Search Blog and Link Sites

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The office IT department dates dead goats!

Well, our holier-than-thou IT department at my day gig haw cut off access to ALL Blogger blogs, period.  Most Wordpress blogs are gone and I suspect by tomorrow all blog access will be cut off.

This isn't a huge deal for me, and it doesn't matter too much because I'm already looking for a contract elsewhere, but.. so much for hitting my various tech and engineering blogs, and certainly so much for updating in the middle of the day!

Not like I can't come home and blog merrily about how our IT department kisses dead, pustulent, necrotic goats.. but I suppose they don't want to have to read about it!

Anyway, the job hunt begins.  I do wish people would read my resume' and stop assuming that because I mention C# that I've done it for years when I clearly state I've only been at it for six months!Or see the ONE job, eight years ago where I used Java and send me Java senior developer "urgent need" emails. It wastes my time.

Writing proceeds apace.  I've almost caught up reading "Dead Ringer" and I recall where I was heading, and I found my plot notes!  Hoo-freaking-ray!  Real hardcore scrivening to proceed soon.

Texas Book Festival this weekend, and unless it's pouring rain I'm going.  Might not hit any of the sessions as that's a lot of walking on a healing foot, but the authors tents and live music will definitely get visits.

Music front: I spent about an hour just sitting with my Strat, a drum track, and the RP355 and came out grinning.  I'm going to go minimal for now, just get a drum machine I can program and run that into the aux in on th RP, then record LiVE as I play straight to stereo tracks.  If I mess up I go back and play it again!  So hopefully soon you'll hear some bass/drum and guitar/drum tracks.

Cramming on Android and HTML5, maybe I can crank out a decent game and get rich!  Or famous! Or make pizza money!  If nothing else it'll make for a fun website and nice portfolio pieces.  I just need to get a lloonnnggg USB cable to go from my Android tablet to the charger.. and get a Nexus tablet.  That will come out of next weeks paycheck.

Health: tired today from physical therapy and wound care.  It looks like I'm going to need a cane for YEARS, my body refuses to figure out it has toes missing and keeps trying to put weight where there isn't anything to hold it  yikes!  Th wound itself is healing well, though - the nurse is pleased, and I got compliments on how well I treat the wound.  Well, I want to stop going to PT as soon as possible dang it!

Ok, back to reading, writing, chasing down a good/affordable drum machine, looking at 25 key controller keyboards for doing cinematic/soundscape stuff to sell on Amazon, and.. meh.. laundry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chugging Along Happily!

Ah, a night filled with odd but meaningless dreams.  I'm OK with that.

Spent some time last night extricating myself from DJ duties and now I'm re-reading "Dead Ringer" to figure out where I was taking it.  I've started planning out studio work, and am s l o w l y sneaking my way back into game development on both Android and HTML5/WebGL.  I figure.. can't hurt to dabble in my old favorite field of development!

Given the massive amount of music I've grabbed I'm going to set up "mood" playlists for myself.. this is something I've heard that the author Holly Lisle does and it seems like a good idea.  This will work to provide a nice soundtrack to both writing AND programming!

I finally ordered a camera tripod from Amazon so I can get some pics of me with my guitars for my Website and my authors websites.  Urgh, well, it's overdue!  Also grabbed a book on HTML5 game development to compliment my book on the HTML5 Canvas.  If the whole embedded systems thing dies, I'll go into application development and game development!

I need a MIDI controller to run my soft synths.  Right now, I've deleted everything except Alchemy, which should be fine as it covers every soundtrack/ambient base I could imagine.  There are some settings on the RP355 perfect for ambient guitar pieces, which gives me another approach to take to my music if I don't want to blast out metal.  Bass will work well there, too - Patruck O'Hearn, anyone?

Back to cramming cod e into 1K of space on this lame MCU.  What a headache!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My, but I am slow and stupid!

There's a very good reason i say that.

Let's say you know this person, call him Q.  He's a pretty nice fellow, appears talented, but for some reason he seems to have lost his focus, and he even seems to be aware of it but uncaring.

This person quits something they've done since they were a teenager (and they're over 50 now), drops a very promising project they've spent a lot of time on for no obvious reason, and then stops going out and spends 90% of their time online, and then get involved in something that will remove the last bit of time they had for an offline life.

