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Red Cone on Labor Day


We had some family fun on Labor Day. We dropped of Cora and picked up nephew Devon, and went off-roading at Red Cone.

On our way!


Home, Sweet Home


Home ownership is wonderful. And by wonderful, I mean terrible. And by terrible I mean wonderful. Maybe I should tell you what I mean.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that when you buy a house it is surprising how much it entails. I’m still continually surprised and have owned (by which I mean the bank owns) a house for more than a decade. I envisioned “dust and vacuum” and a few other jobs. Here are just a few of the tasks that were previously not on my “things you do when you have a house” checklist:

  • Grab a screwdriver and a ladder so you can inspect the fake rock face of your house for mud wasp/hornet nests. These are easiest removed in the winter when the previous generation is dead and the next ones are still larva. After prying the nests off the house, don’t forget t sweep the mud and larva off your porch.
  • When you turn on an outside water spigot for the first time in the spring, don’t forget to make sure your basement isn’t flooding because someone left the hose on the spigot once in the middle of the winter.
  • Check to make sure your outside air conditioning unit isn’t tilted and hanging by the compressor line because the ground under it sank.
  • Check for mold in your bathroom, even if you live in an arid climate and run the bathroom vent fan.
  • In the spring, go buy bags of mulch to replace the mulch that blew away last year.
  • In the fall, when you mow the yard the last time, make sure to cut it short so you don’t find families of field mice the next spring making visible trails through your yard.
  • On the coldest day of winter, climb into your attic to make sure your upstairs heater’s condensation drain line heater (you read than right) hasn’t tripped the circuit causing the drain line to freeze causing your heater to not heat.
  • Readjust and align your doors because your house may have “settled.” (And you thought is was the people that settled in the house.)
  • You do know to clean the weep holes for your windows every year, right? Yeah, me neither.


Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!


What a year! Each seems to go by faster. There were ups and downs but we’re still here, so thankful for God’s grace.  So thankful for our family and friends. We hope you have had and will have a wonderful year!

Mark, Nicole, Lincoln, and Cora

Holidays 2010


Here’s a time-lapse video we did of some Christmas decorating this year.  If you watch closely you can see Cora pseudo-crawl and Lincoln sliding down the stairs.  Click on the arrows on the bottom right to see the video full-screen.

We hope that you and yours have happy holidays!

Click on through for previous holiday videos.


Family Time in the Bumblebee


I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a random day off to just be with my family, but that was today and it was great. We loaded up in the Bumblebee (my Suzuki Sidekick) and headed for the mountains.

Man-Venture™ 2010


Last year I met up with my college friends, John and Howell, in Washington D.C. (pictures here). This spring we were looking for an excuse to get together again. Out of the deep and murky waters of our brains was birthed the Man-Venture™.  The idea was to squeeze as many manly activities into a visit as possible, each adding more hair to our chests than the last. Ryan was able to join us as well making a quartet of quirky Quatermains. In under a week we raced karts, did car work, played frisbee golf, hiked and camped, scaled precipitous heights, and went off-roading. We were dripping with manliness (or something) by the end. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for rhinoceros hunting, spear fishing, and volcano jumping.  Maybe next year.

We had perfect weather and fully enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation.  Click on the “more” button for some highlights.


Washington D.C., 2009


I’m a little behind on my blogging.  A year ago, my college friend, Howell, got married. This was the perfect excuse for Nicole and I to go visit Howell and other buddy John and his family.  Nicole was pregnant with Cora and we left Lincoln for the first time.  We spent a couple days traipsing around D.C. and then went to the wedding in Pennsylvania.  Click on the “more” button for some highlights.


July the 3rd, 2010


Each year on the July the 3rd, we go out on our little deck and watch fireworks set-off from the neighborhood across the way.  I have no idea why they are on the third or how that neighborhood can afford such nice fireworks, but they are enjoyable enough that the next day I feel no need to drive anywhere to see more.  Here are some shots from this year.

Click on the “more” button to see, well, more.  –Mark.


Erie Balloons 2010


I took a time lapse out of my bedroom window of the Erie Town Fair Balloon launch.  The music is from a challenge on my Doctor Obvious Studio Facebook page.  The challenge was to make a techno version of Flight of the Bumblebee.  Go there to hear the results of other challenges, including a polka version of Lady Gaga, a song about cake, and more.  And you can suggest a new musical challenge!

Thankful – 2009


Here are just a few of the reasons I’m thankful this year. These are pictures we’ve taken, and though they may be worth thousands of words, but more can be said for sure. God is good. (Notice the dove on the mountain…)

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Mark, Nicole, Lincoln, and Cora

P.S. You can click the little square on the player above to make it full screen, and click “HD” to watch in high definition if your connection supports it (or if you don’t mind waiting).

Introducing: Cora Ciara Phillips


Born at 5:10am on her due date of November 12th after 16 hours of labor (with only an hour at the hospital), Cora came into the world with a full head of hair (currently looks dark brown), weighing 8 lbs. 9 oz., and measuring 22.5 inches long. She’s a big little girl! Nicole delivered naturally and did super. She’s pretty tired but is doing okay.


