JUST ONE OF THOSE CRAZY THINGS – WHEN THE BONE DOESN’T KNIT

Yesterday morning, I dropped the mouse for the computer in the bedroom. I reached down to pick it up and a pain shot through my chest, down my arm and I yelped.

I had a lot of heart surgery a couple of years ago. Most of it has healed well. The thing that hasn’t healed properly is my breastbone. Surgeons split it in half when they work on your heart. Normally, it will take as much as between 2 and 6 months to knit into a single unit. Mine didn’t knit, so it’s still a two-piece breastbone. Healed, but not knitted and held together with steel wire. Apparently, no medical technology exists that can convince a bone to knit if it doesn’t want to.

Typically, this is a problem on joints that cannot be immobilized — ribs, breastbone, shoulders, spine. And, I should mention that when one of these is broken, you discover that every single other thing in your body is connected to it. So it has been for the past two days. Moving really hurts. But only at certain angles when using my right arm.

I’m a rightie. Of course.

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It seems a little better today than yesterday, but it’s still crunching with each breath I take. I can hear it through my inner ear. Creepy.

All of this makes it difficult for me to do stuff. If I want this to settle down, find its notch, and stop hurting, I have to settle down and be as still as I can for a few days.

All of this is an explanation of why I’m not doing much. I wrote a bunch of posts which are already scheduled. There will be new posts, but otherwise, I have to do the one thing that’s hardest for me to do: nothing. For a few days at least. If this doesn’t correct itself, I’ll have to go see a surgeon and I cannot emphasize enough how much I do not want any more surgery of any kind. Ever.

Meanwhile, I’m held together by some pretty tough steel wire and I’m resting. And hoping this takes care of itself.

CHICAGO “NOW”

In April of this year fans of Chicago the band got to see what they had been waiting for.  Some thought the honor was deserved years ago, even decades.  Now the classic rock and roll band has entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Along with a notable string of hits, the band has garnered a loyal following based on their annual tours.  If you live in Chicago, you get the chance to see your favorites every year.
Of course the band has changed since its
Beginnings.  Terry Kath is gone.  Peter Cetera left for a solo career.  Danny Seraphine was asked to leave.  Original woodwind player Walt Parazaider, the oldest of the group, does not appear regularly.  In May longtime member and the replacement to Cetera, Jason Scheff, took a leave of absence for family health reasons.  Scheff insisted he was not leaving the band.  Last month, Chicago announced that Jeff Coffey, who had been filling in for Scheff, had officially joined the band. Characteristically, the band has little else to say on the topic.  Next year will mark their 50th anniversary.

Chicago XXXVI, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


In 2014 Chicago, the band, did something most older bands are reluctant to do.  They put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances and sales of older albums.  They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums.  The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it.  The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over crowd but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.

Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time.  A touring band like Chicago, who spends most of the year on the road, does not like the idea of stopping for an extended length of time.  But Chicago is not ready to stop composing and recording, so how do they tour and record?  The answer came with a new recording system they call “The Rig.”  They have pushed the technology forward with a portable system so good, they record as they travel.  Much of Chicago NOW was done in hotel rooms across the country and around the world.

Founding member and trumpet player, Lee Loughnane, took charge of the project to put out a new album without stopping the show, so to speak.  Each composer of a song got to act as producer for his entry to the album and various band members helped with arrangements as well as select musicians from outside the group.  The group not only recorded on the move, they did not all have to be there at once.  Members would record their parts at different times.  Hank Linderman, a long time studio engineer, was the coordinating producer.  A “collaboration portal” was set up and tracks were sent at all times from Chicago and contributing musicians.  The result is a stunning contribution to the Chicago catalog and worthy of their best early efforts.



The title track, released as a download prior to the album début, has now worked its way into the current tour performances.  Written by Greg Barnhill and Chicago band member Jason Scheff, the number was produced and arranged by Scheff.  It is an energetic start to the album.  Scheff also contributed “Love Lives On” and is co-composer to founding member Robert Lamm’s  song, “Crazy Happy.”



While the horns section technically remains in tact with founding members Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on trombone, founding member and woodwind player Walt Parazaider appears in the videos but in fact only played on three of the recordings.  Now at age 71, a variety of health issues in recent years has limited Parazaider’s time on the road.  Long time fill-in Ray Herrmann is also credited on three of the songs, though he is not listed as a band member.  While Herrmannn is now a frequent performer, the audience does not always realize it.  From a distance he somewhat resembles Walt.  Other sax players contributed to the album as well.

Guitar player Keith Howland sings the song he composed with Scheff and drummer Tris Imboden, “Nice Girl.”  He also contributes, along with Imboden to Lamm’s “Free at Last.”  As expected, Lamm leads the way on this album, being credited with lead vocals on six of the songs and background vocals on others.

Previously, I wrote about “America” released the autumn before Chicago 36. It appears on the album as well.  Lou Pardini drives home the song and the social commentary on lead vocal and keyboards.  Also on percussion for the band is Walfredo Reyes, Jr., a more recent addition to the Chicago lineup, a talented nine guys.

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Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS HERE TO STAY

The electoral college was created by the founders of this country as part of the constitution. It’s not a recent law we can change or rescind. To remove it would require an amendment to the Constitution. Which is not happening. The assigned electors per state can be (and are) adjusted to make the college more representative and reflective of the U.S. population. But eliminated? I doubt it.

The electoral college was created to balance the power and interests of populous, industrial states and make sure agricultural, rural states with lower populations don’t get trampled in national elections. 

That is exactly what it did. Although Hillary Clinton (my preferred candidate) won more popular votes, she won all her votes in the big, urban, industrial states. Trump got fewer votes, but won far more states. You and I may not like it, but the electoral college was designed to make sure that popularity and population are not the only things that factor into electing a president.

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Is it fair? I think it’s rather like the referee’s call in a football game. It depends on whether the call favors you or the other team.


THE U.S. IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. 


The United States is a constitutional republic and popularity is not the only factor that counts in a presidential election.

The electoral college is an integral part of the structure of our government and its presence is exactly what makes us a republic rather than a democracy. Before you start howling about abolishing it, recognize that it was put in place for a reason, even if you don’t like the reason. If you lived in Wyoming, you would feel it was protecting your interests … and you’d be right.

If you live in a big, blue state, do you really believe you are entitled to enforce your will on the entire country? Does it mean you always get to pick the winner?  I don’t like Trump, but our system works the way it is supposed to. It isn’t a cheat or a scam or something that’s been overlooked and needs fixing. It was designed and included intentionally so you don’t get disenfranchised because you live in the country or on a farm.

I’m surprised how many people apparently don’t understand how the Constitution or our government works. Didn’t we all learn this in school?


If you are interesting in learning more, you can start here at History.com ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Or, just Google “electoral college” and poke around. There’s plenty of information easily available.

WATCH FOR SIGNS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Signs of Any Kind


I always take pictures of signs. It’s an old habit, a leftover if you will, from my working days. “Locator” shots made it easy to identify which video belonged to a particular story. Though I’m no longer working, I still take locator shots. And other interesting signs, too.

These were all taken at the same rest area in Wilmington, Connecticut.


Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge