Making music

Now that the Holidays and the craziness are over (for just a moment here), I have finally had the chance to play around with some new apps downloaded from the Windows 10 app store. One of those apps is called Music Maker Jam.

Music Maker Jam allows you to take the pre-loaded music loops in the program and rearrange them to suit your musical taste and/or ideas. It is nothing professional in any way, shape or form, but, it is something fun to play around with.

If you would like to listen to my first tune programmed in Music Maker Jam, just click on the link below to listen.

 

If you enjoy it, you can share it with other people who may like it also. And if you search on SoundCloud for the song “927PM”, you can also click the like button and share from there. Thanks for listening, hope you do enjoy the track, and there will be more coming.

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To this day…

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Well, the eve of Christmas is here, and before I have my nightly Earl Grey (with just  a touch of lemon), thought I would pop in and give a greeting to those who may still be up. Not a bad day today, slow work in the morning, shopping for the next few days taken care of, and topped it off with a early evening dinner with a small gathering at sister’s house.

I hope that everyone’s day had some pleasant moments in it, and that they to get to curl up with a nice hot cup of Earl Grey or hot cocoa.

See you soon.

 

The colors of Christmas

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Some, who are reading this, may wonder why a black and white photo with no snow was chosen to be included in a blog post entitled “The colors of Christmas”. It’s really quite simple. For some, the season of Christmas brings no color at all, no fancy lights, or dinners or parties. No joyful trimming of the tree or waiting for presents to be received or to be given.

For some, this can be the darkest time of the year, when they may feel most alone. Now, there are some that revel in the loneliness and in some ways actually welcome it. For those individuals, this time of the year is not unlike any other time. Just another day in which to get things done while others are spending time with friends and family.

Yet, for most people who dread this time of the year. It is a 30 day reminder that they do not share this joyous time of the year with someone. No one special for them to sit with and enjoy the endless onslaught of Holiday movies, nor to share a hot cup of cocoa at the end of the day.

Well, if you find yourself reading this, and find yourself one of those individuals, no need to fret this year.

I, myself, have been one of “those people” for a few years now. In fact, this will be the eighth Christmas and New Years season I have spent alone, and am hear to say that, it may not be easy, but, you can make it to the new year.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I have no one special in my life right now with whom to share the holidays. I focus on myself. During an eleven month period, one can accumulate quite a lot of stuff. During the holiday season is, for me, the perfect time to reduce the “stuff” I have.

Old clothes go to the Salvation Army, old books go to the library, and I go through and clean out my “catch -all drawer” (and we know we all have one!). As a photographer of community events, I then go through my SD cards, drives, and pictures folders on all PC’s and devices, to make sure that they have all been categorized and uploaded to the cloud, so that they are readily available.

After that, I get into my own “Holiday Traditions” of watching “The Thin Man” with a nice cup of hot tea (with lemon), some chocolate chip cookies (is there really any other kind?!),and then settle in for the showing of the “Doctor Who Christmas Special”.

This year, however, I am adding a new tradition to the mix. And that is of being online. If you read my blogs, and I know there are not a lot of entries, if you find yourself not having anything to do this weekend, give me a shout-out.

We can email, exchange thoughts on movies, music, or just whatever. Just my way of saying that “no one should be alone on the Holidays”. Yep, sounds a bit cliché and a bit sappy. But, I will be here blogging all weekend and if you wish to chat, let me know in the comments.

Till then and make sure you are ready for this years “Doctor Who Christmas Special”, it comes on this Sunday (Christmas night) at 9:00 p.m. on BBC America.

 

Shutterbug (Again)

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One of the first items I received from my father, before his passing,  was a medium format camera which, sadly, over the years that camera has been lost. In an effort to get back in touch with a hobby that I enjoyed, I recently purchased a Nikon Coolpix B500 camera.

Now, I would not call myself a photographer by any means. I just enjoy taking pictures of the city that I live in (Port Huron, Michigan) and pictures of the events that happen in our area. Looking back on some of the photos I took in the last two days, it is a hobby in which I look forward to giving more time to.

By the way, the photo above is a shot of one of the many fine restaurants in downtown Port Huron. This is the Vintage Tavern. Originally shot in color, then a black & white filter was applied.

 

Not the upper middle class yet, but..

Being a regular day to day worker in today’s economic arena, can be a challenge, and to some, it can be a daily struggle. Many are living “paycheck to paycheck” and that’s with the help of government benefits, while others, including those with a higher level of education are struggling to even find a job.

I am one of the few that have been lucky not only to secure employment, but most days, enjoy going into my workplace. There is comradery, teamwork, and when you least expect it, great fun to be had.

But, on to the real topic here, which is, living on a not so glamorous rate of pay. As most of us in the customer service field. Our salaries are not to be bragged about. No “fight for $15”. no union (for most of us), and lots and lots of hours!

The task for most of us is how to manage the income we do get from our daily employment to make our lives rewarding to us, allow us to enjoy the things we like to do and to do this without breaking the bank!

