I am writing out this little explanation only because this is one of the most asked questions I get from friends, students, band directors and other designers, and mostly because it is a question brought up several times a year. Rather than taking the time to explain, I usually just shrug it off and don't consider it an issue. But since it was recently brought up in a discussion with a good friend of mine and fellow drill designer, I felt the need to finally explain myself as I am getting a bit annoyed with the numerous accusations I get for allegedly copying Greg Poklacki's designs that he wrote for Spring HS in 1993 and The Cavaliers in 1995 - that being the famous "DNA" helix drill move.
I won't deny that several drill moves I have incorporated into some of my shows are inspired by other designers' work and even some that are right out of some drum corps shows. All I can say is that it mostly comes from what was asked of me by the people who hired me and I always do my best to modify it the best I can to prevent it from looking like an exact duplicate of the original. I am not at all comfortable copying drill moves as it is unethical and disrespectful to my fellow colleagues and designers. Many times I was able to create something equally effective and unique and I am very happy with most everything I have designed.
I have been able to take the time to study what other designers have done in the past and take that "idea" and make it into something of my own. In a way, that's what we all do. Not that we look to other designers for ideas because we're not creative enough… rather the little things, like finding a drill move/motion in the way the lights are spinning on the ceiling at some church event you are at or looking through a kaleidoscope and seeing drill in the images as they spin. Those are only a couple examples of what I have experienced at times. When it comes to seeing another band or corps or indoor group perform, I see little things in the motions and movements that can spark another idea that turns into something I write in a future show.
Along with drill moves such as the "Cross to Cross", the "Diamond Cutter" and the "Crab Wedge", one of the most admired and talked about drill moves from the 1990's is the "DNA Helix" that was written by Greg Poklacki and performed by The Cavaliers in their 1995 "Planets" show. I remember seeing this as a young 18-year-old thinking that was one of the coolest drill moves I've ever seen. At that point in my life, I could never even imagine I would be writing drill someday… nor even going to school for music. At that time, I was on a course to major in art and become some sort of commercial artist or architect.
When I began writing drill, it was because I had a passion for art and music and my goal was to create unique, creative and fun shows for marching bands, with great staging, complex drill moves and something that expresses myself as a musician and artist. I love what I do and I try my best each year, and with each drill move in each show, to get better and find new interesting ideas for the designs I create. It's not always easy, but I believe that the same applies for all of us in the business.
That being said, the one thing that has been brought up a lot over the past 3 years is me being accused of copying Greg's design of the DNA drill move in the 2006 show I wrote for Pasadena Memorial high school and then later for the Dutch Fork high school band in 2007. Although the drill moves may look similar to most, I can assure you all that for one - I did it all on my own. Two - I never once studied Greg's DNA helix design as I wrote it. Three - if you take the time to really compare them, which is something I only did after the fact, you would see that although they look similar based on motion, the shapes and "3D" effect in the animation are completely different - and that said "3D effect" or "screw-like motion" is what I was going for the whole time with the design. Maybe I see it differently because I spent so many hours working on it and I don't have a very fresh perspective. That could then just be something I can't do anything about. :
Lets talk about how this all came about in the first place. The show that was chosen by the PMHS directors is an original show by John M. Meehan and it is called "The Hypar Effect". It is a three-movement show and those movements are titled 1-Dome. 2-Sphere. 3-Helicoid.
At the first design meeting we had at TMEA in 2006, we went through the show, movement by movement, and talked about the sections we wanted visual emphasis on… and others that were music emphasis. Your typical break downs. We didn't want to break it down too much too early, so it was just a lot of throwing anything on the table that sounded cool.
When discussing the closer, the assistant director mentioned to me that he thought it would be cool to have some sort of "rotating helix or screw" move to represent the Helicoid, which is what the tune is titled. I asked him, "what is a Helicoid?" He kinda looked at the head director and smiled, laughed a little and looked back at me, almost as if he wasn't sure how to explain it, and said it has something to do with a mathematical equation and when animated it somewhat resembles an Archimedes' screw - or as he put it, like a "DNA" strand. Although I knew what he meant by DNA, I didn't really picture The Cavaliers 1995 show drill... but I did want to see what the heck it was, just to be sure. That's why I'm thankful we have Google!
When I got home and looked it up, I found the Wikipedia page about the Helicoid, and that actually linked to the Wikipedia article on the Archimedes' screw. Both pages I found to be somewhat complex to understand in the matter of trying to figure out how to create a drill move out of it. (I don't remember for sure if it was Wikipedia I got all my info from at the time, but looking at it now, it is all basically the exact same information and diagrams).
Finally, I found this video - which I think is the best visual representation of the Helicoid animated in 3D form.
After studying several videos of animating Archimedes' screws and a few helicoid videos - mostly the one posted here from the 0:53-1:08 mark - I then went into Pyware and gave it a whirl.
I was working with Mitch Rogers at the time and I would send him drill files of me attempting to make this work - mostly unsuccessfully at the start. I went through about 100 different versions of this from March through May that had my head spinning off my body - literally. But when I finally got the motion to work, I had originally figured it out set horizontally, or parallel to the sidelines. My plan was to flip it straight up-n-down vertically on the 50. I knew it looked a bit funny set horizontal, but it just worked better to write it that way initially so I could get the paths correct.
The only issue I ran into when trying to do the final draft was that I needed to figure out where to put it in the drill and how to get in and out of it without killing any of the band members. The first "final" draft I completed of the move was before I even wrote a page of the opener. And since I knew this would go in the closer, I had plenty of time to figure that out.
Setting that Helicoid draft aside, I began writing the drill for the band in early May. A few weeks later I got to the closer and spent maybe 3 days debating on the placement of the drill. I was at a complete loss because there wasn't enough time in the drum solo to have the drill go through enough cycles/counts to be effective. And if I were to place it at a point where they are playing, I'd have ensemble issues all over the place because the Helicoid went sideline to sideline as originally written.
I then talked to Mitch and we decided it would be best to set it on an angle and have them march it during a part of the show they are playing. The placement of it, I believe, couldn't have been more perfect. I was more confident than Mitch that it would be executable while playing. I completely understand the concern, but I knew the band well and those who were teaching over there, and knew that so long as they stuck to the coordinate system, worked on each of the 4-count moves and didn't blow through it, it would be achievable. I even went out to spend some time working with them, and I think that helped out some.
After it was all said and done, I can say with confidence that I am extremely happy for what I was able to accomplish with that drill and none of it came from any kind of copying or studying of Greg's drill, although I am constantly accused of doing so. There's really not much more I can say except that it wasn't until about a year after I wrote that drill that I actually went back and compared it to Greg's DNA drill move. I only did that because I was asked by the director at Dutch Fork HS if I would touch-up that drill and fit it to their numbers, which were actually very similar. He said something along the lines of "I see you put the Cavaliers DNA move in the show…" or something to that effect. I don't remember the exact way he worded it, but he did say DNA and Cavaliers, as if I stole that move, or even the idea, and put it in the show for my own pleasure.
Well, it should be evident that although these drill moves look very similar, I put a lot of effort into the studying of the Archimedes' screw and 3D rendering of the Helicoid equation and many, many hours of trial and error on Pyware coming up with what I believe is the best representation of the Helicoid in marching band form.
