Tuesday, November 24, 2009

74 days in. 16 to go.

Alas! Poor butter, I hardly knew ye. The last of it was spread on some pancakes this morning. I mentioned in the previous post that meal choices had really narrowed. Even though there is plenty of food overall, key ingredients are missing to prepare some of them or at least make them more palatable than a straight bowl of beans or a plain biscuit. I don't think most people would know how a slathering of butter is a great compliment to a biscuit. Strawberry jam alone is helpful and moistens it up to help chew and swallow, but some butter- that just drives it on home.

Had a hamburger patty for dinner last night with some dried onions and salt and pepper mixed in. Served with some A1 sauce. Frozen corn, apple sauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

Road tripping to southern CA for Thanksgiving and will eat with family or will eat out as needed but will mostly pack food for the road from storage per the parameters of the experiment. There is a bag of Cheetos that I've been saving for this. I scored a six pack of 7-up leftover from an industry networking mixer and that will be a welcome treat. I'll make a loaf of bread and make tuna sandwiches. The two Cornish game hens that were intended to be saved for Thanksgiving will be used instead for Sunday dinner upon return to Mesa. Up until Dec 11th, there will be 10 days of really narrow meal choices and, well, it IS what it IS.

I'm out of shoe shine. I used a moist towel to shine up my shoes for a public appearance or two but they aren't quite completely shined to my liking. In a real crisis, shined shoes would be the least of my worries. To have shoes at all would be a blessing!

Ran out of a couple of light bulbs. In the process of switching over to CFLs anyway as traditional incandescent light bulbs burn out, but there are several lamps in the house that have specialized halogen bulbs. I basically canibalized a couple of unused lamps in unused rooms to get the needed lamps up and running.

My wireless headset mic gave up the ghost. The receiver in my DJ rig and the transmitter that goes on my back are fine but the headset itself- I'm kinda hard on those. I go through a microphone about every 8 months- they are a bit delicate for life on the road. I did a couple of gigs last week with a hardwire, hand-held microphone. I don't know how I used to do it that way before I started using a wireless headset. Even a boom stand to hold the mic in front of my face is limiting. I can be more animated when I am unencumbered and untethered. Anyways, I ordered a couple of new headsets from Kansas and they arrived today. The nature of this need required that they be ordered in advance of Dec 11. I have to run my business. I don't have another DJ job until Dec 3rd out at the WigWam resort. I have events on the 3rd, 5th, 6th, two events on the 11th, 12th, 19th, 20th, 27th and New Years Eve on the 31st.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

71 days in. 19 to go.

Getting close!

Other than getting bored by narrowing meal choices, all is well. I like to have 30 or 40 recipes in rotation but the ingredients for those just aren't here. I'm really down to 7 or 8 choices for meals. Without the garden for some fresh salad, I would go nuts.

I have already said it- there are people who store just beans and rice and canned tuna. Yes, it will sustain life, but I contend that you will be bored with it in about 3 days and you'll hate yourself for not being better prepared. There are other possible food choices in storage, but the larger plan has proved inaccurate- I'm out of some of the key ingredients to make those work. I'm down to 3/4 lb of butter and when that's gone, it will be the end of the cookies and the biscuits. The egg solids have proved invaluable with a couple of minor exceptions described earlier. I'm really going to research butter solids and find tasty recipes that can use it.

Some meals on the table this week: home made chicken noodle soup, Hawaiian volcanoes (rice, Chinese noodles, pineapple, water chestnuts, shredded chicken, gravy etc.) No-bake oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, few green salads from the garden- butterhead lettuce, cilantro, canned Mandarin orange wedges, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds, balsamic vinaigrette with some other dried spices. Re-fried beans- that's dried re-fried beans from a can- re-hydrated and simmered and served with pepper sauce. Jello with canned fruit.

I use a men's body wash shower gel that I like. I ran out of that and I'm using regular soap and there is plenty of that in storage. The skin on my back seems like its crawling. My forehead, nose and chin are pretty oily and my back is moderately oily. The rest of my skin is fairly normal. The switch to soap seems to have messed up my skin chi. Anyways, in a major crisis, I would just be glad for a shower let alone some soap.

