Dec 10, 2009

In-Ear Moniter Mixing: Tips and Techniques

After several years of using Aviom in-ear montering systems at Hillcrest, I've grown very fond of them and can hardly imagine ever going back to ear-blasting wedge-moniters again. My fellow worship-team members, however, have given me some mixed reviews about them, and I hope to address the most common complaints (namely, "I can't hear myself") here.

Compared to traditional "wedge" moniters (live speakers on the stage), in-ears have many advantages. First and foremost is the advantage in FOH (front-of-house) audio mixing quality. Without the "sonic pollution" of on-stage wedge moniters, the FOH engineer is able to portray an uncluttered audio mix. Before our in-ear days at Hillcrest, the excess noise being thrown around by a stage full of wedgies was resulting in the FOH mix being compromised by this excess noise.

Another advantage to in-ear monitering is the ability to control one's own moniter mix. Gone are the days of shouting back to the sound tech, "I need more guitar... More... More... No, more...". With the Aviom mixers on stage, each band member can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and not to mention do it in stereo.

The downside to all this flexibility is that it often leads to confusion. People want to hear themselves first and foremost, but if that's all you're hearing you're really missing out, and your performance may be suffering as well. The key to using in-ear moniters is getting a perfect mix. With wedge moniters, it's easy (and often necessary) to scrape by with a so-so mix. But in-ears are much less forgiving; however, when the right mix is achieved, they're worth the effort.

Achieving a perfect mix starts with the musician/singer. As with anything, if you're shy, unpracticed, or otherwise unprepared, no advice is going to save you. After that, its very important to get the right ear buds to fit your ears, and insert them so that they create a tight seal (you should hear your "head voice" when talking) and insert each bud into the corresponding ear (red=right, blue=left). Once you've got your buds in your ears and plugged into your mixer, you can start mixing.

First, here's a picture of our mixers and how they are labeled:

G=guitar and v= vocal. So, G2 is "Guitar #2," V2 is "Vocal #2," etc.

Here's a method I've found useful for getting a good mix:
  1. Begin with the Master volume at about 1 o'clock, and the Treble/Bass controls and nominal level (12 o'clock).

  2. Select your channel and bring its volume to about 50-75%.

  3. Put all other instruments/vocals to roughly 50%, all "non-musical things" (pastor's mic, handheld mic, etc) to about 25%, and completely turn off all unused channels (to avoid excess noise).

  4. Stereo panning is the key! Generally, you're going to want yourself in the center, along with bass and drums in the center because they're the rhythmic/chordal foundation of the music. Everything else--acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, voilin, other vocals, etc--should be panned incrementally and equally to either side to create a "stereo image" of the whole band. (See my example below.) What this does is keep all the sonic elements uncluttered in your head. Details below...

  5. Raise/lower the various channels to your liking. Remember, it's better to subtract than to add. For example, if you can't hear yourself, try subtracting things you have too much of. If necessary, adjust the panning of the channels if one side of your head feels "heavier" than the other.

  6. Save your mix. This is done by holding down both Recall and Group buttons, and pressing a channel number. Your mix can later be recalled by pressing Recall and then selecting the channel number you used previously. (Changes to your mix are not automatically saved; you must re-save it after making changes in order for those changes to be recalled later.) When saving your mix at rehearsal, you can call it up Sunday morning and spare yourself a BIG hassle.

What is panning? Panning simply refers to creating a stereo image (left/right). If everything is in the center, all the sonic elements are going to be competing for your brain's attention. For example, acoustic guitar and piano generally occupy the same frequency range, therefore your brain has a hard time distinguishing between them. But, when one of them is in your left ear, and the other in your right, they become distinct and clear. Also, you'll need less volume on each of their channels to hear them, freeing up "space" for other sonic elements.

Here's an example of a typical mix I might use when playing electric guitar. (I'm in channel 10, labeled G2.)

As you can see, I'm using almost no background vocals. I don't NEED them as a guitar player, so they just create sonic clutter for me. I'll usually pick one background vocal (in this case, V2) to give myself a little feeling for the songs' vocals, but the other 2 are very quiet and panned hard left/right. Keyboard and acoustic guitar (labeled "ben guitar") are partially and equally left and right, and lead vocal ("ben vocal") is a touch to one side--just enough to make it more clear. Crowd mics are hard left/right.

