Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

I really wanted to have a religious photo for our Christmas cards this year, but with my work and band schedules gone all crazy we just didn't have the time to go 'in search of' besides the one trip downtown mentioned in the previous post.
So I rooted around in my big external drive for stuff from years past, knowing that there are more than a few really good ones that have never been shown to anyone.

Lo and behold, the shot I intended to make this year was already in the bag--I had forgotten it. There are two versions from right after Christmas Eve Mass 2011--the other one had the forcus point shifted to the giant crucifix at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, with the tree being blurry. I let Sylvia pick which to use and am very happy with the result.

It's been an amazing year for me.
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be in a position to gift a 47" Vizio TV. (We had decided on 42" but they were all gone, and the bigger one was only $30 more...)
OMG it's HUGE and the most amazing picture anyone has ever seen!
All our friends and family went HD years ago, but since this TV is new and has all the best specs (like 120hz refresh rate) it's picture quality is insane.

When I enable 1080HD on the cable box, we were both stunned. "Look at the blades of grass! Look at the beads of sweat! It's so pretty!"

Sylvia loves it and was completely surprised (she said "What the crap?") but make no mistake--in this house the living room TV is ALL hers until late at night. I didn't buy it for me at all.
Sadly, it's so big that the giant lazy susan I built for our last set doesn't work cuz it can only be rotated a little before hitting a wall, meaning I can't turn it towards the kitchen during dinner or when I'm camped out at the counter fixing stuff or stringing a bass or tuning a trigger.
Looks like I need a smaller flat screen in the dinette running off the splitter I put in the cable (after our DVR so there's no time delay in the sound).
Oh darn! I think a 26" ought to be about right.

This Holiday Season has been such a joy, not stressing about money for gifts and supplies. Despite my hectic schedule I was (mostly) calm and relaxed.
The best part was all the pleasure I got from giving to charity and helping folks spontaneously.

I hope y'all have had a joyous holiday season, too.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

My "Snow Day"

After a wonderful burger (+ tater tots and the namesake "eggs") at Armadillo's on Mc Cullough, we hit the Museum Reach part of the Riverwalk tonight.
Started at the Brooklyn Street locks that raise our barges to the upstream water level, which were all decked out:
There are a pair of convenient restrooms located here plus free parking, so it's a great place to start and end a river visit.

Heading north a little, I found a spot that appealed to me and shot a few more:
A well-lit bike left trails in this long exposure leading to the young lovers.

On this one, a tourist barge left another set of light trails:
I started to wait for a break in the traffic but got frustrated and bailed, which I now regret because this was a good spot and an uncluttered picture would have been nice.
While there was a steady stream of bikes, pedestrians, and barges, it never felt crowded. It's just that when your shutter is open for such long periods of time it's always difficult to catch a break. Such is the nature of shooting at night. Once I get used to doing it again I'll regain my patience, and I can always go back for another shot.

The weather was as perfect as it ever gets, and we soon found ourselves at La Tuna Ice House with cold beers in our hands before closing-out the First Friday activities at the Blue Star Art Complex.

Getting to take the kinds of pictures that I like while spending quality time with Sylvia and enjoying our city's beauty was a real pleasure tonight.
It used to be that having a Friday night show get cancelled on short notice would absolutely ruin my week due to the lost income, but these days I don't need that money and I really don't enjoy staying up for 23 hours straight working two shifts.
I'll get to bed at a reasonable time and try my best to stay there for as long as possible--which is a true luxury. It's a lot like the feeling I used to get when it snowed too much overnight for the school buses to deal with, so when the alarm went off I would listen to the radio as they went down the list of school closings, hoping for the best news a kid could get.

Tonight was actually better than a snow day because I didn't have to spend it alone or trapped in the house.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Night Lights

The Riverwalk's new LED lights aren't all that great in my opinion.
We actually liked the trunk-wrapped look that debuted last year, only to be shot down with howls of outrage.

The new ones return to the draped canopy installation of the past, but aren't very bright and aren't nearly as big as the old tungsten bulbs, so to me it's all compromise and no improvement. I'm glad there's variety around downtown, at least.

After a quick walk around to scope things out, I only shot a few frames from the 6th level of that parking garage between Commerce and Market with the spirals.
Since I used a River shot on last year's Christmas card I plan to go in a different direction for 2012.

