Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The dream continues part 2...

I’ve had the sports car for a little over a month and although I hate to say it some hiccups have occurred.

I do love it, it’s a fun ride just was hoping it didn’t seem like things were as constant… after the other…I am not doing it much service here.
A few weeks ago, about a day after the used car warranty expired the airbag light went off. Nothing too alarming but nobody likes dashboard lights.  Nobody.  After some research online and realizing it could be a few things I realized it needed to get “looked at”.  I could drive it though.

I had some time off work and was going to have my son’s car looked at as well (just oil change etc.) so I stopped in and asked if they can look at/work on BMWs.  They could so that makes it easier as I am familiar and happy with this business.  I was going to bring it in “next week”.
That weekend I was out for a short drive to meet a friend.  About 3-4 miles from home I started to hear this front-end squeal/squeak.  When the top is down you really hear a lot.  I rounded the bend and said, “this can’t be me, can it?”  Yep.  Definitely front drivers side wheel noise.

I arrived at my destination and got out of the car.  Looked at the tire/rim and nothing really.  For some reason I decided to touch the wheel (shake etc.??) and the rim was WHITE hot.  You could cook an egg on it, it was so hot.  Now, one doesn’t typically touch rims (I don’t think) after a drive so I touched the other 3, and they were “warm”, but this was noticeably HOT.  So a quick google search lead me to believe a caliper is/was probably the issue.

Hung out for a bit to allow the rim to “cool” and after talking to a buddy he suggested using the gears more than the brakes on the ride home to see if that made a difference.  I did and it did.  Safe back in the garage the rim was hot for sure but nothing like it was before with the heavier breaking.
Mid-week of my week off (the car hadn’t been driven) I brought it to my local shop.  Towards the end of the day I got the phone call of what was going on.  Sure, enough it was a caliper and they’d have to order the part.  The airbag light was a bit more troubling…it was the passenger presence airbag sensor.  They’d be unable to work on that due to it needed to be “reset” if/when a repair was made.
I need to take my 1998 to a dealership.   * sigh *

So the caliper was delayed in coming in and I finally got the car back the end of the day Friday.  I drove it home with no issues.  After a little bit I decided I wanted to take it for a run.  It was dusk, time to just go out for a cruise.  About 3-4 miles into the drive I notice a squeak again when breaking.  Its more when I was slowing to a stop sign (under 25 mph, where the last noise was there even when not on the brakes).  Nothing crazy, but my brakes were squeaking.
I had to wait until Monday to reach out to the mechanic and that call is always odd. “Hey, remember all that hard work..yeah something is not right”.  I was asked when could I bring it in?  “Tonight, and I’ll leave it for tomorrow”.  So, I dropped the car off.
End of the next day I get a call “It has to be a bad caliper; I’ve taken it apart etc. and its still not working…so I’ve ordered another one”.
So that is where I stand as of this post.

Anyone that is reading I am doing this more of a chronicle of my experience.  I am not super handy but thinking that might need to change!  Hopefully its good to go for a run soon!

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Dream continues

It has been a few weeks since I picked up the Z3.  I’ve been driving it some, not a ton but that is sort of the plan.  I am just about ready to get gas in the car for only the 2nd time and I personally have only put about 300 miles on it since I purchased it. (I set the odometer to play around).

Thankfully there have been no issues.  I had to get it back to the dealer for about 5 days total.  One of the hold outs on the car was having them replace two seatbelt brackets.  Part came in, seats came out (much more work than I expected) and they had a human error moment and needed to order a part for the seat.  Of course, it happened on Friday, part didn’t arrive until early Tuesday, but I had the car back Tuesday when I got home from work.  Good as new.

Struggling with what to do with the radio.  As a music fan I really want music while I drive.  The stereo is still the stock stereo with AM/FM and cassette.  The trunk has a 6 CD changer that I’ve had issues with.  It just won’t read CDs.  I know people think “Who cares” but it’s part of the car, I have CDs and I’d like it to work.  Trying to decide how hard I want to have it looked at?  The tape deck works fine, and AM/FM does the job. 

For Father’s Day I got a blue tooth FM adapter and played some with streams off an iPod nano (yeah, I know) and my phone I need to play with some, but I am pretty sure I am good to go. 

The volume knob on the stereo seems to like to turn only on occasion.  For example, when I “turn it up” I might have to spin it 5-6 times for it to go up 1 level.  Other times 1 turn has it go 1 level.

It is a 22-year-old car. I need to relax.

Last part on the radio I am wrestling still with updating the radio, but struggle with the integrity. Keeping it original.  When I say to folks “Would you put a GPS/Screen/Blu Tooth stereo in a 57 Chevy everyone quickly says “NO!”.  So, I sort of feel the same.

