Monday, February 29, 2016

Test Two is Done in Beginning Piano and Still Feeling Test Anxiety... Have a good feeling though

Picture of piano keys
Going into the test tonight, I did not feel good about how I was going to do. For once, though, coming out of a test, I feel like I did really good. Not sure if that is good or bad. We get the results back on Wednesday night.

This was a test in my beginning music class over chapter two. Starting to get deep into reading notes and then also needing to be able to know where the notes are on the staff. The test tonight was a combination of needing to be able to recognize whole, half, and quarter notes. But it was also again doing a test with the instructor and having to know where the note on the second line of bass clef is located on the keyboard.

The weekend was spent trying to memorize and prepare for test two. However, it was really spent procrastinating by working on updating the web site, watching basketball, and basically doing anything but trying to study. Thus, I went into the test tonight not thinking I was going to do very well. That "good feeling" was not there and did not have high hopes for doing well in the test.

Instead, I came out of the test feeling good and looking forward to Wednesday when we get the results. Now, it could be a different story once I get the score back on Wednesday and find out how I did. Wondering what I forgot or did not notate correctly on the staff. Oh, so many things that could have gone wrong, but I feel so good about the test.

After I finished the test and headed to the parking lot to meet Carrie, I realized I was sweating like a pig. My shirt was actually damp from where I had been sweating... for a test in piano. Memories of how anxious I would get when taking tests all comes back each time we do a test in the class.

Still having a lot of fun in the class and looking forward to see the results Wednesday.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Updated Web Site for The Dog House with new Design for Blog

Following discussions last week in the weekly #blogchat via Twitter, change have been made to the look and feel of The Dog House. Still working with different ideas, but so far the changes seem to make the site easier to read and navigate.

The site still uses Blogger, however, it is no longer using my custom template. Instead, the site is using a template provided by Blogger that I can change at anytime. Google Analytics has also been updated and tweaked to get a better sense of the traffic visiting the web site as visitors per day continues to increase.

Let me know your thoughts by posting to the comments or send me a tweet.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Connected to Companies via Social Media and Those That Never Respond

So many examples of companies being connected on social media. A few that show up in my timeline are mentioned here. These are only recent replies as there are many other companies that have responded to various tweets throughout the years.

Social Media Examples of Interactions with Companies

It is always fun when a company responds to a posted tweet about their business... good or bad! It helps to make connections. This post was tweeted on February 24 on my way back from Tulsa, Oklahoma when I stopped in Bartlesville, Oklahoma at Taco Bueno. Using Swarm to track locations I visit, usually when traveling, this has happened in the past too with a company companies responding or commenting thanking me for stopping by their establishment.

It is almost so common these days with companies watching FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. traffic, that it is almost shocking if a post is directed at a company and they do not respond. I have gotten to the point where if I am unhappy with a company, I will often times go to Twitter to send them a tweet about my problem. The majority of the time, I get a response from them within a matter of minutes apologizing, asking more information, or thanking me for the comment/visit. Again, if I do not get a response, that is almost never happens. Even with small store fronts, it seems like even they have some type of social media presence.

Many companies have employees hired just to watch for social media comments. Some use automated responses to thank people for their comments. The great sites have real people following and tracking comments and responding to those comments. Both have been experienced and obviously the real person on the other end with answers to questions or comments works best!

Other well connected companies include Dish and Cox Communications both of which are extremely fast at not only responding, but often times resolving issues directly through a tweet or a direct message if needed.

Company is Not Connected

Having a company that is not connected can be frustrating for a customer. Especially if they give the impression of being connected. Send them a message (FaceBook, tweet, etc.) and get no response back at all. Check their history and see that no one has responded to anything that has been sent to them. Very frustrating! Luckily, this has not been a problem I have encountered too often. Or, when it has happened, it has been a local establishment that has a Twitter presence, but has stopped updating/responding to tweets. Might as well delete the account and not entice posts to the account.

Options of course then fall to calling or sending a letter. Yeah, who sends letters any more? So, basically if the company does not have a web presence of some kind and linked to social media, there will likely be no follow up with that company again. If it was something that was perplexing enough to cause me to want to contact them, then maybe their not having a presence will be enough to not want to visit their establishment or use their service again.

The Trend for Social

The pulse for what is the hot item for social connections is constantly discussed on various blogs and articles. There is information that younger adults have moved away from FaceBook and Twitter going to other social mediums that is connected directly with others their age such as SnapChat. It is obvious that for the past few years, companies have focused their social communication to FaceBook or Twitter. Just about every major company has some type of social media presence and usually it is either FaceBook or Twitter. With the younger generation not focusing, or using, these services as much, it will be interesting to see where companies go to get and receive that connection with their customers in the future.


