Monday, February 28, 2005

CD Update

I went into the studio this weekend to record more tracks. Actually, half the time was spent directing horns. I added sax and trumpet to one of my song. Two talented young musicians from my church folk group were kind enough to play for me. I was looking for a really big horn sound along the vein of The Who's 515. And boy did I get it. It's great what you can do with two horns and overdubbing tracks. They were pretty impessed with the results of their work. And so was I.

On the negative side, I spend the next two hours after recording horns trying to record a drum track on a different song. It was difficult going for some reason. After my third or fourth attempt to record a bass drum track and being off by a fraction of a beat (enough to make it sound horrible) it finally dawned on me that the song didn't need drums. On a gut feeling, I had my engineer Brian put some keyboards in instead with a string kind of sound. It was perfect. So after almost 3 hours of time recording a bass track (on a different day) and a drum track, I'm scrapping both, re-recording the bass track to make it more simple, and Brian is working on the keyboard track. I fell back on the most basic rule of music, less is more. I was trying to make the song far too complicated. It started out as an acoustic guitar piece and it really doesn't need all the extra "band" stuff. But, that's how it goes sometimes.

I've got to put drums on one more song and then I can get back to being a guitar player and start putting down leads for the songs. Of course, I now have to come up with some leads for the songs so they sound thought out instead of me jamming and making shit up as I go. That's going to be the plan for a couple of songs but it would be nice if they all didn't sound like the same lead in different keys.

On the home front, I think the little lady is coming down with a sinus infection type of thing (more accurately, she thinks she's coming down with it). She's been real tired the last couple of days. I'm trying to let her rest as much as possible. She drives herself a little hard in trying to get everything done on a daily basis. She's not doing that Supermom thing but it's a lot of work having a full time job, keeping a house up, raising two boys, and caring for 3 boys. A quick cute story. I told the boys to go easy on my wife during the bed time routine since she was tired. My younger son gave my wife his stuffed bear and his seal puppet to lay down with in her chair so she wouldn't be lonely. He's sweet like that.

I'm thinking of starting up a website to promote the CD. I have to look around for a good free website that will allow posting of a decent number of pictures and music clips. If I find something and get it running, I'll let everyone know. I'll put up some music clips of the work in progress (at least the clips where my singing is half way decent). I would then potentially use the site to sell the music. My current intention is that if I do sell copies, all proceeds will go back to my church. This project isn't about me making money. It's about me giving back to the Lord and my community.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

So you want to be a childcare worker

My wife got a call from our daycare center this afternoon. The boys are there all day due to the holiday from school. Our younger son has been diagnosed with PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) which translates to a high functioning autistic child. You'd never figure it out from seeing him since he appears to be a "normal" child at first glace.

Part of his having autism is that he has serious fears of some things. I mean totally shut down the kid kind of things. One of his is balloons. If you get out a balloon without properly preparing him (letting him know about it several times well ahead of time and giving him an opportunity to go somewhere else if he's still not sure) he will flip out.

so the day care calls and the girl on the phone says my boy is in the corner of the bathroom crying and screaming and won't come out. You see, they decided to do a balloon activity and didn't tell him. His great fear is that the balloon will pop and make a loud noise and he cannot stand certain loud noises, the main two being the sound of air going into a balloon and the sound of a balloon popping. At a minimum he will fold his ears down to cover them, at worst, he ends up in the corner of the bathroom screaming his head off.

The counsellor was asking my wife how to calm him down. She had already asked our older son what to do and he said he didn't know. My wife asks that the girl put our younger boy on the phone to see if that would calm him. He came down pretty quick after she talked to him. When my wife asked to talk to the cousellor again, a man gets on the line and he's like "oh yeah, if there's any more problems, I can calm him down, no sweat, don't worry about it. We're cool."

Now, I feel bad for my little boy that he was traumatized due to someone's inexperience. However, I do have to chuckle at the thought of a 18 to 20 year old trying to manage a disabled kid with no clue as to how to proceed. And I know what a lot of you are thinking. If you saw this out on the street you would think I just had some rotten kind of kid. A quick admonishment to everyone out there that just because a kid doesn't have some obvious looking disablitiy (Down's syndrome, crutches, or something) doesn't mean that the child might not have developmental issues. My older child has ADHD so my wife and I struggle daily with keeping the kids on task. It ain't easy, let me tell you.

Anyway, this isn't a sermon. I plan on giving my little guy lots of hugs and reassurances when I get home to compensate for his bad day. I'm sure he'll give me an earful about the balloon.


Monday, February 21, 2005

On the lighter side

Since the last couple of posts have been kind of heavy, I thought some lighter fare was in order. First quick note, I found out a new pet peeve to annoy the wife: dress shirts with the sleeves half in, half out. She was doing laundry and when I removed one of my dress shirts I neglected to pull the sleeves all the way out before throwing it in the hamper. A no-no! I got the look of death and a sarcastic comment. Note to self, make sure all shirts have sleeves half in and out.

