Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty.

I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -- R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

I am incredibly fatigued. I spent the last two and a half hours working on an entry. Yet when it came time to re-read it, it said what I wanted it to say, but it was not elegant. Worse, it was unsatisfying and rambling and unfocused. So, I thought of "Bucky Balls" (that's a fullerene to you chemistry guys) and admitted I had an non-beautiful solution. Luckily, I can save things as a draft, so it may yet be salvagable down the road.

Perhaps next time, I'll talk about friendships. Who knew writing about morals would be so hard?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Starry Night

Breathtaking sunset driving back to Kansas City this evening. Made me wish for a nice camera to capture such moments. It made me reflect on a previous trip across the state, when I had the desire to stop at one of the many "dark" exits in western Missouri, drive a mile or so off the highway and gaze at the stars. Regretful am I that I didn't take the time when I had the chance.

Regret is a funny thing. As defined, it is either something to feel distressed about, or something that one looks back on with loss. People often talk of having "no regrets". It might be terribly cliche, but it seems to me that having at least some regrets is not a bad thing. Dwelling on them, however, is truly a failing. Not being able to see beyond the immediate effects can lead to a "downcast" outlook.

Recently, a fellow "unattached" acquaintence asked if I was, like him, having trouble meeting nice girls. "Nice" in his case meant women who were willing to sit down and have a conversation longer than two or three sentences. He also regretted that he didn't take advantage of previous relationships that, in retrospect, turned out to be pretty good! In his words, "I don't regret what I did, though."

Part of my response was that there are plenty of nice women out there, a fact which I have proof of: friends and acquaintences have, almost to a man, married fine examples! Whether or not they deserve such luck is a subject I'm not qualified to answer. At least, not if I wish to continue having free access to the cookie jar when I visit.

And no, "cookie jar" is not a metaphor. It is a baked-goods container.

Regret: noun. A feeling of disappointment about something one wishes could be different.

Aha! Who now can claim no regrets? Regrets are byproducts of striving for improvement. To regret is to feel that further development is possible, but not achieved. One can just as easily regret not turning down the thermostat before a trip as ruing a love lost to carelessness.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Eat, drink, and be merry"

Sweet. Lunch with a friend tomorrow! I always enjoy eating a lot more with someone else around. A lesser person may say that he strives to fill himself with conversation just as with food. I'm not going to say that, though. No, sir.

Luckily, I know it's ingrained in my personality, and not a nasty symptom of living alone and talking to my shoes and old textbooks. Perhaps there's something in our genes (or collective unconscious, if you're Jung) that makes us predisposed to eating in groups. Perhaps it goes all the way back to a tribe mentality and sharing the wildebeast. Maybe it's a false memory implanted by the Restraunt Mafia to make sure that average food bills stay high? One can't say for certain.

The last time I ended up having an early lunch, I ended up talking for four hours. It's that same lady again this time. Do I have a prayer of arriving back home before nightfall? We always have an atrocious time trying to decide where to dine. Nobody wants to offend anyone else with their suggestions. Ever since Tippin's closed, where can one go for okay food and pie? These are the kind of things I spend time thinking about, instead of comparing genres of opera for papers.

By mutual agreement, we'll be going to the St. Louis Bread Company if no other choice presents itself by 10:45am tomorrow. It's the same location where I was a manager, so the possibility exists that I may see people I know. Now that I've been exposed and responsible for the care and maintenence of a store, upon entering a location (by default) I begin searching for things that are done well, need improving, or are outright wrong. If only I could make ridiculous amount of money by going into locations and evaluating them. Probably have to be an executive before you get paid for just writing notes.

Luckily, I can evaluate the potential dining experience pretty soon, and whether or not it's neccesary to pick somewhere else to eat. That's only happened with one Bread Co. I know of. I'm looking at you, Columbia Mall!

Sublime Symphonies

At the symphony in St. Louis on Saturday evening. Attended as royalty should, sitting in a box and waving drolly to all the peons below who fawned miserably.