Just finished re-stringing a guitar I snagged at a pawnshop yesterday that's destined for a needy family.
Apparently the kids didn't want any presents this year, just a guitar for daddy so he can play and sing to them again.
(I get misty-eyed every single time I tell this story)

The one I picked has some cosmetic damage that looks worse than it is, but that enabled me to get a MUCH more expensive instrument and stay under budget.
Could have easily spent twice as much for a pretty piece of crap, while this one is a real player that just needs some love.
Hope they like it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas Lights Win?

Wasn't trying to do anything more exotic than use my rare half-day-off wisely. Put up the lights on our house, and the tree/snowflake ensemble in the yard.
Everything worked (for a change) and Sylvia was surprised when she turned onto our street and saw it. She said "Awwww" in a very cute way. It wasn't until later that we realized nobody else on our street had beat me to it, (also for a change). A grocery trip yielded only one other house with lights within a mile, so it looks like we won the race this year, if there is a race at all.
Pretty lights! Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Friday, November 09, 2012

New Frontiers

It's never a good thing when your computer monitor suddenly looks like this:
First I tried a new video card, but the machine wouldn't even boot-up so after a couple hours of tinkering I took it in to All Systems Go around the corner from my 'hood. Somehow, I didn't notice all of the exploded capacitors on my motherboard:
It's a wonder my 'puter hadn't turned to stone a long time ago, as this is a serious failure that's been ongoing for many months.

Choice A was buy a "new" computer, and swap-in my hard-drive with OS and all files. Simple, easy, quick, expensive, and I lose my supercool custom tower.

Choice B involved buying eleven replacement capacitors from InterTex (IH10 & Hildebrand) then wrestling the failed ones out with lots of soldering gun and plier action that might destroy nearby components. Oh, and removing the old solder with drill bits that are 1/8th the size of mechanical pencil leads. The easiest part was installing the new caps, followed by pretending to be optimistic.

Surprising everyone except Sylvia, my risky fix actually worked and our computer runs WAY better than it has in a very long time.

$11 was the final price for parts, although I ended up adding some stuff while I was in there and also spent quite a few hours, driving up the total if you want to get nit-picky. It was a great outcome for what I spent, and the experience schooled me good. Do NOT ask me to fix your busted stuff--it'll end up at the bottom of a looong waiting list.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Set My Alarm For Christmas

I could definitely sleep for a few weeks at least.

The Televators show went well enough. Played my new bass the whole night, and loved it. I had been afraid that it's big body would overwhelm me in my emaciated condition, but it doesn't look too bad:
But jeez--I'm swimming in that shirt and my jeans are baggy, too. Need a tailor badly.

Early Voting is a wonderful thing. No crowds, and you can choose the most convenient location. Highly recommended!

This post is coming from my old computer while the new one is in the shop. Hopefully it's just the video card that needs replacing--if it's the motherboard going bad I'll be building a new machine and it won't be cheap.

My truck had been acting up for the past month--stalling at red lights and sometimes in the middle of rush hour traffic, which tends to add stress to your life as it flashes before your eyes. Took it to Bring Your Own Parts on Bandera and they drove it around town for two days and never could get it to act up, which is the way these things always go. After checking for water in the gas tank, fuel pressure, spark, and a few other things they apologized profusely for not fixing it and charged me $80. So far I'm happy with the deal, because in 3 days of heavy driving it hasn't acted up once--not even a hint. Feels like it used to, so it looks like they fixed it much like I fix sound gear. Open things up, push and prod, then re-tighten the nuts. Crossing my fingers...

Did I mention the new camera? Since dropping my Alpha 300 it was never the same. The sensor shifted so far that composing a shot was mostly guesswork and the sharper center of the lens was sending it's info way off to one corner. I got fed-up and ordered a used Alpha 200 body from KEH and it's been great, at a price that's lower than repairing mine would have cost. I'm having some doubts about how the exposure looks on the LCD, but will get it ironed out soon.

Can't believe that the new NBA season starts for the SPURS in less than 24 hours. Going to sit quietly in a dark house and watch the game. Unplugging the doorbell. Yes--I'm bailing on Halloween this year. As much as I love scaring the kids (and parents) there's just no way I can put up the show in time tomorrow. The above list of things plus working 6 days/7 shifts a week killed any chance of it. Despite amazing early tests, I never was able to finalize the design and implementation of my newest scene, either. Oh well, there's always next year... GO SPURS GO!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Impulse Buy?

