Over the years that my drinking water information site has been active, I have been asked to provide some personal details by visitors wishing to know how to cite the information in research papers (or simply wanting to know what my credentials are for putting together a drinking water information site).

I have lived most of my life in Littleton, Colorado, a southern suburb of Denver.  I graduated from Littleton High School, and earned a BA degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO.  I completed a Masters of Science in molecular genetics from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ.  I have taught biology and physical science at the high school and college levels. 

I worked at the Denver VA Medical Center and provided data analysis, database management, programming, computer support, and quality management reporting for the National Surgical Office for 26 years.  I joyfully retired 1/1/2015, and my wonderful wife, Carol, and I took a celebratory road trip through Arizona and New Mexico in early April 2015.  

I have always been interested in science and in understanding how things work, whether it is a radio or the universe.  I was very annoyed a number of years ago when trying to locate useful information on the internet about drinking water and water treatment options.  Most of the information I found was quite exaggerated, very biased, or just plain wrong.  The number of sites containing accurate information about drinking water is far greater today than when I started my site (probably in 97), but there is still a tremendous amount of exaggerated, biased, and just plain wrong information on the web.

With a solid background in science, research training (both experimental and library), and a strong interest in education and statistics, I decided to distill everything I knew or could find out about drinking water and build my own reference site.  I try to find several reliable sources for everything I publish and then make certain it is consistent with the knowledge I already have.  As I discover new information I try to post it.

Most information on relevant drinking water contaminants, health effects and treatment methods are relatively stable year to year, so the content on those pages do not change very frequently.

The more I researched drinking water issues, however, the more it became evident that there is a tremendous, and growing, problem with pseudoscientific products and services related to drinking water (in addition to almost any other topic you can imagine).  A significant component of the newer content on my website provides information I hope will enable visitors who are searching for accurate information about claims they may have encountered unravel facts from the fiction and fraud and avoid scams.

In early 2010 I was invited to participate in an interview, Drinking Water: Facts, Scams, and Treatment Methods, for the health website, www.chetday.com.  In the interview I provide additional details about how I became involved in issues related to drinking water treatment.

I hope you find the information collected on my web sites useful.

Randy Johnson, MS - Biology

Some additional personal information and interests below:

That's me in the picture to the left(probably taken in 2003) engaged in one of my favorite activities these days - on the risers singing with the 100 voice, men's a cappella chorus I am privileged to be a member of, Sound of the Rockies (SOR) out of Denver, Colorado. 

SOR is a competitive member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, and the picture above was taken on the International Stage in Montreal, Quebec, July 5, 2003 where the chorus placed 7th in a field of 20 other district champion choruses from the United States, Canada, and England. 

I had never heard of a barbershop chorus before November 2001, but on a whim, my wife and I attended a SOR concert, and I was so amazed by the sound and energy coming from the stage, that I determined to become a part of the group.  I created a page (Sound of the Rockies tab) that showcases some Sound of the Rockies videos and other a cappella groups.

Sound of the Rockies has been the Rocky Mountain District champion barbershop chorus since 2012. 

The summer of 2007, the chorus placed third at International Competition with a cowboy-themed set in our hometown, Denver, CO.  You can view a larger picture here.

July 2008 in Nashville, in Anaheim July 2009 and in Pittsburgh July 2010, Sound of the Rockies placed 4th in the International Barbershop competition.  In July of 2011 the chorus placed third in Kansas City.  SOR did not participate in the 2012 and 2015 International contests, but placed fourth in 2013 (Toronto) and 2014 (Las Vegas).  It will be very interesting to see how the chorus does July 2016 in Nashville under the new director, Mark Hale.

There are over 800 chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society in the United States and Canada.  In many cities and towns these chapters, which often consist of an a cappella chorus and several quartets, provide top-quality, family entertainment opportunities in their communities and an opportunity for men who love to sing to create some wonderful harmony.   I would strongly encourage anyone who loves music to check the BHS listings to see if there is a nearby chorus and/or quartet.  Contact them to find out when/where they will be performing or rehearsing, and plan to attend a concert or attend a rehearsal.  There are other men's and two women's (Sweet Adelines, and Harmony, Inc..) barbershop organizations around the world that you might find rewarding to explore.


