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Archive for December, 2012

We all survived the Mayan end of days relatively unscathed. I didn’t sit on my laurels waiting for the fiery end, I rocked all year. This is my music story for 2012 and I’m sticking to it.

I added 50 new albums to my library. I attended 26 concerts (or more specifically 61 music sets). I went to the first annual Firefly Music Festival in Delaware. I listened to music while running. While hiking. And everywhere in between. Enough small talk.

Top Albums Listened to in 2012*

  1. ‘My Head Is An Animal’ by Of Monsters And Men
  2. ‘Synthetica’ by Metric
  3. ‘Electra Heart’ by Marina and the Diamonds
  4. ‘III’ by Shiny Toy Guns
  5. ‘Human Again’ by Inrid Michaelson
  6. ‘Walk The Moon’ by Walk The Moon
  7. ‘Passive Me, Aggresive You’ by The Naked and Famous
  8. ‘Bodyparts’ by Dragonette
  9. ‘King Animal’ by Soundgarden – They are back! Not their best album, but certainly worthy.
  10. ‘Some Nights’ by fun.

Honorable mentions: ‘Velociraptor!’ by Kasabian, ‘Start the Revolution Without Me’ by Kaiser Chiefs, ‘Anxiety’ by Ladyhawke

*Does not have to have been released in 2012.

Bonus #1: Top Concerts of 2012

  1. The Black Keys (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
  2. Kaiser Chiefs (9:30 Club)
  3. Shiny Toy Guns (Rock and Roll Hotel)
  4. The Killers at Firefly Music Festival Day 2 (Dover Downs)
  5. Of Monsters And Men (The Filmore)
  6. Kasabian (9:30 Club)

 

Bonus #2: Most Listened to Songs in 2012 (According to iTunes)

  1. ‘Little Talks’ by Of Monsters And Men (42)
  2. ‘Do It Now’ by Ingrid Michaelson
  3. ‘Young Blood’ by The Naked and Famous
  4. ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ by The Black Keys
  5. ‘Some Nights’ by fun.
  6. ‘Anna Sun’ by Walk the Moon
  7. ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon
  8. ‘Petition’ by Tennis
  9. ‘Days Are Forgotten’ by Kasabian
  10. ‘Comeback Kid’ by Sleigh Bells
  11. ‘Oh My God’ by Kaiser Chiefs
  12. ‘Taken For A Fool’ by The Strokes
  13. ‘The Wanderlust’ by Metric
  14. ‘Fading Listening’ by Shiny Toy Guns
  15. ‘Cinema’ by Benny Benassi
  16. ‘No Light, No Light’ by Florence + The Machine
  17. ‘Slow and Steady’ by Of Monsters And Men
  18. ‘Mountain Sound’ by Of Monsters And Men
  19. ‘Tongue Tied’ by Grouplove
  20. ‘Synthetica’ by Metric
  21. ‘Blood Brothers’ by Ingrid Michaelson
  22. ‘Radioactive’ by Marina And The Diamonds
  23. ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford & Sons
  24. ‘How To Be A Heartbreaker’ by Marina And The Diamonds
  25. ‘Lonely Boy’ by The Black Keys (19)

