Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Final Preps

Uncle Rico had our final rehearsal prior to Saturday's gig. It was a good rehearsal, but certainly not the best I've ever played. For a stretch of five or so songs, I couldn't nail the tempo. I was either too fast or too slow. We navigated through set 3 as well as some other songs that Greg and I wanted to run through - Greg chose the two Steve Miller songs ("Jet Airliner" and "Rockin' Me") while I wanted to nail the tempo for both "Margaritaville" and "When the Sun Goes Down." We also went through "Royals" since it is a recently added tune.

After rehearsal, I loaded Alex's electronic drums into the van and then helped Greg by carrying some of his equipment out of Gary's house so Greg could load his car. The ride home from Cedar Rapids to North Liberty was uneventful as I scrutinized the recording of our rehearsal that I had created with my cell phone.

The band members are meeting around 5 PM on Saturday to get set up for our 7 PM start time. I am already anxious and excited.

Lucky to Be Alive

Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil recently reflected upon the band's history of living a very different lifestyle than I have, or ever, lived. When he says "we could have died many times from many different things," I'm glad to know he realizes how precious life is.

Farewell to a Legend

Per this article, Smulekoff’s, a fixture of downtown Cedar Rapids, is closing.

I wasn't a frequent shopper at the store, but I recognize it as a fixture. Why this story is relevant to me, then, is because I have a friend of mine named Gary. He graduated from Mount Mercy College with me in 1992 and, shortly after graduation, began working at Smulekoff's. He has worked there ever since. When my dad and I went there to get furniture for my mom's room in the nursing home, I remember asking specifically for Gary to deliver the furniture because I knew that he would be good at his job. It was a real comfort to me to know that I didn't have to worry about anything related to her furniture being delivered.

Now Gary has to find a new job after putting in 20+ years of service. I hope his job search is already over because of a contact he made through all the deliveries he made.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fields in Word Documents

I sent a draft of a user guide to a co-worker today. In part, this is part of his reply to my email:

I want to mention that I think it is cool to see that you are using fields in your documents. I proposed doing this in our manuals a few years ago. My proposal was not accepted, so we are still doing it long-hand. I think fields are under utilized.


I couldn't resist ranting about fields in Microsoft Word so I replied with the following:

I have two brief stories related to using fields.

From 1998 - 2010, I worked at a company. My co-worker, Brian, was writing documentation before I arrived. The plan was for that portion of his job was to come to me. So, one day, we were looking at one of his Word documents. I think I suggested making a text change to one of the sections. He protested that it would be a lot of work to do that. When I asked for his reasoning, he took me through his process for writing the documentation and for creating the TOC. This was his process:
  1. manually type the TOC entries, including the .... to the page number.
  2. manually create a bookmark for each heading style in the document (except he didn't use heading style - he used Normal and manually formatted each heading to match what he wanted it to look like)
  3. manually type the page number
  4. manually create a hyperlink from the page number in the TOC to the bookmark in the body of the document (and make the hyperlink blue & bold by manually applying that formatting to the page number).
  5. manually create a section break so that each section had different text in the header.

I was completely dumbfounded. I already had created documentation in Word at a previous company with an auto-generated TOC so I changed his manually formatted Normal "headings" to Heading 1, 2, and 3, inserted a field instead of what he had manually typed. I think he made me do this in a copy of his document because he didn't trust what I was doing, but that detail is a little fuzzy. What is not fuzzy is the look of shock and disbelief that still makes me chuckle. He nearly fell out of his chair when I had him Ctrl+A, F9, and he saw how what I had done automatically would update the TOC.

At a different company, the documentation was written in InDesign. My co-worker manually typed the TOC, same way as Brian at the other company, including the ... between the text and the page number. For the 200+ page user guide she was working on, she would then print the entire user guide so she could manually verify that the page number in the TOC matched the page number in the body. If she found a discrepancy, she reprinted the user guide. She told me a story about how she had to be up past midnight so that she could verify the TOC was correct by 9 AM. Their process was to send a PDF of the user guide to a print vendor, who then printed a set number of hard copies, and if the TOC was incorrect and 10 copies had been printed, it was an expensive mistake.

