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2013 in a nutshell

2013 was the year of many events, I got the chance to work on festivals that I’ve always wanted to attend or have some roll with, and this was the time to do it. Music festivals are a lucrative business and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to work some of the really big ones to get some good perspective on what I do for a living.

My route to where I’m living now was a bit of a trial, not as bad as my trip home from Qatar in 2012, but definitely more time consuming. In August I was offered a position in Toronto with the Pan American Games in Logistics, a department I’ve worked in the last four games I’ve been involved with for the OCOG, to get me to Toronto I had to travel from Seattle to San Francisco back to Seattle and then from Seattle to West Virginia to Toronto. All the travel had me working in those cities prior to getting to Toronto and starting with the Pan American Games.

Moving to Toronto was the first time in the last seven years that I decided to ship a lot of my things from Seattle and setup house, things like my kitchen items, and some other comforts came with me. It’s the little things that I brought that make me happy and make my apartment feel more like a home. I have my time zone map in my office, art from the Woodland Park Zoo (a reminder of all the work I had done with them over the years), photos of places I’ve traveled as a reminder to keep mobile and enjoy everything life throws at me, and the most important items being kitchen implements.

I have plans now that I’ve moved to Toronto and close the chapter on part of my life that was Seattle. I want to go back someday, but I feel more at home in Canada than I do in the States, which leads me to the notion of getting either an extension on my work visa or applying for permanent residency here. Of course a lot depends on what I’m going to do for work, since the question is not if I’ll move again, but when I move again. What will that mean for me? Will I keep working in the events industry or will I vie for a desk job to have a little more permanence in my life? I don’t think a desk job suits me; I’m more at home traveling and doing events than being chained to a desk. I know my friends and family would appreciate my being in one place for a longer period of time, but what would that mean for my career? I keep asking myself these questions about this path that I’m on and what does that mean for my future? Do I keep bouncing from one role to another or do I try and settle for something more permanent?

I answer that question with a question, if I settle what form does that take? Do I get married again, buy a house and raise a family? Or do I stay nomadic? Being a nomad means you gravitate towards other nomadic people, almost as though you can smell each other out when sitting down at a bar somewhere. I have several friends who have done a hybrid of the nomadic lifestyle; married couples that travel with their families wherever the work takes them. Personally I would love that version, but finding someone who shares that vision of life poses its own challenges. How can you ask someone to uproot their lives to run around the world working in sometimes crazy places to do events and have a time limit on you’re being employed?

Asking that question of someone is tough, and it’s usually an unfair question as well. Most normal humans like to be secure in where they put their heads; they like the stability of going to a job they know will keep being there. I’m the exact opposite, I thrive on the unknown, I love traveling for work and the adventures that can be had by meeting new people and going somewhere I’ve not been before.

I wasn’t always this way, just ask my parents! They joke that I feared change and I liked things a certain way. Well I’ve kept the trait of liking things a certain way, but now I embrace the changes that new adventure brings.

Why I really started snowboading

I started snowboarding in 2008 and would love to give others the same experience I’ve had or something close to it.

Until 2008 I had only been on a snowboard once before in my life and that was in 2006, indoors on manmade snow in Dubai, an experience that both terrified and elated me all at the same time.   It wasn’t until 2008 and the epic snow storm that blanketed most of the nation that I decided to give it another go. Of course I had a few friends who were goading me into trying it, as I normally made fun of snowboarding or any other snow sports for that matter.

I used to think it was too expensive, dangerous, and a waste of time. Why would I go out in the cold on purpose? Why would I pay to strap a sled to my feet and do crazy things? All of these questions and more went through my head while I was driving a group of Aussie friends up to Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, BC where I was planning to go snowshoeing and take photos. When we arrived at the mountain the sky started dumping snow, something it wasn’t’ doing when we started off from the city. It would make for a good snowshoeing experience, but would limit the photo opportunities.

So, with that I decided to cave into the peer pressure I was feeling and give snowboarding another try. Keep in mind that only other time I had been strapped to a snowboard was in the United Arab Emirates on fake snow in August in the middle of the desert.

