write some songs and maybe record a few. If we do play gigs it will be a long way in the future, probably opening for someone or joining a bunch of other bands some night at the HIGH NOON SALOON.

Sometimes I Like to Wear a Viking Helmet Around the House

It's true. Sometimes I put on a Viking helmet and lounge about my house. You can never be too sure when a berserker frenzy may be required of you. Better safe than sorry.

I am thinking about wearing it at work sometimes when my workload is particularly challenging. Berserker frenzies are great for battle axing your way through a lot of technical documentation.

Like I always say, whatever helps you get through the day.

The 2 Minute Reader is for YOU!

This is the Blogger rendition of the famous "2 Minute Reader" blog on Wordpress.

We create the posts at Posterous, and then it gets automatically published to Wordpress and Blogger. The content is the same, so the choice is yours which medium you prefer.

The 2 Minute Reader is your quick and dirty "breakfast cereal" reading. If you have your laptop on the kitchen table and you don't want to read the Cheerios box for the 800th time, pull up the 2 Minute Reader and be marginally more entertained.

I tell you this for two reasons. 1. I love you. 2. I needed to post this post to test my Feedburner subscription feed is working.

Admittedly, this post would not be here if it was not for #2. But I really do love you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Negative Nellies

Have you ever known someone who was a Negative Nellie (aka Debbie Downer)?

I have, and it always puzzles me. Here are people who moan and complain about all the problems in their lives, and then doesn't understand why their lives are full of problems.

It almost seems like these people thrive on negativity, or at least that their negativity feeds on misfortune and grows.

I don't really believe in the power of positive thinking, rationally.

But at an emotional level, I totally do. It doesn't make any sense that your frame of mind could alter your reality, but it does seem to be the case for some people, myself included. I think it is a manifestation of vision, through action. Maybe it is rational, but just subconscious and incomprehensible at the level of everyday life.

I am a very positive person. I rarely complain and if I encounter a problem, I don't talk about it, I solve it. I am constantly envisioning positivity, and you know what? My life is really positive and good.

When I meet people who are negative, I try to flip everything they are complaining about into a positive, or offer some solutions. But they seem resistant to this, or tell me that my solutions will just cause them more problems.

Usually I give up and just smile and be as positive as I can. I am fairly immune to other people's negativity, and maybe this comes across as uncaring. But I do care. I just can't do anything for them and I am not willing to let their negativity suck my positive life force away (what some call "energy vampirism"). Only they can choose to look on the bright side and be positive. I try to lead by example, but negative people don't seem to be able to see the cause and effect between a positive attitude and positive circumstances.

Not too long ago, I was out of work. I could have been negative about this circumstance, but I wasn't. My prior employer was terrible and my boss sucked (total energy vampire). I had some savings I could live off for a while. I turned my low income status into an opportunity. I applied for low income energy assistance and the utility company (via a government program) replaced my furnace and hot water heater for free.

That seems like the clearest example I can think of as my positivity manifesting positive circumstances. But this happens to me all the time.

I have been envisioning a new rock-n-roll band concept that I want to do for a long time, and little by little it has been coming together. Now, I have a great band very close to the vision for it that I had.

When I see a girl I like, I envision being with her, and more often than not, this comes to pass.

Good things happen to positive people. I can't explain why, but my observations suggest it is true.

Also, daily exercise is great for mood and positivity. So if you are looking to improve your moods, start there. Please don't start by complaining to me. I really cannot help you. Only you can help you. I have given you the tools.

Mediocre vs. Awesome

There are 2 kinds of people (actually, 3 kinds, but let's discount the total losers for purposes of this discussion).

The first kind of people are the mediocre. Having lost the will to live, they settle for lame and put in the bare minimum to get by. The fire of life for these people has been peed on, and they passively accept their lot in life, devoid of passion.

The second kind of people are the awesome. They don't let the world get them down and they don't let anyone tell them they can't succeed. They go above and beyond the call of duty for personal satisfaction, even when there may not be any additional material rewards for doing so and they resist and shun conformity to society's (very mediocre) conventions. The fire of life is a bonfire for awesome people and it is fueled by a never ending zeal and passion.

Society, by definition, is mediocre...the averaging of all the individuals who make it up (remember, we are discounting the losers here, who push the average ever downward). So, society frowns on awesomeness. Awesome people make everyone else, and the society in general, look bad. Even the famous people are mediocre when compared with society's truly awesome individuals, many of whom are quietly working behind the scenes.

Step 2 - DMV Pass

The DMV passed the test to renew my DL within 30 minutes or less, notwithstanding the initial fail when the first DMV office I stopped at was closed. I did not include transportation time in this calculation.

My new DL was handed to me 29 minutes after I officially began the test.

The WI DMV passed their test and will be granted a license to operate in the forum of public opinion.

I can now also vote in the Walker recall election in the spring, without issue. So shove you Jim Crow laws up your arse WI Republicans!

Step 1 - Fail

So I went to the nearest DMV office to work, where they only renew licenses (no testing), because that is all I need to do.

Closed on Mondays and doesn't open until 10 AM other days. I was there at 9:45, so a double whammy since it was Monday too. We will call that 2 FAILS.

Next, I proceeded to the State Office Building DMV office, a main branch. I am there now. I was expeditiously processed to get my license photo taken and my number shall be called shortly.

We'll see what happens next. Thus far, 20 minutes of the maximum allowed 30 have transpired.

WI Drivers License Renewal

Today, I am going to attempt to get my WI drivers license renewed.

By way of educating you about the process and how easy or hard it is, I am going to blog about it here.

Stay tuned.

Basically, this is just a simple license renewal. No special circumstances. A reasonable person might expect it to take 30 minutes tops, start to finish.

We shall see.

Phone Hacking Hilarity

My buddy Brian got his Android phone hacked (he has since turned on his security settings).

The hacker then tried to gmail chat with my other buddy Sparx, who figured out it was a hacker pretty fast.

