February 28, 2005

Songs So Far

To keep all you early visitors happy, here's a post-before-the-post. Go to my songs page, and give a listen to all (or some) of the songs that I've written in the past week. Let me know which ones you like, and which you don't like, that would be swell.

I'll be back later.

Songity-Songs

February 25, 2005

Lonely in Chicago

Now, I haven't written a lot of songs in my life, at least not a lot that have really come to be full songs, but I gotta say that I like this one, Lonely in Chicago. As I said earlier, it has a bit of cowboy in it, although as I worked on it a bit more it moved away from the country music that it was born from.

I had just listened to The Last Cowboy Song when I came up with a bit of the chorus (the 'Is it worth it' bit). I wrote the chorus yesterday, and the verses today. Writing today was far enough away from the Cowboy Song that I don't think they sound too much alike.

Let me know what you think.

Working

We've all been quite busy. I have a partially done song that'll be posted later today, and Marion's helping on it. She told me that she wanted to be the drummer, but when I told her that we didn't have a tour bus yet, she changed her mind.

Sad Drummer (mov) 4.2mb

The song is a country song, more in the style of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings than...um, jeez, I don't even know the names of the neo-country guys.

Keleigh has done more work on the design of the site, and it's looking great, I hope to be able to show you soon, but there's still work to be done on it.

February 23, 2005

Tracking Miguel

A friend of mine, who I met through Keleigh, has been out of contact for a couple of years now. We were never really close, so it's not strange that we've been out of contact. Now though, I'm trying to use the power of the internet to track him down, and I have some leads.

His brother was mentioned in a 2003 article in the 'News-Messenger', a paper in central Ohio, and a friend of his has a blog that I found. Strange that I've never been able to find anything about Miguel (the guy that I'm trying to find) on the internet. Even when I knew where he was, there wasn't a trace of him online. There aren't many people that can say that.

I want to get in touch with him for a couple of reasons, one being that he's a nifty guy, and I'd like to talk with him, and another because he's a music producer (like, a real one). He knows more about creating music than I shall know in many years, and I'd love to learn a bit more from him now that I know slightly more than I did when I first went to learn from his band of music-makers.

Wanderin' Jazz

Wanderin' Jazz is my first real attempt to play some kind of 'solo' overtop of a rhythm guitar. It's certainly not a full song, but it's a test of my songwriting in a quite different way.

I remember it sounding better coming out of the amp, and I'm not sure why the recording didn't capture what I was hearing. I mean, certainly I don't have the best recording setup here, but it wasn't so dinky-dink when I was playing it.

The electric guitar bit might sound a bit cut up to some of you, and that's because it is. I recorded the rhythm guitar yesterday, and recorded the lead today, but I couldn't play back the first while I was recording the second, so my timing was off. I fixed the timing with a bit of editing, but it sounds funny now (at least, to me it does).

February 22, 2005

Stair-Master

Apparently Marion got all the stair-work that she wanted to yesterday, because she hasn't been interested in them at all today. Yesterday, however, she was all about trying to get up the stairs, and she was (partially) successful.

I've been working with her, trying to get her to get her knee up onto the next step for the past couple of days, and yesterday she got it. She made her way up two stairs, and then backed down one, before sitting down to take a break. She sat on the lowest step, and watched the cat. She seemed happy where she was, so I left her there.

Yet today, no steps for her. I thought she'd be all about wanting to make it all the way up, but she's more interested in her toys today.

A Lesson in Moving On

Part of what I hope to get from this songwriting practice is learning when to move on. I spent a lot of today's available songwriting time working on yesterday's song, and while it did get further along, it's nowhere near what it would need to be to actually become a song.

The verses are fine, but I can't connect them to the chorus, and when I come out of the chorus, it's just a blank space as I readjust back into the verse. I need a bridge, but I've never been good at finding bridges. On top of that, my voice is ick-tastic, and my range is severly limited by the illness, so I'm sounding stretched in some spots.

So here's the ugly version, not cleaned up at all, as I don't have time right now. Today's song doesn't have a title, so I'll call it Sensory Affair. It's a fictional tale of a man and a woman who shouldn't have been together. I've found that writing each day has freed me from writing just about myself. I feel like I could write a song for someone else, about someone else, and such things, whereas before it was all about me-me-me.

Ah, and this songs showcases Marion's percussive skills near the end. She breaks out the colorful rattle and backs me up. Thanks little girl.

