Monday, February 27, 2017



Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose/
Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free” (from Kris Kristofferson’s song, Me and Bobby McGee).

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence, and the general theme for this particular blog entry.

The pursuit of Happiness is to me, the pursuit of positive experiences (is to me) to achieve more happiness in life.

Playing electronic and video games, watching television, reading, going for coffee, going for beers, are some popular pastime pursuits enjoyed by Western consumers.

The reason we engage in such pursuits is because we want to.  Such choices are our choices, exercises of our free will.  (When we are forced into doing things, these experiences then are not as positive, maybe even negative.)

Attempting to make the world fit OUR desires is called Primary Control.  Anytime we try to force the world into our personal agenda is most often a futile exercise in control, resulting in a certain dissonance.   

Learning the flexibility of controlling our actions to our experiences is called Secondary Control.  Being flexible in the circumstance is a worthwhile exercise in harmonically going with the flow.
Secondary Control is the true test to adjust to uncontrollable situations.  Having secondary control is having PERSONAL POWER, or in other words, FREE WILL.

Having positive personal power, though, demands thought and action. 
First, we must be aware of the times when we are not in control.  (Consider such times as happy accidents, or random luck.)  For more personal enjoyments, try to always engage in the not-in-control experience.  Positive benefits will always enrich the experience.  Laugh and enjoy the moment, be it by your design or not.

Here is the lesson:  Real personal power demands that you evaluate your life carefully and always attempt to appreciate and enjoy the experience.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose/ Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free.”  When you’ve nothing to lose – you can do whatever you please.  Nothing left to lose is a rather anti-consumerism expression:  OUR THINGS OWN US.

This brings to mind explanation of my snappy title, STATE OF PLAY:  FREE WILL OR FREE TIME.
First there is my pun on play, as in romp or strum.  Recreation (synonym for play) can be the constructive use of our free time, free, being another pun.

Free can mean from obligation, or free as in a dollar value.  If free is interpreted as a perceived leisure, then free means an intrinsic motivation of sorts.

Free offers three levels of connotation and inference; first as in time, second as in activity, and third as in a state of mind. 

I’m presenting so far that our values of free time could very well be a time versus money dilemma.  This dilemma, measured according to money, offers only the visceral heart vs head, zero-sum solution.

Or the value of free time could be a social value, the construct allocation of time (and money) to another person, or other people, volunteerism (coaching) for example.

Or the value of free time could be recreational value, the construct activity done for enjoyment, amusement, pleasure, or in a word … FUN.

In my free time I watch CNN for twenty minutes every day on television, just to catch up on the national news, expecting any day now to discover that our obsessed birther, Don Trump, was actually born in Russia and is now a mole serving the Soviet regime.  In my free time I read Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and Al Jazeera news, every morning at 5 o’clock a.m. while I sip my Americano coffee.  In my free time my zeitgeber every morning betwixt 5:30 and 6:00 I go the gym for a weightlifting workout.  In my free time I take Muay Thai on Monday evenings.  In my free time I write in delusional earnest, books that are soon-to-be best sellers and my weekly blog, the one you’re reading right now.  In my free time I play guitar, either busking or gigging or both.  In my free time I go downtown to watch and support my guitar buddies playing live in the downtown pubs.  In my free time I play nine-ball every Saturday afternoon.  All these mentioned activities are intrinsically motivated – all these activities are for me … FUN.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.
As long as we have something to lose, our actions are constrained by our need to protect it. 


Here is what I know:


Monday, February 20, 2017



Every company has two organizational structures; the first and formal one that is published, presenting flow charts complete with a stiff-lined human hierarchy, individual embellished job descriptions, and abstract mission statements; and the second and informal one, the actual animated day-to-day and recurring relationships amongst the drones and worker bees buzzing around their honeycombed cubicles.
Any work-smart person knows that interpersonal relationships are everything.  In Corporate America the dollar value of any company is completely dependent upon interpersonal relationships that are fundamentally established both within and without the company.

I shall begin this Yin-Yang oneversation contrasting corporate (formal) and corporal (informal) company policies.

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company,” said Mark Twain.  Except the company he was referring to were the people in his social surrounding, rather than the abstract notion of a company.  I particularly like this line because I’m writing about those people who go to Hell for the abstract notion, oftentimes sacrificing the people within the social circle, the very corporal company they should be keeping, and I’m writing about those people who always seem to be in a Heaven of sorts, and those would be the buskers.

Company Hell is always because of company policy, because company policy is that expectation MANAGEMENT has for EMPLOYEES.  Company policy conducts work expectations, conflicts of interests, and consumer relationships.

