Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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Ahoy!

As usual, only time for a listo. I stink.

[] Delaware has opened up vaccines for people age 50, which means Matt is eligible, and I will be eligible in 3 weeks.  The second we heard DE was booking appointments for 50 year olds, Matt jumped online and scored an appointment waaaaaay down in Laurel, Delaware, which is a 2-hour drive from here... and worth every second.  Shot #1 is in Matt's (now sore) arm.

[] I turn 50 in 3-4 weeks, so hopefully my first shot won't be too far away.

[] On 3/31/21, Hot Breakfast! will be celebrating one year of Coffee Break Concerts.... we started this ridiculousness on 3/30/20.  These one-year anniversaries are very strange. Like, "Congratulations? I guess?"  Like, obviously I wish we didn't have this event to celebrate. But since this happened, I'm very grateful to have this event to celebrate.

[] We're headed back to NJ today (Sunday) so my dad can get his 2nd shot.  We wanted to be up there just in case he has a few days of side-effects and needs to chill, we can take care of Mom.

[] Driving in LSD (lower slower Delaware) on Thursday, I saw teeeeeeeny red tips on the tree branches, which tells me that SPRING IS HERE!!  Yippeeee!! I can't wait to feel the sunlight on my face.  It's supposed to be 63 degrees all week.

[] We were supposed to have our kitchen re-done last year, but Covid put a big stop to that... but now we've restarted the process.  Our friend is doing the work (don't worry, it's his full-time job, and it's not a favor or anything), and we'll be meeting with the cabinet lady after we get back to DE next week.  She'll take measurements and do the layout, and then it'll be up to our pal to do all the work.

[] Lume deodorant the greatest stuff in the world. It is WITCHCRAFT. You can put it on any body part, and it is impossible to stink... even during these COVID times can that sometimes feature a... more... relaxed(?) shower schedule... (*whistles quietly, looks around*)

[] Jon Batiste was interviewed by Terry Gross, and it was GLORIOUS. If you have 42 minutes and need your soul jumpstarted, I highly recommend it.  It's even better if you can listen to it without doing other things, but I know that's a huge ask.  But here's the link.  

OK, I need to get on the road. 

Love you all... hope you're all safe and seeing some of the spring's new light.

xoxo!


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If you say Lume is good, I'll try it. I was thinking about it.
Me too!
me three! i've been seeing their ads for a year now and thinking, "really???"
Jenn A 3/22
Yeaaaah for vaccines! Hoping you can get yours...they’re hard to get ahold of in PA.

Happy COVIDaversary for Coffee Breaks!

Perhaps the least talked about side effect of the plague...armpits across the world got just a little bit stinkier. 😁

Yasssss to Spring buds...saw some on the rhododendron today and mighta squealed a lil bit...like a lot a bit.

Safe travels💕
Shannie 3/21
 

((waves hi!))

I'm here, been lurking, though not as much as I would have liked.  I am all caught up on everyone's entries, but I admit I didn't read every comment. I'll peruse them as I can.

All is good... well, as good as can be expected as we're coming up on a year of a pandemic. 

Instead of something well-written, here's a trusty listo:

  • We played our 100th Coffee Break Concert on Wednesday, Feb 24th. A milestone!
  • Also, Matt and I marked 10 years together a week or two ago.
  • We got an estimate to get our ugly kitchen redone, and I'm excited about that.
  • I'm still not teaching, but I'm selling some courseware which is nice.  Would like to be selling more, but baby steps.
  • I have a bunch of dental work that needs to be done. I just got a form letter that says my dentist no longer participates in my dental insurance. She couldn't have made that choice 6 weeks ago when I chose my dental plan for 2021?
  • I have had pre-menpausal osteoporosis (osteopenia) since 2010 or so. My doctor told me to get another bone density scan to see how it's progressing, since it had been a while since I got one.  Insurance denied it. Why on earth would insurance deny a bone density scan? Isn't the only reason for a bone density scan is to check to see how far your osteoporosis is progressing?
  • Going to see the parents tomorrow.  Mom's mental state is getting worse due to a total lack of stimulation. The home health care workers we hired to come in 3x/week  are fine, but they aren't interesting to my mom, so they basically just do light housekeeping and that's it. They aren't able to engage with my mom... she just doesn't care.  This pandemic couldn't have happened at a worse time dementia-wise. Right before Covid hit, she was interested in hanging out at the senior center a few days per week just to make some friends, play some bingo, and use a few brain cells. So much for that.  By the time the senior center reopens, I worry she'll be too far gone. 
  • My dad got his first covid shot (didn't even feel it); his second one is in 3 weeks. Mom has not gotten hers yet.  My brother's whole family has gotten fully vaccinated, and I am absolutely delighted they're immunized; but there is a 10% "huh?" in my brain wondering why his 17 year old daughter already received her two shots yet my 78 year old mother with many comorbidities hasn't gotten her first yet.  I try not to think about this too much. We'll all get them in due time; vaccinating 350 million people ain't easy. 
  • I have a crush on Dr. Fauci. 
  • SNL has been killin' it in 2021.  I like that they're not afraid to just be surreal.  They do always have to have to the one character who has to explain the joke a bit, but it's a small price to pay.
  • Our Saturday night ritual is watching SNL on nbc/hulu, and then watching "Big Questions with The Dead Milkmen" on YouTube.  ("Big Questions" started pre-pandemic when the guys were in the studio recording their latest album. They decided they needed more content for their YouTube channel, so at each week's recording session, one of the guys would come up with a question, and each guy would answer it... and they'd follow it up with Recommendations, where they recommended something they think people would dig (a movie, book, food, cat toy, going for a walk, etc.).  It's absolutely delightful.  Once lockdown started, it became (like all things) a Zoom call.  It's really great. Some of their recommendations have been really wonderful during lockdown.

That's the random news. 

I hope everyone is doing well... I miss you all, and I really hope to get back on the OPW wagon.... which is what I said last time... but... yeah.

xoxo


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Waves hi back while coffee kicks in...
Rog and I both got approved for vaccines in the same letter that said they are shutting down appointments temporarily due to lack of vaccines. I'm glad we both got approved, but it does suck when an out-of-work friend who happens to have a medical license got both hers a month ago. I'm glad for her, but.... BLEGH. Let's get this going already so we can move past this glaringly uneven distribution. The whole thing stinks.

(I also am crushing on Fauci.)

Oh, and congrats on 10 years, you guys. <3
That's a heck of a listo. DENSE, even.

Happy 100th CBC! Happy Mattiversary! Happy kitchen estimate! You should have a not-ugly space in which to eat popcorn dipped in Fluff.

Boo for dental insurance badness. I might be switching dentists soon; the one I'm seeing for a consult soon doesn't accept most insurance, including mine, so... I'll go see 'em, but I don't see having to pay up front and then wait for my insurance to reimburse me as a long-term good idea. Maybe if they completely blow my mind with their competence.

I'm sorry about your mom's state of mind. Dementia is tough and sometimes the declines can happen quickly. This past year has stolen so much from so many.

Fauci and Psaki. My heart beats wild.
That hole's supposed to be there, right? Okay, it could be more appropriately folded.
 

I wrote this maybe 10 days ago.

I forget where I left off, but I was living full-time in NJ at my folks' place from 2/8 to 2/28*.  Most of that time I was away from Matt because he was working in Maryland, music directing a show.  It was a really hard three weeks.

(*which does not include the 5 then 6 days in January we were up there, too.)


One of those February weeks my dad was in the hospital, so with my Mom's routine disrupted she was extra spacey. Once Dad came home, things slowly returned to normal, but Dad was really struggling with the fact that for the first time he wasn't just *bing!* back to normal. He is not used to feeling weak and needing help.