I'm also running very low on mouthwash. I have plenty of toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes but the mouthwash- I got-ta got-ta have it! I will really ration that out and see if I can get another 2 1/2 weeks out of it but it doesn't look promising. There are two packets of the Listerine breath strips that can be used to extend the inevitable but I may have to live like a hermit for a couple of days at the end of the 90 days if my breath goes south. After this weekend, I have two Sundays (attend church) and I have DJ jobs on Dec 3rd, 5th, 6th and 11th. If I can have one swig for each of those, I think I'll make it. Side note to this- I'm generally less odorous owing to the reduced processed foods this last couple of months. I'm eating healthier and my body seems to be working more efficiently.

Soap and mouthwash- just more to consider when storing goods against hard times. I know in a crisis, that body odor will be the least of my worries but I want to be as comfortable as possible. Good preparation also puts me in a better position to render Christian-type assistance to others.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

That was then and this is now

I was in LA last Friday night for a DJ job and I celebrated my 30th anniversary in the entertainment business. I played a song Friday night off of this album, a song that I had played at my very first event in 1979. It was a brand new song then and it's 30 yrs old now. Gary Numan's "Cars"

This month, I purchased a 3 CD re-release of the album to commemorate it's 30th anniversary and it's been in my CD player this week. One disc is the album just as it was, the next is filled with demo versions that were used to present the song ideas to the record company, alternate takes and alternate mixes and b-sides to the singles that were released back then. It's interesting to hear the stripped down version of "Cars" before it was fleshed out and became the classic that it is. It sounds like something Earth Wind and Fire could have done- very R&B-esque. The third disc is some concert recordings from that time period. The crowd was not recorded as it would have been had it been intended for a live release but you can still hear the ambient crowd sounds from the stage mics, it's just straight from the concert mixing board. One item of note is the inclusion of "On Broadway" in concert with synthesizers and drum machines- Gary Numan style.

Some of you are probably scratching your head and questioning the value of a 3-CD anniversary release of this album from 30 years ago. This album was the first of the rock era that was devoid of electric guitars. Other acts like Kraftwerk (German pronunciation- Krahft-vehrk) used synthesizers and other electronics but came across as cold, experimental music for geeks. Gary Numan made a solid, funky, warm traditional rock album- just with synthesizers taking the lead. There was bass guitar and a traditional rock drummer, but no guitars.

Don't get me started on the importance of Kraftwerk in hip-hop and current dance music. I contend that hip-hop would not have happened AT ALL without the influence of Kraftwerk. I can hear their beats or even sampled bits in probably 40% of all of the dance music that I play today. That is a posting for another time.

The musicians' union in England tried to blacklist Gary Numan from getting any gigs because he was using those new-fangled synthesizers and putting musicians out of work. He countered that he used 6 union musicians on stage every night while Sting and the Police only had 3! I recently saw a very young Sting on a DVD lamenting back in 1979 that "Message in a Bottle" -one of the great guitar riffs EVER- had debuted at #8 on the British charts and Sting was concerned! He thought it would have done better if they could just get Gary Numan to F*&% OFF!

"Cars" was actually Gary Numan's 3rd #1 single in Europe and "The Pleasure Principle" was his 2nd #1 album- and he was only 21 yrs old. That proved to be his only hit in the U.S. but he had about 35 chart hits in Europe and elsewhere in his career. He is releasing his 22nd and 23rd albums just a couple of months apart next year. I can't wait.

I still like "Cars" even though it comes off like a novelty song and doesn't really represent his wider body of music. Oft-times, the pioneer, who does it different or expands the art form is mis-understood even though he or she opens the door for those that follow the idea to success like Duran Duran, Human League, Depeche Mode and others.

I have seen 4 or 5 of Gary Numan's concerts on the rare occasions that he tours in the U.S. I have his autograph on some memorabilia. It was a pleasure to meet him. Considering the cold, ethereal feel of his music, he is a very warm and engaging performer. Several thousand people could think that the concert was just for them. Here are some current pictures of Gary Numan.

Here's me back in 1979, with my first keyboard rig. The other is me also in 1979, pictured with my dad at the front end of my DJ career when bands like Gary Numan, The Police and Styx had sparked my imagination and arguably changed my life.

