Merlin Williams: Woodwind Doubling on a Cruise Ship

My good friend Merlin speaks with authority about being a musician on a cruise ship. This video is an excellent education tool for those considering their own qualifications and wanting to know tips and tricks.

You are welcome.

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Muddy Yards and Dirty Shoes

You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it. ~ Denzel Washington

StonePathThree storms have deposited their rain filling our streams, retention ponds, and yards. As I walked across the yard, checking the chickens, plants, and such I was very thankful I had laid garden stones, paths through the muck.

I have been laying these paths and in some cases pivot points right before gates for a number of years. Hauling these stones is no easy work. But now, I have very little mud spots in my yard that had to be repaired every Spring.

I started by digging them in, but now-a-daze I just lay them in place and in less than a year they seat themselves at ground level rather nicely. I do have to trim the grass around them, but I actually enjoy doing that.

So the rains have come and will be in the Northwest for the next 7 months or so. But my shoes will be mostly mud free and my heart light. Enjoy.

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Emergency Planning 2016

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” ~ Mark Twain

SevereWeatherEmergencies come in all forms from severe weather, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and civil unrest. Most of us prioritize thusly: family, friends, work. So when the roads close, for whatever reason, don’t be that fool trying to get to work.

Remember, if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t begin to help others (you become a victim rather than a helper). AND, if you plan ahead and store extra, you are then able to share with the elderly and the under-prepared in your community (you cease being the victim at that point, and you become a rescuer).

Every little bit of individual help like that keeps a disaster from becoming a humanitarian crisis. Never think of home emergency preparedness as a selfish thing to do. It’s a patriotic thing you can do on a local level, as it takes stress off of government relief efforts. Think of it as a humanitarian thing you can do. For instance, what you forego taking from Red Cross during an emergency (because you don’t need it) is basically like giving a donation right back to Red Cross to give to someone else in need. Also, don’t ever forget that humans aren’t the only ones who need help… your animal shelters probably always need extra volunteers and support in emergencies.

Most towns have emergency plans and in Bothell Washington this is their plan. Here are the risks they are planning for:


Here is a thumbnail guide to consider as you start to define or update your plan.

Make an Emergency Plan:

There are many plans designed for the different needs depending upon your status as a senior, parent with kids, etc. You might start by visiting the “I’m ready” page to draft a personalized plan.

Prepare an Emergency Kit:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (2-week supply)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (2-week supply).
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Paper Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Work gloves
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Blankets or sleeping bags


    Designate a Neighborhood Meeting Location:

    EmergencyHouseExitOnce you have secured your home and family, you might want to check on the neighbors, especially if some of them have special needs. Pick a location that is easy to remember find, like the neighborhood mailbox and add that to all your plans. I might be helpful to know the house in the neighbor that has:

    • emergency generator
    • air conditioner
    • medical, fire, or police professionals living there

    If you check out the neighborhood after an emergency event, do so in pairs, with a buddy, and if possible a dog. My dog has alerted me to things that I would have never noticed on my own. Bring gloves (often the most forgotten item, helpful when removing rubble), flashlight, and maybe a communication method (two-way radio if the cell phone system is out) at a minimum. Here’s hoping we’ll never need to implement our plans.

    Posted in Bothell, Community, Education, Guides, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

    Complaint Corner: Why do I have to Pay for Music?

    From the Austin Music People page on Facebook: Someone complained about an experience they had at an Austin music venue last night, and the club owner responded this morning.

    PaidGig-NiceToEatHello [Owner], I was here on Saturday night, and we specifically chose your venue because of the statement in the FAQ section of your website that 99% of the time there is no cover. The website also stated that in the event of a cover, it would be publicized that a cover was in effect.

    However, when we arrived at your venue we were informed there was a $5 cover charge, which went against everything that was written, and not even on your Facebook page did it state one was in effect. We were also informed there was nothing that could be done about this, and we had no option but to pay the cover charge or leave.

    I am deeply disappointed in the false advertising on your website, and feel that you need to immediately fix this as it does nothing but cause disappointment in potential customers.

    Please let me know how you plan to remedy this.

    Hi [redacted], my name is Nathan Hill and I’m one of the owners here at The White Horse. I was forwarded your email concerning our cover charge last night. I apologize that it was not clearly stated there was a $5 cover, and we will be more vigilant in posting that info in the future.

    “I will say however, that a $5 cover is the lowest cover charge you will find in Austin for a music venue on a Saturday night. Especially one that is providing the best country music talent in Texas. Our musicians are all career musicians, and though we try to minimize the cost on the customer as much as possible, and in order to keep our drink prices competitive in a very competitive city, we do sometimes have to ask the customer to help support the musicians through a cover charge.

    At $5 you are paying an average of $.25 per hour per musician on a Saturday night. If you do not feel that is appropriate, or if you feel $5 is such an egregious affront to your better judgment, then maybe a place like The White Horse on the weekend is not a place for you. I would also not suggest visiting other fine establishments such as The Continental Club or Broken Spoke, as their cover with the same level of talent we provide is generally $12-15.

    There is a growing concern in Austin for the ability for our musicians and artists to be able to afford to live here. We at The White Horse take that very seriously as our employees and owners are comprised of artists and musicians. We pay our bartenders a higher than minimum wage, we keep our prices lower than the competition, we pay the bands out of our own pockets most of the week, and we take chances on talent even if it means taking a loss on the night (and we do). So if $5 at the door to support live music, artists, and working musicians is too much to ask, then I would suggest fighting the stumbling hoards on dirty 6th for no cover and $2 shots. Or maybe visit us on a weekday and remember, there’s a tip jar for the band.

