Monday, March 10, 2014

What's up with that?!?

For the past couple of years I have noticed that more and more atheists have been filing lawsuits and making television appearances to lodge their complaints that they find the sign of the Cross, and many other Christian symbols and representations of faith offensive.
This morning, while reading a newsfeed, I saw a story on another such lawsuit in which an atheist was demanding that the steel girder cross at the site of the World Trade Center should be removed due its highly offensive nature. Hmmm...

By the way, in case you don't know---
Atheism, by definition, is the disbelief in any deity. It is the belief that there is no such thing as God in any form, or by any name.

Feel free to look it up. After you do, here are a handful of important questions that (in my mind at least) beg to be asked...
~ Why are so many atheists offended by only Christian symbols of faith and no other religious symbols? You never hear of any atheists boycotting or protesting because of the Star of David, the Menorah, the Crescent and Star, Om, the signs of the Zodiac, or the myriad of other religious representations. What exactly is it about the symbols of Christianity that are so overwhelmingly offensive to atheists? And why be offended at all by any religious symbol?

~Would it not stand to reason that the mere fact that an atheist would become so offended by the religious symbols of Christianity in some small way validates the existence of God, and also somewhat contradicts an atheist's belief that there is no such thing as God?
Think about that for a moment and then consider this...
A true atheist would not be able to see any religious symbol as a representation of any deity. A true atheist should might be able to recognize that any given religious symbol is a representation of belief by someone else, and that said symbol it is only that...just a symbol of what someone else believes. Wouldn't a true atheist have complete and total disregard for any religious symbol? In my opinion, to become offended by any religious symbol, an atheist is questioning their own personal belief system- which by definition, is the complete and concrete belief that deities do not exist in any form.
How can an atheist be offended by the representation and symbols of something they believe doesn't exist anyway? Would it not stand to reason that by being offended by a religious symbol or artifact, that  an atheist would be acknowledging even the possibility of the existence of the represented deity, and therefore cease to be an atheist in the first place? There are millions of people around the world that have very convicted religious beliefs, and they aren't even remotely uncomfortable seeing other religious symbols. Perhaps that is because their belief system and faith are so concrete that they cannot be offended by that which others believe.

~And how can any atheist expect to have their belief system respected by others if they are so unwilling to be respectful of other beliefs?

For the handful of you out there who might be atheists, my apologies if I have offended you. I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers here...just trying to point out a little absurdity that seems to keep making the headlines.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Most commonly asked...

After my last post, a rant of severe proportion, I've decided to do a post that would be a little more useful...

Through the help of modern technology, via this thing I commonly refer to as the "interwebs", I get asked many questions from fans and aspiring drummers. The most commonly asked question as of late is this: How do I make it big like you did?

Truthfully, there is no concretely guaranteed way to accomplish this. If there was, I would have found it long ago and avoided many years of keeping hunger at bay by eating Ramen noodles and ketchup soup.
I certainly wish to be helpful, but I feel that it is my duty to be a realist over the matter.'s my two cents.

Step one: Be realistic. When you put the numbers to it all, there's no way that everyone is going to "make it big" in the music business. Just look at how many people play a musical instrument (A WHOLE LOT). Now look at how many hugely successful bands/artists there are out there (VERY FEW). Clearly, not everyone will become hugely successful. Once you have accepted this axiom, you can move on to step two.

Step two: Define success. You don't have to be "famous" to be hugely successful. A long while back I defined success for myself. It was a simple way of looking at it...and I still look at it this way. Success in the music business (for me) means that I never have to rely on a full-time day job for my income. Success (for me) means that on my taxes, my primary occupation reads as "Musician". Does that mean I never had to struggle? NO. Does that mean I never took part-time jobs to make sure my bills got paid? NO. What it has always meant is my primary source of income was from making music. I have always thought of myself as being successful. I never cared about fame or money...those things can lead one down unscrupulous paths in my opinion.
Once you have clearly defined success for yourself, you may find that the search for success may become easier. Now you're ready for step three.

