Thursday, April 29, 2010

Usually, my lunches aren't an experience

I like being able to get out of the office for lunch.  Often, some of the other workers will stay in the break room watching episodes of sitcoms while they eat their from-home lunches.  I like to get away.  I spend eight hours (or beyond) in the warehouse anyway, so when I have the opportunity to escape for a bit, I seize it.  So, when I bring my lunch, I escape to a park (or parking lot) and enjoy.  Otherwise, I stop in at one of the local establishments for lunch.

And today, the local establishment was especially interesting, in that it *was* interesting at all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Do-Nothing Saturday

I went to bed last night at about 9:15pm, dog-weary.  Some time later, I awoke to the idea that there would be storms.  So I padded through my place, shutting windows.  Just before I fell into bed again (now secure against damp carpets), I noticed the clock:  11:24pm.  I thought for sure it had been 3:30 in the morning.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fixing dinner is a sign of maturity

I don't want to jinx it, but I think I may be able to come home after work tonight and cook dinner.  It's been a while, coming off of the brass band's push towards contest.  That phase usually ends up eating all the nights, in addition to the fact that I've been working the days.  I mentioned to one of the Fountain City guys that I was looking forward to a weekend with nothing in it.  "It's not this weekend," I cautioned.  "But maybe next week."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Post-NABBA 2010

Fountain City was victorious.  We are the first band in NABBA's history to win four back-to-back victories, though that statistic doesn't have quite the luster it appears -- somewhere in the past, NABBA's anti-monopoly rule banning three-time winners from competing for a fourth consecutive time was rescinded.  But for now (and the next four years or so), we've secured a place in North American history. 

FCBB took first in the championship division with a combined score of 290.4 (sum of three judges).  We also performed well at the solo competitions, with Fountain City members placing in all four divisions.

Let's do a bit of a rundown of the good and band -- err, bad -- after a break.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pre-NABBA 2010

Almost eight AM now and I've been cracking for a couple of hours.  Finally found a time to do laundry: pre-dawn.

Knocked out some work-related proofreading via email.

Packed uniform (except for the stuff still at the dry cleaners), packed suit, packed mutes.

Expect to be double-smacked with checked luggage fees today. Yay.  Let's see if I can keep the fees to less than $200 for the entire trip.  I bet no.

I get to bring three pairs of shoes.  Shiny black, matte black, and everyday.

Friendly rivalry with Brass Band of the Potomac slowly getting established.  Right now, it's being fought on my co-workers' Facebook pages.  Ahh, this modern era.  As Helen Tyler (our own UK specialist) archly pointed out, one of the charms of the competitive English spirit has been successfully (?) imported using the internet to bridge the vast physical distances between bands.  I remain skeptical.  So does she.

Let it be sung loud and long that our director, Joe Parisi, is amazing.  He is the not-at-all-secret secret to our success.  This must be what it's like to have a good coach at the SuperBowl that you don't want to let down in any way at "the big game".

I'll be back on Sunday, and soon thereafter I may have time to update the blog.  Either way, there'll certainly be a short update with results.  Should I fail, in previous years the NABBA has posted scores and results on this website:

EDIT (4/25/10)  NABBA seems to have forgotten about that site, so your best bet for a public listing of the scores is via the or via

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Twas Tuesday Before NABBA....

I've found that when I leave home at 8:15am and return after 10:15 pm, it doesn't really leave any time for laundry.  I'll be able to take care of it with a combination of dropping dry cleaning off this morning (for pickup tomorrow) while doing the home wash tomorrow after work and before lessons, then the drying after lessons and before rehearsal.

I did my taxes on Sunday (before rehearsal), and I my proposed tax burden for 2009 was more than 10% of my income.  I earned in the vicinity of $3,000: counting two jobs of lessons, money for musical performances, and investment income (which was negative this year -- what a surprise).  I owed about $330 in taxes, mostly in unavoidable self-employment taxes.  Of that, a full $300 was removed in tax credits, so I was left owing about $30.

Luckily, my current employment status allows me to pay that effortlessly.  Going by last year's rate, that would have been 1% of my yearly income.  I guess single people far below the poverty line without children don't have much to spend their money on, so we can afford to save for tax day.

I don't begrudge the government for collecting taxes -- I want nice roads, good schools, libraries, and police and fire protection as much as anyone, and I don't mind paying for them in principle.  But I'm much happier paying taxes now that 1% of my current income amounts to more than a week's worth of groceries (see last year's $30 figure).

I'm beginning to understand one of the problems with any proposed flat-tax system.  When I make $3,000 a year, $30 is a significant amount of money.  But if I make $30,000, then $300 is less intrusive, even though it's the same percentage.  And if I made $300,000 a year, a measly $3000 practically isn't worth paying attention to.

I suppose that's what Warren Buffet found so objectionable when he discovered that, as a percentage of yearly income, he paid less in taxes than his secretary did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NABBA Approacheth

Today's my last day without a brass band rehearsal in it before the North America Brass Band Association (NABBA) contest in Raleigh.  We have our usual Sunday PM rehearsal tomorrow, expanded to a full four hours.  Then on Monday, I work 9-5:30pm, then rehearse from 6-10.  On Tuesday, I work 9-5:30pm, then rehearse from 6-10pm.  And on Wednesday... the same thing happens.

But on Thursday, I finally break the working cycle and head to the airport. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Where does the universe keep its store of amazing wonderfulness?

And how can I get a regular supply?

A few days ago, I had a fantastic experience.  I was, through circumstance and helpfulness, in the company of a marvelous woman for a few hours.  Just me and her.  And we talked.  Talked in ways that are shockingly boring and uneventful to you, the reader. 

Public policy.

Comparative religious views on sin and the nature of humanity.

The essential core of modern people's desire for life, liberty and happiness.

You may or may not find this itemized repetition to contain topics you yourself are interested in exploring.  All I can tell you is that I was having the conversational equivalent of having a luxurious bath -- the kind you see in movies with scented candles floating in it and lots of petals strew around, inexplicably.  It was so ... comfortable.

And it wasn't just me talking.  I was being engaged -- challenged, even! -- by my compliment.  She was determined not to be outdone by my tendency towards proclamation and rhetoric.  A worthy partner.  I learned and she learned and we had a fantastic time.

Then it was over.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

So much for spring. Plus, I've got a cold.

I dodged sickness for all of this winter (thank goodness!), but number has finally come up.  Now I've got runny nose, congestion, and sore throat.  Now -- when the thermometer tops at 80.  So annoying!

I'm going through facial tissue left and right, too.  Bleh.  But enough about me!

Let's talk about me!