Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Shortcuts

Believe it or not I have another off day(after a brutal 6a to 3p yesterday). Managed to get in a guitar lesson which is the first in 3 weeks. I'm making progress but it is becoming evident that I am going to have to get deeper into the musical theory than I thought. This is especially true since I am focusing on the blues which uses a lot of the fret board. The key to moving around on the fret board is using the different patterns of the pentatonic scale(for the most part) and maintaining the same key. I have the patterns pretty well nailed(it's not automatic as I have to think about it but it is coming along). My problem is that any given pattern of notes for the one of the "boxes" can be either major or minor and that drives where the next box starts and how you transition and what chords will harmonize. Today my teacher shared the trick of finding your way around in this mess. Major pinkie! In the first "box" the pinkie hits the last note of the scale and that note is the major key and the first finger hits the second to the last note of the scale and denotes the minor scale. Revelation! For example, the A major scale is the same as the F # minor scale. Since all the "boxes" share notes in the transitions you can figure where to go pretty easily. It will take practice and a lot of repetition but I think I have it now.

Well, that was boring for all you not trying to learn guitar so I won't go into how to play effective blues you have to learn how and when to mix major and minor and why you have to bring in notes that aren't even part of the scale at certain times. Exciting stuff no? I keep thinking that all these old time blues boys didn't know all this stuff but knew what sounded right then again maybe they did.

Do What You Can

I've been terribly busy lately and in one way that is a good thing. I have been too busy to dwell upon on the bad news, especially about the environment. The shit storm is heading for us fast. 2011 saw green house gas emissions reach its highest point in history. Closer measurement has shown that the worlds oceans are rising twice as fast as predicted and there is  more bad news after more bad news and no one seems to have any inclination to do anything about it.  Wait a minute you say...what about all the Priuses and the compact fluorescent bulbs, and CFC free hairspray and deodorant and stuff. It is there and it is helping but it is nothing compared to the sheer volume of greenhouse emissions coming from the U.S. and other developed and developing countries. Spend anytime reading around and you will be overwhelmed with the bad news...well it is bad news if you are mostly conscious which appears to leave a lot of people in this country out of the picture especially the so-called leadership. Happily, most of the folks who visit here seem to be in the minority in that they actually are aware of the humongous bag of crap that we are in and thus here is the message...

CHILL! Focus on your own universe. Take care of your own heart and mind and the hearts and minds of those around you. The news coming at those of us that are even marginally attuned to the rhythms of the universe is tragic and disheartening and is a sure-fire path to psycho-emotional burnout.  Each of us has limited energy and capacity. As much as our desire and compassion pulls us into the maelstrom of our planet's problems, sickness, torture, abuse, and pollution we must, at some point, pull back and resist. Even as we see the inevitable death of our earth happen before our eyes we must remind ourselves of our limits.  As much as we might desire the power to affect it, the karma of the universe is not ours to rectify. Our responsibility is to our own karma and to some extent the karma of those we are closet to and love. If you spread your energy too far afield and try to embrace the anger, suffering, violence and pain of our dying planet you will self destruct and in doing so fail to address what you actually have the power to control and that is yourself.

The hard truth is that if each of us did what is right, truly right, for ourselves and our loved ones. If each of us focused on the purity of our local universe and lives, the problems of our planet would solve themselves. We would make the correct decisions for our environment even if it meant foregoing some of the niceties of modern life. We would reject consumerism for what it is...disaster. We would reject the idea of war and with it would go the vast wasted resources that go with it. We would turn and recognize our Mother Earth as our partner instead of adversary and we would grasp our small bit of the web of life and make it whole and as each bit is healed the whole is healed.

Staying focused on what you can control and actually have the power to control is not easy. The distractions of modern life and cries of pain and suffering coming from the rest of the world and even from the planet itself are difficult to resist. We shouldn't ignore them but should put them in their proper place in our worldview. We shouldn't, however, allow them to pull us away from our focus on getting our own bit of the universe sorted. If we, by effort or chance, happen to get ourselves and our loved ones properly balanced and have energy to spare we can widen our boundaries and share our successes with the rest of the universe.