Step three: Set your goals. Believe it or not, after you have defined success for yourself and what being successful will be for you, you have actually set a goal for yourself. Feel free to go ahead and set a few more. Perhaps conquering and mastering a particular style of playing, or soloing concept. Perhaps a good goal to set would be to do more networking with local musicians...or certain touring musicians. Maybe something smaller like practicing just ten minutes extra every day.
Write down your goals. You cannot imagine how empowering and motivating it can be when you put things down with pen and paper. You can also keep track of your progress. And now...

Step four: Achieve. Now that you have your goals set, it's time to work to achieve them. Do what it takes to accomplish the tasks you have asked of yourself. It won't be easy. In fact, it might actually be very difficult. There will certainly be times you find yourself asking, "Why am I doing this?!?". Stay the course. If you do, your hard work and dedication will pay off and you will be scratching a few of those goals off the list. If you find that your goals just are not getting realized, perhaps you may need to put more effort into accomplishing them; or perhaps you might need to remove them from the list and replace them with something you would rather be dedicated to.

Step five: Be honest with yourself. This is a big one. If you can do this. You can really make some progress towards realizing your goals and accomplishing them. Be honest about what you really want. Be honest about about how much effort and dedication you are willing to put forth to accomplish your goals. If you are not being 100% honest with yourself, you most likely will never accomplish anything to great levels of success, and if you actually do, you most likely won't feel very fulfilled.

It takes dedication, determination, perseverance, and clear and honest intent to become successful at anything. Some times that's all you need. Some times it will never be enough. Some times you will bust your hump with all you have and you might still fail to reach your goals. But there's one more thing you should consider...

Here's my real secret to success...FAITH.
During the toughest of times on my musical journey through life, and especially when I felt that everything in the world was conspiring against me to ensure my failure, I relied on faith to see me through.
That's right folks...the real secret to my success is the will of God. I had faith that He had a plan for me, and that part of that plan was for me to be making music. He blessed me with a gift, and it was my duty to put it to use. I also had faith that He would never give me anything I couldn't handle. I had faith that He would give me strength to change the things I could change, courage to accept those things I couldn't change, and the wisdom to know the difference. It was my faith that helped me persevere through the tough times, and it was my faith that gave thanks and glory to God when times were not so tough.
Yep...God is good. He has blessed me beyond what I feel I deserve. He continues to bless me every day. All that I have is because of Him. And I couldn't be more humbled or grateful.

The Political Axiom

Ok Washington, our duly elected officials are all full of shit. Seriously, we've had enough political grandstanding. It's time to become the leaders that you say you are. It's time to quit bullshitting Americans and do what's right for the country and all of the hard-working Americans that actually pay your salaries.

Earlier this year, our Congress and the POTUS had a major standoff over the budget, sequestration of funds, and the deficit. What was put into place was a temporary fix that would keep our government open for several months while the duly elected officials who couldn't come to rational solutions then, would have time to make the necessary decisions essential for settling the issues. In layman's terms...they put off the inevitable for six months. Well guess what...six months have passed and we're back to square one. Now, everyone is freaking out over the government shut-down, pointing fingers and trying to blame the other political party. Wake up people...this shit was due to come about anyway.

The GOP did not solely shut down the government. Neither did the Dems. However, the one guy who should be trying his damnedest to do what's best for "We, the People", the one guy who was elected to be our "leader", our POTUS...all this motherfucker can offer us is bullshit rhetoric trying to place blame everywhere but on himself for lack of leadership.

Get this straight America...very few of these "leaders" in Washington are concerned with our well being. Most of them don't care about any of us, or our daily plights. Most of our duly elected officials will only say what needs to be said to get re-elected. Most especially, our POTUS doesn't give two shits about what his policies and political grandstanding are doing to the average, working-class stiffs that are struggling to make ends meet and put food in the mouths of their families.
If these assholes actually did give a shit, they would be doing what's right for the average American people who actually pay in to the tax base.

