“Missed our record-breaking Kickstarter campaign? You can pre-order the Elevation Dock here. We expect to be shipping in late April with the rest of the Kickstarter orders.” -Casey

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 28th, 2012. Comments Off on Elevation Dock Pre-Orders Now Available.

“It’s a big milestone, I think crowd-funding is just in its infancy.” -Casey Hopkins

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 9th, 2012. Comments Off on Elevation Dock Raises $1,000,000 In Funding on KickStarter.

“It’s been a hell of a run. Looking forward to a solid night of sleep after two months without it. Then it’s laser focus on getting these shipping.” -Casey Hopkins

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 8th, 2012. Comments Off on Elevation Dock Breaks All-Time KickStarter Funding Record.

Quite possibly the best commercial ever made. “Shot 100% on the Go Pro HD HERO. Watch as Kayaker Ben Brown masterfully rules an epic waterfall and enjoy one of GoPro’s summer commercials airing on national TV.”
Read More…

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, Opinions, Thank me later, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 7th, 2012. Comments Off on The Best Commercial Ever Made?.

We updated and refined the layout in some places. Removed some crap from other places. We like it more now.

Posted in Think Brilliant at January 29th, 2012. Comments Off on Updates to the Think Brilliant Website.

Wired: “The Dock Apple should have made in the first place.”
John Gruber: “An exquisitely well-crafted, beautiful, useful iPhone dock. I’m in.”
New York Times: “…but wow, what a stand.”
Gizmodo: “I’m tempted to buy an iPhone just so I can use the Elevation Dock”
SlashGear: “Elevation Dock for iPhone blows up on Kickstarter”
UberGizmo: “Dock aims to make undocking your iPhone a piece of cake”
Jason Fried: “Love the thinking that went into the design!”
Marco Arment “Elevation Dock for iPhone raised $75k in 8 hours”
Cult of Mac: “…The Most Gorgeous iPhone Dock Ever Made”
GigaOM: “A dock becomes a darling of the tech world”
Digital Trends: “Great design if you ask us. Why didn’t Apple think of this?”
Electronistra: “Upscale, case-friendly home”
Uncrate: “…you’re going to want a dock. But not just any dock. The Elevation Dock.”
TNW: “The Elevation Dock for iPhone blows away Apple’s crap options”
Cool Material “The Elevation Dock is, to put it bluntly, perfect.”
Silicon Florist “I… Yeah. I don’t even really know where to begin.”
AIGA: “…perfect blend of form and functionality… much like Dyson’s fan.”

Posted in Didn't Think I'd Have An Apple Category, lifeisawesome, MyFanboySide, Thank me later at December 15th, 2011. Comments Off on Elevation Dock: Fastest Start in Kickstarter History, by Casey Hopkins.

A Better Dog

The first time I saw you, rope in your mouth
Tugging at your father as he came from behind the barn
Love. Pure.
Often, I feel the same way when I see you running in the fields

You’re a leader, a companion, my best friend
You’ve helped me learn how to be a man

You’ve waited for me, you’ve fought for me, stood up for my pride
You’ve been hurt, I hate seeing you bleed

You’re a guardian, a worker, an intelligent soul
When I lose control, I turn to you for guidance,
You’re always there, with a warm embrace, ready to comfort me

We all have regrets, I’m sure you know mine
You can feel me, I don’t need to speak to you

That you have chosen me to share this ride with, thank you
That you continue to teach me how to live a calm and balanced life, thank you
That you glow with love and kindness, thank you

I am just trying to make myself worthy of your time

That you have patience for me, thank you

I love you Ryu, a better dog does not exist

Read More…

Posted in Uncategorized at November 28th, 2011. Comments Off on A Poem for Ryu.

Your enemies can also be your teachers. Listen to their message and ignore who they are.

Posted in Life, Quotes at October 30th, 2011. Comments Off on Quote of the Day.

Until Super Ball, I was still skeptical that Phish was heading in the right direction. A handful of bad show experiences, Trey’s impatience, and the general crowd-pleasing nature of the band was turning me off. This has officially changed.

After the Gorge and Tahoe, I’m completely confident we’re witnessing the magic emerge once again. For the first time since Phish started playing together again in 2009, I’m getting glimpses of the creative fire Phish exhibited in the past. It may take a while to get there, but the direction we’re heading in is glorious.

