The Big Think

October 23, 2013

My Day

Filed under: Business,Disclosure — jasony @ 9:05 am

What a strange job I have. Today I woke up at 4am and gamed out my day (insomnia has been a real bear lately). Spend the first two hours developing a spreadsheet for some props. I’ll spend the next 5 or 6 hours writing music, then I’ll go to TechShop and spend the following 8 hours or so building a set of platforms for a school in Dallas. Then back here to transcribe orchestral music, do a bit of recording, and start to tackle corrections and fixes for clients. In between I’ll try and carve out an hour to glue together the remaining 2 jewelry displays for Erin’s pending business as well as start in on designing and engineering props for the show. I’m the guy you used to see on those variety shows that keeps ninety seven plates spinning at once. Except I’m occasionally asked to juggle. I’d be dead meat if I couldn’t manage my time and discipline myself well but fortunately this job has taught me that. Who needs Ritalin when you’ve got deadlines?

I’ll probably hit the sack around midnight or 1AM and lie there for an hour or so planning out tomorrow (or, more likely, take a Tylenol PM and knock myself out for 9 hours). I call it “roller coastering” where I get 3 or 4 hours of sleep for a few days, become nearly non-functional, then binge sleep under the gentle ministrations of a Tylenol PM. Lather, rinse, repeat until the work is done or my brain finally calms down. Ick.

Anyway, work is good right now so I’m not complaining. This time of year is when I usually get all sorts of calls to do stuff. What is it about November 1st that makes it such a deadline magnet? If I did complain, it would be that there are only 18 work-able hours during the day.

Tea = liquid sleep.

September 22, 2013

Good Advice

Filed under: Business,Disclosure — jasony @ 9:54 pm

Before You Grow Up: Be a Raft Guide: “What’s not to love? You get paid to float a river, and vacation days offer climbing, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking.”

Yup.

September 10, 2013

Hang Ten at Forty Four

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:06 pm

Welcome!

Today I am 44 years old.

Today my blog is one decade old. Ten years! 3650 days. Thanks to friend Giles’ generous gift of a WordPress setup as well as hosting (which has since been taken over by the inestimable Jeff Snider) I started this long journey of public navel gazing. Glad you’ve been along for the trip.

So. 44 years old. 44! When I started this, 40 seemed a long way away. Now it’s 4 years in the rearview mirror. Funny how time keeps moving. Like a river that never stops. Like a clever metaphor that entertains (but not this one).

So what have I done with the last 525,600 minutes? Some highlights:

Had a rather touching reunion: About a decade ago I let one of the ex-band members’ daughters sit on the piano bench with me during a performance of a Pigskin act. She was a wide-eyed and overwhelmed 8-year-old and I had fun sharing my unique perspective with her. Little did I know that, 10+ years later, this little girl would grow up to become a Baylor student and be involved in the show. She came down to the pit and shyly introduced herself and told me how much that experience meant to her. Well, what do you do after that? Get a pic with her all grown up and sitting in the very same spot, of course. The wheel of time turns and turns and you never know what it’ll bring you. Thanks, Emily:

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Sold my studio. About three years ago I dove headfirst into the software program Logic and never looked back. I do all of my music writing on the program now and, while it was a huge, huge learning curve (as well as about $5000 invested in computer hardware, software, and sounds), I’ve never once regretted trading in the clunky early 90’s underpowered software for a truly state-of-the-art monster sequencing/recording program that uses software instruments and a super powerful 27″ iMac with an i7 chip and 12gb of RAM to handle all of the sound duties (this will all sound so quaint in 10 years). I love using Logic and wish I’d have made the switch earlier. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to the changeover was that all of the MIDI hardware that I had taken years and years researching and purchasing was, at one stroke, completely outdated. I had about 2 dozen MIDI modules and various devices that were suddenly technologically moribund but since I had some emotional attachment to them, and since they still provided some cool looking blinky lights and made the studio look all official, I kept them around. Losing value. So this year I finally undertook the months-long process of unwiring them from the equipment racks, testing them out, boxing them up, and listing them on ebay. Eight months and $600 in shipping costs later my equipment racks are almost empty. I made quite a bit more on the equipment than I had thought and it’s nice to have it all gone, but I’ll miss the cool looking equipment. Technology marches on!

