Friday, June 26, 2009

ubiquitous

I'm listening to thunderstorms roll in and to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Not a CD. Not the iPod. Not from the High Def. Not from Pandora or the Computer.

It's the actual album.

Vinyl.

Oldest son has a portable turntable and a growing collection of vinyl but this record came from the crawlspace. It is mine. Or Hers. I'm not sure. Actually there are two in the musty crawlspace box so one is mine and one is hers. That is how you sell 65 Million records. Everybody buys two.

I was reading today that Michael worked out a deal with the record company were he got $2 on every copy of Thriller. That means I contributed $4 towards diapers for Bubbles , crazy statues or glitter socks.

Like I said. It was ubiquitous. Everyone had one. Or two. Everyone chipped in for amusement rides at Neverland.

The other fact that strikes me about the time when Thriller was big is screaming.

My first screaming memory was of my future wife and one of her friends in my Volkswagen bug/walkman.

The Bug/Walkman had a 50 Watt stereo and I had turned the back "cubbie hole" behind the rear seat into a woofer speaker cabinet. The stereo separation stunk but that thing cranked. There were also a pair of midrange speakers and a pair of tweeters in the doors. The receiver was so large a unit that it would not fit as a replacement radio so I put in the glove box and built a black pleather boot around it. I think the receiver had a separate front/rear stereo amp. It was huge.

Small Space, big speakers. It rocked. Like Myth-busters, break the glass, your ears will be ringing, rocked.

This might explain the ringing in my ears after the Bruce concert.

Anyway, Billie Jean came on the radio. Billie Jean was at the peak of it's popularity at the time and She turned it up to 11 screaming. Both of them screamed the whole song and yet could not overcome the 50 in-your-face watts.

The next scream fest was the Victory tour in September 84. We had a group place in Ventor, NJ for the summer and it was Labor Day weekend, the last hurrah. A group of 6 or 8 of us either drove up or waited in Philly for the Saturday night JFK show. I sat next to girlfriend, some day to be wife, who screamed like it was Beatles at the Ed Sullivan show for the entire show. More ringing in the ears.

The thunder has passed and the record stopped so my reminiscing has come to and end. I have to go pick up oldest son from his hiking trip.

One last thought:
How ubiquitous? Enough that Philippine prisoners eventually staged their own version.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Buffett 2009

It's been a busy couple of days.

Thursday was the Jimmy Buffett concert. I hadn't been in over twenty years and it hasn't changed much. Well maybe the 40 year old guys in grass skirts are now 60 year old guys in grass skirts. I put together a Goodwill/Pirate Hat found in car ensemble. I bought a $4 polyester Hawaiian shirt at the Goodwill which my in-house fashion consult strongly suggested I not wear the plaid shorts I had on with. The Pirate hat which drew the whole thing together was found in the car from picking Oldest Son up from college back in May.

The Pirate hat was a hit.

We sat on the lawn of course. Well I wouldn't say sat. We staked out a piece of real estate with a tarp and then stood in front of it for 3 hours.

A Jimmy Buffett show isn't about the music, that's for sure. He could be up there doing Irish step dancing or playing Mummers music and most of the folks around us wouldn't have noticed or cared. It's as if Buffett has built this annual party that people just show up at. He could have actually passed away sometime in 1997 and they could keep throwing these things.

The Lawn had a very high intoxicated person per square foot ratio. I'd guess almost one to one. Highlights included this guy:

IMG_1201:Jimmy Buffett
5! 5 Dollar. 5 Dollar Foot Long


Who had a much better Pirate ensemble than I did. He would run through the crowd and pose like he is above and then run off. Very strange.

Then there was the young girl we adopted. She was like a lost little lamb out wandering the lawn looking for her group. She knew they were in "G5" which is good, it's a start. You can see the 5 above the Pirate's right hand above. She was close. She had no cell phone, no numbers, no idea where she was.

So we friended her on face book and took her picture.

Later we found out she found her group on the way out.

