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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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Sunday, May 31, 2009


On the way to church for setup, enjoying a nice Sunday morning cup of coffee.

We had the best dinner last night with our neighbors, Barry and Linda. Their grandson, Noah, was there and we even brought Keller over to play with Cady, their boxer. Everybody had so much fun and Barry and I traded about 20 CDs each. Linda made the best chicken Francesco and a chocolate cake that would make you wanted sing "praise" and do the happy dance, which I did :-)

A small yard sale yesterday profited me $15 and Dylan $5. We tried to organize a neighborhood sale, it worked okay. The rest went to Goodwill. Nice to see the sun yesterday and dry out some. Lots of yard work yesterday. Pulled the pansies and planted the petunias. Worked on the basketball goal, the water plugs were leaking so I drained and started filling with playbox sand for weight. That project is still on going as the sand is still drying. Put down some grass fertilizer and adjusted the irrigation system. Next up is putting a barrier under the deck to keep the basketballs from rolling under there. I have some supplies from Home Depot that should do the trick. I also threw some extra safety handles on the fort to help with the zip line fun. Dylan gave me the thumbs up on those.

Miles had a blast at Disney and got everyone some great gifts. He is such a kind-hearted fella. He got Dylan a big dinosaur set. They really missed each other. It's gonna be so different with Miles in middle school next year. Can you believe they will not be in the same school again until Miles is a senior and Dylan is a freshman in high school? That was the same for me and Tim growing up. Only a couple more days of school and then it's summertime for the Johnson family. We have a trip to the beach with my family in 2 weeks and then up to Ohio in late June. Looking forward to Tricia relaxin' more and getting some good rest! Way to go Tricia, year #2 is in the books! Dylan got a ton of awards on Friday, including the only one to get the P.E award since he got one of the top scores. He also made the AB honor roll with only 1 B all year! Go Dylan!!!! Miles' awards on Monday.
Here's some pictures below.

Gotta get to church for setup. We have an Africa meeting this afternoon too, I will be offering some education on HIV and talking to the group about our plans.

See ya!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I want to first wish my Mom and Pete a Happy 20th wedding anniversary. My Mom was a single mother with 4 kids from 1973 to 1989. How she did that solo without killing one of us or seriously abusing any chemical of choice, is beyond my comprehension. I wish them many more years of continued happiness. That wedding was one of many mixed emotions for me and honestly the end of a childhood even though I was on my way to my sophomore year at Clemson. I still had a lot of growing up to do and that wedding is a milestone in that long journey.

Today is also my Aunt Jane's 60th birthday. Jane is the youngest of the bunch. That really makes the rest of them all feel old, I'm sure.

Yesterday we got the results back from Mom's breast tissue biopsy that was done on Tuesday. Mom has breast cancer. She is scheduled for a lumpectomy in mid-June (after our beach trip with her and the rest of the family) to be followed by radiation therapy and possibly, oral chemotherapy. Mom is a little shell shocked right now and really worried about how Pete might take this news. Pete's mother and 1st wife both died of breast cancer. Not the best thing to learn on your 20th wedding anniversary. But, Mom is a fighter and of strong stock. We know that and expect her to come out of this stronger than ever.

Miles is now on Day 2 of his big 5th grade Disney trip. So far that reports have been as expected and no big issues. I think it's been raining down there too. I know we have had our share of rain here in the Upstate and am thankful for it; but, a little drying out is warranted. I think this weekend's forecast looks to be dry and sunny! Can't wait to hear all about Miles' trip, whether I am ready or not ;-)

Tricia is counting down the day left in the school year and ready for break. My life and work changes when summer break starts. I officially start my new manager role on Monday;but, all the signature lines and manager setup are now changed and the pay increase is the last to start and it will on June 1st, Monday. So far, I have been trying to feel my way around the product line and get a handle on the big picture items. Got a new HUGE contract this week and that took care of wondering what I might be doing :-) So, Monday is nothing more than a formality.

Take care, stay dry and See ya!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Share some more Misery

Since my last post was so happy, I thought I would share some more misery with you. I was taking care of the roses yesterday and hit my toe on a rock coming back in the garage. I was proud of my control (over my tongue) and only mumbled incomprehensible and meaningless cries of woe. It was not a bright moment this weekend.

