Thursday, October 20, 2016

Out with the old, in with the new

A few months into my stint at Microsoft, I was told I qualified for a discounted phone plan. I was on T-Mobile and looked into it. I was able to get an HTC Radar for free and I was off and running. Over the years, I had that phone, an HTC 8X, a Lumia 900 (briefly), a Lumia 800, and then a Lumia 925.

That 925 I had for the past three years. In that time, I got Marci a Lumia Icon on Verizon (now it's Riley's), another 925 for Haley (which became my backup when she got an iPhone), and Marci a Samsung Galaxy S5 on AT&T.

All that time, I was pretty proud to use the 925. I loved the size of it, as well as the camera. Plus, it did what I needed it to do: make calls, send texts, stay connected, etc. And it did it pretty well.

However, over the past several months, it started to show its age. I had put a developer's preview of Windows 10 Mobile on it as the phone didn't support the actual W10 software. It worked enough to use as a daily driver, but it did have some quirks.

I couldn't always attach photos to texts or emails without the app crashing. Some apps simply wouldn't open unless I tried two or three times. The camera button would trigger the camera (good!) but take about 10-15 seconds to open (bad). And the battery was starting to show its age, which, after 3 years, wasn't too big a surprise.

Worst of all, I couldn't make phone calls reliably. At home? It was a 50/50 proposition. I could call you, but it would probably drop. Or not even dial out. At work? About the same. I'd use wifi calling at either place and it would still be a crapshoot.

It got to be bad enough that the kids at work joked that they were gonna get me a new phone for Christmas, because they know how cheap I am.

Last week, my boss Monique said she had a surprise for me. The next day, she dropped her old Lumia 950XL on me. In other words, Microsoft's flagship phone! Unlocked, dual sim, with SD card storage, wireless charging and iris recognition. I went to T-Mobile to have my sim cut and put it in the phone.

We were off and running!

This phone is bigger than my last, and a bit thinner. I have a 64GB card in with all sorts of tunes! No more shuffling music on and off! The camera triggers within a second or two and takes superb pictures. Calls have been a pleasure to make, and all the apps and functions seem to work great!

I've had the phone for a week now and I am still stoked to have it. The iris recognition is cool, though I still feel like a dork staring at my phone to open it up. The battery lasts all day. I took it off the charger at 6:15 this morning and at 9:00 right now, it's still at 29%.

I've recorded the Scheme the past few days at rehearsal and it sounds pretty dang good for what it is. I'm excited to record some video tomorrow at the Scheme's show, and hope to have someone record us as well.

I'll post some pix and video soon.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Fall update

It's fall and I hate fall. I've already cleaned the driveway, winterized the deck and climbed on the roof to clear the gutters. Inevitably, the gutters will be filled in a week and the driveway will be carpeted with pine needles. Add in 8 months of darkness, wind and rain, and it's 8 months of being a grump.

In other news, get off my lawn.

With regards to music, the Navins are on a mini-break as we have no shows coming up. We plan on going to Easylake to do some recording, but turns out Easylake is on hiatus as Corey is moving to West Seattle soon. We can still practice and write, though. Recording will have to wait.

The Scheme is shaping up nicely. Brett is Brett and an awesome addition to the lineup. We have a super show this month, with Stereo Embers and the Boss Martians at the Lo-Fi. Don't know what a little pop band like us is doing with some heavy hitters like them, but I'll take it.

And then last week I got an email from James, who is the force behind Shake Some Action! He's wanting to get back together for a few shows and new tunes and possibly recording, so he hit up me, David B. and Drummer To Be Announced. I suggested Gregg A. from the Scheme and Gregg seems interested, so we're all gonna meet on Monday to talk it out. Should be fun!

Work is... work. I love the team, I'm getting uninspired at the job. However, I'm changing roles TODAY and with my manager back on the team, I think I'll start feeling better with the new challenges and support. Part of it is my own lack of drive. I'm so caught up in the day-to-day stuff that I'm not finding time to look or explore other avenues of work. I love the company, but I need help finding out what I could do and/or what's available to me.

Pumped about the Seahawks. Pumped about what the Huskies did to Stanford last night and really on the Mariners' bandwagon now that I have Root Sports again and can watch them nightly.

Ok, see you later.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I played the IPO last night, here's a recap.

The Scheme 2.0 played the Skylark Cafe last night as part of the International Pop Overthrow. We were slotted second on a bill with 5 other bands. Here's how it went.

First up was Jason Berk. He was solo, with an electric guitar and some hooky, melodic tunes. Really nice voice and talented guitar player. He came up from LA to play the show. I would have liked to have heard him with a full band; I'm not sure if he plays with one in LA or not, but he was really really good.

The Scheme went next and it was a blast. Getting on stage with my old pals Gregg, Brett and David was fantastic. All three guys are excellent musicians and performers and I loved all of it. We started with a song that David, Gregg and I recorded (Brett added vocals and guitar recently), called Met With The World, and booked right through it.

I was playing through a Yamaha amp that I couldn't really get dialed in. It was distorting hard and I had a hard time hearing it on stage. I was told it sounded good out front, though, so I'll just have to trust that it did.

It was a ton of fun singing David's old songs again, and playing alongside those guys. The set was over way too fast!

