RIP: Jeff Beck

Just heard the news, legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has passed away at 78 years old.

Jeff’s career was underway before I was even born, but I’ve been a fan of his since I’ve known who he was.

His was such a unique voice. Both Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page eclipsed him in the fame and fortune department, but from my perspective Mr. Beck ran rings around the both of them. He was truly one of a kind. Iconic. A vessel.

My favorite song of his…

On top of his profound playing, he was also an avid hot-rod enthusiast, which just made him all the cooler to me.

Rest in peace Mr. Beck. Thank you for all your contributions throughout the decades. You will be missed.

So many fails!

This morning has me facing a big reality check in my ability to deal with “unforeseen circumstances”.  In short, I’m beating myself up pretty good this morning.

As I write this, we’re at about 30 hours without power.  I realize that for some of you,  this is nothing.  For us, it is extremely unusual.  I’ve lived within a 25 mile radius of where I am now my entire life and to the best of my recollection we’ve never gone more than 24 hours without power.  Outages are usually resolved within 12 hours, most in less than 8.  So yes, we’ve historically been a little spoiled.

But that was then…  Our utilities company (Pacific Gas & Electric) has been really dropping the ball the last couple years.  One of my colleagues that lives close by, but in a more rural section, has routinely gone without power for 4-5 day stretches half a dozen times a year since 2019.

Around 5:00am today – 27 hours into the failure we got an update from the Utilities stating the “expected” restoration is by 10pm TOMORROW.  This is unprecedented in our area.  We’ve lived in the same apartment for 16 years and have never, ever gone 3 days without power.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a big believer in preparedness since my days as a Boy Scout back in the 70’s and 80’s.   Emergency preparedness has been part of my job for the last 20+ years.  I’ve been an active member of my Town’s Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), I’ve trained with County Fire Depts. in two different counties, and done FEMA emergency response training.   In short, I know this stuff, and have a knack for imagining a “worst case” for any scenario.

I’ve spent years and countless dollars preparing for emergencies and this minor blip caught me with my pants down…

Don’t get me wrong.   We’re not suffering or in any kind of danger, but I have never felt so unprepared in my life.

I’ll start at the beginning…

When I woke up Tuesday morning,  I just went to the gym expecting that by the time I got home the power would be back on, but stopped off at a 7-11 on the way home to get coffee for the Mrs. and I, just in case.   Which turned out to be a good thing, ‘cuz the power was still out when I got home.

I showered and dressed for work by battery operated lantern and got ready for a day at the office.  The Mrs. happened to have the day off and was going to be home, so before I left I pulled out our “solar generator” and hooked up the TV and our modem so she wouldn’t be bored and also have the capability to recharge her phone if necessary.   I left for work fully expecting the power would come back on at some point during the day.  So far, so good.

By mid-afternoon, still no power and no update from PG&E on restoration. By this time, we’re getting concerned about the food in the fridge and freezer.

I left work a little early so I could stop by our mini-storage unit and pick up our “big” cooler, then detoured to the nearest Quickie-mart and grabbed 20 lbs. of ice.

I got home to find the Mrs. had distributed candles throughout the apartment and had a couple battery lanterns running as well.  She’d turned the solar generator off to conserve energy – it was down to about 70% capacity by that time.

I got busy loading the contents of the fridge into the cooler, only to discover we only had cooler capacity for about 2/3 of the refer, using 2 coolers and an insulated cooler bag.  Not good.

The freezer was packed pretty solid, so it acted as sort of a cold-battery.  Everything was still pretty much frozen solid, but I hooked it up the to generator for a couple hours to recharge the cold, and put the small insulated bag into the fridge for extra insulation.

After all that, I ran up the road where they had power for some takeout tacos and burritos.  Then we unplugged the fridge, and hooked up the modem and TV, watched a little TV for a distraction and then got ready for bed.

Again, I was expecting a resolution overnight.  Turned out to be wishful thinking.

