Closing In   (2016May17)


Tuesday, May 17, 2016                                            11:03 AM

SAM_2207I was always one of those too-enthusiastic people—teachers’ pet in schools, messing up on jobs by trying too hard when everyone else was happier skating along—you know, an unbearable eager-beaver—easy to trick, easy to tease, and otherwise—undesirable company. I’m the same way about learning and words and stuff—that’s why the first thing strangers and bartenders say to me is usually “So you went to college, huh?” This is funny in a sad way, since I never actually got a degree—in spite of several colleges and universities. When I was younger, still in school, it was “You talk funny.” or just “Speak English.”

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So, naturally, I get over-excited about the presidential election—a situation where rational judgement seems so obviously called for, and yet somehow precluded from the process. If the cable news shows keep repeating the word “Trump” a thousand times a day, every day, until November—we just might elect him—not because the man is fit for the office—or polite company, but because of the ubiquitous nature of his ‘brand’.

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I’m also tired of the cable news shows manufacturing their own reality for the sake of drama—no one ever mentions Hillary without including the words ‘disliked’ or ‘mistrusted’. But she just won another primary last night—if everyone hates her so much, why is she still the obvious favorite? The idea that this sensible, responsible civil servant might lose out to a nightmare-clown with delusions of grandeur makes me ill. But like I said, I’m too serious most of the time—some people seem to be enjoying the whole circus.

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I’d be one of them—it’s not as if the establishment doesn’t deserve a good kick in the teeth—if I weren’t certain that the GOP candidate is a greater threat to us than to the establishment. And Bernie’s no better—making a lot of rash promises without the first clue about the process of reaching those goals. Bernie is a wish-list come to life—he’s pointing out what’s wrong with capitalism—without any admission that we are capitalists, and that changing the system without wrecking the system is not something you can do overnight. I’m starting to wonder if Bernie Sanders isn’t just the second coming of Joe Lieberman—a Jewish Democratic presidential candidate who’s a closet Republican—and he’s just a spoiler for Hillary.

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Gandhi once pointed out that throughout history, in all the great struggles, good always emerged victorious in the end. And I can see how that might be—good makes for a stronger team than evil. But I fear that the opposite is also true—that in peacetime, behind closed doors, evil eventually and inevitably creeps in and builds a nest. Without any obvious call for self-sacrifice or any effort to act as a team, people have more opportunity to indulge themselves—and in time, self-indulgence becomes the norm.

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America has become so great, or to coin a phrase—‘huge’—that we can utilize a mere one percent of our people to wage global war—leaving the other ninety-nine percent free to quietly grub for money. It’s the worst of both worlds. I’m not a fan of wars or disasters—but it fascinates me that we are at our best in the midst of calamity. It’s such an intense heightening of spirit that if we try to act that way—in the middle of a quiet, peaceful day—we seem crazy.

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Just about 300 CDs—that’s a rough estimate of my total collection. I’m closing in on the last few piles to be ripped to the hard drive. After the months of ripping, I’m somewhat disappointed that there’s not more—the process seemed endless. But if you figure an average play-length of 60 minutes per CD, that comes to twelve-and-a-half days of continuous music—nearly two weeks of non-stop 24-7 sound—and roughly $2,400 worth of intellectual property.

Oddly enough, my first impulse—as I approach the completion of the ripping project—is to start thinking of how I’d like to burn new CDs of selected tracks! It’s a detail we rarely consider—to truly enjoy a large music collection, it needs to be ‘DJ-ed’ into interesting play-lists. Store-bought CDs have to be single-themed, whereas a listener prefers to hear a variety of tracks (and some are better than others, too). I like to hear a little classical, a little rock, and a little new age—sometimes I even throw in some of my own piano recordings. Thus, I have nearly as many CDs ‘burned’ as CDs store-bought—but since my home-made CDs are comprised of selected tracks from the store-bought, I didn’t have to rip the home-made ones.

When burning personally-DJ-ed CDs, it’s important to print a jewel-case playlist-insert—after ten or twenty CDs, if you don’t have what you’ve already burned clearly visible, you’ll go crazy—or you’ll end up with a few tracks that show up on several CDs—it’s better to keep track. Also, if you use a short label-name to handwrite on the CD itself, then use that ‘label’ as the title for your printed graphic, you don’t have to do a lot of hand-printing on the CD. Does anyone remember trying to print all the track titles onto that tiny square of cardboard in a cassette-tape case? I like having a printing press in my house—even if it is an HP.

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