Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This week I am headed out to a family reunion. It will be held up in the mountains so it is being referred to as "camping", but technically we are staying in cabins so it is really the cushy version of camping. I am excited about that because I'm not a big fan of camping. This is kind of ironic since I have been a scout master for the last 5 years and average camping out about 16 nights per year.

The biggest problem I have with camping is that I find it to be counter productive. If I had to, I could survive in the wild like Bear Grylls, (minus the looking for every excuse to drink my own pee). I actually love spending time outside and getting away from the stress of the city, but at the same time, there is also a law of diminishing returns. You have to factor in things like squatting behind bushes to go to the bathroom, sleeping on the ground, burning your eyes with campfire smoke while trying to stay warm, and getting bit by mosquitoes. I'll admit that camping isn't so bad if you are prepared and have the proper equipment, but that's beside the point. I just don't enjoy going backwards.

Camping for fun is like undoing that which has already been taken care of. It's like pretending we can't walk and deciding to crawl on our hands and knees instead. I love kitchens, indoor bathrooms, and modern conveniences and think they are just as beautiful as any sunset or forest view. I'm okay with just watching movies that feature the great outdoors from the comfort of my bed as opposed to actually going there.

Some nature enthusiasts reading this might think I'm a party pooper or a wuss, and they are probably right, but there are thousands of women who agree with me about this. Unfortunately they also like shopping, getting facials, and watching the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

After looking around, I was finally able to find another guy who agrees with me. I love Jim Gaffigan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Band Dynamics

I am not a musician, but I'd like to share a couple insights and pose some questions about music bands. First of all, why does the lead singer of a band always seem to hog all the fame? I'm talking about all the Paul McCartney types out there who get most of the publicity for the group.

I recently saw a picture of a country music band and there was a guy on stage playing the fiddle. I'm pretty sure it was not Charlie Daniels, but rather some dude who comes out to accompany certain songs and has an occasional solo. It made me wonder how much money he makes compared to the other band members.

Do most bands split the money evenly among the performers? If they do, then groups like Rush must be happy to divide their income by 3 as opposed to Earth Wind and Fire who have to split it 16 ways. Moby is probably pretty stoked to be able to keep his entire check to himself.

This got me thinking about the pecking order when it comes to which instruments or roles are considered most valued in a band. I'm guessing it might be close to how I ranked them below. I apologize that most of my examples are from the 80's. I guess you can tell when I was a teenager.

1) Lead singer prima donnas (Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Bono)
2) Eccentric lead guitarists (Eddie Van Halen, Rick Nielsen, Angus Young, Pete Townsend, Slash)
3) Bass players (Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, Flea, John Entwistle)
4) Drummers (Stewart Copeland, Neil Peart, Tommy Lee, Bun E. Carlos, Charlie Watts)
5) Keyboards (This was a hard one since most famous keyboard guys are solo artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Chick Corea, and Ray Charles and are not really known for being part of a band.)
6) Miscellaneous (This includes back up singers, tambourine players, saxophones, horns, etc.

Even though drummers fall in the middle of the pack, I think they should earn more than the others since they are usually hidden at the back of the stage and because drums are far more dangerous due to the higher risk of spontaneous combustion associated with that instrument.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chaka's Chakras

The concept of energy meridians and chakras in the human body is something I find very interesting. Over the years I have become much more open minded to eastern medicine and alternative medical practices. There is quite a range of practices when it comes to Eastern medicine. On one side of the spectrum there are simple things like massage therapy and essential oils. As you move towards the other end there are practices like energy work, acupuncture, and even full blown witch doctors.

Some people only trust western medicine. Most of us think of x-rays, prescriptions, and surgery when it comes to health care. I will be the first to admit that eastern medicine can be an easy breeding ground for charlatans, but I also think our traditional health care system is frequently guilty of merely treating systems and over medicating people as opposed to focusing on prevention and creating harmony with mind, body, and spirit. (That last part made me sound like a hippy.)

The concept of Chakras is popular in Hinduism and Buddhism and teaches that there are 7 primary energy centers in the body. Each of these centers has an affect on various parts of the body. When these energy centers become blocked, then disease may develop. It's actually more complicated than that, but since I am still writing on a high school level that's the best explanation you will get from me.

I have no doubt that our bodies are composed of energy and everything we interact with is a form of energy, but I wonder how accurate the Chakra energy system is and if there are better systems to explain the intricate interactions of energy in our bodies.