Anyway, Dad had a bowel obstruction, and thankfully the surgical fix didn't require a bowel resection-- instead there was just a weird piece of string (made out of a strand of scar tissue) that strangulated his guts.

Didja ever cut a raw, boneless chicken breast and there's that weird white tendony-gristly thing that kinda goes through a 3rd of it?  It looked like that.  So the doc snipped it, and in one second my dad went from Guy In Agony Who Could Not Breathe And Wanted To Die to WHEW SWEET RELIEF.  They waited six days before they operated, hoping the obstruction would just kinda clear itself, but after Day 6 they realized they needed to get in there. Three teeny laparascopic incisions and a snip later, and he was fixed up. They watched him for 2 more days and then released him.  

(Side note to Jeremy Moskowitz  and Matt Lichtenwalner : Remember that time in either 2006 or 2009 (I can't remember) when we went for Indian food someplace on Kirkwood Highway and I had to go sit in the car in the middle of the meal, and when you came out I was inconsolably wailing and screaming bloody murder in the back of the car, and you guys took me to the hospital? That was a bowel obstruction. Dad had the same thing. We're built weird, I guess.)

Problem is that while Dad was in the hospital, they stuck a naso-gastric tube down into his gut and pumped his stomach for 6 solid days, to relieve the pressure building behind the obstruction in hopes it would clear itself. During this time he wasn't even allowed to have ice chips, let alone any food, broth, water,  nada.  After the surgery they continued to pump his stomach so he could heal up, so for a grand total of 8 days he didn't move, eat, or drink anything.  He was a withered shell of a guy.  We were afraid he'd never regain his strength or confidence after that.  Once they sent him home, it took him about two weeks of constant care by yours truly, but by February 28th he was back to about 87% strength, which was enough for him to tell me I could go home, so I could do a gig on the 29th.  (Gig was great. More on that later.)

Mom continues to be on Planet Mom. Her dementia is fascinating, honestly. If you talk to her, you would have no idea anything is wrong. She is funny, normal, on-task, quick-witted, well-spoken, patient, friendly, sweet, knows all of her stories and recipes, all that.  It's just that 5 minutes later she won't remember that you had that conversation.  So she'll go to a doctor and will sign in perfectly, will be friendly, will make eye contact, and will tell people things that sound totally reasonable... and 50% of the time she's right.  But while my dad was in the hospital I had to take her to a GI appointment, and she told her GI doctor that she was the one who was in the hospital for a week... and the GI doctor dutifully wrote it down in her chart, because it sounded totally convincing. I had to gently say, "Mom, you weren't in the hospital; Dad was."

"What now?"

"Dad was the one in the hospital, not you. He's still in there now with a bowel obstruction."

"What? Did I say I was in the hospital?

"Yep, just now."

"Was I in the hospital?"

"Nope. I mean, you visited Dad, but you weren't the one being treated."

"Oh. Hmm. ((chuckle)) Well, that's old age I guess."

The GI doc was puzzled listening to us have this exchange. On the way out I popped my head into his office and asked him to please make a note in her chart that she's got early-stage dementia, and to please make sure someone else is in the examination room with her, because otherwise we can't be sure if she'll be giving accurate information. And also, she won't remember any instructions you give her.

Fast forward three weeks later, where we had a follow-up appointment with the same GI doctor. He now sees in her chart the note he wrote-- "patient has early stage dementia."  I am in the examination room with her again.  As he prescribes her antibiotics for something, he looks at her and says loudly, "Now don't forget that you have to take these for 10 days. Don't forget, now!"

Right. Because those are the magic words that make dementia patients miraculously remember shit.  Fucking idiot.

(And no, that wasn't his way of making sure I was paying attention. Trust me on this one. He just doesn't get it.)

She's like a computer with a bad hard drive. If something was written to hard drive before 2017, she remembers it perfectly. Post 2017, it gets glitchy. Starting around Thanksgiving 2019, it's RAM only.  


Anyway. While I was up there, I did not think I would ever be able to come back to DE.  I had several private, epic, Oscar-worthy meltdowns... and in the twitchy aftermath of one of them, my brother picked up on the fact that I wasn't doing so well and he suggested that I go home to DE for one night, sleep in my own bed, attend a Sunday rehearsal that I didn't think I'd be able to attend, and then head back up to NJ afterwards, and he'd watch my folks for that time.  Those were a sweeeeeet 20 hours, I'm not gonna lie. It's amazing how much one can recharge in a short amount of time. Everyone at rehearsal was so, so, SO lovely and supportive, and genuinely asking not only how my folks were doing, but how I was doing. This was weird for me... I've never really been the one who needed a supportive hug; I'm the one who gives them. I didn't even know that many people even knew about my parental situation. I felt really loved and cared for, by people I didn't really think ever gave me much thought. 

While I was in NJ, I contacted 41 home health agencies to lend my folks a hand... and only TWO serve Warren County (the ass-end of cow-town NJ where they live). One agency had caregivers that live in Newark, which is about an hour away from my parents. Generally speaking, Newark folks don't understand country life, they don't understand deer and bears and how your nearest neighbor is a cow a few acres away. They also don't drive generally, so when we tried one caregiver we had to pay a $68 Uber ride each way for them. How would they be able to give my parents a hand if they can't even drive?  So they weren't a good fit.  But the other agency, Home Instead Senior Care, is based about 8 miles from my folks, and their caregivers live in the area. They understand the ways of the cows. After some shuffling and scheduling, we now officially have Wendy the caregiver spending 3 days a week with my mom for 4 hours at a clip. This basically frees up my Dad to turn his brain off so he can putter in the garage, go have lunch with the guys, snooze, pay bills, whatever. Wendy makes sure my mom is entertained, fed, takes her meds, helps with meal prep, can take her to get her nails/hair done, take her to doctor appointments, etc.  It's a huge relief.  Of course now with all of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I'm not sure how long this will last... but I'm comforted that at least for now there's an extra set of competent eyes making sure she (and Dad) aren't experiencing any symptoms. 


Now we're home. I'm writing this part on 3/15/20 now.

So anyway, I've been home since March, and I've mostly been hermiting. Like, pretty much staying in my PJs, leaving the house only when absolutely necessary. I've been doing a decent amount of voiceover work, and 

On Friday March 13th, Matt's Ramones band had (53rd & 3rd) a gig at Oddity Bar, which was comfortingly bleachy, and not very well-attended due in part to collective nerves, and the Delaware State of Emergency which didn't make ir clear if folks should stay home. We were all OK with the attendance, honestly. The 25-ish folks who did attend really wanted to be there, and we all amused ourselves coming up with silly, inventive ways to greet each other without shaking hands or elbow bumping. Everyone tipped the bar-staff very well, knowing they had it rough. Some of us even ate at the Chinese place next door and overtipped there, too. 

In other news, the stores have been busy but not nuts, and fairly well-stocked. They were out of bleach, hand sanitizer,  and rubbing alcohol, and low on bread, but nothing we couldn't work around. (Besides, we already had bleach and rubbing alcohol on hand Because Adult, and also Because Burning Man.)  We feel prepared for a week or two (or  of isolation if it comes to that.

I bleach-washed the bejeezus out of the kitchen floor and the entire master bathroom, so I feel like I've accomplished something. I'm hoping my burning lungs are from the bleach and not a symptom of COVID-19. 

Anyhoo, there's more to tell, but this is already hella long. 