The "DNA" and "Helicoid" are very different drill moves and I hope that everyone understands that. I do see that the paths for those marching look similar, but the effect I was going for was the "turning screw" and I believe I pulled it off quite well. It is also just one of those cases, like in composing or movie making, it's almost impossible to do anything original now a days without comparing it to something that has already been done in the past. Yes, designers are coming up with new a innovative ideas every year - but as for me and being only in my 5th year as a designer in 2006, I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish with that design and there's nothing that anyone can say that will take away from that.
Greg's DNA drill:
My Helicoid drill:
I never intended it to be a copy nor do I feel I copied any of Greg's drill. I hold Greg in very high regard for what he has done as a designer for this activity and he is one of the many designers who has inspired me for many years. I've learned a lot by studying what has all been done by designers all over the world, and for those who know me best know that I am always trying to do something different and something that I believe has never been done - perhaps looking for something to define me as a designer without going about it in any selfish way.
After the completion of the 2006 drill for Pasadena Memorial HS, I felt I had found it with that Helicoid drill move, only to have those dreams shot down year after year with the massive number of emails and comments I receive accusing me of copying the "DNA" drill, even from Greg himself - though his e-mail was extremely kind and complimentary, he commended me on the job I did and even complimented me on "improving" the original design he wrote. I definitely appreciated the compliment, but I was not expecting that drill move to be directly compared to the "DNA" drill. I never once looked at or studied the DNA drill for reference and as I said before, although the motion is similar, they are very different drill moves. If you watch/study the motion of the Archimedes' Screw, along with the last part of the Helicoid video, hopefully you'll be able to see what I was trying to accomplish in the drill design.
I understand that maybe this whole post was pointless or might come across as me being overly defensive about a sensitive subject. It is just an unfortunate issue that has become more annoying to me than anything, where I feel I am almost burdened by this ONE drill move I did 4 years ago and am constantly being criticized by my friends and colleagues for plagiarizing, when in fact that was never my intentions, no matter how similar the designs are to each other.
I am not worried if my hard work on that drill goes unnoticed or unappreciated... but I hope that more people can understand that the "Helicoid" drill I wrote had a specific purpose and was intended on representing the title of the movement and the wishes of the directors at PMHS. I hope that doesn't sound like I'm saying "they told me to write it"... no no no... I had a lot of fun doing it and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I just don't want it to look the way everyone assumes it... they just see it in the show and without knowing the title of the tune or even what a Helicoid is, everyone jumps to the conclusion that it's "the Cavaliers DNA move" and assume I copied it just for the sake of doing it. That's just not the case.
I know there are several of you who have seen that drill move on my website and probably thought the same thing or something similar. I understand. Had it not been brought up yesterday when talking design with my friend, I wouldn't have thought of it in that way. It's cool...
Here I am at 7-ish in the morning... up all night working... again! I should just move to and live in Japan, since it's clear that after almost 14 months since returning from my last season with Aimachi that I can't get myself close to a sleep schedule that matches the rest of the time zone I'm in, or even the entire continent. I guess it doesn't matter... but it would be nice to say "good morning" at 7am rather than "good night". :)
I guess moving to Japan would require a lot of extras... like a job, so I can get a working visa, as well as a place to crash... I suppose it would be a bit of a hassle to make happen if I really wanted to do it. Or not? Who knows... I just think it would be fun. I was always on a "regular" schedule over there... but since I returned home I've just been lazy and unmotivated to make any adjustments. This reminds me...how am I gonna make it through the day on Thursday when my flight leaves here around 7am? Oh well...
So, who out there is an iPhone/iPod touch user? What about Android phones? If you can, do me a favor and visit my website on your phone:
Last February when I was at TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association), I was chillin' with my friend Drew and some of his friends at the Hooters on the Riverwalk and we were chillin' and having a beer or something. Something random caught my attention (besides our server) and that was the fact that of the 5 or 6 of us at the table, I was the only person without an iPhone. Soon thereafter, as I was wondering around the convention center, I noticed more and more band directors carrying iPhones around. Hell... EVERYONE had an iPhone! At the time, I didn't feel 'left out' or anything like that, but it was just a funny thing I noticed when I was there.
The next afternoon, I was hangin' out at the exhibits and wandering through the place and doin' what everyone does. I saw a band director there who I have known for a while and we chatted for about 20 minutes about life, this and that, whatever... He asked if I had a card or a website so he could stay in touch. I reached into my pocket and gave him one of my cards and he looked at it, said something like "oh you have a website... I'll have to check that out sometime when I get back home..."
And then... this little light bulb went off in my head. I'm here at a convention where 90% of the people I see have iPhones or something of the sort... wouldn't it be cool if I could create a mobile version of my website so they could look at it while they're walking around the convention center and not have to be on your computer at home or the hotel? hmm...
Now... lets get something straight. I already know I don't need this. I know that maybe 5 people will care if I have a mobile site. And maybe 4 of those people wouldn't visit it more than once or twice. It's not like my website is all that interesting or "fun" for anyone. It's not like a social networking site... it's just a condensed version of my site, giving whoever may be interested or able to, visit my site on their iPhone as they sit at Hooters, walk around the convention center... or possibly even as they chill at home on the couch. (who would do that though, really?) ;)
But why do this? Because I think it will actually be a useful and helpful way for me to expand my advertising. I do advertise with the normal routines - website, business cards, word of mouth, etc. But I thought, "what if I could get my site on the mobile web, especially since there's so much emphasis on web browsing on a phone these days?" Of course, you still have the anticipated iPad coming out in about 5 weeks.
I first created a website about 11 years ago, but I don't think anyone knew about it. Some did... and if you do, you probably remember that it was just what myspace/facebook started out as at first. No, I'm not saying that I could have invented facebook, but all my site consisted of what a page with a picture of me, little bio, little list of "favorite" things... and a few photo albums. I did it just to kinda be a huge nerd and have a website just to have a website. I didn't have anything to advertise or promote... but I just did it for fun.
It was around the fall of 2005 when I was in my first full season in TX and was attending school at UH. I was talking to some of my classmates and friends, and someone asked me if I had a website to advertise what I do. I just rolled my eyes, laughed and said something like "no way... I don't need a website." Mostly referring to the fact that I have a job that requires more than just a website to get gigs. But later that day, I was online at the library computer lab and I thought I'd do a search for drill designers on the web. I couldn't find any sites for the designers I know and am close with. I did manage to find a few designer's sites and looked through them to see what they were like. It was funny because I was looking for these sites as a designer myself, so I had no idea what I was looking for or what to expect.
I was honestly somewhat disappointed with just about every site I went to. Some of them had "samples" of their designs, but in the form of locked drill files you could download and open in Pyware, or PDF pages of maybe two or three sets from a show. As a designer, I try not to get that far into a director's head, but if I were a director looking for a designer, I would not know what to think after viewing sites like those. No disrespect meant to those designers... I'm sure that was probably all they were capable of doing at the time anyway. This was 2005 - obviously there have been leaps in technology since then. However, they may as well have had nothing on their site regarding samples of their work if that was all they had (in my opinion). That's just what how I felt at the time... and still somewhat today, but I do also understand that your work on the field, reputation and word of mouth are what gets you a job - not a flashy video on your website showing off what you did at the computer.
