Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Falling in Love Again

It has been a musically victorious pair of days.

The Wife's been wanting to see the orchestra at our local outdoor performing arts center, so yesterday I finally had time to check it out, and as it turns out, the last performace of the season is Saturday. Fanfare and Fireworks (1812 Overture, cannons, fireworks, the whole deal!). So I called her and asked if she wanted to take the family. Perhaps we'll sit on the lawn with a picnic basket and blankets and stuff. She thought it sounded great.

So as I'm on the phone with her, I get an email from HR saying they're giving away 15 pairs of tickets for Saturday's performance and the first 15 people to reply get them.

So guess who one a pair? That's right, me! Sweet! And they're for the reserved area of the center. So I went to the box office today to get tickets for all of us. Kids are half price so I got 4 great seats smack dab in the middle of the place for all of $26! Woot!

So as I'm walking back to the car from the box office, I notice a cool music store I'd not known of and decided to do a quick check it out. VERY nice stuff! Mostly violins, mandolins, acoustic, and semi-hollow guitars, but really good stuff. A few electric guitars (including a couple of REALLY expensive ones). Also, they had a couple of amps.

Now that I've finally got a great gain sound out of my Fender amp, I'm finding that I can't easily switch back and forth from a great clean sound. Solution? I got a line selector pedal that let's me switch between two amps. I was going to use my Princeton Chorus (the one I recorded with) for the dirty amp, and a little practice amp for the clean amp. However, the practice amp sounds like crap. Solution? Of course, get another Princeton Chorus amp! But Fender doesn't make them any more and they're too expensive on eBay.

So I'm looking at the amps in the store and they have a small used Crate amp with reverb and chorus just like my Fender amp. I plug in a guitar that's built similar to my Yamaha and try it out. SWEEEEET sound! And in the ballpark I want to pay! (You know, next to nothing.) So guess what came home with me!

Tonight, after rollerblading, I decided to sit on the front porch for a little and try the amp out. So I plug my baby into it, tweak the settings a little, and HOLY SHIT WHAT A SOUND! It was so awesomely kick ass I cannot even beleive! For a while I was concerned about the new pickup in the guitar, but if the tone is now a little different, it still kicks the ass of any other guitar I've played. The neck pickup is still a little stronger, but I'm really digging the tone out of both pickups and I can use the neck pickup for the most amazingly smooth, bluesy, Claptonesc solos you ever heard! I'm loving my baby like it's new again.

As a side note, I was reading about the new Les Pauls and the article was talking about all the things they're doing to increase sustain and I'm thinking, "Just build it like my Yamaha you idiots!" I keep searching for a guitar built just the way I want it and I keep coming back to the fact that the Yamaha SG2000 is that guitar. Since Yamaha reissued it, perhaps I should just sell my other guitars and buy another one and be done with it.

Hmmm.....sell all my other guitars and get another SG2000.........

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Overseen and overheard


The Wife and I were walking the dog yesterday. As we passed by a neighbor's house, we saw him take out his leaf blower. As the Wife began to mention how much she hates those things, the gentleman proceeds to start drying his car with it. And took longer than if he'd just used a good shammie.


We picked up Maverick from golf today. The Wife asks him:

"What you got in your pockets?"

His response: "My balls." As the Wife covers her mouth and turns to snicker he then says: "My GOLF balls."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

True Tales in IT

Couple of pictures to show you that I took with my camera phone. The first I thought would be a great way to landscape the front of the house. Not sure the Wife agrees:

The next image is a for real shot of our Webmaster's desk. We like to tease him about all the gear he has.

You'll notice (left to right) an HP 2715p tablet PC, iPod, HP DC7700 desktop PC, AND a MacBook Pro. Notice the five (count em FIVE!) screens associated with this rig. Add to this that he's running an application called Synergy which allows him to basically start his mouse on the tablet all the way on the left and continue seamlessly to the monitor all the way on the right. Also notice the little shield in the middle to reduce the glare from the overhead lights.

You might think I was jealous of such a rig. However, keep in mind that I evaluated (and used) every one of those machines (except the iPod of course). Meaning for a time each of those machines was mine. I gave them up because they made me crazy. In my role, I get to choose the gear I want so I always have a good machine.

Still, how many PC's does a guy need? Well, we just purchased a dual processor workstation for the web team as well (specs here for the truly geeky minded). We're talking the kind of machine a gamer would cream their pants over. That's how many.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A little of this, a little of that

Ok, just some updates on what's going on in my world

Guitar: I was thinking of going into excrutiating detail of everything I've done to get my baby back to where it should be. But that would take too long. Suffice it to say that I've tweaked it as much as I can and got it sounding 98%. I think I'll still keep my eye out on ebay for some vintage Yamaha pickups since the pop up every now and then. Next step I think is a second amp. Stay tuned.

