Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Buy A Guitar

There are lots of videos and magazines and articles advising how to buy a guitar. Take your time and read and watch and learn but it won’t matter.
A guitar is made from wood. Go out and hug a tree to get the feeling. The sound is made from constructing a plank or a box and running wires over it. If correctly built, it will make a sound when the wire is plunked.
Since before time began, our species want to annoy our neighbors by making some noise. The guitar was the perfect instrument for this because not only could it make a sound it could be easily carried to the next location to disturb.
Scholarly approaches to the guitar would be to study tone wood; shape patterns fret width and thickness, bridge and neck material, bracing and an assortment of other features that could make your purchase an informed decision. Watching or listening to the craftsmen who construct these instruments is fascinating, but the same is true for auto manufacturers or furniture makers or weaving artisans.
With mass production of everything, the skilled workmanship quality is scrutinized by experts in the field who review past and present and recommend choices from the thousands available. Plus all the different manufacturers sponsor the reviews.
Back in the day there were few options. The music stores sold pianos. That was the instrument of the wealthy while the guitar was assigned to the parlor for small family occasions.
Mountain and folk and blues and jazz were all starting to find interest in the guitar so more manufacturers provided them to the music stores and the public bought them. When the folk era of the 60’s appeared the demand blossomed.
The groups that appeared on black and white television all had this guitar slung over their shoulders and it quickly became apparent that every boy and girl had to have a guitar.
Some manufacturers could craft enough guitars to promote their brand and others tried to become popular enough to be profitable. The market had changed from skilled musicians to kids.
While guitars came out of the backroom and were presented in glorious wonder, the price was above what most could afford. Luckily like any other trend more and more companies got on the bandwagon and started producing guitars of various quality and prices.
Now you got the history, you are ready to buy a guitar.
Oh my golly, look at all the choices. In today’s music stores there are racks and racks of guitars in all shapes and colors and sizes and price ranges. With rudimental knowledge and a few dollars in your pocket anyone can walk out with an instrument that will make some kind of sound.
With electronics there is a need for amplification and neighbors and parent’s tolerance while acoustics can be practiced in bedrooms with little disturbance. The practice is the same until accompaniment by others with different skills.
Now with all that confusion I relay this thought. A guitar is like your dancing partner. You hold a guitar as close to you as your lover.
You will know her when you pick her up. All the specs and stats mean nothing until you run your fingers over her and she feels right.
Don’t bother on all those alternations that can be made to make her perfect, she just feels right. She will be by your side and travel with you without asking for anything but to be played.
Price will be your restriction, but be sure to check out the back alleys and pawnshops for there are treasures to be found. Settle for what you can easily afford now for others will be available later.  Learn how to set-up and re-string and ask advice on wood conditions. She will serve you well if you take care.
If you decide to buy by brand there are various choices constructed in many parts of the world to discerning quality for detail. If you do your homework you can find a treasure.
Through the many years I’ve had the pleasure to accompany many ladies to the dance. Some fit well and others not so much. I’ve learned and became familiar with what I prefer and had the opportunity to find ladies I had lusted after at an early age.
 My advice is to go out and pick up every guitar you can find and strum it. Play it as long as the music store will allow then come back the next day and play it again. Get to know what draws you into this particular guitar. Compare similar models and then go back. 
If she continues to excite you, this is the one.  

Where is yor statue?

