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The Fuel Tank Chameleon: a great accessory for any band

To me, “playing music” is turning on the radio or firing up iTunes. But for many, playing music is just that – setting up instruments, running power supplies, adding extra speakers, and then playing original songs and tracks. One must-have accessory for anyone you know who is music-oriented is, without a doubt, the Chameleon Tank from Musician’s Friend.

Fuel Tank Chameleon

Why you want it:
The Fuel Tank Chameleon acts like an extension cord or power strip for pedals. Instead of using one power outlet to plug in one pedal, use that same power outlet to plug in the Fuel Tank Chameleon, and then connect up to five pedals to it!

Product features:

Where to get it:
Buy the Fuel Tank Chameleon from Musician’s Friend for $149.99.

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An Easter egg hunt with a dash of autism

Yesterday I drove everywhere and did everything and saw everyone…went to bed way too late last night, then woke up this morning just in time to hustle Alyssa and Ryan to an Easter egg hunt. Like most community Easter egg hunts, this one was held at a church. Only it wasn’t just a show-up-and-organize-into-age-groups-and-go-get-the-eggs, it was Show Up, Go Inside, Check Out the Craft and Activity Tables, Here are Some Cookies and Carrots, Let’s do Raffles in Between the Age-Grouped Hunts, and the Oldest Kids will Go Last!

So we arrived promptly at 10, milled about with arts and crafts until about 10:30, and then I herded Alyssa and Ryan towards the group of 8+ kids. The woman who was directing the group instructed the kids on where to go, to pick up no more than 15 eggs, and, SURPRISE, there are also six sparkly gold eggs that can be redeemed for prizes from the prize table!




Alyssa and the other kids scattered and scooped up the regular eggs as they hunted for the six elusive sparkly gold Easter eggs. But Ryan, in typical Autistic Person fashion, was completely and wholly fixated on the six sparkly gold Easter eggs. Since he was told that they would be harder to look for, but held the promise of a prize from the prize table (he had his heart set on a green Crayola Crayon coin bank he saw when we were inside), he did what any other autistic person would do: tunnel-visioned on just ONE THING. While the “neuro-typical” children grabbed regular eggs as they looked for the gold eggs, Ryan ignored the regular eggs he was literally stepping on and tripping over.

End result: Ryan had only nine regular eggs (I snagged three for him, and Alyssa gave him six of hers), and wasn’t lucky enough to find one of the gold eggs. Cue meltdown. Now, this wasn’t a temper tantrum because he wanted to change the outcome/break the rules. It was a meltdown because he not only wasn’t lucky enough to find one of the gold eggs, and because he was so fixated on looking for them that he didn’t pick up any regular eggs. I explained this apologetically to the egg hunt organizer who came over to see what was wrong – and then insisted on letting Ryan pick a prize from the prize table as a reward for working so hard at trying to find one of the gold eggs. Here’s how awesome Ryan is – even in the midst of a meltdown over not finding a gold egg and not collecting 15 regular eggs because he was so intent on finding a gold egg, he told the woman he didn’t want a prize because “it wasn’t right” and he’d be breaking the rules (to which she answered: “well, I made the rules and I bought the prizes, so I can change the rules and give you one!”).

I was and still am torn over this. On one hand, I appreciate the woman’s kindness, especially since I did explain to her that he is autistic and his crying fit was due to being upset for two reasons (not just because he didn’t find a gold egg). But on the other hand, we try REALLY hard to hold Ryan to the same standards as his “normal” peers – even though this often means more fuss and stress and upset and emotional/mental work for Dan and I. But hey, that’s parenting, right? LOTS OF HARD WORK AND EFFORT (and hopefully, in the end, a reward of sorts).

In the end, I let Ryan have the highly-coveted prized crayon he so desperately wanted, and thanked the woman again for her kindness. We also talked on the way home about the importance of trying not to get overly focused on one specific goal – because when you focus on just one thing and block out everything else, you can end up missing out on a lot, and in the end winding up with nothing.

Ultimately, the Easter egg hunt and accompanying arts and crafts were a success. Tonight Alyssa and Ryan dyed eggs, and they’re looking forward to their baskets (which I still have to put together) tomorrow. :)

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Needles with a side of minor electrocution

I had my first of two EMGs this morning. Today’s was for my legs and feet, and as I found out when the doctor proceeded to shove needles into there, my lower back as well. He started out with placing sticky pads connected to wires on various places on my feet and legs, and then proceeded with the shocker wand thingamajiggy. It was like getting shocked by touching a car door, a shelf, or another metal surface during the dry, static-inducing days of winter, ONLY TEN TIMES WORSE. And, the involuntary/uncontrollable muscle spasms that accompanied the precisely-delivered shocks didn’t feel too nice, either. Twitch, twitch, twitch.

