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Cloudship Spring Break

Actually started the week before Spring Break when I helped my oldest brother move to Taos, NM. Cloudship posted a southwest tour schedule the same day I booked my return flight from NM. There were no DFW dates listed, but just so happens they were going to be in Taos the same time as me. They were playing at the Adobe Bar at The Historic Taos Inn.

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So I got to introduce my brother to Jonathan and Brandon. My parents wanted to see the show, but for some reason when I said Adobe Bar, they heard me say Alley Cantina. They bolted out of the house ahead of us, absolutely sure that it was going to be so crowded they wouldn't be able to get a table. On a Tuesday night at 6:30. They showed up to the Adobe Bar for the second of three sets, but bro and I stayed until the end so we could be part-time roadies/security for the band.

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Anyway, back to the no DFW tour stop thing. Turns out they were going to have some downtime and were hoping they could crash at the house for a few days and maybe, like, do a house show, or something? On my Spring Break when I had zero plans, no less.

Uh... yes, please!!

I invited everyone I knew, but didn't expect very many to show up on a Sunday night. Also, no one ever shows up to my parties. I had fajitas, beer, and music and that still wasn't enough to get people to drive to Euless! We had a decent crowd of about 15-20. Enough to make some new Cloudship fans and not so many that my house was uncomfortably crowded.

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As though I were some kind of Nostradamus, I had just purchased a laser party light on Amazon a couple weeks before. Because everyone should have the option of turning their den into a club. I had it all mounted up and ready for the second half when they got a little bit louder.

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This candle was burning for Bubba during the show (artist rendering).

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Slim made sure to claim their merch case as his own.

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See you next year, Cloudship! If not sooner!

My record bin

Over the Christmas break, they replaced all the cabinets in the admin building. I had to work on the first day of the break and observed the large pile of discarded cabinetry and other wood in the parking lot. I then proceeded to cram as much of it as would fit in my tiny car. I even went back for a second load, but there was only so much I could salvage with limited space and without a saw or other tools. At this point, I had no idea what it was going to be, but hey... FREE WOOD!!! I never pass that up.

This is what I started with: a few large pieces of finished plywood, some cabinet doors (which did not end up getting used), a thin piece of wood from the back of a cabinet, and some loose shelving. I should have grabbed so much more.

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I finally decided that I needed to build a proper record bin so I could display and (more importantly) expand my vinyl collection. I wanted it to have two bins on top and two 12" drawers underneath. While I was at it, I decided it should have some 7" drawers, as well. Every building project always starts with a sketch. My sketches are always very rough and usually contain several, sloppy revisions. Luckily I'm the only one who needs to understand them. Here's what I drew out for this project.
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I hadn't yet foreseen what the front of the drawer would look like when I drew the original plan. I ended up switching to a 1x3 for the structure and cutting up one of the plywood sheets for the drawer fronts. Had to buy 2-8' and 2-6' lengths of 1x3 for that (about $40). As long as the height and width of the drawers was adequate for LPs, I knew the top part would be, so I started with those and built out from there. I was fairly giddy when the first drawer emerged. It couldn't have been more perfect. I had planned on just having the rails on the bottom and leaving it open, but then realized that I had allowed enough room to use one of the shelves for a solid bottom (not pictured).

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I don't have any detailed picures of the bottom drawer construction. Several of the shelves had some nice trim on one edge that I arranged to be facing up on each side. I used the thin piece of wood for the bottom, sliding it into a groove I'd cut on the shelf pieces. I'd never built a drawer before and I'm certain these were not done the "correct" way, but they look and function like drawers, so they count. I used dowels, glue, and screws on the joins and they feel very solid.

Next came the internal structure. This is where the width would be crucial. There needed to be exactly .5" on each side of the drawers for the slides. I had to purchase a sheet of plywood (about $30) for the internal structure and back part of the bin. I finished this with some stain + varnish (about $12) so I wouldn't be dragging my records across rough plywood. It was intended to be a close match to the other finish, but ended up not so much. Who cares.

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Before I put the finish on, I had to clamp everything in place and see how it looked. Not too bad!

