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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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Monday, June 29, 2009

Mom's 2nd Surgery

Mom's 2nd surgery is over and she is now in recovery. My sister, Amy, reports she is dealing with a good bit of pain right now and has 2 drains but is in good spirits. She may stay most of the day in day surgery and then go home or spend the night inpatient. Thanks again for your prayers and words of encouragement. More later!

Friday, June 26, 2009


What a weird week and I'm sure you have thought the same...Sanford, Jacko, Farrah.

Sad to see Farrah have to suffer. I admit to staring at that red bathing suit poster for a long time in one of my Uncle's homes many years gone by. She was IT back then. She paved the way for the posters of the 80's that drove my Mom crazy. May she rest in peace.

Now, Jacko. Wow! That was a shocker. I will go ahead and admit it, I really liked the Thriller album when it came out. It was cool and had some muscle too. The constant MTV play didn't hurt either. There have been few videos like "Beat It" or "Thriller" and there will never be anyone like Michael Jackson. Thank God for that! Dude had some musical and dance skills; but, he also got way warped by fame and money. It was a sad slow spiral for him. I wish his family peace. Now, it's time to keep moving forward. Thanks for the tunes Mike!

Sanford...Sanford...Sanford. It just keeps getting worse. More details about his recent behavior in South America lead me to beleive he decided to do the "right thing" on the drive from Atlanta back to Columbia AFTER being busted by the reporter as he got off the plane. I'm still pissed as a father and citizen that he would do that over Father's Day weekend. I guess Jon Stewart nailed it with his line "just another politician with a conservative agenda and a liberal penis." Sad state of affairs indeed!

Enjoy your weekend and please let the rest of the summer not be as weird and frustrating as this week!

See ya!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sad State of Affairs

By now you too have watched with your mouth agape at Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina make his tearful apology to the state and the nation about his extramarital affair. I will be truthful here, I was shocked. Although I didn't agree with his politics 100% of the time, I did vote for him twice. I always viewed him as a good family man, a father of 4 sons. He had everything: a home on the beach on Sullivan's Island, money (well, his wife is the granddaughter of the Skil saw fortune) and was elected twice as Governor here in South Carolina. Unfortunately, he let us all down. Most noteworthy, he let his family down. I still can't fathom or comprehend how he could choose Father's Day weekend to be away with his mistress or his now "ex-mistress" as he promises.

He also failed in his duties as our Governor, he had no contact with his staff or family after turning off his cell phone when flying out to Argentina last week. His staff told everyone he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. He would have been much better off there! It's just so sad that he could hold himself so high in principle for politics (see Stimulus Money fight with Legislature this year) and then be so low in morals. This does nothing for politicians in my mind, except chip away at what sense of decency and moral bearing that is left in this nation.

While I am mad and disappointed, I know his family needs prayers for strength and endurance right now. That is my prayer: for my home state and the families affected. Governor Sanford will have much work to do in order to restore any faith from his constituents and his family. I hope and pray he moves forward from this terrible moment in our state's history.

Ok, time to get back to work. We have new cell phone numbers in case you did know already:
864-354-6958 for Mark and 864-354-6963 for Tricia. I went in to the AT&T store yesterday to order my new iPhone (thanks to my employer) and changed our numbers to local numbers. That will make it much easier for Miles and Dylan and all of our friends and neighbors.

Keep Smilin', it does get better! See ya!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Longest Monday of the Year

Is this the longest Monday of the year? The sun was up long before me on my 7am walk with Keller this morning. Nice and cool(er) today in the woods. Keller still took ample time in the creek, he becomes part otter in the summer months.

What a great day yesterday with the family. An awesome worship experience at Freedom, a great lunch from Tricia which was topped off with her best blueberry cheesecake (EVER), Ice Age 3-D with the family (special Father's Day special viewing before the 7/1 opening day), a trip to Costco (you know that makes Daddy's day!) and then back home for more cheesecake! I also got some great presents: shirts (cool for the summer) and a retractable drop cord for the garage (that's what I'm talking about!). The boys gave me some great card at church too. Dylan wrote I am awesome Dad because I helped him believe in Christ the Lord. Now that is cool! Miles wrote that I do fun things with him. My boys rock!

