Author Archive

A Lifetime of Social Activism

Posted: August 25, 2016 in Piano

I have been a social activist for over 30 years.  One of the challenges we face in the U.S. is overcoming the difficulties we have cultivating open and respectful relationships with some people that we encounter, and most especially for people we might never encounter. I want to isolate my comments here to just those difficulties that arise in communications between white people and African Americans. I want to reflect on my many special encounters with African Americans.

My background is relevant. I have many experiences that have shaped my understanding. I have a college degree, acquired at a later age after I served in the Air Force in the Washington D.C. area. I have had childhood friends who were African American, school teachers, and fellow military associates. I have a background as a writer. I have written articles about African Americans I have known and who I admired. I grew up in the sixties and was deeply moved by the social injustices that were endured by African Americans. I also had some unique experiences as I grew up as a young man.

I remember seeing African Americans protesting outside a restaurant. They held protest signs. There were quite a few present. They were not permitted to eat in that restaurant. I watched from the backseat of a car traveling down the road. The scene ended quickly. On another occasion I remember seeing signs posted on bathrooms and drinking fountains that read “Whites Only”. I didn’t understand why.

In 11th grade I was fortunate enough to have the basketball coach as my history teacher. He had a reputation for being a fun teacher.  One day he was very upset. He told us he had purchased a house in the suburbs. The neighbors sent him a letter and offered to buy his house if he would move out of the neighborhood. He did not answer them. Then came another letter with an offer to buy the house for more than he had paid for it. The neighbors were white. The basketball teacher was an African American. He said, “White people do not mind when I coach their kids to play basketball, but they do mind when I try to buy a nice house in their neighborhood.” I felt very sad. I was embarrassed by their bigotry.

I have had many experiences like those. I cannot recall or tell all the stories, but I can say that I reacted in a way that made me very sensitive to the problems faced by African Americans during that time. In the 1970s tensions eased. By the 1980s I felt like the sixties were gone forever. I lived in Erie, PA with an African American I had met. I needed an apartment. He wanted to help me. I lived with him for six weeks. One of his friends was a black radio DJ. He was a very unusual man. “I am the only black radio DJ in Erie!” he would say. Today he is a correspondent for NBC. We share memories going back 30+ years.

Erie in 1980 was a very different kind of town. I saw mixed marriages, blacks dating whites openly, it all seemed very normal to me. It was a relaxed time and “race relations” was not a concern. I do remember one occasion where my friend took me to a bar that was frequented exclusively by African Americans. I was very nervous at first. “No one will bother you as long as you let them know you are with me.” he said.

I was called a racist once by a girl that worked in the same mall as I. She had asked me out. I heard myself say no. I do not know why I said no. She said, “I have never had a guy turn me down for a date.”

“Is it because I am black? Are you a racist?”
She was a very aggressive person. We dated for a while and became good friends. One day I received a call from a girl at the jewelry store across the way. “Are you going out with Sandra?” she said. I mumbled, “Yes…”

“Well I am not going to go out with anyone who dates a black girl,” she said. I was shocked, but I managed to answer, “I wasn’t planning on asking you out again.” She hung up. I was stunned. How could a person be so cruel and so damn ignorant!

In 1986 I took a Business Law class from a black attorney and guest teacher at the college I attended. He was the first African American I knew who would qualify as militant. I loved his class. I learned about the Supreme Court, about how President Reagan was trying to stack the court with conservative judges. My penchant for social activism came alive in that class. I went into the final with an A. I aced the final. Afterwards I had lunch with the teacher. I asked him one question that was bothering me. “How come black people are angry at all white people. What about those of us who are trying to help. Is there never a time when it is okay to say thanks to those who are on their side?”

His answer came quickly, “If you are truly on our side, you don’t need us to say thank you. There is no time to say thanks. There is too much butt to kick.”

