Another no chip day, yet I feel somewhat accomplished

I had every intention of working on the chip, since I didn’t get much done yesterday, so I got up early to start my day.  First though, I would commit all the cash I had lying around in my portfolio to stock, now that I had done all this nifty research on the best long-term stocks.  Alas, in order to see which stocks were on sale at the moment, I had to do a little crunching of numbers.  That took all morning.  I did finally buy a handful of long-term gems, but now it was time for lunch.  During lunch, I got a phone call from my son.  He had some money that he wanted to put into stock.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!  I sent him my list of winners.  My stomach was not happy right after lunch, probably from yesterday’s dim sum, so I was rather disabled until around 3PM.  By that time, it was hardly worth working on the chip, so I played music.


Anything to avoid working

I took today off from substituting so I could work on my chip.  And while I did work on that chip, it wasn’t the major portion of my day.  I also spent a fair amount of time reviewing old lessons, documents and books so I could create a condensed etiquette guide for a friend who was new to Muslim culture and was now interacting with a couple of Muslim women in her class.  This was a fun exercise and it was a great review for me.

In the afternoon, for some reason, I started looking at stocks (OK, that reason is that I read Warren Buffett’s annual report, where it emphasized the importance of a buy and hold strategy).  I wanted to know which of the 330 or so stocks that I track would have made me a lot of money had I simply bought them and kept them 13 years ago when I started investing.  To date, I’m currently above the S&P500, the “average” among stocks, but only barely (~20%) because I have bought and sold so many stocks at just the wrong time.  Now that I’m getting closer to retirement (in 20 years), I’d like to adopt the buy and hold strategy that I swore I would do when I first started purchasing stocks.

The list of “home run stocks” turned out to be larger than I had thought.  Approximately 60 of the 330 stocks would have made me at least 700% had I held on to them for 13 years – that’s around17.5% per year compounded!  40 of them would have made me 1000% (or ~20% compounded annually).  27 of them would have made me 1200% (22% compounded annually).  There’s a lesson in this: listening to media, even well-intentioned media like Motley Fool, is a foolish thing to do.  All the stock sites I read on a regular basis state that you need to buy and hold your stocks, but then they advise you to buy and sell all kinds of stuff on a monthly basis!  Now that I have this list of stocks, and some of those stocks just happen to be on sale right now, I should just buy some of the best ones, and forget about them, like Warren Buffett does.  I’d be so much better off.

Special Ed class

Two days of special education classes is pretty tiring, but it was also alright.  I had four simply wonderful instructional assistants with me to help take care of the kids.  I will tell you though, after I got home today, I took a nap, and that’s something I rarely do.  The teacher is back tomorrow, so I can stay home now and work on that chip.  Oh ya, that job gave me another chip to do today, so yeah, more hours.  If I get through the next couple of weeks, I should be doing fine financially, allowing me to take a few sub days off so I can do well on my test and that college class.

It’s feast or famine around here!

Well gee, this seems to happen to me a lot!  I’m just sitting around thinking that maybe I could be doing something more and BAM!  I get all kinds of requests to do stuff.  For me, studying for the CSET and going back to college in two weeks was probably enough to keep me plenty busy.  But right around 5PM yesterday, I got a job offer to work on a chip (something that I never turn down because it’s so lucrative), I got a sub job, and I was asked if I could play guitar for Lent services.  I seem to have gone from light work to a pretty insane schedule all within the span of fifteen minutes!  I did finally turn down the guitar gig after realizing just how full my plate had become.  I expect that my six week college class will keep me busy for five days out of the week, leaving me with little time for sub jobs or Lent services.  To keep myself sane, I had better finish this chip before college starts.  I also still have to study for that CSET, which I will take just before the college class starts.  I would like to limit the sub jobs, but doing the sub jobs are beneficial because it keeps me in contact with those who might hire me.  I was going to only take today’s sub job, but it seems that the teacher won’t be back again tomorrow (jury duty).  I hope he doesn’t get selected or I might be asked to do a long-term assignment in his class and frankly I don’t have the time right now for a full-time commitment.  I need to clear-up my sub schedule for the next two weeks so I can finish a chip and study for an exam.

What I really want to do right now is crawl into bed and watch a good movie.

Thoughts on musicianship

I’ve been playing a lot of electric at church recently; with the current mix of musicians, I am needed on electric 50% of the time.  I was telling Bery the other day that if he keeps scheduling me like this, I might actually get good at electric.  It’s so true though – I have already seen some definite improvements in both technique and sound quality.  Who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to use a pick after all!

