Friday, April 29, 2005

I don't mean to brag

But I will. My wife and I met with our son's school to go over the IEP for our younger son, who has PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism). We were going over his progress for the year and the plan for services for next year. As part of the process, they ran a battery of tests on him to determine his IQ and academic standing. The results - his IQ is 142, and he's only 6.

Now, in the "old" days, they would have considered this being a genious. However, they don't use this term any more. If your IQ is over like 110 or 120 (not sure of the cutoff), you're considered "superior". Once you get over that 130 threshhold, you are now "very superior". You see, my little boy can look down his nose at you superior people out there. You know who you are, you know, better than the rest of us. He's VERY superior. It's like saying that Superman is just ordinary because he's only super. My boy would be VERY Superman (with a big VS on his chest). I do so love some of the terminology they use these days.

Coming back to reality a moment, my wife and I are very please that he's an intelligent little snot. After all, with the socialization issues he has, it's nice to know he has a chance to overcome it all with his intelligence. It also turns out that he has many friends and his little peers respect his knowledge and actively seek him out. He loves to teach his classmates and give them puzzles to solve, such as "which dinosaur has short front arms and name means Thunder Lizard". And don't be trying to trick him. He has this amazing memory and will correct you if you don't get every detail correct. He was correcting his teacher's pronunciation of dinosaur names, for God's sake. Oh, yeah, we're in trouble all right.

But way to go to my little guy! Mom and dad are very proud!


Obscure music day

I’ve decided that today is obscure band day. I’m sure everyone listens to stuff no one else has heard of. For example, on my PC I’ve got Talas, UFO, Micheal Sweet, Rik Emmett, Girlschool, Sin Dizzy, Tora Tora, and some guy named Vince Franco (not sure where I got that stuff, but it rocks). So what obscure music do you have in your CD players/music collections? Break it all out, crank it up, and confuse the people around you.

And just for my partner in world domination, below are the lyrics to Talas’ King of the World.

Too many cooks spoil the brew
Wanna be the king of the world
Too many jailors making the noose
Wanna be the king of the world
Don’t tell me absolute power corrupts
Wanna be the king of the world
Those are the words of the weak that can’t get enough
Wanna be the king of the world

King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world
King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world

You can live free in my monarchy
Wanna be the king of the world
You don’t have to do before you can be
Wanna be the king of the world

King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world
King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world

If you take me I’ll give the world another chance
I’ll make the politicians dance
Oh you’re taking a chance either way

You don’t fight Congress the people resent
Wanna be the king of the world
Now don’t put your faith in a weak President
Wanna be the king of the world


King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world
King, King, oh I wanna be
Wanna be the king of the world



Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Beware of Flying Amphibians - UPDATE

According to ABCNews.com, Hamburg, Germany has a problem with exploding toads. That's right, faithful readers, exploding toads. They have not been able to figure out why they are bloating up and exploding, but have ruled out anything in the water. They've recommneded that people stay away from the park until they figure it out. How do you say duck in German?

There's a good link with the best explanation I've heard about why the toads are exploding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploding_toad. It includes the theory that altruistic toads are sacrificing themselves for the good of the group due to predatory crows. I shit you not! Check it out. Inquiring minds are asking me questions. These are the best answers I've got!

Go! Myself and Mistress Julie command you! (Julz, have we started taking over the world yet?)


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Updates

Everyone,

I've updated my new website. I've added content to the Musicians/Credits link, Voice of the Spirit Story link, and gear link. Many that's to G for creating a new banner for me. The link's on my blogroll at right. Let me know what you think!


Going to Hell in a Handbasket

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big argument going on in the Senate. Its about something called the “nuclear option” (BTW, thanks to Julie for alerting me to this about a month ago). It’s basically a move by Republican Senators to change the rules in the Senate to prevent the minority from using a filibuster to block judicial appointments. A filibuster is a tactic used in the Senate where someone will continue to talk, as long as it takes, in order to prevent a vote. It takes a 2/3 majority of votes to stop the filibuster. Both parties have used it successfully in the past to block votes on the Senate floor.

