Monday, June 18, 2018

High Flying College Visit from UConn to Foxwoods to Upton Bass


We had the fantastic opportunity to visit Foxwoods and try out their HighFlyer Zipline. Since this required taking the kids out of school, I was determined to make the most of the day. Dova was away for her 8th grade Washington DC trip so it was going to be a mother and son day for Adam and me. Although Adam is a junior in high school, he has no idea where he wants to go to college and what he would major in, so in tiger mom fashion, I created a list of suitable colleges that met our criteria of having a good engineering AND music programs within 200 miles (one of Adam's criteria). The University of Connecticut in Storrs was on the college list, so that was our first stop. Besides, two college visit days are allowed at his high school as an "excused absence". I just looked up the policy, and you "must provide proof of visit signed by college representative". Oops, next time!


Adam was not in the mood for pictures, but he was definitely in the mood for a day off from school, as seen by his choice of t-shirt, "Save Ferris". This strange multi-layered entranceway was to the Chemistry building.


Aha! I captured Adam in a selfie! Some of the grounds and dorms at UConn were really beautiful. We passed the somewhat dated United Technologies Engineering Building and I reminisced about my short employment at Sikorsky Aircraft 28(!!) years ago, long before United Technologies sold it to Lockheed Martin in 2015.



After our self-guided tour of UConn, we headed down to Foxwoods Casino and Resort. What a difference in venue from the rural collegiate campus. I asked Adam how his college visit day was going and he replied, "I'd like to go to college here [at Foxwoods]".



On this rainy day, the zip line wasn't open just yet, so we looked into the restaurant options. Adam had previously been to Foxwoods and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. I scanned the multitude of restaurants and saw that Junior's Restaurant had pastrami sandwiches. As soon as I uttered the word pastrami, Adam could think of nothing else. I reminisced how my father used to work at Long Island University in Brooklyn directly across the street from the original Junior's Restaurant on Flatbush Avenue. He used to bring home their world famous cheesecake all the time. This meant nothing to Adam, he was only interested in pastrami.

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Did I mention that Adam had pastrami? Piles of tender, juicy, salty pastrami? I had a wonderful plate of lox and bagels, another New York delicatessen specialty.  We could also view the zip line from the restaurant and saw some high flyers come down as we finished lunch.



It was finally time for our high flying flight. We've all been ziplining before in the Berkshire mountains, but never off the roof of a 350-foot tall building! After watching the safety video, we arrived at the top of Fox Tower.


Although ziplining sounds physically challenging, this ride is not at all. It really only requires stepping into the harness and climbing about two flights of stairs to get to the roof. Everything else, including all the safety straps, is done for you.




We headed down the line at the same time, but Adam beat me down due to his higher weight.





For the landing, we were taught to brace by leaning back and extending our legs. Adam actually hit the stop block on the landing.




I was laughing here because I stopped way before the stop block and I wasn't bracing for anything at all. They pulled me in by grabbing my feet.


It was a fantastic flight! No, my hair didn't get grayer because of the flight, it was the wind, really!

We wandered outside the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center while waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel and finally made it back to purchase these fabulous professional photos.

To make the most of this college visit day, we then headed to nearby Upton Bass to look at instruments for Adam. We stayed for nearly two hours trying at least a dozen basses. He even brought his own bow, but we didn't end up picking one.




We finally made it home by around 9pm. It isn't often that I get to spend that much quality time with Adam, he's a very busy young man. We had quite the jam-packed adventuresome "college visit" day!

Thanks to Foxwoods for providing lunch and tickets to the HighFlyer Zipline. Use code "hfbloggin" for a $10 discount on your HighFlyer Zipline tickets! Watch this video for more info.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Happy Sunflower Crochet



I had a large amount of yellow Super Saver yarn, so I thought, what better project to use it on than a sunflower? I found this pattern online but created it with a few modifications:  Amigurumi: Happy Sunflower.

At the end of July last year, we drove through Lee, New Hampshire and passed by this incredible sunflower farm in full bloom. I have never seen so many sunflowers in one place!

Image credit: Coppal House Farm

The process of creating this amigurumi was a long one. In the middle, it looked like some alien plant had taken over my table.


When I started the assembly, everything looked disproportionate. The head looked way too big and the petals looked too small. So I frogged back the head several rows, which made the eyes look super large, but not too bad. I also didn't have any felt for the eyes so I just sewed them in with embroidery floss.  Then I frogged back all the petals to the row with 16 stitches and increased them to 20 stitches before decreasing again. This required attaching new yarn when I ran out of the original. It took forever!

But in the end, I have this happy sunflower to greet me!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Solution for Wandering Keyboard Pedal


If you've spent any time with an electronic keyboard and sustain pedal, you've definitely run into the problem of the pedal wandering off. There are a few commercial products out there which don't have a good track record with keyboard pedals. Here is a solution that I came up with that really works. It's so simple that it's not worth trying to market, but please click through the affiliate links!

FORITO Large High Precise Gaming Mouse Pad

VELCRO Brand - Extreme Outdoor - 4" x 2" Strips


In this setup, the pedal is attached to one end of a gaming mouse pad (basically an extra large mouse pad) using sticky back velcro. The pedal won't move away from your foot because your foot also is also on the same gaming pad surface.  The gaming pad has a rubbery bottom, but that also won't move because the bench anchors the other end of the gaming pad and your weight keeps the whole thing in place.  It really works! For gigs, it's easy to wrap up the pedal in your gaming pad and off you go.

The issue with other systems shown below is that the whole thing will move around with your foot and both the pad and the pedal end up moving away without control. Don't bother with these!

CreepNoMore - has a lousy review for a reason!

Pedal-Stay II - for sewing machine pedals, not any better for keyboards
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