Monday, June 30, 2008

Road Trip Day 3 (or how I need to remember we're not in WA anymore)

Yay! We finally left early! We headed out the door at 9:30, went around the corner to Starbucks… and remembered we left 3 water bottles in the freezer. Luckily, we were only 2 minutes out the door, so, lattes in hand, we headed back and got our stuff.

I drove today and the morning stretch was BEAUTIFUL. I think we were on Highway 4 and it was curvy, fast and fabulous. The scenery, once again, was gorgeous, and the drive was engaging. Loved it! We made good time on that, headed to I-5 (or, as they say in California, “The 5.”). Eventually, it got kind of boring, but I suppose I expected that.

Lunchtime rolled around and we directed GPS Jill to take us to Sonic. We get Sonic commercials back home, but there aren’t any Sonics there. We decided to park and walk in, as opposed to park and have lunch in the car. We went in the restaurant and realized that the door opened to the kitchen and not the dining area. We circled the restaurant and found no door in.

Evidently at Sonic, there is no restaurant proper, but an eating area, with drive-thru boards you order at while standing. It was a little weird, but it worked. We ate outside and were accosted by all sorts of flies. Riley freaked out a little, but the flies were pesky, so I don’t blame him on that. Afterwards, we jumped back in the car and headed south.

Of course, before long, Riley had to go No. 2 again, so we stopped off in some sort of orchard just north of Bakersfield and had him do his business in our little potty. Crisis averted, we headed south yet again.

It was pretty uneventful from there on out. We hit the Grapevine (a mountainous drive with what seems like race car drivers), then traffic by Magic Mountain on our way to Dave and Nadejda’s house.

Dave and I have known each other since kindergarten. We attended all the same schools and actually were pretty close throughout high school. As we went to college, we naturally grew apart. It wasn’t until we both married our wives that we started getting back in touch. It turns out that Marci and I and Nadejda were pregnant at the same time. For whatever reason, Marci and Nadejda hit it off and have been close ever since.

Anyway, we headed there for dinner and conversation and to let the kids have some fun that consisted of more than 5 minutes at a rest stop. I got to chat with Dave for awhile, and Marci got her margarita on with Nadejda. The kids went crazy and it was all good.

It wasn’t until later that I remembered that Nadejda’s dad was coming to see Riley and his results. As mentioned on day 1, her dad is a neurosurgeon and familiar with some of what Marci found out about. I’ll save the details for a post later.

After dinner and meeting with Nadejda’s dad, it was off to Ted & Judy’s house, just south of Irvine. What that meant was about another hour of driving. The kids, at this point, were fried. They had a great day, but were ready to see their Papa and Nana and be done with this part of the trip. They ended up passing out about 10 minutes in.

I had programmed GPS Jill to get us to Ted & Judy’s, but about 20 minutes into the trip, I noticed that Jill was a little tipsy. The arrow that represents us was floating all over the map. That will happen sometimes if there’s interference (buildings), but we were on the 5, no obstructions anywhere. But she kept telling us to drive south, etc, etc, so we thought it was ok.

Well, as we drove and got to where she told us to turn… and there was no turn, well, we figured something was up. I had Marci call Ted for directions and it turned out we were about 5 exits past where we needed to be.

I punched a couple buttons on Jill and got the map working again. I had downloaded map updates prior to the trip but didn’t download Southern California updates as I had run out of room. Lame. So, I set it back to the older map and that got us to where we needed to be.

About 20 minutes later, we ended up at Ted & Judy’s with a couple of tired kids, a couple of tired parents, and one dirty ass car. It’s good to be here and the next couple days should be interesting in more ways than one.

The Life of Riley

Riley was born in August, 2004. He was delivered via C-section and everything was good. We brought him home and things were great.

As Rye got older, especially to the age when we thought he should be sleeping through the night, he didn't. But that wasn't much cause for alarm or anything. We dealt with it the best we could and did our thing.

I remember having epic battles with Riley when he was 1.5 to 2 years old. He was mobile (walking) and for some reason, able to climb out of his crib, so we had gotten him a twin bed. When it was bedtime, he'd climb out of bed, open the door and pester us to no end. We switched the doorknob to lock it from the outside and he'd just beat and pound on it until he'd pass out on the floor in exhaustion. He'd wake up the next day with carpet marks on his cheek, but otherwise be pretty good.

For me, especially, I had a hard time with Riley. He was/is a total mama's boy and simply wouldn't take to me. In the middle of the night, I'd try to help if he'd wake, if only to let Marci sleep, but would make it worse as Riley wouldn't want me, and I'd get mad when he'd wake Marci up anyway. And then, my anger would be directed at her. It was completely lame.

I simply couldn't figure Riley out. He'd wake several times a night. He'd only answer to Marci. He'd ignore me or flat out refuse to listen to me. And he was only 2. I was terribly frustrated.