Although I am not rich by any means, I do manage to take care of my finances, and in turn, they take care of me.

Saving for a rainy day..

We have all heard the phrase “Save for a rainy day”. And for a number of us this is where the challenge starts. How can you put away any funds from your weekly paycheck, when you need every penny just to get buy? My answer: Open a checking and savings account.

I know, I know. Open a checking and savings account is not a way to save money. But, it actually can be. With most banks today, checking accounts come with a debit card. With the debit card and direct deposit, it makes it easier to track where your money is going on weekly basis.

Still not seeing the savings…

At the moment, you are probably not seeing the value of the checking account and debit card. But, these two, coupled with a savings account, can start to see savings within a 30 day period. Let’s do some math. You bring home (after taxes), an amount of $738.49.

Pay yourself first by transferring the $8.49 into your savings account. Now you have an even amount of $730.00 to work with! At the grocery store, you spend an amount of $75.18, leaving you a new total of $654.82, minus cell phone bill of $65.00, half-months rent of $240.00, and credit card payment of $160, leaves you a grand total of $189.82.! Transferring the $9.82 into your savings account gives you $18.31 that you didn’t realize you had.

You now have $180 left from your wages to cover gas, laundry, and other things that might pop up.

Oh! Now I see the savings!

What you make may be lower or higher than the figures I use here. But, the outcome can be the same. By using a savings account to balance your checking account to an even amount, can start to show a savings very quickly. I have been using this method, and now have a very comfortable savings amount. I have also been able to purchase a couple of penny stocks, and am now working on the purchase of mutual funds.

So, as I said, not in the upper middle class yet, but I keep plugging away at it everyday.  You can as well. Try it a little at a time, even saving a dollar can be a great start. as the old Nike commercials used to say – “Just Do It”!

 

 

Just a little something..

I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything to my blog, and it has been a very complicated year for me. Both ups and downs and even a little “timey-whimey”!

However, trying to get things back on track, And in that mode, here is a little something I wrote tonight during commercials while I found myself channel surfing. Please feel free to comment on it.

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Again, please feel free to comment. Not sure where I will go from here with it, or if it will ever see an ending. But, I will read each comment made.

 

The Big Switch!

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It has been quite some time since I have blogged or posted about things in a while, and many apologies to those who read my blog. But, now I do have something to write about and it is about making the #switch to a Windows based phone.

A Connected World

A little history here. On my Verizon account, I have been carrying 2 separate phone lines. One for personal and the other line for my small business. In the beginning, both lines were Android, but then I switched one of them to the Apple iPhone 4S. Now, initially, I was impressed with the 4S from Apple. This was my first foray into using Apple products, and I must say that they do possesses a certain level of simplicity of use and fluidity of motion. And, I in no way will take away from them the fact that, for the most part, the mobile world does revolve around Apple. And therein lies the problem. Because my world (both personal and business) has always been Microsoft, and not Apple.

Mixing Apples and Oranges (in a manner of speaking..lol!) 

Microsoft Operating Systems have always been on any PC or laptop that I have owned, so there is a sense of familiarity about it. Working with it as long as I have, either just as an end-user, government employee, or a  college instructor, there has always been a version of Windows that I have used to be productive, entertained, and organized. With that being said, when I added the Apple iPhone 4S into the mix, it was not a matter of a poor choice, but rather a “seeing what is out there” type of choice.

Apps, OPs. and Oops!

For my social networking life, there are just three apps that I use with any amount of frequency. They are: Facebook, Google Plus , and Twitter. And with any search in either Android, Apple, or Windows Apps store, you will find these three apps. So, why the switch? Simple. Office 365 and One Note. With Android and Apple mobile OPs, you have One Note, but, no Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. With the large amount of my documents being in MS Word format, having a way to bring them up in native format was a BIG PLUS. Now, I would not propose to create an entire document on my mobile phone, however being able to edit it, make small changes, and save it in native MS Word format is a wonderful thing! Also I tend to toss my phone around a lot, and with an iPhone, this is not a good habit to have..lol.

In the end, its all about the movies…

The final selling point for me, I didn’t actually find out about it until I came home with the phone. And that is – 32 GB internal storage and Carl Zeiss lenses. From my early days of photography, I was the proud owner of a Contax brand camera. Excellent camera, beautiful pictures, and the Carl Zeiss lens made your photos look outstanding. Now, take that lens and put it in a mobile device coupled with 32GB of internal storage for all my music, videos, and movies? You have got me sold! So now on my daily commute, I can chose to either listen to music, watch music videos, or any one of my favorite movies that I have downloaded to the phone (“Smokey and the Bandit” anyone?) Oh, and the looks I get from my fellow commuters is priceless because not everyone has a Windows Nokia phone. So, is any cell phone the perfect cell phone? No, not really. But having tried all three platforms, I can say that the Windows 8 phone fits perfectly into my life, my media, my social networking, and in my pocket!