i re-evaluated my bong-making facility, and modified it somewhat to accomodate some additions to the glass-bottle-drilling area so that i can actually fill the bottles with water while i am drilling them. apparently being full of water “stabilises the bottle on a molecular level” and makes them less likely to break. i haven’t really noticed that much of a difference yet, because i’ve only actually tried it with one bottle, but if i can break fewer bottles than i have been so far, it will be an improvement. i went to another smoke shop yesterday, and they responded positively, but didn’t actually buy anything. they told me to call again today, so i’m going to do that later this afternoon.

we’re gearing up for the moisture festival again. the first rehearsal was supposed to be yesterday, but, typically, it got cancelled at the last moment. the moisture festival will be 10 years old this march, and it’s actually smaller than it was last year. last year we had shows in four different venues, and this year we’re only filling two venues. it makes me wonder what they’re planning on doing with all the $100 “donations” they got last year, that they said were going to make this years’ moisture festival “something really special”… 😐

the fremont phil has 5 days of performances, which is two less than last year, which was three less than the year before… and i’ve heard some “rumblings” from the powers-that-be in the moisture festival that they’re thinking of getting entirely new bands next year… nothing official, at this point, but the fact that it’s out there is something to shudder about.

on the other hand, snake suspenderz is playing (on stage) two nights, on which i am also performing with the phil, AND we’re also “subbing” for stuart’s band, the Super 8s, one night as “the pit band” or “the house band” or whatever you may call it… so that’s something.

rick has been going through hell recently. it started when i dropped him off at the emergency room of good samaritan hospital (the same one i did my rehabilitation in, after my injury). he proceded to almost die and is now recovering at an “assisted living facility” in puyallup: basically it’s one of those “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” places, where 95% of the population is never going to be released… but at the same time, if rick were to be released, the only place he has to go back to is so moldy that it’s very likely toxic, and rick has a self-admitted ambivalence toward living in squalor… i remember thinking, as i was moving the boxes of crap from rick’s storage place to his house, that i could very easily be contributing to a future episode of Hoarders… i want to help, but i’m not sure how much good it will do… 😐 i’ve been taking him to various different doctors’ appointments, when he can’t arrange transportation, but i don’t know how much more i have in me.


i bit the bullet the other day, and submitted to trading in my (perfectly functional, but hopelessly obsolete) semi-smart phone — an LG VX8575 — for a somewhat-less-obsolete, actually "smart" phone, an iPhone 4.

and, while i’m not immediately won over and become a born-again mac fanboi, i’m not totally repulsed, either. it’s far-and-away a better music player than ANY other device i have ever owned. it (naturally) has the ability to talk wirelessly, using a couple of different protocols, to our apple TV sound system, and it has an eight megapixel camera that does okay in sunlight, or strong room lighting, but (as far as i have been able to determine, so far) does LOUSY at low-light, long shutter speed stuff — which means that, once again, i will be taking my SLR to OCF again this year, in order to take decent, low-light pictures. it interfaces with my google calender — a good thing — and my google email (which i never use), and it wants me to sign up for all of these social media services with which i want to have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do, and i have already gone in and gutted it’s ability to mine whatever information i do give it. it has the ability, with the help of a convenient web site, to play ring tones made out of whatever tracks i like, and so, naturally, my phone now sports a complete set of frank zappa ringtones: The Torture Never Stops for moe, and I’m The Slime for everyone else. 😎

although i have already downloaded several “apps” (a “flickr app”, an instrument tuner, and a “retro pinball” game), i don’t intend to buy into the mass marketing hype, and probably won’t download more than i already have… although i might download angry birds… 😉


i went on a “jaunt” today, to six “smoke shops” that i researched on the intar-toobs, and returned with one, solid “yes, sell me more!”, two “come back in a while/when the buyer is here”, two “i’ll pass, thanks” and one condescending old fart who wanted to pay half of what i was asking, and said he could do the same, because he had “a drill press and diamond tipped drill bits too”…

yeah, but i’d like to see how many you break or scar up in the process, mack… 😛

but the one “yes, sell me more!” was from a place that already had a lot of really good looking glass, and seemed fairly busy… he said he could get me a good deal on stems and actually gave me a “down-stem” to experiment with.

i learned a whole bunch of “new” terminology: the bongs i have been making have a “thumb-carb” which is considered “old school”. the “new school” way of doing it is to have what’s called a “slide-carb” which consists of a down-stem and a bowl. the rubber bit that goes between the bong and the down-stem is called a “grommet”, even though it’s not really a grommet. “thumb-carbs” are looked down upon by the younger folks, but us old-time hippies prefer them… 😎


we’re (finally) getting the mortgage on our house refinanced. i went to the bank today, to get a cashier’s check for the closing amount (which we are going to get mostly refunded, because there’s an escrow amount that gets transferred from the old lender to the new lender, or some gawdawful bullcrap like that… i’ve never understood how these things work), and the lady behind the teller’s window said that, because of the amount that we have in savings, she was going to check and see if it might be possible to waive the $8.00 fee that she was going to charge to write out the cashier’s check for me…

yeah, if i had nothing in savings, she would have charged me the $8.00 fee, but because of the fact that she was dealing with “someone who has money”, she was willing to waive the fee. this is EXACTLY the reason we are going to be banking with someone other than JPMorgan/Chase bank when this is all over, but that wasn’t the funny part.