As he got older, we started noticing little things that seemed off. For the most part, he was and is a pretty normal boy. But things like swallowing and drooling, things he should have mastered by 2 or so, he didn't do well. He had a hard time getting dressed and undressed. He talked funny. We've had him in speech for his nasal emissions (when he makes an "S" sound, it comes from his nose). Most of the stuff, we figured he was just young and would grow out of.

Marci really took charge with getting Riley checked out. I would just ignorantly roll my eyes and expect that he'd get better with time. As we saw some doctors, it was brought to our attention that he needed to be on fluids that were honey-thick. So, as a result, Riley has to have special "water" prepared, where we mix a few ounces of liquid with a thickener. He can't drink it in a regular cup or straw and has to drink it in a sippy cup. We found out later that he had large tonsils, so we ended up having those removed about 2 years ago.

These days, Riley is on an inhaler, nasal spray, and a pill. What they do, I couldn't really tell you, but I think they have to do with allergies (he is prone to sinus infections) and breathing. He has to carry these sippy cups everywhere he goes, which, at almost 4, is heartbreaking. The poor guy can't even get a drink from a water fountain if he's thirsty (well, he can, but it aspirates in his throat and makes him all gurgly) and, in talking to him yesterday, he told me he wishes he could drink regular water.

As far a behavior goes, Riley seems pretty normal to me. He and I have made a lot of progress. He is very eager to please and is a super loving little dude. We have a great time with Legos and video games and he is a lot of fun to be around. He's my "best buddy" and though we still have our differences at times, it's nowhere near what it used to be.

Last week, Riley went in for an MRI. On our way down to California, Marci took a call from our pediatrician who had examined Riley's test results.

After a bunch of doctor-speak, we were told that Riley shows signs of Arnold-Chiari malformation. In a nutshell, Riley's brain is too big for his skull, or, conversely, his skull is too small for his brain. His brain hangs out of the base of his skull by 3.5 centimeters. Because of this, there is pressure back there, which can cause symptoms like headaches, swallowing problems, speech issues, fine-motor problems, among other things. Basically, all the symptoms Riley has fall within the realm of ACM.

This was a bombshell to us. For years, people have told us that he was fine, that he'd grow out of it, that he'd be a "great sword swallower" (for real!), and we'd go home and get frustrated. I don't think we were looking for something to be "wrong" with Riley, and at times it felt like he was fine, but then we'd see that he couldn't do what other 3 year olds could do and wonder what was up.

So, as luck would have it, Marci's best friend's dad is a neurosurgeon, and when he was told that Rye was diagnosed with ACM, he said he'd take a look. We happened to be on our way to California, where they live, and all the stars aligned.

Yesterday, at Dave and Nadejda's house, we had dinner and all was good. Dr. Cyrus came over later (I had completely forgotten about his visit) and we sat down with him to chat. He took a look at Riley's MRI and told us that things looked good. He confirmed that ACM was a good diagnosis and said that it wasn't as bad as he thought (based on his gut feeling initally). He spent the first half hour or so telling us about how ACM works, how it can generate cysts (of which Riley has a few) that press along the spinal column, and how those pressures can cause the problems that Riley has*.

*This is my synopsis of what he said. It's paraphrased and a better description can be found via Google.

Dr. Cyrus then proceeded to mention how we might be able to help Riley and what we should do until he gets looked at again. One thing we have to do now is discourage Riley from hanging upside-down or standing on his head. More recently, Riley has been doing both of those a lot. According to Dr. C, if Riley was to fall on his head, it could "crunch" his head down further onto his spine (it's already pretty tight, hence the warning) and cause more, or worse, problems.

(I talked to Riley this morning and asked him why he liked to be upside-down all the time. I tried to ask him non-leading questions. He said something that was unclear and pointed to the back of his neck. I asked how it felt on his neck. He said, "Hard elephant." I asked how it felt to be upside-down and he said, "Soft monkey." It was weird, but I felt like I made some sort of discovery.)

After that, Dr. C went and watched Riley play for a few minutes. He proceeded to ask Marci if Riley spoke through his nose (the aforementioned nasal emissions) and Marci's jaw just dropped. The fact that Dr. C was able to bring that up without it being told to him was a total surprise, and, I think, validated a lot of what Marci's been telling the "specialists". Dr. C told us that he'd recommend we wait until Riley matured a little and see if his body would grow into better shape. He also suggested perhaps a cervical collar (neck brace) to work on stretching his neck out a little. These are all things we're going to have checked when we get back to Seattle, of course, but hearing it from Dr. C was definitely good.

So, what does this all mean? Well, for one, we are keeping a closer eye on Riley, especially when it comes to him on his head, etc. We've taken to having him ask us if he needs to be upside-down and then holding him upside-down, carefully, of course. It makes me wonder about things I'd done with him in the past, like rough-housing, or, in fits of anger when he was younger, tossing him onto his bed.

I mean, for now, he is how he is and I love him dearly. I want him to be better in a real bad way. I got a little emotional on the drive yesterday when I was telling Marci about how Riley told me he wants to be able to drink normal water. Something that I take for granted, I never thought Riley even cared about it, but, of course, he does.

