Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Of course, you can visit my website for more info about me, or feel free to email me anytime.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thinking...

"While there is a lower class I am in it. While there is a criminal element I am of it. While there is a soul in prison I am not free." Thus begins the novel Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut. This is book with which I am now acquainting myself. I have been a Vonnegut fan for a number of years, and somehow this one has eluded me. The quote is actually from a real person, despite this book's fictional character. Eugene Victor Debs did exist, was a union leader and presidential candidate in the late 1880s. I didn't know that. I had to google it.

I like books that make you think, and Vonnegut was a master satirist. His books are rife with commentary on our society and indeed our humanity. I find them still relevant today, even though most were written decades ago. Even Hocus Pocus, one of his "newer" works, is now over 20 years old.

Thinking is a good thing, and is often overlooked by mainstream society. As I was walking downtown this morning between bus stops on my way to work, I noticed from the marquee of the Century Theatres downtown that one of their current filks is "Jack and Jill". This reminded me again that I like things that make you think. I'm not much of a fan of what I call the "stupid funny" type of movie. You know the one. Where the actor (in this case Adam Sandler) players two characters, and they're not of the same gender. Granted this is just one example; it doesn't HAVE to be like that. But I knew when I first saw a preview of this film that I would never watch it. Just not interested.

I like to think, and the quote at the top reminds us that our society is flawed. It's not generally headed in the right direction, although there still is and likely always will be many good aspects of it. If we all stopped to think, just a little, and wondered what it really meant to be alive, to be here on this planet, to be a part of a society, maybe we could collectively decide on different ways to run it. To run it better. To create some sort of utopia, the likes of which we normally only see in fictional accounts in books or on TV.

Some might say that's crazy talk. Am I crazy? Could be. Maybe all of us are, or maybe all of us should be. Or maybe we're all headed in that direction, in our own special way. One could only hope.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Well another year of mad doorbuster deal shopping after Thanksgiving has passed. Though it's not even 9am right now on Black Friday, most stores have already been open over 8 hours already in their quest to entice shoppers to come and spend money. I myself went out early this morning, though with not a whole lot of specific things to look for.

Actually, with the stores opening at midnight this year, all of the crazy shoppers had come and gone by the time I set out on foot at 5am to brave the madness. And this was quite helpful too; between 5am and 7am I visited both the Wal Mart and Target in Natomas, and neither one was busy. In fact, both stores had and handful of cashiers just standing around and waiting for someone to buy something. They would literally fight over you as you approached the registers with goods in hand, each one of them hoping to finally have something to do.

I actually went out for a specific DVD which was on sale, and it seems that every door buster item was well in stock except for the one I was looking for. There were palates full of $49 Blu Ray players and shelves of half price in-ear headphones and flat screen LCD TVs galore. There plenty of DVD and Blu Ray movies for the picking. Just not, as luck would have it, the one gift that I actually set out to buy.

So, having gone in with the intent of buying a $10 movie, in good holiday fashion I came home with over $100 of other stuff. You're welcome, economy.

It's funny though how some folks just buy stuff because it's on sale, whether they need it or not or if they even know what it is. One lady picked up the movie 300 (pronounced "three hundred") at Wal Mart, and shouted to her husband one aisle: "Hey, they got Three Thousand. Three Thousand is over here." He replied back "Yeah, get that too".

Really people?

Well, it's approaching 9am, so I guess I'll take a cue from my cats and get ready for a nap.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

FeNAM!

Well, just as quickly as it started, this year's Festival of New American Music draws to a close today. This one wasn't too bad actually, though I did have a 15 hour day yesterday and several other 12+ hour days this past week. But, that's pretty typical. Today I'm going for something that I don't normally do...I'm actually going to watch all three concerts today. It's rare for me to watch any concerts these days as I'm just too busy doing other things, but today I'm doing the hat trick.

The highlight will, I think, be the California Youth Symphony at Mondavi. They are an amazing youth group, better than a lot of college groups, and though my composition teacher is their director and I usually get free passes to their bay area concerts, I've never actually seen them live. Today's program features Copland's Billy the Kid and Bernstein's On the Waterfront.

This year's festival has been something of a stoner convention; I don't think there's been a day yet were clouds of vapor haven't trailed into the Music Recital Hall with our audiences. Maybe you need to be high to truly appreciate some of this stuff, I don't know. The theremin concert which opened the festival surely was a good candidate for that. The whole concert was like an acid trip from the 1960s. Seriously. I'm not even exaggerating.

