Archive for September 2009


The Story of Mankind, Ch. 34

September 30th, 2009 — 9:20am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

34 The Crusades – 8:54

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

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Fun with Beatles Rock Band

September 29th, 2009 — 11:26am

Beatles Rock Band is such a cool game. We’ve been having a ton of fun with it. We bought an extra mic (tried our own USB mics, but they didn’t work) so we can do two-part harmonies, and Henry’s got a Rock Band mic at his dad’s house that he’ll bring over so we can do three-part too.

The other day Bob and Chloe came over and we played through the entire story in about 4 hours. Chloe drummed, Dan played guitar, Bob sang lead, and I did bass and vocal harmony. It was hilarious and awesome and amazingly fun! And we got the Day Tripper accomplishment.

The game is really well-designed. It’s very simple to just jump in and start playing, and you have access to all but one song from the very start, so you don’t have to worry about unlocking your favorite songs if you don’t care to play through the story mode. Each player can adjust his own difficulty setting before every song, and the various parts have a difficulty gauge so you can see what you’re getting into. You can choose songs one at a time, or make a set list, or let the game choose a random songs for you. I like that mode. Difficulty levels are very reasonable. I can play any instrument on “easy” fairly well, and I can usually manage “easy” bass plus vocals, or “medium” bass if I’m not singing. The more skillful players in the family can handle “hard”, though I’m not sure anyone is entirely comfortable with “expert” yet. Something to work towards.

I’m extremely impressed by the way the game developers translated the music into button-presses. Even on “easy”, the button-presses relate to the music in a very realistic way. As I’m following the symbols my ear picks out the parts and I notice so much that I never heard before! On “easy” Paul is playing a lot more than I am, but I’m still hitting the main notes. On “medium” I follow along with the real music even more closely.

After we beat the story with Bob and Chloe, we took a look (for the first time) at some of the pictures and videos and other extras that we’d unlocked. Tons of photos I’d never seen before, each with a interesting caption. So now we are inspired to go back through yet again and get more 5-star scores so we can unlock the rest of the photos and goodies.

There are endless combinations of instrumentation and difficulty levels so the game will stay challenging and fun for a long time. And we’re really looking forward to the downloadable content that’s coming up. We can get the entire Abbey Road album on October 20th, according to wikipedia. It’s an excellent marketing strategy. We already own Abbey Road on vinyl and CD but we won’t think twice about coughing up another $16 to buy it for our game.

Thank you, everyone at Harmonix, MTV, EA, and of course Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Olivia, and especially Dhani Harrison, who had the idea in the first place!

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beautiful 1930s kitchens

September 29th, 2009 — 10:41am

James Lileks has just scanned and posted a beautiful set of 1930s “Dream Kitchens”. No kidding, these are just marvelous — cheerful, bright, well-planned. (Well, mostly… those space-saving chairs are daffy.)

Your Dream Kitchen

There are lots of glass-block walls. Why don’t I have any glass-block walls? One even extends behind the kitchen sink, brightening up the nasty under-sink cabinet. There’s a fantastic red-and-cream sewing/laundry room with tons of built-ins and another glass-block wall. So bright and cheery! Want.

red laundry room

My dad was born in 1930. I wonder if his mom flipped through the Armstrong leaflet and daydreamed about a new modern kitchen with an easy-care linoleum floor and glass-block walls.

2 comments » | Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 33

September 28th, 2009 — 8:27am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

33 Pope vs. Emperor – 12:07

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

knitted top hat

September 26th, 2009 — 11:28am

I knitted Henry a top hat for his birthday. He loves it!

DSC06030
(Ravelry project page)

Pattern: Hatopia (buy it at http://www.darktwist.com/ or Ravelry)
Yarn: Lion Wool, three skeins
Needles: Harmony circular size 9

Here’s what it looked like pre-blocking:

DSC06022

I knit the hat sides to 11 inches before blocking, instead of the 8 called for in the pattern. Tip: cast off very very very loosely! The hatband is a thrift store belt.

3 comments » | Blog, Handmade

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 32

September 25th, 2009 — 8:37am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

32 Chivalry – 5:01

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

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Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found!

September 23rd, 2009 — 9:11pm

One of my twitter friends pointed me to this story about an amazing discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/staffordshire/8272058.stm

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

“(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.”

WOW! I can’t wait for photos. I’m jealous of everyone who lives close enough to see the treasure in person.

