Monday, January 31, 2005

The Little Surprises in Life!

Like it when the unexpected happens? And it makes your whole day? Even if it's just a little thing? It happened to me today!! Jury duty (see one of my first posts!) paid off--I got $12 for my time! Yay!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Dangerous Crackpots

I'm a little surprised at myself for even mentioning this, because I'm usually pretty laid back about what goes on in the world. I suppose I should be more opinionated on things. There are so many sad, ridiculous people in the world who think that their beliefs/thoughts/actions are the only beliefs/thoughts/actions that are "right". And they'll do anything to get their word out. I'm not talking huge, geo-political ideologies here. I'm talking about very small groups of people who can get the masses so riled up that they end up making a name for themselves. Unfortunately, most of these groups beliefs/thoughts/actions are based only on hate (often times stoked by a keg or two of Bud Light). Being a lifelong Montana resident, it's painful to say that there's a couple of groups like this who also call Montana home.

So why do I mention this? Helena (and Missoula) will be getting a visit from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS on Feb. 13th & 14th. For those of you who have never heard of them, I suggest you check out their site. If you note their URL, you'll get a good idea of what they're all about. But only go there if you think you can stomach it, or have a sense of humor that will allow you to laugh at what you read. There's no ugly pictures, but some of the most vile, hateful thoughts ever put on a website. And they've been around for years. Which is the scary part. I'm guessing that I'll probably have more to say on the matter after they've been in town. I'll keep you posted.

Beethoven/Shostakovich (gesundheit!)

Part of the reason I haven't been back since Thursday is because I've been in the midst of Hell Week. In this case, it's the week immediately prior to the symphony's performance. That means alot of staff meetings, and generally giving up any outside life (not that I have one to begin with) for the week. Since we have a concert almost once a month, that allows me alot of Hell Weeks during the year. As the personnel manager, I have to deal with all the petty, and not-so-petty, concerns of the musicians. I swear, some of these people are SO clueless! I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that there are some amazingly ignorant people out there. And I get to deal with that ignorance for each concert. It came to a bit of a head Friday night when I had a minor heated exchange with another staff person. She, of course, has to deal with the same people, so she was also frustrated. There were no punches thrown (though I could have taken her down, if it came to that!), and things are fine, but we both somewhat resented coming to that point, due to other's actions (or inactions, as it were). The one thing about Hell Week is that when it's over, it's a great relief. And so far, everything has worked out, and the concerts have been wonderful, and no one is any the wiser about the hassles going into it.

So how was last night? Great, of course! And exhausting. Beethoven's 5th Symphony (which you've all heard a part of at one time or another) doesn't involve trombones until the last movement. Or in other words, you have to sit there in front of 1500 people and not draw attention to yourself while the rest of the orchestra is playing. Being in the back row also means that you're sitting on risers above the rest of the orchestra in front of you, so every little thing you do can be seen. That means no talking, no nose picking, no crotch scratching, no napping, no slouching, no yawning, no .... Well, you get the idea. Often times you put yourself into a meditative state. Or catatonic state. And after sitting still for 30 minutes or so, you're expected to pick up your horn, and WITHOUT WARMING UP, start playing perfectly. It's a challenge, but those of us in the back row are used to it! But I will say that sitting on your ass doing nothing and trying to look involved is very exhausting! Beethoven would have liked what he heard last night, if he weren't deaf and already dead...

The Shostakovich 12th Symphony, on the other hand, is not as well known. If you were to make a movie about pre-Lenin Russia, this would be the soundtrack to it. Very dark, very unrelenting, somewhat like a like a Communist Steamroller (not to be confused with Mannheim Steamroller) crushing the peasant uprising. Forty minutes of driving, loud, pulsing sound. I swear to God, the tuba player split his lower lip within the first 3 minutes. Blood all over his mouthpiece, and down his chin. It was OK for the night, but after it starts healing, he won't be able to play for a day or two. It was that loud. And sustained. The entire brass section was doing deep breathing exercises before playing, just to expand lung capacity. And it wasn't enough. Fortunately, there's a softer section or two to regain your senses, but then it all starts up again.

