Boston and the ROCKMAN Affect

“The sound that ignited rock & roll . . . strikes again!”

Necessary equipment for fun! Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Greetings and welcome in to this edition of Zero528!


1. influence, sway; modify, alter.

2. touch, stir.

Regarding the rock band Boston, Tom Scholz,’ and the ROCKMAN guitar amplifier’s positive affect on me and my life…the definition noted above says it all.

Boston Memories – How it all began

At 12 years of age I saw Boston in concert. The year? 1979. The place? Iowa City, IA.

My brother Dave and I endured a seemingly never ending bus ride from southern Iowa to Iowa City to visit family during spring break. I can’t recall how, but we got the news that Boston would be in concert at the Iowa (Hawkeye) Field House while we were in town. Choice!

Boston 1979 tour program w-tic to show-1I had never been to a concert, let alone a rock & roll concert with an estimated 10,000+ people in attendance. I had heard Boston songs on the radio of course, and my siblings owned and played Boston records (and 8 tracks) . . . anyway, my life has never been the same.

Don’t Look Back

Witnessing Boston live with the original line up was a simply amazing experience – Tom, Brad, Barry, Fran, and Sib. The 1979 tour was in support of their second release, Don’t Look Back (my favorite Boston song). I’ve since had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau, corresponding with former Boston drummer Doug Huffman, and thoroughly enjoying four additional Boston concerts over the course of many years – each one a real treat!

Notice the flames which were removed from the final Don’t Look Back album cover art.

Back to the Iowa Field House . . .

While Dave, our friend Doug Fox, and I were standing in line to get our tickets, some guy tried to pick-pocket me. I was wearing bib overalls, so I immediately stuffed my wallet into the front chest pocket so as to avoid any other attempts to steal it. We didn’t have a chaperone – didn’t even know we needed one, and so another fella in line behind us was quick to state that the three of us “were with him”…whew!

Upon receiving our tickets we noticed everyone else scrambling up the stairs to the general admission seats – so, we followed suit- realizing very quickly our ticket seat numbers didn’t mean a thing. Cheap Trick was the opening act – if my memory serves me correctly. I remember vividly the music was quite loud – so much so that we temporarily lost most of our hearing for nearly three days. Of course we thought that was neat.

The highlight of the evening for me was of course Tom Scholz conducting his mastermind wizardry on the guitar and keyboard/Hammond B3 organ (cloaked in a cape – like a vampire during one segment). These images became etched in my memory, but it wasn’t until modern day YouTube videos was I able to truly relive those fantastic moments.

A little research of my own

On into my teenage years, I was a Boston fanatic. I learned to play the drums but realized it was hard to write a song (and melody) on the drums. So, I also learned to play guitar and owned a Gibson Les Paul and ROCKMAN x100 (described below).

I purchased Boston posters and any other Boston paraphernalia I could find to adorn my bedroom. Converse Chuck Taylor’s even made it onto my feet. I had glued gold glitter onto them to resemble the image plastered on the inside album cover of Don’t Look Back. The better part of those years was spent desperately searching/investigating information about Boston’s highly anticipated third album.

A small portion of the Boston memorabilia I had collected all those years ago. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

What had happened to the band? Why was it taking so seemingly long for them to release another album?

The internet hadn’t yet come into being, so I delved into the periodical section of my high school library. Instead of doing my homework, I spent my time looking up Scholz or Boston in the appendix. I peeked into every guitar magazine I could find at the local book store seeking clues about the band’s status. I was desperate. Desperate to discover the status of the band because I had heard the “sound of music” changing before my very ears – becoming “pop.” I needed Boston – to protect rock & roll from dying.

The Arrival… awaiting the next “Boston”

But, it wasn’t just me who was curious about the status of the band – as I recall reading, even recording industry A & R executive’s comments eluded to seeking/finding the “next” Boston – of which many bands with a similar line up  – two guitars, lead singer, bass player, and drummer – came out of the woodwork like termites. Multiple bands popped up by the baker’s dozen including Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Ratt, the Scorpions, Whitesnake, Poison, etc . . . in my opinion, to fill a huge hole that had been vacated by Boston.