This brings me to one last point. As a worship team member you may have noticed in the last few weeks that there are now channels on the Aviom mixers labeled CL ("crowd left") and CR ("crowd right"). The channels correspond to the microphones we've set up on the stage facing the audience. These microphones do exactly what their name implies: Pick up the sound of our fellow worshipers in the congregation plus a little ambient noise. I've found this extremely helpful in overcoming the common isolation-anxiety associated with in-ear moniters. They allow us to hear the crowd's response and hear them singing and clapping along which enhances the experience greatly.

I hope this helps you get a better mix in your in-ear moniters. The better the mix, the less distracted you'll be, and the better leader/performer you'll be on stage.


Sep 23, 2009

Don't credit the music

Music gets way too much credit as a form of God-worship. I believe that music (and any other art, Christian or otherwise) is always worship, but worship can be many other things than music. So why do we do it so regularly? What is its value spiritually? Why is it that only in church we find ourselves singing with a bunch of strangers? It's quite queer, really.

Perhaps it is because music is always “just and good” (Psalm 33:5), even in the midst of imperfect singers and musicians. I think God created music as a sort of gift that allows humans to create something out of nothing. Think about it--songwriting is essentially creating something out of thin air--not from compiling other pre-existing parts and pieces (sans cookie-cutter pop music), but something that only exists because its wholeness exists.

When we get together and sing as a church, it is our time to worship God with each other. It's not "my time" to worship God. Rob Bell said something about the significance of submission in corporate worship--Submitting to each other (singing together) for the greater good of the wholeness of the song and its rhythms and melodies. What a great metaphor for the work of the people: The congregation is held in submission to each other by the song's melody, tempo, and key. And the band members are held accountable to the music by each having their own role in creating the music, and therefore "leading" (although I don't like that word).

If somebody deserts their role for the sake of glorifying themselves, the song (the good work) ceases to exist.


Aug 21, 2009

Drops like stars

A quick note... I'm about to leave for Minneapolis to catch Rob Bell's "Drops Like Stars" tour in support of his new book. Being one of my favorite speakers/authors/pastors/persons, this will surely inspire a new blog entry in the coming days (hopefully).

Also, I'm taking the motorcycle which tends to exacerbate the spirtual element of the obiquitous roadtrip experience. But now I'm just creating expectations, so I better shut up.

Oh I almost forgot... Better do a quick checklist of post-modern-emergent-church-function sterotypes:

  • Flannel shirt: Check.
  • Nerdy glasses: Check.
  • Coffee cup glued to hand: Check.
  • Permission granted to self to be the first to scream "hell yes" instead of "amen" during the seminar because I need to show everyone that I'm sooo beyond modernity: Check.
  • Preference of Macs to PC's: Check.

Splendid. I'm good to go.


Aug 15, 2009

You wanna know what really grinds my gears? When people use the word "ironic" when they really mean "highly coincidental".

Yeah, that really grinds my gears.

Back to you, Tom.


Jul 21, 2009


In response to my previous post ("Jesus is a Liar...", see below), I'd like to take a page from Brian McLaren's book "A New Kind of Christian". (Yes, that's the crazy one about how evolution is not a curse-word.) Also, Richie may or may not have pointed this out for me. But I swear, I read the book before he pointed it out. Anyway...

McLaren alliterates theology to windows. When you look out the window of, say, a hospital, you can see the sky, and you can see it going on infinitely. But you're still not seeing the whole sky. You can go to somebody else's room and look out their window to see another part of the sky, but you're still not seeing the whole thing. Then you can leave the hospital alltogether, look straight up on a cloudless night, and it's better, but still futile.

So once again, the key to Universe boiles down to mystery. Mmm, I LOVE not understanding things.


Jun 26, 2009

Jesus is a liar! No, wait... I mean... that came out wrong.

I came across this story today, which is a very Eastern Orthodox view of Jesus which I feel my Westen upbringing has missed. In summary, it goes something like this:

A long time ago, there was a king who ruled over a great kingdom, with many cities. The king was a good king, granting his people the freedom they deserved. But eventually, some people in one of the distant cities began to take advantage of their freedom by rebelling and doing whatever they wanted, eventually breeding a lifestyle of violence, hatred, murder, rape, slavery, and fear. The king thought to himself, "What should I do? If I take my army and conquer the city by force, the people will fight against me, and I'll have to kill so many of them, and the rest will only submit through fear or intimidation, which will make them hate me and all I stand for even more. How does that help them--to be either dead or imprisoned or secretly seething with rage? But if I leave them alone, they'll destroy each other, and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they're causing and experiencing."

