Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Matter, Life, And The Pitiful Human Ego

Hey, I Think I See Me

Matter as we know it consists of atoms – arranged in certain ways so that they make up forms – rocks, rivers, stars, puppies, humans, and everything in between.  I don’t really see life as having a beginning and end, I only see the rearranging of matter.  Example:  Your pet hamster dies, you bury it in the back yard, and sometime over the next few years, the atoms that formed that little piece of life will be used for something else – a flower to bloom, a worm to have lunch, or a raindrop to form.  For me, “Life” is just a label that we put on our time in the current state of existence.  I guess all animate life has an ego, it wants to perpetuate its genes, reproduce, and some go so far as to desire eternal life in its immediate form.  I don’t know that a pebble wants to live forever, being that I cannot communicate with it, or see its body language or mannerisms, but my guess is that on some level, as with all matter, it wants to continue in its current state, it wants to continue being a pebble.  Other life forms are more obvious – a tree puts out spores or seeds, a dinosaur finds a mate and hatches little dinosaurs (well, they did until their life form ceased to exist for whatever reason) and humans and cockroaches make babies faster than we can count.  I believe that all life forms – both animate and inanimate - meaning everything that is made up of atoms – has the desire to live - or continue in its current state of being.  The human, having the spec of intelligence and ability to reason that it does, has an overinflated ego as one of its peripheral properties – causing it to want to live on forever, to produce as many offspring as possible, and to continue to dominate and pathologically control the world it lives in.  Some of us are constantly looking for other worlds, other planets that might be able to sustain human life, or possibly be manipulated into doing so.  Some of the places are geographically light years away.  I believe that the rearranging of atoms is a natural cycle that will happen, no matter what any life form wishes – no matter how much we fight it, try to prevent it, or try to deny it.  There will come a time when there will no longer be a human race, cockroaches, Earth, sun, or even our mighty galaxy.  I believe that this cycle is somehow built in at the atomic, or even the sub atomic level – as is gravity, magnetism, and other phenomenon that we may or may not understand.
Ok, now here’s something I’ve not heard in any documentaries, or printed media, that I need to talk about.  If nothing external comes along and makes the earth uninhabitable by humans, then our gene pool will eventually deteriorate, and we will be gone.  The “Gene pool will deteriorate?”, you ask.  Well, yes, this is common knowledge and is proven by every instance of incest that occurs in the world as we know it.  There are certain areas of our planet that were and/or have been isolated for so many years that the local population either disappeared or was severely damaged.  At some point we will all be marrying our cousins, brothers, and sisters, it’s inevitable.  It is, of course, possible that before that time comes, the planet will be rendered uninhabitable by life as we know it – by some external force – a giant asteroid, a freak explosion on the sun, or even the human race having polluted the planet to the point where life can no longer exist, or, the earth raging against and destroying the virus known as the human race.

It’s also possible that a new, more intelligent life form may appear.  If so, being that it is not possible for a human to mate with an ape and reproduce, it stands to reason that if there are any humans still in existence if or when a new life form appears, that it will not be possible for us to mate with that life form either – in fact, we probably won’t even be able to communicate with it – that’s again of course, if any humans even still exist.

What is this stuff about the universe constantly expanding?  There’s also the theory that the galaxies are closing in on each other?  So, which is it, and how can anyone know these things?  I guess they don’t, they are nothing more than unproven theories.  I don’t know that there is an end to the universe – either timewise or spacewise.  We’re too puny to know such a thing, or to even venture a guess.  This brings me back to the human ego, which again, causes many of us want to live forever, some to pass on their genes in hopes that their family line can be perpetuated till infinity, and to have the need to control anybody and anything in its line of sight.  Many of us think that we should defy nature, alter our genes, invade other worlds, carry on in our current state till the end of time (that’s of course, a figure of speech).  Lucky for the universe that it has the built in atomic map, where the elements feel the need to spread out and do other things – build other worlds, become other forms of life.  Maybe they do the same as we do – they simply get bored after a few million years or so, and need to move on.  Whatever the case, nothing stays as it is indefinitely, there will come a time when human, earth, and sun will disintegrate, and its building blocks will be blasted into deep space.  It will land somewhere, congregate somewhere, and new worlds and life forms will be created.
When it’s my time to contribute my little atomic legos to the universe, so that they may become something else, I will welcome it; I mean hell, I’m 57, and I’m bored now, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like when I’m 70 or beyond.
So, folks, if I have any advice to offer, it’s to get over yourselves.  We are just passing through, we are nothing more than atoms arranged in a particular way to make us what we are, and at some point in time, the giant atomic transporter will break us down and rearrange our particles somewhere else.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t value our lives, and make the best of the time that we are here, I’m only saying we need to be reasonable, and not be so damn selfish.
See y’all on the next plane (of existence).