What he said to the hacker was hilarious, and here it is...see also

7:52 PM Brian: Hey
are you there ?
7:55 PM sparx: yes. hi!
Brian: am not too good
sparx: no? what's up?
7:56 PM Brian: I'm stranded in Manila Philippines with my family
got mugged at gun point last night
7:57 PM sparx: manila? i thought you just left for puerto rico last night
Brian: No
I was hit on the head but getting better
all cash,credit card and phone was stolen
7:58 PM sparx: did they take your wheelchair? can you still move around?
7:59 PM Brian: thank God we still have our life and passport safe
8:00 PM sparx: your wheelchair though, do you still have it? do you still have the meth you smuggled in your wheelchair's frame?
Brian: our return flight leaves in few hours but having troubles sorting out the hotel bills
i need your help
sparx: if you lost my meth i'll fucking kill you
Brian: yes i need your help
8:02 PM sparx: there's still an hour until the swap. there will be $80,000 in the breifcase. take out what you need to get back, i'll consider it a loan
8:03 PM *briefcase. sorry, can't spell.. got pretty pissed when i thought you lost the product
8:04 PM still there?

That kicks ass.


No one questions the quality or quantity of my work. I do a good job and I crank stuff out with an eye for quality. Get it right the first time and you will save yourself a lot of grief later. This translates into time saved...time that can be used to write blog posts like this one.

Now, some people take the opposite approach. They think it is better to look busy and produce a large quantity of output, without concern for quality. Maybe they view it as job security or something. By not doing a quality job up front, they guarantee themselves a lot more work (and stress and headaches) in the future.

What kind of person are you?

Corporate Overlords

Why is corporate management so stupid?

It seems like common sense that a company would want happy, content, and minimally stressed employees, outside of the sadness, discontent, and stress of the actual job itself.

These would be things like maximizing amenities and minimizing useless busy work.

My company was recently bought out. Prior to the merger, employees were expected and encouraged to do quallity, useful work. How much time it took was not as important as achieving maximum QUALITY. Quality work was recognized and rewarded.

There were not very many rules and regulations beyond producing quality work. The work environment was relaxed so employees could focus on WORKING and TEAMWORK without stressing over things like dress code and how many hours they put in and clerical busy work.

This created an environment of trust in management and high company morale. Employees felt like they were appreciated and they were motivated to do their work and focus on the task at hand. There was accountability only to your team, your peers, who were counted as equals. That was powerfully motivating, because you didn't want to let down your team.

The new management has destroyed and shattered that. Their company philosophy is essentially "look busy at all times" regardless of quality and demands of workload. As a result, morale is low and employees are nervous/stressed all the time. You feel like you can't take a breather to relax and collect your thoughts. You feel like you are being watched and QUALITY is no longer about the work you produce, but rather how you present yourself and what font you use for e-mails.

Of course, you know me. I civilly disobey. I don't succumb to fear and I am calling corporate management's bluff. I wear jeans when I want to and I don't do useless and unnecessary busy work. If I finish a task and have time left over, I organize my remaining workflow and prioritize what I will work on next. Once I do that, if I still have some time left over, I might go to the in house gym, which they haven't taken from us yet (but I could see them restricting available times that the gym is open and other such nonsense). Exercise helps me relax and gives me an energy boost to be more productive.

I don't want to be a thorn in management's side, but the ball is in their court. They can chill out and relax and all will be well. They should probably lay off some managers, because if they are doing unnecessary work to look busy, then they are draining resources.

They probably won't though. Corporate management is hard to cull once it is established. This is how busy work gets encouraged. Look busy enough and people will assume you are important even though you are just a productivity destroying leech on the system.

New Band Kickoff Tonight (and What You Can Do About It)

I heard on the radio today that adding the keyword phrase "what you can do about it" to a title or description is an old school search optimization tool. So I might start adding that to all my blog titles now, just to piss off search optimizers everywhere.

I suppose that will piss you off a little too. And me. So I imagine I won't keep it up for long, but we'll see.

What I have been keeping up on is my fitness challenge to do five 45-minute light to moderate workouts per week, for two months (Nov-Dec). I am going to start 5/5 for this week in about 20 minutes.

At 6 pm tonight, I am hosting the first band meeting and jam for a possible new band I want to start to replace my old band GUPPY EFFECT. It has drummer Peter from GUPPY EFFECT (and myself, obviously). It also has a former GUPPY EFFECT guitarist named Kyle and a lead singer buddy named Branden.

This band will be totally different from GUPPY EFFECT. I am hoping it will emphasize original music and play covers only if they are severely mutated from their traditional format. Most of all, it should rock.

Tonight we will brainstorm over pizza and then jam a few tunes we all sort of kind of know. Should be fun.

New Band on the Scene


There is a new band on the scene.

Or perhaps there is a new scene altogether. I don't know.

Why is it called "a scene?"

That sounds like a scene in a movie.

I think what it means conventially is a public space where you can "see and be seen." But obviously that is spelled differently.

I think it must be some esoteric reference to a movie scene. If you are hip to the scene it means you have more than a background bit or cameo role.

You are a major supporting actor or maybe even a main character.

If you are "on the scene," then you are cool. If not, you are nobody.

What are your thoughts on that? Comment below.

Anyway, this new band is on the scene and if you don't want them in your scene, they will create their own scene to see and be seen.

What do you think?

Disenfranchise Rush Hour Traffic

I usually don"t let rush hour traffic into my life. The same goes for reckless and aggressive drivers, whom I quickly dispatch by various methods.

Humans are nothing if not vigorously conformist, a byproduct of our evolution as cooperative social animals. We tend to respond to social cues and do as others do. But we are also remarkably intelligent and able to use reason to break with convention.

We need more of this. I typically go in to work late and stay late to avoid rush hour, since my job is not sensitive to time of day. What are some ways you can disenfranchise rush hour in your life? I would love to hear some creative ways.


Did you ever have a close friend who needed help?

But they wouldn't let you help them?

But you had a sinking feeling no one else was helping them either?

How did it make you feel?

What did you do?

Marketing Fear

You can sell people BS if you are good at marketing it.

There is no question that the most successful businesses are successful because of good marketing. There are almost no good or essential products in the world, other than maybe food. But companies continue to sell things and people continue to buy them (a case in point, people avoid the healthy foods in favor of the well-marketed crappy junk foods).

It is no coincidence that the Republican Party is controlled by wealthy corporations. These corporations got wealthy because they were good at marketing their mediocre products, making consumers think they needed these products for a better life.

This is exactly the way Republicans market their BS. You need Republicans or the enemy (gays, liberals, Mexicans, Muslims, name your bogey man) will take over. Scary.

Marketing is about anxiety (fear). It is the art of instilling in you the idea that if you don't buy something, you will be harmed, or at least at a serious disadvantage. If you don't vote for Republicans, you will let liberals destroy American values. Sound familiar?

