The Die Is Cast

According to the Free Dictionary, the term The die is cast “comes from the Latin Iacta alea est, “the dice have been thrown,” which according to Suetonius was said by Julius Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon and invaded Italy in 49 b.c.”

Today I informed my manager of my intention to retire.  I’d already spoken with H.R. about how to go about doing so, and after speaking with the both of them, sent them my official letter of resignation.  We haven’t yet determined the final date, but I made it clear I would not remain longer than six months.  I’m ready to go at any time, but I believe the appropriate and professional thing to do is to allow for my replacement to be found and brought up to speed.



Once the dice are face up, there’s no going back.  I’ve been talking about this with my family and friends for a while — and my planning goes back a good four years — and now it’s time.

I find it funny that everyone I’ve spoken to says how wonderful, and great news!  I think I may be the only one who has some trepidation about the whole thing.  I’ll stop receiving a salary.  I won’t have company-paid health care.  I’ll have to learn to live on my savings, investments and social security.  It’s a transition that for me isn’t 100% happy.  I may feel differently a few months from now, but right now I’m trying to get mentally prepared.

But there’s no taking it back now.  And I don’t think I’d want to even if I could!


Not Knowing What You Don’t Know

I am constantly struck by the “expert” opinions of those who haven’t the first idea what they’re talking about.  Most recently, I came across a thread on a forum in which I participate that was in the “off-topic” section and began by an incoherent post citing three different passages from Scripture.

Yes?  So what?  At least, that was my initial reaction.  I am one of the last people who should be holding forth on things Biblical.  And that’s my point:  I know that I don’t know nine-tenths of the Bible.  I’ve heard that “Scripture interprets Scripture,” so I know that those who study Scripture deeply are always finding new references, correlations and (possibly) deeper understanding.

As is so often in the era of the Internet, people who have no understanding, much less knowledge of a topic, find it necessary to take center stage and expose their ignorance for the rest of the world to see.  Rather than be embarrassed by their ignorance, they seem to relish it.  Because these days, opinions are more important than facts.

The sub-head of this journal is “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”  Because everything I post here is opinion.  Oh, there might be a smattering of fact here and there (“This guitar is made of wood”) but I make no claims to expertise.  In fact, the subject I am most expert on is “being myself.”  And I’m not always that good at that!

I’m not sure when this trend began.  The easy answer for me is “When social media began.”  Of course, that’s just an opinion — however, the staggering preponderance of know-it-alls on the message boards has become a turn-off for me.  Add to this the equally staggering number of argumentative, “I’m right and you’re wrong” types rang the death knell for me.  I quite Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the rest.

There are still the forums and boards I read, mostly because the topics interest me (guns, guitars, cars, etc.).  But I discount those who approach topics claiming (without portfolio, at least) expertise.  I simply smile, nod my head, and move on.


I have playing in the background right now some streaming audio from a site I’ve been listening to for a short while now, and it got me to thinking: Music For a New Age (MFNA) — this site — is now 25 years old!

That category of music sometimes erroneously (in my opinion) labeled “new age” is certainly not new. Fifty years ago, artists such as Tangerine Dream, Kitaro, Tomita, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Mike Oldfield were producing flowing, electronic, meditative and other-worldly music, experimenting and forging new ways of thinking about, and listening to music.

The MFNA web site was born out a personal wish to learn the then-new technology of the worldwide web. I didn’t purchase the domain name right away, but when it became apparent this thing called The Internet wasn’t just a passing fancy, I latched onto it. That was 25 years ago!

Originally, was little more than a “portal.” It was mostly links to other sites, separated into “pages” of data: records companies, broadcast stations, artists, and reviews. It was a personal creation; mostly a set of bookmarks to sites I enjoyed. It grew when others found it, and I wrote reviews and communicated directly with artists and producers. It was an exciting time to be a “web producer.”

Much has changed over the past quarter-century. Sites come and go, new performers arrive, old labels go under and new ones arise. But music survives. So, this brief revisit is more a “memory bubble” than anything else.

Without further ado, here are some links to music and musicians I listen to today. I should note, that some of these sites and their operators, performers and personalities, have been doing so for much longer than has existed. Music From the Hearts of Space, for example, has been broadcasting since the early 1980s. So, let’s start with them…

I should also like to make mention of Spotted Peccary, a recording label that features outstanding musical talent, and production standards. This is a company that is at the vanguard of keeping “new age” music alive!

Enough With The “Virtue Signaling” Already

The latest trend to sweep the online world is the craze known as “virtue signaling.” No one by now has likely been untouched by this madness. It seems to be more infectious than COVID-19. And because it is transmitted online, no one is immune unless they “self-quarantine” by pulling the plug.

