James @ the Commodore – April 7, 2012

When I read that James would be touring this spring, that the lineup was their awesomest one, and that their first stop would be Vancouver, I bought my ticket.  $32.50 for a James concert?  How is that not a deal?!?

The last time I saw them was a magical concert in the Commodore circa the Laid album (1992-ish).  That concert simply astounded me, it was so enjoyable.  The band’s recordings reached deep into me around that time and I was enthralled in their magic.

This time around things are different.  It was Easter evening so I knew a late night was going to hurt.  I’m some number of decades older, as are they.  My tolerance for concert go-ers in Vancouver is much, much, much lower.  I was slightly concerned, but thought the band would be worth it.  That Tim Booth fellow holds a special place in my musical heart.

I’m thrilled to say that the concert did not disappoint.  Tim mentioned during the concert that this was the first time they had played a live gig in 5 or 6 years together, and that some of these songs hadn’t been played live in 15 years.  There were some technical snafus like dead mics and volume problems with instruments, but the band played on like pros.  Tim in particular adopts a completely zen-like persona on stage – nothing fazes the guy.  The sound was a little fuzzy so I lost a lot of the more subtle sounds like the trumpet and strings, but the bass was nice and heavy, making my chest vibrate warmly as the band started into the first song.

I arrived around 7:05 (doors opened at 7 and I like to be on time).  I knew I had some standing around to do, so I strolled around the mostly-empty Commodore figuring out if any of the seats offered a good enough view. There were some 15 or so people already lined up at the front of the stage so I knew I wouldn’t get front row anyways, so I looked around.  I sat down in a shady corner and kicked myself – why sit back?  This was a James concert – go for the stage!  So I strolled up to the stage and settled into second row.  Happily too I might add – the people in front of me came to my chest height meaning I had a mostly-unobstructed view of the stage.

Over the next hour and a half a few more people started to crowd up behind me.  The opening act was a lady who called herself Elizaveta.  This was her first Canadian show and she marched forward bravely.  Just her operatic voice and her keyboard.  It was neat to listen so close up and a couple of her songs were downright delightful, but I did not venture back to the merch table to pick up her wares after her set.  I didn’t want to lose my place at the stage.

She finished up around 9, and by 9:30 there were a lot more people crowding up behind me.  James came on at 9:30-ish and played a fantastic set of songs. Here’s the set list as I heard it:

  1. Dream Thrum
  2. Play Dead
  3. Say Something
  4. Waltzing Along
  5. We’re Going to Miss You
  6. Born of Frustration
  7. I Wanna Go Home
  8. Space
  9. Seven
  10. She’s a Star
  11. Waterfall
  12. Sometimes
  13. Hello
  14. Five-O
  15. Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
  16. Ring the Bells
  17. Intermission 1
  18. America (I believe, embedded above)
  19. Stutter
  20. Intermission 2
  21. Tomorrow

Some way into the 3rd or 4th song I started to hear a lot of grumbling behind me about me being so tall.  Yes, I heard the “grumbling” over and above the sound of the music emanating from the speakers 15 feet away.  Eventually the complainers had the gumption to shake my shoulder and ask to go in front of me.  She was short enough and damnit if I couldn’t use the good karma, so her and her friend went in front of me.  The other tall fellow next to me called me a sucker.  All right maybe, but that was my good deed for the day.   A few songs later Tim Booth strolled out to the crowd and sang right in front of us, shaking hands and all that, including the outstretched hand of the girl now in front of me.  She turned around and thanked me, and thanked me, and thanked me.  OK, that was good then.

Then a whole lot of people decided that each song was their favourite and that they needed to be in the front for it.  And they also decided it was unfair that the tall people were in front of them.  There was a lot of pushing for the rest of the show.  It took away from the experience somewhat, but I tried to zen-out like Tim Booth and focus on the music.  I succeeded for the most part.  It was hard though listening to the yahoos behind me singing out of key.  Let the pro’s sing them songs already!  It was doubly hard when someone put their shoulder into my back and lifted me on top of the people in front of me.  At least he got to listen blissfully to his favourite song while I apologized to 4 or 5 people and tried to put my feet back on the ground.  After the song he melted back into the crowd.  I like to think that Tim Booth caught my eye just then, recognizing my fellow zen attitude, and nodded his head in thanks for not starting something ugly.  Might have been just me, might not.

