Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Purple Line

Apparently, there's new interest in putting the purple line underground. If it's gonna happen, I say put it underground! I'm very skeptical about how any above-ground transit line will work. Won't it create more traffic by taking up lanes in existing roads? Wouldn't it make more sense in the long run to dig tunnels?

WTOP: Will Purple Line be Above or Below Ground?
Purple Line on wikipedia

Monday, May 28, 2007

Jane pix

Here are some pictures of Jane from her first 2 weeks of life. Hard to believe she'll be 3 weeks old this Wed.

Photo slideshow

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Elvis Costello: Lipstick Vogue live

This is a clip from the San Fran show of the current tour.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, May 18, 9:30 Club

Haven't been able to post anything about this show until now, but let me start off by saying that this was a great, great show.

When I saw the show announced, I thought this would really be a great opportunity to see EC in a small venue. Plus I knew he was touring w/ the Imposters -- essentially the Attractions minus bass player Bruce Thomas -- who played on The Delivery Man which is a very solid, if not great, album. So I talked w/ Joe and Marty to see if they were interested in getting tix. They were, and Joe even decided he would travel all the way from DeKalb, IL, to DC if we were able to score some tix. At that point, it seemed like we *had* to go, no matter the cost or effort.

I went online to order tix right when they went on sale, thinking that the show would sell out pretty quickly. I had no idea how much tix would be, but I was guessing they'd be somewhere in the 'hood of $50-60. That's the most I've ever paid for tix at a 930 show (for the Pogues), and I thought they wouldn't charge more than that for a show at 930! Wrong! All said and done, including the ever popular convenience charge and handling fees, the tix were $84 with a face value of $75. But eff it, at this point I was committed, and I bought 'em. Yea, sure, that is *a lot* of money to pay for a show. And it's always really hacked me off when I see old 60s and 70s bands going on tours and charging exorbitant ticket prices, and then seeing people actually pay those prices. Y'know, secretly ridiculing the oldsters for their nostalgia trip at any price. But I swallowed my pride and clicked the Buy button.

Just a thought to try to reconcile my conflicting feelings about this... well, first I don't really feel like I need to rationalize all that much. But there's no comparison between EC and the Eagles or the Stones (for example), in terms of nostalgia trips IMO. EC is still pumping out new and ambitious music, which is not to say that I really like all the new stuff, but you can't argue that he's resting on his past. That said, this tour is especially loaded w/ older stuff, and I have to admit that was a big appeal for me. Marty and I had gone to see EC at Wolf Trap maybe like 7 or 8 yrs ago (?), and boy, I gotta say I didn't like that show much. There were many reasons: the wine and cheese crowd on the lawn, the Burt Bacharach-styled set EC played, and the boring songs and arrangements that didn't fit the venue, IMO. If I'm seeing a show that's outside, and I'm on the lawn about 100-150 yards from the stage, my attention is not gonna last too long when the artist is playing Tin Pan Alley ballads and lounge versions of his old hits (What's So Funny...). I tried to make an effort, but that didn't last long. Marty and I were not too satisfied w/ that show (which is kind of an understatement).

Oh one more thing: of course, Jane was born early so I almost wasn't able to go. It was really up in air whether I'd be able to make it, and if it wasn't for Liz's generosity and Jane's good nature, I certainly would not have gone. But the fact that all these things were working out when they could've easily not worked out -- us getting tix, Joe coming to town, Liz and Jane's accommodations, Marty supressing a debilitating headache -- just heightened the sense that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Anyway, enough backstory/introductory text... We got to 930 early before doors opened because we had read online that other shows on this tour were starting early, like around 8:15pm. When we got inside, we got right up in front of the stage, prolly about 10-15 ft away from where EC would be standing. So, with our ground staked, we got some beers and waited for the lights to drop. EC came on around 9pm and jumped into Welcome to the Working Week, and then proceeded to rip through a 33 song set with 3 encores. Plus Allen Toussaint joined EC and the band for 3 songs! Wild. Allen Toussaint did one his own songs too (Yes We Can Can), which was fantastic. There were many, many highlights: Strict Time, Country Darkness, Clubland, Beyond Belief, Lipstick Vogue, Riot Act, Monkey to Man, Hey Bulldog... just too many to mention, really. EC wasn't too chatty at all throughout the show, just going from one song to the next. The band sounded fantastic and ultra tight, and I thought the "new" bass player really filled in well. Steve Nieve was especially fun to watch. He looked some kind of mad scientist at his racks of keyboards and effects (including a theremin!). Toward the end of the show, maybe around the 2nd encore, the beers were starting to take their toll, so I had to fight the crowd and miss a few mins of the show to make it to the bathroom. I tried to last, but there was no way. This was after about 2.5 hrs of standing there! So, I apologize to everyone I may have pissed off getting to and from the bathroom, but it couldn't be helped.

Funny moment: after the show, people were milling about, and a girl walked by with a setlist -- two sheets of paper taped together. She walked by me, and stopped, and I thought she was offering me one of the sheets of paper. So I took the setlist and started to try to rip the tape apart so I could take one of the pages. The girls says "What are you doing??", and I realized that she wasn't actually offering a page of the set list to a complete stranger. I felt pretty stupid, and immediately apologized and let go of the pages. Too funny. :-)

Afterwards, we headed over to DC9 for some post-show beers. I saw Joe Englert there, and we said hey to each other and chatted for a minute. He was at the show and had bought some t-shirts, one for his daughter. I then wished that Jane was old enough to fit into an EC t-shirt. Not even close! She'll have to wait until she's older for her dad to annoy her w/ all talk and stories of "his" music. I told her so when I got home that night. I don't think it sunk in... I'll keep trying.

