Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Course

My final song submission for Songwriting is up, waiting for feedback from my fellow students. They won't actually get a shot at it until Monday night, and I won't get the results until Thursday (and between those days I have to do at least five evaluations myself, and I usually try to do at least 15).

Not taking it easy, though. In addition to all the things I need to do for my family, I'm still loading up on online learning. I'm almost through the first week of Survey of Music Technology, and on track to submit my quizzes on time. The Beethoven and Dinosaur classes start this week. We'll see if I can juggle all three; if not, Beethoven will probably be the first to go, since the one I started is more relevant to my musical goals, and the Dinosaur class is for Danny's benefit.

The boys go back to school on Tuesday, the same day we take Karen's car in for some major repairs so that it can pass inspection. Would love to replace it, but the cost of a reliable used car around here is out of our reach. For now, anyway. Fortunately, Karen has some time off coming, otherwise trying to juggle her work schedule and Tom's would be a nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, I should get myself to sleep; have to help both the working stiffs in the family get to work at the same time tomorrow.

Oh, and as promised, the song: Disconnected.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Under the Wire

I got my song submission in for my online course only two hours ahead of the deadline. It's got a lot of lyrics, and I've been waking up at night trying to turn my ideas into actual lines and rhymes.

Now I just have to wait a few days to see what my fellow students thought of the results. When I do the final version, I'll post a link.

Meanwhile, I think I'll stay busy enough not to dwell on the outcome.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cool Food Stuff

Karen has had the last two days off, and that usually means something different when it comes to food.

Yesterday's dinner does not seem out of the ordinary—steak and potatoes. Oh, but there was that amazing lobster bisque that Karen concocted from the stock she made a few weeks ago and some of the frozen lobster meat.

And dessert was homemade honeydew melon sorbet, which Daniel helped make because a melon that Karen bought a while ago wasn't very sweet, and half of it had been sitting in the refrigerator for awhile. So rather than let it go bad, she and Daniel pureed it in the blender, along with a syrup made with sugar and fresh mint from our garden, and lime juice. The melon wasn't too appealing on its own, but as sorbet it took on a new and delicious life.

Now, Karen actually made a little more of the syrup than the sorbet recipe called for, so she decided to use the rest to make non-alcoholic mint juleps, like we used to enjoy as Disneyland. The result, which had crushed ice in it so that we didn't have to wait for it to chill, was not exactly like Disneyland's. But it was delicious and refreshing.

While Karen and I were out at the library yesterday, we stopped at the local grocery store to shop for meats (our little market has a great butcher and good meat prices). Among other things, we found packages of chicken quarters for 79 cents a pound, so we stocked up a bit.

For today's lunch, Karen tried to duplicate the dish her mother made when she was growing up, which was called "red chicken" by the family. Karen has not been able to find her mother's recipe, but she has become quite adept at finding recipes online and adapting them. The result was baked chicken with a sweet ketchup-based sauce and rings of onion. Karen says it was very close. I just thought it was delicious.

And tonight we made our annual trek to our local Pan-Asian restaurant East of Suez, to get in before it closes on September 1st (which is before Karen's next day off). We had planned to make it dinner for two, but Tom got called to work for an evening shift at the last minute, and so William and Daniel came with. It wasn't their favorite experience, but Karen and I loved the food.

But we are going to have a nice dinner for just the two of us as soon as Karen and Tom both have another day off.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Missed the picture again because of sleeping in. Late night out at the movies. But I'm set for the next six days.

Went to the driving range with Daniel to try out clubs he got for free at the local hospital fair at the end of the last night. He was hitting fairly well by the end of the bucket. Maybe we'll try to find a nice little par 3 to play.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Down, Sort Of

I took the final exam for my course Maps and the Geospatial Revolution tonight and scored 49.53 out of 50 possible points. Now all that's left is to perform peer evaluations of my fellow students, and then find out what they thought of my map. That last part I don't get to do until Monday, and I don't have time to think about it, because I also have to submit a song for Songwriting by then.

That's also the day I start Survey of Music Technology. And just when the last assignment for Songwriting is due, I'm starting Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, and Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology. I'm taking that last one for Danny; he loves dinosaurs, but he's obviously too young to take a college-level course. So I'm hoping to share some of what I learn with him.

Only time will tell if I'm up for a trifecta, but I'm going to give it the old online college try.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I didn't get the new picture in this morning. I'd like to pretend that it's just because I don't get to post enough of Karen and myself together, but the fact is that I had trouble getting to sleep last night and I didn't get up until well after the 10:00 deadline (and there's no way I'm going to be able to do that after the kids go back to school).

But not to fear, tomorrow's picture is already in queue, with more Brooks Bunch happenings on the way. Now I've got to go tend to the home-grown potatoes we're having along with roast pork. Jealous? I though so.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Walk By the Bay

Yesterday, William and Daniel and I went for a walk along Back Bay, off Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro. We've made that walk often; it's one of our favorite places to take a stroll. But this particular walk had a special purpose: data collection.

