Monday, April 30, 2012
Not too cold to stop putting our garden in. Yesterday we planted a couple extra tomatoes we got from a friend, to supplement those we already had in, and also put in a bunch of seeds - squash, beans, zucchini, melons. Also a hundred or so onions from a 'set' we purchased. I've got a few more melons and such to put in the ground today. Oh, we also got another blueberry and another raspberry, and, it turns out that a blackberry plant and a grape plant we put in last year survived when we had written them off. Bonus!
So I've been playing a lot of music, naturally, and I've got three or so new songs in the works. Not a lot of lyrics yet. I'm not sure what I want to write about. I forgot to mention on my post on songwriting the other day that sometimes the easiest lyrics flow when you write about some subject or thing or place or object, and do it objectively. Or you try to be objective, and just write a song about, oh I dunno...cars? Trains? Mountains? Those kinds of songs are much easier than "I have this feeling I can't name and I want to somehow express it." Also it is painfully easy to write songs about girls, hence why people come up to me after Genre Zero shows to say "I haven't heard anyone playing a bunch of love songs in a while". Some of my songs in that vein are pretty good, but, yeah...I want to write about something else. I haven't had a significant love interest in, gosh, years? I can still think of random girls I've met and imagine something to sing about...but, yeah...I think broader horizons would be better.
So have a happy Monday, blogosphere. I've got a bunch of stuff to do.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Unlike the song "Distance Fades" from yesterday, this understanding has not come to me intact. It is like the shadow of a whisper...barely there, if it even exists. Like all of the right words are out there somewhere, but I didn't hear them. Like God whispered the answer, but I just saw the slight change in the light as the fading air molecules floated away. I've stumbled onto some of the evidence, but I need to find the proof.
So I am going to meditate on all of this, listen closely so perhaps I may hear the echo as it bounces back from the faraway places I don't quite understand. I do understand this much - I have been a kind of monster these last few months, frightening everyone around me, pushing some of them away completely. Instead of feeling The Force flowing around me, allowing it to direct me where I needed to go, I tried to force things to flow the way I wanted. This past weekend I spent hours outside singing at the top of my lungs, as if I could just be loud enough, that would make everything clear, as if one could force people to understand when they don't want to listen. That is the dark side twisting things, selfishness distorting honest love and compassion, until the real message is lost, drowned out by blaring frustration and cloaked in obscuring fear.
But there is hope! I can feel the Anima Æternus...it is within reach.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Also, some good inspiration and motivation. Maybe for tomorrow?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
For today, I want to share some inspiring ideas that I've collected recently:
Monday, April 23, 2012
I made it!
Still, like I said on my "Last Day of Class" post, I am now entering a new and perhaps even more demanding phase of life: that of the working (hopefully) professional. It is till pretty bleak out there:
Friday, April 20, 2012
Late last summer, I started trying to put together a group of musicians to play one or two shows. My original idea was to find many different players of different instruments, who could play overlapping and intertwining melodies over some of my acoustic folk-type songs and some newer pieces I had written on the piano. I contacted an Alumnus of my college who I knew played drums, on the off chance that he might be willing to play with my temporary collection of random instruments.
What happened instead was that said drummer got on board completely, as did a fellow songwriter from the neighborhood, and a violinist (although I think she prefers 'fiddler'), and we instead developed a rocking sound that is most frequently described as "punk". I am so thankful to my band members for continuing to rock it out with me; music is what keeps me sane.
You can check out a recording of our first bar gig on SoundCloud. It is pretty decent, especially considering that we didn't intend to record, it just happened that the sound engineer at the bar records everyone that she runs sound for. Also, I am bad about getting pictures. This is the only one I have, from our first show at Peoples' Market, from a part of our set where it was just me and the fiddler:
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Now comes the hard part: finding an employer to hire me and a graduate program to accept me. I am confident that neither will be that big of a problem, but, I am also realistic and expect to have some rejections. I've already discovered the hard way that, unfortunately, I am not considered "Big-4 Accounting Firm" or "Goldman Sachs ultra-corporate" material. Nor do I have the grades to simply step into something awesome like the PhD programs at the local University - did you know that not only are they waiving 100% of tuition and fees for Doctoral Candidates, they are also paying them $20,000 a year? Crazy! But, alas, such heights are not for me I suppose...not yet.
