Last night jenn and i went the the Coldplay show at the air canada centre. i was fortunate enough to get selected as part of the coldplay presale lottery and got us tickets on the main floor, second row, and dead center. we were less than 10 feet from the stage. this is the second time we've seen coldplay, and also the second time the show was recorded. we saw their May 11, 2005 show at Kool Haus, which was recorded by Much Music (the canadian version of MTV). The two toronto shows (last night and tonight) are being recorded for an upcoming dvd release, so maybe we'll even see ourselves in there somewhere.

what a great show! big arena shows usually suck because you're stuck far away in nosebleed land, which is why i generally don't get tickets for these shows, but when i saw how great my tickets were i couldn't say no. it was a little crazy getting in and out of our seats (the rows aren't really deep enough for one person to stand and another to get past them), but once we were in it was great. the band didn't disappoint either, putting together an excellent show (with all of my favourites represented).

the only unfortunate and annoying part of the night were the line jumpers or whatever you call the morons who don't have tickets yet somehow think it's ok for them to force their way into your row. our row wasn't really bothered by this since it was so small, but the row ahead of us had a little extra room between the chair and the guard rail, and as a result there were a whole bunch of people who thought that made it OK to slip in behind (and in many cases in FRONT of) the people who held tickets for the seats. i saw several people getting very unhappy when someone pushed their way in front of their seats. there were confrontations, but once the show started it seemed impossible to get rid of them. front and center, directly in front of us, was an ASSHOLE FROM BBC RADIO 1 who stood in our way the entire time, behind a pair of girls who we later found out also didn't have tickets! when the "proper" people for those seats showed up they refused to leave! the one girl was at least pushed back off the rail for most of the time, but the other wouldn't leave and let them have their place. by the end of the show most of the people with tickets had been forced to stand behind each other while these other idiots forced their way between them to the rail. we were left wondering what security was doing. we got stopped about 6 times on the way to our seats (and at the end we were escorted directly to our row), so how do these people get through in the first place? clearly AFBBCR1 had some sort of pass that allowed him free range over the place (and apparently also gave him permission to record the show too, since he did). fortunately, once the show got going i sort of forgot about them (other than AFBBCR1 who was tall and always in the way, constantly holding up his camera and/or mics).

the band was great, and seemed to be joking, laughing, and just having a good time. the ladies seemed to enjoy Chris Martin changing his shirt on stage. i enjoyed their small set up at the front of the stage, with "'til kingdom come" (the song they say they wrote for Johnny Cash), a cover of "ring of fire" (the song "written by someone else for johnny cash"), and a mellow version of "trouble". some of my other favourites ("the scientist" and "swallowed in the sea") were also covered, which was great.

the final consensus between jenn and i was that we liked their show at Kool Haus better, since it was such a small and intimate venue, but if you're going to do an arena show, 2nd row is still pretty damn good.

here's the setlist:

square one
politik
yellow
speed of sound
god put a smile upon your face
what if
how you see the world no. 2
dont panic
white shadows
the scientist
til kingdom come
ring of fire
trouble
clocks
talk

swallowed in the sea
in my place
fix you

January 4, 2006

2005 in review - life

hmmm...looks like 2005 ended up much like 2006: i managed to make blog entries for the first half of the year, but then things got a bit crazy and i never quite got back to another entry in the second half of the year. lets see if i can't fix that in 2006.

the big excitement for 2005 was jenn and i buying our first house. by the beginning of the summer we were starting to seriously talk about buying a house. jenn had been researching the market in the areas we were interested in, so we had a good idea of our price range. we had some savings for a down payment and plans for getting the rest together between then and when we'd actually buy. we talked to a mortgage specialist at our bank and got pre-approved (Sarah was wonderful and we can't recommend her enough. email me if you're looking to get a mortgage in the GTA and i'll pass the info along.)

