Mid Life

That’s optimistic.

So recently I turned 59.  It doesn’t feel much different from 58, or that from 57, but since I often still feel 35, it occasionally jars.  I have little to complain about, save for a nagging sense of lack of time.

I’d been toying with getting an electric guitar for years.  A frivolity I could not quite talk myself into for a long time.  I have a terrific acoustic guitar which I do not play as well as I should, but which gives me a great deal of pleasure pretending to play well.

There are some things you just can’t mimic on an acoustic, though.  It’s like trying to play Deep Purple on a spinet pianola.  It lacks gravitas.

So an opportunity came my way and I threw common sense to the wind and bought a delightful Epiphone Les Paul.  Not the one I’d had my eyes on for many years, but it’s a Les Paul.  (Yeah, yeah, I hear the purists kvetching over in the corner, but it ain’t a Gibson, like that makes all that much difference.  Well, it does, by several hundred dollars.)

Which necessitated getting an amplifier.

I have a good friend in Jefferson City who is something of a musician (actually, he’s a very good musician and graces me with a willingness to jam on our infrequent visits) who knows people.  Sound people.  I told him what I’d gotten and he said “Come on out and we’ll fix you up.”

Fix me up indeed.

Me and My Axe, Oct 29, 2013

I’ve been out of the music biz too long, I didn’t even recognize the name—a Line—but it’s a gem.  50 watts, all the bells and whistles (well, at least more than I’ll master in the next several years) and by pure serendipity the color scheme matches my axe.  It came with a pedal board, too, which, for the price I paid, astonished me.

I have every intention of getting down to it and learning some songs.  I’ve been playing it almost every day since I brought it home.  It is loud.  We have installed it in my office, so I can close the door, and Donna can enjoy it through the walls and floor.  It’s more than I need.

I did not buy the Ferrari.  I’m having a much more modest midlife, er, crisis.  More a midlife ruffle, really.  Despite my complaining, I’m a reasonably happy guy.  Hell, I’m still alive, which after last year’s little contretemps is a very positive thing.

I’ve been finding online lessons.  Stumbled on a guitar player of some considerable merit who does instructional videos, although I can barely keep up.  (He tends to assume you already know the rudiments.)  So I thought I’d put one here just to show you how far out of reach my aspirations go.

Till I started surfing for this kind of thing I’d never heard of this guy.  (Told you I’ve kind of been out of it for a while.)  Turns out he did a turn with Asia.  Yeah, Heat of the Moment Asia, but an incarnation with only one original member, Geoffrey Downes.  I’m trying to imagine what they must’ve sounded like with this guy.

Anyway, I’m dipping into his how-to vids.  He reminds me a lot of Ian Anderson.

Anyway, I must now get back to the start-up of my second half-century.  Stay tuned.


I’ve been a bit dissatisfied with my blog of late.  I keep finding themes I like, then when the updates come through and I click on them, the pages disappear.  I’d have to go into the guts of things on my server and delete the old and re-install it, the damn thing won’t just update like it should.

But I get to try out new looks as a result.  I’ll try this one for a while and see how I like it.  My archive links have disappeared, which really annoys me, but I’ll figure it out.

I get a day off tomorrow.  I’ll write something more meaningful then.  Till, then…

Spoiled Children

“If I don’t get my way I’m gonna hold my breath till I turn blue and die!

Or some variation thereof.

Am I talking about children?  Of a sort.  I’m talking about congressional Republicans, actually, because that’s about what this current confrontation amounts to.

Very simply, there is a rock-solid block of opposition to President Obama that can only be described as perverse.  Nothing he does is acceptable to a certain cadre of these folks, even if it was originally an idea from the GOP.

When the ACA was being constructed, they derailed single payer, brought in industry deal-breakers, did everything they could to make sure their constituents (read: Big Pharma, Big Med, etc) continued to receive inordinately large slices of the health care spending pie at the expense of a sane program, and, under Obama’s direction, assembled this lurching Frankenstein critter themselves, and have been bitching about it ever since.  They did not want to pass any kind of national health care program, in fact they wanted to take apart the existing ones (MediCare and, most especially, MedicAid), and maybe they thought Obama would veto the beast they built.

He didn’t.  It actually has a lot in it that has turned out to be popular.  That which may be less so or may not work well, will be corrected over time, just like every other program of this sort.  MediCare/MedicAid was a stumbling mess when it was first enacted, but over time it has been modified until both programs work fairly well.  (It took a Republican to recomplicate matters with MediCare Part D, but…)

But the fact is, this is the law.  Not only that, it passed Constitutional muster.  It is the law.  Not only that, the GOP ran partly on repealing the ACA, and Obama was thoroughly re-elected.  It is the law.  The people, in aggregate, have spoken.  It is the law.

Now, it’s not like we haven’t repealed laws before when they proved bad or ineffective.  It’s not like we haven’t changed laws to make them more in line with our expectations.  It’s not like if the ACA isn’t dealt with right now, there will never be a chance again to do something with it.

But there’s a method, a process, a protocol.

I have never liked the back-door method of defunding or underfunding programs voted on in order to keep them inoperative and cause them to function so poorly that people will support their repeal.  It’s a cheat.  It happens quite a lot.  This may be the most high profile example of the attempt yet.  It’s a tantrum thrown by children who haven’t gotten their way.

Sometimes you can debate who started what fight, but the fact is the House has voted over 40 times to repeal “Obamacare” and has lost each time.  How any of them imagined filibustering the entire government over this was in any way defensible beggars the imagination.  To then turn around and say that the President won’t negotiate is ludicrous.

Look, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the ACA or the idea of it, the fact is we voted on this and it is now the law.  Put your grown up pants on and live with it until, by due process, you can change the law.  Due process.  The system has spoken and you lost.

Boehner, for his part, is an ineffective speaker.  He cannot control his own caucus.  He’s terrified of losing the speakership, so he’s now in a position in which he has to distort the entire process to accommodate less than 40 representatives who are the well-known tail wagging the baffled dog.  In fact, he’s now putting forth such transparent distortions of the truth one wonders what became of the otherwise fairly reasonable congressman.

Obama cannot yield.  This cannot be established as an acceptable tactic.  This is the very definition of minority rule.

All because…

Well, there are a number of theories, but overall it seems because a faction has determined that, though they are a part of it, Government is incapable of doing anything beneficial and the only way to go is to kill it.  We’ve heard that before, from Grover Norquist, but even he is looking at these folks with trembling knees.

They bitch about Entitlement.  What is this if not the full flower of Entitlement?  They feel entitled to school the rest of us on what this country ought to be like.  As if that were not bad enough, they either have no viable vision for what the country should be like or their history is so flawed as to be laughable.  Or cryable.  They know nothing.  They come from districts so jerrymandered that their constituents might as well be clones.  They look at all opposition and see a reflection of their mindset without realizing that they are the ones who will or won’t do everything they accuse their enemies of.  They see the world in terms of conspiracy, in terms of destiny, in terms of some version of history that one might find in the cheapest sort of political thriller, unresearched and fecklessly inept.  They stand up for values of which they have no understanding.

They are acting like spoiled children who never learned how to play with others.  Even their Wall Street supporters are beginning to look at them with alarm.

They didn’t get their way.  Now nobody will get what they want.

I take some small comfort in realizing that this, too, will pass, and they will enter the history along with other factions of discord and ineptness.  I’m just waiting for their “Have you no shame” moment.

And if they don’t know what that is, well, that’s a big part of the problem right there.