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There are eight dowels on each side and some inside brackets holding the side pieces on. The only visible screw holes are on the front panel. Didn't know how to avoid that and would have to paint it to hide them, but I don't really feel like painting it right now.

The 18" drawer slides were over $15 each at Lowe's, but I found some online for around $8 each, so another $24 for drawer slides. The left side width was perfect. The right drawer was a wee bit too narrow for it to reach both slides. I was able to correct this by gluing a thin sheet of wood to the middle brace (not pictured), which I happened to have in my scrap pile. It was much better to be too wide than too narrow at this point!

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Then I added some trim between and below the drawers. Mistake #2: not allowing enough room for the drawer slides. Oops! I do not have the proper tool to make a nice looking notch, so I just muscled it out with a file. That's what I get for trying to make everything look flush. I ordered some low profile pull knobs which just arrived yesterday (another $20).

And here it is all put together in the house! In all its one-of-a-kind, tri-tone beauty, lovingly hand-crafted from found wood by an inexperienced cabinet-maker.

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Happy Birthday Bear

I looked at the Ft Worth animal shelter website a couple weeks ago and had no idea they had so many dogs. Like, maybe hundreds of dogs, with probably over 50 on the code red list. The Euless shelter has a guardian angel and that is Trinity GAP Rescue. Any dog who ends up in the Euless shelter is going to get taken care of by GAP. I can make a difference by volunteering for GAP, which might include fostering, but if I was going to personally make a difference for any one animal, I needed to go somewhere like Ft Worth where there aren't enough guardian angels to save all of them.

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I saw Bear on the code red list and couldn't stop thinking about that face all weekend. So I decided that's what I wanted to do for my birthday. I paid the low, low adoption fee of $24.50 and had him stay there one more night so he could get neutered the next day. They weren't sure if they could do it with the URI, but he had already been on some meds for that, so he must have been well enough.

He was very groggy when I picked him up on Monday. Tried to walk him some to see if he needed to potty, but walking wasn't happening very well. Within two minutes on the road, I look in the rearview and see him taking a dump in the back of my car. Then I turn around and see that he's soaked Zoe's car blanket. (Yay for car blanket! Also, yay for having just sewn a layer of fileted blue jeans underneath for extra support - and as it turns out, extra absorption!) So, Bear was not off to a great start, but he was loopy and my car doesn't smell like pee, so I forgave him.

One $400 vet visit later and he's all fixed up. He is a great dog and I'm happy that I saved him . Still having to keep him separate from Zoe in case any of his infections are still communicable. That's been a little stressful, but they're being patient about meeting each other. Instead of Zoe Bear, from now on it's going to be Zoe and Bear.

Cloudship 2016

My friends, Brandon and Jonathan, of the two-piece band, Cloudship, from Fresno, CA came through town again this week. I met them last year through couchsurfing and have stayed in contact on facebook since then. They're cool guys and hard-working musicians, so I was looking forward to seeing them again on this year's tour. They're 100% self-produced, managed, and promoted, so while it's small-scale in terms of venues, it's grand in terms of months and mileage. They're going all the way to Atlanta and then up the East Coast to upstate New York and back across the Midwest.



They got into town late Wednesday after their gig in Abilene. I figured I might as well go to all three of their shows in DFW since they were at places I'd never been plus wanting to show them support as a friend. Thursday was at Eureka! Burger in Dallas. (I think the ! is unnecessary, but they punctuate everything in the building with it, so it obviously must be important.) It's a California burger chain of which Cloudship has played many locations. Kind of a good, steady, semi-local gig. The place was pretty full, but there were zero attentive listeners. Much to their credit, they don't let that keep them from giving a full performance. They mix in enough covers with their own material to keep the audience into it, but the Dallas West Village douches were clearly at Eureka! to eat and drink, not listen to a band from California.