Following us was Stay Up, a little trio from Portland. The Navins had played with them a few months ago at the Funhouse. They were OK. I think more seasoning will do them well. They could also use a second guitarist and some backing vocals.

David and Brett's other band, the Pop Cycle, played next. They were on fire! I've seen them several times and I think it was the best they'd ever played. All songs, vocals, instruments sounded great! Jim was on point with his bass playing, and Paul was simply excellent on drums. I really enjoyed David's new songs, New Band and Comeback, as well as Brett's oldies that I remember from the Starchief days. Both David and Brett said playing in the Scheme earlier warmed them up for the PC performance.

After Pop Cycle was a quartet of hipsters called Colorworks. They had shorts on, trendy hair and glasses, and if I based it on looks alone, I would have disliked them immensely. However, as they started playing, they won me over. They were SUPER TIGHT and they were all excellent musicians. The bassist was a tiny little dude on a yellow Jazz bass, with uncomfortably short jeans shorts on, but he was a MFer on the bass and he sang great as well. The other singer played his giant hollowbody guitar right under his armpit, and he was also excellent. The entire band was great, sang impeccably and played some wonderful songs. I really liked them a lot.

Closing the night was a 5 piece with the strange name of General Mojo's. Four guys and a girl. I was gonna leave, but the frontwoman had a floor tom with Indiana Jones on it, so I had to stick around and listen.

I'm so glad I did.

Heather fronted the band, played percussion and shared vocals with the bassist (on a Thunderbird!) named Dune. They did some proggy, funky stuff and they were incredible. The band was tight, the musicianship was incredible and the harmonies were so, so sweet.

Heather and Dune had really awesome stage presence and they played off each other well. The percussion Heather added was so good and timely and really on point. Dune played bass and sang like a champ. And the rest of the band (guitar, keys/sax and drums) was simply excellent. I can't say enough about how great this band was.

It's rare that a 3 band bill has 3 great bands. In a case of 6 bands, I'd think it was even more rare. However, last night at the Skylark, David Bash of IPO did a really nice job of putting together an excellent bill. Here's hoping the next two nights are just as good.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Scheme, 2.0!

Many moons ago, I played in a power trio called the Scheme. 3 mid-thirties guys playing power pop once a week or so, with an occasional gig thrown in for good measure. Over the time we played, 3 babies (all boys) were born and life went on.

We never broke up, but sort of petered out as the lives within the band did indeed go on. David had 2 sons, Gregg had a son, and I was just me (already had the kids).

I think we hooked up in 2007 originally, and just practiced and played. As our lives went on with our jobs, the band started taking a back seat.

In the meantime, the Lund Bros sort of died quietly and I started playing with the Navins. David moved on as well and hooked up with a band called the Pop Cycle, fronted by an old bandmate of mine, Brett Richards. Gregg started playing with a band called Service Animal and we were all back in the game.

We've seen each other at our respective shows and always kept in touch. Back in 2011, the Scheme had done some recordings at Johnny Sangster's studio, but they were just rhythm tracks. David finally got around to finishing them and said he'd like to get the band back together, do a couple of shows.

For the past few weeks, I've been meeting the guys, David, Gregg and Brett, up in the Northgate area for rehearsals. They've been going quite well. We're doing 8 songs or so, and with Brett in the mix to spice things up, the band sounds great. Gregg is such a different drummer than Corey; he plays with power and chops. He's loud, too. When I went to Navins practice the other night, Corey was so quiet, it seemed like he wasn't there.

We're playing the good ol' International Pop Overthrow in a week at the Skylark. Been there, done that, but it's gonna be a lot of fun with this band and playing some oldies but goodies. We have another show lined up and I'm sort of hoping we can keep it going for a bit. This is a good band and I think people would love to hear it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Look Who's Back!

 
A trip to the DOL and $38 gets me my plates back. Now I feel complete!

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Jetta: one week later

I think this new car is a hit. I feel like my favorite part of my day is when I get in the car to go to work, or when I get in the car to go home. I am looking for a new radio online, maybe one that can do navigation, but the OEM one is upwards of $1500.

NO THANKS.

There are some OEM looking radios on eBay and the like, and have bluetooth, but they don't offer satellite radio. Now that I have my free XM, I'm loathe to not have it. However, if and when the previous owner cancels her sub for me, maybe I'll look into it. The cracks on the radio knobs are annoying me.

I keep forgetting to bring a Sharpie with me to see about "painting" the window buttons and the bezel around the shifter. Apparently you can replace the MKV shifter bezel with one from a MKVI. Hmm.

Everything seems to be running great. Mileage is excellent so far. Power is strong, especially when in Sport mode. In reading VWVortex.com, I found something about an inaccurate speedometer on the MKVs, so I tested mine today. GPS app on phone, drove 60 on the car and the phone indicated about 56-57mph. I've been feeling like I've been driving fast in the GLI, like 75 or more, only to be passed by everyone else.

Evidently it's a known thing, called a speed buffer, that VW did to their cars. I guess there's a hack on the climate system that will show me the true sped reading. I'll mess with that tomorrow.

I just love this car. I love how it sparkles in the sun. I love how the flat bottom steering wheel feels in my hands. I am gonna look into getting the LILDRGN plates back on it tomorrow, with a visit to the DOL.

