Category Archives: Personal

New compost bins…

Twenty five years ago, within the first year we lived here on Clay St., I built a 3-bin compost bin set-up, but I took a short cut and just made it with 2×2 lumber and no concrete, rather than something more durable. They lasted all these years pretty well, actually, but it’s high time we rebuilt them, so at last I am.

Here are a few pics of the process (and I’ll add more as the project progresses): 2-digging-out-old-compostsite-clearing1)  Here I’ve removed the old rickety rotten frame, which was 2×2 wood and wire fencing sides. Now I need to remove all the old compost, to clear the site.

3-sifting-compost

2)  I learned about sifting soil & compost at the UCSC Farm & Garden project. I built this soil sifter a couple decades ago, I believe; amazing how well it’s held up. It’s a lot of work to shovel the dirt onto the sifter, then shake it and rub it through the sifter into the wheelbarrow, but it makes for wonderful soil/compost to add to your garden beds. (See a plan of how I built it. The picture below, with Kevin, shows a portion of the soil sifter, and you can see the hardware cloth, the 2×2 wire fencing, and the 1×2 wood around the frame.)4-making-progress3)  After several hours of shoveling and sifting compost and soil, the site is nearly cleared and ready. Temporary compost pile in foreground, waiting for new bins.

5-site-cleared

4)  With Kevin’s help, the site is now cleared and ready.6-new-bins-plan5) Here are the markings for the (6) 4×4 PT posts that will frame the 2 new compost bins. Each bin will be 4′ x 4′ x 4′, which is the recommended minimum dimensions; less than that and the compost won’t “cook” enough (i.e. bacteria and other decomposers won’t be as efficient).

holes-dug

power-auger-bitThe power auger bit.

6) I rented a 1-person power auger, which made quick work of the (6) 2′ deep holes.

posts-in7) Posts in. They’re 4x4x6′ PT (pressure treated) posts, sunk 2′ in to stand 4′ tall. The power auger made a small enough hole that a 60# bag of concrete filled 2 holes, so only 3 bags for all 6 posts.

fencing-on-posts8) Fencing stapled to posts. I added an extra layer of fencing this time: 1/2″ hardware cloth, which will reduce compost and debris falling out, and it lasts a long time since it’s galvanized. I stapled the hardware cloth to the posts using a staple gun and 1/2″ staples, then attached the heavy duty 2x3x48″ wire fencing using big galvi staples that you hammer in. I reused the old 2×3 fencing, which is showing its age but will do fine; great to keep the old material going.

You can also see the 2x10x4′ PT boards I screwed onto the front posts; they create the “lips” that hold in place the 1×10 (or whatever) boards that I place in the front, building up the front wall as the pile grows taller. Here are some fencing details, a few of which also show the 2×10 boards in the front:

fencing-detail5 fencing-detail4 fencing-detail3 fencing-detail2 fencing-detail19) Now to start filling the new bins with a fresh compost pile:

sticks-on-bottomFirst step is a layer of sticks on the bottom, which helps aerate the pile a bit.

greenwaste-then-dirtOn top of the sticks, a layer of greenwaste, and on top of that, some dirt.

dirt=inoculationThe dirt helps to “inoculate” the compost pile with soil bacteria.

Music for the Feast of Christmas

Once again, Kevin was among the chorus members of a great show, this time “Music for the Feast of Christmas,” one of the most popular annual shows, presented by the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, under the direction of Cheryl Anderson.

And once again, my videos are of mediocre quality, but they’re something… The chorus surrounded the audience for the first couple of pieces, and we happened to be sitting right where Kevin was standing, so the first video is focused right on him. For the whole chorus shots, Kevin is near the top row on the left (stage right).


Hanachpachap Cussicuinin, Paco Marmol & Manolo Casaus; and My Song in the Night, Paul Christiansen (1914–1997)


Nun danket alle Gott, Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), text by Martin Rinkart (1586–1649)


Virga Jesse Floruit, Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)

Watchman, Tell Us of the Night, Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000), text by John Bowring (1792–1872)


Psalm 150, Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672)


Blow Ye the Trumpet, Kirke Mechem (b. 1925)


Ave Maria, Jacob Arcadelt (1507–1568)


Bound for Jubilee, Joyce Elaine Eilers (1941–2009)


A Pescar Camaron, Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory


Guantanamera, José Fernandez, arr. Gene Glickman, text by José Martí (1853–1895)


Son Mercedes, Leo Brouer (b. 1939)


Juramento, Miguel Matamoros (1894–1971), arr Electo Silva (b. 1928)


El Guayaboso, Guido López-Gavilán (b. 1944), text by Guaguancó

Cabrillo Chorale Winter Concert

Our son Kevin performed tonight with the rest of the Cabrillo Chorale, in their winter concert.

In the pieces with the entire Chorale (1-5, 10-13), he’s second from right, top row. In the pieces with only the men (7-9), he’s front right.











The last tune, “Cantique de Jean Racine” by French composer Gabriel Fauré, was performed as a tribute to the people of France and the victims of terrorism everywhere, in remembrance of the terrorist attacks in Paris just 1 week ago.

Paz en Watsonville, Peace in Watsonville

2014 was a tough year with far too many gang-related homicides. Here I am with PVFT President and PVUSD educator Francisco Rodriguez, at the Vigil for Peace and Unity, Callaghan Park, 28 December, 2014. Many more pics on Facebook:

ted-francisco-12-2014

Sadly, just a couple hours before the vigil, Watsonville’s 10th homicide of the year occurred not far from Callaghan Park. Police now attribute the murder to “road rage” but it is unclear whether it was also gang-related.

Web Design Using WordPress

I am so very busy in my new job (Academic Coordinator, comparable to Ass’t. Principal) at E. A. Hall MS, I really should not add more to my plate… but I am a fool and I can’t resist, so I am teaching a 1 day/week class in the after school program, on Web Design Using WordPress.

I’ll post updates on the class at my own web design website, www.agoramediaservices.com, but figured I’d post this “life update” here as well.

February 2015 Update: Well, I had the best intentions, but the class just didn’t fly… A few kids were interested, but it was a lot harder for them than I expected, and they lost interest, so it was like pulling teeth trying to get them to actually do the work and build out their sites… There are now a couple dozen abandoned sites at wordpress.com… Oh well…

The Hardest Part of Teaching

From Peter Greene at Huff Post (7/6/2014):

They never tell you in teacher school, and it’s rarely discussed elsewhere. It is never, ever portrayed in movies and tv shows about teaching. Teachers rarely bring it up around non-teachers for fear it will make us look weak or inadequate.

Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post once [12/27/2013] put together a series of quotes to answer the question “How hard is teaching?” and asked for more in the comments section. My rant didn’t entirely fit there, so I’m putting it here, because it is on the list of Top Ten Things They Never Tell You in Teacher School.

The hard part of teaching is coming to grips with this:

There is never enough.

There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.

It’s worth reading the rest of his rant.