Solar Power Project 2020

“We are star stuff harvesting sunlight.” ~ Carl Sagan

After charting solar panel savings for 20 years, we finally decided to bite the bullet with our house. We spent the summer reviewing contracts, starting the build, and finally in November turning on the system. We didn’t want the hassle of batteries (cost, maintenance, and eventual replacement) so we opted for the sell back to the grid model. That was a big savings on the installation cost. We also paid the cost up front rather than expensing it through the years on our electric bill. So, there is no interest costs.

Well now it is a year later and how did we do?

This chart shows power expenditure from Nov 2019 to Nov 2021. The first year is without solar. So we paid $640 less dollars this year over last. Note we got a slow start on the benefits but at that rate of savings it would take us 45 years to pay off the cost of solar panel installation. It is a much lower pay off rate than I had anticipated. But as the cost of electricity goes up, we might hope to break even much sooner. And you can cut that in half once we get the tax credit for the installation that I and my tax professional forgot to apply for last year!

You know I’ve heard of a tax for being progressive (aka liberal) like paying extra for a Prius for the good of planet Earth and our children. Let’s hope that I can get a more favorable break on this project in the coming years.

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Project Du Jour: Learn to Play Bass

It turns out the jazz ensemble in the community band my wife and I play in needs a bass player. The group isn’t very accomplished (yet) and in four years they have never been able to attract a bass player. So the trumpet player, asst. director has been playing the bass part. Me thinks I see the beginning of a very nice project for myself, learning to play bass guitar.

Now I’ve had three basses hanging on the wall of my house for over 20 years. No, really! When I returned to playing the sax I used a bass guitar I procured at a local pawn shop for $50. My intent then was to work on my rhythm. I’d turn on the radio and play bass against some of the simpler songs. It actually was fun. And I have played guitar since high school, albeit not putting any time into it.

I pulled out my trusty axe, tuned it using a free tuner on the internet, and got my 10 watt practice amp out. Then I watched two “Playing Beginning Bass Guitar” vids on YouTube. So far so good. Still hafta figure out if the active pickup on the Peavy is more trouble than it is worth. And I think I’ll pass on the pedal.

Then I pinged the director and this thread ensued.

Bob: I’ve attached copies of the combo music we’re playing. This isn’t what we’d play next season, but it gives us something to play around with a smaller group and see how the rhythm section comes together. So, this is a good time to jump in.

I think we might play Satin Doll next year (full band arrangement), but I’m still debating others.    You can find partial recordings of two of these combo pieces (not Satin Doll) online. I generally play along to a backing track of Satin Doll and have to fake through the arrangement, but gives me a chance to get the rhythm down. “It Don’t Mean A Thing” is the most challenging because of the tempo. Enjoy.

Me: Thx, I am on it.

Then I ordered this lesson book:

Note, I’m not learning guitar tab notation as I really need to read the music like I do on my sax. Also, I will need a bass amp to play with the group so I ordered this one. It’s powerful enough to hold up to a big band and light enough that I won’t need two men and a boy to carry it.

May be an image of text that says 'Peavey MAX 208 200-Watt Bass Amp Combo Visit the Peavey Store 16 ratings TAEY $399.99 prime & FREE Returns Get $200 Gift Card: Pay $199 $399.99 upon approval for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card. annual fee. Color Eligible for amazon mile donation. Brand Peavey Black Output Wattage 200 Watts Dimensions LxWxH inches Item Weight Pounds About this item Up 200 watts power 2Premium speakers DDT speaker protection .Pre-gain control with TransTube qain boost Three-band with Overdrive, Contour, Mid-Shift, Bright, and Kosmos-C switches Compare with similar items New (8) from $399. 99 prime'

AMP: Me: Lots of bass players sub for us with skimpy amps and it’s not a good experience. On bari sax I double them a lot and can tell when they are really underpowered. It’s like people don’t wanna spend the money for the best they can get and then they hafta live with that decision the rest of their lives.

A friend sez about this amp: Haha. Your analysis is correct!