Here are a couple of pics of me now- 30 years later. Newer keyboard rig- this one digital piano can do 20 times more than the 4 keyboards could do in 1979.

Additionally, I'm a far better entertainer now than I was back then. Even though I know how to use the equipment to enhance that entertainment value, I've learned that technology isn't where the magic happens. The best sound system and light show won't save an event if the entertainer stinks. The magic happens when the performer and the audience connect and they exchange energy and celebration and angst and they just release the feelings of anticipation associated with the given occasion or event.

My current DJ rig pictured here can do about 20 times what my first DJ set-up could do with about 1/3 of the weight and space.

It's purely coincidental that both of these shots have my head cut off. The photographer that I've been hanging with of late- Kym Ventola, well, that's part of her artistic style. Or maybe she thinks I'm hideous... oh no... maybe I AM hideous... LOOK AWAY!

Here's to 30 more years!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

66 days in. 24 to go.

Getting close to the finish but a big finish actually seems kinda anti-climactic. For someone who is prepared, this shouldn't be a big deal I guess. The garden is producing more than enough for a nice salad every day or every other day. I have planted a winter garden each November since moving to Arizona. This is my 4th one. For reasons described earlier, I planted the salad ingredients earlier than usual and already enjoying the produce. The butter head lettuce leaves are quite nice.

A few meals on the table this week- Hot loaf of bread with Hamburger soup (Hamburger, dried carrots and dried celery, soy sauce, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, dried onion soup packet and after cooking for a couple of hours in the crock pot, add Parmesan cheese and parsley and some macaroni or whatever other pasta you have- used bow tie pasta this time- and then serve it up.) Salad from the garden, pancakes and sausage, oatmeal, cream of wheat cereal, franks cooked into a crescent roll, peanut butter and crackers, apple sauce, canned pears and hot chocolate.

Attended a wedding at JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge this week- NOT as a DJ. It was a lovely occasion and really enjoyed the meal provided by our hosts. (I enjoyed the company of our hosts and the other guests too.) The salad had romaine lettuce, orange wedges with the membranes peeled off, capers, and some kind of a citrus-y dressing. The entre was a choice of prime rib, lobster or sea bass. I had prime rib and it was a fantastic piece of meat. It came with some baby arugula leaves and northern beans (Yankee or White beans) with some cherry tomatoes and a hint of olive oil. Deeeee LISH!

There is 1 1/2 lbs of butter left. The Santa Fe apples are gone. Made fruit leather and ate as many fresh apples as could be eaten. They still lasted longer than they should have before going south. Made some cupcakes from a Betty Crocker cake mix and while they tasted like cupcakes, the egg solids didn't hold up very well. They were plenty moist and puffy, but had nothing to hold them together- they were crumbly. Even the wax paper baking cups didn't bond to the cake very well. It was odd.

I'm reminded that without electricity, the living of this adventure would be dramatically different. The freezer and the bread machine have been fantastic. Dried beans, rice and wheat would sustain life in a crisis but I'm more and more bored with the narrowing choices for meals. I would have gone nuts already without the freezer. The garden is gonna save my sanity.

I have felt a couple of times that the point has been made and all possible lessons may have already been learned. I actually considered calling it off with these 3 weeks to go, but owing to the spiritual feelings and and some of the other unexpected observations made, I have chosen to continue to 90 days as there may be more to learn. The only reason there is anything to write about is because I have have followed wise counsel and attempted to prepare for the future and I'm just testing my wits.

