Milwaukee NOFX Concert


Last weekend, I had a chance to go up to Milwaukee for some good food and a music.  I try not to pass up a chance to go to Wisconsin since there are so many cool places all throughout the state.  As for the states largest city, it had been over two decades.  The last time I was in the city for GenCon before it moved to Indy.



Arriving relatively early, we stopped first at the Pabst Brewery.  The building was very well kept in an area in the mist of revitalization.  It being Sunday, we missed the last tour.





Going with out any plan in mind expect taking the tour.  We drove around a bit and decided to eat at the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery siting besides the Milwaukee River.  This small chain is known for brewing their own beers on site.  I tried their excellent malty Octoberfest that went down smooth despite the high ABV.  I paired it we Wisconsin Cheese balls that were similar to what the Pub II in Normal offers, but these were much larger with a higher quality of cheese.  This was a great pairing because the cheeseballs we some of the best I have ever eaten.


imagePhoto taken by cb_aus-re

After eating, to kill some time before the concert, we headed the Old German Beer Hall, which is a close rendition of a beer hall in Munich.  It was an interesting experience.  For one, they only served Hofbräu.  Fortunately, there were at least a dozen version on tap including Root Beer of one of the best German beers around.  Their lightly carbonated Oktoberfest went down too smoothly.   I could see getting lost in a stein of this brew.

The Rave/Eagle Club

The was my first time going to The Rave and it is a place that I will not soon forget.  Built in the 1920s in a more prosperous era, it contains at least four stages on five floors.  The concert itself was on the lowest level and each time you went up a floor, there was another stage with the upper floor being an open air lounge.



This loft which contained a bar full of microbrews such as those from the decent New Glarus Brewing Company.  The lounge itself was heated by large columns of fire offered and offered a decent view of the north side of the city as well as the night’s “Super Moon.”   Being a decent, if cold night, the area was well populated by people waiting for the main act to start.  I sort of felt sorry for the smokers who had to climb 5 flights of steps to light up.



Upon entry to the venue, everyone received this PSA.  Really…In a punk rock concert?  It took about two songs from Useless ID before the mass of people near the stage started throwing themselves at one another.  It was sort of an odd sight.  Unlike Bassnectar I attended earlier, the crowd was much older.  There were a lot of younger Gen Xers and older Gen Y people in the crowd.  This shows that even people in their 30s and 40s can get thrashing (and then pay for it for the next week.)

Useless ID


I never of heard of Useless ID before tonight.  The group is a standard punk band hailing from Israel.  Overall, their music was fast, loose, and very polished.  Given how long they have been around, it was little surprise they played a quality set.  I’ll be use to add them to my Spotify list to check out some more of their music. 



The PEARS, well they sucked.  The lead singer came out wearing little more than shorts.  Channeling his inner Scott Weiland, he bounced around the stage like ADD child off his meds.  There music was speed punk that was loud and boisterous but rather boing.  While the moshers seemed the like it, after listening to a few songs, I headed for the roof to wait out the band.


Nofx is a acquired taste.  On stage, they are known for their variability of the shows they put on.  Because they are on their own label, the band members do pretty much what they want both in the studio and during shows.  You’ll never know if you’ll get a sober set or some lousy drunken attempt at music.

While technically punk, they dabble in SKA and have a habit of bantering with each other and the crowd between songs.  Some of this can be heard on their excellent first live album, I Heard the Suck Live.  During this show, the audience cursed and shouted out songs they wanted to hear as well as threw drinks and articles of clothing at the band.  They retorted and seemed to change up their songs according to the mood of the night.

Initially, I didn’t like their newest album, First Ditch Effort.  It is a dark and moody album that explores middle age problems such as razing children, going sober, and dealing with ex-wives.  After the concert I gave it a relisten.  It is better than my initial assessment once you get past the odd intros to the longs and long, awkward pauses.  However, it is still nothing like the awesome albums Coaster, Wolves in Wolves Clothing, or Punk in Drublic.

When they took to the stage, I sort of understand why their music has been weak recently.  They didn’t have a focus on their anger for the last few years.  Upon coming on stage via a karaoke cover song, they started blaming the crowd for losing the presidential election (Wisconsin went for THE Trump.) 