So that happened. J

The 90s came and went. I worked in the musical instrument manufacturing industry. I represented a company that sold a very popular instrument. I received a request from a gospel organization to supply synthesizers for a convention. In trade, I would be able to give a demonstration to hundreds of people and set up a booth for free. My company said no. I put all of my sample into the car, along with my wife, and we headed to New Orleans. We were the guest of Reverend Cleveland at the Music Gospel Workshop. They paid for our room at the Marriott.  We spent the next three days at a convention attended by 20,000 Black Americans. I felt right at home. Reverend Cleveland took a moment to make a remark about my piano playing ability. He had a very gruff voice. I was in his room with other musicians. He walked past us as we talked about the synthesizers I had brought. He looked at me and said, “Boy! You need to learn how to play gospel music!” and continued on his way. It is true, I am terrible at playing gospel music although I thoroughly enjoy trying! Years later I ended up working for the Hammond Organ company, manufacturers of the famous B-3 organ. My dealer in Dallas was Reverend Ford. A dear man. We were friends. He has passed now.

My experiences with African Americans continued my entire life. I have been deeply enriched by all the African Americans I have met in my lifetime. I am a jazz musician. I have played with countless musicians, black, and white. To tell you the truth, at 1:00 in the morning after a four hour gig, everyone is a little dark. I am not that guy who knows one African American. I have known hundreds and been the better for it.

Regrettably, I live in Texas. Our suburbs are very segregated. Perhaps it is the nature of my work, or maybe a cultural misgiving, but I have not had many friends who are African American. I could probably name a half dozen or so. At my advanced age I don’t have too many white friends either. I am told that this is normal for a man my age.

A few years ago I was standing in the hallway of the school outside the gym. I was alone. The halls were completely empty. There on the wall before me was a life-sized picture of the entire basketball team, and another photo of the entire softball team. The photos were huge. Above the photos were the words “State Champs” for each team. As I viewed the photo I marveled that I was looking at the faces of only white people. I furrowed my brow and said out loud, “There are no black people at this school.”

A voice from behind me said, “Oh, there are a few of us around.”

I turned and there was a tall African American father standing right behind me. He scared me! How is it possible that he would walk up to me at the exact same time as I uttered my disbelief at the disproportionate number of African Americans on the State Champions in basketball and softball. I smiled and we laughed together. We talked for a while.

I think I may have had more experiences with different kinds of people because I seek out relationships like that. I went to school to learn some Spanish so I could import some guitarrones so a school in Midland, Texas could get instruments for their Mariachi class.  I took Japanese lessons from a piano customer. I enjoy everyone I meet, but it still hurts to see people who are subjected to social injustice.

It frustrate mes that in 2016 a new generation of people have to work through their feelings about the social injustices  that exist in the U.S. Race relations is only one problem. Many of them are angry. Most are presumptuous and somewhat arrogant in their opinions.  Passion is a better word. But I have been aware of racial tensions my whole life. I traded passion for action a long time ago. As a Democrat, I was particularly excited to see an African American become president of the United States. Since Texas is pretty conservative, I can tell you that I have been in some pretty testy conversations in defense of President Obama. I don’t expect a word of thanks, because as I said, I learned that if you are helping out, you don’t need anyone to say thanks.

These are not all of my experiences, but this is enough to convey my sincerity. When I was in my twenties, an entire generation worked through our differences – not by talking at each other, but by listening, trading ideas, creating understanding. It was my generation that paved the way for the first African American President. I feel pretty good about that. But history is cruel. The past means nothing unless you have one. It is apparent that each generation is going to have to define itself of every social injustice that is pressing in that time. Whether it is GLBT, whites and blacks, Hispanics and everyone else, whatever the division is for that time period, people are going to have to work through those issues over and over again.

So it is for me, that something I reconciled long ago,  this wound that I thought was healed long ago, has reopened and needs attention once again. And it appears that each generation will have to tend to that wound until it finally heals. We can only hope.

I had fun writing this. It was good to revisit some of those memories. Taken in sum, I am a better man because of the people I have known. Many of those encounters have been with African Americans. I have traveled all over America and met people from coast to coast. But now it occurs to me that I really didn’t have that many friends who were African American. Or maybe I did.

