Let’s talk coffee

I can’t remember exactly when I began to consider myself a coffee drinker. Sure, I drank it here and again. I was also a sucker for those ice blended drinks that Coffee Bean and Starbucks make. I didn’t need it on a daily basis, though. The caffeine really affected me. I’ll never forget the day I went to Starbucks and the cashier asked me if I wanted a double espresso shot. I said, “Sure, why not?” Soon my heart felt like it would pound right out of my chest. It was kind of scary. I’ve never done that again! I’m going to guess that around 3 years ago that all changed.

It was all around me at work yet I was never really tempted by it. I actually took a little pride in the fact that I didn’t drink it. At one point, though, I remember feeling so damn tired. My mornings were dragging along in a very bad way. Maybe I was just bored at the time, maybe I wasn’t sleeping well. Whatever it was, I had to do something and coffee seemed like a safe enough alternative. I would stop being a healthy rebel and join my fellow coffee drinkers.

Soon I started to have it every morning. I finally understood two things. First, there was a feeling that coffee provided. It wasn’t simply the energy boost I had used it for in the past. This was a happy feeling. A pick me up. I brain booster. I was now writing a significant amount of SQL and coffee made a lot of sense. I had graduated to supreme nerd status writing code with my coffee in hand. That brings me to my second point. The workplace encourages coffee drinking because it makes you more productive. Caffeine is a legal drug as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure someone out there has figured it that it’s much cheaper to provide caffeine for their employees than to let them be sleepy and dim-witted. The Dunkin’ Donuts work provided was tasty enough but soon this became like beer.

I was excited to try finer beans just like I love to discover new, delicious beers. Now let me be clear, nothing reigns supreme over my love for beer but the process was similar. I still have a lot to learn about coffee. So far I have tried some pretty good stuff like Illy, Stumptown, Larchmont Bungalow and  Intelligentsia but this one is my favorite at the moment:

That’s Tierra Mia coffee amongst my coffee kit at work. That’s real raw cane sugar in the jar baby! I don’t usually do creme or milk either. I like it just sweet enough. Anyhow…this is their Oaxaca, Mexico roast. It’s a very earthy flavor, almost chocolatey. Mmmmmm! I’m not versed enough in this stuff to describe it better than that. I discovered this place quite by accident. I was at the library with my niece and it was right next door. I just walked in and took a chance. It was worth it!!!

This reminds me that I’ve been wanting to try one of these contraptions:

Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker

To close, I would just like to say that I actually don’t drink coffee every day anymore. I do enjoy it a couple of times a week but things haven’t been regular at work lately and that’s when I get in to the daily groove. I actually rarely have it on the weekends. Is it merely a coping mechanism for work? Are the weekends inherently easier therefore the caffeine is not needed then? Hmmmmm…

Merry Christmas everybody!!!



Mom’s Lullaby

Sharing the music I create is one of the more legitimate reasons I started this blog. To kick it off I am sharing something I wrote years back for my own momma. One day, I was thinking of all the amazing things my mom has done for me.

To this day, I’m not sure my mom really gets me but that has never seemed to matter to her. She has always given to me selflessly, tirelessly, effortlessly…I wanted her to know that even if I act like a jerk, even if I disappear for a while or even if I simply don’t say much that I love her dearly, I’m doing okay in life and I fear the day I will be forced to live without her.

This one’s for all the mommas. Your own. Your ex’s. Your best friend’s. All of them.



I love you so much
I want you to feel special
even when I’m not around

I’m sorry
When I treat you bad
Pretending that I’m mad
When I’m really rather sad

What you don’t know (things I should have said…)
is that my life
turned out alright
I’m happy, I love you.

don’t worry so much
Yes I’m eating fine
see I even packed a lunch
I’m sorry when I see you cry
Life is always tough
when your daddy drinks too much

What you don’t know (hear my voice instead…)
is that my life
turned out alright
I’m happy, I love you.