On a second note, my older son (9) has taken up knitting. I'm not sure where his interest came from, but he ordered a book through school that came with instructions, a small pair of wooden knitting needles, and some yarn. He was having trouble with the directions so my mom helped him out. I think it made grandma feel good to pass on the knowledge to a new generation. She's from the "old country" though she's lived here for close to 40 years. My sister (the only girl in the household) didn't care to learn. My parents have 5 grandsons and no granddaughters so I don't think my mom thought anyone would want to learn. He's doing pretty good so far and can't wait to work on it some more. Personally I think it's really cool that he has "non-traditional" interests. I'm all for encouraging any interests the kids have, whether or not they may be my interests. Plus, if he really gets into it it will keep him still and quiet for a while, a definate plus for the wife and I.

I've got studio time scheduled this Saturday to do more recording on the CD project. It's on the planner but I'm sure the wife will not realize it until about Friday. This session is slated for horns. Should be interesting as I'm bringing in some friends from Church. They're pretty good but are used to playing with music. No such luck on this gig. I'm relying on their musical instincts. They're a little nervious but I think they'll do great. The sax player is a senior in high school and has great chops for an 18 year old. She'll do great. Can't wait to see how it comes out. I'll post something next week with an update.

Also on the musical front, the new praise group I'm running at church practiced yesterday. It was the first time we had a guitar, drums, and bass with vocals we could hear. It was very cool. All the musicians were quite excited. I think we've got something special here. It will take a few more practices until everyone's fully comfortable with each other but we're already starting to get a feel for each other and what the other will do. Kick off is May 1. Wish us luck everyone.


In response to the Retropolitan

Due to the 1000 character limit of Haloscan (would have been nice to know about that before putting it in), I'm going to post my response to issues raised in the comments of my previous post. I must first thank the Retropolitan for stimulating my thinking and making me dig deep for answers to the questions posed to me. It would be easy simply to blow off someone that questions your beliefs or to get defensive. Harder to look inside yourself for answers when hard questions are asked of you. I also want to thank him for the civil debate. It is also too easy to simply brand someone a fanatic instead of listening.

The first issue brought up was concerning prayer. I understand there are some versions of Chritianity that believe in healing only through prayer, to the point of withholding life saving procedures/medicines. I feel sorry for those that do believe this. They are taking some passages from the Old Testement far to literally and needlessly endangering themselves and thier family. I find the Old Testement difficult at times in that some of the passages, especially when it comes to rules and regulations, really were meant for a specific time and people. They discuss some pretty detailed things down to how many animals you must compensate someone for killing their bull, etc. Getting to the meaning behind the rules instead of blindly following them is difficult. But that's another discussion. The official Catholic position is that prayer is in addition to, not a supplement for, modern living. In other words, there is no prohibition to living in the world and making oneself available to modern conveniences, including medicine. There are ethical issues to struggle with, cloning, abortion, euthenasia, etc. The Catholic Church teaches that life is to be respected and all of your actions should be consistant with a respect for life. There is no need to sacrifice just for the sake of sacrificing.

On the question of religious tolerance, a little history would be helpful I think. I was raised a typical Italian catholic, that is I went to church twice a year: Christmas and Easter. In high school, I became an athiest: ie I decided that I should only believe it what I could see or prove. Sure, many of the stories in the Bible have some historical context to them. There are records describing Jesus and the religion that came about after his death. This didn't make him a Divine being. My views on tolerance, liberalism, personal freedom, etc were all shaped during this time period. While my wife and I were dating, I slowly began making my journey back to the Church. It started with going to Mass with her and just sitting. I eventually came to believe again, mostly because it made sense to me. Not necesarlily Catholicism specifically, but being a Christian. I was familiar with the Catholic faith from growing up in it so that is why I am what I am. However, my wife grew up with a Baptist father and Catholic mother. We attended services at her dad's church from time to time and that's how I came to realize that these people were just as spiritual as any Catholic I've known. We differed primarily on rules, not on faith. I will say that there are religions that purport to be "Christian" that I believe are not. I think they take portions of the Bible and distort them and mess up people's lives.

Now to my point. I believe that Christianity is the correct path to eternal life. However, I don't think it is my role to personally convert every person that I meet. One of the themes during this season of Lent is being a light to the world. That's really how I see my role. Christ welcomed all to follow him gently, by setting a good example to follow and then patiently waiting. He didn't go to conquer the world by force. That's what I try to do. I'm trying to live my faith and be an example for others. Perhaps someone will turn to Christ because of something I've said or done. That would be great. Perhaps not. Not a problem. I've turned over my music to Christ for this reason. Primarily to give back to the Lord the gifts He's given me. However, music played a role in my return to Christ so perhaps my music can help someone else. At least, my example has shown one person that not all Christians are fanatics, so that's something.

