Archive for September, 2015

Years ago when I was still learning to play guitar; I know, we are always learning! In this piece, my great friend and musical soul mate Tom Robinson is playing guitar and singing. I play around with the harmony, not knowing exactly where this song is going as we play off each other’s ideas as the song ends. This is another very basic living room recording but I simply love the song and the textures we created around the basic outline of the song. I hope you enjoy it as well. There are a number of inside jokes and references people might not totally understand, but I don’t think that will interfere too much.When I contacted them recently for correct song credits the answers were definite with options available for future adjustments. Tom Gorman and Tom Robinson [for all intents and purposes…] wrote the lyrics. Music by Tom Robinson. For a little more history I will include a portion of the conversation for historic kicks and giggles.

(Co-authors) Tom Gorman to Tom Robinson:

It was I July or Aug of 77 at your apartment. ….. Your stereo wasn’t working, and you were tinkering with it. You began to make progress and said “We got the capability . . .” For whatever reason, that inspired me, and I wrote most of the words to the song, including most of the refrain. ….. You came up with the lines about (mutual friends). I had written “We’ve got to feed our habits now” but couldn’t think of anything else. You changed “habits” to “rabbits” and added the line about rounding up the steer. At a later point, you put it to music and added “Thinkin’ about our doodely doom” and “weekend in the womb.” You also gave it the title “The Round-up.” The illegal beer was the Millers that (we) managed to score on a Sunday when it was illegal to sell it on Sunday.

In another time long ago, I made my living in injected molded plastics.  Long history but the memory I told a co-worker the other day was worth posting.  As you probably guess, I am not a conformist.  I have a hard time understanding why simple things are done wrong and I have a nasty habit of pointing it out sometimes.

As a supervisor of a night shift crew, we manufactured large panels of plastic for assembly in auto plants.  The machine operators were opening huge metal doors, pulling out heavy molded plastic panels and would trim excess plastic with blades and pack the parts in boxes, to be taken away by other busy bees.

When I started working there, I watched what they were doing for a long time.  I had time and motion training from the old days and I was really curious.  One night, I went to the machine operator with a tall stool.  I suggested he do a few changes in the layout and process and suggested he sit on the stool to be more comfortable.   He responded well to my suggestions but told me he could not sit down.  I stopped for a second and asked why.  He was told the could not sit down at his station.  When I asked the long of it – the owner/manager did not think you could work hard if you were sitting down.  I pondered this for a few days.

Then the following week on the evening shift I went into the offices and took out all the chairs and put them in the warehouse.  When asked about the incident I replied that I thought I was doing as instructed and making the company more efficient since I was informed that you cannot work hard sitting down.

In retrospect, I should have been fired and should have thought of that possibility,  I did not.  But the next day there were tall stools by each of the molding machines.

Recently traveling for business I took pictures of the Navy Pier and the Windy City for my daughter, Teneca, as a reminder of her time there in the Navy.  I wanted to share a couple with you.


Some people are humans trying to get their kicks.
Some people are animals able to learn new tricks.

Some people are clever they know just what to do
Some people are sneaky and always out of view.

Most people are decent and will give you the time of day
Most people are ignorant of debts they should have paid.

Most people are honest till they tell you their first lie
Most people are lonely and will never say good bye.

All people are angry if they see things in black and white
All people are dreaming something wrong should be right.

All people are willing to have it their way
All people are upset when someone gets in the way.

You tried to tell me something I could never understand.
Wouldn’t know how to follow you if you guided me by the hand.

So many wrong directions in my ever-changing past.
Can’t guarantee to get there first but I’ve never been the last.

Your people are crazy going out all the time
Your people are busy but stop to pick up a dime.

Your people are active and find the right ass to kick
Your people are saying that’s just the nature of politics.

Young people are easy and got it all figured out.
Young people are forever and there never is a doubt.

Poor people are proven guilty more often than not
Poor people are givers and will share what they’ve got.

Poor people are many still there’s no why or when
Poor people are waiting for their savior again.

