Reflections on Labour Day   Leave a comment

(Working for a living? For someone else? Yeah… This is just about the size of it…)

So at this point, I’ve relisted a soprano saxophone on Ebay… I’ve posted a bass clarinet… I have 2 alto saxes, a tenor and a baritone sax to work on, two pad sets have arrived, I’m waiting for the third… Meanwhile I’ve got a cornet, a flute, a clarinet, an alto saxophone and a piccolo to be delivered to a client September 15…

Steady work, at the rate of about 4 – 6 hours a day (and eventually, touch wood, half-decent monetary results):  Because repairing musical instruments requires a level of concentration such that, after 4 to 6 hours, you’re done. Time to put your feet up, watch The X-Files on Netflix..  A little recycled mindless paranoia does a boy good at the end of the day …

Seriously though… I reflect that, lately, even though once again I’ve let my finances dwindle to the crisis point, I’ve maxed my LOC and I’m maxing my new MasterCard — after the darkness of the past few years (2003 – 2013… more like a decade really…) life, at the moment, is good…

Shhh!!! — Better not attract God’s attention…

Golden Annoitment of Sheer Disappointment

It’s Monday, September 2, 2013, it’s Labour Day, which far more than January 1 for most people, is New Year’s Day: Summer’s over.. Kids are back in school tomorrow… one last barbeque or picnic, just like I used to do before the divorce… before it’s nose up against the grindstone again. Just as if your nose had ever stopped being up against it  — Or rather, firmly up against your boss’s ass, so that you’ll have a paycheque the week after next, instead of a severance cheque (Jesus? Satan? SOMEBODY?!?) immediately…

This particular Labour Day I opened my favourite blogsite,, for news of the weird, and found this little gem:

Worse Off Than a Medieval Peasant?
September 2nd, 2013

Via: Reuters:

Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired. But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.

Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.

As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way: John Maynard Keynes, one of the founders of modern economics, made a famous prediction that by 2030, advanced societies would be wealthy enough that leisure time, rather than work, would characterize national lifestyles. So far, that forecast is not looking good.

You can find the full posting (for awhile, anyway) here:

And for more of Mr. Keynes misplaced optimism, have a look at this while you’re at it:

Curious piece of introspection, after beginning a blog jumping incomprehensibly into the middle of things, but as John Lennon observed, “life is what happens when you’re planning something else”.

Labour Day, September 2, 2013, here I am up to my eyeballs mucking about with junky old horns, most of them way past “economic repair” if they were ever worth fixing to start with, maxing my credit cards buying parts and supplies and sometimes tools, after sitting on my duff since March of last year, pretty much doing nothing but wondering how I was going to maintain my situation w/o getting a job, because at 54, with a spotty employment record (wasn’t what I wanted, but more on that later), with what turned out to be a worthless degree in music performance (that’s what they told me it was…  more on that later too…)

… It’s either get on getting self-employment going …

… Or flipping hamburgers at a place like MacDonald’s …

… Or applying for Social Assistance.

Labour Day, September 2, 2013, and the above article has given me a very good jumping-off point. And what I’m doing in fact is repairing the situation I’ve allowed to develop, due to dithering, procrastination …and (far as I’m concerned) misplaced loyalty…

Back to the grindstone indeed… because you see, 5 of those instruments are Jazz Era Saxophones that once they’re made to sing again, should be worth $1,200 – $1,800 each. Mind you, it’ll take me about a week each to get them there (they’re pretty disgusting at the moment), but $1,200 – $1,800 / week is all the motivation I need.

Forgot to mention the bassoon I bought for $400.. Any idea what those suckers are worth in decent condition?

The cornet, flute, clarinet, (other) alto saxophone, and piccolo? Those are surplus junked / beater horns given me from a school program that I’m repairing for a friend who’s running a cadet band and is expected by his superiors to produce decent results with pretty much zero resources. I’m selling them to him for $800, but to be helpful, I’m also doing a trumpet, flute and either another saxophone or a baritone horn, “for free”.. In effect he gets 8 instruments for $800.  That’s his budget, for instruments, for the year.

This is what institutions do to each and every one of us, you don’t need me to tell you this. Considering new flutes, clarinets and trumpets start at $500 and saxophones at $1,200, this is good for him, and brownie points for me.

Brownie points are very important when you’re self-employed.

Point I’m trying to make.. After 6 years wasted in Academia sucking up to jerks, for a degree not worth the paper it was printed on… 30 years squandered in the world of work chasing sundry will-o’-the-wisps, the inevitable emotional crash, midlife-crises, divorce and loss of everything I’d worked to build and save… (and yes, sucking up to jerks…)

Finally… I have something vaguely resembling a trade, I’m not at the mercy of some capricious boss, I have work that has meaning for me and suits my talents and interests, and that actually manages to do someone, somewhere, somehow, some good.

And money is coming in as a result.

Life is good.

More shortly. All being well.

PS: Just has to be a better way. May have found it, for me. Hope you find it, for you.


Posted September 2, 2013 by Capt. Roy Harkness in Uncategorized

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