Music and Guns

I am conversing with one of my shooting lessons students, and she asked me how I can focus on the target with both eyes open. I told her it’s because I was a percussionist in college. “What?”, she asked. Allow me to explain.

Reading music while playing four mallet marimba trains a specific spot in our brains. (I’m sure that applies to most any musical instrument, but I am biased.) I’m sure everyone has seen videos or read articles on how music affects our brain/hauser group, but I don’t think they know how beneficial music can heal the human brain.

After my stroke I realized that I couldn’t read music anymore. I couldn’t enjoy the thrill of a crescendo because that part of my brain hadn’t healed yet. It was just a group of sounds. I knew that I should understand the dark thrill of Shostakovich or Berlioz, but it just wasn’t there anymore. But after about 18 months, I felt that part of my brain healing itself. That’s how I knew I was getting better. A few months later I realized that I could understand the inner workings of a gun. And that also made me elated. The two things that brought me joy were finally coming back into focus.

Yes, most of my musician friends hate the idea of guns, but usually that’s because they typically don’t understand them. Most of my friends don’t like the idea of violence, even though the only reason they exist is because half of their DNA won the Battle of the Birth Canal because they defeated their potential brothers and sisters. (yes, I know, there was no gender as a spermatazoa, but I’m telling a story, so chill. [lol… that’s the name of my next percussion piece. 🤣🤣🤣 Battle of the Birth Canal, I crack me up.])

So, yeah, I was a musician since age 4 when I got a tiny, 18-key toy piano and it just spoke to me. I joined the military because I wanted to defeat those bad “terrorists” and then I realized that every war we fight is simply a war of greed. (Most all wars are all about greed. Don’t get me started.) So now I keep doing the things that I love to do, and two of those three things are music and shooting. (The third thing is nunya.)

Maybe some of my life choices upset some of you.

Don’t care.

Maybe some of you don’t like the fact that I’d be willing to lay my life on the line for yours even though you may enjoy being a dick.

Don’t care.

Why?

There are three types of people in the world. Wolves (bullies), sheep (civilians), and sheepdogs (military, police, firefighters). (See: Tim Larkin – https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=1191260626.) Everyone is born as a sheep, but there are some who find fulfillment in protecting the herd so the sheep can continue to frolic and play with no care in the world. (And there is nothing wrong with being a sheep in this context. Just know that it’s OK to not be one of those three protectors. Totally cool.) And know that those protectors have flaws just like the rest of us. (Typically because of greed, but that’s for another post.) And because of these protectors, my fellow human beings can carry on with their lives and continue to strive for happiness with the understanding that, with every breath they take, those protectors are keeping the wolves at bay.

So, how can I focus on my surroundings and the target and the sounds of the range and the potential dangers therein? Because being a musician opens up more possibilities of improvisation and tactile awareness in every facet of my life. Everyone should take some sort of self-defense class, and everyone should take a fine art class, (in my almost always correct and well-informed, humble opinion.)

Finally, be patient with your fellow human beings, and don’t be a dick (wolf).

—–

P.S. The fine arts are a necessary aspect of the human experience. Go watch a play or go to an art exhibit or a symphony concert. Open up your mind to new experiences that can help you experience life through others’ creativity, and then create something yourself. It will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.

Take care of this planet.

(Taken from a blog post from three years ago.)

I finally have time to spout my opinions on this winter vortex, so please enjoy. Or move on. Especially if you still believe the earth galaxy and universe are all less than 100,000 years old. This won’t be for you unless you’d like to learn a little real science. 🙂

So, the earth has been through four or five ice ages, (depending on the scientific community to which one subscribes), and it was supposed to start its latest one about 10,000-25,000 years ago, (see first parenthetical). What’s causing the earth to delay the latest ice age? In my humble, unassailable, highly-informed opinion: two things could be causing it.