According to Urban Dictionary, virtue signaling is defined as “To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.” Exactly.

Recent events have spiked the generation of these expressions of moral outrage. It seems that every CEO, company president, spokesperson or media relations representative now feels it necessary to publicly proclaim their position of dancing with angels.

Two examples, both occurring on the same day, underscore the point. The first is the Twitter post by Reverb, an online marketplace for musical gear, akin to an eBay for musicians. Reverb has been very visible on their web site with their holier-than-thou attitude. When Michael Fuller, founder and president of Fulltone guitar and bass effects (pedals) posted online his reaction to news of rioting and looting, Reverb reacted by issuing a public statement proclaiming they were “suspending” sales of Fulltone products on their site, and would be donating proceeds from current sales to some nebulous “racial justice organization.” Huh?

This is virtue signaling as its “finest.” Note the wording. Reverb doesn’t say “canceling,” “terminating” or using otherwise strong language to distance themself from Fulltone. Rather, the use of the word “suspend” suggests they will resume their original practice at a later date. They also don’t specify to which organization they will be donating their selling fees? Fuzzy, much? Sheesh.

Second, is the email sent out by Sarah Friar, CEO of Nextdoor is a social media site meant to focus on neighborhoods nearby one’s home. It offers announcements, for sale items, services, advice and community news. Ms. Friar had to join the virtue signaling crowd by sending her blog post to all registered subscribers. Her message begins, “Let me say it unequivocally: Racism has no place on Nextdoor.” Uh, does racism have a place anywhere?

I don’t believe that at my age, I’m overly naive. Over the years, however, I’ve also learned that “feelings aren’t facts.” My career working with data, combined with life experiences, tend to make me look unemotionally at facts, trying not to let emotional baggage influence investigation. A correlative saying goes, “You can have your own opinion, but you can’t have your own facts.” There is a tendency these days for “scientific investigators” to disregard facts that don’t support a prior conclusion. That isn’t science, it’s ideology.

It’s one thing for a company to promote its “clean” technology, recyclable products, “fair trade” practices, and so on. But virtue signaling just seems to me a form of chest-beating and false braggadocio.


Washington Nationals, 2019 World Series Champions

What a Cinderella story! The 2019 baseball season began with a terrible slump by the Washington Nationals, landing them 12 games below .500 (19-31) on May 22. For many, the loss of Bryce Harper to the Phillies was a herald for the team’s fortune. The press was calling for manager Davey Martinez’s head, and predictions were dire for the season.

But something happened. Martinez was not fired, the front office fully supported the team, continuing to shape the bullpen and utility players, and almost magically, the Nats began their climb out of fourth place (only the Miami Marlins had a worse record).

Scrabbling and scraping, the team adopted the slogan, “Stay In The Fight.” Martinez’s public comments always reverberated the phrase, “1-0” (Today we are going for a 1-0 record). And stay in the fight they did. Utility outfielder Gerardo Parra was released by the San Francisco Giants, and the Nats signed him on. During a frustrating slump at bat, on June 19, Parra asked the stadium PA system to play a new “walk-up song:” Baby Shark. Getting two hits that day, the song became a rallying cry for the team and fans alike, generating “shark moves” by both during games. Some fans started wearing shark-themed attire to games.

From May 24, 2019 on, the Nats had the best record in baseball. They never reached first place in their division (National League East), but managed to nab a wild card slot. On October 1, the wild card game against the Milwaukee Brewers was played, and the Nats came from behind, scoring three runs in the 8th inning, winning 4-3 to advance to the divisional playoffs.

A five game series against the heavily-favored Los Angeles Dodgers, who were heavily favored to take it all, having had a regular season record of 106-56. The only team with a better record was the American League Houston Astros. When the dust had settled, the Nats had once again taken a 3-2 series, overcoming a 0-3 deficit and winning the finale by a Grand Slam home run in the 10th inning, shocking the baseball world!

Then came the League Championship series. This, a seven game series, was a new experience for the Nationals, who had never reached this level of competition before. Nevertheless, it didn’t seem to daunt them, as they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games! The league championship belonged to the Nationals!

There was only one series left to play: The World Series! Matched up against the Houston Astros, the Nats were considered severe underdogs. No one apparently told the Nats, as they continued to STAY IN THE FIGHT. Much history was made during this seven games series, perhaps the most striking is that the road team won every game! The Nationals played in Houston the first two games, and walked away 2-0. But Houston went ahead by winning all three games in Washington. Back to Houston, where the improbably happened: The Nats won both. And again, they came from behind in Game 7 to win it all.

