Google Voice

"It seems to me what you lose in mystery, you gain in awe."
Sir Francis Crick

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
--William James

>>>Photo Links<<<

If any of the photo links are broken, you can find the public photo gallery here

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Church Politics

I want to write briefly about something I try to avoid, church politics. Not the internal social exchanges and interactions of the body but the church as a whole organization. I am proud to be part of a body of believers that doesn't always follow the standards dictated from "on high" (that being Taylors First Baptist, home of the Southern Baptist convention leader, Dr. Page) but tries to focus on what needs to be done, not what everyone else is doing.

Take a look at this article and you might sense some of the frustration, regardless of where you are politically. Why bother bickering over what politician is going to show up or who is going to be there? What good does that do? Does it make you feel better to say "I can't join that movement because that person is part of it" or "they think this or that"? It makes me see red at times but then, I take a deep breath and go within and thank God that he is not a political figure and that he is in everything and in EVERYONE who seeks him. That's Freedom to me; Grace for all who seek it, regardless of blue or red, black or white, green or brown.

Just get on with the issues at hand and change the world and "throw your hatred down" to quote Neil Young.

See ya!
"Throw Your Hatred Down"

Here in the conscious world
We place our theories down
Why man must bring us
to our knees
Before he sees the weakness
of his sinful plan
The power in his hand
Will never touch a friend

Throw your hatred down
Throw your hatred down

Meanwhile in the underworld
The weaknesses are seen
By peasants and presidents
Who plan the counter-scheme
Children in the schoolyard
Finish choosing teams
Divided by their dreams
While a TV screams

Throw your weapons down
Throw your weapons down

The wheel of fortune
Keeps on rollin' down
The street that's paved
with sinful plans
There but for circumstance
May go you or I
Dressed in gold lame
Find a place to stay

Throw your hatred down
Throw your hatred down
Throw your hatred down
Throw your weapons down

Monday, January 28, 2008

Karate Kid

Miles had his first trial lesson at Team Hurricane Martial Arts here in Greer. It's far more intense than the academy he was attending off and on a few years back for a month or two in Sumter. This academy is very focused and seems to be a great place. I got a little work out as a participant as well. They were very impressed with my push-up form and sit-ups. Of course, Miles chimes up that I was in the Army. He's proud! It will be a challenge for him but we hope it will give him a chance to focus, set goals, improve his core strength and improve his posture. The whole family is going for the 2nd trial lesson on Friday. Of course, Dylan wants to get in on the action!

Tricia is doing much better today and is smiling and eating, two things she found hard this weekend. Glad to have her back, we all are.

We also registered Dylan for Spring baseball today. Miles is going to focus on karate and piano lessons. Dylan and I setup an automatic back stop net yesterday and got some batting practice in the back yard. We need to get his glove soon and start getting it worn in for the season.

This is a big week for us, we are hosting our Life Group (about 6-7 couples) that meet weekly. Tricia is so excited to have folks over and we have really bonded with this group and look forward to having everyone over. Tricia always loves to have folks over. I think it's a great way to motivate everyone to keep the house clean. I am hoping we can do it more often.

I also spent some time watching Clemson lose to Miami in hoops yesterday. Miami hit 3 three pointers (same guy who had been cold the whole game) in the last few minutes and Clemson went cold. They lost a tough game 75-72. We have Boston College next Saturday. We also may have to be with Trevor Booker who suffered a nasty high ankle sprain in the 1st half yesterday. I hope it's not as bad as it looked or it could be tough going for the rest of the ACC stretch. Booker is da man and we need him offensively and defensively. More on that later as the reports come out.

I am in the middle of a book on the Iraq war called Fiasco by a Washington Post military reporter. It's a good solid info book with a political and military depth that I find fascinating. I am now in the first part of the invasion, he spends a great deal on the pre-war politics and intelligence manipulation. If you are into military history or ever wonder just how we got ourselves into that mess, it's recommended.