February 21, 2005

Sick Humans, Song Progress

It appears that now is the time to get sick. I've never known so many people to be sick in my world of people to be sick at the same time. I have a cold that wasn't fun yesterday, but isn't too bad today, Marion is still getting over something (quite likely the same thing that I have), and Keleigh appears to be coming down with the same thing too. Outside of our house, my sister is ill (best of luck, eat lots), Keleigh's neice has pneumonia (poor girl, she seems to get it every year), and on and on. I probably know of about 10 people that are sick right now.

I don't typically get sick, and really, I don't know of many people that get sick very often, so it seems strange that all of this has come to pass right around the same time. I know it's winter, and we're all staying indoors and passing germs left and right, but it just seems like too much all in one spot. Let's get healthy people. Everyone take an orange juice break.

On the song-a-day front, things are going well, even with illness. You heard Jungle Journey, Thursday's song, but I haven't heard any response from you about it. I'm not looking for in depth criticism, because obviously this is just a sketch, but if you thought it was amusing, or dumb (or amusingly-dumb), let me know.

Friday's song is tentatively titled Fire in July, and although I like the sound of it, I don't think it really fits with the song. This is a much different song than Jungle Journey, as it's not a children's song. It's a stab at writing something anti-drug, but I feel like it's too blunt. I like the sound of it, but it would need some changes lyrically before I felt great about it. It's also, obviously, not a finished song. I have two verses and a chorus of sorts, but I'd need more to make it a real-live-song.

That the thing though, I don't have to finish up this song unless I like it, it's just a sketch, and some sketches don't ever get finished.

In music-speak (feel free to skip if you're not interested in the details), it's in the key of A minor, which I really like the sound of. The verses are made up of Am, E7, D, and Dm, while the chorus-like bit is C, D, Am. I was trying to go for a Tom Petty/Hayden sound in the vocals, and while I think I got some Petty in there (listen to "slept there" in the second verse and compare it to Petty's "wants to say" in The Last DJ), I don't hear any Hayden.

I'm writing a new song today, and I'm a little worried that I'm not going to get it done by the end of the day, as it's turning out to be lyrically trickier than the first two. I'll post the results, regardless.

I've also enlisted Keleigh to work on the webpage for the songs, and it's going to look so much better than if I made it by myself. It's looking good already, but there's more work to be done before it's finished.

February 20, 2005

Streaming Media Fun

Keleigh and I were looking through our computer's picture files when we found a crazy video that we thought was too funny not to share. We recorded it in order to help Keleigh do a project for work, but she never used it.

She was working on making an animation of a drunk man dancing around and then falling, for a public-health website aimed at teenagers. So, I'm the model for the drunk guy, and although I've never been drunk, I think I pull off the stunt quite nicely.

All for love of science.

And, I want to put in a reminder that I've begun my Song of the Day adventure. I'm going to write a new song every weekday (unless Marion decides that she's not interested in the guitar on that day), because if I don't start writing songs, I'm never going to write a good song. I'll post the songs the day after I write them, as long as I have time. Last thursday's song is Jungle Journey, and Friday's song will be posted on Monday at the latest.

February 18, 2005

Song of the Day

I came to the conclusion a couple of days ago that if I'm ever going to be a better songwriter, I better start writing songs. I can practice guitar scales all day, and not get any closer to my goal of writing songs that people actually don't mind listening to, so I gotta get working.

With that in mind, I came up with this: I'm going to write a song-sketch every (week)day. Now, I'll miss some, because I'll be sick, or Marion will be sick, or we'll have adventures to go out on, but I'm going to try to get one in just about every weekday.

I started on this trek yesterday, and you can listen to the results: Jungle Journey. It's a fun little tune, and I got the initial inspiration from a tee-shirt that Marion was wearing yesterday. Then, in search of more lyrics, my brain went wandering into the whole "hobos, vagrants, and pimps" part. Yeah.

It's just a sketch, and before it becomes a real-live-song (if it ever does) it'll need some more work. I'll note, also, that I'm a bit sick, so my voice is a little crazy.

But the point of this isn't to write an amazing song everyday, it's to write a song every day, and to get better at songwriting.

I'm planning on creating a new page just for these songs, so you can listen to them whenever I post them, and to give you a chance to give me your thoughts. If there's a song that everyone likes, I'm more likely to put more effort into it, and maybe someday it'll become part of the Naughty Frogs song list (which is the goal of every song, don'cha'know).

