A Day in the Life of Sound of Faith

July 14, 2010 1 comment

I was surprised a few days ago when I was speaking to a friend about one of Sound of Faith’s recent gigs. He asked how long we played for and for that particular event, a benefit for Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was about a 70 minute set. I then realized that in his mind, we were only “out” about an hour and a half of our day and he had dismissed it as minimal effort. So, with that in mind, I decided to give you guys a glimpse into what it’s like being in a local band and playing around the region. SoF played this past Saturday at a new church-run coffee house, Kickin’ Bean run by House of Worship in North Wilkesboro, NC.

9:00 AM – Wake up. Jennifer got up early with the kids and took the twins to a church fund-raiser breakfast. Alex slept in a bit so I got to as well.

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – We do various things with the family during the day. When we know we are going to be gone that evening, we try to spend as much time with the kids as possible during the day. I miss not being able to put them to bed at night, so I try to soak them up as much as I can.

3:00 PM – I head to our practice space and put new strings on the Les Paul. I broke a string at our last gig, the Make-A-Wish benefit I mentioned before, and have just used a backup guitar (my el-cheap-o Heartfield Talon IV) for practice. I was lazy, but I needed the Les Paul for the gig, so of course I waited until the last minute to get it ready.

3:30 PM – I pack up the 3 electric guitars (the LP, Hearthfield and my Strat), 1 acoustic (Alvarez), pedal board, guitar stand, cables, and band merchandise and got them ready to load up.

3:40PM – Sean (Bassist) arrives. He and I load all of the guitars, amps, effects, drums, keyboard, stands, merchandise and video equipment into the 2 vehicles for transport. For this gig, we were using the sound system from the venue, so we didn’t need to take mains, monitors, PA amps or the sound board. When we need all of that, we usually rent a U-Haul instead.

3:45 PM – Babysitter arrives. Jennifer (My wonderful wife and SoF’s lead vocalist) gets her settled with the kids while Sean and I are loading up. With both of us in the band, babysitting is necessary for every practice and gig. Most of the time we use family to babysit, but tonight, it’s a wonderful lady from the preschool the twins go to. She has babysat for us before and the kids love her, so it’s not much trouble. There are times when Jennifer and I have to leave to the sound of screaming 2-year-olds. We always joke that the grandparents will be like the ones in the AirTran Commerical.

4:00 PM – We hit the road. Our gig is in North Wilkesboro and we are shooting to get there by 5:30 and play at 7:00. Jennifer and I ride together with most of the equipment. Sean and Scott (Sound guy, roadie and all-around great guy) have the drums. Tasha (Keyboards and Vocals), Vicki (Vocals) and Joe (Drummer) are all going to meet the four of us there. Joe is a pall bearer for a funeral for his ex-grandfather-in-law this same afternoon, or else he would have helped pack and load up.

5:25 PM – Jennifer and I arrive at House of Worship. We walk in and are greeted by the manager / worship leader, Warren. The stage is nice and big and the lighting is some of the best we’ve played with. The coffee shop is bigger than it looked on the web site and would seat 50-60 people with more standing. It’s early though, so only the manager, a barista and one patron are there.

5:35 PM – Sean and Scott show up. They had to make a stop along the way and then they miss the entrance of the venue. Once there, we discuss the equipment setup and realize that the manager is not going to let us take the “cage” down. What is the cage? It is a 5 ½’ tall Plexiglas wall surrounding the drum set for their house band. The drums sit in the corner of the stage and the surround goes wall-to-wall with one section of the Plexiglas on hinges for a door. The surround is not that unusual however. We have played other places that wanted us to use a drum surround. What is unusual is the roof on the “cage”. Sitting directly on top of the 5 ½’ wall is a dense foam ‘roof’ which completely covers the drums all the way to the corner making the drum ‘room’ fully enclosed. The ‘roof’ is pretty low and I have to duck just to get to the drums. Then the drums are mic’d and run through the sound system so that the sound guy has complete control over the drum volume. Apparently the house band drummer is a bit heavy handed with the sticks and has little dynamic ability.

