Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"The Show Must Go On."...Or Does It?

Back in May I posted my thoughts on Jon & Kate Plus Eight, and that considering the severe marriage problems that were taking place between Jon and Kate, the show should be canceled.

Since that post, the show's fifth season premiered on Memorial Day to record ratings in an episode that really didn't answer any questions but showed the severity of the marriage problems of Jon and Kate. In the episode, Jon and Kate interviewed separately, with only a brief 30 second interview segment (that was aired) where they appeared together. Even during the televised 5th birthday party of the kids, Jon and Kate barely interacted with each other, and when they did, the tension was very apparent.

After a half dozen episodes or so, TLC broadcast a 1-hour episode on June 23rd. The episode was originally to be half an hour, but then was quickly re-edited to one hour to fit in a "major" announcement from Jon and Kate. The announcement in the episode was that Jon and Kate were getting divorced.

Since then, Jon has been associated with at least two different women, one of whom he was rumored to have been engaged to, while Kate has been photographed at home with her obviously unhappy 8 children. Since that episode, TLC has not aired any new episodes due to the show being put on hiatus.

As Maggie and I like to watch other shows that are on TLC, we have not seen any previews for any more episodes of this continuously dismal show.

Until tonight. As of August 3rd, new episodes of Jon & Kate + 8 are being aired on TLC at their usual time, with another one-hour special. Despite the collapse of their marriage, Jon and Kate Gosselin have chosen to continue their participation in this show that is leading to the end of their marriage. Even if it was just a question of when their marriage would collapse (which Kate openly admitted in one of her interviews, much to my disgust), it was still probably going to happen. This show only accelerated the dismiss of that marriage, something that Kate will not admit to, even though she admitted it probably would have happened eventually anyway.

My anger over this entire situation is too strong to adequately convey through these means, but all I can say is that Maggie and I have agreed that we are done with this show. Ever since the premiere, each episode was becoming less and less about the kids and the things that they did as episodes in the past had shown and more and more about the destruction of this family.

For that reason, in addition to Jon and Kate continuing the show to make money to "support" their family (or Jon's trips to France with his girlfriends), Maggie and I will no longer be watching this monstrosity.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Inspiration for the Day

I found some inspirational posters that I thought you might enjoy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Health Care Debate

There are two things that have dominated the news lately that, if you've been paying any kind of attention, you couldn't possibly miss. The first of these is the recent death of Michael Jackson. As tragic as that is, I think it's dominated the news headlines long enough. The second news item is the continuing debate on health care, which I feel is definitely news-worthy and should draw more attention from both the media and every American.

The health care debate is a very major one and one that will have impact on the lives of almost every American. There are very strong feelings on this issue, and I feel that it is time for a major overhaul of the American health care system. The system is very flawed, especially when it is hard for so many Americans to get health insurance because they have an existing condition that the health insurance company does not want to cover, or because the costs are too great.

Health insurance in this country grows more and more expensive every year, but wages have not. This is a serious problem that needs serious addressing, and it's frustrating when you have people saying to sink the Democratic health care bill so that it can be Obama's "Waterloo". This is an issue that affects every American, especially 47 million uninsured Americans, and you want to use it to destroy the President's re-election? While that's a discussion for another blog, let me just point out health care sank in 1994 for the Clintons, and he was re-elected in '96.

I was listening to the radio earlier today and I heard something interesting that got me thinking about my own feelings on the issue. I don't know who said it, but I heard someone on the radio say that "health is not a right, it's a privilege".

I disagree with that statement. You mean to say that every American has the right to own a gun that can do harm to another individual, but every American does not have the right to medicine for better health? I do believe that every American should work hard to make a living and not just mooch off the system, but some times no matter how hard you work, it's not enough.

A former co-worker of mine made around $1,000 a month. Her husband was laid off do to cut backs and so they lost their family health care plan. This left her to cover her entire family. The health care plan provided by her job was $700 a month! That's right! That left $300 for bills and anything else until her husband could find a job! She could not afford health care coverage! It wasn't her husband's fault that he got laid off, they were just cutting jobs! They were barely making it by, and who knows what would happen if they had some huge car expense or anything else happen.

I think a fundamental flaw is that the health care industry is all about profit. They make money from the monthly insurance payments, but every time they have to cover an operation or other medical expense, that's less many they get to pocket. They're interested in making profit, so what are they going to do? Find ways, a loophole or anything else, to deny coverage of a costly medical operation so that they can keep the money. They want to make a profit, like any other business.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I think it would definitely be a great help to take the profit out of the health care industry. That would require quite a lot of reform, and it would be really difficult to accomplish, but I believe the health care industry should be non-profit. If it's non-profit, it removes the need for the health care industry to worry about their investors.

