Monday, April 30, 2012

One Man's Junk Is Another Man's and/or Woman's Treasure

There are times when news stories serve to help one realize that his life is only marginally offbeat, and certainly a preferable existence to some.

Here is an excerpt from a news story which could cause one to ponder, yet, in the end, my only question is why sue, and why would it take 20 months to decide something was amiss.

 — a California man says the seat on his motorcycle has given him an erection he just can’t shake.
Henry Wolf of California is suing BMW America and aftermarket seatmaker Corbin-Pacific claiming his issue began after a four-hour ride on his 1993 BMW motorcycle, with a ridge like seat. Wolf is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, emotional distress and what he calls “general damage.”
He said he’s had the erection non-stop for 20 months. 
California, of course.  Really, this is not a totally nuts state.  Most of these things come from north of San Diego and south of Mt Shasta.  Oh, oops, that covers most of the state doesn't it?

If only this could somehow be tied in with the political tripe that is out there--now that would be something on which you could hang your hat.

Sorry, no photo or video available at this time.  It is telling what makes news these days.  And what makes it to the world of civil suits.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Woke Up This Morning; part 426012

You know something is amiss when you wake up wondering what you've done to screw up your life.  "Oh, geez, what did I do now?!"

It must be chronic depression; a battle and a mind game.  Don't believe what you tell yourself, unless it is good.  Don't believe the bad stuff or you never get a breather.

Oh well.  I'll go to the Thursday open mic, even though I don't care for it much; bad sound, they charge a fortune for coffee, food, and even water isn't provided.

I'll bootleg my own water and coffee.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good Bad Ugly; part 425012

Little nibbles seem to be increasing in frequency.  I didn't even know I was fishing.  Another guy, who claims I played with him at one of the open mics I rarely attend, called in reference to a benefit, and something about a jam.  He also mentioned being at the Crest gig.

I remember giving out contact info to a couple of people who asked, but I seem to have trouble remembering everyone that asked me to play over the last couple of months.  It would be good if something came out of this, like some studio work or other pay-to-play opportunities.

It is probably good, though, because I seem to have a reputation in an expanding circle of musicians, and it appears to be a favorable one.  Why not?  I'm more reliable than most and make an effort to just do what I do without hogging the limelight.  That may be the secret to being a sideman who is welcome.

There has been other talk, but until I see substance, I treat it as only talk.  Deep down I hope it is real because it would be quite rewarding.  The best thing is to keep being seen.  There are little subplots to all this which have to do with trying to benefit some people I like who need the diversion right now.

Those are things of life; doing things for the purpose of enhancing one's existence and/or the existence of others.   What that entails is often the sort of thing I just keep to myself.   I'd be disappointed if I found myself deep into the Jerry Lewis syndrome.  If you don't get the meaning of that, then don't worry about it.

I look out the back door, down at the little box canyon and out to the ridge beyond, and I realize how fortunate I am to be where I am.  And I realize that it is not guaranteed that I'll be able to be here forever. It is alright.  One evening, within the last three, it was so dark and foggy out on the back deck that I could not see my hand held in front of my face.

Tonight, I heard just a few rain drops under a dark, overcast sky, but I could see the edge of the clouds out over the ridge, and to the left, over Alpine.  I could still see a little bit of light there.  Nice effect.

I guess there isn't much ugly, except that sometimes people think I don't consider them, their feelings, dreams, and whatnot.  It really is not true, but I can see how it appears.  I just don't pry much or offer opinions on what they ought to do with themselves.

Then again, it doesn't take much encouragement for me to become a little too self absorbed.  In ways, I am not that, but there are times when the better part of me definitely is.  I try.  There are mitigating circumstances which I am sure few others would understand, even if they were aware, but it is worth monitoring myself so that I am not so ..whatever.

I've come to realize it is not always easy.  And I do get it back. In one case, recently, I find that my life is of no real interest, which is both frustrating and interesting.  It leaves me feeling of no use, value or interest.  Maybe that is why that person crossed my path.  I must be careful not to cause others to feel that way.  I know it is not intentional on the part of the party of whom I speak, but I see no changing it.

I always think that friends will ask if they want to know what I think.  I am wary of being too sure that I know what others should be doing with their lives, talent, etc.  It is one thing to be empathetic, and another to assume you know what another's best interest really is.  I'll bet someone told Lincoln he needed to get out and see a play.  "Abe, loosen up!  Go out; take the old lady to the theater."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fate and Fortune part 4 22 12

Different forms of good fortune have come my way lately.  Some of it, I had been advised to expect, but I did not consider it a sure thing.  It took a little while to put it out of my mind and not dream up stupid ways to depend upon vague expectation.  Or even probable expectation.

I have a friend who was expecting part of the family inheritance and all appeared done and good.  All it took was one psychopathic sibling, an unethical, and unscrupulous attorney, and a lengthy lawsuit in a venue many miles away.

Now my friend is worse off than he would have been had nothing ever been slated to come his way.  The legal system quite often becomes a lawyer's game of chess and results in anything but where truth and justice would lead.

The part that I think is most emotionally difficult is to plan on a thing, believe there is every reason to plan on it, and then have one's reality radically altered, dissolving your dreams in an instant.  It is tough to readjust, and accept reality, let go of the pain, anger and disappointment that type of loss brings.

When there was no point to the things that caused the dream to be smashed, it can stick with you and remain a tender spot indefinitely.   That tends to make moving on from there, seeing another way,  generally learning to seek happiness, a difficult, if not impossible task.  There are people who do it, and people who don't.  Anger is often not your friend. It can trap.

Even when the anticipated good fortune is not squelched by stupid things like corrupt people, and such evils, it is a shock when it doesn't materialize.  Disappointing, at least, and often in a way that requires some regrouping.

The trick is not to expect much, and try to refuse to believe that job is yours until it is in hand, that money until you see it, etc.

So, one thing came through that I'd managed to put out of my mind altogether, so it was a treat and almost a surprise.  Another thing came up that is merely a promise of something, and as much as I'd love for it to be true, I think the skeptic's approach is the healthiest.  I'll believe it when I see it.

I found myself thinking as if that thing had come true, and how I could then not be doing things I no longer enjoy, and how I'd have some sort of passion or enjoyment with this.  It is related to getting paid and I guess a form of work.

But, I see nothing today, and I am going to forget about the big talk and promise.  No need to discount anything.  I'm certainly open to opportunity.  But it may be best not to hold my breath until it materializes into something I can spend.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

heartbreak continued

The last post neglected the heartbreak part.   Typically, the writer of that post wandered off into the weeds, and before it was over, it was way to long of a post.

The heartbreak theme came to me when I was contemplating the ones that got away, and the fact that I both allowed and condoned such a turn of events.  Being me is an odd proposition.

I figure if I cannot make myself less of a risk, can't make myself more available, then how can I encourage anyone I really care about to put their eggs in this basket?   I can't if I am to maintain any integrity as I see it.

However, I have faith that one of these days the tables will turn and I'll know I've encountered the person whose best interests coincide with mine, and I won't feel guilty encouraging the commitment.

Most of the time I really don't care.  I do enjoy knowing that some people are happy and doing well, even if it sometimes causes me to see my own deficiencies which then generates that little pang of heartbreak.

I don't think the heartbreak is over any person, but over whatever it was in my life that compels me to somehow deny my own existence to the point that I feel honor bound to drive away the people I most want close.  I'm speaking of women here.  But I guess I keep everyone at more than arm's distance.

I break my own heart.  But I am OK with that, and doubt it is a thing that can't improve.  It has improved by shades over the past five years or so.

HeartBreak and New Looks

Blogger's New Look!!--they are so excited over this--is not better or easier for me. They do not like my browser. It comes up with some message about an unknown item that may or may not be supported by my browser. I have to click the "dismiss" button to make it go away. It is right next to the google Chrome button.

 Google is dying for me to use their intrusive browser, Chrome. No, thank you. I started to download it one time, in one of my biggest sucker on earth stupors. It wanted so much info and seemed way too nosy about everything and wanted to make love to all my other files, applications, and programs.

 I just couldn't have that, so I stopped it and did my best to remove all traces from the computer. I stopped it before it was entrenched, like a tick. Many programs are like ticks from hell. You think you ripped it out but it leaves something behind to make trouble.

 So, new blogger is pimping for google chrome. They are trying to sucker apple safari users. I have firefox, but I mostly use safari. I like it. The fact that there was no issue prior to the big new look, and the main issue now is that they want me to switch to their data mining evil tyrant browser, causes me to think this blogger thing is a google inspired conspiracy.

