Tuesday, March 31, 2015

a random thought while grading

I like the letter x. You hardly see the letter x anywhere. I'd like to humbly suggest we, as a society, start using the x to pluralize words. This would lead to several advantages. First, this would solve the whole issue of whether to use just an apostrophe or an apostrophe-s when making a plural word possessive. Secondly, it would lead to more x in our writing, which is good, because x is the coolest looking of all the letters.


Every so often, I teach movies. Today, we're watching The Matrix. Just as we got to the scene where Morpheus introduces Neo to the matrix, one of the lights in our classroom starts going on and off on its own.

It's hard not to read something into this...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

playing season has begun

I played my second show with my band The Antidepressants on Friday. It was quite fun. Only one major screw-up, but we recovered quickly enough. Everything else sounded really good, and we got a few complements on our songs. We even made money, which is a rarity for a bar show!

I thought about doing a good recap of the night, but then I saw a friend mention grading and remembered everything I have to do...so work won out. But, as I was plowing through my own grading, I got a call from one of the people from the Old West End Festival in Toledo...and he quickly booked us for the 2015 festival. We'll be playing at the Art Fair stage on Sunday, June 7th, at 11am.

I hope to follow this up with more festival shows. The band's first gig was at a festival, which was nice as it gives the band immediate exposure to people who don't just know someone in the group. My drummer specifically asked to do more festivals, as they let him get to bed on time. Last year, I played at the Tiffin Music & Art Festival and A Dam Good Time, and I hope to do both again. I've also got feelers out to a whole bunch of other festivals and bars, so if all goes well, I'll be filling up the ole booking calendar. This is nice, as I go crazy if I don't play out regularly.

I was at a friend's birthday party last night, and I ran into a guitarist from another local band. He gave me several leads on music venues in Findlay, OH. I have a listing of clubs in Ann Arbor MI which I plan on hitting soon. And I'm open to play anywhere else anyone suggests.

So go out there and find me places to play! I'm not proud! I'll even do bot-mitzvahs!

Friday, March 27, 2015

my musical self

Most musician friends think of me as an equipment junkie. I am particularly known/mocked for my love of effects pedals; when, for instance, I told an old bassist that I was paring down my pedalboard, she asked me if I was sick. All I really want, though, is a decent tone...if I can get something I like by plugging straight in, I'm happy.

Most musicians with whom I've played think I'm a solo-crazy freak. A former singer used to say, when showing us a new song, would say, "...and here's where Mike can wank." And, to be honest, it was kinda fun to be told to solo endlessly. But that's what the songs called for, and that's really my main concern. In my solo band, I only have leads in a third of the songs.

To the extent that anyone thinks anything of me as a musician, I would suspect there's a certain amount of misconceptions. I'm not addicted to effects, guitar solos, heavy distortion, a few simple chord structures, kazoos, or anything else. I try to fit in with whatever musical environment in which I find myself...which is what I think any musician should do.

This doesn't mean I don't have a distinct musical personality; I certainly do. I did not really notice it, however, until I made my album (which you should buy immediately). I didn't hear it when I started to do solo shows, because I was locked into the singer/songwriter model (which is admittedly limiting, but in a fun way). But, with my very own awesome band, I can create worlds that are my own...and it's glorious.

Tonight, I have the first in-town performance of my band TheMikeDuBose and the Antidepressants. Our only other gig so far has been a music festival, but that was out of town, and we were the first act (so our set was short and subsequently sparsely attended). Tonight, we have the full set on a Friday night, at my favorite bar, with other awesome bands. And we even have a cool gig flyer!

I hope people make it to the show, because I am fiercely proud of our songs. I have a great drummer and bassist who have both intensity and swagger. I have an awesome horn player. The sound has the perfect mix of swing, catchiness, humor, and grit. This is the closest I've been to letting out the sound that's inside my head.

"It should be fun" doesn't begin to describe it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

the importance of environment

So this semester, I have two Comp II classes. One talks. The other doesn't. Talking class is generally lively and intrigued. Quiet class is generally catatonic. I'm doing the exact same thing in each class and getting radically different results. I have to keep remembering that's just how it is.