It is not selfish to center yourself on what you can control and make right and hope that the balance and correctness spread from your center.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back To Normal

Our UK friends left yesterday so it is back to normal around here. I finally have a day off and it is raining...what's new.
The tragedy in Bangladesh is big in the news and while it is the newest it is just the latest. There have been others and there will be more. A lot of people don't really think much about how they spend their money on things they actually need like clothes and food but you really should. Not just about whether it looks good or is a good price but where it came from. Every time you whip out the plastic or a handful of cash you are voting for the kind of world you want to live in. If you shop at Wal-Mart or other big discounter for clothes made in the sweatshops around the world you are voting yes on continuing the tragedies that will always come when dollars trump human life. Getting a bargain is no crime but every time you spend/vote you should consciously understand what you are doing. The same goes for the food you buy. If you knowingly buy products full of chemicals or from inhumane sources you are voting to continue the same. Every dollar is a vote and you have the choice of voting for the dark side or the light side.
We all need to stretch our money and make decisions about when and where to spend it but if we maintain an awareness of what we are voting for then the tendency will be to move in the right direction. We may forced by circumstances to buy the cheaper thing but the universe will know the right of it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Could Go Wrong?

In the continuing effort to enable our UK friends to enjoy their holiday in the US there will be a chili dinner tonight in attempt to wind down from the tryptophan laden meal yesterday (which was brilliant, if I do say so myself). Madam has invited our good friends (openly gay and very nice young ladies), a couple, long time friends who are staunch Republicans as well as Scientologists, a nice GOP/Libertarian couple (Yankees to boot) and of course our English friends and ourselves (me being the DFH, pinko, socialist, Buddhist, Wiccan at the table). What could go wrong? It will be interesting to say the least.

Speaking of interesting....I had two older gentleman check out in the garden center the other day and it was obvious as they approached that, as they say (weren't from around these parts), and were a couple. I also noted on their approach a French/English phrase book in their basket. I was so happy to be able to greet them in French and handle the transaction, even in my poor French, and they both seemed delighted to find someone who could manage a few phrases and questions in French. It made the hours I've spent brushing up on my French worthwhile. It really brightened my day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Still The Tour Guide

Between work days we are still hosting our friends from the UK. Yesterday was a matinee at the local theater of a Taffeta Christmas and then dinner at a newish restaurant here in Roswell, Table and Main. Very good meal but a little pricey. Couple of hundred clams for the four of us.

Today was a trek to Sweet Water Creek State Park for a hike along the trails to the ruins of the old Manchester Cotton Mill. About 3 and a half miles through the woods and along the rocky creek bank. Slightly overcast but shirtsleeve weather and a very nice walk. The Manchester Mill was burned, as was the Roswell Mill here in town, by Union troops as they captured Atlanta. Sherman wanted all such infrastructure destroyed. All the workers from here and there were put on trains and sent to Kentucky for the duration of the war with most never returning.

Tonight is steak on the grill night and tomorrow and the next day I have to work full shifts.Then, of course, is the traditional festival of gluttony known as Thanksgiving which I will do with all the standard stuff. Kosher brined turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, etc. etc. and don't forget the pumpkin pies.

Everyone have a great holiday if I don't get back to you here. One good thing is I don't have to work on Black Friday! Thanks Goddess!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wally World Is A Bad, Bad Place

Those of you that have been visiting here for anytime know how I feel about Wal-Mart. I don't shop there and discourage anyone I know from shopping there. They are a bad, bad company. There is a post up at Crooks and Liars that gives a glimpse of how bad they actually are.

For those of you who say that you have to shop at Wally World to take advantage of the low prices you should really take a hard look at how much the "low prices" and accompanying low wages actually cost you in increased taxes. Just sayin'.