Props: I continued my prop building exercised by taking on a total of 6 groups’ props for the show. This was obviously insane since each build session takes up an entire weekend as well as hours and hours planning, designing, and spreadsheeting materials costs. I had self-limited to just four groups but somehow miscounted and had five. Then when I was approached to build a Revolutionary War cannon, how could I refuse? Along with the cannon I also built 40 flintlock muskets, a giant tiara, a huge set of doors (that, alas, were cut from the show), various platforms, chairs, hanging things, several of the ubiquitous 4′ cubes (boring!), as well as a set of 5′, 6′, and 7′ tall 3d mushrooms. I absolutely loved the process and even though I spent many precious days during the holidays in the cold garage and standing at a CNC machine, the time spent with these clients and friends was more than worth it. It’s a chance, especially for the girls, for them to get some of their first ever experience with power tools building “real” things. Here are a few pics:

CNC cut ribs and supports for the mushrooms. This took probably 6 hours on the CNC ShopBot router:

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Giant doors made in my shop. They eventually got cut from the act (unfortunately the opening song got cut and the doors went with it- wow, what a lot of work out the window).

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Long log “tunnel” for a wood nymph/fairies act (great costumes in this one):

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Finished and covered mushrooms (that’s the Sing director Cheryl on the left being goofy for the camera):

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Huge hanging tiara for a hilarious “Toddlers and Tiaras” act:

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The big cannon with the small laser cut version I built for their approval. I wanted to build a pneumatic gun into the barrel (it would have been fairly easy) but didn’t want the potential responsibility of handing over a semi-legal weapon to a bunch of college guys. “Liability” writ large:

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One of the 40 muskets made from plywood and ENT conduit with a laser cut flint mechanism (you can see the long line of muskets on the table in the pic below). They looked great from the house! I also laser cut 40 small tags that had the name of the group and the title of the act (you can see it on the rifle butt). I had several guys tell me that they were framing theirs to remember the experience.

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And finally, one of my favorites, taken by the BU advertising dept. This act ended up tying for first place. Can’t wait to see it again at Pigskin in a few weeks!:

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Back in the Spring Sean and his son Liam came up and we joined forces to make a giant trebuchet for our friend Ken. He gave it to his dad as a gift. What a great time! We build the thing on the back of Ken’s huge gooseneck trailer out of pressure treated wood and serious hardware. Alas, the first time Ken fired it the main axle bent (that’s what happens when a 28′ trebuchet has only a 1″ thick steel axle). A quick repair and it was back in business. Still needs to undergo extensive testing if you ask me:

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Yeah, my neighbors don’t know what to think of me.

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Much of this crazy building was supported by the annual membership I got at TechShop. If you’ve read this blog at all you’ll know how squeally-fangirl I get about TechShop, so I won’t go into it overmuch here except to say that it’s a brain-spinningly awesome place to hang out and get your creative juices going. Laser cutters, CNC routers, 3d printers, welders, metal shop, wood shop, electronics bay, vinyl cutter, heavy duty computer software, free popcorn, tea, and coffee, and a whole host of members who are good at different disciplines. This place has changed my creative life. Totally worth the membership.