Republicans are now frustrated that Democrats are using the same tactics they used when Republicans were the minority party. Worse yet, they’re trying to change the rules not by going through the normal path, but by bypassing all the existing rules in the Senate. Basically, they seem to think that they can do whatever they please since they’re the majority party.

On top of all of this, this weekend there was a live, nationwide broadcast from a church in the South essentially calling anyone who blocked these judicial nominees non-Christian. Mind you, the Senate has confirmed over 200 of President Bush’s judicial nominees and are only blocking 10. Now, my question is, who the fuck made these people thing they speak for the entire country? Suddenly, we’ve got a small group of Americans trying to tell the rest of the country what to think. So, because I’m a liberal and a Democrat, I somehow don’t have the correct type of faith if I don’t agree with some other group on the appointment of political nominees. What the hell is our country coming to?

The founding fathers put many checks in place to safeguard us not only from the tyranny of the majority, but also the tyranny of the minority. Our system was set up so that a small fringe group could not impose their views on the majority, but also so the majority couldn’t run roughshod over the minority. Now, suddenly, we have a group of Republicans that seem to think they have a kind of mandate to run the country without any thought to what a large part of the country thinks. Let’s face it, Bush was elected by a little more than 50% of the popular vote. The House and the Senate are not overwhelmingly Republican. So, there is a substantial group of people that do not believe in the conservative agenda. Who decided that these people don’t count?

Our political process is being over-run by fringe groups, and the leadership in Washington is letting it happen. Everyone, whether Democrat or Republican, should write their Senators and demand they vote down this “nuclear option”. They seem to forget that in Washington, memories are long. There will come a day when Democrats again hold the majority, and boy, will you hear the whining then when the Republicans get screwed by the rules they are trying to create now should they go into effect. Anyone that believes in democracy should be appalled at the tactics Senate Republicans are trying. I’m nearly at a loss for words to describe my outrage. And to top it off, religious groups are trying to make policy now. I don’t care what religious group it is, they don’t belong in government unless they were elected by the people of their district. If you want to live in a theocracy, move to Iran. There are plenty of governments out there that will tell you what to think. Ours shouldn’t be one of them.



Monday, April 25, 2005

Birthday pictures

Here's some pictures from my son's birthday party this weekend:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Cudos to the Wife for creating the coolest snake cake for our son's birthday. Both boys helped decorate. It was quite delicious.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Here he is in his new Yankees jersey and with the mascot for our local minor leage team, the Red Wings. Can you tell he's a baseball fan?

His favorite present was a game called Bullseye Ball. Object is to bounce marbles into a target and you get points based on if you hit the bullseye or one of the two holes below it. Kind of like skee-ball for those of you who know what that is. He's already making us crazy with it. Ah, well. He had a good time and that's the important thing.


Site Launched

OK,

I've finally begun putting my site together. You'll excuse me for a little if there's a lot of generic info, I'm starting with a template and haven't gotting it filled in much. It will improve in the coming weeks. But here it is: www.vincefranco.com. Check it out and give me feedback from time to time as it's updated.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Now I've done it!

I have registered my own domain, www.vincefranco.com. I won't bother linking it since nothing is there yet. It's purpose is to promote the CD I'm working on. I've got ideas for content so look out for it soon. I'll let everyone know when there's actually something to look at. This will still be my blog site. The new site will have lots of musically related stuff about me, like lyrics to the songs on my project, equipment info, bio type stuff, etc. Once the CD is out all proceeds will be going to charity, so please check it out once it's released. More to come soon!


Happy Birthday


Birthday Boy

Today is my oldest's birthday. He's now 9. The above picture was taken 2 years ago as a new Wolf Scout. His uniform now has a lot more patches on it. I'll get a recent one up next week after the birthday party. Happy Birthday big guy!


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I probably shouldn't write this, but...

Here goes.

