Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Test Three Done and Moving on to Chapter Four

Test three is done. Glad to be done with this test. I was not looking forward to the test being on a Wednesday. Not sure why, possibly because the previous two tests I enjoyed being able to prepare for them over the weekend. Granted, I could have prepared over the weekend for this one, but instead, I spent the weekend procrastinating and then on Monday decided I needed to study for the test. Tuesday night was the real cram session though trying to figure everything out.

I left the class and the exam feeling good about how I performed. In the first part of playing the piano for the instructor, that did not go great. She had me play one piece showing cords three or four times. She told me I was rushing or making the second and forth the same. We left it with we will work on that in the future. Other than that little part of the test, I felt good about the exam.

Following class, I spoke to the instructor and believe I have selected the piece to play for the final. Possibly this weekend, I will record a sample of where I am at currently with learning the right hand which has only consisted of playing out a few lines checking to see if I like it. This piece is by JS Bach. More on this later this weekend and hopefully I will finalize it this weekend with it being the piece.

The next step for this class is to write a 5 - 8 page paper on Johannes Brahms. This is due at the end of April, so I have some time. Originally, I thought that the piece we were to play for the final had to be tied to who I selected to write about in our paper, but I was told that was not the case. Looking forward to writing a paper on Johannes Brahms. It has been a long time since I have written in MLA style for a paper. I might need to go to the library to research that process.

The struggle continues with remembering the treble clef and reading notes for my left hand. I came across a cool app last night for the iPhone that is free called NoteTutor. I used it some last night following studying for the test and then during the lunch time today. Easy to use and it makes it a game to recognize notes on either treble or bass clef. I think it is going to help a lot with being able to recognize notes on the staff.

That is all for tonight. Have a  great rest of the week and I plan to record something this weekend to post by Sunday with the piece I selected for the final.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Royals Opening Day is this Sunday

Panoramic Photo of Royals Stadium from 2015 Season

Excited for the start of the season for the Kansas City Royals. It all starts on Sunday evening with the Royals playing the New York Mets at 7:30 pm CST. Ready to get the season started and the hunt for blue October going again. A few changes in the team, but the core is back and it sounds like they are out to prove again this season that the Kansas City Royals can play ball.

I was hoping to get tickets to the home opener, but that did not happen. Plus, the tickets are way too much, so instead, Carrie and I will be going to the game on April 8. We then also have tickets to a game in a few months too. My brother and I plan on going to a game in July and just need to figure out when we will be going.

The overall hope is to make it to a number of games this year. Last year, I only made it to four regular season games. Then of course there was the Game 1 of the World Series game which I will never forget and would gladly give up going to regular season games to repeat that experience again. Using the Ballpark app from MLB, it tracks games that I attend and my keeps my record when attending those games. It is cool to be able to look back and see the history of games I have attended. The first game I attended using the Ballpark app was June 8, 2013 and I have been using it ever since to track games I attend. My record since 2013 is 15 - 2 for Royals home games. Not bad!

Hoping the weather is nice for the start of the season. Keep the snow away and get off to a great start! Makes it feel as though spring is almost here with the baseball starting up.

Get ready Royals fans!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Final Four is Set for Next Saturday

The Final Four is set. Only one of the teams that were seeded a one made it to the Final Four. North Carolina took care of business tonight beating Norte Dame. Syracuse beat Virginia to advance. Next Saturday will be (2) Villanova vs (2) Oklahoma and then (10) Syracuse vs (1) North Carolina. One team from Big East, one from Big 12, and then two from ACC.

I was happy today that Syracuse beat Virginia, but then I am hoping North Carolina beats Syracuse next Saturday. Pulling completely now for Oklahoma Sooners to beat Villanova and then beat North Carolina.

Fun evening of basketball. Surprised three one seeds were eliminated before the Final Four. 

Bob Davis Final Sign-off for Kansas Jayhawks

Bob Davis called his last game on March 26, 2016.