I’ve always found it impressive for someone to have a statue made of him or her. The really overwhelming ones are those carved out of a mountain, but most are made of stone or metal and placed on a pedestal to display the likeness and history of someone who should be remembered.
I’m so obsessed by this idea of capturing a moment in time that I am also fascinated by taxidermy. I don’t understand why someone goes out and kills an innocent animal only to decapitate it and mount the remains on a wall as a trophy. Since it does seem to be a popular symbol or ‘statue’ (pardon) I’ve often wondered why we don’t do our family this way? Instead of putting your loved ones in a box and stored in the ground, why not have them stuffed? Wouldn’t it be great to have pop in the corner reading the newspaper with pipe in hand and a permanent smile on his face? You could ask all the questions you always wanted to and get the same response. What about having mom sitting in the kitchen? She could silently criticize your cooking without a word being spoken.
In today’s 3-D printing society, anyone could take a photo and make a statue of the image. Perhaps an ornamental head bust to sit on the mantle or an audacious mounted equestrian figure in some fabricated uniform proclaiming power and importance for eons to come.
Imagine how future generations will view a statue and wonder about the person’s life and accomplishments were such to be revered. Even when the history becomes clouded, the statue will still be there.
What is my point? I’m glad you asked.
Recently there have been news reports of people of somewhat relevance and perhaps influence embellishing on certain events in their lives. Political correctness and ethical reality do not always walk hand-in-hand. The truth as we all know is about interpretation.
I’ve often walked into a room of strangers or even colleagues and accessed the importance of truth. You cannot impress a pretty girl at the bar with the truth. A funny stranger may turn into a fortune 500 player so don’t disappoint them.
Sitting down in a plane for a long ride the person next to you starts up a conversation. What do you do? he ask. Do you tell him the truth or not?
You can be the CEO of some unknown mega corporation or the inventor of patent designed to allow people unlimited happiness or an infamous writer of specialized books that only a few scholars read. The list goes on and on.
This stranger doesn’t know whom you are or what you really do, so make it up. Believe me, I’ve done this and it works and it makes the journey much more of an adventure.
With all that said, why are we making such a fuss about a reporter who was in or around or near by an exciting news story and embellished his or her encounter. So they were in a hotel room watching some movie when all the action was going on, they got a good story at deadline. So they were close by but maybe not that close by, what’s the harm in that? What if they fudged a few details? Don’t we elect the people who make our laws who do that?
The little white lies we tell our wives or the truth that is stretched on our employment application can’t be but so bad. Everyone does it, right?
It is only a crime if you get caught. 
Now I got to go work on my statue.

How Do You Describe Yourself

It all starts with the family. Parents present us as ‘cute’ or ‘big’ or ‘funny’. Siblings are compared to one another as ‘he is the smart one’ or ‘she is a pretty little princess’. These descriptions will follow us throughout life.
In school, the ‘smart one’ better make good grades or will become a failure in his parent’s eyes. Also for the first time, there are other ‘smart ones’ who maybe even smarter. 
The ‘pretty little princess’ may not be as pretty as other ‘little princesses’. This maybe the first lost of self-esteem with many more to follow. 
The parents will continue to describe their offspring with their accomplishments in sports and education. 
Once out of school the cascade of descriptions overwhelm who we are.
Our occupations become our personal identifications. Parents can brag about ‘my son, after eight years of very expensive places of higher learn is following the family in the medical profession’ or ‘my daughter, the magna cum laude at the prestige’s university being awarded the sigma pi delta, lawyer’. 

While the parent’s pride is obvious, the professional titles will define our lives.
Next comes family. As the siblings have siblings, the parents who become grand have even more descriptions to apply to us. Now as parents we can create new descriptions for our offspring. 

He is the tall one’ or ‘she is the athletic one’ will be stated without consideration of the consequences.
Our descriptions grow with our house locations, automobiles, organizations and religious affiliations. Spouses and their descriptions add on to our own. Our friends will make up new descriptions like ‘he is the goofy one’ or ‘she is the sassy one’. 
Adjectives are what describe us. Who are you?
My brother is the ‘smart one’ but I’m the ‘good looking one’.
The game requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children.  

Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved—players are never required to make choices, just follow directions. The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Get A Life

