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On Monday in Oakland I woke up because the train was moving.

Or that's what it felt like at first. Shaken out of a solid sleep a little before 7am, I felt anger and a twinge of panic as I wondered why we were moving and whether I should try to wake Jameson up (if the train left the yard his car would be left behind). But as my half-asleep brain tried to puzzle out whether the motion meant real movement or just an engine being attached, I realized that it was neither of those things. It felt WRONG. There were no sounds of brakes releasing or engines depressurizing. In fact once the motion stopped, there were no sounds at all. Also, we had been moving up and down.

I grabbed my phone, got on Twitter, and searched for "Oakland earthquake". Sure enough,



A magnitude 4.0 earthquake with a depth of around 3 miles, and we were probably only a few miles from the epicenter. Most people on the train slept right through it, being used to a few jolts in the night ;) Those of us who woke up for it thought the train was moving or being reassembled for travel. To quote my boss, Brett Barlow: "My first thought was 'Idiots...we're not putting the train in one line until tomorrow...thanks Union Pacific!"

For anyone wondering, the animals were totally fine at the arena.

The rest of the day was anticlimactic, including the evening show. Jameson and I stayed in Oakland at a nice Four Points. On Tuesday after a nice breakfast we decided to hit an Ikea we'd seen on the way. Ikea is awesome, and it's also torture for people who don't have real houses, like us. Still, we enjoyed looking at the room concepts and all the things we'd like to have someday :P

We went to a large mall near the "old" San Jose train yard to kill time, then hit a Target after finding out that the train was spotted. The new yard is disappointingly isolated compared to the previous one where malls and groceries were less than a mile walk. But still, there's shopping and groceries within a reasonable distance. And we're right behind the Tesla factory, so some of us can see the cars on the test track!


(photo courtesy Nadia T.)

Anyway, Wednesday was a dark day. I got caught up on laundry and bills, and took the company bus to the arena to see if they really had built a Whole Foods only two blocks away. YES!

(photo courtesy tourfactory.com)

Thursday was opening day. We had a good rehearsal followed by good burritos from a place across the street followed by a good show with a good crowd. = good day. I received a very nice present from Slide-O-Mix in the mail: this MultiWiper slide cleaner with a drying rag, and a cool LED pen. Thank you Slide-O-Mix!!


Friday was a one show day. I woke up later than usual(!) and didn't do a whole lot, just answered some questions on Quora and enjoyed the day. The evening show went well.

Saturday was typical, three shows. It was a pretty laid-back weekend in general, with a light show schedule and moderate crowds. Our ringmaster, David Shipman, is currently out due to a family emergency, so Michael Mckeen is filling in and he's doing a great job, Australian accent and all :)



My boss brought in an Atari that he found at a flea market a few cities back. He and Jameson enjoyed some very square mini golf, centipede, etc.


On Sunday we enjoyed some Slick Sunday doughnuts courtesy Jerome (bass). And I made a few new friends! Quora is one of my favorite sites; I could browse it for hours. It's good for finding answers to all kinds of questions. And if you love to read fascinating firsthand accounts of various life events and experiences, Quora is your one-stop shop. Jay Wacker works for Quora, and his wife Mira is a top contributer. They came to the show with their adorable daughter Zoe, and I got to show them around the backstage area a bit. They brought me a Quora shirt! (pictures to come). It was awesome to meet some Quora-ers in person :)

After the Sunday shows Jameson took us to an Ikea for something that had been out of stock at the first store. Then we came back to the train. Next up: three blissful days off...in the same city. No moving, no hotels to pay for, no deadlines. It's like vacation :P

I don't have much planned. An exploration of the train yard perhaps...some chores...a trip to Quora's headquarters...wait, what???



Other stuff:

Chris, our drummer, has made a compilation/demo video of Circus Xtreme to show some of the most difficult and interesting parts of drumming for a circus.
Some moments of interest:
- @1:31, Mountain Gag, Jameson is making all of the sound effects for the clowns to accentuate what they're doing. Also notice that every time Brett (conductor) gives a cue, the tempo or style changes. This is one of the hallmarks of circus music: drastic style changes in a short period of time.

- @2:17 if you watch Chris's left hand, he hits the number "7" on the square pad in front of him. He is "triggering" a separate track for the band to follow. He does this frequently throughout the show in addition to playing his instrument.

- @4:16 in the High Wire act, all of the cues come very quickly. Chris is poised to come in as soon as Brett's hand comes down. So are the rest of us. It's amazing Brett doesn't have holes in his hand from our eyes lasering in on it :D

- @7:41 Strongman act and also @22:10 onward through the BMX act, notice that some of the fills that Chris is doing correspond to what performers are doing. As the Mongolian acrobats flip, Chis gives extra sounds to accentuate their actions. As the BMX guys do tricks on the central ramp, he gives each trick a drum fill. This is called "catching tricks", and is a fairly difficult thing to do and a requirement of circus performance.