Author Archive

The Feeling

Do you remember that feeling? You know, the feeling you had on the last day of school when you were 10 years old?

Imagine: it’s a perfect sunny day. You’re out in the field behind the school with all the other children. Some of them are older than you. Some are younger. Some of them are your friends. Some are your enemies. Some are your neighbours. Some of them you don’t know at all. But none of this matters. In this moment you are happy. Everyone is. Everyone is excited; smiling, talking, running, jumping, playing. Basking in the warm summer glory of the last day of school. Everyone is connected then, in that moment, by that feeling.

I had almost forgotten about that feeling. I didn’t think I’d ever experience it again. But I did! I found it! Or rather, Rich Aucoin aroused it from within me.

Describing a feeling within a moment, or perhaps a moment that creates or awakens a feeling, is quite difficult. Words don’t really exist to describe the complexities of how everything can come together to form a perfect moment in time that you instantly recognize in your heart and soul as happiness. Yet it’s not exactly happiness either. It’s more like being at peace with the universe and truly living in that moment.

All I can do is describe the scene, and you can judge for yourself whether it’s comprehensible:

We’re in a small night club, with hundreds of strangers all around us. There is a white bed sheet hanging on the wall behind the stage. The sheet is covered in images and lyrics being projected in sync with the music. A strobe light is flashing. Everyone is jumping up and down with both hands in the air, shouting along with the music. Some people know the song. For others it is their first time hearing it. It doesn’t matter though, everyone is singing along. And jumping.

Oh, and did I mention that everyone in the room is under a giant rainbowcoloured pinwheel-patterned parachute? It floats up and down in the air as it glides over our outstretched fingertips. It feels as though the whole crowd is moving in sync, not just with each other, but with the universe. Everything seems to be going as planned. We can’t argue with the universe, so we keep jumping and singing along. The parachute is like the pulse of the music, floating effortlessly through the air as the sound fills the space between us all. We feel like a single entity then, as if we’ve all become the physical embodiment of the music. What if the music goes away? Will we remember this perfect moment when it’s gone? Will we ever feel this way again? We can’t take any risks, so we keep dancing, jumping, singing, and smiling as furiously as we can.

That’s the best I can do to describe the experience of Rich Aucoin’s live show. Please just trust me and go see him; you have to experience it for yourself. I wholeheartedly agree with words of Kirk Hamilton:

Without a doubt, and without hyperbole, Rich Aucoin’s live show is one of the best I have ever seen. It’s fun, and uplifting, and will leave you with a full heart and grinning for days on end. One of the lines he had everyone chant was “When you give it all up, you get it back”, and I can’t think of a better way to sum up the show; Rich more that gives it all up, and deserves everything he gets back.

Thank you for the experience Rich. In your own words: WE ARE SO LUCKY!

Querying messy XML in Oracle

I found some XML stored in a XMLType column in an Oracle table that doesn’t conform to a structured XML schema. It looks like this:


Note how all the nodes under /root/fields are named after the field name, rather than each node being named <field>. So I can’t just ask for all the nodes named field or all the field nodes in the fields collection, and I don’t know what the field names are or how many there are either.

I can’t easily change the format of the XML to conform to a schema since this table has been in production for a few years on a few dozen Oracle instances.

So how can I query and/or loop through all the children in the /root/fields path without knowing the child node names? It turns out to be fairly easy!

Example Query:

SELECT EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/name') AS "name",
       EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/value') AS "value",
       EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/enabled') AS "enabled"
  FROM my_table_with_xml tbl,
       TABLE (XMLSEQUENCE (EXTRACT (tbl.xml_type_col, '/root/fields/*'))) xml
 WHERE tbl.primary_key = 1234;

Example Output:

name        value   enabled
field_abc   1       true
field_def   2       false

The trick is this line:

TABLE (XMLSEQUENCE (EXTRACT (tbl.xml_type_col, '/root/fields/*')))

What we do is we EXTRACT() all the nodes below the /root/fields path regardless of their names (* wildcard). Then XMLSEQUENCE() will split the extracted nodes into a VARRAY of XMLTypes. Finally, the TABLE() function allows us to query the VARRAY results by converting the multiple array values into a pseudo table containing multiple rows.

We could even apply a WHERE clause against the XML data to further restrict the results:

Example Query:

SELECT EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/name') AS "name",
       EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/value') AS "value",
       EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE (xml), '*/enabled') AS "enabled"
  FROM my_table_with_xml tbl,
       TABLE (XMLSEQUENCE (EXTRACT (tbl.xml_type_col, '/root/fields/*'))) xml
 WHERE tbl.primary_key = 1234
   AND EXTRACTVALUE (VALUE(xml), '*/enabled') = 'true';

Queen of Hearts video

Check out the music video for Queen of Hearts by Canadian indie artist Fucked Up off their new album David Comes to Life (four free tracks are available for download on their website).

I love how this video challenged my expectations and turned out to be the opposite of what I would describe as a ‘normal’ music video. Instead of actors (or the band) lip syncing along to the original audio of the song, the actors in this video are actually overdubbed so you can hear them singing the song. It’s a totally different song when sung by children; I think I might like the music video version more than the original! Very cool idea.


I recently discovered the amazing band from Tel Aviv, Israel known as Eatliz. If you go to their website you will find that you can stream every track from their debut album and related EP.

After listening to their streaming tracks I was very impressed! Their music reminds me of so many different genres and artists at the same time. So I joined their mailing list and they emailed me some selected tracks:

  • Bolsheviks – reminds me of Mars Volta + Mr. Bungle + Bjork + Opeth
  • Hey – reminds me of… Fantômas + Bjork + Tori Amos + Broken Social Scene
  • Must Get Laid – reminds me of Mr. Bungle + Goldfrapp
  • Zoo – reminds me of Mew + Metric with hints of Coheed and Cambria, but mostly of Electric Turn To Me (I really wish they hadn’t broken up a few years back!)
  • Sunshine – VERY Mars Volta like + Fantômas + Coheed and Cambria
  • Army of Me (Bjork Cover) – Whoa.. I mean.. “WOW!!!” Definitely check out the video to see for yourself.