But we pulled it off. We got standing ovations after each symphony, and that's always good to see. Not one of those "my butt's numb, I need to stand"-types, or the "oh, everyone else is standing, I should too"-types. Both times it was more of the "jump to your feet after someone makes a basket from mid-court at the buzzer"-type of standing ovation. This was a good performance last night. Very satisfying. And tiring. I don't have to deal with Hell Week again for about 3 weeks, which means now I can spend some time with you!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Well, heck....

Even though I'm fairly new to the blogging experience, tonight I've come up with my first case of blogger's block (say THAT ten times fast!). I can't think of anything to write. I'm not able to put out in my normal way. I feel somehow inadequate. I've never had this problem. I know that my readers don't mind--"it happens to everyone" at some time or another, BUT IT'S NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. Maybe it's the stress. Maybe I'm trying too hard. Maybe I'm thinking too hard about bad experiences in the past. Maybe I've been doing it too much over the past week. Or maybe I'm just tired. I suppose I could take one of those pills they advertise on TV, but then I run the risk of being up for 4 hours, then I'd have to call a doctor....

I'm just afraid of what is going through your mind. I don't want your pity. I don't want you to say it's alright and that you understand. I've heard of this happening to other guys and they get laughed at. Hopefully that's not going to happen here. I'd like to think that our relationship is stronger than that. I guess the only thing to do now is to try to fall asleep and not think about it. Yeah, right.

No, I think the better thing to do is to not try again for a couple of days. Yeah, that's the answer. I'll be a new man! And no alcohol to screw things up. Come back strong after a couple of days and be primed and pumped and ready to go! By golly. that's what I'll do! I'll be back on Sunday. Until then...

Six Types of Bloggers

In spite of my prior comments about not spending a great deal of time checking out blogs, I find that I DO like to hit that little button in the upper right corner that says "NEXT BLOG>>". The randomness is wonderful, and I've done it enough to determine that there are six basic types of bloggers. Here they are in no particular order:

  • THE TEENAGER--By far, one of the largest groups out there. These people shouldn't be allowed near a computer. If their parents read this stuff, they'd blow a major artery. Both for language and content. There are no happy teenagers. No teenager can write a paragraph without using some of the most graphic profanity imaginable. Apparently, high school English teachers are telling them that if you can't expand your vocabulary, use profanity instead. It's much more effective. Teenage girls are the worst. They're all virgins, but all their friends are sluts. Guys suck, except for Billy. He's different from the rest. Really! He just keeps her picture in his locker to remind him how badly she treated him.... And when did they all decide that they might all be lesbians, or like to be? The biggest sin amongst this group? Thinking that they are gangsta. Nothing worse than a wannabe gangsta. I hate to break it to them, but a 15-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed cheerleader named Sally from Pigsnot, Iowa isn't going to impress anyone with their attempts to come off as a ho' from da 'hood!

  • THE SPAMMER--It's nice to know that there's someone out there so concerned about the size of my penis that they'd go to the trouble of setting up a blog with information on what I can purchase, or where I can go to get that taken care of. Granted, it's long been a concern of mine, but I never bothered setting up a blog specifically for that! There's blogs out there for just about any ailment, problem, or subject you can think of. And they appear to have someone that modifies their site on a daily basis! While SPAM appears to be here to stay (and you have to credit someone for coming up with the idea that a blog site would be fertile ground for that), blogs seem to be relatively free of old-fashioned hardcore porn. At least I haven't found, er, run across any yet....

  • THE INFORMANTS--No, not like a narc. These are blogs that are similar to SPAMMERS, but are more informational. There's two main types--the sites that simply list a number of links based on a subject (such as: "Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About North Dakota"), or sites that are actually manned by a real person, who chooses to enlighten the reader about various topics (such as a particular crackpot religion, the philosophy of some unknown 17th century Icelandic pacifist, or by posting their doctoral dissertation on whatever boring, mudane subject they got their degree in). Generally, these sites are harmless, because most people will haul ass out of there as soon as they realize what they've stumbled upon, so that none of the information actually gets out!