For the sake of expressing my point, there are five specific musical examples that I’d like to focus on: The Rock and Roll from the first night at the Gorge (2011), Light from the first night in Tahoe (2011), the end of Mound from Super Ball (2011), the transition back into Split Open and Melt, and the Have Mercy from Utica (2011). All of these musical moments are prime examples of why I started following Phish around the country so many years ago. (The Waves soundcheck from Bethel almost made the list, but it deserves its own post.)

Grab some headphones or turn on your speakers and try to follow along with the analysis below.

Rock and Roll • August 5th, 2011 – Gorge

At the 11:10 mark of the jam, Trey finds a darker upscale lick that he likes. Mike responds with some downward arpeggios, Page is layering on top and Fishman is listening for Mike to find the groove he wants to settle in on. At 11:48 the magic happens. Mike gives the go-ahead to Fishman and the entire band settles in on an incredible groove. The only way they could’ve found this uncharted territory is through extensive improvisation. All of them have such a focused ear at this point in the jam, listening to precisely what the other band members are laying down. This is a prime example of the Phish I fell in love with.

Light • August 8th, 2011 – Tahoe

At the 9:05 mark Page emerges with a Piano melody that inspires the rest of the band to find themselves. In what seems like a premeditated thought, Page finds himself in the driver’s seat at the the 9:20 mark. The jam heavily progresses forward, allowing Mike to emerge with a thundering bomb at the 10:20 mark. While the rest of the band backs him up, he finds the magic at the 10:30 mark. The rest of the jam is a shining example of what made Phish’s second set pearl choices so important. At the 15:22 mark, Mike finds a downright scary synth driven line. The rest of the band responds with a mediterranean-psychedelia inspired foundation. Close your eyes, it sounds like 1996.

Mound • July 3rd, 2011 – Super Ball

After the incredible interplay between Mike and Trey between the 2:05 and the 2:40 marks, the band is clearly feeling this version of Mound. They nail the composed sections of the song, and when the ending draws near, Trey decides to take the final solo instead of Page. In what could be a classic “Thank you Trey” moment, he absolutely shreds it into oblivion. It all starts at the 6:15 mark when Trey hops in with some minor notes over the psychedelic bluegrass foundation the band is throwing down behind him. Trey continues to lay down some beautiful notes while the rest of the band is clearly paying attention to him. At the 6:57 mark Fishman and Page lock in on a three-note rhythm that fills in Trey’s holes, and it makes for a gloriously enlightening feeling. This leads to an uptick, which in turn leads Mike to a thundering jazzy bluegrass scale at the 7:05 mark. Mike continues to meet Trey’s peak notes with fiery intensity. At 7:17 the entire band locks in on that fundamental bluegrass movement while racing towards the finish line. An instant classic in Mound history.

Split Open and Melt (and Have Mercy) • October 12th, 2010 – Utica

After a great Split Open and Melt to start the magic, the band moves into a beautiful rendition of Have Mercy. At the 2:54 mark, a very pleasing jam emerges. Fishman does a great job of using the rim of his snare here to provide depth. Trey leads the way as the driving force behind the beat, letting Mike play around in the background until he finds something he likes. At 3:54 Trey and Mike trade places, allowing the groove to turn into a classic soaring melody driven romp.

The piper deserves its own post, so for the sake of these examples, let’s move to the end of the jam. At the 8:51 mark of Piper, Mike starts hinting at a minor dissonance with an arpeggio. Fishman picks up on it and moves into the beginning of the end of Split Open and Melt. At the 9:20 mark of Piper, Mike throws down some off-key bombs that clearly signify the beginning of something special. Page is layering some very thick psychedelia on top of it and Trey is mimicking Mike’s one-off movements. As the track listing moves into Split Open and Melt, Trey throws down a “here I am” lick at the 0:08 mark that invokes a feeling of pure glory. Mike emerges with the original baseline as they nail the first three-hit transition back into the ending of SOAM at the 0:17 mark. Trey then channels his early-nineties self and shreds the rest of the tune apart. Simply stunning.

In closing, I disagree with most analysis that floats around, painting Phish’s musical evolution as one large movement, hoping they can be better than they once were. Instead, I like to dissect Phish’s music on technical and creative levels, with specific examples. When I’m comparing recent Phish shows to past shows, I am specifically comparing the levels of creativity showcased within the band, the way they listen to each other as musicians, the talent exhibited during an improvisational jam, and the overall energy they are putting out there.

