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Looking Back on the 10’s

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… and just like that a decade went by. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the passing of the decade seemed much more momentous, but it seems like the 2000’s and 2010’s just blew by.

The 2010’s have been a pretty transformative decade, marked by a lot of joy, but not without its share of sorrow.

2010

We were celebrating our first year of marriage, living in Fort Collins. Bethany was in the midst of finishing her Master’s Degree in School Counseling and had to do a year of unpaid internship, making it a financial challenge. However our little family grew by 1 – adopting our kitty, Logan.

Major Milestones:

  • Traveling to Las Vegas (multiple times), Boston, Minneapolis for Joel & Katie’s Wedding.

2011

Bethany started her counseling career at Northridge High School and celebrated my 30th birthday, receiving my first new drum set since I started playing the instrument back in 1996.

I also went overseas for the first time, traveling to Ireland with Bethany’s family. This was well-documented in my blog back then.

Major Milestones:

  • Traveling to Ireland
  • Receiving my Drum Set – the Pearl Masters MCX
  • The Balderrama’s meeting up in Keystone, Colorado for a reunion
  • The birth of our nephew, Liam

2012

If 2011 was a “calm before the storm year”, 2012 represented the storm that set in. It represented many changes, as well as enduring tragedy. In 2012 we decided to sell out town home in Fort Collins and move to Windsor, during the process we learned that Bethany’s brother, Rocky, had unexpectedly passed away. We learned the horrible news just hours before we were about to set on our Baby-moon Cruise to Alaska, setting a long and heavy shadow over the trip. When we returned from the trip we were in between moving out of our old house and had not yet moved into our new home. The house we moved into was not in the state we had expected and we ended up having to deal with a lot of unexpected hardships.

Despite the darkness during the year, we ended it on a positive note, with Bethany coming pregnant with Clara.

Major Milestones:

  • Selling our townhome in Fort Collins
  • Buying our single-family home in Windsor
  • Welcoming our niece, Sonia, into the world
  • Taking our 2 week Baby-Moon to Seattle and on an Alaskan Cruise
  • Mourning the loss of Bethany’s brother, Rocky

2013

The year that changed it all, when God brought Clara into our lives. They weren’t kidding when they talked about how children change lives. We experienced all of it, but were very blessed to have a beautiful, healthy and happy little girl in our lives.

Work-wise, my company went through a split, which really increased my workload leading up to Clara’s birth. Clara’s birth also gave us incentive to invest in a DSLR camera, unlocking new talents. Aside from a quick trip to Kansas for a wedding, we did not travel anywhere for 2013.

Major Milestones:

  • The birth of Clara!
  • Experiencing a tornado in Windsor, causing damage to our house
  • The Broncos having a great season, making it to Super Bowl 48 (then losing to the Seahawks).

2014

As transformational as 2013 was, 2014 continued to be a year of “firsts” for us – Clara would have her first real food, first crawl, first steps and continuing to experience the first holidays.

We started to venture out, making Clara’s first plane trip to Daytona for an SoB (Summer of Balderrama’s) trip, seeing Disneyland. We also road-tripped to Kansas to visit family, Taos to commemorate Rocky’s birthday, as well as a new year’s trip to Durango.

Major Milestones:

  • Clara being a flower girl at Shannon and Andrew’s wedding
  • Clara growing from an infant to a spunky toddler
  • Summer of Balderrama’s trip to Florida
  • Road trips to Taos, Durango and Kansas.

2015

2015 was all about Mariana. We spent the entire year anticipating her arrival, which finally came on October 29. We then got all of the reminders of parenting a newborn, along with the challenges of a full-fledged toddler.

Clara continued to blossom and develop her own personality as a happy-go-lucky little girl. Looking back at this time, the 27-month span was perfect for the girls, as Clara was intrigued about having a little sister, but didn’t really develop the jealousy a new infant would bring.

Music-wise, I also joined Amy and the Peace Pipes and had an awesome year with them. We got selected to play at FoCoMX, released our first EP and played over a dozen shows throughout the year.

Major Milestones:

  • Traveling to Nashville for a long weekend trip
  • Road-tripping to Kansas to visit family
  • Introducing my mom to Durango
  • Welcoming Mariana into the world!
  • Broncos win the Super Bowl (it technically happened 2016, but it was the 2015 season)

2016

In 2016 we watched the girls grow into being sisters, being witnesses to many of Mariana’s firsts, as well as learning how to be our family of four. We also had a very busy summer filled with weddings (and Clara being a flower girl), as well as a trip to New York to go meet our new niece, Elisia.