Work: My plan is in motion. I'm making stuff happen. Working on the "easier to beg forgivness than ask permission" principle. It's gotten my this far. Wednesday I drove out to Schenectady JUST to attend a 2 hour meeting I wanted to be a part of. Showed of my mad IT skilz and my commitment to the organization. Made sure I checked in with the boss' boss and filled her in on some of the stuff I was working on, just in case my boss didn't get a chance to fully update her yet. Helped her with a PC issue and bonded a little. Touched base with some supervisor type peers and made moves to further my agenda. You watch me go.

Maverick: His soccer team played in a tournament today. Short long story, his team was down 3-0 at the half. They battled back and tied it up at the end of regulation. 2 overtime periods and it's still tied so they go to shootouts. And win! Tomorrow they play the team that plays dirty for the championship. We hope Maverick's team kicks their ass in a dignified, sportsmanlike way.

Grasshopper: We might have to kill him soon. Lately he's been argumentative about everything. And says things in a snotty tone of voice that makes you want to smack him. He's also totally kicking ass in his music lessons. He's working with his band teacher over the summer (she even comes to our house!) and she can't give him new music fast enough. He's even developing an ear and trying to figure out songs.

Wife: Is still smoking hot. And hating me for not buying enough junk food. With my concerns about diet now, and since I do the shopping, not much sweet snacks in the house any more. Hope she doesn't kill me due to withdrawal symptoms. But, as I said, she's still smoking hot. Especially when her ass wiggles walking up the stairs. Ah, the simple pleasures in life!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not quite the same

I've had my baby (the nice black guitar at the top of the page) in the shop a few times lately. The bridge pickup has been cutting in and out. I had the pickup swith replaced and that fixed it for a while. Finally, I was getting next to not output from it (sound was very weak). So I brought it in again and this time they figured out that one of the coils in my bridge pickup must have broken (rare, but it happens). Bascially the pickup was toast and needed to be replaced.

I was big time sweating when I go this news. Any little thing can change the sound of a guitar and a pickup change could MAJORLY change the sound. This is my baby! It sounded perfect the way it was! I was really in a quandry what to do since no one makes pickups like the ones in the guitar. No one, that is, except for Yamaha. As it turns out, they issued a 30th anniversary edition of the SBG2000 with the same pickups mine has. So I called Yamaha and they had them in stock and were kind enough to ship one to me after I paid them for it.

I brought the guitar in 2 weeks ago to have the new pickup put in (the shop was REAL busy). So today I finally got to pick it up. Mind you, I was still concerned that it wouldn't sound the same. Even though it's an OEM pickup, it's over 20 years newer than the one it was replacing. So after I got the guitar (BTW, the shop was totally cool and didn't charge me anything to put the pickup in since they felt bad for taking so long to figure out what was wrong. THAT'S why I shop there). Before I left the shop, I wanted to give it a try to make sure everything worked. So I plug it in to a Fender amp similar to mine. Play the new pickup. Sounds pretty good. Play both pickups. Still not bad. Play just the neck pickup.

It was louder. Obvioulsy louder. And had WAAAAAAY better tone. Uh oh. So I go back to the bridge pickup (the new one). It's definately not as loud. And kind of thin sounding. Not as nice as it used to sound. SHIT!

I picked it up at lunchtime so I had to leave messing with it more until after work. So after dinner I plug it into my amp in the clean channel. I'm not sure I like the sound of that new pickup. Definately thin. I tweak it a little (well, much as I can). Still not much better. Now I'm not happy at all. I try putting it through my high gain rock and roll setup. Sounds ok, I guess, but I'm still not sure. However, I had to take Grasshopper to his soccer game, so I couldn't mess with it any more.

At this point, I'm almost ready to cry. My baby wasn't right, and there's no replacing it. I don't care what anyone says, guitars are unique. Each one, even if the same model, plays and sounds different. This has been my instrument for 20 years. Other guitars have come and go, but this is the one you have to pry from my cold, dead fingers. If it isn't right, I don't know what I'd do.

So after the game, I set up my usual gig configuration and started playing around, all clean. I tried a few different settings, even plugged it into my little practice amp. And while I'm not 100% pleased, I think the pickup is starting to sound better. There's no getting over the volume difference, but it's minimized. I played a few different things, and I still get really nice tone out of the guitar. When playing clean, I don't normally play out of just the bridge pickup since it's just too bright. You get a much warmer sound playing out of either both pickups or just the neck. But when I need to rock, it's all just the bridge pickup.