Bonus #3: All Albums Acquired in 2012

  1. ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon
  2. ‘All of You’ by Colbie Caillat
  3. ‘Transatlanticism’ by Death Cab for Cutie
  4. ‘Third’ by Portishead
  5. ‘Passive Me, Aggresive You’ by The Naked and Famous
  6. ‘Human Again’ by Inrid Michaelson
  7. ‘Velociraptor!’ by Kasabian
  8. ‘Reign of Terror’ by Sleigh Bells
  9. ‘A Guide To Love, Loss & Desparation’ by The Wombats
  10. ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ by Van Halen
  11. ‘Employment’ by Kaiser Chiefs
  12. ‘Sounds From Nowheresville’ by The Ting Tings
  13. ‘Galore’ by Dragonette
  14. ‘Young & Old’ by Tennis
  15. ‘My Head Is An Animal’ by Of Monsters And Men
  16. ‘Little Broken Hearts’ by Norah Jones
  17. ‘Start the Revolution Without Me’ by Kaiser Chiefs
  18. ‘Some Nights’ by fun.
  19. ‘Rubber Factory’ by The Black Keys
  20. ‘Neck of the Woods’ by Silversun Pickups
  21. ‘Sam’s Town’ by The Killers
  22. ‘First Impressions of Earth’ by The Strokes
  23. ‘Synthetica’ by Metric
  24. ‘Walk The Moon’ by Walk The Moon
  25. ‘Blunderbluss’ by Jack White
  26. ‘Never Trust a Happy Song’ by Grouplove
  27. ‘Palomimo’ by Trampled By Turtles
  28. ‘Future This’ by The Big Pink
  29. ‘Magic Potion’ by The Black Keys
  30. ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunitic’ by Kasabian
  31. ‘Pala’ by Friendly Fires
  32. ‘MDNA’ by Madonna
  33. ‘Night Work’ by Scissor Sisters
  34. ‘Rabbits On the Run’ by Vanessa Carlton
  35. ‘I’m With You’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  36. ‘Anxiety’ by Ladyhawke
  37. ‘Electra Heart’ by Marina and the Diamonds
  38. ‘Battle Born’ by The Killers
  39. ‘Babel’ by Mumford & Sons
  40. ‘III’ by Shiny Toy Guns
  41. ‘Mirage Rock’ by Band of Horses
  42. ‘Hot Fuss’ by The Killers
  43. ‘Bodyparts’ by Dragonette
  44. ‘The Family Jewels’ by Marina and the Diamonds
  45. ‘Former Lives’ by Benjamin Gibbard
  46. ‘¡Uno!’ by Green Day
  47. ‘¡Dos!’ by Green Day
  48. ‘King Animal’ by Soundgarden
  49. ‘Coexist’ by The xx
  50. ‘Empire’ by Kasabian

Rock on!

2012-12-31_1620

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Not much reading happened in 2012. By me. I’m sure others read more.

So begins my annual year-in-review. Let’s start with books.

I spent the time doing plenty of non-reading activities – like playing sports, trying to run, catching up on some TV shows or traveling.

There were a few good books from what I did read, so let’s look at those.

5. This Is A Book (Demetri Martin, 2012) – A random collection of humorous musings and dry wit. When you’re not laughing you will be smiling. If you’re not already familiar with Martin’s deadpan delivery and clever observations, get that way.

4. Nightwoods (Charles Frazier, 2011) – A women living in the woods suddenly has to take care of her troubled niece and nephew after her sister is killed. Someone from the children’s past comes looking for something they have hidden. Lock the door.

3. The Leopard (Jo Nesbø, 2012) – Harry Hole is a detective.  Jo Nesbø likes to write crime thrillers about Harry. Trading somewhat off the popularity of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (as both authors are from Scandinavia – Norway and Sweden), these Harry Hole novels are good in their own right and don’t really need the comparison. If you like crime and mystery novels, you will like this.

2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card, 1994) – A Nebula Award winner, and now a movie with Harrison Ford in 2013, this tale of a boy whose genius is prized by the military. They want to train him as a military commander to defeat the alien buggers that invaded three generations ago and are coming back. With a surprising twist ending and a relatively short read, you don’t want to miss this story. I also read the sequel, Speaker for the Dead – set 3,000 years after the events of Ender and looks at conflict with a different alien race. Every bit as good.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain, 2012) – A great look at how the extrovert ideal has become such a part of our culture that we don’t even stop to realize that it’s the introverts that are just as likely to be good leaders and innovators (in fact, more likely). You don’t have to believe me, just read the book. It will also help you to better relate to your friends, family and colleagues.

Read long and prosper.

Book's 2012

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The first annual Firefly Music Festival took place from July 20-22, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. I was there.

I saw 18 sets in three days. 10 of the artists were for the first time, most notable – Jack White and The Killers. There were four stages that rotated acts, so there were always two shows going on at once.

Here, with minimal restraint, is what went down.

The Good

1) The Killers, Black Keys, Jack White, Walk the Moon, CAKE and Grouplove

2) The Brewery – A beer garden that served Dogfish Head beers for $8, including one made for this festival, the Firefly Ale. I was partial to the 9% ABV Midas Touch.

3) Towers Beach – We needed a break after two days of music, so on Sunday morning we drove just south of Dewey Beach for a swim and a few rounds of cards in the sand. Afterwards we had fish tacos at El Dorado. Tasty.