Today's example was that we're talking about technological literacy, the accelerating rate of technological change, and the impact of those on definitions of humanity. For the kicker, I show them Ray Kurtzweil's truly mind-bending TED talk:

We get to the part where he's talking about nanobot red blood cells which, if someone replaces 10% of their own red blood cells with the nanobots, that person would be able to sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath or sit at the bottom of a swimming pool for four hours.

The talking class's jaws drop. The quiet class? An honest 50% of them are checking their phones.

Sometimes that's just how it is.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

scales of power

Ever wonder how to quantify things? There's fast...there's faster...and now, thanks to my daughter, I now know there's "rainbow jetpack poodle fast."

Monday, March 23, 2015

the value of children

I spend all day Monday and Wednesday with my daughter. Inevitably, this ends up teaching me many things. Today, I learned:
  1. that I have the kind of kid whose first words of the day can be "If I were in the freezer, I would be very cold."
  2. that advanced vocabulary can be funny coming from a not-yet four year old. We were doing some shopping today. As we were leaving the apartment complex, we had to go around a parked utilities truck. This prompted her to exclaim, "what in the world is going on???"
  3. that she has a fun conception of family. I was getting her out of her car seat before going into a store, when she told me, "me, you, and mommy share one body but have three heads."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

important information

Was just in my local coffee shop / used bookstore, and I overheard someone say "boys who poop their pants don't get frozen yogurt."

This seemed important enough to share. Now you know.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

a modest suggestion that I might not suck

I was just walking through the parking lot on my way to my car, when I was flagged down by another guy in the lot. Turns out, he was a student of mine a couple years back. He told me that he's now a student teacher at a local school, and they are doing feminist readings of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He then thanked me, and he told me that I was one of the few people he had the taught him how to do stuff, taught him the skills, taught him the theories.

Excuse me...I think I have something in my eye.


When the BBC finished the first episode of Doctor Who, they apparently donated two of the original Dalek props to the Dr. Barnardo's Homes for Children. There's all kinds of tales (some undoubtedly apocryphal) about various Doctor Who props turning up all around England. Now this is some cryptozoology I can get behind.

the future is here!

Screw the "where's my jetpack?" crowd of naysayers. Did you know that we now have the ability to turn on our computers or phones and see a sunset on Mars? How much more futuristic do you need?

on ego

You'd think I'd know ego when I saw it. 

Last week, I ran across the article Keith Richards Is Not a Second Banana: The Guitarist's Conundrum, and it got me thinking about the nature of ego. Normally, I picture ego as the "hey, look at how awesome I am. Look at me. LOOK!!!" thing. You know, the lead singer thing. And this is something which generally bugs the hell out of me. It's one of the things which has turned me towards Indy music and away from any music from the mainstream. And it's not regulated to music; the increased prevalence of this attitude in the NFL is one of the reasons I abandoned the sport. This tasks me.

I like to think of my approach to music as being more workmanlike than anything. I know many won't believe this, but I don't play guitar in bands for my ego. Honestly. If I did, I would have to be the most delusional person in the world. I have, after all, played for empty rooms, and while doing so, the biggest thought I had was just how funny was the whole situation.

Playing was never an ego thing for me. While most of my friends would admit to picking up instruments to look cool or to get girls, that was never in my thoughts. I just wanted to be able to build something, to create something out of nothing, to be in charge of something over which I had full power. If my playing sucks, it's because of me. If I do well, it's because of me. Take autotune and other such abominations out of the equation, and music becomes a sort of meritocracy. Yeah, some people might have an easier time picking up an instrument, but those who work at it will become better. Work tends to level the playing field...and I like this, particularly as I've found it not to be the case in so many other elements of life.