I was fortunate enough to have a work played on the festival this year; the first two movements of my Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Viola were played both at the Student Chamber Ensembles concert and the Student Artists Performance Competition. It was good times really, and the innovation for this year was that many concerts were video recorded and streamed online at Live Stream, so you can go back and watch them again - or catch the ones you missed. It's pretty cool actually; folks have watched our concerts in over 20 different countries, including Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ireland to name a few.

Well it's just about 8:30 Sunday morning now, so I guess it's time to try and get caught up a little on the homework I've fallen behind on. This semester's graduate Ethnomusicology course will be the last class I need for my Master's degree, then it's on to my final project!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Disneyland!

So I did make it out to the parks last weekend. I think it was the mot time I've spent in the parks on one trip, which I can get away with when I'm traveling solo as I can set my own schedule. But I drove down Friday morning and made it into the park by 2pm, staying till 9pm. Hey, I had to get SOME sleep before the weekend....Saturday I was in the parks from 8:15am-10:00pm, and Sunday I was there from 8:30am-11:30pm. That's near 36 park hours in two and a half days. So yeah, I was tired coming home on Monday. In fact, I'm still tired right now.

Unfortunately Pirates was closed for refurbishment, and a fair chunk of DCA was still under construction. But I certainly had my share of rides and shows, seeing the Soundsational Parade twice, Fantasmic and World of Color once, Billy Hill three times, and the Aladdin musical once. Not that I could have squeezed a little more in if I had more time...

I finally tried one of the food items that has piqued my interest for awhile, the Chimichangas from the food cart at the end of Main Street. I don't know why they have so intrigued me, except that I used to get the Chimichanga packs from Costco for lunches, and I've certainly had them at Mexican restaurants. Well, the one from the cart isn't as good as all that; it's essentially just a deep fried bean and cheese burrito. But it was tasty and a good snack while waiting for the fireworks to begin. Oh, did I mention that? Yes, I saw the fireworks too. I could have seen them twice, had I not left the park so early Friday night. But hey, you have to pace yourself at least a little bit.

So it was quite a fun trip, and nice to see the park decked out for the Halloween 'season'. This was actually the first weekend of that transformation, so naturally there were long lines at the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. And with Star Tours being an all new set of adventures, that had a tendency to back up as well. Good thing for fastpasses! I also got to see Ariel's Undersea Adventure in DCA for the first time, as it opened just after I left from my last trip in May. It was, I have to say, somewhat underwhelming. With all they hype I was really expecting something incredible, but yet I found it to be only mediocre for the most part. Still an entertaining ride, especially for the younger kids towards which it is geared. Just not much of a 'wow' factor. Better luck with Cars Land!

I do have a small sampling of photos online as evidence of the good times had. Next up will be Vegas, followed by (you guessed it) another trip to the Magic Kingdom in January.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playing Again

So I find myself once again playing on a G bugle, this time a soprano and with the Freelancers Alumni & Friends (I fit in the "Friends" category). I hadn't played a horn with any regularity since the summer of 2007, so it was interesting trying to ram the old chops back into shape. Fortunately it was all ballad-esque patriotic music for various 9/11 tributes, so the music wasn't that hard. And since I was playing 3rd part, it wasn't that high either.

But the two gigs we did over the weekend went...okay. Both were the kind of "hurry up and wait" situations where you get in position at the performance site and wait. And wait some more. And then finally bring the cold horn to your face and try to produce something resembling music for a couple of minutes. It's not that Idid terribly poorly...but we'll just say that it is easier I think if your chops are in good working order to start off playing out of the blue.

But if I continue to play throughout the fall, hopefully the chops will get a little more in check. We will see, we will see.

It's now Tuesday just before lunchtime at work. I'm really just waiting for it to be Friday, because on Friday I take off for an extended weekend at Disneyland. It's been a long time since I've been there after all, almost...4 months! Yikes. But it has been years since I've been there for Halloween time, so I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There Went Labor Day

Wow, it's amazing how fast that three-day weekend went by. Is time getting progressively faster?? I hope my self-imposed three day weekend in Disneyland laster this month doesn't go by nearly as fast!

