Memory – Wishbone Cheating

wshbnYou’re supposed to take a wishbone, make a wish and break it with someone.  The person who holds the larger piece gets his wish.

I was a bad little boy when it came to wishbones.  I always broke it with my little brother but I always won because if you look at the center part of the bone, one side has better structural support.  Therefore I totally cheated.

I was mean to my little brother.  Big brothers are supposed to let them win and take care of them.  Shame on me.  No wonder we are not very close.



Let go of my past?


For most of my adult life I’ve been haunted by the wonderful memories of being a kid and having friends to play with.   The fact that I no longer have any of that hurt me deeply and permanently.  I spent so many years wishing back for the good times that were past.

I just realized the other day that I think I am finally over that.  I think it helps that I’ve let go of Facebook where I was constantly reminded of the existence of my old friends who no longer want me in their lives.  I feel that I have let go of my past life and I am finally living only in the present and future.   I no longer wish for those things I had.

I’m not really sure what more to say about it other than just wanting to say something to mark the occasion of my transcendence to the next level.   I feel good.  Better for sure.

Level Up!



Back in Time

wstavnToday I happened to be driving past the elementary school I attended back in the early 70’s.  I saw a the tiny children walking about on the playground.  That was me once.


Funny how the circle of life sneaks up on you.  I recall my experiences in that school as if they were just yesterday.  I remember specific incidents and locations in that school where things happened.  I remember the classrooms and even the school layout.  I remember the smell of crayons as you walk in the door.  I don’t remember being that small though.


I remember standing at the fence with my adorable little fingers hanging on through the chain-link and wondering what it would be like to be in one of those cars.  Now I’m on the other side.


I looked back at those kids and thought about how strange it was that yesterday I was them and today I am 48 with progressive lenses, three stents in my heart and chronic lower and upper back pain.  Just the other day I was 5 and without a care in the world. Suddenly I’m a lonely old man with the majority of his life in the rear-view mirror living an empty, pointless life with little to look forward to other than eating vegetables, working for health insurance and hoping I don’t have a heart attack until I get the chance to move to Colorado.


Would little Max in Elementary School even have a clue what was ahead of him?  Did he expect to be unhappy and alone for his entire life?  I don’t think that was his plan but I also don’t think he would have been surprised if I stopped my car and walked over to that very fence and told him.


I seriously don’t think there would be anything he could do about it.  First, he wouldn’t believe me.  Nobody believes you when you tell them about their future.  Human nature says you have to figure it out for yourself no matter what truth people tell you. Second, the values he set for his life wouldn’t allow it anyway.  Max was always a logical guy. No matter what, his life was destined to turn out exactly as it did.


I think Ferris Bueller said it best.  “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”


He was right.


Memory – My secret Indulgence – Teddy Ruxpin

tdyrxpnBack sometime when I was in High School, I discovered The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.  A cartoon for little kids based on the technoogical teddy bear that told stories.  Pretty high-tech for the 80’s.

I was way to old to be watching this cartoon but I saw it once and it captured me.  I had a VCR and small TV in my bedroom and I set it to record whenever it came on (Probably during school hours) and secretly watched it in the evenings.   I never told anyone obviously.

I liked the characters and the stories.  I still like cartoons.  I’m surprised it is not currently showing on any of the million channels we now get.  I thought about it the other day and went to look on the internet.  I found the entire series complete in one set of 10 DVDs for $19.00 on eBay.   Totally worth it so I bought it.

It’s not exactly high definition video but we didn’t have that back then.  I appears to be a pretty good transfer from a videotape source.  Every once in a while the music goes wierd.  I converted the whole set to MP4s using Handbrake and sharpened the video a bit.  The result was a nicely watchable series.

I’m watching the whole thing when time allows and am enjoying it just as much as I did back in the 80s.   Shhh.  Don’t tell anyone.


Memory – Why I chose to play the Oboe

thoboI just got back from a wonderful evening of rehearsal for my community band.  We’re damn good and I’m not biased.

I was thinking back to my early days even before I joined band in middle school.   I was very young and I had an idea where my friends and I put together a little band.  I was going to take some bamboo out of the yard and make a flute.   Never did that but it was still a great idea.  I never mentioned it to anyone.  It was my secret idea.

It was just the month before my first year of middle school and my friends asked me if I was going to join the band.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing so I just went along with them.   The school had the cafeteria set up for us to try out the different mouthpieces to see if we liked them and had any aptitude for each instrument.  I saw the oboe reed and immediately know it was special.  Vincent chose to play the trumpet and Gregory chose the Saxophone.

