Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Hodgepodge

The past few weeks I have found myself not only feeling stressed out, but with a hodgepodge of blog ideas hitting me from every direction. So today, due to a major change in plans (the person I engaged to help with my pre-Christmas house cleaning didn’t show up) and being without transportation (the clutch in my Honda CRV feels soft and may be going out and my mechanic can’t get to my car until Monday), I have decided to blog these unconnected ideas. This may seem more like a half-dozen posts that one, so I’ll add some headings so you can pick what you want to read.

The Music of Peter Keane

If you’ve not checked out the links to blogs and sites I have here on Nick’s Bytes, maybe you should. For example, at The Back Porch News you would learn that Peter Keane has placed mp3s for three of his albums (The Goodnight Blues 1991, Another Kind of Blue 1999, Milton Street 2001) on his website for free download.

I'll admit that I had never heard of Peter Keane, but since free sounds good, I went to the site and listened to several of his songs. I was highly impressed! Peter does my kind of music—what I listen to and sing and play., especially '60s style folk music and blues. So I downloaded a couple of his songs and later I went back and downloaded all of them.

I highly recommend his music! As I am writing this I am listening to Peter sing a song entitled Illegal Man. While doing follow research on Peter, I cam across this at a site that describes an in-progress 60-minute documentary film about his music and life:

Keane has not been a traveling folk musician all that long, though one would not guess as much from the ease and comfort with which he seems to adapt to what many would consider a grueling and lonely lifestyle. He spent a number of years in the Midwest, honing his craft as a guitarist, and several more years on the East Coast, quietly earning his reputation in the folk clubs and taverns of the Cambridge/Boston area of Massachusetts, before moving to Texas in the early 1990's and beginning what seems a never-ending tour of the entire U.S.

As to whether the miles and miles of constant driving, from state to state, are grueling for Keane, he commented, "No, I've gotten really used to it. I look forward to it. At certain times, I get burnt out on it, but the more I've done it, the more I've gotten used to the pace of it. The long driving I don't like...but I've gotten pretty good at balancing and all that. Being in the car is a chance to listen to music and have my own time and my own space. There's something about being alone in the car." This is fortunate, as Keane spends better than half of an average year on the road, from he midwest to the east coast, down south and out west.

Peter Keane, is, by definition, a folk musician, though his influences—and, as such, his writing and playing styles—vary immensely, from Beethoven String quartets to Thelonius Monk, Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zant to Robert Johnson.

Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Peter Keane began playing guitar at around age ten, but it was his brother's playing in a local duo that influenced him the most to take
his playing seriously and consider doing so professionally. "I got pretty serious about it," he says, "Late in high school, probably about 16-17 years old, and decided it was something I really wanted to pursue. I was thinking about going away to college and I think something that figured in largely was a place I could go to learn more. At that stage, and it continues to be so today, I think it's important to me to be in an environment not just where I can practice what I do, but where I can pick up new influences and learn new things. Moving to the Boston area was great that way. I had heard about a wonderful folk scene there that existed in the `60s. When I got there, that whole scene was gone, but another scene had replaced it."

Sex First, Then I’ll Decide If I Want to Get to Know You

Yesterday morning, while I working on the kinks in the post Today is World AIDS Day, I had as my status on Yahoo Messenger the phrase “Taking Action for World AIDS Day.” At some point I took a break to prepare coffee. When I returned to the computer, I found that a Louisville friend, Celeste—better known to the Yahoo community as yumm_a_cherry—had sent me the following instant message before she went off line: “don't have sex with any strangers.”

I thought a moment and responded: “But from what I understand of the ‘younger’ generation that's how you meet people: sex first and then, if it’s OK, you ask their name.” Well, at least that’s the way it was with Candy, except she continued to forget the names of the men she with whom she had sexual relationships and so she called all of them “Dude.”

That idea about sex first and then begin a relationship turns me off. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but sex for the sake of sex without knowing the person is something I could never get into. It’s rather how I picture those men—“dudes” she called them; I call them “losers”—that patronize the strip club where Candy worked. The strippers—or at least their bodies—seemed to me to be commodities; I don’t like the idea of human beings being seen or used a “things” like a car or a book.