See ya!

Tuesday Afternoon

What a nice long and WET Memorial weekend. We had a friend of Miles' (Sam) spend the night on Sunday. Miles actually slept in until 1130am! I had to go and wake him for fear he would sleep all day. His buddy had been up hanging with Dylan since 930.
He might need that sleep yet, his 5th grade class leaves for Disney World today. That bus ride tonight is gonna be something I am glad to miss. A bus load of 5th graders heading to Disney would be close to torture for me. Miles is beside himself with excitement. We plan to take Dylan to get a Sonic treat on the way home from the bus departure tonight.

I finished my book Picking Cotton. Wow! Some serious work had to take place for that relationship to form and if you want to learn something about forgiveness and healing, I highly recommend. Basically, a guy was picked from a line-up and charged and convicted (not once, but twice) for a rape he did not commit. He spent 11 years in jail until he was cleared by DNA evidence. True story, based in Burlington, NC. Very well written and engaging as I mentioned in another post.

Speaking of emotions and forgiveness. I watched a very real and raw 2 hour show about 911 and the day of the terrorist attacks on National Geographic channel last night. I had never seen all of the details in such a synched timeline of action. An amazingly gut wrenching production. I was speechless and overwhelmed like it was the same day once again. This show was very graphic and not something I would watch very often. But, given it was Memorial Day. It was very fitting and a somber reminder of the world in which we live. It's also makes me mad that we let our guard down so much and let that happen. Never again, I pray.

Well, gotta get the Disney express in gear. Check out pictures from yesterday at the Memorial Park in Greer and at the fountain at the new Greer City Park. Life does go on! It reminds me of that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when the truck with all of the cartoon-eating acid is hit by the train as it rolls into Toontown. It's a big deal and it's an ugly mess but we pick up and move on and then the picture changes...

See ya!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brevard and Jupiter Coyote

I headed out for Brevard yesterday afternoon with an eye on the sky and ready to see Jupiter Coyote, almost 5 years to the date that I last saw them (5/26/05 at Swan Lake). I took 276 through the mountains and made it to Brevard in about 1hr 15min. Check out this picture I took with my blackberry from Caesar's Head looking back at Table Rock. I saw a few ravens fly around from the lookout too. Soaring above that sea of green trees. Always cool to stop by that park on the way up.

Brevard is a cool little mountain town, it has maintained a lot of it's Mayberry meets the mountains charm and they were in full celebration of spring when I made it to town. Free parking down the hill. The clouds kept building as the afternoon waned. I saw a little of Wilsin and got a soundboard patch a spot for my chair right in front of the soundboard just before Shannon Whitworth's set started. During her set, I wandered down to the food vendor area. Unfortunately, most of the food vendors were shutting down as the night came, most of the family crowd comes during the day and they had a Memorial Day parade and 5K during the day. I stood in front a BBQ vendor and watched the family and friends fix their plates. I guess I had some serious puppy dog eyes going as I asked "are you stilling selling plates?". Grandpa spoke up and said "nope, but even better" as he handed me the biggest chunk of rib meat. Talk about BBQ heaven standing on the corner of main street with grease on all of my fingers and a smile on my face listening to the music across the street. That was worth driving up the mountain on all those switchbacks (at about 5 mph).

I had a few minutes to spare before Jupiter Coyote started at 930pm, so I found my way inside the roped off beer garden and had 2 tasty Appalachian Brewery beers to get the evening just right. I was so ready for Jupiter Coyote and by this time a good crowd was forming to dance the night away with Brevard's big hometown band. But, the weather was not going to cooperate. We got 3 full songs and a partial of the 4th tune before the band had to pull the plug and try and wait out the rain. The band and soundboard were covered but the bottom had fallen out of the sky and it became a steady shower and not worth risking all of the "donated" equipment. It was a free show afterall. So, after standing in a door way of a closed shop and doing the rain dance in reverse, the band called the night. They promised to be back next year. Hopefully, I get a chance before then! They played The Handlebar in Greenville last New Year's eve; but, my inlaws were down from Ohio. Hopefully, sooner than another 5 years.

