Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012: The Changes Continue

Whoops.  It has already been more than a month since my last post here.  It is often said that time flies like the wind, but in the case of the Winds of Change, a lot more tends to fly than time.  Sometimes those changes fly in the face of logic.  Sometimes the wind just picks you up and drops you on the side of your path, leaving you wondering how you're going to get back on it again...or if it's even worth trying.

Toward the end of last month, the music club of Ye Olde Academy held its annual Big Regular Concert (slightly off-key fanfare).  As always, the program opened with the Flying Eggheads Jazz Band, with me directing.  I got into it far more than normal, even going so far as to dress up in a pseudo-Blues Brothers costume and act like I was a private eye or spy.  When it was all done, I closed our set by shouting a hearty, "Sayonara," to the audience.

What they didn't realize was that I'd meant it.  I was seriously considering the possibility that it would be my last performance with Ye Olde Academy.  There was a very real chance that I would be making my final exit in an attempt to preserve at least some tiny shred of my dignity.

You see, I'd just been informed of my job postings for the new school year, and it had been a shock.  I'd been warned in advance that the grade 9 oral communication class I'd been in charge of for 15 years would be disappearing, having been labeled inconvenient to the new curriculum.  I hadn't been warned that just about everything I'd done at that school was going into the bin, either discontinued or turned over to a different teacher, all without one word of explanation.  I certainly hadn't been aware of any problems; it seemed my life's work (so to speak) was being dumped simply for the sake of change (i.e. fixing things that weren't broken).  On the other hand, my new job postings ranged from new territory I had expected to things that didn't really make sense to me.  From what I could see, it was either simply change for its own sake, or I was being grievously insulted...maybe even having my reputation and any sort of legacy at the school shot to pieces.  There were other curious developments (I won't explain here) that made me wonder if perhaps they were preparing to do away with me completely.  Again, I had to wonder if simply calling it quits would be the best way to maintain even a little bit of pride.

In the end, I decided to stick with it.  So far things are strange, but not nearly as bad as I'd feared.  I'm still not sure how I feel about a few things, but I'm going to rise to the challenge and see things through.

Some other items of news:
  • Now BOTH of my kids are students at Ye Olde Academy.  My son is in grade 7 (1st year junior high), and my daughter is in grade 10 (1st year senior high).  To make matters worse, BOTH have joined the music club.  That's interesting(?) enough as it is.  The fact that I'm driving them both to school also means that I have few mornings when I can sleep in.
  • In order to help with transportation of the kids to and from school, my wife asked to be transferred to an elementary school near the Academy.  Instead, they put her in a junior high school.  That means she has to leave earlier than I do and invariably comes home later, making matters worse instead of better.
  • Mao 16th birthday-5
  • My daughter chose bass as her instrument.  So, when her 16th birthday came up, I gave her a bass.  It's one of those crazily cheap Playtechs sold by Soundhouse (apparently as their own house brand), but it's surprisingly good.  Looking at it and holding it, it's easy to see where it differs from a more expensive model, but it certainly doesn't play or sound like a cheapie!  I just might borrow it myself!
  • My new Sterling Ray35 bass
  • Then again, since I got one decent bass at a crazily cheap price, I decided to go nuts and get a new one for myself, this one being a Sterling Ray 35 5-string bass from Music Man.  It's the economy version of the Music Man Stingray, but it's still very good.  I can't wait to put it through its paces!
I'll try to post another update sometime sooner than a month from now...


  • Nice looking guitars - when I think about the horrible bass I had to learn on (and paid over £100 for in the 1970s) and then see what you can get for around £150 now it is crazy!

    I just treated myself to an 8 string bass (tuned with pairs of strings an octave apart). Love it. Hoping to post a video at the weekend, if you want to see it.

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 6:27 PM  

  • Rock Chef
    Seriously. It used to be that cheap instruments were hardly worth picking up. They've come a long way in quality.

    Those Playtechs in particular really amaze me. They offer different price levels with corresponding levels of quality. The cheapest Fender Jazz type bass they offered cost around 7000 yen (about $80 at the current exchange rate), but since it had weaker pickups and was made entirely of "white wood" (i.e. scrap and/or plywood), I got one of the next level up. My daughter's cost around 10,000 yen (about $120) and has an alder body. Its pickups probably still don't quite the oomph of a genuine Fender Jazz, but it has the sound and the feel. There was also yet another level up, costing around 23,000 yen (still less than $300) and of even better construction, but I figured that could wait till my daughter learned to play a bit more.

    Still, I've seen YouTube demos and read reviews of the cheapest Soundtech guitars, e.g. $60 Telecaster copies and $80 Les Pauls, and people are usually surprised at how good they are. You can tell they're cheap by looking at them, and they don't have much power in their pickups, but for practicing, home recording, or doing pub gigs they're quite reasonable. Pair them with a Bugera amp and a set of Behringer or Danelectro effect pedals, and you have a fine budget gear set!

    Tell you what, if you post a video of your 8-string bass, I'll post a video of my Earthquaker Devices Organizer. :)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:19 AM  

  • Sixteen already? How time flies! More so for Dad eh? Happy Birthday to the lovely Birthday girl.

    I hear a father/daughter duet coming....

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 8:09 PM  

  • Oh dear, I hope things have improved somewhat in school.

    Your daughter is so kawaii - a pretty rockstar in the making!?

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 3:22 PM  

  • I really salute you and folks who are musically inclined... give me another 100 years and I'd still be clueless with what a C or a G is all about...

    By Blogger Lrong, at 10:26 AM  

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