Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Razor's Edge

Let's be honest.  I'm kind of a hairy guy.  Which is kind of funny in that, most of the men in my Father's family are bald and generally hairless.  But not me.  I take after my Mother's Brothers.  I am dark haired and have plenty of hair.

So when it comes to shaving I am particular about what I use.  For the last 25 years or so I have used the Gillette Sensor.  It has two blades, and works well in cutting around my beard.

Yesterday I was looking for a new Gillette Sensor handle as my had worn out, and I couldn't find one.  I asked one of the workers there, and he said they were phasing it out.  Namely, they had a bunch of new models they were concentrating on pushing.  They still had the razor blades for sale, but they weren't going to produce the handles anymore.  You know what they have in it's place?  This.

You know what the "big" selling point for this razor is?  It has five blades.  FIVE BLADES?  Really guys?  That's three more than needed.  For those of us with beards we need precision to cut our beards.  I need to be able to cut a straight line with my razor.  I don't need five blades.  That just makes it harder to keep my beard looking normal, and not like a five year old decided to cut it.

And I'll admit, I'm not the first to talk about this problem.  They were making fun of this years ago.  But my main problem is that, they've stopped producing the Sensor, thus forcing me to buy a razor blade with three, four, or five blades.  I would even consider going to a straight razor if I didn't think I would cut my throat wide open and die in my own bathroom. 

You would have thought some of the folks at Gillette would have seen these "commercials" about razors with a lot of blades.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Play Guitar

I don't really talk about my band/music/playing out here on my blog page.  I try to keep them separate.  I think if I started to talk about my music on here, I would just do it constantly, and that would turn a lot of readers off. 

But I still start at the beginning.  I have a band (of which it seems that I am the only member) called Possum Apple.  I put out a self produced album called, "This Divided Highway."  You can hear the entire album up on Reverbnation.

My bandmate/producer/friend Josh was the one who did all the percussion.  Unfortunately, he left to pursue other projects.  This happened just before the album was released.  So I played one album release party, and haven't really played much since.  I did play a few open mics here and there, but it wasn't anything consistent.

The fault lies with me.  I really didn't want to get outside of my comfort zone.  I would play the open mic at Sacred Grounds Coffee House, but nothing else.  But in the last few weeks, I've had a friend Nick, who has helped me get out of the house, and go to a few other open mics.

It seems that the local Sam Ash music store has different open mics.  The singer-songwriter night is on Wednesday.  The cool thing is that they give you a $10 store gift certificate for playing.  And if you do this week after week, those gift certificates start to add up.  I've been wanting a new guitar strap and some tubes.  So after playing a few weeks, I will be able to nab a few of those while spreading my music to a new audience.

A friend of mine, Phil, hosts a blues jam at Gaspar's Grotto in Ybor City.  The thing I like about blues jams is the crowd.  They tend to be older, and my Americana style music goes over really well with them.  The other fun thing is that, since we play outside at Gaspar's, we can turn the amps up, and the sound won't be overpowering like it would be inside.

I've played there twice, and my music has gone over really well.  And I have to admit I was worried.  I know my music is a touch out there, and may not be liked at all.  However, I had people in the audience laughing.  Even the other musicians (in the band, "Eyes Above Me") were holding up their hands doing "the wave" while I was playing my song "Buffalo."  I think it also really helped that I had other musicians playing with me, so I had a full band playing my songs. 

Thing went really well.  It went so well, it occurred to me that I forgot to bring hard copies of my album to sell.  I think I could have sold a few of them.  Oh well, next time I'll make sure to bring them.

A new friend I met, Robert, told me he hosted an open mic at the newer, hipper coffee shop near USF called "The Boba House."  Again, it's tough to play in front of younger, hipper college students, in that, you never know what they will think of your music.  A lot of them have no idea what Americana is.  Most think I'm playing country music.

When Florida Ave. Ales hosted their first open mic, I was the first one to play.  So I've been proud of that.  However, the open mic only seemed to last two weeks, and then it was gone.  I found out it was still being hosted, and was able to play it the other day. 

It's weird, in that, I feel like I am touring for my album that I released a while ago.  I have the second album pretty much ready to go.  I just need to get the money together to get the ball rolling. 

When it comes down to it, I think John Mellencamp said it best when he said, "Forget about all that macho shit, and learn how to play guitar!"  And that's what I'm doing.  I'm just going out there, and playing guitar.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Not Another Project! Combo Amp Time!