It does not work on a rational level, which is why many people say advertising and marketing messages don't work on them. It's a visceral, subconscious effect. If it was rational, you could think your way out of it.

Don't believe Republicans. Heck, don't believe any politicians. In fact, turn off your TV, because the mainstream media is corporate controlled, and thus biased. They are marketing BS. I used to work for a vitamin company that sold crap in bottles. Their marketing was diabolically good, and people bought the stuff. But that did not make the product any better.

Advertisers know that it is not the value of the product that changes, it is the value of the marketing.

Republicans are very good at marketing. And it is no wonder most of them are successful business people, albeit total charlatans. Their product hasn't changed. Free market economics is a horribly inefficient way to run the world. They know this. But they don't sell you on the product. They sell you on anxiety, that the alternative is worse.

Don't believe it. Overcome fear, and think. Be a skeptic, just like you are with consumer products. Macaroni and cheese tastes great, but it is not a part of a balanced diet, and it is nutritionally devitalized. Vegetables are healthy, but they are marketed poorly (no money in it). What laundry detergent best cleans your clothes? Probably any of them. Soap is soap is soap.

Also, organic sugar is no different chemically than regular sugar. And evaporated cane juice is just sugar. Republicans use clever terms to mislead you into thinking BS is not BS.

You know this stuff. Now go do the right thing.

Facebook's "Unsubscribe" Feature

I really like Facebook's "unsubscribe" feature. You can unsubscribe from a friend's posts and still keep them as a friend.

I have a few right wing nutbar friends on FB, and I have to say the new found quietude from their idiotic and asinine posts is BREATHTAKING.

Just thought I would share that, in case you have some otherwise decent friends who are just plain annoying on Facebook.

Here's a quarter, buy a clue: Post interesting things on FB or you will be "unsubscribed."

That said, I am sure lots of people have unsubscibed me already, probably most of my right wing nutbar friends, now that I think about it.

Easy Exercise

Today I went for a 3 mile (+/- 0.1 mile) run over lunch. It wasn't too bad. I started from the building I work at and followed an easy route. The weather was beautiful. Hard to believe it is late October.

Anyway, my lifestyle challenge for the months of November and December is to work out moderately for 45 minutes at least 5 days per week with no dietary restrictions and see where that gets me. It is the holidays and I like to eat, so this will be a timely experiment.

The idea with this challenge is to do easy workouts. Nothing too hard or exhausting. It is to (hopefully) show that you can get benefits from easy workouts, if done often enough. The main barriers are resources and time.

I have a bike on a trainer at home. There is also a small gym at work, with a locker room and shower. So there is no obstacle with resources, for me, though there might be for other people. I can take an hour for lunch usually and the start time is flexible, so there is no time constraint to get in 45 minutes and still have time to shower and change.

The rules are simple. I have to do a minimum of 45 minutes of activity that causes me to break a sweat and (when measurable) gets my pulse over 120. Nothing super difficult. For people more out of shape than me, it should be easy to achieve the sweaty state with nominal effort.

If I do a 90 minute workout on the weekends, I can reduce my weekday workouts to 3. I am free to go over 5 workouts a week. But this is the minimum.

At home, I typically watch Netflix on my laptop while exercise biking. I do this most nights anyway (Mad Men Season 1). So why not watch while doing an easy workout. At work I read a book while on the bike or elliptical.

Join me in my fitness challenge?

Get periodic updates on my progress by subscribing to

Crazy Drivers

I don't dig maniac drivers.

This morning I had to flash the universal sign for "loser" at some idiot driving a white Honda.

It was weaving in and out of traffic, and swerved right in front of me to pass the car just ahead of me and one lane over. Luckily, I saw the speedster zooming up on my right in the side view mirrow and braked a little to create a big enough gap for it to squeeze through, or else it might have clipped me.

That is when I flashed the ASL letter L and then watched as it rode the bumpers of the many rush hour cars ahead of me.

I got some mild satisfaction when a large construction truck pulled in front of the Honda and slowed it down. Purposeful or not, the driver must have been infuriated.

Why do people have to drive like such morons? Are they in that big of a hurry to get to work? Why do they hate on everybody?

A Case of the Mondays

It's Tuesday, and a great day. Yesterday wasn't so great. I had the Mondays really bad. But it passed, as did Monday itself.

In part, I think my Monday angst had to do with it being my long day. A full day of work is followed by my vocal lesson and then a 2 hour mixing and mastering class that is supposed to end at 9 pm, but usually goes over because the teacher is cool.

In addition, yesterday followed a really long weekend of rocking. Even though Sunday was a relatively free day, I had to do my mixing class homework. I did get a decently early night though.

Did you read all of that? Why are you so intrigued and fascinated with my life?

Getting to Work Early Doesn't Pay

Today I decided to go into work early and get a head start on the week. But there is no benefit to doing this, I have determined.

Life is Entertaining

Some people think I am not very bright.

In reality, I like to let some people think I am not very bright because it entertains me to watch them try to pull the wool over my eyes.

The irony.


Reality will always teach you a lesson, especially when you ignore it for too long, willfully or otherwise.

There's Rocking To Do

I started a new band. It is called Jeebus Preebus and it is somewhat theatrical in a burlesque show sort of way. Check it out at

It is a 4 piece, possibly going on 5. Alter egos come out when this band gets together. One aspect of our band vision is to rotate the instruments we play. I even get to play drums on one song so far.

You can check out our current set list at the web link above. But here it is again.

One Thing Annoys Me About American Health Care

This morning, I had a doctor's appointment. They had a sign telling patients to ask about flu shots. So I asked how much they were. The receptionist didn't know.

In what other business does the sales person not know how much the product costs, even if they have to look it up (which this receptionist didn't even attempt to do)?

It's because our private health insurance industry let's people abdicate personal responsibility for their health care costs. The health care provider has no disincentive to charge the insurance for endless treatments, procedures, and services.

But I am going to get a flu shot just to compare my doctor's fees with Walgreens' (who know their flu shot price, incidentally). I am also avoiding Walgreens because my parents had a horrible flu shot experience there. My mom passed out for 15 minutes and my dad got a horrible rash. I would rather get my shot from someone who at least has the outward appearance of being a trained health professional.

Dave Obey on Ayn Rand

VID_20110917_112542.3gp Watch on Posterous

Dave Obey gives Ayn Rand what for @ Fighting Bob Fest.