4) The weather – It was overcast the entire time, but no real rain. Only a misting here and there. I expected to be hot and bothered and get some serious sun on my pale skin. This was perfect.

5) Seven Nation Army – After Jack White’s Friday night performance, everyone hummed the refrain from ‘Seven Nation Army’ as we walked through the woods to the exit. Even better, everyone did it again after The Killers’ show on Saturday.

The Bad

1) The Felice Brothers

2) The phone recharging stations – A good idea, but they didn’t have enough ports to keep up with the demand. The generator feeding the power was seriously overloaded. 45 minutes to get 15% more power? Bah humbug.

3) Camping – The three nights in a tent itself wasn’t so bad. But the campsites were tiny and packed together like monkeys in a barrel. One of the workers was so clueless he almost gave away half of our site to park more cars. Luckily someone with sense came by and told him to stand down.

4) Hammock Hangout – Could be a good idea but way too small. And who knows where the people using the hammocks have been…

The Ugly

1) Glamping – $1000 for 3 nights of pampered camping? We saw no one partaking. It looked like the barracks of a Civil War army. Minus the horses. And the soldiers.

Friday

  1. The Wallflowers – A live version of ‘One Headlight’ to kick us off. ‘She always had a pretty face’.
  2. OK Go – A decent set. They even broke out their treadmills during their hit song ‘Here It Goes Again’.
  3. Walk The Moon – These guys are good. This was the second time I’ve seen them in 2012 and among the top five performances of the festival.
  4. Silversun Pickups – This guys are a bit of Smashing Pumpkins-lite, which I like. Good show.
  5. Jack White – After a bit of sound trouble with the first few songs, they fixed it and Jack crushed us with his guitar riffs. A seven nation army could NOT hold him back. 

Saturday

  1. Imagine Dragons – I had not heard these guys before this, but enjoyed the songs and will definitely check them out.
  2. The Felice Brothers – Ugh. Hated it.
  3. Grouplove – By far and away the most enthusiastic band of the whole festival. ‘Tongue Tied’ really got the crowd pumped up for the rest of the day.
  4. Young the Giant – I was looking forward to seeing these guys at the 9:30 Club earlier in the year – that show was just okay. This show was kind of boring after the energy of Grouplove.
  5. CAKE – In a haze of weed and flower girls dancing, CAKE went the distance. And it was good.
  6. Trampled by Turtles – Was starting to get antsy so probably didn’t give this my full attention. But I was not bowled over.
  7. Modest Mouse – They rocked hard. Not my thing though.
  8. The Killers – The best show of the festival. In addition to the great music, they had the most extensive light show and stage act (with fireworks!).

Sunday

  1. Mariachi El Bronx – Entertaining.
  2. Fitz and the Tantrums – Starting to lose my attention. Too much music. I wasn’t in to it.
  3. Death Cab for Cutie – Good but not the best performance I’ve seen by them.
  4. The Flaming Lips – The most eccentric and biggest spectacle of the festival. Wayne Coyne crowd surfed in a human hamster ball (of course). Stage singers dressed up like the Wizard of Oz characters (hello Dorothy!). Confetti. Beach balls. Although it was entertaining, I’m not a huge fan of the music.
  5. The Black Keys – The second time I saw them in 2012. The first time at Merriweather Post Pavilion was better, but this was definitely among the best sets of the festival and a good way to end.
Welcome to Firefly

Welcome to Firefly

Have a brew

Have a brew

Grouplove

Grouplove

The Lawn Stage

The Lawn Stage

Teeming hordes

Teeming hordes

Crowd

The beach

The beach

No waves today

No waves today

Flaming Lips Exploding

Flaming Lips Exploding

Human hamster ball

Human hamster ball

Human hamster ball 2

The Black Keys

The Black Keys

Group shot

Group shot #

peace

# Photo courtesy of Mike O’Brien

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In 2012, I visited four new Major League Baseball stadiums. My quest to see a game in all MLB stadiums is progressing nicely. Only nine more to go.

Here is the run-down.

Marlins Park (Miami, Florida) – Home of the Miami Marlins

Highs

  • The focus on local, Cuban food. Tasty.
  • The Bobblehead Museum was a different twist. Featuring many smiling, nodding players from each team.
  • We saw R.A. Dickey (Mets), the eventual NL Cy Young award winner, pitch and dominate the Marlins, 9-3.

