Music Files: By Request

Cover of my only commercial release.  Watercolor by Ernst Kotzin, my wife's uncle.

Cover of my only commercial release. Watercolor by Ernst Kotzian, my wife’s uncle.

I’ve had requests from some of my music loving friends for some samples of my own location recording, especially pipe organ.  I record for love of music and as a hobby.

These are available two way, either directly playable on your computer, or by download so you may play them where and with whatever you wish.  All files except one are of CD resolution.

The first recording is that last piece and encore from the dedication concert of the Memorial Pipe Organ of the Church of the Annunciation, Lewisville, Texas in 2003.  I found that instrument at the Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, FL a couple of years before.  It was a “fixer upper” with an illustrious heritage.  Redeemer had a multi-million dollar gift to replace it from the John Ringling North family and were offering it for less than the value of the scrap tin in the pipes.  Fact is, though, it was still playing beautifully.  However, they needed it out of there to get their new one in, so the deal.  I’ll mention only the very basic facts about it here.  It started life as an E. M. Skinner and had those irreplaceable Skinner classic string stops that bring tears.  It was expanded later by Moller, and refurbished by McManis.  As I found it, it was 58 stops.   It was rebuilt by Patrick Murphy of Philadelphia, shipped to Texas and installed and tonal directed by Dan Garland of Fort Worth as a 28 stop instrument with room left to add a solo and choir division at a later date.  This was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  Bradley Welch, winner of the 5th Dallas International Organ Competition, played the dedication.

This was recorded using a DAW (digital audio workstation) of my own design and construction, microphone preamp was a vacuum tube HHB Radius, the microphones were Oktava ML-52 ribbons placed about mid nave on the floor at what I felt was “the best seat in the house.”  The reverberation time at Annunciation is about 3.5 seconds and slap-free.  It’s one of the finest acoustic environments I’ve ever been in, and the best I’ve ever recorded in.

All these files are at 16/44.1 (CD resolution) except the Spanker and GuilmontWidor files labeled 24/88.2.  If the embedded player fails to appear and you see “Download:” in unbolded type instead, or the files skip too much, it’s your connection speed and you’ll need to download the files before playing, most easily done via the “Play or Download:” link.  For those with limited experience using Internet Explorer, just right click on the link and choose “save target as.”  Of course, this in the best way for audiophiles without a direct connection of their systems to the web.

Comments appreciated!

Play or Download:

24/88.2 Version
Direct Download: 23 Saint James Infirmary

Most of my recordings are serious music.  However, that’s as much due to circumstance as to preference.  Some years ago I got an opportunity to record a fairly successful Austin group called “The Asylum Street Spankers.”  I like their music and they are totally acoustic, even eschewing amplification for their singers.   The following is “St. James Infirmary,” a great jazz standard perhaps best known in performances by Louis Armstrong.  The recording was made live at the Saxon Street Pub in Austin.  I used two separate computers and four ribbon microphones.  One was a very advanced Digital Audio Workstation I designed to handle 4 streams at once, and I used it to record an experimental surround recording at 24/192.  It was quite daring for the time as the resulting digital stream was in excess of 25mbps and the recordings take up over 25GB.   The other machine was the front channels only at 24/88.2.  I’ve also provided here at transcode to 16/44.1 or regular CD resolution.

Play or Download: GuilmontWidorCD

24/88.2 Version

Direct Download: GuilmontWidor

J.S. Rheinberger “Abendlied.”  This is the “softer” side of this instrument, with choir.  Rheinberger wrote this hauntingly beautiful piece at age 16.

Play or Download: Abendlied

I made this recording of the 1861 Hook Organ of Holy Cross Church in Marine City, MI while on a trip to Washington state.  I happen to have basic equipment as I was planning to record my niece’s senior recital.  The piece was composed by Daniel John Susan, former organist of my parish.  He’d left as he didn’t see a future without a pipe organ.  It was due to this terrible personal and parish loss I set to work to get the instrument now there as I never wanted to lose such a wonderful MM again.  This is an improvisation on the Anglican hymn “Earth and All Stars.”  Daniel was apologetic about not having anything “concert ready,” but I think you’ll find this pretty extraordinary.  The instrument is, off course, totally mechanical except for the electric blower.  Beautiful image and more info on it at

Play or Download: EarthandAllStars

Worst acoustic problem I ever faced.  I’d have just said “no” except I’d promised my friend Paul Garner, DSO clarinetist, I’d record this piece.  It was part of a music festival in 2004 and he and other DSO musicians formed an “ad hoc” ensemble to perform the Schubert Octet for Strings in F Major.  It is scored for clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass and is one of the longest pieces of chamber music ever written at nearly an hour.  The location was a multi-purpose hall at Fair Park that seated perhaps 500 in folding chairs on a concrete floor with hard walls and ceiling, as well as a lot of loud side metal doors.  The stage was a nightmare.  Gorgeous view of a garden, as it had all GLASS back walls made even worse by having a 45 degree section on either side that basically formed a reflective horn.  Yikes.  The saving part was that I had my highest reach boom stand, so I put the ribbon mikes as high as possible, forward to the ensemble, and with equal distance to each player.  It was a plus that they were in a semi-circle arrangement.  I remain amazed that it sounds as good as it does.  The performance was truly excellent, with particularly wonderful work by the principal violinist on this movement, the final.

