My Many Interests

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.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Haunting of Oaklea Mansion in Winnsboro, Texas

It's funny how things come back around. I was working at Borders Books in Lewisville (northwest of downtown Dallas) in 2010 and was in charge of events.

April Slaughter had been a staff writer for TAPS magazine which was published by the team of Ghosthunters. My wife and I were big fans of Ghosthunters on TV and I saw that we had this book in the store and saw that the author lived in the area. One thing led to another and October 31, 2010, we had her come in for a signing.

It wasn't until last year while researching haunted Texas locations for a post, did I come across the chapter on the Oaklea Mansion Bed & Breakfast. I was working at the library and made sure to get a copy in for circulation. It's just strange that I would eventually move to this beautiful little town with a literary connection to my past.

If you have any local hauntings that you've witnessed or have heard from family members, please share!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Visiting The Edison Exchange inside of The Historic Oaklea Mansion

The Kid and I, while out hitting all of the Winnsboro Autumn Trails events on Saturday, dropped by The Historic Oaklea Mansion. While there we visited Dustin and Gabriel of The Edison Exchange.

The Edison Exchange deals in antique/estate jewelry, Art Deco, and Native American jewelry/art. Beautiful pieces can be found everywhere you turn. One of the more intriguing displays was this exhibit of mourning jewelry.

Per The Gemological Institute of American ~


The tradition of wearing mourning jewelry goes back to at least the Middle Ages, when motifs like skulls and crossbones served as a tangible reminder of death. The exhortation memento mori, which literally translates to remember death, urged the wearer to live a moral life.

The popularity of mourning jewelry reached its peak during the Victorian era (1837-1901). Queen Victoria was deeply in love with her husband, Prince Albert, and when he died in 1861, she fell into a long depression. Queen Victoria spent much of the next four decades wearing black crepe dresses and mourning jewelry. She commissioned portraits, memorials, and busts of Prince Albert and other mementos that were reminders of her deceased spouse.

Hair Jewelry – jewelry that contained locks of a loved one’s hair – was particularly popular during the Victorian era. The Victorians believed that hair had a sacred quality because it contained something of the essence of the person. And because it was somewhat imperishable, it also symbolized immortality.

Many of the items on the tray were made with strands of hair woven into them or the entire piece was composed of braided hair from the deceased.

The Edison Exchange is located inside The Historic Oaklea Mansion at 407 S. Main St. in Winnsboro and is open Wednesday through Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm. You can visit their website here or look them up on Facebook.

Photos are of the mourning jewelry and other pieces on display and for sale.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Affordable Connectivity Program Helps Families with Internet Costs

I recently received an email from the Social Security Administration about how to get a discount on internet. It seems that the offer stems from the infrastructure bill that was passed earlier this year.

It's tough for families to make ends meet nowadays and sometimes cuts have to be made. It's really hard when internet has become a necessity in some households. I really saw the divide between folks who live in the city and rural folks when I worked at my local library last year. Locals would come in to use the libraries facilities because they couldn't afford a computer or internet and what internet was offered was spotty in quality and availability.

Hopefully the infrastructure bill will address the availability of internet to rural areas, but in the meantime it has done something to help with the affordability of it.

The program is called the Affordable Connectivity Program and it us run through the FCC. If you meet any of these checkpoints then you may be eligible for a discount or free internet:
  • Households that have an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • People who use certain federal assistance programs, including Federal Public Housing Assistance, Lifeline, Medicaid, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • People who already use a discounted internet service from a high-speed internet provider that is aimed at low-income households.
  • Households whose children get free or low-cost school meals.
  • Households that participate in programs specifically for tribes, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • College students who receive student aid in the form of federal Pell grants.
Discounts range from $30 a month (which may mean free if you go through certain companies) to $75 for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Some households would even be able to receive a discount of up to $100 for purchasing a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

Check out the article below for more info or apply directly to the FCC, contact your current internet provider, or by mail.

20 Providers Offering $30-a-Month High-Speed Internet Access - AARP

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ancient Tablet Not a Smoking Gun but Still Stirs the Imagination

Comet above trees after sunset
Comet NEOWISE July 2020
by James H. Pickering 
So, they've found a stone tablet from about 13,000 years ago that points to a swarm of comets. I find the headline a little misleading as it doesn't necessarily mention an actual impact, but I still find archeological artifacts that show astronomical events from the past fascinating.

I especially love this particular find as it was unearthed at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey which is a site that is spoken about often in Ancient Alien episodes. I'm not a true believer of ancient aliens and am skeptical but I love the idea!

Check out the article below for more details about this interesting find.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Birthday Wishes!

As we get older our birthday wishes tend to get simpler. We don't actually worry about celebrating another lap around the sun, could care less about a party, and really we're just happy that we woke up.

I had all intentions of staying in my PJs on Sunday, but as I began to retire the night before, I saw a post on Facebook about a local zoo and the animals you could see. I realized that all summer, I really hadn't seen my kid because she was off making the rounds visiting grandmas, aunts and friends. School would be starting in just a few days and we really hadn't spent any time together. Oh, well. Who wanted to nap all day anyway.

The Kid and I got up bright and early and headed south to Grand Saline, known for the salt prairies southeast of town, most of which are owned by the Morton Salt company. There used to be a big old salt block in the middle of town that you could look at or lick, if you were daring, though there were signs advising against such a thing. It's not there now, or maybe too many people licked it into oblivion (photo was from last year.) We stopped off at a local eatery aptly named Salt Lickers for some grub. Serving a little Cajun and home cooking we got our fill and then proceeded on down to see the critters.

Located off in the woods, East Texas Zoo and Gator Farm is hidden from the road by a picket of trees. Once parked we walked into the main building and immediately got to see wildlife from parrots and tarantulas to lizards and hissing cockroaches! From here you purchase your tickets to gain entrance to the park and you can also purchase food to feed the animals and access to the baby room. We bought the tickets with the baby room access and some food for the animals and made our way outside.

We were just in time for feeding time. Alligator feeding time, that is. The Kid wasn't as excited as I was about it, but she gave in so I could enjoy it. We talked gator with the keeper in charge of them. They take in rescues and nuisance gators from around the area. One of the gators, 515, is from Lake Fork where Hwy 515 crosses between Yantis and Emory and he's a big old boy, but he's not the biggest. That goes to the chief of the swamp, Domino.

After feeding the gators we made our round to the other animals. It's a self tour with signs along the fences describing the animals. It was hot and early afternoon so some of the animals were in the shade snoozing. The laziest out of all of the animals were probably the kangaroos and they weren't shy about it either. Zebras, wild cats, baboons, tortoises, porcupines and many others were to be found. The tortoises are free roaming so you could actually walk up and pet one. I don't guess you have to worry about one trying to get away at the speed they move.

We hit the baby room last and got to meet Walter and Steven, a wallaby and a wallaroo. I can't remember which was which, but the wallaby was an albino with white fur and pink paws and eyes. They were accompanied by two zebu calves and a little pink screaming hairy armadillo, who wasn't screaming but enjoying a nap and appeared to be running in his dreams like a dog. We got fifteen minutes in the room with them and they were very cute and loved the petting they got. 

All in all, it was a fun visit and we got to see animals that we hadn't seen before in other zoos. We'll probably visit again when it's a bit cooler as the animals didn't like the heat either. If you fancy a nice little excursion that won't take up your whole day, visit the Grand Saline area and the East Texas Zoo and Gator Park. 

You can also visit my Facebook page for more photos.