My friend Mr. Lange called last week and asked if I wanted to drive to St. Louis to hear the Symphony. His wife (the normal symphonic partner) was busy with other activities, so I accepted. The concert was all about horn! A symphonic suite, Mozart Concerto #2, Hindemith Concerto, and the Dvorak Symphony No. 9. Good stuff. "New World" symphony sounds much better as an orchestra piece than it did marching to in on the football field during my sophmore year of high school.

Returned to an email from Austria. I've been toying with the idea of heading there, just because. My friend casually mentions I might chose August to visit, because the weather is nice. Oh, and she's going to be married. News to me! I guess that's what happens when we don't talk for a while. Couldn't happen to a nicer person, but I must say, it caught me off guard. Do I have time to brush up on my German before August? Ich rede nur ein bisschen Deutsch.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Falling to pieces...

I couldn't say how often I have the same horrible nightmare. It's all got to do with teeth. I've got a love/hate relationship with my teeth.

On the plus side, I was born without wisdom teeth. Evolution in action, so they say. Since they're mostly for grass chewing, human beings are gradually evolving out of the need to have them. Anyway, a stroke of great luck.

When I was in elementary school, I went out for baseball. All my friends were doing it, and I was eager to do it, too. Trying to remedy a live of no athletic activities. To make a gruesome story short, I lost a front tooth to a poor attempt at catching a pop fly. Needless to say, it gave me a flinch to this day, and a host of difficulties with this tooth.

The nightmares started right away.

The temporary crown lasted from 4th grade until my second or third year of college, when it separated during the night. I woke in the middle of the night to have it loose in my mouth. Needless to say, I wasn't happy.

Since that time, at least once a month, I wake after having a dream where I lose my tooth again. I have incredibly straightforward and normal dreams. Typically, I dream of waking up, getting ready for the day, eating, driving, interacting with people. It's usually indestinguishable from a "real" day. Then a single, small event occurs that brings me back to reality. It can be as small as someone commenting that I'm wearing a watch (which I almost never do). As soon as I notice it, I wake up.

The nightmares work the same way. Everything normal, until I trip and hit my mouth on the counter, or bang my teeth too hard. I have the sensation and pain of losing the teeth again, then I wake up. It'd be nice to get rid of these somehow, but I bet this is one of those "haunt you for life" things.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money"

--Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

They may not have written for money, but I do full suspect them of being blockheads. I received a card in yesterday's mail from the "Directory Office" of my high school. Yes, being class of 1996, it's one of those reunion years: time to update my information! I hesitate, though. Not because I don't like my high school...no. The address of the Webster Groves High School Directory office is a post office box in... Virginia? Strange, I thought for sure my high school was in St. Louis, Missouri. I must have been mistaken. No wonder that morning bus ride always took sooooo long.

And, however they managed to get my current address in Kansas (kudos, by the way), they failed the most important thing. It's addressed to Andrew D. Schwartz. I don't know who he is, but perhaps he lived here at my address before me, and went to high school in Virginia. And if it's supposed to be me, then how can I be bothered for my information if they don't even remember my name correctly. At least it's correct on my diploma.

On a somewhat related note, I received a stamped, hand addressed letter on the same day addressed to Andrew and Janet Schwartz. I haven't seen my wife Janet lately (or ever) and I really think she needs to start pulling her weight around here. Dishes have been piling up, she never helps with the rent or grocery shopping, and she must be cheating on me, because it seems like she never comes to bed with me when it's time for sleeping.

Even stranger are the contents: an advertisment for a store that seems to specialize in invitations for bat/bar mitzvah. "25% off MAZEL TOV!" (This particular mazeltov is a font.)

By process of elimination, my wife Janet must be Jewish. And not particularly observant, because she really should have had her bat mitzvah BEFORE getting married. Ich vill nicht vesn! Then again, maybe she was waiting for good sales on invitations. Nu, who could blame her?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Those who can't teach...

