finished deck

rebuilt deck and boardwalk

I’ve finally finished the deck project I started last winter.  The old walkway and deck was rotted and dangerous.  The hard work of demolition, posthole digging, purchasing, cutting, leveling and fitting was done.  I had only to finish drilling and screwing on the boards to the walkway when I broke my hand in February.  And then I kind of forgot about it being at the side of the house and all.   Gina and friend Alison helped this morning with some of the spacing and the power tools.  Its done.  All the decking is synthetic composite.  Materials were about $1200.

Sugarland and the B-52’s

The Country Music Television awards show was last week, and featured this really cool surprise stage collaboration.   We saw Sugarland perform Love Shack in their Encore last fall, and according to this article, this is the first time they got together with the B52′s on it.   Fun Fun Fun.

open mic

Can't buy Me LoveWednesday night was the public debut of our brand new a cappella group formed of mostly caroling friends.  It was at a weekly open mic held at Bob and Max’s new smoke-free neighborhood hangout, Paddy McGee’s.

I was rehearsing earlier in the evening with Makeshift so we all adjourned to join up with the new group and scope out the venue. I’d been to the place during happy hour a couple of times, but never was able to get much information about the open mic vibe or protocols.  Turned out, some young guys from Full Sail were newly in charge of the event, and things were a little disorganized and running late.  Once a blank notebook page finally appeared we signed up both Makeshift and the new group tentatively named “Soy Chai”.   I invited a guitar guy to perform between us to break up our sets.

Makeshift opened up and we were pretty ON.  Good confidence builder because we’ve had some stumbles the last few times we’ve been out on-mic in front of people. We debuted our new arrangement of Surfer Girl.

After the guitar guy, 6 members of Soy Chai crammed onto the little stage, and we sang our two practiced numbers – a Kings Singers arrangement of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and a slick jazzy arrangement of “Misty”.  Then we grabbed our sheet music and stepped through a complex 6-part arrangement of Norah Jones “Don’t know why”.    This song is going to be a show stopper when we get it polished up!

I then called up Nick and Pete to sing with myself and Soy Chai co-founder A.C. to close the set.   A.C. recently subbed for Seth on a short set Makeshift did for Gina’s season ending crew banquet.  So we four closed out with a rousing performance of “Zombie Jamboree”.

Bob and Max of course were there and were enormously entertaining to my new singing pals. They bought a round of drinks. Other guests and a couple of spouses came by.  It was all great fun.  I also got a name and phone number to set up a gratis recording session over at Full Sail, and I provided a business card to a retirement home activity director.   Wins all around.  Linda missed it due to her book group meeting.

facebook vs. blogging

My independent blog is almost 5 years old.  (FB readers see  I’ve been thinking of discontinuing it in favor of posting, sharing and interacting exclusively in Facebook (FB).  I’ve got a lot more friends and acquaintances on FB than ever visit the blog, and there are great tools built in to FB for sharing links, photos and multimedia.    My FB circles are wide and include my church, family, my workplace, singers from opera, barbershop and caroling, some old HS acquaintances, even a few students and some sportsmen.

It didn’t seem to make sense to keep maintaining the blog when there’s such a vibrant community on FB, with many sharing and commenting in the FB environment.    I did find that through the tech of RSS, I can automatically feed my blog posts into my FB profile.   The catch is that media that’s formatted for the blog, doesn’t translate well into FB.  So videos and slideshows don’t convey.

If I went exclusively on FB, I’d lose the self-contained searchable archive accessible in the blog.  That feature is useful, to find an old personal photo, to confirm a date, or recover a link I remember visiting in the past.  And I’ve got several dozen blog posts that I really value for the writing and/or personal perspective.  It is a genuine journal of my life since 2004.  I don’t want to lose or abandon that.

Here’s the compromise: I will continue to post the important personally-written stuff on the blog – things like my most influential books, or musings about technology, health, current affairs or parenting.     I’ll continue to archive my photographs and videos on and youtube, but I’ll be sharing most media, humor and web linkage on FB.   The blog activity will become more infrequent, and it will be predominately pith.

Here’s the beauty of it: you can keep up with all of it simply by friending and following me on FB.   If you want to read or join in on running commentary on any of my blog posts, best to go over and see them on FB.    One of the interesting phenomena on FB is seeing unacquainted persons from completely different circles engaged in dialog over a post by a mutual friend.

basic cooking items

Interesting selection of tools in this blog post about furnishing a minimalist kitchen.  I like the mix of very old school (cast iron) with new technology (infrared thermometer).   Of course with only 10 items, there’s a lot left out.   I suggest you can’t get by without a spoon!  What do you think?   I think I’m going to pull out my iron skillet a little more often.

clutter-hoarding scale

The blog has an interesting item about assessing a household’s level of disorganization.   They reference the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization’s Clutter-Hoarding Scale.  The Scale has five levels, with a level one being a light amount of clutter and a level five being an unlivable and unsafe environment.  For example, a level III indicator is audible, but not visible, evidence of rodents!

You can download a copy of the Clutter-Hoarding Scale off the NSGCD website.

thanks unclutterer.


We haven’t spoken with Gina, but we’ve exchanged text and images by cellphone.  I gave her a running text commentary from the crew banquet Saturday night. Last night at 12:22am EST I received this photo, so I guess she caught up with the West Coast Reeds!

Rick and Kelsy

UCF announces program cuts

Ouch. 2 of them are online programs. 51 faculty and staff, and 1,000+ students affected. The students will be given 2 years to complete their programs. We’ve postponed this action as long as possible. FSU and UF have previously announced cuts. State funding is drying up.

(what does it say that UCF went to to distribute this video instead of our own resources?)
News release here.