Posted in Family, Uncategorized

A Blast of the Past #90: India, Part 1

Today’s blast of the past is going to be more of a travelogue, with multiple photo plates, instead of one big photo plate.

I had the privilege of travelling to India for two weeks for work in 2007. My destination: Mumbai — the Bollywood of India, and its financial center. I traveled with an officer of my company as the associate/trainer to support him as we opened up a new satellite office there.

We met another officer/associate pair that was just completing 6 weeks there, All of were staying an a 5-star Mumbai Marriott Hotel. It had attached a “hot” nightspot called the Velvet Lounge, where we met with and “got down” with some of the office employees, who came out to greet me and my officer, and see the other officer/associate off.

Prior to the trip to India, I had spent 18 months training people sent from the India office in Kansas City, so I knew some of the people at the Velvet Lounge and met others. My first trainee, Jayraj, was the unit head for the Mumbai office. I hadn’t realize that, back in Kansas City, when i started training him, but his insight and higher level questions obviously showed he was thinking of more than just the day-to-day functions.

So my second day, on the weekend, was spent visiting Jayraj’s home and meeting his wife, Rujuta. They had a very lovely, almost simple elegant, apartment, and after visiting there over refreshments, we went and toured some of the city near their place, seeing some of the signs of the holiday of Diwali that was just upon us.

The day ended with a return to the hotel, where I was fascinated by the musical skill of the below artist playing on these cups/bowls:

Posted in Music

Voice on Steroids

Back at the beginning of the month both Betsy and I came down with the same cough on a Wednesday, which turned into a fever that Sunday, that took us to the doctor together on Monday, for a ‘something’ pack of antibiotics that we took 5 days but lasted 10 days in our system.

The effect was to knock out the infection, if any, over the next week, leaving me with a lingering cough. It also left me with much looser sinuses than I usually have. Also easier to breathe through the nose.

And eventually the lingering cough even disappeared.

But what was odd, was that the cold had very little effect on my singing voice. The cough was inconvenient in timing, but little effect.

But as as the cold cleared, the cough went away, the voice started shifting. Over the past 3 weeks I have been getting deeper, stronger, more projectible bass notes (though perhaps a little ragged around the edges of the tones). While the tenor range started breaking up into sections. middle and middle high notes started disappearing or getting raspy. I had no vocal pain, just lack of usual vocal acuity.

So as I was apparently getting better, the voice was going in the opposite direction. I could definitely hear and tell where the issues were. But no one, apart from Betsy seemed to notice. I even did a very BASS a capella number for special music in church that people seemed impressed with. Me, I felt all the bass power, but also all the upper fragility as I tried to key it LOW enough (an odd feeling for a first tenor).

So I finally got to the doctor on Tuesday afternoon to discuss it.  He could see nothing; the throat looked good. And he said you usually don’t feel pain when you have things like laryngitis. So we went on the presumption that I must have drainage or something that irritated, and that if we tried something to reduce the inflammation, then it should get better, and if it didn’t or if it got better and then got worse, we’d try something else.

So now I am on 16 days of a steroid: Prednisone. I take 4 10 MG tablets once a day for 3 days, then 3 tablets for 3 days, 2 tablets for 3 days, and 1 tablet for 3 days.

I took the first round of steroids late Tuesday afternoon — even though warned it might keep me awake that night.  It didn’t; I slept well.  But I could tell that evening at the Songflower Chorale rehearsal that the voice was already being affected. The upper range was starting to knit together, though still crackly.

Today it seems to be mending even better.  We will see how it goes between here and the choral anthem on Sunday.

I’m hoping this is a one-time thing. Not sure how I feel about using drugs this way for the voice.  I just know I’d feel worse not using them this way.

Posted in Music

#180: Lord God, Our Thanks to THee We Raise

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Lord God, our thanks to Thee we raise

For those who built this house of praise,

Who long ago together stood

To form a Christian brotherhood.


Here have our children known Thy care

And raised their tho’ts to Thee in prayer;

Here have we shared the Wine, the Bread —

Here have our living souls been fed.


Still thru the years be Thou our guide,

Keep us from enmity and pride;

Still help us choose the better part —

A humble and a thankful heart.


Be this our common enterprise:

That truth be preach’d and pray’r arise,

That each may seek the other’s good

And live and love as Jesus would.


Create in us the word, the deed,

That ours may be a living creed;

And cause Thy grace in us to dwell —

Abide with us, Immanuel!

Posted in Church, Uncategorized

The disappearance of ‘alleluia’

For someone like myself who grew up in a very non-liturgical Baptist church, some of the liturgical traditions seem a little crazy, or extreme. Yet the people in these traditions can sometime be very extreme in their observances and positions on them.

One such observance, a part of lent in many traditions, is not saying/singing the word “alleluia” during Lent.

The reasons for the observance have a legitimate philosophical and theological basis. As one website notes:

The point of the season is a kind of exile. While the event of the resurrection has occurred in history, the days of Lent serve as a reminder that we do not yet experience the kingdom in its fullness. We live in the hope of the resurrection, but the weakness of human existence is all too evident in this life. The omission of the alleluia is one symbolic way to enter into the spirit of the season of Lent. The days of Lent are days of penance and recollection of human weakness but also days of anticipation and so we long for the day when the kingdom is fully realized. To be deprived of certain things during the days of Lent is designed to create a longing for the realization of all that the life of Jesus promises.