Those worries are at least a little while further out the future, for now, so I'll focus on finishing those assignments, going to class for the last time, and studying for my finals. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
An article from the Department of Veterans Affairs
A write-up from a police officer suicide-awareness website
Some of the interesting facts from these articles:
*Despite being "trained killers", combat veterans (even those suffering from PTSD) are statistically much less likely to commit any violent crime than general laborers, construction workers, and gang members, who represent the three largest 'groups' to which violent offenders belong.
*As a group, Veterans are less likely to commit a murder than service workers and students.
*There is not a single piece of research to link PTSD to violent behavior; here is a quote from the second article:
"While anger and agitation are common symptoms of PTSD, these feelings tend to be turned inward, contributing to making it the terribly painful disorder it is. Combined with depression, it is not unusual for the sufferer to become suicidal. But a diagnosis of PTSD, in itself, does not make a person violent towards others. Again, the concern should be more that they will be a danger to themselves, not others."
*PTSD is primarily "fear" based, not "aggression" based. Put another way, the negative manifestations of PTSD are:
- Withdrawal / Isolation
- Emotional Numbing
Flashbacks, contrary to their portrayal in film, are not a psychotic break wherein the person loses touch with reality and believes they are back in combat or re-living their trauma. Flashbacks are much more subtle, and usually consist of a sense-memory (e.g. a smell or sound) that was present at the trauma unexpectedly intruding into the brain. Withdrawal and isolation are feelings of being distant or cut off from other people, be they close loved ones, or society in general. Here there again exists a big misconception, that this feeling of distance and disparity equates to viewing other people as 'the enemy'. Emotional numbing is not like the lack of remorse often equated with sociopaths; rather than feeling little or no empathy, the traumatized person feels too much, and will attempt to either avoid emotional situations entirely, to numb themselves with drugs or alcohol, or to choke their emotions down and ignore them. The traumatized person is not an unfeeling monster, they avoid feelings as a defense mechanism. Finally, hyper-arousal is a state of being constantly on guard, easily startled, tightly-wound...again, it is fear based. The person suffering from PTSD is on guard because they are afraid.
I think that as a generalized "class" or "group", traumatized veterans have much more in common with rape victims than with dangerous criminals. I am not saying that I am a victim; I chose to serve, and I volunteered for many dangerous missions. I am trying to say that my prolonged exposure to danger and my difficulties coping have led me to avoid violence and distress, not to seek it out. I am an even more peaceful person now, trying to diffuse anger and aggression, not create it.
To sum it all up, we veterans risked our lives to protect the ones we love. We gave up a part of our freedom, exposed our bodies and hearts to mortal peril, so that our fellows could live free and unafraid. Some of us never came home, and some of us that did are still struggling to understand and move past what we saw, what we did, what we lost. I would never presume to speak for all of my brothers and sisters in arms, but I served this nation and the Marine Corps with the highest virtue I could summon and the purest of intent, and I believe that my brother and sister Marines did the same. We believed in the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis, meaning 'always faithful'. I did not give so much to shield you all from harm, to keep your lives free of danger and fear, just to come back and be perceived as a source of danger and fear. I am not an aggressor - I have always been, and shall always remain, a faithful defender.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He become angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if only he manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?
Our actor is self-centered - ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays...Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?
Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes the hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some point in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt."
Monday, April 16, 2012
I've lost most of my interest in console and computer games. I played a few levels of Halo with Frog last week, and while it was still fun, it just seemed like a waste. Sure, maybe a new game would be exciting for a while, but I also don't want to get caught up in gaming all the time like some Mountain-Dew addled teenager. I played Starcraft II for several hours this weekend; that was pretty fun. However, I've gotten myself to the final level of the campaign and it is hard. Hell, even just playing against a computer opponent in a custom game is pretty rough on any difficulty but easy. I used to play Warcraft 3 online with my buddy Dustin, Sergeant in the Air Force. We would even play in team tournaments and stuff every weekend or so...fun times!
Of course, Dustin is married with a new child recently arrived (Congrats, buddy!). Maybe less gaming is a functioning of growing up and maturing? Naw, I don't think so. Maybe just shifting interests? I think it is intriguing how in less than the past five years, women have suddenly become the majority of gamers...rocking all kinds of games on their phones, i-Pads, etc. That is pretty cool...if I had such a digital device, I would most likely be playing those kinds of games a lot. Back in the day I got a PDA when I started going part-time the community college (this was, like, 12 years ago now), and I actually wore it out over about 8 months of playing its couple of card games constantly.