I guess until we get back to WA, it's going to be one day at a time. While we're in CA, we'll enjoy ourselves, research ACM, and do our thing. If anything, it will make things interesting for our immediate future.

Road Trip Day 2 (or the kids get unruly and we see squirrels)

We got an earlier start today. Way earlier, actually, thanks to Riley coming in our room at 6:15 saying he had to go poop. I helped him out and got him back in bed a few minutes later. Luckily, Haley was still asleep and didn’t wake when Riley hopped back to bed. I went back to bed and, just as I was falling back asleep, Riley decided to join us again. This was about half an hour later.

Anyway, Marci and Rye got up and I lazed around in bed awhile longer. A few minutes later I heard pounding up the stairs (we were in a loft. Pretty cool) and then saw Haley next to me in her bathing suit and towel, telling me to join her, Rye and Marci in the “hot pool” outside.

We hot tubbed for a few minutes, then got on with breakfast and getting ready for the road. A few hours later, we were packed, later than we would’ve liked, and on our way.

We headed southeast and crossed into California about 10 minutes or so into our trip. The trip was through some mountain range which included Mt. Shasta and it was quite pretty. We did a bunch of passing of semis (there are a TON going both ways there) and generally kept it at 1 to 2 mph above the speed limit. I wasn’t too interested in getting another speeding ticket today. I figured we’d be a little slower, but also in less trouble.

The trip through the mountain range was pretty uneventful aside from Haley and Riley being complete turds the whole way. They didn’t get to sleep until about 10 or so and were both up and at ‘em quite early, so, naturally, they were sniping and crabby for much of the morning.

We got to I-5 and started heading south. It was a pretty mountainous drive. Pretty soon, it got really smoky too, as I guess they are having a lot of lightning caused wildfires. The smoke was quite intense, mainly in the hills. The kids were still ornery and no fun, but Marci and I just tried to go with the flow.

Pretty soon, as is customary with Riley, he had to go poop. Right now. Trouble was, the next rest stop was about 15 miles away. So we headed to the next exit, and, ever the boy scout (Be Prepared), Marci had a portable toilet. Riley sat on his little portapotty and did his thing. I should’ve taken a picture.

We made fairly good time the rest of the way. I traded driving duties with Marci later in the day. She drove through Sacramento and to our final destination at Angels Camp. The last 50 miles or so to Angels Camp were quite beautiful. I have never been to the savannah in Africa, but in my fertile imagination, I envision it to be like the terrain we drove through. Hopefully the pictures I took with the camera out of the car do the visuals justice.

Today’s lodging isn’t as nice as yesterday’s, but it is entirely functional. We went from a beautiful, lodge-style chalet to a more traditional, apartment-style abode. It’s nice. There are a lot of wild squirrels and lizards out the back deck. We went for a swim at the pool, though it seemed like a neighborhood free-for-all with everyone and anyone simply letting themselves in. We got to have a home-cooked meal, courtesy of Marci. Tacos!

And now it’s the Battle to Get the Kids Asleep. We put them down about 8:45 or so (they both napped briefly in the car, which usually screws them up for the rest of the night) and now, at 9:30, they’re both still up. It doesn’t help that they’re both in the same room, but splitting them up doesn’t help either. The main culprit is Riley. He’s just restless and impossible to handle when it’s late and he’s tired. Our best ally is patience and willpower to ignore, which, at 9:32 after driving 400 miles or so, we have none of.

Well, as with every night, they will fall asleep. Marci and I will get an hour or 2 to unwind, then we get to do it all again tomorrow morning, hopefully a little later than 6:15.

Tomorrow: onto our friend’s house in La Crescenta, about 300 miles from here. Wish us luck. Here is a squirrel.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Road Trip Day 1 (or how to get to So. Oregon in 10 hours)

We got a later start than we would’ve liked, thanks to Yours Truly. You see, I have a tendency to sleep late. Thankfully, we had no flight to catch, only a car to pack.

GPS Jill told us that the trip was about 400 miles or so, with a trip time of 7 hours. We didn’t hit the road until 11 and she said we’d arrive at 6:45pm. I topped off the tank and we were off and running.

Along the way, Marci received some phone calls from our pediatrician, mentioning that she got MRI results back from Riley’s recent MRI. (some backstory: Riley’s been dealing with some issues with swallowing and talking. We’ve seen specialists and tried lots of tests, but haven’t had any definitive results)

Anyway, Dr. Spanier (Tiffany. And she looks like a Tiffany), called and said that the results showed something regarding Riley’s cerebellum tonsils. Evidently these are parts of his brain that are supposed to “hang” within the skull. On Riley, they hang 3.5cm below the skull. He also has some pockets of fluid along his spine that may be cause for concern down the road.

What does this all mean? Well, we needed to ask a favor of a friend to send a CD from our house to California, next day USPS. We also needed to make an unscheduled stop in Lakewood (?), a little north of Vancouver, WA, at an Office Depot to use their internet. Dr. Spanier needed written authorization to fax Riley’s results to California, where our friend’s dad just happens to be a neurosurgeon who is familiar with the issues Riley is exhibiting.