Otherwise the car has been a blast.  It been a little hot already in June and its hard sometimes to forget that you can get sunburnt (and I refuse to put the top up and use the AC!).

Fallen down the wormhole of YouTube videos and detailing of the cars.  Again, so hot and water bans in effect make me feel guilty but much of the work comes in the buffing etc.  I don’t have a shady spot to work in either but sort of want to just crank up the music and give it a bath.
Finally, as far as the run/drive etc.  I am not a “car guy” in that classic sense.  Its small and fun to drive.  I have always been “meh” on driving even saying if I didn’t HAVE to, I am not sure I’d want to.  This is changing that for me.  Its not the most comfortable car and I wouldn’t want to drive across he country in it..but runs for bread and milk are a whole lot more fun.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Some good news. - A dream come true perhaps?!

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a BMW Z3.  I am not even sure where it came from.  I’ve always liked the look of them.  They are small, pretty impractical for day to day driving and especially in New England, not a car that I’d want to drive in the snow.

Still, they’ve always turned my head.  When asked around my Birthday and Christmas the #1 item on my wish list has been “BMW Z3”.  Sort of a joke as we are not the type of family/couple that would ever “gift” such things.

This year I have a milestone birthday and about a year ago I said to myself that the time was now.  I have friends that are buying boats, sports cars etc.  I thought “why not me”?  So I dug in my heels and started saving up money.  I told myself that I wanted to be able to drive the Z3 to work on said birthday.  I work hard, if I do this right it will be of little impact to my family and it will be “my money”.

As I started to really hunt I went back and forth.  “Do I really need this?”  “Do I really want this”? Where will I park/garage/get repaired etc.  All followed up with Yes, yes and we will figure that part out later.

A buddy of mine got a newer model Miata and came down to show it off.  It was the start of COVID and home shelter etc.  It was cold, but the top came down and we went for a ride, after a stop he tossed me the keys.

What a ride.  Wow.

Now, it’s a newer car (more $$ than I have/had in mind) and as nice as the car was it wasn’t really something I had lusted after for years.

So the hunt continued.

I found one in my price range recently and finally got up the guts to call and see about it.  A dealer about 30 minutes from me had one.  Part of me wanted to go thru a dealer for payment options and maybe holding them responsible for repairs at the outset.

I arrived at the dealership on a Saturday morning.  The car was “on the show room floor”.  I walked in and was greeted in seeing a silver (black interior) 1998 BMW Z3 i9.  I paced.

I looked at the front, the back the sides.

I paced

A few questions…until finally I said “Can I sit in it?”  With the COVID and business a test drive seemed to be out of the question.  I was not planning to buy if I could not drive, but I had driven 30 minutes and by god I was going to sit in it at least.

“Sure” the salesman told me. 

I cracked open the door and lowered my 6+ foot frame into the cabin.

I am finally sitting in one!

I acted like I knew what I was looking for, but overall for the age of the car it was clean.  No stains, tears etc.

I got out, paced some more and tried to make small talk.  I wanted to try this thing out!!

“Do you want to take it for a drive?”

“Dear god yes…as long as that is cool?”

The car was pulled out of the showroom and plates slapped on it.  The sun was out, top was down and it was running.

“Take a left out of here, head down about 2 miles or so and there is a church, turn around there”.

I put it in gear (manual..hello old friend) and did the slow roll out of the parking lot to a traffic light.  There I sat for what seemed like ages. Finally green and off I went.

It was a blast.  It is not the fanciest car, it’s not the fastest, sleekest etc. but I was driving a car I had been thinking about for 20 or so years.

The ride was quick (timewise) but I got that part out of my system.  It felt “right” it felt like “it is time”.

I pulled back in, parked it and got out and...


The salesman came out and could tell from my smile I was pretty smitten (I’m bad at poker too).
After some chatting I told him I was 99% sure this was the one.  I just wanted to go home, crunch some numbers to be 100% sure.

Was told to let them know Monday “lunch time” the plan……
Just so happened that I had Monday off (first day off during work week in 14+ weeks).
Once again I arrived and did some pacing. The car was outside now.  Facing a busy road…calling out to people “come and get me”.  So I paced. The pacing wasn’t as bad now since I was outside.  I was given the keys and I looked at a few more things.  The web, forums and YouTube can be a blessing and a curse.

It was at this time I found the car had a cd changer in the trunk (hey it’s a 1998 and the stereo has a tape deck).  I poked around the glove box (owner’s manual in there ..good) I looked for leaks, pressed some other random buttons.  Tried the A/C, noticed the cup holders are small.  One tech issue I noticed (another thing I can thank the web for getting me to check).  The good news is this issue is fairly common and thankfully repairable (something I’d be sure to make them handle if I were to move forward).