So the king did something unexpected: He left his castle and his royalty, dressed in grubby clothes, and lived among the people of this rebelling city incognito. He pitched a cardboard box by a dumpster and lived there, making a living fixing broken pottery and furniture. He exemplified kindness and goodness and respectfullness and fairness so much so that people began to notice him, eventually became infatuated with him. People gathered around him, followed him, and when the subject of the rebellion came up, he told them that their king had a better way to live for them, a way which he exemplified and taught. People started growing in their confidence in him, eventually mimicing his worldview in their own lives.

Their movement grew, and eventually spread to enough people that they wanted to express regret for their mistakes, but were ashamed to go to the king and apologize for fear of the king destroying them. Then the king-in-disguise revealed himself as the king he really was, and in doing so accomplished through a subtle presence what never could have been accmplished through brute force.

He welcomed them back into his kingdom.

My initial thought after reading this was, "Wow, this really helps me understand the whole Jesus thing in a way I never have before." I felt like my mind was wrapped around the Trinity just a little more tightly: Jesus always has existed; God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit really are one, yet really are seperate; etc.

Then, just as I was starting to feel good about myself for understanding something that all my seminary-student friends love to tell me about, another much more Jesse-esque thought creeped in: "Holy crap... God is a big fat liar."

Did God really have to pretend to be a human to save the world? Did he trick us all into falling for him? Is Jesus just a pretty disguise used by God to fool us into thinking we can be saved? Is God a politician and Jesus his lobbyist?

Hmmm... Once again, I find myself going back to my black-and-white worldview. Maybe a different way of looking at it is this: Rather than God's becoming a human a form of manipulation, it's a form of humility--bringing himself down to my mere human level. God knows that I (albeit with much prodding) can relate with a human--I can't, however, find very much in common with the creater of the cosmos, even though that creator obviously wants to relate with me. So in a weird way, God HAS to "lie" to the world, for the world's own good, with the divine precognition that we have the capacity to realize that it isn't a lie at all--it's His ultimate, divine form of humility and vulnerablity.

Ok, this is the part of my writing process where I start to lose my train of thought, so I'm just going to hit "publish" now and wrap it up later. But in the meantime feel free to post comments as I work through my unquenchable cynisism of everything--Including (appearently) God.


May 25, 2009

The pedalboard

I've had some inquiries lately about what's on my pedalboard, so I'm gonna start directing people here for a detailed rundown.
First, the guitars:
  • Ibanez AK-75 Hollowbody w/ Piezo pickup in the bridge. I got this on evilBay and the previous owner installed the piezo pickup, which is "hidden" in the bridge. This pickup has a totally seperate audio path from the regular pickups, including its own dedicated output (there are 2 output jacks). The magnetic (or "regular") pickups are sent through Signal-A (see below) and the piezo is Signal-B via 2 cables snaked together.
  • Fender Highway1 Telecaster. This was my high school graduation present, and I'll always play this guitar for as long as it can take the beating of... well, of being a Telecaster. This guitar is always run via Signal-A (Signal-B becomes irrelevent).

The Pedalboard:

1. Ernie Ball Panning Pedal. This is a signal selector that blends between the afforementioned Signal-A and Signal-B. Signal-A is the regular pickups of the Ibanez (or the Telecaster) into the rest of the pedalboard and the amp. Signal-B takes the Ibanez's piezo (acoustic) signal, and sends it directly to the house P.A. system via an L.R. Baggs Para D.I. (upper right corner), bypassing the rest of the pedalboard entirely. So, the rest of Signal-A is...

2. Budda Wah.

3. Fulltone Fulldrive-2. This is my base overdrive tone. Gorgeous. This is on older model with the push/pull volume pot. I'm usually using the lightly compressed "Flat-mids" mode. (A note to guitarists: Do not--I repeat, DO NOT--buy the new "mosfet" versions. I don't know what Fulltone was thinking, but they suck.)

4. MXR Micro Amp. This is a boost for my Telecaster to compensate for it's lower output level. (Makes the soundguy happy.)