On a Saturday afternoon way back in early March, we were doing our usual wander around town and stopped in at the pawnshop where I found my 8-string bass. Spotted a rare instrument, this mid-90s Ibanez Iceman Bass:
Always loved the pure RAWK! look of this design so I gave it a quick tumble and was amazed by it's (unplugged) response and sustain. Coincidentally, 43 minutes later I found another one at a funky little shop on N. St. Mary's:
A sign? The 2nd one didn't have any of the pawnshop Iceman's mojo, so it's much higher price wasn't a factor--I couldn't have afforded either one at the time. In late August while on lunch break from work I happened to go back to the same pawn broker and spotted bass #1 again and per standard practice for any item on the shelves for very long, the discount was deep:
Still hadn't caught on... It took another five weeks for me to realize that not only was the deal way too good to pass up, but that constantly looking at these photos for most of 2012 was a sign that part of my brain at least was in love--I just wasn't paying attention. Iceman Bass is on lay-away and I hope to bring it home in time for Televator's next show.
This will be our last live performance of 2012, so if you have nothing better to do, etc.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fruits Of My Labors

Been working at my new day job for 6 weeks. My hours have more than tripled and I just got a 25% raise, so it looks like the boss is happy with my performance. May have to quit the bands someday if this trend continues. Finally had enough cushion in the bank to splurge a little, so I just bought this:
Hated borrowing a different bass amp for every show, and found this Peavey Mark III Bass amp head at Krazy Kat's for the right price. Made in USA in the early 1980s--the golden age of Peaveys for me, although plenty of their newer stuff is even better. Their amps are THE toughest and most reliable ever made by anyone anywhere so even though it's 30+ years old, after I open it up for cleaning and inspection it will have my complete confidence. Sounds just like I expected, too. Works well with my PV speaker cabinet it's sitting on, though I'm going to get another because more = more. It's been decades since I celebrated a New Amp Day, and it feels great. In semi-related news, a product photo I made for my company's listings was quickly promoted to become THE master photo for that item all across Amazon. Lucky or good I don't know, but it's pretty cool. Should have snuck a small ©kak onto it and added my name and this blog's URL into the jpg's exif data. Does anyone know how to make paragraph breaks in the new Blogger interface???

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Truck Song

The singer of my country band wrote and recorded this song recently, and I must say that I'm impressed. Audiences love it, and the recording is super slick and professional. I wish the band was on it instead of studio pros, but using guys from George Strait's band and a few other famous pickers and grinners actually saved money. Added bonus is fiddle and pedal steel, which we don't have. If we can get it on the radio, it'll be a hit--mark my words. Anyone wants a copy, let me know. I can get them autographed, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buyer Beware

Always remember the old saying about deals that sound too good to be true. For example, these Micro SDHC cards say SanDisk 32gb on them:
If that were true, my funky ashtray would be holding a small fortune. But the fact is that these are not only counterfeits in their labelling, all of the ones I've tested don't even work and the few that do reportedly only hold 2 gb. Glad this didn't happen to me--don't let it happen to you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not A Bird

While taking a break just outside our warehouse door it occurred to me that I've been ignoring some fine photo-ops:
Due to the prevailing winds, the majority of landings at SA Int'l pass a little to one side of directly overhead.
To take full advantage I'll need to bring a bigger lens for the small planes, but may be okay with the 50mm for the airliners.
When the technical stuff is nailed down, I'll see what I can do when the weather gets interesting, or at night--maybe keep an ear open for special stuff like when the air shows bring in old warbirds.

Could be fun and interesting.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Moving Forward

Busy week for me, how about you?

Forgot to mention that after two years away I finally wrote another review over at my friend Matthew's site 'thew's
In one of those quirky things, I went from having two guitar tuners that weren't useful in my situation to having two new ones that I really like.
If you know someone who plays, send them a link.

2012 has been an eventful year for me.

For example, after 32+ years in the music business I finally got to spend time in a real pro studio with my band and one of my songs ended up on iTunes.

Then there's the whole thing about me finally stepping foot in a movie theater after 28 years.

The new one is that after concentrating on the music thing exclusively for the past 17 years (photography doesn't really count) I went and got a regular day job last week.
Another Huge change.