It's still raining off and on here in the Upstate. The forecast looks the same for the rest of the week too. We are talking about going up to Pleasant Ridge county park with the boys tomorrow as we are both off work. Miles leaves for Disney World on Tuesday. The talk inside the house about Disney has reached a peak and we all look forward to his big trip.

Great worship today at Freedom including graduate recognition, including the requisite baby in the bathtub shot that all parents love to show at these type events. We later took the Lord's Supper, which is always perfect and even more so as we celebrate Memorial Day. Jesus died to give us freedom and that is worth proclaiming everyday. I also pray that we would have no more wars that require us to remember those that have willingly given all for our freedom and nation. One day it will be perfect and the wars will all be gone. Until then, we must remember their sacrifices to keep us focused on that day.

Reading a new book, Picking Cotton. I heard about this story on NPR and made a note to get the book. I had the Greenville library order it and put myself on the list. So far, very well written and a page turner. Glad I have some downtime this long weekend to enjoy it.

See ya!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stuck inside of Hartford with the Greenville Blues Again

I was all set to get on the plane for ATL and head on home, to arrive very late tonight. I was offered a $400 credit and a hotel room to fly out tomorrow morning. I took the chance to call Tricia and make sure school transportation was set and then took their offer. It almost was not so easy. They took about 1 hr to find my luggage before I could get out of there and get to the Ramada. Delta and I have not seen things eye-to-eye this week. They bumped my flight on Tuesday and I didn't make it to the hotel here in Connecticut until 1am. It was a very early 8am class I had to teach. But, it's all done and we are finished here.

I had a great dinner with Donna, one of the consultants I will be a manager for once my promotion becomes officially "official" on June 1st. It was a great time to just have some personal time to discuss our new team and where we want the product to go from here. Since we all work remote, I think it will go a long way for our team. Plus, my company picked up her tab too. Good timing for me as I have already discussed. Still patting myself on the back for a good plan there.
Nice weather up here in Connecticut and I enjoyed the drive up to Sturbridge, MA yesterday.

The site was a good team and a really nice place to work, a long term acute hospital on an old farm in the hills. Long term acute means the patients are ventilator patients, brain injury rehabs, etc. That means no ER, no babies, no pregnant mothers, etc. Makes the system design very easy too!

Looking forward to getting back home in the morning. I have a very early flight that should get me home around 930am tomorrow. Nice to have 1st class upgrades these days too. All the miles to Africa and for work have added up to get me into the tier where I always get a free upgrade to 1st class if available. That makes for nice leg room and free drinks never hurt on the long flights either.

Just a note, I changed the address for my photo gallery links, so if you have trouble finding pictures on old post, you can find the photos using the Picassa gallery link in my links or above the posts on every page.

Well, time for a meal and then an early sleep so I can catch that early flight home.

Hey some great news to report here before I go: Dylan's baseball team went 12-0 this year and won the championship on Tuesday night. He had a great game according to Tricia and his report. I think that will go a long way in his love of the game!

Check out this video I filmed on my camera in the airport. They had this going in Detroit when I was out there a few weeks ago too. Funny to see everyone having so much "kid time" when they see what is going on!!! See ya!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Manic Monday

Running on 2 tracks this week during my role transition at work. Actually looking forward to travel work tomorrow up to Hartford.

-you know we (really me) are serious about our financial peace -) I closed the Best Buy account. That card was like a family member and it's now dead and closed. One step closer and Lowe's is next on the short list. Thank you God!

-bought 1 thing to celebrate my promotion: room air filter for my office. It's the same one we have upstairs and I saved $20 at Costco w/ instant rebate. It's immediately noticeable and worth it x10.

-i'm at Dylan's 1st playoff game and they have won again. Tricia and Miles went to karate. Dylan got a good single and scored. It's actually chilly today, I went back to the van for my windbreaker. Wonder what the temperature is in New England...

