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Music and Art


I know, there is a lot of really serious stuff going on in the world today. Sometimes you need some levity or you'll lose your mind. And sometimes you need a cruller. A real one, like what you see here:

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These are crullers. A little crusty on the outside, a little cake-y on the inside, and a significant part of my childhood memories. Recently I was trying to think of something I really missed from Wisconsin, and this is it. When I left in 2010 for Denver, I'd occasionally get a hankering for a cruller, and I could never find one. Oh, sure, things called crullers. French puff pastry type things, or some twist donut, or those horrid Dunkin Stix from Little Debbie. But never anything like what I remembered. I chalked it up to Denver being Denver. Then I moved to Eugene Oregon in 2016. Still no proper crullers and no one has a clue what I'm talking about. So I did some research and it turns out that no one outside of Wisconsin knows what a proper cruller is.

So, I miss crullers and I'm trying to figure out if my mom can ship some to me. If you visit Wisconsin, add a cruller to your list of things to do. And stop looking at me funny when I tell you there's a bubbler in the park up past the stop 'n go lights, ya know?

Thanks to Jeff Foust for helping me sort out this problem with his post from the past: http://www.gojefferson.com/banner/opinion/foust/cruller/

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This Map Tells A Story

Wrong map, right map


We've often seen the above map of the United States that colors the states red or blue, or sometime purple, during election season. Since at least the beginning of the 21st century, as I can recall, it's usually looked like vast swathes of the country are red (or republican, maps used to actually have the colors the other way around). Sometimes you wonder how a democrat can win with the much red. People who vote republican are dismayed and blame liberal cities for having too much influence. However, that map makes us forget that we elect people based on population, not land mass. Numbers of voters, not square miles. Electoral college votes are given to states based on their populations. Whether you think it's right or wrong, it is also a fact that needs to be reminded that New York, Florida, Texas, and California have a much larger influence than Nebraska or Wyoming. Again, not right or wrong, but a fact you should keep in mind every time you see a map like the one above.

Nate Silver's Fivethirtyeight blog offers a map that is much more accurate. That gives us a far better snapshot of the leanings of the states. Each hexagon is one electoral vote in the map below. Here we see the actual weight each state can throw around. I won't offer any judgments about this situation. I don't know if "red state people" are under-represented, I don't know if we should somehow reduce the influence of usual blue urban areas. Ideally we can learn to stop being red and blue and just be humans. But I hope this map offers a different perspective.

(from the fivethrityeight.com page, 10-21-16)

Old Man

I turned 40. I've never been much concerned with aging, but this really affected me. Maybe because I assumed it wouldn't. I'm still moving forward, but I've had fairly frequent bouts of anxiety and sleepless nights. I've never feared death, I've feared not being done. I realize now one is never done and perhaps I actually have a very intense fear of death.

I can't really complain about aging and that's kind of a pain. All but one of my friends are older than me, so I just get the "yep, preaching' to the choir" or "Ha, just wait till you're 50." They aren't much help. I'm sure some things have been changing for me slowly for a while, but I also feel like I hit 40 and my warranty ran out. Things seem to just be breaking all the time now.

My life has never and will have a normal path. School, job, family, career promotions, retirement. Upon crossing 40 I've now really been forced to adjust my thinking, what does it mean to be an adult without the mile markers most people measure their lives by?


Advice for Young Musicians


Someone on LinkedIn recently put out a call for help with a project and I volunteered. The project was a question asking for advice to young musicians. This is what I wrote:

Don't be afraid to take chances when you're young. When you're 20 and have the energy and support at home is the time to load up your car and tour on the cheap playing everywhere you can, or travel the world, or go to college far from home (but take care of your health). By the time you're 40 life has a way of making huge changes more difficult, less likely, but maybe not impossible. I certainly can't stay up until 5am like I used to.

Be excellent in your craft. Practice with intent. Practice the hard stuff. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you'll treat every problem like a nail. If you're a rock guitarist, study some jazz. If you're a singer, learn an instrument. If your'e a trumpet player, learn some drums. Never stop learning.

Get a good job so you can can afford to pursue your own music. Yes, not the dreamy answer many want to hear, but honest. Only a small fraction of musicians get rich and famous with their original music, and it's always been that way. Having lived through the rise of the internet and the disruption of Napster, it's harder than ever to 'make a living' at music. It is, however, easier than ever, to make music. Do it because you love it, because your muse demands it. Be you and make no compromise, but be prepared for rejection, not everyone will like what you are doing. If unleashing your own creativity is important enough to you, you will weather the rejection and will know that you are the only person who can make your music.

Sometimes I think it's part of the human condition that we cannot take the advice about life we should when we are young. All that stuff your parents and grandparents told you, yeah, it's mostly true. But you won't listen when you're 20. It would be good if you did, but there's just something about us that insists we live through it before we understand it.

I wish it could be

I wish it could be just about music. And the art. But it isn't. It's life and everything else that comes along with that. As I've entered my 40th year on planet Earth, I am more certain than ever that I am not a liberal. I am not a conservative. I am not a libertarian or a green. I am a rationalist. And I am sick and tired of the relentless attacks from all sides on intelligence, science, and reason. The far left is just as bad as the far right. On a good day I can just make music. Doing the podcast helps, at least I feel like I'm doing a little bit for the long-term good of civilization. But the lack of thinking skills in America today is appalling. If you understand what scientific consensus means and you agree with the consensus on climate change, you must logically follow the consensus on other topics like GMOs and vaccines. If you think the government is inept at everything except hiding who killed Kennedy and how we faked the moon landing, go back to school. If you think your God commands you to kill you need a new god. I'm sorry this will offend some, but I am no longer willing to live a separate life with my music, tiptoeing around my personal convictions. If you are offended, perhaps you can separate the art from the artist and still listen to my music or look at my drawings. If you can't, all I can do is wish you well.

I do wish it was just about the music.

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