Now, this has a direct, practical impact on those of us in the church music community.  There are a lot of songs that use these words. The selections of hymns and service music is affected. But in the choral community it has another impact. We are always rehearsing music a season in advance. That means we have to sing quite a few alleluias during the Lenten season to be ready for the glorious breakout of Easter.

But to some people that breaks the “alleluia” prohibition. I heard one fellow choral member tell a story about a lady who came down really hard on the choir in her church, the choir my story-telling friend belonged to. They wrestled with her, trying to explain the concept of rehearsal.

This extreme view has a different solution in some circles.Some choirs are not even allowed to rehearse with “alleluia”. I have heard that in some of those circles, the choirs have gone to rehearsing with “what’s it to you” during lent, in place of the “alleluias” they aren’t allowed to sing. That is a unique, and extreme, adherence, to tradition.

Posted in Fitness

Fitness Update: Half-Marathon Prep

I have been talking in prior blogs about how my pace of running miles for the year has started out slow for the year. But I didn’t expect for that tempo to remain the same. This past week is a proof of that.

From running less than 10 miles a week most weeks, last week I ran 20 miles. The prep for the half marathon is increasing the tempo of my running miles. Between preparing for the half marathon, and then staying in long distance condition for possible running events  for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge (have I mentioned that before on the blog, don’t think I have) that occur in May, I should catch up my running miles quite nicely.

The same, yet, can’t be said for my swim distance goals. I have yet to start on those. We will see whether this week changes that or not.

My current running miles: 112.30

Bicycle miles: 855

Swim Miles: 0

Posted in Music

#179: Holy Bible, Book Divine

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

The interesting thing to note is that this hymn is one sentence: you cannot cut out a verse without having a sentence fragment, an incomplete thought.


Holy Bible, Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine;

Mine to tell me whence I came,

Mine to teach me what I am;


Mine to chide me when I rove,

Mine to show a Savior’s love;

Mine thou art to guide and guard,

Mine to punish or reward;


Mine to comfort in distress —

Suffr’ng in this wilderness;

Mine to show, by living faith,

Man can triumph over death;


Mine to tell of joys to come

And the rebel sinner’s doom:

O thou holy Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine.

Posted in Politics

Enclave or assimilate

I noticed it on Saturday. The men of the local Islamic center were digging holes to put posts in front of the drive for their parking lot. Today I ran by and saw that they are putting bricks down between the poles, leaving just an open space between the two central ones for, I assume, a gate to let vehicles in and out.

The place where the Islamic center now is was a vacant building when my family moved to the community in 2003. That corner had two buildings, an old retail building, and some sort of abandoned office/motel (I was never quite sure). It took until the beginning of 2010 before that began to change. The retail building became the Corner Store, which has managed to thrive over the past seven years.

A bit later the office building was taken over by a group that we gradually learned was an Islamic Center of people who had immigrated from Bosnia. Over the years they slowly made very nice improvements to the lot, always keeping a low profile and not drawing attention to themselves. It took a long time for a sign to go up so we were sure exactly what the group was that had so improved the corner.

But more recently they have started creating a sense of enclave. It started with the slatted wooden fence around the back and sides, that prevented the sort of cutting across the corner lot that people were prone to do. And now they are sealing off the last side of the lot, this time with iron posts and cement blocks. I only saw two levels of blocks when I was going by today, and only on one side of what I took for the gate, but the other side was obviously prepped for the same treatment.

This sort of construction has two possible intentions, not always meant simultaneously: to keep people in, or to keep people out.

Now, practically, they wouldn’t be keeping people in — their people come and go all the time — but creating a place where they stay separate from other people, and don’t assimilate into the national culture, but remain distinct and foreign for generations, that is something I know this group isn’t intending to do. They have people from their leadership attending the local community association meetings, and becoming more active than a lot of the long-time residents.

So my sorrow is that I see this as a sense of keeping people out. They have fear of being attacked themselves, for their difference and religion, and are ensuring their property and people are kept safe.

With the recent event in London, among other events,  they have reason to be concerned that some people will see them, unfortunately, as an appropriate target, and are thus continuing their sense of enclave.

I, for one, don’t want them to gain that sense. They need to know they are welcome in the community, and that we want them to be a part of our greater American culture and community. Unlike some immigrants in some places, they have not moved in and insisted we change our ways to meet their religious laws. To anyone who does that I can only say “nay”. But to those who come to dwell in peace, we should give them peace.

I don’t object to limiting immigrants from countries where terrorism is rife, and putting extra security screenings before letting people in. That is only right and good. But once they are here, they should be treated as free and welcomed, and in return they should show themselves free and open to accommodating and acculturating into the body politic, while adding the strength of their uniqueness to that which is America.

Which is why I hope, and pray, that the whispers of intolerance don’t teach these good neighbors the wrong lessons about America, but that they might continue to open to us, and that we will stay open to them.

Posted in Music

#178: The Bible Stands

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


The Bible stands like a rock undaunted

‘Mid the raging storms of time;

Its pages burn with the truth eternal,

And they glow with a light sublime.


The Bible stands tho the hills may tumble,

It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;

I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,

For the Bible stands.


The Bible stands like a mountain tow’ring

Far above the works of men;

Its truth by none ever was refuted,

And destroy it they never can.



The Bible stands, at it will forever

When the world has passed away;

Bi inspiration it has been given —

All its precepts I will obey.



The Bible stands ev’ry test we give it

For its Author is divine;

By grace alone I expect to live it

And to prove it and make it mine.