Mega Video Of The Day!

Share Button

OK. When ever people complain about today’s youth and the future of this country….. THIS! Our future is in better hands than the ones currently holding the wheel! Jon Montanez is a man, period.

Marriage Equality. A Step Forward.

Share Button

75 prominent (or somewhat prominent) Republicans today filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court rejecting Prop 8 and embracing the concept of gays being able to marry.

I sometimes have my differences with Andrew Sullivan, but today, his 24 plus years of same sex marriage advocacy makes him the go-to guy to comment on this stunning change of heart of some in the Conservative movement. Here is what he wrote on the news of the day.

Why is gay marriage so important to us? He gives but one example:

A friend recalled visiting a man dying of AIDS at the time. A former massive bodybuilder, he had shrunk to 90 pounds. ‘Do I look big?” he asked, with mordant humor. In the next bed, surrounded by curtains, my friend heard someone singing a pop song quietly to himself. My friend joked: “Well not everyone here is depressed!” Then this from his dying, now skeletal friend: “Oh, that’s not him. He died this morning. That’s his partner. That was their song, apparently. The family took the body away, threw that guy out of the apartment he shared with his partner, and barred him from the funeral. He’s stayed there all day, singing their song. I guess it’s the last place he’ll ever see where his partner actually was. His face is pressed against the pillow. The nurses don’t have the heart to tell him to leave.”

Major Kudos to those conservatives who have decided to stop basing their stance on fear, and instead support fairness.

On the quote above.

I didn’t have any experiences like that. In the 1980, when i was learning to accept the fact I am gay, I knew of people who were succumbing to the disease, but, seeing that I was still in the closet, I isolated myself from it by pretty much avoiding getting acquainted with anyone who was positive.

None-the-less, it still hit home. My ability to come to terms with the fact that I am gay was definitely delayed by the specter of AIDS, as I felt the shame that the world put onto gays – specifically, that being gay = having AIDS, something that just about made you a lepper in the eyes of the “normal” world. In the early 80’s I knew I was gay in high school, but never ever could have acted on it. Even in high school, there was talk of the “gay cancer” and there was no way I could have handled being associated with that. I was not very strong, and maybe would have offed myself if anyone found out I was a deviant. Even years later, I couldn’t even say the words “I am gay” until I was 27 or so. Even after that, on the few times I dated, if my date said they were positive, the date ended rather quickly.

In retrospect, I was kind of a dick. But it was a reaction of fear, and fear makes you do stupid things. I got better though. My Mate found out he was positive (thank you cheating ex) just when we started to get serious. Been together for 17 years. Best years of my life. And I owe that to him as much as anything else.

From The “Yeah, I Have The Same Reaction When I Hear This Song” Dept.

Share Button

Welcome Fresno Bee Readers!

Share Button

Life is busy today, so I probably won’t be able to post anything…. Which means I’ll end up writing a long thing like the last one!  🙂

Anyway, have a look around. Comment if the itch arises. I’ll respond when I can.



Good Things Happen…. My First Gig As A Solo Artist!

Share Button


You know how sometimes you go a fight, and a hockey game breaks out? Well, yesterday, I went to an Earthquake zone, and a solo gig broke out!

Here’s the background.

The Mate and a couple of friends went mountain biking yesterday. Their destination? A personal favorite, Parkfield, the self styled Earthquake Capital of the World! I go there hoping to be on ground zero when a decent sized quake breaks loose. Hey, a geology school drop-out can dream!

The town is just over 100 miles from Fresno. It’s very small.

It has one restaurant, and the food there is fantastic! The trip is well worth the drive just for that!

Greg and his cohorts drove 80-ish miles toward the desired destination and stopped at a spot just west of Coalinga, then rode their bikes the rest of the way. That last bit of their route is mountain terrain, and there is no way I could have made the ride without having a series of major coronaries. But, because of my background in geology / seismology, not to mention the fantastic food, I love going to Parkfield and wasn’t going to miss the opportunity on this occasion. So I decided to drive to the town and meet them at the restaurant.

Seeing that they would be riding part of the way, it was a forgone conclusion that their trip would be a longer one time-wise than mine, so I gave them a good two hour head start. They left at about 8 in the morning. I got in the car for the two hour trip at about 10:30. It was a total guess that it would take then a couple of hours longer to complete the Coalinga to Parkfield leg of their trip. I expected it would take them longer, but I had no idea really how long they would take. So, just for the heck of it, I decided to bring my guitar along with me. I figured I would get there before they did, would have some time to kill, so the plan was to sit on the bridge that spans the San Andreas fault, strum some guitar, and wait for either the guys to show up, or an Earthquake, whichever came first.

When I reached the destination of Parkfield at about 1 PM. As is typical, the tiny out-of-the-way town was just about empty. The only humans around were a couple of cowboy-ish type guys doing cowboy-ish type things, and myself. I headed straight to the planned rendezvous point, the Parkfield Cafe to see if the guys were there yet. I asked the barkeep Sandra if she had seen three cyclist come through. Turns out I did indeed get to the little town before they did. I sat and chatted with her for a bit, then just as I decided to go hang out at the bridge and play some guitar, the guys walked in.