Fat Mike went on a tirade about how he wanted to kill him and complained bitterly about having him has our soon to be president.  This fired up the crowd and once they started to play the pit went wild.  Beer and bodies flying everywhere.  Even being three rows from the mayhem was no protection against hyped up punk rockers and flying boozy projectiles.



The intro song Six Years on Dope from their newest album and they went on to play a mixture of protest songs from the Bush era like The Man I Killed and Franko Un-American.  During the middle, they change to playing songs off their newest album.  It didn’t fit the mood and the somber music left me feeling cold.



Fortunately, because this is punk with most song lasting between one and three minutes, it was only a matter of time before they switch it up again when they started playing Seeing Double at the Triple Rock and Bob.  As the show progressed, the band member started switched instruments with each other, playing trumpets, trombones, and finally the accordion, which closed out the show.

Overall, it was a great concert with lots of energy in one of coolest venues around.

Southern Illinois Trip

I awoke early Sunday to my cat standing on my chest.  He did some passive-aggressive purring for kibble an hour earlier than normal.  Ah, daylight savings ended.  Lousy farmers.  Instead of trying to go back to sleep, I instead headed south of Illinois’s Mason-Dixon Line, I-70.



Like the last month, the area again had great autumn weather to make this an enjoyable trip.  The morning was colder than the previous few weeks.  There was a large amount of low hanging fog making the trip south feel serene.


Lake Shelbyville


Lake Shelbyville is one of the larger artificial lakes in the state located northeast of the small tourist town of  Shelbyville.  It is a sparsely built up and home to at least a half a dozen county and state parks.  Given the location it would be great place to camp or hunt.



I walked along the dam on the southern tip of the lake in the early morning.  The size and relative remoteness gives the area a feeling like it is here all for yourself. 



First stop in town was Forest Park.  I was rather surprised at the beauty of the park.  It has a rather non-descript entrance with the typical playground and ball parks scattered around.  Getting ready of the Christmas, the town has set up lights along the roadways.  Driving past this gaudy façade, at the back of the park there is a pretty flower garden with running spring.  It was also the start of 5 miles or so of decent hiking trails that follow the lake. 



The residential districts close to the downtown have brick streets thick with trees.  Among the leaves were various party signage in the run up the elections.



The downtown strip was actually fairly lively.  Most of the storefront were full with knickknack stores for tourists, gun shops for hunters and several shops and eating/drinking establishments for locals.  There is actually an active single screen theater still in operation where the larger towns of Mattoon, Charleston, and Pana were boarded up when I went through.    



An actual book store.  I can’t stay much for the reading material though.



Ah, there is blight in the city.  I was getting worried as most small towns in rural Illinois like Shelbyville are usually chocked full of it.  The government does a good job of keeping the town clean. 



The county courthouse is still in good shape for being constructed in the 1880s.



One of the many spots for the Lincoln-Douglas debates.   Lincoln’s statue looks a bit like a giraffe trying to crane above his adversary.


Gays, Illinois


The only reason I went to this hamlet was to gawk at the two-story outhouse built in the latter part of the 19th century.  I guess I was expecting a bit more.  I wonder how you get to the second floor?



Otherwise, there ain’t much to do except to drive away.


Eastern Illinois University


I have been to all other public universities in the state except EIU and I couldn’t wait for to walk around the quad.   Since it was about noon on a Sunday, there were few students walking around. 



The whole vibe of the school is something that time passed it by.  Much of the architecture features builds from the late 1930s to about 1980.   Nothing was crumbling, but unlike ISU that has several new constructions, it was a little depressing.


IMAG1296Gods of science

This is an awesome entrance to the science building.



Like ISU, the college has a castle, which abutted the northern point of the quad.  It looks like the oldest building on campus.



Advertising for EIU stating that most classes are under 40 student and it contributes a lot of revenue for the town of Charleston.  This puts a fine point to the fact that the school is going broke.  Its enrollment is on the decline.  There are fewer young people in the area as families move to more prosperous areas.

Throughout the city there were a lot of signs supporting the university but it sounds like they actually don’t want to pay for it.  There was a lot of ‘no’ signage for a local tax referendum that has been vote down twice before.    






The town of Charleston reminds me more of Tennessee than the flat land of Central Illinois.  The terrain is hillier and more wooded than McLean County.  The downtown square has the huge county courthouse and one of the largest I have ever seen in the state. 