So it is another snow day. Sunny but cold day so wandering out is out of the question. No need to go out so stay in the sweats and sit down at the computer and waste some time with multiple cups of coffee.
Cruise around different familiar sites looking for a snippet of something interesting. Click on links to other sites to be overwhelmed with pop-up ads and little else. Comment on things posted by people you don’t know. Examine news stories or watch videos that normal would be passed by. Even waste some time on celebrities and how they react to something stupid like it really matters. Oh and don’t forget to scroll through all those puppies playing in the snow pictures.
Sometimes music can help make the time go by. Sometimes the alcohol will numb the lack of motivation and waste of twenty-four hours.
Boring? Perhaps. Cabin fever? Maybe, but how do we spend our normal days?
Without running chores like picking up the laundry because we are too lazy to iron or take the puppies to the vet after they started sneezing after playing in the snow or standing in line at the grocery store to buy the last of the milk and bread, what do we do. We settle down in front of a big screen and watch a movie between news and entertainment shows.
So I’m not watching mindless television but instead am sitting in front of the small screen writing this. I wander back and forth between email gibberish and social media silliness. It does keep me up-to-the-minute on the news but what can I do about silly politicians doing sillier things or militants or terrorist or jihadist or insurgents or whatever bad guys are doing all over the world or the weather?
Gonna stop now because it is time for another cup of coffee.
I can hear you, my dedicated readers saying, “Get a life.” Well I got a life. This is my life. The life I’ve been living since I arrived at this planet. There have been variations and something’s out of my control like work and school, but this is my life. Well it is at least my life on a snow day.
Oops! I had to stop again because I poured the coffee and left it in the kitchen.
So where was I? Oh yeah, life as we spend it.
Not many of us are Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King or even Steve Jobs, so we just bump along through the years growing older and usually less healthy and probably taking up some bad habits along the way. We sire the next generation, acquire almost as much money as we can spend, become a constant nuisance in the neighborhood and maybe even become a member of our preferred congregation.
And I noticed we do pickup a lot of useless knowledge along the way. Words to ancient songs or quotes from discontinued television shows can be called up at a moments notice but we forget our passwords or where we put our keys or our friend’s children’s names.
When we get together we talk about our lives.
The usual topics of family, housing, automobiles and health can break the ice in any conversation, but I’ve noticed an interesting topic we bring up more often now. After our bonding with similar knowledge of books read or shows watched or which celebrity wore what designer on the red carpet, we turn our talk to high school.
Well not really high school, but close.
When in high school we start comparing our clothing, cars, music, and even girlfriends to figure out who would fit into our group of friends and who would not. The kids with wealth to buy the best of all things create a status that separates those of lesser means.  Without emotional understanding some flaunted their possessions creating envy in others.  The jealousy festered low self-esteem and a feeling of inadequacy. Ostentatiously displaying their opulence gave favor to a few.
Well, that is life.
As we progress through time, we experience events, take photos of places visited and collect an array of ‘stuff’. We buy houses and cars and send our kids to colleges. Our kids take off on their careers and the cycle repeats itself.
Is that what life is all about?
So after the ice is cracked, our high school comparisons continue. Billy got a job with his father at a big law firm downtown and bought a house in a gated neighborhood. Fred just got a new X2-900 with a turbo thing-a-ma-doogle engine that can go from 0 to 60 faster than he could tell about it. Sally’s daughter has become a single mom living at home. Betty has been married four times with six kids, has been laid off of her two jobs and is now living off welfare. Ben has been working at the same job for 35 years and spends every evening at the corner bar. Jenny gets beaten every night but knows how to cover with make-up. Roger bought a used X2-900 without the turbo or the leather seats and is paying for it out of his son’s tuition savings. Susan’s son is going to jail for selling drugs at his tattoo shop. Tom’s sister was in an auto accident without insurance so he is trying to do the right thing and spend money and time with her while his wife has an affair. Jane (who used to be Jack) is Billy’s mistress and has given him HIV but he doesn’t know it yet.
If the conversation ask the question of ‘How do you feel about Benny Schwartz taking over the comedy fake news show?” the answer is ‘Who is Benny?’ When a group is talking about the movie “382 Shades of Monochromatic Darkness” it is time to keep on walking because you haven’t read the book and don’t want to see the movie. If the electronic devices come out it is best to move on because they will be obsolete in ten minutes.
As the talk gets depleted there is always food and drink and the big screen to hold our attention until we become too bored or too sleepy or too drunk to drive to continue.
Now the snow has fallen and the temperatures will be dropping and I’m still in the clothing I woke up in. Just sitting here at the screen pecking away at the keyboard now and then checking to see if I have any mail (which I don’t) or to see if there is any breaking news (which there isn’t) or check social media to see if there are any more pictures of dogs and children playing in the snow (which there are).
Writing down my thoughts of being held hostage by the pretty white carpet outside and occasionally peering out the window to talk to Al. That is the high point of the day. Then settle back down to ponder if the water pipes will freeze or if there will be sleep tonight after drowning myself in coffee all day or if I will venture out into the freeze tomorrow just for a six-pack instead of spending another day within the four walls of my winter cell.
“Get a Life!” 
No thanks; I’ve already got one.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

So You Want To Date My Sister?