We also kick-started the big summer break home project last night. Tricia wants her own room for work and hobbies. Miles and Dylan have been sleeping in the same bed (Miles) for the last 5 months or so anyways. So, Dylan's room is now the official "guest bedroom" and Miles room will be Tricia's work/hobby area. The "hangout room" is now officially the boys bedroom. We still have a lot to do and the painting will have to be delayed for now. But, we got the bunk beds moved and my large CD locker is now here beside me in my office. I think that is where Tricia wanted it anyways! Works for me! I think it will take at least this week to get everything moved and situated. But, that's what teachers do in the summer!

Gotta get to work! Enjoy the longer days and hopefully a break from the heat! See ya!

Here's some photos from our little session at church yesterday! I have an awesome family that I thank God for everyday! See ya!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Weekend Update

It's Father's Day Weekend. I can make it that way for a entire weekend, can't I? Lots of updates, so here goes...

My demo on Thursday went great. Still no news on the site's decision; but, based on the immediate feedback from my Senior VP and Regional Account Manager, my demo went great. I think I did pretty good considering the room had a horrible echo that was only heard when the mics were not muted on the hospital side. Whenever they took their phone off mute to ask questions, the echo was three fold. That was also made worse due to the Middle Eastern accent of a few of the physicians asking questions. I guess that 6 months of talking to Tricia on a satellite phone while she was in Honduras finally paid off, royally!!! I was able to pick up key words and did not one time as them to repeat their questions. I used a good many "I think I heard you say" statements and I was correct 100% of the time. My VP was mightily impressed and I think the demo was a success, considering it was my first for the product too! God is good and he helped me through that stress and my mental prep all week worked to mightily to my advantage.

So, that's the good news of the week. The bad news of the week came from Mom. Seems the surgeon's tissue samples from the margins around here small tumor came back as pre-cancerous. She is more than likely going back for a complete mastectomy soon. She was not in good spirits after that; but, the bright spot is that she will likely NOT have to undergo radiation therapy if she goes forward with the additional surgery. Thank you for continuing to pray for her strength.

We were heading to Ohio tomorrow; but, Missy's father-in-law passed away after a struggle with stomach cancer. Missy is Tricia's sister and that is where we would be staying next week. For now, we have postponed until we can find a better time, maybe a longer trip in the Fall for Thanksgiving? Who knows? John Hagopian, Missy's father-in-law, was a good man and it was a joy to get to know him the few times we met. I know how Missy's husband is feeling. Losing a parent is never easy; but, we never want them to suffer and there is peace in the end. There is a better place. Funny, I look at this paragraph and see it's right next to a paragraph about my Mom and cancer. All the more reason to treasure the time we are given together.

This week and last week while we were at the beach, my devotion from Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) has been about being a good father to my kids. As a human father, I know I have failed in many ways; but, I also see some of the right things shining through in my boys. Miles and Dylan are growing in their faith and are learning about hard work, responsibility and humility. I think I struggle the most with my expectations of them. I need to give them more credit for their progress and watch my words to them more closely to encourage more and be less critical. Fathers: Help Your Children Know God. Dylan and Tricia are making blueberry cheesecake for me right now. It just doesn't get any better than that! I guess I most be doing something right! I know I need to include them daily in my prayers for this season of parenting young boys will soon be past. Tricia and I also watched "W" this week. It's the Oliver Stone movie about the now-ex President George W. Bush. I have read some about his relationship with his father and the effect on his political career; but, Stone really put the focus on that in the movie. I know I still feel the sting from some of the words said to me by my father growing up. While I know I will still make mistakes, I pray for and strive for a closer relationship with them so they will at least they will know the real me and how much I truly love them, regardless of how I sometimes fail to show it or say the right things to them. Wow, this blog got heavy didn't it? Time to change the subject!

