Category Archives: Personal

International “Play Music on the Porch” Day

International Play Music on the Porch Day is the last Saturday in August!

Not really sure what time I will be playing, but my plan is to either livestream or record my set. I’m even thinking a set in the morning and then another little set in the evening.

To follow along, check out my “Mike Buford and the Bulldogs” Facebook page, or check back here for a link to the livestream or recordings.

My morning set is very likely to be my praise and worship set. Not a lot of actual church worship service choruses in there. Here’s the list I’ll be pulling from, in no particular order.

  • “Insult Like the Truth” – Charlie Peacock
  • “Is the Brightness Still in Me?” – Charlie Peacock
  • “One Thing” – Charlie Peacock
  • “If I Stand” – Rich Mullins
  • “Screen Door” – Rich Mullins
  • “Sometimes By Step” – Rich Mullins
  • “I Belong to You” – Scott Anderson
  • “Somebody Loves You” – Scott Anderson
  • “Listen to Our Hearts” – Geoff Moore
  • “Motivation” – Wes King
  • “One of Two” – Gary Chapman
  • “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” – traditional hymn
  • “Where Could I Go” – traditional hymn
  • “Big House” – Audio Adrenaline

The evening set will be more of my bag of tricks for open mics and jams. I lean heavy on things like Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues,” Kenny Wayne Shepherd “Blue on Black,” Michael Franti “Sound of Sunshine,” Jason Mraz “I’m Yours,” John Denver “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” Blues Brothers “She Caught the Katy,” and more! If Amelia comes out to join me, you can bet we will do the theme from “Kipper” as well.

Play Music on the Porch Day - last Thursday in August, worldwide.

What the Guitar Taught Me about Learning

Earlier this year, I took up the challenge of “FREd Talks” – an Ignite-style presentation. Twenty slides, auto-advanced every 15 seconds. Five minutes to deliver a message.

I love this format because it forces me to answer the tough question, “What is my central message here?”

This one is titled “What the Guitar Taught Me about Learning,” and it tells the story of me trying to learn something and quitting.

[Link to video.]

Hope you enjoy it!

And, if you want to see how I’m doing with it, check out! Thanks!

“Prospects for Success”

My son, Quenton, and I are long-time fans of Prospect League baseball. The Prospect League is a summer collegiate wood-bat league. Their season lasts ten weeks.

Quenton loves sports, and talking about sports. So, for a summer project this year, we decided to launch “Prospects for Success,” a podcast about our experiences with Prospect League baseball.

We are especially proud of episode 9, our interview with Lafayette Aviators’ player Jack Lang! Check it out! The podcast is available on many popular podcast services and YouTube!

Prospects for Success podcast.


The campus radio station was a cool place to hang out. In my undergrad years at KCC (now KCU), there was a radio station. The 10-watt (maybe?) antenna was just about enough to reach the edges of campus and a little into the town of Grayson. The student DJ’s were paid from work-study funds, and were given some latitude on what they played and when from the station’s library. This was at the very beginning of the 90s, and “streaming music” hadn’t been experienced yet.

I wanted to like “contemporary Christian music.” But, I just didn’t. Too much of it sounded like the pop music of the day, which I didn’t really listen to much anyway. However, there were a few whose work I found to be particularly interesting. I really enjoyed the work of artists like Rich Mullins, Charlie Peacock, Steve Taylor, and Scott Anderson.

Scott’s debut album, “Somebody Loves You” was a real thoughtfully-assembled album in a dearth of attempts at commercial success by other artists. Eleven songs that told a story. I played it a lot.

That album came out 30 years ago. I still play it. So, one day I started wondering whatever might have become of Scott Anderson. Some internet searching revealed a lead that he was still performing, living in the Tampa/St. Pete area. You can find him at his website, I highly recommend the thoughtful “On My Way.”

As fortunes would have it, I am typing this from the state of Florida, where I will be attending a work conference this week. Two hours away from where Scott regularly provides some entertainment at an outdoor cafe. Two measly hours. Life had presented me the option of a side-quest, and I clicked “accept.”

It was unusually cool on Saturday, January 22, 2022, in Treasure Island, Florida. But, Twitch was there, at Coffee Grounds, playing and singing. I got there before a crowd would straggle in from the street – with the chilly weather, there wasn’t going to be much of a crowd anyway. Scott indulged me by playing a few of my old favorites of his. He also played some excellent covers of popular singer-songwriter tunes. I love playing… well, trying to play… Somebody Loves You and I Belong to You… and having Scott’s personal “go for it!” means an awful lot to me.

I tried not to be too much of a “fanboy,” but I did bring along the CD liner notes from “Somebody Loves You” and Scott graciously signed it for me. He also posed with me for a selfie. Twitch and me

Is there a lesson or a moral in all this? Maybe just this…. If there is someone who has been a positive influence on your life… someone who (whether they knew it or not) motivated you to do something special, no matter how small it may seem… reach out and let them know. You might not get a response, but that doesn’t lessen the value of the positive you are putting in the world.

