Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another departure from the usual. . .

I'm sorry, guys; I don't have the heart for a "political diatribe" today; not that I don't have the material, but I think I'll save that for next week. 

For those of you who actually know me, you are aware how much I love animals.  There seem to be "dog people", and there are "cat people", and then there are folk like myself who just love animals!  In my adult life, I've had, simultaneously, both cats and dogs, as well as guinea pigs, rats, snakes and fish; I have to admit that I didn't love the snake, but the rest have all, at various times, held a special place in my heart.

At Christmas, in 2005, I lost a cat, Kami, that I had had for 18 years, who I somewhat jokingly called "my little feline soul mate"; definitely the sweetest cat I've ever known.  6 months later, I went looking for another cat, as a companion to Miko (another cat that I had at the time), and as the fates would have it, I had to bring 2 kittens home with me from the "rescue place", as I had stumbled across 2 six month olds, that were obviously best friends.  I spent about 3 hours trying to talk myself out of that decision, to no avail; if I took one, I had to take her friend.  One was a Siamese called, "Bella", and the other was what I call a "dark calico", as the colors were all solid; black, orange and white, and her name was, "Kassie".

As most cat owners will tell you (and anybody that has ever had a cat will tell you that you do not "own" a cat!), every cat is "different"; no two are alike, and that can be a trial, because when you get a kitten, there is no guarantee as to the temperament of the animal, or what they will be like as adults.  One of the trials of being a cat "owner". . .

Kassie is the best argument for reincarnation that I've ever experienced; aside from being a different color, I felt as though Kami's spirit had simply relocated into another body, and found her way back to me.  Yeah, there were a few differences, but Kami's "essence" was there, and Kassie was a healthy, happy cat.

Friday was a day like any other; Kassie woke me up, had a "kitty conversation" with me (a very vocal cat with a huge range of sounds at her command!), and the day progressed as usual.  She went past me, at the computer, about 6:30 p.m., tail flying high, with the dog accompanying her, and I went down to fix dinner shortly after that.  At 8, I was back upstairs for a couple hours of TV, and when I headed down for bed, about 10, I didn't see her, so I came back up and called her name. She answered me, from behind the computer desk, with a sound so full of agony that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  25 minutes later, we were at the emergency vet's, and about 2 hours later (I just could not stay in the reception room with 3 other people in obvious pain!), the doctor called to tell me that she had just died.  He could provide no reasons; an X-ray showed nothing, and blood readings were all "normal".

So, all I really have to say today is:  stop every once and awhile, and look around you; count your blessings, and appreciate what you've got, because sometimes, Life turns on a dime.  Take time to really enjoy the good times, and when things get tough, know that they will get better.  Kassie was only 6 years old, and next weekend we'd have had our 6th "anniversary" together; not nearly long enough, but I am so thankful for the time that we had!

Have a great week, guys; next week has got to be better than this one!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arrrrrrggggg! As the weather. . .

gets nicer and nicer, I'm finding it's harder and harder to stay inside and work at the computer; if I was one of those folk who plan ahead, I might not find myself wishing I was out on the motorcycle!

Luckily, with the "silly season" (oh God, there's still 6 months left before the election!) fully upon us, finding things to chuckle at is no problem, and if there were no ramifications attached to the actions, it would all be fine and good, but. . .

How 'bout that little problem that the Secret Service guys had, down there in Colombia?  You know, I just find it hard to believe that adults can be so stupid, sometimes; these guys, when they are "working" in another country, are basically on duty around the clock, and here they are, screwing around on the job!   In their defense, however, i do have to point out that at the very least, they do have better taste in women than a certain recent ex-president that comes to mind!   And, who knows, maybe they were just being big hearted philanthropists, trying to help one mother with her beauty school and child rearing costs, and another pay for her schooling.  The thing that I find truly appalling is that we, the American tax payers, are going to be footing a minimum $1.6 million dollar bill for the investigation of this little "affair"!