Hang Gliding Lessons! A childhood dream since I was nine or ten, this was made all the more special by the fact that my wonderful wife bought it for me as a Christmas gift! Gutsy choice, that. Alas, I had to wait until the heat of the summer to use it (and scorchingly hot it was, too… 103 degrees!). While I only got some short flights in on account of being at the “utter newbie” level, it was still one of the most memorable things I’ve done in a long, long time. I’d really like to do the extended class some day and get some even longer flights in. And who knows? Maybe someday I’ll take that step off a cliff. If you didn’t see it, here’s a little video of the experience:

We were once again blessed by our friends Bridget and Neil when we did them the favor (ahem) of house-sitting in Colorado. They’re gone for most of the summer every year and this is now the 4th year that we’ve escaped the brutal Texas summer heat. This year we spent 22 wonderful, relaxing, and low stress days in their beautiful house. I got 9 books read, we went to the Denver Aquarium and visited all our old favorite haunts, including a great little Irish pub who’s only downside is its longitudinal deficiency. We watched the sunrises and sunsets from the huge deck at the house, drank good wine, roamed around Colorado Springs, and enjoyed a record 19 consecutive days of wonderful rain. This was probably the best time we’ve had up there. So grateful!

Denver Aquarium:

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Sunday brunch at Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub:

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Sunrise from the 900 sq ft deck:

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While we were there we did our annual tradition and Camped in Colorado: for three glorious days we sat under the pine trees next to a creek and read, got rained on, made camp food, watched the deer, and did even less than nothing. There is nothing that relaxes me more than getting out into the forest for an extended period. Even though it’s only a few days a year it’s still something that I look forward to and cherish:

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Definitely going back to the Collegiate Peaks campground.

One more adventure we had this year in Colorado was an absolutely blow-out dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Dushanbe Tea House annual Tea Dinner. What an incredible experience! A five course meal where every course had a different tea as a main ingredient. We each got something different for each course and split it between us. One of the most memorable dinners I can remember:

Before:

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Tea Dinner Menu
First Course
Ochazuke
salmon, genmaicha green tea broth, rice, nori, ginger,
radish sprouts, toasted sesame seeds, fresh wasabi
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or
Tung Ting Oolong Poached Chicken
Heirloom tomatoes, melted leeks

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Second Course
Black Dragon Tail Black Tea Marbled Egg
frisse, crispy potatoes, micro herbs, aioli,
black dragon tail tea vinaigrette

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or
Keemun Hong Mao Feng Smoked Duck
napa cabbage, sweet peppers, pickled carrots,
jasmine pearl tea dressing

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Third Course
Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chop
Three Leaf Farm Succotash,
white peach tea potato puree

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or
Genmaicha Polenta, Portabella and
Heirloom Tomato Napoleon
Peaches and Cream Corn Sauce,
seared TLF Greens and Toasted Puffed Rice

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Dessert
Tres Cambric Tea Cake
Lady Grey, Mate Carnival, Honey Orchid
with Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

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All served with several pots of wonderful Black Dragon tea and foccaccia bread with tea-infused olive oil. Just decadent. Here’s the “after” pic:

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Totally worth it.

Adding to my list of unique experiences from the year, we got to fire an AR15: I had mentioned to a friend that I’ve never had a chance to fire a “black rifle” and he told me that he had an AR15 that we were welcome to try out. So Erin and I took him up on the offer and spent an hour or so gleefully putting holes in a big 50 gallon plastic barrel. Not nearly as violent or powerful as I’d thought it would be. In fact, contrary to everything that’s been implied by the media and certain politicians, the gun isn’t a “fully automatic machine gun”, nor is it more powerful than a hunting rifle (a standard well-accepted 30.06 deer rifle is many, many times more powerful). An AR15 isn’t even a true “assault rifle” in that it’s lacking most of the features of these military-only weapons. Sure, it has the cosmetic features (it’s black, it has the cosmetic barrel shroud that protects hands from a hot barrel, and it might or might not have a mount for a bayonet), but otherwise it’s pretty much a normal, underpowered .223 rifle. Yes, the projectile it fires is only. 003 inches bigger in diameter than the bullet that came out of my childhood .22. Anyway, politics and misreporting aside, it was a lot of fun to shoot and we appreciate our friend’s generosity. Erin even got in on the act and had a lot of fun.