 Weren't they the company whose motto was "Do no evil"?

 Funny how those things are so often the exact opposite of intent, or action. This appears to be designed by the same people who new-looked gmail. It is not a better look. Just new.

Take heed, it is much like the hooplah and hoax that eventually became the car companies. Change things regularly, even when no improvement is made to the product, and then convince people that they need the new one.

 For example, until they actually improved function, handling, etc. There was little need to alter the 56 or 57 Chevy. I would have held it at 56. Many liked the 57. The 58 was a waste of time. All they did was alter cosmetics, and not often for the better. I would have stuck with 56. Maybe waited until the 64 stuff came out.

 Chrome is an apt name. All shiny, but that's it. Makes a good vitamin in low doses.  Great for fishing lures; suckers 'em every time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It Is A Jungle Out There

Wow. Another wonderful use of tax money. Some people's lives could be radically improved with that money, but I'm sure even more lives will be saved with the EPA's latest group think effort.

They want you to write a six word essay to celebrate the environment. Six words for the planet (earth, I'm assuming)

What does that even mean? How do you celebrate the environment? Is that like celebrating gravity, or the floor, or some other non event I can't quite imagine?

I suppose the first I began to hear of celebrating non events was when my ex wife said something about some kind of women's event that was a celebration of women. I'd have enjoyed that except it was, apparently, all women. And I wonder why I had my suspicions that she might graze on both sides of the fence. I'm thinking that to properly celebrate women, interesting events would have been in the mix. Events worth celebrating, perhaps.

The title is my six word essay. Next year I will celebrate the climate. After that, I will celebrate dreams. Oh, and I need to celebrate Outer Space before too many years pass.

I'm sorry, but from the early seventies on I argued for independence from the power grid, ways of using various used containers and other refuse for building materials, etc. However, I think things like Earth Day make no sense at all. If you want to include fertility rites and frolic in the forest, maybe it will make sense to me. I get nauseated when I see people out to be seen and accepted making a big deal about how much they love "the earth".

I'm on board with not being destructive or polluting in obvious ways. I'm not on board with much of the theme that all industry is bad and humans are evil and bears are better and blablabla. The only way humans survived so well as a species is due directly to our ability to protect ourselves from the environment, because the environment can be a hostile and fickle tyrant.

So, weather permitting, and barring any natural disasters, we can make a big show of planting a tree and reciting earthy essays. The ones I saw on the dot gov site were somehow political. one people, one home, one --I forgot. You get the idea. We go from the environment to solidarinosc.

I'm still stuck on what a camping expedition on some beach dedicated to "celebrating women" would entail. Clever choice of words, eh? It had to pop into my mind due to wondering what it means to celebrate a non event. I may celebrate my toes this year as well.

My final essay of six words still stands: It is a jungle out there!!! I decided punctuation could give it a little zip.

Song of the South; part 4192012

So I go over to Big O's friend's place to do some piddly maintenance, and to screw around with that teak some more. The stuff looked good initially but this oil finish routine is not suitable for this particular bunch of furniture. I researched and learned how to do it because way back at the beginning of the saga, house manager wanted it done they way they do marine teak, using oil finish. At that time I was all for poly urethane or something of that nature.

At any rate, I learned and believed it would work out. It is not really working out. I'm going to call the manufacturer, hoping they are still in business and see what they used to begin with. Even though their lacquer or varnish did not hold up, it still may be better, especially since they eventually got covers for the stuff. If it were mine, I'd just pressure wash it now and then and let it be gray. That isn't acceptable to those who own it or manage the house, so we go with another plan.

Anyway, I arrive and walk out to the courtyard/pool area where a guy is on a ladder putting pieces of copper on top of some of the beams. I was friendly, even though when I greeted him he replied with the belligerent toned version of "Can I help you?". I explained that I frequently do odd jobs and maintenance there, and that I would be sure not to interfere with his project.

He then gives a little, annoying chuckle as he says, giggle giggle, You sound like you're from Tennessee, giggle laugh. It was a total non sequitur, as I had just asked a question regarding my efforts not to do my work in the possible path he might take as he did his thing.

I stared at him for a few seconds, then asked, "Is that funny?" I get so sick of people who think the slightest bit of southern accent represents ignorance, incest, etc. That is very much the way it is in California. Most of these people have never been to the South, and certainly haven't spent enough time there to have a clue about the people or the culture.

Mr. Roofer caught me in a mood which was not one of the most tolerant or forgiving in my arsenal of moods. His comment and manner were not of the variety of friendly interest or in any way complimentary. I stood there resisting putting voice to what had filled my mind. Two words, the last of which was "you!!".

I stood staring, then turned and walked away. He'd answered the question about whether it was funny with something unintelligible and an I guess so. He was on a ladder and seemed frozen, like he didn't know whether to ascend or descend.

It is not good, but I felt that if I stuck around that I'd have vented my rage at the arrogance of many in this state, and my rage at things unidentified, even in my mind. Wisely, I went to sit in my car and cool off. I called Fin.

Sometimes I think I'd like to move back to south, but then I remember how 99% of the black people seem to hate you and want to give you a hard time. It is not hard to find someone eager to beat you to a pulp, kill you, or rob you--because of race. Racism is the curse. That and belligerent ignorance. Life is hard so it must be your fault.

Much is magnificent out here. In some ways I suppose I became permanently southernized. That involves a certain mode of courtesy, pride, and respect. That doesn't involve race or incest or any of the stereotypes I see circulated out here in media and general culture.

I've been in the ethnic minority in two or three cities where I lived for a number of years. That can be educational. I get along with anyone who is halfway congenial.

So, you want to break it all down by ethnicity, then you best be prepared to own it. Or maybe you want what I want--to become a nation of individuals judged by your good looks, and your character.

Being lumped in with a group forces you to take on guilt for their crimes as well as credit for their accomplishments. Unless, of course, you only identify when it serves some selfish end.

But we all want to be victims. I'm a victim because I'm Black; because I'm Mexican; because I'm White; because I'm poor; because I'm rich; because I'm ugly; because I'm pretty; because I'm too smart to be understood; because I'm a dimwit...

Victim grouping is a big business. Look how hard Jesse and Al try to keep fanning that flame. They must be running out of good fuel because they tend to jump on cases which aren't clear cut, before the facts are known, and many times it turns out they labeled the real criminal as the victim. In some cases, there may be no case at all, in reality. KKK uses the same tactic, but not many people sucker for it. I do not consider Jesse and Al any more legitimate, at this point in time, than the White supremacist groups.

Sooner or later someone will figure out that no group has been free of being victimized in one way or another at some point in history. One fact which goes unstated is that most groups have done as much to screw themselves over as the groups they identify as their enemy. That goes for black, white, yellow, mellow, red, taupe, and mauve, men, women, blablabla.

Don't lump me in with any of them because no one speaks for me. And I don't trust others of any group to which I may belong to voice anything agreeable to me. However, I guess I am somewhat of a Southerner. But only in the very best and finest aspects of that culture.

And the case can be made for any group's claim to victimization even now. It does not serve the cause of liberty, equality under the law, or any of the tenets necessary for a society of free individual humans.

In any case, many of the best artists, writers, musicians and people of note were native Southerners. So back off, California!
And besides, I have hardly any accent at all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

OK Found the Bill That Failed

The Buffet tax thing was found. At least I think that was what I found. It is called something like The Fair Share Payment for Wealthiest Americans Act or something like that.

It is written like the tax code--in pure gibberish. My view of it is that it would not affect the wealthiest of people at all. Those who have their money in all sorts of investments and complicated financial instruments, like Buffet, would not even feel this.

I'm not a lawyer, and in a free country I wouldn't need to be to fully comprehend a law. That said, I am pretty sure this is nothing but a PR stunt designed to give satisfaction to those who envy or think someone making a million dollars needs to be cut to size. They already pay more if they don't have the battery of accountants and lawyers to prevent it.

This law would mostly hurt someone like a sole proprietor or a writer or artist who landed it big enough to qualify; people who may have made a million dollars, but who don't have the shelters and power of the Buffets of the world.

I think it is a move by the really big money to slap down the up and coming entrepreneurs who are climbing their way up. Nouveau riche, There is more of an elitist tint to this thing than one might think. If you own a hedge fund or are a high level investment banker, I think you'd be safe.

But it was shot down. Do you have any idea of the number of bizarre resolutions and bills the throw out there every year? It is insane! And the names. The Reform Education to Produce Future Leaders Act---there was one like that. My wording may be slightly off, but definitely not exaggerated. My version would be toned down, if anything.