    Thank you Nick from oh so many musicians.

    Posted in Culture, Entertainment, In the news..., Music, My World | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

    Spiders: Care and Feeding of your Roommates

    “The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.” ~ William Blake

    spiderScareI posted a funny picture on FB regarding spiders and a friend of mine said, “Spiders looking to our homes for winter refuge is a misconception. I only learned this a few years ago myself. Essentially, the spider activity you see is males looking for mates; it’s the only thing that drives a spider to wander around (wandering is dangerous!).

    Indoor spiders placed outside (and any outdoor spiders that make it inside) are more than likely going to die very quickly. Indoor spiders have adapted to live in our homes, they spend their entire lives there; they aren’t adapted to living outdoors (and vice versa). And this from an arachnophobe..”

    Then there was this: Myth: Spiders come indoors in the Fall that asserts:

    This seemingly simple idea conceals many false assumptions. In reality, house spiders are usually not the same speciesas the yard or garden spiders outside the house.

    “House spiders belong to a small number of species specially adapted for indoor conditions (constant climate, poor food supply, very poor water supply). Some house spider species have been living indoors at least since the days of the Roman Empire, and are seldom to be found outside, even in their native countries (usually Europe). Many of these species now live in houses worldwide, and most have been carried by commerce to more than one continent. Few are adapted to North American outdoor environments.”

    Another very smart, funny and cute friend of mine noted:

    “I heard that house spiders only want two things: food and sex. They’re not interested in anything else. Ever since I started looking at them like stoned freeloader roommates, I’ve been less afraid of them.”


    I have to say, the last time there was a rather large spider in my house I grabbed it up and threw it outside. The chickens ate it before it even hit the ground! The indoor cats like to “play” with spiders too.

    Posted in Education, Facebook, Humor, Myths | Tagged | 1 Comment

    The Politics of Friends

    “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” ~  John F. Kennedy

    PoliticsI was talking to a friend yesterday about the election and my fears, and the insanity when I realized I didn’t know her political beliefs. So I started to apologize about talking about a forbidden topic, … you know the big three: politics, sex and religion.

    She said that she didn’t know who to vote for as she didn’t like either candidate to which I heaped on *way too much* advice. She was polite and didn’t add to the conversation. What I could have, should have said was that she is in the biggest group of voters this year, who are undecided. I could have said that we had great hopes for them to figure it out for the betterment of the US by putting a strong respected leader in the POTUS position.

    My apologies dear friend, you are a better listener than I. Thank you for putting up with my ramblings.


    Posted in My World, Politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Glasses, the Bane of My Life

    “I can honestly say I love getting older. Then again, I never put my glasses on before looking in the mirror.” ~ Cherie Lunghi

    glassesBoyI remember getting glasses in first grade. I had been chastised by my teacher because I didn’t want to try to color tiny little pictures. She actually grabbed my paper one time and marched me to the Kindergarten class to show my work and say something like, “Jimmy doesn’t like to do his work, look at this example.”

    Oh sure, I took the eye test in first grade, they thought my sight was fine. But my parents got a call from one of our church members saying something like:

    Observer: We just saw your kid run into a tree.

    Parent: Oh, kids will be kids.

    Observer: No, you don’t understand, he was looking right at it.

    I hated glasses and for so many reasons. They were a pain. I lost them all the time, and my family couldn’t really afford them. I broke a lot of glasses, in elementary school we played hard. Keeping them clean was a real pain. But my eyesight was really bad, legally blind in one eye, so there you are.

    AsherKindergartenGrad2016Now, I am used to glasses. I even went through a phase of wearing contacts, but my eyes are naturally dry, so that wasn’t a good thing to do. Turns out now I think glasses look cool. I mean, if you don’t have to wear them good on you. But they can be rather stylish. Oh, and seeing well is good too. <big smile>

    My grandson has made wearing glasses cool. Here he is sporting some really nice specs. When I saw them they reminded me of Quest Love’s glasses that he wears when leading the Roots on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

    Fashion has always kinda liked the idea of glasses. They can be stylist, make a statement, and controversial. But I never understood *wanting* to wear glasses when you didn’t need to.

    PurpleGlass      GlassesShock  GlassesKiss

    As I get older, more and more people are wearing glasses as they age. They are becoming ubiquitous. And sometimes, wearing glasses can be made outright funny. For example, there are so many humorous pictures of animals wearing glasses.


    The world of glasses related humor is vast. Consider this combination of the “blonde” and “glasses” joke.

    A blonde guy goes to a local novelty shop and finds a pair of x-ray glasses. He checks them out, and isn’t fully convinced, but the store manager comes along and closes the deal.

    On his way home, he puts on his new x-ray glasses and can’t believe his eyes. He sees everyone in the street naked. He takes them off for a moment, and everyone has their clothes on. He puts the glasses back on, and everyone is naked!

    He rushes home and is eager to show his new toy to his wife, but he can’t find her. He goes up to the bedroom where he finds his wife and the mailman, naked in bed. He takes his glasses off, and the two are still naked. He puts them back on, and they’re still naked.

    “Damn!” he says. “I just paid fifty bucks for these and they’re already broken!”

    I’ll leave you with one last word of advice for your consideration. Never hit a man with glasses. Hit him with a baseball bat.

    Posted in Humor, My World | Tagged , | 1 Comment