Clearly we have serious problems with our are a handful of solutions:

1) TERM LIMITS FOR CONGRESS...We have them for the President, why not for all of the other idiots in the Senate and the House of Representatives? Certainly there is a learning curve when one gets elected into Congress, and I can see where it would take almost a full term to get truly into the swing of things, but we could do without the career politicians whose only purpose for being in Washington is to stack the political deck in favor of one side or the other. These bastards already get their paychecks and benefits for life anyway...term limits shouldn't be that big of an inconvenience. Besides, we don't need anymore idiots who have done little for the country over the course of a lengthy career only to blindly jump on board ill-advised legislation because they suddenly feel like they need to "leave a legacy". How's this for a legacy to leave behind...Be a leader, act with honesty and integrity, do what is best for the American people as a whole, and quit towing party lines because you don't want to be left out of the next round of "behind-closed-doors, bi-partisan, transparency".
2) FLAT TAXES... No deductions; No write-offs; NO EXCEPTIONS. I suggest something manageable...say 10% per private American citizen. Corporations and companies with their entire workforce in America, 15%. Non-citizens and non-American-based companies should pay more...way more; I suggest 25%. I know what some of you are thinking and saying right now..."But that means I'LL be paying more in taxes than some OTHER people." Guess what you blundering, mathematically challenged idiots...math is math. 10% is ten percent no matter how you slice it. If you make money, 10% of it goes to pay the bills in D.C. And one more thing...Congress can't raise it any higher. The government makes enough money as it is by taxing everything under the fact, I'm surprised we don't have to pay tax on sunshine.
3) CONGRESS IS REQUIRED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET... Having fixed budget confines to work within would be ideal. However, because politicians are how they are, and bullshit spending is going to occur...the least these narcissistic, intellectually misled nimrods could do is pass a balanced budget. Millions of Americans have to live day to day on fixed incomes and fixed budgets...our politicians should be legally required to do the same. Want to start a new program or entitlement?...find room in the existing budget. No more raising of the debt more expanding of the deficit.
4) NO BALANCED BUDGET=HARD LABOR OR HARD TIME FOR POLITICIANS... Maybe what we should do is make it a punishable crime to not pass a balanced budget. It should be a punishable crime for the POTUS to not sign off on a balanced budget. The punishment? Slinging a sledge-hammer on a chain-gang, or perhaps jail time. And I'm not talking about some bullshit "club Fed" prison...I'm talking about real jail time in a serious place, where one runs the risk of getting ass-fucked every time they drop the soap in a public shower, or gets beat down if they down give up their mashed potatoes at chow time.
5) ONE BILL AT A TIME... Far too often, our politicians will piggy-back one small piece of legislation on another. They know that their insignificant, minuscule piece of a bill would never even get discussed otherwise, so they trade their votes. The whole "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" routine. They guarantee a vote in favor of the bigger piece of legislation, but only if they get to attach their small piece of bullshit to it. We need to put a stop to it. The Line Out Veto was a good idea for that very reason.

And while I'm on this's a few helpful hints on how to decipher the rhetoric of the POTUS.
I've been paying attention for several years now and I have arrived at a few things to be undeniably true...Firstly, our current POTUS (much like his malapropism spewing predecessor) is completely useless without his teleprompter. Take away the POTUS' script, and he is a bigger idiot than a falling down drunk frat-boy who blows a 0.25 on a breathalyzer and still thinks he can talk his way out of a DUI. Secondly, with the right script rolling along on the teleprompter our current POTUS is the verbal equivalent of Fred Fucking Astaire...he's the ultimate spin doctor and could probably sell ice cubes to an Eskimo in the dead of winter. Thirdly, our current POTUS can spew rhetoric better than human being since Adolf Hitler...the only difference is that Hitler actually believed what he was saying.
How do you know what the POTUS really means? How do you know what he's really saying? Easy...Every time he opens his mouth to say something, reverse it. When he blames the GOP for having a singular personal means that he, our POTUS has the personal agenda. When he accuses the GOP of being unwilling to compromise on issues...he means that he is completely unwilling to do so. When he speaks of transparency and bi-partisanship, it most certainly means that he will only entertain private closed-door talks with his political party only. When he says he cares about the hard-working middle can bet your ass that doesn't give a damn about them. When he says that he created more jobs...he hasn't. When he says he has fixed our struggling economy...he hasn't. When he says he will get to the bottom of things in whatever scandal happens to involve his appointed people...he simply won't. When he calls for accountability...he won't accept it. As a Senator, our POTUS went on record many times calling many policies and courses of political action "un-American"...yet he has done all of those same things and to an end that has proven to be much worse.
This is not opinion...this is all factual. Everything this guy has said he would do, has been followed up with actions that are the exact opposite of what he said. Go back and watch the footage of every press conference, every address, every interaction with the press...and then look at his actions. You also will arrive at the same axioms that I have.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

the Band-Aids of life...