Many of the bills brought forward are grandstanding and apply to target voter groups. Many seem to be rehashes of things already on the books. It is insane!

I repeat myself, I know. If only there were enough of those legislators who would vote against any bill that wasn't designed to strike down two or three other bills. I'd vote against all of them. It costs a lot of money per hour for those clowns to be in session. Do we really need to pay for a resolution declaring some month, "Asbestos Danger Awareness Month?"

How about Crazy Thieves Spending Your Money, Stealing Your Rights and Property, Selling Out Your Opportunities, Jobs and Resources Awareness Week"?

Another Moronic Talk Show

San Diego radio has a new guy on now. Something Merrill--spelling may be right or wrong. He's hard to figure in some ways. Generally he's better than that horse's ass, Rick Roberts; the king of self aggrandizement. He disappeared. BooHoo.

Merrill is at least not much of a shill for either political party. His main goal appears to be trying to maintain an image of a cool guy, which he's not.

His latest push is to have everyone 70 and over re-tested for driver's license. Lots of people are on board with that. I'm not. His friend, who I believe was riding bike, was seriously injured in a collision with an "elderly driver".

No doubt some old people are not that safe behind the wheel. But this now brings us to the Great Pretense.

If you want to profile by age and treat one group differently, then let's unleash all the statistics by group. First we divide it up among the various age groups, then by gender, then by ethnicity, and then by legal citizen, legal resident, here on a visa, and here illegally. Based on observation, I'm guessing that within those groups would be found certain combinations of parameters which would point to certain groups, or combinations of groups (eg; 40-50 year old Chinese women) which statistically cause more havoc per capita than people over 70.

It would be reasonable if police took notice of drivers being unsafe, and pulled them over. That seems to be a back burner objective, at best, even though various laws allegedly address such things. Modern traffic enforcement is geared toward producing revenue. And it is a big bureaucracy which complicates effective, but not bullying, behavior.

I fear that targeting such a group could lead to a somewhat biased atmosphere on the re-test, resulting in being unjustly denied the right to drive. Oh, I forgot, I'm supposed to say "driving privilege". Sorry. I still think it is a right unless it is shown that you aren't up to the task.

Privilege sounds like someone doing you a favor by allowing you to operate a machine. I think of it how I do, and have never been able to change that view. Either way, no one has a right to endanger the life or property of others.

The Chinese woman example was purely an example, and in no way reflects an opinion on how the statistics would pan out. I would not state my views of what groups are the greatest hazard on a percentage basis. That would bring nothing but trouble.

Anyway, Merrill is on a crusade because he's a long way from 70. Just what is needed in this country, and this state, more laws which require more money to implement.

The responsible thing to do is to monitor yourself and refrain from putting others at risk. If you are too self centered and crazy to do this, then your family should step in. Or the cops ought to take notice that you are driving like a monkey on magic mushrooms.

Merrill isn't a moron just for this crusade. It is his lack of depth when it comes to reasoning on things, his constant stereo-typing people with Southern accents, and his skirting truth in order to keep the cool guy image.

Ah Bill, At Least You Were Funny

Even if it was not intended. Never thought I'd miss the days of "It depends on what is is." But, lately, I do.

Something about this causes me to think the country has changed in peculiar ways.

He'd win if he ran this time around. Is that bizarre? I almost wish he'd do it.

Stepping off the Edge

There is a theory that lots of people who end up lost in some form of insanity actually know at which moment they finally gave up and gave in. I'm not talking about those who do harm or anything, just those who let go of their grasp of reality and whatever combats depression and that sort of thing.

I think there may be something to that. Most of my life has been spent trying to jump back on board. I can pinpoint more than one instance which represented one of those decisive moments. The periods of time when progress was made were never easy or natural. It was a hell of a fight the whole way.

It is not encouraging that I have been so long bogged down during this last stretch. Knowing it is all about decisions helps. Why deciding the on the constructive route, and following it, would be any more difficult than the alternative is a mystery. In the long run, not doing what you know is best takes a lot more out of you. It leaves one progressively more tired, lacking passion, pride, or much of anything that a person should have.

Some of those pivotal moments are more significant than others. But the consequences can be long lasting. I sure am continuing to feel the results. It takes small little victories and perseverance to affect reasonable change. I didn't get here by accident. It was the result of both the times of giving up, and the times of climbing back on board.

It was lucky that I climbed out of the mud when I did, to the extent that I did. Now, I have let myself slide back into directionless trouble. I have decisions to make, and I am deciding not to give up. Why is it so tough to just put it all in order and move ahead with whatever seems best? It doesn't matter why, I suppose. Just bust on through.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Debating On A Guess

At some point in my internet using career I decided to actually search out and read things before coming to too strong an opinion on a given topic, such as a bill in the US Senate. The trick is to find the stuff in print, not just hearsay discussions.

I believe one of my first forays into the verbose smoke screen of government prose was the 911 commission report, or whatever it was called. I have since forgotten the title, but not the surprising language and scope of topics.

It had less to do with the nature of the Towers attack, and more to do with laying groundwork for domestic martial law, usurping control of resources, private companies, etc--in the event of any emergency deemed worthy by unelected bureaucrat.

My most recent effort was to actually read this Buffet Tax bill that got defeated. I'm suspicious of it because, if you made a million dollars and didn't take any deductions, didn't know how to invest to save on taxes and all that, you'd already be paying a higher rate than the poor saps who only make 150 thousand, and they'd pay more percentage of their income than those who make 75 thousand.

People tend to forget that even if the percentage was the same the million dollar baby would be paying far more than the seventy five thousand sap.

Buffet, himself, piqued my suspicion when he claimed his high paid secretary pays a higher rate than he does. I mean, this is a guy whose battery of lawyers is dueling with the IRS over a half billion tax bill.

If he is so concerned about the government getting paid, why the lawyers arguing against payment? And why not just pay what he thinks is fair if he doesn't honestly think he's paying enough? And why manage the money in such a way as to gain the best tax advantage? Is this merely his effort to keep lawyers and accountants employed? Noble of him.

OK. So, I'm assuming there is an angle whenever billionaires seek press and want to make laws.

I tried to find the text of the bill so I could see for myself what it is. I cannot find it. I found things like wikipedia telling me "what it does", and various opinions on the thing, but no actual text of the bill. It must be that Nancy Pelosi was talking about most bills, not just the one, when she said, "We need to pass the bill to see what's in it", or words very close to that.

So, the thing to do is to encourage your senators and congress representatives to pass all legislation so you can then get copies of the actual bill and know if you like it or not. If it hasn't passed how will we ever know what's in it?

My default position is that unless I can see the actual wording of a proposed law, I am not in favor it passing. I'd also like to see any little piggy back add-ons which maybe put money in pockets where it doesn't belong, or adds power where it should be withheld. The trick you with names and such.

They'll do something like name bill the "Keep Children Safe From Ax Murderers Bill", then in it require parents to document to authorities that their kid eats green beans as prescribed by law, and mandates that all seat belts in new cars be bright orange in color.

And then it may also include a million dollars to renovate and declare someone's home in Maine a historic site. And another five million to buy it for the federal parks, or give it Spain, or who knows what.

So, if you oppose this bill, you don't care if our children are filleted by ax murderers or rogue chefs.

It didn't pass, so who knows if the Buffet Bill was just more grandstanding or not. What were the actual words?

If he had any real guts, he'd have said the irs is a waste of resources and not the stuff of a free country, and then he would have suggested a more benign, less complex system of taxation. But he is part of an elite class who do nothing without an angle. Often we, the serfs, can't see the angle because we don't have enough information.

It is so comforting to know how much people like Warren Buffet care about us lesser beings. And how much he cares about who pays what. He cares a lot.

But just short of caring enough to set the example and pay whatever he thinks is fair without somebody making a law which may or may not actually affect his cash flow. It warms my heart. nd being on board with Warren gives fuel to the thrill of focussing on The Rich.

Pay up, you bastards!! as if I have any idea who are The Rich and what they do or don't pay, except that the top 10 percent do pay the vast majority of the tax bill. This I know.

That Buffet Bill maybe would have put them in their place. Or maybe it would only have fooled the angry while maintaining the status quo. There may have even been an orange seat belt provision.

If only they'd passed it so we could know what it was. And how many pages it was. Could they write hundreds of pages on a thing like that? The legislators themselves don't read bills most of the time, or know what is in them in any detail.

