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"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

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Indians and Reds

Tonight we are heading to Cleveland's Jacob's Field to hopefully see the Indians and Reds play. I write hopefully because the weather forecast calls for thunder storms. Hopefully, we see some and I hope Jr. is playing tonight. I haven't seen him play since his days in Seattle, which now seems like another life.
We have enjoyed our week on the Big Lake. I have worked a lot of hours since I am covering someone's vacation this week too. But, I am thankful that God has provided me the means to do so and allow Tricia to spend time with her family while on her summer break.
Last night we took all 4 boys out to dinner, California Pizza Kitchen (yes!). We then went to the Cheesecake Factory and Caribou Coffee. I am out the door right now to walk some of that extra off if ya dig.
We are heading back bright and early in the morning, so pray for safe travels for us. I look forward to seeing Keller and Shadow and sleeping in my own bed again. It's the little things in life.

See ya!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


It's been pretty good so far here in Ohio. Yesterday we were in Youngstown with Tricia's parents. I am working remotely and haven't had too many problems to speak of so far. I did leave my headset for the house phone in SC and had to use a speakerphone for 4 hours today but nothing we couldn't overcome.

We are now in Painesville, just outside of Cleveland at Tricia's sister's home. They have 2 boys, Henry and Charlie. The weather today has been very nice in the mid to upper 70's and very nice. The families went out to Lakefarm park today to see the farm by the lake (thus the name). Miles and Dylan had fun milking the cow. Dylan wanted to know why the cow pees milk :-)

Missy and John are doing great and the boys are growing up so fast, especially little Charlie. Miles and Dylan are catching up with their cousins and dog (McKinley) and even some time with Eric, the kid next door. You know, the usual summertime fun with boys and dogs. Missy and John have a big house and have made it even bigger by converting the attic to a full sized play room. Miles and Dylan slept up there last night and were very quiet, very quickly.

I checked in with Keller today and found out he's been watching TV and hanging out with the neighbors, in the house. Yes, in the house. He will be so spoiled when we get home. He probably thinks TV is a right, not a privilege! I miss my walks with him on the trail to start the day. I know he does too, or hope he does!

Well, that's about it for today. Just taking it easy and enjoying our time here in Ohio. See ya!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Road Again

We are out the door today for our annual summer trip to Lake Erie land. We are spending the week with Tricia's parents and sister. I will be working from Ohio (Ain't Life Grand?) and Tricia and the boys will be soaking up the family spirit. Keller and Shadow will be under the care of our great neighbors, Linda and Barry. Linda even lets Keller come inside and hang out with them and their 4 dogs. She says he loves to watch TV. I'm a little worried about all the partyin' he's gonna do while we are gone :-) Linda and Barry joined Tricia and I at The Handlebar for Chuck Prophet on Thursday night. He reminds me of a cross between Beck and Tom Petty. Great tunes and a fun time. I really enjoyed some of his tunes and liked what I heard on the rest. Slim crowd of about 100-150 but the energy was good and I think the band had a good time too. We treated Barry and Linda for taking care of the four-legged children while we are gone. Linda is even going to look after the plants. Good neighbors can't be beat. We haven't told Shadow about having to sleep outside all week, he tends to pout too much. I'm sure he will have an ear full for us when we get home next week.
Some of the fun things planned in Ohio include a game at Jacob's Field on Friday to watch the Indians take on the Cincinnati Reds for a little Ohio rivalry interleague action. I am looking forward to that and it will be just the adults going (Tricia's sister and husband, Tricia's brother and wife, and the 2 of us). Babysitters are one of God's finest inventions! Not that my boys need much of a "baby"sitter. Miles is growing up fast. Ask him about getting the fun opportunity to mow the lawn yesterday. He even had the gumption to say it was hard work! I told him in my day, we didn't have self-propelled mowers. He didn't exactly cut it clean but it was a huge step for him (and me). He still considers it fun so now's the time to make it happen and teach him the basic skills of mowing. Of course, Fire Marshall Bill was a little nervous watching her baby push a mower with an engine and blade. But, no toes or fingers lost!
Ok, it's time to get going. Pray we can afford the gas in the new minivan!

See ya!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Done

Well, after fighting the necessity of travel in the form of a bigger vehicle for over 2 years, we finally broke down and traded the Santa Fe for's so hard to type this...but it was the right thing to do for our family...I think it drives great...I will ignore the slight drop in gas mileage and the slight uptick in car payment...MINIVAN. Yes, we have a long minivan.