You'd wonder what in hell happened to this person.  You might even wonder if they should seek some outside help.  I know I would..

..and Q is me.

Yes, I stopped work on "Dead Ringer", in fact, all my writing has ground to a halt.  And sure, I bought a guitar and bass, but.. there they sit, maybe getting played once a week for a short while.  None of my projects have made any headway for a long time.

Oh and THEN I get involved with the DJ thing.  I already spent literally hours (and I mean I average 3 hours plus a NIGHT) in chat, and now I'm going to add an activity that will tack another 4-6 hours on top of that?

WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?

I've been having really weird dreams about writing and music and let me tell you they were NOT fun happy dreams.   The last 3 nights I've woken up shaking, stared at the ceiling wondering "wtf?" and thinking that going back to sleep was a bad idea. This had made me crankier and crankier until finally today I had to sit myself down and try to figure out what was happening, before I blew a gasket.

It all really comes down to letting myself get distracted from what I'm doing to wander aimlessly down garden paths leading nowhere that don't even provide a learning experience.  Maybe I'm afraid I'll fail, maybe I'm afraid I'll succeed.. I'm not sure.

But one thing I know is, the way I'm going now is not the way I want to BE going.

It's going to take time to recover from the long wander off the trail but I can do it!  Now off to write and play some music!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Busy Weekend

Well, much accomplished around the place so far.  New monitor installed and WOW! What a difference!  From 19 to 23 inches is a BIG leap, I'm running in 1900x1200 and there's more screen real estate than I've ever had - plenty of too for windows, IDE, browser  IM, the works.  Between this and the new mouse and keyboard it's like a new computer.

Much other work done - all my MP3s are renamed ad tagged for the DJ software, so I'm ready for the next step.  Hooray!  Now if I can stop buying more music.. heh.

The RP355 is wired into the laptop so I can record myself now.  I also rearranged everything (almost literally) in my room to optimize for DJing and music, so things are a lot easier to use.

I still need a second real system, but my Dell ultralight is plugged in again and I have my Android tablet hooked up and next to me on the computer station so I'm in decent shape no matter what happens (short of zombies, anyway).

Next up is focusing on getting the recording studio completed.  I need to experiment with Acid Pro and the RP355, to see if I can track in guitar over Acid-driven VSTi and loops.  If so, great! If not, it's standalne multitrack time.  Either way will work well.  All music will be brought into this machine for mastering, regardless.

Need.. more.. coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Friday, October 19, 2012

New computer.. urgh!

Well, Payday has come and I have just enough investment capital to get a mid-range Core i3 system.  Or a new guitar, or a new bass, or a multitrack recorder (lol)!

I need a new machine to handle software development tasks.  Since I'm going back into writing games (specifically for Android) I also need a machine capable of rendering out art assets in a reasonable amount of time without catching fire, which (alas) lets any laptop I can afford out.

So, in the interest of not buying a system that won't do everything I need, I'm going to buy a pile of parts from Newegg over the next few months and build a game development machine.  It'll be a high-end quad-core that will take up to 64GB of RAM, have a nigh-end Radeon video card, and a terabyte of internal HD. I have a DVD burner and a USB wireless card already, so I just need the primary components.  It'll sit on Port 2 of my KVM switch and should Do The Job(tm) short of me deciding to take on Pixar or Dreamworks (as if).  Total cost should b e around $850, which isn't bad for a screaming 2D/3D/software dev machine.

In the meantime, I'll install all my Android development tools on the i5 system and start learning there.  I can move up the acquisition of a Nexus tablet as well!

The 23in. Asus monitor is out for delivery and should be waiting for me when I get home!  I'll install that tonight, then over the weekend rearrange things so that the RP355 is wired into the i5 for audio recording, and the computer desk is optimized for long sitting sessions.

I'll still eventually need a multitrack, I suspect, for real-time audio recording.  But I need to experiment more with Acid Pro 7 and the RP before I make any investments.

Blech, back to work.  My foot feels wonky and I didn't sleep well, so I hope I don't end up writing more bugs than I fix today!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Got me in stitches!

But not fr long, their taking them out (the stitches) today so I can get on with healing.  About bloody time!