When I heard her story of woe, I had no idea how to set up a TOC in InDesign as I had never used that tool before I started there. By the end of the day, I had figured how to set up Heading styles as well as how to create an equivalent of a field in Word. The next day, when I showed her how easy it would be to use this, she rejected my suggestion. Her comment was that it looked "too complicated" to implement. To my knowledge, they are still manually typing a TOC instead of using what took me a day to figure out. Part of me wants to know, the other is okay with ignorance to how much time my "too complicated" technique would have saved her over the years.

Thus, if you have a way to make your life easier, I say go for it. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.

Unrest in Ferguson

It would be irresponsible for me to not include a link to a story about the unrest in Ferguson, MO, which is described as a St. Louis suburb, after the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year old kid, but I also suspect that, as more details emerge, there will be a lot more information that needs to be edited for clarity and accuracy.

We Don't Have Thugs

I was wondering when the recent outbreak of college kids being college kids would end. I don't care if you are a Big Ten basketball player, a sorority girl, or any other kind of student, college kids make mistakes. That's all there is to it and Coach Fran says it the right way. Do I really need to list all of my mistakes that I made in college? I didn't think so.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What? It's For Charity

http://fansided.com/2014/08/18/dean-ambrose-helps-seth-rollins-als-ice-bucket-challenge-wwe-raw-gif/#!bFXTgJ

Gigging

In case it's been lost in the jungle of all the other posts that have been made on this blog, Uncle Rico the Band is playing at a poolside party at the Elk's Club in Iowa City on Saturday night. I am so excited to be playing! We rehearsed twice last week (Monday and Wednesday) and rehearse for a final time tomorrow night. We will have gone through all three of our sets twice after tomorrow night's rehearsal. Randy, who is our Gary's (guitar/vocals) brother, has been running our sound through the PA to get things ready for Saturday. I have been especially happy with the way Alex's Yamaha electronic drums have sounded coming through the PA. The PA speakers are set up in what I would call a living room while the four of us play our instruments in what I would call a bedroom. Previously, I would use my cell phone to record our rehearsals with my cell phone in the same room as our instruments. However, at Wednesday night's rehearsal, I put my phone in the living room with the PA speakers. I like what I hear when I listen to the recording.

These are the songs we are playing.


Set 1
Ring of Fire
57
Open HH
84
I've Been Everywhere
58
Jet
106
Oh Boy
58
Jet
96
Squeeze Box
53
Tamb & Click
68
Jet Airliner
58
Jet
61
Margaritaville
53
Tamb & Click
66
When the Sun Goes Down
53
Tamb & Click
53
Stand By Me
58
Jet
60
500 Miles
58
Jet
65
It's the End of the World
58
Jet
104
Just Like Heaven
4
Rock Kit
77
I Melt With You
4
Rock Kit
77
I Saw Her Standing There
57
Open HH
80
Love Her Madly
1
Oak Custom
74
I Will Survive
57
Open HH
60
Rock'n Me
58
Jet
62
Royals
57
Open HH
42
Set 2

You May Be Right
58
Jet
75
Blister in the Sun
58
Jet
87
What I Like About You
57
Open HH
80
Jenny / 867-5309
58
Jet
70
Brown Eyed Girl
53
Tamb & Click
73
Escape
58
Jet
88
Dancing Queen
58
Jet
54
I Ran
58
Jet
73
Wonderful Tonight
58
Jet
24
Folsom Prison Blues
58
Jet
104
Hot Stuff
57
Open HH
77
Bad Case of Loving You
58
Jet
74
Johnny B Goode
58
Jet
80
Sweet Caroline
58
Jet
65
Set 3

Hey Jealousy
58
Jet
77
Blitzkreig Bop
57
Open HH
89
I Wanna Be Sedated
57
Open HH
81
Should I Stay or Should I Go
53
Tamb & Click
56
Basket Case
58
Jet
88
Fight For Your Right
57
Open HH
67
Sweet Child O Mine
58
Jet
42
Paranoid
57
Open HH
87
Rock and Roll All Nite
57
Open HH
72
Rockin' in the Free World
57
Open HH
73
Brown Sugar
58
Jet
66
Your Mama Can't Dance
57
Open HH
76
Pump It Up
57
Open HH
69
Lola
57
Open HH
83
Oh Boy
58
Jet
96