Powered by ROCKMAN

In 1982 – Scholz Research and Development (SR&D) released their answer to Sony’s Walkman – except it wasn’t a radio/cassette player, it was a miniature guitar amplifier the size of a “peanut butter sandwich.” Through the mini headphones or plugged into another speaker source, this series of amplifiers known affectionately as the ROCKMAN, enabled guitarists to achieve similar guitar tones found on Boston recordings including various distortion levels which were previously only attainable at high volume levels. Along with the distortion tones, which were noted in a review as being “church-friendly,” others could  be individually dialed-in to achieve a host of sounds from clean to edge and chorus effects.

NOTE: Prior to SR&D’s line of modules (Power Soak, ROCKMAN, etc.), guitarists had to set their amplifier volumes on high/10 to achieve sought after distortion levels – not an ear-friendly situation.

Simple yet Complex

The answers I finally discovered, as for the delay of the third album (Third Stage), were simple and quite complex at the same time. One, Tom Scholz is a perfectionist and makes albums slowly . . . very slowly and two, during his attempts to produce Third Stage he, his band-mates, and their management company were being sued by CBS/Sony/Epic Records for not fulfilling the contract to have produced a third album – this according to CBS’ timetable. SR&D also became Scholz’ platform which to generate revenue in defense of the CBS lawsuit against him.

Triumph – David over Goliath

After a long battle, Scholz was finally able to provide sufficient evidence in US District Court which indicated that no matter how slowly he was working on the highly anticipated third Boston album . . . he was working on the album. Therefore, it became apparent that CBS was in fact guilty of “breaking the recording contract” when, in their attempts to force Scholz to produce the third album, illegally withheld royalty payments to Scholz which had been and were being earned and generated from the sales of Boston’s first two albums.

Third Stage

Finally, Third Stage was released in 1986 on MCA Records. The album instantly shot to #1 on the Billboard charts and produced a #1 hit, Amanda. I raced to Texas Tapes and Records to purchase my copy of the album…the unmistakable sound of Boston was solidified in my mind upon hearing the riff and G-string double bend embedded in the song “Cool the Engines.” Whoa! Boston was BACK.

A Pioneer

Scholz’ contributions to music (better music through science), musicians, and the music industry business can be best described as colossal. Did he do it alone? No! Although an amazing and talented musician, writer, producer, and engineer – in my opinion – many other talented musicians influenced him and many individuals helped him achieve his vision of Boston.

Tom Scholz was a true inspiration to me, and I look forward to sharing some of my music with him one day soon. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

NOTE: Tom if you happen to be reading this, it’s on my bucket list to meet you. How about I treat you to one of my vegan fruit smoothies?

The author in the studio sporting a WYO Cowboys shirt and strumming a G & L ASAT powered by Orange Amps and an SR&D-Rockman XP100. Listen to  Zero528. Photo © 2017 M.R. Gonzalez

“Enjoy and keep a good thought!” Bob P.


Credit where credit is due:

Boston name and logo ™ 2017 Tom Scholz

ROCKMAN™ Jim Dunlop Corporation

Additional images of Scholz © as noted

Boston and Scholz images where NOT noted © 2017 Ron Pownall

RIP Brad Delp and Sib Hashian


Birdwatching Fundamentals

“Make no mistake, birdwatching as a hobby can be tremendously rewarding.”

Red-shouldered Hawk- male-002
Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) spying dinner. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Greetings and welcome in to Zero528!

As promised, this edition of my blog continues the theme of birdwatching (see previous post to discover binocular fundamentals).

Billion Dollar Industry
Make no mistake, birdwatching as a hobby can be tremendously rewarding. It has also become an extremely popular pastime – generating a Billion dollar industry.

According to a US Fish & Wildlife report (2013), information on the participation and expenditure patterns of 47 million birders in 2011 – the breakdown is as follows:

Trip-related and equipment-related expenditures associated with birding generated nearly $107 billion in total industry output, 666,000 jobs, and $13 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue. This impact was distributed across local, state, and national economies.

Simply “Make” the Time
As a Visual Merchandising Lead at L.L. Bean, I still make the time to use my wildlife ecology background by actively participating in the joy of birdwatching. The beauty of birdwatching is that it is NOT a requirement to be a scientist…ANYONE can use their basic observational skills to discover and question the wonders found in nature.

Birdwatching Fundamentals
Essential equipment:
1. Binoculars – 8x 42 and camera
Best for serious wildlife viewing and for use on boats. Full-size binoculars capture more light and perform better in low-light situations. They usually provide steadier images and a wider field of view, so they’re great for birdwatching, but they’re generally too big and heavy for backpacking.

