Do you support this?

My friend on google+ posted this question and a link to this article:

Michelle Malkin » More ugly Occupy Oakland pictures that won’t make MSM front pages

and asked the question today, “Do you support this?”

I do not feel qualified to speak regarding the validity of this movement or lack thereof.  However, I do have feelings about it and I shared this with him below.  I think for a lot of us, we it’s what we have, our feelings about how the government, business and the protesters act and react so, perhaps sophomoric, perhaps not, but I’m sharing mine as I shared with my friend on google plus.  Here was my response:

Some of this, no… not at all, some of it I’m not so sure. Honestly, I’ve not paid enough attention to what the OWS movement is really looking for other than the obvious, “to vent frustration about the corporate owned government”. I’ve talked with friends that are more in tune with the movement and they say that it’s getting people talking and focused on what’s really important, jobs.

I understand that people are frustrated on a massive level. I am too and worry that the company I work for will have reductions, and all the things that big companies do. I even understand the mentality of protest and think that it is in fact a good and healthy thing. However, people breaking windows and vandalizing banks… i don’t get that at all. The typical branch of a bank has tellers, managers, accountants, etc working in it, ie the middle class. So it’s damaging to the very people that the protesters are trying to advocate for.

However, these pictures show only one part of the story. There are other parts in the many graphs and info graphics that demonstrate that wealth is in fact being more and more stratified and there is more and more of an erosion of the middle class. I remember that you shared an image of a “1%er” that talked about how s/he was graduating school debt free, lived within her means, etc. That’s great for her but there are many others that got to the situation that they were in not because they squandered money on frivolous things, but because, even though they worked hard, the horrific x factor of sickness robbed them of their savings, or they lost their job. I think that there are MANY other less dramatic cases of good hard working people that have lost their job through reductions in work force, or whatever circumstance that have mortgages, etc, that have lost a lot.

My ex wife found a great job in 2007 with a mortgage company. She was happy and they were a good company that treated her well. The company as you can well imagine went under though and she lost her job. I left her the house when we split and she lost it. It was rough for her for a few years and we both lost and whatever equity was in the house.

Before the housing crisis, it was the banks that attracted businesses by misleading the masses into thinking that it was ok for a person to make 40,000 to afford a 400,000 home. Was some of this irresponsibility on consumers? Yes, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Banks do not exist for the benevolence and good will towards people and neither do corporations. They exist for one thing, profit.

So, yes, the short of it is, I can’t understand why people need to create violence on their own turf, and I do agree that vandalism is violence, but I can understand that people are fucking pissed off. I can understand that there is MORE of a stratification of classes rather than less. I can also understand that it’s going to take a lot to get our country rolling again. I don’t have the answers. I don’t think the protesters have or pertain to have the answers. I don’t support the vandalism. I also don’t support the excessive forces of the police.

I don’t have an answer either… Just thoughts.

So, i’m wondering

Fall in the leaves – Marion IA


This was the first time I’ve been able to experience the majesty of fall in the Midwest. I missed it by a couple of weeks last year. It is truly a spectacular site. The leaves on the trees turn an amazing hue of gold, orange, red and yellow. It is made special by the fact that I can watch this display of fleeting beauty with the woman I love.

Those little things in life make life so very beautiful.

This Too Shall Pass

I was inspired today reading a passage in Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, about a king who observed a wise man and wanted the qualities this wise man possessed.  The king said, “I will give you anything you wish if I can be like you.” The wise man told him that he didn’t have enough in his kingdom for what this was worth so he would give this to him as a gift.

He went away and a few weeks later he came back.  He gave the king an ornate box made out of jade.  When the king opened it he found a simple ring in it with the words, “This too shall pass” inscribed on it.  The wise man said, “Whenever something happens, before you pass judgement that it is good or bad, touch the ring and read these words.  That way, you will always have peace.”

This is a reminder not only that the strife in our lives will pass, but also the good things will pass too.  All things are fleeting.  It’s an interesting thought for me to ponder on my birthday.