  • THE FAMILY GUY--This is the blog where you, and Uncle George, and Cousin Willie, and Grampa Smith can all go to find out what happened at the family BBQ from June, 2002, since you weren't there yourselves. The site hasn't changed since it was originally published in December, 2002, when it was used as a common, but lame, excuse for a Christmas greeting. And all the pictures were taken with Aunt Betty's brand new 1.2-megapixel digital camera. Blown up to 300%. The audience for these pages is limited to about 10 people, max. No one else is really invited to see these pages, but when geeky Uncle Phil made the page, he made it public, and no one, including geeky Uncle Phil, knows how to get rid of the page, or restrict it. Then again, it should stay up, just in case Bobbie Jo's ex-husband makes parole--he really had a good time at that BBQ!

  • THE NORMAL BLOGGER--These are the ones that are the best, but also the rarest, out in blogdom. There might be a nice picture or two, some nice links, maybe some humorous posts. There's generally a little ranting going on, but nothing that would offend anyone. Often there's some personal stories that are interesting, but not a great deal of crisis, or mind-numbing blathering (is that a word?). If you're lucky enough to run across one of these, make note of it!

  • THE NON-ENGLISH BLOGGER--This is often the scariest of the bunch. Mostly because you have no idea what you've discovered or landed in. They actually fit into one of the types from above, which is scary enough, but there's usually no way to tell which! Depending on the country of origin, your experience could be either good or bad. There appears to be alot of Brazilian sites. And Nordic sites. And Indonesian sites. Occasionally you'll get a nice picture. If you run across an Asian one, then the page is usually filled with non-Western alphabets. I have to admit that Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. blogs are quite beautiful. Who knows what's being written, but who cares? It LOOKS good! Same with Middle Eastern writing. Say what you will about what's going on in that region these days--when you read about it in their own writing, it LOOKS good. Once in awhile you'll run across one of's headings ("About Me" or "Archives") in the midst of all these foreign languages or characters. Sort of gives you an anchor of sorts--letting you know that this, too, is just someone's blog!

I would highly urge you to take a chance on that little button in the corner. There's a whole lot of world out there that you should experience! Hopefully this little post can help you figure out what you've found!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Derivation of Osbasso

What exactly is Osbasso? Well, it's sort of an invented word (actually two words--I usually separate them: os basso) made up of two Latin words. Definitions below:
  • os n. pl. os•sa
    A bone. (think osteoporosis or osteoarthritis)

  • bas•so n. pl. bas•sos or bas•si
    An instrumental part written for a bass instrument.

So, literally, bone bass. Those of you who have bothered to check out my profile, you'll see that I play the bass trombone, or, using hip jazz lingo, the bass bone. And keeping my 9th grade Spanish in mind, I seemed to recall that in almost every language but English, the noun comes first, then the adjective. Therefore, bone bass, or in Latin, os basso.

I've used the term since the mid-80s as a password (sorry--I don't do THAT anymore!), on my license plates, as a username, and all sorts of other things. Only twice in 20 years have people figured it out on their own. Both were musicians, both were also medically inclined. Explaining the origins of it have never gotten me out of a speeding ticket, but the highway patrolmen generally just shake their heads as they're writing it. In that "Man, that's so sad. Go get a life." sort of way. Actually, if I explain it to just about anyone, I get that head shake. Sort of like how you're doing it right at this moment.....

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cast of Characters--coming soon!!

This one's going to be a short one, I promise. I got to thinking today that if I get into a routine of submitting posts, then at some point, names and descriptions of friends and family are going to be needed. So I've decided that in the near future I'll come up with a list of characters that you might read about. Sort of like the program page of my blog. It won't be all-inclusive, because there's probably some characters that I won't want to actually name. And if I need to introduce new ones, I can do that at the appropriate time.

On a separate note--I've got my first blog fan! Someone that I don't personally know. Someone who has actually been kind enough to comment on my posts, and offer some positive feedback. Now I'm nervous! There might be expectations! There might be disappointments!! There might be an audience!!! Or there might be a crazed lunatic looking to make my life a living hell!!!! I suppose the neighborly thing to do would be to go to her blog and comment on her posts. I could probably manage that. I think I'll do that in the near future as well! (I should probably say that I've actually already been there, and she doesn't strike me as the lunatic type.) Maybe I'll include her in the cast of characters from above!