I'm offically an executive assistant, but really just a guy who gets the work done.
My boss is an old friend who's business recently outgrew his apartment, so I've been doing a lot of sweating and lifting getting his new office space together plus some plumbing, electrical, and organizational stuff. Learning his biz is educational, and I've been filling orders and testing product too.
Turns out all the arcane knowledge and skills amassed over my life are worth something after all. Already created two new and unique gizmos to make part of my job go faster and be more accurate.

Getting my sleep cycle moved a little closer to normal hasn't been a picnic, but on the plus side in a few days I'll have a checkbook and debit card, so it's a fair trade.

After knowing about the possibility for 3 days I never told Sylvia a thing until the interview was over and I was hired.
It was a nice surprise.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


This photo from last May has been my PC's wallpaper this week:
I'll explain more eventually, IF everything works out.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What Are These?

Spotted these things on the underside of a margarita sweet potato leaf:

A closer view:
The must be eggs from some weird insect, but those stalk deals they are suspended upon is a new one on me.
Never seen or heard of such a thing.
Any ideas?

This was taken at the end of my birthday party last weekend:
That's Pinnacle Atomic Hots cinnamon vodka in them there shot glasses. Good stuff.

Our monkey collection grew to eight today, but I can assure you that they aren't all drunks like these two.


Have you bought a copy of my song Milk Run by Televators from iTunes yet?
99 cents is a good deal since it's like 7 minutes long.
At least 17 people from around the world LOVE my bass playing on this song--you will, too.

(It's also available from just about every other similar music site)

I need your pennies to feed my family and buy beer, so please download your copy today.
Thank you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Up To My Elbows In Oil

Sylvia got me a nice set of gunsmith screwdriver bits for my birthday, so I was finally ready to tackle this project.
The rifle I'm working on was featured in this post, and it's one of my favorite stories on this blog while also explaining why I didn't want to mess up any screw heads with whatever screwdrivers I had lying around. Gun screws are kinda special, and to do good work you use the right tools for the job.

After removing the action from the stock it turned out that the barrel came unscrewed from the receiver rather easily, which made it way more convenient to deal with the trouble area without 26" and 6 pounds of steel hanging off the end.
Like I figured for a gun from the early 1960s, the trigger was a Timney Sportsman fully adjustable single stage. They still make the same model today.
On mine the sear was locked in place, probably from ancient oils gone gummy.
Some spray cleaner, a little manual activation of the affected part, repeat a few dozen times, then a touch of BreakFree CLP completed the fix.
Just like new 3-lb. crisp trigger ready to go. Sweet!

Next step will be removing the Weaver scope bases to clean underneath, then add LocTite before torquing them down to the recommended specs.
A little polishing on the bolt handle and extractor is in order to get some rust off and make them purty. May want to go the extra mile and get some custom etching done to honor my father's memory and service.

The bore is mirror-bright and the lands are sharp, so a little touch-up on the bluing is all that's needed before reinstalling the barrel.

The scope is a tragically obsolete 4x Weaver--although it was the go-to model back in the day a 300+ yard cartridge deserves at least 12x magnification and a much larger objective lens for more light, not to mention modern lens design and coatings. Target turrets, adjustable objective for parallax control, illuminated mil-dot reticle, bells, whistles.
I have a few specific scopes in mind, but affording one is the problem.

But the plan is to shoot the rifle in original configuration after I finish going over every inch. I want to see what my Dad created for himself with the parts and ideas available at the time. Right now I'm just trying to get it back to original condition, before my uncle and cousin used it during the intervening 46 years.

After that, I doubt I'll keep the original wood stock.
The inside surface is kinda gooey, not sure why.
Buttpad has hardened and cracked and looks like crap.
All of my other rifles have synthetic stocks including an M1 Carbine from World War II which is almost 70 years old but looks like a new modern gun after I got through with it. But I've been looking for a wood stock project for a long time and this is definitely it. Shaving and sanding and fitting and finishing the wood appeals to me, as these are skills that directly translate to making my own bass guitar someday.

Just like my Dad did, I want to spend the time and effort to make this gun as perfect for me now as it was for him back then.
Amateur gunsmithing is probably the only passion we share.
It's interesting that the same hobby grabbed us both so strongly, much like my brother shares his love for anything that flies. Once I was old enough to wonder about my father, when I would ask people what he was like the term "Gun Nut" was usually in the first sentence of their reply. I'm glad we have something in common.

