Sunday, January 3, 2016

Life Update!

Currently watching: The Office S9: E4

So I just stumbled on this blog again and realized it's been over 2 years since I did a post and lot has changed in the last two years. A few things that have changed in the last 2 years: moved from Roanoke to Midlothian, got a new job at a much more reputable company, we adopted a dog, and we had a baby!
So yeah, lots going on in the Rodrigues household. As far as the job goes it has its up and downs, but after some recent drama I have pretty much resigned myself to showing up, doing my very best and leaving; as well as marketing the shop and some of our repairs.
Some of the repairs that I have been able to do that I haven't really posted about that stand out are run over instruments, key fittings, as well as numerous overhauls on clarinets, oboes, saxophones, and bassoons. Needless to say I've been a very busy boy.
And through it all, the highs and lows (and very lows) God has been good. It's hard not to overstate this, there have been times where we had $30 to our name and we were #blessed (sorry I had to because I realize how cheesy this sounds) by our church family with enough money to pay our bills. I was recently started reading Zechariah on my reverse-read-through of the Bible and came across on interesting summarization: Present obedience is necessary for future blessing to occur. Now that sounds a lot like some Joel Osteen bullsh*t, but I think a better understanding is this: work = results. Whether or not we see those results is ultimately up to God. Our labor is never for ourselves it is always for the kingdom and for the Lord. At least that's how I see it, so keep on working hard and working for God.
Now if you'll excuse me my wife is dying to read this before I post it. Promise to post more regularly, like maybe once a week or twice a month and actually include some repair stuff in it as well as spiritual nuggets I find.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Teenage Dream - Warblers GLEE cover (Katy Perry)

So yeah interesting thing happened today: I had the most views on my blog that I have ever had. Interesting. I wonder if it's because I'm suddenly more popular or because I'm so interesting? Probably just the fact that I posted in on Facebook on a Saturday morning when most people are waking from their shenanigans from the previous night.

Either way it got me excited so definitely going to post more. However, I think that most of my posts are going to become a mixture of my job and how I can relate that to the spiritual. I say this so that any of my friends that are atheists, agnostic, or any other religion than non-denominational Christian don't suddenly get offended. I hope you continue to read the blog and get some insight as to my spiritual belief and how I relate it to work place.

That being said please feel free to comment on the blog as well as message me if you have questions about repair or spiritual things, can't really think of a better word there.

Well now so here is what I am thinking of while typing all of this: we as humans are constantly being repaired when we seek forgiveness from our Creator.

When you are doing brass repair or even some woodwind there is no way to return the piece to perfect conditions. Every dent leaves a scar on the metal or crack in the wood. My job is to make the dents or cracks invisible to remove them from the instrument and return it into working condition. I feel like I am pretty talented in this area, I mean I have a lot to learn, but compared to how bad I was when I started there is definite visible progress.

Now the difficulty that comes with diagnosing and repairing doesn't quite fit into this analogy if we are working under the idea that there is nothing outside the power of God's will (No I do not think God could microwave a burrito too hot that He cannot eat). Which most deists will say that the previous is true, otherwise said being isn't God and we need not fear Him. Watch Kingdom of Heaven and you will understand that quote.

Sorry for the complication, but it is important to clarify where I (and most Christians) stand on this.

So now we come to the analogy: We are all instruments. We all fit somewhere in the orchestra. Whether we know where is a different topic all together. So here we sit going through this existence getting the living snot beat out of us everyday. From nasty break ups, hearts broken, personal failures, triumphs that cost us some moral dignity, and tragedy. Lets face it it's a nasty world out there, lots of bad things happen all the time. Here is a visual of what most of us would look like after one day. So imagine what years of abuse would look like?

Que this man, well God/man: Jesus. He is perfect at what he does; and what does he do? Well he repairs instruments. Now this is where most people just tune out, because they have heard it all before and they think it's silly. But here me out: We are trucking along, taking a beating and slowly but surely we get worn down. Our valves no longer work. Our joints get loose. We become 'out of tune' to put in in layman's terms. But the cool thing is that there is this perfect instrument repair technician out there who can fix us. And best of all it's free. It takes no effort on the instruments part. The technician does all the work and doesn't charge us a fee at all.