Union Thugs @ Fighting Bob Fest?


I have seen tons of smug-producing Prius's @ Fighting Bob Fest but so far not a single Union Thug has shown itself.

Elusive are those rare birds...

My Gun - by the Raging Grannies

VID_20110917_105454.3gp Watch on Posterous

The Raging Grannies sing "My Gun" to the tune of "My Girl."

Liberal Concentration Alert

My proggy sense is tingling.

The Raging Grannies

VID_20110917_104827.3gp Watch on Posterous

Don't mess with granma.

Fighting Bob Fest 2011

I am on my way to my first Fighting Bob (LaFollette) Fest in Madison WI. To the extent it is possible, I will be blogging about it here. You can follow along on FB or Posterous or Blogger or Wordpress, if you are at all interested in my vantage point of the thing.

Most years, the fest is held in Baraboo WI, but I think because of the anti-Scott Walker protests in Madison this spring, they are honoring the Capitol city.

I am glad the FBI is investigating a top Walker aid for using taxpayer dollars to campaign for Walker. I hope they are following some good leads that expose how crooked we all know Walker is.

Actually, I think Walker is just dumb, and thus easily manipulated by Republican stakeholders who want to undermine America (traiterous terrorists). Let's face it, he was a lowly county executive who became governor by riding the wave of voter dissatisfaction with spineless Democrats.

I think politicians should compromise, but if one side refuses to (Republican'ts), the other side (Democraps) should not simply capitulate in the interests of getting something done. Gridlock can be a good thing, if you can show who is responsible for it through unwillingness to compromise. If you capitulate, you not only appear spineless but you cause bad policies to be implemented that only further alienate progressive voters.

Fighting Bob Fest is supposedly about "taking the gloves off," so I will be examining it with a critical eye to that end. You know I have high progressive standards, and the FBF may not satisfy them, but if they come close I may let it slide.

Because I can. This is my blog and I'll post what I wanna. If you don't like it (and I know you do), then why are you still here? (Answer below.)

My Brain is Working Again

This morning, my brain was working so poorly that I briefly worried, in all sincerity, that I had acquired a Naegleria infection. This corresponded with a headache last night and may be due to allergies.

At work, I drank a bunch of caffeinated tea to restore brain function and raise my core temperature, which was quite low due to the chilly fall temperatures we have been having.

If I wrote a book, would you buy and read it? I mean, assuming I write it with full brain function. It is going to be about aliens who disguise themselves as a human band and take over the world by using commercial pop music and autotune to pacify the human race. Political overtones intended.


Over the weekend there was a supernova. I think that is one word. It was a star some 21 million light years away, just off the handle of the Big Dipper.

That's cool.


I read a good blog post today. I don't recall the exact title and I don't have a link right now. I might add one later. But if you google "a brief guide to sucking," you will probably find it.

What I liked about it was that it took a different angle than most posts about mediocrity. It was not about why people suck. Rather, it was about why YOU suck and what you can do about it.

Eating @ HuHot Mongolian Grill


Today was Friday. That's the day of the week some coworkers and I usually eat at HuHot Mongolian Grill in Madison WI. Today was one of those Fridays.

One of the cooks put the smooth on one of my coworkers, who also happens to be the coworker at whose birthday GUPPY EFFECT ( will be rocking on Saturday September 24.

I had 2 heaping plates of HH like the one shown here. I never feel bad about gorging at HH because I get all vegetables and avoid the high calorie sauces. I don't even get noodles. Often I add some chicken and/or tofu for protein. Today, I did add a little pineapple and mandarin orange slices to sweeten it up a bit. I don't think a little fruit is bad. It does have some natural sugar, but it is healthy because it's fruit.

My new lifestyle paradigm is a moderation diet of smaller portions, with the exception of enormous amounts of HH about once per week or less. I tried the Tim Ferriss 4HB diet but I only lost about half the weight I wanted to, then plateaued. This way I can eat what I want when I want. Just less in total calories. Basically weight watchers style I guess.

More Eco Footprint Shrinkage

This morning, a furnace repair man came to my house. He was a little bit ornery, but he tuned up my furnace and installed a new programmable thermostat for me, and all of the work was free of charge, thanks to the Wisconsin Weatherization Program (one of the few cool things Scott Walker hasn't nuked yet). He even went out and bought me a bunch of new furnace filters on the government's tab. So I could overlook his slight orneriness for that.

Now I'll be sending less money each month to charlatan power companies and middle eastern terrorists. That's a win win.

Maximizing Savings While Minimizing Eco-Footprint

Yesterday, I noticed the check engine light of my Prius came on for the first time in its ~134,000 miles of reliable service to my travel whimsy.

This is not to say my 2001 Prius hasn't had some issues. I successfully navigated my way through a hybrid battery issue and associated Toyota dealership charlatanry last year, saving myself nearly $2,200 on unnecessary repairs (long story short, the dealership wanted to replace my entire hybrid battery because the computer was throwing a couple of error codes on the hybrid battery system, but when I simply Googled said codes, I found out it was nothing more than a bad sensor wire. Never trust dealerships!). But in general, the car is pretty reliable and has never once left me stranded by the side of the road. Note: One other thing about hybrids is that because of the regenerative braking system, they will wear out tires faster. Hint: Always get tires with a mileage warranty for hybrids, so you can save a few bucks.

I am planning to get an oil change on Friday, as which time I will ask my favored, non-dealership-affiliated local mechanic Terry to run the computer codes on the check engine light (which he does for FREE, vs. the $60-$100 fee charged by various area dealerships).

Whatever is perturbing the computerized nerve center of my humble little car, it does not seem to be hurting my gas mileage. In fact, the last few days it has been improved. Since my last re-fuel (I can't remember when it was...gotta love hybrids), I have been getting 52.2 MPG on average. I usually get somewhere between 46-50 MPG depending on driving conditions and weather (in the winter, running heat eats a little more gas. And if I throw my bike rack on the back, the wind resistance reduces my car to basically the Toyota Corolla it was framed on, at about ~35 MPG.).

Commuting to work is by far the bulk of my mileage during the week, accounting for about 335 miles if I work 5 days in a week. This should go down once my boss gets us all dockable laptops that we can take home and use to telecommute sometimes, but that's another ecological footprint-shrinking variable that is beyond the scope of this post.

