Updates on life, health, and goings on

Third Day Concert Report

Last night, I saw Third Day at the San Diego County Fair.  This was a good concert, and the third time I’ve seen Third Day live.

Previously, I saw them in December 2007 in Hoffman Estates during their Christmas tour, and two years ago at the San Diego County Fair – that time as part of a mini-festival that also featured Mercy Me, John Mark McMillian, a third singer I don’t recall, with brief appearances from Jamie Grace (who did a longer set on one of the smaller stages earlier) and Trevor Morgan (who was touring with Third Day and did a couple of songs in the middle of their set)

This was the first time I saw just Third Day.  They did a nearly 90 minute set.  During that 90 minutes, Mac Powell’s only breaks were during instrumental solos and briefly between songs.  Other than that, he was either singing or talking the rest of the time.  Mark Lee (lead guitar) and the support musician on the keys had a few more breaks – during long song introductions.  The rest of the band had a longer break during a short acoustic set (vocal, piano and acoustic guitar).

I couldn’t help myself from noticing some of the technical details.

The fair was providing image magnification (imag), so I sometimes paid a bit of attention to the shots, but only spotted two of the cameras, and deduced where a third was.  There was a hand-held cameraman fairly visible on the stage much of the time, and there was a camera position in front of the stage at stage right.  There was also a fixed camera looking over the drummer – so clearly the video crew had worked with the band’s tech crew during setup.  There had to be at least one more camera that had a good view of center stage based on some of the shots.

From where I was sitting, I could also see someone just off stage right who spent much of the evening doing something to guitars for Mark Lee, who swapped them out after nearly every song.  Sometime this was clearly to switch from electric to acoustic, but I think it was also to re-tune the guitars (which was probably what the guy off stage was doing).

Towards the end, once it was full dark, I could see that just off of stage left there was manned console.  At first, I thought it might be the lighting console – which could have been there as well.  But then I realized, it was probably the monitor board.  I’m fairly sure that on a show of this scale, and for a band of this level, the main mixing board sits somewhere in front of the stage so that the operator can use his (or her) own ears for the mix.

On a different topic, I think I was witness to something spirit directed.  During the introduction to the song “I Need a Miracle” from their most recent album, Mac Powell interrupted the story of the song’s creation to share the gospel.  He mentioned that he doesn’t normally do this, and since I’ve seen Third Day twice before (and have a copy of a fourth concert), I have good reason to believe that this is the case.  So it is clear to me that something moved him to share at that point – someone in the audience needed that message.  (Anyone attending the fair could sit in the second level – possibly better seats than I had paid for – or stand in front of the stage, so there were probably people who had never heard of, or heard, Third Day in that audience).

Musical Aspirations

For some time, I’ve had some thoughts about learning a new instrument.

Off and on from the 4th grade through college, I played Alto Sax in various bands.  (I ended up dropping band the last year at each school: part way through my 5th and 8th grade years, moving from Marching/Symphonic Band to Concert Band my 11th grade year, and then no band class at all my 12th grade year, being unable to schedule Marching Band during the fall semester of my 5th and final year at UNM; and was only in the “zoo” band during one spring semester during those same 5 years).  After leaving school, I pulled out my sax on rarer and rarer occasions, and finally sent it home with my sister, brother-in-law and The Albuquerque Boy Choir a couple of years ago – after The Boy Choir tour took them to San Diego – so that they could donate it to Hummingbird Music Camp.  (I presume that it has been played more over the last couple of years than it had over the preceding 20).

However, I keep looking at other instruments that I might be able to use in more social situations (and potentially in worship – but that is much less likely).  The ones that most appeal to me include guitar, autoharp and some forms of drum.

Guitar has some appeal because it is fairly flexible, and classes are fairly available both from specialized sources and places like community colleges.  Learning on an electric has an added appeal that I could use one of the amps that feed into headphones, so that I could practice without disturbing anyone else.  On the other hand, decent guitars aren’t super-cheap (I’m seeing prices in the $100-$500 range for recommended begineer models), and they aren’t trivial to learn, making me more concerned about getting frustrated early on and quitting.

Autoharps aren’t as common as they were years ago, but they seem to be a fairly easy to learn option, at least for playing chords.  On the other hand, they are even more expensive than a guitar, harder to tune (more strings), and not offer as many options beyond chords.

