Life Playlist – May 2012

We were glad to welcome my parents to town for a couple days this month. We packed a lot into our two days including the Jersey Boys musical (good music and stage sets, decent acting) and the Titanic exhibit at Union Station. The Titanic exhibit was interesting, if a little pricey, but we got an even bigger kick out of the $15 deck of playing cards in the gift shop. I just don’t understand. Anyway, in the museum I was struck by the list of survivors- most of them were women, and most of those who perished were men. I wonder if that would happen today. The exhibit definitely made me want to learn more about the event.

We also went to our first Royals game of the season and had a great view thanks to our good friend Jim. Sadly, Kansas City ended up losing in 15 innings.

A bonus at the Royals game was a little concert preceding the game by Oriole Post, one of our favorite local bands. They even played a couple new tunes. It was a great night for music and baseball.

Other minor highlights include dodging a tornado at home (we could see it from our back deck) and inviting a pest control guy over to get rid of some stinking birds in our attic. They were taking over and it became a larger project than I wanted to tackle myself. Sunflower Pest Solutions came over and did a great job of quickly removing some birds from my attic and patching up the hole where we think they were getting in. It’s now MUCH quieter around our house so hopefully they went and found another home.

As promised, here are a couple pictures of the state of the basement. As of this writing I have finished framing and running wire. I have a bit of plumbing to do and then I will call for rough inspection. I think things will move more quickly after that.

I had to route the PVC from the sink drain the builders left to the vent pipe in the ceiling.
Vent for bathroom sink. Just like playing with legos...
Left from the previous homeowner. Generally mixing colors in a junction box is a BAD idea.
What NOT to do. Check out this gem I found from the previous homeowner. I figured how how it works but it still seems like a bad idea...

Finally, our big May event was our trip to Colorado. We went for the wedding of our good friend Ty and while there played golf (ha!) hiked, rode horses, and went on a zip line. We also got to see both of our families on the way out AND back. I’ll post separately about this trip.

Baseball triple play – I don’t know where I saw this or who is in it but it’s such a beautiful thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqde2sPMLNw&feature=related
I love baseball.

John Mayer clinic at Berklee – If I had another shot or two at life I’ve always thought it would be fun to really pursue music as a career, whatever that would look like. I’m super fascinated with the thoughts and stories of artists who have “made it” so I was pretty ecstatic to run across this video series of John Mayer talking about music theory, songwriting and his music to students at Berklee college. I don’t tend to follow John Mayer outside of his music, but I found him surprisingly articulate and was impressed with his ability to stand up without a script and share thoughts for an hour or so.

Lost and Found kickstarter project – A band that played at a few youth conferences I attended years ago has launched a kickstarter project for their latest record and to help cover expenses due to not being able to tour due to cancer treatments. (If you’ve seen them live, you understand why touring is a most significant revenue source for them :-))

rainymood.com – I ran across a link to this website when I saw someone recommend listening to certain songs while this website is simultaneously loaded in the background. I got a kick out of it. It helps if you’re in certain moods. Try it!

GPS Tip #3 – “Find Near”

A relative of mine was recently having some difficulty finding certain points of interest he knew existed in his GPS. Sometimes if you are searching for a hospital, for example, that is several towns away, there are so many other hospitals between you and your desired hospital that the list fills up before you see the one you’re looking for.

By default, Garmin will always search near where you currently are. You’ll get a list of places sorted from nearest to you to farthest away. One tip for finding these places is to use the “Search Near…” feature.

Click the Menu button (three horizontal bars) to view the Near... popup

By using the “Search Near…” feature you can search for places starting nearest to some other point of your choosing, whether that may be another city, a “favorite” Point of Interest you’ve already saved, or your current destination if you’ve entered one in. I find it easiest to try and locate known places by searching near the city it is in.

Search starting near a different city, a "Favorite" you're previously saved, or your destination.

Another useful application for the Near… function in browsing for places such as food or gas near another area such as your final destination. Perhaps you aren’t hungry yet or don’t need gas now, but you know you will when you arrive at your destination. You can use “Near…” to see what points of interest are available near your destination. Once you find what you’re looking for you can either start routing to that point right away just click on that point of interest and save it to your Favorites if you want to visit it later.

Life Playlist – April 2012

Messiah Festival in Lindsborg – We took a couple friends to Lindsborg to hear Handel’s Messiah on Easter Sunday. I had seen parts of this performance as a kid, but admittedly I was dragged there. This time, under my own power I went for the whole thing and enjoyed it immensely.

