I’m currently reading Lean Thinking : Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones in my quest to learn more about lean principles in general.

During my reading this evening, I came across this quote that I really liked.

Perfection is like infinity. Trying to envision it (and to get there) is actually impossible, but the effort to do so provides inspiration and direction essential to making progress along the path.

This kind of reminds me of this Bruce Lee quote:

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

People tend to think of goal setting from only the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) perspective. While these goals are important, and give you an idea of short term goals, the idea of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as outlined in Jim Collins Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies are also very important, as they give you somewhere to move towards.

Just a little something I was thinking about this evening after reading that quote. Goals of the ‘Big Hairy Audacious’ type, with buy in and commitment from everyone, can be a really good way to drive behavior in a long term direction rather than keeping everything at an attainable and realistic viewpoint, which can often keep us in a very short term frame of mind.

Change of Focus

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve kind of slowed the volume of stuff being posted to the site. The reason for this is that I’ve been focusing pretty heavily on the podcast site lately. I’ve found that podcasting is something that I’m extremely interested in, know nothing about, and completely suck at — a perfect place to focus and learn something new.

Not only that, I enjoy the process of podcasting more than blogging. I find it to be a more “personal” medium. I find myself preparing more (not as much as I should, but definitely more than blogging).

So if the site looks like its getting stale, it probably is. This might change, or it might not. Lets see how quickly I get bored or burnt out with podcasting — and lets hope that if that does happen, it happens after I’ve hit my 20 podcast goal that I set with Andy.

In August of 2004 I wrote a post listing some of my favorite quotes. One of those was from a friend who once told me that “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly while you learn it”. I’m putting that one to the test here and seeing whether it holds water. Personally, I’m having fun with it.

The Randy Rhoads Grave Site Excursion

Randy Rhoads Grave Site - Closer

Tom and I are in Anaheim, CA on a business trip. Since we were somewhat in the neighborhood, we thought we would initiate a pilgrimage to the grave site of Randy Rhoads, one of my favorite guitarists. This visit, like the Bruce Lee grave visit three years ago was another one of those “things I need to do before I settle down for a dirt-nap” list items.

We did all of the pretravel prep and flew into Anaheim. After checking into the hotel, we hit the road to visit the site.

When we did the initial mapping of our route, we mapped the name “Mountain View Cemetery”, printed out the directions and never had a second thought about it. Until we got to Beaumont, CA, just outside of San Bernardino, CA.

Well, after a lot of driving and asking of directions we finally found the Mountain View Cemetery in Beumont, CA (there is one), but Randy Rhoads wasn’t buried there. We then figured, “well, maybe there is another Mountain View Cemetery in town”, so we asked around, stopping at a fire station (which was empty), and finally querying a local policeman after he finished issuing a ticket.

There was indeed another cemetery, and Tom put the pedal to the metal to get there before we lost daylight for picture taking. We got to the cemetery at the end of a dead end road, and, once again, Randy wasn’t buried there.

At this point, we needed someone with an internet connection so we called my lovely wife to figure out where the hell we went wrong. She confirmed that we were, indeed, in the wrong town. Since daylight was gone, we started the 60+ mile drive back to Anaheim. Needless to say we were a tad disappointed that our quest went unfulfilled.

On Sunday, after the conference sessions, we embarked on another attempt to find the grave site, this time with directions that Jonna was sweet enough to email to me last night. A short 50 minute drive later we pulled into the cemetery in San Bernardino, CA, found the monument (which is right inside the gates) and paid our respects.

The grave was something to behold, most of all because it’s quite obvious as you look around that people visit there pretty frequently. It was reminicent of the Bruce Lee grave visit, as we found incense and fresh flowers there as well. This monument was covered in lipstick left by fans (I’m assuming female), and there was even a note left inside the monument under the bench. It was a very cool experience.

As we were heading back to the car, after taking all of our pictures, a car drove up and stopped in front of the monument. A young couple got out of the car with their small son, and walked up to the grave and also paid their respects. I just had to take a picture of it from the car, I thought it was so cool. After 23 years, people still stop just to pay their respects to this young guy who made such a mark with his playing, and his love of the instrument.

