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May 30, 2004

Summer Festival Season is Upon Us

Yesterday I did monitors for the Apple Blossom Festival. It was my first outdoor show of the summer festival season, and despite a few minor glitches, the show went really well.

The rain cleared up later in the day and we didn't have to tear down in the mud. Andy Devoe did a fine job at FOH, and I don't think I had a single ring or squeal on stage during the show. I hope it sets the tone for similar shows over the next few months.

The headline act was The Barra McNeil's, and they have their own self-contained monitor system, so we actually were able to get a head start packing our stage cabling and monitor equipment, which really made the teardown go faster. We also had some great loaders from CFB Greenwood. They were excellent workers and really helped us get out of there quickly. Plus, I don't think I've ever seen a PM4000 go up a short ramp into a trailer so easily.

May 29, 2004

Banana Milkshake, V0.1

I've always loved bananas, and especially banana milkshakes. I also like fruit smoothies and sweet drinks of all kinds. So, this week I invested in a top of the line, $35 blender at WalMart. Tonight, my first attempt at a milkshake.

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

At first, I thought the result wasn't thick enough, but after tasting it, I think it was fine in that regard. As for the taste, it's perhaps a little too much honey and vanilla, but not bad for a first try, I guess.

May 18, 2004

Why not mention one more good thing?

I think I've already posted months ago about Video Difference. It's a great independent store here in town that I really should make the effort to patronize more frequently. They have great atmosphere, excellent service and a selection that simply puts Blockbuster to shame. On top of that, I just got a postcard for a free rental, I guess since I haven't rented there in a while. It worked - I went there again for the first time in months tonight.

Of course, it was a good thing the movie was free, because I probably wouldn't have paid money to rent Johnny English. Some funny slapstick moments, especially near the end, but I should know better - it was a little too silly-stupid for my tastes.

May 17, 2004

More Stuff I Like

I seem to be on a positive trend lately, so to continue it...

  • Halifax - one of the first cruise ships of the season was in port today, as well as a US Navy helicopter carrier (perhaps it was the Marines). They both just reminded me that Halifax is a really nice city, with lots of things to see and do.
  • Comfy Corner Cafe - across from my building on Hollis street is this little cafe that I had never eaten at until the guys from work started going there last week for lunch. A relaxed atmosphere and spacious with great service and food that really seems more like homemade. I particularly recommend the strawberry-rhubard pie. I'm told the apple pie is exceptional as well.

May 16, 2004

More good stuff

I've rarely had a hot and sour soup anywhere that compares with The Magic Wok in St. John's. However, I just had the hot and sour from China Classic on Quinpool road across from McDonalds. It's not bad.

When I got home I just happened to turn on the comedy network. I don't often watch that channel, but a rerun of Wayne and Shuster was on. I remember watching that show before Hockey Night in Canada, back when I was in elementary school. I gotta say, I like some of that classic schtick.

May 15, 2004

Things that make me happy

To balance my last entry, here are some things that I'm really happy about. Things that I have noticed myself thinking were above and beyond expectations, but that I rarely take the time to share about with others.

  • Eastlink Cable's high-speed internet service. They have always had good service with competative prices, and well-managed servers with good policies. Their mail server isn't an open relay, and they don't firewall customers too agressively. However, recently, they must have upgraded their bandwidth, because I have noticed my download speeds really increasing. It is no longer uncommon for me to be able to download 6 or 8 files simultaneously and sustain rates of 80 kB/s or more on each download. Yesterday I had a bittorrent download reach 400 kB/s - that's 350 MB in less than 30 minutes!
  • Matt Cammeart and Sharpe Blackmore. I did three shows with them this week for Volvo Canada, and Matt was really easy to work with. He was clear in his expectations and he treated me very well. Thanks, Matt for making a long week an enjoyable one.
  • The superintendents in my building, Vlad and his wife Natalia. If Templeton Place Ltd has any smarts they'll hold on to them. They are always very pleasant understanding and accommodating. They are on the ball with routine cleaning and maintenance, and they seem to know almost everybody's name.

Pet Peeve

I'm not real experienced in corporate event production, though I have operated for a respectable number of shows in the past year. One thing that really bugs me is the tendancy for show directors to not know how to use an intercom system. Almost always they turn their mic on and leave it on from beginning of the show until the end. I understand that they need to speak often, but there really is no need for me to have to listen to the racket of an open mic on the intercom line all during the 90-minute dinner service when there is absolutely nothing happening on stage. Perhaps this is normal and considered proper etiquette, I don't know. It surely is not a major problem, but it is annoying, all the same.

May 13, 2004

Recent gigs

Since I'm awake early, here's what I've been up to for the last few days: more comedy shows, if you can believe it. Tuesday was a dinner for some public utilities conference at Pier 22 with Tony Quinn doing comedy and some maritime guitar and fiddle dinner music by Dave McIssac and another fellow. Last night I did a comedy show at another local restaurant, again for Volvo, as on Monday night. One more of those tomorrow. Today, I'm doing lighting for a corporate event at the trade and convention centre. Today will probably be the longest day of the week.