Then again, I really wasn’t keeping score.

[Ed. note: One of my followers is a high school teacher. He uses his blog to give students their assignments. I subscribe to his blog. Today’s assignment is the title of my blog. I have been charged to write a 300 word argumentative essay. The blog below is 453 words.]

 
The year tablets were first introduced to high school students in my town, every ninth grader was given an iPad for use for the entire year.

People debated the merits of the program that year. Some liked the idea, others did not. Something odd happens in a community debate, where information flows in chaotic ways, from government officials, through editorials and over backyard fences. Eventually, out of all the pros and cons mentioned during the debate, an essential argument wins the day. In this case, it was agreed that competition is high among students who want to go to college. Since other schools were almost certain to migrate to tablet use, our students would be at a disadvantageous if they did not have access to computer tablets. So this was the essential argument that won the day: “If we don’t use tablets in teaching, our students may not be able to compete against better prepared students.”

“Better prepared” is an assumption. No one knew then, and no one really knows now, if students that use tablets in high school are better off than students that do not. But when school leaders reduced all the arguments given, they bought every 9th grade student a tablet. The following year, they provided every high school student an iPad. Every single student!

This method of education administration is called Crowd Following. At least, that is what I am calling it. The idea is to find out which way the crowd is going, and then make sure you are going that way too. So for the crowd of students that were assumed to be more competitive than our students, the School Trustees rushed blindly to make sure they joined that crowd, rather than fall behind.

Should tablets become the primary way students learn in class? It depends on which way the crowd is going.  Everyone follows the crowd. Scientists develop new ideas based on old ones. Educators embrace new teaching methods and discard the old ones. School Administrators are pressed to improve the performance of the students and the schools. Everyone follows a crowd. No one wants to be left behind.

So it doesn’t matter if tablets should or should not be the primary way students learn in class. That is what educators are doing today because that is what they think everyone else is doing.  If I am wrong, then there are no predictable patterns to human behavior, no record of Crowd Following in the annals of history and parents make decisions for reasons other than conformity.

All of this reminds me of a song title my father told me about. “Don’t Run Through the Cornfield Grandma, Because You are Going Against the Grain.”

No parent wants their children running against the grain.

The Dutch Luthier

For the reenactment project I make reconstructions of the tools depicted by Jost Amman in his portrait of “Der Lautenmacher” (1568).

imageAt the workbench we see a variety of tools:

  • A mallet
  • Chisels (and gouges?)
  • Two hand planes

And in the box under the bench an oval honing stone and a glue pot with a brush.

But rather than only make some props (a nice but quite useless exercise) I want to have some working planes and use them in the shop.

Melencolia IThe plane on the foreground looks like a smoother, the one in the background like a jointer. Two things stand out: the jointer bulges out in the middle, and the smoother has a sort of horn at the front. A similar model can be found in the “Melencolia I” engraving by Albrecht Dürer (1514).

Melencolia plane

The handle looks like it resembles a bone. Perhaps a remnant of earlier…

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directions

Two months ago I bought (literally) into the idea that I could join those who have published webpages with today’s advanced features. Since HTML 1 came out, I struggled to keep up with the basics. But I was able to write code and had several webpages over the years. As HTML advanced from vs. 2 to vs 5, I tried to keep up. But somewhere between 4 and 5 I got lost. The capitalists, developers and IT guys won. They made the internet language so complicated that I could not learn it within the time I had available to allocate to learning.

I started this free WordPress blog three years ago. From the beginning, WordPress ads encouraged me to upgrade to the REAL product. Two months ago I did that. Since then, I have completely lost control of being able to edit my webpage. There has to something easier than WordPress.

WordPress is ridiculously complicated. It is not intuitive. Let’s all understand what intuitive means. To me, it is like trying to find your car keys. When you lose them, you look on the desk, or on the hook by the door, or in other obvious places.