I had high expectations for the Hallelujah Chorus and wasn’t disappointed. It was also inspiring to see people I knew singing and playing- some for their 30th time and others their first.

Credit: bethanylb.edu

Logical Fallacies – I have an unhealthy appreciation for recognition of logical fallacies in argument. I think this site I ran across this month (or something like it, such as a college level critical thinking class) should be required reading before anyone is allowed on the internet, or at least before posting any comments. Actually, this should be a requirement for every college major in the universe, if not a high school diploma.

I think the snarkiness of the site is a little overboard, as I won’t be using the site to bash people over the head for logical fallacies committed, but surely as people identify fallacies in others’ arguments, they’ll begin to recognize them in their own, right? RIGHT???

So a Polish Dentist’s ex-boyfriend walks into a dentist office… It’s bad I think this is so funny but a Polish female dentist had her ex-boyfriend in the office for a sore tooth and decided to remove all his teeth as some twisted form of revenge: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/dentist-pulls-her-ex-boyfriend-teeth-split-210829769.html

Basement Finishing Project – Construction on the our basement finish project is back in full swing, after an unexplained lull. We got the bathroom/den area framed. Next up will be the lowered ceiling in the bathroom followed by running water supply lines. Pictures next month.

Listening to:
– I am trying out Ray LaMontagne at the suggestion of my friend Rob. I’m not latching onto this as quickly as I do with some other music, but it’s not bad. Side note: I might go crazy if I hear “Trouble” again. Side note #2: Same goes for any arrangement of “Hallelujah”.
– Next up: Punch Brothers

Watching:
Psych. We’ve really gotten into this show in the last few weeks. It has a nice balance of humor, drama, and I suppose some suspense.

Life Playlist – March 2012

Beth’s mom made a quick trip to KC in the middle of the month to help celebrate Beth’s birthday. Among other activities the two ladies worked to create some much needed decoration for our living room walls and ended up with this:

Beautiful!

Wichita “vacation” and Gungor concert with The Brilliance – Toward the end of March Beth and I took a few days off of work to head to Wichita to visit Beth’s sister and sister’s boyfriend. While there we got to see a Gungor concert at the very cool Orpheum Theatre. We got VIP tickets so we could ask questions of Michael Gungor before the show.

Gungor put on a great show and the surprise of the night was opening act “The Brilliance”. They fit in great with the mood of the night.

We spent the next couple days hanging out in Wichita, eating donuts, walking the river and having fun.

Project #1 – Garage door – We’re not usually short on repair projects, and this month was no exception except for the fact that I paid real live experts to actually do some of the fixing. Project #1 was our garage door. I came home from work one day to discover that the opener just wouldn’t open the door. I could hear it trying, but failing. I was able to get inside with my key (so old fashioned!) and went into the garage to find a broken torsion spring.

Broken Torsion Springs

I asked around at work and got the name of Harm Waterborg, who came out the next day and with great skill and service replaced my two springs and got our garage door running more quietly than it ever has. I highly recommend Harm if you need any garage door service. He’s out of Gardner, but also operates throughout Kansas City.

Project #2 – our front windshield – Starting at the end of last summer a crack was working its way across the windshield of our car. It stopped expanding for a few months and now with the relative heat of Spring the crack has made it the rest of the way across the window in no time.

I chose to schedule an appointment with SafeLite online, which was super convenient. I had them come to my workplace and while I was working away at my desk their technician had a new windshield on in about an hour. I was impressed with his work and explanation of what he was doing and certain difficulties he may encounter based on looking at my car before he started (namely, rust on the frame around the window).

It’s been a few days since the installation and though it hasn’t rained yet (so I can’t check for leaks), based on my experience I’d recommend these guys.

March Madness – How can one mention March without mention of March Madness? I have loved Kansas basketball since I was a kid, and my wife is even warming up to them a bit herself. We have enjoyed watching them progress through the NCAA tournament enjoying games with friends and family.

The Brilliance – Dust We Are and Shall Return

Window Replacement – Jan/Feb 2012

As part of our basement finishing project, my wife had the great idea of replacing the tiny window on the back of our house with one about twice the size. Miraculously, there was a stretch of about 3 warm days at the end of January which is exactly what I needed to put the window in, caulk and paint before bad weather came (which it did). With the help of my good friend Joel we managed to install this thing with very little trouble:

Finshed window on back side of house
Finished window installation

Here are a few more pictures of the process. I got my window at Home Depot. Our biggest challenge was the fact that I bought a “new construction” window, but probably shouldn’t have since my house has siding on it already. We just cut the siding back a bit more to nail the nailing fin in, and caulked liberally around the fin and when attaching the trim pieces.