That part is unimportant. It is important that they care, and that new laws keep getting made. That gives us a sense of sec urity. Or something.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Elasticity of Time

It never ceases to amaze me how variable time is. It seems like Saturday was a week ago, rather than a day or two. Yet, the last few years seem like a month. I'll never quite get used to the lack of linearity in the things that are linear by definition.

In the grand scheme. I think the idea of relative percentage of experience explains why a week or a year seems like eternity to a child. A year might be more than ten or twenty or fifty percent of his total life, depending upon his age. And your whole life is kind of like eternity. I feel like I have always been here because I don't have a sense of any beginning. How could you, really?

I have early memories, but it is not as if that was the beginning. Awareness is a tricky thing, I guess. It seems I was aware of good before I was aware of evil. Maybe kindness and happiness are actually more natural than sadistic oppression and anger. Not that all of it is not in human nature. I think the cultivation of qualities develops with cultural habits. And some things, like anger, tend to feed upon themselves.

NOTE: My facts about the tribe described below are most likely incorrect in the details. The point is still the same. It may be that group in Malaysia that didn't have any cavities.

That tribe which was found maybe forty years ago in some rain forest which had no concept of murder or any of that sort of thing really paints the picture. They were very pretty people, and they had been roaming the rain forest forever. They didn't do any building, farming or much of anything but run around naked, look beautiful, and be content. Enter contact with anthropologists, who, of course, thought it would be great to give them one machete. Adios peaceful, happy culture.

They soon learned about murder, jealousy, greed, etc. That all indicates to me that the out of control, destructive traits are not a requirement for human life, but it doesn't take much for the dark side to have a life of its own in a society. Dumbass behavior is like a virus-it spreads rapidly. Just check out gang areas, and the things that go on with those who truly control power and money. It is dumbass behavior. Religious war is dumbass behavior.

Anyway, it is all continually changing, and what was once one unit can be compressed or stretched, whether we are talking time or beliefs or values, or levels of relative importance. But those who insist that certain behaviors have always been with us as a species, and that they always will, are assuming that they have the whole history of our kind in view.

They may be right, and they may not. Some people don't even remember as far back as one or two years old in their own lives, so they have no clue about when they became jerks. How can they assume mankind never did anything but defend against, or be controlled by, jerks?

They don't know. It just feels good to say, "we've always had wars, and we always will." Nothing pisses me off more than people who spout unprovable bullshit while pretending to be very logical and scientific. We've always had pompous know-it-alls who are full of themselves. Or maybe we have. We sure have them now. They don't have any answers, just dire pronouncements on fate. I'd hate to think people will forever have to deal with as much of that as we do now. We've dealt with the struggle to pretend to know all the truth for a long damned time. And it usually serves egos but not much else.

Truly seeking answers, and pretending that nothing different can possibly shed more or different light on the world of science and reality do not go hand in hand. The latter defeats the effort to know. People were burned at the stake for seeing that accepted truth was not on the mark. Just how it goes.

For some reason those peaceful people in the forest, pre-discovery by anthropologists, could wander around in naked bliss without the usual rashes and problems someone like me would incur. So, think twice if you were considering emulating their lifestyle at home. You may have a group of like-minded friends, and you think you can start a new isolated society of peace and happiness. But chances are, you will get savaged by bugs, fungus, and your own offensive odors. You might not survive the period of adaptation, which could take generations.

So, may as well be one of the pushy jerks, who pretends not to be a pushy jerk, in this culture. If you can make sense of it otherwise, and thrive, then yay for you, go for it.

One thing that tribe of hot looking people did not have; Subaru cars. No kings, as far as I know, either. Would I give up my car if the world became free of monarchs, dictators, and those who weild power but pretend they are "public servants"? Get back to you on that...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Open Mic

Tonight was an experimental evening. Regardless of outcome, I think I know one of the reasons why I play. It is an escape from anything remotely connected to The Big Pretense; all the things that grab attention toward social structure, authority, the alleged world condition, every bit of input which is actually a diversion from being a real human being and living life.

The kinds of things addressed in the last few posts. None of those topics serve to liberate the mind, creativity, potential, or the pursuit of happiness. It is all garbage, unless you get your thrills by trying to control others in some way, or wallow in the thrill of being victimized. Garbage.

The one rule I have regarding playing is that I do not want to do anything political. I just do not want it. I don't want to protest, or sing about it. It ruins the whole thing for me. I won't wear Che shirt or a shirt that indicates that Che lovers are idiots.

I participated slightly in efforts for the anti-SDGE Powerlink movement, and it did not feel right. I couldn't do it for long. Sure, I know the thing is a huge theft and ugly from all angles, but I can't deal with it in that way. Especially not by playing.

So, that's out of the way. One of the house band guys encouraged me to sign up to play by myself. He wanted them to back me and follow. I asked a guy that has roots in country, bluegrass, gospel and old time rock and roll to play as well. He knew I had no idea what to play.

We decided on a boogie riff, and figured the others could catch on to that. We figured wrong. I played and tried to get the others in a groove but they weren't having it. Their guitar guy has a bit of a resentment toward me and showed his colors. Next thing I know, he is making up words; sort of mock, fake blues thing. I hate it when people do that. That is not wht blues is about, and it shows a lack of understanding of the art.

Anyway, Les, my guitar friend, and I just looked at each other with big question marks all over our faces. We shrugged and just did what we could. I figured I'd throw a curve on the next one and tell them to do something in A minor.

At some point I brought it into kind of a rhythm riff, which Les caught, but no one else up there understood. So I just played what I could and called it a night.

Fortunately a guy named Tim asked me to play earlier in the evening on one of his originals. That went well.

Part of the sneaky experiment was to see if the guitar guy could or would jam, and see if I could get that group to actually play. I couldn't. Les also had me play on a couple he did earlier, and when it was over he concluded the we were in A and maybe the band was somewhere else. This guy knows what he's doing and has done it for a long time. He plays harmonica well, too.

So, there it is. It was an odd night, and some of it made no sense. But, I was not troubled or distracted by things I can't control and that do nothing for me. I couldn't control the house players, but I was the one conducting the experiment, and I managed to play something and work it out, sort of.

Good, bad or ugly, it is closer to home than many things, and it gave me the awareness of why I bother. It may be the closest thing to true reality I know. That doesn't mean my views and thoughts have altered or that I'll be wearing an Obama button. Just means I know that show is an audience participation dog and pony show in the big carnival. I don't even like carnivals. Haven't since I was 14.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Semantic Influences

It crossed my mind that people tend to think in terms of royalty and, subtly, caste. I'm always bothered that people consider the president of a nation to be its king because that ignores the purpose and structure of a republic.

The guy is there to serve as administrative agent to carry out the laws. Or something like that.

If I start a company, chances are I will install myself as president. I realize that it has become common now to list CEO as the top gun. But it has traditionally been president, and small companies still have either president, or president and CEO. It makes the sole proprietor feel good to claim the title CEO.

The thing is, in that company I started, I am king. It runs on my rules and I can, to a point, hire and fire as I like. People see the president of a company as one who can choose how it allocates resources, decide work rules, etc. Or fire you for somehow offending his or her majesty. That is pretty much to be expected.

In the realm of government, however, this view of the title, "president", is not how it is supposed to be. In this case, the president serves at the pleasure of the citizens, not vice versa. It could be that the language and other cultural traditions have caused us to retain that feudal outlook, much to the detriment of the cause of liberty.

Fairy tales, charming and informative as they are, often focus on the privileges and entitlement of royalty. A position one cannot earn, but must either be born to, or achieve by conquering an opposing army. Even then one must be the one in which all power resides, as far as the army which won.

So, we treat our career politicians as royalty, and the president as king. Special planes, a mansion with countless chefs and servants of all kinds. Special pensions, insurance, you name it. Even exemption from many of the laws they create which the rest of us must obey.

I don't expect to change any of that, but it can't hurt to point it out. I do think that it may have a lot to do with traditions which date back to times when lords and kings had absolute power. And in a country in which it used to be an admirable accomplishment to start and run your own company, the confusion between the two types of president can cause some issues.

Some try to dampen the monarch worship by saying, "I don't respect the person but I respect the office". Fair enough. Do you respect that office more than your on office in life? Or do you simply fear it? Maybe you think anything with an official seal must be revered or you will be guilty of lack of patriotism.

I'm not sure where I stand on these things.