I can’t stand to think
that nothing really lasts forever
It woke me from my sleep
It scares me…

Don’t go
my life
can’t know
how to be alone

please know
I’d do it all again…

You’ve done
so much
by now
it’s got to be enough
and still
when I see you smile
there you go again…you give me everything

Goodbye CC.

CC was an outside cat. Feral would be a more accurate description but that always sounded so cold to me. Earlier this week I had to come to terms with the fact that she’s not coming back. I won’t see that sweet little face again.

CC was one of many outside cats I have had the pleasure of caring for over the years. She was very special to me for many reasons. Before she was trapped and spayed with the help of Lifeline for Pets she had at least one litter, possibly two. She outlived all of the other outside cats in the neighborhood, including her own offspring! Life is tough for an outside cat but CC was tough as nails. She is probably the mother to my very own Shadow who lives with me now. I was able to rescue Shadow early but CC and the others could not be handled. Eventually I was able to pet CC while she ate wet food. It was a treat for both of us. On the whole, though, she was pretty wild.

Somehow, though, she managed to be a very personable cat. She was pretty vocal about her mealtimes. Sometimes she just wanted to say hi. Here she is being silly in the morning as I left for work. Is that a plant? Looks like a bed to me!

I don’t remember a lot about where she came from. She was just kind of there one day. My girlfriend at the time and I just started to feed her and her kids. They needed a home and we were willing to provide food, water and shelter. There is one thing that could never be forgotten about those early days, though. One of her back legs was sticking out in the most horrid manner.

When she went in for her spaying, the vet informed us that the leg could not be saved. It had already set. The best thing for her was to amputate it. Hence CC. Cripple Cat. We never called her Cripple Cat. It’s just where the name came from. It just stuck. She certainly didn’t let it stop her from climbing over the fence and catching birds. Kids passing by were fascinated by the three-legged cat.

CC would leave me with an everlasting memory in a very difficult time in my life. Early in 2012 I was moving out of the home I had lived in for over 10 years. This was her home too. I still wanted to take care of her but she was wild. I couldn’t take her with me. I decided that I simply had to ask my landlord to continue caring for her. He agreed. That was a relief! It wasn’t easy to hand her over like that. I felt like I was abandoning her. It turns out I didn’t need to worry.

There was a most fortunate detail to all this. I lived directly across the street from my parents’ house. To make the transition easier I moved many things there before moving them over to my new place. After all was said and done I reluctantly took over her food to my former landlord and thanked him for agreeing to care for CC. He wouldn’t have to feed her one single time.

CC followed me to my parents’ house!!! This little wild cat somehow knew our time was over in that old place. She transitioned over from one day to the next. She never crossed the street back to our old house ever again. It was the most incredible gift. I was so happy. It was unbelievable. My dad is not a cat person but I think even he was a little touched by what she had done. My parents didn’t have too much of a problem caring for her while I transitioned over to my new place. Of course, I visited her often and did what I could to keep her comfortable.

She was an old girl now. I bribed her with that wet food and cut off all her matted fur one day. I am very grateful that, during what would be her last days, she was seen escaping the rain under the porch, on top of her crate that I had just cleaned up for her. I had shaken out her blankets and made sure there were no spiderwebs to bug her. This was one of the last shots I captured of her:

It should also be noted that she was quite the pal with my baby Pepper. Here they are doing their thing at the old place (you probably need to be on Facebook to see this video):

CC and Pepper frolicking

Pepper gets a little impatient there but believe me, they were buddies. Sometimes they would chase each other around the yard. CC would always seek Pepper out and butt her head against her. At my parents’ house I would play ball with Pepper and CC would come out to hang out with us in the sun.

What happened to her? I really don’t know. My mom informed me that she had simply disappeared from one evening to the next morning. She fed her on a regular schedule and knew exactly when she went missing. Like her daughter Little One, I still haven’t been able to find her body. My heart tells me she is gone.

