A Quick Task! Chapter 1:

On Monday, September 26, 2016 Judy and I set out in Arcturus to accomplish a couple of housekeeping tasks. First was to dump the tanks, one of those disgusting but necessary jobs that must be done periodically. Robin Williams in his movie “RV” makes great sport of this simple task. But I digress, this task went smoothly and soon we arrived at our second destination. The Less Schwab store on Imbrie Drive where we had an appointment to exchange our dead 15 year old chassis batteries for a pair of new healthy ones. It was a little congested in the truck parking area, but Judy managed to wedge Arcturus between a Gulf war vintage 6×6 exchanging tires and a fully loaded log truck replacing two flats. The transplant went smoothly until it came time to test start the coach. I slid into the driver’s seat and inserted the key. First click activates the cylinder head heaters, wait for the “wait to start” blinking warning light to go out. Read More »


A Quick Task – Chapter 2:

I have a collection of cute sayings that I am likely to quote when the moment is right. I found several “right moments” on Monday last. The sayings that I repeated several times and still couldn’t find answers for were these:

“When you are absolutely certain that everything is exactly right, and it still doesn’t work then something that you are absolutely certain about is most certainly wrong.”

“Go to the last thing you changed and change it back.”

Read More »


This is Why I Volunteer:

Judy and I spent the month of July at Fort Yamhill State Heritage Site. When we first volunteered with the Oregon State Parks in 2013, Matt Heureter, park ranger, offered us a position. Immediately upon arrival Matt offered us the opportunity to take “Core Training” at Canby Oregon. With this training I really got pumped on the interpreting side of volunteering. With my background in band through grade school, high school and Coast Guard training, I got excited about the possibility of learning the Civil War bugle calls and incorporating them in my interpretation.
Well, long-story-short; I bought a bugle and I have used it at three different venues in the past four years. July 2016 started out with the “Fourth of July” celebrations and I dusted off my “Honor the Flag” presentation and offered the opportunity for several visitors that weekend to raise and lower the Fort Yamhill Flag. Because we are a heritage site we are flying a rather large 34 star “Period” flag from the time of the American Civil War. I have seen crusty old former “first sergeants” get choked up over handling the flag of our ancestors. It’s a neat feeling being part of their experience.
On July 30, 2013, I was rocked back on my heels. A Vietnam Veteran, about my age, battered hat and full facial hair, approached me as I was sweeping the parking lot and started to explain that I had done the “Honor the Flag” with him over the July 4th weekend. He went on to explain that it really hit home with him and his son, indicating the man standing beside him. He wanted to thank me and started to offer his hand. I caught a glimmer of metal in his palm as our hands met. Our hands rotated and a coin dropped into my palm.
I looked into his eyes and could see he was a little misty eyed. He started to explain that he had just “Coined” me because the flag ceremony had touched him so deeply. He continued to explain the honor he had just bestowed on me as we stood together examining the two inch diameter coin.
As I reflect on the events of our tour of duty at Fort Yamhill in July of 2016, I get a little choked up myself when I realize that: ”This is why I volunteer.”


A Step Up

We have settled into Fort Yamhill State Heritage Site once again. We were here in 2013, and 2014 also. This park is about 20 miles west of Salem on highway 22 in the Grand Ronde valley. Once again Dr Dave Brauner and his archeology students from Oregon State University will be here looking for the history of this place. Read More »


Cleaning the Paint Brush:

I am currently finishing up a project where I am varnishing a small computer table that swings out over the Co-Pilot’s chair in our motor home.

Computer Table

Computer Table Project

I have decided to give it a three layer marine spar varnish treatment. When you paint it is tempting to wrap the brush in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Now I may look dumb, but I know better than to place a smelly brush in mama’s refrigerator. That means I must clean the brush after each use. The alternative is to buy cheap brushes and toss them. Right! But you see I am already using cheap brushes. I like a simple two inch pig bristle brush that costs under $2 at the hardware store. Let’s see, that is three coats times two sides, or six brushes, which adds up to nearly $12, almost as much as the quart of spar varnish. Read More »


A Little Help Loading Cat Trikes:

Our new Cat Trikes tip the scales at about 30 pounds. Now that is not bad, but they are awkward to load. I checked my inventory of steel tubing and discovered that I had a couple nice lengths of one inch steel tubing left over from building bicycles. I bent a nice radius curve near one end and mounted it down the center of the van as a monorail. Today I designed a trolley to fit the monorail and built it. It has screen slider rollers with fat O-rings for tires and hand bent aluminum frame. Read More »


Spring Break at Wings of History

We are just now leaving the Wings of History compound heading for the Pacific Northwest for the summer. We spent 10 days camped inside our private gated community, so to speak. Here are some of the activities we enjoyed. Read More »


Flat Tire in Oceana:

Today was our second day out of Arizona. We arrived in Oceano, part of the so called five cities that includes Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and perhaps Nipomo and San Louis Obispo.When we started to make our port of call at the five cities Elks lodge we missed the entrance and wound up in a residential neighborhood. Before extracting our selves we developed a puncture in the left front tire. Cesar came to our rescue and patched the tire. Here is an action photo right here on our blog. Read More »


Bluegrass Festival Time in Arizona:

We have been cruising around southwest Arizona for the past four weeks attending three Bluegrass festivals and the Ajo fiddle contest. The past three days in Bullhead City have been the most awesome jamming opportunities of all. Here is a photo of the group we hosted last night at our campsite.
Tomorrow we will make our way to Lake Havasu City for the next festival in two weeks.
Left to right around the circle, Barbra and Joe Magie, a bass player and guitarist that I missed their names, Mick and Fria on mandolin and dobro guitar. That is me standing and a fellow named Steve with his back to the camera. Our campfire is a propane heater and a LED lantern on the table.
Please let me know if there are still recipients out there who do not wish to receive e-mail with photos attached. This photo is 600 kb. I always trim them.