So, I contemplated this for several months... and during the spring of 2006 and as I was writing Pasadena Memorial's show, I had a bit of extra time at the computer and thought about starting a website. It wasn't really a spur of the moment thing. I just needed to find the right design software, a host that was affordable and just build it! I spent a great deal of time thinking back to when it was pointed out to me that having a website would be helpful. Looking at where we are in this day and age with so much of our lives involving a computers and the internet to communicate, I figured it would be more than worth it to give it a shot.
I'll spare you the details of all that has happened in between then and now, but 3 1/2 years after I started georgehester.com, I have literally been bombarded with e-mails or conversations about my website more than anything. I get e-mails from other designers either asking how I do the video embed, or just a little compliment on the site design. It's really a great feeling to be complimented for something like that, especially since I only did it because I wanted to try to stay ahead of the curve. And I am never offended if no-one compliments the drill I design. Some do, but it's no big deal if they don't.
But staying ahead of the curve is what I have been going for since I started my website. I may not have the "best" drill designer site out there... nor do I consider there to be any sort of competition for the best drill designer's website. But it definitely got many people's attention a couple years ago and I'm just glad that I took the opportunity to build a website for my "business" and put it out there on the world wide web!
I have actually been able to get jobs by way of people viewing my drill in video form either on my website or even YouTube. I would not say that I rely on my samples to get me work, but thankfully there are plenty of drill writers, designers and directors that can see those samples and see that I am good at what I do. I know I'm a decent visual designer and I'm very thankful for all who have taught or inspired me over the past 18 years since I started doing marching band.
I have taken great care in making sure that I built a site that is fast loading, easy to navigate through, has all of the information a director would want/need in the right places and gives people a way to view samples of my work. I didn't just build a site and publish it without talking to people first. I am very thankful to have so many friends who are band directors and designers, to go to for advice on how to create the best "drill designer" website I could. I would be somewhat subtle about it at first and only ask things like "what do you look for in any website you go to?" just being general about the whole thing. Then I'd be more straight to the point and ask "what if a drill designer had a site... what would you want to see on it?"
So many of those people talked about being able to see video samples of the drill, more than anything - preferably live performance high cam, if available. Many also wanted to see charts to look at staging... but also mentioned how that's kind of difficult without seeing it live and in person. I have tried to include as many live performance videos I can, but unfortunately have struggled just to get a copy from a director. I don't know if it's that they felt their band didn't do a good enough job and worried/embarrassed by their effort. I certainly hope that's not the case. These are just young adults/students performing. You can't criticize that! And it's in combination with art that I created. (along with other designers). This is all an "art" activity, in my mind, and to see it on the computer, to me, isn't art... it's almost no different than watching binary code float across the screen. But seeing the performances live (and in person) is something I get butterflies in my stomach for every single time. It's the only time the show comes to life and it's the "purpose" behind writing the show. I didn't write the shows just to look neat on the computer. I wrote them for the students and the live performance of the art form.
So yeah... that was me sorta venting due to the fact that through 8 seasons of writing drill and over 60 shows designed, after asking every single director for a video of the shows I wrote I've only received about a dozen actual videos and maybe a dozen more that popped up on YouTube. The rest are kinda just out there somewhere on some band director's bookshelf. : Sorry, but I think that sending the designer a video of the band performing should be mandatory. And no, I'm not going to take some people's advice and put a note in my contract that says "I require a video of the performance at the end of the season". That's just dumb, in my opinion. That almost sounds like me saying "I require you march the drill you are paying me to write for your band". ;) haha! To me, it makes just as little sense to not send me a video as it would be to pay me to write the drill and not march the drill.
Anyway - back on topic... what were we talking about? Oh yeah, my website. :)
Keeping the site HTML based was a must. About two years ago, I got some e-books and read a bunch of websites and forums about Flash. I am definitely a fan of Flash sites and many of the cool animations they use... especially on the menus - sound effects too. love it! But when I looked at my website and what it was for, I didn't think twice - my site would never be Flash-based. Why? Because it doesn't need to be. It needs to be fast loading, easy to navigate through and has what people want and need to see. More and more people are "converting" to Flash websites and it's actually, in my personal opinion, making it limiting for people who visit those sites. Flash is slow and many computers (especially school computers) block Flash. Although my video samples on my website are in fact Flash (.flv) videos, they are still fast loading and as far as I know, work on every system without problems.
I focus the majority of the time spent on my website working on the presentation and layout to appeal most to those who I want to visit the site rather than for me. Personally, I'd wanna add a lot more... a bunch of cool Flash animations, revolving door/reveal windows when you roll over images. Heck, I've got one seriously awesome website in my head that I would love to design, but I don't have the time or need for it. But that's just a "me" thing, and maybe I'll do it someday, if the timing is right and I actually sit down and figure out how to actually create it all. :) But what's there now is for you guys and from the feedback I get, it's made most everyone happy. (Not everyone likes my drill or wants to hire me, but that's ok... it's just art and business...)
Which then brings me to the whole iPhone/Android mobile site topic. I am not an iPhone user. I used to want to be one, but I am now the proud owner of the Motorola Droid and still with Verizon. I couldn't be happier with the phone and it's the best phone I've have to date. I can talk more about the phone, but I'll save that for another blog. :) And I have been a 1st generation iPod Touch user since the day they were released (literally) back in October of 2007. My iPod Touch is my all-time favorite gadget and I would usually leave the apartment with just my iPod and computer, leaving my cell phone at home. (no-one calls me anyway- except when I'm working). Anyway... I randomly visited my website on the iPod just to see how it worked, and it was kinda neat. My site looked good and had all the stuff it needed..... except... the videos didn't work. : Hmm... That's not cool. It was at that time I realized that the iPods/iPhones couldn't run Flash. Although Adobe is supposed to be coming out with Flash 10.1 this year and enable Flash for mobile devices, at that time I was just kinda bummed that it didn't work. I figured that after some time that Flash would soon be available for the iPhones and it wouldn't be a big deal. iPhones were made to be able to browse the web just fine and all that... but with there being so much detail and complexity in it the way it was then, a mobile site just seemed necessary. (then again, I never really cared if I could view my site on my iPod Touch).
So, about 15 months go by and we're at TMEA in 2009 - the time I was talking about earlier. And noticing how many people I interacted with were on these touch-screen mobile devices. After following Apple a bit more during that time, and also converting to a Macbook as my primary computer (loving it, by the way), I ultimately decided that since reading Flash isn't really something Apple wants to implement in their products, why not work around it? :) So, last February, I created a quasi mobile site just for iPhone users, and it had video samples in a format that was readable on the iPhone. I didn't tell that many people about it... I just did it to do it. :)
But things are a tad different a year later. Not so much with evolutions in technology, but with the introduction of the iPad... me getting an Android mobile phone that can't play flash videos either, nor the formatted videos for the iPhone site. Only YouTube (for now). I know that the iPad attracted many people that are in the music and marching business and I also know that, just like the iPhone and iPod Touch, Flash on it will be limited.
So... I went ahead and did a quick redesign of my mobile site in anticipation for TMEA, and also to have something that will work on an iPad when everyone goes to pick one up in a couple months. Also, it is optimized for Android phones too, giving multiple options of video samples according to which device is being used. It won't work on ALL mobile phones... but more than likely any touch-enabled mobile device.