At this point, I truly believe Phish is capable of being better than they have ever been. We are witnessing something magical here. For the first time in years, I’m noticing the band seriously try to impress its fans. The nostalgia act is officially over. You may have to see every single show on any one tour to catch a moment like I’ve explained above, but hopefully that won’t be the case in 2015. If Phish keeps moving in the direction they have been, I fully expect the old-school, non-stop creativity that dropped my jaw at every other show, to emerge once again.

This is a beautiful time. Phish sounds great again. Life is good.

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at August 13th, 2011. Comments Off on Phish: Signs of Glory Emerging Once Again.

For my brother… My dear, dear brother. You are going through an incredibly devastating breakup. Forget about her. She’s not worth it.  Read More…

Posted in Life at July 27th, 2011. Comments Off on I’m Looking Through You.

Life is quite simply a series of challenges you must overcome. Get through one test with grace, be rewarded with the outcome. Fail, and the test continues to take shape.

Posted in Life, Quotes at June 23rd, 2011. Comments Off on Quote of the Day.

I have been tasked with tending to the neighbor’s garden and feeding their chickens for a week. The garden has been a pleasure to work with, but the chickens on the other hand, have been sort of tricky. Read More…

Posted in Nya, Ryu at June 22nd, 2011. Comments Off on Some Help Feeding the Chickens.

Phish’s music has taken on a variety of shapes over the years. What started as a group of goofy-looking white guys playing music in Vermont, has turned into one of the most successful and impressive musical acts in history.

For over half of my life, Phish has held a very special place in my heart. The band, its music and the surrounding culture have helped shape my beliefs and turn me into the person I am today. For this, I am eternally grateful. For the monumental shows that Phish has played, and the ones I’ve been lucky enough to experience, these are memories I will cherish forever. For those that haven’t experienced Phish first-hand, I don’t expect you to understand the thoughts I’m about to express with specificity to Phish. However, as a fan of talented musicians, try to empathize.

I’m currently on a flight back to Portland, Oregon after making the trek to Alpharetta, Georgia to see Phish play a pair of sold-out shows in a gorgeous, accommodating venue. The shows were a lot of fun, the crowd was full of energy, and even though the second night’s show was paused due to severe thunderstorms and a flooded pit section, the entire experience was absolutely monumental.

These days, the overall experience is all that seems to matter to most people, including the band members. The entire musical landscape that Phish originally helped shape — complex musical compositions, lengthy and emotional improvisation, thrashing musical mind-fucks, totally unpredictable shows night after night — has all but disappeared. Nowadays, people don’t walk out of shows talking about how Trey turned their brain into mush with a flurry of incomprehensible guitar licks. The days of being able to critique the music on a scale of complexity and improvisational craftsmanship are long gone. Instead, the entire show is grouped together as one experience. Either it was good, or it wasn’t. This isn’t the Phish that I remember, and quite frankly it’s a Phish that scares me for the future.

There was a time when it simply didn’t matter where (geographically) Phish was playing. Often times, the most epic and memorable shows took place in the most rundown of venues, in the most unfriendly of neighborhoods. With downright disgusting lot-scenes and relentless harassment from local authorities, we traveled to these places to see Phish play because the music was simply unrivaled and unabashed. These days, I can’t whole-heartedly say the same thing. Aside from the obvious reasons (you live nearby, you’ve never seen the band live, you were invited to a show for free), I couldn’t recommend going to see Phish at some of their favorite and historically successful venues anymore.

It saddens me to write these words, but they’ve been festering in my mind for far too long now.

The band refuses to take musical risks on a regular basis. They are settling for insultingly predictable setlists night after night. Fans that hop on tour for strings of 4 or 5 shows are being treated with multiple repeats. When Phish finally jams and enters some improvisational territory, people are surprised, and after the show you hear things like, “wow, I’m so happy they jammed tonight.” How is this the band we fell in love with so many years back?

It’s no doubt that Trey’s sobriety is massively stifling his creativity. He is clearly thinking about the notes he’s going to play, and is less-and-less becoming a “vessel for improvisational music,” like he used to describe himself. This leaves the band without an experimental, psychedelic leader who’s willing to take risks and fall flat on his face, in the hopes of reaching true musical bliss. The Trey that leaves my jaw on the floor simply isn’t in the building anymore. This isn’t a bad thing. Trey has a substance abuse problem. Him being sober means he gets to be a better father, a better husband, a better son and a better friend. If the music must suffer in order for him to lead a happy and healthy life, so be it.

