The Pedal Itch.


So, we all know I have a thing for guitars. I like ’em weird and I like ’em cheap. Anyone who plays & reads about guitars on the internet knows about the reality of G.A.S. and all its warning signs.

The Falcondrive guitar pedal from Rude Tech & Eaglebones Falconhawk (Ian Fowles) of The Aquabats!
Rude Tech Falcondrive

I only have a few pedals. I mean, I could always use more. Right? I think the Falcondrive sparked this most recent attack. Eaglebones Falconhawk is the renowned stringman and Fender aficionado of the insanely fun band, The Aquabats!

It’s overdrive and distortion all in one… and I like all kinds of noise. I like high gain, overdrive, distortion, chorus, fuzz… all of it.

Eaglebones sounds great, and he’s a killer player… this takes two of his older beloved modified pedals and combines them all into one package. What’s not to dig about it?

Yeah. That got my interest piqued. Then between AliExpress and Amazon, I ended up in a cheap-ass pedal deep dive. I love cheap gear. But not garbage. We’ll say inexpensive gear.

Mooer E7 | Mooer Pitch Box
RudeTech Falcondrive | Flamma FC01 Drum Loop

How do the algorithms know? They’re listening. They’re reading. They’re watching. They’re pressuring.

I have sort of always been looking at an EHX B9 or the Earthquaker Organizer (or the EHX C9, Bass9, Key9. or Synth9 really). Honestly though, let’s face it; Most of my guitars cost as much as or less than these inarguably awesome quality pedals.

I found a super cheap and entirely crappy sounding sort of competitor online, then I found a slightly less crappy but seemingly more useful competitor online… still also pretty damn cheap.

Obi Wan, doing the thing.  👋
“You want to buy the pedals.”

Behold the Aural Dream Organ Synthesis B & Organ Synthesis A. They sound like hot buttered ass.

That though, somehow led me to this, which does not sound super terrible: The Mooer E7 Synth. It is not quite as expensive as the big boys, but also doesn’t sound like a dying sound card from a Commodore 64. (Arguably, even that could be a valid fun sound to chase… but if you’re not going for that, then you probably don’t want it by accident.)

Why do I want a synth pedal? Because, for years when playing out in bands, one of the songs I always dug covering was “Cool Kids” by Screeching Weasel. It has two super short keyboard parts that I always just played on the guitar. I would be immensely amused by the 3½ seconds of satisfaction that would provide.

That’s how G.A.S. works, right?

That led me to the Mooer Pitch Box. I don’t even need a pitch box, but is sure sounds cool. And it’s cheap. Damnit. That just led me to the even cheaper VSN Harmonizer. And a drummer pedal! The struggle is real. The pedals have gained sentience and are conspiring.

Then, I found the Flamma FS01 Drum Loop, which looks like ridiculous amounts of fun.

Then there are the other pedals that I can’t forget. I love my Orange Micro Terror. Apparently they make it as a pedal now, The Terror Stamp. I use an A/B/Y sometimes to play through both the Micro Terror and the Fender Blues Jr. at once. It would be fun to Orange-up the Blues Jr., or to play the Terror Stamp into the Micro Terror to make the Orange even more Orange.

Gorilla TC-35 Tube Crunch guitar amplifier.

That got me to seeing about the recent Acorn Amps Solid State pedal made to emulate an old Peavy Decade amp made famous by Josh Homme. That made me nostalgic for my first amp, the Gorilla TC-35. It had a “Tube Crunch” knob, but no tubes. After I got a larger amp to be in a band setting… we used to use it as a PA at AiXeLsyD practice, and I think even at some living room and basement shows.

Gorilla Amps Logo

Is it possible to make into a pedal? I don’t have the skills. I have a soldering iron, but I am no good with it. I used to do drafting in high school, but I am lost on the schematics for electronics. It looks like at least two people have made the combo into a head (…OK, one was for bass). A schematic exists online. Someone even has a circuit board which emulates the circuits for the amp, but is small enough to fit in a pedal. Why make a $200 pedal for a $50 amp? Yes. Why? Also, why not?

I wrote all of that, and still don’t know the point. To relieve G.A.S.? I would guess it should only serve to exacerbate it.

My current guitar effects pedals:

Quinnamp Dirt & Ernie
DigiTech Trio
DigiTech FX3X
Planet Waves PW-CT-04
Ammoon Pock Loop
LiveWire Solutions ABY Box
Ernie Ball Wah
YesFX

I mean, I do have a few pedals. They’re not even on a board. I had them on the cut-off bottom of a milk crate, but then I wanted to remove one. They are fun, and they do indeed do things.

