My Many Interests

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Halloween Theme Music

After a successful night of trick-or-treating, I welcome November. In my email inbox was an article about the "official Halloween theme." I never really thought about what that could be, though I always had a few that reminded me of Halloween.

According to the article from The Conversation, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor held that honor. I'm not one to argue, but if I had to choose, I would have to go to Edvard Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King. I had heard it at an early age, but fell in love with a metal version of it by a band named Savatage in the 80's. Members of Savatage went on to create Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Another song that strongly reeks of Halloween is Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. You may have heard it if you've ever watched Disney's Fantasia. It was written as a "musical picture" of a witches sabbath on Bald Mountain during St. John's eve. Very atmospheric!

What music puts you in the mood for the spooky season?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Navy Days

Got this photo about 12 years ago. This is my first real cruise out of the country, to Antigua. By the way, the word cruise is totally different here. Our boats are haze gray and underway and not one of those luxury liners.

We hit port and as soon as liberty call was sounded, we hit the beach. A little bar named Spinnakers. We walked to the beach and strategically placed halfway there was a rum stand outside of the rum distillery selling $3 bottles of rum. Every sailor had at least one bottle under each arm, some two. Eventually, we were playing surf football with empty bottles.

This was the best shape I'd ever been in (bottom row, right end), except for my liver. I was about 170 pounds, could run a mile and a half without keeling over, and worked all day on about three hours of sleep.

If you can't tell, I kind of miss it.

Monday, March 27, 2023

I'm related to someone famous! And you might be too!

FamilySearch is a free genealogy site that I use to track my family history. I have a lot of fun finding new relatives, but it got even better. says that I'm related to all of these famous people or their spouses. When you think about it, if you go far enough back in time, you'll eventually find that all of us are cousins to some degree. Kind of cool to see how connected we are.

This was done through an event that they put together called RootsTech. The event ends March 31st, so you might want to move on it. Here's the link:

My Dad's side of the family

Lucille Ball is my 8th cousin twice removed!
Walt Disney is my 8th cousin three times removed!
George Washington is my 5th cousin eight times removed!
Muhammad Ali is my 9th cousin three times removed!
Abraham Lincoln is my 7th cousin five times removed!
Babe Ruth is my 11th cousin three times removed!
Claire Mae Merritt Ruth is my 8th cousin five times removed
Brigham Young is my 5th cousin five times removed!
Brigham Young's wife Harriet Emeline Barney is my 4th cousin four times removed
Emily Dickinson is my 8th cousin three times removed!
Helen Keller is my 6th cousin four times removed!
John Wayne is my 11th cousin once removed!
Joseph Smith Jr. is my 5th cousin six times removed!
Princess Diana is my 11th cousin once removed!
Queen Elizabeth II is my 12th cousin!
Shirley Temple is my 10th cousin twice removed!
Susan B. Anthony is my 7th cousin four times removed!
Wilbur Wright is my 6th cousin six times removed!
Winston Churchill is my 8th cousin three times removed!

My Mom's side
Sean Astin is your 12th cousin twice removed!
Martha Washington is my 3rd cousin nine times removed
Jane Austen is my 6th cousin eight times removed!
Elvis Presley is my 6th cousin once removed!
Franklin D. Roosevelt is my 8th cousin four times removed!

My Wife is related to these folks.

Her Mom's side of the family
Walt Disney is My wife's 7th cousin twice removed
Emily Dickinson is My wife's 6th cousin four times removed
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is My wife's 6th cousin four times removed
John Wayne is My wife's 8th cousin once removed
Joseph Smith Jr is The husband of my wife's 3rd cousin five times removed - Eliza Roxey Snow
Princess Diana is My wife's 9th cousin once removed
Wilbur Wright is My wife's 6th cousin four times removed
Sir Winston Churchill is My wife's 6th cousin twice removed

Her Dad's
Shirley Temple is The wife of my wife's 7th cousin once removed - John George Agar
Mary Todd Lincoln is my wife's 2nd cousin four times removed
Jane Austen is My wife's 5th cousin seven times removed

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Crazy Thinking?

