i am sitting on the starboard
of your only way
back home


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Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Day In The Life

I have been inspired by a cool post by Chuck Anderson over at MusicianWages.com...he describes his day in the life as a working musician. He's got a very different day than anything I typically do, so I figured doing my own would not result in me being accused of plagiarism.

Today was a 12 hour day from when we hit the road to when we got back home. I woke up at about 8 AM. The gig was a private party, and it was 3 hours away, so we got some coffee and picked up a fellow musician and took the scenic route because most roads that are not I-35 are scenic around these parts. We spent most of the time talking and I did buy a Giddings newspaper whereupon the police blotter provided 15 minutes of entertainment because it consisted of things like, "A cow was reported wandering loose on CR 391. Deputy Durburger arrived on the scene and herded the cow into the pasture. It was all ok." I'm not lying.


About 30 minutes from our destination we heard a weird rumble. Susan pulled over and we had a smoking and shredded trailer tire. Luckily, Susan is not only a kickass musician, but pretty handy with a jack. We were on the road in 15 minutes.


We got to the gig, set up the PA, changed clothes, sound checked, and I handled some email stuff while I waited for the show to start because there was wifi!

Suz and Kevin
Yes that's Susan and Kevin Welch. Yes it was awesome.

It was fun and easy and I watched a good show and afterwards we packed it all back up and headed back. No flat tires on the drive home, just caffeine consumption. I had an hour drive back to Austin and now I'm blogging. It's almost midnight. Zzzz.

That's usually what a day is like when we leave home and return home in the same day. These days are rare, but appreciated.

During the week a typical day for me involves waking up as early as I can stand depending on how late I was up the night before...the first half of my week is spent trying to normalize my body clock and the second half of the week is usually spent destroying it again. That's ok. I still try and get 7 hours a night regardless.

Anyways, once I wake up an inject coffee into my veins, I'll handle email and do booking. I do best with booking if I have an expansive amount of time because while it is very analytic to map things and route things and put things on calendars, it is also a creative process and I like time to sit and think. I'll handle web site updates, blog, or do my own writing during the mornings, too. Sometimes it's erranding like mailing gig posters and the like...the post office is not my favorite place, but I like the do-it-yourself kiosk so I get out of there with as little human interaction as possible.

Then depending on the day I'll either go work at the music school (Red Leaf School of Music) from afternoon into the evening or go work for Dan at Rubicon Recording. (A thorough Rubicon post is forthcoming. It's really cool).

This past weekend we had a non-gig day, so Susan and I spent it registering for the Folk Alliance 2011 conference, arranging some travel plans for her, and making spreadsheets and plans for her new album release in February. Then we watched a Mae West movie because what else do you do after making spreadsheets?

It's a varied week every week and I like it that way. Sometimes it drives me nuts, but I've done the monotonous job thing before and I wouldn't trade this for anything. And now...about that bed time thing...tomorrow is here.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Tiny Fan Hands

My friend Josh just informed me that his daughter Lily is a big fan of Track No. 4 on For & Against. I like to get at them young. :) Also, that track is called "Drive Around," so when she's 16...watch out, Josh.

Tiny Fan Hands


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Green Chile on the Road

Yay 505 Chile!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Record Groove Sky

Record Scratch Sky

I took this somewhere outside El Paso. The clouds looked like record grooves to me. There's a great DJ in the sky, apparently.

This weekend was good...we went to San Angelo (see previous LOCKED IN THE BATHROOM post), Lubbock, and Amarillo.

I commented to Susan that we are usually either coordinating a stunning execution of pull up to the gig/load in gear/change clothes/sound check/walk dogs/set up merch in a record 7 minutes and 46 seconds, or we have hours to kill for well, hours. (We are actually ALWAYS punctual and early, but our degrees of early change and make for less hectic load ins sometimes). In Lubbock we had hours to kill, which was nice. I laptopped at the venue, we walked the dogs around the venue neighborhood which happened to contain a mall. It's good we had stuff to do or I would have dropped my paycheck on crap at Dillards out of boredom. I work like that sometimes.