The gear was smelly and sweaty from hundreds of other users, but it seemed solid and didn’t cost that much. It felt like I was carrying a coffee table with some attachment points for my feet. I wasn’t the only one in the group who had to rent equipment and so once we all had our gear sorted out, we trudged up to the beginner slope.

The ski lift loomed ahead of me and my stomach was starting to get that familiar feeling of unease, thinking I was going to hurt myself in some spectacular way.

As I was with a few others, we were able to share in our first few follies as we tried to get on the ski lift without issue. Of course I fell and they had to stop the slow-moving lift. Once I got untangled from the others I had taken down with my ski lift maneuver, we finally loaded without issue.

I was kind of proud it only took two tries to get it right on the upload, but the unload was another story. We managed to not fall from the lift, a dizzying height of maybe 20 feet off the ground, which was a win for our little group. That is until we managed to get to the top of the lift where we needed to get off the contraption from hell. There were only three of us on the chair we were assigned to, and we all managed to crash as soon as we got off the lift, causing them to stop the lift so we wouldn’t get run over by the next chair that was going to unload. Naturally we all got tangled and had to sort ourselves out before we could get on the slope.

Finally after the debacle of the chair lift – a beginner’s lift that was made to teach you to get on and off easily – we shouldn’t have been embarrassed, but we were.

The hill, to my inexperienced eyes, seemed like it was a million miles long and impossible to get down safely. Of course it was only 100 yards and not that bad, but my mind was playing with me and trying to convince me not to do what I was about to do. We all struggled to get up onto our boards, but we did. No one ever told me there were tricks to getting up onto the board that would make it easier for us, but then we also hadn’t signed up for lessons, so who were we to complain?

I want to lie of course and say I stood up on the board and rocketed down the hill with natural skill, but that would be false and not very convincing. Instead I did a side-to-side motion down the hill in what is normally called leafing, where you face down the hill and rack from left to right while doing everything in your power to keep upright while nature is doing everything in its power to bring you crashing down onto your tailbone. Nature managed to injure me a few times on my first go – my tailbone was the first casualty, then my shoulder – but coming away with a only few injuries was a good sign, or so I was told.

It wasn’t until after a lunch of some nachos and beer on that first day that I got the hang of actually riding a snowboard. I think it may have been the beer that relaxed me enough to try to move from the beginners hill and onto the actual slope, or it could have been the others in the group who wanted to try bigger and better things, and some more goading from my Aussie friends that finally got me onto the big lift.

First, the view was spectacular. Second the friends I was with made the day so much more than a painful lesson as to why you don’t do things like this on purpose. Third, the hill we hit after lunch was a million miles long.

The view took my breath away. That first time at the top of a mountain looking out over snowcapped mountaintops breaking through the clouds was amazing. It reminded me of how small we are and while we think our actions have impact, these mountains predate us and they will be here long after we are gone. The majesty of the mountains and the clean slate that fresh snow provides gives you a chance to look on your life in a way that you might not always get a chance to do. Snow makes the world seem clean and full of potential and the mountains seemed to be giving me that.

Friends are a must when you are first starting out – they congratulate, cajole, and carry you down the mountain when you need it. The friends I was with on that first day helped me off the lift, something I needed, and guided me to the easiest slope to give me the best chance to experience something they all described as “epic fun”.

That first run on a real slope seemed to take hours to complete. There was so much stopping and starting that it was hard to figure out how long it was really taking. One of my friends, who was a more experienced snowboarder than I was gave me some tips and also took me under his wing and showed me some tricks to help me stay upright.

The run started smoothly and then immediately went crashing into pain and hilarity. Without pain you don’t have perspective of what you shouldn’t be doing, and of course it’s really hilarious when you rocket down a hill and don’t have the knowledge of how to stop other than falling over. That run I managed to tweak my tailbone back in, after I had tweaked it out on the beginners slope earlier in the day, so that was a plus.

My riding style could be described as pointing the nose of the snowboard down the hill and shouting “BANZAI” and hoping I wasn’t going to hit anyone. I had no skill, style, or fear. One of my friends described me as a rocket with no guidance, or brakes.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hill on that first run, I had fallen fifteen times, run into at least four people, and crashed into a stream that was hidden by some deep snow. But I made it in one piece with minimal injury and I didn’t need ski patrol assistance getting off the mountain!