On a different note:   Besides singing, puttering around the house (in retirement) and updating websites, I keep busy with a variety of activities and interests which include:

  • Astronomy and cosmology - I am fascinated by the universe we inhabit, and periodically, on dark nights (which are sadly becoming rarer as light pollution increases), I drag my telescope out to look at the planets and an assortment of deep space objects.  I can only marvel at the images that the Hubble Space Telescope has brought to the world.  
    One of the most amazing events I have witnessed was watching the 2001 Leonid meteor storm for several hours after midnight with my family as "shooting stars" rained down out of a dark, clear sky at an incredible rate! Took a lot of neat pictures - and later discovered I had forgotten to load my camera.
  • Geology and amateur rock and mineral collecting - Living in Colorado provides some fun locations for mineral and fossil collecting with my wife and son.  We spent one afternoon, for example, collecting calcite crystals and chipping plain opal out of a hill near Grand Junction.
  • Gardening - Although the recent Colorado drought has put a crimp in this activity, I enjoy growing, harvesting, cooking and eating the produce of my garden.  I enjoy planting varieties of giant pumpkins, that if properly cared for, can produce several hundred pound pumpkins.  Mine have yet to top 100 pounds, but I keep trying.
  • Novice Vintner
    (a great use for water that's heavily contaminated with grape compounds)
    - An attempt ten years ago to brew wine from concord grapes picked in a neighbor's yard effectively killed any desire to repeat the experience - - - until recently.  My wife and I enjoy a good bottle of wine and we just (4/07) decided to try several of the varietal wine kits on the market - started with a Cabernet Sauvignon (which will take several years to mature) and will soon start brewing a Chardonnay (because we don't wish to wait several years to begin drinking the fruits of our labor).
    August 2009 update: the two batches of wine mentioned above sadly are gone (they turned out great).  We started a 6-gallon batch from California Cabernet Sauvignon grapes last fall, bottling in May 2009 - it seems to be quite good, but we will not start drinking it until next spring.  Meanwhile we are trying to figure out which type of wine(s) to make with this fall's harvest.
  • Web and graphics designn - I put this drinking water information site together and I developed a series of web pages to promote my Dad's book, A Thread of Gold, a historical- fiction adventure novel about the search for a lost gold bonanza in the the Colorado Rockies, published in 2005.  
  • Cooking - My wife and I enjoy, when time allows, digging into the spice rack and creating culinary masterpieces.  We processed 50 pounds of chokecherries we collected along the nearby Highline Canal (Aug 03) for making jelly, and perhaps some wine.
  • Photography - I enjoy trying to get just the right balance of light and composition in a photograph.
    Arizona Trip, First snow 12/2015
  • Folk singing and guitar playing - I have been singing and playing the guitar since high school.  My guitar has been a good companion over the years at home, off at school, and on camping trips.
  • Reading and collecting antique books & magazines - I enjoy frequenting local book sales looking for interesting old books and magazines.  Both Carol and I have recently enjoyed a light-hearted mystery series, The Cat Who..." by Lilian Jackson Braun.

Yours in Harmony

Randy Johnson

A Journey Into Harmony - Episode 1

The original YourHub story disappeared and is reposted here.

Posted: 02/11/2007 03:52:55 AM MST   Author: Randy Johnson

The chorus ended the song with a swelling series of chords that left me amazed and breathless. Hairs standing up as goose bumps covered my arms, I felt like I was inside a huge speaker... No, I was the speaker - the song sheets in my hands, the risers under my feet, my skin, my teeth - everything vibrating and resonating to that remarkable harmony voiced by the 100 men surrounding me. I would later learn that type of ending was called a tag - a cascade of chords that gain in momentum, tension, and often volume, until the song culminates in the final chord.

Five and one-half years after that first introduction to a Sound of the Rockies chorus rehearsal I am still amazed by the sound that 100 men singing unaccompanied, four-part barbershop harmony can produce - and yes, there are still many goose bump moments. As I reflect back over those years of chorus membership, HARMONY is the word that best describes my experience. Not only the vocal harmony, but the harmony of chorus members working together toward a common goal of musical excellence, harmony within the wider community of barbershop singers and family members, and a personal harmony where experiences gained as a chorus member reinforce other areas of my life.

My journey into harmony began on a Friday afternoon in November 2001 with a phone call at work from my wife, Carol. She had just noticed an announcement from a local church promoting their Fine Arts Series that we posted on the refrigerator several months earlier and had forgotten about. "There's a concert this evening featuring Sound of the Rockies, a barbershop chorus," she said, and did I want to go? Neither of us had ever heard of a barbershop chorus, but we had heard some good barbershop quartets. We were intrigued by the idea of a men's chorus singing barbershop songs, and nearly any entertainment alternative would be better than the typical Friday evening TV fare.

