A quick update – the huge improvements I talked about in this post are finally here and more! I’m trading the old piano in for the 7′ 6″ I was originally looking at back in 2009. This also comes with the latest offering by Disklavier, which affords higher resolution MIDI recording as well as a number of extremely helpful technical improvements.
Also, I did not pass my CCIE Security Lab on April 23rd, but I have scheduled again for June 4th and truly hope this will be the end of the journey as I am ready to get back to recording podcasts on a regular basis. Please keep me in your prayers between now and then.
There are a number of changes coming and I truly appreciate your patience and support. I’ve got quite a bit recorded so it’s a matter of doing some MIDI editing, tracking, and mixing. I hope to post one last podcast using the DC3M4 before the new piano gets here, which should be early July. I’ll also update you on the latest setup once it’s up and running. Hopefully Podcast 70 will follow shortly after – can’t wait!
First, I want to say I’m sorry for being out of pocket for so long. I came nowhere near my goal for Music to Pray By in 2013. It seems as though other priorities snuck in throughout the year, and I wanted to share with you about some of them.
First, one that directly impacts this ministry – we’ve moved! We actually stayed in the same neighborhood, but upgraded to a little larger house that has more space for the studio. Now the piano has it’s own room where I plan to keep microphones at the “ready” at all times so there’s no setup when it’s time to record. There’s also more space in the control room for recording the band, which will certainly be a welcome change. Here are some pictures right after the move. I’ll be sure to update you with current pics once everything is setup:
There’s conduit running between the rooms for the MIDI and microphone cables. Most of the acoustic treatment is here and it’s just a matter of putting it up based on the designs Auralex provided. I hope to have the studio 100% ready by the end of this weekend.
We’ve kept our old home and are renting it out as a vacation home for those traveling to the Austin area since it is a hot destination for a number of reasons. We’ve listed it at homeaway.com. If you’re ever destined to the Austin area and need a place to stay, feel free to reach out! I know this GREAT church right down the street if you’re here over the weekend and would like to attend Sunday service.
Another major deterrent was the CCIE Security lab exam, which I spent countless hours preparing for this year. I took the lab in the middle of November and I did not pass. In fact, I left Cisco feeling as though version 4 of the lab is not passable. It was extremely discouraging, but I’m not going to give up and hope to try again mid-next year.
With regards to podcast 68, it is recorded and about 60% edited and hope to have it posted before the new year so stay tuned!
It is often times difficult to find balance in life is it not? This year has been the most challenging yet, and I feel as though I have grown closer to God more than ever! He has been so faithful! I am so excited about 2013. The goals I hope to reach next year seem impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible. (Matt. 9:26) Here they are in no particular order:
Start and finish the next Soundwave album – We will start recording our next album after DCYC in January. Jeremy has enough songs written and so far what I’ve heard has been amazing. I am truly excited about God’s plans for us!
Retake the new CCIE Security Version 4 lab exam – In order to avoid taking the written exam again, I will need to attempt the lab exam by November 14th. For those who don’t know, I attempted version 3 of the lab last month and did not pass. The new version has a huge amount of new technology so I have hundreds of hours of preparation to undertake before November.
Finish the Music To Pray By Album – This is a difficult one since we plan to release the Soundwave album early 2014, a large amount of my spare time will be dedicated to Soundwave in the studio.
Post quarterly Music To Pray By podcasts – I believe part of the reason it has been difficult to be consistent in the podcasts is I’ve had unrealistic goals. A podcast every 3 months should be an attainable goal. This means podcast 67 should be posted in February.
Remain faithful to the Worship Team, the Ministry Leadership Team, and our small group at The Connection Church – This has become almost second nature, but does require time and is a very important goal. Our church has continued to grow and reach the lost for Christ and it is truly exciting and inspiring to be a part of it!
With my “day job” of IT consulting absorbing around 50 hours of my week, there are two remaining parts of my life that I know have to take priority over everything. My time with God and my time with my family. 2013 will truly be a great year, but I believe above all, seeking first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33) and trusting in The LORD with all of my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6) is my true goal as I try to find a balance.
One more thing – I made a minor change to Podcast 66 about 4 days after it was posted to bring down the midrange a little since it was a bit much so if you’d like the update, just unsubscribe, delete the old podcast 66, resubscribe, and you should be prompted to download it again.
Our God is Faithful! This year has truly been life-changing for me, and I question whether I would have made it through without your prayers. I’m a little over 2 weeks away from my exam, and though I’m about 20-24 hours behind my study schedule, I have peace. I’ve already begun the editing process of Podcast 66 so it will hopefully be posted within weeks after my exam. My next consulting venture is a two-month long project in Houston so please continue to keep me in your prayers. For Jesus!
So much has happened since my last blog post almost 2 months ago! Soundwave has played at over 8 concerts/events across the state of Texas as part of “The Start” tour. Please check out our new album here if you haven’t already. Our drummer got married this past weekend. Of course, Soundwave played, which made us seriously think about doing wedding gigs for a living. 🙂 We have our first out-of-state concert in Kansas in a couple of weeks. It’s gonna be off the chain!