You may have noticed it looks like it is dark outside by the time the new window was nailed into the rough opening. Yes, yes it was. I took the final picture the next day once it was light again.

Finally, if you’re in the Gardner area you should know I couldn’t be more pleased with Construction Materials, Inc (CMI) in Gardner. They were very helpful in supplying everything I needed for this job including trim, metal flashing, trim nails, roofing nails (for the nailing fin), lumber for the new header and caulk. Now if only they were open on Saturdays…:-)

Life Playlist – Feb 2012

New window – One of the more significant house projects this month was installing a larger window on the back side of our house. That project deserves its own blog and will come later this month.

A painter’s joke – Related to the window project, as I was reading up on how cold it can be to paint outdoors a guy on one website said, “If it’s too cold you’ll have to use two coats. Get it? Two coats!” Very funny.

Lemon Cooler CookiesLemon Coolers – My wonderful wife’s keen eye caught these cookies that are now back in production. Over the years I have described one of my favorite cookies from childhood, which was shaped like a vanilla wafer, but has a nice and sour lemony coating. These cookies matched the description exactly, and while they taste great, they aren’t the same as the originals.

I had to know if anyone else shared my experience and sure enough the Internet did not let me down. This page pretty much exactly describes my sentiments. My favorite line in this blog post is when she says, “Are they the same? Close enough to make me smile.” Exactly. Side note, I have tried one of the recipes on the web and they turned out about as good as these new boxes of cookies.

“Good morning, LOSER!” – On the topic of baked goods, I was feeling just fine about myself and my day until I happened to glance inside my Pop Tarts box and notice this message:
Sorry! You're not a winner!
Thanks Kellogg’s!

Trip to the homeland – We made spontaneous and quick trip to Lindsborg in mid-February to spend the day with our families, in particular to celebrate our dear sister’s birthday. We also got to see a couple wonderful friends before they move away for a change in job. Fun was had by all and as a bonus my parents had just returned from a cruise so we got to hear all about that

Stop this Train – a longtime John Mayer favorite of my wife’s, I have been coming around to this song for awhile now and hope to learn it on guitar soon. Not as easy as it looks, folks! Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQDxtzf-FDM

Matthew Mayfield – Missed Me – I first learned of Matthew Mayfield through NoiseTrade, a brilliant site co-founded by one of my favorite musicians, Derek Webb. I LOVE this song and video by Matthew Mayfield. Good ol’ rock and roll.

I’ve saved the best for last. My friend Joel sent this fantastic video of a popular English yard game. Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUVrvOSDQ-s

Line 6 DL-4 Footswitch Replacement

If you’ve found this page you surely know exactly what you’re looking for by now. Below are a few thoughts from my experience of changing out the mechanical, failure-prone “spring” switches of the DL-4 and replacing them with something more reliable, quieter, and smoother to press.

Here is what the original, mechanical switches look like:

Stock spring footswitch for DL-4
Stock spring footswitch for DL-4

I have VERY limited soldering experience but I think I could have done this on my own. Despite that, I enlisted a generous and more experienced friend to help me replace these DL-4 switches.

From what I read, people tend to want to change these switches because the springs either break or simply stop switching reliably. I was starting to experience the very first signs of unreliable switches (“hey, I thought I pressed that button…”) and so I chose to preemptively swap them out. We used the following resources:

1. Instructional video on youtube

2. Written instructions on Gear Page forum
3. Replacement Switches source (order 4 of them) *Updated broken link* (If necessary in the future, search smallbearelec.com for SKU 0206A, Momentary SPST “Soft-Touch” switch.)

The only real comments I would add to the video and forum post above are as follows:

– The six rotary knobs are very difficult to remove in the disassembly process. I ended up wrapping a layer of electrical tape around each switch and then using a large set of pliers to pull them straight up and off. I found it easier to put my pliers on the “long” way across the knob instead of the “short” way. That is, there are two orientations in which you can grab the knob. Use the way that opens the mouth of your pliers more widely. Pull straight up and be careful to not bend the knob too far side to side. Some folks say to use a screwdriver to pry the knobs off. I had no luck with this and don’t recommend it.