As a reward for reading this long, blathery post, please enjoy this delightful thing by making with the clicky (fixed link!):

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3/16 '20 9 Comments
Everything is beautiful, isn’t it?
I can’t imagine your stress. I’m glad you’re back at your home.
Michele Grant 3/16 '20
Thanks, m'dear. Very glad to be back home... though the guilt is pretty overwhelming at times. Trying to just stay present and breathe, y'know? 💗

Love to you guys.
I can see Derren Brown, but was there a particular tweet you wanted to share?
Weird-- not sure why the link isn't working. When I edit the post it's fine, but once I post the post, it just takes you to Derren's profile and not the tweet.

Anyway, I think I was just able to fix it now.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 3/16 '20edited
BRILLIANT!
RIGHT?!
Super glad Dad's back on track and that Mom's got additional help so he can get some peaceful Dad time. Also, that Wendy knows the ways of the cows, because yeah.

Most importantly, I'm glad you've got your life back. When this pandemic is over, I'm very much looking forward to catching up.

Love you and love to the folks.
Glad your back and rebuilding your spoon inventory. Offer still stands, if needed. Don't be a martyr.
Ray Conrad 3/16 '20
 

(I wrote this on Sunday, 8/4. It's really long. There's a TL;DR at the end.)


Last night (Saturday, 8/3) was the final night of The Rock Orchestra's BeatleFest 2019.  BeatleFest (or, our event we call BeatleFest) is where our group of anywhere from 7-40 musicians play every single Beatles song (all 215 of them) in the order they were released, over a series of six consecutive nights. I equate it with running a marathon, but instead of running 26.2 miles on the streets of Boston, we're doing it on a tightrope. We do our damndest to recreate these songs note-for-note, as best as we possibly can without the help of studio magic... though we also really try to recreate those studio sounds live as best we can, too. 

Out of 215 songs, I'm only tacet (not doing anything) on about 7 or 8 total.

For the show, I'm the 3rd singer (I sing the unintuitive harmony parts since I'm a choir nerd). I'm also the "if you get stuck vocally, Jill's got you," and this can even be in the middle of a song. Joe might give me a look and I know to cover (or double) a particularly high part, or I might hear a harmony and notice two people singing the same part, or I might see that someone forgot to sing, so I jump to the missing part on the fly. Or we might have given a female guest singer a song that goes too low for her, so I'll double those basement notes to give her support. Backstage I'm also in charge of running/checking harmonies for that night's tricky spots. I absolutely love getting to do this stuff. It keeps me on my toes, and I secretly love feeling helpful or being able to fix stuff in a pinch... it's been a weird thing of mine since I was a really little kid. 

In addition to my vocal duties, I'm also the main percussionist (shakers, tambourines, maracas, casaba, etc) and one of the two 'aux-players' -- which means if there's an instrument we don't have covered either because nobody knows how to play it (see Indian tanpura and swarmindal) or everyone else is too busy to cover it (hello 2nd drums all over Abbey Road, or organ on Savoy Truffle), I figure it out. Up on my platform I have a billion nouns: everything from a drumset, a glockenspiel, soprano recorder, kazoos, Korg Triton keyboard, motorcycle exhaust pipes (for 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey,' and for the alarm clock in 'A Day in the Life' when played with a different beater), an Ableton Live rig (for the scant sound effects we can't recreate live, (like the animals at the beginning/end of 'Good Morning, Good Morning') in addition to the usual tambourines and shakers and a bazillion other percussion toys.

Matt, however, is the real MVP aux-guy... he covers all of the melodic extra instruments, playing everything from extra piano, bass, guitar, synth, bari, alto, and soprano saxes, secondary percussion, plus backing vocals when we need four voices. He's a monster!  It's a lot of fun going through our music at home and saying stuff like, "Wait, what do you do on 'Savoy Truffle?'" "I used to play the electric organ part, but now I'm gonna play bari sax. Can you cover the organ now?" "Yup! On it!" 

My dear friend from college, Stefan, who specializes in Medieval and Renaissance instruments and runs Phoenix' hella-awesome early music group Bartholomew Faire (of which I am an alum), flew out from Arizona again this year to help us play the Indian-based songs using his assortment of unusual ancient instruments. He played hurdy-gurdy on most of the Indian tunes (Within You Without You), and he also took the recorder solo on Fool on the Hill, and he even played a crumhorn (that melodic buzzy sound) on 'Baby You're a Rich Man.'  It was so wonderful having him stay with us again-- he is the perfect house guest: cheerful, low-maintenance, a late sleeper like us, funny as hell, self-sufficient, up for anything, friendly with all of the other musicians, and good for reminiscing, too. Anyway, I was sad dropping him off at the airport today. 


This is the second year of the event, and you can tell we've refined things a bit. From a personal perspective, I was able to streamline all of my percussion gear thanks to some new racks, stands, and rack-mountable versions of some of my usual percussion instruments, so I wasn't the thing holding us up between songs like I sometimes was in 2018. I also had more room on my platform this year, so I had everything I needed within easy reach, as opposed to last year where I had to (for example) drag out and then put away a floor tom or a snare and hi-hat every time I played them. 

I also added a footer to the last page of every song with the name of the next song and what I play on it... that way as we're playing the last chunk of a song I can quickly eyeball where my next batch of instruments are, and how I'll transition to them from what I'm currently doing. Why put the tambourine down if I need it at the top of the next song?

Performance-wise, Night 4 (aka "the long night") was probably my favorite-- that's the only night where we play 3 albums instead of just two (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour), though the final Night 6 (Abbey Road and Let It Be, as well as the singles and Past Masters from that year, e.g., "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)") was a very very close second.  My own personal roughest night was Night 5 (The Beatles (aka The White Album)), because I whiffed a harmony or two (in my defense, I was sight-reading one of them after I got a nod on stage to cover it), but it was still a hell of a fun night. Good GAWD how I love recreating 'Revolution No. 9' live. It's a riot!


Once again, like last year, I got totally emotional and lost my shit during "A Day in the Life."  Good god, it's an overwhelming magical brain explosion to play it live with a string section, horn section, and with all of these people I just love so much. At one point I took out my in-ear monitors so I could hear the sound with my 'real ears' and holy mother of crap, it's just stupendous. Plus, it's cool as hell seeing the younger folks in the string section fall in love with The Beatles. 


Physically, this year was a bit rougher than last year. I was getting woefully low on iron in May, and the earliest I could get in for an infusion was the morning of Day 2 of BeatleFest. I did BeatleFest last year sans iron and the crash afterwards was fucking awful, so I decided I'd rather get the infusion on a performance day and run the risk of playing percussion with a freshly sporked arm, because holding off was not a healthy option. Besides, the brain fog was getting bad, and I needed to be on my A-game for this thing.  Infused iron takes about 2 days to fully absorb, and I was excited to be feeling better by Night 4 (the big night).  The infusion went smoothly, and as expected, I felt better every 8 hours or so.   (Speaking of my infusion, I just wanted to jot this down so I remember it: I'm very happy to be back at the hospital's Ambulatory Infusion center as I did from 2006-2010 as opposed to getting my treatment at the Cancer Center as I'd been since about 2011. Contrary to what you might expect, the care is just somehow better and cooler at Ambulatory Infusion than at the Cancer Center. Sure, the Cancer Center has the therapy doggos and the VR goggles of peaceful scenes, but it's still somehow impersonal and production-line-ish; and the blare of TVs blasting The View or whatever is so fucking annoying and inescapable. Also, the Cancer Center's specialty is chemo, not iron infusions, and they actually do iron infusions kinda stupidly backwards there. So yeah, I was happy to be back to the infusion center.)

By Wednesday morning my brain fog had significantly lifted, and my skin sans makeup was no longer corpse-guppy-translucent. :-)

Matt and I both agreed that this year, our biggest challenge was being able to see our goddamn music. It's like in the last 365 days our eyesight has hit that tipping point where music on a stand or tablet is too far away for reading glasses but too close for our usual distance glasses. It might be time to talk to our eye doctor for musician glasses for that middle kinda sheet music distance.