5:45 PM – Sean calls Joe to see how close he is and get his take on the drum enclosure. Joe is still in the Lincolnton area but on his way. He’s going to be pushing it to be on time. He says he will just use the house band’s drums rather than take the “cage” down and put it back up around his drums. He just wants some of his own cymbals and a wood block.

5:50 PM – We carry all of the equipment (minus the drums) into the venue and up to the stage area. I wonder how big we have to get to hire roadies…

6:00 PM – I clear the stage of any equipment not needed for us and then setup my pedal board, wireless system and the video camera (we are videoing this evening). Jennifer gets all of my guitars out of their cases and sets them up on the stand rack. Sean and Tasha setup bass and keyboard equipment. Scott works with the manager to see how the sound system is setup and begins tweaking settings.

6:25 PM – Ready to sound check… except, we still don’t have a drummer. Sean calls Joe to see how close he is but just gets his voicemail. We decide to do a preliminary check anyway, but quickly realize that since the drums will be running completely through the sound system, we really can’t do much without him.

6:45 PM – I call Joe again and find out he is only a mile or two down the road. I wait for him outside and give him the scoop on the setup on the way in. We all kid him about being a diva because he avoided the hard work and just wants to walk in and play.

6:50 PM – Joe tweaks the drums, sets up his cymbals and complains about the ‘cage’. Can’t say I blame him.

7:00 PM – Sound check for real this time. We go about halfway through Hand That Holds the World and then stop. Monitors sound good and Scott says the mains are right. We are also noticing that there are not very many people here. Including the employees, there are maybe 15 people not associated with the band here. Unfortunately this is not that uncommon. Although I think we are pretty darn good, we just have not built up a name to attract a crowd.

7:05 PM – The band, plus Scott and Warren retreat to a parlor-like area where we can pray before the show. We always have a group prayer just prior to practices and shows and usually afterwards as well. Warren leads us in prayer and then we depart for the stage.

7:15 PM – We play our first set. We are trying a couple of new things tonight. One is that to lengthen the set and provide some variety, we have added a few songs that do not use the full band. Each of them just has guitar or piano for accompaniment and a single vocal (in one case Tasha does sing harmony.)

8:15 PM – Break time! We are playing 23 songs tonight and the voices need a break. We get water and iced coffees, hit the restroom, and socialize a bit with the patrons a bit before going back up for the second set.

8:35 PM – Second Set.  One of the patrons has asked us to repeat a song from the first set because they liked it so much. We decide to add it in just before the finale. One of the new songs we are playing tonight, “Your Hands”, is with just Jennifer on vocals and me on acoustic guitar. I only learned this song yesterday and then not even with playing live in mind. I just liked it. But then Jennifer said “I have a great idea…” and now here we are on staging playing it. It goes pretty well. I change one thing up in the song and Jennifer only falters slightly. We pull it back together with little effort. I also mess Joe’s entry up on Mirror because I am distracting him with questions (through the Plexiglas cage)

9:40 PM – Break down time. Joe, Sean, Scott, Tasha, Vicki and I start putting all of the equipment back in the cases and taking them back out the vehicles. The manager gets on stage and asks for a love offering for SoF. It is a modest collection due to the turnout, but we have played for free many times, so it is appreciated. Jennifer does the PR work. She sells 3 CD’s, accepts one other modest donation and gets leads for 2 more possible future gigs.

10:00 PM – The band heads for Wendy’s. I have not eaten since a bowl of Campbell’s soup at lunch time and Jennifer has only had a pack of crackers since breakfast. We go in, get our food and cut up like a bunch of teenagers while we eat. Fellowship within this group of people is amazing and I am truly blessed to be a part of it.

11:15 PM – We drive home. Sean, Scott, Jennifer and I head back to our house since we still have to unload equipment from both vehicles. We remember it’s late on Saturday night so we turn the XM Radio to The Message Amp’d for some heavy Christian Rock to keep us awake on the way home.

12:20 AM – Jennifer and I get home and she goes upstairs to relieve the babysitter while I unload all of the guitars, keyboards, merchandise, etc. from my vehicle.

12:45 AM — Sean and Scott show up and I help unload the drums as well. They stood around talking at Wendy’s after Jennifer and I left so they were running behind.