My father was never a warm, caring father figure to me. He was a driven, Type-A man, who worked to succeed and provide for his family. Thus, my fondest memories of him were the times we spent going to Griffith Stadium in D.C. to watch the Washington Senators play. We would also sit on a darkened porch at night, listening to games on transistor radio. It was something we both shared. Maybe it’s a reason I played Little League Baseball (second base) and won the only championship I’ve been in. So, dad, you never got to see a Washington baseball team win the World Series. But I have.

I hope wherever you are Dad, I hope you’re smiling.

Any Questions?



I’m changing pace for a brief while.

My favorite sports were those I played when I was younger: baseball and tennis. Little League baseball was the only sport where I was on a championship-winning team; I nearly won a championship playing tennis, but came oh, so short…


Living in the Washington, D. C. area (when we weren’t in between overseas assignments), my father used to take me to Griffith Stadium to watch the Washington Senators play. We’d also sit out on the screened-in porch in the dark to games on transistor radio.

The Senators were never a good team. I still remember the saying: “Washington – first in war, first in peace, last in the American League!” But they were my team, and I recall some of the players’ names: Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Brinkman, Camilo Pascual, Eddie Yost, Roy Sievers, and more. Sadly, the Senators left town in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins.

They weren’t done, yet. From 1961-1971, another Washington Senators team played in town, but they were no better, and ultimately left to become the Texas Rangers. There was no Major League Baseball in the nation’s capital for the next 34 years!

The Montreal Expos moved to Washington in 2005, where they were renamed the Washington Nationals. They played in the National League, not the AL. But they were initially as bad as the former Washington teams had been. They did not post a winning season for the first seven years.

But something happened.

The new ownership of the team was determined to build a strong franchise. Through smart hiring and player drafts, the team became a contender, winning division titles in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017, but losing in the division series each time. In 2019, as unlikely as it seems — especially since the team got off to a 19-31 start — the Nats, as is their nickname, won the Wild Card, the Division Series, the League Championship, and are now poised, for the first time in franchise history, to play in the World Series!

My love of baseball has been re-ignited, and the success of the current Washington team boggles my mind. I feel almost as if I’m experiencing a dream. And I don’t want anyone to wake me!

Time Keeps On Slipping Into The Future

With apologies to Steve Miller…

A digression right at the start: I was a big fan of the Steve Miller Band when they first started out. I bought their first five albums, and then, following Miller’s car accident, the band resurfaced with a new “pop” sound, I lost interest. I saw them in concert in 1968, and then again in 1998. I took my daughter to see them, since she’d become a fan. The opening act was Little Feat, who I wanted to see more. Miller announced it was his 30th anniversary tour, and I told my daughter I had seen him on his first tour!

Image of "Sailor," Steve Miller Band's second album
Cover of “Sailor,” Steve Miller Band’s Second Album

Okay, now on to the point of this post and why it’s titled as such:

Last Sunday, while I was seated in church, my phone vibrated with an incoming call. I checked to see who was calling, expecting it to be a spammer (on Sunday?). It was from Richard K. I couldn’t imagine why Richard would be calling, and when the transcript of his voice mail was done, he had indicated he had “serious” news and needed to talk.

I quietly walked out into the atrium and called Richard. When he answered, my first question to him was, “Is this about Duncan?” Duncan is a mentor of mine. He is now 91 years old, and the Christmas card I received from his wife informed me that he’d been in and out of the hospital, and was “not doing well.”

“No,” Richard replied, “it’s about Mark.” Mark?

Mark is a long-time acquaintance I see on Fridays when I’m in Great Falls. I had not seen him this past Friday. Now I know why.

“Mark passed away Friday night,” Richard informed me. Shock!

Mark was 63, a husband and father of three daughters. He had not been seriously ill, to my knowledge. Apparently bipolar, he’d been on medication to treat this condition for thirty years. His latest medical “challenge” was prostate-related. He never said it was cancer, just that his PSA numbers were high and that he’d been given meds to address that condition.

It seems that he was admitted to the hospital with excessive fluid surrounding his heart, a condition known as pericardial effusion. Frequently, there are no symptoms, especially if the fluid has developed over time (source; Mayo Clinic)

It was too late for Mark. Doctors tried relieving the fluid, but even still, they could not save him.

As one gets older, this kind of news becomes more and more frequent. Years ago, I worked with an elderly (to me) man who would often say, “I check the obituary page every day to make sure I’m not on it.” One day, though…

For me, this was a great reminder to tell my loved ones that I love them. Every opportunity I get!