The Amarillo show was great as usual, as Susan has a crack team of musicians up there and they do a great band show. The drive home from Amarillo yesterday was long, though I killed maybe the first 3 hours reading out loud from the New Yorker (my favorite magazine because it's interesting and it costs $6 but it takes me like 5 hours to read, so that's cheap entertainment, and then I get to say things like "I read in The New Yorker...").

It was the Thanksgiving food issue, so I informed Susan and the dogs about such things like making borscht, pickled cabbage, a roadhouse in New Orleans that hasn't changed since 1962 or something like that, and gastropubs in NYC. After a while my throat got scratchy and now I have a lot more respect for talk show hosts, because I was not cut out to talk for 3 hours straight. However, I will train so that I can do it more, because I like reading and Susan likes books on tape, which I am almost akin to except she doesn't have to change the disc every 60 minutes.

We had a headlight out, and we got pulled over twice by very nice officers who informed us of such fact. We also needed to decide where to eat dinner.

"Where do you want to eat?"
"I don't care."
"Oh, we're being pulled over. I'll pull into this Dairy Queen."
(Nice officer interlude).
..."Wanna eat at Dairy Queen?"

Sometimes these things just get decided for us, which I prefer to making decisions sometimes. While in line at the DQ, Susan decided that in the future, she will refuse me my per diem on food unless I order things in my old man New Yorker accent. I will either starve or get over my fear of public humiliation in fast food restaurants. Updates forthcoming. I told her I would start by being British, though, and work my way up to old man.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Trapped In the Bathroom.

Last night in San Angelo was eventful. We played a great venue called The House of Fifi Dubois, which is a stellar retro/antique store with a bar and a stage in the back of it. It's in a huge downtown building that is 100 years old itself...very cool. Those folks do it right.

So then we got to our motel, looking forward to cable TV and a bed. Susan went in the bathroom and before too long I hear the door handle jiggling and Susan yells that she is stuck. The knob was not engaging the thing that makes the door open. I said, "HOLD ON! LET ME GOOGLE IT!" Because that is what I do. So I googled how to pop a lock with a credit card and it worked and Susan rejoiced and we thought that was funny. She had to go walk to dogs who had been in the car for 8 hours, and I was going to settle myself in.

My Temporary Home

So I go in the bathroom and shut the door a little bit but not completely, and I take a shoe off and while doing that...I lean into the door.

And Susan's words echo in my head..."We're going on a fairly long walk."

Fairly. Long. Walk.

Nothing on my person...no phone, no hotel key card to jimmy it.

This will not do. I will not be stuck in the motel bathroom for "fairly long."

The first course of action is to jiggle and yank on the door. This is not doing anything. I look around; there's not much in a motel bathroom. There is a little wrapped bar of soap, so I unwrap it and see if I can make a stiff enough piece of paper to jimmy it. No dice. I toss the soap.

Guitar Pick Screwdriver

I do always carry guitar picks in my pocket, and there are two screws on the knob. The next 40 minutes is spent slowly, one quarter turn at a time while sitting on the motel bathroom floor...unscrewing the screws. The top one comes pretty easily and freedom was in sight. The bottom one just kept unscrewing and unscrewing. I got bored. I got lightheaded from angling my head in an upwards but sideways fashion while moving a metal screw millimeters at a time. I decided there was one more recourse.

The Screw

I ripped the check out time placard off the bathroom door (I had already half dismantled the knob so I figured what's a little more property damage?). It was a plastic-y material and I thought that might be able to handle the credit card trick. Nope. Back to unscrewing with a guitar pick.


Then I just gave up and figured that Susan would be done with her walk soon. I stood there, sending telepathic messages of "DISCOMFORT! LOCKED! TRAPPED!" hoping that she would somehow pick up on the vibes. It's worth a shot.