My beautiful wife, Holly, has a saying about those uncomfortable moments in life -the ones that we hate to deal with but have to confront. Her saying is that it's best to "just rip the Band-Aid off". It's a cute saying.

At some point in our lives, we have all had cuts or scrapes that required a adhesive bandage...and at some point when we pulled the bandage off, it hurt to do it. So we lightly tugged and ever-so-gently pulled at the bandage, wincing and grimacing all along the way. The pain of removing the bandage was
invariably as excruciating as the wound itself. Had we just pulled it off quickly, it would have only stung for a moment, and then would have started to feel better.

Sometimes in life we have to do things that are not fun. Things that we certainly don't look forward to doing. Things that we don't want to do, but know that eventually we will have to do anyway whether we like it or not. Our natural inclination toward these events is to put things off, drag them out, deny that they are happening -basically, anything we can to procrastinate and not be forced to deal with the inevitable. What we should do is go ahead and "just rip the Band-Aid off".

Holly and I recently took our younger daughter off to college. We helped her move into a cute little rental house that she will share with two of her friends. Since our little one graduated from high school back in May, the entire summer had been building up to this event. We helped to gather items needed for the house, purchased furniture, purchased needed clothing items, made lists and checked them many times over... It was one of those things that kept snowballing into something bigger and more expansive every day. It seemed like the more we needed, the more we bought; the more we bought, the more we realized what we forgot we needed. I think we're still thinking of things we forgot to pick up.

We gathered, packed, hauled, un-packed, placed, arranged... I, for one, assembled a bed with drawers in the pedestal, a large headboard, a bedside table, hung curtains, AND I installed a new dishwasher. The girls unpacked boxes, and put away things. There was a lot of work to do, and we all chipped in together and got it done.
Then, eventually the moment came when it was time for us to leave; leave our little girl, at her new place, without us, for the first time.
I could see what was happening. It was getting late. We could have stayed over for one more night. However, the work was done. And, I could see the look in our little girl's eyes...the one that let me know she was wondering just how much longer we would be staying. Not that she wanted us to go...she was simply looking forward to her first night there without the parents.
I could also see the look in Holly's eyes, and hear the tone in her voice...she wasn't ready to leave. Not that she wanted to stay. She simply was trying to avoid the inevitable for a little while longer.

We said our goodbyes, and left. It was a rough drive home. I'm sure that I would have been more of an emotional wreck than I was, however, being a step-dad, I simply do not possess all of the memories that Holly has with our sweet girl. My beautiful wife, cried almost all the way home. Tears of sadness; tears of joy; tears of reflection; tears of hope. As I drove us home, and watched my sweet wife have a breakdown that at one point was beginning to resemble that of Sally Fields in "Steel Magnolias", I began to realize what it was that was going on...
Rather than the proverbial "apron strings" being cut, and with very sharp and exacting nature, those "apron strings" were being slowly untied...and our trip home, and all of the tears shed along the way, was very much the same as "just ripping the Band-Aid off". It stings a lot right now...but only because we just did rip it away.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Real solutions for real problems

I'll probably catch some flack for this post...but I don't really care. If you don't like what I have to say, I encourage you to stop reading and move on. If you don't agree, that's fine too...I expect some of you to disagree with my opinions.

We have some seriously problematic issues in this country. We need some serious solutions, but not ones that involve partisan politics backed by corporate greed, nor do we need solutions of the hypocritical and divisive nature that pit the blue-collar working class against the white-collar upper class against the non-contributing, third or fourth generation welfare class. What we do need is this...simple, common sense solutions that can actually solve problems and help our country in as many ways as possible while still maintaining strict fairness along all lines, regardless of which direction those lines may run. Here are a few of my suggestions...

