Sunday, November 23, 2014

9 miles done. Perfect day, but not an easy run.

5 weeks and 4.1 miles to go. I think I will get a 10 run in and not push it past that, and go for the whole 13.1 on race day.

With the recent crappy weather we've had lately I've dreaded this long run all week, but today is 70 degrees & clear skies.

And here we go. My goal is 9 miles. That will keep me on pace for my half marathon at the end of the year. I have no excuses. I am well rested, the weather is great, and I had lots of carbs yesterday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New tune in the works. So many ideas, and so little time.

I started on a new song last weekend. It's been in the works in my head for a while, but I've started getting some ideas into the computer. It's one of those songs that could go a lot of different directions. Just a slightly different drum beat could change the feel dramatically. It’s fun to think through all the possibilities, but at some point I will need to decide.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Uber FAIL by Dominoes. Pizza Hut took care of me.

Not a huge fan of Dominoes nor Pizza Hut, but a huge company like Dominoes should have their stuff together. After getting the "Attention! (our site sucks) popup twice, I went to Pizza Hut and I was in and out in 5 minutes. I hardly ever order from Pizza Hut, and it's been many years (before I owned a computer probably) that I ordered from Dominoes, but we had a crave for some thin-crust, and thought it would be a quick easy process to order online.

We actually do order pizza from time to time, but it's usually Pizza Express, but they have such a ghetto online system. The UI is so clunky and non-intuitive. And, they call you to confirm your order. Call? The main reason I'm ordering online is that I don't want to call and talk to people. Oh well, their pizza is really good, but tonight we went with the big boys. 

It looks like the pizza will get here right when the Cowboy game ends. Perfect. I don't want my stomach upset. Actually, it looks like the Boys made a game of it. It's only preseason anyway.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Picked up a beater guitar on Craigslist. It's now ready for the office, beach, campfire, etc.

So I wanted a cheap beater guitar to bring to work and for the beach, campfire, etc.  I wanted something super cheap that I didn't have to worry about it getting dinged or worst case scenario, getting stolen. So we’re talking cheap. I was thinking under $100. It’s asking a lot to get a guitar that cheap that will play worth a crap. We bought Avery a guitar for Christmas a couple of years ago, and it’s a cheap Yamaha that we paid around $100, and it plays really well. It doesn't sound that good, but it plays well. The action is low and it stays in tune. So that’s what I’m looking for, but even cheaper.

I have an old Gibson that was father’s, but it doesn't play well, doesn't sound good, and doesn't stay in tune. I've seen similar guitars at guitar shows for sale for $600 or $700, but my guitar is in terrible shape. It has a huge crack in the body, scratches everywhere, and the Gibson decal has long sense been removed.  So that guitar is going to just in the corner and hold its sentimental value, but that’s all.

I've been looking on Craigslist for something really cheap that might still be playable. I like the look of the Gibson J-160 and you’ll never guess why. Yes, because of the Beatles. Epiphone makes a really cheap student guitar with that same look, so I figured that’s where I would start.

I saw an Epiphone (PR-150) like I was looking for on CR for $70. I looked around and this price was about right. It came with a gig bag and a stand, so even better. $70 is actually not a smoking deal for this guitar, as it only sells from around $130 off the shelf. I saw a couple on CL. One was $75, but this one had the case and stand, so I contacted the owner.

My plan was to offer $50 or $60, depending on the shape it was in. The person selling it was a young girl. She met me in a Walmart parking lot not too far from my house. She was selling the guitar to save up to go to college. She was nice and friendly and I just didn't have the heart to low-ball her. If she was saving for college by selling off $70 items, then she was hurting for money. Not that it’s my responsibility to help pay her way, but the extra $10-$20 would help her more than it would me.

My reason for going cheap on this guitar, besides that it might get trashed, stolen, etc, is that I don’t have much extra money for more guitars. It’s just not in the budget. But $70 is livable, and having a guitar at work has a lot of value for me.

So I picked up the guitar for $70 and told her to get in school and get another guitar as soon as possible.

This guitar is made so cheaply. The wood, if you want to call it that, just feels cheap and plastic-like. The tuning keys are made out of the cheapest metals on the face of the earth, and the frets felt like scratchy porous metal that you would  find in a fine set of screwdrivers from the dollar store. You know the ones where the metal is so soft that one tight screw will smooth out the grooves on a Phillips, or the plastic handle just breaks off on the first turn.

That being said, I was determined to make this thing playable. The action was super high. The neck was a little bowed, but it had a truss rod, so I figured I could tweak it. I put new strings on and cleaned the whole thing up. I lubed the tuners, cleaned and oiled the fret board, and put a dab of oil on the nut. Then I tightened the truss rod. I tweaked it as much as I could without it fretting out.  This still left it with really high action. So at this point I have two other options that effect the action, the bridge, and the nut. I looked at the nut, but the string height coming off the nut was pretty low. I could shave that a bit, or dig out the string grooves, but I decided to focus on the bridge. The bridge had a lot of material to work with, and I also read that some manufacturers put shims under that bridge. I first checked for that, but there were no shims. So I started sanding down the bottom of the bridge. Since it was a cheap guitar I was too worried about ruing the bridge, but that same reasoning is why I didn't want to ruin it and have to start buying replacement parts.