See ya!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Primary Colors

It's Democratic Primary Day here in South Carolina. I cast my vote with Miles and Dylan's help after Dylan's basketball game. Tricia, unfortunately, has been too sick to get out of bed, much less out to vote. We think she is going to live but last night she wasn't 100% sure judging from the looks of her. Something you get from teaching 1st graders, I'm sure. Not a week goes by that she doesn't report someone making a mess in the class. I can now report she's vertical and among the walking. I have to tell you that she's also one of those people who really get sick when they get sick, if you know what I mean. There's no faking when she doesn't feel good. Tricia is not known for having a poker face and when she's sick, there's no denying!

Dylan's team remains undefeated but Miles team went up against a mighty good team today. That team supposedly has played together for a few years as a travel team and it certainly showed in their passing and defense. Miles played good defense and had 1 shot that was blocked. His team couldn't buy a basket today, I think the score was 12-32. Should be a fun practice on Tuesday!

Miles is also trying out karate next week. I'm going to the first trial lesson because the team invites parents to join the trial lessons to get a taste of the philosophy and the expectations of the training. We hope it will help his coordination and posture. He also starts piano lessons in February. We got him a nice electric piano for his 10th birthday and he's excited about starting the musical lessons. Our great friend, Sherry Marshall, who has several dedicated piano students will be Miles piano teacher. We hope this is just the beginning. For the price we paid for the piano, we certainly hope so! So, we thought karate would also balance out the manly factor on the piano lessons too! Little ying for the yang!

Well, I'm off to take Miles over to a friend's place for a sleepover. Our friends from Freedom, Georgiann and Charles Lamb, have a son on Miles' basketball team, Noah. Noah and Miles are buds and Miles is going to sleep over there and meet us at church tomorrow. It's a big night for Miles and it will give Tricia one less "Mommy" to answer as she recovers. Dylan wants to sleep with me in the hang out room since I'm staying clear of our bed until Tricia is over the "bug". He's gonna miss Miles tonight. Part of growing up...

See ya!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Along for the Ride

The Johnson family has been busy lately. Seems these short weeks make you cram everything into 4 days instead of 5. Just feels rushed.
Miles and Dylan got their report cards yesterday and I can report nothing but good news. They are doing super. Miles got all A's and 1 B+ (Math). Dylan got all +'s and a check (that's what they get in 1st Grade in Greenville, no A's or B's). Miles also lost another tooth this week. He's lost about 5 teeth in the last month or so. I guess that's what happens when you turn 10. The tooth fairy needs to take out a loan!

Along for the ride...I took Keller with me today to pick up the boys from school and it was the greatest thing for all 3 of them. Keller's tail was about to wag off. It made my day to see them so happy just to see each other. It also reminded me of the need to slow down and soak it up, even short weeks full of rushing around can be good ones.

See ya!

Monday, January 21, 2008


It's officially Martin Luther King, Jr day. His birthday is actually January 15th, which is also Miles' birthday. We remind him of that every year and it makes him proud and feel special. Having been to South Africa and grown up in the South, I am very aware of the place MLK deserves in our culture and society. I am also honored to live in a country that can learn from past mistakes and grow as a people, regardless of how mixed our genes and cultures have become in the USA.

I finished with the Marc Cohn show and have put it out on a Bit Torrent on Trader's Den. It's moving along with some folks from Germany leading the way! Just think, on MLK Day, I have someone from Germany downloading a music show from a Jew performed in the Deep South. Ain't that something to ponder! We are all connected. BTW, the show turned out great and I am very proud to offer it to anyone who wants a copy. Just get in touch.

On the home front, it was a school holiday. I had plenty of work for a Monday and the boys just lazed around. Dylan and I took Keller out for a walk this afternoon, it's still winter! The wind chill is cold and they are calling for sleet and frozen rain tonight. Glad I have gas logs.