(c) 2011

Up = (#/Sharp). Down = (b/Flat).

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
C C# Db D D# Eb E F F# Gb G G# Ab A A# Bb B

There are a number of discussions possible here. My point is the rose is a rose experience from my own limited understanding. Music theory is not my strong point. I know players that are very specific in the reference of notes or the progression used when naming them. It does make it easier to communicate – – – – – – To set up this conversation let it be understood that any note can be raised or lowered in increments of half-steps. Take your Root note and play the next highest note and you have ‘sharped’ the note. If you play the next lowest note you have ‘flatted’ that note. Up = Sharp. Down = Flat.

Any note. Any instrument. Any Western scale. Similar to the reference in Tuning; if pitch is too high it is Sharp, and if it is too low it is Flat.

We agree on common ground for the Titles of the Twelve. Looking at the piano as my standard example we need to notice the color of the keys not as a place on a musical staff or its place in a scale but as a compact representation of DISTANCE. The chart above uses the shading to mimic the keyboard and is not compressed or compact like the real piano is but if you play notes to the right they get higher by half-notes. Color means nothing to this reference. We rarely call the C note a B#, and we rarely call the F note an E# but this is a similar relationship.

Above you see the black notes have alternate names assigned to them. One way to help easy translation is to keep with one designator in the project. Give the notes names that are one system and not the other. Various way to think of it – a rose;

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, Bb, B, C is a rose:

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C

is a rose;

C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, Gb, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C

Along those lines I want to copy a recent comment from a great friend of mine and frequent commenter on this blog:

The math is easier if you name the root “zero.” 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 (the major scale). You can add 12 and get the same notes, just an octave higher. Subtract 12 and get the original keys. There are only 12 tones on a piano: 0, 1, 2, …, 11 After that, it just repeats.

The Mysterious Twelve is represented this way in the chart above. Starting with zero would change the Safe Seven representation to look like this:


0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

This is true and practical to use when considering the relationships of notes especially when working with musical scores where you are talking multiple octaves and keeping the relationships common. For many musicians, songs can be described as patterns. For example, if you are beginning a Jam and following previous examples in the key of C, you could say ‘lets start out with C for a few measures, then go to F and then go to G and repeat. Ready, set go!’. The Safe Seven shows us this relationship as a number starting with the Root equaling 1.

The Jam could also be started by saying ‘key of C, let’s play a 1,4,5 progression. Ready, set, Go!’. In this relationship, 1 = the Root or C, the 4th = F, and the 5th of the scale = G. The next jam session might be in the key of Bb, but we can still state this as 1,4,5 and the musicians that know the Safe Seven in each key will easily translate. You would be surprised how many popular songs follow the 1 – 4 – 5 and similar patterns! Starting with 1 as the Root, allows this pattern to more easily translate to the Root, 3rd, 5th – as this matches the common chord progression associations.

The point being there are a number of names for our ‘rose’, depending on the need or project at hand. If we call C “C”, “B#”, “0” or “1”, we are still describing the relationship between the 12 notes. As with the sharps and flats naming structure, once we start with a system, use the system through the entire project to avoid confusion!


Still Turning (c) 

I keep looking through the blinds
Not knowing what I’ll find.
I keep looking
I keep looking.

I start walking out the door
Can’t remember what for.
I start walking
I keep walking.

I turn left then I turn right
Just trying to get it right.
I’m still turning
Still turning.

Spending much more than I make
Never have what it takes.
Spending my time
Spend all my time.

Think about it day and night
See it all in black and white.
Better think again
Think again.

I turn left then I turn right
Just trying to get it right.
I’m still turning
Still turning.

Looks good but sounds all wrong
Like words to a different song.
Doesn’t feel right
Feel alright.

Never know what the future brings
Tell Daddy everything.
You never know
You never know.

Once upon a time, maybe two
You love someone who loves you.
Save the moment
Save the moment.