So to summarize:

@wearejames Great show full of special moments -thank you!

@wearejames-crowd If you want to stand in front of the tall people, get to the stage before them.  I stood for 3 hours to get that spot, how long were you waiting?  Own it, stop complaining.

I came away totally satisfied and ready to take on Easter evening.  Sadly there was no James merch for sale so I left with my memories and a short video of each song they played (to help me build the playlist).  Great evening, in spite of the losers in the crowd.

Triathlon Results – Not Bad for a New Guy

Well that wasn’t so hard, now was it?  I mean showing up at the Triathlon and signing in – the event seemed very well organized.  The actual work though, well, that was tough.  But not too tough.  Here are the numbers and then I’ll lay out some details,

Overall Time 1:48:50.92
Overall Place 185/240
Rank in Age Group 11/16

Specific details such as leg times and ranks are found in the overall results.  Not much of note there other than that my swim time was quite good overall.

The overall results compare me to everyone, which might be a little unfair in some people’s eyes. Thankfully the race results for my age range (M3539) are available too.  So the details ….

Continue reading Triathlon Results – Not Bad for a New Guy

Here We Go!

It is the eve of my first Sprint Triathlon.  I have taken to calling it a “Sprint Triathlon” as I feel like I’m not telling the whole truth if I say just “Triathlon”.  In any event, I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet … and then my whole body, and then traipsing out into almost freezing rain to straddle a bike.

No seriously.  I’ve been working towards this day since September.  Proof is in the pudding as they say … here you can see my training log.  The grey blocks represent workouts that are “bricks”, or workouts that are done in succession to one another.

As you might be able to see I switched gears mid-October.  I stopped following my plan for running an Olympic distance at UBC.  I ended up missing so many days due to illness that sticking to the plan felt ridiculous.  Then at the beginning of February I decided to go for a UBC sprint triathlon and set myself back on track with a planned workout.  I find it much easier to follow a training plan than to just “workout”.

So I have my gloves packed (2 pairs with different weights), my wet bag contents separated from my cycle transition bag, and am going to bed early.  I’ve had my dinner of pasta, and my kids are asleep as they’re getting up early to come watch part of the race.

Overall I have enjoyed the training immensely, and will consider what training to do going forward soon enough.  Right now if I don’t do some workout within a 2 day period I start to feel restless.  It’s a different kind of sick, but it feels good.

Oh, and my goal?  I’m really just here for the fun of it.  I’d like to make sure I finish in under 2 hours, but secretly hope I can shave some minutes off that time somewhere.  We’ll see how the race feels.

It’s Pretty … But SRYSLY?!?

Less than a week to go before my first sprint triathlon. I’ve done the distances on my own but am getting a bit nervous about the hustle-bustle of race day. What if I forget to pack something in my “wet bag”? What if I blow a tire? Should I carry a spare? Should I get fenders or would the weight just slow me down? All these worry voices (as Alisa calls them) remind me that I tend to be a worrier in new situations. So I’m trying to focus on just relaxing, or ignoring the pending race.

One worry voice I’m having trouble ignoring though is the one yelling in my ear “Hey, you’re going to die due to extreme weather!” The forecast is for rain, and a dipping in temperatures towards the weekend. Then there’s the whole risk of snow. Seriously? Snow in March?

So this was an unwelcome “gift” this morning – though it is certainly pretty.

Cohen’s First Stitches

Since Cohen became mobile Alisa and I have been wondering just how long our family would go without a trip to the hospital for stitches. I think we were close last year when he cracked his head on the tile floor downstairs. But we’ve been holding our breaths waiting for the day – and now it has come.