Speaking of Keller. That Keller is a smart dog. We are now working on the #2 business and where he needs to do his number. While Dylan and I were doing poop patrol, Keller went over to the "sanctioned" pile and did his number. He made sure we saw him and he got a big congratulations afterwards. It was like Dylan or Miles using the toilet, it was a proud father moment :-)

See ya!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday, Saturday night in Asheville

Tricia and and I had a blast last night in Asheville catching Marc Cohn at The Orange Peel. We made it a little early and watched some basketball (Maryland beat UNC at the buzzer) and then went downtown for dinner. We put the GPS to good use and found the Orange Peel.

We found a great spot on the street behind the club and walked 1 block over to Ed Bourdreux's on Biltmore. Great bar/BBQ pub. Very large screen where we watched the first half of the Clemson v. Duke game. I had a combo of beef brisket and pulled pork. What I really like about Ed's was the sauce bar where they had about 10 sauces divided into spice intensity. My favorites was the Memphis sweet. A few Sweetwater 420's and it was a great dinner, although a little much for the diet I've been trying to follow lately. Tricia had a turkey sandwich of some kind, which is no surprise given her tastes and usual dishes. At the end of the half, we walked down the block to the Dripolator, a hip coffee shop on Biltmore for a few cups of Joe to warm us for the walk back to the Orange Peel and the show. It was COLD last night in Asheville with a chilly breeze blowing down the streets. The snow stopped before dark.

For those of you who don't know, The Orange Peel, is a warehouse of sorts converted into a large music room with a funky bar on one side and the cleanest bathrooms in the land. It's a decent place made better by the smoke free environs and a great staff that features some of the best touring acts on the road today. The night didn't start too well since the venue didn't have the Marc ticket list. That's where I bought our tickets, which by the way, were for Tricia's birthday present (1/5). The staff looked at my email that I printed and gave us complimentary tickets (printed on receipt paper) and then we made it in the door (finally, as it was kinda cold just standing around on the corner).

Inside, the opening act, Amy Correia, was already on the stage and into her first few tunes. The room was low lit and had a warm vibe and temperature (but not too warm). Some rows of seats in front of the stage and then about 4 rows of small tables in front of the board. We found two seats in front of the left stack and settled in for the show. At this point, I should point out that I had plans to tape the show with the internal mics on my new Sony PCM-D50 recorder. As a back-up plan, I brought along my omni mics that are in croakie mounts for stealth back-up. Always plan for the worst, I learned that in the Army! Good thing I did! Marc Cohn at one time was allowing open taping of his shows. But, that was not the case last night as the "No photo, flash, video or audio" sign was in full force. A leather jacket always helps get the equipment in the door without problems. The croakie mounts are omni elements that I got from Sound Professionals. Although I wouldn't get to use the internal mics, it was a good chance to try the mic preamp on the D50. I think it did a great job but I am still concerned about a mismatch on the elements which on first review does look like it continues on the D50. I am planning to send them back for a better match as the right channel still lacks dB and I have to balance in post every time. I really would like to get cardioid elements instead since the mics are always pointed straight ahead and will limit some of the crowd chatter. That was not a problem last night as the crowd was respectful and very into the show. Okay, enough about the setup, how was the show?

As a solo opening act, Tricia and I weren't too impressed with Amy Correia. She seemed to push it but had a few good tunes, especially the last one which was a gospel tune. I did get that one as I made it back from the bathroom (which are very clean, did I mention that? :-) ) where I finished the setup of the stealth mics (down the back collar and into the fanny pack in the front, etc) and set up the recorder for the show. I turned on the 20dB preamp attentuator as I didn't want the mics to overload. On my Hi-MDs in similar setups, I always used a Radio Shack volume control in reverse since the MDs don't have preamp attentuators. Nice to go without that extra noise in the signal chain now on the D50.

