The Blog

 
 

A Reflection On the mad n8v story

Earlier this week I released the episode about Mad N8V guitars. The adventures of Billy, Aaron and Jason in the art of making things that make noise.

When you’re working on a story, you look for the hook. Was the hook to this story the craftmanship required to build a guitar from scratch? Was it about the material used? Was it about creating a business out of wholecloth?

Not the story I was telling.

The hook to the story was the was the belief these guys had in themselves to get the job done and move on to the next guitar. It’s the trust in each other and the trust in themselves that stood out to me. It really is a remarkable thing.

When you’re editing a podcast, taking out the “ums” and tripped over words, you hear the story several times over. I heard two words uttered by the Mad N8V trio several times: headache and fun.

They talked about how the first guitar was a headache, how making sure the soldering was just right was a headache, the sanding of the body to make sure the finish comes out just right was a headache. But the headaches, the difficulties, did not deter them.

The other word was “fun.” Learning how to wire up a guitar was fun, working on the neck was fun, getting over the hurdles was fun. It speaks to a good attitude and an open mind toward new challenges.

“If you love what you do you don’t work a day in your life,” reported Billy in the interview.  If they keep having fun despite the headaches, I think they’ll make it.

https://withintherealm.libsyn.com/a-mountain-we-could-climb-a-guitar-story

Miles to go

snow trail

It’s snowing this New Year’s Day morning just north of Kansas City.  The first thing on the list every day, even holidays, is to walk our faithful dog Boomer. Our walks are generally along the trail near our home.

The trail is a section of abandoned railroad, the Quincy, Omaha and Kansas City line, that proved good neither for farming nor the the subsequent housing additions that sprang up in the last decade of the twentieth century.  It and the tree covered low spots that surround it have remained a somewhat overgrown patch of woods in an otherwise suburban wasteland.

All this is fine with the me and the dog.

The woods are thick enough that the subdivisions on either side of the trail are hidden from sight. We have seen squirrels, rabbits and deer on our trail and hear the call of owls and coyotes as well as the occasional tapping of a woodpecker on our walks.

The trail is an oasis of nature in the man-manipulated world that surrounds it. Today, snow falling, it is all the more quiet. And sweet to find ourselves in.

The quiet and the cold immediately brings to mind lyrics of the U2 song “New Year’s Day.”

          All is quiet on New Year’s Day                                                                                                                     A world in white gets underway

As we continue our walk, another verse from a different poet comes to mind. Something from a poem I memorized for credit in junior high school. I was surprised how much of the poem I remembered from that long ago time, something about it apparently has stuck with me.

The poem? Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

The poem has no satisfying conclusion, leaving much to the thoughts of the reader. I have considered the poem contemplative and forlorn, there is a certain air of sadness in the lines covered in dutiful resolve to keep on going. It speaks to how I feel on this New Year’s Day.

 
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
 
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
 
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
 
May we all have a year filled with hope and all the good things that go with it. There are many more miles to go.

 

Like Icing on the Cake Or More Ornaments! I can still see branches!

December 7, 2020

The following is a little something I wrote almost a decade ago about Christmases when I was younger. Since that time, I have been deemed a Christmas curmudgeon or a Grinch…something that may be true, but here’s a holiday offering for you. 

 
We were over at a friend’s house this evening. They had a living room fit to be a Christmas card – a beautiful tree, gifts in brightly colored wrapping paper under it, a real fire going in the fireplace – picturesque! Atop the tree was a star, which made me stop and think…

The things that go on top of Christmas trees is important; it says a lot about a person or their household.

Some folks have stars of various designs, other have Angels like the ones mentioned in the Good Book (and, yes, I know the Good Book alludes to a star, but how can you be sure the star on top of your tree is a good representation of the Star of Bethlehem? The law of averages suggests that any Angel would probably been included in the heavenly host. Therefore the Angel is, by default, imminently more Christmassy.)

There are some heathens that place a bow on the tree.  I’m sure those soulless fiends used a bow because they couldn’t find an empty beer can or a losing lottery ticket as the tree-topper. Again, bows-atop-tree people should be avoided at all costs.

At our house, we had an Angel that sat atop our tree. No ordinary Angel, this one was electric, with it’s own cord and everything. My brother, who was pretty sure he knew how to do everything, was very meticulous about hiding the cord amongst the fake branches to preserve the illusion that the Angel was perched up there as if by magic.

This Angel was special: blond, clad in white and holding a candle in front of her with both hands ( the candle was really a small Christmas bulb, hence the need for the cord.)

After the lights and the garland and the ornaments were all placed on the tree. Out came the Angel, which Mom still had the package it came in so that the Angel would not get mangled with the other decorations in their 11 month slumber. It was somewhat like the moment the crown is brought out at a coronation, lots of “oohs” and “aahs.” Let the record show, I don’t believe I was ever recorded as “oohing” or “aahing” as I was the young skeptic in those days.

One Christmas, when I was very young, I remember my sister pleading with my mother to put tinsel on the tree. After the Angel was on, Mother relented.  My brother and sister worked very hard to get the tinsel evenly distributed around the tree, which seemed like it took hours. Again, my brother, the eight year old engineer, also served as inspector on this job.