The food was served and the beer did flow!

About the food and the establishment. The beef they use for the burgers are all grass fed. If you don’t know if there is a difference, you should really do a taste test. We had the Parkfield Shakin’ Burger, a chipotle confection, with fries. We also got their home made chili…. Absolutely wonderful foods! If you’re the type that likes to go on adventures and eat really good food, this place must be on your map. They also have a hotel if you decide to make a weekend of it. It is in a very remote area, but civilization in the form of Paso Robles is only about 30 miles away.

We ate and chatted for a while, but time was drawing short. The guys needed to get back on the road so they would get back to the car before it started getting dark. During the conversation, I mentioned that I was going to go down to the bridge that sits over the San Andreas fault, and play a song or two. Sandra asked if would bring the guitar inside and play a few songs. I figured “What the heck. No one is there anyway. How badly could I embarrass myself. As fate would have it, I would do just that in a moment. Before I brought the guitar into the cafe, we went down to bridge to straddle two continental plates.

On the way down, we passed the one school in town, and for some reason, there is a horse skeleton erected right by the children’s playground. Greg was fascinated by it. I thought it was a bit creepy.


OK. So we all hung out at the bridge for a bit, some of us made fools of ourselves….. OK. It was pretty much me making a fool of myself. That’s my “science” voice by the way.

And then they departed for the trip back over the mountain.

After the guys were well out of sight and on their trek, I was walking back to the cafe and I heard in the distance a low but easily recognizable rumble. No, unfortunately it wasn’t an earthquake. It was about 25 motorcycles heading up the road toward the formerly quite little deserted town.

Pretty much all the bikers had gone into the cafe before I walked back in. The place was pretty packed. I wanted to wave goodbye and thank Sandra and company for the hospitality. As soon as I caught her attention and started to say thanks and goodbye, she ask me where my guitar was. I said I thought it was too crowded to play. She said no no bring it and play! I shrugged my shoulders, sad OK, and went out to the car and got the guitar.

I came back in, set up at the table near the door, and started to strum a bit. Though it was loud in the cafe, I never the less played pretty quietly. I had not practiced much in the last couple of weeks on my solo stuff and was not prepared for any kind of show. Keep in mind that my experience playing guitar and being a solo act is at open mic, in front of friends. I figured I’d play a few things quietly and then slink off into the day before anyone even noticed I was there in the first place. The first song I played was Blackbird. I played a couple more, and that would be that. During one, I know I stopped once because I messed up. But, all in all, I was doing OK, though everyone was talking to friends and no one seemed to notice.

I was playing what I thought was going to be my last thing… Then, it happened. A couple were leaving, and as they passed my table, they left a tip!

It caught me completely off guard! In my mind, I was just hacking around and though my presence was oblivious to everyone there. I was just kind of practicing, but in a room full of complete strangers. I was wrong. I started treating it a little more serious. I still kept the volume of my singing low, but the guitaring was done with a little more confidence. I played the Paul Simon song “Me and Julio”, and also played Tim Finn’s “Parihaka” which has been giving me fits just lately. Got through it with only minor errors, things only I would notice. Because I really haven’t been practicing much on my solo stuff, I forgot what songs I even play!

Think Mike Think!

I did “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, but with the new strumming pattern i have been working on. Pulled that off pretty well. Was happy with that one! I played the first two songs I had tried to play on guitar during my very first open mic, “Fragile” by Sting, and another Tim Finn gem called “Persuasion”. It took me a couple of false starts on each as I just couldn’t remember how to play the songs, or what the lyrics were for a moment. But once I started to flow on the songs they came back to me. In retrospect, there are a few more songs I could have played, but I just could think of those songs at all in the spur of the moment… And one of the songs is my own original!

By the time I had gone through about 45 minutes of material, I had gotten a few more tips. They are at the moment sitting in my guitar case. I think I’m going to have to frame one of the dollars as a memento to my first gig as a solo artist.


NOTE:  Here is the map of the route Greg, Patrick, and Ben rode yesterday. As you can see, it was pretty intense.


Not Safe For Work!

Share Button

Again. I warn you.

Not Safe For Work!

I mean it. Really Not Safe For Work!

But I feel compelled to post it!

But, again, Not Safe For Work!

You have been warned.

I Am Free… Upon Further Review.

Share Button

The cool thing about blogging for as long as I have, is that you can go back in time and read a post about your life then and examine what has, and what hasn’t changed.

I wrote this post in September of 2006 about my new found freedom from the pool service industry, because I was going to get my teaching credential and everything was going to change….

Fast forward a half a dozen years. I do have a teaching credential – two, in fact. Yet, what am I about to do as soon as I finish writing this screed???? I’m going to go service a bunch of pools of course!