Not picking up an instrument for ego might be believable, but it gets a bit harder to swallow when you make the move to live performance. If it's not for ego, then why would someone climb up on a stage and do this for the public? Why else would I invest my time and money I will never recoup to record an album if it wasn't to make myself feel more important? Truth is, there's always an element of commerce and public relations when you make the move from bedroom to stage, and it would be dishonest not to admit it.

This, I am beginning to realize, is where one's definition of ego comes into play. If ego is just the lusty adoption of lead singer behavior, then I would be right there with the punks in voicing my disdain. But in my solo career, I have to do a ton of this "pay attention to me" stuff as a matter of necessity. I have to do PR. I have to brand myself. I have to flyer. I have to banter. I have to schmooze. I have to ingratiate myself to bookers and bar owners. Yes, there are parts I actually enjoy (designing flyers, for instance, allows me to locate my inner visual artist). Much of it, however, makes me feel dirty...like an ego faker.

Which brings me back to the article. If singers are the ones who crave the spotlight but guitarists (as the article suggests) are more interested in nonchalantly building everything and holding it together...well, who's to say that ego lies in one side or another? And who's to say that desiring the role of public face is any cheaper than wanting to be the all-knowing creator? Is behind the scenes really more a morally pure position than out in front?

Is there really a distinction here? Are they divisible in the first place?

When I had my big mental breakdown of 2011, I had a very unhelpful session with a counselor. In prepping for the session, I tried to boil down all my anxieties about becoming a father, about failing in my attempted career as a professor, about the lackluster reception of my scholarship, all of this I tried to distill to its essence. The best I came up with was, "how am I supposed to continue, how am I supposed to raise and nurture a new life, when I've come to the realization that there is no justice in our lives, that hard work will not necessarily pay off, that we're all at the mercy of random, uncaring forces?"

The doctor had no answers for me. At the time, I suspected it was just because he was bad at his job...or just didn't like me enough to put in the effort. Now, though, I'm beginning to suspect that the lack of insight was really due to my own failure to properly judge the situation. I was mistaking lack of visible ego for moral purity. I was thinking that simply wanting something enough and sweating a lot in an effort to reach that goal would be enough. Is it possible, I'm beginning to wonder, that I failed because I lacked...ego?

Yeah, I wasn't an attention-grasping academic. But I'm beginning to think I failed ultimately because I wasn't egotistical enough to sculpt my work to the places where it might be well-received. Yeah, my lack of  ego made me not try to be an obnoxious bink. But it also stopped me from thinking strategically about my scholarship. It stopped me from promoting myself once I did figure out how to make something that everyone might want. I thought that if I followed my muse, fame and fortune would naturally follow. That, I think, was my downfall.

Now I'm beginning to realize that ego would've helped. As a musician, I've tried to find a niche my music can fill. Why didn't I do the same with my scholarship? I promote myself as a musician. Why didn't I do that as a thinker? Why didn't I realize that being unfocused and unstrategic was not being pure and honest to my muse...but was instead just setting myself up for insignificance? Ego would've helped.

I'm not saying if I would've had ego, everything would've worked out. Hell, I do all the self-promoting ego crap in my music career but still am relatively insignificant on the scene. But maybe I would've stood a better shot.

Maybe this means I need to be the new priest of ego. I must stop people from making my mistake of not thinking enough as an entity to be promoted. I will spread my new knowledge to the masses Ego, I will proclaim, is good. Ego, my inner Gordon Gekko yells, works. Ego for all!

Or is that too much lead singer-esque?

on expectations suddenly diminished

I'm a teacher. This means that I spent my Spring Break the way teachers normally do: getting caught up with grading. There were no vacations, no beach hijinks, no narrowly avoided arrests, nothing all that exciting. I looked after my kid and I graded. Still, I didn't actually get the grading caught up until last Tuesday....well after the break had ended. At least that was better than Fall semester, where my surgeries meant I was always two to three weeks behind.