Murder Mysteries!


Foglight Games Murder Mysteries.

My exceedingly creative and always entertaining friend, Bret Carter, has written 3 murder mysteries! Having put one on before, I know the games are not easy to put together. His include up to twenty characters and he aimed for somewhere between too easy and too hard. He teamed up with a business partner, they’ve tested them and are ready to go with a website and everything. There are alien, super hero, and WWII themes and all are appropriate for teens or adults. I couldn’t resist putting a plug in here:



Lincoln wore a cute Lion outfit that Grandma Marnie made.

Nicole capitalized on the pregnancy (Humpty Dumpty) and I capitalized on the recent news (balloon boy):

Lincoln has some interesting things to say:

Halloween + Blizzard = Snow Pumpkin


We live at the end of a cul-de-sac. No, not the cool traffic free end, the other end. We’re having a big snow and last night I heard a plow pushing snow out of the cul-de-sac onto our yard. We noticed an 8 ft. tall mound this morning. So, what to do?

Make a snow-pumpkin of course!


Wordless Wednesday



Music Monday II: Epic Story Songs


Over the past two years, I’ve come across 3 songs that transcend the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format to music tell stories on an epic scale. While progressive rock often has atypical song structures and immense stories of fantasy, these songs are accessible to the masses (sill sound like pop/rock) and tell life stories.

The first has been around a while: Billy Joel’s “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant“. For seven and a half minutes it uses various musical styles to tell the rise and fall of a relationship and ties it all together with a casual storyteller-style. A “greatest hit” for good reason.


SYD on TV (or “Look! That’s the back of my head!”)


Over the past couple of years I’ve recorded the Singing Youth of Denver (SYD) at various times. Recently I was recording them when the director, Lee Cole, was honored as a “Channel 7 Everyday Hero”. As I set up my audio equipment, they were preparing to film the kids. The segment aired on TV recently and you can see the video here. If you look carefully near the beginning when you see the choir, you’ll see my laptop and the back of my head. No, really, it’s my head. –Mark

India Part III: Orchids? We kid.


After Jaldapara we headed from the plains into the mountains, the Himalayas to be precise. We were still in the state of West Bengal, but the terrain was to change significantly. Taking another reserved jeep, we hit the road (and believe me, it hit us back).

We could see the Bhutanese Himalayas to the north of us and we drove on the plains, often crossing rivers with little water, but wide beds of mountain gravel. During monsoon, it would be a different story.

In this picture you can see a tall chimney. These were for brick-making, and dotted the area. If you look carefully on the right side of the picture (you may need to click on it to see it more clearly), there is a dump truck in the stream bed. We commonly saw piles of rocks that people were making from the stones in the river bed. They were then loaded onto trucks which took them to construction projects. At times we saw people smashing rocks by hand to make gravel.

Updates from India


Update 1: Missed connection in London… will now be going through Delhi. Only have 1 more minute on this paid internet connection. Adventure begins.

Update 2: Made it to Kolkata. Now, to figure out how to get to the train station. Nicole has used a “squatty potty”. I’m holding off. Delhi’s air was dreadful. Kolkata much better. Definitely an adventure.

Update 3: We are now in Gangtok, the capitol of Sikkim, India. We have been in taxies, an overnight train, jeeps, microvans, more jeeps, on trails, public buses, and a gondola. Lincoln has had (and recovered from) giardia. We’ve had southern Indians meals and those in the style of Nepali cooking. We’ve had to adjust our plans multiple times (Ryan and Amanda escorted a woman with labor issues to a hospital in Kalimpong). We are all doing well and really look forward to sharing pictures and stories!

Update 4: We are now in Varanasi by way of Allahabad (an unintentional 6 hour detour involving a missed train station). Whoah! What a city. We can add cycle-richshaws to our vehicle list and camels to our lists of animals seen. To get to the ghats (steps down to the holy Ganges river), you can’t even take a cycle-rickshaw as the “roads” become alleyways… a maze of corridors usually wide enough for a person and a bicycle (or motorcycle) to get down to the river. Speaking of mazes, you have to carefully negotiate the cow patties and other refuse. Our hotel (which we almost didn’t get to) is nice. The city is overwhelming. There will be plenty to say and I think I may have taken close to 1000 pictures… which would be worth a million words. Tomorrow we will begin the multiday effort toward home.

Update 5: We are home, safe, sound and jet-lagged. We think Nicole and Lincoln have giardia, but that should be overcome soon enough. I look forward to sorting pictures and sharing stories. Like how I almost lost our camera in London. Or the 27-second bus ride. Of any of a thousand things. More hopefully soon!

Update 6: Well, when we returned our computer had died. So I got a new one on Black Friday. And then when it was about ready, I re-painted the floor in the garage (long story), which unfortunately released so much fumage that we had to evacuate our house at 1 am to avoid the carcinogens. So we’re staying at my Mom’s house (almost a week now). When we get back to the house, we’ll try to get some pictures up!

The ABCs, by Devon


My nephew made a guest appearance today in the studio. He sang some of his kindergarten knowledge “A Cappella.” I recorded it, and may have added a little music to it after the fact.

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