I was getting up anyway

Well, for the second time this year, I've huddled on the sidewalk with the 60 or 70 people who live in my building, while the fire department came to check on an alarm. For some reason I was half awake anyway when it went off at 5:57 AM, and I knew just what it was, so I calmly got up, got dressed and went downstairs. Of course, I forgot a jacket and my camera.

Last time, I actually was just getting home, so I turned around and went back to my car and left the building before the fire trucks arrived. I didn't really get a chance to look at my fellow tenants. This time I was freezing on the sidewalk with the rest of them, so I looked around. Apparently my building is almost exclusively twenty-somethings, with a few foreign grad students (I'm guessing) thrown in for good measure.

I just happened to put on my t-shirt from The Light Stuff, so Tommy you can rest assured that if any of those 60 sleepy, half-awake college students need a lighting show, they know who to call. Hey, I represent.

Oh, I guess I should mention that this time was another false alarm, so all is well. I think this time it was a dry sprinkler system in a public area. Last time it was the sprinkler in the apartment around the corner from me. Just now I talked to some of the tenants from that apartment, and apparently they were away and a guest in their apartment hung a coat hanger from a sprinkler head. The apartment was flooded and the insurance claim was $28,000. Oh well, at least they had insurance.

May 11, 2004

Bike riding

My bike hasn't been in riding condition for a while - even before I packed up for the moves, it need a tune up and wheels trued. Finally last week I took it to Cyclesmith on Quinpool Road, and today I'm supposed to pick it up. I can't wait to have my bike around again.

The repair bill is actually quite expensive, since over the winter I had my rear tire stolen. The bike isn't fancy, but it's not an entry level model, either, so I couldn't just slap a $40 wheel on it from Walmart. I also wanted to put some slicker tires on it for better on-pavement riding. Add in a complete overhaul and tune-up of the gears and brakes, and it became an investment.

I think it's going to pay off, though. Almost all of my work is within a kilometre or two of my apartment in downtown Halifax. I have done some rollerblading to work, but that can be challenging downtown.

By the way, anybody in the south end who's looking for somebody to go out riding with, drop me an email!

Gig reports

I've had a string of fun gigs lately, and not enough time to blog about them.

Last Wednesday I did sound at the Casino for a comedy show for the Investors Group. It featured some of the same guys that were part of the Halifax Comedy Fest broadcast by CBC, in the same venue.

Friday night I did lights at the convention centre (WTCC) for the Irish Descendants, who were playing a social/party by Pharmachoice for it's employees or something. I didn't quite catch what, but the event was very laid back and informal, so I was able to be a little creative. And I got to use green. Very rarely do you use green light. Wouldn't it be funny if the Descendants hate green, and never told me?

Saturday night the same lighting rig was in the same room at the WTCC, just moved over 20 feet. That was really annoying, but we put the rig together carefully on Friday so that the move went pretty smoothly. The Saturday show was Raylene Rankin, JP Cormier, and the Nova Scotia Symphony. I didn't have any haze or atmosphere, but I did have 12 movers, so I had to be a little creative. The shop has an old, large white backdrop, which I used. I also took some narrow white strips and used them to hide the upstage truss and lifts, which I thought was pretty slick. I had 4 iSpots upstage, 2 proWash 250s on the deck, 2 iSpots and 4 proWashes on the front truss. I also had 16 Source4 pars down front and 8 upstage.

I'm not sure if I really spread my movers around optimally, but I ended up with some nice looks by using the front proWashes to light the backdrop like a cyc, and the upstage iSpots to project rotating, prismed gobo effects at sharp angles. I also had 10 more pars on floor bases to light the black drape at either side of the stage, so at times when the colors in my movers matched the floor lighting, I had a really nice, bright, wide backdrop to the orchestra.

To end it off, last night I did another comedy show at the Da Maurizio restaurant. That was probably the only time I'll see the inside of that joint. A little out of my price range, I think. The manager Tanya and the staff were extremely easy to work with. The performers were Steve Patterson and Sean Majumbner, and they were entertaining about 40 or so top Volvo dealership owners from across Canada, I think. 1 leko and two Eon10s with a wireless mic and a 01V in a tiny back area of a fancy restaurant. It was a good night.

So now that the crazy last three weeks are done, I recovered my sleep on Sunday, and I'm looking forward to this week with a few more shows, but also some time to get some progress made in the shop on repairing some things, improving our cabling, and preparing for the summer busy season.

May 02, 2004

Networking advice

Don't know where I came across this article about networking, but it's interesting. It meshes really well with the book I'm reading at the moment How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I'm not specifically looking for a job at the moment, but the networking article was really timely. I've recently come to the realization that I need to put conscious effort into improving my social relationships, and that article is connected to a pile of related articles that are all very interesting.