No Spring Chicken #34

Today I set a dangerous precident. Janet asked if we should keep the old electric heater. It has both a 750 and 1500 watt setting, but with the 1500 watt setting the plug gets very hot (to the point where you think the insulation will melt). Well, after a lot of dithering I said, "We have enough things around here that only partially work. Throw it out!" Then it occurred to me that with my current back troubles (I tweaked it Tuesday lifting a BIR coaching launch so they could move the sawhorse to another spot and paint the portion that had been on the sawhorse before), with Janet's troubles from her operation to remove a brain tumor in 2001, and with Clair turning 13 (91 in dog years, and over the average age for labs) this week, we were all only partially functional. Oh, my God! I just signed all of our "toss out" slips!

Fortunately, Clair can't read this so she doesn't know what fate awaits her. Janet is rowing the ergometer upstairs, so she is making herself useful. I'm on my fourth Tequila and Orange Juice, so I'm not worried about anything at this point. Besides, I have been sitting with my sore back on the heating pad for the last hour or so, so I'm not feeling any pain right now. Maybe all is OK, despite the dire warnings.

I saw a note that severe winter blasts had hit Boston and the Northeast US four times in the last four weeks. Boy, if that isn't evidence that God had money on the Seahawks, I don't know what is. Then, I got a note today that Pete Carol is close to signing an exclusive deal with the Pope to come work for the Catholic church. It seems he is the only man in history to get 100,000,000 people to stand up and say, "Jesus Christ!" all at once and they want him to come work for them. Hmmm. Dire things are in the works the world around.

Singing Valentines are an interesting phenomenon in our chorus. We had a time, some years back, when we were serving 120 singing valentines each year. Then we had a year when we had a bad cold run through the chorus and I had to replace five baritones the day of the deliveries (and a few other parts, too). Problem is, we only had six baritones in the chorus at the time. So the product we delivered was not all it could have been. That and several of our salesmen decided that $50, which is at the low end of the cost spectrum for the Barbershop Harmony Society, was too much for us to charge, so they quit selling. With all this going on, we have been way down for a number of years, now. Last year the number we sold was in the 20s. This year it was in the 40s, and we turned out a very good product both of those years. Still, I had a member come up to me last night at the chorus rehearsal and tell me if we just dropped the price to $39.95 we'd triple our sales. Perhaps. Perhaps if we gave them away for free we would get a lot more, too. But just because you can get more giving them away, doesn't mean you should give them away. The problem is, that while some members don't think they are worth as much as they were 10 years ago, doesn't mean that they are not. We, as a chorus, are much better than we were a few years ago. Much better than we were the last year we sold 120 valentines. So why should we charge less for the valentines than we did then? We were charging $50 per valentine at that time. Think about the trouble of getting four people together in the middle of the day to come deliver a singing valentine to someone you love anywhere in the county. Can you put a price on that? If you do, how much will it be? $10? $20? $30? $40? $50? $60? More? We are still charging $50/valentine. We really should raise our prices with the times, not keep them the same because we all remember the price for one when we were kids!

We sent out six different quartets this year, and I listened to all of them. They created great music, expanded sound (a hallmark of barbershop singing), good chords, and lots of love in the music. True, some of them delivered two songs, not one (as management has continually said is a better choice). But they were singing well and truly represented our chorus with the sound they turned out. The sixth place (per 2014 results) chorus in the Evergreen District (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta) is no slouch to be sold for a discount!!! Even the two put-together quartets that went out on Sunday to deliver the last two valentines. So we have nothing to be ashamed of asking for what is a reasonable price for the times. I was involved in delivering valentines on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, someone else was driving all the time, so I only had to prop myself up and sing. Still, it was an exhausting Thursday through Sunday.

I mentioned my tweaked back in the first note. I do this periodically, and it always goes away sooner or later. Hopefully, this will be a sooner. I'd like to be able to help with the movement of that launch onto the trailer on Sunday so it can be launched later in the week and used by the BIR folks for coaching the crews out on the water. That is, after all, what we are all working for. I'm not coaching BIR anymore. They have moved on and are looking for coaches with more experience. For the masters, they are looking for someone who has coached at the collegiate level. I haven't. But the KRA (Kitsap Rowing Association) folks are very happy to have me as a coach. We'll see how they do as the season goes on. We solved a lot of basic problems with their stroke last year, and we will solve a few more this year. I'm just making them better rowers, not champions who win all of their races. But if we get better, we'll win more races as a result. Most champions didn't set out to win. They set out to be the best they could be, and winning came along the way. They all want to be better than they were when then won.

This winter has been "Interesting", like in the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times!" OK, chemo to deal with the lymphoma was one item. We had a limb come down during a wind storm, that went through our metal roof. We found out about it when the pouring rains came down and we had a huge leak into our living room. So we started the process of an insurance claim to get it repaired, called a contractor to come take a look. The insurance company sent out a "local" (Seattle area) adjustor to take a look, and the contractor got to work. When he popped off the panels he was planning on replacing he found that the stuff underneath was rotten. To the point where he could rip out hands-full of "wood" just by grabbing it. Nothing left of it, to speak of. The same was true on several other areas of the roof that were sampled. It turns out when they put in the metal roof they just pulled off the shakes that were there and put the metal roof on top where the shingles had been. That didn't allow for any air flow under the the metal, and now not only does everything over the rafters need replacing, so do some of the metal panels, due to heavy corrosion on the bottom side. Now we are in a fight for how much of this is bad work on the roofer's part, how much the insurance company will pay for, and how much we are on the hook for. First step - refinance the home loan so we have the money to do whatever we need without waiting for various responses. Second step - get the roof fixed before the rains come. Of course, you know that is a false hope before we start. So, after we finished handling all the paperwork this morning (which included the re-fi paperwork, the tax bill for this year, and paying off all of our credit card bills), we went down to the Pub for beer and nachos. Sometimes you just have to drown your sorrows.