Family Matters

I mentioned that I would go into more detail later on, and I will. Right now I'm trying to get things sorted out a bit, on a more personal level, as I don't want offend anyone.

I really appreciate the supportive comments that I did receive, it's nice to know that there are people out there that are thinking about me.

February 17, 2005

Christmas, Part Duex

My mom and brother stopped by yesterday, and it's actually the first time that we've seen them since before Christmas, so we exchanged gifts and made the front room look like it had wrapping-paper carpet. Marion, always the star, was surrounded in gifts yet seemed more interested in the bows. It doesn't matter how many microchips the toy has, it rarely can beat a good low-tech plaything.

It was nice to see (a section of) my family again, especially after the 'Great Reveal' of burried emotions, which I'll have to talk about in more detail later, because it's much too big. The short story is that, apparently, I'm "that guy" of my family. You know, the one that no one is really connected to, and no one really knows much about. Somewhere along the way, about 8 years ago, my family stopped being part of my life, and I stopped being part of the family, in all but formalities. Anyway, yes, another time, another story. It was nice to see them. There wasn't any notice of the fact that things were different now, but it was nice to see them anyway.

And Marion needs to have as many grandparents as she can get. Both Keleigh and I were lacking in grandparents for much of our lives (neither of us knew our grandfathers), so we really have a soft spot for the relationship between grand-people. I hope that even if my parents don't ever get to know me (and I'm not saying that's gonna happen necessarily), they take the time to get to know, and to get some playtime with Marion and our future children.

February 16, 2005

Monkey Farming

Google, in all it's glory, is sometimes more precise than we really need. For some reason, someone typed in "monkey farming" -teflon stress, and they came to my site today.

Now, I can understand someone looking up monkey farming, but why would you add the condition that you want to see things about monkey farming, but dear god no!, not when it mentions teflon stress.

That's very very strange. I hope they enjoyed their visit.

She's Feeling Better

Marion, as you may have read yesterday, was feverish and quite unhappy (for 1.5 days). After a nights rest, she's feeling much better. She hasn't had a fever this morning, and she's been a happy little girl since she woke up at 7:30 this morning.

So happy, in fact, that she played by herself while I put some bread together in the bread-maker. We're havin' warm bread at noon today!

this doesn't count as today's post, this is just a baby update

February 15, 2005

Fever Post

Marion has a fever, so I haven't had much of a chance to do anything except soothe her today. When she's napped (and she's napped a lot) it's been on my lap, and when she isn't napping she's not very happy. It's very sad, to see her upset and unpleasent all day, it really makes a dad feel bad.

It's crazy, because this is now her third illness, and she was so sick-free for such a long time. I know that babies are going to get sick, and I know that it isn't really bad for them except that it makes them uncomfortable for a while, but it still hurts me. It hurts me that I can't protect her from this. I'm the daddy, I'm supposed to be able to protect my family.

And I know that I can't. I can't protect her from everything, and really, there are some things that she needs to find a way to protect herself against, but that doesn't make it any easier.

I love my baby girl, and all I can really do is hope that the hugs (and acetaminophen) will help make it easier for her.

February 14, 2005

Time on the March

It does appear that time is moving faster, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older, or because I'm not going into an office each day to work (or because my hair is getting longer). I've been a full-time dad for over two months now, and it really only seems like it's been about half of that. I can't believe that I've been hanging out with my daughter for that long.

It appears that time is going to keep moving like this, from what I've heard from other parents that have chosen to stay at home while their children are young. They've told me that it doesn't slow down, and with the rate that Marion is learning and changing, I really can't see it slowing for me. She has a world of things to learn each day, and I'm here to help her, so there's a world of new thngs for me to do each day.

My brain likes it this way. I've never had the attention span required to do the same job over and over, so I've become bored with my previous jobs pretty quickly. Raising a child is an ever-changing job, and it's well suited for the way that I think, or at least I think it is. I'm ready to move on, ready to tackle crawling up the stairs even when we've just got the crawling in a straight line under control.

Marion and I have things to learn, we're ready to pull the cat's tail, ready to wave bye-bye, and we're ready for the future.

February 11, 2005

Hunting in the Pacific

Keleigh and I have been passively looking for a new car for quite a long time now, and I'm not sure what exactly switched us into active-mode, but it's happened. In the early months of looking we were choosing between the Lexus RX300, or the Chrysler Pacifica. We really liked the luxury features of the Lexus, but we didn't really like the pricetag. We love the look of the Pacifica, and the fact that it has three rows of seating, but the gas mileage wasn't very good. Both models are recommended by Consumer Reports, so I felt good about either one.