Life is a bunch of plans interrupted by life, or something like that. I happened to get my teaching credential at the same time that the worlds finances imploded. California was especially hard hit. New teacher hiring ground nearly to a halt. I ended up keeping the pool and spa business, diminished as it was, and waiting the bad times out. Things seem to be heading in the right direction as of late. There is a lot more optimism in the air about hiring new teachers than there has been in the last four years.

My point of this post?

I have no idea. But I do promise not to declare freedom until I actually have it.

OK. I’m off to work.

To Linux, Or Not To Linux?

Share Button

A guy going by the name Neon Frank wrote this in response to a recent article about Linux Mint, the OS that is currently running on the computer I’m using to type this post:

All of you Linux guys…

At one end are the Apple fanbois who pay (much) more to get less and at the antipodal end are you guys, Linux fanbois, who pay nothing to get (much) less. Its a beauty to behold the natural balance in the universe.

Guys, I’m a graphic designer and the software I use every day doesn’t work with Linux no matter how slick it looks. It would be really nice if it did, but it doesn’t. So what’s with the SUV analogy? I’m not a cheap misery bastard who can’t drop what amounts to a pittance on a OS which, OMG, has software which runs on it such as Win7. LOL!

But hey, I’m really impressed that you guys can tweak a buggy printer driver, or have a job for 6 years using nothing but Linux (documents and emails huh?). I’m sure back in the day of DOS your config.sys allocated every single byte of 640k of memory and took hours to write…wait…I’ll bet some of you are still using it too! haha


I’ve been a Linux user and advocate for 13 years. Red Hat 7 was my first distro. I stumbled onto it while working toward a CCNA cert. Back in those days, it was definitely a hobbyist thing. To install it, you had to know exactly which video card, motherboard, cpu, etc. you had and then research to find which driver you would have to enter into the installer command line to get the OS to work….

I use windows for two things, quickbooks for my business, and audio recording. Linux does have some great audio recording software out there, and I would love to use it. But my audio interface is very windows centric and doesn’t play nice with Linux, at least at the moment (the guys at the open source community ffado are back engineering a linux driver for the device).

Neon Frank does have a valid point, that there are certain things you simply can not do with linux, especially if you are tied to a specific piece of hardware or software whose vendor does not share drivers with the open source segment of the market place. If that is the case, you are using either of the main platforms of Windows or OS#.

Linux has come a long LONG way. Now installing is as easy as anything else. I use it for my everyday activities. And this is where NF is in error. Linux is as stable as anything out there. For everyday use, it’s absolutely rock solid… I’m on Linux Mint Debian Edition as I type this in fact. The only time I ever have a problem is when I try and get creating and tweak the system in ways that neither of the two mainstream competitors even allow, as they are closed source. For everyday use, I MUCH PREFER using Linux, as there is much less a concern for trojans and viruses, and again it’s as stable as the other two systems.

BTW. Even though I’m a Linux advocate, I have nothing but kind words for the other OS’s. Apple does UI’s like no other, and windows certainly made the computer very easy to use. Lets face it, without the push of Windows in the last two and 1/2 decades, the advent of the personal computer being a common appliance and vital part of our everyday lives would probably be at least a decade behind what we are used to now.

Guitaring Update.

Share Button

I’m learning a couple of songs… OK, relearning one of them. I have been doing a very simple version of Crowded Houses “Don’t Dream It’s Over” fairly well. A month ago I stumbled upon this vid of My Finn and friends playing the song with a more complicated strumming pattern. I knew there and then that I had to learn this version.

As I was mucking around on the guitar yesterday, I found that I was pretty close to having it down. My right hand still has a couple of hiccups and hesitations on this strumming pattern, but it’s almost there.

The more difficult song I’ve decided to learn is this Paul Simon gem.

It’s getting there, but, as I’ve just started to concentrate on the art of fingerpicking, this one is definitely going to take some time to get down.

Meanwhile, I played at Audies last night with my trio Laurel Canyon. When I got home from Washington on Wednesday, I was already feeling like something was germing me in a bad way. It didn’t disappoint. I felt like total crap the next two days. The big concern was that LC had a gig, the one we played last night, and this bug killed my voice! Even as of yesterday, I still had that very distinct “crud-voice” you get when you’re sick.

Fast forward to last night. My voice made it most of the way. A bit shaky at times. Have to work on “Loves Me Like A Rock” on guitar. Made too many mistakes. But pulled a killer bass solo on “Wooden Ships”. Maybe the best I’ve ever done! Hope we have some video of it.

I also played at Sequoia North with Acoustic Highway… No, that would be Mr fantasy a couple of weeks ago (this venue had not booked us in four years as Ac Hi, when we changed the name to “Mr Fantasy” they booked us right away). While we were there, we met and befriended a couple that was going to get married in a week. They really are an awesome couple, and they inspired me to write a song for them. That got delayed when I had to fly out to Washington to help my mom recover from a nasty fall. Now that I’m back and feeling better, I’m going to be able to finish that song in the next day or two.

Stay tuned.

And They Said Fresno Is Boring!!!!!

Share Button

Hat Tip: Don Ramirez