So Far, Sew Buttons


Friday night, I stood on a lawn doing the best that I could to control a fidgety puppy and a sign that said “Sold”.  The real estate agent who brilliantly guided me through this process did the best she could to not get Auggie too excited to meet people (or too excited to eat the grass) while she guided the camera shot.  In a couple minutes, they were gone, and the pup & I were left with this new house.

What did we do then?

Well, nothing I guess.  Generally speaking, and literally to a certain extent.

My plan was to drop the pup off at home, head to the hardware store, buy a bunch of paint, spend Friday night celebrating, hang out at the house all day Saturday painting, finish up with whatever on Sunday before starting to pack Sunday night.  Friday went to plan … until after I bought the paint.  ‘Friday Night Celebration’ turned into ‘watching baking shows on Netflix’.  ‘Saturday all-day’ turned into ‘Saturday morning hanging at Starbucks, then a couple hours at the house before calling it quits after the gas got turned on around noon’.  Sunday, I didn’t even go to the house.  Nowhere in there did packing begin.

So basically, so far at least, all I have done at the new house is tape the trim for painting and drop off some fruit that will probably go moldy before I head back on Wednesday.  The dumb thing is that I don’t have the time to putz around like this.  Movers come for my stuff at the rental on the 18th.  Between now and then, I have to paint some rooms, get some things in order at the house, and pack up everything.  Plus I am out of town tomorrow, and gone again for one of the two weekends between here and then.  It’s going to be crunch time before I even get a good crunch going.

You would think I would be fired up to get in there; but it was a little bit of the opposite.  The problem with buying a house sometimes it feels like an arranged marriage.  Before finalize the deal, you get such a short time that you set-up some preconceptions that may or may not be true.  That’s kinda what happened as I wandered around the place this weekend.  The kitchen is primed for a redo.  The garage a classic man-cave in the making.  Bedrooms suitable for setting up for guests.  Then the decks (not the plural there) itching for outside furniture.  At least that is what I envisioned

Thing is, the garage is going to need work.  The floor is … well … a garage floor.   I’ve seen backwater Kansas gravel roads smoother than that floor.  Being detached means it isn’t air conditioned, not a place to be during the summers – so, so much for it being an office this time of year.  Doesn’t mean that all can’t be fixed … but it quickly pegged down a few levels to a ‘long term plan’.  Then I got to think about all this stuff I’ve accumulated over the years.  Much of it is stuff I need, some stuff I want, others stuff to get rid of.  Granted, it’s not a huge amount, but … it’s got to go somewhere, right?  So, I think the second bedroom is going to have to be a ‘stuff’ room for a bit.  The water and power wasn’t on yet, just from the fact they need to verify ownership first, but it doesn’t mean the place is unbearable yet.

It’s just when you peg off those concerns, you are left with a reason to be grumpy.  Which gives you reason to procrastinate.

So I guess I procrastinated like a champion this weekend.  How’s that?


Different States


I guess I am going to have to figure out something new to blog about, because that whole stupid “Master Habitation Plan” comes to an end tonight.  Somewhere between happy hours, I pick-up the keys to the new house in La Crescenta, CA – marking the end of a nearly 8 month journey from being homeless, living in a hotel, to a rental, to a place that has my name on the title once more.  That’s eight months of showings, open houses, applications, offers, signatures, and inspections.  Eight months of ups, downs, lefts, rights.

In all honesty, I hadn’t been convinced this would go through – and looking at my bank account following the down payment, that’s probably more true now than before.  So while I pick-up my keys tonight, I have yet to switch over utilities or figure out movers.

As I am being honest, I can tell you that I was kind of letdown by the ending.  The thing is, this is my seventh housing transaction and I grew to like some parts about it to the point I was looking forward to the ending.

Here’s the thing.  Every state has it’s own laws and means to perform real estate translations … and I get that.  In Kansas and Alaska, I just thought that meant different bits and bops that location specific.  For instance, Alaska doesn’t require a termite study because … let’s face it … termites don’t do so well in Alaska’s winters.  In Kansas, they flourish there … and probably would do better if there was more than three trees in the entire state.