I also carpool with a coworker about 4 out of 5 days each week. Assuming ~50 MPG with my Prius, since we alternate driving days, I am averaging 100 MPG on the 4 days that we carpool and 50 MPG on the day we don't. Taking an average then - ([4x100] + [50])/5 = 90 - I am getting about 90 MPG for my commute.

Actually, that's incorrect math, if you think about it. In actuality, I am effectively driving to work 3 days a week and averaging 100 MPG on 2 of those days and 50 MPG on one of those days - ([2x100] + [50])/3 = ~83 MPG.

Another way to look at it is that I am traveling 335 miles to work each week, but only putting 201 miles on my odometer. 335/201 = 1.67 miles per mile. I know that sounds weird, but basically it's a correction factor and thus it has to be unitless (miles cancel miles). So taking my car's 50 MPG x 1.67 = ~83 MPG.

This validates the fact that the second calculation above is correct.

Point being, being GREEN can be economically viable.

But it all starts with YOU. You have to be proactive. No one is going to save the world for you. Only you can do that by acting on your local environment.

A Breakfast Burger for Lunch


Today we went out for a team lunch at work to celebrate the quasi-promotions of a couple of my co-workers. Since I am pursuing the 4 Hour Body lifestyle change diet, as part of a wager with my mom to lose 25 pounds by Labor Day (next Monday...good heavens!), I can't eat much high glycemic food. But I can eat protein and vegetables.

So I ordered a breakfast burger with no bun and a side of asparagus. The burger had an egg and bacon on it. It was tasty, and totally on my diet.

That said, I am trying to eat more vegetarian food and stay away from commercial eggs grown in factory farms, which the egg on this burger probably was. A guy at work has access to some local free range eggs that I get a dozen of every week for $2.

When I go out to eat, my options are limited. This diet allows pure protein and most veggies. So the breakfast burger seemed like a good choice.

Of course, every time I eat meat, my ecological footprint swells to about 10 times its size.

That I do not like. But it was a yummie burger.

The Gutsy Tumblers at Waterhouse

I am at the Waterhouse Cafe in Lake Mills WI, eating, drinking, and chilling to the mellow sounds of my friends' band, the Gutsy Tumblers.

The battery on this thing is about to die, so if you aren't reading it right now, that is probably what happened.

You Are the Problem

Are you one of those people who blames the government and other people for all the world's problems?

I have news for you.


Change starts with you. You can't change other people. You can't change the government. You can't change the world.

But you can change yourself and your part of the world. Don't worry if no one else joins you. Just remind them that THEY are the problem.

If you are driving a gas guzzling SUV all over the place, buying your food and goods from all parts of the globe, patronizing and investing in charlatan businesses that profit at the expense of the earth and people, not voting, etc...then you really are the problem, and you have no right to blame anyone else.

Figure that out and then you can focus on changing yourself and your small piece of the universe.

You need to use reason and educate yourself to make the right choices.

Do that and you can change the world.

But do me a favor, quit blaming everyone else for the world's problems.

Change yourself. That's where it begins.

Home Refinancing

This morning, I will hopefully refinance my house to a low low rate of 4.125%. Maybe lower if they will let me buy down the rate, but that seems unlikely when they are already about as low as they can go.

Right now I am at 5.25% and thanks to my idiot township raising property taxes and all my neighbors fraudulently claiming hail damage to get their roofs redone at insurance company expense, the lower rate should just about cancel my ever increasing escrow costs.

Wish me luck.

An Apiaric Moment

Heading out for a walk at lunch today, we saw this butterfly taking a water break at work.

We don't know how it made it through all the security doors, air locks, and decontamination chambers.

However, it was unphased by our gawking.

A Fun Trip to Colorado

I am at the Denver airport waiting to go home to Wisconsin after a fun long weekend visiting my sister, niece, and nephew in Manitou Springs CO, a suburb of Colorado Springs.

My sis Kate's relatively new house is in the foothils of the mountains that lead up to Pike's Peak. And when I say foothills, I am talking soles of the feet. But it is far enough out of the human cesspool of CS that it feels rustic. Her subdivision is on a hillside accessible by only one steep road, and that makes it seem relatively secure from the freaks that live down in the city, mainly Focus on the Family religious extremists and those driven mad by a failure to conform to their draconian interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. But I shouldn't stereotype. There are a lot of good people in Colorado Springs, and Colorado College, where sissie works, has a world famous hockey team. So there you go.

Perhaps because of its isolation, Kate's neighborhood has a high per capita lesbian population. That's gratifying. As you might guess, lesbians aren't too safe in FOTF territory, even though the Bible doesn't expressly forbid girl on girl loving, only guy on guy and sodomy (difficult, but not impossible for lesbians, with the correct assortment of autoerotic devices, I am told...). But I digress.

Colorado is awesome. It is incredibly dry and as a result of the elevation and thin atmosphere, it can be really scorching hot in the sun, but quite chilly in the shade.

Weather is also wonderfully dynamic on the front range of the Rockies. Driving my rental car back to Denver this afternoon, an insane torrential rain storm whipped down off the moutains and across I25. Being from WI, it was not much of an issue for me, but Colorado drivers, used to mostly dry conditions most of the year (even snow sublimates in winter, rather than melting, due to solar radiation), are reduced to white-knuckled, frightened babies behind the wheels of their cars. Snow? No problem. Rain? Armageddon.

I rented a car to go to and from Manitou Springs from Denver. But I didn't drive it at all while I was there. Next time, I will see about maybe flying into CS directly or taking the shuttlebus from Denver. The bus is $100 round trip vs. the $171 I paid for the car. A flight into CS of $409 would have been a wash on flight to Denver plus car. I expect I could find a flight for $409 or less and avoid the 90 minute drive and traffic around Denver. I also spent about $25 or so dollars on gas, so really a $434 flight into CS would be a break even.

I also don't like rental carplaces. They seem like charlatans and hire illegal immigrants. I liked the guy from Liberia who met me when I returned the car, but the girl from an uncertain central American nation who took my money and the angry Somalian who opened the exit gate, I could have done without. I also think the driver of the shuttle bus back to the airport might have been nipping the bottle, although the alcohol breath could have been coming from one of the nearby passengers on the bus. Neither option is comforting, but I will give the driver the benefit of the doubt in this case.

Anyway, a fun and relaxing trip.

Air Travel Isn't What it Used to Be

When I travel by air these days, I don't even bother booking a connecting flight with anything less than a 3 hour layover because you know that the delays can easily approach this kind of time suck.

