Hey! It’s been a while!

About three years I guess.

Where did I go?

Well, back in 2012, I started working in the oilfield. There just wasn’t much time for blogging. What can I say about it? I made some good friends and decent money.

Most of you probably know me better as one who likes to draw and paint, but this whole time I’ve been playing around on guitar and bass. I always liked to make stuff up, but I had a hard time remembering what I had played, and no way to record it.

During those three years in the patch, I accumulated some guitars and recording equipment, and I saved enough so that I could focus on music for a while.

In January, I started playing with various musicians around town. At first I rocked the bass, learned some covers, and for the first time in years I was able to carry a tune from beginning to end. Then I switched to electric guitar, which was more challenging.

In the process I met a singer, who, like me, wanted to come up with original music, rather than play other people’s stuff. We began writing.

At first, I played electric guitar. But, when we realized it was just going to be the two of us, I switched over to acoustic guitar and haven’t looked back.

The MW BandA few months later, and we are nearly ready to release our first songs. One of them, I am proud to say, is a tribute to veterans. You can read about how this song came to be on our website.

Actually, I am proud of all our songs. They’ll be out soon, so please stay tuned to the MW Band website. I can’t wait for you to hear this.

Bill is extremely creative when it comes to photography and video. We have a “promoter” now, known as The Head. You can check out The Head on our youtube page.

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying the creative process. It hasn’t been easy, but finally I am doing what I have wanted to do for years, and I believe we have what it takes to be successful enough so I won’t have to go back to the patch. (Actually I just picked up a road construction job, and the first thing they did was put me on a jack-hammer. Hopefully I won’t have to do that for too long.)

I will post some updates here, maybe some behind-the-scenes stuff. For those who are into social media, we are also on Facebook, Reverb Nation, and Youtube.

Also, I suggest clicking here to join the MW Band mailing list. You’ll be the first to know when our songs come out.

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Thanks for reading! Take a minute and leave a comment if you would. Or send me an email at MWBand.Justin@Gmail.Com. I’d like to know what you’ve been up to.

Best regards,

Justin

 

Headlines, and some art.

IN THE NEWS:

Headline of the Week:Moving Right Along: Zooming through the holidays with the runs,” from the Eugene Weekly.   Am I the only one who thinks that is funny? 

I also made headlines: “What makes ‘the Whit’ tick?”, in the Eugene Register Guard. Not actually about me.  To borrow from Hamlet,  “Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would pluck out the heart of my mystery.”

Edgy headline:  Emerging Face of a Nationless World. This video shows artists and musicians from around the world.  Check the violinist riding the waves.

IN THE ARTS:

While creating a series of paintings, I began thinking of a poem written by Irishman William Butler Yeats, in 1919.

I now present to you,

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The Second Coming

Poem by William Yeats

Art by Justin Whitney

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

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Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

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Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

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The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Source of Yeats Poem: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw351.html

Connecting with Bloggers: A Confession Wrapped in a Tutorial

It takes effort to get noticed. Thousands of articles discuss what bloggers need to do to succeed. They must be tech-savvy, practical, personable, hard-working, strong communicators, perpetually learning how to optimize their activities to keep the traffic flowing.  It’s not easy, and a lot of talented bloggers don’t get much attention.  Just look at all the abandoned blogs.

I am doing alright for a beginner, not because of my content (although I think my paintings are nice), but because I connect with other bloggers.  Connecting is one aspect of blogging where I feel completely at ease.  It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s a good learning experience.  It brings more readers back to my blog than anything I’ve tried.  I get to meet a lot of interesting people from around the world and from various walks of life. Some of my best article ideas come from my responses to other people’s ideas.

Most bloggers are easy to talk to.  By trade, they are open, accessible, and willing to take on in-depth conversations with complete strangers.  I am careful not to underestimate the people behind the gravatars.  They are real people, after all.  What am I asking of these people before I comment?  Am I commenting just to get my name out?  That is kind of the name of the game.  I just try to be personable, despite the lack of face-to-face contact.

I have a few other traits that work for me.  First, I am interested in people. I don’t rush the process of coming up with a point of view, making observations, and asking questions.  I take a step back and allow myself to feel the content and the person who created it.

