Archive for the ‘Archived Observations’ Category

AC Grayling – The Unconsidered Life

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


Wonderful food for thought. I highly recommend you watch this short video, the Unconsidered Life featuring AC Grayling. It is presented by the Richard Dawkins Foundation YouTube channel. Many fine points to ponder, if you’d like tune yourself more into life.

Click Here to watch The Unconsidered Life at YouTube.

Those Amazing Cats

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006


“Cat Check!” My wife called as she ran through the front door with Boomer the Rottweiler, our newest family member, in tow.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the phrase. If someone leaves a door open by mistake we usually have to take inventory to make sure our feline furbabies, as my wife calls them, are accounted for.

Christina, Dusty and Sasha are house cats. So far Christina is the only one who’s been outside, and each time she beats a hasty retreat to the comfort and familiarity of home. She doesn’t get farther than the front porch, usually.

I was on the phone with a friend as Krista burst into the house. I had to cut my call short to help in the search. “What happened?” I called as Krista ran up the stairs to check.

“The screen from our bedroom window is laying on the front lawn, one of the cats may have fallen out!” She hollered.

Suddenly my adrenaline began to flow. I glanced around. Dusty, our young male cat, was sitting in the foyer looking at me like I had two heads. Which isn’t an uncommon look to get from a cat. Check… one cat accounted for.

Krista called down from our bedroom, “I found Sasha, but Christina isn’t here!” Check… two cats.

Most any time of day Christina can be found sleeping in our bed. If she isn’t there she’s usually hanging out with one of us. I could hear Krista stomping around upstairs calling for her, searching.

I headed to front door so I could get outside and retrieve the screen, and to check and see if Christina was in fact outside. I shuddered at the thought of finding her injured.

It’s about an 18 foot drop from our bedroom window to the front yard. There is one overhang where our living room window juts out, and a large bush below that. These are the only things that would have broken her fall.

Nervously I opened the door and to my surprise, and releif, I found Christina standing on the front porch, waiting to come inside. She darted into the house, ran past Dusty, who looked at her like she had two heads; then she ran passed Boomer, who dutifully turned and followed.

I smacked Boomer on the butt, thinking she was looking to play when she ran after the cat. But in hindsight I think that maybe Boomer was concerned about Christina’s well being. As was my wife and I.

I followed the cat and dog around the house and finally managed to pick up Christina on the stairway. I carried her up and Krista met us at the top. We sat her down, poking and prodding to see if she was in any pain. I checked her face, her paws, her legs and back. She purred the entire time.

We noticed some tar and roofing material on one of Christina’s paws. This corresponded to a huge gash in a shingle that I noticed when I looked down at the overhang below our bedroom window. Apparently Christina had tried to stop her fall there, with no success.

Krista rememebrs hearing a rustling in the bush as she ran up to the front door to tell me about the screen. No doubt that was Christina either falling through, or climbing out of the bush she had landed in. Lucky she weighs only 5.5 lbs. I don’t think Dusty or Sasha, both about 6 lbs heavier, would have fared so well.

All’s well that ends well. Chalk up another life for Christina, I hope she has plenty left.

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Memory Lane & Goodbye to a Friend

Saturday, October 1st, 2005


Original Post – 10/01/02
I just thought of this and figured I’d share it.

As I write this I’m listening to La Villa Strangiato, a 9 minute, 35 second instrumental piece from my favorite progressive band Rush. My father once heard this tune – while we were driving in his car. I had the 8-track in!! – and he said something like “Wow, these guys are pretty impressive!” Hearing this song prompted this, one of many fond (and funny) memories from my past, enjoy…

So, I was about 22 years old, maybe 23. I had taken an ad out in the local newspaper looking for a bass player to help put together a band. About two days later I got a response. Well, this was the most important one of several. I got the usual responses, a call from a guy who was about 45 looking for a band to jam with – Sorry pal, too old! A call from a 14 year old looking for a band to jam with – Sorry pal, too young!

See, when your 22 and have been playing guitar since 10 or so you would like to play with someone of your own caliber. One person responded and fit the bill. He was a year younger than myself, had been playing bass for about 5 years, played guitar a bit longer, and was a natural. Furthermore, he was a BIG Rush fan – a prime requisite (at that time) for being in a band with me. We set a date to meet and the rest is history…

He arrived toting a clear Lucite bass guitar and a small practice amp of some kind. Maybe it was a Gorilla.

We talked a bit, then decided to just jam and see what would happen.

We relocated, with guitars in hand, to the rec-room in the basement. Jon, a 6′ 4″ guy with long brown hair, sat on a chair beside his amp, plugged in and tuned up. I sat down on an old, empty record album storage cabinet (remember this item), hooked up my guitar and we tuned our instruments to each other.

Immediately we began playing La Villa Strangiato (we had both learned it on our own and had practiced it over and over for years, we later discovered). Just a 6-string electric B.C. Rich and a Lucite bass. It sounded great, even without drums. The rhythm was all in our heads and Jon succeeded in laying down some awesome, thick bass riffs.

We played the entire 9 minutes and 35 seconds, give-or-take a second. It was outstanding. We did it with almost no goofs. Clean enough to be really cool anyway! A relationship was born. Jon looked at me and said something like “Dude, that was awesome!” I agreed, and we sat staring at each other in stunned silence for a moment or two. Both of us amazed that we had been brought together by a single newspaper ad, and that he only lived about three miles away and we had never met! That was it, I found my bassist and we had become friends, in a half hour or so.

Suddenly the record cabinet I was sitting on went “creak.” Jon and I looked at each other, puzzled. Then, in an instant, the top of the cabinet cracked and I fell into it on my butt, still holding my guitar. Jon proceeded to laugh and almost fell out of his chair. So did I (but I was already on the floor). That moment sealed it.