I thought about that a bit this morning over my celebratory spinach bacon and cheese omelette and it inspired me to put some music down on disc that’s been banging around in my head.  I hope you enjoy:


I Don’t know what I’m Doing!


So, I watched a movie called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” about a man who decided to start juicing for health.  It inspired me to try it… I don’t have a juicer but have a blender.  Soooooooo:


Got tomatoes, cucumber, kale, mixed greens, parsley and spinach




I used a base of V8 (spicy V8… it’s spicy)

After the parsley got bended…




So, in the end it wasn’t the worst, but it sure was grassy…



Aikido and Music

I am both an Aikidoka and a musician.  I’ve been playing guitar since I was 5 or 6.  On the mat, I see a lot of parallels with my musical practice as I do vice versa, with my musical practice informing my Aikido as well.   Quite a while ago  I wrote on Rhythm and Timing.  When I wrote this I talked about how harmony happens in the framework of time and of rhythm.

Some other things, perhaps obvious to many, I thought I’d share:

You cannot play it fast without playing it slow.  Playing a fast run of chord progressions or melodies does not happen without practice.   If we practice too fast, we find ways to gloss over mistakes, but we do not get the true essence of the music we try to express.  We can “fake it” but there will always something a bit blurred in our musical expression, obvious to those who really listen to us.  So to is the fact that we cannot substitute quickness on the mat with a thorough understanding of technique.  If we try to substitute speed with the innate knowledge and muscle memory we gain from learning our fundamentals, we will miss some beautiful experience that comes when we fully blend with our partners and do a technique properly.

Music happens in the moment.  Musicians make mistakes.  The ones that are set apart from the rest can let the mistake go and carry on with the performance, so that the “mistake” seems like it was planned and a part of the piece he was performing.  This happens because a good musician can be present with his music.  He can allow mistakes and not dwell on the ill placed note.  He has to do this because if he were to stop, whatever story he is trying to tell stops as well.  The piece ends.  Our practice on the mat is exactly the same way.  Recently, my girlfriend tested for 3rd kyu.  One of the things her Sensei said to all of the candidates before testing was “if you can’t remember the technique, do Aikido!” So, rather than stopping, looking blankly at Sensei or their testing partners for direction, do a technique, do any technique.  Do not stop the flow.

We must know our fundamentals.  This is similar to learning things slowly first, and this should be obvious to most, but as musicians we need to know our basics before we “step out” as it were.  We have to understand the basics of how to cause tension and resolve in our music, we have to understand the basic building blocks of chords and scales, develop muscle memory and finger dexterity.  So to0, we must do the same in Aikido.   O Sensei developed the concept of “Takemusu”, the spontaneous creation of technique.  We get to this point where we can have spontaneous creation through the understanding of basic concepts over and over again.  This is similar to a good jazz musician taking the rhythm and chord patterns he’s given and improvising over it.  I bet Miles Davis would have been an excellent Aikidoka!

We must train without ego.  No one loves a show boat.  Even Eddie Van Halen, as gifted a guitar player as he is, plays WITH the band.  He serves the music.   I’ve known a few show boats and although they are very gifted technically, they serve themselves only, and it gets to be painfully obvious when you listen to them for more than a song or two.  In Aikido we practice as uke and nage.  Uke, the attacker, provides the attack for nage, who responds with the technique.  When we practice, full participation as uke is a very good way of having an understanding of technique.  It is certainly not the time we use to “check out” while our partner gets to throw… it is not a time where we wait before we have the spotlight again.  It’s our time to be of service to our partner, to understand the technique from the other side of the coin, how it feels to get unbalanced as our partner blends with us and throws us.  We can’t do this if we are full in our ego.

We must train with joy.  Finally, why do we play music?  Why do we practice Aikido?  There may be many reasons but the main reason is for the fully encompassing joy it gives me to do both of these things.  O Sensei told us to practice in a joyful manner.   For me this also means to train sincerely, train respectful of my partners, whether they are old or young, have been on the mat for 40 years or 40 minutes.   As a musician working with less experienced players, I like the ability to give them a bit better of an understanding of our art.  It’s no different on the mat.