Share your comments about companies you enjoy communicating with or connecting with on-line. Share frustrations that you have had when trying to connect with a company and what did you do to get your frustration heard by that company? Feel free to send me a tweet with your question or comment too.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brief Update on Royals World Series Trophy Tour at Washburn University #Royals #ForeverRoyal

Picture with Royals World Series Trophy

The Kansas City Royals had their World Series Tour and Washburn University was one of the stops, so we had to show up to get pictures. It looked like a good turnout as the line was fairly long when I got there at 5. Took us about an hour to get through to see the trophy and when we left, there was still a long line of people waiting to get into see the hardware.

No mascot or players, but the trophy there allowing fans to take pictures with it and of it. It was fun and glad I attended.  Unfortunately, Carrie has been sick since Sunday and she was unable to attend. I am sure she will see it this year at one of our visits to Kauffman Stadium as it will be displayed in the Hall of Fame.

Congrats to the Royals and thank you for sharing the hardware from the World Series Championship!

Flickr album of all my Royals pictures is below... Spans a couple different seasons.  Looking forward to another fun season!

Kansas City Royals

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Switching from FaceBook App to Web Site Only for Updates and Other Thoughts

Picture of FaceBook App
I made the switch about two weeks ago away from the FaceBook app to only using the Safari shortcut on my phone per the article on 9TO5MacPSA: Switching from the Facebook app to Safari can boost iPhone battery life by up to 15%.  

I have an old iPhone 5 where the battery can barely last to 5 pm during the day.  So, I decided to give this a try. Granted, I did see improvement in the battery, but I think it is more to the point that I am not grabbing my phone each time FaceBook lights up with a notification.  Now, it is only when Twitter or email show there is a notification.  With most of my friends and family using FaceBook, that tends to be the one that lights up the most and has notifications.

I have noticed that my phone battery lasts longer into the evening, but as I mentioned, I do not believe it is simply because the FaceBook app is no longer on my phone. Instead, it seems to be because I am not constantly checking FaceBook throughout the day. This prompted me to do the same with LinkedIn and I removed that app from my phone too.  I set shortcuts for FaceBook and LinkedIn on my home screen and have been using those to get to those pages to check notifications.

Obviously by not having those apps installed on my phone, I miss notifications from those sites where normally I would have received the notifications immediately gone out to view the update shortly after it was posted.  This morning when I went to FaceBook, there were ten notifications going back to yesterday.  I made some changes to have those notifications that use to pop up on my phone to instead send me email for FaceBook notifications.

One bonus, as someone pointed out in the comments section of the 9TO5Mac post, is that now I do not need to have the FaceBook Messenger app on my phone.  I just removed that before posting this update.  I had completely forgotten about that app until now. I did not like having a separate app to chat with people on FaceBook in the first place. So, happy to remove that app from my iPhone.

After two weeks of this change with only using the FaceBook web site from my phone, I have not noticed huge improvements with battery life. It does have me questioning all the apps that I have on my phone and what I could remove and never miss. I do not have any games on my phone as I use to go through periods where I would play a game on my phone for a week or two, get tired of it, and then remove it. 

So, now I do not have any games on my phone. A quick count of apps and I have 53 apps on my phone.  Of those 53 apps, I check maybe 5 - 10 on a regular basis. Sure, I have those iOS apps that cannot be removed too which are not included in that count of 53 apps. Still, of those 53 apps and my only using really 5 - 10 of them, I do not want to remove the other apps in case I might need them at some point. 

In another few months, I will have the new iPhone 7 and then I will decide whether I will keep this app removal process going or give in and install the apps on the new phone.  For now, I am happy to run this way and not stay as connected.

Another Test Coming and Trying to Remember Bass Clef

Not a bad week of class this past week.  We are deep into the second chapter and really focusing on reading music on the pages.  This is where it starts getting a bit confusing as we focus on the notes.  The right hand is not bad for me as at least I can find my way through figuring out the notes.  The left hand though still needs a lot of work!

We have our second test coming up a week from Monday.  I will miss class Monday as I will be out of town, but I worked it out with our teacher.  We are reviewing on Wednesday night when I am back at class for our test the following Monday.  I imagine we will have to play something again for our test and then of course memorization and demonstrating that on the test will be required.  