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The Circle Of Cool

The Epitome Of Pitiful And Desperate

Somebody said that “Eurolights” were cool.  There seems to be an invisible source somewhere in Europe that dictates clothing fashion.  Another invisible source says that it’s cool to take a midsized foreign car, put “low profile” tires on it, a sound chamber on the exhaust system that makes it sound like it had too many kidney beans for breakfast, and race around like a two year old having a conniption.  Another says it’s cool to grow a goatee and shave your head.  The invisible Mr. Self Expression says to deface your body with tattoos and piercings.  “Shades” became the “in thing” to do as far back as the 50s.  If you want to be part of a particular group of wannabes, you must listen to the accepted style or genre of music.

Where does all this come from?  We all understand that a teenager might crave being one of the cool guys or girls.  It becomes more and more pitiful when I see 30, 40, 50, and yes, even 60+ year old guys with shaved heads, goatees, earrings, tattoos, sports cars (which, the older one gets, the more difficult it becomes to get in and out of), and/or those ridiculous trucks with huge tires and lift kits – also difficult to get in and out of.  More and more of us are hearing this new language where most people over the age of 35 have no idea of what’s being said.  How is it that so many people are so desperate to be cool and hip?
“Self Expression” is a good thing, but one would think that a person would want to display individualism, as opposed to walking, talking, dressing, and behaving like millions of other people.  There are stereotypes that are everywhere.  The most common seems to be the goatee – sometimes along with it goes the shaved head, other times it’s the earrings, there’s the cowboy hat, and almost always, such pitiful little men love those big trucks with big tires and lift kits – there are some great names for these silly looking monstrosities, but we’ll talk about that another time.  Anyone who has been in a sports bar will have seen hundreds of goatee bearing guys – with the team jackets and baseball caps – many times the caps on backwards or sideways, and, with any play that may call for it, every guy in the place will feel the need to throw his fists up into the air in desperate need of being seen and heard, while simultaneously Randy Savaging (yes, this started way back then) his most macho, WWF sounding, “YEEEAHHHH!!!”.  In the same sports bars, we’ve all seen the flat screens mounted every ten feet with the Cagefighting/MMA/Ultimate Fighting guys – all pretty much looking and acting the same – goatees, shaved heads, the most macho, WWF sounding voices they can muster up, fists in the air, eyes bugged out.  As if that’s not bad enough, there are today’s baseball players – goatees, spitting, grabbing themselves, and too cool to even do a full windup – when did that start?  Back in the 50s and 60s, kids wanted to be able to throw like Sandy Koufax or Juan Marichal, or field and hit like Willie Mays, and there were no pretentious acts to follow.  Most of us wanted to be gentlemen and good sportsmen, to go along with being a great athlete.  I guess I don’t need to tell you that it’s very different in today’s world.
We have the same horrid condition when it comes to music – you must listen to a certain kind of music if you want to be accepted by a certain group of people.  In the Rap & Hip Hop circle, it’s the kids – 30 and under – who seem to grandly enjoy the profanity and hate filled tirades.  “Dance Music” – I’m not sure, it seems to be universal – all ages seem to be susceptible to it.  “New Country”, it appears that most of this crowd consists of leftovers from the Disco days.  In England, the universal, computer generated sound that pumps through any and all sound systems in the pubs is “Techno”, which mostly sounds like Disco on steroids.  Any song that makes it to the airwaves here in the States will have a British remix to send across the pond – using the lead vocal track, but with the techno sounding backing tracks to accommodate the British sound.
As with most things in today’s world, it’s all about money.  I don’t believe there are any European fashion gurus who magically know fashion any better than anyone else, and I’ve never seen anything resembling a “Eurolight” on any European car.  Music companies and major radio stations all have their Public Relations and Advertising departments (mentioning no names but its initials are BILLBOARD MAGAZINE) – where they generate the endless barrage of “If you’re not listening to this or that, then you’re behind the times, you are not cool, you have no reason to live, etc.”.  “Music” companies generate billions of dollars a year, putting out “music” that most of the listeners and buyers forget about in a few months.
In the Sports World, Major league baseball, MMA/Whatever Other Names This Boring Style Of Wrestling Goes By, NFL players, NBA basketball players, NASCAR drivers, maybe someday they will want to set a good example for youngsters – as the old timers did.  Yeah, I know, when pigs fly.  Maybe someday Rock Stars and/or Rap Stars will be something for a kid to want to admire and emulate.  In your dreams, suckah.
Until the day comes when people feel the need to be true to themselves, to listen with their own ears, see with their own eyes, and feel with their own hearts, we will have no choice but to be on the receiving end of the hip, the cool, and the wannabes – their hostility, their aggression, and their offensive behavior.  In the meantime, house up on a mountain, birds, squirrels, and mountain lions to talk to – sounds real good.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Blueprint Of Life