For example, The Pledge of Allegiance. It was written in 1892 by Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, who was also a socialist. He had a utopian vision of an America with financial and all else equality for all. Lots of people have had that view, and still do. It doesn't tend to work in practice because people don't like to find themselves carrying the load while others slack off. The system requires constant vigilance and enforcement by some authority. Good luck trusting that outfit.

Anyway, this was written by a socialist for a Columbus Day event which included impressionable children corralled into making a pledge of allegiance, which seems rather devoid of conditions. Not until 1954 were the words, "Under God" placed in this oath. That was due to pressure from the Knights of Columbus.

People have come to view this thing as a patriotic oath which all should affirm over and over. I'm a little skeptical about the wisdom of such pledges. I would, and have, taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I believe that is part of the military thing, as well as what elected officials vow to do, but don't. That is because I whole heartedly believe in the number one document which was designed to limit the power of authority in this country. It provides the state with certain permissions. What the individual can't do is supposed to be spelled out. What the individual can do is everything not forbidden.

Someone will say I am wrong on this. I do not think I am. The point is that their is a difference in these oaths. I'm suspicious of any oath of allegiance to a state, especially one required of children who haven't a clue what it means or why they are reciting it. A pledge written by a well meaning fascist of sorts. One who dreamed of a socialist society powered by a military industrial complex. Hmm. I guess dreams do come true. I wonder if he guessed how much of the population would have to be doomed to abject ignorance, and how many bought cheaply, in order to continually garner the votes and support it took to get this far.

Anyway, the good Baptist did have some noble sentiments, but we part ways somewhere along the path. I would not expect him to honor an oath I'd concoct either; "I pledge to kick your ass if you mind my business when I am not harming you, and to which it stands, with a go away doormat and a hemet for all".

That would be fun to introduce into the schools. I wonder if anyone would know it makes not so much sense.

It is interesting how that little allegiance thing became the cause of those who swear they are opposed to socialism of the nazi tradition, or communism, yet, without the bigotry aspect of the national socialist party, Bellamy was basically in line with their system.

The church kicked him out for his socialist sermons, and he quit attending because they were bigots. A case in which I agree with both the negatives. Not keen on the system of socialism, nor am I fond of bigots. Why does the name Al Sharpton jump to mind when I hear that word these days? I used to think of David Duke when the word came up. How times change.

Did You Ever Think...

You'd look at the Clinton era nostalgically?

Sometimes I bet you even catch yourself pining for the days of Bush when it was OK to call the president names without being labelled a racist or placed on Homeland Security's terrorist profile list, and when gas prices were outrageous but only half what they are now.

Presidents are not kings so they shouldn't be the ones to have such influence. I pine for the days when that was true, as well.

Remember when you could intelligently avoid issues based on common sense and such? Like, who is going to shoot you most likely? A. A clean cut guy in a suit B. a gangsta looking guy with a hood over his head, pants below his ass, a sneering expression, and one finger hand gesture. C. A young woman in a bikini

If you chose A, you are a moron. If you chose B, you are a racist pig. If you chose C, you are probably correct.

Every once in awhile I check out various reports of new executive orders and legislation. Republicans and democrats have both advanced the tyranny of of the executive branch, in particular, but not exclusively, to such a degree that people don't want to even think about it because they feel helpless, they are cowards, it turns the stomach, and they don't want to rock the boat.
We are one well milked disaster away from a police state which has control of everything and everyone.

OK. I will state an opinion, but I will not sign a petition that includes my address or other contact information. I used to, but no more. Hell, the head of Homeland Security has suggested that being a Ron Paul supporter indicates that you are a domestic terrorist. Almost any obvious dissent labels one as a threat to national security under this administration. Real treason is OK, though.

I do not contribute to the monster in other ways that most people do. But I no longer write letters and sign petitions. In this age it only puts you in the database, and you may not have been there previously. So now who knows which qualifiers may be tagged to you.

The adage that if you have nothing to hide you have no worries from government and police was never actually true. It is certainly not true now.

This is where the tyranny actually comes from the 99%, even if unintended. Most land grabs, and other over the top actions b authority only affect a small minority at any given time. As long as it doesn't infringe on the lives of most people, they don't care. They don't even care if a thing is wrong. And if they think they will be cut in on a piece of the action, they'll vote for the criminal activity. That is why you have a republic, not a democracy. A constitutional republic. That means it has big limits, and is there to protect the rights of the individual, not facilitate mob rule which changes on whim and is nearly always cruel and unjust to the minority of the moment.

I don't see an answer. And I do not feel safe petitioning and writing letters. When I have the money and am sure of my tax status then maybe I will. Right now I'm not in shape to fight with any bogus harassment which is considered normal by most. I could not deal with an irs agent without exploding because they are no better than nazis and an other totalitarian agents. How could we, as a nation, have ever allowed this kind of thing to develop?

New Look

Well, gmail's new look turned out to be change I cannot believe in. I'm not one who resists technological change. I like things that are better, and improved. Things that suck, I do not like, nor do I consider a change from good to sucky an improvement. Not change I can believe in.

I see no way to change back to the old look on gmail. I think time ran out so they foisted the new dumbass look on me regardless of my input. Hey, they design it and make it available, so that is their right. I just give it at least one thumb down. Maybe two thumbs down.

Blogger is dying for me to try their new look. I guess it will attack in similar fashion. Seems I may have looked at that ahead of time, too, and not been impressed. Progress does not necessarily require meaningless change, and progress is not desirable unless it is positive and constructive. You'd think it would just be a positive value in itself but that is the trap.

What passes for progress is often merely stupid and oppressive change. But not a change for the better, like gmail. Just a stupid change.

This goes for much of life.

PS: I discovered I can "revert to the old look, temporarily" on google.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Change, or lack of it, that you can believe in--over and over

Perhaps when a hip foreigner points out the fragility of the emperor's cloak, it could wake up the loyal drones.   No, I doubt it.
Even so, this is funny.  The foreign aspect makes it funnier.  When Scandinavians aren't drunk or committing suicide, they can be witty.

PS: to Critic #1, I do not care if I can change it, or if it has any deeper meaning or reflects any thought. Sometimes I simply enjoy a thing, or have some sick desire to observe the real life theater of the absurd. It's the ongoing reality show which sometimes recruits by touting the dubious value of "getting involved to make a difference!".

I, of course, would put out public service ads encouraging people to resist getting involved. I would admonish them to mind their own business whenever possible, unless they can find ways to reduce the power of government and those who use it for their own devious ends. But then I am not in the majority here or over there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cosmos Cafe

This place is actually a different cafe than I thought, but it is only a half mile away from that one.

Cliff showed up with wife, Linda, and another friend of ours, Steve showed as well. He plays guitar upside down and backwards--left handed but strung the standard way a right hand player would have it. That means that when he plays, the high strings are up at the top and low strings on the bottom, and half the time he strums up when a right hander would strum down. He sounds good. The guy comes from more blue grass experience than anything. Like all else, that spills into country, folkish stuff, and maybe a little blues.

The crowd at Cosmos is a little more discerning than at Valley Music, meaning you can definitely tell the polite applause from "Wow, we really dug it!" applause. The level of play is pretty good for the most part. There were some excellent performers. One guy did an original song that would be big time if it got the right exposure or the right group. His performance was plenty good, but getting something out there on the market involves a lot of factors. He's a pro, and I think he just plays local gigs mostly. He gets by. Probably a year or two older than me.

They do their line up by drawing. They put the names of those who sign up in a fish bowl, draw your name, and you decide which number you want to be. We were drawn second, and my choice was to be 4th 7th or 12th. Has to do with an unexplainable theory involving numbers and the fact that I wanted time to finish my sandwich and wash away the evidence with a cold Coke. Cliff opted for 4th.

It is another 2 song or 10 minutes, whichever comes first. We probably took a good ten minutes with two songs. Maybe a minute or two to spare. We got the other kind of applause, not the polite applause. They really did respond well. They even clapped maybe 3 times in the middle of songs when I did little instrumental interludes. To say I was pleased about that would be an understatement.

That good looking lady with the little straw hat was smiling nd clapping, and that helped fuel my spirits and playing. Dumb me, I didn't approach her in any way. But, I am reluctant to do that kind of thing anyway. She was helpful at that moment, and may have gone back to a life of pulling feathers off of baby chicks for all I know.

So, I rate Cosmos as a good place. They make a very good sandwich, and the espresso is great. It is kind of a chic establishment, and it is on LaMesa's strip of shops which is one of those sections where you can walk from place to place on a cool sidewalk, with some establishments providing seating outside by the sidewalk, and auto traffic is slowed to a crawl so crossing the street is not a problem. Nice landscaping, etc. Cool location.

