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August 28, 2007

Mandolin Rain

Last night I purchased a mandolin, case, chromatic tuner, instructional material and hope that I can learn this new, interesting instrument. I've never played guitar or anything else so it's a gamble, but I'm encouraged. Last night I learned four chords and basic strumming technique and previewed my other lesson material. Now I'm on vacation for a week so I can practice a lot and see what a little immersion feels like. My fingers are a little sore already. haha.
I purchased a Roger RM-50. Not top of the line, but it sounded better than a few of the other ones I was trying out. I had another customer help me check the sound quality. He was in there to buy a mandolin also, but he was an avid guitar player and probably had a better ear than I did. So I had him play some things on the mandolins I was looking at to see which one sounded better. I think I made a good choice and am satisfied with it. Then a young girl and her mom were in there looking for mandolin music so I talked to them about instructional material and settled on a combination of what they recommended and what the store owner recommended. I think it'll be fun. The trumpet is on hold for a while I think. ;-)
Now, back to practice!

Posted by carl1236 at 12:33 PM

August 19, 2007

The Day After a Triathlon

My physical and mental condition is different after a triathlon than before. There are phases that I go through in the preparation for the event and the recovery.
The night before I have trouble sleeping. The morning of the race I am usually tired. It's the same reason I don't usually exercise in the morning. I'm tired in the mornings. I've never really made the transition to being a morning person, though I'm getting closer now. I do get up earlier and go to bed earlier. But I'm still tired so the morning of the event I'm tired. But I'm also excited about doing the event. By the time I warm up I'm ready to rock.
During the event I'm highly focused and motivated to push myself beyond all reason. Yesterday's race was like that. I was flying on the bike like there was no tomorrow, and I passed a lot of people. Two people I passed had passed me earlier and I caught up with them miles later when they lost steam. I was breathing hard the whole way. I would not relent or give in. It felt good. When I was done I felt like I accomplished something great. I don't even know what my time was, but I did it and I pushed myself at my absolute maximum effort.
That same day after the race, I was in a state of delerium. So exhausted, but still wired. So mellow and tranquil in a state of bliss. The afterglow lasts all day, and nothing else gets done.
The day after is kind of the same way, but I start to move and get a few things done. But I'm definately not motivated to do much. I went to the coffee shop this morning just to read the paper and sip on coffee. Then I went to the bike shop and moved some stuff around. Then I rode home in the rain, changed into dry clothes and promptly took a nap.
Now here it is 9:00 at night and I'm thinking how much I did not get done this weekend. So I threw a load of clothes in the wash, wrote this and now I'm going to bed to read for an hour. Tomorrow is work. I'll be ready then to actually work. This is the first triathlon I've done on Saturday. Most of them have been on Sunday. I think I like the extra day to recover. After all, when I put my body through that kind of shock, It has to have time to rest. And it will do so whether I'm at work or not. So today was a good day.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:49 PM

August 18, 2007

Young Life Triathlon in Detroit Lakes

I had a great time at the Young Life Triathlon in Detroit Lakes. We did an Olympic Length Relay with my sister-in-Law swimming, me biking and Matt the U of M LaCrosse Superstar running. It was Awesome. The weather was cold and wet but I think that helped keep us cool. Well, I don't think the swim part was fun, since the water was extemely choppy and cold. But all-in-all we extended and challenged ourselves. It was good. my bike ride felt good. I know that I had given it my all when I could hardly walk after getting off the bike!
Next Triathlon, Square Lake, September 9th.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:04 PM

August 15, 2007

Magic Kingdom For Sale

I just finished reading all five of the Landover series of books by Terry Brooks. The premise is simple: The grass is always greener on the other side. So what happens when we take the bait and go for the greener grass and find out it's not what we expected? Make the best of it and discover that making the best of it makes us feel more alive. The fun is in the struggle.

One funny thing about the stories in these books is that many of the evil, bad characters were exiled from Landover. To where? Here in the U.S. of course. That explains a lot! haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:29 PM

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Just to be fair with myself, I am adding one last entry on Jeff Ray. Mainly because I did not really listen to him one day out of the ten.
So here is my final statement about all of the music on all three CD's:

My favorite sound is in the song Dear Grenadine.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM

August 14, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Sandstone Footprints (June Generation album)

Just like our days, sandstone footprints crumble away. Nothing is permanant. But I don't mind. Soon we'll find a brand new way. Phrases like these remind me of how all of life really is not about time at all. It's about change. We are and everything else is in the process of changing from one form to another. From solid to liquid, liquid to gas, to energy, etc. Nothing stays the same. But I don't mind. It has to be that way. Sandstone footprints have to crumble away because it's the nature of all things.