When I got to Massachusetts is when I noticed that things were really different, but I just blamed that on the insanity that is Massachusetts anything.  There are no titles there, so the sale is recorded by the county you live in.  Meaning, closing occurs at the county house (for me, it was Suffolk county, in the basement, in a cold quiet stone room, that was specifically made for closing real estate translations).   In typical Massachusetts fashion, something that seems to make things easier is made harder … you don’t deal with a titling company, which should sound easier, but both buyer and seller must retain a real estate attorney whom goes over the documents and red lines a minimum number of nothing things to make their retainer look like it went to a good use.

So buying a house in California felt like it was going to be back to the old way of doing things.  That was true for the most part, but not the final part.  Whether it be Kansas, Alaska, or Massachusetts … “Closing Day” meant you went somewhere, signed your life away, and the transaction went live while you were waiting.  Not True for California.

I visited the title company to kick out paperwork on Wednesday.  That had to go to someone to do something and something else happened.  As a result – all I have to do today for closing is pick up the keys.  No signing my life away.  No looking across the table at a seller who is relived to get a money pit off their hands.  No buyers remorse.  Just me, a house, a dog, and something to lock things up.

Now, the transition begins.  Not just from house to house, but from state to state.  Leaving behind the renter’s life for the owner’s life.  Finishing up the period where things seemed temporary, to making everything stick.

Which I guess means getting a real hobby.

Tomorrow, And I’m Out of Here


Ben Folds has a song called “One Down” that I am fully embracing right now.  The lyrics are mostly straight forward, if not a little confusing; but with a little background it makes the song that much more fulfilling.  When he was a struggling artist, Ben paid the bills by songwriting for others.  He ultimately had the rights to record them, but the intent was to crank out songs for others to use.  Struggling with a mix of writer’s block and good-old procrastination, he fell so far behind his record company put him on probation – not allowing him to even record his songs until he got that work done.  The contract required 4.6 songs … the 0.6 meaning a collaboration song in that mix.  While struggling with trying to write something, some people actually told him it maybe better to just do a half-ass job.  Lost in the battle over integrity and his desire to pay his bills, he punched one out … and hated it  … hated it so bad he never performed it (and said he was unaware anyone ever performed it).  But still, he had one down … and 3.6 to go.  With that thought in his head, the next song came along whose lyrics include:

I have one I finished yesterday, and I have 3.6 to go.

That’s right, he wrote a song about cranking out music to fulfill a contract.

Without much surprise, that song has become the most popular of all 4.6 … and I have a lot of his albums, and can’t say I don’t remember hearing any of the other 3.6.  But I LOVE ‘One Down’.  He basically confronts the challenge to keep your integrity or finish your work in the second verse (and sorry for the language, you will notice that for it’s brutishness … its on point):

People tell me; “Ben just make up junk and turn it in.”
But I never was alright with turning in a bunch of shit.
I don’t like wasting time on music that won’t make me proud.
But now I’ve found a reason to sit right down and shit some out.

So, I finished the sixth audit of the Auditpalooza today, and when I walked out of the supplier I knew I had a bunch of reports to work on.  Just because you are done with those meetings doesn’t mean you are really done.  The reports can be the real killer … you spend hours and hours at a supplier, and now you have to summarize everything without the benefit of actually being there looking at things.  What you liked there you may not like at the hotel, what you think is a clear cut finding isn’t a clear cut finding.  As much time I have spent auditing is as much time I have spent reporting.  So as I got back to the hotel today, with the daunting task of reporting on today, the last audit, I looked at the screen and stared.  And waited … and waited

… and nothing.

A great part of ‘One Down’ is the bridge … a sweet sounding, if not immediately out of place, love song.  It dances happily about what a fellow would want to do to be romantic and happy with the girl he loves.  But as it nears it’s end it .. well … kind a sucks … I mean, it goes:

‘I love you more than any man has loved before, I
Love you more than all the stars up in the sky
I think that we should settle down
And live happily forever …
… After’
What do you think of that?