As you can see, I've been on a bit of a theological bent lately. What with all the goings on in Rome, I've been a little reflective. I mentioned something in a comment from the previous post and felt I should expand on it, my thoughts on sex and marriage. I've talked a little about what the church teaches, so now I thought it's time to state my opinion.

Since I'm probably about to alienate or insult some of my readers, first comes all the disclaimers. I do not believe that those that do not share these views are wrong or necessarily sinful. I do not claim be the final authority on truth. I fully respect everyone's views, even if they differ from my own. I do not believe in shouting down opinions that differ from my own and enjoy open discussion. To sum up, I'm not telling anyone that their relationships are wrong if they don't agree with what I'm about to say.

I've come to believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong (ok, there, I said it). Now, before you ask, my wife and I were not married the first time we had sex. (As an interesting side note, the date we got married was the same as the first time we had sex.) At the time I was probably what the Retropolitan has accused me of being, a secular humanist. I really hadn't rediscovered my faith yet. Over the years, praying and reflecting on that faith has brought me to this new conclusion.

Let me expand just a bit. As a Christian, I don't know how anyone can seriously call themselves one and believe sex outside of marriage is morally acceptable. Every Christian denomination agrees that Jesus opposed sex outside of marriage. He was very clear on divorce as well, though that's another subject. Anyway, it's quite clear that God intended that two should become one in marriage and that sex is an expression of this unity. Until marriage, this unity does not exist and it isn't appropriate to have sex.

For those that are not Christians, it is a matter of conscience. However, I think in general Western culture puts too much emphasis on casual sex. Many of the social issues we face today, abortion, teen pregnancy, dead beat dads, stem from irresponsible sex. We don't teach our children that sex is something sacred and really important and not just another pleasure. If more people took marriage more seriously, waited longer to get married and have sex, then perhaps we wouldn't have some of the issues we face. I've always believed that you should not just treat the symptoms of a problem, but attack the cause. Our attitudes toward sex is one of the causes that have created our current social situation.

Does that make sex bad? No. Am I saying that no one should have sex unless they're married? No. Again, I wouldn't presume to speak for everyone. However, I think if more people thought longer and harder about sex and marriage before engaging in either, our world would be a much better place. I may seem to be trying to straddle the fence here and it's a tough call for me. On the one hand, as I said, I really think that sex should be reserved for marriage. However, the liberal in me says it's not my place to judge others or to push my morality on anyone. So I simply throw this out there for anyone reading to chew on. Have you ever really thought about it that way? Have you ever agonized the decision about having sex with someone who is willing prior to actually doing it?

OK, I'm going to go jump in my fox hole now and cover my head. Hopefully I'll still be here when the smoke clears. INCOMING!


Habemus Papem

As most of you know, a new pope was elected yesterday. One thing I heard from him resonated with me for some reason. His position is that moral relativism is bad. Moral relativism holds that there is no absolute truth. Pope Benedict XVI believes that there are absolute truths. I went rollerblading tonight and reflected on this statement.

I came to the conclusion that he is indeed correct. There are absolute truths. The sticky point comes in identifying those truths. I want to start by saying that I really like being Catholic. I like the fact that it’s part of my heritage as an Italian as well as much of the tradition and majesty of the Catholic Church. I really enjoy the Mass and the way we worship. It really does it for me spiritually. However, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the church teaches.

The new pope believes many absolute truths, including the celibacy of the clergy, the fact that women cannot be priests, central authority in Rome, among other things. I, on the other hand, disagree with some of these truths. I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover. I’ve read the entire New Testament a half dozen times and selected books even more than that. While I don’t claim to be a Biblical scholar, I know what it says in there. There is no place in which it requires priests to be celibate or says women cannot be ordained. On the celibacy issue, I would agree that it is a noble calling. It allows you to dedicate your life to Christ without any distractions that come from being married and having children. However, there’s something to be said about speaking to a priest that can relate to the issues that may come up in a marriage. After all, what does a celibate priest really know about living with another person or dealing with children?