A Four Song Playlist

I’ve been giving this some thought:  There is an “open mic night” at the church every week.  And though it’s aimed more for the younger crowd, I’ve been thinking of taking the stage and practicing my live performance capabilities.  Performers are only allowed three or four songs per set, so what songs would I play?

These are the songs I’ve been playing and practicing.  Some are new (to me) and others I’ve been playing for years (but have gotten of practice):

  • Daydream (Lovin’ Spoonful)
  • Presence of the Lord (Clapton)
  • Dino’s Song (Quicksilver Messenger Service)
  • Pride of Man (Quicksilver Messenger Service)

As backup songs, I might also consider:

  • Thinking of You (Loggins & Messina)
  • My Sweet Lord (George Harrison)
  • Melissa (Allman Brothers)
  • Little Wing (Hendrix)

The latter four are more complex, and would require more practice before I feel comfortable playing them in public.  Heck, I would have to practice all of them before playing publicly.  But no dream is to great, eh?

Daydream - Lovin' Spoonful

The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream”

Presence of the Lord - Clapton

Eric Clapton “Presence of the Lord”

Pride of Man / Dino's Song - QSM

Quicksilver Messenger Service: “Dino’s Song” and “Pride of Man”

Loggins & Messina - first album

(Kenny) Loggins & (Jim) Messina

George Harrison - My Sweet Lord

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass solo LP

Melissa - Allman Brothers Band

Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach (Melissa)

Little Wing - Jimi Hendriz

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love (Little Wing)

Android Horrors Redux

In an earlier post I wrote that I would never again have an Android device.  That was a bit premature it turns out, as in a fit of (temporary, I hope) madness I thought to myself, “Maybe it was the older version of Android that was the problem, and that Google had improved it.”  The Google Nexus 7 I had literally thrown against the wall in a fit of pique was incapable of running newer versions of the Android OS.

I came across a cheap Chinese “phablet” on Amazon running Android 7.0 (nougat) and so I bought it.  Made by an unfamiliar company called Irulu, it was the same size and form factor as the Nexus 7.  It was named the eXpro (no, it’s not your browser, the site’s page appears to be completely munged).

Not a phone, eXpro is capable of accepting a SIM card and becoming one. I pity anyone who does so, though.

For starters, the eXpro is very bad at holding wi-fi connections.  Sometimes a reboot is necessary when traveling from one physical location to another.

But the worst part is Android.

On my Nexus 7, which I completely scrubbed and factory reset, apps have an annoying habit of just quitting in mid-use.  Annoying, for sure.

On the Irulu, there is a piece of malware that defies removal. It is called QuickTouch and is installed as “system software,” which means the typical anti-virus/crap cleaners fail to remove it; some even fail to recognize it as the intrusive infection it is.  Searching Google results in only user complaints about it, with the solution being – wait for it – a factory reset.

There is a QuickTouch on the Google Play store that gets high marks.  I can’t tell if it’s the same program or not, but the version on my eXpro installs software without my asking, shows notifications for programs I don’t want, and now having disabled (since I can’t remove) every one of its features I can, starts throwing messages about programs not responding that I never activated.

I could go on, but I won’t.  If QuickTouch is pre-installed by Google/Android and can’t be removed, then shame on Google for including such a piece of noxious trash in their OS.  It’s bad enough that apps spy on us every minute of our lives, but when they take over our devices, I draw the line.

(I still harbor the dark feeling of satisfaction I might derive by destroying these devices by shattering them with a few well-placed shots from a .45 caliber weapon).


Two days after my previous post, the owners of the Washington Nationals all but admitted the 2018 season is lost.  They did so by trading away two of their more prolific players, Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams.

It’s weird how things work.  There is this thing called “revocable waivers,” which means a player placed on this list can be obtained by another team, but the owning team has three options:

  1. Work out a trade deal with the claiming team.
  2. Pull the player back off waivers (thereby revoking it).
  3. Do nothing, and let the player negotiate a contract with the claiming team.

In this case, they let Murphy and Adams go by negotiating with the claiming teams. The Chicago Cubs took Murphy in exchange for cash and a minor league player, and the St. Louis Cardinals took Adams for “cash considerations.”

Pulling a layer back off the baseball “onion,” this is all business. Both Murphy and Adams would have been free agents after the end of the season.  This frees up money the Nationals can use for next year.

It also signals surrender.  The Nationals have now given up hope of a 2018 postseason, and are looking toward next year.