A frenetic joy
I read a post the other day.
Checking for updates...
It was about how to improve and be better in work or life, I forget which.
A new version is available.
There were five tips, maybe seven.
This update includes performance improvements and bug fixes.
I love these short collections of advice. There is much to learn and many people eager to offer guidance.
Do you want to install now?
Sometimes, though, it's as if I'm perpetually chasing a new and improved version of myself.
This will require a restart. Are you sure?
If I apply the lessons of others in just the right combination, I will overcome any imperfections. I will be smarter, better, happier, more productive.
Please wait while the update is downloaded.
It's hard to know where the line is between pursuing worthwhile, rewarding, and necessary, growth and seeing shortcomings at every turn.
To restart now, tap Continue.
I suppose it is mostly a matter of balance. It usually is, isn't it?
For me, balance means deciding now and then to stop chasing upgrades.
Here's a quick overview of what's new.
And instead, enjoy the features and imperfections of this version for a little while.
Check for updates?
Last week's dispatch asked, What's your most memorable concert experience?
I once went to an outdoor concert at my college. The opening act was called Sleeperstar. None of us had heard of them, but the audience was really getting into their set. At one point it started raining, just pouring torrentially. Instead of leaving or putting up umbrellas, my friends and I just kept standing and dancing. We should have been miserable as we were getting soaked to the skin, but the excellent music and the ridiculousness of the experience combined to produce a euphoric feeling that seemed to be shared by the rest of the crowd. I can't even remember who the headliner was, though I'd guess it was Carbon Leaf. I don't go to many concerts anymore, but I often think of that one fondly.
U2 at the Summit in Houston. This was before the spectacle of the Zoo TV years, so it was just the band and a very large building full of people. The whole thing was very stripped-down. The only special effect I remember was Bono shining a flood light onto the crowd. And yet, the show was enthralling. The focus was fully on the music, and the audience was repeatedly encouraged to join in and sing. It worked. So much so that as we trickled out of the auditorium and into the parking garage, strains of “How long to sing this song…” echoed from one concrete pillar to another as the audience kept on singing long after the show was over.
My most memorable concert experience was that of my very first concert. I was probably 11 and my dad took me to see Elton John. He knew the guitarists, so before the show we got to go backstage and meet them. Then we had the most amazing seats at a concert I've ever had and probably will ever have. I was too young to really appreciate seeing sir Elton back then, but even I was super stoked when Jim Carrey came out and sang "Rocket Man" with him. The experience has only grown more awesome in retrospect.
The Civil Wars at Moody Theater. If you've ever seen them perform, you know that experience alone is unforgettable. I've seen them multiple times, but this performance was special for another reason: it was a break from cancer. My wife had been undergoing brutal treatments for Stage 3 melanoma, and our life was largely about surviving from day to day. When we found ourselves with tickets, we weren't even sure if we could make it. We shuffled treatment times to maximize Jen's window of "hey, i don't feel completely and utterly horrible" time for the concert, enjoyed a nice dinner out, and then made our way into the theater for the show. The night was magical. Aside from the wonderful performance, I got to watch my wife smile and laugh for a few hours. It was the perfect concert for us during an intense season of our lives, and I will never forget the beauty of that performance. More importantly, I will treasure the few moments my wife and I shared together without a single thought of cancer intruding.
My first concert experience was Yes at the Garden State Arts Center in good old New Jersey. My older brother took me, which I thought was so cool, because I was just a kid and didn't know anything about music. It turned me into a lifelong Yes fan, that's for sure. While that was my first concert, it was not my most memorable. The one that stands out to me the most was the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in the Berkshires. I was at a yoga retreat across the street and some of my classmates rallied a crew to walk over. I had never seen anything like it. People were picnicking to the nth degree: wine, cheese, baskets of gourmet goodies, candelabras… with candles!<br><br>We found a grassy patch to set up our "camp" waiting for the music to begin. I remember lying on my back looking up at the dusky sky as the music began to play. Bats came from seemingly out of nowhere, dancing and flapping in perfect harmony with the music, framed by the leaves of tall trees. My heart and soul soared with the music and I felt a frenetic joy. After the concert, we walked back to the retreat center in the pitch black night. No moon. No sound. The only way to "see" was to hold onto your neighbor and just keep taking steps forward. From beginning to end, it was a concert I won't soon forget!
As an obnoxious teenager with a taste for Casey Kasem's American top 40, I used to spend all my allowances going to expensive (like $60-100) arena shows in Tokyo. I got to see Def Leppard on Hysteria Tour, U2 on Rattle and Hum tour, and some other amazing shows. But once, on a lark, a friend and I decided to go see Falco (remember "Rock Me Amadeus?").<br><br>We really thought it was a joke—the friend had somehow gotten the tickets for free. At the time, we worshipped A-ha, thought Sting was really snobbish, and anything counter-culture was way over our heads (we thought Boy George was just weird.) So, naturally, we were in for a big surprise! We talked about it for months, and I don't think we ever recovered from the experience.