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Drove a Bobcat. Thanks to friend Ken Fowler, I was able to fulfill another boyhood dream when I got to drive his Bobcat front loader. And what big kid wouldn’t want to do that? Happily the only thing that I managed to damage was his driveway from my gleeful out-of-control donuts. Dang! Can’t find the video now. Sean, can you hook me up again? I’ll repost it here.

Finally, one thing I’ve recently done that I’ve enjoyed a lot is joining a local Austin board gaming group. The group meets each Sunday and Wednesday for a random assortment of board games of the more epic and Euro-style persuasion: think Settlers of Catan, Agricola, Drum Roll) as well as more pickup games like Love Letter, King of Tokyo, etc. It’s been a great way to blow off steam after spending way too many hours staring into a computer all day. This lets me get my fix of board games as well as get out of my studio for a few hours each week. I’ve met a lot of new people, and some of them even have social skills. 🙂

So that’s year 43 in the books. New friends and old, travel, experiences, and learning. What fun! I always wonder what the next year brings and this past year was no disappointment. I wonder what’ll happen next year?

September 8, 2013

Not Just for Millennials

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 4:56 pm

For Millennials Connections Are Easy, Friendships Are Hard: “We have the chance to form a network of people who truly are our tribe, not merely a mixture of those in proximity. That’s an exciting opportunity if we can accept its limitations and find comfort in the fewer and fewer people we have within our physical reach. “

August 26, 2013

Typical Call

Filed under: Business,Disclosure,Music — jasony @ 11:53 am

Just had this conversation with a Major Client:

“Hi, we’ve got a great job we want you to do. It’s for a major national venue with huge public exposure (2.5 million+ people). 20 minutes of music. It’ll be performed every hour on the hour, 10 hours per day. Multiple live singers. Runs for 6 weeks. Sponsored by Coke!

We can pay you $400. Maybe $500 if we stretch the budget. Oh, and we need the music this week.”

I mean, how can a guy with two decades’ experience say no?

Believe it or not, this is typical of the kinds of calls working musicians field on a regular basis. A very regular basis.

Sigh.

August 25, 2013

Jerry’s World

Filed under: Disclosure,Hobbies,Maker — jasony @ 10:29 pm

I found this strangely affecting, emotional, and beautiful. I don’t know why.

August 21, 2013

Art

Filed under: Business,Disclosure,Education,Music — jasony @ 5:06 pm

This.

I wish I had seen this 23 years ago when I was just starting out. I probably wouldn’t have listened to it. I definitely wouldn’t have understood it all. But as I heard him speak now I just kept nodding my head over and over and over again. It’s all true.

If you’re a recent (or soon-to-be) graduate in the arts, I implore you to give this twenty minutes of your time. The man speaks truth.

August 20, 2013

Trust the Artist

Filed under: Business,Disclosure — jasony @ 8:08 am

I love it when a client gives me rough directions and then says “but just do what you’re good at. We trust you.” It simultaneously frees me up from the stress of having to get them to define what they want (when they often can’t put it into words) while also setting a high mark- my mark- on what is “good enough”. The best way to get superior work out of a craftsman is to tell them that you hired them because they’re good and because you trust them. If they’re professionals they will fall all over themselves, put in extra hours, and get pull our their best stuff so that they won’t disappoint you. Their self-respect and reputation is on the line.

How To Manipulate A Craftsman 101

August 9, 2013

Education Implosion

Filed under: Disclosure,Education — jasony @ 10:03 am

IMPLOSION UPDATE: A lengthy cri de couer from a reader::

“We, as a society, mandate that all children must be in school until 16, and we must provide educational opportunity to the willing until 18. If there’s an IEP in place, that age can go as far as 21.

