Christopher Parkening

Tonight I was privileged to hear Christopher Parkening in concert. He is a classical guitarist. I first heard about him when I was in college and started taking guitar lessons. My teacher was very heavy on theory and classical music. He told me about Andres Segovia. Through time I learned about Parkening as well.David and Christopher Parkening

In 1993 or 94 my wife to be and I went and heard him in concert in downtown Pensacola. David Brandon was traveling with him at the time.

The concert that we heard back then was phenomenal. I think he played 4 encore songs. He got a standing ovation after each one.

Tonight was a great experience as well. He was asked by the concert organizers to explain the pieces and a bit about the guitar. This concert was put on by a college and many of the attendees would not necessarily be guitarists. I did not think to look at how full the auditorium was, but it seats 8,000 people and the whole bottom floor was filled.

I thought he played well tonight. I did, however, sense that he was working hard to play the pieces. When I saw him before, it was obvious that he was enjoying being on stage and performing for the crowd. Tonight he seemed to be very engrossed in the technique of the music. Particularly early in the evening he seemed to be a bit stiff at the guitar.

However he put on a great performance with the mic. As I mentioned, he explained the music he was playing. He also just got very personable and shared a few stories. He really connected with the audience.

My family and I got a chance to meet him afterwards and chat very briefly.

If you have not read his book, you might want to check out my review of it. You either have to love classical guitar music or just really be into biographies to enjoy the book.

What a great time to learn we don’t have a heater

Did any of you experience the nor’easter that blew through this week? We had a taste of it.

We have owned our Suburban for 4 years but have never had the need to turn on the heater. We got it in the spring and then took it to Mexico that summer. This week when we hit the Texas/Mexico border we found out that the heater does not work. We got up Wednesday morning to 48 degrees. That is quite a bit colder than we have experienced in a few years.

We fired up the heater in the truck and waited for it to warm up. The truck warmed up, but the heater never blew warm air. During the day the sun helped warm us a bit, but we followed the cold front right into Florida.

When we stopped to eat for the night we began a frantic search for a small heater with a fan. We found one, but it drew too much current for our DC to AC power inverter. We hit a couple of truck stops to find a heater that was designed for use in the car. They were all sold out!

Since the temperature gauge in the truck does not work, I have changed the thermostat just in case it was stuck open. I also changed the coolant temperature sensor in case that was causing the problem with the gauge. No luck.

Still looking for the problem.

Yucatan to Florida in 3 days

We took off for a big adventure road trip this week. On Monday morning we were sitting in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. By midnight Wednesday night we were walking in my parent’s door in Florida. We traveled about 2200 miles in that time.

Monday we drove from Merida to Veracruz. The roads are pretty good along that stretch. There are a few places that you have to drive on a two lane road, but certainly not too long. When we got to Veracruz, even though we knew we were just over half way to the border, we felt like we should have gone on just a few more miles. We had some daylight left and could have made it to Cardel. That would have allowed us to leave on Tuesday without still having to drive through Veracruz. Total driving time for Monday was 14 hours.

Tuesday we thought that we should leave about an hour later than we left on Monday. This was due to being further west in the same time zone (I want to avoid driving in the dark as much as possible). We did have plans to get on the road between 6:00 and 6:30. A little delay here and there and we ended up leaving after 7:00. We drove 13 hours to get to the border and then had to work through some paperwork and get to where we were staying. Again about a 14 hour day. The roads are not nearly as nice between Veracruz and Tampico as they were the day before. After you get out of Tampico about an hour then it is a relatively easy (if not a bit boring) trip. We had almost 2 hours of night driving. Not something I want to do if I can absolutely avoid it.

Wednesday we were on the road by 7:30. We stopped to have a real breakfast which slowed us down getting started, but we were thankful for a full meal. We started in McAllen, Texas and drove the 900+ miles to Pensacola in 16.5 hours. That included about an hour and a half adventure while eating and looking for a way to warm up.

With the exception of a need for a heater, we had a wonderfully un-eventful trip. We were eager to be with my parents and friends here in Pensacola. We also will be hearing my favorite guitarist play on Friday night. That is the real reason for making the 5 day trip in 3 days. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time buffered in just in case we had problems and got delayed.