Things have been full throttle at The Connection Church. We are now serving for 3 services on Sunday, and ministry is happening! Rene is doing an amazing job leading worship, and Cole has been delivering powerful, applicable messages with passion 3 times every Sunday. It is truly an honor to be a part of that ministry, and if you live in the Austin area and don’t have a home church, I promise you it will be worth your time to come check it out!
Yoko and my two precious children went to Okinawa, Japan to visit her side of the family. They have been gone for a week and a half with a little over a week to go. I miss them so much. Please keep them in your prayers.
I also made the decision to leave AT&T after 8 years and accepted an opportunity at Accudata Systems as a Senior Consultant. It’s been almost 3 weeks now and I have to say that I love it and can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in this role. Adjusting to this new world has been a welcomed challenge. I also committed 10 hours a week to AT&T temporarily to help in the transition so I’ve had no time to devote to the MTPB album. Thankfully, this is only for a season.
One last thing – some of you may remember when I put everything on pause to focus on obtaining my CCIE. Well, I’ve decided to go for a second CCIE in Security. This time the plan is to spread it over a year in order to have more of a balance between family, ministry, and work. I am still planning to have the MTPB album out in Q1 of 2013. Please keep me in your prayers as I go through this very challenging time.
I left out all the boring technical stuff for the most part. The event was an unbelievably amazing experience! Hope you enjoy the video – all of it was taken from my iPhone except for the last bit. I chose the song “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train mostly because they performed a concert at the Cisco Customer Appreciation Party towards the end. It was outstanding!
Every year since 2008, Cisco has spammed me constantly the months leading up to the event, and every year I have asked to go and have been denied the privilege. I was certain the same would happen this year. In fact, my manager told me last Wednesday he was unable to make it happen, which was no surprise, but the following day, a reservation within our company became available! God is good!
For those of you who don’t know, Cisco Live! is one of the largest technical conferences out there, and is by far the largest in regards to the technologies I work with on a daily basis as a Network Engineer for AT&T WiFi Services. Not only will I have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry, I will get to see and possibly play with some of the latest and greatest network technologies out there. The conference will be held at one of the hottest tourist destinations in the U.S. – Las Vegas, NV. With that in mind, I think of Psalm 119:11 – “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee…” might I add, “…while in the heart of Sin City for the first time” 😕
Please keep me and the family in your prayers this week – it breaks my heart to leave them for 5 days straight. It also breaks my heart to miss Sunday Morning service at TCC – especially with Jeremy, lead singer of Soundwave, leading worship.
For the techies, here are some of the seminars I’ll have the opportunity to attend:
– Enterprise Network Virtualization using IP and MPLS Technologies – Advanced Enterprise Campus Design: VSS, Routed Access, and Resilient Campus Networks – Advanced Scaling for Core and Edge Networks – CCIE Service Provider Operations – Data Center Town Hall: Enabling Cloud Adoption – Cisco NX-OS Software Architecture
For the non-techies – I also get to hear William Shatner give the closing keynote, and Train will be performing one evening as well. Another huge bonus is I’ll have the opportunity to attend an AT&T VIP event as well as a CCIE-only VIP party.
* On a side note, as the audience for Music to Pray By grows, I have considered moving these personal posts to a different blog. If any of you subscribers are annoyed by them, please send me a message using the contact form and I’ll make this a priority.
God bless, and stay tuned for Podcast 61 coming early August. It was recorded over a month ago, but I remember it being special with a new original starting it off.
Thanks to everyone for their support. Below is the story of my journey I posted on one of the CCIE study groups I followed for years while preparing:
My journey began a little over 5 years ago. I had already obtained some Cisco professional level certs and figured the CCIE couldn’t be much harder so I booked a lab and a bootcamp with IPexpert. I had some experience, but nowhere near the skills necessary for a CCIE candidate, which I realized the first day of Scott Morris’s bootcamp back in 2005. That was back when ATM and ISDN were still on the exam. At any rate, I barely made it through layer 2, and got stuck on layer 3. I knew I didn’t have a chance.
3 years later after gaining some valuable experience on the job, and putting together a lab of 7x 2811’s, 5x 2600 series (2 of them XM’s), 3x 3560’s, and a 3550, I started hitting the books. I purchased the IPexpert Blended Learning Solution, and worked through all 3 volumes (Volume 1 I worked through twice), watched the videos and listened to the audio throughout my study time, and read the following Cisco Press books:
Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide
CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Quick Reference Sheets
Routing TCP/IP, Volumes 1 and 2
Internet Routing Architectures
CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide
Developing IP Multicast Networks
I started studying on a regular basis after I passed the written back in October of 2008, but really started hitting it hard the day they announced the change and I scheduled my lab date. For the OEQ’s, I used the IPexpert as well as the Internetwork Expert Core Knowledge sims. I’ve studied for more than 500 hours since May. I put everything on hold – the band, my “music to pray by” blog (http://musictoprayby.com), and my wife and 1 year old child. The only thing that didn’t go on hold was God and serving at the church. Yoko and I sacrificed celebrating our 10 year anniversary on September 25th so that I could wrap up preparing for the lab. My wife is awesome – she did this without complaining once. I couldn’t have done this without her support.