Yes, today is wound care/physical therapy day, oww.  A day to get lectured by the nurse about not walking, taking care of myself, keep the blood sugar down, all the things I've been doing for five weeks dang it!  Sheesh, I'm not some moron or rube.

That said, my Logitech illuminated keyboard and Razor Abyssos mouse arrived!  The keyboard is taking some getting used to, but the illumination is nice as I can turn lights off around the computer now and kill some of the glare.  The mouse.. well.. it's a Razor, what else is there to say?  Kicks butt, and has 3 glowing snakes on it.  There's no way t beat that!

And, according to UPS, my 23in monitor will arrive tomorrow so I can mothball this 19in one for now.  IT will *just* fit on the desk, it's going to be a near thing but I should still have room for a cup of something to drink (coffee, diet soda, water).

Last up on computer purchases will be a nice Core i3 system this weekend for software development.  It'll also act as my backup system so I won't worry about Scylla being a single point of failure. That should take care of all major purchases, a Nexus tablet will be next month.

Hey Md. DJ!  The job is never done, I'm hitting Amazon pretty regularly to get new music to add to my playlist - oldies and new stuff.  Mostly rock (my preference) and some older mellow tunes as well (for relaxing breaks lol).  Eventually I'll head downtown and hit Antones Records to sort through the lesser-known bands in search of Hot New Tunes(tm)  but that has to wait until my foot recovers from having the stitches ripped out.

Sigh.. back to drinking coffee and getting ready.  It's going to be going straight into work after the hospital visit,which I do NOT look forward to, but I need the money for rent, music, savings, computer gear, and oh yeah food and transportation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is getting out of hand!

Ah, my first post-operation visit with the osteopath that did the amputation!  A long wait in the reception room, with a long wait in the examination room, with 10 minutes with the doc ending with "Here's an order to remove the stitches, see you in six weeks, gotta run".  This after he dug around in the wound with a scalpel and tweezers.

I can promise that the next person that digs around in my wound with a sharp object will die in as horrible a fashion as I can imagine, as slowly as I can make it happen.  When I'm not being stabbed on things heal and feel JUST DAMN FINE.

And sol this means another six weeks of stupid wound care and physical therapy.  I can see NO reason at this point for a weekly visit, the wound is healing fine according to everyone and I'm walking as well as can be expected, so.. why?  The wound nurse tells me I do a good job keeping it clean and dressed, so why do I need to come in so often? This really bugs the neck out of me!!

Feh.

In other news: I think I'm coming to the end of my current contract, not because they want to get rid of me (yet) but because I'm running out of patience with my assignments.  For an embedded systems person I'm doing a crapload of UI and Windows 7 application development!  If I'm going to do UI/app work I want more money!  So, my target is to spend the next 2-1/2 months between now and the end of the year bringing things here to a nice closing point and banking about six months worth of expense money for the job search.

To support this, I'm going to stop buying big-ticket items once I replace my second laptop (which I've donated).  No second guitar or second bass, no multitrack, nothing until I get a fat stash in the bank.  I'll still spend money on music to DJ with, and Tribal.fm donations, but everything else goes into savings from November onward.

As to the replacement laptop, I'm just going to get a nice i3 box to handle software development work and to act as a backup in case the main system has issues (heaven forbid).  $500 should do the job, which means I should be able to pick it up this weekend.

For recording, the RP355 does stream audio into the PC via USB, so I can do basic tracing with Acid Pro and work from there.  No real need for anything else at this point, after some playing around over the weekend I've decided I'm happy with the pickups in the Strat and the bass and I'm going to leave what works the hell alone!

Oww.. nothing worse than when the painkillers wear off.  It's not a huge deal though, the pain is "annoying but not terrible" level so I can deal with it with aspirin.

Back t testing my own code (heh) and working on my exit plan!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pestiferous!

Despite it being Friday, and having some music money in my budget, I feel stressed!  I suppose it's all pretty obvious as to why, at least to me.

There are too many things I CAN do that I CAN'T force myself to do consistently.  Writing is a prime example.  When the fit hits, I can crank out the words as easily and naturally as breathing.. but when the Muse has abandoned me, it's dead.  Nothing comes out and trying to force it is hopeless.  At least with music I can practice chords and scales when I'm not feeling inspired, or listen to new tunes to see if I want to grab 'em for my DJing gig.