So, we got the CD mailed, we got the fax authorization faxed, and we got the results faxed to CA. All this before we left Washington.

We got to Oregon and hit their famous Portland traffic. What a mess that turned out to be. Stop and go for the better half of an hour. That pushed us back a bit. We had also stopped for lunch about 2 hours into the drive.

We finally got out of the traffic. The kids were ANGELIC in the back, with their toys and movies. I was driving about 70 or so and going through this area with some minor construction going on. No workers around, no machines moving. We were feeling pretty good and I was telling Marci a joke.

“What has no arms and legs and hangs on the wall?”

And then I saw lights. I figured I’d better move over and as I did, the po-po moved with me. I pulled over and Oregon State Trooper Boyd came to the window and asked if he knew why I was pulled over. I didn’t. He told me he got me on laser going 74 in a 55 construction zone.

Hur wha?

He took my license and registration and came back a few minutes later with a ticket for $208. He didn’t offer to lower my speed or anything noble like other cops might do. He said they were “picky” in construction zones due to the closeness of the workers. Only, today, there were no workers. It was quite lame.

After that unscheduled pit stop, we drove on. We were in the middle of a 90 some odd mile stretch, down I-5, headed towards Eugene. We then took a turn east and headed through the Willamette National Forest. It’s a 2 lane highway and it went around lakes, through forests and was quite scenic. The trouble was, we had 164 miles to go on that and it was about 4pm or so. Ugh. Luckily the scenery was nice and I only almost got us all killed once (reaching for honey roasted nuts).

We got to a town around 7:30 or so and stopped for gas (over 400 miles on one tank!) and some food, then powered through the last 65 miles or so. We drove around a huge lake (Klamath? Crescent? Who knows?), then, with the car covered in bugs, pulled into our destination around 9:30. It’s a cool little place. I should take a picture. The kids are finally asleep and Marci’s in the jacuzzi. I hope there’s room in there for me too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Road Trip!

Oh God.

I'm ripping songs for the mp3 player. More specifically, I'm ripping kid's songs and stories for the mp3 player. I'm in charge of 3 things.
  1. GPS and coordinates. I uploaded our destinations to "Jill", our GPS (as her saucy British voice is named), and just about passed out when I saw the distances. 387. 400. 399. Those are miles. Day one takes us to Southern Oregon. Day two takes us from there to somewhere in California. Day three brings us to Ted & Judy's house. That's about 1200 miles. Our Pilot will probably get 300 miles to the tank. It takes us $80 or so to fill it on regular. That means we'll pay about $320 or so to get to where we want to be. And that's assuming the gas stations in BFE won't be jacking up prices.
  2. Packing for myself. I'm going for 10 days. I figure 5 of everything should do me fine. At least in the sox and undies department (boxers for those keeping track).
  3. Entertainment, electronic. As I said, I'm makin' music right now. I will have my mp3 player loaded. I will have Marci's mp3 player loaded. And I will have one for the kids loaded. I am bringing the portable DVD player with a handful of movies. Marci has packed the kids books, coloring kits, toys, stuffed animals, and just about anything else to keep them occupied for 7+ hours in the car for 3 days.
Marci has been a major trouper today. Not only did she have the kids all day (I couldn't leave work until late), she packed for herself, Haley and Riley. Plus, they're packing for 3 weeks worth of trip. On top of that, she had Haley being her bratty self (she cried for about an hour after I got home because she didn't want to clean her room) all day. And I won't even mention her making dinner.

Needless to say, once we hit the road tomorrow, it'll be a nice change for her.

In the meantime, we will be traveling with the laptop. We will have the camera. I hope to have some blogs while on the road. Say a prayer for us and wish us luck. See you in California!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

$200k sports cars are cool

This was just outside work. Drool.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Haley is going crazy

Haley is annoying the hell out of us. She's 6 and developed a terrible attitude.

Marci picked her up from school the other day and she refused to get in the car. After some back and forth, she finally relented, but proceeded to yell and talk back to my wife the whole way home. I got home just as Marci kicked Haley out of the car (about 5 houses down from home) and made her walk.

Haley, of course, freaked out, but continued to be rude by sticking out her tongue and stomping off. When we finally walked around the corner, she ran back to us, apologizing, etc.

This kind of behavior has been going on the past few weeks. She'll be fine one minute, then goes absolutely apeshit about something.

This morning she wanted to take a shower with me. I'm getting to the point where I think she's almost too old to be taking showers with Dad, so I told her that I thought she should take one by herself. She started getting all emotional saying that she'd never take a shower or bath again and then laid in bed crying. I left, telling her if she wanted to join me, she could.

After the shower, she was still crying and mad because I wouldn't let her take a shower with me. Roll Eyes

Anyway, I saw her at lunch and she was fine. I just got IM'ed by Marci apparently Haley is going bonkers again. She's saying stuff like "You hate me! You're going to put me in the garbage can! I'm NOT going to do it!"