We got home around 11:30 and were in bed by 12 after checking on Oldest son who went to NY City for a concert with Girlfriend. He was in Penn Station taking the train back to Seton Hall and driving from there.

As tired as I was, I had hard time sleeping so I leaped from the bed when the phone rang at 1:30. I am now in every parents nightmare. The phone call in the middle of the night. The Caller ID showed his cell number.

He said he was alright but he had swiped the side of the car. Who cares about the car. It's 12 years old and on it's last legs. Are you OK? Is Girlfriend OK? yes and yes.

It turns out he was very fortunate. A truck came around to pass him and he thought it was too close so he swerved out the way and ended up just kissing the guardrail on the NJ Turnpike.

Now I really couldn't sleep.

I ended up staying up until he got home at 3.

When I woke at 6 and headed out for work, I had a back in college, "what the hell did I do to my car last night moment" when I came out. Then it all came back to me.

I opened the drivers door and it came 1/2 open as metal ground on metal and I squeezed in. It seems Oldest Son and I have different definition of "alright".

While I went to work for my 9 hour day, my wife did a double from 8 AM to Midnight. Tough going.

Today is the Medford Relay for Life and an another all nighter and Sunday is Father's day back in PA. It's going to a busy couple of days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

#IranElections

I've been watching the protests around the elections in Iran on twitter under the hash tag "#IranElections". I first started watching when the traditional media was reporting that twitter was being used by protesters to get the word out of Iran because it was a clandestine method for getting information of the country.


There were a lot of tweets but honestly, I had a hard time making sense out them. They were a lot of retweets, all by people outside Iran. People were simply repeating whatever they heard.

I changed my status to:

There were two guys in a boat, tweet and re-tweet, tweet jumps out. Who's left? Re-tweet. There were two guys in a boat....

I honestly thought this was crazy. How do you, sitting in Iowa, have any idea if the guy you are retweeting is really in Iran, really a protester or not just a crazy person?

You don't.

There were a lot of other crazy things going on too. People thought the Iranian authorities were isolation twitter users by location and time zone so everyone was setting their location and time zone to Tehran.

They were also changing their pictures to have a green tint and were encouraging major news outlets to change their web pages to use green as the primary color. Green was the color chosen by the protesters to identify themselves.

The BBC actually did. People are still trying to get google and yahoo to do it.

unfufu RT: @oli2be Ask Google to change Google logo for one day http://whereistheirvote.x10hosting.com/ #iranelection #google

I spent two days looking for something, only to realize I was looking at something.

The volume of people doing this is the real story. I'm not sure there is any real truth here but room of ranting maniacs repeating what ever they heard.

682 more results since you started searching. Refresh to see them.

Click here to see the insanity.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More CFL madness, Jimmy Buffett is coming.

I'm staring up at the lamp in the kitchen again. Feit electric came through with the two dimable CFL lamps about a week ago and so I put the one old one and the two new ones into the three bulb fixture.

Of course the new lamps didn't match the color temperature of the old one.

That is no longer a problem.

The old one died too. I should have seen this coming. Of course it was going to go, what ever was wrong with the first two was wrong with the last one as well. I should have just asked for three weeks ago.

So now it's back to phone on Monday to call for a new bulb.

I got a Friday night bike ride in before the deluge on Saturday. It's been a cool, rainy June. Not much pool activity but the hot tub has been jumping. I came home Friday to find youngest son and his friends in the tub. I didn't even know he knew how to use it but use it he did and even cut the valves over to keep the tub hot while filtering the pool.

JDV joined me for the ride. To get to the "connect the parks" ride you have to travel down a heavily congested two lane black road. Sometimes it has a shoulder and sometimes it does not. We actually got a horn honked at us on the "sometimes it does not" part. Not sure what the guy wanted us to do, ride on the grass?

After the ride we enjoyed the chilly pool. I've now been in twice.