This, hive mind, is where I need your help. Do I want more pedals? Yes. Do I need more pedals? Also, yes. They are sure to spark creativity. Use your wisdom to teach me. Can anyone build me a TC-35 pedal? I can get my wife to Cricut the logo in vinyl! Ha ha. Which pedals should I go for? What would you go for? I’m looking for those people experienced with these cheap pedals all over the internet. Send me your thoughts, reviews, & opinions!

Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Christmas Playlist 2020


I posted not too long ago about Christmas playlists on various platforms. Ultimately most of them are frustrating because you can’t just pick a song order without signing up for a “premium” account. I’m already subscribed to enough stuff.

I have other YouTube lists (Naughty & Nice), but I decided to pull some of my favorites and put them all on one:

Christmas 2020 🎶🤘🎅🎸🎄🎵

What great ones am I missing? Drop them in the comments below!

While you’re on my YouTube Channel, don’t forget to watch, give a like, and drop a comment for “Jingle Bells” by the Christmas Carrolls! We have over 400 views already, it would be cool to hit 500 by Christmas! Please share it on your social media platform of choice.

Christmas Playlists and Streaming Services


I am signed up for too many free streaming accounts. I like raucous punk and metal Christmas music in addition to some of the more straightforward poppy and traditional stuff. I wish that all of these songs were available across all platforms. I have some stuff from the wild west days of mp3 downloading that I can’t seem to find on any platforms.

Christmas Playlists | Spotify • Amazon Music • Pandora • YouTube
Christmas Playlists | Spotify • Amazon Music • Pandora • YouTube

I do need to work on refining the lists I have. The YouTubes ones are all over the place. I hardly use Pandora enough to thumbs up or down to get it where every song is a smash. Spotify and Amazon are the ones that are easy to use… but I wish I could add more content.

I do have the free accounts for all mentioned. I don’t feel like playing for a streaming service unless it can be complete. I heard Google Music was pretty awesome, until it just became the YouTube Music thing. I need to get my personal stuff all digitized someday too. Man, I miss just running WinAmp on a giant desktop.

What do you use to listen to Christmas music? What are your favorite songs, traditional, wild, overplayed, or obscure?

Here are mine:

Spotify | Christmas 🤘🎸🎄

Amazon Music | Christmas

(WordPress doesn’t seem to want to embed the Amazon playlist.)

Pandora | Holiday Rock N’ Roll ☃

https://www.pandora.com/station/1758025359576278863

(WordPress won’t embed Pandora I guess, either.)

YouTube | Christmas Playlist – Nice

YouTube | Christmas Playlist – Nice

YouTube | ☃ ♩♫♬♪ Christmas Songs ♩♫♬♪ ☃

Challenge Accepted.


So, the other day I read a Facebook post from Pittsburgh media personality, Marty Griffin. I think Marty is a great talk show host. He does not tow a party line. He seems to be a man of common sense. His job is to stir the pot and get discussions going. I have no doubt he comes at it from the right place. I believe he sees his function as sparking discussion whether it is an easy or a difficult discussion to have. He is by all accounts a guy that really helps his community with his position and I love how he speaks about his family.

I honestly haven’t listened in a while. I know he riles people up. It’s part of the job. I have heard him say things about food allergies that I considered ignorant, but people are complex and you can’t hold your opinions on them to one single issue. I still follow him on social media.

This was the post;

Message from a friend.
What do you say?

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads. It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot. It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable! Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky. It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target. It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer. It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe. It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts. It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers. It’s so smart. It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you. It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away. It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations. Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

~copied, author unknown

It, like many other things I have seen on social media lately, just had me exhausted & exasperated.

I made a comment. Not only should I never read the comments, I should never post a comment. It’s a sickness, I tell you. My comment garnered a request. I am happy to oblige.

Please give examples with proof to back it up.

Rather than rant on FB, and in order collect my thoughts/links, I decided to post it here. I was even going to go to a Spongebob Mocking Text Generator to use that and post the OP sentence by sentence & argue it. But I want to be calm & civil. I want to pass on information that I have read, & maybe explain how I have come to perceive it. I may not be correct. I am not a scientist. I am not a journalist. I am just an asshole that figured out how to set up a WordPress a few years back and posts things for about 3 or 4 people to read occasionally.