The square had a decent amount of things a nerd like me has to offer.  A good bookstore that has a decent collection of Sci-Fi, a comic/bookshop for college student, as well as a game store.  The university, really gives the city a boost as compared to other towns of similar size in the rural Illinois.

Moore Home/Lincoln Log Cabin


The Moore Home was the last place that Lincoln stopped in Coles County.  Rather non-descript but the structure seems fairly typical of the middle-upper class rural area in the 1850s.  We come a long way.


IMAG1341Lincoln was here



According the guide the original Lincoln log house was taken to Chicago and lost (maybe used as firewood.)  Later I learned the Abe never lived here as he was an adult before his family moved here.   



Hard living.  It was cool that the had live animals in the pens to give the area some flavor.



Because the site is of marginal historical value, offered many other B-rate attractions such as quilts, painted of Illinois, and dioramas.   This one is of the Kun Brewery.  I’d like to use in a gaming campaign.


IMAG1367Ye olde Barbie home



Along the drive, I noticed dozens of working oil wells.  Most of the wells are from the 1940-50s and produce 1 to 2 barrels a day.  I guess they are still profitable given the costs have long been paid.

Lake Mattoon


Like most lakes in Illinois, Lake Mattoon was built to supply water to the surrounding counties.  For the most part, the lake is unremarkable except for a long road that bisects the lake that allows for a wonderful drive and a good place to fish.



This was the hinterland for Sprint and T-Mobile.  No service for tens of miles in every direction.  Relying on cached Google Maps in rural areas can lead you into grass paths of bogs.


Hidden Springs State Forest


Hidden Springs This park is fairly deep in the boonies.  One of the odder state parks, it has at least a dozen non-contiguous plots between small corn and bean plots.   Given the remoteness, it would be easier bike around than drive. 

In generally, the forest has many more conifers than more northern parks.  The paths are well-marked and moderately difficult.  It was fun to whisk through the fall leaves with the conifer clippings giving the ground a spongey feel.



The springs are really hidden.  They aren’t much of an attraction.


Thompson Mill Covered Bridge


This bridge was one of the first crossings along the Kaskaskia River.  Built in 1868, it is narrowest of the 5 covered bridges in Illinois.  I could almost touch the sides when walking through.



Williamsburg Hill Cemetery


Lost in around the bluffs north of Cowden, I came across this hidden gem of a cemetery.  set top of a set of large hills, the tombstone blend is well the trees.  It is really peaceful place to rest.

Someone came by while I was there.  This was surprising as last 10 to 15 miles, I saw no traffic on the roads and few farms.  I struck up a conversion with the elderly lady to learn more about who was buried here and who recently vandalized some of the graves.



A long road home.




Being at least a half an hour from anywhere, Pana is an abject lesson why it sucks to live in a small town.  Many of the businesses in the town are boarded up relics.  Any manufacturing along the railroad is long since dried up.  The town itself offered little of interest except the cool link St. Patrick’s church just south of the dreary downtown area.

Using Business Objects 4.x to Create Tableau Reports

Tableau Workshops - miso -While Tableau has a great visualization capabilities, getting data into it from other databases is a chore unless the schema is simple.  Joining tables is easily through the GUI, but if the request requires complex filters it soon requires custom SQL. 

When this happens, Tableau is no help making it easy to code the SQL.  There are no hints or prefills like modern code programs have.  Therefore, I leverage the work of my Business Objects Universe authors.  They took the time to create the correct database joins needed to build visualization fast.  While Business Objects doesn’t produce the cleanest SQL, it will nearly always work in Tableau.


1. In BOXI (Business Object web version,) create the query

2. On the Query Panel control bar, click View Script



3. In the Query Script viewer, click Use custom query script

4. Highlight the SQL

5. Right-click > Copy (CTRL + C)



6. In Tableau, connect to a New Data Source

I have tested this and it works for DB2, SQL Server, and Oracle.  While it can work for Access so long as their is no spaces in table and field names, though there are ways to get around it by switching the [] brackets with double quotes.



7. Enter your database server information and ID/password.

For this to work, you will need at least Read Only access to the database in question.



8. If necessary, choose the correct Schema.

Most complex databases will have this, but products such as Access will not.


9. At the bottom of the Table section, double-click New Custom SQL



10. In the Edit Custom SQL popup, right-click > Paste (CTRL + V)



The SQL should be displayed.  Now the SQL should be cleaned a bit before clicking OK. 