After quite a while of repeating the process of taking off the stings, sanding the bridge, replacing the stings, I got it down to a decent playable string height. I still want it lower, but I’m bit scared to take off any more of the bridge as it is barely higher than the saddle now.

After spending a few hours on this little Epi it is now in acceptable shape and it serve its purpose. Hell, I even started writing a new song on it.

The only thing now is that frets, but I don’t think I can much about it. The frets just feel like crap when you bend or put any vibrato on a note. I guess I could put some steel wool to them to maybe smooth them out, but I think they are just made out of such cheap material that they will always feel that way. Oh well, I guess I won’t be doing my Al DiMeola impression on it.

Overall, a success. I do like messing around with this stuff, and learn a little more each time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

We had a successful Galveston Trip

Lisa and I headed down I45 for a long weekend in Galveston. For the most part the drive was great. We had good weather and the traffic was not terrible.

Somewhere along the way I started getting a pain in my lower back on the right side. It started off pretty mild but quickly turned in to a terrible pain and I started getting nauseous. I grabbed a plastic bad from the back seat as it was getting really bad. Lisa pulled over and I got some fresh air and walked around a bit. I didn't get sick thankfully, and after a few minutes the pain subsided a little. Lisa was looking up the symptoms on her phone and everything pointed to a kidney stone. 

We took back off, but the pain was still pretty bad. I was thinking that the vacation was over and we might need to find a hospital or clinic. I took some Alieve and started drinking lots of water. I tried to just put it out of my mind and just deal with it for a while. About 20 minutes when by and just like that the pain completely went away. I hope that never comes back. It was pretty bad. I have never broken a bone or had any kind of surgery. I've never been shot, given birth, or anything like that, so I'm sure all those things are more painful that what I experienced, but it was pretty damn painful.

Back to the vacation.

We got to the island and checked in to our room at Casa del Mar. The hotel was nothing fancy. It was very nice, but not a super high-end place, but it had awesome rooms and a great view. The rooms were mini apartments with a full fridge and a mini, but very functional, stove. It was stocked with plates, silverware, pots, pans, etc. Everything looked pretty new inside the room. It was very comfortable.

First things first...we hit the beach.
On the first night we went to a little hole-in-the-wall bar downtown called the Old Quarter, and I got in on their "Open Mic" night. I played a few of my tunes. There wasn't much of a crowd, but they all clapped, and told me afterwards that they enjoyed my songs.
The owner talked to me for a little while after my set. He talked about booking me there. It was very nice to hear. It probably won't happen, but it was cool that he liked my set enough to approach me about playing.

The next morning I dropped Lisa off a coffee shop downtown where she went on a walking photography tour. The instructor took her to some interesting sites on the harbor side of the island and some downtown spots. She knew a lot of history about the island and had a great eye. Lisa loved it.
I took off down the beach to do some fishing. I found a spot towards the west end of the island where I could drive on the beach. I fished for a while, but the seaweed was too much to deal with.
I picked up Lisa from the photography tour place and we went have lunch at Fish Tales, which is a restaurant on the seawall across from the beach. It had a great view, fresh seafood, and strong drinks.
The next day we went for a long bike ride down the seawall. We got a little excercise and there were tons of great people watching and the gulf breeze kept the temps down.
Later we drove down the island towards the west end and went back to the place I tried to fish at the day before. The seaweed was much more manageable, and I fished in the surf for probably 3+ hours. I caught a ton of fish. They were mostly small, but it was a blast.
We finished off the weekend with at a really good restaurant called The Gumbo Bar. It was definitely not gumbo weather, but I had some anyway, and it was really good. The Hurricane's were kicking also.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1969s rehearsal last night at the new space. A bit loud, but good vibe there.

We worked on some new and old tunes. I like the vibe there, but it was too loud at times. The space is smaller than the last room, but it's not cramped. It's nice and cozy. I just have to always remember ear plugs.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I made it 3 miles. I only caught a sprinkle

I had a pretty good run. My time was normal, but my feet felt great. Love new shoes.

It still looks like it might pour any second now. I'm going to try and get in a stretch and a post run workout before I get wet.

I was about to try out my new running shoes

I was about to go running in my new shoes. I have some brand spanking new Asics, and can't wait to break them in, but some wicked clouds are rolling in.

Some drops started falling but now they have stopped. I don't mind getting wet just don't want to soak my new shoes.

Alright I'm going to give this a shot.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trying to take video for Bertolf cover, but not working out. I will have to start all over another day.

I attempted to shoot some video footage to make a video to go along with my Bertolf cover of "Simply Amazing". I set up in the garage and started recording using my GoPro.

Well, I checked a test shot. I had to go back inside and view the file on the computer, as the GoPro does not have a display. The video looked OK, but the angle got too much lawn equipment in it. I had the setting on a narrow view, but GoPro still has a pretty wide shot on it's narrowest setting.

