Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Holy croup

I think that's what I have, anyway. If so, I picked it up from my nephew a couple of weeks ago and it's just fully developing now. The incubation period is 2-5 days and I had my first icky symptoms 3 days after we went our separate ways. Lesson learned: never nuzzle a sick baby, no matter how cute they are. Sigh. I should know that one; I worked in a daycare.

It really kicked in yesterday, with the achiness, coughing and low-grade fever. I am more coughy today, less fevery. I'm glad I have plenty of tea, fruit and juice at home, that I don't have to go anywhere for food for a couple of days.

Rob's blog: 5.30.2006

I had wanted this blog to be about my computer being miraculously healed. I thought it was for a little while. But it has returned to it's problematic state once again.

I am writing from Windhoek now. I'm staying at the ELCN(Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia) guest house, which is a few blocks from the Bible Society offices. An LBT missionary was mugged and stabbed not too long ago in those few blocks between the guest house and office, so I am taking care to only make the trip during the office hours of the heavily-armed neighborhood security guards.

When I last wrote, I was finishing work on the recording of the Naro Choir. Those who are on the email prayer update list received an email on Saturday, as we prepared to finalize the tracks for the recording. I've been pretty busy since then, so I haven't been able to update anything.

The Naro Choir recorded a total of 22 songs over the course of three sessions. The total tracks amounted to about 70 minutes of music. A decision was made at the meeting to put the same program onto both CDs and cassettes, which would mean cutting the content to 60 minutes or less (the length of the cassette). I recommended cutting two of the songs whose performance was not up to the standard of the other tracks. One of the SIL missionaries recommended cutting some of the songs which were represented on an earlier recording by the choir. The choir representatives agreed with most of these suggestions, but wanted to rerecord two songs with subpar performances, including one of the ones I'd recommended for cutting. They agreed with me that the other subpar song should be put off for a later recording date--it was still a fairly new song to them. They had two other songs they wanted to redo as well, but eventually decided to only redo one of them.

This meant a Saturday evening recording session. So, instead of beginning the mastering process in the afternoon, I really couldn't start until after supper, and then with two new songs to edit.

Mastering an album is very much an art and a difficult thing to explain. It's like, I had all 18 tracks and needed to use compression, EQ, and fading subtly to make everything sound like it belonged together. A decision has to be made as to how much space is placed between the songs. The challenge, really, was to keep it all sounding subtle. This wasn't a pop recording, but one which needed to sound as natural and real... while still sounding very professional... as possible. And because a completed CD and cassette master needed to be turned in before I left town the next morning, I didn't have much margin for error.

The process went fairly smoothly. And I'm very pleased to report my computer--which had been giving me about five minutes to an hour between crashes, did not crash the whole evening. I started buring the first master CD at 11:00. After I finished that, I started buring a data CD (containing mono files for the cassette master and other documents for the archives). Meanwhile, Kedra duplicated the master CD. While I burned a second data disc, she started dubbing the cassette master. While time consuming, the whole process went pretty smoothly. I was in bed a little bit after 1:00 in the morning.

Kedra and I flew to Windhoek, Namibia on Sunday. On Monday, I took the computer into the local Apple store where (due to Murphy's Law of Computer Repair), the problem could not be replicated. I was ready to call my computer miraculously healed. I wouldn't be the
first time God had intervened on behalf of technology. But that evening, things were back to their usual crash-every-few-minutes self. Anyway, all this week, I'll be involved in administering a survey of media use amongst a local people group here. I have more to say about that, but I'll put that off until a later entry.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rob's blog: 5.25.2006

Here I am, recording the Naro Choir in D'Kar, Botswana. This was the second session with the group. The first was in the evening. They recorded 15 songs over the course of just over two hours - a well prepared group!

Rob's blog: 5.23.2006; In The African Bush

As I watched the sun set over the Kalahari, I knew I wouldn't be making my appointment to record the Naro Choir in D'Kar. But, though two members of my party were still lost somewhere in the bush and I was badly sunburned, I couldn't bring myself to regret anything which had happened.

Last night, the Naro Choir gave Kedra and I a private concert, to let us hear some of the material they want to record. They were well prepared and sang beautifully. However, since most of them are only available to record at night, we will have our days essentially free. Local missionaries Coby and Hessle invited us to an event at the nearby game farm owned by the same church which owns their compound.

