Houston Marathon 2012. Ryan’s Story.

We did it!

About 10 months ago my beautiful wife talked me into signing up for our first marathon. We have been distance runners for a long time but stuck with what was comfortable, half-marathons and shorter. So for us this 26.2 was a daunting challenge. Seemed ludicrous. Every time I  thought about running for nearly 4 hours to make this distance, my joints yelled obscenities. We made the commitment, registered, talked some friends and family into doing it with us, were chosen in the lottery to run it and started training.

[Mike, Jordan, Ryan, Traci, Tim, Christy]

Fast forward months of time and plenty of weekend milage and here we are in downtown Houston. 6:45 in the morning, corralled by steal barricades and packed in like cows before slaughter. The weather was perfect for running. Light air, a hint of chill and a slight breeze on occasion. The sun is beginning it’s accent as the atmosphere glows dark blue. I have two dear friends by my side. Two other men with valor only hours to be stricken by our decision to compete here.

Announcements begin from the starting line in front of us as the sound for the speakers bounces down the chutes welcoming the herds of runners to the day’s big event. Minute Maid field to our right, an entrapping 6 foot tall chain-link fence to our left and thousands of other runners ahead and behind. Some encouraging tips were shared by guests of honor along with an inspiring prayer fit for the King. Adrenaline, check.

7:00 am. ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!

We begin the usual shuffle as only one can packed in to a crowd like this, we approach the official starting line and kick it into an actual jog. Our goal, to stay with the 3:30 pace team.

Breathe in, breathe out. Step left, step right. The sounds from a foreign made running shoes on the Houston pavement drowning out the faint chatter around us. The first miles took us up and and down an off ramp into the neighboring industrial area of downtown.

The amount of crowd support is crazy! People are cheering on the curbs and from the porches of their houses throughout the race route. Signs everywhere cheering on specific and non-specific runners. As we run through the streets, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for all involved. Proud of those running, my family and friends and encouraged by those there in support. Motivation. I take it in and store excess for later. Many miles to go. I’m sure I’ll need it.

Mile 4 we are greeted by some familiar voices cheering our names. Smiles are contagious. My stride feels great. The shoes I choose for today’s event, which I debated wearing till the hours prior to the race, felt great. The sun was in full force and the welcomed breeze felt great. Conversations were happy. Time was flying and at this pace, so were we.

At the banner for 13.1 I couldn’t help but think both the positive and negative aspects of that being the half way point. Amazed that it is already half over, amazed that it was only half over. My joints heckling at the latter. I can see exhaustion begin to creep in. The pack is thinning. It was time to turn on my iPod for some distraction.

Mile 19, trouble begins brewing in my calves, as they begin displaying a rare feeling for me. One of tightness that typically ends in a cramp. Mind over matter I step cautiously and with a slightly exaggerated stretching in my stride to offset the onset. I’ve hydrated more than ever for the race and begin to question these pains and who invited them to the party. My peripheral vision begins to pickup on runners to my left and right dropping off in fatigue. The tide is changing.

Mile 20, now at the mercy of my tight beyond experience calves, quads and hamstrings, I walk. Defeated I continue to question “How?” as I take in more water from the water bottle I carry every time I set out for more than 7 miles. I cautiously begin to break out of the walk and into a slight shuffle/jog only to be stricken again with the seizing and intensified cramps. I stop instantly in place and don’t know what to do. I can’t move without something tightening. BLAST! The crowds around me call out my name saying, “Good job Ryan!”, “Hang in there!” and the likes. I hold my head in shame as I wish with all my beating heart I could run. Right now though, my legs are boss. My muscles are displaying their power in my life, and they are mad.

Finally after 2 miles of stop and go defeat I regain my stride, a bit clumsier and broken than preferred but momentum none-the-less. This section of the course feels very different from the first. This one reeks of disgust. The air is filled with some sort of negative and invisible vibe that quiets everyone in my proximity. This thinned out crowd seem to be running with similar shuffles just begging for the finish line.

At this point I see one of the guys I began and ran the first 15 side by side with, my cousin of sorts, Jordan. My rejuvinated pace allows me to catch up and continue at his side. I’ve heard that there is power in numbers and right now I need all the power I can get. I’m ready to check this one off my list. From the looks of those around me, they are too.

Mile 25, with only 1.2 miles ahead my chest joins the list of exhausted body parts with a restriction on my breaths that flowed so smoothly 3 hours before. The focus begins to change. The clouds of exhaustion begin to break up. My leg muscles and connecting joints officially stiff and numb, my mind much of the same.

We turn the corner to see a short distance of only a few hundred yards to the finish line banner. Temporary bleachers filled with cheering spectators flanking each side of this last corridor. I hear noise, people cheering, announcers yelling names but can’t be bothered to listen. To me it’s just white noise now. At this point I am so focused. Focused, yet not sure on what, as dizziness and emotion confuse my thoughts.

At 3 hours and 54 minutes, the 26.2 mile journey comes to a close as we pass over the last chip tracking mat. I press stop on my watch and immediately begin to well up with tears. Tears of exhaustion, determination and success. Flooded with a rush of confusing emotions I walk further from the finish to the group of volunteers placing finisher metals.

The course was great and the day’s conditions were perfect. The experience of the race is hard to explain. As the moments continued to tick, all of our crew made it across safely. Traci and her buddy Christy achieved their goal and finished with smiles. Me, my buddy Mike and my cousin Tim all suffered cramps at some point today that none of us expected. Each of us have our own story to tell and are different, more driven and deeper people because of it.

It was over.

I love half-marathons.

 

My New Life.

I am about to begin a whole new life. One that I’ve only really imagined possible up to this point.

God moves in great ways. I am actually humbled and taken-back that He finds me valuable enough to bless me with the life He has. Seriously. It’s recently brought me to tears when I look back at His ever powerful, ever guiding hand in my life. This change for us is no exception.

I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted a new career with Pearson Education as a Multimedia Course Developer. I will be developing video tutorials and learning resources for the #1 educational eBook publisher in the World. This career will bring about many positives for the Dixon family. I begin on the 19th and am ecstatic about the changes.

Here are just a few of the changes…

My new commute.
My new office space.
My new cafeteria.
My new office building.

I found out about this opportunity about a month ago from my sis-in-law Jen, applied and was granted the opportunity to do some sample work as part of a “test” to check out the candidates. I was asked to build a presentation based on this graphic/script.

Here is my video submission. Click it!

Later I received a call requesting a “get to know you” interview, interviewed and was later offered the position.

I am amazed and once again humbled to be able to take on this role and am so excited about not only the changes for the Dixon family but being able to really utilize my trade skills to a higher level.

  • Audio experience, check.
  • Graphics experience, check.
  • Teaching experience, check.

This is my new life.

World Series Game 4.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend game 4 in Arlington this Sunday night with my little bro-in-law Jeff for his 21st birthday.

The Dixon’s are probably the weirdest most inseparable couple in modern history. Anytime one of us is out with someone else, the other is insanely jealous. Not because we’re jealous in the sense of jealousy, but because we just enjoy each others company and our likes and hobbies are identical. Actually in typing this I’m creeping myself out. All this to say, with Jeff and I attending the game, Traci and the girls decided to join in the festivities and so we made a day point five out of it.