And, if by chance they do respond? You might end up sitting at an outdoor coffee shop in Florida listening to some of your favorites performed live.

Florida in January

I am going to the “Future of Education Technology Conference” in Orlando, FL. The conference is 1/24-1/28.

Now, Orlando in January is typically a very nice place to spend time, but I will be tied up most of the time with the conference. Plus, my family will be back in Ohio, so trying to go to a bunch of the usual Orlando touristy places just wouldn’t be any fun without them.

I do have two or three stops I want to make in the region. Stay tuned for more updates on my adventures. Will I meet a CCM singer-songwriter from the 90s who I loved listening to? Will I find any of my biological father’s old belongings? Will I eat a sauerkraut pizza? Will I visit a classroom with a music studio?

Fallsville Wildlife Area

Fallsville Wildlife Area is a 1,300+ acre preserve in Highland County, Ohio.  I live about 20 minutes away from it, but I don’t think I had ever been there before my wife, Angie, suggested checking it out as an evening getaway place to visit for the family.

The trail to the falls on Clear Creek is about 3/4 of a mile.  It is a rough walk, over exposed root systems and around wet places.  But, the payoff at the end of the trail is a gorgeous waterfall, about 20′ high.

Where to find it.

The entry point is located at 20211 Careytown Road. There is a small gravel area where a few cars can park.  A narrow gravel road goes back to the beginning of the trail.  The trail is beaten earth, with lots of exposed roots.  The only way to make the trip is on foot. You won’t make it very far if you try to push a stroller or pull a wagon.

The trail winds a bit, and you will pass fishing areas along the way.  Once you reach the falls, the first path down to the gorge at the bottom of the falls is steep and narrow.  If you go further down the trail (downstream), you will find easier ways to get down to the water.  My son and I made the walk in slides, so there’s really no need for special hiking shoes unless you plan to wander off the paths.

The water was very shallow, so I just left me slides on the bank and walked in.  Cool water, cooler air than what we breathed in the parking area, and lots of singing birds and the rushing of water.  This is a great place to rest and relax, and just enjoy a quiet place that feels like it may be hundreds of miles from civilization.

Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area. Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area. Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area. Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area. Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area. Waterfall at Fallsville Wildlife Area.

Lessons My Daughter With Autism Has Taught Me – TEDxDayton 2018

It’s live!

My October TEDx Dayton Talk, “Lessons My Daughter With Autism Has Taught Me” is now live on YouTube.

This presentation was probably the most difficult to prepare for of any I’ve done.  The process made me deeply search what I think, what I feel, and what I believe – not only about Amelia, but about education and all students.  I hope the result, and Amelia’s story, can serve as an inspiration to think deeper about learning and expectations.

TEDx Dayton 2018 is coming!

Earlier this year, I submitted a TEDx Talk proposal for this year’s Dayton event.  Mine was one of nearly 200 proposals submitted.  I was very pleased to be chosen as one of about 50 to get to audition.  And now I have the honor of being chosen as one of the speakers at this year’s TEDx Dayton!

My talk is titled “Ten Things I Have Learned from Amelia.”  Amelia is my soon-to-be-nine-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with autism just before her third birthday.  This talk has been brewing in my mind for years, and I have already used it as the basis of a five-minute “Ignite” style talk, and it appears in the CCHMC booklet “Sharing Hope”, which is given to families of individuals who are beginning a plan of care at their Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.  While there have been many discussions over the last six years about what and how we might teach Amelia, I have found it to be much more powerful to pay attention to what and how she is trying to teach me about herself and the way she sees the world.

The organizers of TEDx Dayton have pushed me (and all of the other speakers), to make sure that we are able to give the best quality delivery we can of the best quality construction of our message that we can.  On Friday, October 12, Amelia’s will be one of several stories that are told that day, on the stage of the Victoria Theatre.

I have many, many people to thank for their contributions to Amelia’s development over the last nine years, and I won’t have time to thank them all on October 12.  But, my goal is to let Amelia, and all of her friends and family, and everyone out there who can identify with her, know just how amazing she is and how much we can all learn from one another if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons being taught.


The Power of Stories and Storytelling

I heard this story on a radio station.  I have looked for it online, but am coming up empty.  Let me know if you know who I can attribute this story to.

A man opened a coffee shop in a nice little town.  Eager to get to know people in the town, and drum up some business, the shopkeeper put up a sign in his window.

cuppa_joe“Free coffee, if you listen to my story.”

The shopkeeper was very proud of his new shop, and wanted to share the story of his dream with everyone in town.  But, when he opened the doors, not a soul came in.

“What a terrible, unfriendly town this is,” bemoaned the shopkeeper to the bank’s business loan officer, who was there for the opening.  “I’ll never make it here!  You might as well take the deed to the shop now.”

“I have an idea,” the loan officer kindly offered.  “I think your sign needs a little change.”

He took the sign out of the window, found a thick marking pen, and changed the text.  He placed the sign back in the window and told the shopkeeper to get things ready for the next morning.