And, at first I thought the sound would suck, but it was really good by the time we played. We did Polly Von, an old old song which is in the public domain because it was written by no one, I guess, hundreds or thousands of years ago. I'm half kidding so don't pin me down on this, JT. OK, we did that one in D minor, always good.

Then we did the Cliff original, Slow Way Down in G. That gave me a chance to break in my new Lee Oskar C--playing cross harp. That tune's got a good upbeat rhythm and is great for harp solos. The words are cool too. Cliff has a presence and a way of delivering a tune that just works.

OK. Tues at Cosmos Cafe is a thumbs up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good News and The (alleged) News

First the good news. I found my Holy D Lee Oskar harp<---slang for "an harmonica".

Now The News: The Great Pretense has evolved into an even greater level of mass denial, and mass resistance to reason, than it has known for many years now.

It, the GP, has jumped to a new level. Instead of the trend in thought being of the usual, idiotic, "if I can't see it, it ain't real" school of logic, it has now moved more into the "I don't care 'bout no facts, and I don't care what is in front of my eyes. If I don't want to believe it, and if it might somehow make me uncool with my peers, then it ain't to be believed. I'll stake your life on it".

Had to get that out of the way. Take it however you wish.

correction on previous post: My friend's name is Don Felps, not Phelps. That is the songwriter guitar singer on his way to Texas. He lived in Austin at some point. Very likable and interesting guy.
Maybe I'll hit a hew (to me) open mic tomorrow night with Cliff. He and his wife said they were going so I guess I will. She just agitates, she doesn't perform. Great shill to have in the crowd you play. Hold on while I search this place out to see what's up.
brb---that means be right back, I think. OK. That I will do. I won't be lmao, or lol, or some of that though. This is a silent journey and I will return intact.

I'm back. It is Cosmos Cafe in La Mesa, and it gets good reviews on the net. Seems like a chic, trendy coffee house, and the girl who didn't work out took me to lunch there not so long ago. She works across the street. Cowgirl. Never mind.

Anyway, they book acoustic acts on the weekend, but they require that the acts play original music. I'm all for that, far more than most anyone I've ever played with. I don't know if the open mic thing on Tuesday is all original or not. I can always get up and ad lib an instrumental which is original if nothing else. One of the tunes I played with Cliff on Sat. was an original he wrote, seemingly just to give me something cool to play off of. It is a rather good song if you ask me--which you probably did not.

Now I am looking forward to going. I gave up on giving up playing. I also figured out that I am not as bad a player as I thought. I do what I do, and it is not the same as what most people who play an harmonica do. I decided never to say "a harmonica" again. I'm going with "an harmonica" from now on.

Then again, someone told me to never say never, but he and/or she (don't know, most likely some of each) said it twice in one unsolicited, advisory sentence.

PS: my VirusBarrierX6 by Intego caught a trojan. It may have been one tht nails windows systems. I'm set to catch both so I don't infect, even if I'm immune. Could have been dangerous to me. I forgot the name so I don't know. It is a goner. I'm liking the features of this software. So if you have Mac, it ma be worth testing out.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blues Event; Harpfest San Diego

The day after the church gig, Saturday, I had to do some work in the morning. People had called to tell me about the big harmonica blues event in LaMesa and I guess that finally made the difference in my decision.

Originally, I thought I wouldn't go, but I was already far from home working so I decided to swing by the park in LaMesa and check it out. I was curious to see other harmonica players around here in action anyway.

To my surprise the place was teeming with people and they had a rather high level on bands lined up to play. The thing ran from noon until six. I arrived at a little before one, I guess.

These were some very good blues type bands. Some were almost like swing or big band in a way, even though they weren't big bands. Several chromatic harmonica players in the mix. It is definitely a different sound, and they were good. I prefer to play a different sound than that but I see why they might like to take the approach they do.

At some point in the festival there is a competition. The band plays what seemed like only an 8 bar blues, and each harmonica player gets just one time through. They had two mics, and when one guy was done, and the mc literally pushes him off stage, the next guy who is already poised at the other mic plays his one time through while the next was has already been positioned at the other mic. And so it goes.

I'd seen this sort of routine before one time and knew I was not going to participate--especially because they charge each one $10, which goes to some charity, allegedly. Also, the way they judge it is to line them all up at the end and decide who gets the most applause when they single out each one. There were maybe twenty of them, and most of them were not at all good.

I'd go so far as to say I thought none of them were very good. Many had "the look". The blues beard, of course some sort of hat that looks like a musician or bluesman, and the attitude, like, "look at me, I am sooo damned bad and kickass. Best harpman going!" Didn't fool me.

I knew when they 12 year old kid came up that he'd win and he did. Someday he may be a good player, but he is not any good yet. There was a pretty good prize package with lots of music stuff and gift certificates from stores, so it ought to go to the person who actually plays the best.

As they went through the players, I kept track. It is easy to do. No one played better than the fourth or fifth guy. I did not even think it was close enough that I any doubt. The sound man was texting so didn't do him justice, but still, it wasn't hard to know. But, the guy had no pretend blues costume, and no obnoxious attitude.

The crowd voted for their friends and who looked like they ought to be able to play and the run off was between the kid and a couple of jerks who weren't anything but pushy. Of course the kid won because he was little and they thought he was cute. I thought he looked like the typical TV kid who is a brat. I'm mean.

I did tell the guy who should have won that he was the best player up there. He probably has no idea that I am a good source.

Then, to my surprise, Jason Ricci played. He was there with a guitar player that I think is a friend in the area. The rhythm section was from one of the local bands that played. I was glad that Jason has put on weight, was dressed nicely and no longer looked like a junkie nearing death.

They did a great set. He and that guitar player had a blast trading licks and smoking cigarettes in an SD county park where it is illegal. I do not condone smoking but I do love scofflaws when the laws being scoffed are over the top. The did not litter.

That guitar player, something Mateo, maybe Jimmy or Gene, it sounded different every time I heard the name, was as good a blues guitar as I've heard in some time. He knew how to play stuff that you enjoy hearing, not just the kind of stuff where you think it must be hard to play. Lots of players fall into that trap. They play cliche licks that are hard and that other players think are hard, but no one is really that thrilled at the over all music involved. Harp players do it big time, too.

Jason played superbly, as always, and it was a big crowd pleaser. He gave the guitar at least as much time as himself and it worked out very well. Jason's vocals have improved 100%. I used to listen and just want the singing to stop so I could hear the harp. This time I enjoyed the songs in their entirety because he actually sounded pretty good. Not sure what his current band status is, but I'd like to see someone who is that good make a decent living and gain recognition outside blues and harmonica circles. He's a great jazz/blues. rock and beyond player.

After Ricci's set I took off. They had other good players coming up but I'd got what I came for--to assess where I think I stand as far as a player, and whether the locals who would hit the jam part would put me to shame. Not much threat on the latter, that's for sure. But I can see that fronting a blues band is not what I'd want to do. I like being a sideman who is often featured, and I like not being stuck with the idea that diatonic harmonica must be used solely for the purpose of trying to copy Little Walter's licks.

There are great Chicago style blues players and all that, but so much of it is the same. Even the hacks in the competition almost all got up and attempted very close to the same thing. I couldn't believe it. It was an easy kind of run they were all after but they didn't know how to get from here to there without going to a place that did not match the right chord on their way.

I shouldn't be so critical. Anyway, I went to Valley Music open mic, and I was hot to play. I played a set with mountain friend Cliff, and another guy. Then later I played with a guy named Z. I don't know. Just Z. He's asked me to play before when I am there.

Both sets were much fun. It seems I was pumped from the festival and felt in a very confident mood. I'm pretty sure it went over as well as it felt. Cliff's set seemed like it got the most enthusiastic crowd response. There were some very capable people playing this time, too. But, once again, it is obvious that what is the most difficult, or the best example of virtuosity, does not always please people or connect with them the most.

There was a variety of good stuff. One guy plays a very unusual, almost classical or flamenco, but not, guitar. A lot of tapping strings and slapping the guitar. It was pleasant and complex and flawlessly executed. I could listen to that while driving or whatever. The guy is a bit hard to take for me, personality wise, but his music is great. As much as I hated to boost his ego, I let him know. He was probably the best musician there, but not the one the crowd enjoyed the most. That's how it works.

It might help if he just played instead of dropping names and basically telling you how wonderful he is before playing a tune.