after all that we still didn't think we'd really end up buying a house until this spring. jenn was still avidly watching MLS, and she spotted a place that was in our area and about the size we were looking for, but still a bit high price-wise. then she noticed it drop in price and got more curious. a couple weeks later she saw it drop again, now definitely within our price range, and got even more curious. the dropping price had us concerned that there was something really wrong with it (and as long time renters we've seen some pretty awful places), but we decided to go take a look anyway. her parent were in town visiting for a couple days, so they came along for our first visit.

when we got to the house we liked it right away. great neighbourhood and a quiet little crescent, so low traffic. it was a brick house, with a garage, and a decent sized yard. brand new looking central air. all good so far. went inside and we found a nice 3 bedroom house with 1.5 bath and an unfinished basement. the whole place had recently been given a coat of white paint and had new carpet, but the kitchen and bathrooms were in need of a little cleanup. the house as a whole was in good shape, it just felt a little rough around the edges. i couldn't quite put my finger on it, but then in talking with the realtor he told us that it had been a rental property since it was built. that's when it clicked: it felt like student housing. not much had changed since it was built, and it had had just basic upkeep on it, but nobody really trying to decorate the house, or make it into a "home". Through conversation with the realtor and the people next door we found out the reason for the declining price: apparently the home had been vacant for some time because it was never really cleaned up after the last tennant left. They had originally overpriced the house and left it dirty, so nobody was interested. they had dropped the price several times, but then ultimately they decided to do something about it and came through and cleaned out the house, then painted and added the new carpets. they then dropped the price one final time to the point where it caught our attention. it made sense, because at the asking price when we saw it, it was a good deal, but we would likely have walked right back out if it was dirty and didn't have the new carpets/paint.

the house seemed to be in good shape and we thought that a little TLC could turn it around. we liked it from the start, but thought it was strange that we were seriously considering placing an offer on the first house that we went into. we decided to go home and talk it over some more. after a while of talking it over we decided to put in an offer slightly below the asking price. we figured that they'd dropped the price a few times, so they might accept it, but at the same time we didn't want to go too low since we knew it was a good deal even at the asking price. when we put in the offer there weren't any others, so we thought we were in good shape as we'd at least be the first offer, and hopefully the only one.

the agent then started trying to contact the sellers. he said that they the sort of people who regularly travelled all over the world, so he wasn't sure how long it'd take to contact them, but he had several numbers to try, and failing that he could contact their power of attorney and have them make a decision on the offers. a few hours passed and we got a call back from the agent to let us know that there was another offer coming in, but he didn't know how it compared with ours and he still hadn't been able to contact the sellers. he said that he'd talk to us in the morning with the details and let us know when he'd talked to the seller.

when i talked to him in the morning he was still trying to contact the sellers, but if he hadn't talked to them by noon he was going to go with the PoA. we also were told that there was a third offer on the house. the good news was that #3 was significantly lower than our offer, but the bad news was that offer #2 was both better than ours, didn't have any conditions on it (we had a condition to get final funding approval and one for a home inspection), and had a slightly shorter closing date (they had asked for 30 days, but since it was mid-month we went for the 1st of the month, working out to about 50 days). the closing date wasn't much of a concern for us as we'd already talked about moving that if they wanted to, so we went for exactly 30 days from the offer date. i quickly called our mortgage person to find out what we'd need to do in order to put in a firm offer (removing the funding condition), then got that paperwork in motion. that left inspection condition. we'd seen the house, and hadn't seen any signs of problems. with the unfinished basement we could see that the foundation was sound and there weren't any signs of trouble there either. we talked it over some more and decided to go ahead and remove the inspection condition too. we knew that if there was anything major wrong with it that the seller has to disclose it, so we thought this wasn't a big concern. that only left the issue of the actual offer. the agent couldn't tell us what the value of the other offer was, but he said that once we removed the two conditions the two offers were fairly close. we figured that if the other offer was right around the asking price that we could definitely match this, and exceed it a little, but if we only exceeded it by a little then the other person might come back with their own counter offer. we decided that if we were going to make another offer it should be an "all or nothing" offer, putting everything on the table, so we decided to go with $5000 over the asking price, hoping that the other person wouldn't be willing to make that much of a jump in their offer. we knew that the house was a good deal, even at this price, so we felt comfortable with it, and we knew that if we didn't get it that we'd have done all we could to get it.