I've often noted in this blog that I'm a Styx fan. I heard "Come Sail Away" as a young teenager and that was the first time that I felt that an artist was speaking right to me. The song is about beauty of our dreams compared to the sometimes lesser reality of our lives. It's hard to find that pot of gold, but we keep dreaming anyway and we "carry on!" That's when the angels bear us up and I think it's ONLY then that they do so- when we have done all we can. That's when heaven sends help- somehow. "And we'll try the best that we can, to carry on!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

El Presidente

I was just given the honor of being re-elected as President of the Phoenix Chapter of the American DJ Association. It is a pleasure to associate with these men and try to add to the excellence of the industry. Back row- Joseph Ivy of Ivy Entertainment and a brilliant competitive ballroom dancer. I'm kinda in the middle there in back. On my left is Scott Faver of Party Favers. Scott speaks at other ADJA chapters around the country and is often a featured presenter at major industry functions and trade shows, he's the "Game Master" and a brilliant networker. Back row, right is Robert Wilson our treasurer. In front on the left is Secretary, Bill Limbach, the DJ For You. In front of me is Mark Sanchez of Professional Mobile Entertainment, our vice president. Wearing white on the right of the picture is Dr. Drax, the national President of the American DJ Association. Drax and I have known each other for many years now and associated professionally and personally in southern California long before I joined the association. Drax is his stage name and I always knew him by his real given name. I think I may be the only one that knows his name. It's kinda like the Seinfeld episode where everybody learns Kramer's first name is Cosmo.

Thank you to the chapter members for your confidence. I will do my best.

Monday, November 9, 2009

60 days in. 30 to go.

Major milestone for this posting. Not only is it the 2/3 marker, but even more exciting than that--I ate a salad from the garden- and then I danced the Mamushka.

There is an Old Testament verse that is often overlooked as to its significance. In Joshua chapter 5, the Israelites have just crossed the Jordan river into Canaan and they are making preparations to conquer the city of Jericho. They and ate some "old corn" and unleavened cakes (probably something like corn tortillas) for the passover feast that week. The reason this is significant is that the next day, the manna from Heaven that had fed them in the wilderness for 40 years stopped. Verse 12 says that "they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year."

The food in the garden still is only a compliment to the dried stored foods but a welcome treat. Later in the season, the scale will tip the other way, the fresh food will be supplemented by dried goods.

Observations on the garden- When planting seeds, you plant them closer than you need and then thin them out at some point after they sprout. Not all seeds germinate AND some require the presence of other seeds nearby to germinate in any case. Plus, it's hard to do anything other than just sprinkle them out gently when they are such tiny seeds. For the bigger seeds like the peas, the placement is very deliberate.

The thinning should occur before the roots become intertwined and each plant would have to compete with the others nearby for dirt, water, sunlight etc. and you get a bunch of sickly plants that don't produce much of anything. Thinning them exposes more leaf area to sunlight. At this stage, they are just a single root protruding downward. The butterhead lettuce plants are still seedlings and have not begun forming heads. They did need to be thinned out and since the leaves are edible they went into the salad rather than getting tossed out. SO- a plate full of butterhead lettuce leaves, a couple of sprigs of cilantro leaves with the stems (as cilantro matures and gets thicker, the stems get a kinda bitter, but they are sweet/pungent now), a couple of sprigs of green onions, and some re-hydrated carrots and celery from storage with a couple of tablespoons of canned diced tomatoes. I have red vinegar and olive oil in storage with other dried herbs like pepper, garlic, parsley, oregano etc. I made a most excellent dressing.

As people learn of my adventures recently, it seems more and more fantastical to them but more and more comfortable, reasonable, DO-able and ordinary to me. The stored food has become a bridge that spanned the time needed to plant seeds and begin a harvest, or make other arrangements to obtain food in a crisis. Seeds would seem to be the obvious choice because one is not at the mercy of others or of the crisis itself, one is SELF-reliant! It's right there in the title- SELF-reliance. You take care of yourself and don't leave it to others to take care of the things you should have planned for.

Inventory: Down to 2 lbs of butter. Made a rice/coconut/almond/canned chicken dish that used another 1/4lb of butter. Won't last for 30 more days, but it's ok. 11 kosher franks left. Some frozen chicken, 1 lb of shrimp, 2 Cornish game hens, frozen broccoli, frozen corn, some sausage. 3 boxes of cold cereal.