It doesn’t say either that women cannot be priests. I can point you to one of the letters of Paul where he instructs women to keep their heads covered at church and to get instruction from their husbands. The funny thing is, a few paragraphs earlier in the letter, Paul treats women as equals. Also curiously, the notes in my Bible at the beginning of the letter state there is scholarly belief that part of the letter was written later and inserted into the original. The style of writing is different. As far as I’m concerned, women should have the same opportunities as men. The whole idea of women being subservient to men is just so 19th century.

Our new pope also believes homosexuality is morally evil. Now, I’ve read all of the references to homosexuality in the Bible and know the teaching. It’s something I struggle with sometimes because while the church teaches it as wrong, I cannot bring myself to condemn anyone that is gay. I’ve known and worked with people that were gay. Truthfully, I simply treated them as people. One of the things I firmly believe is that it is not our role to judge others, only God has that power. My responsibility is to love my neighbor and love my God. God knows I’m not perfect. I have enough trouble living up to the ideal Jesus taught us on my own. I don’t have the time or strength to judge others as well. To paraphrase an old saying, I’ll just love everyone and let God sort it out.

Am I coming out and saying that I don’t like this pope or I think his papacy will be a poor one? Not really. Time will tell. I don’t know enough about him to say one way or the other. My real problem is that the cardinals elected an older gentleman. He is 78 years old. They say he is a “transitional” pope. I hate that idea entirely. What’s wrong with having another pope that may be around for another 20 years or so? Not to say that the pope may not live to 98, but lets face it. At 78 he’s in the twilight years. John Paul lived to 84. Anyway, we’ll see what the future brings. I don’t think we’ll get any major changes in policy until our generation reaches their 60s, in about another 20 to 25 years. The pope’s generation comes from a different world and grew up with different values. It was a man’s world back then, and while they may talk of equality, I’m not sure they really embrace it. We need new blood in the church, and it will take some time to get it.



Kids are Funny

Just a couple of cute things my kids did today. My wife wanted to go outside and play with my older son. She asked him to help clean up and then they would go outside. He said his stomach hurt and he wanted to rest. Then he asked what my wife wanted to do. When she told him she was hoping to play baseball with him, his stomach suddenly felt better. Imagine that! My younger son also has a tummy issue. You see, he’s never hungry. His tummy, on the other hand, is always hungry. When he wants a snack, he doesn’t tell us he would like one. He’ll inform us that his tummy needs a snack. If I ask if he’s hungry, he says, no, just his tummy.



Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It's only Rock and Roll but I like it

I went to see the band Hothouse this weekend (see link at right). The bass player and keyboardist were in my old band Al's Neighbors (see link, also right). They were very hot. They rocked really hard. Sandy, on the bass, is one of the top 2 bassists I've worked with and she had her chops down tight, let me tell you. The one thing that kept going through my mind was, man do I miss doing this.

Part of it was I missed my band mates. Talking with John (keys) and Sandy was just great. Even though it's been a couple of years since I've seen them, it was like it was only a day. There was also the thrill of wanting to play in front of a crowd. I get to play at Church, which is very fulfilling, but it isn't the same as playing a rock show in front of an interactive crowd. There's no rush quite like it. The funny thing is that I always had stage fright before going on. Some nights it wasn't until the second set that I would really calm down and I'd be a wreck before the show. Other nights, it wasn't a big deal. And strangely, I don't get that when I play at church. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something.

By the time I left the club, I did remember one reason I didn't mind giving up playing live. By midnight I was crashing and was having trouble staying awake. That being out till 3 or 4 in the morning was always brutal. My kids would wake me up at 7 the next day and running on 3 hours sleep when you're almost 40 just doesn't work so good. Still, I really miss the comradarie of a good band. There's a level of understanding when you click with a bunch of other people that share the same passion and it works. Especially in music, when the right personalities click, the music becomes so much better because the band is putting their emotion into it instead of just going through the motions.