  • Remove anything after the WHERE or GROUP BY clauses such as FOR READ ONLY.  Most databases don’t like it.
  • If there is custom field formatting in the SELECT clause such as Date formatting remove it.  That is what Tableau is for.  If the SQL will be used in lots of workbooks, I like to give them a standard name.  This makes it easier to keep naming structures constant.
  • CASE as well as Min/Max statements work fine. 
  • If you want, clean the SQL to make it a bit more readable.  Things such as adding friendly field name helps when error checking is necessary.

11. Click OK

Hopefully there are no errors.



If there is an error click Show Details in the error box to see the problem (this examples show a missing comma after one of the variables.)  Unfortunately, Tableau only show the first error it encounters.

Illinois River Fall Viewing

Last weekend, I took a trip to look around the lesser known parks on the Tazewell side of the Illinois River in order to take in the fall colors.  This year the color was weaker than in the previous few.  Most tree simply turned pale yellow and sheading their foliage quickly.  Only the sugar maples seem not to notice the unusually warm fall weather in the area.

John T McNaughton Park

This park is one of the larger ones around Pekin named after an advisor in the federal government of whom I never heard of before now but was a local boy.  The park itself is rolling grass and forest covered hills with the lowest points in the park containing several small lakes/mosquito breeding pits.


The main attractions are a rather large 18-hole Frisbee golf course and equestrian center near its northern end.  The course looked like it would be quite challenging given the hilly terrain.


It the rolling grassland provided a pleasant stroll but the hiking trails are better served on horseback.  There were too many ruts and mud pit to make for an enjoyable time.


The park itself had few amenities.  The most interesting ones were the teepee style campfire rings that dotted the area that are for the Boy Scouts who set up camp in the park.

Independence Park

Independence Park is located in Marquette Heights.  It is a well designed park with a fair number of play ground areas, ball diamonds, and paved biking trail.  In the local area, it is also known for having decent mountain bike trails.


These trails follow most along the upper edges of hollows with some changes in elevation here and there to give a ride some variability.  It reminds me somewhat of Evergreen Park park biking trails with many tree roots to give people bumpy rides.


Overall it is a nice and well maintained park.  The only problem is you never feel like you are in a rural landscape.  The park abuts I-474, so nature lovers get to hear both bird songs and semis.



Pekin Lake/Park

I was reluctant to visit Pekin given few people have said good things about it, so I passed up going to both the town and this park for years.  Laying on the Illinois River the park part reminded me other old river towns such as Quincy and the Quad Cities.  Off have tried tried to spruce the riverfront up.  Unfortunately, the nice new park amenities clash with the old industrial theme of the local area.



There wasn’t much to see in the park itself except bogs and trash.  I was more interested in the industrial areas surround it.


Totally makes me want to reinstall Fallout and go ruin exploring in a power suit.


Veterans Park

Veterans Park is a typical park set in East Peoria.  It sits on hills over looking the Peoria downtown cityscape.  The amenities such as the baseball diamond and playground equipment are very well maintained and look almost new.  The walking path lets a person take in the hilly terrain and enjoy the nearly perfect Illinois fall weather.


Fondulac Park West

This park sits right across the street from Veterans Park.  However, the city does not make it easy to walk to it and place fences between the park and Springfield Road.  To make matters worse, there are no sidewalks in the area in order to even get to the park safely without driving.


I liked this park for its single feature, it sits on a large steep hill.   Only the brave would sled down it because of the line of trees at the bottom.


Hmm, doesn’t look as impressive on camera. My maybe the hike up the hill wasn’t as tiring as I thought.

IMAG1005Weird colored fungi growing in the area


Bassnectar Concert

imageOn Halloween, I arrived in Downtown Peoria about half hour before my first dj concert.  It was odd to see such a large town so empty at 6 pm on a Monday.  No eateries opened except bars.  Peoria is really dead at times.  Fortunately it made the walk to the Civic Center a breeze.

Upon entering the arena, a woman in the security line yell out “No glow-sticks.”  Seriously?  Later I passed a stand near the entrance to purchase them (ah…monopolies.)  However, for many in the security line, it didn’t seem to matter.  They had other ways to amuse themselves such as lighted hula-hoops and glowing juggling balls. 

While standing in the line to get patted down, I immediately noticed two things.  The first was that I was a decade older than the average concert goer. 

