How To Build A Questionable Set Of Deck Steps

This post originally appeared on my other blog that pays users to post @

My new house had a deck, but it also had a problem…

There was a nice step about one-third of the way around it.

Which is great news!

But then there was the other side of the deck….

And as you can see in the photo, there was a water faucet valve for the hose and no good way to get to it.

That is, without taking a large step down.

And so I began to build a frame to put a step in.

The frame is a mix of some 2×4’s and some “reclaimed” wood from our business that uses pallet wood.

After securing the frame of the step to the deck support, then I began to put on the first board of the tread of the step.

Then I finished up with the rest of the tread board pieces. Then to sure up the step and add support with some loose fill dirt.

I was excited to be done and was happy with my success!

My wife thought differently…

It was too large of a step-down.

No problemo!

More frame building, and then….

Add more tread.

This is where it gets questionable

Now the first or bottom step tread was too short!

The natural footfall hung off the edge.

And that heavy stone under the spigot had to be moved (again).

More framing had to be built and secured…

And finally, the tread boards, again, were added to finish it up.

Now, I just might add a hand-rail to nicen it up and make it have a more finished look.

But in the meantime, problem solved! Let the water flow!

What do you think?

The future together is bright.

Join me.

This document is for information and illustrative purposes only and is not, and should not be regarded as building advice or
as a recommendation regarding any particular course of action.


Created by Michael Paine 

Follow me @strangerarray and donate because
you like to see me build more questionable things.

Check Out Some Of My Other Posts:


You can get $250 to spend how you want where you want on whatever you want when you use my link now to refinance your student loans with Credible.

This is offer has been extended, but you need to start the refinancing to be eligible for $250 reward.

Disrupt This!

This post originally appeared on my other blog that pays users to post @

“To be truly disruptive, you have to do something that is already being done, but do it better.”

Image Source

Disruption is the latest buzzword you come across while “surfing the internet”.

Everyone wants to disrupt something.

Frankly that’s disturbing.

The need to improve and progress makes sense in its proper place, but just making changes for change sake, or disrupting something to usurp the market share isn’t really all that helpful to humanity as a whole.

I think that to be truly disruptive, you have to do something that is already being done, but do it better.

It needs to be something that is being done, but can be done cheaper, faster, or in someway that will accomplish the same task but have a meaningful change.

Another ideal aspect of disruption is that it opens up the market to new buyers and sellers.

Take the ride sharing platforms or room sharing apps.

These services already existed in the form of taxis and hotels.

But now people who wouldn’t normally, or ever, take a taxi, have an interest and reason to try out the service.

I ended up driving for Lyft for about a month and used both Lyft and Uber when I went to Austin on a trip (before the city and them got in a fight).

Or the Airbnb room rental service, which I also used on my trip.

Both platforms are disruptive because they take something that was already happening and make it different in a discernable and marketable way that makes improvements for everyone.

Why all this talk about disruption anyways?

Well with steemit and other blockchain technology, we are on the verge of disrupting the financial industry.

It we do it right.

We can’t just have random alt-coins floating about that have their own blockchain and separate currencies that don’t do anything special for anyone.

They will need a differentiator.

Steemit is taking on social media like David v. Goliath.

But unlike that story, this one will take some time and efforts, or we could use a miracle, that would be okay too.

However, they differentiator is that steemit post can earn users rewards, whereas FB, et al., doesn’t.

We all know this already.

What you might not know is that the plethora of cryptocurrencies out there all are either trying to do something revolutionary.

Or not.

Many are just speculative investments.

Of the several to choose from cryptocoins, one recently has got my attention.


Factom has taken an idea I’ve been imaging and made it a reality.

It is a truly disruptive use for the blockchain technology to change the Financial world.

They have taken a service that is already used everyday and made it better.

Their product “Harmony” will “Convert your document management solution into a blockchain based document platform that eliminates lost documents, reduces audit time and prevents costly disputes”.

More specifically:

Factom Harmony solves for many of the business problems facing the Mortgage industry today. Use the transparency and permanence of Factom blockchain technology to substantially reduce compliance, litigation and documentation expenses.”.

Check out this video that explains what Harmony has going for it:

I think this places Factom at a huge advantage in the cryptoworld.

What do you think?

The future together is bright.

Join me.