Hopefully we'll get together this summer for a picnic kind of thing. We can jam and eat food and generally have a good time. I may have to leave the Wife at home as she usually gets bored at functions like this, though I love having her there. I can see where she's coming from, however. It's kind of like taking someone to the prom and then spending the evening talking to another girl. Great for you, not so great for her.

Like I said, there's times I really miss that stuff.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Command Performance Request

Julie asked that explain the Catholic Church’s position on birth control, since, to paraphrase her, Jesus never said anything about birth control in the Bible. While technically true, the Church’s position is more of a correlation of other truths that together add up to the belief that artificial birth control is immoral. I raided my Catechism of the Catholic Church to get the direct scoop, and I will quote from it as necessary.

Let me begin by clarifying that the Church is only against artificial methods of birth control, such as pills, condoms, diaphragms, etc. They have always maintained that natural methods such as Natural Family Planning are really just forms of abstinence and therefore not sinful. Also, this discussion applies to married persons as the Church teaches sex outside of marriage is also sinful. I will start there, with the teaching on sex in marriage.

Of course, marriage is the sacramental bond between a man and a woman. Interestingly, it is the only sacrament in the church which is performed by the participants to each other, where all others are conferred upon someone by a priest. Sex between married persons is a “sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.” In other words, Jesus said that man and woman become one in marriage and sex is not just a physical union, but a spiritual one as well. The purpose of marriage is two fold: it “helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving”. The other purpose of marriage is to be fruitful and multiply.

Married couples are supposed to give totally of themselves. This is what Jesus means when He says the two will become one. Fruitfulness (the call this fecundity in the Catechism, I had to look it up) is “a gift, an end to marriage, for conjugal love tends to be fruitful.” A child isn’t something added to the marriage from outside but a result of the mutual love between spouses.

Therefore, couples that refrain from sex aren’t actually preventing the procreative act, merely postponing it. In using artificial birth control, you are preventing the procreative act. You are not giving of yourself fully since you are taking an active measure to prevent a child from being conceived. Essentially, you’re relying on human wisdom instead of relying on God, similar to Abraham in the Old Testament. Abraham was promised a son by God. So instead of trusting Him to give him a son through his wife, though barren, Abraham had a son through his concubine, thus thwarting God’s plan and relying on his own wisdom. The real key is that artificial birth control prevents a husband and wife from giving of themselves totally to the other, and is therefore sinful.

Now hopefully, this makes a little sense. Now comes my position. My wife and I practice birth control. We do this for several reasons. First, Natural Family Planning methods do not work with my wife since she has never had a period on a regular schedule in her entire life when not on birth control. Second, the two boys we have already take up all of our energy. One has ADHD and the other has PDD (form of autism). I’m not sure I can handle another child. Third, due to the irregularity of my wife’s period and the fact she’s a heavy bleeder prompted her doctor to put her on birth control to help her manage the symptoms.

Perhaps I should trust in the Lord more. I certainly do in many other areas of my life. However, in this area my wife and I agree. We’re not emotionally equipped to have any more children. The only other option is not to have sex until she reaches menopause and can no longer have children. That’s a LONG wait. So, I’ll suck it up on this one.

I haven’t spoken to my beliefs on sex outside of marriage. I do have a definite opinion on the matter, but will keep it to myself for now. Perhaps at a later date I’ll post about my position on the matter. This post is long enough.



Weight lifted

Last night was my last official function as cubmaster for my older son’s cub scout pack. I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my back. I can now be a regular parent again. It did get old after a while being responsible for everything. Plus, I would rather spend my spare time and energy on something I truly enjoy, namely music. My new group received many good comments after playing Sunday night and I really think that I can have a more positive impact drawing more people to the faith with my music than being miserable as a scout leader. Not that being a scout leader isn’t a rewarding and worthwhile endeavor, just not my thing. I’ll leave it to those that really like to do it. I was dreading scouting events for a while and now I can enjoy them with my son again.