Next up!  Man, those cats in the GSA sure know how to party, don't they?  And, apparently, that party in Las Vegas, complete with clowns (wait a minute!  They had clowns for these clowns?) is just the tip of the iceberg:  I don't understand how things like this go on; these guys, who are supposed to be "on watch" to make sure that a blatant waste of money like this doesn't happen, are doing it themselves?  How can they possibly look at themselves in the mirror?  Of course, now politicians from both sides of the aisle are pointing fingers (after all, we all know that they would never waste money, right?), and are pounding their chests proclaiming that this must stop!  Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense continues to jaunt from coast to coast on his weekends at a cost to us of $32,000 per trip.  Honest; straight from the horse's mouth:

And, if you want more to tickle your funny bone, our tireless campaigner, Newt Gingrich, manages to both bounce a $500 check, drawn on a closed account, to the Utah elections office, , and get bitten by a penguin, , in the same week!  The first, I guess I can wrap my head around, if I try real hard, but the second?  Come on!  Again, in Newt's defense, I'd guess that most of us, in our time, may have bounced a check or two, but in his 1992 primary campaign, he bounced 22 checks to the tune of around $26,000 proving Newt to not only be a consummate politician, but a fine musician!

On a more serious note, in case you think that the battle for internet freedom has been won. . . THINK AGAIN! It will take you a couple of minutes to read this, but Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, has a few words of warning to convey.  Since the deregulation of the news media, we have very few places to turn for news, other than those provided by about 3 media conglomerates, and be assured that they are not interested in sharing unfavorable views of the actions of governments all over the world, unless it is in their best interests!  So, please people, stay aware of what's going on on this front, because it is going to affect the future of the world!  The internet is our "window on the world", without a giant corporation's filters and biases; it's worth the effort to keep it free.

On the music scene, Neil Young has a new album, "Americana", due out on June 5th.  Neil has made no secret of his disdain for the sound quality of digital media, over the last 25 years, despite the assertion of this article, , and he filed 6 trademarks with the US Patent and Trademarks office, almost a year ago, which will improve the quality of music downloaded from the internet; a blessing for those of us who do not appreciate the low sonic quality of mp3s!

Although it's a few months early, or maybe a few months late, check out this beautiful and haunting tune; Thea Gilmore's "December in New York":  Over the last couple of years, she has become one of my favorite singer/songwriters, and I think you'll like her!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Spring and. . .

the sun is starting to stick around to tempt us all into the outside world; working in the gardens, riding motorcycles and walking in the woods are starting to become more and more attractive!  The problem with this is that most of us would rather be outside than inside, in front of a computer ferreting out news, which makes it much easier for the the politicians to slip things past us.  They have not given up on their desire to take control of the internet, and the newest "incarnations" of the SOPA and PIPA bills (if you don't know what they are, "google" them. . .) are a flock of bills coming up that are very loosely written, in order to give them the maximum ability to expand their power over this wonderful medium.  They all have these wonderful sounding titles that are totally misleading, kind of like "The Patriot Act" had, and will have far reaching effects, should they be passed into law:  It is definitely worth keeping an eye out for things like this, and the first of the new bills is called CISPA.  Of course, they deny that it is anything like SOPA, but check it out. . . I love the fact that all of the sponsers of these bills claim, "Well, it's not perfect, but. . ."

I had to laugh today, when I saw that Dick Cheney, of all people, had called Obama's administration an "unmitigated disaster"; as if our country did so well under the administration in which he worked, which left Obama so many problems to try and deal with!  I'm not an Obama fan, but this seems to me to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

OK, 'nuff of that!

For your "musical sortie" of the day, try your ears out on Diane Birch: in which she sounds a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n roll, or in which she sounds a bit "bluesy".  A few months ago, my godson asked me if I had ever heard of her, and directed me to a session that she did at Daryl Hall's, "Live From Daryl's House", and I was just enchanted!  The girl has a great voice, and her songwriting takes some unexpected turns, which adds a lot of interest to her tunes and progressions.