Speaking of sheet music, my magical tablet worked out perfectly-- not a single glitch during the show -- and HOLY BALLS was it a total, total game changer. It's amazing not having to turn paper pages and instead just tap a foot pedal. I was in heaven. It saved SO much time and so many headaches! I kept my paper sheet-music binders on stage juuuuust in case my tablet exploded, but I never needed it for a second. Whew!

We went back to the theater around 12:30pm today to load out the rest of our gear and break down the platforms, and that was pretty sad.  As soon as we got home, we unloaded the car and then immediately loaded it up with Stefan's stuff and then I brought him to the airport. I just walked in a moment ago, and the house is eeeeeeerily quiet and calm. Nobody's rushing around, nobody's woodshedding parts last minute or getting music in order, figuring out what to wear, etc etc etc.  It's kinda nice? I think?


I am pretty distracted by how much my hands really hurt, though. They hurt during the shows, but the combination of joy + adrenaline made it ignorable. But walking off the stage they'd be throbbing. Right now they are still distractingly painful; neither turmeric nor Advil even takes the edge off.  A few years ago I bought a faithful replica of a late 60s-era skinless tambourine that sounds amaaaaazing, but also weighs about 98523823 pounds. Playing fast 16ths on that thing song after song after song really did a number on my right hand from having to grip it so tightly to maintain good control. My metacarpals are on fire as are the muscles in the meat of my palm. Holding things, turning doorknobs, and just generally using my fingers hurts pretty damn good.  But also just doing nothing hurts.  Typing sucks too, but I really want to write this all down, so fuck it. 

In May when we played "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" twice in one day, I strained my right bicep and tricep from that goddamn tambourine, and that's when I became a disciple of KT Tape. Starting on Night 4 of BeatleFest I taped my arm and it really did help tremendously (and had the added bonus of reducing under-arm flab wiggle! Yay!). I may try taping my hand later. 

In some screwed up way, having my body hurt after BeatleFest somehow feels good; like I have evidence that I gave it my all. I'm sure a better, healthier measure of success would be an internal feeling of the satisfaction of a job well done, but whatevz.

I've typed way too much. 

===========================

TL;DR: BeatleFest 2019 was awesome. My tablet rocked; taping my arm helped a lot; getting an iron infusion was smart; I fucked up my hands but I somehow like it? I love getting to make music, especially with these people. I can't wait until next year. 

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you are AMAZING. xoxo
Jenn A 8/6 '19
Your joy shines through. Thank you for sharing it with us!
So happy to hear that things went so well! Sorry to have missed Stefan. Sounds like I may get a chance to catch up next year though, since BeatleFest doesn't sound like it's slowing down at all. :)
I am so proud of you. Congratulations on surviving that high-wire act!
Loved to read this write-up!

Can you take naproxen (Aleve)? I've found that it's the best thing for me when I've jacked my back, knee, or elbow and I need to interrupt the cycle of "this is injured, so it's inflamed, so it hurts, so it's inflamed." Two naproxen to make it knock it off, then another one naproxen 12 hours later, then one again every 12 hours until -poof-. On the stomach irritation scale it's more likely to irritate than ibuprofen but less likely than aspirin. Anyway I think it's the bomb diggity, handles swelling better than ibuprofen, and is not always on people's radar.

Did the City of Wilmington do anything to boost the event as a tourist draw, do you know? I think I recall after last year's success that there was noise about maybe they would do that.
Y'all were amazing, we're talking about engineering it so we can see a weeknight next year. And of course there will be a next year... Right?

Regarding distance vision, these days I'm wearing progressives. it's nice to get most of the benefits of bifocals but there's no line. I'm not sure if the range of options it provides would cover the case you're talking about or not.
I LOVE when you expound on your musical expertise. Love love love. Generally speaking I have musical anhedonia, but your technical and functional descriptions light up my nerd soul like a Christmas tree.
Anne Mollo 8/6 '19
You might want to look into an athletic sleeve instead of tape. All the compression goodness, plus flab compaction and it is reusable.

I owe a post about my vacation but I am too fried right now.
Ray Conrad 8/9 '19
This is gonna sound like an epic humblebrag, but it is the annoying truth: I have tried all of the athletic sleeves I could find, and they're all too damn big. It's ri-god-damn-diculous.

(Insert 5th grade joke about going to Dick's and only finding things too large. Hhuhhuhhuhhuhuhh!)

In other gnus, I look forward to your vacay post. Hope it was spiffy.
Try shopping for a boy's athletic sleeve.
Ray Conrad 8/11 '19
 

Tornado Warning!

I wrote this on Twitter this morning (April 15th), and I'm going to be lazy and copy/paste the tweet-storm:

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1) Holy crap. I haven't been sleeping well for the last few nights... and last night my body said "ENOUGH." Like a Roomba driving itself back to its dock, my body auto-piloted itself to bed at 11:15. (This is unheard of for me... I usually hit the hay around 4:30am.)

2) Normally I wake up 8-9 times over the course of a night/morning, and like an ass I always check my phone when I wake up, which naturally makes it harder to fall back asleep. This did not happen last night... I slept SO HARD. I knew nothing.

3) I'm also a huge weather and safety nerd; my ears are finely-tuned to detect any and all weather-related sounds (distant thunder, wind, rain, etc.), as well as weird noises in/outside the house. I sleep with one ear open, and these sounds always wake me up. Not last night.

4) I just woke up now (8:43am) to a bazillion missed phone alerts from 3-4am (including one of those incredibly loud Emergency Alerts sent via the Powers The Be™) commanding I "take immediate shelter from the [goddamn] TORNADO." I missed 'em all. That scares me on 2 levels.

5) It scares me 'cuz it's always been my job to be in charge of weather safety. I like keeping aware of wx threats, stocking a modest emergency kit, and making the rare "it's time to get in the basement" call. I like this job. I missed this completely; we could have been hurt.

6) It also scares me that my body was SO exhausted that it could not be awoken, even for a substantial threat, and despite a zillion warnings that surely made my phone scream. What does this say about the state of my anemic body, that a zillion alarms didn't even make me flinch?

7) Anyway, I really hope everyone is safe. I haven't yet looked at damage reports yet (hell; haven't even looked out the window yet) and judging by the sheer number of alerts, I imagine there's gotta be some. I'm just hoping people heeded them and erred on the safe side. (Fin)

======================================================

After I wrote all that, I started investigating why my phone's emergency alert didn't wake me. I keep my phone on Silent 99% of the time; however, I remember when President Cheeto sent that Presidential Alert a few months back, that shizzle came through loud and clear. So why didn't this Actual Alert make a sound? I went digging through my phone's settings and even RTFM and still couldn't find the answer, so... I dunno. 
Anyhoo, there was an F2 tornado that touched down at 3:38am in Sussex County[1], so that tornado warning was real. Thankfully nobody died; I believe there was only one injury caused by a tree falling on someone's house... yikes.

And thankfully, my worry above was for naught... I was really concerned that I slept through crazy alarms that should wake the dead and holy-lord-am-I-that-anemic-and-dead-that-even-that-couldn't-wake-me?! But the alarm was silent, so I just slept like a normal person. No crisis!