As the youngest and shortest of the Garrett children, and suffering from a short attention span and atrocious hand-eye coordination, I did my best contribute to the tinseling of the tree. My Mom, who was famous for finding deals on things and then buying in bulk, had apparently cornered the market on silver tinsel that year. Whatever I was doing wasn’t meeting my brother’s high standards in tinsel distribution and I was demoted to sitting on the couch to watch the other two sloppily apply little bit of silver to the tree.

I remember plainly that what has become known as the “Tinsel Incident” turned out to really ruin the Christmas Tree putting up for me. I left my brother and sister to organize the tree.

There was quite a bit of tinsel that didn’t stick to the tree and, in my absence, it was blamed on me. It became worse when we discovered that the old ElectroLux vacuum cleaner, “Ol’ Relaible,” didn’t really get the job done on stray tinsel. Even though I had been promoted to couch-sitting (my new take on the incident) and was not part of the tinseling crew, my protests were met on my Mother’s deaf ears. I was included in the rotation of tinsel patrol.

We had tinsel only one more year at our house after that. Us Garrett kids were sad to find out that they quit making tinsel in the following years. At least that’s what Mom told us…

 

A LATE THANKSGIVING THOUGHT

December 1, 2020

I do some of my best thinking when I’m walking the dog.

As Boomer and I made our way along the trail near our house, I was thinking about how far I have come in learning how to master (too strong a word) some of the tools of podcasting. In the early days of the podcast, I recorded interviews and other audio on my phone in Garage band. It was convenient because the phone was always in my pocket. It recorded the noises I needed it to, plus a bunch of other noises, too. And this is how I did it for over a year.

Then, one day in late summer of last year I got the idea that I wanted to interview Michael Wallis, author of several books, about one of my favorites by him, “The Lion of the West.” I found his website and clicked on the contact link and asked for an interview. Half expecting no response and halfway expecting a polite “no thanks” in a week or so, you could image my surprise when waiting in my in box the next morning was a message from the author himself. Not only did he suggest a date and time for said interview, he left his phone number to give him a call for the conversation.

Excited at the prospect of interviewing a renown writer faded to terror. “How am I going to pull this off?” A telephone interview was way over my level of expertise.

I googled “How to record a telephone interview.” I found no solutions there that I liked. It all involved spending money and a lot more than I was interested in spending. So, I turned to social media, begging for a solution from other podcasters.

A podcasting friend from Pittsburgh, Tim O’Brien, suggested this dohicky called a Zoom P-6. He described what it did and what it could do. His review was so glowing I’m not convinced he doesn’t own stock in the company. Convinced that if I was going to get this interview recorded I would have to step up and buy this piece of equipment.

Its ability to also record remotely turned out to be an added benefit. It really changed the sound of my podcast, giving me better audio quality for those interviews. Tim’s advice was a real gift.

But the real gift came a few months later. This thing came along called a world-wide pandemic. Suddenly travel was not quite as easy and people were not quite as ready to visit face to face. I soon found myself doing interviews by phone with people just across town. The real gift was the ability to continue to do the podcast and the interviews despite the pandemic.

As we neared the front door, the dog and I, I realized what a great turn Tim had done me. By encouraging me to  get over my fears about learning one more gadget and my qualms about the cash, he really saved the podcast. Sure, it could have continued without the recorder, but it would have lost some of its dynamics and “feel.”

I stooped to let Boomer of his leash. I was thankful for a friend who’s advice released me from my own self-imposed low-tech leash.

Tim O’Brien is the host of “Shaping Opinion.” On his podcast they talk about the people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. @ShapingOpinion

 

A Collection of Stories about the Power of the Comeback…and Beyond

August 25, 2020

The Importance of Places That Don’t Exist Anymore

June 29, 2019

Finding You

June 20, 2019

For Brad: Unfinished Business

September 20th, 2018

My Uncle, The Cherokee National Treasure

June 6th, 2018

 

 

Like Icing on the Cake Or More Ornaments! I can still see branches!

December 7, 2020

The following is a little something I wrote almost a decade ago about Christmases when I was younger. Since that time, I have been deemed a Christmas curmudgeon or a Grinch…something that may be true, but here’s a holiday offering for you. 

 
We were over at a friend’s house this evening. They had a living room fit to be a Christmas card – a beautiful tree, gifts in brightly colored wrapping paper under it, a real fire going in the fireplace – picturesque! Atop the tree was a star, which made me stop and think…

The things that go on top of Christmas trees is important; it says a lot about a person or their household.

Some folks have stars of various designs, other have Angels like the ones mentioned in the Good Book (and, yes, I know the Good Book alludes to a star, but how can you be sure the star on top of your tree is a good representation of the Star of Bethlehem? The law of averages suggests that any Angel would probably been included in the heavenly host. Therefore the Angel is, by default, imminently more Christmassy.)

There are some heathens that place a bow on the tree.  I’m sure those soulless fiends used a bow because they couldn’t find an empty beer can or a losing lottery ticket as the tree-topper. Again, bows-atop-tree people should be avoided at all costs.