If you lost your keys in WordPress, you would have to look inside a drawer leading to a long staircase that led to a dark dungeon with a hallway of locked doors. Intuitive means that something is placed EXACTLY where you would think it should be. Keys go on the hook by the door, and monsters are kept in the locked doors of hallways.

WordPress is not intuitive. Nothing is where it should be. It is impossible to find anything without watching a video tutorial.

Video tutorials are fine as long as they teach you what you need to learn. WordPress video tutorials teach you EVERYTHING they want you to learn, which most often does not include what YOU need to know right NOW so you can continue working on your webpage.

WordPress management knows this. They would have to know it. How could they not know it? They press forward in SPITE of the fact that these problems exist. They leave most of us behind when they do that. The internet was once a chalkboard that anyone could draw upon. Today, you have to use special chalk, write in a special language, and most telling – you have to pay to use the chalkboard.

The choice for me is to find a new home for my webpage. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below. Thanks.

The Foot Less Traveled

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Piano

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My resume lists the major achievements of my life. I try to make a good first impression. We are each encouraged to put our best foot forward when we present ourselves. We all have a few blemishes, but no one wants to read about those when they meet someone new.

Those blemishes are the foot you do not put out in front. They are the things you cover up, hide, redefine in euphemism, gloss over, ignore, deny and maybe even lie about.

But those things are every bit as much a part of the definition of who you are as the good things. Sad isn’t it? There you are in the photo above walking on that path of life, carrying all that baggage, dragging one foot behind you. It can really slow you down, all that baggage.

Have you heard the expression, “You are believing your own press.” People overstate their accomplishments and understate their flaws so the press release they broadcast to the world looks as good as possible. If they do it long enough, with zeal, they may start believing what they tell others is actually true!

If you believe as I do, then you value all the adventures in your life, even the missteps, slips and falls. Those things are part of you; you earned them. Since we tend to focus on the positive each day, it is a welcomed reprieve to be able to shut the door on the negative. No one wants to live in regret. As time passes, we reclaim and rename the negative as positive events. After all, we endured those failures, grew from them and moved onto new adventures. They didn’t drag us down and we are proud of that.

What is the worth of a good biography? A biography is much more than a resume. It has worth if it provides a fair and accurate view of the good and the not so good, the strong and the not so strong, the best foot and the foot less traveled.

To know thyself is to accept yourself. Forgive yourself. Dust that odd foot off, dump some of the baggage, and get on down that path of life. You are all the good you are, and you are the improvements you made after you fell a few times.

According to Whom…

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Piano

Between 1850 and 1937 the Paris Expo bestowed praise and awards on many musical instrument manufactures, including various pianos and piano designs, at their annual show. This span of time was also an interesting period in the history and development of the United States of America. We were trying to establish our country’s legitimacy before a world audience. We were indeed a great experiment, but were we yet a great nation – and according to whom?

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Paris Expo in 1900. “Vue panoramique de l’exposition universelle de 1900” by Lucien Baylac – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.15645< Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

In 1850, the U.S. was regarded by influential Europeans and their representative institutions  as a rather barbaric country. As our country became a world leader over the next 100 years, there was early on a pressing need for validation of our progress and achievements from established authorities in each of many fields. Those authorities were all in Europe. The experts in every field, fine arts, architecture, music, manufacturing, technology, city design, all lived in Europe.   Piano companies, seeking an objective and qualified credential of excellent product quality, headed to the Paris Expo (and other expos) to compete for recognition and standing.

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A Bluthner piano sporting an abundance of decal replicas of hard earned awards of excellence at competitions.

American manufacturers made blustery claims of excellence in their sales literature, but the only way to settle the matter as to who had the best piano was to appeal to non-partisan experts in order to settle disputed claims of dominance. Winning an award was high praise for a piano manufacturer. Soon, those awards were displayed on decals on the pianos that were offered for sale. You can still see many pianos today that have decals sporting old awards of superior quality, but it is not always the case that customers gain a true appreciation for what those awards meant to our earliest manufacturers, designers, inventors and all other innovative thinkers in a multitude of fields, most notably among them was the field architecture.

