Saturday, August 25, 2007


So last night, my current wife tells me that she liked the old blog better. Although she couldn't explain exactly what she liked better about the old blog, she'd rather read that than posts about bagpipes. Well, on her behalf, I suppose it's okay to regress into old Shrektum once in a while. It just so happens that I have something to say.

You ever notice how one day it became acceptable to peddle porn on the freeway? On my way to work and school, I see roughly 5 billboards advertising local sex shops. Each billboard has the image of a single female, while not nude, is in a sexually suggestive pose. Granted, it wasn't until I had my girls that I really took notice of these billboards. How many kids have been in the backseat on family outings that see and read these things? I don't want my kids to ask me one day, "Daddy, what does XXX mean?" More importantly, I don't want my girls to see advertising that turns women into sex objects. (Yes I know that sex sells and it's everywhere, but I'm trying to stay focused here.)

I did some web searches and apparently there are others who are just as pissed off. A couple of states managed to push through laws only to be struck down later because they supposedly violated First Amendment rights. So then I started thinking, what about a boycott on the OTHER products that the outdoor advertiser also sells billboard space too. Imagine that. But guess what, take a look at most billboards and at the bottom you will see the outdoor advertiser company name....except on the porn ones! Those sly bastards don't want their name associated with the products they push?!?!

I urge you to write to your state's attorney general to voice your concern. In Connecticut that would be Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. I'll also keep you posted in my effort to form a letter writing campaign to the outdoor advertisers and their other customers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Reading is FUNdamental

As I told the band member that gave me my first two lessons, it's been over 20 years since I've read any sheet music. That didn't stop him from passing me a copy of "Scots Wa Hae Wi' Wallace Bled" and said, "you can read this right?" Honestly, I couldn't even pronounce the song title nevermind read the music...but I aim to learn in short order. I read online that a great way to learn to read sheet music is to learn to write sheet music. So I took the song he gave me and transcribed it onto another sheet, studying the notes as I went from bar to bar. Here is my copy in all its glory...

Now I just have to learn how to play this song. I'm doing my best to learn the song by reading the music as opposed to simply memorizing which notes to play. Sort of like the 'give a man a fish, teach a man to fish' proverb. Give someone a sequence of notes and they can play a song, teach someone how to read music and they can play any song. You like that? I just made it up.

Anyways, the next video to upload is my massacre of the first couple-few bars in super slow and non-rythmic 6-8 time. Which reminds me, anyone have an old metronome that needs a new student?

Homeless Pipe Band

As it turns out, the band is being forced to find a new weekly practice location. Until now, they've been practicing in an unused building on the campus of University of Connecticut at Avery Point. An absolutely gorgeous setting for a walk or picnic, let alone play the bagpipes. Have a look for yourself...

Finding a new home for a bagpipe band is not as easy as it seems. First, you need a place that can hold 20-30 people, a separate room(s) for the drummers, and it has to be noise tolerant. Most importantly, drinking beer must be allowed. After all, this is a Scottish pipe band. Oh well, I'm sure with so many dedicated and enthusiastic people in the band, it will all work out. I just hope it's not any farther away from my house because currently it takes me an hour to drive to Avery Point. You think my wife will let me invite the band to our crib?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lesson 2

So I went for my second lesson with the Pipe Band and learned to play the G, D and E grace notes. I also learned what D Throws and Burls are. Like grace notes, they are also embellishments. I've only just had the lesson so I'm still working out the grace notes as you can see in this video.

Fortunately, I've also found a teacher right near where I work. She says she's a stickler for the basics, which excites me because I want to learn how to play the bagpipes properly. The plan is to take a lesson with her once a month and one with the band at the same rate. Ideally, I'd take a lesson once a week, but lessons aren't cheap and that's about all the "free time" I have. I'm very lucky that my wife is so supportive, but I don't want to push it. That's another way of saying I'm well trained and house broken.

The Pipe Band is playing in a parade this afternoon and I might take my daughter. The problem is that it's a long drive there and there will be mad traffic on the way back. If we do make it, I'll take some video to share with you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

First Lesson

This video was taken 4 days after my very first lesson. My second lesson occurred this week, posting to follow later this weekend. Once this journey reaches the milestone of "official piper" status, I plan to package all of these video clips into a DVD so my kids can learn one simple lesson:

"If something is worth doing well, it is worth doing poorly."
-- Zig Ziglar

Shrektum: The Remix

The other day I took my kid to the reservoir for a nature walk and to let my dog go for a swim. I captured it all on film and even stayed up late that night to edit it by adding music, an opening title and ending credits. It came out pretty good, but then I thought....wait a minute. There are a couple scenes that would enable anyone to figure out exactly where we are. I love sharing videos and pictures to friends and family, but I can't control who goes to this blog. Apparently, traffic to little ol' Shrektum can be heavy at times. (lame joke) Seriously, I started to rethink posting pictures of my kids. On top of that, I've been struggling to find topics to write about. In the end my blog had no focus, it wasn't really blogging anything.

I view blogs as a way to chronicle some journey, like a modern-day ships log. For an example of what I mean, check out this amazing blog 1000 Days at Sea. After all, my blog started by following my cousin's and his friend's kick ass vacation blog. When their vacation ended, so did their blog. That's when it hit me, I'll keep a blog of my journey to become a bagpiper. I already aim to capture my progress over the next several months so why not share it online.

So the new long term goal of this blog is to chronicle my journey to become a full-fledged bagpiper. The finish line for this blog is when I perform in my first parade or any other public concert. Short term goals for The Shrektum Remix are to capture video after each lesson (two a month) and to write about the things I'm learning along the way.

Hopefully, it'll be interesting enough for you to continue visiting. But I suspect many of you visit while you're at work. So I could put up a "Watch Paint Dry" blog and you would still visit.


P.S. The Lighthouse post remains from the original Shrektum mix because it generated so much discussion at work. Plus it's my favorite post.