In the end, the Lexus' lack of a third row seat, and the base price of around $35 thousand versus the Chrysler's $28 thousand made the difference. As we looked further, we thought we'd take a look at used Pacificas, but because they only entered production for the 2004 model year, there aren't many out there.

We did, however, just find one, and it looks like a good deal. One year of use brings the pricetag down to about half of the base price, and when added together with our down payment, we can expect our payments to be just a couple dollars over $200 a month. Now, the sad (and sick) thing is that we were paying $244 a month for my Saturn. That's just wrong. I shouldn't have bought the Saturn new, that was crazy.

So, we're going to make an offer on this car, contingent on a couple of things getting fixed (there's a scratch in the door that the seller says he's having fixed on Tuesday, and there's a crack way over on the passenger side of the windshield). It may turn out that we have a 2004 Pacifica in the near future, or...maybe things don't work out with this one and we have to search for another. While I'd really like the new car, I'm willing to wait for a good deal if this turns out not to be.

And then, we sell the Saturn. They're selling on eBay for about $3000, and the listings on Autotrader.com have them anywhere from $4000 to $6000. I don't think I'll sell it on eBay, as that's a little too weird, but Autotrader might be the way to go. So, if you're in the market for a dependable car in good shape (or know someone that is), get in touch with me.

February 09, 2005

The End of the Tournament

I was up last night at 4am, because Marion woke up. I went downstairs for a moment, and checked my email, because I knew the results of the Diplomacy game that I was playing would be there (yes, I'm crazy). I fully expected to win the game, so it was just a matter of how big my win would be.

As it turns out, the completely unexpected happened (and really, it always seems to in Diplomacy), and three other players worked together to create a two way draw, not the complete victory that I was hoping for. I was pretty upset (yes, I'm crazy), and couldn't sleep for the rest of the freaking night.

You see, had I actually won the game, I would have made it into the championship game of the tournament, but with the draw, I was about 5 points short. I'll still finish in the top 10 or so, but I needed to be in the top 7 to get in, and I failed. I failed because of many things, but most acutely because I wanted to be nice to someone right at the end of the game. Why, why, why? It's totally not worth it, and that person wouldn't even have blinked had I not done the 'nice' thing. So, I bumbled the call, and I lose (sleep) because of it.

And all this leads me to want to take a break from playing Dip, just for a little while. I've had a eight years (or so) of playing this game, and this is the first time that a game has left a sour taste in my brain.

It's not so much that I lost (or, actually, I didn't lose, I just didn't win big enough), it's that I played poorly enough to get these players to band together against me. They weren't allying against me just because I was the leader, they were working together because they didn't feel as if I'd played a good enough game to deserve the win. I've been better than that in the past. Better tactically, and better in making sure the people I'm playing with like me enough to kinda enjoy seeing me win. I failed here because I didn't give the game enough time, which is understandable, considering my new career.

So I'm gonna take a break, and see about getting more settled into the full-time dad business, and then sign on to a slow moving game. I do look forward to playing again, just not right now. Because right now, I need the sleep.

February 07, 2005

I am Officially in Trouble

Marion, my darling daughter, can officially crawl today. She's been close for the past week or so, but today, she is mobile. This is gonna be fun, and a lot more work.

Here's a movie file if you have the time to download it. It's one of her first crawls. And yes, we are listening to The Little Mermaid.

Marion Crawling 4mb

(Let me know if this link isn't working, last time I posted a movie it didn't work out so well.)

Getting Things Together

Marion is napping, and she went down for her nap pretty easily, which is good. I feel like her naps have been too scattered over the past few days, and I think this has had a detrimental effect on her mood (at times). I'm hoping that I can get her back on track with this week.

At the same time, I feel like progress is being made. While she still strongly associates going to sleep with sucking, I feel like I can convince her that she doesn't have to be sucking in order to be asleep (most of the time). The past couple of nights she's slept better (and therefore Keleigh and I have as well), and I really feel like things are moving in the right direction. I still get frustrated when I do all that I can to help her sleep through her 40 minute nap-wake-up and it doesn't help, but I really do feel like things are moving towards better.

Someday she will nap without waking up (and having to be helped back to sleep) at 40 minutes. Someday she won't wake up at 2am and want to practice crawling. I know this, and I just have to allow her to be a baby, and to need help at this point.

