Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who would have imagined... Christmas in July? Aztecs celebrate Christmas?!?!

Been far to long since I have taken the time to blog, so without further ado...

Tonight I snack with my wife and a long time family friend, watching the BBC series Cranford. It would appear I am officially taking part in a impromptu "ladies" night. As unnatural as this may seem it shall not come as unnatural for me to blog about what we are eating as a part of my first ladies night being here in Tulsa OK.

It all began with a phone call from wife making sure I was still up as this would decide if she would be purchasing enough goodies for me to par take of. I was in the middle of fiercely nodding off while listening to a youtube blogger ramble on about new products offered by Kel-Tec Industries from the 2010 shot show. I'm sure this shocks you all.

"And there I was..."

The knock at the door, signaling that they had arrived, came just as I was getting to the product I started watching the video blog for in the first place. In typical fashion I dropped what I was doing to get the door, after all there was food involved. I was immediately presented with an ice cold mountain dew completely swathed in condensation from its trip from the store. After chugging it down quickly, for it was to keep me up late and awake for the "chick" flick, I was presented with a tightly sealed can of hot cocoa powder. After asking for a fork to pry off the lid and having the can removed from grasp as it was decided she might as well open it herself if she had to get me a fork, I quickly setup the TV for the DVD and hurried back to a quite room to finish my video. I could hear the food being prepared in the kitchen, the struggle of fork and can kept me quietly amused. The thunder of popcorn in the microwave was an expected rhythm. I was almost immediately made aware of a rather HUGE mosquito that I identified as a harmless crane fly and food preparation continued.

"Let the good times roll..."

The food was ready. The first thing I was presented with was some tortilla chips and spicy queso dip. Not to out of the ordinary until you discover what comes next, yes the famous fork wrestled can of cocoa, but not just any cocoa this cocoa has a kick! Unknown to me at the time the cocoa I was about to drink was spiced with red pepper in the tradition of the Aztec Indian culture. I was not only surprised by the cocoa as a selection with chips and queso but pleasantly surprised by how the spicy cocoa complemented my salt and cheese saturated palate. The hot spiced cocoa filled ones mouth with a dull fire that would continue to bring out the heat of the queso as it was swallowed. It was an absolutely delightful culinary experience I certainly did not expect. A bag of kettle cooked popcorn and an Oreo Klondike bar later I can certainly make it through any gambit of "chick-i-ness" this movie series has to offer me. I thank God everyday for a forward thinking woman who looks out for her man.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Martin 000X1 Acoustic Guitar Reviewed

I just picked up a new acoustic guitar which is replacing a beloved but long borrowed Dean. Thanks Cassandra! I bought it based on a number of factors, mostly the price point, but I didn't have to compromise on the tone I was going after at all! I wanted a very percussive bluesy acoustic tone with some mid range bite, so naturally I was looking at the 00 and 000 size guitar bodies. I really didn't want a cutaway, nor did I want a dreadnaught, I also didn't need built in electronics as its primary use will be in small intimate settings. This "Auditorium" size guitar fit the bill nicely.

The guitar itself is very "ECO" friendly, meaning the only "real" pieces of wood on it is the solid sitka spruce top and rose wood fingerboard. The neck and back and side are made out of HPL (high pressure laminate, think wood flooring.) and look really good for being "fake". While I'm not a green nut I suppose its nice to see a guitar company trying other materials, even though I think most of the going green is marketing and hype right now. You can check out the full specs on the guitar at www.martinguitar.com

I played a number of guitars before deciding on this one including some Taylor, other Martin, Ibanez, Takamine, Yamaha, and Fender. I played a few guitars made from all "real" wood that sounded like pooh and some others that sounded slightly better then the 000x1, but not double the money better. That particular guitar was a higher end Martin. Just as a note, if you think these laminate guitars are poop, go play Martins version and use your ears, not your preconceived ideals. These are considered "lower-end" and I would say thats only because of the price-point. These are crafted in Mexico but the quality control levels are typical Martin. On that note I think its fair to say that Martin Guitars, no matter what the material, just seems to have something all others don't. I can't tell you what it is, but its something in their build design and/or process that makes a Martin a Martin and makes all others, well... others. Granted Taylor has this quality as well and that choice is strictly preference, but at this price point Martin wins hands down in my opinion.