The funniest part about doing this is that I did it in about 4 hours a couple nights ago. I was in need of a break from work and shoulda gotten up and done something else... but I was looking at my calendar and thinking about TMEA... and it reminded me about the mobile site I developed last year. I knew it was kinda simple and cheap. But like I said earlier, I like to stay ahead of the curve. I may or may not be the only drill designer out there with a mobile site and many people might think "That's because it's dumb and no-one cares if you have a mobile site." Well, I'll give that about 6 months and we'll see. When I first did this last year, one friend actually told me they thought it was a waste to do the mobile site. I didn't disagree or argue with them, and I could see what they meant at the time. But now, I think it's almost a must. Many will disagree with these statements, but I think that the way technology is going and the direction of the tablet computers coming out and iPhones/Android phones being such a hot item now a days, and a device that many people can't put down for two seconds, I think it's almost a given that I should create a site specifically for those devices.
It's no big deal... just a few hours on photoshop and encoding some videos... I also had to add just a bit of code to my homepage for the mobile device detection and auto-redirect... piece o' cake!
Well... I guess that's about all I have right now. Again, if you are using iPhone/iPod Touch or one of the cool new Android phones, please test out my site and let me know what you think. I don't really need the feedback, but if something doesn't work or doesn't work right, it'd be good to know. cool? word!
Okay... time for bed... at 8:50Am. hooray! :P
P.S. - A screen capture of the mobile site, for those who might be interested.
So, I'm officially booked for the convention and for the first time in about 5 years, I'm completely stress-free about the trip.
For the past few years, I was either working a booth or under pressure to find a ride, worried about my car surviving the trip, trying to figure out where I'm staying or who to stay with, figuring out how much I need to pay whoever for the hotel stay, etc. Too many things to list, but none of that is the case this year. I am sure something weird will come up on the trip anyway, but the important thing is that 90% of the issues I've had to deal with in the past aren't an issue this year. The fun part is finding out what issues I will run into later though.
I decided to book a room at the Marriott Rivercenter, which is about 20
yards feet from the convention. After my experience at BOA in 2004 and booking a room at the Hyatt Regency? (attached to the RCA dome), nothing really beats the convenience of staying in a hotel right next to where you are going. And I'm not talking a block or two away... but right there!
When I went to BOA in 2003, I booked a room at the La Quinta? located just outside of Indianapolis, and I rented a car to drive back and forth to the stadium and back to the airport. The rental, plus the hotel with gas, parking fees (which were outrageous!), insurance and taxes totalled close to $210/day. I weighed the differences in 2004 and ultimately decided on the more expensive hotel room, at whatever rate it was per night which was close to $180/night. Yeah, sounds like a LOT for a night in a hotel - but not having to pay for the rental, gas, insurance and parking fees... I ended up saving money on the trip. Yet, some of my friends had a hard time looking past the higher cost for the hotel room and questioned my judgment and financial planning for that trip. Trust me - I'm good at math and I saved a bit of money that way.
So, I chose to do something like that this year. I'm not really all about spoiling myself every time I go on a trip like this, but it was called for on this occasion. I crunched the numbers, compared all different options on the expenses and made sure it was worth it before booking. I put into consideration all of the past experiences I've had going to San Antonio for TMEA/TBA, the parking which is ALWAYS an issue and the costs to take a taxi, rental car and all that good stuff before making this decision. The higher cost of the hotel for a couple nights will actually work out to be a bit cheaper than had I stayed at some cheaper hotel outside the Riverwalk area, rented a car and drove into town, paid for parking (even at the hotel, which is like $30/day at some places) and had to worry about making sure I fill up the tank. Screw that. I have more important things to spend my time thinking about - like seeing my friends and colleagues at the convention, meeting some directors and hopefully getting a few new clients and making new friends in the process.
I'm really excited about the trip... and even more excited to see a lot of my Texas friends, who I haven't seen in far too long.
On a separate note - I bought a new mouse!
I got the MX Performance mouse, by Logitech. A much better mouse than my previous MX Revolution, however not as many customizable buttons. I got a mean sale on it and paid less than expected, but it's the new hottness out there and I got a great deal. So far it fits very well in my hand, tracking is smooth and I haven't had any issues with getting used to the feel and functionality of it with my programs. Pyware is a completely different story though. I have to modify a LOT of what I became accustomed to over the past 3 years but it shouldn't set me back at all. Just a few adjustments here and there and all will be set for the spring and summer of writing.
I'm working a lot today... back and forth with drill and website layouts and design. I guess it's all the same ol' same ol, huh?
Not much time for a real blog. I have a lot I'd like to write about but it'll have to wait until I actually have time free. Or I need to make time. I'll do my best to blog more often. Mostly for me because I think I need it.
I'm also going to be looking at a few other themes for wordpress. my current "green" theme is ok, I guess... maybe I'll make my own theme with what I want in it.
...another list of resolutions.
This is just a simple blog about my three resolutions for a better and healthier life.
First and foremost, I have done this a few times in the past, but I still think the whole idea is somewhat odd considering much of what I decide to do is actually something I can/should do anyway, anytime of the year. But I guess we all do it right at the turn of the new year because it's a hot topic and everyone's doing it anyway.
I decided not to make any resolutions the past couple years but it didn't really help or hurt me. I've eaten a bit less healthy and procrastinated some with things that were important at the time. Nothing major, though... just things like getting my car fixed (which I never did but instead bought a new TV and couch set) and would have rather played call of duty 4 than hang out with friends. But when it comes to the video games, that's becoming more common than I would have ever expected.
It's kinda funny hearing my friends (who are my age) talk about getting a Wii or a PS3 for Christmas and how they're enjoying it immensely. I don't know what it is, but video games of today are definitely attracting more "adults" than when I was younger. I mean, I never saw my parents play video games, but with game franchises like the Wii Sports, LEGO franchise and Guitar Hero and Rock Band games - those are pretty much guaranteed fun for ANY age. I can't believe how fun and enjoyable Guitar Hero is for me. I played video games as a kid, but not for hours and hours like this. It's true that I do have much more time than when I was younger, but it's genuine enjoyment - not necessarily a gaming addiction, which I know some people have.
So, I'll start with my first resolution:
1) Play less games and spend more time with friends.
This is important for me because I literally lived in a cave the past 18+ months when I was in Houston. I busted my tail on drill for the past couple years and did a lot of extra "hobby" work on the side with my own website and little Pyware things for people - none of which were a problem or really that much work for me... just filling in gaps when I was able to. But the rest of the time, literally on my ass in front of my new TV and playing games until I couldn't keep my eyes open any more. I know I was good about playing games only when I didn't have work to do - but I treated it as if I was being rewarded for my efforts and made the most of it.
You could say that for yourself or most other people too, right? Well, I guess the only difference for me was the fact that I would get up from my desk, walk to the kitchen and get food, turn on the PS3 and play until I was too tired, fall asleep on my couch, wake up and go back to my desk and work.
That cycle would repeat on a regular basis, with the exception of a few trips to starbucks. But even while I was at starbucks, I was working. Somehow I seemed to convince myself that I needed to be doing something during every moment I was awake. If it's not writing drill at my computer, I'm on the PS3. If not the PS3, it's my ipod touch and playing with games/apps. If not the ipod touch, it's web design/photoshop ideas. If not web design, it's more drill writing but experimental ideas using old shows I've written. If not any of those things, then I'm sleeping because it's the end of the day.