I got up this morning and went to make some coffee.   First problem, I cannot find (in the dark) our kettle.  We ordinarily use an electric kettle, but I bought a “camping” kettle for situations such as this.  Well, I couldn’t find the darn thing anywhere.  (FAIL!)  No worries, says I, I’ll just boil the water in a regular pot.  Now for the stove.  I purchsed a single burner propane stove for emergencies several years ago.  Nice little unit, never had to use it.  I’ve got a dozen bottles of propane for it, which I found immediately,  but again could NOT, for the life of me, find the stove.  (FAIL!)  No worries,  says I, I’ll just grab the Esbit stove out of the go-bag.  So I went to the wife’s go bag, and NO DANG STOVE!! (FAIL!)  I know I got one for her, and was sure I put it in there, but I emptied the bag and it was not to be found.  Then I had to dig out my go-bag, and turned one up. 

I set up the stove, put the pot of water on and let it start heating.  Unbeknownst to me, this little stove would NOT bring the water to a boil.  Why was it unbeknownst to me?  ‘Cuz I never trained with it!  (FAIL!)  I got impatient after the second fuel tab, and made the coffee (in a French press) with water that maxed out at 161 degrees.  It wasn’t gross, but it wasn’t good either.

Another shower and shave by lantern light, then thought I should run the fridge a bit more before I left.  At this point the generator is down to 12%.  I was able to run the unit for about 30 minutes and then it died out at 0%.

Now I’m back at work, thinking about all the food that will likely be spoiled by the time the power comes back on.

So, a lot of lessons learned here.

I had a good solar generator BUT I had only one extension cord to plug things into it.  (FAIL!)

Once the battery was dead, I had no way to recharge it since there is NO sun for the solar panels.  (FAIL!)

I had a little backup battery for charging cell phones, but I’d let it die by not keeping it on the charger, so it was useless.  Using that for charging phones could’ve given us a little more capacity on the generator. (FAIL!)

I wasted time and added stress looking for the propane stove, which I never found. (FAIL!)

Have you seen me?

We were both having issues with our cell phones – they were barely working without wifi. We realized we no longer have an old fashioned “land line phone”. We have the line, we just didn’t replace the last phone when it broke. And the last one was a cordless phone, which needs electricity so it wouldn’t have served us well anyway. (FAIL!)

Our “big” cooler is wholly insufficient for emergencies. Way too small. It’s fine for cookouts or weekend camping trips, not preserving the contents of a whole fridge/freezer. (FAIL!)

Also, it occurred to me that had the power been out at our storage place, I wouldn’t have been able to get to our cooler at all…

Having go-bags is GREAT, but clearly just throwing stuff into a backpack without a clear inventory is a rookie move. (FAIL!)

Having a bunch of emergency supplies is also great, but having said supplies so disorganized you can’t find what you need, when you need it, is plain dumb. (FAIL!)

We did have a couple fortunate things, our hot water is still working and we had heat in the apartment. That was especially lucky, as our furnace hasn’t worked for about 3 years, and we just got a new one a few days before Christmas. Up til then we were relying on electric heat. We’d have been sunk if that were still the case…

All things considered, this has just been embarrassing. But I have learned a great deal from this excersize and can guarantee that the next time will NOT be like this.

Most importantly I’ve learned there is a HUGE difference between “knowing” and “doing”. I know a lot about survival and preparedness but I’ve never really had to put that knowledge to the test before. Now that I have, at best a very kind instructor might give me a C-. Test your gear folks. You don’t want the first time use to be during an emergency situation, trust me on this one.

I’ve got a lot of work to do…

Thanks for stopping by. Be careful out there!

Back at it!

First workout of the New Year this morning.

It was rough getting outta the house – 5:15am, pitch black, cold and pouring rain – but once I got there I was glad I did it.

Today was chest, biceps, triceps and abs. I dropped 20lbs off all my previous weights, so as to not over do it my first time back out. I clearly made the right decision, cuz I’m still feeling it!