The plan was to head out to the farm at around 8:00 AM. Along with some visiting students from Canada and Gabarone, and many Naro, we were going to count the animals on the farm. Each person would get a "line" to walk of 1 to 5k and would count animals spotted to one's right. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see distinct-to-the-Kalahari wildlife up close. We'd have lunch at 1:00 o'clock and be back in plenty of time to make a 5:30 PM recording session.

I was assigned to walk a 10k strip about 50 meters from a fence. To my right, individuals were spaced at 100 meter intervals. We were told that we would meet others coming from the opposite direction who had started walking an hour or so before us.

It became apparent only a few steps into the bush that the likelihood of actually seeing someone somewhere within 100 meters was actually very low. Had I not been walking near the fence, I would have become thoroughly lost. As it was, I knew that if ever I lost sight of the fence, I need only ease left until I caught a glimpse of it. I learned later that a number of people from the student groups had gotten so completely lost that they had come out on the road only a few feet from where they had started.

I maintained a reasonably straight course myself, parallel to the fence, zigging and zagging a bit to avoid particularly dense patches of sticker bushes. Most of the bush seems to consist of sticker bushes, though, so I was soon stuck from knew down by various kinds of prickly things. Some bit deep enough to draw blood. I ran out of snacks. I ran out of water. I kept saying to myself, "I'm deep in the African bush!!" I realized that had my wife Eshinee been on this trip, she would never have let me walk out into the middle of nowhere (this latter realization actually hit most strongly when, as I was being dropped off on the side of the road, a snake was spotted; "A bite from that will take your leg right off," one of the other riders had said. On the road, you can see a snake. In the bush, you have no idea what's under your feet). I thought on this more as I continued not to meet anyone coming from the other direction. The shadows grew long. I began to feel my sunburn along about 2:30 PM.

Eventually, I decided I must have come too far. I eased left and found my way back to the road. Before too long, I was picked up by a truck from the lodge. I had walked 7k of the 3k I was supposed to have walked and had become listed as one of the "missing." The driver was a part of a search party looking for me. Kedra and Coby were also among the missing.

When I got back to the lodge, several search parties were being sent out to look for Coby and Kedra. I told them where I'd last seen the women. By 5:00, some of the searchers were returning empty handed.

The sun began to set at 6:00. People around me were saying that there was no way to find someone after dark in the bush. I had been worried about missing the recording session, but for the first time I started worrying about my colleagues lost in the bush. What would happen if the search parties had to wait until morning to resume the search? Given how cold it had been the previous night, I wondered if they could even survive.

But the moment the last bit of orange disappeared from the
horizon, a pair of trucks drove up to the lodge, the Naro hanging onto the larger howling in triumph. Both ladies had been found safe and sound... only hungry and a bit sore in the legs.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rob's blog: 5.22.2006

The bus snorted like an angry boar and took off into the cold dawn.
Kedra and I took a bus ride into the middle of nowhere. Early stops at modern markets where Toyotas dropped off travelers gave way to tin shack stands selling fruit and "fast food or takeaway." By the time the condensation had evaporated from the windows, the world outside had become rolling hills, yellow grass, and sparse, spiky trees as far as the eye could see. The hills flattened. An occassional ostrich could be seen along the roadside, as well as more common animals such as cows and donkeys. Stops became less frequent and little more than a patch of dirt alongside the paved highway. I wondered where the people who awaited the bus had come from... and where those who got off were going.

Finally, the bus arrived in Ghanzi, about 20 minutes from D'Kar, where the Naro song workshop will be conducted.

The choir performed for Kedra and I in the evening, a private concert of many of the songs they would like to record for their new CD/tape. They seem to be well-rehearsed and the music is beautiful. Our schedule for the recording is ambitious: the choir wants to record 25 songs and have a master disc and tape by Saturday afternoon. This gives us four days. And, only a few hours in the evening each day, because most of the choir members have jobs during the day.

Rob's blog: 5.21.2006

Inside a church.

Rob's blog: 5.20.2006

Today, John Cook showed Kedra Larsen and I around the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sick day

I may actually have one today. I'm not super ill or anything. I just have a general weakness and a sore throat. I think I got what nephew Nonny has. I'm just going to keep on the fluids and vitamin C today, see if I can't nip this in the bud. I have to be completely on top of things by Friday morning.