And I guess therein lies the rub.  There's no way I can force myself to write consistently enough to make a living out of it.  Whereas with music, at least I can sit down and play tunes FOR other people.. sure, I'm not going to get rich {(or make a penny at it) but it's ACTIVITY as opposed to staring at a blank page going "what now?"

So, for now, I'm going back to where I was before I got married (lol) - everything centered around music.  It's not going to pay the bills (that's what software engineering is for) but it'll help keep me sane and even when I feel craptastic, I can do SOMETHING.  And I can keep a variety of different music-based projects active so my mind doesn't fight me on the focus thing (ugh).

Anyway...

I've finished writing a nice piece of C# code that will auto-mass-rename my MP3 files, which will prep me for DJing on Tribal a LOT faster than renaming by hand.  I'm going to make it freely available on my Website once it's out of BETA, so maybe it'll help anyone else that needs their MP3s named in a specific way.  I'm studying up on DJing, and I think I have a decent chance of not blowing my first show (heh).  I'll be spending time this weekend testing the thing on my music collection at home, along with checking out new music to add to my library.

And I just can't get rid of this annoying urge for Churchs spicy fried chicken!  That means grabbing the portable insulated bag and making a Churchs run tomorrow.  I'll get a 10 or 12 piece so I can stop worrying about it  (lol)!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Owww! Or, physical therapy and wound care day.

Well, today is a mixed blessing.

It's Payday and now I have money for music gear and/or 3D stuff.  I have food and medical supply money as well.  And some left in the bank when all is said and done, which is a Warm Fuzzy Feeling(tm).

IT was also physical therapy/wound care day.  I got a nice lecture (rolling of eye) about walking TOO FAST, of all things, because it makes the wound open up when I do it and it'll take longer to heal.  Sigh, fine, I'll try to slow down.  Then wound care - OWW!  The nice lady decided things were looking good and it was time to change treatment modes, so she grabbed a scalpel and forceps and proceeded to clean out the wound, removing dead/useless tissue and snipping lots of bits and bobs off.  And now  have a VERY sore foot - no pain really (for once neuropathy is good) but just throb, throb, oww.  And no more silver iodide paper, now it's some weird powder and healing strips that are supposed to make the gaping rend in my flesh heal over.  Ok, fine.  I got a nice lesson on the new system and I'm set to take care of myself until next Thursday.

I'm desperately trying to NOT buy anything I don't need.  I  was considering a larger monitor, now I'm not so sure.  Definitely need a new keyboard, so I'm ordering one from Newegg.  Recording gear?  Uhhh., I have  laptop I'm not using that might work out fine.  3D? Likely need a machine dedicated to it.. if I get back into it.. 2D looks pretty good.  Urgh.

Plenty to consider OWW!  Dang foot twinges on occasion, probably angry at me for letting the doc dig around with a piece of sharp metal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hey Mr. DJ..

Well, I've been accepted to try out as a n online DJ for Tribal.fm!  This means a fair number of things happen, changing my time landscape a bit.

The main loser is my 2D/3D/sculpting time.  I need to listen to and find new music, come up with playlists, make custom show intros/breaks, and generally do DJ-like things.  This will take time so the bottom of my "things I'll do" list rolls off.  I'm going to mothball it all for now.

I'm going to subscribe to Billboard as well, to kind of keep up on what's new.  Now, I'm not a pop/rap kind of DJ and while I do have some pop songs that's not my focus - Tribal already has a DJ that keeps up on that end of things so I'll leave it to her.  I already had a monthly music budget, that gets a bit of an increase now.

Not much else going on.  Part of being a DJ is "tagging" all your MP3 files to match what the DJ software wants to see, there's a nice program that does this semi-automatedly but it's a pain for 4300+ files.. so I'm sitting down with C# and coding up a nice, automated system to handle the heavy lifting.  Once it's done I'm going to make it freely available on my Website for anyone else that could use its functionality.  Why do it by hand if I can write an app to do most of it for me?

Blech - chilly and damp today, and people coming to Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival (AC) are already showing up.  It's over this weekend so I'm going to hole up at home and do DJ-ish things, or work on some ambient guitar/bass tracks.  No real decision on how I'm going to handle recording, I do have a spare laptop I could use, but a Zoom R8/R16 would be more reliable as far as realtime audio recording.. urgh.  I need to experiment more.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Just another Morbid Monday

Another day filled with pain, sore muscles, aspirin, heating pads, and Tiger Balm.