My email is working fully now, and all I need to do is get things organized in my new inbox. It's nice not to have all of the junk that I never dealt with...the 10 or so emails that were hanging around in my umich inbox. Somethings just need to be swept aside, as there are more important things to deal with, and a change of address is a great time for this to happen. So, for all of you that want to contact me, send email to jlee (at) OpenAppleDumb (dot) com.

Keleigh recently asked why I use the (at) and (dot), so I suppose there are others that might be wondering as well. You see, there are nasty little programs that seek out email addresses from web pages, and they put them into lists, and then the people that run these programs sell the lists to spammers. If you don't put your email in standard form, the programs don't see it, and you don't get as much spam. So, there ya go.

We're getting something else together as well, something pretty exciting. We stopped by to look at Chrysler Pacifica's yesterday, because the Saturn is getting too small for our family, and the prices look pretty good. We're not in as nice of a financial situation as we were before I left my job at the university, but we've looked at our finances and we can afford a car, so we're offically in the market. We're hoping to find a 2004 Pacifica from a private seller, probably one with high (relative) mileage for a newer car, because that would help bring the price down from the $28,800 for a new one. Twenty eight thousand is a bit more than I'm hoping to spend right now. Yeah.

And, my game in the Diplomacy tournament is finishing up, this week if all goes well. I'm currently in eighth place, and you need to be in the top seven to get into the championship game. If everything goes as planned in the final turn, I should get about 5 more points, which would bring me one or two points above the current seventh place score. And yes, the person in seventh place is my ally from long ago, who betrayed me in the end, so hopefully I can get the upper hand here. (Chris, I know you're reading this...trying to suck every last bit of Diplomacy info from my mind. I will be avenged!)

And that, my good friend, is what's going on. How about you?

February 06, 2005

A Super Bowl

That was a great game, and the Patriots really are a great team.

February 04, 2005

All Systems Go?

Well, it appears that everything made the transfer just fine, and OpenAppleDumb is up and running again. Look up at the address bar of your browser, remember how it used to say 'www-personal.umich.edu/~jleeum'...and now it's nice and clean. Spiffy eh?

So, update your bookmarks and get ready for a new blogging experience. We need to do something to celebrate, got any ideas?

Oh, and the comments, I hear they aren't working. Um. Sorry. I'll see about that.

Progress

We're part of the way there, hold on to your hats, there's a new OpenAppleDumb server nearby.

I've transferred most of the images and files, and now I'm working on getting the blogging service to mesh with the new home. Fun stuff eh, and all while making sure Marion stays asleep.

Something is wrong with the baby monitor, it's cutting out, and now...it's completely out. Great.

February 03, 2005

Things are on the Move

As you can tell by the mess, things are in transition. I'm changing web-hosts, and I'm hoping to have it done within the next few days. Expect a few bumps, but please hang on, and keep your apples inside the cart at all times.

February 02, 2005

eBay Submissions

If you have stuff in your basement/closet/attic/brain that you'd like to get rid of, and you think it might be worth something, so you'd rather not throw it away, let me know. I've been selling things on eBay recently, and I've consistently been able to get bids that were higher than the average eBay selling prices because I know of a few tricks that help to get the best price. I can do this for your stuff too.

What'll happen is this: You tell me that you have something you want sold, I check it out on eBay to see if it does indeed have selling value. I list the item for sale on eBay, and when it sells I get a percentage of the sale price, the rest goes to you. You'd then ship the item to the buyer (I'll give you the address), and all is well. Or, if you'd rather not ship, I can ship the item for a fee.

So, let me know. I'll help clean up your basement, and we'll both get some money in the process. This works well even for people who aren't in south-east Michigan, as I don't ever have to actually have the item if you're doing the shipping, and you can give me good digital pictures. Pretty smooth, eh?

Send me an email eBay (at) OpenAppleDumb (dot) com, post a comment, or give me a call.

The Knee Needs

Well bother. I really did something to mess up my knee, and it's causing serious difficulties. I typically spend quite a bit of time on my knees (you tend to do that when your main source of company is just learning to crawl), and I do a lot of walking up and down the staircase in order to help Marion fall asleep. These things cause much pain now.

I'm hoping that I've just strained some tendon, and that with some rest it'll stop causing so much trouble. I can't imagine that I've done much damage to it, as there wasn't any single event that did the damage. I've had ice packs on it since early yesterday, so hopefully that'll reduce some of the swelling (there isn't much) and get me back on both legs again.