Pretty sure my music career would have driven him insane, just as his love for French culture and crappy obscure cars like Ramblers and Simkas would have brought out my worst side.
Had he lived longer, I'm sure guns would have been the one subject that could always bridge whatever divide we were dealing with, and kept the lines of communication open.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fawns And Stuff

Spotted in a neighbor's front yard recently:

Judging by size I guess they were born in the most recent batch.
Taller than cats, but not by a whole lot.

While daytime deer sightings are common, unguarded babies are another story.

If they are munching people's gardening they're obviously weaned and mama must have decided it was time to boot them out of the nest:
Too bad mama didn't school them on the dangers of the 'hood.
I was doing yard stuff, then creeping close for pictures, and the expected fear response never kicked-in.
Kinda worried about these little guys...

While navigating Blogger to make this post I noticed something odd on top of my dashboard:
I cropped it tight, but this is actual size.
WTF does it say?

Let's crank up the browser's magnification to 300% and see if it's legible:
I hate the new Blogger interface.
It reminds me of the time I tried using Wordpress--not a good experience and I never could get either one to work in a logical or error-free manner.

Hopefully the bugs have been killed by now.

Friday, July 20, 2012

There Be Dragons...

A cool green dragonfly on my jalapeno plants.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July Happenings

This would have been a typical photo for Zzakk's Garage.

If you're seeing a new header on top, this is where I got it:
A Beautiful Mess was at Luensmann's Ice House in New Berlin last week. Great show, nice post-rain clouds and puddles.
Another phone-cam pic.
I'm getting lazy, and actually look forward to our next free phone upgrade as much for the camera as anything else. They are getting better all the time, and you can't beat the convenience.

Here's A Milestone For You

You would have to know me pretty well to get the significance.
It's HUGE.






I Went To The Movies!

One day in the middle of living life I suddenly realized it had been over a dozen years since I had stepped foot in a theater. Years later at a party someone was yapping about films and asked me what I had seen last, and the shocked reaction was kinda fun.
Then it got past 20 years and I thought maybe a quarter century was a good place to finally give in and end the run. It wasn't fair to Sylvia, cutting out a way to spend time together.

Problem was, I had decided that it would have to be a very special movie to get me to put up with all the downsides I remembered from my youth, and NOTHING looked good enough to be worthy. Came close to choosing that Dukes Of Hazzard remake with Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson just for the irony and shock value, but I was quickly getting good results with my friends just from threatening such an act.

And before you know it we're talking 28 years.
Last time I went to the movies was in 1984, and it was freaking Purple Rain at Ingram Park Mall.
How do you beat that for a story you're going to have to tell a LOT?


Maybe it was subliminal since that's my Dad's name, but seriously the first full-length feature film by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane that's full of F-bombs and bong-hits sounded like a resolution that'll crack me up while helping my street cred.
The very early "restricted" trailers a few months ago had convinced me within seconds, so I made it known expecting to get held to my promise this time.
We went to Santikos Silverado tonight, and it was freakin' awesome.

More leg-room, unsticky floors, reclining chairs, great sound, and flawless digital projection?
Nobody trying to stab me afterwards?
I was more impressed than I thought I would be by the theater experience.

Obviously it hasn't escaped my attention over the years that the tech has gone WAY up, but as someone who's been away forever I have to admit that the overall experience was much better than expected. Part of that falls on the shoulders of our fellow audience members, who didn't suck at all. And the movie was hilarious. I'm really glad I saw this before it trickled-down to my usual free or $4 pawnshop system.

Just in case you missed the 1970s and '80s, we used to smoke up a storm and drink as many snuck-in beers as possible back then. Bottles rolling down the slope...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good Show

I have no idea who this guy is: He came up to the stage and asked for a birthday song, so I called him up and I think everyone in the club expected Becky to sing to him.
She handed him the mic and went to the bar, then the ladies room.
Birthday boy was stunned for all of 3 seconds, then started singing some old song--Janis Joplin maybe?--and then David, Jaime and I figured it out on the fly.

Probably my favorite pic of me in a long time, holding down the groove with our giant robot of drums, Jaime Flores: It was a great show, from all reports.