after getting the last of the paperwork together and the revised offer signed, we then waited anxiously for any news. it seemed that the minutes crawled by that afternoon, but finally i got the call from the agent: our offer was accepted and the house was ours! woohoo! we were instantly very excited about the house, but also a bit terrified about the idea of spending that much money on something. we kind of bounced back and forth between those two extremes for a while until eventually we were just excited about it. at the same time came the "holy crap, we take posession in 30 days!" realization. also, our original plan had been to hire movers to pack and move us (since we had this for the move from minnesota back to ontario and loved it), but with the final "all or nothing" offer we'd spent our moving money and signed ourselves up for a whirlwind of packing and moving fun.

all of our free time over the next month was spent on packing, planning for the new house, and prepping for the move. we decided right away that we'd be painting everything to brighten up the stark white that covered the whole house. we took advantage of jenn's mom's employee discount at Rona and bought all our paint there. we were also able to borrow most of the painting supplies from her parents, which meant we didn't have to spend much on that stuff. we planned that we'd spend most of the first two weeks painting and doing other work around the house, then move in and have a week or so to get settled in.

so july was pretty much the mad packing blitz, then when we took posession on august 8th we brought in all of the paint and supplies and started to prep. jenn's parents came up on the 10th and spent a few days with us painting. we decided pretty quickly that the stucco ceilings, while a pain to work on, would need to be painted. jenn's dad was a real trooper and did them all, but it still sucked and we all felt for him doing it. we did find out the key info for painting stucco: 1) get the right roller for the job. the best one is a big, fat foam roller that has slits gong through it. This lets it flex and ride over the stucco much better than standard rollers. 2) you can't keep going over stucco like you can a wall, otherwise the stucco gets too wet and starts to fall off. The only thing you can do is make a single pass, and if it's not completely covered you do another coat once it dries.

after a couple days off her parents were back to help finish off the painting while jenn and i were back to work leading up to moving day. we left the stairway, hall, and front foyer unpainted, figuring that there was a strong chance of someone banging a wall during the move and we didn't want to be overly paranoid about it. plus we figured that there wouldn't be any furniture in those locations anyway, so it'd be easy to paint after the move.

The move went very smootly. i picked up the truck shortly after the shop opened and we started loading up. we had great friends helping us out: jenn had a group helping with packing up the last of the kitchen and then unpacking at the new house, and i had the guys taking care of loading and unloading the truck. by early afternoon the move was done and we were surrounded by boxes. there was a bit of stuff left at the old apartment, but it was just small stuff that we could take care of in a few trips in the car.

we both had the week following the move off from work, and we were busy the whole time with finishing the painting and getting the house unpacked and setup. by the time the dust settled we'd managed to paint the entire house (including ceilings) in a total of 1 week, and had the house pretty much totally unpacked in the same amount of time. the half bath on the mail floor had new lights, mirror, sink, and vanity. the full bath upstairs had a new medicine cabinet, mirror, and lighting. there was a new fridge in the kitchen and new paint and hardware on the cabinets. the house was ours and we loved it.

the next couple months felt like we were still always busy with either working in the yard or inside the house, but it was good. it's rewarding when you're working on your own place and it doesn't really feel like work. well, at least not all the time :)

along with getting settled in the house the second half of the year had lots of other great stuff. we celebrated jenn's 28th birthday before the move, and i got to celebrate my 31st in the new house. we saw Corteo, the latest show from Cirque Du Soleil. we saw a really great show from the foo fighters (setlist below)

Foo Fighters @ Molson Amphitheater - August 13, 2005

in your honor
all my life
times like these
my hero
best of you
up in arms
learning to fly
last song
the one
stacked actors
tired of you
everlong
(intro to aint talkin bout love)
doa
this is a call
breakout

cold day in the sun
end over end
monkey wrench


i did a bunch of brewing (sept, oct, and nov at the new house, and oct at tim's). we even managed to relax a little in front of a nice big fire in the fireplace. we hosted our first new years eve party, and had a great time doing it.