I prefer games that get played in person, even if it is just something like Poker. Of course, I can always dream that I'll either make some friends who are way into Warhammer 40k, or convert some of my existing friends "to the hobby". Actually, what is more likely is that I will find some new hobby that involves finely crafting tiny pieces of metal...
Friday, April 13, 2012
Having small versions of plants from outside being in the loft would be better than no plants, but, part of what is so cool about growing plants indoors is that you get to grow awesome plants that would never make it a varied and sometimes harsh climate like the one in SLC.
Plants are so cool! Exempli Gratia - I've seen a thirty or forty year old christmas cactus that had grown 3'-4' around, necessitating transplant into a big five gallon pot. Humans get old and feeble somewhat early in their lifespan, while many plants will only be growing and growing and gaining new strength all the time for most of their life, which can be thousands of years. Wow! Yeah, I like plants.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
memetic |mēˈmetik; mə-| adjective
ORIGIN 1970s: from Greek mimēma ‘that which is imitated,’ on the pattern of gene.
I saw "I can has cheezburger" years ago, looked at lots of silly internet pictures, and recently made my own. So the internet has infected my body like a genetic disease? "I've gone mimetic!"
Like I said, fantastical and ridiculous!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I live in the loft now.
Wait, what loft?
The loft I made!
Okay, so I didn't make it alone. The legendary Remodel Man of song worked it righteously, him doing most of it, and the loft is in Frog's attic who conceived of the crazy scheme to build a loft. I did a nice share of the work, though, and I am living in the loft now enjoying its many qualities!
I only have before pictures for now, so here is the story of the loft:
This is the very back corner of the attic space, which has become a 1/2 bathroom. I just noticed these photos all have dates, but it is the wrong date...This work happened a month or so ago. You can see where we've framed in a wall to separate the bathroom from the main loft.
The above picture is the view from the back of the loft. The camera is facing west, the bathroom is on the right.
If you walked towards the window from the back of the loft, you would be at the top of the stairs, with the view shown in this third picture. The floor in this picture is now cut away, vaulting the downstairs ceiling up to the loft. That small triangle space, that has a bundle of insulation and a pile of scraps in the corner? That is now a cool shelf space, to display regalia, memorabilia, art, and awesomeness.
This final picture is downstairs in the dining room. Those stairs now have a fine craftsman railing, and that ceiling is long gone. The dining room is the last room in the house to finish, although it won't be nearly as much work as putting in the loft.
It has been a huge job, causing me loads of stress, and it isn't over yet. Things have calmed down, though, and I am now lord of the upper realms...or something like that. I think what I am trying to say is that the loft is freakin' awesome, and I am a nerd, and now I totally have the space and facilities to nerd out completely.
Monday, April 9, 2012
While I do know a thing or two about death, I know a whole lot about taxes. I ending up taking the 'Personal Income Taxation' class at school twice; the first time through was my first semester after finishing junior college and while my test scores had me set to get a 'B' in the class, I slacked off on a final assignment which caused me to fail. So after a couple of years, I took the class again last semester and scored a solid A- and was regarded by my classmates as the student who best understood the complex issues and concepts of taxation.
So this semester, I signed up for the IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free tax return preparation service offered by the IRS to help so-called low income taxpayers to get their taxes done. I volunteered myself and was confirmed by my classmates as the 'Site Coordinator' for the VITA office we set up at our college. So while I have actually prepared the least number of returns out of all the students working in the office, I still probably have the best overall understanding of the myriad different deductions, credits, forms, and procedures involved in filing a tax return.
Now I need to get my own tax return filed. This is the last week our site will be open, and while I didn't have enough income in 2011 to have to file (oh the life of a starving student), I did have a good chunk of tax withheld that I will be able to get refunded.
So...I've got the taxes pretty well figured out...but this death business, well, I'm not so sure about that!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
While I don't exactly self-identify as a Christian, I definitely believe in the best of the Christian values: forgiveness, charity, aspiring to love thy neighbor as thyself, not coveting your fellow humans' stuff or spouse or accomplishments. As a lowly human, it can sure be difficult living up to those values, but I do try.
Who wouldn't want to live the virtues of a water-walking, sick-healing zombie? I mean that as a joke, hopefully not in too poor taste...I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the good things religion brings into this world, even if I don't subscribe to a particular belief system. Have a happy Easter, everyone!
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I still don't think anyone reads my blog, but that is fine. Unlike Facebook, I'm not making my posts here intending for them to be seen by people. This is much more focused on me, an outlet and place to put things for myself. I'll probably start posting regularly now, too!