Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Billy Two Shoes Gig Friday, January 2nd

Billy Two Shoes is playing this Friday at Beehive Books in Delaware for Delaware's First Friday event. We'll be playing two sets, starting around 7:30 pm. It'll be a nice, intimate setting with little (if any) amplification.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Billy Two Shoes in Delaware, Ohio, this Saturday, Dec. 6

Billy Two Shoes is playing this Saturday at Beehive Books in Delaware. We'll be playing two sets, starting around 7:30 pm. It'll be a nice, intimate setting with little (if any) amplification.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra Winter Performances Begin Tomorrow

December 2, 1 pm
Clintonville Elementary School
10 Clinton Heights Ave
Columbus, Oh

December 4, 12 pm
Dublin Retirement Village
6470 Post Road
Dublin, Oh

December 9, 1 pm
Colonial Hills Elementary School
5800 Greenwich St.
Worthington, OH

December 11, 1 pm
Wellington Senior Living
5863 Scioto-Darby Road
Hilliard, Oh

December 13, 7:30 pm
Union County Care Train (Fundraiser)
Veterans Auditorium
233 W 6th Street
Marysville, Oh

December 15, 1 pm
Trillium Place Retirement Center
Trillium Crossing
Columbus, Oh

December 17, 12 pm
Cardinal Health
Dublin, Oh

December 18, 1 pm
Abbey Theater
Dublin Recreation Center
5600 Post Road
Dublin, Oh

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belated Thanksgiving

Recently, a friend of a friend committed suicide. I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence, but I'm aware of a few suicides over the last couple of years. These have not been people I've known personally, but I think everyone can recognize the effect this would have on their survivors. And the question that hangs in the air is always the same: What could drive someone to take their own life?

A few years ago I was diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. After a couple of rounds of talks with a therapist, and some trial-and-error work with various drugs, I'm able to manage it. Not that I don't still get depressed on occasion. Everyone does. I'm just able now to think through it and bring myself around the way most people do.

There are two distinct occasions where I was low enough to take such drastic measures. I won't go into details, but suffice to say, if it weren't for these two people, I might not be writing this now. The first occasion was a long time ago, when depression was still something that no one talked about. The second finally led to my diagnosis.

So that's what I'm thankful for this year: that Herman Geller and Tammy Howard were there.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

French or German, Teil Zwei

Note: I've decided to merge my music blog with this one. The following is a copy of the last post on my other blog. All future posts will be made to this blog and the other will no longer be updated.

About 8 months ago, I posted Bow Adventures, which described my troubles regarding the use of French vs. German grips on the double bass bow. During the time between then and now, I've worked exclusively with the French bow. That included the spring season with the Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra and the recording of the soon-to-be-released second Billy Two Shoes CD. And so just now I placed and order for a new carbon fiber Finale bow - with a German grip (right).

So why the return to German? I didn't mind the French grip. Certainly, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. And those disadvantages can be worked through successfully. But one of the difficulties that I had was trying to transfer the weight of my arm to the string. I could get a nice enough sound, but it wasn't very loud. This is compounded by the fact that my bass isn't very loud to begin with.

I've been doing a bit of playing with the bow lately with both the orchestra and B2S. About two weeks ago, my first finger on my right hand really started bothering me. I figured I just overworked my bow hand and needed to give it a rest. It took more than a week for the pain to subside. Finally, I started playing again and immediately noticed the issue. I'm putting too much pressure on my finger trying to play loudly. The leverage in the French grip just isn't working for me without straining my hand. I played with the orchestra for two hours last night, and today my first finger is swollen and sore.

So back to the German grip it is. I think that's ok though. Yes, I realize that, with effort, I could probably work through my problems and continue with the French, but I don't really see the need. My arms are long, which lends itself better to the German grip, and I can easily get more power and a nice sound with this grip. Since one isn't necessarily better than the other, why deal with the pain, right?

Along with the grip change, I'm also going back to my old rosin, Carlsson (see my post on rosin for details).

The String Emporium is currently out of stock on the bow. They'll be getting the next shipment after Thanksgiving, so it'll be a couple of weeks before my new bow gets to me. Once I get it and live with it a little, I'll write a review. Until then, I'll have to reacquaint myself with the only other German bow I have - a cheap fiberglass student bow. Yuck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let Freedom Ring

See this Diary of a Modern Matriarch post for an explanation of the photo.