But, the official end of summer has come and gone. I actually had a fairly active weekend, as weekends go. Did a 24 mile bike ride around the outskirts of Natomas and Rio Linda and around the Sacramento International airport on Saturday; that was a trip. Capped it off with a stopover at Yogurt Garden on the way home. Not sure why, but just about everything tastes far better after you've exhausted yourself out on something like a long bike ride.

If that wasn't enough, we did a 21 mile ride from our house to Old Sac and back on Monday, stopping for a bit to enjoy the Gold Rush Days. Which of course meant eating exceptionally unhealthy snack foods. But we also did the Underground Tour that the History Museum gives, which shows you some of the basements in old town that used to be the street level store fronts, before the floods of the 1850s forced the raising of the town by an average of 9 feet. It was quite an interesting tour, and worth the $15 price tag I think.

OUtside of that, spent time doing laundry and grocery shopping, and all of the other things I normally have to do on the weekend. And then - poof! - it was over. Now back to work.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week One = Done

Well, I'm not sure if I can go so far as to call it a 'hell' week, but the first week of school is done and in the books. As is normal, my days flew by with a constant stream of students and paperwork. Nothing but lockers and key issues and finishing up recital paperwork. Well, at least it makes the days fly by.

It's nice now to have a three day weekend to recuperate from the madness. And for once, I actually get to observe a three day weekend, as I have nothing pressing on my calendar for the next three days. So it will provide some time to catch up on some recorded TV programs, take some bike rides around town, and maybe do some organizing around the house.

I'm actually taking a grad class this fall, ethnomusicology. It's not a subject I normally study, but it's the only grad class offered outside of the Intro to Grad Studies course, which I've already taken. And at this point, I have one more class and my final project to do and that's it. So, I'll be taking this class as an elective. And thus should end my classroom career. At least from the student side anyway.

Next week, despite or perhaps because of it being a shorter week, will be a busy one. We start having concerts at school, and I've got rehearsal on Wednesday for a Friday gig with the Freelancers Alumni in a 9/11 ten year anniversary tribute. Still don't know much about the gig exactly, except that it's in Auburn and we're playing lots of ballad- and patriotic-type tunes. Should be interesting. It was nice to pick up a G soprano after so many years. So we'll see how it goes.

As for the fall semester, we're off and running, and we'll see how the ride goes...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Morning

Well here it is Saturday morning, just over a week left of the summer before school starts again. Once again time has just flown by. Why does it keep doing that? It had better stop before I get old....

We had a good July though as we took a 10-day cruise out of San Francisco to Alaska. We had never been on a cruise that long before. Quite a bumpy and windy ride going up the coast, but the destination was totally worth it. The scenery up there is completely amazing. We didn't end up seeing a whole ton of wildlife; mostly whales spouting at a far distance, sea otters and occasionally dolphins in the water. On land in ports we did see salmon jumping and bald eagles (up close even at the Raptor Center in Sitka). It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, despite the engine trouble that made us late into Victoria, Canada.

Now it's time to refocus on work and the fall semester. Well actually, I've been at work the last three weeks now trying to refocus on work. I'd like to report that I've made significant progress there. But I'd only partially be telling the truth. Really it's been a fairly slow and quiet rite of passage at work, awaiting the inevitable return of all those brats. I mean, the faculty and students...

But now it's time to have a somewhat relaxing weekend, the second to last before all hell breaks loose. Today is the Stockbridge annual picnic, so that will provide a chance to go bake in the sun and fatten up on food. Not that I need to fatten up though - the cruise put me up enough, and its going to take awhile to shed off all of that. Oh well, moving right along.

I am proud to report that the marching band music I've been arranging for the fall is all done. So, I have gotten something accomplished this August.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where Did June Go?

It seems like I just blinked my eyes for a second, and all of a sudden it was July. Can you remember a summer ever passing by so quickly as the first third of this one has done? Then I blinked again, and today it's July 7. One week into the month. I'm afraid to close my eyes again, for I might find it's the end of August already. Granted I would welcome cooler temperatures. This upper 90-low 100s that we've had the past week is not to my liking.

Anyway, things are moving along at work this summer, although the individual days seem to pass by slowly. Already we've replaced the lighting control system in the Recital Hall and gotten all new digital keyboards in the piano lab, and our rekey project has been approved and the details finalized. Just waiting for ordered hardware now. It might take awhile.

