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Wednesday, February 6, 2008     The Dead Zone
(10:54 am)

I'm referring to the inside of my head, perhaps? Maybe it's just the downstairs in this house. I seem to have all kinds of ideas of things to write about as long as I'm not close to the keyboard of my computer. I'd move the whole kit and kaboodle upstairs if the wiring was grounded up there. Earlier, as I was waking and doing my morning ablutions, thoughts of things to write about here were flowing through my head like the water from the shower head onto my face. Now that I'm seated here with the keys at my fingertips and the screen in range of my vision, nada! Nothing! Zip, zero, zilch. Funny how that works.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Perhaps instead, I should plan a head.

It seems like I always need more space. I keep filling the space I have with things, whilst not getting rid of things already residing there. And, as is commonly believed under our current scientific dogma, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Perhaps if I could learn to slice time in such a way that I could stash two or more things in the same place and flip back and forth between the micro-times in which they exist, I could make better use of the space available to me. You know, maybe that's how Dr. Who's Tardis works. It is bigger on the inside than on the outside. Perhaps it's just the outside that exists in a specific micro-time while the rest of it is slightly askew. Or perhaps it's the writers' and my minds that are askew.

Quote of the Day: "Là où il y a la beauté, on trouve la mort." (Where there is beauty one finds death.)

-- Baudelaire

A man approached Buddha seeking solace. One of his family had died and he was despondent. Buddha explained to him that we all must die and that it is as much a part of life as birth, suffering, and all the other aspects of avidya. Still he was not consoled. Then Buddha told him that he would offer him complete comfort, but first he must find a house where death had not visited. The man searched the entire village and found no such house. He expanded his search to the surrounding district. It took several years, and yet he found not one house where death had not visited. He eventually returned to the Buddha and said, "Master, there is no house where Death has not taken someone. My grief is not my own but something we all share." Buddha smiled.


Monday, February 11, 2008     Music, Music, Music
(12:49 pm)

Last Friday night was the Coffee House and Open Stage (CHaOS) at Unity Fellowship. What a crowd! The place was fairly packed. The entertainment went on until well after eleven. Some great performances. Blues Crossing was exceptionally good. I had hoped that my new friend, Jeremy, who I met on MySpace, through another new friend I met there, could make it, but he didn't. Turns out that Jeremy and I know some people in common, too. Archie, who Jeremy sometimes plays music with is also one of the denizens of the Open Stage at Unity. I've enjoyed his performances several times. Among the other performances, Andy Park did his quirky, marvelous song, "Lava Lamp." A fellow named Jeff (I didn't catch his last name -- I'm terrible about names) did a nice set with his blue guitar. It seems to have been the night of blue guitars. In addition to Jeff's, Doug Imbrogno played on his blue boat paddle (I think he calls it a Washburn Travel Guitar), accompanied by Casi Null on her blue guitar. I did the requisite two numbers -- The Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" and Donovan's "Mellow Yellow." The crowd sang along on Mellow Yellow, and when my G-string popped on the final note of the song, the crowd went wild. Well, as wild as that crowd goes anyway.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Wow, it's already happening.

Saturday, Jeremy, Archie, and my friend who got Jeremy and me together, John, all came over and we had something like a four and a half hour jam session. I, at least, had a grand time. I'd love to get Archie and Jeremy on stage with me to do some numbers together. I thought we meshed pretty well.

Quote of the Day: "Teaching is also learning."

-- Camille Pisarro

Saturday night, I picked Ann up from work. We had to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things. While there, we ran into Robin Hammer, who I hadn't seen in a while, and Andy Park, who I'd seen the night before. Andy said he enjoyed the song I did at the Open Stage. I thanked him and said that several people had commented on my rendition of "Mellow Yellow." Being Andy, he said "No, I meant the first one you did." There go those expectations again!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008     The Outlook is. . . Irritating
(10:40 am)

Tuesday is Microsoft patch day. That's when they do their automatic updates of all their software. I have Office, Word, IE, OE, and a few other bits of their software, so every Wednesday morning I get a raft of updates, fixing things that shouldn't have been broken in the first place. The thing that irritates me most is that, since I have Outlook installed as part of Office, the update automatically changes my default e-mail from Outlook Express to that bloated, overly-complex monster, Outlook. Every single frickin' time. I mean, how hard is it to check to see what the default is? Or how about this. Don't freaking change it! I think I know more what I want to do than Microsoft's robot idiot.