We booked a hotwire.com hotel for the evening so that we would not have to drive back after the game. It is only 2 hours from Arlington back to Tyler but 2 hours at the end of a game and long day is not my favorite way to drive it. Also, any excuse for me to take the day off from work is fine with me. Traci planned to take the girls back to the hotel while we were at the game for girl time including hot tubbing, toe nail painting and jumping on the beds.

We left town Sunday after church and headed to the big D. We arrived around 3 to join up with long time friends Clay and Lauren for some pre-game tailgating. The girls had a blast running a muck as we enjoyed the food, company and the fact that we were actually there at a World Series game. Still excites me to think about being there.

Around 5:30 Jeff and I said bye to the Dixon women and headed in. The best part of walking into Rangers stadium is walking thru the corridor towards the inner field. Stepping out from the tunnel and letting your eyes open up the the vastness of The Ballpark in Arlington. The green grass, the massive amounts of seats, the dirt infield and all this stage’s grandness.

We found our seats and instantly started snapping pics.

After receiving the beating of Game 3 we were nervous for this one. We definitely didn’t want to be at a game like that one. We were very hopeful though especially since the Rangers have been good at not losing 2 in a row as of late. All of the pre-game stuff was great and it was exciting to see all the seats fill up as it got closer. It was time.

Our pitching was superb! And the home run by Napoli was just perfect. I’ve been a Nap fan throughout this season and to be there when he blasted that one was just great. We had a blast and enjoyed literally every pitch and hit as the game continued. The victory was very sweet. Even leaving our seats and heading down the winding ramps, the fans continued to cheer and celebrate this World Series win.

After one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in forever, Traci and I  got the girls and headed to Katy Trail to get in some mileage. Beautiful place. Also in typical fashion, we made it to some of our favorite hot spots in Dallas including the Apple store, Rangers Fan store, In and Out Burger and of course Central Market. What a great getaway. We made it back into Tyler just in time to settle in and get our game faces back on for another Ranger’s victory last night. Cheers to October baseball! Go Rangers!

Inexpressible joy?

1st Peter 1:8-9

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Do I exhibit “inexpressible joy” was a question I posed to myself this morning. Do I?

Saturday night Traci and I attended another Switchfoot concert. Everytime I listen intently to their lyrics or attend one of their concerts, I can’t help but come away with a sense of urgency to truly live life. I know that might seem extreme but it really does. Every album since the beginning of their history is all about motivating people to live a life worth living. It is after all, very short. I left the concert Saturday night wanting to fight the world, save all the orphans and live life without the day to day funk.

I really want to have the joy that Peter mentions in this passage. I really, really do. I want my life to be more “half full”; heck… overflowing right? “My cup runs over” is how I really want it. Obviously life is a grind. Even the book of Ecclesiastes is all about life, the struggle of it and inevitable death.

In reflecting on this verse it spoke to me.

To me the answer to living a life full of inexpressible joy is in the preceding lines.

Peter, whom if you remember did life with Jesus for 3 years and even fellowshipped with Jesus after he rose from the dead says,

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him;

Obviously he is speaking to those who have chosen to embrace the reality of Jesus. People who “see Him through faith”. He says that even though we are not an eye witness of Jesus, His miracles, His love and His realness as Peter did personally, our faith is what produces this “inexpressible joy”; this joy that cannot be robbed by circumstances.

I find it no coincidence that this passage comes from a man who took those steps out of the boat that one night. Peter saw Jesus with his own eyes and stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Him. Then, he lost his focus and began to sink.

I guess my take away and something that I am planning to really focus on this week especially is, “Does my faith in my future life trump the funk in my present”? I want it too. I want my faith, love and trust in Him to pick me up off the floor and live the life worth living. I need to keep my eyes focused on him and my perspective, heavenly.

Don’t you?

Here is the bridge and chorus to “Afterlife” by Switchfoot.

Last night’s simple “date” with Addi.

I tend to be a softy for cheesy daddy/daughter stuff.

I decided a couple years ago that I was going to keep a journal for both Addison and Kamryn that I would one day give them. I have been journaling life updates, messages to them about this and that and just my thoughts about them in general. With the speed of life increasing at the pace it does when you arrive in this phase, I figured it’d allow me to hold onto these precious moments longer. The pause button in a sense. A snapshot of the season of life. Sometimes months go by without me writing anything and I end up playing catchup with sketchy details. I really do need to do better at this.

I wanted to share todays entry; just a simple recap of a little journey to Lowes we had last night. My intent is to encourage other dads of precious girls to date their daughters. You do realize that the daddy is the most influential adult in their life right? You do want her to grow up and fall in love with a man better than you were when you met her mommy, right? We need to take them out, treat them tenderly, show them love, talk sincerely about life and let her know that she is worth our time and efforts. It has been a goal for me to try to do this daddy thing as best as possible. I really do need to do better at this.

10.12.11

You are a doll. The other day at school you were awarded a “prize” for being responsible. It was a card for a free sundae from Dairy Queen. You were thrilled about this award and I told you that I would take you to get your treat. You seemed very excited for another “daddy and Addi” event. I had some things that I needed to pickup from Lowes and figured that we could do that, then head to get your treat from DQ.

In preparation for the adventure you decided that you wanted to wear a dress. I asked why and you answered with sass, “Daddy! For our date!”. You even had mommy give you two braids. Such a beautiful little girl. We left the house, hopped in Poppy’s truck, I buckled you in your seat and we headed down the road. Your face displayed a slight shyness as I could tell you were excited for our “date“. The way your cute cheeks ball up when you smile makes me giddy. I adore these moments. They really do make me feel more complete as a daddy.

One of may favorite things we do when it’s just me and you is to talk about life. Life for you now is mostly school and friends and so that’s the focus of our conversations. We chatted about the test you had yesterday, how you ”oopsed“ an answer and what you did in class that day. I love it. You are quite the chitter chatterer when you get going. The only time this seems to be a problem is at dinner.

We pulled into the parking lot of Lowes, got out and held hands as we walked across the parking lot. We asked our questions to the helpers there, got what we needed and headed for the check out. On the way to the front we did find a few minutes to do some hand in hand twirls and play chase in the appliance section. You’ll never catch me!

We loaded back up and headed to our next destination. Your coupon was for Dairy Queen. I however had a better place in mind and I selfishly proceeded to Andy’s Frozen Custard. They have a pumpkin pie concrete that daddy loves. I showed the boy at the window the picture of the sundae on your DQ card and asked if they could make something that looked like that one.

We got our ”ice cream“ and sat outside on the gray concrete wall, right where you wanted us to. You were so excited as was I. We then enjoyed our frozen treat and chatted more. I asked about the lunch situation at school, who you sat with, do your friends bring their lunches to school, does the school food look tasty, etc. After you finished you asked if you could take off your shoes and run through the green grass patch there in front of the store. ”Sure baby”, I replied as you were already taking them off. You then ran around with abandon feeling the grass blades on your tiny toes, dancing and skipping with an occasional whirl to make your dress “spin”. We played “boo”behind the enormous sign base and giggled as the sky lost it’s light.