In context, that last bit ‘What do you think of that’ … he’s asking us if we think it’s passable.  The fact that it kinda isn’t is the whole point and makes it that much more perfect.

Today, I had one finding.  Just one.  And I sucked at trying to write it.  I mean, I sat there and stared at a blank page for over an hour.  I tried to take the requirements and refit it.  Tried to take my evidence and replace it.  But it Just Wasn’t Gonna Happen.  I was hungry, I was tired, I was trying to get something down so that come Monday when I am back in the office I can figure out what the heck happened here today.

My favorite part of the Ben Folds song is the conclusion.  How he dealt with the problem.  Not just the problem with writing the song, but dealing with the desire to do the right thing.  It goes:

I’m really not complaining I realize it’s just a job
And I hate hearing belly-aching rock stars whine and sob
Cause I could be busing tables
I could well be pumpin’ gas
Yeah, but I get paid much finer
For playin’ piano and kissin’ ass

I could have done a lot of things in my life.  I could have taken easier routes.  I could have made different choices, ended up in different places, and found myself in easier solutions.  I am where I am, and I love what I do.

It’s just some days, it’s hard to like what I do.

So, I sat down in front of that computer, looked at that finding, and shit it out.

Truth is, I can redo it, rework it, and rewrite it all come Monday.  Most of the report is unfinished, and even if I got it out tonight it wouldn’t be anytime before the weekend before it went out just because … erm … reasons.

That and the chorus of the song says:

One down and three-point-six
Tomorrow, And I’m outta here

Last night in Newark before calling the Auditpalooza over.  Or in otherwords … Tomorrow, and I’m outta here.

The Legend of Tigins


No airport bar should have the amount of stories behind it that I have on Tigin’s Irish Pup in DFW Terminal D.  Just for safety concerns alone, you would think it would be bad for ANY airport bar to have ANY story.  There are bars I’ve been too with better stories, there’s been airports where there are better stories, but when to splitting hairs over ‘airport bars’ Tigin’s takes the cake.

Dallas-Fort Worth airport has been a hub of some sort through most of my traveling days, and only in the last three years have I waned in my visits.  Most of my years of travel happened when I lived in Wichita – and when your airline of choice is American, you have two directions to go, DFW or Chicago (which let’s all admit – anyone who likes Chicago is either on drugs or should be … and I am not just describing the airport).  When I moved to Alaska, I had more choices, but I tended towards the 7 hour monster flight from ANC to DFW to get to the lower-48.  Only when I could get direct flights in and out of Boston-Logan and LAX did my travel to DFW slow down.

If you never been to DFW, it is actually a really well designed and well managed airport.  They built the first few terminals in identical semi-circles to make walking in them between gates easy and make aircraft movement open.  The first four terminals (A, B, C, and … erm … E) are identical in that nature.  But in the early 2000s, DFW eyed a new International terminal and a new design.  Sometime around the end of July 2005 my plane landed at this new open and bright place that is called Terminal D.  I remember the first time I was there, it was so new that there was literally no one there but maybe four or five people.

I can’t be sure when I first visited it, but one of the first places that settled in there was Tigin’s Irish Pub.  As Irish Pubs Go, it probably isn’t the most authentic, but for airport bars go, it couldn’t get more authentic.  Good Irish beer.  Fish & Chips.  Old school carved bars.  Irish whisky on the cheap.  It still is the benchmark for me for Bangers and Mash, until they pulled it from the menu sometime around 2011.  Honestly, the fish and chips went through some changes over the years too.  Big wedges to regular fries to back to wedges.  Long single filets, to overly pankoed roughness, to chunks that are small but rich with flavor.  It’s rare that you find a bar that automatically serves malt liquor with fish and chips, and they have it on the table … right next to the even rarer HP Sauce.  The only thing not worth your time is the cole slaw.  10 years and you think they would figure out how to make cole slaw.  While I prefer bellied up to the bar, the knurled wood community table stands in the middle as it has for over 10 years untouched.