I just want to thank my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ for being my inspiration and giving me the abilities I have. I also would like to thank IPexpert for putting together some of the most challenging material I’ve ever put myself through. After working through all the labs and understanding the solutions, I actually felt a little over-prepared, which is certainly not a bad thing. I would also like to thank everyone in groupstudy for helping me out with the questions I posted. I didn’t participate much compared to a lot of the other professionals who are a part of this awesome community, but I’ve been reading religiously for over a year now, and that knowledge gained from yall has been a tremendous help!
Here’s a little bit about my lab experience:
I flew into San Jose from Austin on Wednesday just so that I’d have Thursday to relax and get mentally prepared for the big day. On Friday morning, we met the proctor. I actually remembered him from my last lab date over 4 years ago. He showed us to the lab, and to my surprise, there were these really nice Dell 24″ displays at each station. I remember them being junky CRT’s the last time I was there. The OEQ’s were not super easy, and if I would have relied solely on my lab experiences, I probably would not have passed. I think the reading I did certainly prepared me for these more than anything else. The irritating things were my keyboard’s space bar made this squeaky sound that was really annoying and the guy next to me had this habit of humming, but once I started my lab, I zoned in and finished in a little over 4 hours. At this point, I’m freaking out thinking there has to be a page missing or something. So I took a little over 2 hours going over everything again very carefully and found a few mistakes. At 3:15, I figured it was pointless to stay any longer so I did another round of tclsh pings and write mems and left.
Thanks again to everyone who has already congratulated me. Now, it’s on to the SP track before they add OEQ’s!
Well, I just got the piano tuned yesterday, and I can’t wait to do the next MTPB podcast! Look for it to be posted sometime on Sunday.
Something unexpected happened last week. I found out that the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam is in for a huge change on October 18th. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Sr. Network Engineer at AT&T WiFi Services. A simple description of my day job is basically building and maintaining the Internet. It’s fun and very complicated. In order to further my career, I’ve committed to passing the CCIE R&S Lab exam. My plan was to take the 8 hour exam sometime in December, but that all changed the day Cisco announced the changes coming in October. I registered the day it was official, and the closest date I could get was October 2nd, which is 2 months earlier than I had planned on taking it. This certification has been compared to a doctorate degree, and is referred to as “the MBA of Networking”. Candidates literally spend hundreds if not thousands of hours studying for the exam, and I have less than 5 months to get prepared. My plan is to spend at least 40 hours a week from now till the day I take the exam which means I will have no social life. This also means that the podcast and any music or recording outside of Sunday morning church will not be possible if I intend to get in the number of hours of study I need to pass. Part of my plan was to spend a few hours a day at work studying but due to the AT&T acquisition, there are a number of projects on my plate that are due over the next few months that will likely reduce if not eliminate any free time I had at work to study. I truly am sorry about this, but I believe that the reward at the end of this journey will be well worth it. As soon as this is over, I will do my best to go back to weekly podcasts. God bless!
Today after church, we had group, left there a little after 3:30, Sanban fell asleep on the way home, so we took a nap for about an hour and a half, then Yoko and I sat down for a while to talk about what to do about our house. We have lots of repairs to do – electrical outlets on the outside of the house are dead, fence was blown down by the strong winds we had the past couple of days, etc., then my dad called me and we chatted for a little over an hour about the beautiful property surrounding the Austin area. Yoko and I came really close to buying a house on a postage stamp lot in Buda, and decided not to because it didn’t make sense financially. My dad did convince me that a better investment would be a home on some acreage. At any rate, we’re putting SanBan to bed right now and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do the podcast today, which kills me. Something else I haven’t blogged about – one of my goals is to get the CCIE certification by November, which is going to require practically every spare moment I have studying. I’ll blog more detail about this sometime in the near future. I know the podcast is eternally important, and I do plan on continuing it, but I feel that it is necessary to cut back to once every 2 weeks since it is a 4-5 hour commitment of my free time on the weekend, and free time is very scarce right now with family, church, studying, and the band. I hope you understand, and I do plan on going back to a weekly podcast as soon as I obtain the CCIE certification later this year. When August hits, I may have to go to monthly podcasts through November or December since my studies will pick up the closer I get to the test date. If all goes well, I’ll start January of ’10 with weekly podcasts. Another personal goal is to compile an album of “The Best of Music to Pray By”, and get it mastered, duplicated, and professionally packaged with album art and everything. I hope to have that album available by the middle of 2010. That will require an enormous amount of time since it will involve listening to hours of the MTPBpodcasts, going back to the original uncompressed files, and preparing about an hour’s worth of music for mastering, but I believe it will totally be worth the effort. Please let me know what you think – good decision, bad decision, priorities out of whack? I’d love to hear what ya’ll think! At any rate, This would be my weekend off (involuntary 😉 ) so I will put the podcast at the top of the priority list for next weekend.