Lows

  • Good grief, the Marlins’ new logo and art deco color scheme are the worst in sports (well, after the University of Oregon and some NBA teams).
  • As a stadium with a retractable roof (because it is so hot all the time), it is quite dark and the interior is not that interesting.
  • In the outfield is a mechanical jumping dolphin diorama that goes off when the Marlins hit a home run. They didn’t.

Verdict: As the newest MLB stadium, it is not very good.

O.co Coliseum (Oakland, California) – Home of the Oakland Athletics

Highs

  • I sat in a section with old-timer baseball fans reminiscing about this and that. Without sports commentators to listen to, this made for a good baseball history diversion.
  • The pulled pork nachos in a green helmet were solid.

Lows

  • This is in the middle of nowhere, south of Oakland. The only reason a visitor would go anywhere near is they are visiting every MLB ballpark.
  • The dreary, soul-less parking lots surrounding the stadium.
  • The old school stadium from the 1960’s.

Verdict: Somehow not as bad as I expected, but Oakland needs to raze this beast from the ’60’s and build a new stadium.

AT&T Park (San Francisco, California) – Home of the San Francisco Giants

Highs

  • The Giants were in the thick of the playoff race in late August, so the atmosphere was electric as they battled the Atlanta Braves for a 5-2 victory.
  • With the view of the surrounding San Francisco Bay and a crisp summer evening, it is not a bad way to spend the evening.
  • The stadium itself feels cozy and has a unique charm that other newer stadiums have tried to capture, but failed. I liked all the brick walls and the facade.
  • Getting to the stadium via street trolleys was interesting and you are literally downtown after the game with everywhere to go.

Lows

  • Not much really.

Verdict: Among the top 2-3 stadiums I’ve visited so far. Well worth the visit. Go.

Citi Field (New York, New Y0rk) – Home of the New York Mets

Highs

  • The inside has a bridge motif (after New York’s many bridges). There is one pedestrian bridge called Shea Bridge in the right outfield section that is meant to resemble Hell Gate Bridge and is a nice vantage point to catch some of the game. The inside also sort of reminded me of Safeco Field in Seattle (which is good).
  • They have a Shake Shack. The line was too long so I had Blue Smoke BBQ instead.
  • There is a Home Run Apple in centerfield. When the Mets hit a homerun it pops up in full red glory.
  • R.A. Dickey (him again?) pitched and won his 20th game which probably sealed his Cy Young victory.

Lows

  • The 7 train takes almost an hour to get there from Manhattan.
  • There is no bars or restaurants nearby to go to after the game (that I could see).
  • This was the last Mets game of the season. Since they were not good, there wasn’t much fan energy and many empty seats.

Verdict: I liked this stadium much better than Yankee Stadium. A good stadium but it takes a long time to get to.

Photo gallery

Bobblehead Museum at Marlins Park

Bobblehead Museum at Marlins Park

Seattle bobbleheads

Seattle bobbleheads

Ugly

Ugly

Homerun Dolphin

Homerun Dolphin

O.co Coliseum

O.co Coliseum

This little piggy

This little piggy

Nachos in a helment

Nachos in a helment

AT&T Park

AT&T Park

AT&T Park

View of the Bay

View of the Bay

AT&T Park 3

Willie Mays Gate

Citi Field - New York Mets

Citi Field – New York Mets

Citi Field

Citi Field

Home Run Apple

Home Run Apple

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Under the Influence of Eggnog

Merry Christmas! Chug plenty of eggnog and find a sprig of mistletoe to wait under. Give and be joyous. Enjoy family and friends. Be at peace.

With the pleasantries over, I have been remiss. Remiss in finishing what I started.

Throughout 2012, I have started to write numerous blog posts on many topics. I just never finished them. My list of ‘draft posts’ is overpowering my ‘published posts’.

I was too busy. They are too big in scope. I have too much to say. I need to organize the photos. I wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t have the right inspiration in the last third of the post. I was traveling. I don’t like what I wrote. I was under the influence of eggnog and other adult beverages.

I can give any number of excuses, but what’s done is done.

