Since you asked, some thoughts on U2 General Admission.

by Stacey Jaros

[Warning: VERY mild spoilers]

Briefly, prompted by many questions from anxious fellow-fans, here are a few of my reflections regarding lining up for General Admission, GA, spots. For the current U2 tour, the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour.

Some of my favorite U2 experiences have occurred in the GA line. I wouldn't want to discourage that activity. By all means, meet up with your friends, have a BBQ/Picnic, throw around a Frisbee after a long ride. Basically, U2 has gifted fans with the opportunity to queue in a relaxed fashion - no line nazi required. In my opinion, unless you want a very specific spot, it is completely unnecessary to line up at all.

Thursday night I had seats in Vancouver. Showtime was 7:30. I sauntered up to the venue around 6:45. I had plenty of time to use the facilities, get a snack, and make my way to my seat (nearly in the rafters). The show didn't begin until around 8.

Friday night I had GA. My friends and I walked up to the arena around 7. It was more than plenty time to get to the EXACT spot I wanted on the floor. If I had wanted second from rail anywhere along the catwalk that could have been mine as well.

I've never seen anything like the stage set up before. There seems like miles and miles of rail. What looks like a catwalk connecting the "A" stage and "B" stage is also used as a stage by the entire band at certain points during the show. Bono spends a lot of time traversing this area. Some of the most impressive photos of band members have been taken by fans along this section.

The entire band spends some time on the B stage as well. Those on the floor wanting some face time with any number of band members will likely be happy to have some rail at that location.

You may not believe me but I do not believe rail will not be the most coveted spot by the end of this tour. There is a multi-media presentation that occurs in the section above the catwalk. They may look like simple, if impressive in size, screens. Without giving away the trick of it all I will merely say it needs to be experienced to understand what is happening. I do not believe photos can even capture the impact. That area is not entirely visible from the rail. Those on the rail are essentially looking up the front plane of the screens. It's pretty hard to see the impressive visual story presented there.

I heard quite a bit of rumbling from the Red Zone folks when the floor diagrams began circulating. I think the band really had your best interests at heart when designing these special sections. You get lots of un-crowded rail with a fantastic vantage point for the action on, and over, the catwalk.  Red Zone ticket holders may come and go as the please. If one wanted to get a closer spot it would be relatively easy to get within 3-4 people from the catwalk or B stage if you wanted a little closer facetime.

Individual venues may vary, but Friday we went through security check (a pretty cursory bag check), then had our credit cards scanned (we had ticketless entry - painless for me), then received wristbands. According to our tickets we were either "N" or "S" which corresponded to the Northside (Adam) or Southside (The Edge) of the catwalk.

I think it will vary by venue but I'm assuming night 2 in Vancouver, a Friday night, before a (local) three-day-weekend, was really close to capacity. It was really easy to move about. GAers are not necessarily entirely free to move around the entire floor however. Once on the floor you stayed on "your" side. Some people were able to freely move from side to side, some were only allowed pre-show, and some were not at all. I'm sure it varies by venue, capacity, and the proclivities of the security on the floor.

I think the "end zone" seats are the least desirable seats in the house. Only the first few rows get any band face time and the multi-media experience isn't really visible from these vantage points. They have provided screens that show a feed from various cameras throughout the venue, including some cool ones on on band members' wrists, but the multi-media experience is pretty much unavailable to them. However, if you're interested in seeing how some of the sausage is made these are the seats you want. You can't see the face of the screens but you can see INSIDE them. That is a lot cooler than it probably sounds.

I wouldn't want to trade the experience I had on the floor Friday night for anything. Ever. However I believe this show is best experienced from the seats. Luckily my next several shows are seats in 100-teens sections. I cannot wait to see the show from those locations. I truly believe these are going to be the sweet spots for this particular production.

The sound from my upper-tier seats was great but at the second song, Out Of Control, I was reaching for my earplugs. The high end was chimney, and echoey. On the floor, from the first opening notes I needed earplugs. The sound, especially the high-end, was particularly painful. I cannot say whether it was because of my change in location within the venue, or whether Joe O'Herlihy made changes. I can only say this: BRING EARPLUGS. If you use earplugs meant for listening to music (I like Etymotics) it will sound great. In fact Thursday night I heard, and enjoyed, Adam more than ever.

