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Jump to a specific date this week

Monday January 17
Tuesday January 18
Wednesday January 19
Thursday January 20 
Friday January 21
Saturday January 22 
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second week of January 2000 
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fourth week of December 1999 
third week of December 1999 
second week of December 1999 
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fourth week of November 1999
at-a distance diary, Oct-Nov 1999 


Monday January 17

Up before dawn.  On a jet plane to La La Land.   Meetings with powerful people.   Cab.  More meetings with less powerful people.   Cab.  LAX.   Short for laxative.   Plane home had engine trouble.  Delayed on the runway.   Hence, one hour late for  SGC rehearsal - walked in just in time for break at 10:00pm.

Excellent rehearsal this evening.  Very musical, lots of flow, dynamics, listening and good vibes.  Jax is keeping the Journal now this month.  Whew.  One less thing to do.  Thanks again, Jax. 

* * *

Home now.   74 unread emails in my personal email box.   Home mail is becoming what MS mail used to be.  Always behind.  Always screaming for attention.  


The happy key.

Spoke with Bill just now, 12:26pm.  Too tired to think or speak.  Some great quotes of the evening.  Too sacrilegious to even mention.  

He reminded me of his mail to me over the weekend which I skimmed, but never answered.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: William Rieflin
To: Steve Ball 
Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2000 3:13 PM
Subject: absurdity

Regarding my earlier "quote of the day: "I think that generally, Americans are not absurdists at heart. I was thinking about my comment to you describing my chores of the afternoon. I was imagining that if anyone was listening in (after all, it is a cellular phone) it might be taken seriously. 
Or at least seriously alarm someone. It's possible that they would report it to the proper authorities who would come looking for me. I would have to then describe a sensibility to someone whose job description requires lacking a sense of humor. People tend to take things literally in this country.

This is partly responsible for Political Correctness. An American would not have written the Derrick & Clive routine "What's your worst job?" Answer: Removing lobsters from Joan Crawford's cunt (among others). One thing that I really enjoy about a lot of my British friends is that we can have entire conversations that belong on another planet. Not only is this fun, it is a great challenge for on-your-toes creative/free-associative thinking. You have to be fast and funny to maintain flow. 

One of the reasons that humor works is that it blindsides you. It takes you by surprise within a context. It's very easy to be rude and nasty, just as it's easy to make no sense at all. Utter absurdity is basically meaningless. But when peppered w/meaning, incredibly hilarious things can be born. It's all in the juxtaposition (a word that Michael Cozzi hates).

* * *

Speaking of surprise within a context, conversations with David S on the plane ride back about the coming revolution in the Music Industry are still reverberating in my head.    Big task, eh?

Much to do to prepare for next week.

* * *

Tuesday January 18

Today was a difficult day.   Very hard work on many fronts.   A few serious wake-up calls.  And general frenzy which is obviously unsustainable.   

I'm going to sleep this evening considering the problem of how to efficiently organize and energize the growing BTV team without spinning in one thousand different directions.

* * *  

God bless self-starters.   

God bless those who just do the right thing at the right time.

God bless those who just see what to do and do it well.  

* * *

Wednesday January 19

Up early for an MS meeting with JoeB at 9:00am.   Transition planning.  At 10:30 I gave up waiting and assumed that something better had come up for Joe.  Had a nice chat with Pete Wilson, though -- he is probably moving over to MSN from the Windows shell team.  Pete is a very smart guy and a Warr Guitar player.   Legend has it that Peter used to be in a band with Bill Gates current personal assistant, Eric Rudder. 

Even after I leave MS next Friday, I am sure that I have not seen or heard the last of Peter M. Wilson.

* * *

David Singleton came to building 8 cafeteria for a technical lunch (the food tasted like it was prepared by mathematicians) and then a meeting with MS Marketing about an exciting upcoming BTV project.    The building 8 cafeteria is the smallest and most humble of the cafes on the MS campus.  Billg works in building 8.   I suppose serving crappy food keeps costs down.   Won't miss this cafe.

* * *

David was then off to Venture Law with instructions to not leave until certain urgent issues had been resolved, and I went downtown for a series of interviews with potential BTV employees.  Some good people are showing up at the right place at the right time.  A few duds too.   But, overall, the core team is shaping up nicely.  Friday evening is our first official 'kick-off' meeting.     

* * *

Cheapo but tasty Chinese dinner with Liz and Violet -- strategies and media planning for Cheesecake2K.  

* * *

9pm -- SB Roadshow rehearsal at the rehearsal space downtown.   Set-up was slow.   Everyone was ready to play by 9:30.   We were without Brock this evening who has accidentally made a conflicting commitment to be in Vancouver to mix his solo CD next week during the evening of our Ballard Firehouse gig.  

