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.