VI. Andante molto – Allegro – Andante molto – Allegro molto

Play or Download: Track06

This piece is another example of how I handle poor acoustics, not quite as bad as the above but still pretty poor conditions.  The recital was in a converted fire station, and it sounded like a small gym.  The audience was in folding metal chairs that were noisy.  I miked VERY closely and pointed the back lobes of the ribbons at the ceiling to minimize both the building as well as the ambient noise.  I’ll try to post the composer and piece, which escapes me at the moment.  However, it’s the final movement of a clarinet sonata with piano.  The clarinetist was Dallas Symphony principal clarinetist Paul Garner and the pianist is Michelle McDonald who is also heard in the last piece in this post.

Play or Download: GarnerMix

The last piece is from my only commercial release, which sold a few hundred copies in the DFW area.  When first approached by Michelle McDonald, pianist and producer, I was not happy with the venue.  It was the Mesquite Center for the Performing arts.  Acoustics are nice for large groups and when an audience is present, but, in my opinion, way too live for chamber music when empty.  However, it wasn’t my call and now I am glad it wasn’t.  I miked quite closely to reduce the empty hall returns, but left some space.  The resulting sound is pleasing to me.  This one is also a really excellent imaging test for your system.  I’ve never accomplished better imaging and you’ll hear the principal violinist on the left, then the cello, then the viola, and the piano with clarinet in front of it on the right if your imaging is good.  The violin is an Amati played by the principal second chair violinist (at the time, now retired) of the Dallas Symphony.  The piece is “Overture on Hebrew Themes,” Opus 34, by Sergei Prokofiev performed by the Hubbard Chamber Music Ensemble, Michele McDonald, music director.  It’s a really fun piece that provides a moment for each instrument, and several pairings, plus full band.

Play or Download: 019 Overture on Hebrew Themes

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The Root of All Rights

Perhaps the greatest statement of fundamental human rights in US or world history, and it has no force of law.

Perhaps the greatest statement of fundamental human rights in US or world history, and it has no force of law.

5 states now have “death with dignity” laws allowing some degree of personal decision on when one dies.  It’s time we ALL had the most basic human right.  The above grand statement clearly states that fundamental human rights aren’t subject to social infringement.  To the extent that they are, they become simply grants from the King, the Fuehrer, the Council, Congress, or your friends and neighbors.  Maybe that’s OK with you, but I find it intolerable.

Few Americans are not introduced to the above words early in life.  However, I think many would be surprised, even shocked, to find they have absolutely no basis in law.  Why?  It’s my believe that the founders never would have dreamed that after enshrining these words in our declaration of war against tyranny that anyone would question them as the basis for everything that would follow.  Anyone of them would have asked for poison, shot themselves, or obliged a fellow family member or citizen who was in a terribly painful and terminal condition to end their life.  The Bill of Rights was not intended to enumerate the basics.  In my opinion, it was to ensure there were no “grey areas” that Congress might dabble in and infringe on in the future.  Problem is that all of us became fixed on them and forgot these were not “grants,” but elucidations based on that sweeping statement above this piece:  Every human has a basic right to sovereignty over their own person.  The right to end one’s own life is NOT something that should be debated or discussed.  If it is infringed in any way, you have NO rights except those granted by your peers and superiors.

It would appear at first glance that all one would need to do is go to the Supreme Court.  Problem is that the Supreme Court (well, at least in theory) is charged only with determining if a law is constitutional or not and remember that those words above ARE NOT TO BE FOUND IN THE CONSTITUTION.  Sorry for the caps, but I believe few give this enough thought.  A really fine legal mind might be able to argue successfully that those words represent the intent of Congress, and therefore law, but it would have to be one heckuva a passionate lawyer to convince the court after a couple of centuries of precedence to the contrary.  After all, while not “law,” that document starts with “In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776…”

But the main point of this post is this:  If we have no right to end our own life, we have no rights of any kind.  “Rights” that are simply grants of the state are not “rights” at all and are subject to change at any moment.

Think about it…

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Attention Audiophiles and Music Mavens…

UPDATE:  I’m leaving this up, but the exercise itself is complete.  Those interested can read the discussion

SUMMARY:  Chopin1 was recorded by me in 1998.  Who, what, when, where, and how is described in my blog entry “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future” which can be found at the top of this page.  Chopin2 was recorded by Robert Silverman and a group from “Stereophile” magazine using around 10 times or more expensive equipment.  If you don’t want to digest the above link, the gist of the opinion was that mine was preferred by most of those responding.  Not a “landslide” vote, but adequate to suggest what many audiophiles have felt for years:  The “pros” aren’t all that much to write home about, in way too many cases.  I am leaving the downloads available if you’d like to try this yourself.  I now return you to the original post…

Your opinions please.  Herewith attached there are 2 files, Chopin1 and Chopin2.  Your opinions of the engineering and general qualities of the recordings are solicited.  Once a sufficient number of comments and thoughts have been received the details about each recording will be posted here.

Klipsch Forum members feel free to respond there, others via comment here or on my Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Of course, best served on your best system…

Play from web or download:



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But I was in shock


Jennings Elizabeth Mallette, self-portrait 2011

Jennings Elizabeth Mallette was born on Ash Wednesday, 1998.  Within minutes of her birth, her pediatrician knew things were not right and she was transferred to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.  The next morning, my wife and I stood by her bedside as a cardiologist told us “Your daughter was born with a condition not compatible with life.”  Jennings begged to differ, and for the next 13 years lived in grace, beauty, and happiness that changed lives all around her.  For the first 3 years of her life she underwent 3 open heart surgeries and spent half of it in the hospital.  On her own, she developed a relationship with Jesus Christ that He was simply her Friend.  They walked and talked together.  I hope she will introduce me someday.