OK, so the music is good, I’m digging this new find so far… then I decided to check out their music videos… WOW, now I’m totally blown away! You MUST check out their awesome music videos! “Lose This Child” and “Hey” are both extremely impressive videos but I especially like the video for “Attractive” – a soft, delicate song with a video that seems like it could have been inspired by Little Big Planet.

Halo: Cryptum

Being a gamer, a fan of the Halo series of games and a long time fan of author Greg Bear, I was very excited to read his new book Halo: Cryptum. I found it was a bit slow to start but I very quickly became glued to it. I don’t normally like large franchise book series, let alone recommend them, but if you like Greg Bear’s hard science fiction style and/or have any interest in the Halo story then I highly recommend checking it out.

UBC LipDub Video

My wife showed me the UBC LipDub video from her school this weekend. I love the Old Spice Guy parody bit at the beginning! The rest of it is pretty incredible too – one long continuous scene involving a thousand person dance mob, a bus, a swimming pool and a helicopter! I’m very impressed with the directing and production. Check out the YouTube video when you have ten minutes to spare.

Wedding Playlist

Music is important to me. So for my wedding, obviously I wanted to try and incorporate as much great music into the day as possible. I wanted to find a balance between my taste in music, music that a wide variety of other people would enjoy, music that is appropriate for wedding day celebrations and a selection of fun and spontaneous choices that the crowd on the dance floor would be demanding at any point in time. After discussing this with my wife we decided our primary goal was to host a once in a lifetime party, so for that reason we hired Drew Arrington to DJ our reception. We loved his attitude and energy at a friend’s wedding in 2009; he was the perfect fit to entertain our guests!

That took care of our primary goal, but what about my secondary goals? I wanted to include some of my favourite music! This was our day after all! What could I do without turning into Groom-zilla on our DJ (or my wife)? I toyed with the idea of giving a few favourite band names to Drew to see what he’d come up with, but as I typed out some of my ideas I quickly realized that I had too many opinions; that I’m too picky; that I really had to build some sort of playlist myself and pass it on in it’s entirety.

I had a great idea: during the time between the ceremony and dinner (roughly 1.5 to 2 hours) while we’re off taking photos and the bar is just opening up why not share some of my musical selections with our guests as they mingle? I didn’t mind that I wouldn’t be able to hear most of these songs because I knew them all by heart and I’d always have the playlist to listen to whenever I felt like it. That sounds like an easy task right, an hour or two of celebration music to psych up our guests while they’re waiting for us?

Well, the playlist grew, and grew, and grew… and soon the scope of my little project included music to play during dinner as well. I was worried that Drew would feel that I was stepping on his toes, but luckily he was ok with it, he actually complimented my taste in music! His real job for the day would begin after dinner and go into the wee hours of the morning, so really, I was doing him a favour – he could sit back and relax for the first few hours!

I took inspiration from many sources, including the CBC Radio 3 Wedding Bell’s Podcast long time personal favourite artists and tracks and of course songs that had a personal meaning behind them. I tried to group the songs such that more modern, fun and upbeat songs would play earlier when the guests were arriving, getting their first drinks and mingling in the sun. Then in the middle section when we would be arriving at the reception I chose songs with some personal meaning behind them, then later in the mix some of the more quieter and romantically themed songs would come on while guests were eating.

Here it is, my wedding playlist:

  1. Broken Social SceneForced to Love
  2. Kings of LeonUse Somebody
  3. Land of TalkSome Are Lakes
  4. You Say Party!Laura Palmer’s Prom
  5. The New PornographersGo Places
  6. StarsFixed
  7. SiaUnder the Milky Way (The Church Cover)
  8. The Tragically HipFlamenco
  9. Zero 7Somersault
  10. Cary BrothersBlue Eyes
  11. The Goo Goo DollsIris
  12. Young and SexyLife Through One Speaker
  13. Bonnie SomervilleWinding Road
  14. The Apples In StereoNobody But You
  15. Big StarI’m In Love With A Girl
  16. Jason MrazI’m Yours
  17. Smashing PumpkinsTonight, Tonight
  18. Collective SoulThe World I Know
  19. The Goo Goo DollsLet Love In
  20. The New PornographersWe End Up Together
  21. The ShinsNew Slang
  22. Royal WoodI’m So Glad
  23. LambGorecki
  24. MetricLove Is a Place
  25. Hannah GeorgasThis Is Good
  26. StarsMy Favourite Book
  27. David MylesRun Away
  28. Jason MrazLucky (feat. Colbie Caillat)
  29. Sarah HarmerOpen Window (the Wedding Song)
  30. Hawksley WorkmanOh You Delicate Heart
  31. Constantines & FeistIslands In the Stream
  32. Patrick Brealey & the KnivesHow Would You Choose to Be Loved?
  33. Hannah GeorgasShine
  34. Jill BarberChances

You’re probably wondering what the grand finale was, the song that rose above all others and was selected to be the soundtrack for our first dance. This was a tough choice, there were many contenders, but in the end we chose Celebrate by Rose Cousins. It was wonderful and amazing; everyone loved it!

I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do.


I find it funny that my blog is so young and yet I’ve already taken time off from it! Oh well… I’ll try to get into a routine over the next few weeks. Anyways, over the past three weeks I have been focusing intensely on selling our townhouse and buying a house. I am happy to report that both transactions are final now and we couldn’t be happier with how things turned out! We will be moving in the summer.