Most of us learn as we grow older.  We learn to read and write and all the social things we need to know in order to survive day to day life.  We also learn how to avoid doing really stupid things that might hurt others, embarrass us for the rest of our lives …. or possibly; get us killed.                                                                                      

In my past life I worked in the plastics injection molding business.  Probably because I had the musicians ability to stay up late, I was never really bothered by working late or evening shifts.  (prospective employers please note:  musicians get things done at night!  Hire the musician – another tip for the wise)  My mind refuses to turn off if there is something going on.  My apologies to my daughter Teneca, for she has inherited more than her share of odd traits or habits from me.  There is a long line of them in articles to come!  As can happen, you get off work at 8 AM and you are wide awake.  It is like your evening, getting out of work.  Sometimes it was a drive to a park or scenic area, and enjoy the sunrise and watching the world wake up slowly; at first.                                                                                                                

 One time co-workers wanted to get a drink at a local bar that opened early.  There are more than you might think.  Things are different now-a-days.  It’s not like they have a happy hour, but we go in and have a few drinks after work.  I work about 30 miles from home at this point.  The rest of the story I will make short:                                    

 I head home but I am in no condition to drive.  Being much younger I was not prepared.  I took a turn a little too wide.  It was out in the country and no traffic, but I went off the pavement a little and scraped the post of the guardrail.  Being stupid, I kept driving.  I quickly learned that I could not turn the steering wheel to the right because I had pushed in the corner of the bumper into the wheel well. In spite of that I some how managed – in my not thinking straight frame of mind – to get home making all left-hand turns!  I did get home and I did not cause any real damage but I also learned a number of important lessons that otherwise could have likely killed me or someone else.
Hopefully, this is one of those lessons you can learn from some one else’s experience and not have to do yourself to learn!    


For me, the answer is easy, but I would rather have a few minutes to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about…..  whatever was on his mind.  I would not want my favorite artist, Peter Gabriel, just to sing a few songs and leave, But to have a short conversation would be memorable indeed! His creativity, charitable works and world views would make for a very interesting interaction. My wife and daughter would love to have him serenade them with, “Here Comes The Flood.”

What about you? Who would you want to stop by? What song would you want them to sing?


Scientists have been puzzling for years to explain observations confirmed by the Hubble telescope and other sources. Where does Dark Matter come from? What is Dark Energy? Why does the Universe continue to excel and expand rather than slow down and contract? I am no Scientist and I have no formal training in this area, but I have an idea of something that may have happened in the past that could possibly explain these mysteries. I first considered this when I was thinking about where dark energy and dark matter come from and of course what each mystery is. And not being a scientist I have no way to prove or disprove any of this and it might be easily proven or disproven by those with much more experience and training than I have.

So here is my theory or idea:

Everything we know, everything we see, everything we can experiment and everything we believe to exist, did not result from a big bang or single event. What if it did not begin with a bang but rather through an event horizon of a super black hole. The universe is much bigger than we can possibly imagine and of course may be much – much older and much more mysterious. When Matter gets squeezed through the black hole it creates dark energy and dark matter out of normal matter. They get dispersed through the emptiness of space and eventually fill the void between galaxies and universes as they are formed.Matter is funneled through the event horizon in a way that follows gravity polarization. This pattern encourages solar systems, universes, and everything in between to form collections like discs or plates rather than spheres. The enormous thrust of matter is polarized as it gets sucked into the black hole. As this was not a one-time single event matter continues to be pushed through the black hole and this requires the universe to expand.


 Sitting on the edge of a rainbow

Waiting for the storm to appear.

Thunder rolls toward vast blue skies

The rain follows soon: it is here.

Thick dark clouds swallowing the sun

Icy winds twist your thoughts each day.

Boundless distance: forgotten time

Watch as the stars begin to play.

I got hit by lightning

Just the other day.

The Port Hole opened,

And I couldn’t look away.

It called my name.

Every now and then

We see eye to eye.

The Port Hole opens

With no chance to say goodbye.

You called my name.