Monday, February 10, 2003

Following are bits of e-mails I've sent out over the past couple days.

Saturday we visited my friend Jim Nerstheimer in DeKalb. He is the organist at the Episcopal church and he took us to the sanctuary and showed us the church's pipe organ. The biggest pipe is 16 feet long. The sanctuary has a high ceiling, at least 35 feet, shaped like the inside of a big barn. The side walls are lined in sandstone bricks and lit from above. Cast shadows give the jutting stones more depth.

We even got to see the pipes up close when one of the low notes got stuck. We climbed a ladder to a plywood platform and through a cubbyhole to a small well-lit room full of wires and pipes. Jim described to us each row of pipes and what voices they made. A few of the pipes did not work properly. Jim said the mechanical complexity of the organ makes it a majestic instrument, but a hassle to keep in repair.

My, ahh, avocation, is going well. It doesn't appear the regular gym teacher is returning, so I may teach at the same school since October. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and, yes, a vacation from the stress and lousy schedule of daily newspaper reporting. Kishwaukee Elementary School was built in 1921, and the original lockers are still in use, On this gorgeous, south-facing first landing is a tryptich leaded glass window, and next to it a polished walnut storage locker. Above the desk in my office, bolted to the ceiling, is a coil water heater. On cold days its useless, warm days I roast. A complex latticework of pipes threads throughout the gym. On really cold days you can hear the constant steam and gurgle of water through the pipes.

Last week the daily newspaper and all three local news stations were in my gym to cover a Vietnamese New Years celebration, or Tet Nguyen Dan. The students did an excellent job. More than half my students are children of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees. Kishwaukee is classified a bi-lingual magnet school................................

I find peace and comfort in music because it is a discipline that forces your mind to think rationally and logically, yet at the same time is liberating and free. I am somewhat a bull of a man, very Smith-like, large featured, and a hard-driving Nebraska bluntness is a core essence of my character. Music, especially guitar, forces me to be gentle and flowing, a contrast with my nature, but also brings out my gentle side. Of course, one can display force and energy, but it is cacophonous unless expressed with precision and touch. Music craves order and in turn gives order to my life...............................

I have no problem with religion. People need a channel, or ceremony, to get them in tune with the God frequency. Problem with religion is that power is taken away from God and placed in the vehicle/church/doctrine/ceremony. It's like praising the car that got you to the trailhead instead of the awesome mountain there before you.

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