We're not sure what to do. We tried rewarding her good behavior. We've tried spanking. We've tried taking away toys. We've tried lecturing. We've tried ignoring. What else is there that's legal?

I think some of it is transitional. She did just finish kindergarten on Friday. She's just learning how to read. She's a little nervous (though it's months away) about going into 1st grade. Her brother is growing up and becoming a nice little boy (finally!). I'm pretty sure this is a phase for her (as her eating strike was a few months ago), but nevertheless, it's infuriating and frustrating.

Our friends say their 6 y.o.s are going through it too, but that doesn't help me. Though I suppose if y'all told me that you've gone through it, I'd feel better.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Last night at the High Dive

One of these nights, we will play up to our exacting standards.

Last night started promisingly. I finally sold my Ibanez bass. A guy met me before the show, played it for 30 seconds, and paid me for it. That was pretty cool.

Jim from the Tripwires was once again kind enough to let me use his SVT. This time, though, he brought his 4x10 cab, instead of the Big Boy 8x10. But, who am I to complain, right?

We got setup in a sparsely populated club. Upon further inspection, the killer posters that Byron made for us were nowhere to be seen. I had dropped 5 off last week and the bartender told me he'd get it taken care of. Apparently he meant he'd forget about them as they were not present. That was a bummer as Byron bent over backwards to hook us up, made us a beautiful poster, and got nothing to show for it. I got a ton of compliments on the poster and it was a shame they weren't there. :(

Anyway, Sean and I hightailed it to his car to check out the mixes we recorded last Friday. He had the recordings on his Ipod and they were pretty fabulous. As far as rough drafts go, I was pretty pleased. They'll only get better as we layer more guitars and vocals onto them.

When we finally got the show underway, there were a few more people in the club. Not as many as I expected on a Friday in Fremont, but certainly no less than we're used to. This time out, we started with Sean's song Feel. I made a decision to be pretty active on stage. I was inspired by Kurt Bloch in Sgt. Major the last time we were out. Here's a guy that's been around the block many many times and he just goes out and parties on stage. It's a lot of fun to watch and I figured I'd do my best to entertain as well.

The trouble with that, for me, at least, is that something inevitably suffers as a result. Last night, it was sloppy playing. In Feel, there's a few punches, then a big fat low E. Well, I hit a big fat low F#. I saved it, but it was pretty lame. Even the songs we busted out last week in studio were loosey goosey. It was weird. I thought those would be the tightest, but in some cases, they were quite sloppy.

That's how the whole night went for me. Lots of fun, lots of energy, lots of screw ups. Thankfully, the few people I talked to afterward were all pretty impressed with the positive sides to the performance. Heck, I even kicked out Chris' instrument cord (thankfully at the end of the set) and we got a good rise out of that.

After us was the Small Change. They had a killer set, as usual. It turned into quite the all-star jam at the end, with Scott 5 and Kurt joining them on stage. They did the Seeker, one other Who song, as well as Stay With Me by Rod Stewart. That song was perfect for them. It got the booties shakin' and the room a quakin'. Heck, I even had a drink for the first time in forever. The bad thing about that is I get lit after one drink. The good thing is that I get lit after one drink. I think I might have to do that again sometime.

The fabulous Tripwires followed the Change. These guys are simply pro. They played a bunch of songs that were super Beatles-esque. The trouble with that band is that their songs are so good (and my musical knowledge so limited) that everything sounds like it could be a cover by someone else. Of course, I just shake my ass and bob my head and act like I know what's going on.

So, all in all, it was a pretty cool night. If I could change 2 things, it would be that our posters were up and that we played a tighter set. I had a great time talking to people, meeting new people, and just having fun. We made a few bucks and hopefully entertained some people as well.

Next up: 8/1 Skylark Cafe with The Doll Test (yay!) and one band TBD.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Weekend update

Not really.

I worked out twice this week. Once on Tuesday, watching the Celtics REAM the Lakers. It was my first time working out without my "trainers". I did a bunch of sit-ups and push-ups, as well as some light weight work. I guess it worked as I was sore the next day.

Tonight I did my cardio with Trainer Bob. I also saw on-line this website called 100pushups.com. Evidently this guy has a program where you simply do push-ups a few times a week and in 6 weeks, you're supposed to be able to do 100. First off, you do as many as you can before you can do no more. I hit 26 before I pooped out. Of course, my excuse for not doing more is that I was sore from doing push-ups and chest work on Tuesday. However, when I first started doing them earlier this year, I was lucky to do 12, so I suppose 26 isn't bad.

Work has been interesting of late. We've had a VERY slow month. Business (sales) has been down. Our service has been down as well. We were the area's one service provider for a notebook brand, and now it turns out there's a competitor in Redmond, so our business has suffered because of that. My accountant resigned last week (though for the past year, she didn't really work full-time anyway), so that makes things nifty too. Throw in the fact that (and keep this on the d/l) our building may be sold, well, that's pretty freakin' peachy keen!

So exciting!