When you’re learning how to snowboard you can’t be distracted, you have to focus on where your body is in time and space and have to work with your mind to keep it clear and focused on the actions that keep you upright and moving downhill. There is no room for other thoughts, as your body needs your entire focus as you rocket down a hill with only a plank of wood strapped to your feet.

I won’t lie, I was shaken by that first real experience snowboarding. It was like nothing else I had ever experienced before. The reason I was shaken by the experience? I had found a place that allowed me to just let go of all my troubles and just be one with myself.

Apple has me by the balls and here’s why….

I made the leap back into Apple last year by buying a used MacBook pro, it was a necessity at the last minute as my dell laptop succumbed to the dreaded nvidia failure that almost all laptops had from that year. I was going to be traveling the next day and I didn’t have time or the patience to order a new laptop and besides I was on a plane for an event the next day so what was I supposed to do?

Flash forward a year and I’m in Doha, coming to the close of my contract for the Arab games and getting ready to go home and what should happen? My MacBook pro went tits up… The same nvidia issue has struck again! Normally that would mean I would shift it another manufacturer, but I won’t and let me tell you why… Apple customer support is the best I’ve ever experienced, I take my laptop to a physical store, staffed by knowledgeable people (at least the ones I’ve dealt with) and they take care of me, yes sometimes it costs me money to get it repaired, but most of the times it’s covered by the warranty of repair and service that apple has. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have an actual store with real people inside of it to drop off a piece of equipment that is critical to my business and have it repaired in a timely manner actually is. So my first stop when I get home, after of course I get off the plane and take care of some phone things, the apple store to drop my laptop off and get repaired.

The next step after that is going to be back to the apple store, in hopes the warranty of service will cover the repair of the MacBook, if it doesn’t it won’t hurt my feelings too much as I’m budgeting to buy a new MacBook pro.

So the moral of the story and why apple has me by the balls? Simple, they have a good product, but the product is put to shame by the customer service, they are attentive and they take care of you, they don’t make you feel stupid and they actually understand the subtle art of customer service. All the times I’ve had to go into the store to get something done, I’ve never once been made to feel stupid or felt like I was less of a person because I had a problem with their hardware.

My hat is off to you apple and the products and service you provide, I hope you continue to do good work and keep us nerds in good hardware.

A great list…

If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest saying the following:

1. A Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor, for free. […]
6. The Founding Fathers were liberals.
7. Fascism is a right-wing trait. […]
10. Reagan raised taxes eleven times as President.
11. Reagan legalized abortion as Governor of California.
12. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.
13. Ronald Reagan supported gun control. […]
24. Hate is not a Christian virtue. […]
26. Republicans spend MORE money than Democrats. […]
29. The Constitution is the law, NOT the Bible.
30. Sharia law doesn’t exist in America.
31. The President is NOT a Muslim.
32. Corporations are NOT people. People are people.
33. Fox News isn’t real news, it’s just a racist, sexist, hateful, right-wing propaganda machine.
34. The Federal Reserve was a Republican idea.
35. Women are equal citizens who deserve equal rights. […]
37. Abortion is a relevant medical procedure, just ask Rick Santorum.
38. Please use spell check.
39. It’s “pundit”, not “pundint”.
40. Social Security is solvent through 2038. […]
42. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan ruling made by a conservative leaning Supreme Court. […]
45. Barack Obama ordered the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It took him two and half years to do what Bush couldn’t do in eight. […]
47. 9/11 happened on George W. Bush’s watch, therefore he did NOT keep America safe. […]
49. Separation of church and state is in the Constitution, it’s called the First Amendment.
50. Muslims are protected by the Constitution, just as much as Christians. […]
53. America is a nation of immigrants, therefore we are all anchor babies.
54. The white race isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving. […]
56. Evolution is real.
57. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old, not 6,000.
58. The Founding Fathers did not free the slaves.
59. The Revolution was NOT fought over slavery.
60. Paul Revere warned the Americans, NOT the British.
61. Federal law trumps state law.
62. The Civil War was about slavery, NOT state’s rights.
63. Corporations care more about profits than they do about people.
64. Getting out of a recession requires government spending.
65. Glenn Beck is a nut-job. […]
67. Republicans don’t want to pay for your birth control, but they want you to pay for their Viagra.
68. Republicans actually NEED Viagra.
69. Fox News is owned by an Australian and has a Saudi prince as an investor.
70. Republicans complain about immigrants taking American jobs, then freely give American jobs to foreigners overseas. […]
72. Labor unions built this country. […]
77. Republicans only care about children BEFORE they are born. […]
82. Churches should stay out of politics, or be taxed. […]
88. The current corporate tax rate is the lowest in 60 years, so stop whining about it being too high. […]
98. Republicans say teachers are union thugs, then proceed to rape and mug the entire middle class on behalf of corporations.
99. Republicans think rape isn’t a crime, but miscarriages are.
[…]