So, after not a ton of haggling I signed papers on a 1998 BMW Z3.

I did it.

Much more to come….hopefully all good stuff!

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Friday, March 13, 2020

Hockey and some randomness.

Since it seems like we are all experts on what is going on I figured I’d add my two cents or add to the mix, or just keep busy.

The NHL season went on hold on March 11th.  Although nothing has been made official I will just use the NBAs mention of “at minimum shut down of 30 days”.  Using that bit of information lets give this a go with the team I follow the most, The Boston Bruins.

At the time of the stoppage the Bruins were in first place in their division as well as the whole league. They have played 70 games and are/were 44-14-12 for 100 Points.  6 points ahead of St. Louis Blues as well and 8 points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning who are in the same Division (and conference for that matter).

It has been a fun and solid season.  David Pasternak is 2 goals shy of 50.  We are so very close!
I saw a tweet/or meme or something yesterday about how the rules state that the team that was in first during any stoppage or season type ending situation would be Stanley Cup Champions.  So, that is a plus for us right??

I’d love to see Pasta hit 50 and I’d love to see them win the cup, but got to be real….

Using the 30 days as a window that would put the season as being wrapped up on Friday April 10th.  Almost a full week after when the Bruins regular season was slated to end (at home) on April 8th.  We are losing out on 12 games total potentially.  6 at home and 6 on the road, 3 of which were part of their West Coast swing (LA/SJ and ANA).

Perhaps you let the teams “already in” just “be in” and any bubble team play a 1 game play for the bottom seed…or..and I need to look at the math just eliminate the bubble teams and go with the teams “in it”.

Guess I am typing stuff to keep busy…       

Another bummer to all this…the Providence Bruins are ripping off 11 straight wins!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Clem Snide Returns!

This has been a long time coming!!  Excited to share this news!

Clem Snide will release their new album Forever Just Beyond on March 27 via
Ramseur Records/Thirty Tigers. Produced by Scott Avett, Eef Barzelay’s stunning new album under the Clem Snide moniker

Check out the first single "Roger Ebert" where Avett joins on the harmonies!.
Today they share the first single "Roger Ebert." Joined by Avett on harmonies, Barzelay spins the famed film critic’s final words into a gorgeous meditation on the mysteries of life and death on the track, which, like much of the album, seeks comfort in the acceptance of the inevitable. Pre-save the album and get the first single "Roger Ebert" here:
Listen to "Roger Ebert" via Youtube:
In support of the new album, Clem Snide will tour this Spring with shows in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and more. See full list of tour dates below.
Forever Just Beyond tracklist:
1. Roger Ebert
2. Don’t Bring No Ladder 
3. Forever Just Beyond
4. The Stuff Of Us
5. Sorry Charlie
6. Easy
7. Emily
8. The True Shape Of Your Heart 
9. The Ballad of Eef Barzelay
10. Denial
11. Some Ghost
Clem Snide Tour Dates:
Feb 7 - Salt Lake City, UT - Solo house show
Feb 12 - San Francisco, CA - Solo house show
Feb 15 - Seattle, WA - Solo house show
Feb 28 - Fairfield, CT - Solo house show
Mar 1 - Elizaville, NY - Solo house show

Mar 26 - Atlanta, GA – Eddie’s Attic
Mar 28 - Wake Forest, NC - Wake Forest Listening Room
Apr 1 - New York, NY – City Vineyard
Apr 3 - Northampton, MA – Parlor Room
Apr 4 - Boston, MA - Haymarket Lounge at CW

Friday, November 29, 2019

Caspian - Cabot Theater November 16, 2019

w/Lonsander Chamber Orchestra
The Cabot Theater, Beverly MA
Saturday, November 16, 2019
3pm and 8pm performances

It has been over a week and although I am not sure I can fully digest what I’ve seen I’d like to go ahead and at least put something out there in cyberspace about the Caspian show(s) from the Cabot Theater.

Quick back story.  Caspian, a post rock outfit hailing from Beverly Massachusetts announce a show that would have the Losander Chamber Orchestra performing with them (strings and brass).  The show nearly sells out during pre-sale so the band announces an afternoon show as well.  Through a tight friend/fan base I end up with front row center floor for the afternoon and front row balcony for the evening show.  Nothing like perspective.