I know that in terms of bass tone and playing, it was by far my favorite.
Having new strings, a new tuner, new main cable, and an amp rig that I could trust and tweak for two weeks prior all made a huge difference in my comfort level.
Exhausted, sweaty, dirty, but fairly happy right now.
Too bad I have to get up in 5 hours and do an early outdoor show with A Beautiful Mess at Trader's Village Flea Market...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"The New Phonebooks Are Here!"

Actually, this is even better:

Televators first release is now available world-wide on iTunes.

I haven't heard this final mastering of Milk Run yet, but am confident that it sounds great based on earlier mixes--I mean, how bad can someone screw up my masterpiece?
(Don't answer that)

If you hate Apple or just don't have an iTunes account we'll be releasing our stuff on several other online outlets soon, or you could just show up at our next show:

Televators will hit the stage around 11:30pm to perform all of our original songs plus a few select covers.
We'll also play the official release of Milk Run nice and loud over the PA system during the intermission between bands.

It's a funny thing--in your head you picture some kind of dramatic setting when important news arrives, just like in the movies.

Got the call to join Televators while browsing kitchen utensils and picture frames at a local ROSS store.
The text re: producer Lee Popa wanting to make us famous came while running sound at a flea market on a cold Sunday morning.
Found out about iTunes in a text while buying crappy spare batteries and a shortass roll of duct tape from Dollar Tree.

I mean, it's such an incredible feeling when a song you wrote is suddenly rubbing shoulders with the greats (and not-greats) in the best-known online music marketplace...tingles and tears describes it nicely...but there's no lucky coincidental fireworks when you walk into HEB afterwards, or then go home to do the dishes and clean the stove.

Maybe IF I ever get to hear my music on the radio or TV, it'll happen in some kind of Hollywood universe where I'm surrounded by people who give a shit?


Nothing ever happens in real-life the way it's portrayed in the movies.
Except for Spinal Tap.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trailers And Amps

Ever have one of those weeks when it seems like everything is a little off?


Coming home from a show in Kerrville in the wee hours of last Saturday morning, everything was fine.
Just two band brothers yapping about The Spurs and music and such while dragging a heavy trailer up those damned hills on IH10.
I pulled up in front of our house, unloaded my personal gear, and bid my boss good night.
Some time later he called with the news that the trailer's axle had parted company with the suspension in a most catastrophic fashion and asked my advice on what he might do about it:
Being late, I was tired and a bit in my cups, so I wasn't particularly helpful.
He was only a mile from his house, but had to call a tow truck to get the trailer the rest of the way.

The tire grabbed the fender and folded it up rather well while also shredding.

Somehow, the other fender sustained damage as well.
I'm just glad it didn't happen while I was driving in the middle of Nowhere, Texas.
We had to split the gear between our pickups for the next gig, which luckily was a private party that didn't require all of it.

He bought a new (used) trailer today that's a bit bigger in every dimension but height (to fit his garage) so the good news is more space for more stuff.
Bad news is I'm still going to hit my head at least twice a week for the next few years.


By my count I have used at least six different amp/speaker combinations since I started playing bass a couple years ago, first with Loud Nine and now for Televators. It gets old pretty fast, borrowing stuff and never getting the chance to settle on ONE amp rig that you can get used-to and fine-tune over time.
If I wasn't a sound expert I think I would have gone insane, but luckily it's fairly easy for me to get wildly different products to do what I need them to do.
Doesn't mean I like this situation--it really blows and I hate it.

A big step forward was buying a Peavey bass speaker cabinet from my friend Buz.
It was part of the rig I used with great success in the studio two months ago.
Still need to pay him for it...

While working up amp situation #7 this week I took a peek in the rear port of the cabinet and spotted this:
Never seen such a thing--a bottle of something was neatly wedged between the frame and cone of a speaker.

Mickey Mouse Shampoo & Conditioner.
The kind you find in your hotel room at Epcot Center or Disneyland I suppose.
Buz had zero idea where it came from or how it got there.
And yes, it's location will have an effect on the sound but with the other 3 speakers involved it would be hard to notice, even for an "expert" like myself.

It took a while for me to take a hard look at the bass amp that's been sitting in Bex Televator's practice room, rather than treating it like a carpet-covered nuisance that's only good for banging my knees and holding up my soda and camera bag. When I finally had no choice but to use the thing there were issues with random volume drops, so I brought the sucker home and took it apart.
As I suspected there were some cracked solder joints on the input jack, and a couple more on one of the power transistors.
Fixed in mere minutes thanks to the best invention in recent years--the cordless drill/screwdriver. (Mine is a 24-volt Black & Decker we got at Target for a mere $36 with many accessories).