Well, my emailing is done and I've paid bills. I have some paperwork that I can do lying on the couch. It's a beautiful day here today, sunny with a lovely fresh breeze. I have the windows open so I don't end up hotboxing with my own stale, sick air. When I get back from computering here at the library, I think I'll head straight to the couch.

Well, duh!

I am such a dork. I was checking out our bank accounts online, paying bills and the like. I noticed a purchase that I hadn't made on our Mastercard and was, like, "Huh ... that's fishy." Then, I noticed that there were several charges that I didn't recognize.

Then, I remembered that Rob's in Africa using our credit card. Then, I felt like a dork. Now, I'm kind of enjoying watching his purchases appear. Like being there. Here's what he's spent money on recently:
  • $14.62 - at a store on May 17
  • $3.17 - at Cafe Ritazza, also on May 17. I think both of these were at the Johannesburg airport; Kedra had told him to check out the music store there. I can just see him now, reading his new African music book, drinking his latte. Romantic idea.
  • $18.46 - at Musica Riverwalk, on May 19. He would have been in Gaborone by then. Another music store; no big shock there. Probably found some local band's cd, checking out the production quality, getting a feel for local production esthetics.

It'll be amusing to see how close my guesses are.

Monday, May 22, 2006

President's window

This is the window that the students here at LTSS commissioned for our departing president. Isn't it pretty? It's the LTSS logo.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A picture of Rob in Botswana

Kedra emailed me this picture that she took of Rob. If you want to see a large version, just click on the picture.

Greensboro trip

It was great to see Lily, Matthew and baby Nonny. I also got to hang out with the in-laws (Matthew's relatives) at his cousin Heather's graduation party. We went to Peace Lutheran Church this morning. I was well received, glad that I connected with them. We had a great Southern pot luck with the church before we hit the road; they headed back to VA, I headed back to SC.

I had a bit of a rainstorm for the last hour on the road but managed to miss all the traffic in Charlotte that was anticipated due to a race being held in the city. I'm not sure what kind of race. There were signs for 50 miles outside of Charlotte warning about traffic problems due to the race. I'm pleased that I made it there and back safely. Made a few wrong turns along the way, got lost every time I tried to go anywhere, but never lost my cool. I'm getting better at driving ... thanks be to God!

Now, I'm home. And I should go home and eat something. I just had run over here to the SUB to blog and check email real quick before I could relax for the evening.

Rob's blog: 5.19.2006

Today has been a light day. I'm still spongy from the trip and folks are allowing me to take it easy. Kedra and Richard needed to go over a survey they took of media needs amongst the Mbukushu people. I joined for part of the meeting, just to see how it was done. Richard's job is, as he puts it, "motivational." He provides initial contact with language and people groups looking to develop language materials. He'll often do some initial Bible translation work and determine whether the group is interested in and motivated to produce their own local language materials. He said it takes about five years for a group to decide whether or not to begin work on mother-tongue language materials. At which time, missionaries may be recruited to coordinate Bible translation and vernacular media projects.

I also walked around the property a bit.

A church down the street.

Tomorrow, we'll be going into Gaborone (the capitol of Botswana) to do "touristy" things.

The view from my window.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I may not have internet access this weekend so the blogs may not happen. However, if my brother-in-law brings his computer, we're golden.

Expect postings on Monday, though.

Getting ready for Greensboro

I just bought my ticket for the trip to WA at the beginning of June. Now, I've got to go home and finish packing, eat lunch and hit the road. I'm going to attempt to miss all rush bours everywhere by hitting I-20 at noon. 'Tis a 3 hour trip; prayers are desired by me, for me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rob's blog: 5.17.2006

A picture of Botswana showing off it's "California-like" quality.

Early Morning
Dawn arrived with tan light in the window.
That's all I could see from my aisle seat: tan light. The pilot
announced that we'd be on the ground in Johannesburg in less than an hour.

I got perhaps four hours of sleep on the flight. I remember
looking at my watch at 3:00 AM, then having my mouth suddenly
completely dry. Looking again at my watch, I saw that it was 6:00 AM. I got up, drank some water, then lay back down. Then I noticed that my arm had gone to sleep in its awkward position on the seat rest. Looked at my watch. Just after 7:00.

