My Blogoversary

I started this blog 4 years ago. My Blogoversary was yesterday. I started it as I was getting ready to leave Sun Microsystems. Sun is where I started blogging in September of 2004. Sun was a fantastic place to learn about blogging. It was very nurturing and supportive and encouraged people to be authentic. My Sun blog is still on the Sun blog site.

Now that Sun is being bought by Oracle and presumably will be swallowed up I wonder what will happen to the Sun blogging program. By googling Oracle blogs I see that they do have an Oracle blog site but it doesn't seem as free wheeling as Sun's. At Sun anyone could blog about anything as long as we followed some common sense rules about not sharing secrets etc. I think Sun's blogs have a really authenticity which is a reflection of Sun's culture.

In thinking about the fact that Sun blogs could go away I recently decided to print out my old blogs so I would at least have a paper back up. It has been fun to look at the blogs I wrote five  years ago.

American Lion – Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

I'm working on reading a biography of each American president. I just finished American Lion by Jon Meacham about Andrew Jackson our 7th president.

Meacham says:

"Running at the head of a national party, fighting for a mandate from the people to govern in particular ways on particular issues, depending on a circle of insiders and advisers, mastering the media of the age to transmit a consistent message at a constant pace, and using the veto as a political, not just a constitutional, weapon, in a Washington that is at once politically and personally charged are all features of the modern presidency that flowered in Jackson’s White House. Jackson was a transformative president."

I found it interesting to see how so much that was new in Jackson's time is still with us today. For example I didn't  realized that before Jackson presidents only used the veto when they believed legislation was unconstitutional.

Jackson was also the first president not from the east coast. He was from Tennessee. Duke and I visited his home, The Hermitage, when we were in Nashville on our honeymoon.

Improving my Podcast Quality – Podcasters Emporium – Buying a mixer.

As you may know I have recently started a Podcast. I published my first show a month ago and am working on show number two. I am a total neophyte when it comes to podcasting. I am good with technology. It was my career for 30 years. But I have zero experience with sound or recording.

I have been doing a lot of research on podcasting. I believe in learning by doing so I just dove in and published my first show. I'm glad I did it. It was a lot of fun and I think the content turned out to be pretty good. But the sound quality was horrible. So I have been focusing on learning more about what is needed to produce a more professional show.

One of the resources I found which has become invaluable and has quickly become my favorite Podcast is The Podcasters Emporium, a show by two Australian guys James Williams and Dave Gray about how to improve your podcast. I like it because it isn't too basic but it also isn't aimed at experts. Plus I really enjoy the authenticity and personality of Dave and James. They have a great voice and a very engaging show. I think I need to start a side bar list of my favorite podcasts. The Podcasters Emporium will be on the list.

The first things I learned were all about gain, what gain is, and how I need to adjust it. This was covered in episode 11 of Podcasters Emporium. I suspect turning my gain down will make a very big improvement to my sound quality.

In studying ways to improve my podcast I also became convinced that if I am going to be doing interviews I need 2 mics. Handing the mic back and forth or holding it between the two of us just doesn't cut it. But if I use 2 mics I need a mixer. So I started shopping for  a mixer. My only complaint about Podcasters Emporium (and it is a minor one) is that it left me with the impression that I would need to spend at least $500 if I wanted a good enough mixer and mics. And I really don't want to invest a lot of money getting started.

So I posted a comment on Twitter saying  that I was looking for a good mixer but I thought I ws going to have to spend hundreds of dollars. One of my twitter and blogging friends Ryan of Ryan Jerz :: Reno Blogger responded almost immediately recommending the Behringer 802 8-Input mixer. The key things I learned from Podcasters Emporium were that I should buy a mixer with at least 2 XLR inputs and with phantom power. I didn't know what those things were but I learned that too. I went to my local Radio Shack store but the $30 mixer they had didn't have XLR input and the cheaper  Behringer mixer for sale on Amazon didn't have phantom power. So I ordered the 802 from Amazon for $59 and should be receiving it next week. Hopefully it will do the trick.

For now I am going to keep using my very cheap microphones but once I learn how to use the mixer I may be upgrading them too. If you have ideas or suggestions on other things I should know or do please let me know. Post a comment or email me.

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett and Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

I finished two books this week. One was literature and the other was pure escapism.

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett was the book club book for the month. It engendered a very interesting discussion. Ann Patchett is the author of Bel Canto and several other books. Truth and Beauty is her story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, the author of Autobiography of a Face.

The book is subtitled, "A Friendship" so I assumed it would paint a positive picture of friendship and would give me insight into what makes a good friendship. It did neither. None of the book club ladies liked the picture of Lucy painted in this book and in fact the lady next to me said that she found Ann Patchett to be passive aggressive. She thought this book was Patchett's way of getting back at Lucy. I agree.

I did enjoy reading Truth and Beauty for it picture of a codependent friendship. Patchett is a wonderful story teller. I found Truth and Beauty to be engaging.

While I was reading Truth and Beauty I decided I needed some escapism too. So I read Nora Robert's Chesapeake Blue. I think I like her books so much because I like the people in her books. They are pure fantasy but they are just real enough to draw you in and make you enjoy them.


Aidan has Minimal Change Disease Nephrotic Syndrome

While I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago I got a phone call saying that my grandson Aidan was at the doctor because he was having kidney problems. He was a healthy happy two and half year old and he had swelled up and put on 10 pounds of water weight. My heart sank. I don't want anything bad to happen to Aidan!

He saw a pediatric nephrologist (kidney specialist ) the next day and was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome. His kidneys are leaking protein into his urine. Because the protein is being lost there is not enough protein in the blood which causes fluid to leak out of the blood vessels into the tissue and cause the swelling that Aidan experienced.

I've been doing a lot of reading on the web sites my daughter, Shannon pointed me towards. I've learned that Nephrotic syndrome can be caused by a number of diseases. They hope his is caused by Minimal Change Disease. The treatment is daily doses of the drug prednisone, a steroid. The best web site I have found so far in my reading is the Nephcure site. Minimal Change Disease Nephrotic Syndrome is fairly rare. The doctor told Shannon that most doctors will only see one or two cases in their careers. It mainly occurs in children between 1 and 5 and happens more often to boys than to girls. Apparently the steroids work for many kids but the chance of relapse is high. The good news is that most kids grow out of it by about 12. Because steroids suppress the immune system one of the many worries is that Aidan will be very prone to infections while he is on the prednisone.

I remember how horrible it was when my 9 year old daughter (Aidan's Aunt) was diagnosed with diabetes. You just don't want anything bad to happen to your kids. You want to protect them and a chronic disease that requires constant monitoring and vigilance is overwhelming and very scary. Aidan's Mom and Dad are trying to deal with this one day at a time. They have to test his urine for protein every morning. Of course that is not an easy thing in and of itself when you are dealing with a 2 year old who is still working on toilet training. Apparently prednisone tastes bad so getting it down him can be a struggle too. He will be on steroids for a while. If he goes into remission they will wean if off the steroids but will continue to test his urine daily. If he has a relapse he will go back on the steroids.

I get a knot in my stomach every time I start to read about all the bad things that could happen but I am really trying to think positive and not worry about things that haven't happened yet. I know that worrying doesn't help. But that doesn't help much.

I also know that my worry is nothing compared to what my daughter is going through. I know she is an amazingly smart, strong and determined person and she has a great network of supportive friends and family. Aidan will get through this.