I have a 75 watt practice amp made by Line 6. They don’t make it any more. 75 watts is over powered for a house or a small practice room. But like you said, you need the “head room” of more watts for the tonal space. Why? because you can put the volume at a level where it is loud and play subtly with your fingers. You don’t have to dig in. Between your finger placement on the guitar, the settings on the amp, and your bass – you provide yourself the broadest tonal options.

For me, not having a gigging amp means that I only gig when someone really wants a bass player and can provide an amp – as your group has on occasion for me. Not having that equipment forces me to focus on other things that are musically more enriching for me. Not a boast, a technique that I have employed to keep myself sane because music is part of my mental health.

In the old days, power also meant weight, lots of weight. Any big open room, like the old Microsoft Café, needed at least 200 watts. Anything outside, you might want to make the minimum 300watts. There just are no “do it all” amps for bass unfortunately.

STRINGS: And have someone put flat wounds (or half rounds by D’addario) on it and have it set-up. Better for your sound and fingers as a new player. You will prefer the sound and less string noise. It’s what I always play on my P-style bass. The Peavey is a nice but it has active electronics, more of a bass. That’s too much to manage for a beginner. I would suggest consider a pickup upgrade in the Rogue if you want to get a little more out of the bass.

Another friend sez: That is purely a matter of what kind of sound you want.  I used round wound for years.  They are very bright with a strong attack and tend to buzz a lot if you don’t have good technique.  They are also tough on your fingers and fretboard.  I then switched to flat wounds and have been very happy with the warmer sound. 

However, since I have two fretless basses, I wanted one to have a bit more growl.  I discovered Pressure wounds that split the difference and have been very happy with them.  That is what I was using Monday night.

So I ordered these as there is a lot of fingering noise on my guitar right now:

I am working on my first song from the group and hoping that in January I have also made my way to page 15 of the lesson book (above). I can join them as they prepare the three songs they will be playing for the Winter concert in March. Wish me luck!

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Gettin’ Stuff Done

I like having projects, lots of them. But some sit on the whiteboard as a ToDo list thang for *way* too long.

So what kind of things are on my whiteboard today. Here’s a snapshot in the life of me.

  1. PDF a new chart for the GOLD Big Band (All I Need is the Girl)
  2. Fix leak under kitchen sink and replace rotten wood under there
  3. Repair/replace the Little Library in the Waxen Park
  4. Pressure wash the driveway
  5. Paint wall in entryway
  6. Clean Garage (this has been on my list for over five years)
  7. Fix patio door
  8. Paint siding patches the same color as siding
  9. Clear upstairs hallway
  10. Remove and recycle patio awning

What is the chance that when I happen to look at this post years from now that some of these might be done? Besides using the results from the chore, much of the joy comes from actually completing a job. This week, for example, I was happy to finally (and with the help of my phone service provider) remove three old devices from my account, enroll in autopay/paperless billing, and add the military discount to my account. So much joy!

I hafta say that some jobs that I delay because I think they will be gnarly actually turn out to be amazingly simple. For example changing out the worn out shocks in the SUV back door only took 10 minutes… if that? You live for chores like that.

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Meet Abby, a Sweet Collie

Abby was born on 31 March 2021 and named after Abigail “Abby” Sciuto of NCIS. She is a rough collie with a merle blue coat. We got her at SnoValley Collies in Issaquah, WA. Within a week of joining the family she has learned sit, down, and come. She loves people, other dogs, and life. She is not afraid of fireworks, which is a first for the dogs we’ve had.

During her first week with us, we were also babysitting Mitsi who immediately took over duties of training the puppy. Mitsi would NOT let Abby be rude or too rambunctious. We didn’t plan it that way, but it really worked out well and we’d recommend that formula for anyone with a new puppy.

Abby loves mommy the bestest which is a first for us. But why wouldn’t she, this is the first dawg that Suzy has ever picked out herself. She also got to meet my sister Deb who was visiting that month.

Such a mellow dawg, Abby has helped us as we said goodbye to Dad and moved mom to a full-care facility. She is the bestest stress relief in a very cute, small package.