Not another project!  It's time I finished my other projects before I start another one right?  Well, this has a good purpose.  Since I am playing small venues I really need a small amp.  I've been carrying around an 80 pound SUNN amp from the 70's.  It sounds so awesome, but I just can't carry that thing around anymore.

So I decided to perform a bit of building, modding, and customizing.  Let me start at the beginning.  For my birthday I received an Epiphone Valve Junior amp head.

These are some of the most customizable amps on the market.  I plan on buying a Bitmo kit that will add sound options for this head.  Next I will build a combo amp cabinet out of some of the nice wood I have lying around. 

I am still deciding on what speaker I will be using, but that is still a ways off.  I would like to use a alnico speaker, but those are so expensive.  And even though alnico speakers have a certain bluesy sound that can't be beat, there are some ceramic speakers that overdrive faster that I am seriously considering.  Either way, I plan on using a 10 inch speaker for a tighter sound. 

So I plan on updating my blog with new pictures once I get some work accomplished.  I have a good feeling that this project will come out pretty nice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Do I Woo That Special Gal Without Being Seen As A Stalker?

I suck at girls.  I admit it.  I have no earthly idea how to connect with them.  Trying to learn about girls is like learning math, and then having to play by English language rules.  It just does not make sense.  About six years ago I wrote one of my better blogs entitled, "Everything I Learned About Dating I Learned From The Video Game Fable."

Here it is:

But learning the art of wooing takes more than practice on a video game.  I got out of my last relationship over a year and a half ago.  I've only been on one date since then.  And to be honest, it wasn't the worst, but it was kind of uncomfortable.  It felt more like an interrogation than a date.  I felt a little more shell-shocked than happy.

But let's talk about wooing.

Well, maybe not that kind of wooing....

So there's this gal I've known for a few years.  She's the girl all the bad guys want.  I'll call her "Mary."  (Not her real name.)  I finally got my courage up and decided to ask her out.  But then things started to take a comic turn.

1.  Now I have to find out if Mary is seeing anyone.  I go down to the coffee shop where everyone I know hangs out.  I ask her best friend if Mary is seeing anyone.  He says that there was no one he knew of.

2.  So that's great.  Onto part two.  Now I have to conveniently "bump" into her.  So I go to the coffee shop on a Monday, (that's when everyone is usually there) so I can commence with the "bumping."  But of course, she's not there. 

3.  So I ask her friend (the same one from earlier) if I can get her phone number from him.  He says that Mary is really weird about that sort of thing, and he can't do it.  He does say that I should try her on Facebook IM.  But to be honest, I have tried to write her before, and she never really writes back. 

4.  But I decide to IM her anyway.  I try to be as non-creepy as I can.  I say, "Hey Mary, can I give you a call, or you could call me?  I just want to talk."  She didn't write back.  Admittedly, there's no good way to ask for a number without arousing some suspicion.  So I couldn't blame her.

5.  So two days later I write her.  I say,   "Hey, let's just have some dinner.  I hear they're doing great things with Chipotle these days."

6.  She does write me back.  (Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  She says that too much is going on in her life right now, and she couldn't get involved with anyone right now.  (Oh poo.)

7.  So I write her back, and let her know that the offer is open for a while, and when her life slows down enough, I would love to take her to dinner. 

So that happened.  But now what do I do?  I talked to my friend Nick about it.  Yes, Supervan Nick.  Nick has women throwing themselves at him.  The problem is, he's never really had to work hard at this like I do.  He barely gets words out before women dive right at him. 

But I needed advice, so I explained everything to him.  He said, "You have to woo her, man!"

But what does that mean anymore?  Is it okay to take a peek through her Facebook page?  I mean, we've been Facebook friends for a few years.  Do I bring her chocolate and flowers?  That might a bit over the top. 

Do I happen to stop by her place with a boom box?

No.  No one would agree that's a good idea.

I remember in grade school when "secret admirers where all the rage.

But it's not such a secret anymore is it?  I mean, anything that would happen "from a secret admirer" would immediately be linked to me.  And honestly, I don't want a restraining order filed against me. 

What to do?  What to do?  What to do?  Do I give her space, and wait a few months?  How much asking out is too much?  I guess the best thing to do is get more advice from a few friends.  Like I said, a bunch of us all hang out in the same place, and we all know each other.  So maybe they will have some insight.  But then again, this could all get much weirder, and I'll end up writing a second part to this blog post. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rich People Are Weird, Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Act Like A House-Elf

Well, this was certainly a change of scenery.  The last maintenance job I did, I was ran off the property by gun wielding thugs in Section 8 apartments downtown.  I ended up writing three blogs about it.  So last week they sent me to the Pierhouse Channelside Luxury Apartments.  Here's the view:

Let me come straight out with it.  Rich people are weird.  There were a few rules that are considered standard there, and not found anywhere else.