Abstract company (corporate) policy dictates physical appearance and dress code. All employees must be clean and well-groomed.  Clothing must be work appropriate, and all clothing must avoid stamps that are deemed offensive.  A corporate compromise does come to mind: Casual Fridays being one of the few compromises.  

Both abstract (corporation) and concrete (corporal) company policy dictate behavior.  Both abstract and concrete company demand compromise.  Abstract company policy insists that all employees must comply with environmental and safety laws.  Interpersonal real people company policy dictates that employees must demonstrate respect for their colleagues, which includes discriminatory behavior, harassment, or victimization.  Company policy dictates what types of intertwined personal and professional relationships with consumers are acceptable.

Company policy also protects company property and dictates the use of equipment.  Company policy strictly regulates the use of organizational assets for personal activities or personal gain.
So much for my prelude on abstract and concrete, on corporate assets and corporal acquaintances – it is time now my notions on company policy as it relates to gigging and busking.

While gigging one is obliged to adhere to company (corporate) policy; while busking one is obliged to adhere to company (corporal) policy.  Not adhering to company (corporate) policy while gigging will result in termination; while, not adhering to company (corporal) policy while busking will result in a serious shortfall (of tossed coin).

Company policy when gigging and busker involves integrity, communication, and discipline.
When a performer signs up for a gig there are some formal obligations.  Show up on time (being also a courtesy for the professional doing the sound-check), have a polished stage performance with designed play-list, and be pleasant and cordial with the company staff. 

BUSHWAKKER BREW PUB (in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) is a pub where I have had lots of gigs.  Being somewhat of a tradition now, this is my typical behavior for these gigs.  I always show up an hour ahead of show time, and chat with the sound person.  I’ve been on the Bushwakker stage enough times that I actually know the sound person will be either Curtis or Tyson.  I treat these guys with total respect because first, they are really sincere individuals.  They know their sound and their professional purpose is to bring out the best sound in me

Also, because of the frequent familiarity, I know the bar managers and servers.  Necessarily, as familiar strangers, I know all their names and am always friendly to all of them.  I am never demanding and they always treat me royally.

Here is my gigging shtick at Bushwakkers.  I get four formal gig contracts per year.  In every contract I have the proviso to recruit anyone I’ve deemed qualified to share my stage, which typically has been other guitar slinging singer-songwriters.  These contracts at the BUSHWAKKER BREW PUB insist on two hours of stage performance.  Sometimes I recruit just one other guitar slinger, sometimes I recruit a half dozen; whatever the case, at the end of the evening I simply divide the profits accordingly. 

The highlight of gigging is the sharing of new original songs with my guitar mates and audience members.  Sharing contract free brews and telling guitar stories around the table with my stage mates is, too, another attraction.  

For the most part, the only time I see these other singer-songwriters is at such gigs.  This is by my design.  I am never even pretending to be in a band at gigs.  We each do our own thing.  When there are just two of us sharing the stage, we simply take turns singing our own songs.  When there are more than two guitar-slingers, I simply block off stage times, allotting so many minutes for each solo performance.  Having four singular singer-songwriters each owning the stage for thirty minutes seems to the winning formula thus far. 

For gigs over the years I’ve learned to recruit only those singer-songwriters that for reasons whatever, I’ve learned to trust.  In the past, but not anymore, I’ve had people show up late, people not show up at all, people complain that they cannot enjoy free food as well as the free beer (only free beer in the company contract).  I’ve had performers complain to the sound person, and have experienced performers just being difficult.  In a word, they are ass-holes.

These difficult ones are confusing their company duties, mixing up corporate with corporal.  Gigging is definitely a corporate contract, and demands compromise.

Busking, on the other hand, demands not the same sense of corporate compromise.  Busking demands only an informal personal and moral compromise.  To be good at busking it helps to be solid with your moral principles.  For example, busking at theatre and funeral lines (both captive audiences) is not cool.  Infringing on the territory of other buskers is not cool.  Store-front busking without vendor permission is not cool.  You get the point.

Busking does involve strong communication skills, but not in the same sense as those necessary in gigging.  Busking has one definite advantage:  You don’t have to talk; you just have to nod your head as a thank-you and strum, or strum and sing as the case may be.

And busking does demand discipline, but it’s only self-discipline.  If you dilly dally you get little coin. Unlike a gig, if you don’t show you’re terminating yourself.  It’s that simple.  The more you strum, the more money you make.        

Going to Heaven for the climate and going to Hell for the company, I’m still doing both.  I busk in warmer climes, but still put in long hours for my contract counseling work.

When I express company policy as Yin-Yang I am meaning I’ve a doppelganger need for company both corporate and corporal.  Gigging gives me the necessary corporate angst so that I really appreciate busking.   As for gigging and busking, I cannot quit either one because …

                IT’S THE COMPANY I KEEP!