It’s a story I’d love to write someday, but at this point am sharing the below piece I wrote a couple of weeks after her interment as the shock wore off.

May 16, 2011.  I have dispassionately examined the third degree emotional burns over 95% of my body and felt nothing but that the wait for death wouldn’t be too long.

But I was in shock.

I’ve had my wife call me at the office and tell me an ambulance was in route to the house, but might not transport…but I should come anyway.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sat at as a slow, long freight train stood between me and my home listening to “The Front Row” on KUHT.

But I was in shock.

I have entered an ER and observed a huge EMT repeatedly crushing my daughter’s chest and simply watched the numbers on the monitor rise slowly while I held my wife, knowing he was unaware that CPR would be of little help with a two chambered heart.

But I was in shock.

I have seen a pediatrician perform a retinal response test on my stabilized daughter, then look sadly at a nurse nearby and slowly shake his head.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as the radiologist reported that the CT scan showed general diffusion of the lobes of the brain, but she might just sit up in the morning and ask for something to eat…all the while knowing better.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as an eminent neurologist at one of the world’s finest children’s hospitals said in the same paragraph that my daughter is already gone and that she might be just fine.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood looking at the massive suture lines and huge fluid accumulations on my daughter’s head and wondered where the two powerful angels a parishioner had proclaimed watched over her the first time we ever took her to church.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as the last neurologist reported the same answer independently of the other three my wife ordered.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to my wife choke out “This is all I’ve done for 13 years!  What will I do now”  as she realized she’d just spent 13 years, 24/7 becoming the world’s foremost specialist in Jennings Elizabeth Mallette and the field had just ceased to exist.

But I was in shock.

I’ve told my wife that 11AM will be about right to shut off the ventilator and that I am ready.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to the LifeGift representative desperately plead for six more hours so they can be ready for the organ harvest and said “No, we cannot wait that long” while my daughter said in my heart “I can’t wait to share with ALL my friends.”

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to the LifeGift representative return and say “How about 2 hours?” and my wife and I simultaneously and with a burst of joy say “YES!”

But I was in shock.

I’ve entered my daughters room to find it filled with seasoned medical professionals in tears…and they lose one every day.  But this was their Jennings.

But I was in shock.

I’ve crawled into a hospital bed a few minutes before the appointed hour and placed my cheek next to that warm, soft skin and sung “The Lord’s Prayer” almost flawlessly as I’d done so many times before she was to sleep.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood with family, friends, ministers, and medical personal
singing all five verses of “I am the bread of life” as I watched the little two chambered heart that had sustained “Daddy’s Bestest Goo” faithfully for 13 years  forced slowly to a halt from a lack of oxygen.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in awe looking at Daddy’s Bestest Goo in a stunning 13 year old forever dress holding the little New Testament in her hands looking so radiantly beautiful and grown up my heart swelled with pride.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in front of that coffin and discussed space travel with one of the world’s foremost space scientists when I should have been spending every moment staring for the last time at the child I so desperately loved.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sung all verses of three hymns as hundreds of people approached the communion rail and saw many that I knew had not knelt at such a rail in years, if ever, and marveled at my daughter’s fruit of love and testimony of simple faith in her real Father.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in the warm sun of a beautiful day at East Memorial Gardens not far from my mom and dad and placed my hand on the warm metal box containing the earthly remains of my heart, then turned and walked away with my wife.

But I was in shock.

I’ve reviewed the preceding week and suddenly realized my daughter entered into sleep in Christ from her favorite place at home and that those two powerful angel’s had asked her if she were ready and she’d said “Yes” and willingly went with them without asking us.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood on the low bridge at Ark Hwy 270 and the Cossatot River and watched the flowers we set free drift away on that crystal tide that flows past the throne of God.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sat in a chair next to my wife as my son and his cousin played gleefully in that river as flowers began to pass by in the solitude of God’s creation.

But I was in shock.

Now I sit in my office at home at write this.

I am no longer in shock.

I am now in pain beyond description as I realize I am unfortunately going to survive my 3rd degree emotional burns and will be in great pain for the rest of my life.

I’ve also realized that not to be able to bear it and move on would be an act of cowardice and shame in the light of her courage and love in the face of all that fate could throw at her.  So I am resolved not only to bear it, but to attempt to do so with the grace and dignity she demonstrated.

I’ve suddenly so wanted to vent, but finding only God to vent to realized that He’d answered the prayer I made at her birth that she was not my child but His, and that my only request was that she know she was loved and that she would always be happy.

So I can only offer Him thanks and look forward to the day my daughter takes my hand and says “Come’on Dad.  I want you to meet my Friend.”

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.


What can one do in 13 years?


Be a radiantly beautiful baby.

Welcome a new millennium with a funny hat.

Welcome a new millennium with a funny hat.

Show your little brother what Halloween is about.

Show your little brother what Halloween is about.

Love your little brother

Love your little brother

REALLY love your little brother

REALLY love your little brother


Love your little brother so much it’s almost hard to believe.

Be so constantly joyous as to infect your whole family and all near you.

Be so constantly joyous as to infect your whole family and all near you.

Radiate love at Easter

Radiate love at Easter

Be the most beautiful beach bunny on the beach.

Be the most beautiful beach bunny on the beach.

Love God's creation

Love God’s creation

Wrestle an alligator

Wrestle an alligator…and win.

Go to Disney World.

Go to Disney World.