Kimball pianos, as part of their incredible marketing campaign, displayed a large collection of early medals and awards on later day pianos.

Kimball pianos, as part of their incredible marketing campaign, displayed a large collection of early medals and awards on later day pianos. The names of the awards were of less conspicuous contests, such and Mississippi and Pacific Expo, hardly on par with the Paris Expo.

The U.S. in 1850 had not yet made its mark in architecture. We had not established ourselves as a unique and independent civilized culture. In fact, the question of our status as a civilized country was scrutinized even more after the several states seceded from the Union to establish the Confederate States of America. While Americans fought brother against brother in a very brutal and uncivilized war, high-minded Europeans must have scoffed frequently at our prospects as an emerging country. That doubt withered away eventually because of our achievements during the early years of the Industrial Era, but the most significant proof of our national claim of legitimacy would come in 1933 and 1936 with the respective crowning achievements realized when we built the Chrysler Building and the New York Empire State Building. New York, New York itself had emerged as a somewhat modern city. In those moments, it became clear to everyone that the United States of America was here to stay, and had established itself as a new authority in a broad array of matters. We no longer needed to appeal to the authorities in Europe for validation.We had earned our place at the table and proved to the world that we were capable of raising the standard of excellence in every field of expertise.

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Mason & Hamlin Organ advertisement emphasized they had won the “Highest Awards at all Great World’s Exhibitions”.

Today we are so certain of our standing as a world leader that we have no recollection of ever having to appeal to someone else in order to validate the legitimacy of our claims. It is perhaps wise that we remember that at one time we were in fact dependent on the whim and temper of European experts. The validations of our accomplishments were dependent on the authority of others.

The size of the Empire State Building compared to the Eiffel Tower and other buildings.

The size of the Empire State Building compared to the Eiffel Tower and other buildings.

It is August 2015. My last blog appeared on the 30th of December last year. I’ve been busy.

I have written over 100 articles about pianos since I started this blog. The blog has received over 40,000 visits. You would think that the experiences I shared in 100 blogs would have altered consumer behavior. Maybe a few parents would have reconsidered before buying a junk piano off Craigslist. Maybe local piano dealers would stop making outrageous claims about their products.

Nothing has changed. I have helped many people make decisions about pianos – in person, but to my knowledge, the blog has not helped me save the world, one piano at a time. By the way, that’s my company slogan. I changed world to planet. I still can’t decide which I like better. Planet is rather impersonal, but it has more geek appeal.

Grand piano hammers ready for installation

A new set of grand piano hammers are being prepared for installation. New hammers makes a dramatic improvement to the volume and tone of an old piano.

We each need to realize that our work, opinions, ideas and actions do in fact contribute to the sum of all work, opinions, ideas and actions. It just isn’t very obvious or even noticeable at times, but we are each shaping this world we live in – each saving the planet as we are able. I have my hands full saving pianos, otherwise I would offer to help you. If you do your part and I do mine, the planet will be saved eventually. When saving planets (and pianos) it is best to embrace a long term attitude. (Pack a lunch.)

What I Have Been Doing

Like I said, I’ve been busy. I moved. That took a long time. We moved into the new house in November of 2014 (which may explain why I have not been writing blogs!). Six months passed before the last box was emptied or stored in the attic. I had to build a new shop (after I moved all of my pianos from the old place.) My shop is now functional, but it is not yet cozy. It is also no longer located in Coppell, although it is closer to Coppell’s Towncenter than it was before.

I lived in Coppell for 25 years. I knew a lot of people, worked as a volunteer for many  groups, and watched as young leaders destroyed the town one building, one road at a time. It was painful at times. Coppell was such a nice little town when we first moved there, but today it has too much traffic, is over-crowded, and the population turns over so often that the community experience is very limited. You move in, raise your kids, and then leave. After age 50, the demographics drop off. The median age stays around 34. (Time Magazine recently ranked Coppell #8 in Best Places to Live.)