all in all, it's been a darn good year. hopefully 2006 will be at least as exciting!

posting this a few days late, but (as you can see from the previous post) i've been busy lately.

last thursday i went to the phoenix concert theater to see vnv nation, with special guests soman and imperative reaction. We arrived a bit late and missed soman entirely, but were able to catch the last few songs in imperative reaction's set. i'm familiar with their 'eulogy for a sick child' ablum and was interested to check out their set, but they went on a little earlier than i guessed and we were a little slower getting there so i only saw the last few. they sounded like they were mixed kind of 'flat' and muddy - it was hard to pick out more than the bass beat and some noise. sometimes that's related to the sound in a particular venue, or equipment , and sometimes it's intentional. not sure what the deal was there.

however, vnv came on and seriously rocked the house. they sounded great and have added two new musicians since the last time i saw them. it was only ronan singing and mark on drums when i saw them in minneapolis for the last tour, but this time they also had two people on keyboards/powerbooks. mark stayed on drums for the duration, switching over to play keyboards for 'beloved' as the two keyboardists left the stage. the band seemed to be having a really good time and thanked the crowd continually for their support. they seemed truly gracious to be getting the great reception from the crowd. their initial set felt a bit short, but they padded it out with two encores which made it seem a good length. however, with a great show like that you always seem to leave wanting more. i was really hoping for the vocal version of 'forsaken' and 'beloved' as i'd enjoyed them alot last time around, but only got one of the two. oh well, i can listen to 'forsaken' live from the 'pastperfect' dvd (which i've ripped into mp3 using my handy ripdvd program).

fantastic show. if you are a fan of the band you should definitely take the opportunity to check them out live. here's the setlist:

chrome
joy
dark angel
arena
epicentre
entropy
endless skies
legion
standiag
perpetual

further
honour 2003

homeward
beloved

this weekend was filled with all things beer. friday evening i had to make a run to home depot for some last minute parts to go with the shiny new Foxx counter pressure bottle filler (CPBF) that i bought from Paddock Wood Brewing Supplies. this was followed by a couple hours of sorting through my bottle stockpile and cleaning up enough for my raspberry porter. sometimes brewing can be hard work, but it's worth it in the end.

saturday morning i was up fairly early to start a fun filled day. first stop was the wine and beer factory for some specialty grains and hops for sunday's brewing session. from there i headed into downtown toronto to jayc's place. the first order of business was hooking up the CPBF and transferring the porter from my keg to bottles. initially there was alot of mess as porter sprayed all over and foamed out of the bottles, but after a bit we figured out that the pressure needs to be set slightly lower than what the beer was carbonated at, things went better. the beer was carbonated to a pressure of 12 psi and we found that setting the pressure to about 8-9 psi let us fill up the bottles fairly well. this took a while longer than bottling usually does, but it was interesting to try out new equipment and learn a new technique.

once the bottling was done we set out on another important mission: a trip to buffalo, new york in search of beer. through beer advocate jay had heard about premier gourmet, a shop that boasts almost 750 different beers in stock. although there are a few questionable items on the list (*COUGH* labatts *COUGH*), there are a whole lot of really good beers. I was impressed by how many of the beer advocate top 100 beers were represented. unfortunately, with so much good beer to choose from it was hard not to spend a fortune. I started by formatting their list so that it'd print out on 6 pages, then going through and marking the porters (my favorite style) and stouts (a close second), and a few other choice items. I then cross referenced this with beer advocate ratings in order to help me choose. unfortunately, when this was done i had a list of over 50 different beers, more than i figured i should be buying, especially if i was hoping to stay under $100US.

