A not atypical weekend
August 4th, 2013

Harking back to the old days of blogging, I decided to keep track of all the cool stuff I did this weekend!

There is an intentional double negative in the title. This weekend contained 3 types of activities: things I do regularly, things I do every once in a while, and things I do semi-regularly but with certain specific details.

So, speaking of #3, Friday started out with (almost) free tickets to see Bobcat Goldthwait do standup. I have never seen Bobcat in person before, but I have gone to see comedy at this club (Cobb’s) a few times since I’ve lived here. Then we said hi and got this picture that I look awkward in:

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Note: I am a really big fan of Bobcat, and his set was a lot of fun. Apparently the early show before us featured a less enthusiastic crowd, but he seemed to think we were cool and told a lot of stories (in addition to his rehearsed standup).

The next day, J left to go to a bachelorette party for the night, leaving me to get into trouble. I chose to go shopping, make food, and watch movies.

Before I left to shop, I started some No-Knead Bread in the Dutch Oven, the first thing we’ve made in the D.O. You just mix the flour/yeast/salt/water and let sit for 12-24 hours for the “slow-rise”.

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The first thing I set to work on when I got back was some potato-leek-cauliflower soup in the slow cooker. I found it here, who found it here:

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Its just potatos, cauliflower, leeks, onion, carrot, broth, and some rosemary & s/p. Chop it up, stick it in the slow-cooker for 6 hours on low. Then blend as much as you like for consistency, and you have 6 quarts of soup!

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(You will notice a quarter glass of beer next to it, that’s home-brew styled after the “Cooper’s Sparkling” australian brew).

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Behind my slow-cooker is the beer tree I bought J, which can both sanitize (using an attachment) and dry beer bottles.

Next to it is fruit for kombucha! I’ve made kombucha a few times now and am trying to get more comfortable with the process. It’s supposed to be good for you, but I just like how it tastes and makes me feel. This kombucha has been brewing 3 weeks:

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Most other people’s kombucha is a little darker than this, but this is SF so the weather isn’t too warm and I don’t get great airflow in my kitchen, so this is probably less fermented than other 3-week kombuchas.

I mostly follow this recipe to brew, using jasmine or oolong tea, and let sit on top of my fridge. Then I do a secondary fermentation in beer bottles, adding either ginger + lemon or juice + chia seeds. This time the ginger I got was kind of dry, so I did less ginger lemon than usual, and used fresh raspberries that I blended in my food processor.

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My current kombucha bottling process is still a little annoying, but I’m getting faster at it (it’s all about planning!) I’m sure with some better bottles and brewing vessel I could make it go faster. This one involves funnels and saran wrap.

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Now it was about time to go back to the bread I put together last night, but first I was a good boyfriend and swept the living room for the people who were going to crash here tonight:

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(I also got our music room, afterwards I was temporarily distracted by my fretless bass, despite the air mattress)

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Ok, enough bragging about our awesome apartment.

Next I had to roll the sticky gunky bread dough together into a ball, even though it had yet to really take on any sort of shape. So this really meant covering it in flour, which kept it from spilling out everywhere, giving it a sense of form.

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Then I stuck it in the dutch oven I’d been pre-heating in the stove (although not for long enough), and let it do its thing. 45 mins later it was finished and lookin pretty good!

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In retrospect, I should have let it rise for a little after “forming” it, and let the dutch oven cook up a bit. I also realized that my dutch oven is giant for such a small loaf of bread. But, it was easy and tasted good! Sweet.

During this I watched movies that I haven’t been able to motivate myself to watch. This included Gang Tapes (which was interesting if not a little draining), then The Girl Next Door (a disturbing yet incredibly well-made account of real-life torture – why do I do this to myself?), and then cleansed my palate with 48 Hours (ridiculous, but fun and easy).

It wasn’t over though, even when I ate the soup! The next day I went to a free concert at Stern Grove (a beautiful donated park in SF) featuring The Relatives and Shuggie Otis, which was awesome. I also got there right on time for the music and scored the best seats I’ve had at the venue:

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(I snapped this picture during intermission, so no one is there, but the Relatives were amazing and Shuggie Otis is a funk-legend (who played bass on one of my favorite Frank Zappa tunes!)