In the meantime, here's a picture.


I'm hoping to get the windows tinted, fix the cosmetics inside (window switches, shifter bezel, radio buttons) and maybe upgrade the radio. That's about it. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This is it: 2007 Jetta GLI

Well, I got myself a new car today. I think I may have gotten the cleanest, nicest, most pristine 2007 car ever gotten.

Blue Book says this car should have upwards of 100k on the odometer. When I took it home, it had 50002. There are a couple minor things that would be expected on a 9 year old car. Most are cosmetic and not really a big deal.

The tires look new. The engine is clean. The seats are fantastic. The trunk is like new!

I saw a few scuffs on the rear bumper. I saw about a thumb sized spot by the right front foglight that's missing the paint. The left rear vent is missing its adjustment lever. The driver's side window buttons are peeling. There are spots around the shifter that are peeling as well. Nearly all 6 knobs for the radio (bass, treble, mids, etc) are cracked.

It looks like the previous owner had subwoofers in the trunk; there's some screwed in wood blocks that hang down from the top of the trunk. They're far enough out of the way, though, that it shouldn't matter.

Also, the previous owner apparently subscribed to XM (and still does) as I am currently enjoying me some XM radio.

The gray color of the car really sparkles in the sun. The headliner is not sagging. The engine and exhaust sound really nice when I step on it. The car has xenon headlights and foglights!

The previous owner kept her window sticker. The car was for sale at $29000 or so. I was able to get it for 1/3 of the original price!

Overall, fantastic first impressions of this car. So clean, so well taken care of. I think it's nicer than my GTI ever was. About the only thing that might need help soon are the brakes, but even then, I'm not sure. It doesn't stop as tight as the GTI did, but, then again, I used the transmission to brake often on that car.

I am super pleased with this GLI. I just noticed when I tried to post at the VW Vortex, that I'd been a member there for 15 years to the day! Which made me remember that I'd bought my original GTI from Chaplin's right around this time 15 years ago. I thought that was pretty cool.

I took a few pictures today before I brought it home. Here they are.






Saturday, July 23, 2016

Car Fun: Narrowing it down

I've been driving the Hyundai the past two weeks since selling my GTI. The Hyundai is a perfectly acceptable car. It holds all my stuff, it looks great, it gets good gas mileage (on regular, no less), it gets me where I need to go reliably, and it's a big hatchback.

Trouble is, it's leased and it's up for turn in/purchase in a week or so.

I like it enough, but it just doesn't speak to me. Not like the GTI did, which I miss quite a bit.

Sure, the GTI had it's quirks, but I understood it. I knew how to get the electrical to work at the touch of a prong. I knew the driver's side door would squeak upon opening. I knew that the cupholders wouldn't eject unless you pressed on it *just right.*

Even with all those problems, I loved that car. I had it for 10 years, longer than I'd had any other car. But it's gone and there's nothing to do about it.

I've been looking around since selling the GTI. I've been looking on Craigslist, thinking I'd just hand over the $2300 I sold the GTI for to the next guy for a reliable car. However, after a few days of searching, it appeared that $2300 would buy me a scam, or something not good. Marci advised me not to do CL, to spend more money on a dealership used car or something.

What?? Spend more money? Well, OK.

I started looking on Cars.com and CarGurus.com and Autotrader.com. I started at about the $8k range, figuring that with a $2300 payment, it would reduce said car to $5700 or so, on which we could make small monthly payments.

I began by targeting price, then started looking at VWs of course. I found some Passat wagons, of the 2004-2005 era, going for $7k to $8k. I headed over to check one out last week, and it was gone. However, I saw a listing for a 2007 Jetta GLI, with about 48k on the odometer, going for $8998. I asked about it, they said it was sold. But it got me looking at the GLIs.

CarGurus.com showed a white one in Tacoma. I had a morning off this week, so I trucked down there to take a look. It was sort of a mess. Missing center caps on the wheels, spray painted taillights, big stain on the back seat, cracked windshield, it was a mess. It was hard to see all the detail in the pictures on the website, but needless to say, though I drove it, I didn't buy it. I also test drove an 07 GTI as well as a Mazda 3 hatchback, both of which were not great.

Fast forward to later this week and I come to find a nice little A4 Avant (2006) on BMW Seattle's website going for $12k (see how my price went up??). I was all excited about it, plus Knight said his boys there would hook me up, so I made an appointment to go see it on Sunday (tomorrow).

Then, after checking out this A4, I get a note about the first GLI going for $8998. Turns out they have it and it was getting cleaned up to be put out for sale. I took a look at the pictures and was pretty excited about what I saw. The car was in great shape and was in Bellevue. I talked to the sales guy a few times today and ended up going to Mercedes Benz of Bellevue to check it out.

I got there, ogled some AMG MB wagon, and then met with the sales rep, Evan. He brought me out back to see the Jetta and I was very pleasantly surprised. Dark gray, with nice 17" wheels. No major cosmetic defects other than some scuffs on the rear bumper, which for a 9 year old car, were to be expected.