On the way home I couldn’t help but hold your tiny hand again. I love this. I am so proud to have you sitting beside me as we drive here and there. You said that you really wanted to play charades when we got home and were concerned that it was too dark outside. You wanted to play this silly guessing game outside like we’ve been doing some since it’s been cooling off in the evenings. As usual I said, “we’ll see”.

As we pulled in the driveway and you climbed across the seat to my side of the truck and I lifted you down. For me, the tall drop off from out of the truck is just another excuse for a hug really. I love spending time with you and told you this directly with, “I love spending time with you Addi“. I really do. As simple as running a couple errands with you is, I always enjoy the one on one company. Oh and by the way, we did play charades on the back porch after your bath.

I really hope that some of these simple moments like these will resonate in you as you grow older. You are precious and deserve the best. I love you. You are a doll.

In the studio with Cody Whittington.


I have had the privilege of working with Cody Whittington for a few years now. Back in our Quitman days, he and I worked countless hours on his recording projects while sipping on countless lattes at our StudioJava.

Recently he has moved off to the wonderland of Austin to pursue a more adventurous life with his beautiful bride. Since that time he has been songwriting and recording new material from his home. About once a month he drives up to spend time with me here in Tyler to work on his soon to release record.

We are about 90% finished with recording, edits and mixing. After that is complete we will work on artwork and duplication.

I am so blessed to get to work with this guy and truly admire his dedication to pursuing his passion for music. Here is a snippet of a song we recorded this summer. Enjoy.

Need You To Notice [Sample] – Cody Whittington 2011

Our TV Star.

Traci is our family photographer and has done a terrific job capturing priceless moments since the birth of our girls.

Last Monday, Addi’s first day of school, she snapped a few of her adorning her stylish new school clothes and genuine smile. Our local ABC TV affiliate, KLTV was asking for first day of school photos of local kiddos. Apparently they receive hundreds of pictures of tiny tots ready for their first day of school. Our tiny tot was featured on their news story. As a proud dad, I couldn’t agree more with our friend Joe. Addi definitely is “Golden”.

Bounce Your Eyes.

Lust is a big deal! Temptation is EVERYWHERE, especially for men. I have had recent conversations with friends and family about this very topic. Seems as though it’s an attack on all sides. You can’t even scroll down news sites without topics of sex and pictures that promote sexual thoughts or activities from hitting your eyes.

There are plenty of sexually attractive women in our world. Many great men have been beaten into submission and entrapment with lust in the way of pornography, addictions and improper relationships. Most of these have lost friends, careers and even their precious families as a result of not keeping this built-in weakness/susceptibility in check. As anyone who has struggled in any area of sexual lust and temptation would tell you, it all started with a glance.

A handful of years ago, we took our FUSION youth group to a conference in Dallas. One of the main topics of the weekend was sexual purity and why it’s important to your integrity, your future spouse and honoring to our Creator. One of the speakers mentioned that the best way to snuff out visually stimulated lust was to “bounce your eyes” from the attraction before it took root in your thoughts which then usually leads to action.

Practical application being when you see an image (still or in motion) that sparks that sexual nerve, you literally make it a practice to look away while stopping sexual thoughts and redirecting them on something else. Paul gives this great list of things for re-focus in Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From media to college campuses to the corporate world there is no place immune to the reality of temptation. Actually while perusing around the post run tents Sunday after the 2 Hot 2 run 15K, an attractive, breast-pressed, provocatively dressed 20 year old was passing out samples of AXE hair gel to men. Another one of those, “sex sells” marketing campaign that we see so often. Unfortunately for us men, it can be crippling and even works..

God created us to be sexual beings. For us to be attracted to attractive women is not a problem nor a sin. God created us with this attraction and desire… AND a remedy to the desire by way of His design in marriage. The problem isn’t when we are visually stimulated but when that “glance” provokes lustful thinking and that hunger then fed with thoughts or actions.

So, all this to say I have been practicing the “bounce your eyes” concept for years now and it really does help. It seems as though I have actually had a lot of opportunities recently to strengthen my eye muscles! Not that I am perfect, but practice and prayer are our best allies. A destroyed testimony and marriage is victory for our enemy. My encouragement is to add this habit to your arsenal like I have to help fight this battle. Your integrity depends on it. Your God, family and your wife are worth it!

Love Has Spoken. Grace Worship LIVE.

This February our church’s worship band, Jon Jenz and Friends, were set to record a live album. We really enjoy our church and these guys are just one of the reasons why. Every week a team of professional quality volunteers come together to practice and lead Grace Community Church in worship. A Thursday night was set on the calendar and all the people and pieces were in place for this live event. The house was packed and the night was fabulous. What a great evening and event.

When we moved to Tyler a couple years ago, I contacted the technical crew to see if they needed any help running sound on Sundays. They were, of course, excited about another possible addition to their volunteer tech crew. Since then, I have been on a steady 2-3 Sundays a month rotation. This has been a bitter sweet gig for me in that I really enjoy helping out with audio but the 7:30am-12:30pm Sunday chunk of time required for this role is prime time for family activities, namely sleeping in and long, drawn out breakfasts. Non-the-less, I am happy to be an extension of this great team of musicians and singers. God has been teaching me to serve Him in this capacity with a selfless, servant’s heart each Sunday I’m at the helm.

When hearing about this upcoming live recording project, I expressed interest in mixing the tracks once they were recorded. I have been blessed to be able to work on a few multitrack projects here in East Texas and plenty of opportunities in the live audio/video field back in Lubbock. Recording is fun but mixing the recording is my favorite. After the night of worship, I received the 30-some-odd tracks and began to pick it apart, one element at a time.

Mixing the the process- where you take each recorded element (ie. bass drum, snare drum, tom 1, tom 2, tom 3, cymbal mics, etcetera, etcetera,) and “mix” them or combine them to a final stereo audio file that gets pressed on a CD or uploaded to for ears to consume. After some edits, general mixing and meeting with Jon, we continued to chip away at the project. Moving houses and therefore studio space was thrown into the set deadline but we “set our face like flint” and pressed on. It’s literally a chipping away with large projects like this. By large I mean: full drum kit, percussion, baby grand piano, keyboard, 2 electric guitars, bass, acoustic guitar,  7 vocalists and  2 audience mics. That many elements with full frequency ranges and dynamics out the wazoo, it  is quite a task to chizzle out a little piece of the frequency spectrum for everyone to be heard.

I begin attacking a project like this by labeling, listening, getting a general volume balance, separating the elements in the stereo field based on stage location that night, doing some corrective EQ, some mild compression to help tame the dynamic vocals in particular and then repeat. I spent about 1-2 weeks on this phase. For this project we added in some minor vocal tuning as well which is no easy task phrase by phrase, one vocalist at a time for 12 songs. This took another week or 2. From that point I continued to work on the mix and make some edits to clear up mic bleed and random, useless ambient noise in the tracks and during transitions.