I wish I could say it was fun. It wasn’t. But it’s not fun being sluggish and being squeezed into your clothes either.

Listen, if I can do this you can do this. A little really does go a long way. Get out there, lift heavy things. Push yourself. It sucks mightily at first, then you’ll wonder why you went so long without it!

We’ve got a lot of missed time to make up for. The last couple years have put a hurting on a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and there is nothing on the horizon telling us this year is gonna be much better.

Better to face adversity with a clear head and a strong body right?

And like it or not, fitness is one of those things you simply can’t outsource. It’s up to you to make the best possible version of you. Nobody is going to do it for you.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I wrote that as much for ME as I did for my readers – I’ve got a lot of ingrained laziness to overcome!

Thanks for stopping by!

Back to Basics…

This year I’ve determined to make self improvement a key focus.

The Mrs. and I were discussing how “the good life” has been making us soft, both figuratively and literally. In short, we’ve been lazy since the Plague.

One of the things I REALLY dropped the ball on was cooking. Now, the Mrs. is an AWESOME cook and has been since I’ve known her. I learned a lot of valuable lessons watching her over the decades and not too long ago I’d have said I had become a better than average cook. Not amazing, but certainly no slouch.

My last few ventures in the kitchen have been less than stellar. Not inedible, but a bit disappointing and certainly not anything to get excited about.

This morning I decided it was time to get back on my game for better or worse and put together a good old fashioned “All American Breakfast”. The menu consisted of scrambled (organic) eggs with a touch of sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, a strawberry & blueberry yogurt mix with fresh blueberries and organic granola and some buttered “artisinal” toast. We topped it off with mimosas, cuz it was Saturday and we could!

The bacon got away from me as you can see, but otherwise not too shabby!

Gotta keep your skills sharp folks, even something as simple as cooking is a use-it-or-lose-it kinda thing.

But hey, we all gotta start somewhere. Or re-start as the case may be. Bon Appétit!

Thanks for stopping by!

Uh…wrong again.

We’ve been getting some real rain in the Bay Area over the last week, which is very welcome but good grief! The forecasting has been so outta whack.

The first burst hit us on New Year’s Eve, and we knew we had rain coming, but as it turned out the resulting rainfall was 3 TIMES the amount forecast! Oops. Surprise!!

I spent most of that day stressing about the creek that forms the property line for the facility I work at. When I left Friday night, the creek had 25-30 feet to go before it breached the bank (and flooded the building I’m responsible for!), and by 4pm the next day it only had about 10′ capacity left. By 10pm it was between 5 and 7 feet.

Sunday we got a respite from the rain, the creek dropped considerably and we thought we were in the clear…

Then Monday we get flood warnings and high wind advisories from the National Weather Service. Then the “news” is non-stop with coverage on the impending horror storm coming Wednesday. “It’s going to be the storm of the century!” “Expect massive damages!” There WILL be LOSS OF LIFE!”…

I spent Monday and Tuesday battening down the hatches, clearing all storm drains and rain gutters, prepping response carts with necessary equipment, alerting all other departments, getting stacks of sand bags ready, staging our giant water barriers that will (hopefully) save our basement from flooding and keeping a vigilant watch on the creek. I put my entire staff “on call” for Wednesday night.

When Wednesday rolled around, we were as ready as we could be for this Biblical storm, everyone on high alert.

And then…not much of anything.

Sure, it rained. For a bit. There were a few pretty good gusts of wind. I may even go as far as to say is was the biggest storm we’ve had in the last 2, maybe 3 years. You know, the years California has been in a massive drought?!? Overall, it was pretty much a nothing burger.

I don’t know which is worse, the utter incompetence of the National Weather Service and our local meteorologists or the repulsive fear mongering of the “news” media.

The silver lining in all this is that we didn’t sustain any damage and it was a good drill for my team.