None of us know the correct course of action. We could, maybe, use past pandemics as a model. We could, maybe, listen to the advise of experts… from doctors to scientists to statisticians, maybe even teams of the aforementioned. We have been inundated with media (and social media) that contradicts itself every few days.

I believe both the state and federal government failed to take swift decisive action, and they failed miserably to communicate how that action was to be rolled out, or why they made the decisions they did. This is not a political post. Leave your “Trump this” and “Wolfe that” at the door. They both needed to have a quick and concise plan, and that did not happen. I believe that government inaction/incompetence, coupled with the ever-contradicting media rushing to be first to a story (or to sensationalize to garner clicks), and further complicated with the panicked populace using social media as an outlet to voice their fear and frustrations… has built a mounting anxiety of epic proportions.

Proof, or at least validation, as requested for the above paragraph:

That is a long-winded way of putting an explanation behind my perspective. Here we go;

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads.

Agreed. Read this article from WebMD: How Does Coronavirus Spread? Boy, we’re off to a good start.

It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot.

Um. It’s in both places, but let’s think about it logically. Did you read the article above about how it spreads? (Or one from the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, or the Mayo Clinic if you prefer?)

Kids are in school for what? About 6 hours. Most of those kids are on buses to & from. Do you know how close together kids sit on the bus, in classrooms, the cafeteria? Have you ever seen a gym class or a playground? You have to realize its a Petri dish for communicable diseases on a good day, right? Right. Kids, though reminded, aren’t always the best at remembering social distancing or washing their hands.

You are hopefully at Home Depot for about an hour at most. If you need longer than that, ask an associate. They are generally knowledgeable or they can find someone who is. Please be polite though, as this is probably an insurmountably stressful time to be working. Better yet, it’s 2020. Order your stuff online and pickup in store and you’ll be in there 10 minutes tops. Hopefully the adults in the store (remember when they asked 1 person per family & no kids?) are able to remember social distancing (or read the arrows in the aisles or stickers on the floor), wearing masks, adhere to occupancy limits based on keeping customers well-spaced apart, and are good at dutifully washing (or at least sanitizing) their hands.

It’s all about risk. Please see this from the CDC: Deciding to Go Out – Venturing Out? Be Prepared and Stay Safe

This article from KLTV may help: Medical experts rank 36 activities by COVID-19 risk level

Does that make any sense? Going quickly in & out of a place of business while following the social distancing policies recommended by our governor puts you (and everyone you may come into contact with thereafter) at MUCH LESS RISK thank spending all day in close quarters with a large amount of tiny unsanitary people.

If you’re going to say it doesn’t seem to get a hold of children, please see this: ATTENTION PARENTS…. this morning I was notified that Lucas tested positive for COVID (Facebook) …and this: Kids with suspected Covid-related syndrome need immediate attention, doctors say (CNN)

It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable!

Gonna go ahead and agree here, although it isn’t the praying that’s worrisome as much as the singing.

Read about how taking deep breaths and singing while packed together tightly is a perfect vehicle in which to spread the virus:

Read multiple accounts of pastors refusing to close churches thus promoting rampant spread:

I don’t even know if I really need to offer my take here. You can find many more examples on Google, and probably even Bing or Yahoo.

Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky.

What is sneaky here is the slight at the ongoing protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. I won’t get into that here, other than to say a few short things: It’s saying “black lives matter, too.” more than “only black lives matter.” It’s saying “black lives matter now.” Then again, what do I know? I’m a straight white guy who grew up in a sheltered suburb of a still largely segregated city. Listen to 8:46 by Dave Chappelle. If that doesn’t move you emotionally, I don’t know what will. And don’t confuse protesters with rioters and looters. They are diverting attention and skewing the message. Even you, “antifa!” Which by the way, is not an organization or a thing at all, but a philosophy. That philosophy was shred by the United States of America & most of the world when we kicked Hitler’s ass.

Back to the original discussion, and I don’t believe I have to say this. The protests are not organized or sanctioned by your state or local officials. OK, the governor got a great photo op and PR boost, or maybe, just maybe… he valued the ongoing betterment of society over his own personal health & safety? I don’t even know what to say here. No one anywhere gave anyone the OK to protest. The protesters have had enough. They want heard. They want noticed. They want change.

It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target.