Hope & Change: It's a Good Thing

Last Tuesday night, when I first heard the words 'President-elect Barack Obama', I was elated. And the knowledge that Ohio played a key role in this history-making event brought an even bigger smile to my face.

But my elation was short lived. Wednesday morning, while checking out the various ballot measures that passed and failed, I was saddened to see that all of the anti-gay-marriage measures across the country passed. Even the one in California! If anywhere there was hope for equality in marriage, California was it. And Arkansas went one worse and made it illegal for non-married couples to adopt children or become foster parents. The proponents of this measure made it well known that they were targeting gay couples. So growing up with gay parents is worse than living in an orphanage?!? Or do they all think, as Newt Gingrich did, that orphanages should be like Bing Crosby movies?

There were some positive notes in the ballot measures too. Every single attack on women's reproductive rights were knocked down. This was no small feat. Especially chilling was the measure that would have defined life as the moment of conception, which would have made some forms of birth control illegal.

But the gay marriage thing really had me down. I have yet to hear a valid argument against it that does not invoke religion. And since ours is supposed to be a secular nation, it seems like a no brainer to me. I found myself wondering what kind of world we live in where we insist on having second-class citizenry.

Then I realized that I was cheating myself. This is a time to rejoice. The Bush administration, with any justice, will go down as the worst administration in American history. We have lived up to our ideals and elected a black man as president. Better yet, we elected and intelligent, thoughtful man who genuinely wants the job of turning this nation around. These next few years will be an exciting time. He has a lot to do, and it won't be easy by a long shot, but he's certainly the best man for the job.

We obviously have a ways to go before the idea of gay marriage will be accepted. I eagerly watched all of the debates, and was dismayed only once: when Joe Biden insisted that he and Obama will not fight for gay marriage.

I think the biggest issue standing in the way is that people don't think it's a civil rights issue. But this will change with time. Looking back at the battles for racial and sexual equality (battles that still are not over), it should be noted that things got worse before they got better. Maybe that's what's happening now. People are seeing their long-held beliefs being challenged and are fighting it the only way they know how. But it will happen. With enough effort on our part, people will begin to see things as they should be.

In the meantime, I'm going to allow myself to be happy for the hope that President-elect Obama has brought to us.

Edit: I forgot to include this link to Just Out describing a step forward this election cycle for the GLBT community.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Healthy Snacks, Your Way

These pictures are from the vending machine at my job:

I realize the bottom picture isn't all that clear, but trust me, there's not a single healthy snack in there.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat? How about a scream?

So, I'm sitting here with my laptop, handing out pretzels to the trick-or-treaters while my girls are off with their friends, and this little boy of about 6 years old walks up with his daddy in tow. I recognize him from about 15 minutes earlier because he's wearing a blue Power Rangers (or some such) costume with big white puffy diamonds on the arms and vinyl boots. The first time he was here he was very polite and thanked me appropriately.

I had just finished talking to another couple of kids when I looked over at him walking across the lawn again towards me. He immediately threw down his bucket and yelled at me "Why did you say 'no'!!!"

His dad looked at him and tried to assure him that I didn't say anything to him. I said "I didn't say 'no' to you. Why would I say 'no' to you?"

His response was to scream at me louder, like an angry scream "WHY! WHY! WHY!" He was turning red in the face and his dad was trying to calm him down without making too big a deal of it. Finally, the kids says "I'm not going trick-or-treating anymore! I'm just going to sit right here!" And with that, he plopped himself right down in the grass.

His dad and I looked at each other kind of perplexed, so I said "You're welcome sit here if you like. Do you want me to get you a chair?" He just made a pouty face and sat there, so I said "You know, I saw someone earlier in the same costume as yours and I thought it was very cool."

"One just like mine?" he asked.

"Yes, just like it. I remember 'cause I wished I had one like it."

He immediately smiled a huge smile and said very excitedly, "I was here earlier! That was me!"

"I thought that was you" I said. After that he was talking to his dad and me in the sweetest voice, just as happy as can be.

