Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Basic Time

A blast from the past! What? Yes, the little things really can just make your day in a big way.

Recently I was going through some boxes in storage with my kiddo, looking for a couple of items I needed. And Junior just happened to stumble across something I forgot about. As a matter of fact I thought I'd lost it years ago. He came across my old pocket watch!

So when I was younger, I'd eat watches up. Washer, smashed in a bicycle wreck, lost. You name it, I probably used it to destroy a watch. So in 1993 I saw this pocket watch I just had to have. So I got it. I took a beating and kept on ticking. Pun intended. It was so good that it became my every day carry watch, until I went to military school. I kept it in my pocket sans chain. But not having the chain just felt wrong, and the bulge in my pocket just didn't seem proper with my uniform. Moving forward I wore a wrist watch like everyone else.

Now I've tried many a watch. And some are very handy for certain things. For instance my Suunto is tops when scuba diving. A basic analog is best in health care were my hands are full, but I need the seconds hand to time things like a pulse. But nothing has ever felt as natural as a pocket watch.

Upon its recent discovery I wondered if it would even still work. After all, the last time I knew it was running was when I was still in school. It's been packed away ever since. The logical thing to do was to take it into a shop. In record time, the gentleman pulled it apart, cleaned it, replaced the battery (I may have the insides changed one day) and then put it all back together. It works! He even commented that he was impressed with it, and recognized that it was a limited run device for it's time. It's been back in my pocket everyday since then, and I don't miss my wristwatch a bit. It didn't cost much when I bought it. But for me at least, it's priceless now.

Front of my 1993 Looney Tunes Pocket Watch
Back side


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Music to My Ears.

Years ago I learned how to play music. Not as much by choice but because the school I went to required two years. The first year everyone picked up the recorder. Typical. The next year however, everyone had to pick an instrument. Keep in mind I commuted to school from the next town over. So by the time I arrived to try picking out my instrument, many had already been filled up. Percussion? Filled. Trumpet? Filled. Sax? Filled. I ended up with a flute. Yes, my first instrument was the piece of metal that was given new life as a dirty joke. At the time I thought it was a joke too.Fast forward a few years, and I not only learned to appreciate it, but loved it. I played right into my Junior High days. Then change was about to happen.

Teenage angst was setting in. The bad director I had was a... well 30 years later and I still can't find a word to describe my disdain. Not only did I get the flute jokes from other band members, and the student body, but was belittled by this toxic life form for the same thing. I no longer wanted to play. I kept my flute at home and made a change. I finally went to the percussion section. Xylophone, tympani, bells, cymbals, etc. You put me behind them, and I wasn't going to just play them. I was going to beat them! My anger and frustration went into whatever I was going to be playing for a given song. And he hated it.

Enter my dad. He played guitar since he was a kid, and picked up piano/ keyboards along the way by ear. He'd played with many a band, and had tried to teach me some guitar, but I didn't want it at the time. So he did the next best thing, and bought me a drum kit. At this point I didn't like playing in front of people much because of said band director. I'd mess around sometimes with friends. My pleasure was much more in the confines of home though. I'd crank the stereo, or put on my headphones, and would kick that kit for all I was worth in high school.

Then of course life happened. I went to a military school, enlisted in the Marine Corps, had a child, and on and on. When I finally came home to the US. My beloved flute was long gone, lost amongst my parents moving. My drums were destroyed by a bad roommate of my future stepdad's when my folks split. The only music in my life was the radio, cd's, and old cassettes. I accepted it for years. I tried getting into the whole guitar hero thing with my kids. And while the drums were good "FOR A GAME". They weren't the real thing. I had a hole begging to be filled.

The day finally came to fill that hole. I'd been looking around some local music stores. One day, my dad was in town and asked me if I could get any instrument there, which one would I choose? Thinking is was a hypothetical question I answered honestly and showed him the bass guitar I'd had my eye on. I don't know what it was, but I was just drawn to her. He bought her on the spot along with an amp. My jaw dropped!