Early Birthday Weekend

(I wrote this on April 15th)

My birthday is coming up on Wednesday of this week (me and George Takei!). As an early birthday gift, Matt bought us tickets to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. This is the 4th time we've seen him at MSG since he started his residency, and he sounded amazing, as always. I scored us a hotel near Times Square, and we could see the New Years Eve Ball from our hotel window. Thankfully the hotel entrance is away from the crowd, so we could avoid the tourons and belligerent buskers in Elmo and SpiderMan and Statue of Liberty costumes.  We took the train up (admittedly, a decadent gift to ourselves) and arrived around 3-ish, so we enjoyed the 20-block walk to the hotel, grabbed a cup of coffee and a few fronch macarons along the way, and checked right into the hotel.  After freshening up, we went to our favorite restaurant (a Turkish place, creatively named "Turkish Cuisine,") and had an amazing meal as always, and then walked to MSG.  We entered the venue and took the escalator up to the 100 section, and then walked to the door marked "Sections 111-115." The usher looked at our tickets and said "Oh, NICE! Which one of you bought these tickets?" Matt said, "That was me." The usher turned to me and said, "This guy right here? He done good. Enjoy the show." He handed us off to a different usher who walked us down to our seats... closer and closer to the stage... to the front row of Section 115. HOLY CRAP! We were as close as you could possibly get to the stage without being on the floor... which means we could see absolutely everything. In fact, we were so close that I could read the brand of gear on the sound guy's mixing board. It was SO GREAT!  We sat next to some friendly drunk people in their late 50s and after just generally chatting, our Billy Joel tribute band might get a gig out of the deal. (One of the couples was verrrrrrrry wealthy and had flown up from South Carolina just to see this show. The husband is turning 60 and they want to do something extra amazing for him, so we said, "Why not hire a Billy Joel tribute band?"  The wife gave us her phone number. Who knows?)

After the show, we walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain, and stopped for dessert and a nightcap at Cafe Un Deux Trois, which was lovely. 

The next morning we went to this diner we really like (The Times Square Diner- though don't let the name fool you-- it's not particularly touristy), and then we headed over to Central Park to walk around and then go to the zoo. We got to see the sea lions, all of the amazing birds in the Tropic zone, and also Matt's favorites-- the puffins.

We made sure to leave the zoo by 3:45ish so we could catch a cab to Sam Ash, which is a giant music store right by Penn Station. I needed to pick up a few more percussion gadgets for this Genesis show I'm playing in (see "Percussion" below) and wound up spending almost $450.  Whoops... oh well. Happy Birthday to me, I guess!


Another Birthday...

My brother's birthday and mine are two years + one day apart. He's 4/16 and I'm 4/17. He turns 50 in 14 minutes! For his big 5-0, he decided he wanted to go to the most beautiful place he'd ever seen, which is Assisi, Italy. He went there in high school, when our high school used to arrange annual trips to Europe (which they natually discontinued once it came time for me to be old enough to go). Since 1987 he's been saying it's the most beautiful place he's ever been to, and how he'd give anything to go back. So, they gathered up their immediate family and headed over there. My sister-in-law and my youngest niece left 5 days early so they could visit a friend in Israel, and then they met my brother, my nephew, and my oldest niece in Italy. I'm so happy they're able to experience this all together.  It's also kinda neat that Jack (my nephew) is the same age that Jeff (my brother) was when he first saw Assisi.

We'll be having the Knapp Family Easter Passover Birthday Goulash next weekend in NJ. 


Percussion!

The next musical thing I'm involved in is a live performance of Genesis' double album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" with The Rock Orchestra. We're not dressing like Peter Gabriel or anything, but we are playing the hell out of this music.  The band has been rehearsing for about 2 months now, but every weekend they rehearsed I had to be in NJ for something. But for this show, they can definitely rehearse without me, because I'm just playing percussion and provding some secondary backing vocals. (Joe has this other woman Chris singing primary backing vocals. Whenever there are two backing vocal parts at once, I'll jump in. But the percussion is keeping me plenty busy. It's so much fun!)

I sent these tweets on the train ride home:

1: Just spent almost $450 on more percussion toys at @samashmusic in NYC. There's so much fun percussion on Genesis' #TheLambLiesDownOnBroadway, and I get to play it all, twice in one day, with @RockOrchestraDE on Saturday, May 18th at 3pm and 8pm. Shows at  @TheGrandWilm. Wheee!

2: Bought some monkey skulls (pitched woodblocks), mountable castanets, a snake spine (ratchet), & an ultra-lite tambourine for crazy-fast 32nd notes. Also bought 2 expansion trays for my percussion stand for quick/easy access; sometimes I only have 2 beats to switch instruments.

3: Got yet another shaker: This one is REALLY bright/crisp/loud & really cuts through. Has a great feel/swing/weight. My fave purchase: A Flexatone! Gonna follow @Casarino around in case he sees something eerie, catches a chill, or eats Jello. (Helpful Example!) 


OK, gonna post this now.


-------

[1]: Sussex County is Delaware's southernmost county-- we only have three, stacked on top of each other since Delaware is a tall, skinny state. We live in New Castle County, the northernmost one.


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4/21 '19 9 Comments
my phone didn't make any sound either, and I'd been keeping it by my bed for years in case of something like a tornado warning.

happy birthday.
thank you for sharing the update.
Robert Bryan 4/21 '19
You know where else Matt can see puffins? https://mollybawn.com/boat_tour_newfoundland I think tours start in June. Also they participate in Puffin Patrol, where they help puflings (!) get from where they’ve hatched to the water without getting eaten by gulls. That starts in August. https://cpawsnl.org/puffinpetrelpatrol/ (EDITED to add: I don't know why the second link won't linky, sorry.)
Michele Grant 4/21 '19edited
PUFLINGS! EEEEEEEEE!!!
Puffins are gud. See them a lot in Maine, and on my travels for work (including Newfoundland). They're just so... good!
that sounds like an AMAZING birthday! and holycrap those seats! well done, matt! :) (and i love un deux trois, if jack weren't 100% paleo i would have taken him there the other night since our theater was right next door. nom.)
Jenn A 4/22 '19
I was awake, prepping for a medical procedure. I just thought, "Well, we're screwed." Since I was pretty immobile and everyone else was asleep.

Happy Birthday! Give Pie my best!
Ray Conrad 4/23 '19
Yes! Birthday Pie needs to get its proper adulation!
Happy belated birthday!
Anne Mollo 4/23 '19
Sounds like a fantastic birthday - more so when thinking about the two of you and that scene. Super happy to hear it.
 

Yesterday morning Matt had to get some bloodwork done, so we got up early (well, early for us) and got that taken care of, and then went to brunch.  When we got back, Matt said, "Oh man, I think I might be coming down with something. I'm not entirely sure... I just feel kinda off." That was around 1:30.

By 5:00 Matt had a 99.4 degree fever, and by 8:30 it was 101.7 and he was praying that the sweet lord would just let him die. He had the power-pukes of doom (though he admittedly felt better after Round 3), and the cold/hot/ugh of the fever, and this awful cough that came from the pit of his soul.

Around 11pm my pal Kerry texted me and mentioned that she had the similar plague the day before, but thankfully it seemed to be a 24 hour thing because she felt 89% better.  

Matt debated taking something to knock his fever down, but we agreed that we shouldn't mess with millennia of evolution, and that we should just let the fever cook out whatever it needed to.  We did give him a delicious Wal-Som to knock him out though, and he slept fairly well through the night despite a few puke-breaks.

He woke up this morning and his fever is back down to 99.4, and he feels better than he did yesterday but is still bed-ridden.

I am avoiding him as much as possible, which means I'm sleeping in the guest room, and staying out of our bedroom unless I absolutely have to go in there to bring him something.  Poor guy.

This wouldn't be a big deal, but this weekend is a Really Important Weekend.