A school in which I used to teach was failing. Is failing. Has always failed. Our staff was more than 50% non-traditional teachers. We had a strong core of Teach For America and Teaching Fellows – neither of which pull in your regular ‘he who can’t? Teaches’ anecdotes. Most of us were ‘wanting to help where we can’ folks. We couldn’t make a dent in that school. The only reason that the 60% of the kids who bothered to show up daily even came to school was for the 2 free meals and the climate control. We needed a force of 15 security people to keep the kids IN CLASS. They had no desire to learn. They did not CARE if they failed. I never, ever had kids who started at my school as 9th graders and had enough credits to be juniors by their third year. Most didn’t even have enough credits to be sophomores. And this was when summer school was free!”

Reason #517 that I’m not a (traditional) teacher. It’s distressing to see the system failing so badly. And the problems in K-12 are starting to creep like a cancer into higher ed.

It is also distressing to see the same old arguments trotted out and the same old battle lines drawn up. Many times, as this writer reports, the solution is not “pour more money into the system”. Nor is it any of the other trendy solutions du jour that we hear about (head start, universal day care/preschool, free lunches, after school programs, etc, etc, etc). These may be okay to address certain local problems, but more and more they are just band aids that cover the wound while the infection festers. They don’t solve the core issues. And finally those core issues have become much too big and endemic to just plaster over while we pat ourselves on the back and move on. What’s to be done?

Certainly I think the home schooling movement is doing something to address the issues. We have several friends who home school their kids and Erin teaches many home schooled kids in her piano studio. I just asked Erin and she said that, universally, the home schooled kids are better socialized, better educated, more respectful, harder working, etc. The problems- 100% in her anecdotal case- come from the traditionally educated kids. I’ve met and had lengthy conversations with her home schooled set and I would class them not as “kids” but as “little adults”. They know how to think, reason, respond, engage. It’s really striking.

That’s not to say that the traditional system is totally a failure. We have some neighbor kids who go to the local public school. They’re fun, respectful, intelligent, and overall good kiddos (hi Amy and Ryan!) and we like them a lot. They give me hope that at least the local system hasn’t fallen apart yet and I’m glad to see them succeeding. But when the general system becomes as bad as the writer above notes (and read the whole thing for more sorry details) then we’ve really gone past a dark and dangerous point in our society.

Does everyone need to be educated? What’s the minimum level of education that should be required of a good citizen? Should everyone go to college? Shouldn’t everyone be able to read and do basic math? What if they (and, importantly, their parents) refuse to cooperate to get them to these minimums? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I suspect that we’re going to soon see what happens to a society that lets itself become so educationally bifurcated. It’s not going to be pretty.

August 7, 2013

How to Build a Career Worth Having

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 8:39 am

How to Build a Career Worth Having:

“there are three primary attributes of fulfilling work:

Legacy. A higher purpose, a mission, a cause. This means knowing that in some way— large or small—the world will be a better place after you’ve done your work.

Mastery. This refers to the art of getting better and better at skills and talents that you enjoy using, to the extent that they become intertwined with your identity. Picture a Jedi, or a Samurai, or a master blacksmith.

Freedom. The ability to choose who you work with, what projects you work on, where and when you work each day, and getting paid enough to responsibly support the lifestyle that you want. The order is important. People are fulfilled most quickly when they first prioritize the impact that they want to have (legacy), then understand which skills and talents they need to have that impact (mastery), and finally ‘exchange’ those skills for higher pay and flexibility (freedom) as they develop and advance.”

An excellent article all around, and one that many of my friends will appreciate. Erin and I have managed to hammer together somewhat non-traditional careers that meet all of these requirements and we are tremendously happy as a result. Yes, there are sacrifices, but if you offered me a “traditional” position with better “traditional” perks I wouldn’t take it for the world. As the saying goes: the only thing you can’t buy is more time.

Still it’s a personal choice, and one that I wouldn’t force on anybody. I’ve talked to self-professed “wage-whores” who are happy with the security of a regular job because it lets them do what they enjoy on the side. That’s certainly a viable approach, just not one I’m wired for. There’s also the idea that you get a good job as sort of a “temporary” career to pay off big student debt and save for other things (hello S.F.!). This is another great approach, especially in the early part of a career. Above all, having the flexibility and freedom to take crazy risks is always going to be better than allowing yourself to get bogged down with lots of consumer debt. Who cares about the Joneses? Let them compare giant credit card balances without you.