I started planning out my little life in the bathroom. I had water. I had a towel, I could make a little pillow. I could do chin ups on the towel bar to stay in shape. The acoustics were good so I could work on my singing. Maybe I could write a novel on the wall by scratching words with my guitar pick. Maybe I could burrow through the floor, or move the ceiling tiles like in Jurassic Park.

Then Susan came back in the room.


"...Oh no."

She did the credit card trick (it works way faster if you're on the outside using the card FYI). She then went to complain at the desk but there was no manager. We will see how this plays out but I'm hoping for at leasy 40 free nights. I won't name the chain. (Spotel Mix).


Susan promptly tweeted the happenings, and then we laaaaaaaaughed. It's good to have a friend on the road for when you get locked in the bathroom.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Ye Olde Alma Mater

I took a minute to stop and take some photos at UNM since I am home for Thanksgiving. The University of New Mexico is one of the prettiest campuses I have been on (if you like adobe)...Fall is the best time!

UNM Campus
Where I went for financial aid stuff...

University of New Mexico
The main drag

The Honors Building where I took a Gallows Humor class


Friday, November 19, 2010

A little Ritalin

K-Le and Jpo

Must. Focus. And. Do. Work. Pretty excited to go home to New Mexico for the holiday, but it's not the holiday yet and I gotta get stuff done. A little focus for all our Friday mornings pre-Thanksgiving! Katie sings on this one and adds that just right ambient tension to the vocals. Yay Katie!

Ritalin by janapochop

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birthday (Observed)

My birthday was on Monday this week, but we had a house concert scheduled at our friends Amy and Cheryl's house on Sunday, so we kind of just made Sunday a birthday day as well.

We used some of my stickers for a birthday sash until I tripped on it. I'm clutzy.

Susan Drew Me a Cake
Susan drew me a cake. It was good but chalky.

My friends Katie Lessley and Havilah came all the way from Austin to hang out and sing! Because it was my birthday and that means I'm special and can demand things, I had Susan and Katie and Havilah come up and sing on a couple of tunes with me. It was pretty smokin' spectacular. One day I will afford them all as my permanent band and we will tour in a Prevost and take the folk world by storm. Wait, folk artists and Prevosts don't usually mix. We might have to sell out a little, girls. It's ok, the bus will be fancy.

Susan, Jana, Katie, Havilah in Harmonics

Jpo, Havilah, Katie

Susan and Linda
Who doesn't want a Susan Gibson show for their birthday?
Who doesn't know what I'm talking about?

Thanks to everyone at the house concert and to my buddies for singing and to Amy and Cheryl for hosting us all! On my real birthday I worked and Katie made me pasta (yessss!) and I went to bed early, haha. Too much excitement for this old 28-year-old. Bring me my lap afghan.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We had a swell time in Houston this weekend. Susan played in Boerne (San Antonio) on Thursday and then we just hoofed it to our friends in Tomball (north Houston) so we could wake up where we needed to be instead of waking up somewhere we didn't need to be. Always a good rule of thumb.

Rock Star!
The Gene Simmons of folk.

We caffeinated up and headed to KPFT for "Wide Open Spaces" with Roark, the coolest DJ on the planet. His show is named after that one song that Susan wrote you may have heard of it, so that's cool. If you check out their Facebook Fan Page you can see all the videos from the interview.

The static and the blur: an interpretation. Photo by Melissa Noble!

Then we killed some time in a park whereupon I laptopped on a picnic table and it was a lovely day. Then we headed over to the house of some fine friends who made us DINNER oh my that is always a perk. Thanks Nancy Jane, Leslie, and Jim!

Ladies of Houston!
Nancy Jane, Susan, Leslie, and moi...songwriter girls unite!

THEN we headed to an awesome concert series called Heights Live! right in the middle Houston. These folks have created a listening room in the fellowship hall of a church, and then in the set intermission they SERVE PIE. Um hello? Folk music and pie?

The version of Susan's "Perfect World" that we did all Vaudeville style when Susan's arm was broken was requested, so I got my strum on. It's been so long since we have done it that was I was hoping I didn't forget it, but the I realized Susan has the hard part and all I have to do is...strum. So that was fun. I'm glad she has 2 arms again, though.