Pianos in my shop are undergoing repair.

The new and improved Coppell Piano Shop.

And that means that the amenities, services and features of the community are guided by the short-term interests of thirty-four year old parents. I do not know if you have been a parent, but 34 y.o. parents do not know a lot about parenting, and even less about running a community.  Coppell is a nice place to raise your kids, but I would not want to live there. That should be the town slogan.  For me, it was time to move – so I headed north to Lewisville.

For the next year I will attending the Lewisville’s Citizen University. I hope to learn about my new community and join other volunteers in community service in some capacity. I try to participate in one major community event each year. It may be a committee, a task force or a

This is Lewisville City Hall, located in the older part of town.

This is Lewisville City Hall, located in the older part of town.

project volunteer. I never know what it will be. Lewisville is a much larger community than Coppell. It is far more diverse in its offerings. There is an established old part of town, a natural lake area, a lake, and a mall area to the south. It is a little overwhelming to understand how people in this community, who are spread out over a very large distance, can share a common view of the city. A large community has many personalities – I seek to learn what those identities are – but it must also have a general and broadly stated common personality. I do not yet know what that is.

Business is Good

The business has not suffered for the move. I am centrally located within the territory of customers I wish to serve. Flower Mound, Lantana and Coppell are just minutes away.  I continue to maintain the pianos at Coppell High School and the Community Chorale, but unlike most technicians, I do not pursue business from institutions often. I much prefer working with individual pianists, and parents of piano students. I have a ton of work to do in the shop, which – in terms of pianos that weigh 500 lbs each, could mean as few as 4 projects – I will busy for some time.

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Eating lunch at the kitchen table, taking a break from saving the planet, one piano at a time.

I need people to buy junk pianos off Craiglist so there will be a need for someone like me to make them playable. I truly wish they would not buy those pianos, but since there is little hope of that happening, it looks like I am going to be busy for a while longer.

As I continue to add articles in this Part 2 episode of my piano blog, I invite you to follow along.

2014 in review

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Coppell Piano Shop, Piano

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

[Ed. After writing this article, it became known that the CISD School Trustees failed to launch a program due to the prior administration’s decision not to comply with the wishes of the School Board. This failure came at a time when the School Superintendent Dr. Turner resigned. In November of 2014, I moved from Coppell, Texas. I have not continued to advocate for school orchestra in Coppell ISD schools. I have no knowledge about any progress that may have occurred since the 2014-2015 school year.  The football program is fine though. The School Board managed to build another large facility for the sports programs.]

It appears that Coppell ISD will offer string orchestra instruction this year. I operated as the lead advocate for this important curriculum offering. This was my second attempt to encourage the School Board to offer orchestra. The first attempt occurred in 1997 and was eventually undermined by certain unknown actors who held more influence.

The second attempt came ten years later. I entered into a letter writing campaign to the School Trustees, and persisted for three years, even though I found that body politic to be stubborn in practice and delusional about their responsibilities to the voters.

So I find myself divided on how to celebrate this event. On the one hand, the proceedings convinced me that school management, under its present form, is unbelievably incompetent. On the other hand, by some master stroke of persistence and good fortune, a small number of children will now be able to learn how to play one of the stringed instruments.

I did not have a hand in the design of the projected offering, nor did the School Board ask for any assistance during their deliberations. No trustee informed me of their intention to introduce orchestra or contact me after the fact to let me know they had acted to do so. It is not the program I would have designed, and if it fails, it will be due entirely to the lack of competence, misaligned values and mule-bullheadedness of those several actors in the ISD body politic that delayed its creation for a period of fifteen years.