All things change. New things are always being created and soon we'll find a brand new way.

btw...I found a mandolin and just have to pick it up this weekend. Music is cool. making music is cool. my trumpet practice will be put on hold for a while I think. Like Sandstone footprints. :-)

Posted by carl1236 at 8:13 PM

August 13, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

I didn't listen to Jeff Ray at all today. But a spark that started a flame has prompted a search for a new creative endeavor for me. Actually several sparks, several fires, an interest in beginning and and creating new beautiful things. It's like the flame of magic on my fingertips as I touch the flower bud and see it open and bloom. The cool, silver liquid flowing through me, spreading outward and through me, bringing out the beauty that is hiding, waiting to be released. Calling to be released.
I don't have any money to buy the instrument I found, but I'm solving that problem by selling two extra bikes I have. Anyone want to buy a bike? I have a brown Schwinn Suburban five speed that I just love commuting on. I'll sell it for 60 dollars. It's in great working order and has a rack on back for hauling stuff. New, semi-knobby 27" tires for all condition riding. I rode with those tires last winter and it handled most conditions and kept my upright. It's a classy old-style upright bike with comfortable spring seat.
And I have an antique rod-brake british 3-speed that is a little too tall for me. This is a great bike that needs the right owner. It works and has new brake pads. I'm 5'10" so you would need to be taller than me to really fit this bike. I would sell this for 100 dollars.
Selling these two bikes would buy me a used mandolin I found. Anyone interested in helping me get this instrument? Need a bike?
The other creative spark is the collective yoga/spiritual/healing/arts center I'm becoming involved in creating. We met for the second time tonight. There is a very cool energy that comes from beginning something new, creating something that comes from everyone involved.
Jeff Ray, you rock. I think it's energy in your soul that always smiles and radiates out with your music.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:06 PM

August 12, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Hey if it gets me writing again, I'm ok with the idea getting old. Ten days in a row is a lot to write about one topic. But I am learning some things along the way that I wouldn't have if I had not done this. Today on the car-ride home I did listen to Jeff Ray music all the way. All three albums. I discovered I could pick out the newer songs by sound. I like the blues sounding songs. But I also discovered that I cannot read my book and listen to Dear Grenadine at the same time. This music demands my attention every time I listen to it!
On another musical note, tonight I started searching for Mandolins and discovered they are expensive just like guitars. But I think I can find a decent lower-end model for under 300 dollars according to my brief search on Craig's list. Anyone have one they are no longer using and want to sell cheap or donate to me? I don't really have the money to buy one right now, so maybe I'll have to wait six months and save some money. Maybe I could borrow one from someone for the winter before buying one?

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM

August 11, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Meet the Instructor Jeff Ray. Just last year the St. Paul Guitar Studio, LLC opened in Lowertown. This is such a cool idea, bringing together five instructors with vaired music backgrounds and styles to teach what you are interested in. Between all of the instructors, they span Rock, Blues, Fusion, Folk, Country, Classical, Finger-Style, R&B, Funk, Jazz, and Latin! I'm already plotting to take some lessons this winter.
What I thought would be fun is to find an old mandolin with good sound and turn it into a resophonic slide mandolin. Do you think Jeff could teach me how to play it? The way he tunes his guitar on stage over and over, he could probably tune anything and make it work, haha.
Now I'm off on my road trip, ipod in hand. I get to drive for five hours listening to nothing but Jeff Ray. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 5:15 AM

August 10, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

My favorite song from Jeff Ray's June Generation album is Samadhi. I plan on listening to the Sunshine City Tree album tomorrow on our car ride to Illinois. That was Jeff's first beautiful release, and it's very insightful and interesting. One of the song's, Mr.God, asks, "How far can you see?" "Can you see inside?" It depends on which way we are looking. If you look you can find the hidden treasures in inside of these songs.

Tomorrow morning before my road trip, I'll share another thought I had about Jeff Ray's CD's.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:51 PM

August 9, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Since this is day five of my ten days with Jeff Ray, I thought I'd highlight some of his other music besides the latest and greatest Winter CD. Jeff also has two other fantastic albums out: Sunshine City Tree and June Generation. You can listen to his music here...

