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Showing posts from 2009

Holiday Season 2009

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And so the Holiday season is upon us and for me, not being a Black Friday shopper, it begins today. The George Maurer Trio is heading for Crosby, MN tonight for a gig entertaining the local hospital staff, we stay overnight and then head for Roseau, MN in the morning for a nearly identical gig entertaining the staff of their hospital. If you didn't look at the map, Roseau is a mere 9 miles from Canada in mid-western Minnesota and the route from Crosby to Roseau takes around 6-1/2 hours. The drive back to St. Cloud on Monday morning will take around 7-8 hours. There goes working on Monday.

Tuesday (12/8) sees me playing holiday music with Andrew Walesch, a talented young singer who is out pimping his new holiday CD. We play two shows, one at 2 PM and one at 7:30 PM.

Thursday (12/10) is a private party for General Mills at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis.

Saturday (12/13) is a concert at St. Edwards Catholic Church (I'd link to their site, but it's a piece of crap) in Princ…

New Vehicle!!

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Well, I was able to do it, I got a new car for the business. It's a 2006 Chevy HHR, it has plenty of cargo space and it drives like a dream. My landlord and friend, Randy, was able to get me a screaming good deal, the bank was able to swing it through my existing loan without changing what we're already paying ($8 more per month) and it all took less time than I thought it would.

Special thanks go out to Kate for allowing me to use her car to get around while we worked everything out! Kate rocks!

This is by far the newest vehicle I've ever owned and I plan on driving it until it doesn't go anymore.

Gosh! How exciting!

The Demise of the 92 Ford Tempo

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My car's transmission has started slipping in and out of consciousness. The other day it suddenly shifted into second while I was going 30 mph. I was only two blocks from my destination so I babied it into the parking lot and turned it off. When I got back it drove and shifted just fine. I added a couple of quarts of transmission fluid because it has had a slow leak since I got it in December of 2007 and I haven't had the time or money to fix it. That usually does the trick.

Today I got to work just fine. When I went to run an errand the speedometer read "0" and the car wouldn't shift out of second. Again, I babied it to my destination hoping that maybe things would clear up when the engine got warm. Nope. First gear all the way back to my shop.

I decided the best thing to do would be to baby it all the way home and park it in the driveway. It shifted just fine for the first six blocks until I got to a red light, once it turned green I was stuck back in first. I d…

Holy Soap!

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The date was Sunday, July 9, 2006, the trio had a gig at a festival held at Phelps Mill near Fergus Falls, MN. It was a great day! We played well and we got to jump off the old bridge and swim in the river. At some point during the day I bought a three-pack of oatmeal soap from one of the vendors, expecting to use it in the shower.

Unfortunately, it contained perfume and I don't like using perfumed soaps, so the three balls of soap about the size of billiard balls got relegated to hand soap. I've used it daily since and -- I just used the last of it this morning. That's practically 3-1/4 years!

My hat is off to the lady who made that soap!

It's All Gonna Burn!

Kate & I were sitting in the living room talking, commenting on how much noise there is in the neighborhood since the college kids moved back into town, when we heard a guy a little too close for comfort yelling, "It's all gonna burn!" We both stood up when we realized that the dude was in my yard, we got to the kitchen when we realized that he was mounting the steps to the back door. Kate got behind me as he started pounding on the screen door, the main door was open, since it was a nice night and I went to close and lock it when dude opened the screen door and started to come into my house! I headed him off and asked him what his problem was.

"It's all gonna fuckin' burn," he repeated as he pointed vaguely in the direction of my yard, or the alley, or the garage -- it was hard to tell. I looked out to make sure nothing was on fire.

"Why don't you just get out of here?" I suggested.

"It's gonna burn, it's all gonna burn!&qu…

Stress in My Workplace

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A couple of weeks ago I was cooling a batch of Nicaraguan Organic when I heard a loud CLUNK! come from my coffee roaster (the Probat L12 pictured above), I ran into the roasting room from my office to discover that the main drive wheel in the back of the machine, also known as the "idler wheel," had snapped off at its shaft where it connects to the machine's body. I knew what had happened before I looked because it had happened before back when we first moved into our current location about three years ago.

A call to Probat down in Tennessee, an overnight package, $180 and a few hours of tricky labor and we were back up and running. 

The machine was making a particular rhythmic throbbing sound just before the part snapped, and after the repair it is still making a similar sound. I am waiting -- half-expecting it to snap off again at any second. I am under a kind of stress that I've never been under in over 15 years of coffee roasting, and it's taking a physical to…

Playing for Lawyers

We were supposed to leave St. Joe at 3:15 PM, that would have gotten us to the Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, MN and set up with plenty of time to spare. George took the Tahoe full of sound gear and offered Jeff and I the chance to drive his Camero -- and who would pass up a chance like that?