See ya!
on Blackberry

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Africa Encouragement

What a cool day at Freedom today!!! I got another chance to speak to the church about our mission trip to Botswana and WHY we are going. We also ended that part of the service with the church surrounding us with prayer. It was very cool and I can't wait to return and share more. Thank you God for a church family like Freedom.

Just waking up from the "oh so good" Sunday nap to find it raining again.

What's going through my head right now:

->This drier-than-normal spring is really something ;-) My neighbor, Barry, went out yesterday to the beaver dam and did some "destruction work". He said it was an amazing sight of construction. I think those beaver really know what they are doing. Glad to see some of that "backwater" go away as it was starting to look like a mosquito farm.

->I still think "The Office" is the funniest TV I have ever seen. Tricia and I watched another episode this afternoon following lunch. It was the "Company Picnic" episode.

->I am still mad as Hell about the Bernie Madoff scheme. I watched a Frontline 1 hr investigation last night. It just proves that deregulation is NOT the way to go and partially responsible for the mess we are in. When you have the wolves watching the sheep, some of the sheep are not going to grow old... The fact that whistleblower's attempts to uncover the scheme were denied for so long and then judged to be untrue at least once by the SEC is a shame of all shames and an indication that we cut the budgets and regulatory power of the bodies governing our financial markets way too much during the Bush years. We now have this to show for all of it.

->Listening to my recording from the show at the Handlebar on Friday. It was Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Jason spent 6 years in the Drive By Truckers before stepping out in 2007. Good show. I really like his songs; but, will be honest and admit the show is totally different and a more subdued engagement than the DBT. Not bad, just different. I enjoyed it, it was a free WNCW show for me and the recording turned out really good. On a Handlebar note, can't wait to see my old college favorite, Drivin' n' Cryin', there in July. It's gonna be a great summer night show!

->I finished Blue Highways yesterday. This is a book I will be revisiting again as I continue on my own journey through life. A vivid portrait of the backbone of America through one man's looking glass. Recommended summer reading.

->Really excited about my new job with Iatric Systems. I am travelling to Connecticut for work under my current position this week. I "officially" start in my new capacity on June 1st (ie, that's when the raise kicks in ;-)); but, I am already going full-speed ahead with plans and work for my new position. The best way to describe the position is to say that I will be the Harry Truman of that product line.

While I will have manager duties for the 2 consultants, I will be primarily the product champion for the line of applications in my suite, IatriConnect. The main applications are portals that allow physicians to view hospital information about a patient using only a web browser. We are also working on a patient portal to allow patients to schedule exams and procedures as well as review information from a previous admission (discharge paperwork,etc).

I will be steering the development work, doing the market research (there is a lot going on in this arena due to the recent federal stimulus funding and mandates), and responsible for most of the sales demos and conference presentations. It will be a HUGE responsibility; but, it's all based on applications that naturally attract me and I look forward to the challenge. I worked on a portal development team at my last hospital job and have some history with the development focus and intent.

So, I am buckled up and ready to move forward. I am planning to meet with my team of consultants this week while travelling to Connecticut. Both of the consultants live in Massachusetts and we are planning on a dinner while I am in the area for my other training duties. Since we all work remote, this will be an excellent opportunity for some team-building time. Glad I thought of that one!!! It's perfect timing since my travel and meals are already covered under the implementation contract that has me going up there in the first place. Basically, that means the hospital where I am going to train is paying for me to be there. That allows me to get more out of the trip without added expense for my company.

->I have about 5 roses blooming right now. I will post a picture this week once all the blooms are out. Nice viewpoint from the hammock on the porch.

Well, that's a snapshot today. Hope you have a great week! See ya!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Haircut and Job Promotion

Yep, got the ears uncovered and lowered significantly yesterday. Dylan told me that I look "like 27 or something". I guess it's better than being "obtuse" as he told me the other day. He was talking about my Wii Fit profile telling me that I was close to "obese". He doesn't miss a beat.

The job promotion to Product Manager is now official. Here's the email from the Sr VP sent out today down below my new haircut shot! Luckily, the promotion had nothing to do with hair; but, it was time for a change and had gotten way past time to do something different.

See ya!