Case in point, my flight from Milwaukee to Omaha today. It was supposed to leave at 2 PM. It is now 3:30 and I am still in Milwaukee, thankfully now back in the terminal after over an hour sitting motionless on the tarmac.

The issue in this case was a huge band of thunderstorms to the west, blocking the flight paths for Milwaukee and Chicago. Apparently, Chicago air traffic trumps all, because many Chicago flights were routed to Milwaukee, to the TSOL of the rest of us.

I know bad weather is more common now because of global climate change. But I never in my life remember it sucking this bad. Can't planes fly OVER clouds? I would like to swear off flying forever.

The TSA Sucks - Please Comment

I don't mind airport security, honestly.

But the TSA sucks. They are unhelpful, surly, invasive, and generally a bunch of sorry sad sacks. At least, this is the case at Milwaukee International Airport.

Now, I know this is because they are underpaid and have to spend hours exploring the sickly and disgusting humanity that is our modern world, inside and out. I don't envy their pathetic lot.

I mean, what kind of karmic screw up do you have to commit in a prior life to end up as a TSA agent in this one?

I don't know. But I think the TSA should go on strike and demand better wages, as well as the decommissioning of these retarded x-ray machines. They are protecting the slovenly pale obese underbelly of the overfed, undernourished American populace, that is barely worthy of salvation from the almost non-existent threat of terrorism.

They should get paid A LOT for that, and get free air fare and 8 weeks of vacation to futily try and cleanse their thoughts of the disgusting passengers they have to scan day in and day out.

Please comment.

I Am Brain Numb Tired, But Still Going

I haven't had a day with so little sleep the night before in a long while. That probably doesn't make any grammatical sense because I am brain numbingly sleep deprived.

I'm not exhausted though. In fact, right now I am at the Sprecher's brewpub in Middleton WI listening to music colleague Paul Stiegler perform a solo acoustic show on guitar.

I am however so brain dead that I have done away with all social conventions. Not really knowing enough people in Maddy to get to go out and socialize after work on a school night and not willing to miss seeing Paul on account of that and not wanting or needing or even allowed to consume brewpub food and drink, due to my lifestyle change wager with my mom, I just grabbed a chair and sat by myself near the stage. Quite nice and F all the lemming conformist conventional people at their tables with their social cliques. But I digress.

Why the fatigue you ask?

Last night after work, I drove down to Savanna IL. It was a 2.5 hour drive to visit Caitlin and her family. She flew off to Augusta GA today for a 2 year degree program in Medical Illustration and I wanted to see her off.

Unfortunately, said seeing off was at 5 AM in Rockford IL. So I was up at 3 AM after going to bed not before 11 PM.

However, I did win big at Rummy, going out first about 6 consecutive times and impressing/annoying Caitlin's family.

It Was a Decent Week

My work was cut out for me at work this week. So that was nice. Nothing particularly hard, just time sensitive and focused.

I Am Still Recovering From the Weekend

My weekend rocked. Hard.

I spent Saturday morning at the Lake Mills Arts Festival, helping my friend Caitlin who was showing at it. I was up at 6 am and it was non-stop action from about 7 am to 1 pm. I will give details at, but this is the 2 Minute Reader.

After lunch, Stefan and I cruised down to Delavan WI to rock RocknRoll Fest, organized by our drummer, Peter.

We played 3rd after Sunspot and a School of Rock band of preteens that really wailed. Then a bunch of us walked down to another rocking party at St. Andrews Catholic Church. Catholics sure can drink.

Driving home, Stefan and I swung by MarioPalooza in Fort Atkinson, hosted by our good friend, Mario Rodriguez, and caught a band called Sexy Esther.

Long day, and I slept in until 10 am on Sunday before Stefan and I cruised down to Lake Geneva WI to perform at Laura Stone's Music Show. They loved us.

I got a short power nap in after, then briefly went swimming with Caitlin. We ate dinner and I got to bed around midnight. I slept like a baby but I am still really tired today.


Check out RocknRoll Fest on 7/16 and People Fest 8/11 thru 8/13.

Guppy Effect ( will be performing RocknRoll Fest, probably around 5:30 pm, surrounded by 3 other awesome bands and a bunch of music fans at the Phoenix Park Bandshell in Delavan WI. Don't confuse this excellent display of local rocknroll talent with the larger, more popular, and much lamer Rock Fest in Cadott, WI. At the latter fest you will fight traffic, have to walk for miles, deal with asshole venue officials, and probably get in a fist fight. But it's milk and honey at RocknRoll Fest.

Guppy Effect isn't playing at People Fest, sadly, but Cactus Joe (Hey, that's me!) might cameo on a song or two with People Bros Band if they will let him (

So if you like or even love music, forget the rest and join the fests.

Sent from my Samsung Transform™

Holiday Weekend

You can catch the greates rock-n-roll band ever, GUPPY EFFECT, twice this weekend.

Saturday 7/2/11 at Carps Landing in Lake Mills WI @ 9 PM and Sunday 7/3/11 at Crivestivus Crivestival in Crivitz WI at 3 PM.

I have a 4-day weekend. Do you?

My employer is giving us Tuesday 7/5 off, by popular demand.

They asked employees if we would rather have the day after New Years off or the day after Independence Day. It was an easy choice in my opinion.

Alas, that will be my only actual day off this whole weekend. On Saturday, I have to pack for the Sunday hippie fest that GUPPY EFFECT is playing at. Then I have to practice some songs for the Carps Landing show on Saturday night. Then I have to rock the show all night, only to get up early on Sunday to cruise the 3.5 hours up to Crivestivus to rock that set.

Then I'm partying over night at Crivestivus, returning home on Monday afternoon.

So Tuesday, I will relax.

Good thing I love rocking.

At the Cabin

I am up at the cabin with Caitlin. She is doing some sketch work, being the artist she is. It is about 70 degrees, sunny, and a light breeze is blowing in off the lake. I can't tell you where this lake is because it has native American healing powers, and if too many people found out about it, it would be ruined.

Earlier we swam in it and our souls were cleansed and all our ailments rinsed away. For me that was just my pesky arthritic left toe. Pain gone. Caitlin's canker sore is also remarkably reduced, she reports.

We also inflated my queen air mattress and floated around on it. The light waves rocking it were very soothing and we could have fallen asleep and ended up drifting across the lake, but we didn't.

Shortly, we will cook a cabin dinner of stir fry.