I don’t always have the best manners. Maybe I have an agenda, and I think many of us do. I just try to be respectful, try not to trample over someone else’s points. And if I do, whoops, it happens to the best of us. Things come out wrong. Sometimes, I get a little too excited, leave one too many comments, only to discover later that I said something off-tone or out of context.  I don’t sweat it.  Some people find my mistakes charming.  Most bloggers are patient, tactful, even caring with visitors.  After all, they, too, are playing the numbers game, and they don’t want to drive visitors away.

Mostly, I try to focus on blogs similar to my own, where my thoughts will resonate, but sometimes I venture into uncharted territory.  Lately I find myself immersed in techie-blog articles.  By the time I reach the end, I think, hey, I’ve been here this long, I am going to say something, even though I have no substance to contribute. I just chime in and speak my truth.  Why not, right? Someone has to wake up the nerds.  What are they gonna do?  Click on my site, possibly.  Not saying this is the best strategy; it’s just something to try at least once.

Comments reveal personality, perhaps more than articles. That is one reason why it is so hard to get people to leave comments at first, because the reader only sees the post, not how the host interacts in the comments.  Once a few exchanges have taken place, then it seems like more bloggers will feel comfortable and start chiming in, but only if they like the tone of the discussion. If a blogger strikes me as unkind, I leave, no comment.  If I like what I see, then I am likely to let the person know.

Funny, isn’t it, how commenting compels us to take up conversations with random strangers?  Then, there is that permanent record of the exchange that anyone can come back to at any time, possibly even years later. I imagine that nothing in history compares with this form of communication.  It enables a wide range of people to cover a wide range of subjects over a long period of time. I don’t know what to make of it. The scheme is too complex for me.

There is a lot to love about getting to know other bloggers. They make me laugh, they make me think, I’m pretty sure none of them can make me cry, although some of them scare me a little bit. The fun part is finding people who resonate with me, whose demeanor and interests are compatible with mine. That is the unexpected payoff that not many bloggers talk about.

The pros might say that if I am interested in numbers, then I am spending too much time connecting with individual bloggers, but do I have to sacrifice quality connections for the sake of numbers?

After working at this for a few weeks, I am pleased that I now have a core group of bloggers with whom I am starting to interact with some frequency. Some of these bloggers attract tons of visitors, others are just learning the ropes like me.  Some are trying to make money, some are just doing this for fun or for some other reason.  I hope some of them are making money.

Friends…

By Alishiya Honey

Who are your friends?

Your friends are your companions, your daily-mates, your soul-connectors, your peace of mind, your mental stimulants, that restless part of your energy, the people who you can be yourself with.

Your friends are your sounding-boards, your reflection in the mirror, your reality-check, the people you can be absolutely silent with and realize it’s the best conversation you ever had, the people or person you are so utterly fond of and you know for a fact that you’d do absolutely anything for them which could be in your reach or beyond it.

They are the people you can have the greatest times with and at the same time cry your heart out and not feel ashamed of those honest, salty tears.

They are the people who you want to do things for off-guard for completely no particular reason but simply because you want to remind them how they are so special to you and make up a part of your daily life.

We don’t remind ourselves enough of how they complete us and fill in that missing part which we were seeking and felt was incomplete or unfinished that required completion and wholeness.

Our friends are images of ourselves and reflect our inner beings: the beautiful as well as the ugly sides, all those contradictions and dualities, all the possible chaos, confusions, complexities and insecurities: all that’s bubbling furiously within us.

Those are our friends: our pillars of strength, the people who play the role of listeners, or the advisors, those people who inspire, aspire, admire, influence and appreciate and accept us for who we are.

Mainly, our friends are our conscious beings who unconsciously show us who we really are all about from within.   They are the subtle sparks that throw light on our actual inner-selves.

Those are our FRIENDS…

They surprisingly could be our competitors, the people who we’re jealous of, or envious of, or in awe of: the people who challenge us, the people who are beyond us: the people who surprise and amaze us, shock us, baffle us, capture our attention spontaneously and do things randomly.

We don’t realize this is just us talking to ourselves.  It’s amazing, fabulous, and wondrous.  It’s really something to feel great about.

Each of our friends have a part of themselves in us and we have a part of ourselves within them; it’s a discreet and beautiful exchange.