ASD Team:

I’d like to share some very exciting news with you regarding an upcoming organizational change within the Application Services Team.

As the suite of applications collectively known as IatriConnect, aka “the portal” (CareContinuity, MDAccess, MDOrder, EMPI Match Builder, Archiving Solutions etc) continues to grow, evolve and expand into different areas of the healthcare marketplace, the need for a product team devoted exclusively to these solutions has become apparent. Therefore, effective on June 1, the IatriConnect Solutions team will be created to manage these applications. As with the other three product teams, the IatriConnect Solution team will report to Carrie Walton.

Mark Johnson, in his new role of Manager, IatriConnect Solutions, will lead this team. Mark’s broad experience in nursing and hospital IT combined with his dynamic personality make him the ideal product manager to champion these applications as they continue to grow and evolve.

Reporting to Mark, Donna Binette and Maura Furtado will continue the excellent work they do implementing and supporting these products.

Please join me in congratulating Mark on his new role!

Frank Fortner
Senior Vice President
Application Software Division

Iatric Systems, Inc.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things that made me smile today

Real quick post about 3 things that have me smiling this morning:

1. The mountain laurel along the creek that runs by our trail in the woods have exploded with flowers. Awesome display!

2. I had blueberries from Home Branch in my protein shake this morning. Tricia found them in the freezer and wanted to know what we might do with them. No problem there!

3. Something really BIG is happening at work this week and should be announced soon. More details on that soon.

See ya!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miles' 2009 Chorus Performance

We are proud of our performer!

Weekend Update

What a fun weekend:

-we didn't have any baseball games as scheduled due to the rain, so we hung out for a while and did some work around the yard and Miles karate practice.

-I finally got the hammock swing in place on the front porch, hanging from one of the rafters and very secure thanks to some good ole Tractor Supply chain and links. Nice to hang out there at night listening to the frogs like I did late Saturday night.

-We headed downtown Greenville for the big Artisphere festival and had an absolute blast, enjoyed walking around looking at the awesome art on display, being performed and on sale. It was a perfect afternoon for it.

-Miles and Dylan brought their bathing suits and had a chilly blast running around the Greenville fountain by the Reedy. Check the pictures below.

-On Sunday, we went over to Lake Robinson Community Church (LRCC) for their last service as a church before they join Freedom and we start building on the land there on 290. We were there to support Cliff give the vision and answer questions as well as to help relate what God has done at Freedom. It was a very emotional service for the church. They have been together for over 7 years but had not grown to the size they envisioned and offered the 10 acres to Freedom. We look forward to serving alongside our new friends that we met on Sunday. This is such an amazing opportunity and the community is going to benefit in amazing ways. For them to have the vision and humbleness to offer that land to God's purpose really knocks me back. I also got a chance to play congos with the band. I had a moment of inspiration and saw an empty set on the stage. They liked it so much, I was invited back for the closing song of worship. It was a powerful service and I'm looking forward to what is next for all of us.

-We had plans to take Tricia to Olive Garden for Mother's Day; but, the wait was over 1 hour. We made a nice stop at Atlanta Bread Company and then Starbucks. I think we made a great choice. It was a nice afternoon together. I even steam-mopped the kitchen floor and added a nice layer of shine.

For Mother's Day, I surprised Tricia with my craftiness. A friend printed some posters of images I sent of the boys back in the winter. Jack runs his own printing company and was part of our men's group on Friday mornings. In addition to the posters, he printed one of the images of the boys at Stumphouse Tunnel park on a nice canvas. I tried to get it mounted but the image was the wrong size. So, I got the idea to mount it on dowel rods and it turned out great. I added a couple of cup hooks and some suede cord for a nice touch. She was very surprised at my skills and was so interested in how I got it done without her knowing. I guess it does pay to work at home ;-) A few new roses from my new bushes added a nice touch too!

Well, speaking of work, my break is about over. We have a big chorus performance at Crestview tonight to wrap up the spring semester. Stay tuned for Miles' big solo on video to be posted as soon as possible.