My father was a bit angry because I broke the cabinet, but he let me slide.

Jon and I remained friends and jammed together, writing several songs in the process, for many years. Now I don’t know where he is. I miss him because I NEED A BASS PLAYER NOW! And I also miss the friendship.

If anyone reading this knows a tall guy named Jon Holbert who can play bass and used to live in the Stockholm, NJ area, let me know, and let him know that we have to hook up!

Keep your memories, sometimes they’re the only way to spend time with an old friend.

Update – 10/12/05:
Over the years Jon would call me. Maybe once every 5 years or so. At last contact he was living in New York City, bartending at some steakhouse, and spoke of plans to build a boat and start a touring cruise of the Caribbean. I thought it sounded great and wished him all the luck. I wasn’t actually sure if it was all true, but hey, don’t we all dream outloud from time time?

I asked him to stay in touch. He didn’t.

A mutual friend of Jon and mine recently called me to share some bad news. Jon Holbert had killed himself. There would be no service, no burial. His body was cremated and the ashes spread somewhere in Maine. That was it.

Not a very nice end to this story I’m afraid. It’s tough enough growing up and separating from friends and those memories, but finding out that an old friend has given up on life is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with.

When I was 27 a friend passed away due to complications from diabetes. This is two down. I’m not looking forward to the next. No.

No matter how bad things pile up on you in life, there are people who care and can help. If you think you’re at the end of your limit, please stop and turn around. As Neil Peart said in Bravado, “Don’t turn your back and slam the door on me.”

Talk to a friend, and let them know something is wrong. Don’t give up, it’s life. We have nothing to prove to anyone! We just need to make it through, and if you survive your worst nightmares, and come through with cuts, scratches and scars, join the club. We all have them. You can make it through.

I wrote a song called “Boris and Ivan,” dedicated to the memory of my friend Jon Holbert. It appears on my CD, It’s All Timing.

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Look Out Any Window

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004


Over my extended Thankgiving weekend I took some time to look through my telescope at the moon. I saw the full moon rising in the east-northeast and thought it would be a good night for a look, so I set up my Meade reflecting telescope in the kitchen and aimed it toward the window.

Contrail over the moon. Taken through 114mm reflector telescope.

Contrail over the moon. Through 114mm reflector telescope. © Drew Vics


The moon had risen higher and the sky was darkening. The darker it became the more detail I was able to see.

There I was, a Saturday night, standing in my kitchen enjoying one of my home brewed beers and occasionally taking a peak through the eyepiece. I had calibrated the telescope, and after a few simple selections on the hand-held control unit the scope swung around on it’s motorized mount and aligned on the moon, then continued to track our celestial neighbor. All I had to do was enjoy the view.

I decided to take some digital photos of the moon by simply holding the camera up to the eyepiece and carefully aiming before pressing the shutter release. Some of the pictures turned out pretty nice. It’s great to be able to enjoy the result so quickly, that’s the magic of digital photography. It’s convenient too, because if I took one I didn’t like I could just delete it.

I’m glad I picked up the camera, because during one look through the telescope I spotted an airplane zipping across the bright face of the moon, in perfect silouhette. I brought the camera up to the eyepiece to capture the scene but unfortunately I missed the plane, though the contrail remained as evidence of what I had witnessed (see photo above).

As I continued to monitor the moon I was hoping another plane would pass by, but none ever showed. I did see a formation of geese fly across the silvery orb, but I didn’t get my camera to the eyepiece in time.

It’s amazing what we can see if we stick around long enough and have a little patience. We can apply that to life too. If we careen blindly through life like an asteroid we often miss the neat stuff. The things that make us wonder in awe. Stand on top of a mountain and see how big the world is. Peer through a telescope and see the craters on the moon. I imagine an asteroid has a pretty great view from out there, if indeed it could see.

Life’s a journey, so enjoy it. Look out any window. I love windows.

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My Lost Immortality

Wednesday, September 8th, 2004


Oh my God, I’m not immortal anymore! What happened? Where’s my neverending youth? My long summers? My bright future?

Gone, gone, and… wait a minute, there’s still future left!

Repeat after me:

I refuse to fall over and let the wagons pass me by on this dusty trail through life, so I’m going to hop up, brush off the dirt and get going! I can still catch an exciting ride and spend some great time with interesting folks who share this long, winding trail.

Sometimes I get confused, with no focus, no specific goal. I find my time being wasted by bad little habits. I can empty my pockets of all those time-wasters and let them fly in the breeze like bits of useless paper. They’ll drop and be forgotten, trampled by wagon wheel and hoof. Ground back into the dust where they belong, nevermore to travel with me.

I’ll look ahead with optimism. I’ll learn to adapt. I’ll ride INTO the possibilities of the future, not UNDER the uncertainties of today.

I have time to see my dreams come true, time to make them real. I can see the horizon, the destination of the sun, the vastness of my life ahead. So much land I can cover, so many places to go.

I will move in sync with time. It will never pass me by. My heart will beat as the seconds tick, and my wheels will roll as hands of time turn. Time to do, time to be, time to see.

Some things will pass, others will remain. I remain, and while I remain I will try things that no one else has tried, do things people say I can’t do. Succeed in ways I was told I couldn’t succeed.

All is not lost. Nothing is gone except my fear and uncertainty. Those are the things I do not need. I shed them off and settle into the saddle of my life, in control of my turns and my steps.

I pull my hat down to shelter my eyes from the setting sun, not setting on my life, but illuminating the trail ahead, preparing the way.

Shining on my future.

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

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