I have two weeks of vacation and a mood. So in addition to my normal ‘highlights of the year’ posts (on such diverse topics as Sports, Music, Books and Movies), I hope to finish many of these incomplete works. And, yes, post them.

Peace and merriment to you and yours

From A Random Journey  

2012-12-24_1733

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You’ve decided to visit Yosemite National Park. Good choice. You may be smarter than you look.

But to that point, why are you reading this blog post? There are libraries and servers and wikipedias filled with much more useful information on Yosemite.

As long as you’re here…

Survival Tip 1: Plan ahead

Do research and make a plan before you go. Pick the right season when water is still cascading over the famous waterfalls and Mirror Lake is not Sand Meadows. Or you could take my approach: arrive at San Francisco airport, rent a car, drive many hours, pay the fee, explore the Yosemite Valley visitor grocery store, buy snacks, pour over maps, make hiking plans and look for a place to sleep. But make sure you know in advance that there is…

Survival Tip 2: No car camping in the park

I did know that. I wanted to test the theory. Car camping is the fancy way of saying ‘sleeping in your car without paying for a campsite’. Within minutes of parking away from the grocery store parking lot, a Park Ranger was shining a flashlight in my face and ‘encouraging’ me to get out of Dodge. He wasn’t rude, but he wasn’t particularly nice either. Probably because he has to deal with my kind far too often. So, if you learn nothing else today…don’t try to car camp in Yosemite. They will find you.

Survival Tip 3: Go early!

Because I had to drive 25 minutes out of the park and ‘car camp’ on the side of the road, I was highly motivated to avoid sleeping in the driver’s seat for long. The best advice I can give you about Yosemite (if you want to hike), is to go early. I was back in the park and buying coffee by 6:30am and on the trail by 7:00am. I cannot stress this enough. GO EARLY! Why, you ask? Because starting around 11:00am or noon, the apocalypse starts. Slow walkers, dilly-dallyers, shufflers, idlers and their ilk. No, not zombies, but families. Extended families. And whole family trees all descend on the park at once.

When there are but a few people out hiking, this is one of the most beautiful places you can imagine. You can really find the tranquility of nature. If you are a hiker or just enjoy nature, then you know what I mean.

Survival Tip 4: Park and use the shuttle

Yosemite has a very efficient shuttle bus system. You park and then find one of 21 hop-on hop-off stops in the Yosemite Valley region. I explored much of this area after a 8.5 mile hike on the High Sierra Loop Trail. I witnessed every angle of Vernal and Nevada falls.

Then I took the bus a couple stops over and hiked a mile to Mirror Lake, which was completely dry…then the bus took me to Yosemite Falls, which had almost no water falling…it did allow me to pick my way over massive boulders all the way up to the base and dip my feet in the pools of water.

Next time I want to climb to the top of Half Dome and explore some of the other regions of the park. I’d suggest going earlier than August.

Survival Tip 5: Take a camera

So you can capture the moment. Like this…

Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park

Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park

Nevada Fall

Nevada Fall

Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall

Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall

Liberty Cap

This way

Half Dome and Liberty Cap

Half Dome and Liberty Cap

Half Dome

Half Dome

Mirror Lake - minus the water

Mirror Lake – minus the water

Yosemite Falls - minus the water

Yosemite Falls – minus the water

Keeping cool

Keeping cool

Perfect Balance

Perfect Balance

Three Brothers

Three Brothers

El Capitan

El Capitan

Shadow leaf

Shadow leaf

peace

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A walk in the woods? A night in a stone cabin with no electricity? S’mores, adult beverages and too much food? Three roaring fires? A few rounds of Catchphrase?

These are the things that a weekend make.

A mere two-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail and you arrive at the Myron Glaser Cabin. Optional evening Sasquatch hunt included.

Don’t take my word for it.

This way

This way

There it is

There it is

The cabin

The cabin

The backyard

From the backyard: Nice deck

Pause for a comfort break...

Pause for a comfort break…

...but make it quick!

…but make it quick!

Wood stove

Wood stove

Plenty of tools

Plenty of tools

To the loft

To the loft

Log book

To fire or not to fire?

Fire!

(missing photos)

Group shot 1 #

Group shot 1 #

Group shot 2 #

Group shot 2 #

 

peace

# Photos with # are courtesy of Ashley Edwards

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