It's very strange, trying to teach instrumental music. With some students, the ones who actually want to learn, it's easy(er). All you need to do is tell them something, maybe not even explained well, and off they go! They've unlocked the next level of advancement and they make leaps and bounds.

The other kind of student is the difficult kind. You teach at them, and they may or may not respond with any kind of feedback. It may result in sound production improvement, or better musicianship...but odds are very little changes. I know I was that way for much of my formative years. Years worth of lessons would go by, with only minor improvements. I can't recall thinking about things very often, if at all.

Gradually, I've been tapping into that disassociated portion of my brain. I remember things told to me years ago (useful things) that I believed long forgotten. Suddenly every instructor I've had becomes helpful retroactively! How about that? I've "zoomed" out and can see the connecting lines between different styles, examples, methods, analogies, demonstrations, master classes, etc.

It's quite a big deal to find out what you know.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"O, for a muse of fire"

Motivations to one's actions are without number. Sometimes in my life, I have had cause to wonder out loud at the unbelievable course of events. Occasionally, something occurs that is completely outside of my ability to explain, or even to reason out. So much of my personality is drawn into trying to see situations from multiple angles. There are still times when I am completely at a loss.

It is my reaction to such things that I laugh out loud. Situations that are so ridiculous that I cannot wrap my brain around them. It is a paradoxical reaction, much as laughter can bring tears and its own brand of sadness. A friend called me on it, during the most recent such episodes. Relating horrible events that were transpiring to others, I mocked it with hearty laughter. She rightly chastized me for finding such levity in the misfortune of others. It certainly stopped me in my tracks: she was right! What sort of person am I to heap scorn on the mounting troubles of another? It is an ugly thing, and very weak dealing.

But I don't know if I could do anything other than laugh. This certain circumstance (which thankfully did not involve me) was so outrageous as to be inconceivable. For sure, I certainly could not even begin to understand it, even after spending many minutes picking it apart. It was as counter to the natural course of events as anything I could imagine. I could not believe that any human being would make such a choice! It was (and is) completely and utterly absurd.

And so I laughed at the absurdity. Misfortunes piled on each other to such a degree must be humorous. Surely no man can be made to shoulder such traitorous events; it is not possible.

It is more than possible: it is true. Most likely I laugh to keep from crying. It bars an onslaught of osmotic grief. I barely know this man, yet I feel that I should commiserate with him. It's not even the regular matter of "There but for the grace of God, go I". It is more that his misfortune is almost tangible to me. I must laugh, to distance myself and escape from volountarily lowering myself into the mire.

It would indeed be easy for me to be overwhelmed. It has occured in my past, too. But in stepping back from the tendrils of despair, do I count myself a stronger person for resisting a failing? Or am I diminished, for not exploring those things that move my emotions?

"I've never been able to plan my life. I just lurch from indecision to indecision."
--Alan Rickman

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Is it not strange...

...that people find safety in the anonymity of the Internet? I know many of the stories of people I've met through the Internet. Some of these stories concern details that these people might never want associated with them in "real life". My inner-psychologist finds it entertaining.

I know it has everything to do with being anonymous. One's inhibitions are lessoned when typing personal things onto a computer screen, rather like they are when writing into a diary or journal. The only difference being the accessibility of these thoughts: instead of worrying about a younger sibiling breaking the padlock on ones journal, the Internet brings global accessibility of information. From any internet cafe in the world, be it in Mali, Beijing, or Braidwood, public information can be accessed.

No doubt internet privacy is like the heavily encrypted transactions used in web-purchases: in theory, it could be cracked, but first someone needs to be listening for one thread out of a skein.

"Come away, O human child! / to the waters and the wild"

Old dogs...new tricks...etc. I always been slightly miffed that the whole "burning CDs" technology passed me by. I feel obligated to compensate by striking new ground (for me) onto the internet. I have no distinct plan or design for the direction of this blog. Like all things, I hope that it will meander its own way, taking me along for the ride. After all, I've kept a journal for 14 years; I'm quite used to pouring out thoughts and feelings that no one else cares about. This is just public, that's all.