As it turns out, for a basic "practice" combo amp it has WAY more features than usual.
In fact, it's preamp section is a near clone of the one Buz let me use in the studio minus the tube section--it's all solid-state circuitry. Good thing I have a tube preamp/direct box to put in front of it for some old-school tone through the amp and also sent to the PA system.
I did a bunch of stuff to the 4x10" cabinet, including the addition of a big metal 1970's vintage Peavey logo and removing the casters so it'll stack nicely. Not done yet, but getting close.

Used this rig at practice tonight and we all agreed is sounded fine.
I'll be using it for the next Televator's show, June 23rd at Charlie Brown's on Starcrest. Hope to see some of you there.

This doesn't change anything. I still NEED a complete bass amp system of my own.
I've selected the specific items I want, and it's going to sound way better than rigs costing 3x as much.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Crops Are In--Spurs Are Out

Since moving back to the suburbs I've grown a lot of peppers in my own lazy way.
I found chiltepins growing in the alley, grew a small bush from those seeds plus one from seeds I got from Sylvia's Dad. Still have them both, producing major heat in convenient little packages.
Then jalapenos for a season, followed by those big Anaheim chilis, serranos, and finally banana peppers. Last year I gave up on seeds and mild off-brands and went back to basics with some jalapeno seedlings from HoDep.

I've kept my biggest pot of last year's 'penos, but improved results for this season by planting in the (modified) plastic liner from a half whiskey barrel. All I know is that it took a lot of Miracle Grow soil and is much deeper than anything I've used before.
The results are spectacular.
Never seen leaves so big, plants so tall, or peppers so plentiful. And they grew faster than ever before.

And what peppers they are!
Smooth perfect skins, rich colors, better flavor than any store-boughts, and hot enough for the whole familia.

All I know are the basics: good soil that's as deep as possible and drains well, the right amount of sunlight, lots of water, and some wood mulch on top to protect the roots and dirt. I probably put more effort into meeting the sys-req's for zero $$$ each year than trying to get the best results.

Over the winter months I made mucho progress with my salsa recipe, and the general consensus is that someyear I might beat a mentionable percentage of the stuff in jars and local restaurants. Having fresh jalapenos and the hotter little ones right outside the door makes sense, and it's a nice dream to think of growing ALL my own ingredients someday.

Congrats to the OKC Thunder.
They whipped us fair and square.
Hope they uphold the Western Conference standards and demolish whatever team survives from the East.
LeBron still hasn't proven to me that he deserves a ring, and I would hate to see that loudmouth KG get one this year.
Like everyone else in SA I'm walking wounded, going through the motions and trying to keep myself distracted from the pain of what just happened.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Most Unexpected

Why won't my snake eat???
She's been extremely active lately, as in climbing and cruising all around her tank 24-7 for weeks. You would think all that exercise burns enough calories to make a snake powerful hungry, but there are two mice living in our garage that prove otherwise.

When the timer tripped and lit up her tank the other day, I looked over my shoulder and it took me quite awhile to process what I was seeing:
Snake eggs!
And smaller orange not snake eggs...

Poor girl was exhausted from pushing them out and didn't move a muscle for over 24 hours. Yesterday I was able to harvest them, and clean 'em up for a portrait:

After Googling for a few minutes I found out that it's normal for a captive female corn snake (and other species) to lay eggs and "slugs" without ever coming into contact with a suitable male during breeding season.
Last year at this time Candy was just as active and uninterested in food but didn't push out any weird stuff, although I suspected that her behavior was mating related. She was already an adult when I found her 5 years ago so it's odd that all of a sudden this stuff happens.

Over the next year I might try to find someone local with a suitable male who's interested in breeding. Hopefully I can find a male with normal corn snake colors, since the plethora of selective-bred fancy colors don't interest me as much--Candy being the exception because she's mine and oh so sweet.
I once built an incubator on the fly with stuff laying around the house when a lizard someone gave me dumped a clutch of eggs, and successfully hatched a half dozen babies 2 months later. No reason I couldn't do it again but much better with minimal investment.

When I get the time for dissection, we'll see if there's anything inside these eggs and slugs worth seeing.