Afternoon show:  Arriving at the Cabot was simple and easy.  Parking was fine and the walk to the venue brief.  I was told at the door to have my ticket out and was quickly whisked in.  Merch stand was to my right with a few t-shirts and the coveted “event” poster.  Limited to just about 60 copies per show I had to grab one for me and two additional for long time fans (one going later that didn’t want to be shut out, and another that had a family commitment that could not trump a Caspian show).  I packed a poster tube with me, rolled the posters and made our way to our seats.  Yep, front row center.  No security, no barriers just me, four feet of floor, and the stage.

Jumping ahead here was my view in Set II from said seats:

The orchestra took the stage to set up and tune and before you know it the rest of the band arrived.  The layout was similar for both shows, but for review sake.  Jonny Asburn (guitars) was to my left, Calvin Joss behind Ashurn on a riser with his guitars, mandolin, keyboards etc, then Jani Zubkovs on bass.  Center stage towards the back was new drummer Justin and in front of him was Phil Jamieson.  Continuing to the right it was two rows of the orchestra and then Erin Burke-Moran on the right front. All were seated for set 1 excluding Zubkovs who stood for the duration of the set. 

The first two songs played were new songs.  Nagoya and Ishmael.  Both had their moments and it begged the question(s) of “Was this sit down, with strings the original intent, or will these songs be totally different on an album or in a different live setting?”  Regardless both were great and felt like Caspian tracks if that is fair to say.

“Hymn For the Greatest Generation” found Jamieson speaking to the audience for the first time.  Thanking the audience for coming and sharing such a unique event.  This was a perfect song for the setting and mood.  It is a hard song for the band to perform due to the layers to begin with, but I’ve been lucky to see and hear it live a few times now.  The band dug in to earlier catalog next with “The Dove” and then “ASA”.  “ASA” always is a winner with me personally and when I listened and got lost in the moment I was actually excited that so many people were hearing it with me. Zubkovs has some wonderful bass fills on this track and I always catch myself signing those parts (at the very least in my mind).  The set continued with “Aeternum Vale” a terrific spin on “Dust and Disquiet” and the first set concluded with another new song “Division Blues”.

About 60 minutes in the band took their first (planned) break.  The idea was the first set was a “sit down” affair and then come set two they’d be doing their “Caspian thing” and we’d probably “stand”.

Intermission was brief enough for a quick restroom break, a few hugs and hi-fives but right back to my seat as the band opened with a new song “Wildblood”.  We got a 1 2 punch with another new song “Flowers of Light”.  The cool part about “Flowers” is that the band released it online just a few days before, as well as news about the album release.  Therefore, myself and a few folks around me could really get in to it as we had some exposure to it.  Mind you all the new songs are good, but of course familiarity helps.  It’s a KILLER tune live like I had expected and Joss’ with the mandolin intro really sets the tone.  The band was really hitting their stride and Burke-Moran (who I later found out largely wrote the scores for the orchestra) would get up and “Conduct” at times.  It then happened, something I didn’t think I’d hear I got “High Lonesome” in to “Hickory ‘54”  The later tune had not been played live in close to seven years! It was a rare one, my “Caspian white whale” up to this point.  I got it, they delivered and I clapped.  It was EXCELLENT!  “Riosco” followed and that is a gear shift song for the band.  Allows them to come up for air and boy they were going to need it we’d all find out.  “Gone in Bloom and Bough” was next and I’ve always been down the middle on this tune.  I like it, there was a time I couldn’t escape it live but was always sort of “ehh” on the first part, but it made up for my silly way of thinking in the second part.  Well, on this day that “second part” really took it to a new level.  Saxophonist John Aruda laid down this CRAZY good sax solo.  There are a few things in these last few sentences that I’d never thought I’d mention in a Caspian review but I assure you it was spectacular. (the second show was recorded by AudioTree Live and there is hopefully something that will come out of it…and I’ll call it now this clip will lead the charge with most watched).  How they could top that I was not sure, but it happened when they closed it all out with “Arcs of Command”.  I’ve always loved this tune and noticed that night its something I feel I hadn’t seem them do live that much, but maybe I am wrong?  It is an absolute banger of a song that keeps going and going and going.  By this point Caspian was well in to their usual whipping guitars around and just being so overtaken with the music.  When they hit that huge note (you know it) Arcs of Command  (6:23) I thought I was going to pass out due to blood loss to my face from smiling so hard.  Just an absolutely perfect set closer and terrific way to wrap up the matinee. 

The lone bummer was the band teased us, way too long before doing their curtain call.  Thought we had another song…but alas we did not.

We got to do it all over again!

The first show ended a bit after 5pm, so as promised we had about 1hr of the “sit down” then 1hr of the “standup” sets.  It was perfect length and of course I could sit here and wish for song XXX instead of XXX but it is nearly impossible to find a flaw in the first set so I was pleased.