The 2008 KIA Sedona. If you know Miles and Dylan, please don't tell them yet. It's going to be their surprise when they come home from my folks tomorrow. We are driving to Ohio on Saturday and I look forward to having the room to breath on those very long trips up and down I-77. It's been a big relief to Tricia to have that room. Just last weekend, we had to drive 2 cars to go eat ice cream with my sister and friend and then to get downtown we took 2 cars again. So, there will be gas savings...for someone. It's nice to have the stow and go seats on the 3rd row. Yes, a full-sized 3rd row that an adult human could comfortably sit. The seats stow into the floor, which almost makes this like an enclosed truck bed. Yes, that's a stretch but a great way for me to reconcile not getting a truck. Overall, I am happy that we finally cut our loss or however you want to look at it. We needed something bigger for the family and the long highway trips. I am receiving a new CD deck today that has USB port on the front and a HD radio receiver built-in. If ya gonna drive the minivan, you gotta have some tunes! I am doing the install thanks to how easy Crutchfield makes removal of the factory stereo and install of the new CD. WNCW broadcast in HD so that will be a big plus and put a smile in my ears.

Otherwise, it's been a quiet week without Miles and Dylan around. I've been busy with lots of work, 2 new contracts coming online in July. Tricia has been in an environmental education class for teachers all week. It's a 38 hour course that is free for teachers and she can trade the time for inservices next year. She is loving all the fun and is actually going to a landfill today for their field trip. She's brought home tons of free teaching materials and seems to be really enjoying the week in class. Last night we watched High Fidelty and we got such a kick out of it. She had never seen it and I had once but I had totally forgotten how funny Jack Black was in that role. The language was inappropriate for the most part but the story and cinematography is great. It's one of those movies we CANNOT watch with Miles and Dylan around the home.

Well, I am going to get started early today so I can work on my new CD deck in the van and we are going to eat and catch a free show (thanks WNCW) at the Handlebar with our neighbors across the street. It's Chuck Prophet. I have read interesting things, so I'm looking forward to it.

Long post, I know but I have been slackin' all week. Enjoy the cooler temps down South and stay cool!

See ya!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

I had every intent on writing about Father's Day yesterday but never got around to it. After a great worship at Freedom, we came home and made homemade pizzas (I did squeeze in a nap on the couch really quick). The pizzas were my idea. One of my favorite meals, in home or out. We then went to see Kung Fu Panda as a family, where I continued my Father's Day nap :-).
We then went downtown for a stroll down main and Miles and Dylan got to play in the fountain.

We then threw them in the back of the car soaking wet, of course we didn't bring any extra clothes or towels. We made it home for a late dessert and I got a nice new pair of hiking pants (legs zip out) and a new floppy sun hat (Keller destroyed the other one). We ended the night chasing fireflys around the backyard. Dylan and I caught about 4 and then they escaped our jar. But, it was a full fun Father's Day. I can't complain when they are that fun. Thanks Miles, Dylan and Tricia!

I also called my step Dad, Pete, and told him how much I appreciate all he has done for our family and me. Pete is one of the best men I know. He is beyond dependable and one of the hardest working men around. They don't make them like him anymore! He's on the road today taking kids from their church back to Camp McCall up here in the Upstate. He is doing that to give the families a break. He also spent a few days at the camp last week with the younger lads (the younger campers up to 3rd grade) who didn't have a Dad to go with them to camp. Pete is a hero to more than just our family. Hope you had a great Father's Day. I wrote about my Dad a few weeks ago and what it's been like since he left us last year. I hope if you have your Dad still around you can call and tell him any day, not just Father's Day, how much you appreciate him.
Well, it's a day late but it's never too late!

See ya!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Raising Sand

Wow! What a great Saturday! First, we had a great time at Miles' graduation to Orange belt. We are so proud of him and the progress he has made at Hurricane Martial Arts.

The golf tournament was a lot of fun and a lot of sun! I did fair considering I hadn't even swung a club in almost 2 years. The BBQ was great and Scott, Tom and I had some good fun on the course. I definitely think I need a longer driver; but, I know everyone thinks the same thing... Maybe when I have more time to spend on the course, I will think about what I need to improve the swing. But, it was fun and I got a great Eagles 2 DVD LIVE set as a door prize.