Short-eared Owl
Cameras can be a nice edition to an outing but sometimes can be cumbersome, too. That said, I usually regret not having my camera with me – Moto: Better to have it and need it than to NOT have it and need or want it. Evidence trumped, the day I captured a short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) on the premises of the MSSU prairie – first time this species had ever been documented on the site. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

2. Field Guide – Birds, Songbirds, Eastern NA
Many field guides to birding exist. Here is a list of those most commonly used:
• Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central (or Western) North America
• Sibley Birds East – Field Guide to Birds of Eastern or Western North America
• National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern or Western Region
3. Field Notebook and pencils/Rite in the Rain pens
Now is the time to become a Naturalist – ha! Having a notepad and pen/pencil handy will assist in determining various species. Draw a small pic of the bird in question and take lots of notes – more on this later.
• L.L. Bean Field Notebook
• Rite in the Rain Notepad
• Pencils and/or Rite in the Rain pens

Northern bobwhite tracks
I was not able to capture an image of the northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) with my camera, so I settled for evidence of the covey having been present on the MSSU Prairie in Joplin, MO. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

4. Water
Remember to hydrate before, during, and after taking to the field.
5. Backpack
A backpack is a great way to carry essentials noted above, including a CLIF® bar or mix of nuts and dried fruit.

When, Where, and How to “birdwatch.”
Have fun with the decision to go birding. Communing with nature is always good for the soul and can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. I like to begin my early morning having already predetermined where I’m headed to “go birding” and what species I’m hoping to view. Perhaps I want to see some waterfowl…well, I best head to where the water is – a lake or large pond/stock tank or river. Perhaps I’m interested in viewing some neotropical migrant warblers. Well then, the timing of year must be right (early May for birds returning from South America) – brushy cover near a field/stream might work, and it could even be in an urban setting.
NOTE: I have previously documented 63 species (over a two-year period) from my backyard while living in a somewhat urban setting in Southwest Missouri.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers (Tyrannus forficatus) . . . one of my favorites. Ya never know which unique species may pass through your own backyard – “Stay observant my friends!” Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Firstly, to add to the enjoyment of an outing I note the following data in my field notebook: (also see SAMPLE NOTES below):
• Date – (e.g., 02/09/2017)
• Location – (e.g., USFS Dakota Prairie National Grasslands)
• Time – (e.g., 0600)
• Temperature – (e.g., 28° C)
• Weather – (e.g., winds S/SW @ 10 kph)

ANYTIME OF THE YEAR! The best times to bird are early mornings and later afternoon…feeding times for the birds. Don’t forget about spring migration (early May returning to breeding grounds) – one of the best times to view birds that are “just passing through.”

Passerina ciris- painted bunting-1
Have an enjoyable experience when birding… look up, look down and be patient. This painted bunting (Passerina ciris) was waiting for me when I turned a corner around a fence. I would have taken more photos but had forgotten to ‘charge’ my camera battery – lesson learned. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Birding can be conducted nearly anywhere. Set up a bird feeder outside the window at home and as the adage goes – If you build it they will come. Other birding areas include:
1. Wildlife refuges
2. Nature centers
3. State or city parks
4. Cemeteries – yes, especially if they are old and kind of grown over a bit
5. Backyards

Among the forbs and tallgrass of Prairie State Park (MO), sits a female Dickcissel (Spiza americana). Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Quietly and patiently- look and listen – use all observational skills. Alone or in small groups is best. I’ve found that when I’m still, the birds will come to me and/or reveal themselves – Look up, look down. Have the notebook and pencil handy…
Listen carefully for the bird songs or calls. Follow the bird song (auditory clues) to discover the species responsible until it is no longer necessary to positively identify the bird visually – could take multiple times.

Once a bird has been spied, look closely and note the following Four Keys to Identification:
1. Size and Shape – Jot down notes immediately by observing the bird’s basic topography:
Sparrow size
Robbin size
Crow size
Shape of body
Shape of bill (mandible)

2. Color Pattern – Pay close attention to:
Bill color
Wing bars
Eye ring
Note any striking features when drawing the bird

3. Habitat – Keep in mind the location. And, consider the bird’s behavior within in its habitat (home):
On land?
On water?
Near the shore (river or lake)?

4. Behavior
Does the bird flutter from its perch to catch an unsuspecting prey and then quickly return to its perch again?
Does it forage on the ground?
Is it searching for insects on/in the bark of the tree?
Does it have a nest or is it a cavity-nester?
Does it bob its tail?