Thursday, April 14, 2005

New holiday

I recieved this from a friend. Please implement tomorrow or every Friday if you so desire. Compliance is mandatory. Don't make me come over there with my pink guitar!

Slap Your Co-Worker Day!!

Tomorrow is the official Slap Your Irritating Co-workers Holiday:

Do you have a co-worker who talks nonstop about nothing, working your
last nerve with tedious and boring details that you don't give a darn
about?
Do you have a co-worker who ALWAYS screws up stuff creating MORE work
for you?

Do you have a co-worker who kisses so much booty, you can look in
their mouth and see what your boss had for lunch?

Do you have a co-worker who is SOOO obnoxious, when he/she enters a
room, everyone else clears it?


Well, on behalf of Ike Turner, I am so very very glad to officially
announce tomorrow as SLAP YOUR IRRITATING CO-WORKER DAY!
These are the rules you must follow:

* You can only slap one person per hour - no more.

* You can slap the same person again if they irritate you again in
the same day.

* You are allowed to hold someone down as other co-workers take their
turns slapping the irritant.

* No weapons are allowed...other than going upside somebody's head
with a stapler or a hole-puncher.

* CURSING IS MANDATORY! After you have slapped the recipient, your
"assault" must be followed with something like "cause I'm sick of
your stupid-a$$ always messing up stuff!"

* If questioned by a supervisor [or police, if the supervisor is the
irritant], you are allowed to LIE, LIE, LIE!

Now, study the rules, break out your list of folks that you want to
slap the living day lights out of and get to slapping.....and have a
great day!


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Explosions are cool

Had fun with the older boy last night. He's a cub scout and his den built rockets as one of their projects. Yesterday was the last den meeting of the year so we had pizza and launched the rockets. The first launch went spectacularly. The rocket sailed pretty high and it was cool. The second launch went not as well. One of the fins came of at launch and the thing went sideways and landed on the ground about 10 feet from the pad (you know, where everyone was standing, watching). The engine was still going a little and then reached the stage where the nose cone comes off. But since it was on the ground, it kind of exploded instead. Mind you, not blow up into tiny little pieces, exploded, but it did rip apart the body and knock another fin off. No one was hurt and it was kind of cool. He had a good time even though his rocket didn't make it.

On a completely different subject, I watched a rerun of Real Time with Bill Maher last night. I like to watch it since he's mostly liberal, but will bring conservatives on the show as counterpoint. It's funny, informative, and controversial all at once. He interviewed Mario Cuomo last night (former governor of NY) which I thought was great. I think he's one of the smartest men to ever run for office. However, once he sat down with his panel, he really made me shake my head.

He started talking about the Pope's funeral. The man is an admited athiest that thinks religion is useless. However, he and Ariana Huffington, one of the panelists, were really going off on the Pope. It annoyed me a little as they obviously didn't understand being Catholic. They both wanted to peg the Pope as a bad guy because of the priest sex abuse thing. Granted, the church could have handled it better. But to say that all the other good things the Pope has done were invalidated by this one thing was wrong. Bill was also fixated on the fact that the Pope was against pre-marital sex and birth control. Again, I think he was missing the point of Catholic teaching on the issue. His point seemed to be that since most Americans disagree with the Pope on these issue, the Pope must be wrong in maintaining that sex should only be between married couples and that they shouldn't practice artificial birth control. As if the teachings of the Church were up for a vote. The man held a consistant message throughout his life that Christ taught these things were wrong.

I really wanted to reach through the TV and just smack him and say "Listen, here's what the Church is really saying". But, it was an entertaining disucssion. And he did one of the best jokes I've heard in a while. He mentioned that the Pope was set out for viewing for about 4 days and he wasn't embalmed. He mentioned a few lines about how the people filing by probably smelled worse. But the best line was at the end. He says, "but even after all of that he still looked better than Michael Jackson". That was awesome!