I think there has to be some time in there where I'm doing absolutely nothing, and I know it would be healthier for me to make room for more mental breaks so I can recharge more regularly.
I ran into a situation in 2008 where I literally fell into a writer's block funk that seemed to last an eternity, and I believe it was because I didn't give myself enough breaks. I'm not talking about breaks from writing drill, but giving my brain a rest from doing anything.
Doc B would remind me to take power naps... and to do so without music/TV on in the background, which I admit is one of those things I usually do habitually - mostly my ipod and listening to my sports podcasts. But after maybe one time doing it, I would start taking "breaks" from work by turning on the PS3 and jamming away on guitar hero for about 45 minutes, rather than power nap. I suppose I wouldn't evenneed to do a power nap, but something away from work that isn't "work" for my brain. That would be a much healthier thing for me and I think will help prevent those issues from happening over again.
So, this isn't gonna be something where I have to put the system away in the closet and hide it from myself, but with my schedule the way it is and with all of the little projects I'm going to need to organize and arrange, I MUST take actual breaks from doing anything with my brain or I may have issues once again. (and this also means that I can't say I'm taking a "break" when I lay in bed and play Sudoku or solitaire for an hour on my ipod touch.)
Better health... better time management for work and video games.... better overall experience with everything. And even though I didn't mention it a whole lot - I need to see my friends. As I said, I lived a fairly closed-off life for way too long and thankfully I've been able to reconnect with many old friends from HS and college that are still around in MI and I look forward to seeing them and spending time catching up and spending time with them and in a galaxy far, far away from my damn computer and PS3.
In the summer of 2005, I had one of the coolest roommates on the planet - Andy R - and though our stint together as roomies only lasted a few months, the guy introduced me to his passion which is beer! I'm a beer guy, honestly, but I'm not really one to experiment or venture too far from the few I like. I like a good beer now and then and usually it's only during social events that I would have a couple.
That summer, Andy introduced me to the fantastic arrangement that St. Arnold's Brewery has on Saturday afternoons. We went several times, and I took some friends on a few weekends that Andy didn't go. Up to that point, I never really drank beer… nor do I have any issues with drinking. Nothing like that. I was never a guy to buy beer and keep it in my apt, except when there were social events. But during this time I lost track of how much beer I was drinking and it didn't become apparent until my clothes weren't fitting me for the first time… well, ever! Up to that point in my life, I grew, developed… but never had trouble fitting into my jeans. I didn't make a big deal about it though - it happens. But what was I going to do about it?
I talked with my girlfriend at the time about it and it was just a good idea to just give up beer. I ultimately decided that for my new years resolution 2006 to not drink ANY alcoholic beverages for the entire year. I know that there's not much weight gain with many liquors… I just don't do hard liquor or mixed drinks that often. I like a few, but meh… expensive and I'd rather spend that money on something I need. call me "no fun" if you wanna… that's just me.
I also gave up all caffeine drinks - so no Dr. Pepper and no coffee.
People would always ask if I got headaches from not having caffeine. ??? I don't know who made that up, but I don't get it. no headaches… in fact, never really craved much all year. except around christmas when I finally had a dr. pepper 6-pack in my fridge waiting for me to open on new years.
But going back, in the year 2006 I didn't drink an ounce of alcohol nor did I have any caffeinated beverage and by that alone, and not going to the gym more than maybe 4 times, I lost just over 20 lbs with a bit of running on my own, teaching band and some other outdoorsy activities that kept me moving around.
The past few years I haven't really done the beer thing that much or that often, but Ihave done a LOT of the starbucks, pepsi, dr. pepper and cherry coke zero thing. That is definitely something that needs to change, no matter what. Not just for the reason that I'm gaining a bit of extra weight, but because I'm getting older and after my most recent trip to the dentist, it's verrrrryyyyyy bad for my teeth! I like my teeth and so far we're ok. But it's time to start thinking more long term here.
So, my next resolution and possibly the one that will be the most difficult to control:
2) No alcoholic drinks. No soda drinks. No caffeinated drinks.
I was able to do it for the entire year of 2006, so I know I can do it again. It's no big deal anyway since I know it's better for me. It's better for anyone. We just all need to control how much we take in… I'm just gonna cut it off completely. But there will be only two things I will keep in my diet - my non-caffeinated drinks from starbucks and red wine. Only a glass of red every now and then with dinner or before bed will be my extent of alcohol and I think that's a fair compromise, considering I've been told that it's good for the heart to drink a glass of red every day. I don't think I'll have a glass every day, but that will be whatever it ends up being.
Finally, since we're on the subject of health and being somewhat picky about what to drink, it wouldn't work without watching the food I eat.
I didn't tell many people about this, but I voluntarily became a vegetarian starting around September 10th this past fall. Not sure why - figured it may be a good direction to go, health-wise. I was eating too much steak and grilling burgers a bit more often than I should have. Also, I perfected the right crispiness of bacon and with the right amount of chew… however that took way more attempts than it should have.
With the vegetarian diet, I did honestly feel a bit refreshed after about a month of doing it, but it wasn't really what I needed. I researched the whole idea of becoming a vegetarian starting back in 2007 while I was in Japan. Several people I met were vegetarians and they introduced me to all different kinds of food and recipes that were non-meat and non-fish that were absolutely delicious! I can't eat fish/seafood, so it it works either way.
The problem with this diet for me was that I started getting lazy with it. I stopped buying all the right groceries and I stopped caring about the proper portions. This resulted into many trips to IHOP, Panda Express or Subway and filling up on loads of "vegetarian" junk. I don't think Subway is that bad at all, but I can only do sandwiches so often, ya know.
The vegetarian diet is something that takes a LOT of discipline for someone converting. I learned that one pretty quickly. I didn't crave meat or wish I could have it. But what I lacked was discipline to always make sure I had the right ingredients or stocked up on the right portions. And when I got to a meal when I realized I didn't have what I needed, I went to starbucks and filled up on a couple pastries or went to IHOP and had their veggie omlette with hash browns and toast. Um… yeah, I guess that's still "vegetarian" but not really healthy.
And that brings me to my final resolution:
3) No fast food or filling up on pastries to replace meals.
Well, obviously eliminating the latter is a must. That was just me being stupid and lazy. I shouldn't have a problem getting rid of the "fast food" but I know there will be times I drive past sonic and wanna have their breakfast burrito. I just have to forget about that and move on. Just like eliminating the beer/soda from my diet helped in 2006, doing this will be a much healthier direction for me.
As far as the vegetarian thing, I'll just say this… I'm not going to do it anymore, but I will be eating healthier and making more of an effort to add some of the amazing veggie dishes to my diet. Along with this, I have decided that I will eliminate ALL fast food and not eat out at any of the normal places unless it's something that is actually healthy and isn't one of those "I shouldn't be eating this but I'm going to anyway" kinds of meals. No more guilt… No more fast food - period.
I think I have a very good plan in place from this past summer/fall with a mix of protein shakes and fruit smoothies, grains/breads, pastas and salads (and pasta salad.. mmmm), and the occasional rice and veggie stir fry dishes I have become very good at making, and I'll add some chicken and beef here and there where it fits. I'm sticking to a good 5 meals per day and going to be drinking more juices, more milk and more water.