1:10 AM – Finally get to bed and collapse. Jennifer and I have to get up on Sunday morning at 6:45 because she co-leads the music for the 8:45 church service.

So as you can see, for a gig where we play for 2 hours in front of about 15 people, I actually spent over 10 hours in all on the prep, travel, breakdown, etc. This is a moderate gig. We have played at times where the setup and breakdown were so minimal that we basically walked onto stage with instruments in hand and played. Other times we take our own full sound system, which requires a lot more time for setup and breakdown.

But, I don’t do this because a get a high from playing in front of a lot of people, because we usually don’t. And I don’t do it because we make a lot of money. In 7 years of this, I have never taken a dime for anything I do with the band, except maybe for an expense reimbursement. I don’t do it because it’s easy. It would be a lot easier not to. I play in a Christian band, because I think we have a good message, and as long as there is someone listening, I am hopeful that the message is like the seeds falling on fertile ground. Where it will grow and we will be a part of bringing someone to Christ.

Harry Potter is not Evil

July 12, 2010 4 comments

So… I have now missed my first self-imposed deadline… Oh well… I had intended for this to go up on Friday, but my band had a gig and I got involved with my church’s web site and well, it didn’t. We can live with it just this once right?

I was speaking to a fellow parishioner at my church a couple of years ago, when one of the Harry Potter movies (I think it was Order of the Phoenix) was being released, about whether they were going to take their children to go see it.  Their children at the time were pre-teen and perhaps unsurprisingly, they said “no” because they felt it was inappropriate. Well, the movie is rated PG-13, and has some violence and can been pretty intense, so I didn’t think a lot about it until I spoke about it to someone else, also a pretty close friend. Their response: “Harry Potter performs sorcery and you know where that kind of power comes from.”  Their concern was not about the things that made the film PG-13, it was because the main character, the good-guy used magic.

So, here we are on the brink of a new Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows which comes out this fall. So I suppose the question still remains: As a Christian is it wrong to see the movie, or let my children see it? Well, I am not much for suspense, so I will say right away: “No, I don’t think so”. By saying so, I am sure that it will trouble those who feel like my friend above, but keep reading, because you might learn something.

I must make one disclaimer right up front. My oldest child is five, so no; my children will not be watching Harry Potter for a little while at least. We’ll stick to Pixar and Veggietales for now.  Not because of any perceived evil or stain to their Christian beliefs, but because I just don’t think it is appropriate for children that age. But, this question is not just about Harry Potter, right? If you take the argument to its logical extent, any main character that uses magic of some sort would not be appropriate for a Christian child. The list of banned TV shows and movies would include, but not be limited to: Witches of Waverly Place, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Lord of the Rings, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Pokemon, Fantasia and even The Smurfs (Papa Smurf was a wizard). So, we can certainly find from that list age-appropriate material to discuss.  And no, I do not feel like Mickey Mouse or Papa Smurf are inappropriate for my five-year old. In fact, I cannot remember ever speaking to someone who did. So why the inconsistency?

I get questions from my oldest son all the time such as “Are there bad guys in real life?” or “Are there really such things as aliens?” and I always do my best to answer him in a way that is truthful and makes sense to a 5-year-old without being too frightening. I don’t lie (Except maybe about Santa and the Easter Bunny) and I don’t say I don’t know when I do. So I am very prepared to discuss things like Papa Smurf or Harry Potter with my son and help him to understand the differences between truth and fiction and what is acceptable behavior verses what he sees on TV. I have no problem with him seeing a TV show with someone who performs magic, but I don’t want him to go and try it himself. (I feel the same way about high-explosives) I’m not talking about card tricks and disappearing hankies; he loves that kind of stuff. I just don’t want him thinking he is “casting spells” and the like. I know that he can distinguish TV from reality. How do I know? Because we talk about it and I do my job as a father to help him understand.

It seems that many people are not willing to have these types of discussions with their children. It is certainly much easier for them to block out an entire section of popular TV and film and then they don’t have to talk about it. Except… their kids will see it eventually anyway, and since the parents banned it, it will not be under their supervision. It will have been made into a forbidden fruit, and the kids will bite. The parents will not be there to discuss it with them, and since they didn’t take the opportunity to discuss it before, the children will not have the foundational beliefs that could have been provided.