Sunday, February 5, 2017



It was blowing snow this morning as I watched a thirty-something fellow in his hospital jammies and robe run past my RDX. (I was on my way home from Gold’s Gym.)   
I’m assuming he was AWOL from the Psychiatric Ward at the General Hospital, near where I live.  Reflecting on this … I should have beeped my horn and offered him a ride to wherever.  I was going the opposite direction when he ran by and I did make a U turn in this attempt but … he disappeared.

This blog is about the shuffle of life and about the cards that we’re dealt, the cards we’re dealt again and again.  Presumably, this runaway patient was trying to re-shuffle the deck in his life, in his current situation, as all of us are constantly re-shuffling and re-reading the cards we’re dealt.

Some of us, guys like me, were dealt a winning hand from the get-go.  I’m tall (six foot one); I’m dark (but now a bleached California surfer); I’m very middle-class; and I’m male sex and gender.  None of these aforementioned privileges were earned; they just are.

Recently I went for a card reading, the perfect example of projective psychology in commercial action.  For one hundred dollars, under the direction of the card seer, I re-evaluated my life, accordingly, to my desired outcome.

Reading regular decks of cards is called CARTOMANCY.   Here are some of the most common readings:

KING OF HEARTS … a loving male family member.
QUEEN OF HEARTS … a loving female family member.
KING OF DIAMONDS … a wealthy male in a position of authority.
QUEEN OF DIAMONDS … a wealthy female in a position of authority.
KING OF CLUBS … a business man with sexual desire.
QUEEN OF CLUBS … a business woman with social desire.
KING OF SPADES … an ambitious male outsider who is arrogant and deceptive.
QUEEN OF SPADES … an ambitious female outsider who is cold and calculating.

Some other divines from a regular deck suggest that HEARTS represent WATER, DIAMONDS represent EARTH, CLUBS represent FIRE, and SPADES represent AIR.

Typically, the client will shuffle the deck as much as is satisfactory to the client and then the diviner offers three-card spreads.  From left to right those three-card spreads represent the past, present, and future.  These three-card spreads usually extend up to a nine-card grid, three cards in three rows.

Cartomancy is really another form of projective testing.  Projective tests, usually reserved for therapeutic settings, provide the client-participant with an ambiguous stimulus, which in turn reveals the underlying motivations and attitudes of those client-participants.  The most famous projective test is the Rorschach Inkblot (see my blog, INKSPOTS AND BLOGSPOTS: A BUSKOLOGIST PERSPECTIVE published March 20th, 2016).

A card diviner/reader/seer has the unique esemplastic ability to shape all of these singular cards distributed on the nine-card grid, into a whole and unified life projection (picture).  And so, too, does the client, under the guidance of the seer.  So when and if the KING or QUEEN OF SPADES shows up, look out! I think you get the picture.

A thumbnail sketch of my reading:   

I am intelligent and outgoing (which I’m sure was determined not by the cards, but by the phatic chat before my cards were dealt).  I am having difficulty with someone close; someone in my life is both greedy and angry; I am destined to travel; I need to immediately take the reins of my own sweet chariot.

That fellow on the run through the snow banks, still in his hospital vestments, was at the very least, in the throes of attempting to grapple with the reins of his own chariot.  In our social and work lives rarely do we get to deal our own cards, and once the cards are dealt, we have little option but to play the cards we’ve been dealt.  Most of us play our cards with the accords of social convention; whereas, there is always a statistical few who do not.  The number of people committing crime, for example, is a number that is static.  Playing a game of solitaire is not only lonely, it is delusional.  We primates of the human condition are featherless and gregarious creatures, loving the notion of community and social competition.  Not many among us prefer to be scriveners in dimly lit libraries or in the moonlit stairwells of lighthouses.  Not many among us want someone else to shuffle our playing cards or ... to mix the metaphor ... take over the reins of our chariots.

Meanwhile, back at the busking ranch …

As a projective test, the cards can certainly be energizing and enlightening for some, while being enervating and draining for others.  Human life is macedoine of struggle and success, and wherever we happen to be in either a struggle or success, we all been knocked about and knackered to get there.  Admittedly, cartomancy seems to better fit those for us who tend to be laissez-faire or libertine in attitude, each card a memento of what WE REALLY WANT TO DO.  No matter how many times we shuffle the deck, our cards will always read that we can do what WE REALLY WANT TO DO.  

We buskers most certainly fall into the catalogue of laissez-faire and/or the libertine catalogue of the human condition.  And because we can be catalogued as such ...  

Buskers are among those who have gripped the reins of their own chariots, with little regard for the optics of other social judges.