We saw Gomez at the Fox in Oakland – my favorite Bay Area venue – Sunday night. They’re doing a 20th anniversary tour. How’s that for making you feel old. I first started listening to them around 1999 and used to get them confused with Travis. It wasn’t because they sounded the same, it’s because a lot of bands had one word name names.

It was a good show. They sounded great but only played 3 songs from “How We Operate”, my favorite album of theirs. If I were one of those guys who rated shows, I’d give it 6 out of 10. If I were a hard core Gomez fan, probably an 8.

Original Gomez lineup.

Looks like Ben Ottewell has been working out or working at a startup.

You’d think it was 1999 judging by that marquee.

Concert Log: Neko Case & Ray Lamontagne at the Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA


I finally got a chance to see Neko Case live. It was a shortened set since she was the opening act for Ray Lamontagne. The show was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. She sounded great, and played mostly new stuff from her latest album that coincidentally was released that day. Fortunately, she’ll be coming back on her own tour in the winter. I hope to see her then.

Neko Case by daylight.

As for Ray Lamontagne. I wasn’t there to see him but figured what the hell. I know enough of his songs and I’ve seen plenty of singer-songwriters types. I’ve been blown away by the power of a single voice and an acoustic guitar. So I was surprised to see him with a full electric band.

I know he has a reputation as a very private person, but it felt like the audience and his band were interrupting his set. We left early, so I don’t know if he ever interacted with the audience or his band. While we were there he didn’t.

Burningvan 2018


Yesterday, I took the Westy up to Ocean Beach in the city for Burningvan 2018. It was a gathering of 200+ Vanagons and Wetfalias from all over Norcal.

We arrived way early and secured a great spot facing the ocean. We popped the top and waited as most had arrived by 11:30am. This was my first time attending, and I have never seen so many Vanagons in one place before. I made some new friends and caught up with some folks I know from Buslab in Berkeley, CA.

I spent Saturday getting the battery replaced. Luckily I didn’t try to replace the starter. I’d be pulling my hair out if I’d gone through all that effort only to have it not start. The old battery was only a few months old. I took it back to AutoZone. They tested it, and sure enough, it wasn’t holding a charge. they replaced it no questions asked and she fired right up.

The last major work I had done was on the transmission. This was my first highway trip with her and she climbed just fine at 60mph without me having to drop it down to 2nd. I even got her up to 80mph, but that was going downhill.

Below are some shots from yesterday’s event.

Ocean Beach sea wall

Ocean Beach sea wall

Sweet spot

Blinged out


All in a line

Ocean Beach sea wall

Sadie’s first time at the beach.




All the possible upgrades

Early birds



Sadie next to a Bobo. A peek at what she might look like in the future.


Great Highway



Rise and shine

Winter Mehs


It’s foggy here today. It feels like winter is coming, not retreating. Despite that, I’ll take January in Northern California any day over Chicago.

In California, the holiday season and winter seem to end at the same time; right around 4:30 on Christmas Day. Everything is over. You’ve opened the presents and eaten a gluttonous meal. Instead of lying on the couch, you go for a hike or a walk outside – because you can.

In Chicago, it’s not like that at all. 4:30 Christmas Day is a downer. It’s like someone flips a switch. The holiday cheer peters out and the worst part of winter is just getting started. I only looked forward to snow during November and December when I lived there. After the first or second week of January, it was time to wrap it up. Instead of going outside on Christmas day, I would stare at the outdoor gear I received as gifts. They’d sit in that gift box, folded with tissue paper hanging off the side, mocking me because I couldn’t do anything until April, if I was lucky.

I used to be one of those idiots that talked about cold weather building character. Not anymore.

Westy Woes


For the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a battery drain on the Westy. Originally, I thought it was the starter, but it fires right up with a jump start. This Christmas, I received a sweet portable charging station that includes; jumper cables, power outlets, an inflator, and USB ports. It’s really handy because now I can drive places and not worry about asking for a jump.

Gotta love the easy access to the battery.

I also replaced the window handles, again! It’s been a long-time coming, but GoWesty finally came out with their own industrial strength window handles. The ones I bought before were total pieces of shit. They literally snapped off in your hand with just a little pressure. They were so cheap I bought 8 of them and kept them in van. Before that, I had a small vice grip handy.

These better be the last handles I have to buy.

Last spring, my buddy Nick broke a handle off. He didn’t want to say anything thinking I might lose my shit. I whipped out my cordless drill and one of my spare handles and we were back in business.

Hopefully these new ones last. They better, they’re $40 a piece versus $4.99 for the others.

Not to jinx it


After finishing 2017 with the double whammy of a cold followed by a sinus infection, 2018 by comparison, is off to a decent start. I have been getting out to the gym and even set up some stuff in the garage for those days I don’t feel like making the short drive.

I feel like I haven’t read a book, magazine or newspaper since we got the new dog. You can’t sit still for a second. If you do, she’ll dart off her mat at your throat or start chewing on the rug, the sofa, the coffee table. Fortunately, she’s been minimally destructive. I know it could be way worse.