It’s not the easy way, but communication and honest discussion with your children is the best way to instill in them your belief system. Sheltering them from things like magic in a movie will not help them make good decisions when confronted with decisions in real life. But if you can discuss and help them understand what they see, they will be much better prepared when they have to make choices on their own.

I think somewhere along the way , someone decided that Harry Potter was a good example to make and said to their friend “I won’t take my kids to see Harry Potter because he does magic… and that’s bad.”  And their friend had kids and suddenly felt guilty because they had planned to see it, so they said “Oh yeah, of course not.” and cancelled their plans. Before you knew it families in churches everywhere were saying “No” to Harry Potter and instead taking their kids to see movies with talking animals and vegetables and… wait, now where does that power come from?

Newsflash – I Love My Wife

July 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I am constantly surprised when people don’t see things the same way I do. That sounds a bit egotistical, and maybe it is, but frequently I hear my friends and coworkers say things that seem perfectly reasonable to them and blow me away with what it says about them. One friend holds a months-long grudge against his in-laws and takes it out on his wife with verbal abuse. Another has started ignoring his wife’s concerns because he says it never changes no matter what he does. A third wants to “get-back” at her spouse because he did something she didn’t want him to do, but never actually told him. The more I hear these types of things, the more I begin to wonder if my way of going about my marriage is actually in a minority.

When my wife Jennifer and I began dating in 2001, we both had some baggage from previous marriages. As it began getting serious, we decided to set a few ground rules. The first of which was complete honesty. A few years into Jennifer’s first marriage, her husband had given her a line which included “I didn’t tell you that before we got married because I was afraid you wouldn’t marry me”. In my own first round, I had been known to lie or hide things in order to prevent conflict or because I was not comfortable sharing bad news. So we decided that there would be none of that is this relationship. I made it my goal to tell Jennifer about every skeleton in my closet. I wasn’t trying to frighten her away, but I didn’t want her to get surprised by something later. Needless to say, (why is it that we use the phrase “Needless to say” and then always say it anyway?) I didn’t scare her off.  Even today, when something unpleasant happens, my brain’s initial reaction is to start forming a “story” but then I remember our agreement and immediately try to find the best way to break the truth instead.

The second rule we live our relationship by is that we allow no “game-playing”. When I say game-playing, I mean those little score keeping games that so many couples do, even subconsciously. It goes from the minor issue (I’m not cooking supper tonight because he didn’t mow the yard) to the extreme (She cheated so I will too and get back at her). So often I hear these sorts of things going on in others lives and the people involved don’t usually understand how destructive those behaviors are. When you enter marriage, it is not the whistle starting the game or green flag for a race. Marriage should not leave you feeling like you are ahead or behind. It is a zero-sum cooperative relationship, or at least it should be, not a competition. If you are feeling behind, you should be able to ask for help, or forgiveness or whatever it takes because you trust and love your spouse and want to make the relationship stronger. And what if you are feeling ahead? Well, then instead of feeling superior, you need to slow down and help the one behind catch up, for the same reason, because you love and respect them and want to make the marriage better.  The goal in marriage is not to score the most points, but instead to throw to scorecard out the window and treat yourselves as two parts of a single whole. Then it makes no sense to complete.

The final one of our ground rules, and one which may be the most important to Jennifer and I, is that we do not expect each other to read minds. It is not fair to a spouse when the excuse “You should have known” is used, especially if you have an opportunity to make sure they do know. If Jennifer wants me to wash the dishes, she asks me to. If I want her to stop by the store on the way home, I bring it up. Sounds easy huh? Obviously, there are certain things you don’t need a reminder for. Don’t cheat on your wife; don’t leave the house naked; those sorts of things. The crazy thing is that fights start all of the time over the mundane things like the dishes. I have heard ladies tell their girlfriends about how they didn’t want their husband to play golf on a certain day, and then not speak to him afterwards and leave him completely dumbfounded as to why. I know a fellow who will not give his wife compliments, because he is too “manly” for that sort of thing, but assumes she knows he thinks it. C’mon folks, it is really not that hard. Just assume your spouse doesn’t know unless you tell them. It solves so many issues that you wouldn’t believe!