Needless to say, I am pumped for the show tomorrow at the High Dive. I've been spending a lot of button clicks sending out emails and blogs and videos and comments. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see just a few people, I have a feeling it should be a nice draw tomorrow night. At least it won't be for lack of trying. Byron created awesome posters. I dropped a handful off at the HD last week, so they can't complain about that.

Next week we make the drive to So. Cal! We figure it's cheaper than flying, plus we'll get to see the land! I'm looking forward to and dreading it all at once. Luckily, we found an old mp3 player that Haley has grown quite attached to so we'll load it full of showtunes and hit play. With any luck, she'll be good for the trip down.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Recording at Studio Litho

Recording was a hoot. We were at the studio for about 10 hours. Good times were had by all. It's always fun going into a studio, especially when you see/hear the history within the walls. We recorded at Studio Litho in Fremont, which has hosted the likes of Pearl Jam (it's owned by Stone Gossard, after all), Audioslave, Dave Matthews, among others. Then you get a little band like mine in there and, well, it's kind of cool and inspiring.

Anyway, we ended up doing 7 songs and it was SO GREAT to track them live. Sean had his drums in the corner. I stood in the middle of the big room. My speaker cabs were a floor beneath me and it was LOUD. I could feel 'em through the floor. Chris' amp was in the stairwell and he sang and played in an iso booth opposite from Sean.

What was also cool was that Chris wanted me to use my gear. Most times I've recorded, I've gone direct (no amp) or used the studio's equipment. I usually don't have an issue with it as I felt my gear was too noisy (i.e. hissy) to record. As it turns out, I set up as I normally do and Floyd, the engineer, miked both cabs, as well as had a direct signal from the bass itself, and the result was a completely dirty, nasty, chunky and full bass tone.

In other words, I was quite pleased with it. The sound I had in the headphones was a little misleading though. Lots of noise, lots of treble, lots of twang. I just had to trust the engineer and let his ears guide my sound.

We started with a song called Get Up. It's a punchy little tune with a lot of rhythm and syncopation in my part. The arrangement took a lot of time for me to figure out, but once I got it in practices, this song became one of my favorites of Chris' to play. We took about 4 takes and it was good to go.

Next up was either Nice Guys Finish Last or Are You Ready? I don't remember which. Anyway, Nice Guys is a fairly simple little rocker and I think it took just a few takes to get that one down. Are You Ready? was a little tougher. Chris had gotten metronome readings prior to recording and after tracking this song once, it was apparent to me and Sean that it was WAY too fast. This is a cool song that I've come up with some cool parts to, but at the turbo speed, I just wasn't able to get my parts to flow like they normally did. We took the BPM down a few notches and tried again and it sounded and felt a lot better.

It was around this time that we took a break, because next up was a song called Headhunter. This song is, without a doubt, the heaviest song we do. It's in drop-D tuning and it hauls ass. It's a big guitar showcase, though, in playing it through, it's a total drum showcase as well.

Sean and I got the clicks to start (Chris' parts were already recorded so he could chill in the control room) and it was off to the freakin' races! It felt loose and, in Chris' words, "dangerous". While I was playing, I kept expecting the wheels to fall off and for us to have to redo it. As it turns out, we made it to the break in one piece, and, in actuality, it sounded pretty damn good. But, as with most recordings, even if you nail it, you do it again just in case. Well, in the case of Headhunter, we did it 4-5 times. None of the takes, of any of the takes of the day, were perfect, but in this day and age, we're able to cut and paste and edit parts back and forth. Ideally we'd like to use one continuous take, but what'll probably end up happening is using bits and pieces from a few different takes.

The last 3 songs, Tell Me, So Glad and No Matter What, were all put towards the end because they're a little easier than the previous songs. as it turned out, for me, they were tougher because it had been such a long day already. I was able to get good versions of Tell Me and So Glad (which is a rehash of It's So You from the Loser record) after a bunch of takes each. Tell Me, in particular, worked out really well. We'd actually recorded that about 2 years ago, but Chris wasn't happy with it, so we did it again. So Glad had some unnecessary chorus parts that Chris didn't like, so we did that as well.

No Matter What, by Badfinger, is a song we do from time to time at our shows. I'm not a huge fan of playing it, but evidently the masses dig it and, if we had time (which we did), Chris wanted to throw it down. We did it about 5 times and each time, I bit it on the bridges. I don't know what my problem was, but I just wasn't feeling it. In listening back, the takes weren't terrible, but they'll definitely be splicing different performances together for the bass tracks on that song.

At the end of the day, I must say that I was very pleased with how the bass and drums turned out. I think Chris was quite happy too, which was a relief to me. He's very demanding of positive results and I think if he wasn't satisfied, we'd probably still be recording right now. The only bad thing of the night was that there were so many tracks (7 songs x 4-5 takes each) and not enough time to burn me and Sean CDs of the performances. So, I won't get to hear them again until Friday after the gig at the High Dive. It'll be tough to wait that long, but it'll be cool to get some distance from them, to "forget" what I did, and then to hear them again with fresh ears.