I’ve not always been a fan of drums – largely a bias that comes from the personality of a lot of the kids who play drums in middle school, high school and college band – or at least traditional drums (snare, trap-set, etc.).  However, I’ve been specifically thinking about the Bodhran since I appreciate how it works in much of my favorite music.  Some form of hand drum (conga or the like) has some appeal since I already find myself slapping out beats on my legs, chair, and the like when listening to music – so I may already have some ability with those kind of drums.

However, both time and money aren’t in infinite supply and I have a fair amount eating both these days.  As frustrating as this is, it probably limits or delays how soon I could actually make a serious commitment to learning a new instrument.

Also, it is becoming clear that I will soon have to transition from walks 4 days a week and an hour with the personal trainer one day a week, to something – probably Taekwondo, since there is a close-by school that looks good – to give me a more regular and intense workout.  This will further eat into both my time and money supply (unless it ends up less per week than the personal trainer).

But, I’m still thinking and won’t turn down any suggestions both for instruments to learn, ways to acquire one easily, and how to learn to master (or at least become a competent apprentice) them

Pet Owner’s Shanty

What do you do with a naughty kitty?
What do you do with a naughty kitty?
What do you do with a naughty kitty?
Ear-ly in the morning.

Lock him out until you’re rising
Lock him out until you’re rising
Lock him out until you’re rising
Later in the morning.

Trip Report – (Belated) Anniversary Trip to Disneyland

This last weekend, Tara and I headed up to Anaheim by ourselves – The Kid is still visiting his grandparents in Illinois until tomorrow. This was to celebrate our 12th anniversary, although our actually anniversary had been the week before.

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Accident – No Injuries

On our way down to Comic-Con, a motorcyclist was forced back into our lane, and our rear end. No injuries, and both vehicles drivable, but since I was on 911 as soon as Tara said it was a motorcycle, we had to wait almost an hour for the CHP to show up. We should be on our way shortly

Learn to Curl

Over two years ago, specifically during or right after the 2010 Winter Olympics, I found Curl San Diego online and discovered that they regularly sponsor “Learn to Curl” sessions.  At that time, I was still recovering from Thyroid surgery, preparing to undergo radiation treatment, and had recently been diagnosed with a hernia.  So, it wasn’t the time to go to one of these sessions.

Over the intervening two years, I’ve periodically gotten emails from them but once I was healthy enough to consider, I kept not seeing the ones announcing the Learn to Curl sessions, until about a month ago.  So, after confirming that the date, May 19th, didn’t conflict with any other commitments (at least not at that time), I signed up.

So, last night I attended my Learn to Curl session.  As I expected, it was largely a class on the basics: throwing the stone, sweeping and a bit on getting and reading The Skip’s signals.  After about an hour of practice, the training squads (7 new players and an instructor) pared up and did some eight-player scrimmages (8 players means that everyone throws one stone per end, not the normal two).

Short answer: I had a very good time.  If (when) I do this again – probably a regular pick-up game – I will probably think about bracing my knees and right wrist.  But I came home with none of the three problem joints complaining.  Well, my right knee wasn’t happy that it was wet since I dragged it on the ice nearly every throw.

I was far from perfect.  I ended up falling down after releasing the stone on nearly every throw.  I was often chasing the stone when sweeping, And I always seemed to throw the stone either too hard or not hard enough – yet it seemed to me that I was throwing it about as hard each time.

I’ll also have to admit, it is kind of fun to realize that in May, in Escondido California, I could participate in a winter sport most popular in Canada.

Slightly More Extensive Trip Report

I’ve made some brief posts about this trip on Google+ and Facebook (same post, copied manually or automatically from one to the other), but this is a bit longer report.

Originally, the family had planed to go to Arizona this weekend largely to see Tara’s Grandmother who was still recovering from her hip fracture in December.  However, a couple of weeks ago, she developed an infection (the medical people seem to recognize the term Tara keeps using for the type, which sounds like “c-diff” to me), and she passed away last Sunday.  Since Tara’s parents are back in Illinois dealing with funeral arrangements, we had no reason to return to Arizona.  Last Sunday Tara found and we purchased the Southern California spring 2-day discount tickets to Disneyland, and made reservations to stay at the fairly newly refurbished Motel 6 in the Anaheim Resort area.

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San Diego Auto Show

Today, The Kid and I spent most of the day at the San Diego Auto Show.

We took the bus down and up, and because of The Kid, we took the Trolley from downtown to the convention center (I’ve walked that distance on several occasions, but he’d have complained), stopping for warm drinks and time killing after getting off of the bus.