The reason that these ground rules work for Jennifer and I is that we see our relationship as a 50/50 partnership. We love and respect each other and we realize than anything that tears one of us down tears us both down, and anything that builds one of us up, does the same for the other. So, newsflash! I love my wife. I’m not too macho to say it honestly. I don’t play games or love conditionally, and I don’t expect her to read my mind and use that as a measuring stick to see how much she loves me. What a concept!

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What is Common Sense Passion?

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

I would love to start this entry with a line like “People frequently ask me…” or “My most common request is…” but being that the blog is less than a week old, I will forgo those overused phrases and begin with…

I am sure that some are wondering why I would name my blog Common Sense Passion or what it even means. So, I’ll tell you a little story of where the name came from, and what it means to me.

In addition to being a blog writer, I am also a songwriter. No, neither has ever made me a penny, but both give me great enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction and self-worth. A few weeks ago, I finished reading a book entitled Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting: 126 Proven Techniques for Writing Songs That Sell and had decided to follow one of the exercises listed within. The idea was to make a list of song titles, with nothing else in mind other than just interesting, intriguing titles. So I did and throughout the day, when I would think of one I would write it down. Whether I thought it was good or not, I put it on the list. By the end of the day I had a list of 83 song titles, such as The Space Between the Notes, Pseudolife, and (you guessed it) Common Sense Passion.

When it was time for me to choose a name for this blog, I decided to go back and look at this list and see if anything stood out, and CSP did. I had remembered when I had added it to the list what I was thinking; that many people have a tendency to become very passionate about some pretty odd things. I have read and seen how people would break down into tears in the presence of Michael Jackson, or would become so embroiled in work, video games, or other things that they completely neglect their families and friends. What I really wished was that more people would become passionate about the things that really mattered.

I ended up choosing Common Sense Passion, because I realized that it described very well my motivation for blogging in the first place. I am not an extremist. You will not read articles from me proclaiming that Obama is a terrorist or not eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the U.S. You won’t see anything citing grand government conspiracies, or New World Orders. I will not proclaim that Harry Potter is evil and bad for your kids or that peace signs are anti-Christian. The things that I get very passionate about are much more mundane, but also so much more important. I believe passionately that you do what you say you are going to do, from marriage oaths all the way down to lunch plans. I am passionate about raising my children, taking care of them and teaching them. I believe strongly that you should think about most things for yourself, and not follow the “That’s the way we have always done it” mantra. I believe passionately that common sense should prevail. Those are the things I will write about. That is what Common Sense Passion is.

Human passion is a heavy working charge of electricity, which runs safely and profitably through the cable reason; but, if the cable is broken, the current becomes dangerous.

AUSTIN O’MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

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Welcome to Common Sense Passion

June 29, 2010 1 comment

For several years now, I have been struggling with the decision on whether to write a blog. There is a creative side of me that gets immense satisfaction from creating something from scratch. Whether this is an application I develop, a song I write, or a thought transposed into text on a screen, I always have a feeling of accomplishment at having completed something that did not exist before my brain came up with the idea. It is slightly egotistical, in that it is a self-congratulating gesture, but I don’t think you can blame a person for wanting to be proud of their work, without relying on others feedback to have a sense of self-worth.

But of course that brings me to the next reason why I have enjoyed the thought of blogging: Allowing others to read my thoughts. Although I do feel a sense of satisfaction in writing, in the creation process, I do not think I would decide to blog purely to collect my thoughts on paper (per se). The whole reason behind the creative process is to create something that has never existed in its exact form. I would not write an application that had already been written, I would not write a song that already existed, and I would not merely copy someone else’s thoughts into my format and repost. The idea that this is a whole new creation leads directly to the next step which is to share it. Although I do not place value on my writing based purely on the feedback of others, I do want people to read my thoughts, interact with them, agree or disagree with them, be spurred on to new thoughts of their own or even be offended by them. It is taking my thoughts and feelings and placing them on display which both serves to make others understand and maybe internalize my ideas and ideals, but it is also through this interaction that I can learn more about others and myself as well.