5. Wampler Super Plextortion. A Marshall JCM-800 sound, for when heavier distortion is desired.

6. Fulltone Fat-Boost. A lead boost.

7. Ernie Ball Volume. (Far left side.) Has a dedicated tuner-output for silent tuning (Boss TU-2 tuner). I purposely put this before the delay and reverb so that ambient pad and swelling sounds will trail off naturally between note/chord changes.

8. Boss RV-5 Reverb.

9. TC Electronics Nova Delay. Delay based on TC's former TC-2290 Dynamic Delay, made famous by U2's guitarist The Edge. The Modulated delay is awesome. The analog-modeled tone is decent, but not better than the real thing (pun intended).

The silver Vox box is for the amp's built in reverb and tremolo. The whole thing is mounted on a Pedaltrain, and powered by a Visual Sound One-Spot power supply (except for the Nova Delay).

And the amp: Vox AC-15. Mic'd with a Shure sm-57.

So there you have it. Occasionally I might throw on a chorus effect, vibrato, another delay, or whatever, depending on the song set. But this is basically it. And if you ever catch me when a flanger pedal, I give you permission to shoot me.


Apr 20, 2009

Things I learned this weekend...

...while leading worship for 175 middle-school students at a retreat aptly named CHAOS...

  • The lyrics to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" DO make sense. And if you think I'm lying, you weren't there.
  • Having sheet music in alternative keys typed up and ready to go is much better than transposing during rehearsal. And besides, my brain doesn't process chicken scratch when there's a guitar on my shoulder.
  • Always double-check that your wah pedal isn't cocked before starting the first song... ALWAYS. *punches self in head*
  • Organizing worship teams is harder than I thought, and whenever I'm on the other end of the team (i.e., playing an instrument but not leading) I need to cut the leader some slack when things aren't going smoothly, or unlike how I imagined.
  • My sister rocks.


Apr 17, 2009

Orchestration... & How to Ruin a Song

For a lack of anything better to write about today, I'm going to direct my billions of faithful readers to another blog entitled Guitar for Worship. The author (his name escapes me) has been a big influence on me regarding guitar playing, guitar gear, guitar tone, and what makes K-Pax such an incredible movie. (We all get side-tracked sometimes.) This particular post involves one of my favorite subjects: Making fun of Christian music. And Christian bookstores.

And Christians.

So without further a due...

Apr 3, 2009


To all my 3.4 readers: I know I havn't written in a long time--I guess I havn't felt very narcissistic. Which begs the question:

Is blogging narcissistic?

I mean, really... Who am I to think that anybody would go out of their way to hear what I have to say to an otherwise non-existant audience?

Hmmm... possibly more on this later.


Mar 3, 2009

Today I disabled and removed my motorcycle's PAIR-valve (Pulsed Air Induction Reed). The PAIR-valve is (supposedly) an emission-control system which allows the manufacturer to pass the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) vehicle emission standards. What is does is introduce fresh air into the exhaust system at the exhaust port just before being pumped out (and subsequently tested). In other words--and to the best of my knowledge*--it's just "watering down" the fuel vapor to pass the EPA test.

The main reason people remove their PAIR-valve is for aesthetic reasons--these things are gigantic chrome-covered eyesores covering up the cylinders on the right side of the bike. Also, it's technically illegal, which is always fun.

But, on a personal note, I also enjoy sticking it to the man. And in this case, that man is the EPA. Now, I'm not against the EPA per say (sorry, I hate that word too), but the whole PAIR-valve thing is ridiculous, and personifies very well the illegitimacy of the global warming debate. It's NOT reducing emissions, making the bike "greener", or preventing polar bears from falling through the ice. It's simply fooling the electronic sniffer.

So there you have it: Big government bureaucracy protecting you by using your money to enforce emission regulations that are only passed by means of falsified test results. But, those results sure sound swell on the evening news, don't they?

*which is very low.

Feb 17, 2009


Well, it's official: On March 1st I'll be starting my new gig as a Worship Ministry Intern at Hillcrest Church in Sioux Falls. I'm very excited and can't wait to get started. And, on an almost totally unrelated note, I'll also be reducing hours at my--eh hem--real job. Oh darn.

Now for the gooey part... Or, as the narrative voice in my head would say, "Little did he know..."