Enjoy a snowfall in Texas

Enjoy a snowfall in Texas

Assume no log is too big to chop

Assume no log is too big to chop

Enjoy a crazy uncle

Enjoy a crazy uncle

Become a martial artist

Become a martial artist

Break a board with your bare hands

Break a board with your bare hands

Become an entrepreneur like your mother

Become an entrepreneur like your mother

Behold in wonder at the Grand Canyon

Behold in wonder at the Grand Canyon

See the Great Wall of China

See the Great Wall of China

Be loved, admired, and enriched by a great teacher

Be loved, admired, and enriched by a great teacher

Catch a fish

Catch a fish

Make friends everywhere you go

Make friends everywhere you go

Be very, very, very cool

Be very, very, very cool

Learn to ride a motor bike

Learn to ride a motor bike

Be happy and cheerful when others would complain

Be happy and cheerful when others would complain

Be achingly beautiful in death as you were in life.

Be achingly beautiful in death as you were in life.



The caption on Jennings stone comes from the day we gathered at Texas Children’s Hospital to shut down her body, which she had not occupied since the day before.  Her little heart, which we’d worried over for 13 years continued to function perfectly.  As family, friends, clergy, and other gathered around the bed to sing “I am the Bread of Life” as the equipment was shut off, a friend of ours heard a voice ask “What is it like outside today?”  She responded “It’s bright, sunny, and beautiful.”  Then she realized no one near her had spoken.  She looked around, and then heard a clear, strong young voice say to her “Don’t cry, mom.  It’s PERFECT.”  She knew who the message was from and who it was for.  This is only one story.  There were more I will not relate at this time.  Jennings was wheeled out of the room to another where her kidneys were harvested.  They were transplanted to a young man and an young woman.  An official called us and said “This does not happen.  Our scale is 1-6 with 6 being a perfect match.  It almost never happens.  This time, BOTH transplants were 6.  I have never heard of this before!”

Why is it that I am not at all surprised?

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A New World is Only a Decade Away

It is well known that I am a space cadet, and of the opinion that humanities fate lies in the stars and not on earth.

That said, here we are, and we have to make the best of it until folks understand that it’s only a lifeboat and supplies are running short.

So, here is something we can fix.  I am not going to throw out a lot of statistics, though I’ve reviewed a few and the numbers are staggering.  Since 1956, we have spent 6.3 TRILLION dollars on the Interstate highway system alone.  That does not count all the state, county, and local roads, which almost certainly account for at least as much.  Since 1980, 1.4 million lives have been lost on US highways.  If we assume an arbitrary, but not unrealistic value, of 1 million dollars per life, that’s 1.3 trillion dollars.

Some big, serious, impressive numbers there BUT IT DOESN’T SCRATCH THE SURFACE.  I don’t think I have ever used that many caps in a row, as it’s considered a pretty sorry excuse for good writing…but in this case, it is important.  UPS, pizza, groceries, buses, in fact, all vehicles now in use and used for any purpose to get either people or items from point A to point B. can and should be autonomous as quickly as possible.

The most conservative estimates are that commute times would be cut by 40% and freeway capacities doubled with autonomous vehicles.  Other estimates are much higher.  Estimates for accidental death are that it would be cut by at least 90%.  Let this sink in!

The actual implications are so startling as to lead to confusion.  It isn’t just about better safety and lowered costs of highways; it is an economic change that will dwarf that of the changes wrought by the automobile itself.

If you accept what I’ve just said and realize the incredible benefits, your next thought is probably “How are we going to be able to afford this, and how long will it take?

As usual, I have a “clever and cunning plan,” to quote Edmund Blackadder’s faithful servant.  The answers, in order are:

It will cost you nothing, and can be done in 10 years.  Here’s how.

1.       Freeze highway construction and complete only those projects now in progress. 

2.       Use the money saved to subsidize the entire cost of the automation system on every purchaser’s next new car.

3.       As projects are completed, keep the tax income steady to increase the pace of conversion.

4.       Make HOV lanes available ONLY to autonomous vehicles.

5.       Add the “fast lane” of freeways as soon as possible.

6.       Add lanes until only autonomous vehicle are allowed to enter a freeway.

7.       When autonomous vehicle saturation is reached, make manual driving illegal except in specified locations.

Undoubtedly plenty to debate there, but conceptually viable.  The potential for improvement in our lives, the economy, and the environment from such a program vastly outpaces any other area we could spend money on by huge amounts.  One or more persons you know and love will live if we do this, and will not if we don’t.

What would things look like in ten years?  Here is what I believe can be said without a doubt, as it is based on what we already know and have seen demonstrated.

>There will be no speed limit. 

Speed limits are for people.  Machines will always move at “reasonable and prudent” speeds because that is what they do.  This may be a hundred miles per hour or more even in a city if it is in a slack traffic period.  That is with current technology.  The ultimate speed limits for autonomous vehicles are governed only by physics and technology.

>Passenger rail of all types, commuter or long haul, will be obsolete. 

We are living in the past, planning for the past, and must wake up.  Unlike the Apollo program or the Manhattan project, the technology is already here and proven.  America can once again lead the world into a brighter future, and all we need is the will.

>Reliance on short haul air service will be drastically reduced.

Aircraft are notoriously inefficient for short hauls.  DFW to Houston, for instance.  However, they are relied on today even though the drive time isn’t much different from the amount of time spent getting to the airport, through security, and all the other overhead that comes with flying because the drive is difficult and laborious at the best of times.  At a hundred miles per hour, it’s only a little over 2 hours of productive time and you leave from your home or office and go directly to your destination with a reliability factor even greater than that of flying.

>Medium haul air service will be reduced as well.

