Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kentucky Bypass

I've been keeping careful watch of the power outage situation in Kentucky, and it doesn't look promising for those poor folks.

And since I'm a selfish person, it also doesn't look promising for me.  Fortunately, I have taken a variety of routes to Ann Arbor from Dallas before...I think this is my 5th time driving it won't be too much of a hassle. 

Still, I enjoy the scenery of Tennessee and Kentucky and going up through Ohio rather than the bleak winter-weary plains of Illinois and Indiana.  Spring through Autumn the plains are gorgeous, but in winter they are depressing, and the wind is fierce since there is nothing to cut it.  It's sort of like it can be around here, since we are a relatively flat area and are actually the southern part of the Great Plains.

Last year when I got caught in that blizzard and wasn't fully prepared, I was mad at myself.  This year I have a proper coat, just had new windshield wipers put on my car, bought a long-handled ice scraper, and will pack my snow shoes, more warm clothes, food, and water in my car....just in case.  I did have some of this last year, but the proper coat and shoes would have been helpful when I had to dig out my car in Elizabethtown, Kentucky after stopping for the night.

I have been thankful for my 4-wheel drive so many times since I bought this car on January 19, 2006.  I'm glad I didn't let the car salesman talk me out of it, because I have made good use of it on many occasions and draw great comfort from knowing that it helps me both in everyday driving as well as these special extreme circumstances.  The reduction in gas mileage is worth the piece of mind, for certain.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Night Lights

I have discovered and have been watching episodes of Friday Night Lights.

I now have a mini-obsession with Kyle Chandler.  

I heard from several sources that this show was excellent, and it really is.  I think the kids drink too much and have too much sex to be realistic, but then again, I'm not sure of the exact amount of drinking and sex that high school kids have these days.

I can vouch that the bleakness and ugliness in the portrayal of a small west Texas town is spot on.  I think west Texas is bleak, ugly, dirty, and poor.  And it is definitely big football country.  Did I say big?  I meant BIG.  HUGE.  GINORMOUS.  Texas is big on high school football and band, with even the worst football programs receiving huge funding.  

These kids from successful teams are treated like home town gods.  The only drawback is that for many, this is the pinnacle of their existence.  They may go on to marry, have a family and a career, and yet their 'best time of my life' experience would be playing varsity football.  I think it's a bit twisted that football could be a better thing in one's life than getting married or the birth of a child.  Imagine reaching the height of your greatness at the age of 17.  How sad that it might be all downhill from there.

Anyway, I was a complete slug today (woke up at 11am) and didn't go post any flyers, so I feel like I'm letting down the recruiting coordinator, whom I adore.  So, I've drawn out a plan to hit about 30 places tomorrow.  This means it'll be a long day of driving around, but at least I won't feel unproductive.  I always feel unproductive if I don't accomplish anything worthwhile in a day...even if I truly need the day for resting and relaxing.

I am a bit concerned about my drive to Michigan on Mon/Tues.  I hope all the power is back on along the route I'm taking and that I have good weather on the drive there and back. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I told the corps recruiting coordinator that I would help this week with posting flyers around town and also with posting free online classifieds for percussionists.  The hornline and the guard positions are filling up quickly, but we still need pit and battery to round out the drumline.

Translation of pit and battery:  pit is the vibes, xylophone, marimbas, timpani, etc. that are on the front sidelines...they are also called the front ensemble.  The battery consists of snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and sometimes cymbals...these folks march on the field.

Since I'm on vacation this week I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to drive around and post the flyers in some of the southern suburbs to hopefully pique some interest.  Because of the nasty weather the past few days, I've not gotten very far on that front, though that is my plan for Thursday.

And tonight I have spent a couple of hours trying to get a very simple ad placed on several free online classifieds/online advertising websites.  And I have to say I am really aggravated.  I have to go through the entire process of registering on each site, waiting for the confirmation email, clicking through on that, then navigate my way through each website's ad posting process.  I don't have the patience for it, I tell ya.  It seriously took me 2 hours to do 6 of these.  And one big failed attempt with Facebook, which I inherently detest, though not as much as Myspace.

I really really really really hate Myspace.  

Anyway, these ads had better yield something substantial.  In all likelihood they won't, because they're just one ad among thousands and thousands.  Still, I shall choose to believe the ads will work, and I got to help out the recruiting coordinator who is a lovely gentleman, so that's nice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Amazing Rehearsal

I played really well today for the most part, which makes me happy.  I also nailed the mellophone solo in the opener every single time, and that feels damn good.  I had so many people come up to me throughout the day and at the restaurant afterwards and compliment me on my playing, so I am one very pleased person.  I wanted very much to perform well today.

