Dan's Green Shoes

Got my green shoes on!


Skype-based Guitar lessons

At the age of 36, I decided it was finally time to check off 1 item on my bucket list, learning the guitar. Fast forward 3 years later and learning the guitar has taken a back seat to family and career. It’s difficult to fit it all in. Though a lesson is typically only 30 minutes long, when you add the drive and parking, it can easily take 1 to 2 hours.

On a whim one day, I decided to search online for Skype-based guitar lessons. I found this CNET article about Lance Allen out of Nashville. I decided to shoot Lance an email and low and behold, we set up a 30 minute session once a week. The price for 30 minutes was exactly the same as the previous face to face lessons.

The day of the first lesson, I actually forgot. Fortunately, my calendar was set to remind me 5 minutes before the lesson. The beauty of Skype-based lessons is that I was able to quickly grab my guitar, point my face toward my camera on my laptop and wait for Lance to call me. Lance was very personable and the lesson went very well. The lesson only cost my day 30 minutes of time.

To my pleasant surprise, the lesson was very effective.

· Lance was able to tell my guitar was out of tune.

· During the lesson, Lance uses Skype’s instant messages to write down instructions, tabs, notes etc. This makes it very easy to copy and paste and save for later.

· Price is comparable to face to face lessons.

· The camera is able to work around personal space issues. Lance can point the camera to various angles that really enhance the learning experience.

I highly recommend giving Skype-based guitar lessons a try.


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ProModel Harlem Shake

I just had to share this.  Aaron Nelson heads up ProModel’s support group.  He has a great sense of humor and does a great job.

Aaron produced this video that shows a simulation model of various ProModel employees doing the Harlem Shake.  Please take note that the model is even capturing stats and shows reports at the end of the video.

Simulating the Harlem Shake

If you are unfamiliar with the Harlem Shake Internet meme, please check this out.


One of the top 5% most viewed @LinkedIn profiles

I received an email this morning from LinkedIn stating I was one of the top 5% most viewed profiles.


I am pleasantly shocked by this.  I “think” this is something i should be excited about, but honestly, i just don’t know…

I think it is now time to turn off that automatic profile clicker I installed on all the computers at my office Smile.


My disappointing AncestryDNA results

According to family stories, my Great Grandmother was 100% Native American.  Whenever I share this, the common response is “man, you could get free college, did you know that?”.  (BTW, I did a quick google on this and the rumor of free college for Native Americans is not true.).  As a child I was known for getting extremely tan in the summers and everyone used to say “must be that Cherokee in him!”.  So funny.

I already paid for college education, but, I have to admit, I desired to claim I was Native American.  In fact, I could not wait to see how much of a mutt I was.  Heck, the more the merrier was my thinking.  So, with great disappointment, allow me to share my results….


How amazingly boring!  I am 96% from modern day England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales.  Where is Great Grandmother’s Native American blood?  I so badly want to drill into the measly 4% and get me some good ole diversity out of it.  I anxiously waited 4 weeks to be boring, /sigh.

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Can DNA testing reveal my true surname?

I have been using  www.ancestry.com to build up my family tree.  The experience has been fun and interesting to say the least.  For example, my research suggests that my surname should NOT be Hickman.

Allow me to explain….


My father is Donal Ray Hickman, whose father is Dolon Hickmon.   Dolon’s mother was Thetis Brumley.  Though the picture above shows James as the father of Dolon, I don’t believe this is correct.  Check this timeline out:


Thetis had my grandfather Dolon in 1920.  Thetis was married to James in 1922.  Thetis and James had a son named James Junior a year later in 1923.    I think it is weird to name your second child “Junior”.

My grandfather Dolon lists Oklahoma as his birth place, though all my family is from Tennessee.  I shared this with my father to which he basically said I was out of my mind.  Couple of weeks later, my dad and mom called me.  My dad (Donal) remembers his Dad’s (Dolon) brother James Junior referring to Dolan as his “half brother”.   He never really gave it much thought until now.

My folks made some calls and the rumor is that Thetis was working as a servant to a doctor in Tennessee who might have gotten Thetis pregnant.  Out of embarrassment, the family moved Thetis to Oklahoma to have Dolon and then 2 years later moved back to Tennessee where she met and married James Hickman.   To keep things socially acceptable, they just gave Dolon the Hickman surname.

I do not have Dolon Clyde Hickmon birth certificate.  I tried to get it from Oklahoma but was denied due to lack of supporting information.   I do have Dolon’s Army papers where he listed Oklahoma as his birth place.  I am stuck.  It really bothers me that my surname of Hickman might not be correct.  It changes everything yet nothing at all.  I requested a quote from professional genealogists and boy was it expensive with no guarantee.  I turned it down.

I love technology, science and big data.  DNA testing definitely fascinates me.  Ancestry.com invited me to beta their new DNA service.  I ordered and received the kit, spit in a tube and mailed it back.  Waiting on the results was very similar to waiting on receiving a new gadget.  Weird, but waiting can be fun.  I now have my results but I am not yet ready to share.  Promise to be back soon.


The Case of the Thirsty 3rd Grader

My daughter Lily generally takes her lunch to school. She prefers milk over a juice box. Since the milk would be warm by the time she would drink it, she buys the milk. The school has a food account and Lily has plenty of money in it to buy whatever she wants.

Lately when Lily gets home from school my wife and I noticed she was guzzling something to drink. My wife and I interrogated her but were unable to extract why she was suddenly dehydrating herself. It was obvious Lily was withholding some information. My wife checked her food account and confirmed she was not spending anything.

We asked Lily again and she admitted to not buying milk but gave no explanation. We volunteered to add a juice box to her lunch but she refused.

So my wife decides to go undercover as a lunch volunteer. She witnesses Lily eating with no drink. The next day she reports back the 3rd grade lunch process and explains the following policies:

1. 5th graders arrive first, followed by the 4th graders, followed by the 3rd graders.

2. Lily is in 3rd grade. There are three 3rd grade classes consisting of 20 to 30 students. Lily’s class is the last class to enter.

3. Holding seats for friends is not allowed.

4. Peanut-free food eaters are required to sit at the grade specific “peanut table”.

My wife and I are still stumped. I decide to do a model pro bono.

Video Re-Enactment

The current lunch process looks like this:

Lily’s Lunch Process Simulation Continue reading


Lefty Simian Line

Me:  Hey Mom, this is Dan.  I am doing a blog and something interesting I think about me is the story you shared about my monkey palm.  Since I never let the truth stand in the way of good story, thought I would interview you so people know your version and not mine.

Mom:  Oh, sure honey.  What do you need to know?

Me:  What happened when I was born?

Mom:  Well, your head was super lopsided.  It was pretty big too.  I think the doctors used the word deformity to describe it.

Me:  Umm…ok, don’t hold back.

Mom: It was really spooky.  The deformity was so bad that the doctors felt you would have serious learning disabilities.  The doctor performed a bunch of tests like throwing you in the air and other reaction tests.  You must have failed.

Me:  Why?

Mom:  Well, they decided we needed to see a lopsided head specialist.

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