Sunday, October 23, 2011

P90X and Climbing

A very good friend of mine recently recommended that I try working out with the P90X home fitness video series. He was so serious about having me give it a shot that, for my birthday, he bought me a pull-up bar. Why I all that interested? Nope. Do I like home fitness videos? Definitely not? But do I want to improve my climbing ability? Absolutely.

Some of you may remember that my first post of the new year (2011) was a set of new year resolutions. You can read 'em HERE. One of those resolutions was to climb 5.11a. Basically, it's a difficulty rating system used by climbers and anything rated 5.11x is right in the middle of it - not too easy, not too hard. So all in all, I set a humble, moderate goal of being able to climb about 1/2 of all routes.

I've only done two sessions/days of P90X and, so far, it has spanked my pants off - hard. On the third day, yesterday, I went climbing at Devil's Lake. I was sore, but was able to pull off a couple of good routes fairly cleanly - a couple 5.8's and a 5.9. (Devil's Lake ratings are stiffer than anywhere else I've climbed, so a Devil's 5.8 is really at least a "real" 5.9 and a Devil's 5.9 is at least a "real" 5.10a.

A few months ago - back in May, when I was climbing more regularly (READ: before our second child was born), I was easily climbing 5.10b and was close to climbing 5.10c. (The steps from 5.10a and 5.11a are: 5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10c, 5.10d, and 5.11a.) I feel like I've taken a small step backwards, but still hope to be able to accomplish my goal by year-end.

So the hope is that P90X helps to round out my training, so that I'm not *just* climbing, which has pretty much been the case for a while now. I've been feeling like a slug, and, with the exception of a handful of runs between today and this past May, it's been all I've done.

I'll fill you in on how I'm doing in the coming weeks...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"THAT Neighbor"

Until recently, I had never heard of someone described as "THAT neighbor" before. I had no idea what the phrase meant. I have since figured it out.

Ironically, the one who first introduced me to the term has turned out to be the purest embodiment of the word's definition that I have ever encountered. Now knowing the definition, I can say that over the course of my lifetime, I have had several "THAT neighbors": growing up, the pot smoker next door; the drug dealer upstairs; the video game-playing insomniac raver; and now... well, I'd rather not give a description yet.

Here's my working, evolving definition of "THAT neighbor":

Someone who lives next door to you (or above or below you) who habitually, carelessly breaks the spoken or unspoken rules of your neighborhood.

A shorter definition might be much simpler:

"THAT neighbor" = the neighbor that nobody ever wants


"THAT neighbor" = a bad neighbor

So here's the real issue at hand: now that we have identified who these people are and what they do, we have to decide how we're going to deal with, and interact with, them.

The bottom line is this: I'm convinced that God demands of us all that we treat all others with infinite respect, as we would wish to be treated - even when we screw up - because all people are inherently valuable to him. But more than that, I believe that I am personally expected to act with an impossible amount of grace and patience - to demonstrate a level of love that I am incapable of showing to anyone in my own strength.

With great difficulty, I say here: "I love my neighbor." Now comes the hard part: showing it. By how I act, what I say - both to her and to others about her, and how often I go out of my way to show her that I care.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Late Nights and New Videos

For the last two, consecutive nights, I have stayed up late - past my bedtime - to work on a couple of new videos to post online. The first one, the live, studio session recording of "Welcome", from my album, Fundamental, and the other, a real-time illustration (music video?) of my song "Orphans", also from Fundamental. Am I happy with the results? Absolutely. Do I wish I were sleeping right now? Yes. Do I regret it? Not yet.

Please take just a few minutes to head on over to my YouTube channel to check out the new videos. And, comment on them and share them with your friends, please:

Just FYI, only the "Welcome" video is currently available (as in, today, 10/5, at 2:25 AM). YouTube is doing some system maintenance and the "Orphans" video won't go live until some time mid morning.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Music Clout. Seriously?

Wow. Same junk, new name: Taxi. Sonicbids. Reverb Nation. Music Clout. Companies preying on gullible artists, asking them to pay for exposure or concerts or song placement or whatever. Will Music Clout succeed? My guess is yes. Why? Because most artists are looking for a pipe dream: the easy way to musical success. Don't get me wrong: I'm tempted by the same things.

This Music Clout-sort of a business model works on numbers: get enough artists to sign up (IE: "buy in") and, for every submission from every artist, the company makes bank. The only cost to the company is the up-front cost in convincing songwriters and bands of the illusion that *their* organization can *truly* "make" a band - make them lots of money - with one of their "opportunities".

Songwriters and bands, listen up:


It's been said that anything worth having takes work to get. It's true. 99.99% of the time, these companies will steal your money and leave you in the same place you started: nowhere. You can't build a music career simply by submitting innumerable entries to virtual businesses. You need to be *there*, in person, pounding the *pavement*. Physical. Work. Sweat.

Wow. Venting. Seriously.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thoughts on Reason 6 - Upgrades and Pricing

Just two days ago, Propellerhead Software released a new version of my *favorite* music creation software: Reason. The new version, 6, combines all of the features from two, different programs of theirs. Basically, all I'd like you to know is that this new version kicks serious butt, adds some new features, and is still my program of choice when it comes to generating ideas for new songs in a computer recording "environment" (as they say).  I've been running Reason v.4 since around Christmas time of 2009, and my last upgrade before that was version 2.5 - way back in 2004. The software has certainly come a long way, and, dare I say it, if the company can "fix" some of their lack of keyboard shortcuts, Reason just might replace Logic Pro as my multi-tracking (IE: recording) program of choice.

So, a few thoughts on Propellerhead's Reason 6 pay what you want deal (oh wait. you didn't hear about that?!?!):

1. It saves Propheads money. They won't have to manufacture as many DVD's/Boxes for Reason 6.
2. You do have to own either Reason 4 or 5 in order to do it, so they are expecting users to upgrade - to something - and make it all the way up to Reason version 6, making up for some of the money from consumers "underpaying".
3. It's only for one month. This builds buzz and hopefully generates a ton of sales in the first month, helping the companies balance sheet (a business term basically meaning that they'll have cash on hand to carry on business).
4. Most people aren't going to pay what they want - they'll most likely pay what they can afford. I wish I could afford the "regular" upgrade price, but I just can't right now. Consider: starving artist.

This last factor was really the big motivator for me. A regular Reason upgrade - in a box - is $129. Of that, you've got to figure that $20-30 of it goes in to production and shipping to local music stores. The company then has $100 left with which to develop the product, pay their people, etc. When you think about it, that's not much for a world-class leader in recording software. Apple's Logic Studio is $500. Logic upgrades are usually $300.

A secondary motivator for me was considering how much money the music I have created using Reason has generated for me. I'm a professional performing songwriter, after all, and I looked at this picture considering Propellerhead a partner in the music I create and sell. If I made a lot, I think I'd be willing - and able - to pay a lot. Considering where I'm at right now, I hope to be able to pay Propellerhead back for taking a bit of a hit this time around, and when I'm generating a little more cash from my music, I can make up the difference - between what I paid and what I think the software is really worth - when the next version comes out.

This does beg the question: what about hobbyists or people using Reason for fun? First, there probably aren't many of you out there. And for those of you who are, I think you should consider a different model for determining how much Reason 6 is worth: consider what upgrades have been in the past, consider what upgrades of similar products (IE: other DAW's) cost, and consider how many songs you write using the software. Maybe something like, "For an upgrade, I'd be willing to pay $5 for every song I expect to write/compose using Reason 6", using your past usage as an indicator.