There is PLENTY of canned fruits, vegetables and meats and dozens of #10 cans of wheat, rice, beans, sugar, salt, dried milk, potato flakes etc. All of those have been the backbone of many of the meals of late. The Santa Fe tomatoes are gone. There are a few Santa Fe apples left but they are going south- starting to decompose. Maybe a couple more days of apples and cinnamon and oatmeal.
Finished off the peanuts on a hike on Peralta trail to Weavers Needle in the Superstition mountains last weekend. It's a medium to strenuous 6 mile round trip on a well used and maintained trail. It felt better without candy or fitness supplements that are generally loaded with chemicals and other kinds of fillers. Water and peanuts provided plenty of energy. Peanut packaging is biodegradable. Took Camelback back-pack with reusable water bladder. Still have lots of sunflower seeds, pistachios, and almonds to eat with meals.

A few menu items this week: Chicken/pineapple/tomato (from a can) skewers with teriyaki sauce cooked on tabletop hibachi grill using Sterno fuel. Pancakes and sausage. Crescent rolls with kosher frank baked inside. Franks and beans. Chicken and pasta- with tomato basil sauce and Parmesan cheese or with Alfredo sauce and broccoli. Ritz crackers and peanut butter. Cinammon rolls with frosting.

Had a DJ friend from Orange County California staying here for 3 days. We did a big event together last weekend. He hadn't seen me since I did a gig in Santa Monica CA 2 months ago-- He said I looked very healthy. I have lost 5 lbs in my mid-section. I had been at the very high end of the proper weight window for my height. I could lose 8 to 10 more and be at the low end. I don't anticipate that happening but it would be a good by-product of this adventure.

The end of this experiment is in sight. My life has become so much more simple. I have begun to formulate a plan to live this way more fully. Food stored for someday and never rotated is subject to spoilage thus wasting the money intended to be saved AND rendering it useless in a crisis anyway. Wheat, beans and rice stored properly should last 30 years or so, but they should be a part of the regular diet. I'll go for a major restocking of foodstuffs in bulk once per quarter and then maybe go for eggs, milk and cheese, once every 14 to 21 days. When I think about that, I may actually dump or at least massively reduce the consumption of those dairy products from my regular diet and increase the fresh produce to the degree that I can grow it here at home- it's far superior to anything found in the local grocery stores anyway. But if I can't grow it myself, I'll buy whatever can be grown locally.

Talk to ya in about a week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 53. 37 to go. The test is actually just beginning.

In case you've just joined me and you're wondering about the posting title, I decided to have a go at living off my own wits and eat only the food that I have stored against hard economic times or natural disaster etc. I haven't been to a grocery store or any other store for 53 days. Gasoline has been the only regular purchase. I have purchased some supplies for DJ equipment repairs and upgrades (I still have to run my business). I've also been also out to lunch with clients or colleagues about once every other week (owing to the social nature of eating together). I've made some unexpected observations about the way we acquire and consume food. If you are interested, scroll down to Day 14 and read up. For reference, I have far more than 90 days stored so if there were a crisis inside of this experiment, requiring another 90 or 180 or 270 days of living without a grocery store, I'd be fine.

A few menu items this week: Pancakes and fried Spam, the last steaks out of the freezer with some frozen corn on the cob, cherry Jell-o with canned peaches and fruit cocktail, cornbread and chili beans, crescent rolls, soup made from the tomatoes picked on the Santa Fe trip- it was DEEeeeeee LISH! Also, fruit leather with the apples from Santa Fe (see previous postings for explanation on that), Blew out some of the gifted cheese for some grilled cheese sandwiches to dip in the tomato soup (see previous postings for explanation on that). Chocolate chip cookies and No-bake oatmeal cookies.

In my travels and other adventures last week, someone approached me who had heard that I was doing this and was teasing me about how nice it would be to have a big plate of Mexican food or something (I have stored all of the supplies to have Mexican food). This person was even poking my shoulder repeatedly as if to provoke me. This person was someone that I know peripherally and who is a bit lacking in social skills anyway and so I discounted the gesture owing to that. This person hadn't read this on-line journal and was in no position to gauge whether I was starving or having some hardship or if I was making some kind of a statement or just being magnanimous. It is none of those things. For the most part, it has been completely comfortable and even a spiritual experience. I almost got angry for just a second because it was disrespecting the spiritual and peaceful experience I am having but I let that anger go quickly and was rather sad that this person was probably massively in debt, maybe hanging on to a job by a thread, otherwise unprepared and maybe even fearful at what they would do for their hungry children in a crisis.