I hope she has crossed that Rainbow Bridge. I hope she is resting peacefully. Thank you for all the wonderful memories CC. I miss you.

Who sleeps there?

This post is not about throwing a pity party for myself. It’s more about the beautiful mind of a child and the profound things they surprise us with. I actually had a pretty good day. I played catch up most of the morning. Listening to music, catching up on replies and planning the day with my computer (along with my revolving stash of handwritten notes) is certainly a favorite activity of mine. Soon it was time to get ready for spending the rest of the day with some good friends and family.

We took my niece to see a play. It was probably her first live theater experience. Here she is talking up her wishlist with the Santas. I believe she asked for a Barbie, amongst other things of course!

After the play we grabbed a bite to eat at a sushi restaurant. She’s a very picky eater but I figured chicken teriyaki is a safe bet with kids. Wrong. She did go for chicken but it was basically a dish of breaded chicken strips. She loved the white rice too. This gave her some major energy.

She was bouncing off her booster seat the entire way home. This was no short ride either. I don’t think I could have turned up my radio loud enough to cover her voice. I didn’t necessarily mind but half an hour of that kind of energy can get tiresome. Eventually we made it home safely.

We were all back at my place. I fired up the television and got some music videos going. I went upstairs to perform a quick check of things and feed my kitty. I am a pretty organized dude but you never know when your underwear might like to make a guest appearance. Everything was pretty much where it should be except for my bed. It was kind of half made. I heard the unmistakable sound of my niece running up the stairs. She walked in my bedroom just as I was pulling the covers over the right hand side pillow, completing my 10 second bed making operation.

“Uncle, who sleeps there?”

“I do, that’s my bed.”

“No, who sleeps there?”

“What do you mean, this is where I sleep, that’s my bed.”

“No! Who sleeps there, where you just covered up the pillow?”

Oh gosh, I thought…she sees two pillows and thinks that it means two people sleep there. My mind drifted in to so many places at once. Would I simply say that the number of pillows don’t matter…a don’t-worry-about-it-kid kind of explanation? I then remembered that I committed to honesty after a recent, painful experience.

“Well…unfortunately…” I began.

“Fun-futch-ly what?” she asked, waiting patiently for me to finish.

“Well…I sleep alone here.”

“But uncle, then who’s going to take care of you?” she asked, with genuine concern in her eyes.

Fuck. I completely melted inside. Without missing a beat, she went from trying to pronounce the big word I had just spoken to that. Just try to imagine a little 5 year old asking you that and you can probably see why I had no response. I might have said “I don’t know baby,” but I can’t be sure. A better answer would have been that I was slowly learning to take care of myself, to define myself again.That’s not exactly material to share with a child though, is it?! It didn’t really matter. She had made my night and continued to bounce off the walls promptly thereafter.

Later in the evening I played guitar and sang to my niece and her mother. It was a rare moment…too rare of a moment for a musician to be having actually. I need to do that more often.

I’ll leave you all with a song I shared with them. Everything about this song is simply beautiful. I hope you love it as much as I do.


Olivia Newton John – The Promise (The Dolphin Song)


This post serves to fill the debut spot of my Miscellaneous Ramblings category. In reading the title I have just showed you how to say L’Occitane! This video is quite entertaining. The fields of lavender at the end are pretty awesome. That isn’t the point of my post, though. This is a story about a man and his deodorant.

I have been using this wonderful product for years now:

Thanks for the photo Nordstrom.

I usually purchased it at Sephora. It seemed the only non-online place you could get it without going to a proper L’Occitane store. I know $15 or so is a lot for deodorant but it is one of the luxuries I allow myself. Let’s talk armpits for just a bit.