Of course, I let him have more pretzels.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Why Do You Have Earrings And A Ponytail?"

I was asked this very question by a young boy a couple of weeks ago. The answer I gave was a very simple "Well, I've just always liked long hair and earrings." The actual reason is a bit deeper than that.

For about as long as I can remember, I've had long hair. My mom used to keep my hair long when I was a little boy. My dad, of course, didn't like it. There's was a story in my family that my dad actually paid a waitress in a restaurant to say to me "What a cute little girl." Don't know if that's true or not.

I do know that, as a teen, I got a lot of crap for the length of my hair. Guys were always trying to start fights with me. I mostly just ignored them. My step-dad and his friends would just refer to me as "Gay" - as in "Hey Gay, how ya doin'?" That didn't really bother me either. I just never cared too much about what people thought.

I got my first earring March 16th, 1980. It was the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day of my freshman year in high school. I don't know why I remember it that way, I just do. My mom and I agreed that an earring would be cool, so she took me to Piercing Pagoda at the Shore Mall in Pleasantville, NJ. At the time, there were very few boys in school with pierced ears. I remember one kid telling me that if he ever got in a fight with a guy with an earring, the first thing he'd do is grab the earring and rip.

My second piercing came on March 5th, 1982. I remember it because it was the day John Belushi died. A couple friends, my girlfriend and I were in my room listening to music and I decided I wanted a second hole in my left ear. My girlfriend got some ice and a needle and, a few drops of blood later, I was the first in my class to have two holes in my ear.

It was probably about the summer of '84 when I got my right ear pierced. My friend Doug wanted to get his ear pierced for the first time, so I went with him to the Ocean One Mall in Atlantic City. The Piercing Pagoda there was running some kind of deal where you could get two piercings for the price of one. I didn't want a third hole in my left ear, so I decided to do my right. Doug tried to talk me out of it, but I figured people didn't get much cooler than Jimi Hendrix, and he had both ears pierced.

So, why do I still have long hair and earrings? Because when I look in the mirror, I see me looking back. There were, of course, times in my adult life when my hair was short and my ears were jewelry free. This was never by choice, and always because of job restrictions. During these times, I'd look in the mirror and a stranger would look back at me. A stranger who looked like Danny Tanner from Full House. I just never felt right with short hair.

When I got my current job, my hair was short. After I was here for a couple of years and had proved myself to the company, I checked out the dress code and found there were no restrictions on hair length or earrings beyond the size of the earring. Finally, it was me looking back from the mirror.

Fortunately, no one tries to start fights with me anymore. But I do get to live the whole thing all over again as my daughter, who likes to wear all black, tells me that kids pick on her for the way she dresses. I try to tell her that it's ok to be herself and that she just needs to get a thicker skin, but sometimes that's easier said than done.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Keep Making That Face And It'll Stay That Way

I remember as a young boy noticing that cartoons always depicted a frown as a pronounced arch. But this puzzled me because I never really saw someone frown like that. Certainly not so dramatically as they did in drawings. (I'm guessing I had not fully grasped the concept of caricatures at this point.) Of course, it never really bothered me that no one exactly smiled with a capital 'U' in the middle of their face either, but that's me.

Anyhow, I distinctly remember sitting in front of the mirror, trying to make my face frown like the people in cartoons. And with a little work, I succeeded. Sure, it was a strain. My face muscles fought back, telling me this was not a natural position for the corners of my mouth. But soon I had strengthened those muscles and perfected the cartoon frown.

Now, here I am, probably 35 years later, looking at some recent pictures of my playing in a jazz combo and the orchestra:

What the hell?!?

Now, I realize that musicians make all kinds of facial and bodily contortions when they play. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull performs some sort of gymnastic floor exercise when he's playing his flute and Joe Cocker appears to be having a seizure when he sings. Numerous guitarists make painful faces, as if it's physically hurting them to make their guitar speak. Premier jazz bassist Rufus Reid goes between two facial expressions: bemused wonder (with pursed lips and wide eyes) and extreme joy (greatest grin I ever did see).

Me? With my furrowed brow and cartoon frown, I have a look that hovers somewhere between anger and sadness, probably because I can't get the bass to play what I'm telling it to play.