And then we drove to Dallas. Thank you, Houston, for your kind hospitality! And check out Heights Live if you're in the area...great folks. And listen to KPFT, too.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photo Perfect

Jana Pochop
Photo copyright 2010 by Machelle Dunlop

The idea of getting photos taken scares the daylights out of me. I think I feel kind of unnatural when I know I'm supposed to pose but look natural but not think about it but "this has to go on a poster." So I put off photos for a while.

Luckily, my friend and awesome photographer Machelle Dunlop came to my rescue. We worked together at the county government back when I first moved to town, and I was the admin/singer-songwriter down the hall and she was the admin/photographer and we BOTH quit the government grind and she takes photos and I play music. It's pretty fun to think about.

Since I know and love Machelle, and since she is so good at making folks comfortable, I had a great time hanging out with her last month and taking some photos around Austin. She had scouted this awesome bush in the middle of an empty parking lot, and it looks like we're in some foreign land...there's a bit of it on the right of this photo.

Jana Pochop
Photo copyright 2010 by Machelle Dunlop

I won't give away what this structure is that I'm standing in, but I will say we probably trespassed for the half hour we were there, haha. I really enjoyed watching Machelle work because she thinks like a photographer...songwriters are observant folk but it's different when one's art is so visual. Machelle saw cool textures in walls and trees and investigated what looked to me like empty parking lots and suburban dullness that turned up lots of great little locales for photos.

Jana Pochop
Photo copyright 2010 by Machelle Dunlop

So there we go. I'm stll trying to re-design my website to where I'm happy with it (now I'm picky) and I can't wait to integrate these shots. Here's one more, it's metaphorical for all the traveling this year!

Jana Pochop
Photo copyright 2010 by Machelle Dunlop

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Monday, November 8, 2010



Breakfast in OKC was not only red fruit juices, but they started things out well. Mine was the tiny glass of grapefruit. I need to partake in grapefruit more. We found a dog park, which is kind of a fascinating study in human/canine interaction. The dogs were coolest with each other when their owners were cool about everyone hanging out. There was one harmless pesky puppy and one little guy that tried to pin everyone else down who was twice his size. A lot can be learned about human psychology in a dog park.

More fun in Fort Worth watching Susan songswap with Elizabeth Wills. E-Dub, as I have taken to calling her with absolutely no permission from Elizabeth herself...is absolutely one of the most fantastic singer-songwriters I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. She's also a gem of a person and has helped us out here at Team SG quite a bit.

Elizabeth Wills and Susan Gibson

Still getting the hang of this new iPhone 4...I love it. It takes pretty awesome photos. My night photos with the other one were usually pretty blurry. The fact that you can see this scene below without feeling carsick (desksick?) is a testament to how cool this phone is. One day I'll stop gushing but not any time soon.

Downtown Fort Worth

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Songwriters Serenade Video!

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Saturday, November 6, 2010


Lots of...action figures.

Right, so this is my first blog with photos from an iPhone 4, which will heretofore be known as the GREAT MAGICAL WONDER GADGET. I love it. Thank you, you know who you are.

Anyway, we had an unplanned day off in Oklahoma because of an unfortunate gig cancelation, but hey those things happen. We were on the road no more than 20 minutes looking for protein for breakfast when we saw on the sign for the Pauls Valley exit that there was an Action Figure Museum. Excuse me?

Susan: "Whaaat?"
Susan: "Do you want to go?"

Action Figure Museum

Yeah, we went. Turns out, this guy who is an artist and lives in Pauls Valley...really like action figures. So he turned his collection into a whimsical museum. Maybe the brightest colored museum I have ever been to.

Behold the wonder!

Wall O' Action
Just a sliver of the main display wall...

There was much nostalgia to behold...Ninja Turtles were my thing. I had to explain that I went through a variety of favorites (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael...sorry, Michaelangelo). There were Batman displays and Star Trek and Star Wars and Mickey Mouse and DC Comics and Marvel Comics and even Spinal Tap action figures. Phew.


