Sunday, August 25, 2013

That was the year

I originally had the idea for a blog titled "that was the week".  OK I totally admit to stealing that title from Keith Eckstein who used to do weekly roundups on his old blog A Taste of Garlic. On an unrelated note to this post Keith has a new blog about his new life over at http://www.huelgoatdiary.com/. Anyway, I planned the post to be about what happened to me during the week. Seeing how boring my life is I decided to just talk about what I really wanted to talk about.

That was the Year

Almost a year ago to the day my Dad took his first of several trips to the hospital. Thus began a eight month saga.  During this time he made several trips to the ICU and spent his time in an assisted living facility (ie nursing home). I prayed. I hoped. I kept the phone with me always and tried to be prepared to hear the worst news.  If a weekend went by and I couldn't get up to see him I felt worried. Thankfully he is back home now.

About this time last year my own health problems started.  I postponed going to the doctor for months as the situation with my Dad developed.   I finally did go to the doctor and got a diagnoses. While annoying in that it takes a long time to cure, it is not life threatening and trust me I had all sorts of horrible diseases going through my head. Funny enough not the one I was diagnosed with.  I had never even knew it was thing.  

Early in the year mine and my Dad's health problems conspired to give me a horrible case of insomnia. It lasted for months.  For three or four days I would get about 4 hours of sleep and then finally my body couldn't take it anymore and I would crash for several hours.  I spent most lunch hours curled under my desk napping just to make it through the day.  This insomnia was a very odd one.  I would go to bed and fall right asleep but wake up three or so hours later. I was awake but things weren't right.  I just lay in bed with my mind just spinning like a train on greased tracks.  I remember that during march madness my mind would be playing basketball games in my head.  The insomnia ended suddenly.  It stopped after the first time I went home and saw my Dad back at home where he belongs.  

All in all, it has probably been the worst twelve months of my life. I am not saying this to get pity or have people feel bad for me.  I am not really down about it. It isn't really in my personality to get depressed about things.  That only makes them worse.  I am more hopeful than I am down about what has happened.  It is what it is. It's life. You move forward when you can. We have not been promised easy lives. Anyone who tells you life can be easy is trying to sell you something. 

Oh and just for fun, I got a letter form the IRS a week ago saying I owe them $1400.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Seeing Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus part deux

The Venue: 

river edge park
From the attendee standpoint  RiverEdge Park provides a good listening experience. I don't know the capacity of the park but it seemed to hold a good amount of people. As I mentioned in the previous post about the concert, the park doesn't have seating you either have to bring your own chair or blanket. The place is really divided into two sections.  A large area near the stage is separated from another large grassy area farther back. We sat in the grass back area.  As you can see from the picture the stage is pretty far away. From a see the performance perspective there is a lot to be desired. The sound on the other hand was excellent.  They have a lot of good quality speakers placed around the venue. So even if you end up way back you can enjoy the show.

I am intrigued how the performers perceived the venue. How much audience reaction could the get? A lot of people pressed near the stage.  The performers seemed to do a lot o interacting with them so maybe the interaction level was fine.  But anything we screamed or yelled just go lost into all that open air.


Sonny Landreth the best guitarist you've never heard of

I had never heard of Sonny Landreth until I decided to go to this concert. He provided the opening act and played for about thirty minutes. That man can rock. I didn't know any of the songs but he played with a lot of energy and got the crowd ready for the night. After the concert I looked up some of his music on spotify. I hate to admit but his recorded stuff did not have the pure energy of the live performance. If you get a chance to see Sonny Landreth live I highly recommend it.



An 87 year old diabetic blues player flirts with young women


bb king
The main reason I wanted to go to this concert was to see B.B. King. I had heard that his latest performances hadn't been very good. I mean the man is 87. Having been a fan of his almost all my life I knew I wanted to see him before he is gone. His band of about eight guys opened up with a several minute long instrumental that got the place jumping. With much fanfare they announced the arrival of the man himself. About five minutes later B.B. King had managed to make it onto the stage and into his seat. Over the next hour I think he might have performed four songs. Except for the last song I don't even remember what ones he performed. He spent most of the time rambling to the front row. For the final song he brought on Peter Frampton to help. Thus began an at least twenty minute long rendition of The Thrill is Gone. BB played the guitar a bit and belted out the chorus about four times. He spent most of the twenty minutes hitting on the women in the front. He joked to the boyfriends that he had a knife. At the end of the twenty minutes he waddled off.