So, that's my list of resolutions… but… there's one more thing I would like to add to this long note.
I prayed for a better year in 2009 because the year 2008 for me wasn't really one that I enjoyed. Although it ended VERY well, the first 3/4 of it was kind of blah. I was a new person after returning home from Japan in Dec '07 and kind of finding myself all over again. But 2008 never really got great for me until I stepped foot back into the dome house on October 7. The year 2009 started off very well and went quite well all the way up until November and I don't think there's really a whole lot I can say about that which hasn't been said already. So I'll just say this…
My list of resolutions on this note and what I do is a permanent list. Not just for 2010, but for as long as I am here. It's not like I'll miss out on anything or any "fun" because I won't have a beer when I go to watch the wings game at buffalo wild wings or anything like that. And if I ever get married - yeah, you can bet I will be drinking wine/champagne at my reception. But the overall impact these things will have on my life will be nothing but positive and as I stated in the beginning, it's all for a better and healthier life.
I could have added more to this list and say I'll go to the gym more often… which I should but honestly don't want to. I've been a paying member at Bally's since 2003, yet I haven't been there in a couple years… not since spring 2008. I will probably add that to the list, but I'm starting small and will add as time goes by. Another thing I need to add is doing a better job at rescheduling my dentist appointments. You don't even wanna know how long it was between my last 2 appointments. My dentist knew right away.
Well… That's a wrap!
Happy 2010 everyone.
We all gotta start somewhere.
My very first drill design... Livonia Franklin HS - 2002.
I'm here writing... and at 3:45 am because I basically have no choice. I'm a little angry... upset... aggravated... annoyed... pretty much all those things at once.
The past 5 hours have been a culmination of several incredibly stupid things on my part... and all revolving around drill design, of course. I'm tired now and pretty much over it... yet don't really feel like writing about the detail that surrounds my miserable night. But I'll at least vent for 2 minutes about this... BAKA!!
I'm in a position right now where I only have a few bands that have numbers for me. And when I get the bands numbers I write them down on a post it and stick it on the edge of my monitor. It's fairly simple and is only really needed when I start the drill. After I get it started, I take the post it off and chuck it... ironically so I don't get it confused with another band's numbers in the event I happen to look at the wrong one when entering the drill, which has never happened before... ...until tonight.
So... I have 3 bands I've started on... two are already about mid-way through the openers and one I just started today. I went to town composing a good 14 sets of some really good drill and all-in-all probably not the best writing I've ever done, but everything came together very smoothly and I worked through some troubles early on, jumped a few hurdles... ugh, it's not even worth explaining. You know where I'm going with this already.
So, it's not like it was even close. I used Stony Points numbers of 121 winds and numbered them as such to match that of the drill I was writing today, which is only 96 winds. It got confusing because SP's opener has 15 dancers, and this band has 15 guard... lined up the same that way, but how I confused the numbers?? I don't know. I even used SP's drumline numbers, which also aren't the same.
For 5 hours tonight... last night... who cares. I wrote great drill that all has to be redone now and I'm so tired and pissed that I can't even function. I know I just have to take note of what I did and try to modify it for the other numbers... but there were 3 moves in particular that I spent over an hour on to get a sequential scatter to happen just right and it took a lot out of me. It's like... I don't know if I wanna go through the trouble again and it might be best for me to start from scratch.
I don't know if that makes sense or anything... but right now I'm just hating this. I had a headache most of the day... pretty much blew off the morning/afternoon and slept because I was up all night working on sketches for this show and working on SP and Memorial.... and now it's almost 4am, I worked all day/night and didn't go outside to enjoy the weather once as I stayed here on my computer and f***ed up everything. How friggin' lame.
I need a day off... tomorrow... Wednesday... I just don't wanna work and I'm not gonna. I don't care.... and I don't think I'll get behind. I'll be fine. I just need this time off and away from writing so I can relax a bit and not let it get to me. There's no real harm or damage in all that happened, but it was that heart-wrenching moment when I realized my mistake and it pretty much deflated me mentally. I was pretty much in shock... staring at the computer for about 15 minutes without moving and just looked at the post-it... looked at the other one... shook my head a bunch of times... put my head down on my desk and just tried my best to figure out what to do next. So... that next thing was to come on here and write something.
The other few things I didn't mention were equally as retarded on my part which contributed to the cluster f*** that was this evening... like when I was in the middle of writing (on page 7, I think, but had written from 2 through 7 without saving...) Then I randomly needed a mental break, killed about 15 min on Facebook, went to a few other sites, checked out some sports stats, etc. Then my f***ing Windows Update thing popped up saying that updates were installed and I needed to reboot... I clicked on the "Restart Later" thing because I was working and didn't feel like rebooting yet.
It came and went so fast, and I'm used to it that I didn't think of it. I just continued searching online, looking up some hockey jerseys (because I wanna buy a new Red Wings one) and playing some more on Facebook. I don't know exactly how much time went by, but I got really thirsty and went downstairs to grab a snack.
I was gone maybe 5 minutes... and when I came back my computer was in the boot screen! It restarted ON ITS OWN... and I know why. I just... I just forgot. F@#$% Microsoft.... Seriously. Yeah, it's partially my fault because I knew that when you hit the "Restart Later" button that in like 10 minutes it'll go on it's own unless you abort. And I happen to be gone... and rather than Pyware backing up my file (which I have it set to do but didn't) it all closed... everything closed... and I lost the 4 or 5 pages I just wrote.
I sat there saying "There no way... no way the computer should have restarted. It should have held up waiting for me to confirm "save" for my work... I know it shouldn't have restarted without waiting for me".
What was done was done though. I re-did the pages... was already a little pissed, but those pages actually flew back on the screen a lot quicker and easier than originally... only set me back about 20 minutes, so my aggravation towards Windows Update was short lived. But alas... the drama was far from over.
Man... If I had my PS2 with me, I'd be taking it out on some Guitar Hero or some GTA. I actually lent it to my friends to enjoy while I keep myself busy with work. Outta sight, outta mind, right? Well... it has been working and has been nice to have it out of my way for the time being... but days like today (which rarely happen... or ever in this exact case) are days I really could use it.
I've got so much more I'd like to ramble about but I just can't... I don't feel like being "fun" right now or anything other than drill because I just can't get it out of my head. I need to get away from the computer for a day or so. Probably gonna just shut 'er off and not come around tomorrow... unless I get the bug to get going again. That happens sometimes. I get restless and literally have to work or I get uncomfortable.
Anyway... I guess that's enough. Sorry for being so down and boring.
But on a lighter note, being that it's still Tuesday in my mind, I just wanna give a shout out to Cathy and wish her a happy birthday!
Goodnight everyone... time to take a well needed break.
Eh... I just upgraded (again) to 2.5... well, this time, 2.5.1. I waited until at least the first updated version before I redid it and alas it works great.
Right now, all I need to do is fix the theme and I'm all set. This one is... okay, I suppose. But for now it'll do. I changed the color up a tad from the originals and it's a bit 'clashy' now. I'll figure it out when I get more sleep and have time. Seems like I'm so busy that I can't even do the simple things like choose a good color scheme for my damn blog. haha!