Good memories of hearing Bob Davis on the radio. Growing up listening to him call games for the Kansas Jayhawks. Hearing his voice on the radio reminds me of listening to games with my dad or my grandma. Usually listening as we were traveling in or around Lawrence. Of course back when I was young, you could only listen to Bob Davis on the radio. There was not the Internet or listening on our phones.

Sure, he would get excited and you could hear it in his call. I remember listening to Bob Davis call games in my dorm room at Washburn University. He would get excited and barely understand what he was saying about the game. I enjoy hearing him call the games all through these years and that familiar voice.

Hearing Bob on the broadcasts for the Kansas City Royals and then the familiar voice for the Kansas Jayhawks, he will be missed. Great career of broadcasting!

Happy Easter!

Picture of Bunny Ears and Happy Easter

Picture of Easter Eggs with Ears

Awaken today for Easter Sunday to snow again on the ground. We are late into March and yet there is snow once again on the ground. We had a dusting of snow earlier this week too. Crazy Kansas weather!

I recall painting eggs when I was little and then getting up early Sunday morning to hunt for the Easter baskets. The candy was always good, but I still love a hard boiled egg with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Brings back good memories!

Happy Easter to all! Have a wonderful day!

Two Major Upsets Saturday with One Big 12 Team Advancing to Final Four

Big upset! The Kansas Jayhawks, number one seed overall, lost Saturday evening to Villanova 64 - 59. No, we did not play well. We struggled the whole game. Villanova had a good game. They did what they needed to do to advance to the Final Four.

The early game, Oklahoma won and advanced. Leaving only one Big 12 team in the Final Four. Sure, we were hopeful that there would be at least two Big 12 teams playing in the Final Four after Saturday evening, but it did not happen. Oklahoma played very well against Oregon knocking off the first number one seed of the tournament.

Today, four teams play all of which are from the ACC. No doubt that at least one team in the championship game a week from Monday will be from the ACC. Hopeful that the other team that plays is Oklahoma to represent the Big 12.

Kansas did not play well. Perry Ellis was non-existent throughout the game. Not the time to lose one of your best players. Sure, Villanova had a lot to do with taking Ellis out of the game. They had a lot to do with 6 of 22 from behind the three point line. Even though we were playing horrible the entire game, some how, we were still in the game down to the end.

We never got Perry involved in first half and Ellis didn't get himself engaged. --Bill Self

Congrats to Villanova! They played well and did what was needed to advance. Congrats to Kansas on a great season. No, it is not where we wanted to end the season.

All of my tournament brackets are now broken. Even the second chance bracket is gone with the majority of my selections going towards Kansas as did most of the country. Pulling for Oklahoma at this point and look forward to watching the games today and next weekend.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Elite 8 Starts Tonight with only Four Conferences Remaining in the Tournament

The second day of the Sweet 16 to determine those teams that go to the Elite 8 is now complete. Last evening four more games were played. Once again, four more teams advanced to the Elite 8 for a chance to play to make it to the Final Four.

The two number one seeds playing yesterday (North Carolina and Virginia) both won and advanced. Syracuse struggled in their game early against Gonzaga, but ended up winning the game. As you might recall, Syracuse was one of those teams that some were questioning how they got into the tournament on Selection Sunday. Yet, here they are playing Sunday for a chance to play in the Final Four.

Nothing too exciting from the games last night. No upsets and the better seed advanced in all four games. Much like the Thursday night games, there were not any upsets and no surprises.

Tonight Oklahoma verses Oregon in the early 5:09 pm CST game and then Villanova faces off against Kansas in the late game at 7:49 pm CST. The last two Big 12 teams that remain in the tournament after starting off with seven.

ACC: 4

Big 12: 2

PAC-12:  1

Big East: 1

Out of fifteen teams from the ACC, four remain. The ACC has a lot of teams and thus a lot left still in the tournament. Out of ten teams, the Big 12 has two remaining. Not too bad with two teams remaining. Would have preferred to have more of the seven still in the hunt for the Final Four, but we will take what we can get.