The stories, though, are what I remember.  Tame for bars, they are still legendary to me.  From hanging with co-workers as we departed or arrived together or separate.  To meeting up with random people on a layover to great trips.  I ate there on my own layover on route to Alaska to live there.   I ate there when I passed through the tens of times I needed to.

My old judging friend, Kehan Knapp and I would plan our layovers to meet at Tigins.  We would be out in the fall judging marching bands, usually judging at shows in completely different states – and while I would be heading back to Kansas, he was heading back ot Minnesota.  Still, we knew that a Sunday morning meant returning home – so we would plan that layover to do just that.  We would pull a Smittys and have a proper English.

Probably the greatest story was maybe the greatest sports story I can remember.  It was 2010.  Our team had a three hour layover at DFW after a morning flight from Kansas – our destination was Singapore, by way of Tokyo-Narita.  I was just coming off of a protein shake diet, and hadn’t had an unhealthy meal or a beer in over 9 months.  I intended to have the first real ‘cheat’ meal to be at Tigins.  As it happens, the layover lined up with a World Cup Soccer match between the USA and Algeria.  It must have been somewhere around 9am, because the place was mostly quiet folks having a quiet breakfast when we walked in.  Encouragement from us soccer fans, the sound was raised up and the game went on full.  As the game progressed, the place filled with soldiers laying over both off to the fight or coming back.  But as the game progressed, the result was starting to look dire.  We were down, and started to sniff at the real potential of getting kicked out of the tournament only two games in.  We needed a goal.  As the game grew late, the bar, now packed with people who barely knew how to spell soccer, lived and died on each play.  Then in the dying minutes, a USA break away, a shot missed and saved by a goalie, but a rebound wide open … and the back of the net.  Tigins Irish Pub, a small bar stuck in an airport terminal, EXPLODED.  It was the last kick of the game, a defiant stand by the team, and a room full of people, some of which willing to die for their country, hugged, danced, and chanted USA from thousands of miles away from the game.

There are more stories, many more.  Way too many.

But as I sat at that knurled wood table and raised my Smittys to my lips, I toasted them all.  I had the fish and chips, with malt liquor & HP Sauce.  And I remembered all those stories.

But I skipped the cole slaw.




Tomorrow starts a busy run of work for me over most of the next two weeks.  The schedule is dense with four audits over five days, a couple days off, then a fifth audit to wrap it up.  These five audits are in five different cities, three different states, three different time zones, and will include nine flights over five travel days.  Of course, if you know me, you know I gots to give something like this a name.   Welcome to:


The plan is actually quite crazy the first week.  Sneaking in an audit on the way to the airport -spending two days in San Jose hitting two places over three facilities – then instead of flying home, I am flying direct to the last audit of the week.  This way, I combine one travel day with another travel day, and one travel day with an audit day.  It sounds a bit insane, but my only concern is fitting in the reporting work that comes along with all of this  … and the scope of the audits and the size of the facilities should give me a fighting chance.  Almost in contrast to that, the week after I am spending a God Awful full day flying to New Jersey for a quick audit and a way too early flight home.

But let’s talk about the coolness of this run.

The headliner in there is that I am doing an audit in Iowa.  Not just in Iowa, but at University of Iowa.  Like I am auditing the school … well one department, but still.  What’s strange enough about this is … well .. It’s U of Iowa.  I grew up not far from there, and it was open season on the ridicule we gave to that place.  I mean, talk about astronaut farmers, right?  I thought that school was only for making a taller growing corn stock (cause let’s face it, the pig farmers go to Iowa State).  The most tame joke I thought to post about this audit was “Maybe they hope to build a cubesat capable of making their football team even more mediocre.”

The good news is putting me in Iowa that day means I get to spend a night in Dubuque for the Drum Corps show.  It’s the home show for my home corps, so it will be good to don the red and share stories with other alum about days on tour.