Beavis and Butthead

The next was that I was too plainly dressed.  About half of the people where in costume.  There was a wide gamut.  Some looked like they used their girlfriend eyeliner and drew some odd patterns over their face.  Others had clothing that might have been illegal in some southern jurisdictions.  Still others had costumes so well made few that they would have been right at home at ComicCon.

High Fidelity: "Mouthful of Cavities" - Blind MelonPicture of a typical party goer.

Overall, security was intense.  I think I had to go through more security here than when I last flew.  Of course, it was just for show.  During the concert an hour or so later a couple in front where happily smoking a metal bowl.  Yea security theater.



(DJ Spinn & Taso) from Teklife opened the venue.  Their music was a mix of hip-hop and electronica, which the duo played rather conservatively.  The vanilla beats wouldn’t win any awards for being novel, but I generally enjoyed their show. 

One odd thing about the set was that about a half dozen or so people would come out in front of the stage and dance.  Well dance is a bit of a strong word for it.  More like hop around out of step with the music.  It made the whole thing seem like a high school talent contest. 


At this point I initially thought that the concert would only be sparsely attended, with the floor only about half full at this point.


As to was general admission, the taught was to stay away from the hard core revealers and get a good spot in the second bowl section.  Not that I wouldn’t mind getting closer for the rest of the show, but there is a tendency at this type of concert to both get hot and and have a drunk spill beer on you.


G Jones

At first this dude came up and started jamming on his laptop with no introduction.  I didn’t even know who he was until I Googled it out the next day.  The artist, G Jones, had a much more technical trance and beat set.  While he was good at the art, he couldn’t get the crowd into what he played.  There was too much futzing around with the music every 10-20 seconds or so.  He would get a good grove going and the switch the beat.  You could see the crowd having a hard time adjusting with it as they would start to sway and then bam, a different tempo. 

It must have not matter to the musician though.  He was quite animated throughout the set dancing and rocking out to his own music.   The set reminded me of someone singing in the shower.  Personally, it was OK with the tunes played.  There were some great rifts here and there but I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to his stuff. 


At the end of his set, the audience grew rapidly, with a full floor and the bowl about half filled.  Soon my seat 2/3rds of the way up was in the middle of the crowd.




Bassnectar press photo 2014.jpg

I stumbled on Bassnectar while listening to dubstep radio stations on Spotify a few years back.  After listing to his catalog, I purchased the excellent album Vava Voom.   I like his earlier stuff more than what he produces now as it is a bit more trance and less bouncing rhythms. picture from the start of the set.

However, the opening was nothing I’ve seen in years.  The show started with such a wave of sonic intensity that it rivaled hard rock acts like Pantera and industrial icon Ministry.  It was LOUD with the bass to intense that you could feel it in your teeth.


IMAG1067So many lights that the shots of the stage sucked.

With this the crowd went wild.  Even siting high up, there were people were dancing everywhere, in their seats, along the pathways, and in the stairwells.  It was like a ground well of humanity as thousands of attendees partying wildly.  Simply amazing.



The banning of glow sticks was of little consequence now.  Their pale glow was only visible through the fog and light show within a few paces.  Many concert goers had LED lighting attached to their clothing.  I have seen lighted clothing at conventions, but never figured they would be interesting to wear until now.

On the floor, there was a person decked out as jellyfish with the tendrils encased in moving led lights.  A young lady sitting to my left was dressed up as an anime magic girl.  Her attire and wand had various light sewn in that sparkled.  Here and their people played with all sorts of glowing objects from balloons to flash settings on their phones.

There were slow spots to give the crowd a rest, but the music never really stopped.  Instead of a traditional set in a song-stop-banter-song rhythm that traditional artists employ, songs flowed into one another.  Actually, it was clips of songs that transitioned and sometimes an earlier song would make a return.  I got to sample from all of his ten albums along with one of the two I came to hear Ping Pong.  The other called Pennywise Tribute was skipped for other remixes.

IMAG1079Is it mana from heaven?

It was later in the show when Bassnectar started playing remixes of other artists.  Snoop Dog and White Zombie featured strongly while I got to hear the hardest version of Frank Sinatra ever.

Overall, the convert experience was above average.  The venue has decent acoustics and its shape fit rather well to the light show.  It will likely be my first and last dj concert, and I think of few better ways to spend Hallo’s Eve than rocking out in great band.