Category Archives: Whatever

What is reblogging?

Deb's Answers

Do you reblog? Do you like to be reblogged? Is reblogging sharing, stealing or curating?

When I first encountered reblogging on Tumblr, it looked a lot like stealing content from other people. Various platforms use reblogging differently. Tumblr and Pinterest seem to be about curating, Facebook and Twitter are more about sharing. I hate following a link from Pinterest to Tumblr and only finding reblogs, sometimes you can go through several layers of reblogs without ever finding the original source. At least Pinterest does save the source link and not just the repins although it still depends on the original pinner to choose a good source page.

To me, it’s only legitimate sharing when the original source is obvious and available. Sharing on Facebook does include the link and when it is an article, only a small portion is shown, you have to follow the link to read the full article…

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A Boutique Celebration

My musical partner Scott and I are pleased to be providing some music for Davenport Cellars‘ third anniversary open house on Saturday afternoon July 7th.

Davenport Cellars is one of many “boutique” wineries located in the light industrial area of Woodinville, Washington, the town where I live. I always thought that a winery was the place where they grow the grapes and make the wine. But actually, the place where they grow grapes is called a “vineyard”, and I discovered that a vineyard and a winery can be separate companies. Most boutique wineries buy grapes from vineyards in eastern Washington, which is the second largest vineyard region in the country.

Davenport is owned by Jeff and Sheila Jirka, both IT professionals, who while participating in a program at South Seattle Community College, decided to go into the winemaking business as part of their semi-retirement. They established Davenport Cellars in 2006. Most of the winemakers in Woodinville hold day jobs and have transitioned their passion for winemaking from a hobby into a business.

I have had a chance to get to know a few of the winemakers in Woodinville and have been impressed with Jeff and Sheila’s dedication to the process of winemaking. They take no shortcuts and keep the process pure, using the best ingredients and equipment. This is apparent the excellent wines they produce. Jeff and Sheila have continued to refine their process by enrolling in programs U.C. Davis and W.S.U., as well as pilgrimages to France.

Although they make wine from grapes that other people grow, they dream of owning their own vineyard someday when they enter true retirement (is there such a thing?), to quote Jeff, “somewhere in Italy, New Zealand or Australia perhaps”. We wish them all the best!

Here’s a map. Come join us!!

Click above for larger map.

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Some Emails You Just Don’t Ever Want to Receive

Yes, I am now unmistakably middle-aged and no longer just in my early fifties. And I am generally okay with that, except when my body doesn’t do what I want it to do, of course. But NO ONE at such a delicate transitional stage wants to receive an email like this:

Now I’ve been getting junk from AARP ever since I turned 50. But Betty White? She just celebrated her 90th. This advertisement kind of sends the message: “Hey, no use denying you’re now in the long slippy slide towards getting really old. But hey, Betty White is still going strong!”

But, this is just me talking. Perhaps you are getting to that special coming-of-middle-age time of your life and have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to join AARP. Well, just for you, I have made the picture above into a link so that will take you to the “join” page.

Because I care.

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Why Is There So Much Gum on The Wall?

So proud. Enjoy this reblogged post from someone who definitely knows how to work a camera!!

Where's Keith??

Shannon and I went to Seattle on Sunday to get some epic pizza, geocaching, and do some sightseeing. We wandered around the Pike Place Market. It was a really cool place. Really busy though (maybe because it was Sunday).

I’ve been hearing about this “wall of gum” for a while, so we had to check it out. It was pretty gross and at the same time it was also pretty amazing. You couldn’t help but to keep staring at it. So obviously I had to get an HDR picture of it because of all the different colours.

Sweet light!

After all that, we wandered around the different piers and grabbed a couple geocaches.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to check out the sculpture park. Till next time!

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The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read “The Hunger Games”

Enjoyed this recent “Freshly Pressed” post. Also, be sure to check out her latest music video. Very well done!

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Words With Fiends

In case you think I can’t spell, I left the “r” out on purpose. Yes, I truly mean “fiends”. Perhaps you have had one of those games when you’re just sure your opponent knows some secret backdoor hack to get an outrageous advantage. Case in point: My friend, whose name and picture I have pixelated out of the screen shot, but whom I’ll call “John”, plays all of his tiles in each of only his first two turns, thereby earning himself an extra 35 points on top of whatever else he was going to score. So, in only two turns, he has managed to score 110 points, while I have ground out a measly 29. Do you think something fishy is going on?

And what does “plastid” mean, anyway? Well, after 2 seconds of research I discover that they are “sub-cellular self-replicating organelles present in all living plant cells”. My friend must be pretty smart–or just patient with trying out all sorts of silly combinations. I don’t recall him being into biology back in high school.

By the way, just for the record, I don’t really think that my friend “John” knows some secret hack code to give him such an advantage. It’s just the luck of the “draw” (or if you will, the random generator algorithm in the underlying code). Hmm… perhaps he wants to fess up?

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When I’m Sixty-Four

The news is abuzz today about Sir Paul McCartney tying a knot for the third time. Good for him! Number two, Heather Mills, obviously didn’t work out too well. His latest, Nancy Shevell, has been a longtime friend of the family. She is independently almost as wealthy as Sir Paul, so no goldiggin’ going on here, folks.

She’s also a young 51. Paul is 69. 18 years difference. At first thought it seems like such an age gap, but then again no. Which is the point of this blog post: the relativity of age.

Thinking about the bride’s age makes me think of my own age, 53. That means that Paul is only 16 years older than me. I find that shocking. Only 16 years. When I was a wee young lad and first discovered the Beatles, they seemed so much older. And at that age, a 15-18 year gap (spanning all the Beatles’ ages) is a huge difference. And so I have always thought the gap as tremendous until today.