So, I’ve covered the “why” side of writing a blog, so to the “why I shouldn’t”. Well, frankly, I don’t know if I have anything worth reading. Many of the articles I have read on writing a successful blog tell you that you should 1) pick a subject and stick with it and 2) update it regularly and frequently. At this point, I don’t know that I will do either. Regarding the subject, well, I have a lot of interests, some mainstream and some pretty geeky. I also have some strong feelings about many subjects, and I would like to have an opportunity to advise, educate and maybe even sway the people reading my blog to my viewpoints. So, I will not guarantee that this will be a blog about a single subject. However, some of the recurring topics that you are likely to see here would be politics (which I honestly detest, but have some pretty strong feelings about), computers and technology, on-line gaming (I play Everquest 2 and DDO), Christianity and just life in general, such in parenting, life in the workplace and such. As to the frequency of my posts, well, that is still to be determined, I suppose. My intention is to post at least two entries a week. However, I have a real job, am a father of 3 and play guitar in a Christian rock band 2 practices a week plus gigs, so who knows what I will actually have time for.

So, with these things against me, and seemingly already making excuses, you may ask why I would even start. I guess it’s for a couple of reasons. The first is that I have a philosophy of trying to figure out how to make things work, rather than looking for excuses to not do something. With that frame of mind, I will fail more often than those who pick only the low-hanging fruit, but it is part of what makes me who I am.  The second reason is that sometimes I surprise myself. When I joined the Mt. Olivet praise band (which became my current band, Sound of Faith) I said I would play guitar, but I didn’t want to get too involved. Today, we practice twice a week, play 1-2 gigs a month; I produced a CD, built a web site and helped start a non-profit ministry of which I am the vice-president. What I am curious about is if writing will take a similar path. But, the primary reason for blogging is that I simply want to, for all the reasons I listed above.

So, welcome to my blog. I have went ahead and posted a couple of old entries that I put in Facebook notes earlier this year just to get started and we’ll get in the car and start down the road and see where we end up. To close, knowing my philosophy, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

 “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

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Healthcare reform – The real issue with the vote…

March 23, 2010 2 comments
Note: Originally posted 3/23/2010  on Facebook
OK, I’ll admit that I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the month’s-long debate, votes, re-votes, and re-re-votes on the proposed and now passed healthcare reform bills. I’d listened to the facts, I heard from the fringe crowd, leftists, righties, conspiracy theorists, etc. and basically decided that I was not interested enough in the whole debate to get excited about it. I would get a little irked when I would hear “The government wants to decide when you will die” and other odd-ball interpretations of the various bills. Otherwise, I basically thought “More affordable healthcare for those who don’t have/can’t get it: Sounds like a generally worthy cause…”

So, on Sunday, when I heard that the bill had finally passed, I didn’t get excited or upset. If anything, I was glad that I wouldn’t have to hear the constant background static about it. (But of course, it will switch to something else soon enough). I follow CNN on Twitter and shortly after the news broke, CNN posted a link to a chart of who voted which way:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2010/03/politics/health.care.votes.final/index.html

This was when I got a little heated… I checked out the link, mainly just curious about how my local Representatives voted, but without a negative connotation either way; it was just pure curiosity. Now, there are 178 Republicans in the House who voted. Guess how many of them voted “No”?

178

And there are 253 Democrats in the House:

219 voted “Yes” (Roughly 87%)

Now, I do not consider myself naïve. I understand the elements of politics in the way our country is administered. So it is not surprising to me to see the two parties disagree. However, I can tell you that I was EXTREMELY disappointed in the WAY that they disagree.

Before I continue, let me remind you of what a Congressman is, or is supposed to be:
In the Senate, two Senators from each state come together to represent each state’s constituents on equal footing. (i.e.: California gets as many votes as say, Wyoming). In the House of Representatives, each state gets a number of Representatives in proportion to their population (California: 53 Wyoming: 1)

If you just read the above, you probably did not blink or think twice about how much the work “represent” or some form thereof was used.

Now the definition of represent: (the 3rd definition seems to be most applicable here)

rep•re•sent
–verb (used with object)
1.
to serve to express, designate, stand for, or denote, as a word, symbol, or the like does; symbolize: In this painting the cat represents evil and the bird, good.
2.
to express or designate by some term, character, symbol, or the like: to represent musical sounds by notes.
3.
to stand or act in the place of, as a substitute, proxy, or agent does: He represents the company in Boston.