Target sells food and other essential items. Kohl’s does not. What do you need from Kohl’s that you can’t get at Target or Walmart? Don’t say better clothes because in the early stages of the pandemic you were asked to not go anywhere. I don’t think I need to cite a source or proof here. Again, if people were in Target or Walmart wandering around aimlessly instead of shopping “on a mission” to get in and get out as explained above with the case of Home Depot vs. school (and all those links), then that is their own entirely stupid prerogative.

It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer.

Actually I believe alcohol kills the virus… so if it was sentient it probably would choose to be non-alcoholic. (That’s washing your hands with it, not drinking it.) If you remember, alcohol sales were shut down entirely, then opened because the government realized that withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism could be deadly. This isn’t a moral debate. Again with risk, getting in & out of the beer store quickly, & your personal feelings on whether it’s a nessecity.

It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe.

This is where maybe the media is sort-of to blame? They rushed to get the information out. Or was it groups of doctors and scientists publishing studies to quick? Was it the world’s hunger for information? I don’t know. The risk seems to have gone down. Did we wipe-down Amazon boxes or anything else that was delivered at the beginning of the pandemic? You’re damn right we did. Do we now? Not so much, but we discard packaging right away & wash our hands immediately. Why the change? Well, we did this curious thing where we adapted our behaviors based on the best and latest information available. I know that sounds crazy. But it works for us. For some reason, the “experts” as they are, decided that take-out food was low risk. Some still advised to wipe-down and discard packaging. Perhaps the push was because (we can only hope) that food-service employees are trained repeatedly on sanitary practices, so ramping up a bit more to protect them selves and the public may not have been that difficult. Word on the street is that Amazon doesn’t really care about employee health & safety, let alone yours.

I don’t even know how to tie these together:

So, there’s that.

It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts.

It’s not the objects in question, although it can probably live on all of those surfaces… it’s the activity. You are most likely breathing heavily while playing basketball, baseball, or dancing a ballet. Did you read above why that’s bad with choirs? I would guess that also applies here.

The WWE, I believe, is testing all participants involved. Also, they dubiously were classified as essential by the state of Florida. I mean, Florida. I don’t know if I would agree with this, but if they feel they can do it within the guidelines of social distancing and that state is corrupt enough to agree, who am I to stop them?

Yeah. Maybe the WWE doesn’t have the welfare of their people or the general public in mind. I don’t think I would hold them up as a standard-bearer of science, morality, or medical advice.

It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers.

Yes, yes, & yes. No, no, & no.

A hair stylist is in your face for an extended period of time, probably in a ship full of other stylists or barbers in other people’s faces. The dog groomer is all over your dog with their hands… both potentially spreading COVID-19-laced bits of hair airborne. Masks mitigate risk, but not when you aren’t also standing the recommended distance apart. Also, hair stylist work in cash tips. No one wants your filthy cash.

The dentist is literally in your face. That job is disgusting enough without the threat of COVID-19 being spread from patient to dentist or patient to patient. I would say that if the dentist was open, they would handle emergencies & take all of the recommended steps to maintain your safety. I was unaware that dentists were ordered to shut down.

Bank tellers are generally behind a big Plexiglas wall. Most banks were drive-through only for a while anyway, no? Keeping customers apart car-to-car instead of in line in person is half the battle. Cashiers & fast food workers are now behind a big Plexiglas shield. Plus, food is essential, and haircuts are not. I think we covered stores & food already with the requested examples & proof.

As above with us personally lightening up on Amazon packages and the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going into the green phase, maybe it is time to get back to the stuff. I anticipate a post-Memorial Day & post-protest spike though, so I’m gonna sit back a while.

I will eventually get back to my awesome barber shop, and I sure need it. They will get a big tip and I’ll sanitize the money first.

It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you.

Social Distancing

Again, it’s all about the exponential spread. There has to be a number to pick. Ten people will spread it to less than eleven. You know how math works, right?

Yes, 10 is an arbitrary number, but there had to be a recommended number.

It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away.

Facemask/Peeing Meme

What? You want someone, potentially an asymptomatic spreader, putting their hands all over your mostly naked body? Good luck with that. Masks work in conjunction with social distancing. How can we not all agree on that already?

If you need a plumber, it’s probably an emergency. Feces backed up in your house, or a lack of running water may not help with the whole hand-washing thing. If the plumber is willing to come out, it (again) is an acceptable risk. Again… getting a massage or getting your nails done may not be as essential as having a functioning toilet.