My standard line to people, who asked about my Spring Break, was that I graded, but it was all worthwhile, because I was caught up...at least until Thursday (today), when I get three classes worth of assignments in. Yes, I'm fairly aware this is the "woe is me" routine. The thing is, when I got to lesson planning this morning, I found out I was wrong in my calculations and only had assignments coming in from one class rather than three. Now I'm faced with a relatively easy grading load which I should finish handily tomorrow afternoon. Now I won't have to stay in the study all weekend doing miserable work. Now I can actually enjoy time with my family.

I'm not sure how to take this.

long live the boob tube

We are living in the golden age of television. I've been saying this for quite some time. TV has, for some time, been a superior medium when compared to films. There's just so much better stuff being produced. Rather than bore you with my own ramblings on the subject, though, I'm just going to refer you to the article 5 Ways TV and Movies are Becoming the Same Thing (but TV is better).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ramifications of warrior culture

I quit watching football a while ago. So far, nothing has made me question that decision. Now, though, with the news that San Francisco plate Chris Borland is retiring after one year due to fears of brain injury, that decision is pretty strongly reaffirmed.

This Sports on Earth article on the possible ramifications of Borland's decision spells out the issue quite clearly. One of the most telling quotes:

" This is the problem for the NFL. The response is not to change the game itself; the response is to find people who do not understand that the game needs to be changed. It sees players -- humans -- as churn … as short-term investments, solely. It is pretending that everything is fine because the money is flowing so freely."

observations of an alcohol quitter

I am, for all intensive reasons, predominantly a non-drinker. Ever since my pseudo-gout (that I can have a gout-which-is-not-gout still cracks me up), I have cut out most all my drinking. I was never an alcoholic...but I was a drunk. I loved drinking. I unrepentantly drank to excess. I loved beer. I loved bars. But when one wakes up and it feels like someone has taken a sledgehammer to one's foot, alcohol becomes very expendable. When I heard it was also a kidney stone trigger, I was definitely out.

Don't get me wrong. I was not an "I will never touch another drop of alcohol again" quitter. I have, if the mood strikes me just right, ordered the occasional beer or cider...but that's kind of rare. I've even just went out to drink on a few occasions. But, for the most part, I'm pretty dry...and that leads to some interesting observations:
  • I'm more aware than ever that alcohol is a drug. It's a drug just like marijuana is a drug, like cocaine is a drug, like opiates are drugs. The only real difference is that, in our country, alcohol is sanctioned, while the others are not. As a result of this sanction, most people see it as just another product (albeit one which makes you feel funny). But no: drug city.
  • As a result of fully realizing alcohol is a drug, how our society sanctions this drug use becomes increasingly funny. A bar, for instance, is a specific place set aside for people to do a drug. Eating out is often accompanied by "and would you like a drug with that?" There are billboards, television ads, and celebrity endorsements for a recreational drug. Things I used to consider normal now seem really weird as a result of this observation.
  • This, as a result, makes the behavior of drug users seem quite strange. Many people order cheap beer, well liquor, or combinations thereof. These people now seem like "I just wanna get high and have no other concerns. Taste? Fun? Sorry...not interested." And we cater to these people! When vaporized alcohol becomes a serious thing, this tendency will increase.
  • As a musician, though, my main creative outlet is playing for people who come to a business to do drugs. Yeah, I could play the occasional coffee shop open mic session, but honestly, people don't really go to coffee shops to listen to music. There might not be much reward to playing in bars, but there's no tangible reward to playing in not-bars.
  • This makes me think interesting things about why people go to drug-oriented businesses to listen to music. Does that say something about the general public's desire for art? That they can't really handle watching art unless they're under the influence? Or is it just one of those mystery-of-capitalism things?
  • None of this, for the record, has made me anti-alcohol or anti-bar. If people are making themselves happy, more power to them...as long as they aren't hurting anyone else or themselves. 
  • If anything, thinking of alcohol as a drug makes me more supportive of drug legalization efforts. That we favor alcohol but say other drugs are bad is just kind of random. Hell, if I were emperor, I would legalize everything. Even battlefield and all...plus I wonder how different it would be playing a show in a meth bar or an LSD bar. Would a heroin bar be a better place to play than a valium bar? The mind boggles. Plus this would have the added benefit of undermining the industrial prison complex and the gung ho police, which would, for the record, be a good thing.
  • While I don't get people to hang out with me all that much anyway, when they do, I notice that, as I'm drinking, they tend to cut down on their own drinking. I've tried to make it plain that my desire to be sober shouldn't impact them at all, but inevitably, people who come out with me tend to drink less.
Intoxicating observations, eh?

shamrocks, stereotypes, and stupid behavior.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. A holiday...where one has to work. Wee.

