With all the other news of the global Coronavirus pandemic, police killings, and riots, I want to take a moment to make sure a important local story doesn’t get lost.
It was recently brought to my attention that Duron Jr. has died. This apparently happened at the end of April, but I just found about it last week. This young man was only in the 5th grade when he was struck by an SUV while crossing 61st from Fridley Middle School to the Fridley Community Center.Continue reading
Next the city took down the (useless) plastic fences and erected bollards on the road to keep cars from passing each other on the shoulder.
I wondered how long they’d be there, and I now know Fridley has bollards as one of the tools in its toolboxes for testing changes without doing anything permanent.
Then throughout 2019 the city took action to apply more treatment to the 61st. Ave. They added a median with a pedestrian refuge to give pedestrians a little more priority at the intersection.
There is now a marked bike lane on both shoulders as parking was never allowed there previously. And there’s double white-striped paint to reinforce that passing is not allowed.
61st is a city-owned street. No county or state policies or politics stand in the way of making the street safe for everyone. I’m glad they took what was relatively swift action for a government agency.
But why do we wait until someone is struck by a vehicle – so severely that they risk death – to take action?
As car-loving Americans, we tend to have this have our cake and eat it too mentality when it comes to roads. Do we want safety? Yeah, sure, but dammit I’ll bitch to the mayor if I had to wait a minute longer in my car while dropping my kid off at school.
We cannot continue to prioritize throughput of vehicles over anyone’s life. This should go for all streets, not just this one. We don’t have to bankrupt the city while fixing it. As we fix it, it will make the city more prosperous.
This last part is an unknown – I don’t know what the answer is right now, but I intend to find out. Sadly almost all of our government agencies, from city to federal, aren’t set up to proactively address problems in our built environment until somebody dies.
Will the crash that ended Duron’s life be recorded as a fatality? He sustained his injuries for over two years. But undoubtedly he would still be a thriving young student if he wasn’t struck that day.
Until we find out, if you can, please give to Duron’s funeral fund.
Most of the chatter about this video is positive, but the first and last comments in this screenshot are what I want to talk about:
I get mad when I hear things like “just what we need – another class” or that something is too juvenile for them to have fun. No matter how you cut it, RC racing at its core is toy cars. Yes they’re expensive, configurable, luxury toy cars. But they’re still toy cars as much as a $400 magnesium yo-yo is still a skill toy.
Let’s look at the reality and see if can’t all get along or at least agree to disagree without starting a flame-warContinue reading
While I proclaimed myself to be the 40 year-old WGI virgin, I’m really not new to the whole scene. I’ve been a member of several marching organizations, both winter and summer, since 1991. I’ve also had the privilege of working on the instructional staff of a few groups. One thing a new instructor can do correctly out-of-the-gate is being prepared. Here is what is in my bag that I bring to every rehearsal. There are some extras that you can include for summer drum corps & marching band as well.
The Latin Percussion Jam Block Medium (Red) is the gold standard of all things pageantry.
You’re going to need something to hit said gock block. I picked up a pair of marching snare sticks at a drum corps show. They’re much beefier than a normal snare stick and you can tape them with electrical tape for even more durability.
Some people say they can’t hear all the detail with earplugs in. It’s probably time for an upgrade. I have a set of Earasers and they’re amazing. Yes, they’re $50 and they’re worth it. Also, if you loose one, you can buy the missing side for $25. Personally I can hear more detail with them in as it filters out a lot of the background noise and echo.
If $50 is too steep, at least get a free pair of the foam plugs offered at literally every music venue. It will save your eardrums from all that gock-blocking you’ll be doing.
3-ring binder with drill and music score
I’ve tried electronic drill books on e-readers and tablets, but a printed score and drill sheets never run out of battery. Also, they’re visible in bright light and you can easily annotate them with changes. Sometimes old school is the way to go. Even if it’s not your preferred choice, it’s a great back-up. I put my pages in sheet protectors and always print double-sided to keep the weight (and waste) to a minimum.
For making annotations, duh. Also good to have if your members forget one – and they will.
Being on staff, you probably have a badge to get into shows. They don’t give out replacements, so always put it back into your bag so you have it on contest days.
This is more of a courtesy to brass players. Yes it’s their responsibility to oil their own valves. But inevitably someone will need something in the warm-up arc before a contest, when their case is a million miles away. I bring this to warm-up at the contest as extra insurance.
This is for Dr. Beat. Love him or hate him, the doctor is in the house, and he’s here to stay. If you are a percussionist, you probably already have a Dr. Beat – if not, get one. If you’re everyone else that relies on someone bringing a Dr. Beat, do them a solid and bring an extra 9v battery for it. That thing can go through a 9v like nobody’s business.
Pro-tip: instead of clicking “stop” on your Dr. Beat at the end of your rep, get in the habit of pressing the power button for extra battery savings.
Here are my favorite apps:
Peterson iStrobosoft – Best, easiest to read, stand-alone tuner app. Period. Yes, it’s expensive at $10. Best $10 tuner you’ll ever buy.
TonalEnergy Tuner – Wicked awesome app. Fantastic tone generator for getting your drone on. Great for members as well – put it on a tablet and start practicing and it will tell you what is out of tune.
Metronome – lots of choices here. I’m currently using Frozen Ape’s Tempo.
Competition Suite – A service for judges tapes. Make sure you’re set up with the right permissions before you go to your first competition.
Voice Recording – whatever voice recorder app is included is fine. Useful for making rudimentary recordings or even doing a mock judges tape.
Spotify – Or something else to play music if you want to do a visual warm-up to music (or just jam out in general).
Notes – An app to make notes for things you’d like to fix (and how) and ideas for next rehearsal. I like Simplenote.
Drillbook Next – I prefer printed charts, but that’s me. If you’re going all-in with paperless make sure everyone is on board.
Headphones & Adapter
Bring your headphones if you want to listen to judges tapes before critique. If you’ve got an iPhone, don’t forget the 3.5mm dongle adapter in case you want to plug it into a sound system and blast to some tunes.
Useful for listening to judges tapes aloud with staff or for sharing them with the members.
I’m old school. I love DCT for keeping lips working. I keep it in my winter bag because it can be very dry, even indoors. A must for summer – bonus that it has sun protection built-in.
These are things I add to my bag when summer rolls around. Most of this is for weather – in particular the sun.
Must have – keep that sun off of your face.
There are some dummies out there that are still looking to work on their tan. Skin cancer is real. If you’re planning on marching or teaching for multiple summer seasons and you want to have a normal lifespan, put some damn sunscreen on, and do it on the regular. I consider SPF-50 to be the minimum, 30 if there’s absolutely nothing else available. If I can, I go for SPF 70-100 broad spectrum.
While you’re at it, protect those baby blues.
These are the best inventions ever. Put on a t-shirt, then put on your sun sleeves. Columbia has these wicked Freezer Zero sleeves that have a cooling sensation when they get wet (from sweat). Fantastic, 💯, A+, would wear again.
This doesn’t have to be fancy, just something that will keep you dry. Ideally it can roll up and be stashed in your bag without taking too much space.
For when it’s rainy. Never underestimate how miserable you’ll feel with wet feet. Fresh, dry socks are the answer to a rainy day’s misery.
Did I forget something? A small first aid kit comes to mind, but I bet there’s more. Let me know in the comments what you consider essential.