Friday was at Shaw's Patio in Ft Worth on Magnolia. It's a cool, up & coming part of FW that I'd like to visit more often. Should have known it was going to be outside with the "Patio" part of the name, which is not preferable when it's 100+ degrees. However, it was a little cooler on Friday because that's when it decided, after about 45 days of no rain, to force the party inside. None of their gear is suited for wet weather, so we shuttled everything in a fast as we could. It was a small area in the bar, but there were a few attentive listeners. My friend, Maria, showed up for a little bit. She just moved to a new house around the corner and was still in transition with a nervous Boxer, so she couldn't stay long.

On Saturday, we went down to Deep Ellum to have lunch at Braindead Brewery. We also went to Deep Ellum Brewing to see if they had any specialty bottles he could pick up for a friend. No such luck, but they had a band set up about to start, so we listened to them for a little bit before heading back. Brandon was interested in checking out the drummer's setup since he's self-taught and has been expanding his setup recently.

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Saturday night was at Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas. The front part is a regular restaurant/bar, then there's a concert room, and a patio beyond that. The sound guy was late getting there, so we were done eating before they even did the sound check. It seemed like an upgrade from the previous two venues that there was actually a sound guy. When he walked in, there was no doubt that he looked like a sound guy. The show got started and people would poke their heads in or wander out to the patio, but it was just me and Allison watching the show. When you walked out of the concert room into the restaurant, you couldn't really even tell anything was happening in there because they had other music playing out there. But again, Cloudship never lets a small or non-existent audience keep them from putting everything into it. Another couple showed up for the second half of the show and they were very into it. They were chatting with the band and even bought some CDs.

I'm impressed by their talent and blown away by their drive. More people should hear them, but I don't know how to promote, so I can offer no help or advice. I posted the locations on facebook and exactly one friend responded. So lame. Cloudship is just waiting to get noticed and I hope they do. It could happen in an instant. The next big step would be as an opening act for a larger tour. And I hope they'd still stay at the house because they're always welcome.

Paco's rock garden

I had to dig up and replace some fence posts that had fallen down at the beginning of the summer which resulted in a wheelbarrow full of concrete chunks that I wasn't sure what to do with. I decided they would become a rock garden in what I call, Paco's Corner. One piece in particular was a sculpture that I inadvertandly created by patching up an almost-rotted fence post probably about eight years ago. It's right by Paco's butt in this sun-worshipping photo. One of my favorites.

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That piece became Paco's headstone in his corner rock garden. It's the taller, cylindrical piece next to the former A/C slab. I bought those junipers as part of Paco's garden, but haven't exactly planted them yet, so I might have to replace them already. Rocks, I can totally keep alive. Plants are a different story. Once I got started digging up fence posts, I kept going until I'd done every one in the two sections where I want to replace the fence, which turned out to be eleven posts, i.e. a lot of used concrete.

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I had a little memorial service for Paco to dedicate his garden. I put some of his ashes into his bowl and filled up the water pitcher. I had Zoe "bless" the water by taking a drink from the pitcher. We went out to his corner, put the ashes into his headstone, and rinsed out his bowl with some of the water, which I also put in his headstone. I used the rest of the water for his plants back there.

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He has a great view of the yard and he's always in the shade. I miss you, Bubba.

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State of my critters

I could do a separate post on each animal, but instead I'm going to one, huge, picture-heavy post about all four kids. Two dogs and two cats, two boys and two girls. One of each. They're the best. Here's Slim, Zoe, and Paco lounging with me on the den couch.

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Paco (aka Bubba, Pock, Pretty Boy, Mister Bub) is the oldest of the pack at 14. I got him from the Euless Animal Shelter in July 2002 when I was still in my 20s. He is the sweetest, most gentle guy ever. It would never even occur to him to start a fight or cause any kind of property damage. He does defend our house quite vigilantly, but he's all bark. His outstanding hospitality with guests is the reason I started fostering shelter dogs.

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He's had some setbacks the last few years due to arthritis and muscle deterioration, but is still going strong in his old age. He tore his left ACL in 2012 and had to have major surgery done. He gets a shot of Adequan every four weeks and a 100mg Rovera pill every morning. As the CEO of PacoCorp, he runs the house.

He won't sing for me any more, but he does still love his kitty.