I had a seat in the driver's seat, leather, and took a look around. Everything seemed to work. It had the moonroof package, leather seats, bi-xenon headlights, DSG automatic transmission, all the goodies! Inside had some wear and tear on the window buttons (peeling paint) and around the shifter (same), but nothing some black touch-up couldn't fix (maybe a Sharpie?).

He let me take it for a drive and it drove very well. Nice power (200HP) and that steering wheel felt great in hand. I only wish it was stick, but I'm sure I could live with it. He told me the previous owner had it shipped from Boston, where she went to Harvard. I'm not sure how accurate that is; Carfax tells me the car was bought in Boston, the relocated to CA, then up to WA in 2012. Regardless, the car is in better condition than my GTI was and I'm excited.

After driving the GLI, I was pretty much sold on it. We got back to the dealership and I had them put a 48 hour hold on the car. In other words, it's mine to buy or not; no one else can get it.

So, I want it.

And now I have to wait on the funding. I'll have to talk to Evan tomorrow to negotiate pricing. I'm looking to get him down to $8k or so. Then I'll slap down my $1900 ($400 has to go to Hyundai as the disposition fee for turning in the Elantra) and finance the rest.

Sounds easy for now. But a few things have to fall into place on the money side of things. I have the next two days off, but the banks aren't open until Monday. I'm hoping I can talk to Evan tomorrow, get him down to $8k, pay for the car, and have it by Monday. Then we just have to turn the Elantra in, and I'm back on the VW wagon!

Or, maybe not. We'll see what happens. Here are a few pictures the dealership took.




Monday, July 11, 2016

And it's gone



One week later, the GTI has sold. I have cash in hand now and I'm looking for another car. Don't know if we'll lease again as it is a little out of our reach financially. Trying to find something good for cash.

Surprisingly enough, there are some good looking cars out there in the 2k range, as long as I adjust my expectations. Trouble is, I have contacted about 5 people and none of them have gotten back to me. The cars look good in the ONE PICTURE they have, and there is hardly any info about the cars.

It's like they don't want to sell the cars.

Or, the deals were so good, they've already been sold. I guess that's Craigslist for you.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Selling the GTI

For a while now, I've had this GTI that I recently wrote about. The plan was to keep it for Hay when she turned 16.

Well, we just leased a Mazda CX-5 for our big car and now we have the GTI and the Hyundai Elantra GT (for the next month, anyway). We were gonna turn in the Hyundai unless we could come up with a way to get another car for cheap. But likely, we were gonna keep the GTI, warts and all.

Marci started thinking about things and felt uncomfortable about letting Haley drive the GTI even though it was 2 years down the road. For me, the GTI is fine. I get all the quirks and know how to handle them. It has never not gotten me to where I need to go. But for a first time driver, as well as a first time stick driver, Marci thought it wouldn't be great for Haley.

So we started thinking about what to do. Enter the 4th of July ads for Hyundai of Kirkland. They showed a 2016 Elantra GT, with $1499 down and a $99/month payment! Sure, we'd be leasing 2 cars and owning none, but from a monthly financial perspective, it would work out for us. Trouble is, we don't have the down payment.

Unless...

I put the GTI up on Craigslist this morning right before 11am. I listed it at $2599. At about 11:10, I received 2 phone calls. One guy asked about it, then wanted to talk to his son. The next guy asked a few questions and basically said he wanted it. He was nearby and got to the house by noon. We took it for a drive around the neighborhood and he was sold. He drove up in a MKIV Jetta (same vintage as the GTI) and was a self-proclaimed VW guy, so that made me feel good too. He offered to buy the car right then and there.

I was pretty excited and started getting everything together, including what I thought was the title. But it wasn't. We looked around and couldn't find it. This guy, Daniel, said he still wanted it but we needed the title, so he left while Marci and I tore the house apart looking for it.

Needless to say, we never found it, so we filled out a lost title affidavit, which, once notarized, acts as as a temporary title. But we had to find a notary that was open/would work on a Sunday. We were able to find a local woman who did it, so we went over to her place tonight and had the affidavit notarized.

I've contacted Daniel in the meantime, let him know I'm ready for him, and... he's gone radio silent. Texts, phone calls, etc. I'm not ready to write him off yet; he seemed like a solid guy, had cash in hand this morning, but now I'm wondering if he found something else. He said he'd been looking for a car but was always the last caller. Today, he was the second caller.

I did take the GTI for a quick goodbye drive to get gas today. I stomped on it getting on the freeway and then took it on some twistys on the way back home. This is such a fun car to drive! But now I'm starting to feel like it's time. Sort of depends on Daniel, I guess.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Always learning

For years and years and years, I've worn some silicone "tree"-like earplugs when I'm playing bass or going to shows. The ones I have are similar to this, but clear and made for music.
They cut out enough and let me hear what I need to hear, while protecting my ears at the same time. Or so I thought.

Last night at band practice, we really focused on vocals for a change. I recorded our last show, and let's just say that the vocals left a bit to be desired. The sound guy and mixed them hot, and I had the camera mic right near the speakers, so those hot vocals really jumped out on the video. Though not 100% awful, it's not good enough to let others hear.

I've known that we've always had opportunities to get better vocally, but we never really worked on it. We always felt we were close enough. After seeing that video, we definitely need to get better.