    First of all let me say I’ve never had a sister. Not that I’ve never dated a sister, but all my immediate family were boys.
Second let me say I’ve never had a daughter. I’ve dealt with dads and their concerns about me taking out their daughters.
Third and finally, I understand the emotional connection between father and daughter. I also understand the young teenage lust factor. A father was a teenager before and his wife was like his daughter to another father.
But fathers and mothers are adults and must face the inevitable of letting their daughter go to another.
Not so much brothers.
A brother, especially an older brother, will take under his wing his little sister. He will be supportive of her adventures and listen to heartbreaks. He will keep her secrets and without question buffer her from parents. He will teach her baseball and not judge that she throws like a girl.
Even a younger brother has a special bond with a sister. She may be the one to introduce him to that funny little freckled girl down the block he was to shy to talk to. She is the shoulder to cry on when mom is not around. She will help you fold your laundry and tell you the latest songs you should listen to.
So when you go to the door with flowers in hand and sweat on your brow, don’t worry about mom or dad. They will ask you a few questions you can mumble politely through before you remove their daughter to a dance or approved chaperoned gathering. Remember she is their ‘little girl’.
No, don’t worry about them. You can sweet talk and fake how responsible you are and what good care you will take with their precious baby.
Moms and dads can be fooled, but not me. I’m her brother!
I’m the guy sitting three rows back in the dark theatre. I’m the guy, two tables down at the dinner. I’m the guy who is in the shadows of Lookout Point when you arrive.
No matter how soave you think you are and how you pull the wool over my parent’s eyes, I’m still her brother.
If she comes home crying because you’ve broken her heart or tried to molest her, you will have to answer to me. And I will be your worst nightmare.
So before you walk out that door hand-in-hand, remember she has a brother.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Who Do You Love?

Or break-up on Valentine's Day

Just like all other holidays, this one has a routine of coming around every February in the dead of winter. It is cold and windy and wet outside so on this holiday your find inside activities to keep you warm.

Who do you love?
The question isn’t about box of chocolates or flowers or teddy bears or even 50 shades of grey if you are into that sort of thing, but whom do you really love. It might surprise you.
Love is a subjective emotion. It might be first love or love at first sight or puppy love or true love or a million other descriptions of becoming confused and bothered and bewildered over being in the company of another person.
The person you love is the person you sit on the beach with watching the waves come in without saying a word after your first encounter with sex or the person you feel empathy about their previous harmful description of a relationship even thought they are strangers or that warm feeling of watching them sleep in the window seat while the snow is falling outside without concern how much the hotel suite was costing or the laughter after pulling up the crosswalk on the street at night or waking in the middle of the night to go watch shooting stars together or those endless nights on the porch swing or waving off the tap-in to the slow dance or trying to replace an emotional dream with a kitten…Or

Lets break up on Valentine’s Day
You can decide to make February 14th memorable by breaking up. That is right, break a heart on Valentine’s Day and it will never be forgotten. If you have the gonads to hold your pent up emotions until that day, it will make this and further Valentine Days something to remember. And don’t do it with a text or an email, do it face-to-face. You might get slapped or punched or screamed at, but you will never forget Valentine Day ever.

So smooch it up 
or kiss off.
It is Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Obey The Law or what?

What laws do you obey? You know everything has a law or a regulation or a restriction or there is one in the works. You and I and the guy down the block vote every so often for a person to go into a big state house and debate ideas to come up with laws for something or against something. There are thousands of these folks that we elect to represent our ideas and come up with laws to make our lives better.
And there are thousands more who try to persuade these political delegates to vote for or against their particular way of thinking. Everyone from school teachers to multi-millionaires to veterans to farmers to mom and pop businesses to equal rights advocates to gun lobbyist fill the halls of the sideshow with their offers.
The guideline for all this interplay are the cities’ or communities’ charters or the state’s or federal constitutions that are the laws drawn up to give the legislators rules to follow in making decisions. And these laws are often amended with the overseer being the court system that must follow more laws and regulations and restrictions and that is balanced by the CEO of the city or community or state or federal government.
While I have simplified this process, there are people who our friends and families and many we don’t know with every sort of biases and persuasion and emotional candor to follow the debates and television ads to vote for one of the candidates who will decide for the next several years what laws we should obey.
It seems every few moments there is a new law or regulation or statue or decree to rule our social behavior. For the most part, the majority of us follow the laws. We understand the consequences of breaking the laws.
Yet, some or more decide to bend the law to their own interpretation.
So what brought on this aimless rambling of silliness about our jurisdictional process?
Perusing the headlines today I saw there was this local woman who wanted to have a product removed from the shelves of convenient stores because her son used the product and she feels it harmed him but he has access to more and more of this product and he wants to use more and more of it (that is another story for another time). The reporter, being a thorough journalist, questioned delegates of the local legislative assembly up to the attorney general to find there is already a law on the books to ban this product from sale.  The problem, it was said, was the enforcement of the law.
I personally feel most of these laws do not restrict my quality of life, but I also notice so many of them are not obeyed.
Think about that the next time you are texting while driving. There is a law against that but how can it be enforced.
The cat is out of the bag.