When I was in the recording studio last night, I thought about my expression when I'm playing. I had to make a conscious effort to not look angry. I can only image what kind of grimace I came up with. Maybe that's why the engineer kept asking me if I was ok.

These pictures got me wondering just how often I make this face. Do I go through life with a perpetual frown just because I made faces as a kid? Is this why no one ever talks to me? I've found myself looking in my rear view mirror on more than one occasion while driving, trying to turn my frown upside down. I was doing the same thing the other day in the restroom at work before someone else walked in and I had to hurry and pretend to wash my hands.

The thing is, I've seen pictures of me when the photographer yells "Say cheese". I don't look natural. You can see the pain in my eyes. The muscle strain of having to hold my mouth in this awkward, foreign position. Hell, even when I have no expression at all, my mouth isn't straight across; it dips down on the ends. It'll be interesting to see what I look like in 30 or 40 more years...a grumpy old curmudgeon that kids throw eggs at.

Can you train yourself to smile at 44?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The List

The other day, my wife posted her "freebie list". None of these choices surprised me; her list has been pretty consistent over the years. This, of course, prompted me to compose my list. Sounds like fun, right?

We always joke about "the list" and who's on it. It's a fun game of "what if" that is never really taken seriously (well, usually - I did have a relationship broken-up once by someone who looked uncannily like David Lee Roth, who happened to be on her list).

So, who do I include on my list? The problem is, my list always seems to change depending on my mood. Ooh, she's on my list! So is she! And her too! What the hell, put him on my list too! How many do we get again?

Putting the list down in a blog is akin to laminating it and putting it in your wallet. This requires some thought. Should I be so obvious as to include Scarlett Johansson and J. Lo? What about the pure fantasy women like Marilyn Monroe, Myrna Loy and Betty Rubble? I just don't feel right including Anne Hathaway and Melissa Joan Hart.

That being said, here's my list...

Christina Applegate
On my list from the moment Kelly Bundy turned of age. I was so happy to see her new show doing well. She's a classic beauty with that certain girl-next-door quality. It seems almost a shame to include her on such a crass list. Almost.

Rosario Dawson
While Rachel Leigh Cook was adorable as Josie, Rosario's Valerie brought the real sex appeal to Josie & The Pussycats. Follow that with dancing and singing in Rent and kicking ass in Grindhouse, and she easily earns a spot on my list.

Charlize Theron
Beautiful, smart, talented. What's not to like about Charlize Theron?

I loved that she took on the Monster role, and fought hard for it. Very brave. Which brings me to the next entry on my list...

Christina Ricci
What can I say? She appeals to my quirky side. Sure, she's done family/children features like Ca
sper and Speed Racer, but she's done some pretty raunchy stuff too. I haven't seen Black Snake Moan because, frankly, I'm scared. She never seems one to play it safe.

Her alternates would be Bjork and Helena Bonham Carter.

Queen Latifah
This woman is just downright gorgeous. She exudes confidence from every pore. Her voice is wonderful and she's not afraid to be exactly who she is. Oh, and the curves!

So there you have it. That's my list. Some of my favorite TV and movie "girlfriends" are notably absent: Jami Gertz, Dinah Manoff and Ann-Margaret spring immediately to mind. Oh, and Valerie Bertinelli. And Janeane Garofalo. And...

I love you honey :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reports: DeGeneres and de Rossi wed in California

Found this article on Yahoo this morning:
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - There was much dancing: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are married, according to reports.

In the biggest celebrity union since California legalized same-sex marriage, DeGeneres, 50, and de Rossi, 35, wed Saturday night in an intimate ceremony at their Beverly Hills home, People and Us Magazine reported.

A publicist for DeGeneres confirmed People's report and gave no further comment.
After the California Supreme Court's ruling in May, the talk-show host announced that she and de Rossi would wed after four years together.

The ceremony was attended by 19 guests, including DeGeneres' mom, Betty, and de Rossi's mother, Margaret Rogers, who had flown in from Australia, People.com reported Saturday night.

DeGeneres said after winning her fourth consecutive Daytime Emmy for talk show host in June that a date had not been set, and that she would show "a tiny bit" of the nuptials on her show.