Oh yeah, another gripe I have. After months and months of hassle-free scanning with my HP scanner, all at once, out of nowhere, Windows keeps wanting to install Windows Scan every time I try to scan something. And it's persistent, too. Persistent as a cocker spaniel trying to get to a cat in an inaccessible place. I have to cancel it five or seven times to let the HP scan program lock in. Every. Single. Scan. Adobe does some idiotic, arrogant things with all their sofware, too. Apple is one of the worst about wanting to run my computer for me, too. Just don't get me started about Quicktime!

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

This may not bode well. . .

I'm concerned. Most of the people I really admire are, like, dead! I'm trying to think of a living person I admire. Hmmmm. Keith Olberman? Johnny Depp? LIberty? Pat? Tal Wilkenfeld! That has to be it. Certainly not Amy Winehouse.

Quote of the Day: "The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to ‘create’ rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting."

-- Justice William J. Brennan, 1982

It looks like the two parties' candidates will be annointed before the primary is ever held here. That's not right. We didn't get the chance to vote for John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Mitt Romney (eww), or Rudy Guiliani (ick). The whole system of some states having primaries before others is wrong. Every voter should have the choice among ALL the candidates, not just whoever the previous states wanted. I can imagine things turning out differently if all states voted at the same time. Or perhaps all voting should be "offline" and over a period of a few months, with the results not being known until the same day, sometime in May. I'm all for limiting the campaign period prior to the primaries, too. This over-saturation of political bullshit is getting to be too much. The whole process is too dependent on money, too. I think the limit on campaign time would force candidates to hone their message, sharpen their intent, and clarify their positions. It would either eliminate negative, attack ads or would make them more prevalent. A couple elections worth of nothing but negativity would hopefully turn the electorate around in their response to such things and perhaps even the candidates would get the message and quit with the attacks and start presenting their passion and qualifications to the voters.

Ralph Nader is making noises like he might run as a third-party candidate again. Why does this formerly-intelligent man keep fucking up elections, almost insuring that the worst candidate will win? He draws votes from the more progressive candidate and allows the Bushes and McCains to take the prize. I'm shocked that supposedly intelligent, concerned people vote for this wack job. I look in his face and see the words "Mental Illness" and "Egomaniac" floating in the pupils of his eyes. He was once a hero to the more progressive of us. Now he's a spoiler and a pathetic waste. Quit it, Ralph. Go away. You've helped in the past, but now you're undoing any good you may have accomplished. It's time to take a different tack.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008     Winter Driving
(10:26 am)

Due to a family emergency, I had to drive to Dayton, Ohio on Monday night. We left here about 5:30 after dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurante. We arrived after a couple unplanned stops around 10:45. It was dark all the way and it snowed and did other obnoxious atmospheric things from Chillicothe onward. The snow started, barely visible in the headlights, then increased. We started to notice some accumulation along the berm. At one point the ice balls or whatever they were came down so hard that I had to slow considerably to avoid overdriving my lights. It was wild. The wildest part, however, was the number of wrecks along the way. We took US 35 from Winfield all the way into Dayton, where we hit I-675. Along US 35 from a point some distance past Chillicothe we saw at least 100 accidents, most, if not all, single car mishaps. The road was wet, icy, slick and in some spots obscured, but I adjusted my driving to the conditions. Apparently some didn't. We saw one car spin out and hit the bank. There were many vehicles, from passenger cars to semi-trailers in the median. There were cars along the side of the pavement, facing the wrong direction. One car was in the median on its side. The whole time we were driving, I had exactly no trouble controlling the van. We saw only one emergency vehicle the whole time, a police car passing us in a construction zone, no lights, no siren. I've come to the conclusion that Ohioans are much like Texans (to paraphrase James McMurtry), deadly on ice.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Yeah, to Dayton.