I guess the bottom line is that, whatever your chosen path, make it a deliberate one, so that one day you’ll look back on it and know that, for the most part, you consciously chose your direction instead of letting the currents of life push you and pull you onto their path.

June 29, 2013

Up, Up and Away!

Filed under: Disclosure,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:39 pm

Jason’s Hang Gliding Adventure.

Special thanks to Erin for the gift!

What a wonderful wife.
What a wonderful life.

June 28, 2013

Up Up and Away

Filed under: Disclosure,Hobbies,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:35 am

Last Christmas Erin bought me a day of hang gliding lessons. Today I get to go! Thus fulfilling a life list item I’ve had since I was twelve years old and biking ten miles to the library every few weeks to check out the book on hang gliding. That book led me to eventually get my pilot’s license when I was in my mid-twenties. But as much as I love flying powered planes, I’ve always had a particular fascination for hanging under a big kite and drifting through the sky.

These first lessons will probably be more of the “run down the hill holding the contraption and try not to fall/crash” but I should still get a little air. I can’t wait!

Oh, and courtesy Patrick:

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June 13, 2013

In the Name of Love

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 8:26 am

U2′s Bono interview about Christ | No Apologizing:

“Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the ‘M’ word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.”

read the whole thing.

May 28, 2013

Making a Point

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:11 pm

I got a pocket knife a few weeks ago. I had a gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops and wanted to a really good one since it seems like an obvious Man Tool. I’ve carried small Swiss Army keychain knives for decades and I recently upgraded to a very small keychain multi-tool, and I occasionally carry my full blown Gerber multi tool, but I’ve never had an honest to goodness, DHS-unapproved-for-flight 4″ switchblade pocked knife. I figured it was about time.

So I looked for something within my sub-$50 budget and ended up with a really nice German blade. It’s got a nifty spring loaded mechanism and a small stub you push on to make it go snick. I’ve started keeping it clipped to the inside of my pocket and I’ve used it several times already. It’s a great tool to have around.

The problem comes when you realized that I keep my cell phone in the same pocket. Last night at dinner I reached for my phone while sitting down. The particular geometry was such that I had to bend my wrist to get my fingers into the pocket. I didn’t realize it, but this was just exactly the right configuration to push that little small stub. Snick. The blade came halfway out of the sheath while in my pocket. Worse yet: I didn’t realize it. So I continued to reach down to my cell phone, took a grip, and pulled—and promptly drew the back of my thumb across the blade at a 90 degree angle. Thankfully, since I was pushing straight into the blade I didn’t do as much damage as I could have (I was cutting my thumb like a carrot peeler peels a carrot), but I did manage to sink the blade about 1/8th of an inch into my right thumb right at the base of the knuckle. I felt a sudden burn and realized what I’d done. Uh oh. Visions of slicing a tendon and ending my piano career in my head, I gently worked my hand out and, with one eye open, cautiously surveyed the damage.

Luckily I won’t need stitches, and since the cut is right on a knuckle fold it’ll probably heal without a scar, but considering just how much damage I might have done I still feel lucky. It’s an ugly gash that I’m keeping very clean and well bandaged so it doesn’t get infected, but wow… that was close.

From now on I’m keeping the knife in the other pocket so the blade can’t open (the blade will be against the side of the pocket). I’ll also be much more careful when reaching in there. Yeah, yeah, any guy is going to insert a witty comment about me being lucky that my thumb was the only thing it cut, but for this career musician and woodworker it was still a pretty chilling moment.

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May 27, 2013

Pause to Remember

Filed under: Disclosure,Politics — jasony @ 8:45 am

“It was not the Declaration of Independence that gave us freedom but the Continental Army. America was born from conflict, delivered by soldiers willing to pay with their blood the tremendous cost of freedom.