This document is for information and illustrative purposes only and is not, and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular cryptocoin or course of action.I currently do not hold any FCT from Factom, but would like to soon…


Created by Michael Paine
Follow me @strangerarray and donate because disruption.

Check Out Some Of My Other Posts:


You can get $250 to spend how you want where you want on whatever you want when you use my link now to refinance your student loans with Credible.

This is offer has been extended, but you need to start the refinancing to be eligible for $250 reward.

What have I been up to?

This post originally appeared on my other blog that pays users to post @

It’s been awhile since I last posted.




We have recently purchased a house and are in the process of renovating it from top to bottom.

I don’t have time to describe all of what we are up to right now, but I am sure to tell the tale once we are done.

For now that last picture was the baby blue front door that had to go…

Now we have a nice sophisticated grey door:


Also we had a disgustingly dirty garage floor that looked like this:


But now looks more like this:


I say more, because well now it is full of our stuff while we work on the inside.

See we are working on doing several things, the kitchen being one of them:


Which is doing much better now that we have removed the old dirty drywall and have now a nice new mold resistant backing.

Anyways there is too much we are working on to go into great detail right now, but I just wanted to give you a taste.

Speaking of, hopefully, this dirt pile:


will soon be a tasty garden full of delicious greens and other things.

I will let ya’ll know!

The future together is bright.

Join me.


Created by Michael Paine

Follow me @strangerarray and donate because you want to see me do more projects and tell about it.

Check Out My Latest Post:


You can get $250 to spend how you want where you want on whatever you want when you use my link now to refinance your student loans with Credible.

This is offer has been extended, but you need to start the refinancing process to be eligible for the $250 reward.

Where has strangerarray gone?


We need to talk.

I know it has been awhile and I’m sorry.

I got busy with getting an MBA. Which I am thankfully finished and graduated with!

However, if you clicked on that last link, you may have noticed something.

I haven’t completely stopped blogging.

Instead I have migrated my blogging to a new platform/social media website called and can still be found @strangerarray.

I would encourage you to sign up and let me explain a little about it before you do.

First off, the site is still in “beta”. For everyone who is not a tech geek, that just means it is in a “trial-type” phase so they are still working out user interface kinks and other issues.

However, it isn’t all that difficult and actually kinda fun when you get the hang of it.

Who should use

Although the bill it as social media, it is more of a place for posting and reading content. Mostly this will appeal to bloggers, artist and/or writers.

Think Medium.

But with a twist…

The twist being that  you can actually earn income for your work.


Here take a look in my wallet.

I have amassed a modest amount of value since I have been there.

Part of what makes this concept possible is blockchain technology.

And part of the blockchain technology is that it is entirely open to be viewed by anyone.

Don’t worry though you don’t have to understand it to  use it.

There is too much more about it to share right now, but I could point you to some helpful post if you are interested.

Also, I am always more than glad to help if you want to make this work for you.

Just drop me a reply.

There you have it, I am not gone nor forgotten.

Basically I’ve just moved.

And there is room for you to join me!


Why Seth Godin and I Never Fill Out Surveys and What Companies Can Do About It

“We’ve selected a group of people for a brief survey. Please answer a few quick questions!”

yes no check boxes_1
Yeah, a selected group of whoever happens to respond…

I’m not special.

It seems that I can’t go anywhere or buying anything without being harassed to “fill out a brief survey”. They often times come with promises to be entered into a drawing to win a prize. Usually it is not even a prize I am interested in.

And when I do fill out a survey often it is not as “brief” as advertised.

But we can do better.  


In fact, Seth Godin breaks down his opinion on how on his blog about Survey Questions.


As for my take:


Step One

Make the prize cash (if you are going to do a prize).

Okay maybe cash might have some legal reasons why it can’t be the prize, but then do a Visa gift card. But not a store credit to your own company, because that is just lame.

This also fits in with my dislike of “rewards” and “loyalty” programs.

They are usually very “rewarding” to the business with a paltry payout to the customer.

(My tip: To fix this give something right away for signing up, like Starbucks, give me a free coffee for enrolling, and then give me one after I buy my 1000th cup.)

Step Two

Don’t assume that your priorities are my priorities.

Often time a firm will suggest that filling out the survey will improve my future customer experience or satisfaction.

That’s reasonable.

But I don’t care.