“My god can beat up your god”, “If you don’t believe as I do, you’re going to hell”, “Thank god for sparing me from the explosion that just killed a bunch of other people”.  It amazes me beyond all that so many people can spit up such crap.

My belief is that the blueprint of life is down there at the sub atomic level.  Atoms attract to each other to build life forms – both animate and inanimate (as we puny humans recognize it).  When atoms are floating around out there in space, they find each other, they first build a ball of gas, then it spits out tiny particles that form planets.  A few million years of this, then life forms – single cell organisms, bugs, animals, and humans.  We here on this planet don’t have any way of knowing what comes after humans, but I’m sure there will be more species to be spawned – hopefully they will be smarter than the ignorant, self destructive human race.  I don’t believe there is any such thing as fate, or any kind of pre planned life – life happens as it happens – randomly and without any real purpose.  We have our inborn self preservation mechanism, and the need to reproduce, and some of us actually contribute something worthwhile, but most humans don’t care one spec about doing anything good for the world – it’s take, take, take, gimme, gimme, gimme.
Energy is present in all atoms, and all life forms.  When I talk about life forms, I mean every bit of matter – as it all has an energy force, which from where I sit, is life.  Relative to what other life forms are closest to other life forms, the direction of energy flows mostly and generally in the same direction.  There are rare exceptions, where one life form’s energy flow goes in the opposite direction of most other life forms.  The result is that said life form seems to rub other life forms the wrong way – repelling other life forms as we recognize it.  I don’t have all the answers, but I’m sure it’s a little more complicated than that.  Using my own life from as an example, it appears that my energy flow is one of those that goes in the opposite direction.  I rub most people the wrong way, most situations seem to be working against me, but, strangely enough, major life threatening things seem to elude me.  I don’t function well in society as we know it, and I don’t take my own life all that seriously.  What I mean by that is, when it’s my time for this life form to end, I won’t object, and I certainly won’t be sad about it.  To take it a step further, if or when the time should come where my quality of life doesn’t suit me, I will voluntarily end my own life.  Not to worry, I’ve never felt the need to take any life forms with me should that time come – I only care to decide what to do with my own.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Time At The Banjo Hangout