Nevertheless, the Roadshow repertoire felt fresh and vital overall.   The few cobwebs were cleared out quickly, and the fact that this quintet has been working together regularly for 12 months is beginning to pay off.

Word of the year (according to Jax):  dynamics! 

Brian Nelson showed up at 10:30 and helped us considerably to refine and pay attention to our overall sound.  Brian made some excellent suggestions -- he will be at the mixing desk for both the Firehouse show and for the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts show. 


* * *

Arrived home at 11:40pm.    Only new 63 emails waiting.  Need to send a fax to a potential BTV artist this evening too.   12:43am now.    Should have called Bill right when I got home.   Too late now.  

He may be watching TV, and I'd hate to interrupt.

* * *

This late night stuff can't go on much longer.  

Can it?

* * *

Thursday January 20

4:03am - just got home.    7:30am meeting at Venture Law - that would be in three hours.  Such a strange roller-coaster onto which I have leapt. 

What is the sound of one shit hitting a fan?  What is the value of a handshake? 

Perhaps I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles such are promises.  All lies and jest. Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

* * *

Raining outside.   Sun shining inside.

* * * 

Today was a significant day.  Tomorrow is an important day.  

The stories I could tell.  

Friday January 21

What have I done?   My eyes are slowing sinking deeper into my skull with every sleepless night that goes by.   Welcome to life in an internet start-up.

Up at 6:45am to put some finishing touches on an important Powerpoint presentation this morning.  I heard that Scott McNealy at Sun Microsystems forbids Powerpoint presentations in his company.   Poor fool.

Powerpoint is actually a remarkable tool for bringing a potential project into focus.   Can I explain this complex system in 15 simple slides?   Can I remove what is unnecessary from this idea, from this sentence, from this process?

Of course, it sucks to be on the receiving end of a boing or shoddy presentation, but please don't blame the presentation tool.    Look at what Leonardo did with a pencil.

Actually, I would bet that presentations at Sun (with our without Powerpoint) are pretty boring.

* * * 

The work of last night and this morning was fruitful, but it will be a few days before the fruit is ripe.  One simple thing I have learned from many years of Guitar Craft practice: patience.  

* * *

My personal email box continues to grow -- here is a quick survey of my bulging mailbox:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 7:12 AM
Subject: Link exchange?

> Hey Steve,

> this Eivind Lorentzen... remember me? (Norwegian crafty, used to wear a cap, now > timely shaven as everybody else?).

> I writing you to propose that our fabulous small record companies exchange links. 
> Give it some thought.


> Eivind:

I met Eivind many years ago on a series of Guitar Craft course in Europe and Norway.  I even have some pictures of Eivind in his famous black cap.   I have not had time to check out his website yet, but his mail reminds me of the great times I spent in Norway.  I distinctly remember playing "Bicycling to Afghanistan" with Victor McSurely and Arch Jones for Robert and Toyah.  I believe I was only wearing underwear.   I can't remember how or why this happened.   But I it was during a meal.

* * *

Nice email from Dan Kirkdorffer yesterday too.  I owe Dan a phone call and lunch next week.  

Also, good news from Brock this evening: he's going to Vancouver to mix and complete his Brocksongs CD next week.  More power to him.  Wish I could be there.  

I have prior commitments.   Did you notice?  

* * *

Speaking of Victor, I wonder what "envesseled" means?  

I'm not sure I feel "envesseled" in Seattle, but I certainly feel more connected to the various other GC diarists than I did a few months ago.  Especially those who I work and play with everyday.   For me, these diaries are a useful tool for bringing a richer context to our interactions.  

It really is a practical form of contact at a distance.   

At times, I'm sure I go too far, and say too much in these pages.  But, why pretend or hide who I am, part of which is reflected in how I am when I sit down to face this blank page?  My bloated-ego and non-sensical intensity must be already obvious to everyone I meet anyway.   Why hide it here?   

Even my cranky, witless, spew-meister, drummer buddie, Wilbur Rieflin, and I seem to be in an unintentional contest out do each other's daily faux pax (plural?) in these diaries.

* * * 

Victor and I were on GC14 together in June of 1986.   There are many stories to tell about our time together at Claymont, Red Lion House, and at various GC courses across Europe.   But not tonight.

* * *

Another 1:30 evening.  Sitting at Curt's in the morning. I should be destroyed, yet I remain calm, committed, and convinced that there is guidance coming from above.   I trust in this so deeply, that I will sleep like a baby tonight, despite the apparent chaos in the air.

Late night pizza with Curt and David -- more strategies for changing the world.   Human Nature 101: anyone can handle the good times; how we deal with the hard times is the true measure of our worth.

Missed WilbuR playing with Minus5 at the Crocodile due to this late night strategy and planning meeting.   Really wished to see Frankie, who I had spoken to briefly earlier today.   

So many people.   So little sleep.

