Saturday, April 26, 2003

Roastin' the Pig (Part IV)

Played the pig roast gig again tonight....first time they've done this in the spring. As always, it was really good pig (plus the casserole with like 18 different beans in it, and the righteous cobbler with the locally-made cinnamon ice cream...mmmmm!), but one of the highlights is getting to see the house of the people who bought the roast (at an auction). This one was an old Victorian near downtown Plano, and the "before and after" pictures were amazing....two years ago, the back porch was literally falling off and the place was actually condemned, and now it's like walking through a museum! Kudos to the owners for a beautiful restoration (I've always liked architecture, ya know...might've gone into that if my HS teachers hadn't made me hate math so much). And as always, the music went over really well, We had tickets to next week's concert to hand out, and maybe we'll see some of those folks there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Up On The House-Top

OK, so I scaled some new heights today....literally. I actually climbed upon the roof of my house! Not for fun, mind you...a few weeks ago, during that big nasty hailstorm we had here, I managed to get a hole in the skylight of my house. Not a big one--basically the size of a fist and the shape of a Pac-Man. There's another layer of glass between me and the outside world, but I still needed to cover it before the next rain. A friend and I tried it last week, duct-taping a trash bag over the hole (the friend went on the roof, of course) but it ended up blowing away....and never did rain either. So today, borrowing the big ladder from the nice elderly couple across the street (that was my biggest concern, I think--not being able to get back down), I got up there and tried using a smaller bag this far, so good for the protection (yeah, it did rain today), and I didn't fall off, I'm happy to say. So besides conquering part of my last remnant of acrophobia, I got a little bonus....the neighborhood looks really cool from up there. (Not that I'm planning a return trip to the roof until I actually replace the broken part...)

Monday, April 21, 2003

Happy Easter, a little late

Happy belated Easter to all! I was chillin' so much this weekend that I forgot to log anything, haha. Not much going on around here; rest of the family was in Houston but I couldn't really make that trip once they took away our Monday holiday for a snow day makeup. With the Friday gig, that would've been too long a trip for too short a time. So I just stayed here, played the contemporary service at church and caught up on those wonderful little things they call naps... :-)

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Yoda and Luke Play Bebop

Unlike last week, I actually got to do the Starbucks gig tonight..."15th Street Jazz" was back in full force, but I was kinda sorta the guest artist, just sitting in with my jazz protege Chris and his buds (as I told one of my friends that was there, it was kind of a "Yoda and Luke get together and jam" situation). Lotsa fun, and definitely not something we would've imagined three years ago when I started teaching him. I've often had people talk about forming bands and getting gigs before even getting out of high school, and these guys went and did it. It's certainly something I'll encourage the rest of the "Renegade Improv" gang to do in the next couple years.

But it's always great to mix good friends with good music, and to do so in front of an overflow crowd, get a little green and coffee on the tonight goes in the books as a success.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Blowing out more candles...

Happy Birthday Mom! (Yes, two days--and a year--younger than her sister.) Discretion won't allow me to reveal her age, but suffice it to say you'd guess younger, thanks to the blessed family genetics we all have. :-)

She says it's not that big of a deal anymore because she's had so many...but here's to a lot more years to be able to say that....

Mad About Lab Band

Went to Lab Band Madness at UNT last night....all nine lab bands in one marathon concert. Usually clocks in at around four hours long; this time it surpassed that by ten minutes. Only got to see the second half because of another rehearsal, but it's always great to go visit the ol' alma mater.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

A taxing subject

OK, so here's my take on why the self-employed hate tax day even more than everyone else:

First of all, if you work a job where tax is not automatically taken out of your paychecks, you don't just pay in a lump sum on April 15. You're supposed to pay "quarterly" during the year--basically busting out the crystal ball and guessing what you're going to make during the rest of the year and sending in the appropriate percentage. Now, I'm not sure what genius dreamed this up, but the due date for the first "quarter" of the new year is....April 15! So even if you don't owe for last year, you still shell out something on this day anyway...and if you do happen to owe (i.e. the crystal ball didn't work) then you have to pay twice on the same day. That's certainly not very cool...

And oh yeah, the reason i put "quarters" in parentheses is because they don't truly divide the year up into four parts. They come in April, June, September and January. (I think somebody over there must've flunked geometry.) So if you have to pay twice in April, then they hit you again two months later instead of the logical three. (Imagine football being like that: OK, the first quarter will last only 10 minutes, but the third quarter will go for 20. Huh???).

But my real rant is aimed at the other way that the self-employed take it on the chin. Not too many people are aware of this, I think, know that Social Security they take out of your paycheck (assuming you work a "normal" job)? Well, that's only half of what SS actually gets; your employer contributes a matching amount. But if you are your employer, you have to pay both halves! Now you might say, well, that's fair, that way everyone pays proportionally the same amount. And while that may be true, there's also this angle: If you work for a company, they can make you retire at a certain age. If you are your company, you can work as long as you want to (granted, if you make too much it cuts into your Social Security that you start getting sometime in your 60s, I think). It's one thing if you're actually incorporated and have more than one person in your "company"...but to me, this just seems like sticking it to the little guy.