I bought a couple new guitars from Musicians Friend online last week, after swearing never to deal with them again. They kind of made me an offer I couldn't refuse: 20% off the entire order plus the lower price of a misprint and overnight shipping. I saved considerable fundage. Naturally, there was a problem with the order. One of the guitars was an Epiphone EJ-200CE, modelled after the Gibson J-200 Jumbo, the "King of the Flattops." Once I'd let it adjust to the inside temperature, I took it out of the box (why they didn't ship it in the case is a mystery to me -- would have saved them a shipping container and would have protected the guitar better than just the carboard and packing material), I tuned it and played it for a few minutes. Sweet! I put it on a stand and went about my business. A short while later I looked at my hand -- the fingers up past the first knuckle on my left hand were black. I checked the guitar. The strings were horribly corroded. That's not right. Additionally, the case lid was warped and the back of the case had some sort of white scuff marks on it. Monday I called Musicians Friend and complained. They e-mailed me a UPS label and I packed up the case and sent it back. Now, I can't go anywhere with the guitar until they ship me another case. I asked for replacement strings, too. They were willing to send me a set of extra light gauge (0.10 gauge high-E) to replace them. I said that was not acceptable. After I asked to speak to a supervisor and threatened to take ALL my business elsewhere, they relented and sent me a set of 0.13-0.54 Ernie Ball Earthwoods. Not my optimal choice, but it will do. I've since put my last set of Elixr light-mediums on it, and it sounds and plays nice. I'm considering taking all my music business that I can't fulfill locally to Zzounds instead of Musicians Friend. They must have changed management or something. Perhaps they've just gotten too big to do it the right way anymore. Mostly my needs can be met locally for pretty much the same price as theirs, but there are no Gibson or Epiphone dealers in the area, and the selections are sparce, to say the best of them. I could go over to Ohio, to Columbus or wherever, but that's at least an hour and a half drive each way, with still no guarantee I could find anything I'd like. Fortunately I think I'm about done accumulating music gear, unless it's an impulse buy.

Quote of the Day: ". . . to point at the moon a finger is needed, but woe to those who take the finger for the moon. . . "

-- D. T. Suzuki

It's been snowing here this morning. I was going to take the van in for service and a new inspection sticker, but after throwing my body's clock off by being up until 5:30 Tuesday morning, I didn't get up early enough to do it. I hate sleeping past nine.

One of my MySpace friends, Greg, Gregory J. Kuzmicki D.D., wrote a little something he agreed to share with my reader(s). The following is formatted exactly as he wrote it. He uses the affectation of no capital letters,

take this brief moment to step out of the card board box the media has built for you and realize your worth. read through these few short paragraphs to understand the first step to revolution.

which is being informed.

you can't rebel against something you believe to be right, just or trustworthy. and, unfortunately for most people, their only source of information is from television. and are not informed whatsoever. because a handful of corporations, who think only what is best for business, control the ebb and flow of everything you and i know. 5 corporations own every media outlet on television. government does nothing to stop the funding of broadcasting networks because it is these corporations who funded there campaigns, who put them in office. the simple truth is every single episode of american idol, csi, desperate housewives, oprah, larry king and every other program on television is propaganda, used to make you believe you are informed and know the truth. and most of us pay them to do it! but the truth is you are being deceived. you are not free. you are not informed. open up your eyes. see your potential. you are merely the pawns in their marketing schemes. while, you're dying to know who gets eliminated, innocent people are dying.

and the second most influential medium for information is the internet and although you are being informed as you read, through this powerful tool, the truth is the internet is also biased. the same corporations that own the broadcasting networks own the web. rupert murdoch, the man, who owns fox news owns myspace. as for the sites that sneak through; they are run and organized by the overwhelmingly majority of confused individuals who have unknowingly been "trained" by the media. who believe they know but they have no idea. resulting in misinformed sites. breeding more misinformed people, who believe they are informed. a diseased tree cannot produce healthy fruit. only more disease.

