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40 minutes left. Alright, let's just forget about the negative stuff for a minute.

When 2016 began, my son was more than a fleshy bag in a tie-dyed onesie, but not much more. He was able to lay down and roll around by himself without us holding his head, he was doing some babbling, and he had started standing in a jumper about two weeks earlier. What a difference a year makes. Over the next year he turned into a rabble-rousing toddler, and now he performs guerrila maneuvers all around the house, and on the pets. But he also pets the pets, at least for about 15 seconds, before things get out of hand. Many things are thrown, but he also talks, giggles, gets your goat and makes you laugh. He cuddles and hugs and kisses. He dances and twirls around, and almost jumps--that's next. He just learned to "catch," which will progress to catching soon. He's pretty amazing.

His mommy is pretty amazing too. I don't know how she does it, but she does. We had a once-a-week 4-hour nanny in the spring, but their availability ran out in June and she basically went without one for the rest of the year. I started working from home once a week, which may or may not have helped depending on how busy I was. She took a lot of lumps but lives today to tell the tale. Unfortunately, tonight she tried decongestant and feels like hell. We all just got back from a third visit to Papa, and everyone got sick from the plane ride. My symptoms were weakest, just a little post-nasal drip.

We visited my father two other times, in February and in August for my birthday (and just after our son's). It was nice each time. We walked the piers and paths near the ocean, but didn't make it to the beach. The last time we didn't even get out of the neighborhood, but that was okay.

The best part of the first plane trip was that he didn't explode in an emotional fireball--we kept him satisfactorily busy or sleeping. On the second trip it was very difficult to keep control of him. But the third time was the magical trip. For one, we flew down the west coast on the west side of the plane at 3pm, so we got the beautiful sunrise as we landed. But from the minute we got into the plane, our son was infatuated with staring at every moving thing outside the plane window. All the trucks, tractors hauling luggage, and vans. The other planes. The lights. And eventually, the ground. He was in love with all the motion. And I was in love with him experiencing flying for the first real time. Stare out the window, sip some milk, go back to staring out the window... just like daddy! And the pictures while landing were incredible. It went really well. The way back was just dark, and the most eventful part of that trip was that he fell asleep with his nose pressed up against the window while looking at city lights below. He slept for the rest of the trip (I took him off of the window).

We bought a new minivan this year because the Montana that we've had since 2009 didn't have the features that we found ourselves requiring. We made our first camping trip with it in July and it was wonderful. Our son and Leo were a great pairing, and both were willing to watch us set up and prepare food so we didn't have to worry much. The thin tent made bed time a bit challenging, but we got a nice new big tent so space wasn't an issue anymore... we now camp in a bedroom. The smaller 8 x 10 tent came in handy as a play room, on the great advice of another family. The only downside was that we accidentally killed the battery, and had to get a jump to get out of there. And I fried my phone in it while recharging it--I think it melted the SD card slot, because it doesn't work as it should anymore.

The trip went so well that I scheduled another couple days off at the end of the next week just to try again, but we couldn't find a spot in late July on a whim. What was worse, we got into a car accident! Fortunately we were going uphill so we decelerated quickly and didn't do much damage to the front of the vehicle, but the people behind us weren't so fortunate and crunched our rear end pretty good. The minivan was in the shop for the next two months, but we ended up replicating all the bits we like about camping at home that weekend. We hiked at Reed, we used our fire pit, we set up the play tent in the back yard. It was awesome! Mommy also used the small plastic backyard pool with our son quite a bit, which was great fun for all involved. So summer at home was pretty magical. We'll see how next summer goes.

Work has been going very well. I finished transitioning to my new role early in the year. In the spring I was asked to help out with some annual submission work and, harrowing experience that it was notwithstanding, it opened up some new doors. Early June really sucked, and as it happened work crushed me right on top of my first show of the year. We also sold our old van at that same exact time (of course). There are times like that, and they're awful. But we recover and move forward. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the new year at work and where it takes me.

Musically this year was... slippery. I had planned to be available for theXplodingboys as of the beginning of the year, and I was. But not all of us were. So winter passed by with the expectation of theXplodingboys activity in spring/summer, possibly a Trance to the Sun festival appearance or two before and after that. Shortly into the year, a fall Soriah full band reunion tour materialized. I was excited for that, since it had been five years since the last time the full Soriah lineup toured--they were the first two tours down the coast for me, in 2011 and 2012.

By the time spring came along, it looked like the spring festival, which didn't materialize for Trance to the Sun anyway, actually got cancelled, and the summer festival didn't end up working for us either. So tXb was free to make plans from mid-April until my Soriah time frame in the fall. tXb knew that they had a short engagement, so we stuffed three shows into a 5-week performance window in June and July, leaving time through August for family vacationing. Notably, we performed with Seattle New Order tribute Love Vigilantes at our second all-ages headliner at the Wonder, and also with them at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle opening for This Charming Band--the first time we shared a stage with them since 2013. Seattle Depeche Mode tribute Black Celebration also joined us at the Wonder, but we couldn't work out a return show with them in Seattle that fit our limited time frame. Next time.

photo by Marshal Serna, July 2016

During the tXb time frame, Viktor and Michelle were practicing four days per week and working on the Secret Light album the rest of the time. I'm somewhat surprised that they survived. tXb is a secondary project to everyone's main projects, and that's what it's always been. I'm happy for The Secret Light--their album came out in early December and is awesome--but that was it playing-wise for me. The Soriah tour plan ended up getting pushed to early 2017.

The big musical event beyond playing was the long-awaited release of the Trance to the Sun album Via Subterranea. It was announced internally that mixing was virtually completed in September, which ended up being early December. So my attention in the fall turned to promoting that effort, as well as getting back into mastering a bit.

In late November, an official album release date of December 30th was announced publicly. Pre-orders began a few days later, followed by a free celebratory release of the Max Mystic single upon placing the order for the CDs. A video for Max Mystic was released on December 9th, which was really nice to see and which brought back some great memories.

The last week of the year was an awareness campaign, which led to many great conversations with people that I often read posts from, but seldom talk with directly. It's been really nice to reconnect with so many people, and I'm looking forward to more of it.

There was other musical news, but you'll have to wait until next year for that...

So I'll end there. To hell with the negative.

photo by Ken Barton, December 2013



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