Up until a few months ago, I never thought I'd ever be in a paid position at a church. In fact, I'd always had a bit of a personal bias against it. And I really don't know why. I've never thought it wrong, or thought myself incapable (Ok, maybe a little), but I guess I just ruled it out very early on. The reason? Well, let's backtrack a little.

I started playing drums when I was 13. It was my first real musical venture--Marching band sucked (I played the sax, which I loved, but school band was basically a sport, not music), I had taken just enough piano lessons to "graduate" myself to drums, and it was time to do what I wanted. (Becuase every 13-yr-old knows what they want, right? Right.)

A year later, I thought I was pretty good. So I started a ska band with some classmates (naturally). A year later, that lead to another band called Empty Tomb--more of a "real" band. Over a couple years, we did some traveling, recorded two albums, all while making the all-too-typical transition from Greenday-punk to Thursday-screamo to Norma Jean-hardcore. And it was glorious.

Oh, I forgot to mention that during this time, from the very week I first picked up drumsticks, I had been playing in my church services. A little pre-mature? Perhaps. But everybody in the congregation--perhaps to their own dismay--told me how awesome I sounded after every service. So I continued, because... Everybody doesn't lie, right? Right. And even if they were (which I knew they weren't) it didn't matter, because church service aren't what I really cared about. The band--songwriting, touring, arguing, dreaming--was what really mattered to me.

And then the band ended. And I was left with church. Ewe. But to my credit, I tried to make the most of it. And I couldn't deny that it felt right, or at least that's what I was telling myself to justify not having a "real" band. So, without really telling anybody I focused on that for the next couple of years through the end of high school, and even started playing a little guitar and doing the dreaded "worship leader thing" every now and then. The joy-factor kinda came and went, but it kept me busy until something else came along.

Then in the spring of 2007 that something (seemed to have) came along. I made the cut as the drummer for a local singer/songwriter with a huge new album on the horizon, the promise of tons of touring, and the means to make it all happen. I had never been so encouraged in all my life--I was finally doing it. My big break had come. I'll save the details for later, but suffice it to say that after a year-and-a-half of mere foreplay (pardon the metaphor), it ended. And it was not pretty, both outwardly and inwardly.

So now The Story is at November of 2008. I'm 22, fresh off a tour with the aforementioned band, opening for a huge-name artist. It was FINALLY picking up, but I had no choice but to leave it all behind, and I didn't udnerstand why. I felt like I was back where I was at 17. But as usual, the key part of this story is "Little did he know...".

That's where the oppurtunity with the internship comes in. Little did I know that after all this, I'd end up doing the one thing I had written off years ago. Well, I guess "end up" is the wrong way to put it, because this obviously isn't the end of anything, but you get the point. God has an absolutely retarded way of conducting business. Or maybe I'm just spiritually blind... As I'm proofreading this, I'm realizing that I totally forgot to mention that in April of 2008 He sent me to Zambia to help lead worship at a conference there. And before that, the worship pastor at Hillcrest was mentoring me without me realizing (or perhaps, acknowledging) it. And before that, I had been recording music in my parents' basement that I later used for worship events. And before that, I remember the only thing keeping me going in life as a teenager was the foresight of my next gig, almost all of which were church worship events.

By the way, I apologize. This is WAY too long. So in conclusion... Ah, screw it. I'm sick of fabricating conclusions.


Feb 15, 2009

I got my sexy boots on...

In light of U2's new album due out later this spring, and seeing their performance on the Grammy's last week (you can make fun of my for that later), I thought I'd write a review of their new single, "Get on your boots". Then I realized that everything that could be said has already been said in another blog. So here's a link:

Suffice it to say, U2 is venturing back to their 90's "Achtung Baby" era, perhaps with a splash of Popmart/ZooTV. At first I was a little disappointed, but after taking a closer look and seeing the Grammy performance, I'm really quite excited for this new album.

Now exuse me while I go learn the "Discotheque" riff.


Jan 30, 2009

Stimulate this.

I cannot believe this so-called "stimulus" package (that's what she said) actually passed the House. A more appropriate name would be spending package. Actually, that doesn't even do it justice--I'd call it the stealing package.

This legislation is just another way to arbitrarily print money. Need a new TV? Uncle Sam will print you one out of thin air! Late on your mortgage in lieu of your new Escalade? Uncle Sam will print you cash to pay your bills! Is your nostalgia being threatened because the auto-makers might not be able to pay their workers $70 an hour to build crappy cars? It's OK!--As long as the CEO's sell 2 of their 7 private jets, I'm sure they can work something out!