So, back to the vote: I suppose that it is possible that each of the 178 Republicans truly believed that they were representing their constituents’ views by voting “No” and further, I suppose it’s possible that the 87% of Democrats who voted “Yes” were doing the same. However, I don’t believe that anyone reading this truly believes that. It is obvious to me, at least, that this vote had nothing to do with health care reform and serving your constituents and had everything to do with following their political party leaders and voting the way they say to vote. It doesn’t really matter if the vote was about healthcare, immigration, taxes, or anything else. As so often seems to happen these days, if one party is strongly in favor of something, anything really, the other becomes strictly opposed to it. It doesn’t matter in which party it starts. Unless it is just an obviously good idea, good will or has a ton of public support without much opposition, it follows this pattern.

There really is not a lot more I can say about this, except that I think that this is NOT what good representation is, and therefore is NOT what I expect from MY (yes, MY, as I am one of the ones who votes for and is “represented” by these Congressmen) Representatives. Let me ask you a tangential question… You hired a real estate agent to find you a house They keep wanting to show you 2 bedroom houses for you, your spouse and 4 kids, because at their real-estate office, they strongly encourage selling 2 BR houses. Would you keep that agent/reality? Of course not! You would find someone who better represents your wants and needs. The same goes with our government representatives. If you do not feel that you are being properly represented by your local, regional and nationally-elected representatives, you have the ability to fire them and hire a new one by voting.

I know that I plan to.

Finally, a quote from Albert Einstein: “When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

Snowstorms and Global Warming

February 11, 2010 2 comments

Note: Originally posted on Facebook on 2/11/2010

I was watching CNN today when a politician was being interviewed. I don’t recall his name, but he was a republican and was being interviewed about his stance on global warming, or Climate Change, as is the new buzz word. He pointed to the record snowfalls and low temperatures seen in the US this winter and made the comment “How can anyone think we have global warming when Washington DC gets two 16″ + snowfalls within two weeks of each other?”

Now, I do not consider myself strongly aligned with either political party. I am registered Republican, but voted for Obama. In fact, I am not really even picking on this one politician, since I have heard it from many and from media and frankly good friends as well. As such, I try to filter out the partisan things that happen in politics and try to find the underlying message or meaning… In this case, I have to say that “I don’t have a clue what I am talking about” is what was being said loud and clear, and it is sad that people with such a shallow knowledge of science and math are representing us in Congress and *gasp* making decisions about scientific matters…

So, to address his statement above, let’s quickly address his errors: 1) Small sample size, 2) Ignoring historical data and 3) relying on “conventional” or “party” wisdom

Sample Size — Somehow, the CNN guest today felt that 1 month of anecdotal data, cherry-picked to make his point, somehow made his statement true… This is akin to saying, that baseball player went 4 for 5 in today’s game, so he’ll hit .800 for the year, or I flipped a coin 3 times and got 3 heads so it will never land tails! When dealing with random or semi-random events such as weather, batting averages or coin flips, a large sample, say 100 years of data, 600 at-bats or 1000 coin flips, will tell you much more about the actual inherent trend or true-ability, than a small sample size will, because it has more time to “even itself out” or “regress to the mean”, in statistic-ease.

Additionally, he only focused on the US. I don’t know the answer to this, but I have to wonder if January – February 2010 has been abnormally cold for the entire globe or is it more of a localized thing?

Historical Data — I will point you to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) web site.

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/index.html

There is a lot to read there, but just a couple of extracted facts… Average global temperatures are higher now that anytime in recorded history and on a decade by decade basis, have steadily risen since the 1820’s and has escalated more so since about 1975.

Party Wisdom — I’ll just say I hate politics… But what I really can’t stand is when republican or democrat takes a stand against something, purely because the opposing party is for it. I saw a different interview with Bill Nye the Science Guy who said that he had been told by a current US Senator that his main opposition to Climate Change bills in congress was because they originated in “liberal-left-thinking”

C’mon guys… let’s start using our own brains up there instead of playing these kinds of games!

/soapbox off