Fake promoted Amazon Products shit has gotta stop

white kitchen cabinet

Our toaster is dying. We had a good one that was gifted us for our wedding in 2000, and a couple years ago, it gave up the ghost. Alas, time and resistive heater elements are not entirely compatible. Bummer.

We bought a cheap-ish replacement, and it worked for about three years, but the left slot ejector is stuck, and it is a pain in the arse to get toast out of it.

Time to buy a new toaster.

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The Day my Guitar Teacher Burst my Bubble

No, he didn’t tell me that I sucked, or that I ought to give up trying.

It was probably about 18 months into the lessons, weekly 1 hour sessions that covered a lot of theory and practical groundwork. I was making a lot of progress, and feeling pretty good. I had learned several of the songs that I thought would be pinnacles of my playing. ‘That which shall not be named’ (1), UFO’s “Rock Bottom”, several Michael Schenker songs, some of Gary Moore’s rockers, and others that I considered my go to songs.

Then I brought him a song to learn that was more of a loosely structured jam session.

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Music Appreciation: Michael Schenker

I was interested in music at a young age. My father built his HiFi system from a Heathkit, and I am pretty sure my fascination with Progressive Rock was kindled by hearing Emerson, Lake and Palmer on the radio (Karn Evil 9, 1st impression, part 2 was frequently aired).

But, my desire to learn to play guitar was driven by the discovery of Michael Schenker. My first brush with his playing was when a friend in high school introduced me to the song “Shoot Shoot” from the UFO album “Strangers in the Night”, a live album recorded on the last tour that Michael did with the band before a brief return to the Scorpions, and then launching his solo career with the Michael Schenker Group.

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Giving in to the Inevitable – Apple Watch

If you have been following the weather in California, you are probably somewhat in awe of the sheer volume of rain that has been dumped. The phenomena of “Atmospheric Rivers” have essentially led to wave after wave of intense, constant rainfall, quite atypical of California weather patterns.

What this has led to is that my morning walk with Cerberus have become both wet and treacherous. Last year, the very day that our Christmas shutdown began, I slipped and fell on the algae slicked sidewalk, needing stitches, as well as a few days of concussion protocol observation, a huge “no bueno” situation.

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The First Prog Rock Album I Bought

In the mid to late 1970’s I began to listen to local rock radio stations. One of the huge benefits of growing up in the south Bay Area was that we had to iconic rock stations, KOME and KSJO that just played kick-ass music.

I was a total n00b, not knowing ANYTHING about music, but I know that there was one song that when I heard it, I loved it.

Why? Well with a lyric like:

Welcome back, my friends
To the show that never ends.
We’re so glad you could attend!
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind a glass
Stands a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!
(and much more)

– Lyrics by ELP

The problem was I didn’t know who performed it, so I kept listening and one day it was noted that it was a band named “Emerson, Lake and Palmer”.

Armed with that knowledge, I ventured into the Kmart music section with my hard earned allowance money, and found the triple live album “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends” by the supergroup ELP.

My allowance money wasn’t quite enough, but my mom took pity on me, and sported me the few bucks I needed to complete the acquisition.

The first album I ever bought for myself.

All because of that enchanting lyric I heard on the radio that I needed to hear again.

Needless to say, I was completely blown away. The entire album was audible bliss, an assault on my ears by some of the most amazing sounds. Keith’s wild, synth laden lines and licks, Greg Lake’s enchanting vocals, and the percussion of Carl Palmer.

I must have listened to the album 20 times the first weekend. I found the 27 minutes of Tarkus enthralling (full album side), and the complete 35 minutes of Karn Evil 9 – the source of that enchanting lyric that captured my attention – mesmerizing from the opening keyboard riff to the crescendo of the synth pattern that it ends in, all 35 minutes and two album sides.

Just gobsmacked all the way.

Yes, that was the birth of my passion for progressive rock.

Born Too Early

A bit of self reflection today. I was born on the leading edge of Generation X, just as the conflict in Vietnam was escalating, I joined the mass of mankind in the world (or, 1965).

I struggled in early education, and I was never sure why. My parents whispered behind my back, and I occasionally caught snippets. But one thing I do know is that I had poor hand-eye coordination.

It is why my penmanship is – to be blunt – awful. And it is also why I was not a natural of playing ball sports (baseball in particular).

Of course, my parents tried to improve it. But, in the early 1970’s there weren’t a lot of fun ways for a kid to work on their hand eye coordination. I recall my dad trying to teach me to play banjo at the ripe old age of 5. That didn’t go well, as you can imagine.

The irony is that had I been born a decade later, mid Gen X so to speak, I would have had the growing video game craze to help train my hand-eye coordination. Perhaps that would have made the difference.

Or perhaps not. I suspect that I lie somewhere on the spectrum, and as was common back in the late 60’s and 70’s it was just not diagnosed.

C’est la vie. Now that both my parents have passed, I am left to wonder what my early childhood was like from the snippets of my memories.

New Gear Friday – It’s here

Today at lunch time the FedEx truck showed up with my monolith shaped box. The Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1, in Robin’s Egg Blue with the Ebony fretboard is here.

Pulling it out of the box, it was dead mint, gorgeous, and flawless. It was out of tune (not surprising and I suspect that it will take a few weeks to stabilize to my local temperature and humidity.

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It is a lie…

When I worked at OpenText, the company would send you a gift for your birthday. A nice touch, and the only place I ever worked that did.

What did they send you? It was a container of “The World’s Finest Chocolate”. Essentially mini-bars, about the size you would hand out at Halloween, in their various flavors.

Want to know a secret? It really wasn’t the world’s finest chocolate. It wasn’t even as good as the waxy Hershey’s crap you get at the store.

But what great branding.

I bring this up because “The World’s Finest Chocolate” seems to team up with high school band and sports ball teams to fundraise for events and shit. My wife felt pity for one kid on the route she walks at lunch time, and bought a few bars. $5 for 5 bars. I am sure that about 80 cents of each dollar go to the fundraiser, because there is no fucking way this bar is worth more than twenty cents.

At least I hope so.

“If you say it, people will believe it …” perhaps.

Subscription Crates

brown wooden crate with bees

I get barraged with offers for subscription boxes. Dog toys/treats. Japanese unique candy. Men’s accessories. And many more. It is pretty easy to ignore.

The idea is that the purveyor selects a collection of items. For the “Men’s Accessories” I have seen things like a shaving cup and brush, a Leatherman tool, or some men’s grooming items. For $40 or whatever a month, you will get a box with the goodies in it.

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When you Realize your Family is full of bigots

men wearing crew neck t shirt

We all suspect that members of our family harbor some racism and/or bigotry. I mean, we all have that crazy uncle (or Aunt) who causes us all to roll our eyes at Thanksgiving by saying some completely insane shit out loud.

But, having grown up in Silicon Valley in the 60’s and 70’s where people of color were segregated due to a long history of redlining, and a lot of implicit racial segregation.

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