When the next morning came, the shopkeeper was stunned when he raised the blinds and turned the “Open” sign in the door.  The line was around the block!  As he fumbled to unlock the door for the crowd, the shopkeeper looked to the side at the changed sign in the window:

“Free coffee if you tell me your story.”

Everyone has a story.  And, they’re all worth telling.  If we want people to tell their stories, we have to first be willing to listen.  In education, in work, in life.  You have a story worth telling.  Be ready to tell it.  But first, be ready to listen to the stories of those around you.  They are worth hearing.

That is the first and biggest lesson I have learned in my new job as an educational technology coach this year.  I should probably say “re-learned,” because it’s something I already knew.  But I have not been doing a good job of putting into practice.  I often felt like there was too much to do to invest that time.  I felt like I needed to focus on the technology.  I felt like I needed to work in the short-term and go for immediate results.  In short, I made all of the mistakes I see some teachers make in allowing external pressures to steer us away from what we know are effective practices.

The problem is, even when focusing on the wrong things results in success, it is the wrong kind of success.  Fireworks are dazzling, for an instant; but a pilot light can be called upon to do its work at any time, and it will roar to life… only because it was always there, calmly and quietly waiting for the moment of need, and responding accordingly.

Everyone has a story worth hearing.

For further investigation, see Dave Isay’s TED Talk about his StoryCorps project:

And Karim Jovian’s “New Yorkers Share Their Story for a Dollar” project:

Why We Are Baseball Fans

small20paints20201220logoThe Chillicothe Paints are the closest baseball team to where I live.  They are part of the Prospect League, a  summer collegiate wood bat league.  They play their home games at VA Memorial Stadium, My eight-year-old son, Quenton, loves watching live baseball, so I try to take him to several games over the summer.

He shares my love of sports, but he rarely roots for the same teams I do.  In fact, he seems to go out of his way to be on the complete opposite side of the fence from me!  I like the Columbus Blue Jackets, he likes the LA Kings.  I like the Reds, he pulls for the Cubs (Quenton was minus-100 years old in 1908).  I like the Bengals, he’s decided he’s a Steelers fan.logo

I like the Chillicothe Paints.  Quenton’s favorite team is the West Virginia Miners.  Go figure.

Sometimes, Quenton likes to hang around after a game and try to get some autographs.  During the 9th inning at a recent Paints-Miners game, another fan walked up to us where we were standing, near the dugout exit.

“Have I been hearing you cheer for the Miners?” said the stranger.

“Yeah…” replied Quenton, a little hesitantly.

“Well,” continued the stranger, “I have this game ball that I got from one of the Miners’ players today.  Would you like to have it?”  Getting a game ball is probably the holy grail of take-home treasures for Quenton.  We’ve gotten a couple over the years, but they’re very rare.  I’m not sure Quenton took his eyes off the ball as he said thank you.

“Which one is your favorite player?” he asked my son.  Baseball has a way of bringing people together.

“Number 7, Austin Norman,” was my son’s reply.  My son has a scout’s eye.  Austin is one of the league leaders in batting average, RBI, runs scored, and steals.

“Really?” said the stranger as a smile curled his lip.  “He is staying with my family this summer.”  Remember, this is a summer league for college players.  They stay with host families during the 10-week season.  “Would you like to get his autograph?”

Silly question, right?

When the game ended (a tough walk-off loss for the Miners in the bottom of the 9th), I saw the “dad” go up to Number Seven and have a brief conversation.  Austin then came straight up to my son and said hello, and shook his hand.

“So, you’re a Miners fan, eh?”

“Yep, sure am!”quenton-austin-cropped

“Well, thanks for coming to the game!”  Austin took the baseball and a black Sharpie (I try to always carry one to the games) and gave Quenton his autograph.  I asked them to pose for a photo, and they happily obliged.

Quenton was holding Austin’s batting gloves while he signed the baseball.  After the photo, Quenton started to hand them back to Austin.

“That’s okay, you keep those.”

Quenton was practically beside himself!  I shook Austin’s hand and thanked him for being so kind to my son.

All the way to the parking lot, Quenton relayed to me every detail he learned as he inspected the gloves.  The palm of the right glove had completely worn through.  “And they’re still wet!” he proudly informed me!

Of all the team rivalries I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not sure any of them are more hotly contested than a Paints-Miners game.  And that’s no small feat, considering the fact that the teams are made of college athletes from various places who rarely play on the same team more than a season or two.  Paints fans love to hate the Miners.  The Miners fans seem to enjoy finding reasons to deplore the Paints, too.  And that’s sorta the way baseball ought to be, as long as we can still shake hands at the end of the game and bid each other safe travels until we meet again.

Thanks, Austin.  I hope you have a long, bright, and happy career.  And I’ll even be fine with you going 4-for-4 against my Paints – as long as the rest of the team goes 0-for-27 and we win!


This article was published in the Sunday, July 31, 2016, issue of the Beckley (WV) Register-Herald.  Assistant Sports Editor Gary Fauber kindly asked if they could reprint my article and photo, and I gladly obliged.  Thanks, Gary!