Poor PC repair, beer and Dave

Sleeping in on Saturday was a good thing, but by the time I got through with showering, stretching, and making some bacon and breakfast it was almost 2PM. And I was planning on leaving at 3 to go to a free Pat McGee band show in Alexandria. I realized I’d get back around 8 and have no time Sunday to to the computer stuff I’d promised myself, so I decided not to go.

Instead I spent nearly 3 hours trying to repair the display on Jill’s laptop. The display was dim and I’d read it was usually the flourescent bulb (or possibly the inverter). So I’d ordered a couple bulbs and I took the display apart to get to the old one. I got it out, then discovered I didn’t have any solder for my soldering iron. I spent a long time (and burned a couple fingertips) getting some solder off old wires and soldering the new bulb to the connection, only to put it back together and discover the display was completely dead. I gave up at that point, may try an inverter next (I can connect it to a spare monitor in the meantime).

Next I put together the PC I’d purchased several weeks ago. My regular PC is 6 years old and showing signs of age (it rarely shuts down properly, forcing it to run tests on each boot, and sometimes won’t run programs). I was originally thinking of getting a fancy machine to import digital video from my camcorder, but the HDD/DVD recorder does that, and I can burn it to DVD and edit it on the PC. So I just got a bottom of the line PC (eMachines T3985 with a 2.93GHz Celeron processor, 512MB memory, 80GB hard drive and a 16x ±RW multi-format double layer DVD burner). I spent a couple hours deleting the crappy software that came preloaded and loading my own. When Jill got home from work, she wanted fajitas, so I made some, then she read for a while before going to sleep and I continued working on the PC. I went on the old PC to surf and blog, then burned 5 CDs worth of files to transfer to the new PC. By then it was 2:30, so I went to bed.

Sunday I had neurosoma, so I was out the door by 9:45. I got back at noon and Jill was up. I called up our friend Stuart to see if he was going to the beer festival, and he was up for it (he rode his bike there last year). He wasn’t ready, so Jill got coffee and cash and I read the paper. We picked him up around 1:30 and headed to Ashburn. The festival wasn’t too crowded, but it was hot and the sun was shining. The beer was good, but we faced bitter disappointment. Magic Hat was scheduled to be there, but had run out of beer on Saturday and packed up (I’d even brought our growler to fill it up, which we last did at our wedding). It was still good. I only had 3 small beers as I drove, but Jill and Stuart enjoyed themselves, and I also had ribs and some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We left around five after they finished using all their beer pogs.

All that time in the hot sun wore us out, so we collapsed in the ac at home for a while. We finally got motivated and left around 6:30 for Nissan Pavilion and the Dave Matthews Band. It’s interesting: last year I went to 7 shows there and never had a traffic problem. But trying to get to a sold out show when the headliner starts was a mistake. I thought we’d get there by 7:30, but I didn’t get to my seat until 8:30. We took 29 in, and it was just stop and crawl for the last two miles. When we finally got into the parking lot, I let Jill out and continued around for another 15 minutes to get a spot. I finally made it through the gate, but then had to wait in the bathroom line, and a line for drinks (and the drunk guy in front of me couldn’t understand the whole “you need a wristband for proof of age” thing). I heard the crowd holler, but knew that lately the band comes on stage and noodles for a couple minutes before starting a song. Sure enough, I’d just gotten to my seat when they started.

I hadn’t had any time to unwind from the stress of getting in, so it took a while to get into the show (though playing “One Sweet World” helped). What really did what was a tasty Carter solo into the first “Say Goodbye” in 2 years, then a high spirited “Too Much”. The set was heavy with the new tunes (10 of the 13), but we were forewarned by looking at setlists for other shows on the tour, and I’d been playing the heck out of it the past few weeks. At first listen, the CD hadn’t grabbed me (with the exception of the songs I’d heard before, the single “American Baby” and “Hello Again” which they played last year), but it’d really grown on me with repeated spins. And the songs were excellent live; “Hunger For The Great Light” and “Stand Up” in particular.