As for the my CD project, I admit, it can all be written off as coincidense. The struggles with my band were mostly just trying to get 3 people together in the studion on the same day. Life intrudes and it's hard to get things done sometimes. However, now that I've made the decision to go the route I have, it's kind of taken a life of its own. The songs are becoming much more that I originally envisioned. I've had so much insiration on this project. I attribute it to the Lord working through my music. Maybe it isn't, but I really think it is. I may still finish the songs with my band. But I need to get this done first.

On God and common sense: Believing in God does not mean suspending belief in the real world. One of the teachings of the church (I may have mentioned this earlier) is that science actually confirms the work of God. If we assume that God created the universe, then it works by His design. Studying science is simply studying God's design. Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic church actually teaches that evolution is valid scientific evidence. What the Church teaches is that at some point in the evolutionary process, God placed a "soul" in man and made us aware in our current form. Granted, you cannot prove this scientifically, but after all, isn't the study of the spirit of man the province of religion? Being religious doesn't mean supension of rationality. There is the element of faith in religion, the belief that something you cannot prove is true. And what of it? What in science actually contradicts the Bible? The two things science cannot prove is where all matter in the universe came from and what happens to us after we die. These are not observable phenomenon and cannot be inferred or extrapolated using mathematical models. Does this mean all science is wrong? Certainly not. Again, believing in God does not mean hanging up your brain at the door and letting the Bible or a minister think for you. God gave us the ability to think for ourselves for a reason.

On a final note, you mentioned that you hope I'm the good person that my being a good person is independant of God. I don't think that's true. Back in the days when I was toying with atheism, I didn't have as ethical a character as I do now. This is not to say that atheism made me unethical. What I'm saying is that the person I was then cared more for myself than other people. It may have been youth, it may have been a need to be outrageous, whatever. I know that I had less respect for other's feelings back then. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to help others. Returning to the Church helped me refine my moral code and my ethics. It made me look critically at myself and try and improve the kind of person I was. Would I have done that anyway? Perhaps. I don't know. All I know is that being a Christian has made a difference for me. I also don't think I would have taught my children the values they have if not for being a Christian. So for me anyway, it's made a positive impact on my life.

We all need to understand each other better in order to get along. News reports from those parts of the world that are full of hate because of peoples differences (Muslim vs Jew/Christian, black vs white, Serb vs Bosnian, whatever) always depress me. We spend so much time hating each other instead of just trying to live together. If I could teach my children anything is not to hate someone because they're different. We are all part of the same human family. God teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and it always confuses me why we can't.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Warning - Long Rambling Follows

I apoligise in advance if this post is long, however, I was on a roll. Due to 1000 character limit in Haloscan, if you have a long comment/reply you would like to post, please email it to me (sidewinder@bluefrog.com) and I'll post it seperately. Enjoy.

I read an interesting article by an atheist who discussed raising her child without God. She was unashamed to say she didn’t believe in God and was teaching her child to believe in what she could see and/or prove. The writer was a scientist that had a belief system based on the scientific method. You have a hypothesis, gather data to prove the hypothesis, then adjust your hypothesis based on the data you observe. All well and good.

However, a couple of things struck me. First, I found it sad when the author’s child said something to the effect that she wasn’t “wasting her time praying in a church”. The child went on to say something to the effect that if someone was sick, then she wouldn’t pray for the person, she would get the person medicine. Of course, being a child, she missed the entire point of praying.

The other thing that struck me is that the author’s daughter had this fear of death and would start just screaming and crying. And you know what, the die hard atheist had absolutely no good answer for her daughter. Her belief system demands that once you die, that’s it, you’re only a memory. And I thought, “How terribly sad.”

Now, I’m not one to mock another’s belief system or go on about how the Catholic faith is the only path to eternal life. I’ve been called a closet secular humanist (you know who you are) but I think I’m just open minded enough to realize that I’m not smart enough to have the monopoly on the truth. However, the article got me to thinking. The atheist will only believe in what they can see or prove. Being a Christian, I really can’t prove there is a God. I can perhaps infer there is a God, however, these inferences can be interpreted in many different ways, including coincidence. However, they are some of the things that have led me to conclude, personally, that I’m placing my faith in the right place.

On creation, I do believe that God created the universe. Not in seven days as it states in Genesis, but that He formed all the “stuff” of the universe out of the emptiness and set the universe in motion to become what it is today. I won’t go into this too heavily as I’ve posted on the subject of creation versus evolution already. On a personal level, I’ve found that if I try to control my life, nothing goes right and I end up miserable. I’ve read Ayn Rand and her brand of objective self determination and am familiar with the individualist school of thought where you are the master of your own destiny. I’ve found when I simply let go of the need to control things, then suddenly success comes my way. I’ve stopped worrying about my career, personal direction, etc and simply pray to Jesus that He guide me and help me make the right choices as they come up.