When I was still drinking, we used to refer to this as "amateur day." It's largely used by the amateurs as an excuse to behave badly and do things which would normally just tick off everyone around them. In Bowling Green, the bars open at a responsible 5:30am, and students are drunk as early as seven. When I taught in town, we used to get warnings to just send drunk students home. One St. Patrick's Day, I was eating lunch at the local diner, and I heard these drunk undergrads in the next booth bragging about how one of them had already puked on the dance floor in one of the clubs. While this might be entertaining for children, as a true drinker, I never would've wanted to see it under the logic that being drunk isn't an excuse for being a jerk. Now I don't drink, my tolerance is even lower.

Critically, I can't help but think of today as Formerly Oppressed But Now Accepted White Person Identity Strategic Appropriation Day. Yeah, this is unwieldy, and I'm aware that even the acronym (FOBNAWPISAD) wouldn't even catch on. Depending on who you want to believe, my mother's side of the family might've come to England from Ireland. This means that I have as much if not more right to claim this identity than most of the revelers. Yet I still don't claim it today even though it might mean something for me...because I never claim it during the rest of the year. And even if I did claim it, all claiming to be Irish today really means is 1) wearing green, 2) drinking until one is five miles past excess, and 3) getting into fights. Sorry, but I'm not really in favor of negative stereotypes, even if in the service of a buzz.

Realistically, then, this is yet another holiday which has no real meaning to me...and it's not even as fun or as Freudian as Groundhog's Day. Some of my favorite bands are playing out tonight, so I might venture out later if I don't have band practice. My only hope would be that by then, all the idiots will have already worn themselves out.

Really, the only positive thing about this holiday is oddly colored fast food milkshakes.

Bah humbug.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

on branding and the humble kazoo

I played a show this Wednesday. Earlier that day, I got an unsolicited text from a former singer, who informed me that he would boycott any future performance which include me playing kazoo. It is, for the record, dismaying when one's art is not fully appreciated. Nevertheless, the major thing about which this got me thinking (other, that is, than this guy's obsessive grumpiness) was about branding.

Once you move from the couch to the stage, you automatically enter the great debate between commerce and art...whether you like it or not. Selling out really isn't the issue, as next to none of us make any measurable amount of money anyway. For Indy musicians at my stage, this mostly entails marketing and branding. Both of these are rife with problems...problems beyond not generally being the strongest suit of Indy musicians.

Marketing is a toughie. Flyers are a necessity (and a cool keepsake), but where to hang them? Around here, we've got the bar itself and not a whole lot of other places. Social media would seem to be an easy one, but Facebook only sends out like 10-15% of a band's posts. Screw getting a decent return rate if hardly anyone gets to see it in the first place. Zines are a no-go, as the aforementioned ineffective social media has already driven them out of business. And advertising in any other sense costs money, and that is something us Indy musicians don't tend to have.

This leaves branding. In story, this means, "how do I distinguish myself from the great swaths of musical humanity who also bash on guitars and wail depressing lyrics?" Talent, unfortunately, does very little to get anyone noticed. This is unfortunate yet still very true. Breaking out of the pack really means making one's self distinguishable in some way. It might only be a way to move from "I saw that guy who plays songs" to "I saw that guy who plays songs dedicated to antidepressant pharmaceutical manufacturers." And this might not seem like all that positive a move. Yet for some of us, it's all we've got.

