Consideration of The Other: a Thing of the Past?

Ferguson-FP-share-thumb-580x580-8130It’s been said you can’t have heaven without a hell. I that case, perhaps the inhabitants of both should be thankful for the other. Or, maybe just heaven should be? Without heaven, hell would not exist. It’s a perplexing riddle when we talk about 2 sides of a story. Students in debate classes all over the world are encouraged to adopt a consideration of the other side when they make arguments. In fact, I had a professor in college who assigned us the argument that was the opposite of what we believed. Atheists wrote about religion, pro choice students wrote about anti choice. Pro capital punishment students wrote about life imprisonment. It was a very tough assignment. I don’t think anyone benefited immediately but years later I realized I had learned tons from that experience. Kudos to my professor! Consideration of the Other (wit a capital O as to show respect) opens the mind and confuses it with facts. The confusion in this case is a good thing because it breaks up the rocky wrong thinking and tills the soil for reasonable, informed grown-up thinking. Continue reading Consideration of The Other: a Thing of the Past?


The Meaning of Life is in Others, Mostly

I’ve come to believe the meaning of life is in others, not in self but you’ve got to get yourself whole first. Some people miss the meaning because they try too hard to find it. It is all around us in the people of our circle, waiting to be engaged. If you go around saying you are thinking of others and helping others out of selflessness and yet neglect your own peace and well-being, you are lost. In the same way, believing the good deeds you do for others will earn you some reward in an afterlife is actually selfish. So how do we make ourselves whole and motivated to serve others? I don’t know but we must care for our own needs first. Often this involves stopping everything and just meditating on what is. I’m talking about accepting who you are in the present for now. If you are like me, taking this time to relax will produce deep ideas on how to serve others. You will be mentally healthier to serve those around you and to make the important decisions you need to make to help others. How selfish of me right? People can and will drain your energy if you let them. Many times I have set out to help others only to be used, abused, or a combination of the two: unappreciated. That brings up a good point, you should never expect to “get” through giving. True givers seek to do it because it’s the right thing to do. Continue reading The Meaning of Life is in Others, Mostly


This Place We Call Now

About 10 years ago my mom started telling me about the philosophy book “Power of Now” and how it teaches one should live in it and meditate on it only, not the future or the past. At the time it sounded like a trite idea so I more or less ignored it but after reading a book and a few posts on it as well as watching some videos that say the same thing, it’s beginning to seep in. This thought is a positive one that is relaxing not stressful. This post is only about how I am learning to rest in the now. There are ways to do it.

I am finding now that I have enough knowledge on certain topics to simply do them, without research. By that I mean, I don’t have to reinvent every wheel like I used to. Living in the moment can be blissful. it is important to remember in the heart of ones bliss that the now will continue for many years and you’ll still be caught up in it. So, after having learned the value of living in the now, how to I keep a mindset that prepares me for a perpetually enjoyable now? That’s what this post is about. I went to a funeral recently and it got me thinking about the choices I’ve made since high school. These days I’m thinking about living in the “now” more than ever. The choices I’ve made in my past shaped who I am on the way to now. The now allows no excuses, only facts. And this has me thinking about my road on the way to now.

My son is 16 and lately his favorite phrase to say when he’s wrong is, “That’s what I was going to say.” We chuckle at this because we know there are usually no “do overs” in life. Most the time you take your knocks and accept what you did wrong hoping to do right the next time. In life you can’t say: “That’s what I was going to say” and get credit. In other words, sometimes you get just one shot.

Imagine going to a friend’s funeral who was your same age and seeing 10-20 people there you hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I can tell you that just happened to me and it was quite an awakening. I realized that while some friends looked younger than others, we all looked older. So there we were, a bunch of 40-somethings waving awkwardly at each other because our friend was dead. Like I said, it was like an awakening. I know what I’ve been through since I was in high school. I’ve learned so many lessons it’s a wonder I am still here to enjoy the wisdom of my errors. As I looked around at people I used to know in that church, I wondered what must have happened to each of them along the way to now. Continue reading This Place We Call Now


Wisdom of Waiting on College Lawns & Furniture

497968769_62bd271224_bSometimes when I go to other peoples’ homes I take notice of their furniture. So far I can classify a home into one of two distinct types: 1) The perfect style and 2) The “lived in” look. I must say, while the perfect home is nice to look at, I would prefer to be in a “lived in” looking home, it more relaxing. Remember when you were a kid and your parents took you to houses where you were told not to touch anything? It was like a museum? Is that any place for a child to grow up in? My childhood home was more on the lived in side. There was a stressful time every once in a while when we had company over. My parents would have everybody frantically cleaning and ordering to look like a perfect house. I doubt we fooled anyone. Continue reading Wisdom of Waiting on College Lawns & Furniture


The Trouble With Perfect Scenarios


I think my generation suffers from a malady that makes us expect movie-like scenarios from life situations. We don’t know how to be raw anymore. I can’t speak for my children but I assume their generation has it even worse having grown up with high speed internet, CGI, and high resolution video games. If we learn to be raw, it’s like we exit the matrix. The computers have not won and we can dance like they did in “Zion” in the movie I just referred to. I remember seeing that movie the first time and scoffing at the dancing parts in Zion, note I think Zion was in a later sequel, and not really getting why they ate the nasty gel and danced the ridiculous dances. Now, I see it might be interpreted as what I am longing for tonight: something raw and outside of the script we see in thousands of movies and plays out in our minds. Where do the raw people live? That’s where I want to be.