The dead did not wish to be martyred. They no doubt longed to return to their homes and families. But they believed in the “glorious cause,” something far greater than themselves. Despite knowing the dangers before them, they followed Gen. Washington into the fray even when victory seemed hopeless and the cause all but lost.

In America today, there are those who believe that under no circumstances is war the answer. Violence only begets more violence, we’re told. The unstated message: Nothing is worth fighting and dying for. History disagrees.”

A Tradition of Sacrifice, from Yorktown to Ramadi

May 23, 2013

Only a camp counselor will understand these 27 things

Filed under: Disclosure,Education,Friends,Games,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 4:33 pm

Only a camp counselor will understand these 27 things: “You know that you’re only making like a dollar an hour, but haters gonna hate, you’ve got the best job in the world. People on the outside just don’t understand what it means to spend your summer in the camp wild. They don’t understand that you can in fact survive on Oreos and Gatorade and that severe tan lines and bad haircuts can be sort of cool. And they’ll never experience the absolute pride of losing your voice after defeating every child in your cabin in a yelling competition, nor will they rock tie-dye like you do. People on the outside just don’t get it. But it’s okay. Because you get it, and really, that’s all that matters.”

May 2, 2013

Humo(u)r

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 9:07 pm

Being mean isn’t humourous. Yes, people say stupid things out of ignorance or lazy mental habit. People wear odd looking clothes for reasons often known only to them. But I’m just so tired of this school of thought reigning supreme now, this idea that casual cruelty is clever. Why do we think highlighting the frailties or even simple differences of other human beings is an okay thing? Is it because on the Internet we have become so used to going to “real people” for entertainment that we forget that the folks in YouTube videos and shopping at thrift stores are not characters in a movie called Everyday Life?

For whatever reason I’m just over it. I really am. I’m ready for humour to be something I can laugh at without hurting another person. Because even if they don’t know you’re laughing at them, that spirit of cruelty hangs in the air. It hardens you, callouses your soul. I’d like for us all to stop being casual bullies for the purposes of our own amusement.

Coble nails it.

March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 7:41 pm

“Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled

eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then

regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.”

–John Updike

February 8, 2013

So God Made Paul Harvey

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 7:09 am

I’ve bolded the parts I especially like.

So many people this week mentioned Dodge’s great Super Bowl spot, “So God Made a Farmer,” from a 1978 speech by the late Paul Harvey.

Here are some reasons it was great:

• Because it spoke respectfully and even reverently of others. We don’t do that so much anymore. We’re afraid of looking corny or naive, and we fear that to praise one group is to suggest another group is less worthy of admiration. So we keep things bland and nonspecific. Harvey wasn’t afraid to valorize, and his specificity had the effect of reminding us there’s a lot of uncelebrated valor out there. It would be nice to hear someone do “So God Created Firemen,” or “So God Created Doctors,” but I’m not sure our culture has the requisite earnestness and respect. We do irony, sarcasm and spoofs: “So God Created Hedge Fund Managers.” Anyway, it was nice—a real refreshment—to hear the sound of authentic respect.

• Because it spoke un-self-consciously in praise of certain virtues—commitment, compassion, hard work, a sense of local responsibility. The most moving reference, to me, was when Harvey has the farmer get up before dawn, work all day, and “then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” Notice the old word “town,” not “community”—that blight of a word that is used more and more as it means less and less.

Because it explicitly put God as maker of life and governor of reality, again un-self-consciously, and with a tone that anticipated no pushback. God, you could say anything in Paul Harvey’s day.