Bottom line? If you want to anger a conservative, tell them the truth.

Recipes

A friend made this for me the other night, and holy crap it’s awesome!

  • 5 – Shallots
  • 5-10 Red chilly (depending on how hot you want it)
  • 10 Big red / green chilies
  • Lemon Grass sticks
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Chop / Blend the shallots, red chilies, big chilies and turmeric together.  Smash the lemon grass, stir all the blended ingredients (till it smells good).

This sauce is good with beef, shrimp or chicken.  You cook everything together in a large pot and add water as needed.

Mass transit

Mass transit…
My experiments in mass transit have left me wondering why I’m doing it… It’s not to save the environment; it’s to save money. A car is a bottomless money pit of which you get no return on. All you do is throw your money down the tubes to own a piece of machinery that will eventually fail and you’ll have to start all over again with another. So here I am riding on public transit to save money and my sanity.

So far I’ve waited 3 hours for a bus that’s supposed to arrive every 20 minutes, saw guy whacked out on some form of drug playing with himself (mental note to never ride that bus ever again), it’s taken me 2 hours to go less than 2 miles and to cap it all off I’ve had to smell some of the less savory people of king county.

But I will persevere! I will win this self-imposed challenge of not owning a car while living in Seattle. I would like to make some recommendations on the mass transit of the area after my experiment…

January Update

I’ve been remiss in my writing for a while now, so here I am catching myself up! I’ve been picking up more events recently, which is good, but I’ve not been snowboarding enough, which is bad.

So far this season I’ve been to Whistler a couple of times and hit the Snoqualmie as well. I had an epic fail on my second trip to Whistler, using one’s head as a pivot for a cartwheel is not recommended for ones neck or shoulders. I injured myself on the 27th of December and a month later it’s still not healed right. Not to mention the injury I have on my left arm, or the bad knees, or ankles… But am I going to let that kind of crap stop me from enjoying the snow? Hell No!

I picked a good day to go to Snoqualmie, there was six inches of fresh powder the night before heading up, and I was pleasantly surprised on the available runs. They’re wide open and I can get my speed on, which is one of the reasons I love snowboarding. I’m not one for fancy tricks or jumps, although I can see the appeal in Snowcross as something I wouldn’t mind trying as it’s based more on speed and navigation than jumps and tricks. I didn’t injure myself which also leads me to like Snoqualmie a little more than I thought, since it’s been a rough year for finding new and interesting ways to hurt myself.

The events side is a little more interesting, I’ve been on a few calls to the top of the Space Needle, not just on the observation deck, but on the actual roof and outer fixtures of the needle. They call it “walking the halo” I call it a 360 degree view of Seattle and the surrounding area that is unmatched with anything else I’ve ever seen. No only are you walking out 500+ feet off the ground with only a harness and tether keeping you from falling, but you get an unobstructed view of Mt Rainier, Mt Baker, the Cascades and the Olympics, a view that very few others have had the chance to see.

The two different gigs I got the chance to be a part of that included the Needle I had clear winter days, and the view was spectacular. I only wish I had taken my good camera and not just my small one, but alas no large objects that can’t be tethered to you are allowed.

Now I’m getting ready for the roll out of the 1000th 767 for Boeing, it should be fun as we have a short amount if time to install a serious lighting rig. I love the challenges, if it were boring I wouldn’t want to be a part of it!