I decided to get the GP app working on my tablet, so I could use that as a monitor. This took a while to get it working, but when I did it worked great.

The next problem was that I was playing the audio to play along with, and it did not have a count off, so I had to render a new version of the song with a count off at the beginning. 

After I got that done I went back to the garage and tried to bring up the new file on my phone (which is how I was playing the audio), but the new version wasn't there. I went back inside to the computer and I still had the file open in VLC player, so it wouldn't copy to Dropbox. Doah! I closed Dropbox and dragged the file over again. This time I waited to make sure it was actually saving.

I went back to the garage and set it all up again. Now, the WiFi on the GoPro was not working, and went it started working, my tablet would connect for a second or two and then drop off. Damn it!. I fiddled with that for a good 10 minutes before giving up. It was freakin' hot in the garage and I wanted to go on with actually shooting video, so I just shot the footage with what I believed to be a good angle. I did a few takes from a couple of different angles. But wait, I realized I had not turned on the light. Without the light, but footage would certainly be too dark. The garage just has a couple of little bulbs. I had cranked up a very bright shop light earlier, which worked fine, but I forgot to turn it back on. Crap!.

I turned on the light and did the shots all over again. During these shots, it started to pour outside, which wasn't a huge problem, but I could feel my Taylor getting sticky and really don't want to ruin that guitar.

I shut it all down and brought everything inside, but then realized that I didn't plug a cable into the microphone. the mic is really just a prop as I'm not really amplifying my voice, but it just looks kind of stupid. I definitely pulled a Flea.

Oh well, so I went inside and looked at the footage. Every angle has viewable lawn equipment and garage junk. Damn it!

Since the rain came down, I have no option of going outside somewhere. Plan B will have to be another day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

HTML Devs - the Android Gmail app is a nightmare

I WAS convinced that most people on Android devices used the native email app. I thought that most people (myself included) used the native app even if they had a Gmail account. That's opposed to using the Gmail app. Well, whether that WAS true or not, it is definitely not the case now.

The Gmail app's big downfall WAS (just like the desktop web version) that it ignored styles in the head, and that meant it ignore medial queries. But media queries on the Android Gmail app wasn't a big deal, as not many people used the app (I thought). Most people use the native email app.

This used to not be a huge buzz kill, as the Gmail app just showed email in tact, but you had to pinch and scroll to see all the content. Not a good thing, but the layout was intact. Well, the Gmail Android app does more than just ignore media queries. It also attempts to fit the email into the viewport. but unlike the iPhone, the Android Gmail app does some damage along the way. I am still working through what exactly it's doing, but it's ignoring some cell widths and other things. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wrote a simple 3-equal-column responsive layout.

I was working on a much larger project for work that had multiple modules with varying amounts of content. The modules just didn't look very good with their uneven heights, so I wrote a small jQuery script to loop through the DIVs and get the height of the tallest DIV, then make all the DIVs that height. It worked pretty good, and then added a call to the function on resize

The boxes also needed to stack for mobile, which just required changing the float to "none" in the media query. 

  $(document).ready(function() {
    function set_height()
  $('.col').height('inherit'); // reset the height
  var max_h = 0; // variable to hold the max height
  $('.col').each(function(i, obj) { // loop through column DIVs
var h = $(obj).height(); // get the height of the col
    if(h >= max_h) 
{max_h = h;}  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Going for day 3 in a row rehearsing with 3rd different band..sort of

I rehearsed with the 1969s on Tue, April Samuels and Neil Brincks on Wed, and tonight I will rehearse with the band yet-to-be-named, featuring Chad Litersky and Neil Brincks.

The songs I'm playing with April and Neil are some of the same songs I'm playing with Chad and Neil, so Neil and I should have these down pretty soon.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Central Market crab cakes. 99 flavors but crab ain't one. #CentralMarket

Central Market has some really good stuff, but be ready to pay out the a$$ for it. That being said, many times it does feel like it's a good value, because some of their stuff is that good, and when I have the cash I'm willing to spend more to get more.

I had their crab cakes yesterday. They were pretty damn pricey, as is everything else, but the bigger problem was that I didn't taste any crab in them. They were a minced up mush of lots of flavors, but crab really wasn't one of them. I had to pick an dig to find something that looked like crab, and even though I think I may have spotted a piece, I didn't really taste any.

To be fair, I bought some pork eggs rolls, and some jalapeno poppers that were both excellent. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Working on Bertolf covers. 2 versions. 1 close to original, and another my own style. Fun stuff. #Bertolf

Check out Bertolf on Spotify. He's a songsmith of the highest order. I decided to try and record a cover and mimic him as best I can. I just about have the copy version done. In my head it sounds pretty close, but I'm guessing if he ever hears it he will not think so, but hopefully he is flattered and appreciates the effort.

I will record a second version and mix it up a bit.

There's a lot of YouTube stuff on him, but I can't find much info in English. When I translate pages they just don't make that much sense to me. Something is definitely lost in the translation. I've heard him speak English on one video, and he seems to speak very good English, but all the live stuff and interviews are in Dutch.