While the rest of the US is out blowing up fireworks on July 4th, we’re crammed shoulder to shoulder into a convention center with people that we didn’t even know a week prior.

While people attend con for many different reasons, such as meeting their favorite Artist or selling merchandise, many of us go for a single reason: the opportunity to interact with a great community. This past weekend was the 15th consecutive July 4th weekend that I’ve dedicated time to see people who have become some of the most important people in my life. Some of these people have been at it for 25 to 26 years. I come from the side of staffing and volunteering, but others are content creators, cosplayers, or just fans.

No matter what our background is, we keep coming back because these people we’ve met at con are truly some of the most important people in our lives. Not many people have experienced their relationship with another person go from stranger to best friends within 3 days.

I didn’t get to see everyone this weekend, but I’m looking forward to the next time our paths cross.

I didn’t get to take many photos this year, but I happened to snap this one of these fine folks by LP1. I should collect photos with more people next year. Also, those of you with keen eyes will notice the AX03 pin, which I didn’t get in 2003, but it was my first con. Also wearing my AXOps lanyard from when I first started staffed, which was 10 AXes ago, which was the first year AX was at LACC.

Soon after Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released last year, many fans began coming up with theories on the origins of various characters based on the music of the movie.

Of course, spoilers will be found below.

A popular theory revolved around the origin of Snoke and how he might be Darth Plagueis, who was mentioned by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith.

Through my analysis of the musical themes in The Force Awakens, I don’t wish to discover who Rey’s parents are. I think that her role in the trilogy will be defined by what she does, not who her parents are. This is the dilemma that Kylo Ren is going through. Will he be defined by his parents or his grandfather?

By analyzing the following themes, maybe we can learn something deeper and more meaningful about the relationship of the three Force users featured in The Force Awakens: Rey, Kylo, and Luke.

More . . .

Several weeks ago, Westminster HS’s competitive field season came to an end a week shy of Championship Finals. It was a tough pill to swallow since we all felt that we were objectively performing at a level higher than previous years. Principals, teachers, and students all took notice. The members were excited that their hard work was being noticed and praised by the rest of the school. The season was going well, so when it came to an abrupt halt, there were many thoughts and feelings to unpack.

At this point, I turned to social media to reflect on the season. Wanting to start with an image, I began posting on Instagram. The trouble here is that posting to Instagram is only possible via a mobile device, and typing on a phone is hard. Instead, I drafted up my thoughts in Google Docs, then copy+pasted it into Instagram. The words transferred over, but the paragraph breaks were hit or miss.

All in all, this process took nearly 30 minutes, which was absurd. Social media simply doesn’t allow for thorough, thoughtful posts. Abbreviated and punctuated one-liners flourish on social media. Carefully crafted passages, on the other hand, become cumbersome.

I didn’t like that.

More . . .

Turkey and Shopping is not what makes a good holiday weekend.

As we progress in our careers, we find ourselves spending less time with friends and family. I know that’s true for me. I don’t hang out with people. But that’s why it’s important to spend quality time together during these rate times we have off of our usually action-packed days.

Your turkey might not be perfect, or no one brought cranberry sauce. But at least we can all share that experience together¹.

Happy Thanksgiving²!

1. We all look weird in photos.
2. Thanks for not Giving me the cold.

Today, being band director meant being a machinist. So I wasn’t actually a machinist, but boring out new holes in these bass harnesses would have been much easier with a drill press.

We made due with cobalt, countersink drill bits, and our trusty 18v cordless DeWalt. Too bad we mathed wrong. Half of 5 1/2 inches is often times not 2 1/4 inches. Lesson: measure and calculate twice, but also use a visual check to make sure things are aligned and make sense. Cobalt bits go through aluminum like a silver coin through ice, but it still takes a while to redrill so many holes.

Rebuilding this bass carrier to work with our new Tama drums from Lone Star Percussion was quite a feat.

The carrier mounts only sit 5.5 inches apart, significantly closer together than on our old Pearls. What made it more difficult is that the attachment point overlaps with the shoulder bars, requiring a countersunk screw. The easiest part was getting a 3/4 in countersink bit. Finding the hardware components proved more difficult.

After a few trips to several hardware stores, we finally found the 1/2 in. countersunk 5/16-18 hex screw and a matching coupler at a local hardware store. Unfortunately, no one carried a 2 in. J-hook, do we had to buy some eye bolts, cut out a section, and shorten it with a hack saw. But it’s finally done.

Or so we thought. In the process of redoing our 5 carriers, we misplaced a set of carriage bolts. Had to pick up a pair along with some locking nuts before the job could be finished.

Maybe it’s time to organize all of the little bits of hardware floating around our band room.