Back to work

Tomorrow it's back to work for me after taking paternity time off for Jane's birth. Even though having a newborn baby at home has been a big adjustment and tough at times, I don't feel ready to go back to work. My company has a great paternity leave benefit so I took off 2 weeks, and it's been great. I've been able to do stuff around the house and take care of chores, etc. I'm hoping that Liz can do okay on her own w/ Jane after I go back. It's been particularly hard on her since she's the one that has to feed Jane -- no bottles yet. But I guess we'll adjust and do fine just like most everyone else. And at least I was able to spend all that time at home w/ Jane and Liz. Now back to real life...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

OMG: reinstalling windows xp

I've been dealing w/ major annoyances on my computer for last, oh, 1.5 months. I've had this Dell for around 4.5 years or so, and it's treated me well. But for whatever reason, it started acting up: anything I tried to open that used Windows Explorer wouldn't work -- folders on the desktop, My Computer, Control Panel, etc. Big time annoyance. I could open all my files using the respective programs they were associated with, but I couldn't easily move, copy, access my files. Did I mention how much this annoyed me?

After doing multiple virus, adware, spyware scans, nothing came up. I searched online for fixes and posted on forums to try to get a fix, but no luck. So finally I was left w/ the option of reinstalling XP, something I've never done before. So with some big help from Marty, I decided to take the plunge. Talk about nervous -- I was sure something was gonna go wrong, that I'd lose something. And man, did I.

I backed up everything I could think of, but I missed one crucial thing: my music database. I didn't realize that I had forgotten about the database until *after* I had reinstalled XP. I was staring at the CATraxx CD that I had put out for reinstallation of that program and then it hit me: I didn't back up the databse! Holy crap, I thought I was gonna cry! I spent over a year entering all that data for all my CDs, vinyl, and mp3s! And now it's totally gone. I searched on my backup drive -- I was sure I had it there, but nope. Gone.

So, that's it. No way I'm attempting to enter all that stuff again. I had entered over 1500 albums -- many entries were totally manual -- including things like musician credits, producer credits, songwriting credits, album art, etc. I can't believe it.

The upside tho is that, aside from that huge freakin' loss, the reinstall of XP went pretty well. My computer is running *much* better now and much faster too. I don't think I missed backing up anything else (at least until I realize I missed something else). The whole process took me a really long time. I'd estimate it took me about 2.5 days of working on it (while letting the XP install run and then the time to reinstall all my programs). Plus I reinstalled XP twice because I don't think I did it right the first time. But now I think I have everything back to normal, pretty much. And I didn't have to buy a new computer, so that's always good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jane Audrey Fisher

One week ago today on May 9, 2007, our baby daughter was born. It was a bit of a surprise since she came almost 2.5 weeks early, and we were expecting her to be late considering that the commonly accepted expectation is that most first babies go past their due date. And we still thought that even though Liz's doctor told us that there was no real evidence that first babies are usually late. So, we had to cancel a bunch of plans including a birthday party that Liz had planned for me. But that's okay, because Jane was a great birthday present!

Liz's water broke last Tuesday night at about 8:45pm without any noticeable contractions beforehand. So we called the hospital (Sibley) and they told us to come right in. Apparently, if a woman's water breaks, there is a risk of infection to the baby. But since this was completely unexpected, and we had no contractions to warn us that things were happening, we were scrambling around trying to get things together to go to the hospital. We packed bags, called Liz's mom to take the dog, Liz was sending off emails to work to let them know that the things were going down, etc. Quite hectic!

Once we got to Sibley, things were progressing but slower than what the doctors liked considering the whole infection risk thing. So Liz got some pitocin to speed things up, then got the epidural at about 5am. After she had the epidural, she went from 4cm to 9.5cm dilation in about 1.5 hrs. So she was ready to go. Apparently the epidural allowed her to relax. Then at about 7am, the doctor checked her out and told us that she thought the baby was in position to be born. Liz pushed for about 10 mins -- yea, 10 mins! -- and out came Jane! Amazing! We were both expecting things to last much longer given what usually happens with first babies (I think in this case there *is* evidence to support that first babies take longer to deliver). So, from the time of Liz's water breaking to Jane's birth, it took 10.25 hours. I watched the whole thing and cut the umbilical cord, which squirted blood a bit, but I was so dumbfounded and blown away by everything going on that I didn't care. Because of the lack of sleep and the quick progression of the labor, it still seemed very surreal. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Liz was so great and calm throughout the whole thing.

Now I said "out came Jane," but we didn't have a name picked out when she was born. For whatever reasons, we thought we were going to have a boy. We had a short list of names for both genders, but we hadn't made any final decisions -- we thought we had some more time to decide! So, it wasn't until Jane was about a half hour old that we decide on her name. Up until then, she was officially known as "Babygirl".

Jane's first week has been really good, although not without some (to be expected) bumps along the way. When we brought her home on Friday, she was very fussy throughout the weekend, crying for inconsolably for half hours at time. It was intense -- she was screaming like some sort of heavy metal singer. Rob Halford comes to mind, although Jane was only wearing blankets, no leather. And she was flailing her little arms and legs around and turned bright red. It really, really made us feel horrible. We called the pediatrician three times over the weekend, and tried some remedies he recommended, with a bit of success. It seems the problem was the nefarious "gas issue". So by the time Monday came along, we were practicing the tips that we had learned and things seemed to subside quite a bit. This week has been much, much better, but one lesson we've tried to take to heart is that every day is a new day.

We're adjusting to Jane and her schedule, and she's adjusting to us and our lack of knowledge. Hopefully, our rookie status will not p*ss her off anymore, but it probably will. :-) It's hard to believe it's already been one week! She makes me smile everytime I look at her. Well, except when she's doing her Judas Priest karaoke...