Primary Songleader Tips

General 3 Comments

It may come as a shock to some of you, but in my local church I am in charge of teaching and leading music in the Primary (youth 3-12). More than anything else I feel this calling is more of an entertainment position than anything else — even more than teaching the kids the songs required for the annual Primary Program.

My primary also has several disadvantages that I belive most don’t. First, we have very few kids — typically between 3 and 8. Sometimes it’s as few as 1 and as many as 15-20. Second, we have no one to play the piano. I have been without a pianist for more than 6 months now.

I think that members of the church would rather sell all their possesions and endure endless hardship and torture than let anyone know they can play the piano. I’m always surprised when I visit other member’s houses and find a piano prominently set in the family room. “I see you have a piano. So do you play?” I always ask. “Oh. . No. No not really” they reply as I see the sheet music for Bach’s Tocatta and Fuge in F-Minor sitting on piano. You can almost see the fear in their eyes as the rest of the family suddenly have homework and chores the remember need to be done.

Anyway, this is certainly an uncommon circumstance (as I’m assured by others who want to offer sympathy but refuse to actually help) and so I have had to be creative in how to bring a fun and successful singing time to our Primary. I share these tips here.

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Notepad Replacements

General 4 Comments

Notepad has long been my friend. I have written letters in it, I’ve written countless notes and for many, many years it was the only application I used to create web pages. I certainly have gotten my fair share of usage from Notepad.

But Notepad can’t do everything. It doesn’t show line numbers (which is important for debugging code), it has a size limit (which used to be about 1 MB in NT4 but has been increased I believe) and doesn’t do syntax highlighting (an added bonus for coding).

So for many years I have looked at replacement applications for Notepad and tried many but kept using very few. I thought I would share some of my findings.

OE (Object Edit) — This editor came as part of the Object Desktop, a stellar package for doing all sorts of things from skinning windows with a different look, to creating new special effects for windows, to changing cursors. Object Edit was the Notepad replacement and it is really great. Probably my favorite so far. Unfortunately, you have to buy it as part of the Object Desktop.
Check it out at:

NoteTab Light — This editor is feature rich, which I think dilutes the simplicity and ease-of-use that Notepad has. With built in dictionaries of CSS1 commands, HTML, smilies, sample code, etc. there is just too much going on for me. The tabbed support for multiple files is a redeeming feature, however, making it simple to edit multiple documents in the same interface. The Search And Replace feature works over multiple documents and has limited support for regular expressions – a feature I use often. The commercial version has even more options available, if that is even concievable!
Check it out at

Notepad++ — This open source application is first and foremost a source-code editor with improvements over plain text editing. As such it has features you would probably expect such as syntax highlighting, syntax definitions, multiple document support and regular expression search and replace. It is a mature product and is absolutely stable. It even supports ascii display art!
Check it out at

CPad — This editor is fairly new but well designed and has features I really like. It supports for over 50 different languages, Syntax highlighting, built in hex editor. support for web page editing (HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP,) including tag completion and WYSIWYG, function hinting and navigation, advanced saving of documents, including backup, and viewing difference since last save, built in diffviewer. support for CVS, templates and a lot more. You can even download a small program that will replace Notepad with CPad. The Hex Editor is something I have been looking for since I quit using WordPerfect’s ED.EXE program (I only quit three years ago).
Check it out at

Workplace Barfing Etiquette

General 5 Comments

We’ve all been there. Hunched over some garbage can under the desk at work barfing up lunch for some reason or another. When you are done you wonder to yourself “was I loud? Did other people hear me? Should I go home or just keep working? Why do vermicelli noodles look the same coming up as they did going down?” Yes, we’ve all been there.

As with many uncomfortable situations, you were probably never taught what the proper etiquette should be. It perplexes me why colleges don’t offer classes that prepare you for real work situations.

Do you know how uncomfortable it is to stumble through bribing a restaurant receptionist to get in faster? Do you say something stupid like “I’d like a reservation for 2 under Abe Lincoln” or something smooth like “Ben Franklin was wondering if you have a table opening up really soon.” (it’s the latter). And then there is the poor receptionist who is so shocked when you slide a bill across their little podium they stupidly ask “What’s that?”

So, having retched at work many times (as well as at school, at the mall, on the bus, etc.) I have stumbled my way through what I would consider proper etiquette for pukeing in public.

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Proper Nacho Construction

General 2 Comments

I have been constructing 7-11 nachos for many years now. Nachos and chocolate milk are the main snack for my wonderful wife, Erin, when she is pregnant. This now totals some 27 months of pregnancy — 27 months of active, regular nacho building. Over time certain techniques have develped to make the nacho eating experience the best it possibly can be.

Now nacho construction and eating techniques are always evolving, influenced by many variables that change (cheese temprature and density, size, shape and quantity of chips, depth of container, etc.) So this guide is not a set-in-stone instruction set rather a guideline that can — nay, must change over time.

There are currently 5 steps in creating the ultimate nacho assemblage.

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Ella Raye Carson – A Chronicle of Her Brith

General 7 Comments

It has now been a day and a half since Ella was born and although I am dead tired I thought I ought to start to tell the story of her birth.

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