Headed back to my car to drop some stuff off and then met with some other friends for dinner.  At this point my phone started to get active.  One of my favorite things about this band is how I have met, and share the love of this band with so many. To have had so many “where are you” texts to “lets meet for a beer/food” messages made the day even more special.  It was hard to connect with many, and everyone knew that I was doing both shows so they were pretty cool with “grab dinner where you are we will connect later” type messages.  Club shows are always fun with this crew as we can laugh, hi-five and carry on like the hard core fans we are.

Back in to the venue about 730. This show was a sell out and I had to get upstairs to my seat for this one.  So for set 2 I had a totally different view and sonic experience.  Front row at the stage sure is cool but knowing what I was about to see I was happy to be able to see it all again from another angle.

Here is my view before they took the stage:

The set list for the second show was identical.  The band had cleaned up some things on their end with some sound (I never noticed issues) and the evening show did sound better and seemed to flow a little better too.

The first of major differences though was the solo by Aruda during “Gone in Bloom and Bough”.  This put the first show to shame.  Aruda seemed to be given free reign and he took full advantage.  At times the smiles on Ashburn, Jamieson and Burke-Moran said it all.  It was really really something and I assure you if this performance sees the light of day to the masses it will be a game changer.
So the band wraps up and I think…that’s it…but no.  They return to the stage and Jamieson once again thanks us for attending and speaks about how special this day had been.  It would take a long time to put it all together and here I even sit at over 1500 words talking about it myself.  Jamieson then noted they had one more song and although the orchestra was not part of it he wanted them to share the stage and the band began “Castles High Marble Bright” which to me, is the very very best of Caspian.  I adore this song.  This is the song I tell new fans to check out.  This is the song to close their shows in my opinion.  No other piece of music in recent memory evokes so much emotion from me personally.  From the quiet simple beginning to the absolute wall of sound it ends with.  I sat in my front row balcony seat and watched..but come the end I had to stand and just erupt with the band.  I do not care.  Apologies to those that wanted to remain seated but this tune just does that to me.  I had a similar moment when the band performed this opening for Minus the Bear at the Paradise.  I spun to the couple behind me and said “I apologize for the next 8 or so minutes”.  They didn’t move and at the end when I spun back saying “thanks for being cool” they simply both said, almost in harmony “No…I get it”.

That was it.  A perfect evening came to a close.  The band was really cool about having some post show options for people to get together and mingle but after nearly my 8th hour and a good one hour + ride home it was time to call it a night.

The band hit a home run on these shows.  They pushed themselves to a new level, they challenged long time fans to come along for the ride and I am pretty sure the bandwagon is getting to capacity.

Set list
Set 1: Nagoya*, Ishmael* Hymn for the Greatest Generation, The Dove, ASA, Aeternum Vale, Dust and Diquiet, Division Blues
Set 2: Wildblood*, Flowers of Light*, High Lonesome, Hickory ’54, Rioseco, Gone in Bloom and Bough#, Arcs of Command
Encore (evening show only) – Castles High Marble Bright

* - new songs
# extended saxophone solo by John Aruda
all songs both sets excluding Castles had orchestra accompaniment.

Caspian release their new album “For Circles” on January 22, 2020.  You can do that pre-order stuff here.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Love me some good news.

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  Interesting how many posts around here seem to start off that way.

Life has got in the way and Facebook as an example is a quick burst of getting a thought out to people, but it is nice to sometimes elaborate via a blog post.

I’ve been involved with a project at work for the last few months.  Like most things it has its ups and downs and now that it is live it has had its ups and downs as expected.  On top of all that I was tasked with another project for the same team.

Earlier this week I spent over 5hrs on a conference call, doing 98% of the speaking.  I don’t mind really.  It’s not that I love the sound of my voice, it’s just where I feel I can lock in to a groove and “go”.

Later in the week I had a conference call (not lead by me this time) and before it got started one of the upper managers from the previous project called me out.  “Thank you for all your time this week, it was very good and very informative”.  Always nice to hear and even a slight bit embarrassing so I followed up with “Thank you, I am glad I was able to help” to which was followed by them “I am not just saying that, you were great you should be proud of the job you did”.

That will stop you.

To break the ice I said “Is (my boss) on the line?”  Did (my boss) hear that?  It was met with laughter and a little more pleasantries which was really great.

As a trainer I do try to encourage people, especially the newer hires.  A quick “I am hearing good things about the job you are doing” can be a huge weight to lift for them.

It’s easy to go to the break room and slag off someone, but man I gotta tell you compliments feel way better to give.