Drinking Tea with the Natives

Today, the universe chose to deliver an opportunity to write about the American Constitution, and I include an edited version of the response as today’s blog post. Of course, I took a course in American Constitution many years ago when I was in college; however, it’s nice to get a refresher on basic topic. ( if you’re in the same class, please don’t cut and paste. do your own work):

"The themes of democracy and national security in the Constitution fit together because the framers of the document were very well aware that they were separating from a strong nation. The needs for security to protect a democratic document and nation were very real, and certainly the framers of the document knew that their bold methods would require support from the people to support this document.

Freedom and democracy do not come simply from drafting up a well thought out plan. Freedom and democracy, in a new plan, create essentially a new argument, which required defense. In terms of discussion of ideas, and presenting of ideas, a heated verbal debate can suffice.

However; when freedoms and democracy join together in abandoning one country’s efforts to develop an expansion of an existing nation and political system, in order to create a new country with a competitive political system, then more serious effects are likely to come about than simple words and foot stomping.

The document clearly established the idea that a new nation was being developed; and not an extension of the nation who had sent people over to expand its territory. Nations who finance ventures are not happy campers when their former associates decide to move forward with a separate and competing adventure.

When nations are involved in struggle, negotiations are vital. However; instead of considering negotiation, the constitution truly envisioned the likelihood that negotiations would fail and, instead, took in a defensive role which included national security.

The themes of democracy and national security may be compatible, or at odds with one another. My feeling, as an American Citizen, is that it would have been nice to see a lot of what went into the Constitution on the negotiating table with Britain, instead of being ad odds with that nation. The fact is, however, that only those who were struggling to secure this land were aware of the daily issues that affected the campaign.

One of the huge media stunts we still read about in history books was the Boston Tea Party. In the minds of millions of American school children, this stunt is inextricably linked to the constitution and founding of America. It’s hard for kids to understand why it was so upsetting to be sent a boat full of tea. Being sent a boat load of tea by Britain may have been intended as a nice gesture from Britain to the framers, despite the details of taxation.

However, were the colonists ready, willing and able to sit down and drink that British tea with the natives, in the same way that native American legends tell about native people smoking the peace pipe to secure negotiations and create harmonious nations between each other? And, this is where I link the idea to national security.

If the tea had been used as a negotiating tool, would national security have been so important at that time? Could, in fact, tea have been as much a “magical ingredient” for peace as tobacco was perceived to be?

Did, in fact, that boat full of tea have intrinsic powers that could have prevented the obsession with separation from Britain, forming a new nation, and the ensuing national security? Themes of democracy and national security, looking back in time from the present, may not have been as compatible as they seemed at the time.

I have not read in standard textbooks about colonists inviting the natives to tea for the purposes of negotiations; however, if the intention of Britain were to share that tea with native peoples as part of a peace-keeping strategy, that does not appear to have either been expressed adequately in history, or our history books.

We seem to have a lack of information for the purpose of the aforementioned British tea, and why overseas colonists were taxed for an item which may not have been perceived as unnecessary or even frivolous.

Truth be known, the colonists had their hands full with many responsibilities, hardships and dangers in a pre-internet generation where immediate exchanges between America and Britain did not exist. It’s no wonder the colonists felt alone and defensive.

I would like to believe, if such communication were possible, that a copy of the constitution might have been forwarded between the colonists and Britain for review, suggestions and rewriting in a way that may have influenced British government to become more democratic alongside and in a negotiated cooperative atmosphere with the fledgling colonial aspirations for democracy by the people, for the people, and including all peoples from the very inception.

How would the world have changed? Would a British-Colonist-Native nation of democracy have been built based on simple communication, with less emphasis on national security? Perhaps.

I believe this land was destined for greatness, and that perhaps the emphasis on national security was because global communication was not under control to an extent where all parties could express their needs prior to arming and defending. Therefor, the emphasis on national security and democracy became intertwined during the framing of the constitution.