I once taught an Old Testament class for two years as part of a seminary program for high school students. A story about Elijah has been on my mind this week. There was a famine in the land and the streams had just about dried up, the crops had died and there was a widow who had a cup of meal (probably corn meal or something) and a bit of oil in a cruse and she was gathering firewood to make a fire and cook up some flat bread for dinner and then she and her son were going to die- that was all the food there was. Elijah promised her in the name of the Lord that if she would feed him first and then she and her son, that the barrel of meal would not "waste" (diminish) and that the oil would not "fail" (it would always stay topped off and not spoil) until the Lord sent rain again. She trusted, and she fed Elijah first and she ate many days and the meal and oil somehow lasted. There is more to the story but it gets rather heavy for an otherwise lighthearted blog about the adventures of a lunatic professional DJ. Read it for yourself in I Kings 17.

I've felt like the widow this last 7 weeks. Whether you believe in the Bible literally or figuratively, there is a reason that these kinds of stories resonate with so many of the peoples of the world and have resonated for so many centuries. It's about coming in to the protection of God. He says, "Let me save you from the flood, let me save you from the famine, let me save your soul... Follow me!"

I was feeling anxious last week upon doing a food inventory- I counted that I was down to 4 lbs of butter. I can do without drinking milk- notice that I've just let it go- it's not that big of a deal. Most of the bread recipes have been fine with dried milk and egg solids... but butter?!??! What would I spread on my pancakes? What would I spread on my crescent rolls or on a slice of bread? Strawberry jam is fine, but a bit of melting butter just pushes it off a cliff! I love that!

I feel like the test is actually just beginning. I think that most refrigerators/pantries should have basic supplies to sustain life for 30 to 40 days in a crisis. So far, it has been just fine, hardly any appreciable difference in menu/diet. Even though the butter shortage made me nervous, it seems like the widow's barrel- I still have 3 and 1/4 lbs of butter as of today. I may run out at the end of this month but will only have to go until Dec 11th to purchase more. A batch of cookies once a week uses 1/4lb, biscuits for dinner every other night uses about 1/4lb per week, toast/pancakes etc for breakfast uses about 1/4lb per week. It's not just the butter mind you- lots of stuff has lasted far longer than I anticipated. I'm well aware that in a real crisis, the lack of electricity would have changed the experiment DRAMATICALLY! The frozen meat and vegetables have been great but if I lost the freezer, I think it's been proven that there is other stored stuff to live on.

I'm always saddened by the aftermath of various natural disasters in the world. Let there be no mistake at whether I have compassion for those who lose lives and property and such. I'm just saddened that people think that it falls to the government to save them and feed them. YES, that's what compassionate people do and AS a people, our government organizes our resources to help at such times. Do I want to wait for this government to save me? No. Wise counsel says prepare yourselves. There are some who say that stored food may be destroyed in a flood/fire or crushed in an earthquake etc. That's not a reason to not be prepared- that it MIGHT be destroyed. Deal with that when you get there. What if it is preserved? Wouldn't it be great to have it? If nothing else, it puts one in a position to render Christian-type service to friends and neighbors.

The garden is doing fine. I may have a salad with some butterhead lettuce as early as next week. The second variety of spinach that I planted also didn't sprout. There is about a 2 foot gap in an otherwise healthy row of peas. I replanted that section and it didn't sprout either. I'm going to plant yet another something or other in the spinach row- maybe some radishes or turnips.

I have a waffle iron that got put away a few weeks ago with a waffle still in it. I know... Anyways, a few days later it began to smell, which led to the discovery of the mistake. When I got it out this week for some waffles, they were ripped to shreds attempting to get them out. In the course of cleaning out the forgotten waffle, the non-stick surface was damaged, rendering it useless for waffles and I had to toss it in the trash. I repaired my biscuit cutter a few weeks ago, but I can't repair a waffle iron like that. Back to the wise adage reported previously; if you have two (of a tool), you have one. If you have only one, you might have none. I can live without waffles just fine, but I sure do like them. I'll probably buy two waffle irons before Christmas.

Stay tuned.