Put all three CD's into your IPOD and you can make it through an entire century bike ride. Try it, but I have to warn you, it's easy to get lost on the way. ;-)

I did not get laid off from work today, and I attribute that to the positive upbeat sound of the Resonator Guitar Guru.

Let me know if you listen to any of the songs I linked to here. I'd love to hear what you think.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:36 PM

August 8, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

No matter how I look at this, and the more I listen to resonator slide guitar music by Jeff Ray, the more inspired and motivated I get. I almost want to pick up a guitar and learn how to play now! Music could be thought of as a great escape, but it's much more than that. It's a creative process, something beautiful being born, nourished, flourished and raised to completion. I was having a discussion with another friend today out on the deck. He also happens to be a guitar player. When we started talking about slide guitar music and Jeff Ray his whole body lit up, and the conversation got much more animated. Kind of like the music itself. That was a cool experience. Thank you Jeff Ray! The song for today is purely instrumental and I'll call it "Spark!" for the spark it generated today and the resulting animation and energy created.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:44 PM

August 7, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Today the Jeff Ray song of the day is dubbed, "Longing to Belong." It's a place we call home. It's the place we've been working at, or the place we hang out. Like another song we know, where everyone knows our name. It is the comfort and saftey zone.
Today felt like that at work, yet at the same time, there was a current of doubt as more people were laid off, and rumors were flying. Insecurity is fear and nobody wants to live in fear. I said when I first started here, that in order for me to solve the problems at this company, we would have to change the work culture. And I think that is about to happen in my department.
Here is another discontinuity in life. Too many times I've been in the situation where there is no security in a job. I have never been laid off or fired in my life, but who knows. Just like everyone else, I would love to go to work, feel like I'm making a valuable contribution to society and to others. And be appreciated. This is my longing for home. It's why I feel so good at home. It feels good and I'm loved and I give love. Even at work I'm working on my feeling of belonging. The song hit it on the spot. There is more to life than work, but it sure is nice when work-life is more than just a paycheck.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:51 PM

August 6, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Tuesday was a blue day. I did not have music in my heart when I was getting ready for work. And then the mood at work somber and insecure. We are expecting some layoffs and I really don't feel like looking for another job especially since I happen to like this one. But just as a mood can start out low and wailing, the beat can pick up and gain strength underneath and give hope. Whenever something dies, there are always new beginnings. I have a lot of new beginnings in my life I realized. I looked around to see all of the hope in other people at the new things happening. Last night I went to an organizational meeting of a cool, new, collective yoga/dance/meditation studio. We were asked to go around the table and introduce ourselves and list one good thing that happened in our lives recently. At first all I could think about was my work-day blues, but then thought about the Jeff Ray music I listened to and that was the thought I shared. Like those few high notes in the middle of the song, I was there. When we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we can see the new beginnings, the good things that happen to us every day. Even something as simple as the enjoyment we get from listening to music or meeting friends at a coffee shop to build a dream. A song can easily turn from a low, plaintive wail to a lively plucking of high notes. Name one thing that's good in your life right now. The Jeff Ray song for the day is hereby named "New Beginnings"

Posted by carl1236 at 11:46 PM

August 5, 2007

Ten Days with Jeff Ray

Last night I took my wife and another couple out to the Ginko Cafe on Snelling after dinner to hear Jeff Ray play. I did it mostly to seize an opportunity that presents itself and is gone like a vapor if not recognized. Jeff is promoting his newest "record", Last Great Winter. As usual Jeff's playing was mesmerizing; the guitar seems to take on a voice of it's own, singing it's own tune with Jeff as backup!
Several years ago I discovered the power of Jeff's music for long bicycle rides. The reason it works for me is that it's mostly instrumental with fast, motivating lyrics and a perfect pedalling cadence beating underneath for a good workout.
This morning I woke up slowly, quiet and peaceful after a good night of sleep. Waking up slowly is a rare opportunity that I savor. Hanging out with my wife, sipping coffee it dawned on me that I had Jeff's new CD sitting there on the table unopened. I looked at the case and read the names of the ten songs. It's funny how disconnected those names seem to me, with the feeling of the guitar sounds. Jeff said it would be interesting to hear my feedback on the new Album, so the inspiration came to me this morning as I put the CD in the player and turned it on. Ten Songs, Ten Days with Jeff Ray. Each day for the next ten days I will attempt to put into words the feeling of each song, giving a name to each one that represents how It feels to me.

As I reflect, sip my coffee, listen to the entire album as a whole, the Morning gives a name to the first song, Peace with a heartbeat of excitement; Anticipation.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:20 AM