Jon joined me when we were ready to get picky with the mixes. We listened to each song, he took notes, we made changes, adjusted, then proceeded with the next. We had a great time of fellowship doing this and the tracks really started to take shape. It is so valuable to have someone on the project with ears like Jenz and his dedication to the project was greatly appreciated. This fellowship and technical babble is always my favorite part of the process.  It also makes me feel more sane knowing that other people are as particular about this as I am!

After we worked on this colaborative mix sessions, I continued to work alone for about a week making it all fit together as best I could. I would make a disc, get it to Jon, he would critique, I would tweak, get him another disc, tweak, and so on for about another week. After that, it was time to work on the master disc.

The mastering process is used to adjust the overall EQ and loudness for the project as a whole. This song order and song transitions are a mastering engineers main responsibilities. Typically on bigger budget projects this is sent off-site to a mastering engineer who specializes in this phase of the project. In effort to save some money and time, I insistently yet sheepishly took on the task. We ended up creating 4 masters, each slightly different than the other. Mostly the differences between them was midrange balance up and down. This is the frequency range where vocals, electric guitars, the snare drum, acoustic guitars, keyboards and piano reside. This is also the range where human ears are most sensitive. Overdriving this range causes ear fatigue. Under driving this causes intelligability and loss of vocal detail. Tricky, very, very tricky.

Anyways, we decided on “master D” and it was off to be duplicated. After 1.5 weeks they arrived. This Thursday night we attended the listening party with the band and those involved with the production of the project. Graphic designers, the audio team and the band were gathered in anticipation for the unveiling of the long awaited release and the cue to press play on the CD player. I was nervous. Every stink’n sound system and room in the world sounds different and therefore every time I hear a project that I am intimate with on a different sound system, I can’t help but critique and question EVERYTHING I DID IN THE MIX!

After I stopped pacing like a rabid dog, I took a chance to take it all in. It was so neat to see the reactions of those gathered there Thursday night. You could see how people were nervous when they knew “their” song was up next, when “their” solo was about to take flight and how “their” album would be received by friends and family. Very neat indeed. Smiles are contagious.

It has been a great blessing for me to work on this project. It has allowed me to accomplish another piece of my new years resolution. Spoken as any mix engineer, sure there are a few things that I would like to change but now it’s over, too late, pressed into 1000 shiny CDs, wrapped in plastic awaiting a new home. All in all, I am confident that it is a great success and a good representaion of how our worship band sounds each Sunday. Great musicianship, quality singers and genuine love for our Creator and Savior. A lot of confident humility is allowed for those involved in this one. It is available on iTunes and is worth a listen. There are some magical moments on this album. Check it out!

Addi’s Pre-school Graduation.

Ah, the end of the school year. Feelings of accomplishment, joy and relief as you close the page on another chapter of life. Those memories bring a sense of peace and nostalgic gratitude now that school is oh so long behind me. Summer. Sleeping in. Pools. Discover Zone with my little bro every day. HOORAY to the end of the school year!

This Tuesday my first born baby participated in her first official graduation. Chalk it up! Pre-school… done.

In February, as do most eager parents, Traci and I toured the school Addison will soon be attending Kindergarten. Walked through the large cavernous halls, heard the standard surface level and over rehearsed welcome lines and even peered into a few colorful classrooms. After leaving the elementary school Traci expressed her fear in how that her baby (mine if she’s acting tooty) is going to be so little inside the huge school. It is indeed crazy how fast your kids grow up and the thought of them attending a “real” school often overwhelming and frightening. Is her teacher nice? What are you gonna do if someone pushes my girl? Is she really gonna climb that many stairs? etcetera.

Addison had been talking up the day she would graduate from her class as does any student anticipating the next chapter of life. She would come home from class talking (non-stop and also not unusual) about the songs she was going to sing for us in the ceremony. She also asked us multiple times if we would be proud of her and pointed the question of “Are you gonna cry?” to Traci, to which she responded “Probably!”

Tuesday we had it all planned out. I was going to take a super long lunch, meet Traci, Grandma, Memaw and Jen at the school for the 12 o’clock commencement exercise. Upon arrival we crowded into a little picket fence corral and awkwardly awaited the start. The announcement was given that we were going to wait till all family members who were planning to be there arrived before they would let the kiddos loose. A few times the question was asked “Is every family member here?” to which Traci and I looked at each other with sadness knowing how much all of us wished Poppy was in attendance with us that day. Once all family members arrived the tiny, insufficient CD player was cued and the march to the customary Pomp & Circumstance began.

Down the hall behind us trotted about 15 little munchkins adorning frog shaped baseball caps and custom, craft-time created t-shirts. My eldest offspring, one of the last in line, made it to her assigned mark on the floor and then made eye contact with the front row filled with her adoring fans both parties excited for this occasion.

With a smile produced by proud yet shy emotions, Addi’s, Traci’s and even my eyes began to tear up.  Addi even had to use her paint blotted t-shirt to dry her cheeks. So precious. The school owner was addressing the audience with a speech of thankfulness for us lending them our children. Her voice became more and more distant as I felt the same of how God has lent this little one to us. We exchanged a ton of smiles and even a few small waves throughout the introduction.

The service continued with a couple cute songs with motions, obviously to reassure all attending parents that their dollars went to more than play time and Dora. Songs about numbers, phonics, and just plain silly songs made the playlist. Many children mumbled along, some sang in great participation and one decided he’d rather throw his frog hat around the staging area guaranteeing him some “time-out when we get home.” Of course our eyes and ears were focused on our little porcelin doll as she was on it! Every word. SPOT ON! Every motion. SPOT ON! Proud indeed.

Moving on through the ceremony it was diploma time. The class teacher (our’s being the sweet Ms. Heidi) would call the student to come forward and step up onto a bathroom stool for all to see. Addi’s name was called and she walked into place, climbed the tiny step stool and was handed her diploma. With this, Ms. Heidi read the diploma which asked the question of what they wanted to be when they grow up. “When Addison grows up, she wants to be a runner.”, Ms. Heidi said with her perfect teacher inflection. Addi’s semi posed smile remained. Precious.

After the 64 song ceremony, everyone hugged their kiddos and took pics to freeze yet another memory in time. I had picked up a single rose on the way to the school to give to her. After a hug I proceeded to give it to her to which she responded, “Daddy, oh wow! Why is the stem so long? We are going to need to cut it. Oh Wow. It’s beautiful.” all in her typical one breath complete and over-compounded sentence. [gee, i wonder where she gets that from] We took some pics, the girls drank some punch and ate a cookie and then we headed out the door to our next destination. A celebratory Chuy’s lunch was in order.

While sitting there at lunch that day I couldn’t help but think of the days we were still awaiting little Addi’s arrival and one specific memory came to mind. When Traci and I told her parents that they were going to be grandparents I remember receiving a call from Traci’s dad that day telling me that they were on there way that night to have some “celebratory nachos” at their Quitman Mexican restaurant. Ironically over 5 years later, in honor of my special little girl’s pre-shool graduation, another passage in her tiny life, we had celebratory nachos.

The next chapter begins for her early this fall. With this new challenge she will face uncertainty, fear and ultimately a chance to grow. She looks to us for guidance. She looks for us for strength. Her little blue eyes are attentively focused on how we live and who we really are, how we face our very own challenges. She looks to us to show her value and to model what she wants to be. Her ideology of a husband and a father are based on me and my leadership. What an daunting and delightful responsibility. I am so thankful for who she is, what she has already learned and how she has grown. Thank you God for lending her to us.