Server SNAFU at Work

I got into work today and discovered, along with my co-workers, that the server system is kaput. It's been down for over an hour now. Word has it this is a lot longer than the 12 to 15 minutes it takes to reboot the servers, so it could be serious.

While I can't access any Intranet things within the company, access to the external Internet appears unaffected, which is how I am able to write this post and post it.

I am struggling to find work to do, given that so much of our work is computer based and most files are saved to the server, not locally.

So I am using the time for TEAM BUILDING, which is work speak for chewing the fat in the corridor, until the system is restored.

Our company just merged with another company, effectively doubling it's size. Apparently, the server system was not overhauled in anticipation of the added traffic load. I first started to notice issues the day the merger closed. My Acrobat document tracker turned into molasses and started moving slow...

Getting There

I remember a saying that went something like, "If you want to reach your destination, you first have to go half way there, then halfway there again, then halfway there again..." and so on and so forth, to eventually get there. So how could you ever get there?

Setting aside the quantum physical explanation (that the universe is quantized, and so eventually there is no half way point, only a nanoscopic quantum leap between your destination and the quantum state just prior to it), the solution in the macroscopic world is pretty simple.

You just set your sights on going twice as far as you want to go, then when you go half way you are already there.

This is sometimes called AWESOMENESS.

Try it out.

Eating Pizza

Pedro (of and I are eating pizza at Timber Creek in Lake Mills WI, because our guitarist, Stefan, was delayed for band practice.

I like pizza. We got a veggie pizza in order to slightly reduce our ecological footprint.

If you want an explanation of why that is, you simply have to leave your query as a comment on this post.

Completely unrelated, you would think that with all the texting and blogging and e-mailing that goes on in America these days, citizens would be more literate than they are. But maybe the abbreviated language of the Internet age actually serves to make people less literate.

Carpool in Madison WI

I found a coworker who lives by me to carpool to work with and I can now happily flip the bird at the WI State Rideshare charlatans who rejected my proposal for ridership with them.

Let me tell you a little bit about Rideshare. It's expensive to join and only saves you a nominal amount vs. The cost of gas and car maintenance.

Also, you have to take (and pay for) and all day class, only offered a few times a year and always on a Thursday. I don't know about you, but I work on Thursdays and I don't really care to sacrifice a vacation day to take a class about how to be a responsible driver. Not to mention having to PAY for the class on top of that. I have a valid driver's license and I am not an idiot.

No fees for carpooling with my co-worker and we will end up saving about $30 a week, according to the IRS mileage conversion. We alternate days driving. On gas alone I will trim about 60 miles of driving off every week, which is a little over a gallon of gas saved (I drive a Prius). Together my coworker and I will prevent about 3 to 4 gallons of gas from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming each week.

Switching Horses in the Middle of the Stream

Information fasting is too hard.

I have been able to cut back, maybe 1/3. But that is not enough.

I wanted to info fast entirely for the month, but I feel compelled to check out some news and info on the web.

I know I won't die if I ignore the media for a few weeks.

I just feel as though it is irresponsible.

So I am going to change horses in the middle of the stream.

Most credible sources will tell a person not to do this, but I think it will be OK.

For the rest of June I am going to follow a vegetarian diet, as close to vegan as possible, but not worrying about the small transgressions, like cheese or chicken broth, when it's unavoidable.

I have been reading too much information (I know, I know...) about how the agricultural meat industry is destroying natural resources at an unsustainable rate.

Plus, the industrial chicken farm a few miles from my house is a disgusting abomination. It smells like death and they spread their chicken shit all over the place, calling it "compost."

Enough already.

I'll be documenting my vegetarian quest at, so go there right now and SUBSCRIBE.

You Wanna Know What the Worst Smell Is?

The guy sitting behind me on the bus who is chewing gum to cover up his chain smoking ashtray breath. Nothing compares with the stench of wintergeen plus ash. Luckily, since he can't shut up, I have learned that he will be getting off the bus downtown, and so I should be stench free for the remainder of my journey into work.

I can't believe there are still people who smoke, but it is even harder to believe there are people who smoke who honestly think their breath does not stink like the ass of a dragon who just ate a pine tree.

This morning I had my Facebook query about the new Food Plate dietary guidelines aired on Wisconsin Public Radio. It is a lame guideline. The cereal and dairy lobbies must be loving it. It implies you should have a glass of milk with every meal and makes no distinction about the types and quality of different food. The radio guest was a typical government pawn, regurgitating the same tired dietary advice that has done nothing to improve the nutritional health of Americans, and has in fact worsened it. You can plainly see this by looking at the obesity and chronic disease rates in America, that have been going up every year since the lobbies started influencing government policy under Reagan in the early 1980s. or (Subscribe to these non spammy blogs if you agree with me.)

I touted my 8 years in R&D at a vitamin company as credentials, but the guest misinterpreted this to mean I had an agenda because I did not clarify that I was a FORMER nutrition industry worker, with no hidden agenda to promote alternative diets. I didn't even tow the corporate marketing bunk when I was employed their, much to the derision of my monkey boy boss and corporate management. Independent and creative minds don't thrive in Corporate America generally.

A Less Than 80% Effective Day At Work

A great man once said, if you can be 80% effective at what you do, and do it 20% of the time, call it 100% effective 100% of the time.

Because in reality, most of our time is wasted on stupid things or stolen from us by stupid people. If we can avoid those things and people 20% of the time, and use that time to be 80% effective, that is the best we can hope for.

But today, I did not achieve that. I usually do.

A Solar Flare - And Other Violations of My Information Fast

I can't help it. I am trying really hard to avoid media during my June Information Fast, but it is hard. I am a total sucker for any Internet article about astronomy or quantum physics. So when I saw the Yahoo News headline about a strong solar flare that recently erupted from the sun, I could not resist it.

Although not directed right at the Earth, it is a particularly strong solar storm. It is supposed to affect satellite communications on June 8 and/or 9 and produce some auroras in both hemispheres. I really hope they can be seen from Wisconsin.

I am having a lot of difficulty completely giving up my information consumption. I have cut down a lot, much like cutting back but not completely eliminating junk food. This morning I turned on the Wisconsin Public Radio station only so I could listen for any severe weather alerts. For the most part I was able to block out the discussion they were having about the pros and cons of opening a taconite iron mine in northern Wisconsin (mainly because I already think this is a bad idea, regardless of what the industry proponent said).