While opponents in California have gathered signatures to put a measure on the November ballot for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Hollywood was throwing its support behind the newlyweds.
Congrats to the happy couple. I hope the people of California allow them to remain married.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Breed of Liberal Are You?

Here's what I got. How about you?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

30 Years

This picture was taken 30 years ago - June 1978. Left to right is Dennis Haberkern, Jeff Thinschmidt, Rob Rando and me. My very first paying gig, we got five dollars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Nice Moment Pumping Gas

I'm standing by my car at the gas station. It's almost completely empty and the tripometer (which I reset every time I fill up) says 359.8 miles. Gas is now $3.849/gallon, which is down from the weekend.

It the pump behind me is an older gentleman filling Prius. And on the other side from him is another feeding a full size pick-up. I won't deny the convenience and necessity of a pick-up at times, I've owned a few myself, but I couldn't help but notice the two vehicles from the opposite ends of the spectrum at the same pump.

As I was returning the pump nozzle to the pump, the guy from the Prius approached me and said "I was following you the other day. I really like the statements on the back of your car. Just wanted you to know I really appreciate it. Thank you."

Needless to say, this made my morning. It no longer bothered me that I was driving to work in a torrential downpour.

As a side note, it took 9.86 gallons to fill my tank, which means I averaged 36.5 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. I've noticed that I'm able to stretch another 1.5 - 2 mpg just by modifying my driving habits. I don't floor it to accelerate, I keep it under 60 mph, and I keep the engine breaking to a minimum. I gained another 1 mpg or so just by changing the air filter. All worth it I think.

Monday, June 9, 2008

This Hell Called Suburbia

I hate living in the suburbs:

How did I get here?
We were living in south Jersey with two little girls and no support system. We moved to Columbus in order to be closer to my sister-in-law and her daughter. (I'll spare the reader an analysis of the flaws of that logic.) Just as we were running out of money and thinking of just renting an apartment here, our house in SJ sold so we bought our current house. Had we not bought when we did, we would have lost certain advantages that were worked out in my relocation package.

But don't get me wrong. We liked the house. Decent neighborhood, good schools, blah blah blah. Besides, it's all part of the American dream. A house, a mortgage or two, two cars, a green lawn surrounded by a picket fence. This is what our parents and grandparents struggled for, right?

do I hate it so?
For starters, there's the house itself. It looks like every other house in the development, which looks like every other house in every other development. The main feature of every one is the garage. A garage with an attached house. Nobody uses their front door, they use the garage. The walkway from the front door doesn't even go to the sidewalk out front; it curves around to the driveway. Even those houses with the driveway on the side instead of the front have no way of getting to the front door without walking on the grass.

But that's not really a big deal I suppose, because the development is not set up for walking. Sure, you have people walking for exercise in the morning, before they get in their car and drive to work or the store or just down the street. Every street is curved. Every land plot is oddly shaped to account for the curves. I have to go to Google maps just to find how to get to a different street in my development because you never know where a street is going to take you. I once got lost walking the dog around the block. I'm not kidding.

Even if the development were constructed on a grid, we'd still be screwed. There are no sidewalks anywhere outside of the development. My sister-in-law lives less than a mile away, but there's no way of walking there without taking your life in your hands. All of the restaurants are located by the interstate, and the grocery store is too far away to do anything but drive. Even the local "convenience" store requires walking along a busy road with no sidewalk. It's all just very ridiculous.

We haven't even touched on why I should probably not be a home owner to begin with. I don't like working in the yard. I don't like working outside. I don't like doing home improvements. All of which goes a long way toward explaining why the house and yard looks as it does.

If not here, where?
Central Ohio is a cultural wasteland. We can't maintain an orchestra or a jazz club, and touring companies come here as a last resort. It seems that the only places to eat and shop are chains. It's no wonder Men's Health magazine listed Columbus in the number 2 spot of their rank of cities with the most sex. There's nothing else to do here!

All of that aside, I'd still much rather live within the city itself than the suburbs. A condo or apartment in the city, with public transportation, no grass to mow or snow to shovel, and restaurants and grocers within biking distance.