I usually don’t care how well a deodorant works. I mean, if you take shower often enough and don’t eat crap food then most anything will do the trick. I would even propose that sometimes you don’t need deodorant at all. C’mon, we’ve all forgotten to wear it at some point or another. Did your armpits smell like Campbell’s soup? Did people run away in disgust? Probably not. Anyhow, this roll-on does work and simply smells great…a lemony scent. It’s not classified as a product for men but I find it manly enough. It also contains essential oils which is something my ex introduced me too. I have consequentially become a big fan of essential oils but that’s a post for another day. So…I am on my last licks of this sweet smelling roll on and decide a trip to the nearby mall is in order.

I went to Sephora in the Montebello Town Center…”Sorry, try somewhere else, maybe a bigger Sephora?” Damn, that would mean going to Old Town Pasadena and I wasn’t going to make that trip in holiday traffic. I’ll just get this online. I can wait a couple of days. OUT OF STOCK. Everywhere I went. Some joker already has one on eBay going for $34. No thanks. This morning I called a L’Occitane store.

A very nice associate informed me that this product is currently being reformulated to remove the aluminum. February is the current estimate for its return. I always knew it had aluminum. That’s why it works. That’s usually the difference between anti-perspirant and deodorant. I guess it was always a little sneaky for them to call this product a deodorant. This made me think…

How do they test the efficacy of deodorant nowadays? Do they still do it like they did in this famous picture?:

Or…do they now have some sophisticated bacterial swab to do this kind of thing?

Well, regardless of their testing methods,  I’ll have to find something I can live with til this product returns. I don’t like anything with a very heavy scent. I don’t think anyone around me should be able to smell it. That’s what cologne is for! Any suggestions?

What is one cosmetic product YOU let yourself splurge on? Ladies, I know you may have many. Men, don’t be shy. You can think of something.

A Missing Angel

The flyer below kind of says it all, or does it?

I currently live in Monterey Park, CA. It’s close to East Los Angeles College (ELAC). This is very near the “East L.A. Freeway Interchange” that the local news loves to mention in their traffic reports. This is the neighborhood that Boo went missing from.

“Boo” is actually my neighbor’s dog but she spent a LOT of time with Emily and I. My neighbors are cool but, they have a totally different mindset when it comes to caring for their dogs. Boo would spend what seemed like days at a time with us and stayed the night often. We fed her, bathed her and showered her with affection. All of a sudden, Boo wasn’t around anymore.

I asked my neighbor what happened. She was not too forthcoming. She muttered something about temporarily going back to the breeder she came from. It didn’t make sense. About three weeks passed. To my surprise, Boo returned sometime in mid-October. I was ecstatic but my happiness was short lived.

She disappeared again. The last time I saw her was October 25th. On that night, I did hear her inside my neighbor’s house. This was atypical as she was usually with me in the evenings (for 4 nights in a row at that point in time). I figured they finally missed her and were going to keep her in for the night. I was wrong.

Now here is where I F’d up. I assumed they took her back to the mystery breeder location. I was also bitter that they would take her back so soon like that so I didn’t communicate with my neighbor again. Weeks later, my neighbor drops the bomb on me…”Hey, have you seen Boo? I haven’t seen her since around Halloween. I thought you might have had her. I hope she comes back.” WTF?!?!?!

I am completely crushed, feeling guilty and missing Boo real bad. She was always waiting for me when I came home from work. She was Pepper’s playmate. They enjoyed many playful romps and naps together. I’ve done a lot to find her with no success.

I canvassed the neighborhood with a picture of her in hand. I visited local shelters. I have posted many flyers. My gut tells me someone grabbed this little angel and took her away. Who could blame them? She had no collar and was roaming the streets. She could be anywhere in the county by now.

Please spread the word people from Los Angeles! At this point I just want to know that she is alive and well. I would understand if whoever has her now would not want to give her back. I really need some closure with this.

Vital specs:
about 8 months old
about 6lbs
very slight under bite
white and tan with tan spots (like a cow) on her white belly

Boo's flyer

Boo and Pepper

The John Taylor Experience

Bass Player Live! 2012

8:19 PM 10/28/2012

It was one week ago today that a long time dream was finally realized. I MET JOHN TAYLOR!!! My childhood hero, my reason for playing bass, my reason for becoming a musician – he has been all of those things for me. As I write those words, I realize that some of that is not entirely true. Not in a strict sense anyway.