Well, today was productive... wrote 16 pages of Pasadena Memorial's 29 page opener... almost done and I think all I need is one more day at it. I got stuck with a few spots, worked out several different versions of the ending and I think I have one now that I like. In a lot of ways, I'm being a little too picky with what I use for a particular sequence. Right now it's like "do I want what's behind door #1, #2 or #3?? ...hmmmm...." But later on in July I'm gonna have to be like "Eff it... door #1". It's easy now to mess around, but I have to get out of that habit soon and start figuring it out a bit faster in my head.
Stony Point's opener is coming along... still hangin' on page 11 and need to get back at it this week. I had to wrap up Spartan's opener and that took up a little more time than expected, but it's done and now to mvt. 2 later this week. That tune should take about a day to write... maybe only about 10 pages or so. *shrug*
No-one else goin' yet... but I know I'll have a few bands that'll get me numbers and the green light to get started within the next couple weeks. Besides actually being stoked about these shows this year, I'm also a bit nervous. I don't know why I feel pressure this early, but my hopes are to wrap up all my shows a lot sooner than last year. Does this mean I wanna bolt through and sacrifice the quality? Hell no. But last year I had a few bands that were slow to get me music... several choices on my part that slowed me down as well... and the fact that I had to move to a new place in September. (talk about bad timing).
Last year I wrapped it all up around October 7th... maybe? That was the best I had done since 2005, when I finished by October 5. In 2006 it took me a couple extra weeks, but that was because I had been teaching full-time at Travis HS and lost lots of my writing time because of that.
I know that wrapping up drill in October sounds late, but I can't help it if the arranger hasn't finished the closer yet, and it's mid-September. I'm all for those pre-written shows, man. Get me the whole package in May and let me have at it. That's what I love about at least half of my clients. Although, I do love how arrangers can customize more to the ensemble they're writing for and for the design of the show overall (eg John Fannin at Calloway Co.).
But the way I've been most comfortable is having time to digest and study. With some drills I've written, I literally got the score on a Monday and was asked to have drill to them (even 4 or 5 pages) by the next day or the day after. I understand their situation, having to wait for the music to get done thus making me wait. No, I don't have anything else going on, but still it's not like I have the music there and know exactly what instrument plays what line and where, or soloist sections, drum break counts, etc.
All that takes a lot of planning and prep... especially for me. Maybe this year will be better and I won't struggle so much to figure it out on the fly. I just remember thinking I could a couple instances last year (i.e. Stony Point closer) but it ended up taking a couple days still. And in the end, I wasn't particularly happy with what I wrote, but I got them what they needed and it worked out in the end.
Those shows I've done in the past [looking back] where I had everything together before I started were all my best shows. Pasadena Memorial '06 & '07, Cathedral City '06, Hanks '05 (but was a little shaky at both the start and end - at the start because of going to school for the first time since writing drill and at the end because of having to evacuate due to Hurricane Rita). Klein Forest '05 (though my guard staging sucked balls). And finally, Northeast Technology '04. Though, the show they did was a carbon copy of my all-time favorite Cavaliers show - Niagara Falls - I hardly had to plan it out much. No I didn't copy Gaines' drill, nor did a do a whole lot of it even similar... but it was great to write a drill to that music and the band placed 3rd overall at the all-Thailand championships!
So.... yeah, I don't know what else to say. I do need to go to sleep though... and soon. It's about 5:45am, and after pulling an all-nighter a few days ago to wrap up Spartans opener, I haven't quite balanced myself back to normal yet. Oh well... it's easier for me to work at night when it's quiet like this and I can avoid distractions - number 1 of which is to go lay out by the pool. ....Which I do sometimes and might do tomorrow, but only if I wrap up PM's opener... Many people find it easy to just say "whatever, I'm going..." but not me. I get restless when I know I have work to do, and I kinda wish I didn't have that trait. It's so bad sometimes I get stuck in this office chair for up to 4 or 5 straight hours at a time, and not only is it bad health for my body, but also I forget to eat sometimes and get dehydrated. I guess being dedicated to my work is one thing, but I need some sort of class bell or person to come kick my ass out of my room every couple hours so I can get away from it all!
Oh... just realized I forgot to get to a point I was trying to make earlier. The main reason I feel pressured so early to get the drill done this year (and hoping for no big complications) is because I have officially made up my mind that I will be accepting the open invitation I received to march with Aimachi again. Going to Japan was an experience that I don't think I will ever forget and something that meant so much to defining who I am today and who I have been since returning home in December. I'm still the same person, but a lot of the little things have changed. The friends I made there are friends I will have forever. And even if something happens to me that will not allow me to march, I am hoping to get an opportunity to at least teach.
Okay, that's all I got. I thought this would be about 5 sentences and instead you get my typical 'life story'. psh! I need to learn how to simplify things. Or not? Who cares... I just need to write whatever I want, no matter who reads these or stumbles upon it.
Sorry, no pics in this blog... maybe next time.
Okay... I'm pissed. And no, I'm not going to stop and think about this before I say it here publicly. I don't care who sees this or who reads this... this is friggin' ridiculous.
My life and my job only depends on a few 'outside' commitments per year and some of those involve making arrangements to go out of town to events like BOA, DCI, WGI, TMEA, etc. - all on my own expense. Maybe I don't need to attend all of those functions, but considering the number of people I run into at these places and the fact that getting my name out there is essential in the building process of my career, I have to do everything I can to make it happen.
For the first time since 2003 I made arrangements to attend WGI. Not only have I not been able to see BOA or DCI in the past several years, TMEA has been the one and only function I've been able to attend since 2003 ('05-'08) and that's only because it's local. (I was at BOA/DCI in 2004).
This year I'm a little tight for money. No big deal though... I chose this job and career and that's just the nature of it sometimes. But this trip to WGI had to get put on hold... and longer on hold... and until exactly 5 days ago, I had not yet bought a ticket. I can't express to anyone how bad I need to go to this event. I have never been to the percussion championships before and since I'm still trying to get IN to the wgi circuit for percussion, where better to start or get the name out there?
So, as in years past, this year looked bleak at best for me to be able to afford the trip. Every year around tax time I am broke. Literally broke!
My beef is this... here's an e-mail I received on March 28, 2008 from one of my clients (no names given), copied and pasted, word for word: "My Boosters should be in the process of sending you a deposit this week." And another e-mail from another client sent on April 9, 2008: "I've got a check in hand for your deposit. I'll drop it in the mail in the next couple of days".
Okay... let me get something straight... If the check is not in the mail, don't tell me it will be in the mail soon, or we're "working on it". That's a bunch of crap, and do you know what that does to me? That puts me in a fucked up situation where I spent every dime I have to go to wgi on the assumption that the check would have arrived by April 17. Both of which have not.
I'm an idiot... plain and simple. No, no... all of you reading this can say it's their fault and they didn't hold up their end of the bargain... but how does that help me? How does it make up for the fact that I have $20 in my bank account right now (yeah, boo hoo) and I bought a non-refundable flight to Dayton? Not only that, not a single "friend" of mine here is willing to give me a ride to the airport that is 10 miles away. I've asked everyone in town and around and no-one will help me out. Most of that may be because I had to book an early 5:50am flight, but the cab/shuttle services that are usually around $25 are instead $40 because of an extra $15 charge for "red eye" pick-ups.
What good is charging these guys extra money for being late? Money doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't "bring back" wgi to get me another chance to go and see it. Technically they aren't even "late". But they still told me the "check was in the mail" and I'm just an idiot for assuming that 3 weeks was enough time for the USPS to deliver a check from a school located 17 miles from here. (I coulda walked there, picked it up, and walked back and still had time to spare).