For a while now, with the Navins, at least, I've always thought I sang in key and as close to pitch as possible. Of course, I've never sang lead before the Navins, either, so a lot of what I'm doing is new. But I feel like over the past year or so, I've gotten a lot better.

When I heard the video, I still felt that way, that for rock and roll my vocals were good enough. That with more practice, I would get better than "good enough."

Last night during practice, Corey and I worked on our vocals. He sings a lot of backing vox and I always thought he would be flat. I was surprised when both Cain and Gary commented that my vocals were off a bit. Not that I'm not blameless, but to my ear, I always seemed to hear Corey's vocals tailing off.

I was getting a little frustrated as I couldn't tell how I was missing my notes. Then I remembered I had another set of earplugs I got from work a few years ago. I forget the brand right now, but I tried them on and a few things changed. I could hear a lot more treble; Corey's high-hat really cut through and stood out. Also, my bass seemed less boomy. But, most importantly, I heard my vocals in my head a lot better.

Normally, I've been singing with my nose literally resting on the mic. That allows me to sing with my eyes closed and not be blindly hovering away from the mic. It also allows me to hear myself better as I'm closer to the mic. Right on it, actually. But in doing so, anytime I sing loud, it really overpowers the mic and it's just too much.

I'm working on modulating my distance from the mic, but with the other earplugs, I'm able to back off quite a bit and still hear myself. I felt like I was really able to grab onto the notes I had to sing and hold. Thought I lost a lot of the bottom end of my bass, which I missed, the frequencies I gained in my vocal listening really made up for it.

We have a show in about a week and a half. It's our biggest show to date, being at the Sunset for the first time. We're opening for two bands with some juice (Guns of Nevada and the Meices) and we expect to see a lot of people there. With just one more practice to go, here's hoping we can get the vocals dialed in so I can post a video without fear of embarrassing ourselves.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New watch: Citizen NY2300-09G

Sometime last week, I entered a contest on a watch website I frequent, www.watchuseek.com. On that forum, I've become a frequent poster in F71, otherwise known as the Affordable Watches forum. Every once in a while, when a member hits a milestone of posts about watches (it's up to the poster), they'll do a contest.

In this case, a member named KrisOK started a contest where the prize was a Citizen NY2300 automatic diver watch with a Pepsi bezel. He posted some pictures and I liked how the watch looked. He wanted us posters to note that we wouldn't flip the watch (worth about $90-120) and explain how we got into watches in the first place. He said he would choose a winner at random. Here's what I posted:
Brother, I would wear that with pride. I can't promise it to be an everyday wear, but it would make its way to the top of the rotation, for sure.
I've worn watches since at least high school. I wish I had photos of the ones I had back then. I remember a Patek Philipe homage of some sort I got from my folks when they visited Taiwan.

I remember Casios, both digital, analog and digi-analog. I remember a green Timex digital, likely an Expedition of some sort.

I got my first "real" watch when I got married. In fact, I got two. One was a Rolex from my parents. It was gold and beautiful, but not my style. The other was an Omega Seamaster, which was given to me by a family friend. That became my daily wear for 14 years or so. During that timespan, I did get a Timex Ironman ana-digi (the one that Will Ferrell wore in "Stranger than Fiction") and that made it in the rotation for a bit.

Even so, I wasn't "into" watches; I just wore them to tell the time.

About 2 years ago, I started talking to a guy at work who always had a different watch on. He told me about a "world" of "watches" website, so I started looking there. Like a previous poster, I had no clue about the markup on watches and thought these deals were fantastic. As well as the ability to pay $30/month for a few months for a watch. I never did buy a watch from there, though, just started looking.

Then, through the power of the internet, I discovered WUS. I started reading and researching and really found a home here on F71.

As I had a birthday coming up, I took that occasion to purchase myself a Casio EFM-100 diver, orange bezel, incredible bracelet, off of eBay. That started me down this path. I've probably purchased between 20-30 watches since then, sold 10-15 of them, and have settled on my current rotation of 16. I've given my 11 year old son my Casio Royale (on a red/blue NATO!), my wife a Timex Weekender chrono and a Withings Activite Pop, and my daughter my pair of Old Navy specials (2 field watches found for $5.98 each).

This year, I started a Project 365 for watches. I've posted many of them here at WUS in the WRUW threads, but I have every watch I've worn since 1/1/16 in a photo album at Flickr. (https://www.flickr.com/gp/gwonchang/oBKS05)

I am on F71 several times daily, perusing the WRUW threads, the epic "Is there no love for Timex" thread, Huunuu's "$20 and under" thread, and many many others. The respect, obsession, humor, dorkiness, and passion we all have for our timepieces (and each other) is what keeps me coming back.
A week or so passed and I checked into the thread from time to time. There were a lot of cool stories about how people became enamored with watches. A few days later, I got an email notification from Watchuseek.com. Usually I get these when I'm selling a watch or something. I had forgotten about the contest.

Needless to say, I won! KrisOK had used a random number generator website and out of 63 entries, my lucky number 18 won the watch! It just showed up today, and I had the pleasure of opening it up when I got home from work. Here are some photos.

A nice note from KrisOK

He had this thing wrapped nicer than watches I've purchased!

Free microfiber cloth and more bubble wrap.

He also gave a soft denim NATO strap along with the watch itself.