Now reading this it probably sounds like a horrible performance. I loved it. BB was very entertaining and self effacing throughout. He had me laughing many times. I think he realizes he can't really play or sing the way he used to so he has found another way to entertain the audience.

Peter Frampton sings  the 3 of his songs you actually know



Peter Frampton closed out the night with a long performance. He started a little flat to me. The first three or four songs I had never heard before and couldn't really get into them. He then did Show Me the Way and the place went nuts. The show picked up from then. As part of it being called Guitar Circus, Peter includes two other guitar artists in his performance. The first guest guitarist was Larry Carlton. I had never heard of Larry Carlton either. The two of them jammed out for a couple of songs. Peter then brought out his son to provide some vocals. I assume Peter can't hit some of those notes anymore. They performed the other two Frampton songs you've heard, Baby I love your way and Do you feel like we do. It was time for the second guest guitarist and it was Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. They rocked a version of Surrender. Another high point was a great instrumental version of Black Hole Sun with the vocals being provided by Frampton's guitar.





Overall it was a great night. The night ended as it should have, we got lost on the way home.



A biker a jerk and self delusion

Just witnessed something interesting. A multi use path runs near my house. People walk their dogs, jog, and a lot of bikers use it. Out for a walk this morning I notice that a group of 4 or 5 people are just stopped  in the path having a  conversation. They weren't being totally obnoxious but they were blocking some of the path.  I thought, this is gonna be good. We get some of those serious cyclists who think they are in the Tour De France. And as is widely known cyclists can be some of the most self centered jerks when on their bikes. I imagined we would  soon see the clash of the  jerks. 

Shortly after I passed them it happened.  I heard a commotion and turned to see a cyclist and one of the people screaming at each other.  I just laughed and was happy no one got hurt.

I did think it odd that the one yelling an cursing the loudest was the man standing on the path.  He was the one in the wrong.  The cyclist had every right to ride down the path.   I wonder if he reacted so angrily because he knew he was in the wrong or was he really so self delusional not to know.  I imagine him sitting in his house right now realizing he was the one wrong in the situation. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard's ten rules for writing.

Prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard died today. I haven't really read him if I recall correctly but I do like his ten rules for writing:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Seeing Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus

This post has many possible sub titles:

  • How I spent half the day angry at everyone
  • Construction season in Illinois' guide to anger and rage
  • How to be late for a concert
  • Sonny Landreth the best guitarist you've never heard of
  • An 87 year old diabetic blues player flirts with young women.
  • Peter Frampton sings  the 3 of his songs you actually know
  • Optional serious note.

This past friday I had tickets to see Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus at the RiverEdge Park in Aurora Illinois. The venue doesn't have any seating and you have to bring your own chairs. Sadly there won't be many pictures. They didn't allow cameras into the venue and I was far away for my phone. 

How I spent half the day angry at everyone:

The trip from where I live in the middle of cornfieldonia in central Illionis to Aurora usually takes me about 2:30 hours. Most of the route follows the interstates. Being a regular working schlub I had gotten permission to take a half day. I work in a small team that just recently added a fourth person.  The same day of the concert my boss and the senior programmer would both be at a conference.  So the new guy knew it would be the first time he would be helming the ship by himself.  It is friday afternoon, a time when very little happens.

Friday morning I arrived at work and started fixing something that had broken. I noticed that the new guy wasn't there. No problems he knew he had to be there.  I watched the hours drop by.  It hit noon. I was annoyed and had no clue what was going on. If the new guy was out I would deal and just miss the concert.  I had not received an email or any info.  I texted my boss. No response.  Finally I looked the window at 12:30 and saw him coming into the building.