See ya!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring Explosion

It seems all the rain over the past few days has lead to a explosion of spring here in Greer. My roses are just about to bloom and it's like everything is growing and turning green before my eyes. It a scene out of Fantasia 2000 where Mother Nature transforms the world to spring come to life before my eyes. I love it!

I spent most of the afternoon watching Dylan play 2 baseball games. We have some make-up games due to the rainouts. They are still undefeated and I think he is enjoying it for the most part. Gonna be a late night tonight and we already warn his teacher for tomorrow :-)

This week's musical gem: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Live EP that I got for $4 on Amazon. Her set from Christmas Jam 2007 still rocks my ears (and world)!

Just got a call from my old Clemson house buddy, Todd Nolan. He's 5th row at the Dead in Denver and wanted to give a shout out to one of his travelling Dead tour buddies. Nice! I know that will be a good time. Warren Haynes is pulling that band forward and it's getting better as they head down the road; but, still glad I didn't spring the $100 for the show :-)

On the travel front for work: I am heading to Hartford, Ct on May 19th for another new site training. It was a late switch for another consultant and I should be able to get home after the 2nd day of training if all goes as planned.

Well, I gotta get ready for Friday. Check out the Fantasia 2000 clip below. If you have ever been to Mount Saint Helens, then you know...

See ya!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Keller's 1st Haircut

We took Keller up to Dog Gone Beautiful for a trim and he looks and smells so good. The nail trim was way over due and you can't even hear him in the kitchen on the hardwood floors. He likes his new accessory too; but, I don't let him wear around his buddies ;-)

Now, I guess it's our turn! See ya!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

That Low Sinking Feeling

Well, we had a full weekend of errands, karate, yard work, Clemson baseball game and a Costco run today. It's almost 9pm and the boys are still awake eating brownies that Mom just made. It's gonna be a hard Monday morning, I can see that from here.

At the Clemson game, which Clemson won 11-2 over Maryland, we ate at the hot dog stand. I used my debit card. I remember this clearly because the team behind the stand had a time with the receipts and the credit card machine. We had a decent supper and a great time at the game, luckily, the rain held off for the whole game with clouds threatening all around.

After church today, we had a quick lunch at the Costco cafe, highly recommended by the way for quality and price. We stopped by the credit union to get cash for our trip to Costco. I pulled out my wallet and open it. That low sinking feeling washed over me, my blood pressure dropped and I said "I think I left my debit card at the game." Sure enough, it was true. After heading home and trying to crawl under a rock, I called my cousin's husband, Rob.

Rob went to Sumter High with me and also is a fine Clemson graduate. He also now works for Clemson University as the Director of Development (grants, alumni groups, endowments, etc). He and Tonya (my 2nd cousin on my Mom's side) have 3 kids, 2 girls and 1 boy, Austin, who is Dylan's age. We stopped by their place in Clemson yesterday on the way to the game. They also joined us at the finest ice cream shop in Pickens county, if not the Upstate: The Class of 55 Ice Cream parlor in the Hendrix Student Life Center. It's the fancy new digs for the place that was once over at the Ag Sales building (for all of you older Clemson alumni, fans and former students). I got a nice big cone of black cherry ice cream. I can testify that you can in fact survive on nothing but Clemson black cherry milk shakes for an entire semester if you should attempt. Ok, I digress. We had a great time hanging out with Tonya and Rob and the kids. We are looking forward to Austin spending the night this summer when school is out.

Well, I couldn't find any numbers for the baseball stadium and the Clemson University police department wasn't much help either. So, I called Rob and told him my story. In no less than 5 minutes, he had the director of concessions on the phone and verified my card was in his hand. Rob even met us in Easley (about 1/2 way for us to Clemson) while running errands today with the card. Talk about a life safer! I had just moved all of my automatic debits over to the credit union and was just dreading making all of those changes again. Thank you Rob! I owe you more than I can say! We plan to make it up to Rob and the family at a Greenville Drive baseball game this summer.

Well, I have some laundry to do and some boys to get in the bed. Have a great week every one. I am happy to report my world's axis is now tilted back to normal and my low sinking feeling is gone for now. Oh yeah, an awesome service today at Freedom! We are blessed with such a great church family and look forward to what is to come!

See ya!