Maybe as I get older I'll change my opinion of retirement, but for now I subscribe to every musician's closet fantasy: Expiring on the bandstand, at a ripe old age, after a really good solo. Maybe the future fair maiden of Sunday's blog will change my mind on that, heh heh.

But for now, at least I get my free burrito tonight. :-)

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

Tax day (ugh)--time for my annual flogging at the hands of the government. I'll have to save my rant for later, about how the self-employed get the shaft on this day (there's more than one way), as I need to go out and earn some of that money back...

And I must throw in a quick shout-out to Mr. P.C., perhaps the best pet I ever had and certainly the coolest rabbit ever (no joke). He would've been 12 today. It was so great to have him around for 7 years.

Oh yeah, and a belated (by one day) happy birthday to my Aunt Nora (Mom's sis), my only true aunt and certainly my favorite. May you have many, many more...

Monday, April 14, 2003

Has this school dance thing gone too far?

Sports Illustrated might call this a "sign of the apocalypse," but I just call it a sign of the times:

So the other day, one of my private students is telling me about the preparations for an upcoming school dance: how they're having it at some "mansion" in the area, trying to go all-out on the rented tux, how his date has already sprung for the limo...and I'm wondering if I've entered some weird parallel universe.

Now, you might be thinking, "Whatdyamean, Kev, we did that at my senior prom!" Well, yeah, but the student in question was a middle-schooler, and he was talking about an eighth-grade dance! It's come a long way from that time in my life, when they held the dance in the school cafeteria, and we all just trotted out our Sunday morning suits one more time....and all the guys would stand on one side and the girls on the other, wondering who would be the first ones to actually dance.

And oh yeah, as for my own senior prom...I drove my Nissan and got to park in a really good parking place marked "compact car only." Limo? What limo? My first limo ride is another story for another time...

Sunday, April 13, 2003

This isn't so taxing...

Speaking of tax day (in a good way)...there's this promotion over at Chipotle where you go in there today or tomorrow and get this mock-Form 1040 thing, bring it in on Tuesday with your receipt and get a free burrito! You don't actually have to answer all the questions right, but one of them I actually researched: "How many times did you visit Chipotle in 2002?" I figured it out and it was 58 times! :-0 I wonder if even Zack can beat that...(he'll read this eventually and tell me, I'm sure)

Your castle's bigger than my castle...

So today I took one of those occasional "Sunday drives" where I go to new neighborhoods and check out houses that I'll never, ever be able to afford. :-) There's this one place I really like, called Fairview; we played there a couple years ago for the famous "pig roast" gig. It's sort of like this little oasis--the country surrounded by the 'burbs. The houses are pretty much insanely big; you could fit three, or four or five, of my house in some of them (in fact one of them had a guest house that was bigger then mine, I think!). I just drive out there and soak it all in and try not to look like I'm gawking, heh heh.

But every time I drive out there, it makes me wonder: What kind of work do the owners of these places do in order to afford someplace like this? Is that work as "important" (i.e. long-lasting, having the greatest impact) as being an educator? And what would the world look like if teachers made as much as CEO's (ok, maybe not that much, since CEO's make an insane amount of money...maybe as much as, say, corporate VP's)? I never regret, for a second, the path I've chosen, but I try to imagine what it would be like to come home to a castle like that. Sometimes I also wonder what life must be like for the "weeknight warriors" in the nighttime combo class I teach, several of whom earn probably triple what I do and play their instrument for the sheer love of it...but then I get home to my admittedly non-castle and realize, naah, I wouldn't have it any other way than I do now (save for a fair lady to share the castle with). Still, every so often, I'll visit those castles and play for their parties, and dream a little.

Oh yeah, and as tax time approaches, I often wonder, dang, how much tax do those castle-owners pay, anyway? (I'll post my tax rant sometime around Tuesday....)

Saturday, April 12, 2003

The Gig That Wasn't

I was supposed to have a gig at Starbucks tonight, filling in with "15th Street Jazz"...but when we got there, we found they had double-booked the evening, and another band was already there and set up (evidently, if we'd gotten set up first, we would've played and they would've been left doing what we did...chilling on the patio, drinking the free coffee we got as a consolation prize). Everybody took it in stride, but I really, really wanted to play...just another part of the ongoing learning process, I guess.

And we're off...

OK, I'm starting this thing. Can't guarantee how often I'll post to it...may vary depending on how often the 'muse' hits me and how much time I have. I've wanted to have a 'random thoughts' page on my website for a long time, but if I can be really lazy and have someone else host and archive it, it's all for the better. :-)

So what will this blog be about? Who knows...probably a lot of the things that I'm into: Jazz music, music in general, Christianity, recent events, the Internet, humor, and the crazy things my friends and I do. And sometimes, a la Seinfeld, it's likely to be a "blog about nothing." At any rate, I hope you enjoy it and come back regularly. That's all for now...