The day I brought Ol' Blue home.
My journey back into music was rekindled. My ex thought I was wasting my time. So I'd spend what time I could back in the bedroom (sexy I know) getting to know my new found love. Not long after I had started to get to know her, tragedy struck. My dad died unexpectedly. I couldn't even look at Ol' Blue without wanting to cry. So she was put away for a couple years. Once in a while I'd try, but couldn't. Finally, enough time went by and I not only could bring her out of her confinement, but I started getting to know her all over again. Just a little at a time. It was like I was able to spend time with my dad.

Fast forward a little bit, and the church was looking for a bassist. I didn't say anything at first. And then a friend, who knew I played a little, told the music director. I explained I was just learning and didn't think I'd be up to par. Really it was because after all those years, I was still that kid that didn't want to play for people anymore. But after some discussion I went out, and a couple weeks later found myself stepping into a band again. It was different this time. I wasn't playing for people, I was serving the Lord! While it wasn't exactly my style of music, that didn't matter anymore. The game had changed!

The Artist hanging out on stage.
A a rapid rate I found myself starting on just mid-week service, to playing mid-week and all Sunday services as well. It was exciting. And then it got more exciting. Mid-week service went away during the summer do to so many things happening in the church and there not being prep-time. But when they came back, we found ourselves doing an acoustic night, since our keys man was leading the Youth service now. So I found myself an acoustic/electric bass to go with the sound. She's gotten a lot of praise. And then another change had taken its toll as well.

My violin bass Happy Camper.
 I'd sustained a back injury at work and needed something a little lighter than Ol' Blue. Enter Happy Camper. And just like any other instrument, they each have their own personality and sound. I've found myself switching out between the three, depending on what day it is, what we're playing, or just plain how I'm feeling.

That hole has been filled. I have music in it's rawest form back in my life. And when I'm down, it really helps. It transcends just listening. I hear it, feel it, clear my head, spend time with loved ones past, and most importantly learn. Whether it's a technique, and adjustment to a song, or a riff that's in my head, I'm a student of music. I enjoy playing again. Not only am I part of a band of people I respect, I'm part of the greatest band on earth. God's band. You'll find them in your local church, with varying styles of play and worship.

Now you're probably asking what the point is. And there is one. This has just been a part of my journey. NEVER LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR MUSIC. You may not find it again. Your music may be literal, or something else entirely. But it's a part of you. You can take breaks if need be. But don't lose it. Ever.

Serving with the Lords blessings upon me.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Coffee and Warm Drinks

This is going to get me in trouble with some, oh well! I'll keep it short.

I love coffee, I really can't stand Starbucks. Every once in a while I'll go back just to make sure it hasn't improved. Today I when and got a Carmel Macchiato, venti, hot. It's horrible! I always feel that the beans are over cooked or something! I over pay every time! Bucks is just convenient garbage, much like McDonalds. Except their fries, who doesn't love their fries right?

But then there's this wonderful place down the road. My Circle K. Cheap, hot, and delicious! If I really want to splurge, I'll go to Dunkin Donuts. Yup, that place! My fiancée is all about her Starbucks, but these days it's a much more open door. She even said that Dunkin is better! Can you believe it! I was on cloud 9 because I knew she meant it! We'll go to the store and buy better coffee for home.

But now there's a little more of a bit in the air. So I've been warming up a different drink a little more often. First there's the Apple Cider, sometime with a little Irish Whiskey, sometime not. But then there's the grand daddy of winter awesomeness! Hot Cocoa! And I especially love my with broken up candy cane!

Now, sometimes I go into teenager mode. And even I was a bit skeptical when I did this. I made some with Eggnog. It's the one time I'll say skip the candy cane. When done with just the plain cocoa though.... mmm! I'm going to have to get more eggnog at the store today. It really is awesome though. An holiday treat dancing into my mouth, and down my throat. Not for the light of heart. Give it a try. I dare you!

Life and Career Changes Part One

What's this? My last blog entries were New Years and 1/2 of 2015!?!?!?!?! Are you kidding me? No it's true. Holy cow does time fly when you're getting life back on track. And boy has it been a ride!