Now, the real fun was up in Asheville. Like I wrote before I have looked forward to seeing Alison Krauss and Robert Plant together since I first heard about their plans to work on an album. The Raising Sand revue was incredible with T. Bone Burnett having put together a master band that included the great Buddy Miller on a multitude of instruments as well. Robert Plant was as animated as I have seen him. He's still got it and his voice was still in prime shape. But, the star of this show was Alison Krauss. Her stage presence was conservative but her vocals hushed the crowd many times last night. She and Plant blend very well and I was more than pleased with how the sound turned out last night. Alison played fiddle on a number of tunes, including a little duelin' fiddles with the multi-instrumentalist, Stuart Duncan (who Alison introduced as her favorite musician to tour with). But, what floored me was simply her voice. She had the sold-out crowd in the palm of her hand, especially on the a capello gospel numbers like "Down To the River to Pray". Some of the highlights for me were "Black Dog" (yes, the Led Zep hit but done bluegrassish style like I posted on my blog from Youtube), "I'm In The Mood", "Black Country Woman", and just about everything they did off Raising Sand. Highlights from RS were "Nothin'" (with Plant praises T. Bone for introducing him to the work of Townes Van Zandt in the intro), "Trampled Rose" and "Fortune Teller". The stage was a series of mood lights with a scaled down set other than instruments and the two mic stands. Although they tackled different genres throughout the night, I felt a common thread throughout the selections. You can call it gothic country or alternative rockabilly blues...whatever, it was American music, the dark side and the bright side with a nod to heart stopping gospels. T. Bone got a little spot too with a tune about New Orleans and I think a tune from his new album. Buddy Miller was spot on with every song playing pedal steel on a good number of tunes and even had his "mandoguitar"
out for one and a harpsichord for another. He seemed to be really enjoying his new gig. I can easily say I enjoyed every tune but was carried to another world when they gave an amazing reading of "The Battle of Evermore" with the final call and response from Alison and Plant making the hair on my neck and arm stand. It was powerful music that went to the core. Really.

My only complaint was the lack of awareness that an opening act would be on before the Raising Sand revue. It was some bluesy female vocalist and her band. We wandered the halls looking for friends, sharing a drink and people watching. We would have taken our time getting to the show if we knew about the opening act. I feel cheated when the producer pulls one over on your precious time. It was a short opener and the RS revue started at 9pm and went for a full 2 hours, ending with a 3 song encore.

Here's what I think they played:
Rich Woman
Leave My Woman Alone
Black Dog
Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us
Through The Morning, Through The Night
Fortune Teller
Black Country Woman
I'm In The Mood>?? (Alison sang a tune about a woman's lost love/life)>I'm In The Mood
Plant mentioned he had never been to Asheville and how much he liked it already and then intro'd T Bone
Shut It Tight
Bon Temps Rouler (intro about Mississippi Delta and how important it is that we take care of our heritage there)
Trampled Rose (wow! Alison hit all the notes on this one)
Green Pastures
Down To The River To Pray
Killing The Blues
Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson
The Battle Of Evermore
Please Read The Letter
Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Gospel tune??? (Plant's intro was about tomorrow being the Sabbath day)
I'm A One Woman Man
Your Long Journey

**I know I missed a couple in there including a couple that Alison did without Plant on stage.

Tricia is a hard critic to win over sometimes with music but she had nothing but good things to say about the show. It was one of the best I have seen in the last 5 or more years. There's not much like this show on the road. We got Tricia a very sexy, soft lavendar tour shirt that has a design on the side with some small print Raising Sand on the heart. Tricia and I had such a good time and capped the night with a nice, very cold beer on the front porch when we got home listening to the crickets sing with a very bright half moon up in the sky. A perfect day, a perfect night!

See ya!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wade in the Water

It's been a while since I have posted any pictures of our growing pup, Keller. He graduated basic doggie school yesterday, so we celebrated when I finished work today with a romp in the creek by the trail in front of our house. He has finally gotten the love of water. I was afraid for a while when he was little that he might have a water allergy!
He is a very handsome dog if I do say so myself.

Right now, I am enjoying watching some of the Bonnaroo festival online in my nice comfortable chair and air conditioner. 80,000 freaks in the sun, mud and rain just ain't my bag anymore. Glad I got out of there alive. Tricia and the boys are off to see "Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing". I am on call for work and decided to skip out on the fun.

Tomorrow is a big day. First, we have Miles' karate graduation to the orange belt at 10am. He is really looking forward to that because it means he can start the leadership training and get a blue uniform and weapons. It also means a little more tuition and longer classes but it will be worth the effort for everyone I think based on how much he has put into karate so far. Then at 12pm, I am in a golf tournament that Freedom Fellowship is sponsoring. I look forward to the fun and the BBQ, not actually doing worth a flip on the course. It's been almost 2 years since I have hit a golf ball. Maybe I will get the swing back quickly. Then, Tricia and I are heading up to Asheville to see Alison Krauss and Robert Plant at the Civic Center.