So what does this mean? Well once we become 'fixed' we start working properly and never have to be repaired again? Not quite, despite this popular idea among parents of 6th grade band students, we go back out into the world again but we start getting dinged up, bent, lose pads and break braces. Now here's the cool thing: we are always given that option of repair and it is still free. We are perpetually being fixed and sent back into the world. No matter how messed up the instrument(person) becomes there is no fee to bring it back into working condition. And that my friends is grace. Grace is getting something amazingly silly and impossible to comprehend, for free. Not because we deserve it, but because in the end God(Band/Orchestra director of the Universe) just wants us all to play in tune.

So yeah, there you go. Sorry that was so long, but the first post is usually the longest when you start up something like this. I promise to keep subsequent posts shorter and filled with less doctrine and more spiritual insight.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

TL;DR: God is a band director, we are instruments. Jesus fixes us for free constantly so that we can play for the band director better.


The Hardest Part - Coldplay

So I have been on a serious hiatus from blogging and updating this thing. I'm not sorry, just thought you should know. I figured since it is a slower season I should probably update more often and also I am learning to code so this gives me a place to practice. 

Well everything has been pretty normal going around work. There was only one project that I really took as a giant learning experience: overhauling and restoring a Selmer Series 3 Bari-Sax. Here are some pictures of the before and after. As you can see in the pictures this instrument has seen some years of battle. It was a horn from Dallas ISD, and if you read some of my earlier posts concerning the condition of their instruments you know exactly what I am talking about when I say 'battle'. 

Well my boss decided that it would be a a good experience for me to completely overhaul this: disassemble, clean, remove dents, straighten the body, level tone holes, re-cork and re-pad the keys and then make it play. I started working on saxophones in April of last year. So I had less than a years experience on saxophones in general then add to that it is the largest instrument and it has to be perfect; I was feeling quite nervous about the whole process. 

Well it took me about a week and in that time I learned a lot more about saxophones, specifically: patience, as close to perfection, and make sure to check the side keys very slowly. Over all I feel like the experience helped me grow as a repairman and as a human in general. 

I was very angry while working on the saxophone because I was so concerned with money. I was falling behind on my paycheck and was so upset by that I tried to take every shortcut I could think of to make it work only to have every single one blow up in my face. A bible verse that was very near to my heart and thoughts was Psalms 46:10, "Be still and know I am the LORD." 

The reason I would think of this verse specifically is because I have it on the cover of my notebook at work. But it applies because while I was getting so upset I started to micromanage and cut corners because I was so obsessed with the end result. I began to rely on my conscious skills. However when I started to rely on God for peace rather than skill, I started to notice the work became easier to me. It wasn't that God granted me skills I didn't already, but rather the Holy Spirit interceded for me and gave me peace and stillness to my weary, wandering, and frustrated mind.

I think that there is a lesson there for all of us: when we get caught up in the action, or duty or encased in our own mind we begin to start over-think, over-compensate, and over-analyze our actions. What we need in those moments is clarity and peace. I get my peace from the Lord, it is my hope that you would too.

"...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I wish I was Marty McFly

Crocodile Rock - SIR Elton John

No but really, after the half week I've had so far I really want a Delorean to flash forward a few years just to make sure it all turns out okay. This week has been very discouraging because everything is kinda in a stasis as it comes to repair. The work is steady but it's all rental return instruments which thanks to my company's severely outdated price list is very close to the point of not worth my time. If you remember I have my own school to work on but thanks to the geniuses in the Dallas Independent School District we still haven't gotten a new purchase order to allow any of the tech's in our shop to work on the loads of DISD horns we currently have. Honestly we have about an even amount of DISD as well as rental return instruments; but the three of us that are commission pay are stuck working on the beaters that are in their own special circle of hell: being perpetually destroyed and fixed only to be destroyed even worse.

I'm sure everything will work out in the end but I can't say I've been more discouraged at work this week than I have today. And I don't mean to be all sad and gloomy, but I think a lot of my frustration is stemming from little things in the work environment I haven't adapted too yet or flat out don't like. Such as the ridiculously outdated price list. I mean seriously I'm sure my fellow tech's will read this and agree at how stupidly low the prices are for us to fix next to destroyed instruments.