Sincerely-

One wreck of a daddy.

High 5 To The Sky 5K.

Dear family & friends,

We would like to invite you all to join us on June 11th for the High 5 to the Sky 5K. This Fun Run/Walk is in memory of my dad, Kip Clark, who passed away June of last year. He was a runner, a lover of life, a true friend, and an inspiration to many. He loved the Mineola Nature Trail, so we felt this would be a proper setting for this 5K. The race is a special tribute and celebration of his life!

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Project 7: Quench the Thirsty, a charity that works to provide clean water for children all over the globe to help prevent sickness and disease. You can read more about this awesome organization and the work they do at www.project7.com.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

What: High 5 To The Sky 5K. Fun run & walk. All ages.

When: 06/11/11. Packet pickup and race day registration from 8:00-8:20 am. Race begins @ 8:30 am.

Where: Mineola Nature Trail.

Why: To celebrate the life of Kip Clark and raise $ for Project 7.

Cost: $15 includes t-shirt and donation to Project 7.

Registration: Registration form and entry fee must be received by mail before 05/28/11 in order to be guaranteed a shirt. Late registration available race day during packet pickup time. No shirt guaranteed for late registration.

Questions: Email tracidixon@mac.com

Something’s Brewing.

04/08/11

Reading as a child or even throughout all my schooling was not a desire AT ALL! Actually in my english classes or really any class that required me to read a story or book, I didn’t. I did my best to make my grades balance towards the positive by doing really well on the other aspects of the class so that me totally bombing the reading assignment wouldn’t hurt too bad. HA! Today is a different story though. There is a lot on my brain these days as I have been reading more than I ever have imagined.

I have learned that if I am really interested in the subject, I can read it. If it’s just a fictional book or something random, I just can’t muster up enough attention to consume it. These days my eyes feed on as much of these two deeply intriguing topics as possible. Books about Missional Living for Christ and Homebrewing. Books about doing something. To read and not apply or really gain anything is just kind of foolish, a waste of time. So now I continue to ask, “What am I to do with this knowledge?” Proverbs 8 is all about how we should seek wisdom as it is of extreme value. Therfore I diligently seek wisdom.

05/05/10

Interestingly enough, I began this post less than one month ago not knowing wether to post it or not, it sat in my “draft” column. Since then some crazy opportunities have begun to develop. Some seriously awesome things and wonderfully orchestrated communication. Stay tuned!

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 4. Diffusion.

If you walk into a room, clap you hands and hear “ta-da-da-da” after the initial clap, what you are hearing is the delayed reflections arriving from the surrounding surfaces. These sometimes tiny short reflections are called “flutter echos”. These reflections are problematic in that they often cause frequency specific phase shifting and colorations that are not sought after in recording or good listening spaces. These reflections can be tamed with absorption materials or diffusors.

DIFFUSION

Diffusion is the process if scattering. Sound diffusors are hard devices that diffuse or scatter reflections in a different direction or in a different time than if unaltered. Scattering into a different direction makes sense because it interrupts the ping-pong like reflections between parallel surfaces. Delaying the reflections is helpful because it smooths out the delays into more of a unperceived short reverb and analogous sound. These time variances are generally very minute, typically only a difference of nano or milli-seconds. Once again these come in various forms and sizes and can also be designed with a little bit of ingenuity. Here is a pro studio with some major diffusion in the control room.

COMMON EXAMPLES

A simple example of a diffusor is a book shelf stocked with books of varying depths. These varying depths allow an uneven surface that allows the sound hitting them to return not only in different directions but subtle time differences as well. Log cabin style walls are also diffusive due to their rounded shapes.

PLACEMENT

In my space I use absorption toward the back of my room to control reflections and diffusors at the front of my space, Specifically in the mix’s sweet spot. (The sweet spot is where you ears and the monitor speakers form to make a perfect, ear-height equilateral triangle.) Diffusors between the monitors and my ears help scatter any reflections away and out of time from the direct sound from the speakers themselves. You really cannot go wrong on placement of diffusers. A diffusive ceiling is great to help breakup the floor to ceiling reflections. The rear wall in a control room is another great place.

DO IT YOURSELF

The gray diffusors shown below were built with a 2 foot by 2 foot frame out of 1″ thick styrofoam. I used a yard stick to mark the various “depths” then cut them with a blade. Once cut, I used liquid nails to glue the pieces together and then fit them into the 1″ by 6″ wooden frame. I then used gobs of wall pain and a brush to make them look decent. Here they are hanging and alternating with absorption panels at a former location.

Behind my secondary monitor, you can see that there are two wooden diffusors. These were built with the help of my awesome father-in-law one day while “playing” in his shop. The idea behind the designs was to “confuse the heck out of any sound that hit them.” We had a great time joking about and designing them. Each 2 foot by 2 foot frame houses 10 narrow compartments. The bottom one is more of the varying depths idea and the top one is lots of wooden slats placed on angles with air gaps between them. I have them placed in front of my mix position to break up any reflections from the front wall and simply because they are just plain awesome. I love and miss you Kip Clark!

FINAL WORDS

Once again I want to say that it’s a matter of balance. A good blend of isolation, absorption and diffusion is what it takes to make a great recording space. Enjoy. Worship your Creator.

Daddy/Daughter Campout.

Last Friday night I set out on my first camping adventure with my baby girls. My good buddy Mike was able to secure some land for our day point five campout about 20 minutes North East of Tyler. This is a great spot due to the proximity and the available camping amenities. About a month ago Mike was mentioning an upcoming father son campout to which I butted in and proposed the question “Daddy/Daughter”? “Of course!” was his reply. Sweet action! The Dixon’s were in.

I LOVE camping and any excuse to do more of it is perfectly fine with me. Since the birth of our children I have always desired to establish an at minimum annual camping trip with them. Being only 3 and 4 now, I was a little concerned that my hands would be too full taking both Addison and Kamryn. I was told that if I took one girl, I had to take both. Understandingly I agreed that was going have to be the plan. Challenges are good, right?

As the days approached I started putting out feeler statements like, “Who wants to go camping with daddy in a tent”?! to which Addi with her typical inhaling “Huuuuuhh!” continued her response with “I DO!” Kamryn however was skeptical as expected. She LOVES her mommy and the thought of mommy not being there took some convincing. That’s when the mention of Twizzlers, shelled peanuts, fruit snacks, and cuddling were thrown into the bargain. The chip that sealed the deal though was the statement about riding there in daddy’s truck. They adore riding side by side with me in Kip’s single cab pick-up.

With everything I could think of taking to occupy the “down time” that camping desperately beckons, I made sure to pack paper and crayons, comfort blankies, kites and snacks out the waa-zoo. Some how in my plea with Traci not to pack too much girly stuff, Addi and Kam’s clothes still happened to get packed into princess backpacks alongside their pillow-pets. Lovely! I’m in for it.