I was picked up at the airport by LBT missionaries Richard and John Cook and Kedra Larsen. On the way out of Gaborone, we stopped at several places to pick up needed things. They made a stop for me at the one Apple store in Botswana to pick up some software I could use to diagnose my computer's continued inability to stay started up. The manager of the store told me they didn't have any software in stock and he'd never heard of "Norton Utilities." Not sure what to make of that.

I had heard that... and was strangely pleased to see that... Botswana looks much like Southern California where I grew up: A thick carpet of yellowed grass, scrubby green trees, bouldered mountains off in the distance. I even saw a lot of the small, flat-roofed buildings you see all through the inland part of the state. Richard told me that a lot of fruit is grown around here. "I can't eat bananas in the States anymore. Not after eating these!" And sure enough, the banana he handed me was among the finest I have eaten.

I made it until 7:45 PM before, so exhausted that it seemed like I was looking at the world through an agitated swimming pool, I took my leave and retired to the attic bedroom which had been prepared for me.

Rob's flight to Namibia

This is a picture that he took from the air, up there, somewhere ...

In his own words (forwarded to me so I could post them):

Early Tuesday morning.
I'm writing on the plane. We're
expecting to be taking off in any moment.

I'm actually going to
Africa. I realize I've been having to remind myself of this out loud
regularly for the last few weeks. After three years of preparation and
a full year of training, I'm on the verge of actually "doing my job."
I'm actually en route.

I'm excited, very excited, most of the time.
But every once in a while, like right now, I become anxious. It's not
unlike a situation I experienced at the public pool as a child. You see
the other kids on the high dive and think, "That looks fun." And it's
not really that far down. You get in line feeling excitement.
The anxiety comes only at the top of the ladder. It seems a lot farther
down when you're actually on the edge of the diving board. You can't
exactly turn back, nor can you make yourself bounce-bounce-JUMP off the
edge of the board.

Mid-Day (I think)
crossed so
many time zones at this point, I'm no longer sure what time it's
supposed to be. One of my prayer requests for this trip was that it
would be "uneventful." I'm always worried that something will go wrong:
that there will be a delay in a flight that causes a missed connection,
that bags will get lost, that something important will be forgotten.
None of that has happened on this trip. Everything has gone very
smoothly in the senses where I'm always afraid something will go wrong.
And I've received unexpected bonuses: there's very few people on this
flight, so everyone has a whole row! But perhaps things are too
uneventful. Two things have gone "wrong." Each very minor,
but taken together they have caused my trip to be so uneventful as to
be maddeningly boring. The flight from Washington DC to Johannesburg is
about 12 hours in the air, with a one hour refuelling stop. Long
flight, but every seat has video-on-demand. Even economy! And you have
computer games and movies and everything. A few of the movies, enough
to fill at least 8 of the flight hours, were once I actually wanted to
see. However, all of the screens in my row didn't work. And, because
everyone had taken a row by this point, there was no place I could
relocate to. So, I determined that I'd have to just read my book. I got
all high-tech this trip and, instead of bringing paper-books, I checked
out a bunch of e-books from the library to read on my computer. When I
was about 100 pages in to Michael Moore's
Dude, Where's My
the computer locked up (serves me right for reading Moore,
some of you are saying) and refused to restart. I've sometimes had
trouble getting my computer to restart after a crash on a battery, so
this isn't the end of the world (as far as my computer goes), but it
does mean I don't have any way to entertain myself.

Library book

... they found it. It was on a cart to be reshelved and it just hadn't ben checked back in yet.

Rob's foot

By the way, Rob is exhibiting gout symptoms. He has NSAID's with him to quell any potential flare-ups. For more info on gout and treatment, click here.

More Rob news

Here are the highlights from the email I just got from Rob:
  • There was an Apple store that he went to but the guy working there didn't even know what Norton Utilities was and, so, was unable to help him.
  • The computer problem is that it starts and only runs for a short while. He says it's running for longer each time he uses it. That's just weird.
  • His foot is acting up again and he had to take an Advil. He thinks it's because of the pressure of flying for so long.
  • They're staying in Gaborone this weekend and will be going rural next week.
  • He finally got a full night's sleep but is still (his words) "spongy".