and the third most potent source of information in today's society is public education. and just like television and the internet, school produces more misinformed people who produce more misinformed people who think they are informed. this is the truth. think about it.

so now that you know the truth. how do you become informed?
question everything. because only questions lead to answers.

know more about what you are fighting against, then your enemy knows about itself.

any questions, ask. any ideas, tell.
can you make this article better? make a video, etc? then do it. help. be part of the revolution.

spread this idea. "throw out your tv."
but first lead by example. if you can't throw out your tv, then you are a slave. face the facts. it is plain truth.

start slow if you must, slowly break the chains. reduce television consumption by half an hour each day for a week. then one hour the following week or month. take that extra time to read the constitution. memorize every word. a time will come when knowing the constitution is more valuable than gold.
eat meals without sitting in front of a tv. watch documentaries and informative movies. after you know the constitution like the back of your hand, spend your time with musical instruments or art both excellent alternatives. tell yourself "i would rather dig a hole in my backyard than watch tv." and believe it. if there is an event on tv that you would like to watch, make an effort to watch it with other individuals. rise, rebel, revolt, remember.


Friday, February 22, 2008     My Ears Smell Like Coffee
(11:04 am)

I like to lie in bed early in the morning, propped up on pillows, while I read the morning paper and sip on my first cup of java for the day. Since my moustache hasn't been groomed at this juncture, I get a fair amount of coffee in it, which I blot with a tissue. And for those asking the question, no, it doesn't work like Just For Men Gel -- my 'stache is still white. When I get up and take my shower and perform other morning toilet activities, the tissue rests on my night stand, drying. After I get out of the shower and towel off, I go back into the bedroom to take my morning pills and supplements. At this time I also use the now-dry coffee-blotting tissue to dry the creases and recesses of my ears. And that's why my ears smell like coffee. And you thought it was to attract women!

Quote of the Day: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. "

-- Margaret Mead

I'd like to see comments on Greg Kuzmicki's piece I included in Wednesday's entry. I may have something to say about it, too, but I'd really like to see what other people think. Or, quite honestly, if they think.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

The Second Coming?  The 2008 Olympics?  Bush-Cheney's Demise?  The next Pirates of the Carribean movie?  My  yearly ophthamologist's appointment?  Yeah, that's gotta be it.

Many of you may not know, I hide little "Easter Eggs" in the <alt> tags of the graphics on these pages. If you don't hover your mousie pointy thingie over them, you're missing out.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008     Snow and Loathing
(9:37 am)

A nuisance snow overnight. Just enough to be inconvenient. Makes me want to loll around all day. Well, that and my birthday tomorrow. I always get down a week or so before my birthday. Today is Ralph Stanley's birthday. He was born 20 years and a day before me. Yesterday was Johnny Cash's birthday. You think maybe I should have gone for country or bluegrass? Nah!

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it. . .  This Internet will self-destruct on April 12, 2012.

Recently I bought an Epiphone acoustic guitar. I love it. It's great. Sounds fantastic, has action 1/64 higher than a Les Paul, plays wonderfully. Only problem is that the case was warped and scuffed up. The packaging was intact so the problem was one of Musicians Friend's or Epiphone's doing. I sent it back. It got there last Thursday. I just this morning got an "order confirmation" from them. That's usually a day in advance of actual shipping. I had called them either Monday or Tuesday inquiring about the status of the replacement. I told them I had a gig Friday and needed the case. If it ships tomorrow, it'll have to come to me Next-day air. Somehow I doubt they'll ship it that way. I won't have the case until next week, no doubt. Piss me off! Actually the so-called "gig" I have is just an open mic, so I don't really have to go, but I would have liked to have gone. And it's not like I don't have other guitars, but I just wanted to take this one on its maiden flight. So much for what I want, eh?

Quote of the Day: "Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind."

