February 2009


Extra Action Marching Band
The Independent, San Francisco
February 24, 2009

(Click on the image to see the entire set)


Extra Action Marching Band was excellent as usual.  To my count, they had five drummers, ten brass players (two trombone, two tuba, six trumpet), and six ‘extra action’ members (four female, two male, or put differently, two majorettes, two showgirls, and two strippers).  The only possible drawback is that the person who plays bells (glockenspiel?) wasn’t there last night; the bells add something to the percussion IMHO.  But no matter, really; they were still awesome.

Whoever came up with the idea of marching a brass band through a pit deserves a lot of credit; it’s brilliant, really.  Every time I have seen them play they have spent the majority of the time on the floor, in the pit, intermixed with the audience.

Each time I have seen them, they have done something different to start.  Last night, the drums started playing off-stage, or rather, behind the door to the dressing room area.  As they came out, each player turned and marched into the crowd backwards, pushing their way into the mass.  From that point on, it was a free-for-all.  I barely managed to avoid getting a faceful of trombone slide at one point and did get hit with a drumstick once or twice but the rules seem clear; the pit denizens avoid the artists, not the other way around.  Last time I saw them play, of course, I did get clanged in the head with the bell of a sousaphone.

My kind of act.

I will see them again on March 17th.  I’m already excited.

I’m writing this on the ferry on my way home.  My Internet access should be hooked up tomorrow (Thursday) so I should be able to post pictures and whatnot.

I have this spiffy new laptop… Actually, it is not a laptop at all; it is a ‘desktop replacement’. It is the most powerful computing device I have yet owned. It is also the most unstable.

It takes minutes to go to sleep or wake up from sleep. About 50% of the time, it blue-screens on awakening, necessitating a reboot. About 2% of the time, it crashes so hard that I have to repair the O/S; this takes about 30 minutes.

I have had the machine for about two weeks. SuperTech and I agree that the issue is not the machine but the combination of Vista Ultimate 64 and the way I use the machine. I have three different database systems (Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL) on the machine, three different IDEs (Eclipse, Visual Studio, JDeveloper). I have a bunch of Adobe products, a bunch of Mozilla stuff. I run Linux in a virtual machine.

I refuse to accept that in this day and age I can not have all of the tools that I need running on a single machine. In a nod to complexity, I do shut off the database services that I am not using.

I am not sure what I am going to do. Right now, I am planning to sell my new machine and replace it with a MacBook Pro. The several months that I used the Mac belonging to my former employer were very nice; nice to the point that I had totally forgotten what a hassle Microsoft operating systems are.

I will run Oracle and MySQL on Linux on a virtual machine, SQL Server and Visual Studio on Windows XP on a virtual machine, and run Eclipse natively on the Mac, connecting to the database I want to use running on the virtual machine via the virtual network. Should be sweet.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking right now. We’ll see what really happens. One thing’s for sure; I can’t rely on a machine that crashes as often as this one.

I am working in Sausalito. I get to commute by ferry. It takes a little longer to get to work than when I worked in Unpleasanton… Maybe ten minutes longer. The commute is so much nicer, though; instead of a light rail train, I go by boat. It’s cheaper, too; only four dollars each way which includes the bus both ways from my place to and from the ferry. Then when I get to my transit terminus, instead of a mile walk through suburbia and across numerous pedestrian-unfriendly intersections, I walk along the docks to work. No roads; no intersections. It’s a really nice commute.

The ferry is really civilized. I can bring my breakfast onboard and eat while watching the world go by. I can plug my laptop in, as well.  My commute runs counter to the major flow, as well; I tend to have the boat almost to myself. 

The place I am working is the throw of a stone from the bay model. I discovered the bay model quite by accident in 1987 while I was stationed in Vallejo. It’s funny how coincidental life is.

The job seems to be going well. I am reviewing the text messaging work an employee of the company is doing. I was hired specifically for my messaging background but that is a sideline for now. I am primarily doing database work; going over the schema, making minor changes as I see fit and making suggestions for larger improvements. I am learning Hibernate, a technology that is in wide usage. I am being exposed to lots of other useful technologies.

The company seems very interesting.

Tonight I am going to see the Extra Action Marching Band. It will be my third time seeing them; I am excited. I am typing this on the ferry on my way home.

Angel Island is passing on my left; the Golden Gate stands out before the sunset to my right.

This will be posted in the morning; I do not have net access at home for the moment… Should be turned back on Thursday.

I went through a bunch of old albums at the fire department last night.  The albums contain images going back to at least the forties.  Very unfortunately, for the most part the albums do not contain any information about dates, events, or people.  This photograph, for example, shows the fire department in 1948 according to a notation on the back of the print.  There is no information regarding the members, though.

Click on the image to see a larger version.  Note the Dalmatian on the lap of the firefighter in the middle.

WFD 1948

Windsor Fire Department – 1948
Windsor, Vermont

Sort of.

The wait for final word is over; the contract in San Francisco will start Monday.

To celebrate, I plowed the door yard at the ambulance place.  One of the benefits of the job is that they have taught me to run a plow truck.  I have  several years of experience plowing with a drag-behind blade on a tractor (first the ’48 Farm-All that belonged to the Connecticut rental, then our own ’56 John Deere), but had never had the opportunity to plow with a truck.  The deputy chief at my volunteer department had offered to take me plowing before but the opportunity had never presented itself.

Plowing with a truck is a breeze compared to using a tractor.

Last night I went over to my paid department and scanned a bunch of old pictures.  I will post some of them presently.


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