But in middle age, 16 years just doesn’t seem like a big difference. Perhaps this is also because my brother-in-law, Dave, just turned 71 (making him the same age as Ringo Starr or John Lennon). I hope to be in as good a shape as Dave is when I get to his age, which I expect will be in better health than I was a year ago. In some ways this makes me feel old, but in others it makes me feel young. It is all relative, isn’t it?

This makes me wonder who the famous people are that are 16 years younger than me. Sure enough there is a web site that lists celebrities by birth year. So here are a few: Christian Bale, Penelope Cruz, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Hilary Swank, Leo DiCaprio, and Ryan Seacrest.

I share 1958 with the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Sharon Stone, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Just in case you were curious.

It occurs to me that this blog post was both boring and self-indulgent. But that’s what is so fun about blogging, don’t ya think? :-)


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Back to School

photo courtesy of

My wife, Merrilyn, is a teacher for Seattle Public Schools, teaching 3-5 grade children with autism. To state that I admire her greatly is a gross understatement. In her fourth year of teaching, she has already earned a reputation of excellence and compassion. It is wonderful to see her connect with her passion: at-risk children.

Yesterday was supposed to be a paid prep day. However, Washington State, in order to close a deficit gap, made  an across-the-board 1.9% pay cut for all educators in 2011/12. The Seattle district chose to handle this via 1.5 days of furlough. The teachers will be less prepared for the start of the school year, unless they ignore the admonition to do absolutely no work on the furlough days.

Why is it that education always gets the axe whenever government budgets hit a shortfall? I could go on for pages about how backward this is. I don’t understand why we have a culture of teacher bashing in this country. During the Wisconsin fiasco in February I remember the talking heads decrying how selfish it was for teachers to be unwilling to “make sacrifices” and how easy they had it because of their short work days and summers off.

Last year my wife worked at least one day most weekends and until 6 or 7 PM most weekdays. She calculated that her hourly rate averaged out to about $8/hour. If that wasn’t enough, she had to pay for a lot of her curriculum and other resources out of her own pocket. I think teachers make enough sacrifices.

We were at Jazz Alley the other night and sat next to a music teacher from Canada. He suggested that we move to Canada as the teachers are better paid there. This appears to be true in other countries like Germany, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, among others. In fact, among developed nations, relative to GDP, US teacher pay ranks in the bottom third. The educational climate in the US makes it difficult to attract and retain talented teachers. As a result, there is a constant shortage of qualified math and science instructors. This quote from

A teacher’s decision to enter or remain in teaching depends not only on his or her initial salary but also on the expected growth in that salary over time. A key question is what a potential teacher could expect to earn over his or her lifetime as a teacher compared with other occupations.

Public school teachers are generally maligned in this country as being greedy and incompetent. However, ask any teacher which factor impacts student learning more than any other, and they will say that it is the student’s home environment. Test a student on a day when there is utter chaos in the home and they will not test well. With a divorce rate of 50% or the need for both parents to hold multiple jobs to make ends meet, children don’t get the support they need to do well in school.

I could go on and on, but I will wrap it up by saying this: Our teachers deserve our support, not our blame.


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To Skippy or Not to Skippy

I’ve been trying to watch what I eat lately, as well as eat LESS. I just saw my niece and family the other day–up from Cali to visit my parents. (By the way, I hate it when people say “Cali”. I just did it to make myself wince, thinking perhaps that would burn an extra calorie or two.) Anyway, I hadn’t seen them in almost two years and my niece’s husband had lost 90 lbs. He looks so trim and fit now that I didn’t recognize him. I am both envious and inspired. If he can lose 90 lbs. then certainly I can lose the 25 that has been my constant companion for the past 15+ years!

So, I am making all sorts of little choices that I hope will add up to form my lifestyle change. (The term diet is SO 20th century.) Case in point: peanut butter. Here are the front and back labels of the ubiquitous Skippy alongside Trader Joe’s brand:

Due to the less than stellar photo taken by my cell phone, here are the ingredients and nutritional info:

Skippy: Roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean, and rapeseed), salt. Sat fat: 3g, sugar: 3g, fiber: 2g, protein: 7g

TJ’s: Dry roasted peanuts, salt. Sat fat: 2g, sugar: 1g, fiber: 3g, protein: 8g, and it contains magnesium.

About Skippy. Until recently, Skippy had “Zero Trans Fats” on its front label. They must have taken a lot of flack from somebody due to the hydrogenated oils (which are trans fats). These are what gives Skippy its creamy, no need to stir, quality. The inclusion of rapeseed oil in particular concerns me. (I will write a separate blog about that.) Rapeseed oil was originally used as a lubricant in diesel engines for trains. What is it doing in our peanut butter?

Lately, I fill the half-pipe of celery with a couple of teaspoons of TJ’s peanut butter for a mid-day snack. Delicious!

Personally, I choose NOT to Skippy, although I’ve heard that choosy mothers choose Jif.


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Peace art from students at Merrilyn’s school

Here is a student art piece that was sold at a fund-raising auction for the school that Merrilyn teaches at. Although the auction was a few months ago, I just noticed this sitting in my unpublished blog post queue. I just LOVE this!! Let there be peace on earth, indeed!!
This brings to mind a song I wrote and recorded during holiday season last year called “Peace on the Earth”, an uncharacteristically strident piece that I felt compelled to produce. You can see the video here on YouTube:

There are images of Nelson Mandela on my video, which brings to mind that we just saw the movie Invictus recently. Awesome film!! You simply must see it if you haven’t already.

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