Dinner today…

  • Romaine lettuce with a balsamic vinegar + olive oil + honey + goat’s cheese = awesome dressing
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Rye bread with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dipping sauce
  • Tabbouleh (Note to self, needs finer chopped parsley, fewer pieces of onion, more lemon juice, and more fresh ground pepper, plus some tomatoes and red peppers)
  • Red wine from France (but not good red wine from France, mind you

That was delicious..

So the concert went well…

My sister Kristin is leaving for Burkina Faso in three weeks or so. She’s going to start a music program there and probably teach some English on the side. On Friday, she enlisted Tim Kolb (the worship leader from Freshwater), Andrew (her boyfriend), and me to fill out the singer-songwriter portion of the evening.

It was amazing. If I had to pick the best guitar players I know it would be a toss-up between Tim and Andrew. Tim sang a couple of his own songs, both of which I thought were very good, and covered a song by someone that I can’t remember because I have a bad memory. Andrew played three of his own songs, one of which is still in my head (I’m screaming, “You’re on my side!” in there right now).

Now, I can’t speak for them, but this was the first time I played in public, at least formally, and I was nervous as all get out. But I think it went well. I sang “Making it Up as You Go”, “Honour Your Wings”, “Song for Virginia Tech”, and “Waiting”. And by the end of the set I had forgotten there were 200 people watching me. And Andrew apparently got my “making it up as you go” hook stuck in his head, so my work there seems to be done.

Still, I think I want to do it again…

Songs

I’ve never had a muse. I’ve always wondered what it might be like to have one.

There’s so much to the creative process I don’t understand. Why two people’s art can look and sound so different, yet be distinctly theirs. Why when you seek to imitate it you feel like a forger and your art like a forgery, no matter how remarkable the result.

I can’t count the number of songs I’ve written and the number of poems I’ve pulled out of my head. I don’t think I’d want to. They come and go in phases and shifts. I could never count on a living as a musician: I simply can’t turn it on like a tap. I can sit at the piano and write fifty different phrases and attach fifty different lyrics to those phrase but they won’t satisfy me. Thirty minutes or two days later I sit down and the first thing I play is magic.

There are so few chords and combinations of notes, really. There are only so many ways to put them together before you run out and have to start recycling.

Sometimes you can want desperately to write about something but find yourself unable to write about it and instead spend a half hour writing about something else when you should be sleeping.

Playing old songs is a challenge. I can never remember exactly how they go. Maybe I’m making them up as I go, again, and I have no way of knowing. Only the few I record I know for certain. The rest are possibly recent.

Isn’t it strange how music can reach out and tweak something inside you that logic and facts and science can never explain, much less themselves touch? I played a song the other day that made me feel sad in a way I haven’t felt for a long time now. It made me feel something. This amazes me.

Thinking back, my former art was a shallow imitation of feeling, a tissue-thin fa├žade less tangible than those things I professed to know and write about. If you had to hear them, I am sorry. If you felt a remarkable kinship for me then, even more so. I should be forgiven, I think, for those songs and the words to those songs. We all should, who wrote like that. We were children. If we had a grasp of irony far in excess of our years, we squandered it on songs we thought were about love. We were obsessed with love and being in love and writing about love and being in love. When you are in the desert you write songs about water. We are adults now and instead of obsessing some of us have moved on and are actually loving and being in love. That’s a much harder thing to write about. There’s almost no way to do it properly.

If I’m being too subtle in my lyrics, I don’t apologise. If you can mine seventeen different meanings or none at all, I couldn’t care less. These songs are for me, not for you. These things are the most intensely selfish things I will ever produce, the most tuned to myself. They can’t help but be. They’re my intellectual and emotional children. That you hear them, some of them, is a raw vulnerability I can’t help but shy away from. This is the singer/songwriter curse, of course. These are not songs written by a group of people in a room. They’re not statements about politics or revolution or technological disorientation. They’re songs that bubble to the surface in privacy, when alone.

I have become too verbose.

Premiere Fitness

My wife just got back from a Premiere Fitness evaluation. This is something they make you do ostensibly for insurance reasons, which is a load of crock, because you’re allowed to use the gym even without the fitness test/evaluation. This is probably because they have a huge backlog of fitness tests to do, but still. It’s a load of crap.

Now, I have to say the gym is nice. The equipment is new, there’s a nice variety of stuff, and you know, it’s a gym. We do our thing.

But my wife was just pressured for 15 minutes or so after the fitness test to buy a bunch of sessions with a personal trainer. Which is really neat: After a gruelling fitness test where you feel terrible about yourself because you’re basically made out of dough, they give you all the stats about exactly how much dough you’re made of, and then proceed to try to sell you an oven.

Guess what: I know how this works. I know how to up-sell. I know where your bread is buttered. It’s selling the extras. It’s like extended warranties at Future Shop. We can barely afford to go the gym as it is, but we’re doing it because we want to feel better about ourselves. We’re not trying to run a triathlon.

We may be out of shape, but we’re not idiots.

I have solved the wind power problem.

Bear with me here, this is going to depend on widespread infrastructure and future technology.

Wind power isn’t a viable always-on solution because wind isn’t always on. Step outside your house right now: It might be windy, or it might not be windy. Even places like parts of Texas which have almost constant prevailing winds, the wind sometimes dies down. When it does, we burn coal to keep the lights on.

So in order to use wind power as an always-on power generation system, we’d need a remarkably large array of batteries to store power for when the wind dies down.

Of course, batteries are expensive. No-one wants to buy as many batteries as it would take to store the amount of power needed for, say, an entire day without wind.

What if there were an existing infrastructure solution to this problem, though? What if there were literally millions of batteries out there just waiting to get plugged into the grid?

Maybe there will be someday soon: Electric cars. They’re basically filled with batteries. Think about it: You drive your car for 15 minutes to and from work at times with low power usage (because people are driving to work instead of using power) and the rest of the time it sits in a parking lot or a driveway.

Instead of just sitting there, it could be plugged into the power grid all night powering up when demand is lowest. Then when demand is highest during daylight hours, it could feed back into the grid if the grid needed it.

We’d still need other generation facilities, yes, because wind might die down for two days and we’d be cursed with having no power and no cars to drive, but for most of the “wind is dying down for two hours”, the blips that are the real concern, electric cars would solve the problem admirably.

Double Standard

When cops are arrested, the police can do two things: open up for an investigation and try to be as transparent as possible, or circle the wagons and try to keep their own from the fire.

The first option is the best, of course, and the police force has gone to great pains to make sure we all know there isn’t a double standard here. But there is a double standard, of course. While the rest of us would rot in jail (or rot on bail) with no method of support, the cops are suspended with pay.

There’s your double standard.