As for me, I am going to help Amy move today, finish emails and prepare for my trip this weekend. I have to print out directions and maps as well, now that I can't access my beloved Streets & Trips. Sigh. GPS ... no good to me without my laptop. Double sigh.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On the home front

I booked a speaking thing for this weekend in Gibsonville, NC, at Peace Lutheran Church. I'll be doing the Sunday School session and setting up our display in the fellowship area.

Last night, I went to the Melting Pot (a fondue place) with a bunch of the girls for chocolate fondue. Yummm! I finished off my last novel (Three, by Ted Dekker) befrore bed. Then, it occurred to me that reading a thriller (even a Christian one) before bed on my first night alone in the apartment was not the smartest thing I had ever done. So, I whipped out the book on lingustics for Greek students that Dr. Enermalm Tsiparis had given me, read about a third of that. That successfully distracted me and I fell asleep uneventfully.

Got up this morning and helped Beth load her moving van. I will probably do more of that this afternoon. I'm going to dinner with her family (and a bunch of other folks) tonight. Hoping to keep myself socialized to distraction ... though I feel better having heard from Rob already.

I tried to book an additional event for Friday night in NC but got the "no solicitation" speech from the gatekeeper at that church so I'm going to stick with the one event that I have going on already.

Gotta email now, on this wonky keyboard. Feeling bad for Rob and his computer problems. Sigh. Needs prayer, that one.

I heard from Rob!

I just got this email from him. He has arrived safely in Botswana. He wanted me to forward this to his folks but, as they regularly read this blog and I only have their email address on the computer which is now at that shop, I thought posting it here would suffice. So, Dennis & June, here it is ... greetings from Botswana:

Hello Sni,

Just wanted to let you know I got in safely. Very long trip. Details later. Obviously, I'm not emailing you from my normal account. My computer seems to be having problems. Just my luck, eh? The one time I don't pack any repair software.

Botswana does look a lot like Southern California. yellow grasslands, shrubby trees. Will take some pictures soon. It's dark now.

Very tired, of course. But just wanted to let you know I arrived okay. Will try to send something for the blog sometime soon. Will probably have to email it to you and have you make it pretty. Burn that bridge when we come to it.

If you think about it, please forward this email to mom and dad. Don't know their email off the top of my head.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Well, sort of back, anyway. My computer's video card fried and it's attached to the motherboard so Rob and I drove it up to Waxhaw yesterday to put it in for repairs. I should be getting it back next week. It's been useless to me for a week now. I went through serious withdrawal.

Rob flew to Botswana this morning. We drove to the airport at 3:40AM. I drove back solo. Couldn't sleep well after that. I called Rob at 8AM and caught him in Washington, DC airport. We had a nice chat; much more coherent than the one we had had at 4AM, saying goodbye.

I met with a pastor this morning, at Ebenezer Lutheran church. I'm currently trying to line something up in NC for this Sunday as I want to drive up and see my sister, who will be in Elon, NC for the weekend. Afetr this, she's going to Korea for a year and I probably won't see her again before we go to Namibia for good so I wanted to be sure to see my new nephew at least once before they take off.

Trying to find a library book today that I turned in but the library staff has no record of me doing so and it isn't on the shelf. I know this to be true; I double-checked myself. I'm annoyed. I'm theorizing that when I left it on the counter to be checked in and walked away, it left the library in someone else's stack and didn't set off an alarm because, hey, it was already checked out. I'm not categorically opposed to being wrong myself but I searched our apartment and remember bringing the book back. So I remain a little bitter a having to "renew" a book I don't even have anymore to avoid late fees. Because, as they said, "either someone stole it, which doesn't happen, or ... [meaningful silence]". Argh.

I'm stopping typing now because I'm on the computer in the student union building and I have to keep correcting typos because the keyboard is so clunky.

And I quit coffee today; drinking only tea. Grumpy, me.

Friday, May 12, 2006

More on the Naro Choir of D'kar

Here's a bit more about the Naro Choir I'll be recording in Botswana. I have some MP3 files Kedra made for me from a ten year old cassette. I also have a Xerox of the tape's cover. Almost a bootleg, if I wasn't using the materials purely for educational purposes. And these are materials which are impossible to get through normal channels. The tape case has an essay. I think it was written by John Brearley, though it's uncredited. I'll excerpt it here, to give you a sense of what the music is like that I'll be recording.