I just want to cry right now and I don't know why. I don't know what to do or if it would make sense for me to even go. In a way, I threw away $260 on a plane ticket and the way it looks right now, I just can't go on the trip anymore. I can't even get a ride to the airport, and if I paid all the money I had in my account, I wouldn't have a car or be able to pay for food or a place to stay when I get there. What the hell happened? Why did I put myself in this position? Why do I read something someone says in an e-mail and automatically accept it as truth?
I'm done with this... and I'm not saying this out of frustration from this instance or because it just now happened... but this will be my final year as a drill designer. I've come to a conclusion that would be very difficult to get me to change my mind at this point. This whole experience was the straw that broke the camel's back.
For all of my clients I've made out contracts, set deadlines... yet no matter what happens with a "late" payment or anything like this, it doesn't make up for missing wgi. It doesn't give me another chance to go this year. It doesn't make up for the fact that I won't get to see friends of mine from Japan and the Aimachi line... as well as be there to see people I love and care about.
It's a huge joke and I am so livid right now. My job is a blast when it involves the actual writing process. But this bullshit regarding payments and misleading e-mails is something I don't want to deal with anymore.
* and by the way, I just got an e-mail back from the one director who said they were gonna send it in the "next couple days..." on April 9th... they just told me it was dropped off TODAY and should be on its way.
Why did you tell me it would be mailed in the next couple days and not mail it for a week?
Again, my words are not that of someone who's going through a tough time right now... this has happened every year for the past 4+ years and I'm dead sick of it. I'm disgusted with working a job that requires so much of my patience and dealing with people who will refuse to be honest with me, or seem like they aren't. They'll treat me wonderfully through e-mail and phone conversations - and once I'm out of the line of sight, it's like I'm suddenly yesterday's garbage. That might not be their intentions but that's what I end up getting in the end. I feel like I'm being treated like garbage.
But as I said... this is my fault. In a way, I'm being selfish. I could have saved the money before and planned for this. I could have not spent so much money some other time and been ready for this. But I saw the potential that with the contracts signed and agreements set that everything would work out smoothly this year. I got confirmations nearly a month ago saying that the "check was in the mail" and not from people that far away either. I made the assumption that even though money was tight that since the money was "on its way", I would be fine. Tax season came and went... it cost me a little more this year than last but it's done. Maybe I underestimated how much I would owe. Maybe I just screwed up.
It doesn't even matter anymore. I just can't go to WGI now. I have to stay home and eat the money I spent on the flight. There's nothing else I can do.
It's so sad when I have roommates and friends that say they'll do anything for me... but if I desperately need a ride at 5am to the close-by airport (Hobby), it suddenly turns into "well, anything but that". I've never turned a friend down for a trip to the airport. Unless it conflicted with class or work or something equally as important. But when I start out by asking "are you doing anything Saturday morning/afternoon?" and they say, "no, nothing all day...", I then ask about a ride to the airport and they suddenly get all "well, I wanted to sleep in and I was planning on going to a party and staying out late Friday night".
What the hell? Are you all really my friends? Why are you doing this to me? Do I deserve this? Does anyone deserve this?
Those of you that read this, spare me the whole "if I was there, I'd help you...". I know you would and I do appreciate it. But you're not here... and I know there are people out there that could and would help me but can't because of where you are. But I'm surrounded by a bunch of spoiled assholes that can't spare 30 minutes of their morning to help out a "friend" because they want to spend all night Friday partying and getting hammered off their asses, leaving me here to just sit and do nothing. And the fucked up part about this is I'll wake up sometime in the afternoon on Saturday, see some of these "friends" and the first thing they'll say to me is "I thought you were going to Dayton?". I'll just look at them and say "no, I just didn't feel like going" or make up some other equally pathetic excuse. There's no point in rubbing it in or complaining. I don't agree with the whole shoulda, woulda, coulda stuff... what's done is done, and even if they had the balls to say "well, geez, if you really needed a ride that bad, I woulda..." That thought just makes me wanna puke, because I know everyone would say that. It's so easy to do that, isn't it?
Can you believe that I actually routed a trip to ride my BIKE to the airport? It would take me an estimated 2-3 hours with the non-freeway route, but it's possible. Then I look at that and think of how ridiculous that is. It's hopeless.
I'm getting the hell out of this job... and the hell out of Houston. I don't need anyone to tell me that everything will be okay or shit happens. Yeah, I know. Everything will be okay... shit will always happen... and drill writers are now a dime a dozen. I know I'm good at what I do, but it's not worth this. It's not worth getting stressed over and literally brought to tears because I can't find one person who's generous enough to give me a ride to the airport when I don't even have enough money for a simple taxi.
I've decided... I'm just going to go back to school. After this year of writing and the fall is over, maybe there's a chance I go back to Japan and work or march with Aimachi. But from that point on, I'll probably save every penny I earned this year and I'll get myself back into school. Where? who cares... I just need to get as far away from this activity as I can because as much pleasure as I've gotten out of it in the past 7 years of doing it, I'm getting pushed further and further away from actually being happy.
I may do it again though... I won't eliminate that possibility. You can't eliminate anything at this point. However, my resignation from this hassle of dealing with "the check is in the mail" and multiple multiple apologies for lateness or "my treasurer forgot to..." this or that, all is a result of not just this instance but years of excuse after excuse... and in the end it's no-one's fault but mine. Poor money management and not learning from one year to the next that I cannot depend on my clients to pay me on time or when they say they will. I should have set this money I needed aside a long time ago, knowing full-well this could happen. But every year it happens I get the same "we'll do better next time" excuse and when it doesn't happen, I get another excuse. Last year it was the fault of the post office... this year it's a lazy treasurer.
So, I'm done... and not until I figure out a better way of managing my finances am I going to do this anymore. This isn't a joke. I'm very serious about this right now.
For those affected by this that had nothing to do with these issues that caused the problems, I am very sorry and you can thank those other clients of mine that don't have a clue. (sorry, but you don't).
I doubt that more than 5 people will read this... and I wouldn't be surprised if publishing this comes back to bite me in the ass. I'm aware of the controversy that might surround me with this too, if any.
No-one will ever understand just how shitty I feel right now. How I literally went from being sure everything would work out with the wgi trip and had to wait and wait until I bought the ticket... I waited so long that by the time I couldn't wait any longer, the price was close to $600 to leave Friday and come back Sunday. Instead, I had to settle for Saturday and coming back Monday, and because of switching planes and stops, the only way I could get to Dayton early enough was to take a 5:50am flight outta Hobby. Now I ask everyone I know... being as polite as I can and even offering all I can for gas money, but NOT A SINGLE person will help me and get me to the airport.
I'm over this... I really am over this.
I'm sorry to those that were at wgi and I didn't get to see. I really wanted to go. And I'm sorry to those that are finding out now that I will no longer be working as a visual designer after the 2008 year is over. I'm still going to do my job and do the best that I can. I wanna go out with a bang of sorts... maybe make people go, "damn, look at that guy's drill... I wanna hire him". I'll have to just turn them down and say "Sorry... this was my last year."
Maybe I'll be back... but not for a while. I need to go to school... and do something different.