The running block killed me, so I need to work on that.  

And I'm so exhausted that I'm now going to bed; and I'm going to bed happy, which is a wonderful thing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm On Vacation!

And tomorrow I have drum corps rehearsal.  I'm very excited.  There is a particular gentleman there whom I enjoy talking to very much, wink wink, so we'll see how/if that progresses.  He is quite reserved, so it mightn't go anywhere anytime soon.

I get to see my family on Sunday, and then I don't really have any engagements for the rest of the week after that.  It's going to be one heckuva year at work, so I plan on resting up for it.

I go to Michigan the week after next....brrrr.  I bought a coat from Lands End...a pretty pink-tinted one, because I was ill prepared for the blizzard I encountered last year.  Hopefully there will be no blizzard this year.

And great news:  my grocery store started carrying Rising Sun Farms Key Lime Torte.  Sweet toasted Jesus, that thing is tasty!  And the ones I bought weren't even moldy!  Remember my fiasco last time?

It was in the 70s here today, but tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 42.  I haven't felt the cold front whirl in yet, but I'm sure I'll wake up tonight when it does.  It's a good thing our rehearsal is indoors tomorrow, even the visual block where we're learning the first drill(shapes on the field that we march to) of the season.

And with that, I should get ready for sleepytime.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

THIS is drum corps

This is the Madison Scouts in 1988, playing Malaguena.

There are some differences between this and what I'll be doing.  Madison Scouts is a DCI (Drum Corps International) corps, which means that their members are 21 and under (or 22 if they turn 22 after June 1st of the marching year), while Frontier is a DCA (Drum Corps Associates) aka all-age corps.  And, Madison Scouts is an all male corps whereas Frontier is co-ed.  

In 1988, a corps could march 128 people, which the Scouts have in this clip.  This year, Frontier is going to march around 60+.  The other big difference is that DCI corps practice all day long in the summer and go on an extended tour of 30-40+ cities and shows.  Since many of us in DCA are adults and have careers, we rehearse a couple Saturdays a month, maybe a couple of hornline rehearsals a month, a few weekends in the summer, and travel to 5 or 6 different cities for shows.

All that being said, you can just watch and listen and see how exhilirating it is to be a performer or an audience member.  

There is absolutely nothing in the world like the high you get when the crowd cheers.  I was reading something earlier today that I think is rather true.....The purpose of drum corps is to make the audience stand and scream.

My God how great that feels!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vacation Next Week

I'm using a week of vacation next week.  Our PTO (Paid time off) year ends the 31st of January, so it's 'use it or lose it' time.  I don't really have any plans other than sleep (a lot), practice my mellophone, do some chores around home, and work up to running at 180 bpm (beats per minute) for 10 minutes.  This last one is to get into good shape for corps, as the show is a maximum of 12 minutes at multiple tempos, but the visual caption head (ie marching instructor) told us that we're going to build up to 180 bpm for 10 minutes during stretching/conditioning at each camp, and if we can achieve that, we'll each be in good shape to march the whole show.

I don't want to go anywhere out of state, but I might take a few day trips to various undetermined places.

What do you think I should do on my vacation?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Age Is Too Old?

This is a question for the ladies, with an alternate question for the gentlemen.

In your opinion, and based on whatever criteria you wish to use, what is the oldest age at which a woman should have a baby?  And I thought of another one...what is the ideal age range during which a woman should have a baby?  Basically, how old is too old to become a mother for the first time, and what is the best time?

And for the old is too old to become a father for the first time, followed by what is the ideal age range?

I don't know if I'm going through a very early midlife crisis, or if I'm just feeling liberated to be all I can be since I have branched out to things other than just work.  I don't currently want kids, but I'm also not currently involved in a serious relationship, and I know the baby part could change with time in the relationship part, if I were to be so lucky at some point in the future to have one that I would classify as 'serious'.

Answers, thoughts, advice?  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hornline Rehearsal

I have just returned from hornline rehearsal.  We rehearsed at the very lovely Park Cities Baptist Church and had 27 horns present, plus a few from the guard, and the percussion caption head along with a couple of relatives of the younger kids.

I've been practicing every day and improving as I go, so I played fairly well.  Another mellophone and I traded off playing the solo in the opener.  It is such a sweet, kickin' solo.  

I'm getting to learn many of the peoples' names, and I try best I can to greet the high school-age kids to help make them feel included and special in an room half full of adults who are 2 or 3 times their age.  