Next up: Friday at the High Dive with the Tripwires and the Small Change! Can't wait!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Recording day

I get to go to the studio today! It'll be the first time since I've played with the Lunds that we'll all be in the studio at the same time. This time, we're recording (and in some cases, re-recording) a handful of Chris's songs. They won't make this upcoming CD, but will on our next one.

It will be nice to finally record with Sean and Chris. The previous times, mainly due to funding, we had to do it separately, in a layered process. After drums and guitar were put down, I'd go in and do bass. Sure, it's functional, but it's not my favorite way to record.

My main focus today will be to really lock in with Sean and make sure what we do is tight and vital and live. There's a lot more pressure too, because if I mess up, we'll most likely have to do another take. Though, with ProTools, we are able to punch in individually to fix errors, it's more satisfying and can sound better if it's organic and done "right" the first time.

This'll be fun. I'm excited!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New poster

Thanks Byron! You get in for free!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sun? Could it be?

What is that strange yellow ball in the sky?

About freakin' time!

I am sweaty. I just finished working out. I did Jillian's Power Sculpt and Bob's Cardio Max. All together, about 40 minutes of exercise. In reality, I'll feel sore tomorrow, but that's probably about it. It was cool to branch out, though. I hadn't done Jillian's workout before. I think I may work on incorporating that from time to time.

We had a great weekend. The kids were really quite good. It took Marci mentioning to me that she was happy I hadn't gotten frustrated all weekend to realize that they were good. Evidently I do get frustrated with them from time to time.... Who woulda thunk?

I'm pretty proud of Marci and I. Last week we met with our financial advisor and basically were told that we suck at managing money. We ended up consolidating some credit cards onto our HELOC (home equity line of credit) and paying off those high interest cards. We've also made a conscious effort to keep the spending down. One thing we did is not eat out more than once this week. We were also fortunate enough to go to a friend's house for dinner, as well as have M&D take us to dinner one night. At this rate, we'll be out of debt before we know it!

Ok, I know it's the first week, but we have to be positive, right?

In LB news, we are recording on Friday and I couldn't be more excited. For the first time in 3 years with this band, we'll be recording live. It won't be me tracking by myself. I think all 3 of us will be there, but Chris will be doing scratch guitar so me and Sean don't get too lost.

I'm expecting it to go pretty well, but with our sporadic practice schedule lately, it'll be interesting to see how tight we are. I mean, I think we'll be tight, but some of our fills might step on each other a little. I don't think we're at the point in the songs where we're hitting the same things over and over again. But I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

I've also been posting a bunch of live LB videos. Granted, I only have 3 or 4 shows to pull from, but I'm putting them out there. I suppose I could get into recording the band again, but I always feel like a dork whipping out the video camera.

Anyway, if you want to see some vintage Lund Bros., check us out here: youtube

I'm off to adjust a stupid FM modulator I bought for Marci at Xmas time for her car. My neighbor (a Tim the Tool Man type) helped me get it hooked up today, but it's gonna take some fine tuning to get it right. Argh.

Friday, June 06, 2008

June 6, 2008


I am not pleased. It's pretty ridonkulous.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New releases: Aimee Mann & Weezer

On Tuesday two of my favorite artists released CDs. It was going to be 3, which would've been great, but Juliana Hatfield postponed her CD until August.

I picked up Aimee Mann's Smilers and Weezer's Red albums. Neither one is named Smilers or Red, but you get the picture.
Anyway, I had heard of Aimee when she fronted Til Tuesday, but know much about her until her first solo release, Whatever, sometime in the 90s. I knew she'd recorded a song with Rush for their Hold Your Fire record way back in the mid 80s, but that was about it. Whatever was a very strong record. Lots of great pop hooks and melodies. I listened to that a lot in college.

Through the years, she released a handful more CDs and achieved moderate success. She never really broke out big, though she has had a Grammy nomination and most of her Bachelor No. 2 record featured as the soundtrack to the movie Magnolia. The past few years, she released Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm. I really enjoyed both those records and I think TFA is her best work yet.

I'd heard Aimee's first track off of Smilers and I really liked it. It sounded like classic Aimee and I was excited for the rest of the record. When I got it and popped it in, well, I was a bit underwhelmed. I'd read somewhere that in recording Smilers, she backed away from using any electric guitars. Though it sounds like there are electrics on the CD, what I hear may be effected acoustics. The CD liner notes don't indicate that no electrics were used, but under the band members, the only kind of guitar mentioned is acoustic.

So what's all that mean? Well, the record is quite mellow. Keep in mind, I've only listened to it a few times, each time with distractions (work, kids, etc), and though I like some of it, nothing has really jumped out at me like, say, I Can't Help You Anymore, from TFA. We'll see how it grows on me.

Now, let's talk about Weezer.

When =W= first came out with the Blue album, I knew about it, but for some reason, I never got on the bandwagon. In fact, I didn't really get into them until maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Then, once I got my hands on the Blue and Green albums, I really got into them. Even the so-called stinkers, Maladroit and Pinkerton, to me, all had great songs. When Make Believe came out a year or so ago, I wasn't terribly impressed. I hated the Beverly Hills track. Is that the best they could come up with for a lead song?