My personal feeling is that health care is a right to everyone, if you choose to accept it. I hope that Obama succeeds in reforming the health care industry, but it will probably take a lot more work then what is going on right now. It's not going to be an overnight fix, but hopefully this will be a start.

I look forward to hearing your opinions on this issue.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stargate: Universe

On the side of my blog I've a list of my favorite TV shows. One of the shows I've been debating on whether or not to put on that list is Stargate: SG-1, starring Richard Dean Anderson. I've been slowly making my way through the 1st season and I've seen a number of episodes from the rest of the series. It's been hard for me to make it through the entire first season because it hasn't quite come together for me yet, but there are a number of really good episodes that I've seen from the rest of the series that have pulled me in.

SG-1 ran for (I believe) 10 seasons, lasting longer and airing more episodes then any of the five Star Trek series. It spawned a spin-off series called Stargate: Atlantis that last somewhere around five or six seasons. I've seen episodes of Atlantis as well, and I've enjoyed it very much. I haven't listed either series yet because I don't feel I've seen enough to really say it's one of my favorite shows.

Over the last few weeks, I've seen and heard bits and pieces about another Stargate series that is to start airing in October called Stargate: Universe, and I recently discovered this trailer online.

I'm rather impressed with how this series looks. However, I do have a couple of reservations. One of those reservations is that it looks like a hybrid of several previously down TV shows. One, the concept sounds a lot like Star Trek: Voyager, my least favorite of all the Star Trek series. That concept is not original to Voyager though, because I know that it goes back to Lost in Space. My concern is that this could go very much like Voyager did, although from what I've seen and read, that might not happen. However, things do and happen behind the scenes, so you never know what direction it could go.

My other reservation is that it looks like it might be a copy of Battlestar Galactica. BSG is one of my favorite TV shows and is, I feel, one of the best shows on TV in recent years. While following the tone of BSG isn't necessarily a bad thing, my concern is that it might come across as more of a copy of BSG then as its own series. I hope that isn't the case, because I'd like to see this show do well.

Stargate: Universe definitely has my interest. I'd like to see it not copy Battlestar Galactica, and I hope it becomes the show that Star Trek: Voyager should have been. Time will tell, and I hope I'll be able to watch it regularly!

edited in after I posted
*Ironically, when I first tested to make sure the video did link, the "message from our sponsor" video that ran before the actual preview itself was for the new DVD set for Battlestar Galactica! I don't know if you will all see that, but if you do, you'll get the irony as much as I do, and hopefully see how similar in tone it looks to BSG!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are You Serious?

I don't know how many people are aware of it or not, but during the 2008 Presidential election, there were groups of people on both sides of the political spectrum who tried to disprove that either John McCain and Barack Obama were not eligible to be President of the United States. For anyone not familiar with the American Constitution, Article Two lays out the role of the executive branch of the U.S. government, which includes the requirements to be President:
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Basically, the Constitution says that in order to be President, you need to be 35-years-old, lived in the United States for fourteen years, and have been born on American soil, making you a natural born citizen.

I'm not an expert on elections of the past, but I believe this past election of 2008 was a first for Presidential politics; where neither candidate was born on the mainland of the United States. John McCain was born at the Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, Panama, which was considered United States territory. This made him a natural born citizen. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

However, there are people at both extremes of both parties who claimed and some who continue to claim that neither McCain or Obama are natural born citizens. The argument for McCain was that he was not born inside the United States. The argument for Obama is much slimmer; that he was born, I believe, in Kenya, meaning that he is a natural born citizen.

Even though Obama produced a Hawaiian birth certificate during last year's election, his critics claim that it is either a fake or has been altered. If you ask me, this is a little extreme. It got to the point where these critics took their argument all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court did not hear the challenge. Even after Obama has served six months as President, there are stil those who claim he is not legitimate!

It has gotten to the point where I recently discovered this news story!

Whether this is an attempt to question Obama's citizenship or not, if this law were to be passed (and I doubt it) you can bet that there will be people in 3 years who will argue that Barack Obama is not eligible to run for re-election. Yes, that's right. The President is not eligible to be President!

I find this bill unnecessary. In fact, I find it redundant since the Constitution of the United States already lays out the requirements for this bill. Shouldn't proof that one meets those requirements be implied already? Why go through the process of writing a bill and passing it into a law when the things it requires are already required in the Constitution?