What's funny/interesting is that I'm actually using my skills as a GM and a Trainer with these folks as well.  I am not in charge and I have no seniority whatsoever, but I think it makes people happy to know that I notice when they do a nice job at something or are obviously trying very hard to play something right and I make a little comment to that effect.

Several of us went for a quick bite to eat at a mexican restaurant after rehearsal, and I got to spend time talking with a couple people I hadn't talked to before.  I'm getting to really like some of these folks.

I'm going to be tired for work tomorrow...have to be up in 6 1/2 hours.

I can't wait until Saturday when we have a full corps rehearsal and begin learning the drill for the opener.  Our show is called "Pastime" and is baseball-related music.  The opener is "It Don't Mean a Thing (If You Ain't Got that Swing)"...get it?....swing?  hah!  I love it.  It is a super-terrific arrangement and is really amazing.  Once we get it all down and record it and post it to our website, I'll provide a link here.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm Either Very Smart or Very Stupid

Let's put it to a vote.

Today I passed on the opportunity to be promoted to district manager at work.  To be accurate, I passed on the invitation to go through the interview process.  I didn't even apply for this position because I thought someone else was going to get it due to some shifting and realigning.  But I learned I was their primary person of interest, and I know I would have gotten the job because I'm qualified and ready and can prove how I would be successful in it.  

And you're probably wondering why on earth I would pass on this.  Drum corps.  Yep, it's true.  Taking the position would require me to move several states away, and I wouldn't be able to march drum corps because I'd be too busy learning my new role and learning a new city/state.  

So I gave up a career opportunity to be able to pursue another passion.  I let it pass by so that I can create a better work/life balance here and now.  This is very unlike me.  I am always the one to grab every opportunity at work.  I knew this position was open, and I honestly kind of thought I'd be asked to go for it.  And as I was thinking about this last night, I almost cried alone to myself because I didn't want to give up my drum corps just yet to take that position...not when I've just found my music and marching passion again.

I feel ok about my decision, but am wondering if I'll regret it later.  On the flip side, I know I'd have VERY bittersweet feelings if I had said yes.

What would you have done?  What are your thoughts?  Was this a smart decision or no? 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Drum Corps Rehearsal, Take 2

I just had THE best time at rehearsal today.  God, I had such a great time.  Even when I was sweaty and out of breath, I was never too sweaty or out of breath.  The people are fun, the music is great, the esprit de corps is strong.  I didn't want rehearsal to end.  I wasn't too tired to keep going.  Many of us went out for pizza afterwards and had a great time.  

It is so wonderful to be developing this new peer group of lively, intelligent, fun people.  

We have a brass only rehearsal on the 19th, and another full corps rehearsal in 2 weeks. 

I can't wait!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Travels in 2008

I could get all sentimental and philosophic about mental, emotional, and spiritual travels in 2008, but how dull is that?  Instead, I'll recap the physical traveling I did last year...if I can remember all of it.  And yes, I drove all this.

Detroit, Michigan--I think this was early March.  Each year I have my field trainer conference in either Ann Arbor or Michigan.  I specifically remember this trip for the hellacious time I had driving back in the blizzard that hit the mid-west.  It was a terrifying and tense trip home.  And I got a speeding ticket about 90 miles from Dallas.  States covered include Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan.

Orlando, Florida--This would be the first of two trips to Orlando and occurred the week after my trip to Detroit.    I was facilitating a training session for Managers.  It was a good drive there and back, and the hotel was nice, though we didn't get to see any of the actual city.  States covered include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Orlando, Florida--Back again a few weeks later, at the end of April, for the company spring GM conference.  Again, we didn't get to see the city, but we stayed in the Peabody and it was lovely.

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida--Just two weeks after that I drove to Ft. Lauderdale to hop on a cruise ship.  I had just been diagnosed with pneumonia 3 days before leaving and was in bad shape, but I'll be damned if I was going to miss that cruise.  After all, it was a completely free trip...a company sales contest prize.  

Cozumel, Mexico
Belize--These were the ports of call on the cruise.  I sunbathed and swam and snorkeled, in order, at these locations.

Bar Harbor, Maine--Six weeks later, I traveled through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee,Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine during a trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

St. Louis--The first week of November I traveled to St. Louis to facilitate another training session.  States covered include Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

All together, I believe that is 21 states, 3 countries, one ocean, and one gulf traveled this year.  I have no idea how many miles that is...certainly not as many as someone who travels for work each week, but more than I've ever traveled before in one year.

I'm sure there are lessons I learned along the way, and wisdom I gained through the travels, but really, no one wants to read about that, do they?

Where did your travels take you in 2008?