Let's begin with taxes. There is an antiquated and utterly useless formula that is used to calculate taxes, both for corporations and individuals. It is wholly unfair in most regards, as well as unaffordable. Its methods truly seem to serve only to further divide the classes and penalize those who bust their asses trying to make something more of their lives and livelihoods. We should consider going to a flat, fixed rate tax for all Americans, for individual taxpayers and corporations; one with no slick deductions, no unfair write offs, and no unfair advantages for those who do not actually have to do that much to earn their living. We should also consider some simple ways to keep jobs here in America, but also entice and encourage companies and corporations to bring and create more jobs here while discouraging companies and corporations from moving their workforce elsewhere. For example, companies that are solely based in America should enjoy a low manageable tax rate with a simple formula for calculating taxes. How much money did your company make last year, regardless of how or where it was made? How much did your company pay out by way of employee salaries, withholdings, and benefits (executive bonuses not included)? Subtract the former from the latter and that's your taxable profit. Send the IRS 10% of that and your tax bill for the year has been paid.
If your company or corporation has at least three quarters (75%) of its workforce here in America including executives, same basic formula but at the slightly higher 12% tax rate. If your corporation has at least half (50%) but less than 75% of its workforce within our borders, same formula again, but at the tax rate of 15%. If your corporation has less than half of its workforce here in America, you should pay at the rate of 20%. If you are a foreign company doing business in America, the rules will apply to you as well.
I think this would provide a very manageable tax rate system for corporations and companies, while simultaneously encouraging the creation of jobs for Americans and discouraging having a workforce elsewhere.
For the individual taxpayer citizens...there should be a flat rate of 10% paid by any individual citizen with no write-offs, and no deductions. Here's the simple formula: How much income did you make (minus withholdings for federal, state, and municipal taxes as well as pre-tax retirement savings)? Send 10% of that amount to the IRS. No...we don't care how you made it. If you made that money digging a ditch, selling your summer home, or playing the stock makes no difference. If you brought home a thousand dollars or twenty million, you still have to pay your 10% just like every other American citizen. Now that is a truly fair tax system...because math cannot lie. 10% is 10% no matter what.
The only exception to all of this would have to be farmers who provide food for our masses. Not the big food-processing conglomerates...American farmers. The men and women in America who get out every day and bust their asses from sunrise to sunset working the land to provide the produce, dairy, and meat that "We, the People" depend upon for sustenance...these fine, hard-working people should enjoy a tax rate of 5%. They are already providing a much needed service to the American people, and they should be rewarded for their extremely hard work, dedication and perseverance.
While we're taking the common-sense, no-nonsense approach to overhauling things, let's address the issue of government entitlement programs. The welfare program should be there. It's actually a great idea. Helping those who need help. However, it has become less of an actual help to Americans and more of a hinderance to our society. The welfare program has become a crutch for far too many Americans to rely upon so they do not have to actually earn a living. So, let's see if we can fix it so that it can truly be used for its intended purpose but cannot be taken advantage of. What about this? Let's create an aspect to the program that can truly help its recipients to become productive members of society. In order to receive welfare benefits, recipients must complete two different educational programs, one in a technical field, the other in the field of a manual trade. These educational programs should be provided at no cost to the welfare recipient, at reputable institutions, and for those with small children, a childcare program could be provided. Don't show up to class?...your check will be short. Don't pass the courses?...your check will be short. To help prevent the possibility of the program being taken advantage of, a time limit of how long you can be a recipient. Most un-employment benefits have a time limit; so should welfare. Perhaps a limit of ten years, maybe less. The term should be long enough to earn a couple of associate degrees and/or serve an apprenticeship. After the educational courses are complete, recipients will be able to remain on welfare for up to two years while they are helped by way of job placement services to find work and begin a career, and for those who pursue a career in which certification testing and licensing has to occur, the program should help cover the cost of that as well. While we're at it, we, as Americans, should demand that welfare recipients pass random drug testing and maintain clean police records while receiving welfare. A nominal thing to ask for a free education, training, and having your bills paid by taxpayers. Get convicted of a crime while on the system?'re out until you have paid your debt to society. Piss positive for narcotics without a prescription?'re out for a year. And, oh yeah, your ten years picks up where it left off. Your ten years of free moolah just wrapped up? have to sit out for ten years before reapplying...and none of this applying under your children's names bullshit either. In order to receive it, recipients must be legal citizens, over the age of majority, and participating in the social security program. Look at it this way...the portion of the American tax base that would be picking up the tab for all of this need to be getting something for their money. I think responsible, rehabilitated, contributing members of society who keep themselves free of drugs and crime would be something everyone would be willing to help pay for.
Granted, this type of system would not work for everyone in the program, but in the long term would free up more funding in the program for those who are affected by disabilities, severe health issues that prevent them from working at all, and for those who have become too elderly to continue to work. Certainly special consideration should be given and provided for those few.