Now, we're pretty much stuck here for some time. The economy is in the toilet and it's a buyer's market. Plus, I think the kids would hate me more than they already claim to for "ruining their lives" if I moved them now. But after the kids move out, it's all open. Philly, Toronto, The Cleve. Who knows where we'll go. But you can bet it won't be a suburb.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Meds Rock!

Well, it took a few days (and a couple of depression fueled posts on twitter and my music), but I'm finally starting to feel better. I wanted a beer last night, so I think I'll just pour what I have down the sink.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Depression Sucks!

Memorial Day weekend. Time to grill some steaks, crack open a few beers and enjoy an extra day off from work. But be careful - don't let the disruption to the normal routine cause you to forget to take your medication. Otherwise you'll find yourself clawing and scratching your way out of a funk.

I think I just need to quit drinking entirely. Alcohol is a depressant. Add to that the unexpected absence of 20 mg. of Lexapro, and I'm not a happy camper.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to Carry Stuff

This has been bothering me for at least a year now. Actually, longer than that, it's just come to the forefront over the last year. But first, a little personal history...

When I was working in Atlantic City as a parking lot attendant, I carried a lot of cash. I carried it in my left front pocket so that it was easily accessible. My wallet was one of those biker chain-wallets, kept in my back pocket. This served me well for some time, until I outgrew the chain wallet.

I remember reading somewhere that keeping a wallet in your back pocket is bad for your back. Makes sense to me. I also remember watching someone on TV explain that the safest place to keep a wallet is in the front pocket so it's harder to steal. They also suggested keeping money in a money clip in a different pocket so that, in the event of a mugging, you can take the money and throw it in one direction while running in the other. The thief will likely go after the money instead of you. This also made sense to me, so that's what I did. I went to the mall and bought a smallish leather card wallet to hold my license and cards and such, and a money clip. The wallet went in my right front pocket, the money clip in my left. Eventually I abandoned the money clip because it was, more often than not, empty. This lasted me for several years.

Then, along came cell phones. My first one was rather large compared to those of today. I kept it in a pouch on my belt. I hated that pouch! I ruined the lines of my jacket if I chose to dress nicely. I got in the way when I sat down or when buckling my seatbelt. It just didn't work. Then I got a PalmPilot to go with the cell phone. I had a chord that would connect the two so I could actually browse the web and check email with my Palm. So then I got a little wallet that would hold both the Palm and cell phone, along with all of my cards and such. This was great because it emptied my pockets! Of course, the first time I lost it, I freaked out until some Good Samaritan called my home phone (he looked it up on my cell) saying that he found it.

After that, I combined my efforts and got a Smart phone (cell and Palm in one). It was HUGE and heavy and not fun to carry. I put it on my belt, but I wasn't happy about it.

My next cell phone was smaller and fit just a little better on my belt. But it was a flip phone and would constantly get caught on stuff. I really didn't like it.

I decided my next phone would be a Chocolate, because it could double as a music player and it was small enough that I could put it in my pocket. So that's what I have now. Aside from the fact that, as a music player the Chocolate sucks, and as a phone it's not much better, it does indeed fit in my pocket. Of course, this means that I have one rectangular bulge on my right thigh where my card wallet is (yes, the same one I bought at the mall 20 years ago) and one rectangular bulge on my left thigh where my cell phone is. Add to those bulges a set of keys and, on rare occasions, money, and I begin to look like I have some very unfortunate deformities.

So, last fall my wife bought me a messenger bag. I had been tossing the idea around for some time, and it seemed to make sense. The fact that I'd seen absolutely NO men carrying messenger bags here in the mid-west didn't phase me too much, I've never given these things much thought. I moved everything to the bag and carried more stuff with me as well (an umbrella, ear buds so I could listen to my crappy music phone, my journal, reading material...). I liked it very much. But then it started becoming cumbersome. It was too easy to put stuff in. It got heavy. Plus, while I don't really care too much what other people think, it's still a little odd going into a hardware store full of manly-men carrying what amounts to a purse.

That's where I am now. I change my mind every few days as to which route to take. The pro/con lists in my mind grow on a daily basis.