So this will be the update entry? Boooorrriiinng!It's an easy re-cap. Went back to school, and made a career change. Blah, Blah, Blah.

Yes! I left the world of the criminal justice system in the review mirror, and started working in health care. What an oxymoron of a name. Are their great people that care? Absolutely! But then they're leashed by greedy corporations, spineless administrators, and ignorant doctors (No real world smarts for many. Just what they've been spoon fed in their agenda pushing schools.) I'll say it here! Many, not all, doctor's are some of the dumbest smart people you'll ever meet! Get a nurse practitioner, you'll be better off. Nurses save lives, not doctors!

However, I have found the world of Hospice to be a true calling. Funny how even in a new career field I found myself dealing with death on the daily again. Now for some it's a scary place where people are dying. Not always the case! Many people do come improve and come off of hospice care. For some, it's just a way to get better funding from the insurance powers that be, to provide better care for people. That is the bottom line right? Get the best possible care? Sadly though, most don't come off of it. But the relationships you develop with both the patients and their families are amazing.

In just providing care in this area, I found something I'd been missing for years. The work that I was doing MADE A DIFFERENCE! The people I've formed relationships with and have cared for have given me a gift beyond anything you'd get elsewhere. A fresh breath of life. They've shared advise, past experiences, regrets, triumph's, failures, and even first love! While some have feared the end of life as we know it, and what's beyond that veil. Other's have embraced it, and let everyone around them know that they love them and will see them again when they go home.

I've seen things in my life that have given me chills. Nothing has gotten to me more than those who have said, "I'm going to die in 3 days." And then it happens! It's crazy! And for me it's re-affirmation of life after death. It's also drawn me closer to my ministry work.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Captain, My Captain

Time to bring out a little geek. It's been a while and. There's no "and". This is my blog and I'll blog what I want! Today kids, is a sequel of sorts. You may recall I wrote an entry a while back about the Star Wars vs Star Trek feud, when I declared Babylon 5 the winner.

Today however, B5 doesn't win. So let's get to it. Who's the best Captain? So my Browncoats will hate this, but Mal is the first I'll knock down. He's a bad dude, but only a Captain in the technical sense as he's the employer and owns Serenity. That's it. Done deal. He's gone.

Next up. Star Wars. Sure there's some captain's. But none we truly know as a captain or really care about. We know them as jedi, princess, scoundrel, droids, sith, and wookies. So my Death Star just blew that universe away. Moving on.

Sadly B5 is next on the chopping block. This might be enough to drive Garibaldi back to the booze. We see some great captain's here. And we see a lot of them die. But the ones that live are career and fate driven to move up and out. They become ambassadors, presidents, etc. They just keep moving to other pastures. While it's great, we just couldn't hold on to our captain's out there. Even commanders were subject to the same fate.

Next up Trek. We have a ton of captain's here, and that's just on the Federation's side alone. Picard, Janeway, Sisko, eventually even Sulu made the seat. Admit it, you still giggle at the memory of Christian Slater getting yelled at. But the first captain, not the pilot Kirk, but Shatner is my Captain. He gave life to the breed of Captain we expect today. I say Shatner, not just Kirk, because no other Captain has given so much of himself to the seat.  Picard could give a run for his money, but Patrick Stewart himself has noted that one TNG was surprising in that it didn't fail, when he expected it to. And two, it was merely a great part in his career. Which makes sense after his various successes.

But Shatner, Kirk, has a life in the chair. So many great series, and worlds but he comes back. TJ Hooker, TekWar, Boston Legal, and so many memorable moments. But he was always in the chair. His addition in the world of books shows his love and devotion to the chair. Even when Kirk was promoted, he found his way back to the Captain's chair. His advise to Picard, "don't let them take that chair away". And to this day there is still interest in being part of one last journey on the big screen as Kirk.