Now it's time for bed. Good night!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blogs--The Secret Evil

Blogs are the evil secret of the internet. They are time consuming, addictive, and will ultimately destroy society as we know it. Well, maybe not that bad, but I'm sure spending more time in front of my computer screen than I should be! I started this blog about 4 days ago, and I can already see two problems arising.

The first problem would be the feeling that I need to come up with a new post on a daily basis. I don't think I've got the time to do that. Or enough original thought that could keep it interesting to myself or anyone else. And I don't want to get into making it a daily journal of my thoughts or activities. But at the same time, I find that I enjoy writing down random thoughts. Even if it takes me longer than I think I can spend on it. I've never really taken the time to do it before, and I find that it's sort of a mind-clearing activity. But I think I need to accept the idea that I can't force my thoughts, and that there's going to be days that I won't be posting.

The second problem is also partly related to time-consumption, but also with the state of society. I could very easily spend hours surfing miscellaneous blogs, and checking out all the links, and finding myself getting interested in the lives of others. Sort of like getting hooked on a soap opera (One Life To Live, by the way). Not that people's lives should be trivialized like a soap opera. But as I explore, I find that there are some truly unhappy people out there! My life is not one that I would suggest others to emulate, and there's certainly alot that has happened that could get me down, but it would be a far better life than some are living as described in their posts. And there's so many of them!! On the positive side, it appears that my life isn't quite as bad as I might think.

I would love to check all the links and read all the journal entries and comment on everybody's site. But then the time factor comes in, and you just can't do it! I had the same problem when I first got access to the internet. I was bound and determined to read every page of the internet. Or at least look at the pictures! Took me awhile to realize that you just don't have time in this life to do that. So I have to limit myself. If I don't run across your blog, I apologize. I'm sure it's a good one. And that your life isn't all bad. And if I DID run across yours, you'd never know it--no time to comment. But heck, you found mine, so that's a good thing!

Anyway, those are the two problems I will be working on. I'm not going to force myself to write if I've got nothing to say, and I won't feel guilty about it. And when I DO check my blog, I'm not going to spend too much time checking out the random links and journals and blogs to see how bad everyone else's life is. I just don't have that much time on my hands!

And, to prove my prior point, I've spent more time writing this post than I had planned. I'm outta here! Blogs are evil, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Paint the Town Pink

We played a gig tonight. Sort of. The event was "Paint the Town Pink", which is a fundraiser for the Florence Crittenton Home (for single teenage moms or moms-to-be--a very decent charity in town). There was a silent auction, a very impressive dinner, then a live auction, then ending the evening with dancing. Unfortunately, after sitting, eating, and auctioning, most people head home because their butts are tired and they've had too much to drink, and there's nothing worse than being in that condition while wearing formal attire. True to form--the auction ran WAY too long, half the crowd left, and we didn't start until 11:00 PM. Enough time to play one set.

The good news--we still had alot of people stick around, and we played all our really good stuff. Didn't help our chops any, but it was for a good cause! We even whipped out an arrangement of the "Theme from 'Love Boat'" for this (there was a cruise ship theme for the evening). As much as I hate to say it, we did a really good job with it. My horn parts were very good, if I may be so bold. And we may very well keep it in our regular rotation. Everyone loved us. Still had people coming up and asking where we were from (we've only been playing in town for almost 8 years!). Probably will be hired for this again next year. We didn't get paid much for this gig, but then again, we didn't play much, either. And we got swordfish and tenderloin for dinner. On a personal note--I've noticed that my tux seems to have shrunk since Christmas....

So, after setting up at one in the afternoon, sound check at 3, show up for the gig at 6:30, dinner at 7, and not playing until 11, then tearing down afterwards (worst part of a gig), it's now almost 2:30 AM. I'm going to bed. And tomorrow (today) is going to be shot to hell. But it was for a good cause.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Dumping Grounds

Back when I was growing up, I remember very cleary the day that I was riding in the car with my mother, going to the store or coming back from my grandparents house, or some such thing. It was memorable because I got to ride in the front seat, and my sisters were in back. These were the days when the typical family had only one car, and wives/moms were expected to stay at home with the kids, while the husband/father took the car to work. Whenever the kids got to be in the car, it was usually a family affair, and the parents would be in front, and me and my cootie sisters were in the back. But on this day, for whatever reason, Mom was driving, Dad wasn't with us, and I was in the front seat.