Life coming full-circle. Then I came home and watched Herzog’s Grizzly Man, which brought back found memories of Alaska (oh yeah, I went to Alaska courtesy of my family and it was so wonderfully humbling – I will throw something together for that).

Now it’s Monday and life is back to normal as seems to happen on such Monday’s. Reality is full of deadlines and root canals (I wish I was lying about the root canals)….

Gigs for the end of the Year!
October 9th, 2012

Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions are coming to a dive bar near you (if you live in the SF area) for FREE at the end of the year! I am pysched that we have lined up three shows to end 2012 on!

First up, we are playing w. our friends Resistant Me (featuring Steve Bealey on guitar) from the South Bay, and Pharoahs (A hodgepodge of friends/previous bandmates) next week at the illustrious Grant and Green! (Conveniently located at Grant & Green in SF’s North Beach). Things kick off at 9 pm, we will be 2nd of three killer bands. Come get drunk w. us!

We will RAWK

I am not a Graphic Designer

After that we are coming back to San Jose’s best dive bar, Johnny V’s for a Thursday night show on December 6th. Details are forthcoming, but I would get there at 830 and wait anxiously!

And to end the year, an afternoon outside happy hour show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco’s Dogpatch. We take the stage at 4 pm! There are drink specials all day, and we will be followed by Sean O ‘ Brien and his Dirty Hands at 5, then Communist Kayte will finish things off at 6 pm. This is in place of the October 13th show we unfortunately had to reschedule.

Come grab a beer, mosh with your friends, and sing along to “Fuck You Santos”! You know you wanna..

8in8
April 28th, 2011

So one of my heroes, Amanda Fucking Palmer recently (as in yesterday) did a really cool project in which she, (her husband) Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds (of the Five) and Damian Kulash set out to write, record, and mix 8 songs in 8 hours. They did all this in Allston too, which is kind of cool, cuz that’s where my punk band used to do it’s thing!

They ended up with 6 songs in 12, which is a nice compromise. Since the album dropped (on bandcamp for a minimum $1 donation), there’s been challenges to cover and record videos ASAP in the spirit of fast production. BTW, the $1 donation goes to the Berklee City Music Network which was set up by my alma mater as “a charity which provides kids with every opportunity to see their musical potential.”

I love a challenge, so took a second listen to the tunes and decided to try and record a cover version. This is the most barebones thing I’ve ever released to the internet, but I think it’s a good idea. I ended up choosing “One Tiny Thing” mostly because it had the most driving rhythm (and least amount of piano, which is the hardest to duplicate on the electric bass). The straightforward beat was another factor.

If I had more time on this I would certainly flesh it out (and tweak some of the vocal effects a bit more) but since this is all about doing it quick, I’m calling it FFN! (Finished For Now). If I were to go back to it, one of the first things I would do is add a little acoustic guitar to the chorus, and put some extra percussion in there. However, I took this challenge upon myself at 10:56, and it’s now 12:29 and, I should probably go to sleep since I have work in the morning.

So here you go, my version of 8in8’s “One Tiny Thing”, embarassingly under-recorded, and probably full of mistakes since I barely listened to it before publishing it. Enjoy!

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Better Late Then Never
January 6th, 2011

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On just about anything I suppose, although this title is really because it’s a few days behind the New Year to be writing a post about time moving on. But I’m going to do it anyway.

Last year, I wrote a post about how I don’t believe in resolutions, but instead believe in goals. Sadly, I failed almost every one of those goals this year. (my actual score was 2 and two-halves [two of them I feel I did about half the time or got halfway there], out of a potential total of 8). I don’t feel bad about all of it, but I was thinking about why I couldn’t reach these goals, and I came up with a few things.

What it all boils down to though is that these weren’t the right goals for me. I did many many other things – I accomplished a lot of the brainstorm I had last February about where to put my intentions. I’m not quite as far as I wanted to be, but neither the work I did on myself nor any of my projects is reflected in the goals I identified in January – no matter how well intentioned they were.

So this year I’m going to put more emphasis on intentions and outcomes. And I’ve really realized that what I do can be driven by three words:

Musick. Yoga. Friends.