Major Milestones:

  • Our friends Brett and Joanna getting married
  • My sister Amanda and David getting married
  • Cousins Laura and Herrick getting married
  • Our niece, Elisia, being born
  • Our trip to New York to go see the city and visit our new cousin
  • Clara starting dance class

2017

Now it’s Mariana’s turn to grow into the full-fledged toddler, while Clara grows into a little girl. Clara started preschool in the fall, while also going full-fledged into dance class and soccer. It was such a rewarding experience watching Clara being exposed to these activities, learning more each day.

Mariana also became pretty active as well and incurred our first major injury as a family, falling off the couch and fracturing her leg. It happened a few weeks before we were scheduled to go to Disneyland as well. Fortunately she was able to get her cast removed two days before we were set to head out, and got the full Disney experience.

Major Milestones:

  • Family trip to Disneyland, with Mema, Papa and nephew Liam
  • Clara starting pre-school in the fall, 3 hours each afternoon
  • Clara starting soccer in the fall
  • Clara continuing dance class
  • Mariana’s first cast

2018

One of the coolest things to happen in 2018 was Bethany being recognized as the High School Counselor of the year by the Colorado School Counselors Association, which was so well-deserved and we were very proud of her!

Clara started all-day Kindergarten in the fall of 2018 and we were blown away by just how much she was learning each day. She was transforming into a little reader and writer, excited to read to her sister.

Mariana joined Clara at Just for Kix Dance Classes and was a natural to the stage. We also worked through the adjustment period after Ms. Amanda closed her daycare to finish her school counseling internships.

Oh , and through the generosity of Bethany’s mom and step-dad, we were able to see Hamilton at the Denver Center for Performing Arts!

Major Milestones:

  • Clara finishing pre-school and starting kindergarten
  • Mariana starting dance class
  • Clara continuing dance and soccer
  • Going on a beach vacation in North Carolina
  • Seeing Hamilton!
  • Bethany winning School Counselor of the Year
  • Saying goodbye to Bethany’s grandmother
  • Being an active campaigner fo the new library in our town and ultimately losing that ballot initiative
  • Bethany completing her first sprint triathlon

2019

Clara finished kindergarten and is now in first grade, continuing to amaze us with her growth. We’ve been really lucky to have great teachers working with her at her school, and outs been neat to see her come home excited to tell us about her day.

Mariana is in an incredible daycare and making her own educational strides as well, already working on writing. After going from an in-home to a center, then back to in-home, we’ve found that in-home works much better for Mari.

Work is going well for both Bethany and I. I am blessed to have my school drop off schedule accommodated and have some flexibility to be able to help out from time to time. Bethany is rocking it at her school and headed to Washington DC in early 2020 to be recognized for her counseling award.

We took some awesome road trips over the summer, first to South Dakota with the Miles-Hastings, then to Yellowstone with the Balderrama’s, experiencing a lot of the beauty of our country.

Amy and the Peace Pipes had a great year, capping it off with an opportunity to play Old Town Square in Fort Collins.

Major Milestones:

  • Road trip to Yellowstone
  • Road trip to South Dakota
  • Road trip to Durango
  • Clara starting 1st grade
  • Both girls performing in dance (Clara doing hip-hop)
  • Clara playing soccer (with Bethany coaching both the spring and fall teams)
  • Bethany running her first half-marathon!

Thus closes my forth decade on this earth. It’s definitely been the most transformational of my life, going doubling our family, moving to a new home and planting some roots within our lives. I’m anxious to see where our family will be ten years from now.

Here’s to the next 10! Happy New Year!

Photographing Brian David Collins and Rae McAlister

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On Saturday, July 6, my band Amy and the Peace Pipes had the opportunity to play with Rae McAlister and Brian David Collins at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins. I took the opportunity to capture some photos during their sets, on Avo’s beautiful backyard patio. It made for some great natural lighting, mixed in with some of the colored lighting they were using for the show.

Rae McAlister

Brian David Collins

It’s always a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to taking pictures bands I’m playing with. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to refine my photography and hopefully capture some images that the artist can use. On the other hand, I’m also focused on getting ready to perform and ultimately need to take some time (especially in the band right before ours) to get everything in order to take the stage. I do wish I had more time to get some different angles and use my wide lens.