Before now and the test, I need to focus on memory skills for the left hand or bass clef. I have not problem remembering treble clef with "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and FACE. For some reason, the bass clef is not coming as easy with "Good Boys Do Fine Always" or "All Cars Eat Gas".  Again, I know it is time that I need and simply memorization of those sayings and as we continue to work on the treble and bass clef I will start to recognize the lines and spaces as notes.  I have started to do so on the treble and will continue to work on the bass clef.

Overall, I am happy with how the class is progressing.  I am learning  lot and simply need to put more time into the memorization process.  It is crazy to think that in a few short weeks it will be spring break and we will have a week off of class.

Happy music playing and have a great week!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Freakout Control Diminishes As I Get Older... My Experience on a Swing

Picture of me on a swing following lunch
Following a nice lunch at Cafe Holiday in Topeka with Carrie, brother-in-law Greg, Erin, and then new friends Francie and Jamie, we all decided to head over to the park across the street to get on the swings. Well, a few of us decided to do so anyway....

I am not sure I remember the last time I got on a swing and actually went all out on the swing.  Although the picture to the left does not show it, I was going very high.  It was only a reminder that I am getting older because I was kind of freaked out as I was swinging and not sure how to stop.

I have heard from others that use to love roller coasters that now they cannot go on roller coasters when they are older because of the changes that happen in "older" people.  Yes, I am older at 43 years old.  This was the first time I have felt that feeling... a feeling I really cannot describe... but it felt as though I was out of control and going to get hurt.  I had the feeling I could not stop the swing or control what I was doing.

Now, maybe it is because I am older I do not recall feeling this on a swing when I was young, but this felt like a brand new experience for me.  An experience I did not like too much, so I did some searches and found that it was likely a form of motion sickness.  Or, at least the start of motion sickness anyway.

When I was young, I loved roller coasters, riding anything at the amusement park whether it was a roller coaster or not.  I still think that I would like roller coasters, but this certainly had me wondering if I would be able to handle the roller coasters if I ever make it to an amusement park again.  The feeling I had on the swing was not something I want to have happen again.  Sure, it was fun to start on the swing, but once I got going, I was freaking out inside.  Look at my face in the picture and you can see that there is a little bit of freaking out on my face!

All this makes me wonder if maybe I had the feeling on the swing simply because it had been so long since I had been on a swing.  If I start swinging daily, would I eventually get use to that sensation or would I always feel freaked out about feeling out of control, flying off of the swing, etc.  It makes me wonder about if I am ever on a roller coaster in the future... Could I ever get use to the the thrills, movement, and fast motion of a roller coaster?  It makes me want to at least go out and try a roller coaster this summer.  If it makes me feel like I did on the swing, then I doubt I will ride the coaster more than once.

So, along with needing reading glasses (or bifocals), I also get to experience freaking out on swings, amusement park rides, and unknown future experiences that happen as I age.  Fun!  

Success on First Test and Piano Class Continues to Next Chapter

A good week for piano class!  We got our test back and it was good!  Granted, this was a test on the back of the chapter, but still, it took some memorization, and then extra credit for the timeline.  I got a 93% on the test and then 15 out of 20 points on the extra credit.

The test, I missed a few simply by my wording of the answer on two questions.  One question, I simply miss-answered.  So, that was the 93% on the test.  The extra credit, well, as I mentioned in my  post Monday (Follow up Following First Test in Piano Class), I completely mixed up the composers for the different periods.  Still, I got the correct names of the periods and dates correct.

Overall, I was happy with the result of the test and extra credit.  We are now well into the next chapter and learning even more about quarter, half, whole, and other types of notes.  This is starting to bring back memories from my childhood years taking piano and zoning out when we would talk about the notes.  Nope, I have to stay focused and practice.

For Monday, we have homework (of course) which I will work on today and tomorrow.  We have to transpose a new song we are learning to read in class.  Still, we are not learning the exact notes yet on the pages, but learning how the process will work and how to read both right and left hands with different notes.

It is getting interesting and I continue to see the progress in my learning... even though it seems like we have a long way to go!  We are only on chapter two and lots to learn.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Follow up Following First Test in Piano Class

First test in the books and wait to see how I did on Wednesday.  Felt pretty good after we were done.   The first three questions on the test were playing the piano, identifying notes, and describing how we sit at the piano.  We also had to play our little tune we made up ourselves.  This all went well!

The written portion of the test was not bad either.  I feel like I aced the test.  The extra credit portion which was a timeline with names of periods, dates, and composers for the last four categories, well, I think I mixed up composers for the different periods.

After the written test, we were free to leave.  As I turned in my test I stopped to talk to our instructor to let her know that tomorrow I will finally have a tuned piano here at home.  That will be nice to have it tuned up and ready to play.