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Contest update

Just to give everyone the latest on the battle of wills going on yesterday, the Wife and I have officially "kissed and made up". No "make up" sex was involved (good luck to you Julie, however, after your weekend). I was nursing my mad on most of the day, especially after an apology was not forth coming even when I made it clear after getting home from work I was looking for one. However, we did talk it out last night, and a big hug made everything all better again. Communication is a good thing. In the Wife's defense, she didn't realize that she'd pushed one of my major buttons and didn't do that intentionally. She was merely frustrated and tired and vented. So we're cool again.

I will admit in a public forum that I could have been a little more sensitive to the little lady. However, sensitivity isn't always my strong point, though I do try. I would also like to say in my defense that my wife is a totally hot foxy babe that is damn near irresistable, so please forgive me if my common sense is clouded by desire on occasion. You should see this woman in jeans and a tight sweater. It's impossible to concentrate, I tell you. So I will try harder in the future not to be so dumbfounded in the presence of her beauty.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Highs and lows

I had a roller coaster of a day yesterday. It was mostly on a high note. Our church had a special service honoring Pope John Paul II. It was mostly music, and all of the church's music groups were invited to play, including the new one I'm involved in. It was the first time we'd played before the congregation. It was a little nerve racking, but we plunged right in. It was totally awesome!

We were tight and made a couple minimal mistakes that we covered. At the end of our first number, we got the big applause by the congregation. Mind you, it was filled mostly with our "older" parishoners, so I wasn't sure how it would go over with them. We were the only group to recieve accolades such as this. It was much appreciated. Our second song was a standard called Be Not Afraid and the whole congregation was in there singing with us. We were just floating when we finished, ready to do an hour set. Rocking for Jesus rules!

On the down side, the night ended quite badly. It might sound petty, but an arguement with the wife totally blew all the elation out of the water to the point where I'm still annoyed today. Not to get into too many details, the wife has had a cold and has been a little tired. I was getting ignored last night. A simple I'm tired from her would have sufficed. However, instead she tells me to stop being stupid. I don't take very kindly to having my intelligence insulted. I don't claim to be any kind of genius or anything, but I graduated in the top 10 in my high school class and graduated college with a 3.2 GPA. I also earned the equivalent of a master's degree in nuclear engineering in 6 months. Without patting myself on the back too much or anything, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. Treating me like I'm stupid really flames me and will keep me upset for a while.

And worst of all, she didn't even have the courtesy to apologize even after I told her I didn't appreciate being called stupid. Because I'm sure she thought I was pissed off about being rejected instead of being insulted. You'd have thought she'd figured that out by now.

Enough about that however. I don't want to beat it to death. I'm quite confident the new Mass we'll be putting together will be great. It kicks off on May 1. I highly recommend everyone that doesn't live in Rochester fly in for the occasion. We need to fill up the church. I'll be happy to provide directions.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hazards of working with women

I alluded to the following story in a previous post. It is an example on how, as a supervisor, becoming too friendly with the people you work with can bite you in the ass. It is the story of a slow loss in professionalism. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

In a previous position, I started with a company from the bottom, as a help desk technician on the phone. I worked with a great bunch of people, and it was like a family environment. We all got along pretty good, joked with each other, etc. We liked to keep things light. At some point, I became a team leader. Not really a supervisory position, but one with a little more responsibility. No one reported to me directly, but I was the go between for the team and the supervisor. In this capacity, I worked with several women on another team. There was a bit of the sexual innuendo going on, nothing serious, mostly just trying to shock each other. One in particular I used to joke with didn't seem to get my dry sense of humor. I would sometimes mention using "motiviational tools", implying something like a bat to keep employees in line. Mind you, I don't really subscribe to the theory, and anyone that's worked for me knows I'm a fair boss to work for.

Anyway, I was eventually promoted to a supervisor. Through this process, I still considered my co-workers as friends and peers, simply that I was charged with running the operation. We all seemed to respect each other and they knew where I was coming from. No real issues, and since we had a stressful job, I tried to keep the atmosphere light. Same kind of joking, idle threats on occasion meant to poke fun instead of being serious.