It took some doing, but we got our gear into the tiny, little trunk and practically non-existent back seat area -- we had to put the top down to get Jeff's bass amp in the the back, but everything fit snugly and we were ready to go. Jeff ran into the coffee shop to get an iced latte for the road, when he got back to the car he was on the phone.

"Take everything out of the Camero and put it in my car," he said, "we have to go back to St. Cloud to pick up the lights."

So down came the top again, and out came our gear which we quickly loaded into Jeff's mini-station wagon. We drove to the roastery in St. Cloud, where we store most of our gear, picked up the lights and were…

Why The Hell Do I Care What Some Idiot From Florida Thinks?

I post frequently at a couple of online forums. Most of the talk is about Macintosh computers, at least that's the major reason the sites exist, but there are sections that talk about politics, society and other decidedly non-computer related subjects.

There is a guy who lives in Florida who first came to my attention when, at age 20 he claimed that the 21 year old drinking age was nothing short of discrimination and that as a legally under-aged person he was being subjected to Draconian laws specifically designed to keep him and other under-aged people under the thumb of The Man. He went so far as to say that he knew what "real oppression" was all about.

I found that statement to be patently offensive. I can't see how any logical thinking person could equate drinking laws with the Nazi persecution of Jews or the Jim Crow laws of the United States. You can't drink a beer, boo hoo. That changes as soon as you're 21. Jews couldn't own property or businesses,…

How I Learned to Drink Tequila

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My friend Chuck loves tequila. During trivia one year, he drank one shot per hour for the whole 50 hours, he said after a while he didn't get any more drunk, he just leveled off. I, on the other hand, don't like tequilla so much, I find the taste to be somewhat unpalatable, but I think the same thing about J├Ągermeister and drink it anyway.

Only once did I ever have a truly exceptional tequila. My friend Jeff had been in the wedding party of a college friend who married a Mexican girl whose family business was making the stuff and each of the groomsmen received a silver hip flask filled with the family's private reserve. That stuff tasted like ambrosia! It was smooth and delicious, there was no need to pollute the taste with salt and lime. If I could get a hold of some of that again I would do so gladly.

Back to Chuck. For several years in a row he would show up at my birthday party with his bottle of tequila in hand and would insist that I do a shot with him. I hated it and …

The Bob Hope Story

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This has to have been almost 20 years ago now, it was a whole career ago for me and I was still driving a delivery van for the St. Cloud Times so I'd have to put it in the early 90s, I got a call from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to play a "pick up" gig in Montevideo, MN backing up Bob Hope. Who wouldn't say yes to that?

A whole bunch of us from St. Cloud piled into a van and drove there for an afternoon rehearsal led by Mr. Hope's musical director named Jeff. We only saw Mr. hope for a few moments at the end of the rehearsal to run a gag he'd do during the song Buttons and Bows.



As Music Director Jeff explained it, the gag went like this: the band would kick into Buttons & Bows and vamp the first four measures while Bob would talk to the audience, Bob would then cut off the band, tell a joke and count the band off again. This would happen as many times as Bob saw fit, and then he'd continue with the song. Near the end of the song there was anoth…

Itasca State Park - June 2009

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My Itasca State Park trip didn't start the way I wanted it to. I got up and cleaned the house as planned, took care of the cat box, recycling, got the garbage out to the alley and just needed to run a few errands in order to be out of town by 1 or 1:30.

I gassed up my car, took it in for an oil change, ran to the roastery to pick up a few essentials and then headed to the grocery store and liquor store to provision up for the trip. The last thing I bought was a 20 lb. bag of ice which I put it in my trunk, all ready to go home and pack up the cooler. I got into my car, turned the key and was met with a click.

"What the fuck?!" I wondered, and turned the key again. Click. "No fucking way!" My car wouldn't start.

I'd had a recent bout of forgetting to turn off my headlights and draining my battery -- twice in one week, so that was the first thing I checked. There was no way I could have been in the grocery store long enough to drain the battery, and sure en…

Garden 2009

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Inspired by Cari's blog I thought I'd show what's growing in my yard.



The 30 year-old Bleeding Heart is about ready to bloom.



The Raspberries will be back again this year, no doubt with the same vengeance as last year.



Gas Plant anyone?



This is sedum which I stole from someone's overgrown garden.




The Daffodils I planted last year are ready to bloom!



My most successful plant, commonly known as Cheddar Pinks. Soon they will have pretty five-petal flowers that smell faintly of cloves.