I walked away amazed at the amount of merchandising that goes into all of these big name cartoons and movies. I knew it, but to see ALL of it displayed at once was mind-numbing. Down to the underwear.

Today it's a show in Oklahoma City! I wonder what kind of randomness we'll encounter...

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vision Board

Dan's not done with me yet, oh no. Technically I have kind of...run my Folk Music Grad School course. I hesitate to say that because my work is never done, but I have studied with Dan for a solid 3 years now. I think my progress has been beyond anything I could have hoped for...some of it planned specifically when we started and some of it being surprises that neither of us could have planned.

I am a better singer, I am a better guitar player, I am a more developed writer. I just finished my 2nd EP. My income is entirely derived from the music business, in whatever pieced-together fashion...it works. This is a far cry from the slightly clueless county government administrative assistant who walked into Dan's office three years ago.

Like I said, there are always new challenges and Next Steps, for me and for Dan. I am currently working with him on his amazing new business, which I will unveil when I write a more specific blog post about it soon. (Vagueries!) He's working on his music and art, too -- and his mentor assigned him the task of a vision board. Of course he told me to do one, too. (Here's a really good post about vision boards from blogger Christine Kane, who is a songwriter-turned-guru...).

Vision Board

It was fun to rip apart magazines looking for stuff that applied to my goals. Now, my caveat is that I have two types of magazines lying around:

1. Somewhere along the line I got subscribed to Forbes and have been receiving them for a year without ever paying them a dime. Thank you, Forbes.

2. I buy guitar magazines sometimes but usually because I want an article in them, so I have a hard time cutting those up.

Out of the Forbes I found a lot of ads and article titles that seemed to apply. I'd like to make a decent amount of money...a comfortable amount. I don't need a Lear Jet (though I joke that if I am to pick up Lady Gaga for our duet shows, I might need a Lear Jet)...but I'd like a house and some awesome guitars and the ability to not have to stress about cash. So there are those types of goals. And then there are the cut-outs that pertain to travel, because I do love it and won't stop any time soon. And there is the one about being a web phenom, because...well, I like the word phenom. And some iPads and other gadetry because I am a nerd. The only thing I couldn't find a photo of in Forbes was a Grammy, but it's implied.

I recommend a vision board just because...it's good to dream a little and hang it on the wall and be reminded why you are working so hard at 6 AM or 1 PM or 2 AM or whenever you work.

Now I gotta find a picture of a Lear Jet....

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Essential Dixie Chicks

I won't lie. It's kind of cool that this album being released has a tiny impact on my own working life. If anything, it is something cool for Susan to discuss because see that sticker with the song titles on it? ONE OF THEM IS HERS. Awesome.

The Essential Dixie Chicks

My Dixie Chicks history is long and not-so-storied. I remember the music video of them sitting on an airport baggage claim spinny thing - their big debut. I don't remember the first time I heard "Wide Open Spaces," though. I owned the album long before I ever heard of Susan (apparently I didn't read liner notes much). I liked that they played their own instruments.

I do remember being super excited about buying Fly (their second album) when it came out, so I was a hardcore fan by then...sometime in high school. I didn't see them live until I moved to Austin in 2006 for their Taking The Long Way release tour; it was awesome. I had just moved to town really and didn't know anyone well enough to have a concert buddy yet. It's weird to go to a big show like that by yourself, but then again, I wasn't going to pay attention to anything or anyone but what was happening on stage anyway.

As I started to realize how Austin-based much of their circle is...from Terri Hendrix's composition Lil' Jack Slade (also on the Essentials list) to getting to know Lloyd Maines, it made me like them more. They are surrounded by good folks. I am fortunate to be surrounded by some of those good folks, too, all without ever having met any of the DC's themselves. They have continued to be musical pioneers, championing great songwriters and being great songwriters themselves. Sticking to their morals when mob political hysteria got ridiculous. Being all around hard-working creative folk.