the funny part was that, apparently, i hadn’t just gone into another branch of JPMorgan/Chase bank, i had gone into a branch of the Chase “Private Client” bank, so i got the opportunity to talk with the “Assistant Vice President Private Client Banker” (it says so on her business card) who fell all over herself and frothed at the mouth when i didn’t immediately say that i wasn’t interested. she assured me that it wouldn’t cost me anything extra if i were to switch to the “Private Client” bank, which would mean that i would, never again, have to “stand in the teller line and explain what i needed 5 million times”, because “private clients” have their own, personal banker, who comes to them when they need a cashier’s check, or to make a deposit, and there are so many “other benefits” to being a private client…

i don’t know why — i guess i was just trying to be polite and get out of there as quickly as possible — but i didn’t tell her how vehemently i HATE JPMorgan/Chase bank, which only made her desire to suck me in even more obvious. i walked out with a cashier’s check for the closing amount of our mortgage and a whole bunch of “private client” information in an envelope, and a spiral-bound notebook (with metal spiral binding — only the best for the “private clients”) and she even threw in a ball-point pen in a little box… and she told me that she would call me (although i didn’t give her my phone number) in a month or so to “remind” me, if i hadn’t made the switch by then.

you can rest assured, that if i ever get a phone call from her, i am going to tell her EXACTLY where she can shove it.


yesterday, i got an incense order for ambica hare rama special flora… over the telephone… 😐

first, the guy wanted to know if i had any hare rama incense. i told him that i did, then he hung up. then he called back, and wanted to know how many boxes i had. i told him, and then he hung up again…

so i went in to check and make sure that i actually had 41 boxes, and it turned out that i only had 34 boxes… but before i had the chance to call him again, he called back again, and wanted to know why he couldn’t pay without a paypal account. i told him that he could pay, even without a paypal account, and talked him through the process. paypal apparently wouldn’t accept his shipping address, about which there is nothing that i can do, and i told him so…

and he hung up again…

oops, i forgot to tell him about only having 34 boxes of incense. but before i could dig his phone number out of my semi-smart phone, he called back AGAIN, and told me that paypal wouldn’t accept his shipping address, and wondered if there was any way to place an order that didn’t involve the web site… 😛

i HATE taking orders from out-of-state customers over the telephone, principally because i don’t have a way to process credit cards other than through paypal, and i told him so. he suggested a snail-mail payment using a money order — i haven’t even heard of a money order for, like, 15 or 20 years… i didn’t even know they still existed… 😐 — but, apparently, they still exist, AND (apparently) they’re STILL a more trusted method of payment than a cheque.

they just take longer… because of the fact that this guy is ordering from bowdoinham, maine, it will take a week or so until his payment reaches me, during which time, theoretically, it is possible for somebody else to buy exactly the same incense, and (because i only have 34 boxes), if that were to happen, then it would take even longer for me to get his order to him.

after i took care of his immediate worries, i started calling around to find more ambica hare rama incense. both of my “regular” suppliers don’t carry it, so i checked, and the place i got it from last time (in 2006) was the “old time hippie” incense supplier with whom i originally started this business (in 1998), who is flakier than a croissant and doesn’t even answer his phone most of the time these days… and when he does, he inevitably wants to suck me into an hour-long, off-topic conversation about how durbar incense is much more preferable than masala incense, and nobody carries durbar incense any longer, and… which is one of the reasons i don’t use his services any longer.

so, once again, i am down to writing to someone with a gmail.com address, IN INDIA, to POSSIBLY get this obscure incense that nobody else carries in the united states any longer…

i really should start charging a lot more to do this… 😐


rick still isn’t dead. the probability that he will be any time soon is going down, but you never know. it’s really sad that he’s such a feeble old man, if for no other reason than he’s actually two years younger than me…

we’re going to try again to record the panto, on wednesday. i’ll believe it when i see it happen. there have been many, many attempts to coerce a CD, or something like it, from this group of crazies, and none of them has succeeded so far.

i’m still waiting (after two weeks) for the artwork that the acord foundry people said that they were going to send me “in a couple of days”. they paid me to print business cards for them, but they still haven’t got around to sending me the artwork. i hope they’re not going to demand the finished cards any time soon… 😐 i should probably call them and find out what’s going on, but i’m pretty sure i know what the answer will be, which is that one or more people simply “hasn’t had the time” to go through the hard photographs (they don’t have any digitised photos at all) and snail-mail them to me… 😐

i should really find out whether or not there’s a smoke shop on the same calibre as the pike place pipe palace, only in tacoma.


dead – D. E. A. D. i wrote a quartet with these notes as the theme, a long time ago…

at approximately the same time as i met my friend rick, who is now in the process of dying.

all i know is from text messages from sasha, who is the executor of rick’s living will… he was put on a ventilator two days ago, and has not regained consciousness for two days… they say if he doesn’t start responding to therapy soon, they’re going to stop. 🙁

so it goes… 😮

ETA: they cut back on some of his meds, and he came around. he didn’t say anything, but he recognised sasha and smiled…

ETA 130209: he’s still very ill, but improving massively. i may go visit him today.

ETA 130210: he got his ventilator taken out this morning. i went to see him, and was shocked when the toothless, feeble old man hooked up to wires and tubes in the room turned out to be rick… certainly not the same rick i dropped off at the hospital four days ago… 😮

musical instrument repair

a friend of mine came over this evening to have his clarinet repaired. the A key pad had come de-laminated (which happens to old clarinet pads occasionally) which interfered with his practice, and his avocation as one of the clarinet players in some local orchestra or another. it turned out that the G♯ key needed its pad replaced as well, so i did that, while i had it apart. in his words, “even with coming all the way here, it was cheaper and faster than other instrument services.”

i even let him watch, which is something he probably could not have done in any other musical instrument repair shop. 😎