We excessively packed everything a week long camping trip would require, loaded it into the truck and set off towards our destination for the night. On the way I discussed what to expect when camping. I told them that camping was all about “Chill’n in God’s creation.” Actually I made them repeat that by posing the followup question, “Girls, what’s camping all about?”. “Chill’n in God’s creation.” was the nearly in sync reply from the two tiny angles to my right. “That’s right!” I closed the statement specifically for the oldest of the two angels who has some difficulty with “chill’n” as you could put it for this intense and overly questioning, 4 year old teenager.

In excitement we were some of the first to arrive. We traveled down the green grass field road on the property to the small fishing pond over the hill. This is where the festivities would be held. Beautiful. We met another father and his son and chatted about where we should setup our tent for the night. We found a semi-flat area and started working. The girls insisted on helping and I insisted to not prohibit their “helping”. We tacked the tent to the ground with its stakes, slid the fiberglass poles into the proper sleeves and then lifted the poles into place as the random formless tarps became a tent. Squeals and the joyous comment “Huuuuh, IT”S SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!” was exclaimed. Awesomeness.

We proceed to fill our house for the night with our gear. We built a pallet out of some old comforters and sleeping bags, rolled out their adult sized mummy sleeping bags and then topped them with their favorite blankets and pillow-pets. I laid out my mat and bag right next to theirs and smiled in wonder as to what night-time would  bring.

Burgers and hotdogs were on the fire. All the participating dads and their sons had arrived and setup camp. Dinner was served, we ate the smoked saturated goodness and then decided to take a walk around the pond while there was still light. When we got to the other side we walked into a huge field of weeds/wildflowers. Addi and Kam frolicked about in the field. They were seriously yelling, “It’s SO BEAUTIFUL!” and “Oh WOW!” as they skipped through the weeds. Reminding me that the simple positive side of things is what is most important. Usually on strolls through our neighborhood we are posed the question, “Can I pick one of those?” to which we always reply, “Those aren’t our flowers. We can’t pick other people’s flowers.” This evening however, these were THEIR flowers. Ripened for the harvest and bloomed for their happiness. They were in what their tiny minds conceive as Heaven. I watched with gladness and a heart full of joy, a taste of what I perceive as Heaven.

We headed back to our campsite, set our camping chairs around the refueled campfire and awaited s’more time. As the other groups were still out exploring we decided to take another shorter walk now that it was getting dark. With their new special camping flashlights in hand, my little chicks followed me around the pond again. This time we couldn’t help but notice the night time beauty. The sky was clear as the 90 percent full moon began to take over the duty of illumination. “It’s sparkly and beautiful!” Addi stated in seeing the moons reflection on the slightly ripped waters of the pond. In returning with the other families, we made the customary campout dessert then headed off to bed. Before that though we had to “go potty” and brush teeth.

Fortunately for us there was a “cabin” on this property available for just that. Unfortunately I have 2 girls under my wing for this campout and every time they need to “go potty” we had to load up in the truck and drive up the hill to this house. I’m sure all in all we made about 6 trips there in the short span of time we were there. This house was the typical late 70’s house that has been stuffed with old hand-me down beds, tvs, that “old piano that we can’t figure out what to do with” and cookware specific for the weekend getaways and guest lodging that takes place here. The girls found this house a bit creepy at night, so did I. Usually we went straight in, did what we were there for, then scurried back to the truck. Adorning one of the wood planked walls was an old western, sepia colored saloon-like photo with some old cowboys holding rifles. The question was asked if those were the people who lived in the house. Another question was if this house was where the 3 little pigs lived. I couldn’t help but answer yes to that one.

We drove back to our tent, changed into out p.j.’s and got the girls snuggled into their sleeping bags which easily swallowed up their tiny, delicate bodies. All you could see was their sweet little round faces poking out from the top. Super cute. With a couple tight squeezes and more kisses than usual, we closed the day as in ritual with prayer and the “Barney song”. I laid down, slid into my bag and then the questions really started. They usually request to “iChat for a few minutes” at home and I knew with this new experience it would take a while for them to feel as ease and fall asleep. A few minutes of chatting and we were all fast asleep in our “beautiful” tent.

The next morning I woke to smiling girls, the sunrise, 40 degree temperatures and a nauseating headache. We took our customary morning trip to the potty and began to prepare breakfast for the group. Kam and Addi both held their share of fishing poles and even got a bit muddy. After breakfast we drove around to discover more of the vast property and the other ponds. I even talked chicken little (Addi) into crossing over a 2 by 12 board “bridge”. Next we broke out the Barbie kites and played more in the flower filled field. Beautiful day but as the minutes increased, so did the intensity of my headache. We quickly broke down our tent, threw our equipment and unrolled sleeping bags into the bed of the truck, said some quick good byes and headed home to rest.

Asking the girls what their favorite part of their first camping trip was Addi said “sleeping” and “throwing rocks into the lake”. Kamryn answered, “Going potty in the 3 little pigs house.” All in all this was a great first camping experience. I was honestly quite skeptical going into the weekend with Kamryn’s non-committal answer and the thought of these princesses enjoying the art of “chill’n in God’s creation.” They LOVED it and so did I. I am so excited to be able to continue what we’ve only just begun with this new adventure. I am a very proud daddy of the two cutest little campers around.

Another Amazing Provision.

I am always amazed at how God does His thing. Seriously amazed. Here’s the latest.

  • Last September we are invited to an open house for our friend Sarah which coincided with a welcome home party for her next door neighbor who returning from mission in the Air Force.
  • We toured the neighbors house and fell in love with it. We LOVE older houses with character. This one even had a great space for a studio. A dream. Twice the size of the one we are in now. Unfortunately it was occupied and way too much $ for us. No biggie. We are thankful.
  • Last year we were blessed to be able to pay off our Honda Accord and lighten our financial out-go significantly. We are SO thankful to get our head above water.
  • In March and in effort to pay off additional debt we acquire Kip’s old truck and list the Accord on craigslist. Within 1 week it sells for what we were hoping for. Super easy deal and transaction. Our plan was to pay off 1 former business credit card with the money from the Accord. Last minute Traci had an intuition that we should pay off our mini van instead and put the leftover $ into savings. We did just that.
  • This year we have been growing concerned and unsettled about our current house and the length of the time we can live there. Early April we received word that the owners might possibly be moving back into it this fall so we immediately start looking for a life raft. We determined not to stress over this as we know we are in His hands.
  • We noticed that the house we toured and fell in love with last fall was now vacant and offered for less money than before. Also the deposit was 1/3 the price than was originally stated. We looked into the house and met with the owners. They felt led to give us a price lower than listed.
  • We sought the guidance of the Counselor and sealed the deal with a deposit equal to the extra money saved after paying off our mini van.
  • Today we are starting to clean the house and tomorrow we will begin moving one truck load at a time into our new 1927 house and studio with Kip’s old truck.

Better yet, as I’m sure you’ve noticed in keeping up with us, we feel more and more lead to live a life of purposeful adventure. This downtown house provides just that. Ministry opportunity abounds to the surrounding neighborhoods. A legit studio with outside access and guest suite will be better to serve. I am already acquiring projects that were non-existant 2 weeks ago. And with our friend Sarah living next-door, we even have a built in neighbor-nanny! The list goes on.