After WW2, Germany started printing money to counter their post-war recession. Inflation went up so much (about 1000% per month) people were actually burning money to warm their homes.

The chart at the left shows how much money is in US circulation in billions of dollars, beginning in 1929 with the stock market crash. Notice it stays almost totally flat up until Nixon's genius idea to get rid of the Gold Standard (which meant the government could now print money just for fun), with a slight bump in 1941 in light of WW2. It continues to curve upward (C'mon, could you have resisted?) until the September 11 attacks, where it takes a pretty dramatic spike upward on account of everybody buying patriotic shoes that apparently countered terrorism.

Then there's that HUGE spike in October of 2008 to present. This is the auto/corporate bailouts. I can't even imagine what kind of damage another $800+ billion would do.

This thing is oozing with the concern for special-interest, NOT the people's. In fact, earlier this week Al Gore took his turn injecting his bit in the bill to fund global warming research. (Yeah, that's at the top of my prority list.) And only something like 20% of the money in this bill is going to be used for "stimulation" in 2009, if passed by the senate.

ugh. --Jesse

Jan 22, 2009

(myself)x([my view of myself]-[flaws])

I'm currently reading a book called The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young. I've only got a few minutes before I have to go to work, but I just wanted to jot this down real quick. This is a quote from Papa, who is a fictional (but not-so-fictional) representation of God, talking to the main character, Mack:

"The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn't much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I'm not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and byond all that you can ask or think."

Jan 11, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

Welcome all! My name is Jesse, and this is my blog, tentatively titled Everybody Lies--which may or may not be a motivating factor for people to read.

I've never really "blogged" before, so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. It seems quite a peculiar activity--one sharing his thoughts with a faceless crowd, in hopes of people reading, relating to, and discussing the subjects at hand, yet still maintaining a certain blanket of unaccountability via anonymity. So whether I'm going to end up being good at this or not, I'm giving it a shot at the suggestion of some of my friends and (fellow) bloggers. So, here it goes...

If my title seems a bit odd, then perhaps you havn't seen, or at least don't share my captivation with, the show House on Fox. This brings me to my first subject, which is inspired by a rerun of House I saw a few nights ago. (The show is currently in the mid-season hiatus surrounding Christmas and New Years.... New episodes start Jan. 19! Meanwhile, reruns must suffice.)

A couple seasons ago, one of Dr. House's staff members, Eric Foreman, caught the same sickness as a patient the team was diagnosing--a patient that eventually died, and quite horrifically and in extreme pain. Luckily, the team was able to accurately diagnose and treat Foreman due to things they learned during their time with the patient who died.

Upon his recovery, Foreman returns to work with a new attitude onlife: A positive, everyday-is-a-blessing kind of mantality that is indicitive of many people--even chronic pessimists like Foreman--who have a near-death experience. Of course, this attitude drives House insane, as it conteracts the very traits of Foreman that make him a good doctor. It inhibits the team's ability to diagnose their unique medical mysteries, because Foreman's tendancy to question everything and everyone (including House) has gone out the window.

House knows this phase is just that: A temporary, irrational phase. So he convinces Foreman to get over it as soon as possible. When confronting him, the conversation goes something like this:

House: You need to get over this phase. I need you to question me and the team.
Foreman: Phase? Just because you're miserable doesn't mean I have to be. I've found happiness; I'm content. You're jealous.
House: Happiness?!? Contentness?!? Oh please... If everyone was content, the human race would have died long ago in it's own feces.

And that was all it took. And as gross as it sounds, I think he's right. We all want to be 'happy', but what if everyone really was? Would we just start pooping our pants instead of using toilets, totally disregarding the consequences? Would we, in our sense of total self-contentness, stop having sex and therefore cease to reproduce? For that matter, would we stop striving to be a better people? Stop caring about ourselves? Stop caring about others?

Happiness only exists because it's possible for it not to exist. And more often than not, it doesn't.

I, for one, never really feel content--with anything. But it encourages me--or rather, forces me--to strive for what's next... the next oppurtunity for improvement, the next big (or small) step. Without sadness, lonliness, fear, etc., there would be no happiness. And there would be no need to do anything, much less strive for improvement.

So there it is, my first blog. Now how do I publish this thing?...