Performance of any kind has various elements to it that are not always recognized by the performer. I'm observing and paying attention to that more than ever these days. I think the Valley Music open mic has more to offer than I first realized. It doesn't hurt that people now clap before I hit the stage when they see I'm going to sit in with someone.

But they also clap for people who can't carry a tune. They are generous and supportive like that. But I'm meeting some good players and decent people there, so even if bad quality is not shunned because people are polite, there is good quality in abundance.

I applaud everyone too. I've started to simply appreciate the happiness people get out of being there. It's free so why rain on someone's parade. You never know what goes on in their lives and this may be what keeps them going.

I didn't record any of it, but may be able to get the video which the venue ran. They video every open mic, and I think I knw how to get it.

Oh. A friend from there who writes and sings his own stuff, semi-John Prine type thing, is heading to Texas for a month or two just to hit places and try to sell his CD. He might do OK in various venues. So, keep an eye out for Don Phelps and be nice to him if you cross paths.

He told me that I could hit open mics in Austin and probably end up with gigs every night of the week. I never put any stock in open mics but now I see it is how a lot of people get stuff going. And some just travel and hit them as they go. I should have listened more and prejudged less. Maybe next road trip I'll do that.

That reminds me, I've heard some women there who are good, but I don't think I've better than what I heard from Sally and her daughter awhile back. And she hadn't played in forever. Now that's a case of a really good performer flying way under the radar.

Tennis Bra, and The Aftermath

So, there I was in the candle-lit sanctuary, standing in front of a microphone (actually, it was own Audix Fireball on a stand), located by the piano and organ, and by the mic solo singers used during the service. The whole kit and kabootle was located at the rear of the church, as was the choir. Unlike the stuff I've mostly seen on TV, this outfit has the musicians and singers in the back and not the front.

There music director bounced back and forth between piano and organ; as needed for the program -I'm assuming. The are arranged back to back and such that their long sides are parallel to the main aisle. I guess it allows him to look to one side and brow beat the choir, and to the other to see what the pastor is up to.

When the holy men and entourage began their journey from the back of the chapel to the front, I guess they stopped nearby and I was cued to play the blues. All was silent and very dimly lit. Harmonica is one instrument in which lighting is not relevant, as long as you have it right side up with the business edge facing you. I managed to have that covered.

What was weird, and unsettling, was that when I was about three quarters of the way through my part, I hit a note and had no recall of playing the previous section leading to it. It was like my mind had taken a vacation when I began playing, and I was off in lala land somewhere. My sudden return to the then and there caused me to wonder which way to go.

It was a note that comes off another, then you go back to the other, then back to the one I was on. I found myself going back to that first note, by thinking maybe I'd already done that back and forth.

Maybe I did and maybe I didn't. I think I did, which means I played it wrong. In any case I just kept going, sliding down the final phrase at probably the right time. If you manage to come in on the one, and go out on time, you can often get away with screwing up the in between.

I was feeling one of those full body blushes. The kind of thing you might feel if you publicly told someone they needed to stand on their own two feet, only to discover the object of your lecture was a double amputee. Then, when three different people each sang their verse, it was time for me to play my final part. This part was much shorter. We decided at last minute that it would have more impact in context of the thing.

So, I play this and the same thing happened. I'm playing note and suddenly wonder what I already played and if I am totally queering the deal. I smoothly enough managed to conclude, holding the last note and achieving that kind of hollow resonate sound that playing and cupping your hands just right can produce.

Now I was so embarrassed I thought they might break their promise and tack me up on that cross they'd been toting around through all this. Fortunately, at this point I could sit down for the rest of the affair. I must say, at the end after they snuffed the last candle so the place was dark, that book slam made me jump a good half foot out of my chair, even though I knew it was coming.

K claims I did not screw up, and he has a good ear. He taught me what to to play , so I guess he knows. I would have sworn I didn't do it right. I really had this thing down. I'd played it countless times and would only stop a practice session when I had played it through thre or four times in a row without any glitches. But I was not in a coma while practicing.

So, that was a very strange thing. The people there liked it alot from what I could tell, and they most graciously thanked me. Say what one will about holy places and people, this crowd is very nice.

I'm sure my take on the whole rite is a bit different than most, but that is life. It was somewhat of a spiritual experience and educational. It still puzzles me that people don't see how the innocent are still figuratively, at least crucified, and how mobs and the state still tend to condemn rather than prove guilt. Guilty until proven innocent is still very popular, even in the USA.

Perhaps the connection between this story and things all around us is not seen as I see it by many. It is what it is.

The event left me realizing that you do what you do, and being a part of a thing like this can challenge your ego if you slip in and out of a coma. Also, the most important thing to know is that it was not about me. The music director, the solo singers, the choir, the holy men, everyone who had some form of performance part might be every bit as concerned with doing well as I was. All could be as ego driven and self centered to the point of the body blush if they chose.

I sat there for half the service just wanting to make a public apology and then run away. I rode with K and L, and wasn't quite driven enough to want to walk 25 miles or so at night, so I got over it.

Then there is the part about them telling me it was so haunting and effective; soothing my pride.

I played a church gig which was all holy and somber, and in some ways slightly macabre. That is not a thing I'd have ever predicted. Now I don't know where I put that new Lee Oskar D harp. It may be in my car, or in K's. I know I had it on the way home. What a ballistic tour of a life I live.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Marketing Intangibles

The smartest thing an anti virus company could do is to either create a bit of malware for Mac, or just get the word out that something is out there which threatens Mac user security. We don't know the difference. It is all in 0s and 1s, anyway.

Despite the ease of creating a market, I have doubted the idea that Apple products are immune to hacker mischief and the kinds of little programs that evil doers like to create in order to ruin your day and/or steal stuff from you. This most recent scare finally motivated me, as I'm sure it has motivated many, to take action.

I almost went for the free stuff, but many open source things, though reportedly effective, are extremely complex when it comes to figuring out how to use them. The last thing I want is some anti-hoodlum software that requires me to jump through vaguely defined hoops on a regular basis.

From past experience I know I am no fan of Norton, and maybe one or two others. I did a little research and found something that is most highly rated, and it is purely for Mac, and not an afterthought of a company that has been windows oriented for the last couple of decades.

I'm testing Intego's program for 30 days, and if I like it, I'll pay up. It seems clear on the uninstall, which many virus programs are not. The major ones can be hard as hell to remove.

Other than companies who make money selling security software, what can be the motive for much of this stuff? Some of these trojans and whatnot don't steal identity or anything else, they just screw up the system. That is sicko. Anyone with skill enough to do that ought to have a bit more of a beneficent philosophy. I suppose sadism in its many forms is still a popular hobby.

We'll see how this goes. My impression so far is good enough.

Tonight we blow our horn for Heaven and all mankind. I hope for the best. I played it for K and L last evening and they liked it. L even asked me to do it again. Both times were clean and without error, so that has helped me be less nervous.

That virus barrier sure has an odd icon. It looks like a picture of a glue bottle--like those old bottles of LePages glue. I am not sure I get it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Simplest things can be Tricky

OK. So I met with K, established what it is I will play at the tennis bra, or whatever it is. He even sent an mp4 of him singing it, and me playing the right notes; singing then playing, not simultaneous.

I'm generally a slacker, but I have played it and played it, trying to perfect the nuances and such. It is pretty clean most of the time. I've played it enough. Funny how you can work the same notes in so many different ways. I wonder if the faithful know this tune, and if so, will recognize it from what I play. I guess if you hit pure, and soulful sounding notes they won't care.

I'm even going to wear my one pair of dress slacks. Fortunately they still fit. I wore them to a funeral service at this very holy house a year ago. They were purchased for that reason. I guess this is a figurative funeral of sorts. I'll be glad when the tomb blows open and the dude gives his pals the high five and heads on up to headquarters. Too many funerals will put bad joojoo on my slacks. Or in them. For obvious reasons, I do not want that.

It still baffles me that I am a key participant in a ritual whose name a thoughtful reader had to state because I had no idea what it was. I since have done a mild bit of research so I'm pretty much up to speed. I live a strange life.

I sure hope their PA has some option for a bit of echo or something to make the sound fat and haunting.

I'm thinking this is one case in which a little bebop improv, with jazzy riffs might be inappropriate. Maybe I could break into a fast train, or switch to Here Comes the Bride. Just as a little surprise gift to the brethren and friends in attendance.

I keep that harp in the car and within reach at all times. Not an hour goes by that I don't rehearse this once or twice, or more. Except when I sleep.