Carol and I arrived at the church early, found seats in a front-row pew about 15 feet from the stage, and waited for the performance to start. As the show began, about 100 men dressed in black tuxedoes, purple vests and bow ties, and white spats marched onto the risers. The director stepped in front, raised his hands, and the chorus launched into song. From the opening chord until the concert ended 90 minutes later we were mesmerized - completely awash in the richest sound either of us had experienced. We had both heard a variety of vocal groups before; accompanied and unaccompanied choruses, church choirs, concert chorales and other ensembles with a mix of male and female voices. This sound was different - Bigger, fuller, more energetic and resonant - quite addicting. Although Sound of the Rockies was billed as a barbershop chorus, the repertoire included all types of music, from patriotic to Broadway, from silly to gospel.

It's interesting how opportunity, providence, and choice work together to shape destiny. If, after the show, there had been no reception planned, if Carol and I had decided we were tired and gone directly home after the concert, or if we had attended the reception and I had filled my plate then melted into the background like I normally do, I would have missed out on one the most remarkable and exciting journeys of my life.

As fortune would have it, we decided to attend the reception; I did fill my plate, but before I could fade off into a corner, Roger, a very enthusiastic chorus member, introduced himself. He explained that the barbershop style was not a group of archaic, turn of the (19 th) century songs but a type of four-part harmony that could be used to arrange many contemporary songs - like those we had just listened to. I also learned that the amazingly rich and resonant sound we heard was partly due to overtones produced and reinforced when the four voice parts tune exactly to each other. Overtones (or ring) are something that all good barbershop quartets and choruses work very hard to produce. The four harmony voice parts plus the overtones create a distinctive sound not typically heard in other types of vocal music.

Roger invited me to join him at rehearsal the next week. "Anyone can get on the risers and sing with us," he said. "We are not professional singers, just a bunch of ordinary guys who like to sing. Come on and give it a try." Those were true statements - and still are. What he neglected to say was that, while anyone can get on the risers and sing with the chorus, one must be able to demonstrate the ability to carry a tune to STAY on the risers. Roger also failed to mention that Sound of the Rockies was formed as a competitive chorus, and members were anxiously waiting to hear if the chorus had earned a wild card invitation to the 2002 Barbershop Harmony Society International chorus competition in Portland Oregon after placing a disappointing 2 nd in the Rocky Mountain District contest the previous month.

I arrived at chorus rehearsal more than a little apprehensive. I had never been in a choir, and the only singing experience I had to my credit was self-taught folk singing during college - many years earlier. However, I was immediately hooked by the harmony of the music, the rich sound I experienced on the risers, and by the camaraderie of the members. I determined at that first rehearsal to become a member of this harmonious brotherhood. It took me nearly six month to learn enough of the barbershop harmony craft and to wear down the music team to the point where they finally approved one of my auditions. I joined Sound of the Rockies as a proud bass (that's a voice part, not a fish) just in time to participate in the Spring 2002 concert. Several months later, in July, Carol and I traveled to Portland, and I was on stage as Sound of the Rockies placed 8 th in a field of 16 district champion and 4 wild card choruses from across North America.

Since March 2002 I have been privileged to be a member of a chorus that has competed in and won five consecutive Rocky Mountain District contests and qualified to represent the District in the last four International competitions (finishing 7th 6th, 7th, and 6th). During that period, the chorus also recorded three CDs, and produced five annual Christmas shows and four annual Spring concerts, presented the National Anthem at Rockies games, and participated in a number of other benefit and community performances, including several of Rick Crandall's (KEZW AM radio) Colorado Freedom Memorial benefit concerts.

It is now February 2007, the snow seems to be melting, and soon quartets from the chorus will travel around the Denver area to deliver Singing Valentines - an annual tradition the chorus members and Valentine recipients look forward to with great anticipation. Chorus rehearsals are focused largely on the upcoming show in March, which will celebrate the 50 th anniversary of Meredith Willson's ever-popular Broadway musical, "

The Music Man ", and as always, the next contest looms on the horizon. This year the Barbershop Harmony Society International competition will be held right here in Denver, and the chorus is working hard to prepare a Colorado/Western-theme contest package, with the goal of winning a medal.

I am most fortunate to be a member of this remarkable organization, and the experience of participating in a chorus devoted to producing extraordinary harmony has enriched my life immeasurably. If there is any lesson to this tale, it would be an encouragement to step out of your everyday rut, turn the TV off, then take a chance and try something new and interesting... It may just change your life.