This is going to be such an awesome show. I have looked forward to this since I heard they were working together in the studio. My sister Amy will be here with the boys. On Father's Day, after church we are going to see Kung Fu Panda as a family. Should be fun. Then the boys are going to my folks for the week. Tricia has a class all week and we will be hanging out. Should be a quiet week. Enjoy your weekend, I know I will!!!!

See ya!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Table Rock Video and random musings

Here's a video I put together for our Table Rock climb. I used Derek Trucks' "Sierra Leone" as the soundtrack.

I think I got this Movie Maker thing. I had used it a number of years ago; but, the computer and the lack of memory resources made it painful. During our move to Greer, I lost my copy of Studio which was an awesome program to use for video presentations. Hey, Movie Maker is free know me!

We have some baby birds in one of our ferns on the front porch and that has Tricia on cloud 9. She has taken some pictures and I will try to get them on here soon.

We are heading out to Mythos tonight for a social with our Life Group. The boys are coming along too. Should be fun!

It's 101F on my porch right now in this afternoon sun, it's still a little cooler than it has been the last couple of days. I can handle the low 90's, it's the triple digits and the humidity that make me pant and move slowly.

Speaking of sweating...we had 2 softball games this week. I caught both games and we lost both games (no relationship there, I promise) but we had a ton of fun. The level of sportsmanship and the positive attitude of this Freedom team made it worth going out there. I look forward to next year. We have 1 more make-up game and then, believe me, there is no post-season for us :-)

See ya!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Malah

Here's a link to the pictures from The Malah at Paris Mountain State Park on Saturday.

It was hot, too hot. The solar-powered show was hampered a little by...guess what? power!

They made the best of it by having the audience join in an impromptu drum circle with the band's drummer. I enjoyed their set and was pleased with the sound of my Sony PCM-D50 using the internal mics. I hope to post samples soon. You can see the recorder in the bottom of some of the band shots on the little gorillapod (it's an awesome little compact tripod tool). I sent these pictures to the band as well. I look forward to taking Keller and the boys to the next $2 show in the woods at the State Park just around the corner!

See ya!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Concerts

Well, it looks like Rush won the contest! Which is good since I have a ticket for me and Miles to see them in Charlotte right before Camp McCall for Miles. My buddy Matt, from Raleigh, is meeting us there for the show (or so he promises!) Miles is looking forward to this show with much anticipation. We have the cheap lawn seats this year but I don't think it will matter to him. If it's anything like last year's show in Charlotte, it will be a perfect summer concert!

Check out the new question for the blog! Go Tigers!

Table Rock Hike

We just got back from hiking Table Rock. We left home at 0730 to beat the heat and started on the trail at 0830. It took about 2 hours to get up to the overlook and about 1hr 45 min to get back down. I feel beat but it was awesome and we are glad we did it without the boys and Keller. Maybe next time if we have all day! Check out the pictures below. I will work on some video from the overlook later.

Tonight, part 2 of the date is a free concert at Paris Mountain State Park with The Malah, a great trance music group from Greenville and then Mast General Store and something to eat down town. It's amazing what you can do with no kids around! We will see them tomorrow in Sumter for some reunions and I have an Africa team meeting there too! Stay cool! See ya!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer is Here

I made it back from tornado-torn Indiana in one piece. I was in Shelbyville, Indiana. It's a farming community about 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis. A nice place but not a lot going on other than chasing twisters. We had some pretty bad weather while I was there and the flight out was pushed up due to weather and I have to tell you I haven't been on a more bumpy flight. I was glad to have a window seat so I could at least keep my eye on the horizon as we bucked and dipped on the way out of the storm. What a ride!

It's quiet around here at home. Miles and Dylan went to my folks place with my sister, Amy. They are now on summer break and enjoyin' the pool and hanging with their cousins. We are heading down to Sumter for a Johnson family reunion this weekend. We are heading down on Sunday because on Saturday, Tricia and I are hiking Table Rock (early, before the heat hits 100 F) and then catching The Malah at the Paris Mountain State Park concerts on Saturday night. We had a nice trip up to Starbucks this evening for some frozen chocolate coffee concoctions that only Starbucks can make. I think I put in 13 hours today. Work is moving at hyperspeed right now with a lot of new sites going up with our applications and vacations and travel, etc. I needed a break and Starbucks works for me just about any time or day!