I’m a firm believer in preparedness, so I don’t look at this as wasted time. That being said, I could have done without the added stress that was induced by the over-hyped “news” being churned out nonstop.

We’ve got rain in the forecast on 8 of the next 10 days, so maybe something will happen but now my blood pressure should stay a little more normal, since we’re well prepared.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to diminish the adverse situations some folks have experienced during these storms – there has been some flooding, there have been some power outages, there have been some folks trapped in cars and whatnot. Mostly, we’ve lost a LOT of trees.

No, my issues is with the fools that got it all wrong. There was more distress and more problems on NYE than there should have been because they underestimated the situation, and city/county/state resources weren’t ready for what we got. Then they OVERestimated significantly, causing much undue stress and anxiety for much of the population.

In the end, we got what we desperately needed, some good steady rain and some preparedness training. I guess it wasn’t all bad…

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank goodness it’s over!

The year 2022 will go down in my personal history as the worst year ever, and I’m glad to see it go!

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun moments this year. I made some improvements in certain aspects of my life, and I got to hit the road a lot and do some traveling, so the year wasn’t entirely without some silver linings.

BUT! I’ve been sick more this year than in the previous decade COMBINED, which completely wrecked the excersize regime I worked so hard to establish in ’20 & ’21. Lacking the consistency at the gym led to a really lackluster year for surfing. Not surfing really did a number on my mental health. The decline in mental health made my job all that much more difficult to tolerate and made my productivity in both my “side hustle” and general “around the house choring stuff” fall off a cliff. And to top it all off, I’m starting to feel the old, familiar financial squeeze that I (fortunately) haven’t had to deal with since I started this job nearly 5 years ago. I also lost a dear friend this year, completely unexpectedly. I could go on, and really get down in the muck, but this blog isn’t really about spewing bitterness, so I’ll stop right there.

So yeah, I haven’t exactly had a banner year…

But instead of bitching and moaning about what a craptastic year ’22 has been, I will review the good stuff that happened and the good stuff I’m looking forward to in 2023.

First, as I mentioned, this was a great year for travel. Aside from all the local stuff, we hit Hawaii, Los Angeles, Napa and Oregon this year. And all those trips were great. Tons of fun, no bad vibes, nothing negative happened on any of those adventures. Who knows what ’23 will bring, but I DO know that a trip back to Oregon is already in the planning stages for late Winter/early Spring.

This was a big year for music too. Not only did we get out to a bunch of shows (most of which were FANTASTIC!), but I also started getting my groove back – both figuratively AND literally – spending a lot more time at the drum kit than in the previous years. Thankfully the drums help fill the void left by the lack of surfing. It’s not the same certainly, but both activities put me in that Zen mind space, which is something I found myself in desperate need of this year.

I’ve also had a bit of a regrouping with some old friends this year. I don’t know if it’s an age thing, or a general sense-of-mortality thing in this post-Plague era, but I’ve been back in touch with a lot of old friends this year, which has been pretty cool. It also helped take the sting out of the passing of my other friend…

This blog has been one of my highlights as well. I just jumped into it without much of a plan or direction, but I’ve found that it’s been a great outlet for me, which has helped me keep some equilibrium mentally and given me an opportunity to work with the written word again after a decade’s worth of slacking; another bonus in the positive mental health arena! I’m coming up on a year now of writing here and I think I’ll keep at it, simply because I’m enjoying it. Much to my surprise I passed 500 visitors a short while ago. I never expected that considering I have no “presence” on the ‘net to publicize this page, and I’ve only told 3 or 4 people about it. I realize that’s a tiny, miniscule number in the grand scheme of things, but considering my circle of people is very, very small it feels like I’ve talked to a whole bunch of new people this year and made a few new friends, which I can appreciate.

Looking forward into 2023 I see some good things on the horizon – of course I say that with the caveat that the “powers that be” running this psycho-circus don’t A) bankrupt us, B) starve us, C) make us all glow in the dark or D) all of the above…

When Congress is in session…

I’ve got a few different music projects starting to heat up, which is super exciting for me.

