Posts Tagged ‘#politics’

Letter 307

On-street-parking.  I know I will get a lot of kick-back for this one but I think we should end on-street-parking.  Even in residential and business districts.  Safety issues, snow clearance, traffic flow, and maintenance costs come to mind immediately.  I know many areas do not have much parking space for residents and there are more multiple car families than in the past.  Businesses also benefit if customers can park right in front of their stores.  But I am not sure this is worth blocking local traffic including emergency vehicles, utility companies, snow plows and the like in areas easily affected by weather, accidents, building fires and a host of other challenges.

Still, if we are planning a city or community, let’s plan on eliminating this practice entirely.  Just think how much this would ease congestion, improve safety, reduce city road maintenance costs, allow for emergency vehicles and unexpected weather or unusual events and improve the look and health of our streets and neighborhoods.

Let me know what you think.  What would you suggest to your city planners?

Letter 306

Here are two little things that bug me about traffic patterns and planning.  Maybe it is just me, but if I am driving in residential or even business areas where there are a lot of intersections, I think it is weird and dangerous when you come to an intersection but the traffic coming from a dead-end street does not have to stop.  This seems to happen a lot where a main road ends in cul de sacs where the “dead-end” is only one block long.  Not much traffic comes from there and it is easy to miss the fact that on-coming traffic has no stop sign.

The second minor thing is when you have multiple lanes of road or entry ramps to a highway where the lanes merge and signs say the left lane ends!  Again this does not make logical sense.  Merging traffic in the US comes in from the right lane the vast majority of the time.  The right lane is the slow or merge/exit lane.  Faster traffic is encouraged to use the left lanes, implying they have priority.  Why tell a priority lane that the lane ends…… merge into the right lane……. and sometimes when you reach the end of the entry ramp you have to merge left again?   These little things just bug me from time to time.DSC_0010

Letter # 305 

I like to drive around cities and country sides.  It becomes obvious after a bit of traveling that some cities are better planned and have more logical systems in place than others.  I would love to have the ear of some city planners because it is clear they do not PLAN for growth and other transportation needs early enough.  I would like to share some of my thoughts with you, and hopefully you will share yours here as well.  Who knows, maybe we can get the attention of a few city planners while we are it!

One thing I would really like to see changed is the location of many schools.  I know there are good reasons, but all too often they are located on the main strip through towns of all sizes.  I thought about posting pictures as examples, but we have all seen them.  My guess is this makes the land rather expensive for all tax payers.  Or to look at it another way, the land is of commercial value and interest to local businesses.  A number of businesses could pay fair price for the prime locations and exposure the real estate could provide and that would translate to higher tax collected and business success in the area.

Now consider if the schools would be located a few blocks away from “the main drag” going through town.  Your children will be safer crossing the streets and playing in the area due to reduced traffic around the school.  People that are not supposed to be there would be more obvious if they are loitering around the area.  This would reduce risk to students.

Now that the school is not on the main road, traffic flow will be improved by not restricting speeds in school zones, reducing congestion in parts of town most people will have to travel through daily or at least quite often.  I understand this might mean a loss of revenue by reducing speeding violations through school zones, but I think we can live with that!

What do you think?  Do you see more reasons to adopt this policy?  Do you think there are reasons or situations where this would not be beneficial?

Let me know what bothers you about travel through your city and in other locations.  Who knows, maybe we can suggest changes that will help a lot of people.

I drift in thought again as I look out the home office window.  I send my wife a text while she is at work.   “… odd seeing daffodils and green grass with heavy snow fall mid-April ….”

For decades we have been feeding corn and seeds to the local white-tailed deer that live in an ever decreasing amount of free land near our house.  They have flourished here for many, many years.  I used to think they would be here long after I die.  I fear now that they will soon be forced out or killed and will no longer stop by in the spring after giving birth to their young.  Each generation bringing their new-born to our picnic tables.  We recognize familiar ones and watch them grow: then disappear.