Onto initial impressions, when you first pick up this guitar the first thing you will notice is its smell, it smells absolutely grand. I believe it would be along the line of what Lucy must have smelled as she entered the wardrobe, absolutely Narnian scent. I'm not sure if its the HPL or the sitka spruce top or a combination, but its spectacular aroma therapy out of the box. I know its a guitar but I have found my wife opening the case to smell it so it must be worth mentioning. The guitar feels great in the hand and on the hip, light strong and smooth, no shiny finish here, the top is hand rubbed and lets all the grain come through in the buff. The precision of the binding on the neck and the thickness of the fingerboard really let you know Martin made sure they were not skimping on the quality of the build even if the materials are "lower" grade. Its all these things that make this a Martin. The action on this guitar was the best I played in its price range and while not "electric" fast/low it didn't affect my playing at all.

Here it comes, the TONE. The tone is amazing for this price point. Its fantastic if you like Martin tone but can't afford your dream Martin. Look for your equivalent "dream" model in their "X-series" line and then go play it and find out what I'm talking about. Its not as good, but its not %50 or more off either when relating tone to dollars. The tone is mid to bright but not brash and the low-end is naturally rolled off with this smaller body shape that gives it that great bluesy folky sound. Open chords are strong and loud, each string rings clear. The tone is very balanced and rich. The sustain on the guitar is surprisingly long and the volume doesn't drop-off of sustained chords/notes as one would expect from this smaller bodied guitar. Playing bar-chords further up the neck yields nice chime tones. Finger picking this guitar really gives some of the best tones this guitar has to offer. It reacts to all the nuances of your fingers in a way I've only experienced on a Martin. The top of the guitar just seems to be "alive" as long as the strings are resonating.

Long term - The thing I'm curious the most about these HPL built guitars is the long term tone quality. Will they still open up the more they are played? I certainly hope so, and I have a good feeling it will, after all the top is the most important piece in this equation and its as real as all the Martins. I'm not sure if its that I just gotten more familiar with this guitar over the last few days or if its already started to open up as I've really spent some time in the wood shed with it, but it sounds better now to me then it did when I bought it. Whatever it is I like it!

Longer Term - If the need arrises for electronics I've already decided to put in something from L.R. Baggs that I won't have to alter the guitar for in anyway. Perhaps an M1 paired with their venue DI box. Regardless, I'm sure I'll still over analyze the decision to death when the time comes.

Conclusion - If its in your price range, you really can't go wrong with the 000X1.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Night on the floor

The bitter cold and airy night surrounds me
All those close to me are closer still
The soft kiss of winters frigid lips
Bring me more then a first loves fill

The sweet aroma of my loves hair
Burns my sinus, traveled through dry air
The quiet grunt of a child sleeping
Reminds me who I am keeping

The morning breaks and brightness falls
All that was dark turns into walls
The once cold airy night
Turned into warm and glowing light

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cubicle Food, Survive ANY project climate in a healthy way...

Food, it loves me and I it. Food it moves me and is something I've always enjoyed. Food, when your 6'7" and 220 lbs it gets expensive...

Cubicle Food, by my definition, is food that you can keep and prepare in your cube at work without having to use such luxuries as the fridge down the hall. After all the security guard likely steals out of it for his midnight snack. Some common examples include things like:

Clif Bars / protein bars
Beef Jerky
Tuna (sauced up with Tabasco, or peppered.)
Peanut butter (slice a banana on some peanut buttered bread for energy)

These are just to name a few. Notice these aren't the usually unhealthy things sitting in our drawers like candy bars and gummy bears, although they have their place, I love me some gummy bears. If you were really looking for the self sustaining cubicle I suppose you could go more exotic and pack things like MREs into your cabinet.

If your into shopping on Monday to get food for the week to stock your cube you can even go fresh fruit routes, apples, bananas and even pears. Some times a fresh vegetable is called for like carrots or radishes. There are many possibilities and alternatives to snagging that bag of Doritos or powdered donuts out of the vending machine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Extra ways to make money...

All to often we sometimes find ourselves looking for extra ways to make money when all we really need to do is look at some ways to spend less money. I'd throw out a guess that its easier to spend less money now then it is to make "extra" money. For example, for me a simple 10 minute exercise yielded a list of a few things I can do to spend less money on some of the things I love:

1.) Make my own coffee in the morning (use that wedding gift)
2.) Thrive at work on "cubicle" food. (post soon to follow)
3.) Drink more water (Nada on the vending machine soda)
4.) Buy more generic products (if you take the time you can figure out that Waly-Worlds "Apple express" is actually "Apple Jacks" in a different box. Seriously, prove it to me otherwise.)
5.) Read magazines at the rack and leave them there.
6.) Design and play test your own dice game with your loving wife instead of buying one.

As you can see its pretty easy when you think about it. So go ahead and give it a whirl and use your noggin.