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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!


Moving to Ozark, Missouri at 11 years old turned me somewhat shy. I didn't know anyone there and it took me a while to make some lasting friends. In that six month friendless window, I learned to keep to myself, mostly.

Later, I became a 15-year-old sophomore at Ozark High School for the 1994-1995 school year. Not much had changed over those four years. I still had the same friends and I was still riding their more outgoing social coattails. I still lacked self-confidence.

Along with the rest of the English 2 class, I was assigned to read a book and then do a spoken book report at the podium in front of my classmates. I dreaded it. We were to aim for a five minute report. I'm not sure since I wasn't counting, but I'm willing to bet that I agonized for weeks over what I would be forced to do during those five minutes.

I had no experience speaking in front of a group and I didn't want any. I was just fine sitting slumped in my chair going pretty much unnoticed by virtually everyone around me. Many people have this same fear, so I felt that it was alright to feel this way. Possibly even a desirable quality. After all, I had no interest in speaking in front of a crowd. I didn't plan on becoming a speaker when I grew up. "Why would I ever need to learn this in real life," I wondered to myself.

The teacher, Ms. Lambert, didn't just give the assignment like some teachers would have. She spent a considerable amount of time instructing us how to give a good report. She gave us tips on how to practice it at home. She got us thinking about how a spoken report should be structured. She didn't harp on us about the way it had to be, only made suggestions designed to encourage us to make our reports better.

I took all of her advice, even practicing my speech to my wall at home with a timer. It wasn't like me to prepare so much, but I was desperate to have what I needed to survive the ordeal. So desperate, in fact, that I even took notes on Ms. Lambert's suggestions. The day came and I nervously waited my turn. During the several reports before mine, I noticed that almost no one in the class was paying attention to the one giving their report, anyway. That really took some of the pressure off. At that point, for the first time, I felt like I could do it without vomiting.

My turn came and I gave my report just as I had rehearsed it. About halfway through, I looked around and away from my notes long enough to take notice that I had everyone's attention. My nervousness doubled at that moment. And, just when I thought that I was going to make it. A couple seconds later came "the joke" part of the report. Ms. Lambert had suggested to include a funny part to the story to keep your listeners engaged. I knew it would bomb, but I followed my notes just as I had practiced it in my room. Punchline. Laughter. Wait, laughter?! I did a quick left to right and realized that not only did I have their attention, but they were listening to every word that I was saying. The joke wouldn't have made sense had they not been listening all along.

I finished the last leg of my report without the nervousness that previously had plagued me for weeks. If I remember correctly, Ms. Lambert gave me 110% as my grade for the report. I was proud.

Ironically, I went on to fail Literature of the Bible. Twice! And, I couldn't even finish the first semester of English 3. However, I graduated high school and enjoy writing even today. I still occasionally get nervous at times in front of crowds, but I never let it stop me. Since that report, I have spoken in front of hundreds of people at a time, played guitar and sang for large groups, friends and strangers alike, and I have even presented new work concepts in front of a room full of business executives.

I wouldn't be who I am today if not for Ms. Lambert's care to make sure her students knew the strategies and skills of public speaking. I'm not even sure if all that is on the curriculum, but I know I left her class with it. Thanks, Ms. Lambert.

West Plains Weekend

This last weekend, Jodi and I took Lyric and Ezra to West Plains to hang out with Jodi's family. Jacob was spending the week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. As always, it was a lot of fun and some good relaxation as well. I also really enjoyed the trip in our new car. We've had it for 6 weeks, but hadn't traveled in it yet. This was breaking it in for us.

There was a car show at the Civic Center on Saturday. And, since Jodi's parents live in town now, we decided just to walk there. Though, it turned out it was two and a half miles one way, Lyric managed to walk it without complaint. I was wondering if I was going to have to carry him. He's getting too big for me to carry more than a short distance.
The car show was great. We saw a lot of beautiful automobiles, and I was really excited to see the 1960 Plymouth Valiant. It's the first Valiant that I've ever seen in a show. My '62 Valiant is the same style as this with a few slight changes.
But, of course, mine looks like a pile of poo in comparison. Some day, it'll be pretty, hopefully.

We took another walk late Saturday night. I took little Ezra along with us, knowing that she would fall asleep fairly quickly. We walked to then around the square in Downtown West Plains. So, we managed to tack on another 5 miles to the day's exercise list.

Sunday was a chill out day. I sat around with Larry and looked up tree species on my phone. We identified several trees around their house. It may sound boring but, it was fun. I learned a lot about trees and even how to identify a few of them.

The bubble pictures below are from Sunday. The girls (ages 26 and 28) were blowing bubbles in the front yard with Lyric. I spotted a really cool effect that they had at a certain angle and tried to capture it with my camera. It's not at all easy to capture a bubble floating on the wind with a lens that has a very narrow depth of field. But, I got some good ones. They were gorgeous by themselves, but I boosted the color in them to really accentuate the array of colors they were refracting. As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

Global Go Team Deploys to Joplin

Global Go Team is currently setting up a team to work in Joplin, Missouri on June 18th.

Joplin was devastated by a tornado that cut a path straight through the city on May 22nd. The death toll keeps rising, it seems, with every new article I read. I just read an article from The Baltimore Sun that cited 151 deaths. It's really terrible and this time the need is in our own backyard.

Global Go Team members will get to use their newly acquired training and certification by Greene County CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams). Much work will remain to be done over the course of the next couple of years.