We have witnessed within the span of a generation urban sprawl and light pollution making stars all but invisible.  My new grandson will probably have to travel many miles as a man to see constellations light up the night sky.  So few in his generation will actually see the Milky Way – from Earth.

So much beauty and wonder reduced to vague dreams or myths heard only in old folk’s tales.  How many wonderful things will will soon be gone forever?  Maybe worse; people will not even know what has been lost.

That took courage.

I heard the other day that about 10% of people are left-handed.  This generated a few thoughts that I have been rolling around in my head.  I have been surrounded by lefties most of my adult life.  Sometimes I get confused and try to do things like a left-handed person would.  It usually does not work out very well!

Now, think about 10% of the population that most people perceive to be ‘backwards’.  In schools when I was growing up and long before, educators would try to ‘correct’ what they saw as defiant, wrong, defective, backwards (and the implied stupidity). Many teachers and nuns would crack a ruler over your knuckles if you used the ‘wrong hand’, or did not correctly follow instructions on how to do a particular task.

Unfortunately in this day of political extremism, I see many similarities.  Think of one party as left-handed and the other as right-handed.  I will let you choose which one is which for this analogy.  For many, many years the minority of left handed people were forced to conform.  This not only made them feel as if they were being unfairly punished but also made it almost impossible for them to excel and improve using their natural gifts.

When politics are split drastically, one group could dominate the other.  The traditions of the right-handers are forced onto the minority.  There is no concern or sympathy for the minority group and they will not be given the opportunity to voice their concerns let alone suggest alternative solutions.

So let’s pretend that over the last few years the number of left-handed people increased dramatically and now they are close to a majority.   The lefties are now teachers and policy makers themselves.  They encourage children to perform tasks that make use of their natural tendencies.  They pass laws giving them ‘permission’ to do what everyone else has done in the past – to be human.  They demand equal policies and fair treatment.

But the right-handers refuse to allow that to happen and believe it is their duty to fight changes every step of the way.  They see no need for change.  This does not help them at all and now they have to be ‘tolerant’ of these people.  They feel uncomfortable watching or learning from a leftie, and certainly do not want their children to become one. (OR MARRY ONE).  They twist the truth and use marketing techniques to discredit the opposition.  The Defense of Marriage Act is an example……. unnecessary as no one was attacking marriage or trying taking away any rights.  The people that were not allowed to marry needed defense against the majority.

Whether it is equal pay, marriage, educational opportunities, housing, jobs, criminal sentencing and a long list of other ‘privileges’, you cannot be a more perfect union and still deny these basic rights to minority groups.  Sure enough, one day they may be in the majority and will remember how they were treated in the past by those in power.

Left handed people are not trying to ‘convert’ you.  They are not trying to take something from you.  They are not denying or laughing at what you feel and believe.  They are not traitors or devils or the enemy.  They are human beings deserving of the same benefits in life the right handers have taken for granted.

I am a right-handed patriot and I approved this message.

Bill K No Worries DSC_0065.jpg

So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists.  The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared.  What stories do you include?  Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete?  Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.

Too many things to share.  If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous.  Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate.  Sometimes your boss is your friend.  Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?

No Worries.

I do not advertise or promote my recording studio.  Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people.  Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with.  Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended.  He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.

Before he came over to record I got ready.  I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics.  First; I checked the tempo of the song.  Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song.  Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out.  I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others).  I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome.  Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody.  Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.

This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place.  We all had ideas of what we wanted to add.  The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building.  I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts.  Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.

Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.

In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build.  The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops.  These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread.  I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions.  Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression,  (where needed.  I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.

At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it.  I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master.  I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like.  It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with.  We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake.  We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track      ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).   