I'm going to Jimmy Buffet on Thursday at the Camden River Front, formerly Sony-Blockbuster ECentre, formerly Tweeter, Susquehanna Bank Center. I haven't been to a Buffett show since 1988 when the words "battery powered blender" were magical. I remember everyone wore hawaiin shorts and had "fins" hats.

A trip to the Camden River Front, formerly Sony-Blockbuster ECentre, formerly Tweeter, Susquehanna Bank Center is always like going to a foreign country. They speak a different language and have different customs and holidays. It's like driving to Berlin in the 60's - a land locked fenced off place where different cultures can meet.

To get to the parking lots, you have to wait in line in your cars past the prison along the route. It doesn't matter which way you come from, there is a prison along the route. There you will see women making hand gestures to men in prison who are viewing them from the long narrow windows high up on the multi-story facility. There is a special sign language they share and so the women make crazy hand gestures out on the street and at first you are not sure what's going on since you only see half the conversation.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing the aging Mr Buffett. I looked over set lists and I know the shank of the set list. I may have to boned up on my Buffett, though.

That's about all that is happening here in Mount La-La for now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Grass Master 9000

I was awakened at 8:30 AM by the sound of the riding lawn mower of the guy behind me. I rarely sleep in but somehow up until that point I was doing exactly that. It is no small riding lawn mower either, in fact I've named it the "Grass Master 9000". If it doesn't have name like that, well, it should.

I guess if you have an acre of ground, a Grass Master 9000 is warranted. A 36 inch cutting swath, 26 MPH, that baby would make short work of a big job.

He ain't got an acre. He has a weedy, bumpy, and shaded back yard. It's got to be 100 feet wide and 60 feet long. And it takes forever. It sounds like a helicopter landing in backyard. At 8:30. Look Honey, I think President Obama is here in Marine-1, ohh wait, no it's just the Grass Master 9000.

I understand that everyone is busy, I understand that you may have commitments during the day, but 8:30 AM? That's a little early, don't you think?

Worse that all this is the fact that the Grass Master 9000 has no home. It's homeless. He throws a tarp over it were ever the GM9k stopped. That's just cruel. A machine like that needs a home, a shed of it's own. If there were an SPCA for lawn equipment I'd call them.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lazy Weekend.

Over the weekend Mom and Dad were over. Younger brother (he who does not want to be know on the Internet and yet has a domain) was over with his family as well. Pretty uneventful until their dog cut his paw somehow. We ended up at the 24 hour vet in Cherry Hill. He's fine.

Well, until the bandage. The girls put a bandage on him after he continued to bleed everywhere later.

Mom and Dad went home Saturday night and young brother and his family stayed over night. It was campfires, smores and hanging out that night. We enjoyed the fridge in the shed. Need a cold drink? Head to the shed. I nearly slept out there.

We spent a very lazy Sunday by the pool. The biggest effort was when we went out for Cheesesteaks. The entire day was spent laying on cushions or floating in the pool. I did not cut the grass. I didn't care either. Well, I did, but ignored the temptation to cut it. There was more shed action for cool drinks.

This morning there was a huge thunderstorm and somehow I elected not to walk from the PATCO underground to the office because that would have been way too smart. I was soaked from the knees down. I had to take off my shoes and hang in my office while they dried on the AC vent.

Outside, it was like night at 8 AM and somehow I did not take pictures.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Final WWOOF update.

So here are the returning WWOOFers at JFK. For those of you that had "passport" in the "what would Oldest Son lose on the trip" contest. You win.

Actually you came the closest.

He was filling out his paper work for customs and of course needed his passport number and left his passport out on the tray when they came a collected the trash.

And the passport went with all the trash.

He had to enlist the help of the crew to search through the trash and retrieve the passport.

The total in and out time for me at JFK was less than two hours. I only made one wrong turn on the way out and it was minor, not bad for a rainy Thursday on in Queens.

He was a captive audience so I got to hear first hand all about the trip and fill in the details in more that in 140 character clips. The farm was great, food was unbelievable and the people that worked there were nice.