I got into another free show last night, Toubab Krewe. I was able to get on the guest list for handing out flyers and posters. I guess it worked, there was a big crowd last night at the show and I danced almost the entire first set. It's not really a dance more than a shake and move around. They are a high energy instrumental band that focuses on African instrumentation (mainly from the country of Mali) including kora (21-string harp-lute), kamelengoni (12-string harp-lute),soku (Malian horsehair fiddle). I left after the first set because I had danced enough and the smoke from all of the cigarettes was getting to me. I suppose the club is not in the city limits of Greenville, I can't understand why smoking is still allowed there. Another reason why I love the Handlebar so much better. I should have the full show recording soon and can enjoy the rest of the show from the smoke-free confines of home :-).

Speaking of shows and music. Yesterday was a sad day for music fans in the Southeast. One of the best places to see music suffered a near complete loss. The Georgia Theatre in Athens, Georgia burned. This was a musical second home for me while I was at Clemson. I can't tell you how many shows I saw there; but, I know I experienced my share of music magic in that hall. Widespread Panic in the late 80's and early 90's, Govt Mule, The Radiators, Phish with Giant Country Horns in 1991, and the Derek Trucks Band when they recorded their Live double album there (I can hear myself yelling song requests between tunes on the album). I can remember driving by myself in 2002 to see the Widespread Panic movie right after their guitarist and found member died. It was like a funeral and celebration and a lot of emotion was felt that night. Just a shame that happened. It's as if part of my life just disappeared into ashes. I hope they can rebuild and I look forward to hearing more live music there again in the future. I wore my Ga Theatre shirt proudly last night! Georgia Theatre burns

It's some kind of hot down here in South Carolina this weekend. It was almost 100F yesterday and the temp is showing 100F right now at 7pm on my outside reading. I mowed the full yard and did some weed-eating yesterday. It took a lot of water and laying around after a cool showed before I had the energy for Toubab Krewe, another reason I left during the set break.

On the reading front, I have a new book from the library about Andrew Jackson, written by the editor of Newsweek called American Lion. I look forward to starting that tonight.

Lastly, we went to Miles' Purple Belt graduation today. He has improved so much in his moves and focus. This was by far his best graduation ceremony. It was also special because several new black belts were awarded today. There's a lot of work to obtain that belt, which is traditionally considered the first level of marital arts training. We look forward to Miles getting that far and making a decision on his next level of training.

Well, that's enough for today. Pictures posted below. Have a great weekend and STAY COOL!

See ya!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Work is really moving full speed for me. Nothing like learning everything all over again, right? I have to lead a major demo tomorrow for a new site. I am showing the physician portal to a potential buyer. It's down to us and one other vendor. No pressure there, right? I have been working on the prep work all week and think I'm ready to go. I look forward to Friday and the end of this week.

I am seeing Toubab Krewe here in Greenville on Friday night. On Saturday, Miles gets his Purple belt in Karate. He's now over 1/2 way to his black belt. I have him practicing his balance now, holding one leg up while he watches Sponge Bob. You can't just laze in the chair all day.

My car had some belt troubles yesterday and we had to have it towed to the dealership this morning. Luckily, it's a problem they created and they have it fixed and are even covering the tow ride. Thank you God! Well, Tricia is now home and we have to go get the car from the shop.
My Mom is recovering well and doing good at home with Nurse Amy. I think Susan will be there the rest of the week while Amy works a few nights. Mom is sore but in good spirits.

We are heading out to Ohio on Sunday. Hope to post again before I leave, if not, I will pick up next week as time permits! Oh yeah, it's raining...again!!!

See ya!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mom's Surgery : Good News

Mom is done with surgery and the surgeon thinks the lymph nodes and margins around the area looked very good and were negative for spot testing. We will get the final biopsy results in a few days. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. She is out of recovery and awake and talking (imagine that :-) ). I will be working from Sumter until later today when we are heading back to Greer. I know Keller and Shadow will be happy to see us. See ya!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from the Beach

Wow! I'm letting this blog slip. Not that I haven't wanted to post something here lately. It's been very busy since I took the promotion and Tricia and the boys got out of school.