Ready for business!

More travel to places I’ve never been are on the itinerary. Getting back into the swing of things at the gym is another good thing I’m making happen. And I’ll keep plugging away here – more comcert, book and product reviews, more musical flashbacks, and hopefully continued improvement of my writing overall.

And lastly, a potential new business venture that could be a “game changer” for me and put me on a whole new path.

Will all of this actually happen? Who can say? I can’t predict the future any better than any of you can. But what I DO know is that without plans, drive and a sprinkle of good luck, we all just stay in the same spot, wallowing in misery.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve had more than enough misery over the last few years. It’s time to really start living again!

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2023!!

Happy Birthday! Terry Bozzio

Mr. Terry John Bozzio was born this day in 1950, in San Francisco, CA. He’s had an active career as a musician since the early 1970’s, lending his talents to a plethora of recordings over the last 5 decades, and he’s STILL a phenomenal musician!

I became aware of Terry in 1982 with the release of “Spring Session M” by the band Missing Persons. I had been playing drums for quite some time by then, and had my heroes, but Terry was something altogether different. His playing was explosive and frankly dangerous sounding, but at the same time he displayed technical skills that were basically beyond my comprehension- and I was no slouch! I had never heard anyone, ever, play drums like this guy, and I wanted to know everything about him.

Since this was the pre-internet days, information was limited to say the least, but I poured over every magazine and newspaper article I could find on him or the band, and when I’d learn of another group he played with, or another drummer that influenced him I’d seek out their records in the used record stores we used to have around town. I was mildly obsessed.

When I learned Missing Persons was releasing a second album, I was ecstatic as well as intrigued. It was in an article about Terry that I learned he basically designed an electronic drum kit, from the ground up, for that record and tour. At the time, drum machines were fairly new on the scene and electronic drums – what few there were – were more novelties than instruments. But Terry wanted to mimic the sounds of a drum machine, with an actual drummer, and again when the album came out (Rhyme & Reason) it blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like it. It was completely different than their previous album and yet, it was undoubtedly Terry. It took me a long time to absorb that record honestly, and of the Missing Persons catalog it sounds the most “dated” now, but it was revolutionary at the time. And if I recall, he actually got a patent on the electric drums he invented!

The Rhyme & Reason e-drum era.
The world’s first bespoke electric drum set?

It was sometime around their second album that I discovered that I’d heard Terry before Missing Persons, I just didn’t know it. When I was really young, like 5th grade or so, I had an older neighbor that used to let me hang out and listen to records and he used to play Frank Zappa albums, particularly “Live in New York” which Terry was on! As it turned out, Terry played on a bunch of Zappa records and if you know ANYTHING about Zappa, you know he only used the best of the best musicians for his bands. So this really elevated his status with me, even though I was already quickly becoming his biggest fan from his work in Missing Persons.

A couple years later Missing Persons came out with “Color in Your Life”, which was again very different from their earlier work, but just phenomenal. To this day it remains my favorite record of theirs.

They saved the best for last…

During this period, Terry began endorsing the new Remo drum line and set out on a clinic tour. At the end of the tour, they put his drum set up for sale at the San Jose Guitar Center, and since I was an up and coming drummer myself and gigging a lot, I splurged and bought Terry’s used kit. It was a dream come true!! (I had that kit for the majority of my musical “career” until it was sadly stolen in the early 2000’s by a filthy scumbag. But I digress…)

The Terry Bozzio Remo Encore setup…
My Terry Kit, in some club somewhere…the only thing I changed were the “BOZZIO” bass drum heads.

Sometime around the late 90’s, Missing Persons got back together for a reunion show in LA, and fortunately for me my best friend Bret (who lived there at the time) not only got us tickets, but also arranged for us to meet the band! So yes, I was lucky enough to meet my hero and he was as nice and gracious as you could possibly imagine. Another dream come true! Then the band went out and played one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life! It was mesmerizing. And finally, after a decade plus of struggle, some of his secrets were revealed and I was finally able to figure out a lot of parts that had eluded me for years! It was beyond awesome.