However; I do not particularly believe that this intertwining may have been not as necessary. I would like to believe that this land, this nation I live in, the earth itself was speaking through the colonists about a political belief that was hitherto unheard of. To have created that nation in peaceful negotiations instead of war and security concerns, may have indeed been possible.

How to Safely Store or Move a Piano

TakeLessons has purchased the right to use an edited version of this post in their blog.

Many years ago, when my family relocated, the expertise for moving our household grand piano was delegated to professional furniture movers. Three piano legs and the pedals console were removed and wrapped in blankets. The moving parts for the body, including the music stand, the keyboard cover, and the hinged top of the grand piano were secured. All this was wrapped in thick blankets and put into a piano case.

We thought all was well, until the piano arrived in our new home … with a huge bolt driven through the piano case. When the case was opened, we discovered the bolt was driven through both the piano, and the soundboard. Readers, pianists, movers: if you have ever considered hiring furniture movers for your piano relocation, this is probably your worst nightmare.

For cross-town relocations, a professional piano mover is usually your best bet for a grand piano. In long-distance relocations, it’s best to have a professional who deals exclusively with pianos to disassemble your piano and pack it carefully before involving furniture movers.

Some piano companies will also move the piano for you. This may mean that two separate companies are involved in packing, and it’s a good idea to check the paperwork to be sure who will be responsible for delivering the piano in the same condition it left.

Although upright pianos have fewer moving parts than grands, and don’t require disassembly, it’s still a good idea to find a piano mover. Many pianos are much heavier than they appear and, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may appreciate having help loading it into a rental truck.

When storing a piano, take into consideration that many important parts are made of wood, which is subject to expansion, contraction and temperature extremes that can ruin a piano. Store your piano in a conditioned space, away from damp places. Don’t even think about putting your piano into a metal storage shed! It may be better to sell a piano in excellent condition, and just put that money away to buy another piano in the future; just an option to consider.

Before your piano comes out of storage, off the truck or boat, think about where you will want to practice and play music. Look at the windows, walls, doors and floor. Despite having insulation, an exterior wall is not the best choice for a piano. Look for an interior wall, with conditioned rooms on both sides. And, although it’s nice to have light from a window, take care that the piano will be protected from excessive heat, drafts and rain.

Pianos in basements and garages may seem like a good idea to parents who are tired of hearing their kids practice. However, consider whether this is a good choice for an investment which can range in value from a few hundred dollars for a used spinet to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new top-of-the-line grand piano. Consider placing a rug under the piano, particularly if the piano will be on a cold surface, such as tile and definitely avoid putting your piano on a bare concrete floor.

Now you know where your piano will be placed, it’s time to call in the piano professionals! Grand pianos will need to be reassembled, and your piano will need to be tuned; pianos can’t be expected to hold their pitch during relocation. It’s a nice idea to pencil in an annual appointment with a good piano tuner to keep things sounding good.

So, now you know about storing an moving pianos, what happened about that piano I mentioned in the beginning of the article? Well, fortunately my great grandfather was a piano tuner, and my dad was pretty handy with tools. My dad took a good look at the crack left in the soundboard by the bolt, bought several bottles of wood glue and borrowed an amazingly huge wood clamp and a book from the library about piano rebuilding.

Watching as my dad glued the piano together and tightened the clamp, our family prayed for the resurrection of our beloved grand piano. The piano stayed clamped together for about a week while we refinished the exposed, cosmetic woodwork to a painted, antiqued look.

My dad took apart and reassembled that piano piece-by-piece; learning how a grand piano is put together and tuned. Finally, in a suspenseful moment which seemed like an eternity, with our family as his audience, he carefully unscrewed the clamp. It held!

Although this is very unlikely to happen to you, it’s an example of a worst-case scenario, and also teaches us what we can achieve even when things seem impossible. So don’t worry too much, make sure you hire a professional piano mover, and good luck with your piano adventures!