I’ll give two specific examples, though I’m sure anyone could right them off as coincidence. First, at my last job, I saw the hand writing on the wall that once an account our company provided call center support for ended, that there probably wouldn’t be a need for three supervisors, of which I was one. For a while I made an active job search so I could get out while the getting was good. I had absolutely no luck. So I did the smart thing (for me anyway). I gave it over to Jesus and trusted Him to take care of me, one way or the other, and stopped worrying about it. Absolutely out of the blue (I’m not kidding here) I get a call from a recruiter whom I hadn’t spoken with in over 2 years. She asked me what I was doing in my current position. I told her I was a help desk supervisor. She then proceeded to describe a perfect position for me and asked if I was interested. Of course I was. I interviewed with the company a couple of times. After my last interview, I went into work and it was made official that a supervisor would be laid off at the end of the summer. The next day I got the job offer for the new position.

Second personal example: I’d been trying to cut a CD with my original band for over a year. The result was a couple of songs, mostly mine, and months of canceling recording sessions and getting nowhere. Creatively I was having trouble writing songs. While out rollerblading, it hits me. God didn’t want me to cut a CD with the band. I had been contemplating writing only “praise” music dedicated to God. I made the decision to cut a CD on my own and began writing music. I had 10 songs completed in about 2 months, my most creative period ever. The CD is coming along nicely and I’m very inspired on this project. Again, this doesn’t prove anything but it does it for me.

Lastly, it is a great comfort to know that for me, death isn’t the end. My children are not afraid of death because they know they are destined for Heaven. I take comfort and await seeing some of my friends and family that have died one day. Another quick story. An employee of mine died in a drunk driving accident. She was 30 and left behind a 10 year old. Very tragic. At the funeral, I looked up at the statue of Jesus above the alter. I had this vision of Jesus holding her and just knew she was at peace. I also knew I’d see her again.

Peace to all of you out there reading this.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Random story

OK,

Since I can't come up with anything cool to write, I'll just post a sea story. I'll regail you of my experiences in Germany. During Operation Teamwork 92, we stopped in Wilheshaven, Germany. Myself and two buddies rented a car and headed to Hamburg to see some sights. We had now idea where we were going but wandered around the city until we reached what looked like a nice area. It was called St. Pauli, like the beer. We park and start walking around. We ran into some other shipmates hanging around a Burger King and decided to make it a central location to meet back up later. Anyway, my buddy and I are doing some shopping and notice this rather attractive looking woman wearing really tight pants, hip boots, very sexy. We raise our eyebrows and enjoy the scenery. We later meet back up at the Burger King and notice about a dozen women leaning against the wall dressed exactly the same was as above lady. And then it dawns on us. St. Pauli in Hamburg is the red light district.

Imagine that, a bunch of sailors on leave end up in the red light district. Who would have thought. It was the first time we'd been in a city where prostitution was legal. There were some interesting places. We took notice of a bunch of women in lingerie standing in the doorway of an establishment. One of the guys when to talk to them. (DISCLAIMER: I did not then, would not now, and never will have any sort of relations for money. Believe it or not, I have not been to a strip club since I began dating my wife, over 20 years ago, out of respect for her.) He found out that the "going rate" was $20 to go up to a room with one of the ladies. We found it suspicious that no one was in the club but the "ladies". We later found out (from another shipmate dumb enough to go up to the room) that $20 gets you to the room. Various "activities" were an additional charge. Having the "lady" remove clothing was also extra. He endend up spending over $100. Sucker.

The other unique thing there that I have not seen before or since was "window shopping". We noticed after dark that one of the streets was screen off. That is, you needed to go around a series of screens to go into this street so that it was not visible from the intersection. Being of curious natures, we decided to find out why it was blocked off. Of course, this was the street where ladies were sitting in the window awaiting customers. They would open an awning and you would negotiate services and cost. If one left the window with a customer, another would take her place. We browsed for a little while and moved on.

Once we'd left Germany, I was speaking with one of the personnel on watch with me who mentioned he had slept with one of these "window women". He was awfully proud of the fact he had done so. His comment was that he had slept with a beautiful woman. Of course, we had to remind him that since he paid her money, it's not like it was much of a challenge or anything. To top it all off, he paid over $100 to have sex with this woman, and she didn't even get undressed! That was extra and he didn't want to pay. She simply moved aside her panty to give him access, so to speak. Ah, a fool and thier money are soon parted.

That particular trip was quite fun, St. Pauli aside. We also visited Oslo, Norway and Portsmouth, England. Both were great countries to visit and no prostitutes were involved. I grew especially fond of England and hard cider. There is an authentic English pub here in Rochester (I mean it is run by students from England studying hostelry in college on an internship. Authentic English food, authentic pub atmosphere, and great cider on draft. And it's 3 blocks from where I work. Life can be good!


Julie Made Me Do It

I've been tagged with this list so here goes. Don't know what this will say about me but you never know.

