Summer on the run

Well, aside from social networks, you may notice that it’s been pretty quiet here. Even for me.

It has been a busy summer. My wife has taken a job in the Milwaukee area, and we’ve spent the summer transitioning. We had to find a temporary apartment because the housing market here is brisk. We spent most of the weekends in June driving up to look at houses. Before each trip, we sent a list of houses we liked on Friday morning, and by Friday night at least one of them would be gone.

It didn’t take long before we realized that the big national sites–Zillow, Trulia, etc.–couldn’t keep up with the turnover. Even Realtor.com, a site that hangs its hat on how quickly it updates, was often behind on a  given listing’s status.

Schools

To make matters even more interesting the changes to Wisconsin’s school system and testing has made evaluating potential school districts even tougher. With a special needs child in school, we spent months trying to read into the meaning of GreatSchools.com’s 1-10 rating of schools and districts. We later supplemented it with FindTheBest’s information. Not only does it show test results, but it also shows a great deal of information about the district.

Even armed with two sources of information, with all of the turmoil over testing, teacher’s unions, the politicization of common core, vouchers, private schools, and teacher exodus, it’s hard to not feel like choosing one decent school district over another is anything but a roll of the dice. Additionally, I have yet to find a metric that would lead us to the situation that matched what we encountered last year. All the amazing work Ms. Miller and the rest of CR Hanna did with our aforementioned child–I’m not sure just how you would break that down into a 1-10 scale, much less how that would rate just a “7” on said scale.

But the Summer of Transition is nearly complete, and we will soon move into our new and permanent house. My wife will start her new job, and my transition into a telecommuter will be complete. (My current employer has allowed me to stay on in my current position. I am grateful, because I have some products and projects I personally would love to see to fruition, and I am excited in the direction I see this company heading.)

Update: Nothing but rave reviews about the school so far.

Personal projects gnawing at me

On top of all this, I have had my eye on a couple of personal projects to start once the family has settled in. The first is finishing my work with the fine people of Angry Pizza Entertainment. If you know me, you may remember that I contributed the backing music for their debut game, Backyard Invasion. I have written and arranged what I hope will be the music to their follow-up. It’s a departure from some of my other work. It’s primarily piano and keyboard based, and I listened to a lot of ragtime over the winter as research for it.

I have been wrapping my head around the idea of writing a book about parenting a child with Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism. But with every episode of Parenthood I watch–a recommendation from the doctor where we used to live, a recommendation we could not follow until we moved to an area with decent internet speeds–the less necessary it feels.

On top of that, I have plans to post my experiences cutting the cord. As a big consumer of live sports, there will no doubt be some growing pains and some “don’t do what I did” examples to share.

We shall see, however. For most of the summer, planning anything more than four weeks in advance felt like an exercise in futility.

TL;DR? Here you go

In the meantime, I leave you with something other than words. When I was a kid, I spent hours listening to “Estranged” by Guns N’ Roses while trying to learn the piano by ear. I was pretty proud of version–especially when I saw an old live performance where Dizzy Reed transposed the on his electric piano to make it easier to play.

Then I came across this YouTube channel, and now I feel incredibly and retroactively lame. She has posted dozens of rock covers, many of them with the same attention to detail as this.

Now that I think about it, I should probably post another video. I did the same with Chris Cornell’s “When I’m Down.”

At our old house, we had my in-law’s piano, and moving that potentially twice really wasn’t appealing, so I offered it to a friend. As an example of its playing condition, I recorded the following test. This playing is much faster than it should be for a great bluesy ballad, which I did for the sake of time. And, of course, there are flubs. So before someone posts a version much better than this, here you go.

And I am pleased to report my friend did tune it once they got it home.

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