My plan (just so you will know) was to canvas the entire community and to redesign the ENTIRE music curriculum, which would leave orchestra as an equal partner in the arts community.  I believe that little effort would be required to write a persuasive argument in support of the idea that children who join band are being exploited to support the football program. There are simply too many trumpets, clarinets and trombones laid to rest underneath the beds of former band students to believe otherwise. Curricula of the academic studies are designed to create lifelong learners. The band program is said to cause much “burn-out” among students, many of whom never again play their instrument.

And although I could say much more about the limitations of the School Borg, a moniker I devised after learning that they have each abandoned individual accountability to the voters who elected them, in favor of working as a “collective” who is inclined to only speak with one voice, please know that I also have an endless list of complaints I could levy against the voters themselves, who by comparison make the School Borg look like Saints.

If not for the will and persistence of a very small number of truly inspired individuals, (of which I am one), no political system or social group would ever be able to produce a single program of merit, to the benefit of the great masses of free loaders who are intent and expectant that others will perform the lion’s share of a community’s work, and to the chagrin of those stalwart institution-lovers who are so fearful of changes of any sort, that they stand in the roadway of progress like dumbfounded jackasses.

So the good children of Coppell will now have orchestra. It is done. And if ever again I enter the arena of school government, I am now mindful that it would be an action which would stand as due cause to have my head examined. I retire with what sanity I have preserved, which is decidedly more than is required to work within the insanity found in the hallowed halls of our governments.

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Vacation time at Edisto Beach, South Carolina with family.

Yes, 2014 has been a great year – one of the best for me. I haven’t worked this hard for many years, and I can only blame myself since I adopted a positive “can do” attitude through 2013.

Here is the recap.

May 2013 – Our daughter graduated from college. If you are under 50 years old, the significance of this achievement may not move you too much. The impact on the monthly household budget was enough to jump for joy!

July 2013 – The daughter gets a job in her field of choice, and remains employed a year later. This too is a major parental accomplishment, although my daughter deserves all of the credit for getting and keeping a good job.

October 2013 – Buddy died. She was sixteen years old and a faithful and loving pet.

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Where once was an empty wall, emerges a new shop.

November 2013 – We moved into a new home. This took several months to accomplish, and 13 weeks of unloading boxes to complete. I worked 12 hour days, just like I was a young pup. It was crazy a time.

December 2013 – Coppell Piano Shop had its biggest month ever! I serviced 2-3 pianos every day of the week. I have no idea how I got through that month. We had a lovely Christmas. On December 31, my father passed away at 82.

January 2014 – I started with an empty garage and built a new piano shop. In my older shop, a room 20 X 8 at the head of a carport, every item had its place. I could work on 3 piano actions at a time, and the tools were neatly assigned on boards, in drawers or on shelves.

I did not fully appreciate how nice that shop was until I started building a new shop. Yes. I am now able to build the shop I really want, but it will take years before I maximize the efficiency of the extra space I now have. Most of the room however is dedicated to pianos: I acquired several pianos last year, and they are each awaiting repairs.

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Enjoying a rainstorm on my new back porch.

February – May 2014 – When Spring hit, it was time to do the annual gardening – new chores associated with buying a new home. When I wasn’t working on pianos, I was building beds, digging, planting and watering.

June 2014 – I took a family vacation – the first in twenty years. We spent a small fortune traveling to the east coast and back again. We visited relatives in eleven states after spending a week in a beach house in South Carolina.

July 2014 – After the vacation ended, I recall having a “moment” on the porch where I felt that we were finally moved into the new home. It is now the 22nd of July and I have returned to the daily routines of being a piano shop owner. We are weeks away from the “Back to School” season, and that means I have a ton of work to do in preparation.

shopblogbreakfast

Lunch and a good book.

I am up at 6:00 each day and work for a few hours in the shop. When the mid-morning arrives, with its heat, I move indoors to attend to administrative chores.  Appointments start at 10:00 and go through the day. After dinner I return to the shop if the heat is not unbearable. Lately it has been rather cool, so I am pleased to have the extra time.

I have a hundred things yet to do. That is my fault. If I wasn’t so positive and driven, my life would be much easier. I need a serious attitude adjustment!!!