Crunch Time

It?s crunch time for me right now. For some strange reason, I decided to pursue National Board Certification this year. Now, that wouldn?t be such a bad thing if I wasn’t trying to pursue a doctoral degree at the same time. A word to the wise: both are worthwhile and rewarding endeavors – just don’t try them at the same time.

My portfolio is due on March 31. I have 4 entries to submit. I?ve done a ton of preparation, but this week it will all be coming together. My plan is to have entry 3 completed by Thursday of next week. Entry 1 needs to be done by 9:00AM on Monday, March 13. I’m using it as one of my required research projects for the doctoral program at Auburn (I’m not a complete idiot, I do dovetail when possible). I’ll be going down next weekend to live in the library at Auburn. My goal is to finish Entry 2 then as well.

That leaves Entry 4 to be the sole thing I need to complete during my spring break (March 13-17). I hope to finish it by Saturday, spend most of Sunday the 19th assembling all of my materials, and then FedEx my portfolio entry to NBPTS on Monday the 20th. That puts me just ahead of the March 31 deadline and the mayhem that certainly surrounds literally thousands of portfolio boxes arriving the week of the 31st. Some even go so far as to fly to the office in person to hand deliver it. I may have procrastinating tendencies, but I’m not that bad.

Well, this ends an evening/night work session that was extremely productive. I’ll try to keep my progress posted.

Day 8

Well, today is my 8th day on my diet. As of this morning, I’ve lost 8 lbs so far. Not a bad start to a week. I?m doing the south beach diet again, so I’ve another week of phase 1 left. Been eating pretty well for the most part. Had my ritual coffee for breakfast, a kung pao chicken frozen southbeach meal for lunch (really good, but a bit small). Snacked on some roast beef & cheese when I came home. Dinner was a big ol’ ham steak. Of course, I should have fixed myself a salad, etc to go with it just for nutrition sake, but I was kind of busy, so slapping that steak in the pan and letting it warm was good enough for me.

I also had a setback of sorts, but not really. I bought a new scale this weekend. It’s pretty cool. The only problem is that I weighed two pounds heavier than I thought I did. The good news is that I tested both scales one right after the other (old and the new) and they both weighed consistently the same. So I have actually lost 8 pounds, I was just 208 when I started out, and not really 206. I’m setting my target at 185, but in reality, I just want my pants to fit right and to get rid of my gut.

Still haven’t started exercising yet . . .

Tech lack-of-support

Why do tech support people have to be such idiots? I’m guessing because they are trained to deal with stupid problems like “you have to plug the computer in first, ma’am.” And when someone like me calls with an honest issue, they don’t know what to do “no, I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work. No, I tried that too, it doesn’t work. Don’t even suggest this, I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work either.”

I just got off the phone with Charter high speed tech “support” (using the term loosely). I really hate it when people don’t know what they’re talking about. I got mad because he insisted he was right, when I knew in fact, he wasn’t.

Serves me right, I should have just kept googling.

Encryption Oddity?

Should it bother me that my email is encrypted with 256 bit encryption (AES-256) while my online banking is encrypted with 128 bit encryption (RC4-128)? You’d think you’d want your bank to have greater encryption than your email. Or is it that google is better at this game than my bank is?

What’s wrong with this picture?

For the past several months, I’ve been asking myself the same question whenever I hear about Saddam Hussein in his supposed trial: Isn’t this guy supposed to be a prisoner of some sort? How can a prisoner just decide not to show up at a trial? The most recent article is here.

From my point of view, I think it’d be great to see Saddam Hussein sitting in the courtroom in a neon orange jumpsuit and handcuffs rather than being given the freedoms that none of the people under his tyrannical rule ever had.

But then again, I’m not in charge . . .

Losing weight

I’m on the quest to lose weight again. I’m keeping a private journal of my daily progress, but don’t want to bore everyone with my daily log of what I eat and so on. Last year, my wife and I each had a physical as part of the life insurance application process. When I got the results of the bloodwork, I was shocked at how bad my cholesterol and triglycerides were. I’m now paying a small fee each year so that in the event that I die, my family will be well taken care of. Naturally, life insurance is one investment from which no one wishes an early return. I’m trying to take care of my family, but it occured to me that taking care of myself was a big part of that. I did some reading and eventually settled on the South Beach diet. I didn’t do the thing, but just bought the book and lived by the basic principles. I don’t like having to follow set menus or specific rules, but rather live by general guidelines (ironic from a BJU grad, don’t you think?). It worked well for me and I lost 40 lbs in a few months.