See...a few sensible ideas. Sure they might need a little tweaking or fine-tuning; but these are sensible ideas that would entice companies to create more jobs here in America; sensible ideas that help those who need it while giving them a way to become productive members of society who contribute to the tax base; sensible ideas that help to prevent citizens from becoming a financial drain on the pockets of those who actually are employed; sensible ideas that allow those who are paying into the tax base to bring home more of their hard-earned money; sensible ideas that do away with tax brackets with deductions that only benefit the wealthy; sensible ideas that ensure that those who work hard to make a better life for themselves are not penalized for their hard work by having to pay higher taxes.
By the way Congress, you all would have to be put on strict budgetary limitations until the country has built up a surplus. No more bullshit spending on bullshit programs. We, the People, are tired of bullshit, and if you're not part of a realistic and sensible solution, then you are continuing to perpetuate the problems. And those tax rates...they're not going to be flexible. They will stay put after they are put into place. The last thing We, the People, need is a system in which you few government officials (who are employed by We, the People) can continue to raise taxes and increase spending and debt.

I would suppose that when We, the People, stop voting in politicians who are only capable of saying all the right things for all the wrong reasons, and start voting in public servants who actually do all the right things for the right reasons, the country will be a better place. Until then, we will have to suffer at the idle hands of those who have chosen to do as little as possible while appearing to do as much as they can while the sea of hypocrisy and greed continue engulf this country. If the "career politicians" in this country were to be honest with themselves and their constituents that they work for, if they were to truly be noble and accountable in their public service, most would cease to be "career politicians".

Don't like these ideas that I've presented? How about this one...
Keep everything just as it is with welfare, other entitlements, and the tax system as a whole, save for one minor change; that change would be to allow the taxpaying citizens of this country to pick and choose how their money is actually spent. If that were to happen, how long would it take for most of the bullshit programs our government pays for in this country to be completely defunct? How long would welfare last if the American public -as individual taxpayers- were allowed to choose whether or not to fund it with our hard-earned tax dollars?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Accountability and Acceptance

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that accountability and acceptance are two things that we, as human beings, have the most trouble dealing with. Part of the problem is a result of the culture that my generation in general has been taught and has now passed down to our own children. The whole attitude of "not my child" has grown into an attitude of "not me" or "it ain't my fault". What probably started as an utterance born of shock and denial, has now matured into more of the same, accompanied by a general disposition that disregards responsibility for one's own actions and the inability to deal with the butterfly effect and repercussions of those actions; especially when it is affecting the one person who set it all in motion...

My mother had an interesting way of teaching me both of those things...accountability and acceptance. She had a saying that was probably taught to her by her parents.
"You made your it's you who has to lie in it."
Clearly an easy-to-grasp circumlocution that was my mother's way of saying, "It's your caused deal with it"; suggesting that everyone is responsible for taking care of the fallout that they, themselves create.
There's a lot of wisdom there, and the older I get, the more I have come to understand that.

For every choice you make, there will be consequences; and don't bitch about it when the wheels of karma come around to exact their justice upon you in an unfavorable manner. In essence...take your lumps.