-- Leonardo Da Vinci

From offhand comments and from perusing the statistics of my web pages, I find an interesting lot of people who visit these pages. I sometimes find it baffling which pages a great number of people choose to visit at certain times. I'm not sure what the impetus is to latch onto the July 2007 page as opposed to any of the others going back to April 1999. The range of countries heard from causes me to scratch my head sometimes, too. Most of the hits are from dot-com addresses. Second greatest number are from dot-net addresses. Most months, the next greatest number of hits are from either dot-edu or dot-org. Not this month. This month the number three spot is Brazil. Wonder if Mardi Gras (Carnivale) has anything to do with that? Other countries in the mix for this shortest of months are Colombia, The Republic of Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Israel, and the usual European suspects -- a total of 28 different countries. And this is a slow month. . .

Well, Ralph, unwitting tool of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Nader has entered the fray. Please, people, this moron has exactly zero chance of being elected President, and his candidacy is no more a statement than buying a prok chop. He is apparently delusional, or is being paid by the Republicans to siphon votes away from the more liberal Democratic candidate. Ralphie, remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, "United, we stand. Divided, we fall." Not mere rhetoric, these words. The last two elections, you had enough votes to possibly make the difference, and that gave us eight years of the worst President in history. And we've had some bad ones! Stop it, Ralph! Go away. You're only doing harm. You need to rein in that ego of yours and realize the damage you do whenever you pull this stunt. You candidacy means nothing. NOTHING. Except perhaps John McCain in the White House. And we certainly don't need that. I have all the respect in the world for Senator McCain, but I seriously don't believe that anyone who was a POW for five years, who was tortured and subjected to trauma day after day, should be in such a position of authority. I've seen PTSD manifest itself years after the fact in disasterous ways, and the trauma lurking under McCain's surface is much greater. Like Ralph Nader's book title, McCain is Unsafe at Any Speed. Don't do it, Ralph. Have a little sense for a change, before they come and put you in St. Elizabeth's as a danger to yourself and others.


Friday, February 29, 2008     Leap Day!
(10:41 am)

Yesterday was my birthday. Tomorrow's March. I found out by reading the paper this morning that Wednesday (27th) was Chelsea Clinton's birthday, and that she had her birthday dinner here at the Bridge Road Bistro. I've never eaten there. I seldom think of South Hills in terms of anything but residential. I should go up there sometime and look around. My birthday dinner was at the Tidewater Grill. Nice. Ann had the steak and chicken teryaki grill and I had the seafood grill (salmon, swordfish, scallops, and shrimp). Delicious. I absolutely love scallops and swordfish. I have them far too infrequently. I had a nice chardonnay with my dinner, but I forgot what it was. Rats! Ann had a shiraz. She didn't care for it. I tried a sip. I thought it was quite nice. I'll have to buy a bottle or three of various brands to see if I can find one I like. Several of the people from Channel 3 News were having dinner there, too. My favorite anchor, Penny Moss was at the next table over. I resisted the temptation to walk over and pinch her cheeks. It was difficult.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Does that mean I'm a transformer?

The Tidewater is owned by a company that owns several restaurant chains. One of the chains operates Italian restaurants called Grazi. We got a gift certificate to Grazi for Christmas. The restaurant at Towne Centre, next to the Tidewater, closed down on New Year's Day. Bummer. Fortunately the company honored the certificate at The Tidewater. It made paying for my birthday dinner a lot less painful. The fact that my dinner, drink, and dessert were complimentary helped as well. It's a nice place to eat, but the prices for an entré start at about what I'm used to paying for a complete mean for two. Would that I were so well off as to afford to eat at places like that on a regular basis. . .

Quote of the Day: "Discovery consists in seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought."

-- Albert Szent-Gy-rgi

I got my Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus back from the Pied Piper yesterday. Nothing had been done to it. They said it would be too expensive to gut the whole wiring harness and replace it, which would be essentially what it would require. Okay. Well, I can get the entire wiring set-up from Stewart-MacDonald for $33.47 and probably spend an hour, maybe a little more putting it together. That doesn't seem prohibitively expensive to me. Of course, they're in it for the money so the charges would likely double that total, at least. I guess I'll be ordering the wiring kit sometime today, and one day next week will be a construction project. I really want to get that guitar up and running. It sounds fantastic.

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