For all of you; “No Worries”            © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016

 

Fact or Perception

As an update and a gentle lead-in to the title of this post, I recently put in a job application at the Sam Ash Music Store in Cincinnati.  I worked for years at a local instrument music chain a while ago (not records or CD type of music store…) and I also worked at an electronics music store called ICB Audio.  I thought that and my decades of management, sales and customer service experience would make me a good candidate.  I started working at Sam Ash about two weeks ago.  For me, it is like being a kid in a toy store……. because I AM!

So, do I feel like the employment situation is getting better because I now have a job?  In reality, unemployment rate is very low, and has been for a while now.  There are people still looking for work, but there are also companies that are looking but cannot find qualified workers in their field and/or location.

Do we feel that food insecurity is a myth because we do not see it in our neighborhood or town?

Everyone we know is well fed and has no difficulty getting their next meal.

Do we refuse to believe specific facts or national statistics because they do not apply to us?

I am glad to be working again doing something I love.  I will probably spend more money than I make as I have done in music stores in the past, but I will hopefully meet a lot of new talented people driven by their passion to make music for all to enjoy.

It is tough when you are unemployed.  For those of you still looking I wish you well in 2017!

I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

IVotedStickers640

In my last job, it was my pleasure to report to the president of the company and the Executive Team in regular formal meetings.  My part was to present the thoughts, concerns and suggestions in any and all facets of product, services or communications that interfaced or affected the customer.  John Larson was the president at the time and he formalized this process as “The Voice of the Customer”.

I was to bring up any issues that we heard in the Call Center, Retail Store outlets, Social Media, Live Chat and other communications.  As part of his directive, I would not only give him and the Executive Team perspective from feedback we would hear ‘in the trenches’, but also to offer suggestions to improve customer experience, relieve processing delays or perceived road blocks to any and all customer interactions.  This report included everything from product design, repairs, support, marketing, communications and many other company efforts.

In his wisdom, John Larson realized it was important that everyone in the company understood what we were all there for in the first place, and that each of us had a role to play in how positively – or negatively we impacted our customers.  He understood the Executive Team might think they are successful and doing a great job in their own perspective fields yet still fail miserably in the customer’s eyes.

I bring this up in a political climate where watching the debates (from both parties) leads me to ask two questions from my usual sarcastic point of view;

1) Of all the talented and educated people in this country, are these candidates the best America has to offer?  Is this really the best we can do as a nation?

2) Who speaks for Americans?  I know there are party-faithful people out there but when I listen to the politicians that climb to the top of the heap I realize none of them speak for me.  I have not heard my concerns reflected for a very long time.

I also would like to make sure you understand that I do not ‘buy in’ to the common and fatal cultural mistake of blaming everyone else but me and criminalizing others for our problems.

There are politicians – policemen – civil servants – lawyers – teachers – people of faith – people without formal religious beliefs – immigrants – poor – or rich – that are dedicated, sincere, hard working and unselfish in their attempts to do what is best, even though it is not easy and certainly not appreciated.

I would love to help.  I thought about entering politics at an early age as a noble way to serve my country.  I still do.  But then President Kennedy was assassinated.  Then Bobby Kennedy was struck down and to my horror the list kept growing.  As my last name is Kennedy, that talked me out of politics quickly.  Maybe I let ‘them’ win.  Maybe that is what they wanted.

And here we are.  Voters that believe in ‘democracy’ only as long as they are in the majority.  Only if they continue to control every aspect in our lives and can influence each decision to make sure they fit their beliefs or allow them to benefit from disadvantaging others.  Powerful people that feel it is their option to take as much as they want from whomever they can; because they can.  If you make the laws, you can never be convicted of breaking the law.

Does it make sense to elect more and more politicians from a narrowing list that only includes the wealthiest candidates?  Do we benefit most Americans when the rich only talk to the ultra-rich to decide what policies, laws and directions our nation will take?   Who speaks for Americans?  More importantly, who listens?

Listen to those with other opinions.  They are not your enemy simply because they have a different perspective.  Read more than just ‘bumper stickers’ to make your decision.  Go out and vote.  Pick the lesser of two evils until we get a real choice.