If you still don't have tickets it may not be too late. As the stage is assembled in each venue, and invited guest comp tickets are sorted, they will release the remaining tickets for sale. I learned about the Vancouver "ticket dump" at 4:30 am Thursday morning (on Twitter). I was able to buy my Friday night GA ticket from Ticketmaster Canada from my hotel room. Keep your eyes out, be flexible, be persistent. Please avoid scalpers. Good luck.

Note: there is NO OPENER this tour. There's no telling when the band will take the stage but know it will be U2, unless it's The Dalton Brothers (hey, a girl can hope).

Have a great show everybody.

All That Really Matters Is That We Are All Made From Stars

by Stacey Jaros

"We are made of starstuff." - Carl Sagan
"We are all made of stars." - Moby

"Born for bliss, born for this. Every human life begins with a kiss." - U2

Not so fast, Bono. That may be technically true but sometimes life requires a more circuitous route.

Due to fertility difficulties my biological father is an anonymous donor, a fact about which I was unaware until I was in my mid 20's. My mom and dad were married and raised me together. I never felt anything other than loved, wanted, and fully part of my immediate family.

Learning this secret was truly shocking at first. However, after a short time of reflection I understood my dad was my dad. He was a good, even great, though not perfect, dad. Knowing the truth of my creation changed nothing about that.

One consequence of learning that news is that it made me more compassionate towards other people. Virtually anyone walking down the street could be a relation. I imagine it is a little bit how an adoptive person feels.

Since I learned the truth I have attempted to make it as public as possible. I wanted everyone close to me to be aware because I didn't want to foster secrecy around something that is simply a matter of fact. I bring it up in conversation when it seems appropriate. I never obscure the truth of it.

I understand some people whose biological parents are unknown to them desire to meet them. That desire hasn't developed in me. I had a dad. He passed in 1996, and I miss him terribly, but he was my Dad. I do not see a need to replace him.

There are two things though about which I am curious. I've often wondered what my genetic background is. It would likely be most compelling in the event I was to have children, which is unlikely now at my age. But it could also be important for my future health. I've also wondered what my cultural heritage is.

By legend, both sides of my Mom's family are a mish-mosh of Northern European, and a healthy sprinkling of Native American. It would be great to know how much truth is in those stories.  I watch shows like "Who Do You Think You Are" (a celebrity genealogy television series) and I'm completely rapt with the personal stories the subjects learn about themselves. It makes me a little sad I have no way of knowing half my biological story.

Out of curiosity my Mom, my husband, and I did genetic testing with 23 and Me. Since I do not carry a Y chromosome I knew I wouldn't be able to learn anything about my paternal side. The results were still valuable in learning my Mom's side though.

We all received our full genetic results this week. It was able to identify my mom as such so we acknowledged that relationship on the site, thereby opening up deeper information of our connection. That link also opened up information about my paternal side. Given the Y chromosome limitation, I was not anticipating paternal information. But there it was, my genetic story split in two: that which is from my mom, and that which was given to me by my paternal father.

In addition to identifying my mom, 23 and Me identified hundreds of individuals with whom I share genetic material. Most people it found are rather distant cousins but my mom and I did have fun digging around a bit with the ones that are common to both of us. We found some likely candidates who my be as close as second cousins.

Not only did it identify potential distant relatives, the site identified someone with whom I share a large percentage of genetic information. A person they predict to be a half-sister. I am having trouble processing this new information. It never occurred to me I would find a paternal relation.

The potential match has an anonymous profile, as do I. If she matched me I can only imagine I appeared in her matches as well. I wonder how much of a shock it is to her. I wonder a lot of things, actually.

I am going to contact her in the next few days, as soon as I figure out what to say. My instinct is to make a joke of it, " So, funny story. It turns out we share a father. Probably." But I'm sure I'll come up with something more appropriate eventually.

So, in the spirit of laying it all out on the table, there is my story. So far.