I'm sitting in the local restaurant where all the staff know me. According to the Kid, the whole town seems to know me and it drives her nuts.

The owner sees me staring off in to the distance and asks if I need anything. I tend to stare into the distance a lot. Not necessarily staring into the void, because, you know, it stares back, but just listening to the traffic outside, the music in the background, and snippets of conversation around me.

Today though I was running through tasks that needed to be accomplished and other things that I found traipsing around the wasteland of my mind. To answer her, I just waved a pointed finger in a circle beside my head in the universal signal of "crazy."

I really meant it as "I'm thinking," but when I thought about it, I was circular thinking. My original thoughts lead me in a myriad of tangents, kind of like the Marvel Universes Multiverse, which eventually leads right back to my original thought.

In a way, that does sound a little . . . crazy? Not even mind-mapping would help me out of that one.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Observations from an Ice Storm

As I sat in my darkened living room thanks to a power outage brought on by the two days of ice, I had time to think about stuff. All kinds of stuff. And sleep, which really threw my time table out of whack.

It started Monday night with a short outage that lasted about four hours. Then it blinked at 5am, just enough to shut off my C-PAP and glue my mask to my face like an Alien facehugger. That'll get you coming up straight out of bed like nothing else!

Then it blinked again at 11am and finally gave up the ghost at 2pm and that lasted until just before midnight. We hunkered down in the living room with the thermostat dipping to only 67 degrees, but it was enough for us to curl up on the couch under several blankets and wait.

When it did come back on, we cooked a quick hot meal, in case it went out again, which it didn't do. Until . . . 

The next day at around 11am when I felt it was safe to get back on the computer. I hadn't been on the computer 10 minutes and power flickered four times before I could get it unplugged. What really freaked me out was that I laid down a large sum of money for this new computer just days ago and had planned on getting a UPS for it. I just didn't think that I would need it so quickly!

Today, as the temperatures rise (slightly), and the ice leaves the area, I feel better at powering it up and getting back to my projects. I'm still getting that UPS because winter isn't over and even spring brings torrential rains.

As for my observations, I thought about how during any typical ice storm sans power outages you can just kick back with hot cocoa and a book, but lack of electricity makes that impossible. No light to see by, no cooking unless you have gas.

This got me to thinking about the folks back in the before times and how they coped. Back then, there was no sitting around waiting for someone to fix your electricity. Life went on. You got as much done as you could during daylight hours. Most, if not all, had fireplaces which required wood. Hopefully, you chopped enough wood when the weather was good, but you probably still had to chop some now. Hopefully, your larder was stocked so that you had food. You probably had farm animals that needed tending, so you had to brave the outdoors for that. 

Basically, back in the day, you were busting your behind for survival. Nowadays, we sit around waiting for the linemen to fix the line. If we have electricity, we sit around and binge-watch Netflix. In my case, with the power out, I sat in my recliner, which wouldn't recline because it was electric, and napped. This in turn threw off my sleeping pattern and I was up until 5am one night after power came back on catching up on projects. And that led me to sleeping until late this afternoon, which isn't so bad since a lot of my work is online. Does not help when you could be up taking care of other things that you can only take care of during real world business hours.

I guess my observation is that those that came before us had to be so much more self-reliant and solve their own problems. Nowadays, we have to rely on the electric company and the linemen to fix our electricity when it's out. If the power is on, but the roads are too icy, we can still sit in comfort and watch our shows, read our books, and, if they are crazy enough, we can order a pizza and have it delivered.

Now, where is that delivery guy?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

DJing as a Career - How I Made a Living and Had Fun Doing It!