With the latest release, the Red record, I'd not done a lot of research. I heard the first track, Pork & Beans, once on Youtube. I thought it was pretty good. Weird verse, killer classic Weezer chorus. Going into Tuesday, that was all I'd heard. I picked up the Red CD and took a listen.

I was really pleased with the first track, Troublemaker. It had the same type of feel as The Good Life from Pinkerton. Then the second track started, complete with sirens and weird stuff, and I wasn't sure what to think. It had its moments, but, for cryin' out loud, it was 6+ minutes. A Weezer song!

I continued listening and, sadly, wasn't too impressed. I'm hoping it will grow on me too, but right now, it's too early. There don't appear to be any great singalongs, like Don't Let Go (Green album), or super catchy tunes, like Dope Nose (Maladroit). As with Aimee's record, we'll see what happens.

This weather sucks.

That is all. Sheesh.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Coincidences

I got a myspace message from my friend Emilio today. He found a picture of me playing bass in his band from August 2004. We played a gig at Alki Beach in West Seattle. I found it, downloaded it and thought it was pretty cool.


Anyway, that was a fun, if wacky gig. Either the day before or the morning of the show, a whole mess of syringes washed up on shore. Of course it was a health hazard and the health department delayed the setup of the show for fear of people's safety. Not only did this delay the show, it cut down on the attendance quite a bit. Long story short, we got bumped to the next day to play, instead of late in the night the first night (lights weren't even set up due to the delay).

That was a bummer because Marci and Haley and Marci's dad came out. Marci was pregnant with Riley at the time and Marci's dad was in town to help out as she was supposed to be on bed rest. Riley wasn't due for a few more weeks and, on one of the hottest days of the year, Marci defied her doctor's orders to support her husband, who never played that day. :(

Shortly after I got the picture today, I received an email from a friend I hadn't heard from in about 3 years. This friend, Kelly, I think, saw my picture on Emilio's site and looked me up. The last time I saw Kelly was... in August 2004, when Riley was born at Swedish. Kelly happened to be working that day and we ran into each other, after not having seen each other in probably 7 or 8 years. I think we traded info at the time, but never got back in touch until today.

One other funny thing. Marci and Haley took a field trip with Haley's kindergarten class today. Guess where they went?

Alki Beach!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Music time!

Should be a good week for music. I got my Jesus on yesterday at church, playing the Tribby (did I mention I got a new bass? Anyway, I did. It's black and it's nice). I will get some rock on tonight with the Lunds. I am looking much forward to that as it's been about 3 weeks since we've really been able to play (the 6 songs at the Sunset don't count). Plus, we need to woodshed as we're going into the studio on 6/13(!) to record some of Chris' songs.

Thursday I'll be rehearsing with the Scheme again. That's going pretty well, though we need a lead guitar to fill things out. Practicing in Bellevue is a treat, though. Damn gas prices!

And I heard today that we will be playing the High Dive in Fremont on Friday, June 20th, with the Small Change and one other band yet to be named. It hasn't been confirmed, but all signs are pointing that way.

Now, it's off to see Riley play tee-ball (and hopefully see no flying bugs!).

Where is my warmth? And Riley and Bugs.

I am tired of being cold when it should be warm. We have had a handful of really awesome days, but recently? Give me a break. I think our heat kicked on last night! Riley wore shorts and a t-shirt to bed last night and woke up with blue lips and frozen snot in his nose.

Not really.

Speaking of Riley, in my last post, I mentioned something about why I took him to ice cream. Anyway, a month or so ago, Marci and the kids were out in the yard goofing around. Marci has been gardening a lot and usually the kids are out there too. Well, this one day, Marci got a little too close to a hidden bees' nest and got divebombed by one. She told the kids to run and she ran as well. She turned around to see where Riley was (Haley booked for the house) and saw him on the ground, flat on his face.

Luckily he didn't get stung, but he was quite alarmed, so she scooped him up and they all high-tailed it inside. Sometime during the ordeal, Marci got stung on the inside of her right biceps. She seemed to have a minor allergic reaction and, after some TLC from the nice old lady next door, she appeared to be fine. Riley, however, was a different story.

After the drama, it became clear that Riley was pretty nervous about going outside anymore because of bugs. He refused to go out, even with Haley. He wouldn't even go out on the deck by himself. We tried to talk to him, to give him "super powers". Heck, we even found a superhero book that came complete with a costume.



Anyway, that seemed to help him inside, but not so much outside. Nevertheless, we kept on it and, as long as we were outside, he was ok.

The other day, I did some yardwork and he ended up following me around, playing on the backyard climber, stuff like that. Afterwards, I told him what a great job he did hanging out and not being nervous about the bees, etc., so I took him to get some ice cream (peppermint, it turns out). Since then, he's been much better. He still has moments around flying bugs (freaked out yesterday when he thought a fly got in the house), but I freak out around spiders, so I guess it's ok.