I consider Family in there with Friends, but I think what this really means is that what I am doing should be with those three things considered. Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t garden next year, or that bike maintenance isn’t a priority, or that I don’t want more money (for the record, I would love more money), or my day job isn’t important. It just means that when I have time for myself, I should check in and make sure that I am doing what I can to pursue these three things.

Why they are important I think is obvious, but I’ll go into them briefly. For musick, I really need to be making sure I am putting my best effort forth to being an active and continually improving musician. That means learning more about the ways I can record my own music on my own time, writing more songs, and practicing regularly. It’s a growing year – time to find my voice.

Yoga is increasingly becoming more important to me because it teaches me not just about my body, it reminds me to keep paying attention to my body and how it is doing. It can help heal that body when it’s not at it’s best. There’s also what it can do for my mind – bikram yoga helps me keep things in perspective and generally retain my composure. It brings a lot of things into perspective, and I love the journey that it’s taking me on.

Friends, as I’ve mentioned, is overarching and really means those who are special to me, related or not. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I need to take effort – even if I feel like I’m almost always the one taking the effort. The effort in the act of initiation is greatly outweighed by connecting and reconnecting with other humans, especially those with the ability to make me think (or crack me up).

Anyway, I am working on trying to keep my posts brief (both for writing sake, but also because translating them into Severe Slang is easier), so I will sign off with the question – what’s important to you in 2011?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want to see what goals I did and did not keep, see here.

P.P.S. Pics from the Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions gig are here!


Severe Bass Has Launched!
November 18th, 2010

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After months of searching, I have a band! Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions rocked Ireland’s 32 last night (11/16). The show went pretty good for what I could tell! I try to gauge “effectiveness” on whether or not a)the folks watching are having fun, and b)the band is enjoyin themselves. Last night both criteria seemed to apply. In other words, I’m calling it a success. Note: This does not mean that the songs were played to their perfection, we all made some mistakes, but I expected that. Gotta get those first show jitters out!

It has been so long since I’ve fronted a band, I really didn’t know what to do at times. I tried to keep the band moving along and the patter to a minimum. During the songs I did my best to play the bass and sing as well as possible, and when I wasn’t singing felt the need to bang my head to show that I fucking mean it when I play. I have been playing solo for a while so I’m sort of used to what it feels like to stand in front of a microphone and sing. However, the second we finished our sound check I realized I had only played as a solo musician twice since moving to the area 3 years ago. One of those times was actually at Ireland’s 32 (March of 2008), and they even kicked me off early as a solo act. I was in the both the preceding and following band, so it just meant I drank two beers really quickly and then got back on stage. I play phenomenally when I am angry, which is the only good part of that experience.

Anyway, I am really appreciative of the folks that came out, as well as Chris Rodriguez for hooking us up w. the slot. It was really cool to get a taste of what it feels like to front a band with 10 more years of musickal experience, and to hear the songs in a live environment. I can’t honestly say it was the most fun I’ve ever had, but I think after a little more practice doing this will be more comfortable and relaxed.

Got to admit, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to be the frontperson/songwriter/bandleader. It’s hard work – luckily my band is pretty cool. And I’m not afraid of hard work 🙂

Pics to come!


First Severe Bass and Band show!
November 16th, 2010

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HOLY SHIT!!! I can’t believe I forgot to tell you folks – Severe Bass is performing it’s FIRST SHOW EVER with a backing band! Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions (working name) will be the featured band at Ireland’s 32’s open-mic night, TONITE at 9:30. It’s going to be awesome!

I’ve been playing with Steve Bealey on guitar all year and Cameron Fleischer on drums since July and we are proud to present a full on band experience. It has been over 10 years since I fronted a band, and I am both super excited as well as a little bit nervous!

The songs will be a mixture of originals and cover songs originally written/arranged for solo bass & voice, but have been re-worked (again) to make room for sweet guitar leads and thundering drum fills. Please come check it out – it would mean a lot to me.

Especially if you have been waiting for an excuse to bang your head (or just laugh at me when I’m in the throes of rawk-stardom), Severe Bass will be rocking just for you tonight at 9:30. Join us, won’t you?