Quote

“There is a temptation with a place like The Joynt to keep recapturing that Thursday night, and when you see that new frat boy whopping and slamming shots in the barber’s chair, you want to grab him by the scruff of the neck and say, Son, you are not a drinker, you are a swallower, and furthermore, get out of Henry’s chair, turn that cap around, and go sit next to that quiet fellow down there, because he has been here since 10:00 AM for the last ten years and two divorces, and that, my young friend, is drinking, and good luck catching up.”

-Michael Perry, Truck, a love story

Another year another event

I’ve been working on this event for the Zoo for the last 10 years.  I got involved when I was first starting out at PNTA.  Since then I’ve seen the event grow and evolve into one of the best events in Seattle, and arguably one of the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.

The first year I worked the event it was an odd theme from what I can remember, it was China / other.  I can’t really remember all that much about the event that year, but I remember the weather being alright, just a little on the cool side.  I also remember the scenic company didn’t measure the tent correctly and built the backdrop too tall to fit into the tent.

The second year was African Savannah, which I had done a false ceiling in the main tent that took all night to rig and wasn’t the greatest looking but it did the job.  Along with the tent ceiling we placed saw grass and other things all around the meadow to make it feel more like a Savannah village.  This was the first year we tried to place a fake cover on one of the tents to make it look less like a rental tent and more in theme.

The third year the theme was a little odd again, being Brazilian shanty town mixed with Dr Seuss.  Needless to say I was not all that thrilled about that year.  We managed to make some pretty fun elements, the main entrance to the live auction tent had a jungle feel, we even managed to make it rain in the entrance and have a great, but wrong, water feature in the center of the stage. 

The fourth year was one of the best I worked on, the theme being India.  We managed to recreate the feeling and the energy of an Indian market, the weather cooperated, almost like we ordered it special for the event.  It was hot and muggy, the perfect combination for the type of feel we were going for.  We had hand dyed awnings made, and bells were everywhere, including one tied to my radio that I didn’t find for hours after one of my crew put it there.  Since there were so many bells I didn’t notice that one was following me around until I took my radio off at the end of the day.  I ended up leaving it on as I liked the joke!

The fifth and final year I worked the Zoo as a contractor was Australia.  I thought it was a good theme and I think we executed an interesting and unique look for the event.  We designed the backdrop to be five animals, which were art done by the creative person who had done the rest of the art for the event.  We blew them up to 4’ x 6’ and sandwiched them between panels of plexi, we then hung them on in front of a section of lightweight white fabric, applied some color changing to the fabric and then applied some fans to the fabric to give it some movement.  The final effect looked liked the animals were alive.  The other effect we managed to pull off was a 6’ tall fire pit in the middle of the stage.  We had some leftover high velocity compact fans that we used to create a large silk fire which was very realistic in the end.  So much so that when we took it off the stage and placed it near the main entrance spectators thought the building we put it in front of was on fire!

I had so much fun working on the Zoo over those five years that I’ve been volunteering my time to them since.  I always went a little above and beyond when I was working on the event, but I felt I had to.  Besides feeling like I had to go above and beyond I liked it.  It was one of the few events that I was able to throw myself completely into and design some fun looks.  It wasn’t corporate theatre, it was actually an event that used my schooling.  I miss those days where I could sit and design for events.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to get back into that, but for now I’m happy doing what I’m doing and looking forward to getting down to business in October!

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The outlook is blank?

horoscope

I went to look up my horoscope for my birthday and this is what came up.  I’ve not altered aside from cropping it to fit into the blog.  I think it’s freaking hilarious that it comes up blank.

How do I take this?  I can look at it as the stars don’t know what’s going to happen to me.  Of course I should take this view seriously and freak the fuck out that my horoscope is blank therefore the future is unknown!  Oh no what shall I do!

Or I can look at is as a database failure and alert technical support.  Which I’m more inclined to do given my history and my lack of caring with the whole mumbo jumbo that is astrology. 

So it’s my birthday today.  I’m actually looking forward to it in a way.  I’m a year older, I’m a year wiser… Well maybe not wiser, but I’ve amassed another years of knowledge.  Who knows maybe something I’ve learned this year can be applied to the future.