An entirely new business will spring up based on autonomous technology.  There will be short, overnight, vehicles that feature seats that recline to make beds and some basic creature comforts.  These will be used for travel involving overnight trips of 1,000 to 2,000 miles and be rented.  Costs will be competitive to current air fares and cheaper than travel by current automobiles in taking less time and requiring no motel stays.  Longer, vacation or tour type trips will be done in autonomous RV-type vehicles with kitchen, bath, bed and such similar to today’s RVs…except faster, better, and cheaper.

>Many families will have only one car at most.

Cars will travel point to point, and then be used by others.  They may belong to private enterprise, the auto builders, government…my crystal ball isn’t clear on that, but it will be pointless to spend money on something that sits in your driveway much of the time.

I am not a “seer” and probably not even that well qualified as a futurist, but those things just listed require only the application of existing technology to realize.

The 20th century was molded by the likes of Henry Ford, Nicolai Tesla, John D. Rockefeller, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates who had the vision to make things happen.  I have little doubt they could see and fully understood what they were doing.  They built our world on new ideas and concepts that had to be built from the ground up.  What we are discussing here is not in that category at all, simply an extension of the technology and infrastructure built by these entrepreneurial geniuses.

We are living in the past, planning for the past, and must wake up.  Unlike the Apollo program or the Manhattan project, the technology is already here and proven.  America can once again lead the world into a brighter future, and all we need is the will.

ADDENDUM, 8 July, 2014

Not seeing any progress?  Well, 10 years is optimistic and assumes a “wake up.”  While I can’t guarantee there is enough intelligence in our leadership to fully grasp what is at stake here and do what needs to be done, I remain confident that free enterprise will do so.  The biggest no-brainer is the trucking industry.

Even if our personal vehicles aren’t autonomous as fast as we might like, we all have a lot to gain from the trucking industry converting their fleets.  In fact, so much to gain I won’t list all the benefits, but let’s just consider the improvement in our “conventional” driving experience.  Autonomous trucks on our freeways would no longer enter the passing lane and slow traffic for miles as they crawl ahead of another truck.  They would not make sudden changes with little or no signal into your lane.  If you needed to change to the right lane to exit, they’d sense your position and turn signal and provide you space, rather than either speeding up or ignoring you as they do now.  Further, their efficiencies would double or more in that they would never stop to sleep, have a few beers, or whatever.  Shipping costs would drop dramatically.  Accidents, always serious when a big rig is involved, would decrease exponentially.  Just a hint of the benefits, and it is simply a matter of implementing already proven technology.

ADDENDUM 4 August, 2014

Whilst chatting with my wife on a drive last Friday in Houston sluggish freeway traffic I allowed that one thing I would want in my next vehicle is adaptive cruise.  Thinking about that, as well as the lane control now available it made me realize that there is a “half-way” that is already easy, and could be implemented.  If all new vehicles were required to have at least adaptive cruise, and all existing vehicles that could be retrofitted were required to do so (even with tax money) we’d get probably half the benefit of completely autonomous vehicles much sooner.  It is obvious that much of both the frustration and the waste in traffic congestion is due to the slow response of human drivers and failure to maintain even spacing.  We are constantly either stopped or crawling, then sprinting a few hundred yards at up to 40 or so before coming to a halt again.  Adaptive cruise would greatly ameliorate that issue as well as prevent many such congestive situations in the first place.  While estimates are that implementing full autonomy would be like taking at least 4/5s of the traffic off the freeways, I am confident that adaptive cruise and requiring it’s use would produce half that benefit and do so almost immediately.   If there is a problem, it’s similar to the one about national leadership’s shortsightedness concerning autonomous vehicles in general.  The are always fighting the last war.

ADDENDUM 17 October, 2014

I may yet be proven to have been not too far off on the actual paradigm shift.  Cadillac has announced an essentially autonomous 2017 vehicle, available late 2016.  “Semi” in that one will be forced to keep one’s hands on the wheel.  Makes sense.  The laws aren’t ready and neither is the public for total autonomy.  However, the vehicle will handle everything…routing, speed. collision avoidance, lane changes, etc.  I predict GM will be overwhelmed with orders and soon drivers will be asking why they have to keep their hands on the wheel.  The technology will be rapidly deployed to lower priced vehicles.  Tesla has made a similar announcement.

So, wither insurance?  One doesn’t need to be a lawyer to realize one cannot be held accountable of the actions of a computer you didn’t build.  The makers will be responsible.  No more DUI or alcohol related accidents except those caused by total fringe nuts overriding their vehicles…which will be a crime sober or not.  I haven’t looked up the numbers, but I think it safe to say that billions and billions of dollars go to both auto insurers and litigation costs from accidents.  Hospitals get a lot of business as well.  Incredible sums tied up with all aspects of automobile accidents, an industry about to be reduced by 98% as this change takes place.  Good riddance!

We have all become resigned to highways perpetually being 10 years behind.  That will also end as we actually wind up with an oversupply.  Massive savings there as well, all returned to our pocketbooks.

All good news, indeed.


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Crossing the Bridge

What remains of the "Iron Bridge."  Perhaps it doesn't look so inviting, but this shot was made after the usual spring flash floods.  By summer, it is clear, rippling, and beautiful.

What remains of the “Iron Bridge.” Perhaps it doesn’t look so inviting, but this shot was made in early spring in 2009 after the usual spring flash floods. By summer, it is clear, rippling, and beautiful and the woods and banks green and lovely. We drank from it, and it was delicious.