I didn’t really meet him but by the end of it all he did know my name and that’s gotta count for something. This wasn’t a meet’n’greet. It was a book signing, really. I was lucky to get the pictures that I did. I heard “John isn’t taking pictures today!” more than once that day. Also, I like to call myself a musician, but in a professional sense I am anything but. I suppose I define myself as a musician in a spiritual sense. It’s how I want to be remembered. It’s who I am. Before hearing those brilliant notes of Is There Something I Should Know in a bedroom I shared with my brother, I wanted to become a jet fighter pilot. I had just barely started John’s book prior to attending the Bass Player Live event, but already I saw that there was much about my childhood that oddly paralleled his own. Is it a bass player thing or mere coincidence?

John details his catholic upbringing, building scale models, his love for cars, his shyness as well as discovering music beyond a listener. He even mentions his Catholic Guilt, a condition I diagnosed myself with long ago. Those were all things that were on my mind as I sat there in my chair waiting for him to arrive.

This was an event for bass players, but I knew two things going in. First, John wouldn’t be playing bass as most of the other players would be doing. Second, the majority of the crowd would not be musicians. I secretly hoped that he would play bass but I knew I wouldn’t be wrong about the crowd.

I showed up about an hour before the “clinic.” There was already a line. Dammit! Then, I realized that the non-musician fans were probably already in Clinic Room B, saving their seat as they patiently sat through the previous act. In this case, that previous act would be Bobby Vega. I wonder if Bobby Vega looked out at the crowd and thought, “What the fuck are all these middle-aged women doing here?” I hope he had a good time with it. He’s a pretty funky dude. I hope he wasn’t annoyed.

Eventually, my brother, (ex-) girlfriend and I snagged some pretty good seats in the third row. We’re talking about a room that would probably burst at 100 persons. I was probably no more than 10 feet from the stage. It would be a good 30 minutes until John came out. There was a semi-annoying woman in front of me with her small boy. She had named him John, as she was obsessed with John Taylor. I always manage to sit next to noisemaking kids but that’s another story for another day. I would say those first three rows were mostly the housewife crowd. Make no mistake though, there were definitely musicians in the crowd who were as excited as I was to be there.

The stage began to take form. It looked like a presidential debate. Two chairs were laid out in front with a podium off to the left.  I had hoped that someone would wheel out some Peavey amplifiers and a Cirrus bass or two but that time came and went with no gear in sight. We wouldn’t be treated to live bass today. There was also a TV set up on a stand in back of the chairs that would eventually play a really slow moving slide-show of sorts while John spoke. I didn’t look at it much. Why two chairs I wondered…

About 15 minutes before the scheduled start time we were treated to some tasty Beatles tracks. I knew that Duran Duran were Beatles fans. John describes their influence in his book as well so this was fresh in my mind. It all made sense.

In a moment that almost seemed to arrive too soon, there was John strutting in the room from the back entrance. My initial thoughts seemed almost superficial. “Damn, he’s tall! Damn, he’s pretty thin!” We’re not talking Big Thing cocaine thin here, just very slim. The all-black attire and boots accentuated those observations.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

It turns out the other chair was for Tom Sykes who John co-wrote his book with. He made a comment about John basically writing the last half of the book himself while he just hung out at John’s house and ate his food. What a lucky cat that Tom guy was! In the beginning Tom would pose a question to John and that’s how the conversations were started. Later, John would read excerpts from his book at the podium. He seemed reluctant to use the podium but I guess he figured “What the hell. it’s there. May as well use it.” In order to keep the event legit, I suppose, the conversations were kept as musiciancentric as possible, including the excerpts he read from the book. The funniest part for me was when he was describing standing in for the bass player in his son’s band in the very place we were all sitting in now. Apparently, the band said he could fill in permanently if he wouldn’t mind playing behind the stage. “Those fuckers! Last time I played with them!” he said.  He was also much more candid than I thought he would be about his drug use. He said cocaine ended up being a really bad idea for playing, but downers were great for jamming hours at a time. Near the end of the clinic, the floor was opened for questions but there wasn’t much time left.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