10 Random songs in your library
These are the next 10 songs set up to play on my Itunes player
1. World of Denial - Joan Jett
2. Out for Blood - Lita Ford
3. Red Barchetta - Rush
4. Shining Star - Stryper
5. The Night Comes Down - Queen
6. C'Mon Along - Rik Emmett
7. High Speed on Ice - Talas
8. I Need You - Foreigner
9. The Camera Eye - Rush
10. Too Little, Too Late - Rik Emmett

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
1.79 Gig

2. The last CD you bought is:
21st Anniversary/Not That Innocent - Girlschool - This CD rocks!

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?
Get Even With You - Foreigner

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you

1. Spread Your Wings - Queen
2. Together As One - Stryper (our wedding song)
3. Love Token - Brian May
4. The River - Michael Sweet
5. Shout for Joy - Me

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Nobody likes me enough to tab next. Though the Retropolitan would probably enjoy. So he's it.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Wal-Mart is evil

Just to give a little background, I haven't been too happy with Wal-Mart for a while now. They claim that they're good for the local economy but if anything, they've made shopping in my neighborhood worse. We got a super Wal-Mart that includes the grocery store. Prior to them coming around, our major supermarket chain would have great weekly specials, buy one get one free promotions, and other great savings that would allow you to stock up on non-perishable items when they were at a really good price.

Then enter's Wal-Mart. Their "regular" price was slightly lower that the other chain. So now, in order to "compete" and make it look like their pricing is as good as Wal-Mart, weekly specials have basically gone by the wayside. They've set the price at about what Wal-Mart's is. Not to mention, it always takes me forever to get through the check out line at Wal-Mart, the place looks run down and cheap, the service is horrible, and the people working there don't really know anything.

So much for Wal-Mart being good for our area.

Now, for those of you that have not heard, Wal-mart is closing a store in Canada. Why you might ask? They say it's loosing money. Why is it loosing money? Because (according to Wal-Mart) the labor force unionized. Wal-Mart says it cannot reach an agreement with the workers so they are closing up the store. So that you don't think this is an isolated incident, the only other group that unionized within Wal-Mart was the meat-cutters. They were the ones that sliced up and packaged all the meat sold in Wal-Mart superstores. Shortly afterwards, Wal-Mart decided to "eliminate the position" and purchased pre-packaged meat. So much for Wal-Mart employees wanting to organize.

Across the country, more and more locations are deciding that they don't want super Wal-Marts and would rather have their smaller, local stores. A community in the LA area recently voted them out in a referendum. Here in New York State, a small community in the Adirondak Mountains is fighting them as well. Wal-Mart seems to think that everyone should welcome them with open arms wherever they go. They seem to thing all anyone cares about is buying stuff as cheap as they can get it.

I hate to tell them, but there are people that are willing to pay a little more for things like service, well trained staff, and the ability not to get lost in a big warehouse. I and my family no longer shop at Wal-Mart and never will again.

As I said, they're evil.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Deja Vu all over again

Talk about weird timing. I'm watching a repeat episode of the Daily Show the other day. John Stewart is talking to a New Yorker columnist that said we will probably go to war with Iran. He said the administration is starting to do the same things it did with Iraq. The Europeans at the time were (and still are) trying a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program but the US is not supporting the effort at all. He said the next step would be the whole thing gets thrown to the UN to do something, which means nothing happens. Next thing you know the US comes out and says the UN is totally ineffective and that something has to be done so we'll do it. Sound familiar? Substitute terrorism, WMDs, and bringing democracy to the region and you've got the whole process that ended us up in Iraq.

Now yesterday, Condi Rice makes a speech in Europe saying that the UN may need to take action but the there is "no timetable" for compliance. That is, until we're ready to bomb Iran, then all of a sudden there will be a definate time table. This administration's out of control. Bush says he wants to cut the deficit in half by the end of his presidency yet keeps spennding more money on Iraq and elsewhere. This guy lives in his own little fantasy world. By the time he gets out of office, it will take us decades to recover from his bad and failed policies. Keep your eyes open, people, there's bad juju coming. And just this morning North Korea announced that it actually does have a nuclear weapons program. Which we should have done something about before getting involved in Iraq. Which is a rant of another sort.

Sleep well children. I hope your President has made you feel safer in a troubled world. I know I don't feel safer with him at the helm.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Shameless Plug

I've just placed a link for the local Rochester band Hothouse on my sidebar. The keyboard and bass player were band mates of mine when I was in Al's Neighbors. John (on keys) is the guy with the goatee on the left side. Sandy (bass) is the lady on the left. Anyway, here's the link as well: http://www.hothouseband.us/. If you're in the Rochester area, check them out! There's a video clip on the site you can check out. Good luck Sandy and John!


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Redemption!

I decided to kill some time at lunch today and went back to Guitar Center, this time to play some acoustic guitars. They are now slightly redeeemed in my eyes. The expensive guitars I played sounded and felt like expensive guitars. What a concept! I played this $2000 classical guitar that was just a joy. It elegant in sound. The neck was smooth as glass and it made me play better than I normally do. Just what I would expect. I played an Ovation acoustic I kind of liked. I also tried out a $2800 Gibson acoustic. Puts all the electrics they have out there to shame! It was soooo sweet sounding. And so easy to play. Again, just what I'm looking for if I intend to spend that much money on an instrument.