Got it?

It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations.

Aren’t you snarky?

Stores close early or open late to limit their employee’s exposure to the general public (some of whom erroneously believe their liberty is being threatened while they are asked to follow some pretty simple social distancing guidelines for the time being to promote the improved health of everyone), and to give the employees (or contracted specialty cleaning crews) a chance to sanitize the stores from top to bottom before the next day, all without extending the essential workers’ (who are are probably under inordinate amounts of stress) shifts.

A lot of these same stores offer early hours to the most vulnerable groups of the population.

Does that clear that up?

Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

By now, we all have. Hopefully, anyway. Although, a lot of us don’t seem to understand it yet, including the experts. Hopefully we get a treatment or a vaccination soon.

Have you heard of it now?

~copied, author unknown

Of course.

But to the commenter on my comment, I hope I did provide enough examples with proof to back things up for you. I hope you weren’t looking for anecdotal evidence. I hope I opened up your mind a bit. Maybe we can learn from each other. I am just looking to keep my family and myself safe during all this. That extends to friends and co-workers and yes, the general public. It would be nice if we could all stick to a plan.

Avoid it like the plague.

Which rock docs you diggin’?


I liked & would recommend these rock docs, which other ones should I check out?

Rock Docs!

  • Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son Of A Bitch – This has to be THE rock doc.  It ought to be the standard to which all others are held.
  • Mad Tiger – I love Peelander-Z.  This is a story about art, music, choosing your path, and ultimately about the bond of friendship beyond being band mates.
  • Anvil! The Story of Anvil – This is wild.  You feel for these guys so much.  At least I do.
  • Sound City – What a cross-section of rock n’ roll history.  Dave Grohl is cool for putting this together.
  • Searching for Sugar Man – This is a crazy story about how music can transcend time and borders, and save the artists like it saves the listener.
  • It Might Get Loud – I wouldn’t list any of these guys in my favorites as far as guitarists go… but this was a damn good movie.  I mean, Jimmy Page is Jimmy Page.  How can you not respect his body of work?
  • Beware of Mr. Baker – Fabulous just because Ginger is a wild man.  Maybe even a wild animal in a man’s body.
  • Flogging Molly: Whiskey on a Sunday – Mostly about Dave if I remember right.  I’m a fan of the music, so it was nice to have a peek inside that world.
  • The Punk Syndrome – Finland has some cool-ass social programs, one that gave us Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät.  Follow a punk rock band formed by cats with Autism and Down Syndrome and realize that their struggles are a whole lot like yours.
  • FilmageALL gets such a bad rap.  Ha ha.  I really enjoyed this story.
  • Mission to Lars – Less about being in the band, more about fandom & brotherly love.

What other ones do you like?  I am sure I have missed a few.  I liked that one Rush doc, I need to catch all of it.  I caught the end on VH1 way back.  Bonus points if these docs are “free” on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

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Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

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Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

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Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

 

At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…

At my signal, unleash a $3 VHS cassette.


So, browsing one of the local flea-market/yard-sale type groups on Facebook, I discovered this post…

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

As you can imagine because I’m blogging about it, many questions came to mind.  It’s hard to even know where to begin.

We’ll start with the obvious.  Who would pay $3 for a VHS cassette of any movie, let alone this movie?  I mean Gladiator was a good film… but here is a shortlist of better values available online…

This is just for physical media.  I didn’t even look into streaming.  I get that not everyone is set up to stream and that some people (myself included) like to put their hands on physical tangible media.

Who has a working VCR?  OK.  I do, but I’m odd.  It’s a VCR/DVD-recorder, and someday I will transfer all of my VHS tapes to DVD (which is already a dead format).  Who is still watching video tapes?  I mean, watching the old 4:3 aspect ratio drives me nuts these days.

The other side of this… who goes through their stuff, decides they can part with this, and assigns a $3 value to it?  I mean, I could see if this was a collector’s item.  I have Star Wars on VHS and I’ll probably have it forever, but The Gladiator?   Sure, it was a good movie… but not that good. Why were they even still making video tapes in the year 2000?

What do you need that badly that costs $3?  This wouldn’t be worth the gas money or the bus fair to meet someone to make the sale.

I have been strapped for cash, but never would think to list what essentially amounts to garbage for a negligible value on a Facebook flea market group.  If this sells, I really have a lot of stuff that I need to be listing for under $5 amounts.