  1. After each peak of ice coverage in each ice age as the ice started to melt away, CO2 levels peaked [relatively] shortly thereafter, then receded. After the last ice age one major thing sticks out: Us. We started farming, cutting down trees, etc. which released all of the CO2, that plants normally hold inside, into the atmosphere. Core samples show that after the last ice age CO2 levels rose to the [relatively] same peak, but haven’t yet receded and have trended up and down over the past 40,000 years depending on population density and such. Could this be playing a factor in the delay of the tardy ice age? Possibly. Could the recent and sudden cold snaps be a precursor to its coming? Perhaps. But we don’t know, because we’ve never been able to study an ice age first hand and carbon dating has a wicked margin of error. So we shall have to wait and see if the Earth will compensate and follow its normal cycle, which leads me to option 2.
  2. Now then…the earth is a really big place and has maintained an equilibrium with its passengers for a reallllllly really long time. Up to 25 different species of animals die off every day due to environments constantly changing and adjusting to the constant changing and adjusting in every single facet of this planet. Things that determine just the temperatures on our home include the axis of the earth (intensity of direct sunlight), the earth’s orbit (which isn’t a perfect elliptic but more like a drunken sailor running around a race track) the cycle of the sun (about every 11 years it goes through varying degrees of hot and not-as-hot) and a few other things I cannot remember off the top of my shiny head. The “optimum” combination of these variables led to the previous ice ages, and the internal things like CO2 levels were a by-product.

So with all of these things that humans cannot affect, is it possible that when the next ice age comes it will be more of a body slam instead of a gradual process because of humans keeping CO2 levels from decreasing like they historically have done? Possibly.

Do any of us know for sure? Nope.

Should we make drastic decisions about trying to control nature and bend it to our will? Nope.

Should we squander resources and be wasteful all in the name of profit or trying to be the “best?” Nope.

Basically what I’m trying to say here, is that we really are super young as a species and really pretty much don’t know jack about jack in the big scheme of things. But we should still be mindful of how our actions affect our home, while understanding that our home doesn’t care about us and is going to do whatever it’s going to do regardless of our wishes/beliefs/tactics/etc.

So stop with the “global warming” crap because if we hadn’t created global warming there’d be no New York City or Green Bay Packers or or or because the ice would be covering the majority of the northern hemisphere and you wouldn’t be here to complain. So be grateful. 😉

And understand that whether or not we reduce CO2 levels in our lifetimes or the next, eventually this planet is going to do what it normally does: float around the sun and not care about anything. It’s our job to care for our home if we’d like it to not turn into a barren wasteland due to our poor housekeeping. Aside from that, you should all move south of the Nebraska-Kansas border’s parallel eventually. Like…within the next 1,000 years or so.

Cognitive Dissonance

A quick but really unsavory progression for you:

When presented with evidence that contradicts something you previously held to be true, you instantly enter a state of cognitive dissonance.

**Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior.

Next up, you go through a process of deciding if the evidence warrants a change of position on the subject and if the evidence is strong enough, you would be wise to change your position. However, if the contradictory evidence challenges something in which you have vested your entire life’s meaning then, most likely, you will be subjected to cognitive bias.

**A cognitive bias is a mistake in reasoning, evaluating, remembering, or other cognitive process, often occurring as a result of holding onto one’s preferences and beliefs regardless of contrary information.

And finally, if you have so thoroughly convinced yourself that the evidence presented is not personally acceptable to you, then you unwisely end up in the arena of confirmation bias.

**Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.

So the question is this: will you choose to grow as a human being and become more intelligent and learn as much as you can in your lifetime, never being afraid to admit when you are wrong, thus becoming a fountain of knowledge from which future generations can draw understanding thereby leaving this world in a better condition than the one it was in when you entered it?

As Isaac Asimov stated, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’”

Choose wisely. 🙂

Bring our troops home.

I truly had a life-changing time in my tours overseas. I am proud of my decision to join the US Navy. I am proud that I built bonds with brothers and sisters in uniform that will last a lifetime.

But looking back at the missions I was on, the friends I buried and the veterans that now have to live mangled and damaged from endless wars, I will continue to petition this government to bring our sons and daughters home. Our military deserves our respect for volunteering to protect us.

That’s “us”.

We, the People.

But “spreading democracy” around the world and forcing corporatism in the countries we conquer against the wishes of those countless other People makes us the Redcoats. We aren’t protecting America by killing innocent civilians with drone strikes and washing our hands with phrases like “collateral damage.” We aren’t the world’s police force, contrary to phrases espousing philosophies like “well, the world needs policing and we’re the ‘best’ choice.” In the back of my mind I was hoping that Obama really would bring about “change” in this arena, but he, like every other President, cowered before the might of Eisenhower’s warning of the “military industrial complex.”

If you truly are thankful for the service of our veterans, then contact your US Congressional representatives and tell them to stop sending our troops overseas for nation building and world policing. Bring our troops home. Bring our children and husbands and wives and fathers and mothers home.

It is beyond time for that.