Monday, April 2, 2012

OK. The Truth

It is my hope that the Friday service precipitates profound spiritual experience for myself and for those in attendance. I hope angels will be with me and keep me from screwing it up.

The people of that congregation are nice, and treat me well. I am quite nervous over this undertaking, but think I should not shy away from such an honor. They have a very capable music director who is a wizard on the keyboard. If he is on board with this scheme of me playing, then I take it as a meaningful compliment and hope I live up to expectation.

So, I am leaving theology to others and hoping I contribute to something that uplifts souls and eases pain, even though I don't see how I could. Playing puts me in another world, even when I don't like music, so maybe there the rules work in ways beyond my reckoning.

I just hope I do justice to the occasion.

UPDATE; More Truth:
Earlier this evening I got together with K to see exactly what it is I am to play on Friday. It turns out I'm playing more of the tune than I expected, but I only do it when they first start the slow procession through the seven candles that they snuff out in this rite. And again at the end. Let us see if I, for once, play something the same way twice.

(while we are at it, will someone please inform CBS news, as well as AP, that there is a difference between the words "than" and "then"? News should at least be somewhat correct in language usage. Spellcheck and the internet have done much to erode the level of the written word but that does not excuse the pros)

So, now I have it almost down. I really do try to do these things the best way rather than the easiest way. When people show faith in me, and pile on positive reinforcement, I tend to do my best. I'm a glutton for the positive treatment. Some are motivated by revenge, or the "I'll show them" emotions. I'm motivated by respect and others expressing belief that I can do what I may doubt I can do.

It is clearly a handicap, but I have more difficulty measuring my ability in many areas than some of my friends do. Then there are times when friends doubt but I don't. That usually concerns winning friends and influencing people.

In any case, I am now committed, and think I'll be ready. I'm more nervous about this gig than I have been about any I can recall. That is good. This will build character, and it presents healthy challenge. Well, my first sober time playing in public, in Jamaica with the house band at the place might still be #1 in that regard. I threw up more than once in the minutes before going on.

*****my keyboard has difficulties so I often post only to find missing a or y in key words.

Short Note To El Presidente Del Mejico

Mr. Calderon, how do you have the nerve to come here and weigh in on our domestic issues, demonstrate, along with our own officials, no respect for our constitution, and shamelessly pretend to be a champion of the people your policies and government have impoverished and driven over our border? You phony charlatan. They should call you President Charlatan instead of Calderon.

If I had my way, we'd turn you back at the border. Like you so often do to those entering your country. Your policies are far harsher than ours, yet you boldly lecture us. Screw you, you slimy creep.

You run a country in which the police force are known to be as corrupt as the drug cartels, a country from which people flee, risking their own lives; a country which is overrun with corruption, from your office down to the local constable.

It would be a wonderful country if not run by people like you. Maybe you would do better things if you stayed home and cleaned house, and did not instead come over here telling us how to run our country, while blaming us for your own self made problems. Your arrogance and shamelessness make me want to punch you in the nose and keep on slapping you, all the way back to Mexico City. Get out and stay out, you corrupt, lying, stealing bastard.


your pal, Mr Ballistic


buy my tee shirts you capitalist pigs
Either you get it or you don't.

If I end up playing in church for the macabre, guilt promoting Good Friday service, will I fry, or be visited by the henchmen of the neo-Inquisition? Those inquisitors set up some very unpleasant tests and punishments for those who weren't solidly on board with the party line. And for those they simply didn't like.

Yikes. Many of the inquisitors' tortures tended to put stress on one's intestines, and they attacked such organs from both ends. Very sick and cruel people. Like I often say, "never trust a sadist". People don't listen.

Anyway, the church where I played along with my friend on a song, has expressed interest in me playing solo in between phases of some ceremony which really grinds on the collective free floating guilt, and the bloody, painful stuff in the Story. A lot of the stuff which I personally can't honestly get behind.

I think the church tends to miss the point. But people get mad at me for that. I can't lie, like many people, and pretend I believe things that I don't, or that I believe in a way that I don't. And why does anyone care what I think, if they are so close to the Master of All Things?

It's mostly the blood and guts worship that I do not buy. That knocks out ninety percent of Catholicism and many other sects. There were early Christian sects which did not go with the die for our sins aspect. So don't give me all this bit about longevity of a particular church. I think slavery was around longer than the church. So does that make it correct?

You used to be able to buy your way out of purgatory and popes had children.

Anyway, I may do this thing. I'll play in an eery, haunting fashion, hoping to wrench a little more guilt out of each parishioner. It is your fault that they tacked the boy up.

Pain. Feel the pain. Suffer, suffer, suffer, and if you feel like complaining and don't enjoy it, ask yourself, what if He had complained? You'd not be saved, etc. You miserable, guilty, worthless sinner!

It just doesn't ring my bell. There are those for which it works, and those who claim to believe it just as presented in certain churches, but there are those whose anger is too quick and heated at any who may not agree. That makes me think they do not believe and that scares them so they become angry zealots, lest their peers, or maybe even Jesus, see the lack of faith in their hearts.

My feeling is that I won't argue or try to change anyone's belief if it helps them through the night. Just as long as they don't push me. They may actually know the whole truth, be God, and zap me into dust if I'm not careful. Then again, it may be that people can arrive at the same place through different paths.

Although I hope I have more energy, and less cynicism than I do now, if my path is going to yield me 72 virgins in the hereafter. I am certainly not getting there through the exploding vest path. I'm fairly certain that path doesn't actually yield women and sex in the afterlife. My way could yield that. Not ruling it out, but I know I'd be highly skeptical of the scene.

I can see it now, "Hi, I'm a virgin!" "Oh, yea, sure you are. Save that BS for some other guy."
I'm not sure I even want 72 virgins. I think maybe 4 or 5 virgins, and the rest very warm, loving women.
There could be a reason all those women are virgins, and it may prove to be absolutely no fun. Besides, even in Heaven, I'd suspect them of lying about it. Or something. No, just a few for the novelty, and the rest without such complications.

I'm not sure how that jibes with the suffering and it is all our fault. But I think 72 potential relationships may be punishment rather than reward. OK. No chance in hell I am going to become a Muslim. That's why the older guys rarely do the suicide bomber thing. They have lived enough to know that the 72 virgin thing is not without potential problems. Big problems.

The place where I may play on Friday is not a mosque, anyway, so I'm safe. Perhaps I've conducted this post somewhat tangentially.

It is definitely a compliment and a bit of an honor that they'd ask me to do this. And such slow, single note playing is not so easy. I think I have to play six or seven times, with the guilt trip being cast about after each time.

One tiny error and no way to hide it. I can only hope that whatever the real truth is somehow fills the room through my playing, and that I am able to know what it is.

Just because I do not find a particular outlook credible or quite on the mark, does not mean I know for sure that it is truly not right. But if you come at me all angry and bowed up because I doubt and question, I am not swayed. That reaction only makes me think that whatever you believe must be bunk because you are an angry hypocrite.

That is a bit of a cop out though. It is easy for someone who doesn't profess their own defined theology to call others hypocrites for not living up to the spiritual code that they clearly espouse. If you do not let anyone know your beliefs, then how can they point out that you aren't abiding by your own philosophy and professed spiritual faith? See how tricky this stuff is?

I admit it. I am a trickster.

I figure the best thing is to play your an harmonica in the holy place, and if you do not spontaneously combust, or draw lightning bolts, then you may not be so much on the bad side of the good guys as some may think.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Look

It is probably a trick, and an essential element in the big conspiracy. I'm talking about the abundance of new looks going around. Blogger has been harassing their users about their new look, which is due any minute. Update now! They tell you that it is going to happen come hell or high water, so you have no choice. Then they suggest you do it voluntarily right now, even though you may not want the new look or any of their upgrades. You base this upon experience that tells you that many sites tend to lose their ease of use and their versatility when they get carried away.

Google is also threatening gmail users with the new look. I have no idea why. I tried it and didn't like it. I even filled out a survey. "What do you like about the new look, and what could be better?". "I do not like anything about the new look. It sucks. It would be better if you fire the geek who is pushing it and toss that plan in the trash" "Thank you for your feedback!! The new look will be coming in April. Why not switch now?"

I'll bet they will pretend that the new look transition corrupted data, so then they can justify asking for personal information--to make sure their records are up to date and correct. For my protection. "For your protection, what is your blood type? What are you wearing? What is your father's level of education? Just give the first twelve and last 6 numbers of your bank account, please."

Their tricks don't fool me.

I don't like the look of this at all.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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