The Naro Choir of D'Kar was started in 1989. This event had symbolic significance, not only for the wider community, but especially for the D'Kar and other congregations of the Independent Reformed Churches in Botswana. It was the first time that the Bush People (San) in this area put their own language to the tunes that they have learnt to love in their interaction with other cultures. Their traditional music is very different from all other African sounds (comprising intricate voice patterns - almost yodelling - with clapping and a shuffling type of dance), so it has been difficult to share it with others.

Adapting the music to their own style and rhythm, adding the beautiy of their click language and their own interesting harmonies, they wanted to show people that they too are children of God, equally capable of praise and prayer, but in their own unique style. A strong theme through the words of most of their songs is peace and harmony, and joy in the Holy Spirit.


Rob writing here again. Eshinee's going to be unable to blog easily for the next few days.

The good news is that Eshinee has finished her coursework here at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Though we haven't seen actual grades yet... I don't think they give out actual grades. It's all pass/fail. We know she passed everything. And most likely she passed with flying colors.

But two unfortunate things have happened in the last week or so. Nothing quite as extreme as having a murder in our front yard, but it's sure slowing us down.

Computer Trouble.
On Tuesday, Eshinee came back from a group study session for her final final, intending to relax by playing some computer games before settling in to an evening of intensive study. But, when she paused her game to answer the phone, she activated the BSOD ("blue screen of death" for you Macintosh users). I saw the error message before the screen went black (and then plaid, of all things), never to return. For some strange reason--I never remember these things--I was able to remember the error message long enough to type it into a search engine on my computer. Apparently, there's a well-known bug between Windows XP and nVida video cards which occassionally generates an "infinite loop." The bug has been around since at least 2001. Why no fix has been released is beyond me. Various forums offered various solutions--a kind of high tech voodoo. Everything from installing new drivers to blowing cold air from a hair dryer were suggested as "cures." Well, we tried them all that night, including annointing the computer with oil and praying over it. A next morning call to LBT's tech support guru confirmed that this was a known problem. Pretty much everyone who buys this particular brand of Toshiba laptop eventually has the crash. It tends to fry the video card. And because the video card is connected to the motherboard, Toshiba recommends simply swapping out the motherboard. Eshinee's computer is still under warranty, so we'll be able to have this done at no charge. The only issue is getting it to an authorized repair tech something which she won't have time to do until after I've left for Africa.

So, Eshinee is without a computer. She doesn't know what to do with herself.

The previous week, I woke up with my left foot swollen and slightly painful. The first day, Eshinee and I were manning a booth at LTSS. I made it there, walking slowly with a pronounced limp. Those who stopped at the booth suggested that I may have been bitten by one of the local fire ants. Some of the folks here had swelling like that from an ant bite. But when the swelling didn't go away for days, we began to suspect it might be something worse. Went to a doctor after six days. He confirmed that I had gout. I had only heard of gout before. It sounds like something awful, doesn't it? Like, "I went out drinkin' last night, met some girls... when I woke up, I had no idea where I was. And I'd caught the gout." A bit of internet research told us the following:

  1. Gout is considered an ailment of kings and geniuses. Well, I'm not a king, so...
  2. Gout is hereditary. And I learned from talking to my mother a few days later that both my grandfather and uncle had had it at some point in their lives.
  3. Gout is diet related. The most common association is with people who drink a lot of alcoholic beverages. While I do drink, according to the podiatrist, for my drinking to affect gout, I'd have to drink a bit more than my average weekly consumption every day. On the other hand, certain types of red meats (such as lamb) and legums (beans and lentils) can contribute to gout outbreaks. Well, at least half of my diet is beans and lentils. Oops. From now on, I'll have to follow the Chick Fil-A motto and "eat mor Chikin."

Here's the real problem: outbreaks of gout can last a few days to a few weeks. There's ways of treating chronic outbreaks, but there's no real way of treating an individual outbreak. The doctor gave me an anti-inflammatory (I'd been taking about one Advil a day; the new drugs are like 3 Advil, 3 times a day). He told me I should be sans-symptoms by Friday (today). While the swelling has gone down a lot, my feet are still pretty sensitive. I'm trying to avoid walking.