On Friday, Matt has his very first gig with 53rd & 3rd, which is a brand-new Ramones tribute band that he's the lead singer for.  Matt has never fronted a band without also holding a guitar before, and he's nervous (though very prepared). He reaaaaaally doesn't want to be sick for this. I suppose the good news is that the gig is at Bar XIII, which is about 7 minutes from our house, and if worse came to worst, he could show up, sing, and leave.  This isn't what we want, of course.

On Saturday, Matt and I are part of this really neat show called "Shine a Light," which is a 50+ musician fundraising show that raises dinero for the Light Up The Queen Foundation, which raises money for Delaware schools that lost their arts/music funding. It also runs a jazz school, and does some other cool things, too.  It's held on the big stage downstairs at The Queen, and it's almost already sold out. Tickets are $125 each, and VIP tix are $250... so it's a pretty big to-do.  Anyway, each year's concert has a theme, and this year we're doing all songs from 1969. It's a prestigious thing, and this is our first year being a part of it.  As Freshmen members, we are singing backups and are in the horn section... so no lead singer or guitar duties, but honestly, we really like being right where we are. 

Anyway, Saturday's show is an all-day thing... we have to arrive by 3 so we can be all sound-checked and cleared off the stage by 6 because that's when the house opens for the VIPs.  The music starts at 8.

The downside to this show is that there are over 50 players involved, so there are going to be over 50 musicians crammed into the backstage area where there is not enough room for even 20 people, really... plus I'm sure many will be drinking throughout the day/night... and as an introvert it's hard to endure not having a place to be quiet where there isn't a person (drunk or not) trying to talk to you... but it's a billion times worse when you're sick.  So I'm thinking about bringing a pillow or some kind of cushion so we can sit in the stairwell where (hopefully) nobody else will be. 

As for me, I feel like my body is working really hard to fight something. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure it wins.

We were in Austin all last week for work and got home on Saturday, and then Matt had a Ramones rehearsal at 10:00am on Sunday because we had an all-day dress rehearsal for Shine a Light that started at noon and went until around 7 or 8-ish (can't remember).  So between travel, being on an airplane, being in two rehearsal spaces crammed with people and sharing mics and stuff and just running running running, it's no surprise the plague got a foothold.

So, we're hoping Matt feels better ASAP.

In the last bit of news: I'm typing this in procrastination, because I'm an idiot and always wait until the last possible second to get my books in shape in time for my accountant to do my business taxes and then my personal taxes. I see my accountant tomorrow at 2pm, and I am just now starting to hand-type in all of my bank and credit card transactions for the year, because naturally I am too cheap to spend the $9.95/month for Quickbooks access.

Anyway, if I owe you an email or some kind of reply, it'll likely be next week sometime. I've gotta get through this week and the weekend.

xo

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2/27 '19 2 Comments
O lawd. Good luck kids.
Thomas Boutell 2/28 '19
Sending love and strength.
 

I'm writing this with my eyes half closed; I apologize for any typos or half-finished sentences.


Sunday mornings are usually spent getting brunch with Matt's folks. I really like Matt's folks so I genuinely look forward to it each week. Matt's dad (Steve) will never let us pay, which I find amusing. We keep telling him that he doesn't have to bribe us with food, and that we'd come out anyway... but he still pays. He won't even let us get the tip. 

This recent Sunday Matt went to a Giants game with his bro Nick. Nick has season tickets and really goes all in-- he leaves Delaware at 7:30am to arrive for a 1pm game by 9:30am so he can tailgate for a few hours. Matt went with him and I admit I was worried he'd have a panic attack at the game and wouldn't have any safe, private place to melt down for a few hours... but thankfully(??) the day before he had two AWFUL panic attacks, and he often has a good day after an especially awful day. So I'm happy that worked out. 

Matt's folks asked me if we were gonna do brunch and I told them Matt wouldn't be home so I figured they'd cancel, but instead they said "Let's go anyway, just the three of us!"  We had a really lovely, easy, relaxed time since this was the first time I've ever spent time with them sans Matt (not that I was worried-- we get along really well). After brunch they asked me to come back to their house to help Steve fix his computer, which I did in 5 minutes, and they were thrilled. (Not only am I vaguely personable, I'm useful, too! Wow! What a catch!)

I don't know why, but I always get super-happy when my boyfriend's parents like me. 

Anyhoo, Matt got home from the game around 6:45pm and we hopped in the car and headed to Philly, where I'm teaching at UPenn all week.  Class is from 8:30-4:30, and I arrive to my classroom around 8, and I try to get people outta there by 4:05 at the latest, mostly because I can tell by 2:45pm I could be talking about elephant spackle* and they'd be writing it down... the lunch coma is a very real thing.  (*I do not know what elephant spackle is or why my brain just typed it.)

My hotel is quite literally directly across the street from my classroom building, which is AWESOME.  No commute, just a few steps... so I can roll outta bed at 7:30am and be there at 8:00 with no problem. I love that.  

Matt is with me in the hotel, so I usually go back to the hotel for lunch just to relax a bit. After ll the class ends, I make my way back to the hotel by 4:45 or so by the time I straighten the classroom up... and then I immediately change into my PJs and flop into bed.  I'm usually sleepy by 8pm because I'm 90. But tonight I had a big ol' project that's due for my colleague in the Netherlands, so I had to knock that out because he's 6 hours ahead of me. It took me a few hours to finish and I just finished it up now... and right now it's almost 10pm and my body is like "HEY STUPID! WHY AREN'T YOU ASLEEP?"  

I keep falling asleep while I'm writing this and then waking up 15-20 minutes later.

 Other news, and I'll be quick here because it's super-late now... I forget if I told you that my mom lost 25 pounds on the NutriSystem plan we bought her so she could get her blood-sugar under control.  I'm SOOOOO damn proud of her. She said the food is meh and just basically TV dinners, but that's kinda what she normally eats anyway.

Ok, I'm going to sleep. Love you all ok bye.

Happy Hanukkah to those tho celebrate! 


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12/3 '18 3 Comments
Yay for solo brunch with the SO's rents! Always awesome when the bf's parents like you, I agree and hope for this too. Who wouldn't? :) Sleep tight, bae. *tuck in with a teddy* (I'm half brain dead right now.)
Karen Kuhl 12/4 '18
WHAAAAAAAAAT 25 LBS? Which NutriSystem plan? I have to look this up so I can read all the ingredients and obsess about it but never do it. That's amazing!

I'm a dumbass, I stayed up too late too.
Good job, Mom! That's fantastic.
 

We've been at my folks' place since Sunday. Dad had carpal-tunnel surgery on his wrench-turnin' hand on Monday, and he was very worried about how it was gonna go. If he can't use his right hand, he might as well check himself into the rest home, since fixing cars and building stuff (and caring for my mom) is what keeps him alive. 

The good news is that the surgery went smooove like buttah, and 10 minutes after he got home he made himself an omelet with his bionic hand... so he's fine. Now that he's a few days out his fingers are a little black and blue, but it's really all good.  Today at 2:45 we take him for his post-op follow-up, and then we'll head back home. 

We have this rhythm here at my folks' place where my parents get up early (around 7) and fix themselves some coffee and a small bite. It wakes me up, but I stay in bed snoozing. I They are so sweet and kind to each other in the mornings, and it makes me happy.  Then my mom goes back to bed, and my dad goes out to get coffee and bullshit with the guys at Steve's Transmissions for a few hours, and he gets home around 11. By then Matt gets up and brings me a cup of coffee in bed because he is the best, and then he hangs with my folks a bit while I build up the courage/strength to put on pants and go out to the kitchen with everyone. By this time my folks' morning sweetness has worn off and they're both back to interrupting and my dad answering for my mom and then my mom getting defensive and my dad not understanding why she's suddenly pissy and then I explain Communication 101 and then a lightbulb goes off for a moment until they both find it easier to deem me too preachy than it is to try changing how they talk to each other.  