Why the Broncos preventing ticket printing is evil

Broncos embrace mobile ticketing for 2018 season

In which by “embrace mobile ticketing”, they mean they’re taking away the ability for season ticket holders to print tickets from home, requiring you to use their ticketing system to broker not only re-selling the tickets but any transfers as well.  I always love the PR spin that acts like they’re giving you something when they take something away.

One one hand, I can understand their justification for doing this, and the selling point that this will cut down on high-margin scalping and counterfeit tickets, which is all well and good, but when I heard about this policy change, I couldn’t stop thinking about two formative stories that shape my view of mobile ticketing.

  1. Back in the fall of 2017, I purchased tickets to Mumford and Sons, only available as a moble ticket. It turned out that I had to travel for work the week of the show, and tried to transfer 2 of the four tickets to my wife and the other two my friend. The ticketing system was so shoddy that it ended up taking days of attempts before I believed the transfers went through. Fast forward to the night of the concert, when I got a call from both of them stating that the tickets I transferred to my friends weren’t coming up.  So there everyone was, in line and stressed out about not being able to get in, while I was far away and essentially powerless to help them out.  The concert attendants weren’t particularly helpful, and who can blame them when they have a compounding line of people eager to get in.  We finally solved the whole problem by me re-claiming the transferred tickets, screen shooting them from my phone and texting the image over to my friend – which I should have just done, to begin with.
  2. This time the last year, the Broncos went on a massive audit of season ticket holders, establishing a newly-formed policy that they would revoke tickets to people who didn’t go to any games that year. They used the only data point that was convenient at the time – the NFL Ticket Exchange and tracking the electronic tickets. I detailed my concerns about this last year, but the bottom line was that for all practical purposes, my tickets should have been revoked and the only thing that saved me was the wherewithal of “selling” (and by selling, it was at-cost to friends and family) the tickets through the printed tickets.

Make no mistake, this is about making sure the Broncos and the NFL have the data points for all ticket transactions and can harvest the data for their own purposes, especially for retroactively enforcing policies that they just made up.  I wouldn’t be surprised after next season they’ll take tickets away from someone who wasn’t able to go, transferring the tickets to friends and family. And yes, I understand that there are fans that abuse their tickets by massively upselling them and not attending any games for years at a time. It would be fair to call their fandom into question. However, there are also many other fans that simply may have had a life event (like a birth, a sickness, a temporary job relocation) disrupt a single year of their attendance, and despite devoutly attending games for a decade before, they’re subject to the same revocation.  The Broncos have every right to do that, but it doesn’t make it a complete jerk move and fan-hostile.

Mobile ticketing ENABLES season ticket audits. I’m all for preventing scalping, but if you were serious about punishing scalpers you could send an intern out on game day, pretend to consider a scalper’s ticket and note the seat #, call the ticket holder the next day.  Sure it takes a little more work, but it punishes those who are egregiously violating your policies, rather than the low-hanging fruit of new parents that sold the tickets to their next-door neighbors.

If you go read the article and the FAQ, they’ll tout that 35% of their fans used mobile ticketing last year, conveniently forgetting that 2/3 of their other fans have never used this process.  I’d get it if 80-90% of the fanbase were using their phones to get into games, but don’t pretend they’re not trying to ram something down fans throats that they didn’t even ask for. Don’t piss on my leg and then tell me that you’re making me fire-retardant.

What about for friends who buy my tickets or if I can’t go? Now they’re all going to need TicketExchange accounts and I will basically need to handhold their app experience. Where’s the convenience in that? Now the Broncos are making their season ticket holders your front-line support for your app. I imagine that many more fans are going to have a similar experience to my Mumford and Sons story from above. Emailing tickets to my friends wasn’t a problem that needed solving.

I went back & forth on Twitter with one of their PR reps (and to their credit, they were at least responding – unlike last year), and he was quick to justify that other teams were doing this and that the NFL is moving over to this.  However, the Avalanche, Nuggets, and Rockies are still providing paper tickets with nice commemorative designs.  Even if many more teams were using this system, just because others (don’t) do it, doesn’t make it right. This is a race to the bottom for the fan experience. Commemorative tix aren’t the issue – introducing a barrier (preventing printing) to my “honest fan” experience, all to collect data to possibly punish me later on – is.