I could go back to the doctor. The problem is that even if he could see me today--and that's a big if--he'd recommend I go for some tests. Which would mean making an appointment with a specialist. Going in to see the specialist some time next week, getting my results back in a few days, then attempting a new treatment. But I'm leaving to travel to the other side of the world early Tuesday morning. There's no point in even going back to the doctor. My healing is in God's hands now. I'll walk slowly and take an Advil every day for the next two months if I have to... but I'd much rather have the famous healing touch of God's hand make me better. Preferably in the next few hours. And definitely by Sunday. Eshinee and I are co-preaching. And I want to be able to do it wearing shoes.

Friday, May 05, 2006

It was five years ago today...

It's our anniversary! Celebrate with us by checking out some of the last retail-available copies of our "Wedding Album," our first musical colaboration as husband and wife.

And congratulations to the nation of Mexico for gaining indpendence from Spain on this day in 1862.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reading Material for the Africa Trip

This is Rob. Eshinee normally writes this blog. Since I'll be flying off to Africa for a month in a half in a few weeks, we wanted to make sure that I could blog here. If you're reading this, then, well... it works.

I'll be in southern Africa for six weeks. The first part of that will be in Botswana, with the latter four weeks in Namibia. There's songwriting workshops on the first and third weeks, a survey on the second, and projects TBD on the final two. Details are in the upcoming newsletter. If you aren't receiving the newsletter, either via mail or email, and would like to, make sure you contact Eshinee via this site and give her the appropriate address.

I'll be travelling with Kedra Larsen, an LBT ethnomusicologist. Kedra has been based in Chicago, making trips to various parts of the world. After this trip to southern Africa, I'll be taking over that region, allowing her to focus on other parts of the world. I'll be watching how she does things, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

The first week, we'll be conducting a songwriting workshop with the Naro of Botswana. The Naro Choir is a great ensemble. Kedra gave me two tapes they'd recorded before. Very exciting stuff. Some things which sound, to my ear, like west African rhythms, with dense South African harmonies, and some traditional Saan instruments and melodic styles.

Kedra gave me three articles to read, so that I'll be as knowledgeble as a I can be about this region and their musics:

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. "Botswana." ed. Stanley Sadie. 2nd Edition. Vol 4. Macmillan Pub 2001.

Wood, Elizabeth. "Traditional Music in Botswana." In The Black Perspective in Music. pp 13-29

Valiente-Noalles, Carlos. The Kua: Life and soul of the Central Kalahari Bushmen. A.A.Balkema/Rotterdam/Brookfield. 1993. pp 175-186

She also gave me two tapes by the Naro Choir: "Ncoakhoe Songs" (which is a mix of Bible reading and traditional Saan music which contains musical drones and whistled harmonies over repeated lyrical motifs; there is no date on the recording, but I know it was recorded some time before the second) and Freedom Over Me! (which features more South African-styled dense harmonies, from 1995).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rob getting ready for Africa

This is Rob writing today. You'll be hearing more from me in the next few weeks as I prepare to and head into the field for a month and a half.

In preparation for my trip to southern Africa in a few weeks, I bought some recording gear. It's like this, about six months ago, I made up a list of things I thought I would need to do vernacular media work in the field. After some discussion, my list was approved by my bosses at Lutheran Bible Translators. But I can't actually buy any of the items with mission funds... Because right now, there aren't any. The problem is that on my top ten list of things I hate is that I hate to do a mediocre job when a good job is possible. And part of doing a good job is having the right equipment.

Kedra Larsen, my counterpart and predecessor in the ethnomusicology and vernacular media work for Lutheran Bible Translators in this part of the world, gave me two albums by the Naro Choir, one of the ensembles we're going to be recording. It's lovely music with dense harmonies, polyphonic rhythms, and sparse, exotic instrumentation. I've been listening to the recordings over and over again and thinking... these guys have been practicing... I have to do right by them (check out a review of their first album here.

So I bought some new equipment. LBT will just have to reimburse me when the funding becomes available. Hopefully, folks will be more inclined to donate to the project once I have something to show for it. Or is that a backwards way of thinking.