These thoughts have been kicking around for a bit now.  I’m glad that I could finally get them out.

Morning Pages at

A few years ago I started working through Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  I didn’t get all the way through it but I did enjoy a particular exercise she called “Morning Pages”.  The goal of morning pages is to write 3 pages.  It doesn’t have to be intelligent, and it doesn’t have to be sentences.  It just has to be 3 pages.  She found that through this process, you start to leave all of the “I can’ts” and “I should be doings” on the page, freeing you to be a bit more creative in your life.   The book, intended for artists who are suffering from a block, is also good for those who simply want to live more creative lives.  Creative problem solving is in fact an act of creativity and permeates into all aspects of our lives, from working through how to talk to your child about sensitive issues, to tending to your partners needs.

I did this for a while and enjoyed it.   Writing allowed me to look at certain aspects of my life and work through some fairly heavy things I was going through a few years ago.  I am delighted to have found now.  The website derives from the concept of morning pages. (750 words = approx 3 pages).  It is not blogging but it does show you meta information about your writing, with statistics on frequently used words, what kind of things you are writing about etc.  Kudos to the author of the website!  I believe he runs it out of a coffee house somewhere in Seattle, WA.

The October Challenge is simply, write 750 words everyday for the month of October.  If you succeed, then you get to be placed on the wall off awesomeness.  If you fail your name gets placed on the wall of shame.   You can also agree to either treat yourself to something nice if you succeed and do something (possibly donate to the site) if you fail.  I’ve signed up and so far, I’m 2 for 2 with 29 days to go.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing lately to keep the creative juices flowing.  Oh, that and I just upgraded my mac to the latest OS, Snow Leopard.  I’m interested in learning some programming for the iPhone and been really enjoying the latest version of Garage Band.

Finishing the Couch to 5K program

“If you can breathe in and breathe out, then you know for that moment you are ok.”

– Thich Naht Hanh

I finished the Couch to 5K running program today. Contrary to it’s claims I am not running 5K. I am running about 2.2 miles now continuously for 30 minutes. I have NO qualms whatsoever with the fact that I am not running 5 kilometers at the end of this program. I’ve not run consistently for more years than I could count on my fingers and toes. I am grateful to the people that came up with the program and the developers that brought the app to my iPhone. Seriously, this is the best 3.99 I’ve spent. Certainly the best decision I’ve made to stick with the program and be faithful to the incremental increases in running duration.

If you are interested in finding out more about the program you can browse to the following links:

I love metaphors and can find them in most everything that I do. What i found about running is that it is rich with them. I usually run with music from my iPhone. Today I ran silently. I was tired, and around the last 10 minutes of my run, I started getting overwhelmed. I didn’t want to finish because of all the distance I had to cover in the last few minutes. I wanted to walk back home and go to sleep. However, I decided not to worry about the distance, I just had to worry about taking the next few steps. I’d set my site on just a few yards ahead, an acheivable goal, and make it that far. When I got close, my eyes would shift to another few yards. I did this again and again until my run was over. Small achievable goals. Bite size goals… i can do that. I don’t have to look at the big picture.

I have started to do some transformation physically, losing weight, feeling myself get firmer. Through consistency over the last 9 weeks, I went from not being able to run 2 or 3 minutes, to being able to run 30. It’s not a marathon, I know this. But if anything, it’s a model. It proves to me that if I show earnest discipline, am willing to make changes, then I can in fact transform the physical. If I can do that to the physical, then I certainly have a model for my spiritual and emotional side as well.

This is some terribly obvious stuff, but for me, it’s good to have these models around. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the forest from the trees. I get boggled down and mired in things that take my mind away from what is truly important. So again, I can look to my running, my Aikido training, my guitar playing and see that consistency, practice and discipline make a world of difference in producing good things in my life.