The back agony is definitely related to "digestive distress".  When the intestines fire up with cramping etc., my lower back just plain HURTS.  It radiates down both legs and causes the normally not-sore hurt left foot to twinge (oww) and makes it hard to walk.  Eventually things "move along" and I'm mostly pain-free for a while.

I need to figure out what's causing this.  I think I need to find a new primary care physician ASAP.  I do appear to be dehydrated all to Hell and gone, my skin on my arms looks like I'm 200 years old!  MORE WATER, yep, have to drink more water!  And cut back on gassy foods at night, that's no help at all.  Maybe less diet soda, I need to quit that anyway.

Lots of other piddly things going on.  I'm going to be DJing on Tribal FM (http://www.tribl.fm) eventually, I need to re-tag all 4500 songs I have to fir the format the DJ software wants - a LONG project!  I want to do a little every night once I get the format right.  Also played a lot of bass Sunday, very fun jamming with the drum machine on the RP355.  And the RP355 seems to work fine for six-string bass, so I'm happy there.  But now I want an 8-string bass!  Argh!

Still no writing.  It's real hard to write when you're going through waves of pain, it's difficult to concentrate, to say the least.  But I haven't given up!  Now that I have my heating pad and pain-stopping goodies, I should be able to make some progress.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

More Argh! Part Deux

I found myself on Craigslist looking at the "women for men" ads.  This kind of makes me a loser to start with, so I really don't have room to talk, but..

..why do people under 25 post ads?  I've seen some 19 year olds (supposedly) posting.. saying "I'm bored".. wow, jaded and bored at the beginning of life, in a college town, state capital, full of live music venues, bars, restaurants, theaters, parks.. dang.  I'm 53 and I am WAY not bored with Austin!

So I have to wonder.. what drives young people, who should have no trouble getting out to find anyone from a dinner buddy to a hookup for sex, to post on Craigslist?  My reality check just bounces, I can't imagine the circumstances that would produce so MANY of these types of posts.  Sure, 2 or 3 I can understand (non-socialized people looking for someone the best they can) but I'm talking 9-10 a DAY.  Dang!

I do see the expected older demographic, which makes sense to me (mature and not interested in the club/bar/etc. scene) - that's pretty much me.  The huge number of laundry-list posts is worrisome, as n "You MUST be: six feet or taller, have a good paying job, drive a nice car, be athletic, monogamous, willing to take me out at any time" thing - people - folks like that are MARRIED.  Cripes!

I mean, I think I'm too specific with "Must be a musician or in the creative arts" but that's a result of my experience - my longest, happiest relationships have been with super-creative folks.  But other than that, I'm flexible!  Har, I saw one "men for women" ad that looked like the guy opened a Penthouse and typed in the description of the centerfold!  Come on, get a LITTLE real  here!

On other topics: in modest pain lately due to backaches - probably related to "digestive issues".  However, one side-effect of the Amox-Clav is "muscle pain and weakness", you're supposed to stop taking it if you get that, so I'm halting the stuff for a couple of days until I see if I get better from stopping it - then it's a call to the doc.  Meh.  Well, worst case I can ask the physical therapist about the pain on Thursday.

Oh, I LOVE my bass!  I find myself playing it more than  my guitar, which is a surprise to me, but there it is.  I'm not quitting guitar, just shifting focus, I think.  Maybe  bass and keys?  I know this one nice lad that's a real good guitar player, I should lay down some tracks for her to jam out to.  Ah, collaboration!  And dang, I'm looking at eight-string basses.. yowch!  Well, beats strippers (lol)!

Meh, time to pack up for a trip to Walgreens, for pain pills, a heating pad, and some Tiger Balm.  Getting old sucks.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pain HURTS!

I know, that's a real "d'oh" title but up to yesterday things were going pretty well.

Overnight, my legs and lower back have decided to go on a rampage.  From my calves up to my lower hips, I'm getting cramping and pain - yesterday, bad enough to put me into the Vicodin for the whole day.  I ended up sleeping and limping around at home all day, zero productivity, zero useful anything done.  Lots of bitching and moaning, though!

