Happy 64th Birthday, Dad!

Today my dad, Randy Shirts, turns 64. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the Shirts clan banded together (pun intended) to create this little video. Enjoy! And Happy Birthday, Dad!

The FrostyShirts’ 2013 in review

Here is what our year looked like.  I’d say 2013 was a pretty good year for us.

We got into this:


I did this to my hair (it was fun while it lasted, but probably never again)


We went to our first drag show with these people:


We went to Nashville, TN to visit the Lovejoys and Nemelkas and ate really good and really spicy chicken


I played my last recital at the Jacobs School of Music at IU:


I taught these awesome kids (plus more not pictured!):


Jake got into an awesome program in in Analytics (business statistics) at this school:


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Interested in Chairs? We are too.

The Hunt Library on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU) is home to over 70 different unique and interesting chairs.  Every Wednesday, alongside our team lead Peter Baumgartner, we highlight a new chair and its designer on our tumblr Chairs of Hunt Library.






Check out the Chairs of Hunt Library Trailer from Peter Baumgartner on Vimeo.

Enjoy learning about each chair design with us each Wednesday!  Also, feel free to come to Raleigh to enjoy a personal tour of the library! (May I remind all you family and friends, we have an extra bedroom?)

God speaks SAS, right?

For those who are unfamiliar with it, SAS is an industry-standard statistical software used all over the world. As part of the Analytics program I’m currently in, we are encouraged to prepare for and take a Base SAS Certification Exam, which tests one’s ability to interpret and debug basic SAS code on sight, by memory–an incredibly useful skill, since most people writing SAS code are doing so in a dark, underground bunker on a DOS system with no internet access. Wait…

Well, useful or not, I took the test and passed. Now I can be considered among the ranks of the low, low level SAS code monkeys, which is a high honor indeed. In honor of the occasion, I thought “What if I wrote the Lord’s Prayer as a SAS program?” This is what I came up with. If there are any SAS experts out there, I’m sure I didn’t use the most sophisticated approach, so if there are any suggestions on how to improve my code, I’d love to hear them!

lord's prayer

Grandma Maxine Shirts’ 90th Birthday: Amazing stories of her ancestors

On July 25, 2013, my grandmother, Dorothy Maxine Baird Shirts, celebrated her 90th birthday in Cedar City, Utah with a bunch of the Shirts clan.  For those interested, here are the PowerPoint slides with pictures of her ancestors and maps showing where they lived etc:  Maxines90th

and the text for their narration  Maxines90thTEXT

For Family:  If you have corrections or stories about our ancestors that you could contribute to their histories, please email them to my father at


Erica’s Golden Birthday Present

Erica’s Golden Birthday Present

Erica and I had to be apart for her golden 25th birthday. However, I put together a gift she could enjoy long-distance–a faux-This American Life podcast, complete with interviews from friends and family, about her life. This link will allow you to download the file, if you’d like to listen to it. Enjoy Erica’s Golden Moments!

Wrapping up in Bloomington: Erica’s Performer Diploma Recital

As our time in Bloomington comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all of the exciting, engaging, uplifting, difficult, stressful, inspiring, and life-changing moments I’ve experienced here.  Maybe one day I’ll write more about them, but for now I’ll just post the video to my last recital at the Jacobs School of Music as some family members and friends have requested me to.

The day of my Performer Diploma Recital– March 22nd 2013–Jake found out that he got into his top choice for graduate school in Analytics and Statistics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.  March 22nd was a day full of excitement for things to come, but also a day full of emotional grasping for what we had as we realized what little time we had left in Bloomington.  I felt so loved and supported by all those that attended the recital and watched via the live stream (with brief messages from Subaru and and insurance companies…).  And I felt really proud of Jake for achieving what he had been working for all year.

Below are links to the pieces I played.  I hope you enjoy watching/listening to them as much as I enjoyed playing them.

Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47.  Written in 1904, the Sibelius Violin Concerto is one of the Finnish Romantic Composer’s most famous pieces.  You can read more about here:

Spiegel im Spiegel, Arvo Pärt.  This piece is a minimalist piece in the Tintannabular style written by the living, Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt.  He is one of my favorite composers.  Check out all of the many variations another of his pieces called Fratres.

