Sunday, November 20, 2005

Well, the emails are running about 4 to 1 saying I have no trace of a lisp. The 20% minority says that I have one, but it's cute (I guess mainly my fans read this blog, so they're inclined to be nice). The 80% majority is either as confused as I am, or says a lot of people may just have an incorrect definition of a lisp.

Without exception, though, everybody has noticed my odd pauses, and a few have commented on "bizarre," "odd," and "overly complex" word choices. All I can... say to that... is how piquantly observant of you.

I finally got everything running perfectly on my computer. It's all set up to record now. This computer was built by and for my friend Haggai, a dueling pianist with a background in electronics. He realized he wasn't going to have time to use it, and I wanted one with pretty much the exact specifications it had, so he sold it to me for cost.

Well, I called him up today to ask him if he could help me get it set up to record, and he tried to explain, but he was working double shifts two days in a row, and he was a wee bit tired. He told me he'd work with me on it on Monday, but he had confidence in me that I could figure it out by myself, 'cause I was one of the smartest guys he knew.

Okay, with that kinda incentive, I HAD to figure it out!

So I broke down and did the unmanly thing. I read the manual.

So now it's running perfectly, but it's 3:00 in the morning, so I can't exactly start singing at the top of my lungs. I live in an apartment now, with neighbors on five sides (think 3-dimensionally) who I doubt would appreciate my vocal efforts at this time of night.

They might not appreciate my vocal efforts during the day, either, but that's too damn bad.

The consensus here among the dueling pianists seems to be that I'm a terrible singer. They all think I'm a fantastic pianist, and are amazed at my repertoire, and I'm learning the jokes and skits rapidly. But I've had three pianists ask me if I knew how to properly breathe when singing, and one booking agent ask me about my "vocal problem."

I don't think I'm a terrible singer, personally. Actually, I think I'm a pretty good one. And I'm in a field where I don't really hear a lot of incredible voices. However, since I do need the respect of the other players (their input means a lot here, unlike some places), and I want to make a living singing, there's ALWAYS room for improvement. So I've found a vocal coach, and am starting lessons in a week. I'm looking forward to it, actually. My teacher in San Antonio helped me out immensely in a matter of a few months. A couple of years with a good teacher should really put me over the top.

Under the "ain't life a kick in the head" category, two of the four piano bars shut down in Vegas. One was semi-expected, but the other was not at all. So, for the month of december, I'm out of work. I might be able to get a gig or two in Reno, but that's about it. Rumor has it that there's a piano bar opening up in January, and there's definitely another one opening up in February. So I'm going to try to figure out a way to stick around and tough it out. It kinda sucks, in an amusing way. My plan was to get set up here in October (done) pay bills in November (done), buy a computer for recording in November (done) and save up in December so that if I ever found myself suddenly out of work like I did in August, it wouldn't be a terrible tragedy, and I'd have a couple of grand to live off of.

Heh. The best laid plans of mice and men...

Soapbox rant time.

From the tone of my blogs, I've had a few people ask me why I hate America so much. I understand why they think that; I have a tendency to commment more on the things that bother me than the things that don't. And there's certainly a lot going on that I disagree with.

I was raised to believe that the USA was the greatest country on earth, founded on principles of liberty, self-expression, self-dignity, and most of all, opportunity to realize your ambitions through dedication, work, and creativity. I was taught that work is a virtue as well as a necessity. That privilege and responsibility must go hand in hand. That freedom demands that you respect other's rights as well. And that there was no place on earth more suited to that lifestyle than here.

Nothing I've seen since then has changed that. Now, I'm somewhat biased; I've never been to another country. But I have studied them a lot. And there are many places on earth that I want to go to, and many countries that have fine traditions, laws, and cultures. I find the different cultures fascinating, and truly want to explore them more in depth. But from what I can tell, the USA is still the best.

Will it always be? I don't know. People worry about the rising threat from China, from the Middle East, from Islamic Radicalists, from Illegal Immigrants... I don't worry about what other countries are doing; I believe that there is no challenge the American People can't face. We've done it time, and time again.

What I worry about is the Roman model. After conquering pretty much everything they wanted, they collapsed by their own doing (over-simplification, but still fundamentally true), by their own neglect, by their own... for lack of a better work, laziness.

After proving to the world how Communism and Socialism are non-viable models, we're now rapidly heading towards becoming a socialist state. After showing to the world the necessity of a well-educated populace, we're now propping up a failed, and terminally ill educational system, and throwing more money at it every year, as if that will fix things... After showing the world what our technology and hard work can produce, we're now whining about a trade deficit (while we stock up on imported goods). After proving that individual liberty and responsibility are the greatest incentives for a productive society, we're now pursuing a "War on Drugs" that eliminates all your civil rights in exchange for... Um... I'm not sure what the pay-off is supposed to be. Maybe to protect us from ourselves... We're pursuing a "War on Terrorism" that, instead of looking at the basic causes and nature of the problem, is attacking it in a militaristic fashion. How's that war going, again? The PATRIOT Act is being made permanent, despite that fact that the government can't point to one single instance of it helping to foil a terrorist plot. It has helped them pursue other criminals, they proudly proclaim, even though it was promised that would NEVER be what it was used for when passed.

Still, there are good signs. One is the new chief of NASA. He is, in my opinion, the best thing that has happened to that institution since the Apollo programs. I'm biased; I'm mainly saying that because he agrees with everything I believe about space exploration! But having admitted my bias, let me expound on that.

I'm always talking about what Government SHOULDN'T be doing. So, you ask, what do I think it SHOULD do? Well, there are some basics; regulation of trade and commerce to ensure fairness and equality. The highest education possible for our under-21 populace, because the higher the education level, the more productive the society. The protection of our borders. I'm not officially a member of the Libertarian Party, because you have to sign a statement basically saying you're a pacifist to do so, and I'm not. There are times when military intervention is necessary; in recent history, WWII, Korea, Afghanistan, and there was even justification for Iraq, though not the WMD excuse, and I believe that operation was severely bungled by an incompetent Rumsfeld.

In a nutshell, I do believe (against the purist Libertarian principles) that the government should do whatever we deem necessary And here's where I return to my thoughts on NASA and space exploration.

Going to the moon is something we couldn't have done in the 60s without the government. As much as I love Heinlein's "Rocket Ship Galileo," we didn't have the materials and infrastructure ready then. And once the government built it, it then let it collapse, relegating us to an endless series of Low Earth Orbit treks, rather than true exploration and the essential colonization of the Moon (and eventually Mars). But now, NASA is working on rebuilding that structure, and including private enterprise wherever possible, so that man will have a permanent presence in Outer Space, fueled by economic incentives. Here's a link to a fascinating (well, fascinating to a space geek like me) article about this.

And there are other exciting things happening in that arena. There are companies already making progress on getting people and materials into space in a business and pleasure oriented capacity, rather than governmental. SpaceX is at the forefront of this, and will launching a new rocket next week

What a time to be alive! For all of my doom and gloom, we live healthier, longer, and more free lives than any other people at any time in history that I know of. We have more comforts, and more opportunities. And as always, we are the ones who decide; are we at the peak of our civilization, or will we keep rising? It's a precarious time, and the future is really up to us, as cliched as it sounds.

Only you can save the world, with your Ovaltine Magic Decoder Ring.

20-1-12-11 20-15 25-15-21 19-15-15-14, 11-9-4-19! 1-14-4 4-18-9-14-11 13-15-18-5 15-22-1-12-20-9-14-5.


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