Text of the eulogy edited for these purposes that I was privileged to be asked by my friend Paul Robins to deliver at his funeral.

1030AM, 19 October, 2013, East Funeral Home, Texarkana, USA 

Prelude to the service, Pete Fountain’s New Orleans LP, recorded about 1965.  Paul listened to it incessantly and played along with it to the point one could not tell Pete from Paul. 

 Gathering Prayer

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed us all with the gift of this earthly life
and has given to our brother Paul Robins
his span of years and gifts of character.
God our Father, we thank you now for all his life,
for every memory of love and joy,
for every good deed done by him,
and every sorrow shared with us.
We thank you for his life and for his death,
we thank you for the rest in Christ he now enjoys,
we thank you for giving him to us,
we thank you for the glory we shall share together.
Hear our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Paul in front of the Shelter, with Queenie.

I first heard the music you just listened to on Paul’s little record player in the apartment he and Ms. Vivian lived in at the Texarkana Animal Shelter.  He played the beautiful Selmer Paris clarinet his mother purchased for him, the finest money could buy, to that record and did so incredibly well.  Today, Paul Robins, who was born to this life the second day of June, 1947 and was born to eternal life 15 October, 2013, is playing that tune on an even finer horn provided by his heavenly Father.

Paul leaves behind, for a short while, his brother, Noel Wesley Cooper; son and daughter-in-law, John Paul Robins and Carmen; daughters Stephanie and Emily and his beloved mother, Vivian; grandchildren, Lauren, Will, Payton, Heidi, Fatima, and Colton.

Paul told me he’d love a New Orleans funeral.  If it were in my power, I’d have provided a Dixieland band today so we could march him out to Macedonia with St. James Infirmary wailing in style.    Paul and I surrendered our lives to Christ on the same night at Hickory Street Baptist Church, and were buried with Him in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever a few weeks later.  Paul served his country well as a Navy medical corps man and was honorably discharged.  For those grieving his departure, and perhaps wondering why at only 66, I offer these words from my own mother when I asked that question:  “David,” she said, “God never calls anyone home until their mission is complete.”  I have yet, even when I lost my beloved daughter at only 13, to find those words not to be true.

Paul’s home was a place of sanctuary.  When I visited I could never keep up with who was family and who was a temporary resident he was helping out.  Actually, there was no real way to tell as he treated all comers with respect and support.  I could go on speaking with you all about his love of animals, his joys and sorrows, and the incredible richness and depth of his life, but at this time I’d like to talk to my old friend personally.  While Paul was a very private person, I don’t think he’ll mind this time if you listen.

Addressing the casket
Yeah, Paul, you just crossed that noisy old iron bridge with its rattling timbers and creaking girders to that eternal campground.  We been to that river, ain’t we, that place where crystal clear waters run eternally accompanied by the sound of the timeless symphony of God’s creation.  That shining place where his innocent children know no pain, disappointment, or sorrow and where each dawn brings another perfect day of bliss.

Every day we spent there as children was a perfect day spent in gratitude for the boundless love and blessings from our Father.  We were perfect then, God’s pure innocent children.  You weren’t yet Sharky, and I wasn’t the fallen creature in need of grace I am today.  We didn’t know about sin, or death, or disappointment, we only knew the eternal moment of perfection and free will.

Well, you’re back there now, beloved friend.  I’m sure Diane already had the fire going and a pot of beans cooking when you arrived.  It will seem to you guys only a moment before you hear my Dad’s ol’ pickup truck coming, and you’ll see us waving as you look up at the old iron bridge.  We’ll scarcely have had time to greet each other before all the rest arrive.

Danny’s folks won’t mind his being there this time Emmett will finally tell my dad “Well, Mr. Mallett, I guess I understand now why you always said they were safer here than in town.”  That’ll be something, won’t it, old friend?

And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we hear sounds emerging from those gentle woods, and see ol Mickey bounding towards us.  He’ll likely be followed by Boz, Jinxy, Pat, Shorty, and Queenie.  Frito will probably show up as well, and maybe even Spunky won’t embarrass me anymore by getting hung up in everything trying to keep up with us.  Then we’ll sit around the fire and eat toast and Karo, and never run out of bread, and our Lord will be within us and surround us, as He always was, and always will be, and His love will fill us with eternal joy.

Bud, I know it was a long, rough road getting there.  After our first visit to that beautiful river, we wound up on different roads.  You had much pain, disappointment, and loss.  But you also had great joy and touched many lives on the way.  Diane got there before us, and you could hardly bear it.  You watched her waste away and probably wondered why your Father in heaven would allow one of his beloved saints to suffer so much.  I tried to help you with that by assuring you that while she appeared to be suffering, in fact, the intense love of Jesus she carried deep in her soul protected her against all things.  You heard her singing God’s praise in her final hours.  She didn’t want to leave you, and her children, but she knew you’d all understand when you joined her by that beautiful river, and that all things are in His hands, and we cannot fully understand that until we cross that ol’ iron bridge for the last time.

Not many people ever knew how you completely subordinated your own life to caring for her, because you didn’t talk about such things.  Some of her friends shunned you, because they did not understand that the mark of a Christian is not judged by their attendance record in Sunday School, or the fervency of their public prayers, but by such silent, devoted service to others.

James, the brother of Jesus tells us “What doeth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?” (Jas. 2: 14).

Those who judged you on this earth did not hear these words of James and were blind.  But you didn’t care.  You did what you did willingly, without complaint, and without yielding to the tempters taunt of

“Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die” as hissed at Job.  (Job 2:9).”