I guess I'm just going to do my drone thing for a little longer and hope something changes or that things will actually start to look up and my future won't seem so murky. I'm constantly reminded that I need to keep working hard at it and eventually something will happen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Walk the Line

Antiphonal Brass Music - Boston Brass Section

So lets start off with me apologizing for not posting a lot this week. I am getting married this Saturday and you know, writing this stuff for you people isn't very high on my priority list at the moment. I mean the world doesn't revolve around you, so stop texting me begging for my next post; I will put a post up when I feel in the mood.

All joking aside, I am getting married so this will probably be my last post for a week or so since we leave for Seattle on Tuesday! I'm super excited about this weekend and spending the rest of my life with the girl of my dreams.

Side note you all should check out my buddy's tumblr: Great friend that is starting out in repair and doing some awesome custom work for tuba players around the Metroplex. Looking forward to some of the crazy stuff he is doing, like venting rotors!

So on to the post:
There is an indescribably feeling when you completely destroy something on accident. It happens to everyone, that terrible moment when you realize that whatever design or plan you had going in your head will no longer be attainable. The moment you begin to think of how long until you might be able to get your original design back. That my friends happened yesterday at 4:30pm. I have been lucky enough to have some friends in 'high' places and managed to land a school account of my own.

As I was plugging through the marching brass I ran into a very stubborn Mellophone tuning slide (And Thomas if you are reading don't worry). So I did what I have done hundred of times before except this one time while trying to pull it out the entire lead pipe got ripped off of the horn and crushed in a terrible way. Commence the moment I described in the above paragraph.

Being my first school account I have fielded a lot of questions to my boss and he has been super helpful. So I ran to him asking what would be better: to replace the part or fix the existing part. This is the line we as repairmen are constantly straddling. I like to think of it as a proverbial tight rope walk that happens daily. As repairmen we are constantly struggling with thoughts of: "Is that good enough?" "Will anyone see that little dent I didn't get out?" "Is this flute actually sealing? Or am I mashing the keys down too hard to get a seal?" These little moments happen to even the best repairmen. It's not like these moments are a bad thing, self-questioning can only lead to improvement. But I think that the longer you are in the field the quicker you are at coming to the realization of what should be done.

My boss is like this: Upon seeing the tubing and hearing my question he called into the Yamaha ordering center and got a price for a replacement, then went out and did a very quick glance at 'how much' it would be to fix the existing part. (Side note replacing that specific lead pipe costs $110 before shipping.) He is a firm believer in the best of people, he came out looked at the rest of the horn smiled and said, "Fix it." He then schooled me on how 'long' it should take by removing the worst part of the crushed section in a way I never would have thought.

It was that little 5 minutes that really got me thinking about the struggle up and coming repairmen face when it comes to ability vs. practicality. We all like to believe we can fix something, but how practical would it be to just replace that thing? I guess if I were to sum up this post it would be that the line we as repairmen walk sort of a fickle thing that only exists in our head, but walking that line is where you can gain a lot of wisdom and insight when it comes to practicality v. ability.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That Awkward Moment...

Dreams - The Cranberries

So everyone knows life is full of awkward moments. I think some of the most awkward moments come when you least expect it. If you don't know, I recently moved and started a my career. In an effort to not starve to death I took it upon myself to start nosing around the area looking for business. To say the least I'm already an awkward person, add in the fact I'm emailing people I have never met and the awkwardness seems to multiple. I mean in the technological age, something like emailing potential clients should seem normal right? WRONG! Apparently email is strictly for people you already know and reaching out should still be done in person. 

I just hope that I'm not shooting myself in the foot when it comes to networking. I want this career to work and I am just being active in my future. Despite what most people think Band Instrument Repair isn't about skill at all; skill comes with experience which I already wrote about. No the biggest part of this industry is who you know. This has already proved to my advantage greatly because I know a lot of people, and my boss and the owner have begun to notice my potential. 

Where I live now is actually great for me, because it is a giant untapped region when it comes to repair. There is a huge volume of work that the few Mom and Pop shops around here can't or won't handle. So my goal is to by the beginning of next year to be the primary resource for these (extremely rich) school districts. And it starts with doing freebies. Luckily for me I know some private lessons instructors in the area and maybe I can get my foot in the door that way. All I know is that with 10 days to the wedding, I need to get my act together and stop playing video games.