As I was telling people about the coming Auditpalooza, I immediately got the folks saying “I thought you took this job to reduce the travel”.  Well let’s deal with that elephant in the room shall we?

First of all, compared to last year, this is less travel.  In all of July, I am scheduled to be away from home for a total of 10 days – compared to the 27 days in 2016, and 22 days in 2015 (and 2015 had me spend half of it driving across country).  June I was out 10 days – compared to 2016’s 28 days and 2015’s ALL OF IT.  So … yeah .. I am traveling less.  Also, this run is temporary.  For one thing, we are hiring additional auditors.  Not just full time, but contracting folks on the east coast to reduce the actual physical travel.  Also, we are cross-training current auditors to get coverage for some of the things I am exclusively covering.  This may continue for a couple more months, but a plan to take care of it is pretty visible to us.

Besides, I love auditing.  The travel can be wearing, and the schedule hasn’t exactly been good to enjoy the places I visit, but the work is still so gratifying.  As a quality auditor, I walk into a company and help them immediately.  My priority, of course, is looking for areas of risk to JPL product, but 90% of what any auditor sees isn’t going to be significantly concerning or dangerous.  Basically, quality is a means to improve; and a quality audit is fundamentally the best tool to drive improvement.  And as we all know, if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.

Even if it is in Iowa.

Happy Auditpalooza Folks.

Where Do I Live?


The big break-thru this week in the process to buy this new house was figuring out where I would live.

I mean, you think it would be easy to figure out, wouldn’t it?  You would think that all I would have to do is stand in front of the house, point at it and say “Right There”.  Heck, there’s an address and everything really.

What was tricky was actually trying to figure out what town my new house was in.  Again, you think that would be simple, but … nope.

So the end of this comes down to saying – my new home is in La Crescenta.  The US Postal Service straight up told me that with the new zip, the city is La Crescenta.  Which should be an easy ending to this conversation.  But La Crescenta is an unincorporated city.  This means that while it exists in name and in theory, it doesn’t exist in any self-governing way.  Instead La Crescenta is more in lines with a neighborhood of the city of Glendale.  Therefore, the US Postal Service also says that anything mailed to me with the city of ‘Glendale’, it will arrive.

The tough thing is that it is hard to identify with Glendale with where La Crescenta is at.  La Crescenta lies within the Crescenta Valley, wedged between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Verdugo Mountains.  Glendale proper is on the other side of the Verdugos.  So to get to where our ‘city’ is, you have to climb a mountain.  Not exactly feeling neighborly is it.  La Crescenta isn’t the only community like that, I mean, they named the valley after us but there are others here.  La Cañada & Flintridge to the east are also Glendale communities.  To the west is Tujunga & Sundland; while also are unincorporated communities, they are actually a part of Los Angeles.

In fact, the current town I live in, Montrose, is just like La Crescenta in that it is a part of Glendale – and sometimes is directly connected with La Crescenta so far that maps sometimes show them as the hyphenated “La Crescenta-Montrose”.  Heck they share a Wikipedia page even.

Honestly, that is part of the confusion on where I will live.  As I mentioned before, this house I am buying is literally four blocks down from where I live now.  I don’t even change streets.  Yet one house is in the zip code for Montrose, and the other is in the zip code for La Crescenta.  Part of the problem is just the visualization of the location.

The Crescenta Valley is split by Interstate 210 (the Foothill Freeway).  Northeast (or more logically described as ‘uphill’) from the 210 is generally considered to be La Crescenta & La Cañada.  Downhill from the freeway is considered Montrose.  If you ever lived near a freeway, or in a town with train tracks, you know how it seems a city can be divided by that thing that is so easy to cross.  It’s not like there is a good side or bad side, but for the most part there is stuff you can get up the hill and stuff down the hill.  As a result, the house feels like it is in Montrose.  This move puts me no further from downtown Montrose as much as it isn’t any closer to the center of La Crescenta.

