Hahahahaaa… Sigh.

So I thought that I would walk for this graduation.  It appears I have to cough up about $800 pre-tax just to get the...

Concerto for Doorknob and Marching Band

When I was in high school I took a class called AP Computers.  Yeah, imagine that.  ME.  In an advanced placement class about computers.  I’m not a nerd or anything. But as one of three people in this class, I was given the opportunity to help out a student who did not have the use of his limbs.  He could speak, and he could think well, he just couldn’t write, walk, or do a lot of the things most of us take for granted.  The school accommodated him by hiring an assistant to help him do his coursework, but they also took advantage of something new: voice recognition software. My friend Patrick and I got to help setup and learn the software for this student, and then help him learn his way through it once we had figured it out.  At the time I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and it was cool to help out.  But the software was pretty slow (Any of you remember what a 486 was?  It used every ounce of power that poor machine had), and made some really interesting errors.  It didn’t tolerate any imperfection in pronunciation, and it had no context for words.  You couldn’t expect it to understand a phrase, just words.  Slowly.  One. At. A. Time. Fast forward to now.  I have a cell phone.  Everyone has a cell phone.  Google has taken over the Earth too.  But there are some great things we do with technology that we just take for granted.  For me, one of those things is Google Voice. Google Voice basically...

You can find humor in anything.

This evening Anne Meade came over for dinner.  I reached into the cabinet for the slicer/grater attachment for my food processor.  Just for everyone’s education, the “slicer” part of the whirleygig is actually quite sharp.  So sharp in fact that merely brushing across it was enough to remove a substantial portion of the end of my middle finger. Being dumb, I bandaged it up and kept cooking.  After dinner, and after I had bled through my first set of bandages, I bandaged it right.  The faces I drew are just...

Avuncular

One of my fellow grad students emailed me the other day asking for job-seeking advice.  I’ve been banging around the adjunct world since 2006, and held a full time teaching job in there as well, have worked summer programs, developed a private studio…  I’m living “the life” as far as some musicians see it. However, as I see it this lifestyle sucks.  And here’s why:I used to work in computers, and aside from the generous paycheck, the regular and predictable hours provided enormous peace of mind.  Granted, I worked my butt off when I was in software, but I had every weekend free, my evenings were my own to go see concerts, practice, cook good food, sit on the couch with my girl and watch lousy movies, etc.  I didn’t have to manage every minute of every day. And I do now.  It’s Sunday morning and I’ve already written another section of my dissertation project, formatted several others, responded to several professional emails.  And I need to re-write the assignment I’m going to give out for my class tomorrow and grade the assignment I handed out last week.  On top of that I have a recording session this afternoon, and a rehearsal with my accompanist. This is my weekend.  And it’s like the weekend of so many other grad students and young professors.  We work because we’re excited about the work, because we want to climb the ladder, because we are the low man on the totem pole.  The problem is that 10 years ago, 20 years ago, the job prospects were better.  At the moment, my cohort is...

The Vacuum of Space

I remember some years ago, right at the end of my masters degree in Tennessee; I went on a road trip with myself to see the world.  The destination was Phoenix, and a workshop with my musical inspiration, Sam Pilafian.  I decided to drive from Knoxville in part because I had to carry two tubas from Knoxville to the great desert beyond, but also because I just longed for the great expanse of open space in front of me.  And boy, did I get it. I drove west on I-40 forever.  Most of the time was on I-40, though most of the real trip was in my mind.  I drove to Oklahoma, and stayed at a La Quinta Inn.  I’d never even heard of that before.  It felt so weird.  The next night I made it to Flagstaff, AZ.  Being a natural early-riser, and three hours ahead of everyone else, I rose at 4 am local time.  I tried in vain to go back to sleep, but instead chose to do the only logical thing I could think of: go to the Grand Canyon. As it turns out, coffee shops open early, just not early enough.  I drove north with a vague notion that I would have to hit the Grand Canyon eventually.  I longed for coffee, especially the French-press stuff I’ve been spoiled with for the last decade or so.  But gas-station coffee would have to do, and as the morning wore on, I eventually hit a gas station that was open.  I got my fix and rolled on. And then nature called.  She didn’t use my phone. ...