Last Sunday the boys headed to the beach (Cherry Grove/North Myrtle Beach) with my sister Amy and my Mom. They met up with my other sister, Susan, and her family. Our family rented an old beach house that we have stayed in since I can remember. That old house and the one next two it (we rented both over the years) have some great memories. If those walls could talk... The houses once belonged to the Future Farmers of America (FFA). My Dad had a lot of connections with FFA over the years (he had a PhD in Agricultural Education after all...) and we got a great deal on the rentals. The houses are right on the beach and at the end of the Ocean Drive right before you get to North Carolina/Little River. The boys had so much fun with my family down there this week. Tricia and I had a blast going to see Grace Potter and her band at the Handlebar on Tuesday night. My recording had some issues; but, I know the problem (switch issues and operator error :-) ). Luckily, there was another taper and I should have no problem getting the audio. Check out my pictures here: Grace Potter at The Handlebar. It's always fun to go out to see music with Tricia and not having to worry about the kids is a big PLUS too!

Speaking of the kids...Dylan had some major and minor trauma this week at the beach. While walking with Uncle Dave on Tuesday along the beach, he made the HUGE mistake of picking up a washed-up Man-of-War jellyfish. Can you say "Pain"? It took a great deal of TLC and some vinegar and benadryl to make things right. The life guard told Dylan he handled it better than some men he has helped treat for the stings. Dylan had multiple stings on his hands,arms and legs. It was not a good site according to the eye witnesses. Luckily for us, his aunts and Nana took great care of him and today he doesn't have any signs of the stings. He also learned a valuable lesson about God's creatures, great and small.

Tricia and I left Greer on Wednesday night and spent the night in Home Branch before getting up and driving to the beach on Thursday morning. We went out to eat with the whole family after some fun in the sun. We went over to Ella's in Calabash, N.C. We have always gone to eat seafood in Calabash and there is good reason for that. Although we had to wait and it was hot, we had a great meal with everyone. You can't replace fun times like that. We walked down to the fishing docks and got a nose full of fish and made it back to the cars just in time before a HUGE storm rolled in and let down the rain. We hit the ice cream shop on the way back to the beach house. That was some of the best black cherry ice cream ever made. Period.

Mom and Pete went back to Home Branch after the meal in Calabash. We had the house with Susan and her family. We made a full day out of some putt putt on Friday and all the girls went out shopping in the evening. My brother-in-law Dave and I spent the afternoon with the boys in the surf and watching God's fireworks over the ocean from the back deck. Like I said, you can't replace times like that!

We are back in Home Branch now and will be going to the Johnson Family reunion tomorrow. This is a reunion for all of the children of my great grandparents on my Dad's side. Next year will be the 50th reunion and I will be the president of the reunion committee. I have put together a website at (it's a shell right now and I will be putting more family tree info and pictures on there soon). We are going to church in Pinewood tomorrow and then the reunion. More swimming in Nana's pool after that, I'm sure. We are staying here on Monday because my Mom is having her surgery on Monday. We will drive back home after I finish some work meetings. It will be good to get back home and see how much fun Keller and Shadow have had with Mrs. Linda and Mr. Barry. Well, time to wrap it up over here. I am at my sister's house while she is working. I have her wireless network up and running and her external hard drive ready to go. Life is good now that I can bring my laptop to my folks and be able to work wirelessly!!!!

Couple of cool things before I go:

- Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellancamp are playing in Greenville at the new Heritage Park ampitheatre on Dylan's birthday in July and kids get in free with an adult. It will be a lot of fun for us. Of course, Dylan will have a "real" party later that week with his friends at the movies and a sleep over planned.

