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Pictures & Words

A busy weekend

So, we were gainfully occupied this weekend. After a Saturday morning dump run, Jen and I headed up to school to set up for a photo shoot for her drama kids. The play this year is titled Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens. It promises to be a lot of fun. We got through shooting 8 kids, so next Sunday will be a bit busier (I think there are 20 this year total). After that work, I headed to church to cantor the 4 pm mass. And for dinner, we headed out to Deanna and Randy's place for some of the best lasagne I've ever had. A bit of wine flowed, I told many exceedingly long stories—and the girls were starting to doze off by the time we called it a night. Randy was my hero—he had flown in from Orlando and had arrived just before 6 pm, so he couldn't have had more than a half-hour to himself before we showed up. It was a great time and we really enjoyed it.

In fact, I enjoyed it perhaps a bit too much. Sunday morning rolled around and I had 8 am choir duties at St. Francis Xavier. It was a good thing that everything I was singing this morning was in the lower range. When I got home from church, I made biscuits for Jen and Noah—Grace was in Chicago this weekend showing at the International. After cleaning up breakfast dishes, we started to attack the living room painting for real. We took down all the paintings and photos, moved all the furniture out of the room, and then I worked on fixing the drywall seams at the top of our cathedral ceiling with some fiberglass drywall tape and mud. It's a pretty decent size job—about 26 feet long (two of them) at 17 feet high. The scaffolding came in handy. Hopefully we'll get this finished in a day or two and be able to paint the ceiling and end wall next weekend.

And so it goes...

Test photo of unnamed subject.

The end of an era…

On Tuesday, my beautiful and talented daughter wrapped up her illustrious career in Junior Showmanship at the Westminster Kennel Club. She's been showing dogs forever (more than half of her life), and she's done very well in competition (taking 3rd place at Westminster last year). She's at the 12:45 mark of this video:

She goes out the same way she statrted all those years ago; showing a curly-coated retriever (Thriller). They looked beautiful together, and I thought they got a nice long look from the judge—but they didn't get through to the finals (only two kids from each group do). Amazingly, this was the exception for Grace—her previous two times showing in juniors at Westminster she did make it into the finals (that's tough competition and long odds).

I'm so very proud of her. Over the dozen + years, she's learned so much for these shows: how to win and lose gracefully, how to handle and build rapport with dogs, how to interact with adults, and how to do something she loves with passion, dedication, and grace. She's made so many friends (both kids and adults)—she's mentored several younger juniors, as well as having been mentored by some really great handlers. She'll still be active in the show ring (she's fantastic), but this is the end of her junior showmanship career. 

A win would have been great, but Dad couldn't be more proud of her. Congratulations, Grace!



What I'm thankful for in winter...

We had a good deal of snow fall on Thursday and Friday morning (about a foot). When it starts to look like this:

I'm thankful for these:


And my diesel-powered snow shovel...


This and That

First things first. I spent a bit of time this morning applying a new template (Krypton) to my site. This template is a third-party solution from BehindTheRabbit, a developer who has built templates for Wordpress, Rapidweaver, and Sandvox. It appears from his site that he's concentrating on the Sandvox templates, so I thought I'd throw a little support his way and give this one a try. This is similar in color-scheme to a BlueBall Cubicle 'hacked' version that I had done a few years back. My issue with that was that Charlie is a much better css guy that I was, and I didn't get all the glitches of my code modifications worked out to my satisfaction. I switched back to the original Cubicle version and have been using that for over three years. So, we'll see how Krypton works out. It actually integrates pretty well with the more recent Jalbum theme I've used on my galleries. Now all I have to do is to get out and take more photographs.

On the kid side of the world, this is (again) the big weekend for Grace. I just dropped her off at the airport for a flight to Newark—it's Westminster week! She's back showing in juniors for her final time—she'll be taking the Curly-Coated retriever Thriller into the ring for her finale. We're fortunate that the blizzard has subsided and that Newark airport is back open (they opened at 8:30 am this morning...). Grace has shown at Westminster (in juniors) twice before—making it to the finals both times, and coming in 3rd last year. She's putting a ton of pressure on herself—not only to make the finals, but to finish better. The reality is that 2 finals (that's 8 kids out of about 140) is incredible, and she'd be damn lucky (and good) to make it again. But this is her show, so we'll see. If she does, she'll be on USA Tuesday evening (I think it's 6:30 or so). And you can catch video of the show on the Westminster site.

And, as always, we're really proud of her no matter where she finishes.

Noah's been enjoying his extended weekend killing zombies, and I haven't seen my oldest in nearly two months. He's trying to find a job—that's a tougher situation today then when I was his age. Jen is down in Indy this weekend showing George—not looking for a win, but helping support a major. Pffffttt. Dog shows...