Brand new Citizen NY2300-09G, unworn!

Watch and tag.

Tried to put it on, but couldn't. Check the buckle. :)

After a quick strap flip, the time is set and the watch is on!

The stock, rubber strap.

Super stoked for this watch!
So there you have it, the new Citizen on the wrist. Other things I loved about winning this watch:
  • I don't have any Citizens, so this is my first!
  • I don't have a Pepsi diver, so this is my first! I've been eyeing a Seiko SKX009, but never got around to getting one.
  • KrisOK found it too small for his wrist. I think it's perfect for my little wrist!
  • Getting a free denim NATO.
Now I need to plan for my giveaway. I'm coming up on 1000 posts as well and I'm looking forward to paying it forward.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ethyl at Tommy's 9/28/01 (video)



Tommy's was a place in the U-District way back. It was on the Ave and I don't remember much about it other than we played there a few times and the big garage door backdrop is cool when cars drive by.

Ethyl at the Lakepointe, 9/1/01 (video)


We practiced all summer at the Olympic Foundry, in the Georgetown area of South Seattle. If you look down at a manhole cover or a sewer grate, chances are it says Olympic Foundry on it and now we have something in common.

This show was played at the Lakepointe, a bar and grill in Kenmore. I remember a woman named Deb Rock used to book the place and for whatever reason, booked us there. I think we were on a bill with some friends' bands also, maybe Healer?

These were the days when you could still walk your spouse/girlfriend to the gate in the airport and not have to stand in line. A few days after this, I was in San Diego and then 9/11 hit and, well, you know the rest.

The video is boomy and loud and distorted in some places. I think I shot this before I got the off-camera mic, which cuts eliminates the distortion but may reduce some of the bombasticness too. I don't know. Either way, this show sounds pretty good and for a first show, we played pretty well.

Ethyl at the Central, 10/1/2001 (video)


This video is from 2001, the first time Ethyl played the Central in Pioneer Square. I don't recall how long we'd been rehearsing by now, likely just a few months. Even so early in our time together, we were pretty tight.

Both Johnny and Rob are not playing music in bands now. Well, Rob plays at church, I think, but in chatting with Johnny last night, he's been unable to find a band to work with in Roseville, CA. Which is a crying shame. The guy is a natural; looks great, sounds great, charismatic, funny, and people eat him up.

Since I've been doing the co-front man thing with the Navins, I've really wanted to up my between song banter. Usually I try not to say anything. However, sometimes, you just need to say something to break up the awkward silences during guitar tuning sessions, etc. At our last show, I said some things and I didn't hate them all. When I watch Johnny, he's clever and effortless and almost always cool. I feel like I'm trying too hard.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Get ready for more videos. Most of them will be from Ethyl. If you want to see more, you can look on my youtube page here: LINK.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dusting off the oldies

Video 8 tapes and cassette tapes.
I was cleaning out a cabinet today and decided to go through old tapes. I had pulled out the video tapes last week to find a tape to record over for my Navins show. In the meantime, I left all the video 8s out. I organized them into piles. By far, the most tapes go to Ethyl. There's a big family stack, and then some other bands and some dedicated to Hay or Rye.

As far as cassette tapes go, I found a couple of Grasshopper tapes, some live recordings, and even some Whiskey Dick tapes. I'm talkin' mid-90s for those. Additionally, I found some old mix tapes and recordings from the radio!

Trouble is, I don't have any tape players in the house that work. There's an old Pioneer we've had sitting around, but last week when I tried it out, the tape decks don't work at all. I'm thinking Hay or Rye should have one from when they were younger laying around somewhere. I'll have to get those into the computer.

In the meantime, I've been downloading via video camera into my computer. I've downloaded a band I played in in the late-90s to about 2000 called While Away. We'll see if they see the light of day.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Hunt: update

Contact has been made and the Sterling has been located! I still don't know where in the world it is, but a nice man named Oliver is the current owner. We have started some internet correspondence and I've made it known I'd like to see about obtaining it somehow.

Stay tuned.

The Navins at the Blue Moon, 6/11/16

Well all right! Saturday was my first time playing at the Blue Moon on 45th. Last time I set foot in there was maybe 20 years or so ago when my sister-in-law, Alison, and her husband, Todd, lived up here. It was before any of us had kids and we had gone there on New Year's Eve. Well, we ended up there, somehow; we didn't plan on going there, I don't think.

But, even so, I'm guessing that 20 years ago, the only things different about the place were the hi-def widescreen TVs. Of which there was only 2. Still had books on the shelves, likely still had the same clientele there also. Leave it to the Navins and crew to modernize the place up.

First up was a little power trio called Vibragun. Joel on guitar and vocals, Crystal on bass and vocals and not sure about the drummer's name, but I think it was Preston.

Vibragun. Check 'em out!
They played a nice, tight set of shoegazy rock. Lots of pedals on stage, lots of different sounds, very moody stuff. As bands go, I enjoyed their stuff. Plus, they were nice! And Crystal played some badass bass! Her small hands looked like they couldn't do it, but she did awesome.

Next up was The Fucking Eagles. Apparently they get their name from the movie The Big Lebowski, where one of the characters hears the actual Eagles and mutters something about, "the fucking Eagles."