On a related note, I really need to cut the fingernails on my right hand. They're getting too long. Since I play the classical guitar, I cut my fingernails as short as I can on the left hand and grow them to about 1/4 inch or so on the right. Funny looking, but necessary. That also means filing them and generally doing the same things the sames things the ladies do with their nails. It can be a pain in the ass. Once they start getting to about a 1/2 inch or so, then they get in the way of everything, especially typing. And I'm at a keyboard all day. Oh well, the price we pay for our passions. My wife still makes fun of me because I only have nails on one hand. See how I suffer for my art!


Monday, February 07, 2005

Guitar Center sucks

I can't believe it! I'm driving around looking for a place to eat tonight and don't I find a Guitar Center. So of course after dinner I just had to kill some time and browse. What a disappointment. Hundreds of guitars in there and not a one I really wanted to pick up and play. I played a few just for the hell of it. The thing that amazed me most was how every Gibson Les Paul I picked up was just HORRIBLE! They had the stickyest necks I've ever seen! And these are guitars in the $2000 range. You would think at that price they would practically play themselves. But nooooo. I don't know what that place does with them. Every time I go in there they never have anything good. Now, mind you, I'm a little picky when it comes to guitars. I've been playing long enough that I know what I like and I'm looking for something specific. But ususally they have some nice high end guitars worth at least trying. Not this one. Oh well, I managed to kill an hour or so. I'm still searching for the next perfect guitar. I've found 4 of them in my life and happen to own 3 of them. Not a bad record. I don't know why I really bother looking. I already know what I want for the next guitar (WARNING: IF YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT DETAILS OF GUITAR TYPES AND CONSTRUCTION, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH).

What I really want is a Desert Yellow Ibanez RG-550. They're not made any more so I need to get one off of Ebay or happen to find one in a guitar shop. The next is incredibly fast, 24 frets, with the locking tremelo system. I intend to take out the origial pick guard and pickups and replace them with 3 Burns Trisonic pickups wired in series with phase switches like Brian May uses on his guitar. This, of course, requires a custom pickguard and custom work on the body. No matter. I already have a hot pink RG-550 the I replaced the pickups on and I love the thing. It comes in a close second behind my main ax, my black Yamaha SG-2000. Plus it's just so flashy that everyone looks. YEH BABY!

Anyway, it's always a huge disappointment when you know just what you want and can't find it. Oh well, I'll keep looking.


Oh, and one more thing. I've heard and read a lot about how dull Paul McCartney was last night during the super bowl halftime show. The concensus amount the "critics" and "those in the know" is that essential Paul McCartney is a has been and that they should have gotten a more modern band and done something more "spectacular". My comment is this (to paraphrase Yoda): When 40 years has passed, your favorite new band in the Super Bowl will not be, eh? I'd be willing to bet a lot that most of the so called "modern bands" will be a distant memory 40 years from now while new generations will still be listening to the music Paul McCartney wrote. After all, how many bands in the last 20 years have changed music forever? Yeah, that's what I thought.


Can you be a liberal Christian?

This post is due to a thread I started having with the Retropolitan. He had a good question so I thought I would expand on it. I mentioned that as a Catholic, I don't have this belief that my faith/Religion is the only true religion and that by extension, all others are false. The question was posed, "Vince, can't be! If I believe in one religion, doesn't that mean I should believe that all other religions are incorrect?"

It was an interesting question that made me try to put my belief into words. As Haloscan has a 1000 character limit, I thought I would dedicate some space to it.

A little background first. In case you couldn't figure it out, I am a MAJOR liberal. Not as liberal as I was in high school or college (growing up and having kids tends to make you rethink some things). But for the most part I think we need to tinker with the system to make it better where conservatives tend to want to leave things alone. I also believe the government has a role and responsibility in looking after its citzens. By extension, I believe in freedom of expression and religion. Anything that smacks of censorship makes my blood boil. Ok, now to the point.

I really beleive that every person has the right to beleive what they want. I grew up a traditional Italian Catholic. Meaning I went to church 3 times a year: Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. By the time I got to High School, I didn't even go on Christmas. Consequently, I never learned all the "rules" that go with the Catholic faith. By some quirk, even thought I went to public school up to 8th grade, I went to a Catholic high school. There, I learned some things about the Catholic faith but it didn't really say anything to me. I didn't really start coming back to the faith until college. I became a fan of the Chritian band Stryper. Now, it's hard to listen to a lot of music extolling the praises of Jesus without it starting to affect you. On top of this, my wife and I became engaged around that time. She was a faithful churchgoer and really wanted me to go with her since she wanted any children we had to grow up in the faith. It wouldn't do to have one parent that didn't go. She didn't make a huge deal about it but kept gently nudging. Eventually I started going to Church with her and became active in the faith again.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess I'm not your "standard" Catholic. My personal belief is that all roads to Jesus are vaild. Meaning, as Christians, we are all supposedly worshipping the same Lord. Sure, some of the rules are different, but if you look at them closely, the core beliefs are the same. All churches have a spiritual leader on Earth. Catholics happen to call him the Pope. Some people feel that praying to saints or Mary is beneficial. It doesn't do anything for me personally, but so what?