The store was just under 2 hours from downtown toronto, and it was a fairly nice day for a drive. at times the traffic was a bit annoying, but for the most part it was pretty good. when we got there we found that the building houses two different stores: premier gourmet and premier liquors. we wandered into premier liquors first, and while it was a huge ass liquor store, it was just wine and alcohol: no beer here. we then went into premeir gourmet and initially were unsure if we were in the right place. it's a decent sized store with all sorts of kithen gadgets and equipment, a huge cheese area, and lots of other food. but tucked away in the back corner in 4 somewhat unassuming rows is one of the finest collections of beer i've ever seen. we very quickly ran back to the front of the store for carts, knowing we'd be getting more than we could possibly carry. the shopping list was also fairly quickly thrown aside. there was just so much good beer that even if one thing from the list was missing, there was something else to take its place. i decided to go for variety rather than quantity, opting for only a single bottle of each beer i chose and avoiding beers that i'd had before. well, that's not completely true: i knew going in that i'd be grabbing just about anything from stone brewing co. those guys are just fucking brilliant and make some of the best beer i've ever had. I've had their stone ipa, ruination ipa, and arrogant bastard ale, and all are fantastic. we were looking forward to the imperial russian stout as it was listed on the premier gourmet website, but it was still listed as "coming soon" when we arrived. regardless, i walked away with 9 porters, 7 stouts, and 5 other beers. I even managed to stay slightly under budget, which was suprising. we got hit for duty at the border, but we pretty much expected that. I dropped off jay and piera, made a quick stop at salad king for some awesome thai takeout, and headed home. here's the list of what i picked up at premier:

  • anchor porter (1pt 6oz)
  • bear republic big bear black stout (1pt 6oz, 8.1%)
  • cooperstown brewing co. benchwarmer porter (12oz)
  • middle ages brewing co. ltd. wailing wench (1pt 6oz, 8%)
  • north coast brewing co. old no. 38 stout (12oz)
  • rogue mocha porter (1pt 6oz/650ml)
  • rogue shakespeare stout (1pt 6oz/650 ml)
  • salopian brewing company ltd entire butt english porter (1pt 0.9oz, 4.8%)
  • samuel smith old brewery tadcaster the famous taddy porter (355ml/12oz)
  • sinebrychoff porter (11.2oz/330ml, 7.2%)
  • southern tier brewing company porter dark (12oz/355ml)
  • stone arrogant bastard ale (1pt 6oz, 7.2%)
  • stone 8th anniversary ale (1pt 6oz, 7.8%)
  • stone ipa (1pt 6oz, 6.9%)
  • stone ruination ipa (1pt 6oz, 7.7%)
  • stone smoked porter (1pt 6oz, 5.9%)
  • st peter's cream stout (1pt 0.9oz)
  • st peter's old-style porter (1pt 0.9oz)
  • victory storm king stout (355ml/12oz, 9.1%)
  • weyerbacher heresy (1pt 6oz)
  • young's oatmeal stout (1pt 0.9pz, 5.2%)

that gives me a pretty good stockpile of beer. i've got a 6 pack of our last ipa from tim's, 6 of the dead pope stout, about 40 bottles of raspberry porter, and the above 21 bottles. and rob's going over to premier next week if i need to have him pick anything up...

on sunday morning jenn and i got up bright and early to head over to tim's place for some brewing. the biergotter gang were getting together for another brewing session, our first using our shiny new 15 gallon keg kettles. on the menu for the day was a re-vamp of our last american style ipa, updated for 10 gallons and more aggressive hopping, and a 10 gallon scottish ale. the day started off ok. everyone arrived at tim's at 9am and we started getting setup. it was fairly warm and quite humid, but overcast with a bursts of light rain. i commented that it'd be great if that was the weather we got for the rest of the day as the slight rain was counteracting the heat. however, soon after this the clouds cleared and the great fiery ball of death began to beat down on us. before long tim's back yard was starting to feel like an oven. it seems like the stone patio just reflects and radiates the heat, making it worse. at one point around the middle of the day I looked at our thermometer as it was laying on the railing of the deck and it was reading 122F (50C). in case you are unaware, that translates to "really fucking hot". add in the approximately 89% humidity and it was deadly. fortunately we had 4 brewers (me, rob, jayc, and tim) to split the work, so before long we were taking turns with having breaks in the air conditioned house for some relief. we also had the biergotter wives (jenn, piera and erin) making sure we had sunscreen on and were drinking lots of water. even so, it was difficult to stay hydrated, and even wearing sunblock i still managed to get burned. i was wearing sandals and didn't put sunblock on my feet until it was too late, so today has been pretty uncomfortable. my arms and neck are a bit tender, but nowhere near as bad as my feet. this is the second time i've had a burn on my feet (the first was in hawaii on my honeymoon) and it really sucks some serious ass. i definitely do not recommend it. oh well, hopefully they'll be feeling better in a couple days.

