It seems most of my coworkers either have no Irish spirit (which is something many people have this time of year, whether they have any Irish heritage or not) or don’t own green clothing. If I were to assume one over the other, I’m not sure which one would be giving them the benefit of the doubt…

This past weekend we saw crazy storms here in Atlanta. Friday night saw a few funnel clouds that wrecked random parts of town, including (oddly enough) parts of midtown and downtown. The next day saw more bad weather with more tornado warnings and horribly-sized hailstones. Luckily, down here in Fayette county, we avoided all of the bad weather. It was wet on Saturday, but absolutely awesome yesterday. We spent most of the time on the deck under a big umbrella. Malin was apparently not completely under the umbrella since she turned red on her shoulders. Luckily for us, Will and I completely avoided oversunning.

Work has been very busy for me for the past month, and it has been picking up for Malin over the past few weeks. That is the main reason I haven’t posted in over a month. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Other reasons are that there hasn’t been a lot going on lately… Will’s addiction to Lego Star Wars has not abated, so we’ve decided to cut him off from XBox for a while. We’re interested to see exactly what Will will be like after he gets through this painful period of withdrawal.

We had thought about getting a Nintendo Wii. In fact, we still are thinking about it. They are still hard to come by, however. I figured the lack of availability was limited to Christmas season, but here in March they are still hard to get. We ventured out last weekend, determined to purchase one, but the Toys’R’Us had just sold their last one. They directed us to another location in Morrow that still had two more in stock. But, alas, by the time we got to Morrow (about a 15-20 minute drive from Fayetteville), they too were sold out.

We will not be getting the Lego Star Wars game for Wii (despite the fact that it includes the original trilogy and looks really cool…). We’ll try to stick with games that are more interactive from a physical perspective. You know, swinging-the-controller-around-like-a-crazy-person kind of interactive – like sports. These should help him outgrow his addiction to Star Wars (he even dreams about it lately). I’m almost afraid to ever show him the movies – afraid that he’ll become so unhealthily engrossed in it again. We’ll see. He’s about at an age where Malin and I would be comfortable with him watching the first movie (the original from 1977, not Episode I) – were it not for his current obsession anyway.

So lately we’ve been trying to find other things to keep his interest. Luckily, he likes reading (or rather being read to – he’s not reading by himself yet). He also likes Webkinz: simple online games, completely absent of light sabers, Jedis, and Jango Fett (Will’s favorite character). Plus there are interesting ways to interact with the Webkinz pets – like helping the pets brush their teeth, build a vegetable garden, eat food, go to work, and go to school. You can even direct the pets to go to the potty (speaking of which, Will has been doing much better with regard to potty-training lately).

Another thing that Will has gotten interested in is “playing music notes”. Years ago, when I was in college, I wrote a DOS-based MIDI composition program. It is actually what I used to get most of my music into electronic form. Malin doesn’t care for the music: she can’t get past the fake instruments and distinctly video-game-like sound produced from my computer’s MIDI card. But Will likes it, and calls it “music notes”. He doesn’t mind listening to the music, but his favorite part is just changing the colors of the user interface so that everything looks hideous – from electric green to neon pink and everything in between. Then he’ll play a track to see how it looks.

Until recently, I was unable to run my program since I no longer have a sound card that works with DOS drivers (i.e. a Yamaha-OPL2/OPL3-compatible synthesizer with MPU-401-compatible MIDI device, running on default I/O ports). But my friend Scott clued me into DOSBox recently, and it works like a charm. It emulates old DOS hardware to run almost any old DOS application or video game while using your current, state-of-the-art devices and Windows drivers under-the-hood. I had to tweak the settings to get everything to run just right, but now it does.

Since installing DOSBox, I’ve used the program to write a couple of new songs. You’ve been warned – all sounds were generated from the MIDI hardware on my computer, so they’ll have a very video-game kind of sound. It doesn’t help that my expertise does not lie in orchestration. So sometimes I pick MIDI tracks that I think sound good, but they only further the “video game” quality of the music. I’ll let you decide. Here are two songs I wrote over the past week: song1 and song2. Sorry if the downloads are slow – the files are kind of big because these MP3s were encoded at a very high bitrate (nothing but the best for my original music!)

Just for some perspective, here a couple of songs that I wrote ten years ago, while still in college: song3 and song4. I’ve got lots and lots of these laying around, so maybe I’ll post more later. I’ll definitely post links so you can download my MIDI software and the DOSBox configuration for it to run sweetly. I’ll try to do so before another month goes by…