My approach is to play to my main strength, namely that I'm a reasonably clever weirdo. This is the logic to the dedications to Zoloft's creators. This is the logic to my cool logo/sticker. This is the logic behind incorporating humor and interesting metaphors into my lyrics (an approach which surprisingly few songwriters use). And this is also the logic behind the kazoo. Yeah, I play it because I can't play harmonica. Yeah, I think a sonic change is good. But the main reason is that it's hard to forget a kazoo solo or the person who plays it.

Last Wednesday, I played an open mic night. Instead of the expected 4-5 songs, I got 8-9. I got a great response. People both clapped and "woo"ed. I got complements on my beard. At one point, I even had people singing along (to the chorus of The Isley Brothers's "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." And yes, I played my kazoo.

I played pretty good...and I think I gave the audience plenty of reasons to remember me. It didn't lead to any album sales, though, and what impact it will have on attendance at future gigs is uncertain. But what else, really, can I do?

Of course, I'm open to hearing other ideas on self-promotion. And if any of y'all want to rent me a billboard to advertise my next gig, well, I think my ego could take it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

time to be scared iii

I'd like to fully admit that my last few political posts have been just slightly paranoid. I won't bother to use the "a paranoid is merely someone in full possession of the facts line," but there is, in our current climate, plenty of reason to feed the fear. Never mind our congress actively trying to undermine talks with Iran. Today's thing that has me scared? Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina today announced that if he were elected, his first act would be to use the military to force congress to pass his agenda.

I am not, for the record, worried that Lindsey Graham will actually do this if elected president because, paranoid though I may be, I don't really think he's actually going to become president. What I am worried about, though, is that there will be people who will hear this and rush to the defense of this treasonous pinhead. After all, what has democracy and law ever done for us?


art of the day, 3/11/15

I love me some good recontextualization. Today's example is the art of Franco Brambilla, who takes 1970s postcards and adds sci-fi images. Brilliant.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


It is one of the greatest tragedies of my life that I have never had occasion to say, "it's nightfall...the beast approaches."

Monday, March 09, 2015

upcoming shows

I have a few shows coming up in the immediate future. First off, I will be playing a half-hour set at Hump Day Review this Wednesday. This is at Stone's Throw in Bowling Green. I should hit the stage at 9:30. I know that at the very least, I'll debut a new cover song. I might also have an original or two to world premier, but that all depends on how tomorrow goes.

I will be doing a show with my backing band The Antidepressants on Friday, March 27th. We are playing with two touring bands (Annabelle Black and Nuaudio), as well as Bowling Green's own Black Swamp Casket Company. This will be a fun one, because...well, it's at Howard's Club H, which is always fun.

But this will also be the second show and BG debut with my band. We're a power trio with horns (well, really trombone). It's definitely hard rock, but with a twist. During our last practice, my instructions to the rhythm section were "pretend that you're either a studio musician in Muscle Shoals or that you're a member of Booker T and the MGs. If you're heard what I do, then just imagine melding it with 60s R&B. Then you'd have a pretty good idea what to expect.

I also have one of my three hour solo performances coming up. I'll be playing again at Stone's Throw in Bowling Green. This one will be April 4th, and I'll be playing from 8-11. This one will have a mix of originals and cover songs. I've been learning an awful lot of new stuff for this. I'm expanding my cover repertoire to include more old-school R&B; not only is it very cool and danceable, it's also an utter blast to sing. I have also learned a few new weird cover songs from the 1980s. It's been way too long since I've done this kind of gig, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Of course, your support would be greatly appreciated at any of these shows. I do this for the love of the music, but knowing that someone else also appreciates what I do is unbelievable. I will, for the record, have copies of my album for sale at all future gigs.

a random universe and daughter

One of the unusual aspects of my life is that I'm home with my daughter more often than most fathers are able to be. This is an absolute blessing, but it isn't normal by any stretch...which makes my life a bit more surreal than in the past. This is compounded by the fact that my daughter is definitely my child in temperament, which generally manifests itself in two ways: she has a highly variable tolerance for cuteness, and she embraces randomness. This enriches and weirdens my life in many ways.