I told Traci this is yet another too good to be true happenstance that He has provide. There is something WAY bigger than ourselves developing here. He has pointed us directly to this specific space for something very specific. Now I ponder in excitement, “What’s next“? Many may discredit even this chain of events as just luck or coincidence. I arguably disagree and am humbled by His leading.

To God be the glory. Great things He hath done. Again, and again, and again…

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 3. Absorption.

Whether you are recording an acoustic guitar with a quality microphone or you are listening to music in your favorite seat, reflections are at play. These reflections can be pleasing (reverb) but can also be problematic (short delays). As sound waves interact physically, they are also changing physically. Fundamentals and harmonics are doing all kinds of higher-ED math as they collide. These physical anomalies cause “cloudy” phasing issues, namely comb-filtering and the spots within the room that have frequency excess and deficiencies I spoke of in pervious posts. Most of these interactions whether direct (straight from the sound source) or indirect (reflected), alter our perceived clarity, smearing their clean, original tones. In order to clear up the studio or listening space, these reflections should be either reduced (absorbed) or scattered into different directions (diffused).

ABSORPTION

Absorption can be likened to “friction for sound” in that absorptive materials impede the sound from being reflected. All materials have some absorptive quality. The calculations for Absorption coefficients and Noise Reduction Coefficients are very sciencey. These technical specs are determined by the makeup, mass and thickness of a surface and are frequency dependent. The simplest way of understanding this is knowing that the thickness of the material is generally related to the wavelength of the frequency. Meaning, the thicker the material, the lower the frequency that can be absorbed. Higher frequencies, since their wavelength’s are shorter, are absorbed easier than the lower. More on this later. Typically thick, porous, soft materials are great for absorption. Closets full of clothes, carpets, plush-cloth-couches and thick curtains are examples of common absorptive surfaces. Here is a picture of a portion of our old coffee shop/studio. Notice the decorations.. ahem, the absorption materials?

When it comes to sound absorbing materials, there are many commercial products available to help reduce reflections. Google it! Many of these work very well but they also can be very expensive. As you may know, I am kind of a DIY’er and for a DIYer, some of the best options for absorption can be items designed for use in construction. Rigid compressed fiberglass and other insulation materials can work wonders. I’ve had success using 2″ thick, 4 foot by 10 foot sheets of compressed fiber to line walls and doors. I have a good buddy who works in the HVAC industry and has been able to supply me with some of these materials at cost. One of my favorite products is a “green” solution to insulation made of recycled denim and cotton. This stuff is amazing and itch free. I’ve used it in 2 foot by 4 foot wooden frames as absorption panels. When designing Amusement Park Studios in Lubbock, we wanted to eliminate as much floor to ceiling reflection as possible in this rented, low-drop-ceiling building. The whole ceiling received this treatment as shown in this photo. The panels shown also house this material.

For the most part, 2″ to 4″ thick sound absorbing materials are very effective at controlling mid and high frequencies. Frequencies below 500Hz are the hardest to control due to their wavelengths. Remember: wavelength is determined by the speed of sound/frequency. (ex. 1130/100Hz= 11.3 foot wavelength). Bass frequencies tend to build up at walls, ceilings and floors. “Cornering” absorption materials or spacing them a few inches off from the wall to create an “air gap” helps effectively increase their thickness. [An example of this is displayed in the pic above located in the right corner.] Thicker materials or those purposfully engineered to battle these low frequencies can me employed to get the job done as well. These tools are commonly referred to as “bass traps”.

BASS TRAPS

Bass traps are absorbers with thicker design to help battle low frequency reflections. Used to help control inherent and active low frequency issues within a space, these can come in various forms. Following the same concepts of absorption these are usually placed in corners where the build up is greatest. Sometimes this can tamed with a large amount of foam or insulation materials in the corner. One of the cooler options (IMO) are resonant absorbers called “tube traps”. The ones I built for my space are a version of some that we built for the studios during my time teaching audio courses at South Plains College in Levelland Texas.

These “tube traps” are designed to resonate in response to lower frequencies (bass) creating a “vacuum” for these large waveforms. They are about 15 inches in diameter and 6 foot tall. The front side being absorptive is positioned in and the back semi-reflective (diffusive) side is turned outside. These are effective down below 100Hz and I have 11 of them. Here’s how I built these if you’re interested. Here is pic of what they look like. The gray ones.

PLACEMENT
Placement of absorbing materials can be just as important as having them in place. In my current space I have lots of absorption (tube traps) in the rear of my studio to reduce any reflections off the back wall. This way my brain is not any more confused than usual by rear reflections when mixing. This section of my room is where most recording take place as well. I can use my traps to encompass the musician and control these pesky reflections. Other great places for absorption materials are left and right of mix position (on the walls between you and your monitor speakers) as well as the ceiling above you to take on early reflections.
While controlling these reflections is important it is also good to remember that you want a space that sounds real. Back in the 80’s the idea with many commercial studios was to tame ALL reflective surfaces. This created the foam overkill revolution. In hindsight this was not the best idea. The key to good acoustics in a studio or listening space is to have a “controlled” room. Moderation. A controlled room is one that handles problematic reflections with a healthy balance of absorption and diffusion.

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 3.2 Absorption. Ryan’s TUBE TRAPS.

The inside diameter of these tube traps is 12″. The outside diameter is close to 15″. The width of the fiberglass is 1″. They come in 3 foot sections and must be purchased from an insulation distributer; a company that sells to contract HVAC companies. It’s pipe insulation and it’s compressed fiberglass covered in a paper wrap. You can use any diameter. As you know, the lower the Hz the longer the waveform. The bigger the ID the lower the frequency absorption capabilities of your tube traps. There is a good deal of science involved!

I got a 4 foot by 8 foot, 2″ thick styrofoam sheet from Lowes to make the inset “sandwiches” and internal support pieces. You will need 4 per tube trap. 1 for top, 1 for bottom and 2 glued for the middle connection point “sandwich”. These are roughly the circular size of the ID. Get a box of general construction liquid nails for all gluing.

You will open the paper that covers the pipe insulation and glue the seam closed. The resealable paper is helpful to close this up as the glue dries.
Once all 3 foot pieces are glued and dry, glue the middle support styro pieces together. These support “sandwiches” are used to join the 3 foot sections of pipe. Add glue to the inside of the bottom pipe where this support will go. Poke long nails into the sides of this so that it won’t slip down into the bottom section when the glue is still wet. 5 spaced, removable nails work great.
Once all has dried, remove the support nails and add glue to the top edge of bottom pipe section and the styro sandwich where the top pipe section will join. Add the top section of pipe. Allow to dry. Now you have a 6 foot section of pipe. DO NOT glue the top and bottom “caps” on yet. I then used a razor blade to cut the insulation’s paper “jacket” length-ways top to botton creating essentially a half jacket for the trap. This creates a side (back) that is more diffusive and one side (front) that is more absorptive. Use masking tape to keep this jacket in place as it will be flappy or even fall off without the tape. Tape it lengthwise to hold the jacket seam tot he compressed fiber.