Update: Chris Hughes sent me a link to a photo set: Treasure Photos

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my beloved grill

September 23rd, 2009 — 12:41pm

Dan bought this little “Patio Caddie” propane grill for us back in June (I think). I’ve used it almost every day since then. It’s so nice to be able to cook all the meat outdoors — tastes good and keeps the house cooler and the kitchen cleaner! I even fire it up just to grill hot dogs for the guys for lunch. After months of use the propane tank finally ran dry yesterday while I was grilling a batch of onions to take to the homeschooler park day picnic yesterday. Dan is going to refill it tonight, but I need to plan a dinner that isn’t grilled! Oh my!

photo

It works well, by the way. Yes, it’s small, and if we have Bob and Chloe over for dinner it takes a while to cook everything, but that’s ok, we all just hang around and talk. It also heats a bit unevenly, but I’m used to it and just move the food around accordingly. Dan and Henry are particularly fond of my grilled chicken (marinated in a mixture of canola oil, orange juice, soy sauce, salt, and pepper) and onions (sweet onions cut crossways in slabs and brushed with oil/vinegar/salt/pepper). Sometimes I grill tofu for Chloe and Celia (Trader Joe’s teriyaki sauce adds flavor). I’m fond of Trader Joe’s bratwurst.

O little grill, I love you so!

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The Story of Mankind, Ch. 31

September 23rd, 2009 — 8:24am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

31 Feudalism – 6:58

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

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The Story of Mankind, Ch. 30

September 21st, 2009 — 8:37am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

30 The Norsemen – 4:30

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Hard Day’s Night show, the rehearsal

September 19th, 2009 — 6:46pm

Tonight Rockola will be performing The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night album plus more Beatles songs, yay!!! We love their Beatles album shows. Henry and I have been at the theater all afternoon. Henry gets to do a few percussion and keyboard parts!

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Observations of an Orderly

September 18th, 2009 — 10:45pm

Hey, I just checked the Librivox new audio books feed and noticed that our recording of Ward Muir’s “Observations of an Orderly” is finished and ready to download!

Ward Muir brings us into the heart of an English war hospital, describing scenes of cleanliness, triumph, order and sadness. Through the eyes of the orderly we get to see the processes that kept the wards running, and relive some tales from within the hospital walls.

http://librivox.org/observations-of-an-orderly-by-ward-muir/

I recorded two or three chapters of this one and found it fascinating and very touching. I could imagine Lord Peter Wimsey as a patient in this hospital or one like it.

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The Story of Mankind, Ch. 29

September 18th, 2009 — 7:51am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

29 Charlemagne – 10:04

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

iTunes 9 rant

September 16th, 2009 — 7:19pm

I “upgraded” to iTunes 9 and iPhone 3.1 a few days ago. If you haven’t yet, DON’T. iTunes now crashes about every third time I sync my iPhone, requiring a force-quit and a restart. See http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2151196&tstart=45 I’m at seven crashes and counting. I send in the crash report every time. Is anyone reading them?

Also, Smart Playlists are broken. The look fine in iTunes, but are shuffled on the iPhone. There is a stupid fix for this: uncheck “live updating” and re-sync. But since I have two playlists which are supposed to “live update” themselves every time a new podcast episode appears, I need to edit/check/edit/uncheck both playlists every day. There is some dispute as to whether this is a 3.1 problem or an iTunes 9 problem. Either way, it sucks. See http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=783556

C’mon, Apple. You can do better. Like, try TESTING YOUR SOFTWARE before releasing it.

1 comment » | Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 28

September 16th, 2009 — 7:50am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

28 Mohammed – 11:22

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 27

September 14th, 2009 — 7:49am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

27 Rise of the Church – 13:36

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 26

September 11th, 2009 — 7:48am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

26 The Fall of Rome – 10:27

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Beatles Rock Band!

September 9th, 2009 — 9:55pm

Yeah! What a crazy day! We had a news film crew and a rock band in our house, not to mention the excitement of our new game!

That’s Henry in the green shirt. That’s my messy but interesting house. You might spot my new inkle loom, Henry’s Kung Fu diplomas, the portrait of him that Chloe drew, and Dan’s beautiful photo prints. And my millions of books.

Beatles Rock Band is amazing, really amazing. I’m worn out — more tomorrow.

5 comments » | Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 25

September 9th, 2009 — 7:46am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

25 Joshua of Nazareth – 9:07

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Story of Mankind, Ch. 24

September 7th, 2009 — 8:13am

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon, read by Kara and Michelle.

vanloon_mankind

24 The Roman Empire – 19:20

You can buy a lovely thick reprint of the original book, with dozens of lively illustrations, from http://mainlesson.com.

Impatient? Get the entire free audio book here: http://librivox.org/the-story-of-mankind-by-hendrik-van-loon/

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

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