Going into tonight, I am hopeful that Kansas plays well. Comes out strong to start the game and stay aggressive throughout the contest. Another late game, but at least no work tomorrow and Kansas is still in the hunt. I am hopeful to post tomorrow with news of the two remaining Big 12 teams advancing to the Final Four.

Enjoy the games tonight!

Progress Update in Piano Class with Test Three Wednesday

Preparing for test three in piano class. As the weeks have gone along in piano, I feel more and more lost. So, that is my fault as I have not been practicing the way I should. Doing nothing for the class during spring break did not help matters and then this next Wednesday we have our third exam of the semester.

We are also supposed to be selecting our piece to play for the final. We started reviewing pieces in class this past Wednesday and the teacher would like for us to have what we will be playing selected by the start of April. There are some suggested pieces and some I have heard, but still trying to figure out what would work best for me to play for the class.

No, I have not forgotten about the paper we have to write too. That is due at the end of April, so I need to start working on it too.

Overall, the class is going well. Some of the items that I missed when I was a kid are starting to sink in and I understand them. Reading music with my left hand is still a struggle. I do intend to ask the instructor what next steps are following the class. If she gives lessons, I might do that with her too. Or try working on what we have learned during the course of the class for six months and then do a lesson. I am not sure yet.

The goal for taking this class was to be able to sit down and site read a piece. By no means can I sit down and play a piece even well at this point. Possibly with the right hand, but even then it will be slow. Possibly as I continue to work on this art, I will get to the point.

With our review for the test on Monday, I will be spending Monday and Tuesday evenings studying and reviewing for the test. Wish me well!

To close, I share a piece my mom shared with me with her being excited I am taking lessons. She sees me playing this piece one day. Enjoy! Ok, it is going to take me a while!

Friday, March 25, 2016

First Round of Sweet 16 Done with Second Round of Sweet 16 Playing Tonight

The first round of the Sweet 16 for the NCAA tournament was not too exciting. In fact, there was not a single upset in the four games that were played Thursday evening. Kansas, Oregon, Villanova, and Oklahoma all advanced to the Elite 8 and will play on Saturday. Tonight, the second half of the Sweet 16 match up. Good match ups in the games tonight.

I for one am happy to report that the Kansas Jayhawks won last night and advanced to the Elite 8. The previous two years, we were an early exit from the tournament the first weekend. KU will play at 7:50 pm CST on Saturday, March 26 against Villanova. Another tough matchup.

Keep your "March" Madness going strong through the weekend....

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Second Chance for March Madness Selections

If your NCAA bracket is like my bracket, well, there is not much left of it. Yes, I have a few of the 16 teams still playing in the Final Four, but overall, my brackets are pitiful. The percentages for my brackets range from 56% down to 4%. Ouch! I am not alone as I have read on various social media and spoken to friends. There is still time to put through your second chance bracket. Start from scratch and try making that perfect bracket again.
Start fresh with the Sweet 16 and put through your new bracket. Try to make up for that first bracket and see if you can get a perfect 16 of 16in this second chance. You have until the first tip which his at 6:10 pm CST on Thursday. Below is the information to join the group.
  1. Visit the link to ESPN which will take you directly to the “Ok this is the Bracket!” group.
  2. Like the first bracket, if you were already signed into ESPN, you can immediately create your bracket. If you are not signed in yet, you will need to sign into your ESPN account.
  3. If you used the link, you should be part of the group. If not, you can search for the group using “Ok this is the Bracket!”. No password is required to join the group as this one was left open to anyone to join.
  4. Enter as many times as you wish (or you think will be needed to get that sweet 16 bracket).
Enjoy and I hope to see you in the group!
Happy “March” Madness!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Field is Set with Busted Brackets and Sixteen Teams Hoping for More

What a great four day weekend! I took off work Thursday and Friday to stay home and watch basketball. That's exactly what I did, not leaving the house at all those two days. Saturday and Sunday, was more basketball, but I did leave the house a few times. There were some great games! I sit here watching the end of the Oregon vs St Joseph's game which is another close game.