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Good Bye Dad

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Snowmagadden 2021

It started snowing in the Seattle area, all of the PNW actually, yesterday and much to our surprise we got almost 9 inches overnight! Here the obligatory photographic proof.

The chickens are not quite sure how to take the white stuff. They won’t come out of the coop, although it is a really nice and big space … for chickens that is.

A nice and accommodating neighbor even swung by with a snow blower, which is actually quite rare in this part of the country. He does a lot of community projects and is a such a good friend.

The birds are crazy happy with Suzy’s feeders and fresh water every day. Truth be known though, the snow will be gone by Monday or Tuesday, it rarely lasts more than a few days around. here.

The snow is quite beautiful. Having grown up in the midwest, where snow is quite common, having it show up here for a day or two each winter isn’t that special. But it is for the PNW folk, many of whom consider a reason to stay home and make snowmen. 🙂

We are prepared with our snow boots, snow shovel, kitty litter for the sidewalks, and such. And when we know it’s coming we stock up and don’t drive anywhere until it melts. There are just too many folk who insist on driving when they probably would be better served by staying home. Prost!

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Painting the Homestead 2020

We downsized into this lovely home in 2011. It was a short sale and the home was built in the last depression (2007). After 13 years since it was first painted, and with a number of touch ups and repainting the wood trim once, we finally got around to painting house with forever paint. Well, that’s what we call it, it’s actually Sherwood Williams’ Emerald series paint.

Here is a before:

Bothell Front

And an after shot:


We added the windows in the garage door in 2012, the weather vane when we moved in, and the fence last year. We are kinda hoping that with this high quality paint, we might not have to paint the place for over ten years. We’ll see.

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Meet Shelby II, Our New Puppy

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~ Bernard Williams

44927655_1552523501560698_5313728678445923795_nOur new puppy is a Von Waldberg German Shepherd named Shelby. She was born on September 24, 2018. We expect to take her home this weekend.

Shelby’s Mom: V Tosca von der Wilhelmswarte

ShelbysMomTosca is one of the most beautiful dogs you will ever see. She is as close to perfect as we have and she seems to know how commanding her presence is. She is the first to notice something new and is a natural born leader. When she barks, the other dogs bark. And when she quiets down, the others follow her lead. Her confidence is palpable and she is secure in who she is. Trained to the IPO3 level, the highest possible, Tosca is authoritative and commanding on the training field. She knows how to work and delivers what she is asked for. With her stunning conformation, intelligence and drive, she is, in a word, exceptional. We are proud to be able to say that she is part of von Waldberg.

However, there is more to Tosca than her near perfection. She has one of the most engaging personalities and is playful whenever she is not working. She waits until you are right next to her then intentionally drops her Kong in her water bucket. She will then stand, tail wagging and glance back and forth between you and the bucket. If you still don’t understand what she is asking, she will paw delicately at the water as if to say “will you get my toy, pretty please.” If you could embody all the best traits of a German Shepherd into one, you would end up with Tosca.

Shelby’s Dad: V Messi von der Ramhorst

ShelbysDadMessi is the perfect combination of authoritative, inquisitive and playful. He has a commanding presence with a strong broad head and chest and is a dog that people will notice from a distance. He is confident in himself and faithful to his people and will put himself between you and anything he is cautious of. He is quick to give you his trust and when he arrived from Germany he was fearless and accepting of his new home from the moment he touched down. He approaches any new situation with that same certainty and tenacity and adapts quickly to anything you introduce him to.

He is a substantial dog with a deep bark one moment and the next he will be so excited to play that his bark sounds like laughter. Once he knows you and knows he has your permission to do so, he will stand up on his hind feet, place his front paws on your shoulders and just look at you as if to say “you and me, we are pals.” His independent nature is reflected in his puppies who often will venture out to explore earlier than most.

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1915 Catalogue Band Instruments

What a lovely discovery from the Woodwind Forum. The actual PDF is located at


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My Instagram


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