I'm going to keep messing with it. The real test will be a gig. We have one coming up in August, so we'll see then. In the mean time, I may see if I can find some vintage Yamaha pickups for it. They come up occasionally on ebay, so I might have a shot.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What are we going to do tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the IT department!

So I had a 1 on 1 with the CIO about a week or so ago. It went quite well. We discussed many things, mostly how my team was doing, how our projects were going, the fact my team is understaffed and comparative figures to justify the need for more staff. The CIO said he was on board with the need for more people on my team to support the organization. He asked if I could provide some detailed info for him to go to bat with HR. I had to cautiously mention that the data has been ready for a while and my boss was supposed to review it with him. I then did the smart thing and promised to get him the data by the end of the day. Which I did.

The last subject we got on was my career plans. I slipped in how I was disappointed in not being selected for the second round of interviews. I was told it was because I wasn't qualifed for the position and that I shouldn't expect to "parachute in" to a new job just because I wanted it. While I'm confident I could "parachute in" to ANY job in this department and succeed, I let it drop. However, we did talk about what I wanted to do in the department so I could perhaps focus on that. When I gave him my potential interests, he said, "so you mean everything." And it turns out I did. So he basically told me to pick something.

That got me to thinking.

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

I think so Brain, but how are we going to get the monkeys into the rubber pants?

I sat back and tried to figure out what I REALLY wanted to do. Well, run the WHOLE department and take the CIO's job, of course. But it will take a little while to get there. So where to start on my plan for departmental domination?

At home, so to speak. I realized first I had to build the kind of teams in the department that would be as effective as before our merger. That means first getting the help desk/service desk running right, and then working with our server administration team to get the network set up the way I want. Basically work to build a world class IT infrastructure. Not to be too blunt, but I'm getting the feeling my boss is ineffective in getting things done.

So I've gone on the offensive (known as taking initiative). I'm doing everything I possible can to build the service desk into the organization I think it should be. Fortunately, my counterpart in Schenectady has the same vision I do and told me she supports my efforts. I've begun having meetings to move things forward, getting things done that have been sitting around too long, and beginning conversations with other teams to get the things I want. I did have a quick conversation with my boss to let him know the things I'm doing (in a politic way not even once implying he was holding things up). He was glad I was doing it. In the Navy, we call that "Command by Negation". I'm going to keep on doing what I think needs to be done until someone tells me no.

I've determined my part of the organization needs a leader, and that leader will be me. Look out people, here I come. Get on board or get out of the way.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Help me win!

Mrs. Mogul is having a contest with an iTunes gift card as the prize. So go over there and help me win!

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's new

We've got a quiet week this week. Maverick's off to Boy Scout camp so we're down to one child. It's so much quieter around here. We had a nice holiday weekend. On Friday, we went to see fireworks with Maverick's girlfriend's family. I did mention he's got a woman, right? She's a cute young lady and it was nice to meet her parents. But, man, is that boy already whipped. She was leading him around wherever she wanted.

Saturday was kind of a bum around day. We mostly got Maverick ready to go for camp. We had to get him up at 5 am on Sunday to get him to the troop by 5:30 am to pack the vans. You read that right. We were up at 5 am on a Sunday. Really fun. Howver, once I got him off, it was back to bed baby! We spend Sunday afternoon at a cook-out at my cousin's place. We chilled and had good food. Grasshopper even met some of the neighbor's kids and had kids to play with while we were there.

All in all a nice holiday weekend. Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th weekend as well.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Go buy this now!

I just recieved Deni Bonet's new CD, "Last Girl On Earth". You can check out her blog here.

Holy cow is it a great CD! I got a listen to the whole thing in my car and immediately ripped it to put on my Ipod. I'm throwing the CD back in the car for a few more listens. This will definately go into my heavy rotation file. I recommend everyone go and get a copy! It's amazing. Fave tracks: Fuck It (an anthem for whenever you're having a bad day), I Want To Get Arrested (Grasshopper really liked that one), and Life Isn't Fair. The violin arrangement at the end is hauntingly beautiful.

Many thanks to Deni for overcoming the USPS's lack of ability to deliver a piece of mail and getting me the CD. It was well worth the wait.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

By request

Jeanette requested some pictures of my home to make her feel better about her housekeeping skills, so here are some shots of our downstairs from today (no embarassment meant to the Wife):

When I get a chance, I'll tell everyone about my 1 on 1 meeting with the CIO and my new updated plan to take over the world (well, at least the department, NARF!).