The forth day of the start of March Madness resulted in more exciting games! It is going to be tough to go back to work tomorrow after enjoying all of this basketball and only thinking basketball the past four days.

There was at least one upset for the day with Wisconsin beating Xavier. Overall, it was a good day to watch basketball and enjoy the great time of the year!

Picture of my Brackets from ESPN

Oh our brackets! Yes, I remember filling out my brackets under a week ago thinking this is the time I fill it out 100% right. Yeah right! I filled out a number of brackets on ESPN and the only one that I have that is over 50% is at 54%. I am not alone though as the majority of the other entries are just as bad. It is not as though I had Michigan State winning it all of necessarily going to the Final Four in all of my brackets, there were simply some major upsets (see post from Saturday).

My favorite from the weekend was when Carrie, my wife, commented following a game ending around 6 or 6:30 today asking me if it was the last game of the day. No, still more games tonight! Best time of the year!

Carrie enjoys basketball, but only prefers the last five minutes of the game and only really watches one team because I watch them. She spent most of her time this weekend on her phone watching Netflix. Sorry Carrie!

The last game of the weekend is over with Oregon winning. The field of sixteen is set. We now wait for Thursday to roll around so we can cheer again.

First Day of Second Round Done with Two Upsets... One Seeds Advance

First day of the Second round is done and there were a few upsets. The largest upset of the day being  (5) Indiana beating (4 ) Kentucky this after Coach John Calipari was complaining on Sunday about only being ranked a 4 seed. Apparently, Kentucky needed to be much lower because they could not handle Indiana. The other upset was (11) Gonzaga beating (3) Utah, but then it seems Gonzaga is in the hunt every year. 

He might have been joking, but still, it seemed he was upset about the seeding. He can be upset, but Kentucky still lost.

The one seeds for Saturday all won and advanced leaving only Oregon to play (8) Saint Joseph. It was another fun day of basketball with two teams coming back from huge deficits to make the games interesting. Wichita State (vs. Miami) and Yale (vs. Duke) both got down early in each of their respective games by a large margin. Both games appeared to be over shortly after they started... unfortunately both teams came up short and lost to the higher seed. I was hoping Yale would beat  Duke, but that did not happen. I was pulling for Wichita State to beat Miami. Neither of which would have helped my brackets, but would rather see the upset.

Both Big 12 teams (Iowa State and Kansas) moved on to the sweet 16 that played today with one left tomorrow. The last team left from the Big 12 to play Sunday is Oklahoma who will play #10 VCU. Not being sure what to expect from today, I am happy that Kansas advanced to the sweet sixteen. Waiting to hear when Kansas will play on Thursday.

It has been a fun four day weekend with more basketball to go Sunday. My bracket(s) are busted, but still the greatest time of year!

Enjoy the Sunday games and enjoy the "March" Madness!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day Two of NCAA Tournament: Major Upsets and Questioning Big 12 Conference

The second day of the NCAA tournament was not disappointing in terms of major upsets and drama. Ten double digit seeds won in the first round which is a new tournament record.

Immediately following the Texas loss and the debate about the Big 12 conference started in various social media platforms. The Big 12 entered the NCAA tournament with seven teams and we now have three remaining to advance to the second round.  Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Kansas are the only three teams to advance from the power house Big 12 conference. The debate being that maybe the Big 12 was not that "powerful" as the experts said.