First, many people assume I'm a full time stay at home father. I would love this, but for whatever reason, my wife has yet to become the president of her university...so work, alas, is still my fate. But those who only know me casually can be astounded when they find out I in fact have a job. When me and my kid are out together, I know that filters the way people see me. I don't really care, to be honest...but it would be intellectually interesting to have more data on how that affects people's perceptions of yours truly.

I have noticed, however, that I have more cute females smile at me when I'm with my girl. It is important I never view this as an ego thing, however. They obviously smile at me because (1) my kid is indeed unbelievably cute, (2) it is a rarity seeing a father and daughter together in public...at least in the middle of a weekday, and (3) when I'm with my girl, I am clearly not a threat to any single female in the area.We went to our local coffee shop today. As expected, I got a large number of strangers (predominantly cute females) smiling at the two of us. I tried not to give it too much thought...I find this approach is better for my sanity.

After we had our snacks and looked at the kid books, she wanted to sit at the table with the built-in giant chess board and play. The first game was remarkable mostly for my daughter's flagrant disregard for the rules of piece movement. After a certain amount of time, she informed me that I lost and she won. I reset the board. This time, halfway through, I decided to adopt her disregard for the rules. My knights hung out together to tell stories...and then so did hers. My pawns started to dance...and then did hers. Then I decided to start stacking my rooks...so of course my daughter followed suit.  Game three entailed us moving our pieces at the same exact time. Game four was notable for my daughter's directions that we had to move more than one piece at a time. And of course, my kid's estimation, she won and I lost every single game.

When we left, I stopped at a gas station. After filling up my tank, I drove to the car wash behind the station. As it's March, it's finally time to wash a winter's worth of salt and road grime off my car. I explained the process to my daughter, who kept repeating, "I've never seen a car wash before." When the machine started, my daughter moved to saying "cool" and laughing. When we left, she told me she couldn't wait to see her Mommy and explain how car washes work.

There was no grand lesson from the day other than I enjoy my kid's company immensely...but I already knew that. Part of the fun is seeing the way she fits together experiences. There is no agenda, but even though she has a much narrower pool of experiences from which to compare and establish context, she still amazes me with some of the connections she makes. She moves from point to point in such interesting and wonderful ways, I feel myself a better person just for being with her.

Hey, maybe that's why the cute girls are smiling at me...

time to be scared ii

I've been in more than one argument about our surveillance state, where my opponent supports public surveillance cameras, has claimed "you only need to be scared of them if you're doing something wrong. This, in my mind, opens up the argument to hypotheticals, my favorite being, "what happens when the government wants you to install them in your house?" My opponents inevitably then claim it will never come to that.

One thing I know? Never say never. Because in England, the highest ranking police officer just suggested people install them in their houses. England, for those not in the know, has been miles ahead of America in terms of public surveillance. The town of King's Lynn even brags about  having the first public spying program in the country.

Undoubtedly, these can be used in very real ways to help in the fight against crime. My problem, however, is it's only a short leap to using these to serve private (rather than public) agendas. Also, I don't trust the security of their computer systems. Also, while I am in many aspects a liberal, I don't trust the government enough to say, "hey, feel free to record every aspect of my life!"

Again, don't make me agree with the libertarians.

time to be scared

The biggest nightmare right now is internet privacy and security. It's always been a good idea to be careful with one's online activities. There are, after all, a lot of creeps out there who will try to invade your privacy and steal your stuff. The saddest part nowadays, however, is that one of the most powerful perpetrators of privacy invasions is our own government, particularly the NSA. Now they want to not have to go to the trouble to, you know, follow the law.

Come on, y'all. Please don't make me agree with the libertarians.

Monday, March 02, 2015

breaking a cardinal rule

They say that you should never talk about religion or politics in public. Well, screw that, because this is my blog...and I'll alienate people if I want to.