I called the doc and he said it's to be expected - my left foot has lost a chunk of musculature, the offloading shoe (that's what the protective shoe is called) is screwing up my leg even-ness and balance, and my whole lower body is having to re-learn how to adjust where the weight is shifted as I walk.

He also recommended plain aspirin or Tylenol as the Vicodin really isn't helpful for this kind of pain in the long term, so last night I was on extra-strength over-the-counter painkiller, and today I'm on plain old coated aspirin.  It takes the edge off the pain when I walk and sit, but doesn't fuzz my brain up so much.

This is likely to last for some weeks, as well.  Once I'm off the protective shoe and into a custom-made shoe, it should slowly Go Away(tm), but until then it's going to be daily painkillers for me.  Which I hate, I hate taking drugs of any kind and now I'm on the Amo-Cavx, the glyburide/metformin, and some aspirin concoction (depends on how bad the pain is).  I feel like a lab experiment!

It takes 1/2 an hour for the painkiller to take effect.   That can feel like a very, very long time.

Argh, grocery shopping - I'm going to try to get all I need for the weekend today so I can stay off my foot all weekend (well, as much as possible).  I think cold cuts, cheese, beef, broccoli, cheese, hot links, and did I mention cheese?  And more damn aspirin, I guess - don't want to run out in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Physical Therapy, Bass Instincts

I knew I needed mental therapy (lol) but it appears that losing 2 toes qualifies me for physical therapy.

So, yesterday after my wound care nurse finished cleaning up and repacking my sharkbite (I can't help but think of it that way since it looks like one), I got to go up and down stairs, and back and forth down the hall, while being intently watched by several (probably bored) docs.  Up and down, back and forth, with and without shoes, and with and without cane.

Net result: I was told to use my cane on the WELL side, not the side with the amputation, as it helps better balance the weight when I'm walking.  It sounded bogus but based on my research it's a True Thing, so now I use my cane in my right hand.  Weird, but it seems to work!  So yesterday wasn't a total loss.

So, more PT next Thursday, then Oct. 15th. it's off to the osteopath for surgery follow-up.  The stitches seem to be coming loose so they want me to get looked at, but the doc has nothing earlier.  Oh well!  I trust my wound care nurse as much (if not ore) than the doc.

On guitar: I find myself liking bass playing more than guitar.  I DO like guitar, just not *quite* as much as a good jam session with the bass and drum machine.  Maybe I'm channeling Patrick O'Hearn?  He was my bass hero at one time, maybe it stuck with me.  So, I'm looking at 8-string basses now.. sigh.

I'll probably go ahead and swap the pickups in the Strat for Rio Grandes.  A nice BBQ Bucker in the bridge position, a Halfbreed in the mid, and a Tallboy in the neck position.  A good balance for rock and Texas blues.

Still no writing.  I was in real pain last night after PT so I took 2 vicodin, 1/2 an hour later I was out like a light!  This was at around 8:30PM and I slept through until almost 6:00AM for the first time in WEEKS.  I hope this doesn't become a habit, I hate drugging  myself up.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blech, work.

I am getting sick and tired of coding.

Maybe because I'm just plain old sick and tired.  I didn't sleep well over the weekend, this morning came too early, and my hurt foot has a dull ache and NOT where it was operated on.  Feh!

I need to get off my butt and get writing, even if it's just organizing notes and character bios.  There's no way I'm going to be 100% while I'm doped up on antibiotics, but I should be able to make some forward progress.  Right now I just stare at the monitor and feel faintly sick, yecch, which isn't good for productivity.

Hopefully when I get off the antibiotic things will improve a lot.  We'll have to see.  I'm sure a lot of it is not drinking enough water, I tend to grab-and-gulp and that's not good for my system.  Or my digestion!

Managed to jam a little this weekend, the Strat is a joy to play.  the Ibanez six-string bass is hard work BUT the tone is amazing and it's a decent workout for my hands.  I need one more guitar for metal and hard rock, then I should stop.  I need a multitrack recorder, I'm thinking a Zoom R24 with the drum machine.  Cheaper than a laptop!  And 24 tracks will be plenty.. I can keep both guitars and the bass plugged in at the same time.

Blech, stomach is killing me.  Tums time!