Instead of trying to avoid information EVERY DAY, I may modify my June exercise in discipline and try to avoid information consumption for ONE DAY each week, and if that goes well, maybe up it to two or three. To start, perhaps I will try to observe the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays, not doing any work or using any technology. I hope reading books is OK.

I took public transport again today, and I read another large chunk of "The Year of Living Biblically," by AJ Jacobs. It is a great book, and I am learning a lot about the Bible's myths and truths via Jacobs' great "new journalism" magazine writing style.

I generally support public transportation and I try to take it 2 to 3 times per week to support it (and get through library books before they are due back). If I could apply this level of discipline to working out 2 to 3 times a week, I would go far. I have been better about workouts now that the weather is accommodating. Is this longer than two (2) minutes to read? Sorry.

A Unitarian Church

I am in a Unitarian Church. I seem to be in Unitarian Churches a lot lately, as I attempt to bridge the gap between my atheism and God, mostly out of respect for my staunchly Lutheran girlfriend. Baby steps. Baby steps.

But on this occasion it is because I am taking a singing class via the UW Madison Extension. I was taking lessons at the Madison Music Foundry, and although my teacher there is very good, this class is a best value.

$115 for 8 weeks of 1.25 hour classes vs. $25 for a single 30 minute 1 on 1 lesson with my teacher. I think she is an awesome teacher but my wallet is thanking me.

Vocals Class

Tonight is the first night of my new vocals class I am taking through the UW Madison Extension. I am parked outside the Reeb Unitarian Church in Maddy, where it takes place. Outside my air conditioned car it is a humid 95 degrees. Brutal. I sure hope this church has AC. Stay tuned and I will let you know how the class is. I have my 1 on 1 vocal lesson at Madison Music Foundry tomorrow and I am hoping my teacher will let me work on singing "Dio" by Tenacious D. I really like the song and it is dynamically in my vocal range. We shall see.

Info Fast - Day 5 (I think...)

It's tough to avoid information. It is as tough as cutting out a favorite food. Why do I need to consume information? Much like junk food, it just makes me feel yucky afterwards. It feels satisfying while I am doing it, but it is clearly not in my long term best interests.

News just raises my blood pressure and the knowledge I gain does not benefit me or anyone.

At the Doc

I am at the doctor. HIPAA laws forbid me from telling you what for, but nothing serious.

My doctor is awesome. I wish everyone could have a doctor this awesome. How she makes any money, I don't know, but she has spent nearly an hour with me today going over my health and doing an in depth analysis.

She explains stuff too. And not in a baby 8th grade sort of way. She took the time to learn that I'm well educated in science and public health, so she was able to ramp up the conversation a notch.

Anyway, kudos to my doctor.

Information Fasting - Day 3

I don't know if it counts as a violation, but as I was checking Yahoo email this morning, I was again lured into reading a photo news piece about Area 51.

I want to say that because it wasn't actual current events, it might be forgiven. But that is a slippery slope.

My information fast is STRICT, and so I am technically going to call this a violation.

This is hard. From force of habit, I am used to listening to NPR and reading Internet news.

I know in my heart of hearts that nothing bad will happen if I let go of media influx to my brain.

But just like giving up junk food or smoking, it's not easy.

As always, I will succeed. I just thought you might want to know.

Information Fast

Today, I had 2 minor violations of my information fast for the month of June.

Checking my Yahoo email this morning, I was lured into a Yahoo news piece, though I quickly caught myself.

The same thing happened again at work, but I pre-empted it.

I am learning not to fall to temptation but it is hard to break old habits.

If I check email on my Android phone, I can by-pass the Yahoo news tempting fruits of news and info.

Info Fast Violations

Today, I had 2 minor violations of my information fast for the month of June.

Checking my Yahoo email this morning, I was lured into a Yahoo news piece, though I quickly caught myself.

The same thing happened again at work, but I pre-empted it.

I am learning not to fall to temptation but it is hard to break old habits.

If I check email on my Android phone, I can by-pass the Yahoo news tempting fruits of news and info.

My June Exercise in Mental Discipline

For the month of June, my lifestyle change exercise is going to be a bit unusual.

I am going to go on an INFORMATION FAST. If you want to know what this is, visit http://redstaplerbrigade It is sort of like a fast where you cut out certain types of bad food from your diet, but instead of food, you cut out bad information.

That includes cutting out Internet and social media.

Not as easy as it sounds at first, huh?

Busking at Madison Farmer's Market Today

This morning, I cruised to Madison WI and I busked a few songs for the Farmer's Market patrons. I played "The Idiots Are Taking Over" by NOFX, next to a guy who was promoting Russ Feingold for Governor. See picture. I might try to post this on Russ Feingold's FB page.

Then I walked around the Capitol Square and picked up a few items - squeaky cheese curds, frozen ground bison and emu, some chemical free (although not organic) vine ripened tomatoes, and also a cherry tomato seedling for my garden, which I am going to plant here soon.

I met my friends Stephen and Lindsay, with their son Ash. I don't know if he is named after the character from Evil Dead II, but I hope so.

A guy at the farmer's market had a pimped out Radio Flyer wagon, that was awesome with its fat tires. There are a lot of red wagons at the farmer's market.

That is good thinking, if you are going to buy a lot of stuff.

Sponsor: The Business Card Printers

End of the Line

I am back at my car. The bus ride took a wopping 70 minutes, or an hour and 10 minutes. I read. I blogged. I ogled the Metro Bus GPS app on my Android, which I can now say I highly endorse.

I saved my car 30 miles of driving, which equates to about $15 of savings, according to the IRS mileage conversion factor of $0.50 cents per mile. It's an actuarial estimate based on average fuel and maintenance costs for cars driven by Americans. You might think because I drive a Prius, it is a bit less than that. But actually, maintenance costs for hybrid vehicles tend to be higher than gas only cars, as evidenced by the $1K repair bill I had last winter.

A More Energized Ride Home

There are a couple of guys talking really loud with the bus driver at the front of the bus. One of them is violating his own HIPAA protections by broadcasting his hypercholesterolemia to everyone, along with the doctor mandated dietary reforms he must undergo. If I was a more obsequious person, I might loudly recommend that he eat more raw nuts, known to naturally reduce cholesterol. But I'm not.

He is also talking about fatty food and how much he loves it. I am not sure if he has connected the dots yet, but I expect that to happen soon.