Worst Concert Experience Ever!
September 2nd, 2010

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I had been looking forward to the August 31st show at the Cow Palace, featuring Slayer, Megadeth, & Testament for MONTHS! And then the Cow Palace had to go fuck everything up. Great. Thanks a lot.

Note: This not a review of the performances of these bands, or the show itself even. This is merely my documenting my experience at the aforementioned show with a whole lot of complaining about the overall lameness of the venue.

First, some background. This show was originally scheduled for January of 2010. I had been tinkering with the idea of going, but eventually ended up having a gig of my own that night, so I called it a wash. However, I had not realized that this show ended up being cancelled because Slayer singer/bassist Tom Araya needed intensive back surgery. While it’s a bummer (but no surprise I guess – guy’s been headbanging for 30+ years) that Tom needed back surgery, it did work out in my favor when I found out that the show was rescheduled for August 31st sometime in March. I bought a $50 ticket w.o hesitation.

Over the months, I knew this show was coming up, but couldn’t really visualize the experience. At all. Eventually, the date finally came, and I found myself about to rock out to 3 killer thrash metal bands. I was especially looking forward to seeing Testament (and had been for months), as I was not as familiar with them and had never seen them live (this being my 3rd time seeing Slayer and 4th seeing Megadeth). I eventually figured out getting there via Muni (or what I call, the loserbus) wouldn’t be too bad, so planned on that. Something told me not to ride my bike there, and I’m trying to get better at listening to the voice in my head.

Admittedly, I left a little later then intended. I’d hoped to leave around 7 pm (when the doors opened), but didn’t get out of the house for a bus until more like 7:30. No bother, it should only take a half hour to get inside. Hopefully I’d still catch some of Testament.

After two buses, I was at the venue, and things started crumbling down at that point. The line was unimaginably long. It curved around the outside of the parking lot, then swung back around (past the entrance) to the parking lot gates, where I got in line. In retrospect, I should’ve moved on and cut. But I was alone, and while an asshole, I’m not a douche.

I waited in that line for probably 40 minutes, the beginning full of ticket scalpers and a few t-shirt sellers (for 10 bucks, a good, but likely illegal, price). In that time, Testament (who must have started right at 8), finished their set (I found this out about 15 minutes in from someone in line, who’s friend called to say that they were awesome, and also, over). I wonder how they felt knowing so many fans were outside?

Megadeth also played one of their albums (one of their best ones) in it’s entirety before I actually got onto the concert floor (I literally walked in during the outro of the last song and asked someone what I had missed to confirm they played the whole album). They played another 30 minutes or so – an uneven set of classics and a few singles. Unfortunately they sounded awful – but I don’t think it was their fault. The drums were the loudest thing in the mix. Mustaine’s vocals only cut through about half the time – and his voice has obviously dropped since the last time I saw them. There was no bass in the mix, and the guitars, while audible, had no presence. In retrospect, it sounds like they just kept the Slayer settings on for Megadeth, a drastically different band. Whoever did sound for them that night should be ashamed. At first I thought maybe it was just where the mixing booth was, but later realized I was maybe 10 feet to the right of it. Poor job. Megadeth looked like they were playing pretty well, and most of the crowd seemed to love it.

I thought about getting a beer at one point, as the Jack Daniels I’d drunk before leaving was starting to work its way out of my system, but upon further inspection found that a)coors light draft beers were 8 bucks, and b)in order to have the privilege of buying one you had to stand in another huge line to get a wristband. I decided not to give any extra money to the Cow Palace and instead found a place to sit for Slayer.

I found a good one – center stage in the first balcony. This meant I was very far from the stage – but could see everything decently and also watch the crowd in every part of the floor. As a people watcher and mosh-pit enthusiast, this was a prime area, especially since I was a little tired of standing and just wanted to get my brain blown away by Slayer at this point.

Of course, first I had to sit through a super long sound check, in which it seemed like EVERYONE near me smoked at least 2 cigarettes. So I was both buzzed (good) and lightheaded (not as good) from a ridiculous amount of second hand smoke. My clothes stink, btw. Even as a cigarette smoker I never liked indoor smoking venues – not that the Cow Palace allows smoking. It’s just that this is California and most of the big venues don’t pay attention to this shit, especially not junky ones like the Cow Palace (the Regency Ballroom, maybe).