I’ll subtitle this, “Pathetic Little Men, Part 3”. Not the picture, not the picture :D .
The Banjo Hangout is an internet message board, relating to all things banjo. I don’t remember the exact date, or even year I joined, but I’ve been there for 3 or 4 years. I’ve tried posting there 3 or 4 times, and each time, I encountered the same things. On all internet message boards, there are the guys who do the usual bullying, insulting, and sometimes threatening, and filthy namecalling. What happened at the Banjo Hangout each time was, I would post an idea, belief, or opinion, only to have one or more guys come after me with their smartass remarks, cheap insults, and ultimately, having my posts deleted, and this last time, being locked out of the message board.  One of my shortcomings is that I let myself get sucked into arguments with dimwits :D .
It all started in a “thread” where a player was asking what the proper use of a tuner was. Some replied with such self serving answers as, “The electronic tuner has become a crutch for too many pickers”, “I'm a tune by ear kinda guy… I can just tell when its flat or sharp…” I tuned totally by ear for 20 years”, “If your ear isn't good enough or "trained" enough to tune, use a tuner”,“I'll ask someone for a middle G, then I'll go from there”, and many other similar posts. I replied, starting with this, “Wow, the ironies, inconsistencies, physical impossibilities, and half truths can be one step short of hilarious”. You can see the whole exchange here: - that's if it's still there.
Here, cut and pasted, are some of what I see as smartass comments: “That first statement is incredulous”, “That second statement is,well, wrong”, “its quite normal for banjos to go out of tune”, “Oh well, hopefully you'll see that at some point and stop this ridiculous attempt to turn this into something ugly”, “I do not think you are trying to 'help' anyone here”, “give this nonsense a rest”, “you are the one call folks 'arses' and other things” (totally not true, I never called anybody anything, you can see for yourself at the link), “Here's the O.P.s original post. So tell me what these statements have to do with it Fid?”, “but simply seek to put your situation on a pedestal”, “instead of simply answering this you continue to rant about me”. He also said several times, "I'm gonna call you on this, I'm gonna call you on that",  trying desperately to establish some kind of superiority. These are all from one guy, who uses the screen name, “Banjophobic”, and this is from one “thread” (a topic where people post their replies). This continued on two other “threads”. After having 8 or 10 of this guy’s friends come to his defense – with more similar smartass comments, I got locked out of the message board, meaning I cannot post there anymore. After a few of Banjophobic’s friends added their cheap insults, the owner of the site, Eric Schlange, posted this: “This thread proves that "Ignorance is bliss."(On a side note, it may also get your account locked.) You get what you give, folks. I’ve said many times, censorship is for cowards, and so is gloating. While it’s annoying to see this stuff – especially when I’m on the receiving end of it, the good thing is, I was able to make my points, and the exchanges spoke for themselves. I realize that some will be ok with my ways and my points, and others won’t. My problem is when moderators step in and come to the rescue of their friends – using their power to delete my posts, and lock me out of the message board. From where I sit, this is cowardly behavior. I guess to make it even worse, this kind of thing seems to be more rampant today than ever before – both on the internet, and in non internet life. Most people cannot debate. As soon as they see a person make a point they do not like or agree with, instead of stating their case, they immediately start with the smartass, the cheap insults, and so on. It always amazes me that moderators will practice buddyism, not caring that it’s more often than not, their friends doing the instigating – and yes, it DOES matter who starts it.