At some point during this ride, I rolled down the window and casually tossed out some sort of litter. I don't remember if it was something small or something large, but it didn't matter. All of a sudden, my mother stops the car, and in a moment I won't likely ever forget, ripped me a new one about the sins of littering. With the car stopped in the middle of the street, and traffic trying to get by, she made me get out and pick up whatever it was. My sisters, after the initial shock had worn off, took great glee in the fact that my butt had been royally chewed! That's all it ever took. Never again, in the next 4 decades, have I ever tossed litter out of a car window.

I bring this up now, because of a disturbing trend I've seen over the past couple of years. And it happened again this afternoon. A carload of kids (apparently from a multi-car family!) was stopped at the light across the intersection from me. Someone in the back seat rolled down their window, and tossed out a full bag of empty McDonald's remnants. Didn't even bother looking around to see if someone was watching, in case it was something they shouldn't be doing. Then someone from the front seat hands him another one to toss! The light turns green, and I don't even move. They pass by me, without the slightest hint that they might have done something remotely wrong!

Now I'm generally the first one in line to defend the maturity of teenagers today. I've seen plenty of them getting the short end of the stick, just because of their age. But at what point did the youth of today figure out that it's OK to just dump out their garbage in the middle of the street?? Between my mother, and that hokey public service announcement of the Indian chief crying over the smog, litter and pollution, the thought of littering hasn't crossed my mind since that fateful day so, so many years ago. Have we raised a full generation or two of parents who don't teach their kids anymore? I can't imagine a parent of my age allowing their children (or grandchildren) to do such a thing!

God bless my mother for teaching me things at a young age. This is just one of the many things she did well for me in my life. She still made a mistake by not forcing me to take piano lessons, but that's a subject for a future discussion...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Jury Duty

So last week, I get a summons for jury duty. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 at 8:45 AM. But call us first to make sure it's not cancelled. So I get up early, call, and get a pre-recorded message saying to be at the Courthouse no later than 8:45. Knowing that parking was going to be tight, and the roads were all slushy messy, I head down early.

Outside of the Justice Court office are a couple of uncomfortable benches. People were sitting there, drinking the free coffee, and just waiting. I check in just ahead of a musician friend of mine. At least I'll have someone to talk to while waiting for court. So we sit on the uncomfortable benches and start talking about music. Everyone else got to hear our opinions too, since you could have heard a pin drop out there before we started.

The door to the courtroom opens, and anyone who was NOT a juror, but there for a criminal proceeding, were to go into the courtroom at this time. Almost everyone gets up and goes in! We're sitting amongst criminals!!!! No wonder they were all quiet. Trying to figure out their "arguments", or how they're going to pay their fine, or trying to work up some sympathy tears.....

Mark & I continue as more of the jury pool shows up. Still not very social, but noticeably looser. Mark & I try to guess what sort of case we'll be getting. Guns? Drugs? Probably not--this is just justice court. DUI? MIP? Traffic? Maybe. Then the courtroom doors open, and the jury pool is asked to come in. We move to a new set of uncomfortable benches, and the judge proceeds to inform us that everyone is there and ready to go, except for the defendant! She has 10 dog tickets. No indication of what that means. Were they abused? Were they running around loose in town chasing cars? Whatever it was, she didn't show, which means she forfeited her right to a jury trial. But thanks for coming. Thanks for coming?!?!

Mark headed back to a construction job. Don't know about anyone else. Did anyone feel anger towards this woman? For having 10 dog tickets? Or for causing a hassle to our routine? Did anyone feel the need to get together and discuss their feelings towards all of this? Apparently not, because we all scattered like cockroaches. But now I have a blog, which a great place to vent about things like this!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Jumping in with both feet!

Yep, it's happening! After having lurked around a number of blogs, and hearing from others who are trying it themselves, I figured I'd better give it a shot myself! No promises here. Maybe alot, maybe a little. We'll see where it goes from here....