If you enjoy singing, I would like to offer you the same invitation my friend Roger gave me, "Come on over and join me at a rehearsal. We are not professional singers, just a bunch of ordinary guys who like to sing. Come on and give it a try." You can be a part of this year's International Convention and Contest in Denver where Sound of the Rockies hopes to bring 130 or more men to the stage and compete in front of 10,000 roaring barbershop fans!

All rehearsals are open, and Sound of the Rockies encourages visitors and prospective members to visit our rehearsals - both singers and non-singers alike. There is an abundance of good music and fellowship for you to enjoy, whether you sit back and listen in the audience or try your hand at singing on the risers with the chorus. Sound of the Rockies rehearses in Highlands Ranch but draws members from Colorado Springs to Longmont, from Parker to Evergreen. Several intrepid members drive from Nebraska to rehearsal every week.

Some Relevant Links:

Sound of the Rockies home page
America the Beautiful Chorus - Colorado Springs
Longs Peak Chorus - Longmont
The Denver Mountainaires - men's barbershop chorus
The Timberliners - Boulder
Barbershop Harmony Society - for men

A special NPR feature on the history of the barbershop style

Barbershop harmony is not just for men!
Sweet Adelines - women's barbershop organization
  Skyline Chorus - local women's barbershop chorus
  High Country Chorus - local women's barbershop chorus
Harmony, Incorporated - women's barbershop organization

Sound of the Rockies

I was privileged to sing with Sound of the Rockies, a 120 voice men's barbershop a cappella chorus from 2002 until 2016  

Many people associate the barbershop style with quartets (picture the school board in Music Man), but there are hundreds of men's and women's barbershop choruses throughout the world.

One of the main characteristics of the barbershop style of a cappella harmony is that four voice parts (bass, baritone, lead, and tenor) sing most of the words in a song in close, four part harmony.  An NPR story, History of Barbershop describes this art form.

This contrasts with much of contemporary a cappella music where there is a lead singer on melody, one or more backup harmony parts that rarely sing words, and often one or more individuals who produce vocal rhythm.    ENJOY Four Part Harmony!


Sound of the Rockies presents one of its more serious competition pieces in the 22,000 seat LDS Conference Center during the 2005 Barbershop Harmony Society contest in Salt Lake City.



Grey Beard

In July 2014 the SOR Pirates of the Colorado sailed up the Colorado River to Las Vegas for the Barbershop Harmony Society convention and chorus/quartet contests.  There was extremely stiff competition, and SOR was proud to place fourth in the chorus contest with our Pirate set.  You can  watch the performance here.

Grey Beard was a proud member of that infamous and motley crew - just to the right of the mast in the picture above.

   

Nearer My God To Thee: Sound of the Rockies holiday concert 12/4/2010


World Premier, Fanfare for the Common Man: a cappella - Sound of the Rockies concert 3/5/2011


Sound of the Rockies Sampler 1: audio & video clips from concerts and contests


Sound of the Rockies Sampler 2: audio clips & pictures from the spring 2009 concert. 
Images of your web author are featured at 3:36 - 3:42 {on the left}& at 4:14 - 4:17. 
If that doesn't shake your faith in science nothing will...


Sound of the Rockies Road Trip: Brother Can You Spare A Dime
 

Other Barbershop Choruses:

Ambassadors of Harmony: 2009 International Barbershop Chorus Champions.
Amazing arrangement and performance of 76 Trombones.


Westminster Chorus 2010 Barbershop Harmony Society Chorus Champions.
Most members are 30 or younger.


Some great Barbershop Quartet videos

Max Q - 2007 International Quartet Champions

OC Times - 2008 International Quartet Champions
  Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)

Crossroads - 2009 International Quartet Champions

Storm Front - 2010 International Quartet Champions


If you enjoyed listening to the harmony above you can find out more about locations where you can watch a performance &/or sing with the chorus &/or form a quartet.  Most choruses actively recruit singers!
Organizations that promote and preserve barbershop harmony include:
Barbershop Harmony Society - Men's barbershop chapters in the US and Canada
  International Affiliates of the BHS
Sweet Adelines - Women's international barbershop organization
Harmony, Inc. - Women's international barbershop organization

To find more great performances, search YouTube for  "barbershop chorus" and/or "barbershop quartet".

 

    Copyright � 2005, Randy Johnson. All rights reserved.

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Updated January 2016