Mozart Violin Sonata in G Major, K.379, written around 1765, is also known as Mozart’s 11th sonata for piano and violin.  The stormy Allegro in the first movement seems like it is more in the style of Beethoven than in the style of Mozart.

How hot is Hattie B’s spicy chicken?

Over spring break, we took a road trip down south to Nashville Tennessee, “the greenest state in the land of the free.”  During our trip, we ate a lot of food.  Specifically meat dipped in sauce.  Our favorite rendition of meat dipped in sauce was Hattie B’s Spicy Chicken.  There are 6 levels of spicy-ness: Country style, Mild, Medium, Hot, Damn Hot, and Shut the Cluck Up.  The following is a slide show of Jake eating a Hattie B’s “Hot” chicken tender. Just to give you an idea of how hot we’re talking, I like spicy stuff and Mild was really spicy.

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Short films for your perusal

Here are some short films for you and yours to peruse.

This is a stop-motion animation film that my sister, Caitlin, did for her MFA at the University of Connecticut.  It’s a little dark, but a lot of awesome.

This is Jake’s submission for the Arrested Development competition.  It’s a short film based on an episode where the Bluth family holds a charity function for a cause, but since they’re terrible people and can’t agree on a cause, they hold it in the name of TBA.  Jake didn’t win, but he should have because one of the winning videos was LAME.


From 5k to half marathon- how you can too!


  • Good running shoes from a legit running store. Try on a bunch.  Run on a treadmill for at least a mile on them.  They should help you run corrently (ball–>heel, not the other way around)
  • Friend/s to train with.  Waking up early on Saturday mornings to do a 10 mile run by yourself just begs for your snooze button to be hit multiple times.
  • Water
  • Ibprophen
  • running pants/shorts/capris that don’t make you chafe

Preparation time: 10-12 weeks.

Before the run- looking ready to go (but really scared inside)

The following is what I did to go from running a 5k to 13.1 miles without walking in 10 weeks.  There are lots of websites with advice and training programs, but I think this is a pretty simple way to go that worked for me.

The Process:

  • Run 2-3 miles 2x/week up until the week of the race
  • Schedule 1 day and time that you will run your long run every week. (Mine was Saturday mornings).
  • Each week add one more mile to that long run to build up stamina. Por ejemplo: week 1- 3 miles, Week 2- 4 miles, Week 3- 5 miles…. Week 10- 12 miles.  Week 11: race day.
  • To be safe, you can have 2 weeks of cushion in case something comes up a couple of the days you set aside that make it so that you can’t run or have time for the full run.

Things I learned the hard way:

  • If your race is on a road- run on the crown.  If you don’t, you will most likely be running on a slant –> uneven distribution of weight and later pain in the ankles.
  • Look at the map before hand. This seems obvious, right? Well not to me, and the starting and the finishing lines for the Geist Half Marathon up being 5 miles away from each other.  Jake ended up walking the distance to find me and missed me crossing the finish line by 20 minutes. #LongStoryIncludingBaffledPoliceMan.
  • Get there in time to go to the bathroom.  There were medium-length lines for the portapoties when I got to the race, so I ended up hearing the National Anthem from the bathroom, and had to sprint to the line just in time to hear the gun shot.

    This is your view when you get there late…

  • Don’t drink water at all of the stations, pick a few.  If you drink all the water offered, you will probably feel waterlogged, like me at mile 9.  If you don’t drink any, you will probably have leg cramps like my friend at mile 10.
  • Take Ibprophen before runs longer than 5 miles.  At first, I thought this was for sissies, or maybe that if I was in pain, I should know about it and drugs shouldn’t dull it.  Then I ran long runs and I quickly changed my opinion.  Your muscles/joints swell when you run for a long time and they just start hurting.  Ibprophen can counteract that a bit and make for much more pleasant runs.
  • Bring an iPod in case you don’t stick with your running mates and you need to stay entertained. Pretty self explanatory.

    The great women I ran with

    After the run #righteousbabestance. Final running time: 2:05:09.