Still, after the second part of the test — needles shoved into various areas of my feet, ankles, knees, thighs (I’m glad I shaved this morning!), and lower back (my BACK!) — if I had to do it again, I’d prefer the shocks to the needles. Oh, wait… I will be doing it again. Next week. On my hands, arms, and upper back. Blah.

(Preliminary results from today indicate no permanent nerve damage or damage to the “big” nerves, but there is definite nerve involvement and he mentioned something about nerve fiber damage that I didn’t quite catch…)

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Midlands – Getting married at the UK’s heart

The Midlands is a place of fantastic history, geography and culture, filled with a whole variety of interesting people to meet and places to visit. Being the centre of the country, it has existed as a vibrant area of trade and travel for centuries, boasting lively cities such as Birmingham, and famous countryside locations in the Cotswolds and the Peak District.

It’s not without good reason that the Midlands is often referred to as the Heart of England, so where better than this beating heart of the country to express one of the greatest matters of the heart? Why not get married in the Midlands?

In terms of pure practicality, the Midlands is right in the centre of Britain’s road network, and is merely a few hours away from many large cities, including London, Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford and Sheffield. There are also international airports at Birmingham and Coventry, so even those wedding guests from the farthest corners of the world will be able to reach your venue without too much fuss. And after the event is done, the most time-pressured guests will be able to leave in the same efficient fashion, helping to avoid the stress of stranded guests.

In terms of venues themselves, there are a whole range of churches, halls and notable buildings where weddings can take place. Birtsmorton Court, placed neatly between Birmingham and Bristol, for example, is a medieval moated venue that offers civil and church services all over the year for both large and small ceremonies. Couples from all of the nearby major cities have found Birtsmorton the perfect place for their wedding, and the same can be said for many of the hundreds of other venues in the Midlands.  

When the wedding is finished- yes, all of that planning will end someday- it is often nice to have somewhere to visit afterwards, to make the most of having friends and family all in the same place. Luckily, the Midlands is not lacking in this area either, and you can experience the best of the countryside with many National Trust properties within easy reach and landscapes that inspired Tolkien, George Eliot and Shakespeare only a short trip away. This is not to forget the cities nearby either, and a day can easily be spent experiencing what each one has to offer, if not more.  To return to an earlier example, Birtsmorton Court is only a short drive away from Gloucester and Birmingham, and is within sight of Malvern Hills, a miniature mountain range that outlines the Western Midlands.

But all this considered, the best reason to get married in the Midlands would be the sentiment of the place. Each location has its own unique feeling that emphasises the atmosphere of a wedding, and the beautiful landscapes are perfect for wedding photos that really capture the meaning of your day.

Of course, it is understandable that many people have a wedding venue chosen from when they were very young, but for those of us without such luck, the Midlands is definitely one of the areas in the country with the best potential for a fantastic, unique wedding.

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3 Tips for Buying Your Next Bass

They may not get as much attention as lead singers, but bass players are some of the most important musicians in the world. Without a steady bass, songs become shallow and tinny; without high-quality bass equipment, the beat itself sounds canned. If you’re in the market for a new bass guitar, here are just three tips for making sure you only buy the best.

1. Buy the Amp First
Since the amp has such a direct impact on how your guitar sounds, it’s a good idea to buy or at least browse its types before purchasing the accompanying guitar. You never know when you might fall in love with boutique bass amps that only fit certain kinds of guitars.

2. Give Yourself a Price Range
It’s important to have a budget while shopping for a guitar. They can run from hundreds to even thousands of dollars, so if you start browsing without a limit in mind, you may wind up spending much more than you intended.

3. Know Your Brands
Some basses are known for their durability. Others pride themselves on offering deeper and more resonating sounds. Whatever your priorities when buying a bass, make sure you understand brand names and their reputations before you spend any money.

These are just three tips for buying your next bass. It doesn’t matter if you’re headlining a major venue or just rocking out in your garage: A good bass player has good equipment, so don’t be hasty in your purchase. Take your time and find something that speaks to you.

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