But this is the time of the summer where I generally start to check out. Most of the cleanup from the previous semester and resetting for the next semester is done, and I'm pretty much ready for vacation. Still have another week to go though, before taking just two weeks off and getting ready to embark on a 10-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. That should be a real treat. I might just have to take off more than two weeks though, just because. I am tired of seeing the inside of my office!

Still, so much to do this summer including finishing the season brochure and getting it to the printers and completing several composition projects (which probably should have been finished already...or at least substantially started!). Guess I'll take a lunch break now and then see what the afternoon has in store.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Disneyland!

So this week I took a trip to Disneyland; it had been five months since I last went, so I was starting to have withdrawals! Three nights in the Magic Kingdom is always a good way to celebrate the end of another semester at Sac State. This time I went on my own, as Whitney is still teaching through June 10. I've never done a trip on my own before, so it was a new experience, and certainly one I was slightly wary of.

But it turned out all right. My friends Mike and TC were down there already, by lucky coincidence, so I hung out with them from time to time. But mostly I ran on my own, which in some ways is nice. It's a bit of freedom to explore as you like. Turn left here, turn right there, go to this land or that land next. Whatever!

The park was of course happily found much the way I last left it. Well, sort of. The ongoing construction in DCA has grown somewhat, such that half of the park now seems to be behind a temporary wooden wall. Albeit a pretty, decorated wall with depictions of Disney characters and promotional drawings of what the park will look like - whenever they finish it. The big news is the new ride, Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Or I think that's what it's called. Anyway, it actually wasn't open quite yet, not to the general public anyway. Cast members and their friends and family has special passes which were allowing them to experience it already. But at least the construction walls are down from that area, and the new building housing the attraction is both massive and impressive.

They still have Aladdin at the Hyperion Theatre (I could have sworn that was being replaced...). I did go and see it, and was glad I did as I seemed to enjoy it more than ever. It helps that the Genie essentially does stand-up comedy improv every show, that makes it fresh and new every time. This time, we learned that Arnold Schwarzenegger is his father...

I got to see World of Color for only the second time ever - and I found that I enjoyed it even more than the first time. Good sign. This time, the Tron preview I saw before was gone of course, but a new sequence featuring then new Pirates 4 movie was in its place, and was quite spectacular. Can't wait to see this show again!

Disneyland was much less under construction; the biggest news here was the impending opening of the brand new Star Tours attraction. This week it was open to Annual Passholders who were fortunate enough to win some sort of lottery online. This didn't include me. but, I did have a lot of fun exploring my old favorites and even managed to catch both the fireworks and Fantasmic the first night I arrived (they're still on off-season hours so these run only on weekends at the moment). I got to see Billy Hill unplugged and up close and personal, as the Golden Horseshoe is being renovated so they are playing out in the streets in Critter Country. As I almost got run over actually, as I happened to be right in their entrance line as they came out and the bass player jokingly steered right for me as I tried to scamper out of their way. It was a great show from them as usual, despite having no sound and no fiddles.

But all great trips have to end, and on Wednesday I grudgingly left for home. It won't be the last time I go, as I did buy an annual pass again - and I'm already looking at going twice more before this year is out! Now, onto the summer...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Semester Done

Well here we are on Tuesday of finals week, a cacophony of recorders tooting in the hallways in anticipation of their Music 8 final. Boy that gets annoying real quick. But the semester is finally finished, all of our concerts are done and gone. It's been a pretty busy semester, especially the last few weeks where we had 10-12 concerts per week. Next semester is looking to be a little lighter, fortunately, but of course there's still time for folks to sign up for recitals, so you never know.

I played the Sac State musical this spring, playing on bass for The Wiz. I was really concerned about my wrist, after Rent destroyed it last September. The doctor, incidentally, essentially told me I was getting older and needed to exercise it our and take ibuprofen. Ha! Well although my wrist was hurting throughout this run, with several high doses of drugs I was able to push through. It wasn't as bad as it was in Rent, but even now after 4 weeks have passed I still get jolts of pain sometimes when I turn my wrist a certain way.

So, it may be very well that I have to retire from playing. It seems pretty clear that my wrist just isn't up to doing heavy playing anymore, and certainly not as infrequently as I tend to play. Xrays revealed nothing particularly wrong, so it may be time to hang it up and move on to other things.

On another note, I did finally get a new composition work finished, a trio for oboe, clarinet and viola. The first movement was premiered at the end of April and went pretty well. The full three movements should be premiered in December. Now that this semester is done I can relax from the musical journal and musicology readings I had been doing for my grad class, and focus on reading through the entire Harry Potter series as I ride the bus to and from work.