Yeah, yeah I work part time for Home Depot which in a lot of ways isn't much different from Wal-Mart in their personnel practices. I'm in the same boat as the 1.4 million Wal-Mart workers in that I need the job for health insurance what I don't have in common is that I don't need the job to eat or keep a roof over my head.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Not Time Enough

House guests from the UK are here so free time to blog and such is very limited. Couple that with very nearly full time hours, at you know where, makes it especially difficult. So far we have had a dinner party Wednesday night for 8 (spaghetti with meat balls). Last night was a Mexican adventure with brisket tamales and chicken ancho chile tamales (from a local maker which are very good) and a new experience for the Brits. Even though I work 12p to 715p today I have baked cod and a local shrimp cocktail for starters on the plan. It will be a rush to get it done for a reasonable dinner hour.
On my shopping expedition this morning for the cod and shrimp to Whole Foods(AKA Harry's Farmers Market) I was surprised to see that they had New York strips for $7.99 a pound so that's the menu for some night in the near future.
The cut trees arrived yesterday at the HD so that nightmare will begin today. We will sell thousands before Xmas. Yesterdays shipment was only two trailer trucks so it is only the first of several. Lots of extra work involved.
Anyhow, just checking in here and now I have to try and get an hour's worth of guitar practice in before I head off to work. It is, however, a beautiful day to be in the garden center. About 60F for the high temperature and clear blue skies. Lovely!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank You

To all my veterans I want to say thank you for your service and sacrifice. I would also like to apologize for, in many cases, the lack of support you have received from your fellow citizens and government after doing your duty. While there is much progress there is still a lot to be done to make you whole. Nearly 17% of the homeless in this country are veterans and many find themselves in this situation due disabilities suffered as a result of their service. It is shameful and tragic.

I would add that I was very surprised that yesterday after a full shift at Home Depot and checking out hundreds of customer that, in spite of the prominent patch on my apron that denotes that I am a veteran, not one person thanked me for my service. While that may sound prideful and I guess in a way it is as I am proud of my 8 years in uniform, it is really indicative of how many seem to take our service for granted. What is really shameful is that these are the very same people who will be the first to shout out in protest over any perceived denigration of their rights that so many have sacrificed to preserve.

Anyhow, if you happen to know or meet a veteran today make a point to thank them for their service.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Quiet, Too Quiet

I know it has been a little quiet around these parts lately and I have no excuse but too say I need some sleep and down time. I'm working almost a full time schedule(not enough to force them to offer me full time benefits, of course) but way more than I would like. Couple this with my workout schedule, guitar practice and lessons and getting ready for an extended visit from our UK friends and I just seem to be running out of time.
Anyhow, I have the day off today before I have to work the entire weekend and our friends arrive on Monday evening and there is still stuff to do. I am off to the gym and then tackle my list of chores.

Creeping Socialism

It is absolutely hilarious to read about all these people that are so upset about the reelection of our Kenyan, socialist, Muslim president that they are threatening to move to Canada or Australia. Boy are they going to be in for a shock if they ever grow enough to actually do it.


Another word for sour grapes. I worked yesterday and I couldn't count the number of people that I checked out that had some disgruntled comment about the election...a lot of pissed off people. I just smiled as I have found out it is best to just let them simmer. I don't like to upset their fragile alternate reality so I don't mention how much better things are now than when President Obama took office. They wouldn't listen anyway.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Not Too Bad

Madam and I were at the polls before they opened but so were a lot of other people. Still it only took a little over an hour to get it done. The big snag was getting your ID verified before issuing a ballot. There were always a few free machines available but the line for verification snaked all around. Best guess was that 75% of the time to vote was spent getting verified.

Cold and rainy here in the Northern Atlanta burbs today but it doesn't appear to be stopping people from getting out. Beside my vote for The President and against Tom Price I voted no on Amendment 1 which would create a state commission to create charter schools. The millions of dollars of outside money that poured into the state to support it was enough for me to be against it. To spend that kind of money means somebody thinks that they will make a lot more if they can water down the public education system with charter schools.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Almost Over

Well, I missed the early voting here in my county mainly because the lone voting place offered is very inconvenient and the last time Madam and I voted early it was a very painful process that required hours and hours. My actual polling place is just around the corner and if it weren't for the trees I could see it and there is actually a polling place next door but mine is 500 yards further. I'll get there for the opening and hopefully get out quickly as I have to be at work at noon.

No surprises when it comes to my choices though I am excited to vote against the Mittster and even more so against Tom Price. Voting here in the deeply red state of Georgia is frustrating but I persevere. It does make one feel, somehow, a bit proud to know you are probably the only one in line at the polls to be voting for Obama and against Price.

If you, as I, haven't voted yet please go out and vote for Obama and against the GOP slimeball in your local district.