I don’t believe more than four questions were asked. The first was a question about his Bernard Edwards influence. He seemed to like that question and spent a lot of time talking about it. Of course I had been obsessing over what I could ask him for days now. I was suddenly hit with the reality that I may not be able to ask him anything at all! Astonishingly, the universe was on my side and I asked the last question!

Before I asked him anything I took the opportunity to tell John that I was thankful to him for the turn my life took after hearing Is There Something I Should Know years ago. Then I stumbled out this question – “When you are songwriting away from Duran Duran or just gelling out ideas (jamming, etc.), what is your instrument of choice? I know you’ve played keyboard bass here and there, like on the Arcadia track.” His first response was “I’m glad you asked me THAT question.” “Really?!,” I thought, feeling quite proud. Well, he didn’t really answer my question but proceeded to talk about how, in this event for bassists, he felt it important to say that keyboard bass should be embraced. He spoke of always keeping a Korg loaded with bass patches nearby. Previous to my question, he spoke about not using the bass as a songwriting or accompaniment tool. My guess is that his answer would have been the guitar. The clinic ended and the book signing began.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

The line for the book signing seemed so long. It would go quickly though. I soon realized the allotted one hour time slot for the book signing was way too much time. Maybe they would allow photos after all. I had wrestled with the idea of bringing my Aria Pro II SB1000 or my Kubicki Ex-Factor for him to sign. If not properly prepared though, a signature on an instrument doesn’t live long unless you don’t play it ever again. I play those basses! I ended up bringing two much smaller items – a solo CD of his called Retreat Into Art and my copy of his book. This meant I would wait in line twice. The first signing of the CD was uneventful. I kind of thought seeing his solo CD would spark more of a reaction, but he just signed it and went to the next one. There weren’t many people left when I came around for the second time (to have my book signed).

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

This time he looked at the pink sticky you were supposed to write your name on and asked “Zuma?…Were your parents big Neil Young fans?” I responded by saying that it was just part of my full name. As he nodded and went to actually sign my book, I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. No matter how uncool or corny it may be, I just asked him “John, do you remember that Shadows on Your Side video on YouTube?” “What?,” he asked, amidst the rumble of noise that so many bass players were making around us. Louder, I started to repeat, “THE SHADOWS ON YOUR…” then he cut me off and asked excitedly, “That was you?!” “Yeah,” I blurted. He burst into laughter and said something like, “I remember thinking  fuck me when I saw it…AWESOME!” and then gave me a high-five followed by a handshake. I felt like a little kid. Giddy is the best word I can think of. It was definitely a highlight of my life. I can only imagine it will continue to be for quite some time. I’m not the kind of person to be star struck easily, but any members of Duran Duran definitely hold that privilege for me, especially John.

Photograph stolen from the Duran Duran Facebook page

Photograph stolen from the Duran Duran Facebook page

I made a quick run around the event and returned to the Elixir booth where John was. No more than five minutes had passed. Though there was still commotion at the booth, John was long gone. I was quite proud that in my years of attending the Bass Player Live event, not one artist caused the ruckus that John did. He had packed the place and brought some much needed energy to it. Granted, some of that was housewife energy but who’s counting?

Today I won. Great Success. Now if I can only get off my ass and make that next YouTube video…


Thank you to Alex Laise and Luna for helping me edit my post.


My friend Ben Post sent me these photos of his bass that was signed by JT at a recent event. It reads “To Ben…with love…signature…The Aria Pro.” I included his son and the kitty pic because I simply couldn’t resist.