Just as Kirk man handled the Kobayahi Maru, Shatner has defied the only being the Captain for a while. Instead he's turned the odds around and given us more than could be expected of a character, a writer, an actor, and himself. Shatner is the Captain.
So hopefully Ivanova doesn't whoop me too bad when she and the Captain are in town for the Albuquerque Comic Con next week.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolution for Life

Happy New Year! So it's day 1 and many of you have a resolution of some sort. Some are saying, "not me."

For most it's some vain, petty thing that won't last long. Examples include: lose weight, stop smoking, work less. Let's admit it. Most won't stick to a resolution past saying it.

Here's the "but". I have a recommendation for everyone's resolution. It's incredibly simple. And it's something everyone should be doing anyway.

"Be a better me"

Yup, that's it. We all have things we have trouble with, and struggle to overcome. In the USMC we say, "know yourself and seek self-improvement." It's a must.
Now, I'm not saying to become a fitness freak, or to put out that cigarette. I'm not saying to stop cursing, or to go to church. What this resolution calls for is baby steps. It's a day at a time. And you will have moments that will cause you to stumble and fall. That's ok. Just get back up. Smile. And start again. Do your best. And then tomorrow, you'll do even better. The best part of this is the fact that it's not just a new years resolution. It's that this can and should be a resolution for life.

Can you imagine how much better the world would be if everyone committed to this? Are you up to the challenge?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Random Pet Peeve

Time for a random tick. You have to love people with a delusion of grandeur. The security guard who truly believe he's a cop, the ugly person who thinks they're a model, and something that's been on my mind for a while is the karaoke singer who thinks they are the front man for the next big band. You know the types I'm talking about.

Now we all have friends and family with good singing voices. I'm the first to admit mine sounds like a dog that's still awake while getting castrated. Yup, it's that bad. Luckily I have other talents to make up for it. However a while back, alright way back,  I met a guy at work who said in his off time he's a singer for a local band. To protect the embarrassment of the group, I won't list it's name and we'll refer to this guy as Red. But I digress. So Red's a singer right. And of course we challenge him to sing something for us. He tries, and fails with some poor excuse. And we all write him off. 

A couple years later, Red pop's up again. Our workplace is making some big fuss about him because he's going to a karaoke championship. I'm thinking, "great, he can sing if he's reading." My kids can do that while playing Rock Band, big deal. And it turns out, he did pretty good. Proving, yes it's easier when you can just read the words instead of having talent. At this point Red and I are both leaving for other business ventures, and he disappears. Out of sight, out of mind.

So fast forward to a couple months ago. My wife and I take a nice long weekend to Buffalo Thunder to get away for a little while. We're walking around and who do I find? You guessed it, here's Red and his band playing at one of the clubs at this resort. So Erica and I do what comes natural, we sit down, place an order and listen to them for a while. Overall the band isn't bad. The drummer is wailing on his kit, the bassist is walking around and killing it, the guitarist isn't great but they're getting the job done, there's a female singer that knows what she's doing and has a good voice, then there's Red. 

Red's trying to move with the dancing skills of a toddler, trying way to hard to act like a rock star, and I'm thinking to myself, "What The French Toast" For all he's worth, he can't get two feet from his mic stand. You may be asking what's the significance of that? Well he's holding a mic, it's not on the stand. The stand has an iPad holder with, that's right sports fan, an iPad! He's reading every stinking word! And very obviously at that! He's treating it like a karaoke machine! Song's that are very well rehearsed by the band, and one song being the same one he bombed all those years ago when we challenged him. He can't do anything without this stinking tablet!

Here's the pet peeve. As I've mentioned in the past, I grew up around musicians. My dad being one. Myself, being one. And many friends being musicians. If you're in a band, let alone singing, you take some pride in the fact YOU KNOW THE MATERIAL! A set list, with one or two notes is no big thing. But know the material. If you're standing in front of a tablet, you are not a musician. Red you're a hack! I don't care if you're sing the national anthem, learn it, take the heat and grow from your mistakes, or get the stage! There is one time it's okay to read the music if you're performing in front of a crowd aside from being in school, it's called being in an orchestra. Red, it's time for you exit, stage right.