The good news is, Slayer was out of sight and they sounded great. The light show was also spot-on. I love Slayer for a lot of reasons, but they really are the LOUDEST fucking band on the planet. They had two walls of Marshall Half Stacks – 6 x 3 on each side, with two other larger speakers underneath the drums. I could feel the bass drum rattling my body. Afterwards, I felt beat up, even without going into the pit. Musick is powerful stuff.

I also got a chance to really marvel at how tight and together this band was, even when they were playing musick that didn’t really work together. Seriously, every solo they played was a mess of noise and technique without much (if any) thought behind construction, music theory, or scales. Nonetheless, they were meticulously planned out and and really helped push the atmosphere past that of just another rock band.

(Side note – they played AC/DC for pretty much all of their filler music. That threw me off guard. Not cuz AC/DC isn’t awesome, but is that 1)Really what Slayer listens to, and 2)Really what Slayer thinks their fans listen to?)

They played for a pretty long time, although they didn’t play an encore. It seems big bands don’t feel the need to do this anymore? What gives? I’ve seen Faith No More, Danzig, Tool, and Slayer this year. Only Danzig did an encore. Big bands are supposed to do one, if not two encores, so long as the fans want it, right?

After the show I wasn’t sure the best way to go home – I was perfectly willing to pay the surcharge and avoid the loserbus (ie, take a cab), but a bus pulled up just as I was passing the street. I got in line, and soon realized I could be wasting tons of time by taking the loserbus for this reason: The vast majority of the riders did not have a Muni pass. This meant they all had to pay the $2 toll – which takes time. In the time it took one group of people to pay their toll, the crosswalk had gone a full rotation, and allowed another group of concert attendees across the street, which promptly scurried towards the muni line. I can’t say how many times this happened, and I knew that I could probably walk to Mission Street in the time it would take the bus to get there, but felt like I needed to stick it out for the sheer hilarity of the situation. Besides, it was only 11:30 (I guess Metal Bands have early bedtimes now).

Anyway, I made my transfer shortly thereafter and was home quickly. Then I opened up a can of my favorite ginger beer, Bundaberg (from Australia, but purchased at a bar down the street from me), and drank that while I slowly realized that this was the worst concert experience I may have ever had. But Slayer was fucking awesome, and I drank a Bundaberg, so I guess I can’t complain. I just will know better when I go to the Cow Palace next time.

Number of the Beast!
June 14th, 2010

So for whatever reason the other day I looked up the only youtube video I’ve uploaded (for now). It’s a cover of Jason Schwartzman’s “Ethan’s Song” (the credit music from Slackers), and it’s not my best effort but I do like the song. I’m playing in my bedroom from El Cerrito in a sweatshirt and my pj bottoms, so it’s pretty informal. All in all, I think making the video and putting it on youtube was less about sharing the song (especially that cut) and more about seeing what kind of quality to expect from my digital camera and youtube.

Anyway, when I looked it up, I saw that I had Six hundred and sixty-six views! Considering the video has been up for about a year n a half, that’s really not impressive in terms of quantity, but I sure do like that number. So I took a screen shot for everyone:

You can find the video itself here. It’s not my best cover, or performance, but I’m sort of happy with it. It’s always fun to get haterage on my musick – one of the comments is “You should never sing again ever” or something to that extent.

HORNS!

Dio
June 1st, 2010

I realize I am a little late to the game on this, but I am still getting better at this “blogging in a relevant time frame” thing. I hope it makes you feel better that I started this post on May 17th, the day after his death.

Irregardless, I strongly feel the need to write a post in memory of the most awesome, Ronnie James Dio, who passed on away on 16th b/c of stomach cancer. A man of his stature deserved a longer life and a less painful death. From his wife’s statement, it sounds the legend at least went on after seeing many personal friends.

I was never a massive Ronnie James Dio fan – in that I listened to him endlessly or followed his career actively throughout the years. I knew a few of his songs, appreciated him as a rock legend, and deeply respected what he did for the genre. However, upon retrospect, he had one of the most solid careers in the hard rock music industry. And he never sold out or went on reality tv – he just kept making and performing musick. Reading a brief biography of his is inspiring – studying an in-depth one written by a fan is flat-out humbling.