1.  Don’t look at the residents. 

It seems the residents do not like to be looked at.  I guess my psychic abilities have the power to creep into their minds..... but only if I look directly into their souls.

2.  Don’t talk to the residents unless spoken to first.

...... Yes.... Mammie?


3.  Do not use the restroom in the office.  Use the ones by the pool area. 


I guess the whole, “separate but equal” thing still flies down here.

4.  Do not walk through the pool area, even if you have to go to the restroom.  Residents don’t like the hired help being around them when they are trying to concentrate while “pooling.” 
I should be a good house-elf.  The sign of a good house-elf is that he/she does all the housework without being seen.


So if I really have to pee, I can’t go in the office, but I can’t go through the pool area to get to the restroom I am supposed to go to?  I think I am a touch confused.  I mean, I could make like a dog, and go on a tree, but there are cameras everywhere, and I don’t want to end up on the internet as, “Sick weirdo thinks he’s a dog.”



Now, for a few musings to my porter co-workers that are sent to the Pierhouse.  There are a few things they should know if they are sent there in the future.

1.  You need a key to get anywhere. 


The whole place is in lockdown.  You cannot get into any part of the building without a key.  Which is fine.  But sometimes they need a few hours to track down a key for you.  They just don’t grow on trees you know.

2.  The dogs are a lot like the owners.


This is kind of weird.  Not bad, but just weird.  Usually any apartment complex I go to the dogs will come up and want to slobber all over me.  That’s fine.  Since I am dealing with garbage most of the time, I smell like garbage, and the dogs just love that!  So I play with the dogs, we rub each other bellies, and we all have a good time. 


But at the Pierhouse, the dogs ignore me.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  They just walk on by.  True story, I was on my hands and knees unwrapping a garden hose, and a resident with a boxer (the dog, not the fighter) came by.  The boxer gave me one sniff and just walked on by.  I was hoping for at least a face lick or something.  But nothing.  Again, it’s not a bad thing, just a weird thing.

3.  In three days I spent a total of 18 hours moving dirt downhill with a garden hose.  Seriously.  The parking garage needed “cleaned.”  So I figured I was going to take a pressure washer, and get rid of the oily spots.  No.  I was moving the dirt on the ground downhill with a garden hose.  I asked, “Why can’t I just use a blower?  I could knock it out in 20 minutes.”  I was told, “The residents don’t like dirt on their vehicles.  The blower would stir up too much dust and dirt.” 


If the residents don’t like dirt they are living on the wrong planet.  But what do I know?  I only have a History degree and not a science degree.  (Sidenote:  I couldn’t pass the chemistry.)


But let’s break down the water usage. 

3 gallons a minute X 60 minutes = 180 gallons an hour.

180 gallons X 18 hours = 3240 gallons of water.

Personally, I think that’s an awful waste of water just to move some dirt around.  And that was just one parking garage.  There is another one that needs to be “cleaned.”

4.  And speaking of the garage, the next time I am told to clean it, I want to update my life insurance.  It’s not so bad when I am on the 3rd story.  However, on Friday I was standing right in front of the garage entrance with a water hose praying that I would not be ran over by a yuppie assault vehicle. 


Those people were flying in and out of the garage around a blind curve.  I was sure they would find my corpse with a backwards Mercedes Benz  or Lexus logo smashed into my face.  I mean, can you imagine me lying in a coffin with that damned logo on my face?  They can’t spackle a corpse.  That logo is going to be there no matter what.


I was hoping that they would have a “Men Working” sign, but I guess they figured I wasn’t working that hard.
So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  I only ended up working there three days.  They had already hired someone permanently, and were waiting on the paperwork and drug test to come back.  I was just temping until then.  So I will be off to my next assignment.  Maybe it will be crazy enough to write about?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Draught of Living Death? Wait what?

So I was doing my usual mindless job today.  In fact, it was even more mindless than usual today.  Frankly, I had eight hours plus an hour for lunch to let my mind completely wander.  During the day, I got to thinking about a scene in one of the Harry Potter movies.  Something always bugged me about it.

Now, I know Harry Potter fans love to nitpick the books and movies.  And even J.K. Rowling has admitted to some goof-ups in the early books.  But there was one thing that bugged me.  That would be the draught of living death. 

It is first mentioned my potions Professor Snape in the first book.  However, in the sixth book, Professor Horace Slughorn has his advanced potions class make some of the draught on their first day. 