This is the NCAA tournament and it is March Madness. It has that name for a reason and the ten upsets today are why this time has that name. Whether or not the Big 12 Conference was the dominant conference throughout the year or not is a moot. To win games and advance in the post season not only takes talent, but it also takes luck. If Paul Jespersen of Northern Iowa would have been a second later with his half course release or been off by just a touch, we would be talking about overtime game instead of the game winner.  Or, if Cincinnati would have been just a second faster dunking the ball, they would have won to beat Saint Joseph. Instead, Saint Joseph won and moves on to the second round. It takes talent certainly to get to this point, but it also takes luck.

We move on to the second round Saturday starting with Wichita State tip off at 11:10 am CST. We know that the field will continue to dwindle and we can only hope that our team is left at the end of the madness. With a bit of luck, skill, and poise and it just might happen.

Enjoy the Saturday games and enjoy the "March" Madness!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun Day of March Madness with a few Upsets and Look Towards Day Two

Picture of March Madness Web Site with First Day First Round ScoresThe first day of the first round of the NCAA tournament is done. What a day of basketball! There were upsets and there was at least one overtime game. Fun day of basketball Thursday for the start of March Madness.

For the ESPN Tournament Challenge (see March Madness 2016 Tournament Challenge Starts Tonight) it did not take long for many of us to have busted brackets. Out of 13 million brackets, there are as of this morning only 25,704 perfect brackets or 0.2% of the brackets that remain perfect according to ESPN Stats &  Info Twitter account.

With some of the standard upsets we come to expect in March with nine seeds beating eight seeds, but then there were also a few twelve seeds beating five seeds. There were actually two of those that happened with upsets by Yale over Baylor and then University of Arkansas Little Rock over Purdue. There was also the expected with Gonzaga beating Seton Hall which was a eleven seed beating a six seed. Expected each year to happen from Gonzaga.

All three one seeds that played yesterday (Virginia, Kansas, and North Carolina) won and moved on to the next day. The only other one seed, Oregon, plays today against Holy Cross. Unless something crazy happens, all one seeds will make it past the first round with a Oregon win today.

Looking toward day two and it will be another great day of watching basketball. Follow live scores or watch online via NCAA March Madness Live. Curious to see how Big 12 teams do today after two lost yesterday.  Five Big 12 teams remain out of seven that made it to the tournament.

Enjoy the day and enjoy the "March" Madness!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New App Called Anchor for Social Networking and Discussion Plus March Madness

Testing out Anchor which allows for back and forth conversation almost like voice messages. Interesting concept. In a recent #blogchat on Sunday evening, we discussed how Anchor could be used in our blogs.

Using Anchor to start a conversation regarding #MarchMadness and linking to Tournament Challenge post from the weekend to sign up for the group.  Here my Anchor and chime in with your own.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

March Madness 2016 Tournament Challenge Starts Tonight!

ESPN Tournament Challenge Picture
This is the best time of the year if you are a sports fan! Baseball is well underway for spring training with opening day just a few weeks away, March Madness is in full effect, and for the golf fans, golf is each weekend. There is always something to watch whether through the week or on the weekend. This week is my favorite week of all. Today, the brackets are announced at 5 pm this evening for Selection Sunday. On Thursday, the real madness begins with games starting mid-morning and going until late in the night.

Each year, there are millions and millions of people filling out their brackets. That is after all part of the fun of the madness trying to pick the team that will win it all. Each year, I have put out a bracket and it is open to anyone. The bracket is on the ESPN web site and the winner gets bragging rights for being lucky and picking the most right.

If you are looking for a group to join, I invite you to join the ESPN Tournament Challenge with the steps below...

  1. Visit the link to ESPN which will take you directly to the March Madness Hopefuls.
  2. If you are already signed into the ESPN web site, you can immediately create your bracket. If not signed into the site, you will need to sign in first.
  3. Join the group and use the password: haverty
  4. After the Selection Show tonight, you will be able to make your picks.
  5. Repeat the above process to create additional brackets. In the March Madness Hopefuls bracket, you can have three entries.

Any problems or questions joining the group, please post in the comments or drop me a message.  Share this information with your family, friends, co-workers, etc. The more entries the more fun it is for everyone.