Continue reading The Trouble With Perfect Scenarios


The Briar Patch and Flight Simulator Analogy for Kids’ Test Prep

This post was first published at my teaching blog. I feel it’s a topic parents and ​some of those not reading over there might be interested in.

The fear and reverence of Common Core is all around. It permeates education. Kids who are gifted and self-starters will likely welcome the opportunity to answer high level thinking questions on a computer screen. They also will not mind the copying, pasting, bulleting, and other technical aspects of the tests. But for the rest, it’s going to come as a shock. Some kids will just give up and type nonsense into the answer boxes. Others will flutter the screens as they learn to select text and not much more. What can we do for these students? I have a suggestion.<!–more–>

Just like flight students work in a simulator to decrease the affect of flying, so we should put kids in a simulated session of the Common Core test. For us here in California it is called the “Smarter Balanced” or SBAC practice test. It’s totally free and akin to the released questions the cde used to offer on their site. Continue reading The Briar Patch and Flight Simulator Analogy for Kids’ Test Prep


One Reason I Don’t Record in the Studio So Much

14306176998_1bba9583ef_oI am proud of myself that I have saved almost every song I’ve written and recorded. Listening to them brigs back memories of the various times in my life. I haven’t recorded as much in my 40’s as the decades before. There’s a reason for that. I am a comfortable guy. By that I mean I like my day to be smooth and go in a routine. Another way to say it might be that I’m lazy. I have a garage “studio” that currently is about 43 degrees. Hardly the environment for a “comfortable guy.” I use an age-old version of Cooleditpro to do multitracking and my best mic is a $70 usb one my dad gave me for my 39th birthday. My drum kit is a keyboard I bought at Target on a whim in 2005 I think. I still can’t believe my wife let me buy it. We were really struggling in those few years. I had this idea I could use it for bass and drum sounds. It was $200.

Another place I record is at my lifelong friend’s house: Eric. Recently we got together and recorded my Peace Like a River tune. It came out well but I really don’t want to release it on my page yet. I included it here just for my die hard friends old and new to be kind and not criticize please ;) It is really hard to get a decent track. There is way more involved than just songwriting. Lately it’s been more fun to go catch a movie with Eric than to slave over one of my songs. I always know the next take will be better but when you run out of time and energy, the best of what you did is the one that remains. I have a collection of those that has grown since I was 14. You can check it out on Reverb Nation. The next time you hear an awesome recording by any artist, give them props because it’s one of the hardest things on earth to produce. In fact, give respect even to the marginal recordings you hear, like mine for example … please ;)


Blog Safari 12-15-2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlog Safari is my speedlinking series where I feature other peoples’ recent blog posts that I read and really like. Their links are below.


Look Back, Up, Down, In, & Forward

IMGP2779I’m not against prayer I just don’t do it very often. I appreciate the benefit of focus and clarity that comes from it. If you pray, there are a myriad of formulas to use: the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” and all the Catholic things they do. In other words, you can memorize and recite things like a chant and get to that place of clarity. Meditation without prayer can be tricky especially if you were raised in a Christian home. I actually have felt guilty in the past when trying to meditate without God in the equation. I have religion to thank for that.

IAT_CL1_PX00859When I share that with Christians, many of them say I haven’t found the right church, bible translation, or small home bible study. The small church people are the most worrisome. They claim a building or a parking lot, or other material thing like that can prevent me from knowing God. They are going through the book of FILL IN HERE in 63 days in their living room and wouldn’t I like to come? It’s all so alien to me. I actually liked mega-churches in my 20’s because I felt like no one recognized me. I could blend in. Sometimes I would go in, hear the message and leave without so much as a handshake. Those were days I did feel something like closer to God. People at church have always stressed me out. I don’t know if that’s God’s fault or not. Continue reading Look Back, Up, Down, In, & Forward


Technology Gone With the Wind

IMG_3072.JPGI used to type my writings on an electronic typewriter. Here is a picture of it. I loved the smell it had coming out of the box. I loved the sounds it made. I recall getting so excited when I found a supply retailer that sold the ribbons 3 for a dollar when Brother sold one for 20. I was about 23 I think and that was my first taste of bargain hunting and finding “wholesalers.” These things are like antiques now. The only ones I could find online, okay I was nostalgic and I went searching, were upwards of 200 bucks! They are obsolete, pure novelty, and no longer manufactured. I’ll never forget how advanced they seemed in 1992. You could plug them into your monitor and watch your typing onscreen. I think it cost me about $75 back then Continue reading Technology Gone With the Wind