We'll see what this summer has in store, but as of right now I have a Disneyland trip planned for next week, a 10-day cruise to Alaska in July, and somewhere in there I need to start working on my final project work again, my symphony, so it can be performed next spring. In the fall I'll have one elective class, and then with my final project I should have finally earned the Masters degree that I began slowly working on in 2007. So bring it on, summer of 2011! I'm ready...

Huh, it looks like it's going to rain outside. Are we sure it's the end of May??

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Months Later

Been awhile since I updated my blog! It's spring break week here for Sac State. Unfortunately not spring break for anyone else; everyone else seems to still have their spring break attached to Easter, which is a month away.

So I'm chilling at home, working on the third and last movement of my Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Viola, and doing some light practicing on string bass (playing Urinetown, subbing for my brother on Friday and Saturday). I never practice bass, that's the weird thing. But sometimes you just get in a mood, and if you have a free day at home anything can happen.

It's storming outside, huge wind gusts and pelting rain beating down on the world. Kind of soothing I think, to sit inside and watch it going on.

So what else is going on? Well we're gearing up for the busy part of the semester at Sac State, where we have anywhere from 7-10 concerts per week. I'm also going to be playing electric bass for The Wiz at Sac State in April. Should probably practice a bit on that too...my left wrist hasn't been the same since Rent last September! It still hurts slightly when I play string bass; I noticed that when I read down the dress rehearsal for Urinetown earlier this month. Maybe playing just isn't meant to be my thing anymore...

And oh - I haven't been to Disneyland since December! I'm starting to have withdrawals already....But, we are planning a summer 10-day cruise to Alaska, round trip from San Francisco. That should be a blast!

So, life goes on...maybe it's time for a break. That 70's Show just came on TV...cocoa, anyone??

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Day Back

Well today is the first day of the new semester. It's been business as usual, more or less, for the first day. Lots of students coming back, having forgotten their locker combos, needing a reminder, needing new lockers; the usual mundane tasks of the first week of school.

This day has been slower than usual though - it seems the economy is finally starting to catch up on us. I've never seen such an empty class schedule in our building. Someone came by to find a room for a rehearsal from 10-11:30am. A few semesters ago we would have been lucky to find a couple of options, but today there were 6 different rooms open at that time.

Yes, as more people graduate and enrollment restrictions keep our new student numbers low, we will continue to see a decrease in the activities around here. They're projecting another bad budget cut for the next academic year, and I wouldn't be surprised if the union starts talking about furloughs again.

In the meantime, the number of concerts is still pretty high as the students we still have are trying their best to get out of here before the fees get raised another 10% or 15%. Can't say I blame them. I guess the good old days of having tons of activity and a never ending flow of classes and people through the building are gone, at least for now. We'll see how long we're able to maintain a full complement of ensembles, at least with a comparable quality level anyway. More and more folks will probably be brought up from the junior colleges to sit in and fill holes.

It's just after 4pm on Monday, and it feels not too unlike a Friday around here...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Holy Crap It's Cold

Well, I've gotten back into taking the bus to work, after a couple of months of straight driving back and forth. I estimate that is saves, round trip, about $4.50 in gas per day, and since as a Sac State employee it only costs $20 for a six month bus pass, it is financially in my favor to do so.

Picked a bad time to start though, as it's cold and dark in the mornings when I have to leave for the stop. This morning it was 27 degrees! (That's almost -3 in Celsius....brrr!). Holy crap that's cold. So yes, the first hour at work is spent defrosting. Which is okay I suppose, since no one else is here anyway. January is such a nice quiet time!

We're already 10 days into the new year and time seems to be flying by fast. What will the new year hold? Hard to say at this point. 2010 was such a whirlwind of Disneyland and weddings and musicals and composition and so much more that I can't even remember right now because my brain hasn't entirely thawed out.

2011 will present a big vacation trip in June...though I'm not sure exactly where at this point. Could be a Disneyworld trip, or a cruise to Alaska, or a trip to Hawaii. Guess it will be time to start looking for bargains soon....I'm guessing there won't be as much Disneyland as in previous years, since we did not renew our passes in December. Though I am currently slated to go for a few days in March over our spring break, so maybe I'll get a new pass after all...

Well, time will tell. Guess it's time now to actually get some work done and leave the dreaming for later.