In the end. it really doesn’t matter.  Cause for most people who are reading this … ya probably don’t know:
A)  where La Crescenta is
B) where Montrose is
C) what’s a Glendale
D) why you are still reading this
E) all of the above
Chances are, I am going to tell everyone out of the area that I live “next to Pasadena” because they will just assume I live in the Rose Bowl.  Then I’ll tell everyone locally that I live in Montrose, cause there’s a chance they have had brunch there once.  And put my mailing address as Glendale – cause it’s easier to spell than La Crescenta.


Drum Corps – Why You Don’t Get It


This is me trying to explain Drum Corps to someone who doesn’t know it …

The conversation usually beings: “So, there’s this band thing I do.  Marching Band.”  While inside I am already getting the creepy feeling that they won’t get it.
“You mean like parades?” They ask.
My stomach clinches with the memories of my parade hatred.  “No, it’s more like half time shows, but like more intense,”  I reply.
“Is it college bands then?”
Knowing there is no simple way to answer that, “no, it’s more like community based groups, or at least it used to, now it’s bigger.”
Then it comes … “Oh, what do you play?”
Already groaning knowing that the end of this road is going to suck.  “I don’t I just spectate, and judge high schools during the fall.”
“Oh,” they respond.  “Did you play?”
“A long time ago.”  In my head I am already regretting the next question.  I know what it will be, it is the logical place to go.  But it is exactly why these conversations are so hard.  It’s going to lead to the one word that in it’s goofy images & way to spot-on visualization of Mitch that will almost kill the whole complexity of what started this whole conversation …
They ask: “what did you play?”
I don’t want to answer that.

There’s a fair good number of you Bear Feeders that have joined up recently, some of them are raising an eyebrow or two when I make mention of Drum Corps here and there.  The best thing to do is spend a little time explaining it to you so you can ‘get it’.  The problem is … unless you ‘get it’, you won’t get it.  It’s not something that I am trying to make us sound so different or snobby, but for nearly 30 years I’ve been trying to explain it to people who don’t get it, and … I just can’t.  I’ll give it a try, and but no promises, alright?

Drum Corp is, like in that conversation above, closest to a ‘half-time’ show in a football game.  I also describe it as if you were watching a ballet or dance group, but the people dancing are actually creating the music too.  Groups are on a football field and over 13 minutes perform a program using mostly brass instruments, field percussion, and a color guard (mostly dance performers using flags & other equipment).  The program is an organic blend of music & visual that are so intertwined that either by itself is at times unrecognizable.

Part of the reason Drum Corps is so hard to explain is that it isn’t ever the same thing for very long.  Drum Corps (which is actually short for Drum & Bugle Corps) has it’s historical beginnings around the Civil War and came into prominence in the early 1900s.  At the time, community organizations were looking for activities for the kids during summer, and though slapping drum sticks and bugles in their hands were a good way to keep them busy.  We are talking VFWs, Boy Scout Troups, Churches, etc.  Back then, the drums are only what could be carried, and the bugles had no valves leaving to only a small list of music to be played.  So, the activity grew on the backs of precision, uniformity, and more than anything … competition.  In the 60s & 70s, a break began to reward creativity.  The bugles still in the were in their original key of G (which is the musical register an instrument is designed to sustain at; most brass instruments are in the key of B-Flat), but now valves were added, and music because more diverse.  Now the programs were built off of who be more exciting … and who could play louder.  By the early 80s, the competition changed from what was a deduction system for making mistakes (also called a ‘tick’ system, as a judge would literally put a ‘tick’ on a score sheet for every mistake seen), to what is considered a ‘build-up’ system.  Instead of getting penalized for making mistakes, you get rewarded for trying something and succeeding.  By the late 80s, Drum Corp stomped on the gas pedal, and the only way you could be successful was to try to be innovative, creative, and push the activity forward.  Now the thirteen minute programs develop deep, complex stories, all while having kids move with the artistry of dancers while playing music of greater and greater complexity.  Gone are the days of John Phillip Sousa and easy tonal marches – one of this year’s favorites is playing Frank Zappa.  To be a top group, you need massive staging that is mobile during a performance, full electronic set-up to amplify all the right sections, and a show program that makes a Broadway production look bland & uninteresting.