There were two high points of the show. The first was a jamming “Warehouse” with great lighting (including a fire dancer made up of lights) and a boosa nove section at the end with Dave doing his “happy feet” dance (and here’s a crappy phone picture). But that was overcome by them bringing out Robert Randolph, the young but already legendary pedal steel guitarist. He helped make the last two songs of their set, “Stand Up” and “Louisiana Bayou”, into incendiary jams. He sits down to play the pedal steel, but when Boyd or Dave came up, would stand and play. He was even a match for Dave’s “happy feet”, getting up and dancing with his feet while continuing to play, even standing on his chair (one more phone picture – Boyd with Robert).

We left before the encore, our usual practice at Nissan, especially since traffic was bad on the way in. I was bummed to read this morning that Robert Randolph had joined them on the encore for “All Along The Watchtower”, but Jill had to get up at 6 this morning and we couldn’t risk sitting in the parking lot for two hours or more. We were both worn out from a solid two hours of dancing and were out pretty quickly.


A while back I purchased tix to the Billy Corgan show last night at the 9:30. But then I discovered Chris was coming to visit this weekend and sold them off. A couple weeks ago Chris got a graduation present of 10 days in Germany, which cut down on his vacation time and he canceled his trip here. So I was free last night, thinking about going to the Old Dominion Beer Festival. Earlier in the week I had entered an email contest from On Tap for Billy Corgan tix, not really thinking too hard about it because I had done it for a number of other shows and hadn’t won. But low and behold, yesterday morning was an email saying I’d won a pair. Jill had to be at work at 7, so she was out, and we delayed the beer fest ’til Sunday.

I went out at lunch to buy the CD (I was planning to today anyway), tried Circuit City (it was supposedly cheaper there, but 80% of the time, even their employees can’t find the new releases of the week) and got it at Best Buy (and had a quick lunch at Wegmans). After work, Jill and I went to the new Safeway in Herndon, which took quite a while longer than expected, especially when checking out.

I couldn’t find anyone else interested in going, so I set out about 10:30. I had planned to leave at 10:15 when I had read that he was going on at 11:30, but then I learned he was going on at 11:15, and tried to leave earlier, but failed. I had thought ahead about parking and had purchased parking in the 9:30 secured lot. I got there at 11:15 and it was 11:20 by the time I got in the door – he’d already started.

He’d said earlier that he wasn’t going to play Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan songs on this tour, but he made a big announcement this week, so I had to wonder:
For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep. But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive The Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams. In this desire I feel I have come home again.

But in the end, he didn’t play any old songs of his, opting to play covers instead. The set was interesting, a wall of light-up bathroom tiles, and Billy, a keyboardist/computer tech, drummer (standing up) and a backing vocalist (picture). My problem (such as it is) with his new CD is it sounds like if he had started in 1982 – heavy synthesizer and all. The best ones are the ones similar to the Pumpkins.

He seemed to be having a good time. At one point, he said “This song is by a great man”. Someone yelled, “AC/DC!”, and Billy said, “You’ve been on the internet. They’ve invented this thing called the internet now. Tou’ve got AOL dial up, and your screen name is probably like, Gish607….. or Iha112”. After that, he played an Iggy Pop song. He saved AC/DC for the last song of the set, playing “It’s A Long Way To The Top” (the last song in “School Of Rock”). That was my favorite part of last night.

Got out of there at 12:45, home by 1:45, bed at 3. Slept in nicely today.


A quick trip to Boston this past weekend. My best mate Chris has finally got his bachelor’s, and of course it’s from Harvard. We didn’t get up there Friday night until 11, so it was just Saturday and Sunday morning. Saturday we helped straighten up, then I was grillmaster (again). Saw a lot of his friends from Boston I’ve met before, and enjoyed some fine Magic Hat #9. We were pretty wiped out after everyone left. Sunday we went for dim sum down in Chinatown, then headed for the airport. I got a lot of reading done over the weekend (3 newspapers, 3 magazines, 3.5 books).