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My Banksy

My mailbox got smashed about a year after I moved into my house. My neighbor assured me that it happened often, as it was the fourth mailbox to get hit at my address in his eight years of living there. Awhile back, I realized it had been over eight years and I was still on that same mailbox. I figured since it was overdue for getting hit, I might as well do something with it.

I thought about painting it on the street side, but decided that would be translated as a target for drivers by, so it faces the house.



It represents the love I send in the mail.

With every public Banksy, there's a private one. Light side/Dark side. My plyo-box represents all the fuckers who want to intentionally fuck your shit up. Watch your back because they're always there.

Racecar School

Ford created a complimentary, one-day driving school for Focus ST owners, the ST Octane Academy. The only catches are that you must have bought the car new and you must get thee to Miller Sports Park in Tooele, Utah, at Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing Headquarters where the course is being held. It's a special chance to learn how to drive our special, little cars more like a pro. The course itself is free, but the optional liability insurance (limits your liability to $5K) is $105. Money well spent, I say. I'm using airline miles to get up there and my hotel was booked on hotwire months ago.

I've been trying not to think about it too much, but then I saw this video.



I don't really say this much, but OMG. I can't believe I'm going to get to do that! They have their STs outfitted with a special handbrake lever, which they call the "Hoon Stick". That makes it easier to do forward and reverse 180s and the 90 degree power slide. These are essential driving techniques. Pretty sure I'm going to need a Hoon Stick on my ST.

Here's the official promo video.



Some dates offer an optional second day where you can have a similar day in a Mustang GT or an off-road course in an F150 Raptor. Those are each $1K for the day, so I opted not to do that. Instead, I'm renting a Mustang GT for the weekend, so I will get to create my own race course between Salt Lake City and Tooele. If they still have spots open for the optional day and want to cut the price by a bunch, then I might still go off-roading in a ridiculously powered 4x4 truck.

Otherwise, I will have a day to sightsee in beautiful Salt Lake City. Where should I go?

The perfect chicken breast

Cooking a chicken breast.  Not that much to it, really.  But how often do they come out as dried up, tasteless mounds of flesh?  They're still a good source of protein, but not that great in a salad all dried up.  I found a great way to cook the juiciest ever chicken breast and felt like sharing.  I'm also more likely to remember if I write it down.  

1. Heat up a skillet on high.  Put a pat of butter and some olive oil in the pan and swirl it around.  The amount is not important; just don't overdo it.  Turn the heat down to medium.  

2. Lightly coat your chicken breasts with flour.  You can also mix in some spices with your flour to add more flavor.  Don't goop it on.  You just want a very light coating.  

3. Cook the chicken breasts on medium for about one minute.  Just long enough to give them a golden color on one side.  

4. Turn the chicken breasts over and turn the heat down to low.  Cover the skillet and cook on low for ten minutes.  DO NOT open the lid at any point from here on.  You're going to want to see how they're doing, but you must resist the urge.  If you open the lid, it's not going to work.  

5. After cooking on low for ten minutes, turn the burner completely off and set the timer for another ten minutes.  Keep it covered!  I know you want to see what's doing in there, but they're not ready yet.  

6. Perfect, juicy chicken breasts.  

You're welcome.  

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The Lost fish

This drill has a name, but out of respect for my buddy, we'll just call it the "Lost fish" drill. To this day, the Lost fish drill is an unmentionable subject around him. He gets this look of terror and anger on his face. In fact, I'm a little afraid that he might find it here and then see fit to kill me. Which I have no doubt he learned how to do when he was a U.S. Marine.

Okay, he's going to kill me.

You have to watch carefully as he does an amazing job of blending in. It starts with one wrong turn and then lost panic from then on. See if you can find the lost fish. We join the Aggies v. t.u. 1991 halftime drill already in progress...

- 0:20 - On the left 35 yard-line, you can see a hole, but then it looks like he corrects.

- 0:52 - On the same side, 45 yard-line, he bumps into the last line, in between two ranks.

- 1:18 - This time on the right 30 yard-line, he starts making his way across.

- 1:25 - Miraculously finds his spot and the crowd applauds.

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