The big day

Today was the day that we were having our big event at church. We had been inviting the neighbors from near the church as well as friends and family of our Deaf who regularly attend.

Normally on a Sunday morning we will have between 10 and 17 at church. We have had a high day of 25. Today we were pleased to see 36 people in church with us. 13 of them were first time visitors. It was an exciting day.

We split up the duties between Bill, our co-worker, and myself for the speaking this morning. Bill told about the history and planned future of the ministry. I gave a Gospel message. We had 2 ladies (hearing) accept the Lord today!

After the service we had a meal and sat around and talked for a while. It was just a generally exciting day. We only took 86 pictures, so I will have to dig through them and see if there are any worthy of uploading. I would just do it right now, but the camera has already been packed for a long trip. When we get to our destination I will try to get a couple pictures uploaded.

Podcasting tips

I read a very helpful web page this last week. I wanted to share with you just a bit of what you will see at the site. Here are eleven tips for putting together a podcast as found at KunaLand Productions.

1. A recording made with average quality equipment in a quiet environment will sound better that a recording made with great equipment in a noisy environment.

This will also help in final processing and production. The less extraneous noise you have to work out the more you will enjoy post production and the listeners will be less distracted. I have one podcast that I listen to that sounds like the interviewer is constantly banging the mic around. The interviewee sounds great, but the “controlled environment” of the interviewer needs some work.

2. Try to use a structured format when creating a Podcast. Listeners don’t like bizarre surprises.

Though you don’t have to be totally strict on this, it does really help. There is always the argument that you are not restricted by time nor format in podcasting. While that is true, rarely will you keep your listeners if you start out as a 20 minute structured show and eventually fade into a 1 hour blab fest.

3. Keep your microphone 6-9” away from your mouth and slightly off to one side and you probably won’t need to use a pop-filter. However, if you are using a studio-type condenser microphone you will probably need a pop-filter.

Learn your mic setup. Take some time and get things working well. At the site where these tips come from there are many other instructional type articles that will help you get started in controlling your mic.

4. Recording wav files at greater than a 16-bit depth is a waste of disk drive space. Remember that your show will eventually will be a compressed MP3 file.

Remember that wav files can be huge. While it is true that the better the quality of the original recording will result in a better final MP3, you can hit a point of diminishing returns.

5. Everyone knows that high quality microphone cables are best. However, consider trying the lost cost house brands. You may find that they work well enough and you will save a chunk of money in the process.

There is a reason good cables cost more, but there is also a point where they can become ridiculously expensive. The best thing to do when looking for a cable is take your microphone and recorder to the store with you and test the cable before you buy it. Not all cables are created equal.

6. Compressing your Podcast to 64 Kbps, joint stereo offers the best compromise between file size and sound quality.

Play around with this and experiment on your own. You will be able to hear a poor quality MP3 compression after editing your show. You start to know how the file should sound. If the quality is bad, back off of the compression. If it is still pretty good, then experiment with higher compression rates. There is no reason to put out a 192 kbps stereo MP3 when your show is a single person talking about the joys of living in the Yucatán.

7. Theme music will make your Podcast sound more professional but don’t forget to only use royalty free music.

There are some great places to get theme music. Or you can create your own with tools like Garage Band.

8. Professional broadcasters always edit their pre-recorded shows. If you want to sound professional, do the same.

Edit. Please. Listen to your content and try to decide if it moves the podcast along, or if the information is un-necessary. If it can be cut…cut it. Good audio is just like good writing. Rarely is the first draft the best you can do. Judiciously cut out fluff.

9. Whenever possible, use a microphone stand or boom to hold your microphone.

Try not to touch your mic. If you are doing an interview, hold the mic yourself, do not pass it to the interview subject. You can introduce too much noise. You can also control where the mic is placed in relationship to the speaker.

10. Edit your program using headphones, ear buds or monitor type speakers. Computer speakers are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to sound reproduction.

You will be better able to hear noises that need to be edited out. If you assume that many of your listeners are using headphones/ear buds while listening to your show, you will want to make sure it sounds good in that environment.

11. Compelling content trumps fancy equipment every time.

If you are excited about your content, your audience will be too. If you are not interested in what you have to say, neither will they.

Again, check out Dr. Mike’s site. There are many other good tips and tricks for putting together your own show.