For those unfamiliar, here is the movie scene.

Now, there are a few differences between the movie and the book.  The Harry Potter Wiki says this about the draught:

The Draught of Living Death is a very powerful sleeping potion.

So in the books it's referred to as a sleeping potion, but in the movie Slughorn says that Harry's just made potion was made so well it could kill everyone in the room.  Either way, this is some really dangerous stuff.

It got me to thinking about my high school chemistry teacher.  I won't mention his name, but he was an unlikable man who looked like an albino Irishman.  He was also skinny on the verge of malnutrition, and had a very large nose. 

I was thinking what if he taught our chemistry class how to make roofies or cyanide?  I mean, isn't the draught of living death pretty much a really strong roofie?  Why in the cold hell would you teach a bunch of teenagers how to make that kind of thing?

And let's look at the movie version of that potion.  There are a number of Slytherins in that potions class including Draco Malfoy.  Do you really want to teach that lot how to make a potion even stronger than cyanide?  I mean, talk about bad ideas. 

Can you imagine the chaos that would be caused by a teacher teaching that kind of thing in the muggle world?  Why in the dickens would that sort of thing be allowed at Hogwarts?  I really think Rowling missed the boat with that idea.

This lead me to something else.  Who in the world would insure Hogwarts.  After all the stuff that has happened to students, who would be their insurance carrier?  I bet they get dropped from their carrier every year.  Something to think about.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bad Luck

In 1992 I heard something I had never heard before.  Real punk rock.  At the time I had no idea it was punk rock.  All I know was it was a brutally honest song called "Bad Luck."  I can't believe it got played on regular radio, and I only heard it the one time.  It would be years before I heard it again.  That's when I tried expand my punk rock collection beyond the Ramones and Rancid.  That's when I learned that Social Distortion sang this song that I had only heard once, but still remembered. 

Frankly, this blog is about to take a turn to the dark side.  This is the song that they will play as I am buried.  My life has been a series of bad luck, and most of it due to my own making.  Admittedly, I have had some really dumb stuff happen to me, but my attitude has taken even the most average screw-up into dumb shit territory.

I've been fired from pretty much every job I have had.  It's tough to work your way up in the world when you have to start all over again every four months.  There were times where I could have kept my mouth shut or walked away, but didn't.  There were times I overreacted and it cost me dearly. 

For almost a decade I was in pain due to a stupid gall bladder.  I could've/ should've/ would've had it removed if I only would have known what was wrong with me.  All the doctors just treated me like I was a pain med seeking addict.  They never tried to due something as simple as an ultrasound.  (A family doctor in Chattanooga finally did an ultrasound, and found out my gall bladder looked like a bag of sand.)  Heck, I even had X-rays, and they couldn't find anything.  Spending a decade in pain, and barely being able to walk sometimes really had an effect on my attitude.  But I can't blame it for me being me.

I haven't had many relationships, but I really think that I gave up on them rather than try to work on them.  I know it takes two to tango, but I know I could have tried harder.  I only have two ex-girlfriends, and they both hate me with a passion.

When you're 20 people understand that you are going to be a jackass.  Heck, I think Blink 182 said it best when they said, "Nobody likes you when you're 23."  But, in a month I will be pushing 39, and no one really likes it when "an old guy" just doesn't fucking get it.  By that age people stop giving you the benefit of the doubt.  There is a limit to the amount of bullshit people are willing to put up with, and the older you get, the lower that limit becomes.

Social D. sang in Bad Luck,

Some people like to gamble,
But you always lose.

Well, I'm starting to wonder how long my losing streak will go on.  Frankly, there is just so much losing a man can take.  There is a famous quote that says, "Be the change you want to see in the world."  Yeah, that's nice, but it doesn't really work when you are your own worst enemy. 

Some would say I am eccentric, but let's be honest.  Only famous people can get away with that.  No one would let Lady Gaga come to work in a meat suit if she were pulling an office job 8-5.  And let's be honest again, I'm somewhat talented, but not nearly talented enough to be an accepted eccentric. 

So what do I do?  I'm old and getting older.  Lately, I have been trying not to do anything because that takes money, and that's something I don't have a lot of.  I realize it comes down to getting a better job, but I don't interview well.  And when I'm interviewing against 50 other people I'm not going to be the "winner" of any job competition. 

I just wonder if I am reaching the end of my rope here.  I can't keep putting life on hold.  I'm pretty much at the halfway point of my life, and it's not getting any longer.  Something just needs to get adjusted.  Something needs to happen.