Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do what your mommy says to avoid the swine flu!

I'm sure you have all heard by now, there's a "scary" disease spreading around called the swine flu. It's contracted by contact with pigs that are infected but is spreadable through humans. The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Wow, that is scary! I got the flu about one and a half years ago and these symptoms sound identical to what I had! I wonder if I had the swine flu before people were even aware of it. Maybe I should call the Center for Disease Control and let them know about my swine flu from over a year ago? Maybe I'm the one who spread it around? Over the last year and a half, I've flown to all the places it's popping up; New York, California, Kansas, Texas, Mexico - it's probably all my fault! I better call my counselor because I'm going to have some serious post-traumatic stress disorder over this!

Richard Besser, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that although ordinary human flu accounts for 36,000 deaths every year, he was concerned by this strain. "I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," Besser said at an Atlanta news conference.

"36,000 DEATHS FROM ORDINARY HUMAN FLU"!! Now, how many deaths have occurred from the swine flu in the United States so far - NONE! ZERO! ZILCH! NADA! Why are we so worried about a flu that hasn't killed anyone in the US when there's another flu floating around - the ordinary human flu - that kills 36,000 people a year!?

My favorite advice from the CDC on how to prevent the swine flu is this;

-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Immediately dispose of the tissue.

-Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to protect from germs, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; this spreads the germs.

-Avoid close contact with sick persons and stay home if you are sick.

-Practice other good health habits, including getting plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.


I remember when I was, ohhhhh, about five years old - my mom gave me the very same advice! I guess some people need the government to be their mommy. So boys and girls, do what your mommy says and maybe you won't get the swine flu.

Good luck.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, a time for the tree huggers of the world to tell all their non-tree hugger friends that they should recycle more, drive less, and try not to breathe as much - you know, because of global warming. They'll tell you that the Earth is our mother and we need to respect her and what she provides for us.

Can I just say something? B as in B, S as in S! The Earth is NOT my mother. I have a wonderful mother who I have great respect for. But the Earth, well....the Earth is a place. Since when did it acquire a gender?

I hope no one was offended by the term "tree hugger." I love to give people hugs - people - not trees. One time, I almost hugged a tree accidentally. I was trying to stretch my calf muscle after a bike ride and the only thing I could prop my foot on was a nearby tree. I put my arms on the side of the tree, much like a 6th grade boy dancing with a girl for the first time would put his hands on her hips. After I started stretching my calf, I quickly stopped when I realized that it could appear to a passerby that I was literally hugging a tree. So let me just clear the air, I have never hugged a tree.

When it comes to being Earth friendly, I'm not always the friendliest. I try to avoid public transportation. I'm probably never going to drive a hybrid vehicle. I never bring my own grocery bag to the grocery store. I don't use any sort of alternative energy like solar power or wind energy. I certainly don't use fluorescent lights either, they give me a headache and remind me of high school history class.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors, I love the endorphins I get from a long bike ride, I even love my granola cereal in the morning. For those of you thinking I don't recycle - I do. As a matter of fact, the recycling bin is usually much fuller than the trash bin. I don't pour oil down the drain, but that's mostly because I don't change my own oil. I like organic fruits and veggies, I even ate a Cliff bar for breakfast yesterday.

Holy cow, now that I read all that. It makes me realize that I might be more Earth friendly than I think.

Oh well - Happy Earth Day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's Tough Being Famous

There's a song by the Dave Matthews Band called Steady As We Go. It's one of the most beautiful love songs I've ever heard. I decided to learn how to play it on the piano over a year ago. Anybody that plays the piano probably could have sat down in an afternoon and learned this song, it wasn't so easy for me though because I don't really know how to read music all that well. When I got the sheet music I went through, note by note and actually wrote out the letters that corresponded to each note on the page. I started learning this song and practiced hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and finally I got to the point that I had it memorized. I eventually posted a video of me playing it on YouTube. It's been on YouTube now for about 7 months and has had over 1,700 views! I've had several good comments on it despite the poor sound quality and occasional mistakes.

A few weeks ago, a girl named Melanie wrote me and asked if I would record this song onto a disc to be used in her wedding! I was really surprised and humbled by this request. I couldn't believe someone actually wanted to use something that I played, in something so special as her wedding! I told her I would get it done and have it ready for her special day. All I needed to figure out was how I was going to record this onto a CD.

I started taking guitar lessons about a year ago. My guitar instructor Matt has a studio in the basement of his house. It's quite the place, mixing boards, synthesizers, four computers that all talk to each other, walls filled with speakers and sub woofers, not to mention all of his guitars. Because of this, he also has guard dog's and a high tech security system that rivals Fort Knox (so don't even think of trying to get in). I asked Matt if recording a song onto a CD would be possible. He kind of laughed, apparently that's like asking a librarian if you can apply for a library card, not really an issue. We ran over the different options of how to record and decided that I would bring my keyboard over to his studio and record it onto one of his computers.

When the time came to record, I was excited! I had never recorded anything that would be put onto a disc and actually be used in public. I arrived at the studio under tight security. After signing a few autographs on my way into the studio, we got the keyboard set up and started recording. After I finished playing the song, Matt transferred it to another computer for finishing and burning. He has the technology to fine tune the playing and fix any mistakes I might have made. In order to save time, however, we did a raw recording first and it actually turned out well enough that nothing needed to be fixed.

We're in the final phases of production (which is basically printing a picture of Melanie and her fiance onto the disc) and then it'll be shipped out to the fans. Well, it'll be shipped out to one fan anyway. I may not be a famous musician one day, but thanks to Melanie, I got to experience something that a lot of people only dream of - recording a song onto a disc in a music studio.

By the way, I'm available for public appearances and performances.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

YouTube Videos

With all the forms of on-line communication and entertainment out there, one of my favorites is YouTube! I can't tell you how much time I've wasted watching 30 second videos. I think I'm only going to watch one or two videos but two hours later I find myself giggling as I watch a kid with an English accent let his brother Charlie bite his finger.

I have also wasted a lot of time making YouTube videos. I guess I have always secretly wanted to be a movie producer. I don't think I'm the only one out there who's had this dream. Haven't we all wanted to be part of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle at some point in our not-so-glamorous lives? Yesterday I made a really cool behind the scenes look at what an airline pilot gets to see on a daily basis. You won't find it on YouTube anymore though. After getting some advice from a well respected friend and collegue, I took it down. As proud of this movie as I was, it was too behind the scenes for the average YouTube viewer.

I'm getting ready to make another YouTube video soon (and yes, I realize I have too much time on my hands). Until the next video comes out, you can see other YouTube videos I've made at:

http://www.YouTube.com/SmilinPaul