To me sex needs to be more than, well, sex. I enjoy making love and to “make love” one really needs to know one’s partner. Otherwise, the act seems to me to be just another form of masturbation. So, I guess my age is showing; I’ll probably write more about this at a future date after I have given it more thought.

Am I Brain Damaged

One night several months ago when I was having difficulty sleeping I became engrossed in watching the 2:00 a.m. repeat of that day’s Oprah show. She was discussing “hoarders” and the videos she was showing of the house of a a 59-year-old woman named Carol. That house could have been of my house! It was a mess. Garbage was everuwhere and... I think I'll not describe it furthers.

Dr. David Tolin (pictured with Oprah at the left), founder of the Anxiety Disorder Center at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living, has this to say about hoarding and specifically about Carol:

A lot of people are messy—I'm not the cleanest person in the world either. But I think where it becomes a problem is when the person is not just messy, but impaired by their clutter. What we see with Carol, and what we see with a lot of people with hoarding problems, is that they can't use significant portions of their home for the purpose that it was intended to...We also find the person's quality of life is dramatically reduced. … And then, not inconsequentially, we find it's a big problem where the person is facing real and tangible risks as a result of their clutter, whether it's a fire hazard or the problems we saw [in Carol's house] with mold and bacteria. A lot of people with hoarding face the very real risk of losing their homes because of the clutter.

Yes, I said to my self (or maybe my Super-Ego said to my Id), that's me. So since I saw that TV program I have attempted to unclutter my life. I have had varying degrees of success. Even with the best intentions, I continue to let the mess build up. I am more prone to stepping around it than to cleaning it up. Then, yesterday I read the following in a health oriented email newsletter:

It’s very likely that in your lifetime you have met someone, or maybe you are someone, who just can’t seem to get rid of anything – otherwise known as a pack rat. While many people simply enjoy shopping or collecting, pack rats collect so much stuff, most of which is usually useless, and refuse to get rid of anything, that their life is negatively affected, and yet, they can’t ever seem to do anything about it. New research from the University Of Iowa College Of Medicine in Iowa City is pointing to a link between damage to certain brain regions that may control the “urge to hoard.” The mesial prefrontal region has been pinpointed as a possible location of the brain that, when damaged, lacks the ability to control the urge to accumulate objects. While the findings are promising, further research is still needed.

Is that the problem? Do I have damage to certain regions of my brain? I suppose I'll just have to await further reseach.

Last entry: This Seems an Appropriate Way to End This Post

This came in this morning's email:


  1. I like hodgepodge posts.

    You spend a little more time on it than I do. I just stick a little line in between the topics.

  2. that packrat/hoarding business... my husband has a touch of that. Brain damage, whatever it is, it drives me crazy. And what I hate about it is that it seems to be catching. Once a room looks like crap, pretty soon you just start adding to it because what difference does it make. There's one room we have like that (my husband's office) and we keep bemoaning how we MUST get it organized, but it's an overwhelming-looking task for me. Anyway, I found that interesting.

  3. Thomas: Thank you.

    Jay Are: For me, the key words are “overwhelming-looking task”.

    J: I agree: it’s a cute parrot

  4. Hey Nick, Thanks for the link and I'm glad you enjoy Peter Keane's music so much. He's a great musician and I'm glad to have an opportunity to introduce him to more folks.

    Speaking of hodgepodge I'd meant to thank you for your comment on my Eric Bogle post, life got busy about then and I didn't get around to it.

  5. Ken: You are most welcome. I thank you for introducing me to Peter Keane. When I more actively played guitar and sang, it was music such as his that I performed.

    Eric Bogle is who I think of each year around Memorial Day: “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and “No Man’s Land” (“The Green Fields of France”) express my feeling about November 11th better than any music I know. I have sung or read the lyrics of both in Memorial Day worship services. I am most happy that I found your site when I was searching for new information about Bogle!

    I none way or another, us “old folkies” are seeking information about one another.