Chord Progressions Spinner:

Have you been here? You are Jammin’ with a group and doing all right on a song that is familiar but not in your normal repertoire. You are just hitting your stride as the song transitions to the “B” part and the chord progression takes a sudden turn and you just can’t quite find the proper chord. You are checking out the other musicians’ fingerings and about then another chord change comes at you.
You can hang on for the next verse and hope to scope it out then. You can make a mental note to ask about the chords before starting the next time. Or… you can grin and fake it.
To help out in this situation I have developed a tool to visualize chord progressions. I call it the “Chord Progression Spinner.”
There are six basic elements to the “Chord Progression Spinner:” (Please refer to Figure 1.)
1. Each “Spinner” represents a single Diatonic Scale, and the chords built on the degrees or notes of that scale.
Figure _1
2. The degrees of the scale are represented in Roman Numerals. That is they are represented by the Roman Numerals I through VII. Upper case for Major Chords and lower case for Minor Chords.
3. The degrees are also represented by the letter names of the notes each chord is built upon. That is “F” is the “F” Major chord and it represents the F, A, C triad. Similarly “g” represents the G Minor chord, the G, Bb, D triad.
4. The “Spinner” part of the presentation is a series of arrows that represent the natural flow of each chord progression as it progresses toward the Tonic or “I” chord.
5. In addition there are chord fingering charts next to each of the spinner positions showing a common fingering for that chord including in some positions the seventh chord. This reduces the need to cross reference to a chord table.
6. Finally there are 16 boxes along the top edge of the Chord Progression Spinner. This Chord Sheet represents measures in the song. Many songs are built around an eight, 16 or 32 bar phrase. You may use them to show the chord progression of the A and B parts of the song you are working on, for example. By placing the “Spinner” in a clear sheet protector you can write out the chord progression, measure by measure, using a “Dry Erase” pen.
Using the “Chord Progression Spinner” is easy. While playing, have the sheet clearly visible for the key of the song you are playing. Practice tracking the chord progression around the “Spinner” tracks. Of course the basic I-IV-V chord progression songs are no challenge, they simply circulate around the three central elements. When a chord progression takes an unusual turn quickly scan the elements close to the point of departure for a likely candidate. Then watch to see if the progression follows one of the “spinner” paths back to the Tonic.
The basic rule is, most songs move from the “comfortable” position, i.e. the Tonic to an uncomfortable position such as a distant chord around the circle of fifths such as the II chord or to a minor chord like the vi chord to create tension then resolves back to the comfortable position to bring relief.
The second rule is a progression can go anywhere at any time, so don’t expect the arrows to be the absolute truth.
The third rule is a progression can move off to a distant chord and then resolve itself by returning directly to the point of departure.
Let’s look at a couple of songs.
“Five Foot Two” is a popular song from the 20’s. I use the progression:

|C |E |A |A7 |D7 |G7 |C |G7 |
|C |E |A |A |D |G7 |C |C |


Notice that the progression starts in the comfort zone on the Tonic, “C”. Leaps out four places on the circle of fifths to “E”, the “III” chord. It then moves steadily back through “A”, “D” and “G” to finally return to the “C” or Tonic chord. Notice also that the 7th form of the chord is intermingled almost randomly into the progression. The 7th chord creates a more urgent need to resolve to the next more comfortable step in the progression. Do not do that with the tonic, that is unless you are intentionally modulating to the Key of F.
Blackberry Blossom requires rote memorization to achieve a working speed. The chord progression is like this:

A part: |G D C G |C G A D |G D C G |C G D G |
B part: |Em | B |Em |C G D G |


I am the first to admit that this is just as complicated as the chord sheet layout. I am visually oriented and I have always preferred a graph to a table. (See if you can follow the chord progression on the Chord Progression Spinner.)
To use the Chord Progression Spinner this way I place it in a clear plastic sheet protector and enter the chord progression in the measures diagram and draw the pattern with a dry erase marker. Whether the spelled out chord progression or the diagram is more helpful to you depends on how you learn things.
If you wish to explore the chord map concept further I invite you to look up the link at Steve Mugglin gave me permission to use concepts derived from this website. Steve’s work is very comprehensive.
I am releasing these forms under the GNU, General Public License which is a copyleft license which means the derived works can only be distributed under the same license terms. Feel free to distribute copies. I will be distributing full color copies of the forms in jpg format through my website, I hope you get some benefit from them.
Gary Dinsmore

Here is a link to where you can pick up a zip file manager. 7 zip Open Source File Archiving Software

Download Guitar sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Guitar Files
Download Mandolin sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Mandolin Files
Download Banjo sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Banjo Files