NOTE: Songs and Calls
• songs – used in breeding season
• calls – used all year, general communication
• alarm calls – predator nearby

A Page From My Personal Field Notebook
Date: February 2, 2013
Location: Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area
Time: 6:55 am – 9:00 am Temp: 27°F – Weather: wind-E-9 mph, 63% humidity, partly clear skies, beautiful morning – watched sunrise against cloud cover.

Bird (common name) and Habitat
Tufted Titmouse – woodlot/edge
American Crow – in the distance
Northern Cardinal – woodlot/edge
Carolina Wren – shrubby cover edge/near glade
American Robin – woodlot/edge
Song Sparrow – woodlot/edge
*Pileated Woodpecker – forest/woodlot (in the distance)
Red-bellied Woodpecker – woodlot
Blue Jay – woodlot
Yellow-rumped Warbler – shrubby cover edge/near glade
*Wild Turkey – woodlot/edge
Downy Woodpecker – woodlot/edge
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – river bottomland/edge
*Kingfisher – river bottomland (in the distance)
White-breasted Nuthatch – river bottomland/edge
Eastern Bluebird – river bottomland/edge
Carolina Chickadee – river bottomland/edge
White-throated Sparrow – river bottomland/shrubby cover
Brown Creeper – woodlot
*denotes heard but not seen

I got my day started early and arrived at Busiek around 6:45 am. It was a cold morning, but that is the way I like it. Although admittedly, my nose, fingertips, and toes did get cold near the end of my walk. The trailhead said “closed” but that didn’t stop me. I wandered up to what appeared to be a glade restoration project along a south facing slope. It wound around towards the east. The sun popped out just long enough to tease me, and then back behind a cloud. The highlights of the field trip were hearing the Pileated, observing a Red-bellied Woodpecker dominate a Downy/take over the position the Downy was holding, and observing one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker chase another for several minutes forth and back between two trees. It began to sprinkle as I made my way down the east end of the hillside towards the river bottom.

Remember – don’t worry about photo quality. It is okay if the pics are not expert images. What is important is that a moment was captured which can later be used to identify a species and fondly look back on the day’s events. Here a Harris’s sparrow (Zonotrichia querula) becomes interested in me. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

This guide should prove useful when beginning this new found hobby. Additionally, visit for a fantastic resource about ornithology (the scientific study of birds).

Share, Like, and Follow this blog.

“Enjoy and keep a good thought!” Bob P.

Credit where credit is due:

USFWS. 2013. Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis (PDF)

Binocular Fundamentals

“…it is imperative to first cover the basic features and operations of binoculars…”

Bob Peterson, Wildlife ecologist and L.L. Bean Visual Merchandising Lead, interacts with attendees at a recent L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School Birdwatching and Binocular Fundamentals Clinic at the Mall of America. Photo © 2017 Kelsey Wotzka

Welcome in!

It’s been a little while since I’ve reached out… thanks for checking out this edition of Zero528! Enjoy!

Birding is Fun and Easy
If I’ve inserted one main take away message for this blog, this is it!

To begin to understand the joy in birdwatching it is imperative to first cover the basic features and operations of binoculars – a key piece of equipment for the outdoor enthusiast and birdwatcher.

Unfortunately, I can’t show “how” to operate a set of binoculars, but I suspect my readers are a sharp group, and I’ve added a few resource links to aid in discovery.

Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), perched on my backyard fence. Be certain to ‘clean out’ bluebird boxes each spring to insure these beauties make use of the cavity nesting opportunity. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Objective of this blog:

• Understand basic types and use of binoculars

Binoculars: Fundamentals and Features

Image ©

Binoculars: How to Choose
A wide range of prices exist on similar-looking styles. Understanding binocular specs, such as magnification and objective lens diameter helps narrow down which pair works best for specific needs.