Being the very organized kind of person I am, I jumped in my car and started.  Just kidding. I lollygagged around eating lunch and wasted time. I realized it was 2:30 and I needed to leave to arrive on time. Remember the info bit above about needing to bring your own chair? Well ten minutes down the road I realized I didn't have my chair with me. I grumbled and turned around. Back on the road I tried to make up time.  Illinois conspired against me. It was construction season. The road narrowed to one lane and my speed dropped.  About five miles later, the road opened up and I sped, well as fast as a Ford Fiesta can speed, toward my goal.  A  couple of miles later I saw the sign, "Right lane closed in 2 miles".  "Again", I growled.  Thus my journey slowed. I ran into four spots where the road narrowed to one lane and the traffic sowed. Near the end of my journey on the interstate the traffic finally sped up  and I started making time.  Unfortunately the delays meant I arrived at the surface streets just during rush hour.  Time after time I ended up stopped at a green light. Yes I said green light. The light would be green and we didn't move.  I started yelling at the cars and the lights.  I arrived at my destination only  forty minutes late.  My friend usdrove to the concert venue but we kept getting stuck in slow traffic.Much synchronized cursing of the cars, the lights, the city planners, and Peter Frampton himself.

We arrived at the venue to find a chaotic mess.  They charged people to park but didn't keep track of how many people where parking.   Luckily we found a space and headed toward the park. At the door the nice security man informed us of no cameras.  I didn't have a camera but my friend did.  She angrily tromped off back to the car to put the camera away.

After a somewhat long wait, she came through the gates.  She told me that everything in the parking lot was going crazy.  People had called the police trying to get their money back from the parking people.

Despite all this we made the start of the concert.

I realized how long this has grown and my battery is about to die so I will finish the rest of the story in another post. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Monday: I Am Not Lefthanded - Lifelines (live, acoustic)


A hypochondriac with a long term health issue walks into a bar

I admit there will be no bars in this post.  I may have mentioned it in an earlier post but I am a hypochondriac. I also don't like going to doctors which makes for an odd combination. Under normal circumstances it is annoying if easy to deal with. Get a rash and run to the internet to find the worst possible diagnoses ever.  A headache is obviously a tumor. I once convinced myself that I had one of the rarest forms of cancer known. TMI(turned out I was constipated)

When I am actually suffering from a medical condition the ol' hypochondria can kick into overdrive. I am in treatment for a long term health issue. No I won't tell you what it is.  If you should know you probably already do. It is six months since I was diagnosed.  My doctor cheered me up by telling me he had the same thing and it took two years for it to clear up. Thanks doc.

Like with many long term health issues, mine ebbs and flows. Sometimes I am symptom free, and other times it gets worse. When the symptoms get worse in walks our good friend, hypochondria. "Dude that doctor is probably a quack.  You really should search the internet for horrible diseases to self diagnose."  "You should really alter the medication you are taking."  The slightest twinge of pain or discomfort causes concern.  Back or neck hurts slightly.  "You didn't sleep wrong. You are riddled with disease that will not be treatable."

I have found a few good ways to deal with Mr. Hypochondriac.  Go out, find some friends, and have some fun.  It also helps to watch/listen to something light that makes you laugh. I have been getting a lot of traction from an old podcast that started in 2006. The Katia and Kyliemac podcast was ostensibly about their lives in France but is mostly just a funny and hilarious bit of banter. It ran for about six years before sadly shutting down last year.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The night I had to watch Jobu for a concussion.

 Jobu and I  like to play the "runny chase game".   Jobu "hides" somewhere in plain sight and crouches down in ready mode. I run up behind him and he sprints into the bedroom or across the living room.  I chase him and when I get close I turn around and he chases after me.

The other night Jobu was in a particularly playful mood. He ran from room to room, playing with his toys. We were playing the runny chase game and Jobu ran into the unlit bedroom.  I ran after him and just as I got to the door he decided to sprint out of the room at full speed.  It was dark in there so I am not actually certain what happened. Just as I ran into the room I felt fur between my legs.  I tried to shift my leg out of the way so he wouldn't run into me then WHACK!!!!!.  It felt like someone took a baseball bat to my ankle.  I went down in a heap and Jobu ran into the living room. I crawled out of the bedroom saying "Are you ok Jobu? Are you ok Jobu?"

He took a few steps and then shook his little fuzzy head around.  Then he took a few more steps and shook his head again.  I started petting him and asked if he had a kitteh concussion.  He seemed fine.  I told him, "not much in your skull to hurt."   At that point I suddenly realized how much my leg hurt.  I iced my leg and checked up on Jobu a few times during the night just to make sure he was doing ok.  This wasn't he first time he has ran his head full speed into something hard.  He isn't very bright.

I am happy to report Jobu is fine and I now have a nasty bruise cat head high on my leg :)