If you have crappy service, I will just go elsewhere. The feedback you need found on your bottom line. Same store sales down? You’ve got a problem and it’s not your customer’s problem to solve it with a survey response.

Survey feedback can help you improve and thereby making it better for the customer, but growing your business isn’t mine.

Step Three  

If you haven’t figured it out or taking any social science research classes, please note that survey responses in and of themselves come from only a specific group who is predisposed to respond.

Generally we see and get “five star” reviews and “one star” reviews or responders.

Those who love us love us. With social media they share our content and get involved with comments.

And the ones who take issue with something tend to be more vocally with complaints anyways.

Lastly, if you’ve “incentivized” your survey (see step one), my default is to fill it out as quickly as possible without consideration only to get my promised potential reward. I don’t think I am alone here.

That being said, know that response will be skewed and not to be accepted as the majority opinion.

Step Four

Asking for feedback with a survey right when I click on your website is a big “no-no”.  

When this happens, all I can think is why do you want someone who hasn’t even used your service or been through your process give you an opinion about it?

And as an aside, why are “pop-up ads” still a thing? They are especially intrusive on mobile devices.

The instant pop-up survey is weird and has to be stopped.

Step Five

Start a real conversation with users/consumers.

As Seth said “If you’re not going to read the answers and take action, why are you asking?”   

To skip the survey and see my top influences check out my book:
Conspire To Inspire

The Simple Guide to Identity Theft


(Image Credit:

Be Someone else.

Being yourself is so mundane.

Everyone is doing it these days…

There is no shortage of articles with insight on what “successful” people do and how you can be like them.

Maybe I should really try to take them seriously and just copy the greatness of others.


Now I just Ctrl+V.

But like I’ve written before: “Doing the same motions of successful people won’t automatically make you successful”.

There is something else to it or we would all be successful. Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder entrepreneur and venture capitalist,  wrote in his book, Zero to One, “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

The question then is: what am I learning?

Am I trying to replicate behaviors to achieve success? Or did I miss the lesson?

Clearly keeping up with the Kardashians takes more than simply doing the same things that they do.

If you haven’t realized it yet, the successful people thought differently about a problem or situation and thought differently how to solve it.

Or we could just redefine success and then be done with it. But saying that I am alive today is equal to being successful is unsatisfying.

There is something deeper than that which has set us down this journey to begin with…

We read and know money doesn’t buy happiness and have all read the quip “more money, more problems”, but we think we would do it differently if given the chance.

But again,  is it chance or luck? Malcolm Gladwell would have you think so with his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” and all the while having you feel good as you read the arguments against your future dreams.

Then is it fate?

Your destiny based on things entirely out of your control?

We could easily turn around and find more anecdotes, such as Shark Tank’s Daymond John and his book “The Power of Broke”. Clearly he didn’t accept the “Victim Mentality” and acquiesce to his harrowing situation.

Mr. John wrote in an article about the book that he has seen several of his friends, colleagues and mentors have “started with limited resources,  but instead of letting that stop them, they used it as a catalyst to get creative,  think outside of the box,  and let passion fuel their success”.

There is a tension here.

I am faced with reconsidering the meaning of success and tailoring it to the status quo to make me feel better about what never will be.


I can stop making excuses and make things happen.


I can just pretend to be someone I’m not, who already has it all.

But I think they call that identity theft…

To steal the identities of my some of my top influences check out my book:
Conspire To Inspire


This Changes Everything…

Self-Driving Cars and Traffic Citations


Image Credit: Cop pulls over Google’s self-driving car

In 2015 the United States was on track to have its deadliest traffic year since 2007.

And although not all of these deaths may be preventable, sadly most were…

That is one of the biggest reasons I am a huge supporter of the advancement of self-driving cars. The needless loss of life that could be prevented with technology is enough that we should be throwing tons of resources behind this issue.

But before we break the bank, we’ve got to follow the money.

“A police officer was caught by surprise recently when he pulled a motorist over for driving too slow, only to discover there was no one behind the wheel.”

Political views aside on other means of revenue generation for our “great” nation, it is commonly accepted that traffic citations are often a source of revenue, especially for local governments. And just like other industries are facing disruption, the government will have to join the side of innovation or be left in the dust as the car industry changes.

The following are 7 issues I see that law enforcement and the citizenry will face when self-driving cars begin to be integrated into our streets.