Personally, my favorite of his music is actually from his solo portfolio. While his work w. Rainbow and Black Sabbath is beyond impressive, I feel like the that was just the beginning. He’s obviously most famous for his song “Holy Diver”, which is one of the best rock songs ever. That’s no hyperbole – the more you listen to that song the better it is. Harder rocking then anything Sabbath ever put out, darker then Led Zeppelin. He was a force – someone who knew that the best thing they could do – for themselves and everyone involved, was to write, record, and perform rock music. Thank you for that, Mr. Dio.

He also helped popularize the universal “horns” symbol, which I think its quite fitting. It’s the pure embodiment of the genre and the vibe, without being trite, or a glorification of excess. You’ll notice there’s no “Behind the Music” for Dio, because there’s no tragic emotional breakdown, or crippling drug addiction, or larger then life ego that consumed everything. Ronnie James Dio just rocked for over 30 years, and did it with style.

While I was quite saddened when I heard the news, I have to admit that it has been a gradual acceptance and realization for me, which has hit me a little harder then I was expecting. The amount of respect I have for this man and what he has done is very hard for me to recognize. Mr. Dio has always been one of those musicians that came up in passing now and then – and when you checked him out finally you felt like you had been missing out on a great secret of the world. The more I learned about him, the more I have respected him. His career is most inspiring – a real champion of the music world. Exactly the kind of person I want to be.

I had the honor of seeing Dio in concert, one I barely appreciated at the time. It was 2002 at Merriweather Post Pavillion. Motorhead, Dio, and Iron Maiden. I don’t think we made it in time for any of Motorhead (who I’d seen recently w. Anthrax), but we did catch the whole Dio set. I have to admit I was not completely engaged the whole time, but I did know I was watching a legend (from very very far away at least).

Mr. Dio is an aspiration to hold oneself to. For his music, his method, his genuine nature, and his incredible talent, I am continually saddened by the thought that he is no longer with us. However, the fact that this post is but a small (and likely rarely read) contribution to this man is proof enough that he will not go forgotten. Long live the spirit of Ronnie James Dio, the spirit of rock incarnate. Full horns, Mr. D. Full fucking horns.
Rawk

Tweaking away (this is not about doing crystal meth)
March 16th, 2010

No, it’s about tweaking with this website thing (I just typed “twearking” and thought it was apt). I’m obviously dealing w. a dead template, but my posse says that doesn’t have to stop me. I got my brother to edit some of my php – I had it almost right, but missed a few pieces of code. I was additionally confused when reading the help guide and told to modify the “functions.php” file, which I couldn’t find. My brother realized he needed to create one, which I assume is not especially difficult – but don’t mean to undermine what he did. Once bro had that under control, I could start using widgets in my sidebars.

I then asked if he could get rid of one of those dumb-ass columns, cuz 3 is way better then 4 as far as numbers go. So he went in turned the original calendar code into an html comment, so (I think this what happened, right?) the css code ignored everything between the wickets. Next, he shrunk down the size of the right sidebars in the styles.css. All of this stuff makes total sense AFTER the fact, but I never would’ve know where to start.

So what’s next? Customizing the sidebars of course! I believe there will probably be even more tweaking going on there, as the defaults NEVER work for me, hah. In addition, certain html doesn’t seem to be recognized immediately by my janky theme (See issue w. the ul/ul and li/li wickets from previous entries), so that should be fixed. Also, I need to look into expanding my middle column (the header one) and start to tweak that. Playing around with pages is coming up – and then there’s the big item:

How to organize this all in a way that makes sense? Personally, I want to fuck w. all my permalinks and standardize them, then try to keep them in ftp as much as possible so if I ever switch hosting (or what-the-hell ever) I can make the switch easier. But what’s best long term? Will I eventually want to do a re-install of wordpress, losing the link? So many questions still remain. But, things are becoming clearer (after they get a little fuzzier at least!)

Stay tuned for the next drama….it’s almost like a soap opera except less corny (and little-to-no making out *sadface*).

  • Tha OBAR!




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