Covering the tube trap is another beast in of itself. The fabric that I used is Guilford of Maine fabric which is acoustically transparent. There are many colors available. You will need about 8 foot lengths of material per trap. You will need to use a fabric measuring tape to measure the finished outside diameter for the tube trap. Measure and tack your material adding about .75 inch for slack as you will be sliding this over the tube like a sock and will need some wiggle room. Have somone who knows how to sew, sew your “sock”.

Cut off the access material with about 6 inches of excess beyond the seam. Turn it inside out and inch your sock down the tube trap. Once you have reached the end keep going until you have about 1 foot of excess material top and bottom. Fold this excess material into the top and bottom of the tube and add glue to the inside of the pipe, on the material. Then add the end caps. Allow to dry.
Curious as to what frequencies your tube traps will be effect to? There are calculation  you can do to find this info. Easier than that though is to gently drum on the sealed and finished sections of the trap. The resonant frequency your hear if the fundamental Hz of your trap. This is the lowest frequency your trap is most effective absorbing. Enjoy!

This Week’s Quiet Miles.

Running in the Spring is amazing. Despite the air filled with breath-restricting pollen that is. This week’s running has been exceptionally good for me on so many levels.

For about a month now, Traci and I have been on a mission to get up earlier than normal with the intention to have about 1 hour each morning to seek our Creator. We roll out of bed, tip-toe our way to the coffee, separate and do some light stretching, push-ups and sit-ups to wake-up. From there it’s time to engage with the His written words. I do this routine specifically on the days I am not scheduled to run.

For a long time now I have enjoyed listening to podcasts during my miles. In talking to my ‘boys’, I often speak of how valuable these messages are to me, especially in combination with the milage that accompanies them. It really is an extension of my quiet time. Usually a Carter/Chandler message lasts about 45-55 minutes. Perfect for my new 7 mile route. Podcasts allow me to focus on the message and grow numb to the steps. A quiet time listening and absorbing His words.

This week I decided to pick up the miles and run consecutively, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each morning, I laced up and headed out the door with my usual must haves. For some reason though, my iPod was not happy and would not play. Now I know why.

Tuesday, adorning my new kicks, I was set to do my customary “out to Rose Rudmen park and back” route. I walked out the door, sunk my watch with the orbiting satellites and pressed play. Nothing. No lights on the shuffle, nothing. I walked back inside my quite house and put in on my desk. Without any message or music to keep me entertained, I decided to spend the time in focused conversation with God. Usually He does all the talking but in lieu of the temperamental iPod I decided it’d be my goal to pray as long as possible. WOW! What an amazingly intense 54 minute conversation with the One who knows the deepest part of me, and still loves me.

Wednesday, our Azalea 5K route was the goal. An easy 3. I decided to forego the iPod. There has been a lot in our minds recently with our current housing situation. That and mission have created excess brain activity for me lately. I settled into my pace and began to just let go. Quiet, restful, dark and peaceful are words that would describe my run. Refreshing and exactly what I needed.

This morning I picked up my shuffle that had been resting on the charger next to my bed since Tuesday. With every intention to finally hear part 3 of Chandler’s Authority series, I walked out the door, sunk my watch with the orbiting satellites and pressed play. No message. Just 2 songs. Bummer. I wrapped up the cables, tucked them into the clip and clipped it to my shorts. Bummer. “Ok, well apparently I’m suppose to have a quiet week!” I thought to myself. I walked to my starting point, turned on my blinky red light, pressed start on my watch and was off. Off to another great 7 miles of quiet contemplation and conversation.

Running is SO INCREDIBLY therapeutic to my soul. Ask any long time runner and they’d agree. Days that I set a goal to get out at run, and for whatever reason do not end up running, I’m a cranky mess. I NEED to have this time. This week’s miles, however quiet they were physically, were louder than my earbuds can scream. At the end of each day’s quiet, hour-ish run laced with prayer and processing, I am ready to take on the world. In that hour I have thought through multiple angles of many circumstances, dreamed big dreams and warded off my cranky tendencies. Most importantly though, I spent solid time seeking the wisdom of my heavenly Father and sharing my desperate need of Him.

Thank you God for ensuring this week’s “quiet” miles.

The Forgotten God. By Francis Chan.

About a year ago Traci and I read Crazy Love with our community group at Grace. That book has radically changed our perspective on so many things, specifically missional living and living below our expected means. I just finished The Forgotten God. Another great eye opener.

[Never mind the goofy smile. I laugh at myself often.]

This book is very insightful about the Holy Spirit and the lack of our acknowledgment of Him in the modern church. In typical Francis Chan fashion he was helpful to bring common, overlooked Christian circle issues into the light. Instead of boring you with my opinions and nonsense I thought I’d let the book speak for itself. Here are a couple of excerpts I found helpful:

Jesus Himself said to His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). So Jesus is basically telling His disciples, “Yes, I was with you for three and a half years, but it is better that I leave you and the Holy Spirit comes to you.”

I don’t want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly.

I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.” This means that we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more.

Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in Him? If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are.

Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And because of this reality, stress and tiredness and impatience do not have to define my day.

I think a lot of us need to forget about “God’s will for my life.” God care more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year… It’s easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience”

Some people encounter Jesus and say, “Sweet! Jesus, do You want to join the party of my life with this sin, that addiction, this destructive relationship, and we’ll just coexist together?” But repentance means saying, “Sweet Jesus, You are the best thing that has ever happened to me! I wan to turn from all the sin and selfishness that rules me. Help me to walk away from the enslaving, worthless things of life.”

I don’t believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world’s perspective, a way that I know I can “manage.” I believe that He is calling me to- and all of us- to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged.

While it is true that we are humans like everyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ form the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them by myself.”

…it is a profound reminder that God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him, because that means no one else can steal His glory.

As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do. I am sick of talking about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices. I don’t wan to merely talk anymore. Life is too short. I don’t want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus. I wan to be Jesus to people. I don’t want to write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way.

Ryan’s Chicken-Lettuce Wraps.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 pounds of chicken (boneless thighs are bomb) [chopped]
  • 6 tablespoons [1/3 bottle] hoisin sauce (asian BBQ)
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce or whatever leafy lettuce you like
  • 1/2 red bell pepper [minced]
  • 4 scallions (green onions) [minced]
  • 4-6 medium shiitake mushrooms [minced]
  • 8 baby carrots or 1/2 large carrot [minced]
  • 8 oz can of water chestnuts [minced]
  • 1-2 inches ginger root [minced]
  • 4 cloves garlic [you guessed it… minced]
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil

add chicken to bowl/bag with soy sauce to marinade. heat canola oil on med/high. add chicken. cook till nearly done. stir in mushrooms. cook a min. add k salt and pepper. stir in ginger and garlic. cook a min. stir in carrots, water chestnuts, bell pepper, scallions, red pepper flakes. cook a min. stir in hoisin sauce. reduce heat to low and cover. all will be happy after about 5 minutes.

tear off lettuce pieces for “wrapping”. smaller, “nacho like” pieces work too. spoon in the good stuff. best served hot with brown rice on the side and a good glass of pinot noir or zin. eat. enjoy. worship our Creator.

bam!