as for the brewing itself, it went fairly well. we've gone up from doing 5 gallon batches to 10-11 gallons (with a maximum capacity of about 30 pounds of grain per batch). the new kettles worked great and even seemed to have improved things in a few ways. first, because they heat slower it seems to be easier to get the temperature just right for boiling and avoid boil overs. second, the inner lip on the top made it super easy to cover with saran wrap while chilling the beer. normally we have to tape the saran down to the sides of the pot, which can be a pain to remove later. tucking the saran around the lip seemed to work great and no tape was necessary. we also used bags for the hops rather than throwing them directly into the boil. This worked pretty well and also gave us a bit higher yield as we didn't lose quite as much when transferring to the primary. however, the higher volumes too longer to get up to temperature, which made the day a bit longer. we also ran into a bit of trouble with our wort chiller. we're used to using it in a pot that is roughly the same size as the coil, which works fairly well. however, when we dropped it down into the keg kettle it didn't seem to be working very well. we'd test the temperature near the top of the kettle and see it as very high, and not seeming to drop. after about an hour we realized that the bottom half of the keg was very cold and the top half was still quite hot. since the pot wasn't being stirred the top wasn't getting cold. we propped up the chiller so that it was sitting in the top half of the the keg, gave it another half hour or so and everything was great. when it came time to chill the second batch we did roughly the same thing, which worked fairly well but is still much slower than when we'd chill the 5 gallon batches. we're debating better cooling, either with a chiller that is taller and can go the full height of the keg or buying/building a counter flow chiller (something like this one sold by paddock). we've got a while before our next bewing session so i'm sure we'll figure something out.

when we were finally done it had been more than a 10 hour day (9am to 7:15pm), yielding about 10 gallons of the ipa and 8 or 9 gallons of the scottish ale. we went home, took a nice cold shower, watched trailer park boys and went to bed. lets hope the beer is worth our scorching by the great fiery ball of death.

had the great pleasure of going to see Coldplay last night at Kool Haus. What a great show. I'd bought extra tickets to the Nine Inch Nails show at Kool Haus on tuesday, and when none of my friends were interested I put them up on ebay. As it turned out I made enough of a profit on the sale of those three tickets that it paid for the high priced scalper tickets that i had to get for the very sold out Coldplay show. so it worked out great.

there was no openning act for this event, so it was just Coldplay. Doors were scheduled to open at 8:00, so we aimed to arrive around 7:45 to get in line. traffic was a bit of a pain and our usual parking lot was full, so it was 8:00 by the time we got there. the doors weren't yet opened and the lineup went all the way around the block, so it was time to wait. doors opened around 8:20, but it still took us until 9:00 to get inside. when we got inside we saw an array of cameras setup all over the place. in chatting with one of the security folks we found out that the show was being recorded for Much Music (the canadian equivalent of MTV). looking forward to seeing it again whenever it airs on tv.

anyway, this was a very small, intimate show. the crowd was clearly enjoying it, singing along with all the old stuff and showing their support for the new. The band seemed to also be having a good time, with chris running and dancing around the stage whenever he wasn't at the piano. we loved the show and look forward to seeing them again (even if it isn't in as great a setting).

here's the setlist. (* indicates a new song off the upcoming X&Y album)

*square one
politik (+rebellion (lies) by arcade fire)
god put a smile upon your face
*speed of sound
warning sign
yellow
*low
scientist (+ hurt by nine inch nails)
*til kingdom come
clocks
*what if?

*a message
in my place
*fix you

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