Some great news today from my sister, Amy. She passed her RN boards and is now a real, fully licensed Registered Nurse! Congratulations Big Sister! We knew all that hard work would pay off. We are so proud and now we have another nurse in the family to field the medical questions at family reunions (wink, wink).

I added a new link today for the Echoes blog. I look forward to listening to Echoes every week night at 10pm on NPR. There is nothing like it for my ears and brain. It's one of the best ways to wind down after a long day of looking at code and computer screens. It's a great way to check out new tunes and the interviews and live performances are top-notch too. Another feather in the NPR/PRI cap. Check it out!

Gotta hit the hay and get ready for another long day tomorrow!

See ya!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Waterfall Video

As promised, here's a quick video of the waterfalls. I used Windows Movie Maker to play around a little. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dupont State Forest

Wow! What a quick and exciting trip we had up to the hills this weekend. Our neighbors, Todd and Christine Smith, have been telling us to check out Dupont State Forest for a while. The close proximity of some many amazing waterfalls is not to be missed they told us.
We camped at Black Forest campground. The pancake breakfast was a hit, even if the weather was not on Sunday morning. I liked having water and electricity at the site too. Hey, if you are going to car camp, you might as well do it right. The boys had fun setting up and running around the camp. I think there were 4 families in the tent pad areas with most of the lot empty. The managers said Memorial Day was packed. Note to self, pick the same weekend next year! We eyeballed the cabins they have around the grounds too. 1 bunk bed and a queen, plus AC. Seems perfect to me. We will be back there.

Our first waterfall trip was on Saturday after we got the tent setup and the gear stowed away and ready for the night. Triple Falls is about 10 minutes from our site and it's an easy hike (well, maybe moderate for some due to a steep incline or two) of 15 to 30 minutes. Of course, all the way up the trail, Miles and Dylan are begging us to allow them to walk on the rock part of the falls. If you know Tricia (aka "Fire Marshall Bill"), water and heights make her a little nervous about the offspring. She was very vigilant and Dylan and Miles did their complete best to push the limits of our limits. It was a test of wills for a while. Then, somehow a young lady, trying to get her dog who swam into the rapids, went over the 2nd falls and down the rock. After that, Miles and Dylan got the message. That young lady is very, very, very lucky to be alive. Take a look at the pictures to get an idea of the fast drop she took. She was able to get up and walk away. She and the dog (he was wet and mad) used 1 of their 9 or 10 lives today. It was an important lesson for Miles and Dylan too. Mom and Dad aren't so uncool and dumb afterall.
We then went back to the trail head and took a quick wade in the river by Hooker Falls.

After all the fun at the waterfalls, we were ready for a meal. While I worked up the usual "Dad always cooks when we camp" meal of pasta, veggies and chicken (rotates with packed salmon), Miles and Dylan swam in the heated pool down the hill by the main entrance of the campground. We roasted marshmellows and made smoores. Miles and Dylan, not surprisingly, went to sleep pretty fast. Well, they were a little scared (especially Dylan) of racoons. I told them the story of how the coons got a little crazy when we were camping at Edisto back in 2003.

Once the boys were asleep, Tricia and I sat around the fire and listened to WNCW on the hand-crank radio/flashlight. It's all blues on Saturday night. I forgot how special it feels just to sit by a fire, relax with your honey and listen to the blues on a mono speaker. I think those tunes sound so good like that because a lot of those old tunes were recorded in monaural, not stereo. The Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale makes the evening by the fire with your honey special too.

We got a little wind and rain in the morning but allowed us to laze around the tent, start another fire and then make the 9am pancake breakfast at the big house on the grounds. The hot coffee was a plus too! Miles and I ate our fair share of pancakes just like we talked about by the fire the night before.

On the way home, we took Highway 11 east to Pickens county to check out the Reedy Cove Falls (aka Eastatoee Falls or aka Twin Falls), which is a trip we usually make after a camp McCall visit. But, since Tricia hadn't made that hike or seen that waterfall, we took her over for the trip. The rain cleared and we had a nice enjoyable hike and viewing of the falls. Plus, she got to see Bob's Place. If you have been there, you know. :-)

Here's some pictures from the trip. I have 2 videos to post as well (YouTube, very soon).

Miles and I went to doggie school with Keller after we got back home. Keller is doing great and he is getting the hang of showing off for the instructor. The tent and tarps are now dried and stowed away for the next trip. We hope it's soon!

See ya!