This guy, Banjophobic, is one of those guys who, whenever a question is presented at the message board, will be one of the first to answer, professing to know it all. Some of his information is adequate, other times it's just silly. He's been there for years, and has thousands of posts.  He also has hundreds of sound files of himself playing. He claims he's been playing for more than 30 years, but he is, at best, a mediocre player, and I guess that enrages him. What I believe happened with me is that after a few people posted about tuning often, I posted that if a player is tuning all the time, that there's something wrong with the banjo - either a setup problem, or a "crappy" banjo - meaning a cheaply made one. I also agreed with a couple of posters who said constant tuning could be a nervous habit.  He apparently didn't like my postings, and likely resented that I may have known something he didn't.  This is when he started his smartass remarks, mocking, and ridiculing. I don't know how many times I've said this, but, my belief is, if you cannot debate a person straight up, then you should keep your mouth shut. I guess that's an oxymoron, because when a guy's ego is what drives him, he will never do anything straight up - he will pretend, lie, sling cheap insluts, profess, boast, manipulate, and gloat.
There's a saying, I don't hear it much anymore, but I've learned that it's very true.  It goes like this, "Birds of a feather flock together".  Translated, means that people with similar personalities stick together, and, they will defend each other, unless of course they engage in arguments among themselves.  One of the things I've noticed about internet forums is that most of the people who spend lots of time there are usually very angry, they have the self loathing syndrome, they are know-it-alls, and they are bullies.  This includes the so called moderators.  I did, at different times, go to a few other message boards looking for information.  One was a Beatles site, one was a site to ask technical questions about building a blog, and one was a site to ask technical questions about digital multi track recording.  I experienced precisely the same thing at those sites as I did at Eric Schlange's Banjo Hangout - smartasses, know-it-alls, and bullies.  I guess therein lies the problem with internet forums :D .
There is one glaring fact that I managed to post at the Banjo Hangout before I got locked out. It’s the fact that there are 77,000+ (that’s seventy seven THOUSAND) registered members, while only a small handful are posting – less than a hundred – and that’s a high estimate. My educated guess is that many players and/or banjo enthusiasts have registered, experienced the same thing as I did, and never went back. Of course, I’m sure some had only a question or two, and others have busy lives, but from 77,000 down to less than a hundred is a huge drop.
I go there and read, because even though the ownership and management are small people, I learn some things there, and some of it is just amusing. I will, though, be back to my busy schedule in a couple of weeks, so I won’t have much time to be on the internet (and that’s a good thing). I have lots of recording to do, and lots of practicing. There are also lots of places to play live in Forth Worth, so I’ll probably be working fairly regularly. I don’t want to work more than a night or two a week, I need my energy and time for recording – can’t wait.

Added on 5/23:  I haven't been to the Banjo Hangout since a few days after I was locked out, I guess I just lost interest.  I do, though, see that 60+ people have read this article today - most of whom, I'm assuming, are from said Banjo Hangout.

Added on 5/27:  I see somebody viewed another post of mine regarding the Banjo Hangout, dated July 6, 2012, just about a year ago; I'd forgotten all about this one, you can see it here: .

Added on 1/21/2014:  As I continue to spend 2 - 4 hours a day, at least 2 days a week, playing my banjo, I continue to notice that I rarely have to tune.  I check it before each sitting, and I will go for weeks before having to tune even one string.  The only exception is the couple of times when I went to Rancho San Rafael Park when it was about 45 degrees - I had to tune shortly after I got there - then again the next time I played at home.  I wonder how numbskulls like Banjophobic figure he can "Call somebody on this, call somebody on that" when he's nowhere where he can disprove anything.  Envy, plain and simple - and envy only lives in the small and the pathetic :D .

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My Nashville Trip

Guess I failed to tell about my little trip to Nashville.
There wasn’t much to it. In short, personal problems flew in out of left field and said, “Uh uh uh uh uh, you’re not doing that, who the hell do you think you are?”. So, right in the middle of all this, my son contacted me, asked me to move to where he is– Fort Worth, Texas. So, that was by far the best option. I moved there, but had to come back here to Reno to tie up a few loose ends, as it turns out, I’m spending five weeks here, then back to Fort Worth. I enjoyed immensely, the two months of being near my son. I was also able to spend some time with my banjo – and to my surprise, I made a good amount of progress.
I don’t think I missed out on anything by leaving Nashville. I made it out once to the downtown area, and once to the Bluebird CafĂ©, nothing earth shattering happened, so again, I don’t feel bad about leaving Nashville. Sure, would have been nice to do more exploring, but didn't happen.
I do have lots to do once I get back to Forth Worth. I have my bluegrass/folk CD to start recording. College Radio, Sirius Radio, and Pandora Radio seems to be in place to help independent artists like me, so we'll see how that goes. I look forward very much to starting my recording, in fact, can't wait.
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