* * *

Just remembered that my Mom called yesterday -- I owe her a phone call -- so badly.  I am a terrible son -- I don't call her enough.  On top of that, I have not even told my parents yet that I have left the borg for a high-speed ride in dot-com-land.   I have not quite had the energy to absorb the reaction.  Tomorrow, when I am fresh, I will call Mom and Dad, ask them to sit down, and let them know that I have abandoned my secure, respected, successful position in the Windows shell team to join a frenetic, high-falutin' music start-up company that does not own the copyright in any artist's work.     

I think my Dad will understand.  Obviously, this new company is pretty risky compared to the high-visibility  career I had carved out at the borg over the past four years.  Ah well.   

Life is short.   Go for it I must.

* * *

Saturday January 22

Sitting this morning at Curt's -- another full house: Curt, BillR, FrankS,  ChrisG, DerekD, JohnH, TobinB, TravisM, SB.   Something in the sitting becomes easier for me when the numbers in the room go above four.  Not sure why.  Somehow, the energy in the room this morning felt very fresh, even though we were all simply sitting on the floor quietly for 1/2 hour.

* * *

I'm such an idiot.   I did not phone my mom yet.  JT reminded me tonight after the Mr. Spots gig that I owe her a phone call.  Another one of the freaky results of keeping a public diary of otherwise private thoughts.

I was also supposed to call BillR today, and completely forgot amidst a day of entertaining and working with a potential BTV employee who is visiting Seattle from LA.   

* * *

The show at Mr. Spots tonight was a quiet smash.  The highlight was when the person behind the counter (I wish I could remember her name -- duh -- hopefully she will email me and tell me...) got up on stage with a guitar and proceeded to stun the entire audience in the room with an amazing version of Bobbie McGee (sp?)

Murray Kappel, GC US registrar, and old friend is visiting Seattle, and it was great that he had a chance to see this action in Seattle.   For years, I have been telling him that 'something' is going on here.  Tonight, I did not have to tell him anything - he could see it for himself. 

* * *

It was fun to play with Curt and Peter this evening -- these guys make it look so easy.    I feel so blessed to have such talented, loving, and supportive friends here.   It was also great to be able to look up and see Bob and Jax smiling out in the audience -- even though I would have wished that they were on stage.   But they needed a night off.  It's going to be a busy few weeks just ahead.

At one point while I was playing 'message in a bottle' I was feeling totally 'naked' (even though Curt and Peter were providing excellent and inspired rhythmic backup.)   

For those who have never done this, it really is quite difficult to stand up on a stage with a room full of your close friends looking at you, and play and sing a pile of songs that they have heard a bazillion times before.     

In this case, how to bring an innocence and life into these songs?   By not trying to.  Just do.  Just play.  Go for it.    

Simple stuff to think about.  Really hard to execute.

Where to find the energy and courage to simply go for it? Hot chocolate before the set helped.  Singer-rules, schmules.    Warm milk before singing always helps me for some reason.

About halfway through Bob's requested 'love song,'  I remember wishing that I was out there sitting in the audience, and the Bob and the BWExperience were   onstage.  

Can't wait to hear and see what they have cooking.

There was also a moment during that last song (which I usually play on my Taylor, but tonight was clumsily delivered on my Ovation) when the sounds from the kitchen provided an energizing counterpoint to the song that was struggling to come out on stage. 

I can never tell how or if this song works.  All I know is I feel a great kinship with Jonatha Brooke in general, and with this song in particular.   Jonatha is the shit.  

I have no idea what Ethan thought of the show or of the people I introduced him to this evening.  Kind of surreal for me to bring BTV potential into the world of the extended SGC community.  

Without a doubt, the barista stole the show.  

* * *

After the Mr. Spots show, I went out with TravisM, JohnH, JTM, and EthanJ to the 'rainbow' - the goal was to show Ethan another side of Seattle night life, and to aid him in deciding about a potential move to Seattle.   

Not sure if it worked or not, but we had fun.  

Ethan and I engaged in a delightful conversation with two very friendly people, Jeanne and Mina.    For some reason, my feet took me across the room, and my mouth was compelled to open -- introduced myself to two complete strangers.    But something seemed right about this.  My heart was pounding like sledgehammer, and I felt an intense chemistry flowing in the room.   Uh, or something.  

Perhaps JT or John or someone who was more objective and standing watching from a distance saw something else.   Probably should not mention this in these pages.   Just going to get myself into trouble.  

Here I go again.  Telling it like I feel it, regardless of the repercussions. 

* * *

Sleeping in tomorrow.   Can't wait.  2:17am now.  Cell phone going off.  If you need me on Sunday, call me after noon.

* * *

Sunday January 23

A much needed day off from diary keeping.   One small note, however:    JT - I did call my parents today.   No problem.

* * *