When school started we had our first rehearsals.  You know that had to have sounded horrific.  I found that I was the only person to chose the oboe and I didn’t know at the time that I chose wisely.  There are many benefits of playing the oboe as well as disadvantages.


  1. You’re almost always first chair.
  2. No chair tests.
  3. You’re always in demand.
  4. Nobody will piss you off because you’re it.
  5. Plenty of solos.


  1. It’s hell to play.
  2. You will always be fighting with the reed.
  3. It’s expensive.  You probably won’t own one while in school but the school will provide it for you.  Used.

I played throughout middle school and high school but didn’t do it in college.  I had enough by then.  It wasn’t until around 15 years later that I joined a community marching band.  You don’t march with the oboe so during I school I took up the flute for marching season.  In the community marching band I played the piccolo and was fortunate to play the oboe for sit-down concerts like Christmas.

I had picked up an oboe on ebay at a great price a few years earlier and had it re-padded.  I had been playing along with midi files on the computer and was excited to actually play in a band again.  Eventually I got tired of marching.  I’m to old for that and it’s damn hot in San Antonio so I took a Leave of Absence right after a disappointing Christmas concert.

I got the word of a new community concert band starting up and went to their first concert just a few days later.  They had only been practicing for a couple of months for this concert but they were damn good and I was impressed.  I joined immediately and never looked back.  They were VERY happy to have an oboe player.  (See!)

I’ve been with the band since, well, a lot of years and we continually get better.   The band is composed of a good quantity of local high school band directors as well as amateur and professional players.  Enough of them are serious enough that we have got to be one of the best community bands in the U.S.

As I mentioned earlier, fighting with the reed is always an issue.  Every once in a while you find the One Reed.  I don’t make my own reeds from scratch like real professionals do.  First, I’m not a professional. Second, I don’t really have the experience with it.  I usually buy one from the local store and modify it as needed.  Sometimes they tun out pretty good.

My current reed is one I bought of the internet from a professional reed maker.  I still had to modify it a little to my liking but so far I am very happy with it.  I think I will give up the store-bought reeds.  I just ordered a new synthetic reed from Legere.  It is not your old-timey $8.00 plastic reed for newbies.  It cost me $169.00.  The reviews from the pros are very good and I am looking forward to using it.  It may really push me forward a big step if I can concentrate on technique and not battle the reed all the time.

So there you go.  My musical history in a few paragraphs.  Do I recommend the oboe for kids starting middle school? Maybe.  It’s not for regular people.  Regular people play the trumpet and saxophone. However if you’re special like me, it can be just the right match.

Good luck!

Memory – Backyard Camping

I’m siting in my RV out at Garner State Park waiting for some rice to cook when an old camping memory surfaced. I camp alone because there’s nobody else to come with me. I was recalling a time when I was a young boy and my friend Vincent and John who live two houses down were going to camp out in their back yard. I’d been camping before with my parents but they had not.

We set up a little tent and were all set. As evening slowly fell, they went inside the house and never came back out. I was pissed off so I yelled out, “Go to hell!!” and walked home. Of course by the time I got two houses down their mom had already called mine and told her what I said. Like I gave a damn.

Finding people who appreciate awesomeness is extremely difficult on this planet. I’m not sure why. I am doomed to enjoy all the awesomeness by myself. I guess that way there is more to go around.

Memory – My middle name is Earl

Back in another lifetime, I worked at an Air Force Base in San Antonio.  I was a civilian contractor along with two other guys in my office doing base computer support.   Randy was suddenly obsessed with finding out my middle name.  All I would give was the initial, “E”.   He kept trying every once in a while.  Finally, one day we were filing out some official forms and he came and looked over my shoulder at my copy.  Under middle name, I wrote, “E”.

That pissed him off.  He went back to his desk and picked up the phone and called my mom.  We were good friends at the time and I was still living with my mom so he knew the number.   She answered the phone and he asked her what my middle name was while I yelled, “Don’t tell him!”.   She did anyway.

There’s nothing wrong with the name, Earl, I guess.  Still, I was never very proud of it.  I never even liked my first name and the second name was worse.

Even to this day I occasionally remember my middle name.  It sounds just as foreign now as it did then.  I’m always like, “Oh yeah.  I forgot.”