I remember, vividly, the tornado that ripped through Stockton, MO back in 2003. The entire downtown area was flattened with the exception of the bank vault that never budged an inch. It was the first tornado that I tracked with the Internet. I had a game plan to take my then 3-year-old son into the bathroom with a mattress if it came towards us. Instead it traveled north of us. That tornado was an F3 and traveled 86 miles. In contrast, the tornado that hit Joplin only traveled 6 miles, but still managed to make high F4 status due to the sheer devastation of it.

So far, Global Go Team has taken me as far as 1,825 miles to Gressier, Haiti and now will be taking me a short 70 miles to Joplin, Missouri. I look forward to being able to help.

Mobile Site

As some of you know, I used to keep a mobile version of my blog. I started it in January of last year and even wrote a blog about it. I only started it because I had a non-smart phone but also had unlimited Internet. I realized that people who were in my same situation couldn't read my blog if they wanted. So, I created a duplicate blog but at as opposed to just levifelton...

Today, I spotted that Blogger has finally remedied this little inconvenience with a fix. Now I (and everyone else with a Blogger blog) can turn on a mobile version of my (their) blog via the 'Settings' tab. No need for a separate URL.

But, now my situation has changed. I now have a smart phone that displays my blog beautifully. So, I debated a little bit whether or not to turn on the mobile version. Surely, it would help someone out there read my blog, though. But, will it inconvenience my smart phone owning readers in the process. I did find that there is a link to click at the bottom of every page to view the full site, on the other hand. So, anyone with a smart phone can very easily scroll to the bottom and change it to the full version if they want.

I just thought I'd send out a feeler and see if anyone cares to comment. Would you prefer an easier to read mobile version? Or, would you rather see the blog in its full HTML-ness? I've temporarily turned on the mobile version so all you mobile blog readers can see what I'm talking about. I'll decide from your feedback (or lack there of) whether to keep it on or not. Thanks!

Table Renovation

I was handed down this table from my mom. She was handed down the table from her mom. And, she was handed down the table from her mom. The table was her third husband's who passed away before I was born. In case you're confused, My great-grandmother was married three times. She never divorced. She just outlived them all. Her third husband had some cool old furniture which I somehow managed to wind up with. The picture here is from almost 5 years ago in our last house right after our first go at making sushi. I sometimes kick myself for forgetting to take a "before" photo. Luckily I scrounged up some photos, but not necessarily ideal ones. As always, click on the photo to enlarge it.

The piece that I'm talking about today is our dining room table. We're not sure of it's age, however, I've been told that it dates back to around 1900. My great-grandmother's husband used it for years to do his art on in his workshop. My great-grandmother always loved the table and brought it up out of the basement sometime after he died, cleaned it up, and used it for a kitchen table. I remember sitting at it as a child eating handfuls of raw macaroni. My grandmother knew my brother and I liked it and would keep a jarful on the counter just for us.

It got passed down once a decade after that until it wound up in my dining room. Jodi had wanted for a while to refinish it. Due to it's separation of the boards and the natural pitting of the wood, there were plenty of places for food to get stuck. As a result, it was difficult to clean and eventually became a concern to her. This photo was taken last New Year's Eve. We celebrated with sparkling juice and fondue with the boys. You can kind of see the table getting slightly more wear from the previous photo.

During Jodi's nesting period a couple months ago, she took it outside and sanded the top down. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to clamp and wood glue the boards back together. As soon as I took the clamps off 36 hours later, the boards split apart. I suppose wood 100 years old is pretty stubborn. So, I clamped it, screwed in some oak braces underneath, and filled the cracks with wood filler. It sat out there a while until we could finish it the weekend before last. I sanded the rest of it down, Jodi and I stained it, and I shot it with a coat of Lacquer.

Here it is pictured back in its location and looking beautiful. It turned out much better than what I had imagined. I was kind of scared to start messing with it. It has so much character that I was afraid that it might be lost with all that sanding and staining. However, I'm extremely happy with the end result. Turns out, it's super nice and makes the rest of our furniture look like it needs some work.

Chemical Poisoning

For six days before Memorial day weekend begun, I felt terrible. Every day, at some point in the day I would become tired, my lower back would ache as if I were feverish, and I would have, at minimum, a slight headache. I thought that I was getting sick at first, but it didn't get any worse. Then again, it seemed to not get any better.

Finally, on the sixth day, I had enough of feeling bad and decided to ask my wife what I should do. (I should have started with this, but whatever.) She almost immediately asked, "Have you been eating or drinking anything new lately?" And, it hit me. During this same time frame, I had bought a couple boxes of Propel.

I had bought these before and didn't have any issues with them, but then after looking at them, I realized that I had purchased Propel Zero this time instead of the regular Propel. Oops. I immediately stopped using them in my water and by the end of the night felt better. The next day, I woke up and felt great again.

I was only using the flavor packets because it helped me drink more water. I chose Propel because it was the only water additive packet that used real sugar as opposed to all the others that boasted "no calories" but chose to poison ythe consumer rather than fatten them up a bit. See, I have a bad habit of going for very long periods of time without drinking anything. I'll get a massive headache and then can't remember the last time I drank anything at all. I'm sort of a camel that way, but without the humps of water on my back to actually keep me going in a healthy way.

Since then, we watched the documentary The Beautiful Truth. I enjoy watching good documentaries and this was definitely one of them. Although, I hate to hear that my favorite foods are really loaded with toxins. And, that the reason I like them so much is because of the addictive qualities of their brain cell killing additives. :-(

Still, I recommend that everyone sees this film for the information as well as for the entertainment. Oh and don't drink Propel Zero. It's poison.


Interesting Note: Blogger's built-in spell check is assuming that I have spelled nine of these words incorrectly because they don't exist as words in their database. So, I'm not the only one who doesn't recognize them. I wonder how many of these chemicals in the future will be found proven to cause serious health risks.

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