The had a great time. He met some great people, went "couch surfing" only once in Bologna, went to Venice twice, once all by himself.

He picked up the local dialect pretty well and discovered that Italians want to practice their English more than speak Italian with him. Some of the people were surprised to learn he wasn't Italian.

Overall, I'm impressed. He worked hard, saw a lot and it was all unstructured time. He took a ton of pictures too.

Now it back to reality. He needs a job to replenish his travel fund.

Hangin at airport.

The WWOOF experience is coming to a close as I am waiting to pick up Oldest Son from the airport. I'm sitting in the arrival section of terminal 8 of JFK airport and I'm about an hour and half early.

It's the middle of the day but the traffic across the Veranzano bridge is unpredictable so I left plenty of time, and of course, that means I'm early.

I'm a JFK captive. CNN is on as a buzz in the background, broken only by the overhead messages over and over:

Welcome to terminal eight of JFK International Airport. You should not accept offers of transportation from anyone with out prior arrangement. An unknown driver may not be licensed, have insurance or may over charge you more now or at the end of your ride. For ground transportation information go to the ground transportation center in the arrivals section of this building, for taxis proceed to the taxi stand just outside this building and a uniformed taxi dispatcher will assist you.

And later in Spanish:
Dé la bienvenida al terminal ocho del aeropuerto internacional de JFK. Usted no debe aceptar ofertas del transporte de cualquier persona con el arreglo hacia fuera anterior. Un conductor desconocido no se puede autorizar, tiene seguro o más ahora puede sobre carga usted o en el final de su paseo. Para la información del transporte de tierra vaya al centro del transporte de tierra en la sección de las llegadas de este edificio, porque los taxis proceden a la parada de taxis apenas fuera de este edificio y un asistente uniformado del taxi le asistirá.

I paid 7 bucks for a coffee and a croissant. Ah, the trill of air travel. I can't wait to see what parking is going to end up costing me. I was going to hang in the car and wait for the text message from him when he was cleared customs but a call from nature squelched those plans almost immediately.

Smoking is not allowed in the terminal.

We have a lot of catching up to do. I have no idea what ever became of Pat and James, or where they are headed. Maybe they are coming back with me? Maybe they are headed back to Nebraska. I don't know. The last tweet I have says he bought vodka. How that was legal, I have no idea. Is he getting through customs with that?

May I have your attention. If any unknown person attempts to give you anything to take with you including luggage or packages, do not accept and notify airline personnel. Do not leave luggage unattended. Checked luggage is subject to search.

This is a real international cross roads. I've seen everything but an Eskimo so far. Belay that.

Welcome to terminal eight of JFK International Airport. You should not accept offers of transportation from anyone with out prior arrangement. An unknown driver may not be licensed, have insurance or may over charge you more now or at the end of your ride. For ground transportation information go to the ground transportation center in the arrivals section of this building, for taxis proceed to the taxi stand just outside this building and a uniformed taxi dispatcher will assist you.

The traditional arrival info is on TV screens in front of me, I'm receiving text messages with the same info and I'm checking the American Airlines. How long will it be before I actually hand the plane from my Blackberry?

Dé la bienvenida al terminal ocho del aeropuerto internacional de JFK. Usted no debe aceptar ofertas del transporte de cualquier persona con el arreglo hacia fuera anterior. Un conductor desconocido no se puede autorizar, tiene seguro o más ahora puede sobre carga usted o en el final de su paseo. Para la información del transporte de tierra vaya al centro del transporte de tierra en la sección de las llegadas de este edificio, porque los taxis proceden a la parada de taxis apenas fuera de este edificio y un asistente uniformado del taxi le asistirá.

The arrival time inexplicably just became 10 minutes earlier than it was and I need to pack up and go find him.

Updates on WWOOF to follow.

Monday, June 01, 2009

If you are in row 14 of section 329 in Giants Stadium on 1 Oct, You have my seats.