As they set up, it looked like there were about 7 of them. Turns out, it was a 5 piece (drums, bass, 2 guitars and a harmonica) and a guest on 2 songs. They were rough and riotous. It was dirty and nasty and their drummer was like Animal back there. They should put him up front, he was so entertaining.

The Fucking Eagles. Look out!
We took the stage after them and there was a nice little crowd there for us. I had six people there, 66% of which were lesbians! I found it amusing.

For such an old club, the Blue Moon had a decent monitor set up. At least I could hear myself pretty well. The sound guy only miked the kick drum and vocals, though. Our amps did all the rest. From where I was, though I could hear Corey's drums just fine, I felt like he was playing at practice volume. I didn't feel much energy from him, but it could have been him playing it safe as he was having slippery bass drum issues.

Emoting at the Blue Moon.
Sort of weird, though. I felt like we had a rough night. I did, at least. I had a several times where I forgot words, or sang the wrong words. I also wore my hair down and I didn't realize how hard it was to see the frets through hair. There were a few songs where I simply played wrong notes!

People didn't seem to care, though. Everyone had a good time. Even our onstage banter wasn't too awkward. Usually I don't like talking much, but I figured I should practice in case none of the other guys want to talk.

Overall, we played pretty well, despite my errors. I did bring my old Sony Video 8 camera to record our show. I've had that thing since at least 2001 or so, as I recorded lots of Ethyl shows with it. This is the first show I've recorded in years and, after reviewing it when I got home, it sounded great, it looked pretty good (only 480p; this was before HD), and, yes, there were errors, but not as bad as I thought.

I know that as the player, you're always your worst critic. Despite my misses, I need to remember that I'm pretty good at what I do and even though there were some clams, the show was pretty good. The video is processing right now and I'm gonna get it to the guys. After that, we'll put it on youtube for people to check out.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Hunt

All this bass talk recently, especially regarding my bass genealogy has gotten me looking around for my old Sterling.

According to this post, I traded it away in August 2008. I was happy with the Lakland I traded for, but in the years I've had that bass, it's been firmly entrenched as a #2. I play it at home, but I rarely gig with it. I'm just that in love with the SB-2.

However, I do think of the Sterling from time to time. I remember the guy I traded it to (Mr. Matt on talkbass.com) had it for a bit, and then he moved it on to someone else. Thanks to the talkbass.com website, sales on the board are tracked and rated much like ebay transactions. Some sleuthing and note taking show the bass went from: 

Me: 1995 to 2008
Mr. Matt (Bothell area): August 2008 to March 2009
willsellout (Astoria, OR): March 2009 to August 2009
RD (Seattle!): August 2009 to October 2009 (2 months!)
Basspro (Las Vegas): October 2009 to November 2009 (One month!)
Spufman (CT): November 2009 to April 2013
liverbird (overseas!): April 2013 to ???

And that's where the trail goes cold. I did send a message to liverbird (I'm thinking UK with a handle like that) to see if he still had it or if he knew where it went. Might be sort of creepy, but I really don't care. Marci told me once if I could get it back, I could get it back. But I gotta find where it is first.

All the guys that have had it sing the praises of it. The bass got a little of a reputation on TB as a beautiful bass, with a neck that has bird's eye maple on it the likes of which none of them had ever seen. So much love for that thing. And now I'm wanting to bring it home.





Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Riley on bass

Sometime last week I was noodling around on my bass and Riley sat next to me on the couch. I don't recall what sparked the discussion, but before long, he was asking to play it.

I set him up with my Lakland (it has lower action than the G&L) and showed him a few basics. Initially I wanted him simply to fret with his left hand and then pluck with his right. I showed him where his finger should go behind the fret in order to let the note ring. I showed him how the note would choke if he had his finger improperly placed.

He messed around for a bit and that was that. But he did ask if I was going to leave the Lakland at home...

The past few days, he's been playing on and off a few minutes at a time.

Tonight he came down with a printout of Yankee Doodle, complete with bass tab. I taught him how to read the numbers on the lines (it's like reading music for people who can't read music), and away he went.

I did tell him that since he can read music, that tab is just for him to learn the relation of the notes to the neck. That he can't rely on the tab to read music.

But he played for about 15 minutes and he was picking it up pretty well. I started playing bass after 7th grade. He's just finishing up 6th grade. Unclear if he'll continue, but it's a cool start and I'm stoked that he's showing some interest.


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

My basses: the high school years

Today's my day off. I dropped some junk at a local recycle place (3 computers, monitor, TV) and of course stepped in the guitar shop next door.

Hanging on the wall was a beautiful orange/white G&L SB-2T. I played it for a few and really liked it. But for $1300 or so? I will just have to slum with the SB-2 I have now.

It got me to thinking, though. What basses have I had over the years? Do I have photos?

Well, lots and yes. But I'm too lazy to look for photos of all of them so off to the web I go.

Ibanez Soundgear.

Me and said Soundgear at my high school graduation.

My first bass was an Ibanez Soundgear that my parents got for me out of a Musician's Friend catalog. I must have been a sophomore or junior at the time. Played it for many years. It ended up being with me at least until 1995 or so. I think I gave it away in the early 2000s.