After we got back home, Jill did her homework, and I whipped up a thai beef dish with a spinach like veggie. Got woken up last night at 3AM by the power going out. It didn’t get restored until noon – the longest outage in the six years I’ve been here. Didn’t really enjoy my washcloth bath this morning, though. Tonight we had steaks (worried about them going bad) and salad. The steaks were pricey, and worth it – though I understand Safeway’s premium line is being subsidized for a while, so prices will go up even higher. Ok, I’m rambling, time to get off.

Jesus Saves (White Trash Like You)

The weekend started slow – Jill decided to make pulled pork sandwiches with the crockpot, and picked up coleslaw makings on the way home. I should have picked up mayo, because it wasn’t quite right made with chipotle mayo. The sandwiches were tasty, though. We mostly read, and I caught up on the Daily Show.

Saturday we both had errands to run. Jill had to work Saturday night, and didn’t want to go to the Potomac Celtic Festival in the afternoon, so she read downstairs and I watched TV (“The Inside” was pretty decent). I made BBQ sauce (I had given her 2 recipes to try Friday, and I was intrigued enough by the one she didn’t use to try it the next day), and I grilled spare ribs for dinner.

After she left for work, I went to Celebrate Fairfax. I caught the last song by the Smithereens and some nice fireworks before I sat down. Rick Springfield drew quite a crowd, and they were screaming for him by the time he came out. The only time they weren’t was towards the end of his set where he said “the next song is Jesus Saves (White Trash Like You)”. Then some were screaming at him (and one guy waving a chair) and a steady stream of older people walked out. Last song of the set was of course “Jessie’s Girl”, and about half the crowd left after that. The encore was fine, though. I was surprised how many of the songs he did I remembered.

Sunday I went to Arlington for the Crystal City Street Fair, to showcase the changes to Crystal Drive (lots more restaurants). I met for brunch with some people off the Paul and Storm (from Da Vinci’s Notebook) list at the Marriot (eventually – there’s 3 Marriots in Crystal City), then walked over to the concert. It was hot, but it was Da Vinci’s Notebook’s only public show of the year, and well worth it. Apparently they do some private shows and ended the first set with the “business lyrics” of their Motown medley (“I’ve got the sales group on a cloudy day”). There was plenty of bantering, but my favorite moment was when they got a guy on stilts (who they’d been having fun with) to lead the conga line during “Jump In The Line” (y’know, the song from “Beetlejuice”).

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was up next. I hadn’t seen them before, and they were swinging. I was amused that instead of a mosh pit, there was a swing pit. There was also a small stage next to them where some couples would dance (including some incredibly talented ones). I had brought chairs, but got too hot, put the chairs in the car, and walked around. I scooted during their last song to make it over to Mom’s. Sharon was in town, and we took the opportunity to celebrate Mom’s birthday and Father’s Day. Of course I helped Dad fix the garage door, fixed some computer problems, then grilled the burgers and dogs (at least I know I won’t be grilling for a crowd next Sunday to make it 3 weeks in a row). We had fun, but called it a night around 9 as we were tuckered out.

Rat bastards!

I’d said in an earlier entry that if Queen and the reunited Pink Floyd played London’s Live 8 show, I’d have to go. Queen has a gig that night, and Pink Floyd adamantly denied they were playing. Until tonight.

Damn, I think Jill’s already signed up to work on the 4th. Yes, I know it’d be a lot of money, but when might it happen again?

Live 8

We’re going to try to go to Philly (over a million expected?) It’ll be at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, starting about noon on July 2 and running for about six hours. Geldof said there will be about 100 bands performing around the world, with 15 to 18 acts playing here. Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, P. Diddy, Jay Z, Maroon 5, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Wonder, Will Smith and Keith Urban have been confirmed for Philly so far. Geldof said that each of their sets will last 10-15 minutes and that more acts will be added in coming days. Rob Thomas and 50 Cent are rumored.

We’ll go early – Dave Matthews Band will go on early as they’ve got another show that evening in Saratoga, NY. We’ll try to take a train in – cars will be banned near the show. Hotel rooms near the city are already full from other events that weekend, so we’ll either try and make it home, or drive an hour to find a place. Or maybe Amtrak – is $172 reasonable for 2 people?