I was very impressed with Marc Cohn and will try to catch his show again in the future. Marc was the victim of a shooting back in 2005 during an apparent carjacking after one of his shows in Denver. Marc was shot in the head and lucky to be alive. I guess that's why he now sings about ghost and otherworlds. I think I counted at least 5 songs about ghosts: Ghost train, Giving Up the Ghost, Dance Back From the Grave, The Calling (Ghost of Charlie Christian) and a couple of tunes about angels. Hey, if that was me, I think a gunshot to the head might change my perspective as well. I didn't mind as the vibe of the show and the setlist really matched. It was perfect with his masterful long time guitarist, Shane Fontayne, adding harmonic tones with graceful touches that filled the room very well. Maybe because I was in front of the stack or the Orange Peel has updated the sound, but I found the room sound to be very good and warm last night....MUCH better than the last show I saw there in 2004 (Soulive and MMW on my birthday 11/19/2004: Listen to the Soulive show I recorded).

Marc was in great spirits, making jokes about his gigantic hits and infamous writer's block. Amy Correia was also Marc's backup singer and did a much better job in that role. Marc's band was tight and this being the first week of this part of the tour sounded fresh and ready. I think they started this tour in Atlanta last week according to Marc's tour journal. Shane on guitars, a keyboardist/vocal who added some great touches and effects, a funky multi-percussionist (Joe Bonadio (sp?)), standup and electric bass (John Osman (sp?)) and Amy Correia on back-up along with Marc playing piano and some great acoustic left-handed guitar.

Marc played most of the hits other than "Already Home" that you could have wanted to hear. He took a few request and did a couple of tunes with just Shane and Marc on stage. He made jokes about his biggest hit ("I didn't promise that I would play "Walking in Memphis" after joking about the promo poster) but took the time to tell the background story of that tune and others. A couple of highlights for me were "True Companion" with just Shane and Marc with Tricia holding my hand and smiling at me (awww shucks) and "Dance Back From The Grave" his post-Katrina dedication with Marc on mic sounding like a megaphone ala Tom Waitts. He gave it all last night and the crowd was right there with him. They came back for 2 encores and he came out after the show to the merch table to sign autographs which is one of my favorite things. The last encore featured Marc and Joe on drums with Marc making jokes about the Allman Brothers (the 2 drummer reference). We didn't hang around as Tricia was ready to head back to the Hampton Inn, so after a great 2 1/2 hour show, headed out in the frigid (it got down to 12F last night) cold with a heart full of tunes from one of the better singer songwriters on the road today. Get out there and catch this tour if Marc Cohn heads your way and pick up the new CD Join the Parade while you are at it. Charlie Sexton is all over it, nuff said there!

I am very pleased with the recording on first playback (in the car on the way home). I will do a little balancing and normalize the levels and should have this one on a bit torrent somewhere soon. You should check it out! I'm pleased with the mic preamp and the attenuator, the D50's green and red indicators for peaks also made all the difference for setting the levels in my fanny pack in the dark club. Kudos for getting it right Sony!

As for the Clemson v. Duke game, they hung in there for the first half but Duke was just too much for Clemson in the 2nd half. Hopefully, Clemson will take something good out of it and be ready for Wake Forest later this week. 13-4 and in the bulk of the ACC. Hopefully, we can keep our heads above the water! Well, back to sleeping on the couch and watching playoff football with 1 eye open. I don't watch much NFL but do find it semi-interesting in January.

It was a great weekend for Tricia and me. My parents came up with my niece and nephew from Irmo, SC (Carley and Drew) and stayed with the boys. They left before church this morning. The boys' basketball games were canceled because of the snow, so my parents missed out on the games. But, the kids had fun playing in the snow with Keller chasing around all of them.

A little more snow and some cold temps to compliment some warm music, food and spirit.
Ain't Life Grand!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Marc Cohn

Well, my first post on the mrsoul blog.

Tricia and I are heading up to Asheville to see Marc Cohn at the Orange Peel and have a date. My parents came up with my niece and nephew to spend the night with the boys. It's snowing again today but not sticking much.

My new friend from Freedom Fellowship (our church here in Greer), Jake, helped me put a doggie door in the garage for Keller. Keller is almost 12 weeks and growing every day. He got the hang of the door in just one try. He's a smart pup. Well, time to head out up to Asheville.

More on the concert and the night out. Stay tuned.