Kramer Fretless bass. If you look under the bed on the first picture above, you'll see the case for this bass!
Somehow I thought I needed a fretless bass. I got a model like this from a local music shop. I remember the forked headstock and the metal down the back of the neck. I also remember the giant black knobs: clear plastic with numbers inside. The bass was super heavy and I could never get the intonation right. I don't remember what I did with it, but it's not part of my life anymore.

Kramer acoustic bass
Weirdly, friends and I thought we'd be able to busk at markets to "get our music heard." Rather than lugging amplification around, we'd use acoustic guitars. Hence, the acoustic bass. For some reason, I think the one I had was a Kramer as well, but I can't honestly remember. This bass I didn't have for too long.

Hohner headless bass.
I first became obsessed with Rush during my sophomore year. I had heard Tom Sawyer before, but I was 9-10 at the time. When I played in a band called the Roundabouts in my sophomore (?) year, we did some cover tunes (So Lonely by the Police, Jet Airliner by SMB, IIRC) and for some reason, I was reintroduced to Rush. And then when I saw Geddy Lee playing his little Steinbergers and I saw a copy at that same local music store (was it MusicWest? I can't remember), I had to have one.

This little guy was tiny and sounded like crap. Then again, I had a crappy amp (still have it: Peavey Basic 40), and didn't have any clue (still don't) on how to get good tone. I loved the little kickstand you could use to play the bass while sitting down. It also had a XLR output on it for those times when you wanted to go direct to the board. That bass somehow ended up in the hands of an old bandmate. I don't know if he still has it but I'ma gonna ask. Maybe it'll make its way back to me.

Of course, knowing what I know now about basses, I wish I'd have "borrowed indefinitely" the basses I played in my HS jazz band. Every morning, I'd show up for jazz and play either a Fender P or a Fender Jazz bass. At least I think there was one of each. There definitely were 2 Fenders at my disposal. There was a big ol' Fender Bassman amp and cabinet, too. I'm sure they've all been put out to pasture by now.

I think those are the basses I had in high school. It wasn't until I got out of college that I graduated to other basses. I'll write about those next.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Talking about hair

I've been growing my hair out for awhile now. That's not to say I haven't gotten it cut; I get a trim every now and then.

These days, it's pretty long. I haven't measured it, but it nearly hits the middle of my back if I pull it straight. I usually wear it in a ponytail or some sort of bun.

I've always been fascinated with how people can put their hair up so effortlessly. I mean, I can do it too, but it never looks how I want it. Even Haley just twists, tucks and POOF! Perfect bun. The girls at my work, too. They do the same thing and their hair always looks good.

Me? It's hit or miss.

Laurel sent me a link to a video of a woman doing 6 different types of buns. All of them look awesome (though quite girly; I might be able to pull off one of them), and the model makes it look SO EASY.

I just tried twice and it looks like a small bird has made a home on top of my head.

Maybe tomorrow will help. I have a haircut scheduled. I'm planning on having Michele layer it, and probably more importantly, trim my awful sideburns. Ugh.

I'm hoping the layering will allow me to wear my hair down from time to time. Currently, if I do that, it's all one length and looks weird.

What I refuse to become is the guy with the long hair simply for the sake of having long hair. There's a dad in Riley's old boy scout troop who had hair to his waist. He always carried a DSLR around shooting pictures of his sons and the troop. He had no business having hair that long. It was like having a giant spoiler on the back of a Toyota Prius. Totally uncalled for and unnecessary.

I don't want to be that guy. I'm always asking for validation and I think people aren't just telling me what I want to hear.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Map stalking my old houses

I was cleaning downstairs the other day and found a copy of my birth certificate. On it listed the apartment that my parents brought me home to after I was born in 1972. I don't actually remember that home, of course, but seem to remember from pictures I may have seen sometime in my life.

I sent the link to my internet-savvy mom, who confirmed that it was the place I went to first from the hospital. The place is actually for sale and is near the Ohio State University campus.








Not great pictures, but downloaded from Zillow, except for a screen capture from Google maps.

From there, we moved to an apartment about 5 minutes northeast. It appears to be across the street from the OSU School of Law.





I
t looks like these apartments are now mixed use buildings, one of which houses a Jimmy John's (or, if you're feeling fancy, a James Johnathan's). If JJ's was there when I was a baby, we may have never moved.

A few years after that, we moved to Dayton, OH, into a real house! I have very slight memories of this place. Mainly that it was across the street from an elementary school, and also that it had a wraparound driveway. The driveway was at the side of the house, and you'd have to go around to the back of the house to park.




We left this house sometime in '77 or '78. My baby brother was born in March of '77 in Dayton, but I don't recall how long we stayed before moving to Bellevue. From this house, it was to the house I lived in until I graduated from Newport. Mom still lives there now.


After HS, I stayed at the dorms at the UW, then an off campus apartment in an old house. I don't have any pictures of those places handy.

And then, in '95 or so, it was into Newport Hills, to the same house I'm posting from now.

I can't believe I've been here almost 21 years. Hay mentioned that I've moved more than she has, which is true. She's never moved!

At this point, I can't imagine us moving, anyway. We love the neighborhood and the house, too. It would be hard to move and start over. Besides, we wouldn't be able to afford it right now. So, we'll just make ourselves comfortable.