And, to close this out so that I can get outside, let your mind wander down these tracks. . .

Have a great week, guys!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

They just never change. . .

I apologize for not getting something up, last Monday, but the audio-visual project that I was involved in, all of a sudden developed a serious need to be wrapped up and gotten into the mail.  Once done with that I developed a bad case "Screw it!", and just relaxed for a couple of days.  And then I started to pay attention to what was going on in our world, and found that I had a plethora of things to write about. . .

But first. . . I went online this morning, to find a tune for you guys, and learned that a relatively unknown guitar player whose talents I fell in love with, back in '94, Bugs Henderson, died about a month ago.  I discovered an album called, "Daredevils of the Red Guitar", in the demo bin at Silver Platters (local CD chain, where I worked on the weekends), and started playing it over the PA. about 2 weeks before it was released.  I also wrote a review of it, in our quarterly music magazine, and created such demand for it, that Bug's manager called the corporate headquarters to find out why we were selling more of the discs in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington, than anyplace else in the country.  He was a constant on the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas music scene, for the last 54 years, and has turned out a bunch of albums, although not nearly enough.  Here's a great example of his playing, although it really isn't a video, and you'll find a lot more of his work posted here: and for those who'd like a little more "rock":  Thanks for all the good music over the years, Bugs; hope you've got a Paul Reed Smith with you.

Ok, back to "business". . . President Obama signed the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act into law last week, which stops members of the Congress and Senate, the president, and federal workers from profiting from nonpublic information.  HOWEVER, the congress did NOT require public reports from people, like lobbyists and friends, who get information from these same sources, which means that they can continue to collect and sell this private information to investors.  Nice little loophole, isn't it?  And, of course, once that information is delivered to someone, it's no longer private, which means. . .

As I've noted before, it continues to chap my butt that no one except the American tax payers and the common people all over the world have had to bear the cost of the economic meltdown of 2008.  Last Thursday, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial agreed to pay $5 billion to the federal and state governments, and another $20 billion to cut mortgage debts and restructure troubled loans.  Of course, they are not admitting to any of the charges brought against them by 49 states, and the federal government.  Personally, I think that they should be made to hurt, and I suspect that this penalty is a lot like that leveraged against Michael Milken (the "junkbond king" of the '70's and '80's) in 1990; he was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud and sentenced to 10 years in jail; he wound up serving 2 years in prison and fined, if I remember correctly, about $200 million and $600 in restitution, but was left with something like $150 million, gained from his scam.  On leaving jail, he was given a job teaching finances at Stanford!  And as the real "topper", if you look him up, he'll be listed as "an American business magnate, financier and philanthropist", not as a scam artist!  Anybody care to guess how much the banks made off the financial meltdown?  You can bet it was a whole more than $25 billion!

Along the same line, the government is trying to bring one MF Global (and, no, folks, "MF" is not slang, in this case!) executive to task for his bank's part in the meltdown. However, with the legal staff he has, who knows what will come of this; private industry has the ability and desire to hire the absolute best people in their field to go against the government's "public servants".  In this article, the reporter stated that no one has been held responsible for the economic meltdown because, "the vast majority of what happened in the years leading up to the financial crisis was legal, courtesy of silly laws championed by the industry and enacted by Congress. But Congress can't admit that, so Congress instead blames prosecutors and regulators for being too wimpy."  This just makes me sick!

Despite the fact that the U.S. is slowly and tentatively recovering from our recession, the International Monetary Fund is asking the U.S. to kick in and help out the European nations.  Although it claims that our financial security is dependent on the stability of the European nations, we would have to borrow that money, since we are already deep in the red, and in an election year, it is somewhat unlikely that the politicians will want to go there!

Oh man, enough!  I'm sorry. . . I'm gettin' pissed off and frustrated, and that is just not right on Easter!  I hope you had a great one, and I'm outta here for a ride on the bike!