At one point, we expanded my team and I hired a bunch of new personnel. The woman mentioned above that I joked around with and didn't get me was transferred to my team. I carried on with the new personnel as I did with my current team. Stupid teasing stuff, never serious. Apparently, this woman didn't realize (after almost a year of interacting with me) that I was only kidding. Then came the clincher. One of my new team members was a female former Marine. She mentioned she had a tatoo and I asked to look at it, as it was on her back near the belt line. She let me see it and I mentioned that women with tatoos were cool and something to the effect of ah if I was only 1o years younger. Mind you, I had no interest in this woman. We had a shared military experience, me being ex-Navy.

Well, woman that didn't get me went to my supervisor and accused me of sexual harrassment. When he told me about it, I was stunned. I beleive on treating everyone fairly and reviewing their performance objectively, based on what they do. Gender, race, I couldn't care less. My criterion has always been can you do the job and do you fit with the team.

The outcome of the mess was that I had to go through an investigation with HR which determined I merely showed poor judgement, not actual sexual harrassment. However, I did realize that I had forgotten the first rule of being a supervisor. The people that work for you are not your friends. You can be friendly, get along great, even socialize with them. However, all socialization should be in some sort of company related event, like a team lunch, company sponsored events, etc. I let my team get too close to me and acted more like a member of the team instead of the supervisor. A hard learned lesson, but one not ever forgotten. In my role as a supervisor at my new company, I make it a point to always maintain the proper level of professionalism.

As a side note, the woman that accused me of harrassment was transferred off of my team, at my supervisor's request. He recognized it would be awkward for her to continue to work for me given her feelings about me. I did not disagree. However, for my part, I was disappointed she did not come to me first. I know some people are uncomfortable about things like that, but I would have listened to her without judgement. We didn't speak to each other after that, but I never tried to retaliate in any way, not because I feared for my job, but because she was not worth the effort. She eventually left the company. I was going to make an effort on her last day to at least say goodbye and wish her luck in her new job, but she never came in on her last day.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Music update

This weekend was quite the musical one. I worked in the studio on Saturday and practice with the new church praise group Sunday. It was one great weekend as far as music goes.

I had planned on doing drum tracks for one song and had guitar leads prepared for about 3 songs. I got through those in about the first hour and a half. Wanting to take advantage of the time I still had, I started doing guitar leads for more songs. Even though I had nothing prepared, I think they went rather well. I was trying to have more thought out leads for these songs (the best leads are well planned in advance, like Brian May stuff). However, I came up with some themes on the spot and am quite pleased with the results. I can now actually see the light at the end of this tunnel. The only thing left on the project (prior to mixing it that is) is vocals on all songs, leads on 2 songs, and miscellaneous tracks (sax solo, piano solo, perhaps some percussion stuff). I need to bring in additional musicians for the piano and sax, but at this rate, I should be in mix down by the end of the summer. I should be able to release this thing this year!

The praise group took two weeks off the the Palm Sunday/Easter holidays. After not practicing for two weeks, we came back more solid than when we left. Everything went hugely smooth! I was concerned that our first Mass (May 1) would be rough and that we wouldn't be ready. Now I'm completely confident. We were tight and the songs sounded great. I think this is going to be a great ministry. We have presiders lined up to say Mass and the whole thing is on track. I can't wait to we really get rolling. There's still some work to do but we're getting comfortable with each other now.

Amusing note from practice yesterday: one of our singers (a teenager) somehow managed to flip over a stone half wall at the entrance our our church and ended up in the mud. Not too bad, mostly hands all messy and some mud on the clothes. However, it was quite amusing, especially listening to all the excuses afterwards. My 9 year old complains the same way. I guess some things don't change as kids get older.

Next scheduled recording date is the middle of May, so hopefully I can get the majority of the tracks completed by then on the CD project. I'll give everyone an update then and might even have a tenative release date.