On our way to the trolley stop, I walked him where he could see the (circa 1960) San Diego County Courthouse across the street, and walked along the front and side of the county jail.  I even got a sheriff’s deputy to confirm that this otherwise nondescript building was the jail.

Once we got into the auto show, we took a ride up and down some impressive simulated terrain in a Jeep Wrangler (the 4-door version), and looked at some of the cars including the new Coda all-electric sedan.

We then went out and I got a test drive in the Prius-V, which is quite likely my next car once I’m comfortable with trading my current car.  I also drove the new Scion IQ – a Smart 2-4 competitor – around a closed course including the world’s tightest roundabout.

We then decamped to The Gaslamp for lunch, and returned to look at more cars, and get a test drive of the Coda and the Chevy Volt.

The Kid had a good time, and confirmed that he has expensive taste in cars – his favorites were the $300,000.00 Lexus and a Nissan that I think was in the “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it” range.

I was positively impressed by the Prius-V, and surprised by the Chevy Volt.  If it weren’t for the extra $10,000.00, I might lean towards the Volt as a U.S. made car, a bit larger of a car, and for its added plug-in convenience – I pretty much would only need to get gas for out-of-town trips – even if I prefer the styling of the Prius.  One positive Chevy could (and did) tout for the Volt was that by the time I got a chance to drive it, the battery had died, but it could keep going by running the generator.  Had the Coda died, they would have been stuck.

I did notice on both of the electric drive cars that it was a bit unnerving to not have the car upshift once reaching cruising speed.  But I think I could get used to this.

I think The Kid was impressed with how often I seemed to know almost as much as the people we were talking to.  I guess he still doesn’t completely understand how broad a geek’s knowledge can run.

Football Game Reflections

Yesterday, I took The Kid to the University of New Mexico at San Diego State football game at Qualcomm Stadium.  This was the first college football game I’ve been to since I was in college.  While at UNM, I went to all of the home football games in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987 as part of the band.  A scheduling conflict kept me from joining the band in 1988 – I went to school on the 5 year plan, or at least it worked out that way – but I made at least one game.

We did end up leaving at the beginning of the 2nd half because The Kid got sick (either from the two bites of the hot dog he had, or for some other reason yet to be determined).  He is feeling better now.

At least one aspect of the game hasn’t changed since my days in college – UNM wasn’t playing a great game. OK, for several years during the last decade or so, UNM was quite competitive even make three appearances in the greatly expanded Bowl game scene.  But in the late 1980’s, and for the last few seasons, UNM has had a loosing record.  In the half of yesterday’s game I saw, they didn’t do too badly – holding the Azteks to 2 touchdowns, and putting together one lightening drive to score their touchdown.  They were also involved in what had to be one of the ugliest plays I’ve ever seen: during the closing seconds of the first half, a game of volleyball developed near the UNM goal line (alas, on the far side of the field from our seats) after the SDSU receiver failed to catch the ball.  This was so bad that it had to go to the video reviewers to determine if SDSU had ever been in control of the ball in the end zone (or so I guess based on the need for review with time expired).

On the other hand, there were some significant changes that I noticed.  Most noticeable to me was a much stronger presence from the booth announcer and sponsorships.  Additionally, there was more music being played over the PA system than from the band.  I don’t recall real well the other time I was in this stadium (albiet under its previous moniker of Jack Murphy Stadium) for a UNM vs. SDSU game in 1984.  But my memories of games in Albuquerque, Salt Late City (Utah), Fort Collins (Colorado State) and Tucson (Arizona) was that the booth announcer stuck to game information and introductions, and only the band or bands provided music for the game.

I did enjoy the SDSU band – even if they played most of both the short half-time show and the pre-game show to the other side of the stands.  I would have loved it if the UNM band had repeated their 1984 out of town trip and been there, but seeing the home school’s band was still pretty good.  I did notice that they seem to have completely eschewed any pretense of having anyone other than the band director directing – unless they have one drum major who looks to be closer to my age and stands atop a tall ladder out of uniform.

I enjoyed myself, and may well repeat the experience in two years when it is likely that the UNM/SDSU game is again in San Diego.


WFC Adendum

I may agree to work prog ops at another WFC if, and only if, it is in easy reach of me (i.e. southern California) and I’m asked – or at least informed. I probably won’t go to any others otherwise. It doesn’t fill my needs of a place to spend time with friends and maybe go to some interesting panels, concerts, etc.