This isn’t about being a luddite or not embracing technology, this is about protecting yourself from data harvesting that is only going to be used to punish you, as the Broncos and NFL continue to squeeze blood out of turnips for their money-printing machines.

This podcast blew my 16-year-old mind

You may know that I’m an avid Podcast listener, going on for ten years and am currently subscribed to 105 different shows. With as much as I listen, few episodes stick with me, but this one from The Slate’s Hit Parade went back in time and blew my formative teenage mind, leaving me to question whether the formation of my pop music appreciation is a complete sham.

I read somewhere that the music you’re exposed to from the time you’re a teen into early twenties has the biggest impact towards your appreciation. In your mind, that is the most iconic period of music and since then has likely gotten worse.  As I’m 36 now, my middle school and high school years occurred during this period that was covered in the podcast. I was lucky enough to have parents that gave me a pretty wide berth in what I could listen to and buy, and I ended spending a sizable amount of money on albums throughout the 90’s.

Listening to this Podcast made some really deep cuts against my music psyche. If you went to high school the same time I did, I’d really suggest you listen to this, but the gist of the podcast is that the record industry severely ratcheted down the selling of single cassettes and CD’s of band hits to force consumers to buy the entire album if they wanted to own the song.  As the podcast went through example after example of these albums, I realized that I ended up owning many albums by these one-hit wonders.

To a teenager, $15 was a sizable amount of money, often representing a couple hours of work.  When I shelled out money for those albums, I had a strong incentive to not feel like I flushed my cash down the drain – and as a result not only did I listen to those entire albums, but I convinced myself that it was a good album, conditioning myself to appreciate all of the album’s tracks.  The problem is that repressed, deep in the recesses of my mind, I secretly knew the album wasn’t good, and come to find out that in many cases the record companies felt the same way – but they just wanted to take my money.

That’s not to say that there weren’t iconic albums in the 90’s – Pearl Jam’s Ten and Vs., Alanis’ Jagged Little PIll, Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness come to mind for me, but for every one of those, I also had the misfortune of owning Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping, Primitive Radio Gods Rocket, and Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core. Nothing against those artists, and being in a band myself I know that your music can’t appeal to everyone – but the point is that during the 90’s consumers who wanted to own your one hit song was forced to buy the entire album, with the record industry laughing their way to the bank.

I was on the ground level when Mp3’s starting propagating the landscape and giving way to Napster and iTunes, making the single once again accessible to everyone.  This podcast goes to show that downloading wasn’t simply about stealing music, but was as much about disrupting a very corrupt business model.  It’s crazy to think just how different things are today, with most songs available on a whim to be streamed on our phones.  In today’s age, the value of the album has been questioned by many musicians, including myself. Artists are coming to grip with the fact that recordings have been reduced to a commodity, from once being the product to now being a tool to help market your product (your live shows and relationships with fans).  People still put a lot of care into the constructing of albums, but many artists are now more concerned with churning out new music at a regular pace.

I don’t often wear my tinfoil hat, but it is mind-blowing just how much of our formative appreciation of art is decided by rich white guys in boardrooms. Give the podcast a listen and let me know which of those songs and albums resonate with you.

Clara’s First Day of School!

I know it’s cliche to say that these kids are growing up too quickly, but it’s really quite remarkable just how true that is.

Today Clara started pre-school at her elementary school, and she couldn’t be more proud or excited. Ever since the kids in her daycare have started school, Clara’s been keenly interested in school. At home she’ll often pack her backpack and proclaim that she’s off to school, then going to her room and enacting a school day.  We’ve often had to curtail her ambition about starting school, reminding her it was a ways off.

That day has finally come, and while her early childhood has been a joyous journey, this did still manage to take us by surprise. Clara’s grown into a confident and articulate little girl, and that really became self-evident when she sat right down at her little table and started working on her art project. Bethany and I waved at her through the window, knowing that her excitement had trumped any nervousness or fear of being without her parents.  It also became a little emotional, realizing that this is Clara’s first opportunity to interact with a large group of kids each day, being exposed to different ideas and values, some of which may challenge our own.  The village is now helping raise our little girl. Of course, we’ll be here to foster that, but there is still some significance in presenting your children to the world.

Here’s to more great days of school!