The Recorder

Zoom PS-04I needed a portable digital recorder which could run on batteries. I'd used minidisc, and found the implementation awkward. Kedra hates them more than I do. I kept erasing tracks when I was trying to name them. Kedra has found files corrupt when she tries to move them over to her computer. In our line of work, that's a disaster. I looked at some of the solid state units. The Zoom PS-04 Palmtop Studio looked really cool, until I realized that it could only record about 12 minutes of uncompressed audio. Wouldn't get me very far.

I did my research and was ready to buy a M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 or an Edirol R-1 when I called my representative Nathan Roemer at Sweetwater. Sweetwater, by the way, is the best place in the world to buy musical instruments and audio gear (If you don't believe me, call them up. Tell them I told you to. You may get a better deal... and... uhmm... I'll get a discount next time I buy something).

Nathan (pictured left) recommended I take the next step up to a Marantz PMD660. The Marantz is better than the other two devices because it contains a decent built-in mic, as well as two balanced inputs. Plus, it's a Marantz, so I'll have it the rest of my life. Like, if I'm caught in a sandstorm or something, you may not find me, but you'll find the Marantz... it it'll still play. Or that's the press, anyway. It looks almost exactly like a vintage Star Trek tricorder too, which is kind of cool.

The Marantz and the Tricorder.

Separated at birth?

The Microphone

My choice for a microphone was a nobrainer. I'd seen rave reviews for the Rode NT4 which compared it favorably to microphones costing ten times as much. It's supposed to be able to capture highly realistic stereo recordings and is especially recommended for recording choirs.

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I gave my credit card number to Nathan. But he assured me that if I wasn't completely satisfied, I had 30 days to return the products. Of course, in 30 days, I'd be somewhere in Africa and... well, if I had to return them then, it would be because my goals of making lovely recordings of the Naro and Khoekhoegowab programming had been thwarted completely.

I needed to test this stuff out.

The Test

Eshinee and I messed around with the gear for a while when it first came in. Then I had the idea of recording the choir of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, where she is a student. Chor director Dr. Hawkins (pictured at right) graciously allowed me to record the choir rehearsing. The recordings were so real... that's the only way I can describe them... like, during playback I was so sure that the organ was still playing and people were still singing... until I took my headphones off. When I told Dr. Hawkins that I hadn't actually recorded a complete song (I kept changing settings and microphone placement as I got used to the recorder and mic setup), he asked if I could come back on Wednesday and record some complete songs. So, I returned on Wednesday and recorded two complete songs (and a few warmups and one false start). The longer song was a version of "Te Deum Laudamus" by C Villiers Stanford. We also recorded a version of "Jubilate Deo" by Dale Wood. The latter is a comparatively modern composition, but the former is a classical work in the public domain. Therefore, I've posted the recording on my musical scratchpad website. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy Birthday ...

... Kate! Wish we were there ...

And, as for myself, I have nothing in particular to report. In fact, I have to say that I may not be posting anything for the next week. I have a term paper on Galatians 5:15-21 due a week from today and, despite having put in at least 25 brain-hours so far, I'm just starting to get a handle on it now. I have a final exam in Greek a week from today as well so that's going to chunk into my time somewhat. Then, I have my Pauline Studies final that Wednesday.

So, I may not have time to report anything for at least a week. But, then again, I won't have anything to report either.

Here's what might possibly turn into an excerpt from my soon to be written paper:

'In verse 18, Paul says, “If build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.” In an English reading, this seems to carry the implication that Paul is not building things up and therefore is not demonstrated to be a transgressor. The difficulty with this is that the use of ei with a present indicative shows that this is a real condition. Therefore, this could be read as Paul saying that he is actually building something which he once tore down. As this sentence is followed by an explanation (preceded by gar), that Paul “died to the law”, we can safely assume that it is not the law that Paul is claiming to rebuild. This is despite the fact that the law, or justification by means of it, is the only thing which Paul “tore down” (kataluw) within this letter. In fact, it is the only thing which Paul has ever claimed in his writings to tear down. Therefore, to ascertain what it was that Paul “tore down”, we need to look for other destructive activity attributed to Paul by himself in this letter.'

In a future posting, perhaps, the mystery demystifies somewhat ... I hope ...

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