I’ve also noticed that my acoustic and bass abilities are stagnating.  I’m just not getting in enough practice mostly because I’m playing to maintain what I already know, not to advance.  With electric, I have no choice but to advance because otherwise I can’t play the songs!  I should start relearning all those Passion songs so I can improve my bass play, and maybe relearn all those James Taylor songs that I used to know on acoustic.

Without a drum set at home, currently, there really isn’t much chance that I can reclaim my former drumming abilities.  Perhaps this is OK.  Our church band has more drummers than it needs, and I have only played drums at church twice in twenty years now, so there isn’t much call for me to play.

Aside from that, the Winter Olympics have now come to a close, though I still have about eight hours of material left that I haven’t watched.  I’ll get to it sometime this week I’m sure.  Also, I didn’t get a phone call this morning for a sub job, so today, I start studying for my CSET in earnest.  Wish me luck!

Picutre Day

I spent about half my day today adding pictures to my rolling screen saver.  I did this because I have started asking my classes “Where is this picture from?” (its location) whenever I’m between powerpoints or videos or whatever else that I’m showing on my laptop in class.  In between those powerpoints and videos, the kids have been asking me about the pictures on my desktop, which change every 15 minutes, so I’ve decided to make this something fun and educational that we do.  They discover where the shot was taken, and a little something about the picture.  The pictures are of places that I’ve been my the last 20 years of travel (plus shots of my car).  These pictures include around 15 different countries (out of the 30 that I’ve been to) and maybe 15 states out of the 49 I’ve been to.  What haven’t been included, up until today, were all the California (Sonoma, San Francisco, North Coast, and Monterey) and Chattanooga pictures that I’ve taken over the last year of traveling.  Now my students will have more places to guess.

While doing this exercise, I have come to realize that my kids are hilarious when it comes to taking pictures.  They make silly poses and faces and they occasionally photo-bomb a photo (even before it was popular to do).  Their massive collection of “bench tour” pictures are also very amusing.  Now that I’m complete for the moment on desktop picture publishing, I have come to realize that most of the new pictures I added are of my family.  This is a new thing.  Although I’ve traveled with my family for years, I only started taking pictures of them on a regular basis in 2010.  Since they have become teenagers, they have become more interesting subjects to photograph for me I guess.  It makes sense: since 2010, I have really enjoyed traveling with my kids, now that they are autonomous and interested in where I’m taking them.

Passion Music

Without anything truly important to do today, I decided to buy a whole bunch of music on iTunes to make a “Passion” album.  This is something that I have wanted to do for years, but had never gotten around to it.  “Passion,” by the way, was the name of my very successful band back in the early 80’s.  We were a top tier cover band in the greater Bay Area with a rather large following, yet our goal was never to get rich or leave our day jobs – we all played because we had a passion to play, hence the name.  Most in the band were engineers.  I was studying to be an engineer at the time, so in between sets, it wasn’t unusual for my bandmates to help me out with my Calculus homework.  Yes, that was the sort of thing we did in the green room between sets.  Most of our band did not do drugs, and those who did, kept it to themselves, and not while playing.  The result was that we had quite the work ethic with the singular goal of copying our music note-for-note.  This allowed me to get really good at listening and breaking-apart songs, a skill I would use later on when I co-owned a studio and did some sound engineering/studio mixing.  The band was together from late 1982 – 1989.  I left the band in 1987 because my grades were dropping and my future wife said that it was either her or the band because I was playing so often that I never saw her.  I chose wisely, of course, but I still hung out with the band when I could.  The break-up of the band occurred (as it does with most bands), when an outside love interest got involved with the band.  Our drummer liked our female lead singer, but our lead singer found a new beau, and he started running lights for the band.  The drummer and the lighting guy hated each other so eventually, the lead singer and lighting guy left to form their own band (later on, they both became Christians and started playing Coffee Houses in Gilroy) or the drummer quit – I don’t recall which happened first.  The rest of the band split and started doing other projects.  One of the lead guitarists joined me on a project I was doing in the studio around 1989-90 when we recorded an album for a star from the Philippines (Johnny Night).  In 1991, I left my music & studio life to join a rock & roll church band.  Switching to a daytime gig was much healthier for me.  I did that for a little over a year, and then joined the church band that I currently play in.  And so goes my musical career (I counted the other day, and I have been in 17 different bands, though Passion and my current church band are the two I have been in the longest, and I’m on 3 rather mediocre albums that have never gone anywhere.  The most successful project I was involved in was a single that sold 40K copies).