I’ve continued to follow him all these years, we even had a brief correspondence via email regarding the composition of the Remo drum shells, etc. and I was able to see him live in a solo setting a number of years ago, which was another spectacular experience.

I don’t throw the word genius around often, but in the world of music it is a title deserved by Terry Bozzio.

Yes, I was a drummer BEFORE I knew of Terry, and yes I have many other influences and drummers I admire, but Terry formed me as an artist more than any other, and without his work I would not be the drummer I am today. And not just about drums – he inspired me to write lyrics, to get interested in the production side of making records, the strive to be an artist, not only a drummer. And he made it cool to be smart, to read books, to explore, to have other interests outside of music. I owe the man a lot!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr. Bozzio, for all your work throughout the decades. My life is richer for it, undoubtedly.

Cheers to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Thanks for stopping by.

As the mad-dash escalates this week…

Keep this in mind when you’re facing lunatic drivers, overly congested parking lots and long lines that move at a snail’s pace…

The last few years have been so weird that it seems like people are going out of their way to make up for lost time the Christmas, which I can understand. But becoming a stressed out mess in an effort to “get back to normal” is defeating the true purpose and meaning of Christmas.

Take a breath. Relax. Love your loved ones. Enjoy your time together if you’re lucky enough to have someone to spend the holiday with.

And most importantly, be nice to your fellow humans. Everyone I know could use a dose or two of kindness bestowed upon them, it’s been a rough year.

Just my 2 cents…

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip!/Concert Review: Dogstar at Gold Diggers, Los Angeles.

Tonight was a rare and once in a lifetime event. We were cordially invited to the “record release party” celebrating Dogstar’s new – yet to be named – album.

Dogstar, back in action!

Full Disclosure: Bret Domrose, the guitarist and vocalist for Dogstar is my best friend. He and I came up together, learning the ropes of playing live shows, song writing and being serious, professional musicians. In fact, the very first band Bret was ever in – The Laters, circa 1984 – had me as the drummer. He and I went on to form several bands afterwards, culminating in a record deal with an indie label that went bankrupt just prior to our record’s release, and from there our lives took very divergent paths.

Bret, doin’ his thing!

There is a good chance if you’ve heard of Dogstar at all, it’s because of their infinitely famous bassist, Keanu Reeves. It is true that they got a lot of breaks that most bands wouldn’t have received if it weren’t for Keanu, but bottom line, Dogstar is a great band with a lot of really fantastic songs.

Tonight they played their first live show in DECADES, playing their recently recorded album, in its entirety. And let me tell you, it’s going to be a great album if this gig was any indication!

There is evident growth in the songwriting, and Bret’s guitar work has never been better. Keanu is a solid bassist and really held things down with his playing. Drummer Rob did something I’ve never, and I do mean NEVER seen, playing a harmonica solo while playing drums!

It was a great set, the band was in good spirits, the sound was great, the energy high and the crowd was all smiles!

It was an awesome night. We were able to see a bunch of old friends that we haven’t seen in ages and I was able to introduce our daughter to Keanu finally after hearing about him practically her entire life. (When she was only 2 years old, I went on tour with Dogstar so she’s heard the stories about my times with Keanu and Uncle Bret many times over the years!)

Our kid in the foreground, Mr. Reeves in the background…

It was so good to see Bret on stage again, and I’m really proud of the work he’s put in and the really stellar songs that came out of the project. He’s an extremely talented guy and I feel lucky to call him a friend.

The Boring Old Man and Bret Domrose.

Thanks for a great night guys. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new record!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Be a Survivalist who is a “Jack of all Trades”, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).

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Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

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The Boring Old Man

The ramblings of an old weirdo about whatever crosses my mind...