Drum Corps is generally a college-aged student performance as the age limit to march in 22 (there is an ‘all-aged’ level of Drum Corps for the old farts to keep playing, but the top groups are at the ‘junior’ level with the 22 year age-out).  Since nearly all the groups are unaffiliated with any school, you can get performers from around the country and the world.  Many of the performers are also in high school, and depending on the competition level of the corps they can have different levels of talent maturity.  Ultimately, this activity has always been about education, so it exists to give a means for student to learn to play and move at advanced levels.  That being said, the drum corps experience is quite brutal.  Rehearsals go on year-round, but kids ‘move-in’ in late May and rehearse or perform every day for 12-16 hours each day until mid-August.  Most of the time, you sleep on a gym floor, practice all day, pack-up, perform at a contest, then ride a bus overnight to the next location where (if you get in early) your reward is to sleep on a gym floor and do it all over again.

If you think you are getting it now, you really aren’t.  I don’t care if you find my description informative or not; I can’t even begin to say that I think I captured what it is.  And if you know drum corp you are probably saying that yourself.  I marched for five years, taught for another two, and if I had seven years to try to explain it to you, I don’t think I could.

The closest I can come is this … About 10 years ago, Drum Corp made it onto ESPN.  To help show that these kids were as athletic as anyone, they strapped a heart monitor on a drummer to measure his work rate during a run through.  To anyone watching, it wasn’t a surprise to see that the very fit young fellow was topping up to 180 bpm, almost three times a good resting heart rate.  Other telecasts did that same thing, but something happened different this time.  As they were strapping him up, he was standing on the sideline and watched the corp do a run.  While standing there, his heart rate jumped to nearly the same rate as when he was moving.  But he was just standing there … watching the corp perform … and nothing else.

That’s the part I can’t explain.  For those of us that get it, it get’s us.  A great drum corp performance will make me gush with emotions I can’t explain.  Its not just enjoying, or laughing and crying, or seen what I don’t think was possible.  I have laughed until I was rolling on the ground (Velvet Knights 1992) & I have cried from the mortality of life (Blue Knights 2015); and I have heard a corps begin a section with the line ‘impossible you say?’ and then play a nearly impossible section so well I still listen to it over and over (Carolina Crown 2013).  I’ve had more goose bumps than there are geese in the world.  Sometimes it hits you in moments of thrills, sometime it sucks you and tears you apart.

And to be honest … it’s not something it grew on me.  I can purposefully point to two drill sets, 32 counts, on a hot night in 1987; when … Garfield started in a company front, moved forward and slowly allowed the form to scatter, they hit the mid point, paused, raised their horns to the box, then continued, and slowly, slowly, that front reformed, and that last guy came running in and I hoped upon hope he would make it, and when did … my mind was blown.  I may have liked the activity before that moment, but that moment sent me down a path that later led me to practice, to march, to perform, to teach, to judge … to be a part of the marching activity for 32 years.

So I tried, I tried hard to explain it. That’s part of why I like going to shows, I get to hang with people who get it.  There is that moment when you realize you toured with someone, been to the same crappy show sites, rehearsed in the weather that became legendary, or maybe even shared a bus when yours was broken down.  We bond and share and love each other because we love (and usually hate) the same things.  And if you are one of those, then you get it.

But if you don’t get it, that’s okay.  More people don’t get it than do.  Maybe now either you know why I get it … or why I struggle to explain it.  And that’s good enough for me.

and that’s it …

… nothing more …



The blog is over quit reading it.

Nothing else to see here.


Oh yeah, you probably wanted to know what I played.  Well, it was the Contra.

What you never heard of the contra?  Well, that’s what I played.  Nothing else to explain.




nothing else to explain

Okay … okay … it was the tuba, I played the tuba … are you happy now?