Yesterday Cohen did a little finger painting. Naturally he ended up with paint all over his body (I helped him smear it as any good dad would do). Rather than mopping the paint off him Alisa wisely decided to drop him into the bathtub and to just rinse him down. Now Cohen hasn’t really been in a “shower” before as he loves his baths. So he was quite a bit nervous at first. After a little while he seemed to accept it and actually begin to enjoy it – tapping his hands nervously on his body while standing just inside the water’s range. Since he was clean and getting more comfortable, Alisa jumped out to the living room to grab his towel. That’s when she (and I downstairs) heard the dreaded **THUMP**.

Cohen tells us that he started enjoying the shower so much he decided to twirl around in the falling water – who wouldn’t? He forgot about how slippery the tub can be when wet, and slipped, falling chin-first on the top edge of the tub. Warning – images follow that might be hard to see for those that don’t like looking at blood … Continue reading Cohen’s First Stitches

Note to Self – Subsonic Jukebox

Right now the Subsonic Jukebox feature relies on manually specifying the java-recognized soundcard listing in the subsonic script itself.  This means that after an upgrade the jukebox will stop working.  Here’s what I need to do to get it working again:

  1. Confirm that the hardware works using aplay

java /var/tmp/subsonic/audioDevList

aplay -D plughw:0,0 /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav

  1. Edit /usr/bin/subsonic and add the correct line near the end of the script

-Djava.awt.headless=true \
‘-Djavax.sound.sampled.SourceDataLine=#Intel [plughw:0,0]’ \
-verbose:gc \
-jar subsonic-booter-jar-with-dependencies.jar > ${LOG} 2>&1 &

  1. Restart subsonic, and test using iSub or something

I’ve Gone Loco – Triathlon Style

Alisa’s passion for fitness has, at times, made me think she is slightly loco (or so I’ve joked).  It seems to be catchy though – with her subtle prompting I’ve decided to train for a triathlon.

I’m thinking of working up to an Olympic distance for my first time – I have 20 weeks or so before the UBC Triathlon so that might be my first one.

I’ve been training since mid Sept and have discovered my strongest and weakest legs.  Strongest is definitely swimming, which surprised me.  I haven’t done a lot of swimming in the last decade.  My weakest is the other two.  I can’t tell which one is worse yet.  Or put another way, I can’t tell which one I can improve the most.  I suspect biking – right now I’m biking at a pace of 2 hours for the 40km, and that’s a lot of biking.

I’ve been tracking my training in a spreadsheet that I hope to publish in some way, to help with accountability (nothing like public shaming to motivate!).  Stay tuned.

2001 – 2011: The Best Decade of My Life (So Far)

Today Alisa and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  There are no words to describe what a wonderful, full, and rewarding time this past decade has been.  We have come a long way from being those innocent kids exchanging rings in the rain at Cecil Green.

Alisa and Kirk cutting their wedding cake

Our next decade together promises to be overflowing with joy, laughter, love, and passion. I’m honoured to be your husband and partner as we continue our lives together (just as destiny has decreed, naturally).

The Next Stage of My Evolution

So I have quit my job at UBC.  My last day is March 4th, 2011.

Strange – I thought things would work out really well there.  Well, they did work out in many ways, just not the way I thought they might.  I lost 12 pounds while working on campus – at the very least I’m more physically fit now than I have been for many years.  However I also have made touch with some fantastic people and organizations during my time with UBC.  These contacts may very well become my professional lifeblood, so how can I say things haven’t worked out?

I joined UBC in a time of transition, or so I’m told.  I can affirm that things seem to be in a large state of disarray, with very few people actually knowing what’s going to happen 1 month from the day you ask them.  That can result in a lot of internal strife and general unhappiness.  Couple it, however, with a seemingly glacial pace of change, and UBC just doesn’t seem all that … agile.

So I am moving on.  The pasture looks green enough, and the fence isn’t so high to jump over … I think it is time for me to spread my wings a little more than I have ever before.