-Swimming over to Bird Island (across a small river) with the boys on their rafts was very cool. Although Susan got caught in a little current and was scared a little before she made it over. We had a lot of fun walking around the practically empty island looking for shells and surf treasures. Mom and Nana stayed on the other side and waved. Miles and Dylan thought it was so cool that I could swim and pull their rafts at the same time. I hadn't swam that channel since 9th grade with my buddy David Curlovic. That seems like another life time ago and I am so glad Miles and Dylan got to go over with me. That is something that you can't replace either! Thank you God!

See ya!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Wow! You can see how busy my first "official" week in my new role has me at work. I haven't posted all week. It's been a busy week combining my new position and the last week of school all in one. Glad to have my wife home for two months. Things are always nice in the summer without the hectic schedule and early mornings. I also sleep in on occassions in the summer; hope I can continue that some this summer too. That remains to be seen. Good week at work with a lot of big things just around the corner. Last month's bonus reflected the fact that I was really working in my new role along with covering my previous position some too. Thank you God!

Today we took the boys down to the Peace Center for Stomp. If you have never seen Stomp, then I can highly recommend. It's basically a dance group that uses everything you can imagine from push brooms to zippo lighters to 50 gallon drums to make rhythm and beats. I was very, very entertained. I got the tickets for the family Christmas present way back in October when Dylan and I went to the Sunday show for the Peace Center Bluegrass festival. Nice seats and the boys and Tricia enjoyed it just as much. Worth every cent and I have to say the Peace Center remains one of my favorite venues.

Speaking of shows, Tricia and I are going to catch Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on Tuesday night. The boys will be at the beach with Aunt Amy and my Mom (and Aunt Susan and family too). I got the tickets free thanks to a guy I worked with at Tuomey who's family owns The Handlebar. That was a great favor and I look forward to the show and not having to worry about the boys at the same time. A great date night for us to celebrate SUMMER!!!

Looking forward to church tomorrow as we start the One Prayer series. Cliff and family are at the beach having a great time, I'm sure. We will be watching a video series along with many other churches nationwide for the next few weeks. Talk about connecting God's family! We also have a new worship leader (well, actually, the first "paid" staff member to lead worship at Freedom), Chris Roberts (click for link to his blog). Cliff's wife, Sherry, has been the worship leader since the church started and is now taking a more causal role to spend more time with family (she also homeschools their 2 girls, Emily and Grace). God has some amazing things in store for Freedom and the Greer community and Chris is going to be a big part of it all!

I got a package from Toubab Krewe, a band from Asheville, today. It's full of posters and postcards to promo their show in Greenville later this month. I spread a few around the Peace Center today and at the world's best record store, Horizon Records. They also threw in their latest Live CD as a token of appreciation. How cool! Looking forward to that show too. They are like a blend of Eastern (as in Middle East) acoustic jams mingled with high powered slamgrass. Well, that's the update from the Johnson clan. Know you are Loved, one and all!

See ya!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Wow! I think we woke up this morning to SUMMER. The smell of magnolia is so strong outside here in the foothills, you can almost taste it!

What a sunset I was treated to just now when I went to take back a video to Ingles. The pink and purple-grey sky over the Blue Wall Escarpment was something special God was using today to touch us. What an artist!

Miles made it back to karate today after a week absence. He is going to be working extra hard on balance exercises this summer, or no allowance. His choice of course ;-).

My first day on the "official" product manager position. I felt like I was in 1 meeting the whole day. It will probably benefit me to become accustomed to such a day if I am reading the signals correctly. Hey, it could be much worse. I thank God everyday. The worst day here is ALWAYS better than any of my previous jobs. I feel blessed to have listened to the wisdom of mentors while in the Army. I choose a career that fits me and I really do enjoy what I am doing. Yes, I am pinching myself; but, I also feel like a lot of labor, blood, sweat and tears got me this far too. That makes it feel even better! Thank you God!

A couple of more 1/2 days of school and the Johnson summer will be officially here, regardless of what the magnolias are telling us!

See ya!