So, getting back to the Passion Album, it took the better part of a day (last night and much of today) to compile the 75 most played songs that we did as a band, or the core of what we did for five years.  In my five year tenure, we kept a rolling “current” list of around 100 songs out of the approximately 250 songs that we had learned over that five year period (yes, on average, we learned one new song a week AND we either practiced or played for 20 hours a week… not including travel, setup or tear-down).  Our average set was 12 songs, and four sets a night (48 songs a night), so if we played four nights a week, and we often did, our goal was to repeat only half the songs, hence the 100 active songs.  In practice though, it was rare that we played at the same place for all four nights, so we tended to stick with these 75 songs that were most often on our current list:

Scandal – Goodbye to you
Scandal – Love’s God a Line on You
Scandal – Beat of a Heart
Motels – Only the Lonely
Motels – Mission of Mercy
‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry
Police – Message in a Bottle
Police – Wrapped Around Your Finger
Rush – Subdivisions
Rush – Tom Sawyer
Babys – Headfirst
Babys – Midnight Rendezvous
Babys – Too Far Gone
Bon Jovi – Runaway
Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
Bon Jovi – Get Ready
Heart – Barracuda
Heart – How can I Refuse
Heart – If Looks Could Kill
(Medly) John Cougar – ROCK in the USA
(Medly) Romantics – What I like About You
(Medly) Neil Diamond – Cherry, Cherry
The Call – I Still Believe
Genesis – Abacab
Toto – Hold the Line
Toto – Won’t Hold You Back Now
Bryan Adams – It’s Only Love
Bryan Adams – Run To You
Bryan Adams – This Time
Bryan Adams – One Night Love Affair
Pat Benetar – You Better Run
Pat Benetar – Heartbreaker
Pat Benetar – Promises In The Dark
Pretenders – Middle of the Road
Pretenders – Precious
Don Henley – Boys of Summer
Don Henley – Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed
Timbuck 3 – Future’s So Bright
Gamma – Voyager
Night Ranger – Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
Night Ranger – Sing Me Away
Night Ranger – Passion Play
Ratt – Round and Round
Van Halen – Panama
Van Halen – Jump
Van Halen – Dance the Night Away
Van Halen – You Really Got Me
Journey – Keep on Runnin’
Journey – Lights
Boston – Smokin’
Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
Robert Plant – Addicted To Love
Robert Plant – Little by Little
38 Special – If I’d Been The One
38 Special – Hold on Loosely
38 Special – Caught Up In You
Dokken – You Just Got Lucky
The Bangals – Walk Like an Egyptian
Survivor – Popular Girl
Survivor – High On You
Tubes – Talk To Ya Later
Tubes – She’s a Beauty
The Georgia Satellites  – Keep You Hands To Yourself
Huey Lewis – Finally Found a Home
Huey Lewis – Power of Love
Huey Lewis – Walkin’ on a Thin Line
Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane
Scorpions – Big City Nights
U2 – Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
U2 – Pride (In the Name of Love)
Zz top – Sharp Dressed Man
Zz top – Stages
Aldo Nova – Fantasy
Eddie Money – No Control
Eddie Money – Think I’m in Love
The Kinks – Destroyer
Cars – Let’s Go

Living life to the fullest

Laziness can become a very comfortable norm if you let it.  I’ve been in such a place for a while now and it’s not a great place to be.