1. Routine Stops

The article quoted above where the officer found a driverless car is funny. Funny, until you are a “passenger/operator” in the vehicle when the police lights flash.

My concerns are with the legal assignment of responsibility in a self-driving car situation, specifically with traffic violations.

Say the police in the story above found you behind the wheel. But you weren’t driving. At least not in the everyday sense we know today. Now say the car had exceeded the posted speed limit. Are you to blame? I suppose if the car allows for operator override, yes? Assuming you were paying attention and knew the speed limit…

To further complicate the matter, I am hoping and envisioning a self-driving car networked with sharing-economy ride services that would mean I don’t even own the car that takes me from A to B. So the vehicle in question doesn’t even belong to me and now I am facing a legal accusation.

This is something we will need to sort out going forward.

2. My next issue that we will face is what will the drivers be doing?

Tesla has its new ability, hands free on the highway. And I don’t know about you, but I like to do things when I am just sitting around. I would like to be able to read a book or maybe even take a nap as I ride to my destination.

Or say I have business to attend to and need to send out a quick text….

But in some places, like the town of Little Elm, Texas, they have a new law on the books that “even holding your phone or other electronic device, you can be ticketed and fined”.

What if you are behind the wheel of a self-driving car and on your phone?  Still get a ticket?

3. Accidents

John Taylor, Esq. in his article “Automated driving: Where will it take us?” addresses the issue in depth and addresses personal injury lawsuits and how they involve claims for negligence relating to the operation of a Motor Vehicle.

How does one identify the party at fault when the party is akin to an appliance, or when the failures can be those appliances can be attributed to software or hardware? There are two approaches that I imagine as we move forward into this new age. First, the laws need to be updated to support the potential scenarios we may find ourselves in. Second, when an accident occurs, the strategy for litigation will also change.

4. Red Light Cameras

Another means of traffic control and citation comes from the law enforcements use of red light cameras. Now we have technology vs. technology. This is where I see a great opportunity for both the government and the governed to partner to improve self-driving technology.

There is an elaborate pre-existing network of traffic control cameras that allow the continuous monitoring of our roadways and traffic lights. This data could be shared and partnered with a self-driving car network to allow the vehicles access to information.

This could allow cars to stop in advance of red lights. It could also help with traffic flow and other traffic pattern issues.  This article “Google Maps For Android Gets Predictive With Driving Mode” already shows the ability of avoiding traffic issues with predictive driving features. And apps like Waze have built a community that helps report other issues like objects in the road and lane closures that help fellow Wazers.

The technology can be partnered together to make the world a safer place to be transported.

5. Tolls

 Most all navigation apps alert that “tolls” are part of a route. In the scenario that I am imagining, being picked up by a Lyft or Uber type service self-driving car, the acceptance of tolls at the start of the ride will need to be stated clearly and credited to the user’s account.

Being clear and upfront is the key.

6. Vehicle Maintenance/ Registration / Damages

Presumably the platform that runs the network would be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle. But say one rolls up for you to get in, but you notice damage. Will there be a way to report it? Will a replacement arrive quickly enough to get you to where you need to go?

Maybe a quick photo will be all it takes…

In my state, all vehicles have to have registration and inspection.

Which is another source of revenue for the government.

A fleet of networked vehicles will hold the promise of needing less cars on the road, which not only alleviates traffic, but is better for the environment and allows for a reduction of the use of resources. But this would also hamstring the money flow that comes from the necessary stickers.

Even if the self-driving fleet had to maintain its registration sticker, the company responsible would be liable, right? So if an officer pulls over my self-driving ride, am I gonna have to get a citation?

Not over my dead body…

Which brings me to my last concern:

7. Auto-Pullover

I see this as a potential life saving feature and a huge pain in the ass. On the plus side, I could see this feature being integrated into the network with the traffic control system. The emergency response vehicles could send out a signal that could beam to the self-driving vehicle and cause it to move aside so the EMT can safely and quickly pass.

The flip side is the ability of law enforcement to use a similar system to require your vehicle to stop, possibly without your knowledge or consent.

Which could end badly with the way some people have thin skin and preconceived notions that the police are out to get them.

However, this again could be good in the case of need where the police are in pursuit of a criminal.

In the future, it may be all a matter of perspective.

If not already…