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