Some of my friends and readers of this blog (hello to that one person) may not know that I was a DJ for a little over a decade. Everyone always asks if I was on the radio, which I was for about three months, but for the majority of my twelve years, I was in a booth at a bar, club, or restaurant.

During my term in the Navy, I loved going out to clubs and dancing, and would befriend the DJs. At a club in the greater Norfolk area called the Double Deuce (not related to the one from Roadhouse) I got to be friends with the DJ and he offered tips. When I got out in 1992, my then girlfriend set me up with a surprise audition at a little bar which garnered me a spot, only I had to wait three months for it to open.

I turned it down, wanting to come home to Louisiana. Somewhere around Halloween of that year, the little bar in my hometown was looking for a waitress and they put my girlfriend to work. I asked the guy at the door if they were looking for DJs and he said "You know, now that you mention it . . . "
I didn't audition for the gig. I was supposed to meet the owner and another guy that was going to audition, but they were no shows. For almost a week, the owner kept missing our appointments and finally I found that he was building a house and had been working on that. I found out where and went there. Finally catching him, he told me that if I had went through all that trouble for the job, I could have it, no audition needed.

I worked there for a little over a year and eventually went to another club in Monroe which was the next biggest city about 20 miles away. In addition to DJing for a dancefloor, I ran a karaoke show. This show was part karaoke for customers and then part show for the customers to watch. The show involved runner-ups from a karaoke contest. They were paid to sing for two hours on a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night and it was well-received.

After a year or so of that, I wanted to do more. I saw a commercial on late night TV about a Music/Video business course at the Art Institute of Dallas that piqued my interest. Calling my mom who lived in Dallas, we made arrangements for me to move in with her until I got on my feet.

I never finished the course, though it was a good one, but I was learning just as much in the gigs that I was getting. I probably should have finished it considering I was only six weeks away from finishing, but I was working clubs and private parties and they took up a lot of my time and paid pretty good.

I worked at the newly refurbished Bronco Bowl in Oak Cliff in 1996. It had been closed for a while and a new owner from Oklahoma came in and purchased it. I was DJing in a 10,000 square foot nightclub with state of the art equipment. We did a variety of music, plus live acts, and after parties for the concerts that were held in the Bronco Bowl arena. I did after parties for George Benson, Tesla, and the Fugees.

I moved on in '97 to DJing the busy hours at a chain of restaurants and recording canned music for play when I wasn't there. Not liking the corporate culture that I was in, I went back to DJing at little bars and restaurants in 2000.

I met my future wife at one of those clubs and after proposing to her in 2004, I decided it was time to hang up the headphones.

I've met all kinds of people, some of them kind of famous. I've met celebrity DJs, musicians, actors; I've had Matthew McConaughey on my dance floor. I don't ever remember having a bad meeting with any of them. Back in the days before he fronted Skid Row, I DJed and ran lights for a Tesla after party with Johnny Solinger. After his show, he came by the booth fueled up on the energy of the show, alcohol, and whatever else and gave me one of the sweatiest hugs I had ever received. But it was a fun night!

I don't miss certain aspects of DJing in the those venues, such as folks who don't know how to handle their liquor, bosses who think they know music better than you do, and the late hours. I do miss, however, the power of being able to make people dance, playing that one song that everyone has to move to, and making people feel good for a night. When I look back, that was the two things that I loved; the music and the people.

Friday, December 23, 2022

NORAD tracks Santa!

My daughter learned how to track Santa from an early age. It's kind of a cool tradition in this technological age. You can track him on the computer, an app, or even call a toll-free number. Even as we get older, we still get a kick out of knowing where the jolly old elf and his eight reindeer are at any given moment on Christmas Eve.

Tracking Santa all began with the Continental Air Command (CONAD) way back in 1955. NORAD, or North American Aerospace Defense Command, replaced CONAD in 1958 and have been tracking Santa since. You can go to the NORAD HQ for more info on the history, how's and why's and clicking the image below will take you directly to the tracker.