Stoopid Livejournal

Melanie had kindly created a feed from my blog there, but it stopped working 7 weeks ago. She just pointed it out to me (I was of course oblivious – if I saw it at the original URL it must be good).

It was getting a weird parsing error, and I figured it out (with the help of http://feedvalidator.org and some Google searches). The error was on the content:encoded tag around the bulk of the text in my entry (basically to tell the parser to ignore any html). I found out by browsing the source code repository that they switched from looking at the description tag to the content:encoded tag if available because a number of feeds have an excerpt in the first one, and complete text in the second (as detailed in this bug report). So it was an error in my template before, just that Livejournal had ignored that part of it until recently (I did find it interesting that the code changed last September, but didn’t go into production until April).

Once I fixed it, I thought I was done – until I looked at what it was like on Livejournal (sorry about the mess on your friends list, Melanie). I just changed my RSS template again so now it’s just what you’d see at my site (minus the comments, unless anyone thinks it should be different).

Livejournal feed here.

Herndon Fiestaval weekend

Ok, I know it’s late for a report from last weekend, but I’ve been busy, ok?

Thursday I had passes for the reissue of “Stripes”, but Jill didn’t want to go out, so when she went online, I walked over to catch the last half hour of music and see the fireworks. I liked BeauSoleil, didn’t think too much of the Country Gentlemen without their founder. It hadn’t rained too much, but it was cool and I needed my jacket. Fireworks were ok, but I was still at the show and they were too far away.

Friday the rain was misting all night. We walked down to be there at 6 when the music was supposed to start, but they delayed by half an hour to make sure no heavier weather was coming. I took the time to get a beer (hefeweizen) and a burrito from the Tortilla Factory. Jill thought that looked good and did the same. Since there were so few people when we got there, we took a seat down front, but it was loud. The Brindley Brothers were good, have some nice new tunes. Ari Hest was exceptional – I especially like “I’ve Got You”, the tune he’s going to do a duet with Norah Jones with. Glad to have the raincoats.

Saturday started cloudy. A little while after we got to the center stage, the clouds broke, and it was nice the rest of the day. I missed an area on my arma that got burned, and Jill missed a spot, but we were mostly ok, unlike some in the crowd. The afternoon show was local bands. Getaway Car started, playing most of their new CD (I thought it was funny that the sampler I made for the festival had “Big Time Lullabye” and “Losers” on it, and those were the first two songs they played. They played a nice cover of Split Enz’s “I Got You”, and Chris Williams (from the Pat McGee Band) joined them on drums.

Kenin was next. We’d seen them when they opened for emmet swimming, and thought they were ok. We still think so. Cecilia got a number of converts. Their vocals were great, and their stage presence was undeniable. We headed home after their set. We went out and got groceries, then I grilled some steaks and Jill made broccoli with cheese.

Sunday was cloudless but very hot and humid. We got there just in time to see Jim Boggia at the cafe stage. Since no one else asked, I got both of my requests (“Several Thousand” and his cover of the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home”) and I know he did well in merch sales, which was good – I want him to keep coming back to the area. We staked out our chairs at the main stage, abandoning them temporarily for the shade of our friends Stuart and Janice’s beach umbrella. We had a big crowd with us by the time Eddie From Ohio started. They used to play Herndon more before they got big, and it was great to have them so close.

It was interesting to look at setlists from the two other times we’d seen them this year and realize almost half the songs hadn’t been played recently. “Santa Margherita” is always a good choice for a revival, likewise “20000 Hearts”. I hadn’t heard a full version of “Drive” before (which they did for a golf reality show); I thought it sounded pretty good (I like Mike’s harmonica solo). Joe Murphy didn’t make it, but the crowd did him proud during “The Three Fine Daughters Of Farmer Brown”. Because it was so hot, no one was dancing until “Operator”, but then a number of people danced ’til the end. And “Old Dominion” drew the loudest cheers of course. We hung around for a while, then invited everyone around back to our place for a cookout. I grilled burgers and dogs, then we chatted. We watched the Tonys for a while (yay Spamalot), then everyone headed home and we cleaned up.