Over the past five weeks, I've been taking a fascinating online course called Maps and the Geospatial Revolution. During that time, I've listen to video lectures, read course material, and played around with some powerful online tools which are available for free (with limited functionality—limited, that is, if you're a professional geographer; it seems nearly limitless to me). The culmination of the five weeks is to use a map to tell a story, which will be reviewed and graded by my peers in the class.

That doesn't make me nervous. I'm in it for the knowledge, not the grade (it's not a credit course anyway, and I'm not headed for a degree in geography anytime soon). The process itself, though, is interesting. In order to make this story map, I had to go out into the field and collect location data, then import that data into a map that somehow tells a story.

I saw a template that showed points of interest along a particular bridge in New York, and decided to adapt that idea to our favorite walking tour. I could use the same template; I just had to add my own pictures, descriptions, and locations. I had recently read a cautionary story about using a smartphone to take online pictures; people can extract the exact location the picture was taken from the data and sometime use it to stalk people.

Now I wasn't worried about that; it only happens when the GPS is turned on, and I hardly use my GPS because it uses too much battery power. But, I thought, rather than just use a GPS program and write down the locations, why not imbed them into the pictures I take?

So that's what I did. Well, not exactly. I did take pictures to get the locations, but I didn't care that much for the pictures, so I took additional pictures at the same locations with my regular camera, and that's what I posted.

It's not quite as simple as it sounds; the location data from the phone is only accurate to within 35 feet as best, and on a half-nile trail, that can be quite a distance off. But I was able to do some tweaking using Google Maps, and the result is HERE.

Except for some preliminary set-up, the whole thing was done between 3:00 and 8:30 p.m. yesterday, and the included taking and preparing the pictures, tweaking the data, and importing everything into the template. And I didn't spend all my time on the project. After all, I do have a few other things on my schedule.

Even though the class is over, I'm planning to do a lot more with these tools in the future.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Not 100%

Still feeling a little sick, but I don't want to miss the auditions. Already had to sing once today, to submit my song for the class, and I could tell in the recording that I'm stuffed up and raspy. But I'll give it my best anyway.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day At Home

I'm recovering, but still a little achey, so we decided to make it a stay-at-home day (well, except for Tom, who had to work). Managed to finish cutting the sides for Karen's trailer, and do some of the work for dinner tonight (not sure who'd doing the rest of the cooking, but I made sandwich rolls and boiled eggs for deviled eggs). Danny made some Jello for us.

And I did a little writing for the song snippet that I have to hand in for tomorrow on my songwriting class, though I still need to get my voice back to record it. Nothing like working ahead!

With luck, a good night's sleep will prepare me for tomorrow's auditions for Fiddler On the Roof.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

And Now We Are Seven

Today it was my sad duty to remove Bonnie's picture from our header. If you've been following the site you already know that our dear little Cairn Terrier died on July 31st. She was ten years old. I would keep the picture up longer, but looking at it every day is just a little hard right now.

Life goes on, so the saying goes, and so it has. After we left Bonnie at the vet's for the last time, I went to touch-up rehearsal for my most recent play, and performed my best. We did three shows over the weekend which all went very well.

But it's hard coming home late at night, when everyone else is asleep, without having to worry about the dog waking everyone up to greet me. And we haven't yet broken the habit of leaving the front door unlocked and the porch light on until the last of us is ready to go to bed, so that we can let the dog out one more time.

The house is not the same without her.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Going Nowhere

Head cold knocked me flat today, so I'm not going anywhere but to bed.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

North Country

Today we headed north to the White Mountains (without Tom; he had to work). We poked around North Conway, a terrific place to poke around, and visited the Mt. Washington Observatory Weather Museum. Then we took a picnic lunch from KFC to the Swift River, where Karen and the boys (but not me) went swimming

I spent the time working on a class assignment for the online songwriting course I'm re-taking (not that there was anything wrong with it the first time—I just wanted to get a refresher.

Then we stopped at Bobby Sue's for their excellent ice cream.

This is a summer tradition with us, and despite the fact that I seem to have a slight head cold, I enjoyed the day out with my family.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


I finally sold my old car for parts. Here it is on its way to the junkyard:

The car was a good deal; I bought it for only $1800, put about another $1000 into it, and ran it for nearly three years. It's time to move on.

Unfortunately, before we can move on to another car, we need to fix Karen's this month so that it can pass inspection. I sometimes wish we lived in a place where a car is not a necessity. But then, I've never lived anyplace like that.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Back To Reality

Haven't written anything here since Bonnie died on Wednesday. Spent a lot of my time preparing for performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Show's over now, so I have to do a lot of catching up during the next week.

Especially because there's a good chance that sometime soon I'll be starting work on another show.