• Because it was Paul Harvey, a great broadcaster and a clear, clean writer for the ear, who knew exactly what he was saying and why, and who was confident of the values he asserted. He wasn’t a hidden person, he wasn’t smuggling an agenda, he was conservative and Christian and made these things clear through the virtues and values he praised and the things he criticized. You could like him or not, but you understood that by his lights he was giving it to you straight as he could. He was often criticized as hokey, sentimental and overly dramatic, and sometimes he was. But mostly he was a pro who hit his mark every day, and it says something about his gifts that since he died in 2009, the ABC radio network has appointed a number of successors, but Harvey never really was replaced. Because he was irreplaceable.

via WSJ

January 16, 2013

Klavan On The Culture

Filed under: Disclosure,Politics — jasony @ 12:16 pm

In allowing the government to maintain a standing army and police force, we are also agreeing to transfer to the state the duty and immense power of defending us from being attacked in the first place. This is not only a matter of practicality, it’s the only method anyone’s come up with to prevent the Hobbesian war of all against all.

As the founders knew, however, the power we grant the state to defend us can easily be turned against us. “The means of defence against foreign danger,” Madison wrote, “have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” Going back even farther, this was why the supporters of republican government stuck the long knives into Julius Caesar. In “crossing the Rubicon,” he violated the law by bringing the Roman army into Italy. This effectively turned the means of protecting the republic into the tool for establishing imperial rule.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Guns

(read the whole thing)

I’ve seen this premise mocked mercilessly in the media recently with a sneering “really?!? You really think you need guns to keep the government away? You think there’s going to be another revolution?”. (A pet peeve of mine. Thinking that the remorseless repetition of the word really? substitutes for cogent argument. This was reinforced under a movie director that did this cluelessly and constantly for weeks. No logical support or counter argument, just “really? really?, REALLY?“)

The intention is pretty clear: whether consciously or not, Constitutional opponents seek to minimize and ridicule 2nd Amendment supporters into giving up a fundamental right in exchange for illusory (and proven-false) security. But saying that something is unlikely is not the same thing as saying that it is impossible. I don’t believe it’s likely that we’d have to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights against the government, but I am unwilling to be coerced by that same government into making those Rights, won by others through trial and bloodshed, into illegal acts. Especially in light of history.

Here’s the point: if you can so easily use reactionary, crisis-based emotionalism to remove or weaken a single Right that has been protected in the Bill of Rights then someone else can use the same template to remove a different one. Those rights are there for a purpose and by common agreement. They are the rules of the game and it is unacceptable for one side to change the rules when they do not like the conditions. There are ways (also within the rules) of changing, amending, and abolishing those rights and if the true owners of our republic (citizens) want to unburden ourselves of our protections and do away with the Fifth Amendment (due process), the First (freedom of speech), the 6th (right to a trial by jury) or the 2nd (right to bear arms), then we use the mechanisms within the rulebook (the Constitution) to change them. That’s the deal. Unilateralism isn’t a legitimate vehicle of constitutional modification, and mockery does not qualify as logical support.

For many of us, it is not about 10 vs 17 round magazines, or folding stocks, or bayonet mounts, or even Sandy Hill. We are putting aside emotion and playing the Long Game. It is about the rules that we have agreed to as a society. Yes, those rules can sometimes be twisted and manipulated by madmen to tragic ends, but we refuse to lose sight of the protections they ultimately provide. In the end, the citizens who are standing strong on the 2nd Amendment are simply standing strong for all citizens. And the entirety of the Bill of Rights.

Really.

UPDATE: (via Instapundit) How Does the Sandy Hook Massacre Demonstrate the Need for Gun Controls That Have Nothing to Do With It? It’s like they’re just cynically exploiting tragedy to advance a pre-existing agenda.

After a mass shooting, gun controllers push the policies they’ve always supported as if they were a logical response to that particular example of senseless violence. When skeptics say it is hard to see how the proposed measures could have prevented that attack, gun controllers (if they are honest) say that’s beside the point, because the real goal is not preventing the rare mass shootings that get all the attention but curtailing more common forms of gun violence. If so, the horrible event that supposedly makes new legislation urgently necessary does not in fact strengthen the case for that legislation one iota. If the proposed policy was a good idea before the attack, it remains a good idea; if it was a bad idea, the emotionally compelling but logically irrelevant deaths of innocents do not make it suddenly sensible.

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