– You do indeed need to file or cut out the little metal nub on the DL-4 enclosure. The replacement switches I got have a groove but if you line up the groove with the nub, the new switch will not fit in the enclosure. In theory the switches could spin a bit without the nub, but just tighten the nuts down well when you re-assemble.

– The video and the forum I’ve mentioned show opposite configurations for where and how to solder the wire. Either one will work.

– The total height of the switches is just a little too high. We had them sticking out the hole on the front of the enclosure as much as possible (which I recommend), but we still had a hard time getting the back of the case to close flush. I think I ended up taking out the large middle stand-off screw completely.

– Be careful to not bend the long posts that the LEDs are mounted on when you’re re-assembling the unit.

If possible I’d test out the unit before putting it completely back together to make sure your wiring is good. That’s it! Once I had the pedal disassembled, the process took us about an hour. Here’s the finished product:

New footswitches for DL-4
New footswitches for DL-4

Life Playlist – Jan 2012

Inspired by my wife’s monthly posting of pictures in 2011 with her new camera, I thought it would be fun to document what I’ve been up to this month – January 2012.

Giving Blood – I gave blood for the first time on January 19, compelled by my dad-in-law’s loss of 9 units during open heart surgery a few months ago, and subsequent survival due in part to generous folks who donated their own blood not knowing if it would ever even be used. I was so grateful at the thought of strangers doing that I decided to contribute my own. I was prepared for some pain but it really wasn’t bad at all. If you’re so compelled, the Red Cross website does a great job of letting you know what to expect and you can see where the next blood drive is taking place near you.

I LOVE this article about a “cash mob” at a local hardware store in Ohio. One resident got the idea to email 40 friends asking them to spend $20 at the store on a certain day. Word spread and the article describes the outcome.

Line 6 DL-4 Switch Replacement – I started writing about this here, but it turned into it’s own blog post. I’ll probably post that within the next month. [Update: link here]

Standing at my Desk – I’ve joined that group of crazy people who sometimes stands at their desk as they work. I’m fortunate to have a desk at work that can be instantly raised or lowered, so I end up standing about two hours a day. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, but I recently ran across an infographic titled, “Sitting is Killing You” that kind of pushed me over the edge. It’s been a good experience and I think I’ll keep doing it. I’d never stand ALL day, but now I don’t have to sit all day either.

Italy: Antique and Modern Genius – I got this great coffee table book for Beth for Christmas. It has pictures of all the places we saw on our last vacation including our favorite little area, Cinque Terre.

Gungor – Ghosts Upon the Earth. I did something a little different when listening to this album. On Gungor’s blog, Michael recommended sitting down, reading all the intros to the songs on his blog and listening to the album as a whole with no distractions. The album attempts to create a musical picture of The Creation, the Fall and redemption. It’s interesting to see how various songs grow on you and also to find out others’ favorite songs from this album.

Forever Reign – Hillsong – I like this sound of this song though I don’t normally enjoy watching worship videos. We plan to introduce this one at our church in the near future.

Life playlist – Dec 2011

Just a few links from my life in December. These are things I’ve read, listened to or otherwise found interesting this month:

Woman finds wedding ring on carrot after 16 years – This woman (A SWEDE, no less) pulled up a carrot from her garden and attached was her wedding ring, lost 16 years ago. Read all the details, including bonus information about their pet sheep, and a family picture taken with such excitement that her husband didn’t even waste time taking off his headphones.

Here’s a fantastic article I read about the state of transportation security, mainly as it pertains to the TSA and airline “security”. The author’s position is pretty much consistent with my own. He articulated it well and while his position is clear, I found it to be an honest and fair assessment. I’m not against security or spending money on security. I also understand my inconvenience may be part of the package. However, let’s (the government) just be honest with ourselves and with the American people about what threats we face and what we’re REALLY accomplishing by spending this money and implementing these programs.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming annual reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail on Jan. 16. He is responding to a letter from Alabama clergymen which can be found here. The clergy is asking for King to stop demonstrations and “wait” for the racial matters of the day to be worked out through the legal system. King responds. I think the letter is a near-flawless example in persuasive argument and his appeal is profound and morally convicting, surely even then.

On a less serious note:

Good Love is on the Way – John Mayer. I’m currently working on learning this one on guitar. Very fun.

Gravity – John Mayer with Keith Urban. Someone pointed out to me the pickup switch he flips at 6:07. Brilliant!

Boss DD-7 – an excellent Christmas gift from my wife. Just what I wanted!

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay
Boss DD-7 Digital Delay