I don't consider myself a new age, mystical kind of guy, but I find the concept of tracking and improving the energy flow of our bodies to be very interesting. I have a lot of questions and concerns about these systems, but if I end up figuring out how this works, then I may have to change the name of my blog to Chakras World.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Role Models for Scientists

When I was a teenager, I had posters of Dr. J and Michael Jordan all over my room. I wanted to do what they did when I grew up. Oh well... I'm sure others felt the same way about athletes or rock stars who they idolized. It's easy to capture images of athletes or entertainers doing their thing. You see posters or screen savers of Lebron James dunking, Travis Pastrana doing back flips on his motorcycle, Aretha Franklin singing, or Michael Phelps swimming.

I was wondering what kids who are really into science put up on their walls to fire themselves up. If you are an intellectual powerhouse and want to be a scientist or a Nobel Prize winner some day, what do the posters in your room look like? I imagine Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Steven Hawking are popular figures, but how do you capture an image of a scientist at the moment of his peak performance like you do an athlete? Maybe it would be a portrait of a person in deep thought with their index finger pointing to their chin. Perhaps it would be a poster of someone sitting on a distinguished panel of experts at a medical conference waiting to answer a question. I don't know.

While I was looking for pictures of scientists online, I came across this one. I know that there are many beautiful women who are also extremely intelligent, but I have a sneaking suspicion that these two gals were hired for this photo for their looks as opposed to their multiple PHDs. Maybe I'm a sexist, judgemental pig, but my spidey senses tell me they are using all their brain power trying to determine what color the liquid in the test tube is.

I love sports and entertainment, but I am glad there are people who aspire to more noble occupations. They may not get the fame and fortune of the movie stars, but they certainly make the world a better place. So if you are one of those smart people working in a scientific field, my hat is off to you. If you are working on a vaccine to cure the common cold or trying to invent a new energy source, keep it up. One day you may be everyone's hero, but for now I'm sorry your posters suck.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inflation and other depressing topics

A couple months ago I heard projections on the news that the cost of food and just about everything else would be going up noticeably this year. After spending time with my wife in the grocery store last week and watching her say "are you serious?" every time she saw the higher prices, I think that time has come.

The good news is that prices haven't gone up on everything. Some packages have just gotten smaller instead. I don't want to be a doom and gloom guy, but this does make me a little worried. Not so much about myself and my family, but more for other people That statement doesn't mean I'm well off or financially prepared, it just means we learned to scrimp and sacrifice a long time ago, but I think some people could be in for some big lifestyle changes and hardships if inflation really took off.

Speaking of depressing stuff, I hate stories about the great depression. They are depressing. Maybe that's why they named it that.

This picture still gets me no matter how many times I've seen it.
As bad as things may get, I don't think people today can make any comparison to the struggles and hardships people went through in the 30's. When I hear people say they can longer afford cable and now have to rely on Redbox for their entertainment or that they had to sell jet skis or a boat because of rough times, it doesn't even register on my pathos scale.

I try to be optimistic about the future, but if things get ugly down the road, I hope we are able to deal with them with resolve and determination while watching out for our fellow man. I also hope we don't become the subject for any John Steinbeck sequels. Sorry if I came across as Debbie Downer in this post. I will be more upbeat on my next one. I might even use color pictures.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Demands

Since I am in a bad mood right now and feeling kind of bold, I am going to make some demands. I am not a violent or threatening person, but if I was, and if I had enough leverage to be taken seriously, then these would be my 8 demands for the major world powers.

1. I want a working Tron suit that glows.

2. I want it to be illegal to show credits after the first two minutes of a movie.

3. I'd like a special space shuttle flight for my wife and I on our anniversary. I know NASA said they are done with the program, but it's not like they'd have to start from scratch to schedule just one more trip.

4. Speaking of space, I want Pluto reinstated as a planet and all the smarty pants scientists who demoted it to be brought to justice for their crimes against humanity.

5. I don't want people to be able to graduate from high school if they pronounce the word escape as "EX-cape".

6. I want my own cosmetics line. I don't wear make up, but I like the thought of women all over the world grateful that I helped them supplement their existing beauty.

7. I want someone to help me figure out how to make money blogging. It doesn't have to be much.

8. I want every VHS tape I own to be replaced in DVD format. I don't think I can bring myself to watch anything in VHS quality mode ever again. Was messing with tracking controls real or just a nightmare I seem to remember?

These are my demands. The world only has 48 hours to comply, otherwise I will move on and write another blog post.