My most memorable concert experience is not for the performer as you would expect (especially when your see who the performer was!) but more for the one moment that happened during the concert that I will never forget. Growing up my brother (who was much older than me) loved the music of Elvis Presley. On a very cold winter day my Mom and I drove down to the ticket agency and stood outside for hours on end to purchase tickets for my brother to see Elvis in concert. We did this for my brother because he was working and couldn't take the day off. As a thank you my brother took me and my two sisters to the concert with him.<br><br>Sitting in a the packed venue, the intro music began and everyone rose to their feet, it's what happened next that I will never forget. As Elvis entered the stage, the entire center turned to blue flash, I think I was the only one without a camera. For what seemed like an eternity, the Capitol Center remained blue with constant flash. It was if the sky had come down filled with stars shinning brightly inside the venue. My sisters, and brother and I looked at each other star-struck, not by Elvis as you'd expect, but by what we had just witnessed. We knew that was a moment we'd never experience again in our lives. Even today when we all get together we still speak of that experience, we call it "our 8th wonder of the world". I was very young and this was one of Elvis' last concerts before he passed away. While the memory of him on stage has faded, the blue flash has not dimmed one bit.
This is a tough one. I think I'll have to go with Death Cab for Cutie, 2005, in Grand Prairie, Texas. It was the debut tour of Plans, one of my favorite albums of all time, with my new girlfriend (now my wife) in a strange and new city at night. That whole trip was incredible, but the concert stands out and seems to represent an amazing time in my life.<br><br>The runner up would definitely be Foo Fighters at Austin City Limits in 2008, closing out the show. The performance was top notch, the crowd was great and we were just close enough to have our faces properly rocked. Incredible show.
My most memorable concert experience was being in the front of the audience in bombed out Flint Michigan, listening to Harry Chapin championing ending world hunger. His music gripped me, a barely driving teenager. I felt so grown up to be there with my good friends, to have this deep touching experience from all my senses - sharing a sense of cause, inwardly soaring on his unique lyrics and chords, the minor thrill of yelling that the Banana Song ending 'Sucked' (racy language to this 17 year old girl!), and enjoying his twinkling eyes and bawdy humor up close as he offered during intermission "to sign ANYTHING when you contribute to end world hunger." A single minded passion. Caught all of his several concerts in Flint, where unknown Michael Moore had convinced him to help support his "Flint Voice" newspaper. Relishing the shared intimacy of the happy audiences with every play of the ALBUM (ah hem), until the utter shock of his fatal car accident just short weeks (or months? Felt like minutes) after a great great concert. ALthough that was 1981, it still counts in my heart as the loss of one of my most fond folks.
Growing up in a sheltered, middle-class and protestant-strict immigrant family with a lack of awareness of pop culture can be advantageous. Well, it was advantageous for me just once. When I turned 16, my parents enrolled me into a driving school program in the summer. The program promoted a defensive style of driving that I'm grateful for.<br><br>By happenstance, anyone who enrolled into the program during that particular summer was automatically entered into a contest to win 2 tickets to a concert. The call from the driving school letting me know that I won tickets to a concert was an unexpected surprise. My parents, of course, made the final decision and they allowed me to go to, what they thought, was a polite music concert by some band called SuperTramp.<br><br>After my parents dropped my friend and I off at the largest venue in Vancouver for the show, we wandered into this massive stadium and noticed there were a lot of guys with long hair. But the real fun started when the band came on stage and all of a sudden a very aromatic herbal smell filled the entire stadium. To my inexperienced, younger self, it was exciting and I couldn't believe my parents allowed it to happen.
It occurred at seventeen when I was a foreign exchange student living with a family in Lyon. We were attending a performance of Aida at an outdoor Roman amphitheater. The setting was unbelievable listening to glorious music under the stars. As my French mother was a former opera star, many attendees came over to say hello to her and to meet me. I stumbled over French and they stumbled over English, but by the end of the evening, we all knew that music truly was the universal language.
I had been eagerly seeking tickets to Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" tour with no success for any dates in Texas. Impatiently, I started searching for other possibilities and saw they had a show in Seattle the first week of the spring semester... meaning, I could TOTALLY miss class and it "wouldn't matter". I saw the tickets were still for sale (not a common occurrence in Austin) and for $23.50 (what a steal!) so I bought two immediately!<br><br>My sister sat behind me, unaware of what I was doing, as I began booking flights and hostels. Once I was finished I asked her how feasible it would be for her to get time off. She asked what for, and I said "because I just booked flights to Seattle for the Phoenix concert." With panic she tried to understand the situation that I pushed her into, then began working on emailing her bosses. We "went to a family wedding" in Seattle that year as far as anyone was concerned. We ended up at this amazing hostel (City Hostel Seattle), where we made lasting friends with the employees there, and go to see Phoenix. It was everything we had hoped for: The newer songs, the favorites, and an acoustic of "Everything is Everything". We felt so fulfilled and absolutely exhilarated by the experience of lights and having this communal dance party with complete strangers! It was worth everything to redeem 5 years of waiting to see them, and I think that's what made it so wonderful.
I could think (and talk) about this one for hours. Three of my favorites: Phish with 250 people at Michigan State; Grateful Dead in Chicago with my wife; and Radiohead at ACL Live with my son. It was a dream come true to see our favorite band together at our favorite venue with just 3,000 other fans.
An Interview With My Friend Bill Van Hecke by Jon Bell. The interview is focused on software and user experience, but it begins with a recent prompt: What tv show, book movie, etc would you tell someone about to help them understand you as a friend? It's interesting to see where a simple question can take you.
News and such
Here is a smattering of things currently in progress: making it possible to invite a friend and for the friend to join, creating the perfect word list for secret invite phrases, debating solid versus vintage with printers, designing the page where you can see the stories of everyone who shares the same favorite thing, and adding replies and scanned images from founding member postcards. It's enormously fun, as is working with these excellent people.
What dessert puts the biggest smile on your face?