My basic position is that who the Hell am I to say that the way I worship is the "correct" way? Hell, I have a hard enough time just living as Jesus would want me to live. I don't have the time to start telling other people what they believe is wrong. There's a couple of scripture passages that pretty much sum it up for me: Do not judge or you will be judged. Also, how can you take the splinter out of your brother's eye when you have a beam in your own? I'm still battling getting that beam out of my eye. I'm not ready yet to take the moral high ground and set myself as the example for others to follow.

Ok, so I can justify just about any Christian faith as equally valid so Catholocism is not the "one true CHRISTIAN" faith. What about all those others? Jews, Muslims, Buddists, whatever. You know what, it doesn't really bother me. The Jewish and Muslim faith still believe in God. It still boils down to we worship the same Lord. Jesus once said "those that are not against me are for me". True, I beleive that Jesus died for our sins and that by believing in Him and following Him then we will recieve everlasting life. But who am I to tell God what to do? How do I know that Jews and Muslims are not also going to Heaven. At the end of the Gospel of John, Peter questions why one of the deciples of Jesus was following him. Jesus basically said, "What do you care?" God will do as He wills and who are we to question it.

The same goes really for other faiths. Who are we to say that we have "the answer" and that only this one path leads to Salvation? I think what Christians really need to do is set an example and just be "a light to the world". If other's see value in what we do as followers of Christ, they will also want to follow. I think my job is just to be an example. I'm not always a good one, but I do what I can. I've pretty much dedicated my musical talent to serving Christ. I play in our church music group, and I've decided to only write Christian music. I think that God's been leading me there. If by listening to my music or by watching me it brings people closer to God, that's great. If not, that's fine too. I think if we spent more time trying to be good people and helping others and less arguing about who is right and who is wrong, our world would be a better place. Imagine for a minute if everyone just followed the basic tenet of loving your neighbor. Forget everything else the Bible might teach. What a world we could create. And we wouldn't have to be Christian to do it. But then again, if we all loved our neighbor, would we be "Christian" anyway? At least in spirit?


Sunday, February 06, 2005

I'm in Albany

I arrived in my hotel in Albany about 2 hours ago. I'll be in a class this week. I'm learning to administer Microsoft exchange 2003. Yeah! For you non-IT type people, it's probably very dull.

I decided to write a little since I've got the Super Bowl on and New England's winning. I was hoping the Eagles would be in this. Not that I'm a big Eagles fan or anything, I just like the underdog. Plus they've never won one.

Anyway, nothing too new. It was actually harder to leave for this trip than I thought. I was kind of looking forward to it as a little break from all the normal stess of the week. I only have to concentrate on the class. However, when it came time to leave, I didn't want to go. I really wanted the wife and kids to go with me. Isn't that funny? It is going to be a little lonely withouth them but I brought plenty of distractions between the laptop and some books.

I had an interesting and productive conversation last night with my wife. Nothing too earth shattering. She did admit that she doesn't particulary like me when I'm yelling or mad. Can't blame her really. It's something I know I have to work on but isn't very easy. Not that I have a major temper or anything, it's just so easy to get frustrated at times. Once I get frustrated, then stupid little things can get me angry. And I have a tendancy to stay angry for a while. Like from hours to days depending on what I'm pissed about. I think I'm getting better about things but it's hard to say. Anyway, I can't complain about the wife since she still sticks in there with me even when I'm a pain in the ass.

I should be able to write some this week. I've got a couple of ideas for posts so hopefully they'll be interesting. Stay tuned for those. I'm also hoping this week will be a bit like a retreat and I can come home recharged. Wish me luck.