One of the secondary benefits of having the dog is I’m taking more long walks. We live a few blocks from our downtown, so walking the dog is a convenient excuse to hit the coffee shop or walk around to see what’s happening. Billy loves walks, Sadie is just starting to get into them.

The Rise of the Privilege Epiphany


I’m glad to see some of those born on third base recognize the role luck has played in their life. However, a bigger problem is unsuccessful white people who feel they disprove the existence of white privilege and racism in America because it hasn’t helped them. And yet, they miss the point that having their race be a non-issue is in and of itself an advantage. It’s like Chris Rock says, “no white guy would trade places with him!”

The Rise of the Privilege Epiphany

The Rise of the Privilege Epiphany

Donald Trump made them realize their dumb luck in life. Now what?

Source: newrepublic.com/article/146522/rise-privilege-epiphany

Thems the Breaks


Write about a time you broke…

A Bone

Technically, I don’t think I’ve ever broken a bone. However, I have had plenty of serious injuries. The closest thing to a broken bone is when I separated my ribs from my sternum playing rugby.

I was playing Center, instead of my usual Scrumhalf position. It was open field and instead of scooping up the ball, I squatted and got rolled. I ended up on the bottom of growing pile. My neck got hyper-extended and my chin got shoved into my chest. Then, everything went black. I thought my neck snapped. Fortunately, I could still walk, but it felt like someone had pushed my head into my chest cavity.

For the next couple weeks, my sternum would buckle in and out, like a pop can. I was on a plane to Rhode Island a couple weeks later and as descended, the pressure on my ribs knocked the wind out of me. I couldn’t get it to pop back out until we were back on the ground.

The first practice back one of my teammates asked, “what happened to you” and punched me in the chest. I folded like a house of cards and he shook his hand like a wet rag.

To this day, I still have to “reset” my ribs with a good yawn every now and then. If you listen closely, you can hear a little “crunch.”

The Law

I’m not especially proud of this, but here it goes. My college roommate had an air rifle. I was putzing around with it and pointed it out the window of our 3rd floor room. Without thinking, I just pulled the trigger. Pffffoot went the BB.It didn’t ricochet. The passenger window of car parked in front of the house just turned into a million tiny pieces and poof, it was gone.

I quietly put the gun back where I found it and left the room. That was the last I heard about that and this is the first time I ever mentioned it to anyone else.

Dog days


I have been reading many diverse opinions on how to train a puppy. According to the experts you’re supposed to treat them like an animal. Meantime, I’ve always picked them up, tussled and rolled, made eye contact and even pet them. Turns out, every instinct I’ve ever had isn’t just wrong, it’s why they behave so poorly.

My light doggie reading.

The first book I read was the “The Wildrose Way.” The author is an former police dog trainer who breeds and trains hunting dogs. I don’t hunt, but this book was recommended by Outside magazine for people who want a hiking companion that can go off leash. Hunting dogs obey hand signals so you can communicate with them in silence and at great distances.

This guy is a stoic when it comes to dogs. He writes in this archaic matter-of-fact style, you can’t help but believe it’ll work. According to him everything is repitition. Simply lather, rinse, and repeat for however long it takes. And when you’re done, maybe give the dog a treat like a strip of towel or a smooth stroke behind one ear and send her back into the cage.

The next book was “Cesar’s Way” by Cesar Millan, from the “The Dog Whisperer” on NatGeo. I love watching that show because every dog is a transformation. I assume some editing takes place, but still, he gets results. What works for Jada Pinkett Smith has gotta work for everyone else.

Cesar spends a lot of time upfront in the book setting context and telling his personal history of being around farm dogs and observing them. If you’ve ever seen him on tv, you know he has an awesome accent. When I read his book, I can’t help hear his voice reciting the words in my head.

I always thought he took some kind of new age approach, but he’s hard core. He believes our coddling of dogs and treating them like little people makes them anxious and therefore leads to horrible behavior. Dogs need to be treated like pack animals and you’re the alpha. His main strategy is to wear the dog out starting with a 4-5 hour jog in the morning followed by an extensive nap in the afternoon. I understand why his methodology works. I just don’t have 18 hours a day to apply it.

So now, we’re going to puppy school. It’s once a week in a light industrial warehouse. We stand in makeshift pens while a woman with a fanny pack full of kibble shows us basic tactics to get Sadie to sit and lay down.

Boiling down


So today’s writing suggestion are as follows:

  1. Boil down Hamlet to a Tweet
  2. Tweet the plot of Star Wars
  3. Tweet my life story
  4. Tweet my day so far

1. I hate people who assume everyone has read “Hamlet”. I don’t even pretend to like or give a shit about Shakespeare. Like most Americans born past 1776, I come to his work by way of some new, and usually better twist of the original, like West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Scrubs.

This summer we went to a Shakespeare in the park event. We even saw Hamlet, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how anyone gets what in the hell is going on. Maybe I was just restless, because I can’t sit that long on the ground.

So no, I can’t summarize the plot in a 140 character Tweet. instead, I’ll write it’s most famous line in Twitterese; “2b or not 2b”.

2. The plot of Star Wars; “Die Hard for Retards”.

3. My life story; “Uselessly ahead of the curve.”

4. My day so far: I’m already ahead at getting behind.