So I'm still in bed at 11:58am. I need to get out there and I don't wanna. 

Anyhoo.

I have been go-go-go since the end of October, as companies are rushing to spend their training budgets so they don't lose them for next year. I've had classes in TX, Denver, Philly, and then I took a class in DC, then we went to CT for Thanksgiving, then we had a gig in West Chester on Saturday, and then we left for NJ (here) the next day.  I haven't had a day off in a while, and I need one.  The emails are piling up (work emails and friendly emails) and I haven't had much time to even read them let alone reply. If I owe you an email, I promise I'm working on it. 

Next week (Dec 3-6) I teach a class at UPenn again, and the following week (Dec 10-13) is another class that I just don't feel like teaching since it's the week before our big Christmas Show (which is on the 15th), so I'm having my pal Joyce teach it. We're gonna be building sets and rehearsing and panicking that week, so there was no way I could be away for the week. With Joyce teaching the class, I'm not making as much on the class as I normally would since I have to pay for her airfare, hotel, and instructor fee, but I'll still make something, and something is better than if I had just turned the work away and gotten nothing.

I have a ton of other work to do and no desire to do it... I'm not sure if this is some low-level depression, the start of the winter blues, or just general laziness. Probably some combo thereof.

In other news entirely, a few weeks ago I was taking a class in Washington DC and I took the train down. DC's Union Station has a bunch of mall-esque stores in it, and I was worried I was gonna be cold as I walked to/from class, so I popped in a store I'd never heard of and bought a warm undershirt for $19.00. And now, I have a new fucking addiction... these HeatTech bra-top undershirts by Uniqlo. Most bra-top undershirts have a totally useless shelf-bra, but these things have this kinda combo shelf-cup configuration that HOLY BALLS actually handles my mutant titties better than any other actual bra I have ever worn.  Going from a 40DD to a 32-Pfffft is impossible to fit, and these things work (they actually work!!), praise jeeeesus!  I bought a bunch more, so I pretty much haven't taken one off since November 13th... and ta-daaa. I am comfortable and warm (and perky!) for the first time in well over a decade. 

Perhaps that is TMI. Perhaps I don't care.

It's my blog, and I'll TMI if I want to. :)

Ok, time to get motivated. Bleh.

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11/29 '18 8 Comments
Winter blahs, I prescribe a full spectrum light in your work space. At the minimum a daylight spectrum light. It makes a huge difference in my mid-winter demeanor.

I was up in central Massachusetts for the holiday and holy balls, a couple hundred miles northeast and you notice how much earlier the sun goes down up there as opposed to in Philadel.

And yes, TMI. But you be you. I now know more about the state of your chest than I ever did before, or am comfortable knowing. #nerdworldproblems

And if you haven't taken off a shirt since November 13th, perhaps it's time to give it a rest and maybe launder it.
Ray Conrad 11/29 '18
I've been meaning to get a full-spectrum light for a looong time, but just... haven't. Perhaps I shall Amazon One-click one into existence. :)

And dooood, I shower with this undershirt/bra on, so IT'S CLEAN, OKAY? (I kid.)
(googles "heat tech bra top undershirt uniqlo")
AAAAA-LEE-LUU-YAH!!!
I have the opposite of your boobs. My bra size is 40 A.72 or something. I buy 40 Bs with push-up padding, so there's extra mass inside the cup, so the bra will fit. I would buy 40 As. They don't exist. I will buy damn near anything that has padded cups. Did you get the one with camisole straps or wider straps?

So this one time I was at a Barenaked Ladies concert at the Spectrum (RIP), and people were throwing their bras onstage. It was New Year's, so Steve and Ed would take the bras and put them on the Christmas tree upstage. It was a very polite crowd, so bras were being passed via the crowd to the stage. Every time a bra made it to the front, Steve or Ed would bow in thanks, and add it to the tree. I happened to be wearing a leopard print bra that I didn't hate, but wouldn't have shed tears if I never saw it again, and I was considering trying to get it passed up to the stage. Then a huge burly bearded guy in the front row passed a bra to the stage, and Steve did a double take and asked, "is this yours, sir?" Then Ed said, "What size is it, a 40 A?"

I decided not to participate.

Digression is the better part of valor.

Glad you're taking good care of your folks. Fist bump of solidarity.
Ahhhhh yes, boob-shame. I know it well.

Remind me to tell you about The Summer I Went Crazy and had a one-night stand with a guy in Philly and the boobs of shame. Let's just say my Victoria's Secret push-up bra did a wholllllllle lotta false advertising, and the let-down was SO AWKWARD and AWFUL. (Oh. Looks like I just told you.)
OMG I now have to email you. I remember ALL boob conversations we have ever had.
I'll have to check out the bra-top undershirts. My man boobs are getting out of control with your run of the mill bra.

(Thrilled beyond words to hear that Dad's bionic wrench turnin' hand is fully function.)
Hahaha! It's a "Bro" or a "Manssiere." (Thanks, Seinfeld!)
Great news about your Dad!
Also I love that you get the chance to hear your parents being lovely to each other.

Xoxo
 

The thing I teach is this thing called "ITIL" which is basically a set of books that give you ideas on how to make your IT department suck less.  When I teach what's known as an "ITIL Foundation" class, I'm basically giving a 3-day lecture on the highlights of these books (kinda like a live-action Cliffs Notes), and then I proctor the official Certification Exam that "proves" that people remember the highlights and major plot points of these books. 

When these books first came out in 1989-ish, they were a set of 31 books. They were revised in 1999 and they shrunk down to 8 books (though they added a 9th one later) -- that was called "ITIL v2," and then in 2007 it became 5 books ("ITIL V3"). In 2011, they did a teeny little update to the five ITIL V3 books and there was confusion in the industry as to whether it was still called "ITIL V3" or if it was called "ITIL 2011" or just plain ol' "ITIL." But it stayed five books.

A new version just sorta came out in beta, and only instructors have access to this draft version (called "ITIL 4"). Instructors have to be certified in it before we're allowed to teach it, obviously.  The new version won't be officially released until February-ish, and the new ITIL 4 Foundation exams will go live around then.

I'm heading down to Washington DC today because the ITIL Mothership is holding a  Train the Trainer Class on Thursday and Friday... and then Friday afternoon I'll also take the Foundation Exam.  This new version is soooooooooo fundamentally different than any of its predecessors that I am worried I'm gonna fail this exam on Friday... and boy howdy won't that be embarrassing. 

I know when ITIL V2 moved to ITIL V3 in 2007, I was convinced I'd never ever be comfy or fluent in the V3 material... and hey, look at me, I'm considered a fancy-pants subject matter expert and I haven't had an in-person student flunk the exam on my watch since 2009, and people buy access to my online instructional videos and send me fan-mail thanking me for helping them nail the exam. So maybe I'm not as dumb as I think. 

But this new version... man. I read it, and it means nothing to me... and I channel Matt Lichtenwalner ​​​​​​'s friend Don and kinda giggle because all I see are "worrrrrrrrds..."  O_o


In other news, a few weeks ago I had two root canals and one of them turned to the dark side and got infected (yum) so my face blew up and it hurt... so I jumped on 10 days of antibiotics. Those ended on November 5th.

On Monday of this week they had to do more dental work, and now the *other* root-canaled tooth has turned to the dark side. So I'll be on yet another stupid round of antibiotics starting in an hour or so. Sick of this, you guys.  (I swear I brush and floss! I even have a Sonicare and a WaterPik that I use religiously!)  And my dentist is awesome... so I don't know why my teef rebel like this. It hurts, and I look like an idiot with my face all lopsided yet again.  (Perfect for meeting new people!)

