Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The cough-y house

Well. After two weeks of having what felt like the cold that would never leave, I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. Sinusitis, most likely. Strong medicine, too.

But now, thanks to my illness-induced asthma, I have begun to cough.

I still hope to be feeling better before my gig on Saturday. If this medicine works, I'll be able to sing for an hour, no problem.

If not, expect to hear an awful lot of instrumental music.

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Christmas songs

We pause at last for Christmas past
Simplicity of Babe and creche
We sing the songs, confess our wrongs
As hearts of stone are turned to flesh

If you are looking for the lyrics to my Christmas songs, here are the links:

And God descends and calls us friends
And grants the presence Jesus gave
We eat His meal and humbly kneel
Before the Son who came to save

Come and sing along at my gig Saturday afternoon at The Anchor Room.

How I spent my Saturday

But I'm not done yet. We bought a few more boxes of lights for the downstairs windows, which are still bare.

I want our house to be seen from space.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New gigs for December and 2006

UPDATE: The Dec. 17 gig at The Anchor Room has been canceled. By me. I may try to get another gig on a different day instead.

The good folks at The Anchor Room are allowing me to perform a Christmas gig during December. Plus, I have three new gigs to mention for 2006.

The December gig is on a Saturday afternoon:

  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 2005, from 1-2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005, from 1-2 p.m.
The gigs for 2006 are:

  • Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Friday, March 10, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 12, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
And and always, go to the engagements page for more details, including maps.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Two updates

Some very small, but good, news:

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Joke o' the day

While looking through cookbooks, Mary said:

I found a recipe for leftovers, but it takes two days to make.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This is your brain on sleep

This is a repost of something I put on a former blog on Feb. 17 -- but my wife still finds this funny:

Someday, it is our hope that science will discover the secret part of the brain that gives my wife such wacky dreams.

In her dream earlier this week, a couple of close friends were arguing. Then Friend 1 accused Friend 2 of just being “hypochronical.”

Not “hypocritical.” “Hypochronical.”

Now for the funny part.

In the dream, my wife does a double take and thinks to herself, “How does a woman of that intelligence make a mistake like that? She made that word up!”

Part of me wants to make fun of my wife for having a brain that makes up weird words, broadcasts them in the middle of her dreams, and then alerts her while she is still dreaming that it made up a weird word.

But making fun of her would be hypochronical.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer

So, why am I buying the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer?

As many of you know, I've been experimenting with doing some home recordings of some of my songs, perhaps even to be able to produce a demo CD.

I own an eMac, which is cool enough, but I also have GarageBand, an easy-to-use and dirt cheap digital recording application. I've have plenty of success recording from my keyboard -- actually, I'm recording MIDI notes from the keyboard, not its actual sounds -- and you can even listen to and download two of my songs over at my downloads page.

But I have not been able to record any good vocals. The problem is one of impedance.

Most devices you plug into your computer or stereo have high-impedance signals that need no boosting -- the sound comes in at a level that can be heard by whatever you're plugging them into. But, as the folks at MacJams say:

professional-level microphones are typically low-impedance signal devices. ... As such, if you plug a good quality mic directly into your Mac, you won't hear anything.

And I wasn't hearing anything. I needed something to boost that microphone signal so my Mac could hear it. And the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer does just that.

But it doesn't do just that. The Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer also has separate EQ channels for each track.

EQ is just music-geek for equalization, which is still music-geek for the adjustment of highs and lows of sound. Simple EQ adjustments are your treble and bass knobs on your car radio. By using the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer at my gigs, I can adjust the highs and lows of my vocals separately from the highs and lows of my piano, so if my vocals are too "bass-y" and the piano is too "treble-y," I can adjust each.

Which means a better-sounding gig for you.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Fueling up, cleaning up

After this spread, how can you not work in the yard all day?

Mary and the girls -- Sarita, at top left, and Hannah -- put together a great brunch for us this morning, so we men would have plenty of energy to clean up the yard all day.

(If you're wondering, "Clean up what?" check out this post about the tree that fell into our yard.)

Micah, Caleb and I were able to clean up a lot more of our yard today. We have 11 bundles of sticks at the curb and at least that many sore muscles a piece.

But what was really fun was climbing on and over all the fallen logs in the yard. Here, the girls try walking down one of the logs.

And here, the boys try to shake them off.

And here, Hannah (in green) plays cowgirl, while Sarita wields her quarterstaff.

Plenty more to clean up tomorrow.

Wind damage in Fort Wayne

Click on the photos to see them larger.

Some concerned relatives heard about tornadoes in Indiana and called us to make sure we're OK. And we are. The tornadoes ravaged Evansville, which is at the opposite corner of the state, about a 7-hour drive away.

Instead, Fort Wayne received 60-mph winds Sunday morning. About 24,000 people lost power locally. And many trees were knocked down.

Including the one in the backyard of our next-door neighbor to the west. His tree is now taking up most of our backyard.

Above is the scene that greeted us Sunday morning from our bathroom window. Our neighbor's three-stories-high maple was shorn off during the winds and landed mostly in our backyards, but not before gouging a hole in the corner of his two-story garage.

At right is the tree now. You can see where the uppermost part of the tree was stripped off, like string cheese.

As far as anyone knew, the tree was completely healthy. We had a similar, but much larger, tree in our own backyard that we had taken down a few years ago because its roots were digging into our sewer line. I can only imagine was a mess we'd have if that tree would have been knocked over, too. It was enormous.

Neither house was damaged at all on Sunday, and for that we're thankful. But I feared that everything under the tree in our backyard was decimated.

For example, see the white boards in the photo to the right? Those used to be connected to one another.

Micah, Caleb and I constructed, painted and installed two grape arbors in the backyard, and Mary was training some grapevines to climb them.

So, now we're pretty sure this one will have to be replaced. (We found out later that we may be able to repair the second one.)

Also, a chain-link fence separates the properties, and a couple of lengths were smashed to the ground.

But as I looked around yesterday, we began to see that maybe damage was not as bad as we feared.

Our shed, pictured at the top of this post, was also hit by the trunk of the tree. But it seems to have received only superficial damage to a shingle or two.

But this was heart-breaking, at least at first.

Notice the two kinds of leaves in the photo. The huge maple tree crashed down around and on our little cherry tree. The smaller oval-shaped leaves are on the cherry tree.

We had planted the montmorency cherry tree a few years ago, and it was finally big enough this year to give us enough fruit for a pie. And so when I saw this, I thought that no way would this little tree survive.

But Micah, Caleb and I went to work on the yard later in the day, and with a couple of hours of work, we were able to save at least two-thirds of the cherry tree's branches. That's very good news, for that gives the tree a good chance of survival.

Someone took this photo just to prove that I did not force the boys to do all the work.

Here's a picture of what the yard looked like after we cleared some fallen branches from around the cherry tree, which is at the far left of the photo.

So today, it's more yard work for all of us.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Happy birthday cake

My dear Mary has another winner for the birthday cake for church today. (Click on the photo to see it larger.)

Especially note the bears that are toasting marshmallows.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Next gig: Friday, Nov. 4

Clear your calendar: I'll be playing my original songs at The Anchor Room in Fort Wayne on Friday, Nov. 4, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

More details, including a map, on the engagements page.