You told me so many times during and after this period what a fine Christian she was, and what an unworthy wretch you were.  My God, Paul, of all the saintly people I ever knew in my life, you stand alone as an example of everything our Lord asked of us as His servants.  You just laughed when I said that, but our Lord Jesus said:

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40).

I, for one, choose to believe what He said over the pulpit rantings of those who choose not to understand the true message of faith.

Our Lord also said: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

How many times did you give a friend, or even just a Samaritan by the side of the road, a “loan” you knew you’d never get back just because you knew it was the right thing to do?  And you never told a soul.  While others laid up treasure on earth, you quietly laid up treasures in heaven.  I am not sure you ever expected to see those heavenly treasures anymore than you expected those earthly “loans” to be repaid.  Now you know the eternal truth: It is those who do the right thing and expect absolutely nothing in return that our Savior prizes above all.

Your seeking of God’s will was deeply personal.  I always knew when my Dad was about to pull out his bible and preach to us, and that it would be followed by a seemingly endless prayer.  I’d warn you, and exhort you to go home and save yourself, but you’d often just look at me and hang around.  I suffered and wished mightily I was elsewhere.  I had no idea why you stuck it out.  But you stayed in the temple and listened.  Many times over the last few years you told me with tears in your eyes how much those ministries meant to you, and how my dad touched your life.  You also told me of the hours you spent with Fr. Richard C. Allen down at St. James Church, whom you found on your own, and how his saintliness and sacrifice touched your heart.  Somehow, it doesn’t surprise me that God led us separately to that great man of God, and that his example impacted both our lives.

Well, old friend, I’ve got to wrap this up.  I am going to miss our long phone conversations and our discussions over a few beers at your table.  But it won’t be long until we continue them down on that sparkling shore that lies across that ol’ iron bridge where you are now gathered with all our friends and family who’ve gone before.

Crossing that ol’ iron bridge was always scary, and I ‘m sure it was no different this time.  When it is my time, I hope you hear me crossing those rattling old boards, and I see you waiting for me at the other side.  The example of your faith has made my journey at lot easier, and knowing that you will be there to help me cross that chasm brings me joy.

Closing Prayer
Father of all mercies and God of all consolation,
you pursue us with untiring love
and dispel the shadow of death
with the bright dawn of life.
Give courage to this family in their loss and sorrow.
Be their refuge and strength, O Lord,
reassure them of your continuing love
and lift them from the depths of grief
into the peace and light of your presence.]
Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
by dying has destroyed our death,
and by rising, restored our life.
Your Holy Spirit, our comforter,
speaks for us in groans too deep for words.
Come alongside your people,
remind them of your eternal presence
and give them your comfort and strength.Now we ask that light perpetual shine upon our brother Paul,

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Please join me in singing one of Paul’s favorite hymns, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

“Shall We Gather at the River?
Based on Rev. 22:1-2            Robert Lowry, 1864

  1. Shall we gather at the river,
    Where bright angel feet have trod,
    With its crystal tide forever
    Flowing by the throne of God?


Yes, we’ll gather at the river, The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

2. On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.


3. Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.


Graveside, Macedonia Baptist Church

Under a perfect fall Arkansas sky, a unit of sailors in immaculate uniform rendered military honors to one of their own.  Taps was sounded flawlessly and lingered across the rolling hills as it faded into the woods beyond.  With all the respect and polished perfection that would be rendered unto a fallen President, the sailors folded the flag and presented it with a salute to John Paul Robins, Paul’s eldest son.

Closing Prayer

Unto Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the earth and the sea shall give up their dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

Now let Thy servants depart in peace, according to Thy word.


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And now for something entirely different…

Beautiful cover art, and great booklet, and case…all in German.

As might be deduced from my last piece by the astute reader, I am, to say the least, into music. In my main music room one may hear barbershop, classical Chinese opera, Buddy Holly, Pete Fountain, a mechanical band box, and a Beethoven symphony in a single evening. The next evening may bring an equally eclectic mix.

The wind instrument is a double aulos, a reed instrument heard on the CD.

Saturday was a day I’d awaited for a couple of weeks. The bright red padded container with custom markings from Deutschland arrived and I had it open as I bounded up the stairs to my music room. I popped it into my CD drawer, grabbed the thick, beautiful booklet that had come with it, and placed myself into the center of the curved sofa that marks the “sweet spot” in my system.

Got there just in time to hear a flute appear right in front of me from inky, acoustic darkness. It was playing in a magnificent first century triclinium, or Roman dining room that looked very much like the one pictured here…at least that is what my mind constructed. The flute was soon joined by a tympanum, a low pitched Roman drum similar to a large congo drum or African djembe. The warm summer air in the room was rich with the smell of sweet oils on the ladies as well as the men, all fresh from the baths and a good anointing with these fine oils and scraping down with a strigil. It was also heavy with garum, the fermented fish sauce, similar to that found in Thailand and Vietnam today, which served both as flavoring and as salt. In this fine home, of course, this wasn’t just ordinary garum, but garum sociorum direct from Spanish mackerel. Platters piled high with the fattest Dormice, fruits, exotic eggs, and fish. The sounds of the flute and tympanum rebounded effortlessly from the marble walls and stone floors without ever competing with the freshly minted sounds and returned to delight the ear several times before fading away like a sweet memory. The tympanum, when struck dead center by the master musician playing it, gently and provocatively vibrated my body physically.