Friday, February 04, 2005

What the hell

I ususally don't go for crap like this but as the title says, what the hell. Don't know what this says about me.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 5:55 am
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds, pearls are for girls
3. What was the last film you saw at the Cinema? Meet the Fockers
4. What is your favorite TV show? Battlestar Galactica on SciFi
5. What did you have for breakfast? ceral
6. What is your middle name? Mario
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian
8. What foods do you dislike? Middle eastern
9. What kind of car do you drive? Olds Intrigue
10. Favorite Sandwich? Italian assorted
11. What characteristic do you despise? hypocracy
12. Favorite item of clothing? jeans/t-shirts
13. If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday where would you go? Europe, all over
14. What color is your bathroom? White
15. Favorite brand of clothing? None
16. Where would you like to retire? Saratoga Springs, NY
17. Favorite time of the day? Lunch
18. What was your most memorable birthday? My birthdays were usually dull
19. Where were you born? Rochester, NY
20. Favorite sport to watch? football/World Cup soccer
21. What are you wearing right now? Dress pants/button down shirt
22. What star sign are you? Taurus
23. What fabric detergent do you use? Tide Free
24. Pepsi or Coke? Coke
25. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Afternoon person
26. What is your shoe size? 9
27. Do you have any pets? wife has a cat
28. Any new exciting news you'd like to share with your family and friends? No
29. What did you want to be when you were little? scientist
30. What are you meant to be doing today? work
31. What is your favorite quality about yourself? Musical ability
32. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? chocolate
33. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Girlschool - 21st Anniversary
34. Best compliment you ever got: That I should sell my music on the internet
35. Are you superstitious? no
36. Favorite thing to cook/make? bread
37. Favorite quote: It's such a fine line between clever and stupid.
38. Favorite movie: Spinal Tap, Star Wars Movies, Josie and the Pussycats
39. Favorite book: anything Sci Fi
40. Hardest lesson ever learned: Don't get to close to the people that work for you
41. Something you would recommend to everyone to do at least once: Go somewhere you never thought you'd go


Marines - Love them or Kill Them

OK, according to ABC News, a Marine general made the following comments when talking about war and Afghanistan:

"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. … It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

Now, some people might be outraged, but I got a good chuckle. I've know many Marines, worked with them back in my Navy days. If you want someone to go in and kick another country's ass, you send the Marines. No offense to the Army guys out there. I've known several of them as well. Marine officers go through much more intesive training than their Army counterparts. Marines are usually the ones to go in first and suffer the brunt of initial casualties. Let's face it, these guys are hard core.

While it's a little insensitive, I prefer my warriors to be warriors. Not that they should be cruel or go out of their way to pick a fight. However, the bottom line is that we send our armed forces out there to kill people. When we invaded Iraq, we told them who the enemy was and their job was to get them. If you're not willing to end up in a gun battle, you shouldn't be a Marine.

That being said, it probably wasn't a good thing to say it is fun shooting at guys just because they may abuse thier women. I'm sure he meant it lightheartedly to get some chuckles. It's been my experience that people need to lighten up a little. Our culture is getting much too PC. It's getting to be a crime to be frank and rough around the edges. Being in the military is a stressful job. Beleive me I know. We blow off steam by making light of what we do. So just relax people. Cut these guys a little bit of a break.

BTW, the article states the General was given a verbal reprimand and directed to choose his words more carfully.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

I'm soooooo sad

I got an email from an aquaintence of mine today. We were shipmates back in my Navy days. Great guy and awesome for political arguments. He said he and his wife were seperating. They have a few kids together. If always find it so sad and unfortunate when couples seperate and get divorced. I don't know why. He didn't state the reasons and we're not so close that he sent me the details. I've had a few closer friends get divorced, and the reasons were varied. Spouce treated them badly, physically or emotionally. One got married because at the time he thought that's what he was expected to do even though they didn't share the same values.

I don't know why it affects me so. I guess because I couldn't imagine divorcing my wife. Mind you, there have been times that it would have been easy to either walk out and not come back or tell her to do the same. But I could never seriously do it. A friend of ours from high school asked us how we've stayed together for over 20 years (it's been that long between dating and marriage). My immediate answer is always the same. I'm crazy about the woman. I still have that same passion for her as when we were teenagers. There was a point when we were in college that I knew when I made the right decision in proposing to her. I stopped desiring other women. I did and still do find other women attractive. But I don't want to sleep with them. I would much rather make love to my wife. Basically I'm hooked. I also like to joke that it's too much work to get another woman.

I guess that's why I don't understand why apparently good marriages break up. I just can't relate. Especially now that I have kids. I'm sure it's difficult but I couldn't imaginge telling the boys that mom and dad don't love each other anymore and won't be living together. They need both of us.

Sorry about being so serious for a moment. I get in these moods. I'm going to go work on something else for a while. Typing about this is only making me more sad, not less so. So work on your relationships out there and help restore my faith in humanity.


Quick update

Sorry no posts for a while. I've spent the week staying with my older son. He had the flu with a fever. He's much better now.

I'll probably be posting more next week as I'll be out of town for a class. Since I'll have little to do in the evening, it will give me some time to post stuff.

I'll have much to say soon. I've been reading a facinating book on Japan called Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr. I never realized Japan was so messed up. Nearly every page I'm going "Oh my God!". Like the part where they were dumping nuclear waste outside the plant onto the ground using buckets. It caught fire, spontaneously reacted, and they tried to put it out with no protective gear. The Nuclear Ministry's response was that nuclear accidents don't happen in Japan. Again, more on that later.

The CD project's moving along. I'm nearly done with drum tracks. Next time around I'm having some friends record horns as I haven't played the sax since high school and there's no way I could do a decent solo.

Lastly, many thanks to Julie from Rabid Rabbits and Psycho Squirrels for linking my site. Many thanks!

More soon! Stay tuned!