At our house, we had an Angel that sat atop our tree. No ordinary Angel, this one was electric, with it’s own cord and everything. My brother, who was pretty sure he knew how to do everything, was very meticulous about hiding the cord amongst the fake branches to preserve the illusion that the Angel was perched up there as if by magic.

This Angel was special: blond, clad in white and holding a candle in front of her with both hands ( the candle was really a small Christmas bulb, hence the need for the cord.)

After the lights and the garland and the ornaments were all placed on the tree. Out came the Angel, which Mom still had the package it came in so that the Angel would not get mangled with the other decorations in their 11 month slumber. It was somewhat like the moment the crown is brought out at a coronation, lots of “oohs” and “aahs.” Let the record show, I don’t believe I was ever recorded as “oohing” or “aahing” as I was the young skeptic in those days.

One Christmas, when I was very young, I remember my sister pleading with my mother to put tinsel on the tree. After the Angel was on, Mother relented.  My brother and sister worked very hard to get the tinsel evenly distributed around the tree, which seemed like it took hours. Again, my brother, the eight year old engineer, also served as inspector on this job.

As the youngest and shortest of the Garrett children, and suffering from a short attention span and atrocious hand-eye coordination, I did my best contribute to the tinseling of the tree. My Mom, who was famous for finding deals on things and then buying in bulk, had apparently cornered the market on silver tinsel that year. Whatever I was doing wasn’t meeting my brother’s high standards in tinsel distribution and I was demoted to sitting on the couch to watch the other two sloppily apply little bit of silver to the tree.

I remember plainly that what has become known as the “Tinsel Incident” turned out to really ruin the Christmas Tree putting up for me. I left my brother and sister to organize the tree.

There was quite a bit of tinsel that didn’t stick to the tree and, in my absence, it was blamed on me. It became worse when we discovered that the old ElectroLux vacuum cleaner, “Ol’ Relaible,” didn’t really get the job done on stray tinsel. Even though I had been promoted to couch-sitting (my new take on the incident) and was not part of the tinseling crew, my protests were met on my Mother’s deaf ears. I was included in the rotation of tinsel patrol.

We had tinsel only one more year at our house after that. Us Garrett kids were sad to find out that they quit making tinsel in the following years. At least that’s what Mom told us…

 

A LATE THANKSGIVING THOUGHT

December 1, 2020

I do some of my best thinking when I’m walking the dog.

As Boomer and I made our way along the trail near our house, I was thinking about how far I have come in learning how to master (too strong a word) some of the tools of podcasting. In the early days of the podcast, I recorded interviews and other audio on my phone in Garage band. It was convenient because the phone was always in my pocket. It recorded the noises I needed it to, plus a bunch of other noises, too. And this is how I did it for over a year.

Then, one day in late summer of last year I got the idea that I wanted to interview Michael Wallis, author of several books, about one of my favorites by him, “The Lion of the West.” I found his website and clicked on the contact link and asked for an interview. Half expecting no response and halfway expecting a polite “no thanks” in a week or so, you could image my surprise when waiting in my in box the next morning was a message from the author himself. Not only did he suggest a date and time for said interview, he left his phone number to give him a call for the conversation.

Excited at the prospect of interviewing a renown writer faded to terror. “How am I going to pull this off?” A telephone interview was way over my level of expertise.

I googled “How to record a telephone interview.” I found no solutions there that I liked. It all involved spending money and a lot more than I was interested in spending. So, I turned to social media, begging for a solution from other podcasters.

A podcasting friend from Pittsburgh, Tim O’Brien, suggested this dohicky called a Zoom P-6. He described what it did and what it could do. His review was so glowing I’m not convinced he doesn’t own stock in the company. Convinced that if I was going to get this interview recorded I would have to step up and buy this piece of equipment.

Its ability to also record remotely turned out to be an added benefit. It really changed the sound of my podcast, giving me better audio quality for those interviews. Tim’s advice was a real gift.

But the real gift came a few months later. This thing came along called a world-wide pandemic. Suddenly travel was not quite as easy and people were not quite as ready to visit face to face. I soon found myself doing interviews by phone with people just across town. The real gift was the ability to continue to do the podcast and the interviews despite the pandemic.

As we neared the front door, the dog and I, I realized what a great turn Tim had done me. By encouraging me to  get over my fears about learning one more gadget and my qualms about the cash, he really saved the podcast. Sure, it could have continued without the recorder, but it would have lost some of its dynamics and “feel.”

I stooped to let Boomer of his leash. I was thankful for a friend who’s advice released me from my own self-imposed low-tech leash.

Tim O’Brien is the host of “Shaping Opinion.” On his podcast they talk about the people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. @ShapingOpinion

 

A Collection of Stories about the Power of the Comeback…and Beyond

August 25, 2020

The Importance of Places That Don’t Exist Anymore

June 29, 2019

Finding You

June 20, 2019

For Brad: Unfinished Business

September 20th, 2018

My Uncle, The Cherokee National Treasure

June 6th, 2018