We got some great pictures, which I’ve posted in a photo set on Flickr. We also learned a valuable lesson:

Make sure you know where you are going, EXACTLY, before you print out directions. If you aren’t 100% sure, ask your wife. Left on our own, the original road trip that Tom and I went on was extremely reminicent of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

Update on August 7, 2005

Find the site on Google Earth.

Meeting Steve Vai – The EVO Experience

Ron with Steve Vai Last night Steve Vai and his band The Breed (Billy Sheehan, Tony MacAlpine, Dave Weiner, and Jeremy Colson) hit Chicago on the Real Illusions: Reflections tour.

This time around Steve put together a special package for his fans in which, for an extra fee, you were able to attend a meet and greet with him, where he would hold a Q&A session with you, and then you would attend the soundcheck before the concert. The package is called the EVO Premium Experience.

It was absolutely amazing.

The total number of people to purchase the package looked to be about 20-30. This made for a very intimate environment in which we could ask Steve questions and just sit and listen to him answer them. The whole discussion was fascinating, especially around one question asked about inspiration and how he comes up with the music he writes. Steve tried to explain the process, in which he visualizes the song in seconds, and in some cases it takes months to realize the original vision. Listening to him describe this process was incredible. You constantly wanted to pinch yourself to make sure you weren’t dreaming.

Steve is a very gracious host and consistently attempts to make eye contact with everyone he is talking to. The Q&A was extremely intimate and worth the extra money in and of itself.

As an added bonus, the people in the room now know the “secret” to the Secret Jewel Box box set we had bought in 2001 and have been collecting as the CD’s come out. I’ll leave that for you to figure out though.

Once the Q&A ended, we were escorted to the main stage where we were allowed to watch and take pictures of the soundcheck as it was happening. This included the whole band and was really cool to watch. I’ve never seen a soundcheck before and I was amazed at a lot of the things that go on during it. What is most amazing is that as Steve was on the stage, he was telling the sound guy the exact adjustments to make to the sound board. I guess that just shows the ear that the guy has.

Autographed Ultra Zone CDWhen the soundcheck concluded, Steve signed autographs on guitars and CD’s. Jonna had bought a special copy of Ultra Zone for him to sign (pictured to the left), as our wedding song was “I’ll Be Around” from this CD. She told him this as he was signing it and he said she was the third person to tell him that they had used that song for their wedding.

Once the EVO portion of the day was over, we took a break, where we had to take the camera back to the car and wait until the concert started. The opening act was Eric Sardinas. I’m not a big fan, so I was rather impatient for the Vai band to get on the stage. Eric played for about 40 minutes and then the stage went dark as we waited for the band to come out.

The concert was incredible. They did a perfect mix of the material off of all of the albums (except Ultra Zone). The highlight of the show for me was finally being able to see “Whispering a Prayer” and “Lotus Feet” live. These beautiful songs are, in my opinion, the essence of Steve Vai as a musician and, after the experience yesterday, as a person as well. Being in the front row just capped off the experience.

I need to also add that the band that Steve has put together is the “Dream Team” of music. You couldn’t dream of a better band than the five guys that were running around that stage.

There are very few times in life when dreams come true. I have idolized Steve Vai since I was a sophmore in high school and had my first exposure to him through a release of “Blue Powder” in a Guitar Player Magazine insert. I have followed him through the David Lee Roth days, through Whitesnake, and through all of his solo albums. The thought of ever meeting him was one of those things that I never thought would have been possible.

Actually meeting him was surreal. Rather than having an image built up of someone and meeting them only to have the image crushed, Steve Vai lives up to the image. He is a very sweet, humble, down to earth guy who is extremely appreciative of his fans and recognizes the importance they hold for him in their lives. The importance of music in his life is also something you cannot walk away from him without seeing.

This experience is something I will never forget. I have now completed another one of those “things to do before I die” items on my list.

Thanks Steve, for the great memory.