Forget girls on trampolines; how about dogs, cats & foxes?

Yesterday, Life with Dogs featured a video of two American bulldogs playing on a trampoline. Here’s that video:

That tickled my funnybone and motivated me to search out more videos of dogs jumping or playing on trampolines. These are some of my favorites from my browsing today.

And lest you think only dogs enjoy trampolines, here’s a video of a cat playing on one.

I have to say, though, that cats don’t seem to find them as entertaining as dogs. The preponderance of bouncy critter videos were of dogs. Most of the few cat videos depicted a kitty annoyed by some 2-legger bouncing around while the kitty tried to sun itself. Then there’s the idiots who do mean things to cats on trampolines; I don’t bother commenting on those videos, but I report ’em for abusive content. But that’s another blog entry for another day!

And it’s not just domestic pets who enjoy playing bouncy. Check out these two wild foxes someone witnessed bounding and pouncing on his trampoline:

By the way, here’s a video showing a fox showing that same high leap and dive behavior, only going into the snow for prey:

My favorite, though, is Chago; this fella has it down to a science I wish the owner of that video allowed his video to be embedded outside of YouTube, but you’ll have to go there to view it.

This summer, we’re going to have to introduce Stella to someone’s trampoline. As much as she enjoys bounding up onto the couch and ricocheting off its back, we think she’d love it.

Music theory websites, books, DVD’s and software

This post’s dedicated to all the musicians of the world.

I am a musician, though I don’t read music. I have good pitch, but play by ear; I started with guitar by learning how to play based on basic guitar chord charts and transferred my skills to piano by seeing what notes made up the guitar chords and playing them on piano.A pianist friend told me I played inverted chords on the piano and it’s because of this hearing the notes in the order of the guitar strings. Interesting.

12-string guitarI don’t play bar chords on the guitar as they were always too demanding of my wrist and I lacked the strength in my fingers to do them well. I know just enough to realize the higher the notes are on the little lines, the higher they are to the ear, and I know that certain notes mean certain time intervals, like a whole note is four beats, a quarter note is one, etc.

Don’t ask me to play from sheet music unless I already know the song and there are guitar chords printed above the music so I can sound it all out and memorize it. I don’t even know how to read guitar tabs, but from the looks of it, it shouldn’t be hard for me to learn if I just take the time to learn it.

The time. That’s just it. If I want to get back into music, I need to discipline myself to take the time to learn it, and I don’t know if I want it that badly. Crazy, isn’t it? People who’ve known me for less than thirteen or so often don’t know that I play or that I used to write a lot of songs. I have not picked up my 12-string guitar or played my keyboard in many, many years. How sad is that?

I did take the step of having my hubby bring my keyboard up out of the basement and set it up on its stand in the office, at least. It’s there, waiting. So is my guitar. Unless the strings stay in good shape for over a decade of disuse, they need to be replaced.

That said, there are millions out there who can not only read guitar chords and tabs, but sheet music. They can pick up an unfamiliar piece and bring it to life the first time they read the music and play through it. What must that be like? I can only imagine!

I have some great links for any musician looking for music. And the drumroll please…
A great site which offers free sheet music for piano, guitar, brass and more. This looks like a great resource with an active forum. It looks like they offer a lot for free and extras for those who subscribe to a paid service.

Ricci Adams’
This site offers free lessons, training games, and music utilities online. Further, it offers the complete course in downloadable version!

There are some highly-rated music theory DVD’s, software titles, and books available at Amazon, too:

My grandma wanted to pay for me to get piano lessons when I was a kid. Now I wish I’d taken her up on the offer. As an adult, I don’t know if I have the interest. Also, having played by ear, slowing down to plink out quarter notes would be torture. What do you think?

Do you have favorite music theory or tutorial websites? Please, share them in the comments!

Puppy tug-o-war FTW!

The kids got a good game of tug-o-war going this afternoon, their first. Stella’s played tug with my mother-in-law’s little dog, but this is the first time she’s played it with Emma. She can hold her own!

This evening we went to a neighborhood cookout at some friends’ and Stella came along. She was a good girl and loved all the attention.

Scrabble Express game great when you’re short on time

Howie and I found a great new game at Target last night. It’s not brand new, but a variation on Scrabble called Scrabble Express. They market it as being a 20-minute game.

Scrabble isn’t the only express version out there, though. There are several Hasbro express games available, including Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, and Battleship. Howie and I love the idea of having a few quick-to-play games to keep handy for trips to the coffee shop or a game at home.

They’re brief games nice for kids with shorter attention spans — well, shoot, for adults with short attention spans!

We haven’t played the express versions of the other games, but I can tell you about Scrabble Express since we did play it last night. First, let me tell you the main way it differs from a regular Scrabble game.A traditional Scrabble game includes 100 letter tiles and a board consisting of a 15×15 grid.

In the Express game, however, there are 12 dice, each with 6 different letters on them; the Q is actually Qu and there is one blank.The playing board is an 11×11 grid. Also in the snap-lidded plastic game box are a 1-minute timer, black bag for the dice, a small pad of paper, and a pencil. The container is compact and sturdy.

Play is easy. Each player rolls a die and the person with the letter closest to A goes first. This process replaces each person drawing tiles to see who goes first.

Assuming you’re the first one up, you roll seven dice, then make a word on the board out of the letters you get. You score the words like you would in a regular game of Scrabble, only this board has both double and triple word and letter score squares.

When you’re done making your word, you put the remaining letters back in the bag. The next player removes 7 dice from the bag and rolls them. If there are less than 7, the player rolls all of the dice. That person has to make a word which connects with your word at some point.

When that person’s done placing a word on the board and tallying up his score, he removes the previous player’s word from the board, with the exception of the single letter where his word joined the previously-played word. Any leftover dice join the previous word’s dice in the bag for the next player to use.

So, you see, there is only one word on the board at the beginning of each person’s turn. This process continues until someone reaches 200 points or some other pre-determined figure. There is a minute timer you can use if you want to keep the game moving (no word in 1 minute means you get no points for your turn).

I liked the game because people can talk and visit while playing. Since each new turn means new letters, there is no need to ponder your rack of letters and figure out what you’re going to play two or three turns ah

ead. It’s also a nice quick game to play at the coffee shop, which is what we did last night. Our friends Steve and Francie joined us and played a round with us. With the timer in use, a game only takes about 20 minutes; our game went longer than that, but still not as long as a full game of Scrabble would have gone.

If you like playing games, but your friends and family don’t always want to commit to a long drawn-out game, these express games might be just the thing for you!