And for that I will quote Susan and what she says every night at every gig..."Thank you, Dixie Chicks!" Amen.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Last October Weekend

Oh it's good to be back in Texas. I liked the Southeast. But I like seeing folks I know at the shows and that does not happen in states where I've never been before. We traveled to Navasota, Houston, and Port Aransas this past weekend. Port A might be one of of my favorite places ever...it has the lovely Third Coast Theater, lots of pastel houses on the beach, and even more nice folks that come to the show than pastel houses.

Susan Gibson in Port Aransas

Third Coast is where Terri Hendrix hosts her songwriting workshop every year, and so my first few times in Port A were spent in songwriting bliss. Large poster-sized photos of the artists that play there line the walls, and of course The Boss is up there...so it's even more cool to return to the workshop scene in a work capacity for Susan. I should have made her pose next to her giant portrait. No, I shouldn't have.

One thing that maybe I haven't shared is that when I am feeling punchy, which is most of the time because hey, life is good - I burst into spontaneous accents. Not around everyone. Actually, usually just in the car...so that means Susan and the dogs get the brunt of my accents. My favorites are my old-somewhat-New Yorker-cranky-man and my British. Not together, though I have tried to mesh them with disastrous results. Anyway, this weekend was so fun I was in accent-mode the whole time. Wot?

On Sunday we made it home in time to see porterdavis at Gruene Hall. It has been too long since I have seen Dan the Producer play, and what better place then Gruene? They rocked it.

Porterdavis at Gruene Hall

Today was a recovery day which was problematic because it was also Monday, and I was expected to start a new work week. I am bad at spacing things out. Holding out for a week off at Thanksgiving! And...onward.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Fors & Againsts

I did a little polling on Facebook about what folks were For and Against at that time of the day and hour...it was fascinating and funny and happy. Of course I made a podcast!

Check out the Store for your copy of For & Against...

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

In Search of A Song!

All right, y'all - I am stoked to be the winner of the Searchlight "In Search of A Song" Contest. Rich is the kind dude who did the interview with me, and he managed to make me sound not so rambly and incoherent! He's kind of a magician.

Check it out here, and support support support these fine folks! They're doing great things for musicians.

What's on my plate lately? Well, that EP came to fruition...you know, that one. Next step is a website overhaul. You won't recognize this thing soon!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's For & Against Day!

Um, whew. The EP is here. In Austin, anyway. It's being delivered to Red Leaf and I am not there yet. I should get there so I can have it and so UPS doesn't have to mess around. The tracking numbers claim it is HERE, though!

In honor of that, here's a ghetto music video montage. Because a purposefully ghetto video is better than an accidentally ghetto video, if you ask me.

Thanks so Dan, Katie, Suz, Emily, and David for making this happen - and thanks to all who have and will buy this little EP!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alabama is...Ala-mazing

Sunset in Orange Beach, AL

Right, so I explained that this is the exploratory tour to new rooms and new towns, which means there are just not as many people in the rooms we've gone to as we are used to in more pathworn venues like Texas and out west. So we've had a great time but sometimes...like a lot times...you just want a lot of people in the room.

Did I mention I bought boots before we left?

We found that on a Tuesday night in Orange Beach, Alabama. There's a fabulous venue/dance studio/classroom/artspace called Beach Cite Studios, located right on the pier in Orange Beach. The people came, they listened to the songs, they laughed at all the right times (which always shoots me in into the fantasy-land stratosphere that I too could compete on Last Comic Standing), they engaged in the music, they want us to come back. It was sublime in every way. We celebrated by watching Bravo and eating coconut M&M's at the hotel.

Susan Gibson at Beach Cite Studios in Orange Beach

Today is a day off before we go to Birmingham, and I am going to MAIL OFF MY TAXES! I spend 4 hours on them yesterday morning and wrapped them up. I have a confusing job/living/driving situation which makes them hard to do. Last year I had 2 employers, changed cars, and moved. Bleh. Anyway, they are done. Then I will go to the beach and investigate tarballs (haven't seen any but I haven't looked yet).

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