Music and Inspiration

I have no musical talent at all. None. I’m terrible and I know it.

I DO however really enjoy listening to music. I’ve got a range of music in my collection, with just about every genre showing up. If you’re wondering, yes there is rap – some of Eminem’s work is tremendously amusing. I love to listen. I am particularly fond of highly produced pieces – and not live music. Many folks prefer live music, I’d rather listen to the disc.

One composer I particularly enjoy is Eric Whitacre. If you don’t know his work, I hope you go and check it out. Look up his TED talk series and start back at the first or second one. I am always inspired by that – and I’ve watched that talk a dozen times now at least. Here are a couple of links I wanted to share in the hope that you’d be inspired as well.

TED talk:


Don’t Bring the Fat Kid

I’ve written about scouting and some of the feelings I have toward the organization before. I have a deep, nostalgic place in my heart for them. Some of the most wonderful and amazing memories I have from my youth come directly from activities with my scout troop.

High adventure camps offered a couple of the best trips I took as a scout. I’ve taken a canoe across Lake Ossopee. That trip went 35 miles over the course of a week, canoe during the day and camp on islands in the lake each night. I’ve canoed down the Sacco River into Maine. That was a 50 mile trip over the course of a week. There were slow, lazy float days and days when there were rapids. It wasn’t easy. My canoe “crashed” so many times the rest of the guys made me ride with the trip guide – he’s the only one that would take me.

Going to an event, like a jamboree or an adventure camp, was a highlight in my scouting days. Those trips were the best – despite the troubles when I was there. You see, I was the fat kid. My canoe didn’t make it over some of the rocks in the shallow rapids because it was too low in the water. The other kids scraped over the top and kept on going. My canoe got stuck. Once it was stuck, the rushing current of the river turned the canoe sideways and dumped it over. Everything, and everyone in the boat was wet. I lost three paddles that week. I think we ran out of spares. My sleeping bag was soggy. Still one of the clearest, most cherished memories I have from my scouting days. I learned a lot. I remember because I struggled. My mom and dad weren’t there. Nobody was holding my hand. I had to succeed, or fail, on my own. It’s part of what makes me the person I am today.

That makes the Boy Scouts decision to “ban fat kids” from an upcoming jamboree that much more disappointing.

There are a lot of folks out there (including me) that have given their opinion on the troubles the Scouts are having as an organization. This ban will not help them in any way. This is a no win situation for the Scouts. They’re already struggling to get and keep members. They’ve changed one of the badge requirements to include recruitment (get somebody else to join to advance). They’re struggling with the issue of gay boys and men that want to be part of the organization just as they’ve already taken a hit over religion in the past. There are a core of folks that believe, but I suspect that core is dwindling. This is not going to help. I am saddened by this choice.

Telling card carrying members of your beleaguered organization that they can’t go because they’re too fat helps nobody, particularly not the kids that can’t go. Those are the kids that will struggle. They’ll lose their paddle, have a wet sleeping bag and feel bad that the other kids don’t want to ride in the wet boat. They’ll step up and learn and grow. They’ll get stronger and learn about exercise and take an interest in being healthier and become happier. Those are the kids that will carry those memories with them forever. Those are the kids that need that jamboree the most – and you’ve told them not to show up.

I can’t back that decision. It pushes me a step further away from them as an organization. I hate that. I hate that because I was that fat kid, and I needed that trip.

The Comments

So – my little known and infrequently visited web site has become quite popular with the spammers. Comment spam has been pouring in at somewhere around a 100 to 1 ratio of spammers to actual comments. I went back and shut off the comments on all previous posts.

I’m going to spend a little more time trying to figure out how to stop that. I’ve got a plugin that’s supposed to help / fix / stop comment spam – and *if* it’s working, I’d hate to see what I’d get if it wasn’t working.

On the up side – I’ve almost got the Facebook connection figured out. Sooner or later things here should cross post automatically. We’ll see how that works out.

I’m leaving comments on for this post (for now) but still sending them all to moderation. I’ll see what the ratio is on a post that doesn’t cross with FB and a post (later date) that does cross with FB. If I can get some numbers, maybe that will help me. Maybe not – but we’ll see.

Keep Your Hernandez Jersey

I’m going to tie a couple of things together that some people might find to be a stretch, but I don’t. A lot of folks know that I’m a Patriots fan. As an adult I’ve actually backed away from the role of active fan and take things passively. I’m not a fan of paying a salary larger than my school district budget to one man to play a game. There’s something decidedly broken about that.

Another piece to the puzzle here is that players frequently make poor life choices and do bad things. This happens to lots of folks, but lots of folks don’t have the kind of money these players do. Hernandez, formerly of the Patriots, isn’t the first to land in hot water – and he won’t be the last. For anyone that hasn’t heard, Hernandez is a well-known football player who has been arrested and charged with murder. Hold that thought, we’ll come back here.

There’s a clever / cute news story on the web lately about two Dutch artists that decorated surveillance cameras with party hats as a way to celebrate George Orwell’s 110th birthday. They’re attempting to call attention to the ubiquitous nature of cameras in today’s society and how we’re edging toward the Big Brother state. I suspect this would be less of a news story if a certain Mr. Snowden hadn’t made the news quite as much as he has lately – but wiretapping and surveillance are big news stories.

I bet you don’t understand how I’m tying this together yet.

Here’s the part that bothers me. The Patriots organization is offering to take back the Hernandez jerseys they’ve sold and give out an equal (or lesser value – of course) jersey in exchange. They’ll give that number to some other player this year and hope that this ugly incident fades from memory.

Winston’s job at the Ministry of Truth is the exact same thing. For all the people that gripe and moan and wail about the government watching them, how many people are letting the little steps be taken to move to a point where an event, or an unsavory person, is expunged from the public record? How easy is it then to dump his name from the web page for the team (it’s not on the front page of the team site already) and then proceed to making him just go away?

I think the way media in general, and news in particular are heading don’t give me a lot of hope in this department. People are in favor of this move and calling it classy. I call it scary. I fear things being scrubbed from the record as much as I fear the cameras… maybe more. I have never put much trust in stuff on the internet – that could be real, could be archived, could be totally fabricated – and there’s no way to definitively tell who posted it or why for the average person. Where will the record be? Who will have this information and how will we find it? Will it be at the library – or will the library still exist?

So, for what it’s worth – keep your Hernandez jersey. I’m not saying wear it out, flaunt it or whatever, but keep it. Use it as a teaching tool. Just don’t let it disappear.

“Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, 1984

“Half of writing history is hiding the truth”   Capt. Malcolm Reynolds as written by Joss Whedon