I remember back a few years ago when I started blogging.  I had recently lost my big-time engineering job; I was cash rich and had abundant free time.  I was motivated to make the most of it.  I was going to write the great American novel. I was going to travel the world.  I was going to learn a foreign language or two.  Alas, just as I was heading towards these goals, a start-up opportunity came up that seemed OK, but really wasn’t what my goals were all about.  I probably shouldn’t have taken the job (looking back, definitely not!) because it had nothing to do with my goals.  But even with the start-up job, I was motivated to achieve something special… at the expense of the things I actually wanted to do.  I loved the people I was with and there was the very real possibility that we would all get rich.  When that job crumbled, I assessed what I’d like to do next, since now I needed money (having sunk a lot of it into that start-up).  I prayed about it, and did some personal inventory tests designed to show me my skill-set.  Much to my surprise, the results didn’t show me that I should be an engineer, but a writer, teacher or preacher.  I soon crossed preacher off the list because I didn’t have the passion required to do the job excellently.  I crossed writer off the list because, while I like writing, I couldn’t see myself doing it all the time.  This left teacher.  This was God’s divine direction for my life.  As soon as that decision was made, I was relentless in pursuing a teaching credential.  I was again motivated.  I got through the credential program quickly and… didn’t immediately land a job.  The timing wasn’t right to get a full-time job for this school year so, I languished for the better part of the school year as a substitute teacher.  I do not have any passion for substituting (though long-term is awesome), so I now wait for that perfect job that I know God has for me… and I’m getting tired of waiting.  I’ve also been sick a lot recently – lots of kids with germs.  All of this has gotten me out of any motivation I once had and I’ve become a regular couch potato who dreams of teaching full-time and going to exotic places during summer break, but is currently glued to a couch.  Maybe, once I get a job and get settled into my field, I’ll start writing again and I’ll learn some foreign languages.  You see, my passions haven’t changed, but I’ve become too lazy to actually pursue them, I only dream about them.  It’s sort of sad, and I don’t like what has happened to me.  I could be doing so much more with my life right now!  I’m not too old, I probably have 20 more working years left, but 20 years isn’t an unlimited amount of time to accomplish some of my life goals.  I’ve already blown 10 years thinking about writing but not actually getting past a few chapters in any of the writing projects I’ve started.  I have done some travel, but not as much as I would like to.  I’ve forgotten any foreign language skills I once had because I don’t go overseas much and I haven’t keep the practice up.

So, God issued a wake-up call for me today.  He said that I need to focus, prioritize, and get off my butt.  I need to this anyway, since I have to take an “English Language Arts Teaching Methods” class in order to get my English credential (so yeah, next month I’m back in college), but I should also work towards making the things happen that will make me the happiest: time with God, time with family, teaching, writing and traveling (foreign languages will come naturally as a result of doing these things).  Good news is that my life isn’t a total loss at this point: I’m back with God; I’ve never left my family; I’m working on a Turkey & Greece trip; I’m continually working towards getting a full-time teaching gig.  I now need to add exercising and writing every day.  What I really need to wake up every day with purpose, something I have not been doing.  I need to become a living example of how to live life to the fullest.

Multimedia and Woo dogs

I survived another week of the Multimedia & Play Production class.  There were some bumps along the way, mostly due to a very different schedule this week, but things went OK.  The kids did their presentations and they had all learned something.

Over the weekend, the teacher for that class called and asked if we could help get a new computer desk into her room.  It was nice to see her up and around.   We got the desk in no problem and she was able to pick up all the items to be graded that the class had generated during my tenure.  She told me that I had done such a good job that she would be quite willing to write a letter of recommendation for me if I needed one.  How sweet!

The Olympics are still on, so I continue to watch them.  There is so much coverage!  Good thing I’m off all of next week.  I can spend my week in bed (recovering from yet another cold) while watching the Olympics!

We also inherited the Woo’s dogs for the week.  They are very destructive dogs.  They are also not as allergy-free as I would like.  I’m thinking that we might not watch them again.  It’s too draining physically and mentally.

CSET results and another (shorter) long-term assignment

We got the results of the CSET test!  Barbara passed her Home Economics CSET.  Hopefully, with just some money, she’ll have a single credential, allowing her to teach at the middle school or high school level.  This will make her rock-solid in her current position at the middle school.

I passed the three hardest sections of my four section English CSET.  The one I missed was the one I was most familiar with.  Having said that, I did not study for it ahead of time, and it was the last section I did (with time running out) so I breezed through it.  I have no doubt that I’ll pass it when I take it again on March 8th.  I have a few weeks to study, and I’ll have five hours to complete something I did in 20 minutes last test.

Aside from that, I have begun a two week long-term assignment in Multimedia and Play Production.  The teacher, who is also my friend, is out with pneumonia.  She’s allowing me to create my own curriculum and lesson plans.  For Play Production, I’m creating a Production Company, complete with departments and management.  Our goal is to get ready for a Talent Show that is coming up next month.  For Multimedia, I’ll be teaching the kids Microsoft Publisher this week and Microsoft Powerpoint next week.  All this will culminate in a powerpoint presentation.  I also get to assign grades.  I’ve decided that I much prefer long-term assignments because I actually get to know the kids and I get to teach.

Oh ya, last week, I got to teach science at the middle school.  It was pretty fun, but it was also my only assignment of that week mostly because I was sick.  If the science job hadn’t been a personal request, I would have stayed home.