Some of this can be attributed to father time as well. People get older, fingers move slower. Still, Phish’s ultimate success wasn’t brought about because they could shred Donna Lee at the drop of a dime. There are plenty of Jazz musicians out there that destroy insanely complex compositions, who are much older than any of Phish’s members.

Not surprisingly, Phish has a whole new legion of fans. At any given show you’ll have folks that are clamoring for old Gamehendge material (thus detaining the band in the past), folks yelling for new material (irking the fans that want to hear old tunes), folks yelling for Mike’s “funk” synth-bass bombs (which many fans think of as a pure gimmick), and folks who simply want to see Trey make his “O” face while he stares out into the crowd. They have so many people to please and so many different fans that are consistently traveling extensive distances to see them play, they don’t want to let anyone down. So, we end up getting shows like they have been playing on this 2011 summer tour.

Five minute 2001’s, nearly no Gamehendge material, consistently repeated Fluffhead’s, Possum’s, Down with Disease’s, and very minimal risk taking, if any at all. Songs that used to be special are now seemingly played to please crowds. Yes, every once in a while a show will stand out from the norm, but, that norm has become monotony, and the standout shows are a small glimpse of what used to fundamentally define Phish.

These days, going to see Phish is about having a good time, and enjoying the experience. It’s not about going to see something different night after night. It’s not about releasing all of your expectations and allowing the band to take you on a magical journey. As reluctant as I am to say it, unless Phish does things differently in the near future, they risk turning into exactly what they wanted to avoid… A purely nostalgic act that allows some of us to feel like we’re 18 again.

I’d love to see Phish mix things up once they’re done with this summer tour. While I doubt any of this will happen, I believe it would be in the band’s best interest to do some of the following.

They need to start playing smaller venues. Look at what happened in Utica last year. This is a prime example of how a small venue can bring about a truly creative, intimate energy. These days, that energy seems much harder for them to find at places like Madison Square Garden, in Atlantic City, or Camden. These huge, themed shows are some of the funnest parties on the planet, and the entire experience is sure to be a blast, but musically, they are generally forgettable. I’d love to see Phish skip some of these huge shows that gross millions of dollars, in favor of smaller shows, where there’s a chance that musical enlightenment will happen.

Phish has a chance to repeat something that most musicians will never get a chance to do even once in their lifetime. The musically-genius, creative journey that propelled them into international stardom in the mid-nineties, has a chance to be recreated here and now. But only if the band shifts gears. Otherwise, they truly risk becoming caricatures of themselves. And we know for a fact that nobody wants that. This isn’t about technical chops, or the speed of which Trey can play a certain solo. It’s not 1994 anymore, he just isn’t the same musician he was back then. I’m talking about creativity. If Phish were to take some time and focus on creativity within their music, they could potentially enter a glorious place of passion and inspiration for their (new or old) music. Either way, this is how we may ever have a chance to rival anything that happened in the nineties. Otherwise, we’re just heading down a road of even shorter songs, twenty song second sets, more judgmental Phish crowds, a wider set of people the band has to please at every show, and a musical act that seems to care more about the money than the music.

While you can still feel the phamily, these days Phish is also a large corporation. The big shows bring in the big bucks. Management makes more of a decision on when tour dates are announced, and ticket sales weigh heavily into future plans. For all we know, they may not even want to reach new musically creative territory anymore. Perhaps they’re simply content grossing millions and millions of dollars playing the same songs year after year.

Whatever happens, I’ll always be grateful for what Phish has given me. If there’s ever been a band that can transcend musical conventionality, it’s Phish… Let’s just hope they want to do it too.

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at June 16th, 2011. Comments Off on Phish: A Personal Reflection.

Religion has caused more destruction to our world, civilization and all of mankind, than any nuclear bomb ever could.

Posted in Quotes at May 25th, 2011. Comments Off on Quote of the Day.

Here’s a quick video sample of Ryu and Carrie. They’ve been in love for quite some time. So much fun to watch.

Read More…

Posted in Life, Ryu at May 21st, 2011. Comments Off on Ryu and His Girlfriend.

By Jeanne Weaver, Aussie Times, January-February 1993

Posted in Nya, Ryu, Working Dogs at May 19th, 2011. Comments Off on Working Style–Aussies vs Border Collies.