Good luck with your picks and good luck to your team!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Spring Break Already... Enjoying Piano Class and Practicing During the Break

Piano Keys
At the mid-point for piano class with break in classes next week. I remember years ago when I was a student it seemed like Spring Break took forever to arrive. It would never get here and then it was over before I knew it. Being older, the semester seems to have flown to this point. That's right! We are on Spring Break next week. No class! No, that does not mean that I should not touch the piano at all. Exactly the opposite, I should use the week to focus on what we have learned. 

When we get back to class on Monday, March 21, we will review for our mid-term which we will have on March 28. We will also begin selecting a piece which we will play for our final. For the final, we can take in our own piece that we want to play and the instructor will read through them to see if it would work for us to play. Or, she will provide suggestions in the class which we can play. The final in the class will be playing the piece that we practice and work on from this point to the end of the semester.

Tonight in class, we just started the chapter on starting to play cords. Yes, we just started it and it all seems Greek so far after the first night of discussion. We will focus more on cords and how to read those on the staff after we return from the break. Here I am still struggling with reading the treble clef and we are going to add in playing cords with the left hand. Things are about to get interesting!

Although I still feel lost for some of the discussions such as sharps and flats, I do feel like I am learning how to read notes. Some of it makes sense, but so much still seems fussy and like I will never figure it out.

Last night I practiced the piano playing songs that we had to play in class for tonight. Carrie told me that it sounded good when I was playing. I will make a goal to record some of my playing of the final piece to post for you to hear. That is obviously a few weeks out before that will be posted though.

Do you have a piece you would suggest I play for my final? If so, please post in the comments to share your suggestions.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Continuing to Use Safari App on iPhone for FaceBook Access and Still Working Great!

Picture of FaceBook via Safari on iPhone
It has now been three weeks since the change from no longer having a FaceBook app installed on my phone (see previous post: Switching from FaceBook App to Web Site Only). After three weeks, I am still loving the change. Now, I have not noticed a huge change in battery levels for the phone where it lasts all day or even an extra 15-20% of the day, but it has improved how I use the phone for FaceBook activity. The change has allowed the ability to be more connected with FaceBook contacts and not feel as tethered to my phone each time the alert went off with a notification.


The first thing I did a few days after going to no app on the phone was to enable email notifications for various events on FaceBook. I still wanted to know when an event happened, but not necessarily receive it on the phone as a notification. Instead, I wanted to change it so that those notices would come through via email instead. Making this change to a no-app phone allowed me to control which notifications (via email) I see and how I interact with those notifications.

The other improvement by making this change has been notifications through the web site via the phone. When a lot of notifications would be received on the app, the FaceBook app would display all notifications including those that had already been viewed. It would take a while to scroll through the list and look at each notification. With the web access, this is no longer a problem. It only displays those events which have not been viewed.  Thus, if there are ten notifications, only those ten are displayed making it very easy to see each notice. I have had has many as twenty-five notifications since changing to this method and even with as many as 25 notifications, it was very easy to get through the entire list.

This is an improvement if you ask me as it is event difficult to see which notifications have been checked access FaceBook on a computer. Any notification is displayed and scrolling has to be done to get through the list sometimes and difficult to see which ones have been read or not. Possibly a setting that can be changed, but nothing I ever found to make notifications work better in the app and only display those that had not been viewed.

Future Use

For now, I plan on continuing to use this method to access FaceBook. It is easy and not always reaching for my phone each time the alert goes off for FaceBook. Looking at notifications, I do see much higher notifications since going go this approach. It could be argued that is where the 15-20% battery increase comes in that now instead of reaching for the phone each time the alert goes off, I am now only reaching for the phone when there are many alerts. Or, by knowing what the alert is by reading it in email so I do not have to check each one as I would with the regular alerts.

What Has Been Your Experience 

Have you done this switch? What have you experienced since making the change and removing the app? Share your experience in the comments or why you switched back to the app.