Finally, I'm starting a new position at AbbVie (the pharma arm of Abbott Labs that spun off on the new year). I've moved over to Development IT on a visiting scientist position, and I'm going to build a team that will focus on doing 'quick hits'—writing small to mid-sized applications that solve problems. I've been doing that as a 'hobby' for the last few years—and it's been terrifically successful. It's time to put some focus on doing it for real, and build a team (and community) to support it.

Happy Retirement, Double-D...

Donald Driver retires from the Packers today as the top receiver in franchise history. What a guy—what class. I'm not one to gush over athletes, but this guy is an exception.

For a review of his 'greatest' touchdown in Packers history, as well as the greatest Christmas present in history, follow this link!

And here's a great example of Donald's character. See what he did after leaving his retirement celebration:

dada's 20th Anniversary Tour: Shank Hall, Milwaukee

If you're a regular reader, you probably don't remember a live music review here. That's primarily because the last time I went to a 'rock' venue to see a national band—well, I don't think Al Gore had invented the internet yet. That's probably not quite accurate, but it's been a quarter of a century, give or take a couple weeks since I've seen music live. Think Thompson Twins, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, etc. dada is a band I discovered by accident. My son wanted to use Dizz Knee Land as part of the soundtrack for a movie he was making—so being a law-abiding citizen, I bought "Puzzle" and grabbed the track for his movie (which didn't get wide release, so no revenues to the band...). When I listened to the rest of the CD, it was 'wow'. I found most of their other disc at Amazon, and ordered away. Each one had a different flavor than Puzzle, but I've really enjoyed them all.

So with that background, let me say that I discovered the band after they were basically done. Not putting out new music, not touring (and they're a Southern California band anyway). So no big deal. A few years later they were doing a tour with a date in Chicago, but I couldn't make it—so no big deal. I'm no groupie—I've seen their website but don't pay much attention to it (they probably don't pay much attention to this one either). Last time I visited it was probably a couple years ago. But a few days ago, I was listening to some of their tracks (off of El Subliminoso)—and something inside me said 'check out their site'. So I did. And hey, they're doing a 20th anniversary tour! Cool. And they're going to be in the midwest! And they're be at Milwaukee on... FRIDAY! 

My though: gotta see this. Asked Jen if she wanted to go. She gave me that "aren't you a little old for that" look. Luckily, one of my friends at work (Mike) is a live music aficionad, lives in South Milwaukee, and is well acquainted with the venerable Shank Hall. Asked him on Thursday—he said 'hell yeah', even though he had never heard the band. And Friday, off we went. I will give my mea culpa here—my daughter loves the band too, and when I asked her if she wanted to go she said 'hell yeah', but then I realized it was an 21 and older show—and I didn't want to have to leave her in a snowbank for 4 hours if we couldn't get her in...

The show was fantastic! Take that from someone with my years of experience with live music… 7Horse opened the show—this is a project by dada band members Phil Leavitt and Joie Calio. Very impressive. A much different sound then dada—dirty rock/blues. Great stuff. The second set was done by Jerad Finck—an acoustic set which didn't do much for me. I'm not sure the venue was the greatest for him. In fact, the only negative of last nights show was that the vocals seemed to be overwhelmed much of the time—by the instruments for 7Horse/Dada, and by the chattering crowd for Jerad.

Bottom line—these guys are a talented group of musicians who don't get the airplay they deserve. Get out and see dada while you can!

The headliners put on a great set (and long—this thing didn't end until after midnight). A lot of the classics: Dim, Posters, Dorina, Dizz Knee Land, Bob the Drummer, Ask the Dust, Guitar Girl—and they through in The Spirit of 2009 and an awesome cover of the Monkee's Last Train to Clarksville. These guys can play! Michael Gurley can make that guitar sing, and Joie Calio is pretty damn talented as well. Their voices together are awesome. And then Phil Leavitt is an amazing drummer. I was expecting him to do more vocal work during the dada set, but he seemed to be taking it easy on the harmonies (I don't know if that's just the way it is with the set they did, or if the 7Horse set wears on his pipes). It was the best damn show I've seen in at least 20 years!

Bottom line—these guys are a talented group of musicians who don't get the airplay they deserve. If you like music—get out and see them! Tickets are cheap, the venues are likely awesome (it was easy to push through the 150 or so people to get to the stage at Shank if you wanted to), and these guys put on an incredible show. And who wants to wait until the 25th reunion…

Last tip: pick up the 16 in 2 album in the swag shop at their venues. It's a set of demos done before Puzzle was released, and it's very fine. A lot of acoustical work, and some tight harmonies... fantastic!

Copyright 2014, Jim Kofron. All rights reserved.