Stuffed Pockets - pros
  • Difficult to steal
  • Nothing to keep track of
Stuffed Pockets - cons
  • Uncomfortable, particularly when it's hot
  • Looks absolutely ridiculous
  • Are we certain cell phones don't cause cancer? Cause I'm carrying mine right next to my sack!
The Murse - pros
  • Holds more stuff
  • Indiana Jones carries one
The Murse - cons
  • Can be cumbersome and heavy
  • Easy to steal
  • Can't hear phone (not sure if that's a con or not really)
  • Often referred to as a murse
As this debate continues in my head, I'll keep switching off. My pockets are currently stuffed, but I'll bet I carry the bag tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Universal Health Care

Why is this concept feared so much? Other countries do it quite successfully. The right wants to keep health care privatized. Well, we see what that's done for us, haven't we?

Just the other day, Dennis Irwin (a jazz bassist in New York) died of cancer. He did not have health insurance because he couldn't afford it. A benefit was held by several prominent jazz artists to help raise funds to cover his medical expenses. A few weeks ago, before he died, someone posted a note about him on a bass player's email list to which I belong. He closed the note by suggesting people vote Democrat so we can get some heath care for people who need it. For several days after, the list was bombarded with arguments for and against universal health care. I was astonished by one person in particular who suggested it was his own fault for choosing a profession (musician) that does not pay enough.

In this global economy, jobs are getting outsourced on a daily basis. I personally have taken an interest in identifying jobs that cannot be outsourced. Quite often these are service industry jobs. Hairdresser, for instance, cannot be outsourced. It's a valid and necessary profession that must be performed on location. Does a hairdresser make enough money to afford health insurance? Probably not. Does the shop in which the hairdresser works pay for insurance for its employees? Doubtful. So, unless the hairdresser can get coverage under their spouse, they're out of luck. And what of those who are single either by choice or because the law will not allow them to marry due to their sexual orientation?

I know of a person who is currently working three jobs, yet works 60 hours a week. She does not have a degree beyond high school (face it, not everyone is college bound), so her job choices are limited. Because each of her jobs is a part-time position, she does not have health insurance. As such, she was sidelined recently by a mere urinary tract infection, which she treated herself by drinking gallons of cranberry juice.

Are we all so self centered and non-caring as to let our friends and neighbors endure illness and massive health care bills just because it might cost us a couple of pennies?

I saw someone on The Daily Show recently who suggested that the government's only job should be to protect us from harm and that it should keep out of everything else (except our bedrooms, no doubt). He insisted that even trash pick-up should be privatized. Of course, if this were so, would the people with those jobs make enough? Would their companies buy insurance for them? I'm sure he would agree that anyone who can't afford to buy health insurance just shouldn't have it. I wonder who cuts his hair.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Politics?!? Really?!?

First, let me apologize to my loyal readers (both of you) for removing my old blog, "Random Thoughts." It's interesting to see what stupid thing depression can make you do.

Now, politics. Earlier this week, Ohio played the wonderful roll of helping to keep Hilary in the race for the Democratic nomination. I am proud to have played a part in it, and even more proud to finally be presented with the choice of selecting the woman or the black man on the ballot.

I like both of them. I find them to be very similar and would be surprised at this point if, in the end, both of their names aren't on the ticket. I like Hilary just a little bit more, which is why I voted for her. Former President Clinton was, in my opinion, the best president this country has had in my lifetime. Having Senator Clinton serve would hopefully bring this country back from the depths of hell to which the current administration has subjected us.

I do have some reservations about her though. First, I don't like that she followed the pack and voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq back in 2002. But I can look past that. People make mistakes. A bigger concern for me is that, with Hilary on the ticket, Republicans will come out in droves to vote not for McCain, but to keep her out. People don't like her. A lot of people don't like her. I don't know why this is. Is it just because she's married to Bill? Is it because she's strong? I just don't get it.

I've been really torn over the last few years. I don't like the fact that ours is really a two-party system. If I were to vote with my heart, I'd vote (and have in the past) Green Party, because they really speak to my ideals. But everyone knows that a third party candidate will not be elected. I have used my vote to try to send a message, thinking that if enough people do so, we might gain some notice. So far, no one has noticed.

For now, I'm just happy to be able to vote for someone rather than against someone.