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Driving: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Percentage of adults who said they had done these things in the previous 30 days:

Sped up to beat a yellow light: 58%

Exceeded the speed limit by 15 mph on major highways: 45%

Exceeded the speed limit by 15 mph on neighborhood streets: 15%

Deliberately ran red lights: 6%

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Oct. 25-Jan. 10 survey of 2,509 adults.
Amanda Cooke, 21, a computer teacher in Running Springs, Calif., says she used to drive so aggressively that her boyfriend was afraid to ride with her. "I'd cut people off to get into the lane I wanted to get in," she says. "I'd tailgate them if they were going too slow or blink my lights if it was night." Cooke says she stopped driving that way after crashing into another driver. "I didn't think it was as risky as it was," she says.

Source

I spend a lot of time on the road and I see shitty drivers everywhere.  I will never understand why people feel that speed limits do not apply to them, in fact yester…

Meatloaf avec Left-overs

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I had the feeling that my oven runs a little hot and subsequently cooks everything a bit too fast, dishes that should take an hour were done in about 45 minutes, etc. I mentioned this to Kate, so for my birthday she bought me an "outside the oven" meat thermometer. It's funny how a little thing like that could make me so excited! "What to cook? What to cook?" I kept asking myself, and I finally decided to start simple and make that prince of comfort food, meatloaf (tater tot hotdish is the king of comfort food).

I don't have a standard recipe for meatloaf, in fact I don't really have a standard recipe for anything, so I threw one together using a few leftovers, set the oven at 350° F, inserted the thermometer's probe, set the alarm to go off when the inside had reached 160° F, opened a beer and waited.

I didn't time it, but it sure felt like it took less time than times when I'd used a timer (nice sentence!), and it came out perfect! I…

Losing My Religion

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I gave up Catholicism for Lent. The last time I went into a church for religious reasons was probably around 1980, and even then it was because it was how I was raised, not how I felt or what I believed. I began questioning my own beliefs when I was a freshman in high school, and ultimately decided to leave the church. And I am not alone.

The recent American Religious Identification Survey by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life and Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut found that more and more people are moving away from organized religion, some moving towards a more "spiritual" view, while others are giving it up entirely. Similarly, the Christian Science Monitor recently printed an article entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse which suggests that Evangelical Christianity will all but disappear within the next 10 years. Good riddance, I say.

Personally, I think Karl …

Mortality

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Last week I came face to face with another bout of mortality. I found out that my old friend Nina is dying of lung and brain cancer, and another friend's mother, for whom I had great respect, died of breast cancer.

I met Nina through some guys I had played with in college and through the years we did a whole slew of small "noise in the corner" gigs, played in a whole crap load of pit bands for musicals from Jesus Christ Superstar, Nunsense and Little Shop of Horrors to a little known show called Baby. In fact, it was on a trip to Mankato for a gig at a convent that I bought my Stratocaster. I learned a lot of music and a lot about being a professional musician from Nina.

She had a weekly gig at the piano bar at a place called Charlie's until Karaoke took her job away. To this day I hate Karaoke because of that, and I'm sure it wasn't just Nina, but piano players across the country who lost some gigs because of it.

She told me stories of her early years, playi…

A Story of Incredible Stupidity

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The following is a true story related to me over the Internet. I have attempted to calm the style down a bit and provide a more coherent time line, giving the original something of an "OMG-ectomy."The setting is a small business in St. Louis, what kind doesn’t matter.

The cast of characters: Boss 1, not the brightest bulb in the pack, as will become apparent.Boss 2, much smarter than Boss 1.Client X, someone who has a very substantial and overdue bill.Kelly, from Accounts Receivable.
It has become apparent to Kelly that Client X is a deadbeat and that the company will never see the money he owes, he has changed his cellphone number numerous times and his mailing address doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, Boss 1 doesn’t see it that way and one Friday decides to call Client X yet again to try to get him to pay his bill.

Client X apologizes profusely and says that he can pay by the 28th of the month. Then he makes a suggestion, “I was thinking it would just be faster if I did a wire t…

Membership Dues

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When I became a Certified Fair Trade™ coffee roaster things were different, there was an easy online way of reporting how many pounds of FTO beans I had bought from my supplier and I was required to pay about 10¢ per -- and most importantly, membership was free.

Now the reporting method involves filling out a spreadsheet and emailing it to them, which is a bit more confusing. C'est la vie, I can adjust. What I don't like is the sudden annual fee to simply be a member of the club, the dues are $700 per year, and that's on top of the 10¢ per pound fee. Last year my per pound fee was over $1000.

So these days I find myself in a dilemma, I can't really afford to pay $700 a year to belong to a club right now. I am required to put a Certified Fair Trade™ logo on any bag of CFT coffee that goes out my door, they supply them for a limited time, then it's up to me to incorporate it into my own labels, which they have to approve. I can get stickers, posters, door signs, e…