Before leaving, I did also practice scales a few times that we will need to use in class on Wednesday.  Overall, I feel satisfied with how I did on the test.  We will see on Wednesday how it turns out and how I did on the extra credit.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Viewing Recent Released Movies and Problems with DVDs that are Scratched

Picture of DVD with a PadlockI have been a Netflix customer for a number of years.  Primarily for the streaming service, but every once in a while there is that movie that I cannot get through the Netflix stream and then only have a few options on obtaining that recent released movie.

  1. Add the DVD option for Netflix.
  2. Go to the local video store.
  3. Pay to watch the recent release for 24 hours through Dish, iTunes, Amazon, etc.
  4. Go to the not so legal side of sites to watch the movies.
To this point, I have primarily targeted options one, two, and three above.  We have actually used option three a number of times through the past few years.  It is easy and quick to get that recent release and watch it when we want.  The problem is that usually just for that one movie it is easily $5.99 (or more) to rent that movie.  Paying for the convenience and so that whomever is selling it to you can give it to you is why they are so expensive.  

So, every now and then I get the idea to pay for DVD delivered to the home from Netflix.  Or, sometimes we get the idea to go to our local video store and pick up a DVD.  Sure, the prices are cheap to go to the local video store, but usually the recent movies are picked over.  Netflix has a descent selection of movies, but even those you have to wait for to get if they were just released.

OK, so why the post?  Yes, I was wondering the same thing about this point.  My point is why do we still have DVD or BlueRay discs?  Nothing is more frustrating than to get that perfect movie for movie night, pop it in the player, press PLAY, and 30 seconds into the movie it pauses... or it just stops playing... or jumps to the end of the movie.  Seriously?  We have a old DVD player and have not given any thought to buying a BlueRay device.  Why would we when it is frustrating to watch movies that pause, jump, or stop playing and get the same problems with BlueRay too?

Picture of character holding a reel of film.So the discs are easy to produce and easy to use.  Easy for the stores (video store, Netflix, etc.) to be able to distribute to their customers.  Bottom line is that the discs are easy to track.  It seems that other than going to the illegal area of streaming that it would be possible to distribute a code that would change each time the "disc" is rented to someone new that would allow that person to watch the video through a streaming service.  Thinking of Netflix, it seems this could be done with a code that is sent through email and entered on streaming device to watch the new release.  A one-time code that would allow access to the movie.

I have read numerous articles regarding Netflix and that they still have millions of customers that subscribe to their DVD service.  I understand that there are a lot of people that do not have Internet or only have means to watch movies on their physical player requiring a disc.  Or, maybe those individuals just like the old school way of watching movies. 

Netflix DVD membership has dropped to 5.3 million subscribers (see 4 Reasons Netflix DVD Rental Isn't Going Away) and that number will likely continue to drop.  I have not read anything about a new model of delivering new content from Netflix or other services other than what some are already doing with paying $5.99 or more to rent the movie.

For now, I will go back to streaming only from Netflix and it will likely be a while before I get another DVD from a store either.  I will continue to rent recent releases from iTunes, Amazon, or Dish. I will be interested to see how Netflix will work into their service to be able to watch those new releases without having to get DVDs.

I would love to hear your comments regarding your experiences with streaming new movies or trying to watch DVD or BlueRay movies.

Enjoy your streaming shows and movies....

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Another Week Down of Piano and a Test Monday

Picture of our Piano at HomeWe have our first test in piano on Monday.  Wednesday, we spent the class period reviewing for the test.  The test will consist of demonstrating that we can play various notes that are called out, knowing the finger pattern for both hands, and being able to play a melody.  For extra credit, we will need to be able to give the history of the piano along with instruments created during various periods of time.  We should also be able to list composers for the different periods too.  Thus, I need to spend time today and tomorrow studying to make sure I can get those extra credit points.

Wednesday we did also spend time learning the major chords.  I do not have a problem with them at this point except for G major which is difficult to key.  I am trying to practice the chromatic scale daily and then also include practicing the major chords each day too.

We did schedule to have our piano tuned which will happen this week.  It will be easier to practice on our piano here at home with it actually in tune.  Not all keys are out of tune, but it does hurt the ears on those that are badly out of tune.  We are using the same person that tunes the pianos at Washburn and was recommended by my teacher.  Looking forward to having the tuning complete and be able to play with the right tune here at home.  I would not say having it out of tune has stopped me from playing here, but not sounding right has me wondering at times whether I am playing the chords correctly.

More updates after class Monday on how the test goes.