Recently I endured a scenario in which someone who used to be a friend had set into motion a long-term series of events that resulted in a complete and total irretrievable breakdown of the friendship. I think that it is safe to say that that particular bridge has been sufficiently burned; never to be rebuilt again. I would go into greater detail, but the names and circumstances shall be omitted to protect the guilty and unscrupulous.
At the end of it all, this person came to me to tell me how heartbroken and sad they were that everything happened, and that it was purely unavoidable. The terms "livid and seething" are far too soft to accurately describe my emotions over the matter as a whole, and certainly do not come close to describing what I felt after hearing what anyone of sound mind would call a "bullshit apology".
What I wanted to do in response was to allow every single of ounce of anger and rage out all at once in a furious retort of denigration and belittlement. However, because restraint and good judgement got the best of me, I took a more subtle approach and very sternly and directly pointed out to my weakly lamenting antagonist that it was their choice to pursue that particular course and that their actions left them the only person to blame for the loss of the friendship. I then pointed out that another individual very close to it all would forever be considered a friend because they had elected to remove themselves from the scenario altogether, but that my antagonist would never be considered a friend as a result of everything; as a result of being so knowingly concrete, and entirely absent of conscience in their wrongdoing.
After a very poor attempt at rationalization by my antagonist, which failed miserably, I then sternly instructed my antagonist to "not ever consider me to be a friend". Once "called out" in this manner so completely, said antagonist then changed their tone from very poorly displayed lamentable apology to one of outrightly pugnacious and combative belligerence.
Given the circumstances, my antagonist had no real reason to assume that the "apologetic" scenario would have unfolded any differently or more favorably...if favorably at all. To see this person become enraged at me over the fact that I did not react the way they had presumably hoped for was downright insulting, offensive, and appalling.

When you are the responsible party for a series of events that results in someone having a bad opinion of you, don't be upset at the person you've wronged when they don't accept your apology. When you set the wheels of karma in motion by unscrupulous actions, don't be angry at those you have affected with your actions when the wheel of karma comes crushing down upon you like a assured that it will.
The moral of the story is this...
It's your made it's you who will have to lie in it. Be accountable for your actions, and accepting of the consequences...even when they are highly unfavorable. Take your lumps as they come to you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Comin' 'round full circle... old phrase I heard once to describe an event in which something current comes in contact with its beginnings.

This is exactly what happened to me recently in Baton Rouge, LA. My bandmates and I were headlining a big festival there. Of the many folks there in attendance, one concert-goer happens to have been my very first band director, Chip Vickers. He was there with his family, to see my band perform. And although I knew he was going to be there, I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming feelings of pride and humility that came over me once he was actually there.

My father was the one who gave me my first guitar and helped me begin my love affair with music, but it was Chip who supplied me with direction and set me upon my true path. He patiently helped me learn the essential rudiments of drumming, and taught me to read music. He gave me proper inspiration and guidance that sparked a flame within me that has yet to go out. Although I was under his instruction in the junior high band program for only two years, he had an impressive impact on me. His high level of patience with me and all of the other students, instilled in me an approach to teaching that I try to use to this day when I take on a student. He also instilled in me a great curiosity for music...which led me to become an eternal student of my instrument.

I certainly hope that I have made him proud. I don't know how many of his former students can lay claim to having a handful of Grammy Awards on the mantle, but I'm sure that it's not many. I also hope that he understands that it is due to him, in great part, that I have become the musician that I am today. My love, fascination, and appreciation of music, and the impact that it can have on everyone, certainly can be attributed to Chip Vickers...he helped me to discover so much and at such an early age.

And while there are several others who have been teachers of mine- knowingly and otherwise- who deserve to be recognized for helping to mold me into what I have become so far, right here, right now, in this very moment, I am compelled to say thank you to him, and him alone.

So without further ado...

To Mr. John "Chip" Vickers,
Thank you. I have what I have, and have accomplished musically what I have because you, my dear friend, so greatly encouraged it all those years ago.
You taught me the basics of rudimental drumming (quite well I might add) and taught me to read music. Not just drum notation written out on one You taught me about playing with dynamics and with expression. You were insistent that I apply myself and practice diligently. Your enthusiasm and encouragement made such a lasting impression on my life. Whether by accident or design, you taught me how to be competitive with no one other than myself, and then challenged me to become the best that I could become. You taught me the value of helping others learn and the joys that come from sharing musical ideas and concepts. You helped me to appreciate music of all types, and most importantly, helped me realize just how much I love to make music.
You may feel as if you only taught me "the basics", but I can assure you that those "basics" have served me well and continue to do so. I have had many music teachers along the way in my musical journeys, but none of them have had quite the same significant influence on me as you have.
With all of the love I have...thank you.