Binocular Size:
• Full-Size (common specs: 8 x 42, 10 x 50)
Best for serious wildlife viewing and for use on boats. Full-size binoculars capture more light and perform better in low-light situations. They usually provide steadier images and a wider field of view, so they’re great for bird watching, but they’re generally too big and heavy for backpacking
• Mid-Size (common specs: 7 x 35, 10 x 32)
Best all-around choice for wildlife and sports use. While a bit heavy for backpacking, these binoculars balance moderate size and above-average light transmission.
• Compact (common specs: 8 x 25, 10 x 25)
Best for daytime outdoor activities. These are the lightest, smallest binoculars for backpacking, but they’re less comfortable during extended periods of use.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias). I like to take along a camera in addition to other necessary equipment. Birds don’t always cooperate, but I like to use the pics as evidence of my sightings. Photos don’t have to be ‘perfect’ and are a great means of remembering the outing. Motto – better to take the camera and need/want/attempt to take a pic, than to want it and NOT have it. Photo © 2017 R.L. Peterson

Two Numbers
Binoculars are identified by two numbers which indicate:
1. Magnification power (e.g., 7, 8, 10)
2. Objective lens diameter (e.g., 35, 42, 50)
e.g., 8 x 42 binoculars have a magnification power of 8 and an objective lens diameter of 42mm
Binocular Magnification Power
A magnification power of 8 means that an object will appear 8 times closer than it would to the unassisted eye; e.g., when viewing a deer standing 200 yards away through 8x binoculars, it will appear as though it were 25 yards away (200 divided by 8).
NOTE: Binoculars with magnification powers greater than 10 amplify the movements or shakiness in the holder’s hands, making steady viewing difficult.
Binocular Objective Lens Diameter
The second number used in binocular identification refers to the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lenses (those farther from the eyes / closer to the “object” being viewed).
Example: 7 x 35 binoculars have objective lenses measuring 35mm. The diameter of the objective lenses largely determines how much light the binoculars can gather. More light equates to a brighter view, particularly in low-light conditions.

A red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) investigates a crack in this tree in my backyard – notice the foliose and crustose lichens.  Photo © R.L. Peterson

Binocular Field of View
This spec determines the width of the area (usually in feet) that can be viewed at a glance, 1,000 yards from where you stand. A wide field of view is best to find and identify objects such as birds. Usually a higher magnification power results in a narrower field of view.
Binocular Focus
Almost all binoculars feature a central focus wheel that focuses both barrels on the binoculars at the same time. They also typically include a diopter adjustment ring which focuses one barrel independently of the other. This feature compensates for differences in vision between the users eyes. Once the diopter is set, then the two barrels should stay in proper relation. From then on, focus by turning the central focusing knob.
The diopter ring is usually located on either the left or right barrel near the eyepiece.

Stay tuned for my next exciting blog- Birdwatching Fundamentals.

“Enjoy and keep a good thought!” Bob P.

Additional resources:

L.L. Bean


All About Birds




Prelude to a Sunrise

“…it became difficult to make the determination where Earth ended and Heaven began…”

Beep, beep, beep – 4:45 a.m. sounded the alarm clock. I sat up in bed, wiped the crust from my sleepy eyes, and stretched forth my arms toward the ceiling. I was quite tired, and as I collected my thoughts I instantly began dreading the long day afield. But, I had a job to do, and so I got dressed and gathered my pack of research gear and equipment and headed out.

According to my calendar, sunrise was not to occur until 6:01 a.m., and I had plenty of time to make it to my final destination of Prairie State Park. It was still dark and a bit cool outside, but the 35 mile drive up Highway 43 in my pick-up truck allowed extra time to ponder my morning’s duties and activities. Neither heat nor A/C was necessary. So, I rolled down my truck window to aide in the process of becoming fully awake and alert – paying little attention to the roof liner damage which worsened as I approached full speed; the touch of the cool wind on my arm and face had invigorated my senses. I became keenly aware of the sights and sounds to which I was a grateful spectator.

With each passing mile on my journey northward the night began to magically turn to dawn. I was treated to glorious glimpses in the morning sky – sights to behold – unlike any before or since. At no cost to me, whatsoever, I’d been freely provided a front-row ticket to one of the most fantastic out-of-this-world experiences . . . a prelude to a sunrise.

Colors abounded and deep shades of pink and purple delighted my imagination. An overwhelming backdrop of light blues accompanied the white streaks of soft clouds which shifted boldly – eagerly rolling and racing across the sky. The eastern horizon line provided the contrasting dark to the light and proudly embraced its role as the point-of-no-return, the giver of day and taker of night.

Photo ©2017 R.L. Peterson

Something special had happened before my very eyes – it is doubtful that fortuitous moment could ever be repeated. Through a rarely seen depth effect which caused the clouds to appear as a continuation of the landscape, it became difficult to make the determination where Earth ended and Heaven began . . . and it was mine to take in – just me – alone, about to witness the extraordinary birth of a new day.

“Enjoy and keep a good thought!” Bob P.