It is metaphysically absurd for me to think I know what you hear, and equally insane for me to attempt to describe high-resolution audio’s effects on me directly. Therefore, the prose is a feeble attempt to transfer an experience that really has to be, like sex, experienced rather than talked or written about. All those images, aromas, and sensory experiences occurred on my first listen to this extraordinary recording I don’t think I moved for the first 5 or so tracks as images like this dinner party, an Entr’acte‎ from the arena, temple musicians singing a hymn to the goddess, and street music not heard in 20 centuries filled the room.

In my previous post on “What Happened to Hi-Fi?” I mentioned compression as a “stealth” weapon that has undermined music. Musica Romana, on their website, (link at end of post) has samples you can listen to. I’d done this and, by mp3 standards, they sounded really good on the excellent near-field speakers I use on my home office PC.  In near field, about 3 feet, they are comparable to my big system upstairs and what I heard was good enough to get me to order a copy. However, I did not see anything like the visions above and the sensory impacts described above as CAN happen with these little speakers when fed truly high resolution material. At least for myself, point proven. Compressed music looks like food, and tastes like food, but you starve to death on a steady diet of it without even realizing it. My mighty Klipschorns, on the other hand, opened a window directly to 20 centuries ago.

Back to the CD. I am not going to provide really in-depth detail on Musica Romana as if you are interested you can find out more on their web site, but a brief description is in order. They call themselves “musical archaeologists.” They are made up of musicians, craftspeople, and academics all dedicated to resurrecting the music long thought completely lost. They have discovered that both the Greeks and the Romans had written musical notation, something we’d not known until their work. Further, they’ve worked from remaining fragments of ancient instruments as well as from mosaics and written descriptions to reconstruct these instruments. Even more impressive, they have mastered them, and I mean mastered. Those readers who’ve struggled to learn an instrument from even an excellent teacher, or even harder, from a book, will certainly realize it must be REALLY hard when you don’t really know what the damn thing is supposed to do. Nonetheless, the evidence is on this disk they’ve done precisely that. I’d rate the performance as “A.”

This old wine cellar is ideal acoustics, with it’s brick walls, Roman arches, and stone floor. Truly authentic sound.

I am giving the engineering an A- for one reason: Use of some process echo in a few places. It’s amongst the most tasteful I’ve ever heard, but it’s still obvious to the critical listener and I really don’t understand why they did this. They are from GERMANY, fer cryin’ out loud. It’s ROTTEN with fine old stone buildings with incredible acoustics very similar to those one would have found in a fine Roman theatre or building. Now, they only did this on a couple of tracks and the rest are in places like the marvelous old wine celler in the picture. Now, this place is a dead ringer both in materials as well as architecture for a Roman construction and perfect for such performances and recordings. Actually, Europe has existing Roman ruins of these structures where the acoustics remain awesome. After all, the Romans were masters of natural amplification as they had to be in order to build large performance structures. That minor quibble aside, the engineering is incredible. On a high quality system every nuance of these ancient instruments comes to life right in front of you and the sound recorded in real spaces absolutely divine.

Hydraulis reconstructed by Musica Romana. The guy kneeling on the right is pumping to keep it playing.

I wish to mention one of the reconstructions in particular as it joins with another passion of mine, that of the pipe organ both in the present and in history. That is the water organ, or hydraulis. The pressure used to sound the pipes in a modern pipe organ is still measured by “inches of water.” Weighting by water was used in these ancient organs to keep the wind pressure constant. Most are familiar with the “coming and going” sound of bagpipes. While charming enough for the Scots, this varying amplitude and pitch really doesn’t work well for an organ. Today, we use weighted chests pumped by electric blowers to achieve a constant pressure. In ancient times, they used ingenuity. The hydraulis appears several times on the CD, but my favorite was one that feature a duet, aulos, a double pipe reed instrument, and the hydraulis. It’s a great piece of music and these two instruments seem to be made for each other. “EUREKA!,” some 3rd century or so hydraulis builder said as he listened to this piece or one just like it. “I’ll just add a bunch of single note aulos to my hydraulis, a switch to sound the pipes, the reeds, or both, and only a single musician will be needed to play this music.”  And the first reed stop came into being and the modern organ is born. While there are many varieties of each to provide specific qualities of sound, the classic pipe organ has only two kinds of pipes: reeds (like the aulos) and flues (basically whistles as shown in the hydraulis image). Frankly, I expect some other researcher reached this conclusion well before me as it is so obvious once you hear this piece. However, this piece hadn’t been heard in 20 centuries before this recording so perhaps not.

It should be obvious by now I REALLY like this CD that has it all: great music, well performed, and masterfully recorded. Most of all, a window closed to us for 20 centuries into the roots of western music and the realization that it was not only highly developed, but truly beautiful and capable as no statue, ruin, or even beautiful mosaic of transport us to another time and place.  If you don’t get out much, this may not do much for you.  However, if you really want visit the ancestral civilization of all cultures of the western world, this CD will provide stimuli that you will find no other way short of peyote and a copy of Petronius Satyricon.  If you are of that bent, I strongly suggest you don’t combine those with this recording or you may not be seen again.

Two caveats: The beautiful 28 page, profusely illustrated booklet is all in German. Also, the link provided for ordering the CD on the MR site goes to another German language only site. Grooves did a great job for me and was in English. One other note: When I uploaded this CD to my music server where all my CDs reside, I skipped tracks 14-17. It’s only two minutes or so and consisted of what sounded like angry Roman bar patrons attacking the band. With only the German description I have no idea what they were trying to accomplish here, but it didn’t work for me. Your mileage may vary.

Here are links to the Musica Romana site and to Grooves-inc where I ordered the CD.

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