It's supposed to be a wintry mix of blecch from DC to NYC for the next few days, and the hotel I'm staying in is about 1/2 mile from the Sofitel hotel where the training is at. (As much as I wanted to stay at the Sofitel, I couldn't justify $800/night. So it'll be $400/night instead at the Hampton Inn... ouch.) I'm not looking forward to walking 1/2 mile in the icy snow to/from class, but I also know that 1/2 mile is just not far enough to justify calling an Uber/Lyft.  So I will comfort and warm my heart by flipping the bird at The White House as I walk directly past it on the walk to/from class each day. 

I am looking forward to meeting my friend Dan for dinner tonight since he lives in DC. He's been my pal since Kindergarten, and he's fucking awesome. We were in punk band in high school together and he is one of those "touchstone" people in my life. Stoked to see him. 

This will be my first work-trip (or any trip, really) in forever where Matt isn't coming with me. I haz a sad. But honestly, I'm gonna be studying each night, so I wouldn't be that much fun to hang around anyway.


In other news, this Saturday night we are playing in a big-ol' tribute to The Who, and I am pretty excited about it.  Good lordy, the song "Slip Kid" is so much fun to play. Plus I'm getting to play trumpet on "5:15," "Drowned," and "The Real Me," and it's a blast.  I can't remember if I've ever performed on The Grand Opera House stage before... it's a 1200-seat theater. I feel like I would have remembered that. *shrug*

Ok, time to get out of bed. (I've been up since 8, but I just like being in bed.)

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11/14 '18 6 Comments
I can't imagine that it's possible that you haven't performed at the Grande. Maybe at the Baby Grande? Dunno.

Anywho - sounds like you're pretty slammed over the next couple of days, but I will be working in DC (or nearby) both days (weather permitting) so ping me if you want to grab coffee.
I gather you’ll have little time, but if you do, pop into the Renwick? (right around the corner from the White House) Also, Air Canada has a pop up Poutine restaurant in DC this season. Also also, Thursday evening Local 16 DC bar has a Broadway singalong. Pop pop pop.
Ursula Sadiq 11/14 '18edited
I’m stressed out for you, just reading this. I have a feeling that once you figure out the pattern, you’ll triumph.
I never have figured out what ITIL is except that "we don't have it" and "we need it."

And you've already taught me something, as now I know it is "ideas on how to make your IT department suck less."
Chris Herdt 11/20 '18
Take a whole bunch of really smart IT managers and come up with a very long list of their best practices for running IT organizations (big and small). Put it through the 'common language' filter so that everyone understands everyone else.

Now distill all that stuff down into something that doesn't take a lifetime to learn.

Voila! ITIL
Matt Lichtenwalner 11/21 '18edited
ETA: ITIL CAN take a lifetime to master, of course - like anything. Ms. Knapp seems to have an uncanny ability in that department. Smart one, she.
 

Last night we played a show in Kennett Square, opening for an impro comedy troupe.  We played a 25 minute set, and then sat in the back of the theater to watch their improv show. They invited us on stage to participate in the final improv game of the night and I protested because I'd never done any improv whatsoever... and it turns out I did kinda OK given my total lack of skill. That was kinda fun to try. Matt did great because he's freakin' effortless at everything-- I don't know how he does it. 

Today (Friday) I put my phone in Airplane Mode and stayed offline pretty much all day in what we call a NEDNOP day (NEDNOP stands for "no electronic devices, no other people"). We spent some time at a little spa down the street to finally get the last of the playa dust out of our pores.  (After we got home from Burning Man my skin was so dry and angry that I desperately wanted a facial, and I also wanted a massage because my muscles hurt from building shit and pounding the playa for a week. So today we finally took care of that.)

Matt and I got massages and facials (his first facial!), and I also got a body treatment where they dry brush you and slather you with shea butter and then wrap you in warm towels and plastic and stick you under the heat lamp like a piece of Roy Rogers NJ Turnpike rest stop chicken.  The facial and the body treatment were maybe a 7 out of 10 (perfectly delightful) and the massage was an 8.5 or even a 9. She was amazing.  

Matt and I went to get a bite right afterwards, and then hit the hardware store for some stuff for the house, and then he started feeling anxious so we came home and crawled into bed around 6PM-ish... and we fell asleep... and then I woke up around 2AM, which is why I'm typing this at 6;19am. 

While I've been writing this, I've been listening to "Who's Next" on headphones. Good lord, what a masterpiece. Roger Daltrey is a MACHINE. Pete Townshend's voice is so smooth... and John Entwistle's bass playing is so melodic and he plays it like a lead instrument. And my friend Rob summed up Keith Moon's playing perfectly, like "someone kicked Keith and his drumset down a flight of stairs and he landed on 1."  What a band. Man oh man.

OK. I'm finally getting sleepy, so I'm gonna end this. 

Xo

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10/13 '18 13 Comments
NEDNOP is kind of an amazing idea. I'm not sure how we'd survive, though. Read a book? Conversation? Walks? Huh. Maybe?
Sean M Puckett 10/13 '18
Do it. You won't regret it.
Just pretend it's 1991, and you'll be fine. :-)
I'm not shocked that either of you would be good at improv. I think the 80/20 of improv is being 'quick'. Assessing, processing, and being able to respond quickly. We all know that there are different kinds of intelligence, but you both have that in spades. Glad to hear you tried it!

I'd like to say that I'm due for a NEDNOP day, but I think most days look pretty much like NEDNOP to most folks. I have so little real interaction with anyone. Problem with that is that it moves the bar. Now, on those days where I talk to one person, I'm all "Whoooaah! That took it out of me." #GoodProblemsToHave?
I'm kinda with you re: real interaction with people. We don't have much, honestly. We play gigs, but that's not real interaction-- it's very one-sided. We also eat at Angel's a few times per week and chit-chat with the staff and the regulars, and call that enough interaction. We also see people at rehearsal but we've got a job to do there and always go right home afterwards.

Kinda bums me out that I don't hang out with anyone really, but then again I'm also totally OK with it. Deep down (OK, not very deep down) I'm a very lazy person who just wants to lay in bed all day, so I get to live that dream most days.

This makes no sense.
It makes _perfect_ sense.

Hello bed.
NEDNOP is something koozbanians should have said. NEDNOP!
Thomas Boutell 10/13 '18
I really wish I could put my parents up in a swanky hotel with a spa and restaurant for a long weekend, and then take over their house for a long weekend of All The Space I Need. I would hire Bobbi to teach a master class in improv, so we could all benefit from all the listening and "yes and" and stuff.
That sounds like a damn fine weekend for all involved.
Hell, just wait until your parents go away on one of their vacations and we'll do it then!

Or... we'll do it at Anne's house. VERMONT ROADTRIP!

(You are also welcome to do it here anytime. If our great room can handle 7-person Beatlefest Core Band + 8-person string ensemble rehearsals, we could do an improv workshop. Wouldn't be nearly as roomy as your folks' place, but it's something.)
I can't remember whose line it was about the Who being "a singer plus three guys all of whom think they're playing lead" but it's nowhere more evident than on Who's Next and Quadrophenia.

Moon in particular on Quadrophenia is fucking supernatural. if you haven't fired it up on headphones before, allow me to recommend.
CM Adams 10/16 '18
I think I'm gonna make Quadrophenia on headphones happen tonight. I need me more Keith Moon!
there's some awesome Moon segments in the Kids Are Alright film, btw. he was one crazy ass motherfucker.
CM Adams 10/17 '18