To be honest, I believe Obama's citizenship is legit. And I believe that those in Congress who are trying to get this bill passed are only fanning the flames, with the unlikely (but not impossible) intention of challenging Obama's right to run for re-election in 2012! It's more evidence of the various methods that those on both political extremes will take to win.

I'm disgusted at how increasingly divided this country has become, especially over the last 8 years. When you have Republicans saying that they hope health care reform fails so that it will sink Obama, when you have people hoping that the President fails at his job just because he's not of your party, it's a sign that more and more politicians and biased political pundits are putting political victory ahead of the well-being of everybody.

I was not a fan of George W. Bush. I didn't think he was a very good President, and I'll never understand how he could be re-elected, let alone elected as President, but the matter of the fact is that for 8 years he was the President. Like it or not, he was. But I never wanted the man to fail, because I knew that if he failed, the nation and its citizens would suffer. I didn't agree with Bush on a lot of things, but I never wanted him to fail at doing his job to defend the citizens of this country.

I want Barack Obama to succeed. If he fails, the nation suffers, and during these tough economic times, can we afford his failure? His failure is our failure. In 2012, I will do more then just look at whether or not Barack Obama was able to keep his word. I will take a look at why he failed. If it was his own doing, I will certainly voted against him. However, if it was the fault of others, then Obama will earn my vote and I will vote against those who are responsible for his failure.

It's time for everyone, whether Democrat or Republican, to set aside differences and try to work together for the improvement of the country and its citizens. Nothing else should matter.

And to those who continue to ride the Obama-is-not-a-citizen bandwagon; wake up! He's the President!

Friday, July 10, 2009

It Was Too Good To Be True

It was too good to be true, unfortunately. Anyone who has been paying attention to the side of my blog has noticed that I have the current baseball standings on display. And anyone who has read my blog in the last couple months knows that back before Memorial Day the Toronto Blue Jays sat in first place in the American League East by 3 and a half games with a record of 27-14.

Wow, how that seems so long ago. Now coming up on the All Star game, the Blue Jays now reside safely in 4th place (or 3rd, depending on how you view that 1st place tie) a full nine games behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (tied for the 1st) with a record of 43-44. Since that blog back in May, the Blue Jays has gone 16-30.

As Maggie said, I should've not paid attention until the World Series!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just a Couple Projects of Mine

It's been a while since I last blogged. Between taking care of Ally, starting a new job, going on vacation for a week, my two-year anniversary with Maggie (June 14th, btw), and starting a summer program at work, it's been a busy couple of months.

While I've been busy the last couple of weeks, I've still found the time to do some composing. I thought I'd share some of the things I've been working on with you. While I've mostly been working on these for the better part of two or three years, I've been able to sit down and add some finishing touches and am ready to try to move them on to the next step.

Of course, since I don't have an live recordings, I can only post the midi files. Please note that because of the funkiness of my composition program, I don't have any percussion audio. There is a part, but if it were played in the midi, it would sound like really bad whistles, bangs and other weird noices. My percussion parts might not be great, but they're not that bad!

Army of Servants
This was originally written two years ago for the Fairfax Corps Band. It was originally just for a six- or seven-piece band, but I've been spending time expanding it to Triumph series scoring. It's a collection of several different hymn tunes and worship choruses. The tunes featured are Joy in the Salvation Army, Onward Christian Soldiers, Make Me a Servant, On We March in the Blood and the Fire and concludes with God's Soldier. Don't worry, it's only a four minute piece!

The Potter's Hand
Based on Darlene Zschech's worship chorus, I wrote this arrangement in February 2007 for the joint Good Friday Service for the Arlington, VA and Fairfax Corps. It actually turned out pretty good and was well received by both those in the band and the congregation. It's scored for the American Band Journal. I plan on sending it to THQ in New York to see if it can be published.

Call to Praise
This is the big project I've been working on over the last three or four years. It's gone through countless drafts, many different forms in all sorts of different styles, until I finally have ended up with how it is presented here. It is arranged for General series, in other words, a full brass band. I took this with me to the composer's conference several years ago and had it looked at by both James Curnow and Stephen Bulla, who both provided me with valuable input. The tune featured is To God Be the Glory, which is the Fairfax Gospel Arts Clubs' motto, and if you listen carefully enough, you might catch parts of a popular Disney tune in there

I hope you enjoy these tunes, in their midi form, at least, and any input you have!