You just got to wonder?

Are we really saving the economy?
Every now and then something happens that just keeps you scratching your head and wondering, “What were they thinking?” Here is an example.
I got my usual bill from a local home improvement provider and on the usual designated day, I got out my checkbook and wrote the amount paid and the date and filled the return envelope and placed a stamp and the very next day dropped the payment into the postal box. I filled my copy in a metal file cabinet and waited for the next bill. The usual pattern for all my bills as I have been doing for years and years.
Then I get the next bill and there is a statement that I should pay an extra dollar. “What?” I think. I haven’t even been to the store to buy anything. So I pull out my copy of the receipt and double check and I find the mistake. I don’t owe them, they owe me one dollar.
On the particular day I was writing checks my eyes must have been blurry and a 5 looked like a 6, so I filled out a 6 and was a dollar over what was required to balance the account. I just left it alone knowing they would figure it out and credit me with the extra dollar.
But no, it is never that simple.
A couple of weeks later I get an envelope with the check (see attached). I am amazed.
How much trouble and personnel expense plus waste of paper and postage to send me a check for ‘One Dollar’? Now I have to fill out a deposit slip and go to the bank and smile at the teller as I add to my account. 
On the other hand, I got a tax refund on a debit card. I had to activate the card, check the balance, fill out another deposit slip go to the bank another time to transfer the card’s amount to my checking. Then the teller came back and said the card was declined. “Declined !?!” I checked and double-checked the balance before I left the house and the deposit slip was exact, but it was declined.
So I went back home, longed onto the debit account and the amount was what I had tried to transfer. The rules of the card discussed how many times money could be distracted and what were the fees. “Fees !?!”
A little more digging and I found a method to transfer the full amount to my bank with a confirmation number and a statement that suggested waiting two or three days for the deposit to show up. First of all, I don’t like to give out my bank account information to a third party whose security is unknown. Second I don’t even buy things online for a similar reason, so this process makes me nervous.
If this process had been quicker I wouldn’t have complained but it wasn’t. The printing of the instructions, the mailing and the pressing of the debit must take some money and time to prepare. In this case, I wished they had sent me a check.
So I guess next time I get a refund I’ll have to download a special app to my smart phone to access ‘my money’? Then I will have to buy a smart phone. Phew!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Don't Know Her

And I never will.
I’ll accept her as your lady as I accepted you as my friend. Then again, I don’t know that much about you.
You and I went through whatever kind of experiences and laughed and survived to make a history of tall tales. We didn’t judge each other on religion or family or social tiers but enjoyed similar likes and felt comfortable in each other’s company.
You and I started dating about the same time and found girls to take to dances and take to parties and take to ‘make-out’ drive-in movies. Sometimes the girls would change and sometimes they stayed with us for a while.
As couples, we enjoyed concerts and beach outings and picnics yet a couple has times together that friends do not share. Sometimes a girl would become a steady or a constant date. Sometimes a girl would break a heart and a new girl had to be found.
Sometimes couples would create relationships far beyond friendship and even a few married. Sometimes the girl would become bored or distracted and the bond of a couple was broken.
And if you and some girl become a couple, you both are invited into the family of friends because of you and not her. Whether the couple is a comfortable fit or not, couples form families and families move forward to another life.
The girl you have chosen and who has agreed to be the ‘one’ is still a stranger to me, and perhaps to you. Some questions of history or similarities in life can be discussed, but I will never know the girl you call your mate. I may even know more history of her than you, but you have made your choice and secrets are irrelevant.
And the stranger becomes a woman and a mom and a housewife and a worker and a partner and a lover and all the other possible descriptions of today’s world with all that life throws at her with only you by her side for support and encouragement. Your names become intertwined as one.
So if she makes you happy, that is good enough for me. And if she doesn’t and you move on her name will be quickly forgotten. That is also good enough for me for she was just a stranger.
Such is life.