Why do Internet ticket sales always happen at work? Last time it was the Phillies

I got a call from Gail at work asking if I was going to be getting tickets to the last Springsteen shows at Giants Stadium. Tickets were going on sale at 10 and it was about 10 of. I told her I had work to do and I couldn't.

Then I thought it about and thought I do both, I'd just log on and see if I could get tickets and if I got lucky, then I got tickets.

Tickermaster must have changed how they distribute the tickets because after logging in, selecting 4 tickets for Fridays show and entering those stupid captcha things, it said I was in line and that if hit "back" or refresh I would loose my place in line. The Web page said I had a 15 minute wait.

Then it went up to 16. Then it went back to 15. Then 16 again.

I started to do some emails and generally get things done. I had a conference call at 10:30.

I checked back a few times but the stupid thing always said 15 minutes and at 10:30 I got on my call. It was a short call and I swore that I checked the Ticketmaster page a couple of times.

After the call I saw I had four tickets in section 329, row 14.

And that a little timer in the corner read 00:00.

I had performed the Internet equivalent of waiting in a long line, getting to the front and then standing there like a moron ignoring the sales clerk. (Sir! Can I help you?)

I had four tickets and lost them. So much for doing two things at once.

I called Gail. She struck out too, mostly likely because she had requested 8 tickets.

I gave up and went back to work and at about 11 AM, still pissed about the 4 tickets I had on Friday when Gail called me back. She had 4 for Wednesdays show.

Back to Ticketmaster. I log on and select 4 tickets for Wednesday, enter the stupid captcha phrase and the timer starts again. 15 minutes, 16 minutes. 15 minutes.

I check back in a bit. It's 10 minutes now. I wait a little longer and it reads 6 minutes and it's moving fast. It's down to 2 minutes.

Now I'm stuck watching it. I have to, I'm fully invested at this point.

Bingo - 4 tickets for Wednesday.

And a two minute timer that's counting down. 1:59, 1:58 ......

I select the tickets and am given a fresh new timer of 5 minutes to enter credit card info. I figure no sweat, I'm in now. I'll just enter my credit card info and I'll have 4 tickets.

I open my wallet and find an empty spot where the Platinum card usually sits. I recall my wife used it for something on the Internet and I never took it back. OK, I still have my debit/check card and that works.

I start to fill out the three hundred pieces of information that Ticketmaster requires I get to the double secret security number on the back of the card, flip the card over and discover it is blank.

I have no security code.

Then I recall that this was the card I had replaced at the bank instead of sending away and waiting two weeks. They replaced it on the spot, but about week later a recalled seeing that the little box on the back was blank instead of having three digits in it.

I try forcing it in anyway and fill out the rest of the stupid page.

No-go. They want ALL the information.

The Timer in the corner now reads 3:30, 3:29.....

There is only one thing to do. Call my wife.

Now I have a problem. She has no idea that Gail and I are doing this and I have precious little time left. She is not going to be happy about spending three hundred bucks on tickets. Again.

I call. She answers. We have the following conversation:

Me: GivemethenumberforthePlatinumcard. NOW!
Her: What? What for? I told you that was in my wallet and you could get it anytime.
Me: Just get me the number. Please. Now!
Her: What for?
Me: Springsteen tickets.
The clock reads 3:10
Her: What? We just went to Springsteen.
Me: Justgivemethenumbers I'm on a timer here.
Her: You don't even know how much the Jimmy Buffet Tickets are yet.
Me: Can I have the numbers please?
Her: 4035.......
Me: And the security code
Her: 999.

I fill in the form again while she works it in the background.

Her: I can't do Bruce more than once a year. I can't go back.
Me: You don't have to go. What's the expiration date?
Her: 10/2012

I press submit.

I am the owner of 4 tickets to the30th of Sept show at Giants Stadium. One of the last there.

I figure I can always unload them if I have to. They are like printing money around here.

The week of apologizing continued after work when I got home. I was told "that's OK that is your Fathers day gift".