I understand the desire to want to do away with tyranny. With our current government's support of spying, black ops, and drone death, I understand how someone might be worried about government as tyranny. Hell, there are some government projects that give me the heebey-jeebies. Drug testing is one of the biggest. In general, drug testing ends up being one of those things that succeeds in letting its supporters feel morally superior. It doesn't really accomplish a whole lot else. It, much like the TSA's airport security rules, is more theater of self-importance than practical in any way. Want more details? Then familiarize yourself with What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients. This shocks and upsets me on so many levels.

Personally, I tend to think big business is responsible for the removal of more liberty and rights than government. At the very least, they're the ones who are screwing me over more at the minute. The weirdest part is that many of the scariest government activities come from conservatives, who are supposed to be against government intrusion. The drug testing thing? Republican governors. The TSA and Patriot Act? Started under a GOP administration (although continued under our current president). The whole gay marriage ban movement? Again, this is from conservatives who are normally against government curtailing of rights. Hypocrites are fun, aren't they?

To be fair, not all those on the right support this kind of oversight/intrusion. Libertarians inevitably agree with my disdain for all the stuff mentioned so far in this post. Nice in theory. In practice, though, Libertarianism generally ends up being more about the freedom from responsibility than any other kind of freedom. This article Libertarianism is for petulant children is a bit harsh, but it's not all that wrong. Hell, I've seen people try to argue that even the FCC's net neutrality ruling was government tyranny.

Maybe it's just that some people want to complain. What we need is someone who can walk the line between the two sides. Keep us caring for each other, level the playing field, keep us safe, and then go the hell away. People like that don't seem to exist within politics, however.

Solutions welcomed.

programming note

A few weeks ago, I started doing a weekly post of cool links I've discovered in the past seven or so days. It seemed like a good idea. I've decided to cut it out, though. I've been accumulating way too many of them, and I find myself really wanting to talk a little bit about each. So no more Weekly Lynx. You're gonna get them whenever I can actually write them up.

Prepare for the deluge.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

birthday voyage

I was at my favorite bar last night. One of the many very cool bartenders and I were talking. I've known her for some time...she used to be the most abusive and coolest of the late night staff at the area diner. Partway through, she told me, "this cute guy who only comes into town a few times of year told me he thought I was about 32...so of course I got his number."

We laughed together for a few moments. I responded with the story of when another bartender told me she thought I was about 34, and I grabbed her shoulders for a very sincere yet overly dramatic "thank you!!!" Of course, this led to the inevitable "how old are you anyway?" I told her that she wore her age well, and she told me "you wear your age very well." I almost wanted to blush.

I've got a song which has the lyric "I still think of myself as a teen, but the world just won't agree...it only seems to notice the lines on my face." This is only half true (my songs are rarely autobiographical...or, for that matter, all that true); I do feel much younger (particularly mentally) than my physical age, but I've been hit with an onslaught of people who claim I definitely don't look my age. I don't understand this, but I'm okay with it nonetheless.

I was out last night because at 12:01am, it was my 44th birthday. I went out with a friend. For the first time in over three years, someone's wanted to celebrate with me. Actually, now I think of it, my 40th was the last birthday party I had. Maybe that's why people make such a big deal of 40...it marks the end of parties. Just a theory.

Anyway, I had a great time, and the only real reason i'm feeling older today is the stupid two week cold I'm battling.

I've spent the day curled up under a blanket, reading a World War II history. My daughter has been more excited about it being my birthday than I. Every so often, my phone will go off to let me know someone else has Facebook-wished me a birthday...which is cool, but I'd rather have them close so we can hang out. Other than that, not much has happened.

When I was younger, birthdays were monumental, an event. Not any more, though. Getting birthday brownies is cool, but it's a far cry from the parties in my past. I don't even think about gifts anymore...it's not that I don't want stuff, but the only things I want are way out of my financial bracket...which, now that I think of it, is pretty much the same thing.

Maybe that is the only real sign of getting older, that the landmarks get less important than the voyage itself. Maybe.

Birthdays are, however, still a great excuse to get a little drunk and listen to rock and roll.

(Blog post 800. Thanks for reading.)