Summer rolled around and with the hecticness of grad school, I went off the official diet. I tried to live by the “do as little damage as possible” philosophy, and that worked well for a few months. After several months, my eating habits in no way resembled those that let me lose so much weight. It took me about 4 months to lose 40 lbs. In the 8 months or so since then, I’ve gained back 15. I’m on a quest to now lose 25 pounds, bringing me down a total of 50lbs from where I started a little over a year ago.

To be honest, I’m not caught up in the numbers of weight loss. I am however, very concerned with the daily consequences of it. I want my pants to fit better, I want to look and feel better. I want and need to be healthier. I’m certain that this time around, I’ll need to add an exercise component. Any suggestions on that one?

I’ll keep you all posted from time to time on my progress. Weekly, perhaps?

Making Music Together

There is nothing in the world quite like performing with a great orchestra. Not just a pretty good one, but a great one. I’ve just come from my second GAMAC orchestra rehearsal for the week. I’m starting to feel like a real musician again and not just someone who hacks away with middle schoolers all day.

To combine your talents with those of many others, to collectively think, and and feel, this is what is required to recreate a musical composition. Tonight, we recreated Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances. Wow. They played this one at the last artist series of the year in my first year at BJU. I thought it was cool then, it’s ten times more amazing not only to play it, but now to see and hear it through much more mature eyes and ears.

This has been a difficult two days so far because of the time restraints, and likely the next three will prove even more difficult. Already, I can tell you that being able to express the artistry that has been bottled up inside for some time is well worth most every inconvenience I suffer as a result. I can’t wait to go back for more.

A truly insignificant title

I?ve never been one to keep a journal. I’ve tried it several times and failed (though it has been many years since the last attempt). Just as with my quest to find a name for this blog, with each post, I seem to struggle to find a topic. The one that came easily was the one that came in a moment of caffeine induced clarity at 6:30 in the morning (these moments are rare, you see). The next day I was ready to report back on my experiment (which did not go well) and my new blog service was in the midst of a 24+ hour systems upgrade. After that, things just sort of went downhill.

Next week I’m performing with the GAMAC orchestra. We’ll have rehearsals all week and then a performance on Friday. I’m also doing a separate concert on Saturday as well. I know its going to be a hectic schedule, but I really can’t wait. After you leave school as a music major, your opportunities to perform in a top notch group is limited, at best. I know full well how difficult the week will be in general. I know how incredibly difficult it will be for my wife since she will be taking care of the kids all day and all night with very little help from me. Even knowing all of this, I am greatly anticipating those rehearsals and performances. I am especially looking forward to my second shot at Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. The whole concert is a Russian extravaganza, so almost everything has pretty cool horn parts (though not all are terribly challenging). I’ll definitely have to do something as a thank you to my wife. The cool thing is that even though it is going to be difficult and she is not looking forward to the experience, she realizes how important it is to me and doesn’t begrudge me the opportunity. That’s a wonderful thing there.

Now once I got going, this wasn’t too bad. Perhaps from now on I’ll write my title once I’m done writing instead of before. Just start writing and then look back and see what its about. Sounds like something they taught us in one of my research classes, hmm. Maybe grad school really is paying off . . .

Morning Coffee

Morning coffee is the elixir of life. Just twenty minutes ago, I was a complete zombie, staggering around in relative darkness. Now, after a mere quarter of my mug of coffee gone, I am sitting down writing coherent (I hope) thoughts. I really wish that I had the discipline to go to bed early and get up early. For me, the hard part is going to bed early. I?m going to experiment with it tonight and see what happens. If I go to bed by 10:30, am I capable of getting up at 5:30? I guess I?ll just have to wait and find out. Its amazing how quiet it is in the morning. Not just in my house, but in the neighborhood as well. When I had to leave the house at 6:30 on a Saturday to go take a test for NBPTS a few weeks ago, the silence in the neighborhood was almost shocking. Yet somehow, it was really, really nice. Maybe I?m a morning person who just stays up too late. As a kid, I always got up really early and prided myself in that fact. GI Joe coming on in the morning is a great motivator for a young boy. If I can end up getting more work done in the morning, spend more time with my family in the evening, and actually get 7 hours of sleep in on top of it all, this would be an even more powerful motivator. Let?s see what happens.

Getting Started

Why must getting started always be so difficult? I enjoy writing, but I cannot stand attempting to determine a topic. Let?s take this new blog for example. An old friend encouraged me to get going on my blogging effort. I decided to take the plunge and then instantly hit a roadblock. What do I call this thing? There was the quest for something clever, for something that sounded intelligent, for something . . . I don?t know what. At any rate, this morning I said ?this is dumb,? so I just wrote down what came to mind. And now you have it, A Musician?s Musings. I hope that it will be enjoyable, and perhaps somewhat frequent.